Good-Bye, 2016: Year-End Round-Up

Well, this year is drawing to a close. In some parts of the world, it is already 2017. It isn’t quite noon in my neck of the woods, however, so there are still 13 hours left in what has been a year of sorrow. Still, it has had many joyful moments – for me and mine, at least!
I’m thankful to have not suffered any personal losses; for the health problems some of my family members have, they are still here – and I’m very happy and grateful for that. So, I’m starting off with the celebrity deaths that impacted me the most, which is my disclaimer for not mentioning every single one who passed – it’s quite a long list as it is, and I dedicated entire blog-posts to the most notable ones.

Natalie Cole: technically, she passed away on 31 December 2015, but her death wasn’t announced until 1 January of this year – so, I’m including her in the list. She was a phenomenal singer, and I loved the posthumous duet she did with her father, the late, great, Nat “King” Cole – the song “Unforgettable.”

David Bowie: A fantastic man, in my estimation. I loved his singing and his acting, and was shocked to hear of his passing on 10 January, a mere two days after his 69th birthday. He battled cancer quietly and privately, putting out an epic album during that time.

Monte Irvin: A great athlete and baseball player, who nearly broke the “colour barrier” in Major League Baseball before Jackie Robinson did, passed away on 11 January. He played seven seasons with the New York Giants, served as MLB’s first Black executive, and was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Alan Rickman: A fantastic actor, best known for his role as Professor Severus Snape in the “Harry Potter” films, but also played roles in “Die Hard” and “Robin Hood: the Prince of Thieves.” He died on 14 January.

Dan Haggerty: The man who was “Grizzly Adams,” a show that I watched regularly when I was a child. The rugged, bearded, gentle giant roaming the forests and mountains with his bear companion, was always something to look forward to. He died of cancer on 15 January.

Jimmy Bain: The former bassist for Dio and Rainbow, died over the weekend of 22 – 24 January. I thoroughly enjoyed the music of both bands, and his bass-playing stood out in nearly every song that they played.

Abe Vigoda: The character actor best known for his roles in the movie “The Godfather,” and roles in television such as “Fish” and “Barney Miller,” died on 26 January at the age of 94.

Maurice White: One of the founding members of the fantastic group Earth, Wind, and Fire, died on 3 February. Their music was played often on the radio while I was growing up – one of many bands that influenced my musical tastes during my childhood and pre-teen years.

Keith Emerson: Musician, keyboardist and composer, best known for being one of the founders of the progressive rock supergroup Emerson, Lake & Palmer. He gained international notice for his work with the Nice, which included writing rock arrangements of classical music. He passed away on 11 March.

Prince (b. Prince Rogers Nelson): Fantastically versatile, a true genius of a performer. He was a singer and songwriter, a talented multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and actor. His music was what I listened to quite a bit during my pre-teens, “teens-ages,” and early 20s. An iconic titan who only stood 5’3″, yet was head and shoulders above many other musicians during his time, in my estimation. He was taken far too soon, passing away on 21 April from an accidental overdose of Fentanyl, a powerful opioid-based painkiller. His death, and that of David Bowie, hit me the hardest.

Muhammad Ali (b. Cassius Clay): Boxing titan, named “Sportsman of the Year” by Sports Illustrated, and known worldwide as the greatest heavyweight champion. He was the youngest person to take the title away from a reigning champion, and soon after winning the title, he converted to Islam and changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali, which was a controversial move that drew the ire and hatred of most whites – even in this day and age. He died on 3 June.

Attrell Stephen Cordes, Jr.: Musician, singer, rapper, songwriter, and record producer, best known as the lead vocalist of the group P.M. Dawn, going by the stage name Prince Be. He was the frontman and lyricist for that excellent group, blending rap with singing, and adding ethereal beats and aspects of mysticism and crypto-Christian imagery to his songs. Both he and his band were “underappreciated and quietly influential,” according to the New York Times. I agree with, and can relate to that, 10,000%! He died 17 June. The song “You Got Me Floatin'” is done by P.M. Dawn, and is featured on the album Stone Free: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix.

