Tracks/Wild

Tracks, by Robyn Davidson, and Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, are similar stories. Tracks: One Woman’s Journey Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback was written in the late 1970’s, published in 1980, a few years after her incredible journey across western Australia with camels. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail was published in 2012.

Separated by around two decades, these two young women undertook life-changing journeys. Their stories are so similar I decided to review them in one post. Both were in their twenties when they undertook their odysseys.  Both of them lost their mothers early in their lives. Both of their stories have been made into movies, both of which are very well done.

But I would certainly recommend the books. Their written stories reveal much more of the interior struggles these women underwent to accomplish their treks. (I cannot tell you which to do first: read the books, or watch the movies; I myself watched the movies first in both cases, and then read the books.)

Tracks shares the story of Robyn Davidson who found herself at loose ends in the 1970’s. In her twenties, just coming out of the hippie anti-establishment movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s, she did not know what to do with her life. Working at low-end jobs, she just couldn’t get herself interested and invested in anything. She got the idea of hiking across the Australian outback, using camels to carry supplies.

Without much of a plan she headed to Alice Springs, Northern Territory. This isolated town became her home for several years as she attempted various approaches to realizing her dream. She had no money, very little knowledge or survival skills; she hardly knew where to begin. But she persisted. After a few years, she had learned camel handling skills, had acquired a couple camels, and began learning how to survive in the desert.

While the movie necessarily focusses mainly on the journey itself, the book goes into depth on the interior struggles she fought, especially starting the journey itself. She learned to appreciate aborigine people, their culture, language, knowledge of the desert, and survival skills. She gloried in the wondrous landscape. Most people view the Australian Outback as dreary wasteland. Robyn came to see its beauty; she came to realize the land as experienced by Aboriginal peoples, how it identified them, how they cared for it, how it sustained them.

Here’s one quote from Davidson’s book to whet your appetite for more!

Those days were like a crystallization of all that had been good in the trip. It was as close to perfection as I could ever hope to come. I reviewed what I had learnt. I had discovered capabilities and strengths that I would not have imagined possible in those distant dream-like days before the trip. I had rediscovered people in my past and come to terms with my feelings towards them. I had learnt what love was. That love wanted the best possible for those you cared for even if that excluded yourself. That before, I had wanted to possess people without loving them, and now I could love them and wish them the best without needing them. I had understood freedom and security. The need to rattle the foundations of habit. That to be free one needs constant and unrelenting vigilance over one’s weaknesses. A vigilance which requires a moral energy most us are incapable of manufacturing. We relax back into the moulds of habit. They are secure, they bind us and keep us contained at the expense of freedom. To break the moulds, to be heedless of the seductions of security is an impossible struggle, but one of the few that count. To be free is to learn, to test yourself constantly, to gamble. It is not safe. I had learnt to use my fears as stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks, and best of all I had learnt to laugh. I felt invincible, untouchable, I had extended myself, and I believed I could now sit back, there was nothing else the desert could teach me. And I wanted to remember all this. Wanted to remember this place and what it meant to me, and how I had arrived there. Wanted to fix it so firmly in my head that I would never, ever forget. (p 220f)

Amazing stuff!! Robyn is so incredibly and articulately insightful. And she is so open in letting the reader in to the processes she experienced during her trek across the desert.

Very different, yet so similar, is Wild. Cheryl Strayed was also a young woman at loose ends. In the early nineties she lost her mother to cancer when Cheryl was 22. This loss really threw her for a loop. She ended up spiraling into dysfunction, using drugs and sex to bury her pain. But she recognized the downward course she was on and decided she had to do something to get herself out of this destructive lifestyle.

A book caught her eye one day while standing in a checkout line. It was a book about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). She looked at it briefly, thought about it for a time, and eventually went back to purchase it. And decided to do it!!

Totally inexperienced in anything even remotely resembling this sort of venture, having no equipment, having no one to whom she could turn for advice, she began assembling what she needed for the trip. Using her meagre waitressing earnings, and continuing to use drugs right up until the day before the trip, she planned out her journey.

The film captures her heroic efforts to even get her backpack on and stand up! But the insights from the book reveal her deep insecurity about her capabilities in undertaking this trip. She doubted herself through most of the hike. Any little roadblock in her plans, any unexpected hurdle, would throw her into self-doubt and several times almost caused her to back out.

