**PLEASE NOTE** - I use no other social media and my comments are closed due to persistent harassment and impersonation by one individual - sorry :(

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Got Our Second Booster ...

 

Since efficacy is around 4 months, we wanted to be protected all summer while vacationing and out and about, so we got them today - piece of cake! 




Friday, April 29, 2022

Ozark Finale ...

 (Updated)





... the final episodes dropped on Netflix today!

IMO, one of the best TV shows ever done - maybe even THE best TV show ever done.

Can't wait to watch tonight!


_______________________________________


PS -  after watching episodes 8-10 (the first three in the second installment of episodes of the last season).

So one of the reasons I thought this show was one of the best in history was you were never 100% sure of where it was going to go, you couldn't always predict.

IMO - being a film buff and retired "aspiring" screenwriter since childhood, a show or film has to have certain key elements, i.e.,  great writing/slow burn of a story, with enough twists to keep it interesting, but they have to make sense - it's a balance between not being too predictable and not twisting so much that either it doesn't make sense or you don't even care anymore lol.

Also - no loopholes in the story or loose ends - those drive me crazy lol.  There's red herrings and there's loose ends - big difference.  It's okay to wait a while to tie up those loose ends, but they should all be tied up, or at least addressed, by the end, and if they aren't,  they don't make any sense, can ruin an otherwise good story, and frustrate me to no end/drive me personally batty lol. 

Also, great dialog, great character development/evolution of complex characters, great acting, great directing, great cinematography,  creating an atmosphere that almost becomes it's own character, ability to sustain suspension of disbelief without going OTT.  

Also great editing and great sound.  You wouldn't think these make a difference, but if you've ever watched a low-budget movie with terrible editing or sound, you know what I'm talking about. The scene is edited to the next scene too quickly, sometimes even mid-dialog, to the point it doesn't even make any sense. 

Editing should be a smooth transition, like fade-out to end it or a build-up to begin it - not just cutting somebody off nearly mid-sentence into the next scene or starting with a monster coming out of nowhere, without the set-up scene build.  When done poorly, you'll know, because it usually either makes you say "WTF?" or even laugh - either of which makes you step outside the story and think about the filmmaking process instead, which is a huge no-no, right? 

As for the results of poor sound, the dialog is muffled, hard to hear or  even delayed, particularly the sound effects are delayed - and  that can actually ruin an otherwise good movie.  Same effect - when it's bad sound, you'll know, because you find yourself laughing at it - taking you out of the story and your thoughts are more to the filmmaking itself.

Along with sound, inappropriate music/soundtrack.  Think 80s movies, when bad 80s music was run through a scene that didn't match the mood or actually just distracted you from what was going on rather than enhancing it?  

See?  This is why Oscars are for editing and sound - because bad editing or bad sound can actually ruin an otherwise great film, or sometimes even help make a mediocre one into a memorable one.


Most importantly, truly great directors/filmmakers will often give you visual "foreshadowing" hints of what's going to happen or "whodunnit," without smacking you in the face with it or making these super obvious for stupid or ADD people lol.  

Sometimes it's stuff that you later go, "Oh, that's why they showed that," but with the best directors, they're very subtle, very sly about it - you won't even notice too much, but you'll either think back and go "Oh, now that happening earlier makes more sense, I didn't even think of that, at the time." 

They may even actually show you a "memory montage" of the thoughts of a character who's just pieced things together, right? 

Now, with Squid Game - which I also think is a masterpiece (and so does Spielberg, so I'm in good company) - I figured it out, but not until several episodes in, and knowing that didn't completely ruin it for me, by that point - not because I'm a genius, but because I'm a lifelong film buff and can figure these foreshadowings out. 

With Ozark, I haven't usually been able to figure out where everything was going to go - until now:/

In fact, if I can figure out "whodunnit" or what's going to happen in the first 10 minutes of a film or show, though it still could be an otherwise good film, it kinda ruins it for me - and I think this is the first time I was able to do that :/

However, like I said, it can still be a good piece of work - it's just knowing "whodunnit" or what's going to happen makes it predictable.

For example, with Squid Game, I knew, but I didn't care - I still wanted more.  That's the exception to the rule, though.

*Slight Spoiler Alert*

So without giving away too much of a spoiler, this is the first time I'm 99% sure of "whodunnit" and what's going to happen -  meaning I'm 99% sure of who ordered the  (attempted) hit on  Navarro before the characters have - and that person is staring Marty right in the face.

Marty's too smart not to know and to be taken in by this person, it seems very obvious to me.

