Huzzah! I’m Almost Back Home.

So tomorrow is the flight home and tonight I have wifi access.  It was a remarkable trek (for someone as feeble and lazy as myself) and went from Las Vegas to Zion National Park, to Vermilion Cliff National Monument including a side trip into the White Pocket area and then over to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and finally back to Las Vegas where I took a few shots of Lake Mead and environs.  I almost exclusively used a Voigtlander 10mm f\5.6 lens with the rest being a Sony 55mm f\1.8 for the tighter shots.  Heaven only knows what that’s going to produce but I’m excited to see.  Sorry for this short note but I need to catch up first with what is going on in the big bad world.



As threatened, I will be away until next Thursday (22MAR) and will have limited (if any) opportunity to post.  But don’t despair.  I will be gathering excellent photographic material and revitalizing my flagging wit.  I hope that in my absence there will be no Trump related nuclear exchanges or Mueller presidential indictments or any other earthshaking events.  Feel free to leave comments on this post to provide me with any topics or things that you think warrant attention.  Or just to say hello.

I shall return!


William Shatner – A Demigod of Bad Acting

Over the course of over fifty-five years of television viewing I have become jaded and much of what I once felt was entertaining has lost its thrill.  For instance, as a young kid I was convinced that “The Twilight Zone” was not only great acting and entertainment but also intellectually dazzling.  I thought that “Flipper” was top-notch adventure and “Lost in Space” was cutting edge science fiction.  Ah, youth.

But one thing has remained constant from the early sixties to the present day.  And that is the Shatner.  From my first sighting of him on the Twilight Zone as the panicked lunatic on “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” to his every close-up on the original “Star Trek” TV series to his every career iteration he has distinguished himself as the World’s Greatest Bad Actor.  No one can compare.

And along the way I’ve cheered him on.  I thrilled to the scene where he agonized about “losing command” when the transporter separated him into “Good Kirk and Bad Kirk” and he knew that “Bad Kirk” was muy macho and he, “Good Kirk,” was a wimp.  I was transfixed as marooned Kirk shouted up to the sky, “KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!!!!”  And I fought back the nausea listening to his riveting rendition of Elton John’s “Rocket Man.”  It’s been a wild ride.

But his greatest role is one that few have seen or remarked on.  In 1984 he starred in a made for tv movie called “Secrets of a Married Man.”  In it he is an engineer who is going through a mid-life crisis.  His job is on the line due to a difficult project.  He’s stressed out and his wife is busy with the kids.  He starts having sex with hookers.  There are a number of hilarious Shatner overacting scenes that turn what is supposed to be serious problems into over the top comedy.  In one scene he’s in the shower and looks down and starts spazzing out and choking out the words “Oh my God!”  In the next scene his doctor is telling him he just has a rash on his genitals and he shouldn’t worry.  Another gem is Shatner driving down the main street with his wife in the car next to him and all the hookers are calling out greetings to him by his first name (Chris) and him claiming that it’s some kind of standard hooker greeting.  Ah, if only the Oscar went to the deserving.

But time is running out.  Shatner was born March 22, 1931.  In a few days he’ll be 87.  One day soon the world will wake up to the news that the Shat is no more.  And on that day, I will morn.  But in the meantime, it’s comforting to know that in this world of relativism and revisionist propaganda the gold standard for something has stood the test of time and will be there immortalized in all its tacky splendor, the life work of William Shatner.  Well done Shatner, well done.

14MAR2018 – Quote of the Day

(I once took a class on Homeric Greek from a very distinguished professor by the name of Seth Benardette.  Besides many other strange characteristics, he wore a seersucker suit every day to class that summer.  I’ve always wondered if it was just one suit.  Now, Bernardette very strongly believed that great human wisdom can be extracted from Homer’s Iliad.  Not being a renowned hellenist nor any kind but a practical philosopher I suppose I should defer to his superior judgement.  But I’ve always liked the Odyssey better.  I think this scene where Odysseus meets up with his dog that hasn’t seen him in twenty years since it was just a pup is more interesting than Achilles and his offended pride.)


