Monday, October 31, 2022

A little Washington Irving if you please

Fox News, which like the proverbial broken clock can get it right about twice a day, does a nice job unpacking Washington  Irving.  At least on the brief.  I wouldn't say I read Sleepy Hollow every year, but probably every other year I try to catch up on the shenanigans of that itinerant schoolmaster and his rendezvous with destiny. 

There is no direct connection between Sleepy Hollow and Halloween of course.  But the bountiful nature of the autumnal harvest season oozes over the pages of that short story.  I mused before on the connection between abundance and fall that must have existed in the minds of our agrarian forebears.   Fall is fun for us, a nice season, even nostalgia.  But there must have been a time when fall was harvest and harvest was life itself.  At least if it was a good harvest.

Plus, already this fledgling nation was showing signs of prosperity and abundance rarely seen in the annals of human history.  Ichabod gets this.  As he wanders his way toward Katrina's homestead and his fabled night ride, he's more than aware of the wonderful abundance that Fall has bought to the countryside.  Sometimes I think an age in which the sight of fruit pies and apple orchards could invoke such pleasure and gladness would not have been a bad age indeed.  Not that I begrudge the advancements, but perhaps we could find ways to turn back to the important pleasures without having to jettison everything since the steam engine.  

A Halloween reflection: Vampire plagues and progressive Catholics

Early onset vampirism in Salem's Lot: Know the signs!
So for fun this year, I reread Salem’s Lot.  I’m not much of a Steve King fan.  Marcus Grodi once said he believed King to be the greatest American author.  I assumed he meant in modern times.  Since he was my boss at the time, I didn’t debate the statement.  Suffice to say I don't consider King to be near the top of American writers. 

But I do like a couple of his books. One is Salem’s Lot.  It strikes all those little chords: the haunted house, the small town secrets, the cemetery, the vampire hunter team.  Fun stuff.  It also does a neat ‘vampire plague’ spin, being what Dracula wanted to accomplish in London but didn't.

As the story unfolds and the plague of vampires grows, you can see the main characters grapple with reality as they come face to face with pure, legendary evil.  You feel them recoil as one after another, people in the town vanish or, worse, begin to show signs of becoming the latest victims of this plague of evil enveloping their home town.

I thought of that as I reflected on my last discourse with Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong.  I have followed Dave for years.  He did the heavy lifting with Catholic apologetics, often going after unfair or false accusations leveled against the Church.  His was never a blog to read with only two or three minutes to spare.  He would take his time and unpack some pretty hefty issues down to the nitty gritty.  That was more than worth the visits to his website.

For a long time, he also railed against other Catholics who were beginning to draw a line in the sand between good, GOP hating, Francis loving, new pro-life Catholics with stars on their bellies, versus stupid Francis hating Catholics who refuse to get in the progressive line.  More than once he posted long, almost tiresome attempts to reason with these Catholics who gave only one option, and that was to glorify them, the left, Pope Francis, and all that was pure Catholicism 21st Century style or pay the piper. 

Well, that was then.  Below is the discourse I had with him over a post dealing with Vatican II.  The whole of the post is here.  I have posted his end of the article summary, and my response.  My accounts of what happened are in bold, his answers and writings in italics.  The parts with no special font designs were my original posts in his actual comments section:

Brazilian Catholic writer Oliveira Leonardo has decided to start bashing and trashing Vatican II. I defend it and note that his oppositional zeal is utterly misplaced.

To which I responded with this comment:

I don't know, I think the discussion can be had.  I'm not sure the individual in question was claiming 100% of the problems in the Church are Vatican II.  There might be some who think that, but most I've read or listened to don't think that.  In fact, I've heard many not necessarily 'trashing or hashing' Vatican II, but who look at the state of the overall Church and wonder what went right, wrong and downright screwy after Vatican II.  I've heard more than one (including our priest) who clearly supports and celebrates Vatican II, but who also equally admits it was misused and abused by far too many Catholics to simply dismiss the subsequent decades as 'nothing to see here folks.'

I went back to see if there were any responses.  I noticed my comment was missing.  So I posted a question about what happened to it.  Seeing my question appear, I reposted my original comment.  Then I returned a day or so later and saw all of my comments were removed.  So I asked what’s up. And then Dave  answered:

I don't allow anti-Vatican II rhetoric on my pages unless I am in the mood for debating it (as I did in this exchange). Just take it somewhere else. I've had enough of it.

At that point, I responded:

Wait, was that my post? It couldn't have been, since it wasn't 'anti-Vatican II rhetoric' by any stretch of the phrase. All I said was the discussion about Vatican II can be had, and that most I know don't trash Vatican II as much as they try to figure what went wrong in the following decades. Which is true. So where did my comments go? I don't see them. Again, since again my posts were in no way close to 'anti-Vatican II rhetoric' I can't figure where they end up going.

