Saturday, December 31, 2022

Looking back on '22

Wow.  Blink and you miss it.  Seems like only yesterday we were celebrating the last normal holiday season before the COVID plague hit.  And that was three entire years ago.

"Time keeps on slipping into the future..."

This past year was a frustrating one, in too many ways.  For me, it was that so much corruption has become obvious in our society and government.  I used to believe that we could do something to change that.  That all it would take is to gain enough momentum and we could overcome the powers that be.

But as I've grown older the less that I see that happening.  People see the corruption and how pervasive it has become - and I'm looking you especially FBI and Department of Justice - that they simply give up trying.

Between that and our "elected leaders" spending money that was never really there, and obscenities like "transgender", and our schools and libraries becoming places of indoctrinating young minds with liberal bullcrap, and too much else, well...

It's going to take a hard fall for this country to come to its senses.  And when it does the really normal people had better be prepare to take up arms against those who brought us to this condition.  Liberalism has been tried and failed.  We can no longer afford give it any new chance of proving itself.

That's how I've come to look at things on the macro scale, more or less.

On a more personal level, I think this was an okay year.  Not overwhelmingly "great" but it's been far from the disaster that many years I've lived through have been.  And I think it could be argued that I made some astounding gains in my life this past 364 days.  My bipolar disorder has become much more manageable, to a degree I had never thought possible.  It's taken almost two decades to bring it under this much a modicum of control but at last it's not completely crushing my life.  That is a massive achievement.  One that I have to credit friends, counselors, and God toward helping me reach this place.

I became a writer at a highly respected website.  And I changed careers, to one that is paying much more while also giving me more time to address things that matter to me.  Although I would like to get back into the healthcare field.  That was a very rewarding experience, getting the chance to make others' lives better every day.

Speaking of writing, I was able to find "my muse" again.  Whether it was manic depression or the medications I take to control that, my ability to write had been robbed from me for a very long time.  I'm now finally making an earnest attempt at writing the book that Dad and many others have said I should compose.  Maybe there will be a finished first draft by the end of spring, if not sooner.

I suppose that 2022 was a year, no more and no less.  One has to accept it, good and bad alike.  But it most certainly could be said that it was a far improvement over what most of the past three years have been like.

Excelsior to 2023!


Sunday, December 11, 2022

Status of the book, December 2022

Three months ago I posted here that I had begun work anew on the book that has been percolating in my gray matter since 2014.  That was when Dad told me I should write about my struggles with bipolar disorder.  He thought it could be inspirational to others.

And then of course, Dad passed and that knocked me off my feet.  And since then a lot has happened: the journey across America, new career and then changing career (and now, again), new town and new faces... all of this the backdrop against an ever-evolving saga of my mental health.  The book then, in whatever form it was going to take, is radically different from the project now before me.

I am happy to report that after a few false starts with how to open the book, that it is now well on track.  Late last night I finished the first draft of the new prologue.  It no longer opens with me in handcuffs, being taken away to a psychiatric facility.  The prologue now is one page of Microsoft Word that comes barreling at ya at 90 miles an hour, literally.  The preface was completed a week and a half ago.  Yesterday I finished chapter one and it's now in the hands of a few faithful friends who I'm awaiting feedback from.  The chapter about the school board run is also done.  There exist a few incomplete chapters, which I will be getting to as the Muse leads (wow, haven't mentioned "the Muse" in quite many years, I think).

I want this book to be a thorough chronicle of my life not only in spite of bipolar disorder but also much other traumatic experience, that have only been addressed in recent years (another reason why I'm glad I'm working on this now instead of trying to publish it then).  I also need for it to be a homage to everyone who has entered my life and helped me along the way.  I hope this will reach out to some of them.

And the title?  I've had about a dozen ideas for that.  Last week it was called "American Manic".  But this book is going to be about so much more than manic depression.  It needs a title that reflects a deeper life story.

For the past three days I've been fighting a nasty bug that at one point had my temperature reaching 104 Fahrenheit (or 40 centigrade for our metric friends).  During the delirium and convulsions I came to a spiritual place of peace that I had been praying to reach for most of my life.  And accompanying that, arrived an idea for a title.

(I think I underwent what my Native American brethren refer to as a sweat lodge, whether I wanted it or not.  I was perspiring like a pig as the fever broke.)

And now, I think it does have a title.  A good one.  Beautiful, even.  That doesn't refer to mental illness at all.  But instead could be interpreted as being about my entire journey, from the moment I was born on through young life and into adulthood.

I hope my high school freshman English teacher gets to read this.  She owns that preface!

I've read a number of autobiographies by people with bipolar disorder over the years.  Kay Redfield Jamison's An Unquiet Mind and Terri Cheney's Manic were two of them.  I am currently reading Electroboy by Andy Behrman (as high energy a jolt of a book as I've ever come across).  It doesn't hurt to study those who have gone before.  But I like to think that my own humble contribution to literature about life with mental illness will have a style all its own.  If it can carve out some small niche which readers will discover and be led to think about and even be entertained by, that would make me very happy indeed.

So, work is well underway.  Maybe it will come out before The Winds of Winter (come on Martin, what's KEEPING you??!).  I am looking forward to the next few weeks and months as it develops further.

Next up: chapter two.  Which begins in Washington, D.C.  Or maybe not.


Sunday, November 20, 2022

I have watched Weird: The Al Yankovic Story twice


And so help me, this is the funniest thing I've seen all year.

When I first heard of Weird: The Al Yankovic Story what came to mind most was "Daniel Radcliffe?!?"  But he did not phone it in at all.  Radcliffe plays Weird Al with energy and conviction and of course beaucoups of hilarity.  The rest of the casting is spot-on perfect too, especially Rainn Wilson as Dr. Demento and Evan Rachel Wood portraying Madonna.

(Look for Yankovic himself playing one of the Scotti Brothers, and just wait'll you dig that crazy pool party scene.)

I had wondered what exactly would happen with a Weird Al biopic.  Would it be a fairly serious take on Al and his illustrious career, or would it be a straight up mockery of the genre.  It is indeed a parody of that class of motion picture, albeit with enough sprinkling of facts and trivia to leave one bewildered as to where real life blurs into fiction.  Case in point: Al's mom really did buy accordion lessons for her young son.  And his father actually was named Nick (but fortunately that is all that Al's dad has in common with his on-screen incarnation).

Well, best not say too much about this.  It's better if you go in cold, just like you would with any work of "Weird Al" Yankovic.  And you can do so for free!  Just click on over to the Roku Channel.

And I've seen the movie in its entirety twice now.  But I've watched the scene where Dr. Demento sends Al on an LSD trip about two dozen times:




 

Sunday, November 06, 2022

BEING BIPOLAR, Part Eleven: A Weekend with Mania

 

Being Bipolar is a series that began in the winter of 2011.  It is an occasional look at what it is to live with bipolar disorder... which some still refer to as manic depression.  A new chapter is posted whenever this blogger feels that the time is ripe for a further examination.  In doing this I try to be as honest and forthcoming as possible, within reason.  I am not a medical professional. I am however a former peer support specialist in the field of mental health, and though I have recently left that post I am still dedicating myself toward advocating for others who experience mental illness.  If you are experiencing a severe crisis and are having thoughts about self harm or harm toward others, please do not hesitate to call 911 or reach out to your most available health care professional.  You may also find help and encouragement from a support group, such as those through National Alliance for Mental Illness (nami.org).

