I am just writing a piece about Maureen Dowd that begins with a quotation from William Hazlitt: “Those who lack delicacy hold us in their power.” La Dowd exemplifies the melancholy truth of Hazlitt’s observations in her girly, gossipy prose that brings the cattiest of sorority nastiness to the august pages of a once-serious newspaper. It’s the disjunction that causes the frisson: you’re expecting some sort of serious analysis or opinionating and what you get instead is this painful smart-ass calling people names and calling attention to herself like a poorly brought-up, pubescent brat who recently discovered that her sex could be deployed as a weapon as well as an excuse.
But let me leave Maureen Dowd for later on. Now I want to remark on the wide application of Hazlitt’s principle: “Those who lack delicacy hold us in their power.” You can, I’m sure, think of plenty of examples. Here’s one. My friend Kevin Williamson, a writer for National Review, author (most recently) of The End is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome, and theater critic for the magazine I edit, The New Criterion, got tossed out of a theater last night. Why? Because Hazlitt’s principle was working overtime. Let Kevin explain:
The show was Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, which was quite good and which I recommend. The audience, on the other hand, was horrible — talking, using their phones, and making a general nuisance of themselves. It was bad enough that I seriously considered leaving during the intermission, something I’ve not done before. The main offenders were two parties of women of a certain age, the sad sort with too much makeup and too-high heels, and insufficient attention span for following a two-hour musical. But my date spoke with the theater management during the intermission, and they apologetically assured us that the situation would be remedied.
The situation was not remedied. On the contrary, “The lady seated to my immediate right (very close quarters on bench seating) was fairly insistent about using her phone. I asked her to turn it off. She answered: “So don’t look.” I asked her whether I had missed something during the very pointed announcements to please turn off your phones, perhaps a special exemption granted for her. She suggested that I should mind my own business.
This is where things got interesting.
So I minded my own business by utilizing my famously feline agility to deftly snatch the phone out of her hand and toss it across the room, where it would do no more damage. She slapped me and stormed away to seek managerial succor. Eventually, I was visited by a black-suited agent of order, who asked whether he might have a word.
Kevin wondered, as I would have done, whether management had come over to give him a pat on the back and congratulate him on dealing effectively with a public nuisance. I hope you will be as shocked as I was to learn that instead, he got the boot. There is, Kevin concluded, “talk of criminal charges.” I assume, but do not know, that he means he is contemplating suing the female in question, the theater, or both. It’s been suggested to me that, on the contrary, the possible charges might be directed at Kevin.That, I suppose, is possible, but only because William Hazlitt, with his laser-like insight, saw deeply into the heart of human folly.
On April 10 I published the next step in my developing self-improvement program, an application of Charlie Martin’s 13 Weeks method to my problem of better organizing my research. I looked forward to diving back into a deep reading routine filled with novels and culture while blogging my results here at PJ Lifestyle so all the wiser, more enlightened souls who make it their business to fill the comments section with their manifestos could tell me what an idiot I was for not seeing the world exactly the way they did.
But then on April 15 — Patriot’s Day — bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon, resulting in 3 deaths and 264 injuries. The real world had intruded on the Wonderland of Books I’d constructed for myself. As Charlie has pointed out from time to time in his 13 Weeks series, life has a way of throwing off our plans.
For days the country sat in nervous panic as police searched for the killers. Partisans of every persuasion speculated about the motives of the evil monsters who would load pressure cooker bombs with shrapnel to mutilate the bodies of innocent human beings they had never met. David Sirota of Salon longed for the murderous act to serve as fodder for his goal of demonizing his political opponents. I liked the way PJ columnist Roger Kimball put it on on the morning of April 18:
One of the curious, but also most predictable, responses to the Boston Marathon bombings from the Left has been the fervent expression — amounting nearly to a prayer — that the perpetrator or perpetrators of this act of mass murder be “homegrown,” preferably white, male, Christian, and conservative.
Why? Why does the Left prefer to have its terrorism served up by Timothy McVeigh rather than Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad? It’s an interesting question. That the Left exhibits this prejudice is, like Falstaff’s dishonesty, “gross as a mountain, open, palpable.”
David Sirota, writing at Salon, gives almost comic expression to the genre in an essay with the really special title “Let’s hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American.” Why does Mr. Sirota wish that the Boston murderer of 8-year-old boys be a white American? Because a spectral quality called “white male privilege” operates insidiously behind the scenes. If Timmy McVeigh blows up a government building, says Mr. Sirota, only he is blamed. If Mohammed does it, Muslims are likely to be “collectively slandered and/or targeted with surveillance or profiling (or worse).”
