Wednesday, December 30, 2020


For the record, I've never been brainwashed.  Or at least I assume I haven't been brainwashed.  Or let me put it this way.  Up until now I've always assumed I never have been brainwashed.  

I realize the term is a loaded one, and conjurers up images of Frank Sinatra and Laurence Harvey waiting for Angela Lansbury to play the Queen of Diamonds.  That sort of brainwashing that we always associated with radical totalitarian states, communist regimes, and Nazi reigns of terror.  Or, for my generation, the evil Big Brother government in the good old US of A during the Reagan years. 

Nonetheless, I don't think it has to be that sort of Hollywood type of shenanigan to rate as brainwashing, if you think about it.  Perhaps brainwashing is a little more subtle than just being trained to become a mindless monkey who picks up a pistol and shoots an innocent carton of milk with a politician behind it. Maybe, just maybe, it can be more clever, more slick and almost unrecognizable even as you recognize it.

I thought of that as my wife and I continue our little skip through 80s nostalgia courtesy of the Magnum P.I set our boys got us for our birthdays.  We were watching the show and laughing and musing on how things were and how they changed.  Some of it was obviously the radical social justice movement we see scourging our nation today that has brought about the changes.  But something else caught my attention as we compared life c. 1980 and life today.

As we watched the show, we noticed no end of scenes that took part around the beach, or were centered around sporting events (to display the prodigious athleticism of the stars), or in various gatherings that demonstrated the cultural trappings of the illustrious estate in which T. Magnum lived.  When we saw those, we quipped 'they're not social distancing!' or pointed out 'hey, they're not wearing masks!'  Sometimes we would see a fight scene and comment 'that's not a safe distance!'  Of course it was all joking. It was all in good fun.  But I notice something.

Each time we see things like that, and it hasn't just been with Magnum P.I. DVDs, we say the same thing.  If we don't say it, we think it.  I know I do.  I almost instinctively see some old movie or show and say to myself 'not social distancing!'  It's funny.  And yet, it's there.  I can barely watch or see anything that this doesn't come to my mind.  An old sitcom, some epic from the 1950s, even The Empire Strikes Back.  We watched that in tribute to the Star Wars actors who passed this year and my sons wondered how they could social distance on the Millennium Falcon.  

After all, we hear 'Covid' at least five hundred times a day.  On the news we'll hear references to the pandemic at every turn.  Whatever the story, Covid is injected into the segment.  If it's a kid's play in school, the distancing will be mentioned due to Covid.  If a sporting event, Covid.  If a political story, Covid.  If the weather or traffic is mentioned, somehow the pandemic is slipped into the discussion. Probably half to two thirds of every newscast is about Covid, sometimes with heartbreaking (and scary) stories about the toll it has taken on its victims.

And it's not just the news.  At the grocery store, every ten minutes or so there is a special announcement reminding us to help fight Covid.  I hear it on the radio.  I see it on signs driving.  They have commercials that are minute long scare stories, warning of Covid and the need to do all that we're told to do to combat the virus. It's everywhere. 

So I thought about that.  I thought about the fact that almost any time we see a gathering, on the news, in sports, driving down the street, or in old movies, our reaction is the same.  And it's not just the family.  Others have said the same thing. Friends my wife works with have noticed the same tendency.  I've also seen individuals on the Internet comment about having the same reactions.  We just see a crowd, even in an old painting or a photo from a hundred years ago, and we automatically think 'Ah, there you go, no social distancing; no masks!' It's all in fun.  Right? 

Or, could it be brainwashing?

Sunday, December 27, 2020


They say we all make an impact on people whose lives we enter and leave; we all leave legacies with those whose paths we cross.  Far be it from me to challenge traditional wisdom.  Besides, I think it's true.  For instance: 

I'm glad to see at least one thing I had to offer has remained in Mr. Shea's collective memory.  He may not remember it was me, but it was.  Shortly after I began following his blog, I - who still remembered the Star Wars Holiday Special with horror - emailed him a link to the Special on Youtube right around November.  He responded that he had forgotten all about that - which was good news for him!

He then posted the link on his blog under the humorous intro 'From the decade that taste forgot.'  I can't remember if he attributed it to me, or even a generic reader.  But when I met him at EWTN studios a year or so later, I went up to him and introduced myself as 'the guy who sent you the Star Wars Holiday Special link.'  He immediately knew who I was with that intro, and we had a rather pleasant visit.  

Since then, of course, one of us has gone off the rails. Who did so depends on who you speak to.  By early this year, I gave his new blog a chance, but felt the only thing about it was that it was worse than his old blog, if that was possible.  With the exception of a few who still link to his Twitter or similar Facebook posts, and who sometimes email me or others an image, I never go near Mark's online postings.  I have to admit, the sun shines the brighter for it.

But it's nice to see that something I sent him continues to bring a little levity to him and his followers each year, no matter what they stand for.  It almost seems to be a yearly tradition. I doubt he remembers now who first sent him that.  For that matter, I doubt he remembers I'm the one who introduced him to Sam Harris's works.  But I did.  That's probably how it is.  When we impact others, or they impact us, we may not know it or remember it, but that's how it happens in this world.  

Saturday, December 26, 2020

A very white Christmas

We don't always have white Christmases here in the Buckeye State.  They are less common in recent years than when I was growing up.  Nonetheless, this year - 2020 - saw one of the most beautiful and enjoyable white Christmases we can remember.  It snowed all Christmas Eve, and since we were staying home to watch the Midnight Mass anyway, driving conditions didn't get in the way.  Not like last year with the craziest and foggiest day I had ever seen.  The next day, Christmas, it snowed throughout, with mostly a flurry of flakes drifting down the whole day.  That was when these shots were snapped for Christmas.  My Mom stayed dutifully inside where it was warm. 

The family, Christmas Day 2020

The boys and me, Christmas Eve - It was cold out there!

Friday, December 25, 2020

A blessed Christmas to all

May we all see this Christmas as a return to the Creation of God and the salvation it offers.  Linus explains:

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Of Christmases past and future

Way back in the day, about the second year I had my blog, I posted this about an old MTV skit I remembered from my early undergrad years.  It was when The Monkees had released a new 'Greatest Hits' album and were going on tour again after all those years.  

For that time in our lives, the Monkees seemed ancient history, as did most things in the 1960s.  This was despite the fact that by the 80s, the 1960s were being sanctified by our media culture as the decade when gods roamed the Earth.  That was when all was right with the world; all was sex hope and drugs optimism for the future. At least until the dark days, until Reagan. 

As superficial as their contribution to the decade of the infallible 60s were, the Monkees still had a part to play.  And that was gobbled up by MTV over 1986, which was the 20th Anniversary of the Monkees' primetime premier.  This culminated in a little Christmas skit featuring the Monkees who had agreed to tour together, and the one Monkee (Mike Nesmith) who didn't join the reunion appearing in a surprising cameo. 

Ah, I looked back on that in 2011 and beheld the relative innocence of it all.  This was MTV, the cutting edge of pop culture, of the 80s' decade of greed meets the lag over 70s and 60s porn culture of drugs and sex.  This is the MTV that would eventually produce shows encouraging drug use, group sex and even accepting attitudes toward teen suicide.  Yet it looks as family oriented and tame as anything Disney would show today, if it would even do so.  