One example: unusually high snowfall in the Sierra Nevadas that year (mid 1990’s) caused the trail to be impassable that summer she was hiking. She had to detour via bus to Reno, Nevada. The highest section of the trail was unavailable, and this had been the portion she had most anticipated. It was devastating.

But by the time this occurred she was quite a few weeks into her hike, and she found enough flexibility to adjust her plans. Originally she was going to hike only the California portion of the PCT. With her renewed plans she hiked on through Oregon, coming out at the Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia River at the border of Washington State.

Throughout her hike she meets people who help her in various ways. She meets obstacles she must overcome. She endures pain constantly. Fellow hikers are amazed at the size and weight of her pack. She carries more than hikers much more fit that she was. But she bumbles on determinedly.

Once again, like Robyn Davidson, she grows during her journey, both physically, but also mentally and emotionally. It turns her life around. She finds herself a different person at the end of the road than who she’d been at the beginning.

Both these books are well worth reading. Both are easy, entertaining reads, well-written and inspiring. Page-turners. And both movies are also well worth watching. Enjoy!!!!

Hillbilly Elegy

This book, by J. D. Vance, is a memoir of the author’s life: his young years, since he is only in his thirties as he writes! His grandparents came from the coal mining area of northern Kentucky. They moved to an industrial town in Ohio to find jobs. But their “hillbilly” culture came with them, as it did with multitudes who followed a similar pattern.

This is an intimate look at this culture, and how it has shaped American life and politics. Although written before the 2016 presidential campaign, the people Vance writes about are basically the ones who elected Trump as president.

When taken together with the people and culture demonstrated in the movie I reviewed just previous to this review, Hell or High Water, it provides insight into how people could come to support someone like Donald Trump. There is a deep-abiding suspicion of those in power. There is a need to be able to feel at some level of control of ones life and destiny.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis is a great book on numerous levels. On a personal level, it is a story of survival and success against unbelievable odds. That someone could come out of an environment like JD did is incredible. That he became a successful lawyer and is living as successful a life as he is makes it even more special. It really is a credit to JD Vance that he has made of his life what he has, so far.

On another level, the stories of JD’s family members is also very intriguing. Often times, and by many peoples’ standards, there was a lot of dysfunction in the various members of his family. And yet they got by, at some level. And they were able to install in JD values which, as he grew up, enabled him to rise above his environment. Vance gives such an informed view of the “hillbilly” culture. He was raised in it. He was raised by members of this culture. His “mamaw”, as he called his grandmother, was his primary caretaker during his childhood. And she seemed to be the epitome of the hillbilly grandma! She certainly outdid the sanitized view of the grandma in the popular TV series, The Beverly Hillbillies!! And yet she instilled in her grandson values of education, hard work, never giving up, etc, which allowed him to succeed as he grew into adulthood. Vance’s portrayal of his family-of-origin is both enlightening and personal. Deeply personal, as it is the primary environment which shaped him into the adult he is today.

On yet a bigger level, J. D. Vance’s story provides a glimpse into the wider hillbilly culture. So many small cities and towns in the so-called “rust-belt” were built up by migrations of “hillbillies” to work in the factories. But the culture of the coal-mining communities from where they came survived the migrations. And Vance is able to see this now, from his vantage point of a well-educated, intelligent survivor of this culture. Even though he now lives in California, he provides articulate insight into this large subculture of the USA.

He helps me understand the previously incredulous election of Donald Trump. I am almost completely unable to understand how anyone could have voted for such a despicable excuse of a human being. I know that many of my own family members did just such an action. But I do not understand it. Vance has helped me put this political debacle into some sort of perspective. If not yet completely understandable, it does help!!

I am thankful to J. D. Vance for opening up his personal experience to help us to understand a little better how a large portion of American society thinks and acts. Hillbilly Elegy is a very well-written memoir. It is an engaging read, both for its writing style and for its content. I urge any readers of this humble blog to search out this book and read it. You will not regret it.