As they were thus talking, a dog that had been lying asleep raised his head and pricked up his ears. This was Argos, whom Odysseus had bred before setting out for Troy, but he had never had any work out of him. In the old days he used to be taken out by the young men when they went hunting wild goats, or deer, or hares, but now that his master was gone he was lying neglected on the heaps of mule and cow dung that lay in front of the stable doors till the men should come and draw it away to manure the great field; and he was full of fleas. As soon as he saw Odysseus standing there, he dropped his ears and wagged his tail, but he could not get close up to his master. When Odysseus saw the dog on the other side of the yard, he dashed a tear from his eyes without Eumaios seeing it, and said:

“Eumaios, what a noble hound that is over yonder on the manure heap: his build is splendid; is he as fine a fellow as he looks, or is he only one of those dogs that come begging about a table, and are kept merely for show?”

“This hound,” answered Eumaios, “belonged to him who has died in a far country. If he were what he was when Odysseus left for Troy, he would soon show you what he could do. There was not a wild beast in the forest that could get away from him when he was once on its tracks. But now he has fallen on evil times, for his master is dead and gone, and the women take no care of him. Servants never do their work when their master’s hand is no longer over them, for Zeus takes half the goodness out of a man when he makes a slave of him.”

As he spoke he went inside the buildings to the room where the suitors were, but Argos died as soon as he had recognized his master.


13MAR2018 – Quote of the Day

A Happy Ending for the Ten Thousand

When last we left Xenophon he had roused the courage of the officers and then the common troops of the Ten Thousand Greek hoplites marooned a thousand miles behind the Persian lines, surrounded by the Great King’s uncountable troops and without a guide to lead them home.  He provided them with a general plan.  Head northwest to the mountains where the great rivers blocking their way would be shallow and passable and beyond which the King’s troops would not follow.  So, they travelled for many hundreds of miles on foot through modern day Iraq into what is now essentially Kurdistan and in fact fought many battles with the ancestors of the modern day Kurds.  At this point their goal was to reach the Black Sea in Armenia where Greek cities and ships could bring them back home to Greece.

[19]  From there they journeyed four stages, twenty parasangs, to a large and prosperous inhabited city which was called Gymnias. From this city the ruler of the land sent the Greeks a guide, in order to lead them through territory that was hostile to his own.

[20]  When the guide came, he said that he would lead them within five days to a place from which they could see the sea; if he failed to do so, he was ready to accept death. Thus taking the lead, as soon as he had brought them into the hostile territory, he kept urging them to spread abroad fire and ruin, thereby making it clear that it was with this end in view that he had come, and not out of good-will toward the Greeks.  [21] On the fifth day they did in fact reach the mountain; its name was Theches.

Now as soon as the vanguard got to the top of the mountain, a great shout went up.  22] And when Xenophon and the rearguard heard it, they imagined that other enemies were attacking in front; for enemies were following behind them from the district that was in flames, and the rearguard had killed some of them and captured others by setting an ambush, and had also taken about twenty wicker shields covered with raw, shaggy ox-hides.

[23] But as the shout kept getting louder and nearer, as the successive ranks that came up all began to run at full speed toward the ranks ahead that were one after another joining in the shout, and as the shout kept growing far louder as the number of men grew steadily greater, it became quite clear to Xenophon that here was something of unusual importance;  [24] so he mounted a horse, took with him Lycius and the cavalry, and pushed ahead to lend aid; and in a moment they heard the soldiers shouting, “The Sea! The Sea!” and passing the word along. Then all the troops of the rearguard likewise broke into a run, and the pack animals began racing ahead and the horses.

[25] And when all had reached the summit, then indeed they fell to embracing one another, and generals and captains as well, with tears in their eyes. And on a sudden, at the bidding of someone or other, the soldiers began to bring stones and to build a great cairn.  [26] Thereon they placed as offerings a quantity of raw ox-hides and walking-sticks and the captured wicker shields; and the guide not only cut these shields to pieces himself, but urged the others to do so.

[27] After this the Greeks dismissed the guide with gifts from the common stock—a horse, a silver cup, a Persian dress, and ten darics; but what he particularly asked the men for was their rings, and he got a considerable number of them. Then he showed them a village to encamp in and the road they were to follow to the country of the Macronians, and, as soon as evening came, took his departure.


