Red Dog, the Book

I loved the movie Red Dog, and now I love the story Red Dog. My habit lately is to read a book and then watch the movie, but this time I watched the movie first and now finished reading the book. I enjoyed it twice.

Author Louis De Bernieres weaves a fascinating story about the traveling Red Dog of Australia. Locals dubbed him that because Red wandered thousands of miles around western Australia looking for his deceased master. As he traveled, he made friends people he met. He hitched rides on buses, in trucks, and with people in cars. The dog becomes your dog as you read the story, just as Red Dog became every Australian’s dog in real life. The story is fictionalized with human characters, but the events relating to the animal are true. The breed is a Red Cloud Kelpie or Australian cattle dog.

The town in which this story took place has built a bronze memorial to the dog which is still in place.

Watch the movie, read the book, or do both you won’t be sorry.

The movie has been altered from the book to include a more human element to the story, but overall it stays true to De Bernieres story. In the movie, a love story parallels the dog story, and the movie ending is different from that in the book. The end of the movie makes you sad but you feel good, the end of the book makes you sad.

Simple Amusements, Part Four-Yo-Yo

This is another way we spent time as kids. Today, if this guy showed up at a school yard, a SWAT Team would appear out of nowhere and take him out..

To see a very interesting demonstration of yo-yo tricks click on this link.

YO-YO MAN

           Recess and the lunch hour at Our Lady of Hungary School was special.  I was in sixth, seventh and eighth grades when the Duncan yo-yo Man visited.  He showed up at the small grocery store across the street from school, on the corner of 93rd and Kimbark.  There, he put on a show using Duncan Yo-Yo’s.  Duncan Yo-Yo’s are different from ordinary yo-yos’.  They are thin, and painted in special metallic colors.  When they spin, they look cool.  The yo-yo man had a model with four diamonds set in each wheel, all in a row.  When this yo-yo spun, it glistened.  The yo-yo man put on a show for us. He did all kinds of tricks with his yo-yo; “Walk the Dog,” “Around the World,” “Creeper,” and “Rock the Baby.”  He made these tricks look so easy that anyone could do them.  He spent one day at our school, then he moved to the next school, and put on the same show.  Meanwhile, we’d all want a Duncan yo-yo to play with.  Some kids would buy a yo-yo on the same day that the yo-yo man came. They used their lunch money. They showed off all the tricks they learned. The wise guys would even do a trick when we were in class. They did it when Sister wasn’t looking. The little family store on the corner, called Yurko’s, sold the yo-yos. Many kids bought them there.

The following week, the  yo-yo man showed up again with a fancier yo-yo. He had some new tricks too.  We learned that the secret of the yo-yo was in the type of string one used.  The strings wore out often from all the tricks. When a string broke, I’d run to Yurko’s to buy a new one. The official Duncan yo-yo string  cost a nickel.  It was a strong fine twine. They made it doubled up and twisted together to form the loop that went around the axle.  On the opposite end, a loop went around the finger.  If the string became twisted too tight, the yo-yo wouldn’t stay down.  It would just ride up and down the string.  To do the tricks, the yo-yo had to spin freely at the end of the string. It isn’t supposed to climb up until you gently jerk the string string.  It takes a while to learn how many twists are necessary to make the tricks happen.

After a couple of visits, by the yo-yo man, every kid in the school had one.  Some of my class mates already graduated to the top of the line model, with diamond studs. Within a few weeks, the yo-yo man disappeared until the following year.

America, the Un-Perfect Society

WOW! I just finished reading Mark Levin’s new book Ameritopia, The Unmaking of America. I will not sleep tonight. Visions of Big Brother will be racing through my mind. Those of you who know me realize that I am a Conservative who leans toward Libertarianism. You know that Ameritopia is just the kind of book I often read and report on.

Mark Levin has crafted a beautifully logical premise to support the direction “We the People” are being led in. He begins with Plato’s Republic moves on to Thomas More’s Utopia, Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan, and Marx’s Communist Manifesto,  and explains their various schemes for creating a Utopian (perfect) society where all men are equal in every way. In each case, in order for the philosophers to create such a society they needed a superior élite leadership. In each case, the inventor had a problem dealing with people who became seriously ill and did not fit anymore. One philosopher suggested a person who was unable should commit suicide for the good of the community. After educating the reader on the history of equal citizenry, Levin moves on to explain the impact of John Locke, Alexis de Tocqueville and Charles de Montesquieu, all philosophers, on the framers of the US Constitution. The men who drafted the Constitution were careful not to steer the new government toward Utopianism.

Mark puts the argument to bed by exposing the men who began to distort the US Constitution and point the country toward Utopia. These were men who believe the government should rule over the people and not the other way around. Guys like Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Bill Clinton, and now Obama are responsible for turning us into government dependents.

Although I found the early part of the book hard to read, it got easier as the author moved into more modern times. Levin presents a sound and logical argument for how our government is turning us into a utopian state. We are being spoon fed to become people who are dependent upon government for everything. Examples of these efforts are Social Security, Medicare, and Obama Care, all intended to free us from our responsibility, and to assume more power over us.

If Levin’s read on the history of Utopianism beginning in 380 BCE is correct, none of the scheme’s ever worked and there are huge reasons why they did not, nor ever will. Utopian societies depend on citizens who are happy to conform, and who like to be led by really special smart people.

Where is Glenn Beck when we need him?

Simple Amusements, Part Three-Radio

Dagwood has created a typical Dagwood sandwich...

Image via Wikipedia

EAR TO THE SPEAKER

Radio was a large part of my life.  It was my entry into the world of imagination.  Every day after school, I played outside, then came in just before supper to listen to my favorite radio programs.  The programs were soap operas for kids.  A story ran in daily segments Monday through Friday. Every day a chapter left the main character hanging in a situation covered in the next segment.

The programs I  listened to: The Lone Ranger, Sky King, Yukon King, The Green Hornet, and Gene Autry. After supper, the entire family listened to variety shows like Jack Benny, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Fred Allen, Fibber McGee and Molly, Blondie and Dagwood, and the Life of Reilly.  We also listened to a mystery show called  The Inner Sanctum. It began with the noise of a squeaking door that  ran shivers up my spine, and set my mind into mystery mode.

Mom didn’t like to hear the radio on loud, so I turned the volume down real low. It was so low that I had to put my ear on the speaker. I leaned against the Zenith console, closed my eyes and imagined the characters in the story acting out their parts. In my mind I saw the Lone Ranger on Silver, his big white horse. Tonto, his Indian sidekick rode next to him.  At the end of each episode, the Lone Ranger and Tonto rode off into the sunset and one of the characters always asked “who was that masked man?”

I visioned the Green Hornet opening the secret door in his house to get to the “Black Beauty.”  To me the “Black Beauty” is a 1939 Buick sedan. I saw Sky King flying a Cessna low wing plane.  I saw Sargent Preston mushing his lead dog King through the snow and cold of the Yukon. I laughed every time I heard Fibber McGee opening the door to his hall closet, and his junk fell out with a big cacophony of sounds. I could see the look of bewilderment on Riley’s face when he got into his weekly jam and uttered “what a revoltin’ development this is.”

The radio played a large part in my life by making my mind work creatively. It stimulated the imagination, and  I participated in the adventures.

Simple Amusements-Part Two

Ice Skating in Beijing

Image by IvanWalsh.com via Flickr

This is another story about the things we did as kids in the nineteen fifties to stay amused.

ICE SKATING

            Winter was always fun when we could get out to play.  When the snow came,  we spent our time making snow men, forts, or igloos.  We also tossed snowballs at each other. I have to confess that I never really finished an igloo.  The closest I came was to  build walls then put boards over the top to make a roof, and piled snow on top of the boards to make it look like an official igloo.

When the temperature dropped into the twenty’s, Father Horvath the pastor of Our Lady of Hungary parish, had the school yard flooded to make a skating area.  Kids came from all around to go skating.  I begged to borrow skates so I could join in.  Typically, the skates I used were too large for my feet, and my ankles bent out.  People told me that “my ankles aren’t strong enough.”  Years later, I learned that a loosely fit skate causes the ankle to bend. In order to keep ankles from bending out, the skate shoe must fit snugly.

Sometimes I had hockey-skates, sometimes figure-skates, but never racing-skates.  I fell in love with the idea of figure skating, and dreamed that I was a great figure skater. The truth is that I didn’t know where to start.  I read a lot of books about figure skating. Figure skaters use special skates with a curved blade.  Most of the time I owned hockey skates.

At recess, and at lunch time, the boys played ice hockey.  We used tree branches, and wooden poles for hockey-sticks. A rock served as a puck.  None of us knew the rules, we just knew that the object was to get the puck into the goal. The goal was an opening formed by two rocks spaced apart.  When it snowed on top of the ice, everyone ran home to get a shovel. We cleared the school yard. Sometimes the snow was heavy. If so, we cleared only a space large enough to play hockey.

The public school flooded their playgrounds too. They also had lights for night skating. I often went to Perry school to skate after dark.  Only the brave skated in the dark at Our Lady of Hungary. Seeing all the pot holes was too hard. Hitting a hole in the ice is sure to cause a fall, and ice is very hard, falling hurts.

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