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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Crazy Love (#BOTB)

If people in the media cannot decide whether they are in the business of reporting news or manufacturing propaganda, it is all the more important that the public understand that difference, and choose their news sources accordingly. ----Thomas Sowell



     My contribution to this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group can be found on my Monday post.   But please do vote on my Battle of the Bands found below.   It's related to the Monday post as well.  

Propaganda As Art

       In my previous post, I discussed how many in today's media have become outlets of propaganda for whatever agenda they are pushing whether it be a political party or whatever.  In my view, much of the blame for the divisiveness in the United States as well as the world is due to the ideological media outlets that masquerade as vehicles to disseminate news and information.  To me this seems like a dangerous trend that will make it more difficult to bring opposing sides to a point of unity where they can work together to get more positive things happening in our society.  The power of informational and ideological propaganda can work as mind control if we aren't careful.

      I am fascinated by much of the anachronistic propaganda of the past such as that of the Nazis, the Soviet Union, and Communist China.  The garishness of the poster art can be visually enticing.  Film propaganda is frequently highly stylistic and arty. The cinematic work of filmmakers such as Leni Riefenstahl who created classic documentaries for Nazi Germany are still admired for the artistry. Despite the arguably insidious nature of the art of propaganda, there can be an appreciation for that which the artists have created when examined aside from the context of the intent of the work.

       As I have written about on my blog Wrote By Rote, I became interested in the propaganda that I used to pick up on shortwave radio broadcasts coming from Radio Havana back when I was in high school in the sixties.  Since that time I have had an interest in Cuba and whatever little information I would hear from time to time coming from that country.  This is why a year or two ago, when I noted that the Cuban sixties propaganda film I Am Cuba was going to be broadcast on TCM, I was drawn to watch it.   I'm glad I did.

        Soy Cuba (I Am Cuba) was released in 1964 to a poor response.   The film was financed by the Soviet Union as a propaganda vehicle to promote the Castro revolution, however the audiences in the Soviet Union and Cuba largely rejected it and it was mostly forgotten until "rediscovered"  and show at the Telluride Film Festival in 1992.  The film was championed by U.S. directors, including Martin Sorcese and Francis Ford Coppola, who rallied for restoration and re-release.  The film has since been screened at a number of film festivals and events receiving wide accolades.

        What interested me most about the film was seeing the Havana and Cuba of the early sixties and how the revolution was seen through the eyes of the people who fought and lived through it.  Scenes in the film show how Havana retained some capitalistic vestiges of the past.  The one sequence that especially blew me away was a superbly shot musical number by a couple of musicians singing a song that made me search online until I found it.  I was shocked to discover that the song had been written and originally performed by Paul Anka when still in his teens.

          The film I Am Cuba looks like it could have been done by Fellini or David Lynch.  It was shot in black and white often using some innovative camera techniques.  The musical number that caught my attention used the 1958 Paul Anka hit "Crazy Love" song performed in Spanish by two musicians strolling through a nightclub setting with the camera following them.  The sequence is surreal and aloof like a dream.  When I found the clip on YouTube I knew I had the makings of a good Battle.

           The match I found for this Cuban version is one by a Serbian recording star with a name I won't even try to pronounce.  This version is a raunchy slow rock version complete with searing saxophones and a solid backup band driven by a steady piano tinkling away along with the beat. So let's have a Battle of the Bands!

Battle of the Bands

Battle of the Bands is the blogging event started by Far Away Series and now hosted by StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens twice each month on the 1st and 15th.   The premise is simple:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action.

Paul Anka  "Crazy Love"  (1958)

          "Crazy Love" was Paul Anka's sixth single which charted at #15 in the United States.  Anka was a teen singing sensation at that time, but he is now perhaps most notably known as a songwriter with standards like "My Way".   He has appeared in numerous movies and television shows and continues to perform as a singer.   I'm offering his version for those who want to hear what the original sounded like.   But please don't cast your vote for this version.

For reference only!!!   Do not vote for this version!!!

Here are your voting choices:

Miki Jevremović   "Crazy love"  (1962)

       Serbian singer Miki Jevremović was born in Belgrade in former Yugoslavia in 1941, Miki achieved his greatest popularity during the sixties and seventies with numerous hits in his native country as well as recognition in other countries as well.  He died of a stroke in January of this year.

Dúo Los Diablos     "Loco Amor"  ("Crazy Love")  1964

         This group consists of Sammy and Richard, two artists that played through the years with a number of popular Cuban bands.  They changed their names in the early sixties to reflect the artists who had inspired them and most influenced their styles--Sammy Davis, Jr and Little Richard.  Sammy continued to perform until he died in 2014.  In his 70's, Richard stilled lived in Havana according to the article that I resourced which was published in 2014.  