What do you think of that argument? I think it’s hooey.
But how can intellectual and cultural warriors do battle with hooey level arguments? PJ Media Legal Editor J. Christian Adams offered advice to the Benghazi whistleblowers that is just as applicable to every American striving to fight for these issues in their own way:
I know a thing or two about being a whistleblower. I appeared on the Huckabee show this weekend (see video below) and explained how simply telling the truth is the way to shield yourself from the sinister deceptions from places like the Huffington Post and the George Soros-funded Media Matters. They can try to smear you, but the truth of your testimony will rise above their smears.
All we can do is present the truth about the nature of the enemy. If that doesn’t work, then what else is left?
We tend to think of Hollywood as a bastion of leftism, and rightly so. Books like Ron Radosh’s Red Star Over Hollywood demonstrate the deep-seated left wing dominance of the entertainment industry. Even with the leftism prevalent in Hollywood’s Golden Age, many unabashed conservatives found success without compromising their principles, including one of the most creative minds in the business – Walt Disney.
Several biographers and writers that I’ve read have tried to declare that Walt Disney was apolitical, but I find this conclusion not to be true. Diane Disney Miller once said that her father was “kind of a strange figure” politically, and Walt admitted his own political naiveté:
A long time ago, I found out that I knew nothing whatsoever about this game of politics and since then I’ve preferred to keep silent about the entire matter rather than see my name attached to any statement that was not my own.
But plenty of people surrounding Walt Disney knew the truth: that he was conservative to his core. Ward Kimball, one of Disney’s “Nine Old Men,” said that Walt’s right-leaning politics made him uncomfortable and that politics drove a rift in their friendship in Disney’s later years. Radical writer Maurice Rapf, who worked on several Disney films, including Song of the South, said, “He was very conservative except in one particular – he was a very strong environmentalist.” However, Walt Disney’s conservatism did not manifest itself until after he had been a businessman for several years.
Walt Disney’s early exposure to politics came from his father, Elias, who was a Socialist – in particular, he followed the philosophy of J. A. Wayland. Wayland created a unique strain of Prairie Socialism in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Daniel J. Flynn, in his book A Conservative History of the American Left, tells of how Wayland “reached Americans with the message [of Socialism] that had been heretofore explained in a German, Yiddish, or Russian accent, but never with a Bible-belt twang.”
At the risk of sounding pretentious, cynical, or both:
I don’t shock easily.
Zombie cannibal killers? What, again?
Another new “ism” added to the “hate speech” list? So last Tuesday.
So when I made my daily visit to the blog SmallDeadAnimals.com, I figured I was staring at a typo:
[I]t costs $84k a year to go to Columbia Journalism School…
“Surely that should read ‘$8,400 a year,’” I thought.
“Or maybe that $84,000 is the entire cost of a three-year degree.
“Ha! Pretty funny that there’s a typo in an article about journalism school…”
Except there wasn’t.
That’s the correct figure.
I’ll be traveling over Easter and don’t think I’ll have time to blog, so I’ll leave a few mini-reviews to unroll day by day for your holiday viewing pleasure — or not.
— Oh, man, I so wanted to like this. Liam Neeson killing evil Muslims to get his kidnapped wife back? It worked once, why not again? Plus the critics hated it while the public ate it up, so I was all ready to side with the public. But, really, no. The characters are terribly written, the action is poorly choreographed. Poor Neeson looks like he needs to be rescued more than his family. There’s one scene where he’s in a Mexican standoff — evil Muslims have him and his wife at gunpoint; he’s holding a gun on them — and, so help me, he pauses to make a phone call! I was hoping he was calling his agent: “Get me out of here!” No such luck. A few days after I saw this, I was on the elliptical and Taken 1 came on TV. I was struck again by its taut structure, its expert suspense. Take my advice: watch the first one twice and forget 2.
If Chuck Norris gets a pedicure so that his toes will feel more comfortable when he kicks people in the face, will you think he is a wimp? No. If R. Lee Ermey wants to drink a Cosmopolitan because he feels that it will keep his throat perfectly primed to yell at people, he can get away with it. If UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones likes to unwind by watching Twilight after choking someone unconscious in a cage fight, who are we to argue?
