Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Mah Na Mah Na! New article at American Thinker


I might have broken whole new ground in op-ed writing by using the word "Pufnstuf".  But anyhoo, American Thinker this morning has published a new article by Yours Truly.  "And then they came for the Muppets..." delves into Disney's slapping an "offensive material" disclaimer on several episodes of The Muppet Show.

A sample from the piece:

These declaimers are micro-sermons about the virtues of inclusion. They are meant to “foster dialogue.” But anyone who sits the children down for a heart-to-heart discussion about Muppet morality probably doesn’t get the point of the Muppets anyway. These disclaimers, along with all the others that Disney is slapping onto Lady and the Tramp and Peter Pan and other films, accomplish nothing of the sort. They are nuisances at best. By the end of the show the average child will have forgotten all about them.

That's the second article in a row (counting the one about Gina Carano from last week) that's addressed Disney+. I'm not out to "get Disney", honest. But it has to be said: that company is pumping out some real fodder for opinion writing lately.

Anyway, cue the music, light the lights, and read my new article.  Do you think Statler and Waldorf would approve?



Friday, February 19, 2021

YouTube videos: Song parodies from The Rush Limbaugh Show

Two and a half days later and Rush Limbaugh's absence from the airwaves continues to haunt.  I tried calculating how many hours I listened to him over the years, and couldn't do it.  From summer of 1992 until I started college at Elon three years, I was listening to him at least nine hours a week.  In the past few years I sort-of rediscovered him and listened as much as possible.  There was none like him before, nobody compared when he was with us, and it is doubtful that anyone will ever really succeed him.

It wasn't just his brilliant commentary, it was also the hysterically funny comedy that was a huge part of Limbaugh's show.  Especially the song parodies.  Most of them came courtesy of a chap named Paul Shanklin.  There were a few others also.  I remember one guy who was in the Bay Area.  Another was from Massachusetts.

So in Rush's memory I thought it would be appropriate to share some of the song parodies and other material that he played on his show.

I forget who made this one.  It might have been Shanklin.  "The Philanderer", a spoof of "The Wanderer":


"In A Yugo", parody of Elvis Presley's "In The Ghetto":


This next one is a clip from "Weird Al" Yankovic's movie UHF, Rush played it on his show every so often.  The commercial for Spatula City:



One of my personal favorites: "They're Coming To Take Ross Away", a parody of "They're Coming To Take Me Away" by Napoleon XIV.  And I liked Ross Perot!


The Barnacle Brothers 60-Second Sale spot:



And finally (but far from the only remaining parody that Rush did on his show), "Al Gore Paradise", a send-up of Coolio's "Gangsta Paradise":


If I spot any more I'll post 'em here! :-D



Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Rush Limbaugh is gone

 The very sad word broke a little while ago that Rush Limbaugh passed away earlier today.

I learned more from listening to his show, especially in my late teens and early twenties, than from a lot of other things put together.

Going to forever treasure the audio cassette of when I called into his show in December 1993.  I was nineteen.  I started off the call saying hey to my coworkers at Libby Hill Seafood in Reidsville.  For the next week and a half people kept coming into the place wanting to meet the guy who talked with Rush.

That's my own little anecdote about the life of Rush Hudson Limbaugh III.

Going to pay homage to him with the photo of the time when I first discovered him.  The cover of his bestselling first book.  How I'll always best remember Rush.




Tuesday, February 16, 2021

New article at American Thinker: Disney's cancelling of Gina Carano


I have a new article up at American Thinker this morning.  "Cancelling Gina Carano: Work Worthy of an Evil Empire" addresses what happened last week in regard to Disney firing one of the lead actors of its series The Mandalorian (image: Disney).  Gina Carano made a post on social media that some allege was anti-Semitic and overly controversial.  But was it really?  Especially in light of the fact that others associated with the Star Wars franchise have made statements just as "controversial" and saw no repercussion.

In short: was Carano let go because she leans conservative?

As always, comments are welcome.

