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If you use critical thinking, you’ll see why Harambe the gorilla needed to be shot dead.

Critical thinking 101: Unless you’re an expert in primatology, zoology, and child behavior, your opinions on the killing of Harambe are likely just an emotional overreaction. Chances are, you’re an “animal fanatic” – someone who’s incapable of having any empathy for your fellow humans. As a result, you transfer all of these emotions onto animals, and then take pride in this fact. So now another animal has been killed as the result of an unfortunate interaction with a human and you’ve gone into emotional hyperdrive. Let’s take a step back and apply some critical thinking to this situation.

Before You Type #JusticeForHarambe…

Remember that you’re not an expert in primatology. You might not even know what the word “primatology” means. By now, there have been hundreds of thousands of people who’ve said, tweeted, posted, and commented that “the gorilla wasn’t trying to hurt the boy, he was dragging him to keep him safe from the screaming tourists.” When I read/hear people saying this, a few questions come to mind, including:

  • Are you an expert in primatology?
  • Have you studied great apes in their habitant for years like Jane Goodall?
  • Do you even have a degree in zoology or animal behavior?
  • Are you a mind reader?
  • If you can’t answer “yes” to any of these questions, then you simply have NO idea what Harambe was thinking when he ragdolled that boy through the water with great force. There is no possible way you can interpret Harambe’s actions in any way as to make a definitive statement about the nature of the gorilla’s mindset. It really is that simple. We humans mistake the intentions of our fellow humans all the time, so how could we pretend to “know” the heart and mind of a wild animal?

    Before You Scream for the Mother’s Head…

    Please keep in mind that you’re also not a child behavioral specialist. You also weren’t at the zoo when this went down. Yet despite these facts, so many people are so certain that this is a slam-dunk case of parental neglect. “Well, that mother must’ve done something wrong for that to happen,” they say. This is an example of a cognitive bias known as the just-world fallacy.

    Many of you also have gone so far as to say that you would never let this happen with your children, blah, blah, blah, blah. Apparently, many people conveniently have forgotten how difficult caring for a child can be… and how easy it is for a young child to slip past his/her parents.

    I should know because my Autistic son got loose from a family member and nearly was killed.

    Nobody was necessarily being a “bad” or “negligent” parent that day. My son is very strong and very fast, and being Autistic, we don’t quite understand why he does this, we only know that he does. And while we take every precaution to safeguard his well-being, he still manages to do things that place him in danger, as most children are wont to do. Simply put, these things just happen and when they do, the situation is not always an indictment of anyone’s parenting skills.

    What if Harambe Dragged YOUR Child?

    If your child fell into a gorilla habitat, what would you do? If Harambe dragged your child through the water as forcefully as he did the child in Cincinnati, you would be screaming for zookeepers to “do something.” And if that “something” means shooting that “poor gorilla” dead, you would kiss the zookeeper’s feet and thank him for his good aim. Because let’s be honest, even if the gorilla WAS trying to “protect” the boy, I’m not sure that little kid’s body could withstand the force of what Harambe was doing.

    Critical Thinking for Harambe the Gorilla

    To wrap up our critical thinking exercise with Harambe the gorilla, let’s take a look at the facts. There’s no way you can “know” what Harambe the gorilla was thinking when he dragged that child. You have absolutely no clue whether this child’s mother is a negligent parent or not. But most of all, you can never say that this would never happen to you. Not if you’re being honest with yourself. Before you emotionally overreact, try using a little critical thinking.

    Do it for Harambe!

Anyone who thinks they’re a domestic violence expert needs to spend two years with my ex.

The point I’m driving at is that the dynamics of domestic violence aren’t always as cut and dry as bad man in sleeveless T-shirt beats poor, defenseless woman. Yes, that happens; but so do instances where the woman is the initial aggressor.Before we delve into this, take a few minutes to watch this video:

Here’s what usually happens when the physical abuse/domestic violence is female-on-male: An argument ensues and the man gets attacked when he tries to walk away. (“Don’t you turn your back on me!”) Or the beating goes on and on until the man, often at wit’s end, grabs, pushes, or shoves the woman in order to prevent further beating.

Want to guess which one will face domestic violence charges if the police are called? Hint: If you have any doubts, consider the name of the current Federal law – The “Violence Against Women Act” or VAWA.

The social experiment conducted above is NOT the first of its kind. You can find a few other videos where this experiment has taken place and the results are nearly identical: Many men and women rush in to help the woman who’s being thrashed. When the man is being abused, few to no people bother to intervene.

In a previous experiment similar to this, passersby later were interviewed. The reporter asked why they did not do anything to help the man being beaten. The men and woman interviewed offered these generic responses:

1. She’s just a woman, she can’t really hurt him like a man could.
2. I didn’t want to get involved.
3. He should be able to handle it.
4. A woman wouldn’t hit a man unless he did something to deserve it.
5. He must have had it coming.

