…the Schlichter prophecies, I mean, wherein the good Colonel Kurt S. postulated a political/geographic split of the United States along red-blue lines. In his bleak and blackly humorous vision, (carried out over a five-volume series) the middle portion of the States carried on with fidelity to the Constitution, free-range capitalism, and universal military service as an obligation for full citizenship. Meanwhile the east and west coasts as a so-called “People’s Republic” carried on under an increasingly deranged and erratic progressive principles, turning into a dysfunctional combination of Portland’s CHAZ/CHOP, any PC-addled university you could name, Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe and Venezuela at this very moment. The series is meant to be grimly entertaining, but I’m beginning to believe that the split has already happened – not in the neat geographic manner (with some violent hiccups) outlined – but in a slower and murkier manner.

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Another horrific gaffe in retail marketing –  one which falls into the category of “grotesquely bad retail marketing decisions which will become a cautionary lesson in future marketing textbooks.” This spectacular gaffe involves a retailer of fashion-trendy and very colorful women’s athletic clothing, Fabletics – a company which started online in 2013 offering a subscription plan – somewhat controversial since the subscription charges were not always transparent, and branched out into brick and mortar locations. One of the founders is Kate Hudson, daughter of Goldie Hawn, so there probably has been some advantages to a celebrity connection; easy to get that one-on-one with Oprah Winfrey, I presume. The company appears to this point to have been pretty savvy in a competitive field, marketing-wise, so all props to them. I’m not a customer of theirs in any case; the gym and the jogging track are not places where I go to show off my fashion sense. I’m old-school in that I prefer to work out in grey sweatpants and a baggy tee shirt.

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The Daughter Unit – who is an even more die-hard conservative than I am – and I have been coming to terms with what happened last week, in the wake of the election. Not to put too fine a point on it, we were distressed, disbelieving, and horrified at how that has gone. And then we were both deeply angry. It’s an anger that I have trouble quantifying, when all is said, considered and done.

Look, we’ve known for years about dirty deeds done with sheep and ballot boxes … especially the ones that show up out of the clear blue. LBJ notoriously got elected by a couple of those, early on. It’s also pretty strongly suggested that JFK got the 1960 election because of fraud at the polls, and Nixon didn’t want to make a big thing out of contesting it, because … reasons. Patriotic reasons, for which he never got any credit at all.

But this latest is just too obvious. Too blatant. Too ‘in your face, and what are you gonna do about it, you lying dogface pony soldier?’ The roughly-reported evidence of ballot boxes appearing out of the blue in the wee hours, of so-called “glitches” transmuting Republican votes to Democrat, of Republican observers told to go home it’s all over – while the fraudulent counting goes on in a closed room. Goes on, and on, and on …

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02. November 2020 · Comments Off on Set Piece · Categories: General

am increasingly convinced – especially over the last few months – that the national news media, with the assistance of a wide swath of academia and those in the business of providing entertainment, are and have been for years constructing a kind of stage set which in their minds represents America. Fake buildings, fake trees with plastic leaves, a painted sky backdrop, concrete boulders and buildings which are either three-fourths actual size or mere painted false fronts with curtains or blinds hung in empty windows. In front of these sets, between the fake trees and the concrete boulders, all sorts of improbable and gruesome things are happening – race riots, fiery car crashes, anti-capitalist social unrest, cartloads of dead from the Commie Covid Virus rolled through the streets, and meanwhile Joe Biden is an honest and upright long-serving member of Senate and former VP who never put a foot wrong, and Hillary Clinton is the most qualified and respected woman ever, Michelle Obama a glamorous and tasteful former First Lady, and meanwhile the whole United States is rancorous with race-hatred, and everyone who has ever attended regular religious services is panting to transform all society into The Handmaids’ Tale.

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21. October 2020 · Comments Off on The October Surprise · Categories: Ain't That America?, Fun and Games, Media Matters Not, Politics

So the concept of an “October Surprise” in an election year is so hoary a notion that pundits have evolved that name for it; a planned last-minute revelation before an election (usually of the presidential-variety) of something so scandalous and disreputable that it upends the expected campaign win of the candidate the ‘Surprise” is aimed at. The Rathergate – Texas Air National Guard memo, which Dan Rather and 60 Minutes unleashed on George W. Bush just before the 2004 election is the example which springs first to mind, and never mind that it was launched in September. It was still a desperate partisan attempt to upturn an election.

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08. October 2020 · Comments Off on Signs and Portents · Categories: Domestic, Eat, Drink and be Merry, Fun and Games, Media Matters Not

In noting a pair of interesting and sort-of-related developments this last week, I am wondering if they are an indication of just how deeply angry ordinary Americans of a deplorably conservative bent are with the panjandrums who provide our entertainment, of the pro-sports and movie varieties. The first is the fact that ratings for the NBA finals are cratering, and other pro sports aren’t very far behind. The Commie Crud probably is discouraging physical attendance at games, for sure, and ostentatious displays of partisanship for Black Lives Matter on the part of players have definitely ruined any pleasure in watching games for viewers who just want to forget about politics and protest for a while. It’s also a very bad look for well-compensated and privileged Black players – a good few of whom are not precisely paragons of gentlemanly and law-abiding behavior themselves – to go on national television openly expressing solidarity with an assortment of Black thugs, addicts and criminals who have had fatal encounters with various police forces in the last couple of years.

