…I’d still be reading superhero comics.
Black Widow Skottie Young Variant
The personal blog of writer Buzz Dixon. "His manner is frivolous because he is an Italian; but he means what he says."
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…I’d still be reading superhero comics.
Black Widow Skottie Young Variant
…I thought, “Why in the world would anyone want to do something like that?!?!?”
One of the funniest jokes ever in the original Saturday Night Live was a throwaway background gag. The main skit was set in a home or apartment with a radio playing. While the main action of the skit was going on, from the radio the following was heard:
Announcer (Don Pardo):
And now Sandy Duncan for VHF View Master!
Sandy Duncan (Gilda Radner):
Wait…what…I don’t get it…what am I supposed to be seeing here?
Not all animals enjoy depth perception. Depth perception is the ability to judge distances visually. Many animals, particularly herbivores with eyes on the side of their heads, have two or three overlapping fields of view: They can see on either side of their bodies (sometimes almost all the way behind them even when facing forward) and occasionally can overlap both their fields of view directly but very narrowly ahead. While the smarter animals can judge distance based on what are referred to as monocular clues (relative size, amount of detail, shift in color due to dust or fog, etc.) they lack genuine depth perception.
Real depth perception — the kind exploited by View Master — is found in predators and arboreal animals such as primates. Predators and tree-dwellers tend to have only one field of vision — straight ahead — but blend input from both eyes together to form one single image. The key difference between them and herbivores is that while predators and arboreal animals enjoy all the depth perception clues monocular animals enjoy, they are able to process them in a radically different matter.
Simply put, they see “depth”.
And for a predator or a tree-dweller, the ability to immediately perceive and understand “depth” is crucial to their survival.
Without it, they’ll miss a meal…
…or a branch.
Now, it’s easy to imagine a sci-fi story where monocular or overlapping field of view aliens simply can’t grasp this binocular sense among humans.
Oh, they get the idea of triangulation and visual clues to indicate distance, but the idea of “depth” is beyond them. Yes, they get it that when a human refers to “depth” they are referring to a distance that can be measured out in concrete terms. Yes, they understand that it’s possible to process visual information well enough to make a good, accurate assessment of an object’s distance.
But…”depth”…? That ineffable, indescribable, impossible to quantify/capture/put in a bottle sensation — no, knowledge! – that one object is occupying an entirely differently plane of space than another object…?
Nonsense! Doesn’t exist! Can’t exist! You’re just making it up, creating a myth to explain away simple scientific facts.
Yeah…right…only people with binocular vision can see and recognize and appreciate depth and those without it can see and recognize and appreciate distance…
…but they’ll never ever grasp the spatial relationship
at the intrinsic level of those with binocular vision.
Talking with atheists about things of the spirit is like handing Sandy Duncan a View Master.
The atheists are not wrong. They are seeing/experiencing the same things we believers see & feel. Their analysis, at least on the surface level, are usually spot on and accurate.
They just can’t grasp those things in the same manner we do.
Now, this analogy isn’t flawless and perfect, but it serves my point well enough.
Some people have never had the chance to develop this spiritual binocular vision. Like a child with amblyopia, they have a spiritual “lazy eye” that has never been properly utilized.
Others have lost this binocular vision, usually from exposure to hypocrisy and deceit from purported believers (such as their parents, their church, their society…). In some cases these injuries can be healed, in others they can’t. In some cases — typically the ones with hope of healing – the person remembers what it was like before their injury robbed them of this special sight.
In other cases, they have forgotten, or worse still have created barriers to healing because they fear being hurt again.
Finally, there are those who apparently cannot, never have, and never ever will grasp what believers intuitively sense. Some of these may want to believe they possess such a spiritual vision, and will use all the monocular clues available to pass as a two-eyed person, others are not content to recognize they lack such vision but seem duty-bound to inform everyone who claims such vision that they must be wrong and delusional.
 I’m guessing Michael O’Donoghue wrote it but it sounds mean spirited enough to have come from Chevy Chase as well.
