Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Bobbie Oliver - Comedy


Bobbie Oliver knew she wanted to do stand-up comedy from a very early age. “When I was 19 years old, I used to watch The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” she says. “I was so in love with Gary Shandling, The Smothers Brothers and other comics, but when I saw Roseanne Barr on television I realized I could do stand-up, too.”

Success was not easy for Bobbie, but she learned that comedy was a voyage, not a destination. “My goals were immature when I was new to the art form.”

Like most comics new to Los Angeles, The Tao of Comedy author and comedian wanted to be on television, but as she performed and eventually began to teach stand-up, she realized that within the art of the joke, there were essential truths about living life waiting to be discovered. “When I started to get into Buddhism and Taoism I didn’t make the connection to how it would affect my comedy until I started teaching and people started to ask me questions and I had to come up with answers for them,” she says. “That’s when I realized that I was dealing with something that was organic, similar to the principles of Buddhism and Taoism. I had taken comedy classes, but the books I had read didn’t seem to grasp that concept.”


One concept she had learned to appreciate both onstage and in her study of the Tao was mindfulness, the idea of being in the moment, totally aware. To Bobbie, part of the Tao is that we are all unique. A stand-up comic doesn’t need to craft a character, they are their persona. “People would say, what is your persona? I started young, and I’ve been doing comedy for 27 years now. There are things I’ve learned in just the last 10 years. When you search for your persona, you are searching your one true self,” she says. ”God turns himself into myriad things to see himself from that point of view. That is our job. You are doing a disservice to your true self if you adopt a persona. That’s why so many comedians go wrong; they try to do an impression of a person instead of being themselves.”

Bobbie teaches comedy and presents shows at her own place, The Tao Comedy Studio. Part of her training is the concept that a stand-up comic shouldn’t just be a hollow joke machine, but a force of justice for the oppressed in a world of prejudice. “I teach that comics should punch up, they shouldn’t punch down. Don’t make jokes about homeless people. Make fun of the system that put them there.” In a proper joke, homeless people aren’t the target . . . they are the ones pulling the trigger. “It used to be that the audience was only straight white dudes. They would tell jokes about Asians or black people. But now a lot of marginalized audiences are starting to be heard and comedy has changed,” she says. “Mean comedy is wrong. Stand-up comics should be using their powers for good, not evil.”


Bobbie has made it easier for women by presenting an open mic show, for women only. “I wanted to give women a place to where they could just share experiences with each other and bond. Since there are like 20 spots in a lineup and just one woman, other women won’t get a chance to perform,” she says. In addition to giving women greater opportunity, the event also serves as group therapy where female comics can bond. “If you put even one man in the room, women start to get competitive. I noticed that when no men were in the audience, it was a more positive, spiritual experience.”

Although she is not a canna-comic, Bobbie believes that cannabis cures a lot of ills that pharmaceuticals can’t, and she has tried many solutions during her long, turbulent career in the entertainment industry. “If it wasn’t for pot I’d be dead or in jail. I’d be in a totally different place right now if I couldn’t smoke it,” she says.


www.bobbieoliver.net

www.TheTaoOfComedy.com

Friday, December 16, 2016

Cannabis and the Military - The Weird


After World War II many experts in the CIA and the military agreed that fighting the Cold War against communism meant understanding, and engaging in, psychological warfare operations. This included studying the effects of psychedelic pharmaceuticals, including cannabis, on the human mind for the purposes of using the plant as a weapon.

In 1950 the CIA began project BLUEBIRD. Declassified documents relative to BLUEBIRD indicate that the government wanted to explore subjects as hypnotizing a person into betraying their moral principles, inducing an unwilling person into performing tasks against their will, mind controlling people into crashing planes or wrecking other vehicles while operating them, altering the personality of captured enemy spies and creating total amnesia in operatives for enhanced operations security.

Eventually the military began investigating ways of using cannabis to nullify an enemy without firing a shot. One scientist, Dr. Edward Domino, used a cannabis concentrate called “Red Oil,” which he developed by using it to get monkeys and dogs so stoned they couldn’t move. Since paralyzed solders can’t pull triggers, the military knew they were onto something, and BLUEBIRD evolved into project MKULTRA.


The CIA divided MKULTRA into three portions. One group studied ESP. Another studied how to control the mind of a person remotely. The final group studied hypnosis for the purposes of brainwashing subjects. They used a cornucopia of chemical concoctions to further this aim, including heroin, morphine, mescaline, magic mushrooms, alcohol, sodium pentothal and even cannabis. Interesting as it is, we’ll never know exactly what the CIA discovered since all documents pertaining to MKULTRA were annihilated by the director of the agency at the time, Richard Helm.

Meanwhile, Dr. James Ketchum, a scientist stationed at center for the U.S. Army Chemical Corps in Maryland, began experiments on soldiers in the 60’s that expanded upon large portions of Dr. Domino’s previous research. Soldiers were given massive doses of cannabis extracts and studied closely. Experiments revealed that when under the influence soldiers became confused, apathetic and eventually completely immobilized. Some had conversations with invisible entities lasting for days.

Dr. Ketchum eventually created a compound that could be sprayed upon enemy combatants to render them invalid. “Paradoxical as it may seem,” he said, “one can use chemical warfare to spare lives, rather than extinguish them.” By 1975 officials claim that both the CIA and the military had abandoned studying cannabis because it wasn’t predictable and powerful enough to suit their purposes, so they focused on LSD.


Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) afflicts many military veterans of armed conflicts, resulting in many negative debilitating psychological effects including insomnia, rage disorder, anxiety, avoidance, etc. One group, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, studies PTSD and possible treatments for it, including using cannabinoids, an active compound in cannabis.

According to one report written by Lee,  “Researchers found that people with PTSD had lower levels of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid compound, compared to those who did not show signs of PTSD…innate to all mammals, anandamide triggers the same receptors that are activated by THC and other components of the marijuana plant.”

In other words, veterans with PTSD are missing a compound that cannabis replenishes. Without this compound, mental issues result. If the body can’t produce it, thanks to PTSD, cannabis can help. This is great news for all military, especially since new legislation allows military veterans to use cannabis without risking their benefits. What began as a weapon is now a medicine, and the many medical cannabis patients who have been healed by the plant probably aren’t surprised.


REFERENCES

Weinburger, Sharon. “Army’s Hallucinogenic Weapons Unveiled.” Wired, www.wired.com/2007/04/the_secrets_of_/

Rahn, Bailey. “Cannabis and Post-Traumatic Stess Disorder (PTSD).” Leafly, www. leafly.com/news/health/cannabis-and-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/

Marks, John. The Search for the Manchurian Candidate: The CIA and Mind Control, Times Books, 1979.

Hidell, Tom A. “CIA’s Greatest Hits: Project MK-ULTRA.” Illuminatirex, CIA's Greatest Hits Project MK-ULTRA Illuminati Rex.html

"Edgewood Arsenal Chemical Agent Exposure Studies 1955–1975". United States Department of Defense, Force Health Protection & Readiness, Medical Countermeasures website. Retrieved 2013-06-19.

 Researchers tested pot, LSD on Army volunteers Richard Willing, USA TODAY, 4/6/2007

Lee, Martin A. “Synthetic Pot as a Military Weapon? Meet the Man Who Ran the Secret Program”. Alternet, Synthetic Pot as a Military Weapon_ Meet the Man Who Ran the Secret Program _ Alternet.html

Monday, December 5, 2016

Is Cannabis a Cure for AIDS? - Cannabis


Just recently the Journal of Leukocyte Biology published an abstract entitled, ”Attenuation of HIV-1 replication in macrophages by cannabinoid receptor 2 agonists,” which references a series of experiments conducted by scientists at the Temple University School of Medicine Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that indicates infection by the HIV-1 virus (responsible for AIDS) can be slowed down by the introduction of an agonist that hinders the disease by way of activating CB2 receptors. Cannabinoids, one of the active ingredients of cannabis, is one such agonist.

