Friday, June 30, 2023

Octoberfest in June?

We've never had candles burn down that quickly
As I wrote here, our half of the year begins on June 25.  The last big day, apart from the anniversary of Dobbs and the end of America's national sanctification of abortion on an industrial scale, is Fathers Day.  The first big day is our third oldest son's birthday.

This year, owing to conflicting schedules and the difficulty with getting folks together that comes with kids getting older and life moving on, we celebrated his birthday on the Sunday before.  That is, on June 25th.  His birthday comes later, but we figured that would work.  

It was a nice time.  Not a milestone birthday, but a birthday nonetheless.  Also we now include our daughter-in-law and her scheduling needs just the same.  And that's a nice addition to the festivities. 

Traditionally he has been the one to give my culinarily gifted oldest son fits.  It's always been tradition for the individual with the birthday to name the meal.  For him, he loves picking cuisines to push our oldest to the limits.  He has done Indian, Sub-Saharan African, Hawaiian, and British/Irish among others over the years. 

This year he was rather late coming up with an idea.  He's been chomping at the bit for a promotion.  He is already management, but he's eyeing the next rung on the ladder.  Therefore he sees working his tail off, taking on as many hours as he can, and working whenever needed as a good way to buttress his resume.  Hence the lack of time to think about something like birthday dinners.

Then, at the eleventh hour, he came up with his request - Eastern European/German.  That was a new one.  With little time to spare, my oldest and I put together a menu.  We assumed shoot for English style - but with sauerkraut.  Despite a little German in my background, it's never been our cultural reference point.  That would be Irish, with some American Indian, especially for my wife's side of the family. 

Nonetheless, after a little putting our heads together we came up with a decent menu.  Not a light menu by any stretch.  Germanic and Eastern European food, let's just say, has a 'stick to your ribs' quality about it.  Lots of sausages and potatoes.  The focal dish was Sauerbraten, somewhat improvised due to the lateness of the request.  It's beef that is marinated for a hundred years, then served doused with a toothsome gravy (Tolkien reference there).  Instead, my son cooked it within the gravy to get some of the taste.  It worked.  Other dishes included the aforementioned sauerkraut and sausages, extra sausages as sides, Hasselback potatoes, a traditional currywurst, stuffed cabbage, pumpernickel bread (not bad with the gravy), proper German beer for those who wanted it, and a delicious homemade apple strudle.  As my second son quipped when they walked in the door, he could 'almost smell the fascism.' 

Altogether a good day.  Sunday itself was nice, with our priest rallying the troops for the big abortion fight here in the Buckeye State, and inspiring the boys accordingly.  Plus our most excellent Bishop Fernandes also lit a fire by telling his flock to stop letting the world tell us to shut up.  My birthday boy was rather taken by that, having gone through much of his Catholic life without hearing such commitment to the cause of virtue and righteousness.

And, it being his birthday, he was allowed to relax, chill, play games and pick the fun.  Including a new game called Go that he received among his other gifts.  Apparently it's an ancient game that's becoming popular again.  My rascally daughter-in-law was the only one, other than our birthday boy, who knew of it.  Making me and the rest of the family of game players feel sheepish.  

With cake and deserts and beverages galore, a nice kickoff to the second half.  At times like this we realize how nice and precious it is to have my mom with us, and she enjoyed herself as well.  Despite her age and cognitive condition, in an interesting twist, she always recognizes her new granddaughter-in-law.  Which makes the fun even better.  Even if we learned that Eastern cooking requires a monumental level of cookware that will take the next two days to get cleaned.  

So there you have it.   Not a bad way to get things going.  The real Independence Day will be just around the corner, and then comes our youngest's birthday, coinciding with the anniversary of the Moon Landings.   

A spliced picture, because apparently seven people can't sit still at the same time
Why does our birthday boy put me in mind of Terry Gilliam?


Thursday, June 29, 2023

What anti-racism should look like


Anti-racism, like social justice, marriage equality, or reproductive health, is a good thing. Anti-racism is good.  So is social justice.  Marriage equality could be good, too.  Reproductive health.  Who would be against it?

But we all know these are political buzz phrases used by the Left to mean, well, what the Left says they mean on any given day:  Anti-white racism, Marxist inspired leftwing political activism, sexual amorality, and pro-abortion advocacy.  Mantras that must be repeated or be deemed an enemy of the Left. 

In the video above, however, we have a wonderful explanation for why the discrimination against whites, the judgementalism against whites, the condemnation of whites simply for being white, all promoted in the name of anti-racism, is every bit as racist as anything the Nazis pulled in the 1930s.  What the young man says here is authentic anti-racism, and the type that should be embraced every bit as much as we would embrace anti-Nazism.  Sadly, that is not the case among far too many, including those who otherwise see this for what it is.  

Let's face it.  There is little to suggest that those embracing this latest incarnation of racism today would have done any different in the Jim Crow South or Germany in the 30s and 40s.  Sorry, but that's the fact of the matter.  It takes nothing to stand up to the sins of the past, but sometimes everything to stand up to the sins of the present.  Failure to stand up against the sins of the powerful today is probably all the proof you need to know you would have failed the same way in the past.  

Bonus points, by the way, for watching the segment of the video showing various racist screeds that include white people, most likely liberal white people.  The white liberal sanctification of demographic self hate and masochism is a virtue that is unique among the woes of humanity, I will say that.  I've not found its parallel in history.  Which is why, perhaps, it is so effective and so devastating. 

Because nobody tells black American racists or Asian American racists that it's fine to be a racist if it's directed at white people more loudly than white liberals.  Which makes me think of this:

“And Jesus said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung round his neck and he were cast into the sea”    Luke 17.1-2a

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Ethnic scrubbing

Is simply ethnic cleansing writ small.  John C. Wright has another absurd case in the growing 'can we get rid of the white people?' movement among the Left.  As Mr. Wright points out, a big part of this is to provoke a racist reaction.  Yes, the Left can label any reaction racist, and it will.  But the big game trophy is in finding someone who reacts in a legitimately racist way - hence reinforcing the narrative.  We call this a type of self-fulfilling prophecy. 

It reminds me of a story a week or two ago that white supremacy is on the rise in the US.  That was a couple weeks after a story on the same local channel in which some professor explained why it's absolutely fine when a university segregates based on skin color, or roles in movies are now decided based upon which skin colors to exclude (I think in reaction to the new Oscars requirements).  I'll leave you figure which skin colors were being discussed.

Of course very few speak out against this (see the charge of racism above), leaving young up and coming white Americans  more than clear about their future prospects.  Those who are white who push this racial discrimination usually sport gray hair with their own careers safely in the rear view mirrors. Or they are individuals in positions where they, or they assume their posterity, won't be the ones singled out for dismissal owing to their skin color.

All in all, nothing new.  Racism, contrary to popular narrative, is not a white person's sin, a conservative person's sin, a MAGA person's sin, a Western Civilization sin.  It's found where two or more people tend to gather.  And, as we see in front of our eyes, it has a universal appeal.  So universal that a form of racism unknown in the West - against whites - is now as common as Jim Crow was in the south a hundred years ago.  That racism was based on generations and even centuries of racist thinking.  Yet how fast has the current racism been embraced today?  And most institutions and national leaders (and religious leaders) stand by and let it happen - or join in.

With each passing day we have less and less reason to think we can judge previous generations.  After all, in doing so we are becoming the worst of those generations without the good.  A toxic combination. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Give the Orthodox Church credit

Like all faith traditions today, secularism has besieged the Orthodox, and increasingly the younger Orthodox are ready to chuck the olden Faith and embrace the modern secular paganism, especially where south of the waistline issues are concerned.  Inadvertently, the Orthodox also aid that by insisting they never jump into politics, but then diving headfirst into things like BLM if they can make the West look bad.  America looking bad being a bonus point.  Remember, the Left can always bet on 1/3 of its opponents to join the Left at any point in a revolution.  BTW, one of my beefs with the Orthodox was their almost pathological resentment, if not hatred, for anything west of the Danube. 

With that said, many older Orthodox are fighting the good fight, and doing so much more openly than we're seeing in the West, and especially in the United States:

That comes from being in a tradition where some of your colleagues can still show their scars from being tortured during the days of the Soviet Union.  

Fact is, most of us in the US, including our leaders, never imagined we'd face actual persecution for resisting the emergent secular society.  Lulled by eternal chanting of never ending tolerance and respect for diversity, we imagined whatever grave evils they indulged in, they would leave us alone.  

It doesn't help that those who long ago sold themselves to this new tyranny have said, without saying it, that anything less than shaved heads, striped pajamas, and two steps from a gas chamber doesn't count as persecution.  For dissenters of course.  Designated minority groups, when in line with the latest progressive dogma, can declare themselves the most persecuted people in history if a conservative says they're wrong.  And suddenly those same leftwing believers will weep and lament and declare their plight the worst in history.  

So it's a bit of a one-two punch.  Suddenly we are faced with a movement with increasing power to persecute any who dissent, mixed with those who betrayed righteousness and our posterity by making it clear that no matter your suffering, they will support it. 

Because of that, I think we're seeing a great many leaders invoke the sacred ostrich when it comes to the evils we're seeing.  See no evil, hear no evil, run like a baby from the evil, head in the sand at all times. 

Again, this isn't to say all Orthodox are resisting, or even all Orthodox leaders.  The Orthodox have a long, proud history of throwing their sheep into the wolves' den to save their skin.  But among those who are resisting, they are far more prepared to speak openly, directly, and truthfully while addressing the egregious evils of our day. 

Saturday, June 24, 2023

The growing importance of our half of the year

Several years ago, during one of our family chats, we mentioned the idea of 'our half of the year.'  It was mostly a lark.  Just one of those silly things. But as things began unraveling fast over the ensuing years, and the calls to eradicate the West and its heritage and historical moorings grew, we started to reference the idea more and more. 