Black lives may indeed matter, but it certainly doesn’t look as if the lives of Black business owners, Black police officers and random innocent Black citizens caught in exchanges of lead disagreement between Black gangsters matter don’t seem to matter very much at all to the most outspoken BLM supporters in various sports. We suspect that the lives of White citizens are valued even less, although one might think that the money paid by White fans for season tickets, sports memorabilia and product endorsements might earn at least a little apolitical courtesy. It would appear not … and sportsball fans of all colors are abandoning the stadiums, fanship and broadcast games with alacrity. It might be that professional players of some sports might have to have a second job to support themselves in the off-season, unless the Chinese fans and endorsement dollars keep them in the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed.

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30. September 2020 · Comments Off on Paint it Black · Categories: Ain't That America?, Fun and Games, Geekery, Media Matters Not, Rant, World

Well, if this isn’t a good reason for a grad student passionately interested in English literature – meaning the study of classic literature written in English (starting with Beowulf and running all the way to Tom Stoppard) to avoid the U of Chicago and embrace a program of self-education then I don’t know what is. It’s akin to being invited to a grand, lavish multi-course banquet and then only allowed a single tiny plate of hors d oeuvres. Which you must consume, and praise lavishly, and not even consider looking over at the main course. Or for another comparison – be fascinated by American pop music all through the 20th century, and then only be permitted to specialize in Motown. Because … reasons. Anyone fascinated by Chaucer or Tin Pan Alley is just plain out of luck, because of systemic racism, and overwhelming whiteness of the culture and the stain of slavery, et cetera, which is usually the reason given. Frankly, I think it’s just momentarily fashionable to paint everything Black.

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21. September 2020 · Comments Off on 1942 – The Year That Everything Happened · Categories: History, Literary Good Stuff, War

Weirdly enough – and this apparently happens to authors at random – I had a dream about the plot of a new book late this past summer and woke up just in time to remember it all. A novel set in WWII, which is at least half a century or more out of my fictional headspace; I like the 19th century. Got all the reference books, the books or art, a grasp of the vocab and the look of the whole 19th century universe and outlook. (The costumes, too; yes – I dress in late Victorian or Edwardian garb to do a book event. No, the corset isn’t that uncomfortable, and yes, how people react to me in this get-up, hat, reticule, gloves and all … it’s amazing. Last time out in all this, I had a guy tip his hat to me and say, ‘Howdy, ma-am’ and that is just freaking amazing!)

But – WWII. For me, it is just enough close in time that I knew a lot of people personally involved, from Great-Aunt Nan, who was one of the first-ever women recruited for the WAACs, to any number of high school teachers (some of whom were more forthcoming about their service than others) to the Gentleman With Whom I Kept Company for about a decade, to a neighbor of Mom and Dad’s who had been a prisoner of war in the Far East and fortunate enough to have survived the experience. In short, the books, the movies, even the TV shows that I watched as a kid and teenager, were all marinated in the memories of the Second World War. I was born a bare decade after it was all over; shows like “World at War” were in the ‘must watch’ category at our house, as well as any number of now slightly cringe-making series like … never mind. Just take it for granted that WWII was inescapable for a person of my age. I also scribbled some bad and derivative juvenile fiction with a WWII setting. (Which I found in a box in the garage during the most recent turn out … yep, it was bad. Supposedly, one must write a good few millions of words to get the bad out of your system. Just about all of that is in a box in the garage, against which are orders to the Daughter Unit to burn in future.) And I had a self-directed exploration into the 1930s-1940s in college, when I had access to a college library with microfiche scans of a certain newspaper; I read every issue from 1935-1945, which was like seeing a whole decade of history’s first draft narrowly through a key-hole.

Anyway – enough of the throat-clearing. As is my wont when working out the fine details in a plot, I set up an Excel spreadsheet broken out by month and year, marking events in various theaters, all the better to work the travails of my fictional characters against. It struck me all over again that 1942 was the year That Everything Happened. For Americans, it was the first full year of war on two fronts; for Britain and her colonies and the governments-in-exile of her allies, it was the start of a third year of a war formerly limited, more or less, to Europe and North Africa. And then all merry old hell broke out in the Far East. Possessions, colonies, independent small countries began falling like nine-pins to the Japanese war machine. British Malaya and Fortress Singapore, Dutch Indonesia, the Philippines, Guam and Wake Islands, a good chunk of New Guinea and other islands all across the South China Sea – all fell in the first few months of 1942. It would have been a depressing thing, reading any major Western newspaper during those weeks; weeks where Allied confidence in their own ability to fight a balls-to-the-wall war and win took a considerable beating. The Allies reeled … but in May, the fortunes of War began to smile on the Allies. A naval clash between Japanese, American and Australian naval forces in the Coral Sea checked Japanese attempts to take Rabaul in New Guinea. In the next month, another sea battle – again between dueling aircraft carriers in the defense of Midway Island – blunted further Japanese advances in the Central Pacific. In July and a world away – the Germans were blocked and turned back from Egypt at the first battle at El Alamein, and then again three months later, in the same place. In the month of August, the Americans began landing on Guadalcanal and the Australians began taking back New Guinea. The Axis tide was checked, and slowly began to retreat. In November, the Allies (American and British with Canadian, Australian and the Free Dutch naval backup) opened a second front with the Torch Landings in French-controlled Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco – this not quite a year after Pearl Harbor. In barely a year, the Allies went from disaster and defeat on practically every front, to regroup and to begin effectively striking back. It would take another two years and more to completely defeat the Axis Powers, but it is striking to look at the timeline for 1942 and to see how the war situation turned from humiliating defeat, through resolve, and then to begin the long march back.

