Twelve Tweets


Resent the feeling I’m writing for @jack for free on his website, so I’m putting my Twitter-length thoughts here.

Anecdotally feel people are getting MORE into astrology as some demonstration or fuck you and I love it!

Already pissed about my smartass grandkids giving me some revisionist take on how Trump “actually did a lot of good”

I find it very boring to just sit and watch TV.  I don’t think I’m alone and I think this will lead to enormous changes.

Big Bang Theory is a less a comedy than a kind of therapy that helps American moms and dads love their gay sons

Feels impossible to express my main opinion, which is we don’t need everyone’s damn opinion on everything

What if Oprah runs and loses to Donald Trump?

Saying “you make me laugh” can either be loving or mean

My worst most evil opinion is I can’t help kind of liking Steve Bannon because he’s funny

Hard to really wrap your head around how unnecessary the movie The Trip To Spain is.  But here I am watching it.

Always enjoy the importance Drudge places on Bret Easton Ellis’s annual movie picks

Heard a sound outside like NRRNRNRNRNRNRN — it was a truck sucking the piss and shit out of the Port-A-Potties at the construction site!

Fun to try to eat a salad like it’s a bowl of chips

Mark Four

this is the fourth in our series on the Book Of Mark.

Mark One, about the scraps of Mark on Papyrus One.

Mark Two, an intro to Mark, and what’s going on with it.

Mark Three,  about “The Secret Gospel of Mark,” and now Mark Four, about J. B. Phillips.

Also He said to them, “Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lampstand? 22 For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light.23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

That’s how the King James Version does Mark 4:21.  Here’s how J. B. Philips does it:

Then he said to them,

“Is a lamp brought into the room to be put under a bucket or underneath the bed?  Surely it’s place is on the lamp-stand!  There is nothing hidden which is not meant to be made perfectly plain one day, and there are no secrets which are not meant one day to be common knowledge.  If a man has ears he should use them!

Wanting to know more about the guy I was trusting to translate my Mark for me, I read J. B.’s book:

It’s good and short and clearly written, much like Mark.  J. B.’s strongest point is that the Gospels seem true to him because, well, who could make this stuff up?


That kind of reminded me of the several times in the Quran where Allah says, hey, if you don’t believe this, let’s see you write a Quran.

Surprised to find, in the next Phillips I picked up, a description of my workplace.

I can’t say The Price Of Success was exactly a page-turner.  JB Phillips had a hard childhood, but through diligence earned himself a place at Cambridge, became an Anglican churchman, and started translating The New Testament during World War II.

No surprise that he was pals, or at least sometime correspondents, with C. S. Lewis.

I often heard Lewis’s Screwtape Letters recommended for young Christians in my youth.  When I finally got to the book (audiobook) I found it a really stiff and unattractive vision.  How did Christianity, which, when you get back to the source, was unquestionably weird, get claimed by stiff collar types like C. S. Lewis?

I found Ring Of Truth to be a more compelling read.

In Price of Success, Phillips is very open and honest about his struggles with depression.

No doubt hearing this, from a respected Christian leader in 1984, was really helpful to people.  The book was published two years after his death.

Am I allowed you quote you by the way, J. B.?



Mark Five: Strange Tales Of Jesus!


Mary Anne Trump

One of our most popular posts is on Fred Trump, outrageous, villainous, smiling agent of chaos much like his son.

But we never really thought about Trump’s mother.  Mothers should be off limits maybe?  Even Trumps have mothers.  A hasty misreading of this Kellyanne Conway quote:

Got us to look into it.

Stunned to find Trump’s mother was a Gaelic-speaking immigrant from a remote Scottish island.

Hailing from the Outer Hebrides

Mary Anne MacLeod was born in Tong, on Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, United Kingdom, in a pebbledashcroft house numbered “5 Tong”


She was raised in a Scottish Gaelic-speaking household with her second language being English, which she learned at Tong school where it was reported she was a star pupil. Mary attended the school up until the eighth grade. Her father was a crofter, fisherman and compulsory officer (truancy officer). According to one profile, she was “brought up in an environment marked by isolation, privation and gloom.”

