Saturday, March 10, 2018

Disney’s ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ Erases Book’s Bible Quotes, Cuts Jesus, Christian Figures From History

March 8, 2018

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As Disney adapted the beloved children's book "A Wrinkle in Time" (1962) into a major motion picture — with no less than Oprah Winfrey on the star-studded cast list — the studio cut out a great deal along the way. Bible quotes, a reference to Jesus, and even Christian historical figures all got the boot. Could the excising of God help explain why the movie is projected to struggle at the box office?

In the transition from book to movie, many aspects get left on the cutting-room floor. Even so, these omissions proved particularly egregious, partially because they involved rewriting history.

The battle between good and evil (light and darkness) forms a central theme in "A Wrinkle in Time," and both book and film mention many historical figures who fought the darkness on behalf of the light. Disney seemed zealous to excise any hint of Christianity from the film, going so far as to cut even historic artists mentioned by Madeleine L'Engle, the book's author.

"All through the universe it's being fought, all through the cosmos, and my, but it's a grand and exciting battle," Mrs Whatsit (played by Reese Witherspoon. And no, the Mrs with no period is not a typo, but L'Engle's style) says in the book version. When Calvin (Levi Miller), the love interest and friend of the main character Meg (Storm Reid), asks, "Who have our fighters been?" Mrs Whatsit insists he name some himself.

At this point, Mrs Who (Mindy Kaling) quotes from the Gospel of John, "And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not" (John 1:5).

Immediately, Meg's unnaturally brilliant brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) declares, "Jesus! Why of course, Jesus!" Mrs Whatsit immediately confirms this — "Of course!"
The Christian references barely began there, however. Calvin goes on to note Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, French theologian Albert Schweitzer, Ludwig van Beethoven, Rembrandt van Rijn, and St. Francis. Charles Wallace mentions William Shakespeare, Johann Sebastian Bach, Louis Pasteur, and others. For her part, Meg brings up Euclid and Nicolaus Copernicus.

Towards the end of the Disney version, the audience gets a much-truncated list: Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Jane Austen, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Maya Angelou. To be fair, Einstein, Curie, and Gandhi were in the original book's list.

Notice the excising of history here. Every figure even partially associated with Europe and Christianity — even great artists like da Vinci, Michelangelo, Beethoven, Rembrandt, and Bach — were cut. Jesus, St. Francis, and Copernicus were also erased, despite their huge impact on history and L'Engle's insistence that they were historically important. The author Jane Austen and the Civil Rights activists Mandela and Angelou may be laudable, but these characters pale in comparison, and the switch (which only adds two when removing twelve) cheapens the richness of "A Wrinkle in Time."

L'Engle's referencing and quoting of scripture did not end with John 1:5, however. Early in the story, Mrs. Murry (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), mother to Meg and Charles Wallace, recalls reading to Charles Wallace as he went to bed. What did she read? "Genesis, his choice."

On the planet Uriel, creatures dance and sing. While Meg can't make it out at first, she later hears, "Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof. Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift their voice; let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory unto the Lord!"

In this passage, L'Engle has translated Isaiah 42:10-13 into a child-friendly version without historical references to Kedar. What's more, Meg emotionally resonates with this song.

"Throughout her entire body Meg felt a pulse of joy such as she had never known before. Calvin's hand reached out; he did not clasp her hand in his; he moved his fingers so that they were barely touching hers, but joy flowed through them, back and forth between them, around them and about them and inside them," L'Engle wrote.

The Disney film pulses with this sense of joy and wonder everywhere, but it has cut out the center of this joy — removing the Bible references, the worship, and the theological and historical riches of L'Engle's book.

The story centers around Meg's search for her missing father (Chris Pine). At one point, her father quotes scripture to her. "We were sent here for something. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God and to them who are the called according to his purpose," her father says, quoting Romans 8:28.

