Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Let's ring in the New Year with style!

It's none other than Grandpa Jones and his lovely wife Ramona doing something truly amazing with a whole bunch of cowbells...


Dare I do it? Dare I?!?

I can't resist...
more cowbell, cowbells, christopher walken, saturday night live, the bruce dickinson, blue oyster cult, dont fear the reaper
"I gotta fever!  And the only prescription is MORE COWBELL!"
 If you don't know who Grandpa Jones was, you need some educatin' in the worst way!  Louis Marshall Jones was a longtime fixture on country music radio and the Grand Ol' Opry.  He picked up his stage name when he worked at WBZ in Boston and was playfully called "Grandpa" because he was so cranky in the mornings.  Jones decided to make an act of it.  That was 1935 and Jones was "Grandpa Jones" all the way up to his passing in 1998.  He's long been regarded as one of the greatest banjo players ever.

And he even played cowbell!  And more of it! :-)

This year's DOCTOR WHO Christmas special: What DID Chris think of "The Time of the Doctor"?

I loved it!!  But first...

If if was nothing else, it had to be said: 2013 was the Year of the Doctor.

The anticipation for Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary ramped up fast after the year began.  The coming of Jenna Coleman's Clara as a regular companion certainly started things off nice.  Some of the ensuing half-season was a little touch and go, but otherwise it proceeded in fine style...

...and then came "The Name of the Doctor".

More than half a year later, in spite of everything that we've watched since, I'm still feeling numbstruck by the season finale (find my review here).  Throughout the ensuing summer and fall I think a lot of us were tormented with the thought: had Steven Moffat finally lost it?!  For the first time ever Doctor Who seemed poised to derail completely.  The image of that unknown incarnation of the Doctor, "the one who broke the promise", turning to show us the grizzled visage of John Hurt and those big letters onscreen letting us know in no uncertain terms "this IS the Doctor!!" is one that will forever be burned into my pop cultural gray matter.

But "The Day of the Doctor" - the fiftieth anniversary special - restored all faith in Moffat as a showrunner.  No, more than that: Moffat is arguably the finest custodian of Whovian mythology we have seen since... well, maybe since before John Nathan-Turner's era.  "The Day of the Doctor" was everything an anniversary celebration should be: a "love letter" to the fans, a story that drastically expanded the Whoniverse and top it all off it was a story that totally changed the course of the series.  For eight years we've seen the Doctor as a scarred and wounded veteran of the Time War: a man haunted by the choices he had to make in order to keep all hell from breaking loose across the width and breadth of creation.

The Doctor is a wounded man no more.  Now he's a man with the greatest mission of his life: to find Gallifrey.

Well played, Moffat.  Well played indeed!  And that appearance by Tom Baker was the prettiest bow that a gift to the fans could possibly have had.

It was early summer that Matt Smith announced he would be retiring in this year's Christmas special, handing the role of the Doctor to a new actor.  And then came August, and the massive hype about the reveal of the next Doctor: a part that we found would be filled by Peter Capaldi.  So coming on the heels of the fiftieth anniversary special, this year's Christmas story had to be a fitting swan song for the Eleventh Doctor and for the actor who reigned during the most explosive popularity of the entire franchise... and ring in the new with the Twelfth Doctor.  A lot to live up to, no doubt...

So... what did I think of "The Time of the Doctor"?

It was not perfect.  But... yes, I loved every minute of it!

It's glaringly obvious that Moffat was trying to shoehorn in a lot of material that likely had been intended for another season with Matt Smith as the Doctor, in an attempt to tie up all the loose ends since the Doctor last regenerated.  Even so, I think it was as good a job as could possibly have been done.  Ironically this is also the Doctor Who story that covers a bigger span of chronological time than any other previous: more than 300 years, from the time the Doctor and Clara first arrive in the town of Christmas up to the final showdown with the Daleks attacking Trenzalore.  Yes, it would have been fun to have seen all of this unfold over another season... but we still got a great tale and a fitting Christmas special at that.

Did anyone else think that the very-aged Doctor hearkened back to William Hartnell as the Doctor?  Because I can't but think that maybe the First Doctor, in his younger days, was much like the Matt Smith we have witnessed during the past four years: Smith wanted his Doctor to be "an old man in a young man's body".  Now we've seen him play the Doctor as a young man in an old man's body... and for some reason it makes Hartnell's First Doctor... well, more modern-ish Doctor, if that makes any sense.  In any case it was a terrific and bold direction to take the Doctor in his final journey with the part.

One of the bigger mysteries of Doctor Who is one that was set up all the way back in "The Deadly Assassin" nearly forty years ago: how would the "twelve regenerations" limit be dealt with?  This was one of my favorite things about "The Time of the Doctor": Moffat showing us that the twelve regenerations have already transpired, because they included the Tenth Doctor's little stunt in "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End".  We don't have to wait until Capaldi decides to turn in the keys to the TARDIS: that little matter is now dealt with, presumably for the next fifty years or so.  At the end of which the Time Lords will probably decide they need the Doctor to stick around forever and just max out his life limit.

And speaking of regenerations: Matt Smith's was the best ever.  Yeah, I said it.  I'll always love David Tennant's bow but in retrospect that seemed a bit too sentimental, perhaps owing to how Russel T. Davies had the Tenth Doctor revisiting all the major characters from the Davies era.  There was no such gesture in "The Time of the Doctor", and yet Matt Smith's departure was far more poignant and heartbreaking.  During his final speech to Clara it was as if Smith was breaking the fourth wall and talking to us in the audience, telling us how much he appreciated his time as the Doctor and how thankful he was for our embracing him in the role.

It was by far the greatest regeneration scene in the history of the series.  It was the one by which all future regenerations will be measured, I think.  And Matt Smith left in a bang: everything from Clara's finding the Doctor in his rocking chair on through the regeneration itself is pure storytelling gold.  The scene of the Doctor atop the bell tower, raging defiantly against the Daleks ("We're breaking some serious science here, boys!" as he proclaims "Regeneration Number Thirteen... it's gonna be a whopper!" will go down as one of the most iconic Doctor Who moments ever).

The very last moments, when the Eleventh Doctor has that vision of Amy (a very touching cameo from Karen Gillan) and the Doctor letting his beloved bow tie fall to the floor of the TARDIS... that was the moment when the tears came, if they hadn't already.  I don't think anything else could have been as perfect a final moment as that...

But as soon as the crying finally hit, we got hit with the shock of Peter Capaldi's uber-manic entrance as the Twelfth Doctor.  It was the fastest regeneration ever and by far the most bewildering.  I mean, when your new Doctor's first words are "KIDNEYS!  I've got new kidneys!" you just know that there's some severe craziness incoming.

Matt Smith, thank you.  Because of you Doctor Who is bigger than it has ever been before.  And because of you, bow ties have never been cooler!  I'm the owner of an official Doctor Who bow tie... and I will be wearing it with pride for many years to come.

Eleven's time has drawn to a close.  Now bring on the Twelfth!

"The Time of the Doctor" gets 4 and 1/2 Sonic Screwdrivers out of 5 from this blogger.  And it's going to be a long, long wait until next fall when Doctor Who returns.  Maybe if we're good Moffat and his crew will give us another mini-episode like "The Night of the Doctor".  Please Mister Moffat, please??

Oh yeah, one last thing: bring back Handles!  Handles was one of the best companions ever!!  If the Doctor can fix K-9 then surely he can fix Handles.  Handles was awesome! :-)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

It occurred to me a few days ago that I had yet to post the traditional Christmas piece this year.  I don't have any particular reason why that shouldn't be done this year, except that in many ways this... well, it's not the usual Christmas for me.

It was two years ago, three days after Christmas, that my mother passed away.  But it's only been in the past few weeks that I've let that sink in, found myself able to let go of lingering matters that were there.  I got through Christmas last year because of some things that aren't there this year.  Absent those, this is at last the holiday season that I'm letting myself be confronted with that loss (and a number of others).

I'm not going to avoid them.  It's time to let them confront me and for me to come out the better for it.  That's happening already.

A few weeks ago I had myself voluntarily admitted to a psychiatric hospital.  I had to do it because my life had become completely unmanageable.  It was severe depression, to a far worse degree than I've ever endured.  It was also because the medication I've been on to treat the bipolar needed some drastic adjustment.  I spent a week there, spending most of my time studying my Bible.  And prayer, lots of prayer.

I had to do it because the depression was taking a toll on my personal life, my work, everything.  Had I not done that, well... I don't like to contemplate what might have happened.  But I did address it and I don't think there's any weakness or shame in admitting it.  And I came out of it much stronger than I had been before.  God brought me through it.  He really did.  I can't claim any part of that victory for myself.  I could write a book about the things I went through in the hospital, especially at night.  God brought me through each night, just as He brought me through this night.  Just as He is still bringing me through it.  I won't dare boast of any of that for my own.

Long story short: I'm not having any Christmas presents this year.  I'm too much thankful for the things God has given me already than to want anything that I don't have.  It took me a long time to really find the contentment that comes with His grace and to relent unto His will, His timing.

Maybe that'll make what come next on this post have more meaning than ever.

It was my best friend Chad who asked this morning if I was doing the traditional Christmas post on this blog.  After some thought about it, I'm going through with it.  Hard to believe I wrote this fifteen years ago this month, in the last issue before the holiday break.

So here it is, again, one of my favorite pieces from the old college days and something of a tradition on The Knight Shift...


Originally published in The Pendulum, Elon University, 12/03/1998

Celebrating the Christmas season means celebrating the memories

Chris Knight
Columnist

     Some of the best memories that we take through life are about the times we cherish the most. And sometimes, it doesn’t take much to bring back the joy.
     Last Friday as I was driving around Greensboro, the all-time coolest Christmas song ever came over the speakers.
     Who knows what this genius recording artist’s name is? Does it really matter? Whoever he is, he’ll forever be remembered as giving us the immortal sound of “Dogs Singing Jingle Bells”:

Arf arf arf,
Arf arf arf,
Arf Arf Whoof Whoof Whuf…

     Ahh... you know how it goes.
     And there’s the ever-beuh-beuh-beauh-beautiful rendition of Porky Pig singing “Blue Christmas” and the Chipmunks and of course “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Christmas at Ground Zero,” but hearing those dogs singing “Jingle Bells...” ahhhhh.
     It brought me back to the very first time I heard that: on the radio coming back from school just before Christmas in 1982. I was in third grade at the time. And it brought back memories of the Christmas we had.
     It was cold and very cloudy. I remember that because Santa had brought me a telescope and I didn’t get to use it that night. Which wasn’t too big a worry, ‘cause me and my sister had our brand-new Atari 2600 to play with!
     Another Christmas memory: To this day, I’ll never forgive Anita for the pounding she gave me in “Combat.” I don’t care how fancy Sega or the Playstation get... they’ll never touch the 4-bit pleasures of the Atari!
     There have been many a Christmas since then, and I remember each one well, for all the little things they had with them.
     I’ll never forget Mom and Dad taking me and my sister to see Santa Claus at the mall in ‘84. That morning Dad asked if I’d come with him to cut firewood, so we rode the tractor into the woods. There had been snow earlier in the week, which lay around us in the crisp, cold morning.
     Dad also brought his 30-30 rifle, why I still don’t know. After we had the wood loaded, Dad asked if I wanted to try shootin’ the gun.
     There I was, a ten-year old kid, holding what looked like an anti-aircraft cannon in my tiny hands. Well, I aimed at this tree like Dad told me to, and pulled the trigger.
     To this day I cannot describe the colors that flashed before my eyes, or the sound in my ears. When my existence finally returned, I was flat on my back in the snow, and blood was gushing from between my eyes where the scope had hit my nose from the backfire.
     That night Santa saw the bandages and said “Ho ho hoooo, and what happened to you, little fellow?”
     “I got shot, Santa,” was the only thing I knew to say.
     Hey, was I gonna lie to the Big Man? Uh-uh, no way was I gonna lose all that loot!
     The following year’s Christmas I remember for many things, but especially feeding the young calves on our farm. It would be the last year our family would be running a dairy farm, and I had started helping with some of the work around the barn.
     Dad set up a Christmas tree in the milking room, with wrapped-up boxes beneath it.
     Tinsel hung from the front doors of the barn. And there was something about the feel of the place there, that has always held a special place in my heart, as if we knew that there would not be another Christmas like this one.
     I wish there had been another Christmas on the farm, because there’s something I wish I could have seen. And as silly as some people might find this, I really believe that it happens.
     You see, if you go out at midnight on Christmas Eve, you will see all the animals in the farmyard, and in the fields, and in the forests, and wherever else they may be, stop where they are.
     And then they kneel.
     They kneel in remembrance for another night, long ago. It was Christmas, but how many people could know it then?
     Nothing remarkable, to be sure: Caesar had decreed a census through the land, and each man went with his family to his town.
     One man in particular took his wife, a young woman quick with child. But there was no room for them at the inn. So that night, in a dirty and filthy stable and surrounded by animals, a child was born.
     You see, it’s easy for us to forget. At this time of the year, we are too overwhelmed by the consumption and the material and the glitter and all the customs that come with Christmas.
     And it’s too easy for us to forget that Christmas is, before everything else, a birthday.
     But the animals, who watched over Him as He lay as a newborn babe, two millenia ago... the animals have not forgotten.
     And so they kneel every Christmas and give glory to the newborn king, and in awe that God would send His Son to live among us in the greatest act of love.
     And to teach us many things, but especially to “love one another”. And to bridge the gap between man and God.
     The birth of Jesus Christ: the greatest Christmas present there will ever be. His birth, which would give mankind the greatest present it could ever ask for.
     Who in the world on that night could know the price that this present would someday have?
     Heaven and Earth sang praises to His glory on that night. The animals have always remembered that night. And Heaven and Earth still praise and sing unto Him.
     And if you only take a little time out from how busy things become at this part of the year, you can hear the singing, too. And it is a great temptation to join in that chorus.
     And perhaps in hearing, we will not forget the real meaning of Christmas, either.
     This Christmas Eve night I plan to be outside, with the same telescope that I got for Christmas all those years ago, and trying to envision a bright star over Bethlehem. Around midnight, I’m going to take a walk over to my aunt’s farm.
     Merry Christmas. Peace on Earth, and goodwill toward men.


Dedicated to the memory of W.C. “Mutt” Burton, for whom Christmas was always “In My Bones.”

Friday, December 20, 2013

THE TICK's very special Christmas episode!

I will go to my grave believing that the Nineties gave us the best television animated series that have ever been produced.  Think about it: Tiny Toons, Gargoyles, X-Men... and of course Batman: The Animated Series, a show that forever raised the bar and redefined what cartoons were capable of.

But of all those shows and more, it's The Tick that holds the most special place in my heart from that era.

Based on Ben Edlund's underground comic book, The Tick premiered in 1994, ran for three seasons and stunned everyone with its unique style of superhero parody and screwball comedy.  The Tick was the one show I made a point to always watch on Saturday mornings (even if I worked late the previous night and was low on sleep).  It was such a big influence on me that when I finally got Internet access for the first time, the very first screen name I used was "The Man Eating Cow".

Anyway a lot of shows - including the animated ones - put on a Christmas-themed episode, and The Tick was no exception.  Of course, the one we got wasn't like those of other series.  So far as holiday episodes go, the only one that remotely approaches The Tick's entry is the "Turkeys Away" episode of W.K.R.P in Cincinnati.  It's just too whacked for words to adequately convey.

So without further ado, here from December 1995 is Tick fighting Multiple Santa in... "The Tick Loves Santa!":


"Ho Ho Ho, make them work! Ho Ho Ho, make them work!"

They just can't make humor like that anymore.

All I intend to say about A&E firing Phil Robertson...

A&E fired the star of not just its #1-rated series, but the top-rated series in the history of cable television.

That's not just shooting yourself in the foot; that's chainsawing your leg off at the hip.

This will go down as the stoopidest move in television programming history.  He could have been less crass about it, but Robertson said nothing any more offensive than the vast majority of other series.  Based on Robertson's comments, I'd say that he's expressing the heart of a true Christian: love God, and love each other.  When Phil Robertson said that he has no hate toward anyone else and that God created each of us equal and loves us in spite of how wayward we go from Him, I can't but trust his heart on the matter.

Let's say this for what it really is: Phil Robertson and the rest of his family on Duck Dynasty are coming under attack because they won't endorse the homosexual lifestyle.  This isn't about "intolerance" on Phil's part: if anything it's the people at GLAAD and the Human Rights Initiative that are being intolerant toward others.

This is about perhaps, at most, 3% of the population demanding that it's not enough that their lifestyle be accepted, but that it also must be admired.

Phil Robertson can't do that.  Neither can I.