Ultimately, my point about this is rather direct: What you THINK you know about domestic violence is largely the creation of the feminist/women’s rights group. It is THEY who control the narrative on the topic. They’ve created the framework used to author VAWA, and they continue to push the narrative that “in the United States, 22%–35% of women who visit hospital emergency rooms do so because of domestic violence.” (Note: a TIME Magazine article boldly refutes this claim.)

This feminist domestic violence zeitgeist has found an unlikely ally in the police/prosecutors all across the country. These folks profit form the skyrocketing number of domestic violence arrests under the unquestionable holy of holies known as VAWA. The law practically demands men be arrested at the mere accusation of domestic violence. This keeps state and Federal tax dollars rolling in for women’s shelters, anger management programs and other various and sundry court-mandated shenanigans.

The truth is, women are nearly as likely to commit domestic violence against their partner as men. (Again, according to another TIME Magazine article on the subject.) Problem is, we as a society are largely unaware or unwilling to believe that the “fairer sex” is capable of such nastiness. Most of those willing to at least admit that women hit men take a rather blaze view towards the subject. (“He can’t take a little woman hitting him? What kind of man is he?) Meanwhile, the domestic violence arm of the criminal justice industry keeps pulling men into its clutches.

Which brings me back to women such as my ex…

About J.P. Ribner
J.P. Ribner is the author of Viking fantasy adventure series “The Berserker’s Saga.” Currently, the saga features two novels – “Legacy of the Bear” and “Prophecy of the Bear.” For more about his written work, check out his website.

white privilegeWhat is it with people who demand white people be “educated” about this white privilege myth?

Newsflash: I’m not in need of any agenda-based education.You never asked me if I want it. In fact, you never offer or suggest I receive education. Instead, you demand that I “learn” what you’re teaching based, I suppose, upon some high-minded principles and presumed moral superiority. Such is the case of thems doin’ the edge-u-ma-catin’.

Here are some reasons why you in the you-need-to-be-educated-in-the-interests-of-humanity crowd never ask anyone if they want the benefit of your vaunted knowledge:

1. You have already have determined that you are right.

2. You have already have determined that I am wrong.

3. You assume a position of moral superiority with your certainty that my being educated (according to your agenda) is in the “best interests of humanity.”

4. You are perfectly comfortable in your hypocrisy, because of reasons 1,2, and 3.

5. You don’t see it as hypocrisy because of reasons 1,2, and 3.

6. Your mentality has taken over pop culture, modern thought, and the educational system; thus, you use the don’t-be-on-the-wrong-side-of-history argument, which is tantamount to saying, “Everyone else is doing it.”

7. You vehemently avoids debate, critical thought, and any questioning of your perceived moral authority.

8. You have little to no idea as to the origin of your high-minded moral philosophies. Most of you simply repeat it because your friends said it, and they likely heard it from someone else.

9. You refuse to see your belief system for what it is – a divisive philosophy that operates upon belief. In other words, it’s a religion and your limited understanding of its precepts is that of a fanatic.

10. You label anyone who disagrees with you as one or more type of “ist” or “phobe” – racist, sexist, misogynist, homophobe, Islamophobe, etc.

The Reason I’ve Posted This…
It’s bad enough when people I know have this mentality. It’s worse when the person with these opinions is someone you once respected. Such was the case this week. Someone on my social media friends list shared a story that “all white people MUST read.” From the headline and lead sentences, I could already see that it was the usual check-your-privilege tripe that we’ve all heard a thousand times. Rather than waste my time trying to argue any point, I simply blocked it from my feed and moved forward.

Thanks but no Thanks
For the record, no, I don’t want to be re-educated according to your agenda of white privilege. I don’t care to read your white privilege statistics. I don’t want an example of white privilege. I don’t plan to read any books on white privilege. And I will not attend any white privilege conference. I don’t have a “white privilege knapsack,” so there’s no need to invite me to unpack the invisible knapsack.

In short, I don’t adhere to any of this bullshit political theory.

White Privilege Pimps and Systemic White Racism Hustlers Unmasked
Most people who share these memes do so in some misguided notion of propping up their already-inflated egos. They become the banner men (and women) of imaginary causes to loudly trumpet upon their social media outlets to a resounding chorus of like-minded individuals all chiming in to validate the original poster as well as to provide themselves with some much-needed self-soothing.

Their political identities are rooted in some highly-distorted grievance filtered through the fractured lens of racial identity. Their entire shtick, as it were, is convincing groups of people that they are victims of some mythical conspiracy theory. This allows these hucksters to then ride in on their high horse as the great liberator of some poor, disadvantaged group that cannot help themselves.

It’s the height of narcissism, people. Don’t fall for it!

About J.P. Ribner
J.P. Ribner is the author of Viking fantasy adventure series “The Berserker’s Saga.” Currently, the saga features two novels – “Legacy of the Bear” and “Prophecy of the Bear.” For more about his written work, check out his website.

Katie   I want to kill Katie Brown!