Hell or High Water

My wife and I watched this movie not long ago. It takes place in the part of the world my wife was raised in, west Texas. As such, it shows a subculture she is very aware of. It is a life she would’ve been a part of had her daddy not ensured she got out of there.

As such, it is a riveting story of two brothers who hatch a plot to save their family farm. Essentially, without giving too much of the plot away, they start holding up banks to get enough money to avoid defaulting on their mother’s loans made on the farm before she died. And they specifically target branches of the bank which holds the loans, and who will get title to the land if the family defaults.

It is a very well-done movie, with well-developed characters, and a good pace. It shows well the character of that land, the often desolate landscape, and the types of people inhabiting that part of the country.

Highly recommended!!!

Nicolle Wallace

My wife and I both grew up in the USA. Therefore we are quite interested in US politics; we watched the fascinating campaign last fall avidly. Our favourite place for political news ended up being MSNBC. A frequent commentator there was Nicolle Wallace. I always appreciated what she had to say. She seemed very knowledgeable and insightful.

Also, as an outspoken Republican in a mostly liberal-minded environment, her take on events was a welcome alternative to the usual opinions. She was one of only a handful of Republicans regularly appearing on that network.

At some point she mentioned in passing  a novel of hers. Immediately my interest was piqued. I sought out the information on this and discovered that Wallace has written a trilogy of novels, all centring around the White House.

These three novels are titled, Eighteen AcresIt’s Classified, and Madam President. They follow the same characters through several years. They are a fascinating peek into the life of a president and White House staff.

When I began to realize that Nicolle Wallace herself had spent numerous years in the White House and was intricately involved in Republican politics, I give the stories a lot of credibility. She knows whereof she speaks!!

She was a White House communications director under George W. Bush. She served as a senior advisor for the McCain-Palin campaign of 2008. Her husband is a former ambassador to the United Nations.

So I’d say she is eminently qualified to speak of Washington politics!!

I will not go into any detail of the contents of the trilogy of novels. The books should be quite accessible; I had no trouble accessing them up here in Canada!!! But I will encourage anyone with even a bit of curiosity of what goes on behind the scenes in the White House to check these books out. They are well worth it. They are not long; they are written in fairly light style. An average reader can breeze through one in a day if you wish. And they are that gripping. Once you start, you are hooked!

Behind the Flying Saucers

This book, by Frank Scully, written in 1950, begins the story of the crash and subsequent recovery of unidentified flying objects in the state of New Mexico. It led to the research and publication of more information on these crashes, one in particular, by Scott and Suzanne Ramsey in the 1980’s and ’90’s. The incident with the most information occurred in Aztec, New Mexico in 1948. The Ramseys published their research in a couple books. The one I have read is, The Aztec UFO Incident.

Another book I want to include in this summary is, MO41: The Bombshell Before Roswell. This book outlines the scant information on a UFO crash in Missouri in 1941.

If we take a look at all of these incidents, alongside the Roswell incident of 1947, there are numerous similar details. All of them were quickly taken charge of by the military establishment. The military moved in, removed any materiel and bodies, and swore any onlookers to secrecy under threat of death. Only recently, as some of these witnesses neared the end of their natural lives were they motivated to share what they had seen many decades before. They thought that this was information which needed to be more widely known. They understood the profound effects this could have on society, and did not understand why military organizations wanted to keep the information secret. Most of them felt it was very wrong to have been kept from public perception.

None of these books about early UFO crashes are particularly well-written. But the information they outline is so fascinating it is worth a look. It is, after all, where it all began!!

What we hear coming out now is that the information retrieved from these crashes has been reverse-engineered and is now the basis for a rapidly growing secret space program. If you read David Wilcock’s latest book, The Ascension Mysteries, you will begin to see the extent of this vast program, involving thousands of people and incorporating technology beyond most of our wildest imaginations.

I do not understand where this is all heading. But writers like Wilcock and others think that some level of disclosure will occur soon. No one can predict what effect this will have on society but there is widespread agreement that just about any level of information regarding this will have quite a profound impact. I, personally, can hardly wait!!!!

 

David Wilcock

The Ascension Mysteries, written by Wilcock in 2016, is a much better read than his earlier books. I find David Wilcock difficult to read, overall. He has incredibly fascinating material to present, stunning revelations, very important perceptions, but he is so extremely intelligent, has so much information in his head, that he has difficulty, in my opinion, in getting it out there in a form that is comprehendible to common folk such as myself.