Gay, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders are not a "persecuted" class of people.  They have no basis to claim being oppressed or attacked.  All they have in the public arena of ideas is proclaiming themselves to be victims demanding attention and sympathy.

Please, somebody tell me: how is one man shoving his penis up another man's anus an act requiring sympathy and compassion on my part?

Okay, maybe I could have been less crass there, too.  But ya gotta admit: Phil Robertson is only asking what has been on the minds of a vast number of people.  Certainly more than the number of militant homosexual lobbyists now crying for Robertson blood.

Car made out of LEGO bricks... and it's drivable!

Proving once again that LEGO building is more than aesthetic art but also fully functional, an Australian and Romanian duo has constructed a life-sized roadster out of the celebrated toy bricks. And it just doesn't sit there: you can drive it too!

It's not all LEGO: though the company makes tiny rubber tires for the minifig-scale vehicles, it's yet to enter the market in competition with Michelin or Goodyear.  But that detail aside, the Super Awesome Micro Project funded and built by Australian Steve Sommarito and Romanian Raul Oaida is practically 100% LEGO blocks.  Total number of pieces: about half a million.

According to the news article, "the car uses compressed air to turn 256 pistons in four rotary engines — all made of Legos. Total construction time: 18 months, for a cost of about $40,000."  It's not quite as big as the full-size X-Wing Fighter made of 5.3 million LEGO blocks, but hey: at least this baby can actually take you places!

Crash here for more about the Super Awesome Micro Project's LEGO hot rod.  And thanks to "Weird" Ed Woody for the heads-up!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Okay, no more Doctor Who for awhile...

At least not until this year's Christmas special, "The Time of the Doctor".

But after watching the fiftieth anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor" for the dozen-ish time, the part where Clara asked the Doctor about what his promise was kept resonating with me.  And since I'm up at a crazy hour working, I took a break and did this:

doctor who, the day of the doctor, the promise, war doctor, tenth doctor, eleventh doctor

For fifty years we have wanted to know what the Doctor's real name is.

That is the closest we will - and should - ever get to it.

And it's not a bad promise for anyone to make, when you think about it.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

The most bestest scene from "The Day of the Doctor"

"The Day of the Doctor" became a truly epic event: the kind of cultural milestone ranking up there with the premiere of Star Wars in 1977, Woodstock and the final episode of M*A*S*H.  The day after the fiftieth anniversary special of Doctor Who aired, Guinness certified it as the most-watched simulcast of a dramatic presentation ever.

I purchased "The Day of the Doctor" from iTunes as soon as it was made available and have watched it all the way through twice and some scenes many times.  And they were plentiful: "NO MORE", the Moment, the tribute to past companions (including Captain Jack Harkness, and why are River Song's red high-heels hanging there anyway??) in the Black Archive, all of those TARDISes that swooped out of nowhere, that very fleeting glimpse - with an anger and determination that would cower Hell itself - of the Twelfth Doctor's eyes, finally seeing the regeneration that produced the Ninth Doctor, the dream sequence of the Eleventh Doctor joining his previous lives as they look toward Gallifrey, all accompanied by a majestic score by Murray Gold...

All very wonderful.  Very beautiful.  Steven Moffat and his team pulled off what can only be described as the perfect Doctor Who story for the fiftieth anniversary.  One loaded with iconic scenes that have already become beloved by fans.

But there was one scene that stood tallest of them all.

It was the scene that most paid homage to where The Doctor has gone before while setting the stage for that which is yet to come.  The scene that sent Doctor Who fans worldwide into a collective gasp followed by screams of wild rejoicing.  And certainly what will prove to be the most pivotal scene of the series since its revival in 2005.

Here it is again for your viewing pleasure...


That surely will go down as the high point of Matt Smith's career as the Eleventh Doctor.  You just can't top sharing a scene with Tom Baker: the one who will, for many of us, forever be "my favorite Doctor".

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Broken

Three years ago I went through what I had thought - at the time - was the darkest, deepest abyss that a person could ever experience. It was a turmoil that I would never wish upon a worst enemy.

It came about because my managing the bipolar brought me to a place where I could finally be aware of the very horrible things that I did. Because of bipolar disorder... but that's not an excuse for my actions. Like any other disease, a person has to take responsibility for it and everything associated with it.

It took two years, leading up to that point, before I could understand what had happened. I can sum up my realization no better than this: "Dear God, what have I done?"

To get hit like that with final comprehension of the pain I had inflicted, the people I had hurt, what it had cost me... It was like a bomb had been dropped into my heart and finally detonated, shattering everything.

Everything.

It was during the long months after when I went public with my bipolar. But most people never saw what was really transpiring on this side of the screen during that time: the nights of crying (literally) out to God, praying to be forgiven. Praying for reconciliation. Praying that I might somehow make up for it all. Asking Him to please bring peace to my heart and quiet to my mind.

That was three years ago. Since then, my control of the bipolar has become much better. Not "perfect". It will never be "perfect". It's like golf: the only way you could ever seriously beat a golf course is if you managed to make a hole-in-one on every hole. I don't think Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer ever pulled that off, even...

Eventually, most of the people I sought forgiveness from granted it. Some things I had prayed for however did not happen. Even so God has brought me a long, long way in three years. In one year, even. I cannot but be thankful for that.

And yet here I am, on Thanksgiving weekend, much like it was in 2010, and I'm spending it crying out to God. Again.

"Dear God, what have I done?"

This time, it's worse. Much, much worse. And I'll tell you why...

I have come to a place where I see how bipolar clouded and distorted my sympathy toward others. That it made me fail to see how precious every life... every life... is. How we are all made by God and in our own way, waging a difficult battle that requires His grace.

And now I see how there were too many times when I neglected that. In my writing. In my actions. In too many other facets of my life. And again, it has cost me.

Again, it has broken me.

Three years ago I read the Book of Job over and over. It evoked a comfort - along with other scripture - that God is with us in the midst of our grieving. I have read Job at least three times during the past few days.

I don't know why God allowed me to have this condition. It was something I was born with: something that I have discovered runs in an entire side of my family (Dad was thankfully spared). Once it's encoded in your DNA there's nothing to be done but hope the genome doesn't activate. I lost that particular roll of the dice. I'll have to abide this for the rest of my life. Have to keep my own mind in check lest it turns against me.

I have to hold on to the hope that for all of this pain, God has His hands involved and is working through it. For what purpose, I cannot fathom.

I have barely... barely... cried tears for well over the past two years. It was probably a combination of the bipolar and some of the medication I've been taking to manage it. I held Mom's hand as she passed away and I spoke at her funeral and not once the entire time did the critical connection get made that allowed me to weep tears for my own mother no longer being in my life.

The past two weeks have seen me cry harder, and more tears, than I could have across the past decade previous. Crying in prayer. Crying in the presence of friends. Crying myself to sleep.

What have I been crying about? Everything. Most especially the hurts and insults and petty vindictiveness that I have inflicted too many times in my life.

I'll give you an example. Most readers know how little in regard I hold the Transportation Security Administration. I still think the TSA and the entire Department of Homeland Security is a colossal waste of money and a violator of citizens' rights. But that should not include extending that sentiment toward individual employees!

A year and a half ago, I did that. It was while flying out of the airport in Portland, Oregon. I saw an opportunity to abuse a TSA agent, only because I allowed my thoughts to fixate on the TSA's own abuses. And then I allowed the lesser angels of my nature to act.

While sparing the details, I will say this: Yours Truly, Robert Christopher Knight, was a complete jerk and a total asshole.

And on the off chance that this particular TSA agent ever reads this: I sincerely apologize. I should never have done that. You were only doing your job. I made it harder the it should be. I can't go and take back what I did, but I do apologize for it.

I am grieving also because of how I have used this blog in the past to attack some people. There is one in particular, a certain local board of education member, who I previously apologized to in a blog post. He accepted the apology and I am extremely thankful for that. But even so, I can't ignore the fact that I was not acting like a follower of Christ should. I can't ignore it now.

Every hurt, every insult, every spiteful thought... has come crashing down on me. So many people in my lifetime that I was petty toward, unsympathetic toward, even jealous of... and I'm just now realizing it.

Do I grieve for what I have lost? I'd be lying if I denied it. But I grieve more terribly for the apathy and disregard I have shown others.

Why did God let me have bipolar? And why is it that in the process of getting better control over it, I also find myself so severely confronted by my own fallen nature?

Why am I so broken?

I am broken now, again. And... I don't know what to do anymore. The world suddenly seems filled with nothing but cruelty and misery. People hurting and even killing each other for cheap electronics and designer fashions. People on the brink of losing almost everything they've earned because of government mandates represented by a crippled website. People preaching hate in the name of God and other people preaching hate in the name... of all things... humanity.

For the first time I'm seeing the world for what it is, and it has broken me.

Why couldn't I have been allowed to see it before? Have a chance to... I don't know... at least adapt to it. Figure out how to survive in it?

Would I have done better, then? Could I have found myself at this point in my life prosperous, with a real home and a family of my own?

Is this ultimately what bipolar disorder has cost me? Failing to see the world in all its fallen glory, unable to cope with it?

Is this my greatest failure as someone living on this Earth?

I could have gone my entire life with the blinders still on. Three years ago I could have remained blissfully unaware of the hurt I had caused others. Instead I was untimely ripped into birth of conscience, and now in 2013 born again in this brave new world...

And it has broken me.

There have been very few times where I have had any peace during the past several weeks. This afternoon brought one of them. My lifelong friend, Chad Austin, came to visit. He played with Tammy the Pup for the first time, and it lightened my heart to see it. And then Chad and I went to eat pizza.

Chad has been closer than a brother to me. His prayers (as well as those of many others) have sustained me during this time. During our late lunch he mentioned something that I've found myself clinging to desperately these days and weeks...

That this world is not our home. That we are meant to be only passing through it. That there is a Place far better, far more wonderful, than we can possibly imagine.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

-- Romans 8:18-25


I am broken. I will always be broken, in this broken world. I suffer and it is not only my flesh that groans in pain, but my own mind.

What is getting me through this long dark night of my soul, presently? It is knowing that this isn't where I'm supposed to be. And it's not where I'm going to be, forever.

For there will come a time when my mind and body will be healed. Made new. My mind will never again know bipolar!

I will be broken no more.

And in that Place, all of those who I have loved and hurt along the way will at last know how much I did love them, in spite of my earthen mind. And there will be no goodbyes... forever.

"It is a dream I have..."

Friday, November 29, 2013

It's not the zombie apocalypse...

...but it's close enough:

Dawn of the Dead, Black Friday, Thanksgiving, 2013

Going out on the night of the holiday when we give thanks for what we've been blessed with, and then to stomp and trample on others to get things we don't have and don't need, with money we can't really afford to spend.

It's worse than anything George Romero envisioned.

Thanks to Drew McOmber for finding that graphic.

A prayer of thanks

"My God, I have never thanked thee for my thorn. I have thanked thee a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorn. Teach me the glory of my cross, teach me the value of my thorn. Show me that I have climbed to thee by the path of my pain. Show me that my tears have made my rainbows."
-- George Matheson
Rob Mancuso, a very dear friend and brother in Christ since college, shared that prayer with me this evening.  I am going to share it here too, with others who may also need some comfort right now.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Just watched DOCTOR WHO: THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR

For various reasons, it was a very hard thing for me to get through and watch this.  Part of me wanted to "sit it out".  But I knew that later, however rough things are now, that I would come to regret it if I didn't.

I've been watching Doctor Who for a very long time and I've been blogging about the show ever since it first re-started in 2005, back when a lot of us had to bootleg it across the Internets after transmission in Great Britain.

I can't abandon something just like that, something I've come to care for and appreciate so much.  Something that I've been thankful has been there.  No matter how hard it becomes.  No matter how painful it is to face.  When you love something, you stay with it even if you grieve at times  You endure for it.

I can't leave something wonderful and then just ignore it as if it never happened.

So I need to say something about the Fiftieth Anniversary special, "The Day of the Doctor".

Here it is:

It was perfect.

Absolutely, fantastically perfect.

I can't think of how this mega-special story could have been any better.

And I especially loved "the Curator" at the end.

This is a story that actually gives me personal hope, about things past and things still to come.

I needed to see this.

Thank you, Steven Moffat, Matt Smith, David Tennant, Jenna-Louise Coleman, John Hurt, Billie Piper, William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston... and that one fellow who's eyes were the only thing we saw.

Friday, November 22, 2013

I can't do this

I can't do this.  It's not right.

I can't do this without.

My heart is tearing apart.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

DOCTOR WHO overload? There's no such thing!!

Awright, 'fess up: How many others out there have their TV's tuned to nothing but BBC America all this past week?

This has become the single greatest week of television broadcasting in the history of anything.  Apart from an hour of BBC News early in the morning, it has been wall-to-wall Doctor Who.  And I have not got nearly enough of it.  The network even ran "Pyramids of Mars" from the Tom Baker era on Monday afternoon, followed soon after by the 1996 Doctor Who television movie.

My workload has been packed with freelance projects.  If I'm not watching it directly I've still had BBC America on the tube as I write and research.  It makes for excellent (or should that be Cyberman style and pronounced "EKS-selent"?) background noise, even inspiring.  Although the past few nights I must confess that my dreams keep getting invaded by Daleks screaming "Exterminate!  Exterminate!  EXTERMINATE!"

It's understandable that the Beeb is showing mostly the episodes of the revived era, from Christopher Eccleston's Ninth Doctor, David Tennant's run as the Tenth Doctor and Matt Smith's turn as the Eleventh Doctor.  But all of The Doctor's generations have been healthily represented in specials, from the "cosmic hobo" that Patrick Troughton made The Doctor in his second life to the Scottish-accented master strategist Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor.  Along with a whole honkin' heap of programming, such as The Science of Doctor Who.

This hasn't even been the anniversary proper.  That kicks off tomorrow, which includes the premiere of the documentary drama An Adventure in Space and Time starring David Bradley as William Hartnell: the Doctor who first brought us aboard the TARDIS.

And then on Saturday, at 2:50 p.m. EST, broadcast worldwide simultaneously, the Fiftieth Anniversary mega-episode: "The Day of the Doctor".  With Matt Smith's Eleventh and David Tennant's Doctors sharing the screen for the first time... along with a Doctor whose incarnation we had never known before: "The War Doctor" portrayed by John Hurt.

It is as Peter Capaldi - soon to be the Twelfth Doctor - has said: "The geek have inherited the Earth."

So if you haven't caught it yet, tune in to BBC America.  And leave it there.  Until after Sunday, when the Doctor Who-intense programming ends.  Do it.  Or perish in flame.  It's your choice.  But, not really.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Wasteland

Ashes, ashes,
Hope dared for collapsing in the hand
I sit this throne of wrenched heart
In my kingdom of the wasteland

A glimpse of joy, of Heavn'ly tempt
I beheld across the sand
Chasing, chasing, toward earthen-circled bliss
Nought but mirage, Siren song, to my place among the wasteland

Beloved, beloved,
Cross'd hell did I for thy hand
But a plight betrayed, by wretched mind
Made lock'd unto the wasteland

Rejoice! Rejoice!
My Quest'd prize was 'tlast at hand
The road assured, with gay apace
To long-wont sweet and restful land

My tryst was kept, my virtue true
Devout to God's command
Trusted I, brought through lonely toil
To my lady's side, be stand

With Providence prais'd, with thanking hymn
Knelt I, with heav'nward hand
A song of joy, of grateful heart
My psalm be surely grand!

Yet at the last, my prize beheld
And sweat'd brow be fanned
Ambush'd was I, by devil'd brain
Wrought long ago proband

My oldest foe, with ceaseless stalk
Upon my mind be bran'd
A blight, a demon, damn'd mania
Does becalm'd thought disband

Cry I have, to Heaven high
For an answer, would I demand
Can't thorn in flesh, not precious mind
Be I allow'd withstand?

No answer come, prayer be in vain
And nought be countermand
Is grace enough, to have the strength
That unquiet mind be strand?

Striv'n I, have I, sought my best
To serve the worthy Lamb
Are thoughts awry my cross to bear
For all my days be spann'd?

Is happy home upon this Earth
Denied my seeking hand?
No child of mine, no warm embrace
Would turbulent mind demand

And all my dreams, asunder torn
A mercy plea cannot summand
Driv'n I, I am, from friends and love
To ruin-strewn hinterland

And here I rule, a maddened place
Damn'd brain does dare demand
That I be lord and master bound
To reign this lonely land

Ashes, ashes,
Hope dared for collapsing in the hand
I sit this throne of wrenched heart
In my kingdom of the wasteland

-- Robert Christopher Knight
4:06 a.m.
November 17, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

"Physician, heal thyself": Paul McGann returns as The Doctor!! "The Night of the Doctor" mini-episode is dropping jaws all over today!!

