Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Of a professional wrestler and the artist's version he used for entrances

For some reason, I was reflecting on my youth and the entrance music of a popular professional wrestler in the 1980's whose gimmick had a 1940's influence and a 1960's pop song as his entrance music.  Remember which wrestler used the song?

Yes, it was this artist's version that was used, although this is the current version of the group that is being used.  Which wrestler used this song as his entrance music?  Personally I'd still have this group than what goes for "pop music" today.

Those days of watching championship "wrestling" as a kid and hearing this song that always meant one wrestler's entrance!

Friday, December 25, 2015

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 25: wishing you a...

An ad not for Coke, which produced the product, but Vendo, which made the machine that kept the product cold. What a wonderful, vivid ad, and a great way to bring this series to an end. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did - don't worry, this just scratches the surface of what's out there, and there's no reason we can't do this again next year. And a Merry Christmas to you all!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 24: the big night

Doesn't this ad perfectly capture the anticipation of Christmas Eve? I used to get so excited on Christmas Eve I'd get almost physically ill. It's strange, I know, but that's what happens when you're a kid.

Wish I'd written that

I think Ricky Brooks must be involved in the final decision of the Miss Universe 2015 pageant."

-- Daniel Hemric, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver.

Ricky Brooks is the lead technical inspection official at many big-money Super Late Model races, including the Snowball Derby in Pensacola held in the first full week of December.  Many times, his events end with a notable disqualification of the winner for various sundry technical issues, such as Christopher Bell's disqualification, once in qualifying for violation of a Super Late Model unified rule on car body mounting, and once after the race for the car's left-side weight being greater than the 58.0% maximum in post-race inspection two weeks ago at the Snowball.

The Brad Keselowski Racing driver's comments referenced the Miss Universe pageant's mistake by host Steve Harvey, which ruined a throwback since the pageant's glory days a Goodson-Todman show host led the pageant (Barker), and Harvey being the host of a Goodson-Todman show currently.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 23: we dish you a Merry Christmas

Because what woman doesn't look forward to finding this under the tree?

Back in the day

Where was this gig when I was 30?" -- Steve Harvey, on hosting Miss Universe at 58.

Well, Steve.  Bob Barker hosted Miss Universe for the last time.  And you are the first Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions game show host to do Miss Universe since Mr. Barker.

(NOTE:  Although Mark Goodson died in 1992, and the family has since sold it, the Goodson library is now part of German television network RTL.  Family Feud, like The Price Is Right, was a Goodson-Todman library show, so Mr. Harvey is the first Goodson-Todman show host since Mr. Barker to do the pageants.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 22: say it with aluminum

At first I thought this said, "Hunting Season," which I'm sure is what they wanted to play off of.  I know I have problems with Disney, but that would have been going too far...

Monday, December 21, 2015

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 21: the "St. Nick" of time

The way things are going in this country, I'm more confident about Rolex always being there than Christmas.

I only wish I was kidding.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 20: how sweet it is

Aren't these colors great? Sharp and vivid, especially against the black backdrop. Perfect for those Christmas parties.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 19: have an RC and a smile?

You mean Coke isn't the only soft drink at Christmas?  But if Barbara Stanwyck says to drink RC Cola, who am I to disagree?

Friday, December 18, 2015

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 18: full steam ahead!

Now this is a contemporary ad that gets it right. It's from the 2013 Lionel Christmas catalog, but it has all the hallmarks of ads from 50 or more years ago: the vivid colors, the wonderful detail (note the reflection of the engine on the polished surface of the table), the cookies and milk under the tree, and Santa himself looking with loving care upon the gift he's about to leave some lucky child. The gift of a train itself evokes so many memories of Christmases past - yes, this is an ad that presses all the buttons. Makes me wish Santa was bringing me one this year.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 17: it doesn't add up

Whatever else you do, do not get this as a Christmas gift. For anyone. This is not a good idea. I don't know many people who appreciate a scale at any time of the year, let alone Christmas, and though I have one myself, I promise you I will not be looking at it between now and the end of the year. Whoever greenlighted this ad should not be allowed anywhere near Sales and Marketing in the future.

Classic Sports Thursday - Remembering New England racing legend Ron Bouchard

The news came in last Thursday morning in Massachusetts -- legendary New England Modified racer Ron Bouchard, who pulled off the upset in the August 1981 Talladega NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race for his only win, died December 10.

The son-in-law of New England racer "Steady" Ed Flemke, Sr, a popular New England Modified racer in a time where the Mod Squad (glorified in the 2010 History documentary "Madhouse" about Modified racing in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, which is one of the few places in the Southeast where the division of Yankee racing has a stronghold) provided drivers, mechanics, and broadcasters (SiriusXM's Jackie Arute, as he was called at Stafford Speedway in the glory years where he and Mike Joy served as public address announcers, is one, and owns that track in Connecticut with his brothers;  Joy often says the best motorsport broadcasters have a strong background in local track announcing), Bouchard scored his only Sprint Cup win in the dramatic tri-oval to the line pass at Talladega against two future Hall of Fame members in 1981.  He scored two more national series wins, sweeping the 1984 Xfinity Series 200-mile races at the historic Darlington Raceway held before the Rebel and Southern 500 races.  As his career would down, Bouchard, as was the case with both of the drivers he beat in the Talladega finish, would turn to owning an automobile dealership in his Fitchburg, MA home, where some of his Modifieds and his Cup winner are stored in a recently opened museum.

