Friday, December 31, 2010

Another Starving Writer


Not long ago, a friend I worked with many years ago decided to take a year off and write a novel. Then yesterday, an old high school pal asked me what it takes to write a novel. Since I have four published novels floating around in the ozone somewhere, I sent them this advice.

1) To write a novel, you must be a persistent self-starter with thick skin and high self-esteem. You need to work at it every day until your fingers lock up and your brain bleeds. Once you start, you can never quit.

2) You should have a unique premise or idea or twist for a novel. There’s no point writing something that’s already been written. It’s called a novel because there’s something novel about it.

3) Almost all novels have a distinct structure. There are three acts – a beginning, a middle and an end. The beginning usually opens with an enticing (exciting or mysterious or bizarre or whatever) hook to compel the reader to continue past the first line and first paragraph and first page. Then something happens (plot point #1) to propel the narrative into act two, the main conflict. A second plot point eventually occurs to launch the story into the third act, the resolution. All scenes and dialogue should advance the plot line or help define the characters; if they don’t, they should probably be deleted.

4) It helps if the characters are three dimensional, rather than stereotypical or predictable.

5) It helps if the dialogue is authentic and unique to the characters, rather than stereotypical or predictable.

6) It’s best to throw the main characters into a situation and let the story evolve from there. Sometimes the story line will take an unexpected turn based on the “authentic” actions of the characters. This way the story becomes much more realistic because it’s driven by the reactions of the characters themselves.

7) Once you’ve finished writing the novel, you’ve only begun. You must rewrite and rewrite and rewrite until it flows in a fluid, poetic manner. And you must not hesitate to remove a favorite line or two if they don’t fit -- it may break your heart but the integrity of the final product is more important than the brilliance of a single moment within the text that doesn’t belong there. It takes a ton of work to get it just right. Just as a good actor doesn’t appear to be acting, good literature reads as though it wasn’t even written, much less rewritten.

8) You must know when to quit. Every time you read it you’ll find little things to change or fix. At some point you must pronounce it finished. This is very hard to do but you must be decisive.

9) You must strive for perfection. You can’t hand a manuscript to a publisher or a literary agent containing errors or coffee stains. When you spend a zillion hours attempting to create something worthy enough to present to the literary world, it must be presentable. A sloppy product suggests sloppy writing.

10) The finished product is only the end of phase one. Phase two is getting it published and phase three is stimulating sales. Getting it published isn’t easy. Only one out of about 200 novels submitted to publishers ever gets published. Your odds are somewhat better getting published if you sign with a literary agent but finding a good one who will represent you is just about as hard as finding a publisher. Self-publishing has become easier these days with print-on-demand technology but most people will spend more money than they will ever take in.

11) Even if you manage to get a novel published, only about one in twenty published novels makes enough money to break even for the publisher. Writers get a percentage of sales, based on retail price. A percentage of very little is less than very little. Only a small percentage of published writers actually makes a living at it and very few of them ever get rich. The true riches come from the self-satisfaction of accomplishment.

12) If it’s in your twisted mind to write a novel then do it and don’t quit until you get it done. Don’t worry about what others think of your stupid plans. You’re writing because you’re a writer and that’s what writers do. Let the rest of the world go about their boring nine-to-five business. You’re above such petty nonsense.

It is better to be a starving writer than wishing you were a starving writer.

Novels by Bret Burquest:
THE DOGMAN OF TOPANGA -- romantic suspense/thriller
A BAD RUN OF FATE -- psychological mystery
GOOMBA IN MONTANA -- coming-of-age suspense/thriller
THE ELEVENTH SAGE -- metaphysical mystery

Quote for the Day -- "It is better to fail in originality than to succeed it imitation." Herman Melville

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where starving writers dine on hickory bark. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Ordeal of Jeffery MacDonald

This is an article I wrote a couple of years for another website. Just thought I'd post it on one of my blog sites too.


At 3:42 AM on February 17, 1970, dispatchers at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, received an emergency call from Captain Jeffrey MacDonald, M.D., a Green Beret group surgeon, concerning an incident in his residence on base.

Upon arrival, responding officers discovered a gruesome scene.

MacDonald's wife, Colette, who was pregnant with their third child, was dead on the floor of her bedroom. She had been severely battered, both arms were broken and she had been stabbed 37 times with a knife and an ice pick. The word "pig" had been written in blood on her headboard.

Daughter Kimberly, age 5, was found in her bed. She had been battered in the head and stabbed 8 to 10 times in the neck with a knife.

Daughter Kristen, age 2, was found in her bed, having been stabbed 33 times with a knife and 15 times with an ice pick.

MacDonald was found alive but unconscious, requiring mouth-to-mouth resuscitation at the scene by a military policeman. He had various cuts and bruises, 3 contusions on his head where he was knocked out and at least 17 stab wounds, one of which was life threatening that deeply punctured his lung, causing the lung to partially collapse by 40 percent. He was released from the hospital after one week.


MacDonald told investigators that he had been sleeping on the living room couch because his youngest daughter had been in bed with his wife and had wet his side of the bed. He was awakened by screams from his wife and oldest daughter.

As he rose from the couch, three male intruders attacked him with a club and an ice pick. His pajama top was pulled off in the struggle and he used it to ward off thrusts from the ice pick. Eventually, he was knocked unconscious in the living room at the hallway leading to the bedrooms.

One of the male intruders was a black man wearing an army field jacket with E6 stripes. The other two males were white.

During this struggle, MacDonald claimed there was a white female in a white floppy hat observing the attack while holding a lighted candle and chanting "Acid is groovy. Kill the pigs."


Jeffery Robert MacDonald was born on October 12, 1943, in Queens, New York. In high school, he was voted most popular and most likely to succeed. He won a scholarship to Princeton University and married his high school sweetheart, Colette.

Three years at Princeton was followed by attending Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago. After a one year internship at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City, MacDonald joined the U.S. Army. He was appointed to the Green Berets in 1969 as a group surgeon and stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.


The crime scene had been examined by the army's Criminal Investigation Division (CID). They found some inconsistencies with MacDonald's account of what happened.

The murder weapons, which were MacDonald household items, were found outside the back door. Fiber's from MacDonald's torn pajama top were found under Colette's body, but no fibers were found in the living room where MacDonald claimed he had struggled with the intruders. Although the coffee table and a plant were overturned in the living room, CID investigators didn't believe it showed signs of a struggle.

Plus, the CID investigators found an issue of ESQUIRE magazine in the living room. In it was an article about the Manson Family murders that had taken place the previous summer. The investigators theorized the article was where MacDonald got the idea of blaming crazed druggies attacking his family and writing "acid is groovy, kill the pigs" on the wall in blood.


An army Article 32 hearing convened in July of 1970, overseen by Colonel Warren Rock, to litigate the incident. MacDonald was represented by Bernard Segal, a civilian attorney from Philadelphia.

The defense concentrated on two aspects of the case – the improper management of the crime scene by the CID and the existence of other suspects.

Segal presented evidence that the CID lost critical evidence, including skin found under Colette's fingernails.

In addition, Segal claimed to have located the woman MacDonald witnessed in the floppy white hat at the scene. Her name was Helena Stoeckley, the daughter of a retired army colonel, and she was a well-known drug user in the area of Fort Bragg. Several witnesses claimed that Stoeckley had admitted to them that she had been involved in the crime. Plus, several witnesses remembered Stoeckley wearing similar clothing during the time frame of the incident just as MacDonald had described.

During a six-week pre-court marshal hearing, Col. Rock learned that Helena Stoeckley had made statements suggesting she had been involved in the killings. It was revealed that Stoeckley was a narcotic informer for army military police and local law enforcement.

Stoeckley admitted to army investigators that she had been wearing a floppy hat, blonde wig and boots on the night of the murder. She later admitted that she had burned the hat, wig and boots, fearing they would incriminate her in the crime. She also claimed she was on drugs at the times of the incident and had no alibi for that evening.

According to military policeman Kenneth Mica who had responded to the crime scene, a woman fitting Stoeckley's description was seen standing at a street corner on the army post, three blocks from the crime scene, as they drove by.

In October of 1970, the military proceeding issued a report dismissing all charges against MacDonald on the grounds that the allegations were "not true" and recommended that civilian authorities investigate Stoeckley.


After the Article 32 hearing, Macdonald returned to work as a medical doctor. After a brief stint in New York, he moved to California where he became an emergency room physician at the St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach.

In April of 1974, Alfred and Mildred Kassab, Colette's stepfather and mother, filed a formal complaint against MacDonald for the murders of their daughter and grandchildren.

A grand jury was convened in August of 1974 in North Carolina to look into the matter.

On January 24, 1975, the grand jury indicted MacDonald on murder charges. Within the hour, MacDonald was arrested in California.

On January 31, 1975, MacDonald was freed on $100,000 bail pending disposition of the charges.


