Geoffrey Jones

 

Days Gone By

 

2210, 2020

Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children

October 22nd, 2020|0 Comments

by Geoffrey Jones

“In the world we have evolved into Truth and Culture are having to hide in the forests and bushes to survive, but they will occasionally jump out and yell BOO!!”

I had that experience watching the film, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for peculiar Children.” What a wonderful dreamlike series of messages this artful film contains. The film is directed by Tim Burton, story is by Ransom Riggs, adapted by Jane Goldman to film.

In talking about his work the author told of how, as he wrote the story, he found more and more old collectible photographs and the pictures influenced where he wanted to go with the story, sometimes it was like a kind of puzzle where only he could understand all the pieces.

Those are Ransom Riggs’ own thoughts on some of the processes that went into the creation of his wonderful tale. He had been intrigued by photographic art and had been collecting photographs for years. Out of those images, and more that he found, he slowly crafted the wonderful book upon which this film is based (and he used the pictures to illustrate it).

The film tells the story of a grandfather, Abe Portman, and his grandson, Jake, who was raised on the fantastic stories of his grandfather, set during the second World War period on a Welsh Island. There a group of unique children are being hidden in an orphanage run by a Miss Peregrine. This is a story that tells us of magic and monsters, of the battle of good and evil, and of a fantastic fantasy world juxtaposed against a fantastic real world. Like Ray Bradbury’s work, the mythic aspects of all this are grounded in the constant battles of real life, magic names and characters like “The Hollowgasts (Holocausts) and the evil Malthus (same name as the person who introduced the concept of over population, which led to the eugenics movement), the underlying messages here are dark indeed. The positive message, however which underlies everything is that it’s good to be individual and unique as are all the “peculiar “ children with their distinct gifts, and it is through these wonderful abilities that they move to overcome the evil powers that are set against them.

In an age in which most political and technological movements are slowly relieving us of our individuality (not to mention our freedom) we, more than ever, need well crafted books and films that carry such powerful messages. Messages that encourage our recognition of our self worth, and messages that encourage us to have the courage of the hero of the classic film “Network” to shout out “I’m not going to take this, anymore!” and get back on the path dictated by our individual conscience.

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1510, 2020

Four Hoof Drive

October 15th, 2020|0 Comments

by Geoffrey Jones

I seldom have a good clear chance to remember what a northern snowstorm is like. A few years back, I remembered.

Making one of my off and on visits to Kentucky and Amish Country, nature, it seems, chose to pick that week for a grand weather demonstration. I was with my friends on a back road in a well wooded area when the storm hit. None of us thought to move any vehicles out to the end of the long lane that leads back to this mini-farm, or even turn them facing out…. big mistake.

The snow began to collect almost at once. Before we knew it six or seven inches had fallen and blanketed everything in sight. More was to follow!

The night dropped to well below zero.

 Kentucky and Tennessee are not usually well prepared for such an onslaught and that proved very true this week. It was well over a day before any sort of plow went over the secondary road that leads to town. The snow was blowing and drifting even after being plowed and it wasn’t long before things were as slippery as ever.

With help from a neighbor, we managed to get one truck as far as the secondary road and a family member who commutes took it to work, only to wind up in the ditch on his way home. A friend with a four wheel drive truck helped him get out only to wind up in a ditch himself the following day!

All the while we were experiencing problem after problem, the Amish continued life as usual. They relied on four hoof drive rather than four wheel drive. They had plows that the horse (or horses) pulled like garden plows to clear their driveways. I managed to get a shot of this project at a neighbor’s farm and it illustrates this column. 

All this revealed for me again, how fragile our electric dependent tech is when facing the hazards of nature. During the temporary loss of electric power most products collapse like a house of cards. Propane gas and wood would keep us warm during that outage. The Amish did well without even propane. 

We need to keep remembering where we came from. It can be a life saver!    

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810, 2020

“Poor Teddy”

October 8th, 2020|0 Comments

by Geoffrey Jones, Days Gone By

I suspect most families have stories about notable pets who were part of the family experience over the years. My parents once had a german shepherd with the name “Teddy.” I still remember him for his good nature and the protective quality children sense in a pet and watchdog.

One day Teddy managed to get hurt someway. Not seriously but something on the order of getting his tale pinched in a door. He whined and complained and then lay with his head down.

My parents commiserated with Teddy saying “poor Teddy, poor Teddy“ a few times and at that Teddy gave a woeful look and began to whine all over again. My parents repeated the sympathy a couple more times and each time Teddy would whine. This was, in spite of Teddy’s temporary plight, somewhat amusing.

A week or so passed and life went on as usual when one morning as my parents enjoyed their breakfast coffee my father remembered the incident and looking over at Teddy with a smile said “Poor Teddy, Poor Teddy,” and no sooner than he finished Teddy put his head down and whined just as he had before. 

My parents were struck by the human like response on Teddy’s part and kept the knowledge of it. I still remember it even now and at intervals will sometimes say “poor Teddy” nostalgically to myself.

Just lately I began thinking of that memory in a new way. After reading the morning tech beamed news I am reminded of it often, though not in the benign way in which I remember Teddy’s story.

To give a somewhat generic description of the comparison and psychology of this, suppose one should publish a story about the potato famines in the 17 and 1800s and how the farmers suffered both from hunger as well as oppression. Or perhaps any of the myriad groups of people who have been victims over the thousands of years of our recorded history. Today, in our free country the main problem we are faced with is remembering we have that freedom and keeping our political leaders on their toes to remember it too (and this IS a problem). Nonetheless in spite of that fact the news will usually slant stories toward some of the descendants of the varying sufferers throughout history and remind them how hurt their ancestors were in the distant past. While interestingly enough, these same “poor Teddy” news voices besmirch the brave efforts of the heroes and patriots of the past who risked everything to right those wrongs, and left constitutional laws in place to keep them righted. We should write that part of history out they feel, or paint those fighters for freedom as liars and cheats.

It would be something like someone telling Teddy, “Poor Teddy though your tail is not pinched right now it hurt a lot when it was! And though you need to learn to recognize the dangers of crossing the busy highway which has sprung up outside, we’ll still keep the past foremost in your mind.”

Thus by focusing his attention on past woes he might well neglect noticing current dangers, and get killed by a speeding truck carrying GMO produce. Or perhaps a cargo van loaded with vaccines heading to a sequestered testing compound at “warp speed.”

We are a lot like Teddy and the people who play on our weakness don’t really have our well being at heart. They want to misdirect us away from what is going on now to harm us by pointing to the pains of the past and distant past.( Knowing we will grieve about those and forget the present.)

Well, unlike Teddy, we can reflect a bit and come back for a second look, at our trainers and the world around us they are creating . Hmmmmmm I had a feeling things weren’t quite right. Time to put our often misdirected energy to work where it will really count is my thought. Appreciate comments ld_byron37086@yahoo.com

poor teddy.jpg

110, 2020

The Original Alice Story

October 1st, 2020|0 Comments

by Geoffrey Jones, Days Gone By

The rendition of “Alice in Wonderland” starring Mia Wasikowska as Alice with the Mad Hatter, The Red Queen and all the other characters, was attended in large numbers a decade ago. Like ‘Avatar’ this  Alice partakes of a great deal of computer effects. It is based on a combination of Alice in Wonderland and the later “Through the Looking Glass.”

