The Empire Strikes Back debuted in theaters on May 21, 1980.
I might not have been there on 5/21/80, but I was certainly there no later than mid-June of 1980.
I was part of the original Star Wars generation. I also recall seeing the first one with my dad in the summer of ’77.
In May 1980 I was a little shy of 12 years old. I was starting to become an adolescent, with preteen interests (playing sports, girls). But I was nevertheless captivated for two full hours by The Empire Strikes Back.Continue reading “‘The Empire Strikes Back’ +40”
I grew up on stories of World War II–real ones. My maternal grandfather served in the US Navy, mostly in the North Atlantic. He made numerous runs between the US and the United Kingdom. And he told me many tales of dodging Messerschmidts and “wolf pack” U-boats.
There was never really a modern movie done about his war, though. There have been lots of movies about combat in the South Pacific and in the Middle East. There have been many, many films about D-Day. Not so many about the perilous North Atlantic runs between the United States and England.
I’ve been listening to the audiobook version of Richard Adams’s 1972 novel, Watership Down.
This is my third exposure to the story. I watched the animated version when I was a kid, back in the 1970s. Then, the summer after high school (1986), I read the book. This time around, I’m consuming it in bits and pieces, mostly listening as I perform other tasks. (Today I listened to about three hours of the book, while I cut two lawns.) Continue reading “Rereading ‘Watership Down’”
Hey, after all of this calms down, there will be some great deals on travel to Italy. Tourism is a major part of the Italian economy, and it’s currently down by 95%, for obvious reasons. Multiple public and private entities in Italy are already working to boost travel there post-COVID-19.
I have only childhood memories of the drive-in. Back in the early 1970s, I would occasionally attend with my parents.
I was very young then, no more than about five years old. I usually fell asleep in the back seat of my dad’s Ford Torino long before the movie concluded. At that age, I was seldom interested in the movies my parents were watching, anyway. Continue reading “Will drive-in movies make a comeback?”
This seems like the kind of article that could only come from a Millennial staff writer at CNN, Huffington Post, or Slate. (It came from Hannah Lack, a writer at CNN. I don’t know if she’s a Millennial; but I have my suspicions.):
I haven’t given Guns N’Roses (GNR) much thought since like…1988. That was when the band had its heyday, more or less.
In fact, I never really gave the group much thought at all.
GNR was/is kind of like a retread of the mid-1980s act Mötley Crüe—a schtick that was already stale by 1988. When I do think of Guns N’ Roses, I usually hear Axl Rose caterwauling the refrain from “Sweet Child of Mine” in my head.
Nineteen eighty-eight was a good year for me, in most respects; but that’s a flashback from ’88 that I can do without.
But Twitter is the magic medium that keeps all past-their-prime celebrities in the public consciousness. (How many people would recognize the name “Alyssa Milano” in 2020 if not for Twitter?)
It turns out that Axl Rose, the now 58-year-old lead singer of GNR, took a potshot at U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Twitter.
Because of course, no celebrity is ever going to go after a Democrat on social media. Being good little herd animals, celebrities only attack herd-approved targets, i.e., Republicans.
Today is May Day, the most significant holiday in any country that adheres to the socio-economic system envisioned by Marx, Lenin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Kim il-Sung, etc.
The above video is an introduction to the Tiananmen Square massacre of June 4, 1989. I remember that. I was not there, in Beijing; but I did watch the events unfold on television.
One of my friends, a woman my age from Vietnam, grew up under communist rule in her native land. She wants nothing to do with Marxism, or any flavor of socialism, ever again. Unsurprisingly, she was not impressed with the Bernie Sanders movement, or his assurances that somehow, his version of socialism would be “democratic”. (As my friend knows, Marxists always say that—until they get into power.) Continue reading “May Day and the victims of communism”
Among the more influential of the many self-help books I read in my twenties were several titles by the late businessman Mark H. McCormack (1930~2003).
Mark McCormack was the founder of the International Management Group, or IMG. McCormack started IMG in 1960 with the idea of managing the careers of professional athletes and other celebrities in an organized, profitable manner.
