Movie Review of ‘Snowden”: Make the kid a deal and put him to work

I have often thought of Oliver Stone as a brilliant screenwriter, climaxing with the movie Scarface starring Al Pacino.  As a director, I liked JFK and Natural Born Killers—which I thought were very ambitious.  I also liked his movie The Doors for the style of his approach to the subject.  But too often, Stone fizzles out in the second act and his movies never live up to the hype.  Art and activism are tricky bedfellows and most of the time the result just isn’t very good—so when he brought out Snowden just before the 2016 election as an obvious appeal to get a pardon for Edward Snowden stuck in Moscow with his longtime girlfriend unable to return back to the United States due to charges of treason and espionage—I wasn’t all that excited to see it.  However, due to the recent Wikileaks dump from the CIA called Vault 7 I thought it was time to at least see what all the fuss was about and learn the back story of Snowden.  Disappointingly, the last act was flat, as most Oliver Stone movies have been for years where the big payoff sort of sputtered out the moment that Snowden learned that you could turn on a laptop and watch women undressing in their bedrooms.  After that the story was really about a young twenty something who had his sensibilities hurt and had lost his nerve.  A story that was meant to show Snowden as a hero instead showed to me a 29-year-old genius who didn’t know how to handle a veiled threat from the upper levels of the CIA.

When Snowden’s bosses at the CIA let the young contractor know that they had been watching him in his private time he showed a naiveté that couldn’t match his big brain and the two things crashed into each other. Snowden had been given too much access to too much at too early of an age.  That scene based on real life was essentially the moment from the John Grisham novel—The Firm where a bright young prospect is nurtured along by older and wiser mentors only to have them reveal that they have control over every aspect of his life.  It’s essentially a hazing ritual that goes on in just about every place on earth that deals with the flow of money—where gatekeepers want to let someone who might be able to knock them out of a job in a few years, know that they are in control until they decide to hand over the reins.  According to Stone’s movie on Snowden—the kid got cold feet and let his mind erode away his logic.  No, I don’t like that the CIA and FBI are spying on everything we do as Americans, but there is a better way to make the case than what Snowden did out of a neurotic grasp on reality.

One thing that did surprise me was how determined Snowden was to become a special forces trooper, and once he broke his legs joined the CIA. During his entry interview, he was asked what his influences were—artistically, and he stated pretty much verbatim what I would have said, Joseph Campbell, Star Wars, Ayn Rand and Thoreau.  I also didn’t know that Snowden was a pretty straight-laced conservative who didn’t drink or smoke. After the first act I was pretty excited about Edward Snowden—he seemed to me to be a freedom fighter of a reasonable caliber.

But after watching him with his liberal girlfriend who was a sweet girl, but dreadfully naive—then with his co-workers, I realized who the guy was—and he was no hero. He is an excessively smart guy who essentially flew too close to the sun, and his wings melted. Down to earth he fell as The Guardian newspaper from England broke the story which they knew would embarrass the United States who was obviously struggling with a rogue government that had become the Deep State.  There are a lot of parasites out there in the media who want with every fiber of their essence to see any American do anything to embarrass their country even if its justified.  Because they are jealous of America and its reach into and around the world.

Now that the act is done however, there are lessons of plenty to go around. Our intelligence people in the federal government have assumed that everyone wanted to make that deal for security which I illustrated recently in an article about James Comey—and I’m not one of those people.  I don’t need some pinhead in the CIA to protect me from a terrorist.  If I see one, I’ll take care of it—better and cleaner than those idiots.  I practically begged some terrorist in Paris recently to attack me—I was wearing my cowboy hat around a radical poverty-stricken Muslim neighborhood and there were no takers.  These terrorists aren’t nearly as tough as the people in the CIA want to make them out to appear.  The CIA dramatizes everything so that they can get funding and more power—just like everyone else.  And when Snowden was confronted with an invasion of his privacy at the start of the third act of the Stone movie—he should have turned the tables on his bosses.  That would have been the manly thing to do—I would have gathered up pictures of those CIA heads in every compromising position and published them for all to see with even the hint of a threat—instead of overreacting and doing the whole—“I’ll show you” thing and reveal every state secret.  Needless to say, I couldn’t relate to how Snowden handled things in the second part of the film—he went from being very much in control and determined, to being a beaten young man under the emotional manipulation of a liberal girlfriend.   As I said about her, she was sweet and would have been a good match for someone with a fraction of Snowden’s ambitions, and ultimately she likely changed him to the point that he didn’t have the sensibility to work for the CIA anymore seeing people blown up on deserted streets in Syria as designated terrorist cells complete with collateral damage.

The undercurrent of the Snowden film which could have been good—but wasn’t—was that America had no right meddling in other country’s affairs—which of course we do. When other countries don’t solve their own problems, their immigrants come knocking on our doorsteps—so to protect our own nation—we have to go into nations that still entertain socialism, communism, and extreme religions and do what we can to diffuse bad guys planning to harm Americans domestically—and if left alone to their own devices will steal planes and run them into buildings, or bomb us in our many public gatherings as a punishment for embracing capitalism.  Snowden as a conservative changed during the film into something of a millennial crybaby and Stone seized on that aspect of the young man rather than that earlier much more conservative person.  Snowden’s character arch went from something likable to something rather pathetic and I blame the CIA for being second-handers and latching onto the kid so fast because they were essentially out of ideas themselves.