 For those of you in the vast majority who don’t know who Sandy Duncan was/is, she is a model/actress/singer/comedienne who briefly flirted with major stardom in the early 1970s, only to be set back by a bout of ocular cancer. Duncan’s great appeal was the combination of her off-beat looks (she resembles a baby ostrich; a cute baby ostrich, mind you…) and her sparkling personality. At a time when far too many female performers were presented as perfect exemplars of glamour, Duncan resonated with audiences as a real, fun-to-know, and appealing character. She reassured girls that they didn’t have to look perfect to be lovable and desirable, and she demonstrated to boys that it pays to look below the surface. In 1971 CBS took a chance with her as a rising young star and cast her in Funny Face, a delightful sit-com about a struggling actress/model. The show was cleverly written, brilliantly cast, and proved popular with audiences. Instead of holding the show on hiatus while Duncan recovered from her surgery, CBS cancelled Funny Face and retooled a brand new sit-com around Duncan when she returned (with a new writing staff and new supporting cast). Lightning, alas, could not be captured twice in a bottle, and the new show floundered quickly & badly. Duncan had the potential of reaching Mary Tyler Moore or Carol Burnett’s career level, but lost her one big chance to do so. She continues performing to this day.
 In fact, I will… (And I did!)
 When I write about scripture, I try to use the term “plain text” instead of “literal” when describing the actual content of the chapter or verses in question. I do this so the actual message of the text — the information, as it were — can be isolated and examined without debating signal-to-noise ratios, which is what both atheists and literalists tend to focus on at the expense of the real content. It’s like trying to appreciate Beethoven’s Ode To Joy on a distant radio station instead of arguing with audiophiles about the quality of amplitude and frequency in the radio waves.
 An obverse of the old saw “in the country of the blind the one-eyed man is king”.
…here’s a clip of Ultraman beating the snot out of a giant monster.
There. I’ve just saved you $28.98 ($19.99 at Amazon)
There’s a special kind of sad associated with carnival games.
For most people, that is.
Anything else at the carnival, you shell out shekels to get something tangible in return:
A ride, a peek at the
naked bearded lady, a corn dog.
…and while it’s not impossible for one to feel the experience wasn’t worth the full price of the ticket, one cannot deny one didn’t receive something in exchange for something else of value.
Not so with the games.
Oh, sure, there are plenty of Marks who realize it’s the equivalent of skipping their coins across a creek while shouting: “Wheeeeeeeeee!” but far far far too many think they’re actually gonna somehow magically come out ahead on the deal.
Sad sad sad pathetic.
Now, it may come as a surprise to you to learn that carny Shills are capable of morals and ethics.
Their own peculiar brand of morals and ethics, to be sure, but morals and ethics nonetheless.
The Church is the body of all believers, it is not an organization.
The church is a local group, which may have some formal sense of order.
The social club is the semi-business entity that needs to make the house nut every month so that salaries are met, facilities are paid for, etc.
There’s been a lot of blogificatin’ recently about the Millennials leaving The Church.
They’re not. Most of them are staying in The Church.
Many of them are leaving a church, though some will eventually wind up in another church.
The people who are panicking are the people who run the social clubs.
They point to the satisfied 1/3rd or so who Like Things The Way They Are Just Fine and tell themselves what they need to do to keep the Millennials from leaving
The Church the church the social club is just to keep on doing more of what they’ve always been doing, only a lot louder and stronger and more rigidly.
The Millennials are gone.
They are not coming back
to the social club.
What some churches — i.e., local groups of believers — can do is find where the Millennials are gathering for their spiritual quests and instead of trying to shoehorn them back into a building or a rigid power hierarchy, help them.
The thought of shuttering structures associated with local churches is anathema to some, but The Church has never been located behind doors.
Forget about money.
Forget about programs.
Forget about doctrine.
Forget about dogma.
Forget about everything except the lostlonelyscaredsearchinghungryfrightenedforlorn souls that need The Church and take The Church to them wherever they are.
