Friday, September 30, 2016

8 1/2 & Carlotta's Galop

Otto e Mezzo - 8 1/2

The Bear recommends Fellini movies as a sure-fire way to put a smile on your face. 8 1/2 gets a Fresh Salmon Award of 5 out of 5 Fish. It is quite tame, although the main character is having an affair, and lies about it to his wife.

8 1/2 (Otto e Mezzo) depicts a director, Guido (Marcello Mastroianni), in the grips of artistic paralysis, as the clock ticks down to the beginning of shooting. He is devoid of ideas, and cannot even cast the film.  He spends the entire movie putting off questioners with vague answers. He wants to be artistically truthful, even as a giant (and expensive) rocket ship set is rising. He is completely detached from the (no doubt bad) science fiction movie he is supposed by directing.

His "inner critic" is on the outside, pleasantly picking apart all of his ideas, until a humorous scene during casting. (Probably one the Bear will appreciate more keenly after Judging Angels comes out.)

However, he is not so truthful in his life. He is married to Luisa, but is cheating with Carlotta (Sandra Milo), who is also married. Carlotta does not inspire him, though, and becomes more of a demand or distraction.

His roleplaying with Carlotta portrays her as a woman of little worth and no morals. He also fantasizes about a pure beauty in white: (Claudia Cardinale). He seems fond of Carlotta, and enjoys their physical relationship, but Guido doesn't really seem satisfied with anything. There is never a hint that they will leave their spouses and marry.

Marcello Mastroianni is brilliant in a mostly understated performance. When he's not wearing a little cowboy hat and wielding a bullwhip, that is. He projects ennui without depression, and is game for the most ridiculous scenes. The other standout is Sandra Milo as Carlotta, who should have gotten an award for the following scene, if nothing else. She steals every scene she's in, exuding Italian sensuality. (Both actresses in the scene were from Tunisa, as was Claudia Cardinale, who won the "Most Beautiful Woman in Tunisia in 1957.)

Carlotta's Galop

Here is the Bear's favorite scene. Guido and Luisa (his wife) are together, when who should arrive by carriage but Carlotta, with white muff and hat. Carlotta and Luisa's eyes meet.

Carlotta does a wonderfully expressive little comic dance of indecision. She bats her eyelashes, puts her fingers to her mouth uncertainly. Half-turn, long, hesitant step, then a smart turn toward the couple and she flounces to her own table. Guido gives a little indulgent smile, like, 'That's my Carlotta." (Or maybe he is flattered by being between his two women.) An argument ensues in which Guido lies to Luisa, and claims this is the first time he's seen Carlotta in a long time. Luisa cries "vaca!" (cow).

Carlotta's unforgettable entrance is near the beginning, but stick around for the fantasy ending, where Carlotta sings along with the score like a bird, and-

Guido is so unhappy, even some of his fantasies turn into nightmares. He dreams of all the women he has known being in a harem, while he is bathed and coddled by them like an infant. His wife does all the housework and backs up his every utterance. But a dancer - sentenced to "go upstairs" because she is too old - leads a rebellion.

The Bear just realized that it is very hard to describe a Fellini film.

In 8 1/2, Guido's disastrous personal life is mirrored in the doomed film project. The film is ostensibly about making a film, or, to be more accurate, not making one. The people surrounding the project fade in to his fantasies and back again.

La Matta (Fool) and Her Unexpected Rhumba

Guido has a flashback to a beach where a mysterious, large, woman with tangled black hair lives in a pillbox from WWII. The boys give her money, and she dances for them, throwing her heart into a surprisingly competent rhumba. It's a wonderful scene that catches the boys' innocence, and never breaks it, even if it bends it just a little. What the Bear remembers best, though, is the joy and confidence of a dance that turns la matta into an object of pre-adolescent fascination for the boys.

Priests go after Guido on the beach in a Benny Hill type chase. Guido the director seeks inspiration from a prelate, but the latter has nothing useful to offer. It seems that no one has the answers he's groping for.

Accept Life and Live It

The tone is light-hearted and nostalgic. Nino Rota's score is perfect, as always. (He wrote the score for The Godfather, and won Best Score Oscar for Godfather II.) The Bear thinks this is a film about the creative process. Guido is always elsewhere around people. Despite his bad marriage and Carlotta, he is attracted to Claudia Cardinale's chaste nurse figure. In many ways, he wants to return to his childhood (a typical Fellini theme). There is a beautifully filmed, tender scene of the children in his family being put to bed. Guido desires that innocence, even to the point of infantalizing himself in his  harem fantasy.

Does the film get made? Ultimately, that is not important. What is important is that Guido recognizes all the characters in his life, and that he join with them in the dance here and now.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Ephemera Links Gone

Don't know what happened, but the links to other ephemera just disappeared somehow on their own. It will take some time to fix, and the Bear is very busy right now. He will fix things as soon as he get to it.

Sorry for the inconvenience. Seems like an odd thing to happen.

Here they are for the time being

Why does anyone need more than the Bear's ephemeris? Because these links are all to excellent ephemera, indeed the Bear's favorites. They all have different styles and interests, but are mostly compatible with the SCB. Even the Bear, with his prodigious output, cannot cover everything. And he would rather be in a Bear pit with a pack of dogs instead of reading anything to do with Amorous Laetitia.

By the way, did you know "laetitia" is the name of a figure used in occult divination called "geomancy? What do you think?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Things Are Not as Bad as You Think - They're a Lot Worse

Introduction: Why the "We've Had Bad Popes Before" Argument Fails

Amusing Ourselves to Death
This is one of the Bear's best, in his opinion. It is an essay about how we now have access to far more news than we need, about far more problems than we can fix. The ephemerist's paradox is that the more he writes, the more he contributes to this problem. And what problem is this? "Low information-action ratio." 

This indirectly addresses the frequently-heard argument, "oh, we've had bad popes before, so don't worry about it." This is not correct. It does not consider the continual and immediate flow of heterodoxy into a West that is now implacably anti-Christian, and a Church that has been critically undermined by heresy under color of authority. 