CB2 receptors work by stimulating immune system of the human body to heal itself from, among other things, cellular decay, reducing tissue inflammation and managing pain. While THC only stimulates CB1 receptors in such a way as to create a psychoactive sensation (also known as, “being high”), CB2 receptors can capture the therapeutic chemical properties of THC and use them for the good of the human body. This stimulating can also apparently help fight AIDS.


One of the ways HIV-1 does it deadly work is by infiltrating macrophages, a common type of cell found within most human tissues. After infecting tissues samples with HIV-1, scientists noted tissues samples with increased CB2 function were able to partially fight off the virus. Although the team remarked in their abstract that this doesn’t exactly mean that smoking cannabis can cure AIDS, the presence of cannabinoids is clearly a factor in preventing HIV-1 infection and increasing CB2 receptor function to the point of bolstering the immune system against the disease.

Dr. Patricia E. Molina, a scientist at the Louisiana State University, recently published a study within the pages of the scientific journal Aids Research and Human Retroviruses that described how for 17 months her research team administered high doses of THC (another active ingredient in cannabis) to rhesus monkeys infected by SIV, a disease similar to the HIV-1 virus dangerous to humans.

Their findings clearly indicated that monkeys with THC in their system not only fared better than their non-THC peers, but in some instances were beating the infection. As the HIV-1 virus in their bodies destroyed cells, the CB2 receptors responded by increasing cell growth, preventing the virus from infiltrating the blood stream and doing further damage.


Dr. Molina had not expected this result when she had originally began the experiment. “When we started the study, we thought [THC] was going to increase viral load [the amount of the HIV virus that is present in the gut],” Dr. Molina said in an interview with Leaf Science. Instead, THC did the opposite of her expectations. “It adds to the picture and it builds a little bit more information around the potential mechanisms that might be playing a role in the modulation of the infection.”

Despite this evidence and more, a serious scientific study cannot be conducted within the United States because our federal government still considers cannabis to be a Schedule I drug. It is impossible to test an illegal drug on humans, so whether or not cannabis truly does fight cancer is still largely theoretical until the law changes and further studies can be done in an effort to fight a disease that still kills thousands of Americans across the country every year.



Friday, December 2, 2016

The Monster in Stranger Things, Part V - The Weird


This is Part V of an exploration into the nature of Demogorgon (or The Monster, as I prefer to call it) in the Netflix sci-fi/horror masterpiece, Stranger Things. You can read Part I here, Part II here, Part III here and Part IV over here. Spoiler alerts will follow.

MKSEARCH

Early on in the show, Eleven is tracking Russian agents with her mind while scientists study the results. This whole scene is a reference to Project MKSEARCH, which was another program that came out of MKULTRA. It was primarily intended to program people to have ESP, telepathy, and all that other psychotropic funky mind trip stuff. Just like the Russians, the American government wanted to make sure they could either do it themselves, or that it couldn’t work.

What they found, according to conspiracy theory investigators who give more a fuck about it than we do, is pretty horrific. Dr. Cameron was involved, once again, but so was a new mad scientist, Dr. Sidney Gottlieb. Together they performed more than 150 experiments using chemicals to control the minds of “expendables,” homeless people, children from foster homes, etc. that the government had found to test the chemicals. In 1972 the CIA destroyed all files related to this project. What exactly they discovered, we will never know.

You’ll notice that in the show there is mention of how Eleven’s mother took drugs as part of the government’s investigation into psychic behavior. This is one of the common threads that runs throughout the horrifying story that is our government’s investigation into psychic behavior, according to the conspiracy theories…that the government is testing a drug that will give a person psychic powers, whenever the government wants them to.

Sure, having a mind controlled, programmed wind-up toy is fun, but the ability to give a person, any person in the government psychic powers is something that any government would have to be insane to not want to have. Imagine the potential if you could give a diplomat, politician or spy telepathy or the ability to kill with their mind. It would certainly be better than mind controlling a person who already has psychic powers naturally. You could affect politics on a global scale. 


COMMON CONCEPTS

Running through all of the MK programs that deal with the study of mind control, paranormal and psychic behavior are two important concepts that explain what the government was up to, if the conspiracy theories so many people have written about are to be believed. One is drugs. Over and over, drugs are used to induce behavior, control minds, etc. Go ahead and research all of these programs for yourself. From the Nazi’s to the modern era, you will find that the Powers That Be apparently really want to study drugs, almost as much as the human mind.

The other common concept is systematic sexual abuse, especially in regards to children.

MORE MKOFTEN THAN NOT

I have already mentioned MKOFTEN, and don’t worry…all the usual evil mad scientists end up involved in this conspiracy theory. What is very important is that authors who have worked on the subject like Peter Levenda mention that in this project, and other projects, people with psychic powers were locked in copper lined Faraday cages. Science often uses these cages to block out electromagnetic energy in order to sterilize the environment for outside influence in order to work on very precise, sensitive electronics. Apparently, Faraday cages also increase pyschic power.

When Eleven is forced to hide inside a closet, she has a flashback to when her own father had scientists drag her away from him, traumatized and screaming, into a dark room of sorts. Look over her left shoulder as the image fade to black. The wall is copper. She is in a Faraday cage…a reference to all of the conspiracy theories we’ve just gone through to figure out The Monster.

At one point in the series, Eleven is told by the scientists to kill a cat with her mind, but she doesn’t do it. Think carefully…we are given precious little information about the experiences the little girl had in the lab, so that scene is important. It shows us she won’t take innocent life. But a fragment of her personality, a shard of her psyche, a splinter personality, based on brute-force survival programming, fight or flee psychological instinct…maybe that would. When she first contacts the psychic Russian agent, she walks up to the man and then turns around when she hears The Monster, becoming aware of it.


In the next scene, an obviously upset, traumatized Eleven is alone in a room with her father, a stuffed lion and tulip (tulip/tulpa) flowers. He tells her it chose her, whatever that means. After that, she finds it, touches it, and screams, opening a wormhole into time, space and her own mind, pulling The Monster into the real world, where it destroys and kills with bestial abandon.

By the way, did you notice the time gap at this point? When Eleven summons The Monster, she is wearing a strange, flesh-colored diving suit. When she escapes, she is wearing her hospital gown. Right after she screams, and the massive crack opens in the wall of the lab, we don’t see anything else for a while. The Monster escaped, later. Eleven escaped, later. Time passed…but we don’t know how much. I think we are all going to see more from this missing section when we watch Stranger Things 2.

You have probably figured out by now that the flesh-colored diving suit is a nod to the audience that The Monster is her. Even the helmet makes her head look bulbous and strange. If she had been put in a blue diving suit, The Monster would have been a different color.

PSYCHOLOGICAL THEORY

Modern psychology believes that a human personality is comprised of three sections, the ego, the superego, and the id. The superego is the idealistic part of your brain. That section handles ethics, conscious and morality. If you feel bad because you betrayed an old friend, your superego makes you feel that way. The ego is you, your personality…your self. The id is all of your basic instincts. Anger. Sex. Hunger. Fight. Flee. When you were a little baby, you were basically a screaming id. The ego and the superego came later.


I find it very horrifying, but equally important, that Eleven is always seen with a hospital gown. She doesn’t ever seem to wear normal clothes when she is inside the lab. A hospital gown isn’t exactly a great thing to wear for a long time, seeing as how it doesn’t protect or cover up your body, south of the belt buckle. It is also eerie that she is so willing to strip naked in front of the boys, when she thinks she has been told to strip and change. What kind of terrible environment did she grow up in?

There is also something else…the strange absence of images and visual influences around Eleven in the lab, especially in her cell. Aside from her father, the tulips, the stuffed lion and a few other things, she really doesn’t have a lot to look at and influence her imagination. This was probably done on purpose.

Right before she is dragged away from her father, she is wearing a hospital gown and has been traumatized. Right before she is told to contact The Monster, Eleven seems traumatized, wearing a hospital gown, alone with her father. Even her father’s behavior when he finally gets Eleven is odd. It doesn’t exactly seem like a healthy father/daughter relationship.