         If you've got the time to watch the video, it's pretty cool cinematography.  But just listening to the music is a real treat especially if you're a fan of that musical era.


Time To Vote!

        These might sound strange to you--maybe even a bit crazy, but hopefully you have an opinion of some kind.  Which version do you like the best?   Surely one version drove you less crazy than the other.

        Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the version you chose. Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around. And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours.

Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands



'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

The Doglady's Den 

Angel's Bark  

Cherdo on the Flipside  

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 

Winner Announced on Wednesday March 8th

       I'll tally up votes on Tuesday the 7th and be back here on the next day with the winner of this Battle.   On Monday the 6th I'll show up with some kind of post.   I haven't decided what yet and, who knows, I might forget to post on that day.  Whatever happens, happens.

        Do you like propaganda art?   What are some favorite propaganda films that you might have seen?   Have you ever written a story that you might feel is propagandist in some way?

Monday, February 27, 2017

Media Is Making Us Crazy

People hear what they want to hear, or say they heard what they want to believe was said.
---I guess I said this in this way.

English: museum of communism in Prague Deutsch...
 museum of communism in Prague Deutsch: "museum of communism" in Prag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

        Mainstream media continually attempts to brainwash their audience into accepting that everything they (the mainstream media) say is undeniable truth and is ultimately not only what that audience should believe, but ultimately what that audience in their heart of hearts wants to believe.   And those who consume a limited amount of sources that are skewed mostly toward one bias or another will become hardliners regarding whatever bias they primarily hear.

       Watching the "evening news" is not what it once was with networks now being tentacles of the leftist liberal agenda.  In earlier days of television, the audience was limited to a short window of information dissemination with little time for analysis and commentary.  In our time it often seems that we are delivered far less hard information and a seemingly never-ending stream of opinions and editorializing.  We don't even have to think for ourselves because the media spokespersons tell us what we should think.  No wonder so many people seem to be a bit bonkers as they parrot the words they constantly hear from the media.

       Recently, the hosts of MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' were discussing President Trump's efforts to "undermine the media."  Co-host Mika Brzezinski indicated her concern that President Trump was  trying to shape the thinking of the public through his tweeting and public comments.

        "He is trying to undermine the media and trying to make up his own facts," she said about Trump. "And it could be that while unemployment and the economy worsens, he could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think. And that, that is our job," she noted, referring to the media.
 Real Clear Politics

          Univision's Jorge Ramos anchors nightly news heard by millions of Spanish speaking viewers.  He is a  journalist as well as a self-proclaimed activist and advocate who stands up for his cause thus dividing Spanish-speaking Americans from their counterparts.  He has become a self appointed spokesman of Latino interests which is another dangerous foray into media mind-control of a specific segment of those living within the U.S. borders.  A great deal of the dissent within the Latino community against President Trump can most likely pinpointed on Ramos and his cohorts.  Not good for unifying America.

         What we are dealing with is essentially propaganda attempting to sway minds in one direction or the other.  Though this has always been a tool of the free press, now more than ever, with 24/7 television news/information broadcasting, we are bombarded with opinion and unfortunately that opinion is skewed by facts reported as the networks want us to hear them.

         Here lies the problem:  If we aren't taking in more than one of these "news" sources and processing what we hear through the filter of rational thinking, then we are merely proselytes of the cult of the single-minded media outlet.

          For example, I'll point to my favorite nemesis of leftist promulgation--CNN.  This was my favorite cable news channel in the eighties, but it was also perhaps the only one at the time, or at least the first one of which I became aware.  Back then it was news reporting all day every day and it was fascinating.  I don't recall ever seeing the analysis with opinions and editorializing like they have now.  I'm not sure when it became what it is now, but it seems that every time I tune in to CNN--which is with relative frequency though never for very long--all I hear is an extreme anti-conservative message.  I was rather surprised, and pleased, to see Ben Stein recently on CNN ripping into the network for their excessive negative anti-Trump messaging.  Now if only CNN would heed Stein's advice.

         If someone only watches CNN or other similar outlets, they are going to eventually develop a highly skewed and mentally unhealthy view of the world.  When I read some of the anti-Trump blog or Facebook posts, what I'm receiving is a mimicry of those biased network litanies of lies, misinformation, and distortions.  Too much of anything can make you sick.  Too much untruth and bias can warp your mind.  It can make you crazy.  And this is pretty much what we've been seeing happening all around us.   The world is going nuts and to a great extent I blame the media.  Where else do we get the information about what's going on in the world?

Insecure Writer's Support Group

       Since Insecure Writer's Support Group day coincides with Battle of the Bands this month I'm posting a couple days early.  My posts tend to get overly long as it is without my combining posts together.  As has been the case with my posts, I'm going to tie in this #IWSG post with my current blog theme.