 In the previous installment of Being Bipolar, I documented what it was like to have experienced a depressive episode.  Although in hindsight I see now that I could have done "better" and by that I mean that it was so minor an occurrence that it couldn't possibly be called a textbook case.  A truly severe depressive episode lasts much longer, and is so debilitating that one finds it taxing just to get off of the sofa to use the bathroom.  I got off easy that time.

Some things have changed since that last chapter.  I'm no longer a peer support specialist with South Carolina Department of Mental Health.  Tomorrow I begin a new career, one that will be rather challenging I think.  It will also afford me some more breathing room so far as being in the proper mindset for writing.  I won't deny it: being in peer support has been rewarding.  But it also doesn't pay as much as other mental health professionals earn.  My new job will be earning more money than I would have once thought possible for someone in my position.  So with that worry gone, I think I'll be able to write better than I have in the past few years up 'til now.

But you're probably wondering why I'm writing a Being Bipolar this time.

It so happened that last weekend I was in a severe manic state.  I confined myself to my house for its duration, which certainly bewildered my dog Tammy.  She had to watch me pacing back and forth through every room in the place.  Too wide open to sleep.  Being incapable of writing for a website that I'm committed to contributing toward.   I was WIRED last weekend.

Fortunately I was able to see it coming and I knew what to expect.  And that afforded some capacity to observe and note what was happening to me.

I have said before that I have lost a lot because of having bipolar disorder.  Most especially friendships, family, even a marriage.  It was both extremes of manic depression that wrought devastation but as I've gotten older I can see that it was the manic phases which wrecked the most havoc.  Mania takes whatever you have -- be it good or bad -- and wildly magnifies it to horrific extremes.  Mania makes responsible decision making impossible.  It robs one of any modicum of self control.  It lays waste inhibitions.

Thankfully, the mania has withdrawn in large part, due in no small part to medication and counseling.  I've had to address other aspects of my diagnoses in addition to bipolar disorder.  Especially post-traumatic stress disorder: the spawn of abuses from my childhood.  Mania fed off of that, too.  As I've confronted that, the mania has had less to work with.  I wish I could have been the man fifteen years ago that I am now.  But that's a post for another time...

 So, last Friday afternoon I began noticing that my thoughts were beginning to run faster than usual.  There were too many of them, all playing at once.  I'd already committed to working on a story for the Western Journal website and was looking forward to that.  But over the course of the next few hours my thoughts wouldn't hold course.

By that evening I knew that I was having a manic episode.  A bad one.

I tried my best to sit down at the computer and start writing.  But as soon as I did I had to stand back up again.  Had to walk back and forth as I struggled to keep the thoughts straight in my head.  At 8 PM I thought if I laid down on my bed for awhile that it would give me a little relaxation from the madness.  Five minutes later I was back up again.  Trying to sit at the keyboard and typing SOMETHING but there was too much clutter in my head.

It only got worse.

I had to be careful, that night.  I couldn't sleep.  Neither could I trust myself to not do something stupid.  I would have probably started running circles around my yard if I let myself out the door, just as I found myself running up and down the dirt road when I was back to living with my parents following the separation.

Driving was out.  I also remember the night I was coming back from Greensboro on US 158.  That long stretch of road near Bethany.  Not another car in sight.  I turned off the headlights and floored the pedal, screaming into the darkness and not caring if I went off the road or whatever.  And then sanity returned and I turned the lights on and slammed on the brakes just short of  hitting a deer.

Being on the computer was fraught with peril.  I'm mindful of the time that I was manic, after having watched The LEGO Movie, and I decided that I wanted to replicate those characters on my desk.  So I went on eBay and bought two hundred-some dollars of LEGO sets.

So there was really nothing more to do than endure it.  Suffocating with mania.  Trying to stay afloat in the flotsam of madness.

The very worst of it was the realization by Saturday afternoon that I had become hyper-sexualized.

Overly enhanced libido is a common feature of mania.  Something that has sent many a manic-depressive sailing over the cliff of sanity.  Books have been written by those who have been driven by mania to satisfy sexual longings with anyone and anything.  The risks are enormous.  And yet these do not matter to many who are manic.  Limitations dissolve.  All that matters is the orgasm.

Sophocles is said to have remarked that the male libido is akin to being chained to a lunatic.  How much more so, then, when reproductive biology becomes saturated with frenzy?

There are ways of dealing with inflammation of sensuality.  None of those are very appealing to me, for a lot of reasons.  I believe that intimacy is something to be shared between one man and one woman in the union of marriage.  It isn't to be indulged in thoughtlessly.  Nor is "self satisfying" a solution.  Also, for reasons which do not need divulging.

I will not deny it: I have as healthy an interest in beautiful women as most other red-blooded American men.  I also have a photographic memory for EVERY beautiful woman I have ever seen.  And when one is overcome with mania the tendency is to mentally replay those images in one's head.

It does not make things any easier.

And so turning into a hyper-sexual had to be endured also.  And I did my best to drown out the lust to be satisfied sexually.  Reading from the works of Tolkien helped (lately I've been re-reading The Silmarillion).  So too did music.  By late evening I had decided to lose myself in Fallout 4.  That lasted half an hour, roughly.

I still hadn't slept.  Still hadn't eaten anything either.  I was too energized to be tired.

At some point I found myself dancing throughout the house.  Then I was scrubbing the bathroom sink.  Then doing laundry at midnight.

I felt unstoppable.  I felt invincible.

I had taken my regular nightly schedule of medication about 6 PM on Saturday.  That had done nothing to quench the madness.  But I am thankful for them.  Without medication, the episode would have been worse.

It was now 2 on Sunday morning and I was finally, at last, beginning to feel some slight measure of exhaustion.  I took a sleep aid and some Benadryl for good measure, and crashed headfirst into bed.

I couldn't tell you what time I woke up the next day.  Still manic, but it was abating.  I still couldn't put two thoughts together enough to write something substantial.  The incensed sex drive was finally diminishing (although some would no doubt consider having that to be a GOOD thing about being bipolar).  I felt tired from all of the moving around that I had done the day before.

The need for food began to creep in.  I ate some slices of pepperoni that had been left over from making a pizza several days earlier.  Chased down with some sweet tea.  Then took a look in the mirror and didn't recognize myself.  I shaved and showered and that got the funk of the previous few days off of me.

By that evening the manic phase had ended in vast part.  My thoughts were beginning to be my own again.  This season of madness had joined the many other episodes I have suffered for nearly a quarter of a century.

And I found myself pondering that it had not been so bad, this time.  Rarely had I been able to exert that degree of self control over my impulses.  I hadn't even bought anything outrageous on Amazon or eBay.

Maybe I am getting better.  The Chris Knight who is writing these words today, has come a long way from the Chris Knight of 2007, when I was riding a manic high and doing anything that could make me feel like a cartoon character.  That's not just "wisdom with age" either.  But I also want to believe that it was more than just medication and counseling.

I don't talk about God nearly as much as I should.  My faith is not what it was, now twenty-six years ago this past week when I first committed my life to serving Him.  Yet my journey as a follower of Christ has been and remains the most defining element of my life.  That in spite of how so many times I have screamed at Him, railed against Him, wanted Him to strike me dead so that there would be no more wretched existence for me.