There is nothing revolutionary about this business model today; but it was a novel concept in 1960. The age of mass-market television was really just beginning. So, too, was the age of the paid celebrity endorsement. Today we think nothing of it when we see a famous athlete endorsing a product on television. But that market was brand-new as the 1960s began.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I have recently started rereading The Stand, Stephen King’s post-apocalyptic novel of the “superflu” or “Captain Trips”.
I also mentioned that I read the book for the first time back in the mid-1980s, when I was a high school student. (I believe I read it in the fall of my junior year, which would have been October~November 1984, more or less.) Continue reading “‘The Stand’: rereading update”
I know, I can practically hear some of you cackle with mocking glee. “Bible-thumping Trumpster!” you’re saying, as you tune in to MSNBC. Others are hunting around on their hard drives for Darwin and New Atheist memes to send me.
An important and immediate disclaimer is in order here: I’m referring to the quarantine/shutdown, not the pandemic itself.
COVID-19 has been a horrific civilizational trauma. It has resulted in the tragic loss of tens of thousands of lives, and billions of dollars in lost economic activity. Moreover…it isn’t quite over yet. There is no upside to the virus.
There is really no upside to the quarantine, either; so perhaps I’ve lured you here with a bait-and-switch.
But there might be ways that you can make the most of a bad situation. If you must live like this until May 1st (or even, heaven forbid, until June 1st), how might you come out better for it on the other side?
Here are a few ideas:
Gratitude for the normal
Being a curmudgeon of sorts, I used to grumble when I got stuck behind a school bus during rush hour traffic. (To cite just one example.)
That won’t seem so bad anymore. In fact, being stuck behind a school bus in traffic sounds like a pretty good deal right about now.
Just having the world back to normal—including the sometimes annoying aspects of it—will be a blessing when this is all done.
Now is an opportune time for deep thinking, since you almost certainly do have more time on your hands than is usually the case. (If you happen to be a healthcare worker, or a grocery store employee, this obviously doesn’t apply to you. Sorry…I realize that.)
You might want to think deeply about the meaning of life. But you might also want to think deeply about nuts-and-bolts issues like time management, or your approach toward your business (or your job).
Some people, unfortunately, will be thrown out of work by this ordeal. If that’s you, then you’ll want to think about what you want to (and can) do with the next phase of your economic life.
That might apply even if you’ve picked up a temporary gig working at an Amazon warehouse or your local Costco. What do you want to do to make money when the world gets back to normal?
Almost all of us are spending less money nowadays, because there is less to spend it on. We can’t go out to eat. We can’t travel. Et cetera.
Back to the reflection thing. If you’ve managed to do without an expenditure for at least two months (by the time this is all over), you might reasonably ask if it’s an expenditure that you really need.
Or—on the other hand—maybe that expenditure really does make your life richer and more meaningful. You’ll know for certain when this is all over.
I know: the shutdown, the quarantine—they still suck. But because of all this, you are going to have to pause your normal life, and then reset it again. That choice has been made for you.
But there are still choices that you can make—and things that are well within your control. You had might as well make the most of COVID-19’s current pause, and the reset that will eventually follow.
A young couple in trouble.A ruthless Mexican drug lord.A high-stakes, life-or-death battle at a casino in Southern Indiana.
Like a lot of readers in recent days, I’ve been seized by a sudden (and arguably masochistic) urge to reread The Stand. This is Stephen King’s 1978 post-apocalyptic novel of a “super-flu” called Captain Trips. In the novel, at least, the super-flu wipes out civilization and leaves few survivors.
So I went ahead and ordered it from Amazon the other day.
The premise of The Stand is obviously topical now. But this is also a book populated with some of Stephen King’s most memorable characters: Stu Redman, Franni Goldsmith, Mother Abigail, etc. It is a long book, but it is not a slow book.