Dave then responded:

That was my decision on my web page. If you don't like it, you can lump it.

With that pleasant little response, I answered thus:

You may do as you wish of course.  I wouldn't advise it since we've seen where others have ended up going with 'I have posted, now agree or be deleted.'  Mark Shea, of course, leaps to mind.  Best not to have comments at all if the only thing commenters are allowed to do is agree.   But again, despite seeing where others have gone with that approach, if that's where you wish to go, it is your blog.

Dave then responded once again:

If you bitch about it one more time, that'll be three strikes and you're out. What you are doing is universally agreed upon as trolling: continuing to strongly disagree on the policy of a site (how someone chooses to run his own pages), when the owner has made his view clear, that it crosses a line. Webmasters are benevolent dictators in their own domains. You don't like that? Get your own site and work for 29 years to build up name recognition, as I have.

You can pretend I am against free speech if you like. I guess that would be why I have 1,000+ dialogues, with my opponents' view (often, their complete article) on display for my readers. It's a standard lie when someone disagrees with me. Feel free to join the crowd there and make a fool of yourself.

I've dealt with THIS stuff for 25 years. St. Paul tells us to separate from contentious people. No one who is ever being contentious and divisive admits that he is.

This is my way of applying his command, while I still occasionally debate the issues, as I did in the OP.

With that, I then answered:

Well, there's not much I can say is there. Though I will say I had no intention of claiming you are against free speech. You might want to dial back the assumptions on that one. I would ask that you wait for me to do something before you begin piling on the problems with me if I do it. My only statement was questioning the wisdom of giving combox commenters no choice but to agree, given the track record of that approach to online discourse. Nonetheless, as you say, it is your blog and you may do with it as you wish. I'll respect your right to do so and drop the subject.

Dave then answered this way:

Wise choice. I just wrote elsewhere:

I have been totally banned for years at reactionary sites like The Remnant and Taylor Marshall's trash site. Peter Kwasniewski used to talk with me a bit. Now I am banned on his site, etc. One Peter Five banned me (under Skojec) when they had comments.

I only ban people who are persistently uncivil and hostile and won't follow my discussion rules: NOT because of what they believe. But I don't allow Vatican II-bashing or pope-bashing.

Certain folks call that "censorship." I call it Catholicism and Catholic unity.

"Best not to have comments at all if the only thing commenters are allowed to do is agree." If this lie from h e l l is NOT claiming I am against free speech on my blog, then we must have totally different brains, logic, and understandings of grammar and sentence meanings.

My final response, and my final comment on Dave’s social media platforms, was this:

With that, I'll leave you to it.

It’s worth noting this was not Dave Armstrong, c. 2006 when I first ran into him.  Or for that matter, it wasn’t him in 2016, ten years later.  It is, it should be pointed out, very similar to the likes of Mark Shea by 2016. 

I was informed it was becoming Dave Armstrong a couple years or so ago.  That was after Dave had a eureka moment, realized Pope Francis was absolutely right about banning the death penalty, came to realize the wonders of Pope Francis, and began banning people who hadn’t seen the light.  

I posted on this phenomenon of Catholics warming up to Pope Francis and growing in their intolerance of those who fail to agree, and how this was part of the war on EWTN waged by Pope Francis and his followers.  Not that those on the left, progressive Catholics or fans of Pope Francis are the only ones who do this.  But it seems an almost universal trait among those who are in those camps.

Because of that, I mentioned Dave was starting to sound strangely Sheaish in his dealings, which is never a good thing.  Dave visited my blog and protested that I had wrongly portrayed his approach to things.  He said this, despite the fact that I was going by people who he had banned for merely disagreeing with Pope Francis.  I accepted his perspective and figured fine, if he’s not going the direction that almost every Catholic who throws in with Pope Francis or progressive leanings seems to go, I’ll concede the point.

But now it’s this.  It’s like the feeling Ben Mears and Susan Norton have in Salem’s Lot as they begin to see more and more of the town show symptoms of being vampires.  As one after another shows the signs – bothered by sunlight, tired, sick feeling, strange dreams – they recoil all the more, for they know where this vermin plague of vampirism goes.

As I watch so many follow Pope Francis and inevitably end up going in the same direction in terms of intolerant behavior and vitriolic treatment of others; as I see so many jump in bed with the emerging Left, who inevitably follow the similar ‘I have spoken, celebrate or be banned’, I get the same feeling.  If it was just vampirism it wouldn't be so bad.  I fear it is much, much worse. 