The stream of time flows much faster today than it did in the 14th century. Francis is not the only problem. Events move so quickly that we are literally witnessing the collapse of the Church before our very eyes. The torrent of events threatens to wash away everything.

The sooner we recognize this, the better. Maybe it was God's punishment on the passengers of the Titanic. But those passengers realistically assessed their danger and figured out what to do. The Bear is not going down smoking a cigar on the sloping deck of the fantail listening to Nearer My God to Thee because the Cunard Line engineer said the ship was unsinkable. 

We're growing weary and confused. That's good. If we are not, we don't understand the situation. The greatest adventure of our age is creating a new paradigm that is Catholic, yet figures out what to do with the cuckoo in Peter's nest. Fortunately, we know exactly what the Church is, and should look like. No one can take that away from us. This is the treasure we must pass on to the next generation.

Faith is one thing. Ignoring the indisputable evidence you are seeing with your own eyes is another. We are in huge trouble. The Bear can neither pietistically invoke "the wrath of God," nor downplay the wreckage. We are in trouble, and for an obvious reason. The Church is controlled by men who are more of the Left than Christ. Men who have hacked themselves away from the Vine and replanted themselves in the muck of secular priorities and human approval.

This is the new normal. We need to deal with it forthrightly and courageously.

A Low Information-Action Ratio

Cardinal Daneels admitted to a "mafia" against Pope Benedict XVI, which ultimately led to Jorge Bergoglio's election as Pope. One bit of information from a year ago; another is the last scandal you read this morning.

Oh dear, what does one do with such information? Is that old bear, Pope Benedict really still the Pope? Do we wake up to find Bobby in the shower, and the entire Francis Pontificate a dream? After all, would a real pope travel to Sweden to celebrate heresiarch Martin Luther and his destruction of the Christian West? (It's a serious question. Would General MacArthur have traveled to Japan in the middle of WWII to celebrate the Emperor? Would he not have been court-martialed and shot for treason?)

Neil Postman (1931-2003) was one of the greatest social commentators ever, and wrote the greatest book about our age. It is called Amusing Ourselves to Death.

A High Information-Action Ratio

Imagine you are in a mid-nineteenth century small American town, somewhere between the Ohio river and the Rockies. Let's call it Tumbleweed. A storm comes along and knocks down the church steeple. Everyone knows, of course, and the men get to work putting it back up, while the women bring them lemonade and cookies. The repair is well within the scope of the town's abilities.

A week later, word spreads that the schoolmarm showed up at the schoolroom a little tipsy. The ladies of the town quietly take the matter in hand.

The Johnson family's crop was blighted. No one makes a big thing about it, but foodstuffs are quietly gathered and they are provided for.

In each of these examples, the town receives no more information about problems than they themselves can address. They enjoy a high information-action ratio. In other words, they can act on the all the information they receive. They do not receive information they cannot act upon. They feel a measure of control over their world that we can't even imagine.

The Telegraph

One day, men come with tall poles and big wooden spools of wire. A stranger sets up some sort of clackity-clack device in the railroad station. Somebody recognizes it. "It's the telegraph! The news comes over those wires they're settin' up. It's all done with clicks of that thing-a-ma-jig, but that there man knows what it's sayin'."

In short order, the train delivers a huge, heavy crate. Townspeople gather around in excitement as the wood is pried apart to reveal a printing press. "We're gonna have us a newspaper!" exclaims the same man who knew about the telegraph. (He must be a city slicker.)

"A newspaper," another man scoffs, winking at his fellows. "What happens in Tumbleweed worth puttin' in a newspaper?" His jibe is rewarded by laughter.

"Go ahead, laugh," says Mr. Know-It-All. "But this here newspaper is going to have stories from all over the country, the world, even. And it'll all come right down those telegraph wires. Think of it! We're not going to be stuck here in Tumbleweed knowing just the small dealings of our town. If a ship sinks, we'll know about it. If there's a new King of England, we'll know that too. Disasters! Wars! Controversies! However often that fellow decides to print his newspaper, that's how often we'll know about everything! Imagine, the whole world is coming to Tumbleweed!"

One of the first stories carried by the telegraph and printed in the newspaper was an outbreak of yellow fever in New Orleans that killed thousands.

Brave New World

The telegraph slithered into the garden of Tumbleweed and whispered to the people: you shall know like God. Now the townspeople's heads were filled with problems about which they could do nothing. Postman wrote in the age of television. How quaint, compared to our internet-fueled day where consumers of news are themselves producers, and editorial comment is provided by anyone with access to wifi.

In his forward, Postman compares Orwell's vision of the future, 1984, to Huxley's Brave New World. It makes for fascinating reading, but slightly off-point for the Bear's purposes. Suffice it to say that Postman wrote this: "'In 1984,' Huxley added, 'people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure.' In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us."

What do we love? The Church. Could our very love of what is holy contribute to our ruin? Wouldn't that be positively satanic!

A low-information action ratio refers to the helplessness of people faced with unlimited, decontextualized information. The relationship between information and action has become so attenuated, what's left is a feeling of helplessness. The problem isn't the steeple on the church, it's the Church.

We try to satisfy our disquiet with more information, or -- and this is new -- tailoring our information sources to only those we find agreeable. Neither way contributes to getting to the ultimate truth, nor still yet doing something about it ("action") which is the real issue.

Postman doesn't offer a solution, to the Bear's recollection, but it has been awhile since he read Amusing Ourselves to Death. He'll do that soon.

Low Information-Action Ratio in Ecclesiastical Politics

If it is not obvious by now, the Bear is saying we suffer from a low information-action ratio when it comes to ecclesiastical politics. What if we really knew why Pope Benedict XVI stepped down? Or what sketchy Cardinals were involved in a "mafia?" Or what exactly the German bishops were up to? Is there anything we could do with that information?

If the engine light comes on in your car, the action is clear and doable: take it in. But sifting through a glut of information to obtain timely, actionable intelligence about the Church that you and your neighbors can handle -- like Tumbleweed's church steeple being knocked down? No. It is an impossible fantasy. We read, and we create more information. No wonder we fret so!