Some time later, I posted about the idea.  Even then we mostly just smiled when we said it, understanding the point, but not really taking it seriously.  Until the last couple years. 

Now we're seeing transgender activists declare from the rooftops that we absolutely should perform sex change surgencies on minors down to 14 years old for now.  And, as a bonus, activists are becoming loud about telling parents to step aside and let state actors alone guide the kids in these decisions.  Quite a departure from only a year or so ago. Which is the warning sign.  When things don't appear able to be stopped, and lies can be lied in shorter amounts of time, your nation is on a bad trajectory. 

For instance, pride month this year has been nauseating.  On the morning news channel we watch while getting ready, in one half hour section of the broadcast, there were no fewer than five stories about something LGBTQ, including two dealing with the horror and terror of the growing ant-LGTBQ hate attacks. One other was a sort of focus feature on a Trans activist, and two were promoting various 'Pride' events in the area.  Except for the obligatory Trump, Jan 6 and Weather stories, nothing else was mentioned in that top half hour. 

And as John C Wright correctly notices, we're past the point where the Left feels obliged to defend itself or explain its viewpoints.  It simply declares the next truth and turns the media out as some digital secret police to attack, besmirch, malign and in any way discredit anyone who dissents.  Thus we have here, where a press outlet unironically posts an editorial about blacks outraged over seeing white people on Juneteenth banners.  Something Deacon Steven Greydanus actually defends here

Which is why, come tomorrow on June 25th, we claim the rest of the year as our own.  The first half of the year is the half with months dedicated to topics allowing the infinite hashing and trashing of virtually everything that came from west of the Urals.  Not that those months have to be used that way.  But over the years they have become used that way more and more.  So far, that's not the case for months in the second half of the year. 

The 25th is chosen because it is 6 months until Christmas which, thanks to Madison Avenue and Wall Street, is still a thing.  Oh, it has virtually nothing to do with the Christian holiday, and a large swath of Americans say this is a good thing.  Heck, there are plenty of Christians, including Catholics, who appear glad the whole Jesus thing has been relegated to a Church service on Sunday but removed from the greater national stage. 

Still, for us the anchoring events and seasons are still there in this second half of the year.  Our third son's birthday is first, coming only days after the 25th.  Then Independence Day, which is, so far, still a thing.  Then our youngest son's birthday and the anniversary of the moon landings later in the month.  Then August, the dog days, and our second son's birthday.  Labor day kicks off school and the 'Fall' season - still a favorite.  Though at this point we don't do all we used to, it's still a season that seems to tweak nostalgia and memories for bygone days.  October is Halloween month, though we've diminished all the gaudy from years gone by.  Preferring a more harvest/rural approach.  Our oldest has his birthday (so did my late grandmother and so does my childhood best friend) then as well.  We also use Columbus Day to remember and celebrate our past. November is Veteran's day and Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is still a thing despite growing activist calls to eradicate it.  Wall Street is busy fumbling about trying to divorce Thanksgiving from the holiday shopping season kick off.  When it finally does, expect Thanksgiving to go the way of Columbus Day. Of course after that is Christmas, and Catholic though we are, we celebrate the weeks leading up to it, combining it with advent, until we reach Christmas proper.  Then to the best of our abilities it's as many of the Twelve Days as possible, which stretch over my mom's birthday in early January.  

Then it's back to the post-Western half of the year.  There are plenty of celebrations there as well.  Birthdays, anniversaries, holy days and of course Easter.  Father's day is the last of the big days in the first half of the year.  But again, it is during the first half of the year, like we've seen this year, we are increasingly inundated with anti-American, anti-Western, anti-white, anti-Christian, anti-male, anti-reason, and anti-virtue movements quickly seizing control of our nation.   

It's a bit like sitting in the Michigan section at an Ohio State football game.  You might be able to root for the team, but the other fans will sometimes drown you out.  Of course even when you are in the Ohio section, you'll have your dissenters, just as we will through the rest of the year.  But at least they are the minority voice.  As of now.  

And that's how we see the importance of the second half of the year more and more with each passing year. 

Friday, June 23, 2023

Friday Frivolity: Wargames

From a stock photo of Battles of Waterloo, a favorite game of mine
So a week or so ago I was chatting  with my wife about the fact that I don't really have a hobby.  That's because I lack the ability to stick with any one interest long enough to justify it being called a hobby.  

I probably have what hipsters call ADHD. Or at least ADD.  My mind can seldom stay focused more than a few minutes at any given time.  Put  me in a corporate meeting with some hour presentation going on and it's as close to hell for me as I can imagine.  The same goes for anything.  Books, interests, topics, or just pastimes will come and go again.  I'll have a dozen books being read, sitting around at the same time.  That's pretty much true with anything.  

Anyhoo, as I said this, I was told this isn't true.  I was reminded that wargames, or the broader category of strategy games, has long been my hobby.  No matter what I've picked up or tossed aside over the years, my love of strategy style games has never changed.  I suppose there is some truth to that. 

I imagine that falls under the wider context of history as my hobby.  Though over the years I have taught, lectured and read endlessly about history, I never made a living of it.  I always thought there might be some loss to the enjoyment if it became a job with a steady paycheck.  Nonetheless, since I received my first history book at the tender age of eight, I was hooked. 

It was one of those old coffee table World War II books.  My dad bought it for me since I was already interested in the war.  That's because I had several family members who served and fought in the war. I heard about their exploits, but largely from everyone else who didn't serve and fight.  Plus it being the early 70s, WWII hadn't fallen on the hard times it would by the time I was in high school and college.  That's up until Saving Private Ryan and Tom Brokaw made WWII cool again, if only for a season. 

Though the book was a gift for me, it was clearly published for adults.  I struggled with the text to be sure, especially the Russian and Asian names and terms.  As a coffee table book it was replete with pictures, charts and images.  Leaning on what had to be a 2 point font, it also managed to have a decent amount of text.  Compared to school books and textbooks I've seen published today, it came off as doctoral level scholarship.  

It was also brutal.  Many of the images from that destructive war were there without modifying or editing.  Images of the dead, the mutilated, the tortured graced the pages at a time when the worst of Hollywood was still kept from kids my age, and Harryhausen was about as brutal as we'd see.  I vividly remember a color photo of a German solider caught and crushed by tanks during retreat.  Not for the squeamish.  And probably not for an eight year old in 1974. 

But it spurred my interest in the war and in history overall.  Over the years I would learn more about that subject, and eventually other periods in the long story of human history.  Eventually other periods would eclipse my interest in WWII, particularly the Napoleonic Era and Mediaeval European history.  In seminary, of all the topics I could zero in on, I became enamored with the transmission and textual record of the New Testament.  What Greek I learned, I learned to better grasp the various textual witnesses of the New Testament through the ages. 

With that said, it shouldn't be surprising that as a youngster and young man, a big part of my interests revolved around military history of any sort.  It's hard to read history and not run into the myriad conflicts that have marred human relations over the years.  Back in the day, it was a very young man thing to focus on. 

Now, the thing about history is it's tough to 'do.'  You can read about it, or watch documentaries or movies for what they're worth.  But it isn't like science, or music, or sports, or art where you can 'do things.'  Which might be why, for reasons I can't fathom, many people I know say history was their least favorite subject.  I always ask people who say that if they like books, TV shows, plays or movies.  If they say yes, then I ask why would they ever not like history?  There is nothing in any fiction that matches the real McCoy. 

In any event, I get that history is tough to do.  Unless you're a reenactor risking being called a Nazi, or enjoy traveling a lot and can afford endless museums and historical sites, you're stuck reading about it or passively watching it on screen.  

Enter wargames.  Or strategy games.  Though I'll admit, strategy games might be a bit broad for me.  Perhaps historical strategy games.  After all, my sons prefer more far out games, and enjoy Sci-Fi or other fantastical forms of strategy games.  Who can colonize Mars first, or whose galactic empire will come out on top and such. Not me.  When asked to play I will, however, since I believe there are worst things for a parent to endure than being asked to do things with one's children. 

Nonetheless, I prefer history based strategy games.  I do like period games, such as the old Roman Republic, which really isn't a wargame, but a very broad and abstract strategic game set in that period of history.  Mostly, however, it's the old 'chit' game replicating a specific war, conflict or battle that I prefer.  It's a bit like chess, but on steroids.  

I like chess, don't get me wrong.  I'm not that good, but I enjoy it.  I prefer more bells and whistles, however, since I find more extras and add-ons give more chances to circumvent my deficiencies where strategic thinking is concerned.  Hence my enjoyment of the game World in Flames - the ultimate game with a million extra add-ons.  Which is why, in the end, I enjoy endless strategy games, especially of the historical type.  They scratch that love of history itch, and they let me flex my strategic thinking muscles while giving me more than 'pawn takes rook' options.  And they can be educational, with the historical notes sections of old Avalon Hill games surpassing most of what passes as history in today's schools. 

So I guess that's fair, I do have a hobby after all.  

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Sam Rocha wins!

The award for most asinine defense of the anti-Catholic sex show celebrated by the Dodgers:

That's hilarious.  I think it deserves the prize because I can always use a good laugh. 

I love the reaction from Smac.  Exactly what does that mean?  Who is talking about prayers for the reparation of costumes?  The answer is, of course, nobody.  That isn't what is happening among those who take the Gospel seriously.  

It means Sam, like those beholden to the Left, knows his place.  The Left is a jealous god, and will not tolerate dissent.  Whatever the Left does, whoever or whatever it slaughters, oppresses, mocks, or blasphemes, nobody on the Left  can speak against it. 

So Sam does the safe thing. He makes it about  - the reparation of costumes?   Which has nothing to do with what people are praying about or upset about.  Sam just put the word 'reparations' in to deflect back to another issue.  He's not defending the sex show.  He's not attacking it. He is simply deflecting.  He could have added Ronco Vegematic to the public prayers instead of reparations and it wouldn't have made less sense.  