Of course, I could be wrong, but if so, that kind of ruins it for me ;/


Then again, like Squid Game, even if I'm right, that won't necessarily ruin it for me - Ozark can still keep me interested with something coming out of left field as far as the end result.  We shall see :)

______________________


PPS -  Yup, I was right - but still watching :)


Oh, and they're too smart to be making the stupid, impulsive mistakes  they're making, all over the place - they're losing control and they're cracking.

Episode 12 ... 


___________________

FINALE

Okay, so am I the only one disappointed?

Not going to give away any spoilers but - yeah.  Not only in how it ended but in quality :/

I will say that they're clearly leaving it open for later possibilities because there are still too many loose ends that needed tying up - and as I said above, loose ends drive me cuckoo! lol.






Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Trump Is Scheduled to Host a $75,000-a-Plate Fundraiser for Himself at the Kentucky Derby ...

 




... according to our local newspaper, the Lexington Herald Leader, and several other sources.

Welp, guess we'll be skipping even watching the Derby this year, because Lord knows, it'll be all about him instead of the horses.   The first president without a dog or a cat in the White House has openly said he's not fond of animals, so why is he there?


And you just know that if the horse he bets on doesn't win, he'll say it's rigged.

(Well, with horse-racing, that's actually a possibility - but he's the sort of guy who would make that happen.  I mean, he and Baffert are buddies, after all)


Regardless, a question to my husband today from a coworker ...


Coworker:  "You're a horse guy, what do you think about Trump coming to the derby?" 

 

Mark:  "I don't know, he's supposedly not a big fan of  either animals or horse-racing, so I think it's just to get the people with big money who are, particularly the horse owners, to fund his "MAGA Again" campaign, because he's nearly broke from legal fees. Also, he apparently needs a new private jet lol." 

 

Coworker:  "Oh, you're still just mad because he won in 2016."


Now - MY response would've been ...


"Hahaha!  Oh, you were serious.  So ... you have accepted the 2020 election result and don't believe it was stolen by us Democrats, then?"


Statistically with Trump supporters - especially here in Kentucky -  his answer would most likely be:   No - they have NOT accepted the 2020 election results and they DO believe the 2020 election was  was stolen. 

Then I'd say:  


"Thank you. I guess that means we were both upset about our losses then.    Except you didn't see us storming the Capitol Building, now did you? :) "


-HOWEVER-


Mark's response was: 

 

"No, actually I've hated the guy since the 80s, I've always thought he was a greedy, narcissistic con artist.  He has always represented the worst of America, rather than our best.  Anyone who would ever vote for someone like that clearly has something wrong with them" and walked away lol.


Well?  

That's one way to handle it ...  I guess? lol

However, I'm a little concerned that one could land him in HR because he made it personal, but we'll hope it doesn't - and that this person realizes they are the one that brought it up ;)



*Sigh* - Johnny Depp and Amber Heard - Raise Your Hand If You Care

 



This is another one of those situations  that I wish would stop popping up in my "news" feed," and where you can tell there's a campaign going on, particularly for the Johnny Depp side, and has been for months.


Frankly, though I don't know all of the details, it appears to me that these two obviously brought out the worst in each other,  they're toxic together - neither one of them are "victims."

Both addicted to public adoration and attention, they clearly continue to try to publicly and legally punish and destroy  each other while we watch, sucking us all into things that frankly are none of our business, encouraging us to choose sides, out of nothing more than their need for large-scale public external validation, rather than just walking away/moving on . 


At first, I felt sorry for Johnny Depp, because it was clear Amber lied, and it did appear the Pirates of the Caribbean series let him go as a result of it.

However, as more stuff came out, it was clear that both Johnny and Amber apparently became violent, that Johnny apparently did use heavy illegal drugs to the point of not knowing who or where he was at times, and that they both lied, manipulated, and threatened each other repeatedly.


In fact, the more anti-Amber stuff that was increasingly "suggested" by YouTube and popped up in my news feed, over the last year, the more I became suspicious that an anti-Amber social-media smear campaign was going on leading up the trial.

Thus, I became slightly more sympathetic towards Amber than  I was originally, but still not taking sides -  only because the subject of the lawsuit is Johnny claiming defamation - but then here's  Team Depp smearing Amber all over God's green earth for the past year.


HOWEVER - the legal definition of defamation isn't just proof of  a smear campaign and loss of reputation  - you must also prove lost income as a result -  and Depp did lose the POTC contract over Amber's claims of abuse.


