Saturday, July 29, 2017

How to naturally increase male sexual performance

A guide to naturally improving male sexual health
by Skip Pulley



At some point during my adult life, because I rarely used pharmaceuticals and refused to become a slave to tobacco, alcohol and caffeine, I was labeled an “herbalist”. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what that meant the first few times I heard it. I thought maybe it was in reference to smoking ganja, which I rarely do. But I found that it means "naturalist" or otherwise outside the scope of artificial chemical compounds. Having said all that, I am a beatnik - and unlike most unkempt and socially contrived "hippies", I have my own unique style despite being non-materialistic. It’s called minimalism, and it invades every part of my life, especially diet, behavior and environment. I try to keep things simple.


As an example, a few years ago, while I was hanging out with some of my Eastern European friends I learned that a very simple mixture of almonds and honey was very helpful in relation to men’s sexual health. This was not surprising to me in the least. In that part of the world most people have reasons both culturally and economically to seek natural alternatives for modern medication. Americans, on the other hand, have become overweight, over-medicated spoiled lazy children – hooked on TV and living vicariously through their children, other people’s children, celebrities, athletes and idols. We have too much of everything in the US, with ego being most abundant.


Being that I am a minimalist, I typically try to find a straight line from point A to point B. I like being natural in general, keeping it real 60’s/70’s – before the microwave era. It seems to balance the equation when dealing with postmodern stress disorder. So, in that respect, putting two and two together isn’t so difficult. I typically have a high sex drive - and I eat a healthy, natural, mostly plant-based diet. This isn’t brain surgery, you dig? One plus one equals us, baby. So I guess you are thinking, where is the chase and how do I cut to it? Slow down and understand something, you have to treat your body as a whole entity. Sexual health comes from all around physical well being. There are no real short cuts, just common sense.
 

The most important classifications for men’s sexual health foods are those that promote good blood circulation, reduce fat, boost testosterone and increase dopamine.

Here are my top 11:


1. Salmon - and other oily fish such as mackerel and herring are packed with Omega 3, which increases blood flow around the body and to the genitals and is vital for fighting erectile dysfunction.


2. Lean Poultry and Fish (in moderation) - Low levels of iron can also cause fatigue and kill sex drive, so lean fowl (duck, geese, etc.), Poultry (chicken, turkey, pheasant, etc) eggs and oily fish are a good source of iron. (If you feel the need to eat lean red meat or pork, go ahead, but be honest about it. Eat it because you enjoy eating it, not because you need it for "protein". You actually don't need to eat any meat to get the recommended amount of protein. Plants provide all the protein humans require, which is actually not as much as you think.)

 3. Cherries - raspberries and blackcurrants are rich in anthocyanins, an antioxidant that prevents fatty deposits on the walls of blood vessels keeping blood running smoothly. Fruits are literally bursting with fiber and antioxidants. They are thought to be loaded with aphrodisiac properties; Apples, apricots, bananas, coconut, dates, figs, grapes, mangoes, papayas, peaches, pears, plums, pomegranates, quince, raspberries and strawberries – take your pick.


4. The avocado - Believe it or not, the Spanish conquistadors helped spread its reputation throughout the world as a powerful sexual stimulant. Guacamole usually contains a lot of sodium, however so be careful.


5. The tomato - a potent source of the powerhouse antioxidant, lycopene, was once a highly sought-after libido enhancer. Other veggies reputed to turn up the heat include: beans, garlic, leeks, onions, parsley, peppers, soybeans, spinach, truffles, turnips and watercress.

6. Shellfish - including abalone, oysters, clams, scallops, shrimp, lobster and deep, cold-water fish like cod and halibut, fuel the body, brain the and sex drive. Oysters, for instance, are rich in zinc and iodine. Zinc is a vital sexual nutriment and essential for testosterone production in both men and women.


7. Chili Peppers - can improve your circulation and stimulate nerve endings. Ginger can do the same thing. Because circulation is increased, so will your sexual pleasure. Both pine nuts and pumpkin seeds are also sexual energy boosters.


8. Nuts & Honey - natural almonds and pure honey are like a sexual one-two punch. They increase blood flow and stimulate dopamine to promote sexual energy and stamina. General Mills makes a cereal featuring this combo, which is marketed as “heart smart”.


9. Low-fat yogurt - It burns fat and creates lean muscle mass, especially in the stomach area. Muscle helps burn calories, but it is often compromised during weight loss.
10. Legumes - beans, nuts, peas and lentils, especially navy beans, black beans and garbanzo beans are high in fiber and protein and lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol; all of which helps build lean muscle. Nuts such as walnuts, brazil nuts, almonds and pecans are rich in fiber and high in antioxidants and good cholesterol, which can help boost male sex hormone production.

11. My personal favorite - The Pistachio. Every Eurasian (and Mediterranean) man knows from his own experience the power of the Pistachio nut. Its combination with honey produces an abundance of prostatic fluid (and sperm), with the accompanying quality of enhanced erections. It is full of micro-nutrients, many of which are responsible for the male response actions and its value as a food cannot be underestimated. For example, one ounce of dry roasted pistachios contains 165 calories, with 7 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of protein and 14 grams of fat (required for the effective production of testosterone in the man's reproductive system). The pistachio is cholesterol free and contains high values of Vitamins A and C, as well as important percentages of calcium and iron.

