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.

circus1   The clown goes up, the clown comes down, but don’t let him splat his guts all over the ground. That’s the essence of Exidy’s Circus, one of the many amazing video games from my youth.

I was a sensitive kid. In the 1970s and 80s, I lacked the predator-like aggressiveness so common among my peers. As such, 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.

Someone Told me About a Video Game Called Circus
I first heard about the video game Circus on the school bus. There were these two brothers – Marvelous Marv and DJ Chien – who were the epitome of cool. At least to me, they were. They were into all the things cool, such as martial arts, fantasy role-playing games, and video games. I hung on their every word and tried so hard to become their friend.

It was Marvelous who gave me the 411. As he described it, the game involved two clowns on a teeter totter or seesaw. You bounced one up into the air and tried to pop as many balloons as you could. But you had to catch him on the teeter totter as he came back down. “If you miss,” Marvelous said, “he splats on the ground and makes a sound that would gross out a pig!” I became intrigued.

Playing Circus at Circus World in the Genesee Valley Center
Marvelous gave me the 411 on Circus. It was just inside a toy store called Circus World (ironically) in the Genesee Valley Mall. This meant that I actually had a chance to play it. Being the scapegoat of the family, my parents wouldn’t just take me to an arcade. They would let me take my brother – the golden child – to Circus World, though. (He deserved a new toy each week, after all.) I devised my evil plan.

I was well prepared that day we went to Circus World. Being the fashion whore that he was, my father was likely to spend hours at Robert David Allen. Likewise, our mom would was purchasing something from every woman’s fashion store outside Hudson’s. “Sure Mom! I’ll take (my brother) to Circus World.” I’m surprised she didn’t hear the quarters jingling and clanking together in my pocket as I ran.

I Finally Got to Play Circus
I’ll bet you’re wondering if the game was as good as I expected. It was better! I’m not sure how many quarters I pumped into that crazy machine, but it still wasn’t enough to satisfy my balloon-popping desires. And Marvelous was right, the sound of the clowns’ bodies smashing into the concrete was enough to gross out a pig. My love of 1980s video games was born!

About the Game Circus by Exidy
Although I played Circus in the early 1980s, it was released in 1977. The game play is like Pong or Atari’s Breakout, but don’t let that spoil it for you. Circus was a fun, amusing, challenging game. It would likely gather dust before the kids of today would play it; but these kids are spoiled by Call of Duty, etc. I’m still old school, and I would proudly own an upright Circus cabinet in my own.

Kick_Man_Arcade_Cabinet   Other 1980s Video Games with Clowns and Balloons
There was another 1908s video game to feature a clown-like man and balloons. Released in December 1981, Kick (later renamed Kick-Man) by Midway featured a clown on a unicycle. The player had to maneuver him beneath falling balloons, where it was stack upon his head. Pac Mans also would fall. If caught, they would eat your balloons, giving you extra points. If you missed a balloon on its way down, you could try to kick it back up into the air for another chance to catch or pop it.

For my fellow Flintstones: I remember playing Kick at Playland North on Pasadena Avenue. Wasn’t it located in the long, back room on the western side of the building? Back there with Punchout and Gravitar?

Where to Find Info on All 1980s Arcade Games
If you’re a fan of 1908s video games, you owe it to yourself to visit Killer List of Video Games. There is no better arcade game encyclopedia than K.L.O.V. It features a decent pages about Circus and Kick/Kick-Man. If you remember the names of your favorite arcade games from the 70s and 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!
Circus 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 such as Venture, 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, please share some of 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.

danegeld  “Give me (some outrageous demand), or I will (do something that negatively affects you and impedes your goals.)”

If this sounds familiar, then someone is probably trying to force you to appease them. My advice: Tell them to “fuck off” now. Seriously. There is no appeasing people like this because they actually don’t want to be appeased. Their goal is one of a constant grievance, a constant demand to be made whole, yet none of your efforts will ever do that.

To underscore my point, consider this quote from British military historian and strategist, Sir Basil Liddell Hart:

“It is folly to imagine that the aggressive types, whether individuals or nations, can be bought off … since the payment of danegeld stimulates a demand for more danegeld. But they can be curbed. Their very belief in force makes them more susceptible to the deterrent effect of a formidable opposing force.”

*Note: Danegeld is “Danish Gold,” aka the bribes countries used to pay Danish Vikings not to raid. History has shown that this policy didn’t work because the Viking’s price kept on going up, and other Vikings started demanding it too. Even after being paid large sums of gold and treasure, the Vikings often raided, anyway.

Appeasing People Never Works!

