Downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983

Downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983
STMcC in downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983

Monday, April 24, 2017

"REAL WOMAN" Defined

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THE PRIVILEGE OF BEING A WOMAN
by Alice von Hildebrand
published: 2002
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In a recent E-mail exchange with a 43-year-old female friend of mine living on the East Coast, I asked her to give me her definitions of the terms "Real Man" and "Real Woman". She replied with a beautiful little one-sentence definition of a "Real Man", but then followed that up with this: "A real woman? That's easy: a girl who rides a motorcycle in a skirt." I can't even begin to describe the depth of my disappointment in that definition, coming as it does from a generally spiritually-minded woman. But then I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised seeing as how she (and every other female of her generation) has been exposed to 40 years of Feminist indoctrination. I thought how sad it was that she -- a woman herself -- seemed to have even less understanding of what makes a "Real Woman" than I had, and here I -- being a man -- am a supposedly insensitive brute of a thing ("a bear with furniture" to quote the very funny comedienne, Elaine Boozler).

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This only goes to emphasize the point that those extremist social engineers we call "Feminists" have been so effective in twisting and confusing the minds of the vast majority of the female gender that even "spiritual" women no longer recognize what they are and what they are supposed to do in support of the human society (as dictated by their Creator, The Lord God).
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I do not read anything without having a yellow (yellow ONLY!) highlighter nearby. I highlight favorite sentences and passages in EVERYTHING I read, that includes fiction and even magazines. 'THE PRIVILEGE OF BEING A WOMAN' by Catholic writer and thinker Alice von Hildebrand is, at only 108 pages, not much more than a booklet, but don't let that fool you into thinking that she doesn't have much to say about the privileges of being a woman: my copy of her book is thoroughly filled with yellow highlighted sections. In fact, there are so many penetrating insights packed into each page that I have rarely highlighted so many sentences per page in any book other than The Holy Bible!

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When I first read 'THE PRIVILEGE OF BEING A WOMAN', I was blown away by how much of great value Hildebrand had to say on the subject. (And I finished the book sort of feeling that I had been cheated by being born "a bear with furniture".) Hildebrand dedicated her excellent book "WITH LOVING GRATITUDE TO MY DEAR FRIENDS WHO ALL LOVE TO BE WOMEN." Following is just a very small sampling of the many profound and extraordinary observations Hildebrand shares with us about the privileges of being a woman:
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* As sanctity is devalued in [Socialistic feminist, Simone de Beauvoir's] eyes (as a poor substitute for great achievements), the highest praise that can be given anyone, male or female -- namely holiness -- is, to her mind, only a left-handed compliment. ... What characterizes holiness is this limitless readiness to serve others. [pages 6 & 32]
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* Yet it seems evident that even in the face of their physical vulnerability, given their greater sensitivity, their more subtle intuitions, their talent for feeling themselves into others, women have greater possibilities of uplifting or of hurting others than those usually granted to the opposite sex. [page 9]
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* The feminists acknowledge the superiority of the male sex by wishing to become like men. [page 10]
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* The denigration of women is clearly a sad consequence of original sin which has subverted the hierarchy of values. ... Original sin was a sin of pride, of disobedience, of irreverence, and of metaphysical revolt that led to an inversion of the hierarchy of values. ... As women are weaker than men, and as they do not bask in the limelight as much as men do, as they are less "creative" than the strong sex, they are bound to be the victims of this distorted hierarchy of values. ... but that feminists have endorsed this inversion is still more pitiful. Imprisoned in the spiritual jail of secular categories, they fail to understand that their true mission is to swim against the tide and, with God's grace, help restore the proper hierarchy of values. By living up to their calling, women will succeed in guaranteeing a proper recognition of the unique value of femininity and its crucial mission in the world. ... The "weakness" of the female sex, as far as accomplishments and productivity are concerned, can be more than compensated by her moral strength when she lives up to her calling. ... But feminists -- blinded by secularism -- do what, in fact, will lead to a worsening of women's situation. Feminists are women's great enemy. [pages 21, 26 & 29]
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* Nietzsche perceived clearly that the emancipation of women is a symptom that their feminine instincts are weakening. ... The whole tragedy of contemporary feminism -- which Cardinal Josef Ratzinger [now the Pope] considers one of the greatest threats menacing the Church -- stems from a lack of faith and a loss of the sense of the supernatural. Feminism is inconceivable in a world rooted in Judeo-Christian values. ... The new age philosophy of feminism, in waging war on femininity, is in fact waging war on Christianity. For in the Divine plan both are intimately linked. Not Socialism, as Simone de Beauvoir believed, but Christ is the great ally of women. Modern ideology wages war on the Gospel which teaches humility and that those who lower themselves will be exalted. [pages 30 & 32]

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[Speaking of humility, let's not forget that Jesus Christ said that He "did not come to be served, but to serve." (Matthew 20:28) And after all is said and done, who would you prefer to be remembered in this world as being most like, Bill Clinton and Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Mother Teresa and even Jesus Christ Himself? ~STMcC]
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* Here is a truth worth meditating upon: Women are more geared to piety because they have a keener awareness of their weaknesses. This is their true strength. [page 66]

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[And let's not forget that Saint Paul was directly told by Jesus Christ that his strength would be "made perfect in weakness". See 2 Corinthians 12:9. ~STMcC]
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* (Regarding the context of women and childbirth, the great Christian commentator G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936) writes...) "No one staring at that frightful female privilege, can quite believe in the equality of the sexes." [page 87]
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And in keeping with the spirit of that observation, I am about to reveal one of my secret inner beliefs; something that I -- until now -- have never told a single person, but a thought that I have entertained in my heart and mind for many years. This is an exclusive!:
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It seems to me that if all of the world's masterpieces of art, and all of its most uplifting and poetic writings, and all of its most emotionally moving musical compositions were gathered together in one place, they would still not come close to equalling the beauty in the simple God-created concept of a mother feeding her baby from her own body. Maybe you wouldn't expect such a thought coming from an "old school" man like myself, but there it is! That's what I really think. And the world's most supreme beauty is something that I, being a male, will never experience! (Now, try to imagine the revulsion I felt during that disgusting scene in that disgusting movie, 'Million Dollar Baby', when Clint Eastwood tells his female boxer, "I want you to jab, right in the tits, until they turn blue and fall off." Phuq Clint Eastwood and the horse he rode in on!)
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Never having been a Catholic, the only aspect of this book that I have less than glowing comments for are its few (and I do mean "few") instances of Catholic dogma with which I do not concur. But these are rare occurrences and are easily overlooked. In light of the Spiritually deep and worldview-altering insights that Alice von Hildebrand shares with us, lowering this publication's 5-Star grade because of them would be an irresponsible act.
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It seems that God never intended me to marry and become the head of a family. One problem was that -- in this feminist-dominated era -- I could not find "Real Women" potential mates. One great, notable exception was (my ex-girlfriend) "The Countess", a Real Woman for sure! But evidently marriage was just never in the cards that God dealt to us.

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At nearly 47, a "family" is now out of the question for me. But if I'd had any children, I would have insisted that they read and display a comprehensive understanding of 'THE PRIVILEGE OF BEING A WOMAN' by Alice von Hildebrand. And I don't mean that just my girls would have had to read it; it would have been on the REQUIRED READING list for my boys as well. Why? Because once a male has understood the awesome privilege and responsibility that God has entrusted to the female gender, he would thereafter be perfectly incapable of physically or sexually abusing or mistreating women in any way!
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I now urge you to read 'THE PRIVILEGE OF BEING A WOMAN' and then pass it on to your own daughters (and sons) before "Real Women" become an even greater rarity in our culture than "Honest Politicians". And as it stands right now, I'd call that one a draw.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Sunday, April 16, 2017

AND EAT YOUR SPINACH, TOO!

