Go see Dune, and see it in the theater

Since the “2 weeks to stop the spread” back in March of 2020, I haven’t been inside a theater. Hollywood hasn’t exactly made me excited to go back either. Ooo, I can watch a mediocre Marvel film aimed at Chinese audiences? Or a homosexual adaptation of some previously great character? Or a film that will repeat “The Narrative?” My view on new Hollywood movies was pretty aligned with one of my favorite YouTube film critics, The Critical Drinker.

But then, the Dune trailer came out. And man, it looked cool. I had heard a lot about Dune, and I knew that it was probably one of the most influential science fiction novel series of all times, but I had never watched the movie (or TV mini-series). Since I had an extra Audible credit, I grabbed the predecessor book “The Butlerian Jihad,” a book written by Frank Herbet’s son Brian and Kevin J Anderson, who has written tons of science fiction books, including some in the Star Wars expanding universe (back before Star Wars was acquired by Disney).

Excited by the trailer, and even more so as I read through the books, I saw Dune last night with a group of friends in our local theater.

And it was awesome!

First, it was a movie that took itself seriously. The acting is great. The scenes are beautifully shot. The editing is really good, and there aren’t long moments of dead space for you to be bored.

Second, no woke BS. We have a diverse array of actors because that’s what the books had! The desert people of the planet Arrakis look, feel and act like people living in a desert. I immediately had Iraq/Afghanistan insurgency vibes when I saw them, and as people trying to fight off the control of the Emperor, that’s exactly what we’re supposed to feel. Female characters feel the same way. They aren’t made out to be super strong, take on everything without emotion monstrosities like Captain Marvel. Instead, we get an outstanding performance from Rebecca Ferguson (who plays Lady Jessica Atreides) that doesn’t look like she’s trying to outperform Timothee Chalamet (who plays Paul Atreides).

The movie is genuinely enjoyable to watch. Watching it in the theater was great because of the sound. The movie places big demands on low bass sound, especially when the giant sandworms of Arrakis make an entrance. The low rumblings as the sandworms approach genuinely fills you with dread, and the rest of the musical score is well composed.

The one issue with Dune is without understanding the lore, its hard to follow. Before you see it in theater, I’d recommend watching the Looper trailer that gives you much of the backstory of the main characters.

In a world full of dumb, woke, cringy movies, Dune is a bright spot of good story and good acting. It’s not the next Iron Man or Lord of the Rings, but if you have to pick a movie to watch, you can’t do wrong with Dune.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Cognitive decline: the mainstream media is still protecting Biden

By John Ruberry

After the collapse of the government of Afghanistan last month mainstream media reporters remembered for a little while that they were supposed to be journalists instead of propagandists and protectors of the Democratic Party.

They criticized President Joe Biden for the Afghan debacle, which was easily the worst foreign policy disaster since the fall of Saigon in 1975. It may have been the worse than that, as no one expected the Viet Cong to attack America. 

But those catcalls from the media only went so far. No one, outside of conservatives, has addressed the metaphorical crazy grandpa in the basement–Joe Biden’s clear cognitive decline. 

Okay, let’s get something out of the way. I am not a doctor and I have never met Joe Biden. But even two years ago, as he announced his run for the presidency, it was clear, to phrase it as Mark Levin did, that “the spin was off of his fastball.” Of course Biden, always a mediocrity, never had much of a fastball. 

And of course to prevent a Bernie Sanders Democratic nomination and a likely Donald Trump victory, US Rep. James Clyburn led the rush to annoint Biden as their only hope to defeat Trump. And Biden campaigned, sort of, for the presidency from what Sean Hannity called “his basement bunker.” 

Greg Ganske, an MD and former Republican member of Congress, knows Biden, In an op-ed for the Des Moines Register, he decried Biden’s mental decline.

It’s gotten worse since the election. In a CNN interview, he opined, “Um, you know there’s a, uh, during World War II, uh you know, where Roosevelt came up with a thing, that uh, you know, was totally different, than a, than the, he called it, you know, the WWII, he had the War Production Board.” In March he forgot the name of his Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, at a White House event, calling the Pentagon chief “the guy who runs that outfit over there.”

I am not alone in seeing a difference in President Biden. Mike McCormick, who worked 15 years as a White House stenographer and with Biden from 2011 to 2017, has said, “He’s lost a step and he doesn’t seem to have the mental acuity he had four years ago. He doesn’t have the energy, he doesn’t have the pace of his speaking. He’s a different guy. He read that Democratic National Committee speech verbatim — it’s not Joe Biden anymore.”

John Kass, the former Chicago Tribune lead columnist, calls Biden “President Meat Puppet.” 

During the 2020 presidential campaign while watching Biden, well, sort of campaign on television, I was reminded of a Star Trek episode centered on the doomed and flawed John Gill, Captain Kirk’s former history professor, who creates a Nazi government because that fascist nation was, in Gill’s opinion, “the most effecient state Earth ever knew.” Not true, I need to add, although oddly enough Spock agreed. 

The Enterprise’s power trio watch in horror and pity as Gill, a puppet of the evil Melakon, addresses his planet in a televised address by announcing an attack on the scapegoat planet Zeon. “Captain, the speech follows no logical pattern,” says Spock. “Random sentences strung together,” Kirk adds. “He looks drugged, Jim,” observes Dr. McCoy, “Almost in a cataleptic state.”

“They’ve kept what’s left of him as a figurehead,” Kirk says. 

Last year Lou Aguilar of the American Spectator noticed the similarities between Biden and Gill in 2020. So did Victor Davis Hanson for American Greatness last month. But these men are conservatives.