The pistachio contains 18 essential proteins. It is almost a complete food on its own. From vitamins, pistachios contain Vitamin A. C, D, E, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Foliates, Vitamin B12, and K. From minerals, pistachios contain high amounts of calcium and iron, and magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium. When mixed with honey, it becomes a highly enriched food that will show its circulatory benefits demonstrated in harder erections. Add about one cup (de-shelled) of dry roasted pistachios to an equal amount of natural honey. Place the mixture into a glass jar and expose to the sun for one week. The best time to prepare the mixture is during the summer months. After one week’s exposure, the mixture is ready. One tablespoon daily is recommended in the mornings and one tablespoon when sexual activity is anticipated. It may be eaten alone, mixed with yogurt or with some fruit. The result over time will be an increased sexual drive and stamina.
Foods that receive an honorable mention are: green tea, various unsweetened teas, watermelon, asparagus and olives. One mineral that is crucial to sex drive is Zinc, so make sure you get plenty of it from crab, oatmeal bread and potato bread, oysters, lean (boneless, skinless) poultry, tuna, mackerel and sardines. These foods should be eaten in a diet that includes plenty of vegetables and fiber for overall energy. These foods act as stress relievers that also improve male sexual health.

What to do and what not to do:

1. Quit Smoking. Smoking damages every part of your body, especially the circulatory system, and introduces dangerous chemicals directly into the blood.  
2. Exercise, every day. It is estimated that you need at least 30 minutes of strenuous exercise daily as a minimum. To get testosterone levels up naturally, start a combination cardio/weight lifting program. See your doctor first, and then ask a professional trainer to give you a custom program suited to your body type, age, and physical condition. Your testosterone levels will rise naturally.
3. Eat a balanced diet. If you are overweight, your penis will eventually pay the price, along with your heart and every other critical organ. Eat plenty of fruits (in season only) and vegetables, lots of roughage (in the form of cereals) and lean meat (sparingly). Your weight will drop naturally (without an official diet) and you will notice your libido returning to normal.
 

4. Moderate your alcoholic intake. Do not over-indulge in drinking. Only drink liquor or brandy sparingly; and wines and beers in moderation. Beer contains zinc but it also contains a lot of calories and useless carbs (converted from and then back to sugar).  
5. Stop eating processed foods. Eat whole, natural food (cooked or raw) and eat good carbs for energy, such as brown rice and potatoes with skins. Eat five portions of fruit or vegetables per day and drink plenty of water.

The sexual organs cannot be treated in isolation in regards to the male libido. This means an overall healthier lifestyle. The big killers are drinking smoking and recreational drugs so cut them down or stop altogether. You then need to have a diet to give you energy and fight stress and that means eating naturally. Since good blood flow is important for a good erection, food that is good for your heart will also be good sexual health. If your heart is not operating properly there is a very good chance that your penis will not respond as well as you would like. Because saturated fat clogs the arteries, which in turn restricts the blood flow, it also restricts the blood flow that reaches your genital region. Your body does require fat to create hormones, but it needs the right kind of fats. Good fat comes from olive oils, sea food, and nuts. These good fats will help in the production of hormones that are essential for sexual peak performance.

There are several fruits, vegetables and herbs I have not mentioned, because different foods will have different results from each man to the next. Improving men's sexual performance has to be catered to your bio-chemical make-up and pH-balance. For a personalized consultation and diet/exercise plan recommendation, feel free to contact me directly at skippulley@live.com, visit http://skippulley.com.
Consult a physician before you start any diet or exercise program. Above all, use your common sense. The bottom line is, live naturally, stay fit, stay active and and do no harm.

One love!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Low Carbohydrate Vs. Low Fat Diets

A Breakdown and Comparison of Low Carbohydrate Vs. Low Fat Diets
by Skip Pulley


When I am training or trying to keep fit, I sometimes experiment with diets and exercises. When the low-carb craze started, I began to eat a lot of pork rinds, beef jerky and seafood wrapped in bib lettuce. After a week, my sodium level shot through the roof until my body was like a giant salt-lick. I had to look over my shoulder for deer while jogging in the woods. I felt like a slim Jim floating in the dead sea. On the other hand, when I drastically reduced my fat intake, I instantly realized that fat is what makes food taste good. If I closed my eyes it was hard to tell if I was eating a plate of food or the plate itself. I understand that these things should be done in moderation, but who has time for that? Besides, my bad carbs came from refreshing adult beverages and my bad fats came from things I should limit regardless. So I hit the gym, cut out the nitrates and "bada boom"; case dismissed.

So you can make an informed decision, here is my breakdown of the comparison.
Low carb diets usually provide faster weight loss than low fat diets, however the overall results and long term health effects are questionable. To help understand the debate, let's examine the way each one works. Low fat diets limit your intake of fat decreasing the amount that will end up being stored in the body. By keeping outside fat sources low, the body will more likely use its' own fat stores when that type of fuel is needed, thus reducing body weight. Low carbohydrate diets limit the intake of carbohydrates. "Carbs" are the body's preferred source of fuel. When carbs are limited, the body utilizes more fat instead. This in turn leads to weight loss.
With all the resources available for individual research, it seemed as if the debate on low-carbohydrate vs. low-fat diets for weight loss would never end. Fortunately, there is now more extensive data on the results of the diets.

A recent review of multiple studies examined the findings of controlled clinical trials involving people on low-carbohydrate diets and low-fat diets. At six-months, those on the low-carbohydrate diet lost more weight. However, by the end of the year, followers of both diets had lost comparable amounts. The results from this meta-analysis also showed that people on the low-carbohydrate diet had statistically significant increases in both total and harmful LDL cholesterol. On the plus side, their protective HDL cholesterol also rose significantly. A major concern in following a low-carb diet for an extended period of time is that high protein, high fat diet can potentially cause a rise in cholesterol levels, but neither of these may have any long-term effect, since most people discontinue low-carbohydrate diets after a relatively short time.

So if either type of diet leads to comparable amounts of weight loss, what are the long term health effects? Many, including the late Dr. Robert Atkins, have promoted the idea of restricting carbohydrates instead of fat to lose weight, although not everyone is convinced it's a good idea. A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine provides evidence that in the short term, a low-carb diet helped people lose weight without any adverse effects, and improved some indicators of health. One study followed severely obese people with a high rate of diabetes and high risk for heart disease for six months. They found those people lost more weight on a low-carb diet compared to the low-fat diet. The low-carb group also had improvements in insulin sensitivity and lower triglyceride levels, an important risk factor for heart disease.