Here is a clip of the 1981 Talladega upset -- the winning car is at the Bouchard family dealership for viewing.

Today, Ron Bouchard's Auto Stores () represents Honda, Hyndai Motor Group, Fiat, and Nissan in Massachusetts.

He is survived by wife Paula, whom he was married over 32 years, and their children are part of the family dealership.

Godspeed, Ron.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 16: Santa and a smile

Just as the cartoonist Thomas Nast first came up with the modern concept of Santa Claus, Haddon Sundblom's iconic paintings of the Coke Santa have really become the face of Santa today. I never fail to smile at these; they're so warm, capturing the awe and wonder of childhood Christmases, that we'll look at several of them in the next ten days. In this one, the boy presumably wonders if it's naughty behavior to raid the icebox of people you don't know.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 15: just under the surface

I really like the midcentury graphics of this 1959 ad; I have memories of this kind of illustration from the tail end of its run, in the early '60s, before things got more psychedelic. But still - underwear for Christmas? As someone once said, this is what you get when you don't believe in Santa.

Monday, December 14, 2015

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 14: what a ham!

So when did ham become the Christmas standard? We eat turkey on Christmas, but so many people seem to opt for this instead. Looking back at old movies and television shows, you hear people talk about turkey and goose, but not ham. And yet this ad shows that it was always part of the tradition.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

25 Days of Advent, Day 13: by the bag or by the box

Just like Whitman's Samplers, Brach's chocolate is one of the classic Christmas gifts. You can see the pleasure Santa has in bringing them, although he looks so pleased, I'd open the box and count to make sure they're all there before I let Santa leave...

Saturday, December 12, 2015

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 12: not even training wheels!

This picture tells so many stories. It's a crisp, clear Christmas morning, and the lucky recipient of this bicycle is so excited he can't wait to get it outside, even in the snow. His friends have gathered around to check it out; perhaps some of them have gotten bikes as well. In the background the parents, happy to have pleased their son, proud that he takes a step into the next stage of his life. As I say, a great story.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Thursday, December 10, 2015

New York Media shows hatred of Heartland's belief in God in light of San Bernardino Shootings

Source:Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times / Polaris 
Breakfast Thursday sounded normal, as would be the Thursday of all Thursdays, but in light of last Wednesday’s horrific terrorist attack in San Bernardino, in the Inland Empire, the shock of a Christmas Party gone rogue resulting in the shooting deaths of 14, then the chase that led to the death of the two assailants left a nation in shambles. Members of the Contender Round in the Republican Chase still remaining (that once-16 strong field has become whittled to 11; it seems there is a NASCAR Chase-style theme – Challenger 17, Contender 12, Eliminator 8, Championship 4 – in the Republican field) expressed thoughts and prayers to the victims.

That, however, left the New York Daily News to show their elite hand in their Thursday edition. The headline was in favour of gun control and mocked the quotes of two members of the GOP Contender Round, the official Leader of the Loyal Opposition (aka the Prime Minister of the United States), and our Senior Senator in a headline that ridiculed America's Heartland in favour of a worldview of the ruling elites. Much in the way Justice Scalia scolded New York elites in their overturning of Constitutions of a three-fifths majority during a famous dissent in June, the New York elites scolded the heartland of America that has a strong belief in God. Albert Mohler reminded listeners in his Briefing commentary Thursday of Genesis 4, where Cain slew Abel, and had his own rebuttal to both the Daily News and The Atlantic, which also bashed the prayerful leadership, citing references to the 1880's in regards to the quotes.

This led to me reminding myself of the United Nations General Assembly where Pope Francis spoke recently, where in front of His Holiness, Shakira performed the John Lennon hit “Imagine,” an anthem of the humanist utopia, a world without God, having been performed at the closing ceremonies of the two most recent Olympic Games held in Europe (Turin 2006, London 2012) and played before the ball drop at Times Square. Here was the Pope, in New York, and a pop diva sang the ultimate insult to those of faith. Now compare that to our little Summer Chorus in June, where we sang Felix Mendelssohn's call for prayer taken from Psalm 55. The New York Daily News had clearly pushed Lennon, while the four leaders mocked by the newspaper, and the majority of Americans, supported Mendelssohn's “Hör Mein Bitten”.  Think over the six lines from this wonderful song (from the English):

Take heed to me! Hear how in prayer I mourn to Thee,
Without Thee all is dark, I have no guide.
The enemy shouteth, the godless come fast!
Iniquity, hatred, upon me they cast!
The wicked oppress me, Ah where shall I fly?
Perplexed and bewildered, O God, hear my cry!

To have the media mock the leaders for asking God to hear our prayers, as in Mendelssohn's beautiful masterpiece that I thoroughly enjoyed singing in June, and effectively picture the vision of the world provided by a pop singer of the 1960's whose surname is a homonym of the founder of the CCCP worshipped by elites who want this nation to turn to the values of the CCCP as superior to those of the nation built on the Bible and the law of God, as De Tocqueville noted.

Is the United States a nation that believes in the godless ideals of the 1960's pop hit, or one of Mendelssohn's passionate cry for prayer?

Albert Mohler, “The Briefing,” December 3, 2015.