Regardless, especially the past few months have been just like Chris Rock and Will Smith -  with one side clearly actively campaigning  through social media, trying to get us to choose sides - and if anything, that makes me more sympathetic to whomever it is they're  smearing.


But in the end, I think what I said above - there are no victims here - their dynamic is toxic, they're allergic to each other -  so stay away and move on, let it go?

Dear Hollywoodites, 

Again, not everything is about you - and we do NOT have to choose sides.  

We can't possibly do that anyway, without all of the information, and frankly, we don't WANT all of the information - our lives are neither better nor worse for it, either way.

Thus, please keep your beef with each other out of our faces - stop trying to suck us all into it to choose sides and  get down in the gutter with you, while you display your worst behavior, rather than your best,  just so we can continue to feed your need for public adoration, please? 

I think ... in fact, I know ... there are good sides to them both, or they wouldn't have fallen in love - good sides that we've all seen before.  Nobody can hate this much without first loving someone very deeply.  

So how about we see those best sides again, instead of your worst, please? 

Thank you! 



Sunday, April 24, 2022

France's Exit Poll Projects Macron Win ...

 


... 58% to Macron and 41.8% for Le Pen -  which we hope is as true as it historically has been - because then the world can breathe at least a momentary sigh of relief - whew!

However, as many have said, this election has been not so much a vote FOR Macron, but more voting AGAINST Marine Le Pen and stave off far-right authoritarian control of France.

The vote was apparently closer between the two than in 2017, which is of some concern.


I understand the concerns with Macron - and yet I still can't believe  that anyone would vote for a woman who's father is unapologetically a Holocaust denier,  then took over the party herself without mention of her own stance and completely ignoring his -  who herself has openly supported Putin and admittedly taken loans from Russian banks for her political party -  and who wants to ban hijabs for women, imagining herself liberating women from Islam - apparently not realizing that no government should be dictating how women should dress or what faith they should ascribe to - that true liberation for women would be to allow women to wear whatever they want and believe in whatever faith they want.



But I especially can't believe that would ever be possible in France, or even this close :(

In fact, if Le Pen were to somehow get elected, were I a French citizen, I'd wear a hijab every day, I swear I would - not because I'm Muslim, I'm a devout Christian - but just to piss Le Pen et al off lol

Then I could proudly tell my grandchildren that the only time I was ever arrested was over something as stupid as wearing a head scarf , simply because the French government wasted taxpayer money to enact such a law, wrongly assuming that doing so automatically means that person is an evil, scary terrorist without any other proof than that ;)


And why are we targeting just Muslim women, anyway, hmm? 

As IF Muslim women have much power or commit most terrorist actions anyway - hello?

In fact, according to true, actual Islamist extremists VS. normal Muslims, women are worth nothing more than breeding value.


It doesn't make any sense, any way you look at it, it's nonsense, it 's a waste of taxpayer money and parliament's time and solves nothing - just another way to scapegoat and blame your country's inherent problems on latest foreigners -  especially women -  only with a misogynist-enabling woman doing it!


(As IF we have any shortage of those types of women in society anyway, on both political sides actually, behaving as the Uncle Toms of feminism to get men to like them/gain power).


Thus, it appears that just like here in America, at least 41% of the people in France believe their own personal wealth - or the (often irrational) fear of someone taking their wealth - is more important to them than doing the right thing/the welfare of others - a message which, mind you, is in direct opposition to most of Christ's sermons despite posturing themselves as the "protectors of Christianity." :(

Also just like here in America, the far right tries to appeal the blue-collar set and convince them that they, in their patriarchal white wealth, know what's best for them, are on their side, and that they actually care about keeping their pennies safe in their little piggy bank VS. their own vast wealth in the banks of many nations, and that they alone care for them, by paying them in pennies and without  proper PPE during pandemics, because they don't actually exist and are merely a ploy to keep you from working/rely on the government and to get mind-controlling, monitoring vaccines lol. 

(You would think that what I just wrote was an SNL parody, but this is what at least half of America - and what today's right-wing world - actually believes lol).

The reason this appeals to so many is because most of them didn't learn their actual lessons from WWII, or they didn't retain them, as I said two posts below, when writing about the history of Spain --
 a history which the current political right ignores, because it doesn't fit well with their narrative of what a "Christian" authoritarian government would look like - it seems too many of us have forgotten most of the lessons we thought we learned from WWII and fascism :(


Because Nazism in WWII was not JUST about hatred/extermination for Jews, there were many other groups thrown under the bus -  plus the same  restrictions on personal freedoms in our private lives as is seen with communismwith just as deadly consequences for disobedience. 