And supply is just part of the problem with our limitless appetite for information. What about "action?" We never really get to the bottom of anything. And if we ever were to get near it, we would be distracted by the next scandal, some other juicy tidbit to engage, enrage or enthrall us. And if we were somehow finally able to master it all (impossible, of course), what could we do, practically speaking? Nothing. We would have only made our low information-action ratio worse.

That's not our fault. That is just the nature of the information machine we have created as it interacts with the human brain. Our brains were designed to use information that they sip, as it were. When we hook up our brains to a fire hose of data, far beyond their power to do anything about, the Bear shall let you guess the result. Confusion, fear, anger and ultimately paralysis is probably the best we can expect.

Whatever it is, it is probably not going to be the most peaceful place for prayer and reflection, but, rather, an occasion for pride and wrath.

The telegraph lines are singing right into our heads these days, and we sit, our jaws lax, as we know too much, but can do nothing about it. As always, that old serpent who seemed to promise us so much turned out to be a cheat.

The "take away" from this little essay is that Postman was onto something, the Bear thinks. Feeling helpless isn't pleasant, and we don't always make things better when we try to do something about that. Feeling helpless is inevitable in the internet age, just as it was, to a lesser extent in Postman's television age, or even when the telegraph insinuated itself into the innocent town of Tumbleweed. 

There is no apparent answer to the modern problem of the low information-action ratio. Just another trap to be aware of in the information age.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Bearmageddon Now Featured

Please note that if you ever need a laugh, and it is one of the days when the Bear just isn't coming through for you, you can always find the Bearmageddon link in the sidebar. As the Bear might have written at WXYZ, "See Bearmageddon for all your Bear humor needs."

Articles include:

  • How to avoid Bear online dating scams
  • Bears taken off endangered species list; all other animals placed on it

Monday, September 26, 2016

Bear on the Big Debate

Hillary in makeup for tonight's debate.

Here you go: a Bear's take on the big debate.

Summary: Mom vs. Your Favorite Entertaining Uncle.

Your Favorite Entertaining Uncle - we'll call him Donald - came by tonight. He's supposedly got lots of money, and is full of stories. Mom - we'll call her Mom - is very composed, has an answer for everything.  Oh, and the next-door-neighbor - we'll call him Lester - who mom is having an affair with, and doesn't care much who knows it, came by, too. Mom sat on his lap while they both put down Uncle Donald.

Uncle Donald cracks you up. You like his style. The situation was so ridiculously unfair, you sort of felt sorry for him, but he's not the type to take any nonsense from anyone. Being a businessman, he sees things mainly in those terms, of course. He does tend to repeat himself, but when you look back and forth between Uncle Donald and Mom, you think you'd feel better with Uncle Donald if the Zombiepocalypse happened.

You could tell Mom was playing fast and loose with the truth. She really made some low blows about Uncle Donald being Racist and Sexist, and maybe Phobophobic or whatever. But then she bragged about taking the high road.

Okay, if you are a liberal Democrat, Clinton is obviously your candidate.

Other than that, Trump looked energetic, tough, and unflappable, On points, Clinton won - she's the better debater. But to the extent the grossly biased moderator allows for any conclusion, the Bear thinks Trump made the better impression.

No one had a seizure, and no one had a foaming at the mouth tantrum. In that regard, the debate was disappointing. Let's go to random points that are already fleeting from the Bear's 450 gm. ursine brain.

The moderator was a disgrace. We've seen bias before, of course, but nothing like this.

"Secretary Clinton, during the last six years of the Obama administration, the economy has made a miraculous recovery thanks to Democrat policies. Real income is up 750%. How will your administration maintain this amazing recovery?"

"Mr. Trump, the topic is race. Why do you hate black people?"

  • Race: We learned how hurt the birther issue made poor l'il Barack. Well, boo-hoo. Do you think people go around Russia saying how Putin cries himself to sleep over something? Not more than once. Clinton called Trump a racist, but she literally called everybody a racist. Especially cops. Cops are so freaking unbelievably sheet-wearing racist that she is going to send in Federal Racial Harmony Counselors with MSWs to teach racist cops in Charlotte and other places how to police without being so racist. And now for an aside...

Is the criminal justice system racist? The Bear is aware of one factor where race is significant. The race of the victim pretty much decides who gets tried for the death penalty. The Bear defended both white (more) and black fewer) defendants in death penalty cases. Every victim was white. Kill an attractive white woman, and they bring you to trial already strapped to the gurney with lines in both arms.

But, all things being equal, even in the Copperhead country of Southern Illinois, the Bear never noticed black people being treated any more unfairly than anyone else. Not, at any rate, at the trial end of the pipeline. He did want as many black people on the jury as possible; and the prosecutor wanted to get rid of them all. Consider that a dirty little secret, and make of it what you will.

You really want to know who is racist in the criminal justice system? Until just a few years ago, the feds. White guy with a gram of blow, and a black guy with a gram of crack (same thing in rock form) - the feds used to hammer the crack defendants. Who were all black. 

Now it's rednecks who are getting hammered on meth. If you have a prior drug offense, and are rolled up in a meth conspiracy by the feds, you're looking at 20 years statutory minimum if the feds file for it (and they do). Then there are "mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines" depending on the inflated amount they put on you. You will plead guilty and dime out your buddies ("it's okay; everybody does it") and get a bit off for acceptance of responsibility, a third off for cooperating (if the prosecutor feels like it a year down the road), etc. and it's not quite as horrible. Even though the Federal Sentencing Guidelines are no longer mandatory (Bear rolls eyes) they are still an abomination before the Lord.

Clinton said she was against those, but the Bear seriously doubts it. They are an institution in the fed system.

The Bear acknowledges that both cops and blacks have a unique experience with one another on the street. But "racism" isn't the real story.