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 10: playing to type

One of my favorite scenes in A Christmas Story comes at the very beginning, when the kids are pressed up against the store windows, looking in awe at the new toys. Somehow, I doubt a typewriter would have inspired the same awe, but who knows?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Decency makes a stand at Fox

Fox News and Business suspended Ralph Peters and Stacey Dash two weeks for comments made on Monday's Varney & Company (Mr. Peters) and Outnumbered (Miss Dash) where each contributor made remarks that legally crossed the line into obscene.

In the former, airing in the 9 AM Eastern Time hour, where televisions at financial institutions are often tuned to the Fox Business Network, Mr. Peters made this comment:

“Mr. President, we’re not afraid! We’re angry! We’re pissed off! We’re furious!  We want you to react. We want you to do something. You’re afraid! I mean, this guy is such a total (expletive), it’s stunning! We, the American people, who he does not know in any intimate sort of manner, we want action. We want action against Islamic State.”

In the latter, airing at the 12 Noon hour, where restaurant televisions are often tuned to Fox News, Miss Dash responded to the President's speech the previous night:

“His speech was an epic fail. It was like when you have to go to dinner with your parents, but you have a party to go to afterwards. That’s what it felt like – I felt like he could give a (expletive) – excuse me, like he could care less.”

Fox promptly threw a two-week suspension on both parties for their language.  Before you consider criticising Fox News for this, consider the words they said.  One was a sexually explicit reference that we heard in the late 1980's-early 1990's rap group “2 Live Crew,” which went over the edge.  The other was a word that has drawn NASCAR's ire with heavy fine and points penalties for its use in a rule imposed after Super Bowl XXXVIII.  Yes, cable does not have the same language requirements on broadcast, which his why elite television (HBO, Showtime, Netflix, Amazon Prime) dominate today as they have no language standards.  But Fox News has made it clear that if you want to discuss the issue, please be decent and not resort to gutter language on the street.  It is highly unprofessional, and in a world where standards must be restored, Fox News has posted the ultimate warning regarding television decency.  We need to return to decency, and punishing people for indecent language on broadcasts is a welcome sight that we have long needed.

A news broadcast is not a place for profanity.  We had those standards in school, we have those standards in work, and we have standards where obscene language would shame a person.  Glad to see Fox have decency standards in place when that is sorely needed today.  You can make your point, but gutter language from the thug life is never to be accepted.  Would a debater use such saucy obscene language to win a debate?

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 9: Plymouth rocks

There's just something very, very inviting about this ad. Perhaps it's the vividness of the colors, the red rug in the entryway, the wreath hanging on the front door and the red decorations hanging down from the walls. Maybe it's the arms laden with gifts on what probably is Christmas Eve. The holly inserted in various parts of the frame. Whatever, it's a wonderful tableau - so much better than the car ads you see at Christmastime nowadays, when it's all about doing something for yourself, rather than allowing the car to be a reminder of the joy you can bring to others.

Monday, December 7, 2015

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 7: faster than a speeding sleigh

Yes, in the days before Federal Express, having a gift or letter delivered via Air Mail was a big deal - when you got a package with the distinctive striping pattern around the edges, especially at Christmastime, it was special. So is FedEx, but not in the same way.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 6: wrap it up

I don't know about you, but my first thought was that a Christmas gift made from Reynolds Wrap would have been made sometime in first or second grade. Now I can see they might be talking about something else.

The tinsel-type trees are always great, particularly now that they're made from something other than aluminum. You can put lights on it. But then, that's what the color wheel was for.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 5: do you have Prince Albert in a can?

Then you'd better let him out! (Accompanied by the sound of adolescent chortling.)

Seriously - I love the colorfulness of this ad, but it's not something you're likely to see today, is it? And did you notice, a different product for mister and missus? Because you don't see many women smoking a pipe, I'd guess.

Friday, December 4, 2015

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 4: You like him, he likes you

I've never been a big fan of 7Up, but there's something tremendously evocative about this ad. Between the vividness of the colors, the clear night sky, and the smoke swirling lazily up from the snow-covered chimneys, you can almost feel the crispness in the clear cold air. Even though I now live in Texas, this is still how Christmas should feel to me.

I'm confused about one thing, though - I always thought Coca-Cola was Santa's favorite soft drink!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 3: when Christmas meant sacrifice

Christmas during the war years was somber; with most families having loved ones in the line of fire overseas, not having many presents under the tree was the least thing to be concerned about.  Nevertheless, one of the things that I think has been missing during the "War on Terror" has been this sense of shared sacrifice; it's hard to appreciate the gravity of the situation when the response to the enemy is not a call to sacrifice, that we're all in this fight together, but instead urging us to buy more, to show that the terrorists can't bring our economy down. There's something very wrong about that...

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Race-based protests against police show the ego: baby murder mills get more protection than merchants

he actor Page Falkenberg, known as the character “Diamond Dallas Page” from his time in fake combat in what my late father and his surviving brother in California called fake (and now I understand it is the ultimate fakery that is not worth $40 in a pay-per-view for things such as the Screwjob de Montreal), and in light of my college history paper research on the quiz show scandals makes the genre look worse, had a character known for his ego, with the call of a “self high-five” and phrase that would insult a 1990's radio talk show host (now retired – turned 85 this week and I still remember that theme music he used) calls improper grammar when you heard his tag line to start his radio show in its early years that played after the theme song (which was a #1 hit on the Billboard charts 30 years ago).