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Taking a break

Apart from posting notification about any new published articles, I'm going to step away from the blog for the next month or so.  There are a few things on my plate, a number of projects, and I'm choosing to take time to focus on those.

'Course, if something REALLY drastic happens - like me having a near-death experience from the COVID-19 vaccine (the first shot made me sick for days) - then I might blog about that.  The second shot is tomorrow.  My right arm is bracing for it.  But anyhoo...

Y'all try to behave while I'm gone :-)

Sunday, February 07, 2021

The second coming of Babylon 5

Hey, do you have HBO Max?  Because if you haven't heard already, all the cool kids are binging on Babylon 5.

 


Yes, THAT Babylon 5.  The Nineties-era science-fiction television epic.  The story of that five mile long space station and the people inhabiting it, "all alone in the night."  Some have argued that it might be the single greatest television series of its time.  It was certainly ahead of that time.  Had it not been for Babylon 5 breaking the path ahead, a lot of series might not have seen the light of day.  It set out to tell a story spanning the length of five seasons, and it pulled it off magnificently.

And it has received a remaster of sorts.  The video has been cleaned up and its legendary CGI effects (which I think still hold up even today) have been sharpened a bit.  All five seasons plus the two-hour pilot movie "The Gathering" are now on HBO Max.  And it has become a raging success on that platform.

Having been a fan of Babylon 5 since first hearing about it in the pages of Starlog, I am having a hoot watching the reaction of others who are just now discovering this series.  It's definitely binge-worthy, indeed it seems tailor-made for binging.  You'll want to "watch just one more" every step of the way, especially when things crank up around the mid-point of season two (if your jaw doesn't drop during "The Coming of Shadows", you need dental work).  Actually, I envy the new fans.  They don't have to spend long months waiting for the next batch of episodes to drop.  I still remember well agonizing for "The Fall of Night" and its promised reveal of a major character.  Good times, those were!

If you don't have HBO Max, the remastered series is up on iTunes also.  I bought "Midnight on the Firing Line" - the first episode of season one - and it definitely looks much better compared to the DVD (I own all five seasons plus the TV movies collection and "The Lost Tales").  Who knows, I may spring for the entire series on iTunes eventually.

So if you've a hankering for solid television that will make you think, laugh, cry, and everything in between, you can't go wrong with Babylon 5.  And if you want to delve even further into the series, the legendary Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5 is still online, looking just as it did when it appeared in 1994.  Well worth visiting its episode guide as you progress through the show, especially for the notes and commentary by series creator J. Michael Straczynski.




Saturday, January 30, 2021

Why are pro-life people so incredibly beautiful?

The annual March for Life is this weekend, albeit accommodating for the current COVID-19 situation.  Some turned out for the main event in Washington D.C. but in large part it's been a local affair.

Something I've noticed, and have for quite a long time now.  Here are some photos from today's events and one or two from last year's:




 

Notice anything about these pro-life people?  The biggest thing each of them has in common across these photos?

They are smiling.  They are joyful.  They are beautiful.

They look genuinely happy.

Now let's be clear about something.  They are together in common purpose: to end the most barbaric practice that this country and too many others sanction.  As Mother Teresa said when she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, "the greatest destroyer of peace is abortion because if a mother can kill her unborn child, what is left between you from killing me or me from killing you?  There is nothing between."

These people understand that better than too many others may care to.

But look at how beautiful they are.

Look at the light in their faces.

What is it that unites them together, above all else?

I will tell you.  It is love.  Love for one another but also, love for those they will probably never know.  Love for innocent life.

I see their faces and they are pure loveliness to behold.

And then I think back, to four years ago.  What I saw in San Diego on the day after Donald Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States.  There were "pro-women" marches in many cities.

What did I see?

It was something like this:



Let's ignore the brazen vulgarity of the signs being held aloft.  Although trust me, what I saw that day in San Diego was far worse.  There were also the women dressed in vagina costumes, but that's as far as I'm going to go in describing the spectacle.  It was NOT something that a sane person would want small children to be confronted with.

Look at the faces of these people.  How dour and downcast, and bitter, and empty of all joy they look.  If there is any emotion to be seen at all, it is anger.  They look drained and without sympathy or care.

