Category Archives: enteratinment

‘Allo, ‘Allo! A Comedy Worth The Laugh,

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Judy and I have been binge watching the BBC comedy series Allo, Allo! It is currently on Netflix and originally aired from 1982-1992. If you like comedy that makes fun of the Nazis like Hogan’s Heroes did, this might be your glass of cognac.

The series is set in a French Cafe Bar In German occupied France. The bar owner played by the late Gordon Kaye is working with the French resistance. The town Commandant played by Richard Marner and assisted by Captain Geering and Lieutenant Gruber, played by Sam Kelly and Guy Siner find themselves beholden to the resistance because of their incompetence and greed.

I am only about halfway into the second season, but if you need something to give you a laugh at the expense of Nazis, this might be a show for you.

I am tired and have an early meaning tomorrow followed by setting up what I need to accomplish for my required retirement physical, after which I will sift through another hundred or so of the emails and other tasks I need to do before dropping off a resume with another local university that does a lot with veterans and hopefully get home in time for Judy to be able to drop me off to watch Bayern Munich play Liverpool in the UEAFA Champions League Round Of 16 game before she heads off to do ceramics with her friends.

So until tomorrow, adieu, adieu.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Truth and the Twilight Zone in the Age Of Trump: “Logic is an Enemy, and the Truth is a Menace”

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Judy and I have been binge watching the classic television series The Twilight Zone. The show, written by Rod Sterling first aired before either of us was born. If you have never watched it, suppose you were born too late, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to take some time to do.

But I should preface this with the words of the great historian, Barbara Tuchman:

Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. Without books, the development of civilization would have been impossible. They are engines of change (as the poet said), windows on the world and lighthouses erected in the sea of time. They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind. Books are humanity in print.

There are a lot of truths buried in the various episodes, truths about reality and fantasy; religion and ethics; science and technology; human nature and yes, government too. The Twilight Zone is a strange place, you never know when you might end up there, in fact in Trump’s America every day feels like an experience in the Twilight Zone, in this case Season Two, episode 29, The Obsolete Man. In the episode the state determines who is obsolete and therefore condemned to death.

In the episode, Burgess Meredith plays a character named Romney Wordsworth, a librarian who has been declared obsolete by the state. Books have been banned as well as belief in a God that is not the no-God of the state. He is brought before the Chancellor, played by Fritz Weaver, and condemned to a death of his choosing.

The opening narration, spoken by Sterling sets the stage for the story:

You walk into this room at your own risk, because it leads to the future, not a future that will be but one that might be. This is not a new world, it is simply an extension of what began in the old one. It has patterned itself after every dictator who has ever planted the ripping imprint of a boot on the pages of history since the beginning of time. It has refinements, technological advances, and a more sophisticated approach to the destruction of human freedom. But like every one of the super-states that preceded it, it has one iron rule: logic is an enemy and truth is a menace. This is Mr. Romney Wordsworth, in his last forty-eight hours on Earth. He’s a citizen of the State but will soon have to be eliminated, because he’s built out of flesh and because he has a mind. Mr. Romney Wordsworth, who will draw his last breaths in The Twilight Zone

I won’t play the spoiler but I will end this brief article with the warning spoken by Sterling at the end of the episode. The episode can be found on Netflix. But, actually, this is unedited ending of that episode.

The chancellor, the late chancellor, was only partly correct. He was obsolete. But so is the State, the entity he worshiped. Any state, entity, or ideology becomes obsolete when it stockpiles the wrong weapons: when it captures territories, but not minds; when it enslaves millions, but convinces nobody. When it is naked, yet puts on armor and calls it faith, while in the Eyes of God it has no faith at all. Any state, any entity, any ideology which fails to recognize the worth, the dignity, the rights of Man…that state is obsolete. A case to be filed under “M” for “Mankind” – in The Twilight Zone.

So consider this a warning, especially for the followers of the authoritarians, fascists, and real or would be dictators, including the American President and his cult like supporters; a warning from the Twilight Zone.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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If the Fates Allow: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, a Haunting Song Of Hope

Friends of Padre Steve’s World

There are some songs at Christmas that despite their relative newness as compared to ancient carols seem to strike a chord that resonates deep in the hearts of people. I think that in our day that some speak louder than others.

One of those songs, at least for me, and probably many others is the song Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. The music was written by Ralph Blane and the lyrics by Hugh Martin for the musical Meet Me in St Louis and first performed by Judy Garland in that film. In the movie Garland’s character sings the song to her younger sister after their father announces plans to move from their home of St Louis to New York for a job. It is a haunting song with a fascinating story.

But the lyrics for the musical were different than the ones originally penned by Martin, and it would not be the last time that the words were changed.