The ZMan Addresses Anti-Semites

The Dissident Right has a generous contingent of people who spend a very large amount of time discussing the JQ (Jewish question).  The ZMan decided to define his stance on and explain his ambivalence toward anti-Semitism.  Essentially, he doesn’t share the belief that all the world’s ills are attributable to a Jewish cabal.  But by the same token he doesn’t consider those who do believe it to be literally Hitler.  He makes a comparison to show how he ranks anti-Semitism in the universe of possible conditions.  He asks which would you prefer as a neighbor, an anti-Semite or a methamphetamine dealer?

This is an interesting stance.  He has split the difference between the Alt-Right and the Establishment GOP.  I’ll explain.  The Establishment GOP would alert the media that they were beginning the crusade to make the world safe from anti-Semites.  On the flip side the Alt-Right would debate whether the worst offense of the Jews was engineering 9-11 or the fluorination of water.

So that’s the take.  He won’t join them but he won’t spend his time attacking them.  Seems reasonable.  I think the point is that the Left’s stance on anti-Semitism is that it is both the greatest sin and the one they get to define.  It’s like the race card.  If you criticize the BLM movement because they are irrational black supremacists that use violence and arson to blackmail cities into handcuffing the police and allowing unfettered crime in black neighborhoods and the adjoining areas then you are a racist.  If you think that Jewish liberals spear-head many of the movements and activities that have damaged our country or you notice that they make up a large part of the left-wing media and Hollywood then you are an anti-Semite.  The funny thing is you can be an anti-Semite even if you are a conservative Jew!  And so, this allows the Left to divide the Right by constantly separating off a part of the group as anti-Semitic and shaming the rest of the Right into shunning them.  This recalls William Buckley declaring the John Birch Society beyond the pale.  Meanwhile the Left is never required to divorce itself from BLM, Antifa or any of the really crazy types under their umbrella.

So I think the ZMan is more or less correct on this stance.  You can disagree or even dislike their views but that doesn’t make it your job to police their beliefs.  Just as the Left doesn’t sort out their problems between Sharia Law and Homosexuality.  Basically the enemy of my enemy is not someone I have to go after just because my enemy says so.

I would say that I’m probably quite a bit less accommodating of anti-Semitism than the ZMan.  Although aware that a large majority of Jewish Americans are very liberal and Democratic voters I don’t feel that they are any more or less at fault than all the other liberals and Democrats in the country.  And I know of some very conservative American Jews that are fully aware of the harm the Left is causing.  My next-door neighbor as a kid growing up in Brooklyn was a Sephardic Jew who had lived in Israel, served in the IDF during the early years, worked in the Italian Merchant Marine and got along in a neighborhood full of every kind of people.  He was a proud American and a religious man who was friendly with his Italian American neighbors almost to a fault.  So, I prefer to take people one at a time.

But by the same token I see the harm that is caused by allowing the Left to define what is allowable belief and what must be condemned.  That should be up to us and anti-Semitism doesn’t need to be our overwhelming concern while currently confronted with the constant harangue from the left about “white privilege” and “transphobia.”  We have more pressing concerns than “actual Hitler” jumping out from behind every “Bush.”  Basically, to the Left we’re all “actual Hitler” already.


Darkest Hour – A Movie Review

I remember as a kid seeing Winston Churchill’s funeral televised.  I knew who he was from the old early morning presentation of Mike Wallace’s “Biography” series.  I knew he was our ally during WW II and that he had rallied his country when the rest of Europe surrendered to the German military juggernaut.  Later I read some of his speeches and read about his earlier history during WW I.  But I didn’t imagine at this point that a good movie about his time as Prime Minister would come my way.  I am happily surprised to have been mistaken.

I finally got a chance to watch “Darkest Hour” tonight.  It has the look of a period piece and the feel of a film made from a stage play.  There are set pieces and dialogs and very little filmed outside of buildings.  I didn’t think Oldman was given a close resemblance to Churchill and the difficulty of understanding him when he is mumbling during certain scenes is considerable and I think purposeful.  And there is a particular scene in a subway car that is completely fictional and that includes a Jamaican man in the scene who seems to have been added for the sake of diversity or inclusion that seems anachronistic.

