Memory Lane: ‘Zorro’ (1957)

Was this a hit when I was eight years old, or what? Walt Disney’s Zorro–and you can bet there was a whole lot of swordfightin’ goin’ on in our neighborhood!

Now hardly anybody had color TV back then, but we knew from Zorro bubblegum cards that the show was filmed in color. And of course Zorro had a lot of adventures at night, wearing a black mask and cape and riding a black horse–so how much color did you need?

This show generated pulse-pounding excitement among us kids. I don’t think TV shows can generate that kind of excitement anymore. Maybe because there are so many of them. Maybe because Walt Disney’s dead and the company he founded has gone over to the dark side.

Anyhow, Zorro was way cool–and so was his alter ego, Don Diego–and we all wanted to grow up to be like him. And how was that bad?

‘Our Impoverished Children’ (2012)

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Public school teachers may never get around to teaching any history, math, or reading; but they do find time to “teach” children that “Communism has some really good ideas!” Once upon a time they’d chase you out of town for that.

Our Impoverished Children

Originally public education promised universal literacy and all the riches of several millenia’s worth of history, tradition, and lore–for everyone. Well, how did that turn out? Can you find a 10-year-old in public school who knows who David and Goliath were? Sheesh, my mother taught me all those things!

Yeahbut, yeahbut!

Yeahbut what? The storeroom’s empty, sunshine.

‘An Unintelligible Message’ (2016)

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I still don’t know what a minified exception is, or why it was necessary to warn me that one had occurred.

What is the blooming point of any message that sounds like Constable Chumley wrote it?

An Unintelligible Message

We have more communications devices and less communication than ever before in human history. Have you tried to talk to anyone who’s always up to his eyebrows in text messages? “Use the non-minified dev environment…” Gee, thanks for that advice!

What is our civilization’s chief problem? No, it’s not “systemic racism”!

It’s systemic idiocy–and good luck trying to solve it!

The Art of Reading

The Original Art of Narnia (article and pictures) Pauline Baynes  (illustrator) | Las cronicas de narnia, Ilustraciones de cuentos, Narnia

“I only read non-fiction.”

“I only read comics.”

“I don’t read at all.”

The story-teller’s art is as old as humanity itself; and since the invention of the printing press, the story-teller’s audience has grown by leaps and bounds. Until now.

If you love a movie or a TV show, be it known that somebody had to write it before anyone could film it. And someone had to read it. But fewer and people are reading. Fewer and fewer are getting the stories.

Reading is one of those things you get better at, the more you do it. I can tell you that as a person trained to teach developmental reading. Even without someone to coach you, if you keep at it, reading will come easier and easier to you. And for a good reader, with the right kind of book, it’s like having a movie playing in your mind.

How much the poorer I would be, without reading! Never to have stepped through the wardrobe into Narnia, never to have watched Lord Peter Wimsey solve a mystery, never to have roamed the dead sea bottoms of Barsoom, nor visited The Shire, nor explored the ocean’s depths with Captain Nemo–oh, but I could go on all day!

Just to show you I’m not trying to trick you with a stealth commercial, let me say it out in the open: yeah, you ought to read my Bell Mountain books.

Now, what good does it do to fill our heads with stories that are not true? Always bearing in mind that the parables of Our Lord Jesus Christ were not about real people, real events, and so, strictly speaking, “untrue.”

For one thing, these fictional stories do contain abundant truth. They can serve as parables. They can teach moral truths.

For another, stories, like sleep, can knit the raveled sleeve of care (borrowing a line from Shakespeare). When your life begins to look like the lyrics of the Car 54, Where Are You? theme song, you can escape into your favorite books–or into new stories altogether, to see what you might discover.

The more you read, the more you’ll retain; and the more of your reading you retain, the better you’ll be at expressing your own thoughts. I realize that applies to all reading, not just reading fiction. But it certainly doesn’t not apply to reading fiction.

Reading is good for you! Period. Civilization would never have gotten anywhere without it.


‘American Atheism, Vintage 1960’ (2014)

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I was 11 years old in 1960 and wasn’t allowed to stay up on Friday nights to watch The Twilight Zone. So every Saturday, Bobby across the street would tell me what I’d missed. And I have a very vivid memory of him telling me about this episode, Long Live Walter Jameson.

American Atheism, Vintage 1960

I thought it was a cool story at the time; but now, very many years later, now that I’ve finally seen it–good grief: we let this into our homes?

The story, written by Charles Beaumont, is nothing less than full-blown atheism. And yet it went down without so much as a raised eyebrow. Was America’s Christianity already on such shaky ground?

Given everything that happened later on in the Sixties, I think we have to say, Yeah, it was.

We have to be better stewards of our heritage.