I am all for dismantling the Deep State which was revealed by Snowden and most recently caught manipulating the Presidency of Donald Trump but I’m not willing to throw the baby out with the bath water. If I were Trump I’d make Snowden a deal, I’d prosecute him for sure under Jeff Sessions and make him go through the embarrassment of public scrutiny.  But I’d put him into community service as an intelligence operative for a fraction of the cost of what he’s worth as a brilliant mind for 30 years.  A little freedom cheaply paid is better than rotting in prison, and so long as he’s in Russia, or other places—he’s helping other bad guys out there beef up their personal security and he’s not working on behalf of the United States. With a mind like Snowden—he deserves a second chance not for his benefit, but for the benefit of our country.   But his work would have to be more community service at a low wage instead of being thrown in jail only to be useless.  It’s good to keep enemies close, and Snowden should be in the United States doing work toward the next generation of threats instead of letting people like Oliver Stone make movies like Snowden to support in an indirect way George Soros’ open border network.  Yes, it’s a complicated problem but the solution is very easy.  Make a deal with the kid and put him to work limiting his freedom for decades—and we’ll all be better off.

Rich Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

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‘The Crystal Skull of Canterbury’: A new project born from a lot of passion

I have a new book in development called The Crystal Skull of Canterbury and am looking for a good team for its publication.  One thing I have learned after doing this a few times before is that even the best written pieces of work need a good team to get it to readers.  This book is a little different for me, I came up with the idea during a recent visit to the locations featured in the novel—it’s more of a Bridges of Madison County story except more contemporary and featuring an English countryside because honestly they like to read in that country so why not set the story there—for the target demographic.  I’m a business guy, so I think in those types of terms as a first consideration.  This is just a starting point and the story is as follows:

A NASA contractor whose specialty is in preparing mankind for the long-preserved evidence that will be discovered on Mars ahead of a 2030 mission that life much longer than earth’s existed on the Red Planet, is challenged by a former curator of the British Museum to defend claims made by the contractor regarding the authenticity of the popular Crystal Skull exhibit which attracts so many visitors each year. Dorrington Weingarten sees the opportunity as positive publicity for the museum in London, but on a deeper level resents NASA’s Ian Davenport’s theories on the origin of mankind and the revolutionary following that he has been brewing in the United States which stands in stark contrast to the scientific positions established by England’s heritage.

Ian accepts the challenge and during his travels to London and eventually into the ancient streets of Canterbury where a romance brews between he and the curator’s wife–he isn’t just an eccentrically brilliant scientist—he’s determined to crack old Dorrington for reasons that confound everyone whom he refers to as the Crystal Skull of Canterbury. He sees in Dorrington Weingarten the modern embodiment of the wounded Grail King from King Author’s legends and he has set in mind to solve a riddle that has nearly destroyed Dorrington’s wife now madly in love with Ian.  What results is a proposed answer to T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land and Wofram Von Exchenbach’s Parzival contained within the elusive life of a man who did everything right his whole life—except for the things that really matter.  A man drowning by his own success, who had everything but lost it through the years without even knowing it.  But can he be saved, can the Crystal Skull of Canterbury be cracked?  It is a job that may be out of reach for the multitalented Ian Davenport who for the first time in his life may have found something he cannot do as an unconventional romance soon engulfs him as well with emotions new to him. For all his life Ian had avoided life in the Waste Land, but now a siren song beacons him from another man’s wife and the lure to surrender to it is strong—too strong. 

I’d like to keep the page count down although it’s a story with many twists and turns—and emotional complexity. I’m targeting women over 40 with this work first in England then in the United States.  It additionally attaches itself to the modern paradox of the many theories coming from the Ancient Aliens viewer base popularly shown on The History Channel and embraces new scientific concerns relevant to the next decade giving this story staying power as a mass market paperback.  The primary purpose for me was a promise I made to a nice old lady in Ashford, England who was kind enough to give me a very nice meal while my family was in route to Paris.  She asked me what I liked most about the English people, I told her it was that they still liked to read and bought lots of books.  I told her I planned to help show more Americans why they needed to become more literate.  She then pressed me on what I was planning to do specifically about it.  I thought for a moment because I assumed we were just making small talk, then I told her that I’d write a novel that was so good that people would want to read it, and bookstores would see an uptick in sales and therefore hopefully inspire others to do the same so that the industry as a whole could become stronger—in a business sense, and as a general philosophy.  She said OK, we sipped some tea, and  here I am doing it.  I always keep my promises.