So what is Sir Basil Liddell Hart trying to teach us here? In my opinion, he’s really trying to tell us three things… three simple truths that few people consider when dealing with people who are making ridiculous demands:

1. Threatening to take something away from someone until you are appeased is an act of aggression, and anyone who does this is an aggressive person.

2. Appeasing someone carries with it NO guarantee of reciprocal behavior on the part of the aggressor. (In fact, it often produces the opposite effect.)

3. When threatened, it is best to respond with force, since force – not reason, ideas, or soft talk – is the only thing that aggressive people respect and respond to.

The problem is that many people have a hard time believing that the people in their life can be aggressive or act out in an aggressive manner. Instead, we make excuses for the people in our lives. “Oh, she didn’t mean that. You just don’t know her like I do.” Or how about this one: “He’s not normally mean… It’s just the whiskey that makes him that way.” Whatever the reason, whatever the excuse, people are inherently aggressive and they act out on their aggression. It’s just that simple.

Trying to Appease Mr. FanTAStic

To prove my point about appeasement, I’ll share a personal story. (No advice is complete without one, in my opinion.) It happened long ago when I used to front a punk rock band in Flint, Michigan. Long story short, we took in a new member – “Mr. FanTAStic.” And he was a rather talented musician… and we needed him at the time. The problem was, Mr. FanTAStic knew this, and he began making small demands. It was always the same thing: “Give me what I want or I’ll quit.”

Against my better judgement, we paid Mr. FanTAStic his “danegeld,” and this created a pattern. His subsequent demands continued, each one more difficult to satisfy than the next… but still, we kept paying the danegeld, always hoping that his most recent demand would be his last. I quickly began to resent his constant threat to quit the band unless he got what he wanted.

Perhaps Mr. FanTAStic thought that this could go on forever. Sadly, he was wrong. Eventually, the day came where the demand he made was so outrageous, so insulting, that I could no longer hold my tongue. I finally exploded upon him after and unleashed months of pent up anger and frustration. (For a more detailed account, read here.)

Appeasing People Never Ends

I kicked Mr. FanTAStic out of the band, but it did little good at that point. The rest of the band – so-called “friends” who’d been with the project long before Mr. FanTAStic showed up – now saw me as some sort of psychotic monster for the way I yelled at him. This was the least of my worries.

Mr. FanTAStic’s antics seemed to have inspired the other members of the band. Not long after his departure, they began making demands for their own “danegeld.” I almost couldn’t blame them; it worked for Mr. FanTAStic, after all. Seeing that I would be spending more time trying to please them than I would playing music, I pulled the plug on the project and haven’t talked to those guys since.

Appeasement is a Bad Long-Term Strategy

Those who make demands are aggressive people, and holding your relationship hostage is a blatant act of aggression. And much like the historical vikings, these folks can never be appeased because appeasement is never their goal. These calculating miscreants have a diabolical long-term strategy: to drain you of everything you have, then cast you aside before moving on to their next victim.

If you followed the link to the original story, you’ll see that finally standing up to Mr. FanTAStic was the only thing that ceased his demands. And pulling the plug on the band was the only way to stop the other guys’ demands for danegeld. While this ended my days in the local music scene – I never could get another band together – it allowed me to pursue my writing career. In the end, I’m much happier having to rely only upon myself to find fulfillment through my art.

Not All Vikings are Bad

Not all vikings/Norsemen demanded “Danegeld.” Check out my novel “Legacy of the Bear” and its sequel, “Prophecy of the Bear.” This fantasy-adventure series follows the life of Autar Magnusson, a young Norseman who faces his greatest fears in order to become a man… and so much more. Fans of fantasy fiction such as “The Hobbit,” “Lord of the Rings” and “Game of Thrones” will love my Berserker’s Saga novels.

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.

gun.memeThat seems to be the “logic” of this Facebook meme, which I’m more than happy to debunk.

This meme illustrates the dishonesty of Democrat’s growing cadre of unhinged fanatics. From their mouths, their representatives preach a moderate stance on what they call “gun control” – case in point, Hillary and Bernie’s comments during the debate – but memes such as this betray the real agenda of of those who would vote for this would-be Socialist dictators.

Intellectual Dishonesty of the Left Re: Gun Control
When it comes to their anti-gun message, the Left continues to be dishonest, insidious, and malicious. This meme is a perfect example. It draws a false equivalence between slavery and gun ownership, even though the two are completely unrelated issues. Also, it highly suggests the Left’s ultimate goal: to rid the Constitution of the 2nd Amendment.