         Join us on the first Wednesday of each month in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group--a forum of writers who gather to talk about writing and the writer's life. For a complete list of participants visit Alex's Blog

Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

          Not my original story, but I have used old stories to inspire my own stories.  There was no publication involved, but I feel that some of those stories have been fairly worthy ones.  My sources have sometimes come from stories in the Bible reworked in modern settings.  Other writers have done this as well with varying degrees of success.  Seems like using a time-honored story such as one from the Bible or Shakespeare would be a sure winner, but this can result in massive failure.  Heavy-handed messaging or being overly obvious in presentation can make for a story that is more silly and distracting than not.

          Bad propaganda often comes from bad story-telling.   Sloganeering and repetive ideas can become burdensome to the point causing a reader to reject what is attempted to be conveyed rather than embracing the story.  Those who embrace those kinds of stories are probably a bit off their rockers anyway.   Maybe they watch too much CNN. 

           Do you think messaging from mainstream media is mostly or at least partly responsible for much of the discontent we are currently seeing in the United States and elsewhere?  Do you think there are many new stories left or are all stories reworkings of previously told stories?   Are there any propagandistic works of literature that you have particularly enjoyed?  

Friday, February 24, 2017

Why I Am the Funniest Guy in the Whole World

"Humor is something that thrives between man's aspirations and his limitations. There is more logic in humor than in anything else. Because, you see, humor is truth." - Victor Borge

       I'm convinced that I am the funniest guy in the whole world.  Why?  I'm the funniest guy because I'm the smartest guy in the world.  Not to say I'm more intelligent than some physicists, doctors, brilliant scholars, or any learned erudite individuals such as that.   There are many vocational abilities like auto mechanics, computer technology, or plumbing that I don't know much of anything about.  However, I could learn anything I wanted to learn if I so desired because I am so brilliant.

       My absolute brilliance is what makes me so funny.  You might as well accept that I'm smarter than you are.  Smarter than anyone anywhere is.

        Take for example some bearded pseudo-intellectual who looks like he could be a college professor or some bogus intelligentsia phony like that.  Sure, he might write or talk a good game that might cause some folks to believe he's brilliant because he thinks he's brilliant.   Forget it.  Not as smart as I am and nowhere near being as funny even when he tries.

         Or what about that new age globalist thinking so and so who thinks science has all the answers and she has attained some kind of moral superiority to others she sees as lesser to her though she might try to portray herself as equal to all.  Some might ooh and aah over her smooth written words, but any really smart person is not really fooled by that nonsense.  I mean, it's all okay--nice and all, but kind of a bore.

         There are smart and funny people in the world, but really no one smarter and funnier than I am.  I don't have to do anything to prove it.  Facts are facts. Alternate facts are even facts albeit they are alternate.  Some who read this might be annoyed by what I'm saying here, but if you're annoyed it might be because you don't get it.  Or maybe you're taking it all too seriously.  Lighten up--I'm hilarious and you know it.  Even if you don't immediately recognize it.

        The best humor is not often immediately understood because it requires deep long thought.  Or maybe not long and deep, but perceptive consideration.  Perceptivity is not something that comes natural to everyone.  Not if literal thinking about everything you hear gets in the way.  We can see this in a good many journalists on an everyday basis if you watch television mainstream news.  They are funny without thinking or realizing they're funny and they don't fully comprehend a lot of stuff they absorb because of overly literal thinking.  On the other hand, I get it because I am brilliantly perceptive.

        Anyone who doesn't realize that I'm amazingly funny is reading me the wrong way.  Or more likely they're not reading at all, but merely skimming through.  If you're skimming through this piece for example, you're liking missing the xjafadisg that I'm talking about here.  If you are reading with even casual care, that is, to the extent of comprehending part, but maybe not all of what I'm saying, then you might be getting it--or maybe there will be a delayed reaction.

        You might wake up tonight or in the wee hours of the dark morning chucking about this post.  Or you might find yourself laughing out of nowhere ten years from now and then suddenly realize it's because of what Arlee said in this current post.  Or even when you are in the far reaches of old age lying on your death bed finally getting what I once said, you might burst out laughing to the astonishment of loved ones gathered around your bedside as you vaguely recollect the gist of what has been written in this post.  Even if you don't remember exactly that it was this blog post or it was me who had said what was said here.   What a great satisfaction for me if you were to literally die laughing because of something I said so many years before.  I'll likely already be dead too, but it would still be a smile on my face if I knew it happened.

      Now, what I'm saying might not really be what you think you are reading.  In fact I might not even totally fathom the extent of my words in this blog post.  Just because I'm brilliant doesn't necessarily mean that I know everything immediately, but it only means I know more than you.  I am truly funny.   Hilarious.  Humor beyond all human comprehension.  Laughable I know, but because it's so brilliant you will eventually get the joke.  Even if you die arriving at the punchline.