Still, there are some things that even the manliest of masculine manly men can’t get away with on their most masculinely manly days without having their man card permanently pulled. For example:
1) Geeking out on children’s entertainment
It’s one thing for a man to listen to the awful music of Justin Bieber and think, “Wow, that’s not the worst thing I’ve ever heard.” It’s quite another to actually go to one of his concerts for the fun of it or, worse yet, refer to himself as a “Belieber.” Wanna go to a comic-book convention? Ok, but if you’re a dude who dresses up like Thor and starts speculating about whether you can defeat the Hulk in a fight, you have a “man problem” you need to address. Don’t even get me started on being a damn brony and walking around in public talking about My Little Pony. Are you a five-year-old girl? If the answer to that question is “no,” then you don’t have any business being a fan of a show aimed at five-year-old girls.
It’s nearly impossible to review a show on the fly, so I’ve relied on DVRing each new episode of Doomsday Preppers, and reviewing it the next day. This worked great until last week, when for whatever reason episode 14, “A Fortress at Sea,” didn’t record. I chalked it up to there being a mid-season re-run (they happen), and didn’t know otherwise until a reader asked my why I didn’t review it. Oops.
So, this week we’re going to do the best we can and condense two episodes “A Fortress at Sea” and “Let Her Rip” into one post. Call it “Ripped at Sea,” which is what I’m going to wish I was after doing a twofer.
Ready? Here we go!
Kevin and Annissa Coy live in Washington atate and were impacted by the explosion of Mount St. Helens in 1980. Along with their children and grandchildren, they are preparing against the threat of another eruption from one of five active volcanoes within striking distance of their home, including the country-killer, Yellowstone.
They have multiple vehicles to bug-out in, including a truck towing a 5th-wheel RV, a converted Greyhound bus, a 27-foot sailboat on a trailer, and a rollback wrecker to tote a micro-house in case the worst happens. They’ve got livestock (chickens, pigs, rabbits, etc), a year’s supply of food for the entire family… and problems.
Prior to the show, their efforts, while generally well thought-out, had been hypothetical. When it came time to put the theory into practice, that hit several serious snags. The truck that they had to pull the livestock trailer was jacked up too high to connect to the trailer, so they were forced to leave most large livestock behind to die in the hypothetical ash cloud (sorry, Porky). The chickens and rabbits ended up shoved into the luggage compartments of the bus, and I frankly think they stand a decent chance of dying of carbon monoxide poisoning since those aren’t very well-ventilated.
The micro-house Kevin built for Annissa, sadly, wouldn’t load up on the flatbed. Presumably, they need a better skid system under it.
The show’s experts at Practical Preppers dinged the Coys pretty hard for not having adequate water filtration figured out (if someone knows of a volcanic ash-/sludge-rated water filter, please let me know) and for security preps. I was a little uncertain about that, but since the only firearms showed on their segment were a bolt action .22LR and a scoped-deer rifle, it might mean they didn’t have sufficient firepower and/or numbers, since it is rather difficult to drive and shoot. They give them 11 months of survival time.
My friend RJ Moeller has done it again. Last fall, when he first told me about his hopes to start a series of interfaith, cross-cultural dialogue events, I knew he had a great idea, but whether he would actually pull it off seemed to me an open question. RJ always overflowed with great ideas and an infectious enthusiasm to share them with others. So as great as it would be for him to bring together more Adam Carolla-Dennis Prager-style combinations, I wondered if this idea would really come to fruition or if another of his entrepreneurial efforts would take off instead.
And I have to say, I’m really a bit stunned not just that RJ pulled this off, but that he managed to organize it all so quickly. And not only that, but could he have picked a more appropriate subject to begin with than defining the Judeo-Christian value system?
“Ask a Jew” will take place on Sunday, March 17 from 4:00-6:00 at Mariners Church in Irvine, CA, and tickets can be purchased here for $25, or $75 for VIP reserved tickets and a pre-show reception. This week I asked RJ a few questions to learn more about what he’s cooked up for us:
PJ Lifestyle: Given the success of the events you organized with Dennis Prager and Adam Carolla dialoguing, it’s no surprise you would want to expand and try new combinations of speakers. Why “Ask a Jew: An Evening With Dennis Prager And Hugh Hewitt“?
RJ: The Prager-Carolla connecting was in many regards “lightning in a bottle.” In a very real sense of the cliche, I simply happened to be in the “right place at the right time” to help make that thing happen. However, what I learned from that exciting experience was this: if you have a good idea, pursue it — because often the reason something like it hasn’t happened before (or hasn’t happened in the way you believe it should) merely boils down to other folks not taking a risk or putting forth the effort to bring it to life.
In the case of “Ask A Jew,” both Dennis and Hugh are fairly well-known commodities but they are known primarily for their political radio shows, columns, and best-selling books. But what I want to personally hear from both men — and many other articulate voices in the public square like them — are their perspectives on cultural, moral, and philosophical issues that matter to all of us. This event is the kick-off of what I hope will end up being a long-running series of candid conversations among those who describe themselves “center-right” politically.