Discuss as you wish.    

15. September 2020 · Comments Off on Where They Burn… · Categories: General

“Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen.” – wrote the 19th century German poet and essayist Heinrich Heine. Or in English, “Where they burn books, in the end they will also burn men.” I’d update the line to say – “Where they burn cities, they’ll burn the countryside, too.”

And since Antifa and Black Lives Matter demonstrators have been busily setting fires in urban protests, attempting to set fire to police stations, throwing Molotov cocktails and fireworks, and incinerating whole city blocks, businesses, pawnshops and bookstores alike, can one really blame residents of rural and small-town Oregon for assuming the worst and suspecting that the catastrophic fires scorching the west coast have a man-made origin? It’s a logical assumption to make, after six months of threats, violence, and deliberate urban arson. It’s not a great leap of imagination on the part of rural residents to assume that Antifa/BLM would move on after having comprehensively fouled their urban strongholds, especially if it meant striking hard at generally more conservative rural and small-town Americans in a way which would hurt, and hurt badly. My parents lost a house and everything in it, in the Paradise Mountain fire in 2003, a fire which was widely suspected to have been started as an illicit bonfire on reservation land. My parents were able to rebuild and counted themselves lucky that all they lost were things; they escaped with their lives and pets, didn’t lose a business or anything that couldn’t be replaced, unlike some of their neighbors.

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Sometimes, long after first reading a book or watching a movie and enjoying it very much, I have come back to re-reading or watching, and then wondering what I had ever seen in that in the first place. So it was with the original M*A*S*H book and especially with the movie. I originally read the book in college and thought, “Eww, funny but gross and obscene, with their awful practical jokes and nonexistent sexual morals.” Then I re-read after having been in the military myself for a couple of years, and thought, “Yep, my people!”

The movie went through pretty much the same evolution with me, all but one element – and that was when I began honestly wondering why the ostensible heroes had such a hate on for Major Burns and the nurse Major Houlihan. Why did those two deserve such awful, disrespectful treatment? In the movie they seemed competent and agreeable enough initially. In the book it was clear that Major Burns was an incompetent surgeon with delusions of adequacy, and that Major Houlihan was Regular Army; that being the sole reason for the animus. But upon second viewing of the movie, it seemed like Duke Forrest, Hawkeye Pierce and Trapper John McIntyre were just bullying assholes selecting a random target for abuse for the amusement of the audience.

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31. August 2020 · Comments Off on Comes the Moment to Decide · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, Politics

Once to ev’ry man and nation 
Comes the moment to decide, 
In the strife of truth and falsehood, 
For the good or evil side; 
Some great cause, some great decision, 
Off’ring each the bloom or blight, 
And the choice goes by forever 
‘Twixt that darkness and that light.

– James Russell Lowell

So the first shots in the shooting war have been fired, to the surprise of practically no one who has been following civic matters over the last six months. Admittedly, that the first would be fired in Kenosha, of all places – that’s a bit of a surprise. Although it isn’t at all startling that a Trump supporter would be gunned down on the streets of Portland by an Antifa thug shortly thereafter, to resounding cheers of approval. The hateful rhetoric and the violence against property has been ratcheting up and up, as has the violence against persons. At this juncture, bullets are merely a short step. For at least two people – Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha and Michael Reinoehl in Portland, the choice to pull a trigger has been made, and made irrevocably, whether for good reasons or bad. (It is somewhat ironic, to read of this linked story, of progressive activists sniveling about the presence of “self-appointed” vigilantes being tolerated by local police, harshing the mellow of all those justifiably indignant progressive protesters, whose street protests have, unfortunately and most mysteriously, turned into orgies of arson and looting.)   

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19. August 2020 · Comments Off on The Rolling Kristallnacht · Categories: Politics, Texas

The rolling Kristallnacht of “mostly peaceful” protests organized and sponsored by the unholy union of Antifa and BLM continues unabated in those mostly progressive Democrat party municipalities such as Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland, and New York. Give the protesters, rioters and looters credit for stamina; they’ve kept it up for nearly two months now, and look to be going strong, still. They haven’t much dared venture out and away from those progressive sanctuaries, although half a dozen did make a trip to Sturgis to provoke the bikers rallying there, which futile bit of resistance theater they did from behind a screen of local police. Which brings to mind Insty the Blogfaddah’s oft-repeated observation that the police – which the Antifaites and BLM protesters wish to abolish – are there to protect accused criminals from the rest of us. Frankly, it would have been laugh-out-loud comic if the bikers in Sturgis had been allowed to pants the Antifaites and run them out of town naked, but there you are. Obviously the Antifaites and BLMmers are hoping to provoke an over-the-top violent reaction and a blooming new crop of martyr Horst Wessels; they must be quite annoyed that so far, the rest of us have kept our temper. Although there was that incident in Austin late in July, wherein a protester learned too late that brandishing a weapon in a threatening manner towards a driver who is a licensed concealed-carry holder and an active-duty soldier moonlighting as an Uber driver … might just have an adverse outcome.