The Stand is the most common favorite of longtime Stephen King readers, a fact which has caused the author a certain amount of chagrin over the years. In at least one interview, King wondered aloud why so many readers give their highest rating to a book that he wrote while still in his early 30s. But that’s the way it goes with art sometimes.
I read this book for the first time in 1984. I was in high school then, and those were simpler times. That isn’t just my nostalgic side speaking. Heck, last year was simpler times.
Like a lot of you, I’ve been feeling a little bit like a character in The Stand of late, and I want this movie to end, already. The good news is that coronavirus is not nearly as deadly as Captain Trips, nor should a cure or a vaccine indefinitely elude researchers.
But yes, these are unsettling days, and we all need the catharsis of a good story—even one we’ve read before, a long time ago.
Just a friendly reminder to all of you: If it is within your means, please support your local restaurants with carryout.
This means family-run, “mom-and-pop” restaurants, of course. But also remember that local branded restaurants (like the Outback in the above photo) are usually owned by local franchisees. The McDonald’s, Wendy’s or Steak-n-Shake down the street is, in all likelihood, a family business.
All manner of businesses have been hit by the COVID-19 crisis. Restaurants have been hit especially hard, though, because they were among the first establishments to be closed by state orders. (Governor DeWine closed all restaurants and bars in Ohio on March 16, or thereabouts.)
Restaurants typically operate on low margins. Almost all of them will incur substantial losses as a result of the Great Shutdown of 2020.
Speaking of Outback: I plan to order carryout from the Outback near my home today, on the east side of Cincinnati. If there is a restaurant near you that continues to offer carryout and/or delivery, consider doing the same. We want these businesses to survive the shutdown, and we want them to continue to be there for us when it all ends.
One of the natural questions to arise from all of this is: Have we been here before? Have we even been close to here before?
Can we find anything that compares to the coronavirus crisis, without going back to the 19th century (they say the Civil War was pretty disruptive), or at least to World War II?
I was born in 1968. So while I’m not the oldest of old-timers, I’m no longer young, either. I’ll be 52 my next birthday.
Here are the disasters and major disruptions to American life that I can remember, starting with the 1970s:
Energy crises (1970s)
Throughout the 1970s there was anxiety about gasoline. This was mostly owing to events in the Middle East.
Twice–in 1973 and in 1979—these crises became acute. The proximate cause of the 1973 crisis was the Yom Kuppur War. The Iranian Revolution caused the 1979 crisis.
To be honest, I was still in kindergarten in 1973, and I don’t remember that crisis well.
I do, however, vividly recall the energy crisis of 1979. There were long gas lines, and there was concern about the availability of other fossil fuels, as well. Jimmy Carter, who was president at the time, famously encouraged everyone to turn down the heat and wear sweaters. (Yes, really.)
Blizzards of 1977 and 1978
I was in grade school when these occurred, and I remember them well, too. During those two consecutive winters, we had weeks of record snow and cold. The Ohio River here in Cincinnati froze solid. I was off school for days at a stretch. (And there was no e-learning back then.)
The Blizzards of 1977 and 1978 were disruptive for many Americans, and many businesses. To be honest, though, they became some of the more pleasant memories of my childhood. All that time off school!
Savings and Loan crisis (1985)
There were various savings and loan crises throughout the 1980s. There was one I remember in particular, though: the collapse of the Cincinnati-based Home State Savings Bank.
In March 1985, the collapse of Home State Savings was imminent and more or less public knowledge. There was a run on branches of Home State Savings (as well as other S&Ls) as nervous account holders rushed to get their money out.
I was in high school then. I remember seeing the long lines at the savings and loan near my house. Ohio Governor Dick Celeste ordered all S&Ls in Ohio closed.
The resolution of the S&L crisis—in Ohio and elsewhere—lasted well into the 1990s.
Waco, the LA riots, the first World Trade Center Bombing, and Oklahoma City (1992-1995)
Between 1992 and 1995, there were multiple events of mass violence that made the news. These were not widely disruptive beyond the places where they occurred, but they did create national anxiety.