I commented on the post then about how things had changed.  How, by 2011, the world had gone in directions we never imagined in 1986.  For instance, we had elected our first black president, and the narrative was still about how this was a monumental leap forward in our country's troubled past regarding race relations.  After all, as my son noted, if Obama lost reelection in 2012, they could pull the race card and say his reelection loss proves we're still a vile, racist Nazi state.  When he was reelected, however, that card was gone.  So it became incumbent upon the Left to find new ways to keep the 'America as Racist Nazi State' narrative going, hence the rise of BLM and the 1619 Project mentality only after 2012. Things I hadn't imagined when I posted the reflection of Christmases past in 2011. 

So I got to thinking about what has happened since 2011 that is different.  When I looked back in 2011 at the previous 25 years, and how much had changed, I also pondered the future.  How much would change?  What is different now?  After all, I wondered what things would be like in ten years back when I posted that.  

Below are a few observations of things that are completely off the scale from what I imagined would be in 2011, even then I knew they would be as different now as things were back then 25 years after the Monkees sang Christmas:

* No such thing as boys and girls?  That's right kiddies.  Beyond a doubt number one on my list of 'didn't see that coming.'  Apparently the entire global scientific community was 100% wrong for the history of the global scientific community.  All those little cartoons about DNA and genes and genitals and sexual reproduction were just a vast heterosexual Christian conspiracy.  It turns out there is no objective gender, just like the mysterious connection between sex and procreation has yet to be solved.  And more to the point, if you insist boys and girls do exist, you can be fired, fined and in some enlightened cultures, threatened with legal retaliation.  In 2011 I did not see that coming by a long shot. 

* Forgiveness, freedom and equality are simply tools of white supremacy and European colonialism.  Apparently added to this list is a growing number of subjects including math, astronomy, history and almost anything under the sun.  In fact, a song or movie or book by a white person can be assumed to be racist because it's by a white person.  At that point, it can be edited, banned or labeled with disclaimers accordingly.  Hence the dearth of commercials and advertisements featuring whites or white families.  Watch TV for a day and you could count on one hand minus three fingers the number of Caucasians featured in ads.  The above MTV clip would not happen today, if for no other reason the majority of whites featured in the performances.  Remember, statues and pictures of Mary or Jesus done in a European manner were being destroyed simply because of skin color. I haven't seen such a purposeful purge of an ethnic group from mass media since Germany in the 1930s.  I wouldn't have thought that could happen in 2011. Which leads to the next shocker: 

* The only solution to racism is more racism.  So apparently it's no longer vogue to strive for a colorblind society and put race behind us.  The only hope for America is to keep racism alive and well, to judge and condemn or exonerate and reward based on ethnicity, skin color, and a variety of ethnic characteristics.  In fact, so true is this that if you insist on judging based on content of character rather than the color of skin, you're a Nazi.  So true is this, that a growing number of institutions are calling on their white employees to renounce and repent their white skin color and own up to the blood libel of all racism that belongs only to the white race, or you're fired.  Everyone is in on it, including religious leaders, businesses and all things pop culture.  Again, didn't see that coming either, even as late as 2011. 

* President Donald Trump.  Nope, would have thought you were joking in 2011.  It's not an indictment of the MAGA Trumpers as much as a testimony to the deplorable impotence of those resisting the global Left that conservatives turned to someone like Trump.  But see if any Never Trumpers admit that. 

* No more nations.  As my oldest said, when the most visible ambassador for nationalism is Hitler, you know nationalism is going to be a tough sell.  This isn't new, and trashing nationalism has been going on since I was a wee one.  But opponents and critics were usually quick to distinguish between trashing nationalism and affirming the right of nations to exist.  Well, no more.  In just the last couple years, a growing tide of commentators - including the pope - have come out and all but said nations have got to go, and it's time for a borderless world, most likely in the image of some global Socialist dreamland.  Even by 2011, I didn't think there would be such open calls to put a bullet in the head of nations; especially first and foremost that American nation.  But here we are. 

*The cleansing blood of communism.  Over just last year I read no fewer than a dozen pieces and editorials calling on us to consider communism, think on communism as our only hope, look at the blessings of communism, or see why communists and communist states were a damn sight better than our nation of racism and genocide.  From Pope Francis trying to love the communist even if he doesn't love the communism, to full throated calls for communism as the hope of America, you could have told me this would happen in 2011 and I would have laughed.  Not that I didn't know that there has always been a leftwing love affair with the Reds, but I didn't think it would happen this soon, within living memory of the Soviet Union and in sight of Communist China.  Yet young people have been taught in pop culture, the media, and our schools to prefer the Hammer and Sickle over the Stars and Stripes (my boys' World History textbook had several overt sections singing the praise of Lenin, Mao and Marx, as opposed to our nation of bigotry, segregation and genocide).  So what should we expect? 

*The Beast that is corporatism.  That is, the biggest threat to emerge in the destruction of Western Civilization in deference to a Marxist inspired global state is the Corporate juggernaut.  Almost overnight, vast, multi-billion dollar corporate entities have found it in their best interest to destroy the heritage of America, the traditions and values of Christian Western civilization, and to turn as many into drugged up, sexed up thralls of the worldwide state as possible. Conservatives, having fought to protect corporate interests at all costs by eliminating any impediments to their growth, now find themselves looking around for protection and finding none.  This isn't to say corporations haven't caved for years to this or that interest if that's where the money was.  But we assumed that lust for profit wouldn't include the destruction of the Christian West, of America, of rights and freedoms and the Christian Faith as openly and nakedly as it has Corporate America has embraced.  And yet, here we are.  

*Homeschool ho!  Even as late as 2011, when I posted the Monkees post, we weren't seriously considering homeschool.  I would never say it hadn't crossed our minds.  But it always seemed so out of reach.  In only a year, however, that changed, as we marked what the schools had been doing.  Long and short, they had been fluffing our kids' grades in a sort of hush-money fashion - giving them high grades, letting them retake tests, giving them passes on missed assignments, so that our sons and 80% of the schools could be on the As and Bs honor rolls.  Why?  What parent will complain to a school when your kids are getting all As?   That allowed them to 'teach to the test' and, in hindsight, teach other things without parental interference.  Again, who is going to plow into a school when the kids are passing with flying colors?   That, as well as the bureaucratic nightmare that torpedoed our second son's love of science in deference to all important funding matrixes, sealed the deal.  Almost ten years later, and I'm thrilled we took the plunge. 

Those are only a few, but a few that are quite telling.  They also go a long way toward making the future of Western Civilization and the United States up for grabs.  I knew there had always been a desire to cut the US and the broader Western Civilization down to size.  But it's one of those things you imagine, even if left unchecked, would take countless generations to unfold.  I never imagined that ethnic cleansing, race hate, Inquisitorial intolerance and witch hunts, censorship and the full push to eradicate all culture and social norms based on ethnicity or civilizational roots would emerge and be embraced by almost everyone everywhere in the world. 

In 2011 that seemed as unlikely as moon colonies.  Now moon colonies still seem far away, but a post-Western world where so many assumptions of the West we figured were engrained in the human bloodstream forever now stand on the brink of eradication.   And in that same time, we've seen legions of those individuals and institutions we imagined would stand firm all but cave, surrender and convert to the modern leftist agnosticism.  

That's just nine years ago.  What will it be in nine more years?  What 'squares aren't round' fact will we be called upon to deny under threat of retaliation?  How many who we assume will stand firm will cave, fold and surrender?  Or, the bigger question, will being an orthodox Christian be illegal, will America exist, and will that dream of a global Marxist based totalitarian state finally come to fruition?  Only time will tell.  