There is another thing. Eleven’s father’s skin tone is the same skin tone as The Monster. During the fight with The Monster inside Will’s house later on in the series, when the teens attack it with fire, bullets, a bear trap and a phallic baseball bat, the teens aren’t as tall as The Monster. Compared to it, the teens are almost half its size. Compared to her father, Eleven is almost half his size.

Because The Monster is a reflection of her id, and it looks like things that are in her imagination, combining the images of a tulip, a naked man, sexual imagery, a stuffed lion and raw, animal biology. Was there ever a conspiracy theory that featured a rampaging id monster conjured from a person’s mind, like a scientific tulpa? Of course there is…everything is on the Internet, even pure evil. Maybe if we can find a conspiracy theory about an, “id monster,” for lack of a better term, we could prove my wacky theory…

To be continued!


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Is Cannabis a Cure for Cancer? - Cannabis


            As mainstream medical science continues to explore the healing properties of cannabis, research indicates the plant has several properties that reduce the risk of cancer in people who smoke it. Some scientists believe cannabis could even be cancer’s proverbial silver bullet.
            Most cannabis smokers will admit that while cannabis is great for what ails them, it certainly can’t be good for the insides of their lungs. However, experiments performed at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) suggest smoking cannabis might actually prevent lung cancer.
            Dr. Donald Tashkin is a pulmonologist at the UCLA. He has studied the effects of marijuana smoking since the 1980’s. Agencies, institutes and think tanks across the country often reference his work.
            He performed a study to determine if there was a link between lung cancer and smoking cannabis. Although marijuana does contain the same chemicals in tobacco that cause cancer, Dr. Tashkin discovered that chemical compounds in cannabis protected the human body from tumor growth.


            While patients who smoked tobacco were twenty times more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers, cannabis smokers showed no increased risk. Dr. Tashkin believes the THC, one of the psychoactive components within marijuana, kills aging and unhealthy cells before tumors can form.
            In another scientific study performed in Spain, research scientists at Madrid's Complutense and Autonoma Universities separated 30 laboratory rats with brain cancer into two groups of 15. One group was given infusions of THC to treat their affliction.
            The first untreated group died in two weeks. 9 of the THC-infused rats lived longer than a month, and 3 of the rats were cured. Scientists believe that THC causes cancerous cells to die prematurely, leaving healthy cells unharmed.
            In October of 2003 the medical journal Nature Reviews published an article written by world-famous cancer treatment research scientist Dr. Manuel Guzman that discussed in great detail the antitumor effects of cannabinoids.
Cannabinoids are one of the principle chemical compounds found in cannabis.


            Dr. Guzman discovered in study after careful study that cannabinoids selectively target cancerous tumors, destroying them, and at the same time even protect non-cancerous cells from harm.
            Another study conducted by scientists at the California Pacific Medical Center of San Francisco also found that THC, in many experiments, destroyed cancerous brain cells without harming the healthy ones.
            The Italians are also part of the march to cure cancer with cannabis. In July of 1998 research conducted at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that cannabinoids prevented tumor growth in cells of patients afflicted with breast cancer.
            During the 90’s the federal government used $2 million taxpayer dollars to conduct research on cancer in mice and rats. Conducted by the U.S. National Toxicology Program, conclusively determined that THC protected cells from cancer.
            Upon reaching this conclusion, the federal government hid the results. The report was leaked to AIDS Treatment News and the results were later published in the national media, but despite the positive results, the federal government has yet to conduct further research.
            As the country gets greener with legalization, many people can attest to the beneficial effects of cannabis for treating their symptoms. If more knew about the research that indicates cannabis just might cure cancer, the legalization effort would attract greater numbers.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Henry Rollins - Music


Ever since the death of Samuel Clemens in 1910, the country has been in constant need of home-grown, brutally honest authors to gaze upon our world with x-ray perception and tell us the real truth of how we are doing things right or wrong, regardless of who we are or the extent of the backlash. Henry Rollins is a musician, performer and writer that has been doing just that with his regular journalistic contributions to magazines such as Details, LA Weekly, Vanity Fair and The Huffington Post.

Along with his stand up comedy, spoken word performances and YouTube series, “WordswithMeaning!” the critical observations of Rollins have been the perfect vehicle for a sustained, uncompromising assault upon hypocrites, idiots and pundits on both the left and the right at a time when everyone else seems to be lining up to kiss a large amount of corporate and/or government ass to make a buck.

Although the term has been used so many times it is nearly a cliché, “Renaissance Man” is the best way to describe the modern American philosopher known to the world asHenry Rollins. He’s been the lead singer of the legendary southern California hardcore punk band Black Flag, and was the front man for the critically-acclaimed, commercially successful Rollins Band. He’s also performed alongside Robert DeNiro in Heat, played a cop hunting down Charlie Sheen in The Chase, has appeared on David Lynch’s cult classic Lost Highway, and held his own as a central antagonist on the cable epic outlaw biker series “Sons of Anarchy”.


While Rollins was doing all of that he also won a Grammy for Get in the Van: On the Road with Black Flag, and authored the spoken word classics Black Coffee Blues and Think Tank. After getting his start in radio in 2004 as the host for Harmony in My Head on Indie 103.1 FM Los Angeles, in 2009 he began hosting a live show Saturday nights on KCRW 88.9 FM public news radio, where he combines kissaki-sharp analysis with cutting edge music for the massively perceptive. What’s next for a man with a career as intricate, illustrious and revolutionary as Henry Rollins?

I am sure you have a lot going on right now. What projects are keeping you busy?

The super boring job of proof reading and editing a lot of material. One of the books I have coming out is easy to wrap up, but the others will take a lot of surgery. Editing books takes a lot of time in between working, meetings and auditions. That’s what I do when I’m not touring. I’m also looking for employment.


It’s hard to imagine a person as prolific as yourself looking for a job.

It’s a non-tour year. Last year I did nearly 190 shows. It gets to the point where shows are still coming in, but the tour is booked so your calendar gets pretty marked up. Now it’s a non-tour year, I’m in this interesting position of having some solid jobs, I have a lot of contract stuff to do, but I still have to look for employment. That necessitates pitch meetings and auditions. Yesterday I was in a line thirty people long auditioning just for a microscopic role on a television show. We’ve mostly been pitching ideas for shows that I might be plugged into.

It is an interesting position, one year you are the guy, you are on the billboard, the marquee, and the next year you are in line hoping some casting person who doesn’t know you will throw you a bone. It’s good, though, that it keeps you humble.

What kind of show would you want to do? I could easily imagine you as the History Channel equivalent of Anthony Bourdain.

I’d like to do a show that tells you where and how the history books got it wrong. Just an entire series where we point out the facts and reveal how history is written by the winners, so of course the winners give themselves a white hat.

For example, if you tell a person in rural American that we lost the Vietnam War, you’ll be eating your dinner through a straw in your neck because he’ll break your jaw. But if you go over to Vietnam today, the Vietnamese have moved on. They are very sure they won that war, because they survived it. That’s how they think. “We are still alive, so you didn’t beat us.” What I mean is…there are a lot of ways to look at any historical event.


A cable television show that tells the real truth about the history of America? That’s way too controversial for prime time.

Doing that kind of show would be interesting to me, but since so many channels have corporate investors, you have to go with Current TV or some other equivalent, but they couldn’t afford to do it because they are always broke.

Watch the Fox News financial channel. They keep saying that we’re in a big recession so you have to invest in Home Depot. To people like that, someone else’s disaster is a shot in the arm for the economy.

When it comes to Hollywood, it’s all about the money, and a big part of that is maintaining a corporate-approved, advertising-friendly environment.When you go into the entertainment industry as a worker bee, and see how the sausage is made, you really see how it’s all just based on a scorched earth policy. You end up having really mercenary conversations with people, when it comes to what you will do.

Nobody would wants to see a show that tells people the truth. They might know too much. They won’t fight our wars for us, fill our prisons for us. They’ll question authority. When you sell bombs and bullets for a living, you push a political agenda that’s going to make you the most money.

