Part of this process we are all going through, usually categorized under the label “being human,“ consists of those moments when we take stock of the situation, look around, look up, look within, and admit certain things hurt like hell but we’d just as soon not talk about them with anyone. It’s not that we are totally averse to the notion of seeking advice and comfort from others. Rather, it is either not wishing to burden those already carrying their own burdens with further difficulties, or a sudden flash of self-awareness that other people, in fact, also hurt and they’re tired of listening to you whine all the time like you’re the only person who’s got issues. Laugh, and the world laughs with you; pity party, and you pity party alone.

There is a third possibility: you simply don’t want to talk about it, no matter how deep the pain, because discussing things is the emotional equivalent of tearing a bandage off very, very slowly just to prove there’s a wound underneath. You know it’s there. Whether the world sees it is immaterial. It’s real, and it’s not that spectacular. It hurts like it is, though.

Still, it’s good to find some kind of commiseration. There is solace in knowing that others know, or have known, what we’re going through. We might not want to talk about it, but we wouldn’t mind hearing from others who are willing to talk about it. We know we are not alone, but we’d still like some reassurance we’re not the only one hurting.

Enter Mike Roe.

Roe, be it with his band The 77s or solo, has carved a path in Christian rock for naked honesty trumping needless homilies. In addition to possessing guitar skills legitimately placing him alongside such blues and rock legends as Eric Clapton, Roe is an amazing songwriter in two distinct genres: shimmering guitar pop and earthy blues/rock. That he is not feted as rock royalty is near criminal, but Roe perseveres. And he talks about the things we’d often rather not: divorce, alienation, loved ones dying.

Lately Roe has carried a heavy burden, taking care of his father as he has steadily drawn closer to the end of his days on this earth. Like most every other Christian rocker from back in the day, Roe is anything but independently wealthy, and needing to focus on his dad’s needs instead of making a living with his music has taken a toll. Thus the title of this post: you help him by buying some downloads and perhaps a CD or two, Roe and company bless you with their musical and lyrical gifts.

Ah, but where to begin — for that matter, where to find out what Roe and the 77s sound like? I’ve assembled a suggested playlist covering some of Roe’s gritty and graceful highlights. Each song title links to the band’s Bandcamp page where you can listen and buy, with one exception that’s not presently available but will be later this year. I had written descriptions for some of the songs, but I’ve discarded them as unnecessary. Just listen. You’ll get it.

This Is The Way Love Is

Woody

Begin

Ba-Ba-Ba-Ba

Nowhere Else

Dig My Heels

Mercy Mercy

Holy Hold

The Rain Kept Falling In Love

Make A Difference Tonight

Caught In An Unguarded Moment

The Years Go Down

Unbalanced

Perfect Blues

Sevens

The Lust, The Flesh, The Eyes & The Pride Of Life

Nobody’s Fault But Mine

The playlist is also available on YouTube.

Sipping whisky from a paper cup
You drown your sorrows ‘til you can’t stand up
Take a look at what you’ve done to yourself
Why don’t you put the bottle back on the shelf
Shooting junk ‘til you’re half insane
A broken needle in a purple vein
Why don’t you look into Jesus
He’s got the answer

 

from “Why Don’t You Look Into Jesus” by Larry Norman

 

On “Center Of My Heart,” a song from Tourniquet which was Larry Norman’s final studio album before he passed away ten years ago, he included the line “I’m a walking contradiction.” After reading Gregory Alan Thornbury’s Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?: Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock, it’s obvious truer words have seldom been spoken.

Thornbury’s biography of Larry Norman, Christian rock’s founding father in the 1960s and most polarizing figure to this day, is a fascinating and sobering look at the life of a man almost perpetually surrounded by controversy. Much of it was Norman’s own doing, intentional or no; his incessant need to be in control and insistence on being a lone wolf utterly convinced of his selected path’s correctness often frayed and sometimes shattered relationships both professional and personal. Yet, he could also be generous to a fault with his time, money, and talents. He was also a brilliant songwriter and performer, penning and recording work that remains stunningly powerful and genuinely life-changing for those who have ears to hear.

Norman, to quote from a song by Mark Heard whose early career was directly influenced by Norman, was too sacred for the sinners and the saints wished he’d leave. The former were often off-put by Norman’s frequent references to Christ crucified and risen, while the latter routinely freaked out over his mixing straightforward love and political songs, plus generous use of allegory and parable, into his body of work. Norman didn’t care. It was his vision, done his way, take it or leave it.

