By John Ruberry

A couple of weeks back I completed my latest television binge-watching quest, in this case it was the neo-western Longmire.

Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) is the Rainier Beer-drinking, unshaved sheriff in the fictional county of Absaroka in Wyoming. He’s a widower putting his life and career back together after the recent death of his wife. It’s easy to imagine Gary Cooper paying this role. His deputies are the loyal Victoria “Vic” Moretti (Katee Sackhoff), Jim “the Ferg” Ferguson (Adam Bartley), and not-so-loyal Branch Connally (Bailey Chase), who runs against Longmire for sheriff.

The series is based on the Walt Longmire mystery books by Craig Johnson.

Originally an A&E show, the network, despite high ratings for the show, cancelled it after the third season. Netflix picked it up, airing the next two editions. It has been renewed for a sixth and final season. The books are set in Buffalo, which is coincidentally in Johnson County, Wyoming. In the show Durant is the county seat of Absaroka. So assuming that Johnson is Absaroka, that would give Longmire’s county 8,500 residents. And since, especially in the first four seasons, there is a murder in almost every episode, that could give this rural county a homicide rate higher than that of Chicago, perhaps, yes, even higher than the small Maine town where the television series Murder, She Wrote, was set. Recurring Longmire character Louis Herthum, has experience with this scenario, as he played a cop in Murder She, Wrote.

Also in Absaroka is a Cheyenne Indian reservation, which isn’t in Walt’s jurisdiction. But just as Captain Kirk was never supposed to violate the Prime Directive in Star Trek, circumstances often force Longmire to pursue police work on “the rez,” which for the most part annoys Mathias (Zahn McClarnon), a Bureau of Indian Affairs police chief. His predecessor, Malachi Strand (Graham Greene), was jailed after Longmire busted him for extortion.

By the third season the murder-a-week package is less relied upon as the events surrounding the death of Longmire’s wife, the release of Strand from prison, the building of a Cheyenne casino, and development projects in Absaroka driven by Deputy Connally’s father, Barlow (Gerald McRaney), collide with Walt and his best friend, Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips), the owner a local bar and restaurant. A Native American Longmire regularly tangles with is casino operator Jacob Nighthorse (A Martinez). Also captured in this web is Longmire’s daughter, Cady (Cassidy Freeman), an attorney who is more like her father than either character realizes, as she also discovers that doing the right thing is often an insurmountable challenge in an flawed world.

John “Lee” Ruberry of the
Magnificent Seven

I thoroughly enjoy Longmire and I’m eagerly awaiting season six, as season five concluded with things in a very complicated state. As a western, the cinematography is of course superb, although the show is filmed in New Mexico, not Wyoming. Starting of course with the lead character, the acting is superb, and the story lines generally contain much depth. Although I am curious why Phillips’ Standing Bear character, like those in True Grit, particularly in the Coen Brothers remake, never uses contractions in his speech.

If you prefer westerns that aren’t “neo,” I still recommend that you give Longmire a look. Just imagine cowboy Walt riding a horse instead of driving a Ford Bronco, and replace moonshine with narcotics. And after all of these years there is still conflict between whites and Indians. And vigilantism is also a welcome plot development in any western.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

jonathan-strange-and-mr-norrellBy John Ruberry

It’s time to take a break from politics.

Many times while surfing on Netflix I came across a recommendation to watch the seven-part 2015 BBC One miniseries, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which is described as such: “In 1806 ambitious magician Norrell leads a revival of practical magic in England and ignites a fierce rivalry with bold young conjurer Strange.” If that sounds like a dopey show, well, that’s what I thought too. But I yielded to the luring and tuned in. I’m grateful that I did.

Magic in the alternative universe of Strange and Norrell is not smoke-and-mirrors and rabbits being pulled from hats, it’s a neglected scientific discipline that for unexplained reasons was abandoned in England in the early 16th century. But Gilbert Norrell (Eddie Marsan), a magician from York, becomes a national sensation when he brings to life the statues of  York Minster Cathedral and, in his only use of dark magic, brings back from death the future wife of a prominent member of parliament, Lady Pole (Alice Englert).