Bernie Worrell: Massively talented keyboardist and composer. He was one of the founders of Parliament-Funkadelic, who also did work with the Talking Heads, and died on 24 June. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.

Gene Wilder (b. Jerome Silberman): One of the funniest men I’ve ever had the joy of seeing on the big (and small) screen. I first saw him in “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” when I was a kid, and he epitomized that role to perfection. He was a film and theatre actor, screenwriter, director, and author. Later on, after the death of his third wife, comedienne Gilda Radner, he became very active in promoting cancer awareness and treatment, founding an association in her name. He died on 29 August.

Gwen Ifill: A phenomenal, inspirational woman! She was an American Peabody-award winning journalist, newscaster, and author. She was the first African-American woman to host a nationally televised U.S. public-affairs program with Washington Week in Review, and was the moderator and managing editor of Washington Week. She also co-anchored PBS NewsHour, and was the co-managing editor of that program. Her best-selling book is Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. She died on 14 November.

Sharon Jones: Soul and funk singer, best known as the lead singer of the group Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, who were based in Brooklyn, New York. Fame found her later in life than many singers, male or female, but she made herself well-known during that brief, shining moment. She died from complications of cancer on 18 November.

Greg Lake: Bassist, guitarist, singer, songwriter, and producer. He gained prominence as a founding member of the progressive rock bands King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. He wrote the ELP hit song “Lucky Man” at the age of 12, and became a full-time musician at the age of 17. He died of cancer on 7 December.

Yes, I know…there are many others who I’ve probably missed due to all of the hectic political nonsense of this year, but I did say that I was listing the people who had an impact or influence on me and in my life!
On the personal level, 2016 was relatively quiet. Tightening up our budget and making house repairs cut into any long-distance travel, but we managed to make it to my very first convention: PAX West 2016 in Seattle, Washington! It was fun to attend, crowds notwithstanding, because I got the chance to meet some of the people behind the scenes of the game that I’m unashamedly obsessed with: The Elder Scrolls Online. I took tons of pictures, got my face and character avatar on their live Twitch broadcast, and geeked out in general! I don’t get to do that often, so I enjoyed myself more than I expected to. I definitely need to get some sort of cosplay gear ready for the next time…yes, there will be a ‘next time!’

As far as resolutions, I have none. I never really make resolutions anyway, because as far as I’m concerned, resolutions are a daily thing. For example, learning something new on a regular basis is something that I strive for. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is also a good habit, which allows me to indulge in decadent food or drink from time to time…I don’t believe in self-denial, LOL! So, why make a resolution once per year? It’s more satisfying, for me, to be resolute every day.

With that, I’m turning on the end-of-year jukebox, so crank it up and rip off the knob! Here are my 10 selected songs to ring in 2017. Enjoy, stay safe, don’t drink and drive, don’t text and drive…hell, just don’t drive! I’ll talk at you all next year – later, ‘gators!

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Happy New Year 2017!

For those of you who are already celebrating 2017, and for those of us who are still waiting to pop the cork on our bottle of choice…Happy New Year!
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African-American Billionaire Robert Smith Offers Full Scholarships for Education of Chibok Girls Who Escaped Boko Haram

This is some of the best news that I’ve heard all year…I’m very glad for this!

Here’s hoping that the rest of the girls and young women will be returned soon – today marks 992 days in captivity for the ones who remain with their captors.

GOOD BLACK NEWS

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (C) poses on October 19, 2016 with the 21 Chibok girls who were released by Boko Haram last week, at the State House in Abuja, Nigeria. Speaking at the presidential villa in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja, Buhari addressed the girls and their families saying ‘we shall redouble efforts to ensure that we fulfil our pledge of bringing the remaining girls back home’. (AFP/Philip OJISUA)

article by Mfonobong Nsehe via forbes.com

American billionaire Robert Smith has offered to sponsor the education of 24 girls from the Chibok community, including the 21 girls who escaped from Boko Haram captivity in October this year.

Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to Nigeria’s President, announced this on Tuesday during a media briefing with journalists at the State House in Abuja, according to the News Agency of Nigeria. Shehu said that the girls will be admitted…

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Happy Final Friday of 2016!

I’m putting the finishing touches on my post for New Year’s Eve, for all of the good it will do – that’s the price I pay for being a touch of a perfectionist, but no harm done, there. It’s not something all gooshy-mushy, or full of woe, or a massive pity-party. It’s just your average, run-of-the-mill, end-of-year post!

I found some good music for this final Friday of 2016, so I figured I’d share it – hey, some of us started celebrating early, LOL! New Year’s Eve on a weekend is a good thing, I think. Talk at you all tomorrow!

Excerpt: Day of Departure

Author’s note: This is another excerpt from my NaNoWriMo story. I think these will be done at least once per week, now that I can sit back and edit the story at my leisure!

Endymion hurries to the docks, hoping to see Sepultur’a off on her journey. Since the night of the kiss, he has been busy doing his best to heed the teachings of the forge-master, and even managed to craft a serviceable dagger. He usually gets errands done quickly, but has taken more time recently to talk with the people at the marketplace and glean more information about this local tradition. He has a gift to give the young woman who unexpectedly stole his heart.

The great ship which will carry her off to distant shores is still docked, and a crowd has gathered to see Lord Yazim’s youngest daughter depart. Endymion joins the throng, asking one of the lizard-folk dockworkers if the merchant’s family has arrived. “Not yet,” comes the hissed reply. “They are due at any time, however.” A steady stream of dock-workers carry goods and supplies up a ramp into the bowels of the ship. Most of the goods are being delivered to ports along the way, where they will be traded for foods, materials, and livestock. Other, smaller ships at those ports will deliver the goods that are traded for, while the larger ship will continue on and ensure that Sepultur’a arrives at her destination safely. It will then return to the home port after she takes to horseback.

Sylph has been stabled on board near the other livestock; she is one of few horses that is able to travel by boat, and Sepultur’a will need a good mount when she arrives. Horses are rare and expensive where she’s going, and travel by foot isn’t recommended. Sepultur’a has chosen the most challenging lands to explore, just as Ildris did before her, so a swift, strong steed will be necessary.
The crowd stirs and jostles each other, excitement growing. Endymion turns and cranes his neck; his height makes it easy to see over the milling people, and his mouth hangs open in awe.

The family is coming down the road to the docks, single-file. They are all resplendent in the colours of their house: crimson red and deep, pitch black. Lord Yazim heads the parade; his white-maned black horse bears him proudly forth. He bears the house standard on a halberd – the sharp blade gleams in the sunlight. He is clad in the armour of his people, which is designed to show the waves that used to wash along the shores of the lost islands. They are a people without a home, carving their indelible mark wherever they roam. Yazim’s stern face is battle-scarred, yet striking. He moves his steed forward steadily and confidently, nodding to the people that he passes, acknowledging customers and friends alike. He rides to the end of the plank that leads up to the ship, then turns and faces the crowd, steadying his mount. His eyes glow with affection as his wife canters down the road astride her steel-grey steed.

Lady Zaiher wears flowing crimson robes, riding side-saddle in an elegant, regal manner. An opaque veil covers most of her face, protecting her skin from the blazing sun. Her hair is done in long braids, tied back with silken ribbons and adorned with beads and seashells. Her almond-shaped eyes regard the crowd with care, smiling with genuine happiness. She, too, acknowledges the people she passes, waving at everyone.

Sir Ad-hir af-Atwala, the eldest child and the only son, follows after Zaiher on his own black steed. Zaiher is the only mother he has known, even though she did not bear him and give him life. He has his father’s proud, strong features, but the pale skin and stocky build of his mother. Ad-hir’s hair is bone-straight, where his father’s is a thick, curled mane which drapes over his shoulders like a grand pelt. Ad-hir wears armour which is black and scaled, a tribute to the fish and other sea-creatures that make up the majority of the diet of the sea-farers. He gives a casual wave to the onlookers now and then, nodding and smiling behind his cowl.