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The birth of Jesus has served its purpose

Yep.  It's that time of year again, when we can stop wasting time with that Jesus born in a manger rubbish and get on with the next consumer feeding frenzy.  

I love the two shoppers looking at the paltry remnants on the shelves.  It's as if the store is saying, "Sorry about your luck, but you should have given a damn about Jesus a week ago when it was good for the bottom line!"

Ages from now conservatism's blind, slavish devotion to corporate interests and board room priorities in the name of defending Capitalism and the Free Market will be seen as one of the great strategic blunders of human history.  A free market is one thing.  A soulless consumerism that becomes so jaded it can watch corporate interests piss all over the sacred and virtuous for a buck is a threat to our most cherished values.  The result of ignoring this fact speaks for itself as we watch corporatism emerge as one of the single greatest threats to all we hold dear that we've ever encountered.  

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

It's a seasonal thing

 And appropriate for the Excelphile in your life (like me).  

I could watch this every day

At least every day of the holidays.  The original that started it all.  I still remember seeing the fellow interviewed by Matt Lauer.  It was just a little 'a lights display in Cincinnati has neighbors talking' story.  Nothing big.  The fellow worked with computers and just did it, IIRC, for his wife for something different. 

Now it's the thing, and musical synched light displays are everywhere from neighborhood houses to sprawling city wide and corporate displays alike.  Of course Tran Siberian Orchestra figures prominently among the music selection since it was their Wizards in Winter he used to set up the display.  Up until then, Christmas Canon was their best known song.  

So kudos to a fellow who thought outside the box and changed the way we do Christmas displays.  Even if we don't remember his name.  But then, we don't remember the name of the fellow who invented toilet paper, and you'd think he would have a global holiday celebrating him.  

Monday, December 21, 2020

The best Christmas album ever

I know I'm inclined toward a certain level of exaggeration on my internet postings, but I mean it this time.  I think The Carpenter's A Christmas Portrait is simply the best Christmas album ever produced.  I suppose you could argue the greatest, but I'm willing to concede there might be others more worthy of that title.

After all, you don't have to be the best to be the greatest.  Take Citizen Kane.  It's, It's not Welle's best or most enjoyable movie, but undeniably his greatest- perhaps the greatest - due to its influence and the possibilities it ushered in with filmmaking.  Or The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.  Often named the greatest album of all time, it is hardly the best album of all time.  Heck, I don't think it's even their best album.  But in terms of influence and impact on everything from music to culture, I'm at pains to think of another single album to match its accomplishments. 

So when I say best, I mean best in the sense of most enjoyable, nicest to listen to overall album that I could hear a million times each holiday season and still hear something new.  It's the album we kick off the 'Christmas season' (Madison Ave. version) with as soon as Santa rolls by in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.   My boys have said that the album's first chords are like Trick or Treat for Halloween.  It's the music they think of that says 'the Season is upon us!'  I love that.  I love the fact that we have these traditions that our sons have an almost Pavlovian response to, so engrained are they in their minds. 

But it's a fine album, and for anyone wanting an entire Christmas album to listen to, this would be it.  A genuine Christmas concept album, it strikes a fine balance between the whimsical and serious, between the secular and the sacred.  Most love and respect goes to the late Karen Carpenter for  her smooth as silk vocals, and rightly so I think.  But in many ways, her brother Richard deserves much of the credit for this production.  He was the creative force behind the duo, and the arrangements, the production, the instrumentals rest heavily on his shoulders and are what make this an album leaps and bounds above most others, which are often merely collections of Christmas songs and little more. 

One of the few "Christmas" love songs that manage to make 

Christmas an indispensable part of the song. 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

My last Christmas list

Never asked for it, but received it anyway
So I wrote here about how, for much of my childhood, I really didn't ask for things at Christmas.  I took what was there, and that became my favorite toy for the year.  That changed my sixth grade year when a surprise gift in the form of a Micronauts toy line surprised me and captured my imagination.  By sixth grade, it was all Micronauts.  For both my birthday and Christmas that's what I wanted - and nothing else. 

I wondered as I reflected on that post if it became a trend. If, after that, the following Christmases became a list of 'give me'.  I realized it didn't.  In fact, by the following year, my interest in Micronauts was fading.  I was in seventh grade, and my Dad made it clear it was time to put childish toys and games behind me.  My Mom actually bought me one more of the Micronauts toy line for Christmas, and I remember him telling her that Christmas morning that it was time for that to be a thing of the past. 

Therefore I clearly didn't ask for Micronauts anymore.  But did I ever have another BB-Gun Christmas?  Was there another Christmas where I really, really, really wanted something?   Why yes, there was.  In fact, it was the very next Christmas, when I was in eighth grade, that I had what may have been a more anticipated gift than my Micronauts two years earlier.

It was 1980, the year that ushered in the Reagan Revolution.  I was in eighth grade, one of those all important grades.   It was important because that meant we were the grade on top of the food chain in that part of schooling.  Third grade, fifth grade, sixth grade, eighth grade and of course our senior year - these were the grades in which our class was at the top of the heap. There was a certain comfort and feeling of security that came with that. 

It was also approaching the apex of that period I call The Great Fantasy Renaissance.  That was the era kicked off by the release of Star Wars.  Sci-fi and fantasy, genres that had been reduced to Grade D level movie fare, were suddenly everywhere.  Top line bock office budgets were given to anything with spaceships or wizards.  Though, to be honest, fantasy wasn't quite as big in the cinema, owing to the fact that George Lucas's special effects revolution was great for outer space and aliens, less so for dragons and knights on horseback.  

Nonetheless, the genres had a massive boost, and if you wanted to make money, you made sure that space was being invaded or damsels were being rescued.  On the former subject, one thing that exploded onto the pop culture mindset was a video game that took pixels and monotony, and followed the above formula.  Rather than simply 'pixel shoot'em up', the arcade game in question slapped some imaginative artwork on the cabinet, and gave the game a name: Space Invaders.  Instead of just a typical arcade firing range, you now had a story, and one that fit with the spirit of the time: aliens from space on the march!

It was a monster hit.  It also put arcade games into the forefront of the cultural mindset.  They had been around for awhile, but mostly as a novelty.   I remember some friends of the family who owned the old game Pong.  That was something that quickly lost its appeal, at least from my perspective.  But on the whole, the video arcade game came into its own with Space Invaders, and immediately a floodgate was opened and within a couple years, dozens if not hundreds of variations on the theme were found in arcades across the country.

In a brilliant marketing move, and one that has more details behind it than I care to research, the home video game maker Atari managed to get licensing to do an Atari home version of Space Invaders and, combined with a deal through Sears, release it just in time for Christmas, 1980.  

Boy was that what everyone wanted.  I was hardly alone, but I imagine my zeal was second to none when it came to reminding my parents on a thrice-daily basis of just how much I wanted that game.  It was even more for me, since my family had moved into a house about three miles behind the pyramids in terms of remote locations.  For reasons I'll never quite understand, at the end of my sixth grade year, my parents relocated to a house we didn't need that was a million miles from anywhere.  

Though I had friends who could come over - when their parents or mine brought them - and there were school activities, during the summer and other down times I didn't have much to do.  The people we bought the house from had included a teacher, and she left quite a little library behind.  They also left a piano.  So in the subsequent years I taught myself to plunk out a few songs on the piano, and began to enjoy reading as something done outside of school.  I also had my Dad's record collection, consisting of classical music, Big Band era, jazz, and of course ol'Blue Eyes (Sinatra) and his generation of crooners.  In fact, my tendency to mix Van Halen or Billy Joel with Mozart or Andy Williams was why I was never allowed to choose the music when my friends and I went 'cruising for girls.'  