Now I am not claiming Biden is a fascist. Calm down, leftists. He is not. Biden is a confused and tired old man–but only conservative pundits are noticing that. Are we smarter than liberals? Well yes, of course we are, but it seems at the very list our “betters,” the liberal elite that is, are looking the other way in regards to the president’s mental status. Or perhaps the liberal media is purposely hiding Biden’s cognitive decline, as seems to be the case with George Stephanopoulos, who allowed a portion of his most recent interview with the president to end up on the cutting room floor as he confused key details of his late son Beau’s military service. I suspect the latter scenario is the case.

Dr. Ronny Jackson is now a Republican congressman. He was the White House physician during the Trump presidency. Two months ago he called on Biden to take a cognitive test and for the results of it to be made public. Three years ago Jackson said he administered one to Trump and he reported that “45” answered every question correctly.

Here’s the problem the mainstream media faces. Biden will continue to have good days and bad days–but as I’ve observed with relatives of mine suffering from cognitive decline, the good days always become fewer. 

Oh, how many more times will Biden be hours late for a press conference? Why always so late?

Eventually Biden’s slipping mental state will be too obvious for even the liberal media to ignore. And when they finally do notice–it’s up to us to remind them that conservatives blew the whistle on Biden first. 

Perhaps at that time, in an act for redemption, the lefty talking heads and writers can reveal who the power is behind the Biden the Figurehead.

Kass has an idea, “Ron Klain, the White House chief of staff, is now openly referred to as President Klain.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Dynasty league updates 9-10 and Looking for players for A New 1969 Draft League and face to face league UPDATE Several 69 teams taken since posting…

Here is the current state of the online and table top baseball leagues I run and ore are in. All current leagues are 162 game seasons with one 3 game series scheduled per week If you click on a team link you can see their stats, injuries, leaders etc.

Since our last update more teams have been taken in online leagues the face to face league is deep into the playoffs and a new online draft league is forming

Postseason Key

  • Z Clinched home field throughout playoffs
  • Y Clinched Division Title
  • X Clinched Wild Card home
  • W Clinched Wild Card away
  • V Clinched Playoff spot

League one All Futility League (all teams lost 96 + games) 2nd Season. Scheduled series time Thursday Mornings. This league is nearly finished.

Teams AL Division AWLPCTGBAvailableWCGB
1970 Milwaukee Brewers y9168.572—–NoN/A
1970 Chicago White Sox w8574.5356Noaway
2002 Tampa Bay Devil Rays7584.47216YesE
2003 Detroit Tigers59100.37132NoE
Teams AL Division BWLPCTGBAvailableWCGB
1970 Kansas City Royals v9663.604_____Yesn/a
2012 Minnesota Twins v9366.5853No+8
2008 Seattle Mariners8079.50314YesE
1973 Texas Rangers6990.43427YesE
Teams AL Division CWLPCTGBAvailableWCGB
2009 Cleveland Indians7980.497—–NoN/A
1967 Kansas City A’s7782.4842NoE
1957 Washington Senators7386.4596NoE
2019 Baltimore Orioles7188.4478NoE

AL Leaders: Hitting:

Avg Mauer Min .353, OBP, Mauer Min .463, Slug Huff TB .600 Runs Harper .Mil 139, Hits: Harper Mil 218, 2B Ibanez Sea, 50, 3B Crowe Cle 15, SB Suzuki 54 , BB Mauer Min 118 HR Sievers Wash 46, RBI Sievers Wash 137

Pitching: Wins Hernandez Sea, 22, ERA Diamond Min 2.91, IP John Chi 274 2/3, K’s Hernandez Sea 239, Avg against Krausse KCA .208 WHIP Krause KCA 1.07 HR/9 Hyde Wash 0.27 Saves Yan TB 31

Division Winner automatically makes playoffs

Teams NL Division AWLPCTGBAvailableWCGB
1998 Montreal Expos Z9262.610—–YesN/A
2009 Washington Nationals v9069.5667Yes+ 3
2001 Pittsburgh Pirates 8574.53512Yes2
1998 Florida Marlins7089.44027YesE
Teams NL Division BWLPCTGBAvailableWCGB
2000 Philadelphia Phillies Y8076.513—–YesN/A
2012 Houston Astros7086.44910YesE
2017 San Francisco Giants7086.44910NoE
2015 Atlanta Braves6690.42314NoE
Teams NL Division CWLPCTGBAvailableWCGB
1982 Cincinnati Reds8967.571_____Non/a
1993 New York Mets8772.5473 1/2No_____
1974 Chicago Cubs7782.48413 1/2NoE
1993 San Diego Padres7086.44919NoE

NL Leaders Hitting:

AVG Gwynn SD .361, OBP Giles Pit .450 Slug Giles Pit .623, Runs Giles Pitt 114, Hits Gwynn SD 189 2B Gwynn SD 56, 3B Guerrero Mon 15, SB Morgan Wash 45, BB Giles Pit 101, HR Murray Mets 34, RBI Ramirez Pit 114

Pitching Wins Hermanson Mon 29, ERA Hermanson Mon 1.82, IP Soto Cin 278 1/3, K’s Soto Cin 338, Avg against Soto Cin .197 WHIP Hermanson Mon 1.00 HR/9 Berenyi Cin 0.30, Saves Urbina Mon Zamora ChC 33.