Next comes Ad-hir’s wife-to-be, Sonja Troll-breaker. For the occasion, she is clad in robes of lightweight, black silk, and her face is veiled as well. The robe’s silken material clings to her voluptuous form, and her long warrior-locks are adorned with beads carved of bone. The men in the crowd eye her appreciatively, as do some of the women. Most female eyes are filled with envy, however. For her scarred, wild appearance, Sonja is still exceptionally beautiful. She rides proudly on a white stallion, casting a serene gaze over the crowd, her ice-blue eyes a striking contrast to her mahogany-hued skin.

Ildris, being younger than Sonja – and Sonja is a guest of honour – rides next in line on a golden palomino with a white mane, tail, and feet. Her robes are identical to her mother’s, and she wears a veil as well. Her locks are held back from her face by a curved, golden tiara adorned with a single ruby. She smiles and nods politely to the people in the crowd, catching the eyes of many.

Finally, Sepultur’a makes her way down the road to the docks. She is borne in a beautiful chariot carved of ebonwood and painted a glossy black, drawn along by a roan gelding. The wheels and trimmings are the beautiful crimson hue associated with the family, and gleam brightly under the sunlight. The chariot itself resembles the bow of a ship, with a long-necked seabird as the figurehead. The wings of the bird curve back gracefully to form the body of the chariot, the feathers rendered with great detail and care.

She stands tall and proud, lightly holding onto a leather strap to keep her balance in the gently jouncing chariot. Her face is veiled like the other women, and her lithe curves are set off and accentuated by the crimson, silken robes adorning her body. She also bears a halberd from which the family standard flutters, marking her status of the day. This also lets any late-comers know that this is the end of the family parade, and congregating in the streets in her wake is now allowed.

Endymion stares at Sepultur’a intensely and intently, willing her to look his way. She turns his way at that very moment, as if hearing his silent call. Her eyes glow softly as she meets his gaze, as he stands out noticeably amongst the other people. Electricity seems to fill the air as he moves carefully through the crowd, making his way closer to her…

Hark, The Snake Oil Angels Sing!

LOL – I love this! Sheer poetry at its finest…and too damned true!
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SlasherMonster

moneydemons

Hark, the snake oil angels sing!

Russia’s tsar rides on our king.

Bullshit here and beefcake there –

bovine voters everywhere.

Joyful greedheads make stocks rise  –

Rust Belt workers fall for lies.

Hark, the snake oil angels sing!

Russia’s tsar rides on our king.


trumppig

Illustrations

by

Poet Rummager

Poem written

by

Mellow Curmudgeon

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Creeping Up on the New Year…

New Year’s Eve is a couple of days away, so I’m getting a proper post ready for it – out with the old, in with the new! Although, I fear that 2017 will be more of the same as we had in 2016…but far worse for many of us here in the USA. It is what it is, though! Poop doth occur – over, and over, and over again!

Here are three good songs for this Thursday. It’s time for my workout! Afterwards, I’m going to make a nice pot of chicken soup – after showering, of course – then it will be time for a bit of gaming, which will be live-streamed if no glitches happen. Otherwise, I’ll try to capture some footage and share it via screen-shots or YouTube…whichever one I can get to work correctly, LOL! Talk at you all later…

NFL MVP Cam Newton Surprises 10 Year-Old Heart Patient Taylor Deckard with Hospital Visit

This, right here…awesome.
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GOOD BLACK NEWS

Star NFL quarterback Cam Newton comforts 10 year-old Taylor Deckard during surprise visit before heart surgery (photo via charlotteobserver.com) Star NFL quarterback Cam Newton comforts 10 year-old heart patient Taylor Austin Deckard during surprise visit before high-risk medical procedure (photo via charlotteobserver.com)

article via blackamericaweb.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — There’s no doubt Cam Newton has a soft spot in his heart for kids.