In this study, bad cholesterol and blood pressure were not significantly raised. However, by the end of the year a lot of weight had been regained, so that the difference in weight loss between the two diets was not significant. Although the study shows that a low-carb diet does result in short-term weight loss and has some short-term health benefits, the verdict on the diet's long-term benefits is debatable. The number of participants in that study was relatively small, and the researchers did not follow up to see what the longer-term weight loss and health effects were. The problem is that people tend to put the weight back on over time. In any case, exercise is also needed for a healthy lifestyle. Eating fewer calories while increasing physical activity are the keys to controlling body weight. Eating less and exercising more is the most effective way to lose weight and/or body fat in the long term.

Not surprisingly, some physicians have completely endorsed low-carb dieting. This is mostly because the companies that produce low-carb diet products such as foods and beverages, and media - such as books and videos - financially reward those physicians who find positive results from low-carb dieting in their studies. So, is losing weight faster an advantage? According to most studies and my own research and experience, slow weight loss is more effective in the long term, but fast weight loss is easier and more appealing. If weight loss were a sprint, the low carb diet plan would win hands down. It is not completely certain why people lose weight faster on low carb diets. One of the most likely explanations is that they are better at suppressing appetite making it easier to cut calories.

Is losing weight on a low-carb diet really safe from the standpoint of heart attack, cholesterol, stroke, and diabetes? We don't really know for sure. In the short term there are some favorable metabolic effects such as lower triglycerides and less insulin resistance. However, it is still unclear if this is a product of the actual diet or the resulting weight loss. In general, cutting back on food is what works best. There are many different paths to weight loss. You need to find a plan that works for you. One that you can stick with that includes healthy foods. Cutting back on sugar, refined and white flour are very important.

So which diet is more effective for long-term weight loss, low fat or low carb? In my opinion, the jury is still out. I recommend moderating your eating habits. Choose healthy, nutrient rich foods while limiting consumption of fats and oils, combined with moderate physical activity. No single diet is appropriate for everyone. Just remember to eat whole, natural foods, drink plenty of water and get regular moderate exercise so you can burn more calories than you consume.

Friday, May 26, 2017

A Men's guide to Dating and Relationships with Women


A Men's guide to Dating and Relationships with Women
by Skip Pulley

Part 1
Women don’t know what they want; but they do know what they don’t want – and they know what they need. It sounds too simple to be true, but that is the basis for understanding every single woman you will ever know in your life beginning with your own mother. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no doubt that women are complex. That’s why I am intentionally keeping it simple and down to earth. That’s the first general rule on this topic, “keep it simple”.
For centuries, men have made the mistake of trying to understand women by judging them based on what our idealistic version of what a human female should be - using ourselves as a prime example of human behavior. Not only is that completely mistaken it may also be detrimental to male interpersonal development. You only get one life. If you form any type of concrete opinion at an early age about how a woman should behave, you are unlikely to change that opinion as you get older.
Women outnumber men worldwide. Based on that fact; most men should stand a good chance of finding at least one suitable mate during their life. Unfortunately, almost half of men do not, because they refuse to adapt their adolescent perception of women to the actual reality, which is a pure dualism of mankind. In other words, their being is opposed to their way of being. In other words, women are easy to understand but often difficult to deal with. Men are the opposite, we are difficult to understand but easy to deal with - all the time. We always know what we want but we usually have no idea what we need. There is a reason for that. Simply put, human males are merely the smartest monkey on earth – and ¼ of us are not even that. My friend Angelo Moore once wrote “give a monkey a brain and he will swear he is the center of the universe”. I’ll be dammed if that isn’t exactly what happened. We have to realize that the differences between men and women are not just physical and biological, but also chemical and emotional. Women have instincts and feelings we could never imagine. Even women who have never had children possess nurturing and preservation instincts that we do not. That’s also why since the dawn of time mankind refers to the earth as our Mother; because it is all giving with no expectation of anything in return. It is also why humans personify God as a Man – because after all, as the smartest monkey, men cannot conceive of an all-powerful creator who gives without any thought of taking whatsoever. I’m not naive. I know there are other factors to consider, especially related to human development. Because a man’s sexual organs are on the outside, we are constantly reminded of sex. Although men’s bodies are designed for specific types of physical activity, we are much less adaptive to temperature and environment than women and so forth. Women understand the differences better than we do. Most importantly, they understand how men and women function together in society – because society itself is the great equalizer. What I mean by that is even simpler to understand. Some people live most if not all of their lives without ever being happy; although they have completely convinced themselves that they are. Women are much, much better at this than men. Keep in mind, women know what they need, and they know what they don’t want. That’s a very wide frequency that can make just about any interpersonal relationship work. Men on the other hand have a harder time pretending to be happy because again, we almost never know what we actually need, so we spend most of our lives looking a gift horse in the mouth, eating our cake while having it too and getting the hell out of Dodge.
In some cases it seems not to make a difference, because no matter how much we screw up, there is always going to be a woman out there somewhere who will accept us. This is proof of female complexity and a point of fact to which they do not receive enough credit. Women understand love, commitment and relationships. Men understand food, sex and solitude. No one ever said life was fair. But understanding female behavior is all a matter of understanding wants vs. needs. If you can’t understand it, you had better at least acknowledge it.

