“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.” — Pope Francis I
even when the doctors confirmed it was terminal
even when chemotherapy ravaged his body far worse than the disease
he didn’t stop being him
he was in pain, certainly, and there were a million and one tiny
that now had to be attended to just to keep his condition from becoming
unmanageable on a daily level
but that’s just what they were
the core of his being did not change
he still attended church
(as if church attendance in and of itself
amounts to anything; most regular church
goers would get the same benefit going to
the movies every sunday morning)
he voiced a faith that sounded in line with his fellow parishoners
but words are deceptive
the same words from one masks a simplistic garbled misunderstanding
while from another masks a profoundly nuanced wisdom of the spirit
so he talked the talk
but he walked the walk
there were times one wanted to say
now can you possibly say / do / support that
and still call yourself a believer?
but it’s not our call to make
not our place to judge
he lived a conventional good life
supported a family
had much to feel satisfied with
now that he reached the end
this is what makes him remarkable:
he is not in denial
he knows he is dying
he knows his daily routine reflects this
no bucket list
no grandiose gestures
was it his faith that gave him this strength?
then i realized strength had nothing to do with it
strength couldn’t possibly withstand the forces
unleashed against him
no, it was something different
he stands — for as long as he is able –
a man who is alive
a man who feels no need to prove anything
because he knows himself
and that is sufficient
this is not bravery
bravery is admirable
courage in the face of adversity
intestinal fortitude, as it were
nothing wrong with that
but bravery starts with a negative
there must be fear before valour
what he shows is a far different thing
he stands there not because he is strong
but because he is fully alive
knowing who he is (past & present)
and because of that
not intimidated by what is to come
he has loved
he knows love
he has been a part of the lives of others
and has allowed others to be a part of him
his chipper attitude is no facade
that’s who he is
who he has been
and by the grace of God
who he will continue to be
and each breath he draws
is as precious
and as valid
and as full of promise
as the first one he drew
coming from the womb
until he dies
and that just may be
the point of this story
that the way he lived
proved a blessing to himself
by giving him an attitude
that he couldn’t help but share
through the simple act
of being alive
and that attitude
made it easier for those who loved him
to minister to him
and care for him in his last days
thus making it easier to keep
the very attitude that blessed them in the first place
and in turn made their blessings possible
no grace is ever wasted
no charity is ever in vain
(c) Buzz Dixon
Since Soon-ok’s retirement, there have been a lot of changes in our lives, almost all for the good.
First off, she’s happier, more relaxed, and more energized than I’ve seen her in ages. She never wanted a job, much less a career, but took one to keep the family stabilized as my own career started careening wildly. Without her we would not have squeezed by; without her my own career would have floundered completely.
So we owe her a big one, and she is more than entitled to her retirement.
Second, as she rightly deserves, she’s getting to do a lot of things she wanted to do, such as travel and renovate the house. I’m glad for this, and more than happy to go with her and help her in the various projects.
But it plays havoc with my own productive schedule, and I find myself falling further and further behind.
To get caught up, I’m jettisoning a lot of things I used to do. One of those things was keeping up with numerous comic strips. I’ve been a fan of the art form since I was a little kid and first entranced with Dick Tracey and Little Orphan Annie and Buck Rogers and Pogo and Li’l Abner and Mr. Mum. Each December I post my list of the ten funniest strips of the year; I want to keep doing that, but in recent years I’ve had to forgo the yearly overview of all the strips I track.
I’ve already dropped several strips that I felt had exhausted themselves and become repetitive. Here are six I’m dropping simply because of time constraints; they’re still good and I still enjoy them but I have to
jump through too many hoops make too many clicks to read them.
That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but every productive minute is precious now, and I’ve got to ration them like a stranded traveler in the desert rations his water. If you read my previous post on the topic, you know what it feels like when I can’t write, so to squeeze out a few extra minutes, I’m giving up a lot of things I used to enjoy.
Feh, enough mawkish self-pity. If you like comic strips / web comics and haven’t tried the following, give ‘em a look. They’re all good. (Descriptions courtesy JSOline)
Baby Blues by Rick Kirkman & Jerry Scott is an entertaining and poignant view of parenthood and childhood. Wanda and Darryl MacPherson spend the majority of their time chasing, refereeing and pleading with their three children.
Edge City by Terry & Patty Laban is a groundbreaking comic strip about a hip, Jewish-American family juggling relationships, careers, and tradition at the fast pace of modern life.
Mutts by Patrick McDonnell explores the special bond between animals and their guardians, and the endearing friendship of Earl, the dog, and Mooch the cat.
Safe Havens by Bill Holbrook is a comic strip that focuses mainly on Samantha and her group of friends, who met as toddlers at Safe Havens Day Care and are now young adults enrolled at Havens University.
Sally Forth by Francesco Marciuliano, Jim Keefe is a timely comic strip about a working mother, who juggles her mid-management job and finding enough quality time for her husband and daughter. Somehow, Sally manages to keep her sanity and sense of humor.
Zippy the Pinhead by Bill Griffith creates a reality all on its own with a unique cast of characters, including Griffy, Zippy’s foil; Zerbina, Zippy’s wife and their children, Fuelrod and Meltdown.