There is no love that I see in their faces.  There is instead, well... hatred.

Hatred for others?  Could it be hatred of self?

There is darkness in those faces.

There is none of the joy and care and beauty among these pro-abortion activists, that there is in the faces of those who are pro-life.

On the basis of these photos and more like them, just by those alone... I know that I would much prefer to be counted among the pro-lifers.

Indeed, I do count myself as among them.  And I am not ashamed of that.

Because I do try to love others as I love myself.  Because I don't want anyone to be hurt by the grief and anguish of abortion.  Because I don't want the most innocent of lives to be ended within the womb.

I want my own face to be among those of the beautiful, however weary and weathered it may be.

Maybe next year I'll get to march alongside those who go forth in peace and joy, bound in the common purpose of seeing to it that all lives matter.  Because, they do.  Even the unborn.

Physical appearance, doesn't matter.  Not when there is that brilliant light in the eyes, in the smile.

I choose to do my best to have that light in my own eyes.

And I like to believe, dear reader, that however deep down, you want that light in your eyes, too.

Cicely Tyson's finest work

A few days ago came the sad word that Cicely Tyson had passed away at 96.  What an amazing career she had.  Actually, what an amazing life she lived.  Tyson arose in the entertainment industry at a pivotal moment for African-Americans in the medium of movies and television.  For her devotion to her craft she won every major award in the field, and a place of fondness in the hearts of her many fans.

So in honor of her memory, I thought it worthwhile to share what is easily her best performance.  The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman is a made-for-television movie that premiered in 1974.  Based on the novel of the same name, it tells the century-spanning story of a young girl born into slavery, who comes to witness emancipation and Reconstruction, the rise of American industry, the world wars, and ultimately her taking part in the civil rights movement at the age of 110.

It is a fascinating film.  One of the greatest to come from the made-for-TV movie genre.  Something that they just can't seem to nail this perfectly anymore.  Ideally it is a film that would be shown to every high school student.  There is a real sense of history in this movie.  So much so that The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman has often been mistaken for a true nonfiction story.  Tyson portrayed Pittman through eight decades of life, made astoundingly realistic with makeup from none other than Rick Baker and Stan Winston.

It's on YouTube.  Instead of embedding it as a playable video, I'll make it a clickable link.  This isn't the kind of movie you need to see squished up within the margins of a blog post.  Better to watch it widescreen, maybe even streaming it to your high-def set if you're set up to do that.  And as I alluded, maybe some teachers will appreciate being able to show this to their students.

Click here for The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (one hour fifty minutes)

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Joseph Biden's accomplishments during his first three days of office


Let future historians note that within 72 hours of his inauguration as President of the United States, Joseph Biden has:

- Severely raised the price of insulin by rescinding directives of Donald Trump to the Department of Health and Human Services
 
- Deployed more military forces to Iraq
 
- Deployed more military forces to Syria
 
- Eliminated some 70,000 private sector jobs
 
- Cancelled permits for the Keystone XL pipeline that would have employed thousands
 
- Broke his promise about fracking made during his campaign for president
 
- Signed executive orders which will make the United States no longer a net energy exporter and will instead place the country back to relying on foreign oil.
 
- Eliminated women’s sports...
 
-  ...and by the same stroke of a pen allowed grown men into high school girls' locker rooms
 
- Mandated the wear of mask at any federal facility... but he and his family violated that order several times following his inauguration
 
- Gave access to our power grids back to China
 
- Admitted he did not have a COVID plan
 
- Stopped the border wall construction
 
- Rejoined the Paris Accord that subjects the United States to enormous penalties while letting true polluters of the environment - such as communist China - go unpunished
 
- Made the National Guard brought in for the inauguration sleep in a freezing parking garage
 
- Allowed Red China to violate Taiwan's airspace with military aircraft and naval vessels raising tensions in the Far East.
 