It’s interesting to consider the actual  story of how “Alice in Wonderland” first was created. It all goes back to England in the eighteen sixties.
The writer who eventually took the name “Lewis Carroll” was actually a bookish clergyman and mathematician named Charles Lutwidge Dodgson.

Henry Liddell was Dean of Christ Church Oxford at that time and Dodgson taught there. As a friend of the Liddell family he and other friends would sometimes take boat rides along the Thames river. The deans daughter, Alice Liddell, would enjoy these rides and begged Dodgson to tell the children stories.

Out of the fanciful stories the world of Wonderland slowly emerged. When the group would stop and picnic at Nuneham, the old estate of the Archbishop Harcourt, the lovely Nuneham woods would serve as background for the storytelling.


Alice was so pleased with the stories that she finally asked Dodgson to write them down and he created a hand illustrated version of them called “Alice’s Adventures Underground.”

In 1865 the actual Alice In Wonderland book was first printed. It has never gone out of print to this day.

Regarding another classic, Ray Bolger, who played the scarecrow in the Wizard of OZ in an interview years after the movie appeared, commented that when his group began filming the screen version, no one had any idea the production would become a legend. Everyone thought it would be just another typical 1930s movie. Rev. Dodgson probably also felt surprise at the vast success of his stories.


Imagination is a wonderful thing, and it’s always finding some brand new way to surprise us.

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2409, 2020

Lifes Page Markers

September 24th, 2020|0 Comments

Days Gone By

by Geoffrey Jones

Everyone has used page markers at one time or another. They are the slips of paper we place in books to mark quotations or ideas that are our particular favorites or are otherwise important to us. They also can mark the spot we leave off in a story.

In many ways we mark our life with similar markers. Everyone who was around when John Kennedy was shot remembers what he or she was doing when the news came. I remember I was going to be in a masquerade party and was trying on my mask. My father came walking in and said “The president has been shot!…” That marker has been in place ever since.

Page markers of many kinds continue on through life. Discovering a favorite author or book is big on my list. I still remember staying up all night reading “The Martian Chronicles” when I discovered Ray Bradbury. In music memories, I remember how amazing Bob Dylan was when I first heard his off beat voice. And I remember how, after I had gotten used to his sound how interesting his complex lyrics proved to be. The first time seeing a great movie, like “Gone With The Wind” or “Titanic” is a fine example. All those emotions we felt on the first seeing made that a great day. 

The day we met our wife or husband. The day our child was born. The day we met our best friend. Each and every one has its own special marker. 

When I think about it our book of life is bulging with these markers. And each and every one is worth returning to at intervals, with appreciation for what we have learned and gratefulness for all of our blessings.!

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1709, 2020

Johnson Smith and the Honor Company

September 17th, 2020|0 Comments


I got to thinking about all the fun I used to have reading the Johnson Smith catalogs when I was a kid. Another similar business was called “The Honor Company.” They advertised in Boys Life and Science and Mechanics. Reading those ads  was one of those things you had to experience to understand. Some things are  just like that.
Johnson Smith came into being in 1914, but some of the pictures in the old catalogs looked like they came from the 1850s. Great stuff. Scary and awesome. You could order things like “The Big Entertainer”  for a quarter (The Big Entertainer was a re-print of an old book filled with jokes, cartoons and odd information like Little Willies Jokes). It looked like it might have originally been published in the 1880s. Lots of old woodcut illustrations.
Joke items abounded; dribble glass, fake ink stain, fake broken mirror, sneezing powder, itching powder, fake black eye, cigarette loads, (Bang).
Incredible concepts like “Build your own tank, build your own Hopalong Cassidy clubhouse etc etc. I ordered the clubhouse, it was printed paper you glued onto a box. But hey, no matter what I ordered I loved it!  The anticipation of the arrival of the package was what it was all about.
If kids these days could re-live that I guarantee it would mean the same thing to them it meant to me. Fun, imaginative fun. The anticipation of the impossible dream arriving in the morning mail. It was one of the great enjoyments of my life. I never outgrew the excitement of that thought. 

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1409, 2020

The Presumptive Close

September 14th, 2020|0 Comments

You don’t see door to door or traveling salesmen much these days. But one method they used, a rather unsavory one, not only survives, but is downright flourishing. It was called “The Presumptive close.”

The method worked like this: After the salesman had given his whole spiel on his product and while the customer was still in a slightly confused state he would open his sales book and begin closing the sale by starting to write while saying “and will you want two cases of these today?” At least half the time the customer would buy thinking they had already somehow agreed to do so. The effect usually never wore off or at least lasted several hours. (Meanwhile the salesman had happily cashed his check or stashed his cash and was on his way to more homes.) Get it?

Now to illustrate what I mean about this method being alive and well we don’t have far to look.

Every day in our morning computer internet feed we are barraged with news items and “sponsored” ads which give us information slanted with the same presumptive close method. One example out of many goes something like this: “Now that the age of AI is here we have no choice but to accept that soon our brains will be melded with machine intelligence in order to further increase our connectedness to the forces of necessary change. We must welcome this since it is inevitable.” (“How many cases shall we write you down for?”)

Every day of our lives such “Presumptive” messages are beamed to us. We begin to walk around like the robots the postings predict, mouthing the silly words over and over until, in our tech infused world, they seem true.

But they aren’t…….

We’re still inwardly the same free agents we were centuries past when we tossed the tea into Boston Harbor and told the taxmen to take a hike.

I know I’m formulating my own speech in answer to all this. Something like, “Thank you very much for the offer but so far your tech advances and your AI have only brought us unwarranted survellence, tech products that are flimsy in construction and format and are constanly becoming outdated or breaking down. Phone apps to answer our questions that don’t accomplish this and leave us puzzled over a simple query a live human could have answered instantly.

You have attempted to use your algorithmic methods to weigh and measure us and classify our worth in order to pass out information and opportunity in a kind of class conscious agenda. Even though there is no weighing and measuring of the human spirit possible. Your so called algorithms are only new names for prejudice and bigotry.

Your News items and advertisements are nearly all filled with hidden and not so hidden agendas that mislead and separate us from each other more and more every day.

As far as us having to accept your wares and ways as waves of the future we need to create new laws and rules that will limit you in your constant free use of lies and misdirection. We should cleanse ourselves of all your falsehoods and reclaim our own freedom of personal thought and direction.”

Yes, that and a lot more is what I will say.

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309, 2020

Laughing At the Dust Witch

September 3rd, 2020|0 Comments

Years ago I read the fantasy novel by Ray Bradbury “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” I was a teenager at the time so it wasn’t hard to remember back to the age of the 13-year old hero, Will Holloway. It’s a great age of alertness and awareness and Bradbury’s characters are always that. The story revolves around a father (Charles Holloway), his son Will, and Will’s best friend (Jim Nightshade), along with various villagers and lastly the ominous beings in a traveling carnival that comes to town headed by someone who seems to be the Devil himself (Mr. Dark). 