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10. August 2020 · Comments Off on Reason #564 To Be Glad · Categories: Fun and Games, Literary Good Stuff

That I am my own independent publisher, with the Tiny Publishing Bidness, and only wasted a couple of months and a lot of postage, in 2007 or so, trying to get an agent interested in my first two novels. Because that was the way to break into traditional publishing; get an agent, who would present your work to the traditional publishing houses. Another book blogger at the time advised trying it for a year, and then going independent, as there were sufficient small companies doing publish-on-demand, some of them for rather reasonable fees. I did have an interested agent in New York, who was referred to me by another milblogger back then, and although the agent reluctantly declined to offer me his services, he was jolly complimentary and encouraging, and provided some good insights. One of the unspoken insights that I took away from this exchange, and drew from all the other letters saying “Thanks, but no thanks” from various literary agencies was that it was all a terribly insular world, the world of the established agencies and big publishers, all of whom seemed to be based in about half a square mile of real estate in New York. This impression was reinforced by later interactions with members of the on-line author support group that I was a part of, many of who were drop-outs of one sort or another (mostly editorial, graphic design, public relations, et cetera) from that milieu. They all knew very well that the establishment publishing world was flailing, shedding mid-list authors and editors, farming out the slush piles of unsolicited manuscripts to the agencies. Later on, I started following Sarah Hoyt, originally trad-pubbed and who wrote now and again of the stifling conformity among those in the traditionally-published world. Her experience was mostly in the science fiction genre – but over and over again, one got the very clear message; that only certain opinions and world-views among authors or prospective authors were permitted. There might not have been an organized effort to blacklist those who did not conform, and to sabotage their books, but as far as the overall effect on conservative-leaning or anti-wokerati writers, there just  might as well have been the literary equivalent of “JournoList” in play.

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03. August 2020 · Comments Off on Consulting My Magic 8-Ball · Categories: General

So, last week the Daughter Unit asked me when the new civil war would kick into high gear. Note she said ‘when’ not ‘if’ – for we’ve been in a cold civil war for some time now. I’d say this cold civil war became manifest with upsurge of Tea Party demonstrations in 2009, and has rumbled along all through the Obama administration, building up reservoirs of bitter anger and resentment ever since. My personal SWAG is that things will get interesting (and even more interesting for certain values of interesting) late in the evening of November 3,2020, when the polls close and the first election results are reported.

And no, it won’t make a particle of difference who wins; Trump or Biden, or whoever has replaced Biden as the Great Dem Party Hope. My sidebar prediction is that the higher echelons of the Democrat Party will realize, probably shortly following the party caucus to be held sometime this month, that Joe Biden has finally and definitively lost track of his single remaining marble, and that there is no possible and convincing way that he can be propped up as a viable candidate. Whoever has the VP nomination will move up to the top of the ticket and one of the remaining hopefuls will be a replacement. For all we know, the Dem Party higher-ups may even have decided that what the hell, they don’t have serious hope at all for 2020, and are only naming candidates for this year with an eye towards establishing visibility and a track record for 2024.

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This last weekend, I had a tiny and depressing demonstration about the facile nature of local news – the news making machinery behind the popular song as the pop song used to go. I did local news-gathering myself as an in-house broadcast professional, doing a daily radio news program for Armed Forces Radio, Seoul Korea edition. I know how the pudding is made; have the basic framework for the story, go out and talk to people for the bits that fill in the story already mentally mapped out in your mind – and go and do it again the next day, and the day following. Daily news is sausage; stuff that casing with whatever the story requires, a judicious combination of meat or filler.

There was a house fire last Sunday afternoon in our neighborhood – the first I knew of it (since I was working the final edit of Luna City #9) was when the Daughter Unit flung open the door, saying that a nearby house was on fire, that the dogs from the house were running loose on the street, and could I bring some doggie treats and help everyone catch them?

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As if it wasn’t enough for the joyless, bitter scolds among the wokerati to have an absolute tizzy over the head of Goya Foods being civil and respectful of the office of the President of the US, another provider of excellent and relatively inexpensive foodstuffs is in their cross-hairs. Unlike the president of Goya Foods who basically told them to pound sand – and is now enjoying the economic benefits of having defied the wokerati – the management of Trader Joe’s is beating a sniveling and apologetic retreat, and promising to redo their policy of labeling their various ethnic food items with a suitably ethnic variation on ‘Trader Something-or-Other’. This was a bit of light-hearted bit of humor on their part, playing with naming stereotypes, but good lord, the grim and determined wokerati cannot abide any humor at all and so the whole concept must go. The Daughter Unit tells me, and this link conforms, that the whole thing started as a petition by high school students, which doesn’t surprise me in the least. I suspect the responsible students are the earnest and censorious sorts, desperately trying to out-woke each other.

