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Collect gorillas? I know. It’s weird. But it’s fun too.

When I was a kid I loved all things “animal” and all things “outdoors.” I read far more than the average kid, I later learned, but I spent a lot of time with my dog in the fields and woods around our home on the edge of town.

Later, I did some hunting but not really a lot and only for small game. I read, however, “Sports Afield,” “Field and Stream,” and “Outdoor Life” every month for years. Back then I could talk turkey about bullets, shells, calibers, and gun makers. I’ve forgotten a lot of this.

What I haven’t forgotten are the names, habits, and habitats of nearly every animal and bird in North America and a fair amount of the rest of the world. And I know trees. I love trees and seeing a new kind on a trip is a thrill my travel companions don’t always comprehend. I’m not bragging, just exalting in things nature.

Now the gorillas. When I was a kid I watched every black and white “Tarzan” movie ever made. I watch them now and see some silly plotlines and some not-so-silly racism, but the jungle is still the jungle, filled with exotic animals. Loved that then and now.

So after my stint in grad school at the University of Cincinnati, where I’d swallowed scholarly journal articles that could kill a horse, I had had about enough of academic “literature.” I remember walking into the house on Friday the 13th, the day I’d defended my dissertation in political science, and noticing that Sarah had brought me three books from the public library—Edgar Rice Burroughs’s “Tarzan” trilogy. I’d watched all those films but never read the books.

Over the next maybe three years I read all Burroughs’s “Tarzan” books, all 24 of them. Still have the paperbacks. The books are also a product of their time, sometimes wanton killing of animals or people, racist attitudes and behaviors, paternalism. But there’s also good writing, an interesting and seminal character, loyalty, bravery, love, fiercely guarded freedom, and strength.

So the gorillas? Oh yes, the gorillas. When your children are little what do they get their Dad for birthdays and Christmas? In my case, it was often a gorilla. The kids had seen me read these books. They’d heard me tell the stories to them. They’d heard me do Tarzan yells to make them laugh. So they bought me gorillas. That’s how it got started. And by the way, not chimpanzees, not monkeys, not orangutans, gorillas.

I still have the first gorilla they gave to me—complete with the diaper they dressed him in for unknown reasons. Now I have a few dozen gorillas in my home office—warm and fuzzy, fierce, plastic, rubber, on a drinking glass or cup, made of candle wax or carved from a coconut, a gorilla who sings Christmas carols and one who sings “Wild things, I think I love you” while holding a Valentine’s heart, carved wood, porcelain, even pewter. I have huge black gorilla slippers I’ve never worn and a gorilla Halloween mask that’s scared each and every grandchild in their toddler years, candy in a stick with a gorilla on top, a puppet, and a gorilla in a snow globe. Not to mention gorilla pics. I once had a gorilla tie and shirt, but they went by the by.

Some other time I'll talk about the gorilla exhibits I've visited in zoos around the country. Or we'll talk about gorillas as an endangered species.

I still get gorillas from time to time. Why? Why do any hobbies become hobbies? Maybe it’s the gorilla in me.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

Remember SALT? Not the recent movie called “Salt” featuring Angelina Jolie. No, the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks of the 1960s-1980s. It’s when the US and USSSR decided it was better to talk than shoot at one another. Later we had the Summit Talks when Reagan and Gorbachev conducted a series of, “Well”—to use Ronald Reagan’s term, “talks.”

Maybe Gradparents and Grandkids should hold Summit Talks? I recently wrote about both sides’ views. For more, check these articles:

Five Things Grandparents Wish Their Grandkids Knew

Five Things Grandkids Wish Their Grandparents Knew

“Talk is cheap,” they say. But then again, who is this “They” that seems to influence our lives so often? Doesn’t matter much what “They” say. Matters what we, in this case Grandparents and Grandkids, say to each other.

Held any Summit Talks recently?


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

Tonight in Dallas, Texas I finally did something I've wanted to do since I was a teenager. I bought a pair of cowboy boots. Not the high top "Western" kind but the shorter "Roper" (learned this tonight) kind.

My boots are brown with some light blue designs on the uppers. Rather than the traditional pointed or classic squared toe I opted for a rounded toe, so I could wear the boots Up North and not look like I’d escaped from a “Lonesome Dove” movie set.

I was born in Pasadena, Texas, a suburb of Houston when Dad was in the U.S. Air Force. He and Mom had gotten married in Biloxi, Mississippi in October 1951, and later they found themselves as young marrieds stationed at Ellington Air Force Base. I came along in October 1952. They remained in Texas, which meant I did, until Dad finished his hitch at the end of the Korean War. Then they headed home to southeastern Ohio.

Texas was a big time for my parents, and I grew up hearing Texas stories from their stint in the Lone Star State. It’s a big state, but it became even bigger for a kid.

And I grew up in the TV cowboy era, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Hopalong Cassidy, the Rifleman, later on “Rawhide,” and later still, “The High Chapparal.” And of course “Gunsmoke” and “Bonanza.” TV movies were dominated by Western themes too with characters played by Glenn Ford—my favorite, John Wayne, Randolph Scott, Gary Cooper to name a few.