The SD Jones memorial .500 teams league is a league (all teams were no better than 2 games over .500 or no worse than 2 games under) Initial season . Games are scheduled for Tuesdays. AM

Teams AL EastWLPCTGBAvailableWCGB
1993 Boston8250.621—–Non/a
1957 Baltimore6864.51514Yes+2
1973 New York (A)6468.48518Yes2
1967 Washington5973.44723Yes7
Teams AL CentralWLPCTGBAvailableWCGB
2010 Detroit v8646.652—–Yesn/a
1975 Cleveland5676.42430No10
1973 Minnesota5676.42430No10
1998 Chicago (A)4686.34840No20
Teams AL WestWLPCTGBAvailableWCGB
2010 Oakland7953.598—-Yesn/a
2018 Los Angeles (A)6666.50013Yes_______
2017 Kansas City6567.49214No1
2005 Toronto6369.47716Yes3

AL Leaders Batting

Avg Carew Min .344, OBP Trout LAA .436, SLUG Trout LAA .637, Runs Cabrera Det 116, Hits Carew Min 188, 2B Cabrera Det 45, 3B Durham ChW, 16, SB Carew Min 49 BB Trout LAA 100 HR Howard Wash(A) 41, RBI Cabrera Det 125


Wins Verlander Det 20, ERA Clemens Bos 2.39, IP Vernalder Det 256 2/3, K’s Blyleven Min 240, Avg against Cahill Oak .205, WHIP Darwin Bos 0.99, HR/9 Bibby Cle 0.35, Saves Valverde Det Russell Bos 27

Teams NL EastWLPCTGBAvailableWCGB
1967 Pittsburgh8256.594______Non/a
2018 Washington8055.5931/2No+12
1957 Philadelphia6072.45519Yes8
1975 New York (N)5580.40725 1/2Yes14

Division winner skips wild card

Teams NL CentralWLPCTGBAvailableWCGB
1996 Cincinnati7263.533_____Non/a
1975 St. Louis6864.5152 1/2Yes_____
2000 Colorado7068.5073 1/2Yes2
1973 Houston5973.44711 1/2Yes9
Teams NL WestWLPCTGBAvailableWCGB
1975 San Francisco8250.621—–Yesn/a
2012 Arizona6765.50815Yes1
2007 Los Angeles (N)5775.43225Yes11
1982 San Diego5481.40029 1/2Yes15 1/2

NL Leaders Batting

AVG Clemente Pit .372, OBP Mitchell Cin .453, Slug Clemente Pit .604, Runs Larkin Cin 111, Hits Clemente Pit 207, 2B Cirillo Col 60, 3B Clemente Pit 21, SB Pierre LAD 69 BB Larkin Cin 100, HR Helton Col 29, RBI Helton Col 118

Pitching Wins Scherzer Wash 19, ERA Scherzer Wash 2.33, IP Scherzer Wash 262 2/3, K’s Scherzer Wash 309, Avg Against Scherzer Wash .207, WHIP Scherzer Wash 0.96, HR/9 Reed StL 0.34, Saves Face Pitt 32

3rd League All time any time Great Teams League (3rd season) Games scheduled Friday evenings. Two teams have been picked up since the last posting (oddly not the Orioles)

Teams AL EastWLPCTGBAvailableWCGB
1970 Baltimore6534.657—–Yesn/a
1993 Toronto5643.5669No+6
1961 Yankees4947.51014 1/2No1/2
1999 Boston4158.41424No9
Teams AL CentralWLPCTGBAvailableWCGB
2010 Texas5643.566—–Yesn/a
1954 Cleveland5049.5056No—–
2006 Detroit4755.46110 1/2Yes4 1/2
1974 Oakland4059.40416Yes10
Teams AL OtherWLPCTGBAvailableWCGB
2009 New York (A)5346.535____Non/a
1977 Kansas City4848.5003 1/2No1/2
1924 Washington4260.41212 1/2No9 1/2
1967 Minnesota3960.39414Yes11

AL Leaders Batting

Avg Carew Min ,369 , OBP Olerud Tor .466, Slug Mantle NYY61 .659, Runs Jeter NYY09 87, Hits Jeter NYY09 150, 2B Olerud Tor 38, Triples Taylor Wash 16, SB Henderson Tor 54, BB Killebrew Min 79, HR Mantle NYY61 31, RBI Hamilton Tex 81

Pitching Wins Martinez Bos 15, ERA Martinez Bos 2.25, IP Johnson Wash 196 2/3, K’s Martinez Bos 285, Avg against Martinez Bos .201 WHIP Martinez Bos 0.90 HR/9 Martinez Bos .034 Saves Ward Tor 29

Teams NL EastWLPCTGBAvailableWCGB
1975 Cincinnati5544.556—–NoN/A
2019 Washington Nats5148.5154Yes_____
1998 Atlanta4749.4906 1/2No2 1/2
1955 Brooklyn4554.45510Yes6
Teams NL CentralWLPCTGBAvailableWCGB
1957 Milwaukee5346.535_____No+2*
1985 St. Louis5346.535_____No+ 2*
1971 Pittsburgh4653.4657Yes5
2003 Cubs4455.4449Yes7
Teams NL OtherWLPCTGBAvailableWCGB
2016 Chicago (N)7929.707—-Non/a
1977 Philadelphia4851.48522Yes3
2001 Arizona4554.45525Yes6
2007 Colorado4254.43826 1/2Yes7 1/2

NL Leaders Batting

Avg Kendrick Wash .369, OBP Morgan Cin .464, Slug Galarraga Atl .627, Runs Morgan Cin 91, Hits Kendrick Wash 146, 2B Kendrick Wash 34, 3B McGee StL 14, SB Morgan Cin 54, BB Morgan Cin 82, HR Campanella Bkyn, Aaron Mil 27, RBI Aaron Mil 89

Pitching Wins Nolan Cin 15, ERA Tudor StL 1.80, IP Tudor StL 174 2/3, K’s Johnson Arizona 226, Avg against Tudor StL .181, WHIP Tudor StL 0.82 HR/9 Buhl Mil 0.28, Saves Chapman Cubs16 27

There will be a new Draft league starting in October beginning in the 1969 season. Each player will select a franchise and one player to protect and the rest of the players will go in the draft.

