Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Melange Of Quasi-Relevancies

     I don’t have a large topic for today, but there are enough small ones that I can surely do one of these dreaded assorted posts.

     1. Life Or Video Games?

     In my opinion, that shouldn’t be a tough call...but there are some points in favor of video games:

     There is little for young men these days that is positive in the larger culture. As James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal once so astutely pointed out: "But there's a reason they're attracted to that particular pursuit. Video games are a simulacrum of masculine virtue: challenge, mastery, control."

     In a culture where these virtues are frowned upon, it's no wonder men are more drawn to video games than to a classroom, career, or relationship where, to perform well, one must appear docile or subservient to women and the state. People these days hate strong-willed men, hence the hatred of Trump. There are few who can take the heat of hatred, so video games and other pursuits can be a substitute life, at least for a while.

     Excellently well put, both by Taranto and Dr. Helen. The traditional “masculine spaces” are under assault by a substantially feminized culture that treats masculinity as “toxic.” Several of those spaces have already yielded. Video games have not. Thus, they constitute a haven, a retreat from a society great parts of which act as if they hate men and everything about us. But they also allow us to exercise the traditional characteristics, virtues, and aptitudes of masculinity, which makes them doubly valuable, especially to young men still coping with such matters as the educational establishment and Human Resources departments staffed by harpies of the sort I mention in Love In The Time Of Cinema and the soon-to-be-released Statesman.

     I’m a casual video gamer. (PlayStation 3, if you must know, and PlayStation 4 with 4K support as soon as its infant-mortality issues and other birthing pains are behind it.) For me, the two or three hours per week I spend battling assorted monsters and villains allows me a brief escape from mundane concerns – especially politics – a little hand-eye coordination exercise, and a good excuse to get Beth away from her computer and have her sit next to me with the Strategy Guide open on her lap.

     2. The Witnesses.

     One of my crosses is the placement of a Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah’s Witnesses less than a mile from my house. In consequence, my street is frequented by their acolytes, who seem never to omit my door from their quest for new Witnesses.

     I have nothing against the Witnesses as such. But I do dislike “cold calls” from religious proselytes. I have my own faith – for any newcomers to Liberty’s Torch, I’m a Catholic – and I see no reason to exchange it for something else. So when the doorbell rings, I usually “peek around the corner” to see whether it’s someone I know. If not, I wait for the interloper to depart.

     However, one of my lifelong faults worked against me the other day. I was expecting a tradesman who was coming to pick up my snowblower for its annual service, and went to answer the door without first “peeking.” And yes, it was a Witness.

     Great God in heaven, can they talk! And fast, as if in mortal fear that the Rapture might beat them to the conclusion of their sales pitch. Typical conversational speed is about 150 words per minute. This particular gentleman broke 500 easily.

     What was the lifelong fault? Excessive politeness. (Laugh if you like.) I can hardly endure being interrupted while speaking, so I strive to the utmost to avoid doing it to others. As a result, I heard him out for nearly fifteen minutes before I managed to get enough words in edgewise to persuade him to depart. The experience has me thinking afresh about relocating...possibly to the middle of the Mojave Desert. The air’s too dry out there to support long discourses about how the Kingdom of God will be established here on Earth and the Catholic Church is actually the Whore of Babylon.

     3. The FBI Investigations.

     We’ll never be certain why the FBI reopened its examination of Hillary Clinton’s email practices. It might stem from a coupling with the investigation of the Clinton Foundation, or it might be a pure consequence of the discovery of the “Weinerlode” on that disgraced former Congressman’s laptop computer. The FBI isn’t permitted to disclose certain things, and I’m certain there’s a lot of pressure from the Justice Department, as nakedly partisan as any Clinton for President volunteer. But of this we can be sure: it took a goodly amount of courage and determination to announce the resuscitation of that probe.

     After his initial nolle prosequi announcement, I entertained some dark thoughts about James Comey and his lieutenants. I still have some reservations about the bunch at the head of that agency. Even so, I must recognize the fortitude required to go against the open wishes and adverse pressure from Barack Hussein Obama, Loretta Lynch, and 98% of the American media. Whatever determination they might eventually reach, that much credit is rightfully theirs.

     The FBI was long thought to be entirely above politics and immune to political pressures. Perhaps it will recover that reputation. The reopening of the investigation is a step in the right direction.

     4. Domestic Disturbances.

     Danny Elfman has told us that “bad things come in twos.” I think he’s seriously undercounting.

     Just now, I’m coping with serious arthritis pain in my shoulders, extensive dental work in progress, massive unanticipated expenses from assorted broken and defective devices, a cleaning lady who habitually rearranges my house to suit herself, a prolonged inability to sleep, a Newf that drools solely on clean clothes – usually, the ones I’m wearing – and two cats that will steal anything that weighs less than they do and hasn’t been glued down. Moreover, all these things have hit more or less simultaneously.