As a little kid I had the boots, guns, and cowboy outfits. I even had the name. All my life people have commented on my name, like “Hey, Roy” or “Rex Rogers, that-a cowboy name?” It was like the name fit in a movie title, "Rex Rogers and Gabby Hayes in 'West of the Pecos.'" Even this week in Texas at a SAT-7 briefing a lady said, "What a great name." It's a Western thing.

And I read "Westerns," Zane Grey, Louis L'Amour, and their writing progeny. I still can get lost in a good Western, though fewer writers, at least good ones, are tackling the subject and the setting. 

Having grown up with Texas being talked up to me, and having had cowboy boots and clothes as toys when I was a kid, I've had Texas on the brain my whole life. So once in awhile I’d think about buying boots.

But whenever I had occasion to consider boots I pushed the idea away due to cost or the fact I worked a profession where I had no place or opportunity to wear them. Seemed silly then, not so much now. I don't work that kind of job anymore, and I have plenty of time to wear casual clothes. And for a Michigan guy there's an added bonus: the boots can be worn in the winter.

So here I was in Dallas driving toward my hotel when I saw Cavender's (next door to Sheplers—even bigger), which I've seen on several previous visits. It might have been smarter to buy the boots at home in case I needed to go back. But there was something cool about the idea—one long in incubation whose time had come—of getting my first pair in Texas.

So, I may be nuts or just fulfilling a childhood psyche thing, but it was fun.

At last, Roy Rogers would be proud of me. Check buying cowboy boots off the bucket list.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issueand events at or follow him at

Cell phones have apparently convinced people it's their civil right to speak anywhere anytime around anyone as loud as they want. Since I travel a great deal I see this almost daily, or at least every time I enter an airport. It's not just that people talk loudly right next to others. It's that they talk loudly next to others about their business, personal life, and other used-to-be private matters.

I know I run the risk of being labeled an old curmudgeon on this one, but here's my analysis and a few recommendations...if they aren't drowned by cell phone conversations.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

I remember reading about, watching, and enjoying some of the greatest athletes in history, all at their peak in the 70s: Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Muhammad Ali—Joe Frazier, Jack Nicklaus, Mark Spitz, Billy Jean King and Chris Evert, Bobby Orr, Arthur Ashe—Borg—Connors, Nadia Comaneci, Secretariat.

I remember bellbottom pants, tie-dye shirts, huge collars and equally huge ties. What can I say? It was the 70s.

I remember our first date, November 10, 1971, “The Carpenters” concert, Dayton, Ohio. I remember my date wore pink; I do not remember what Karen Carpenter wore.

I remember long sideburns, wide sideburns. I had long sideburns when we got married. Dad had wide ones, looked like a holdover from the Civil War.

I remember pet rocks, 8 track tapes, streaking, disco, platform shoes, mopeds, “Dig it?” leisure suits, lava lamps, and Rocky before a Roman Numeral followed the title. And I remember “Yo, Adrian.”

I remember hair, lots of it. “Gimme head with hair—Long beautiful hair—Shining, gleaming—Streaming, flaxen, waxen—Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair.” I never wore the way-long variety that came along in the late 60s and 70s, but it was long enough. In our wedding pictures my hair is too long in front and flips up like a baseball cap bill in every picture.

I remember our first calculator. It was 1974, a month after we were married, and it could add, subtract, multiply, divide, and do percentages. That’s it. Now you can get one in cereal boxes that could’ve been used on the Apollo space missions.

I remember in grad school IBM punch card machines with its attached keyboard. You’d put in a deck of cards, punch them one hole at a time, stack your computer “job,” submit it through a window to computer techs, and get your job back the next day. You lived in fear you’d open your mailbox and find a slim printout, meaning you’d made a mistake and had to re-punch and rerun and re-wait all over again.

I remember seeing my first PC. It was jet black, large and heavy, looked like 3 boxes stuck together. It came to the Institute for Public Policy Research, University of Cincinnati, where I worked in grad school. We all walked down the hall to stare at it like it was a new baby.

I remember when as young marrieds we bought our first microwave. It was like acquiring a new car and was, shall we say, large, about 50%-75% bigger than most kitchen microwaves I see now.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

If you’re interested in China or the interplay of atheism and Christianity this book is a nice starting point. If you’re interested in the attitudes and insights an experienced Christian evangelist, in this case Luis Palau, might bring to a relationship with an atheist you’ll find this book intriguing. If you want to learn how to convey respect and intellectually engage with an atheist this book is a primer.

Luis Palau, an Argentine-American known the world over for preaching Christ and Christianity via huge public “festivals” visited China and specifically Zhao Qizheng in 2005. They conducted a dialogue on a series of religious and philosophic questions.

The book also contains pictures of Chinese sites, art, and artifacts, partly in an effort to make Chinese culture more accessible to American readers.

Palau does a good job of sharing the fundamentals of Christianity. In his comments Qizheng comes through as the highly educated and intelligent man he is.

The book isn’t long enough or intended to be an in-depth analysis of the issues dividing Christians and atheists. But it summarizes an all too rare exchange. Would that more believers and non-believers would talk.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at