Out of a max of 24 teams available here are the teams selected with the player they choose to protect all others go into the draft. All unlisted franchises are still available franchise with a * are teams that have been picked but the confirmation email has not yet been received

Players may join up until Sept 30th or until we reach 24 teams The draft is scheduled for the 1st week of October and will last one week. Teams will draft until they have 35 players or until we run out of players to draft.

At the end of the season each team will be able to protect 4-12 players based on their finish plus new rookies (IE Bowa Phi Blyleven Minn) who don’t count toward that total, all others go into the draft, draft order for the 1970 season will be based on the finish.

This league will play twice a week 5-6 games

UPDATE: This list has been updated for several teams now taken since the post went up

Team SelectedPlayer withheld from Draft
Oakland A’sNot announced
Chicago White SoxLHSP Tommy John
Baltimore Orioles1B Boog Powell
Atlanta BravesOF Hank Aaron
Cincinnati RedsC Johnny Bench
Los Angeles DodgersRHSP Don Sutton
Montreal ExposNot Announced
New York MetsRHSP Tom Seaver
Pittsburgh PiratesOF Roberto Clemente
St Louis Cardinals RHSP Bob Gibson
San Francisco GiantsOF Bobby Bonds
New York YankeesSP Fritz Peterson
Cleveland IndiansLHSP Sam McDowell
Washington SenatorsSS Ed Brinkman
Minnesota Twins2B Rod Carew

If you are interested in this or any other league contact me in comments.

The face to face league in Fitchburg MA has finished its regular season here are the final standings

Tampa Bay Rays 4119.683—-n/a
San Francisco Giants3525.5833 1/2Bye
St. Louis Cardinals3228.5337Home
Colorado Rockies2436.40014 1/2ELIM
New York Yankees 3921.650—-n/a
Washington Nationals2833.45911 1/2Away
Seattle Mariners2734.44212ELIM
San Diego Padres1743.28321ELIM
Nationals and Mariners played a 61th game to break a tie for the final wild card spot

Here are the playoff results to date:

Wild Card Playin at St Louis

St. Louis Cardinals 8 Washington Nationals 5

Playoffs round one: best of five

Tampa Bay Rays defeat St. Louis Cardinals 3 games to 1

New York Yankees defeat defending WP champ San Francisco Giants games to one

World Series Best of seven

9/11 NYY at TB

On 9/25 at 1:30 PM at Zeda’s Pizza in Fitchburg MA our face to face draft league which first began playing in 1987 in Fitchburg Massachusetts will have it’s meeting to finalize the plans for our next season (2020) We currently have 8 teams in two divisions and would like to expand to at least nine or possibly 10. Anyone interested in joining is welcome to show up. Issues to be decided

  • Dues (currently $35 a season)
  • Number of games (currently 60 but may shrink to let us catch back up with MLB)
  • Number of weeks per month. (currently playing every other week, considering adding one extra week or more)
  • Date for draft (and / or expansion draft) and date to begin season.

New players are always welcome

Five Reasons Why Jersey’s Jack’s Next Machine Should be The Chosen

Christ about to deliver the Sermon on the Mount from the Chosen Season 2 finale

One of the great bits of fun about Pintastic each year is to see the new machines that are being released. Some are original, some are licensed. The question is to find a game that would not only make a good machine, but would have a good customer base to start with.

The answer of course is the Chosen. Here are five reasons why Jersey Jack Pinball should consider making a Chosen Machine.

5. Mutually beneficial to both parties

One of the goals of the folks at the Chosen is to expose this series and the message of Christ to as many people as possible, particularly those who might not be exposed to it. As a pinball company one of the goals at Jersey Jack is to expand the hobby exposing it to others. A Chosen Pinball machine would accomplish both. The message of Christ would be spread to a hobby base that while having some Christians like myself in it is not known as a faith base, while Jersey Jack with it’s line of G-PG machines would be an excellent entre to the hobby for those who would like the game.

4. Inexpensive licensing:

One of the biggest expenses for a game based on a movie or TV series is the licensing cost. The Wizard of OZ, the Hobbit and Pirates of the Caribbean all involved licensing costs.

The folks at the Chosen have been giving away the show in order to spread it to as many people as possible, that being the case it is likely that the license cost will likely be nominal for the very same reason.

3. Consistent with Jersey Jack Personal Beliefs:

Jack is known as a solid Catholic and a Knight of Columbus. In speeches at Pintastic NE he has talked about how his wife reminded him of this when deciding what games to make and use. You can’t find a product more in tune with those religious believes than a Chosen Pinball machines.

2. Ready Made Customer Base:

The first thing to consider when making a commercial product is “will it sell” “Is there a customer base for it?”

According to the Chosen website 75,346 people raised $10,000,000 to fund season one and 125,346 people (including 86% of those who funded season one) raised the ten million for season two. On the “Pay it forward” page as of this writing the first five episodes of season three are funded while 21,000+ people have kicked in to fund episode six so far. The chosen has managed to crowd fund $11.85 Million of the 18 million they’ve budgeted toward paying for season three. Over 257,000,000 people have watched the series so far and over 2000 fans showed up from all over the country to be part of the “Sermon on the Mount” scene that ended season 2 and will begin season three.

That’s what I call a customer base.

and finally the #1 reason why the Chosen should be Jersey Jack’s next machine.

  1. It’s practically designed for a Pinball machine!

Pinball machines these days are all about progress toward goals. The chosen is made for it.