My goal is to bring the people I enjoy listening to and reading the most to new audiences. I want evangelicals to interact with Jewish and Catholic intellectuals. I want secular libertarians to hear how thoughtful and interested in limited government and free markets so many brilliant religious conservatives are. Hugh and Dennis typify the dynamic I’m talking about. They are from such different backgrounds, have different personalities, part ways on key theological points — and yet they are best friends and share so many common values. It’s so much bigger (and more important) than politics, and anyone who listens to a show like Dennis Prager’s knows how serious he is about engaging all issues and areas of life.
Politics is dominating and suffocating Americans because, in my opinion, they’ve stopped talking (and thinking critically) about all of the infinitely more important things in life. Not every show we do will be “Ask A Jew,” and we’ll have other interesting combinations and pairings of well-known writers/thinkers across the country this year, but I wanted to start with Hugh and Dennis because they are two of the most candid, knowledgeable, and good-natured voices in the public square. Oh, and they are entertaining. Remember when that was important?
Action movies are just as American as motherhood, apple pie, and capitalism. Movies like Unforgiven, Gladiator, Rooster Cogburn, Conan, Dirty Harry, Die Hard, The Dark Knight, High Noon, Man on Fire, Red Dawn, Tombstone, and True Grit speak to men in a primal language that transcends the story line on the screen. Men like these films because they capture qualities we’d like to think we have ourselves. We like the idea of being billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne and fighting crime in our spare time, pointing a gun at a punk and asking him if he feels lucky, or responding to the question, “What is best in life?” with “To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women!“ While there are dozens of deserving action movies, there are seven that are particularly good at revealing parts of the male psyche.
1) First Blood
John Rambo is a damaged character. His fighting in Vietnam left him with mental problems, made him ill-equipped to fit into society, and led to him ultimately having a difficult and lonely existence. However, there are two things about him that make the character click with men. The first is this:
Teasle: Are you telling me that 200 men against your boy is a no-win situation for us?
Trautman: You send that many, don’t forget one thing.
Trautman: A good supply of body bags.
Rambo doesn’t pick the fight, but when he is backed up against a wall, he is a one-man army. This theme is repeated over and over in action movies because it’s something men aspire to all the way down in their souls.
The other, more subtle thing that makes Rambo appealing is that he shares a grievance that most men have on some level or another: his sacrifices are largely unappreciated. He went through hell to do what had to be done, paid a terrible price for it, saw his suffering shrugged off by men unfit to say his name, and was left holding the bag. There are millions of men who feel the exact same way. They’ve provided, they’ve struggled, they’ve done things they didn’t want to do for other people, and, ultimately, they found that it wasn’t valued. That makes it easy to relate to a character like Rambo, even if you’re not planning to shoot at anybody with a machine gun.
The joy of children also comes with the horrors of what motherhood does to the body. Trying to recapture some semblance of my former self, I joined a few fancy corporate gyms with salons and spas and pretty associates selling banana-choco-gluten-free $12 shakes, but I never achieved the results I wanted. It turns out that quitting was the answer. I finally discovered how to get fit and have a great time doing it. I joined a family-owned, martial arts gym. The following truths will convince you to ditch your corporate gym membership in favor of a much better option that actually produces results while improving every area of your life.
9. “Do you believe in love at first sight or do I have to walk by you again?”
A simple Google search on “picking up girls” will lead to hundreds of smarmy articles advising men on how to hook up at the gym. This particular sentiment — from someone claiming to be a gentleman — sums it up about perfectly:
Utilized properly, the gym is one of the finest hunting grounds for the well prepared cocksman.
Wow. Where to begin? If you’re 20 and this is the kind of thing you’re into, I’d say that guy is right. Big corporate gyms with lots of young, dumb girls would be a good place for a sexual predator to stalk his kill. However, when you’re a married mom or dad, this is not the kind of environment that will encourage your marriage. Further, it’s uncomfortable to feel as if you are being sized up by people who refer to themselves as “cocksmen.” It’s also disconcerting trying to avoid that one guy who stalks you with his eyes when you’re trying to use that embarrassing machine where you pretend to strangle someone with your thighs. Awkward.
A small, family-owned gym that caters to both children and adults has a totally different vibe for more mature members with the goal of family fitness. Many people don’t know that most martial arts programs have cardio classes and training for adults. My family belongs to Randori Jiu-Jitsu, where we can take a variety of classes like jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, boxing, judo, karate, mixed martial arts, and conditioning and strength training all without a nightclub atmosphere or threat of venereal disease.