You don’t touch cannabis, but you support its legalization. What is your honest opinion about this controversial topic?

Smoking marijuana, in my opinion, is a monumental waste of time, but I’m not going to slap it out of your hand. But I not only want it legalized, I want it decriminalized. At least then you won’t go to jail for smoking it.

I see marijuana as just another stimulant. I fear alcohol. It fuels a guy up so he punches his wife and drives his car into a tree. I’m afraid of a person buying two AR-15’s and shooting up a shopping mall…that guy should get marijuana. I fear stupidity in America more than I fear someone buying weed.


My question is, will the states have the intestinal fortitude to retroactively free the black prisoners who are unfairly incarcerated for using marijuana if it’s legalized?

Probably not. The prison-industrial complex would lose a lot of money if it happened. I don’t think President Obama could ever let it happen.

I remember how, at one point I thought of the term, “prison-industrial complex.” I looked it up, and it turns out someone else thought of it a long time ago. Once they legalize it. Maybe the incarcerated won’t get their money back, but at least they will be free.

Obama may be against it, but the states have the tenth amendment, and can tell him to piss up a rope. But if it’s legalized then everyone who went to jail the month before over a back pocket full of weed should be let out.

The real problem is, if you decriminalize marijuana, you have a lot less opportunity to put Johnny in jail. It’s the prison-industrial complex. You see how much money is spent. The prison guard union is one of the strongest unions in America. They sell light bulbs for prisons, cement, paper, the food, and they need Johnny to break more laws. They say they are fighting crime, they are building prisons. Who’s making the money?

Why is it that cannabis still illegal in America?

Because brown skinned people grow, sell and use it. A lot of those Fox news assholes smoked it in college, but now they use coffee and martinis, so it’s only for faggot hippies. “I’m a responsible chemical dependant. I use booze. It’s just five martinis.”

Pot, by comparison, is messy. You are buying a plant from someone that is not in a vacuum sealed, federally-approved package at the local 7-11. Besides, everyone out there is buying weed right now, anyway. Why not just legalize it?


What is the cannabis legalization movement doing wrong?

By having guys and gals going to the medical cannabis places with their bullshit hangnail prescriptions. For most, it’s a scam. Oh, you hurt your knee so I’m going to write you a prescription for your hangnail.

But the reason why the legalization movement is such a clusterfuck is because there is no clear political plan. The first time I saw medical marijuana, I was at a friend’s house. His mother would smoke these government-approved medical marijuana cigarettes. My friend would steal them. Medical marijuana is never in a black or white area. It’s always in the grey.

That’s obviously the case in a lot of places. Since we are already there, why not just legalize it? It’s stupid how someone with cancer pain has to worry about being arrested. If marijuana can help, why wouldn’t you want them to feel better? Why would you be okay with them being in pain? If you can help someone, right now, why won’t you? We are supposed to promote the general welfare; it says so in the Preamble to the Constitution.

What is your best advice for proponents of cannabis legalization?

As a non-smoking, marijuana decriminalization proponent, I would go at in as sensibly and legally as I could. Take into account the people who oppose you. They count on you to be unkempt, sloppy, illegal and high. Don’t go into an intellection battle high. Go in with your facts and figures and stats tattooed on your brain pan. When you do that, an opponent will still have to respect you for it.
Fortunately, the world is changing. The President actually mentioned the word gay. That set a precedent. In a hundred years they will talk about Barack Obama and how he said, “Gay brothers and sisters.”  That took a lot of brass.


In a political world, if you say that you smoke cannabis you might as well be say you like to make it with little kids and sheep. All the other side has to say is, “My opponent wants your son to get high at school.” Why can’t someone say, “My opponent likes wine so he wants your son to get drunk at school.

But they are elected officials. They are in a very precarious position. I get a second chance, if I screw up. They don’t.  If someone loses an election, he doesn’t get to come back. You can say you back gay marriage, but that is as red hot as you get. Saying yes to marijuana has to no longer be seen as, “He said what!?”

Your country is changing very rapidly, though. If I was writing for a cannabis-based magazine, I would be showing that marijuana smokers are not the funny characters the media always depicts, but that they are doctors and lawyers…professional, responsible people, just like the people who drink four beers and watch the game after working at the office all day.

In this transition to a weed economy, there is going to be a drunken sailor syndrome. When you take a sailor off the boat he’s going to drink his paycheck. There’s going to be a transition. As Joseph Stalin said, “When you cut wood, chips fly.” Someone will abuse weed. It’s going to happen. They are going to drive recklessly, have THC in their blood, and a bunch of people will overreact because of it. But let’s face it, cannabis is already out there. Legalizing it will not change anything.


Check out Henry Rollins at his official website, right here: http://www.henryrollins.com

http://ireadculture.com/henry-rollins-a-man-of-integrity

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Monster in Stranger Things, Part IV


I am sorry I took so long. Halloween is always very busy for me, and by the time I was done, there was no time to post anything on my humble website because I had to make money doing freelance writing, the moonlight was in my eyes, and I had to see a man about a hearse. Here is more information to back up my awesome theory. 

This is Part IV of an exploration into the nature of Demogorgon (or The Monster, as I prefer to call it) in the Netflix sci-fi/horror masterpiece, Stranger Things. You can read Part I here, Part II here and Part III over here. Spoiler alerts will follow, as usual. 

(HELL)O AGAIN

I dropped da bomb regarding my theory several weeks ago. Instead of debating with people who do not believe my theory, it has been more enlightening to read the ideas of others and see if their ideas were more bullet-proof than what I came up with. So far I am quite pleased. In discussing their own ideas, nobody has dived into the conspiracy theories that make up the mythology of Stranger Things, which is very important to the work, in order to explain what The Monster is. 

I’d like to apologize if I mislead anyone into thinking that The Monster in Stranger Things is Eleven’s alter ego. It is not. I referenced other films that dealt with similar themes regarding spontaneously appearing imaginary beings in order to show that the Netflix series was dealing with material that actually had roots in previous film and literature. Now I am going to talk about a few more films, and then I am going to dive into the conspiracy theories that make up The Monster.


That being said, throughout the first episode X-Men #134 is mentioned a lot. In this comic, Phoenix, a female character with awesome psychic powers (including telekinesis) has a dramatic personality change (mind control is involved, of course) and becomes an alter ego, Dark Phoenix, turning evil. The Duffer Brothers would not have mentioned this comic without a good reason.

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY

The Duffer Brothers did not just reference other films when they were creating the series. They also referenced conspiracy theories on the Internet. Sure, the cinematography, subject matter and other themes draw from serious literary and film influences, but the writing goes beyond that to fulfill its objective. The Internet is a gigantic library of logic and instinct, magik and science, business and entertainment. While wacky conspiracy theories make up much of Stranger Things, so does quantum physics, forbidden science and black magik.

RANDOM CHAOS

The fantastic yet horrific story the Duffer brothers told to entertain us did not include a creature that had no rules whatsoever. If it did, the audience would notice and the story would suffer. Most horror films deal with adversaries that have supernatural origins. However, the supernatural elements still follow guidelines, either because a proper authority tells us the rules, or because the monster in question is based on some cultural mythology that has rules we already understand since we are familiar with the legend, thanks to previous sources. Werewolves can be killed by silver bullets. Vampires can be killed by stakes through the heart. You know the drill, once reminded.


THE RING

The Ring is a horror film about a little girl who dies, becoming a ghost that kills people. In life she expired because her parents dumped the little girl into a well, leaving her to die. Now, anyone who doesn’t share the videotape of her insane, macabre mental images is doomed to be killed by her avenging, somewhat digital image. The bodies seem to be dead because of a heart attack induced by fear. This makes sense. I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House features a similar series of circumstances. In The Ring, you have to share the videotape, or you will die. Think about it. The little girl was ignored. Now everyone has to pay attention to her, or they die. Too bad the whole world abandoned VHS for DVD a long time ago.