That was never more evident than this week when the Panthers quarterback surprised a 10-year-old Taylor Austin Deckard, a boy who suffers from advanced pulmonary hypertension, a rare heart condition that requires a high-risk medical procedure to save his life.

The league’s reigning league MVP visited Deckard in an Atlanta children’s hospital Tuesday. Taylor was wearing Newton’s No. 2 Auburn jersey at the time.

When Newton asked him how he was doing, Taylor climbed out of…

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ADVECTION FOG

A bank of fog on a bank of snow…beautiful!

Welcome to Tofino Photography

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I’ve noticed this localized geographic phenomenon before. Notice the mist & where it lays.I’ve seen the same phenomenon occur in the same spot many times. The mist is over a very large area.

Warm air is coming off of the ocean full of moisture.This warm moist air meets the cold mountains,the air chills,dew point is reached & fog happens.The contour of the mountain must focus the air mass. I’d like to see some time lapse.I bet it would move like water.

btw…..thats Ethel singing a song.

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Excerpt from NaNoWriMo: Prologue

Author’s note: This is the prologue of the story I began during NaNoWriMo. I thought that it would be fun to post excerpts from it now and then! I’ve been inspired by today’s New Moon, it would appear.

He starts awake, gasping and choking. Coughing up water, gagging, snorting out sand-filled snot. He raises up on his forearms, struggling to stand…a wave of dizziness hits hard. He collapses helplessly. The crying of gulls is loud in the air…what is that clacking sound? He strains to raise his head – gods, it spins so! Bright light hurts his eyes; he clamps them shut and drags himself forward. His body aches all over. What happened? He can’t dredge up any memory save something from a nightmare…idyllic peace shattered in an instant…

Water lapping, calm seas, joy and general bonhomie as the grand ship cut through the waves on the journey home. Tall, proud son at his side, strong hands on the wheel. Grinning at his father in his good-natured way. Eyes that twinkle in the same way that the young man’s mother’s eyes did, so long ago. Eyes that now turn distant and intent, staring over the father’s shoulder, concern and the hint of fear growing rapidly. “What is that? By the gods – Father, what is that?”

Turning slowly…ever so slowly, as if in a dream…seeing the small island passing on the portside, nine figures cloaked in black garments, screaming foul incantations and dancing wildly, madly…time seems to slow to the cadence of heartbeats. Black clouds gather and roil, coalescing into lumpen shapes that begin to swirl ominously like the funnel-cloud of a tornado.

A helpless form, dressed in rags, hangs unsupported in front of the chanting, dancing worshipers. The chanting rises to a fever pitch as a thunderous sound grows in volume, getting louder by the second. The ugly noise travels through the ground and the water, seemingly filling the air itself with its oppressive presence. All on board the ship clap hands to ears; some fall to their knees, others writhe in agony.
A circle flashes into view above the chanting forms – a beam of light shoots down, vaporizing the ragged sacrifice. The chanters are washed with that hideous, sickly light; eyes ablaze, they turn as one, facing the ship. Waves suddenly churn – the ship plunges and whirls in unseen eddies. Massive chains drop from the circle in the sky, smashing into the tiny island. They lock into place and pull taut…the ground shakes from the impact, and the waves increase in intensity. The lookout in the crow’s nest is flung into the wild sea, screaming as he falls. Water washes across the deck, slamming helpless bodies into gunwales and tossing others to the waves.

The man reaches out, grabbing his unconscious son as they slide across the wet wooden planks. He desperately clutches at a flapping end of rope in an attempt to arrest forward motion, to no avail – the ship lurches madly as another freak wave heaves it to starboard. He’s falling…the side of the ship looms close. He strikes his shoulder on something…he loses his grip on his son. The cold water envelops him in an icy embrace. Shouts and screams are close, some growing faint and ceasing altogether. He tries to get his bearings by exhaling a stream of bubbles and following their trail.