Today is the one year anniversary of the death of New Media pioneer and American patriot Andrew Breitbart. In his memory I’m reprinting the article I published a year ago in response, explaining the impact he had, originally titled “Immortality: Andrew Breitbart’s 5 Gifts to Generation Y Conservatism.”
My wife called him the wizard, for he could conjure up anything at any time with limitless energy.
As an enthusiast for pop culture’s fruits, perhaps Big Hollywood’s founder would allow a Harry Potter reference to describe the impact he left on American political culture and the lives of those who knew him.
During the final years of his life Breitbart transformed into the Bad Guy, a political assassin in the vast right-wing conspiracy who could fire lightning bolts to sizzle political careers and collapse Marxist organizations. He became the dark lord Voldemort, the great Boogeyman masterminding the Tea Party New Media Revolution.
And as with the horcrux relics of J.K. Rowling’s fantasy, Breitbart planted pieces of his soul everywhere. Now that he’s gone his spirit will exert greater influence. His seeds will continue to grow and everyone will see his touch from beyond the grave.
What will come? Here are five directives Breitbart imprinted on the next generation of conservatives.
5. Focus on the Right Culture War.
As children growing up during the Clintonian Age, “culture war” meant baby boomers obsessing over sex and fantasy violence: V-Chips for TV, abstinence sex education, Monica’s stained dress, Ellen DeGeneres and Mortal Kombat. With an economy booming and twin towers standing, the maintenance of Millennial innocence dominated parental political priorities. And so the conservative media critique remained for a generation.
With Breitbart’s rise, a new generation began to shift culture war to something else. Not Christian morality vs secularist hedonism, but universal American values vs cultural Marxism.
To see the Breitbart principle in action, consider Big Journalism’s recent fight to hold accountable Keith Olbermann for covering up the sexual violence of Occupy Wall Street. (Minimizing the severity of criminal behavior remains a preferred cultural Marxist tactic in the effort to initiate greater societal destabilization for revolution.)
A practical danger hides within Olbermann’s meme. Bad ideas have real-world consequences. How many future victims will think, “Well if Keith Olbermann says this rape-at-occupy stuff is more crap from this racist Breitbart then we might as well go…”?
That’s why the culture war matters. These ideas destroy lives. They must be stopped. But to do that we need to know their origin. And here too Breitbart led the way.
Most people think Marv is crazy, but I don’t believe that. I’m no shrink and I’m not saying I’ve got Marv all figured out or anything, but “crazy” just doesn’t explain him. Not to me. Sometimes I think he’s retarded, a big, brutal kid who never learned the ground rules about how people are supposed to act around each other. But that doesn’t have the right ring to it either. No, it’s more like there’s nothing wrong with Marv, nothing at all — except that he had the rotten luck of being born at the wrong time in history. He’d have been okay if he’d been born a couple of thousand years ago. He’d be right at home on some ancient battlefield, swinging an ax into somebody’s face. Or in a Roman Arena, taking a sword to other gladiators like him. They’d have tossed him girls like Nancy, back then. — Sin City
Ever watched a classic action flick? Of course you have. Movies like Die Hard, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lethal Weapon, First Blood, and 300 have become fixtures in the American psyche. All these movies feature either a lone man or a small group fighting in a desperate, violent struggle and yet, somehow, coming out on top. Throughout most of America’s history, the average man could more easily relate to the experiences in those movies the way someone who shoots hoops at the park could relate to watching an NBA game. Sure, they might not have been able to do what they were seeing on the screen, but they were well-acquainted with violence. Either they had inflicted it, suffered it, or seen it up close and personal. We’re a nation that was birthed in a bloody revolution, where feuds and dueling were frequent occurrences, where intermittent battles with Indians occurred until the twenties, where roughly twenty percent of the male population served in WWII, and where fist fights and brawling were relatively common.
The average man may have seen hundreds of thousands of murders on his TV screen and committed tens of thousands more playing video games, but he has also probably never struck another human being in anger in his entire adult lifetime. In other words, he may be captivated by the imagery he sees at the movies, but he goes home knowing that he will never even live out a pale imitation of what he’s just seen.
Editor’s Note: For President’s Day today we’re republishing this post from Leslie Loftis from last September, which asked a question worth pondering on a regular basis.
My children are back in school, and I am able to return to my school day routine of reading The Transom after my older set get on the bus and my twins get dressed and make their beds. Admittedly, I don’t always make it to the end of the newsletter in one sitting, but the end is the best part. After the wonky political and economic news summaries, The Transom has an interesting links section, a slightly more serious version of Debby Witt’s Odd Links at The Corner.