I want to tape her mouth shut, just like she did to that poor dog. Then I want to tie her to the back of my car and drag her down the street until she’s dead, dead, dead! I will stand over her torn and mangled corpse then say, “This is what happens when you hurt animals. POINT MADE!”

Did I Mention I Enjoy a Good Parody?
I really don’t want to kill Katie Brown. In fact, I don’t have any strong feelings toward her in any way. I don’t support what she did, either, but I don’t think it’s a killing/beating offense. Too bad nearly half of America does! And so do many of my Facebook friends.

Let the Madness Begin!
Nearly half of my friends list are screaming for Katie Brown’s blood! A scroll through my news feed reads like a serial killer’s manifesto. Otherwise normal people have turned into raving lunatics possessed with a bloodlust. The venom, hatred, and animosity got so disturbing that I was inspired to post this on Facebook and Twitter:

I have empathy for every one of God’s creatures and I’ll murder, burn, and hide the bodies of any humans who would hurt an animal just to prove how compassionate I truly am!

Needless to say, some friends got it. They know I get more enjoyment from a subtle, nearly coded dig than an obvious rant. Others didn’t get it. In fact, some even made the offer to help me in my “attack” on Brown. I hope I let them down gently.

What Bothers Me Most About Militant Animal Lovers
Cases such as this illustrate a problem in society. Too many seemingly-normal people turn into violent psychopaths the moment an animal is hurt. In my experience, these people cannot muster a shred of empathy for other humans. Call me crazy, but nothing about a frothing maniac says “compassionate person.”

Here’s a good example of a militant animal lover: Last week, a Facebook friend waxed poetic about what a nice, good-hearted person they are. I know this person quite well and he or she is far from nice. This same individual is threatening to beat, maim, and/or kill Katie Brown. Is it possible to talk murder and mayhem while telling the world what a great person you are? That seems to be the case with aggressive people and militant animal lovers. They constantly issue verbal press releases about what a great person they are. It’s almost like they’re trying to convince themselves.

What I Hope Happens in the Katie Brown Case
This is a matter for the police to investigate and the courts to decide. Plain and simple. It’s not something that should be solved by vigilante justice carried out by a bunch of psychopaths who consider themselves good people. Because if we open the door to that, then we have vigilante beatings and killings going on over even the slightest insults. Do you really want that? I mean, maybe you pissed off someone a long, long time ago and they want to kill you for it. But you wouldn’t do anything like that, right? You’re a good person.

About J.P. Ribner
J.P. Ribner is the author of Viking fantasy adventure series “The Berserker’s Saga.” Currently, the saga features two novels – “Legacy of the Bear” and “Prophecy of the Bear.” For more about his written work, check out his website.

blackfridaySince it’s Black Friday, I’m seeing a lot of Black Friday posts, memes, and videos on Facebook. Most criticize the greed and rapaciousness so typical of this consumer holiday. I, too, feel disgust when people devolve to an animal-like level in pursuit of material things.

I also know why they do this, and it’s not as simple as just greed or materialism.

Introducing the “Zero-Sum Game”
Zero-sum game” is the name for ugly, Black Friday behavior. A basic definition is: “a situation, especially a competitive one, which there is no net gain among the participants.” Quite simply, it is the belief that if one participant acquires something, others have lost.

I believe the zero-sum game mentality goes back to our prehistoric ancestors. It was a time when food and resources were scarce and hard to come by. (It took a tribe to bring down one mastodon.) Thus, any resource gained by one tribe was seen as a loss by other, competing tribes. This made a “zero-sum game mentality” a survival instinct. It’s locked into our genetic memory and drives us on a primal level.

Why a Zero-Sum Game Mentality Looks Ugly on Black Friday
In first-world nations, there is no shortage of goods. This is why a brawl over the last coffeemaker seems ignorant and savage to many. Manufacturers produce near-infinite amounts of coffeemakers. Anyone can buy them at a store or online. Thus, there is no need for caveman-like behaviors typically seen Black Friday.

What Type of People Engage in Black Friday Behavior
In his book You are Not so Smart, author David McRaney shares a valid observation: “Poor people compete with resources. The middle class competes with selection. The wealthy competes with possessions.” This applies to the zero-sum game mentality observed on Black Friday.

So I guess I blame poor people for the madness that is Black Friday sales. Only people with very limited resources – i.e., money – would fight in the aisles with others in similar situations. They perceive the Black Friday deals as the best way to make the most of their limited resources.

So why wouldn’t the middle class get into a Black Friday brawl? Like McRaney said, they compete by selection, aka taste. Most middle class people wouldn’t be caught dead at a Black Friday sale. They are more like to spend money on a Keurig and brag about what amazing coffee it makes. (And how it’s not “too mainstream.”)

Would wealthy people go to a Black Friday sale at a big-box retailer? Not on your life! They are most likely to buy a restaurant-grade cappuccino machine and hire a barista to serve them. That’s how you compete with possessions – only the most lavish and expensive possessions are worth talking about at the country club.

