Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dan Brown thrills Da Vinci Code formula in The Lost Symbol

After six years of waiting, Dan Brown certainly doesn't disappoint with his latest Robert Langdon adventure, The Lost Symbol. This time around, Mr. Langdon finds himself involved in a whirlwind of Masonic symbols, rituals, conspiracies, legends, etc., all within one of the greatest Masonic monuments in the world, which also happens to serve as the capital of the U.S., Washington, D.C., turning what might be construed as a beautiful, yet ordinary capital city (at least to a lot of americans accustomed to seeing it often) into a sprawling temple dedicated to the elevation of men and women to their maximum spiritual potential.

Though often criticized by his peers for the low quality of his writing, or for the inaccuracies of his facts by detractors against the theories and ideas his novels portray, eighty million readers of The Da Vinci Code have given their approval to Dan Brown's style and capacity to weave an interesting story. If nothing else, Dan Brown can bring complex philosophical ideas, throw them together in a highly entertaining way, and create a thriller that is accessible to the masses, yet intriguing enough for the knowledgeable. He has a way of stimulating learning and the exploration of subjects that are often unknown or inaccessible to the majority of the populace. He entertains and informs in the most spectacular and thrilling of ways, with twists and turns that will both shock and delight while simultaneously moving readers to explore the subject matter, locations and overall details presented throughout the story. Let's just say that you'll be immediately searching for Noetic science upon finishing this wonderfully fun story.

The Lost Symbol is not high art, but it's not supposed to be. It's a highly entertaining page turner, an engrossing thriller that will keep you glued to it from cover to cover. When it seems it might be predictable (and truthfully, I must say that it doesn't stray too far from his previously established formula from The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons), it changes, it surprises, it shocks, making it a worthwhile read and a welcome addition to Robert Langdon's collection of adventures. The story accelerates at a dizzying pace all the way to its revealing end (Sorry, that's about it. You'll find no spoilers here), and as in his other books, his research and references make you want to seek out more information about the subjects presented. There are many wonders in Washington, D.C., as it has always been an intriguing and fascinating city, but after reading The Lost Symbol, you'll certainly want to look at it again, but through the new eyes that Brown has given you. Like the cities presented in his previous books, a new world is revealed beneath the simple tourist attractions we've all come to think we know so well. The U.S. capital has never looked this mystifying. and it's all been there all along for the world to see.

Article continues below the following preview for my latest photography book, Franco Esteve's Devils Within. Buy it Today!

Article continues here...

In essence, Dan Brown has written yet another easy to read, highly intriguing, hugely fascinating, and absolutely engaging thriller. If you are looking for something interesting and entertaining to read, The Lost Symbol will certainly not disappoint (Da Vinci Code fans will most certainly be satisfied), but if you're looking to read Shakespeare, you're better off reading the master himself. The Lost Symbol, like The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons before it, follows along the line of the fast moving thriller novel, but also pushes it beyond with its mesmerizing, real world details and complex and mysterious subject matter. I for one thoroughly enjoyed it, and highly recommend it.

Enjoy! :)

Related links:

Dan Brown: The Official Website of Author Dan Brown.
Washington D.C.: This link takes you to a reader's guide to Washington D.C. from Dan Brown's official site.
The Lost Symbol (U.S. Version): Amazon's The Lost Symbol product page where you can buy the book.
The Lost Symbol (UK Version): The Lost Symbol product page on Amazon UK where you can buy the book.
Criticism: a Telegraph news article about Dan Brown's 20 worst sentences and other criticisms.
Freemasonry: Wikipedia article on Freemasonry.
Noetic Science: Institute of Noetic Sciences website.

Keywords: Dan Brown, The Lost Symbol, The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, Freemasonry, Masons, Rosicrucian, Rose Croix, Symbology, Novel, Book, Review, Thriller, Formula, Story, Washington, D.C., Freemason, Noetic Science
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Saturday, August 01, 2009

People's Choice Voting Open for Natural Raw

My recently released photography book, Natural Raw is a candidate for Blurb's Photography.Book.Now competition. If you haven't done so already, go see the book preview, and don't forget to click on that big VOTE button, as the voting for the People's Choice Award is currently open. Go now, tell your friends. Tell everyone you know to go vote for the book. You have until August 20th.