Ask for nothing.
Let them know we are Christians by our love.
“There is one thing of which I am certain. This man felt he was a victim. Nothing allows people to do evil quite as much as a victim mentality. That needs to be remembered.” – Dennis Prager on September 16, 2013 referring to Aaron Alexis, the gunman in the Washington Navy Yard shootings
I’ve posted memos to various people in the past who opened their yaps to spew forth petty, imbecilic nonsense. I let the Penn Jillette gif do my talking for me; the people in those memos are buffoons trolling for fools to watch their programs and/or support their lifestyles: They are no more worthy of serious consideration than any other camera-whore celebrity currently favored by the same crowd.
Dennis Prager is a different case.
Prager purports to be interested in matters of morality and ethics, and presents himself in a hushed, reasoned, measured tone. Not given to hyperbole, he rarely drops sensational sound bytes.
Which makes what he does say all
the more loathsome and despicable.
I know little-bordering-virtually-nothing on Dennis Prager the man, what he is like in person, how he treats his family and friends and co-workers in private.
But I do know that what he says and publishes
under his name are among the most damaging
utterances delivered against the commonweal.
His quote is as concise an example as one could hope for of what makes his public utterances so arrogant, distasteful, and harmful.
“There is one thing of which I am certain. This man felt he was a victim. Nothing allows people to do evil quite as much as a victim mentality. That needs to be remembered.”
In another context, this would be hilarious: A person who brags openly of his Jewish heritage criticizing others for having a “victim mentality”. Even before the horrors of the holocaust, Jewish people learned to live with rampant anti-semitism (the “polite” modern word to replace the older, more accurate “Jew hatred”). Often employing self-mocking forms of humor, the Jewish people learned the hard way that trust had to be earned, that they would always be a convenient scapegoat, and that if the whole world didn’t have it in for them, certainly a large segment of it did.
“Never again” is not the motto of crybabies, Mr. Prager, nor is it the motto of evil-doers (albeit there doubtlessly are evil-doers who cloak themselves in this righteousness). It is evidence of a victim mentality insofar as the people who say “never again” recognize the reality of their history and the steps they must take to prevent further victimization.
Now, if Mr. Prager had said something along these lines — “This man felt he had been hurt and was entitled to hurt others in return” — then he would have been standing on far more solid moral/ethical grounds.
St. Paul almost got it right, but it’s not the love of money that is the root of all evil but rather the love of self (loving money is merely a means of showering more love on one’s self in the form of various trinkets and pleasures). People who think of themselves first and foremost have a much easier time inflicting harm on those whom they think have slighted them. Unable to project themselves into the POV of another, unable to even partially see how another person may be perceiving a situation, unable to share sympathy and empathy for a person suffering something they themselves would not want to suffer, the lovers of self are at best utterly indifferent to others and a worse view them as playthings to be abused at their whim.
There’s a reason Dennis Prager couldn’t say that:
He has sold out his birthright in humanity for a mess of porridge, in this case the limited degree of fame and fortune he gets shilling for the rich and powerful and privileged.
“Victim mentality” is privilege-speak. It is the expression of a person who enjoys an unearned relatively easier ride than the rest of humanity justifying his acceptance of that privilege by denigrating those who have been short-changed.
It’s the same kind of blame-the-victim mentality found in slut-shaming, when a rape victim is accused of bringing the attack upon themselves when they have the temerity to speak up.
Accusing a person or group of “victim mentality” is an attempt to negate and nullify the experience of the person/s in question, to dismiss their justifiable concerns out of hand, to maintain the status quo in favor of the privileged.
It is invariably ironic, with the person who accuses others of “victim mentality” displaying the very sort of thing they are criticizing in others! Poor, poor pitiful me! My unearned privilege is under assault from people who recognize they have been victimized!
Had Mr. Prager attacked the gunman for being selfish and self-centered he would have also had to criticize the very mindset behind his patrons:
A belief that because of their positions of privilege, power, and wealth they are better and more important than the rest of humanity and as such the rest of humanity should suffer if it means the privileged get to enjoy more.