The book does an excellent job in painting the backdrop for Norman’s life and times, managing the not inconsiderable feat of detailing such elements as the Jesus People movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s in a manner both informative to the uninitiated and not dreary for those already in the know. Some biographers tell a tale of life well; others specialize in times. Thornbury does both well.

Thornbury mentions more than once how Norman in concert sought not to entertain, but rather to challenge his audience, having no hesitation about making it feel uncomfortable through in-between song musings as well as in the songs themselves. He posed questions about faith and how believers should conduct themselves in the world, detailing the need to demolish the Christian ghetto and actually be in the world but not of it. Norman was simultaneously icon and iconoclast, the one without whom most every contemporary Christian artists would not be there while at the same time asking what they were doing there, as they were neither witnessing to non-believers nor edifying those who were already Christians.

The book is unflinching in its examination of Norman and those around him; his first wife Pamela and his early protege Randy Stonehill both come off quite poorly. However, the book also tosses bouquets as easily as it does brickbats. It is no hatchet job designed to speak maximum ill of the dead or the living. In lieu thereof it is, as best as Norman can be capsulated, a multi-level study of a multi-level man who won friends, made enemies, influenced many far more than they are willing to admit, and left it for others to argue about as he decidedly did it his way. If you love Larry Norman, or have no idea who he was, Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?: Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock is enriching reading that, even as Norman did with his work, forces reflection.

The book is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

By John Ruberry

“When I came into office I took an oath, alright,” the mayor of Portland (Kyle MacLachlan) proclaims in Portlandia. “The oath was to keep Portland weird.”

And so he did.

The final episode of Portlandia, a sketch comedy series focusing on the hipsters who have taken over Portland, Oregon, aired on Thursday. The IFC show stars Saturday Night Live alumnus Fred Armisen and former Sleater-Kinney singer and guitarist Carrie Brownstein.

Over the last couple of decades Portland has become one of America’s most liberal cities. Do you remember the left-wing talk radio network from the 2000s, Air America? Its strongest market was Portland.

Most of the skits center on Armisen and Brownstein, including their Fred and Carrie characters, easily the least quirky of their Portlandia personas, who are also the best friends–“my favorite Portlanders”–of MacLachlan’s “Mr. Mayor.” Nina and Lance (He plays her she plays him), struggle in their relationship because they have almost nothing in common. Chin-bearded Spyke (more on him later) and Iris look to me to be the archetypal Portland couple. The Weirdos, Vince and Jacqueline, a goth couple, a kind of a Portland version of Fred and Lily Munster, face their own conflict. How do they get noticed in an increasingly freaky Portland? They choose a trip to the beach as their solution to this problem, which is delayed after their hearse breaks down. In another episode, they are falsely accused of a torching a taxidermy store. Their lawyer is another weirdo, Paul Reubens, better known of course as Pee Wee Herman.

But my favorite characters, and the most developed, are the owners of the Women & Women First book store–Toni and Candace, with Armisen playing the latter. The couple seems to have reached “lesbian bed death” years ago. It’s difficult to see what the well-adjusted Toni sees in the caustic Candace, who at a diary reading at the store barks at a late comer, “We’ve already done our journals–hers was abysmal, she refuses to contribute anything, and of ours, of course I think we won.”

Can a conservative enjoy Portlandia? Well, this one did.

Three years ago I briefly visited Portland where I discovered on my own that yes, it is weird, and it is filled with passive-aggressive people, just like these two Subaru drivers in the below clip. That make of car is enormously popular in Portland, by the way. They are afraid to offend but they do just that when they can’t decide who should proceed first at a four-way stop. “You, go,” one says, “No, you go.”

During that Portland sojourn I encountered some goofs, who were probably stoned, reclining inside a van at a gas station–I had to return my rental car with a full tank of gasoline before I dropped it off at the airport and I was in a hurry. They were blocking both sides of a lane of gas pumps. After I asked politely for them to move a couple of times, unlike the characters in the above clip, I quickly threatened to bash them if they didn’t immediately make room for me. They did indeed go.

Portlandia offers viewers a dazzlingly eclectic roster of top tier guest stars and cameos, including some who appear more than once, including Ed Begley Jr., Jeff Goldblum, Steve Buscemi, and Kumail Nanjian.