Saturday, October 29, 2022

I cheat

We actually stock up on about 50/50 ration of Cheaapy McCheapface, but then mix it with The Trusty Provider and a dose of The Old Timer (we liked those butterscotch chews).  It makes it look better and gives the impression of Trusty Provider without the cost.  

I should mention I always keep very soft, easily melts-in-your-mouth type candies for the youngest toddlers and infants.  Nothing like jawbreakers or chewy taffy for them.  Otherwise we typically have enough to grab a handful and dump it in the kids' bags.  

My boys say there were two houses of legend in our part of the neighborhood when they were growing up.  One house, cattycorner to our backyard and facing the street beside us, was the award winner.  It was The Legend.  Their house is the nicest around, and they handed out full size candy bars, Twix, Kit Kats, you name it. And they did it in handfuls.  And second was our house, because we literally would dump a cup worth of candy into each bag (two cups if the kid was alone - I have a soft spot).  Not bad if you think on it. 

Though if I had it to do over again, I'd definitely go for The Spaz.  Something about that made me laugh.  

Friday, October 28, 2022

It's very simple

Apparently Nancy Pelosi's house was broken into and her husband assaulted.  We don't know the motives, though the attacker has been arrested.  Perhaps it was politically motivated.  It certainly wouldn't be the first in recent years.  Politicians being confronted, mobbed and even attacked has become more common over the last few years.  Meanwhile protests and violent threats against the SCOTUS since the Roe decision leak have also become a common story.

This all speaks to an unraveling society. It's wrong, of course.  Whether R or D, or SCOTUS or POTUS, there is no reason for violence, threat or intimidation at this stage.  That's why it should always be condemned, not just when it impacts our own party.  Do it only when it's against your own side, and you might as well join the next mob and hie to the attack.  

Hopefully her husband is OK and not injured too badly.  As long as we are consistent in our ethic, that is all we should concern ourselves with. 

Food for thought: The heresy of one issue Catholics

That's something I've seen posted on St. Blogs over the years.  So called 'New Prolife Catholics' say it's a heresy to boil the whole of the Catholic Faith down to a single issue.  By that, they usually mean abortion.  As in, Pro-Lifers say there is nothing that matters except abortion. Clearly there are important parts of the Faith that don't have to do with abortion.  Therefore, Pro-Lifers are heretics.  

The funny thing?  I notice most 'New Pro-life Catholics', or if you prefer 'Seamless Garment Catholics', do just that.  They just do it in reverse.  That is, they insist abortion is not the only thing that matters ... and then proceed to say nothing about anything else, at least to the left of center.  

Abortion isn't all that matters becomes abortion doesn't matter at all.  Pope Francis might call abortion child murder, but it doesn't seem to be a deal breaker with him.  From there, we learn nothing else matters either.  How about leftwing and Democrat Catholics and underage transgender surgeries, which are now not only admitted to but celebrated on the Left?  What about the continued peddling of the sex culture, or sexing up kids? What about the rise in using pre-natal testing to discover, and eliminate, babies with possible disabilities?  How about embryonic stem cell research, which is still a thing?  How about the suicide rights and right to die platform?  Thoughts on non-white racism against non-whites?  Heck, how about Catholics rejecting the fundamental teachings of the Church regarding such favorites as the nature of the Eucharist or salvation through Christ?  All of these things find friendship, if not party platform support, from the political and ideological Left. 

Do these 'whole life Catholics' ever speak to these things?  I've not seen them.  If you try to get them to speak to them you're accused of 'whataboutism' or deflection or some such.  They're usually content with pointing out that abortion is not  their only issue, therefore they are truly 'whole life' because of their politics.  Yet, in a weird way, they seem to have made not making abortion their only issue into their only issue; the one position that taketh away the sins of the left that no longer need confronted.  I find that amusing when I think on it. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

RIP Jules Bass

Jules Bass, of the famous Rankin/Bass productions, has died.  

What kid my age didn't wait with eager anticipation for the avalanche of Christmas specials that came our way in the month of December?  While the best was A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rankin/Bass did yeoman's work cashing in on the American Christmas story and bringing it into every living room possible.

As a kid I looked forward to them.  Mostly because they were my own visual advent calendar marking off the days to Christmas proper.  I remember watching different ones, though I don't think I paid much attention to them.  I did watch Grinch, Charlie Brown (and his Halloween offering The Great Pumpkin).   Those kept my attention. 

The Rankin/Bass were, on the other hand, something I tuned into and then spent part of the time watching or doing other things.  In later years it was easy to see the quality differences.  Some, it turns out, were quite charming and fun to watch, even as an adult.  Others were tough to endure.  It might be Christian bias, but The Little Drummer Boy is a favorite, even with the contrived plot.  After all, it does ultimately center around that baby in a manger.