Part 2
Women are not genetically predisposed to monogamy. Let me repeat that. Women are not meant by the laws of nature to be monogamous. To understand this you must first realize and accept the simple and undeniable truth that there is no such thing as human nature – only human behavior. Two-thirds of our all the things we do as human beings are reactions to our environment. Only appearance and physical tendencies are hereditary; i.e. I walk, talk and look like my parents, etc. Keep in mind, a human baby is the only mammal that if not picked up and held at the time of birth, will die. That is a reaction to the child’s environment not shared by any other mammal. Another example is that almost 90% of prison inmates were abused as children. We have a continual lifelong reaction (adaptation or not) to our environment. This reaction, combined with a woman’s instinctive chemical or hormonally based understanding of her needs is why women biologically and sometimes unconsciously seek out a new mate when the perception of her current mate is no longer ideal. Let’s simplify it again. During the Stone Age, a woman’s top priority was keeping herself and her children fed, clothed and sheltered. If the man she was with could no longer (or refused to) provide those things, she would instinctively gravitate toward a younger stronger male who could – or was willing to do this. It had nothing to do with feelings or emotion or the fathers biological attachment to the children - it was a purely a reaction to her environment to best suit her needs. The burden then fell on the original male to go out and get more food and make more adequate shelter in order to keep the women and children with him. By bringing a woman food, we as men are demonstrating our ability to remain useful. It’s just that simple. That is also why to this day we take women out to dinner on a first date. We are demonstrating the very same principal on an unconscious level; that we are able to provide for them if necessary.

Keep in mind, self-consciousness in society is the equalizer. That’s the main reason many women deny their needs and fight their instincts. Some women have never in their life had an orgasm. Isn’t that nuts? (No pun intended) I met a woman who had been married 30 years and her husband had never seen her without make-up. Another lady I know was married 40 years and her husband had never seen her naked – and they had 4 children together. I’m not putting her down, 40 years of marriage is unimaginable for me. When I was a teenager, I never even thought I would be alive for 40 years. In his defense, it’s probably for the best that he never got a good look at that naked body. Take it from me, the formerly younger and stronger temporary replacement. I don’t mean to imply that all women are promiscuous or desire multiple partners based solely on their biological instincts, but I do want to illustrate the importance of needs. To be fair, that rationale cuts both ways. Women have learned over the centuries that it’s possible to start a family with what they may think they want while taking their needs for granted. For example, out of the 30 or so SINGLE female friends I have ages 24 to 36, only four do not have children. That is important because if you are a man over the age of 27 and you want to start a family, it will become more and more difficult to find a woman that has not had children. If you think that is a surprising statistic, you probably shouldn’t because it is becoming the norm. Keep in mind, there is also a growing percentage of men who are content to start a new family every few years – all their life. We generally refer to them as “grown boys” rather than men. Sure, I know that sometimes things just don’t work out, but overall there seems to be an underlying expectation of a woman’s needs being met, regardless of circumstances. The irony is; I like the ones with children so much better. They seem to have a sense of sacrifice and humility that the other girls lack. It could be that I am more attracted to the idea of just having a family than I am to actually starting one from scratch. I do want a wife and children of my own someday - but the clock is ticking. At the same time I am reluctant to get into a situation that can be completely destroyed by doing something dumb. Let’s be honest, men do dumb things all the time - for no reason. Families take years to build but only moments to wreck. But I guess that’s all part of the dynamic. Families are - and should be the biggest reason not to do something really dumb. But even with that, sometimes things just don’t work out. Again, the general rule is “keep it simple”. If it’s really over, the question is, did she give up on you, or did you give up on yourself? (If you actually ever have to give up on her, it’s because she is completely bananas and your mom was right about her and you are better off.)

Part 3
Women are vindictive. There are feelings that they will never ever let go of under any circumstance. Women are also typically more critical than men – at least heterosexual men - and they also tend to be more sensitive than men. None of these character traits mesh very well. But again, these are part of the contrasts and contradictions that make women so complex. Once again we need to refer to the general rule of keeping it simple. Here are a few guidelines:
  1. Don’t Argue. It’s pointless. There is nothing that you stand to gain that would offset what you could potentially lose. You can debate, if it’s healthy and on topic but make sure she understands that you are stating your opinion – not an absolute fact.
  2. Don’t ask her if something is wrong unless you are prepared to listen to the entire answer. It may be valid. It may be important, but it’s usually a nonsensical rambling complaint about something you know nothing about. No matter what her response is, my best and only advice is to say two words, “I understand”. If you are really feeling your minerals that day, wait until she’s finished and ask the follow up question “Can I get you anything?”
  3. At the end of the day, no matter what kind of day you’ve had, ask her “How was your day?” Even if you know that all she did was watch television and talk on the phone. At this point, she just needs to talk. You don’t even really have to listen, especially if you offer to get her something. But don’t offer unless you are willing do actually do it.
  4. No matter how much a woman loves you, there are things that she will never tell you. It’s a fact. Don’t take it personally. They are usually the things you don’t want to know. It has nothing to do with being comfortable. Women know that there are things only other women can understand. If it involves you in any way, she will eventually tell you about it.
  5. Personality Reflection and Admirable Self-Denial are your most powerful assets. If you need to be honest, ask her first; “Can I be honest?” Preface your statements with “I love you” (unless you don’t) but never ever, EVER say “I really like you” unless you are on a first date - because she is not going to listen to what comes next, no matter what it is. Especially if it’s followed by the word “But”.
No one can re-discover the wheel when it comes to women. All you can do is use your common sense and try to face reality as often as possible. If you are a total bum or a weirdo and you have a smart, attractive woman, you’re not a player – she’s just into bums and weirdos (you know who you are). If she is way hotter than you – that’s good. You want that. She should be the pretty one in the relationship. Again, humans set themselves apart from other animals (animal males are almost always more attractive; look at a lion, or a peacock) If she’s insecure about something, it’s up to you to provide the security. Answer questions with questions whenever possible, such as “I’m not sure, what do you want for dinner tonight.” If you know you’re right about something but she’s really getting on your nerves about it - let it slide. If you can’t say something positive in a conversation, just ask simple questions. Always keep it simple. It’s about wants, needs, and biological differences. If she’s just plain nuts, let her go. And most importantly, if she doesn’t love you – and she doesn’t need you, no amount of money will keep her. Women are unique in this way. At this point, you may be asking “Why do you think you know so much about women?” That is also simple. Almost all of my friends are women. Most of them have a very high opinion of me. It’s not just because I tell them what they want to hear, it’s because I understand them. And now, so do you.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Midinight Train to Georgia - A Critique of the Russo-Georgian Conflict


