My Dad stayed here in 1953 while he was in the service, stationed in Great Britain. He and his G.I. buddies had a weekend leave and drove to the town where the hotel is located.
Ray Harryhausen died yesterday, the visionary responsible for the animation in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts, among many others.
Even before I knew or much cared to know his name, he inspired and touched me. If it were ever raining on a Saturday afternoon when I was a kid, we would tune in to Chanel 11 hoping that the Yankees were rained out, and the station would show an emergency double feature of films from Hammer Studios, maybe the B-list of Universal’s classic monsters, or the golden fleece itself: those garishly colored stop motion Greek myths.
To this day, I love showing friends the skeleton fight from Jason and the Argonauts, but it’s worth remembering that Harryhausen kept making films into the Star Wars era. This film from 1973 made a huge impression on me, especially Kali wielding swords in all her arms.
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I like much of what you have to say, but I share a number of different views about some of the issues. I retired from law enforcement in L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept after 36+ years, 30 of them spent mostly in a patrol car, as a deputy for 10 years, and a Sergeant for 26 years; I worked at 6 different stations in L.A. County, each with unique demographics. My Dad was a deputy for 29 years. I’ve read Grossman and I like much of what he has to say and his perspective on many issues. I want to think about and re-read what you’ve written, and perhaps share some of my thoughts at a future time, as well. I commend you for your service to our country, and I have always had high regard for our military, in general, although I never served in the military. I also want to commend you for your very thoughtful, rational thinking and honest open writing in your blog, and your article. It is rare in much of the writing I see elsewhere. May I suggest you look up an author who is a Vietnam Vet, and is also very thoughtful, honest , open, and rational in his writing and thinking. He has some similar and different ideas about these issues. You may have already read or heard of him: Karl Marlantes, his book “What It’s Like To Go To War.” If not, I think you’ll find him at least interesting.
On January 10, 2011, BOB HERBERT who writes for the New York Times posted an article online entitled “A Flood Tide of Murder.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/11/opinion/11herbert.html?_r=0 ) In the introductory paragraph of the article he talked about the poisonous political rhetoric of politicians and some of the “news” commentators designed to appeal to the popular fears, desires, conventional “wisdom,” and prejudices, rather than employing rational argument and critical thinking skills to seek meaningful solutions to difficult, complex problems like gun violence. This is an endemic problem which significantly impedes finding meaningful, effective solutions to many other problems in this country and American culture, including the homeless problems, the healthcare situation, and the the unrealistic, biased perceptions of what it means to be poor in America.
As Mr. Herbert points out in his article, “crazies” (which includes, in my opinion, the mentally ill and imbalanced, but also the religious and political fanatics) do not come to the decision to kill in a vacuum. Their ideas, frustrations, prejudices, biases, fears and feelings of desperation are gradually, often unconsciously assimilated or absorbed from the opinions, ideas, and the conventional “wisdom” or “facts” expressed by members of their own family, their friends, neighbors, classmates, co-workers, and from the movies, books, television and other forms of media they attend to. When children and young people are developing their minds and discovering who they are as human beings in our society and the world they are like sponges, soaking up the information, attitudes and relationships they observe around them. They see, hear and emotionally feel the complex, subtle nuances of the ways in which people relate, or fail to relate to one another.
These impressionable young humans are keenly aware of a multitude of verbal and non-verbal social cues for behavior: the way people talk to one another, or don’t; the emotional expressions or repressions of feelings directed toward others and themselves; the manner in which some people shun or avoid certain groups or types of people; their facial expressions while regarding individuals, or groups of individuals; the names they call others and the jokes they tell about them; the way some people characterize or denigrate the inherent value of other people; the way people dismiss or write-off certain groups of people, characterizing them as lazy, “takers”, poor, irresponsible, or the 47%, as a whole, without knowledge or regard for the unique stories of the individuals, which might temper their prejudice with compassion and empathy.
All of these, and the almost infinite, subtle nuances of human communication transmit a large quantity of erroneous, distorted and emotionally-charged perceptions of other people in our own society, as well as those in other countries. Some of this subtle and nuanced information is transmitted without the conscious awareness of the individual. It is similar to the process of dehumanization in the case of nations, where the people are perceived as the “enemy,” and therefore sub-human, and unworthy of the same basic respect, value and dignity every human being deserves – suddenly, its extremely easy and expedient to make exceptions to the American value that “All men are created equal.” Wars with some countries seems to be an inevitable possibility, at least in the short term, but mankind has made some amazing strides in knowledge, philosophy, and scientific, technological achievements. Perhaps it’s time to allow ourselves to evolve to a point where we don’t default too easily to dehumanizing people who are different from ourselves, simply because of cultural, religious or political views.
Today, within our society, we are faced with polarized political and cultural factions, with many Americans on the continuum in between. American citizens holding positions of power, authority, and celebrity, who possess the public trust, use vile, morally bereft, and vacuous rhetoric to create fear, anxiety, and deeply rooted distrust of our government. They demonize, accuse and blame the other side of evil, un-American agendas, and subversive, destructive intent to destroy everything from religion to the American military, and the Second Amendment. They create fear among good people who don’t know who to believe, and think about the issues and the “enemy” other side from an emotional, fear-based perspective. They even create distrust of the major news organizations so many people do not trust any “news” program except Fox “News” and Rush Limbaugh.
This type of “common wisdom” about other people, and classes of people is, unfortunately, ALL too common, and it can spread like a virus through human minds, facilitated by ignorance, fear, lack of critical thinking, and a failure to question the perceived authority of leaders and their “conventional” or “common wisdom.” And by leaders, I mean parents, older family members, neighbors, teachers, religious leaders, politicians, law enforcement, military, and other citizens who are influential in our communities and society. Each of us has a serious and sacred responsibility to carefully measure our words and our values, and endeavor to keep our biases, prejudices, and conventional “wisdom” to ourselves, if we unable to overcome them.
Today, of course, is Valentine’s Day, which is thought by many cynical people to be nothing more than a manufactured holiday; a clever conspiracy by the Card, Candy, Chocolate, Teddy Bear, and Miscellaneous Gift Industries to get US to part with more of our money. And frankly, the part of me that harbors a healthy portion of cynicism, that part has to agree, to a certain extent.
But the larger portion of this phenomenon called me; that part thinks Valentine’s Day is a special opportunity to express your love, kindness, thoughtfulness and humanity to that special someone (or someone’s) in your life; but also to express that love, kindness, thoughtfulness and humanity to everyone you meet today, on the street, at the supermarket, on the job, at the post office, on the subway, train, plane, or in your car.
Think about how much it “costs” to be kind or thoughtful to a complete stranger today. Express your love and humanity to others and feel what that “feels like” today. How much kindness, love, thoughtfulness, and humanity do you have to “spend” today? The American Economy surely has problems, but each of us has the infinite capacity and resources to spend or give away the currency of kindness, love, thoughtfulness and humanity we possess. It takes courage, mindfulness and putting others before oneself – but it costs nothing. And the “interest” you earn on the “currency” or “capital” of your love, kindness, thoughtfulness, and humanity will return dividends beyond your imaginings; many you may not experience directly, but like a “virus” that spreads and infects others.
Continue reading Try A Little Kindness Today – Be A Symbolic Valentine To Everyone