Rich Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

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Defending the Cincinnati Zoo: Raw footage of the gorilla attack and the reason it had to be killed

I wasn’t going to say anything about this because I love the Cincinnati Zoo and it was really difficult for them to have to shoot one of their prime gorillas when a four-year old boy fell down into their very nice exhibit over Memorial Day weekend.  Unfortunately most of the news outlets did not show how violent the gorilla had been to the little boy cutting out the harshest moments.  At times the gorilla looked to be protective of the child, and he likely was.  But, things can turn nasty in a moment and anybody who knows anything about animals like these types of gorillas understands that once a human being is in a closed exhibit with a much stronger creature that trouble is highly probable.  So here is the original footage to add context to the situation.

The Cincinnati Zoo is one of the best in the world and I commend the team on staff who had to make an incredibly difficult decision that will cost them greatly.  I don’t blame the mother, I don’t blame the kid, and I certainly don’t blame the zoo.  It was just something that happens and the value of such zoo exhibits are worth the danger.  It is really our responsibility as a human species to respect the dangerous tendency of all animals and not to provoke them.  Below is another example of an aggressive gorilla at another exhibit which might better explain why the Cincinnati Zoo felt they needed to act so quickly.  Notice that when the child beats on its chest in the reflection on the window glass, the gorilla took that as a challenge and attacked the glass—cracking it.

Here is the same exhibit where the same two gorillas got into a sudden fight in front of the spectators.  Listen to the stupid comments of the visitors.  The best thing a zoo can do is protect everyone the best they can and use the profit generated to help save more animals around the world.  For the best experience, zoos try very hard to put visitors as close to the natural habitat of the animals.   But danger is inherit, and that slight threat should always be present in the back of our minds while visiting.   Sometimes in Sea World when dealing with killer whales, people get killed.  And sometimes when dealing with dangerous gorillas bad things happen.

However, it’s important to have these exhibits for both the animals and the humans who visit so that our species can learn something from them.  They need our protection and we need to understand their nature.  When bad things happen, we all need to shrug it off and get to the next day.  The best thing you could do dear reader is to support your local zoo for the service they provide.  And if you live in Cincinnati like I do, make sure to throw a little money in their direction every now and then.  They are some of the best in the business and losing a gorilla is a great loss to them—and they need your support, not your criticism.  Zoos aren’t day cares.  They need to be respected as well as enjoyed.  So treat them that way and visit the Cincinnati Zoo as often as you can.

Rich Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

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Life on the Moon: The ancient past and modern activity of alien life above our heads

I don’t say things until I’ve considered the evidence intently and one of the reasons I’ve been most insistent to write The Curse of Fort Seven Mile with an emphasis of late is because of a realization that I’ve discovered through quite a lot of research.  These rumors of some type of life on the Moon of our earth have some weight to them.  From the 1976 book written by George Leonard Somebody Else Is on the Moon (linked below) compelling evidence from actual NASA photographs open the topic profoundly.  It’s an expensive book to get, but well worth it.  Additionally I think it is the remarks of the astronauts who have actually walked on the moon, people like Edger Mitchell and Buzz Aldren who have provided such virtuous testimony—some intentionally, some not so much so.  The evidence points more to the fact that there are constructions on the moon that shouldn’t be there and that there is presently, or has been, an alien race active on its surface.  If you can’t afford the old Leonard book feel free to watch these following videos for some supportive evidence to the fact.

http://www.amazon.com/Somebody-Else-Moon-Artifacts-Leonard/dp/1499250797/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1462071157&sr=1-2&keywords=ulos+unidentified+lunar+objects

One of my first big memories as a kid was visiting the Neal Armstrong museum at Wapakoneta, Ohio while my family went on a trip to Put-in-Bay—I was around four years old.  Years after that, my class went on a field trip to the museum there while in grade school and I oddly enough remembered  most everything because I had been there before.  I was the kid who always read the literature on the exhibits, so I felt very much at home compared to the other kids who had seen the place for the first time.  Armstrong was a professor at the University of Cincinnati—which was in my hometown and his life occurred very much around me—and I was aware of that growing up.  Aviation was born around me as well, so I’ve always taken some pride in the Wright Brothers and old test pilots like Neal Armstrong who was obviously the first person to walk on the moon—at least that we know of.  What always bothered me about Armstrong was that he had turned inward after the experience.  He wasn’t like Buzz Aldren—Armstrong didn’t relish the celebrity of being the first man on the moon—he had a secret which he avoided talking about and obviously took to his death.

Given Armstrong’s Midwestern roots, I think the guy didn’t like lying to people about what he saw on the moon when NASA switched to a private broadcast while he and Buzz were standing on the surface in July of 1969.  I was one year old at the time and my parents were standing me up in front of the television to see the event.  All I remember of the occurrence was the shape of the ship and the sounds of the transmissions which I recognized at the museum years later in Wapakoneta.  I didn’t understand the context at the time, but the layers of memory solidified it in my thinking for years to come.  While everyone was impressed that mankind was standing on the moon, Armstrong had confirmed much of what NASA wanted to see, which wasn’t filmed with cameras that were made public.  We were not alone—not by a long shot—and it haunted him for the rest of his life—apparently.