Which is something, in the end, that the R/B catalogue featured very little.  There were some allusions in Santa Clause is Coming to Town.  The previously mentioned Drummer Boy of course.  But that was about it.  Unless there was some obscure R/B special I'm unaware of, that was about all we got from the Gospel.

Most of the R/B specials, in fact, hammered home that modernist message of messages: Christmas, it turns out, does come from a store.  Or at least Santa's workshop.  Takeaway Santa, you lose the toys.  Lose the toys, and no Christmas this year!  Even Seuss broke from that Wall Street narrative to point out Christmas can at least mean something beyond the packages, boxes and bags.

But not in the R/B catalogue.  Most of the specials were very clear: Christmas is all about getting gifts from Santa. Whether depression or bad weather, whatever keeps Santa from his appointed rounds jeopardizes Christmas itself.  Because there is no other reason for Christmas but gifts from Santa.

I guess it's because it was the 1960s culture and beyond that so many families, including church families, had no problem with the messaging.  In hindsight, it wasn't the best.  Plus, there were often decent enough messages to be found, even if they were often wrapped up in a 60's countercultural packaging.

R/B did other things than Christmas specials.  Chief among those, and my personal favorite, was their 1977 turn with Tolkien's masterful children's book The HobbitI've posted on that more than once.  Always prisoners of the 'television children's time slot', they nonetheless managed to put together a fine, albeit simplified, version of Tolkien's work.  One that inspired me to eventually find and read the book, and in a way that didn't disappoint.  And that's not bad.  In many ways I owe my love for Tolkien to the R/B team, and that's saying something. 

So whatever messaging may have gone amiss, it did lead to many years of childhood memories and a love of Tolkien.  And those memories and that love continued with my sons.  After all, without R/B, we wouldn't have our annual trashfest of Frosty the Snowman, and that would be a loss!   Thanks, then, for all the memories Mr. Bass, and RIP. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

An interesting annivesrary

Over at The American Catholic, Don McCleary does his usual quality unpacking of the more famous anniversary associated with today.   The Battle of Agincourt is known for many reasons, not the least being its immortalization in Shakespeare's Henry V.  

But it also marks the first day in which Japan unleashed its last desperate measure against the American advance in the Pacific War.  It was on this day, in the Philippine Sea, that the dreaded kamikazes first arrived over the US Fleet.  Though they failed to stop the US, they did tremendous damage - far more than the remnants of the Japanese fleet - and struck terror into the hearts of US seamen and US citizens hearing of the attacks back home.

I've said that by the time I entered high school, WWII was ancient history.  In fact, pretty much anything before about 1970 was treated as ancient days of yore, with the 70s being a decade of nostalgic memories and bad taste.*  WWII, except for the decade anniversaries (1981, 91, etc), was largely the domain of old white haired guys musing about the good old days. 

The real war of wars of my youth was Vietnam.  It was in the late 70s and through the 1980s that we spent most of our time grappling with this first loss in American history and what it might mean for the future of the Cold War.  But WWII?  Again, that was the stuff Archie Bunker prattling on about, not serious veterans remembering the true horrors of war.  Most of WWII was, after all, brought to us in vivid B&W, while movies like Apocalypse Now, The Deer Hunter and Platoon brought Vietnam home in all the gory detail of post-70s realism. 

So it was quite a wake up when, in my college days, I came to realize kamikazes were more than the punch line they usually were reserved for in pop culture.  When you heard them referenced at all, it was in connection with some joke or witticism.  It wasn't until studying the war in college that I came to realize how horrifying they were both for US servicemen and their loved ones on the home front.  

Nonetheless, I had no idea that the first attacks coincided with the anniversary of Agincourt.  Given the famous speech Shakespeare ascribes to Henry V, I wonder if the decision to launch on this day was not known and intentional.  Certainly the events of the war suggested it was coincidence.  But the day being so precise, it makes me wonder.  Future reading will be in order. 

*My sons have maintained this is why a 'Back to the Future' 2025 would not work.  Just how much real difference is there between 1995 and 2025, compared to 1985 and 1955?  Like it or not, they maintain progress has more or less stagnated over the last few decades, compared to the leaps and bounds changes that happened from the 1780s all the way through the 1970s.  When I think on things, I believe they are more right than we might want to admit. 

The last flight of kamikaze commander Yukio Seki, and his handiwork: the sinking of the USS St. Lo.
Surigao Strait, October 25, 1944

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Happy Birthday to our oldest!

Every parent's query: Where have the years gone
It's hard to believe after all these years.  As Protestants, we were free to take extensive measures to avoid a pregnancy early on in our marriage.  My main goal was to complete my masters degree before we began the process of family building.  But, alas, God would have no part of it.  Despite every possible precaution within reason, we discovered on a chilly morning in January in the mid-90s that we were going to be parents.  