The International Georgian Conspiracy
by Skip Pulley

To better understand the lies we are now being told about Russia, North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, China and Cuba, one should more closely examine the 9-day conflict in the summer of 2008 in which the Russians handed the US/UK/Israeli/Turkish-backed puppet-government proxy state of Georgia a complimentary and symbolic ass-whooping. 

There is no actual “free” press in the US, although we are led to believe otherwise. As a result, my research into the Russo-Georgian conflict using global independent media sources has revealed a massive plot by the US and Israel to wage war on Georgian progressives who were being recognized by Russia as “independent” citizens in “open” cities near the Black Sea. This plan was set in motion to coincide with the Olympic Games to divert any skeptical free thinkers who would question the validity of such an “unprovoked” attack. The idea of a conspiracy is not far-fetched; the Georgian Special Forces trained in the US, In addition, “Blackwater” and “Mossad” personnel were reportedly present during the fighting. From the moment Georgia launched a surprise attack on a Russian peacekeeping force in the tiny breakaway region of South Ossetia on August 8, 2008 prompting a fierce Russian counterattack, Israel and the US have been trying to distance themselves from the conflict. This is understandable: with Georgian forces in retreat, large numbers of civilians killed and injured, and Russia's fury unabated, the US and Israel's deep involvement is severely embarrassing. The collapse of the Georgian offensive represents not only a disaster for Georgia and its US-backed leaders, but another blow to the myth of Israel's supposed military invincibility. Worse, Israel fears that Russia could retaliate by stepping up its military assistance to Israel's adversaries, including Iran. So the big question is why the US and Israel have an interest in Georgian politics?

The Baku-T’bilisi-Ceyhan or “BTC” pipeline was built with the intention of carrying oil from the Caspian to the Mediterranean Sea for shipment to the West. The pipeline does not adhere to any formal environmental standards and has been a source of social and political conflicts across Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey for the past 20 years. Financiers (mainly US & Israeli corporations) were criticized for their lack of monitoring the construction of the project, which facilitated a conflict between Russia and Georgia over Chechen rebels sheltering in the Pankisi gorge. Former Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement that Russia had considered sending troops into Georgian territory to flush them out came just before of the official start of construction of the BTC pipeline. In part, Moscow’s saber-rattling could have been interpreted as an attempt to focus global attention on the construction of the pipeline.

Russia has never been particularly enthusiastic about the BTC pipeline, given that a major goal is to ensure that future Caspian crude oil exports come through Russia. There is no doubt however that the Pankisi gorge was a lawless zone, well beyond the control of the Georgian authorities. At the same time, Russia was also growing increasingly irritated at US opposition to their taking action. This was especially offensive considering the US efforts to secure Russian support for military action against Iraq as part of a spurious UN resolution. As Vladamir Putin merely announced the possibility of military action, he also drew an explicit link between the situation in Pankisi and that of so-called Al Qadea to emphasize the US hypocrisy. This an example of traditional US military/political strategy; to simply take that which benefits the US Corporations by force of arms; Mexico, Guam, Cuba, Vietnam, Afghanistan, etc. The Russians above all are aware of this tactic.

As the entire Caucus region tries to recover from the war that erupted over South Ossetia, questions are being asked as to how the conflict started on the night of August 7-8. Everyone agrees that the Georgian army launched an attack at 11.30 pm that night. The key question is to what degree the Georgians were facing a direct threat. The outbreak of full-scale war on August 8 had been preceded by several weeks of skirmishing in South Ossetia. In the first few days of August, many families evacuated their children from Tskhinvali as the fighting intensified. When the first television pictures were shown of Ossetian civilians leaving the area, Georgian officials responded angrily, saying that it was a sign South Ossetia was gearing up for a war. The Ossetians put pressure on the Georgians to return to negotiations under the multi-lateral Joint Control Commission, which includes the Russians but the Georgians said they wanted to have direct talks with the Ossetian side. Several people died in the first days of August. Manana Magradze, now a refugee from Georgian village Nikozi near Tskhinvali, told IWPR, “There wasn’t a single quiet day in August. We would wake up to the sound of explosions or shots.

During the last week of July, Georgian authorities cut off the water supply to Ossetia leaving hundreds of thousands without fresh water or use of sewer facilities. As Russian peacekeepers came in to distribute supplies and first aid, they came under attack by the Georgian military. But international officials said that by the time they were told about the start of hostilities it was already too late to stop them. A Georgian soldier, who took part in the fighting of August 7-8 and did not want to be named, told IWPR that the situation had been boiling over for weeks, but he thought that the Georgian leadership had “not thought for long” about taking the final step. If the Russians did plan to go on the defensive, there are questions as to why US satellites did not pick up Russian troop movements in North Ossetia. In addition, the US administration intentionally sent “mixed messages” to the Georgian government, which were interpreted as a green light for Georgian officials to believe they had American support for their operation.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had accused unnamed US figures of provoking the Georgian conflict to influence their forthcoming presidential election, as Moscow slipped deeper into diplomatic isolation over its recognition of independence for South Ossetia and Abkhazia. China and four of Russia’s closest Central Asian allies refused to endorse the decision to recognize independence for the breakaway State. “It is not just that the American side could not restrain the Georgian leadership from this criminal act. The American side in effect armed and trained the Georgian army,” Mr. Putin said in a television interview. “The suspicion arises that someone in the United States especially created this conflict with the aim of making the situation more tense and creating a competitive advantage for one of the candidates fighting for the US presidency.” Most analysts agreed that a “prolonged international crisis” would favor Republican candidate John McCain over younger Democrat Barak Obama because of McCain’s “experience”. Russian troops still hold positions well inside Georgia, after they crushed Tbilisi's attempt to regain control of South Ossetia. Georgia called the Russian actions an invasion, while Moscow says it was only protecting its citizens, having given most South Ossetians and Abkhaz passports. At least several hundred people were killed and tens of thousands displaced by the fighting. Although NATO has denied massing warships in the Black Sea in response to the conflict, Russians claim that 18 of its vessels were in the region or on the way there.