Another theme runs throughout L'Engle's book and the film. Mrs Whatsit gives Meg "the gift of your faults," and Meg learns to embrace herself and reject the dark power's temptation to envy. A chapter in L'Engle's book is called "The Foolish and the Weak," and that chapter quotes yet another Bible reference.

Mrs Who urges Meg, "Listen, Meg. Listen well. The foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called, but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are." (I Corinthians 1:25-28)

This powerful lesson of God giving strength to things that are weak and dismissed by the world pulses through "A Wrinkle in Time." Throughout the story, Meg is an outcast, mocked by her classmates and seemingly rejected by her father. In the end, she becomes far more important than she could imagine.

Without the Bible grounding of the deep themes in "A Wrinkle in Time," the fantasy novel becomes a coming-of-age tale about embracing yourself, rather than trusting a power greater than yourself. When Disney excises God from the equation, the spiritual elements give way to a worship of self.

The movie focuses on "the universe," a word which seems at first to replace the wonder and worship directed to God in the original book. "What if the universe is all inside each of us?" asks Mrs Which (Oprah Winfrey). She later tells Meg, "I am a part of the universe, just like you, Meg."

When Meg struggles with the quasi-magical way main characters travel through space — called "tessering" — one of the Mrs tells her she won't tesser well "until you become one with the universe and yourself."

This New Age language about being "part of the universe," having the universe "inside each of us," and becoming "one with the universe and yourself" proves a flimsy replacement for L'Engle's bold references to God and moving quotes from the Bible.

Without this depth, "A Wrinkle in Time" becomes an empty shell of New Age self-worship. The family themes of searching for a missing father and the growth of brother and sister together still have strong emotional resonance, but the film mostly meanders from place to place, vaguely moving across this "universe" in a tragically aimless fashion.

The actors performed well (especially Deric McCabe as Charles Wallace), the cinematography proved bright and arresting, but the movie fell oddly flat, leaving more questions than answers. "A Wrinkle in Time" is expected to debut at second place at the box office, behind "Black Panther." On a side note, an actress reported that actors were "testifying about God's miracles" on the set of "Black Panther."

As it turns out, the New Age spirituality does not adequately replace L'Engle's vision, and stories really do have more power when they are inspired by God.

Watch the trailer below.