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(For the life o' me I can't figure out why I feel inspired to post THIS review TODAY, but much of my life is lived in a stream o' consciousness way. ;o)
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WHO MOVED THE STONE?
A Skeptic Looks At The Death And Resurrection Of Christ
by Frank Morison
published: 1930

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While I am not a "Christian" according to the fullness of the contemporary orthodox definition of that word, I unhesitatingly acknowledge that Yeshua (Jesus) is my Holy King and personal Sinless Savior, and I am well past ANY doubt that The Bible was Divinely inspired -- although certainly not entirely inerrant as "Born Again" Christians somehow insist. I don't exactly recall when or why I came into possession of 'WHO MOVED THE STONE?' but finding it in my "To-Be-Read" Bookcase, and knowing it is considered one of the true classics in Christian apologetics, written by a former skeptic, I read it with interest.
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I appreciated the powerful reasoning ability that Frank Morison brought to the Scriptures and how he -- much like I tend to do -- dissected passages, examining every word for nuance and hidden meaning. A couple of reviewers have complained that Morison uses only the Bible itself to prove the historicity of the Gospel accounts of the Resurrection of Christ. Though this is not wholly true (he occasionally references extra-Biblical sources such as the Apocrypha and the Jewish historian, Josephus), I think that the thrust of his argument is that the New Testament "books" contain many internal proofs of their authenticity. I agree! Even so, one reviewer at Amazon.com wrote, "Though this is an interesting study, this is not a book for newcomers." And I agree with him also (we'll come back to this point later).
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My personal definition of a 3-Star book is: "Worthwhile though notably flawed." In what way is 'WHO MOVED THE STONE?' notably flawed? The book was originally published in 1930 and Morison's writing exhibits the more formal style (read: "stiff") of his times. It's nothing like trying to read Shakespeare, yet be prepared for words like "hitherto" and "hardihood", and phrases such as "wrought to the extremest pitch of anguish" and "ever memorable in human history." These are small prices to pay for the meaning that his careful analysis sometimes wrings from the Scriptures.
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Still, I feel that some of his conclusions are highly arguable -- being based on tortured suppositions -- and I even disagree with one or two basic assumptions (e.g., on page 37 Morison states that at The Last Supper, Judas knew that the Spirit of Jesus was "already bending to the Cross". I am not the only person who believes that Judas recognized Jesus as the true Messiah but didn't recognize the Messiah's true mission. Judas meant to force Jesus into a position where He would have to assert Himself and violently defend his Kingship. Judas was caught by surprise when Jesus went to the Cross rather than fighting for the Crown, thus the "traitor's" remorse that drove him to suicide in Matthew 27). But one doesn't need to agree with every point in a book for it to be well worth the reading.
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I particularly enjoyed Morison noting that it would actually have been strange "if the band of mourners had not been predominantly women". It makes perfect sense these being "the mothers of His men and the woman whose life His influence had utterly transfigured" and that they were in possession of "the mighty and unchanging instincts of the human heart, especially the feminine heart."
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And chapter 12 which takes a good hard look at the motivating factors that drove Saul / Paul, "the man from Tarsus", from being "the outstanding figure on one side of the controversy" to becoming "the outstanding figure on the other" was very well conceived and executed. Morison even observes that Paul believed that Jesus would return in glory to the earth during Paul's own lifetime. This gets overlooked by so many Bible students. There's reason to suspect that John also misperceived the timing of the "Second Coming". Peter, it seems, was the only apostle who clearly understood that the return of Jesus was two thousand years in the future (see 2nd Peter:3).
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Overall, 'WHO MOVED THE STONE' is a valuable lesson in deductive reasoning, and reading it would help train anyone's mind in the way that he or she should undertake a serious study of Scripture. (I'm always surprised when supposedly earnest Bible students give me that blank stare when I mention that there are verses in the Bible that indicate Jesus had the ability to materialize and dematerialize at will PRIOR to the Crucifixion and Resurrection! Aren't they THINKING about what they're reading?)
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If that "Still, Small Voice" inside is telling you to acquire this book and read it now, I am the last person who would attempt to dissuade you from doing so. But I will also point out that if you are new to Scripture study and simply looking for something to get you started and to give you confidence in the reliability of the Bible, there are probably better points of entry. If you want something very brief but potent, I would first recommend the booklet MORE THAN A CARPENTER by Josh McDowell. If you want something more extensive, then go with LEARN THE BIBLE IN 24 HOURS by Chuck Missler. But either way, I would suggest that you EVENTUALLY make time to examine what Frank Morison has to say here, and make double certain that someday you also investigate the book MERE CHRISTIANITY by the brilliant C.S. Lewis. (For the particularly intellectually-minded skeptics, there is no substitution for EVIDENCE FOR FAITH: Deciding The God Question edited by John Warwick Montgomery.)
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As Pope Yoey O'Dogherty VII wrote in his second papal bull, "È necessario leggere tutto il libro di Frank Morison e mangiare il vostro spinaci. Essi sono un bene per voi." I've been told that this translates to, "You must read the whole book by Frank Morison and eat your spinach. They are good for you."
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

“FANTABULOUS!”

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LIVE AT MONTREUX -- 1980 / 1974
Van Morrison
released: 2006
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In a sense, VAN MORRISON has figured prominently in my life and in fact, in an indirect way, he saved me from a life of great regret...
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I was a huge fan of VAN THE MAN in 1986, and one day I returned home practically giddy from having just located what was at that time a few hard-to-find Van Morrison vinyl LPs. As fate would have it, just as I got out of my car, with my new used albums tucked under one arm, Andy, a loyal old friend of mine pulled up to the curb in his battered old pickup truck. Andy and I’d had something of a falling-out over some inconsequential issue and we hadn’t seen or spoken to each other for some time.

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But I was in such a good mood, having just acquired long sought after Morrison music, that in that very moment, I buried the past, forgave Andy for whatever slight I’d been holding against him, and I greeted him as the true friend of fifteen years he really was. We spoke briefly and then parted as the good pals we’d always been. That was the last time I saw Andy -– truly one of the greatest friends I have ever had. Not long afterwards, I learned of his suicide in California City.
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Many times in the subsequent years, I’ve revisited that day in my mind and shuddered to think, “What if I hadn’t just found those Van Morrison records, and hadn’t been in such a magnanimous mood? What if, instead, I had given Andy the cold shoulder? Treated him like a dog? How would I have ever lived with that last memory and the tremendous remorse I would have carried with me all these years?” Fortunately, I haven’t had to beat myself up over a regrettable event that might have occurred twenty-one years ago. In a way, I owe the music of Van Morrison much gratitude for changing my life in an unexpected way!
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This last Christmas, I received the DVD VAN MORRISON LIVE AT MONTREUX 1980/1974 from my friend, Kevin, “The Kansas Kid.” Perhaps you’ve heard of him? He’s currently wanted in seven states for crimes ranging from bank robbery and train robbery to shooting innocent zoo animals... with a camera. Kevin’s a good buddy and he knows how to please ol’ Stephen T. If you, too, are a fan of Van The Man's music, this selection is a real no-brainer -- you can buy with total confidence.
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I’ve seen Van perform live at least four times in my life. When he’s in the mood, he’s a compelling entertainer. At the Montreux Jazz Festival, he was definitely in the mood, and his band –- as always –- consisted of nothing less than the finest musicians. You know Van, if a musician can’t please the man, they’re out on their can!