In 1992, there were several days of looting and rioting in Los Angeles, in response to the verdict in the Rodney King trial. There were concerns that the race-related violence would spread beyond Los Angeles. To the best of my knowledge, this did not happen to any significant degree. But parts of Los Angeles would take years to rebuild.
On February 26, 1993, a Muslim extremist named Ramzi Yousef detonated an improvised bomb in the World Trade Center in New York City. There were only a few casualties, and the WTC remained structurally sound.
In April 1993, several branches of federal law enforcement raided the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, resulting in multiple civilian deaths, including the deaths of many children.
In April 1995, a rightwing extremist named Timothy McVeigh detonated a truck bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 168 Americans died as a result. Timothy McVeigh was captured, tried, and convicted. He was executed in 2001.
I was an adult by 1992; and I can recall watching live, or almost-live, footage of all of these events on television. They made me anxious. (The Oklahoma City bombing made me particularly sad.) But they did not interfere with my day-to-day life in any significant way.
I was at my corporate home base in Cincinnati when 9/11 began on the morning of September 11, 2001. My father, however, was still working at the time; and he was in Las Vegas for a trade show.
He had flown into Las Vegas the previous weekend. (9/11 occurred on a Tuesday.) So he wasn’t flying that day. But there was some anxiety about him getting home. For a while, all flights were grounded. After a minor ordeal in the Las Vegas airport, my dad and his companions found seats on a flight to Cincinnati.
On the afternoon of 9/11, there were some gas lines. But the run on gasoline was short-lived, when everyone realized that the terrorist attacks posed no threat to America’s oil supplies.
Those are the bad/disruptive events that occurred in my lifetime within the United States.
Many of the above were tragic. (Even the Blizzards of 1977 and 1978 caused some loss of life.) They resulted not only in deaths, but in economic disruptions.
None of these, however, was remotely comparable to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. All of the above-described disturbances were relatively finite. Suicide bombers, as horrible as their work can be, can only bomb you once. No one believed that the Los Angeles riots of 1992 were going to continue for six months.
In other words, we don’t really have a living-memory benchmark to the COVID-19 pandemic. As everyone keeps saying, this really is uncharted territory.
As we cope with the ongoing race for the Democratic nomination, and the real but massivelyoverhypedcoronavirus epidemic, I will ask my readers to turn their attention to another matter of momentous import: bikini pics.
What is amazing about Ms. Porizkov’s pics is that she is 54 years old.
My focus here is not prurient (not entirely prurient, anyway), but on fitness. I’m 51 years old, and I’ve been a fitness enthusiast since the early 1980s. I still work out every day.
Fifty-four is not the new twenty-four. Compare Ms. Porizkov (or any 54-year-old on the planet) to a healthy and fit 24-year-old, and the quinquagenarian is going to come up short….That is as true of me in my fifties as it is of anyone, including the lovely Ms. Porizkov.
But those of us who are now in our fifties were in our twenties in the 1980s and 1990s. The takeaway here is that with some effort and focus on diet and exercise, it is possible to remain remarkably fit well into one’s grandparent years.
There’s a new trend in bars that cater to college students on dates in South Florida. The protocol is laid out on posters, which are displayed prominently throughout the participating drinking and dining establishments:
If a young woman feels “unsafe” or “uncomfortable” on a date, she can order a special drink called an “Owl Shot”. Then, depending on how she responds when the bartender brings her drink, one of the following measures will be taken:
‘Neat’: Bar staff will escort you to your car
‘On the rocks’: Bar staff will call a ride for you
‘With lime’: Bar staff will call the police
This lockdown procedure might be useful in that rare instance in which a young woman finds herself on a date with the twenty-first-century equivalent of Ted Bundy. But if that’s truly the case, then the “Owl Shot” will probably be inadequate. (The posters are right there for men to see, too, after all.)
This is something I’ve written about here before, of course: the wussification of American youth. I don’t necessarily blame the youngsters, mind you: They’ve been bred and raised to be Eloi, food for the Morlocks who lurk just beyond the reach of hovering parents and educators, or—in this case—officious bartenders in South Florida.