Though the father and the boys and Mr. Dark are the main characters in the story, another being who is almost no set character at all loomed large to me. Now that I look back on it that entity was pivotal to the whole message Bradbury was conveying.

The character was designated “The Dust Witch” and in depth of evil intent rivals the Ringmaster “Mr. Dark” himself. The Carnival characters are malevolent beings feeding on the life force of the inhabitants of the villages they visit while also pretending they will grant all their most secret needs and wishes. 

Cutting to the main point I gathered from this wonderful classic, the key moment of victory against the Satanic circus is when Charles Holloway, weakened by an injured hand and failing heart from a battle with Mr. Dark, is nearly finished off by the dust witch but suddenly revives when he realizes how ridiculous she is. He laughs at her and this laughter drives her back and away. He ultimately shoots her with a bullet from a carnival rifle carved with a smile, destroying all her evil completely.

This realization of the power of reflection and humor to overcome those things that frighten and weaken us is something we need to think about very seriously right now. 

Are we being frightened and cowed on a daily basis by the events of recent months? Are we acting like fools ourselves because we don’t know how to fight back against ongoing politically correct tainted shaming and manipulation? 

Are we on the verge of giving up altogether those freedoms and liberties that made our country a unique example of human idealism for the whole world to consider?

To quote Vachel Lindsay in the last line of his short poem “The Leaden Eyed,” “Not that they die, But that they die like sheep..” We must cease going that route of the Leaden Eyed. We are being held hostage by many lies and half truths right now. And we are being hurried in directions that only promise worse by those who already admit they will bear no responsibility for the health risks and losses in our freedom and personal autonomy we would face in the upcoming months and years.

We need to remember who we are, and remember it now! There are Dust Witches to vanquish! But I have total faith we are equal to the task of putting them in their place.

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2708, 2020

ORATORY

August 27th, 2020|0 Comments

Oratory, it is an old and respected form of communication. When I think of oratory I think first of Williams Jennings Bryan. His ‘Cross of Gold’ speech in defense of the small farmers against the rich banks and railroads during the late 1800s has gone down as one of the greatest examples in modern history. I quote an example “I tell you that the great cities rest upon these broad and fertile prairies. Burn down these cities and leave our farms and your cities will spring up again, as if by magic. But destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.”

Obviously Bryan was firmly behind the common man.

The other great example I think of is Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg address. An example.

“But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. …”

The crafting of the address is as skillful as anything the poet Emily Dickinson ever wrote. Every word rings true.

Modern folks who wish to pursue oratory, (and I understand there are some serious efforts in this direction) are following a good tradition. I strongly suggest they study well the work of their precursors. Not just for content but for depth. Oratory that is meaningful, well thought out, and true is a great addition to our society. It gives voice to the unspoken thoughts of many and encourages and inspires the good work of life.

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1308, 2020

Golden Pond

August 13th, 2020|0 Comments

 

ON GOLDEN POND, from left: Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda, 1981. ©Universal/courtesy Everett Collection

Henry Fonda was one of the greatest actors of the twentieth century. He just happened to father two of the stormiest petrels that century produced. “Easy Rider” himself Peter Fonda and, of course, Jane Fonda.

In the old days they used expressions like “Bringing honored gray hair to sadness.” This meant the kids went wild and left the parents to pay the piper.

Henry may have felt that way sometimes, he had great trouble showing his real emotions (much like his character, Norman Thayer in Golden Pond). He loved his wild kids but had a hard time telling them so.

Life is such a classroom and when you think about it, we are all “Home Schooled” in so many ways. Henry learned a hard lesson but he learned it in time to turn in his report.

He was in England, very near the end of his life, when he gave an interview in which he confessed his emotional coldness and his real love for his children. I remember seeing the interview and recall he had tears in his eyes.

I know it meant a lot to his children. It closed a big chapter in a beautiful way. Not many have had the opportunity to live out their life-lessons in front of millions. I think he knew what a great blessing it was.

608, 2020

Lessons Left by James and Natalie

August 6th, 2020|0 Comments

Leadership can take a lot of forms. One thing leaders have in common, however, is that they “go before.”  Leaders quite often have characteristics synonymous with heroes and heroism.

We all know the stories of great leaders who led the way in battle. But leaders have equally influenced things by leading the way in spiritual or creative endeavors. Great actors and actresses like great writers, show us prototypes and archetypes. Figures who illuminate our lives and the world around us who help us gauge our place in life and find myriads of  ways to emerge and grow.

James Dean and Natalie Wood were such forces. Both together, in the film  “Rebel without a Cause” and separately in their individual careers, their much too short lives blazed a path that is still clear and bright after decades. That personal  destiny played a part in their lives and roles, I have little doubt.

“Rebel Without A Cause”  is a masterpiece. It gave the two young stars the perfect vehicle for displaying the foibles of human nature and the powerful antidote two thoughtful and synchronized young lovers can interject into the fray. Seldom  since Romeo and Juliet has a dramatic work rung so true, and unlike Shakespeare’s play this couple live to continue fighting toward the light, another day.

Dean’s early death at age 24 sealed his place in art and history. The world is fortunate to still  have the three great works he illuminated with his unique genius during that short life.

Natalie Wood was also to die young, but she lived to star in a science fiction work which I feel certain will continue as a classic of its time for years to come. “Brainstorm” in which she co-starred with Christopher Walken, tells a tale of good technology (a machine that can read people’s minds and play back the results into another persons mind) turned bad by greedy and short sighted scientists and  militarists who mean to distort its purposes for spying and torture uses.

The two lead characters still manage to thwart the wrongful efforts, at least long enough to experience breakthroughs in the knowledge of the transition that takes place at the time of death. This happens when  they manage to play back a tape of someone’s death experience from a heart attack (Louise Fletcher plays that role).  Ironically Wood herself, died mysteriously during the making of the film. The producer still, at great effort and expense brought the project to fruition several years later. It ranks high as a warning to us in our present time as we see technology perverted from its higher potential at every turn. 

Those two candles in the wind,  James and Natalie left a legacy to be honored and re-experienced. We need those continued lessons in relationships, and in ethics. I doubt they realized themselves how great a contribution they were making. They were leaders in the best sense of the word.

3007, 2020

Ladybug

July 30th, 2020|0 Comments

I remember a morning, some years back, I walked to the diner where I have my morning coffee and start my day.

When I sat down I noticed a lady bug was sitting on my left sleeve . Carefully I took it outside and set it on a flowering bush nearby. “That’s good luck,” I commented to a friend of mine. 

When I sat back down a memory came to me of a television playlet I had seen years ago when I was a child. The program had told the story of a little French boy, Benny, (played by an actor named Michael Petit) and his efforts to be a chess champion even including going up against a computerized robot. Those were much earlier days of technology and the robot was played, almost benignly, by the classic “Robby the Robot.” 

Another chess player was hoping to see little “Benny” fail in his quest against the unbeatable robot but as fate would have it a little lady bug who Benny had liberated earlier with the words “Lady bug, Ladybug, fly away home, your house is on fire and your children will burn….” flies onto the robot’s helmet and getting access to the robot’s circuitry causes a massive short-out which wins Benny the game. 