Imagine a goal of collecting 12 apostles plus Mary Magdalene (most with video clips for them).

Progressive increases for bumpers are there like the size of crowds in Sychar or for the sermon on the mount, the lines in Syria, the fish in Simon’s boat) and we they haven’t even gotten to the potential stuff in season three like multiplication of the loaves and the fishes Those are made for the bumpers to increase.

Point to point goals. From miracles (Driving the demons from Mary, Simon getting the fish, curing the leper, healing Simon the Zealots’ brother) to meetings (Nicodemus meeting Jesus, getting through the crowd to the roof) traveling from city to city Capernaum, Cana, Syria, Caesar Philippi etc etc etc

Several potential mini-games (making Abagail’s toys,, Simon in a fight, preparing Shabbat dinner, finding Jesus in the crowd at Sychar or as a child in Jerusalem, escorting the taxes, plowing the field, even fixing the axel or fishing for food in season two ).

There’s even potential penalties (Roman taxes that subtract point) or arrests (John the Baptist or Jesus) and ducking the Pharisees.

Moreover there is potential for growth. A game that encompasses the first three seasons can potentially be followed by a 2nd doing seasons four and five as the really heavy stuff that might be tougher for such a game (the final arrest, scourging and Crucifixion are many year away.

The chosen is , as of now, the finest example of an excellent television with small non-cooperate control, combine that with Jersey Jack, the best new pinball makers also with the same small non-cooperate model and you have potential for a winner that will sell long after both men are gone.

It would be educational, inspiring, and most of all for a pinball game, fun!

Artistic Goals verses Spiritual Ones Good News and Bad News on an ex-post facto Chosen Edit.

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”

He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

Matthew 16:21-23

On the Chosen Youtube page there is a video up about having to re-record lines in studio due to a plane flying over. In the video the creator of the series Dallas Jenkins had the actress playing the Blessed Virgen Mary re-record a line for episode one of Season two after it had already been broadcast.

It’s a flash forward scene long after the crucifixion  & ascension where John writing recollections from the Apostles, Mary Magdalene and Mary, mother of God of their time with Jesus.

In the existing scene Mary asks John why he is doing this now John replies:

Because everyone is here, I need to get their memories.

and Mary answers:

You need to mourn your brother.

Jenkins notes that a lot of people didn’t realize this meant James or as he called in the show: Big James as opposed to the much shorter James (James the lesser) so the line has been changed to:

You need to mourn Big James.”

In the context of the scene it makes absolutely no sense to say “Big James”, both of them know who has died and even if she didn’t say, “Your brother” she would say “James” not “Big James”. After all Zebedee didn’t take after George Foreman and name all his sons George and nowhere in the series does John call his brother “Big James”

Artistically this change is awful but religiously it is very good news for Dallas Jenkins because while he wanted to make a high quality program I suspect he had a different goal in mind.

You see his goal is to introduce the story of Jesus and his disciples to people who are not familiar with it.

Now for anyone who has read the New Testament, this line would not be necessary because they would know that James the Greater the brother of John is who they are talking about:

About that time King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also. (It was (the) feast of Unleavened Bread.)

Acts 12:1-3

James is not only first of the apostles martyred but he’s the only one, other than Judas, whose fate is explicitly stated in scripture even a person with a passing knowledge of scripture knows this.

But while commercially the faithful might be the target audience of this series the real target are those who have likely never cracked open a bible in their lives, whose knowledge of Jesus in general and the tenants of Christianity in particular have been shaped by a world and a culture that at best is indifferent to them and at worst hates both.

This edit which I presume is based on the feedback from viewers means he is over the target that he needs to reach who are now seeing Jesus and his disciples closer to their actual context then they ever likely have.

He should rejoice and be exceeding glad.

Five Chosen Thoughts Under the Fedora

The 2nd season finale of the Chosen was released on Sunday. It ended on a bit of a cliffhanger which was a bit of a surprise but it was very well done and a great setup for the start of next season. The ending also suggests that a good part of the 3rd season premiere is already filmed.

The quality of this show is setting a high bar for any kind of Christian television that will follow.

One of the things that I really enjoy about the series is the conflicts between the disciples. Different thoughts, different styles that clash. Many times people forget that the disciples of Christ were regular people who had different lives and different perspectives and that those perspectives weren’t always going to mesh.

That is the thing about Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular, it brings together different people from different perspectives in a unity that is Christ.

An oddity of the series is how much is not is scripture. A great example is Season two episode 3 which is based on a single verse from Matthew, most of the episode is about the interaction between the disciples and Mary the mother of God of which we know nothing. Other episodes like the Wedding at Cana (Season 1 episode 5) which is based on scripture also provides a backstory to Thomas that we don’t know, while practically the entire first season gives a backstory to Matthew before his call.

All of it is logical and even plausible and great television, but is not scriptural. That doesn’t make it bad or evil but none of this should be considered a substitute for actual scripture. Of course given that so much of the public knows less about scripture than a disinterested person would have known a century ago it might be a very important introduction to it.

As a Catholic I’ve been particularly impressed how Mary is being portrayed. Being a widow with only one son it makes a lot of sense that she would be traveling with her son who would be her source of support. There are several key moments that really stand out as a Catholic one in particular in that finale encapsulated in this image from the show:

The disciples are out informing the people of the upcoming sermon on the mount and who does Mary approach? The man who is seemingly the lowest and the poorest and the least.

I don’t know if this is a marketing strategy to attract Catholics of if it comes from the actor who plays Christ (who is VERY Catholic) but given that this is written by the son the the author of the very Protestant Left Behind series I find it rather significant.