In May of 1996, Paul McGann portrayed the Eighth Doctor in the Doctor Who television movie that aired on Fox.  It was meant to be a pilot for a possible revival of the series.  Unfortunately it didn't pan out, which was very unfortunate because in the brief time we saw him, McGann's Doctor really endeared himself to fans.  It was the first and last time we got to see him play the part.

Until this morning.

BBC just unloaded "The Night of the Doctor" upon us: a nearly seven minutes-long mini-episode of Doctor Who meant to be a lead-up to next week's fiftieth anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor".

Here.  Just watch.  Be sure to mop up the drool afterward...



To all involved: bravo!! Now, Steven Moffat, how about you give us some more episodes with Paul McGann as The Doctor! Please?!?!?

(Thanks to good friend of this blog Drew McOmber for the alert!)

UPDATE 10:27 a.m. EST: Look! The BBC has released an official image of Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor from "The Night of the Doctor"!  Click on it to drastically embiggen it.

Some thoughts: it's a very solid transition look from the costume of the 1996 TV movie, to the feel and tone of the revived series.  The Eighth Doctor has been called one of the more "romantic" and "sympathetic" of The Doctor's incarnations and this outfit - accompanying McGann's presence - evokes that quite well.

C'mon BBC, that's way too much awesomeness than to limit it to just one seven-minute webisode: more Eighth Doctor, please!!  And give us officially licensed attire!  I'd pay several hundred bucks for that coat alone...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

BBC releases a SECOND trailer for "The Day of the Doctor"!

"Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame."
-- The Doctor ("the one who broke the promise")


I don't know what stokes me most about "The Day of the Doctor": seeing the Time War at last in all its horrific glory, the return of the Tenth Doctor and Rose, the interaction between Matt Smith and David Tennant's Doctors, Daleks attacking and getting 'sploded, the return of the Zygons...

Okay, no doubt about it: John Hurt as The Doctor that we didn't know about.  The one that whatever it is that he did, The Doctor was so ashamed that he has never acknowledged his existence... until now.  Because I really believe that this Doctor is the reason that The Doctor, in his ensuing generations, has been such a haunted and wounded man beneath the jovial, childlike surface.

(Thanks again to good friend of this blog Drew McOmber for the alert!)

EDIT 6:34 p.m. EST:   Awright, how did I miss this one?! It's only been up since about three weeks ago!

Here is the "50 Years" trailer that the BBC released for the fiftieth anniversary special. And it it is truly, in every possible way, epic...



The day The Doctor has been running from all his life comes November 23rd.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

December 18th, 2015

To quote Yogi Berra...

"I'll believe it when I believe it."

I'll wager an RC Cola and a Moon Pie that Star Wars Episode VII gets delayed to around May 25th, 2016.  Ain't no proper Star Wars movie been released outside of late May, and I've confidence that larger forces at work will compel Disney to keep to the tradition... whether it wants to or not.

('Course, the very first Star Wars movie was originally slated for a Christmas 1976 release until it got pushed back, so Disney isn't completely without a leg to stand on here.) 

Friday, November 08, 2013

At last, the trailer for "The Day of the Doctor"

Two weeks to go until "The Day of the Doctor"...


Now, something to go back into your Doctor Who archives and check out:

In the two-part "The End of Time" special that saw David Tennant's Tenth Doctor regenerate into the Eleventh (played by Matt Smith), we see Gallifrey on the last day of the Time War.  And in the council, one of the Time Lords tells Rassilon (played by Timothy Dalton) that The Doctor has "the Moment".

Watch that trailer again.  Listen to the words.  And look at what John Hurt's "missing Doctor" is poised to use.

Could it be that Steven Moffat was planting the seeds for the fiftieth anniversary special four years ago, right in front of our very eyes?  Could it be that John Hurt's Doctor is the one always intended to be the one that so terrified the Time Lords?

"The Day of the Doctor" broadcasts simultaneously beginning at 7:50 British time on November 23rd.  Thanks to Drew McOmber for the heads-up on the trailer!

UPDATE 3:54 p.m. EST 11/09/2013:  Bad news: the BBC yanked the above leaked video.

Good news: the BBC finally posted it officially!

I did it. I really, really did it...

Dear Readers,

Last night, while at a restaurant with a friend, I did something that I have wanted to do for years but thought would never happen, particularly after I vowed not to do it.

But I figured, "what the heck?"

Yesterday evening, at long last, I ate Bhut jolokia: the notorious "ghost pepper" from India.  Until recently, certified as the hottest pepper on the face of the Earth.

(Yes, there are photographs of this happening.  My friend took them with his iPhone but I don't have them yet.  Suffice it to say they are rather... interesting.)

So, what did I think?  Bhut jolokia is extremely hot.  However it is not as hot as I had long anticipated.  All along I've had visions of my bare tongue pressed against the inner circles of Dante's Inferno.  What I experience instead was a fiery hot pepper that made my face burn crimson but otherwise was not at all unpleasant.  I may try it again sometime.

(For sake of disclosure, I must note that after eating Bhut jolokia, I chased it down with a rich chocolate milkshake.  So that might have had something to do with the Bhut jolokia not haunting my digestive tract as I slept last night and throughout today.)

Maybe I should try the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper next, since its heat is said to trounce that of Bhut jolokia.  What sayeth y'all?

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Review of ENDER'S GAME (the movie)

For reasons beyond my control I wound up going in to see Ender's Game more unaware and "in the dark" than any movie that readily comes to mind.  I've long known who the main actors were and who they were playing, but other than that, including who was scoring the thing?

Nope.  Nada.  And this, the film adaptation of  Orson Scott Card's novel that has been one of my very most favorite books since first reading it in 1990.  A novel that has become not only a bona-fide science-fiction classic but one of modern literature as a whole.  I should have been total fanboy for this thing from the beginning.

Instead, I went in as cold as one is apt to be in this day and age.  Hopefully, it is a trick that I could pull off again...

...because I was absolutely delighted and thrilled with how Ender's Game came through as a movie!

It's a hundred years or so from now, and Earth is still reeling from an attack decades earlier by an insectoid race called the Formics (sometimes "the Buggers").  Humanity barely won and swore that it would never happen again.  To that end, there has been an international effort to find the best and brightest children for grooming into the commanders needed for mankind's next encounter with the Formics.

Andrew "Ender" Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) is one of those children.  And after believing he has washed-out from the program, he discovers that he has passed with flying colors and offered admission to the Battle School by Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford).  Ender accepts, and leaves the only world he has ever known (including his loving sister Valentine, beautifully played by Abigail Breslin) so that he might one day be among those who will save it.

If you've read Ender's Game, you're aware of what is really going on with Ender.  If you haven't and are going in to see the movie unfamiliar with the story, you'll find out soon enough.  I thought it made an elegant and thoroughly compelling translation to the big screen: how Ender is being shaped and formed by forces beyond his control, whether he likes it or not.  And Asa Butterfield was absolutely the best actor for the role.  He brings to Ender all of the strengths, the vulnerabilities, the empathy and the guild that define this character.  It's positively amazing how much of that Butterfield conveys and projects just through his eyes.  Now, that is acting!

Harrison Ford is pretty much everything I imagined Colonel Hyrum Graff would and should be, and maybe even better realized than my original estimation of the character (courtesy of Ford's trademark delivery).  Hailee Steinfield is terrific as Petra: the Salamander Army member who takes Ender under her wing in defiance of Bonso (Moisés Arias, projecting a brutality that would have made his character an unstoppable juggernaut in the Hunger Games).  And despite how he only turns up in the latter half of the film, Ben Kingsley makes an indelible mark as Mazer Rackham: the legendary half-Maori pilot who almost single-handedly stopped the Formics in the last war.

Ender's Game takes a few major liberties with the original novel, but they are handled with such grace that one might forget they are even there.  To me, the most obvious departure is the complete absence of the subplot about Valentine and elder brother Peter (played in the movie by Jimmy Pinchak) using an Internet chatroom to wend their way toward becoming internationally-acclaimed commentators and ultimately world leaders.  Ender's fear and resentment of Peter is also, in some ways, downplayed significantly.  There seems to be no "unable to travel faster than light" which as those familiar with the novels, becomes a critical factor in the story (the movie implies that faster-than-light is now the norm, which could be a problem for any sequel films).  And I thought that Bean (Aramis Knight) was a character who demanded much more screen time and attention.  Bean was always my favorite of Ender's army, and he needed to be fleshed-out more in the film to convey the kind of spunky street urchin he's known to be.

On the other hand, Ender's Game the movie brings to life some concepts that I had honestly thought would have never made it past drafting the script.  The Giant's Game is in there, beautifully and violently brought to life (the Giant is voiced by director Gavin Hood, by the way).  We also get the confrontation between Ender and Bonso (which ends different from the book, but I can kinda understand why that is).

I found the special effects in Ender's Game to be, if not ground-breaking and remarkable, at least the component that the story needed it to be.  In fact, on that basis I would say that the effects surpassed what I was anticipating from this movie.  The Battle Room sequences are a thrill to behold, and will no doubt be what many kids (and not too few adults) will be dreaming of playing inside of.  And for all of their deadly intent, the Formics are an astounding... one dares even say beautiful... thing of pure alienness.  The Formics have long been one of the few elements of the Ender novel series that I couldn't quite focus my mind's eye on: they always seemed something that the "less you can conceive the better" approach works well with.  Even after watching the movie I still have that vibe: yeah, we can see them finally, but they are still something beyond human perception (which given what the themes of the overall story of Ender's life entail, is how it should be).

Ender's Game the movie is the adaptation that many of us hoped we would get and is even better than what we were expecting.  It absolutely gets my recommendation, and I'm already planning on catching it again while it's playing in the theaters.

Oh, and about the orchestral score for Ender's Game?  It was composed by none other than Steve Jablonsky.  It might be his best work to date by far, and I thought it was perfect for the tone and the themes of this story.  How much did I love Jablonsky's score?  I'm downloading it from iTunes even as I write this.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

To all the readers who are guys

This isn't the Halloween post I had wanted to make.  The original plan was to do something rather bold (read as: utterly insane) with twelve pumpkins. Maybe next year.

Instead...

There's something I need to say to my male friends, to the ones who are husbands and fathers:

Never stop thanking God for what He has given you.

You have no idea how truly blessed you are, to have someone to spend your life serving, cherishing, honoring, and treasuring. Don't let a day go by that you don't thank God for that. Don't let a day go by that you don't thank her for being in your life.

And if you are so blessed as to be a father, never EVER take that for granted! There are some guys out there who would do just about anything, to know what it's like to be the father to a child, if only for just one day. I have most wanted to be a husband and a father. I don't know if that will happen now. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life to have never held a child in my arms, to have loved and comforted it as a father. I will probably never know what it's like to do the "tea party" with a little girl or be there for a son's game. I won't know what it's like to guide and nurture my children and do my best to encourage them to love God and to love others. I dreamed for so long of a home built on love, not one ruled by fear. And now, I don't see that happening.

If you are a husband who has been blessed with a wife, if your are the father of sons or daughters, if you have a home devoted to serving God and each other... then never cease to be thankful for that. You have been given more than all the wealth of this world put together. You have a joy that some pray for but will never know. Don't ever forget that.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A personal parameter

I have only always fought hardest for those things which I have held most precious and dear.

I do not know how to be otherwise.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I don't know what to write

Isn't that something.  I have a blog getting close to five thousand posts and over a million and a half readers and I don't know what to write for it.  In the past month and a half I've suddenly wound up with a writing career that until now I could have only dreamed of.  I'm writing more than I ever have before.  I'm finding creativity and drive to write about anything and everything almost.  And I can't write a thing for my own blog.

I went from a nobody who had all that mattered in life, to a somebody in high demand and nothing to show for it.  Now what would the Preacher at Jerusalem have to say about that?

"Meaningless!  Meaningless!"

Yesterday I wrote from the heart and did it for nothing and was the happiest man on the face of the earth. 

Today I write professionally and I give it my heart and make good money, more than I am used to by far, and I'm asking God why He...

"No.  Don't go there Chris.  Don't be angry at Him.  Be frustrated.  You can be frustrated.  You can even have some doubts.  Everyone doubts.  Even Mother Teresa doubted.  But don't be angry at Him.  Job refused to curse God.  Job thanked God and praised Him.  Praise Him for what He has done in the light, remember that during the times in the dark..."

I want to write.  I want to write for me.  I want the Christopher Knight who wrote as deftly and with passion about everything from doggies to dancing to Star Wars to sundry silliness to be here writing and instead tonight at the keyboard, that's not him at all.

The Walking Dead?  Saw the season premiere last week and this week's is still sitting fresh on the DVR.  Don't ask me what I think about Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: I haven't watched it at all, though they're also on the DVR just in case.  Gravity?  I want to see it soon.  Every day I tell myself "I'm going to see Gravity today" and it hasn't happened yet.  Because I've been busy with the full-time career God suddenly and without warning landed in my lap.  In part.  Mostly it's because I have seen success and found it wanting.  Boring.

People chase money, they chase celebrity, they chase after fifteen minutes of the spotlight.  If you want a vision of the modern world, witness Jesus turning down Satan's offer for all the kingdoms of this earth... and then a billion-fold hands rising up with screams of "PICK ME!  PICK ME!"

Tolkien was right: immortality within the circles of the world would be a wretched, damnable thing.  It would be the most damnable thing of all.  Fellow Inkling Lewis put it well: that once man had fallen, death was God's merciful way of allowing for an escape.  Took me a long time to realize that.  I was afraid of death for so long, after losing too many people.  Now I accept it.  Appreciate it.  Have found a serenity in it: that death is not a thing of dread but a gift to embrace in due time.

Why shouldn't I embrace that gift when it comes?  I have fought devils without and demons within.  I have seen things that can not be explained.  I have borne secrets that men have slain for.  I have carried responsibilities that none should have been given.  I have loved and lost and hoped and throughout it all I have given every possible iota of effort toward staying true to whatever it is that God has made me to be.

People think they know what it is that will make them happy.  They think it's fame or fortune or money or... something.  The things that more often than not contribute to the modern wretchedness.  And then they become desperate to bargain with God, to deal with Death, for just a few more years or months or even hours of that very wretched nature.

The Preacher was right.  "Meaningless, meaningless..."

I've been writing a poem for some years now.  Its title is "Cursed Recursive".  It is a stream of thoughts from the mind of one with bipolar.  Recursion is a bad thing, we were taught in that C programming class at Elon years ago.  A program can get caught in a recursive loop, if you aren't careful when you're writing it.  And then it just goes on and on and on and on, unable to break.  Unable to break free.  Unable to stop.  Funny.  I barely passed that class, now I understand it better than ever.

People have told me that they missed my writing.  Well, here's some writing.  I don't know what it's about.  Maybe it will make sense later.  Sometimes that happens.  But here it is, for what it's worth.


Thursday, October 03, 2013

Tom Clancy, father of the techno-thriller, has passed away

Tom Clancy was one of the first authors who I would eagerly await the next novel from.  I was a high school sophomore when the film adaptation of The Hunt for Red October came out and I read the novel soon afterward.  I spent the next several months and into the summer devouring everything Clancy that I could find.  The night before Hurricane Katrina hit, I curled up with my newly-bought copy of Executive Orders and by the time the storm's outer bands were hitting I couldn't have cared less: Clancy had engrossed me again.

Tom Clancy was a pure American... I'm not going to just say "writer" but also, just leave it at "pure American".  What do I mean by that?  This is a guy who had dreamed as a kid of being a pilot in the United States Navy.  What kept him from having that dream was an eye condition that instantly disqualified him.  Clancy wound up going into the insurance business... but he never quite gave up on his dream.  What did he do?  He started reading and researching United States military aircraft and naval vessels.  He learned everything he could about the government and military of the Soviet Union.  And then he set out to write what President Reagan would later call "the perfect yarn".  Almost thirty years later and The Hunt for Red October is arguably the definitive novel of modern naval warfare.  As well as being one hell of a gripping story.

He couldn't be in the Navy, so he made a phenomenally successful career out of writing about the Navy.  And along the way became perhaps the most prominent icon of the modern Navy.  How many other places in the world could someone have an opportunity to do a thing like that?

Tom Clancy - who gave us Jack Ryan, Marko Ramius, John Clark, Ding Chavez and many other characters in a genre he made all his own if not created single-handed - passed away Tuesday.  He was 66.  At the time of his passing he had another novel due out later this year.