Diabolical Democrats and Their Hidden Messages
So why mention gun ownership and slavery in the same context? That simple. They wish to link the two subjects to create the appearance that one is equal to the other. When you read it, did your mind fill with images of angry white men – neo-Nazis, the KKK, white supremacists, and militia/survivalists? Chances are it did, and that exactly what the meme’s creators were hoping you would do.

This tactic is called a false equivalence. It’s a logical fallacy that describes a situation where there is a logical and apparent equivalence, but when in fact there is none. In this case, here’s what the creators of this meme want you to think: gun ownership is akin to the owning of slaves. Owning slaves is evil and immoral, thus America abolished the practice. Now it’s time to abolish gun ownership because it, like slavery, is evil. Learn more about false equivalence here.

Moreover, this tactic is a common practice in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and subliminal messaging. You don’t have to be an expert in either of these disciplines to see this. One only needs to know enough about these tactics to recognize when they are being used. (Note: NLP and subliminal messaging aren’t inherently evil. Like most things, the good or bad of it is determined in individual cases of usage.)

Gun Advocates Were Right All Along
If you’re pro-gun like I am, you’ve probably already experienced the verbal barbs of progressives and social justice warriors. They love to make fun of us if we say things such as, “The liberals want to take away our guns!” or “Obama is going to take our guns.” Whether we actually say these things or not, we get called crackpots, paranoid, gun nuts, etc. while they (falsely) preach a moderate position on gun control. (Consider Bernie and Hillary’s comments during the Democratic Debate.)

So I’ll say it again, the gun advocates were right all along. When I see this and other memes being shared by those who vote Democrat – two of my Facebook friends – I can draw no other conclusion than to say that the Left wants to take away everyone’s right to bear arms. They want, as the meme clearly states, to do away with the Second Amendment. And they’re not above tricking, duping, and manipulating YOU into going along with them.

You Fail Again, Progressives and Internet Social Justice Warriors!
By comparing gun ownership to the owning of slaves, you’re attempt goes a long way to rally more fanatics to this already-fanatical cause. I’m sure your friends at the coffee shop will be proud, but you’re not fooling me… or any of the hundreds of thousands of intelligent, responsible, conservative gun owners.

One More Thing About Responsible Gun Ownership…
I can’t say enough about Jay’s Sporting Goods in Clare, Michigan. Easily one of the biggest hunting, fishing, and camping supply stores in the state, with a wide selection of rifles, shotguns, and handguns. Note: I bought my first gun there – a H&K USP Mini in 9mm. (Too bad I sold it to pay for my divorce!) If your heading up north, it’s well worth your time to stop in at Jay’s… Their friendly, helpful staff will help you with anything you need.

Trump  Usually, I’m debunking Facebook memes but this time, I’ve found one with which I can agree.

Before I launch into my diatribe, I feel the need to disclose this: I am not a huge fan of “The Donald.” In fact, I’m not a small fan or even any kind of fan at all. At his most harmless, I consider him a carnival barker; at his worst, I believe he’s a Democrat plant to further discredit the Republican party. Furthermore, I think there are many on the G.O.P. roster who would make a better POTUS than the Trumpster, Dr. Ben Carson and Sen. Rand Paul, to name a few.

With that out of the way, I’ll address the meme, starting with its statement. Since at least the 1990s, liberals/progressives/social justice warriors have long relied on a tried-and-true tactic when they feel threatened in a political argument. It’s a tactic that combines both a strawman and ad hominem attack, and is rather effective at shutting down any opposition.

Quite simply, it works like this: if someone disagrees with the latest liberal policy, those who support it can simply call the detractor a racist, sexist, misogynist and/or homophobe in order to silence the opposition. While intellectually lazy, this tactic is amazingly effective since no one wants to be labelled any of these terms. We live in the social media age, and word of one’s perceived transgressions travels fast and far. Today, people labelled racist, for example, risk public ridicule, violence, and possibly even losing one’s job.

This is exactly what makes Trump so appealing.

“The Donald’s” angry diatribes against illegal immigration and other hot-button topics has become the voice of a specific American demographic long denied the opportunity to express theirs without fear of retribution. Being self-employed and independently wealthy, Trump doesn’t isn’t beholden to the purveyors of the current narrative, thus he shows no fear of the backlash of angry ISJWs screaming for his head on a platter. In short, this forms the basis of Donald’s appeal.