Thanks to everyone in advance and thanks to all those who have already voted or who have purchased the book. The response has been fantastic, and I am really flattered by the wonderful comments and e-mails I've received from all of you. You never know what kind of response you're going to get when you develop any artistic endeavor, but I've been overjoyed with how much everyone has enjoyed both the preview and the book itself. Thank you.

If you haven't seen it yet, go see it. If you haven't voted yet, go vote. If you haven't bought it yet, go buy it! It's a huge, coffee table book I think you're going to love to show to everyone. :) Thanks again.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Natural Raw is finally available!

For those of you who've known of my photography projects and work, or who have simply seen some of my photos on Flickr, you can finally get some of it in book form. Natural Raw is finally available on

Natural Raw is my second photography book, but the first available to the general public. It represents a vision of nature that includes its raw forms and expressions as well as the occasional crude, human contribution. Some of these are dramatic and can even be cruel and violent, and yet, others express a peaceful beauty like no other.

This book attempts to express this raw vision, both through its impactful images and through its accompanying written expressions. It attempts to evoke unexpected feelings and thoughts in the viewer, both contrary and predictable. It is my hope that you will enjoy my varying visions, the ethereal brightness, the daze-inducing, happy and flowery views, the dark void within his visions of smoke, the raw crudeness of consumption, and the dreamy nature of colorblind.

I hope you enjoy it. It's currently available in a huge 12 inch X 12 inch format and in high quality premium paper. You can get it here.

You can also get it in a super economical ebook format through Apple's iTunes iBooks store here.
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Monday, January 05, 2009

Guy Code or Why Women Will Never Rule the World

For years I’ve sat through the trials and tribulations of many a girlfriend, patiently listening to their tales of sex, abuse, and betrayal. The stories included their girlfriends, their boyfriend, their significant others, their colleagues, etc. Often the conclusion and solution were the same as it would be for anyone, but more often than not, in their case, there seemed to be a greater reason, a reason that supersedes all others. A reason that with every story became clearer and clearer. THE reason as to why women don’t rule the world today.

Women certainly have the advantage. Men lose capacity when blood rushes to the lower organ. Their capacity to think, to reason, to many a thing is greatly diminished until release. Men are highly aware, both at a conscious and unconscious level, of this great weakness and the advantage it provides to women. It is men who have the penis envy, and they know it. This is why they have taken great precautions in making sure that their limitations don’t become liabilities, and in fact, have used those same limitations to their advantage in turning the tide of power in their favor.

Despite being emotionally stronger and having a greater tolerance to pain and suffering, women don’t rule. Despite wielding true power, the power of sex, the power of procreation, of education, of control, women don’t rule. Why don’t they rule? Why, with all this power and ability, can’t they rule? What happened to all that girl power? Women’s solidarity? Understanding? Unity?

The unfortunate reality is that despite all this talk about unity, there is none. Despite all this solidarity, it ends at the stealing of the boyfriend, at the backstabbing, at the selfishness, at the lack of code, because in the end, only men, chivalrous knights amongst themselves, have and follow a true, unspoken CODE.

Guy’s are one and all, women are one and none

There’s an old joke, which you may or may not have read (It’s recently been doing the rounds on the internet again.). It goes like this:

–A man’s wife didn’t come home one night and the next day she told him she had slept at a friend’s house. The man called her ten best friends and none of them knew about it.
–A woman’s husband didn’t come home one night and the next day he told her he had slept at a friend’s house. The woman called his ten best friends and eight of them confirmed that he had slept over while two claimed that he was still there.

What this joke illustrates is how men truly cover for and take care of each other while most women simply do not. You may or may not have heard men referring to something called “Guy Code” which is a set of rules and guidelines that men tend to follow. They have even been accurately portrayed a number of times in many a book and movie. Two recent film references are:

1. In the movie Old School, during the kid’s birthday party, Luke Wilson’s love interest brings her boyfriend, whom he subsequently catches in the bathroom making out with one of the waitresses. The boyfriend directly references guy code saying that to tell on him is what “chicks do.” Luke Wilson follows this code and holds back from saying anything until he himself is blamed for said crime, releasing him from the obligation.

