Archive for December, 2020

Dave Barry’s 2020 Year in Review

Monday, December 28th, 2020

I haven’t been blogging about politics, mostly because I’m still waiting to see how things are going to go. But, I resolved quite some time ago to put this up when it comes out, and the day has come. I shall click it open and consume at my leisure.

Marpril…hehe, yeah, that’s pretty much how I remember it.

Ehrenreich Never Had a Chance

Monday, December 21st, 2020

Alden Ehrenreich is the actor who played young Han Solo. He didn’t do a bad job. Being unfamiliar with his work, and having been tipped off that he performed to great acclaim in Hail Caesar!, which I have not seen, I don’t want to single him out for criticism. It wouldn’t be fair and it wouldn’t be accurate either. But, he did fail in this role, and his failure is an important one because it highlights something we’re losing. This is going to become clear when the Star Wars franchise is wiped clear of everything touched by Kathleen Kennedy, who excels at making beautiful, expensive movies that have no point.

Ehrenreich never had a chance because he was born in 1989. He is missing something. I’m not sure I have it myself but Harrison Ford had it in 1977. His movie-daddy Sean Connery had it in 1962. There’s a certain swaggering confidence men had. It’s not discipline and it’s not charm. It isn’t wildness and it isn’t tameness either. It’s a certain ease, a harmony of sorts with chaotic things.

I think riding a motorcycle gets you closer to it, but that’s not all of it. Lots of guys do that and they still don’t have it. And I have seen this problem come up before throughout Hollywood’s remake fever. Even remakes of silly things that weren’t all that successful, or if they were successful, would not & could not have been taken too seriously. Dukes of Hazzard remakes, Knight Rider remakes, Judge Dread remakes, Robocop. The later version of the male action hero has this “bobblehead” look he can’t quite shake. So now they want a younger Indiana Jones? He’s going to be another bobblehead actor in an Indiana Jones outfit, and he’ll look like that.

Being young right now makes it likely you’ll miss out on it. These boys have been told just about everything they do is “toxic masculinity,” and it really shows. They’re more ready to genuflect before a disapproving mother figure than Indiana Jones or James Bond ever were. They can’t hide it.

I hasten to add that I am not singling out these lads for a lack of balls or toughness. Some of them might have gone over to Iraq and killed people, for all I know. I’m sure a lot of them can bench press more than I can and last longer in a gym than my pot-belly, code-writing ass. The nagging fear is that what I’m describing is a permanent disability, a wound that can never be closed, on one or several generations. The irreconcilable consequence of boys having been raised into men as second class citizens. I look at these bobbleheads struggling to swagger around the way Bo and Luke Duke used to do it, and there’s something that isn’t there. It’s not the “Who the Hell is this guy?” shock we got back in the olden days with replacement actors. There’s something else that has been stripped away.

Some of the young people I talk to, at least the males among them, show some timidness about odd things. Walking with a chin held high, like you belong in the world, is something that seems to have gone away thanks to the text messaging technology. Offering a firm handshake. Even making some money. I’ve heard it said that that’s “selfish.” Perhaps what they mean to say is, someone else might conceivably construe it as selfish to make your own money, and keep it. Maybe that’s the problem. “If someone could possibly interpret it as a bad thing, then you’re guilty until proven innocent.” My generation wasn’t raised that way. We had to respect authority, but the rules were firm and, if we were expected to follow them, always explained.

Young men are intimidated from doing such basic things, and they don’t think about the intimidation. I guess they think these are good manners? It seems like they’ve been bullied away from doing things we did, without preoccupation or deep thought. Speak in a voice below middle-C. Make that money. Look at a girl in a bikini. Change a tire, or if you can’t, learn how. Measure something without using the Metric System.

Stand your ground in an argument with a girl, or a woman, who happens to be wrong. Unthinkable!

Fire a gun. Tie a knot. Identify tasks and chores that have to be done…and do them. Unhooka bra. Spot a contradiction. Start a conversation.

Maybe that last one is the crux of the matter? “Don’t speak until you’re spoken to first.” Otherwise it’s date-rape?

Smoke a cigar. Light a fire. Grill a steak. Argue about politics. Grow a chest hair. Pee on a leaf floating in a creek.

Offer to hold a door open, or retrieve something from a high shelf for a lady.