- Restarted payments of American tax payer dollars to the World Health Organization
 
- Witnessed the return of terrorism from ISIS
 
- Directed a supplementing of our fuels needs from Russia and Venezuela
 
- Lifted travel ban into the United States on countries most harboring terrorists
 
- Ordered the immediate release of violent criminals from Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.

The preceding list was found on another forum, edited for some clarity.  Most of this I already knew while other things, like Biden's ordering the emptying of ICE facilities, happened just today.

In addition, the price of gasoline is set to soar following not only the Keystone line's cancellation but also Biden's plan to drastically increase federal gas taxes and maybe even a mad scheme to tax per mile traveled.

And for sake of any historians in years to come who may find these words and wonder about the mood of the moment:

There is no real prevailing sense among the people of America that there is sitting right now a President of the United States.  Many if not most people in this moment believe that Joseph Biden was not legitimately elected but instead came to power as a result of voting fraud.  I say "most" whether some of those will admit to it or not.  There is something very wrong with America right now, and we all know it.

The list I provided is just for the first three days since Biden was sworn in.  It does not inspire much confidence for the next four years.



Friday, January 15, 2021

If you only watch one YouTube video this month...

 ...make it this one.  This is GENIUS.  Wish I'd have thought of it :-D




Wednesday, January 13, 2021

A prediction

Five years from now Twitter will barely exist.  If it still does its market value will be significantly wiped out compared to today.

The board of that company needs to fire Jack Dorsey, now.

Even worse than other tech giants, Twitter is trying to be both publisher and platform.  It's not sustainably possible.  And it's heading toward disaster.

Expect an ever larger exodus of users from Twitter to competitors like Gab and Parler (the latter is supposed to be back online soon after its web services was yanked by Amazon, arguably against the terms of the service contract).

Friday, January 08, 2021

Project: Ghostbuster, Part 2

A few days ago I posted the start of my newest endeavor: the assembling together a Ghostbusters uniform and gear, as close to screen accurate as possible.  I said then that this is going to take some time and I'm not in any particular rush to get it done, but I think that's for the best.  In the end, this getup is going to kick serious paranormal boo-tay!

The jumpsuit upon which to sew my new patches is coming.  That's still going to be the first element that gets some attention.  In the meantime I put some Amazon gift cards received for Christmas to good use.  Check out this bad boy that arrived this afternoon:


The officially licensed Spirit brand Ghostbusters Deluxe Replica Proton Pack.  Easily the most accurate reproduction of the Ghostbusters' signature piece of equipment available in mass production.  And we are going to upgrade this out the wazoo.  Painting, adding new lights, replacing some wires and cabling, mounting it on a military-grade backpack frame... this is the basic model and by the time we're done it's going to be the fully-loaded GT.  The only really glaring inaccuracy is that it's about 20% smaller than the packs used in the Ghostbusters movies.  But I figure that as technology improved over time it meant that the tools were able to reduce in size.  That's how I'm figuring it, until one day when I break down and spend about $900 to go all the way.  Until then, the Spirit proton pack is the way to go.

Next up: the jumpsuit.


Wednesday, January 06, 2021

My most serious prediction ever

Make a note of this.  January the Sixth, Two Thousand and Twenty-One.  Just before 1 p.m. EST.

If I'm wrong about this I'll eat my fedora.  No really, I will.

Here it is:

I do declare that four years from today, the United States will be in the WORST condition it has been in, in at least the past fifty years.

Hold me to this.  Do it.

I am dead-#@%$ serious.

Friday, January 01, 2021

Project: Ghostbuster, Part 1

Ed bedecked in finest Ghostbusters attire
Blame Ed Woody: one of my besties/occasional filmmaking collaborator/partner in crime (incidentally his little girl just turned one year old :-).

You see, for the past number of years I've been watching as Ed assembled his screen-quality Ghostbusters uniform.  It looks AMAZING up close and in person.  The pics do it no justice.  Just about every minutiae of detail has been replicated on his getup.  Right down to the yellow hose, which for some reason I've never noticed before.  As you can see it features the signature proton pack with neutrona wand (with modifications that make the prop light up).  And as you can see Ed has even added the special goggles that we see Ray Stantz wearing in the movie.