It shocked me on Thanksgiving night that we had to do our family reunion (my mother's side of the family has three grandchildren who live in the area, and they decided to shop in the Thanksgiving night sales that began before Carrie Underwood hated herself for loving you with a side to Farve the turkey – I was forced to attend and chose to be around the cousins that mattered, including a cousin who was a premature baby 20 years ago Thanksgiving Eve when she was born.  Those are the moments that mattered, even if they did not eat the heritage turkey smoked on a grill while doing a Thanksgiving Day race, fit in another workout with friends, and then ran ten more miles to finish a long run prior to my intended marathon in a few weeks.    Yet, as I pondered the evening after the impromptu reunion with family (Uncle Bobby, as she calls me, is one of the few that she recognises speaking Mandarin now that my grandmother (and her great-grand) died last year), the crowded lines, and even police stacked ten-deep at certain stores, the shocking news of what happened for major shopping events came down to make me ponder what was wrong.

In various places across the country, members of a well-known organisation formed in protest to a policeman shooting a person that stole $50 in tobacco and refused to follow directions have begun blocking roads and stores based on their hatred of police.  Now thanks to Clinton-era policies, if this was a baby murder mill, it would be a federal crime to block such entrances under the “Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act” (FACE), that this Administration enforces.  But no, FACE does not apply if these race-baiting, police-hating organisations (note their derogatory chants towards policemen that glorify their killing, comparing them to breakfast food) that refuse to see common sense and allow police to defend themselves against dangerous thugs with a single-minded mission, glorified in anti-police ditties, wish to block entrances to merchants, churches, or even restricted-access highways (as seen in the MSP area).  How would you like one of those activists blocking an entire highway when you're traveling at over 100 kph on the freeway or be blocked from home and forced to sleep in your car as these protesters block the entrance to the neighborhood, since the only places protected are baby murder mills?

The ego of liberal activists have proven themselves with the blocking of controlled-access highways in MSP, and the Chicago merchants whose entrances were blocked by these activists boasting of social justice.  So it's perfectly legal to block merchants, churches, and the works, but it's not legal to block access to a baby murder mill.  What gives in this era of relativism?  We have, in the view of the Pope Emeritus, fallen into a society of the ego, the self, that demands everything for themselves and nothing for anyone else that does not comply with their view.  The antics of the MSP road blocking, the numerous incidents during Black Friday sales, and the Chicago merchants being blocked display what the Pope Emeritus has referenced as part of the nation's downfall.  Similar to the “Diamond Dallas Page” character that enthralled us in my college days with a few “Diamond Cutters” that we later learned was a character all about selfishness, today's race-baiting organisations have pushed selfishness where if they cannot get their justice, everyone else pays the price, which is exactly how modern liberalism works – colour, perversion, or other types of behaviour work the same way.

25 Days of Ad-Vent, Day 2: throwing some light on the subject

I don't much care for GE products nowadays; I think they're overpriced and not as good as the competition, and I don't have a lot of time for the company itself. But when it comes to Christmas, I still have warm feelings, thanks to ads like this.  General Electric was, of course, the initial sponsor of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and used the animated special's characters in their seasonal ads. They also made the Lighted Ice lights, which probably give me the warmest nostalgic feeling. Perhaps I'll have an ad for them up later.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The 25 Days of Ad-vent

In the past, we've toyed around with some vintage Christmas advertising during December, but this year I'm stepping it up a notch, with something I'm calling "The 25 Days of Ad-vent." Get it? Well, I'm probably still suffering from a tryptophan hangover as I write this, but who cares? There's something about these ads that really speaks to the season; as I've mentioned at the TV blog, they show us an America that is by-and-large gone today but would have been easily recognizable back then, and they represent to us - both visually and in terms of the products being presented - what Christmas was like in that era. (Besides, I need to increase the number of blog articles for the year.)

Don't worry, though - we'll have regular articles as well, when times and topics demand. So it should be a busy month here - let's get started!

Hey, kid, you'll shoot your eye out!

Seriously, you have to like this - a remnant of America's pioneer spirit - the idea that children should be comfortable with the feel of a gun in their hands. Not a bad sentiment for today, if I do say so myself.

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Thankful heart

This from the local news about a thankful heart.  Been very thankful that I've known the Lewis Sisters for ten years.  Caroline the dancer has been my dance teacher and in recent years has been an adviser for me when I consider food, and her sister Joanna is just as much the foodie.  Their mother died two weeks after my father, and it's been a blessing to know both of them.  The elder of the two has mobilised the flood response campaigns in our area.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Flashback Friday: Opera for the masses

Since I've been known to have an affinity for German opera, it shouldn't be a surprise that I'm dipping into the Germanic oveure today. However, rather than Wagner, or even Strauss, I'm looking at an underperformed opera, one that should be performed more often than it is. It's Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny) by Kurt Weill and Bertold Brecht, who more famously brought you "Mack the Knife" from the aptly named Threepenny Opera. (Which is in fact an opera, and not just a part of Bobby Darin's songbook.)

This is one of those pieces I think ought to appear more often; certainly it should be in the crosshairs of opera companies that would rather commission productions that, with few exceptions, won't see the light of day again. Mahagonny was written in 1930, but it's only been in the last 40 years or so that it's gotten anything like significant visibility. (It didn't premiere at the Met until 1979.)