Put all that aside.  I thought it was a great evocation of the desperation of the time and the fateful choice of Churchill stepping into this darkest hour of British history.  His flawed and idiosyncratic personality rubbed almost everyone the wrong way and his pugnacious courage was at odds with the war-weary British government in the post-WWI era.  His relationship with Neville Chamberlain and King George VI are highlighted to show how he contrasted with those in government but the evolution of the war and the need for someone with the will to persevere in the face of Nazi blitzkrieg success becomes his inevitable platform from which to energize the Parliament and the people of England to take up the frightening struggle of all-out war.

Many of the scenes take place in underground bunkers where military and government teams are meeting and analyzing incoming war reports.  There is a definite claustrophobic feel in much of this.  And the frailty of Churchill’s age is highlighted when he seems overwhelmed by the infighting within his own war cabinet.  But all of this only magnifies the achievement when he resolves on what will be his path forward and what must be done.  The final speech in Parliament is stirring.

Highly recommended.

11MAR2018 – Current State of Affairs

Here we are, believe it or not, fast approaching the first quarter mile turn on the metaphorical 2018 One Mile Trump Derby Race and Fashion Show.  Currently, the favorite, God-Emperor (1) is ahead of SJW’s Last Hope (13) and JEB’s Your Daddy (17) by at least 8 lengths and his jockey has now reversed his seat and is making funny faces at the rest of the field as they rapidly shrink into the middle-distance.  Abandoning the horse racing metaphor (‘cause I can’t think of anything more), we have CNN and MSNBC praising President Trump’s initiative with North Korea, the President of the Steelworkers’ Union telling Chuck Todd that Trump will get electoral support from the rank and file over his trade stance and NeverTrumper Senator Dean Heller is slobbering over President Trump in the forlorn hope that this will help him win his primary.  Oh baby, the times they are a changin.

And the only real threat on the horizon, Mueller and his Russian witch-hunt, seems to be turning into a case of the besieger becoming the besieged.  I get the impression that the Trump Administration is building a case against Mueller to be used to put some teeth into a tit for tat agreement to end his investigation.

And let’s look at the political environment.  The Media is hanging around porn shoots trying to scare up interest in impeachment.  Congressional Democrats keep insisting that 2018 is their year to win back the House and Senate.  Congressional Republicans are trying to memorize the phrase tax cuts and jobs.  The NeverTrumpers are becoming increasingly lonely and confused.  The Dissident and Alt-Right are becoming so confident that they are almost giddy.  Some of them are toning down parts of their message to broaden their appeal.  Others are actually hardening their responses to leftists in the Social Media and the broader culture.  In general, there is a sense that the tide is turning against the left.  Whether this change is momentary or something that is gaining momentum is still unclear.  But there is definitely a change going on.  Good.

The Left of course is counter-attacking furiously wherever it can.  Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have basically expelled the Right from their sites.  California has declared war on ICE and the Federal Government.  And the activists federal judges are doing everything up to and including criminal malfeasance to block the Trump Administration wherever they can.  But I think they know they are getting their butts kicked.  Basically, these are delaying actions, scorching the earth behind their retreat.  Good.

So, what about me?  How do I feel about all this?  I am generally optimistic.  I think President Trump has shown that he can handle random catastrophes like the school shooting and deflect a lot of the media noise away from himself and his agenda.  And with the extremely strong economic news and the positive foreign policy news he’s positioned to help the hapless Republicans weather the 2018 midterms.

As a sanity check I understand that bad things are going to happen intermittently throughout the Trump Administration.  And some of them may be so dire that they destroy the progress currently being made.  But that’s the nature of life.  What Trump has done is demonstrate that we need a leader as President not a bureaucrat.  We must demand that whoever is the next President gets results.  He must work for us and not the global cartel.  I just hope Mike Pence is taking good notes and Donald Trump will give us his honest opinion of who his successor should be.

So, there we are.  Things are good and look to get even better.  Maybe Justice Kennedy will do the right thing.  He can vote constitutionally for freedom of religion on the Wedding Baker case and then retire to his beach house on Fire Island and allow a deciding vote Right Wing Justice to ascend to the bench.  We can hope to see the Justice Department prosecuting California for obstructing the immigration laws.  And we can hope to see Mueller ride off into the sunset with his tail between his legs.  Stay tuned.  Better days seem to be upon us.