This book I found to be an exception to earlier works. In Ascension Mysteries he becomes much more personal, telling a lot of his own development in the field of esoteric knowledge. Therefore it is easier to relate, to understand where he is coming from.

The subtitle of this book is, Revealing the Cosmic Battle Between Good and Evil. If you have read my previous review of the sci-fi novel, Sekret Machines, these books dovetail nicely, dealing with similar material.

Wilcock deals with this material from information he is receiving from insiders in the US secret space program (SSP). Over the years he has developed contacts with people who either have or are working with the US military and intelligence agencies on developing technology gleaned from downed alien spacecraft. At least, this is where it began, beginning in the 1940’s when a number of alien spacecraft were discovered.

But what has grown out of this is an incredibly complex and huge program involving information and enterprises which to us public are totally mind-blowing and impossible to grasp. The powers-that-be have been so successful in keeping this hidden from sight that we can hardly conceive that these things are even possible, much less happening right under our noses.

I must confess personally I have a difficult time believing half the things being revealed. But reading this book gave me much more trust in David Wilcock and his work. He absolutely believes in the authenticity of his information. He is very open when his sources don’t always agree on details, and lays the information out as such. Especially in this book, where David openly reveals his life to the reader, I find him to have complete integrity. He is certainly not trying to pull one over on his reading public.

What he is trying to do is to prepare us, the human race, for a shift in consciousness he calls ascension. He expects this to happen in the next five years or so. The timelines are not always super clear, but it is coming, and it is coming quickly, in his estimation.

In the last chapter of this book, Wilcock writes about some personal revelations he has received through his own meditation practices. A lot of this, apparently, happened during retreats he took in Banff, Alberta. This is close to where I live, and I can completely understand receiving divine inspiration while in that area. My wife and I were in Banff yesterday; it is truly a magnificent, spiritual, and magic place upon our Earth!

Some of what David received while in Banff was information that he is a hybrid, a term I am familiar with from my own soul regression work and readings. A hybrid soul is someone who has had many, if not most, of their previous incarnations on another planet or planets. His incarnations on Earth are recent; he has not necessarily lived many lives on our planet. But he has agreed to come here specifically at this time to assist our human race to achieve ascension.

From my own exposure to soul regression work, I have absolutely no trouble accepting this. I have understood there are many, many souls who have incarnated here for this precise purpose, at this time in our history, to assist us in ascension.

In addition to his spiritual experiences, David is also very aware of a lot of scientific knowledge. The Earth is currently close to entering a phase in its life where there will be a cosmic shift in its existence. This has to do with the rotation of the galaxy, with alignment to the centre of our galaxy, etc. No one knows for sure exactly what this might entail, but there seems to be quite widespread knowledge that something very significant is right on our doorstep. This may not be entirely pleasant to live through; it might mean societal and environmental upheaval, but the end result will be a much more peaceful stage of existence.

David also has recently been reading ancient writings, such as the Bible. He quotes extensively toward the end of the book from biblical prophecies regarding all these events. He grew up with a decided anti-religious bias (his mother had come out of a conservative, fundamentalist upbringing). And he clearly recognizes the great harm organized religion has done in society over the centuries, but he is also beginning to see that religion has recognized that much of what he is talking about is expected. David might use different language than religious people are used to, but he is projecting similar occurrences.

Since I also have come out of a very conservative, fundamentalist view of the world, and feel I have a much more open stance today toward things spiritual, I found his own journey into the scriptures completely fascinating. I myself have not turned my back on the Bible in any way. I have merely grown away from the orthodox way of interpreting the scriptures and rather see them in the light of knowledge I have been gaining the last number of years. Because of this, I identify with David’s journey to a great extent.

I encourage anyone with a bent to seeing and hearing things from a new perspective to check out this book. Fortunately Wilcock’s books are much more accessible than the Sekret Machines book I reviewed previously!! I’m sure you can find The Ascension Mysteries in most libraries, bookstores, and certainly online.