Here's one of the signature moments from the opera: the "Alabama Song" ("Oh, moon af Alabama") from Act I, which is typically performed in English even when the opera is done in German. Valentina Valente is the lead, with Jonathan Webb conducting the orchestra of Teatro Valli.

Of course, you mmight remember the Alabama Song this way instead:

Ah, who says opera can't appeal to the masses?

Originally published March 24, 2011

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A title from the weekend's headlines

This is a title that could have come from the headlines this weekend:

"Son of Indy 500 Champion Marries Drag Queen" 

Congratulations Graham and Courtney!  

Monday, November 23, 2015

Wish I'd written that

These are mediocre times. People are starting to lose hope.”

- Elijah (Samuel L. Jackson) to David (Bruce Willis) in M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Entitlement generation

Much has been said of a nationwide campus walkouts by college students starting in Missouri and Yale, claiming discrimination and demands of equality, which includes "sexual" equality (re: men in women's bathrooms, elimination of prohibitions on sex offenders, and of course, illogical thinking that requires us to pay for all forms of sexual perversion), racial equality (certain people are allowed to loot, dismissal of leaders opposed to their extremist views, and permanent repatriations that everyone else must pay certain people for slavery from over 150 years ago, and other types of absurd ideology that we are seeing in academia from such wicked worldviews.  They are demanding a "safe space" for their antics -- and the courts have forced the entire country to be a "safe space" for sexual perversion though majorities nationally (and over 75% in many states) have said no.  Now they are pushing it on every view they demand.  This is why ENDA and other "discrimination" laws are designed to force conformity with the sexual elites' demands for sexual freedom as the only freedom, and create a worldview apartheid that is worse than racial apartheid of South Africa.

The unruliness of the left's activists everywhere shows no boundaries.  They have automatic excuses for everything, and anyone opposed to them must be removed from campus.  In effect, they are using the campus to develop, in accord with the courts on their side packed with urbanites as noted by Justice Scalia, a dictatorship where all opposing views must be erased from the area and replaced with the one view these crybabies demand must be obeyed by everyone else, even if over 85% oppose it.  Isn't this what led to the Declaration of Independence?

The latest in protest rage has been against college professors such as Carol Swain, who called the modern extreme Islam a threat to security (see the rash of homicide bombers in Paris, Hannover, and other European cities), and other similar professors.  The protesters do not want anyone to read and think about the issues. Rather, they demand a total obedience to the left-wing orthodoxy that they see in Hollywood and certain academics, and most notably, the Executive and Judicial Branches of the government.  And if you do not believe in their ideology, you will be shouted down by the left wing activists in ways you would never believe.    It has become an expansion of Occupy Wall Street to a new generation of college students.

As I simmered over dinner, it dawned on me.  For the past 25 years, since Zell Miller's victory in Georgia, and his idea of expanded government by making the state a bookie through the form of state-run gambling, called a "lottery for education," where the money does not go to academics but instead goes more to the gambling service providers, states have been riding the bandwagon of "gambling for education".  Many states voted a certain way to push the state-run gambling racket.  They have been massive failures, and the result is with more "free" money for kids to attend college, the price of graduate schools and tuition for college as a general rule has gone up considerably because of gambling money funding certain students.  Add to that the Obamacare funding ruse where the government controls all student loans, and we have the perfect storm for disaster in academic funding.  This entitled generation that has been told government is everything demands the government forgive their loans.

Is that the problem in a nutshell?  An entitled generation protesting in college today has not had to work for their tuition; they have had their college allegedly paid by the state-run casinos and the the state-run bank under the socialised medicine programme that prohibits your local First Citizens Bank (North Carolina), South State (the only two banks where I live, I hold shares in both), Toronto Dominion, credit unions, or other well known banks from financing education.  When they learn they must work for it, they refuse and demand more.  Now think about it.  A state-run casino funds students' education, and state-run student loan financing is a monopoly.  They are taught government is their deity, and no education into the free enterprise system, but the virtues of the CCCP by the state-run everything, has created an entitlement generation.  When will they learn the government is the problem?

These students protesting need to be expelled, and the federal monopoly on student loans imposed in Obamacare must be abolished, along with the state casinos that fund education.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Flashback Friday: Our candidate for President

Has the political landscape got you down? Are you dismayed by your candidate's performance? Have falling poll numbers, garbled rhetoric, and missed opportunities driven you to the point of dispair? Are you just so cynical about the whole thing that you're not even sure you're going to vote?

Fear not. For those of you depressed, disenchanted, or otherwise disgusted by the whole thing, we have the change you can believe in.

Go here to read the true story of Car and Driver magazine's epic semi-mock 1964 presidential campaign for the great American race car driver Dan Gurney. David Davis says in his editorial, "As we sit in our office watching the parade of poltroons, charlatans, earnest amateurs and fuzzy idealists that constitutes the current assortment of presidential aspirants, we rebel. We will not let the major political parties lead us down the garden path again this year." Which once again goes to show that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Originally published October 13, 2008

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wish I'd written that: why the internet is not the root of all evil

It's not that the internet has made us crazy. It's that the internet has allowed the crazies to make the debate crazy, because they are the loudest and the most loutish, even when they're dribbling thier bile-froth over the most exquisite pastry in amusing and fascinating designs."