Friday, March 09, 2018

The Growing Attack on Boys

Boyhood is not a disease that needs to be cured

March 9, 2018

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This week’s International Women’s Day came and went, as it tends to do, with great media fanfare. The day, originally cooked up at the 1910 International Women’s Socialist Conference, rolled in with triumphant declarations of girl power, repeated celebrations of women in STEM jobs — paired with a host of obligatory reminders that there are simply not enough of them — and impassioned pleadings for greater female representation in things such as farcical cartoons featuring the secret lives of high-school ninjas on Mars.
Across its websites, McDonald’s turned its world-famous arches upside down to form a “W,” which stands for “What’s really in the McRib, anyway?” Just kidding. You know what it stands for: Women! Not to be outdone, Kim Kardashian, a person who is still famous, cheerily promoted a brand-spanking-new line of KIMOJIs — these are custom-crafted Kardashian emojis, which I did not know existed until this very moment — with a “feminist” edge. Two feature naked people, one references abortion, and another reads “The future is NASTY NASTY NASTY.”
In short, in our culture, International Women’s Day was pretty much like any other day. In America, cheers for women abound. Girls are often praised, in fact, just for being girls. They’ve been long oppressed, we’re told; we need to eternally shore them up. “Girls today are told that they can do anything, be anyone,” actor Michael Ian Black recently wrote in a must-discussed New York Times op-ed.
They’ve absorbed the message: They’re outperforming boys in school at every level. But it isn’t just about performance. To be a girl today is to be the beneficiary of decades of conversation about the complexities of womanhood, its many forms and expressions.
For boys, it’s a dramatically different story. The title of Black’s op-ed, in case you’re wondering, is “The Boys Are Not All Right.”
If you’re a parent to multiple boys in this day and age, perhaps you know the drill: Every once in a while, a friendly-yet-awestruck stranger will approach and publicly note the apparently terrifying gender of your children. It happens more often than you might think. On planes. In restaurants. At Target. “Oh, my goodness! You have all boys? ALL BOYS? I’m so sorry!” Insert a pause, a dramatic gasp, and a knowing/troubled look here. The weirdest part comes when they stand and wait for you to agree.
“Boys are fantastic,” I usually say, moving right along. Alas, not everyone thinks so.
“It’s tempting to believe that boys are not ‘hardwired’ to care about feelings or friendship,” notes a recent New York magazine piece, part of a larger and questionable chin-stroking series called “How to Raise a Boy.” Really? Who finds this belief tempting, and has that person ever interacted with a real live boy? Further in the piece, we are told that boys need forced female friendship to curb their aggressive instincts, and that “by the end of elementary school,” boys are “starting to sexually objectify girls.” In other words, by going through puberty, they’re automatically oppressing women. Ah. Okay.
“The power white American boys have been taught to seize for generations comes from the already powerless, women, people of color, everyone who isn’t us,” notes another piece in the “How to Raise a Boy” series, written by a man. “Which is why, in a macro sense, the lessening power of men (straight and white particularly) is an unquestioned societal good. When others rise, we must fall.” I could point out that this is an almost flawless example of Milton Friedman’s fixed-pie fallacy — the mistaken assumption that “one party can gain only at the expense of another.” Ideally, we should work together to grow the proverbial pie and lift all proverbial pie-stocked ships, but hey, why bother? That’s apparently no fun at all.
“Teenage boys and men are almost entirely the bad actors in certain crises the nation is facing, like mass shootings and sexual harassment,” noted a recent New York Times piece, detailing a growing American parental “bias against boys.” Michael Thompson, a “psychologist who studies the development of boys,” told the Times that “there is now a subtle fear of boys and the trouble they might bring.”
One of those fears, according to “The Drugging of the American Boy,” a 2014 Esquireinvestigation by Ryan D’Agostino, is attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) — a fear that is leading perfectly normal and active boys to be drugged in potentially harmful ways. “By high school, nearly 20 percent of all boys will have been diagnosed with ADHD — a 37 percent increase since 2003,” the report noted. Among the kids diagnosed with ADHD “are a significant percentage of boys who are swallowing pills every day for a disorder they don’t have.”
For many, the “disorder” involves simply acting like a boy: “We are pathologizing boyhood,” psychiatrist Ned Hallowell told D’Agostino. In an age of increasing gender-related anxiety, this seems to be true in more ways than one.


A review of Roger Scruton's "Fools, Frauds and Firebrands."