I think it is very difficult to know with any certainty what happened exactly, but we can draw inferences from the results. According to the South Ossetian Interior Ministry, on August 7 Georgia started ground fire and shelling of the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali from the village of Nikozi. Then, according to Tskhinvali, the shelling and shooting at the South Ossetian village of Khetagurovo started from the Georgian village of Avnevi. About 10 people were killed and another 50 received various wounds. The Georgian media, however, reported that the South Ossetian side had been shelling the Georgian villages of Avnevi and Nuli for three hours. According to the information of the Joint Peacekeeping Forces in the conflict zone, it was the Georgian side that started firing first. Also, there were verified reports that Russian peacekeepers were fired on. On August 8 Georgia started military operations in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone. This blatant attempt to vilify the Russian community was part of a bigger conspiracy to promote unrest in the region to boost oil profits for the Financiers of the BTC pipeline and to provide an excuse for military intervention by NATO, very similar to that which occurred in Bosnia. 

For additional information on this unsuccessful US-sponsored coup d'état, follow this link:


Skip Pulley
Editor in Chief 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Godfather - On the Edge of an Era



The Godfather: On the Edge of an Era
A revisionist critique of Mario Puzo's book and the resulting film directed by Frank Coppola
by Skip Pulley
[citations in brackets] 
 

It's Spring TV movie season again, so undoubtedly there will be weekend movie marathons of critically-acclaimed modern American film classics. Among them, the seminal neo-noir portrait of a family in the midst of continual and existential ebb and flow of American dreams as well as American nightmares.

Mario Puzo’s best selling novel the Godfather became a stunning success in the wake of America’s renewed fascination with crime drama during the late 1960’s. The popularity of that type of fiction was significant in that era as a means of escaping larger social issues projected in mainstream media, such as civil unrest and political turmoil. The book depicted classic characters in a classic literary style similar to that of pre-WWII literary fiction in that there was a hero, however ambiguous, a clearly defined villain and a set of identifiable circumstances that made the outcome of the story uncertain. The film based on the novel however, directed by Francis Ford Coppola ushered in a brand new age of cinematic style. In both comparison and contrast to the book it marked the beginning of a new kind of filmmaking, presenting classic literary characters and traditional storylines in a contemporary context. 
 
The story of the Godfather is that of a post WWII Italian family in a generational saga of morality, survival, social-political economics and assimilation into American society. The concept of the classic stereotypical “mafia” family is revisited with a degree of reverence, old world charm and mystique that is essential to the appeal. [Coppola] The term “mafia” is actually an acronym, made up of the first letters of the surnames of the five families who formed an organization called the Cosa Nostra. [Puzo 1]
 
In reading the book and watching the film, they have many obvious similarities. For instance, the time period of the late 1940’s and the overall dark subject-matter are both depicted in the same style. The cultural enlightenment and/or culture shock, the reflection of a changing society and the importance of a system of values are also similarly represented. There are also differences. Some of the character depth is more apparent in the film. The character or Michael, played by Al Pacino in the film comes across as having many complex sides to his personality. In the book he is more of an evolving creature of necessity and a survivalist. Near the beginning of the story, there is an episode that occurs in the bedroom of a wealthy and powerful Hollywood producer, a character named “Woltz”, in which his prized one-half million dollar racehorse has been decapitated and the head placed in the same bed with him. [Puzo 1] The now famous scene from the movie differs slightly due to the interpretation of the director. In the book, the horse’s head is directly in front of Woltz as he wakes up to the sensation of warm animal blood on his skin. In the film, the suspense is built up by having Woltz uncover blood-soaked bedding to reveal the horses head lying at the foot of the bed. [Coppola]

The overall comparison appears to highlight the similarities between the author of the book and the director of the film. Mario Puzo, author of the book and Francis Ford Coppola, director of the film came from similar ethnic Italian backgrounds in similar circumstances. Although they were both working in the industry they were technically at opposite ends of the professional spectrum, Coppola being new to film and Puzo being a relatively experienced novelist, yet they were able to unite under ideal conditions. Puzo was encouraged by his publisher to sell the rights to the book to Paramount Pictures. The young director Coppola was brought on board to direct because of his familiarity with the subject and his academy award winning screenplay for the movie Patton.

The irony is, had the book become more successful prior to the decision to make the film, Coppola probably would not have been hired as the director due to inexperience and Puzo would not have been eager to sell the rights to the novel in July, 1968. [Puzo 2]
The book is written as an epic in dramatic literary style, modeled upon or imitating the style or thought of ancient Greece and Rome. For example the 17th and 18th century novelists were obsessed with classic ideals. An epic is pertaining to a long poetic composition, usually centered upon a hero, in which a series of great achievements or events is narrated in elevated style. In contrast, the film immediately departs from the standard formula of presenting classic characters in a typical grand “Hollywood” manner. Actors such as Al Pacino, John Cazale, James Caan, Diane Keaton and Robert Duval who were cast in most of the leading roles were relatively unknown at that time. With the addition of Hollywood wildcard Marlon Brando, the film was one of the first of its kind to stray from the proven formula of casting big name celebrities to insure box-office success. [A decade under the influence] There is also a similarity between the intended markets of both the book and film. The book is set in New York City. The types of readers who identify with the setting either belong to a similar environment or are attracted to the dramatization which may represent a foreign culture and atmosphere, thereby engaging some type of fantasy. Likewise, the film was shot on location almost entirely in and around New York City. The cast is a reflection of a movie-going public who are less preoccupied with seeing big Hollywood stars in leading roles than they were with being fascinated by talented performers who capture the essence of the book.