Others who show up once or twice include Aimee Mann (as herself trying to make ends meet as a housecleaner because of the difficulty of earning money as a musician in the era of streaming music), Matt Groening (a Portland native), Michael Nesmsith, Penny Marshall, the B-52s, Tim Robbins, Heather Graham, Martina Navratilova, k.d. Lang, Jason Sudekis, Paul Simon, Brigitte Nielsen, Greg Louganis, Henry Rollins, Jeff Tweedy, Louis C.K. (eww!), Andy Richter, George Wendt, the Flaming Lips, Andy Samberg, Eddie Vedder, Seth Meyers, Sarah MacLachlan, and Laurie Metcalf.

Special mention needs to be given to Roseanne Barr, who stars in two episodes as Portland’s interim mayor–she is hired from a temp agency. Yes, Barr is an actress, duh, who takes on roles, but Barr’s turn to the right may have been foreshadowed in Portlandia because she attempts to govern Portland pragmatically, in contrast to the loopiness of Mr. Mayor. After all, I believe it was radio talker Dennis Prager who said, “Common sense is conservatism.”  As mayor, Barr suggests having fewer bike lanes, coffee outlets that sell only coffee, movie theaters with more than one screen, not as many stores for dogs, but more big box outlets. In short, she wants Portland to be a practical city.

“I’ve been to a lot of places, but nothing’s like this,” she complains. “Everybody’s just lost in a dream world.”

And finally, I’d like to acknowledge the regular but all but anonymous supporting performers on the program who live in the Portland area, IFC calls them the Citizens of Portlandia. They are the show’s answer to the John Ford Stock Company. These actors, who arrive like old friends, include Henry Cottrell, Kristine Levine, Angel Bouchet, Jedediah Aaker, and Sam Adams, who plays Mr. Mayor’s assistant. He was the real mayor of Portland from 2009-2012.

Season 8 was the only batch of episodes filmed during the Donald Trump presidency and I expected Portlandia to skewer what liberals, and yes, conservatives, see as low-hanging fruit ripe for the plucking. Amazingly, the Portlandia universe remains a Trump-free zone. Although Spyke–remember him?–reforms his old punk band, Riot Spray, fronted by the aforementioned Rollins with Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic playing bass, as a protest gesture against unspecified corruption in government. But he does so after first threatening to Iris to move to Canada.

In a jab at those dozens of celebrities who vowed to move north of the border if Trump won the presidency, Iris replies, “Spyke, no one moves to Canada.”

Seasons 1-7 of Portlandia are available on Netlfix, all of the episodes can be found on Comcast’s On Demand. This program is not for the little ones as there is some brief nudity here and there and some foul language.

John Ruberry, who has never had a chin beard, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

Early in Episode One of Flint Town, an eight-entry Netflix series that debuted this month, we discover a murder victim lying in the snow. And we see snowflakes resting unmelted on his hand–the only warmth he will offer can only come from memories from his loved ones.

Such is life and death in Flint.

Few cities of its size in the United State–probably none–have endured as much devastation as Flint has in the last thirty years. The population of  Flint, which was once Michigan’s second largest city, peaked in 1960 at just under 200,000. But the wide scale exodus began in the 1980s when General Motors–it was founded in Flint–began its rapid downsizing of operations in what is still called “the Vehicle City.”

Now fewer than 100,000 reside in Flint–with 40 percent of them living below the poverty line.

Flint is Detroit’s smaller cousin–sharing most of the same problems. But Flint’s water crisis–lead poisoning spawned by switching the city’s water supply from Detroit’s Lake Huron facilities to that of the Flint River–added a tragic dimension to its suffering.

“It used to be cars were made in Flint, and you couldn’t drink the water in Mexico,” Donald Trump remarks at a campaign appearance shown here. “Now the cars are made in Mexico and you can’t drink the water in Flint.”

Flint Town is a project of directors Zackary Canepari, Drea Cooper, and Jessica Dimmock. It takes a surprising choice of its focus, the under-resourced Flint Police.

“The police officers on the Flint Police Department and underpaid and understaffed, wearing five or six hats, [and] using primitive equipment,” Police Chief Timothy Johnson tells the city council in the final episode. Earlier in the series the dashboard on a Flint police car shows the odometer at 105,000 miles. The man who sits in the cubicle next to mine in my real job, a retired cop from a Chicago suburb about the same size as Flint, says that the cruisers on his force were surplussed at about 50,000 miles.

We see Devon Bernritter, a captain, lament that he was compelled to send three officers on foot patrols because no police cars were available for them. Cops are sent on calls by themselves in Flint in many situations that in other jurisdictions, because of perceived danger, two officers are sent.