‘Team Sports… for Your 5-Year-Old?’ (2014)

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Six years after I first heard it, this story strikes me as even more appalling than it did.

Team Sports… for Your 5-Year-Old?

I’ve played team sports, and can testify that sports brings out the worst in people. You never saw such politicking, back-biting, rumor-mongering, and throat slitting as you’ll find on any softball team. Something about sports tells a certain kind of pinhead that he can really let fly. Heck, play pickup basketball with the same guys long enough, and the same thing will happen.

Five years old is way too young for this.

‘More of Your Tuition Dollars at Work’

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Phoebe makes a great point about capers that seem really cool now might come back, years later, and bite you in the tuchas. Job prospects, reputation–kiss ’em goodbye. And all thanks to college!

More of Your Tuition Dollars at Work

So, yeah, we’re “in loco parentis”–the key word being “loco”–so let’s have the kids pose nude for our dirty little magazine–because this is higher education!

We could get rid of 90% of our “higher education” apparatus and be a better, saner country for it.

Try Another Classic: ‘It Happened One Night’

It Happened One Night (1934) - Rotten Tomatoes

In which Gable eats a carrot… just like Bugs Bunny

Any movie starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, and directed by Frank Capra, has just got to be good! And It Happened One Night is no exception to that rule.

Man, they made some great movies in the 1930s! And this is one of that period’s great comedies. Not split-your-gut, roll-on-the-floor funny, but quietly and relaxingly funny–ideal for a weekend afternoon. It’s also totally sleaze-free: although if you were ever wondering what happens when “a cold mama gets hot,” there’s a creepy little man named Shapely who can tell you all about it.

The story centers on a madcap heiress (Colbert) trying to run off and marry a lounge lizard, against her zillionaire father’s wishes. The madcap heiress is now an extinct species, although cryptozoologists think there may be one somewhere in the Adirondacks. She takes up with a recently-fired reporter (Gable) who helps her because he thinks he’ll wind up with the scoop of the century. Of course they fall in love, but don’t worry–it never degenerates into a kissing movie.

Sometimes Capra skates on thin ice over dark tarns of cutesieness, but he never falls in. America in 1934 was still in the throes of the Great Depression, and a very different place from what we’re used to. This is also a great slice of life movie: you’ll see those differences. When a bus rider literally faints from hunger, that’s not something we’ve seen in our time. The Depression did that to people. But when a whole busfull of riders, who don’t know each other from Adam and Eve, while away their long, long journey with a sing-along–y’know, that was good! Wish we could recover things like that. “The Man on the Flying Trapeze” will keep popping into your head many hours after you’ve seen this movie.

I wouldn’t be surprised if many of you have already seen it at one time or another, but don’t worry–Capra, Gable, and Colbert never get stale.

Oh! And this may be your only chance to see an autogyro–obsolete predecessor to the helicopter–in action.

Autogyro - Wikiwand

Well, waddaya know! They’re still making autogyros! Nice, sleek, modern ones–I had no idea. I wonder why they’re not more popular than they seem to be. They look like they’d have the advantages of a helicopter but would be much safer. The one in the photo is an old one, about identical to the one used in the movie.

‘Feminists: Pumpskin Spice Latte is Racist’ (2017)

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It magically turns you into a racist!

Remember this? Starbuck’s pumpkin spice latte was “racist”. Because feminists said so.

Feminists: Pumpkin Spice Latte is Racist

Funny, though, isn’t it? Starbuck’s embraces every stupid Far Left “cause” that comes down the pike–and they still get nailed. You just can’t satisfy any of those people.

I think it’s because they really enjoy being offended and angry, and even the slightest excuse will do. And of course you can’t appease people who don’t want to be appeased.

You Answer the Phone and There’s No One There…

What to do if you receive one of the 996 million nuisance cold calls and  texts |

We got five of these calls yesterday–answer the phone and there’s no one there. It’s really annoying!

Reading up on it, we find two chief causes of nobody-there phone calls: 1) telemarketing robots mindlessly dialing numbers even when the telemarketer isn’t there to pester the victim; and 2) collecting in-use phone numbers for sale to criminals who want to steal your identity or hack into your bank account.

The advice we get from all sources is, “Just hang up.”

I don’t know why telemarketing is allowed at all. Actually, one of my first jobs after college graduation was as a telemarketer for Time-Life Books. At least I was a real person whom the victim could curse at and call names. I mean, when you’ve just sat down to your dinner, and you’ve got a loved one in the hospital, you’re gonna get up and answer the phone, aren’t you? And when it’s nobody–!

These calls are up there with aiming floodlights at your neighbor’s bedroom window all night, or cutting loose with your leaf-blower at 7 a.m. on a Sunday morning.

Crimes against the quality of life…