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Both discs in this set are excellent, but whereas the June 30, 1974 performance is shorter and more Blues dominated, I prefer the July 19, 1980 show. It contains some of Van’s more extended Jazzy pieces which are rarely, if ever, played live anymore -– particularly those long, meditative works from his underrated COMMON ONE release. Van’s looking pretty trim here (you know, for Van, I mean), and we get to see him with his outrageously talented horn men, Pee Wee Ellis (tenor sax) and Mark Isham (trumpet).
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Some of the performance highlights for me include:
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TROUBADOURS – I always considered this to be one of the lesser tracks on what is easily one of Van’s greatest sets, INTO THE MUSIC. But here, Isham and Ellis are blowing as if to save their lives, and when the audience broke into applause at its conclusion, I very nearly did the same thing right in my own living room!
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During the intro to SPIRIT, John Allair locks into such a spirited, funky groove that he can’t remain seated at the organ -– the music itself demands that he stand!
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SUMMERTIME IN ENGLAND – The song moves from a meditation to unrestrained exuberance, where Pee Wee nearly blows the roof off the place, until the song downshifts back into a meditation just prior to launching into a “fantabulous” rendition of Morrison’s MOONDANCE masterpiece.
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HAUNTS OF ANCIENT PEACE – This gives us a tremendously soulful solo from Pee Wee.
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There’s a wonderful little moment early on in this ultimate version of TUPELO HONEY, where Isham and Ellis simultaneously play their respective horn parts, and then as they back away from their mics, they glance at each other and exchange self-satisfied smiles. Here are two fine musicians in their prime and immersed in the joy of their art. There’s no competition; there’s no race (even though Isham is White and Ellis is Black); there’s no time; there’s just this *NOW* and the knowledge that supreme artists are combining their talents in the act of creating something very beautiful!
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On the downside, despite the quality of musicianship, LISTEN TO THE LION never comes close to matching the studio version from the SAINT DOMINIC'S PREVIEW album, but then how could it? That is one of the most introspective and intense pieces of music ever recorded. Morrison could tap that depth only once. (His version on 1973’s IT’S TOO LATE TO STOP NOW –- unquestionably one of the greatest live albums ever released -– never came close either. Saint Dominic’s LISTEN TO THE LION was just too roaringly glorious to ever be replicated even by Van, the man himself. That was a once-in-a-lifetime performance!) But when Van sings, “I believe I’ve transcended myself, child” in the encore, ANGELOU, for a minute there, it almost seems as if indeed he has!
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WHY do I think this live concert DVD is so good? Well, sure I could talk about the various camera angles, the clear picture, the crisp sound. I could explain why Pee Wee Ellis is a saxgod. I could discuss in greater detail the top-notch, eight-piece band and the Jazz explorations of one of the world’s great songwriters and his Irish muse. Or I could simply quote from one of his own songs:

It ain’t why, why, why.
It ain’t why, why, why.
It ain’t why, why, why.
It just IS!
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Hopefully you have learned two things from this review of mine:
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1) You can purchase VAN MORRISON LIVE AT MONTREUX 1980/1974 with complete assurance that as a Morrison fan (or just a person who appreciates exceptional musicianship) your money will be well spent. And...
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2) You should always treat your loved ones very good because you just never know when you are seeing them for the... very... last... time.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy

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Monday, April 10, 2017

EXAMINES EVERY FACET OF THE DIAMOND

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THE BASEBALL FAN'S COMPANION:
How To Watch The Game Like An Expert
by Nick Bakalar
published: 1996
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OK, I've got good news and bad news.
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THE BAD NEWS: I read Nick Bakalar's book, 'THE BASEBALL FAN'S COMPANION' in its entirety and only encountered a couple of things about baseball that I didn't already know.
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THE GOOD NEWS: I'm forty-six years old, I've spent my entire life watching, following and playing baseball. I have a lifetime's worth of baseball knowledge crammed into my grey bean and this book covered all of the information that it took me over four decades of devotion to baseball to acquire. So what I'm really saying here is that if you are new to baseball and want to gain a full understanding of how the game is played and the strategies that are employed by managers and players in an attempt to score at least one more run than their opponent does, then this book is all ya really need.
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Some people claim that BASEBALL IS LIFE. I won't go that far, but I will say that baseball is far and away my favorite sport (followed by football and then chess. And if you don't think chess is a sport it's only because you've never sat across a board from me. Chess is not only a sport, but I prove it to be a CONTACT sport!)
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When my Pa married my Ma, he didn't know much about baseball, after all, Los Angeles was football territory and professional baseball didn't reach that city until 1958, the year my parents tied the knot and the same year that the Dodgers moved West. My Ma was already a baseball junkie coming from Cincinnati where she'd dated a couple of the Reds players at different times and followed the team almost like a religion.

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When the Dodgers followed my Ma West to L.A., she took a job with the organization. While Dodger stadium was still under construction, she was told to go down on her lunch break and select her seats if she wanted to purchase season tickets. Being a very smart woman, she went down and chose the two best seats in the stadium. (No, I'm not kidding.) Subsequently, my Bro, my Sis and I all literally grew up at Dodger stadium, raised on Dodger Dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jacks.
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I have photos hanging on the walls of my house that show me hanging out with the likes of Sandy Koufax, Duke Snider, Jim Gilliam, and Dick Bass, etc. (If yer a real sports fan you know that the last name belongs to a famous Rams running back, not a baseball player.)
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Even when our family was fairly poor in later years, with financial help from my Grandpa, we still managed to keep the season tickets and now my Aunt Jane owns them. I'm telling you all this only so you will appreciate the fact that baseball has really been a very significant part of this reviewer's life. I KNOW THE GAME! And if you want to know the game as well as I do, all ya gotzta do is read 'THE BASEBALL FAN'S COMPANION'.
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Nick Bakalar does a fine job in explaining the sport and examining all of its nuances; everything from the art of pitching, defensive positioning, hitting, and even the largely misunderstood science of baserunning / basestealing -- this is where even many serious fans fall short in their understanding. In other words, Bakalar's "got all of the bases covered." (Sorry, sometimes I can't help myself.) He explores the thinking of pitchers, hitters, position players, managers and even umpires, which he claims "are people, too" (although he didn't prove that to this reader's satisfaction). And Bakalar does it all with clarity, humor, and an obvious passion for the game.
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If you've been sitting there watching a baseball game and thinking that it's slow and boring because nothing seems to be happening, it's only in your mind where nothing's happening. You simply haven't grasped the game yet. As my friend, Rick Bass (son of Dick Bass), who played professionally says, "There's ALWAYS something happening in baseball!"

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This book will get your head in the game. I won't say it's a home run; I'll say he's hit the ball into the gap for a three-bagger, only because I take exception to his analysis comparing Dave Kingman with Tony Gwynn. (Gimme Gwynn any day! Bakalar didn't factor in where the two hit in the order: Kingman's job was to drive 'em in; Gwynn's was to be on base to BE driven in. Which one completed his assignment most often, and what was the quality of the players surrounding them?) And in his fun chapter, 'CHATTER: How They Talk Baseball And How You Can Too' (which will have you speaking "Baseball lingo" as well as I do in no-time flat) he missed one of the most obvious: A "Twin Killing" means a double play.
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Ladies, are you sick and tired of hearing your husband say, "Not now, honey. It's the bottom of the tenth with two outs, a full count, the winning run in scoring position, the closer is wild and the cleanup hitter's in the box" and wondering what in the world he's talking about? Then get 'THE BASEBALL FAN'S COMPANION'. The next time you'll be able to answer your husband with, "When he strikes out chasing the high cheese, come here and give me a hand" and yer couch potato hubby's gonna fall right outta the cushion's indentation.
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I need to close this review with one of my favorite baseball stories (not included in Bakalar's book) about Ted Williams -- in my opinion, the greatest hitter who ever lived:
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There was a young pitcher new to the major leagues. He was facing a batter by the name of Ted Williams. "Ball three", said the umpire; and the pitcher walked halfway to the plate and screamed, "What was wrong with that pitch?!" The umpire dusted off the plate without answering. The young, frustrated pitcher wound up and threw; Williams whacked the ball and it flew over the Fenway Park fence for a home run. The umpire walked out toward the pitcher and said to the rookie, "You see, son, when you throw a strike, you don't have to look to me; Mr. Williams will let you know."