My wife fussed to her OB/GYN that we had done everything by the book - the Atomic Clock has a larger margin of error - and yet here we are.  Her OB/GYN just chuckled and said something that was supposed to be humorous, but was rather profound if you think on it: 'Someone has to make up the statistics'.  That's great for a punch line but, let's face it, it's a fact our modern world avoids dealing with like the plague.  

Anyhoo, becoming first time parents we kicked into hyper-drive. First up?  We were living in student housing sans washer and dryer (that's because the housing was rather shabby, and such appliances had a tendency of crashing through the upper floors).  The bottom floor apartments had them, but not the upper floors, which is where we lived.  The thought of spending the first years as parents in a laundry mat around the clock just gave me the shakes. 

So I began an Andy Dupree strategy of pestering the housing department at the school so we could move to a bottom floor apartment before our baby was born.  Every day I would go to the office and ask 'Is there an opening on the first floor?, Is There An Opening On The First Floor??, IS THERE AN OPENING ON THE FIRST FLOOR???'.  Heh.  I do believe they got sick of seeing me every day.  That's why, in August, we were informed they would move us to the top of the list so we got the next bottom floor apartment that opened up. 

Meanwhile we continued with the usual: Dr. Spock, birthing classes, getting the nursery prepared (the first of many times I would lose my office), and prepping for the big event.  Then it happened.  And after 38 hours of labor for my wife, and about twenty gallons of coffee for me, our oldest made his big entrance.  I appreciate people who adopt children, or raise children as their own even if they've never had any themselves.  They are champs in my eyes.

But nothing will match the feeling of being a parent and seeing your child born before your very eyes, especially for the first time.  We already had seen the rather grainy ultrasounds.  Even in those primitive images we saw his customary stubbornness on full display.  As the technician would attempt to get him to cooperate with the imaging, we would watch him push back with his little hands and feet with a willfulness my wife and I would learn all too well over the years.  But seeing him the moment he was born - words will never do justice.

Not that it's been easy.  Our oldest has in many ways born the brunt of many ill fortunes.  Beyond having to be our learning curve, he was also hit with several health issues in his early days.  We got to be personal friends with his pediatrician (it didn't hurt that we were among his first patients).  In and out of hospitals and doctors' offices, surgery, medicines galore, and health scares well into his early teens, he kept us hopping.  He also showed a quiet resiliency and determination through it all that I came to admire.

A reserved, solitary soul, he bounced around ideas for life into late high school and beyond, when his love of cooking (and his skill at cooking) became center stage.  It was then he decided a career as a gourmet chef would be a great way to spend a life, and began plans accordingly.  

But it was not to be.  Just as he was poised to begin his culinary education proper, he was blindsided by a fatal seafood allergy.  So bad is it that he can't be near a lake when people are fishing, or be in a Walmart if they are cleaning the seafood counters on the other side of the store.  Needless to say, he can't eat a a restaurant that serves any seafood (most restaurants).  He can't even be near when someone is eating tuna or salmon.  Exactly  how that will play out in his career if he works with others who bring lunches is something we've not figured yet.

It took him a while to figure out what to do, as the culinary school was blunt and honest that if he wants to be a chef, he'll have to do it on his own. No school would be able, or willing, to accommodate such a risky disability.  Knowing the limits, and seeing himself as young enough to change, he decided to keep trudging on in school while he figured things out.

He has now, as he has made it through school and is poised to graduate.  A born student, he's accumulated a GPA that would open any door to any graduate school, even the Ivy League variety.  I won't mention his actual vocational plans, but I do know that he's wondering how the strange number of courses dealing with Africa and the Middle East that seemed to come his way will figure into them.  

All in all, he's been more than a blessing, as all the boys have been.  Not perfect of course.  Who is?  But in terms of first children, we couldn't have done better.  He's often my right hand man and go to when it comes to leaning on someone to step in when I'm not around.  He possesses a strong sense of himself, a strong faith, and an ability to keep his head on straight that has gotten him through much in life.  

Several years ago, my wife and I went on a rare date together.  The boys were home watching over my mom for us.  We went to a new Italian place that opened down the road.   About halfway into the meal, my phone rang.  I answered and it was my oldest.  With almost deadpan delivery, he merely said, "I think there's a problem.  The stove exploded."   If you want panic, you should have seen me bolting out of the restaurant.  But him?  He made it sound no more unusual than asking if we could pick up milk on the way home.  That's our boy.  So happy birthday and a year's blessings ahead ... and thanks for being the first child we needed!