- Lileks, today

Friends, it's as I keep saying: technology, at least most technology, is neither good nor evil, but morally neutral. It's how you use it, along with (sometimes) who it is using it.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Throwback Thursday: The race hucksters

I promise you that none of what I'm about to say is made up. My opinions are my own, and as such they can't be taken as absolute fact, but as for the rest, I kid you not. Anyway, you've probably encountered this as well.

Apparently, although I was unaware of this until quite recently, there are people out there who think that everything – that’s right, every single thing there is – is somehow related to race. (I know, call me naïve. Or call me a cab.)

Proponents of this viewpoint – for the sake of our discussion let’s call them, oh, race hucksters – will steer you to something such as the following ad which Volkswagen ran a few years ago.

In case you can't make out the captions, the one below the black car reads, "Naughty?" while underneath the white care is the word "Nice?" According to the race hucksters, “what is quickly evident [from the ad] is that the ad at some level willingly plays on racial stereotypes. This is simply one tiny example of how pervasive race is embedded in society.” As support for this position they refer to comments from people who were shown the ad and were asked what conclusions they drew from it. “Black is naughty while White is nice,” said one, “Black is bad and White is good,” offered another, and “Black is evil,” opined a third. The moral of the story, such as it was, was that the ad was either racist or insensitive to those who might perceive a racial subtext to it.

Who knew? Me, I saw two cars: a black one and a white one, and wondered which one would be easier to keep clean. (Hint: black shows spots, white shows dirt.)

My most vivid experience with the race hucksters came a few years ago, when I was introduced to the concept of Unearned White Privilege. This is when I worked at the YMCA in Minneapolis, and I'm not entirely sure why we were subjected to the series of sessions at which we discussed these and other burning topics, such as how members of minorities can't be racists, even if they admit they hate people of other colors and creeds, and want to see them all dead. You see, racism is really oppression; ergo, only people in positions of power - white people, in other words - can be racist. Search me; I always thought being a racist meant you thought one race was inherently inferior to another, and deserved to be treated accordingly.

Actually, and I'm going to digress for a minute here, I do know why the employees of the YMCA were put through this Inquisition (like the one in Spain, except not as funny). It's because the daughter of the chairman of the board of trustees of the Minneapolis YMCA was the facilitator for this particular series of seminars, and he cajoled the Y into hiring her company to do this training in order to boost her sales. I don't think they really approved of my attitude toward the whole thing, since I managed to maneuver myself into the group that considered themselves discriminated against on the grounds that as a white man I was subjected to more quotas and obstacles than other employees. My boss at the time said that many people found it a life-altering, cathartic experience. Personally, I think they were probably having convulsions from vomiting, based on the bilge they were being fed.  Or maybe not; my lasting memory of these sessions was a sensitive, bearded young white man weeping and begging for forgiveness from his colleagues for having been so insensitive as to have been born white.

I have a firm notion of personal responsibility, and I've always considered myself dedicated to maintaining a good reputation (because, after all, you never get a second chance to make a first impression). However, my idea of personal responsibility does not extend to the actions which a segment of an element of society with which I happen to share the same skin color happened to do something horrible a couple of centuries ago.

In fact, what is quickly evident to me from this whole discussion is that some people simply don’t have enough to do, while others try their hardest to make a living from race-baiting. Think of it – if race weren’t an issue, they’d be out of a job.

We know who these people are. Think Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton – where would they be if they actually succeeded in their agendas? It’s actually to their advantage to fail – it keeps them employed. That's even better than being a TV meterologist. Show me a job like that and I’ll sign up in a heartbeat.

We know these people have an agenda, and what that agenda is. We’re not here today for an in-depth discussion of that agenda; it probably requires a book to even scratch the surface of it. But we are going to look at one small aspect – the infusion of everything with the stain of racism – and why it doesn’t hold water. For the sake of time, let’s focus on this ad, the ad that “at some level willingly plays on racial stereotypes.” So, white and black = good and evil = racial stereotype. True or false?

Far from being an example of racial stereotyping, the use of white and black as symbols of good and evil is one deeply ingrained in the human psyche, going back to the Bible. One need look no further than Psalm 51, in which the psalmist says, “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." What better color against which to demonstrate the stain of sin than white? It may be difficult to tell the cleanliness of a colored background, but there can be no mistaking the dazzling brilliance of a clean white background.

To the extent that white and black are identified with light and dark (and anyone with eyes to see can make that link), the metaphors associated with these colors are unmistakable. For instance, in Matthew 6:22-23, Jesus says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

Jesus seemed to think a lot of this symbolism; in Luke 11:33-36 He says, “No man when he lights a candle puts it in a secret place; neither under a bushel; but on a candle stick, that they which come in may see the light. The light of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is single or healthy, your whole body also is full of light, but when your eye is evil or diseased, your body is also full of darkness. If your whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle gives you light.”

Look, darkness is not in fact a metaphor for racism, but it refers to the ability to hide from the light of truth. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out, let alone a scriptural scholar. All it really requires is a little common sense.