For the musical, Garland, director Vincent Minnelli, and co-star Tom Drake felt that Martin’s original lyrics which began with “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas, it could be your last. Next year we may all be living in the past” were too depressing. Martin resisted but finally bowed to pressure and the lyrics were changed to “let your heart be light, Next year all our troubles will be out of sight” in response to their request.

The words sung in the musical by Judy Garland have a haunting but very real feel for people who face uncertainty at Christmas, as such they were very meaningful to the US military personnel who heard them at the front in the Second World War.

As originally produced they reflect a hope for a better future as opposed to a carefree present. As such they are probably much more appropriate to our current time than in the mid-1950s when Frank Sinatra recorded a modified version of the song for his album A Jolly Christmas.

Sinatra asked Martin to “jolly up” the line “we’ll have to muddle through somehow” and Martin changed it to “Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.”

When Frank Sinatra recorded the song in 1957 it too became a hit and the focus on present happiness rather than a hope for a better future fit the times in which it was recorded. Sinatra’s version also notes that “faithful friends gather near to us once more” instead of “will be near to us once more.”

The song was re-written by Martin a number of times including a “Christian” version which included the words “if the Lord allows” instead of “if the fates allow.” Though I am a Christian I think that change was kind of lame, but then if there are a few dollars to be made off religious people who otherwise won’t listen to a song, why not?

The song is one is one of the most recorded Christmas songs ever written and can be heard being sung by artists as diverse as Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Rod Steward, the Carpenters, Kelly Clarkson, John Denver with the Muppets, the Pretenders, Olivia Newton John, Kenny Loggins, and even Twisted Sister.

The song as recorded by Judy Garland is actually my favorite, though I also love the Sinatra version. Somehow “muddling through somehow” seems to be more appropriate in my experience.

So enjoy these versions of a song that has touched the hearts of hundreds of millions of people since it was first recorded. May it be an inspiration in these uncertain times of a hope for a better future. Maybe that makes it a better Advent song than a Christmas song, and maybe that’s why Muddling Through Somehow isn’t such a bad thing after all.

For me it is kind of a sad song, but at the same time it is mixed with hope…and I always try to live in hope.

Here’s to muddling through somehow…

Peace

Padre Steve

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Rockin’ At at Christmas: An Anthology of Christmas Rock

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

I am taking a break from history, and Politics to share some classic Christmas and holiday songs performed by various Rock and Roll artists and groups.

I realize that it is not quite  Christmas yet, and in fact it is still the season of Advent but I have to admit that I love the holiday season, especially the music. But, I am a child of the 1960s and 1970s, so I have certain preferences in in music and Christmas music comes in many forms and genres.

Over the next couple of weeks I will be doing a number of articles like this which have no purpose but to share a little joy through music. I plan on doing one focusing on the great R & B legends, one with Country artists, and a couple dealing with the stories of White Christmas and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, as well as the many different versions of both.

These holiday season I hope that no matter what holiday you celebrate that you do it with a joyful heart, even if it is Festivus, which it is tomorrow, or today when many of you are reading this.

So here are some great songs put out by some great artists and groups over the years, they are in no particular order. Some are traditional Christmas hymns while others are popular Christmas songs without a particularly religious bent, and many are sung by artists who are not practicing Christians, some of whom would be condemned to hell by many conservative Christians. Maybe that speaks to the power of the holiday, and the hope that it brings to so many people.

I hope you enjoy them.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

Chuck Berry Run, Run Rudolph

Elton John, Step into Christmas

Elvis Presley, Blue Christmas

Paul McCartney and Wings, Having a Wonderful Christmastime

Freddy Mercury and Queen, Thank God it’s Christmas

The Bangles, Hazy Shade of Winter

The Beach Boys, Little Saint Nick

Band Aid 1984, Do They Know It’s Christmas

Billy Idol, Jingle Bell Rock

The Carpenters, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Wham! Last Christmas 

Jose Feliciano, Feliz Navidad

Chicago, O Come All Ye Faithful

Annie Lennox and Al Green, Put a Little Love in Your Heart

Gary Glitter, Another Rock and Roll Christmas

George Harrison, Dong, Dong, Ding Dong

Herman’s Hermit’s O Holy Night

Eagles, Please Come Home for Christmas

 

Mariah Carey, All I Want for Christmas is You

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Christmas All over Again

Blondie, We Three Kings

Rod Stewart, Let it Snow

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Little Drummer Boy

Nat King Cole, The Christmas Song

Twisted Sister, White Christmas

John Lennon, Happy Christmas (War is Over)

Bruce Springsteen, Baby Please Come Home

Barry Manilow, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas  

Neil Diamond, The Chri

Stevie Nicks, Silent Night

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Suspense Monday: 24 Live Another Day and Bates Motel

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Tonight it one of those rare occasions when I am getting to watch some television that is not associated with baseball or some old movie that I like.