This gem recently greeted me: “In a Mass Knife Fight to the Death Between Every President, Who Would Win and Why?” Perhaps because I have an eight-year-old son who took to the discussion like a moth to a flame when I discussed it with his uncle and father over dinner, this struck me as a very promising history lesson plan… one that the PC/we-need-feminized-men guardians would never allow.
This is an excellent example of the type of discussion that would engage young boys (and old ones based on the comment threads) but send experts and some moms into frets of whether it promotes aggression. Boys can’t even talk about theoretical fighting. When the boys get bored, rather than face that boredom is one of aggression’s main fuel sources, we drug them and congratulate ourselves that the little girls are doing so well.
I will grant that a knife fight is a bit harsh for a school lesson, but the game is easily modified to a survival island scenario, like Christ White posted. Both posts and comments are chock full of intriguing — and highly memorable — assertions. Think of the research possibilities!
America’s muddle in Afghanistan is not merely an unwise policy. Two prominent American authors — one a serious analyst (and former badass warrior), the other a bestselling novelist (who created one of our biggest badass heroes) — worry that it is an affront to American manhood as well.
For years Bing West has argued that our carrot with no stick approach to counterinsurgency and nation building in Afghanistan is sapping the “martial spirit” of our armed forces. Recently, he even wrote a column titled “We’re Too Nice to Win in Afghanistan,” detailing how a wimpy approach to a truly savage enemy is making victory impossible.
West proposes we change from a counterinsurgency protocol (winning hearts and minds in order to recruit allies against the terrorists while building a civil society) to a counter-terror strategy (kill them whenever and wherever we can find them and let the Afghan government build its own society).
Vince Flynn, in his new book The Last Man, has his fictional alter ego, Mitch Rapp, take a very direct approach. Upon being introduced to a former Taliban official the CIA has recruited to be part of the Afghan security infrastructure as America prepares to leave the country, and who is certainly playing both sides, he sees only one incentive structure that can work:
Pistol-whip the sneaky bastard and threaten to kill him if he doesn’t cooperate.
So, based on West’s superb book on the war in Afghanistan, The Wrong War, and Flynn’s best thriller to date, here are 5 ways that Obama’s approach to Afghanistan is an affront to American manhood.
The Dallas Sci-Fi Expo wrapped up on Sunday, February 10. We snapped photos of some of the best, most creative and most disturbing costumes of the show. Click on a thumbnail below to view photo galleries. They’re divided into Girls, Groups, and Guys.
You can see more costumes from the Dallas Sci-Fi Expo here.
We interviewed Battlestar Galactica’s Tricia Helfer, here.
And ran into MickeyDeadMau5Trooper here.
Today I’m at the Dallas Sci-Fi Expo (which is actually taking place in Irving). Kevin Sorbo and Morena Baccarin will be here today and tomorrow, along with stars from Back to the Future, Battlestar Galactica, Tron, comic book artists, and of course, just about every superhero and villain imaginable.
Let’s walk the exhibition floor and see who turns up.
I don’t know what they’re selling, but they had a lot of buyers.
Even a Sith.
Americans have a naïve view of religion. The religious freedom that is so ingrained in our tradition — and our Constitution — has morphed beyond tolerance to a sort of anthropomorphic acceptance of pretty much anything.
In other words, in order to prove how tolerant we are, we take our basically Judeo-Christian view of what religion and God should be, and assume all other religions share the same goals, have the same values, and are just differing manifestation of the same loving and just God.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, the God of the Bible is unique in the history of the world’s religions. From Baal to Zeus, from Jupiter to Allah and Odin, the gods of paganism are capricious masters, not loving fathers. Control is their goal — when they think of humans at all — not justice or peace.
But saying so is sooooo judgmental!
Marvel Comics master storyteller Stan Lee took the most interesting of the Norse gods, Thor, the God of Thunder, and made him a crusader for truth, justice, and maybe even the American Way… or at least Western values.
But think of it from the view of the Vikings — what could be more capricious and destructive than the god of the weather?
But of course, a self-centered destructive superhero who loves war and longs to be worshiped would make for a crappy comic book.
On the serious side, though, a misunderstanding of a leading world religion has serious implications for most of the current world conflicts.
Even George W. Bush mouthed the diplomatically convenient canard “Islam means peace.” Yes, and Pravda means “truth.”
A non-rebellious slave is at “peace” with his master, too.