But just as in another alternative universe where humans can sell their soul to the devil, the dark side, in this case a mysterious being known as the Gentleman (Marc Warren), sabotages the transaction and establishes Norrell’s second rivalry.

Norrell offers his services to fight the French and their allies in the Napoleonic Wars, although only Jonathan Strange (Bertie Carvel) directly utilizes magic at the side of the Duke of Wellington (Ronan Vibert), who is initially skeptical of him. Included in the broad historical sweep of Strange and Norrell is the blind and mad King George III, and although not by name, the anti-industrial Luddites.

The rest of the cast is wonderful, particularly Ariyon Bakare as a mysterious butler and Vincent Franklin as the duplicitous promoter of Norrell and Strange. The special effects, with the exception of the ravens in the last two installments, are first rate.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a welcome diversion from the usual, and it’s a particularly good series for binge-watching.

Besides Netflix, the mini-series is available on many on-demand systems and on DVD.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT —  This post will be free from any commentary regarding last night’s debate or any discussion of the current state of the American presidential race.  You’re welcome.

If you haven’t watched Marc Levin’s documentary, Class Divide, now running on HBO, you should. It is beautifully and poignantly done.

The documentary explores gentrification in New York’s Chelsea area and the educational divide that exists between the luxury “world school” Avenues, and the schools available to the kids in the housing project right across the street from Avenues.  But there’s more there: the documentary shows how community activists banded together to save “the High Line” – an abandoned elevated rail track, and turn it into an elevated park and track that runs through the neighborhood. The documentary shows how hope can survive in people in even the worst circumstances. And it shows the promise and innocence of youth.

This subject is very personal to me as I teach in a high-poverty school; we aren’t in as big a city as New York, but poverty is poverty wherever you are and these kids face the same problems.  Further, there is a gentrification project (on a smaller scale) underway in my school’s neighborhood.  My students are seeing houses torn down, houses loaded on trucks and hauled out, and expensive businesses and housing brought in – far outside their reach.

Kids coming from high poverty areas face learning challenges that upper socio-economic kids don’t face. These students live so “in the moment,” as they wonder if the electricity will be on when they get home, will there be food there, will there be an adult home?  They carry their important possessions with them in their backpacks to school because either they feel like they have to for safety, or because they don’t know where they’ll be sleeping that night.

How are kids like this supposed to concentrate on algebraic equations?

So, I understand kids in poverty and the educational challenges that presents.

Class Divide artfully explores this issue and ultimately what we see is that money can’t buy happiness (trite, but true):

The main thrust of “Class Divide,” is to look inside these two very different worlds namely, Avenues: The World School, and the Elliot-Chelsea public housing projects, as seen through the eyes of the kids (“Sheila Nevins idea”) and see how it feels to them. In the film, we go inside Chris Whittle’s remarkable private school, Avenues: The World School. We see what a privilege it is to be a student there (pre-K to 12th grade tuition is $40,000 per student) and meet some of the kids who attend the school. However elite, The World School is to be admired for its mission to produce students who will flourish and compete globally (every child takes classes in Mandarin or Spanish). We meet Yasmin, a curious, empathetic young female who wants to create a bridge of understanding with her 115 Step Project (the amount of steps between her school and the public housing). We meet Luc, a sensitive, caring young male, who, tragically, takes on the economic divide tipping in his favor, as a painful weight to bear.

The heart of the documentary rests in 8-year old Rosa who lives in the projects and sees the shiny new school through the bars on her windows. She’s smart as a whip and her potential is unlimited, yet a school like Avenues is far outside her reach.

The documentary makes you think hard about the American education system.  It makes you think carefully about values, too.

If you get the chance, be sure to watch it; it’s currently running on HBO and HBOGo.