The lines in the stores watching this played were epic
But all of that only goes so far.  By the summer after my seventh grade year, my exile from everywhere was beginning to tell.  I still had friends who came over, and sometimes kids would visit their grandparents across the highway.  But it was getting pretty lonely in those pre-computer, VCR, cable and smartphone days.

The thought of having that game - THE game - at home gave me new hope in life.  I was still a couple years from a drivers license, so I knew I would need something to fill the gaps.  Perry Como was a fine singer after all, but there is a limit.  

So it was that year I once again reverted to my sixth grade Ralphie mentality and pestered, and pestered, and pestered some more.  I thought about Space Invaders.  I tried to replicate Space Invaders.  I continually brought Space Invaders into any conversation.   And once again, I wasn't disappointed.  My Mom and Dad (I have a feeling Dad especially) came through with flying colors.  We not only got Atari and Space Invaders, but a new color television on which to play it all.  And a bean bag chair to boot!

In a strange, ironic twist, that was also the year I got hit with the flu.  When it comes to the flu, I'm not aware of anyone not having symptoms.  You get the flu, you know you have the flu.  My best friend who I've written about came over that day to enjoy the new Space Invaders game.  He had started coming over to my house on Christmas Day the year of the Micronauts, and it was a tradition that continued until I moved to Florida after college.  But sitting there zapping aliens I began feeling a bit down.  By that night, after my friend left, I had a 104 degree fever.  I would have been happy to die.  My parents called the local drug store owner and he opened up so they could get some medicines our family doctor suggested.  Ah, pre-computer days. 

Nonetheless, what a year.  The next year I wanted to add to my video game collection by getting the game Adventure for Atari.  I do believe that was the last year I really asked for or really wanted anything.  Over the years I've certainly mentioned this or that.  When people have asked what I'd like, I've usually come up with something.   But how often did I approach Christmas with a 'must have this' mentality?   In looking back and reflecting, not often at all.  In fact, two Christmases in particular, and perhaps a third (if you count wanting the Adventure Atari game), were it.  Every other Christmas of my 54 years that I can recall saw me more or less asking for little, or general things when pressed, and more or less content with the receiving.  Call me countercultural I suppose.  

Friday, December 18, 2020


I know there has been quite a bit of hooha over the Vatican's nativity scene.  And to me it does look awful.  I also get that the whole 'beauty is in the eyes' and 'one man's art' has been overplayed to the point where a moldy banana skin on a wall is considered art today.  Thus is the world we live in.

Nonetheless, I also get that there is a certain level of subjectivity where art and entertainment and college bowl rankings are concerned.  I can't imagine anyone looking at this Nativity scene and saying 'Wow, that's beautiful.'  But then I can't get how someone could watch The Godfather and say it wasn't any good, or listen to Mozart and say no big deal, or look at the Sistine Chapel and say there's another case of white racist supremacy, or think that You're So Vain isn't a horrible song.   But there are those who can, because there is some truth to the opinions of the beholder having the final say. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Goodbye Cleveland Indians

I was never an Indians fan, so I don't care.  This is just the latest in the move to destroy the United States and its heritage.  Trump did nothing to stop it.  In fact, it was using Trump at Hitler that the Left stepped forward and put its plan to destroy the US and the greater Christian Western tradition into full gear.

The thing that caught everyone by surprise has been the speed with which Corporate America jumped on board.  Sure, corporate interests always go the way of the profit, and more than once they have changed to keep up with the latest sensitivities.  It isn't as if all those companies gave a rip about the environment when they were all putting out commercials about how much they cared about the environment. They were just looking at market trends.

But joining in the whole 'America as racist Nazi state' seems to have caught people - especially conservatives who long defended the interests of Corporate America - flat footed.  But it shouldn't.  My boys made a good point about this some time ago.  

Basically, the reason we have America in the first place is because the people with the wealth and power wanted it to happen.  Out of good fortune, those people also happened to be invested in finding a way to build the better political mousetrap, and had the character to see things through following the Revolution.  But they did it all because it was in their interests to do so. The reason why they took the stand they took against merry old England was because they benefited from their decisions to stand up to England, or at least not to back down.

Now the people with the wealth and power benefit by beating America into the ground; by convincing people that antiquated ideals like freedom of speech or religious liberty or due process are in need of reimagining.  They benefit by convincing Americans that it is our country, and no other, that is truly reprehensible and that we are beneficiaries of the most evil and wicked of all nations.  Why?

Hard to say. My boys believe it's because China and India are the Boardwalk and Park Place of the global market.  Was a time, only back in the 90s, when broadening trade with China raised eyebrows on both sides of the political aisle.  After all, China had only recently slaughtered thousands of student protestors in Tiananmen Square.  And that was par for the course in China.  It sill is.  China may have broadened its market, but it's still a brutal totalitarian communist state that oppresses, enslaves, persecutes and even murders its own citizens (or others if they can).

Our betters reaching out with love and bank accounts to such a nation might just raise a few eyebrows here at home today.  Some might not like the idea of making money off of a nation like that, or other places where slave labor and child labor are business as usual.  It might be a problem in a country that still believed it had the moral grounding to have a say in such things.  But a country that was convinced it and it alone is the true source of evil in the world?  A nation where people believe almost anything to do with our own country is racist evil, and we are the most murderous genocidal nation in the world?  Why, what right do we have to complain about people or corporations or anyone else reaching out and doing business in China or similar nations?  It isn't like China could be worse than America or anything. 

Could be.  Whatever the reason, Wall Street and Madison Avenue and Hollywood and other power players no longer feel lifting America up is best for their bottom line.  Beating it down, shaming it, joining in the move to eradicate as much of Christian Western and American heritage as possible - that's where the money is.  For whatever reasons, that's what the powers that be want, and just like those who inherited a nation of the people, by the people, for the people centuries ago, the hoi polloi will inherit what the powers of today want them to inherit. 

Monday, December 14, 2020

Retrospect: Magnum P.I.

So this year has seen me do something I never thought I'd do, and that's 'binge watch.'  Largely owing to the lack of alternatives, and the fact that though the boys live with us right now during the lockdowns and restrictions, they're still mighty busy, we sought other outlets for those downtimes.  Furthermore, owing to the need to keep an eye on my Mom, our options for exotic international cruises and African safaris are limited.  For that matter, an overnight stay at a local hotel and a night out at a restaurant might as well be an African safari.

While reading and talking and having coffee together can still have their special moments after almost 28 years of marriage, there sometimes needs to be a few options beyond those time tested activities.  Since we don't pay for any streaming services, we take what we can get.  One of the things we could get, and that came to us in the form of a birthday present from the boys, was one of the most 1980s of all television shows of the 1980s, Magnum P.I.  

Originally envisioned as a Los Angeles based spin off from The Rockford Files (Selleck had costarred in a couple episodes as a rival detective), the studios went a different direction.  The television show Hawaii Five-O had just ended, and the network was stuck with all of the filming apparatus in Hawaii.  So they packed up the Magnum team and shipped them off to Hawaii, in which Hawaii almost became more of a character than it had with Hawaii Five-O (along with the legendary porsche red Ferrari).  

In some ways, that show embodied the early 1980s about as well as any.  For my part, I didn't watch it much back then.  I was a Simon and Simon guy, wishing I could be as cool as Gerald Mcraney's Rick (yet knowing in my gut I would never be that cool).  I was aware of Magnum, however, and it was the show everyone else seemed to be watching, at least until Miami Vice changed the direction of such television fare.  