July 29, 1975 – District Judge Franklin T. Dupree Jr. denied MacDonald's motion against double jeopardy and speedy trial motions. The trial date of August 18, 1975 would stand.

August 15, 1975 – The Fourth Circuit of Appeals stayed the trial.

January 23, 1976 – A panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2 to 1 decision, ordered the indictment dismissed on the grounds of being denied a speedy trial.

May 1, 1978 – The U.S. Supreme Court, in an 8 to zero decision, reinstated the indictment on behalf of the Government.

October 22, 1978 -- the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected MacDonald's double jeopardy appeal.

March 19, 1979 – The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision to reject MacDonald's double jeopardy appeal.


On July 16, 1979, the murder trial of Jeffrey MacDonald began in Raleigh, North Carolina, before Judge Franklin T. Dupree. Attorney's Bernard Segal and Wade Smith represented MacDonald.

Judge Dupree refused to allow into evidence a psychiatric evaluation of MacDonald submitted by the defense suggesting MacDonald was incapable of killing his wife and children.

However, Judge Dupree allowed the prosecution to introduce the 1970 copy of ESQUIRE magazine, containing the article about the Charles Manson murders in August 1969, into evidence. Government attorneys maintained this is where MacDonald got the idea of blaming a crazed hippie gang for the killings.

The prosecution presented MacDonald's pajama top as evidence. In contained 48 small, smooth, cylindrical ice pick holes. MacDonald's wife had been stabbed 21 times by an ice pick. The prosecution demonstrated that by folding the pajama top a certain way that all 48 holes could have been made by 21 stricks with an ice pick. Their theory was that MacDonald had stabbed his wife 21 times through the pajama top while the pajama top was lying on Colette's chest.

The audio tape of the April 6, 1970, military investigation interview of MacDonald was played for the jury. In it, MacDonald explained his version of the incident in a very "matter-of-fact" manner. It was an unemotional recitation of events, damaging MacDonald's case. However, MacDonald was a Green Beret and an emergency room physician – his normal demeanor under stress would be calm and precise.

The defense called Helena Stoeckley to the stand. Just prior to her testimony, Stoeckley was interviewed by the defense and the prosecution, during which time she denied ever being in MacDonald's apartment. She testified that she could not remember her activities on the night of the murders because of excessive drug use.

The defense attempted to introduce into evidence testimony from other witnesses who claimed that Steockley had confessed to the killings. However Judge Dupree refused that evidence because of Stoeckley's history of long-term drug abuse.

The defense called forensic expert James Thornton. He attempted to demonstrate that the pajama top was wrapped around MacDonald's wrist by conducting an experiment whereby a similar pajama top was placed over a ham, and moved back and forth on a sled while being stabbed with an ice pick.

The defense called several character witnesses, then MacDonald took the stand as the last witness where he tearfully denied committing the murders.

On August 29, 1979, MacDonald was found guilty of one count of first-degree murder, in the death of Kristen, the oldest daughter, and two counts of second-degree murder. Judge Dupree sentenced MacDonald to three consecutive life sentences.


During the trial, the prosecution claimed that all of MacDonald's wounds were inflicted by Colette, during a violent confrontation, except for the single wound to MacDonald's lung which was self-inflicted.

However, all six doctors who were consulted at the Army Hearing testified that a self-inflicted wound in such a manner could not have a predicted outcome, even by a doctor inflicting the wound on himself, plus the liver could have been damaged, resulting in death.

Due to a mix-up at Womack Hospital, where MacDonald was treated after the incident, no photographs of MacDonald's wounds were ever taken.

At Womack Hospital, Dr. Paul Manson and Dr. Robert McGann observed (and testified) that MacDonald had a "large contusion" on his forehead and another one over his right temple.

Army officer Ron Harrison, a friend of MacDonald, told Army investigators he observed the bruises on the front of MacDonald's head, and also noticed limps on the back of his head. He further observed numerous wounds on MacDonald's chest, arms and abdomen, and what he believed to be ice pick wounds to the neck.

At the Army hearing, Dr. Straub testified that he "spread apart" an abdominal wound whereby he observed that it "had gone through a great deal of the muscle of the abdominal wall."

During grand jury testimony in 1974, Dr. Severt Jacobson of Womack Hospital testified that he observed cuts to MacDonald's hand and forearms "from a very sharp object." He further described four puncture wounds to the upper chest and multiple puncture wounds to the arms and abdomen.

Upon admission to Womack Hospital, Army surgeon Dr. Frank Gemma noted "several small puncture wounds that may have come from an instrument such as an ice pick."

All in all, MacDonald was stabbed at least 17 times and had multiple contusions to the head. The wound to the lung required a chest tube and two surgeries.


On July 29, 1980, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2 to 1 panel decision, reversed MacDonald's murder conviction on the grounds violating the Sixth Amendment to a speedy trial.

On August 22, 1980, MacDonald was freed on $100,000 bail and returned to St. Mary's Medical Center in Long Beach at his old position as Director of Emergency Medicine.

On December 18, 1980, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 5 to 5 decision, allowed the earlier decision of a reversal of the murder conviction to stand.

On May 31, 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6 to 3 decision, ruled that MacDonald's rights to a speedy trial had not been violated.

MacDonald was immediately re-arrested and returned to prison.

On August 16, 1982, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed MacDonald's convictions based on the remaining points of his appeal.

On January 10, 1983, the U.S. Supreme Court refused a further appeal from MacDonald.

On March 1, 1985, Judge Dupree rejected all motions by MacDonald for a new trial. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Judge Dupree's ruling and refused to reopen the case.

On October 6, 1986, The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In July of 1991, Judge Dupree heard arguments that MacDonald should be granted a new trial based on prosecutorial misconduct. Judge Dupree denied the petition.


In 1971, Helena Stoeckley was administered a polygraph test by the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) in which she denied being at the crime scene. She failed the polygraph test.

On January 12, 2006, MacDonald was granted leave from prison to file his fourth appeal. This petition included a sworn affidavit from a retired U.S. Marshal named Jimmy Britt who worked the civilian trial.

Britt stated that he overheard Helena Stoeckley admit to the prosecutor, James Blackburn, that she had been present at the MacDonald residence at the time of the killings, and that Blackburn then threatened her with prosecution if she testified.

Also, during her retention as a material witness during the trial, Stoeckley had contacted Judge Dupree, claiming she was terrified of Bernard Segal, the lead defense attorney. Consequently, when she met with the defense council prior to the trial she told them she had no recollection of the night of the murders.

Jimmy Britt died on October 19, 2008.


On April 16, 2007, MacDonald's attorneys filed an affidavit with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals wherein Helena Stoeckley's mother stated that her daughter twice confessed to her that she was present at MacDonald's residence the night of the murders and that she was afraid of testifying to that fact for fear of prosecution.

Also included in the latest appeal was the newly discovered evidence of alleged threats against Stoeckley by the prosecution and recently completed DNA results.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals granted MacDonald's motion and remanded the matter to the District Court Eastern Division for a decision.

In November of 2008, Judge Fox of the District Court Eastern Division denied the motion regarding Helena Stoeckley's mother's statement, denied the motion regarding Britt's statement, and denied the motion regarding the new DNA results. The denials were based on technicalities, whereby MacDonald's attorneys had not obtained the required authorization from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to properly submit the motions to the District Court Eastern Division. The court stated that MacDonald must file a separate motion regarding DNA results and would need pre-authorization from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to do so.


Greg Mitchell was Helena Stoeckley's boyfriend. He was a soldier and a heroin addict, now deceased. Prior to his death, Mitchell confessed to the crime to his boss, his pastor and various other people. Several of these people have signed sworn statements of witnessing this confession.

Mitchell stated that on the night of the incident he and his friends were strung out on drugs. They went to the MacDonald home because they were upset that MacDonald would not provide them with methadone, a substance utilized by drug addicts. He further stated that things went bad and they all scattered when the phone rang.

Two independent coroners have concluded that some of the injuries on the victims are consistent with a left-handed attacker. MacDonald is right-handed. Mitchell is left-handed.


During the trial, the defense attorneys requested to review laboratory notes, but the prosecution insisted that nothing found at the crime scene supported MacDonald's story. The judge refused to order the prosecution to turn over the notes.

Over the years since the trial, MacDonald's attorneys have used the Freedom of Information Act to discover evidence that was withheld by the prosecution prior to and during the trial. Fibers and fingerprints found in the apartment were never matched to anyone known to have been in the apartment prior to or after the murders.

For example, a bloody adult palm print was found on the footboard of the master bed, near Collette's body. The print did not match MacDonald or anyone known to have been present at the crime scene.

For example, black wool fibers were found on Colette's shoulder and mouth, which would potentially point to an intruder, but this evidence was deliberately withheld from the defense. These black fibers did not match any items in the MacDonald household.

For example, A 2-inch pubic hair was found between Colette's legs. It did not match MacDonald or any other known source.

For example, a blue acrylic fiber was found in Collette's right hand. This material could not be matched to any items in the MacDonald household.