To me there was a wonderful message in this little fable. A message more relevant now than when the play first appeared. Wrongful Technology can be beaten by the natural. However, it is bent out of shape by the greedy to work against us there are still forces in the natural world that will even things out, 

GMO’s that hurt our health, Surveillance equipment that siphon our freedoms, plans, starting in Belgium to OK euthanasia for old people and little children, efforts of greedy scientists to own our very DNA. These plans will, ultimately fail as avarice usually fails in the lessons we’ve learned from history. Nature and the human spirit can only be bent so far in the wrong direction until, like grass growing through cement, they make their way back toward the sun. 

I’m thankful for ladybugs. Both the one on my arm and the one in the story.  

1607, 2020

Diogenes, Meet Dr. Jensen

July 16th, 2020|0 Comments

I had my memory of the philosopher, Diogenes, brought back to me, not by a course in ancient history but by watching the Mel Gibson thriller “Edge of Darkness.” The film is about a crooked government plot involving the murder of Emma Craven, a young whistleblower and her father’s effort to uncover the perpetrators of the crime.

Ray Winstone’s character, Capt. Jedburgh, is sent to assassinate Detective Craven, (Gibson) but in seeing his painful yet steadfast efforts to unravel his daughter’s murder, decides to aid him instead. He tells Craven that he feels like Diogenes “That guy who walked around with a lamp looking for an honest man.” Craven asks him “How did it turn out?” Jedburgh answers, “What, for him? I don’t remember, but you and I did pretty good.”

In the case of Dr. and Senator Scott Jensen, America has done pretty good too.

Dr Jensen has been a Doctor for 40 years. He is that classic kind of doctor I remember from years past before the new corporate model came in during the Nixon administration.

Earlier Doctors were more devoted to their patients than to their mansions and golf courses. They recognized each person not as a statistic but as an individual. They made house calls. They followed up on their patients’ progress.

So when the more modern medical establishment came to Dr Jensen and encouraged him to be deceptive in writing out death certificates in relation to the Covid 19 epidemic,featuring Covid19, regardless of the actual main cause of death, they met an honest man.

Dr Jensen reported the development publicly, even showing the document he had received, making him not only an honest physician but an honest politician as well (an even rarer commodity). Honesty is not rewarded in modern corporate America. Only a few thousand people watched his first posting. I saw it and when posting it on Facebook found myself meeting with angry responses for daring to post such a thing. 

Apparently, believing themselves to be unnoticed, the higher ups began to mount a campaign to punish Dr. Jensen for his openhearted honesty. Cloaking the accusers in the protective mask of anonymity, Dr. Jensen was informed that unnamed persons had accused him of “Spreading disinformation” and “reckless advice.” Dr. Jensen was amazed. He commented “If this could happen to me, it could happen to anybody.” He decided to share his experiences once again. This time modern technology actually paid off. His posting has gone viral and is presently seen by millions upon millions of people. He is beginning to be interviewed on talk shows and podcasts. Those who have been afraid to question the curious coincidences of constitutional freedoms being infringed upon daily and rights stomped upon in what the media has called “doing the right thing” are beginning to creep out of their hiding places and get some of their courage back. What other false information is being foisted upon us during this terrible time? What other paths to destruction are we being “instructed” to follow? The sorting out process is just beginning.

The days ahead will tell us the outcome. Thank you, Dr. Jensen, for reminding us some of what we’re made of. Diogenes would have been proud.

 

207, 2020

On Columbus and others at Independence Day 2020

July 2nd, 2020|0 Comments

We have a long way to go… of that much I’m certain

In the early days of our human race we had hunters and gatherers. Now it would appear that quality has, for the time being, degenerated into a constant search for what is bad and negative and destructive in our fellow man (while attempting to avoid looking at the same qualities in ourselves).

The findings are presented to us in the morning news.

We spent last Columbus day reading… not accounts of the reaching out of forces to pull the world closer together in times of exploration. We heard about the ugly and destructive way Columbus bungled his dealings with the indigenous peoples he confronted. The conclusion presented after a fling into horror was that we drop Columbus as an historical hero and honor the indigenous people instead.

Of course the built-in flaw in this plan is that the same approach, at some point can also be aimed at the indigenous people. Tales of horror, torture, cannibalism (as in what happened to Verrazzano) and other traits of our human nature will be found here as well. Eventually we become like the drunk man who falls on the Limburger cheese and after roaming around a bit, decides “the whole world stinks.” (And we all know where the smell was coming from.)

We have given similar treatment to the memories of many of our founding fathers who took from the best in their natures and fought for our liberty and to create a protective constitution for us. A constitution that is in place for everyone here in our country. Not just some.

So what point am I making? That the findings of Dr Zimbardo and Dr Milgrim are quite correct. Given permission, and often light permission we will all, men and women alike, perpetrate atrocities. If we’re going to look at ourselves let’s really do it folks.

When the men or women who thought they were giving electric shocks to people in another room and could hear their screams of pain were told to keep turning the power up a further notch, they did it without question to the point where death would have occurred. When the Jailers in the Prison experiment realized they had been granted the mock power to exercise cruelty over the prison inmates, they did it gladly and with real sadism. The prisoners suffered terribly, and were willing to suffer as their part in the experiment. These were not people gathered from an insane asylum or such; these were well-educated students demonstrating their human nature. And from this we learn.

We hear tales of wealthy motion picture magnates who abused their power and took advantage of those who worked for them. They were guilty of ugly and sociopathic behavior. Ugly and self-serving to the max. Famous actors and politicians who have been guilty of the same and similar offenses all point fingers and say “tisk, tisk.” We take turns siding with one unsavory politician or another not looking at the fact that a good portion of the brew is sour.

We tear down statues of those who once perpetuated slavery, feeling justified because of our cause in acting like vandals and thieves, until we also tear down a peace statue, but that’s OK because our cause was good. Then we go home stopping by a giant chain store that offers low prices because many of its suppliers live in other countries and work for pennies an hour, some living in boxes and with nothing remotely like adequate food to eat. But that’s OK because we don’t see them. Out of sight out of mind. My, what bargains we got! We sit and eat our overly large supper with a feeling of total complacency. We made a statement about slavery today.

So what am I suggesting? That we realize that where there are wrongs we can certainly work to change them. But throwing out the good of history because there was also bad is for us a kind of suicide. We recognise ourselves in the badness. We should. When we shrink from those lessons it is ourselves we shrink from. That recognition leads us often to throw away our mirror and try to point a finger at anyone but us.

We shrink from our religion also. It is a little too close for comfort for us because it illuminates our proclivity for evil. But the spiritual lessons are good ones. “He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone,” How much better could that have been said by a complacent scientist or tech wizard? We learned along the way but the lazy part of our natures wants to spurn the knowledge. Easier to call the higher spiritual values of the centuries “Myth” and “make believe,” certainly much easier than actually trying to follow strong, moral precepts and lessons. We try to transfer our allegiance from a spiritual outlook to a scientific one, only to find out that our human flaws follow us the whole journey and are still fully intact. And we are much less comforted by the thought that we have only ourselves to turn to, knowing when we are honest just how imperfect we actually are. Looking to a higher and perfectible self was one of the good lessons we learned. It gave us saints and heroes to sustain us. Of course we are loath to see it go. And the good in us will not let it. That is the other side of the coin.