THE GRUDGE

In The Grudge, a father killed his wife, his child and a cat in his house, somewhere in Japan, right before he committed suicide. Because of this, anyone who enters the former docile of the murdered, doomed family is under a curse. No matter where they go the person sees images of the family until they are killed by the angry ghosts, usually because they have lethal heart attacks induced by fear. While the haunting that kills people seems to have random elements, there is still a pattern by which the narrative is still infused with drama. People walk into the house where the murders occurred. They see something horrible. Bad stuff happens to them in the form of hallucinations that are reminiscent of the members of the family until either the father or the mother kills them. Simple rules. Don’t go in the house, unless you don't enjoy terror, hallucinations and death.

NO RULES?

Just as the Duffer brothers looted past films for Stranger Things, they looted the Internet in a similar way for The Monster. Eleven has rules. So does the splinter from her personality that has incarnated from her mind to terrorize the world. Imagine a series where the monsters had no rules? 1977’s House, a Japanese horror film, seems to be this way. A pack of young girls go to a house where a crazy old woman is hanging out with her cat. Without explanation, bad stuff happens.


A chandelier shoots crystals at people. A young girl loses her head in a well, and it flies around and bites people. A piano eats a young woman. Stacks of flaming wood attack people. People look into mirrors and see monstrous versions of themselves until their face shatters like glass. Monstrous phantasms appear. Chandeliers eat heads. Turns out it is the old woman, but if you destroy her painting of a cat blood shoots out and people burn alive. WTF. Don’t go in the House

Watching a series like that would become the opposite of fun, fast. Why is this stuff happening? Why should we care if everything seems so random? Why get attached to characters that randomly die in hallucinogenic ways? The Walking Dead has gone on for many years using the same old rules for their zombies. As an audience, we can handle mystery early on when we are enjoying our monsters, but after a while the novelty fades and somebody who seems to know what they are doing appears and explains all the chaos.

DEMOGORGON

Eleven has telekinesis, controls electricity and can open wormholes into another dimension using electromagnetism. The Monster detects electricity, follows it, devours the energy, can open wormholes into another dimension  and also has electromagnetism. (Sharks can also detect electricity, using a process called electroreception.) It can manipulate objects (before Will gets grabbed, it uses telekinesis to open the lock on the door). Then, it creates a wormhole to suck the person into The Veil of Shadows. It is also large, strong and somewhat invulnerable. It can be slowed down, fought off or temporarily evaded, but Demogorgon seems to be pretty unstoppable, according to its own rules. Where did those rules come from? At one point the characters have a meeting about The Monster, and compare the thing to some sort of primordial beast or roving animal. There is a sense that it is not evil, just doing what it does to exist.


There are many fascinating blogs and YouTube videos that attempt to figure out more about it based on the show itself, which is an intelligent approach. My plan is to use the Internet and explore other angles by using conspiracy theories, the occult and quantum physics, plus some weird, evil science stories, to give you all more information to help back up my theory, and show that the Duffer brothers really have done an amazing job of explaining a demon in a story by avoiding the occult and embracing the darker side of scientific experiments our world is heir to, all the way back to WWII.

CONSPIRACY THEORY CHAOS?

The heart of the argument is the combined conspiracy theories the Duffer brothers accessed to make their monster. Yes, there are many old influences affecting the cinematography, the casting (I am sure you noticed the Sheriff looked like Jack Nicholson in The Shining), the credits, etc., but brand new influences kept it all fresh. Instead of basing The Monster on Germanic legends of the Black Annis, myths about werewolves or stories about zombies, the Duffer brothers mined conspiracy theories found on the Internet. Each of these modern myths provided a piece of the overall idea that made Demogorgon. I am going to run through them, pointing out the pieces as we go. Without these conspiracy theories, you don’t have Eleven, you don’t have The Monster, and you don’t have Stranger Things.


MKULTRA

Back during WWII the Nazi’s had a lot of disposable people, some really evil individuals running the show, and a scientific drive to do anything, and commit atrocities of any nature, to control everybody Adolf Hitler wanted controlled. People were chosen from concentration camps for Nazi scientists to experiment on. There were no rules, no ethics and no limits. Massive funding, unlimited bodies, anything goes. Only Satan knows what they came up with.

At the end of WWII, many Nazi scientists ended up in America, thanks to Operation Paperclip. The American government wanted the knowledge these scientists possessed, especially because the USA thought fighting the USSR was more important than anything. One of these scientists, Dr. Josef Mengele, ended up in our country where the CIA put him to work experimenting on people the same way the former Nazi experimented on Jews in the name of science, fascism and evil.

MKULTRA is discussed in Stranger Things. What is important is that this program led to many, many other programs. The scientists at Hawkins are certainly cut from the same bloody cloth as the Nazi’s that worked on mind control project for der Furher, and Eleven is certainly the product of these horrific experiments. Just ask her mother. The work that is being done at the lab goes much further, leading to other, darker projects. Sure, Eleven’s mother was the product of MKULTRA, according to the series, but what is going on at the Hawkins Lab is not that project.

PROJECT MONARCH

Mengele wasn’t the only wacky Nazi scientist engaged in hijinks and goings on involving the torture and experimentation of human beings. Another evil expert on the subject was a very terrible guy named General Reinhard Gehlen, who ended up in America in 1945 after helping Hitler spy on Russians using scientific experiments best described on Reddit under the Horror section. According to researchers on the subject that specialized in conspiracy theories, anything Mengele didn’t do, Gehlen did, and they continued their work in America, torturing human beings while Americans paid the bill.

For decades experts agree that Gehlen continued to explore the human mind for the CIA, dedicated to creating the perfect spies and assassins using hypnotism, the occult, drugs, electroshock therapy, sexual molestation, trauma and everything else they could think of to break a human mind, splinter it into fragments, so that each piece formed a shard, or alter, that was programmed to do different acts according to their subliminal control. Crazy, fun stuff, right?

Later on, another name pops up: Dr. Donald Ewan Cameron, a psychiatrist whose favorite method was to attach metal helmets to the heads of his subjects, electrocuting them into comas so he could remake their personality. ‘Member the strange, wire covered helmet Eleven is wearing in some of the flashbacks?

Monarch programming consists of several layers. Beta programming turns the person into a sex slave. Omega programming makes the person kill themselves if captured or questioned. Theta programming was based on making psychic assassins by stimulating their brains to develop psychic powers to make them trained, lethal, programmed killers. Bingo.


There is a lot of material available online, written by attorneys, survivors, psychiatrists and investigators, about Project Monarch and how it still might be going on to this day. What is disturbing is that, according to researchers, the project used a lot of black magik symbols, Satanic imagery, occult iconography and other unpleasantness to make the programming as nightmarish as possible to the child involved, in order to make sure their normal personality is smashed to pieces so the alters can be programmed to do their work.

Have you noticed that there is no mention, whatsoever, of demons, ghosts, the occult or anything else like it in Stranger Things? Nothing at all. The Duffer brothers used the Internet to make their monster, but they completely took out references to magik and the occult. You are only getting the science side of this horror story, which is a very Lovecraftian approach, when you think about it.

Eleven doesn’t have a split personality. She doesn’t become another person when somebody says the right code word. But there is a fracture in her psychology, and shard that has been taken from the greater whole, which explains why the poor girl doesn’t have much of a personality in the show. She has been raised all alone, with minimal outside contact, and she has been giving a cocktail of drugs and other psychosurgery for who knows how long. That would probably explain her odd, distant demeanor.


 ‘MEMBER THE DARK CRYSTAL?

At the climax of the story, a splinter is united with the greater whole and, in a brilliant flash of light, they are united, opening a rift in time and space that allows the merged being to move on to another dimension, whole at last. The end. Did I just describe the climax of Stranger Things? Nope. That is the end of The Dark Crystal.