It is a very Ayn Randian POV. Let us not forget that Ayn Rand gushed like a little school girl over a psychopath of extraordinary cruelty and depravity just because he thought of himself as more special and thus more important than those he victimized.
Rand’s two most famous fiction creations
were also psychopaths who blew up
buildings and civilizations just because
their feelings were hurt.
As of this posting we know very little about the guman or his motives. So far there is nothing to indicate a rational motive.* There is evidence to indicate the man had a history of violent behavior, but whether these killings represent a genuine psychotic break from reality, or whether they are an act of evil masquerading in the gunman’s mind as justifiable is unknown (and perhaps unknowable) at this point.
One thing for certain is this:
Whatever the motivation, it is not an example of “victim mentality” being used to justify evil.
That phantasm exists only in the minds of the privileged who fear losing their unearned perks.
*Political assassination and terrorism, while ethically and morally wrong, have at least some sort of rational risk/cost/benefit reasoning behind them: Killing this person will eliminate an enemy, terrorizing those people will get them to submit to our will. That assassins and terrorists are often wrong in their assessments goes without saying: Look at Japan’s belief that America would negotiate to avoid a long and bloody war in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor; the reasoning behind the attack was sound, the presumptions about it were not.
Once upon a time there was a _____ .
Every day, _____ .
Then one day _____ .
Because of this, _____ .
Because of that [or] However, _____ . (repeat as necessary)
Finally, _____ .
This is important because _____ .
This template derives from a talk by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park and the Pixar story point list (via Brian MacDonald’s Invisible Ink as related by Emma Coats) with a few tweaks by yrs trly. While the ideas expressed by Parker, Stone, and MacDonald are not new, they’ve certainly been distilled to their purest essence. This is an extremely useful tool for finding & strengthening the spine of your main story as well as all the characters’ personal sub-plots.
“Once upon a time…” identifies the protagonist/s. This can be an individual, a group, a team, a family, or a community.
“Every day” = the status quo, mundane or outrageous; good, bad, or indifferent. This is the backdrop against which change (i.e., story) will occur.
“Then one day” = permanent change or the potential for permanent change. Whichever it is, it will force the protagonist/s to respond. There is no point in having an inconsequential or self-correcting change (i.e., the status quo returns on its own, including the protagonist/s acceptance of it). Any change that causes the protagonist/s to react is an important change to them even if inconsequential to others. And it can be self-change; the protagonist/s can decide they’ve had their fill of the current situation and will do something about it.
“Because of this” = the step/s the protagonist/s take to either restore the old status quo or establish a new one of their liking. This is what your story is about, even if the protagonist/s later change goals/objectives/tactics as a result of challenges they encounter.
“Because of that” = a direct reaction to the preceding plot point. Whatever “this” is in response to “then one day“, “that” will be a further response. It can be either an obstacle or a help (or even a combination thereof) but it changes the nature/direction of the protagonist/s’ response.
“However” = an alternative to “because of this“, a random and/or external event that adds a new complication/element to the story. Sometimes a “however” is a response to a much earlier plot point that the protagonist/s have moved past but are now forced to deal with again. “Howevers” are permissible to make the protagonist/s’ objective more difficult to obtain, they’re cheating if used to arbitrarily help the protagonist/s without consequences.
(repeat as needed) = follow the story through logically, with appropriate responses to prior choices or plausible random external input.
“Finally” = the protagonist/s reach a logical conclusion and new status quo they are either willing or forced to accept (viz. a tragic end)
“This is important” = why this story is worth telling. Unless telling a shaggy dog story, the ending must make a crucial difference to the protagonist/s. If they re-establish the old status quo, the reader must understand why this makes a difference to the way they lived before. (In truth, just as one can never enter the same stream twice, one can never return to the way things were before the protagonist/s were aware change was possible; at the very least a return to the original status quo now includes the wisdom to fully appreciate that status quo.)