However, for the moment, perhaps we can breathe a sigh of relief, I hope, if the exit poll numbers are correct?

(However, there's still the parliamentary vote in June, which much like our Congress, could limit the power of Macron's actions.)

However, as another positive -  just so as not to end the post on a negative note - at least we learned some lessons from WWI (and Korea, and Vietnam), which is not to jump in with both feet in conflicts between other countries that don't concern us without direct provocation or unless true genocide and/or world domination efforts are occurring.

And more good news - at least the recent 100+ hits per day on my blog from  France (which I'm assuming are Le Pen spam bots) might stop now? lol

We can dream.


Well, I'm assuming they're right-wing Le Pen spam bots, but I haven't had my comments open in years, so I don't actually know for sure.

However, they did follow the same multi-spam pattern as far-right Russian  and Russian-supporting Far-Eastern Ukraine spam bots have followed for the last decade or so, so it's a good guess ;)  


However, in the unlikely event that even one of these actually has a human being behind it, let me make this very clear ... 


Eff off, fascist far-right wing Le Pennonites and Putin sympathizers, peddling your disinformation wares - my comments are closed and have been for years due to chronic harassment by one individual - but as an added bonus, I don't have to wade through all your spam-a-lot political BS, every day lol. 

Thus, you'll need to find another social medical forum to propel your propaganda.  

Hugs and kisses!






___________________


PS - It's official Macron wins. 

Whew ... thank God, and I mean that.  If France ever goes far-right, we're doomed. 






Earth Day(-ish) Trip to Natural Bridge, Red River Gorge, Daniel Boone Natural Forest, Central-Eastern Kentucky

*edited - content added. 




So we had planned this trip last weekend, Easter weekend, but unfortunately, I hurt my back, so we postponed it until this weekend, which turned out to be a better weekend, as last weekend was cold and rainy anyway PLUS it was Earth Day :)

(No worries about my back.  I don't know what I did, it's just I have scoliosis that has progressed from my lumbar spine to my mid-thoracic spine and sometimes it flares.  Usually when I haven't exercised for a few days, or in this case, it most likely means it's time for a new mattress!)

Anyway, we usually go just to get out of the increasingly tree-deprived city and to commune with nature rather than people, but there were a lot of fun people at the main attraction, Natural Bridge, yesterday, which I'll tell you about as we go  :)

It's been an unusually cold Spring, here, so most of the trees didn't have leaves and many flowers and flowering trees either already briefly bloomed or had yet to bloom, but still a fun trip :)

First, a little video of the trip up to Natural Bridge via sky lift.  

(I say "sky lift" as opposed to "ski lift," because there's no place to ski, and they call it a sky lift :)

We usually hike, but decided since our backs were not cooperating lately, to take the sky lift, which I'd taken down, but not up.  At first, I felt very lazy, but it was cool to see from a different angle. 









It's super slow, so not very exciting stuff here, but a relaxing ride, and gives you an idea of the kind of  stupid stuff that goes through our heads that Mark and I talk about, to entertain ourselves/make each other laugh :)

Also, a little known fact about me is that in addition to being a bird nerd, I also toyed with the idea of becoming a geologist when I was a kid, after finding quartz and fossils at my local creek, thus my discussion with Mark about what the possible ribbon of red coursing through the rock was, being that Mark is also a bit of a geology nerd ;)

My guess was iron?

Also, Red River Gorge is a nationally protected geological park with many different kinds of interesting geological formations, a couple of which I may post pictures of here, so just skip if not your thing ;) 




The bridge is just a short trip from the landing, and the first thing you do is walk across the top ...

























The bridge is comprised of entirely of sandstone, which makes for interesting swirls of color ... 




And of course, everyone takes the obligatory selfie or two along the way ...


(**Mark would like me to preface these pics by letting you all know that these were taken just before I cut his hair today.  Also, I would like to add that I'm not wearing any make-up because I knew I'd sweat it all off, so just be forewarned, and try not to be too frightened lol)

















Unless of course you manage to make friends with those around you and one of them offers to take one for you and you do the same for them :)










Speaking of which, on our trip back across, we met one of two bridal parties, very different from each other :) 

I didn't get any pics of the first party at all - because, ya know, it's a private thing for them.