Now I’m sure here & there, there are some guys born after Perestroika who can do, and often do, a few of these things. But there are also a few who are afraid to do a few of them, and some who won’t do them. “Better to play it safe” seems to be the operative guidance. Well, when you live life that way, I think what we’re seeing here is that it shows. Even if you’re a talented, professional actor, it shows in how you walk and how you talk. When you step into the shoes of someone from a prior generation, especially someone like Harrison Ford, Steve McQueen or Sean Connery, all of whom held a variety of weird, humble, odd jobs before acting…it shows even more.

I know it isn’t a matter of simply being young and having youthful features. Try this: Look up a male actor from back in those olden days. John Wayne, perhaps. Do some research. Everyone has at least an approximate birth date that is a matter of public knowledge. Add exactly thirty years to that, and go find a movie in which that guy plays a prominent role, and is thirty. Watch him walk. Watch him talk. Now watch one of the recent movies with a male lead, who is somewhere around thirty.

See it?

We can’t have another lovable rogue in our movies until this is fixed. Ever. Anywhere.

They all have that bobble-head look.

The USA as Obi-Wan

Monday, December 21st, 2020

“If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” People think America is going to be struck down soon. Maybe Obi-Wan’s most famous line applies? Now that the Internet is on fire with concerned, compassionate people prognosticating imminent doom for the United States, what exactly would that entail? What would the final epitaph be, the lesson for the world to learn from the demise, or the steep decline, of the USA?

I think we can safely rule out “They did it the wrong way.” Quite to the contrary: If doom is near, history would have to record we met it after a good run, in fact a great run, and then it would be obliged to ask the question everyone who thinks like an adult must ask: What makes it so? Oh yes, a lot of loud, opinionated people would line up to shout “Nothing!” But that doesn’t pass the smell test.

Especially when so many of our enemies had to labor so long and hard to bring about our end. Using technology and economic models “borrowed” from us. As America confronts her destiny, we’re looking at thousands and thousands of years of various civilizations doing it the other way, with aristocrats twiddling and fiddling with more humble layers of humans. Nobody has succeeded, quite like we have, in lifting up the standards of living for those humble humans. Whether you’re trying to feed the hungry, speed up mass communication, develop medical procedures to extend life or save the sick — with the United States of America relegated to the ash heap of history, your first step would have to be to stop and ask “How do we make another one of those?”

I have been noticing a common refrain throughout all of these loud chattering voices yearning for the death of the United States. They all lust after world domination, with these control knobs and levers placed under the greedy hands of themselves, some dictatorial power that has earned their trust somehow, or…an enigmatic presence. A star chamber packed with strangers. Some respected commission of authorities, perhaps one yet to be established, that is to be offered unlimited deference by everyone precisely because we have no idea who’s on it. And whoever pulls these levers, flips the switches and twiddles the knobs, it goes without saying, pays no price for being wrong. The world as a plaything. That seems to be the fantasy. And this hatred for a country that has helped so many, is merely an offshoot of the fantasy. A child’s fantasy.

I’m less than impressed.

I’m left to conclude all this hatred must come from our national habit of doing it the other way: Authority must be an obligation first, with any privileges that come with the authority being a distant second, merely an afterthought, a byproduct that may or may not ultimately materialize. Power should be a raging pain in the ass. If the decision made is the wrong one, let the decision-maker suffer first. Oh yes, we’ve been lagging a lot in that department. We’re at our worst when we forget this. But we do make the effort, fulfilling the vision occasionally, and it seems that’s plenty enough to inspire all the hate. The mean children with their world-as-plaything children’s-fantasies; they don’t like it. Being obliged to help others, or at least not to hurt them, is enough to get them peeved. They’re ticked off when they think about others being so obliged.

They want us gone, and they want our way of living gone. The relationship between the rulers and the ruled, with the rulers laboring away under real responsibility, is what they want gone. It’s not going to happen. If we cease to exist tomorrow, the demonstration has been made and the lesson is taught: Mortals slaving away for other mortals, with one class living & dying to fulfill the whims of some other class, isn’t the right way to do it. Over the millennia, this has been given a fair shot in a variety of different forms and structures. It doesn’t work.

It works best when government recognizes the inalienable rights with which we have been endowed by our Creator, and is charged with defending them: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.