Everyone was watching except my Mom I should say. She couldn't stand it, Selleck, the premise or any of it.  I don't know if she watched it, but it wasn't one of her shows, and that was enough for her.  My Dad wasn't a fan either, though I think he gave it a shot and watched a few episodes.  And why weren't they fans? 

Well first, by its standards of the day, it was pretty racy.  For the ladies, Selleck or his two buddies had to appear at least once in every episode stripped down to their skivvies, shirtless and engaged in some sweat inducing labor.  Not to be left out, for the guys almost every episode had to have panning shots of dozens of well structured women who had to share about one bathing suit between them.  It was quite brilliant, providing eye-candy for both sexes when we laughably believed there were two sexes.  In addition to that, per the storylines, sleeping around and one night stands were by then a forgone conclusion.

For an era that had the comedy Three's Company still operate under the assumption that unmarried women and men shouldn't be living together, that was quite a step in a new direction.  Sure, night time dramas like Dallas had already sanctified the sexual revolution as normal, but those were seen as nighttime soap operas.  They weren't for general audiences.  Magnum was a 'detective' show, harkening back to Columbo or Kojak or McLoud or any others on the Sunday Mystery Movie lineup.  These were shows that included the kids in the viewing (I know since I remember watching them with the family). 

But not Magnum.  Though the earlier episodes were much more racy and suggestive than later ones, the whole still had a definite 'not for the young'uns' vibe that took a generation used to 'family television time' by surprise.

Another thing it did was take the critical view of America and the West that was coming to dominate television (and certainly film) by then.  By the time Magnum was dropped mid-season in a December pickup, All and the Family and Norman Lear's battery of 'liberal sermons in sitcom form' had begun to assault the foundations of almost anything and everything American.  Cynicism was the name, and skepticism the game when looking at the 2500 year old Christian and Western traditions we had inherited.

Magnum didn't shy from this development.  Despite it's often whimsical storylines and good humor, it took on issues of national corruption, government intrigue, America's past sins and the sins of the West in general.  Sometimes these were done flagrantly, often referencing some storyline with the character of Higgins, the resident Brit veteran from England's colonial arms period (played brilliantly by Texas born comedic actor John Hillerman).  Some episodes had direct reference to the internment of the Japanese, or atrocities committed by soldiers in colonial Britain or by our own troops in Vietnam (Magnum and his buddies were supposedly vets who had served together in Vietnam).

All weighty stuff when compared to your average episode of Columbo, or considering that just ten years earlier shows like Green Acres or The Brady Bunch were prime time hits.   Of course it was critical by those standards, yet still wrapped up with the assumption that 'West/America good, despite some bad in their histories'.  Compared to today it looks almost like a production of Frank Capra's Why We Fight series.  Today, we would learn that merely assuming there are boys and girls is how Magnum's team would have looked at racism or America's history of slavery. 

It was also cutting edge in other ways.  The character of T.C. is African American, and yet that is seldom the focus.  Unlike most shows up to that point, either blacks weren't prominent parts of a cast or they were singled out and focused on for the novelty of being main characters (see Sanford and Son or The Jeffersons).  In this case, T.C. just happens to be black.  That was actually quite a thing and not common as late as the 1980s (oddly, one of the earliest shows to showcase a black character prominently in an ensemble cast and yet not making his race an issue was the farcical sitcom Hogan's Heroes - and that during the Civil Rights era to boot). It was time to put race behind us and be color blind.  RIP. 

Another cutting edge storyline was Magnum and his buddies as those Vietnam vets.  Vietnam was only a half dozen years old when the show premiered.  Until then, Hollywood didn't know what to do about this first war we lost.  Either strange surreal war operas or ignoring it altogether seemed to be the preference.  If a character in a television show appeared, it was often to preach about the pointlessness of the war.  In Magnum, the vets simply were vets.  The war happened, they served.  That was that.  The comradery they developed between themselves and the character of Higgins (of WWII service, though Hillerman was far too young to have been a WWII vet), demonstrated that the show's premise was that Vietnam vets had every right to be counted among America's veteran's.  A large leap for those days. 

So I can see the appeal of the show, beyond merely the obvious eye-candy elements.  A superb chemistry between the leads, utilizing the fantasy of Hawaii as paradise on earth, making sure to include plenty of iconic images (the helicopter, the cars, the dobermans, the estate), the continual breaking of the fourth wall, the many episodes that appealed to the past and tweaked the old nostalgia were all surefire methods of ensuring a strong connection with a television audience.  So strong was the connection that when it went off the air - supposedly at the death of Magnum - the audience outcry was heard and another final season hurriedly put into production. 

It's odd, however, as I watch the old episodes, some being forty years old.  It's funny how it's not just the obvious cultural rot I notice.  It's not that Magnum would almost be too tame for Disney by our standards today.  It's not even that Magnum clearly assumed a positive Western influence as opposed to our modern era seeking to destroy the whole lot of the Christian West.  It's the little things I see.

In one episode, the villain is peering over a fence, gawking at the obligatory shot of pleasantly endowed women playing on the beach.  He makes some comments, then turns around.  A henchman is sitting at a patio table, working on a typewriter (note: not a laptop).  The old fellow (played by vet actor Michael Gazzo, who famously replaced Richard Castellano in The Godfather, Part II), turns about and chastises the henchman for not taking in the scenery.  "Don't you like girls", he asks?  The man responds of course he does.

Funny, but that caught my attention.  The assumption - you're a guy, why aren't you over here looking at the lasses?  The question, with  only the slightest hint of a possible alternative answer.  The response, almost simple, no outrage, no arguing.  Just plain, obvious dialogue from a time that took these things for granted.  The fact that they were entertaining the idea that there were boys and girls and some natural attraction is as radical in today's eyes as pointing out in a whimsical detective show that America did some bad things was in 1980.  Only in the 80s, it was more merciful and forgiving of our history of slavery than we are today when we imagine boys and girls exist.  Such are the changing times. 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

If only conservatives were more like liberals

And accepted the loss of a presidential election with maturity, dignity and grace, the world would be a happier place.

When I see the rage inducing level of hypocrisy, false equivalency or double standards that define so much progressive discourse, I'm reminded of what my sons say: arguing with liberals is like playing a game of Monopoly with someone who keeps throwing pots and pans at you.  

It's a senseless and stupid analogy, but then that's the point. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

What Christmas list?

For most of my young life,  I don't remember asking for anything in particular at Christmas.  I just took what was under the tree.  If I got a Fort Apache playset, a WWII army soldiers set, a Lionel train set, or anything of the sort, that's what I got.  And that became my favorite toy of the moment.  Sometimes, as in the WWII sets, they became my favorites for many years.  Occasionally I might ask for something small, but usually the big presents were surprises, and yearly favorites because they were mine. 

My early Christmases were simply awesome just because they were Christmas.  I'm actually old enough to remember when McDonald's was a rare treat, candy was an occasional treat, usually confined to October through Easter (or I earned extra money and went to the local drug store to buy my own), and with the rarest of exceptions, toys and games came at Christmas and birthdays.  In my case, since my birthday was in December, I had to wait the entire year.

Needless to say, I wasn't picky or overly demanding.  Whatever was under the tree would be good enough.  And typically it was.  My Dad had grown up in the Great Depression under the description 'dirt poor.'  Literally.  The house they moved into had no flooring.  No doors either.  His father was a hard worker, but also an abusive drunk.  Hence I never knew Dad's mother, who was driven to an early grave by, among other things, the abuse.  