In one of his early 60s television shows, Bishop Fulton Sheen recalls Christ’s words, “He who follows me shall not walk in the darkness" (John 8:12). Using his famed chalkboard, Bishop Sheen illustrates this point with a practical demonstration of the effects of light and shadow: when one walks away from the sun (or the Son, if you will), the light will be at your back, casting a shadow before you. The darkness from this shadow is twofold; it serves both as a cloak to hide your activities (and why would you hide them unless they shamed you?), and it also acts to block you from the illumination of grace and truth. On the other hand, the one who follows Christ walks toward the light. This means the shadow is now behind you rather than in front; you are casting off the darkness, exposing yourself to the brilliance of truth, living your life in the open rather than in hiding.

Thus endeth the theological lesson for today. (Want more? Go here.)

Could white and black be used in a racial context? Of course they could; nowadays, words can mean just about anything you want them to mean. But in challenging the basic symbolism linking white and black with good and evil, these race hucksters want to make you think there is something wrong with the whole analogy. Common sense will tell you otherwise. It will tell you that there are strong reasons for this symbolism, reasons that go beyond politics. It will tell you that the hucksters who peddle this nonsense have their own agenda, and in fact they’re hoping that the moral authority in which they cloak themselves will cast a shadow large enough and long enough to hide that agenda from you. And why not, for as John 3:19 says, “men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

In short, people who see this kind of thing in a racial subtext do so only because they want to. Or because it profits them to do so.

Portions of the preceding were originally published on May 14, 2009.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The students who suffer from SBS

Pardon the language in the graphic at right; I apologize if you're offended, but there seems to be no better way to describe the escapades of those wacky college kids nowadays. Rod Dreher and others - I mention him because I first heard it used by him - call them SJW, Social Justice Warriors.  You know, they way they're shutting down free speech on campuses, along with substantial help from their instructors. SJW.  That's good, but I think they suffer from SBS - Spoiled Brat Syndrome.  (There's also the fact that the last two letters make up BS, which is what I think their rhetoric is. So bonus points for that.)

This isn't the first time we've seen it, of course; in more recent times, the 60s gave us an epidemic of know-it-alls on campus.  This could be the last time, though, at least in the way we think of it. If they're successful in their goals of eliminating any and all opposition, the only revolutions we'll be seeing (if we're allowed to view them at all) will be of the internecine type; the revolution consuming its own. If you think SBSers are paranoid now, just imagine what they'll be like when they start being persecuted by their own kind for not being ideologically pure. Now that's paranoia\ - just ask Robespierre how that went. And since it's Veterans Day today, I'll just add that many men and women over the centuries have died to preserve freedom of speech. They are heroes. Those who try to destroy that freedom should be called by what they are; totalitarian monsters.

I'll have more to say on this tomorrow in our Throwback Thursday feature, but the idea that these people will eventually get what's coming to them is cold comfort for those of us who will get it from them first. I've been around them myself, not on campus but in the workplace, and in a way the thought that they're well-meaning people at heart makes them even more despicable, because they're either dupes, fools, or those who, like our French friend above, believe the ends justify the means. At least those in the third category believe in something; the rest of them don't believe in anything: they just feel.

And so I'll close for today with this quote from Lileks, which I thought was a terrific commentary on what these people are really like, down deep, and what it would be like to have a world full of them:

These people will produce nothing. They will create no great art, write no symphonies, conjure no novels that speak across the decades, sculpt nothing of beauty. The world outside the bubble is irredeemable. It cannot, of course, be remade all at once, but tomorrow's a new day. Rome wasn't wrecked in a day. 

Amen, brother. And that is just the beginning.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Flashback Friday: The integrity of the critic

In case anyone's looking for a story for a new opera, I have a suggestion: Herman Wouk's The Caine Mutiny. I don't think anyone's done an opera of that yet.  And in the starring role of Captain Queeg, the Caine's insane master with an obsession about strawberries, I have the perfect casting: Peter Gelb.

Peter Gelb, you see, is the General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera, and a couple of weeks ago he made the extraordinary suggestion (read: order) that Opera News, the monthly magazine published by the Metropolitan Opera Guild, stop reviewing productions done by the Met.  It seems as if Mr. Gelb was offended by some critical reviews of recent Met productions, and decided that the best way to combat this was to kill the messenger.

Criticism of Peter Gelb in this space is nothing new - you may recall his appearance on our Enemies List a couple of years ago.  And as a paying subscriber to Opera News, I read the specific pieces that appear to have been in question.  I remember thinking that at the time that hey were extraordinary pieces of criticism coming, as they did, from what many people consider the house organ of the Met.  And not only did I not see them as unfair, I agreed with them almost 100%.  While I'm sure this criticism had to hurt, especially since Robert Lepage's Ring has been Gelb's prize baby, neither of the articles said anything that hadn't been said already by other opera writers in many publications and forums. You'd think that Gelb might have taken this as a sign, but rather than admit he has no clothes, he chose to critics as best he could.

Predictably, the move backfired.  Such was the level of outrage (and, in many cases, vitriol), that Gelb was forced to resind his decision by the end of the day. This can only be good news for Opera News - as Terry Teachout commented, during the few hours that the ban was in effect:

In so doing, [Gelb] has guaranteed that nothing published in Opera News about the Met, be it positive or negative, will henceforth be taken at face value, and that no reputable music journalist will ever again agree to appear in its pages.

Now, I'll admit that Peter Gelb has done some things right.  The HD moviecasts, for example, have been a marvel.  But even within that silver lining there have been clouds, with more than one critic noting that the productions seem to be more and more geared toward the movie audience rather than the live audience at the Met, which makes for a very disappointing (and expensive) night at the opera.