The first party was of local sorority girls from EKU (where my parents went to college) on a bachelorette party to the gorge, which I thought was a very cool idea :)

They were all in sorority T-shirts and khakis, but one had a small bridal veil, while the others worn banner ribbons (like pageant ribbons) across their shoulder and hip, stating they were bridesmaids for the couple, the year, and their sorority letters.

They were each taking pictures, always with one left out to take the photo, so I decided to reward this particularly sorority behavior, for their nature appreciation for Earth Day/bachelorette party by offering to take a picture for them, so that they could all be in the photo :)


Now, to get underneath the bridge and the full bridge view, you have to take many sandstone steps down, which Mark chose not to do, this trip, as steps in particular are killer on his slipped disc.

So I decided to go, taking picture along the way, to include thin-man's alley, through the cooler  sandstone and limestone mix crevice, to get to the actual arch  ...





This pass is like a natural air conditioner, it drops about 15 degrees, in here (which was a nice change from the unusual 86-degree weather we had yesterday (after previously having 33-degree weather just two days before).

Then you reach your final destination - the Natural Bridge - the largest of the sandstone bridges in the area ...












I noticed one of the trees above was growing directly off the side of the bridge, from the sandstone, which I thought was interesting ... 





And here's a little video I took of the sweep of it ...

No, that's not me, I was filming -  she is wearing a gray T-shirt and black shorts like me, but note she's wearing a khaki baseball cap and is younger.

It's this lady that kept getting in my shots, looking straight at my camera! lol

Ya know, not someone who just happened to be there, also looking or taking pictures, or accidentally popped in your shot unaware - she was one of those people - who either has no sense that other people are taking pictures or actually almost appears to want to be in your shot?  lol

And you'll notice she was in no hurry to move and isn't looking at anything by me and my camera.  In fact, I have three still pictures with that lady in them that I didn't publish lol.




Ah, well, overall, though fairly crowded most people behaved themselves, realized other people were also there, and were fun - but there's always at least one, isn't there?

Regardless, after I climbed back up, went back across, we decided to take the Laurel Branch trail to view the bridge from the nearest overlook ... 















Now, a cute story about the people in this last shot, including the guy acting like he's pouring a bottle of water on his head  lol ...






So this was an Indian family - meaning East India, not Native-American - and the girl filming is filming a wedding - but not for her goofy (step)brother, seen in the picture here, pretending to pour a bottle of water over on his head - but for her "Baba" (dad/father), in the striped shirt on the right -  smiling up at me.

I thought at first it was her parents' anniversary, but I noticed she called the man "Baba," but the woman, she called by her real name instead of "Ma'an" or "Mommy"  - and in fact, it was her widowed father getting remarried  - to a Hindi widow (woman with the arm around her stepdaughter, filming her son).

Although she was also wearing hiking clothes, she donned a red bindi, red arched dots over her eyebrows, and a henna hand tattoo -  signifying pending marriage :)

This is a significant cultural change, because remarriage - especially for female widows - is traditionally a no-no - but these two middle-agers were about to tie the knot :)

(If you've ever read the Ramayana, you will know that it is discouraged for widowed women especially to ever remarry, with Sita - Rama's widow - actually setting herself on fire after Rama's death - and many orthodox/conservative Hindi women still following suit.

However, not so in this Indian family :)

Pretty cool, huh?  

See, all cultures are re-evaluating what they want to keep and what has been counterproductive for them - some customs and traditions we want to keep, others we let blow away with the wind :)

In fact, the groom's daughter is the director of their "film," here, and later encourages them to stand together on a cliff and looking at each other, but it is clear the bride to be feels a bit on display, so the daughter turns on some music (which you can hear in the below clip).

At that point, the groom begins to mock Bollywood movies and dance and sing to her, which makes her laugh, and she joins in, in a little dance.

To which Mark and I laugh and probably heard on their video is me saying, "A do-it-yourself Bollywood film, I love it!"  to which they all laughed and then completely hammed it up on the video in Bollywood musical-drama style and dance, laughing the whole time lol.  They were fun :)

Then we wished them well and told them how cute they were as a couple and how much we loved their music.

Here's a sweeping, panoramic view from Laurel Branch lookout over to Natural Bridge on the right - and although I didn't take pictures/film the pending bride and groom, you can hear their music in the background, especially at the end, with his daughter loudly directly them in Hindi where to stand and what to do lol. 