It's funny.  I've seen those from my old Protestant stomping grounds, and friends I have who are not Catholic, express outrage at this.  Also, it's not some 'poor white Americans' whining either, see here.  For that matter, even non-Christians are offended by this naked anti-Catholic bigotry.  Meanwhile so many leftwing Catholics like Sam stumble over themselves to avoid calling out the same anti-Catholic blasphemy. Speaks volumes I'd say.  By their fruits you will know them, as the old saying goes. 

As a fun note, Sam's attempt at deflection was so disconnected from the actual topic, it immediately brought this to mind:

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

The Righteous Gentiles of Juneteenth

 Are, like the Righteous Gentiles of the Civil Rights Movement, pretty much non-existent. 

Something missing here

You know who the Righteous Gentiles are.  They are those non-Jews who risked, and at times lost, their lives trying to rescue Jewish victims from the clutches of the Nazis.  Throughout the world in Jewish circles, they are held in the highest esteem.  There are memorials, tributes and celebrations of them across the board.  For the Jewish community, especially the survivors of the Holocaust, they were always seen as the heroes they were.

I notice, however, that in our modern Civil Rights era, there are no 'Righteous Gentiles'.  There are no white people who ever seemed to contribute to the aid of black Americans.  Tributes for civil rights activists are almost always centered on African Americans.  Any mention at all about anyone non-black American is glossed over.  

Something about that bothers me.  Like Juneteenth.  The attempt, of course, is to eventually push this to replace July 4th. That wouldn't be a problem if it was celebrating what it was: Basically the government did good by sending Union troops down to Texas to enforce the liberation of the remaining slaves.  But that's not how it's portrayed.  Like the Google image above, apparently the black Americans of the day magically freed themselves and that's why we celebrate.

Some years ago, I watched on our streaming service a documentary about the making of the movie Harriet. Obviously it was about Harriet Tubman, apparently focusing on her work within the Underground Railroad.  Now to be clear, I never saw the movie and perhaps the movie itself is no problem.  But if the documentary was to be believed, you'd never know white people had anything to do with the Underground Railroad.  To watch the documentary, the only role white people played were those whites hunting down runaway slaves or betraying them.  

That's a big problem I have with the civil rights movement today. Something doesn't go down well when I notice that there is a purposeful attempt to ignore, downplay or deny any positive roles played by white people in the history of our country where the fight for civil rights is concerned.  When I see things like that, I imagine we aren't supposed to be educated about these events.  Rather they are to be exploited for other, unmentioned, agendas. 

BTW, an excellent example is this NPR piece.  Under the photo, it mentions the arrival of the Union Troops on June 19.  That is it. Nothing else in the piece alludes to the actual event or who was involved.  In fact, it seems to go out of its way to explain why Juneteenth is not at all a celebration of the actual historical event which led to Juneteenth: 

"We are not celebrating the history of Juneteenth. We are celebrating the symbolism of Juneteenth," said Leslie Wilson, professor of history at Montclair State University in New Jersey.

Because to do so would necessitate celebrating the individuals involved, and goodness knows we can't have that.  Or as this piece in McPaper makes clear: White people have no business being included on images for Juneteenth, which isn't only about black people. 

Heh.  If it wasn't based on racism and the desire to destroy Christian Western civilization and its virtues of liberty, equality, and life, it would be funny.  Everyone runs about screaming 'it ain't about black people' and then they turn about and insist it's for black people.  That's literally where we are as a country.  They can say opposing things in the same breath and it's true or you're a racist.  

“"Juneteenth GVL would like to apologize to the community for the presence of non-black faces on two flags representing Juneteenth. We acknowledge this mistake having been made and will correct the error quickly.”

Monday, June 19, 2023

Mark Shea and Martin Niemöller

Alrighty then:

In a nutshell, since the State is ever just, I'm sure they all had it coming. 

I was going to write up a big post about this, since I haven't bothered with Shea for some time.  But  I figured it speaks for itself.  It's worth posting if only to see a mentality we've seen too many times throughout the sad story of human history.   That's why we shouldn't be shocked when we see it again.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Of bread and circuses and convictions

The Right v. the Left
We all know the reference to bread and circuses.  It means providing the masses with superficial appeasement to keep them in check.  Of course in our wealthy, leisurely age, the bread and circuses morphed into sex and drugs.  Mere bread and circuses would not do.  Though in some ways, they do still play a part.  Consider movies or athletics for examples. 

Which brings us to now.  I just did something I've not purposefully done since I graduated OSU in 1990.  That is, I passed on purchasing tickets to this year's Ohio State Buckeyes football season.  Every year, since I was young, I've managed to go to a game, or at least purchase tickets.  Until now. 

Why?  Because first: prices.  The prices are quite staggering for what you get, and at a time when the cost of living is still back breaking, despite media narratives to the contrary.  It used to be if you were an alumnus, each year you got tickets the seats were better, and better, and better.  That stopped years ago.  Alumni means nosebleed.  If you want better, you pay extra, and I mean extra.  Given the spate of significant expenses we've had to absorb this year, can we justify such football tickets? 

Yes.  That would have been my answer in years gone by.  It's not like every year of my life saw me wallowing in endless money.  Nonetheless, I always found a way to pay for at least one game a year.  That way I took each of my sons, and sometimes went with my wife, and even took my mom and dad once.   

But this year?   No.  Ted Cruz said something the other day that I found disappointing.  He said boycotts don't generally work.  That's because people might grind their teeth and fuss, but in the end they'll be right back at the ticket counters putting money into the organizations' bank accounts, no matter what.  

Which really isn't true.  It tends to be true for conservatives, not liberals.  Liberals will declare unholy jihad when told, and burn the organization to the ground.  I remember that with the Chick fil-A debacle back in the day.  When the LGBTQ community began going after CFA, some within their ranks would say they still loved the food, but didn't like the establishment's bigotry.  But after a few years, you couldn't find anyone in that movement not wanting to burn CFA to the ground.  And if someone dared cross the battleline and order a chicken sandwich?  Retaliation was sift and merciless.  I'm recalling when Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey mistakenly ordered a CFA sandwich during June one year.  He quickly repented his grave sin. 

So no, such boycotts and tactics work like a charm - for liberalism.  Just see the morphing of CFA.  That's because liberalism is a revolution, a new religion, a movement.  It has specific dogmas.  It has clear promises.  It has convictions.  It is prepared to do whatever to win.  If you're part of it, you're part of it top to bottom.  And you have the passion, zeal and fanaticism that goes with such revolutionary movements.

Conservatives?  Not so much.  When conservatives do move, it's often by those we normally wouldn't want representing the cause.  That's because the bulk of conservatives see what's happening as not worth giving up the game for, or giving up the movie experience for, or giving up our favorite restaurant for, or giving up that precious Netflix binging for, or whatever.  We're Rocky in Rocky III.  The Left is Clubber Lang.   

So I looked at what OSU has become.  I recall the recent OSU president sending endless messages to the student body, trashing conservatives, Trump and anything right of center.  I think on OSU moving as radical left of Stalin as the left will go.  I think of my son, working hard to achieve the highest honors in his degree, finding out that OSU will not recognize such accomplishments during graduation on the off chance it hurts someone's feelings.  Because we can't get enough of being a loser country filled with losers.  

True, during the Kaepernick kerfuffle, the OSU teams did not take part, and that is a feather in their cap.  But that doesn't offset the fact that OSU is actively against what I value.  When I was in college?  Sure, every professor was left of center.  But the school was still a school.  Those debates were in the class, not presented with official OSU president's letterhead. OSU wasn't in front of the cameras jockeying for the USSR (no matter how many would have liked to).   It was not an indoctrination camp.  Free speech and the free exchange of ideals were still promoted in and out of the classrooms.  In fact, per my sons, the school itself was worse than most of their classes.  

So for the first time in my adult life, I passed.  No tickets this year.  Yes, staggering inflation and cost of living would make it tough.  But in years past I would have pulled strings to make it work.  Not now.  Until conservatives take a stand and stop watching the movies, and frequenting the stores, and following the teams, and given money to those forces that want us and our values erased, we will lose.  If that's what we choose, let's just hope for the sake of our grandchildren that the movies and games and menus were worth it. 

The only way to win

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Good for them

The James P. Joyce Library, where I spent many long hours
The Southern Baptist Convention, my old stomping grounds, has voted to expel two churches that went ahead and hired women pastors

OK, here's the thing. I'm Catholic, so the last thing Catholics can do is complain about this.  Orthodox as well.  In fact, most traditional Christian traditions (and other faiths in general) still draw distinct lines between various clerical roles and the sexes.  Still believing, at least on paper, that gender differences mean something.  Most reject the modern notion that there is no difference between men and women, except for when there clearly are differences or when gender doesn't even exist - depending on the ideological needs at the moment. 

Why the SBC was a lighting rod for what was common elsewhere likely had to do with its rather open and zealous fight against liberal incursions through the 70s and 80s and into the 90s.  Contrary to media stereotypes, all evangelicals are not alike.  Nor were Southern Baptists.  In any church I attended, you could bet the stats would be about the same as most polls indicate.  That is, about 1/3 of those in the church would be democrats.  Not necessarily liberal.  But prepared to defend the Blue as much as conservatives would defend the Red.  Republicans and vague independents made up the rest.  

That included the emerging liberation theologies and liberalizing of the Faith that hit high speed in the 20th Century.  When I came to seminary in 1993, we had plenty of left to far left professors - most Southern Baptist by identity.  Many would eventually leave, or join the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (essentially Southern Baptist for liberals).  They tended to hold liberal views on everything from the historicity of the Christian faith to a variety of issues, such as abortion, homosexuality, socialism, ecumenism, feminism, racism and the positive or negative assessment of the greater impact of the Christian West.  That included the positive or negative assessment of the United States.  Hence there were plenty of fireworks within the denomination for the national press to investigate and take sides. 