The Ugliest Example of a Zero-Sum Game Mentality
If a cage-fight in the housewares aisle is ugly, keep in mind that it only happens once a year. People who play a zero-sum game for intangible things are horrible human beings all year long! These are people who consider things that can’t be measured – status, popularity, etc. – as a limited resource. If these people see someone gaining these “resources,” they will criticize, slander, and belittle that person to gain their “share.”

Random example: Picture a bunch of guys are hanging out, playing basketball. One of them starts cutting up, telling jokes, and making the other guys laugh. This angers the one guy with a zero-sum game mentality. He ruthlessly criticizes and embarrasses the person… and he makes sure that he does so in front of all the other guys. In this person’s very small mind, he’s taken the resource – popularity, status, attention – from the guy who had it moments ago.

There’s a huge problem with this approach. Apart from being an asshole – and not a true friend – the guy with the zero-sum game mentality cheats himself. Things such as status and popularity are intangible – they cannot be measured, calculated, or weighed. They are ideas and as such, they are limitless. The asshole on the basketball court could’ve achieved the same status without having to humiliate the other person. Sadly, people like this will never get it.

Zero-Sum Game is Here to Stay… Unfortunately
This mentality  isn’t going away any time soon. Sadly, this mad scramble for (perceived) limited resources continues to be successful for so many. Thus, it is hard for us to rid ourselves of a behavior that continues to provide rewards. Because acting like this is so hideous, we rational, modern-day humans must fight to overcome this mentality.

About J.P. Ribner
J.P. Ribner is the author of Viking fantasy adventure series “The Berserker’s Saga.” Currently, the saga features two novels – “Legacy of the Bear” and “Prophecy of the Bear.” For more about his written work, check out his website.


MHP   As a Republican in America, I apparently can no longer use the term “hard worker.” At least that what MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry says.

I don’t believe that Melissa Harris-Perry is bat-shit crazy. I think she’s a diabolical demon who knows exactly what she’s doing. Her recent attack upon the term “hard worker” is more of the Left weaponizing words. I’m calling her out on it.

What Melissa Harris-Perry Said About “Hard Workers”
Melissa Harris-Perry recently scolded a Latino Republican guest on her show. He used the phrase “hard worker” to describe Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.). Her reason? The term is racist and/or insensitive toward black and women.

In Harris-Perry’s own words: “I just want to pause on one thing, because I don’t disagree with you that I actually think Mr. Ryan is a great choice for this role. But I want us to be super careful when we use the language ‘hard worker.’ Because I actually keep an image of folks working in cotton fields on my office wall, because it is a reminder about what hard work looks like.”

She took her flawed logic one step further by saying, “In the context of relative privilege, I just want to point out, that when you talk about work-life balance and being a hard worker, the moms who don’t have health care who are working, we don’t call them hard workers. We call them failures, people who are sucking off the system.”

See/Hear for Yourself:

What Melissa Harris-Perry is Really Doing
MHP is furthering the false belief that those who identify themselves oppressed people or victim groups control the English language. Nearly every day, another word, phrase, or term is co-opted by this group. They then re-frame them within the parameters of their twisted racial/gender agenda. This allows them to use their redesigned words and terms against their conservative opponents. They’re weaponizing language, and it’s a pervasive problem in society and politics.

Society accepts the Left’s weaponized language as fact. No one stops to realize that the Left’s ideas/philosophies/tenets are just theory… mental constructs created by people seeking to gain an upper hand in the national dialogue. How many times has someone told you to “check your privilege?” Or how about accusing you of committing a “micro-aggression?”

Welcome to the world of weaponized language!

What MHP Hopes to Accomplish by Claiming “Hard Worker”
The answer to this is simple: Shut down the possibility of debate before it even starts. But how does she do that? By framing her tirade within the parameters of slavery and women’s issues. Anyone challenging her claims upon the term “hard worker” is now a “racist” and a “sexist.” I can just hear them now: “What do you mean MHP is wrong? You must hate black women!” I’m sure the hashtags aren’t far behind.

This is why the Left is Winning the Culture War
It’s not just because they have a super-PAC called the mainstream media. (Though that does help.) MHP’s tactics are part of the Left’s decades-long playbook. Liberals, progressives, and social justice warriors are emotional by nature, making them easily led. Harris-Perry’s weaponized language has already set their simple minds into motion.

Expect these people to form the front-line of her defense against critics. (I’m sure there’s someone reading this post who believes I’m “attacking” blacks and women. I’m not, but the truth doesn’t matter to these types.)

Pointing out Melissa Harris-Perry’s Hypocrisy
I suppose it comes as no surprise that Harris-Perry has used the term “hard work” many times. Washington Post media reporter Erik Wemple compiled a brief listing of occasions where Harris-Perry used the term in her reporting. He also notes that in one instance, Harris-Perry did not comment upon a video she played video of Hillary Clinton using the term. Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised that MHP uses the term hard work/hard worker. Apparently, her being black and having a picture of people picking cotton in her office gives her that right.