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

p12079367_b_v9_acBy John Ruberry

Without the phenomenal box office success of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, HBO’s Game of Thrones series may not have ever launched. And without GoT’s ongoing critical and audience raves, The Last Kingdom would almost certainly never have been giving the green light by the BBC.

I just finished binge-watching the first season of The Last Kingdom, which like Game of Thrones is a television version of a series of books, in this case Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Stories. I might not have ever heard of the BBC series had not the ninth season of the Doctor Who reboot had been bombarded with Last Kingdom trailers. I guess that’s the point of promos.

Season two of The Last Kingdom is currently in production.

So how is it? Well, in a few words, LK is pretty good. After all, I kept watching, didn’t I?

Here’s how the series is set up–with spoilers for the most part that cover only the first half of the first episode:

The action begins in the late ninth century as Danish invaders–the word “vikings” is never used–have transformed themselves from coastal raiders into a disciplined army who have conquered each English kingdom save Wessex. The lead character is Uhtred of Bebbanburg (Alexander Dreymon), the son of a Northumberland noblemen who as a child witnesses his father fall in a battle against the invaders. After he humorously attacks a Dane, Uhtred is taken as a slave. Losing his Christian faith, Uhtred the Godless, much in the matter of white characters captured by Indians in Old West movies, seems unsure of his loyalties, but he’s determined to reclaim his family castle from his duplicitous uncle.

An adult Uhtred, after his Danish family is killed by other Danes, makes his way to Wessex where he pledges loyalty to King Alfred and joins the Saxon cause.

Attractive in a Jon Snow sort of way, Uhtred doesn’t have a vow of chastity to hamper his romantic pursuits.

Religion greatly drives the plot, The priest who baptizes the young Uhtred–twice–has also made his way to Wessex, where he serves as a counselor to Alfred. Refreshingly, the Christians in The Last Kingdom are pious, but not portrayed as foolishly pious. The only religious character treated with disdain is a Danish sorcerer.

Alfred (David Dawson), the devout king, doesn’t let his sickliness damper his resolve to save his realm and drive the Danes out of England.

Besides Alfred, other historical characters who appear in The Last Kingdom are the Danish chieftains Ubba and Guthrum, Saxons Odda the Elder, King Edmund of East Anglia, Alfred’s nephew Aethelwold, and Welsh monk Asser, the biographer of the Wessex ruler. A glaring oversight is the omission of Ivor the Boneless, the Dane whose name still perplexes historians. Ivor was the half-brother of Ubba.

The show plays homage to the legend that Alfred, asked by a woman to keep an eye on loaves of bread being baked, allows them to burn as his mind wanders to pressing matters of kingship.

The cinematography is superb although the filming of the series in Hungary, rather than England, might be the catalyst of one of LK’s noticeable shortcomings, cheap-looking wardrobes and crowns that appear to be plastic. If the series was shot in Britain, or even Northern Ireland where some of Game of Thrones is filmed, I’m sure the costume department of The Last Kingdom could have scrounged up more convincing crowns some better period clothes from a regional Shakespeare company.

John "Lee" Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven
John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

If you are looking for one more Game of Thrones comparison, then I won’t let you down. While gratuitous nudity is absent from The Last Kingdom, the brief glimpses of bare flesh amid the armor and swords appear forced as if someone is screaming at the directors, “We need naked bums for better ratings!”

I’ll be back for season two, hoping for more. (More meaning better shows, not bare buttocks.) After all, the Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood didn’t hit its stride until season two and it didn’t achieve consistent greatness until The Children of Earth in season three.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit
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By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT —  Anyone watch the season premiere of True Detective last night?

