Archive for January 2020

Seems to me, our society collectively complains about how the quality of our discourse has devolved while also avoiding even talking about potential solutions. Some seem just as legalistically obsessed with the First Amendment being a hard-stop to even common-sense standards of decency as they, or perhaps others, are about the Second Amendment. Just as you can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater where there is no fire or danger, you also cannot threaten to attack someone merely to silence their opinion or prevent them from raising their voice. Here we are, though, living in a society where harassment is accepted with a shrug and bullying is almost praised when it is an effective tactic. The situation is deplorable, but we have learned in recent years that using that particular term to denounce horrible misbehavior doesn't seem generate appropriate attention toward the problem. 

I would humbly suggest that we have the tools, the technology, to address this issue. Despite our discomfort about law enforcement overreach and spying on citizens, it is possible to identify the people chasing families off their phones and out of their homes. The time is coming when such investigations may be crucial, if it is not already too late. I recommend prison time and heavy fines for the offenders, too. Unfortunately, it's hard to find better, more nuanced answers at this time. We are, after all, at the start of a national election year in the United States. Safe to say this situation is going to get worse before it gets better.

Different Drummer: Sarah Bessey

A Cold Night's Death poster

I believe my all-time favorite in the ABC Movie Of The Week series is A Cold Night’s Death from 1973. I don’t pretend that it deserves a place in history with Duel or Brian’s Song. It’s just my favorite.

The plot brings together elements of science fiction, horror, adventure, and mystery. At the same time, it is a character study that makes full use of props and location. If this short plot summary sounds familiar, you may have seen the film re-aired as “Chill Factor.”

Robert Culp and Eli Wallach star as virtually the only actors in the 74-minute film. They are research scientists sent to a remote mountaintop laboratory to study the impact of high altitude on primates, in support of space exploration. Leaders of the program have lost contact with the scientist on site, and part of the mystery is resolving what happened to him.

The plot kept me guessing and on the edge of my seat at age 8. That is less true now, and not because I remembered the story. It is an excellent example of the journey being more important than the destination.

Culp was the star on the TV series “I Spy” and would later appear regularly on “The Greatest American Hero.” He’s never been better than this 1973 movie of the week, though. It’s harder to make the same claim for Wallach, who will always be remembered for roles in films like 12 Angry Men, The Magnificent Seven, and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

A small cast helped control costs on a tiny TV budget. This is not a Hollywood film, in the purest sense, and it is even lower in budget than most independent films today. Still, A Cold Night’s Death was shot on 35mm film rather than videotape and several scenes are on location in the White Mountains of California.

More than anything else, this 47-year-old movie shows what can be done with limited resources when characters and actors are given room to drive a story. On re-watching, some moments reminded me of The Shining (1980) and The Thing (1982) and the earlier film pales in comparison to those classic thrillers. It is noteworthy that A Cold Night’s Death came earlier.

I believe there are several films in the ABC Movie Of The Week series that are worth a second look today. It aggravates me to think of how few are available either in re-run, videotape or DVD.

For all the better-known examples in the series, though, A Cold Night’s Death is my favorite. Yes, over Steven Spielberg’s Duel or pilots for future TV shows like “The Night Stalker” and “Starsky And Hutch.”

 

Made For TV Program Direction is a Facebook group focusing on recollections of old TV movies and shows like this one.

With the second Senate impeachment trial of my lifetime scheduled to start any day now, I've chosen to schedule this TalkBack episode in advance for future release. That's a risky move. Who knows what might happen between now and then? To me, that's one of the challenges of dealing with current events on a podcast intended to be more evergreen than the news of the day. And the impeachment covered in this podcast is more than 20 years old now!

http://www.inappropriateconversations.org/e/40-other-high-crimes/

 

From an endgame perspective, the so-called "war on drugs" was never intended to generate the equivalent of permanent prisoners of war in the form of mass incarceration, but that is probably the true face of the political strategy that seemed to directly target my generation. The focus came after the Summer Of Love crowd, hitting instead the younger brothers, sisters, and cousins. It's hard to cite any wins because "Just Say No" as a campaign was far more about the image than the results, pure style over substance. Perhaps it was only about winning electoral strategies. I say this because I first had to resist this facile nonsense before I could commit myself to truly resisting any temptations to "experiment" with drugs. 

Yes, "temptations" is plural. This issue was never so simple that "just say no" was credible advice. And that was just part of the problem that persists today. Other parts include the false equivocation about the relative dangers of different substances, and whether keeping people alive long enough to get the help they truly need was ever among the goals (hint: evidence suggests it was not).

http://www.inappropriateconversations.org/e/15-declaring-war-on-%e2%80%98just-say-no%e2%80%99/

 

To our shame, our society still tends to teach women to separate themselves from their sexuality, treating pleasure as something regrettable while looking the other way with a "boys will be boys" shrug about men pursuing pleasure. Even within committed relationships, this has unfortunate and unnecessary consequences. Wise women have spoken against this, and their counsel is well worth considering.

Different Drummer: Ruth K. Westheimer

 

Considering how prominent sex is on the logo for Inappropriate Conversations, I haven't touched that topic as often as I could. I may explore some reasons why in the next Inappropriate Conversations recording for #IC #222. We'll see. In the meantime, this past episode from 2010 provides valuable background information, recalling a time when the church taking sex education seriously did not have anything to do with protesting, banning, or undermining it.

http://www.inappropriateconversations.org/e/14-sex-education-the-protestant-way-then-not-now/

Happy 2020!


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