Thoughts and prayers going out to his family.  Think I'll watch The Hunt for Red October tonight in his memory.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Reconsidered

Like Michael Corleone said: "Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in."

Last week I posted that it might be goodbye for good for my blogging.  Lots of things went into that.  I have wound up extremely busy with work-related stuff lately (speaking of which, I'm soon going to be advertising freelance writing services on this blog, and if you want to go ahead and solicit my services e-mail me at theknightshift@gmail.com and I'll be happy to discuss it with you!).

And then, from my perspective, some... very lousy things happened on this end.  My spirit wound up darn nearly broken.  Friends counseled me to not be discouraged, to keep going.  That this blog has given them hope when they needed it, even if at times I myself feel little or no hope at all.

Huh.  Imagine that.  Getting hope from the hopeless.  I suppose anything is possible...

Maybe just as writing about the bipolar disorder has been, I should keep writing to... stay grounded, stay focused, on things.  Keep grounded in reality.  Be able to see beyond my own problems.  Maybe even offer something worth visiting this blog for people who are needing something to smile or laugh at.  Who knows: maybe even provide something new to think about.

So for the time being, I'm going to stick with it.  I'm going to try even to have a new photo of Tammy up tomorrow.  The frequency of posting may not be very often, at least not for the time being.  But it will be something, anyway.

Just one thing that I'd like to ask: this is a very difficult time for me right now.  However it is that you can or are led to, some prayer for Yours Truly would be seriously, seriously appreciated.  I don't know how I've been brought through the past week, except for God bringing me to where I am now.  I have to thank Him and I have to thank those who have kept me in their prayers.

I suppose, if there is any hope at all in this world, that is where it is going to begin...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Goodbye

Dear readers,

This is likely to be the last post made on The Knight Shift.

If it is, I would like to thank you all for joining me on this little adventure.  It lasted almost ten years, and was approaching its 5,000th post.  I like to think that it was time well spent and that you had as much fun reading it as I did writing it.

God bless,
Chris

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

November 23rd is "The Day of the Doctor"

A short while ago the BBC finally revealed the title of the Doctor Who Fiftieth Anniversary Special.

November 23rd will be "The Day of the Doctor".

And here is the official poster for the episode...


Ho-leeee smokes, that is an insanely great piece of work!  I have literally watched the final moments of "The Name of the Doctor" at least once on my iPad ever since it aired in May, all because of John Hurt being an incarnation of The Doctor that we never knew even existed.  Seeing him strolling away so casually from those dead and burning Daleks - like a man walking straight out of Hell itself - just gives me the shivers.

And look!  There's a "Bad Wolf" sign!  What could it mean?!

The BBC also announced that "The Day of the Doctor" will have a running time of seventy-five glorious minutes.

Now, if only the BBC could release a trailer for this baby...

Edit 6:59 p.m. EST:  I can't resist doing it.  It's just too good.

Here again - or for the first time if you haven't seen it yet - is the mind-blowing shock ending from "The Name of the Doctor":

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

My thoughts on Syria

This has been one of the busiest periods that I've been in for quite some time now, hence the lack of blogging as actively as I'd like.

That being said, I'm feeling more than a little led to get this off my chest...

For well over a decade I have believed and as of this writing I still believe that George W. Bush was the absolutely worst President in the entire history of the United States.

For the PATRIOT Act, for creating the Department of Homeland Security, for failure to strengthen our border with Mexico, for a war in Iraq with no definitive goal or even overall purpose, for all of the "bailouts" and "stimulus" that deepened the damage to our economy... for all of those reasons and more, George W. Bush will forever be one of the most destructive Presidents that America was ever cursed with.  And I have no doubt that a wiser citizenry in generations in the distant future will point to Bush the Lesser as a grim example of how broken our current system of politics is, and has been for a very long time.

I earnestly believed that Bush the Lesser's place of shame would be secure for a very long time to come.  But now...

If the United States military is directed to take action in Syria, as is looking more and more likely to happen, then Barack Obama will have become the absolutely worst President in American history.

And barring going full-tilt bonkers and launching ICBMs at Quebec, I don't see how anyone else ever would possibly topple Obama from that spot.

Syria is not something we want to get mired in.  Other countries' civil wars very rarely are.  But Syria is the meanest situation imaginable.  The ruling government are not the good guys.  The rebels are not the good guys either.  There are many good people who are caught in the middle of this: they aren't combatants at all.  Many of them are Christians who are being targeted by the rebels.  And speaking of those rebels: there is considerable evidence that they are aligned with Al-Quaeda.

Just as there is overwhelming evidence that the chemical attacks we have seen in the news were not launched by the Assad government at all.  That they might in fact have been perpetrated by the rebels.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are at best, horribly misinformed about Syria.  They are at worst, blatant liars.

And there is no reason whatsoever to involve any American money, any American equipment, or any American life with any aspect of the civil war in Syria.

There are some things in this broken world which all one can do is appeal to God in prayer about.  Things beyond the jurisdiction of any sane and rational government.  What is happening in Syria is one of those things.  There is nothing the United States as a sovereign nation can do to remedy that situation.  But there is plenty that it can do to make it worse, and nothing worse than launching a military strike in Syria.

If Obama does this, nothing good will come of it.  Nothing at all.

Nothing.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tammy Tuesday returns with an ear-full

After an absence of too many weeks, Tammy the Pup is back!  That was my fault though: just been way busy on this end of things.  And I've a few posts percolating in the ol' gray matter that I'm gonna try to channel into reality the next coupl'a days.

But anyway, here's Tammy, in a pose that is familiar to anybody who has ever owned a dachshund.  I don't think a day goes by that I don't have to "reset" Tammy's ears back to their factory default position.  Here she is with both of hers about to get fixed...

Monday, August 26, 2013

Somebody help me out here...

I was horribly occupied all this past week with an assignment and am really out of touch on things.

What's this about Miley Cyrus being the next Batman?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

This week's Tammy Tuesday's guest host is... Lucy!

So... this was supposed to be a Tammy Tuesday: the weekly pic of my mini dachshund. Unfortunately the little girl is feeling under the weather today! But don't worry folks she's got that mischievous glint in her eye which is already threatening to unleash havoc when she's back to normal soon.

I didn't want to make it three weeks without something though.  It was my girlfriend Kristen who had the idea of letting her new Chihuahua Lucy fill in for Tammy.  Lucy was in the back seat of my car yesterday when Kristen snapped this hilarious photo of her flashing a wry grin...

Lucy, Chihuahua, dog

Incidentally, for those who remember when Kristen adopted those two Chihuahuas last month: well that's Lucy and her son is now named Charlie.  We're hoping that Lucy and Charlie will get to meet Tammy sometime soon.  If/when that happens I'll be sure to post some pics and video of their encounter :-)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" performed by librarians!

This might be the most awesome-sauce loaded thing you behold all weekend: some New York City librarians have made a parody video of "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys! And they totally pulled it off in the spirit of the original music video that Spike Jonze directed.

M&D 2013 Sabotage from Mike and Duane Show on Vimeo.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

From our friends at the NATIONAL POLICE GAZETTE...

There was a horridly huge amount of work-related... work, these past several days and as a result I couldn't post a Tammy Tuesday either last week or this one.  I'll do my best to entice her for new material this coming one.

Until then, as penance for failing to have fresh photos of my mini dachshund, here is a depiction of a monkey wearing a tuxedo about to club a man to death as he sleeps...

National Police Gazette, monkey, murder

That illustration was first published in the January 6th, 1883 edition of the National Police Gazette: America's original tabloid newspaper!  And you can find even more classic, wacky, and often disturbing images from the archives at its official website.  Visit them, and be sure to tell National Police Gazette proprietor William A. Mays that Chris Knight sez "hey!"

Monday, August 12, 2013

Father Dowling, mystery no more: Priest of Missouri accident comes forward

I could not resist having fun with that title.  It was just too punny!

One of the more intriguing stories last week was that of the mysterious priest who arrived on the scene of a vehicular accident in Missouri.  19-year old Katie Lentz was on her way to church when a drunk-driver smashed her car.  Emergency workers tried for more than an hour to get Lentz clear of the wreck and it looked like she wasn't going to make it.  Just then a Catholic priest appeared, anointed Lentz with oil and prayed with her.  It was very soon after that firefighters and EMTs got Lentz out and flown to a hospital.  And the priest?  He vanished before anyone had a chance to thank him for being there.

Curiously, he didn't turn up in any of 90-some photos that were made of the crash site.  Between that and the effect he seemed to have on everyone involved, many have wondered if it was an angel who came to Katie Lentz's assistance.

Father Patrick Dowling, Katie Lentz, Missouri, priest, mystery, angel, miracle
Father Patrick Dowling
Father Patrick Dowling (right) of the Diocese of Jefferson City came forward today, identifying himself as the priest who attended to Lentz.  Father Dowling spoke with Catholic News Agency about the incident, and elaborated on the part that he ended up playing...
Though the highway was blocked off, “I did not leave with the other cars,” Fr. Dowling commented. He parked as close as he could, “and walked the remaining 150 yards. I asked the Sheriff if a priest might be needed … on checking, he permitted me to approach.”

“When the young lady asked that I pray her leg stop hurting, I did so. She asked me to pray aloud and I did briefly … the rescue workers needed space, and would not have appreciated distraction. I stepped to one side and said my rosary silently until the lady was taken from the car.”

Once Lentz was removed from her vehicle, he explained, “I then shook hands with the Sheriff, and thanked him, as I left. I have to admire the calmness of everybody involved.”
Something I couldn't help but appreciate: Father Dowling reported that he administered the Catholic sacraments of Anointing of the Sick and Absolution to Katie Lentz.  Which would be routine for a priest "except that there was something extraordinary it sounds like, in the sequence of events that coincided in time with the Anointing.  You must remember, there were many people praying there, many, many people... and they were all praying obviously for healing and for her safety.”

The thing is, according to news articles from the past week, Lentz worships at an Assemblies of God congregation.  She isn't Roman Catholic.  Neither does it sound like the denominational background of anyone involved was ever questioned or commented upon.  It was one person who happened to be a follower of Christ being at the scene to minister to another follower of Christ when she needed it most.

There are no doubt some who are going to be disheartened to discover that it wasn't a real angel who came to the side of Katie Lentz and those working to save her life, but rather a very human priest.  But that doesn't mean that it wasn't a miracle.

Miracles don't have to be shimmering demonstrations of supernatural wonder and glory.  Do I believe that God allows miracles to happen?  I absolutely do.  Even today.  And some of them are of the sort that one can't readily explain away.  Believe me, I've tried.

But that isn't what most miracles are.  A miracle is God letting things "click" into place, at precisely the right time.  And Father Dowling's being on the highway that close to the accident is as much a miracle as any miracle out of the New Testament.

Personally, I take great comfort in knowing that it was Father Patrick Dowling who came to Katie Lentz's aid.  Because if God can use one of His mortal flock to work a miracle through, He can do the same with any other.  Including you.  Perhaps even me...

Sunday, August 11, 2013

THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED footage found! Behind-the-scenes of Jerry Lewis' unreleased Holocaust film

Jerry Lewis, The Day the Clown Cried, Holocaust, movies, 1972
Jerry's Kids, circa 1972:
You won't hear "You'll Never Walk Alone" the same way again...
It might be the cinematic coup of the decade: a seven minutes-long clip of behind-the-scenes footage from The Day the Clown Cried has been posted to YouTube.

Perhaps the most infamous movie never released, The Day the Clown Cried is the 1972 film directed, co-written and starring Jerry Lewis which ended up in a legal mess about ownership rights which kept it from being finished and distributed.  That was more than forty years ago.  Maybe it was for the best.

What was The Day the Clown Cried about?  Here's the synopsis as I first heard it: "Jerry Lewis is a clown in a Nazi concentration camp".  Lewis was playing a washed-up German clown named Helmut Dork (?!) who gets drunk one night and bad-mouths Hitler in earshot of some Nazi officers.  Dork gets sent to a prison camp, then winds up at Auschwitz where the kommandant uses Dork as a "Judas goat" for herding Jewish children into the gas chambers.  In the final scene, Dork chooses to walk with the kids into the chamber and die with them: making the children laugh as the Zyklon-B canisters drop through the chutes.

It was supposed to have been Lewis' first "serious" motion picture: something he had pinned Oscar hopes on.  He wanted to try something which wasn't comedy for a change.  So he went with a tragic story about the Holocaust.  It didn't end well.

(If you're interested, I wrote much more about The Day the Clown Cried on this blog four years ago.)

To this day nobody apart from Lewis himself and a few favored individuals have seen the entirety of The Day the Clown Cried.  Lewis purportedly has kept the only copy locked up in his office all this time.  Where he once was passionate about finishing and releasing it, he is now adamant that it will never be shown.

So this might be the most we'll ever see of The Day the Clown Cried, courtesy of YouTube user "unclesporkums"...


I'm gonna reiterate what I said four years ago: there's no doubt that The Day the Clown Cried would have been a box-office horror and likely would have upended Jerry Lewis' career for all time had it been released.  But even so, it demonstrates how Hollywood was trying to deal with the subject of the Holocaust: something that happened a quarter-century earlier and which people were still trying to grasp.  So it can't be said that Jerry Lewis can be faulted for trying.  If anything, he made an effort that should be appreciated.  A failed and flawed effort, but in retrospect it wasn't one that many others could have attempted.  Lewis' heart was in the right place.  He just lacked the proper pathos for the project, and I wonder if anyone at the time had it.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Who was that priest? Miracle and mystery on a Missouri highway

He was there.

Everybody at the scene, from firefighters to police paramedics to the victim herself, saw him and heard him.

His calming words and peaceful demeanor are being credited with saving the life of a 19-year old young woman.

But he is nowhere to be found in any of the nearly 70 photographs taken at the site of the accident.

Neither can anyone figure out how he could have been there to begin with, since the road was blocked for two miles by police on both sides of the wreck.  There were no parked cars.  There were no pedestrians seen approaching the site, either walking along the road or coming across the fields along Highway 19 near Center, Missouri.

He disappeared before anyone could thank him.

And yet he was there.  His presence is being called a miracle.  And many are wondering if the person - who seemed to be a black-garbed silver-haired Catholic priest in his fifties or sixties - might have been an angel.

Katie Lentz: Attended by an angel?
Katie Lentz (right), a student at Tulane University, was on her way to church this past Sunday morning when her car was hit head-on by a drunk driver.  Lentz's Mercedes was a mangled heap and by the time help arrived, the situation was bleak for a happy ending.

Firefighters and paramedics struggled to free Lentz from the twisted metal.  Despite her circumstance, Lentz spoke with her rescuers about her church and her plans to study dentistry.  But after an hour and a half of desperately trying to get Lentz out, it was clear that her vital signs were rapidly fading and that there was very little that could be done.  It did not appear that she would survive.

That is when Katie Lentz asked the emergency workers around her for a moment of prayer.  And that's when he appeared.  Out of nowhere.  Literally.

The priest approached Lentz and anointed her with oil he was carrying.  He prayed with her and with the emergency workers and apparently anointed at least two of them as well. Chief Raymond Reed of the New London, Missouri Fire Department later said that "a sense of calmness came over her, and it did us as well.  I can't be for certain how it was said, but myself and another firefighter, we very plainly heard that we should remain calm, that our tools would now work and that we would get her out of that vehicle."

Lentz was soon afterward finally extracted and evacuated by helicopter to a hospital.  She has suffered several broken ribs, a broken wrist, and both legs have multiple fractures.  But she is alive and poised to make a strong recovery.

And the priest?  He vanished.  No one saw him leave, just as no one saw how he could have possibly arrived.

Of all the photographs taken at the site of the crash, the priest is found in none of them.  Neither have inquiries with the Catholic churches in the area turned up anything about who he could have been.  Lentz's family and the rescuers at the scene would like to find him and thank him for his prayer and encouragement.  But whoever he is, he has not stepped forward.

It is an absolutely fascinating and beautiful story and there is plenty more at the Mail Online's article about it.

So... could it be that an angel came to the aid of Katie Lentz and those attempting to free her from the wreck?  Hebrews 13:2 tells us that we have sometimes "entertained angels unawares".

Perhaps it was a messenger of God who brought divine assistance to Highway 19.

Personally, it wouldn't surprise me in the least.  I've seen more than a few things along the way that I can't possibly explain.  Things which defy all notion of a rational basis.  And I've had to learn - some would add "the hard way" and not without merit - to stop looking for a rationale behind any of them.  "There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy," the Bard observed.

There are some things which one has to stand back and accept them for what they are, without any expectation of answers or understanding.  This mysterious priest, I would remark, is one of those.

And no matter one's faith or even lack of one, it has to be said: our lives are all the more rich because of them.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Let's ring in the New Year with style!