So far, He hasn't done that (yet).

He has given me strength and grace to endure, though.  He has brought me through ice and fire.  He has been with me in the valleys of depression and the peaks of mania.

I couldn't talk about God much in my capacity as a peer support specialist employed by a state agency.  But I can say now, more than my own desire to recover from having this condition, that God has been at work even more.

That's what I found myself thinking after the episode, anyway.

So here it is, a week later.  On the cusp of a new career.  I am NOT looking forward to being on site ready to start training at 6:15 in the morning though!  But I think it'll be okay.  This is a real hands-on job involving precision work (no, I'm NOT going to be a surgeon).  When I was fighting some of the worst of depression and mania years ago, I discovered that assembling and painting Warhammer 40,000 miniatures provided a distraction from my mind.  I think this new job is going to be a lot like that.  It also won't be "work" that I'll be bringing in my head home with me, as happened at times as a peer specialist.  And like I said earlier, it'll be providing a lot more peace of mind financially, that I'll be able to devote more to my real passion, writing.

Yeah, I got through that episode pretty good.

Here's praying that it will be a LONG time before the next one.

 

Thoughts about this Tuesday's elections

So... what's my take on what will happen two days from now at the polls here in the United States?

The Democrats are going to get pounded.  They have basically become the party of three things: Hate Trump, wasteful spending, and promoting what can only be described as child pornography (especially the "transgender" madness).  They believe that anger over Roe v. Wade getting overturned is going to be enough to energize whatever base they still have.  That's not going to work.  Except in places that are so outrageously blue that they are hopeless (helpless?).

So the Republicans are going to win and maybe become a hindrance for the next two years to Joe Biden, AKA the WORST president in history.

(How anyone could still support a dementia-ridden compulsive lying pedophile is beyond me.)

Yes, the Republicans are going to take the House and the Senate, I perceive.  And that's going to be the beginning of the end of our problems, right?

WRONG!

Because the Republicans will likely do what they have always done whenever they get hold of the Hill.  They capitulate.  They turn over.  They "play nice".  They "go along to get along".

That has been how they have behaved with people like Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy leading their party in the Senate and House, respectively.  Republicans have "leadership" that is more interested in maintaining their hold on power, however much or little it may be.

The incoming Republican tsunami will be all for nothing if the new conservatives in Congress don't kick the tired old leadership to the curb and take NO prisoners.  There should be NO compromising with the opposition.  Democrats in the House and Senate haven't shown the GOP any mercy these past several years, why should mercy be shown them?

The Republicans have an opportunity to shut down Biden's insane agenda and they MUST take it.  The American people are not about to sweep them into office just to maintain the status quo.

I'm saying this as someone who has become disgusted with partisan politics.  Actually, with politics in general.  I've done my part as a responsible citizen.  I registered to vote the day after I turned 18.  Have participated in most of the elections since then, including the primaries.  I even ran for office once.  It can't be said that I haven't upheld my end of the bargain as a citizen of this land.

I'm only calling it as I see it.

So in a nutshell: the Republicans are set to give Biden a good hard kick in the @$$.  But it will be for naught if they don't shake up their own house first.  Starting with rebelling against their corrupt longtime leadership.

Just my .02


Friday, October 21, 2022

New Substack post: Why I will NOT be applying for student loan relief

Just posted a new article on my Substack.  Several times this past week I've been asked if I'm applying for President Biden's student loan relief program.

And every time I've said no.

Those were MY student loans.  I took them out.  They're for me to make good on. Not the government.

One day, I will have them paid in full.  And it will not be with any "help" from Biden.

Here's the link to the article.

Bipolar disorder cost me careers, opportunities, a marriage even.  But I will not let it stop me from having this victory.  It may not be for decades still... but it will be mine and God's.



Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Some new writing this past week

I like to think that I'm getting my mojo back as a writer.  This past week saw four articles of mine getting published on a couple of outlets.  That's a bunch more than I'd previously been capable of writing.  Maybe I'm finally getting adjusted to both bipolar disorder and the medication to treat it.  Especially the meds.  Can't escape feeling like they've sapped a lot of ability out of me these past several years.

But for now I'm writing.  And I feel great.

First of all there's an article I turned in for The Western Journal about longtime Democrats fleeing their former party.

Then there's a piece for American Thinker about Barack Obama's warehouse in Chicago that almost certainly contains classified documents.

A few days ago Western Journal posted a lil' write-up about how electric powered aircraft still can't match what the Wright Brothers were doing after their historic first flight.

And then today, there's this humdinger of a story about a guy's brand new $115,000 electric Hummer that stopped working in the middle of a highway a few days after he drove it off the lot.

(The article about the Hummer has to be read to be believed.  Or watch the embedded YouTube video.  Heads should roll at General Motors for that kind of screw-up.)

So I'm on a hot streak right now.  How long can it last?  I'm hoping... forever.  Maybe I'll channel some of that spirit into working on my book this coming weekend.

Monday, September 26, 2022

I'm now writing for The Western Journal

The Western Journal is a Christian news and commentary website that I've respected for a number of years now.  And I am very honored that they have published my first article for it.  Hopefully, one of many more to come.

The article is in regard to a VERY ridiculous lawsuit that fast-food giant McDonald's has been hit with, for $10 billion in damages.  Seems that the owner of The Weather Channel is honked off that Mickey-D's won't run much advertising aimed at minorities on his channels.  So first it was restaurants like McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken which were blasted for targeting minorities with commercials for unhealthy food.  Now McDonald's is getting hauled to court for not targeting minorities hard enough.

Well, you can read the full article here.  And I can't thank The Western Journal nearly enough for taking me aboard :-)



Saturday, September 24, 2022

Two million visits!


 

It indeed pleases me to report that in the past hour, The Knight Shift has registered its TWO MILLIONTH VISITOR since the meter first activated in September 2004!

Thank you everyone, for making my humble little blog so well visited.  And I shall try to continue to make it worth your while to come here :-)

Thursday, September 08, 2022

Elizabeth II has passed

 

There were fifteen prime ministers, many James Bonds, four Beatles, and thirteen Doctor Whos... but there was only one Queen.

Thinking of her family and this blog's friends throughout the Commonwealth, on this sad occasion.

Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Back to work on my book

Dad wanted me to write a book, about my life with bipolar disorder.  He thought it would serve as an inspiration for others.  He was really proud of how I had gone forward with having a mental illness, how I was trying to use my experience with it to help others.  I like to think he would be proud still of my work the past three and a half years at a state department of mental health, where I've been employed as a peer support specialist.  I've gotten to utilize my knowledge and experience just about every day of that, toward assisting others to have more full and complete lives despite their diagnoses.

I had been working on a book, and had quite a lot of it completed, before Dad passed away in November of 2014.  And that... took the wind out of my sails, to put it mildly.  A year and a half later I left my old hometown for a year's journey across America.  And ever since a LOT has transpired that effectively make the original plan for a book, well, obsolete.