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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Atheists, Be Afraid. Be VERY AFRAID!

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THE RESURRECTION OF THE SHROUD:
New Scientific, Medical And Archeological Evidence

by Mark Antonacci
published: 2000
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Five Stars? Oh! You'd better believe it!
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Some previous reviewers have done a very admirable job in extolling this "WONDER-FULL" book. I merely wish to add my voice to the chorus singing its praises.
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THE SHROUD OF TURIN is an ancient burial cloth containing the mysterious image of a Man who had evidently been crucified -- believed by many to be Jesus Christ. The internationally renowned Peruvian poet, Yoey O'Dogherty, once wrote, "Nothing astounds like Truth." And the truth that has made The Shroud the most studied and least understood artifact on planet Earth is astounding indeed!
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About 4 years ago, I happened to catch the author, MARK ANTONACCI, being interviewed on a radio program and found his statements so interesting that I went right out and acquired a copy of his book 'THE RESURRECTION OF THE SHROUD'. From a young age, I had been intrigued by the implications of the Shroud although my knowledge was limited. Like countless millions of other people, when the 1988 Carbon-14 dating test results were announced, "proving" the Shroud to be a hoax conceived between 1260 and 1390 A.D., I thought, "Well, so it goes." Of course, I've learned A LOT about human nature and some so-called "scientists" since then. I'm not so gullible anymore, and after reading 'THE RESURRECTION OF THE SHROUD' I'm more intrigued than ever by this extraordinary treasure!
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In the preface, the former agnostic, Mark Antonacci, relates how he was somewhat mysteriously goaded into investigating the Shroud, and how in pacing his apartment, reluctantly pondering some of its unfathomable anomalies, it suddenly hit him in midstep: "If all of the possible implications from the scientific examination were true, it would not be bad news -- it would be good news."
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Give Antonacci plenty of credit for having been an intellectually honest skeptic, unlike the flapjack who wrote the Kirkus review. That writer says that 'THE RESURRECTION OF THE SHROUD' "is unlikely to win any converts among empirical-minded skeptics." BALDERDASH! That is EXACTLY the sort of person who will be knocked for a loop by this great book! Actually, it is the intellectually dishonest (scared out of his wits) individual who will not permit himself to be converted, who will dismiss it. I know there are willfully ignorant people out there, but you'd hope that they could at least be a bit more imaginative and less blatant in their efforts to mislead others with their bias.
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True, the book explores some fairly heavy scientific principles, but necessarily so. Unless the reader understands the science behind it, he or she will fail to appreciate the incomprehensible attributes of the Shroud. But if it makes you feel any better, I can tell you with perfect honesty that I'm one of the least mathematically and scientifically-minded people on God's green earth! I must be operating from the "left field" side of the brain, or something. And if I could follow the science, so will you. I found the information unspeakably fascinating because of its portent.
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Once you've grasped the complexity of it, you'll understand why John Walsh has written, "The Shroud of Turin is either the most awesome and instructive relic of Jesus Christ in existence... or it is one of the most ingenious, most unbelievably clever products of the human mind and hand on record. It is one or the other; there is no middle ground." And how the respected scientist John Heller could claim that, "If you were to give me a budget of ten million dollars and told me to make a replica of it [the Shroud]... I would not know how to do it."
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You'll learn why the faction that wants us to believe that the Shroud (which displays many anomalies that contemporary science can't even explain) is the handiwork of a medieval artist doesn't have a leg to stand on. And why the Carbon-14 dating procedure, which supposedly put the final nail in the Shroud's coffin, was unreliable to say the least!
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Antonacci's book examines the Shroud from every conceivable angle, including the very possible and enlightening connection between It and the Mandylion -- gee whillikers! (Oops. Is one still allowed to say, "gee whillikers" in 2005?) It left this reader thoroughly mesmerized. Buy the book and be amazed. Be VERY AMAZED!
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I could go on all day about this book, but I'm going to pack it in here. I gotta go find that deceptive Kirkus reviewer now and take him out to the woodshed. (Oh, come on, I'm only kidding! I know that God wouldn't approve of that. ...Or would He? Doesn't The Bible say, "Spare the rod, spoil the Kirkus reviewer"?)
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

JUST SAY, "NO!"

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ALIEN AGENDA
by Jim Marrs
published: 1997
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Let's begin with the obvious: Somehow you just have to like a book about flying saucers and aliens written by a man named MARRS (even if these creepy dudes aren't really originating from distant planets -- as I'm convinced they aren't). I've just read ALIEN AGENDA for the second time, and if a more thorough overview of the UFO phenomenon (along with all of its auxiliary mysteries such as abductions, crop circles, & cattle mutilations) has been published, then I'm unaware of it.
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The book opens with a bang as Marrs (correctly) states, "The controversy over the existence of UFOs is over. UFOs are real." The only people who would contend with that are those who have not objectively studied the subject in depth, and those who are too frightened to admit the obvious. I am dismayed by a few of my fellow reviewers who decry a lack of evidence to support the UFO "concept." If they were expecting a UFO to emerge from between the pages when they first cracked this book open, then it is no wonder they were disappointed.
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ALIEN AGENDA documents the testimony of innumerable individuals who claim to have observed incomprehensible, unearthly flying objects. Some of these well-respected, rational people include an astronaut, doctor, fighter pilot, archbishop, police chief, aircraft design company employee, Air Force lieutenant, deputy federal marshal, Franciscan nun, Air Force major, radar operator, brigadier general, county sheriff, geologist, physicist, chemist, petroleum engineer, secretary of the Navy, Navy photographer, senator, astronomer, lieutenant colonel, civil defense director, military intelligence officer, and a priest! If a collection of eyewitnesses like this was arrayed against you in a court of law to testify that they had seen you kill your mother-in-law, you can be most certain that a lethal injection would be awaiting you in your immediate future. (Either that or a commendation, depending upon your mother-in-law.)

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And yet, when the testimony concerns flying saucers and aliens, suddenly people are quick to brand it "unreliable" and dismiss it. We can't have it both ways! Out here where I live, most of us couldn't beat a dead dog lying by the side of the road in an I.Q. contest, but still we're smart enough to realize that testimony from people like the aforementioned constitutes valid evidence in support of the UFO phenomenon.
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In addition, I'd say that when a former director of the C.I.A. publicly states that UFOs are real and that "through official secrecy and ridicule, many citizens are led to believe the unknown flying objects are nonsense", and when a professionally esteemed physicist says of crop circles, "whatever is doing these formations is affecting the fundamental biophysics and biochemistry of the plants... the basic micro fibril structures of the plants have been altered. Such cellular changes cannot be hoaxed", then it's time that we sit up straight at our desks and start taking notes!

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No proof? No evidence? It seems that a few reviewers are in need of having that grey pudding between their ears examined by a competent physician! {Oh, Stephen! Stephen! Stephen! Why must you insist on being so "UNHELPFUL"?} That was just the planet Venus that the farmer saw land in his cow pasture? It was only swamp gas that followed the lady's car for thirty miles down the highway? That was just a weather balloon that buzzed the pilot's airplane repeatedly at 4000 miles per hour? Okie-dokie. Whatever you say, Mr. Government Man. You've never lied to us before!
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Yes, ALIEN AGENDA has a few problems: Too many typographical errors for a major publication. As one reviewer pointed out, the author overworks the term "mind-set" and you may or may not find this irritating depending upon your mind-set. Chapter 11, IN THE MIND'S EYE, which is highly speculative at best, is too long. Chapter 12, A METAPHYSICAL EXAM (where I believe we finally sit down to the meat loaf and Tater Tots), is too short. When Marrs refers to "the demagoguery of anti-Communist Senator Joseph McCarthy" and his "witch-hunt" -- when he implies credence in Paul Ehrlich's book THE POPULATION BOMB -- when he insinuates that F.D.R. was somehow an unwelcome threat to the Morgan Banking House -- it is clear that MARRS is out in space!