For example, a blue acrylic fiber was found where MacDonald had been rendered unconscious. This material could not be matched to any items in the MacDonald household.

For example, two identical 22-inch blonde synthetic wig hairs were found in a hairbrush on a table in the living room where MacDonald had been attacked but that evidence was never disclosed to the defense.

For example, A brown hair, with root intact, was found under Kimberly's bloody fingernail. This hair did not match MacDonald.

For example, a bloody hair, with root intact, was found under the fingernail of Kristen's fingernail. Source unknown.

In the aftermath of the trial, all of MacDonald's claims of suppression of evidence were rejected by the courts. The rulings cited that even if the suppressed evidence would have been introduced it would not have been enough to have changed the verdict of the jury.


In 1997, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed MacDonald attorneys to pursue DNA testing on limited blood and hair evidence.

In December of 2000, DNA testing began, conducted by the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory.

On March 10, 2006, the lab released the results. No DNA was found to match Helena Stoeckley or Greg Mitchell, Stoeckley's companion. However, three hairs were found that did not match any of the MacDonald family members. One was located on a bed sheet, another one was found in Colette's body outline and another one was found under Kristen's fingernail.

To date, these DNA results have not been accepted by the court because there was no pre-authorization for what should have been a separate motion for DNA results.


MacDonald passed two polygraph tests. One was administered by Dr. David Raskin, a leading expert in this field. The results were examined by two other experts. In all cases, the findings were "no deception."

Helena Stoeckley was administered a polygraph test whereby she denied involvement in the murders. The results were "deception." She was later given another polygraph test whereby she admitted her presence during the murders The findings indicated "no deception."


Two independent witnesses heard a group of people approaching MacDonald's building around 2 AM and leaving in the opposite direction some time later.

A fingerprint was discovered on an empty glass that had contained chocolate milk. It could not be matched to any of the MacDonald family or friends or investigators.

According to defense attorneys, Helena Stoeckley was able to describe items within the MacDonald residence, including a broken rocking horse in one of the children's room and a jewelry box in the master bedroom.


While MacDonald's explanation of events may seem strange, a group of drugged-crazed hippies attacking him and his family in the wee hours of the night, the government's scenario is equally full of holes.

They would have the world believe that Dr. MacDonald brutally murdered his wife and two small daughters. They would have you believe that Colette inflicted multiple wounds on MacDonald, with a club, a knife and an ice pick, during a violent confrontation.

His wife, Colette, was repeatedly beaten with a club, both arms were broken, and she was stabbed 37 times with a knife and an ice pick. This would require MacDonald to change murder weapons, from club to knife to ice pick.

His daughter, Kimberly (age 5), was clubbed in the head multiple times and stabbed in the neck between 8 and 10 times. Once again, MacDonald would have to switch murder weapons, from club to knife.

His daughter, Kristen (age 2), was stabbed 33 times with a knife and 15 times with an ice pick. Once again, MacDonald would have to switch from knife to ice pick.

Then MacDonald would have to dispose of the murder weapons outside his back door and write "pig" in blood on the bedroom wall.

Next, he would have to stab himself, deep enough to puncture a lung, call on the phone for help and render himself unconscious before help arrived.

It simply doesn't seem very plausible.


On May 10, 2005, MacDonald had a parole hearing where he refused to admit guilt. Parole was denied, with a recommendation that he serve another 15 years before being eligible for another parole hearing.

Jeffrey MacDonald has been incarcerated for over 27 years and currently resides in a federal prison in Cumberland, Maryland, where he remains steadfast in his innocence.


Book – Fatal Justice by Jerry Allen Potter and Fred Bost (presents evidence withheld by prosecutors)
Website 1 –
Website 2 –

* * *

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning newspaper columnist and author of four novels. He has lived in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Kansas City, Memphis, the Arizona desert, and is now retired in the Ozark Mountains of northern Arkansas.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Red-Nosed Reindeer


Christmas, like many other holidays, has its share of historical inaccuracies and myths.

For example, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was not one of Santa’s reindeer and didn’t live on the North Pole. In fact, he was invented in 1939 by Robert L. May, a copywriter for Montgomery Ward department stores, as a promotional gimmick.

By 1946, a total of 6 million copies of the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer booklet had been distributed to Montgomery Ward customers.

May’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, developed the lyrics and music for a Rudolph song which was recorded by Gene Autry in 1949. It sold 2 million copies that year alone and went on to become the second best-selling record of all time, second only to “White Christmas.”

However, May’s original story differs from the song lyrics. According to May, Rudolph lived in an ordinary reindeer village considerably south of the North Pole. Even though he was taunted for having a shiny red nose, his parents were not embarrassed. They brought Rudolph up in a loving home and gave him a high sense of self-esteem. Santa delivered presents to their house one night during a thick fog. Impressed by the glow of Rudolph’s shiny red nose, Santa chose him to lead his team of reindeer to complete his rounds.

This brings to mind other Christmas myths.

MYTH #1 -- Santa Claus is a fat man in a red suit.

Not true. He's fairly thin and usually wears boxer shorts with a tank top around the house. He just dons multiple layers of clothing to keep warm in late December, when zipping around the night sky in an open sleigh. Santa’s delivery outfit is bright red to protect him from trigger-happy sportsmen – he doesn’t want to be mistaken for a flock of geese.

MYTH #2 -- Santa Claus lives at the North Pole.

Not true. He lives in Canada, halfway between Medicine Hat and Moose Jaw. The north pole is a large block of ice, populated by three polar bears and a wayward penguin. Canada is a lot like the North Pole – it's cold and nobody ever goes there.

MYTH #3 – Santa has a bunch of little helpers called elves.

Not true. They're mostly vertically-challenged (short) Swedes.

MYTH #4 -- Santa Claus climbs down chimneys to deliver his presents.

No longer true. He once did climb down chimneys but got stuck several times in Colorado where legislation in 1969 required all chimneys to contain filters. In 1970, Santa reverted to using doors and windows, but he was busted in 1972 in Hackensack, New Jersey, for breaking and entering. Ever since then, Santa has used the Star Trek method of teleportation whereby his molecular structure is disassembled on the rooftop and reassembled directly in front of the Christmas tree. This way he is guilty only of entering but not of breaking, usually a misdemeanor in most places.

MYTH #5 – Santa Claus likes to have some cookies and milk waiting for his arrival.

No longer true. In 1983, he developed a gastrointestinal infection while hovering over Thailand. Too much curry, causing a bad case of diarrhea, which can be quite a dilemma while flying through the air in an open sleigh.

MYTH #6 – Kids will get presents that reflect the latest craze.

Not true. There is no latest craze. Remember Cabbage Patch dolls, Teen-age Mutant Ninja Turtles and Tickle-Me Elmo? They were the latest craze for about fifteen minutes. By the time the kids open presents, the latest craze will become a closet relic. If you want to give your kids a gift that has some worth, give them something that will get them out of the house, like a bicycle or a chainsaw.

MYTH #7 – Santa knows who has been naughty and nice.

Not true. That's the CIA, FBI, NSA, NWO, DEA, IRS, ATF, CFR, KGB, MI6, MJ12 and the Jehovah Witnesses who are keeping tabs on everyone. Santa has enough to do without spying on you.

MYTH #8 – Santa’s reindeer are named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen.

Not true. Actually, those are only nicknames to make it easier to come up with Christmas jingles. Their real names are Fox Maulder, Elmer Fudd, Sponge Bob, Snoop Dogg, Joe Sixpack, Clark Kent, D. B. Cooper and Dweezle Zappa.

Quote for the Day – "Humans live through their myths and only endure their realities." Robert Anton Wilson

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where myths are facts until proven otherwise. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Santa Dimension

When I was about five years old, I was excited to learn that Santa Claus was going to appear at my house early on Christmas Eve to personally hand Christmas presents to my little brother and me. My parents explained that Santa was doing this as a special treat for us since we didn't have a chimney.

Sure enough, Santa showed up.

Although he was an hour late, according to my mother, I was thrilled to see him. I rushed outside in the cold Wisconsin night but stopped several feet short. Something wasn't right. Santa was clearly wearing a mask on his face.

I asked him why he was wearing a mask and he told me it was to keep warm.

Later that holiday season, I overheard a conversation between my parents whereby I learned it was my grandfather pretending to be Santa and that my mother was very upset with him for showing up late and drunk.

When my mother realized I had discovered the great Santa deception, she explained that Santa had so many houses to visit that evening that he didn't have time to make special stops and that my grandfather was just pretending to be Santa to make us happy.

Once again, being a young innocent squirt, I bought the explanation. My grandfather was always a great guy, drunk or sober, and I appreciated him for stopping by on such a cold night just to please my brother and me.

A few years later, in the second grade, I was hanging out with a couple of my buddies during recess. Usually we would shoot marbles behind a big oak tree so our teacher couldn't see us. Mrs. Halverson didn't like it when her boys would participate in games of chance, especially when marbles would change hands.