He breaks the surface of the water. His eyes see the huge chains locked into the earth, but his mind still doesn’t register it as being real. Thunder rumbles continuously; the white light spins madly in the center of the circle, the clouds are black and ominous as they seem to be sucked into the spinning light. Creatures from the imagination of a mad god drop from the circle, summoned by the chanting, dancing worshipers. Their fell magics are directed at the sky, the water, and the now-sinking ship. The incessant waves have taken their toll and the port side has been stove in from some unseen impact.

“No…please…” he gasps, treading water weakly, still trying to keep his son’s head above the surging waters. Out of nowhere, a powerful arm grabs him around the chest and lifts him onto a couple of floating barrels that are still miraculously lashed together. His son’s limp form soon rests next to him – he is relieved to see that the younger man still breathes strongly. He looks around for his savior, but only sees a saurian tail cutting through the water towards another bit of flotsam. One of the lizard-folk, it appears…he had employed a goodly number of them. His desire for a diverse crew would pay off quite well, today.

The ship is floundering, quite resembling a dying cetacean or sea-serpent struggling and clinging to life. The sails hang in rags from the masts, rent and torn by the screaming winds. Forms, human and non, bob in the waves. Some manage to stay afloat – others tread water weakly, then cease their struggles, then disappear from sight. He turns blurred eyes to the limp form of his son. ‘I’m so tired…I must rest for just a little while…then I can help,’ he thinks. Darkness lays her warm cloak over his eyes and mind, and he floats away.

The clacking sound rouses him again…he knows that he needs to get away from it, but can’t think of why. He carefully moves his arms, stretching them out in front of him and feeling for something sturdy to grasp hold of. Splintered wood. Wet, wadded cloth. A soggy, frayed piece of rope. A hand…he clasps it, but it is cold and doesn’t return his grip. He carefully releases it, not opening his eyes, not wanting to know who it might belong to – or whether it is still even attached to the arm of whomever it belongs to. He needs to focus on survival. Head spinning, he makes minute, painful progress…then passes out again.

Voices call, getting closer. “Did you see that?” “What was it?” “Here! I found someone – come, come!” “Over here…no, that one is done for – mark them with the red cloth so the priests can tend to them once we find all of the survivors.” The sound of scuffing sand gets nearer still. The ugly clacking is so close…too close…sand scuffs harshly, there is a soft thump, and the clacking ceases. He groans softly, twitching his hands in the sand, trying to move. “Here – come, I’ve found another!” The voice, so close…speaking in a familiar language, but with a unique, distinct dialect. A woman’s voice. Hands press his arms and legs; questing fingers probe his shoulder. He lets out a loud gasp of pain, then dissolves into paroxysms of helpless coughing. “Turn him, quickly!” More hands grab him; fingers sweep into his mouth, clearing out sand and spittle. Fingers pull his eyes open – the sunlight is blinding and he tries to squeeze his eyelids shut against the burning intrusion. His head is cradled gently for a moment and a bowl is brought to his lips. “Here…drink this, slowly,” says a soft voice. He parts his lips; warm broth trickles down the side of his face as he swallows. He squints against the light, trying to see who tends to him – all he sees is a light-limned shadow. The broth is good…he relaxes slightly as the pain eases, closing his eyes again. His breath steadies as he falls into a deep, dreamless sleep. He feels nothing as he is transferred to a travois, wrapped in a wool blanket, and has pillows carefully propped behind his head and shoulders. He is lifted to the back of a horse-drawn cart and lain down between two others. The horse grazes quietly nearby; the driver eats his own simple meal, waiting for the order to take the poor souls to the nearby infirmary.

Other injured crewmen have been located. Those who can move on their own do so, heading to the triage tent that was hastily erected by the rescuers. Many of those with the fewest injuries are the lizard-folk, who are telling and re-telling the tale of what befell them as they are tended to by the healers. An elderly, blind priest listens to the recounted disaster, his fingers weaving runes of light in the air before his sightless eyes. His magick-infused writings are being seen in various guilds throughout the land, being transcribed to books, paper, and carved in stone by whichever mage, shaman, witch-king, or wyrd-woman can decipher them. For good or ill, this occurrence is recorded by all with the ability – and the tale spreads swiftly, like a virulent disease.

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