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With a few reservations, I recommend the book, but suggest that you not stop here. Also investigate ALIEN ENCOUNTERS by Chuck Missler, ENCOUNTERS WITH UFOs by John Weldon & Zola Levitt, and afterwards, ALIEN INTERVENTION by Paul Christopher. These books make extremely compelling arguments that the manifestation of interdimensional demonic activity and deception is the most all-around satisfying answer to the UFO question and its attendant problems. I definitely agree!
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With that in mind, permit me to close with a bit of unsolicited advice: If some pleasant evening while you are slurping beer in your jacuzzi, a silver disc should descend into your backyard, landing on your barbecue grill, and a long-limbed, large-headed, big-eyed short feller emerges, flashes you the Vulcan peace sign and offers to take you for a spin in his jaunty little ship, I strongly urge you to..... (*Please see the title of this review.)
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Sunday, April 2, 2017

I LIKE A SPICY CUBAN DISH (In A Little Black Dress)

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[FUN FACT: In the 5 years I spent reviewing products at Amazon.com, of the 199 reviews I posted -- including topics such as Senator Joe McCarthy, Darwinism, Creationism, Feminism, Communism, Religion, and Liberal Politics -- the one review that received the most negative feedback was THIS one. Why? I dunno. I think they were screaming at me about objectifying women or something. But it got so screechy in that comment section that even my dear friend Amy, the "Flying Aardvark", one of the sweetest, least confrontational persons I've ever met, posted a comment in defense of me. My major crime follows, so read on...]
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Buena Vista Social Club Presents
IBRAHIM FERRER
1999
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(I first became conscious of the strange phenomenon when I was about 15 years old: I ordered something to eat in a little fast food Mexican joint on Venice Boulevard in West Los Angeles. Unbeknownst to the young Latinas working behind the counter, the very next person to place his order was my Pa, and when he joined me at a table afterwards, he related to me how one girl said to her co-worker after I walked away, “That guy was cute,” and the other agreed.)
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Good Friend Melanie gave me the IBRAHIM FERRER album of Cuban Jazz as a gift the Christmas before last. (I had mentioned beforehand to her that I have more music than time to hear it, but she listened to me about like men listen to women. No one’s to blame for the communication disconnect between the genders, really, because we have such disparate origins: A woman is from Venus and a man is from a woman’s “Monologue.”)
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(Including my ENTIRE life, I can count on two fingers how many White, Black, or Asian women have had me and the “Mystery Dance” occupying the same thought in their mind. But Hispanic women have always found me to be irresistible, and I don’t know why. I am a very ordinary looking but extremely analytical individual who tends to mentally dissect everything in order to comprehend why and how such and such is so. But I’ve yet to concoct even the most rudimentary theory to explain the Latin woman’s attraction to me.)
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I almost gave up on the IBRAHIM FERRER recording because I just couldn’t seem to warm up to it for the longest time. At one point, I considered posting a Two-Star review on the BigBitch.com website which I thought to title, "I'll Have The Number Three Combination Plate And A Margarita, Please." The music just made me feel like I was sitting in a booth at a Mexican restaurant. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that”, but tunes for home listening? And since Good Friend Melanie wasn’t too crazy about 'Bright Size Life' -- the Pat Metheny disc I had given to her -- we even considered trading, and each of us keeping the item we had purchased.
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(The brilliant and world-renowned South American sociologist, Yoey O’Dogherty, once observed that, “Hispanic women are especially drawn to the warm magnetism of masculine intensity, just as conversely, snowmen are drawn to frigid climates.” And in my youth I was sometimes known by the nickname, “Mister Intense.” Perhaps this accounts for why Latinas are so susceptible to the energy of my aura?)
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I finally decided that I would play nothing but IBRAHIM FERRER whenever I was writing on my computer until either my ears became educated enough to enjoy it, or until I could stand it no longer and gave it away to Lupe, the waitress at Abuelo’s Mexican Food Embassy who always gives me extra guacamole and a wink.
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(You know how women can give men “the once over” without tipping their hand to the guys, while men just ogle openly? Well, these spicy Hispanic gals sometimes lose their highly refined skills around me, unable to extinguish the hungry flames in their orbs. Even at my advanced age of 47, wearing spectacles, and with plenty of grey cohabitating with the brown on my scalp and in my goatee, I still sometimes catch ‘em eyeing me.)
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Well, to my great surprise, I not only eventually came to differentiate between all of these melodies, but came to embrace them as if they were part of my own culture. The tremendous blasts of brass; the lively, intricate percussion work; the sparse but soulful guitar touches of Ry Cooder; and the emotional and romantic Spanish vocals really move me... and they make my writing move, too. I’ve found that IBRAHIM FERRER puts some added zest into my words -- really gets the creative juices flowing. (Can’t you tell?) Because of its dancing rhythms, it’s become maybe my very favorite disc to play as background music while writing anything.
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(I once had a sweet and shy Mexican girl tell me about a week before her wedding that all along it was me she had been hoping to catch. And less than twelve months ago, this 18-year-old hot Hispanic thang let it be known that she was interested in me. She went by Wendy, but I’m pretty sure her Mama named her Maria. She was a real cutie and had an absolutely OUTRAGEOUS body to go with that face: all the curves in just the right places and very well pronounced like: “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain!” To borrow from The Commodores, she was truly built like a “Brick OWse!” The night I had to turn her down, pointing out that at my age I was nearly old enough to be her grandpa, I drove home gnawing on my knuckles and chanting over and over again, “There had better be a Heaven! There had better be a Heaven!”)
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As if the music alone weren't reason enough to purchase IBRAHIM FERRER, the song MARIETA contains one of the funniest lyrical passages ever. Translated into English it says: “My wife was suffering from an illness of the heart in Havana. So the doctor came one morning to examine her. He took off her dress, her panties, too. And her slip. But when I saw that indecency I said: This isn’t good; I really don’t think my wife’s heart is that far down.” Imagine that, a song about a doctor “playing doctor.”
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(So, you’re wondering why I told you how attractive Latinas find me? Well, it just so happens that I wasn’t talking to you, Dude; I was trying to send a discreet message to your hot, Hispanic girlfriend. But you know what? To heck with subtlety: Hola guapa, llamame cuando tu novio esta fuera.)
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

If You Don't See This Movie, IT'S A CRYING SHAME!