 




After spending some time at the overlook and another quick hike, we made the sky lift trip down to the gift shop, to pick up some homemade fudge, some cinnamon and cherry candy sticks, a hand-carved wooden Christmas ornament (which is my thing, to get a tree ornament for whatever I go), and Mark got a Bigfoot sticker, because he finds Bigfoot hilarious :) 

I'm a little afraid of heights so the trip down gives me a pause (which is why I used to prefer rock-climbing rather than repelling lol), but it's all good :)



>


We arrived home just in time to see our neighbor's oldest son step out in a tux with his beautiful prom date on his arm - too cute!

(Also no pics, again, private)

"Ah, love is in the aaaiiiir ... " lol 

All in all, a fun Earth Day/Spring Day trip - hope you all are enjoying your Earth Day/Week and Spring, too  :)






Thursday, April 21, 2022

Learning Lessons from Spain and World War II



 A vintage poster from the 1930s during the Spanish Civil War, created by the Spanish Labor Unions in opposition to General Franco. Franco has the face of death, wears the Nazi helmet and bears the swastika, while the Spanish military, monarchy/aristocracy, and the clergy  all follow on/carry his coattails.  Though labeled as propaganda by the Spanish government at the time (and since), it was actually pretty close to the truth, perhaps even more than they knew, at the time.


This post was influenced by two things - my reading more about the history of Spain before we visit there next year, as well as watching a documentary called "The Four Seasons Lodge" about the last of summer communities for Jewish Holocaust survivors in the Catskill Mountains.

(During the 1950s and 1960s, after being disallowed in the white-Christian only resorts in the Catskills, Jewish resorts  in general sprang up everywhere, as their own escape from city life - something they had never been afforded them before.)


Now - the history of Spain and this documentary of a community of Jewish Holocaust survivors may seem very different, at first, but they converge at a point - actually several points - throughout history.

(Forgive me if I get any details wrong, I'm still reading from various sources and learning.  I never just take the word of any one history book, I read several.  Thus, I will correct this post if I find that I've been incorrect. ;)


You see, once upon a time in Spain, up until the 15th century, Christians, Jews, and Muslims lived peaceably together for centuries. 

In fact, though a country full of Catholic-run monarchies, Jews and Muslims held very high positions in court, being very highly educated. 

However, when Ferdinand of Aragon of Isabella of Castile married - yes, that Ferdinand and Isabella, who sponsored Christopher Columbus's trip to the New World - their main goal was "reconquest" of Spain - to unite Spain and "protect Christianity" - which meant expelling all Jews and Muslims as fast as they could.  They also shunned education for the commoners, re-adhering them to the church's position on all matters.




Unfortunately, these were also the most educated of men.

Thus, despite having all the wealth riches of the New World at their disposal, since they shunned educating commoners and had expelled most of their lawyers,  judges, engineers, architects, accountants, bankers, physicians, authors, and artists, they had no one to manage it - the country of Spain remained a largely poor and sick country, with no new architectural, mechanical, or technical advancements, save  a few solely for the monarchy and the church.

Thus, "The Golden Age" of Spain wasn't so golden after all - and even the monarchy had to rely on the rest of Europe for banking and financing, at a heavy interest, having expelled most of the educated and experienced out of their own country for faith reasons.

After which, of course, came the Spanish Inquisition, which meant you forcibly converted to Christian Catholicism or you die - even after being tortured into confession and conversion.




Even after you converted, if were even suspected of adhering to your old faith or speaking Hebrew or Arabic in private, you were tortured into confession (regardless of guilty or not) -  and then you died.

This also applied to the Basques, the Galicians, and the Catalans, too, by the way, who spoke their own languages (the Catalans and Galicians having a Latin-based language, similar but separate from Spanish, and the Basques, who speak a language of origins unknown to this day - it is not Latin-based or Indo-European.   Both regions also speak Spanish today, too, but they have managed to hang on to their language and culture despite all efforts to "cleanse" them of it.


*That is NOT a condemnation of Catholicism itself - all faiths, regardless of denominations within those faiths, have performed similar shameful acts in history at some point - thus, it is a condemnation of any faith, or denomination or faction within that faith, that has engaged in such intolerance,  exile, mistreatment, forced conversion, or murder of those of other faiths and/or races.


(As for me, I am confirmed Episcopalian since 2007 - which was a good balance for me between the charismatic evangelical Christian chaos I was raised in and quiet, contemplative Catholic ritual ( after spending a few years as an atheist/agnostic first :)

Even after the Spanish Inquisition, though there was a brief period of Jesuit influence with a focus on education, Spain nevertheless reverted back to imagining themselves the "protectors of Christianity and Spain"  - which in actuality meant what it usually means - conquer, colonialize, forcibly convert, and kill -  but call it "self-defense" ;)

Regardless,  Spanish regions such as Galicia, Catalonia, and the Basque Country remained at odds with the Spanish government and monarchy, often resulting in conflicts, which ultimately resulted in not only terrorist attacks against one another, but eventually the Spanish Civil War (1936 to 1939).