  • Clinton said Trump likes beauty pageants, and "likes hanging around them." So he's a dirty old man, too. Seriously? That's what we're devoting precious airtime too? (Although the Bear concedes she knows more about that sort of thing than he does.)
  • Clinton is sorry for the whole email thing and accepts responsibility. Then she talked about cybersecurity with a straight face. Trump said he would release his tax records if she released the 33,000 emails she deleted. I'm sorry and accept full responsibility, but I still had all my people plead the fifth.
  • Clinton is going to bomb ISIS until all territory is retaken. Trump said he would "hammer" ISIS. Look. You don't take and hold ground with airplanes. That's what 11 Bravos are for. Bombing campaigns are over-rated. Still, let's agree which Arabs are the bad guys and coordinate with the Russians before we start WWIII because some pilot thought he saw a missile being fired from a Russian fighter. Do not - repeat do not - send U.S. troops into the Middle East ever again. The Romans spent seven centuries in that quagmire, and look where they are today.
  • Trump wants to blow out of the water Iranian boats that taunt our flag in the khalija al-arabia (the proper name for the so-called "Persian Gulf"). It would be a tremendous morale boost to our sailors, and the Bear likes our chances with the Fifth Fleet.
  • NATO: Trump unenthusiastic, says we pay 73% of the defense of the 28 member nations. Mom scolded him for scaring the Japanese. (Are they in NATO? The Turks are, so why not?) He wants rich countries we protect to pony up (did somebody say "pony?").
  • Trump wants to tax goods coming into the country. Makes sense. And nobody drag out Smoot-Hawley.
  • Trump got in a good dig talking about all the places he had been, while Clinton had stayed home in a coma. This generated the stupidest canned reply of the night (and boy, was this "Hillary! Stays fresh in the can!" night) - "I prepared for this debate. And, um, I'm prepared to be President." What? Does the woman even know what a non sequitur is?
  • Hillary had a fire-engine red pantsuit. All she needed was a pitchfork. It almost made the Bear have a seizure. Her face was pulled back like that woman from Brazil.
  • Temperament: Trump adopted the issue, which was smart. He insisted he had a better temperament than Clinton, and the Bear believed him. Maybe it's confirmation bias, but the Bear's sensitive nose was picking up the scent of benzos right through the television screen every time he watched Clinton. (And the Bear has been given every tranquilizer known to man, mostly administered IM if you catch his drift.)
  • "You Got a Mouth on You, Girl!" Clinton was nasty and personal. Trump was mostly gentlemanly, but tough. She was going for the low-hanging fruit, while Trump insisted on setting the record straight.
  • Clinton actually stood there and accused Trump of not releasing his tax records on account of a series of speculations, then finished by saying "it must be something horrible." Wow. Hillary impressed the Bear as someone who has no scruples whatsoever, and would do anything to go down in history as the first woman president.
  • Clinton pimped her book Looking Forward to Tomorrow, or whatever, which the Bear thought was sort of tacky. Sell your book on your own time, not in your content. (The Bear reminds his readers the Catholic Psychological Thriller Judging Angels Which Is Really Finished Now is set for a Christmas release.)
  • Trump is all about building business through Reaganomics. Clinton is just pushing the same old Democrat line: raise the minimum wage, tax the wealthy, oh, and the feds are going to help your family with the tough choices you have to make balancing a career and your one child. 
  • And Clinton claimed Trump said women should be paid equally only if they do they same work as a man. Does this make sense to humans? She objected to that. Clinton's handlers also thought "Trumped Up Trickle Down" would be a crowd pleaser. Ouch. Humans are not natural showmen, are they?
The Bear must insist that Clinton's allegations of Russia hacking the DNC are unsubstantiated and outrageous!!!

Trump is rough, and doesn't come off as knowledgable, but the Bear likes his instincts. Maybe it's time for a president who is not a professional politician. The Bear is fairly certain that presidents get a lot of help, and can't do anything really stupid.

Let the Bear rephrase that...


Ripped from today's headlines, as it were.

The Bear is excited! Somebody has obviously made an entire fan site dedicated to the Bear. Link to story: "Rangers sent to euthanize Bear who killed officers after it had killed some other rangers."

But the small army of rangers who were assigned the task of euthanizing the bear this time were also slain as soon as they tried. The bear’s known body count is now 73... 
But the moment they attempted to euthanize the bear, it tore free from the operating table and killed everyone in the building, then escaped. The police were called, but every officer sent to the scene, even though in large numbers, were also slain as they attempted to chase the bear through the forest. 
At one point the bear had come out onto highway 7 and was being pursued by six police vehicles," said Sergeant Morin of the Altadente police department. "But when one of the cruisers tried to ram the bear, the vehicle flipped and caused a pile up. The bear at everyone." is definitely on the Bear's list list of favorite sites.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Shakespeare's The Tempfeminest

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Martin Luther as "The Fool"

Fool as Luther.
The images on the 22 Tarot trumps are derived from Medieval "triumphs," or edifying floats that were used in religious processions. Theories that they are mystic symbols from ancient Egypt or whatever are nonsense. The 56 "pip cards" of four suits were added later to create a popular card game. It was only much later still that someone decided to employ the evocative illustrated deck in fortune telling.

Fortune telling is a very bad idea.

The "wicked pack of cards" remains compelling, however, because many of the cards are symbolic expressions of psychological features. The Moon, for example, is beloved in poetry because it is such a perfect illustration of the subconscious. T.S. Eliot alludes to Tarot in The Wasteland, but takes much artistic license, inventing cards out of whole cloth.

Around the turn of the 20th century, some Victorian English occultists tackled the subject with the obsessiveness, creativity and wackiness characteristic of their time and place. Although they were not the first to do so (France has long been ground zero for Tarot) they attempted to make the symbolism obvious. The coincidence that Tarot has the same number of cards as the letters of the Hebrew alphabet (which doubles as numbers) was too good to pass up.  Eventually, Tarot was seen as a kind of shorthand encyclopedia of the occult. Never mind that occultists could never entirely settle on the same attributions.

Fortune telling is the sin of superstition. How ironic that religious imagery would be expropriated in this manner.