It's none other than Grandpa Jones and his lovely wife Ramona doing something truly amazing with a whole bunch of cowbells...


Dare I do it? Dare I?!?

I can't resist...
more cowbell, cowbells, christopher walken, saturday night live, the bruce dickinson, blue oyster cult, dont fear the reaper
"I gotta fever!  And the only prescription is MORE COWBELL!"
 If you don't know who Grandpa Jones was, you need some educatin' in the worst way!  Louis Marshall Jones was a longtime fixture on country music radio and the Grand Ol' Opry.  He picked up his stage name when he worked at WBZ in Boston and was playfully called "Grandpa" because he was so cranky in the mornings.  Jones decided to make an act of it.  That was 1935 and Jones was "Grandpa Jones" all the way up to his passing in 1998.  He's long been regarded as one of the greatest banjo players ever.

And he even played cowbell!  And more of it! :-)

This year's DOCTOR WHO Christmas special: What DID Chris think of "The Time of the Doctor"?

I loved it!!  But first...

If if was nothing else, it had to be said: 2013 was the Year of the Doctor.

The anticipation for Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary ramped up fast after the year began.  The coming of Jenna Coleman's Clara as a regular companion certainly started things off nice.  Some of the ensuing half-season was a little touch and go, but otherwise it proceeded in fine style...

...and then came "The Name of the Doctor".

More than half a year later, in spite of everything that we've watched since, I'm still feeling numbstruck by the season finale (find my review here).  Throughout the ensuing summer and fall I think a lot of us were tormented with the thought: had Steven Moffat finally lost it?!  For the first time ever Doctor Who seemed poised to derail completely.  The image of that unknown incarnation of the Doctor, "the one who broke the promise", turning to show us the grizzled visage of John Hurt and those big letters onscreen letting us know in no uncertain terms "this IS the Doctor!!" is one that will forever be burned into my pop cultural gray matter.

But "The Day of the Doctor" - the fiftieth anniversary special - restored all faith in Moffat as a showrunner.  No, more than that: Moffat is arguably the finest custodian of Whovian mythology we have seen since... well, maybe since before John Nathan-Turner's era.  "The Day of the Doctor" was everything an anniversary celebration should be: a "love letter" to the fans, a story that drastically expanded the Whoniverse and top it all off it was a story that totally changed the course of the series.  For eight years we've seen the Doctor as a scarred and wounded veteran of the Time War: a man haunted by the choices he had to make in order to keep all hell from breaking loose across the width and breadth of creation.

The Doctor is a wounded man no more.  Now he's a man with the greatest mission of his life: to find Gallifrey.

Well played, Moffat.  Well played indeed!  And that appearance by Tom Baker was the prettiest bow that a gift to the fans could possibly have had.

It was early summer that Matt Smith announced he would be retiring in this year's Christmas special, handing the role of the Doctor to a new actor.  And then came August, and the massive hype about the reveal of the next Doctor: a part that we found would be filled by Peter Capaldi.  So coming on the heels of the fiftieth anniversary special, this year's Christmas story had to be a fitting swan song for the Eleventh Doctor and for the actor who reigned during the most explosive popularity of the entire franchise... and ring in the new with the Twelfth Doctor.  A lot to live up to, no doubt...

So... what did I think of "The Time of the Doctor"?

It was not perfect.  But... yes, I loved every minute of it!

It's glaringly obvious that Moffat was trying to shoehorn in a lot of material that likely had been intended for another season with Matt Smith as the Doctor, in an attempt to tie up all the loose ends since the Doctor last regenerated.  Even so, I think it was as good a job as could possibly have been done.  Ironically this is also the Doctor Who story that covers a bigger span of chronological time than any other previous: more than 300 years, from the time the Doctor and Clara first arrive in the town of Christmas up to the final showdown with the Daleks attacking Trenzalore.  Yes, it would have been fun to have seen all of this unfold over another season... but we still got a great tale and a fitting Christmas special at that.

Did anyone else think that the very-aged Doctor hearkened back to William Hartnell as the Doctor?  Because I can't but think that maybe the First Doctor, in his younger days, was much like the Matt Smith we have witnessed during the past four years: Smith wanted his Doctor to be "an old man in a young man's body".  Now we've seen him play the Doctor as a young man in an old man's body... and for some reason it makes Hartnell's First Doctor... well, more modern-ish Doctor, if that makes any sense.  In any case it was a terrific and bold direction to take the Doctor in his final journey with the part.

One of the bigger mysteries of Doctor Who is one that was set up all the way back in "The Deadly Assassin" nearly forty years ago: how would the "twelve regenerations" limit be dealt with?  This was one of my favorite things about "The Time of the Doctor": Moffat showing us that the twelve regenerations have already transpired, because they included the Tenth Doctor's little stunt in "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End".  We don't have to wait until Capaldi decides to turn in the keys to the TARDIS: that little matter is now dealt with, presumably for the next fifty years or so.  At the end of which the Time Lords will probably decide they need the Doctor to stick around forever and just max out his life limit.

And speaking of regenerations: Matt Smith's was the best ever.  Yeah, I said it.  I'll always love David Tennant's bow but in retrospect that seemed a bit too sentimental, perhaps owing to how Russel T. Davies had the Tenth Doctor revisiting all the major characters from the Davies era.  There was no such gesture in "The Time of the Doctor", and yet Matt Smith's departure was far more poignant and heartbreaking.  During his final speech to Clara it was as if Smith was breaking the fourth wall and talking to us in the audience, telling us how much he appreciated his time as the Doctor and how thankful he was for our embracing him in the role.

It was by far the greatest regeneration scene in the history of the series.  It was the one by which all future regenerations will be measured, I think.  And Matt Smith left in a bang: everything from Clara's finding the Doctor in his rocking chair on through the regeneration itself is pure storytelling gold.  The scene of the Doctor atop the bell tower, raging defiantly against the Daleks ("We're breaking some serious science here, boys!" as he proclaims "Regeneration Number Thirteen... it's gonna be a whopper!" will go down as one of the most iconic Doctor Who moments ever).

The very last moments, when the Eleventh Doctor has that vision of Amy (a very touching cameo from Karen Gillan) and the Doctor letting his beloved bow tie fall to the floor of the TARDIS... that was the moment when the tears came, if they hadn't already.  I don't think anything else could have been as perfect a final moment as that...

But as soon as the crying finally hit, we got hit with the shock of Peter Capaldi's uber-manic entrance as the Twelfth Doctor.  It was the fastest regeneration ever and by far the most bewildering.  I mean, when your new Doctor's first words are "KIDNEYS!  I've got new kidneys!" you just know that there's some severe craziness incoming.

Matt Smith, thank you.  Because of you Doctor Who is bigger than it has ever been before.  And because of you, bow ties have never been cooler!  I'm the owner of an official Doctor Who bow tie... and I will be wearing it with pride for many years to come.

Eleven's time has drawn to a close.  Now bring on the Twelfth!

"The Time of the Doctor" gets 4 and 1/2 Sonic Screwdrivers out of 5 from this blogger.  And it's going to be a long, long wait until next fall when Doctor Who returns.  Maybe if we're good Moffat and his crew will give us another mini-episode like "The Night of the Doctor".  Please Mister Moffat, please??

Oh yeah, one last thing: bring back Handles!  Handles was one of the best companions ever!!  If the Doctor can fix K-9 then surely he can fix Handles.  Handles was awesome! :-)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

It occurred to me a few days ago that I had yet to post the traditional Christmas piece this year.  I don't have any particular reason why that shouldn't be done this year, except that in many ways this... well, it's not the usual Christmas for me.

It was two years ago, three days after Christmas, that my mother passed away.  But it's only been in the past few weeks that I've let that sink in, found myself able to let go of lingering matters that were there.  I got through Christmas last year because of some things that aren't there this year.  Absent those, this is at last the holiday season that I'm letting myself be confronted with that loss (and a number of others).

I'm not going to avoid them.  It's time to let them confront me and for me to come out the better for it.  That's happening already.

A few weeks ago I had myself voluntarily admitted to a psychiatric hospital.  I had to do it because my life had become completely unmanageable.  It was severe depression, to a far worse degree than I've ever endured.  It was also because the medication I've been on to treat the bipolar needed some drastic adjustment.  I spent a week there, spending most of my time studying my Bible.  And prayer, lots of prayer.

I had to do it because the depression was taking a toll on my personal life, my work, everything.  Had I not done that, well... I don't like to contemplate what might have happened.  But I did address it and I don't think there's any weakness or shame in admitting it.  And I came out of it much stronger than I had been before.  God brought me through it.  He really did.  I can't claim any part of that victory for myself.  I could write a book about the things I went through in the hospital, especially at night.  God brought me through each night, just as He brought me through this night.  Just as He is still bringing me through it.  I won't dare boast of any of that for my own.

Long story short: I'm not having any Christmas presents this year.  I'm too much thankful for the things God has given me already than to want anything that I don't have.  It took me a long time to really find the contentment that comes with His grace and to relent unto His will, His timing.

Maybe that'll make what come next on this post have more meaning than ever.

It was my best friend Chad who asked this morning if I was doing the traditional Christmas post on this blog.  After some thought about it, I'm going through with it.  Hard to believe I wrote this fifteen years ago this month, in the last issue before the holiday break.

So here it is, again, one of my favorite pieces from the old college days and something of a tradition on The Knight Shift...


Originally published in The Pendulum, Elon University, 12/03/1998

Celebrating the Christmas season means celebrating the memories

Chris Knight
Columnist

     Some of the best memories that we take through life are about the times we cherish the most. And sometimes, it doesn’t take much to bring back the joy.
     Last Friday as I was driving around Greensboro, the all-time coolest Christmas song ever came over the speakers.
     Who knows what this genius recording artist’s name is? Does it really matter? Whoever he is, he’ll forever be remembered as giving us the immortal sound of “Dogs Singing Jingle Bells”:

Arf arf arf,
Arf arf arf,
Arf Arf Whoof Whoof Whuf…

     Ahh... you know how it goes.
     And there’s the ever-beuh-beuh-beauh-beautiful rendition of Porky Pig singing “Blue Christmas” and the Chipmunks and of course “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Christmas at Ground Zero,” but hearing those dogs singing “Jingle Bells...” ahhhhh.
     It brought me back to the very first time I heard that: on the radio coming back from school just before Christmas in 1982. I was in third grade at the time. And it brought back memories of the Christmas we had.
     It was cold and very cloudy. I remember that because Santa had brought me a telescope and I didn’t get to use it that night. Which wasn’t too big a worry, ‘cause me and my sister had our brand-new Atari 2600 to play with!
     Another Christmas memory: To this day, I’ll never forgive Anita for the pounding she gave me in “Combat.” I don’t care how fancy Sega or the Playstation get... they’ll never touch the 4-bit pleasures of the Atari!
     There have been many a Christmas since then, and I remember each one well, for all the little things they had with them.
     I’ll never forget Mom and Dad taking me and my sister to see Santa Claus at the mall in ‘84. That morning Dad asked if I’d come with him to cut firewood, so we rode the tractor into the woods. There had been snow earlier in the week, which lay around us in the crisp, cold morning.
     Dad also brought his 30-30 rifle, why I still don’t know. After we had the wood loaded, Dad asked if I wanted to try shootin’ the gun.
     There I was, a ten-year old kid, holding what looked like an anti-aircraft cannon in my tiny hands. Well, I aimed at this tree like Dad told me to, and pulled the trigger.
     To this day I cannot describe the colors that flashed before my eyes, or the sound in my ears. When my existence finally returned, I was flat on my back in the snow, and blood was gushing from between my eyes where the scope had hit my nose from the backfire.
     That night Santa saw the bandages and said “Ho ho hoooo, and what happened to you, little fellow?”
     “I got shot, Santa,” was the only thing I knew to say.
     Hey, was I gonna lie to the Big Man? Uh-uh, no way was I gonna lose all that loot!
     The following year’s Christmas I remember for many things, but especially feeding the young calves on our farm. It would be the last year our family would be running a dairy farm, and I had started helping with some of the work around the barn.
     Dad set up a Christmas tree in the milking room, with wrapped-up boxes beneath it.
     Tinsel hung from the front doors of the barn. And there was something about the feel of the place there, that has always held a special place in my heart, as if we knew that there would not be another Christmas like this one.
     I wish there had been another Christmas on the farm, because there’s something I wish I could have seen. And as silly as some people might find this, I really believe that it happens.
     You see, if you go out at midnight on Christmas Eve, you will see all the animals in the farmyard, and in the fields, and in the forests, and wherever else they may be, stop where they are.
     And then they kneel.
     They kneel in remembrance for another night, long ago. It was Christmas, but how many people could know it then?
     Nothing remarkable, to be sure: Caesar had decreed a census through the land, and each man went with his family to his town.
     One man in particular took his wife, a young woman quick with child. But there was no room for them at the inn. So that night, in a dirty and filthy stable and surrounded by animals, a child was born.
     You see, it’s easy for us to forget. At this time of the year, we are too overwhelmed by the consumption and the material and the glitter and all the customs that come with Christmas.
     And it’s too easy for us to forget that Christmas is, before everything else, a birthday.
     But the animals, who watched over Him as He lay as a newborn babe, two millenia ago... the animals have not forgotten.
     And so they kneel every Christmas and give glory to the newborn king, and in awe that God would send His Son to live among us in the greatest act of love.
     And to teach us many things, but especially to “love one another”. And to bridge the gap between man and God.
     The birth of Jesus Christ: the greatest Christmas present there will ever be. His birth, which would give mankind the greatest present it could ever ask for.
     Who in the world on that night could know the price that this present would someday have?
     Heaven and Earth sang praises to His glory on that night. The animals have always remembered that night. And Heaven and Earth still praise and sing unto Him.
     And if you only take a little time out from how busy things become at this part of the year, you can hear the singing, too. And it is a great temptation to join in that chorus.
     And perhaps in hearing, we will not forget the real meaning of Christmas, either.
     This Christmas Eve night I plan to be outside, with the same telescope that I got for Christmas all those years ago, and trying to envision a bright star over Bethlehem. Around midnight, I’m going to take a walk over to my aunt’s farm.
     Merry Christmas. Peace on Earth, and goodwill toward men.


Dedicated to the memory of W.C. “Mutt” Burton, for whom Christmas was always “In My Bones.”

Friday, December 20, 2013

THE TICK's very special Christmas episode!

I will go to my grave believing that the Nineties gave us the best television animated series that have ever been produced.  Think about it: Tiny Toons, Gargoyles, X-Men... and of course Batman: The Animated Series, a show that forever raised the bar and redefined what cartoons were capable of.

But of all those shows and more, it's The Tick that holds the most special place in my heart from that era.

Based on Ben Edlund's underground comic book, The Tick premiered in 1994, ran for three seasons and stunned everyone with its unique style of superhero parody and screwball comedy.  The Tick was the one show I made a point to always watch on Saturday mornings (even if I worked late the previous night and was low on sleep).  It was such a big influence on me that when I finally got Internet access for the first time, the very first screen name I used was "The Man Eating Cow".

Anyway a lot of shows - including the animated ones - put on a Christmas-themed episode, and The Tick was no exception.  Of course, the one we got wasn't like those of other series.  So far as holiday episodes go, the only one that remotely approaches The Tick's entry is the "Turkeys Away" episode of W.K.R.P in Cincinnati.  It's just too whacked for words to adequately convey.

So without further ado, here from December 1995 is Tick fighting Multiple Santa in... "The Tick Loves Santa!":


"Ho Ho Ho, make them work! Ho Ho Ho, make them work!"

They just can't make humor like that anymore.

All I intend to say about A&E firing Phil Robertson...

A&E fired the star of not just its #1-rated series, but the top-rated series in the history of cable television.

That's not just shooting yourself in the foot; that's chainsawing your leg off at the hip.

This will go down as the stoopidest move in television programming history.  He could have been less crass about it, but Robertson said nothing any more offensive than the vast majority of other series.  Based on Robertson's comments, I'd say that he's expressing the heart of a true Christian: love God, and love each other.  When Phil Robertson said that he has no hate toward anyone else and that God created each of us equal and loves us in spite of how wayward we go from Him, I can't but trust his heart on the matter.

Let's say this for what it really is: Phil Robertson and the rest of his family on Duck Dynasty are coming under attack because they won't endorse the homosexual lifestyle.  This isn't about "intolerance" on Phil's part: if anything it's the people at GLAAD and the Human Rights Initiative that are being intolerant toward others.

This is about perhaps, at most, 3% of the population demanding that it's not enough that their lifestyle be accepted, but that it also must be admired.

Phil Robertson can't do that.  Neither can I.