I’m not the first person to criticize the Left for its knee-jerk labeling and inability to withstand scrutiny. Yet even with so much criticism, the majority of those that make up this group continue to rely upon these tactics to silence their opposition. No surprise there… People will continue to engage in bad, immoral, and unruly behavior as long as said behavior continues to reward them. But in doing so, the American Left is completely ignore Newton’s Third Law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

As the meme states, if they keep this up, they might want to get used to the phrase “President Trump.”

autismmagnet   There’s something about being the parent of Autistic children that makes one more aware of possible dangers that all children face.

This lesson was brought to our front door quite literally on Thursday (September 3, 2015) when my wife, son, stepson and I were leaving to go to the grocery store. Walking out of the house, we found two tiny children standing in our patio. Upon seeing us, they started to run… straight into the street! We more or less chased them down and kept them penned in the yard across the street.

While all of that took place in the matter of seconds, I can look back upon it now and understand exactly why we did what we did. The short answer is that everything about the situation triggered our protective parental instincts and we acted upon them, with the logical parts of our brains eventually catching up to what we knew in our “guts:”

  1. Both of the children were very young and tiny. We estimated both of them to be under the age of five.

2. We did not recognize the children. Since we know most of our neighbors, we knew that these children were not from any of the homes in our immediate vicinity.

3. They appeared to be lost and simply wandering around, drawn to anything and everything that appeared interesting to them.

4. There appeared to be no parent/guardian anywhere around.

5. Something needed to be done to help these children, NOW!

Once we had the children more or less secured, we asked them where their mother/father was and where they lived, but received no answer. Initially, this didn’t surprise us because the children appeared to be of Indian descent, so we assumed the possibility of a language barrier.

The more we observed them, however, the more we began to suspect that the children – at least the boy – possibly was Autistic. It was in the way he walked – unable to stand still, curiously dashing from one thing to another – and the way in which he kept repetitively muttering to himself. Let’s just say that being parents of Autistic children ourselves, we recognized the signs. That’s when our instincts kicked in once again.

“I wonder if they got out of their house and ran away,” I said.

“I think so,” my wife replied.

As nearly any parent of an Autistic child knows, my wife and I believed we were dealing with a case of “elopement.” A common symptom of Autism, it’s defined as, “the act of leaving an area without permission or notification which usually leads to placing that individual in a potentially dangerous situation.”

Since no parent or guardian came forward, I called 911 and reported the incident of two lost children. While waiting for the officers to arrive, my wife asked the boy how old he was and he held up four fingers, and he also held up two fingers when asked his sister’s age. This completely confirmed our suspicions that these children were way too young to simply be running around our condo community unsupervised.

A few minutes before the police arrived, the a very frantic Indian woman came running down the street. Assuming her to be the parent/guardian, I shouted to her and waved, telling her that we had her children. The little girl ran to this woman and embraced her, convincing me that it was likely her mother. (In contrast, the little girl screamed, cried, and dropped to her knees whenever my wife tried to hold her hand.) Needless to say, the woman and was quite relieved and thankful for our intervention.

As we sat there talking, the mother confirmed much of what our instincts had told us. S said she while she was in the bathroom, her son unlocked the front door and he and his sister made a bolt for it. She came out of the bathroom to find her front door open and her children gone. She also told us that her son is, in fact, Autistic, which did not surprise us.

Minutes later, two good officers from our city’s police department arrived to take our statements. The mother profusely thanked us again, and we were finally on our way to the grocery store.What was supposed to be a quick run to Busch’s for some cheddar brats turned into so much more, as I do believe my wife and I quite likely saved those children from serious injury… or worse.

I share this story with anyone reading my blog not because I want to be a hero – whatever that is – but rather, to bring some attention to the needs and issues of Autistic children. More than once, I’ve been accused of being a “helicopter parent” for my constant hovering around my youngest son. What no one who’s used that label knows is that we had a similar experience with our son when he was about three years old.

Two things about my son: he’s extremely strong and he’s extremely fast. Long story short, in a manner of a few seconds, he pulled himself loose from a family member’s hand and bolted straight for a very busy road. Unable to catch up to him, the family member began screaming for help. Fortunately, my stepson and I heard the screams and were able to catch up to my fleeing son, tackling him and bringing him to a stop roughly 30 feet from the road.

We were lucky that day, extremely lucky, and it’s an experience I’ll never forget.

For those of you whose lives are not touched by Autism, please try to keep this story in mind. And try to understand that elopement is a serious issue, one that should not be taken lightly or dismissed in a casual or offhand manner. Most importantly, if you see a young child(ren) running around, seemingly lost or out of place and without a parent or guardian, step and up and do something to help! You might very well be saving the life of someone’s precious child.

On the day my wife and I helped these two children, at least three other adults – our neighbors – walked past these children and us, seemingly not wanting to get involved.

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.