The Butcher is Afraid He’s Sold Out

The Butcher is of the belief that there’s nothing flattering for the imitator. He thinks that if you obviously copy someone’s style, you are a sell-out.

I say that it’s not the same if you’re copying an artist that doesn’t actually exist. Then it becomes something bordering on genius. Especially when you consider that it’s a copy of a painting in the house of a fictional Bartholomew J. that will now hang in the house of a real Bartholomew J. and that, when we all first met the fictional Bart, my real Bart was that Bart’s same age.

In other words, I think it’s all kinds of fitting and funny that this is the piece the Butcher just finished up.



The Gun Nuts Ruin Crappy Television for Me

So, there I am watching Cold Case, which is one of those shows that one watches only so that one can properly enjoy the MadTV send-up of it, when all of a sudden it dawns on me that this particular episode is strangely biased against guns and violent video games.

You know how it came out a couple of years ago that the government had some kind of arrangement with Television that, if shows had a sufficient anti-drug message, they’d reap some governmental benefit?  I don’t remember the particulars, just that the government was encouraging shows to subtly preach that drugs are bad.

Watching this show last night?

I’ve begun to suspect that there may be a similar program against guns, if not also violent video games.

The premise of the episode was that there was a mall shooting, similar to Columbine, in which two deranged kids opened fire on a mall full of people, killing some number of them before killing themselves.  A video tape of the shooting appears after a number of years and it becomes clear that there was third person involved in the shootings in some regard, because the killers pass the camera off to that person before they start shooting.

It turns out that, right before the shooting, the local jocks gang-raped a girl and she was the one who encouraged the murderous kids to pick that day, of all days, to start their rampage.

The big plot hole being that they came to the mall with knapsacks full of guns.  Did they carry their arsenal with them every place, just in case one day they’d meet a girl who encouraged them to start shooting?  Did they plan on committing the murders that day and she just happened to coincidentally also be in a situation where she’d like them to start shooting?

I don’t know.  It was a big enough problem with the plot that I kind of couldn’t get past it. 

But so, the police go to interview the parents of one of the shooters and the whole point of the interview seems to be so that the police can make all kinds of snarky, judgmental comments about how come he needs such high-powered weaponry.  Now, if the police had wanted to make snarky, judgmental comments about how he’s a shitty gun owner for not noticing that his son seems to be carrying said weapons around with him 24/7, I’d be with them.

But this kind of gratuitous "If you’re such a good person, why do you own guns like that?" tone?  It just seemed weird.

And then, at the end of the episode, the girl who was the "trigger" for the killings goes to the mall with a gun and threatens to kill herself because she deserves to be punished, at which point, the main character has to go and deliver a heart-felt speech about how guns never just punish the person they’re aimed at, but punish all kinds of innocent bystanders.

All the while, mind you, the main character is armed and both characters are surrounded by an armed SWAT team.  It was really as if the moral of the show was that good people don’t need guns–only bad guys and the people supposed to protect us from bad guys need them.

Which, maybe even is also fine, as far as morals go, if you like your TV shows with morals.

But the thing is that the whole show seemed to be some meditation on just who’s to blame when something like this happens and the conclusion the show seems to come to is that the blame always exists outside the person.  

Why did those two kids open fire on a crowded mall?  According to the show, it’s because they had access to guns, because they played violent video games, because some girl told them to, because the jocks picked on them, because other people said they said they wanted to be famous etc. etc.  But the thing is that we never get to see what motivates them internally.  Were they crazy?  Angry?  Who knows?

And all the solutions that the show toys with seem then really hollow.  Would these kids have done that if they hadn’t had easy access to guns?  Would they have found some other way to wreck havoc?  Who knows?  They seemed deliberately indecipherable, which left the blame to be put on everyone but them.

I’m all for collectivity, in a lot of respects.  But this aspect of it troubles me deeply.  People are responsible for their own actions.  We can understand a lot about why they chose those actions and not others based on their circumstances, and, because of that understanding, we can and, I think, often, should feel some measure of sympathy for how they ended up doing what they did and should work to help other folks not end up in those circumstances.

But at the end of the day, each person must be responsible for his or her own actions.  It’s trite when the NRA says it, but it’s true.  If I deliberately aim a gun at you and pull the trigger, it is not, ultimately, the gun’s fault that I shot you. 

 It bothers me to see television shows devoted to proving otherwise.

Aunt B.’s Civil War Battlefield

The cool thing about where we live, is that we live right on top of the Battle of Nashville Battlefield. Unlike most major Civil War battlefields, this one was not preserved. There are no vast open swaths of fields, dotted only with monuments to fallen soldiers for people to come and look at in order to get a sense of what happened here.

There’s no visitor’s center with helpful park rangers to sit you in a movie and give you insights into the landscape.

You have to drive around neighborhoods and try to imagine what it must have been like in 1864.

Or you can look out in my back yard and imagine the Union’s front line camped out along the railroad tracks out back.

Here’s the Battle of Nashville Preservation Society’s map . If you find Harding Pike and then look north and find the railroad tracks. You’ll see two jagged lines representing the two lines of Union forces. The one farthest west is the one that concerns us. And where the jagged line and the railroad tracks intersect?

That’s where I live!

Every day, I can look out my back yard and onto a little bit of history.