MHP2   To Melissa Harris-Perry…
I care little for whatever pictures you keep in your office, as you should care little for mine. Further, I rebuke your attempted claims to the term “hard worker.” Those words – and any others, for that matter – are not yours. You cannot lord over them like some crazed, third-world dictator drooling over his weapons cache. I also resent your assuming the moral high-ground. It’s a feeble attempts to control those with whom you disagree.

So, with that said, I’m proud to consider myself a hard worker. My wife also is a hard worker, as was my father and many of the men and women in both of our families. As a matter of fact, all of my Irish, Slovak, and Polish ancestors also were hard workers. They had to be… or the powers-that-be would have executed them quickly and I would not be here.

Given your love for multiculturalism and diversity, I’m sure you’d deeply regret the loss.

About J.P. Ribner
J.P. Ribner is the author of Viking fantasy adventure series “The Berserker’s Saga.” Currently, the saga features two novels – “Legacy of the Bear” and “Prophecy of the Bear.” For more about his written work, check out his website.

Venture3   Exidy’s Venture was a hack-and-slash, dungeon-crawl video game and that’s exactly what makes it so awesome!

I was a sensitive kid. In the 1970s and 80s, I lacked the predator-like aggressiveness so common among my peers. In my struggles to cope, I immersed myself in the many forms of escapism that sensitive kids turned to in those days. This meant Dungeons & Dragons, music, and of course, video games. Destroying digital enemies provided the sense of dominance I was lacking in the real world.

As such, I fondly remember arcade games from the 1980s.

I Found the Ad-Venture I was Searching For!
I don’t remember when or where I first heard about Venture. All I know is that it was love at first sight. Exidy took the best elements of fantasy role playing – hack-and-slash and treasures – and brought them to the arcade. There was no rolling dice, no checking  saving throws, and no depending upon a dungeon master’s good graces. (I knew some dungeon masters who were just plain dicks!)

Playing Venture in the Arcades of the 1980s
During my youth, it seemed like there was an arcade on every corner. And there were a few games in restaurants, lounges, and anywhere else us 80s kids congregated. The adults of that era were trying to cash on the disposable income of Generation X, and may the gods bless them for it! And although it wasn’t as popular as Pac-Man or Defender, Venture maintained its niche in many area arcades.

Winky   The 411 on Venture
Released in 1981, Venture promised plenty to anyone daring enough to drop a quarter down. The player controlled “Winky,” a red smiley face holding a bow and arrow. (Think an armed Pac-Man.) Players start by avoiding Hallmonsters by ducking into one of the level’s rooms. Note: The Hallmonsters are invincible much like Evil Otto from Berzerk.

Once inside, the player sees a treasure and a group of creatures cavorting about. The object is simple: Kill the monsters then run deep into the room to grab the treasure. To give the game more complexity, Exidy added two unique features:

1. Even after you kill the monsters in each room, bumping into their decomposing bodies will still kill you.

2. If you stay too long inside a room, an invincible Hallmonster busts in and charges you. Your only option is escaping out the door.

Grabbing the treasures out of every room advances you to the next level. And while I make it all sound so easy, this game offered varying degrees of difficulty. For example, dead monsters can block an exit, and shooting the cadaver slows decomposition. Also, the game’s AI allows some monsters to dodge arrows better than others.

The Levels and Monsters in Venture
Maybe you didn’t get that far on Venture. No shame. As I said before, the game is tough. Wondering about Venture’s “Monster Manual?” Here’s a breakdown of the all three levels:

Level 1: The Wall Room, Serpent Room, Skeleton Room, and Goblin Room.

Level 2: The Two-Headed Room, Dragon Room, Spider Room, and Troll Room.

Level 3: The Genie Room, Demon Room, Cyclops Room, and Bat Room.

Venture1   Other 1980s Arcade Games Influenced by Role-Playing Adventures
The influence of Dungeons & Dragons and other role-playing games extended to the arcades. I can think of a few 80s video games that sought to mimic the successes of TSR and other game makers of that era. (Note this original advertisement for Venture, strategically placed inside a “dungeon.”)

Ever played Gladiator, Gauntlet, or The Dragon’s Lair? Surely you see the similarities to D&D. And if you’ve played Gamma World, you’ll see a connection to Space Ace and Wizard of Wor. (All awesome arcade games, by the way!)

I know that the above is far from an exhaustive list. I just listed a few 80s videos games that resembled role-playing games that came to my head. If you remember any other games that are worthy of mention, feel free to list them in the comments sections. Note: A list of home video games influenced by role-playings games is too large for this blog.

Venture2   Venture Comes to the ColecoVision
Most of us Generation Xers had a home video game system during our youth. Some of us had several. Over the years, I had an Atari 2600, Odyssey 2, and the ColecoVision. My favorite, by far, was the ColecoVision. The release of Venture for ColecoVision is one of the reasons I cherish this 8-bit game system. I slayedmonsters and stole treasure from the comfort of Trauma Central.

Note: I can’t remember if the home version of Venture featured all three levels or just two. The system came with Donkey Kong; but much to my dismay, the fabled Cement Factory level was missing. Grr!