Praying or waiting to eat - either way, a nice pic that captures the 'him'

Friday, October 14, 2022

At this point Mark Shea deserves our prayers

And nothing more, for there is nothing more we can do. Prayers for him, and prayers that faithful Christians will not be spiritually corrupted by his false gospel:

Or temporally harmed by his false accusations:

And to quote Forrest Gump, that's all I have to say about that.

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast into Hell, Satan and all the other evil spirits, who wander throughout the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

RIP Angela Lansbury

Angela Lansbury has died.

The first time I likely encountered Ms. Lansbury was in the 1972 children's movie Bedknobs and Broomsticks.  My mom took me to see it when it came out.  A desperate bid by the House of Mouse to recapture the magic of Mary Poppins in a post-Walt world, I vaguely remember seeing it.

I later became acquainted with her work in the popular series Murder, She Wrote.  It, along with Matlock and The Golden Girls, became part of what hipster boomers back in the day called the geriatric nights on television.  Even though I wasn't around home then, my mom and dad liked those shows so it was natural I had a chance to see them on television when I was visiting. 

Like many things, I remember plenty of mockery aimed at the those shows.  Mockery from a generation that they clearly didn't imagine they would some day be in the same age group.  See the same contempt leveled at an elderly Frank Sinatra's 1990 concert tour since 74 years old was just too old to be wandering about a stage singing. You have to hand it to a generation that has spent decades deriding what it is destined to become. 

Years later I discovered she was more than merely an actress capable of playing doting moms and kindly senior citizens.  For my sons, and in the early days of my relationship with my wife, she voiced Mrs. Potts in Disney's Beauty and the Beast.  But in the 1944 film Gaslight, she's almost slappable as the snide while sultry maid who helps drive Ingrid Bergman half mad.  

Of course one of her stand out roles, and a role that elevated her to a level of villain able to make Darth Vader squirm, was as the cold, heartless mother of Lawrence Shaw in The Manchurian Candidate.  Playing a woman so filled with hate mixed with arrogance that she believed she could bring both sides of the Cold War to their knees, you can't watch that without marveling that she was able to play anything but a calculating killer.

I know little of her private life, and perhaps that's a good indicator that she had a life not worth knowing about.  In the entertainment industry, that is cherished virtue.  In any event, she played a big part in a specific time in my life and the life of my parents.  Her influence fell over the early years of my young family, and I came to appreciate her all the more as I found other roles she played in a variety of productions. 

For all of that, and simply because, may she rest in peace.  

Monday, October 10, 2022

NPR helps celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day

By posting a silly map that shows who took the land our European ancestors eventually settled on.  Of course that's not the way it's framed.  In the anti-Western narrative, the people who were here had magically appeared and remained in the same places for about 20 thousand years until the first Europeans arrived.  See here for a treatment of that narrative.  

All in all, what we are learning about our past would no doubt have made Joseph Stalin or Nikita Khrushchev very happy.  The shocking thing is how many in the West seem to be made happy with this narrative as well. 

How we lost the West

I recently mused on this, I think the earliest piece I did on the anti-Western narratives becoming common in our nation.  Back then there were plenty of anti-Columbus types.  You had that when I was in college.  I've often said my generation straddles that shift from 'Columbus as brave explorer bringing the bounty of Western benefits to the New World' to 'Columbus, slave owning genocidal racist inflicting Nazi horror on a Utopian paradise..'  

Truth  be told, it wasn't to that second part quite yet when I was in college, or even graduate school in the 1990s.   But the roots were there, and on the fringe of scholarship and sociopolitical activism you could see that narrative taking shape and gaining acceptance. 

Now, of course, Columbus is popularly seen in the same camp as Hitler or Himmler or Billy Graham or any other Euro-American Christian.  Here in central Ohio, there is a small, but vocal and growing, movement to change the name of our capital city.  At least one local news network no longer speaks of Columbus, but uses the name 'C-Bus' instead.  The old Santa Maria replica that was downtown was taken away years ago, long before my youngest was able to visit.  Columbus State Community College joined the city of Columbus and removed its statue of Columbus that once adorned the front of teh main buildings.  And across the country cities and states are celebrating 'Indigenous Peoples Day' in lieu of Columbus Day.  Just as we're hearing calls to replace Thanksgiving with a National Day of Mourning. 

In terms of historical developments, this is pretty fast action.  I think one of the great failures of those guardians of our heritage and values was that we confused not assuming worst motives with assuming no motives.  In any event, it's likely that in a few more years Columbus Day will be a thing of the past, as well positive references of Jefferson, Lincoln, Washington, and anything to do with America's - or Europe's - history. 

Again, I believe the speed with which this has all developed caught most people - even more conservative types - off guard.  Many never believed we'd live to see the end to almost everything to do with the Christian West.  And not only that, but we'd see them increasingly endorsed by all of the institutions that will mandate and determine what future generations learn about reality. 