Johnson utilizes the same type of resourcefulness that Soviet citizens used when facing problems with inadequate or missing equipment. Volunteers are hired to assist his officers, although unlike everywhere else these aides are armed, including a warm-hearted 65-year-old retiree whose trainer bends over backwards so he pass his marksmanship test. Guns seized in crimes are typically destroyed by most police departments. In Flint they are auctioned off.

Election Day comes to Flint Town. While not ignored, the presidential race–where the white cops favor Trump and the African American ones back Hillary Clinton–takes a back seat to a vote to extend a millage, a property tax, to provide what is of course badly needed funding for law enforcement. In the past those monies were spent, despite promises to voters, elsewhere.

Flint has a well-deserved reputation for corruption and incompetence. The latter point was something not even Michael Moore in his Roger and Me documentary could ignore. While its elections are non-partisan, Democrats dominate Flint politics.

“I always wondered why this city was in the position it was and now I see why, it’s at the top,” Chief Johnson boldly tells the city council in a budget hearing.

Blogger last autumn in Michigan

Yet the rank-and-file Flint cops deeply care about the citizens they are sworn to serve and protect, despite toiling in the atmosphere of the cold-blooding killings in 2016, assassinations really, of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Is the love returned? For the most part, no.

Flint Town is rated TV-MA for graphic violence and foul language. While Netflix is promoting this batch of shows as Season One, there has been no announcement that a second season is coming. I’d like to see another helping.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

I didn’t watch the Oscars this past Sunday. Based on its television ratings, which were the lowest ever for the event, I wasn’t the only one otherwise occupied.

Once upon a time I was a voracious consumer of all things awards show related. Back during the same time period I was an equally voracious consumer of all things media, watching network TV every night, wearing out a path between myself and the local record store to pick up the latest anything, a frequent visitor to nearby cinemas and routinely bringing home the latest VHS tape (yes, I’m old) of recent or recently released movies. These days I find myself increasingly doing none of the above. Especially the VHS part. And get off my lawn.

Despite this profound lack of interest in whatever the entertainment media machine is pushing these days, I do keep casual tabs on the latest and, uh, latest. Before I completely fossilize, it is important to understand what is going on so I can actually converse with people lower than my age bracket. That whole Paul tack about being all things to all people. Or me attempting to stay relevant. Take your pick.

One movie I did see last year was Coco. I have been a devotee of Pixar films since the first Toy Story, and while there has been the occasional misstep (Cars 2 was dreadful, this made all the more disappointing by the first movie being my unquestioned all-time favorite), for the most part Pixar is synonymous with top-notch cinema.

Coco, for those of you who somehow missed it, is set in contemporary Mexico. For its backdrop it draws heavily, with scrupulous accuracy, on Mexican culture, specifically the annual celebration of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). However, Coco uses this not as a focal point, but a springboard to weave an amazing tale of family, truth seeking, and forgiveness. The cultural detailing is flawless, but it is not the story any more than the ofttimes breathtaking animation is the story. Coco is a powerful, universal story. It is not merely one of the best animated films I have ever seen. It is one of the best movies I have seen period. I have not seen any of the movies that were nominated for Best Picture in the now concluded Oscars, but I have great difficulty believing they were all sufficiently better than Coco to where they each deserved nomination more than Pixar’s latest exercise in movie magic.

Much — far too much — has been written and said by all sides in the culture and political battle between Hollywood on the left and conservatives on the right. Once in a while, can we set the online warfare aside and simply watch a movie that uplifts even as it entertains? They do exist. Coco is living proof. We need more of this. No one is denying anyone the right to their opinion. But can we all, at least once in a while, agree that a powerful story well told is something on which we can actually agree?

Sure would be nice.

Synthpop, it was said during its heyday, was progressive rock for keyboardists who couldn’t play. A tad harsh, but during synthpop’s nascent years, the endless stream of electric blips, beeps, and beats was anything but electric for those wishing to have something more than mindless dance rhythms in their music. You know, things like melody and hooks and all that other icky stuff.

Born during the late ‘70s new wave craze, synthpop eventually outgrew its simplistic beginning when artists like Howard Jones started bringing more traditional pop elements — reference earlier comment regarding melody and hooks — into the mix, this arguably de-evolving into today’s autotuned cookie cutter pop poo. However, for a brief flourish during the ‘80s, synthpop was a pleasant mix of pop and still-fresh instrumentation.