March 9, 2018

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How did we arrive at a world where the New York Times and other prominent mass media extol leaders of the brutal North Korean regime at the Olympics?  The answer is that our current mainstream journalists and educational establishment are largely the ideological offspring of the European and American thinkers of the New Left.
Thanks to Roger Scruton’s book Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left, I can now better understand my own experiences of contemporary academia.  Until fifteen years ago I devoted a lot of effort to promoting critical thinking in higher education in Japan and Asia.  Then I came up against widespread resistance among academics to the inculcation of rationality and eventually gave up on many of those efforts, mystified by the current ascendency of relativistic thinking in the university world.  Even more puzzling has been the emergence of Marxist thought among evangelical intellectuals like Tim Keller.
A conservative British philosopher and prolific writer, Roger Scruton does a superb job of explaining how this state of affairs came about.  He probes the writings of many influential European and American New Left thinkers, such as Sartre, Said, Foucault, Adorno, Derrida, Rorty, and Zizek.  Rather than trying to cover his analysis of these writers in detail, this review will bring out some prominent themes of the whole book that impressed me, including some representative quotes.
To begin with, the New Left thinkers clearly revealed their hostility to ordinary people and their traditions.  Like the older Marxists before them, they demonized the bourgeoisie, which basically means middle-class people.  Only industrial laborers and leftist intellectuals escape this broad condemnation. 
That stance helps account for the apathy of these intellectuals toward the atrocities carried out by leftist leaders like Stalin and Pol Pot.  For instance, the French Maoist Badiou made light of the damage caused by China’s Cultural Revolution.  Scruton comments that Badiou “expresses a kind of dismissive contempt towards the many Chinese people who had the impertinence to cherish their traditional culture at a time when the French intellectuals had, in their ignorance, waved that culture to extinction.”  That disdain usually also applied to bourgeois ideas like human rights.
Hostility to normal people went hand-in-hand with a rejection of their way of thinking, meaning common-sense rationality.  The leftist intellectuals espoused a relativist view of truth and condemned rationality as a tool of dominance.  Scruton’s analysis made me realize that the anti-rational stance of thinkers like Michel Foucault is not really a bug but a feature, from their point of view.  Relativism makes it impossible to subject leftist ideology to critical analysis.  Therefore, critics cannot come at them with the power of truth and argument.  This seems to be a tacit admission that leftist ideology can no longer bear any close scrutiny.
After all, the disasters visited on many societies by leftist ideologues during the last century have made it extremely difficult to mount a compelling rational case for leftism.  As a result, the best course available is to portray rational thought as a conspiracy to oppress people.  As Scruton puts it, “nonsense is much to be preferred to sense.  For it builds a way of life around something that cannot be questioned.”  In the place of clear, coherent argumentation, Scruton finds modern leftist intellectuals engaging in name-calling and psychological censure (impugning twisted motives to opponents) -- tactics very familiar to all of us these days.
This cavalier attitude to truth has led to astonishing instances of intellectual dishonesty, such as the widespread embrace of Edward Said among the leftist intelligentsia.  Said’s writings are full of misrepresentations intended to discredit well-established, significant scholars of Islam, like Bernard Lewis, whom Said dismissed as bigots guilty of “othering” Eastern peoples.  However, Said was really guilty of greater intellectual wrongdoing than they were, since he lied about himself and historical facts.  For instance, he claimed to have been raised in Palestine when in fact he grew up in a wealthy family in Egypt.
None of that mattered, since Said’s condemnations were in line with the agenda of leftist academics.  Scruton explains:
The principal reason for Said’s popularity in our universities is that he provided ammunition against the West.  Many of those appointed as the guardians of Western culture will seize on any argument, however flawed, and any scholarship, however phony, in order to denigrate their cultural inheritance.  We have entered a period of cultural suicide. . .
Even here in Japan, I encounter academics who venerate Said.  Some years ago a documentary film lionizing him was shown on our campus, and I attended a literature conference last year in Kobe where one presentation glorified him.
Because of the convoluted, irrational theorizing of these New Left intellectuals, I found the book rough going in places.  They often throw out terms like “social justice” without really defining what it means.  By using such suggestive but unclear terms, they conjured up vague utopian hopes but failed to offer any concrete, realistic plans for the future. 
In fact, a number of them openly declared that an unattainable utopia is morally superior to anything concrete.  Scruton wryly notes that “when, in the writings of Adorno, I discover that the alternative to the capitalist system is utopia I congratulate the writer for his honesty, since that is another way of saying that there is no alternative.”  Scruton’s humorous and insightful comments illuminate their confusing, often incoherent theorizing.  Yet despite the combative tone of the book’s title, Scruton also sometimes expresses appreciation for insights in the works of some of these thinkers.
The most invidious aspect of the New Left thinkers may be their determination to destroy all perceived obstacles to utopia, which masquerades as a quest for equality: “The goal is not equality or liberty conceived in the qualified sense that you or I would understand those terms.  It is absolute equality (with a bit of liberty thrown in if you are lucky), which can by its nature be achieved only by an act of total destruction.”
Demolishing statues and setting fire to vehicles have become present-day enactments of the nihilistic direction of New Left thought.  Observing the quasi-religious devotion of our current crop of activists, Scruton memorably remarks, “A blind faith drags radical leftists from ‘struggle’ to ‘struggle’, reassuring them that everything done in the name of equality is well done and that all destruction of existing power will lead towards the goal.”
Leftist thinkers regularly blame the bourgeoisie and capitalism for problems that are simply the results of human moral frailty, such as materialism and reducing people to commodities.  More insightfully, Judeo-Christian thinking has always attributed the evils of consumerism to idolatry (the worship of things) and original sin (mankind’s inborn inclination to evil), as Scruton rightly points out.
Despite its occasional difficulty, Scruton’s book is well worth reading.  It shows what happens when utopian fantasy triumphs over human reality.  But then, we can see the same thing at our universities and in our mass media every day.
Bruce W. Davidson is a professor at Hokusei Gakuen University in Sapporo, Japan and a contributor to The Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia.
Roger Scruton and the New Left-
Catching Up With Roger Scruton-