One story I saw in the news was I think quite hopeful. One person after a very graphic account of Columbus’ wrongdoings pointed out the rightness of another early companion of Columbus, Las Cassas. How he took up for the poorly treated Natives of America and urged against slavery (the writer did his homework properly in also pointing out LasCassas had originally sponsored slavery but saw the error of his ways and changed). This lesson gives us the full picture to work with. How we can raise ourselves beyond our lower human nature to heroic activity. How we can make that choice and have it real. I’m glad to have found that story. It’s the nugget we need. We should keep Columbus, because bad and good, he’s part of us. We keep LasCassas too because, thankfully, he’s also part of us. Out of our uncensored history we find the true strength to look at ourselves first when heading out to judge the world and our human past. 

2506, 2020

Rude New World

June 25th, 2020|0 Comments

Now that we are actually living in the time envisioned by Aldous Huxley in Brave New World and George Orwell in 1984, we find that as well as being increasingly harmful to individual freedom and creativity, it is also filled with unspeakable rudeness. Tech Rudeness.

If we went into a restaurant for a festive outing, and no sooner than we sit down to order a pleasant meal, out of nowhere, a group of well-to-do people sit down with us and begin ordering and telling us what we should be ordering, then after partaking of the meal while talking loudly all through it, the uninvited guests leave informing us we need to cover the tab. We would be outraged beyond belief and, needless to say, we wouldn’t let this happen twice.

And yet we are now spending our money on products that do just that and worse. Products that will interrupt us while we are writing notes, checking on weather, reading news stories. Just about everything we do. They leave their prompts on the screen and wait with baited antenna to see which we will use. They tell us what to think, and that we should  think it. These intrusive apps on our phones, computers, televisions and soon to be attached to our heads behave in a way an eight year old school child of years past would have been ashamed to admit to.

So much of this rudeness is delivered in an elaborate and showy form, which in fact, adds further insult to injury. We are constantly told how we are soon to be the happy recipients of the latest, ( to approximate the language) “Innovative solutions, proving that disruption brings order to the entire infrastructure through total data connectivity..” etc. etc. And shouldn’t we be glad.. (and we have no choice anyway because this is relentless tech progress.)

Who are we poor peons to question such elaborate, scholarly sounding jargon as this as it is constantly foisted upon us? 

It reminds me of the showy CGI displays on black holes and what they are of a few years back. We are encouraged to sit speechless before these impressive productions, such a dramatic presentation must hold ultimate truth we humbly think. Until, of course, Stephen Hawking changes his mind, as he did recently. Then, wow, back to the old CGI drawing board. Oops.

The Wizard of OZ was a good guy when he hid behind the curtain and used his august image to help endow his friends with more faith in themselves and their individual gifts.

The modern wizards hide behind curtains too, but for no such good purpose. In fact their purpose is pretty much the exact opposite. They are self serving business people who seek to standardize the mass of us into non-thinking workers and customers. While they portray their products as being streamlined space age innovations, the products actually represent the greedy mercenary anxiousness of their creators. Just as stuffed sausage often looks good on the outside but as we know when we think about it, the inside is made palatable largely by its high seasoning not quality of content. They are so anxious for quick sales that they are clumsily giving their agendas away on an almost daily basis. And for that, I am most glad. 

Without bothering to ask us, these hucksters also insinuated themselves into our educational systems, thinking most likely to increase control over our thinking at the youngest most impressionable ages. Fortunately this first covert attempt failed. Now these same folks plan to create entire tech cities where they, and their products, can rule and be worshipped. However, as we have always seen, wrongful human systems and creations ultimately crumble. Thousands of years of our history have taught us this. We still have our free will, and we will use it one more time to restore the balance. The dumbing down hasn’t worked yet.

I never tire of quoting Ray Bradbury’s poem, “The Machines beyond Shylock” where he made it clear the machines were just what they are programmed to be, “stuff right, get right, stuff rot, get rot.” Our present machines have been and are being used to spy on us, politically influence us, condition us, and rob us. You can judge for yourself what they are stuffed with.

 

1806, 2020

The Purge Election Year Part 2

June 18th, 2020|0 Comments

 

Well it’s election year again, and this reminded me of a movie I commented on last election year, aptly enough titled “Election Year.” At the time I noted that the film, if read as social commentary, was using an extreme “overkill” method in its depiction of “artificially generated strife and violence” as well as “subtle methods to faze out portions of the lower middle class and poor,” etc.etc.

Well having read the usual tech augmented morning news today, I feel that if anything it was understated. I give it to you now, four years later, just as it appeared in 2016 :

The Purge Election Year

Every now and then I find a statement, whether in a book or film that makes me outright want to cheer. Watching the latest offering from the “Purge” series was one of those times. 


I believe shock value, when used effectively, can really get the job done in point making. This horrific film does just that.

The film really needs to be watched cold but I will comment that it very well relates to every serious problem we, as a country, have been experiencing these last years: Government overeach, class warfare, political correctness,
economic slavery, artificially generated strife and violence, misuse of religious and moral concepts by those with negative agendas and much more.


While the people who have been behind the dirty work in our present climate quite often have used much more subtle methods to accomplish the same ends of fazing out the population of the “inferior and unproductive lower middle class and poor.”

The dramatic and incredibly violent methods portrayed here are quite literally an “overkill” in making the point. It doesn’t take long at all to see how sociopathic behavior in a ruling or decadent wealthy class applies itself.


We need slaps in the face like this to awaken us from perhaps a bit too much of the smog particles the big planes dust on us daily while our would be leaders keep their mouths tightly shut about such obvious issues. Likewise not a word about the people who have been paid to spy on us daily though it is strictly a violation of our Constitution. 


It would be nice if we could actually have a champion like one of the presidential candidates in the film is shown to be. Perhaps what we can conceptualize can  become a reality. We can only hope and pray and act…

In this year (2020) I heartily agree with myself on the last word, especially “Act.”

1106, 2020

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

June 11th, 2020|0 Comments

 

Quite a title, huh? Unfortunately particularly interesting right now in our world history.

Classic authors in our English language have come up with some really splendid titles. The original title was even longer as it was prefaced with the words “A Journal of..” Charles Mackay, Scotch journalist and songwriter compiled the work in 1841.

What I like best about Mackay’s collection is that I can cite it without being accused of stacking  the deck against the usual stacked decks of our times that I seek to make “transparent.” (It’s much too old and classic to be considered in that way.)

Mackay illustrates fads and economic get rich schemes from over the ages. He shows frauds like the “South Sea Bubble” and shows how again and again people have believed in and invested in ideas that were hoked up fakes  from the get go.

Now to bring ourselves forward, imagine you had invented the most effective machine in the world for beaming out messages to the populace.  You could begin and continue a program of mass broadcasting  at the flip of a switch. Lets for fun call it “The Wublee Machine.” Lets  suppose what might happen with the “Wublee machine.” If Mr. Wublee were a good spirited seeker after truth, anxious for the good of mankind, such a machine might disseminate powerful lessons from the fruit of our worlds’ story, both historical and spiritual.  But what if……..?