I’ve talked about the moon before, there are several things not right with it—it’s a little too perfectly positioned and it is locked in a type of orbit around the earth that never shows its far side.  That is a little weird as well.  And apparently on the far side there are even more strange photographs of things that should not be there if Neil Armstrong was truly the first life form to ever walk on the surface.  This of course has led to a lot of speculation through science fiction but those entries into are rooted in fact.  For me the most compelling evidence is that we have not returned—and neither has any other country.  The technology is clearly available to us now, yet we aren’t going back after those initial Apollo missions.  Some of the astronauts involved in the Apollo missions are now very supportive of alien life in space even if they do preserve their disclosures agreements with NASA which is after all a government agency which thinks it knows best how to preserve the religions and social order of the society it is supposed to serve.

Just a few miles south of where the Wright Brothers ran their bicycle shop which invented aviation the bones of an undocumented giant species of man was found in Miamisburg—one very large skeleton at a gravel quarry near the Great Miami River and the other under a large tree which was uprooted at a farm which bordered the mysterious Miamisburg mound complex.  Strangely enough, Hanger 18 which housed the wreckage of the Roswell crash was also nearby and to prevent proper excavation of the Miamisburg site by archaeologists and anthropologists a nuclear weapon facility was built on the land called Mound Laboratories.  That certainly stopped any real research into the region by credentialed scientists.  I currently live on the banks of the Great Miami River south of that Miamisburg site, so all these conspiracy stories have been with me for my entire life—and nobody wants to give any real answers to the probing questions—which feeds the conspiracies.   My conclusion is that there is much more to the story which is why everyone is so tight lipped.  The authorities in this case would rather not confirm or deny—they’d just prefer to avoid the topic.  But the evidence is rather compelling–it’s is all around us—we just need to look at it.

Given all that evidence, it’s just a matter of time before we have to go to the moon and discover what NASA has been avoiding to tell us.  Private space companies are headed to the moon and within just a few years of now, there will be hotels on the surface—and by then we’ll learn the hard truth—it won’t be a secret any longer.  There is a presence of some life other than our own on the moon right now and they watch us from there for reasons that we’ll discover.  I would propose that it’s a kind of interplanetary base camp and they find our civilization interesting and likely some kind of social experiment that they check up on frequently.  Just yesterday I drove by the Serpent Mound site in eastern, Ohio and scientists are no closer to figuring out the reason for that strange mound than they were twenty years ago.  In fact, they have more questions now than answers.  If our science cannot figure out the meaning of things in our own back yards, then they surely aren’t prepared to deal with what’s on the surface of the moon—an entire celestial body that has not had any of its history covered yet by modern development.  It’s an open text-book of mankind’s past and whoever was a part of helping to shape it from inception.  And it floats there above our heads—all the answers we seek—yet we do not dare to uncover.  Actually, you and I might dear reader—but our governments want to hold onto their power for just a while longer.  The evidence is there for us to investigate and when we do we have a lot of hard questions to answer about ourselves.  Of course the first step will be in returning—and I can’t wait for that to occur.  I’d rather know the truth than live with illusions.

Europeans did not discover America–the giants in the Ohio mounds prove that.  They were in North America before there was ever an Indian or a Christopher Columbus voyage.  And we did not first walk on the moon.  Someone was there before us and they are still there. ………………………………

Rich Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

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Dreams of a Giant: The Skeleton Key to Finnegan’s Wake

There are plenty of modern things to write about—however, most of them have been covered here and are predictions previously submitted simply manifesting before our eyes. Every day feels like an “I told you so moment” so I no longer feel inclined to provide warnings—because they are before us. Personally, I am about to embark on the most intense, and difficult year so far in my life, and for those who know me—there have been some really difficult years leading up to this one. Also for those who know me, they by now know that I deal with difficulties through intellectual expansion. In much the way that a fighter trains for a big match, so to must the intellectual who will have to move mountains of passive aggressive opposition hell-bent on mediocrity to punch through to the other side. So for that I seek lots of literature to help push my mind to the point where it can deal with anything. In the past, I have found that novels like Finnegan’s Wake does that for me. I have read it before, I have it even on a book to tape that I have listened to many times. It is likely the most difficult book of literature ever created. I love the book and I love the primordial giant at the start of the book named Finnegan who dies and is buried by his wife Annie (Anna Livia Plurabelle) who puts out his body for the mourners to eat. But before they can feast on his body, he vanishes only to rise again by the end of the first chapter bawling for whiskey. His mourners put him back to rest convincing him that death is better and so he dreams through death that he awakens into the modern family man and pub owner H.C.E. H.C.E. stands for “Here Comes Everyone” meaning all of mankind. So in essence the giant Finnegan in Finnegan’s Wake dies and is born again as all of mankind and the content of the book is primarily a dream that takes place in the wake of his life.

There aren’t many sentences in Finnegan’s Wake that sound even remotely like the normal dialogue of a novel. The book is written in reference to over 60 different languages and none of them seem to string together in a coherent way—yet they do. They are meant to transport the reader beyond the conscious mind into the primordial ooze of a dreamlike existence and to actually peer into the possibly of life beyond death as mankind is but a resurrection of thought—exclusively.