Take your kids out of class: Tucker Carlson and Jordan Peterson discuss the decline of masculinity

By Dorothy Cummings McLean
March 8, 2018
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NEW YORK CITY, March 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — American men are in serious trouble, but few people seem to care.
That was Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s theme last night when he introduced a new series for his show called “Men in America.” It will air on Fox on Wednesdays in March.
In a stirring monologue, Carlson laid out statistics, ranging from lifespan to addictions to incarceration to unemployment to wages, that prove that it is boys and men--not girls and women--who are seriously disadvantaged in the USA today.  
“American men are failing, in body, mind and spirit. This is a crisis. Yet our leaders pretend it’s not happening,” Carlson said. “They tell us the opposite is true: Women are victims, men are oppressors. To question that assumption is to risk punishment.”  
“Our politicians and business leaders internalize and amplify that message,” he continued. “Men are privileged. Women are oppressed. Hire and promote and reward accordingly.”
“That would be fine if it were true. But it’s not true. At best, it’s an outdated view of an America that no longer exists. At worst, it’s a pernicious lie.”
Dr Jordan Peterson, author of the bestselling 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, told Carlson that there is a “directed policy” to emphasize that there is something wrong with masculinity and it should be limited in “all sorts of arbitrary ways.”
“The fact that male behaviour is often diagnosed as Attention Deficit Disorder is a manifestation of that,” he said.
Carlson asked Peterson why people would want to deemphasize or punish masculinity.
“Because it’s easy to mistake masculine competence for the tyranny that hypothetically drives the patriarchy,” the psychologist replied. “It’s part of an ideological worldview that sees the entire history of mankind as the oppression of women by men, which is a dreadful way of looking at the world.”
Peterson underscored that human history has been a cooperative endeavor between men and women and that to describe it as “centuries of oppression of women” is “an absolutely reprehensible ideological rewrite of history.”
This dystopian vision is taught as “unassailable fact” in universities and, increasingly, the public school system, demoralizing boys and young men.
Peterson advised parents to encourage their sons, that is, to instill courage in them, to teach them to be competent and to rely on themselves “to prevail, even in the darkest of circumstances.”
He had even more specific advice for parents regarding their children’s education.
“If you have your children in a school, and [teachers] talk about equity in class--equity, diversity, white privilege, systemic racism, any of that--you take your children out of that class,” Peterson said. “They’re not being educated; they’re being indoctrinated. And there’s absolutely no excuse for it.”
“You might run out of schools pretty quickly, though, here in this country,” Carlson quipped.
But Peterson wasn’t in a joking mood.
“That would be just fine,” he said, stony-faced. “The sooner, the better.”
The statistics Carlson provided--like the fact that 77% of suicide deaths are suffered by males or that 7 million working-age American men are now unemployed--were dire. However, the problem that he found most terrifying is that men are becoming “less male.”
“Sperm counts across the west have plummeted, down almost 60 percent since the early 1970s,” Carlson said. “Scientists don’t know why. Testosterone levels in men have also fallen precipitously. One study found that the average levels of male testosterone dropped by one percent every year after 1987. This is unrelated to age. The average 40-year-old-man in 2017 would have testosterone levels 30 percent lower than the average 40-year-old man in 1987.”
The host stated that low testosterone in men is associated with depression, lethargy, weight gain and decreased cognitive ability.
“You’d think we’d want to know what exactly is going on and how to fix it. But the media ignore the story. It’s considered a fringe topic,” he said.
Scientists don’t seem interested either.
“We checked and couldn’t find a single NIH-funded study on why testosterone levels are falling,” Carlson said. “We did find a study on, quote, ‘Pubic Hair Grooming Prevalence and Motivation Among Women in the United States’.”
Watch the discussion here:

Thursday, March 08, 2018

A Tar Heel Voice

By Adam Lucas
March 7, 2018

Listen To Woody Durham's Greatest Calls

He sounded like absolutely no one else, because he was Woody. But at the very same time, he sounded like one of us, because he was one of us.
Long before Woody Durham was a Carolina icon, he was simply a Carolina fan. A younger version of Woody thrilled to the exploits of Choo Choo Justice and the 1957 national champion Tar Heel basketball team. The older version of Woody, the one known on a first-name basis around the state, never lost that sense of wonder, and that's why we bonded with him so perfectly over the radio.
Along the way, of course, Woody became just as big as many of the players he covered. Tar Heels on the playing field or hardwood had just four years to become part of our lives. Woody described their exploits for decades. I have watched first-hand as Carolina fans have walked right past a Carolina player or coach in order to meet Woody.
You know how some of your closest Tar Heel friends are the ones with whom you've experienced the best victories and the toughest losses? We listened to all the very best wins—eight points in 17 seconds and bloody Montross and Marvin's putback—and all the most heartbreaking losses—the 1977 national title game and the interception in Charlottesville in 1996 and Utah in 1998—with Woody.
Sometimes he was all we had. Sometimes he was all we chose to have. Some of you do not understand this. Some of you stream every game and follow the players on Twitter and post on message boards with fans from around the entire world.
There were times that we had Woody. That's it. And if he said Antawn Jamison was putting on an absolute clinic, then that was all the description we needed. 
Let me try to explain how important Woody Durham was to those of us of a certain age. On the evening of April 4, 2005, something unforgettable happened in St. Louis.
Well, yes, Roy Williams won his first national championship with a Carolina win over Illinois. I was there, and I remember certain plays—Raymond Felton's big steal and Sean May pulling down the game's final rebound ("Rebounded…May! It's over!" said Woody).
But what I remember with perfect clarity happened around an hour after the game. I'd gone to the locker room and returned to media row, where the Tar Heel Sports Network was still on the air. Mick Mixon, Woody's then-partner, asked me if I had any observations from the locker room. Woody was still in the locker room gathering sound bites, and Mick told me when the broadcast came out of the commercial break, he'd ask me a few questions.
I sat at that table in St. Louis and stared at what was in front of me. In a moment I don't believe I will ever forget, I remember thinking the following:
"I am about to put on Woody Durham's headset."
Carolina had just won the national title and I'd been courtside for it, watched the nets come down from closer than I ever imagined when I was reenacting every single Carolina game in my driveway, and what I remember the most is putting on Woody Durham's headset.
That's how important Woody was to us.
Check it (that's what Woody would say)—that's how important Woody is to us. What role did he play? You tell me:
"Un-beeee-leeee-va-ble!" (eight points in 17 seconds)
"Jumper from out on the left…GOOD!" (1982)
"Snap. Spot. Kick away. High enough. Long enough. IT'S GOOD! Carolina has won the game on a 42-yard field goal by freshman Connor Barth!" (2004)
It is impossible to picture any of these highlights in my mind without Woody's soundtrack playing along with them. There's nothing stranger than seeing a clip of the 1982 title game…and the accompanying audio is the national television feed rather than the Woody feed. It seems, somehow, lesser.
We took him for granted because he was ours. We thought we liked Woody because he was a Tar Heel, or because he said "Good gosh Gertie!" at just the right time. That undersold a key point: Woody was very, very good at his job. He had the love, naturally. He had the historical background that could instantly put every Carolina win or loss into context for us, and he had the passion honed by watching Choo Choo Justice and the 1957 national champions, but he also had an incredible skill level.
He also had a secret weapon—his wife, Jean, the eternally patient woman who paused her family's life from August (training camp) through May (Rams Club tour) every year. No visitor to the Durham house has ever left without a Tupperware container or a Ziploc bag full of home-baked goodies.