Where to Find Info on 1980s Arcade Games
If you’re a fan of 1980s video games, you owe it to yourself to visit Killer List of Video Games. K.L.O.V. is the most complete online arcade game encyclopedia. It features a decent page about Venture as well as the other games listed here. If you remember the names of your favorite arcade games from the 80s, chances are you’ll find it here. If you’re an old video game fanatic from way back, check out K.L.O.V. It’s a sweet trip down memory lane!

More Video Game Nostalgia to Come!
Venture is just one of many awesome video games from my youth that I still cherish. I tended to like the offbeat, quirky, and downright odd games from those halcyon days. Who remembers Circus, Kram, and Crazy Climber? Or how about Bubbles? Or Major Havoc? Expect more blog posts featuring classic video game nostalgia in the future.

In the meantime, feel free to share your video game memories in the comments section. I’m dying to know what was sucking up your quarters during the Reagan era!

About J.P. Ribner
J.P. Ribner is the author of Viking fantasy adventure series “The Berserker’s Saga.” Currently, the saga features two novels – “Legacy of the Bear” and “Prophecy of the Bear.” For more about his written work, check out his website.

UFO2   It’s not every day – or night – that one has a UFO experience, but tonight (Tuesday, October 27, 2015) was one of those nights for me.

The Formation Appears
I just stepped outside to take out the garbage. I don’t know what urged me to look up and over my shoulder; but when I did, I saw three to four strange, pulsating and glittering white lights flying in a straight line across the sky, running roughly parallel to our condo. The were spaced roughly an equal distance apart and traveling in what appeared to be a straight line across the sky, headed due south.

I’ve Never Seen Lights Like This
The lights were strange. I mean very strange. I’ve never seen any aircraft using this type of illumination before. The UFOs were using a bright white light that burst into a pointed star pattern similar to the pointed designs often found on compasses or drawings of snowflakes. They burst in a strobe-like frequency, yet they appeared more like a twinkling or glittering against the night sky. (I know this sounds strange, but it’s the best way I can describe it.

“Honey! Get Out Here!”
When confronted with something so strange and unknown, I did what any man would do… I shouted for my wife. As she came out the door and I pointed to the sky to show her what I was seeing, the objects – which were already traveling at a speed visibly quicker than most aircraft – increased their speed. Within a matter of seconds, what was once flying over our condo community was now roughly over the neighboring city of Northville, which is a a few miles away.

Note: I’m not saying that the UFOs picked up their speed because I saw them and hollered for my wife. This was likely a coincidence.

UFO   The Formation Changes
By the time the lights were (estimated) over Northville, their formation changed from the straight line in which they were previously flying. As previously mentioned, they were headed due south, nearly parallel to Haggerty Road. In a visual experience that I can only compare to twisting the tube of a kaleidoscope, the straight line changed into a formation that was roughly in a triangle or even a square. (Similar to the picture.) I cannot stress enough how quickly this happened.

Additional Witnesses, Sort Of…
Upon seeing the tail-end of these flying lights, my wife shouted to her 18-year-old son to come out and see them. He was outside the door in a matter of seconds but it already was too late. Fortunately, a young lady walking her dog in front of our house also heard my shouting and managed to look up into the sky to see what she described as “some blinking lights.”

A Variety of Information
I posted a shorter version of this on my Facebook page. Two of my friends from in and around Flint, Michigan already have told me that they saw something similar last night at about 11pm, and the night before around 1am. Also, my brother-in-law just told me that he thought he read somewhere that this area was supposed to be experiencing fighter jet patrols.The only evidence I found for that was this story, which reports that the training flight is scheduled for Thursday, October 29, 2015.

Could I have seen fighter jets flying in a yet-to-be-reported training mission? Perhaps some A10 Warthogs from Selfridge Air Force Base being threatened for retirement? It’s possible. I make no claim to knowing or understanding the origins of what I saw tonight. All I can say is that they were unidentified flying objects in every sense of the term.

“No Plane That I’ve Ever Seen”
At the risk of sounding like every slack-jawed yokel who claims to have seen a UFO, I will say that if these were planes, they were like no planes I’ve ever seen. It’s important to note that we live close to Detroit Metro Airport, so we get jets flying over our house all the time. In fact, four flew overhead at the end of tonight’s garbage run. As a matter of comparison, the strange lights I saw were traveling so fast that they made the known jets I saw look slow and cumbersome by comparison. Also, the lights were much different.

Not the First Time I’ve Seen a UFO
I don’t tell everyone this, but tonight’s experience wasn’t the first time I’ve seen a UFO. I had a much closer encounter on April 2, 1992. The reason I know the date is because it was the day I got married to my first wife.

Long story short, we were driving to Emporia, Kansas from Burlington, Kansas on a two-lane, rural highway. On the right, was a farmhouse with a gigantic cornfield. Hovering above that cornfield were four, circular lights that were glowing a bright but soft white. These lights cast no glare, and although I could not see what type of craft they were attached to, neither my then-wife nor I heard any sound although these lights couldn’t have been more than 50 feet off the ground.