Enter Mad At The World. Mad At The World was the brainchild of one Roger Rose, who when not working his day job as a postman in Southern California was working on his music, and his younger brother Randy. Roger and Randy loved synthpop (and still do). Roger and Randy loved Jesus (and still do). Roger and Randy decided the two would work well together. Hence, Mad At The World was born.

Although synthpop was not an entirely unknown quantity in Christian music, at its inception Mad At The World hewed far closer to the more gritty purveyors of same than, say, Crumbächer who were far more pop vocal inclined. During its career Mad At The World made two major music shifts, first going toward heavy guitar rock and then mining a more mainstream rock/pop vein. In the beginning, though, the band was muscular synthpop.

Fast forward to the present day. While Randy has remained musically active — review of his most recent solo effort here — Roger has been out of the spotlight for many years, leaving Mad At The World naught but a fond memory for its fans. Then last year, Randy had an idea. C’mon big brother, let’s record three new albums, each reflecting one of Mad At The World’s musical phases! Roger was game, so after a Kickstarter campaign to raise the necessary funds, recording commenced. The end result is Hope.

Hope makes no pretense of being anything other than what it is, namely a faithful and affectionate ode to synthpop. The instrumentation is relatively sparse; the melodies simple but thoroughly effective. Roger Rose affects a bit of an accent when singing (hey, so does Billie Joe Armstrong), but it works within the artistic context of this album. Lyrically things are mostly straightforward roots evangelical. It’s not deep theological musings, but it is both comforting and encouraging.

When viewed through quality and not nostalgia’s lens, Hope makes a strong case for being Mad At The World’s best synthpop album and easily one of its best period. The brothers Rose have always made very even albums, but this time through the songwriting is kicked up a notch. Hope might appear to be little more than dusting off a bygone era in contemporary music, but it’s not. Rather, it is a solid, brand new testimony to the truism that if it was good yesterday, it’s good today as well. Very, very good.

The record is available here.

As I recall, the saying goes that while I may be old, at least I got to see all the cool bands. I suppose that forty years hence the tender teens of today will be muttering about how current bands are an awful atrocious abomination, next fondly playing their cherished golden oldie Arcade Fire or Paramore tunes. Being the curmudgeonry conservative I am, I fearlessly state that no, it’s not because I’m too old; the Cheez-Wiz preprogrammed preprocessed recipe pablum ear candy slime being passed off as music today really does suck. Prayerfully one day you’ll catch on, kids, demanding your generation start creating authentic music or you’re tossing them aside in favor of the real thing. For the latter, start here.

Although totally unaware of it at the time, disco notwithstanding I was blessed spending my teen years in the 70s, when in order to make music people had to actually sing and play instruments and all that other silly stuff. I was extremely fortunate in that my high school music department was filled with programs and musicians on a collegiate and higher level. I played a small part in the program, singing fairly well in various choirs, playing a decent bass in the school jazz band, and contributing a very mediocre viola in the orchestra. As the soundtrack to our high school years said, two out of three ain’t bad.

I, and my local compatriots, luxuriated in a sea of top-flight local musicians in multiple genres. We were proud of the bands that we were in, and even the bands that we weren’t in. Names totally unknown outside of our little town of Livermore, but to those of us who knew better they were giants.

The past twists and turns and fades in our mind’s theater over the decades; times that at the time seems like the end of the world are now viewed through soft focus and a fond fuzziness. Regrettably, for most of the music and bands we grew up with, recollections are all we have. Hopefully there are a few not totally tattered cassettes out there somewhere that someone will dig up and share with us. But, for the most part, all we have are memories.

One of the local bands we revered back in the day was a progressive rock ensemble named Tykus. Led by the brothers Jim and Roger Liptak, Roger on guitar and Jim, a true keyboard master who was legitimately on the level of a Keith Emerson or Rick Wakeman, Tykus in a just world would have conquered said world. However, as I trust you’ve learned by now the world isn’t just, and they didn’t.

A few days ago, I saw a note by one of the members of one of the bands from back in the day, commenting how he had been gifted with a Tykus CD. It wasn’t for sale; strictly a gift for family and friends.

Uh … TYKUS CD?!!

Must. Have.

Thus, inquiries were made, connections were established, and this past Tuesday Tykus’ bassist graciously gave me a copy of the CD.

As noted, memories can and often do skewer reality. Thus, I was actually hesitant to listen to the CD. Would it live up to all I had been told, and all I remembered, of this mighty band?

The answer was no.

It blew away all memories and expectations as far as the east is from the west.

Tykus wasn’t good. They weren’t great. They were at minimum three levels beyond that. Tykus truly was the equal of progressive rock giants such as Emerson Lake & Palmer, Yes, and Kansas. The compositions, the singing, the playing – all were, and are, utterly brilliant. I can’t stop listening to this CD. I will never stop listening to this CD. It has gained immediate entry to the hall of the greats; the music I will constantly refer to until I’m listening to the heavenly choir. And no, it’s not just nostalgia talking. Tykus was that good.

I pray for today’s teenagers. No, not solely that they get the chance to hear real music in their lifetime made by their peers. I pray that forty years from now their memories of today will be filled with music and the bands, the friends, and the fun times that should permeate the teen years. I pray that the greatest angst they will have to suffer is something similar to what I felt when I couldn’t get a date to the senior prom, not having to dive for cover every time there’s a loud sound fearing it’s a gun and not some joker with a firecracker.

It’s bad enough kids these days don’t get to know real music.

It’s far worse they aren’t able to enjoy without fear what they do have.

Today’s kids deserve the chance to have a Tykus of their own.

A lady was sitting in a traffic jam with her dog, Sherman, in the car with her. Sherman, a beautiful 230 pound English Mastiff, is not just a beloved family pet, he is also a therapy dog who visits people in senior communities, home-bound people, and people with other special needs to help to lift their spirits and brighten their days. Sherman’s people mom, Sherry McAllister, uses her vehicle to take Sherman to his jobs and has her cell phone number posted to the outsides of her car advertising their services. So there are Sherry and Sherman sitting in their ride, not going anywhere or doing anything when her phone rings, and as they say in the clickbait ads, what happened next is amazing…

SunnySkyz:

“We were stuck in a huge traffic jam for about 15 minutes, without moving, when my phone rang. Since we obviously weren’t going anywhere, I answered. On the other end of the phone was a soft-spoken man who introduced himself as, Andy.”

“He explained he was a few cars back from us, and saw Sherman stick his big ol’ head out the window, so he called the number on our decal (we have a huge decal on three sides of the suburban with a picture of Sherman’s head, his name, and our contact number). He told us he had just returned home after a 3+ month stay in a nursing home facility. He was recovering from the most recent of multiple back surgeries.”

“It’s because of this stay in the nursing home and his failing health that he had to rehome his large breed dog. He is, sadly, unable to care for him any longer. This decision clearly broke his heart, as we could hear him choking up as he spoke. He asked if we could meet up sometime, so he could just pet Sherman. Of course, we told him we would love to set a time to meet up with him. He thanked us and we said our goodbyes, with a promise to set something up in the next few days.

As we sat there in traffic, I couldn’t get Andy’s sad voice out of my head. We decided to call him back and ask if he would like to turn off into the Wal-Mart parking lot to say, ‘Hello’ to Sherman real quick. We could hear his voice cracking over the phone when he said, ‘Yes!’.”

So, they met in the nearby parking lot, where Sherry invited Andy to meet Sherman and spend some time with him, which he did, and Sherman immediately went about giving Andy exactly what he needed:

Sherman the Therapy Dog photo from SunnySkyz

MORE at SunnySkyz HERE

Sherman has a Facebook page, HERE.

People can be so miserable sitting in traffic, it is the sort of thing that can bring out some of our worst personality quirks, it’s nice to see something GOOD come out of one! As Jerry Wilson wrote right here at Da Tech Guy Blog just yesterday, sometimes God puts us exactly where we are needed at exactly the right time. I believe this truly in my heart and I think the above story is a fine example of such divine placement (as is Jerry’s story, which you should check out if you haven’t already).

*******

MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

Linus Larrabee: This, this is my home, no wife would ever understand it.
David Larrabee:  Well neither can I You’ve got all the money is the world.
Linus Larrabee:  Well what’s money got to do with it? If making money were all there was to business it hardly be worthwhile going into the office. Money is a byproduct.
David Larrabee:   But what’s the main objective, power?
Linus Larrabee:  Ah, that’s become a dirty word.
David Larrabee:  Well then What’s the urge, you’re going into plastics now, what will that prove?

Sabrina 1954

A while back I was visiting a friend at his employment (he was a golf pro at a country club) when his daughter who was in college at the time, walked in.  I asked her about her major and what she was doing and she answered she was doing economic and already had a part time job at a brokerage, however she said it with some guilt as her classmate derided her job choice, one of the horrible side effects of the current socialist higher education system filled with liberals who decry Western Civilization, Christianity and Capitalism.  Personally I think they were jealous of the money she was already making to pay back student loans, but nevertheless I told her she should be proud of her job, because if she did it well, people who saved money their entire lives would be able to live a comfortable retirement, and if she did it really well people would have money to invest in companies that produce the jobs that feed families.

I must have done a good job explaining it because she immediately lit up and told me that she never thought of that, nobody had ever explained it to her that way before, which means that obviously she had never seen the 1954 movie Sabrina staring Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn and William Holden about a chauffeur’s daughter (Hepburn) who falls in love with the playboy son (Holden) of her father’s employer who doesn’t notice her until she returns from cooking school in Paris just in time to throw a wrench into the plans of his older serious brother (Bogart) who has plans to use his brother upcoming 4th marriage to secure a business deal.

The movie also features both Raymond Bailey and Nancy Culp just under a decade before they would become the comedy team of Mr. Drysdale and Miss Jane on the Beverley Hillbillies, but I digress. Hidden within the 113 minutes about love, life and personal growth is a speech by Bogart’s character Linus Larrabee that perfectly describes what Capitalism is and what it does.  It’s a speech that every college student in America should be required to watch.

For those who don’t have the patience to sit through the full minute here is the key quote.

A new product has been found, something of use to the world, so a new industry moves into an undeveloped area. Factories go up, machines are brought in, a harbor is dug, and you’re in business. It’s purely coincidental of course that people who never saw a dime before suddenly have a dollar, and barefooted kids wear shoes and have their teeth fixed and their faces washed. What’s wrong with the kind of an urge that gives people libraries, hospitals, baseball diamonds and, uh, movies on a Saturday night?

Back in 1954 when this picture was made when the ruins of the 2nd World War were still visible,  25 year olds could remember the great depression, the devastation of flu pandemics, life before electricity, movies, radio, phones and even ravages the Civil War were still in living memory, Americans knew and understood this facts of life explained in this speech and were pleased to gift their children and grandchildren a Pax Americana and a booming building economy to escape these pains.

Alas having been delivered from these horrors the children and grandchildren of those in the west who endured them in the west in general and of America in particular decided they knew better than those who overcame them and instead of embracing the lessons of that generation enrolled in the Kindergarten of Eden where they were taught that peace and prosperity were a birthright and that anything society that didn’t produce their heart’s desire was oppressive and evil.

As Robert Heinlein once wrote:

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

“This is known as ‘bad luck.’”

This “bad luck” is what is affecting the Venezuelan people and it’s origin was the same socialism that the academics teaching our children uniformly cheered when it was implemented and then when this happened…

 As The New York Times reported, “Venezuela was once one of Latin America’s richest countries, flush with oil wealth that attracted immigrants from places as varied as Europe and the Middle East.”

“But after President Hugo Chávez vowed to break the country’s economic elite and redistribute wealth to the poor, the rich and middle class fled to more welcoming countries in droves, creating what demographers describe as Venezuela’s first diaspora.”

Now, in their absence, things have gotten worse, and it’s poorer Venezuelans — the very ones that Chavez’s revolution was allegedly intended to help — who are starving. Many are even taking to boats, echoing, as the Times notes, “an image so symbolic of the perilous journeys to escape Cuba or Haiti — but not oil-rich Venezuela.” 

Well, Venezuela was once rich. But mismanagement and kleptocracy can make any country poor and Venezuela — as is typical with countries whose leaders promise to soak the rich for the benefit of the poor — has had plenty of both. And now, though Hugo Chavez’s family has grown fabulously wealthy, the poor have nothing.

…denied that it was actual socialism.

This is what half of our society has forgotten to our determent as a whole.

Update:  In comments Stephen hands notes ” most rich men are not selfless, celibate vocationers like Bogie’s character but covetous idolaters and warmongers”, however I note that the jobs and economic prospects created by industry are the same regardless of the virtue or lack thereof of the person advancing them.  Of course Milton Friedman said it much better.


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Finally might I suggest my book  Hail Mary the Perfect Protestant (and Catholic) Prayer makes an excellent Gift.

Life is better with dogs. I should know, since I have a whole family of six of them living with me and my husband, kids, and cats! Here are a few tales of heroic dogs to brighten your weekend…

It was 4:30 am when a sleeping couple was awakened by their two dogs recently. The dogs were tugging on them and nudging them and insisting on being taken out, which was not something these dogs typically did in the wee hours. These dogs had something important to show their humans, and thank God that their humans eventually complied! Via SunnySkyz:

Meet Adam and Eva, two labradoodles who are being credited with saving the life of a lost elderly woman.

dogs save woman from freezing to death
Credit: J. Scott Park

The dogs woke their owners up at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday. They continuously tugged on their owner’s sleeve, insisting to be let outside.

