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David Churchill Barrow

How the Star Wars Sequels Could Have Succeeded

Use the Force, Disney

When did Star Wars “jump the shark?” Compared to Star Trek, right out of the gate….  Star Trek was from the very beginning back in the mid-sixties a reasonable and optimistic extrapolation into the future of the historical course of American well-ordered liberty.

Johnny Tremain: Rites of Passage in Classical Literature for Boys, Part 4

And some of us would die – so other men can stand up on their feet like men. A great many are going to die for that. They have in the past. They will a hundred years from now – two hundred. God grant there will always be men good enough.”

Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes is an overtly moralistic tale, and an unabashed, old-fashioned ode to the patriotism and spirit of the founding generation. It was written in the afterglow of “the Greatest Generation’s” victory in WWII. Its protagonist begins the story as a uniquely talented and bright silversmith’s apprentice. Johnny was only too aware of his best qualities – which in turn brought out his worst. He lorded over and bullied the other apprentices, especially the older but duller Dove. The blowback was disastrous – literally crippling – and changed the course of a life Johnny had well planned.

Roseanne: The Ultimate Reality Show

What is the secret to the success of the rebooted sitcom?

Obviously in a strict sense Roseanne is not a reality show – the Connor family is fictional.  It does portray the foibles of working class life humorously and accurately, but that does not set it apart from the myriad of other good sitcoms. What garnered 18 million viewers, generated a cultural phenomenon, and has set the left’s hair on fire is Roseanne’s and Dan’s clear-eyed view of the world as it actually exists, and their anticipation of unintended consequences.

Raising Sheep Dogs in a World of Wolves & Sheep

Continuing a dialogue on how to raise strong men with strong literature…

Mike Baron writes, “A lot of young folks ain’t readin’.  Just ain’t readin’.  Weren’t raised that way.” Alas, so true….  But part of the reason – for young boys at least – they’re not given much of anything they’d actually like to read. Give ‘em what they crave, and it will lead to all that “toxic masculinity” dontcha know.

Rites of Passage in Classical Literature for Boys, Part 3: Treasure Island

“’One more step, Mr. Hands,’ said I, ‘and I’ll blow your brains out!  Dead men don’t bite, you know,’ I added, with a chuckle….  Something sang like an arrow through the air; I felt a blow and then a sharp pang, and there I was pinned by the shoulder to the mast.  In the horrid pain and surprise of the moment – I scarce can say it was by my own volition, and I am sure it was without a conscious aim – both my pistols went off, and both escaped out of my hands.  They did not fall alone; with a choked cry the coxswain loosed his grasp upon the shrouds, and plunged head first into the water.”

What inspired the author, Robert Louis Stevenson, to place his protagonist in such a precarious position; high up the mizzenmast, looking down upon a half-drunk, half hungover pirate twice his size, bent upon seeing the young Jim Hawkins to “Davy Jones’ locker?”

Rites of Passage in Classic Literature for Boys, Part 2: Kidnapped

“The round-house was like a shambles; three were dead inside, another lay in his death agony across the threshold; and there were Alan and I victorious and unhurt.   He came up to me with open arms.  ‘Come to my arms!’ he cried, and embraced and kissed me hard upon both cheeks. ‘David,’ said he, ‘I love you like a brother.  And O, man,’ he cried in a kind of ecstasy, ‘am I no’ a bonny fighter?’  Thereupon he turned to the four enemies, passed his sword clean through each of them, and tumbled them out of doors one after the other.”

Thus ended “the siege of the round-house” onboard the brig Covenant in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped, and the beginning of David Balfour’s journey from boy to man.

Is There a War on Boys in the Classroom? You Bet Your ‘Treasure Island’ There Is!

Once upon a time long ago there was a little boy in a 4th grade classroom staring out the window, not paying much attention to the teacher droning on and on like the adults in a Peanuts cartoon….  Beneath that window and upon the radiator stood a new display of books, and in that display he saw the abridged version of R.L. Stevenson’s Kidnapped (see above).   The cover illustration was the coolest depiction of a sword fight the kid had ever seen.  He just HAD to read that book.  Next came the unabridged version….  Then came Treasure Island….  The kid became hopelessly hooked on history, both fiction and non-fiction.  When he played outside at recess he was David Balfour, Jim Hawkins, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, the little drummer boy of Shiloh, and Wyatt Earp.

That kid was me….

The Remnant 100

You’ve heard of the 300 defending the “Hot Gates” (Thermopylae)? Well, with apologies to Longfellow, “Listen my children and you shall hear of the 100 men who saved all we hold dear.” You may have also heard or seen the movie Darkest Hour about Churchill, the advent of the Battle of Britain and all that, but the “darkest hour” for the Anglo-Saxon race was not May-June 1940; it was January 878….

‘…death and killing in real life isn’t like on TV or in the movies.’

An excerpt from Silver and Lead

A grandfather strives to teach his grandchildren the truth about the Old West.