Frankly, the whole ‘Trader Joe’s’ South Sea Island – Tropical Paradise motif always struck me as a last gasp of the 1950s ‘Tiki Culture’ and about the only one which didn’t involve a bar decorated with fishing nets and dried starfish, and fru-fru drinks with little umbrellas in them. Trader Joe’s various products are high quality, reasonably priced, and the social-consciousness is laid on with a light hand, in pleasant contrast with the mountain of ostentatious correctitude and high prices offered at Whole Foods. There is a reason the latter is derisively known as “Whole Paycheck.” I can only think it’s only a matter of time before the social justice warriors go after Trader Joe’s for that bit of cultural appropriation as well.

At least the providers of groceries are not having as rotten a year due to the Chinese Commie Crud as Hollywood is. Theaters shut down, premieres cancelled, top-flight releases like Greyhound, with Tom Hanks and based on C.S. Foresters’ war novel The Good Shepherd diverted to release on streaming video, the fall-out from “Me Too” and Harvey Weinstein’s wholesale-level practice of the casting couch, the apparent urge among our producers of entertainment to whore after foreign audiences, and now looking to curry favor with the hot new trend of ‘anyone but white heterosexuals in front of the camera and behind it as well as behind it in any capacity’ … well, Establishment Hollywood has earned the foul reputation they richly deserve. Those of us in flyover country are watching old movies on DVD (from our own libraries, let it be known) or on streaming video, watching foreign films or series – practically anything other than grim parables and lectures by the wokerati.

Comment as you wish: what are you going to watch, now? The Daughter Unit and I are watching episodes of Are You Being Served? Which has the side benefit of being gloriously politically incorrect, and not featuring any masks or six-foot apart social distancing. (The Daughter Unit and I temped for a few months at an upscale department store over the holiday season some years ago. We consider ‘Served’ as nearly a documentary on retail sales at a certain level.)

20. July 2020 · Comments Off on Ephemeral Amusements · Categories: Ain't That America?, Literary Good Stuff

The Daughter Unit was a little over two years old when we went to live in Greece, and almost kindergarten age when we left, and during that period we lived in a second-floor apartment in suburban Athens and hardly ever watched television. (I had a television set, but it was 110v, and Greece was a 220v country, and anyway, I was almost never at home in the evenings, the exception being when we went to our neighbors to watch Jewel in the Crown when it aired with subtitles on Greek TV.) This was at a time before wide-spread adoption of video players, before cable, way before streaming video. It was, in bald point of fact, rather like the three to five broadcast channels available when I was growing up. So, no, I didn’t miss TV much, and nor did the Daughter Unit, because we had books.

Heaps and heaps of books; my parents took the opportunity of the Daughter Unit being a military dependent and entitled to have her personal items shipped to Greece gratis to include almost all of the kid-lit that Mom had accumulated for my brothers and sister and I. (Mom and Dad were in the process of moving into a travel trailer parked on the building site of their eventual retirement home, and so took every opportunity to down-size what they didn’t need or want. Like … that part of the personal library.) Off that shipment went to Athens, augmented with new books that I bought through an English mail-order service which offered lovely catalogs aimed mostly at expatriates whiling away the decades in locations devoid of English-language bookstores, and a children’s bookstore in what passed for a mall in Voula or Vouliagmeni, which featured Greek, English and I think German and French-language books. It was a small place, barely one twenty-foot square room in size, with each wall dedicated to a language. I am pretty certain that I bought the Daughter Unit’s favorite comic book series there; the Asterix and Obelix books.

Asterix and Obelix; the series was translated from the French original and available everywhere in Europe; an epic and pun-laden series of books about the heroes; Asterix the canny warrior, his sidekick, the hefty menhir-deliveryman Obelix, and all the residents of the lone Gaulish village holding out against the Roman invaders, thanks to a magical potion brewed up by the Druid Getafix. Asterix and Obelix lived to beat up or out-wile the Romans, have adventures in far exotic lands, and to eat wild boar, presumably nicely roasted, crunchy and with appropriate sauces at a feast to follow their triumphant return. The illustrations were colorful and even surprisingly accurate when it came to Roman art and architecture, and the adventures were easy to follow. They became my daughter’s favorite bedtime story material, mostly because she could follow along. Not for her bland and simplistic materiel like Dr. Seuss; no, not when there were Romans and indomitable Gauls. (True Fact: in the midst of our road-trip through Europe in the autumn of 1985, when I told her that we were about to cross over from Germany into France, which used to be called ‘Gaul’ she perked up and asked if we were going to meet any Indominable Gauls.)