Here’s the scenario:
You are camping out in the wild when you are awakened in the middle of the night by something very large sniffing around your tent flap, growling with hunger.
What to do?
If you’re out in the middle of the African veldt,
you’ve got a lion to deal with.
If you’re in Yellowstone, you’ve got a grizzly bear.
With a lion, you are going to have a confrontation,
because the lion is a carnivore and you are meat.
…with the grizzly you’ve got a chance of distracting him by tossing a can of Pringles out the tent flap. See, the bear is an omnivore, and what he wants is food, the exact kind he ain’t particular about.
So what has this got to do with the story of Sodom?
Lot knew exactly who he was dealing with; he lived in Sodom, he interacted with them on a daily basis, his daughters were engaged to be married to Sodomites, he had no qualms about going out and talking to the Sodomites face to face.
If the would-be rapists of Sodom were fueled purely by homosexual lust, there was nothing Lot could possibly gain by offering his daughters to them; the rapists simply wouldn’t be interested if their drive was sexual attraction.
But rape is not about sex, it is about power. The rapists of Sodom wanted to wield power over the men under Lot’s roof, to shame and humiliate them, to show them who was boss.
Lot knew these men, both culturally and doubtlessly personally. Clearly he understood them to be either heterosexual oriented or as we would use the term today, bisexual. Again, if satisfaction of sexual desire was the objective, offering women in the place of the men under Lot’s roof would have done the trick.
Think not? Well, apparently the practice of heterosexual male gang rape was not unheard of in that neck of the desert. In Judges 9 thru 11 we’re given the story of The Levite And His Concubine which pretty much parallels the story of Lot and Sodom: Stranger in town gets surrounded by rapacious male citizens, a female substitute is offered.
Unlike the story of Lot in Sodom, in the story of The Levite Etc. the rapists are fellow Israelites from the tribe of Benjamin in the town of Gibeah and they accept the offer of the concubine in question. After being brutalized all night, the woman makes her way back to the place where her husband the Levite was staying and collapses on the doorstep dead, nearly dead, or catatonic from shock.
So were the citizens of Sodom and Gibeah bisexuals driven by lust?
Again, the crime — or in this case the atrocity — of rape is only tangentially related to sexual desire. Rape is a crime of control and power: It is the stronger forcing the weaker to submit to the demands of the rapist. This is why statutory rape is treated as seriously as forcible rape: Certain relationships (adult and child, mentor and pupil, doctor and patient, etc.) by their very nature are not mutual arrangement between equals, and the stronger taking advantage of the weaker through guile or guilt is just as much a rapist as the thug with a knife.
So how common is male-on-male heterosexual rape?
It occurs in all settings and situations. Prisons are notorious for rape, but what is most shocking are the number of times it is the guards abusing the prisoners (especially if the guards are military and the prisoners civilians). Male heterosexual assaults occur in barracks, during frat house initiations, in high school locker rooms, at boy scout jamborees, at sleepovers. As noted, it has nothing to do with sex, it has everything to do with power and dominance achieved via fear and shame.
It is misplaced pride and arrogance, a belief one is entitled to have what one wants simply because one wants it and that everyone should kowtow and acknowledge this.
It’s an attitude that really takes root and festers when coupled with cultural privilege.
Ezekiel 16: 47-50 has the prophet laying out God’s case against Sodom:
“’You not only followed their ways and copied their detestable practices, but in all your ways you soon became more depraved than they. As surely as I live,’ declares the Sovereign Lord, ‘your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done. Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.’”
Not a lot of concern about proper sexual orientation in there, hmm? Much more about treating others with kindness and compassion, being generous and helpful, and not dominating and terrorizing others.
In fact, in light of scripture it would seem that if any group deserves to be singled out for special contempt because of their orientation, it would be privileged heterosexual males…
 Tho he may have had more than two daughters and the ones in his house were the unmarried ones.
 Had Lot himself been subjected to such shame and humiliation? Possibly. In Genesis 14 he and his family were captured by the army of Kedorlaomer and his allies after the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah rebelled, and had to be rescued by Abram. After the successful rescue and recovery of Sodom’s stolen loot, the king of Sodom told Abram to keep the goods but return the people who had been captured. Interesting that they viewed them as chattel to be bartered away, not as individuals with their own right to freedom; more interesting still is that the desire to dominate and rule over people was more important to the king of Sodom than the valuable property that had been stolen.
 Then things get really weird. We should hope she was dead before the Levite chopped her up and shipped her body parts off to the other tribes of Israel. Next there follows battles and bloodshed, and God lying to the Israelites, and a massacre (including women and children) of the Benjaminites then another massacre (including women and children) of the slackers who wouldn’t participate in the first massacre, followed by a whole buncha slavery and kidnappings and even more rape. Considering that the story kicks off with the unnamed concubine fleeing her husband / owner and returning to her father for sanctuary and what hubby did next to save his own derriere, I think we can all agree the anonymous Levite must’ve been a real s4!t. His host should have simply booted him into the town square with a tub of butter in his hand; that would have saved thousands of lives in the long run.