But I think that it's finally time to get back to work.  Last week I finished the prologue.  I know how it begins and I have bits and pieces in mind for the rest.  I haven no idea how to end it.  Friends have told me that since it's an autobiography that I shouldn't have a definite ending.  Maybe it will wrap up with me going into peer support: some symmetry there, from how the book begins.  The opening paragraph is me getting put into handcuffs for my first time en route to a psychiatric hospital.  Not a particularly cheery image to evoke but it happened, and I'm going to be brutally honest with this work.

It's not going to be entirely all about my life with bipolar disorder.  There are going to be other things too, like the trek across the country.  Something like that changes a person, I prefer to think for the better.  And I thought it could include the school board run, since that was so much fun and educational.

And hey, this will actually be my second book.   The first was a children's book I wrote a few years ago.  Maybe getting this one published will help me get that one to see print too! 



Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Death of a Newspaper: What happened to the News & Record?

Margaret Moffett is a journalist's journalist, and I would say that even if I had not known her for quite many years now.  She has brought her enormous talent to bear wherever she has gone, whether it was at The Reidsville Review (when we first met) or at the Greensboro News & Record, where she was reporter and editor of a number of sections.  She has earned my respect many times over.

So when her essay "Below the Fold" was published a few weeks ago, about the decline of what was at one time North Carolina's third largest newspaper, I was more than intrigued.  Having watched the fall from grace of the News & Record during the past decade or so, I wanted to see what a firsthand witness to what transpired had to say about it.

To be brief: it was heartbreaking to read.

Moffett chronicles a series of horrible management decisions on top of what was already a drop in readership typical of the industry as online news grew.  In reading "Below the Fold" I got the sense that the News & Record's fate was an avoidable one, had its leadership not been so eager to grow too big, too fast.

From Moffett's article:

The News & Record used to be a great paper—maybe not every day, but on a lot of them. 

From 1965 to 2013, the newspaper’s owner was Landmark Communications in Norfolk, Virginia, whose papers included The Virginian-Pilot, Roanoke Times in southwest Virginia, and dozens of smaller ones. (It also created The Weather Channel.) 

Landmark, which sold the last of its media holdings in 2021, was in the business of making money—though it’s unclear how much, because the company was privately held. But controlling owner Frank Batten Sr. believed in local journalism, at least enough to keep editors reasonably happy with their resources. 

The News & Record was where staff received a runner-up nod for the Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the 1979 Klan/Nazi shootings, when white nationalists killed five people at a local “Death to the Klan” rally organized by the Communist Workers Party.

 It was where, in 1985, people lined up along East Market Street to buy Jerry Bledsoe’s latest installment of a series chronicling murders involving three prominent local families, which later became the book Bitter Blood.

It was where Jim Schlosser, propelled by innate curiosity and boundless enthusiasm, delighted readers for 41 years with articles about things he found interesting: an old building the history of Greensboro’s PGA golf tournament, urban foxes.

And it was where I reported and edited, to significantly less acclaim, from 1995 until 2018.

There were a lot of solid writers at the News & Record at the zenith of its glory.  It was the journal of record for that region of North Carolina, and beyond.  It was also where I first discovered the joys of writing for publication: first as letters to the editor, and then a few larger pieces.  I was always thrilled to see a new essay in print, knowing that it was being read by thousands upon thousands of people throughout central North Carolina.

Good Lord... what happened to all of that?

Now, this is just me talking.  Nobody else.  But I have some notions...

The biggest of them is this: the News & Record has gradually abandoned whatever principle it had of being objective and has instead turned full-bore liberal.   It can be seen in everything from its editorials to its array of columnists, to its choice of stories.  In doing so it insulted the intelligence of a vast swath of its readership, who did not care for politicizing its daily news.

As I just said, its selection of op-ed writers has become severely lacking.  Leonard Pitts Jr. is the worst columnist I have ever seen (doesn't this guy see anything beyond the lens of alleged racism?).  Gone are the days when George Will and his kind were considered cutting edge conservatism.  Even Rosemary Roberts (may she rest in peace), as much as I loathed her leftism... she still had some of my grudging respect.  I like to think she had some for me too.

Its letters to the editor reflect the intellectual wasteland that is the modern day News & Record.  When the public input is far more boisterous at the now-online incarnation of The Rhinoceros Times, something has gone very wrong.

Does the News & Record even have a regular sports page any more?  The late Wilt Browning was always a pleasure to read (even if he was biased toward UNC in basketball).  What happened to that?

So much else that I could share aloud, about the fall of the News & Record.  But I will say this in closing: I believe it can still become a good newspaper once again.  It will require some serious revamping however.  And more than a little humility as a publication.  That region of North Carolina deserves to have a journal of record, not just for its present potential readership but for all of those still to come.  Many a time I've driven past the main branch of the public library in Greensboro, and wondered at all of the print copy it possesses of Greensboro newspapers, large and small, that are deposited within.  A printed News & Record and all it has to say about the people it serves should have an ongoing presence within those walls.

I hope it persists.  But as I said, it's going to take some effort.  And maybe more than a little clearing of conscience.



Sunday, August 21, 2022

New Substack: Words of dire warning about transsexuality

Just made a new post on my Substack at christopherknight.substack.com.  I don't know who originally wrote this.  But I found it this morning and it resonated greatly with me in regard to some things I've seen firsthand about transsexuality.  It is with a seething rage that I am witnessing what is being done to kids in the name of "gender fluidity".  The youth are being told lies and getting persuaded to do irreparable harm to their bodies and in the process their minds and souls.  By the time they realize what has been done to them it is too late.

Maybe this will come as not only words of warning but also wisdom, to any person considering "transitioning" to a male or female.  Because the long and short of it is, it's not possible to do that and it's madness to try.  Perhaps this will be found by a young man or woman who is being given smooth-sounding words about their "real identity".  I hope this will make them pause and consider what it is that they are contemplating doing to themselves.

From the short essays I came upon:

You will never be a real woman. You have no womb, you have no ovaries, you have no eggs. You are a homosexual man twisted by drugs and surgery into a crude mockery of nature’s perfection.

All the “validation” you get is two-faced and half-hearted. Behind your back people mock you. Your parents are disgusted and ashamed of you, your “friends” laugh at your ghoulish appearance behind closed doors.

Click here for more.
 

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

People in Poland are cosplaying as Americans and the results are INSANE

Apparently, there are still good things about America.  And these Polish people know it.  So much so that a bunch of them have been live-action role-playing (LARP) as Americans.  Specifically, Americans in small-town Ohio.  And what has come of it is completely bonkers!

Vice has the story of the Polish LARPers, who were inspired in part by shows like Stranger Things and The X-Files (and also by Breaking Bad, if some of the photos are to be believed).  And at least two pages on Facebook (here and also here) are filled with more pictures.  Seems that these folks wanted to imitate the Fourth of July.  They certainly do not lack in their research.  These are just... wow.  It's like that Star Trek episode where the crew finds the planet that's copying 1920s-era gangster Chicago.  The cop with the donut (pictured here) is cracking me up hard.

We should do this here.  Sort of have a cultural exchange.  LARP our friends in Poland for a day.  Who's with me? :-)



Saturday, August 06, 2022

Am two episodes into Netflix's adaptation of The Sandman and...

 ...maybe I should give it time to still prove itself?