       My guess is that someone reading this is irritated and annoyed, thinking, "What a pompous ass this Arlee Bird is."   Some guy somewhere is probably stroking his beard in perplexity, almost angry and brimming with frustration, knowing that I'm probably right--no, not probably, but he knows I am absolutely correct and there's nothing he can do to forget my words, until one day sad and misty eyed he will began to slightly smile and then burst into uproarious laughter that purges his sorrow and opens his heart to the complete awareness of the regret he has never understood until that brief uproariously funny moment when he realizes that the funniest guy in the world was me, Arlee Bird.

     Arlee Bird--The funniest, the smartest, the most acutely aware guy in the world.  And perhaps the most delusional.  But by then it all comes together as the beautiful most perfect delusion that brings laughter to all the world even though no one yet hears that laughter.

      If a joke falls upon an empty brain, does anyone laugh?

      Did this post annoy you, anger you, perplex you, or make you feel anything at all?  What has been the most inappropriate moment of your life when you found something to be funny?   Do you feel that posts like I have written here are a waste of time?   Are you going to waste your time watching the Academy Awards? 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

So Many People Going Out of Their Heads! (#BOTB Results)

That is one of most vitriolic statements I've heard in a long time. You've just outed yourself for what you really are. You are an angry old white man. That can't stand either the liberal agenda, or anybody that can. You truly are not the man I thought you were, and I'm done with you.
--comment received on a recent post at TOSSING IT OUT.

Angry Penguin
Angry Penguin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
     In recent months--certainly since shortly after Donald Trump announced his candidacy and I hinted my support for him as president-- a few followers have been trickling away from my blog while others have expressed a distaste for my support of Trump.  No problem there since disagreement, so long as it is respectful and healthy, is something I think we can and should all accept without getting whipped into a frenzy.

       However, after the election when Trump won and it was fairly known that I had voted for him, there has been some crazy reaction to me and to some of my blog posts, which I have tried to present with a sense of intentional calm and rationality.  It seems those on the opposition side to mine can say whatever they wish in any disrespectful way they wish while what I say or what others on my side of the fence might say is met with anger and vituperation.  It all seems a bit unhinged to me, but what's a blogger to do?

     Though I haven't unfollowed any blogs, there are a few that I no longer bother to read for one reason or another which probably works to my advantage from the standpoint of using my time wisely.  If a blogger does leave a comment on my site then I will visit their blog and usually leave a comment--that is, unless they've left a comment like the one that opened this post.  I don't want to rile anyone any more than they've already been riled.  If I do visit a blog and don't leave a comment then that would be highly unusual for me, but it would also mean that there was nothing for me to respond to--and this from a blogger who will typically even respond to a post about knitting or something that I don't do or know nothing about.

            And then there are those comments on my posts that seem genuine and intelligent to which I will leave thought out and often extensive replies which I don't know whether they have been seen or not because there is no further response from the blogger who left the original comment.   But more on that come Friday's post...

Battle of the Bands Results!

            My most recent Battle of the Bands contest featuring renditions of the classic Little Anthony and the Imperials song "Goin' Out of My Head" did not turn out quite like I expected.  I thought there was far more disco hate out there, but I guess when put up against an eccentric sounding La Lupe, disco rules. The Queen of Latin Soul in this match was no contest when put up against a queen of disco.

        It was kind of close deciding for me, but the disco string section wins me over more than percussive Latin horns, which I do have an affinity for though not enough to sway my vote in this match up.  And in agreement with most of you voting in this round, Gloria Gaynor's voice was more appealing than the--how do I put it?--the slightly kooky vocal styling of La Lupe.  I never really got on board with that "Disco Sucks" movement and I still enjoy hearing the danceable music that I don't normally dance to.  Sorry Lupe, you were kind of fun, but your version didn't have the appeal for me that Gloria did.

 Final Vote Tally

Gloria Gaynor     19

La Lupe               2


Next Battle of the Bands on Wednesday March 1st

       My next Battle will be continuing on somewhat the same theme as this previous Battle with a bit of an international flair.   It's a well-known American artist's pop hit from the sixties that seemed to have caught the attention of the world with renditions coming from somewhat unexpected places.  It's another "crazy" tune that will tie in with my post that will appear on Monday February 27th.   Before that Monday post though, I'll try to push the envelope a bit more with an absurd post on Friday that might mostly bug some bloggers who might not see it.  But what the heck--I've started stirring the pot so I might as well finish the stew.

        Have any of my posts ticked you off a bit, but not enough to run you off yet?   Do you come back to a comment thread to see if a blogger has responded to a comment that you've left that has included questions?     I doubt whether you can do it, but would you like to venture a guess as to my next song choice for BOTB?