Gay, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders are not a "persecuted" class of people.  They have no basis to claim being oppressed or attacked.  All they have in the public arena of ideas is proclaiming themselves to be victims demanding attention and sympathy.

Please, somebody tell me: how is one man shoving his penis up another man's anus an act requiring sympathy and compassion on my part?

Okay, maybe I could have been less crass there, too.  But ya gotta admit: Phil Robertson is only asking what has been on the minds of a vast number of people.  Certainly more than the number of militant homosexual lobbyists now crying for Robertson blood.

Car made out of LEGO bricks... and it's drivable!

Proving once again that LEGO building is more than aesthetic art but also fully functional, an Australian and Romanian duo has constructed a life-sized roadster out of the celebrated toy bricks. And it just doesn't sit there: you can drive it too!

It's not all LEGO: though the company makes tiny rubber tires for the minifig-scale vehicles, it's yet to enter the market in competition with Michelin or Goodyear.  But that detail aside, the Super Awesome Micro Project funded and built by Australian Steve Sommarito and Romanian Raul Oaida is practically 100% LEGO blocks.  Total number of pieces: about half a million.

According to the news article, "the car uses compressed air to turn 256 pistons in four rotary engines — all made of Legos. Total construction time: 18 months, for a cost of about $40,000."  It's not quite as big as the full-size X-Wing Fighter made of 5.3 million LEGO blocks, but hey: at least this baby can actually take you places!

Crash here for more about the Super Awesome Micro Project's LEGO hot rod.  And thanks to "Weird" Ed Woody for the heads-up!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Okay, no more Doctor Who for awhile...

At least not until this year's Christmas special, "The Time of the Doctor".

But after watching the fiftieth anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor" for the dozen-ish time, the part where Clara asked the Doctor about what his promise was kept resonating with me.  And since I'm up at a crazy hour working, I took a break and did this:

doctor who, the day of the doctor, the promise, war doctor, tenth doctor, eleventh doctor

For fifty years we have wanted to know what the Doctor's real name is.

That is the closest we will - and should - ever get to it.

And it's not a bad promise for anyone to make, when you think about it.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

The most bestest scene from "The Day of the Doctor"

"The Day of the Doctor" became a truly epic event: the kind of cultural milestone ranking up there with the premiere of Star Wars in 1977, Woodstock and the final episode of M*A*S*H.  The day after the fiftieth anniversary special of Doctor Who aired, Guinness certified it as the most-watched simulcast of a dramatic presentation ever.

I purchased "The Day of the Doctor" from iTunes as soon as it was made available and have watched it all the way through twice and some scenes many times.  And they were plentiful: "NO MORE", the Moment, the tribute to past companions (including Captain Jack Harkness, and why are River Song's red high-heels hanging there anyway??) in the Black Archive, all of those TARDISes that swooped out of nowhere, that very fleeting glimpse - with an anger and determination that would cower Hell itself - of the Twelfth Doctor's eyes, finally seeing the regeneration that produced the Ninth Doctor, the dream sequence of the Eleventh Doctor joining his previous lives as they look toward Gallifrey, all accompanied by a majestic score by Murray Gold...

All very wonderful.  Very beautiful.  Steven Moffat and his team pulled off what can only be described as the perfect Doctor Who story for the fiftieth anniversary.  One loaded with iconic scenes that have already become beloved by fans.

But there was one scene that stood tallest of them all.

It was the scene that most paid homage to where The Doctor has gone before while setting the stage for that which is yet to come.  The scene that sent Doctor Who fans worldwide into a collective gasp followed by screams of wild rejoicing.  And certainly what will prove to be the most pivotal scene of the series since its revival in 2005.

Here it is again for your viewing pleasure...


That surely will go down as the high point of Matt Smith's career as the Eleventh Doctor.  You just can't top sharing a scene with Tom Baker: the one who will, for many of us, forever be "my favorite Doctor".

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Broken

Three years ago I went through what I had thought - at the time - was the darkest, deepest abyss that a person could ever experience. It was a turmoil that I would never wish upon a worst enemy.

It came about because my managing the bipolar brought me to a place where I could finally be aware of the very horrible things that I did. Because of bipolar disorder... but that's not an excuse for my actions. Like any other disease, a person has to take responsibility for it and everything associated with it.

It took two years, leading up to that point, before I could understand what had happened. I can sum up my realization no better than this: "Dear God, what have I done?"

To get hit like that with final comprehension of the pain I had inflicted, the people I had hurt, what it had cost me... It was like a bomb had been dropped into my heart and finally detonated, shattering everything.

Everything.

It was during the long months after when I went public with my bipolar. But most people never saw what was really transpiring on this side of the screen during that time: the nights of crying (literally) out to God, praying to be forgiven. Praying for reconciliation. Praying that I might somehow make up for it all. Asking Him to please bring peace to my heart and quiet to my mind.

That was three years ago. Since then, my control of the bipolar has become much better. Not "perfect". It will never be "perfect". It's like golf: the only way you could ever seriously beat a golf course is if you managed to make a hole-in-one on every hole. I don't think Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer ever pulled that off, even...

Eventually, most of the people I sought forgiveness from granted it. Some things I had prayed for however did not happen. Even so God has brought me a long, long way in three years. In one year, even. I cannot but be thankful for that.

And yet here I am, on Thanksgiving weekend, much like it was in 2010, and I'm spending it crying out to God. Again.

"Dear God, what have I done?"

This time, it's worse. Much, much worse. And I'll tell you why...

I have come to a place where I see how bipolar clouded and distorted my sympathy toward others. That it made me fail to see how precious every life... every life... is. How we are all made by God and in our own way, waging a difficult battle that requires His grace.

And now I see how there were too many times when I neglected that. In my writing. In my actions. In too many other facets of my life. And again, it has cost me.

Again, it has broken me.

Three years ago I read the Book of Job over and over. It evoked a comfort - along with other scripture - that God is with us in the midst of our grieving. I have read Job at least three times during the past few days.

I don't know why God allowed me to have this condition. It was something I was born with: something that I have discovered runs in an entire side of my family (Dad was thankfully spared). Once it's encoded in your DNA there's nothing to be done but hope the genome doesn't activate. I lost that particular roll of the dice. I'll have to abide this for the rest of my life. Have to keep my own mind in check lest it turns against me.

I have to hold on to the hope that for all of this pain, God has His hands involved and is working through it. For what purpose, I cannot fathom.

I have barely... barely... cried tears for well over the past two years. It was probably a combination of the bipolar and some of the medication I've been taking to manage it. I held Mom's hand as she passed away and I spoke at her funeral and not once the entire time did the critical connection get made that allowed me to weep tears for my own mother no longer being in my life.

The past two weeks have seen me cry harder, and more tears, than I could have across the past decade previous. Crying in prayer. Crying in the presence of friends. Crying myself to sleep.

What have I been crying about? Everything. Most especially the hurts and insults and petty vindictiveness that I have inflicted too many times in my life.

I'll give you an example. Most readers know how little in regard I hold the Transportation Security Administration. I still think the TSA and the entire Department of Homeland Security is a colossal waste of money and a violator of citizens' rights. But that should not include extending that sentiment toward individual employees!

A year and a half ago, I did that. It was while flying out of the airport in Portland, Oregon. I saw an opportunity to abuse a TSA agent, only because I allowed my thoughts to fixate on the TSA's own abuses. And then I allowed the lesser angels of my nature to act.

While sparing the details, I will say this: Yours Truly, Robert Christopher Knight, was a complete jerk and a total asshole.

And on the off chance that this particular TSA agent ever reads this: I sincerely apologize. I should never have done that. You were only doing your job. I made it harder the it should be. I can't go and take back what I did, but I do apologize for it.

I am grieving also because of how I have used this blog in the past to attack some people. There is one in particular, a certain local board of education member, who I previously apologized to in a blog post. He accepted the apology and I am extremely thankful for that. But even so, I can't ignore the fact that I was not acting like a follower of Christ should. I can't ignore it now.

Every hurt, every insult, every spiteful thought... has come crashing down on me. So many people in my lifetime that I was petty toward, unsympathetic toward, even jealous of... and I'm just now realizing it.

Do I grieve for what I have lost? I'd be lying if I denied it. But I grieve more terribly for the apathy and disregard I have shown others.

Why did God let me have bipolar? And why is it that in the process of getting better control over it, I also find myself so severely confronted by my own fallen nature?

Why am I so broken?

I am broken now, again. And... I don't know what to do anymore. The world suddenly seems filled with nothing but cruelty and misery. People hurting and even killing each other for cheap electronics and designer fashions. People on the brink of losing almost everything they've earned because of government mandates represented by a crippled website. People preaching hate in the name of God and other people preaching hate in the name... of all things... humanity.

For the first time I'm seeing the world for what it is, and it has broken me.

Why couldn't I have been allowed to see it before? Have a chance to... I don't know... at least adapt to it. Figure out how to survive in it?

Would I have done better, then? Could I have found myself at this point in my life prosperous, with a real home and a family of my own?

Is this ultimately what bipolar disorder has cost me? Failing to see the world in all its fallen glory, unable to cope with it?

Is this my greatest failure as someone living on this Earth?

I could have gone my entire life with the blinders still on. Three years ago I could have remained blissfully unaware of the hurt I had caused others. Instead I was untimely ripped into birth of conscience, and now in 2013 born again in this brave new world...

And it has broken me.

There have been very few times where I have had any peace during the past several weeks. This afternoon brought one of them. My lifelong friend, Chad Austin, came to visit. He played with Tammy the Pup for the first time, and it lightened my heart to see it. And then Chad and I went to eat pizza.

Chad has been closer than a brother to me. His prayers (as well as those of many others) have sustained me during this time. During our late lunch he mentioned something that I've found myself clinging to desperately these days and weeks...

That this world is not our home. That we are meant to be only passing through it. That there is a Place far better, far more wonderful, than we can possibly imagine.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

-- Romans 8:18-25


I am broken. I will always be broken, in this broken world. I suffer and it is not only my flesh that groans in pain, but my own mind.

What is getting me through this long dark night of my soul, presently? It is knowing that this isn't where I'm supposed to be. And it's not where I'm going to be, forever.

For there will come a time when my mind and body will be healed. Made new. My mind will never again know bipolar!

I will be broken no more.

And in that Place, all of those who I have loved and hurt along the way will at last know how much I did love them, in spite of my earthen mind. And there will be no goodbyes... forever.

"It is a dream I have..."

Friday, November 29, 2013

It's not the zombie apocalypse...

...but it's close enough:

Dawn of the Dead, Black Friday, Thanksgiving, 2013

Going out on the night of the holiday when we give thanks for what we've been blessed with, and then to stomp and trample on others to get things we don't have and don't need, with money we can't really afford to spend.

It's worse than anything George Romero envisioned.

Thanks to Drew McOmber for finding that graphic.

A prayer of thanks

"My God, I have never thanked thee for my thorn. I have thanked thee a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorn. Teach me the glory of my cross, teach me the value of my thorn. Show me that I have climbed to thee by the path of my pain. Show me that my tears have made my rainbows."
-- George Matheson
Rob Mancuso, a very dear friend and brother in Christ since college, shared that prayer with me this evening.  I am going to share it here too, with others who may also need some comfort right now.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Just watched DOCTOR WHO: THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR

For various reasons, it was a very hard thing for me to get through and watch this.  Part of me wanted to "sit it out".  But I knew that later, however rough things are now, that I would come to regret it if I didn't.

I've been watching Doctor Who for a very long time and I've been blogging about the show ever since it first re-started in 2005, back when a lot of us had to bootleg it across the Internets after transmission in Great Britain.

I can't abandon something just like that, something I've come to care for and appreciate so much.  Something that I've been thankful has been there.  No matter how hard it becomes.  No matter how painful it is to face.  When you love something, you stay with it even if you grieve at times  You endure for it.

I can't leave something wonderful and then just ignore it as if it never happened.

So I need to say something about the Fiftieth Anniversary special, "The Day of the Doctor".

Here it is:

It was perfect.

Absolutely, fantastically perfect.

I can't think of how this mega-special story could have been any better.

And I especially loved "the Curator" at the end.

This is a story that actually gives me personal hope, about things past and things still to come.

I needed to see this.

Thank you, Steven Moffat, Matt Smith, David Tennant, Jenna-Louise Coleman, John Hurt, Billie Piper, William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston... and that one fellow who's eyes were the only thing we saw.

Friday, November 22, 2013

I can't do this

I can't do this.  It's not right.

I can't do this without.

My heart is tearing apart.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

DOCTOR WHO overload? There's no such thing!!

Awright, 'fess up: How many others out there have their TV's tuned to nothing but BBC America all this past week?

This has become the single greatest week of television broadcasting in the history of anything.  Apart from an hour of BBC News early in the morning, it has been wall-to-wall Doctor Who.  And I have not got nearly enough of it.  The network even ran "Pyramids of Mars" from the Tom Baker era on Monday afternoon, followed soon after by the 1996 Doctor Who television movie.

My workload has been packed with freelance projects.  If I'm not watching it directly I've still had BBC America on the tube as I write and research.  It makes for excellent (or should that be Cyberman style and pronounced "EKS-selent"?) background noise, even inspiring.  Although the past few nights I must confess that my dreams keep getting invaded by Daleks screaming "Exterminate!  Exterminate!  EXTERMINATE!"

It's understandable that the Beeb is showing mostly the episodes of the revived era, from Christopher Eccleston's Ninth Doctor, David Tennant's run as the Tenth Doctor and Matt Smith's turn as the Eleventh Doctor.  But all of The Doctor's generations have been healthily represented in specials, from the "cosmic hobo" that Patrick Troughton made The Doctor in his second life to the Scottish-accented master strategist Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor.  Along with a whole honkin' heap of programming, such as The Science of Doctor Who.

This hasn't even been the anniversary proper.  That kicks off tomorrow, which includes the premiere of the documentary drama An Adventure in Space and Time starring David Bradley as William Hartnell: the Doctor who first brought us aboard the TARDIS.

And then on Saturday, at 2:50 p.m. EST, broadcast worldwide simultaneously, the Fiftieth Anniversary mega-episode: "The Day of the Doctor".  With Matt Smith's Eleventh and David Tennant's Doctors sharing the screen for the first time... along with a Doctor whose incarnation we had never known before: "The War Doctor" portrayed by John Hurt.

It is as Peter Capaldi - soon to be the Twelfth Doctor - has said: "The geek have inherited the Earth."

So if you haven't caught it yet, tune in to BBC America.  And leave it there.  Until after Sunday, when the Doctor Who-intense programming ends.  Do it.  Or perish in flame.  It's your choice.  But, not really.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Wasteland

Ashes, ashes,
Hope dared for collapsing in the hand
I sit this throne of wrenched heart
In my kingdom of the wasteland

A glimpse of joy, of Heavn'ly tempt
I beheld across the sand
Chasing, chasing, toward earthen-circled bliss
Nought but mirage, Siren song, to my place among the wasteland

Beloved, beloved,
Cross'd hell did I for thy hand
But a plight betrayed, by wretched mind
Made lock'd unto the wasteland

Rejoice! Rejoice!
My Quest'd prize was 'tlast at hand
The road assured, with gay apace
To long-wont sweet and restful land

My tryst was kept, my virtue true
Devout to God's command
Trusted I, brought through lonely toil
To my lady's side, be stand

With Providence prais'd, with thanking hymn
Knelt I, with heav'nward hand
A song of joy, of grateful heart
My psalm be surely grand!

Yet at the last, my prize beheld
And sweat'd brow be fanned
Ambush'd was I, by devil'd brain
Wrought long ago proband

My oldest foe, with ceaseless stalk
Upon my mind be bran'd
A blight, a demon, damn'd mania
Does becalm'd thought disband

Cry I have, to Heaven high
For an answer, would I demand
Can't thorn in flesh, not precious mind
Be I allow'd withstand?

No answer come, prayer be in vain
And nought be countermand
Is grace enough, to have the strength
That unquiet mind be strand?

Striv'n I, have I, sought my best
To serve the worthy Lamb
Are thoughts awry my cross to bear
For all my days be spann'd?

Is happy home upon this Earth
Denied my seeking hand?
No child of mine, no warm embrace
Would turbulent mind demand

And all my dreams, asunder torn
A mercy plea cannot summand
Driv'n I, I am, from friends and love
To ruin-strewn hinterland

And here I rule, a maddened place
Damn'd brain does dare demand
That I be lord and master bound
To reign this lonely land

Ashes, ashes,
Hope dared for collapsing in the hand
I sit this throne of wrenched heart
In my kingdom of the wasteland

-- Robert Christopher Knight
4:06 a.m.
November 17, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

"Physician, heal thyself": Paul McGann returns as The Doctor!! "The Night of the Doctor" mini-episode is dropping jaws all over today!!