Unfortunately, as is usually the case, whenever one political side becomes too extremist, too autocratic and dictatorial - whether communist OR fascist -  the other extremist political side gains power, and such was the case in Spain.


Catalan, Basque, and Galician nationalists, wanting their independence from the Spanish-Catholic run  monarchy  and a separation of church and state - plus poor laborers and their unions, tired of poverty and poor working conditions versus the wealthy church and state - made the decision to seek help from communists -  and voila, you have a Civil War. 

Despite a popular election in 1936 putting the left extremists into power, the right extremists revolted - and unfortunately, the end result of which was to go full on far-right military-dictator fascist, with Francisco Franco being that guy.

Helping him into power, of course, were Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy and Fascist Portugal, who sent both supplies and men.




In fact, in 1937, in support of Franco, Hitler sent the Nazi air force to bomb the city of Guernica in the Basque country - wiping it completely off the map and from existence.





... saving one lone tree which is very sacred to the Basques now.




(The town now is a recreation of it's former Greco-Roman/Basque glory, now with Spanish influence.)

Thus was the subject for Picasso's famous grayscale painting "Guernica." 





After Picasso painted Guernica, he expressly stated it would take a world tour and would never return return to Spain until Spain became a full Republic.  Thus, the painting returned to Spain in 1981 (3 years after Spain became a constitutional monarchy), and though it was initially on display at The Prado, it now resides at The Reina Sofia (of modern art), both in Madrid - much to the chagrin of the Basques, who believe the painting should belong to them, especially after the Guggenheim was built in Bilbao in 1997.


In fact, any captured Spanish Republicans were sent to Nazi concentration camps, along with Jews, and in exchange, Franco reportedly gave Hitler a list of Spanish Jews and created a department of his government to monitor Jews and Freemasons (because of their complicated history with the Knights of the Templar, whom the church initially supported and gave carte blanche to do anything they liked, but later labeled heretics, but that's another complicated, messy story, that frankly, no one knows the truth on).  

As for Muslims, since Spain owned some North African cities and Islands as colonies, Franco had a strange alliance - they were not allowed to practice in mainland Spain and were considered lesser citizens.  (Also, he depended upon them to fight in his military versus Spanish Republicans. )

Additionally, it appeared that he and Muslims agreed as far as  extremely conservative social views, but I need to read more on this, as I'm not sure if that's more later white-washing of Franco by his apologist government or not ;)

Because the Franco government later scrambled to distance themselves from fascist alliances.

Non-Spanish people think that Spain was "neutral" during WWII, and this was "officially" the case "on the record,"  I guess -  but the reality and facts of the situation are that Franco wrote to Hitler offering to join the Axis powers and fight, which Hitler didn't take him up on, for reasons I'm unclear on (still reading on this, but my suspicions are because Franco, and Spain in general, were Catholic).


Now - you may be saying to yourself "But ... but ... Franco imagined himself protecting Christianity and Catholicism - how would he and Hitler have wanted to have supported each other, especially since Hitler despised Catholicism?

Aha, Ladies and Gentlemen - and that is the reason why right-wing extremists in the UK and America don't talk about 20th century Franco-era Spain much ;)

Because at the time, Spain was military dictatorship, and though no one tops Nazi Germany for how they treated those of other races, faiths, and political beliefs, like Italy, Spain was a pretty close third when it came to fascism and intolerance, maltreatment, and murder of others of other races, faiths, political beliefs, etc.

The only exception was, of course, Spain's particular brand of fascism also adhered to Christian Catholicism as supreme law - the church and monarchy being in charge (with Franco as executioner - erm - I mean enactor) - under the guises of "protecting Christianity." 


Now, though I'm still reading on why Hitler didn't take Franco up on his offer, what I do know is that Franco didn't actually want to fight the Allied powers because Spain was too dependent on the UK and the US for too much, and again, Franco and Spain itself were Catholic - and Hitler detested Catholicism, which may be the reason?

However, he DID eventually allow Spanish men to fight in WW2, but only on a voluntary basis - and only on the Eastern front against Communist Russia.




Franco ruled Spain with a Catholic-Spanish iron fist until his death in 1973.  (Well, he did chill out a bit in his later years, either due to his own mind change or illness and the people around him started to allow reform.)