 This is markedly different where a couple by mutual consent agree to let one partner be the dominant one and the other the passive one in their relationship. For one thing, in such relationships it’s the bottom and not the top that’s in control; the fun stops forever the instant the bottom no longer wants to play.
 That’s not necessarily a joke. Christ taught that God would use the seemingly worthless as His cornerstone, and Christ’s own genealogy includes only five females: A fake hooker, a real hooker, the descendant of an incestuous relationship, an adulteress, and a teen mother who had a child that was not her husband’s. Maybe God incarnating Himself in male human form was His way of showing that He could work miracles with the most unpromising material of all.
“At the height of its power, the photography company Kodak employed more than 14,000 people and was worth $28 billion. They even invented the first digital camera. But today Kodak is bankrupt, and the new face of digital photography has become Instagram. When Instagram was sold to Facebook for a billion dollars in 2012, it employed only 13 people. Where did all those jobs disappear? And what happened to the wealth that all those middle-class jobs created?” – Jaron Lanier: The Internet destroyed the middle class
…and now there are none.
They were truly legendary, the first fan boys to become more than fans, ur-geeks who went on to help shape modern culture to varying degrees throughout their long, productive lives.
I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Ray Harryhausen several times over the years, though never as long as I would have liked. He was a charming and soft-spoken man, very gentlemanly and polite. The kind of person you’d cast as a kindly old grandfather on a Disney Channel movie, not the kinda guy who gave us this…
My very first exposure to Ray Harryhausen occurred roughly around the same time I first encountered the work of Ray Bradbury. Rain pre-empted a scheduled kindergarten trip, so to keep us quiet they screened a 16mm print of Harryhausen’s King Midas.
Yikes! Not exactly kid fare, is it? Not when you compare it with the Popeye and Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoons that ran endlessly on local kiddee cartoon shows.
Yeah, cartoons had their scary moments, but they were cartoon-scary, more funny than frightening, certainly not real in the sense our families were real, and certainly comforting insofar as we’d seen dozens of Popeye and Bugs and Daffy cartoons so we knew nothing really bad was going to happen to them.
But Harryhausen’s animated version of the classic Greek myth (updated to fairy tale medieval Europe) was unsettling. First off, we didn’t know these characters, so we had no idea if they were going to come through intact or not. Secondly, they occupied some weird realm more real than cartoons but not yet fully in our own world.
That probably is the best explanation for Harryhausen’s unique hold on the imagination of millions of young boys and girls, even after he left his series of self-produced fairy tales to go on to provide special effects for major studio productions.
He brought the unreal to life in a way that was difficult to emulate with costumes and props. He could create monsters that truly looked monstrous, not like a guy in a rubber suit, and bring them to life in a manner that easily achieved suspension of disbelief.
There was, for lack of a better word, charm to his creations, and he beguiled generations of audiences and fans.
As posted above, his trek began early in the days of science fiction fandom, when a handful of excitable young boys poured over the meager offerings on the newsstands and cinemas. Ray H. was friends with Ray Bradbury and Forrest J Ackerman, and the trio grew up together in pre-WWII Los Angeles, fueling each others’ interests and desires in the realm of imaginative stories.
Just as Metropolis and Amazing Stories grabbed hold of young Forry Ackerman’s mind, so did King Kong with Ray Harryhausen. There’s not enough time or space here to do full justice to the story (besides, that’s what the Internet is for); suffice it to say Ray & Ray & 4SJ ended up fulfilling at least some of the lofty dreams of their youth, and in doing so inspired and challenged many, many others (yrs trly included) to follow their dreams as well.
One closing story to demonstrate the friendship among the trio: Following his work assisting Willis O’Brien on Mighty Joe Young, Harryhausen was offered the gig of providing the special effects for a new monster movie. Ray H. read the script and quickly realized the core scene in the film — a scene where the monster, attracted by a foghorn, attacks a lighthouse in the mistaken belief it’s one of its kind — was lifted from Ray B.’s famous short story, “The Foghorn”.
Most people in Hollywood would have said nothing, a few would have notified their friend and let them handle it on their own.
Ray H. did something far, far smarter: He suggested to the producers that they contact Ray Bradbury as a consultant on the sci-fi angle of the film.
They did, and so they walked into a perfect trap where if they denied they had lifted the story they would had demonstrated prior knowledge of Ray Bradbury and so would have lost any possible lawsuit…
So they bought the story from Ray B. and credited him in the movie…
R.I.P., Mr. Harryhausen, and thanx for all the wonderful memories and inspiration…
”What’s my motivation in this scene?”
Traveling in Canada & New England, I can find time to update this blog no problem.
Get home, and Events Conspire Against Me…
We’ll try not to have as many unnecessary lapses in the future.
(albeit thanks to
human nature not
very easy to apply)
Treat people the way you want to be treated.
If somebody is doing something and no one is harmed, mind your own business.
If somebody is doing something that harms a third party without the third party’s consent, do something about it.
If somebody is doing something that harms only themselves, be very careful how you proceed.
(For the record, the terms I use above I define this way:
Somebody is one or more individuals, harm is something
that uncorrected will have a permanent negative effect on a person’s life.)