Wow.  She’s pretty much from the Iron Islands.

You can see her interviewed in 1994 on Irish television, RTé, here.  She has an interesting accent.  She speaks of her love of Irish and Scottish music.

She claims Trump is meeting Steven Spielberg?


Dreamtime and Dreaming

This book is absolutely great.  A+.  

Read it because my explorations of Aboriginal art

led me to want to know more about the Dreamtime and the Dreaming concept.

Stanner is so thoughtful and patient.  This book is worth it for the essay on Aboriginal humor alone:

What do Aborigines think is funny?

One of Stanner’s points is the “abiding” quality of Aboriginal life: the sense that the world is not necessary here for us to change and improve it.  As Robert Manne says in his intro,

for them changelessness was both the desired and the anticipated state of the world.

Very pleased this book was published by my own Australian publisher, Black Inc Books

Leading lights of Australian lit.  

Some of W. E. H. Stanner’s essays were originally published by Australian National University Press as White Man Got No Dreaming (1979).  That’s not true, I thought, so I picked up a book about white man’s dreaming.

We certainly do have different ways of thinking about dreaming, and Dreamtime. 



Reviewing my notes and recalling that one of my projects over the holidays was designing a house.

David Brooks and the Sidney Awards

David Brooks is alternately interesting, thought-provoking, and punch in the face infuriating.

We reviewed his book The Road To Character here, published shortly before he divorced his wife and married his assistant? which kinda sums up the whole deal.  Believe we’ve read all his books, and most of his columns, so he’s doing his job of getting our attention.

Impression of Brooks was shaped in a new way when we read this book:

Bacevich reminds us of some of the brave, cavalier statements Brooks put out there in the runup to Iraq War Two

“Come on people, let’s get a grip!” says Brooks.

Bacevich’s son was killed in Iraq.

If you’re a columnist, you’re gonna be wrong a lot.  How should you deal with that?  Bacevich’s larger point is that we could all do a better job on behalf of the people we’re putting in harm’s way.

We do enjoy Brooks’ annual roundup of good essays, The Sidney Awards.

The oral testimony by Dr. Kevin Menes was a bit over my head in terms of technical, medical expertise, and Brooks’ summary sufficed for me.

Oral testimony is compelling, why isn’t more of it published?

Phil Christman’s essay On Being Midwestern: The Burden of Normality was interesting as well.

Christman touches on the Midwestern humor of Garrison Keillor and Letterman.  For our taste, writing about the Midwest gets stronger and more compelling the more humor it contains.  If you’re interested in a funny, personal, quirky take on the Midwest, might we recommend Andy Sturdevant’s book?

Full of drawings and peculiar observations, centered around Minneapolis.  We were put on to this one by the great and mysterious Raynor Ganan, an old Boyland discovery.  Raynor’s Internet presence has declined but one hopes his physical presence prospers.

Brooks includes Caitlin Flanagan’s article about a Penn State frat.  Caitlin Flanagan is a favorite of all of us at Helytimes.  All her writing is worth reading.  We thought this one of hers was a good one:

Next, Brooks has a Michael Lind essay about the rise of the managerial class, which was terrific.

In the American South, most populist politicians gave up or sold out. In some cases, like that of Texas governor and senator W. Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel, a country music singer, they were simply folksy fronts for corporate and upper-class interests all along. The few populists who maintained some independence were those who could finance themselves, usually by corrupt means. Louisiana governor Huey Long could battle the ruling families and the powerful corporations because he skimmed money from state employee checks and kept it in a locked “deduct box.” In Texas, anti-Klan populist governor James “Pa” Ferguson, along with his wife Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, who was elected governor after her husband was impeached on the slogan “Two Governors for the price of one,” sold pardons to the relatives of convicted criminals. As billionaires who could finance their own campaigns, Ross Perot and Donald Trump could claim, with some justification, to be free to run against the national establishment.