Let me just say at the outset that I’m very biased.  I loved every moment of Season 1, so before the opening credits last night, I knew that Season 2 would never match up.  That being said, I also went into the opening episode knowing that Nic Pizzolatto is trying to do something a little different with this season.  Key for me is his Vanity Fair interview in Rich Cohen attempts to explain the separation yet sameness between the two seasons (italics mine):

Early in the history of film, when the big-time writers of the day, Fitzgerald most famously, were offered a role in the movies, they decided to write for the cash, forswearing deeper participation in a medium they considered second-rate. Perhaps as a result of this decision, the author came to be the forgotten figure in Hollywood, well paid but disregarded. …This situation began to change with the emergence of a new kind of television show and a new kind of auteur—a writer who takes on the role of the big-time director, involved in every aspect, from casting to editing. … Pizzolatto is now attempting to take the next evolutionary step. …Credit and power are shared. But by tossing out that first season and beginning again, Nic has a chance to finally undo the early error of Fitzgerald and the rest. If he fails and the show tanks, he’ll be just another writer with one great big freakish hit. But if he succeeds, he will have generated a model in which the stars and the stories come and go but the writer remains as guru and king.

I get that – the writer is the important figure here.  Okay.

I hope it works.

Given that, I know it’s wrong to compare the two seasons, but how can you not?  Season 1 was dynamite – yes, it was the chemistry of Matthew McConaughey and Wood Harrelson, but it was also the deeply symbolic and literary writing, it was also the magic of Cary Fukunaga, the cinematography and the soundtrack.  Season 1 was the green Louisiana swamps, the weird people (I’m from Louisiana, I can say that) and The King in Yellow.

It was magic.  At the end of the first episode of Season 1, that moment when Rust Cohle sits back, flicks his cigarette, and tells the detectives, “Start asking the right f****ing questions,” and the credits came up.  You wanted more and you wanted it right then. That rush that was, “Oh yes, this is about to get good!”

Which brings me to last night’s premiere.  There was no rush of excitement.  No dying for more.  If I didn’t turn the series back on next Sunday, I probably wouldn’t care.  There is nothing redeeming about any of these new characters.  They are beyond damaged.  Many reviewers today are saying they are corrupt.  They probably are, but they are also boring.  I don’t care about them and I don’t like them.

Is that Pizzolatto’s point?  Is that what he wants us to feel today?  Everything is disjointed?  If so, he achieved that.

The basic story, as I see it right now anyway, is that Colin Farrell’s Ray Velcoro is violent and angry, Vince Vaughn’s character is shady and damaged, Rachel McAdams as Ani has anger issues, daddy issues, and sexual issues, and Taylor Kitsch as an Iraq war vet is suicidal and damaged.  Most of them drink too much – and I’m not talking about just a six pack of Lone Star here, some of them are violent, and none of them have any redeeming qualities.  There is a lucrative land deal with guaranteed federal funding attached that just got jacked up with the murder of the city manager, who in a scene out of Weekend at Bernie’s – is hauled around in a car throughout the entire episode and found in the end in his Sperrys, Bermuda shorts, and sunglasses, sitting in the dark along the roadside, facing the ocean, quite dead.  His eyes have been burned out and no telling what else with all of the other deviant sexual perversion in this episode.

It was at this point that Nic Pizzolatto finally brings his lead characters together, but by then I no longer cared.  Much.

As episode 1 closed last night, and the soundtrack swelled, the first line in T-Bone Burnett’s lyric was “California is a brand new game.”  No kidding; it sure is.

Of course I’ll stick with the series – the brilliance of Season 1 has earned that much from me, anyway.  And I have (some) faith in Nic; I think he might be able to bring this around.

We will see.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

In the hands of a skillful indoctrinator, the average student not only thinks what the indoctrinator wants him to think . . . but is altogether positive that he has arrived at his position by independent intellectual exertion. This man is outraged by the suggestion that he is the flesh-and-blood tribute to the success of his indoctrinators.

William F. Buckley Jr., Up From Liberalism (1959)

Martin Rittenhome: Young man I sell over $14 million dollars a year worth of Geritol, Geritol, that’s the kind of businessman I am. That show twenty-one, cost me 3 1/2 million dollars year in and year out. Sales went up 50% when Van Doren was on. 50%! So the very idea that I was unaware of every detail or aspect of that show’s operation, well frankly it’s very insulting.

Quiz show 1994

British Tommy:  Takes time, it do. But you’ll get the hang of it.

Sgt York 1941

With my oldest moving home I recently upgraded internet package to get more speed. Part of the upgrade included something called Streampix which comes with a selection of movies and TV which includes The Good Wife, the popular CBS Sunday night show that my wife enjoys that I’ve been watching with her lately.Every episode is available on StreamPix so I as I came to the series late I took the liberty of watching it from the beginning.

It’s been an experience not only because it caught me up on a series that has a fair amount of reoccurring characters and motivations that are carried over from previous seasons (there was a time in TV when that was rare, now it’s almost mandatory)  but because the liberal spin was just so pervasive.

A lot of it was subtle, for examples a surrogate wanting to make the choice to keep the child (supporting “choice” by having a child the opposite of the reality of the “pro-choice” mantras.  Other bits less so the use of Religion as a phony thing in a campaign foiled by the St. Alicia decides to embrace her atheism in public.  The evils of big pharma, the NSA, Obamacare, the GOP candidate for Governor as the consummate liar.

And the deal isn’t just to influence the public to liberal causes or inclinations as right.  On occasion the show nudges the left slightly away on issues that might hurt them.

A character Kurt McVeigh was introduced (Gary Cole) , a ballistics expert, with strong pro-gun views conservative views.  Uber liberal Dianne Lockheart (Christine Baranski) slowly falls for him culminating in their marriage this season. She is seen shooting guns and her liberal friends are intolerant of him. It’s a good piece of writing but it makes the play to the left that perhaps we have to go easier on those gun nuts.

Oddly enough moves against the 2nd Amendment have been politically costly for the left as evidenced by the successful recalls in Colorado which I’m sure had nothing to do with the decision suddenly push the idea of getting along over guns.

It doesn’t take long for a political type to see each message carefully packaged to paint a the picture the left wants painted and it’s no coincidence that some high powered leftists have appeared as themselves on the show.

Before I go further let’s  make something clear, propaganda aside the writing here is all first rate.  The plots are powerful and subplots hold you (The best being Kalinda & her ex played magnificently by Archie Punjabi & Marc Warren).

And the acting is even better.  The leads are all played well,  of note is Chris Noth who may be an ass concerning the Tea Party but makes a spectacular Peter Florick (Why is he listed as a “special guest star” when he’s in almost every episode?).  The Supporting cast is strong particularly Alan Cumming as Eli Gold, Mary Beth Peil as Jackie Florick and the vastly underrated Zack Grenier as David Lee the lawyer we all love to hate.  Finally the reoccurring characters (Nathan Lane as Clarke Hayden , Jerry Adler as Howard Lyman and Carrie Preston who’s Elizabeth Tascioni who might be able to carry a series of her own) are so well acted that it’s no wonder the show has won awards from the Casting Society of America 3 of the last 4 years. These actors, writers et/al have earned every single accolade they’ve received…

….and that’s precisely why the propaganda is so effective, you are so taken in by all that you are seeing and characters you care about, or hate or wonder about or laugh at that the liberal cultural message is almost subliminal.  If you want to know why conservatives lose the low information voter, this is it.

Until we decide to take this fight to the left, with shows and magazines to match  we will always be playing defense.

Yesterday at 9 PM two giants of TV from the 70’s & 80’s went up head to head. Michael J. Fox went up against Robin Williams head to head as their two new series premiered on opposite ends of the Television dial.

The victory went to Robin Williams as The Crazy Ones 4.0 rating was almost double of The Michael J. Fox’s respectable but comparatively unimpressive 2.1.

Ironically the tactic that was used to bring Robin Williams a victory was employed 35 years prior using his old show to prevent another classic series from establishing itself as a rival. Gilligan’s Island.

While the classic 60’s sitcom running on MeTV Monday-Thursday from 8-9 PM EST remains popular people who have not read Sherwood Schwartz’s book Inside Gilligan’s Island might not be aware that Gillian’s Island nearly returned as a TV series in 1979.

After three successful years where it won three different time slots in three years Gillian’s Island was unexpectedly cancelled in order to give the spot to the ailing series Gunsmoke in the hopes of reviving it (it worked) leaving its popular audience base wondering if they missed an episode when they were rescued. Schwartz after shopping the idea of the TV movie Rescue from Gilligan’s Island for years and being rejected high, low and in-between finally convinced NBC to give it a shot. The TV movie socked everyone pulling a 52 share and dominating the ratings as the castaways were rescued and thanks to Gilligan’s ineptitude re-shipwrecked again on the very same Island.

After the phenomenal success of Rescue From Gilligan’s Island the companies that balked at backing it were falling over themselves with offers to Schwartz for a revival series.

Despite the offers. Schwartz was hesitant to agree citing the physical demands of a series on the 15 year older cast, and how such a series might affect the highly profitable and popular syndication of the old series and finally if the joke might get old after all those years. He proposed a compromise that he had intended with the base series in case the ratings started to drop.

The plan was for the castaways to be rescued again and the Howells build a resort on the Island for people who want to get away from technology & the world with the rest of the (former) castaways as partners. This way guest stars could carry part of the load while keeping the story fresh.

There was resistance to the idea and a compromise was made. Another movie The Castaways on Gilligan’s Island was made based on Schwartz’s idea. The cast and publicity was all set the movie filmed and publicity set to promote it and the series that would follow when NBC unexpectedly moved broadcast 11 days AHEAD of the schedule despite all the publicity for the old date, even TV Guide couldn’t be changed in time.

Seemingly the move was made to counter the CBS movie Ike a highly promoted film about the ex president at a time when there was a lot of living memory & interest in him.  With an 8:30 start time, it’s likely the idea was to have people already watching Gilligan a half hour before Ike could get off the ground and they would stick with Gilligan right through the end.

Unfortunately for the network & Gilligan was prepared.   The normal Thursday night lineup for ABC was Robin Williams Mork & Mindy one of the most popular series on Television followed by Benson.   Rather than risk losing part of the Mork audience to Gilligan ABC scheduled back to back episodes of Mork & Mindy.  Not only did that solid lead in protect Ike but despite the best efforts of the Gilligan & Co which managed to more than double the ratings of their 8 PM lead, their 26 share while respectable was no 52.

Suddenly the money that people were rushing to throw at Schwartz dried up and Gilligan was reduced to one final TV movie special The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island two years later and a short-lived cartoon series Gilligan’s Planet.

Apparently CBS knows it’s TV history because rather than risk the lead from their new series the Millers, they put that off a week and started The Big Bang Theory’s 7th season with their first two episodes back to back.

In addition to absolutely crushing ABC’s Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D (which they might have hoped would take some of the comic book geek audience away from Sheldon & Company Big Bang gave 5.8 lead-in spotting Robin Williams 19+ million viewers already tuned in.

The Crazy ones only kept 15 1/2 of that 19+ Million but that was still more than double of any other network show that night except for Big Bang.

It was a VERY funny show and Robin Williams still has it all except for money after two divorces which is why he did the series.  His sad loss will have the side effect of a lot of laughs for a lot of people (Kelly Clarkson cracking up at the end credits was worth it alone).  But he didn’t get those rating alone.

But while I’m sure Williams & Geller will earn plenty of ratings on their own they should tip his hat to CBS execs who were smart enough to help make sure plenty of new eyes see the old dog’s new trick.

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Olimometer 2.52

I’ve been much luckier than Robin Williams in marriage but i’m still $56 shy of this week’s paycheck with no daily series in site.

The only people who can change this is YOU, by hitting DaTipjar below.

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It’s no secret at this blog that I have been watching Morning Joe for years.

For years it’s been an entertaining & informative show. Joe & Mika are one of the best pairings I’ve ever seen on television in such a format. Willie Geist works very well. Barnicle is from my home town and all of them are extremely gracious in person.