The Sandman from Netflix is attempting to pull off what most of us have deemed impossible: adapting the classic graphic novel written by Neil Gaiman, into a television/motion picture format.  This has been a project about a quarter century in development, going from one set of hands to another.  I've been a fan of the comic series for more than twenty years now, having bought the first volume about a week and a half after 9/11.  The Sandman was the literary escape I needed just then, and I've since read the entire series.  Heck, at one point I had every issue loaded onto my iPad.  

So I'm a real fan.  And I've been looking forward to seeing how it would fare as a Netflix series: arguably the perfect medium for an adaptation.

And now, having seen the first couple of episodes?

It looks right.  It's hitting on all the right cues visually.  That isn't a problem at all (though at the risk of being labeled a racist I do think that Death should be the pale goth girl that she is in the comic).  But something is off and it's making it hard for me to get completely engorged by this series.  The first episode is a fine replication of The Sandman's premiere issue, other than introducing the Corinthian WAY too early in the story.  But the pacing could have been better.  The episode ran a little long and with some editing could have spanned maybe half an hour.  There are ten episodes in this first season and I'm wondering if Netflix erred in devoting almost an hour to each one, when perhaps each issue could have thirty minutes of screen time devoted to it.

Speaking of the Corinthian, I don't really care for him being turned into the stereotypical bad guy of the tale.  Again he looks perfect, but his execution is so wildly off that it corrupts the story around him.  Then again, that is perhaps counterbalanced with touches like Cain and Abel, who are exactly like I imagined they would be from the book.

Apart from the matter of Death (which to be fair, I haven't gotten to see her really in action yet) the casting is strong in this series.  Tom Sturridge is as close to a perfect portrayal of Morpheus as we're apt to get, and he brings the right intensity and sense of vengeance to the role.  Vivienne Acheampong has won my approval as Lucienne.  In fact, other than being gender-flipped from the graphic novel her attitude and speech are pretty much how I envisioned Lucien's.  Charles Dance turns in a fine performance as Roderick Burgess, the sorcerer whose dark ritual imprisons Dream for a century. 

Yes, all the right ingredients are there.  But two episodes in and it's not resonating with me at all.

Or, maybe it really is simply the matter of being unfeasible to adapt The Sandman books.  Reading about Morpheus and the spheres he influences is a dense exercise.  It requires a fluid mind switching on and off between the worlds of waking and the Dreaming.  Gaiman weaves a thick tapestry rich in metaphor.  Which, is what the Endless (Dream and his siblings) are: anthropomorphic embodiments of the base concepts of the universe.  How does that translate off the page and onto the screen?

I suppose I'll give The Sandman a few more episodes to convince me.  But if not, there are the books and I will always treasure them for the company they have provided.  Imagination is a beautifully protean thing, and some things don't need to be seen on the screen to be fully appreciated.

But I will say this: Netflix's The Sandman it is an admirable attempt.  Maybe others will find it suits them in ways that a book cannot.  And that will be fine, too.



Friday, August 05, 2022

No, I do not "hate" anyone LGBT

Sigh...

I shouldn't have to make this post.  But as it seems how EVERYTHING today is supposed to be qualified, quantified, factionalized and most especially sexualized...

Contrary to what some have claimed, I do not now nor have I ever harbored any kind of hatred toward those who have chosen the homosexual lifestyle.  Or who are bisexual.  Or transsexual.  Or whatever.

As a Christian, I am called to not hate anybody.  I am in fact commanded to hate my own sin and my own fallen carnal nature, before I dare levy hatred toward another.  It is part and parcel to the "dying unto self" that those who follow Christ are told that they must do on a daily basis.

That does not mean however that I can or must acquiesce to any activity that is self-destructive.

And that, is what LGBT behavior is.

I've seen the damage and disease and ultimately death that is wrought by homosexuality.  Have looked at the photos of lacerated anal tissue.  Viewed images of penises wracked with things that no healthy male should have.  I have read the journal articles, about gay men and lesbians being far more prone to cancer than those who are not.  Human papillomavirus is a really nasty thing to subject one's genitalia to.  I have looked into the faces of people who have contracted full-blown AIDS, and those are eyes that I pray I never have to look into ever again.

Homosexuals have, on average, a lifespan twenty years shorter than that of heterosexuals.

Let that sink in.  A gay or lesbian person is likely to have two full decades shaven off their life expectancy, because of the all too physical consequences of homosexual behavior.

These are not things that can be "wished away" for sake of sexual license.  These are stone cold hard facts.  This is reality, that can NOT be escaped from because of one's "feelings" about the matter.

LGBTwhatever is incompatible with human design.  Its myriad of associated diseases and disorders attest to this.

How do I, as a person called by God Himself to love others, reconcile that love with the expectation that I am to celebrate a "lifestyle" that leads so very often to death?

I can not.  I can no more endorse the LGBT community than I can endorse cigarette smoking, or abusing crystal meth.  Because those are self-destructive behaviors also.

I can love homosexuals.  I can love lesbians. I can love bisexual individuals.  I can love transsexuals, though what they do to themselves is especially haunting.

But as a Christian (who fails and falls more often than not), as an objectivist who understands the concreteness of reality, as merely a human being trying to be decent... for those reasons and more, I can not love their kind of behavior.  Because when you scrape away everything else that's Chris Knight, you're left with someone who simply does not want to see anyone die.

No, "love is love" is not true.  There are many kinds of love.  There is philios: love of brothers and sisters.  There is the love of parents to children.  There is logos: the love of God.  And, yes, there is eros: love expressed sexually between man and woman.

What the LGBT community and its supporters demand we accept is not love at all.  It is lust.  And they want said lust to be without the burden of personal responsibility.  And THAT again is a denial of reality.

If you love a person... and I mean really love someone, you will NOT selfishly lead that person to demean themselves for your own desires, at risk of their health and even very life.

I love my friends.  There are men who are as close and dear to me as real brothers.  I love them and I would die for any of them.  But not for an instant have I been tempted to take it to an entirely different and inappropriate level.

Once upon a time, not very long ago, most men and women were capable of accepting that.  That love is a many dimension-ed notion and that each kind had its own unique place in the scheme of things.

We were a better people, then.  Not a perfect people.  But we were at least striving against the baser instincts of carnal nature.  And we accomplished great things because of it.

As a historian, I know also where unrestrained sexual pleasure leads a society to.  And that as much as anything else persuades me about the truly insidious nature of the LGBT lifestyle.

I could easily sit here all night, and rattle off a dozen reasons and more why I can not celebrate homosexuality and transgenderism.  Just as easily as I could tick off all the reasons why I must condemn it.

And I hope that my many friends who are LGBT will at last understand where I'm coming from.

Finally, know this: sex is a sacred, holy thing.  It is something that I believe should be celebrated within the boundaries of husband and wife.  In my sincere philosophy ALL sexual sin is equally abhorrent.  I can not disapprove of LGBT behavior any more than I can of sex outside of marriage.  That makes me come across as a prude, I know.  But there it is.  I have plenty of friends who do not agree with this.  And that is fine.  But so far as I know none of them have called me "hate-filled" or "polygamaphobe" because of it.

Sex is not a toy.  It's not something to be engaged in frivolously.  It is meant to be a sanctified act.  "The marriage bed is to be honored by all," scripture tells us.  If that was done more often, maybe we wouldn't have things like children without fathers, venereal disease and shortened lifespans.

That is all.