As noted, this is useful not only for the main plot involving the protagonist/s but also all sub-plots involving the antagonists and supporting characters. Everybody has a story, and while one doesn’t have to fill in the details of every character’s story to the same degree as the main plot, it never hurts to know what their story is vis a vis the protagonist/s’. Often a group of protagonists will have overlapping motives for participating in a story, some of which may be at odds with one another. They will each certainly have their own unique manner of dealing with the challenges facing them. Too often supporting characters are empty suits designed to trot onstage, do their business, then trot off. By figuring out what their stories are, one opens up the main plot for far greater nuance and detail.
Caveat! This template will not guarantee a good story. What it will do is make it easier to diagnose your plot, to find/clarify/strengthen the spine of your story. You still have to provide interesting characters, interesting situations, and write in an interesting manner.
And that takes practice…
A few days ago this post by Mrs. Kimberly Hall, Director of Women’s ministry at All Saints PCA in Austin, TX, went flitting about the InterWebs.
It stirred up quite a response.
Many people applauded Mrs. Hall.
Many more voiced responses that ranged in the negative all the way from polite murmurs of disagreement to verbal b-slaps that landed so hard they could be felt halfway across the continent.
This is the kind of post that gives Christians and Christianity a bad rep. To many it reflects the worst kind of judgmentalism & hoity-toity holier-than-thou attitude.
It makes non-Christians want to find a Christian so they can kick his teeth down his throat.
It makes other Christians roll their eyes, and serves like a great big target painted on Mrs. Hall’s posterior for rebuttals.
All Capp’s Kigmy never achieved the same level
of multi-media marketing frenzy as his Shmoo did,
but it was still a popular recurring character
in the Li’l Abner comic strip.
Truth be told, my initial instinct was to load up for mama grizzly bear and let her have it.
…but then I got to thinking about her sons.
They’ve doubtlessly already had to endure a ton of red-assing from friends, classmates, and total strangers on this.
I can imagine what it must be like to be her sons. I have no doubt she loves them and cares for them and wants nothing but the best for them and is trying to guide them to grow up to be just, trustworthy, dependable, compassionate men.
…but you only have to glance at her article to know there’s also gotta be a whole lotta, “Mommmmmmmm!” moments in that family.
So to spare her sons more of that, I’m going to tackle her post as dispassionately and as courteously as possible.
First, props to her and her hubby for maintaining an open line of communication with her sons, and for knowing what they are up to when they’re online.
Far too many parents simply wash their hands of direct involvement with their kids once they hit their teen years.
It is possible to go too far in the other direction, and be a hovering / controlling parent who doesn’t trust their kids one iota, but I don’t think Mrs. Hall falls in that category (tho she may cast the occasional longing glance in that direction).
And I think it’s valid to raise with her children certain questions of discernment:
Does this person seem trustworthy?
Does that person seem like they are craving attention at any cost?
This sort of thing helps her children evaluate not only the actions and motives of others, but their own actions and motives as well.
And she certainly raises a 100% valid point that anything on the InterWebs is there forever. Websites may come, websites may go, galleries and Instagram and Facebook and Flickr and Tumblr and Pintrest accounts may be deleted, but somebody somewhere has downloaded a copy of whatever it is you posted and sooner or later it will come back to visit you.
As I’ve posted on the matter of copyright and piracy, if you want to control dissemination of something you’ve created, don’t make a copy of it. The moment something exists in concrete form you are giving the world tacit approval to share it.
And if it’s in a digital format,
sharing is mandatory.
So to caution teens and tweens (and for that matter, even adults and seniors) to think twice before posting anything is not an invalid exercise.
And if she had made it more of a blanket warning for all teens of all genders & orientations — Don’t reveal things that should be kept private, don’t post pictures of yourself doing things that others may misinterpret and / or twist around against you — then she wouldn’t have stirred up the shitte-storm that followed.
But she didn’t,
and she did,
and that’s why
“I know your family would not be thrilled at the thought of my teenage boys seeing you only in your towel. Did you know that once a male sees you in a state of undress, he can’t quickly un-see it? You don’t want our boys to only think of you in this sexual way, do you?”