Friday, October 7, 2022

Fun is the one thing that money can buy

With all due respect to The Beatles.  

And buy it did. 

After several years of hiatus, we took the family back to the Ohio Renaissance Festival.  We first went there the year our third son was born.  Back then it was a smaller affair.  A few thousand were in attendance on most days, and much of the grounds was empty and spacious with plenty of room to stretch out and enjoy. 

This time, however, there was an ocean of people.  If you told me 30,000 were in attendance I'd believe you.  It made it a bit tough.   You had to arrive at events an hour in advance if you wanted anything close to good seating.  Additionally there was no room to do anything.  Even a formerly large open commons area was now cluttered with booths and stalls, with thousands gathered and sitting anywhere they could. So bad were the crowds that we didn't even eat our obligatory faux Medieval helpings.  The lines to the concession areas were in excess of an hour each.  

We don't know why it was so crowded, other than it was the first year the festival was back in full gear since Covid.  In 2019, the last year we went, it was already getting crowded.  We commented then on the diminishing space and time available due to the crowds.  After all, it now is big enough for full television spots and heavy advertising the season through.  When I first heard about it when we lived in Louisville in the mid-90s, I had to scrounge to find any information (which is why it wasn't until 2000 that we went). But this year? Nothing before came close. 

Nonetheless, despite it all, we had as good a time as we could.  The jousting was good, though one of the jousters seemed a little under-par in terms of abilities.  The Swordsmen (Bold and Stupid Men!), one of the headline acts from the beginning, were as fun as ever, though they're obviously showing their age.  I told one of them (Dirk - the Daring!) that we first caught their show the year our third son was born - pointing to  our hulking son behind me.  He thanked me for the reminder of time's passing.  We do believe they intended to wrap things up on their 30th anniversary (which would have been 2020).  In 2019, they emphasized more than usual that everyone must come back for their big tour in 2020.  We assumed then they were retiring.  Now I'll bet they're going until their 35th year and then will call it quits.  Again, it's not hard to see the difference from over the years. 

We caught a new act, some Moonie fellow who juggled and did various tricks.  It was made better by an audience member he pulled up on stage. If that audience member wasn't a plant, then he needs to join the act.  Never have I seen a random audience member steal the show like that (at one point the performer sat down with the audience and told him the show is his). 

There was shopping and browsing of course, but again always pressed by the crowds.  Plus my wife still has her limits on what she can do in terms of exertion.  The big bonus this year was bringing our son's fiancĂ©e to the festival for the first time.  Despite the crazy crowds she seemed to have had a splendid time.  That was our hope.  The rest of us certainly enjoyed it, and the usual souvenirs, handmade leather pouches, and authentic swords were purchased.  

Our youngest and oldest bought display swords, and our second oldest bought some fancy leather pouches for his expanding costume.  I, for one, come dressed as a middle aged Ohio State football fan - the extent of my cosplaying. Though my wife has hinted she wouldn't mind dressing up.  If she does, then it will be a Medieval themed lass walking about with a middle aged Ohio State football fan.  For the moment, she and I were content with two souvenir soup bowls.  I guess we're at that age.  My third oldest, of course, had to go all out and buy a massive two handed sword along with a handmade leather sheath.  

After a brief walk through a very dilapidated maze, and some taking in of the sights, as well as throwing of the knives, we called it a wrap.  My wife was tired and food was needed.  In keeping with the Medieval theme, we finally stopped at a Pizza Hut on the way home.  All in all, a fine day and a good one.  I won't say it was like old times, because it wasn't.  But it was new old times with a soon to be new member of the family, and that's not bad at all.  

No Renaissance Festival should ever be attended outside of Fall.  The weather was nearly perfect: clouds enough to keep the sun from baking us, cool enough for jackets but just enough warmth from the sun to keep us comfortable.  

A portent of things to come.  It took us almost 25 minutes to get in the gates, and that was after arriving a half hour after opening.  Usually by then you just stroll in. 

The family ready for the first event of the day, and the ultimate crowd pleaser: The full armor joust

My wife caught this shot of the two more capable riders approaching each other.

In the next round, I caught the two at the moment of impact.

We saw this show waiting for the Swordsmen.  We had never seen him before.  His humor wasn't always G-rated (but then it often isn't at the festival).  He was impressive, but more impressive was the audience member (in the black t-shirt) he pulled up on stage.  We call that a spotlight stealer. 

The Bold and Stupid Men!  The Swordsmen were so popular the stage was named for them.  They have been one of the main draws there (and at other similar venues) since the 1990s. Alas, they do less now, owing to the passing of time.  Far more joking, though there was more swordsplay than in recent years. 

For reference, this was the Swordsmen with the boys almost ten years ago.  Again, time does pass. 

For food it was a couple bowls of ramen for those who couldn't wait, and sit where you can find a place.  The ramen had several degrees of spice.  We ordered the least spicy.  One bite and my mouth burned for half the day.  I can't imagine what the spiciest was like. 

Don't let the forlorn image fool you.  Our oldest is the official keeper of the family traditions.  Not that the other boys don't care, but he's the one that moves heaven and three earths to make sure the Griffey family traditions are kept and maintained through the years. 

Good timing: The exact moment when my third oldest was informed that our soon to be daughter-in-law actually made her dress by hand.  They were waiting for a glass blowing demonstration that, alas, didn't take place (we have bad luck with glass blowing demonstrations). 

They were supposed to be smiling for the camera, but a passerby decided to intervene and steal the show, so to speak.  Kudos to a couple of the boys for trying to keep their composure and ignore the distraction. 

This was the culprit. 

The theme of the weekend was dress as your favorite fictional character.  So naturally an entire troupe of individuals came dressed as every Dr. Who since the beginning of the show. It wasn't tough getting them to pose.  

While my oldest stayed back with my wife, the others tried their hands at knife throwing.  I think one hit somewhere on the wall.  The one time my wife tried her hand at knife throwing, on the other hand, yielded a bull's-eye right out of the starting gate.  I suppose that says something about raising four sons. 

There's something relaxing about pizza at a pizza place after a long, albeit enjoyable, day.  It didn't hurt that the manager showed the right way to make a restaurant awesome, even as it struggles with the whole post-pandemic upheaval so many businesses are dealing with. 

And so the sun set on another Griffey outing.  It was fun and we made memories, which is the stuff that matters.  Plus, we had someone extra join us this time, and the day was all the more enjoyable because of it.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Neither liberal nor Christain

I submit this link from our local Columbus Dispatch.  It's an editorial from several individuals criticizing a state resolution that would allow parents to know what their children are learning in public schools.  The bill would also make sure parents were in on discussions involving their own children and any gender topics.  Whether the bill delves into transgender athletes or bathrooms, I don't know. It might, given the references in the editorial.  

Rather than comment, I simply copied a few parts that jumped out at me.  I bold lettered things that I felt spoke louder than the words used, and underlined phrases that are particularly telling, IMO. 

All of this shows we are dealing with followers of a new, alternate reality; believers in a new universe with little in common with what we ever imagined to be true.  And it is a reality quickly being acted on and mandated in our society by threat or retaliation.  Any negative consequences of this new reality are ignored or dismissed. There is nothing Christian to this, and the below rhetoric shows it is no more liberal or tolerant than it is Christian. 

Click on the link (if you can - subscription usually required) and read the whole thing.  Though I think the below sections speak for themselves (the italicized part was the intro that describes the three authors of the editorial):  

Ben Huelskamp (he/they) is the executive director of LOVEboldly. Hank Osmundson (he/him) is the executive director of Unitarian Universalist Justice Ohio and pastor of Community Engagement at St. John’s UCC in Columbus. Jon Osmundson (he/him) is associate pastor at Hilliard UMC and a father of six, four of whom attend public school

In his official biography on the State Board of Education website, [Brendan] Shea is described in terms of his faith as an “active parishioner in St. Patrick Church,” “the founder and president of the Madison County Right to Life,” and enjoying “Bible study” in his free time.

Shea may read his Bible, but he clearly needs to study it further. Because of people like Shea and their attacks on the LGBTQIA+ community from a perspective called “faith,” Christians have earned a reputation as anti-LGBTQIA+.

However, many Christians believe that a faithful Christian response does not allow for the homophobia and transphobia that Shea’s resolution demonstrates.

A Christian cannot hold a position that educators must out students to their parents based on any identity including sexual orientation and gender identity. [My note: this is key, and a revealing statement that shows exactly what they want]

As Christians, we believe that there is only one Savior [My note: From what, I wonder]. Given Shea’s bold pronouncement that he is a Christian, too, we can only assume that he agrees. Therefore, we are mystified why he and other self-proclaimed Christians are deeming themselves to be the saviors of cisgender children and adults from transgender people run amok, lest we forget the Target restroom uproar of 2016.

To be clear, we are an educator, a parent, theologians, and pastors. We are not scientists, psychologists, or medical doctors. We do, however, trust science. Thus, we feel it is important to point out that the fear-inducing rhetoric concerning the safety of cisgender people if trans people are allowed access to restrooms that match their gender identity is misplaced and false. Just one of the many examples is this 2019 study from Harvard University and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

When Shea next has free time and turns to his Bible, perhaps he will turn to Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:40: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me