Having seen “Fire In the Sky: The Travis Walton Story” only weeks before, we were pretty freaked out by what we were experiencing. Other motorists on the road seemed to feel quite the opposite. The two cars ahead of us, and at least one driver behind us, pulled off to the side of the road to stare at this unidentified craft/lighter source. Me? I put the pedal to the metal and got the hell out of there!

Have You Seen Anything?
If you’re in southeast Michigan – or anywhere else – and saw something resembling what I’ve described tonight, put a message in this blog. Really, if you’ve had any experience with the unknown or paranormal, feel free to share i here. As you can probably see, I’m rather open-minded about these things…

About J.P. Ribner
J.P. Ribner is the author of Viking fantasy adventure series “The Berserker’s Saga.” Currently, the saga features two novels – “Legacy of the Bear” and “Prophecy of the Bear.” For more about his written work, check out his website.

Palace2   As a kid, I used to love pizza. I would get excited when my mom and dad would tell me were were having pizza for dinner. I can still remember the fresh-out-of-the-oven taste… it was so good, it was worth risking a burn to the roof of my mouth to get that first bite!

Now, I can barely stand most of what passes for “pizza” these days.

Eating Pizza in the 1970s
Being born in 1970, I had the distinct pleasure of knowing what good pizza was supposed to be. First of all, it wasn’t just about the pizza, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Eating pizza in the 70s didn’t mean picking up a phone and calling the closes delivery pizza place; instead, it meant going to something called a “pizza parlor,” also known as a “pizzeria.”

For any Millenials who might be reading this, a pizza parlor was an actual restaurant where you and your family went to enjoy lunch or dinner. The old-time pizza parlors were rather unique by today’s standards. Generation Y won’t be able to relate to pizza place that:

  • Has wood-paneled walls.
  • Has a mini working jukebox at each table.
  • Paper place-mats that feature the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Coliseum in Rome, and other Italian architecture and highlights.
  • Pizza chefs who actually tossed the pizza dough in the air, a talent that is both art, sport, and science.
  • Pizza served at your table on round, stainless steel plates supported by a stainless steel column.
  • If you were lucky, there was also at least one video game, usually Space Invaders or Asteroids, that us kids could play while we waiting for our hand-tossed pizza to be made.
  • As to the pizza itself, it had rounded crusts about an inch or two in diameter that was chewy but not greasy nor heavy, while the sauce was a salted, well-seasoned blend of Italian herbs and spices.

Palace  Palace Pizzeria in Flint, Michigan
When the Ribner family wanted to go out for pizza, we packed into the family car and dad drove us to Palace Pizzeria at 3905 Clio Road in Flint, Michigan. Being only about a mile from Trauma Central made Palace a regular dinner destination for us Ribners. Being from New York City, my dad particularly enjoyed Palace because the food there reminded him of the pizza he used to eat while growing up in the Big Apple.

My brother and I loved it to for all the reasons listed above – it was a genuine pizza parlor. Needless to say, my family and I went there until its eventual demise, sometime in the early to mid-1980s.

Pizza in the 1980s
Sometime during the 1980s, the old-time pizza parlors and pizzerias like Palace quickly began to disappear. They were quickly being replaced by a new business model that not only promised your pizza to be made in record time, the people making it also would toss it into a car – sometimes literally – and drive it to your house.

Personally, I believe this new pizza business model was a direct reflection in the rise of two-income households, which was a trend during the 1980s. With both mom and dad working – or mom working in a single-parent household – few people had time to cook, let alone spend an hour or more at a restaurant while Mr. DaFazio flings away back in the kitchen. The pizza made by these quick-delivery joints were still pretty good during this era.

Note: The 1980s also saw a rise in the “family fun center” pizzeria. With marquees such as Showbiz Pizza Place and Chuck E. Cheese’s, these restaurants combined the appeal of pizza with the fun of video arcades and carnival games to become a huge hit for the young and young at heart. I won’t dissect these places here, since I believe they deserve a blog post of their own. (Stay tuned!)

I Blame Corporations
Sometime during the 90s, the quality of your average delivery pizza took a horrible turn for the worse. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happened here. The ingredients in pizza, even delivery pizza, was no longer being chosen by the owner of the place that made the pies. Now these decisions were being made in the corporate boardroom.

As is always the case, a corporation will choose profits over quality, and second- and third-rate ingredients that offer a higher profit margin became the norm. The result: Pizza pies just ain’t what the used to be!

Rons   Flint’s Best Pizza Sauce
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Ron’s Pizza & Ice Cream, my go-to pizza parlor in the late 80s, early 90s. Located at 3122 Fenton Road on the south side of Flint, Ron’s had the most tasty pizza sauce I’ve ever had the pleasure to enjoy, bar none. Seriously people, it was that good. After eating there on and off for a year, I got to know its then-owners – Ron and Don Schmidt – and they divulged at least one of the sauce’s secret ingredients: anchovies.