Things came to a head when Dr. Al Mohler came on board as president. A young Calvinist sprout in his early 30s, he set about with the winnowing fork, separating the conservative wheat from the liberal chaff.  He often went too far, IMHO.  And sometimes those conservatives who bemoaned just how intolerant and unfair liberal administrations were to conservatives, had no problem turning on a dime and doing the same thing to the liberals of the day.  A big lesson I learned about consistent ethics.  If you say something is wrong when you don't have power, then don't do it when you do have power. 

In any event, while this was happening, it seemed the SBC was in every news story out there.  Each year something happened, the SBC met, and the news media pounced.  I recall in the late 1990s when the SBC said it would put a special initiative on reaching out and evangelizing the Jewish community.  Whew.  Hard to believe people that late still thought Jewish individuals had need of Jesus. Talk about your media firestorms.  But that was par for the course in those days.  As it still appears to be. 

FWIW, one of the churches in question is Rick Warren's famous Saddleback Church.  I have a soft spot for Rev. Warren.  It was his book The Purpose Driven Church (published before The Purpose Driven Life) that helped me become Catholic.  It was not the only reason of course.  And it wasn't really the book itself.  It was the reaction among so many of my colleagues.

Again, during the 80s and 90s the 'Battle for the Bible' was in full swing.  The conservative coalition to stop the madness of the Left was digging in. There were a variety of issues that became non-negotiables.  Issues that we were told to die on the hill to resist.  For Sothern Baptists, this included some theological issues as well.  For instance, against my preferences, various state conventions began insisting that anyone joining our church must be baptized again, no matter how they were baptized before.  I fought that losing battle for years.  But it was one of many battles the denomination was prepared to wage.

Until The Purpose Driven Church.  Rick Warren came out of nowhere with a megachurch that defied even Willow Creek standards.  And he wrote this 'how to book' for all church leaders to know how to do it, too.  It was simple.  Follow a set of basic strategies and procedures that smelled and awful lot like what you would do if you worked on Wall Street or Madison Avenue.  Theology was irrelevant.  Liturgy was irrelevant.  Doctrine was irrelevant.  You follow these steps and you, too, can have a storefront church that ends up with thousands of people hanging out of the windows.  What your actual church is doesn't matter. 

Almost overnight, I saw my colleagues immediately begin shifting their focuses.  Suddenly baptism or church liturgy or even some social issues had a place in the discussion, but do we really need to make those the deal breakers? Come on.  We have the blueprint for the next megachurch after all.  That was when I told a ministry conference I spoke at that too many of us judged a pastor by the size of his gymnasium, and that needed to stop.

Needless to say, my opinion and four bucks will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.  The same then as now.  Nonetheless, it's nice to see that the SBC, amidst withering attacks by the press, the World, and former luminaries like Russ and Beth Moore (no relations), decided to take a stand.  You might disagree with how they did it (though be careful of your own traditions here).  But you have to admit, religious leaders and institutions with the moxie to withstand the worldly juggernaut are in short supply today. I say applause is in order, no matter my thoughts about the details. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Important message from Pope Francis to Fr. James Martin

 R.P. James Martin, SJ

Querido hermano,

Muchas gracias por tu correo. Gracias por todo el bien que estás haciendo. ¡Gracias!

Rezo por vos, por favor hacélo por mi.

Les envio un cordial saludo a los miembros de la reunión en la Universidad de Fordham. Te agradezco se los haga llegar. En mi oración y buenos deseos están vos y todos los que trabajan en la Conferencia Outreach.

De nuevo, gracias, gracias por tu testimonio.

Que Jesús te bendiga y la Virgen Santa los cuide.



English translation


R.P. James Martin, SJ

Dear brother,

Thank you very much for your email. Thank you for all the good you are doing. Thank you!

I pray for you, please do so for me.

I send my best regards to the members of the meeting at Fordham University. Thank you for delivering it to them. In my prayers and good wishes are you and all who are working at the Outreach Conference.

Again, thank you, thank you for your witness.

May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin take care of you.



Monday, June 12, 2023

Better the Devil you see

The sane person's reaction to transgender activism
There's a 1980s movie called Broadcast News.  It's charming in its way.  A little guilty pleasure of mine.  It's basically a romantic comedy involving a love triangle set in a 1980s Washington news bureau.   Albert Brooks steals his scenes as Aaron Altman, the smitten journalist who can't keep his mouth shut, except when it comes to confessing his love for his best friend, news producer Jane Craig, played by Holly Hunter.  Unfortunately, she is just as taken by William Hurt's character Tom Grunick, a handsome, but shallow and superficial, anchorman who represents everything Aaron and Jane despise.  

At one point, Aaron tells Jane that she can't end up with Tom.  That's because Tom is really the Devil.  She doesn't appreciate his hyperbole.  But Aaron responds that he's being semi-serious.  After all, will the Devil appear as some evil monster, some beast clawing and roaring and breathing fire?  No!  He'll "be attractive! He'll be nice and helpful. He'll get a job where he influences a great God-fearing nation. He'll never do an evil thing! He'll never deliberately hurt a living thing... he will just bit by little bit lower our standards where they are important. Just a tiny little bit. Just coax along flash over substance. Just a tiny little bit."

Well, sometimes that might be the case.  But sometimes, such as what we saw in Germany in the 30s, or the Soviet Union, or anywhere Communism has reared its ugly head - or now - the Devil sheds the suit and tie, dons the old pitchfork and horns, and says 'here I am!'  That seems to be when he's most effective in the short but destructive term.  

I thought of this when I saw this "fact check" of Ron DeSantis saying transgender surgeries are targeting young kids. The Fact Checker goes after DeSantis saying it isn't done on young kids, only teens.  And then it's rare!  

Which is quite a departure from 'it's a lie, nobody is performing this surgery on minors" only a year or so ago.  Now it's 'children'.  Not to mention that only a year ago, we were assured nothing would ever be done to a minor without parental consent.  Now activists are shouting from the rooftops that parents have no right to interfere with state actors helping change their children's bodies - lest those children logically commit suicide.  

Again, sometimes the Devil is slick and subtle.  Sometimes, however, he puts on his knee high leathers and goosesteps around Nuremberg, just to show the world he's here.  We're seeing that today.  And if you're like me, your jaw hangs down Wile-E-Coyote style in amazement that so many of our peers are willing to fight and destroy common sense and virtue in order to support such evil.   At least the lines between the good and the evil are clear.  Sometimes at least the Devil leaves us without excuse

If we're lucky, it will only be generations far into the future who judge us harshly. 

“And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD."  Judges 2.10

Saturday, June 10, 2023

I remember this

 I think I posted on this many moons ago, but it bears repeating:

I can remember sitting in our front room, minding my own business, and hearing this commercial come on when we lived on Hillside.  That's Dave code for some time between 1971-1975.  Something about it always struck a feeling with me, though it's hard to pinpoint.  I was on one hand drawn to it somehow, but on the other hand I didn't want anywhere near the general mood of that commercial and its rather stuffy salesman John Williams (English actor, not the composer).   I don't think Dad ever bought the series, but he did have classical music albums.  Which got me to reminiscing, as I am wont to do, about the music I grew up with, largely thanks to my dad's own tastes.  

First and foremost was Frank Sinatra.  Dad was a Frankie fan all the way, and I grew up learning by heart some of his more famous songs, such as My Way (much maligned in religious circles, but I think a little too maligned given our state of affairs today), Fly Me to the Moon, Summer Wind, and my personal favorite That's Life.  Whenever Dad worked around the house or on the cars or such, he would hum songs, most often from Sinatra.  Except the end of Strangers in the Night, which he would always break out and sing  - 'Scooby-dooby-doo...'.  I can still hear that. 

The Crooner Era (loosely defined).  This included not only the 'crooners' proper, but also that whole broad pop genre including, but not limited to, Andy Williams, Perry Como, Tony Bennet, Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole, Liberace, The Carpenters, Barry Manilow.  My favorite was Andy Williams, and I would listen to his tapes in my car until the tapes wore down.  Williams also produced one of my favorite Christmas Albums, and his rendition of O Come All Ye Faithful still gives me chills when he nails that last note

Big Band Era.  They had several big band era artists represented, Jimmy Dorsey, Glenn Miller and the like.  He actually didn't have many stand alone albums, but he had a couple large collector sets.  As much as he listened to those, none of the songs ever really stuck in my mind beyond Chattanooga Choo-Choo, and that was more cultural exposure than anything.  OK, so I remember In the Mood. Who doesn't? 

Classical.  Again, not the set advertised above, but several stand alone classical albums, and one large collection of classical piano. That's where I first got my exposure to classical music (that, and Saturday morning cartoons).  Through the 70s and early 80s, classical music seemed to fall out of favor, being used in movies ironically (Apocalypse Now, A Clockwork Orange), or made into disco (*shutter*).  In my late high school years, however, the movie Amadeus came out of nowhere, buttressed by that newfangled VCR tech everyone was getting, and suddenly classical music was cool again.  Which made getting my hands classical music easier than ever.  Though I admit, despite Mozart being the  classical superstar of the day, I was always a Tchaikovsky man myself.  Not that I hated Mozart, I just preferred others.  Including Chopin. And in a nod to Schroeder, Beethoven also loomed large in my preferences. 

BTW, what the heck ever happened to Amadeus?   It was named one of the top 100 films of all time by the AFI at the end of the century.  It became one of the first movies to cash in on VCRs, making the bulk of its money well after its theatrical run (and subsequent sweeping of the Oscars).  In my college years, this was one of the 'constant must see movies' around the campus.  As I said, it brought classical music (and period pieces for films) straight to the top of the class, even as MTV was making music shallow again.  And then suddenly, poof!  Gone.  I've not seen it on any best of lists.  It's off the 100 top movies list altogether.  I never see it mentioned, streamed, played, or referenced.  Did the cast get caught killing pandas or something? 