At the time the book was published, the early 1970’s, Americans had been going through a transformation of what was seen as normal in society for almost a decade. No period in recent U.S. history stands in greater contrast to the present, or seems to have held more possibilities for radical transformation, than the sixties. [Echols] The Indochina wars and the struggle for civil rights cast a long shadow over world affairs.  Their legacy for the United States was substantial, interacting in complex ways with internal developments in American society. A feeling of general disillusionment was echoed by the entertainment media. The book’s portrayal of graphic violence, although written in a classic format and context was a departure from previous crime genre novels that dehumanized the characters and ignored the social elements of organized crime. Likewise, the film was brutal in its’ visual imagery of violence and the emotional impact of death and betrayal. Thanks in part to the new filmmaking style of young directors, the film was able to capture and translate both the horror of a violent culture and the importance of values in an ethnic community, regardless of whether it is stereotypical or not. [A decade under the influence]

The reasons behind the publication of the book and production of the film were financial, but not completely the same. The book publishers wanted to take advantage of a decline in traditional values held by many ethnic societies in the wake of the drug culture and corrupt political idealism. [Echols] The raw factually based theme of the book would set it apart. Prior novels involving organized crime were based more on an outside view of the culture, depicting main characters as either good or bad guys representing nameless groups motivated by righteousness or evil. [Puzo 2] The film was also financially motivated, but for different reasons. Films that are based on published works of literature are generally regarded as a good investment. In addition, during late 60’s era of filmmaking, the big blockbuster films were a drain on the studio’s resources and often times a box-office disappointment. [A Decade under the influence] A film of this nature however, could be made inexpensively and already had a degree of familiarity with a certain audience because of its connection with the book.

The argument about which of the pop culture giants, the book or the film, is actually better must be completely subjective. In my opinion, readers who enjoy stories told in a traditional manner with an element of ambiguity will prefer the book. Moviegoers who prefer an edgier more raw form of storytelling will prefer the film. I enjoy them both equally but not in the same way. I feel that the novels style is its most interesting quality from a literary point of view whereas the films substance is most interesting to a movie enthusiast. What they share is a consistency of theme; the unknown actors, the ambiguous nature of the main characters, the ethnic symbolism, the classic yet cutting-edge style and the influence on novelists, screenwriters, directors, actors and producers. Both the book and the film had an incredible impact on not only pop culture, but also the way media would be produced and received from that time forward.

Skip Pulley
Editor in Chief


Works Cited

Puzo, Mario The Godfather. New York: GP Putnam & Sons, 1969
The Godfather Papers. New York: GP Putnam & Sons, 1972
Coppola, Francis Ford, Dir. The Godfather. 1972. Paramount Pictures.

Echols, Alice “We Gotta’ Get Out of This Place”: Notes toward a Remapping of the Sixties. 

Cultural Politics and Social Movements Ed. Marcy Darnovsky, Barbara Epstein and Richard Flacks. Ambler, PA: Temple University Press, 1995

A Decade Under the Influence, The 70’s films that changed everything. Dir. Richard LaGravenese and Ted Demme. DVD. DocuRama, 2003.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Restaurante Cantina Review - A Piece of Havana

Located in the Steele Creek area of Charlotte, NC A Piece of Havana advertised as being authentic Cuban cuisine, so I joined a friend and visited them for dinner. Their very informative website, http://www.apieceofhavana.com describes their cuisine as Cuban, Spanish and Latin, which swings a pretty wide lasso, so I wanted to sample the fair and soak up the ambiance.
The first thing that I was impressed by is the daily specials. In my opinion, that is never a bad idea, especially on drinks. They had a decent bar selection and their mojito came highly recommended. I love Cuban sandwiches, so I couldn’t wait to try the “Milanese”, a breaded beef steak or chicken breast, with lettuce, tomatoes, ham and cheese in Cuban bread. They use American cheese in the sandwich and when I tried to order it with Swiss (my twist) the server looked confused and slightly hesitated, so I just let it ride with the American cheese as-is. My friend ordered the homemade chips and guacamole and it was really good. My sandwich was good, it came with a side and they featured a good bottled beer special that night. We also got a mojito and it was as good as word of mouth suggested.

A Piece of Havana Restaurant was created by a Cuban Family in Charlotte to celebrate their cultural heritage and their family Cooking tradition. One of the owners of the restaurant, Juan Plasencia has a love of cooking from his mother, who is a graduated Chef in Havana, Cuba. His dream of bringing those authentic Cuban dishes to Charlotte has now been realized.

The Menu appetizers include Papa Rellena (Stuffed Potato with ground beef), Empanadas and Tostones Rellenos de Camarones. Entrees include such specialties as Arroz con Pollo, Bistec de Palomilla, the very popular Paella from Spain (a seafood mix with Saffron yellow seasoned rice cooked with beer) and ropa vieja (Shredded Beef) a traditional Cuban dish. They have a decent selection of wines, Latin-American cocktails, domestic and imported beers as well as their famous Mojitos. They also have Cuban style sangrias by the glass and by the pitcher.

hipporeads.com
Bakalao Live at A Piece of Havana.
The design of the dining room is a recreation of the early 1900’s in Havana, Cuba. It does create a warm and cozy feel. The chandeliers make it sort of dimly lit and romantic. There is a lot of Cuban art on the walls and they play Cuban music for background ambiance through the week, with live music and DJ’s on the weekends. This seems like the type of place my man Ernie Hemingway would have visited in La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana to get loaded on Mojitos and Daiquiris, then fall into a hammock and scrimshaw a few classics. Ah yes, Big “Ern” was a wild boy. No doubt.
  