Granted, extraordinary situations do exist. Once in a while, an evil or deranged person starts a fire, or commits mass murder, or turns threatening on his date. But hyper-vigilant, preemptive measures like the “Owl Shot” send a message to young adults: Be afraid. Be very afraid. Always.
And then we wonder why so many members of Generation Z are suffering from chronic anxiety. They have been raised to be terrified of the world, almost since day one. Excepting some very extreme circumstances, an unpleasant date is a situation that two college-age adults should be able to navigate on their own, without secret intervention codes passed to the wait staff.
Nor is this a men’s rights thing. Let’s face it, some guys are dicks. But the Owl Shot, like our current obsession with #MeToo, and real or imagined sexual harassment, sends a very mixed message about feminism. On one hand, we’re told that women should lead men into combat, and should lead our nation. On the other hand, we’re told that women are chronic, hapless victims who can’t make it through a garden-variety date-from-hell without calling for help from the nearest bartender.
A college-aged Gen X woman, circa 1990, always knew how to deal with the boorish date: She would tell the guy to get lost, throw a drink in his face, or—if the circumstances were sufficiently extreme—knee him in the balls.
That last one, it stops a guy in his tracks every time, a lot more effectively than an Owl Shot. Sometimes the old school approach really is the best approach.
Some things will be changing here at Edward Trimnell Books in 2020. Other things will remain the same.
What will stay the same?
The fiction. I primarily write fiction, and I’ll continue to post novel excerpts and short stories here.
I may even serialize a complete novel here before the end of 2020.
What will change?
The blog. No—I don’t intend to stop blogging. You will, however, notice changes in the length, tone, and style of the blog posts in 2020.
We will still discuss current events. That said, there will be no effort here in 2020 to follow the daily news on a headline-by-headline basis.
This site isn’t Huffington Post. Nor is it Breitbart, Daily Kos, or Instapundit. Those are all group blogs. I’m one person, and this is a personal website.
What you’ll get here instead in 2020 will be a deeper perspective. That will, though, necessarily mean narrowing the focus, and letting some headlines go by.
A semi-autobiographical orientation
Many of this year’s essays will be semi-autobiographical.
No, this doesn’t mean that I’ll be telling you what I had for breakfast each morning (oatmeal and a protein shake today, just in case you do want to know.) But I’ll be adding more of a personal spin to the blog this year.
Some of you will like that—others may not.
Time and perspective
As I begin 2020, I am fifty-one years old.
Granted, that’s much younger than many people who remain in the public eye. Former President Jimmy Carter, at the age of 95, could easily be my grandfather, after all. President Trump, age 73, was born the same year as both my parents.
On the other hand, though, I’m old enough to be the father of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, age 30. (Not that I’d want to be, I should note, but I’m old enough). If you’re old enough to be the parent of a sitting congressperson, well, you’re no longer a kid, are you?
A half-century on the planet has taught me a lot of lessons.
Chief among these is the need for humility, and the corresponding pitfalls of taking oneself too seriously. When we are young, we see the world, and ourselves, in very black-and-white, absolutist terms. As we get older, we are forced to accept that real life—and real people—involve many shades of gray.
Sometimes we are tested and we come through. Sometimes we are tested and we come up short. I have made my share of mistakes. At least some of this year’s essays will detail how I screwed up—and how I would do things differently, if I had my life to live over again.
In many cases, it might be too late for me to change my circumstances. But it might not be too late for you. If that happens to be true, then it really will have been worthwhile for me to talk about myself.
I have also changed my mind on occasion, when the available evidence has changed. Politicians often say that their opinions have “evolved”—which usually means that their opinions on a particular issue have shifted to the left.
Well, not always. Sometimes my opinions have “evolved” to the left—but just as often they’ve “evolved” to the right. I’ll probably find time to delve into some of those about-faces, or subtle shifts of perspective, too.
Anyway, that’s a little bit about the new blog format for the New Year. Welcome to 2020. I hope it’s a happy, healthy, and productive 366 days for you.