Instead of playing marbles, we got into a discussion about Santa Claus. There had been some speculation that Santa Claus didn't really exist so the three of us tried to figure it out logically.

Duncan Jones was the brains of the group, Vinny Gagliardi was ever so inquisitive, while I was more action oriented, preferring to play marbles rather than attempting to fathom the unfathomable.

It all started when Vinny came up with a series of intriguing questions. How does Santa visit so many houses on a single night? How can he get all those presents in his sleigh? How can reindeer fly? How does a hefty guy like Santa manage to slip down a chimney and get back to the roof? What does Santa do when there is no chimney? How does Santa know whether you were naughty or nice? And so on and so on.

Duncan made some quick calculations. He figured if there were a billion houses and Santa took only a minute per house, or 60 houses per hour, it would take about 17 million hours, not counting flying time.

Then there was the flying reindeer problem. Duncan and I were fairly certain reindeer couldn't actually fly but Vinny wasn't so sure. He had seen an elephant fly in a Disney cartoon and it looked feasible to him.

Soon a light bulb went off just above Duncan's head.

Suppose there was a parallel universe. Santa could pop in and out of our reality almost instantaneously while doing most of his work in a parallel dimension. This would impose an anomaly in the continuum of time and space whereby a few seconds of our reality could be a year of Santa reality.

This could also explain the reindeer problem. They don't actually fly; there're merely transported to our reality directly onto the roof and disappear the same way. Santa makes his way into the house in the same manner. It's simply a matter of hyper-dimensional travel between simultaneous planes of existence.

The bell rang and we had to go back inside where Mrs. Halverson made us print the alphabet all afternoon. She wanted to make sure we slanted our letters at the proper angle. Mrs. Halverson always emphasized penmanship and seating posture, but had a phobia about teaching math. Numbers greater than 20 made her nose bleed.

It's strange how so many parents are unaware of parallel dimensions. They tell their kids the most ridiculous tales to make up for their lack of knowledge about the anomalies of the continuum of time and space.

I left a plate of cookies out for Santa last year. The next morning the plate was empty. I'm not exactly sure what happened though -- my dog had some cookie crumbs on his whiskers and didn't eat much that day.

Happy Holidays.

Quote for the Day -- “I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph.” Shirley Temple

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where Santa always leaves a lump of coal under my tree. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Being Born of a Virgin

In the fourth century, the Romans and Persians celebrated the birthday of their sun god, Mithras, during the last week of December. The sun "dies" at the winter solstice, its lowest position in the sky in the northern hemisphere. Three days later, on December 25, the celebration of the "birth" of the sun takes place.

The Catholic Church felt this celebration by a rival pagan religion threatened the existence of Christianity so they decided to conduct a festival of their own during the last week of December which would force a competition with the pagan festivities.

Even though the Catholic Church believed the actual birth of Jesus Christ was in the spring, they chose December 25 as the official birthday and thereby began a tradition of holding Christ's Mass during a time frame where it would interrupt the pagan celebrations.

Over time, "Christ's Mass" eventually became "Christmas" and December 25 became known thereafter as the day Jesus Christ was born.

A man named Nicholas was born in Turkey in 280 AD. He was very pious from an early age and devoted his life to Christianity. He eventually became a Christian priest and later became a bishop.

Nicholas had a reputation as a kindly, wise soul who was generous toward the poor. He was a rich young man who didn’t like to be seen giving gifts. He traveled the country helping people, always at night after the children were asleep.

The most famous story about Nicholas is when he learned of a poor man who had no money to give to his three daughters on their wedding day. Nicholas dropped bags of gold into the stockings the girls had left to dry by the fire. Ever since, children have hung stocking by the fireplace in hopes that old St. Nick would drop by and fill the stockings with goodies.

Turkey was part of the Roman Empire at the time. In 303 AD, the Roman Emperor, named Diocletian, demanded that all of his subjects worship him as god.

Nicholas would not allow his conscience to betray his religious convictions so he refused to worship the Emperor, landing him in prison. Conditions were harsh, including torture, but the 23-year-old Nicholas held to his beliefs.

In 313 AD, when Constantine became the new Emperor of the Roman Empire, he released Nicholas and other Christians from prison. Nicholas returned to his post as Bishop of Myra, where he continued his good deeds.

Constantine later became a Christian and convened the Council on Nicaea in 325 AD. He appointed Nicholas as a delegate to the Council, the purpose of which was to create statements of beliefs and canons of doctrinal orthodoxy, thereby contriving a unity of beliefs for ecumenical (worldwide) Christendom.

Nicholas died on December 6, 343 AD.

In 394 AD, Roman Emperor, Flavius Theodosius, banned all pagan rites. This decree ended the practice of worshipping the sun god, Mithras.

In 800 AD, Nicholas was officially recognized as a saint by the Eastern Catholic Church. St. Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, the patron saint of children, the patron saint of Sicily, Greece, Russia and other countries.

In the 1200s, France began to celebrate December 6 as Bishop Nicholas Day.

By the end of the 1400s, St. Nicholas was the third most beloved religious figure, after Jesus and Mary. There were more than 2,000 chapels and monasteries named after him.

Holland kept the legend of St. Nicholas alive in the 1500s, as Dutch children would place wooden shoes near the fireplace to be filled with treats. The Dutch spelled St. Nicholas as Sint Nikolaas. The name later became corrupted to Sinterklaas. Eventually, the English version of the name became Santa Claus.

And that's how all of the Christmas nonsense evolved.

St Nicholas was a man of strong convictions, having spent many years in prison merely for holding to his religious beliefs. Such courageous moral fortitude, whether or not one agrees with such beliefs, is a divine example of an individual soul remaining steadfast in a world of petty tyrants who demand the right to enforce their version of heaven on Earth.

Ironically, the pagan worship of the sun god included such notions as Mithras being born of a virgin in a cave on December 25. His birth was attended by shepherds. He was considered to be a master and a teacher. He traveled with 12 companions, performed miracles and promised immortality to those who believed in him. Upon his death, he was buried in a tomb and rose again after three days on March 25 (Easter).

The religion of Mithraism preceded Christianity by approximately 600 years.

Religion is a curious thing.

Quote for the Day – "Bah, humbug." Ebenezer Scrooge

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where Wiccans frolic on the Winter Solstice. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Monsters of the Id

If our subconscious thoughts were pleasant, we wouldn't have to bury them so deep.

The "id" is one of three categories of the human psyche. Completely unconscious, it is the source of psychic energy derived from instinctual desires -- the subconscious mind. The other two categories are ego (consciousness, perception of reality) and super-ego (sense of morality, guilt).

According to Sigmund Freud, the id is "the dark, inaccessible part of our personality.... striving to bring about the satisfaction of the instinctual needs subject to the observance of the pleasure principle."

In other words, the id is lurking deep within us, remaining hidden from our conscious thoughts, driven by primal instincts.

Actor Leslie Nielsen died on November 28. 2010, at age 84. He had appeared in over 100 movies. Known primarily for his comedic roles in movies such as AIRPLANE and NAKED GUN, he was featured in the 1956 MGM classic science fiction movie THE FORBIDDEN PLANET as the commander of a spaceship on a rescue mission, only his second film.

The plot and characters of THE FORBIDDEN PLANET were inspired by William Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST. The thrust of the story-line includes a "plastic educator" device which advances one's intelligence. However, it also has the capacity to create "Monsters of the Id" -- manifesting malevolent beings that kill the subjects of the subconscious anger of the person utilizing the device. Thus, the monsters are an extension of the id of the person unknowingly creating them.

Sometimes, so-called reality is stranger than fiction.

In October of 1943, the U.S. Navy conducted a Top Secret exercise in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard that attempted to render a vessel (the USS Eldridge) invisible to radar detection. Part of the experiment also dealt with investigating possible military applications of rotating magnetic fields applied to humans, as a potential psychological warfare tool. It was part of an operation called "Project Rainbow," later dubbed the Philadelphia Experiment. The results were unfavorable to catastrophic, depending upon which version you read.

According to various sources, researchers from the Philadelphia Experiment met in 1952-53 whereupon they obtained approval and funding from the U.S. Department of Defense to develop a weapon that would induce symptoms of psychotic disorders and schizophrenia. It was called the "Phoenix Project" and initially began operations at the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, New York. For several reasons, it was soon moved to a nearby decommissioned U.S. Air Force Base at Montauk, New York.

By 1967-68, all the equipment and operations had been moved underground beneath the former Air Force base. In 1969, the surface area became a wildlife refuge, while everything underground was designated a "D1 Base" and property of the U.S. Air Force.

Many experiments were conducted as part of the Montauk Project. These supposedly included time travel and contact with intelligent beings beyond Earth.

In 1983, one of the resident psychics (Duncan Cameron) sat in the "Montauk Chair" and visualized a monster. The monster then materialized and went on a rampage. Described as 25 feet tall, the monster developed a mind of his own and began destroying everything in its path.