A Piece of Havana
11126 South Tryon Street
Charlotte, NC 28273
Phone: 704.588.7883

A Piece of Havana features live music every Friday and Saturday from 7PM to 10PM.
Fridays are “Havana Nights” with a DJ spinning International music. 

Skip Pulley
Editor in Chief 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Sushi Review - The Basil Leaf

The Basil Leaf: Thai and Sushi Restaurant
690 St. George Square Court
Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27103
(336) 283-9133
http://lovethaibasil.com


I heard about this place from a friend and I felt that either Thai or Sushi would hit the spot. When I arrived with my friends at lunchtime on a Friday, the first thing I noticed was a sign on the door stating that there was “No Sushi on Mondays”. I wasn’t sure if the sushi chef took Mondays off or it was just some type of Monday protest in general. But it was the weekend, so we were good to go either way. The layout and décor was modern contemporary and very clean and inviting. We ordered soups and salads as appetizers then a full range of sushi in the form of maki rolls and sashimi. The spicy salmon and tuna rolls were pretty good and everything else was a knockout. They did a good job on the Soundboy Roll (Philly salmon tempura) and the Boston Roll and Spider Roll were both great. My number one suggestion there is the “T” Roll; Spicy tuna, crab stick and avocado tempura topped with seaweed salad with spicy and sweet sauce. I will definitely order that on a return visit.

The Basil Leaf opened in June 2011 with the goal of serving fresh and healthy food. Their aim is to bring the balance of four fundamental tastes together in each dish (sweet, sour, salty and spicy). They are family owned and opening the restaurant has brought the family closer together. It is a welcome and creative addition to the community and a new experience in Thai cuisine and Sushi for Winston Salem. My only critique is that the lunch menu is a little overpriced, but they do provide a really enjoyable dining atmosphere and the service is great. In the evening, expect a crowd and wear something nice. 
The beverage menu is fair and the atmosphere is cool. 
Overall I recommend the Basil Leaf for both Thai Cuisine and Sushi.

Skip Pulley - Editor

Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Brief Focus on North Carolina Writers and Poets

North Carolina claims some of the greatest authors of the 20th century and enjoys a reputation as an inspiring and nurturing home for writers both young and old. The late Poet Carl Sandburg spent the last 22 years of his life in North Carolina and those years were among his most productive. His home in Flat Rock, NC is now a national historic site. As a condition of the designation, Sandburg’s widow made a stipulation that the rooms and furnishings be kept exactly as they were at the time of his death, so that visitors to the home will feel as if the family “just stepped out for a while”. For more information, visit http://www.nps.gov


"A baby is God's opinion that life should go on" - Carl Sandburg

Two publications, Literary Trails of the North Carolina Mountains and Literary Trails of the North Carolina Piedmont, both written by Georgann Eubanks and published by the N.C. Arts Council in conjunction with UNC Press, describe 18 tours of sites that various North Carolina authors have explored in their fiction, poetry, plays and creative nonfiction. The two books contain works from nearly 400 writers and include excerpts that illustrate the authors’ connections to specific places and local culture. North Carolina honored the literary arts with the creation of the office of State Poet Laureate in 1935. Former NC poet laureate, Tryon NC resident Cathy Smith Bowers, (2010-2012) in conjunction with the North Carolina Center for the Book, the Greensboro Public Library and the N.C. Arts Council has created an online poetry toolkit featuring poetry program success stories from librarians, poetry lesson plans for teachers, writing tips and poems. The goal is to provide inspiration and instruction to teachers as well as to writers and readers of poetry. 
Click here to view the NC Poetry Toolkit


Author Hinton Rowan Helper, born December 27, 1829, near Mocksville, North Carolina. In 1857 he published The Impending Crisis of the South: How to Meet It Which was was credited with helping to elect Abraham Lincoln. The book was banned in North Carolina and across the South because of its inflammatory nature.  Helper referred to slaveholders as “more criminal than common murderers,” who “deserve to be at once reduced to a parallel with the basest criminals that lie fettered within the cells of our public prisons.”   At another point, Helper said he hoped to see reason prevail to end slavery, but if not then slaves “would, in nine cases out of ten, be delighted with an opportunity to cut their masters’ throats.”
 
Hinton Rowan Helper wrote a book in 1857
that challenged the practice of slavery
and predicted slaves uprising against their masters.
The book was so controversial that he was forced
to leave the state of North Carolina.

 I have lived in North Carolina over half my life and it has been a huge influence – both positively and negatively - on my literary career. My first Documentary, Freedom vs. Liberty, Life in the Old North State was filmed here in 2005. My first spoken word album, Infusion was recorded here in NC back in 2004. It was based on my book of poetry called The Glint of Bayonets Which drew heavily on NC novelists as well as existential philosophy. This philosophic influence culminated in the publishing of my semi-autobiographical narrative monologues entitled Always Never Forever. To read more about the ANF project please visit http://alwaysneverforever.com. To listen to tracks from my spoken word album, visit my profile http://myspace.com/skippulley

Inside photo from the glint of bayonets by Skip Pulley


To learn more about our state’s literary heritage and for countless opportunities to experience the work of writers and poets in person or online at the literary resources of the North Carolina Humanities Council at http://nchumanities.org/content/literary-resources



Skip Pulley
Editor in Chief 
Catharsis Magazine