Do you ever look at another human being and just want to say, “Stop it!” — except, before the words leave your mouth, you realize that what you really want the person to do is to stop being himself? Asking a complete ass to stop annoying you is like asking a bird not to chirp or a fish not to swim. No matter how much you try to wish it away, it’s just what he’s chosen to be.
1) The Male Feminist
Maybe no one has informed you of this, but you are a dude. A man is not supposed to be a neutered, pansy-ass, emasculated weenie who trashes his own sex and spouts off lines Gloria Steinem didn’t even really believe when she first said them. Are guys like this trying to impress chicks? Were they brainwashed in a women’s studies class in college? Are they just uncomfortable with the fact that they have a penis? Whatever the case may be, these losers are so irritating that you get the feeling that even most liberal feminists have to choke back the intrinsic revulsion that they feel for these Nancy Boys.
Author James Wasserman posted this image on Facebook last week and noted:
Laura Wiggers sent me this photo of Robert Anton Wilson in Gurney’s apartment (1986) for the post-lecture evening described on page 216 of In the Center of the Fire when a certain Nancy Wasserman drove me half crazy, probably in collusion with Laura if memory serves. Not that anyone was drinking in those days!
In trying to figure out a regular angle for my third resolution, it dawned on me the other day how many Robert Anton Wilson (RAW) books — particularly his novels — I still had not read. Maybe for my excerpts for funny PJ Lifestyle Bookshelf recommendations I should highlight his jokes? Hence today’s excerpt from Schrodinger’s Cat: The Universe Next Door.
As with many countercultural and spiritual wanderers of the past 40 years, one of my most cherished guides and influence was RAW, a comedic philosopher-intellectual and novelist most well known for his mind-bending memoir Cosmic Trigger I: Final Secret of the Illuminati and The Illuminatus! Trilogy (co-authored with Robert Shea.)
The idea uniting Wilson’s books is one that I still sympathize with but no longer embrace: radical agnosticism. Wilson sought to provoke his readers to learn to always question their perceptions and assumptions, to strive to look through other people’s “reality tunnels.” As a general principle this is still a sound cause to triumph. But I understand now, having imbibed a few more glasses of painful life experience, that this as an overarching ideology cannot sustain itself.
Recognizing a multiplicity of potentially valuable, useful reality tunnels is one thing. But figuring out how to value one as more effective than another is something else entirely. And looking back now across Wilson’s work I see how he failed to do that. His list of influences runs across the gamut from the genuinely brilliant to the malevolent charlatans. And his storyteller and raconteur’s gifts then apply to help popularize both. Perpetually doubting and always striving to see from another’s perspective means that when the time comes to really stand strong on an important principle it can be very hard to do. Insist long enough that we live in a world of endless shades of gray and someday you’ll stumble into a darkness far bleaker than anything imaginable. And doubt can stand against it?
No, but laughter can. And just because Wilson couldn’t realize that some of the ideas and authors he trumpeted were better than others it doesn’t me that we cannot.
For Wednesday’s humorous blogging I’m going to start going through my old RAW books and highlighting what I discover now through my more seasoned, less naive eyes. I want to try and figure out what Wilson got right and where he went off the rails. Which of his 11 novels and 18 nonfiction books merit inclusion on the Counterculture Conservative book list?
But I’ll still try and stick to the New Year’s Resolution and offer up some humor too and not just dwell on the darkness that he and so many of his generation and many since chose to escape confronting.
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(Heinlein fans may remember this from “The Roads Must Roll”.)
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No wonder every kid grows up wanting to be a superhero. The comic books make it sound awesome: your life is exciting, you’re important, you’re famous, and being a hero is part of the description of what you do on a regular basis! It’s like being a celebrity-astronaut-Seal who can lift a car over his head. Who wouldn’t want to do that? Well, maybe YOU wouldn’t once you realized that in practice, it would be about as much fun as being Mark Sanchez’s quarterback coach.
1) It Would Be Impossible to Hide Your Secret Identity.
Most comics only make a cursory attempt to explain how superheroes could hide their identity. Superman just wore glasses. Glasses on, Clark Kent. Glasses off, “Hello, Superman!” Batman wore a mask and disguised his voice, but he was obviously an incredibly wealthy, athletic man with access to advanced technology who lived near Gotham. If you asked the Bat Computer to tell you how many people fit that description, the only answer would be, “Bruce Wayne.” Peter Parker was a photographer who, completely coincidentally, was selling pictures of Spider Man to the Daily Bugle every week. Like no one could figure that out.