Finally as you might or might not know the show is crowdfunded. Last week the cost per episode of Season three went up from 1.875 Mil to 2.25 Mil about a $400K increase. I’m sure part of it is a raise for the actors who have certainly earned it and with a regular cast of 18 in every episode (12 disciples, Mary and the women plus Christ) plus the incidental regulars who you want to lock up for the next five season I suspect these costs will only rise.

DaWife bought a T-Shirt but I’m holding back myself until I see how they handle John Chapter Six (the bread of life discourses). As my own Pastor notes almost all “Jesus” movies skip over this because how they handle the question of the Eucharist will determine if this series is worth my cash to support.

I think the real conflict will be how the very vey catholic Johnathan Roumie as Christ will do with what the very protestant Dallas Jenkins writes for him or if they will work together to handle this.

I don’t know when this is coming, it might be season three but it might also wait till season 4 but it is coming and will be for me the moment of truth.

Opinions on Haiti, Woke Raytheon, A Matter of Honor, Catholics Demanding Refunds and a name for What’s been happening to my wife Under the Fedora

Saw this at Don Surber’s site this morning on the assignation of the president of Haiti:

Why do I get the feeling the Clintons and their fake foundation are entangled in this mess?

Maybe it wasn’t an assassination.

Maybe it was Arkancide.

My best friend at work is a 70 year old Hattian man who is a naturalized citizen. When I asked him about the assassination last week he offered a similar opinion on what happened over there.

My first employer out of college was Raytheon and I worked there with secret clearance for three years during the climax of the cold war (until I opened my comic book store). now I’m thinking that I might want to take that off my resume after this:

ATTENTION EMPLOYEES, MOVE OUT OF THE WAY BY GETTING ANOTHER JOB NOW:  Raytheon CRT Training: White Employees “must work on ‘recognizing [their] privilege’ and ‘step aside’ for minorities”.

The company will then go the way of every company that hires for reasons other than competence. And they deserve it.

As this is a defense contractor as long as the left has power their bottom line is not endangered but I’ll bet a lot of 80 year old Russian spies are wishing they had managed to pull this off 30 years earlier.

My favorite show when I was seven years old was the Richard Greene series The Adventures of Robin Hood which was televised on WMUR about 30 minutes before I had to wake up for school. While they had it on the air I never was late getting up.

I was reminded of the show or rather a particular line I saw this story out of Boston:

Judge William Young has just announced in court that he is withdrawing the Opinion he issued dismissing the case brought by a Boston parents group over the so-called Boston “Zip Code Quota Plan.” For background see our posts:

The key bit:

“This was my opinion, my signature’s on it, I was misled”

“The opinion is wrong, it’s wrong because the facts on which it was based … an opinion I issued under my signature is factually incorrect”

“I’m inclined to withdraw the opinion, I’ve never done that [before in 35 years]”

“I work very hard on my opinions, and this one’s no good.”

The clerk will enter the note: “The opinion entered in this case is withdrawn on the ground the court is satisfied it is factually inaccurate in certain material effects.”

Any judge appointed in Massachusetts over the last 35 years is likely a liberal but a person of that age might not like the idea of their personal honor being tarnished. In the old days even a villains didn’t want to be seen as breaking their word in public.

Give it a few years more and I’m sure the state with only those brought up woke to choose from will not have to worry about this problem again.

One of the things I constantly argue is that things will not change until there are consequences for the left, like this:

Anthony and Barbara Scarpo noted how the Academy of the Holy Names in Tampa even named its auditorium “Scarpo Family Theatre” after their huge pledge in 2017, saying they were helping it raise $9 million in total.

But now the parents want their money back — including tuition paid for their two daughters — in outrage at how the school turned its back on Catholicism to go “woke,” their 13-count, 45-page lawsuit claims.

The Scarpos claim they were betrayed by the school suddenly “embracing the new, politically correct, divisive and ‘woke’ culture where gender identity, human sexuality, and pregnancy termination among other ‘hot-button issues,’ took center stage,” the lawsuit said.

I couldn’t help but remember when my oldest had been offered a big scholarship at the Anna Maria College but when we visited it it turned out to be “Catholic” in name and fundraising only (although the president in response to my letter to the bishop claimed otherwise. Which thanks to this story turned into yesterday’s lead post twelve years later.

A lot of catholic institutions make a lot of money off of donors who don’t know that their Catholic identity is only visible when asking them for checks.

Finally I just got this link via email concerning Long Haul COVID-19 Syndrome (LHCS) a sample:

The Long Haul COVID-19 Syndrome (LHCS) is an often debilitating syndrome characterized by a multitude of symptoms such as prolonged malaise, headaches, generalized fatigue, sleep difficulties, smell disorder, decreased appetite, painful joints, dyspnea, chest pain and cognitive dysfunction. The incidence of symptoms after COVID-19 varies from as low as 10% to as high as 80%. LHCS is not only seen after the COVID-19 infection but it is being observed in some people that have received vaccines (likely due to monocyte activation by the spike protein from the vaccine). A puzzling feature of the LHCS syndrome is that it is not predicted by initial disease severity; post-COVID-19 frequently affects mild-to-moderate cases and younger adults that did not require respiratory support or intensive care.

The symptom set of LHCS in the majority of cases is very similar to the chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS)/myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, although in LHCS, symptoms tend to improve slowly in the majority of the cases. Furthermore, the similarity between the mast cell activation syndrome and LHCS has been observed, and many consider post-COVID-19 to be a variant of the mast cell activation syndrome. LHCS is highly heterogenous and likely results from a variety of pathogenetic mechanisms. Furthermore, it is likely that delayed treatment (with ivermectin) in the early symptomatic phase will result in a high viral load, which increases the risk and severity of LHCS.