Perhaps The Fool has seen more variations than any other card. It is a unique card, bearing the integer zero. Originally, The Fool was a beggar being chased off by a dog. Sometimes it is a wolf, and sometimes whatever it is, is biting him. Artist Pamela Coleman Smith executed Victorian occultist Arthur E. Waite's vision that fixed the images in both popular and esoteric cultures. In their The Fool, he is gayly stepping off the edge of a cliff while a little white dog frolics at his heels.

Much more benign than an attacking wolf, although perhaps a wolf attack would alert him to the danger of ignoring the real world!

The Tarot is nothing, if not ironic.

The most interesting version of The Fool the Bear has found is the one pictured. The Fool is none other than Martin Luther. The Bear thinks this is hilarious, and if The Devil's Picture Book can have a legitimate use, this is it. The wolf is apparently drawing up short of the edge. Luther is reading his truncated version of the Bible.  Perhaps the rest of it is in his bindle. The Bear isn't sure about the watch, unless it is a "cheap and unreliable watch." In any event, he has his watch, out, but is not looking at it. 

The Bear sees a man who is no longer oriented in space and time. A proud man who thinks the law of gravity does not apply to him. A man whose eyes are fixed on the best of books, as John Bunyan's pilgrim would say, but oblivious to the rest of the story.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Bear Found an Old Photograph of Him

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Although Judging Angels is finished - "it's over, but has it ended?" - there will always be a tweak here and there, at least for an obsessive Bear.  So, there may or may not be anything new here before October First: submission day. And the Bear's and Red Death's anniversary: 40 years. (Ginger Rogers wished she were Red Death.)

The Bear and Ginger Rogers both worked for RKO in the 1930s. He surprised her on the set one day (which is probably why she looks terrified, and appears to be pushing the Bear's paw away with her right hand). Later, though, we met again at one of Howard Hughes' parties, and the Bear introduced her to his style of dancing.

Ginger did not like Communists. (In fact, her mother Lela testified before HUAC.) We had that in common, which is ironic, since the Bear had been awarded the honor of Hero of the Bolshevik Revolution through an almost comic series of misunderstandings.

Ginger always said the Bear was a better dancer (in his own way) than Fred Astaire.

Hollywood  was a tremendously corrupting environment for an innocent B movie Bear. He does not know if any of his movies even survived. He certainly hopes not. He was never able to convince directors that Bears were not found in Africa.

Much later, Ginger was kind enough to provide the Bear with
the autograph he had failed to obtain earlier.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Bear's Postmodern Academic Journal Article (Hint: Look Anyway)

Awesome publicity photo of Jack Dreeda or something like that.

The Bear does not want everyone to think he is just a buffoon. Here is a scholarly article he wrote on language and sexual identity and stuff.

Not really, but you might get a kick out of it. Especially if you are an Umberto Eco fan and recognize the name Derrida. (Be sure to note that in the comments, so we can all be impressed!) This is from the famous post modern essay generator. It is utter gibberish made up of jargon, and fake scholarly quotes by real figures - in other words, it is indistinguishable from real articles of this nature. In fact, one was submitted to a journal, and got published.

Yep. Editors of a journal could not tell the difference and published it for real.

No worries. The Bear does not write literature. He writes crowd-pleasing yarns with smokin' women and smokin' guns, using simple words and as many familiar tropes as he can cram into 160,000-ish words. Subplots? Confusing to the reader. Character arcs? Who cares? You want plot, I got your plot. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. In chapter two people start dropping. 46 chapters later, they're still dropping.

Oh. It's a Catholic psychological thriller. Because the characters think sometimes. ("Man, she's smokin'," thought Bill as he killed another bad guy with his .48 pistol with poison bullets.)

Isn't that right, beta readers. Hello?

Batailleist `powerful communication’, cultural subcapitalist theory and

The bear


1. Expressions of defining characteristic

The main theme of Cameron’s[1] essay on Batailleist
`powerful communication’ is not theory as such, but posttheory. In a sense, von
Ludwig[2] implies that we have to choose between
deconstructive appropriation and textual precultural theory. 
Any number of narratives concerning Batailleist `powerful communication’
exist. Thus, the primary theme of the works of Tarantino is the difference
between society and sexual identity. 
The subject is interpolated into a deconstructive appropriation that
includes language as a reality. In a sense, Debord suggests the use of
Batailleist `powerful communication’ to challenge sexism. 

2. Tarantino and the textual paradigm of expression

“Society is dead,” says Derrida. Many theories concerning not, in fact,
narrative, but subnarrative may be discovered. It could be said that
Baudrillard’s critique of Batailleist `powerful communication’ holds that
sexual identity, perhaps surprisingly, has objective value, given that the
premise of neomodernist objectivism is valid. 
“Class is part of the genre of truth,” says Lyotard; however, according to
Pickett[3] , it is not so much class that is part of the
genre of truth, but rather the stasis, and some would say the paradigm, of
class. The main theme of von Ludwig’s[4] essay on
Batailleist `powerful communication’ is the role of the writer as observer.
However, if the precapitalist paradigm of narrative holds, the works of Stone
are reminiscent of Koons. 
The characteristic theme of the works of Stone is the bridge between society
and class. Debord promotes the use of dialectic construction to analyse and
attack sexuality. But Sartre’s model of the postcultural paradigm of reality
suggests that consciousness is capable of significance. 
“Sexual identity is unattainable,” says Derrida. The subject is
contextualised into a deconstructive appropriation that includes narrativity as
a whole. However, Foucault suggests the use of dialectic construction to
deconstruct class divisions. 
Tilton[5] states that we have to choose between
constructive structuralism and postdialectic nihilism. Therefore, the subject
is interpolated into a Batailleist `powerful communication’ that includes truth
as a reality. 
An abundance of discourses concerning textual theory exist. But in
Natural Born Killers, Stone affirms dialectic construction; in Heaven
and Earth
, although, he denies deconstructive appropriation. 
Bataille promotes the use of Batailleist `powerful communication’ to analyse
society. Thus, many deappropriations concerning not materialism, but
prematerialism may be found. 
If dialectic construction holds, the works of Stone are modernistic. But
Foucault suggests the use of Batailleist `powerful communication’ to challenge
Any number of discourses concerning dialectic construction exist. However,
the main theme of Hamburger’s[6] critique of subcapitalist
semanticist theory is a mythopoetical whole. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

St. Martin Luther Holy Cards! In Time for Halloween!