Sekret Machines

An astounding book!!!! And I discovered that the Sekret Machines franchise includes a number of works in the planning stages. The book I read is a novel titled, Book 1: Chasing Shadows, by Tom DeLonge and A.J. Hartley.

This is a sic-fi novel of the highest level! It is well written and well conceived. Part of this expert conception is no doubt attributable to the fact that it is based on fact. Tom DeLonge had an experience where he proverbially happened to be in the right place at the right time. He gained access to insider information about the secret space program (SSP) of the USA. So the novel is based on real events. A series of events, really. And because they are based on real events, they sound convincing. These aren’t stories emerging merely from the mind of an author holed up in his basement office pecking away at his keyboard. These things really happened. The authors merely have to flesh them out.

The format of the book is to follow about four main characters. As it jumps back and forth between them, I had to get used to paying attention to who was being talked about, what the time frames were, what locations they were in. It took me a couple chapters to get used to this format, but once in, I was hooked!!! I read this 680 page book in two days straight! I had not done this type of concentrated reading for years and years! Admittedly the type-face is quite widely spaced, and the pages are not nearly as large as many books. So the pages flip quickly! Please do not allow your initial shock of the size of the book to put you off. It will reward you if you are brave enough to enter its pages!

I will not spoil the contents for anyone interested enough to track this book down and read it. It certainly is worth doing that, but I will warn you it may take some effort to get your hands on a copy. My local city library did not have a copy; I had to get it through in interlibrary loan. (I have submitted a request to my library to purchase a copy, as everyone should be reading this story!)

But a general overview is that the story deals with details of the US SSP over the years. The time span goes back to WWII years, up into the present. The story gives snippets of interactions of the US military/intelligence agencies with extra-terrestrial beings, and mostly with the reverse-engineering of alien technology. There are also scenes of corporate interests in the SSP. There are stories of how the ruling elite try to keep a cover on these stories, how they attempt to keep their hold on secret power and technology. All of this makes for an extremely page-turning thriller!

Following up on the publication, in 2016, of this first in a proposed trilogy of novels, will be non-fiction accounts covering the same material, but in a more factual, complete treatment. The non-fiction series is titled, Sekret Machines: God, Man and War. The first book will be, Sekret Machines: God. It is expected out this spring, the spring of 2017. I can hardly wait! As I also eagerly anticipate the publication of the second novel in the Sekret Machines series. More information can be found on the website: tothestars.media. (Personally I did not find the website particularly helpful, but it is interesting to visit.)

But seek out the book! You will not be sorry!

Amy

I never planned to write a review of the video, Amy, but after watching it last evening and finding myself incredibly moved, I felt I should share a bit of my reactions. This video sheds light on the life of Amy Winehouse. She was a singer/songwriter from London, known most strongly for her jazz and soul singing. Her musical career, from age 18 to when she died at age 27, was phenomenal. She was compared and on stage with other greats, most notably Tony Bennet, Beyonce, and others. Her voice belied her youth. She sounded like a truly soulful 50 or 60 year old, interpreting songs and emotions with great maturity.

Her life, however, was a total mess. She seemed to know this, but was unable to get ahold of stability. Her parents separated when she was 11, the beginning of her pain and trouble. Her mother stated at one point in the video that she was never able to say “No” to her daughter. Later in her life, a bodyguard said that all she really needed was for someone to say “No” to her.

She managed to pull herself together for periods of time, but inevitably would once again descend into substance abuse to the extreme. She was also severely bulimic, a condition which doctors deem to have contributed to her death. Her body was just too severely compromised to be able to withstand the abuse she put it through, and she finally succumbed.

David Joseph, CEO of Universal Music UK said this, “About two years ago we decided to make a movie about her—her career and her life. It’s a very complicated and tender movie. It tackles lots of things about family and media, fame, addiction, but most importantly, it captures the very heart of what she was about, which is an amazing person and a true musical genius.”

Such a talented soul, such a bright and loving person, but what a tragic life, overall.

Judyth Vary Baker 2

Judyth Vary Baker has written a second book about the JFK assassination and the people involved in it. Her first was about her relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald, called, Me and Lee. This book, titled, David Ferrie, is about a very enigmatic character who was part of the circle of people Judyth came in contact with in New Orleans during the summer of 1963. This is the first book to really focus specifically on this mysterious man.