It goes without saying that their Christmases were a sparse affair.  Usually without trees, he said the ironing board was the typical platform for whatever gifts - if any - they received.  Oddly enough, despite all of their white privilege in such matters, all of his brothers and he resolved to make sure their own children never experienced that level of abuse, poverty, or lost Christmases.

So when I was growing up, Dad made sure that if nothing else, the morning of Christmas was a resplendent affair, as least in the most Diskensonian/Madison Ave sense of the word.  My sister and I would many times over the years speak of that special, magical moment when we rushed down the stairs on Christmas morning before any lights were on, peaked around the edge of the wall, and saw the darkened tree surrounded by presents. Even if I had asked for nothing, I was thrilled at whatever possibilities were before us. 

All that changed my sixth grade year.  The previous Christmas my parents picked, out of the blue, some toys known as 'Micronauts'.  Star Wars was all the rage, and most of my friends were piling up mounds of Kenner's famous Star Wars action figures line.  For reasons I don't know, however, my parents saw these little gems, based upon a comic and toy line out of Japan.  

The Interchangeable World of the Micronauts, or so it was called.  They were roughly space age, sci-fi figures like many others.  The spin was that you could mix and match, disassemble and reassemble as you saw fit.  Each figure, and each playset, contained multiple ways they could be joined, added to and changed.  They had 'official' ways to be built, but the sky was the limit, confined only to the child's imagination. 

Because of my tendency to blather on about things I liked, I spread the good news of the Micronauts to my friends, and by the next Christmas, we were all running about, asking to add to our collections.  Being among the first to see them, I had one of the biggest collections.  That was the first time I remember having a 'collection' of anything, though I had accumulated quite a store of toy soldiers from the various WWII sets I got as a kid (including a spectacular 'Guns of Navarone' playset that was all that and a bag or two of chips).

That Christmas, my sixth grade year in which we were all crammed into a 19th century school building complete with cloak rooms and old wooden floors, it was all about Micronauts.  I even broke with my usual blah attitude about comic books and did everything to get the series produced by Marvel Comics based on the toyline.  I usually only got comics when someone gave me one because they assumed since I liked to read that meant comic books.  This time it was me doing the asking.

But that was the first time I had ever asked for anything big going into Christmas. I wasn't disappointed, and the tree that year was stacked high with different products from the toy line.  I'm sure I received other things, but it was those that grabbed and held my attention, and would for the remainder of my grammar school year.   I just thought of that as I ask my sons what they want for Christmas.  I don't remember being asked.  I usually just took whatever was there.  But for the first time, in 1978 when I was in sixth grade, I asked.  And having asked, I received. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

God bless Laura Klassen

Laura Klassen is a small, shining star in the darkness of our current era of death.  If the WHO is to be believed, the number of abortions performed in the last 50 years across the world - assuming numbers are more or less consistent year after year - would top 1.5 billion.  Let that sink in.  That's STEM for you folks.  That's our modern era.  That's the era that made the first half of the 20th Century that included two industrial world wars and the holocaust the more pro-life half of the century. 

We all know the lion's share of the abortions is to support the modern women's movement and the sex and drugs revolution that opened the gate to over 40 million dead from HIV/AIDS, tens of millions dead from recreational drugs, not to mention endless millions upon millions of lives wrecked and ruined by STDs, broken homes and relationships, skyrocketing suicide and drug dependency rates ... need I go on? 

It's probably not a stretch to say in the last half century we have caused more slaughter, death, suffering and misery than any period in human history - perhaps than all the periods of human history combined - all in order to get high and laid.  Quite an accomplishment for the most educated generation that has ever lived.

Yes, that is our legacy.  That is what future ages will look back upon and judge.  If there is any justice, they will judge us as mercilessly and ruthlessly as we spend our time judging those who came before us.  This is also what God no doubt sees.  I would like to think He looks past the clever arguments courtesy of our snappy undergrad diplomas, past our Netflix and our latest smartphones, past our Facebook postering and media punditry, and sees the souls of hundreds of millions of murdered, aborted and dead innocents laid upon the altar of our libidos.  

Now, it takes a certain golly-gee-wiz to have this as your generational accomplishment and yet see yourselves as the intellectual apex of cognitive evolution and the moral and ethical hub of godlike perfection around which the universe will forever turn.  In fact, so vast is the yawning chasm between the high opinion we have of ourselves and the cataclysmic disaster we have visited on the world and the future, you know there has to be some pretty creative BS involved in our reasoning and rationalizations behind it all.

For instance, you have the abortion culture that casts a long shadow over unprecedented loneliness, hopelessness, regular mass killings and school shootings, drug addiction and suicide among even our children as young as ten years old.  In America, our womenfolk alone have aborted over 60 million pregnancies just to prove what giving women equality will accomplish.  Most sexed up men with no particular religious commitments approve this development.  This is what the godless and the modernists defend, promote, blame others for, or excuse. 

The most shocking thing, however, are all of those who outwardly condemn this and even say it's bad, but then fully support the theories, ideas, policies, whimsical fairy thinking and idiocy that has brought us here.  More to the point, they actually support those who openly and proudly support this culture of death and blasphemous debauchery.    

How do they do this?  How do they insist, for instance, that they are 'whole life' this or 'new prolife' that and yet throw themselves in an alliance behind the forces, movements and people who are entirely dedicated to this era of holocaust for sex?  

Well, among other things, they lie.  Or at least they accept the lies of the Father of Lies who is no doubt behind these developments.  They accept the premises behind the abortion culture, the feminist culture, the godless culture of hedonism and narcissism that has brought us to the top of Mount Carcass.  They repeat the lies whenever they need to justify their allegiance with such an openly naked assault on the sanctity of God's creation.

One of the most common lies is that those outraged at the carnage we are witnessing really don't care.  In fact, they don't care about the unborn at all.  They just hate women.  Or perhaps they do care about the unborn and don't merely use them as human shields, but they certainly don't care about children and babies or mothers or anyone once they are born.  

This is largely political rhetoric of the old 'not God but only our party's horses and chariots can save us' mentality.  You can't possibly care if you don't support our obviously infallible solutions.  But whatever, it's an effective way of putting those who look across the almost two billion lives cut short by our sex drives on the defensive.  

It's a lie of course.  There is actually quite a body of stats and studies suggesting that when it comes to charity, giving, helping others and devoting oneself to the least of these, those who fall in line with the anti-abortion movement - conservatives, Christians and yes, pro-life Americans - are among the most giving and caring there are.  

I'm willing to dismiss such studies and concede that, in the end, it likely doesn't make much difference which groups people belong to.  Chances are that abortion activists, liberal Democrats and atheists are as giving and caring of babies, mothers, poor people and others as conservatives, Christians, and pro-life Americans, and vice versa. I'm willing to concede that point.   

There is therefore no reason for anyone - pro-abortion, New Prolife Catholic, or even pope - to assume that merely questioning the political and socioeconomic policies of certain political parties negates the goodness of people or makes it likely they don't care about anyone but themselves.  Fact is, there is no real or factual reason to believe a person against abortion is any less giving or willing to help others - including babies and moms - than anyone else.  Unless you believe it is only the horses and chariots of a single political movement and nothing else that can truly save, it is a false accusation.

