Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

The Music Man – Till There Was You

An evening pause: Sung by Shirley Jones, from one of the greatest American musical films ever made, The Music Man (1962).

Diane and I have been watching a lot of those ’40s, 50s, and 60s American musicals. To today’s bitter and cynical youth, these films might seem to portray a too-perfect world filled with too much happiness and wealth. And while there is some truth to that cynical view, it is mostly wrong. The America portrayed in these films was actually quite like this. People were free, they were generally happy, and they lived a life of prosperity that no one before had ever seen. Nor are future generations likely to see such a life again during the coming dark centuries. These musicals provide a window into that time.

These musicals as well as most of the Hollywood movies prior to the 1960s are also quite unique in the history of literature and art in that they told stories not of kings or rulers or nobility, but of ordinary people. Such stories were rarely told before the coming of America. This fact also tells us much about the culture that then existed. It was ruled by those ordinary people, and thus the art and literature catered to them.

Which is why the Marxist power-driven culture that now dominates this country is desperate to ban the viewing of such art and the learning of that history. It tells a tale they cannot stomach.


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  • wayne

    Mr. Z.,
    –Any thoughts on the Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story? (to be released this coming December)

  • wayne: I know nothing about it so I have no thoughts, though knowing modern Hollywood I doubt it will be any good. I will glad if I am wrong.

  • wayne

    Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story”
    teaser trailer (april, 2021)

  • Edward

    Robert wrote: “one of the greatest American musical films ever made

    And that is saying something.

    These musicals as well as most of the Hollywood movies prior to the 1960s are also quite unique in the history of literature and art in that they told stories not of kings or rulers or nobility, but of ordinary people. Such stories were rarely told before the coming of America.This fact also tells us much about the culture that then existed. It was ruled by those ordinary people, and thus the art and literature catered to them.

    Literature, plays, and other such entertainments tend to be about the people who matter, the ones the audience is interested in. In Shakespeare’s time it was royalty. In Gene Kelly’s time and Jimmy Stewart’s time, it was the everyman. And maybe the music man and the librarian.

    On a personal note, the day I discovered Behind the Black, the Evening Pause was a video that played both this version of the song and the song from the 2003 television production with Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth. Sadly, that video seems to be gone, now.

  • wayne

    Go to yt and search the phrase: ‘the music man part 15’ for a clip of Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth from 2003.

    or, a solo version:

    Kristin Chenoweth – Till There Was You

  • wayne

    “The Patriarchy of ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ ”
    Louder With Crowder 2018 (PARODY Alert)

  • Chris

    One of the things I have always wondered about is the fairly consistent set of children’s movies that portray the idea of a king (or queen) as a rightful ruler. I realize that many of the fairy tales or prior stories that these movies are based upon have this theme. Other than perhaps Robin Hood (which still upholds the true king’s authority) I can’t remember many movies or cartoons in which this authority is questioned. Indeed many times the authority of the king over the rights of the individual are strongly upheld.
    I have always wondered if this was somewhat intentional.

  • wayne


    Jordan Peterson
    On Disney Movies

  • Chris Lopes

    Yes, a more innocent time. If I remember the story correctly (spoiler alert), the Robert Preston character falls in love with the librarian and the town. Small town America beats big city cynicism.

  • wayne

    David Byrne Interprets “My Fair Lady” (2013)

  • the coming dark centuries

    That seems unduly pessimistic. I will be shocked if the current progressive/woke madness survives until 2029, let alone 2099. It’s too dysfunctional to rule, even if it wins (by some definition “wins”).

    Cultural shifts take TIME. The Left has been working toward what’s going on now for well over 100 years. The situation is not going to turn on a dime back to rugged individualism and laissez faire economics, and I’m not sure it should (different issue, though).

    As I see it, the Left is in panic mode at the moment. They thought they had it all and it’s slipping away, hence all the screaming. This is not the behavior of people who are winning.

    The zeitgeist is turning against centralization. One technocracy to rule them all was a glimmer in 1860, which was about 200 years after Newton’s clockwork universe, and it’s now 150 years from then and “everybody knows” that clockwork universe is ridiculous and decentralization is better.

    It’s just taking a while for culture and politics to catch up. The Left (at least the smart ones) feel this “in the air” and the current bruhaha is their attempt to stop the tide. It will fail due to both the “inexorable flow of history” (which is bunk, but there is _something_ lurking in there) and the fact that Americans just don’t work the way Leftists need/want us to work.