“(Adam) never tugged on my clothes before, so I was a cautious about letting them out because I didn’t know if there was anything out there,” Lonnie Chester said.

Before Lonnie could open the door all the way, Adam and Eva squeezed past and bolted to his truck outside. Next to it was an elderly woman in her late 80s on the ground, freezing with nothing on but a night gown.

dogs save woman from freezing to death
Credit: J. Scott Park

“She looked up at me and said, ‘I’m so cold,'” Lonnie said. “I have no idea how long she had been out there. She must have been terrified.”

The temperature around the time was about 9 degrees in Norvell Township, Michigan.

Shortly after rescue crews arrived, the woman’s family came to the house and asked if they had found their lost loved one. The family was looking for her but did not see her as she was lying in the snow in the near total darkness.

The rest of the story and see related video HERE

Talk about courage under fire! Meet Chips the Husky/Shepard Mix who has been posthumously awarded for his extraordinary bravery in World War II:

NY Post

He was a very good boy.

A hero US Army dog who ran nose-first into a machine gun fire in World War II and took out a shooter by the throat was recognized with Britain’s highest honor for animal bravery Monday.

Westchester County pooch Chips, a German shepherd-husky cross, was awarded the Dickin Medal for his courageous actions during the appropriately titled Operation Husky.

“It has taken over seven decades, but Chips can now finally take his place in the history books as one of the most heroic dogs to serve with the US Army,” said Jan McLoughlin, director general of the the UK’s People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, which created the award in 1943.

Chips was just a regular family pet living with the Wren family in Pleasantville when the Army asked civilians to donate their dogs to the war effort. Some 40,000 patriotic pooches were signed up, but only 10,000 made the cut — including Chips.

Upon landing at the beach in Sicily in 1943, Chips’ platoon immediately came under fire — and the courageous canine broke free of his leash and ran into an enemy machine-gun nest.

“There was an awful lot of noise and the firing stopped. Then I saw one soldier come out of the door with Chips at his throat. I called him off before he could kill the man,” his handler, Pvt. John Rowell, later recalled — adding that three other Italian soldiers then emerged with their hands over their heads.

He suffered some injuries in the melee, but sniffed out another 10 enemy combatants later that day — leading to their surrender, according to the Washington Post.

Chips survived his three and a half years in the war, and was able to return home to Pleasantville to live out his days as a war hero.

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and Purple Heart for his efforts, but they were later rescinded because they’re not actually meant for dogs. MORE HERE

I had a hero dog, her name was Maggie and she was a Golden Retriever who had been abused before animal rescuers saved her and put her up for adoption and she was brought home by my dad. Maggie was here with me seventeen years ago today when my father died. They are both on my mind today. Maggie always had a sadness about her after we lost my dad, but she was the sweetest friend you could ever hope for. A few years after my dad died, while I was very pregnant with my first child, I had somehow ended up asleep on my back and I developed a bad nosebleed (I had a lot of nosebleeds during that pregnancy, but if I was awake it wasn’t a big deal). I only became aware of it because Maggie kept nudging me and licking me until I woke up, choking on blood. I believe Maggie knew something was wrong and I think she spared my baby and I from what could have become a dangerous situation! After my daughter was born, Maggie always stood guard over her bassinet in my room, and did the same when my son was born a few years later. She was a gentle companion for my young children and one of the best friends I ever had. She died some years ago of old age, but she lives forever in the hearts of everyone who knew her.

I have had a lot of special dogs over the years, including my dog Oreo, who once got between me and a neighbor’s vicious dog who had gotten out and came after me. That other dog was twice Oreo’s size but my dog got all up in that other dog’s face barking his “big dog” bark until the other dog finally forgot about wanting to get me, backed off, and went back home. Oreo also once stared down a humongous coywolf who was in a neighbor’s yard while I was out walking him. Again, Oreo put himself in front of me and between myself and something that maybe could have hurt me. Oreo is not exactly a smart dog; he often gets into all kinds of ridiculous mischief, but my memories of his bravery will almost always get him out of trouble for whatever he has just chewed up or peed on.

Thank God for dogs! If you have a special dog story you want to share, I would love to read it below in the comments section!

Oreo, my brave dog

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals.