History repeating itself (again)?

I just viewed the television film, “Louis XVI, the man who did not want to be King.”

Louis was only twenty when he found himself the unwilling king of France. Immature, anti-social and awkward, he is at a loss at what to do. He relies on a succession of advisers, who pull Louis to and fro in confusion, while at the same time other factions are determined to profit from his lack of acumen.

All through this film I continued to think of how closely it parallels our economic and political problems in the United States today.

We have a leader who clearly wants to do the right thing by his people. Yet he sometimes appears indecisive, conciliatory, and continues to change counsel. He is faced with a parliament (congress) that stubbornly rejects everything and anything he wants to accomplish, and an increasingly frustrated and unhappy public,effectively demonstrated by our messy Occupy Wall Street manifestations throughout the country. And while our president should not be blamed for all our problems, it is upon his shoulders that the blame ultimately falls.

We have the tea party idea so neatly expressed in the picture, that there are three groups, or estates. The first estate is the church. All the high ranking clergy belongs to the nobility which is convenient. This estate is important and necessary in that the clergy is necessary to crown a monarch and also to pray for the monarchy. That is the church’s contribution to the welfare of the country.  The nobility (read the rich), comprise the second estate and their value is in that they oversee the welfare of the country. It is the third estate, the rest of us,whose beholden duty it is to support the first two estates through our loyalty, our labor, our taxes and our donations.

France’s financial situation at the time is so bad that, in searching for more income, someone actually mentions the heretical idea of taxing the church. Taxing the church is immediately cast aside as too ridiculous for serious consideration. That leaves the princes of blood (the rich) and the working class. The nobility isn’t about to give up any of its income or power. Ridiculous idea. They are God’s chosen leaders.The way the system is set up is.the natural order of things. That’s God’s plan. That leaves the working classes, if they can find work.

And lastly, as the picture points out, the court at Versailles lives in a bubble, completely isolated from the reality of the world around it. Our representatives and senators appear to be living in the same sort of impregnable bubble. They will not or cannot hear the voice of the public. When an adviser points out to the king the excess of one prince who used over 160 horses for a little personal visit to the countryside, the king can only say, “But we have over 2,000”.

The man who did not want to be king is a beautifully produced film, well told and beautifully photographed. If I’m allowed one little complaint, I personally felt Louis was a little on the thin side. I always picture him as a bit on the chubby side. (Think my personal favorite, Robert Morley). Besides, although I won’t mention his name, Louis XVI looks a great deal like a popular American comic (to me at least.).

Louis’ weakness and lack of self-confidence, however, are well-expressed in his facial and body language, as well as in his speech.

King Louis XVI found himself in the unfortunate position of being at a total loss in his new position. Indecisive and insecure, he allowed himself to be pushed and pulled from every side, a matter of too many cooks in the kitchen. The cooks came and went while the country simply went.


Famous Cowboys (And the Horses they rode in on)

Below are some famous cowboys, but I’ve mixed up the names of their horses. Can you straighten this out?

Answers below in the comments section.

Tom Mix :  White Flash

Lucky Luke : Silver

Gene Autry : Trigger

Buck Jones : Topper

Tex Ritter: Champion

Roy Rogers : Silver

Tex Ritter : Jolly Jumper

Hopalong Cassidy : Silver

The Lone Ranger : Tony

“Reality” TV

I never expected to say this, but I’ve reached the point where I’d rather watch television commercials than the programming in between.
The commercials strive to be entertaining. Sometimes funny, sometimes not so funny. Sometimes they’re even educational and sometimes irritating, but always they have a structure.

“Reality” shows have no structure. We’re insulted by the very name “reality”. They’re amateurishly contrived. It should be obvious that people can’t be “real” with a cameraman following them around while a director is encouraging them to get in a little drama. They even have writers feeding lines to these participants because these poor exploited people are so overwhelmed at being on TV that they can no longer think on their own. Of course, maybe they never could.
Reality television brings out the very worst people and the very worst in people (producers and participants alike), and that can get pretty bad. They also love to focus on sexual matters to excite viewers’ most prurient interests
Some years ago Jerry Springer appeared in a movie about his own talk show. The movie took pains to show what people will do to get on TV. I think that movie was right on the mark. But enough kudos for Mr. Springer and the others with their shabby afternoon shows.
Can you imagine actually wanting to appear on network television to expose the fact that you aren’t sure which of three men is the father of your child? Can you imagine people not only willing, but eager to exploit this sort of behavior? Who would be so lame as to cheerfully appear on national television and admit that he molested his girlfriend’s little girls?
People who should be dreadfully ashamed of their secret activities or people who in the old days might show up in the freak shows at the circus, now flaunt their oddball antics on TV. The more oddball and reprehensible their antics, the better their chances of getting a show of their own.
We have hoarders of objects, hoarders of animals, grotesquely over-sized families, tiny dwarf families. We have country singers who, unlike most of us happy-go-lucky citizens, suffer abusive childhoods, difficult strained relationships and face daily challenges that would destroy the average person, yet somehow in the face of all this tribulation they manage to keep their guitars tuned up and their chins held high. We have mob families, bounty hunter families that look like, and could possibly be members of mob families themselves. We can visit wild adventurous pawn shops where there’s more action than in a Die Hard flick. We have riotous roadhouses, medical wonders and so on ad nauseam. One feature common to most of these programs is they have a loveable (they apparently think) tough old guy or gal, and of course they feature lots of crying. Lots and lots of crying because life is tough.
It’s really hard for me to believe that the average American finds this sort of programming entertaining. There’s no beginning, no end, and no middle. Just a camera following a bunch of people around and a director getting them into situations they’d probably never get into in real life. We even have a nut case advocating polygamy on TV now. I hear that next season he’ll announce to his “wives” that he’s just been anointed a prophet and will henceforth be known as Bring’em Young.
I realize situation comedies and a lot of the other programming over the years have been in for plenty of sarcasm, but at least we know they’re just entertainment and don’t pretend to be “real”. They don’t make your skin crawl or your blood boil. All they strive to do is give you a few laughs or a little mystery to occupy your idle moments.
I’ve come to the firm conclusion that to be normal is abnormal.
Oh, excuse me. I had a lot more to say but my favorite Geico commercial is coming on.

The Man with a Stethoscope

You’ve seen them many many times. You’re barely five minutes into a TV program when it stops and out comes a doctor. You know he’s a doctor because he has a stethoscope hanging around his neck.  He proceeds to tell you about a problem you may or may not have and then goes on to explain that he always recommends Product CureAll to his patients.

Okay, think back. Have you ever in your life seen a doctor in an office, in a hospital, or in an emergency room or a McDonald’s walking around with a stethoscope dangling from his neck?

I haven’t. And believe me, I’ve seen more hospitals and doctors’ offices than I ever wanted to see.

And then comes the part that really gets to me. The TV doctor points out that Product CureAll has been clinically proven to be more effective than Product NotQuiteCureAll. These days, everything you pick up at Walgreen’s has been clinically proven to be effective. Not only has it been clinically proven, but nine out of ten doctors recommend it over that (ugh) other brand. Interestingly enough, Product NotQuiteCureAll (that ugh other brand), has also been clinically proven to be better that Product CureAll, which incidentally makes the same claims. For the past ten years both have also been America’s most highly recommended product. We don’t know who the America who recommends these products is, but  America highly recommends them.

Then very probably some of the doctor’s  actual patients will step forward and tell you how wonderful Product CureAll is, how it has changed their lives, saved them money, made them healthier, happier, sexier, saved their marriages and made them younger looking to boot. You may even see before and after pictures. I know they used to say pictures don’t lie, but if you’ve seen a movie during your lifetime, you know that just isn’t so. By now of course you’ve forgotten what you were watching on TV. But that’s okay.  It was pretty lame anyway.

Understand, I’m not complaining about advertising. I realize that for TV shows to be produced, someone has to fork over some money. My complaint is that the advertisers clearly direct their commercials toward an audience with the education and innocence of a twelve-year old kid from the country.

So if you see a man wearing a stethoscope, run like hell because you know he’s not really a doctor at all; he’s a snake oil salesman.

And don’t even get me started on how I can save $500 a year by switching auto insurance companies.

This jeremiad has been clinically proven to be accurate, but that’s what they said about  my $10 watch —

I’m C. M. Albrecht and I approved this message. I’m not running for anything. I’m actually running from — from my creditors

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