This, Mrs. Hall, is what is known as slut-shaming. I’ve seen lots of images of lots of people in their towels. Some may have been trying for a provocative look, but the standard armpit-to-upper-thigh towel wrap is about as sexy as a muu-muu and reveals less than a modest one piece bathing suit.
Not having seen every picture you refer to, but knowing full well teens will be teens and some of them will try to show off, I’ll grant that there were doubtlessly some who were trying to get a =ahem!= rise out of their viewers.
Are you checking all your media for underwear and bathing suit ads? I’ve seen commercials on TV aimed at women that are far more sensual and enticing that some teen shooting an iPhone snap of herself in her messy bathroom; are you taking the time to block those as well?
Now, to be fair, I understand full well why you would not want to run the risk of your teenage sons striking up friendships with teen girls who may not share your views on personal & public boundaries: Nobody wants to become a grandmother while their kids are still in high school.
But I would hope you would express similar concerns over any teen FB friend who posts pictures of themselves flashing gang signs or brandishing weapons recklessly or posting inflammatory memes.
Again, if you had done that,
you wouldn’t have gotten all
the attention you’ve
received so far.
“[W]e are hoping to raise men with a strong moral compass, and men of integrity don’t linger over pictures of scantily clad high-school girls.”
Men of integrity don’t linger over pictures of scantily clad high-school girls? I call shenanigans on that, Mrs. Hall.
“Girls, it’s not too late! If you think you’ve made an on-line mistake (we all do – don’t fret – I’ve made some doozies, even today!), RUN to your accounts and take down the closed-door bedroom selfies that makes it too easy for friends to see you in only one dimension.”
Yeah, I know that would convince any teen girl I’ve ever encountered:
Some anonymous old stick-in-the-mud telling them what to do to make
sacrifices brides for her sons.
“Will you trust me? There are boys out there waiting and hoping for women of character. Some young men are fighting the daily uphill battle to keep their minds pure, and their thoughts praiseworthy – just like you.”
This is where I think you do your own sons a disservice, Mrs. Hall. Like it or not, you have elevated them to a level of purity that few people are able to obtain.
Now, for all I know, maybe one or more of your sons is asexual, and if so, hey, nothing wrong with that, he can have friends of any gender or orientation without having sexual tension complicating matters.
But if your sons are more typical teenage boys, well, that horse is so far out of the barn it’s already been through the glue factory and is now sitting on your desk in the form of a roll of Scotch tape.
You are ladling unnecessary guilt and anxiety on them by taking their (presumably) natural God-given instincts, inclination, and proclivities and making them feel dirty and unclean and sinful and evil for feeling those feelings.
You have, in effect, slut-shamed your own kids. On the one hand, it shows even handedness on your part, tarring teen girls and your teen sons with the same sticky brush. On the other, just as it is not your place to slut-shame the child of another, it really isn’t your place, even as a mom who is Director of Women’s ministry at All Saints PCA in Austin, TX, to slut-shame any kids, especially your own.
In closing, again let me applaud you for devoting the time and energy to being involved in your children’s lives, even the online part, and for openly discussing with them the way anyone’s media postings can be interpreted or misinterpreted, and the importance of not just presenting a good face to the outside world but of actually being a good person so the face they present is never a false one.
P.S. Knowing God’s divine sense of humor, be prepared for at least one of your kids to bring home a heavily tattooed / pierced / transgendered / same-sex mate.
 Indeed, some of us are counting on that very fact.
 Trayvon Martin
 If so, how do you find time to do anything else?
 Tho I gotta admit, suburban white kids trying to play “ghetto” are among the funniest things on the InterWebs.
 And who does anything on the InterWebs except for attention, hmm? I know I don’t.
 I trust this was an accidental by-product, and not a deliberate parenting strategy on your part, because if this was indeed your intended goal, your sons have got far worse problems than FB friends in towels.