What if Mr. Wublee and his partners are  garden variety self serving sociopaths. What then?

He would probably think to himself, “Wow, this is great, my machine could be the greatest vehicle for mass hypnosis ever seen. I could tell things to people and they would believe them, simply because I tell them to believe them. I can sell anything this way, If I tell people they’re sick. They’ll believe they’re sick. I can then sell them my medicine! Not only will I become ridiculously wealthy but I can control the thinking of millions and aim it all toward my own aggrandizement.”

“Now lets see…” he continues “What might hinder my scheme..”   “I know, 9000 years of recorded history and Art could throw a slight crimp in things,  but hey, power and manipulation are on my side…”   “I’ll simply use my machine to beam out the idea that my twenty years of huckstering my products out does the whole of history and its spiritual growth.” “Ambitious plan you say? Hey nothing is beyond my program for personal success, wealth and power!”  “I have to laugh” (he continues)  “people will all walk around like gullible Lil Abners saying “We must realize that the Wublee Machine Age has changed all of history. There is nothing else now and we have no choice but to accept it”  ….”and where will they have gotten this concept? From the Wublee Machine, of course!!.”  (Mr. Wublee would then laugh and  walk off to make another huge deposit into the bank he owns. Another scheme might be, to make gifts of Wublee machines to all the schools and invent a system for the children to study.” The Common Wublee approach to acceptable Wublee truth,” (or words to that effect.)

My little story is all fictional, of course. Following a train of ideas sparked by Mr. Mackay’s 1841 book. Any resemblance to our times right now is “purely historical.”

406, 2020

The Long Haul to History Back

June 4th, 2020|0 Comments

( When I wrote this, seven years ago, I hardly realized we would be experiencing our own “Thunderdome” in so short a time. As I reread this I realize the film I was contemplating has important messages for us right now.)

When we think of dystopian literature we often think of books or films like 1984 or Brave New World. Neither of these classics deliver a positive feeling about the drift of world affairs. They feature lapses of humanity into Tech and media controlled totalitarianism and eugenics. They are good warnings and I think that is probably their main purpose. 

Another work, however, that I admire offers strong hope through old-fashioned human faith, ideals and heroism. After being shocked by the first two classics mentioned, this as a follow-up offers a great incentive to action in our direction of World rebuilding. A good reading and watching list, for this time of contemplation.

The character of “Mad Max” in Beyond Thunderdome, so well played by Mel Gibson, is a hero every bit as much as Hercules was. After his great fight in the arena of Thunderdome, Max is cast into the outer regions by “Aunty” (Tina Turner). Then comes a high point of the film when a rugged girl named Savannah Nix, played by Helen Buday, finds Max where he had been left in the desert to die. Savannah carries him back to an oasis where, for years, she has been playing mother to a group of children who had been in a plane wreck during the apocalyptic war (which the group calls the Pox Eclipse). She thinks Max is the “Captain Walker” who had flown them away from a bombed city and crashed near the Oasis. He had originally gone for help but never returned. The group had created a tribal oral tradition which they referred to as a “Tell.” I found it extremely moving to hear the statement told by Savannah which begins “I’m looking behind us now, across the count of time to history back…” in a beautifully simple way she tells of their survival at the oasis and their hopes of one day being returned to civilization though Max is adamant in denying he is their lost Captain, he non-the-less lives up to their expectations by getting them safely to the ruined city of Sydney, Australia. In the closing scene Savannah gives one more “tell” which I give in its entirety.: 

“Time counts and keeps countin’, and we knows now finding the trick of what’s been and lost ain’t no easy ride. But that’s our trek, we gotta’ travel it. And there ain’t nobody knows where it’s gonna’ lead. Still in all, every night we does the tell, so that we ‘member who we was and where we came from… but most of all we ‘members the man that finded us, him that came the salvage. And we lights the city, not just for him, but for all of them that are still out there. ‘Cause we knows there come a night, when they sees the distant light, and they’ll be comin’ home.” 

“Who we was, and where we came from;” an appropriate thought for all of us in these latter days. We all need to cling to whatever “tell” we have of our better selves and our better history. To never fall prey to Totalitarian planners who try to insinuate themselves in our time of stress. We will hold on to our faith and to our ideals of freedom and individuality. We will never be branded and guarded slaves nor allow others to be, ever again. Regardless of the odds we will make our way back to those often forgotten lights of our past. The lights that we know in our hearts are most truly home. 

 

2805, 2020

The Scholarly Highwaymen

May 28th, 2020|0 Comments

Just about everyone, at one time or another, has heard of Frank and Jesse James and the James gang.  As many people as have heard of the Jameses, an equal number have never heard of  William Harrison Ainsworth. So, what is the connection?

Jesse and Frank James, when children, led  farely normal lives.  Frank wanted to become a school teacher and  was a great reader. He read through  most of the books in his late fathers library probably sharing stories with his younger brother Jesse.  We know he liked Shakespeare, but I also suspect he liked the novels of Ainsworth. 

Ainsworth became famous about the same time Charles Dickens did. He, however, won fame by his depiction of Highwaymen as likable anti-heroes rather than cold blooded thieves and murderers.  His first such depiction was “Dick Turpin” in the novel “Rookwood.”   Rookwood was a runaway success, everyone fell in love with the likable scoundrel, Turpin, (who was based on a real-life bandit from the 1700s, by the way).  When “Jack Sheppard” appeared (another bandit novel),  as many as eight different play versions were soon going on at the same time. 

During and after the civil war Frank and Jesse did their best to promote an image of themselves as “Robin Hood” style bandits in the tradition of Ainsworth’s idealized rogues. When Jesse wrote letters to the newspapers about the gangs exploits and the political reasons behind their banditry,  he and Frank signed their names “Jack Shepherd, and Dick Turpin.”  

Frank and Jesse may not have always  lived up to the qualities of their prototypes, but as far as the public was concerned they were heroes. Jesse was universally  mourned when he was shot in the back, and Frank was  acquitted of all charges when he finally went to court. 

The disenfranchised South had found a voice in two men who had, quite likely, found that voice in two works of  historical fiction.

2105, 2020

May 21st, 2020|0 Comments

Work on What has been spoiled 

Carl Jung, the famous psychologist had a great interest in the history of the human race. Religious and philosophical customs played a big part in this.

One of the best known works of ancient oriental wisdom is the book called “The I-Ching.” Combined with meditation the I-Ching often offers remarkable insights into our daily lives. This fascinated Jung.

One of the commentaries in the book that I best remembered was “Work on What Has been Spoiled,” certainly a timely one for this moment in history!

The Wind blows low on the mountain, The Image of Decay Thus The superior man stirs up the people, and strengthens their spirit.” Yes, strengthens their spirit. This strikes at the heart of our need. In the judgment on this statement, these direct words: “What has been spoiled by man’s fault can be made good through man’s work.”

This is the jumping off point for us in this time of decay. We are working our way through a much unexpected period of reflection and in doing it we must take a closer look at all there is around us that marks evidence of our thoughtlessness and irresponsibility. 

How do we begin such an effort? Well that is simplicity itself. We look closely at those things that are part of our daily lives and thinking. Case in point: The daily news. 