     Along with all that, I’m “fictionally paralyzed” while I wait for the final batch of review comments on Statesman and a suitable cover image for it. I can’t manage to think about any of my other projects for as much as ten minutes running. So after I produce one of these screeds for Liberty’s Torch, I tend to spend the rest of the day on trivial pastimes rather than get any work done.

     This isn’t classical “writer’s block.” It’s more an epiphenomenon of the siege of maladies and miseries above. So when they’re behind me, it will pass...I hope. But for the moment, I need a lot of distractions, preferably of the sort I can enjoy from my recliner.

     Accordingly, fresh recommendations for good new fiction would be appreciated.


Jack Imel said...

Okay, you asked for it... this is definitely fiction, but I think writing sonnets is very rewarding for word play, and exercising that part of the brain that was created to create. And it's good arm chair reading and writing, since one really doesn't need all this electronic paraphernalia... just a handy pen and pad and a cat

I only send this one because I was having trouble working on the punctuation for it before sending the whole thing off to a friend.
It is sonnet 127 of 185, comprising "The Fourth Journey of Lud the Stonebuilder"

**One Hundred Twenty-seven**
Elma and her troupe resembled muchly the bands
Swelling within, not unlike the motley-est of mankind,
Which faded in and out of more civilized lands,
Pagans who survived by cagey craft and calloused mind.
They blended in with others captured on the road,
Strangers and stragglers whose ardor was increasing,
Who joined expecting food, wine, dance and a cozy abode
(Most of those already drunk or soddenly unpleasing.)
Haymordt dismounted and walked beside the cart;
Elma led llumpaca, its frayed nerves to placate
And in such manner they entered Nuestra’s great estate,
Where Reo Gilvar, early-cold, crossed the city’s heart;
And thus beheld the stage where celebrants played their part,
To witness vows, as viewers must, else vowers couldn’t start.

All the spelling is poetic license, but is the punctuation correct?

As to all the disasters in the daily news events, I think you do an excellent work in sorting it all out... I enjoy your blogs and the comments you receive immensely.

Dystopic said...

You are a patient man. I have no time of day for religious salesmen. I am quite terse with them when they show up on my door. "I will find my own way to Christ, thank you, have a pleasant day." *Door Close*.

I understand what they are trying to do, but they are going about it wrong. Your "cold call" analogy is spot on. You need warm leads, people who are, in their own fashion, already seeking Christ even if they don't know it.

syd B. said...

Were you aware that Jehovah’s Witnesses detest Halloween?

They can't stand it when strangers knock on their door.

Anonymous said...

A good way to get rid of the JW's is to politely tell them that you got kicked out of the community many years ago. They'll avoid you like the plague.

Francis W. Porretto said...

Syd B.: I didn't know about their aversion to Hallowe'en -- and this one came to my door on Hallowe'en! Thank you for that. It will come in handy next time, I'm sure.

Michael Burris said...

I've been thinking about James Comey's actions ... and I suspect that the Clinton's overplayed their hand. If they actually threatened Comey, he may have played along with the *intention* of reopening the investigation and making a big splash just before the election.

In this scenario, he would have a cache of evidence already to hand, and Weiner's idiocy made Comey's backup evidence superfluous. If I'm right, there will be a bigger splash on Friday, and possibly a follow-up detonation on Monday.

All this is predicated on the assumption that Ms. Clinton does not inspire loyalty in her subordinates - instead, she buys their temporary obeisance or strong-arms them into submission. With one spittle-laced sentence, she may have sunk her own ship.

Ol' Remus said...

" Just now, I’m coping with serious arthritis pain in my shoulders, extensive dental work in progress, massive unanticipated expenses from assorted broken and defective devices, a cleaning lady who habitually rearranges my house to suit herself, a prolonged inability to sleep, a Newf that drools solely on clean clothes – usually, the ones I’m wearing – and two cats that will steal anything that weighs less than they do and hasn’t been glued down. Moreover, all these things have hit more or less simultaneously."

See, here's the thing. Before you retired, this stuff happened and you worked a full time job besides. This is the problem with retirement, too much time to fine-focus. To paraphrase: problems expand to fill the attention available.

Rick C said...

Fran, I have several relatives who are JWs. According to them, if you tell the next one who visits you are happy with your religion and not interested in further contact, they are supposed to leave you alone after that. If they come back after that, call the local Kingdom Hall and complain.

Wanda Sherratt said...

Re: Jehovah's Witnesses. We always hid and refused to answer the door when we saw them through the curtains - it was my Mom who taught us that. That didn't help, though, if you happened to encounter one on the street, which happened to Mom once or twice. So she told us to just put our heads down, refuse to make eye contact, and walk briskly past before the evangelist could get started.

One day I was walking home from the bus in the rain, and saw approaching through the mist a well-dressed woman in a wool coat, carrying a satchel. Oh brother, I thought, so I put my head down and marched straight ahead, until the woman was right abreast of me. At which point she stopped and threw out her arms in a "Ta-da!" sort of gesture, so I had to look up. It was my Mom! I was on the point of walking right past her. I guess you can be a little TOO determined to keep your distance.