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ON BORROWED TIME
starring Lionel Barrymore and Bobs Watson
1939
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IMdB says:
Young Pud is orphaned and left in the care of his aged grandparents. The boy and his cantankerous old grandfather become inseparable friends. But Gramps is concerned for his grandson's future and wary of a scheming relative who seeks Pud's custody. One day Mr. Brink -- an agent of Death -- arrives to take Gramps "to the land where the woodbine twineth." Through a bit of trickery, Gramps confines Mr. Brink, and thus Death, to the top of an old apple tree, giving Gramps extra time to resolve issues about Pud's future.
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Seeing as how I am the president of 'BIG BOYS DON'T CRY', the Southwestern U.S. chapter of the Bobs Watson Fan Club, it should surprise no one that I find ON BORROWED TIME (1939) to be one of the most charming black & white movies from Hollywood's Golden Era. Bobs (no, that is not a typo -- it is Bobs with an "s") was the child actor who CRIED his way through many films of the 1930s and '40s, making arguably his biggest SPLASH in 1938's 'Boys Town' (Bobs was one of the last people to visit with Spencer Tracy before his death). I felt his best performance, however, came in the whimsical TEARJERKER, On Borrowed Time, which also featured Mr. Henry Potter (the great Lionel Barrymore); Clarence Oddbody, angel second-class (Henry Travers); and Mrs. Ma Bailey (Beulah Bondi). Ah yes, 'It's A Wonderful Life', but it's 'On Borrowed Time!'
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Bobs Watson was only 8 years old when he portrayed Pud Northrup in ON BORROWED TIME, and I still think it stands as the best acting ever from a kiddie -- unbelievably believable! Bobs appeared in over 200 movie and television productions and 500 stage productions, beginning at the age of 6 months. He was renowned in Hollywood circles for having a strange knack of being able to turn the tears on and off like from a faucet. There's an old story in Filmland that the famous Academy Award-winning director, Yoey O'Dogherty, once accidentally dropped his hat and Bobs' eyes started to well up.
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But what you may not know is that poor Bobs suffered from a multiple personality disorder which eventually interfered with his acting career. He gained a reputation for being doubly hard to work with on the set, and he insisted on delivering ALL of the lines in every on-screen dialogue. He became the first Hollywood star to publicly admit to having undergone treatment at the famous Bettys Ford Clinic. Bobs was subsequently cured and released.
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Unfortunately, he suffered a relapse some years later, but found success in the music world as the founding (and ONLY) member of the a cappella Rock 'N' Roll group, THE BOBS. Bobs Watson had a religious experience while his band was on the road, touring in Damascus, and he eventually disbanded THE BOBS (amidst much acrimony and dissent from the other band members), leaving the rebellious Rock scene behind to become a Methodist minister. He returned to the silver screen in several cameo appearances later in life, including one in Ron Howard's directorial debut, Grand Theft Auto (1977), in which he played himself, the Reverend Bobs Watson. He passed away in 1999 at the age of 68. Bobs Watson was honored on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame when a star with his name engraved in it was placed at the intersection of Alvarado Street and Scott Avenue.
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Sometime after he had become an ordained minister, Bobs had this to say about his former unique ability to produce tears at the drop of a hat: "For a while, I used to worry that if I gave a really moving sermon, people would just figure that I was still acting, but I got over that... Actually, I think the ability I was known for around the studios was what has helped me the most as a clergyman. To get me to cry - which is so hard for most kid actors - all a director, or my dad, would have to do was to tell me about some terrible trouble someone was having. I could always empathize and would burst into tears. Now I just see what can be done to help the person who comes to me with a serious problem. And there is always something. You know, Jesus never ever fails us."
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My friends, if you have the opportunity, be sure to purchase or rent this movie -- it will make you laugh; it will make you cry (right along with Bobs). ON BORROWED TIME is sure to put a tear in your eye and a warm glow in your heart. Although the production values are naturally not up to current standards, this story is really quite good, and so were Bobs. I mean, so WAS Bobs.*.
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[*NOTE: My review contains a mixture of fiction and nonfiction (mostly the latter); I'll leave it to you to separate 'em. The one element of this review that you most definitely can count on, however, is that the strange duck, Stephen T. McCarthy, really does love ON BORROWED TIME, and strongly urges you to see it!]
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Official Movie Trailer: click HERE
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Monday, March 27, 2017

"GOOD MORNING, MR. AND MS. SOCIALIST. THIS IS YOUR WAKE-UP CALL!"

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DO AS I SAY (NOT AS I DO):

Profiles In Liberal Hypocrisy
by Peter Schweizer
2005

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HOKEY-SMOKE AND HOO-WEE! There's enough hypocrisy in this book to choke a shark! And I'm not talking about your everyday, run-of-the-mill shark here; I'm talking about one of those monstrous, Great White Granddaddies! You know, the kind they make movies about.
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The desperation of a certain faction on the Amazon.com product page has become palpable, and the shrieking is quickly approaching unprecedented levels. I wonder if The People's Weekly World has called for an all-out blitz on this book.
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PETER SCHWEIZER needs to be congratulated for unearthing this unhealthy hypocrisy. By simply reviewing public records and interviewing a few insiders, he has revealed truths that have been (not so surprisingly) neglected by the mainstream media. It's not like this required super sleuthing capabilities, so one must ask: How come all of those social watchdogs in journalism never revealed any of this before? This book was LONG overdue. Finally it has arrived, and it is just the thing to bring the intellectually honest Democrats to reality. (Both of them.)
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OK, now that it has been conclusively shown that the heads of this dragon are liars and hypocrites, am I saying that you should immediately re-register as a Republican? NO! NEVER! Look Libs, your gods have been exposed. They never did believe all of that Socialistic Slop that they promoted. They meant it for you, SURE, but they never meant that it should apply to themselves as well. Oh no, they're too special for that. Didn't you know? They appeal to the idealism of "the people", but personally they consider themselves above such utopian rhetoric. Does anybody in their right mind really believe that Karl Marx intended to live under the exact same system that he advocated for the proletariat? Come on, get REAL!

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But the answer is not to switch ranks. The Republicans are no better. In order to get elected they tell us how they stand for smaller government, lower taxes, national sovereignty, liberty, and a return to societal morality. But once they get into power, they seem to forget all that they stand for. Once they've sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution, they turn right around and start pushing for more un-Constitutional legislation. They engage in imperialism and globalization through treaties and the weight of the IMF/World Bank. They promote unnecessary wars. They feed us more Socialism, but slower and better disguised. No, they've ALL got to go! Both parties are thoroughly polluted!
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But it is imperative that we learn what it was that made this country great in the first place. We must return to the form of government that the Founding Fathers blessed us with. Read your Constitution for crying-out-loud! Read 'The Federalist Papers' and 'The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Convention Debates'. Study the Bill Of Rights. Learn to recognize those ideas that are antithetical to our founding. We're letting everything that our Founders fought and died for slip away! Put away the Franken and Limbaugh books. Yes, read 'DO AS I SAY (NOT AS I DO)', but then peruse this nation's primary source material for yourself. Stop letting prominent people interpret it for you; read it for yourself and see what it says to YOU!
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'DO AS I SAY' is an excellent book. I was originally planning to include a few revealing facts from the book about Fallacious Franken, Babbling Babs, Hypocritical Hillary, Prattling Pelosi, Mendacious Moore, and Knavish Kennedy. But the truth is, there's so much in this book that I wouldn't even begin to know where to start! And although I think this is an important and valuable book, I'd also point out to you that in the Acknowledgments, Schweizer lists among other "friends", Caspar Weinberger and Newt Gingrich -- both members of the Council On Foreign Relations. If that holds no meaning for you, then you would be remiss in failing to purchase copies of 'THE SHADOWS OF POWER' by James Perloff and 'THE CREATURE FROM JEKYLL ISLAND' by G. Edward Griffin, at the same time you place your order for 'DO AS I SAY'.
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While the information in Schweizer's book is new, it will serve only to confirm for conservatives what they already suspected: these high-profile liberals are proficient in the arts of lying and hypocritical living. These Liberallumps are so full of crap that you can smell it every time they open their mouths. Well, at least some of us can. The voting Democrats have traditionally been olfactorily-challenged. Hopefully this book will change that. I'm holding my breath.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Saturday, March 25, 2017