For years many have pondered over the meaning of the novel. It is one of the great puzzles of literature.   Personally I came to the work by the lectures of Joseph Campbell and read the novel knowing that Campbell was obsessed with it. My teacher was so obsessed with Finnegan’s Wake that he spent over four years attempting to translate line by line the entire 600 page novel with another novelist by the name of Henry Morton Robinson. The result of that collaboration became A Skeleton Key to Finnegan’s Wake. It was a book that promised to unlock the mysteries of James Joyce’s masterpiece Finnegan’s Wake.

However, since Finnegan’s Wake is such difficult literature to read, there isn’t much of a market for it even among the most serious intellectuals. Some people spend their entire lives contemplating Finnegan’s Wake—so it is intimidating to even start the book, let alone trying to figure out what it all means. As I’ve said before I am a big fan of the Joseph Campbell Foundation and all the great work they do there. I have virtually everything Joseph Campbell ever wrote—except one thing—his Skeleton Key. The infamous book first went to print in 1944 then again in 1961 but died on the vine for many, many years until the JCF picked up the copyright in 2005. The book was finally republished by the Foundation at the New World Library in March of 2013. Well, at the time I was enormously busy with politics and business—which I still am—and couldn’t find the time to jump back into Finnegan’s Wake through the Skeleton Key. But standing here at the end of 2014 looking into a very, very difficult 2015 the time is now to capture Campbell’s classic wonder about the very elusive Wake before it goes out of print once again. So for Christmas this year I gave myself the book and the time to read it so that I could use the expanded intellectual muscle to deal with an ominous set of obstacles lined up to defend complacency with raised swords and curses from another world.

It is one thing to struggle through Finnegan’s Wake it’s another to seek out its meanings line by line—which is what Campbell was the first to do not long after the first printing in 1939. James Joyce spent nearly twenty years writing the Wake—exclusively. It was a work of obsession to say the least and is a revolutionary masterpiece that more or less killed the author with exhaustion. But thank God he did the work, and even more so, thankfully Joseph Campbell was the first to attempt to unlock its secrets.

My personal obsession with the Wake is that it taps into the ancient mythology of the Hill of Tara in Meath Ireland—the ancient high seat of the Ardri, the High Kings of Erin. The Hill itself is an item of archaeological concern as it is said to have ties to the Lost Tribes of Israel and the ancient Ark of the Covenant. The thoughts of some are that the Tribe then took the Ark to America and settled into the Midwest to establish the mound building cultures found there. It is also thought that among these lost tribes were the Biblical Nephillim whose gigantic stature has been found in the mounds of Ohio, Indiana, and the entire Mississippi Valley. This certainly lends credence to the possibility of how the mound building cultures in Ohio had such advanced mathematics and science. The Hill of Tara is a massive mound structure along the lines of those in Newark, Ohio so there is a connection to the two styles—and intentions.

Joyce essentially wrote Finnegan’s Wake to recreate the illegal Dark Tongue for the Teamhur Feis which took place on the Hill of Tara which had been made illegal after the victory and Christian conquest there by Saint Patrick. So obviously, there is much, much more to the Finnegan’s Wake than just an unintelligible book meant to frustrate readers. It is a coded connection to the illegal language of Dark Tongue. Finnegan’s Wake holds a key literally to understanding the long, deep past of humanity which was deliberately erased by Christian crusaders during 433 AD directly leading into the Dark Ages of Europe.

As if all that wasn’t enough, the main character in my novel The Symposium of Justice and all the subsequent stories coming out starting in 2015 involving the trails and tribulations of Fletcher Finnegan is a direct tip of the hat—literally—to the giant leader from the Teamhur Feis rituals which took place at the Hill of Tara. Fletcher Finnegan for me is the resurrection of that giant who steps into the world of mankind and carries it beyond the limits of the tavern owner H.C.E.

Understandably, many books have been written after Joseph Campbell’s Skeleton Key. But for me, his work is the best because he was the first and many after him were able to take his work and extrapolate further—and deeper than he was able to do with just a few years of puzzling through Joyce’s bizarre work just prior to World War II. When the topic is the resurrection of an ancient language connected to the Druids—made illegal by Christian orthodoxy that wanted Ireland to unite behind English rule—under careful regulation by the church—Joyce wrote in code to preserve an aspect of human life that has long since descended into the recesses of morality. And to truly understand who we are, and where we really come from—the truth is locked up in works of art like those of Joyce. Campbell was the first to offer a key. So for Christmas this year—I finally put my hands on the book so that I can use what I find there to solve the many riddles coming quick and under ominous intent. Like an encroaching army it takes more than muscle to defeat the swarms’ amassing to keep history erased and protect their grip on revision. It takes great intellect and the best way to give intellect a boost is with the mysterious work of Finnegan’s Wake. For me, my Finnegan—Fletcher Finnegan is what begins again after the sentence “A way a lone a last a loved a long the riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and the Environs.”