This describes what happened to my wife (who is still out of work since March and things are starting to get tight around here) perfectly. But I note that some people who have gotten this because of the vaccines.

Now I don’t blame the developers, these vaccines were done in a hurry because of the emergency and this was a new disease but it’s one more thing to consider when deciding if you want to get the shot or not.

Having already had COVID I don’t see the need myself, I’ve already got the antibodies.

Five Thoughts about The Chosen Under the Fedora

I’ve been watching the TV series “The Chosen” which incidentally is the only TV series I watch these days and have a few thoughts.

The latest episode is Episode seven, of season two and next to episode 2 of season 1 is likely the least biblical (that is the most dramatized) episode of the series. As we Catholics are not sola scripture this doesn’t offend me as much as it bothers some others but I found everything in the episode extremely plausible, particularly the idea that the local Roman authorities would have an interest in Christ when he’s drawing large crowds. The meeting between Jesus and Quintus is one of my favorite scenes in the entire series.

While some might disagree I as a daily Mass Catholic particularly like how Mary has been portrayed. She is very much humanized, which is important as is in fact human and did in fact live the life of a 1st century AD Jewish woman. What many likely do not catch is the idea that she would travel with the disciples makes a lot of sense as being a widow with no other children her son would be her only support and don’t think I didn’t notice that when Mary Magdalene fell and was afraid to face Jesus it was Mary the Mother of God who brought her in the tent and stood with her.

You don’t get more Catholic then that.

A lot of people apparently took issue with the fall and return of Mary Magdalene and it’s the one thing that the creator Dallas Jenkins really took issue with. He gives Jesus this classic line: “You thought you were never going to sin again?” As Father Z put it when talking about how to deal with a couple not married licitly:

Or course there may be times when they fail in their determination to live in continence and they have sexual relations.

What then?

Simple.  They go to confession and start over with a firm purpose of amendment.

That’s what we all do when we sin in any way.  We go to confession with a firm purpose of amendment and start over with God’s help.

Again this is very Catholic and is almost a dramatization of the first sacramental confession as there she was before Christ and receiving absolution

There is no release date for the season finale yet (at least not to my knowledge) but the thing I’m most waiting for is the introduction of Judas.

How they decide to play Judas is going to be I suspect the toughest thing they do because while John in his Gospel notes him as a thief he was still not just a disciple but an apostle in good standing right up until the last supper.

How he is portrayed and what kind of backstory they give him will be interesting. All the disciples have been humanized and in some ways sympathized but it will be very hard to do so with Judas when everyone knows what’s coming in the end. Furthermore in every scene that he’s in people will be looking for and seeing the signs of the betrayal.

Will we see Judas as the Betrayer from day one or Judas as the disciple who in the end doesn’t seek the forgiveness that Mary did in season two or that Simon Peter will have to in the final season?

That the big question mark for the remaining seasons to me.

The crowd funding for season three seems to be stuck at episode five, which is about a half million away from what they need to finish the season (They’re looking for 1.875 mill to cover all eight episodes). I suspect that it’s because this season we’re seeing more conflict both within and without and this might be turning off a few people. Still with an avg contribution of about $30 bucks a head the 1.3 mil they’ve raised isn’t chicken feed but it also means they need about 20K people to kick in to finish things off. While I recommend this show to others I’m holding off the cash spigot for two reasons:

  1. Money has been rather tight with DaWife’s illness this year
  2. I want to see what they do with John 6

It will be very interesting to see the conflict between a very devout Catholic actor who plays Jesus and a very Protestant team that’s writing and producing the series handles the bread of life discourses. Most biblical movies duck it. I don’t see how that’s done given the episodic nature of the series.

But what I think really hurts the fund raising are all the “chosen commentary” things on Youtube that are drawing potential “pay it forward” people away from the site and app that offers it free anyways.

Review: Season Two of Ragnarok

By John Ruberry

Late last week Season Two of Ragnarok began streaming on Netflix. The Norwegian series presents a modern telling of the ultimate battle, Ragnarök, between the Norse gods and their enemies, the jötunn, evil deities who are usually called giants in English. It is set in the fictional small fjord town of Edda, which is being poisoned by the town’s largest employer, Jutul Industries. The company is run by Vidar Jutul (Gísli Örn Garðarsson), the head of the jötunn quasi-family. His wife, Ran (Synnøve Macody Lund), is the principal of Edda High School, which Magne Seier (David Stakson) and his brother, Laurits (Jonas Strand Gravli), attend. Also students there are two other Jutuls, Saxa (Theresa Frostad Eggesbø) and Fjor (Herman Tømmeraas).

In Season One, my DTG review is here, teenager Magne suspects he is the rebirth of Thor. Yes, he’s another “chosen one.” In the final episode of that season, while Laurits humiliates Ran in a public address, Magne confronts Vidar in a battle. 

The second season picks up where the first ends. Somewhat diminished this season is the teen love anxiety–while the Norse mythology is elevated. There are few scenes at the high school. So there is a bit less of a Twilight feel this time around.

Laurits is a prankster so if you know a little bit about the Norse gods, you should have suspected in the first season that he is a modern representation of Loki, the mischievous god. Reluctantly and by happenstance, as Jake and Elwood did in The Blues Brothers, Magne is “putting the back back together,” and that includes Wotan Wagner (Bjørn Sundquist), Edda’s Odin, and Harry (Benjamin Helstad) as the militaristic god Týr. Edda is multicultural, so it’s not surprising that an immigrant from Sri Lanka, Iman (Danu Sunth), achieves goddess status as Frigg, a clairvoyant.