Jazz.  That is, smooth jazz.  He didn't have many albums here, but it was my first foray into that genre.  To this day, if I listen to jazz at all, it is of the smooth jazz variety.  Though there is something about being in a restaurant with my wife, with a jazz group of any type playing live, that strikes the right aesthetic for me. 

General.  Dad had a wide variety of genres filling out his collection.  He didn't care for rock and roll.  He despised Elvis, largely because he thought Elvis was given special treatment in the army (my dad reporting no such special treatment in his army experience).  He actually liked The Beatles, and one of the first singles he bought for me was a cover of The Fool on the Hill.  He told me he bought it because even at such a young age, it was my favorite (foreshadowing?).  Not all of their music of course. I mean songs like Yesterday, If I Fell, Michelle, Let it Be.  Not I Am the Walrus or Helter Skelter.  But there was quite a broad potpourri of records he had from novelty (Ray Stevens) to Gospel (I think my mom had some of those from her mom).  

Those constituted the bulk of my dad's record collection.  That was my exposure to music until well  into late high school and college, when I started buying some of my own.  Nonetheless, even then I spent most of my time listening to songs from the above list, including cassette tapes in my cars, such as Andy Williams, Barry Manilow and classical.  Needless to say, when my friends and I went 'cruising' to meet girls, I was banned from choosing the music. 

All of this came to my mind, BTW, when I saw that Pat Cooper, Sinatra's opening comedy act, passed away.  My best friend went into the field of stage production, primally for music groups.  He nabbed me a collector's Paul McCartney stage hand shirt when McCartney came through town.  He used to get me tidbits of this or that musical act whose tour his company would subcontract with.  

But his grand-slam accomplishment was nabbing tickets for my dad, mom and me to see Frank Sinatra on his 1990 tour.  And these weren't nosebleeds either.  There was a roped off section about 40' deep from the stage.  That was for the limousine set.  And then there was our row.  Behind us was a massive stadium packed to the brim.  Forty feet from Sinatra isn't bad.  

The concert was on my last day of college.  Classes out, in the car, off to McDonalds, and then to the concert.  My dad loved it, and I have always been thankful to my friend for that little coup.  There was an opening comedian that night, though I don't know if it was Cooper or not.  Nonetheless, the news jarred my mind and it went from Sinatra, to Dad's records, to that commerical, and back again.  Thus how my mind works. 

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Sam Rocha gives a shout out to Karl Marx

And pulls a trick I've never been fond of:

I found my way to his Twitter thread, and then went to the comments section of the article in question.  Unless there is some other forum he's referencing, I saw nobody suggesting Karl Marx was alive in the 20th Century. Catholic or otherwise.  Nor have I ever heard anyone say such a thing.   I did find some commenters supporting Sam who posted goofy things. But I found nobody suggesting Marx was alive in the 20th Century.  If you say 'these people seem to think', then show some quotes and let us make the call.  

In any event, all of this might suggest that Sam, like more and more on the Left, is prepping to come clean about his views on Marxism, if not full blown Communism.  He would hardly be alone.  The last decade or so has seen a growing number of pundits, journalists, news outlets, activists and others extoling the virtues of Marx, Marxism, Communism and Communist states.  

At least they're letting us know what we're up against.  If it ever becomes the default ruling ideology of America, the results won't be any different than they have been anywhere else.  Only this time there won't be an America to oppose it.  


I found that assessment of people who disagree with Sam rather telling.  IMO, it says more about Sam and how he views religion, than these people he references.  

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

In a nutshell


The motto of the Left could easily be summed up as 'How dare you apply our standards to us.'  

All those years ago

Today is the anniversary of D-Day. Specifically, the amphibious assault on Normandy by the Allies in 1944.  For many years now, likely decades, this has been the sum total of 'remember World War II' day.  Pearl Harbor would get its annual nod.  You might the beginning of the war, at least in Europe, mentioned.  And the end.  Often just said in passing, with more emphasis on the end in the  Pacific, focusing on the atomic bombs.  That's been World War II remembrance since at least the 90s. 

When we hit the 10's, it would get more attention.  That is the early 1970s, 1980s, 1990s; the 30th, 40th, 50th anniversaries, then there was more focus.  I think, IIRC, the 1980s had the most pro-WWII, saturated focus.  There weren't many pop culture productions about WWII by that time, but the media had several stories I remember.  Usually, by then, a major focus was on reconciliation and putting the past behind us.  This was especially true for our relationship with Japan.  After all, Japan was starting to kill us economically, and we didn't want bad blood between Japanese companies and American consumers (seen in hindsight, if I must admit).

Over the years it's dropped mostly to the few anniversaries above.  I saw the morning news today mention the anniversary celebration at Normandy.  A brief segment.  I saw it on a couple tickers.  I didn't see any major national newspapers, but they might not be published online yet.  Of course I'm sure we all remember the WaPo's article a year or two ago, reminding us not to bless those veterans but damn them as the racists that they were.  Or the Twitter illustration a couple years ago of the beach landings with the caption 'an army of white supremacists landing to fight an army of white supremacists.'  The hatred of our country and civilization now generations deep in some quarters. 

Such is history.  Empires come and empires go.  From the Christian perspective, though man is made in the image of God, sin tends to be the at-rest position in the world.  Sin is easier.  Virtue is tough.  After all, when was the last time you heard someone say 'You know, all my life I wanted to be a lazy couch potato, but I couldn't overcome the temptation to eat right and exercise.'  So it is with nations and empires and civilizations.  The light of Christian Witness and the subsequent rise in the Democratic era were the exception, not the rule, to the story of humanity.  And since we eventually decided to take away the rock upon which our civilization was built, and replace it with sand, we can probably guess what will happen next. 

That's why golden ages are typically followed by dark ages.  But have hope.  Eventually the kernels of what was forgotten will be remembered, and from the ensuing dark age coming our way, another golden age will emerge.  That's one of the benefits of the Jewish-Christian tradition:  History has a purpose and we should never forget.  Even if we do for a season.  There will be a time when people remember again, and then those who gave their all will not have died in vain. 

As a bonus, here is a nice piece written by Francis Maier at The Catholic Thing.  Worth the read. 

When Bishop Barron takes off the gloves

You know you're dealing with grave evil.  Bishop Barron isn't exactly known for his Terminator approach to adversaries of the Faith.  He's long tried the Neville Chamberlain approach and, as can be expected, usually ticks off everyone on all sides as a result.   

So for him to come out and explicitly say this is an anti-Catholic hate group, and call their behavior offensive, is like watching Pollyanna grab a combat assault rifle and plunge into the fray.  Which is good. 

I've said that this thing we call the Left - perhaps Marxist Communist would be appropriate at this time - is almost every day revealing itself to be more and more nakedly evil.  Now, as the rhetoric changes from 'it's a lie, nobody will ever surgically alter a minor's body' to 'it's a lie, nobody will ever alter a child's body', and we watch so many who brainlessly follow along, the line between good and evil is becoming thick and obvious. 

There will come a time when excuses are no longer acceptable.  To support the evil is to be the evil.  I just fear that those who support the evil will be prepared to do evil to defend their allegiance.  That's when it will get ugly. 

But as for this particular moral stench, it shouldn't surprise students of the Christian Faith.  After all, the hatred of the Church is rooted in the hatred of Christ.  And it isn't as if Christ didn't see it coming. 

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you."  John 15.18

Monday, June 5, 2023


It turns out that brave corporations cheering on Pride Month, aren't doing so in places like the Middle East.  Can we say 'not surprised'? 

My eldest son, who possesses a good historian's head on his shoulders if I may say so, has a pretty solid theory for what we're seeing.  Long and short, we all grew up in the 'Age of Democracy' because, for over two hundred years, the individuals with all the wealth and power believed democracy, liberty and equality were part of the magic formula for ever more wealth and power.

After all, combined with a robust and free market, and some lag-over Christian ideals, that formula brought the West from a world of horses and buggies, candlelight and log cabins to a world of planes, trains, automobiles, television, computers, space travel, medical breakthroughs, agricultural breakthroughs, and unparalleled wealth, leisure and luxury.  And all within a half dozen or so generations.  Obviously, those factors in the formula had to be defended.

But they no longer believe that.  China, in some ways, changed all that.  Like Jeopardy James, they broke the game and showed the world you don't need those things to rake in the big bucks, at least for those on top.  In fact, you might do better avoiding those things.  After all, in our world today there are billions of potential costumers in nations and societies that have decidedly undemocratic, unfree and unequal laws and values.  But that's still billions of potential customers.

Why does the NBA call down hellfire on the USA as the four hundred year old racist Nazi state that we are, while turning a blind eye to China?  Because in China basketball is now the one of the most popular sports, and it's estimated that the NBA has hundreds of millions of bona fide fans in China - more fans than the United States has citizens.  Same with Disney.  Disney now makes more in China than it does America. 

Heck, America is now practically a 2.5 world country.  Not quite 2nd World.  America's standard of living, its wealth and leisure were so astronomically high compared to the rest of the world, that we could fall a thousand miles and still be at a higher standard that most of the world.  But not for much longer.  When was the last time America wowed the world?  When was the last time we built something that left the world in awe?  Today, you have to go to other parts of the world for that.  Heck, earlier in the year the world had to step in and bail us out when we couldn't produce enough formula for America's babies.  Remember when it was America that would step in when the world couldn't do those things? 