Tonight my favorite new show, Bates Motelwhich is positively creepy and suspenseful is having its season two finale and the classic 24returns as 24 Live Another Day.  In this series Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) comes out of hiding to stop a major terrorist operation as his former ally and now President of the United States James Heller (William Devane) has dispatched the CIA to track Bauer, a wanted fugitive down. Many real issues are already being covered in the show including drone attacks, hacking, terrorism and torture conducted by the “good guys” of the CIA, and a President confronting a diagnosis of some kind of dementia.

It promises to be an excellent run as the 24 hours are compressed into 12 episodes. In it a number of familiar characters besides Bauer and Heller return including Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub) and Bauer’s former flame Audrey Raines (Kim Raver). Chloe is in custody as an Edward Snowden type hacker and Audrey is now married to Heller’s Chief of Staff played by Tate Donovan. Judging from the first hour it portends to be an excelled reprise of the original series with Bauer now on the opposite side of the law but still seeking justice and to protect his country.

bates-motel

As far as Bates Motelwhat might have been a series finale is now a bridge into a new season. No spoilers here as I am only patiently waiting the season finale because I am watching 24.

Since I am pretty tired from my trip to Houston that is all I am going to write about tonight. Expect another Gettysburg article tomorrow unless something trips me up. But tonight I am going to watch some suspenseful and creepy television.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Creepy Television Shows: Padre Steve Loves Bates Motel and Those Who Kill

BatesMotel

Well my friends after a coupled of weeks of seriousness something a little less serious, unless you take creepy things more seriously than you should. Yes I could be writing more about Gettysburg or other military History tonight. Likewise I could be writing about pressing social issues or world events, faith and religion, politics or baseball. I do promise that I will do some of that soon.

However, I don’t do a lot of television. I am not a fan of a lot of the new shows on today. I can watch Seinfeld, Boston Legal, MASH, any of the Star Trek series, The X-Files, Cheers, House MD or any number of older television series for hours on end. I also love The Simpson’s, Family Guy, Southpark and American Dad and the same is true with many other series.

However, I do not enjoy what is referred to as “reality TV.” The fake nature of this artificial reality bugs the shit out of me. Truthfully I deal with enough real reality every day not to want to deal with the contrived reality of Duck Dynasty or anything else of the genre.

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Neither am I a fan of soap operas, even those of the horror genre. Unfortunately between reality TV and various soap operas it seems that much of television has become a wasteland of prepackaged formulas designed to keep non-thinking people coming back.

Likewise I refuse to watch any supposedly “Christian” television. I cannot think of much more that is less Christian than I see on most Christian networks. The fact that most extol the voices or pride, avarice, greed, and even violence all baptized with carefully selected verses of scripture and done in the name of God makes me think that they are the tools of the Devil himself.

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It is hard to believe that in an era where there are hundreds of television shows to watch on any given night that I have nothing to watch unless I put in a DVD or BlueRay disc of something that is now off the air.

Rod

However, that being said I have always loved creepy and suspenseful shows. I loved The X-Files, which I already mentioned. Likewise always I loved The Twilight Zone, Tales From the Crypt, Tales from the Dark Side and the long running Criminal Minds. I love the creepy, suspenseful and the sometimes somewhat twisted humor and irony of these shows.

However, it is been a while since I have seen any really creepy and suspenseful new shows. I am sure that there are some out there but it has taken me time to find a couple new shows that I really like. That search my friends ended last week when my wife Judy insisted that I watch Bates Motel. I loved it.

Following it there was another show, Those Who Kill. I loved it as well. Very suspenseful, creepy and well done. You cannot ask for much more in two shows that run back to back.

batesbathroom

Bates Motel is basically the prequel to the legendary Hitchcock film Psycho. Last year Judy realized that her decoration of our master bathroom in a Rubber Ducky pattern was not interesting to me. So for my birthday when I was still stationed in Camp LeJeune she redecorated that bathroom in a Psycho theme. I loved it. When I cam home and saw it I laughed myself sick. That being said there are some nights that when I have to get up to do my business that I am taken aback.

Bates Motel is really well done, as is Those Who Kill. I think that the former is really creepy because of the whole story and the fact that we meet Norma Bates, an overprotective mother who happens to be kind of hot.  The latter is about a detective and a professor of forensic psychology who track down serial killers. Both shows are creepy, very well done and very suspenseful. In other words they appeal to me.

I think a big part of the reason I like these shows is because they demonstrate the human condition in a manner not seen in other places. We live in a beautiful but at times scary world.

With that I have to take my attention back to the new Bates Motel followed by Those Who Kill.

Peace and Suspense,

Padre Steve+

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