St. Martin Luther,  Patron of Heretics and Anti-Popes

St. Martin Luther,
You saw the corruption in the Church,
and had the courage to speak out.
You recognized parts of the Bible that did not belong
and took them out
(even though your followers had to put
some of them back in).
You changed Holy Writ to make salvation
depend on "faith alone."
You tore the Christian West apart
and gave birth to 40,000 sects.
St. Martin Luther, Pray for Us.


Print your official St. Martin Luther Holy Card picture to the desired size on card stock, then print the prayer on the back of it. Optional: have it laminated at Staples.

Green Acres We are There

The Bear knows that Green Acres was coded by time travelers to tell us, here in the blighted 21st century, everything we need to know.

Oliver Douglas is a New York lawyer who fulfills a life-long dream to leave the big city and become a farmer. He drags his socialite wife Lisa to the bucolic setting of Hooterville, and they try to make a go of it. Ironically, it is the ditzy, game, unflappable Lisa who fits in, not the lawyer turned farmer, Oliver. Oliver has a romanticized idea of farming, and often breaks into little speeches about "the little green shoots," which no one wants to hear.

You see, everyone in Hooterville is one wheel short of a tractor.

The county extension agent can't finish a sentence without contradicting himself. An old couple treat a pig as a child. Twin carpenters can't even hang a door. (No matter how many appearances the carpenters make, the house is in the same incomplete state at the end of the series as at the beginning.)  The Douglases have to climb a pole to use the phone; connecting the last forty feet to the ramshackle farmhouse a seeming impossibility. A peddler always happens to show up with his dubious and overpriced wares just when Oliver happens to need something.

Oliver, the who who  wanted to come here, after all, spends his days in exasperation at the incompetence and sheer weirdness that only he seems to notice. Although Lisa misses her glamorous life in New York City, she fits right in with her gowns and signature marabou trimmed robe.

Hooterville is sort of a first-rate third-world country. It has everything we take for granted, except not quite. The loopy inhabitants have all found their niches and are happy. All except Oliver. The only sane man in a mad world.

The Bear bets you get this. He bets you are Oliver. He bets that you look around and are amazed at the insanity that has engulfed the West. Weirdest of all, you seem to be the only person that notices.

Is the Bear right? When a Muslim shouting Allahu Akbar rampages through Sam Drucker's general store and kills Uncle Joe, the sheriff solemnly announces he is "searching for motives."

Green Acres we are there.

Monday, September 19, 2016

New View of Hillary Collapse: Just. Wow.

WARNING: "London Has Fallen" Review

Die Muslim terrorist scum! I'm an American!

Loud, Violent, Implausible, and Entertaining

The Bear must take pen in paw at this late hour to warn all of his readers about a movie he has just watched. It is disgraceful, dangerous, and the Bear has no idea how it even got produced in this day and age. The Bear has already cancelled his Netflix subscription and sent a tartly worded email.

(Please do read his story about the Titanic, though. It means so much to an old Bear when people listen to his stories. If you're over 40, you'll know what he means. And the Bear is over 1300. Maybe leave a comment so the Bear will smile when he next checks in. Sniff.)

It seems silly to give a SPOILER warning for a movie like this, but, okay. Don't read if you're dim enough to be surprised by anything in a movie involving a terrorist attack on London. (Actually, there is one surprise, and a  big one, but it doesn't count. The Bear will get to it in a moment.) Trust the Bear. Everything is telegraphed.

The movie in question, as you already know from the headline, is "London Has Fallen," a 2016 film available on Netflix. "London Has Fallen" is a special-effects laden action thriller about a crippling terrorist attack on London during a Prime Minister's funeral. The target: all world leaders and some recognizable landmarks. 

The President of the United States and his trusty chief of security survive numerous attacks, including an impressive sequence involving Marine One, Two and Three. Eventually, they are alone in a London crawling with thousands of terrorists. From then on, it looks like a first-person shooter most of the time, but it's loud, violent and implausible. Perfect Bear entertainment. Best line: after the bodyguard stabs one of the Muslim terrorists, the President asks him if it was necessary. "Not really," is the answer. Yuck, yuck, huh? That is the level of dialogue throughout.

There's a good-looking brunette British secret agent that figures out who the mole is at the end. (The Bear had already solved this mystery the first time he saw a wide shot of British intelligence control center. When there's only one white male of any rank there, you kind of figure he's the guy.)  

Perpetuating Islamophobia

So much for the entertainment value, which is considerable, if dumb. So, Bear, what's so horrible about "London Has Fallen?"

The terrorists are Muslim. Swarthy, big-nosed, bearded, Arabic-speaking Muslims. All of them. They're not even some kind of front for Neo-Nazis, or a cabal of evil corporations. They are real Muslim terrorists. Now is not the time to be pushing harmful stereotypes about some supposed link between Islam and terrorism. Just to show the lengths to which the makers of this movie went, at one point one of the main Muslim terrorists actually threatens to cut off a Very Important Person's head with a sword. Live on the internet.

Granted the filmmakers threw out some moral window dressing as an afterthought. The Muslim terrorist mastermind's daughter was killed in a drone strike. One of his sons got his legs blown off in the same strike. (He can participate in the big attack only by working a laptop; and the President actually makes fun of this differently-abled Muslim terrorist!). So, yeah, the guy's got his reasons to turn London into Fallujah. Sure, you can kind of see his point, right?

Also, the main bad Muslim does not seem to be ideologically motivated at the beginning. He's just a guy who happens to be Muslim, who makes a nice living selling arms to perpetuate his profits. (Pope Francis had this exactly right.)