You think it's impressive that Woody remembered that Brad Daugherty was from Black Mountain and Pete Chilcutt was from Eutaw, Alabama, and Kris Lang was from Gastonia? Jean remembers that you like chocolate and peanut butter together and she knows to make them chewy, not crunchy, and you always leave her home feeling like somehow you had done her a favor even though the reverse was true. (Don't be fooled by her kindness; she is a stickler for grammar and will catch you in a mistake your high school English teacher would miss.)
It was Jean, along with the couple's sons, Wes and Taylor, who helped Woody through the last 18 months, as his diagnosis with aphasia became public and some of the activities he once took for granted became difficult. She'd heard every story and relived every game for the better part of five decades. And when the stories became harder for him to tell, there she was, filling in the gaps when he—for the first time ever—couldn't find the words.
But that is not how we will remember him. He will eternally be the man with the perfect phrase, the one with the hand on the shoulder of the head coach as he conducts the postgame interview, the one who taught us how to go where we go.

It doesn't seem possible that we are having this conversation now. It was just January 17, a scant seven weeks ago, during the Clemson game, that Woody was waving to us from the mezzanine at the Smith Center on the same day it was announced he was selected to the National Sports Media Association Hall of Fame.

Woody and Jean were in their regular seats, very close to where Bill Guthridge used to sit after his retirement, and Woody waved to the crowd, and Jean beamed.

How he loved being on the floor of that building. How he loved talking to you—"I make sure I'm talking to one person, whether I'm on the radio or doing a presentation at the Smith Center in front of 22,000," he once said, and we were all completely sure that the one person was us, that he was speaking directly to us and no one else—and how he loved signing the autographs and going on the road trips and just plain being a Tar Heel.

A few years ago, Woody sat in his den, Jean beaming by his side, and put it this way: "I've had the opportunity to describe some of the most memorable moments of many fans' lives. No matter where they were, I hope they felt like they were right there with me watching the game. We were just a couple of Carolina fans together, hoping for a Tar Heel victory. I was lucky to be courtside or in the press box for those games, and I feel privileged to have shared those experiences with every listener."

Just as you would expect. No one could have described it better. 

Today's Tune: Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore - Get Together (eTown webisode #1182)

Premiere: Dave Alvin, Jimmie Dale Gilmore team on 'Billy the Kid and Geronimo'


February 26, 2018

Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Two Americana music veterans whose paths have crossed for nearly half a century — even before they knew one another — are teaming up for their first recording as a duo, a project that brings Southern California native Dave Alvin together with esteemed West Texas singer-songwriter Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

The pair recently joined forces to record the forthcoming album "Downey to Lubbock," the title referring to their hometowns. The Times is premiering one of the new collection's original songs, "Billy the Kid and Geronimo," about an imagined meeting between the two 19th century outlaws whose lives became the stuff of legend in the American West.

"I thought Jimmie and I needed something to sing together," Alvin, 62, said in an interview shortly after getting home from a recent round of tour dates with Gilmore, who is a decade older. "I'd had the song in pieces. Usually when I write the semi-historical mythical songs, there's at least five other verses laying around — like old folks songs themselves.