THE CHEMICAL AND ALCOHOL-FREE ANTIDOTE FOR DEPRESSION

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[NOTE: This review applies to the 1997 VHS tape boxed set. In 2010, 'On The Road' was released on DVD -- three separate 3-disc sets -- greatly expanded and re-formatted from the tapes described below. I most highly recommend it!]
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THE BEST OF 'ON THE ROAD WITH CHARLES KURALT'
Charles Kuralt
1997
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Charles Kuralt was the poet of small town America the way Vin Scully was the poet of Dodger Stadium. Relaxed, warm, folksy and deceptively insightful. He had a way of setting you at ease and somehow convincing you that the entire cosmos could be found in the minutia of this one fleeting moment. His beloved little program, 'ON THE ROAD' (1967-80) in which he traveled the backroads of America in a motor home to show us the real heart of the country was eagerly anticipated by countless people every weekend -- myself included.
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Once every couple of years, when I need a little lift, I get out my boxed set of THE BEST OF 'ON THE ROAD WITH CHARLES KURALT' and pop in one of the three 60 minute tapes. I invariably end up watching all three in one sitting. It's as if once I'm on the road, I can't quite convince myself to pull into a rest stop. Just a few days ago I created a new Amazon Listmania List called, 'EXPLORE THE U.S.A.' in which I included this set. And then I felt inspired to view the tapes again, and decided to review them since currently only two other people have.
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Tape 1 - THE AMERICAN HERITAGE: We start out at the beginning (always a good place to start) when Kuralt takes us to the roaring wind-swept dunes on Roanoke Island, North Carolina and the site that John White and the early English settlers of 1587 decided to call "Home." We see where they lived and ponder the great mystery of their disappearance.
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Then it's off to Independence Hall in Philadelphia where independence from England was first declared, and where the U.S. Constitution was later hammered out. Kuralt relives those tumultuous times and his sense of awe and admiration is evident. "There were great men in those days. Never from that time to this has so much greatness crowded onto the American stage", he informs us. I for one, agree with him. But then Kuralt nominates his choice for "greatest" and takes us to Monticello, the stately residence of Thomas Jefferson and shows us the very bed that Jefferson passed away on one Fourth of July!
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Then we go "on the road" again to the survey site of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. It's funny to hear Kuralt close the segment with the statement that "the French don't talk about it much". In The American Heritage we also get to visit Wyoming's "Register Cliff" on the Oregon Trail; the place of Custer's Last Stand at Little Bighorn, Montana; the old Spanish Missions of California; horseback cowboys in Texas; Dearborn, Michigan and the Henry Ford museum; Tuskegee University and the inspiring story of Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver; and then to the annual Town Meeting in tiny Stamford, Vermont where pure Democracy is practiced.
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Kuralt closes tape one with the comment: "All these places that we have visited are waiting for you to visit them, too. You'll feel prouder of the country afterwards. We do."
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Most of these segments were originally filmed for television in the 1970's and so the picture clarity is not all that we've come to expect, and once or twice a trace of political correctness may seep in (after all, this was a CBS-sponsored program), but these are small prices to pay for such richness that can be enjoyed again and again.
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Tape 2 - SEASONS OF AMERICA: This time we go on the road with Charles Kuralt to experience the seasons. In Spring it's the "romance" of tapping maple syrup from trees in Vermont; harvesting daffodils in Virginia; at Appomattox Courthouse, where Lee surrendered to Grant, we find the blooming of the pink and white Dogwood's and learn that this is "the most American of trees being native to 40 of our states and native nowhere else on Earth"; then there's the indescribably heartwarming story of the old man of Surry County, Virginia and his 13 acre garden planted simply for the pleasure of others, and the surprising twist at the story's conclusion.
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In Summer we go tubing on a river in Wisconsin; we participate in the funny, but heartfelt 4th of July activities in the small towns of the Midwest, and in the Tom Sawyer Days celebration in Mark Twain's, Hannibal, Missouri. It just doesn't get more "American" than this.
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Autumn finds us in Pacific Grove, California for the mysterious butterfly migration; Colorado Springs for the pumpkin harvesting by countless school kids at the Venetucci Brothers farm; and of course, Kuralt takes us to New England for the "shower of scarlet, lemon and gold leaves" and wood pile constructing in preparation for Winter.
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In Winter, the horse, "Babe", takes us for a ride in an 1890 sleigh in Connecticut; in Miller's Mills, New York, we follow the honored tradition of generations past in cutting and storing pond ice for next July's ice cream social; and we finish the year with the inspiring story of the miraculous Juniper tree in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and its yearly Christmas message to everyone "on the road."
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Tape 3 - UNFORGETTABLE PEOPLE: Kuralt introduces us to many types of people here, like Bill Patch, who converted his old Nash Rambler to run on corn cobs -- gets 3 miles to the bushel. With the price of gas, I'm ready to buy one! But my favorites were from the Carolinas: Jethro Mann, an old Black man in Belmont, North Carolina, and Agatha Burgess, an old white woman in Buffalo, South Carolina. Mann, entirely at his own expense, restores old bicycles and loans them out daily to the poor kids in town so that they can all experience the pleasure of having a bike and being on the road. Burgess spends all day, every day, cooking in her small kitchen so that anybody who wants to, can have a hot home-cooked meal at a nominal price, and eat it in her own home. It's what she wants to do, and she tells us that she always gets what she wants. And then she sagely adds, "But I know what to want."
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And then there's the wonderful story of the formerly dirt-poor and cotton-picking Chandler family of Mississippi. There's parents Alex and Mary, and their nine children, all who helped one another to graduate from college. We join them for their Thanksgiving celebration and watch as they are all reduced to tears in thanking God for His goodness.
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THE BEST OF 'ON THE ROAD WITH CHARLES KURALT' is a great set. It should be enjoyed by any viewer, and I think it would make an excellent addition to a homeschooler's library. If you can watch all 3 of these tapes and never once feel the moisture of joy welling up a little in your eyes, then there is simply no warmth left in you. This doesn't just mean that you're dead, of course, but that you've likely been dead for a good long while.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

BONE-DEEP BLUES!

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[This review was originally published at BigBitch.com on March 13, 2005.]
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GOOD HANDS
Danny Caron
2003
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Look, I'm 45 years old (my arthritic knees feel at least twice that age) and most people my age are rarely buying new music. I'm no exception. By 45, you know what you like and you've owned it for years. Because the tape deck in my truck broke several months back, I've been forced to listen to the radio while driving.
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Going home from work after midnight a few weeks ago, I put on the local pseudo-Jazz station. Late, when they figure nobody's listening anyway, KYOT sometimes shelves the Kenny G and Dave Koz and spins stuff a little more adventurous. About halfway home they started playing some hot guitarist whose style I did not recognize. Damn! This guy was GOOD! I pulled into my garage, shut off the engine and just sat there listening -- unable to go into the house until the track concluded. And I'm thinking: "You KYOT Airheadzona DJ better tell me who this is, doggone it!" 

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"That was DANNY CARON with THE PROMISE", he announced. Now, I know from past experiences that whenever a musical piece commands my attention to that degree upon first listen, I've got a winner.
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I ordered 'GOOD HANDS' from Amazon and when it arrived I found myself staring at a middle-aged, balding guy who looked like the archetypal late night television talk show host. My first impression: Well, yeah it's good, but maybe I didn't really need to own it. That opinion was radically reversed by my 4th or 5th trip through the nearly hour-long disc. By then, my ears had picked-up on what he was doing with that guitar, and now I'm thinking, "OH, HOKEY-SMOKE, MAN!".
While I have no doubt that CARON could trade blazing licks with virtually any "guitar god" out there (and although he does cut loose on the brief GATE WALKS THE BOARD) that's not what 'GOOD HANDS' is all about. These are mostly slow to mid-tempo deeply smoldering Blues, but played with awesome Jazz chops. The first thing you'll notice is the impeccable cleanness of his sound: sharp, single-note runs possessing an extraordinary finesse and rhythmic sense!