Assuming not, then we must concede that the oft repeated mantra that 'they oppose abortion but don't care about moms or babies' is simply a lie.  Plain and simple.  And Ms. Klassen is one of the most visible examples out there to show the lie.  Though she's known for her clever and quirky videos that take pro-abortion arguments and shove them back down the abortion culture's throat with a candle on it, in truth much of her industry is centered around helping pregnant moms and new moms and their babies.  Just like conservatives, Christians, Americans and anti-abortion activists I've known have done for years.

She has a public platform, and is able to gather help from a wide variety of sources when she isn't fighting being shut down by the Tech Empire.  May God bless her efforts and all who have repeatedly risen to the occasion when she has called out for help for struggling moms or children.  There are many ways to help many people, and if allowed to go about our ways, most people will rise to the occasion.  Heck, sometimes those who are giving don't even go to church!  I'd like to think that's the beautiful spark of the Divine in all of us. 

But if God ever breathes life into this valley of bones and rotting corpses that our modern era of STEM and educated celebrity worship has accumulated, it will be through the works of those like Ms. Klassen.  Sadly, at times it is Christians, believers, even the ones committed to stopping the abortion era carnage that she runs up against the most.  They won't be the ones future generations who survive our age will remember fondly. 

Ms. Klassen going where most brave defenders of life's sanctity fear to tread. 

The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many bones in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.  And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live?  And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.   Ezekiel 37.1-3.

Monday, December 7, 2020

A date that once lived in infamy

Here is the first post on Pearl Harbor day that I published.  Ten years ago.  I said then that it was a date that would soon be forgotten.  I had no idea that in ten years, not only would it be forgotten by most young American, but most young Americans would want to forget the nation that was attacked.  

I've often said that Western Civilization will be the first civilization to die from suicide.  Not accidental, depressed, mental health driven suicide.  But a hellish perversion of guilt and shame mixed with lies and propaganda that has convinced people in the freest culture in history that it's only dumb strange coincidence that this nation they are free to want to destroy without retaliation is otherwise the most horrible and evil nation in history. 

But there you go.  Some still remember.  I didn't see it on the national newscasts this morning, but wasn't able to watch them.  Perhaps in some second hour lineup it was mentioned.   Our local - and a little more conservative - outlet did a segment on the date and the attack and memorials being held.  Like most things, whether you remember or not, or care or not, or wish America would have lost or not, is likely where you stand on a host of other issues.  

Thursday, December 3, 2020

A product of our imagination

Years and years ago, it was 1981 I believe, I had my hands on that most precious of all annual publications: the Wishbook.  Technically only Sears had a 'Wishbook' by name, but like Kleenex and Xerox, "Wishbook" came to represent any of the Christmas Holiday Catalogs that came from various retail giants like JC Penney, Sears and Monkey Wards.   

That particular year I was gushing over a model diorama of the Battle for Hoth from the recently released The Empire Strikes Back.  That film was - and remains - the one Star Wars movie (pre-Disney) that I never saw in theaters.  The reasons were many, but family crises and health issues for my grandmother were among the reasons.  

Despite this, or perhaps because of, I tried to get my hands on anything and everything 'ESB.'  Since I was going into high school, playing with the famous Kenner brand Star Wars toys was off the table, so a model seemed the next best thing.  After all, as you got older, it became more and more difficult to exercise that old imagination in ways that wouldn't draw scorn from our surrounding culture.  

As I've said, it proved to be a disappointment.  I didn't pay attention to the dimensions, and was rather crestfallen when the package arrived in a box barely large enough for a pair of shoes.  It was the first time I went through the trouble of returning something I actually had wanted.  I remember looking again at the picture and wondering how I missed the size of the thing.  

Another thing I missed, or paid scant attention to, was a strange game I first saw or heard of in that very catalogue.  On the same page was something called "Dungeons and Dragons".  It said it was a game, but was in the section that included models and other similar hobbies.  Some of the pictures looked like they were of little miniature models.  But some of the section said it was a game, and all I saw were books that looked somewhat like thin textbooks.  No game box, game board or playing pieces.  How that was a game I couldn't guess.

Where's the geometry problem?
Later that Fall, being my freshman year of high school, I was sitting with some fellows in our study hall.  Our study hall was actually our cafeteria.  Sitting at the tables, three of my fellow freshmen one day were doing something that caught my eye.  They were drawing something on graph paper.  

Back then, graph paper existed in school for two reasons: A math class or shop class.  Since none of them were in shop, and they were in my math class and I couldn't recall anything to do with graph paper, I asked what they were doing. One who was named Rodney explained he was 'drawing a dungeon'.  After more prodding, he explained it was for that game I remembered seeing earlier in the catalog.  He said it was more or less the game's board he was drawing, and that it would be used for the game he was preparing. 

I couldn't fathom it.  How do you 'draw' a game board?  What does that even mean?  And how do you know where things are?  I know where Boardwalk is, and where Kamchatka is, but what does it mean to 'put treasure' or 'place monsters'?  It made no sense at all.  So he showed me a book I had never seen before.  The cover had rather amateurish artwork, the stuff I'd expect on some kid's book.  But inside it was something I would have paid a million dollars for when I was a kid.

Inside those pages was a treasure trove of artwork and information about monsters of myth and legend, or movies and stories, of fancy and fantasy.  Most I had never heard of.  Again, I wasn't into fantasy or sci-fi that much.  I loved Star Wars as most my age did.  I watched Battlestar Galactica because it was a thing.  I was so-so with Star Trek.  I generally didn't care for the genre of fantasy, or anything much medieval.  

I did like monster movies.  And dinosaurs.  I had actually at one time thought of being a paleontologist as a kiddo.  So I loved me the old Harryhausen.   Also I enjoyed whatever cheap B Movies with monsters Super Host Mad Theater showed on a Saturday afternoon.  If someone gave me the latest issue of Movie Monsters magazine, that was fine too.  

In any event, you couldn't really get much more than such a magazine if you were interested in monsters or creatures of legend.  A local library might have a dozen different books that dealt with different subjects, including these or those mythical beasts.  Since there was no book store in our village, a trip to the local Walden Books at the small city a half hour away might yield a coffee table book that had something of monsters or dinosaurs.  Encyclopedias could sometimes help.  But that was it. 

But now, in that study hall, I was looking at a single, hardcover book that had literally hundreds of small entries, along with pictures, of more monsters, creatures and spooky things than I ever saw in one volume.  And in those days, in the hazy days of the pre-internet early 1980s, that was about a rich of a find as you were likely to come across.  Even VCRs weren't around yet, so there was no guarantee of a movie to see such critters in.   But there it was, in all its pen and ink glory.  Even if some of what was said in the entries make no sense at all. 

More dragons than I ever saw in one place
Hid dice? Armor class?  What did those mean?  It was a game, but made no sense.  I still couldn't get my mind around something without a board and a set of rules telling where everything was.  One thing I did realize, however, was that somehow it tweaked and piqued my imagination.  In those days, you only had a few outlets for your imagination if you weren't a pro in some art or entertainment vocation.  You could read.  You could watch television or movies.  You could, well, read or watch television or movies.  In my case I could draw well enough, though I was never a Rembrandt.  

Something that appeared to be almost blank slate ready to be filled by an adult (or at least teenage) imagination seemed at once confusing, but also a godsend.   Somehow, even without getting the strange numbers and terms, the idea that you could recapture some of that old creativity everyone has naturally as a child, that seemed to be diminishing greatly as more and more we turned to the screens big and little to do our thinking for us, was mighty appealing.  Oddly enough, the game didn't garner love from our industries of imagination and magic. Quite the opposite. 