"I write in a flurry, then go back and say, 'We don't need this, we don't need that, we don't need to know what color his socks were," he said with a laugh. "I like it — of course, it's historically inaccurate because it never happened. … I like dialogues about archetypes and guilt and all that."

Alvin tackles the vocals for the lines expressing the imagined views of Billy the Kid, a.k.a. William Bonney a.k.a. William Henry McCarty Jr., the young gunslinger infamous for killing 21 people and who was famously shot to death at age 21 by Sheriff Pat Garrett.

Gilmore, who is part Native American, voices the thoughts Alvin wrote for Geronimo, the Chiricahua Apache chief who was one of the last Native American leaders to abandon his resistance against white colonization of the American Southwest:

Billy The Kid said, "We're just the same.

We're cursed and we're damned as they whisper our names…"

Geronimo said, "No, We're not the same, for the harm I have done, I feel great shame

"But we'll pay the same price for the blood on our hands"

Alvin sounded especially thrilled to have Gilmore sing the Geronimo part. "He's got native blood on both sides, and I guess I was a kid at one time, so there you go."

The album is due from Yep Roc Records on June 1, the same day they start a joint tour in Houston. The trek will occupy them for most of June and July — bringing them to Southern California July 25 at the Belly Up in Solana Beach and July 26 at the Troubadour in West Hollywood.

"I first met Jimmie probably 27 years ago — maybe more," Alvin said. "Tom Russell [another former L.A.-based singer-songwriter] had put together a songwriter-traveling-circus kind of show with Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale" — who had played together with Joe Ely in the fabled 1970s West Texas trio the Flatlanders — "and Tom and me and Steve Young and Katy Moffatt. As we rolled along with picked up Lucinda Williams and some other folks.

"I'd heard of him, mentioned in a kind of whispered status, but when we met, I discovered he was a really nice guy and we kind of clicked," Alvin said. " There were certain complexities to him musically that took a while to figure out — like I knew he was influenced in many ways by blues stuff. A couple of years after that, I heard him pull out a Blind Lemon Jefferson number. There are not many people who do Blind Lemon.

Alvin also discovered much later that the two of them had been hanging around the venerable 1960s L.A. folk-blues club the Ash Grove during the same period and likely attended some of the same shows, unbeknownst to each other.

"I probably came up to his belt buckle at that point," Alvin said, acknowledging how he and his older brother, Phil, had started seeking out celebrated folk and blues musicians when they were still passionate teenage music fans from Downey.

"There's a Lightnin' Hopkins song on the album because Jimmie had heard Lightnin' do it at the Ash Grove," he said, referencing "Buddy Brown's Blues." "He dropped that one in one night on stage, and when I picked my jaw off the floor, we started talking and figured we might have been there at the same time."

That would have occurred well before the Alvins formed their high-octane roots music band, the Blasters.

They also included "Seven Bridges Road" writer Young's song "Silverlake" and found out each felt a sense of proprietary connection to the song, which Young wrote about the neighborhood adjacent to Echo Park, where Young and Alvin once lived. Young, who died in 2016, long ago told Alvin he wrote it for him but also told Gilmore that he yearned to hear him sing it.

"I cut it five years ago," Alvin said, "but I never released it. That's really worked out for the best. Steve may have written it for me, but he wrote it for Jimmie to sing, and he's right. All these old songs, shared experiences, historical and sociological things come out of that space between our two hometowns."

Alvin and Gilmore collaborated on the title track, which highlights those areas of commonality. They've also recorded "The Gardens," a song written by Alvin's best friend and former band mate, Orange County singer-songwriter Chris Gaffney, who died in 2008 of cancer.

"I had to do it," he said. "It's coming up on the 10th anniversary of Chris' death, and as we all are about some passings, I'm still mourning that one. And it's a great song. As the record was shaping up, it kinda captures the idea of Downey to Lubbock and what's in between, which is where most of these songs reside in one way or another."

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