It was a real-life creation of a "Monster of the Id" and it apparently got everyone's attention in a hurry. Scientists hacked away at equipment with axes until the power finally went down. The Monster then dematerialized and the project was soon abandoned.

Beware of what you visualize -- it may come storming angrily out of your id into reality and scare your cat.

I have a friend in California who had a very serious Near Death Experience (NDE) in 2002. Ever since, she has experienced elevated psychic abilities, plus a much wider visual and auditory sensory range than before. Everything we see is made up of a vast array of frequencies (vibrations). Human senses are based on frequencies. The frequency range of human sight and hearing is exceedingly small compared to what exists all around us.

My friend's sensory frequency ranges have expanded. She now has the ability to see "entities" drifting into and out of and near by other people. She continually sees them around us in our daily lives. Perhaps these are Creatures of the Id, being formed in a nearby dimension (frequency). My friend senses they are with us always, yet out of our sensory range of frequencies. Some are malevolent -- perhaps Monsters of the Id. Others are angelic -- perhaps spirit guides. And many seem to be benign -- perhaps observant watchers.

Everything we perceive in our material world is made up of atoms -- electrons orbiting a nucleus of protons. It's an assembly of energy, not solid matter. And it's more than 99 percent empty space. Basically, everything we perceive as solid is merely a glob of energy. We are not objects, we are perceivers of objects. In fact, there are those who believe the entire universe is manifested by a collective consciousness.

Creatures of the Id are almost certainly globs of energy as well, surfacing when compelled by another frequency (the host) or whatever.

Delving into the mysteries of the universe and beyond is not for the timid. I don't know all the answers, but I do have a lot of the questions.

In the movie AIRPLANE, when told, "Surely, you can't be serious." -- Leslie Nielsen uttered the famous line, "I am serious, and don't call me Shirley."

R.I.P. Leslie Nielsen -- Shirley, you will be missed.

Quote for the Day -- "Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives." Robert Collier

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where Creatures of the Id fear to tread. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Reptilian Masters

We live in a world where governments and other centers of power often operate in secrecy. Thus, conspiracy theories abound. While some conspiracy theories may seem utterly mind-boggling and laughable at first glance, not all conspiracy theories are theories.

There are those who believe royal families are descendents of “serpent gods” -- reptilian entities with the ability to shape-shift between reptilian and human form at will.

There are those who believe royal families are called “blue bloods” because their increased reptilian genetic makeup contains additional copper, which turns bluish-green when exposed to air.

There are those who believe these reptilian shape-shifters originally descended upon earth from the Draco star system eons ago and remain in positions of power by interbreeding among themselves.

There are those who believe the reptilians consider themselves to be superior to other forms because they are androgynous (both male and female simultaneously) and are satanic in nature.

There are those who believe reptilians have the ability to appear in and out of our physical reality.

There are those who believe the reptilians were unable at first to enter into our physical reality because they had a high vibration rate rendering them unable to sustain a physical body.

There are those who believe that in order to survive in our reality, it was necessary for pure reptilians to mate with earthlings, producing reptilian hybrids called Nephilim.

There are those who believe reptilians are highly attracted to light-haired (blond or red), blue-eyed or green-eyed people because they need their genetics to survive in this dimension.

There are those who believe a group of global elites known as the Illuminati are of reptilian bloodlines (shape-shifters), led by an entity code-named Pindar (phallus of the dragon), and that the current Pindar is the head of the Rothschild family.

There are those who believe the 13 Illuminati families consist of Rothschild (Bauer), Bruce, Cavendish (Kennedy), De Medici, Hanover, Hapsburg, Krupp, Plantagenet, Rockefeller, Romanov, Sinclair (St. Clair), Warburg, Windsor (British Royal family).

There are those who believe these Illuminati “money” families are obsessed with breeding among themselves in order to remain genetically pure within the reptilian bloodline and to systematically gain control of most of the major positions of economic, political, military and media power in the world.

There are those who believe there is another layer of families, under the 13 Illuminati families, called the Committee of 300, with reptilian DNA but not necessarily of shape-shifter quantity. Some of these families include Beale, Bouvier, Bush, Campbell, Carnegie, Cooledge, Delano, Douglas, Ford, Graham, Hamilton, Harriman, Loeb, Mellon, Montgomery, Morgan, Norman, Oppenheimer, Rhodes, Roosevelt, Russell, Savoy, Spencer, Stuart, Taft, Wilson and more.

There are those who believe that the Illuminati elitists, who currently control world banking, political leaders and mainstream media, are attempting to create a one-world government (New World Order) in order to enslave humanity under their rule, thereby enriching and empowering themselves through total domination of the planet.

There are those who believe the reptilian Windsors (British royalty) chose Diana because of her blond-haired, blue-eyed genetic DNA structure.

There are those who believe the Windsors needed an infusion of Diana’s essence (genes) to maintain their human form.

There are those who believe the Windsors had Diana killed because she had already conceived Pindar’s son, William, and her essence (soul?) was needed to replenish the Windsor genetic bloodline.

If these mind-bogglers are true, we are presently being occupied and manipulated by intelligent forces, beyond our perceived reality, that lust for power and control -- whereby we are being kept in a state of continual conflict (distraction) while our Masters create a New World Order to feed off of our labor and stimulate their satanic desires through our fear.

On the positive side, the Slaves outnumber the Masters and appear to be slowing waking up to the exploitative nature of the illusion being programmed into their reality.

The Truth will set you Free -- but first it will make you miserable.

Quote for the Day -- “I believe that the human race has developed a form of collective schizophrenia in which we are not only the slaves to this imposed thought behavior, but we are also the police force of it.” David Icke

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where mighty trees are simply yesterday's nuts that held their ground. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Friday, November 26, 2010

Origin of Thanksgiving

As I write this piece, Thanksgiving in 2010 occurred yesterday. I stayed home this year and cleaned the bathroom, another annual event at my place.

On December 4, 1619, the first Thanksgiving celebration was held in America at the Berkeley Plantation in Virginia. Thirty-eight English settlers attended the event. It was part of their original charter to set aside one day every year to observe a day of thanksgiving for their annual harvest. Due to hardships and other factors, the annual festivities lasted only one year.

On December 11, 1620, one hundred and two Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. The first winter was brutal. Nearly half died from starvation and illness. The following summer, assisted by friendly Indians, the survivors reaped a bountiful harvest. To show their appreciation, Governor William Bradford invited nearly 100 Indians to join the Pilgrims in a feast of thanksgiving, starting on December 13, 1621, and lasting for three days.

Two years later, the Pilgrims were hit with a draught. One day they gathered to pray for rain. The next morning it started to rain and didn’t stop for several days. With the crops saved, Governor Bradford, being the party animal he was, declared another day of thanksgiving. Once again the Indians were invited.

As other settlers arrived to the colonies, they too held their own thanksgiving celebrations, each independent of the other.

In 1668, the government decided to get involved, as governments tend to do, declaring November 25 to be Thanksgiving Day. This proclamation lasted only five years.

The first national celebration of Thanksgiving occurred in 1777. It was a one-time event to celebrate the American victory over the British at Saratoga. Americans love to celebrate wars, which may be why they participate in so many of them.

In 1789, President George Washington created a proclamation declaring Thanksgiving a national event, to be held on the first Thursday of November. Apparently, the first President was a party animal too.

John Adams, the second President, moved Thanksgiving from Thursday to the previous Wednesday. Politicians are often meddlesome nitwits who believe that making changes, whether they make sense or not, are a sign of leadership. Later in his tenure, Adams moved it back to Thursday.

Not much of a party animal, the Third President, Thomas Jefferson, was opposed to Thanksgiving and cancelled the national festivities.

Finally, in July of 1863, shortly after the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving. Over the next 75 years, every President followed Lincoln’s precedent, annually declaring a national Thanksgiving Day.

Then in 1941, when Congress had a majority of party animals on hand, Congress permanently established the fourth Thursday of November as a national holiday called Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving is a tradition in my family. Some of last year’s activities included:

1) Built a pyramid of empty beer cans at halftime of football game.
2) Performed the Heimlich maneuver on my nephew to remove a walnut.
3) Moved a couch over the spot where the cat threw up to avoid a messy cleanup.
4) Debated Uncle Earl about the impact of global warming on Japanese baseball.
5) Wrestled with my brother to see who got the wishbone.
6) After dinner we set up the Christmas tree in anticipation of the next holiday in line.
7) Most of us took a short nap, except for Uncle Earl who kept debating by himself.
8) Wrestled with my brother to see who got stuck driving crazy Aunt Edna to the airport.
9) Scanned the Internet, looking for a list of symptoms of salmonella.

Thanksgiving is an occasion to thank Mother Earth for blessing you with a bountiful harvest and to thank Father Time for allowing you to enjoy life for another year. And to remind yourself to start your annual diet, right after the New Year rolls in.