During that wandering journey, she encountered other fans of Asterix; a German teenager in Baden-Baden, who alternated with the Daughter Unit in naming all the cast of reoccurring characters – Getafix the Druid, Vitalstatistix the chieftain, Cacofonix the Bard, Fullyautomatix the blacksmith, Geriatrix the tribe’s senior citizen, and Asterix’s canine pet Dogmatix. In a small town on the edge of the Morvan national park in central France, we walked by a community billboard where there were pictures posted of a recent parade – for Bastille Day, perhaps? Among them was a home-made float on a towed trailer, and an assortment of children and teenagers dressed as characters from the series on the float. The Daughter Unit, of course, recognized them right away. All across Europe, she spotted the series on sale (the covers are very distinctive) and asked for the issues that she hadn’t seen, and of course I had to confess that … I couldn’t buy her those particular volumes, since they were in Italian or French.

And that, my friends – is how the Daughter Unit learned to read. From the English translations of a French comic book series.

19. July 2020 · Comments Off on Ephemeral Amusements · Categories: General

The Daughter Unit was a little over two years old when we went to live in Greece, and almost kindergarten age when we left, and during that period we lived in a second-floor apartment in suburban Athens and hardly ever watched television. (I had a television set, but it was 110v, and Greece was a 220v country, and anyway, I was almost never at home in the evenings, the exception being when we went to our neighbors to watch Jewel in the Crown when it aired with subtitles on Greek TV.) This was at a time before wide-spread adoption of video players, before cable, way before streaming video. It was, in bald point of fact, rather like the three to five broadcast channels available when I was growing up. So, no, I didn’t miss TV much, and nor did the Daughter Unit, because we had books.

Heaps and heaps of books; my parents took the opportunity of the Daughter Unit being a military dependent and entitled to have her personal items shipped to Greece gratis to include almost all of the kid-lit that Mom had accumulated for my brothers and sister and I. (Mom and Dad were in the process of moving into a travel trailer parked on the building site of their eventual retirement home, and so took every opportunity to down-size what they didn’t need or want. Like … that part of the personal library.) Off that shipment went to Athens, augmented with new books that I bought through an English mail-order service which offered lovely catalogs aimed mostly at expatriates whiling away the decades in locations devoid of English-language bookstores, and a children’s bookstore in what passed for a mall in Voula or Vouliagmeni, which featured Greek, English and I think German and French-language books. It was a small place, barely one twenty-foot square room in size, with each wall dedicated to a language. I am pretty certain that I bought the Daughter Unit’s favorite comic book series there; the Asterix and Obelix books.

Asterix and Obelix; the series was translated from the French original and available everywhere in Europe; an epic and pun-laden series of books about the heroes; Asterix the canny warrior, his sidekick, the hefty menhir-deliveryman Obelix, and all the residents of the lone Gaulish village holding out against the Roman invaders, thanks to a magical potion brewed up by the Druid Getafix. Asterix and Obelix lived to beat up or out-wile the Romans, have adventures in far exotic lands, and to eat wild boar, presumably nicely roasted, crunchy and with appropriate sauces at a feast to follow their triumphant return. The illustrations were colorful and even surprisingly accurate when it came to Roman art and architecture, and the adventures were easy to follow. They became my daughter’s favorite bedtime story material, mostly because she could follow along. Not for her bland and simplistic materiel like Dr. Seuss; no, not when there were Romans and indomitable Gauls. (True Fact: in the midst of our road-trip through Europe in the autumn of 1985, when I told her that we were about to cross over from Germany into France, which used to be called ‘Gaul’ she perked up and asked if we were going to meet any Indominable Gauls.)

During that wandering journey, she encountered other fans of Asterix; a German teenager in Baden-Baden, who alternated with the Daughter Unit in naming all the cast of reoccurring characters – Getafix the Druid, Vitalstatistix the chieftain, Cacofonix the Bard, Fullyautomatix the blacksmith, Geriatrix the tribe’s senior citizen, and Asterix’s canine pet Dogmatix. In a small town on the edge of the Morvan national park in central France, we walked by a community billboard where there were pictures posted of a recent parade – for Bastille Day, perhaps? Among them was a home-made float on a towed trailer, and an assortment of children and teenagers dressed as characters from the series on the float. The Daughter Unit, of course, recognized them right away. All across Europe, she spotted the series on sale (the covers are very distinctive) and asked for the issues that she hadn’t seen, and of course I had to confess that … I couldn’t buy her those particular volumes, since they were in Italian or French.

And that, my friends – is how the Daughter Unit learned to read. From the English translations of a French comic book series.

18. July 2020 · 2 comments · Categories: General

The partial haul of Goya products from HEB and the local Hispanic supermarket.

Why, yes, I like Goya Foods. The mojo crillo marinade on a pork roast was superb!
09. July 2020 · Comments Off on Consequences · Categories: General

Do you know, I am thinking that the current wokster crowd knows nothing of the concept of actions having consequences, sometimes of the fatal sort, and now and again of the professional kind. (Yeah, Sgt. Mom, welcome to the freaking obvious, I can hear some of you thinking…) But it’s both sad and infuriating to read of incidents such as that child in an adult body; presumed to be a Harvard graduate and accepted to an internship at a major international accounting firm … blowing all that by going all stabby-stabby-encounter on social media about theoretical opposition to her not-terribly-well thought out position as regards to racism against the black and woke, not to mention near to illiterate levels of grammar and spelling. Silly child, welcome to the 21st century, and let me break it to you that the internet is forever, as long as certain clever people make screen-grabs of your woke idiocy. What you post on social media goes far and wide, and even to the ken of people like … potential employers.(And also that whatever you and/or your parents laid out for Harvard tuition was not money well-spent. Just my .02.)