Couple this with Gelb's desire to rid the Met of some of its most classic productions, such as the Zeffirelli staging of Tosca and the Schenk Ring, and replace them with vapid, minimalist settings; and the absence of James Levine, still suffering from poor health, and you have a situation where the Met has become, in the opinion of many, an increasingly stale institution.  Alex Ross discusses the Met's tarnished reputuation here. Gelb may be a brilliant marketer, but he seems singularly incapable of providing a steady hand on the tiller. (I particularly enjoyed critic Norman Lebrecht's suggestion that the men in the white coats may be coming to the door soon.)

And while on some level it's satisfying to see Gelb being savaged, ultimately I take no pleasure in it, because in the end we're not talking about one man alone, but an institution.  The Metropolitan Opera may not be the nation's best, or most creative, opera company - but it is its most visible. For many who were weaned on the Saturday afternoon radio broadcasts, the Met is opera in America.  Perhaps it's time for the board of the Met to take a closer look at Gelb's management of the company, and whether this kerfuffle is just an abberation, or the shape of things to come.  Because when the Met is diminished, all of opera, and all of us, are just a little bit diminished as well.

Originally published June 6, 2012

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Grazie! Fiat gives Doblò to Marsha Familly, whose business was destroyed by flood, to rebuild

he Marsha Family at Forest Lake Fabrics, a fabric store devastated by the floods last month (see above), and good friends of mine both at tailgating and workouts (the daughter is a teacher at a studio owned by the daughter-in-law of a local auto dealer), was surprised by Fiat this morning.

A new Fiat Doblò has been presented to the family for the business.


Friday, October 30, 2015

Flashback Friday: Why do we choose sides?

Rod Dreher wonders why we feel compelled to pick a side in Ukraine:

Do you know who the good guys and the bad guys are in Ukraine? I do not. In Egypt, I was not sorry to see the Morsi government overthrown, but one should not be under any illusions that the Egyptian military are the good guys. Why do we have to pick a side? Are we sure we know enough about what’s going on there to do so? Some of us might; one of this blog’s readers is in Kiev, and he has clear and firmly held opinions about the Yanukovych government. I respect that, but it is clearer to me that America does not need to be picking sides in this fight than it is which side we should pick.

Well, the first thought that came to my mind is that we choose sides because we live in a culture today that forces us to choose sides.  The mentality is everywhere.  We love our sports, and we apply its terminology to everything.  Politics becomes a horserace, and it matters less whether a candidate can articulate an issue than it does that he’s scored points, he’s landed the knockout punch, he’s pulling away from the field or falling back into the pack.  Nobody wants to know about the substance of what’s discussed – they just want to know who wins and who loses.

ESPN’s motto on many of its shows is “embrace debate.”  Doesn’t matter what the issue is, there have to be two sides, and they have to be heard out – often at the top of their lungs.  Even if you don’t have a strong feeling one way or another, you take a side, because that’s what makes good television – and good entertainment.

Reality programming dominates television.  And what is it about reality shows that most often appeals to the viewers?  You have a winner and a loser.  And the viewer must take sides; no sane individual would watch a show like Survivor without developing a rooting interest for or against someone – for that’s the other side of the coin.  If you can’t find someone you like, someone to root for, find someone you hate, and root against them.  It’s just as much fun – try it.

Everything is personal.  You either agree with me, or else.  Whether it’s politics, religion, sports, restaurant cuisine: if you disagree with me, it invalidates not only your opinion on that issue, but on everything else as well.  See it on Facebook, read it on Twitter, it doesn’t matter if it’s your battle or not – the important thing is to choose a side, and make sure everyone else knows which side you’re on.  And if they’re on the other side, judge them for that.

Given all this, is it any wonder that we feel compelled to take sides?  Armed conflict is, for us, another form of entertainment.  War is a spectator sport, to be viewed on television in-between highlights of the Olympics and scenes from the most recent argument on Capitol Hill.  We take sides on those, why not on war as well?  It’s a zero-sum game; there has to be a winner and a loser, and Americans love a winner.

Remarkably, for a culture that seems reluctant to view morality in terms of black-and-white, we seem to have no qualms about doing just that when it comes to choosing sides.  It’s hard for us to believe that both sides in a conflict can be “the bad guys.”  The Egyptian rebels fighting to bring down Mubarak must be right; after all, isn’t Mubarak supposed to be a dictator?  So let’s support them, and the fact that there are some pretty bad dudes among them – well, we’ll look the other way on that.

We abhor a vacuum.  Even in a situation such as Vietnam, where antiwar sentiment was rampant, it’s not as if people refused to join sides.  Many of the antiwar activists were openly rooting for the Vietcong, and the conflict between pro- and antiwar sides became as much of a battle as the war itself.  Not choosing a side – there’s just something un-American about it.

We lead with our hearts, not our heads.  We’ve Oprahfied the way we look at foreign policy every bit as much as we have everything else in our world.  Who’s the scrappy underdog, which side has the most malnourished refugees, let’s cheer on the plucky rebels raging against the big bad machine.

You see how absurd this all is?  So when Rod asks this question – and I think it’s a very good one, a very telling one – why should we be surprised at what the answer is?  It is, after all, the world we created for ourselves. And after all - it's just entertainment, isn't it?

Originally published February 21, 2014
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