In May of 1996, Paul McGann portrayed the Eighth Doctor in the Doctor Who television movie that aired on Fox.  It was meant to be a pilot for a possible revival of the series.  Unfortunately it didn't pan out, which was very unfortunate because in the brief time we saw him, McGann's Doctor really endeared himself to fans.  It was the first and last time we got to see him play the part.

Until this morning.

BBC just unloaded "The Night of the Doctor" upon us: a nearly seven minutes-long mini-episode of Doctor Who meant to be a lead-up to next week's fiftieth anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor".

Here.  Just watch.  Be sure to mop up the drool afterward...



To all involved: bravo!! Now, Steven Moffat, how about you give us some more episodes with Paul McGann as The Doctor! Please?!?!?

(Thanks to good friend of this blog Drew McOmber for the alert!)

UPDATE 10:27 a.m. EST: Look! The BBC has released an official image of Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor from "The Night of the Doctor"!  Click on it to drastically embiggen it.

Some thoughts: it's a very solid transition look from the costume of the 1996 TV movie, to the feel and tone of the revived series.  The Eighth Doctor has been called one of the more "romantic" and "sympathetic" of The Doctor's incarnations and this outfit - accompanying McGann's presence - evokes that quite well.

C'mon BBC, that's way too much awesomeness than to limit it to just one seven-minute webisode: more Eighth Doctor, please!!  And give us officially licensed attire!  I'd pay several hundred bucks for that coat alone...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

BBC releases a SECOND trailer for "The Day of the Doctor"!

"Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame."
-- The Doctor ("the one who broke the promise")


I don't know what stokes me most about "The Day of the Doctor": seeing the Time War at last in all its horrific glory, the return of the Tenth Doctor and Rose, the interaction between Matt Smith and David Tennant's Doctors, Daleks attacking and getting 'sploded, the return of the Zygons...

Okay, no doubt about it: John Hurt as The Doctor that we didn't know about.  The one that whatever it is that he did, The Doctor was so ashamed that he has never acknowledged his existence... until now.  Because I really believe that this Doctor is the reason that The Doctor, in his ensuing generations, has been such a haunted and wounded man beneath the jovial, childlike surface.

(Thanks again to good friend of this blog Drew McOmber for the alert!)

EDIT 6:34 p.m. EST:   Awright, how did I miss this one?! It's only been up since about three weeks ago!

Here is the "50 Years" trailer that the BBC released for the fiftieth anniversary special. And it it is truly, in every possible way, epic...



The day The Doctor has been running from all his life comes November 23rd.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

December 18th, 2015

To quote Yogi Berra...

"I'll believe it when I believe it."

I'll wager an RC Cola and a Moon Pie that Star Wars Episode VII gets delayed to around May 25th, 2016.  Ain't no proper Star Wars movie been released outside of late May, and I've confidence that larger forces at work will compel Disney to keep to the tradition... whether it wants to or not.

('Course, the very first Star Wars movie was originally slated for a Christmas 1976 release until it got pushed back, so Disney isn't completely without a leg to stand on here.) 

Friday, November 08, 2013

At last, the trailer for "The Day of the Doctor"

Two weeks to go until "The Day of the Doctor"...


Now, something to go back into your Doctor Who archives and check out:

In the two-part "The End of Time" special that saw David Tennant's Tenth Doctor regenerate into the Eleventh (played by Matt Smith), we see Gallifrey on the last day of the Time War.  And in the council, one of the Time Lords tells Rassilon (played by Timothy Dalton) that The Doctor has "the Moment".

Watch that trailer again.  Listen to the words.  And look at what John Hurt's "missing Doctor" is poised to use.

Could it be that Steven Moffat was planting the seeds for the fiftieth anniversary special four years ago, right in front of our very eyes?  Could it be that John Hurt's Doctor is the one always intended to be the one that so terrified the Time Lords?

"The Day of the Doctor" broadcasts simultaneously beginning at 7:50 British time on November 23rd.  Thanks to Drew McOmber for the heads-up on the trailer!

UPDATE 3:54 p.m. EST 11/09/2013:  Bad news: the BBC yanked the above leaked video.

Good news: the BBC finally posted it officially!

I did it. I really, really did it...

Dear Readers,

Last night, while at a restaurant with a friend, I did something that I have wanted to do for years but thought would never happen, particularly after I vowed not to do it.

But I figured, "what the heck?"

Yesterday evening, at long last, I ate Bhut jolokia: the notorious "ghost pepper" from India.  Until recently, certified as the hottest pepper on the face of the Earth.

(Yes, there are photographs of this happening.  My friend took them with his iPhone but I don't have them yet.  Suffice it to say they are rather... interesting.)

So, what did I think?  Bhut jolokia is extremely hot.  However it is not as hot as I had long anticipated.  All along I've had visions of my bare tongue pressed against the inner circles of Dante's Inferno.  What I experience instead was a fiery hot pepper that made my face burn crimson but otherwise was not at all unpleasant.  I may try it again sometime.

(For sake of disclosure, I must note that after eating Bhut jolokia, I chased it down with a rich chocolate milkshake.  So that might have had something to do with the Bhut jolokia not haunting my digestive tract as I slept last night and throughout today.)

Maybe I should try the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper next, since its heat is said to trounce that of Bhut jolokia.  What sayeth y'all?

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Review of ENDER'S GAME (the movie)

For reasons beyond my control I wound up going in to see Ender's Game more unaware and "in the dark" than any movie that readily comes to mind.  I've long known who the main actors were and who they were playing, but other than that, including who was scoring the thing?

Nope.  Nada.  And this, the film adaptation of  Orson Scott Card's novel that has been one of my very most favorite books since first reading it in 1990.  A novel that has become not only a bona-fide science-fiction classic but one of modern literature as a whole.  I should have been total fanboy for this thing from the beginning.

Instead, I went in as cold as one is apt to be in this day and age.  Hopefully, it is a trick that I could pull off again...

...because I was absolutely delighted and thrilled with how Ender's Game came through as a movie!

It's a hundred years or so from now, and Earth is still reeling from an attack decades earlier by an insectoid race called the Formics (sometimes "the Buggers").  Humanity barely won and swore that it would never happen again.  To that end, there has been an international effort to find the best and brightest children for grooming into the commanders needed for mankind's next encounter with the Formics.

Andrew "Ender" Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) is one of those children.  And after believing he has washed-out from the program, he discovers that he has passed with flying colors and offered admission to the Battle School by Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford).  Ender accepts, and leaves the only world he has ever known (including his loving sister Valentine, beautifully played by Abigail Breslin) so that he might one day be among those who will save it.

If you've read Ender's Game, you're aware of what is really going on with Ender.  If you haven't and are going in to see the movie unfamiliar with the story, you'll find out soon enough.  I thought it made an elegant and thoroughly compelling translation to the big screen: how Ender is being shaped and formed by forces beyond his control, whether he likes it or not.  And Asa Butterfield was absolutely the best actor for the role.  He brings to Ender all of the strengths, the vulnerabilities, the empathy and the guild that define this character.  It's positively amazing how much of that Butterfield conveys and projects just through his eyes.  Now, that is acting!

Harrison Ford is pretty much everything I imagined Colonel Hyrum Graff would and should be, and maybe even better realized than my original estimation of the character (courtesy of Ford's trademark delivery).  Hailee Steinfield is terrific as Petra: the Salamander Army member who takes Ender under her wing in defiance of Bonso (Moisés Arias, projecting a brutality that would have made his character an unstoppable juggernaut in the Hunger Games).  And despite how he only turns up in the latter half of the film, Ben Kingsley makes an indelible mark as Mazer Rackham: the legendary half-Maori pilot who almost single-handedly stopped the Formics in the last war.

Ender's Game takes a few major liberties with the original novel, but they are handled with such grace that one might forget they are even there.  To me, the most obvious departure is the complete absence of the subplot about Valentine and elder brother Peter (played in the movie by Jimmy Pinchak) using an Internet chatroom to wend their way toward becoming internationally-acclaimed commentators and ultimately world leaders.  Ender's fear and resentment of Peter is also, in some ways, downplayed significantly.  There seems to be no "unable to travel faster than light" which as those familiar with the novels, becomes a critical factor in the story (the movie implies that faster-than-light is now the norm, which could be a problem for any sequel films).  And I thought that Bean (Aramis Knight) was a character who demanded much more screen time and attention.  Bean was always my favorite of Ender's army, and he needed to be fleshed-out more in the film to convey the kind of spunky street urchin he's known to be.

On the other hand, Ender's Game the movie brings to life some concepts that I had honestly thought would have never made it past drafting the script.  The Giant's Game is in there, beautifully and violently brought to life (the Giant is voiced by director Gavin Hood, by the way).  We also get the confrontation between Ender and Bonso (which ends different from the book, but I can kinda understand why that is).

I found the special effects in Ender's Game to be, if not ground-breaking and remarkable, at least the component that the story needed it to be.  In fact, on that basis I would say that the effects surpassed what I was anticipating from this movie.  The Battle Room sequences are a thrill to behold, and will no doubt be what many kids (and not too few adults) will be dreaming of playing inside of.  And for all of their deadly intent, the Formics are an astounding... one dares even say beautiful... thing of pure alienness.  The Formics have long been one of the few elements of the Ender novel series that I couldn't quite focus my mind's eye on: they always seemed something that the "less you can conceive the better" approach works well with.  Even after watching the movie I still have that vibe: yeah, we can see them finally, but they are still something beyond human perception (which given what the themes of the overall story of Ender's life entail, is how it should be).

Ender's Game the movie is the adaptation that many of us hoped we would get and is even better than what we were expecting.  It absolutely gets my recommendation, and I'm already planning on catching it again while it's playing in the theaters.

Oh, and about the orchestral score for Ender's Game?  It was composed by none other than Steve Jablonsky.  It might be his best work to date by far, and I thought it was perfect for the tone and the themes of this story.  How much did I love Jablonsky's score?  I'm downloading it from iTunes even as I write this.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

To all the readers who are guys

This isn't the Halloween post I had wanted to make.  The original plan was to do something rather bold (read as: utterly insane) with twelve pumpkins. Maybe next year.

Instead...

There's something I need to say to my male friends, to the ones who are husbands and fathers:

Never stop thanking God for what He has given you.

You have no idea how truly blessed you are, to have someone to spend your life serving, cherishing, honoring, and treasuring. Don't let a day go by that you don't thank God for that. Don't let a day go by that you don't thank her for being in your life.

And if you are so blessed as to be a father, never EVER take that for granted! There are some guys out there who would do just about anything, to know what it's like to be the father to a child, if only for just one day. I have most wanted to be a husband and a father. I don't know if that will happen now. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life to have never held a child in my arms, to have loved and comforted it as a father. I will probably never know what it's like to do the "tea party" with a little girl or be there for a son's game. I won't know what it's like to guide and nurture my children and do my best to encourage them to love God and to love others. I dreamed for so long of a home built on love, not one ruled by fear. And now, I don't see that happening.

If you are a husband who has been blessed with a wife, if your are the father of sons or daughters, if you have a home devoted to serving God and each other... then never cease to be thankful for that. You have been given more than all the wealth of this world put together. You have a joy that some pray for but will never know. Don't ever forget that.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A personal parameter

I have only always fought hardest for those things which I have held most precious and dear.

I do not know how to be otherwise.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I don't know what to write

Isn't that something.  I have a blog getting close to five thousand posts and over a million and a half readers and I don't know what to write for it.  In the past month and a half I've suddenly wound up with a writing career that until now I could have only dreamed of.  I'm writing more than I ever have before.  I'm finding creativity and drive to write about anything and everything almost.  And I can't write a thing for my own blog.

I went from a nobody who had all that mattered in life, to a somebody in high demand and nothing to show for it.  Now what would the Preacher at Jerusalem have to say about that?

"Meaningless!  Meaningless!"

Yesterday I wrote from the heart and did it for nothing and was the happiest man on the face of the earth. 

Today I write professionally and I give it my heart and make good money, more than I am used to by far, and I'm asking God why He...

"No.  Don't go there Chris.  Don't be angry at Him.  Be frustrated.  You can be frustrated.  You can even have some doubts.  Everyone doubts.  Even Mother Teresa doubted.  But don't be angry at Him.  Job refused to curse God.  Job thanked God and praised Him.  Praise Him for what He has done in the light, remember that during the times in the dark..."

I want to write.  I want to write for me.  I want the Christopher Knight who wrote as deftly and with passion about everything from doggies to dancing to Star Wars to sundry silliness to be here writing and instead tonight at the keyboard, that's not him at all.

The Walking Dead?  Saw the season premiere last week and this week's is still sitting fresh on the DVR.  Don't ask me what I think about Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: I haven't watched it at all, though they're also on the DVR just in case.  Gravity?  I want to see it soon.  Every day I tell myself "I'm going to see Gravity today" and it hasn't happened yet.  Because I've been busy with the full-time career God suddenly and without warning landed in my lap.  In part.  Mostly it's because I have seen success and found it wanting.  Boring.

People chase money, they chase celebrity, they chase after fifteen minutes of the spotlight.  If you want a vision of the modern world, witness Jesus turning down Satan's offer for all the kingdoms of this earth... and then a billion-fold hands rising up with screams of "PICK ME!  PICK ME!"

Tolkien was right: immortality within the circles of the world would be a wretched, damnable thing.  It would be the most damnable thing of all.  Fellow Inkling Lewis put it well: that once man had fallen, death was God's merciful way of allowing for an escape.  Took me a long time to realize that.  I was afraid of death for so long, after losing too many people.  Now I accept it.  Appreciate it.  Have found a serenity in it: that death is not a thing of dread but a gift to embrace in due time.

Why shouldn't I embrace that gift when it comes?  I have fought devils without and demons within.  I have seen things that can not be explained.  I have borne secrets that men have slain for.  I have carried responsibilities that none should have been given.  I have loved and lost and hoped and throughout it all I have given every possible iota of effort toward staying true to whatever it is that God has made me to be.

People think they know what it is that will make them happy.  They think it's fame or fortune or money or... something.  The things that more often than not contribute to the modern wretchedness.  And then they become desperate to bargain with God, to deal with Death, for just a few more years or months or even hours of that very wretched nature.

The Preacher was right.  "Meaningless, meaningless..."

I've been writing a poem for some years now.  Its title is "Cursed Recursive".  It is a stream of thoughts from the mind of one with bipolar.  Recursion is a bad thing, we were taught in that C programming class at Elon years ago.  A program can get caught in a recursive loop, if you aren't careful when you're writing it.  And then it just goes on and on and on and on, unable to break.  Unable to break free.  Unable to stop.  Funny.  I barely passed that class, now I understand it better than ever.

People have told me that they missed my writing.  Well, here's some writing.  I don't know what it's about.  Maybe it will make sense later.  Sometimes that happens.  But here it is, for what it's worth.


Thursday, October 03, 2013

Tom Clancy, father of the techno-thriller, has passed away

Tom Clancy was one of the first authors who I would eagerly await the next novel from.  I was a high school sophomore when the film adaptation of The Hunt for Red October came out and I read the novel soon afterward.  I spent the next several months and into the summer devouring everything Clancy that I could find.  The night before Hurricane Katrina hit, I curled up with my newly-bought copy of Executive Orders and by the time the storm's outer bands were hitting I couldn't have cared less: Clancy had engrossed me again.

Tom Clancy was a pure American... I'm not going to just say "writer" but also, just leave it at "pure American".  What do I mean by that?  This is a guy who had dreamed as a kid of being a pilot in the United States Navy.  What kept him from having that dream was an eye condition that instantly disqualified him.  Clancy wound up going into the insurance business... but he never quite gave up on his dream.  What did he do?  He started reading and researching United States military aircraft and naval vessels.  He learned everything he could about the government and military of the Soviet Union.  And then he set out to write what President Reagan would later call "the perfect yarn".  Almost thirty years later and The Hunt for Red October is arguably the definitive novel of modern naval warfare.  As well as being one hell of a gripping story.

He couldn't be in the Navy, so he made a phenomenally successful career out of writing about the Navy.  And along the way became perhaps the most prominent icon of the modern Navy.  How many other places in the world could someone have an opportunity to do a thing like that?

Tom Clancy - who gave us Jack Ryan, Marko Ramius, John Clark, Ding Chavez and many other characters in a genre he made all his own if not created single-handed - passed away Tuesday.  He was 66.  At the time of his passing he had another novel due out later this year.