Monday, July 25, 2022

"Slouching Towards Fantasyland": My new article at American Thinker


American Thinker, a site I often go to for insight and commentary, this morning published my latest piece for them.  This essay addresses the leftist fantasies about so-called "green energy" and eliminating emissions.

From the article:

And then there are other considerations about the fallout from the failed fantasy.  Which would you rather have in an emergency, say, evacuating from a hurricane: a reliable car running on gasoline, or an electric vehicle without a ready charge available?  The potential loss of life from people unable to drive to safer ground would be enormous.  Or consider an electric-powered ambulance, that runs out of juice en route to the hospital with a stroke victim.

These are the realities that leftists are not acknowledging.  They refuse to accept that energy comes from something other than unicorn flatulence.  They are instead proverbially sticking their fingers in their ears while singing “La-La-La-Dee-Dah” when anyone broaches the impracticality of their intent.

Click here for the rest of the article.  And thank you to everyone who has written me e-mail about it!



Saturday, July 23, 2022

New post on Substack, about "groomers"

Still getting the hang of Substack, which may be a suitable repository for my more "political" essays.  This evening it's a post about the word "groomer", which has suddenly become quite unpopular on Reddit and other social media sites.  It is the belief of this blogger however that groomer is exactly the precise word to describe pedophiles who are determined to corrupt children...

My honeymoon with Twitter these past few months may soon be drawing to a close. In recent days the microblogging site has apparently cracked down on the use of the word “groomer”. Which has come to mean pedophiles brainwashing children into becoming potential targets for exploitation. Leftist activists claim that it’s a slur against homosexuals and transsexuals and should be banned as “hate speech”. Never mind that it can also mean things like dog groomer, “good grooming” etc.

It’s already verboten on Reddit: a site that for whatever reason I can’t remember looking at much less participated on. Maybe it had something to do with Reddit shutting down a subthingy in support of Donald Trump. So much for being a free and open forum of discussion and dialogue…

Back to grooming. I have no problem at all with using this word in referring to adults who introduce children - who are WAY too young for such concepts - to sexuality in general and the LGBTwhatever “lifestyle” in particular. Because “grooming” kids is exactly what is transpiring.

Mash down here for more.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

PBS documentary The Last One - about moonshiner Popcorn Sutton - is now on YouTube

The legend of Popcorn Sutton lives on!  Thirteen years after he tragically left us, Sutton is definitely not forgotten.  The "last of the old time moonshiners" has been the basis of many an Internet meme and last month was the now-annual Popcorn Sutton Jam in east Tennessee.  The man was the subject of a recent book packed with photos.  And word has it that his original recipe likker is selling well... legally of course.

For a number of years, North Carolina filmmaker Neal Hutcheson produced a series of documentaries for PBS featuring Popcorn.  Two months ago he posted onto YouTube a 2022 remaster of The Last One, which at the time was about Popcorn Sutton's alleged final brew of moonshine.  It's well worth a watch if you're at all a fan of Popcorn or have an interest in Appalachian culture.  It also boasts some awesome music!

 



Find more of Neal Hutcheson's work on his Sucker Punch Pictures YouTube channel.



Sunday, July 17, 2022

BEING BIPOLAR, Part Ten: Anatomy of a Depressive Episode


Being Bipolar is a series that began in the winter of 2011.  It's an occasional attempt to explore aspects of the life of a person with manic-depression, or bipolar disorder if you will.  It's never meant to be a regular feature of The Knight Shift.  It comes along whenever "the time is nigh" for another installment is called for.  In this series I do my best to be as honest and forthcoming about this condition as possible, within reason.  As with anything else of this kind of subject matter, it should be noted that I am not a medical professional.  So don't take anything written here as solid medical advice in the way of drugs etc.  If you need immediate assistance, please go to the emergency rom of the nearest hospital, or call 911 on your phone.  You may also find a great deal of assistance from a local support group, such as those sponsored by National Alliance on Mental Illness (nami.org).

 

For the past three years and nearly four months I have been a peer support specialist employed by a state department of mental health.  That's supposed to mean that as someone "in recovery" from mental illness, that I'm in a unique position to help others who likewise must deal with having emotional and behavioral disorders.

I wish that I could tell you that this means that I have a handle on my own diagnosis.  But over the course of nearly a year now that assumption has been solidly put to rest.  Because I've discovered that in many ways I'm the same way I am now that I was six years ago, when I first left my old hometown of Reidsville, North Carolina and began looking for a new home.  That was supposed to have been a fresh start for me (and my dog Tammy).  And for awhile, when we initially set out, there was that breath of fresh air that comes with expanding one's horizons.  With casting destiny to the winds of the Lord.  And then came a year after setting out, and a situation that triggered my bipolar disorder as it had never had been before and what led to friends having me live with them until I could get my mind situated again. That was five years ago and I'm no less thankful for them and what they did for me.

Maybe it was "the plague" that triggered me this time.  Nothing has been the same since COVID-19 came (and I was hit with it this past December, I'm pretty sure I caught it when some friends and I went to see Spider-Man: No Way Home because they came down with COVID also).  I worked from home for more than six months and it changed me.  Made me consider and reconsider my life.  I got the "vaccine" early on, because my job puts me at the forefront of public health (namely visiting patients at their homes among other things) and in the year and a half since then I've come to wonder if that was such a wise thing to have done (it's not being called the "clot shot" for nothing, but I digress).

Back to being a peer support specialist and being in recovery.  The more I have recovered, the more I have found that I still have a long way to go toward that.  It's a lot like "the Hell Curve" that I first described in 2011: I'm forever getting closer to that Y line of total recovery, but never going to cross it or even touch it.  I realized that even before last September, and the day my neighbors found me dancing in the rain in my sweatsuit and socks and trying to open other people's car doors.  I don't remember that at all.  Neither do I remember the next day and being found lying face-down next to the road beside my house, my face beaten up like hamburger from the fall onto the asphalt.  Eleven months later and I still can't wink my right eye without feeling some residual pain.  None of that, I remember transpiring.  It was all because of a medication reaction between my "current" meds and one that I have since stopped using.

I lost very nearly a solid month of work because of that incident, which encompassed one week spent in a mental health facility while I was detoxing.  It led to some changes of my work: changes I haven't been crazy about (no pun intended, or is it?).

Long story short, this past week and a half or so I've had a depressive episode that wrecked havoc with me in nearly every aspect.  Were it not for taking care of Tammy, my miniature dachshund, there is no telling what I would have been compelled to do during this time.  Depression sucks the vigor and vitality out of a person.  Takes away nearly every interest including the desire for eating (and sometimes not even getting up to use the restroom, which is no problem if you're not ingesting food anyway).

Today the episode finally began to abate.  I must thank many friends on Facebook who I reached out to, who have been lifting me up in their prayers.  I hope that I can be just as much there for them when they need my own prayers.  I have pretty much wasted an entire weekend except for this afternoon.  So I thought, maybe since it's fresh in mind I could do another Being Bipolar installment (it's only been THREE YEARS since the last one!).