Would you believe that grinding up one or two anchovies into the tomato sauce adds a certain saltiness to it. When combined with the other herbs and spices masterfully mixed by the Schmidt brothers, the results were out of this world. Sadly, the brothers sold their interests in the restaurant long ago, and I’ve heard that the new owners eventually shuttered the place.

If you know the Schmidts – or used to work at Ron’s – I would be eternally grateful if you would share the sauce recipe with me. My wife is an amazing cook, and she could no doubt replicate that famous recipe… and probably add some intriguing twists of her own.

Gracie   A New (Pizza) Hope
While Palace Pizzeria might be long gone, I’m happy to report that there is a least one old-time pizza parlor near my new home in Novi, Michigan. One of the many benefits to marrying a Detroit girl is my wife’s knowledge of great places to eat in and around the Motor City. One of them is Gracie See’s Pizzeria. Located at 6889 Greenfield Road in Detroit, Gracie See’s boasts the ambiance of the old-time pizza places I came to know and love as a kid.

But how’s the pizza?

It’s freakin’ delicious! The folks at Gracie See’s pride themselves on being old school, right down to hand-tossing the dough. The sauce features an intriguing mix of herbs and spices, and in perhaps the most interesting twist, chopped garlic is an actual item you can order on your pie. And they’re not stingy with it, either! If you’re planning to be in the D, you owe it to yourself – and your love for old-school pizza – to have dinner at Gracie See’s.

In fact, if you’re down here, let me know. I’ll pack the family in the truck and meet you there!

About J.P. Ribner
J.P. Ribner is the author of Viking fantasy adventure series “The Berserker’s Saga.” Currently, the saga features two novels – “Legacy of the Bear” and “Prophecy of the Bear.” For more about his written work, check out his website.

Flint.Auto   Though I’m sometimes loathe to admit it, my one-time dream was to be a singer/songwriter.

Growing up in Flint, Michigan, I suppose I was fortunate to take part in a small but vibrant local music scene centered around a performance space for original local acts. It really was the only one of its kind at the time, since most bars in the area at that time wanted heavy metal and Southern rock cover bands. (Think Lynnrd Skynnrd on Quaaludes.)

dream  As fate would have it, the powers-that-be in said music scene found it in their hearts to let my band perform a few shows over the years. The moment following our first song, we got a LOT of requests… but we kept playing, anyway. Sadly, those days had to come to an end, as previously chronicled here and there on Trauma Central.

I have plenty of fond memories of my time in Flint’s underground music scene. I was fortunate enough to have the honor of playing my first-ever show on the Capital Theater’s main stage. While shows are no longer held there, the founders of the Flint scene are continuing their tradition of dedication to original music with the Flint Local 432, an all-ages, non-profit, substance free music and performing arts venue located in downtown Flint.

While my days of being an active musician might be over, my desire to perfect my lyric-writing craft remains. Since I owe a debt of gratitude to the founders of Flint’s punk and alternative rock scene, I see it only fitting to write at least one song about my hometown. And what says “Flint, Michigan” better than General Motors and the city’s strong auto industry past… and it’s fading future.

Some might read these lyrics and think, “This is like Ben Hamper’s ‘Rivethead: Tales from the Assembly Line’ in lyrical form, I think these lyrics are more complex than that. I come from a long line of schoolteachers, thus working in Flint’s auto factories was never in my blood nor an expected birthright.

Thus, enjoy this outsider’s view of what it was like to grow up in Flint during the height of GM’s popularity in the 1970s…

Propped Up to Die
lyrics by J.P. Ribner

We were told we could have everything,
all we had to do was try
On this carousel of sadness,
we are propped up to die

The whistle blows, a siren’s call,
Proud men from southern mountains
To the land of rust and honey,
To build castles in the sand
Every man a king
Strong backs and strong traditions
Ignoring all that’s written
For a birthright in our hands

Propped up to die, you’ll do what they told ya
Propped up to die, like a good little soldier
We were told we could have everything,
all we had to do was try
Propped up to die

No whistle blows, a siren’s call
We lost boys roam the valley
In shadows cast by carnival steel
Wait our vicious, roving bands
Every promise broken
Leaves us scarred, marked and shaven
Our birthright burns in flames
Holding ashes in our hands

Propped up to die, you’ll do what they told ya
Propped up to die, like a good little soldier
We were told we could have everything,
all we had to do was try
Propped up to die (x2)

Feed the beast,
feed the machine
This city feeds
on dying dreams
Our eyes are blind,
our hearts are stone
Let this armchair be my throne
Let this armchair be my throne
Let this armchair be my throne
Let this armchair be my throne
Let this armchair be my throne

We were told we could have everything…

About J.P. Ribner
J.P. Ribner is the author of Viking fantasy adventure series “The Berserker’s Saga.” Currently, the saga features two novels – “Legacy of the Bear” and “Prophecy of the Bear.” For more about his written work, check out his website.