Thoughts and prayers going out to his family.  Think I'll watch The Hunt for Red October tonight in his memory.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Reconsidered

Like Michael Corleone said: "Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in."

Last week I posted that it might be goodbye for good for my blogging.  Lots of things went into that.  I have wound up extremely busy with work-related stuff lately (speaking of which, I'm soon going to be advertising freelance writing services on this blog, and if you want to go ahead and solicit my services e-mail me at theknightshift@gmail.com and I'll be happy to discuss it with you!).

And then, from my perspective, some... very lousy things happened on this end.  My spirit wound up darn nearly broken.  Friends counseled me to not be discouraged, to keep going.  That this blog has given them hope when they needed it, even if at times I myself feel little or no hope at all.

Huh.  Imagine that.  Getting hope from the hopeless.  I suppose anything is possible...

Maybe just as writing about the bipolar disorder has been, I should keep writing to... stay grounded, stay focused, on things.  Keep grounded in reality.  Be able to see beyond my own problems.  Maybe even offer something worth visiting this blog for people who are needing something to smile or laugh at.  Who knows: maybe even provide something new to think about.

So for the time being, I'm going to stick with it.  I'm going to try even to have a new photo of Tammy up tomorrow.  The frequency of posting may not be very often, at least not for the time being.  But it will be something, anyway.

Just one thing that I'd like to ask: this is a very difficult time for me right now.  However it is that you can or are led to, some prayer for Yours Truly would be seriously, seriously appreciated.  I don't know how I've been brought through the past week, except for God bringing me to where I am now.  I have to thank Him and I have to thank those who have kept me in their prayers.

I suppose, if there is any hope at all in this world, that is where it is going to begin...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Goodbye

Dear readers,

This is likely to be the last post made on The Knight Shift.

If it is, I would like to thank you all for joining me on this little adventure.  It lasted almost ten years, and was approaching its 5,000th post.  I like to think that it was time well spent and that you had as much fun reading it as I did writing it.

God bless,
Chris

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

November 23rd is "The Day of the Doctor"

A short while ago the BBC finally revealed the title of the Doctor Who Fiftieth Anniversary Special.

November 23rd will be "The Day of the Doctor".

And here is the official poster for the episode...


Ho-leeee smokes, that is an insanely great piece of work!  I have literally watched the final moments of "The Name of the Doctor" at least once on my iPad ever since it aired in May, all because of John Hurt being an incarnation of The Doctor that we never knew even existed.  Seeing him strolling away so casually from those dead and burning Daleks - like a man walking straight out of Hell itself - just gives me the shivers.

And look!  There's a "Bad Wolf" sign!  What could it mean?!

The BBC also announced that "The Day of the Doctor" will have a running time of seventy-five glorious minutes.

Now, if only the BBC could release a trailer for this baby...

Edit 6:59 p.m. EST:  I can't resist doing it.  It's just too good.

Here again - or for the first time if you haven't seen it yet - is the mind-blowing shock ending from "The Name of the Doctor":

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

My thoughts on Syria

This has been one of the busiest periods that I've been in for quite some time now, hence the lack of blogging as actively as I'd like.

That being said, I'm feeling more than a little led to get this off my chest...

For well over a decade I have believed and as of this writing I still believe that George W. Bush was the absolutely worst President in the entire history of the United States.

For the PATRIOT Act, for creating the Department of Homeland Security, for failure to strengthen our border with Mexico, for a war in Iraq with no definitive goal or even overall purpose, for all of the "bailouts" and "stimulus" that deepened the damage to our economy... for all of those reasons and more, George W. Bush will forever be one of the most destructive Presidents that America was ever cursed with.  And I have no doubt that a wiser citizenry in generations in the distant future will point to Bush the Lesser as a grim example of how broken our current system of politics is, and has been for a very long time.

I earnestly believed that Bush the Lesser's place of shame would be secure for a very long time to come.  But now...

If the United States military is directed to take action in Syria, as is looking more and more likely to happen, then Barack Obama will have become the absolutely worst President in American history.

And barring going full-tilt bonkers and launching ICBMs at Quebec, I don't see how anyone else ever would possibly topple Obama from that spot.

Syria is not something we want to get mired in.  Other countries' civil wars very rarely are.  But Syria is the meanest situation imaginable.  The ruling government are not the good guys.  The rebels are not the good guys either.  There are many good people who are caught in the middle of this: they aren't combatants at all.  Many of them are Christians who are being targeted by the rebels.  And speaking of those rebels: there is considerable evidence that they are aligned with Al-Quaeda.

Just as there is overwhelming evidence that the chemical attacks we have seen in the news were not launched by the Assad government at all.  That they might in fact have been perpetrated by the rebels.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are at best, horribly misinformed about Syria.  They are at worst, blatant liars.

And there is no reason whatsoever to involve any American money, any American equipment, or any American life with any aspect of the civil war in Syria.

There are some things in this broken world which all one can do is appeal to God in prayer about.  Things beyond the jurisdiction of any sane and rational government.  What is happening in Syria is one of those things.  There is nothing the United States as a sovereign nation can do to remedy that situation.  But there is plenty that it can do to make it worse, and nothing worse than launching a military strike in Syria.

If Obama does this, nothing good will come of it.  Nothing at all.

Nothing.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tammy Tuesday returns with an ear-full

After an absence of too many weeks, Tammy the Pup is back!  That was my fault though: just been way busy on this end of things.  And I've a few posts percolating in the ol' gray matter that I'm gonna try to channel into reality the next coupl'a days.

But anyway, here's Tammy, in a pose that is familiar to anybody who has ever owned a dachshund.  I don't think a day goes by that I don't have to "reset" Tammy's ears back to their factory default position.  Here she is with both of hers about to get fixed...

Monday, August 26, 2013

Somebody help me out here...

I was horribly occupied all this past week with an assignment and am really out of touch on things.

What's this about Miley Cyrus being the next Batman?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

This week's Tammy Tuesday's guest host is... Lucy!

So... this was supposed to be a Tammy Tuesday: the weekly pic of my mini dachshund. Unfortunately the little girl is feeling under the weather today! But don't worry folks she's got that mischievous glint in her eye which is already threatening to unleash havoc when she's back to normal soon.

I didn't want to make it three weeks without something though.  It was my girlfriend Kristen who had the idea of letting her new Chihuahua Lucy fill in for Tammy.  Lucy was in the back seat of my car yesterday when Kristen snapped this hilarious photo of her flashing a wry grin...

Lucy, Chihuahua, dog

Incidentally, for those who remember when Kristen adopted those two Chihuahuas last month: well that's Lucy and her son is now named Charlie.  We're hoping that Lucy and Charlie will get to meet Tammy sometime soon.  If/when that happens I'll be sure to post some pics and video of their encounter :-)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" performed by librarians!

This might be the most awesome-sauce loaded thing you behold all weekend: some New York City librarians have made a parody video of "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys! And they totally pulled it off in the spirit of the original music video that Spike Jonze directed.

M&D 2013 Sabotage from Mike and Duane Show on Vimeo.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

From our friends at the NATIONAL POLICE GAZETTE...

There was a horridly huge amount of work-related... work, these past several days and as a result I couldn't post a Tammy Tuesday either last week or this one.  I'll do my best to entice her for new material this coming one.

Until then, as penance for failing to have fresh photos of my mini dachshund, here is a depiction of a monkey wearing a tuxedo about to club a man to death as he sleeps...

National Police Gazette, monkey, murder

That illustration was first published in the January 6th, 1883 edition of the National Police Gazette: America's original tabloid newspaper!  And you can find even more classic, wacky, and often disturbing images from the archives at its official website.  Visit them, and be sure to tell National Police Gazette proprietor William A. Mays that Chris Knight sez "hey!"

Monday, August 12, 2013

Father Dowling, mystery no more: Priest of Missouri accident comes forward

I could not resist having fun with that title.  It was just too punny!

One of the more intriguing stories last week was that of the mysterious priest who arrived on the scene of a vehicular accident in Missouri.  19-year old Katie Lentz was on her way to church when a drunk-driver smashed her car.  Emergency workers tried for more than an hour to get Lentz clear of the wreck and it looked like she wasn't going to make it.  Just then a Catholic priest appeared, anointed Lentz with oil and prayed with her.  It was very soon after that firefighters and EMTs got Lentz out and flown to a hospital.  And the priest?  He vanished before anyone had a chance to thank him for being there.

Curiously, he didn't turn up in any of 90-some photos that were made of the crash site.  Between that and the effect he seemed to have on everyone involved, many have wondered if it was an angel who came to Katie Lentz's assistance.

Father Patrick Dowling, Katie Lentz, Missouri, priest, mystery, angel, miracle
Father Patrick Dowling
Father Patrick Dowling (right) of the Diocese of Jefferson City came forward today, identifying himself as the priest who attended to Lentz.  Father Dowling spoke with Catholic News Agency about the incident, and elaborated on the part that he ended up playing...
Though the highway was blocked off, “I did not leave with the other cars,” Fr. Dowling commented. He parked as close as he could, “and walked the remaining 150 yards. I asked the Sheriff if a priest might be needed … on checking, he permitted me to approach.”

“When the young lady asked that I pray her leg stop hurting, I did so. She asked me to pray aloud and I did briefly … the rescue workers needed space, and would not have appreciated distraction. I stepped to one side and said my rosary silently until the lady was taken from the car.”

Once Lentz was removed from her vehicle, he explained, “I then shook hands with the Sheriff, and thanked him, as I left. I have to admire the calmness of everybody involved.”
Something I couldn't help but appreciate: Father Dowling reported that he administered the Catholic sacraments of Anointing of the Sick and Absolution to Katie Lentz.  Which would be routine for a priest "except that there was something extraordinary it sounds like, in the sequence of events that coincided in time with the Anointing.  You must remember, there were many people praying there, many, many people... and they were all praying obviously for healing and for her safety.”

The thing is, according to news articles from the past week, Lentz worships at an Assemblies of God congregation.  She isn't Roman Catholic.  Neither does it sound like the denominational background of anyone involved was ever questioned or commented upon.  It was one person who happened to be a follower of Christ being at the scene to minister to another follower of Christ when she needed it most.

There are no doubt some who are going to be disheartened to discover that it wasn't a real angel who came to the side of Katie Lentz and those working to save her life, but rather a very human priest.  But that doesn't mean that it wasn't a miracle.

Miracles don't have to be shimmering demonstrations of supernatural wonder and glory.  Do I believe that God allows miracles to happen?  I absolutely do.  Even today.  And some of them are of the sort that one can't readily explain away.  Believe me, I've tried.

But that isn't what most miracles are.  A miracle is God letting things "click" into place, at precisely the right time.  And Father Dowling's being on the highway that close to the accident is as much a miracle as any miracle out of the New Testament.

Personally, I take great comfort in knowing that it was Father Patrick Dowling who came to Katie Lentz's aid.  Because if God can use one of His mortal flock to work a miracle through, He can do the same with any other.  Including you.  Perhaps even me...

Sunday, August 11, 2013

THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED footage found! Behind-the-scenes of Jerry Lewis' unreleased Holocaust film

Jerry Lewis, The Day the Clown Cried, Holocaust, movies, 1972
Jerry's Kids, circa 1972:
You won't hear "You'll Never Walk Alone" the same way again...
It might be the cinematic coup of the decade: a seven minutes-long clip of behind-the-scenes footage from The Day the Clown Cried has been posted to YouTube.

Perhaps the most infamous movie never released, The Day the Clown Cried is the 1972 film directed, co-written and starring Jerry Lewis which ended up in a legal mess about ownership rights which kept it from being finished and distributed.  That was more than forty years ago.  Maybe it was for the best.

What was The Day the Clown Cried about?  Here's the synopsis as I first heard it: "Jerry Lewis is a clown in a Nazi concentration camp".  Lewis was playing a washed-up German clown named Helmut Dork (?!) who gets drunk one night and bad-mouths Hitler in earshot of some Nazi officers.  Dork gets sent to a prison camp, then winds up at Auschwitz where the kommandant uses Dork as a "Judas goat" for herding Jewish children into the gas chambers.  In the final scene, Dork chooses to walk with the kids into the chamber and die with them: making the children laugh as the Zyklon-B canisters drop through the chutes.

It was supposed to have been Lewis' first "serious" motion picture: something he had pinned Oscar hopes on.  He wanted to try something which wasn't comedy for a change.  So he went with a tragic story about the Holocaust.  It didn't end well.

(If you're interested, I wrote much more about The Day the Clown Cried on this blog four years ago.)

To this day nobody apart from Lewis himself and a few favored individuals have seen the entirety of The Day the Clown Cried.  Lewis purportedly has kept the only copy locked up in his office all this time.  Where he once was passionate about finishing and releasing it, he is now adamant that it will never be shown.

So this might be the most we'll ever see of The Day the Clown Cried, courtesy of YouTube user "unclesporkums"...


I'm gonna reiterate what I said four years ago: there's no doubt that The Day the Clown Cried would have been a box-office horror and likely would have upended Jerry Lewis' career for all time had it been released.  But even so, it demonstrates how Hollywood was trying to deal with the subject of the Holocaust: something that happened a quarter-century earlier and which people were still trying to grasp.  So it can't be said that Jerry Lewis can be faulted for trying.  If anything, he made an effort that should be appreciated.  A failed and flawed effort, but in retrospect it wasn't one that many others could have attempted.  Lewis' heart was in the right place.  He just lacked the proper pathos for the project, and I wonder if anyone at the time had it.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Who was that priest? Miracle and mystery on a Missouri highway

He was there.

Everybody at the scene, from firefighters to police paramedics to the victim herself, saw him and heard him.

His calming words and peaceful demeanor are being credited with saving the life of a 19-year old young woman.

But he is nowhere to be found in any of the nearly 70 photographs taken at the site of the accident.

Neither can anyone figure out how he could have been there to begin with, since the road was blocked for two miles by police on both sides of the wreck.  There were no parked cars.  There were no pedestrians seen approaching the site, either walking along the road or coming across the fields along Highway 19 near Center, Missouri.

He disappeared before anyone could thank him.

And yet he was there.  His presence is being called a miracle.  And many are wondering if the person - who seemed to be a black-garbed silver-haired Catholic priest in his fifties or sixties - might have been an angel.

Katie Lentz: Attended by an angel?
Katie Lentz (right), a student at Tulane University, was on her way to church this past Sunday morning when her car was hit head-on by a drunk driver.  Lentz's Mercedes was a mangled heap and by the time help arrived, the situation was bleak for a happy ending.

Firefighters and paramedics struggled to free Lentz from the twisted metal.  Despite her circumstance, Lentz spoke with her rescuers about her church and her plans to study dentistry.  But after an hour and a half of desperately trying to get Lentz out, it was clear that her vital signs were rapidly fading and that there was very little that could be done.  It did not appear that she would survive.

That is when Katie Lentz asked the emergency workers around her for a moment of prayer.  And that's when he appeared.  Out of nowhere.  Literally.

The priest approached Lentz and anointed her with oil he was carrying.  He prayed with her and with the emergency workers and apparently anointed at least two of them as well. Chief Raymond Reed of the New London, Missouri Fire Department later said that "a sense of calmness came over her, and it did us as well.  I can't be for certain how it was said, but myself and another firefighter, we very plainly heard that we should remain calm, that our tools would now work and that we would get her out of that vehicle."

Lentz was soon afterward finally extracted and evacuated by helicopter to a hospital.  She has suffered several broken ribs, a broken wrist, and both legs have multiple fractures.  But she is alive and poised to make a strong recovery.

And the priest?  He vanished.  No one saw him leave, just as no one saw how he could have possibly arrived.

Of all the photographs taken at the site of the crash, the priest is found in none of them.  Neither have inquiries with the Catholic churches in the area turned up anything about who he could have been.  Lentz's family and the rescuers at the scene would like to find him and thank him for his prayer and encouragement.  But whoever he is, he has not stepped forward.

It is an absolutely fascinating and beautiful story and there is plenty more at the Mail Online's article about it.

So... could it be that an angel came to the aid of Katie Lentz and those attempting to free her from the wreck?  Hebrews 13:2 tells us that we have sometimes "entertained angels unawares".

Perhaps it was a messenger of God who brought divine assistance to Highway 19.

Personally, it wouldn't surprise me in the least.  I've seen more than a few things along the way that I can't possibly explain.  Things which defy all notion of a rational basis.  And I've had to learn - some would add "the hard way" and not without merit - to stop looking for a rationale behind any of them.  "There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy," the Bard observed.

There are some things which one has to stand back and accept them for what they are, without any expectation of answers or understanding.  This mysterious priest, I would remark, is one of those.

And no matter one's faith or even lack of one, it has to be said: our lives are all the more rich because of them.