This depressive episode crept up on me.  In hindsight I can see that it was bedeviling me for almost the past two weeks.  It's been so severe, and I was so subconsciously holding it at bay, that I didn't realize it was happening until two days ago.  During this episode I was robbed of any interest apart from the meanest of caring for myself and my dog.  I was eating candy bars for breakfast and nothing else for lunch or dinner.  I fed and watered Tammy but I didn't feel like playing with her.  She "gets" me when I'm like this.  When I curl up on the sofa, unable to move, she curls right up next to me.  Tammy understands me even if no one else does.  I'm pretty sure that I lost some weight during this time.  When I went to see a doctor this past week I had lost seven pounds since the previous visit about two months ago.

My hygiene has suffered.  I went two days without showering for work.  It didn't seem to matter.  I just didn't care.  I brushed my teeth, but that's mostly out of dire habit.  Something ground into me about seven years ago when I realized what depression was doing to my dental care.  I haven't lost any teeth and I don't intend to.  So whenever I eat or drink something I'm inclined to brush immediately afterward or at least as soon as possible (which has become a religious ritual after getting home from work, before I even take Tammy outside).

I have been trying to cook better for myself (thanks in no small part to the encouragement of a good friend, hello Heather!).  A week and a half ago I visited the nearby grocery store and pharmacy to pick up two prescriptions and I had no other interest in shopping for anything else.  Well, I take that back.  I did purchase a box of Froot Loops, and that was "dinner" for a few days.  But again, my overall desire for a good meal had evaporated.

Interest in fun things and activities crashes and burns.  All that's left are the ashen remnants of something that once moved you.  I've been stoked about the current season of Stranger Things lately.  Especially the music.  I had been listening to the soundtrack and reveling in the return of "my kind" of music.  But interest in any music has gone away during this episode.  I've tried to make myself watch stuff like The LEGO Movie, a film that I usually adore, but that failed to move me too.

Depression has caused me to lose interest in my work.  Has led me to seeing it as all a vain effort.  I haven't been able to help others, in the way that I usually can and have loved doing.  I drove a patient to a physician's appointment this past week and I was barely talking at all, when usually we are readily engaged in conversation.  He could sense that there was something wrong, and he told me as much.  It has caused me to forget tasks, has made me indifferent during phone calls to patients.  It's ironic, that I work in a mental health office and my own mental health has caused that work to suffer.  But then again, my life has been filled with a lot of cruel irony.

This coming Wednesday would have been the twentieth anniversary of my getting married.  A marriage that was destroyed in vast part by my bipolar disorder.  I still can't make sense of that.  It was something I was committed to as much as anyone could commit to something.  And it wasn't enough.  Why did God let me have something that was going to wreck such havoc on an institution that He Himself created?  That has been a thought that has run rampant through my mind during this time.  I suppose that no matter how happy I might be, I'm going to forever be running that through my mind.  It hasn't been made any easier because of this latest episode.  And the proximity to the date has only made it worse.

Strangely, my faith in God this time is something I'm not doubting.  A quality that I must ascribe to not only my friends' prayers, but to all the other times I've had depression.  In its lesser moments I can find myself able to pray, and to solicit prayer.  I don't doubt God, even when it seems the depression is something cruel He lets happen.  I have to remind myself that being a Christian does not mean an escape from pain: something I wish I had known during the first few decades as a believer.

I would be remiss if I did not mention, that there have been moments during this latest episode when I have not wanted to be here any more.  When I've actually prayed to God to please let me die.  But that's a different thing from having full-fledged suicidal ideation.  Something I've come to learn increasingly during my work with those with mental illness.  It's almost okay, maybe perfectly "normal", to have thoughts about not wanting to be alive any more.  It becomes something else entirely though, when those thoughts turn toward contemplating getting a knife to open one's veins, or ingest a whole bunch of drugs and hope that they will lull one into an eternal slumber.  I will admit, that I have tried the latter at least twice.  Both times failed, thankfully.

Also thankfully, the episode seems to finally be abating, and maybe writing these words out is aiding toward that.  More irony: I've lamented in the past week or so that I haven't been able to write anymore, and here I am, composing a new blog post.  Not just blogging but really pouring my heart and soul into this new installment of Being Bipolar.  Maybe if I can write this, perhaps other things that I've thought I'd lost will come back.  Writing is a gift that I first realized I had when Mrs. Rutledge in my freshman year of high school told me I had.  I've been trying to use, develop and hone that gift ever since.  Manic depression over the past two decades and more took a LOT out of me toward that.  Maybe writing this post means I still have it.  Maybe I can write more.  Perhaps even work anew on that book that Dad wanted me to write.  Dad was proud of me.  I was very fortunate to have had him in my life.  I want to finish writing that book, and dedicate it to his memory.

And, that's all that I know to write about this latest bout with bipolar depression.  It is my "dark fountain": a term I have been it from the very beginning, when it first erupted in the spring of 2000.  Its black waters trying to swallow and drown me, and I doing everything that can be done to keep my head above its currents.  Maybe writing about it this time will help to stop the fountain, if only for a little while.

Maybe doing this will help others also, who are going through their own times of depression.

If so, please know: you are not alone.  There IS help.  Your local mental health department is one resource.  So are groups like National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI (nami.org).  If you are in a severe crisis, you can call 911.  It's okay, it really IS an emergency.  And as of yesterday there is a simple three digit number - 988 - that you can call to get help from a national suicide help line.

And if you need a friend to talk to, I'll do my best to be here for you.  My e-mail is theknightshift@gmail.com.  I've communicated with quite a few people over the years that Being Bipolar has been a feature on this blog.  I'll do what I can to be here for you, too.

 

Monday, July 11, 2022

Internet Archive has EVERY issue of Starlog for your reading pleasure

Okay, this has apparently been up for a decade or so already but only now am I learning that Internet Archive has a collection of EVERY issue of Starlog: that tome of science-fiction goodness that many of us savored every month.  Originally devoted to keeping the embers of Star Trek burning in those years between the original series and the movies, Starlog soon expanded to cover anything and everything pertaining to sci-fi and fantasy, be it in film or on television or in literature or whatever.  In the decades before the advent of the Internet, it was magazines like Starlog that kept our appetites whetted for whatever was coming new out of the genre.  I dare say that it broadened a lot of minds, to things that they otherwise might not have considered.  I for one might never have read a Philip Jose Farmer novel, were it not for an amazing two-part interview that Starlog did with him in 1990.  That's in this collection.  So too is the night in 1977 that George Lucas went to a convention and replied "he's Luke Skywalker's father" when asked what was the deal about that Darth Vader guy.  There was a lot of thoughtful material, some really inspirational stuff and more than a little humor to be found in the pages of Starlog and it makes me feel good knowing that it's out there to be discovered by new generations of geeks.  Mash your mouse down here to find it again, for the first time.



Monday, July 04, 2022

Stranger Things and me

On July 1st I was having a severe headache, that had persisted since the night before.  I went home early from work and took some medicine and quietly prayed that I would be feeling better soon.  Because I did not want to miss volume two of the fourth season of Stranger Things on the day that it had dropped onto Netflix.

I haven't written nearly enough about Stranger Things on this blog.  Actually, I don't think I've written about it at all.  When this is a series that for the past six years has absolutely arrested me whenever a new season has been released.  The first part of this latest season premiered on the same day as Disney+'s Obi-Wan Kenobi and having seen both of them in their entirety now, there is no question as to which is the superior show... and I say that being a hopeless lifelong Star Wars fanatic.