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But after your ears become "educated" you begin to notice the brilliantly executed shadings he employs to wring out the genuine emotional content of each piece. Hey, I love my Blues guitarists, but even the "Kings" (B.B., Albert and Freddie) could learn a thing from CARON about Blues nuance. Dang! This is just an exquisite Blues guitar album of uncommon sensitivity -- as soulful a recording as I have ever heard! If you're a young guitarist and you want to learn a thing or two about imbuing your music with an authentic feeling, a deep passion, 'GOOD HANDS' has a lot to teach you.
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And speaking of "HANDS", what's up with Caron's digits? The photographs indicate that either this guy is the size of Yao Ming, or else he has the most inordinately long fingers! That explains how he maneuvers around the neck of that guitar so nimbly.
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The tracks also contain some first-class accompaniment, notably: John Burr's romantic piano, Jim Pugh's funky Hammond B-3 organ, and a riotous tenor sax solo by Charles McNeal on HEY JIMMY. (Although I could do without the Charles Brown vocals on cuts #5 and #11.) If you like the classic Jazz guitarists such as Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, Joe Pass, and early George Benson, then you'll SURELY want to add Danny Caron to your collection.
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My favorite piece is RAINY NIGHT IN GEORGIA. No, on second thought, I'd say IN A SENTIMENTAL MOOD. Check that! It's definitely SHINE ON.
Alright, I really can't decide.
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But did you notice that I didn't even mention THE PROMISE -- the head-turning track I heard on the radio that caught my attention to begin with? That's how impressive this album is! What a travesty of justice that so much acclaim is lavished on each new long-haired, Hard Rock speed-freak guitarist who comes along, but a player like THIS remains unknown. He's never going to get the recognition that he deserves, but hey, you can forget all about Allstate, man, because you're in REALLY 'GOOD HANDS' with DANNY CARON!
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Monday, March 20, 2017

“THE KID WHO CAME TO THE PARTY AND PEE’D IN THE LEMONADE”

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McCARTHY
by Roy Cohn
published: 1968
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“I was beginning to feel scared and a little sick. We were being hounded, pushed into a blind alley... For a few brief moments I felt that the best thing would be to pack my bags and get away from Washington and its intrigues. But then a contrary emotion took over. When some people feel trapped, they have the instinct to turn on their foes and fight to a finish. The role of underdog, I discovered, can give one courage.”
~ Roy Cohn; McCARTHY, chapter 9.
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ROY COHN, chief counsel for the Senate Investigating Committee under Senator Joseph McCarthy, opened his book, McCARTHY, with the following statements in his Prologue:
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The full portrait of Joe McCarthy and the era in which he rose to such remarkable prominence and power must await the historian’s special training, insight, and distance from the events ... Emerson said, “Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves, but deal in our privacy with the last honesty and truth.” To the best of my ability it is this I try to do in the pages that follow.
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Roy Cohn’s honesty in recounting the good, the bad, and the ugly about the anti-Communist “McCarthy” years makes his book a truly compelling and essential account for anybody who wants to gain a clearer understanding of that monumental American epoch.
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The full historical perspective that Cohn anticipated in 1968 is nearly upon us:

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M. Stanton Evans, the historian considered by many to be the preeminent authority on Joseph McCarthy, is due to release his magnum opus, BLACKLISTED BY HISTORY: The Real Story Of Joseph McCarthy And His Fight Against America's Enemies in late March of 2007. I preordered the book 15 months ago, but the release date has been pushed back several times, and I’m now salivating on myself and champing vigorously at the bit. (My greatest fear has been that Evans will go to his grave with the book unfinished. I swear, if he dies before it’s done I’ll k!ll him!)
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But I’m so eager now to get Evans’ definitive account into my hands that I recently decided to revisit my old copy of McCARTHY by Roy Cohn, and to post a review of it. (Quite frankly, I’m embarrassed that I’ve waited this long to review this important book while having previously posted junk for some silly stuff on this website. All I can say is -– for the godzillionth time -– “Uhp! I’m an idiot!”)
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McCARTHY is the book that cemented Senator Joseph McCarthy in my mind as one of America’s greatest unsung heroes, and inspired me to adopt his last name as part of my pen name well before I began contributing reviews to Amazon.com (aka BigBitch.com). Certainly it’s the ultimate “insider” view of this chapter in our history -– it doesn’t get any more intimate and behind-the-scenes than McCarthy’s friend and confidant throughout the Army-McCarthy hearings and the Senatorial censure.
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One might assume that Cohn’s relationship to McCarthy and his involvement in the war against Communism and our government’s cover-up would make him incapable of delivering an objective account. One would be surprised, however, by the degree of honesty presented here. The 14 years between the censure of McCarthy and the writing of Cohn’s book undoubtedly gave the author the distance necessary for the emotional impact to subside and make possible a limpid assessment. Cohn doesn’t flinch and shy away from calling attention to his and McCarthy’s shortcomings. For instance, of his first appearance in the Army-McCarthy hearing witness stand, Cohn calls his own testimony “rambling, garrulous, repetitious, brash, smug, smart-alecky, pompous, and petulant.”

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He says of McCarthy, “His statements were frequently hasty and ill-prepared ... He played rough politics, occasionally took unfair advantage of people, and said harsh things in public ... I quarreled with him frequently [about his broad-brush approach] and stressed that by using this technique he sometimes placed himself in an indefensible position. But,” Cohn adds, “I never disagreed with the substance of his thesis. ... He had more real personal courage than almost any man I ever knew. ... When he became convinced that Communism was an evil, he took up the battle against its inroads into American life and fought the tough way he had learned how to fight early in life.”
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McCarthy comes across in Cohn’s book as fully human, with all of his strengths and weaknesses on display, and if you can read it in its entirety and feel no sympathy for the Senator, then it is you whom I fear is not fully human.
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Through this book you’ll come to know the “man” behind the myth, and you’ll see “the devil in the details” of his great political cause. I tend to think of McCarthy as a Western (Civilization) hero –- kind of a “John Wayne Goes To Washington” character.

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There’s a great line in the Wayne Western THE UNDEFEATED, where The Duke shoots a villain after an argument erupts during a discussion. He rides back over to the group of people whom he’s protecting, and a properly “civilized” woman berates him, “You went out there to talk! Why did you have to shoot the man?” And John Wayne responds in that famous drawl, “Conversation kind of dried up, ma’am.” Likewise, Joseph McCarthy felt that the time for “nice” talk was over; it was time to take action against Communist infiltration in our government -–  take action against communists determined to wreck our Constitutional Republic, to put the people of this nation in great peril and to overturn the American way of life.
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Senator William Jenner, one of the 22 Republicans who voted against censure of Senator Joe McCarthy, told him, “Joe, you’re the kid who came to the party and pee’d in the lemonade.” In other words, McCarthy wouldn’t shut up and just go along to get along; he raised a ruckus when everyone else just wanted to “socialize.”
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I urge EVERY American to read McCARTHY, no matter what you may think you already know about the Senator and “McCarthyism”. If all of your information has come from mainstream publications and movies, then trust me, you’ve seen only one side of a two-sided coin. You’ve examined the “Tales” side, now let’s also look at “Heads.” Roy Cohn’s McCARTHY is a great book.

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While Cohn’s chapter titled “Why They Hated” is an interesting look at the philosophy espoused by the forces that opposed McCarthy, to get a better understanding of the macro view, let me also recommend the books, THE CREATURE FROM JEKYLL ISLAND by G. Edward Griffin, and THE NAKED CAPITALIST by W. Cleon Skousen.
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“It has been a bitter lesson to come to Washington and see a reputation, gained at some effort, torn to shreds merely because I was associated with Senator McCarthy, who has become the symbol of hatred for all who fear the exposure of Communism.”

~ Roy Cohn; McCARTHY, chapter 16.
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Senator McCarthy, wherever you are, I just want to say, “GOOD NIGHT, AND THANK YOU!”

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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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