Life is a precious experience. Be thankful for all the joy and sorrow it brings -- for without sorrow, there would be no joy.

Quote for the Day -- "To give thanks in solitude is enough. Thanksgiving has wings and goes where it must go. Your prayer knows much more about it than you do." Victor Hugo

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where road-kill makes a fine holiday feast. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Saturday, November 20, 2010

127 Hours -- The Movie

I wrote the following piece as a newspaper column in 2002 and posted it as a blog a couple of years ago. A major motion picture titled "127 HOURS" opened last week, based on the incident in this article.


In the movie THE ELECTRIC HORSEMAN, Robert Redford is a former rodeo champion, now past his prime, selling his soul to a large corporation as a spokesman for their brand of breakfast cereal. During a moment of disillusionment with his life, aided by a hefty dose of Jack Daniels, he rides off with a prized horse owned by the corporation in order to save it from being turned into a commercial puppet like himself.

Newspaper reporter Jane Fonda tracks down Redford and the stolen horse, joining them in their journey across remote areas of Utah. Redford plans to release the horse into the wild, freeing it from exploitation. Fonda tags along hoping to get a good news story out of it.

One day, as they’re walking up a formidable hill, Fonda begs Redford to slow down and take a rest.

Instead of slowing down, Redford marches on while telling Fonda a story from his old rodeo days about a cowboy who broke a rib and punctured his lung during a bull ride yet continued competing in his events.

“And he still rode the rankest mare there,” Redford said, proudly.

Fonda isn’t exactly impressed, wondering why men have to display so much machismo.

“It gets you over the hill,” Redford exclaims as he continues trudging up the incline.

Every once in a while we are faced with the option to gut it out or fall by the wayside. Sometimes it isn’t even an option.

In November of 2002, 27-year-old Aron Ralston quit his engineering job to pursue his goal of becoming the first person to climb solo, in winter, all 55 of Colorado’s peaks that exceed 14,000 feet in elevation.

Four months later, he survived an avalanche but remained undeterred.

In April of 2003, having told no one of his plans, Ralston was hiking alone in Blue John Canyon in a remote area of Utah when his right arm became pinned by an 800-pound boulder.

Falling by the wayside was not an option.

Ralston was trapped for five days and out of water before he finally took the only action he could to save himself. He broke each of the two bones in his forearm, applied a tourniquet and cut off his right arm at the point of the break with a pocketknife. Then he rigged an anchor, fixed a rope and rappelled 60 feet to the canyon floor.

After hiking for about five miles, covered with blood, Ralston encountered two tourists and was transported to safety.

It later took a crew of 13, using jacks and a hoist, to move the boulder and recover Ralston’s arm, which was subsequently delivered to the local mortuary. Because of the crude field surgery, doctors were forced to amputate the arm even closer the elbow.

While this particular tragedy was gruesome, Ralston brought much of it on himself. A prudent wilderness hiker would notify someone of their destination and expected time of return. Plus, hiking with a companion is essential in emergencies. With today’s electronics, carrying a cell phone or walkie-talkie would also be wise. And of course, avoid positioning body parts under anything heavier than a Buick.

If unwilling to take these basic precautions, find another hobby such as checkers or basket weaving.

Even though I try to live a simple life, I too must gut it out on occasion. For example, I’ll often get out of bed even if I’m still tired.

A person is the sum of their actions. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and rise to the occasion.

It gets you over the hill.

Quote for the Day – "You are an Eternal Soul, surrounded by Infinity. Virtue is nothing more than the proper use of energy." Bret

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where the sum of his actions is 33. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ig Nobel Awards -- 2010

There is a scientific theory that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline luggage. It's probably not true, but in a universe where we drive on parkways and park on driveways, anything is possible.

Scientists love to conduct experiments. Research is what they do when they're pondering quandaries, but they never seem to solve a problem without creating ten more hypothetical problems to be solved. Unfortunately, we don't devote enough research into finding a cure for pondering quandaries.

The Ig Nobel Prize is an award given for "science achievements that first make people laugh and then make them think." The twentieth annual Ig Nobel Prize event at Harvard University was organized by ANNALS OF IMPROBABLE RESEARCH, a science humor magazine, in cooperation with several Harvard student groups.

The 2010 award ceremony took place on September 30, 2010 at Harvard's Sanders Theatre and was also webcast live on YouTube. One of the annual pre-award features is the "24/7 Lectures," whereby several of the world's top thinkers each explains their subjects twice -- first in 24 seconds and again in 7 words.

The prize winners, along with their published research paper and my astute observations (BB), include:

MANAGEMENT: Allessandro Pluchino, Andrea Raspisarda and Cesare Garofalo of the University of Catania, Italy -- "The Peter Principle Revisited: A Computational Study" (mathematical demonstration that organizations would become more efficient if they promoted people at random)
BB -- Obviously, the same principle of random selection would be beneficial in choosing political leaders

PHYSICS: Lianne Parkin, Sheila Williams and Patricia Priest of the University of Otago, New Lealand -- "Preventing Winter Falls: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Novel Intervention" (demonstrated that people slip and fall less often on icy footpaths in wintertime if they wear socks on the outside of their shoes)
BB -- People slip and fall less often on icy footpaths in the wintertime if they avoid icy footpaths

CHEMISTRY: Reic Adams of M.I.T., Scott Socolofsky of Texas A & M University, Stephen Masutani of the University of Hawaii and British Petroleum -- "Review of Deep Oil Spill Modeling Activity Supported by the Deep Spill JIP and Offshore Operator's Committee Final report" (disproving the old belief that oil and water don't mix)
BB -- Unfortunately, the Gulf of Mexico is not the ideal place to conduct such an experiment

MEDICINE: Simon Rietveld of the University of Amsterdam and Ilja van Beest of Tilburg University, the Netherlands -- "Rollercoaster Asthma: When Positive Emotional Stress Interferes with Dyspnea Perception" (discovery that symptoms of asthma can be treated with a roller-coaster ride)
BB -- The symptoms of jock itch can be treated with a ride on a wild stallion

PUBLIC HEALTH: Manuel Barneito, Charles Mathews and Larry Taylor of the International Health and Safety Office at Fort Detrick, Maryland -- "Microbiological Laboratory Hazard of Bearded Men" (determined through experimentation that microbes cling to bearded scientists)
BB -- Microbes also cling to bearded Scientologists

TRANSPORTATION: Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Atsushi Tero, Seiji Takagi, Tetsu Saigusa, Kentaro Ito, Kenji Yumiki, Ryo Kobayashi of Japan, and Dan Bebber and Mark Fricker of the UK -- Rules for Biologically Inspired Adaptive Network Design" (usage of slime mold to determine the optimal routes for railroad tracks)
BB -- The usage of slime mold can also be used to determine the optimal number of bearded scientists it takes to screw in a light bulb

ECONOMICS: The executives and directors of Goldman Sachs, AIG, Lehman Brothers, Bear Sterns, Merrill Lynch and Magnetar -- (creating and promoting new ways to invest money that maximize financial gain and minimize risk for the world economy, or for a portion thereof)
BB -- The investors reap the profits and the taxpayers cover the losses -- the investors get the mine and the taxpayers get the shaft

BIOLOGY: Gareth Jones of the University of Bristol, UK -- "Fellatio by Fruit Bats Prolongs Copulation Time" (scientific documentation of fellatio in fruit bats)
BB -- Fruit bats also sleep upside down in caves, just like Bruce Wayne and Donald Trump

PEACE PRIZE: Richard Stephens, John Atkins and Andrew Kingston of Keele University, UK -- "Swearing as a Response to Pain" (confirming the belief that swearing relieves pain)
BB -- No sheeit

ENGINEERING: Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse and Agnes Rocha-Gosselin of the Zoological Society of London, UK, and Diane Gendron of Instituto Politecnico in Baja California Sur, Mexico -- "A Novel Non-Invasive Tool for Disease Surveillance of Free-Ranging Whales and Its Relevance to Conservation Programs" (perfected a method to collect whale snot, using a remote-control helicopter)
BB -- When collecting gorilla snot, bring lots of bananas and be very, very polite

The winners who attended the ceremony where they each gave a brief speech. To ensure brevity, a little girl would dutifully scream, "Please stop talking – you're boring me." when recipients ran over their allotted time.

People often yell "Please stop talking – you're boring me." at me too, sometimes when I'm not even talking.

Quote for the Day – "If we knew what we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?" Albert Einstein

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where most of the local research deals with the covert distillation of liquid spirits (moonshine). His blogs appear on several websites, including

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The War to End All Wars

On the Planet of Wounded Souls, the human race knows more about war than it does about living in peace.

The War to End All Wars officially ended at 11 AM on 11/11/1918 -- it would later be called World War I. The following year, November 11 was set aside in the United States as Armistice Day, in memory of those who participated in World War I in order to ensure a lasting peace.

In 1938, Armistice Day became a federal holiday. The following year, World War II erupted.