    Now is the time to stand up and be strong because the best is ahead of us and the current idiots are the dying gasp of a failed ideology.

    Where did this soapbox come from and why am I on it?

  • markedup2 asked, “Where did this soapbox come from and why am I on it?”

    Maybe it arrived because you have decided yourself it is “time to stand up and be strong.” :)

    Saving civilization will require the conscious choice of each person to do the same, to not do nothing in the face of oppression, but fight it with courage.

  • Dean Hurt

    This great film was made in a simpler time and a kinder society, and with a story about an even simpler time and a kinder society. Where else can a womanizing film-flam man find love and redemption from a woman that he knows he does’t come close to deserving? Not in today film industry!! Shirley Jones was one of the few singer/actresses that didn’t need a voice-over singer. See her in “Carousel” and “Oklahoma!” and you’ll see why The Partridge Family star was not ever able to reveal her great talent to the 70’s generation. Kristin Chenoweth came close in 2003, but lacked one thing Jones had in spades: poise.

  • Phil Berardelli

    Jones once told the amusing story about how, three months into the production, she discovered she was pregnant with her third child, Sean Cassidy. It eventually required the production team to shoot from creative angles and place intervening objects to hide her condition. By the time she and Preston shot the scene where they kiss at the footbridge, Jones was very pregnant, requiring them both to lean toward each other. During one take, the baby kicked hard enough for Preston to feel it, prompting him to exclaim, “What the heck was that?” Years later, the adult Patrick went backstage to see Preston after a performance. As he related his part of the story, after he had introduced himself, Preston replied, “Oh yes, I’ve met you before.”

    Shameless plug: this is excerpted from my book “Phil’s Favorite 500: Loves of a Moviegoing Lifetime” (

  • Phil Berardelli

    Rats! Did it again — forgot to give it one more readthrough. It wasn’t Sean Cassidy, it was Patrick Cassidy.

  • All: In watching this film recently, I came to realize that some of the most important events relating to the charactors and the story — the many times Preston the flim-flam man spends with the stuttering child — are actually not filmed or included, but are left implied. His success in helping the boy come out of his shell not only wins the heart of the woman, but it traps the flim-flam man as well and prevents him from running. As he says, “This time my foot got caught in the door.”

    That these scenes are treated as backstory is not a negative, but a positive. Not all things have to be shown, but knowning they are there deepens the things you do see. The Music Man had that depth, which is why it is so fine a work of art.

  • wayne

    Great book btw!

    and there is a clip for that story….

    Shirley Jones on filming “The Music Man”
    Archive of American television excerpt

  • Edward_2

    I LOVE “The Music Man” – It’s the songs.

    I WAY prefer the original film over the 2003 remake.

    Simply put, Mathew Broderick is NO Robert Preston – not even close. Robert Preston had charisma, presence, a voice – all of which MB lacks. MB is not even a Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) – and Nathan Lane is NO Zero Mostel.

    I have to say I was not familiar with Barbara Cook, who originated Marion on Broadway. Barbara Cook is also better than Kristen Chenowith. Shirley Jones is GREAT in the film version.

    Check out this Youtube clip of a TV medley from the 1960’s. Barbara Cook as Marian, her voice is the best.

  • Phil Berardelli

    Thanks Wayne. I heard Jones tell that story when she appeared at an NSO Pops performance of songs from the musical at the Kennedy Center, back when Marvin Hamlisch conducted. She was there with her son Patrick, and they both related that memory of working with Preston.

  • Cloudy

    One reason we miss such musicals is that they are beautiful and understandable. A large part of of society thinks no art of any sort with such traits can truly be respected. It is still produced and consumed, sometimes in great quantities, but usually with a bit of guilty pleasure – almost like fast food. Many of us will watch Disney movies alone, but then make sure they keep up with “Game of Thrones” so their buddies won’t look down on them. It’s sad but true..

    On another note – it is easy to look at cultural products made in a different time and think it was a kind of golden age. But consider, there were many musicals, books, etc. made back then that sucked. Probably most. We just haven’t heard of them. 100 years from now people will continue to consume only a tiny fraction of what we produce. They may think we lived in a golden age – because they will only be be paying attention to the “classics”…..the rare stuff that passes the test of time

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