But other than that, every time a Muslim terrorist tries to draw some moral equivalence, some smart-aleck American slaps him down. Time and time again, the Bear would be nodding when one of the terrorists was justifying himself, only to be shocked by an American being very insensitive, and not admitting our own country's responsibility. Would it have killed them to have the President say, "Yes, Ahmed, I see you have a valid point. We are at least as guilty as you. Thank you. Before you cut my head off, could I make a brief statement about tolerance and the peacefulness of Islam?"

So, while entertaining, if you like this sort of movie, the message is Islamophobic to the extreme. Speaking of Islamophobic, the Bear must complain to somebody, because "Islamophobic" is not recognized as a word by the spell-check!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Best-Loved Passenger on the Titanic

1912, was a very bad year. And they kept getting worse, after that. 1911, on the other hand, held some personal satisfaction. But one minute you're on the bow of a luxury liner with Adele yelling "I'm on top of the world," and the next - you have a horrible enough time to make a ripping yarn of it.

The Bear assumes the Hagenbeck family needs no introduction. The Bear was performing in his animal act in Germany. Now at this time, animal acts in Europe were what is known as En Douceur. The Bear, would placidly create a tableaux with a beautiful woman languidly draped over him. That's it. (This was before he met Red Death, of course.) 

The Bear realized the girl (her name was Adele) was the star. The Bear just added a frisson of menace to what amounted to a high-toned girly show. He might as well have been stuffed. (In fact, call the Bear paranoid, but it was just a matter of time before Herr Hagenbeck realized he could save a lot on horse meat, although that is probably unfair to the old gentleman.) The Bear let Adele in on his little secret. 

Together, we planned a surprise for Herr Hagenbeck and the audience. One we figured would be far more entertaining.

And thus did the Bear and Adele introduce the act En Ferocit√©, which created first alarm, then a sensation in all the capitals of Europe. But there were other sensations, not so entertaining.

The German gunboat Panther docked in Morocco, causing the Agadir Crisis. Italy was at war with Turkey. Europe, as the Bear well knew, had always been a tinderbox, and the Bear seemed always to be the one to first get his fur singed. Of course, the Kaiser knew all about the Bear. The Bear had a feeling that if the zeppelin went up, the Bear would be pressed into doing who knows what. (Give a human a talking Bear and his imagination runs wild.)

In short, the Bear was a' sniffin' at the air, and smelled cordite.

Adele - somehow - had a sizable nest egg, and a determined Bear can always come up with a few marks. So we booked passage for the April sailing of the newest, fastest and safest ship of the Cunard line: the RMS Titanic. The Americans would love our act. (Needless to say, our relationship was nearly strictly professional.)

While the Bear languished below decks in a cage, Adele, on the strength of her sparkling personality, was making friends among the toffs. She did not forget her partner, fortunately, in light of subsequent events. It was not long before the Bear was receiving a steady stream of wealthy and famous passengers. He was quickly set free, and was undoubtedly the best-loved passenger on the Titanic. 

The best-loved passenger on the Titanic. The Bear thinks he has the title for his memoirs.

Of course you know the rest. The Bear has every reason to believe Adele made it into a lifeboat. (She was that kind of girl, bless her heart of gold.) Unfortunately, the Bear was also by far the biggest passenger on the Titanic, and he was not welcome in any of the lifeboats.

Why haven't you heard of this before? The Bear's voyage was eclipsed by bigger news, sadly.

It was the only time the Bear wished he were a dim-witted, seal-breathed, antifreeze-blooded polar Bear instead of a magnificent ursus arctos. Fortunately, there happened to be a large iceberg close by that he was able to reach before succumbing to the cold. However, whatever the thermal opposite of "out of the frying pan and into the fire" is, that was where he was.

As luck would have it, shortly after sunrise, the Bear spotted a small, odd ship, low in the water. The Bear stood on his hind legs and began waving his arms; dancing; goose-stepping back and forth; whatever he could think of to communicate that he was a sentient being in need of assistance. Finally, he dove into the cold water and swam toward the odd vessel, crying "Help me!" in several languages.

After deciding not to shoot the mad beast who was treading water off the starboard bow, yelling that he was a German citizen whose rescue was required by the law of the sea (he did not know this, but it sounded plausible) they brought him aboard Unterseeboot U 2 of the Kaiserliche Marine. (You had me at the goose-stepping, probably.)

The Bear got as far as the deck, there being no way for him to fit through the hatches of the ridiculous vessel. The captain saw to it that the Bear was as comfortable as possible, but he had a miserable voyage back to Germany. Someone let slip that the entire thing could sail underwater, which, at that time, the Bear thought was a joke.

And if it wasn't a joke, the Bear thought, it would never catch on. 

And that is how the Bear survived the sinking of the Titanic, and was rescued by an experimental German U boat, on a training voyage shadowing the British luxury liner. And found himself in Germany at the outbreak of WWI. (His adventures would result in being awarded the Iron Cross, Second Class, as well as the Hero of the Bolshevik Revolution, as related elsewhere. Now, considering the Bear practically won the war on the Eastern Front for Germany single-pawedly, he asks the reader: Iron Cross Second Class?  Seriously?)

The Bear is certain there is a point to this more than irony. He supposes it is that, like Jonah, you cannot sail away from your fate. Also, there is a time for even a Bear to be En Douceur, but especially to exhibit a completely unexpected talent.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

If You Die Laughing, Hope You're In a State of Grace

(h/t Terry via Freerepublic, which has more, but FR will claim unhealthy amounts of your time.)

Amazon Review for Hillary's Book

I was going to read this book... I really was. But just as I got started, I found myself under sniper fire, and fell and hit my head. After that, I got double vision and had to were glasses that were so damn thick I couldn't even see to read. Then I had an allergic reaction to something and starting coughing so hard I spit out what looked like a couple of lizard eyeballs, my limbs locked up and I passed out and fell down again, waking up only to find out that I had been diagnosed with pneumonia 2 days earlier. Somehow, I managed to power through it all, but it's a good thing I was able to make a small fortune on this random small trade in the commodities market (cattle futures or some such thing) and then, miracle of all miracles, a few banks offered me a few million to just talk their employees for a few minutes - and all that really helped out because I swear I was dead broke and couldn't figure how I was going to come up with the 6 bucks to pay for this book, let alone pay for the $1,500 for my health insurance this month. I still want to read it, but, honestly, what difference at this point does it make? I hear it sucks anyway.