It doesn’t exactly take Stephen Hawking to crack the mystery of those secret identities, and the real world is much more sophisticated. You’d have every intelligence agency on the planet trying to figure out your identity, gossip mags offering to pay millions for evidence, statistics junkies mapping every place you’d ever been, tens of thousands of bloggers and journalists trying to figure out who you are, and tens of millions of Internet junkies on fan sites spending hours every day trying to piece together who you are when they’re not writing erotic fan fiction imagining you being seduced by the evil lizard queen of Mars. Eventually, someone would snap a cell-phone picture of you coming out of your lair, some long forgotten cousin would remember you picking up a jeep when you were five, or someone would figure out who you were from the DNA on a can of Coke you drank while you were visiting orphans. Then, you’d have super-villains showing up at your house, people kidnapping everyone you ever said “hello” to in public, and even worse….
The Black Count:
Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo
By Tom Reiss
Crown, $27, 414 pp.
Review by David Forsmark
It sounds like one of those goofy Black History Month blog posts put out by an activist — hey, did you know the inspiration for the Count of Monte Cristo was really black … and his name was Alexandre Dumas?
The first thought that crossed my mind while reading The Black Count — the fascinating new book by Tom Reiss — was “why the heck hadn’t anyone written a major biography of General Alex Dumas before 2012?” This was immediately followed by “why the heck do we have Black History Month if it’s not going to uncover and publicize this man’s story?”
First, to avoid any confusion, the book’s subject is not the 19th century author who penned such adventure classics as The Three Musketeers, The Corsican Brothers, and The Count of Monte Cristo. Rather, this is the tale of the writer’s father, who is not nearly as well known as he deserves to be.
Reiss, author of The Orientalist, presents the story of the son of a French aristocrat and a Dominican slave who rose through the ranks of the French army through feats of incredible valor, only to be betrayed by racist backlash. In the process, Reiss offers a unique look at the first modern-style totalitarian government to be born of revolution.
The Black Count begins in the slave-trading world of colonial France, an oddly hybrid system where French legal protections for people of mixed race clashed with perhaps the most brutal form of European-sponsored slavery in the New World.
Alex enters the historical record at the age of 14, when his father, a rebellious French nobleman who disappeared into the Haitian wilds with his slave mistress, returns after a years-long absence to reclaim his inheritance. Alex, however, is his father’s sole companion when they return to France; his mother and sisters were sold off by his father before the journey. Alex, in fact, was recorded as his father’s slave upon their return.
Alex, however, was brought up as a nobleman’s son and grew into an intellectually and physically imposing figure. Still, he entered the French army as an enlisted dragoon, rather than taking advantage of his titles.
John Adrain is an inventor living on a cliff’s edge in the Pacific Northwest. He has a variety of fears, including nuclear fallout, natural disasters, and biological terrorist attacks. He’s worried about a lot.
Now, as much as I like teasing our preppers/victims each week, Mr. Adrain addresses something at the very beginning of his segment that has been bugging me for two bleeping years.
I don’t quite understand bugging out. Where are you going to bug out to? Because if there was some sort of a panic, people think they’re just going to get onto the freeway and drive somewhere? I think there’s a lot of problems with that. You’re better off being prepared where you are.
On behalf of sane people everywhere, thank you, Mr. Adrain, for pointing out the common-sense idea that so many people on this show just don’t seem to grasp.
Adrain is serious about his home-defense prepping. Did I mention he lives in a house perched on a cliff? Natural geological defense worked against the rampaging hordes, and his home takes advantage of natural terrain. While he didn’t go for a moat, he did splurge on a military base-security-grade steel gate that will stop a 10-ton vehicle going (if I heard the narrator correctly) 50 MPH.
Then he tickled this gunnie’s heart.
On the chance that a vehicle does breach the perimeter, Adrain wants a weapon that will penetrate the engine block or passenger compartment with equal ease. His cartridge of choice is the .50 Beowulf, a cartridge yours truly has fired on multiple occasions both in the recommended semi-auto and the absurdly entertaining full-auto, as shown on the next page.
If you ask Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey about political messages behind the The Who’s music, they’ll be quick to tell you the band steered clear of mixing politics and music. But when these rock legends sat down with ABC’s Jonathan Karl to talk about their work for teens with cancer, they didn’t shy away from talking about both politics and music.
Townshend, who described himself “a bit of a neocon” politically, said he was surprised that Mitt Romney lost the election to President Obama.
“I thought he [Romney] was throwing the money in such buckets and I thought Obama looked, looked tired,” Townshend said of the presidential election.
While Townshend said he mostly tries to stay out of politics, he thought the election’s outcome was good in the sense that it provides consistency in the midst of an economic recovery. “You need a continuum now I think,” said Townshend.
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