I think my son is correct.  In the end, the United States, and the West in general, simply isn't that important anymore.  The lofty values we took for granted aren't needed and, in some cases, might be obstacles for the emerging global ruling classes.  China, like some Middle Eastern countries, has learned if they just make deals with the big corporate interests, those interests will happily turn a blind eye to other problems. In fact, those corporate entities might find it in their best interest to shame the West and United States so they will shut up and stay out of the way.  That way those corporations can more easily roll in the money given them by countries that are the antithesis of the old life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness principle. 

Hence Pride month.  Corporations will gladly peddle that here.  It keeps America a godless, sexed up, drugged up customer base unlikely to resist any tearing away at its moral or even legal foundations.  But no way do those corporate interests really give two swigs about anything remotely gay.  Those same LGBTQ folks could be tossed off buildings in  other parts of the world for all those companies care.  Same with women and blacks or anyone.  As far as our global rulers care, whatever the countries and cultures with the billions of customers want, will eventually be what the rest of the world gets.  

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Kicking around Band of Brothers

We broke out the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers over Memorial Day week.  We allowed our youngest (now going on 14) to watch it for the first time.  We typically kept our kids from watching intense shows, expletive laden shows, overly violent shows, or similar until they hit an appropriate age.  And we don't watch movies with explicit sex scenes, no matter what the age. When they ask to see something like The Terminator or even Platoon (there are, after all, varying degrees of expletives) we tell them once they're old enough, they're free to watch them - on their own.  

But Band of Brothers is a triumph of television that should not be denied him.  It's quite frankly one of the best miniseries ever produced.  It's also one of the best war films put on screen.  Yes, it's Hollywood.  And you have to account for that.  After seeing a prescreening, Major Richard Winters expressed disappointment in the series.  He told Tom Hanks that he was hoping for more authenticity and accuracy.  He said at one point they had the men standing around with their helmets off!  No way a soldier with even a brain cell would do that in that setting!   Hanks responded that he knows, but this is Hollywood, not reality.  They had the helmets off so the audience could see the different characters.  Just like they left the 101st insignia on during the Bastogne segments, even though historically Eisenhower had ordered them removed so the Germans wouldn't know they were up against an elite unit.  You have to account for the audience.  Instead, Hanks told him most Hollywood productions teeter around 12% accuracy.  Band of Brothers was shooting for about 17% accuracy, which would make it legendary as one of the most accurate productions ever made. 

With that in mind, it succeeds gloriously.  Coming in the wake of Saving Private Ryan, the movie that brought World War II out of mothball and gave it the full, modern Hollywood treatment, BoB was based on Stephen Ambrose's book of the same name.  It wasn't really a history book per se, but mostly a collection of memoirs, anecdotes, stories and recollections of the men from Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, of the 101st Airborne Division.  On the whole, with your usual embellishments and dramatic license, the series attempted to stay as close to the stories as possible, and did so admirably. 

Like the 1962 movie The Longest Day, a casting call went out in Hollywood and around the world for any male actor under about the age of 30.  A string of young actors just starting out, but later achieving stardom in their own right, was brough into the series.  Ron Livingston from Office Space (Cpt. Lewis Nixon) and David Schwimmer of the TV Show Friends (Cpt. Sobel) were the biggest names.  Other names like Damien Lewis, Jimmy Fallon, Tom Hardy, and James McAvoy would eventually come into their own.

The casting was famously based on appearance.  Rather than acting skills, the casting director tried to find actors who looked similar to the veterans in question.  And in a brilliant twist that has seldom seen its like before or since, the series included interviews with the actual veterans themselves.  Before (or after) the credits, different Easy Company vets are interviewed about the theme of the respective episode.  Their names are avoided, so the audience won't know who did or, sadly, who didn't make it. 

As an aside, I must say that when we watched the interviews with the vets for the first time, we immediately and correctly identified Richard Winters.  Without being told who is who, you know he's Winters.  Even as an elderly man, he had that 'it' factor, that something about him that said 'here is a leader of men, you can tell.'  

Dale Dye was brought in to do his famous Dye Boot Camp for Actors that changed the way war movies are made.  For his 1986 Vietnam war semi-biopic Platoon, Oliver Stone said he was tired of seeing movies where the actors clearly had no clue about being a solider, much less being in combat.  He looked up Vietnam War veteran and Marine Correspondent Dale Dye, who had been trying to improve productions in that area.  The two worked together and ended up putting the cast of Platoon through a couple weeks of a basic training crash course.  Dye drilled them like they were army recruits so they would demonstrate a more realistic performance as combat soldiers.   

Dye brought the same to BoB (as he did Saving Private Ryan), but by now more refined and well honed.  He also turned in a fine performance as Colonel Sink, CO of the 506th PIR.  Stone once recalled how, during filming of Platoon, they needed a company commander.  He asked Dye if he could do the job.  Veteran though he was, Dye nonetheless buckled and said he could handle anything - but not being on film!  Stone pushed back and said just be yourself.  You're you, in war with two squabbling sergeants.  Just do what you would do.  Dye did the job and did it admirably (and, FWIW, provided what I think is the single greatest 'commentary' for a movie DVD I've ever seen).  Since then I'd say Dye has warmed up to the camera quite well. 

When Band of Brothers first aired, it was on the eve of the 9/11 attacks.  The timing couldn't have been better for the series.  Many Americans were already taken by Saving Private Ryan,  since it showed a whole new generation that WW2 was a real war, every bit as horrible as Vietnam.  Then came that momentary burst of patriotism, in which BoB rode the waves to endless accolades, awards, and financial success.  

Of course that, like so many things, is ancient history.  By now all of the men who served in Easy Company have passed.  The country that so adored the production in 2001 has turned its back on almost everything they fought for.  Many young people today (you can find their reviews) revile the series as proof of America as the racist Nazi state it was, owing to the lack of minorities (the various soldiers of Polish or Italian or other descent not counting, since now anyone born west of the Urals is merely 'white').  

A follow up series, a sort of Band of Brothers in the Pacific, failed to resonate.  Politically correct pressure on not showing Japan for what it was, trying to equate the US to the Japanese Empire, as well as being based on fictional storylines rather than actual events, all caused the series to fall short.

But for the briefest of moments, after almost two decades of being overlooked, the WWII generation came back into their own.  For a brief time, they were celebrities again.  For a time that war and those who fought it were remembered and applauded.  Yes, already the press was beginning to insist we remember the segregation, the racism, the evils of America rather than look starry eyed at this series.  Nonetheless, most people watched in awe and realized that, somewhere along the line, we lost something good from what that generation brought to the table. 

Frank John Hughes, who played "Wild" Bill Guarnere, once talked about a day when the vets arrived on set.  Hanks said he wanted the vets in question to have some input in the series, and to make their presence known.  Hughes said they were notified the vets would be arriving, and were waiting for them.  When they arrived, Bill Guarnere got out of the vehicle, and hobbled forward, his leg missing from that artillery shell during the Ardennes Offensive.  Hughes said that hit him like a ton of bricks.  To see Guarnere walking forward as if it was nothing, missing a leg, and greeting him like an old friend, took his breath away.  In fact Hughes, like many of the actors, became lifelong friends of the veterans, especially those they played in the series.  Some of the actors have become advocates for veterans and the military since then. 

Again, different time and different world.  Nonetheless, we watched the series for the first time in years.  As my sons have said, it's a bit rough watching, knowing the country they sacrificed for is on its way out.  Still, it's a good reminder.  It's also a good watch.  So good that I decided to list my favorite episodes from worst to best.  Mind you, by worst I mean worst in the sense of the worst Mozart symphony.  A relative measure to be sure.  The worst episode here flies miles above most Hollywood production today, if not ever.  Nonetheless, as with any series, some are better than others.  The following is my list leading to the best of them all, which is a way of saying one of the best war productions ever filmed.  

Like most of my lists, it is entirely subjective, which means most likely correct. So from least to best: 

#10. Episode 4 - Replacements

James McAvoy as replacement Pvt. James Miller (KIA)

The weakest of the episodes in my opinion. I think because it tried to do too many things.  The title of the episode suggests it's about those replacements coming into the unit throughout the war and trying to fit in.  Most of the pre-episode veterans' interviews discuss their experience with this.  It is told by both vets who were brash, starry eyed replacements and the veterans who, as one says, got to the point where they didn't want to get close to the replacements because they didn't want to see them killed.  James McAvoy, as Pvt. Miller, is the token 'here's what we mean' character for the episode.  Nonetheless, the episode spends only a portion of its time focused on this angle.  It also tries to give a sweeping bird's eye view of the 101st's part in the failed Market-Garden campaign, one of the great Allied blunders in WW2 (though my son disputes that assessment).  And then, to add to the list, it decides to make one of the veterans - "Bull" Randleman - a focal point, giving about a quarter of the story to his exploits when caught behind enemy lines.  As some critics pointed out, Winters was clear that Randleman was hands down the best soldier in the company.  Nonetheless, that doesn't necessarily mean that, on his own, he would be the most interesting.  Plus the fighting in the episode, while based loosely on their exploits in and around the town of  Nuenen, comes off as a bit generic.  That is, the pieces are all there, but unlike other battles filmed in the series, you get the impression it's not a step-by-step retelling.  At the end of the day, this suffers from wanting to do too much with too little time.  Had it been over two episodes it might have been better.  Nothing horrible, just not enough and too much at the same time. 