I've often pondered the reaction of the popular culture to the game.  True, Spielberg treats it positively in the movie ET, and not unrealistically.  When I first heard of the game, it was as likely being played by the football captain or varsity lettermen as the geek or nerd.  That Elliot's cool, football playing brother Michael is playing it seemed no surprise.  But it didn't take long for that portrayal to fade, and soon everyone - Hollywood included - was jumping on the 'D&D is for geeks and losers who will kill themselves or you' bandwagon.  

Perhaps it's for the same reason that you see television held up to such derision in old Loony Tunes and Tom and Jerry cartoons.  My boys noticed that when they watch the 'disclaimered' cartoons of that period.  About the time television is making a big splash, you have several cartoon shorts that deal with this new technology, and almost all of them in some negative or mocking light.  Why would they do that?  Because back then, those little shorts we grew up watching on Saturday mornings were actually produced to play before movies in the movie theater.  And television was a threat.  So what do you do when you make the art that is being threatened by something?  You use the art to attack that something.

Football players playing D&D?
Same goes for a product of your imagination.  Consider a product that allows adults to use their imagination in ways that, by the 1980s, were no longer acceptable.  For ages storytelling and parlor games, even games involving what we might loosely call role-playing, were popular and even common among adults as well as children.  Even childish games like blind man's bluff or tag would be played by adults until relatively recent times.  Though theater existed, it wasn't an every day affair.  It was movies, and later television, that taught the adults (and perhaps later children) of the world to surrender their imaginations and abandon to an industry that would do it all for them. 

And it could be that the powers that be in the entertainment industry saw a game like this as a challenge to that growing monopoly.  In fact, it likely isn't confined to just this game.  Think how often in our popular culture anything not involving sex, or something to do with a form of entertainment produced at the industrial level, is lifted up and celebrated in our popular media culture.  Not that it never happens.  But how often is the person who eschews the latest, biggest industrially produced leisure activity shown as a positive?  

So it could have been for that.  Whatever the reason, our pop culture joined religious leaders, educators, scientists and medical pros, and journalists to trash, hash, and drag this game through the proverbial mud.  I admit I tried to play it despite it all.  In the end, it felt like it was more fun to think about playing than actually play.  

It might have been the local game group in which I first dabbled my D&D toes.  As I said, it was a mixed bunch, with guys from all around the high school social spectrum.  There were few girls.  Unlike the guys, they weren't from a large swath of teendom, being in that sort of middle 'reads a lot and likes Star Trek' mold.  Not many cheerleaders or homecoming queens.  But the guys were from all over the map.  Perhaps they just had a hard time setting aside their social differences and that showed in the game.

Whatever the reason, my attempts were less than positive.  But I remember those first days of looking through that book, and trying to get my mind around a game that seemed to give a blank check to my imagination, even the imagination of a teenager or adult. 

It seemed crazy, and yet also one filled with promise.  I'm not sure the promise was fulfilled as we imagined it would be.  But then, I think that about a great many of the breakthroughs from those days.  Heck, I remember when people said getting computers would put an end to paperwork and make things so much faster and easier.  I'm still waiting for that to happen.

Nonetheless, the game that seemed so full of promise to tweak the imagination, especially if you were too old for Cowboys and Indians or Cops and Robbers, broke into my world in a hazy, lazy study hall my freshman year, just as Reagan was moving on from his would be assassin and Disco seemed a thing of the past.  Whatever promise it had, or why it elicited such pushback from an almost universal coalition against it, I don't know.  But at one point, at least, it seemed to say that despite all of our modern advancements, it might still be our own creativity and time shared with others that brings the most joy and happiness.  Just a reflection on things as I get ready to enter my 54th year in this old life. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Why I don't do Twitter

 In one easy picture:

This was shown me because of my focus on the growing love we have for American Indian culture.  With a blank slate, we celebrate 'Indigenous Peoples'.  I've said I would never support a celebration of 'European Peoples' because that's too broad, and could include too many things that shouldn't be celebrated.  When it comes to Europe, that's clearly the belief held by many today.  Europe, Christianity, America - all evil, all bad, no way can they be celebrated.  But American Indians?  Why, 100% celebration there.

Partly this is due to American Indian activists not being beholden to the old Christian notion of repentance and confession of sins.  That is something unique to the Christian West.  Most cultures and societies don't spend their time beating up on their ancestors, their heritage, their culture or their people.  So American Indian activists can promote their own heritage 100%, condemn anything from Europe 100%, and increasingly be given the free megaphone to do so.

This includes support from a growing number of Christians and Christian leaders, who seem to agree that the Christian West brought bupkis to the New World; not democracy, not civil rights, not sanctity of life, certainly not the Gospel.  In fact, that's the craziest thing.  I get non-believers saying the Gospel is crap and not worth the bad that happened.  But more and more I see Christian - and Catholic - leaders saying the same thing.  And that's a problem if our assessment of the Gospel's worth hits about the same note as non-believers.

We're acting as if things like civil rights, equality and the sanctity of human life - not to mention the Gospel of Jesus Christ - are garbage.  More to the point, a culture that was pre-modern, where matricide, infanticide, patricide, human sacrifice, and its own fair share of genocide and slavery, was just awesome on every level.

So common is this now that one of my sons experienced a debate in his college cultural anthropology class.  The issue of pre-Columbian American culture came around, and their practice of conquest, slavery and human sacrifice came up.  The class held a splendid debate where the conclusion was - who are we to judge?  Ours is the worst culture to ever exist after all.  Plus overpopulation is causing Global Warming.  The Indians had it right.  Keep overpopulation in check.  If their reasoning was a bit on the superstitious level (just like moderns who still believe that God in a manger silliness), the reasoning was quite sound.  You trim off the undesirables, the unwanted, the inconvenient.  You don't need elaborate ceremonies appeasing some fire god today of course.  We have Science.  But the desire to keep too many people from happening was quite sound, and of course to be celebrated - and copied. 

Such is the legacy of what we're seeing with the mantra of 'Indigenous People rock it 100%, not like evil Europeans with their Jesus and democracy and human rights rubbish'.  That is a major problem, and Matt Walsh, who I'm no particular fan of, is right to call it out.  Even if he didn't do a particularly good job of presenting it in a way that would encourage discourse, at least he threw it out there.  A problem with Twitter right there. 

But Mark could have responded with - anything to do with the topic at hand.  He could have said why Walsh is wrong. He could have defended the unqualified celebration of such a culture and its trappings, despite holding 'pro-life' views.  He could have explained that the celebrations should be understood someway, or that it is wrong to give a blank check as many do.

Instead, you get Twittertalk, which means acting like you haven't made it through puberty yet, with variations on 'your mamma's ugly and she wears army boots'.  Just the type of behavior our children in our age of suicide, drugs and depression need to see.  I would expect Mark's reply from someone who has yet to experience adolescence.  And yet that, along with the requisite F-Bombs that define much of his Catholic Social teaching, is about par for the Twitter course.

I believe Social Media has devastated our intelligence, our discourse and our society.  Nowhere is this more evident than Twitter.  After seeing some unfortunate Twitter entries by Dawn Eden, I was happy to see her post that she was taking a break from the platform.  That is good.  Like most carbon based lifeforms, she's better than that.   I see Twitter being a 0% gain in the world of human interaction.  And nothing demonstrates that assessment better than the above image.  Not because it is uniquely bad.  Quiet the contrary, because it it almost universally indicative of how people handle themselves on Twitter.