In Finnegan’s Wake it begins with the end of the last sentence of the book, the one described in the previous paragraph. All the events that occur between the beginning and end of that sentence which folds over on itself by the end is reflective of all humanity which is always beginning again after perpetual death. It is in this immortality that the eye must focus—and the keys to most everything reside. And it is in that realm that Fletcher Finnegan lives. And to all those who I’m about to piss off in a grand and epic way—you have it coming for being content to sit in the pub of H.C.E. and sip at the contents of mortality when in all reality you are but the dreams of a giant.

Rich Hoffman

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“Interstellar” Epiphany and Soundtrack Review: A 50th Anniversary at Virgin Galactic’s first space resort

I had an epiphany that my wife and I were stepping off a Virgin Galactic vessel into the first hotel of their design floating above the earth with the horizon spinning outside of a massive lobby window. It is Virgin’s first hotel in space established as a resort location rivaling the Atlantis vacation destination in the Bahamas complete with an indoor water park covered with large glass windows looking out into the vastness of space. The lobby was lush and expensive with exotic restaurants all offering outrageously epic views out every window. The moon is always full and casts a constant—haunting shadow through every object and mixed with the brilliant light shining off the earth is a bluish hue that has never been replicated by any light on the home planet. It’s our 50th wedding anniversary and we have a $5000 bottle of wine to mark the year of this writing to celebrate our first week-long vacation in space. We have worked hard and deserve to pamper ourselves with a very expensive outing that will mark many years of persistence. In the lobby is playing the old soundtrack to the classic 2014 movie Interstellar, which has by then become the standard of music referencing space. It was that award-winning Christopher Nolan movie that changed it all and set the tone for the second world-wide space race causing Hilton, Marriott and Virgin Galactic to build the first space stations catering to tourism. Virgin was the first to achieve it.

The majestic views out of the multiple windows demand the music of Interstellar because nothing else would be sufficient. The hotel operators just play constantly the old Hans Zimmer soundtrack to help alleviate the shock of being grounded so firmly to the floor as the view outside swirls around like a marry-go-round. It takes some getting used to for some people; some actually throw up with the disorienting effect of the earth’s horizon spinning around so rhythmically. There are trash cans stationed along the pathway toward the check-in counter large enough for visitors to dump their stomachs in the most graceful way possible. A cleaning crew quickly removes the contents so not to alter the smell of space—that rusty metal odor mixed with the fragrance of lobby vegetation that is intended carefully to greet guests as they step off the shuttle from their journey below.

We walk to the counter as track 7 on that enchanting soundtrack plays with organs chiming to the tempo of a clock’s second hand—the earth still swirling, the light from the moon and sun moving around the room casting shadows in all directions hauntingly. Bright overhead lights on the ceiling between more large windows cast stabilizing light so that the lobby looks to be the only stable element of a universe in chaos outside—which adds to the otherworldly sensation of a species raised on a planet where the sun rises and falls every 12 hours and the horizon is always fixed. Here, the sun is always out, the moon is always full, and the horizon never stills—it spins perpetually so to provide an earth like gravity for the visitors—some who are already in their swimming suits and heading for the massive domed Water Park behind the check-in counter.

My wife and I aren’t sick; the music brings our minds to ease with a familiarity that we know well. We have listened to that soundtrack every week for the last 25 years and know its notes by heart. Before checking in we just listen to it while we sit in one of the lobby seats and watch the Virgin Galactic shuttle pull away from the docking station and head back to earth with its navigational thrusters silently pushing it back into a declination orbit to Spaceport America—our home launch point. In another three hours that same ship will be back with more visitors and within 30 minutes another ship will arrive from Spaceport America and fifteen minutes after that, one from Space Port Japan, then one from Spaceport Europe. Because Virgin Galactic has brought the Internet to Africa—they now have one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Soon they will have their own spaceport in right in the middle of the Congo.

My wife and I head to our rooms and prepare for dinner. We spend five solid hours drinking our expensive bottle of wine sitting on our hotel bed watching the world turn—literally. And we cherish that this event has finally been made possible after many years of dreaming. The whole time we listen to our well-played soundtrack for the several hundred thousandth time—Interstellar, as we have always loved it and likely always will.

That soundtrack actually only came out a few days ago, on November 17, 2014, so my son-in-law rushed to Barnes and Nobel to get it for he and my daughter the moment it was unloaded from the delivery truck. They spent their evening listening to it while eating Chinese food from their favorite restaurant—and they gave me a copy. They have already seen the movie twice and are looking for ways to see it many more times. In what’s being touted as a first-of-its-kind promotion, Paramount and AMC Theatres are offering movie patrons in North America the chance to see Christopher Nolan‘s Interstellar as many times as they want, for one price.

As with any deal, there are rules. Those who want to participate must be members of the AMC Stubs program, which has an annual fee of $12.