They never forget the viewers. At public events I’ve seen them give of their time to and never treat themselves as above the people who spare a part of their weekday mornings with them.

This core makes the show and it makes the people around them better. You get a real sense that you could enjoy a meal & conversation with these people.

Their willingness to be open about opinions is also important, I’d trust Mika for example over many of the MSM simply because she doesn’t pretend her opinion is coming from anyplace other than where it is.

But there is a more mercenary / practical reason why I tend to watch.

As a 6 AM Morning Joe they are pretty much the best source of the left’s daily talking points. If I want to see where the left will be going during the day, and if I want to see the arguments I’ll have to consider or rebut (depending on their quality) Morning Joe provides it.

Unfortunately lately this has been less and less of the case.

Since December it’s become guns, guns, guns, guns. There might have been a day when gun control has not be a topic on Morning Joe since Newtown, if so I don’t remember it.

Now it could be possible that this HAS been the entire daily talking point of the left. Given that nothing else is working for the White House it might be the line of attack for the left for 2014, but what is the point of waiting to see the left’s argument if it’s the same argument every single day that I can recite backwards.

At the end of each show they ask: “What, if anything, have we learned today. Increasingly the answer to that question has been: Not a damn thing.

And if I’m not being informed, then why invest hours of my time that I’ll never get back?

I’m not going to give them forever to figure that out.

On Tuesday’s when I’m not with I hang out with the same group of guys that I’ve been hanging with for 20 to thirty years playing Board Games from Avalon Hill, Eagle Games and more.

Because the host sings we used to have American Idol or some singing show on. I never cared for it and it was always a pain, but lately the dial has gone to the Food Network (our host was also a chef once) and I was introduced to Chopped.

This has to be the most creative show I’ve seen on TV and is an incredible distraction when we play.

The concept for those who do not know is this. You have four Chefs and three judges all high level chefs.

There are three rounds Appetizer, entree and Dessert the contestants are given opaque baskets of ingredients. When the round starts they open them for the first time and have a fixed time (Usually 20 appetizer, 30 entree and 20 dessert but it can vary per show) You must use every ingredient you are given and have four plates set at the end.

Each Round one person is “Chopped” and eliminated. In the final round the two remaining contestants are judged on the full meal. Meals are judges on taste, presentation and creativity.

It is one of the most creative shows on television and some of the ingredients used are so weird that you are amazed at what gets cooked. In fact there was a single episode where all the ingredients were Leftovers.

This is a political blog but when it comes down to it, all politics and nothing else can get old, plus everybody’s gotta eat.

And it’s a fun show, gotta love fun.

And it beats American Idol every time.

Sherlock Holmes: People have died.

Jim Moriarty: [shouting] That’s what people do!

Sherlock The Great Game 2010

Jim Moriarty: STAYING ALIVE!!! SO BORING, ISN’T IT??!! Just staying…all my life I’ve been looking for distraction. You were the best of distraction and now I don’t even have you. Because I’ve beaten you. And you know what? In the end, it was easy. Yeah…t’was easy…now I have to go back to play with the ordinary people.

Sherlock The Reichenbach Fall 2012

A few days ago I got an e-mail from Joy McCann about a new blog she had called Tea Cozy Mysteries and the current post is on the plethora of new Sherlock Holmes series/movies out there, the best of which is the BBC’s Sherlock that I quote above.

Today Cynthia Yockey argues against gun free zones and their danger and makes a point that needs making

Most mass murderers include suicide in their attack plan. This fact is extremely useful in preventing mass murders and reducing the death toll of those that occur. Why? Because we need to accelerate the killer’s scenario for the circumstances in which he has planned to kill himself. Isn’t that always when the armed responders have arrived and he’s cornered? That’s why we need plenty of civilians in schools, universities, churches, theaters and shopping malls who have concealed carry permits, weapons and the skill to use them. The sooner there’s return fire, the sooner the suicide is triggered and the killing stops. In addition, I predict that there will be a tipping point when there are enough people with guns and concealed carry permits that would-be mass murderers won’t like their odds and will give up on their plans.