#9. Episode 1 - Currahee

David Schwimmer as Lt. Sobel dresses down Pvt Malarkey (Scott Grimes)

This is the introduction episode.  If you've seen one 'boot camp' segment in a  movie, you've seen them all.  Many of the vignettes come from stories told by the veterans, such as the bumbling of their CO during maneuvers, the practical joke involving an English cattle farm, the court-martial of Dick Winters, and the CO's trick of serving spaghetti for lunch only to break in and send everyone out on a vomit inducing run.  You have dozens of characters thrown at you, and it requires multiple viewings before you sort them out.  You are introduced to Dick Winters (played by Damien Lewis), who Hanks and Spielberg agreed would be the one much needed focal character of the series.  Winters is a significant character in Ambrose's book, though hardly the only focus, or even the main focus.  Having read the book after watching series, in fact, I was taken by how Winters was often merely one source of many.  In the television series, however, he was chosen because, as a leader, the emphasis would make sense to the audience. Plus, as Tom Hanks said, they knew nobody in Easy Company would object to Winters getting the attention, as he was much loved and admired by his men.  Ambrose agreed, saying that to the men of Company E, Winters was like unto a god.  You also meet their commanding officer during basic training, Herbert Sobel.  The Sobel family objected to the portrayal of him, but the vets all held firm that in this case the portrayal was fair.  Winters himself said that Sobel was the worst type of commander, a petty and vindictive fellow who seemed to get his kicks bullying the recruits.  While he was good with basic physical training, he proved poor with tactics.  Hence his real life transfer before the D-Day invasion.  The only good point about him, per the veterans, was that almost every man in some way owed their survival to Sobel (played against type by Friends alumnus David Schwimmer).  After all, he put them through hell and, what's more, got them to go above and beyond if for no other reason than to 'stick it to Sobel'.  The episode wraps up on the eve of the airborne assault on Normandy, the night before the amphibious landings.  

In one of the more telling scenes, right before they board their planes to fly into action, one of the men - Pvt. Guarnerr - accidently discovers his brother was killed in action in Italy.  According to those around him who remembered the story, his reaction was pretty much as portrayed in the show.  He said he hated it for his mom, but then said it's time to go and get the job done.  Perhaps that old Victorian stoicism wasn't always pure Christian morality, but I can't help but think we lost something in that level of grit, and have gone way far in the opposite direction these days. 

#8. Episode 10 - Points

Pvt. John Janovich (KIA) fraternizes with the enemy after the end of hostilities

This is the wrap-up episode.  It is only after this episode ends that you are shown the names of the actual veterans who were interviewed through the series.  Not all of them.  Mostly just the veterans whose characters were shown in the majority of episodes.  The episode itself merely strings together a series of stories and events into a vague 'winding things down' plotline.  The instance in which a drunken American soldier shoots one of the men in the Company, and how that drunken soldiers is 'dealt with' is the high point.  Otherwise it's seeing this person transferred here, that person going home there, and generally mopping things up.  Though one constant is the fear the men have of being transferred to the Pacific; a fear that loomed large in those final months.  Another theme is how, even after hostilities cease, accidents did happen, as the soldier who was shot demonstrated, or another dying in a car accident.  At the end, the war is over and we're treated to a sort of 'where are they now' narration from Lewis as Winters. Perhaps the high point of the episode was a decision that would not happen today.  To give the obligatory 'this is what the whole series is about' speech, focusing on the 'Band of Brothers' ideal, Spielberg chose to use a German general (played by German actor Wolf Kahler, most famous to Americans as Colonel Dietrich in Raiders of the Lost Ark).  The American characters watch as he addresses his defeated troops, and speaks of all that they should take with them from this bond they have developed as combat veterans.  Again, wouldn't happen today, choosing a German in WW2 to make that point.  But in 2001, finding ways to come together and reconcile was still a thing.  

As a side note, Ambrose observed that a great number of the E Company vets, in the years following the war, took up jobs in one of two general categories.  They either turned to professions that dealt with serving or helping people, or they got jobs in agriculture, architecture, construction, or similar. That is, jobs that built and grew things, or helped others.  As if, without saying it or planning it, they instinctively sought out livings that would offset their youth that was spent among unimaginable death and destruction.  Sometimes I think our obsession with mental health has people being pushed along when, if we just stand back, we might see people will find ways to overcome.  

#7. Episode 9 - Why We Fight 

"Are you criminals?  Nein! Nein. Nein ... Juden."

The most somber of the episodes, it is the 'Holocaust' episode.  This is the most artistic, symbolic episode, and also the one that ignored the vets' requests not to have a gratuitous sex scene.  If I may unpack that a bit.  When Hanks went to Spielberg about doing BoB, he said he wanted the vets to have at least some input.  Early on, he asked what they would like to see in a series that they didn't see in Saving Private Ryan.  There were three things according to Hanks: 1) Please don't act like nobody smoked in 1944.  Whatever the modern sensitives, not showing cigarettes as the gold standard of trade that they were is grossly inaccurate. 2) Please no gratuitous sex scenes.  They'd like to watch this with the grandkids.  Finally 3), could they cut down on the cussing.  Hanks recalled responding with some skepticism, assuring them that people cussed back then.  To which, according to Hanks, they responded that 'yes they cussed - but not like that!' (referring to the endless barrage of vulgarities and pornographic expletives in Saving Private Ryan).  Winters would say in his memoirs that the cussing was most common at basic training, when the young men were away from home for the first time.  But then, said Winters, they grew up.  Sure there was cussing, but it wasn't the dominant form of communications that modern movies suggest. Winters himself said he didn't cuss, not because of some religious objection - though he was religious and, despite being only alluded to in the series, spent most Sundays in church.  He avoided cussing because he knew if he did cuss to drive home a point, it caught the men's attention (sort of like Patton - if they all swore like in SPR, then Patton's famous speeches would have been closer to Mary Poppins).  Nonetheless, this is the episode where it had to fulfill the HBO sex scene obligation.  

The overall episode cuts several corners and, quite frankly, moves events around to have E. Company arrive at a Nazi death camp in a way that fit with the theme and symbolism.  Much of it is therefore 'generic' or fictionalized, with much less taken verbatim from the sources.  Winters' best friend Nixon  (played well by Ron Livingston), who was with battalion (and briefly regimental) intelligence, is the key figure here.  He is shown as a broken man with family problems, drinking problems, a recent demotion, and a low appraisal of himself.  This depression is kicked off by a real event in which Nixon was in a parachute drop with another unit, being one of a couple who survived when the plane was hit.  At one point he stumbles into an opulent home looking for alcohol, only to be confronted by a contemptuous woman, the wife of a deceased German general, who stares him down.  Later, as the citizens are ordered to clear out the bodies from the horror of the death camp, Nixon walks along and sees the same woman dragging the dead out of a mass burial pit.  This time she looks up with shame at Nixon.  Symbolic stuff.  In a purposefully ironic twist, the interviews with the real vets focus on how those vets realized most German soldiers were just kids, doing their jobs.  The evil wasn't them. In fact, as one vet says, in other circumstances they might have been good friends. Wow.  Not the mentality today. Told in flashback, the episode is bookended by the soldiers of E Company listening to some Germans playing in an impromptu string quartet amidst the bombed out rubble of their town.  At the end, Nixon lets the men know that Hitler is dead from suicide.  Pvt. Webster responds that Hitler should have killed himself three years ago.  And in one of the most poignantly gut wrenching lines of the series, Nixon merely shrugs and says 'Yeah, he should have.  But he didn't', then turns and walks away. Such a pithy statement with so many ramifications.  

As a side note, the ongoing joke about Nixon and his obsession with the scotch whisky Vat 69 was true.  Based on the other vets, Nixon was a clever scrounger, and no matter where they were, he always seemed  magically able to produce his favorite drink when needed.  It would be years before he beat his alcohol problem.

#6. Episode 7 - Breaking Point

"Buck" Compton (Neil McDonough) falls apart.  Some in Easy Co. said it was merely trench foot

The second of the two episodes dedicated to the siege of Bastogne.  The focus in this episode is men being pushed to the brink because of the horrors of war.  You also cash in your dramatic chips in that several of the main characters we have followed meet their ends here.  Either they are permanently wounded, or killed.   Sgt. Carwood Lipton, played brilliantly by Donnie Walberg, is the focal point, and he also provides the narration.  The narration is based on Lipton's  own memoirs, with license.  He's the man of the hour and the one who keeps things held together.  That's because as soldiers die and artillery barrages fill the woods and some men are pushed to the brink, the constant question is 'Where is Dike?' That's Lt. Dike, E. Company's replacement CO.  This is one of the more controversial parts of the series.  In the book, when mentioned, it's clear that Dike and the men of E. Company did not hit it off.  Lipton in particular was rather scathing in his assessment of Dike as 'an empty suit.'  But in real life, Dike was a capable soldier who had already earned two bronze stars, in addition to other citations, for bravery and leadership.  When the company attacked the town of Foy, it shows Dike having a complete breakdown and being replaced by Lt. Speirs.  Some, however, say he was hit during the attack and stopped only because of that.  There was no such breakdown.  Most men of E. Company, however, say he fell apart under pressure.  In any event, his decision to halt the attack - agreed upon by all witnesses - was a disaster and almost cost the battle.  The episode gives the impression that Dike died in the battle.  Instead, he continued to serve until the end of hostilities, and served in Korea with distinction, eventually making Lt. Colonel.  Why the difference in perspectives?  That's history for you.  It could just be he had a particular style, one that the tight (and at times full of themselves) men of the 101st did not warm to.  

It's also worth noting from a production standpoint that the scenes from this episode were filmed first.  As a result, to be brutally honest, some of the performances weren't quite honed yet.  Some of the actors were still 'getting into their characters.'  Plus, several of the actors were British, including Damien Lewis as Winters.  And it shows.  In a few scenes they are still working out their American accents, and their line delivery is a bit stilted.  It doesn't last long, and in other scenes in the episode it's much smoother.  Nonetheless, there is a certain 'learning curve' that you can detect, especially upon subsequent viewings.  One of my sons said, however, you might be able to excuse the line delivery since it was supposed to be Bastogne, in freezing weather, and anyone would sound a bit off in that case. 