In 1953, Armistice Day was changed to Veteran’s Day as a gesture meant to honor all of those who served their country in war and peace. Although the federal holiday for Veteran’s Day was declared, in 1971, to be the second Monday in November, most Americans recognize November 11 as the day of observance, often holding ceremonies at 11:00 AM in the morning.

Both of my grandfathers were conscripted into the U.S. Army during World War I. One of them served as a cook at an Army base in New Jersey and the other served as a clerk in Illinois.

My father was conscripted into the U.S. Army during World War II. He started as a private and was mustered out as a first lieutenant after spending four years at various Army Air Force bases as a flight instructor.

I was drafted into the US Army (1966-68) during what was referred to as the Vietnam Conflict and served two years at Third U.S. Army Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, as a computer analyst.

None of the men in my family enlisted voluntarily, but we all served honorably and went back to our civilian occupations after we were discharged. Ironically, none of us ever left the states to participate in the action either.

Men and women who join the Armed Forces know the risks when they enlist. Many of them make it a career. But those who are called to duty through the civilian draft make a much bigger sacrifice. Their young lives are interrupted, for an extensive period of time, always in the most perilous of circumstances. Not all will survive.

It’s difficult to put a value on several years of the prime of your life, but if it helps to preserve freedom it’s worth the sacrifice.

The following list reflects the number of Americans who gave their lives for their country.

American Revolution (1775-1783) – 4,435 dead
War of 1812 (1812-1815) – 2,260 dead
Mexican War (1846-1848) – 13,283 dead
Civil War (1861-1865) – 558,052 dead
Spanish American War (1898) – 2,446 dead
World War I (1914-1918) – 116,708 dead
World War II (1939-1945) – 407,316 dead
Korean Police Action (1950-1953) – 33,651 dead
Vietnam Conflict (1957-1975) – 58,168 dead
Gulf War (1991) – 293 dead
Iraq War (2003-2010) -- 4,404 dead
Afghanistan War (2001-????) -- 4,683 dead

America has had a long, bloody history. The present war in Afghanistan is the longest war in U.S. history, and still on-going. Far too many souls have perished in the quest to preserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Unfortunately, the world is populated by a small percentage of self-centered people who thirst for power in order to impose their will on others. Some of those who manage to bully their way to the top have malicious agendas, often including confiscation of business and private property, suppression of human rights, personal enrichment, favoritism, personal religious agenda and so forth. The most vicious of these human maggots are eager to exterminate others based on race, religion, social status, territorial expansion, etc. Such evil must be stopped whatever the cost, both foreign and domestic.

This world is also populated by those who profit and prosper from war, such as international bankers, national governments, equipment manufacturers, intelligence agencies, etc. In addition, those who seek a one-world government perpetuate global conflict as a means to achieve their goal of global domination. We must always be cautious about marching off to war because of the secret manipulations of powerful elitists who lust for riches and control. Rich old men wage war behind the scenes, the poor die on the front line.

Perhaps someday the human race will reach a higher plane of collective consciousness and rise above such foolishness as war. Until then, the war to end all wars has yet to be fought.

On 11/11, spend a moment of silence to honor those who have sacrificed for your freedom.

And make damn sure the next war is the last resort for a just cause. War is hideous -- we must not grow fond of it.

Quote for the Day -- "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse." John Stuart Mill

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where the best weapon against an enemy is another enemy. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

300 Wives and 700 Porcupines

"Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late." Thomas Sowell

Some students have a way of writing things in a slightly different manner than intended, as demonstrated in the following excerpts from tests and essays of eight graders through college, complied by Richard Lederer, a teacher in St Paul.

The Greeks were a highly sculptured people, and without them we wouldn’t have history. The Greeks also had myths. A myth is a female moth.

The Magna Carta provided that no man should be hanged twice for the same offense.

The Bible is full of interesting caricatures. In the first book of the Bible, Guinessis, Adam and Eve were created by an apple tree. One of their children, Cain, asked, “Am I my brother’s son?”

Ancient Egypt was inhabited by mummies and they all wrote in hydraulics. They lived in the Sarah Dessert. The climate of the Sarah is such that the inhabitants have to live elsewhere.

Moses led the Hebrew slaves to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread, which is bread made without ingredients. Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the Ten Commandments. He died before he ever reached Canada.

Solomon had three hundred wives and seven hundred porcupines.

Homer was not written by Homer but by another man of that name.

In the Olympic games, Greeks ran races, jumped, hurled biscuits, and threw the java.

It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented removable type and the Bible. Another important invention was the circulation of blood.

Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100-foot clipper.

The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare. He was born in the year 1564, supposedly on his birthday.

Queen Victoria was the longest queen. She sat on a thorn for 63 years. Her death was the final event that ended her reign.

The winter of 1620 was a hard one for the Pilgrims. Many died and many babies were born. Captain John Smith was responsible for all this.

Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and Benjamin Franklin were two singers of the Declaration of Independence. Franklin discovered electricity by rubbing two cats together. Franklin died in 1790 and is still dead.

Gravity was invented by Isaac Walton. It is chiefly noticeable when apples are falling off the trees.

Johann Bach wrote a great many musical compositions and had a large number of children. In between he practiced on an old spinster which he kept in the attic. Bach died from 1750 to the present.

Handel was a great composer. He was half German, half Italian and half English. He was very large.

Beethoven wrote music even though he was deaf. He was so deaf he wrote loud music. Beethoven expired in 1827 and later died for this.

The nineteenth century was a time of many inventions. People stopped reproducing by hand and started reproducing by machine. The invention of the steamboat caused a network of rivers to spring up.

William Tell shot an arrow through an apple while standing on his son’s head.

The sun never sets on the British Empire because the British Empire is in the East and the sun sets in the West.

Abraham Lincoln became America’s greatest Precedent. Lincoln’s mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin that he built with his own hands.

Quote for the Day -- "A child of five would understand this -- send someone to fetch a child of five." Groucho Marx

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where a black cat crossing your path means the cat is going somewhere. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Downfall of a Democracy

The purpose of our federal government is to protect individual freedom, ensure a level playing field, maintain a common infrastructure and provide a national defense. Its purpose is not to run your personal life, not to run the economy, not to redistribute wealth, not to be a do-gooder charity and not to be the self-appointed police force of the rest of the world.

You can't give government the power to do good without giving it the power to do anything it wants.

Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, wrote a treatise in 1787, titled THE CYCLE OF DEMOCRACY. In it he made the following observation:

“A Democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasury. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship.”

Tyler went on to point out that the average age of the world’s great civilizations has been approximately 200 years and that they seemed to progress through the same inevitable sequence -- from bondage to courage to liberty to abundance to selfishness to dependency and back to bondage.

Ultimately, a democracy cannot sustain itself because the voting public does not vote for the best interest of the country -- it votes for the most rewards of the individual. More for me, less for others.

Today, the USA is rapidly sliding down the slippery slope of dependency, heading back to bondage where the government no longer serves the people but rather the people serve the government.

While local governments are forced to adhere to a fixed budget, the federal government continues to spend more money than it takes in, pushing this irresponsible debt upon future generations. Our present national debt exceeds $13.7 trillion and is projected to become increasingly worse over the next several years with no end in sight.

Voters elect politicians who will bring home the bacon rather than adhere to sound fiscal policy. This inherent greed of the voting public will eventually lead to the downfall of our democracy. Instead of using tax dollars sparingly and wisely to protect our individual freedom, it’s being used to create dependency on the federal government and protect the incumbency of politicians.

And all too often, the government solution to a problem is worse than the problem. Invariably, every government program will be more expensive than when originally proposed and there will be a slew of unintended negative consequences. When Medicare was first created in 1965, the government projected the cost in 1992 would be $3 billion -- the actual cost in 1992 was $110 billion.

Under the present Obama administration, which advocates expanding government control of every aspect of our lives, we are now being forced to purchase a health care scheme (or be fined if we don't) that contains more than 2,000 pages of rules, written by a congressional committee whose chairman doesn't understand it, covering tens of millions more people, without adding a single doctor, requiring 16,000 new IRS agents to administer the scheme. It was passed in haste by a Congress that didn't read it, but exempted themselves from it, to be financially administered by a treasury chief who didn't pay his taxes, for which we will be taxed for four years before any benefits take place, by a government that has already bankrupted Social Security and Medicare. And to make it palatable to its subjects, the government will toss in several more millions of our tax dollars in a TV propaganda campaign with Andy Griffith telling America how wonderful it all is.

Our ever-growing dependency on a large central government will surely lead us into bondage once again. Our only options will be to grind away at peak production and seek mindless growth, while shoveling most of the rewards down the rat hole of a government whose solution to problems is peak production and mindless growth.

A vote for more government goodies is a vote into human bondage. We will enslave ourselves by our own greed.

The downfall of our country is inevitable unless a large number of people wise up and do something about it, such as insisting our government live within a reasonable budget and keep their meddling to a minimum. Serving oneself by collectively plundering others and financing our collective greed by borrowing against the earnings of future generations is highly immoral.