It is an astounding piece of work.  And ever since watching the results emerge from Ed's labors, I began to wonder if I could also have my own Ghostbusters costume.  I realized that I did.  It would be fun for the two of us to go out and bust some heads (metaphysically speaking of course).  And there are "franchises" - fan groups in many geographical areas - where people with uniforms and props do things like visit children's hospitals and help with charity work.  That would also be a fun use for a Ghostbusters outfit.

So on Christmas day, during a Facetime on our phones I opened the box that Ed and his family sent me for Christmas.  And look what was inside:

 

Not only a patch of the Ghostbusters logo, but a custom-made name patch.

Did Ed have any concept of the terrible, terrible beast he has unleashed?  But, there's no going back.  I gotta do something with those patches.  They look terrific!  Especially the "KNIGHT" one.

So with the patches in hand, I have decided to embark on a new project that will be chronicled on this blog: the putting together, piece by piece, of a set of Ghostbusters uniform and accompanying tools.

It's not going to be overnight.  Actually, I don't want it to be immediately.  Having a Jedi Knight costume was simple.  This is going to be much more intricate and involved.  It's going to be a study in detail and function.  It will likely take a few years before it's anywhere near complete.  But it's going to be fun.

So, what I have are two patches: the very start of the project.  The goal now is to build up the uniform beneath them.  Until at last there is going to be a photo of me wearing my own Ghostbusters costume.

It's already begun.  Since getting the patches I've spent much of the past week looking at the work of others, and catching details I'd never noticed at all before (like the "belt gizmo").  Last night I watched the original 1984 film, only this time casting a studious eye upon the costumes that Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson are wearing.  I noticed things that I'd never given any thought to before, like the frame upon which the proton pack sits.

This is going to take at least a year, maybe two.  But I think the results are going to be worth it.

First item we'll be working on: the jumpsuit.  I'm about to order it.  Let's see what those patches look like on real clothing.  Let's also see if I can sew them on without jabbing my finger with the needle.

Stay tuned.  There will be more to come.







Yay! Happy New Year!

Now, let us NEVER do that again.


EDIT 12:30 am EST:  As an aside, this blog saw 69 posts made during 2020.  That's the most since 2015!  Yes, The Knight Shift IS thriving again :-)

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Playing Christmas music... after Christmas


Today is December 30th.  And there is a major radio station nearby that is still playing wall to wall Christmas music.  My supervisor told me that they don't stop until New Year's Day.

At first I thought that was a little overkill.  Something that I touched upon in a post from last year.  I still believe that starting up the Christmas season earlier and earlier makes the entire year go by much too fast.

But while listening to the music while dining out last night (I still think that "Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time" by Paul McCartney sounds too much like the theme from A Clockwork Orange), it gradually dawned on me: that letting the songs play on after Christmas Day, is truly honoring the holiday and everything about it.

And the more I ponder it, the more I like it.  There is something just very right about letting Christmas run its course.  It shouldn't come to an abrupt halting stop on Christmas Night, take down the ornaments until next year.  Christmas Day should be the centerpiece of something larger.  It's better to have that day, and then enjoy the rest at a nice, easy pace.  Letting it wind down in peace, instead of making the big shopping to-do on the day after Christmas.

I don't know if playing Christmas music is something that should carry on through the full Twelve Days of Christmas, but it could still lead up to New Year's Day.  And when you think about it, that brings us gentiles on equal footing in comparison to our Jewish brethren and their eight days of Hanukah!

Maybe in years to come we will come to appreciate Christmas as but the most significant of an entire period of joy and celebration.  It is certainly something that I will be mindful of and endeavoring to honor.  And hey, it gives all the more compelling reason to keep watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation after the presents have been unwrapped.

Monday, December 21, 2020

The Winter Solstice Conjunction of 2020


 

Tonight is the Great Conjunction with Jupiter and Saturn. It's visible just over the south-westsern horizon, and will be there for a little while longer if you want to catch it. This pic was taken by my friend Steven Glaspie. His phone camera is a bit better than mine :-)