Top Customer Reviews

on September 14, 2016
Format: Paperback

Friday, September 16, 2016

Rudolph Allers: Difficulties in Life

Just a book note. As the work on Judging Angels is winding to a close, the Bear is actually do a little reading. He has started on a book commenter "J" kindly gave him a the enormous St. Louis Area Catholic Blogger Convention. (Unfortunately, we forgot to invite any other ephemerists, but had a delightful time between us and our ladies.)

Rudolph Allers "Difficulties in Life" is being experienced first of all, as a good, wonderfully ancient, hardbound, book, still with its jacket, with the aroma of authenticity (literally). Allers was Catholic, and one of Freud's original group, who eventually parted ways. He was a mentor of Hans urs von Balthasar.

So far, all the Bear has read about is how children have an intuition about people that adults have lost, except when it comes to others' flaws. The Bear will say more about the book when he is finished with it.

The last time you met von Balthasar on this ephemeris was in connection with the curious photo of St. John Paul II with Valentin Tomberg's Meditations on the Tarot sitting on his desk. von Balthasar had written a forward / afterward (depending on edition).  (You can use the search function to find two articles on this.) von Balthasar remains controversial, because he seemed to cautiously advance things like Universalism, mostly with plausible deniability. His view of Christ's descent into Hell departs from traditional Catholic understanding.

von Balthasar was much influenced by a woman who converted to Catholicism at 38, Adrienne von Speyr. The Bear would call what she did "channeling," but admits to not having read any of her enormous volume of writing. In any case, the theologian was a favorite with both JPII (who selected him for Cardinal) and B16.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Why Catholic Frogs Starve to Death Surrounded by Food

Starving Surrounded by Food: a Frog

A frog will starve to death even if it is surrounded by food, provided only that it the food is not moving. By the same token, it will starve to death if you feed it bits of non-food, so long as it is the same size as an insect, and moving.

Frogs are not stupid. They are just really good at catching what is food - outside of a laboratory, anyway. Frogs see only one thing at a time, and, moreover, the exact thing they are looking for.

A  Trip to the Chicago Art Institute

If our frog went to the Art Institute of Chicago, he would see nothing, unless there were some joke-art mobile made out of dead bugs on tiny wires. Then he would see a buffet.

However, a human might suffer the same problem. Perhaps he has heard about the famous La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat. Looking down at his booklet, he nearly runs into the painting. He looks up, nose nearly pressed agains the canvass, and his anticipation turns to disappointment All he sees are a bunch of meaningless dots. He looks at one dot, then another, and spends the whole day standing there trying to divine what the dots mean.

He is in the exact same position as the frog. He might as well be blind, staring at motionless dots that mean nothing to him.

As the museum guards finally drag him away, he cries out for them to stop. Now he gets it! This is what he sees:

La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat

Seurat used a technique called "Pointillism." Countless brush-tip points make up a picture.

Every Murder Tells a Story

Criminal trial lawyers also paint pictures using discrete bits of evidence. If you were to jumble up all the physical evidence and testimony from a murder trial, it would mean nothing. But during a trial, each side organizes it and interprets it to tell the most plausible story favoring its case. To change metaphors, they tell a story. 

To put it yet another way, a lawyer might tell the jury in his opening statement that he is going to spend the next twenty minutes showing them what the pieces of the puzzle will look like at the end of the trial. He might say he is going to show them the picture on the box of the jigsaw puzzle. (This is a favorite analogy.)

How to Put Together a Jigsaw Puzzle

A good jigsaw-puzzle putter-together knows to look at the pieces sort of all together, not to focus on each piece. You look. You wait. Then, suddenly, a piece will jump out at you. Eventually, you have the whole picture. Yes, it was put together piece-by-piece, but the pieces are not as important as the whole. And the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Someone who jumps horses over obstacles for fun uses "soft eyes." Someone who lands an airplane on a runway uses "soft eyes," too. At least the Bear, who has done these things, did. It means you don't focus on details, but take it all in. It is also relaxing.

Bear Gestalt

You now know how food looks to a frog, and how the Church looks to the Bear. While everyone else is focussing on  Canon 915, or parsing "who am I to judge?" and describing the day's new dot from the Vatican, the Bear is standing back, looking at the whole picture. The whole story. He sees it like a Bear. Like a trial lawyer. Like a storyteller. The Bear happens to think these are excellent things to be if you are trying to understand complex situations. Gestalt, as it were.

Of course, there is a place for those who can learnedly write on Canon 915. But this is not the Bear's way. 

When the Bear writes that he sees the Church being repurposed according to the ways of the world, it's because, without a shadow of a doubt, it is. He is not just looking at the Church, but also the world, and correlations emerge; the dots are connected. The world is in the habit of making certain mistakes. Church leaders are now in the habit of officially making the very same mistakes. Therefore, both are animated by the exact same spirit. The West is failing. The Church is failing; not in some different way, but in the exact same way as every other institution.

The Bear could write a book about the dots; about the dead bugs in front of the starving frog, but the truth would be no less unmistakeable. The Bear knows that if you don't see it when the Bear describes it, no amount of dead bugs are going to make you.

Catholics Must Fear Error and Lies, Not Facts

And one last thing. The Church - we - cannot fear facts. If it must, then it is not the Church. That is why the Bear does not worry about saying anything about the Church, as long as it is true. Indeed, the Church - we Catholics - need only fear lies and error. And we need fear and expose those who tolerate them and promote them. Nobody is one of the good guys because of the title he has been given. Nobody is one of the bad guys because he or she lacks a title. Truth remains truth whether it fits in with your understanding of what you should believe or not.

Featured Post

Judging Angels Chapter 1 Read by Author

Quick commercial for free, no-strings-attached gift of a professionally produced audio book of Judging Angels, Chapter 1: Last Things, read...