He reinstated the church's authority as supreme law, alongside the monarchy, and of course, himself as military dictator to help enact it - and addition to the hundreds of thousands of casualties of the war itself, is estimated to have executed over 150,000 people.

(That is not to say the extreme left/communist party didn't also do their fair share of terrorist acts and executions, including clergy, during this time.)

Franco ruled Spain as its military dictatorial leadership until 1973, and when he had no successor, Spain then became a true democracy in 1977, and a true. constitutional monarchy in 1978.

Well, mostly lol. 

National Spain is still is very conservative and still very closely tied to the church, but the provinces largely ignore them and do their own thing lol. 

(In fact, politicians on both sides of been pretty corrupt in general, regardless of party, in Spain.)

Regardless, Galicians, Basques, and Catalans are now allowed to speak their own language, worship who or whatever they want, and adhere to their own cultural customs freely without fear of sanction or execution, and many provinces - particularly the further south you go - are quite liberal.

Catalans, however, would still like to be completely separate from Spain as their own country.


I have no opinion on any on independence on any of these regions, not being from there and not knowing all of the ins and out -  except  I will say that if a state, province, or small country really wants to be independent from you that badly -  you should probably let them, lest there be trouble.


I do, however, find it odd that the northern provinces now largely consider themselves "right wing"  nationalists as well, which makes no sense by modern definition - especially after Franco -  other than  pride in their own regions - but perhaps I should dig a little deeper into what this means to them.

Now, after reading this history, I became a little concerned with perhaps checking Spain off the list of possible retirement destinations - maybe a great place to visit, but I'm not so sure I'd want to live there, being that it's not that many years removed from right-wing theocratical-monarchial military dictatorship?


I mean, it takes a while to remove all of that cultural-rot crap out of a culture - just look at us.  It's been nearly 300 years and we still adhere to closely to a colonial idea of what a Christianity is - in fact, even a medieval idea of what Christianity is versus who Christ actually was.

Speaking of which, America is pushing dangerously close to Francoism, only evangelical-Christian rather than Catholicism, and they don't even know it - because they never talk about the theocratic/religious fascism of Spain and how closely tied it actually was to Nazi Germany.

I wish they would, because it's an important lesson in how closely related religious fascism actually is to Nazi fascism, as well as how Franco excused everything he did by claiming he was "defending Christianity." 

Hmm.  Well, it's one thing to read history books and another to visit there yourself and see what has changed, so we'll still take a visit next year and see for ourselves, how much has changed in Spain :)


Now - while taking a break from reading, I decided I was in the mood for a good documentary.

I chose to watch "The Four Seasons Lodge," which was filmed in 2007 (released in 2009), and was about one of the last communities of Holocaust survivors, who each year summered in the Catskill Mountains, to dance, drink, and to love each other - to celebrate their freedom and their survival.  Because, as they say, their survival and joyful congregating is the best revenge on Hitler :)








Unfortunately, the Four Seasons Lodge is no more, as most of the survivors have since passed (including a memoriam at the end for those who died after filming).

Most are reluctant to talk about what they experienced, at least in detail, but two of the survivors mentioned that they were at Auschwitz and had experiments performed on them by Mengele - and they survived only because Mengele sent them "to the right."

I had no idea what this meant until later.  It meant that they chose you to be sent to die or to work - and if they chose you to live, they sent you "to the right."

However, all of them lost their parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and were left alone in the world. 

They were liberated, but now where to go, what to do?

Especially as a teenage girl in the 1940s - what options do you have?

Thus, many girls married young out of desperation, which wasn't always a good thing, and yet they remained married.

After one particular lodger briefly states she had a bad marriage, her sister-in-law (they married two brothers), who is her best friend, agrees and says, "When somebody has a bad marriage, we say Hitler was the matchmaker." 

Funny, and yet sad at the same time - and unfortunately true for millions of young Jewish girls and women after the Holocaust, having no other options  :/

And yet as another lodger described it, when they came to America, they searched high and low for remaining survivors and created a family out of them - every year to come together and dance.

They are of course free to talk about what happened during the Holocaust, but most don't, at least not in detail - because they are there to celebrate their survival.

Definitely worth a watch - in fact, I can't stop thinking about it.


Because I don't want this to ever happen again - never again.

We cannot allow extremism - either fascism of the right or  the oligarchical communism of the left - to take root and ever happen again - especially under the guise of "protecting Christianity" like Spain once did. 

Amen?  :)