A reliance on government leads to the growth of government, which leads to the dominance of government, which leads to servitude (bondage) to government. A government that gives you everything you want is a government that will take everything you have, which ultimately includes your freedom.

Life is simple -- more government means less freedom.

Individual freedom is our inherent right -- it has nothing to do with government granting it. Many valiant souls have sacrificed their lives to ensure liberty for all -- it is a battle that never ends.

Quote for the Day -- "Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys." P. J. O'Rourke

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where freedom is never free. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Saturday, October 23, 2010

13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Poetry is an escape from personality. Those who comprehend it realize it's basically a falsehood that speaks the truth. Even if poetry has meaning, which it occasionally does or so I've been told, perhaps it is not wise to draw it out -- understanding it may destroy the pleasure.

Many moons ago, I was a student at the University of Minnesota, majoring in mathematics. During my freshman English class, a required course, the instructor gave us an assignment to write a paper on the meaning of a poem titled "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" by Wallace Stevens.

No big deal, I thought -- only 13 stanzas containing 246 words.

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the black bird.
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.
A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.
O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?
I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.
When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.
At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.
He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.
The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

Well, it turned out to be a big deal. After reading it 13 times, I still came to the same conclusion -- some clown jotted down a series of random thoughts, as if doodling with words, and it had no obvious meaning other than it probably had to do with something other than blackbirds.

Rather than bang my head against the wall, I showed the poem to a friend named Glenn, a sophomore English major. Glenn was happy to explain, with the aid of multiple beverages made from hops, over the course of a couple of hours, the tiers of deep meaning within the poem.

It had to do with the insights of how people think and what it means when someone finally figures it (life) out. The poem starts with the perception of the blackbird from the point of view of an observer, followed by the intellectual process of the observation, followed by the intellectual process of the blackbird itself and what it must be like to be a blackbird. In the process, "a man and a woman and a blackbird are one" -- just as "all is one" in the scheme of the universe and beyond. Additionally, it has something to do with commonality, the basic human ego, and that our identities as base humans is spiritual enough. The black bird is a common bird, but its very existence in this poem seems to be linked with natural processes, as if the act of observation on the part of our egos is the act of holding the creation together. The conclusion seems to deal with the shortcomings of our egocentric lives, thus it was thereby structured in such a way to reflect the human thought process.

Glenn went on to proclaim that it was written in such a fashion so as to allow for multiple interpretations of its meaning. For example, if the blackbird represented the human thought process, the piece had one meaning. If the blackbird represented God, it had another meaning. If the blackbird represented death, it had yet another meaning. And so forth. Seemingly endless possibilities, primarily depending on when the supply of beverages made from hops would cease to exist.

By the time Glenn was done explaining the meaning of the poem, I walked over to the nearest wall and banged my head 13 times. It was like trying to explain the meaning of an abstract painting of a small red circle within a large random splatter of black paint -- 13 different observers would come up with 13 different interpretations, when in fact the artist simply splattered some black paint on a canvas and inserted a red circle for no particular reason other than it felt like the thing to do at the time.

In any event, I wrote some gibberish about the poem relating animal life to human life and concluding there was sort of comparable relationship. Since I really didn't have a clue about the poem, I did a lot of bluffing and compared it to the passage of a full human lifetime based on a couple of lines ("the river is moving" and "when the blackbird flew out of sight, it marked the edge of one of many circles").

In the end, I got a "C" in freshman English, no doubt well deserved for my ability to portray knowledge without actually attaining it. Elsewhere I did better, including an "A" in integral calculus -- you can't bluff in a math course, so I was forced to learn it.

Glenn went on to become a successful professional photographer. I went on to become a successful professional bum (computer programmer, independent contractor, mountaintop hippie, gold prospector, desert rat, novelist, computer consultant, wandering adventurer, newspaper columnist, college instructor, reclusive hermit).

Wallace Stevens (1879 - 1955) was a lawyer for an insurance company who probably had lots of idle time at his desk to jot down random thoughts (doodles), which later became poems. He won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1955.

Sometimes, one person's mind doodles become another person's meaning of life. In the end, a poem points to nothing but itself.

Quote for the Day -- "Blackbird singing in the dead of night... Take these broken wings and learn to fly... All your life you were only waiting for this moment to arise." Paul McCartney and John Lennon

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where the beauty of innuendoes whirled among the thin men of Haddam where the bawds of euphony sat in the cedar-limbs beyond the long window of barbaric glass in the shadow of the blackbird. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Saturday, October 16, 2010

John Lennon's Birthday

"You don't need anybody to tell you who you are or what you are. You are what you are." John Lennon

John Winston Lennon was born on October 9, 1940, in Liverpool, England.

"I believe in everything until it's disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it's in your mind. Who's to say that dreams and nightmares aren't as real as the here and now?" John Lennon

Lennon attended Quarry Bank High School in Liverpool.

"If being an egomaniac means I believe in what I do and in my art or music, then in that respect you can call me that... I believe in what I do, and I'll say it." John Lennon

In 1956, Lennon's first band included several schoolmates and was called The Quarrymen.

"A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality." John Lennon

In 1960, the Quarrymen evolved into the Beatles, with John Lennon (rhythm guitar), Paul McCartney (guitar), George Harrison (lead guitar), Stuart Sutcliffe (bass guitar), George Best (drums).

"If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace." John Lennon

Beetles are a group of insects with the largest number of known species whereas The Beatles are a group of four mop-haired musicians who became the most commercially successful rock band in world history.

"You have to be a bastard to make it, and that's a fact. And the Beatles are the biggest bastards on earth." John Lennon

After a couple of personnel changes, the permanent members of the Beatles in 1962 were John Lennon (rhythm guitar), Paul McCartney (bass guitar), George Harrison (lead guitar) and Ringo Starr (drums) -- all four of them participated in vocals in various songs.

"We've got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can't just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it's going to get on by itself. You've got to keep watering it. You've got to really look after it and nurture it." John Lennon

The Beatles created 45 Gold albums, 39 Platinum albums and 14 Multi-Platinum albums in the USA, and received 7 Grammy Awards

"Reality leaves a lot to the imagination." John Lennon

During the Vietnam war in the late 60s, Lennon became a peace activist.

"All we are saying is give peace a chance." John Lennon

Lennon met Yoko Ono in 1966 at an art gallery where Ono's works were being displayed.

"Everything is clearer when you're in love." John Lennon

On March 20, 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono were married in Gibraltar and spent their honeymoon in Amsterdam..

"As usual, there is a great woman behind every idiot." John Lennon

In September of 1969, Lennon left The Beatles and the band was disbanded.

"I'm not going to change the way I look or the way I feel to conform to anything. I've always been a freak. So I've been a freak all my life and I have to live with that, you know. I'm one of those people." John Lennon

Due to Lennon's opposition to the Vietnam War, the Nixon Administration initiated deportation against him and on March 23, 1973, Lennon was ordered to leave the USA within 60 days.

"Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we're being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I'm liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That's what's insane about it." John Lennon

The FBI admitted it had 281 pages of files on Lennon but refused to release them on the grounds they contained national security information.

"The more I see the less I know for sure." John Lennon

In 1975, during the Ford Administration, the deportation order of John Lennon was overturned.

"The basic thing nobody asks is why do people take drugs of any sort? Why do we have these accessories to normal living to live? I mean, is there something wrong with society that's making us so pressurized, that we cannot live without guarding ourselves against it?" John Lennon

Early in the evening of December 8, 1980, Lennon autographed his "Double Fantasy" album for a young man named Mark David Chapman as he was exiting the Dakota, his NYC apartment building.

"The postman wants an autograph. The cab driver wants a picture. The waitress wants a handshake. Everyone wants a piece of you." John Lennon

Later in the evening of December 8, 1980, Lennon was fatally shot four times in the back by Mark David Chapman, a paranoid schizophrenic, as he was entering his apartment building.

"Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans." John Lennon

Yoko Ono scattered Lennon's ashes in New York City's Central Park.

"All you need is love." John Lennon

Rest in Peace, John Winston Lennon -- no peace here on Planet Earth yet.

"Everybody loves you when you're six foot in the ground." John Lennon

As a song-writer (or co-writer) and performer, Lennon was responsible for 27 number one singles and sold over 14 million solo albums in the USA.

"Strawberry Fields Forever." John Lennon

In 1997, Lennon was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

"Music is everybody's possession. It's only publishers who think that people own it." John Lennon

In 2008, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Lennon the fifth greatest singer of all time.

"My role in society, or any artist's or poet's role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all." John Lennon

On October, 9, 2010, John Lennon celebrated his 70th birthday in another dimension somewhere in the Great Beyond.

"We all shine on, like the moon, and the stars, and the sun." John Lennon

Quote for the Day -- "Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one." John Lennon

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where everything is what it is. His blogs appear on several websites, including