When Eleven recognizes Will in the photo on the wall, The Dark Crystal is on the wall next to her. We never see her talking to Will. We never see them together. She recognizes him, though, because the splinter that has been shattered from her mind saw Will, and is running around, doing that evil. In The Dark Crystal the two separated beings unite, becoming a being of spiny, brilliant light. I am not saying Eleven’s dark half is running around. It is supposed to be her id. We will get to that, later.

In a few days I will give you another post about this subject, after I post something else for The Man. You know how it is, Bills have to get paid. Money has to be paid. See you soon!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Zumbi, Zion I and The Labyrinth - Music


On October 27, 2016 hip-hop mastermind Zion I (aka Zumbi) released his highly-anticipated album, The Labyrinth. Produced by fellow artists Ariano, Mikos the Gawd, Teeko and Decap and featuring performances by Deuce Eclipse and Codnay Holiday, Zion I’s latest creation also has Mind Over Matter Records to thank for its manifestation. Only shortly after the staggering success of his latest single and hit video, “Tech $,” the Oakland, California resident, activist and musician has a lot to say with The Labyrinth…and it is worth losing yourself inside this original work. Here are some reasons why.

This is Zumbi’s first solo album. The twists, turns and passages that take you from track to track wind you through ferocious, inspiring highs and deep, soulful lows. “Not Ur Fault,” written in honor of the artist’s father, is also a dedication to his own sons. Only a truly talented bard can sing solemn songs of sadness to other warriors with conviction, and it is a thought-evoking piece any man or father can relate to. The opening piano notes are going to stop you in your treads. The lyrics will remind you to feel, more.

“Smoked,” another something to enjoy along the winding journey through The Labyrinth, bounces with digital delight and pleasantly pummels the biological audio receptors with thrumming beats and reverberating lyrics. This is the kind of beat to play big and loud in order to make the crowd jump to that old-skool funk groove.


Oakland is a city with a history of activism going back many bloody decades. Zumbi is no stranger to fighting the power, especially at a time when Black America is under fire, coast to coast. "From hip hop, to the executions of black males by police, we are at crossroads," says Zumbi, "As father of 3, I have to do my best to prepare my children for the world they will inherit." Of all the songs on the album, “Let Me Be” is a stern reminder that there are still many, many reasons to protest abusive power that still requires severe correction. Literally opening with an alarm bell and replete with pulsing notes and atmospheric beats, this track isn’t just a shout, it is a roar.

Every good labyrinth needs a minotaur, just ask Theseus. Tracks like “Wake Up,” “Smoked,” “Let Me Be” and “God’s Illa” (featuring Deuce Eclipse and Viveca Hawkins) are powerful pieces that make up some of the monsters of Zumbi’s marvelous maze. You don’t have to be fast to be hard, and the pulsing loops, ambient warps and disco-laces notes that infuse “God’s Illa” make it a powerful contest winner all by itself. Gone are the days where the album you bought had two good singles and nothing else to look forward to. Zion I doesn’t ever disappoint, but it is almost life-affirming to encounter a record like The Labyrinth that sails strong from song to song, stem to stern.

I appreciate good retro disco. Many California hip-hop artist seem to magically know this, and the music they conjure is best to my ears when they feature chords and notes that echo with that groovy enchanted neon beat. “Sauce” has that feel. It’s warm and brilliant, the kind of song to light up high and cruise low slow to. Not fast, not slow, just as strong and chill as a glacier sliding across the sea down in Antarctica, majestic and deep.


The last track, “Departure,” features a child’s voice imploring us to love people and do better for all. A simple message. Easy to dismiss, in these cynical times. We have to remember to do better for each other and the next generation or everyone will suffer equally. It isn’t comfortable to face the harsh truths of America’s injustices, but you can’t work towards a solution unless you identify the problem.

I don’t always give albums an “A” but this one earned it. That’s hard to say, too…I listen to more music than my mind can remember. Zion I’s new album has a lot of modern originality intermixed with what you loved growing up. Trust the journey this album takes you on to the point of getting lost on the way. Once you take a solid walk inside The Labyrinth other albums aren’t going to measure up to your newly expanded, pleasantly enlightened standards for a long, long while.





THE LABYRINTH TOUR DATES:
Oct. 12: Moe's Alley, Santa Cruz, CA
Oct. 13: Hopmonk Tavern, Sebastopol, CA
Oct. 15: Stonehouse, Nevada City, CA
Oct. 16: Harlow's, Sacramento, CA
Oct. 21: Hawaiian Brian's, Honolulu, HI
Oct. 22: Hilo Tavern, Hilo, HI
Oct. 23: Hard Rock Cafe, Lahaina, HI
Oct. 27: Wonder Ballroom, Portland, OR.
Oct. 28: Hi-Fi Music Hall, Eugene, OR.
Oct. 30: Nectar Lounge, Seattle, WA.
Nov. 25: New Parish, Oakland, CA.
Nov. 26: Soho Lounge, Santa Barbara, CA.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Animal Noise - Music


I don't just write about music, I live within it. There is a band that practices every weekend for hours in the apartment next door. The guy that lives next to me practices rap in his car every evening. Mid-afternoon a neighbor two floors up on the other side plays her saxophone until dusk. As the sun sets and the smoke from all the cannabis joins the smog up into the sky, guitars, bongo drums and singing can be heard from every direction, rising above the traffic and the sounds of the city.

Animal Noise is a band that practices inside an old milking parlour on a farm a lot. For garage bands in the suburbs, playing many hours over the weekend without the neighbors whining about it is a factor. There are places in my city, Los Angeles, where rehearsing is impossible. This band rehearses far away from intruding civilization, perfecting their sound with no one around, and the mileage they get from every lyric, beat and note show how their expertise originates from the hours the terrific trio has put into their art. No one tells them when to stop, where they are making indie music with style, heart and soul.

A great band does not have to be big. Tight and taunt can entertain all by itself. Josh Sandifer does guitar and vocals. Jack Gordon-Abbot is on the drums. Michael Bird handles bass and back up vocals. The audience gets to listen to music that is honest, raw enough to rock but expert enough to enthrall you without beating your ear drums into submission. Straight out of Colchester, UK, the band has started a tour in honor of their latest swank single, "Little Things."


This song exemplifies why Animal Noise is rising above the usual crowds of indie entertainers. Sandifer's vocals combine grace with attitude. The pulsing drums and bold guitars weave around the lyrics, howling like the blues, drifting like jazz, but with a rock & roll momentum proper modern indie should have to qualify for the title. "Little Things" (mixed by the very skillfull Gethin Pearson from Big Life Management) isn't banal so fitting it into the right box is going to be difficult. Good, original music is like that. Familiar, but undefinable. If the song came from real talent no single sentence can sum up its magic, let alone a categorizing word.

The group met at a crowded house party years ago where Sandifer blew away an impromptu audience with his own cover of "Big Love" by Fleetwood Mac. Impressed by the talent they witnessed, Gordon-Abbot and Bird teamed up with the young artist and they have been busy ever since, making Sink or Swim, and already distinctive EP, and touring the region starting with their own hometown's Colchester Arts Centre all the way over to the British Summer time Festival in Hyde Park, among others. This is a video of a live performance of "Little Things." It is worth listening to many times over, and is a very good reason to look forward to the first big album Animal Noise hopefully creates soon for all to enjoy.


Official website: www.animalnoise.co.uk
Spotify: http://spoti.fi/1XRapu2
Facebook: www.facebook.com/animalnoise
Twitter & Instagram: @animalnoise
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/c/AnimalNoiseVideos

Live Dates:
13 Oct - Norwich, Sound & Vision Festival
17 Nov - St Albans, The Horn
21 Nov - Brighton, Komedia w/ The Wave Pictures
22 Nov - Leeds, Hyde Park Book Club
23 Nov - London, Sebright Arms
01 Dec - Manchester, The Castle Hotel
02 Dec - Ipswich, The Swan
04 Dec - Southampton, Joiners

Tickets for shows available here from Wednesday 5th October at 10am -
https:// www.musicglue.com/animal-noise/listings

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Monster in Stranger Things, Part III


This is Part III of an exploration into the nature of Demogorgon (or The Monster, as I prefer to call it) in the Netflix sci-fi/horror masterpiece, Stranger Things. You can read Part I here and Part II over here. Spoiler alerts will follow.