So, about Stranger Things.  This show debuted in the summer of 2016, when Tammy (my dog) and I were journeying across America looking for a new home.  We were in Albuquerque, New Mexico when I finally decided to see what the big to-do about this show was about.  So one morning after taking Tammy out for a walk around the hotel (where she had become a big celebrity, they let her run up and down the hallways to her heart's content) I showered and shaved and put on clean clothes and then pulled out my iPad Pro and curled up on the bed and began watching the first episode, "The Vanishing of Will Byers".

My friends, it is RARE that any television series sucks me hard in from the start.  I can probably number them on one hand: Twin Peaks, Lost, maybe a few others.  Stranger Things had them all beat, with even fewer episodes.  After witnessing the death and destruction going on inside Hawkins Laboratory and the title credits (which I will never fast forward past, not for this show) the episode cuts to the basement of Mike Wheeler, whose friends are engaged in an hours-long Dungeons & Dragons campaign.

That's what did it.  That's what hooked and reeled me in.

This is a series about "my kind" of people.  I grew up in the Nineteen Eighties also, just as Mike and Will and Lucas and Dustin are in Strange Things.  I "get" them and the world they inhabit.  This show has captured and conveyed that perfectlyStranger Things is a homage, a love letter, a monument to all that made the Eighties so amazing.  Ronald Reagan was President of the United States.  Vietnam wasn't long ago at all and our country was locked in cold war with Russia.  Comic books were mostly read, not adapted into blockbuster movies at the drop of a hat.  We listened to Michael Jackson and Cyndi Lauper and Devo and Eurythmics.  On television He-Man was constantly outsmarting Skeletor and Mr. T was shouting "Suckal!" on The A-Team.  We quoted from movies like Star Trek II and we speculated about Star Wars Episode One which was probably just three years away.  And kids still did things like ride their bikes to their friend's house and hang out for hours after school before the phone rang and it was Mom telling you to come home for dinner.

We were young people who lived under the threat of nuclear annihilation at any time and chose to make the most of the moments we were given.  I think that when The Day After aired in the fall of 1983, it drove the point home that much more.  It made us cling ever more so to that fleeting sense of childhood.  And now, forty years later, I think many of us are still clinging to it.  There isn't going to be quite the same reminiscing about the Nineties or the Aughts as there is now about the Reagan years.  In 1989 the Berlin Wall fell and I think we all knew that the Iron Curtain's days were numbered.  It was the sheer weight of the Eighties come smashing against that bulwark of the old ways.  If only that same spirit could still prevail against people like Putin who seem determined to restore the Soviet Union to it's former borders.  But, I digress...

Back to Stranger Things.  I had watched the first two episodes and then came the only interruption that day was when housekeeping came around about eleven.  I picked up Tammy and we went and got lunch and went for a quick walk and came back to our room.  And I binged the HECK out of the rest of that season.  It is VERY seldom that I binge watch anything... but I kept having to see "what happens next?!?"  At last we came to the Byers house at Christmas, watching this family that had endured so much over the past month... before shrieking anew at the sight of that thing from the Upside-Down coming out of Will's mouth.

Albuquerque did many things to me, in the five weeks that I was there.  Leaving town as a new fan of Stranger Things is one of them.  I don't lend my fanship to many things from pop culture.  But Stranger Things more than earned it.  And when we hit the road again the first season soundtrack was playing loud from my car's stereo.  It was as good as anything to listen to as we set out again across the New Mexico desert.

Season two came a little over a year later, and we were in decidedly different environs: living for awhile with friends in South Carolina.  It hadn't been the ending of our traipsing across America that I had originally intended.  But for the situation, it sufficed and even bore some fruit that I had not imagined.  Once again, I binged Stranger Things on my iPad Pro, pausing only to take Tammy out.  Season two ended well, but lacked the "bang" that I was expecting.  It did have a resolution that I was happy with though, especially Mike and Eleven dancing at the Snow Ball.

Season three... ahhh yes.  July of 2019.  Months before "the plague" hit and stopped everything in its tracks.  Who could have guessed that this would be the last Stranger Things that we would get for another three years?  "Not I, said the dog."  Speaking of which, by this point Tammy had become WELL trained to use the pee pads I set down for her.  So there was very little interruption while binging season three.  I started at about eleven and finished with "The Battle of Starcourt" around 8 and by that time was wiped out.  What a rush!  And not for the first time I thought that the show had perfectly captured the Eighties.  We really did use to hang out in shopping malls, ya know.  Most of them didn't have Soviets tunneling beneath them though, thankfully.

And that was all until May of this year, when I watched the entire series again, only now taking time to pause every so often and tend to other things.  I wanted the show to have room to "percolate" in my mind, instead of assaulting the senses full-blast.  By the time season four premiered I was refreshed and ready for the new episodes.  I took half a day off from work so that I could get home and started watching the next season... which is something I have not done at all for the Star Wars series on Disney+ and likely never would either.  Season four was split into two "volumes" by Netflix, because the last two episodes are so long.  After finishing volume one's "The Massacre at Hawkins Lab" I just sat there stunned and dazed.  And all I could think of was "how are they going to top THAT??"

Well, the last two episodes of the season came out three days ago.  I took a few hours break between them.  And it dropped my jaw hard on the floor too many times than could be counted.  And then came those final minutes, as Stranger Things theme music began then developed into a full instrumental composition, as our heroes see what's falling around them...

Yowza!  Season three had cliffhangers.  Season four has everyone dangling from that cliff by their fingernails.  It was eight hours before I could fall to sleep.  No episode of television since Lost's "Through the Looking Glass" has had that kind of effect on me.

So now we're awaiting the fifth and final season of Stranger Things.  I am hoping and praying that there will be a panel for the show at this year's Comic-Con, and that they'll announce production of the new season beginning soon after.  But I will trust them to get it right.  The Duffer Brothers, the creators of Stranger Things, have done all right so far.  They have given us what is perhaps the best written and finest acted television series currently in production.  I can wait.  Even if it's another two years, by which time I'll be fifty.

Which seems the perfect time to enjoy a series about the years when many of us came of age.



Friday, June 24, 2022

Roe v Wade... is DEAD!

Today is the REAL "Juneteenth".

Behold the wild celebration outside the United States Supreme Court a few hours ago, as pro-life activists uncorked the champagne and raised a toast to the overturning of Roe v Wade:


This gentleman is Scott Stewart.  He is the Solicitor General for the state of Mississippi.  He is the attorney who argued before the Supreme Court that Roe should be overturned in the case of Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health:


Well done, counselor!

 

This is Nancy Pelosi.  She claims to be a good Catholic but she's not really.  Why?  Because she believes unborn children can be killed in the womb.  Here you see her weeping bitter tears after the Dobbs decision was handed down:

 


 

I'm not going to bother posting a picture of President Biden.  He's not a real president anyway.


This is the man who sent three justices to the high court, who voted to get rid of Roe:




And see this guy?  This man here?  That's Clarence Thomas.  Today is the biggest day he's had on the court since he came onto it more than thirty years ago:




This is your victory as much as anybody's, Justice Thomas.  Enjoy :-)


EDIT 5:28 pm EST: a good friend found this on Facebook and it was too good not to share...


 

Happy Birthday Justice Thomas!