David Ferrie was truly an enigma. A fantastically gifted person, but also quite a scumbag! A homosexual in a time when this was a crime, continually on the edge of the law. He would work for the CIA, for the mafia, wherever he could get paid.

He got involved in the plot to develop a lethal mixture of cancer cells which the CIA hoped to inject into Fidel Castro. The cancer research was what had brought the author to New Orleans in the first place.

The Castro plan unravelled at the last minute. Lee Harvey Oswald was involved in this plot for the main reason that he thought this would save President Kennedy’s life.

The book, David Ferrie, is a fascinating look into the inner workings of one part of the assassination scenario of 1963. It is also an intriguing look into the life of this somewhat pathetic man.

In Ferrie’s last phone conversation with Judyth Vary Baker, shortly after the assassination, he told her she had to keep her head down, stay under the radar, in order to remain alive. Judyth succeeded in doing this, still alive to this day. Just about all the other players in the assassination drama have been killed, most within a short time. David Ferrie himself died suspiciously (like all the others) within five years. Judyth’s name and her involvement with Oswald was, when even acknowledged, totally disparaged as a rather unreliable and flakey witness. Nobody took her story seriously.

Judyth lives in exile, for her own safety. She appears occasionally for interviews. These two books, published in the last five years, have brought her name to greater public awareness. In her seventies now, she wants the truth known. She promised David Ferrie in that last phone call, that she had to remain alive in order to tell Oswald’s two children the truth about their father.

This book, as a follow-up to Me and Lee, is yet another fascinating look at the New Orleans group who ultimately became involved in the assassination plot. Certainly worth a read. But read Me and Lee first, to give a fuller context to David Ferrie.

E. Howard Hunt

Bond of Secrecy, written by his son, Saint John Hunt, is an account of the last few years of E. Howard Hunt’s life, and some of the confessions he made in his last years and days.

E. Howard Hunt, of course, is best known for his involvement in the Watergate break in, which ended up bringing down the presidency of Richard Nixon. But E. Howard was also involved in the JFK assassination. He was a CIA Spy, and apparently quite high up in the ranks.

Hunt did not spill everything about his involvements to his son, but he did disclose a lot. It seemed he wanted to get things off his chest, so to speak. He never expressed remorse, believing till the end that JFK needed to be eliminated, etc.

There is much in this book which sheds light on the sinister activities of the CIA in these two events. For example, Hunt leads the chain of command for the JFK assassination directly up to Lyndon Johnson. No one wants to believe that a vice president, who subsequently became president for five plus years, was fairly directly involved in the assassination of a sitting President of the USA. But there it is. From someone who was certainly in the know. The hand-written note he gave his son had LBJ at the top, with an arrow pointing down to Cord Meyer, another arrow down to David Morales and then down to “French Gunman, Grassy Knoll”. One box off to the side of this sequence of four boxes was an arrow going sideways from Cord Meyer to Bill Harvey.

I think it’s essential to refocus on what this information, that I’ve been providing you–and you alone by the way, consists of. What is important in the story is that we backtrack the chain of command up through Cord Meyer and laying the doings at the doorstep of LBJ.

 

He in my opinion, had an almost maniacal urge to become President. He regarded JFK, as–as he was in fact, an obstacle to achieving that.

 

So that would have put LBJ at the head of a long list of people who were waiting for some change in the Executive Branch.

This quote is on page 132 of the book, and is taken from a recording made in January 2004. E. Howard Hunt regarded LBJ as completely unethical, a thug and bully, who obviously would stop at nothing to achieve his ends.

I want to include one more quote from the book. This is taken from a lengthy reciting of an interview with CIA agent Marita Lorenz:

Later Lorenz, prompted by Dunne’s questions, explained that when Sturgis sought to recruit her for yet another CIA project, he told her that she had “missed the really big one” in Dallas. He explained, she said, “We killed the President that day. You could have been a part of it–you know, part of history. You should have stayed. It was safe. Everything was covered in advance. No arrests, no real newspaper investigation. It was all covered. Very professional. (p 159)

Pretty strong evidence to confirm many, many peoples’ convictions that the CIA was behind the assassination. I myself no longer have any doubts whatsoever.