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26. June 2020 · Comments Off on Civic Insurrection · Categories: Ain't That America?, Media Matters Not, Politics, Rant, sarcasm, World

Dispiriting it is, most mornings, to start up my computer and begin reviewing the news: if it isn’t the return/revival of the Chinese Commie Crud, it’s the interesting spectacle of (mostly) blue cities – ones run for decades by the Democrat party, the party of slavery, secession, segregation and now socialism. Amazing that those cities are the ones most plagued by an unsavory coalition of nihilists co-sponsored by the Marxist-inspired Black Lives Matter and the straight-up communists of Antifa. (As amazing as the number of individuals corporations, large and small, who have been bamboozled into expressing support for the former group. As this commenter at Sarah Hoyt’s place remarked:

The large corporations are kind of caught in two grips of a vice. The first is that they’ve been hiring mostly college graduates, and most of the college graduates are from “progressive” or “liberal” institutions that have been soaked in this hatred of the West since the late ’60s at the earliest. It could be entirely possible that they could have gone entirely through a four year degree without having been exposed or having to seriously debate the other side of the arguments. The second grip in the vice is the power of the media-and especially social media-these days. It is very easy for the wokescolds to create a hue and cry that can ruin a company. And, an amazing number of these companies are in…careful shape. So, anything that risks the company has to be avoided)

Getting back to matters racial/social I find it purely amazing that after decades of official and ostentatious promoting of social justice, affirmative action and representation for the less-fortunate minorities, the less-fortunate minorities are even worse off then they were half a century ago.
(Thank you, for the crowbar required to remove my tongue from my cheek.)

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19. June 2020 · 1 comment · Categories: General

I had in mind the deliberate destruction of religious icons, and a vague memory of it having happened at least once in the Russian or Eastern Orthodox church in the medieval period; such things being, in the judgment of the sternly orthodox, ungodly and unsuitable, and therefore to be expunged … but it seems that spasms of righteous destruction are almost a human constant, across culture and time. The current passion for defacing and destroying public monuments – and not just those memorializing Confederate heroes – turns out to be not all that new and revolutionary. (channeling Private Gomer Pyle: Surprise, surprise, surprise.)

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11. June 2020 · Comments Off on Saying “No” · Categories: General

I lifted a graphic from last weekends’ Powerline Week in Pictures, and posted it on my Facebook feed (where I post only anodyne stuff and things to do with my books, home improvements, and social schedule) which pretty much sums up how I’m feeling this week. Kermit the Frog stares out a rain-drop-misted window, and says, “Sounds Like Thunder Outside – But With the Way 2020 is Going, It Could Be Godzilla.”

Even before one could draw a breath of relief that the Chinese Commie Crud had not ravaged the US population anything like the 1918 Spanish Flu did, and that life was returning to something like normal, what with businesses slowly reopening – here came the stomping behemoth of violent protests and race-riots, in the wake of the death (possibly caused by drugs rather than the apparent mistreatment) of a long-time violent criminal of color at the hands of a white police officer.

This entire brutal and grotesque encounter was on video and understandably condemned as unacceptable overreaction on the part of the officer by just about every reasonable person of any color who watched it. Serious concerns regarding the militarization of police have been raised for at least a decade among thoughtful citizens, what with so many instances of police barging into houses in no-knock and full SWAT mode (often the wrong house, and opening fire indiscriminately), of abusing civil forfeiture statutes and traffic fines as a means of making budget. This concern was exacerbated by resentment during the Chinese Commie Crud lockdown enforcing social distancing – like pursuing a solitary paddle-boarder, all alone on the ocean, and going all-out on parents tossing a softball in a park with their kid.

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05. June 2020 · 2 comments · Categories: General

I’m tired, Tired of playing the game Ain’t it a crying shame I’m so tired…

Oops, there I go, channeling Lili Van Shtüpp, the Teutonic Titwillow from the movie Blazing Saddles – which cinematic offering must be about the last time we were allowed to meditate on matters racial in a mainstream entertainment offering with wit, good humor and malice towards none. Sad to say, that movie could not have been made in the last ten years, and certainly not this week. The social media meltdown would achieve nuclear levels even before production began, and by premier time would sink through the mantle of Earth to the burning core of it’s molten center, which I wouldn’t mind observing from a safe distance. Because I am tired.
Tired of a lot of things, so tired that I have gone beyond being polite and considerate of others’ feelings. Of what am I tired? Oh, liebling, let me begin the list …

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01. June 2020 · Comments Off on Deja-Poo · Categories: General