This is a powerful argument for my school protection plan but it raises an important point.

People have talked a lot about the various psychological roots of killers such as the one in Ct. When these events occur the question is asked over and over again: What was in their mind? What drove them? What did they have inside them that took them over the edge? What made them so bored, so in need of distraction so void of purpose that they see no point in “Saying Alive” or any moral imperative in not ending the lives of others?

Strangely enough I find the answer to this question in…MeTV

About two years ago MeTV. Memorable Entertainment Television joined the ranks of the hundreds of TV networks out there. Locally there is a Boston and a New Hampshire version in my cable package and they show a vast collection of shows from the 50 thru the 80.

I’ve been looking at the shows from the 50’s and early 60’s such as Daniel Boone, Donna Reed, Gunsmoke, the Big Valley, The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, The Rifleman, Star Trek and Hogan’s Heroes.

Television was still fairly young and these programs influenced the culture if you don’t believe it ask Russell Johnson how many time he was told by people their move toward science started with the Professor, how many people thought of space sciences after seeing Mr. Scott or how many young people today see NCIS and think Law enforcement & forensics or the Big Bang Theory and think Physics & science.

But there were other values reinforced, honor, the virtue of hard work, perseverance, respect particularly for women and the role of faith in life.

In short they reinforced a moral base, the Judeo-Christian Cultural moral base and the values it advanced.

Now two generations later after that most narcissistic generation, the baby boomers banished the values of their parents from schools and TV and our popular culture by people like the Metal Group Lamb Of God, whose lyrical themes are described in Wikipedia: They frequently use biblical references, but often convey anti-religious sentiment was shocked SHOCKED by their absense:

a disturbing number of concertgoers made noise, talked and generally disrupted the otherwise peaceful moment.

That moment being a requested moment of silence for the dead in Newtown

I am so disgusted right now- if you were one of those who wouldn’t shut up for SIXTY LOUSY SECONDS to honor twenty MURDERED CHILDREN- go look in the mirror. You are looking at a piece of sh**.

Your parents are obviously pieces of sh** too, because they raised you to behave with no dignity.

Dignity? Dignity is defined by culture, the culture of dignity has been rejected by many like yourself and replaced by the one where mainline online magazines defend sex with Donkeys.

The truth is very simple, one of the things that Christianity and the Judeo Christian Culture provides is a society that has positive values. That individuals and institutions haven’t always lived up to those values doesn’t make the values any less valid than a corrupt cop means the police should be disbanded.

For the last 50 years our media, our pop culture and those celebrated by both have told us over and over again how the Judeo-Christian culture that was once the norm has led to oppression and held people back. Those who have for generations urged and promoted its abandonment for the sake of narcissism now are shocked that young people with no center, no faith and no culture that reinforced those positive values are so anxious to kill themselves either on their own or via suicide by notoriety?

People are talking about how first person shooters may have an influence on people, violent lyrics, suicide wishes, misogynistic rap, and more has on the culture today. Obviously if these things alone were the root cause of this type of stuff we would have more shootings then we do, but for some who are weak or disturbed or in despair Judeo-christian values provided a cultural firewall that can help restrain those who need restraining, even if you don’t buy the underlying religion behind it.

Marx once said that religion was the opiate of the masses, even if you don’t believe in religion in general or Christianity in particular I think a stronger dose of this opiate might have done some real good here.

I think Cynthia Yockey’s point above is very valid, but wouldn’t it be nice if it wasn’t? Wouldn’t it be better if we had a culture where the very thought of suicide among youth, let alone suicide coupled with mass murder wasn’t even on the table?

I submit and suggest that the return of those values represent a greater horror to those baby boomers leading our culture, crying for the disarmament of all but their bodyguards, than the shootings in Newtown ever will.

They will accept gladly inflict a new generation of Moriarty wannabes than admit their parents were right.