#5. Episode 8 - The Last Patrol

Compare Sgt. Malarkey to his earlier picture - the price of war

The follow up to the Bastogne episodes, this shows the futility of war, the general waste and, sometimes, shallow reasons for decision making.  In short, the men are being asked to go on patrol and seize German prisoners for questioning.  The problem - per the series - is that this is being done so that Col. Sink, their regimental commander (Dale Dye), can brag to his buddies.  A cost too big to pay for bragging.  You're introduced to a Lt. Jones (play by Hanks' son Colin Hanks), and reintroduced to Pvt. Webber (Eion Bailey).  Webber was a Harvard man.  Per the memories of those in Easy Company, he was a fine soldier.  He did anything you asked of him - but no more.  He was said to be a bit aloof and often distant owing to his Harvard pedigree.  Years later he was lost in a boating accident.  His own memoirs, however, were plumbed heavily by Ambrose for his book.  In this episode, he returns from being wounded in Holland, only to get the cold shoulder from the others.  Why?  He was with them from the beginning, jumped on D-Day and fought in Market Garden.  Ah, but he wasn't at Bastogne, and that's the star on the belly versus no star on the belly distinction.  Only by the end of the episode, after he goes on patrol (Easy Company's last combat mission of the war), does he earn his way back into their good graces.  Altogether a tight episode, enough action, but more focus on characters, and their changes over the course of the war.  As a note, the character of Pvt. Cobb was, per Winters, given a bad spin.  In the series he's the token 'jerk', the one who insults, puts down, and generally spouts off obnoxious dribble, while being nowhere as good as he thinks he is.  Winters admitted that, when he drank, Cobb could be a bit abrasive.  But overall, Winters corrected the idea that he was always like that.   He also added that,  again in Winters' opinion, he was one of the better soldiers in the outfit.   

I must admit I also personally liked the episode because it showed what my dad used to say about being in the army.  Especially what did and didn't get you in good graces of your peers.  At one point Webster goes to Lt. Spiers and objects to being put on the patrol as a translator.  After all, Joseph Liebgott is on the patrol and Liebgott knows German.  Plus there was only supposed to be fifteen, and Webster makes sixteen on the patrol. Why do they need Webster?  Without missing a beat, Lt. Spiers looks a Liebgott and asks if Liebgott would like to sit this one out.  At which point Liebgott winks at Webster and says thanks.  Not what Webster meant.  I remember my dad saying that in the army there was little patience for those who tried to get out of things by hoisting them on others. 

#4. Episode 5 - Crossroads

Their chemistry (as Winters and Nixon)  was wonderful as best friends who experienced the war differently

Another 'it really happened' episode based upon a celebrated encounter between an outnumbered Winters and his men versus a much larger German force.  This one also focuses on Dick Winters and, as can be expected, was his least favorite episode.  He called it silly.  He also strongly objected to the scene that has him gun down an unarmed sentry possessing a cherubic face.  His report stated clearly that the engagement was with an older, armed veteran.  Winters said he never would have gunned down an unarmed man like that.  Plus the episode has Winters experiencing a form of PTSD while on 48 hour leave in Paris.  Winters stated you didn't have PTSD on 48 hour leave.  That wasn't enough time.  You had to be away from combat for a longer time before the visions and the unwanted memories start up.  The actual engagement, in which Winters and a handful of his company destroy two SS infantry companies, is pretty much shown as it happened.  The combat scenes in the series are at their best when they simply take what happened and show it.  Despite Winters' own misgivings, it is a well written episode, and one that zeroes in on more than just 'soldier in a combat setting.'  The story actually sets up Winters as the brilliant tactical leader who is promoted, and then inundated with the boredom of administrative leadership.  The episode opens, in fact, with Winters getting chewed out for not having his reports done on time.  The combat at the crossroads is told in flashback as Winters struggles to put things down on paper.  In other words, great men are not always great at everything.  This is driven home later when, according to real events, the new commander of E Company is accidently shot by a nervous US sentry.  When 'Doc' Roe the medic shows up, he asks if the man has been given morphine.  Winters and his friend Lt. Welsh respond that he has, but they can't recall how much.  At that point the medic rips into them for being irresponsible, as Winters can only display an understandable level of self-reproachment from yet another dressing down.  It's after this that Winters goes on his brief 'fish out of water' R&R in Paris, returning just in time before the episode sets up the events that will lead the 101st to their rendezvous with destiny at Bastogne.  

#3. Episode 6 - Bastogne

Awaiting the cry for a medic.  It didn't hurt that actor Shane Taylor as 'Doc' Roe bears an uncanny resemblance to my late uncle.

I have a soft spot for this episode.  My uncle - my dad's brother - was a medic with Patton's 3rd Army.  That's the one that broke through the German lines around Bastogne and relieved the 101st, despite what the men of Easy Company insist.  We had no way of knowing what he experienced since he, like most combat veterans in my family, spent little to no time discussing his experiences.  In this episode, it focuses on one of the company's medics, Eugene 'Doc' Roe.  According to the veterans, the most important men in the company were the chaplains (shockingly not given much screen time) and the medics.  This episode shows the horrible wringer that a combat medic would be put through, as he must wait while men he has gotten to know get shot, hit, and otherwise wounded - sometimes mortally - and only then hope he has the abilities to save them.  Throughout the episode he returns to Bastogne at times to deliver the seriously wounded to a makeshift hospital.  There he meets two young women, one Belgium and one Congolese, who are nurses.  Contrary to what some viewers imagined, the two nurses were historical figures, not fictional.  Whether Roe actually met them in real life or not is unknown, and their interactions purely the result of the writers' imaginations.  But it allows Roe to reflect on his experiences, and to hear an outsider's view of things as well.  The slow unraveling that Roe goes through as the pressures mount and the horrors compound is brilliantly done.  By the end, it shows Winters' leadership ability when he sees Roe possess the famous 'thousand yard stare' of combat, and tells Roe to go back to Bastogne to get some rest.  But there is no rest for the medic as the wounded and dying are all around.  The episode tries to show the bitter cold, the lack of supplies and rations, and the general misery of the experience as best it can.  And, unlike most war productions, chooses a man outside of an armed combat role to illustrate the theme.  It is a bit better, and more focused then the second episode dealing with Bastogne (see #6 above). 

#2. Episode 3 - Carentan.  

British actor Mark Warren as Pvt. Albert Blithe, who did not die in 1948

When this episode first aired, it was preceded by a warning that the following depicted in brutal filmmaking the horrors of modern, industrial war.  And it wasn't kidding.  Though the results of battle are seen in many episodes, it is here where you see the actual carnage as it happens.  Like no other episode, you see the injuries, the horrible wounds, and the fatalities as they happen and how they happen.  For instance, you get to see graphically the dangers of fighting alongside tanks.  The episode focuses on a character who doesn't appear in any significant way in any other episode - Pvt. Blithe.  It opens with him in a state of shock following the initial airdrop into Normandy. Finally he falls back in as we're walked through the days following the Normandy landings.  Eventually the 101st will come upon the important town of Carentan.  It is here that the 101st got its first big baptism by fire.  They were called upon to attack a defended town, and paid for their effort with many casualties as a result.  The episode stays focused on Blithe, with some poetic license meant to trace the arc that develops from Blithe as stunned, overwhelmed novice to Blithe, seasoned veteran following the battle to take Carentan.  He eventually is wounded, and the text after the episode says he died of his wounds in 1948.  In one of many corrections following the series, it was reported by his family that he did no such thing, but lived until the late 60s (though he never did fully recover from his wounds).  

One of the most celebrated scenes in the whole series happens at the end of this episode.  Back in England, one of the men, Sgt. Malarky, goes to a local woman who does many of the soldiers' laundry for them.  It's one of those scenes that has much unstated buckshot to it.  From the woman asking if he would like to join her for 'a cup of tea', to him politely declining, then catching himself in mid-cussword and reverting to his polite manners, to her asking  him at least to help with the laundry that has been left behind - by the men who died over D-Day -  it puts much into little.  It's good writing, as is most of the episode, and could almost be considered the best of the list.  

#1. Episode 2 - Day of Days

Winters prepares to lead his men in the much lauded (and improvised) attack on German artillery on D-Day

The shortest of the episodes, it is the best because it simply says 'this is what happened.'  Of all the episodes it leans most heavily on the accounts of the men with as little embellishment as possible.  Not that it doesn't combine characters or cut corners, but it's done with an eye dropper if it's done at all.  The episode throws you into the fray, literally taking up where the first episode left off.  Suddenly you're in the planes with the troops ready to jump, with the chaos, explosions, death and confusion that resulted.  It's as intense and nail biting as anything in Saving Private Ryan.  You don't have time to take a breath until the next day with sunlight and the coming of the seaborn invasion.  In one embellishment, it sets up the big mystery about whether or not Lt. Speirs (played by Matthew Settle) actually killed several German prisoners.  That was a real thing, and he was under investigation when the officer in charge of the investigation was killed in action, and the case never picked up again.  Contrary to modern imagining, you weren't allowed to just gun down prisoners willy-nilly back then.  The series jumps on this and uses it as an ongoing storyline a bit more than it was in real life.  Again, Hollywood.  Nonetheless, when it comes to Winters and his men taking out the German artillery battery at Brecourt Manor, it is filmed with near documentary style accuracy.  With only a few embellishments and cutting down for time, it walks the audience through how it was done.  It shows their first true encounter with a German position, and how its effected those involved.  A major focal point is how the men fought to avoid being taken away, even when wounded, because they didn't want to let their fellow infantrymen down.  No cry-rooms or snowflakes here.  It also continues the focus on Winters, and walks along with him until the end.  At that stage, the night of D-Day, Lewis quotes Winters' original promise to himself and to God that if he survives the war, he will get a piece of land somewhere, and live the rest of his life in peace. A promise that Winters, in his post-war years, kept. 

RIP Richard Winters (1918-2011) and all the veterans, and thank you.