Each morning as we start up our computers or phones we are met at once with the long unfolding lists of “news” items that form our day to day opinions of life around us. Both locally or in the world.

The list, as we focus on it, is less than happy. Most stories are ugly and anything but inspirational for our hope or courage, “defeatist” would be the word, and almost gleefully so. Also, as we clear our minds, we see that the stories leave very little room for our own imagination or thinking process. They demonstrate a tacit assumption that we don’t really want to be bothered with the choices involved in thinking and therefore will take that nasty responsibility away from us and supply the responses for us. 

Something like this, “The Mayor spoke in an ignorant way and here’s what you should think about that.” Then follows an account heavily weighted against the Mayor and ending with further invective making it clear that whatever the mayors attitude was we should want no part of it.

Lately in the midst of the present mayhem I have seen this program carried a step further. If the mayor or lets say any force of thought offers an alternative point of view through any of the media it is simply censored and removed and replaced by a rambling statement from the powers that be telling us how wrong and misleading the now missing information was and how grateful we should be that the media censored it. It would have been a waste of time for us listening to it. The kindly media has our good interests at heart and will continue to remove any troubling free thought that it finds other than it’s own. And now we are even being supplied by these people with scripts to use if we encounter any divergent opinions to squelch them , media style, On the spot! .This type of “news” hardly existed 50 years ago.

So the freedom of speech promised in the Constitution of our country will indeed continue to exist. Practiced only, of course by the media and those invisible forces that support and control it! ie: Billionaires and politically slanted speakers..

Get the picture?

This is something that is spoiled. And it is getting ranker by the minute. Time to consider the ancient wisdom and begin to clean house. Try to realize that when we read the term “Herd immunity” that is us being talked of . We are the “Herd”.

Herds are always branded to show ownership , put behind fences for safekeeping and eventually sent to the slaughterhouse.

As we are gradually being told in this very slow conditioning process we are soon to enjoy the exciting experience of having identification chips implanted in our hands “ To give us the dignity of being truly able to prove who we are.” ( It will of course make it much easier for the “herders” to keep an eye on us, monitor our health , temperature, whereabouts and other good things to help assure our continued “freedom”) Billionaire investors find this quite “exciting”

Soon also we are gleefully told the same investors plan to see to it we have electronics attached to our brains so that our very thoughts and impulses can be monitored and controlled “Like Cyborgs” they say with wonder in their eyes. We will be controlled and utilized for peak efficiency for all their business needs.

Exciting future for any of us who accept being enslaved . But then the “political correctness” encouraged by the investors has expunged most of the knowledge of how slavery worked from our schoolbooks so we can be programmed as nearly clean slates in this regard. What a useful business tool!.For the planners , political correctness has proved worth its weight in bitcoins.

In the 17 and 1800s ,as the industrial machine age progressed in the Scottish Highlands the Crofters waged many revolts against the wealthy gentry who encroached on their old freedoms a step at a time. My daughter showed me an antique book on the subject where this appeared “If Dr Maclean found a crofter’s sheep on his farm and the owner was not prepared to pay him half a crown to get it back , he would cut the sheeps ears. ….” Below this, handwritten by an irate Crofter was the comment “ This bloke requires HIS ears to be cut off! And by God, I would do it!”
This is what was always known as a healthy gut reaction to human oppression. While that was a strong reaction, I’m not saying I agree, but I understand.There is a lot to be said for an unvarnished look at the past and the perspective it gives us. This is a large subject. Hope to contribute more soon.
1405, 2020

May 14th, 2020|0 Comments

Apple Pandowdy and the Like

 

When I was a child I always loved to visit my grandmother on my Uncles farm.

She was always making some recipe that would make me feel like I was walking into an old Gary Cooper or Henry Fonda movie from the thirties or forties.

One day she was preparing a platter of chicken to fry when she said ( speaking to herself as well as me) “I know, I’ll make us a batch of Apple Pandowdy for dessert..”

Apple Pandowdy. What a name for a dessert! It conjured images of apples, cream, some sort of pan, as well as the mystery of dowdy as part of the name. I knew it was going to be a mystery. But my grandmother’s mysteries always had happy endings, (particularly at dessert time!).

After she got the chicken ready to fry she got out her ingredients for the Pandowdy.

Great ingredients! They included Apples (of course), cinnamon, molasses, sugar, milk, flour, etc. I knew that whatever was coming was going to be good. My grandmothers experiments always were..

And true enough, in a half hour the finished product was like a combination of baked apples, bread pudding and deep dish pie. Served with plain or whipped cream it was out of this world.

All this remembrance, in a talk at the diner this morning, sparked a talk about how great some of the old lost recipes were. A restaurant serving such delights would be sure to be a success. Everyone would want to try such a restaurant and sample the past in this “hands-on” way.

And the name for such a restaurant? Perhaps “You CAN go home again.”

705, 2020

The United States Post Office

May 7th, 2020|0 Comments

The United States Post Office is as old as the United States. It is one of the few government agencies authorized by the United States Constitution. It had its start at the time of the second continental Congress in 1775. Benjamin Franklin was made the first Postmaster General.

A  Very impressive and nearly forgotten beginning for this great organization. The first regular printed postage stamps for our country featured pictures of Franklin and Washington.

The advent of Computers has played a major part in the lessening use of the post office. One major reason for the post offices’ financial difficulties of late has been the e-mail. The E-mail, to me, represents the love we have been taught for media gadgetry as opposed to personalism. People saved love letters in bundles tied with ribbon and treasured them. People saved the letters of artists, writers, soldiers, political figures and treasured them also, not to mention friends and family. All of this was important to our history, both personal and national.

Today  e-mail, while it can technically be saved for a bit is susceptible to a wide range of loss potential that handwritten letters never were. We can erase them by mistake, the program they are on can change, the  central computer can fail. A box of letters on your shelf stays there unless your house burns. And a fire-safe box wouldn’t burn. Of course you might not have a bookcase to keep them on as books are more often a computer product as well right now. But the same flaws computer letters have computer books also have.

I was proud to see a new plan involving combining material books with E-books. One for the road, another for the personal library.

But to get back to the post office, my advice and plan? Get a book of “Forever” stamps and some stationery and begin writing more letters. Lots of letters. It will help preserve penmanship along with everything else. And if it catches on well, maybe the Postal Service will begin to prosper again.  It deserves to, it’s been here for us for a long time.

3004, 2020

Mort Drucker

April 30th, 2020|0 Comments


I want to thank Greg Lyons, the local artist and gifted caricaturist for suggesting an article on Mort Drucker. We lost the amazing artist on April 9 when he passed away at the age of 91. Mort was an important member of the Mad comic book turned magazine family of artists. This group also included Bill Elder, Wally Wood and Jack Davis. He also became well known for his marvelous portraits of noteworthy people, and much other work.

My own memories of enjoying the work of Mort and the other artists has been happily brought back to my mind by talks with Greg Lyons. Greg had some conversations with Mr. Drucker some while back, and I’m sure will treasure that memory. Greg’s enthusiasm reminds me how seriously I studied the drawings of those artists and how much robust art does to encourage younger artists to emerge. As a youth I recall doing my own series of spoof cartoons mimicking as close as I could the work of that wonderful group. I’ve spent many years of my life drawing and painting because of what they sparked.