The unlimited tickets will be available for sale to AMC Stubs members at 330 AMC theater across the country, including AMC Imax locations. The price will range from $19.99 to $34.99, depending upon the location (currently, the average cost of a movie ticket price in the U.S. is $8.08.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/paramount-amc-theatres-partner-unlimited-749512

Interstellar requires for most people many viewings just to understand everything that is happening. Many critics of the film on their first viewings were used to a more conventional film experience and didn’t know what to make of some of the sound issues. As I said in my review—I think I was the first and only one to date to point it out—the sound in Interstellar was entirely on purpose. Christopher Nolan wanted there to be times where the events overwhelmed the sound made by the actors—because in real life—that happens often.

“I’ve always loved films that approach sound in an impressionistic way and that is an unusual approach for a mainstream blockbuster, but I feel it’s the right approach for this experiential film,” Christopher Nolan said, speaking for the first time in detail about the use of sound in his new film.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/behind-screen/christopher-nolan-breaks-silence-interstellar-749465

It is because of this approach to sound that the Interstellar soundtrack was so exceptionally good—and is why it will become the inspiration for all that I described above. When my kids gave me the first copy of the soundtrack and I played it for much of the day on Tuesday and Wednesday listening to it many, many times—it was easy to conclude that it was a masterpiece. I remember the music being great during the movie, but listening to it by itself, it was simply phenomenal as it steps up and well beyond anything that’s ever been attempted. The closest that I can think of is Philip Glass—but the Hans Zimmer approach comes with a much bolder, and narrative link to the future by drawing so historically on the past.

Blasting through the track on the soundtrack titled “S.T.A.Y” all that I began this writing above occurred with the epiphany. Many of the world’s problems seemed so miniscule and the minds that made them that way even less relevant. I could literally reach out and touch that future space station/hotel as if I were there, as if I could smell it, taste it and walk across its vast floors with Richard Branson still alive and standing in the corner welcoming his guests with long flowing locks still beyond his shoulders with a smile from ear to ear.

At dinner in my epiphany there was a guest who played in the center of a vast dinning hall with a clear picture of the moon out the distant window—again spinning around with rhythmic precision upon a large glass piano lit from beneath with blue lights that made it look like it was made out of ice. That guest was an elderly Hans Zimmer playing the Interstellar soundtrack live with a deeply personal concert, graced too with a smile from ear to ear knowing that it was his soundtrack that helped build this palace of achievement in defiance of the earthly stupidity which attempted to shackle man’s ankles to earth forever. His music helped free those shackles to usher in this entirely new age of dreamers, fortune hunters and lovers of science and possibility. It was and would be the best dinner of our lives. Happy 50th Anniversary to us—and it was.

Rich Hoffman

www.OVERMANWARRIOR.com

A Temple of Hope: The Ghost Ship photographic journey

My family had a good laugh when the lunatic feminists in my home school district addicted to tax money accused me of being sexist.  The terminology clearly didn’t fit.   I raised two daughters and never gave them the indication of submission to anybody for any reason under any circumstances.  They are more technically liberated women than even the most rabid progressive feminist and it is quite a joy to watch them grow up and flower into everything that they feel inclined to develop about themselves.   However, it was very rewarding to see how one of them who is a professional photographer viewed a day we recently spent together.  She is pictured below on the bow of the Cincinnati Ghost Ship and can read her point of view at the following link.

http://adventuringphotographer.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/the-cincinnati-ghost-ship/img_7006

She has been an adult for long enough now to display her skills many times over and I haven’t been disappointed.  She is first and foremost an artist that wishes to embody all the elements I introduced to her as a child and it is wonderful to see all those elements come together into the person she is.  As I was raising her I never directly tried to shape her personality into something I would approve of, but simply removed the social shackles that often prevent the development of a mind properly.  My interest has never been social roles as society defined them, but as an individual does—so my parenting style was always focused on allowing my children to be exactly who they uniquely are—even in spite of my wishes—which I always made sure to contain.  When someone decides to become an artist of some type they leave themselves vulnerable to interpretation as their efforts are impossible to disguise.  What an artist produces becomes the culmination of their internal philosophy, which in my daughter’s case can be seen in the video below.

 

 

The day was not intended to be so monumental.  She and I have done that kind of thing many times.  As a little girl she trudged through many denser places, caves, trees, lakes and even confronted sometimes hostile inhabitants.  The standard equipment has always been a part of our life, satchels, loose clothing for easy climbing, hats to keep spiders and small rodents out of our hair, and my whips for climbing and diverting away hostile encounters.  Oddly enough on this trip to the Cincinnati Ghost Ship as an artist her natural focus was on most of those things which I take for granted as just part of everyday life.  As a photographer she brought them to the surface in a way that told me much of how she sees me—which is more beneficial to me than her.