2. In the movie A Guy Thing, Jason Lee slept with a waitress at his bachelor party and told his fiancee, who found said waitress’ underwear hidden in his toilet’s water tank, that the underwear she found was a gift he was hiding for her birthday. She saw that it was used and proceeded to call the store Jason Lee had claimed to have bought it at. The man who picked up the phone at the shop covered for him, going so far as to even get angry about people putting them back used in the bargain bins and telling her she could return it. When the clerk hangs up, he turns to a lady in line and says, “It’s a guy thing.”

These are just two moments to illustrate what “Guy Code” is. It is the unspoken guide book, rules men follow and understand innately. It’s normally only mentioned or spoken of when a man has violated it or is approaching a violation or is attempting to violate it. It is extremely important for men in general to adhere to this set of rules. It keeps them united and in power. In fact, when a guy breaks “Guy Code,” he will be banned, seen as untrustworthy by other men. That guy will be cast out in some way or another. He won’t be seen the same way again by others who know of his transgression.

Women on the other hand, have a tendency to look after themselves, betraying their best friend if necessary. I’ve seen stolen boyfriends, career advancements, positions, projects, etc. They’ve done this to people they call friends and even best friends. Sadly, this does not help their cause. You’d think that considering their situation of having to live in a man’s world and within a man’s set of rules and limitations, that they would rally to help each other and change the rules in order to gain the equality, respect and power they seem to crave. Unfortunately, I’ve continued to witness the opposite, women bending over for men (even when they’re beating the shit out of them) and betraying their own to gain a man’s favor or their own. This keeps them forever untrustworthy to each other as they follow no code.

You may of course be saying, “Hey! But I’m not like that,” or “not all women are like that,” and you would be right. The exceptions obviously shine above the rule, but seem few and far between in the overall scheme of things. Women, as a group, need to develop something similar to “guy code” and get their shit together in this respect. In the end, they’ll even find allies amongst men and truly reach the equality they seek.

Women’s Worship of their Captor

I was walking down the street and I noticed someone coming towards me in some priest-like, church looking outfit, when I suddenly realized it was a woman in a burqa. It got me thinking that here’s another reason why women will never rule the world: Religion.

Religion is one of men’s greatest tools for keeping women at bay. To begin with, like many things, it’s ruled by men. Second, it promotes the divine thought that women are either less than men or should serve a man, be that man a god, prophet, or worshiper of such god or prophet. They are designed to promote fear and to control man’s own fear of the true power of women by being proactively on the offensive.

Obviously, if you look at the teachings of Jesus or other prophets, it’s not quite the same as what organized religion promotes, so let’s stick to how men have organized themselves into power.

Exhibit A: Catholicism (and other Christian musings)

Catholics claim to follow the new testament and the teachings of Jesus yet continue to be obsessed with the Old Testament, the Ten Commandments and like other controversial big bang groups, the ever fan favorite Genesis, the idea being to keep the focus on women’s ability to corrupt men’s minds. It was a woman who tempted Adam and therefore caused their having to leave paradise. Original sin exists thanks to a woman. Jesus, God’s son and part of their holy trinity (read: God made man) was of course, a man, and therefore, the worship centers around one. Not only are women in many ways promoted as evil creatures that exist simply for procreation purposes, but they aren’t even allowed to participate as equals in anything having to do with church power (read: NO priestesses).

Ironically, it’s often women who are the most devout members of the congregation. They have been brainwashed to not only accept these ideas, but in fact promote them. Other factions of so called Christianity, have taken these even further, dictating what women can and cannot wear, how they can act, what they can and can’t do, and how they should bow and serve their man (read: Men). Of course, if they actually read their own book, they’d see that Jesus actually worshipped women and saw them as equals, but hey, maybe that’s just my own interpretation of it. I’ll be opening my own brand of Christianity next week, at a church near you.