Why, yes, as a matter of fact – I have seen this sh*t before; several times, as a matter of fact. The first go round of racial/political rioting, looting, arson and general mayhem that I took notice of was that long hot summer of ’68, interspersed with political assassinations and anti-Vietnam War protests, although the Watts riot had taken place three years before. I was fourteen in the year of ’68 mayhem, and already well-aware of current events, through reading the Los Angeles Times when it was still a great and meaningful newspaper. Mom also had subscriptions to Harpers’ and Atlantic Monthly, when they also were still solid and more or less centrist publications, and although Mom and Dad didn’t watch TV news regularly, Granny Jessie did. I believe that it was sometime during that late summer, watching coverage of the riot attendant on the Democrat Party national convention, that I remarked to Granny Jessie that it seemed as if the world were all seriously going to Hell. Recall that I was only fourteen, and had led a comfortable, fairly sheltered middle-class life. Violence was something only seen t a distant remove as part of the plot in movies and TV adventure shows (and pretty anodyne, considering what I would have seen in them back then) and the real-life violence played out on the TV news was shocking. Granny Jessie replied, “It always seems that way, I guess.” Her tone was so jaded, and world-weary, I found it actually rather comforting.

Granny Jessie had seen two world wars and a world-wide depression in her time, plus Prohibition, the Korean War, and the early civil rights campaigns. Perhaps a sense of proportion was called for.
She was right, pretty much. Life went on from then after the summer of ‘68, in the way that it usually has, from day to day in the Shire, in spite of temporary hiccups. For the great number of us, life is that way, in spite of wars’ alarms and natural disasters.

The understanding that I am getting around to is that urban riots are not a good thing, long-term, especially not for the residents of those neighborhoods where said riots take place. Detroit was wracked by race riots two years running in 1967 and ’68; together with the collapse of the auto industry (and a simply awesome degree of civic mismanagement) this killed a once-prosperous city as an industrial powerhouse. As hard as local efforts to rebuild and reconstruct try … once a city or a neighborhood has been blasted by a destructive race riot, the earth has been salted. Especially if the city authorities keep giving way to anger-motivated activists. And if those activists keep doing the same destructive thing, over and over again, without care for long-term consequences.
The current civic riots – can I call them the Floyd Riots? Following pretty much the same pattern that I recollect. A righteous cause, local indignation … and a soupcon of professional traveling activists putting in their two cents worth of bricks and destruction … and there you have civic ruin on the installment plan. Deliberate? As a commenter at Sarah Hoyt’s place posted:

“Mayhap I’ve got my tinfoil hat wrapped a weeeeeee bit too tight, but … Is it just me, or is the timing of each of these crises just a tad convenient? As in the moment one crisis finally begins losing steam and people start moving on with their lives and things begin returning to normal, BOOM! New crisis! They’re able to drag out the Mueller Report and Impeachment for almost four months, and then as soon as they can’t pretend that they have a case anymore, BOOM! WUHAN KUNG-FLU GONNA KILL US ALL! And then as soon as the WHO and CDC can no longer convincingly fudge the numbers and states start reopening (whether their petty tyrant governors want them to or not), BOOM! Race riots that are somehow being instigated by white supremacists in predominantly black neighborhoods in every major city, all at once. And pallets of loose bricks just randomly happen to appear *poof!* out of thin air in the exact spots where rioters just randomly happen to decide to congregate? Yeah, why am I not buying that any of this shit is spontaneous and “organic?”

So … Antifa organized, lefty-symp organized, with the willing cooperation of the local racial agitator crowd? It seems that the more observant of those are realizing that they’re being used like a rented mule, with their own neighborhoods, stores and small enterprises being trashed in service to the larger narrative, and meanwhile, the celebrity crowd falls all over themselves, nobly kicking in bail for the arrested. Interesting times, no? Comment and testify as you wish.

29. May 2020 · Comments Off on Hitting a Limit · Categories: General

I’ve always considered myself to be a fairly tolerant person; my name isn’t Karen and I don’t feel any particular need to speak to the manager. In this I take after the maternal grandmother; the one who never made scenes upon receiving bad or abusive customer service. The paternal grandmother would and did, although in Granny Dodie’s defense, she didn’t take umbrage over small and inadvertent offenses and usually got some kind of satisfaction or apology from indulging in recreational Karenism. Granny Jessie would gather up her dignity, depart the scene of the offense quietly … and then never, ever return. No threats, no other complaint, no talk with the manager. Granny Jessie was just gone and relentless in determination to never darken that door again.

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21. May 2020 · Comments Off on Consent of the Governed · Categories: Domestic, Fun and Games, Health and Wellness, Media Matters Not

“…to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
“The consent of the governed” – and what a concept, hey? And outlined in our very own Declaration of Independence. That the government has authority only as far as those it governs permits, allows or tolerates; a notion which seems to have escaped the more stubbornly authoritarian among us, such as the governors of certain states: among them Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom, of California, the Unspeakable Kate Brown of Oregon, Gretchen Witmer, the Grand Karenator of Michigan, J.B. “Jabba the Hutt” Pritzker of Illinois, Ralph Northam, the Baby-Killer of Virginia and the weaselly and nipple-pierced autocrat of New York, Andrew “Missed It By That Much!” Cuomo. All the above-listed, and a good few others of lesser notoriety and office went on an authoritarian kick: “Close all the things!” seemed to be their rallying cry, after first ignoring the first warning signs of the Wuhan Coronavirus, aka the Chinese Commie Crud, and then losing their damned minds when the National Establishment Media lost theirs.

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