Mort was born in Brooklyn March 22 1929 to parents Sarah and Edward Drucker. He attended Erasmus Hall High School where he met his future wife, Barbara. They married shortly after graduation. They had two daughters, Laurie and Melanie. The couple located in Long Island.

Mort began newspaper cartoon work in 1947 at the early age of 18. He helped with a comic strip called “Debby Dean” and then joined DC comics where he worked as a retoucher. He soon went freelance.

Mort joined Mad Magazine in 1956 shortly after Harvey Kurtzman, the founding editor, left. The new editor, Bill Gaines, told Drucker when he applied that if The Brooklyn Dodgers won the game going on that day he would hire him. The Dodgers won. Later Gaines admitted that he would have hired him anyway (but it made a great story Mort told many times over the years).

Drucker drew for Mad Magazine an amazing 55 years. During his long career he drew for many other magazines including covers for Time.

Michael J. Fox said on the Johnny Carson show in 1985 that he knew he had made it in show business when Mort Drucker drew his portrait.

The Time magazine covers Mort drew are in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery. He received many awards and was given an honorary Doctor of fine arts degree from the Art Institute of Boston.

I very much suspect that Mort Drucker left this world with the satisfaction of knowing he had made a very great contribution to his chosen field. I know it will continue to be appreciated as long as there are ways to print and reprint works of art. And I personally hope that is a very, very long time.

2304, 2020

Logan’s Run in 2020 Vision

April 23rd, 2020|0 Comments



Not too far back, a political figure introduced a concept which stated in its starkest form, implied putting our senior citizens out into dangerous positions, during this pandemic, as potential sacrifices to preserve our economy.

I must say I was proud to see the utter disdain with which this concept was met. Years of computer generated horror cartoons and general dumbing down have still not dulled the human spirit to the point where such eugenical concepts are allowed a hearing.

It brought to mind a classic film from the 1970s

The 1976 film, Logan’s Run, is set in the year 2274. The film depicts a dystopian world in which the remaining inhabitants of Earth reside in a protected, domed city where they live only for pleasure (we are not told what catastrophe caused them to be so quarantined).

They have been dumbed down by computer programmed “Education” to the point that they do not realize their lives are pointless and that all they have to look forward to is a uniform death at age 30 in order to mathematically balance things and avoid over population.

The rules of the civilization have been programmed into a computer (presumably by the now extinct ancestors of the present generation as some sort of “benign” way of continuing the species). Rebirth is handled by laboratory technicians in an artificial way. Real love and family are unknown (the AI left to guard the coming generations has apparently gone amuck and degenerated into the destructive device the film depicts).

The computers give ongoing orders to the populace and the death squads (known as sandmen). The sandmen are the only citizens who carry firearms and they use them to assassinate “Runners” (those who try to avoid the ecologically correct, prescribed death at age 30), and to police the other members of society who must attend “Carousel” on their 30th birthdays.

On carousel, which is shown as a festive occasion, the people are neutralized by massive lasers, killing every last one  (though they have been falsely told that they will likely “renew”  and continue living).

The cheering audience have no real understanding of what is happening before their very eyes. A young woman, Jessica 6, (Jenny Agutter) and a Sandman named Logan 5 (Michael York) begin to have an understanding of things and choose to become runners rather than be “terminated.”

Logan has already been instructed to play the part of a runner by the computer. His directive is to follow runners to a place called “Sanctuary”  and destroy it to discourage future runners.

Running is difficult to accomplish as all citizens have computer identification crystals implanted in their hand at birth by the computer instructed medical teams; these crystals serve as identification plus time clocks to measure the amount of lifetime allowed and tracking devices to be monitored by the sandmens GPS trackers.

Logan and Jessica pass through several outer areas of the city including a ruined area called  ‘Cathedral” (probably a reference to the displacement of religious concepts by AI concepts).

Cathedral appears to be occupied mostly by youthful street urchins. The couple eventually use an Ankh shaped key, taken off a dead runner, and pass through tunnels into the outer world. (where they are greeted by a view of the sun, which they have never seen).

Shortly after they begin their trek in the outside they sight a ruin in the distance, and take this to be the mythical “sanctuary”  (it is in fact, whats left of Washington DC).

Walking there over rough terrain, they finally arrive and find an elderly man (played by Peter Ustinov) living in one of the buildings. Ustinovs character is a sweet old man with many cats who quotes T.S.Eliot  off and on.  He shows them a cemetery and explains the meaning of family terms like “Beloved Husband” and “Beloved Wife.”

The two become fond of the old man and are entranced by hearing his memories of the nuclear family and other earlier value systems. They like the thought of returning to such systems.

A former sandman friend of Logans (Francis 7) follows them to the ruined city and tries to assassinate them but is killed by Logan using what is left of an ancient American flag and pole as a club. While dying the friend looks at Logans now clear hand clock and smiling says “Logan, you, renewed,” (the identification clocks dont work outside the quarantine walls of the dome).

In the final scenes the couple return to the domed city bringing the old man with them as proof that one can live a normal lifespan.

After reentering they have encounters with sandmen and the central computer but succeed in disorienting the computer and unlocking the city.

When the occupants of the city go outside and see the old man they are amazed and delighted at the realization of the larger world.

We are left to conjecture on the rebuilding of society following all this but the last moments of the film bode well.

I leave it up to you to consider parallels in this story with our present-day world experiences.

1604, 2020

Cookie Jar Permission

April 16th, 2020|0 Comments

We all remember that one of our kids who used the old “cookie jar permission” ploy.

This strategy uses the “divide and conquer” concept and goes something like this.

Son says to mom, ”Can I get a cookie from the cookie jar?” Mom answers, “Well, okay but just one or you’ll ruin your appetite.” Son runs off to the jar and using creative consciousness, remembers only the word, ‘OK.” A few minutes later the boy is leaving by the side entrance clutching eight cookies and a container of chocolate milk. Dad happens to spot him and calls, “Whoa, where do you think you’re going with all those cookies and that chocolate milk?” “Mom gave me permission,“ he answers, “She said it was Ok..”

Well finally it is all sorted out between the parents and the boy is given a healthy “Time out” or “grounding“ from his parents for his falsehood and greedy effort. The parents often remember such events fondly in later years knowing that the experience taught the child a good lesson about telling the truth and acting in a responsible way.

It is unfortunate that in these difficult times many political figures act much like the young boy in their habits. Only in this case it is our Constitutional freedoms that they gather up and run off with. Our privacy, our freedom of speech and much, much, more. When stopped and asked how they dare to do this they glibly answer, “I had permission, the voters all said I could ignore the Constitution.“

When the “parents” of these big kids, in the form of congressmen, representing the people, make it clear that such actions are way out of line, these guys, unlike the boy with the cookies, usually go on doing what they are doing answering with only a shrug of the shoulders. “Whatcha gonna to do about it?..” they smirk.

Well the people’s answer, in the years to come must be “Time for a healthy time out,”  (hopefully life long).

What’s good for the little kids, is definitely very good for the big ones.