Exhibit B: Islam (particularly those with a more fundamentalist tilt)

Recalling the muslim woman that prompted this part of the article, and keeping with the reasoning of this particular section, it would stand to reason that the islamic group to which that poor woman belongs to have taken it even further by simply hiding women. Of course, this is a religion also ruled by men, except they seem to be more open about the ideas of what, where, how and when women should do this or that. In some cases women are objects of property, worth next to nothing. Even their offspring belongs exclusively to the man. They are seen as too tempting to be even looked at except by a parent, sibling, child or husband.

This is the great fear of women taken to an extreme, covering them up from head to toe with only eyes free to see where they’re going (unless they’re wearing the full beekeeper version in which case even their eyes are covered). A woman’s face is temptation enough for it to be left unchecked and uncovered. Sure enough, it’s true that not every islamic group reaches this extreme (and as in everything there are plenty of exceptions), but they include some elements of it in one way or another. Again, the prophet (a figure of peace, love, and service to God) may have said differently (both men and women should dress modestly in public) but this is the reality, and as with most religions, it is often women themselves who continue to promote this view and inculcate it into their children’s brains.

Exhibit C: Everything else

There are many other religions in the world, and though there are a few that promote a woman’s power or view them as true equals (very few and with but a small group of followers in comparison), most of them tend to keep women down, and make sure that men remain the dominant sex at all times. The saddest thing remains in that women themselves tend to be the most devout of all practitioners and continue to promote this self deprecating view generation after generation. Of course, they speak of solidarity, understanding, and tolerance of their particular religion and culture, but with it they promote tolerance of intolerance and do even greater damage to themselves.

The Great Educator

Saddest of all in looking at this is that it’s women themselves who continue to submit themselves to this inequality and inferiority. In the end, the greatest betrayal of women is towards women, for it’s women who wield the power of change. Should women actually use this power, the world would be in their hands within a single generation.

Women are the Great Educator. They are the ones who have the greatest direct influence upon their children. They are the ones who indoctrinate their kids, both male and female, with this twisted and even slightly misogynistic view. The men hate the women and the women hate themselves.

How many times have we heard a mother say to a boy, “Don’t cry! Women cry! Not boys! Boys don’t cry!” How many times have we heard, “It’s not the same. Your brother is a man, whereas you’re a girl.” “Men can do that.” “It’s ok ‘cause he’s a man.” “Girls shouldn’t do that.” “She looks disgusting doing that.” “She looks like a man.” “It’s terrible for a girl to do that.” “She’s a whore.” “Slut.” Etc. These are just some of the nicer things I’ve heard even young mothers say to their children. These are the ideas those children will have in their heads. They are the ideas they will promote with their thoughts and actions, women’s inferiority ingrained from birth.

The Great Educator has pushed the twisted values of old, the twisted view of religion, the twisted view of themselves, to their own detriment. Feminists can say whatever they want, but even feminists have continued to promote the old archetypes through their Great Educator role, sad as that may be.

A Final Word

I know I’ve focused on the rule and not the exceptions but the exceptions do not rule. So, get it together women. The world is changing fast and the opportunities are better than ever for you to achieve the ever-elusive equality that you long for and that many women before you have fought and suffered for. So go get it, and make sure your children follow in that new line of thought.

You’re not a bitch for being successful. You’re not a slut for having slept with a few men. You’re also not less for having a child or a family. You’re a person, regardless of your marital status. Get it together with honesty, honor, respect, and code, and you will have it all. It’s up to you.

So what do you think? Will women continue to sabotage themselves? Will the fact that more women are educating themselves trump men? My arguments (though at times expressed in a humorous manner) are but a testament to what I’ve seen and continue to see in society through the media, through contact with people, families, men and women. Has yours been a similar experience?

***Author’s note in regards to religion***: The author means no disrespect to any religion through his humorous analysis of the position of women in certain religions of the world. The author respects all religions and everyone’s right to believe and practice their faith as long as it does not result in the detriment of another human being, be it a man, woman, or child. So say we all.

Keywords: women, girl power, feminism, feminist, misogyny, men, male, power, religion, catholic, devout, islam, veil, burqa, educator, great educator, female, guy code, guys, betrayal, code, A guy thing, Old School, repressed, abuse

No men were injured during the writing of this article. Photos and words are copyright©2008 by bFranco. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited.

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