AS WE CONTINUE…

I am going to tell you about a few more films that relate to the nature of The Monster in Stranger Things. After that we will discuss a few conspiracy theories that relate to the same subject. After that you will be given a theory about what the true nature of The Monster is, with proof. So let’s go.

THE DARK HALF

Myth, literature, film and psychology are full of references to The Shadow, the id, the Gros-Bon-Ange, the personal demon, the qareen, the familiar spirit, an imaginary friend, etc. It is the part of us that is bad, selfish, evil, animalistic, certainly violent, sexual and mostly hidden from our conscious mind. We don’t like to face the fact we can be bad, bad people. The part of us that does evil that hides from the light? That is your shadow, and it is hidden for a reason.

The Dark Half is a flick about an author that likes to write as an alter ego. As his alter ego, he writes a series of books about a character named Alexis Machine who is a vicious, cold, evil gangster. These books become popular, but when the author decides to stop writing the books, his alter ego literally rises from the grave to kill everyone responsible for his retirement and make the author write about him, again. At the end of the film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, the main character also meets his own dark half.


Authors like Helena Blavatsky and another author on the occult, Alexandra David-Neel, talk about a thing called a tulpa, which is an incarnation of a thought form that eventually becomes real when enough people believe in it, or one person concentrates on it enough. Alvin Schwartz, the creator of Superman, claims he ran into Clark Kent in a taxi one day in New York City. Even Alan Moore, author of the Hellblazer comic book series claims to have met his own imaginary creation.

According to Tibetan mysticism, a tulpa is a sign that the universe is just an illusion. What is in the world is in the mind. What is in the mind is in the world…or can be put there if there is enough horsepower to make it happen. In The Dark Half the character created by the author is partially him, but partially Alexis Machine. The author made the tulpa perfect in his head, so he is. Eleven was probably goaded into doing just that.

If you were to combine the concepts of a tulpa with Jung’s Shadow, the combination would be monstrous, indeed.


CLOAK & DAGGER

But before that film there was Cloak & Dagger, about having an imaginary friend that is real. A young boy who plays a role playing game based on James Bond stories (which is very similar to an RPG I played growing up called Top Secret S/I) has an imaginary friend named Jack Flack, who is the ultimate spy, replete with military uniform, black beret and all the right moves. The spirit is a lot like the boy’s own father, who is just a pilot that flies 747’s for a large airline.

The boy and Jack Flack are drawn into an adventure of global national espionage with dire consequences if the bad guys get the MacGuffin. At one point, (spoiler alert) Jack Flack dies, and the boy must confront the fact that his imaginary friend never existed as his hero vanishes. Only the boy can see this tulpa, not other people, and it is during a grim time in the film when the harsh reality of real life death sets in.

Jack Flack, of course, represents the boy’s image of his father…perfect, unstoppable, unreal and daring. Later, his father performs a few heroics of his own, and you get the idea that the tulpa has somehow infused his being, making him better, as if the combination of his boys faith in his father, and the energy released from the discarnate tulpa, has given him the power to save the day.

Now that we’ve studied the occult, we all understand that Jack Flack and the villain in The Dark Half are the same thing, right? A tulpa, which is basically a demon you summon out of yourself.

We’re all familiar with the literary horror masterpiece, Doctor Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. Edith Wharton’s Triumph of Night has a scene where a character encounters an image of his own fiendish evil, standing across the room by a chair. The audience loves seeing this phenomenon at work on the page or screen. Did you notice that Dracula seems to be the exact opposite of Van Helsing? He is an incarnate, utter refutation of everything Van Helsing believes when he devotes himself to science. Van Helsing is benevolent, scientific order. Dracula is supernatural, occult evil.


ALTERED STATES

One final film to discuss before we go back to the Upside/Down is Altered States, a 1980 sci-fi film about a man played by William Hurt who goes through a series of scientific experiments to find out what happens when you use drugs, hypnotism, sensory deprivation, human isolation and psychology to see how far you can send a man down his own subconscious rabbit hole.

Aided by the power of ayahuasca, he at first experiences intense, primal hallucinations that seem as if he is looking into different worlds of existence until his body starts to transform into different forms representing human’s evolutions back into the beginning of time. This eventually results in the man becoming a primal, blob-like mass of bioplasma that destroys the lab with waves of psychic energy. At the end of the film he says nope to dope and "ugh" to drugs, evolving back to normal.

This concept of science studying psychology only end to end up high on drugs studying the paranormal, is again very similar to the concepts we see at work in Stranger Things. I still haven’t explained why The Monster looks the way it does, where it came from, how it came from there, where it is and how Eleven ended up meeting it. Follow me, we are almost there. Step carefully…the Qliphoth is all over the place.


BACK TO THE DARK CRYSTAL

When Eleven recognizes Will, she just sees his photograph on the wall. She then flips over a black game board, says the boy is in the Upside/Down, and places the boy’s figure (represented by a wizard) on the game board. She then grabs the figure of a demon, Demogorgon, to represent The Monster chasing Will. Did she run into Will in The Vale of Shadows? No, because she never went there. How does she even recognize Will at all? She isn’t told what the boy looks like. Will isn’t in the same place as Eleven, though, but later on she tracks the boy with her mind to the clubhouse in the woods for his mother. How is this happening?

PLANE TRUTHS

The boys describe this evil, dreadful place as The Vale of Shadows. We see the place as a dark, lightless place that resembles a nightmarish copy of our world. It seems to be haunted by shimmering motes, and entities contained within can interact with electrical devices. The Vale of Shadows seems electrical. Even The Monster seems to travel through things that contain bioelectricity, electricity or things that can transmit electricity. That is Eleven’s power, after all. She controls electromagnetism. Similar to the girl in Firestarter, who controls fire.

The interesting detail is that in old skool Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, there is no Vale of Shadows. In the game reality is comprised of many dimensions, organized like clockwork, containing heavens, hells, other planes of existence and everything in between.


The Manual of the Planes is a book released by TSR back in the 80’s that defined this multiverse for adventurers who apparently couldn’t get enough. It even came with a handy-dandy chart. My players didn’t like this book. My pit traps used to drop you down five levels deeper into the depth of the dungeon. Once I read The Manual of the Planes, my pit traps dropped you into Hades.

The Demiplane of Shadow is a close contender. Like most “evil” dimensions in AD&D, going there would probably kill you. A gloomy, disturbing place comprised of shadow where mysterious, energy-draining creatures lurked, anyone going there probably wanted to leave, because the realm was indeed poisonous. Things lived there, but it was otherwise a dark image of our world.

The Negative Material Plane is also similar. A nasty place just as bad as the one we just talked about, undead spirits lived there, and if you stayed too long the place killed you and turned you into an evil ghost. Thanks a lot. Necromancers, demons and devils also hung out there. If your Dungeon Master arranged for you to be there, he was probably a jerk.

The Ethereal Plane is a plane that helps us understand what is going on when characters enter The Vale of Shadows in Stranger Things. Gloomy, shadowy, foggy and creepy, The Ethereal Plane didn’t seem to be as intrinsically evil as the other places we just looked at. But a lot of bad things could come out of this place to get you. An odd dimension that was somehow connected to all other dimensions, it consisted of several levels.


The Border Ethereal was where creatures went when they wanted to interact with our world. Like standing in the ocean close to the shore, being here meant you were in the Ethereal plane but you could still interact with the normal world. This is where ghosts hung out, and it was a pain in the ass when the Dungeon Master attacked you with something from here. Usually, you couldn’t hurt them but they could hurt you.

The Deep Ethereal went even further. Things here couldn’t be seen in our world, at all, and this dimension went even deeper, touching all planes and containing its own denizens and wild, illogical, unstable geometry. Of course it was very, very dangerous and if you went there, something really powerful and bad eventually found you and taught you just how badass things got in AD&D. The Vale of Shadows, in Stranger Things, is a lot like the Ethereal Plane. There is this sense that it is a duplicate of our world, but colorless, alien and evil. One very important thing to remember, however, is that The Vale of Shadows is not The Upside Down. Eleven has never even been there. Where has she been?