Videography is a new skill she is adding to her arsenal.  She has been to film festivals with me several times and has met professionals who make movies—and has seen many artistic efforts from behind a lens.  So she has seen all the tricks and knows that there isn’t any way to hide her soul.  The way a camera operator and video director lights their subject, the focal point, the movement of the camera, and the way a piece is edited together ultimately reveals everything that there is to know about the artist behind the effort.  So her shot selection and ability to tell a story with moving pictures was very revealing regarding the kind of young woman she has become, and was a real treasure.  I didn’t know that at the beginning of our little adventure that I would come away with more than she did.img_6972

As the video was shot, we typically did not stop and pose for pictures.  We just did our thing and turned on the camera to capture footage as we were doing it.  The adventure always comes first; the attempt to document it is second which makes the job of a filmmaker more difficult.  Some things that show up in the video that were actually not filmed was the nice lunch she and I had at McDonald’s just prior to visiting the Ghost Ship.  Usually when she and I get together the rest of the family is with us, so she has been deprived of craved personal time with me.  Upon hitting the exit that would take us to the Ghost Ship off the highway the fuel light came on indicating that we were about to run out of gas.  So I turned around and got some gas down in Lawrenceburg before getting back into the hills of Northern Kentucky on an empty tank.   We were in the right area so I felt confident that time was on our side.  Getting gas was a little bit of an adventure so we decided to go ahead and grab a bite to eat before getting back into the woods.  The two of us had a Sausage McMuffin with Egg each—which the last time she had breakfast at McDonald’s with me was during a trip back from Florida the previous year so that breakfast tasted much better on the cusp of such an adventure.

As we sat and ate, and caught up on all the things we typically talk about, we looked over topographical maps of the area and contemplated strategies for getting there.  It turned out to be much easier than I anticipated which was nice considering that we had some really expensive camera equipment.  We were dressed to wade into the water and board the vessel if need be.  I typically carry with me a 12’ bull whip for those types of occasions.  I also typically have my rope bag that has 150’ of rope along with climbing gear, but that wouldn’t be needed for this.  The whip will get a person up small climbs most effectively.  I always have on my hip a whip holster that my friend Gery Deer designed especially for me.  I use it each year in the bull whip fast draw competition and when I walk around the house practicing.  It is designed for smaller whips but the 12’ whip can fit in it.  So that is what appeared in the video.  I didn’t know my daughter focused some of her shots on things like my whip and satchel, but they were nice bits of context from the adventure that surprised me.

When she was old enough to sit still I raised her on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and each night when she went to sleep, she played the Raiders of the Lost Ark soundtrack and let it go on repeat throughout the night.  She had a healthy childhood filled with the yearning for adventure, likely due to the kind of material she had from her first conscious moments.  Our interest didn’t stop there; we actually expected to live that life to a certain degree and she has so far her entire life.  So our outing to the Ghost Ship was simply a reflection of who we were.  But watching her video of it, it was clear that there was some Indiana Jones in there—which makes sense.  Indiana Jones to me is one of the most wonderful characters ever created for film.  He can get dirty with the best of them then turn around and be among the most scholarly.  He reads, he’s smart, and he’s fearless—but better yet, he’s tenacious.  I knew what I wanted to be as a man when I saw Indiana Jones swing into the Temple of Doom and steal the Shankara Stones from the skull on the sacrificial altar.  To a large degree I do live that life as a man.  The film was a fun movie filled with comic book antics, but the substance of the story is something that both my daughter and I have carried with us every day of my life and hers.img_6977

After we explored the vessel, dripping with sweet, I was pulling bugs off my hat and we decided to go back to McDonald’s for lunch to cool off.  We looked at our footage and talked about what we saw and as we were sitting there I thought about the many times that I had shown her the Temple of Doom movie and realized that we were living that life.  One moment we were knee-deep in adventure, the next integrating the boon of our discoveries with the civilized world—sitting in the corner with my cut up cloths and sweat soaked shirt, with cobwebs still hanging from my hat.  More than a few people looked my way wondering what we had been doing.  Most of them had no idea that just across the river was a treasure that had been there for many years right under their noses yet they were blissfully ignorant.  The only trace of anything out of the ordinary was my daughter and I who had just stepped out of some story book adventure sitting in the corner eating ice cream.  But that was part of the fun for us.

It was those little moments from the adventure that filled her mind which ended up in her cut of the video and framed the way she photographed the day’s events.  It made me very happy and confirmed why I raised her the way I did—it was to nurture that spark of hopeful optimism that can always be present—even when the circumstances are quite scary.  There is a hope in the way my daughter photographs that is a liberating pleasure unmatched by anything else for me.  As an artist, the mind of the creator cannot hide so cynicism shows behind every attempt if it is present.  Adventure isn’t always about things “out there” but what’s really inside–the adventure of a Ghost Ship in our back yard, or a simple trip to McDonald’s, or running out of gas at a highway interchange with no stations in sight.  Adventure starts in the heart, not in the extraordinary and the best of those events happen  when a parent and their child get together for the fun of it—and joy, and lack of pretense just to live life and capture what comes as future memories.   A temple is a place of worship and our lives come together driven by mutual interest.  It is not the Temple of Doom that we share as a lifelong focus–but a Temple of Hope captured by photos for time to benefit.img_7024

Rich Hoffman   www.OVERMANWARRIOR.com