The powers–and the alliances–of the gods and the jötunn as told in Norse mythology are complicated–as they are here. So are the romances, particularly the one with Fjor and a human, Gry (Emma Bones).

According to the myths Loki was a shape shifter–that is not shown here–and some of those tales of the trickster god involve gender fluidity. Laurits is unsure of his gender–but more certain of his sexuality. Oh, there is also a brief sensual scene with two women.

All through Season Two the government is investigating the environmental devestatation Jutul Industries brings to Edda–as well as the company’s financial improprieties. 

Magne and Laurits’ mother, Turid (Henriette Steenstrup), does her best in keeping the family together while struggling with poverty and of course, raising two teen sons who are conflicted gods. 

The final episode, the sixth–Season One is also consists just six entries–brings forth another climactic confrontation. The door is open for a third season of Ragnarok and I’ll be back if there is. Although to be honest I probably would have lost interest during Season One has their not been a mythological foundation for the series. As of this writing Ragnarok is a Top Ten series on Netflix.

The streaming service gives viewers the option of watching Ragnarok in dubbed English or in Norwegian with English subtitles. There are also some passages, dubbed of course, in Old Norse. 

Season Two of Ragnarok is rated TV-MA because of foul language (and gasp!) smoking. In reality the series is more like a PG-13 movie in regards to possibly objectionable content. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Review: Season 1 of Shadow and Bone

By John Ruberry

Throughout the late 1960s and 1970s there was the hope, egged on by the music media, that soon “the next Beatles” would arrive. The Bee Gees, Badfinger, and the Knack were among those acts who failed to match the hype. And no band could match the Beatles’ level because even when they were together they were already legends. 

In that same time period there were even more “next Bob Dylans” heralded.

No one can supercede a legend.

Late last month the first season of Shadow and Bone began streaming on Netflix. 

And many are wondering if Shadow and Bone is the next Game of Thrones

Short answer? No. Longer answer? Not even close. And as HBO’s Game of Thrones has entered the world of legend, Shadow and Bone doesn’t have a chance. 

Call me sadistic, but I knew in the first episode of GoT, “Winter Is Coming,” that here was a series that broke the mold when Jamie Lannister pushed young Bran Stark from a high window ledge so to hide his sexual relationship with his sister, Cersei.

With Shadow and Bone you are exposed to an eight-episode muddled mess. 

The show is based on a trilogy of high fantasy books by Leigh Bardugo, and there are elements from two of her other works thrown in too. To understand what is going on you it seems you have to read all of these books first. And I’ve read none of them.

“Students,” I can see a teacher announcing, “your assigment is to read five books and then, only then, watch Shadow and Bone.” Uh, no.

The alternate world of Shadow and Bone is largely based on Russia of the late 19th century. The costume designers make the most of it and they deserve an Emmy nomination for their efforts. Soldiers wear fur ushankas and papakhas. Women don ornate dresses, the heads of civilian males are often topped with bowlers. While GoT and Lord of the Rings is rooted in the Middle Ages of western Europe, viewers here find themselves in the Russia of the Industrial Revolution. There are guns and a train. But no sword battles.

Ravka (Russia) is in the center of the continent and it’s separated by the Fold, a thick cloud wall inhabited by human-eating volcra, who are a cross between griffins and pterodactyls. Spoiler alert: there are no dragons. The Fold was created years earlier by an evil grisha, that is, a magic maker of Ravka. Maybe I’m a dope but it wasn’t until the third episode that I ascertained that the grisha were magicians. They are particularly adept at fire-starting. The grishas make up one of two armies of Ravka.

The central character of Shadow and Bone is Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li), a woman in her late teens and a grisha who is half-Shu Han. The Shu Han nation, which we don’t encounter here, is the show’s version of China and they are enemies of Ravka. To the north is Fjerda, a stand-in for Scandinavia. We see the Fjerdans when they fight the Ravkans.

An orphan–just like Harry Potter and Frodo Baggins–Alina encounters racism because of her foreign looks. She has a puppy love relationship with a fellow orphan, military tracker Malyen “Mal” Oretsev (Archie Renaux), they’ve known each other since childhood. Alina is a mapmaker for the First Army, the non-magical one–and man oh man, could viewers use a decent map here to get a grip on the geography of Shadow and Bone. Only one is briefly shown. More time is devoted to Alina burning maps.

We quickly learn that Alina, like Harry Potter, is a Chosen One. The revelation brings her to a grisha leader, General Kirigan (Ben Barnes), and the capital city of Ravka, where she meets the king, who looks a lot like Czar Alexander III. Alina is declared a Sun Summoner, that’s a really big deal you see, and then begins her training to fully utilize her powers.

Word spreads about Alina–all the way to the island nation of Kerch–which is Shadow and Bone’s version of the Netherlands, complete with its largest city, hedonistic Ketterdam, which parallels another city. Do I really need to spell out which one? We meet three underworld characters there, Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter), Inej Ghafa (Amita Suman), and Jesper Fahey (Kit Young) who leave Ketterdam to kidnap Alina for a one-million kruge reward. The three criminals have an intriguing dynamic and they are more captivating characters than Alina and Mal. 

If you like elaborate clothes, eye-catching special effects, and being transporated to an alternative yet familiar civilization, then Shadow and Bone could be for you. But if you expect fully-developed characters and a coherent plot line, then stay away. 

If magic and the 19th-century interests you then instead I recommend streaming Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on Amazon. In this series, among other things, the Duke of Wellington is aided by a magician to fight the French during the Napoleonic Wars. 

As for the grisha–if they are so powerful how come they are captured with relative ease?

Shadow and Bone is rated TV-14 for violence, adult situations, and brief nudity.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.