The Upside Down is the term she uses for the vast, glossy black realm where people and objects appear and vanish in her mind’s eye. Eleven first uses her telepathy to track a Russian spy that is in the process of reciting a message. This makes sense…unclassified documents prove the U.S.S.R. was working on a study of ESP, telepathy, the sixth sense and all of that under the umbrella pseudo science term, “psychotronics.”

After she tracks the Russian spy, The Monster appears. Later, Eleven finds The Monster and makes contact with it. She also finds Will and the clubhouse.  But she never goes into The Vale of Shadows, and no other character goes into the Upside Down. The psychosphere is what The Upside Down is. This is an occult term used by many different writers on the subject, including Brian Lumley, Roland C. Wagner, William S. Burroughs and H.P. Lovecraft. The Oxford English dictionary defines it as, “The sphere or realm of human consciousness.” Carl Jung called it The Collective Unconscious. In Marvel Comics, it is their equivalent of the Astral Plane. According to books on astral traveling and projecting your spirit and all of that fun occult stuff, when you dream you enter (at least, mentally) the psychosphere.

In this place, ideas, spirits, concepts and the imagination form the landscape. In stories by H.P. Lovecraft like “The Dreams in the Witch House,” and “The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath,” characters enter into these realms while sleeping or on drugs and see kaleidoscopic images beyond imagination, thought, space and time that they find hard to describe. My theory is that Eleven sees things with a much better focus, which is why she sees the place the way she does.


Think of the psychosphere like the Internet. When you use Google to search for something, you do it either by directly entering the name of the subject, or ideas related to it, like titles of songs or albums. You can find an author by a book, or a book by an author. Ideas connect to each other, the way Paris is in France, but also in the same way the Eiffel Tower is in Paris, or Ratatouille is a film about France, but is also a French dish, and then there are of course French fries and berets and mimes and art films and…

…you get it. Things connect in abstract ways. Eleven, however, finds people with great accuracy and focus. The Upside Down is also the place where she finds The Monster.

ELEVEN = MONSTER

At one point Eleven says, near the end of the series, “I am The Monster. I opened the gate.” We know what The Monster is. What is the gate? Is she The Monster? Yes, she is. Remember, Eleven controls electromagnetism. This scientific phenomena is at the core of a lot of conspiracy theories and occult research, including the creepy teleportation story about the aircraft carrier in The Philadelphia Experiment. Eleven did open a portal, or wormhole (or…vale), into the psychosphere and pulled out The Monster inside her head.

The problem is The Vale of Shadows is another dimension, not quite in synch with our own. It is not the psychosphere, where The Monster came from. It is a new place created by the wormhole created by Eleven when she confronted the beast the kids call Demogorgon in her own head. It is an image of our own world. The Monster is basically in orbit around Eleven. He (or, she) can’t go back to the psychosphere. She can’t go back to Eleven (and when The Monster does in the last episode, they both vanish). She can’t stay in the real world for long. So The Monster roams around wormhole, tracking electrical signals, traveling through animals and conductive materials, killing people, consuming blood and perpetuating itself.


Remember the story about the flea on the rope? A wormhole is like a rope, and The Monster is attracted to blood, like a flea.

That is why Eleven says she is The Monster. She is, and she opened the gate that let it out. You’ll notice that the areas in the lab where the rift first opened are getting worse. There are also living, biological tendrils around the rift. Inside, electrical motes drift everywhere. The Monster travels through electricity, overwhelming devices it comes across. Like Eleven, The Monster can perform the same effect, opening a wormhole in the same way an electric eel unleashes energy to stun prey to eat. She then pulls her prey into The Vale of Shadows. It used to be in Eleven’s head. Now it is in a place that still looks like the inside of a human brain, full of blood vessels, nerve synapses and dreamlike images of the world Eleven encounters, consuming the electrical energy to survive.

A COLLAGE OF CONSPIRACIES

Project MKULTRA is one conspiracy theory that is mentioned a lot in Stranger Things. The horror film Jacob’s Ladder dealt with a similar issue, which is that nefarious elements within the government and CIA are grabbing people and performing mind-control experiments for the purposes of espionage, mass manipulation, and murder. It is just one of many, however. The Duffer Brothers went further and farther than anyone. After I give you the answer I shall further explore the conspiracy theories, occult references and literary ideas that make up the mythology of The Monster. But first we have to talk about Project MKOFTEN.

PROJECT MKOFTEN

There are many conspiracy theories out there. The people who write about them vary in sanity, intelligence and credibility, but some names stand out in the dark that the industry rates higher than the others. Alex Jones, Jim Marrs, Douglas Hoagland, William Cooper and Peter Levenda, who is an author of many books about the occult and evil government hijinks including Sinister Forces and Unholy Alliance. One of the lovely things about Levenda is how he connects the shadowy experts in the occult world with hidden government agents that operate with technocratic impunity.

Amateurs discuss Project MKULTRA. The awesome discuss Project MKOFTEN. According to these theories, there were many projects conducted by the CIA, in conjunction with the military under the auspices of the government, that were performed specifically to use magik and the paranormal to fight communism. Project MKOFTEN is important to Stranger Things because of a few key points Levenda and other authors repeat.

These points are that Project MKOFTEN was intended to find spies working for the Soviet Union that had psychic powers using the mind to do it. The government wanted to locate them and kill them from a distance by unconventional means. One of the final goals was to summon demons. MKOFTEN used everything to do this, including black magik. CIA agents consulted with experts on the occult, according to Levenda and other authors. After many years of playing with spells, hypnosis, drugs and sensory deprivation, they found a technique that worked which included taking people with psychic powers and putting them inside Faraday cages.


A Faraday cage is a copper-lined cell that blocks out electromagnetic interference so that the person inside can focus without any other energies affecting his work. According to the conspiracy theory, psychics locked in Faraday cages ended up with amplified powers, similar to Professor X when he sits in Cerebro. Scientists studied their powers and worked with them to improve their abilities. When you combine this detail with conspiracy theories about other operations including The Philadelphia Project, Project Spellbinder, The Montauk Project and Project MONARCH (which deals with the concept of torturing children to create multiple personalities for the purposes making programmed assassins), you end up with the answer to the true nature of The Monster.

THE FINAL ANSWER

Eleven is psychic. She controls electromagnetism. Eleven can also use the psychosphere to find other psychics. The scientists running the project want her to kill spies, but she won’t. So she was psychologically and sexually tortured to create a splinter personality, or alternate identity, to kill the Soviet spy. Part of this torture involved being put in an isolation chamber that was also a Faraday cage (pay attention when she has a flashback about being taken from her father and locked in the prison…the walls are lined with copper). Deep in her subconscious, a tulpa (or demon) formed, and when it appeared The Monster looked like her father, a tulip (tulpa…tulip…get it?), a lion and a nightmarish beast. It killed the Soviet spy, and the scientists decided to make her contact it. She did so, but the horror of confronting her id, her shadow, her personal demon, caused her create an electromagnetic pulse that opened a gate AKA the wormhole into The Upside Down AKA the psychosphere, forming The Vale of Shadows. This is why there is a crack in the wall of the lab. The Monster needs electrical energy and blood to survive. It eventually escapes and proceeds to do just that. Eleven recognized Will because The Monster found him, first, and she is it. At the end of the series, Eleven touches it and they are fused together, but as a result she is thrown into The Vale of Shadows.


Now you know why Demogorgon is important. He is a demon, because that is what The Monster is. By the way, it is technically a she.

IN (TEMPORARY) CONCLUSION

Yes. I know. That is a lot to consider. Be back next time as I continue to explore the worlds of Stranger Things using the occult, quantum physicis and modern conspiracy theory mythology as our guide. Until then, be careful what you think about, you never know what might come out!