We took a class from Michael Lind at Harvard U., ground zero for managerial class thinking.  He was so cool!  One of the most profound, historically informed, balanced Big Picture thinkers out there.

(In this photo from Wikipedia he looks kinda like Steve Bannon’s better-behaved brother.)

But here’s a q: aren’t takes like this, taking on the managerial class, written by and for the managerial class, even if they’re attacking the managerial class, kind of a way of flattering the managerial class?

If David freakin’ Brooks is quoting approvingly an article about how guys like David Brooks are screwing everything up, where does that leave us?





(and now here we are writing about his take!)

Says Lind:

Neoliberalism plus, also called “inclusive capitalism,” is the preferred response of the transatlantic managerial class to the populist revolts in Europe and America. Essentially, neoliberalism plus is Reagan-Thatcher-Clinton-Blair neoliberalism with more subsidies to the “losers” of globalization. The disempowerment of non-elite citizens by the oligarchic capture of politics and the destruction of unions would not be altered. But the masses would be bribed into acquiescence by means of higher wage subsidies, like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in the United States, or perhaps a universal basic income providing every citizen a poverty wage.

Great!  Sounds good to me!  What is the next sentence?

While something like this will undoubtedly be tried in many Western countries, the economics do not work.

Dammit!  Elsewhere Lind is quite tough on The Economist’s worldview.

That is our roundup on the Sidney Awards, a subject that we predict will interest… Vali?  Maybe one or two other readers.

For those of you wondering, our series on the Book of Mark will continue in the New Year!

We’re developing a Very Interesting theory about who wrote Mark, and the bromance at the heart of the story.

“We’re working on a theory of the Gospel of Mark” is definitely something a not crazy person says on their website.

See you in 2018!



Training Literature Field Unit No. 1

Helytimes began in 2012.  Our idea was

  1. become good at writing for the Internet
  2. a writer should have a website
  3. have a space to collect, digest and share items of interest.

We’ve tried to come up with a mission statement or guiding purpose, but the truth is, this is stuff we had to get out of our head.

The healthiest thing to do was share it.

The best way to put it might be a place to share crazy interesting things we’ve come across.

Since then we’ve published over 1,050 posts.  We’re just now starting to get good at it, in our opinion.

Here are the twenty-one most popular posts:

  1. No On Measure S (by guest Hayes)

The moral here is probably that we should start a local LA news-and-takes site written by other people.

  1. Sundown, Gordon Lightfoot (1974)

  2. Mountaineering Movies on Netflix Instant, Ranked

  3. Fred Trump

  4. Cinderella and Interrogation Technique

  5. The Great Debates 

  6. Karl Ove Knausgaard

  7. Fascinated by: Ray Dalio

  8. How Big Was Mexico City in 1519?

  9. American Historical Figure Who Reminds Me Of Trump

  10. Losing The War by Lee Sandlin 

  11. Conversations With Kennedy

  12. Oil Wells In National Parks


  14. Gay Hobo Slang

  15. Vertigo Sucks

  16. Jackie Smoking Pregnant

  17. The story of Cahokia

  18. Ireland should take in two million refugees 

  19. Twenty Greatest Australian Artistic Accomplishments of All Time 

  20. The White House Pool 

One lesson here might be to have more local LA journalism written by other people.  Keep meaning to start a whole site for that but I do have a full-time job plus several other projects.

In our opinion the most successful post on Helytimes was

Record Group 80: Series: General Photographic File Of the Department of the Navy, 1943-1958 

although it didn’t crack the top 21, just felt like a time where we added something of value to the Internet and readers responded.

It’s about the work of the Naval Aviation Photographic Unit, also known as the Training Literature Field Unit No. 1, assembled by the great photographer Edward Steichen.

One thread of Helytimes is attempts to reach into the past and find the sources that give us understanding of the past.

Two personal favorites:

Everything is something.


Special Snowflakes

This has been the annual performance review and address to the Helytimes readership:

That photo taken by one of Steichen’s guys, Wayne Miller: