Singing Christmas Carols with Kids

Today is Bandcamp Friday, which means if you purchase my music on Bandcamp, Bandcamp doesn’t take their usual 15% commission.  You can pick up my entire discography for $15.75—seven total releases, including the popular Contest Winner – EP.  If you want to enjoy some good tunes and support an independent musician, today is a great day to do so.  You can also support me directly with a tip.

It’s that time of year when Christmas music dominates the airwaves and our collective consciousness.  It’s always a tad irksome to me how folks will complain about Christmas music during the Christmas season.  Of course you’re going to hear Mariah Carey every fifteen minutes—it comes with the territory.  Naturally, let’s at least get through Halloween (and, preferably, Thanksgiving Day), but at least make an attempt at getting into the Christmas spirit.

Last year I wrote extensively about Christmas carols.  Indeed, one of my many unfinished projects is to compile a small book containing the stories of some of our most cherished carols (I want to write a similar book about hymns, too).  I play and sing a lot of carols this time of year:  I’m a music teacher.  Perennial favorites—and the selections my classes are currently playing—are “Silent Night,” “Joy to the World,” and “O Holy Night.”

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TBT: Support Milo

On Tuesday I wrote a “Giving Tuesday” post to give some shout-outs to conservative and dissident content creators and organizations that could use your support.  In my haste, I neglected to include a man who could always use another leopard-spotted ivory back-scratcher:  Milo.

As a mea culpa to His Majesty, I’m dedicating this week’s TBT to a post in which I urged readers to “Support Milo.”  I think it speaks for itself, so without further ado, here’s “Support Milo“:

I hold a soft spot in my heart for conservative gadfly and Internet provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.  I recall fondly his heyday in 2015-2016, when he championed free speech in the Babylon of Progressivism, Berkeley, California.  I still wish President Trump would appoint him White House Press Secretary—it would be must-see TV every day.

Behind the flamboyant, cartoonish homosexuality and the over-the-top trollery, though, is a talented journalist and writer; indeed, Milo’s work is some of the best long-form journalism I’ve ever read.  His writing, like his public speaking, is engaging and well-researched:  he really checks his facts and his sources, while still delivering that withering Coulterian death strike upon his unfortunate target.

Unfortunately, even fewer Americans will have the opportunity to read his work, as he’s apparently sold his websiteDangerous.com.

I understand that for many conservatives Milo can be a bit much.  I love his public speaking, but you have to realize that the first twenty or thirty minutes are going to be Milo playing his best and favorite character—himself.  Once he’s paraded around in drag and told some incredibly off-color jokes, he’ll get down to the raw facts—where he truly shines.

In the years I’ve followed Milo’s work, I would wager that 90% of his factually-supportable positions are inside the conservative mainstream.  Yes, he’s made some wacky statements before, but these are generally hyperbole in service to the overall experience:  he draws crowds in with shock value, but wins them with knowledge.

But Conservatism, Inc., couldn’t have an effective proselytizer cutting into their racket.  The David Frenchian pseudo-Right—the controlled opposition of neocons who don’t want to ruffle feathers lest their Leftist masters call them “racists” or “bigots”—cut Milo off at the knees.

For years I read National Review, and always heard conservatives pining for a cool, gay and/or minority Republican (because the establishment Right is desperate to prove to progressives that they aren’t racists or homophobes).  Along came Milo—fun, smart, and into biracial man-love—and the decorum caucus suddenly realized that a cool, gay Republican was, by definition, going to be pretty melodramatic.

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Where the Right Goes From Here

Lest I be cast as a “doomer”—one who has given up on President Trump’s noble attempt to win the re-election that is rightfully is—it seems likely that our ruling elites will assure Biden wins the presidency.  I still believe that Trump is the rightful victor; that the election was stolen from him; and that the evidence of widespread voter fraud is compelling enough to throw, at the very least, the election to the House of Representatives.

Remember, we live in a world that still argues that John F. Kennedy’s campaign did not manipulate vote totals in Cook County, Illinois to flip the State away from Nixon in 1960, thereby assuring Kennedy’s victory.  What we saw in 2020 was the Cook County strategy writ large.  We should fight that manipulation to ensure the integrity of future elections, but I fear the damage is done.

Again, I hold out hope that Trump will be vindicated and that justice will be served.  Nevertheless, as conservatives, we should adopt the distinctly conservative course of preparing for what comes next.  Even if our dream scenario comes to fruition, it only buys conservatives time.  Either way, we’ve got to consider seriously where we’re going, and our place in a society that increasingly rejects us and our interests.

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Giving Tuesday

It’s that time of year where every vaguely commercial enterprise capitalizes on the the post-Thanksgiving Christmas season build-up to beg for your hard-earned dollars.  We’ve had Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday (is there a “Tithing Sunday” in there, too?).  Now it’s “Giving Tuesday,” the day designated for giving money to this or that charitable organization or dubious non-profit.

Prepare to have your inbox deluged with solicitations from various (and variably worthy) 501(c)(3)s, playing on the cheerfulness and generosity of Christmas in the hopes that you’ll pony up $25 or $50.  They’ll all claim they’re worthy causes—but how do you know?

Instead of running the risk of giving your merry moola to some Left-leaning charity, let me advise you on where to donate.  As much I’d love for you to support my blog (which, of course, I encourage you to do), here are some of bloggers, creators, and institutions that could really use your support:

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Monday Morning Movie Review: Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020)

The Sunday night before Thanksgiving, a musician buddy and his wife came over to watch Bill & Ted Face the Music (which I picked up for $0.40 on RedBox thanks to a generous coupon).  It was easily the most enjoyable, wholesome flick I’ve seen in awhile—and it’s not just because my friend brought pizza.

Bill & Ted Face the Music was released earlier this year, during that tantalizingly brief moment when theaters were making a go of it again.  It’s a shame it wasn’t released in more auspicious times, because it really is a film worth seeing.  Indeed, like the franchise it revives, it’s a rare instance of good-natured, fun, and optimistic storytelling at a time when brooding anti-heroes and even villains are the celebrated norm.

One could certainly point to the idea of reviving Bill & Ted as yet another example of Hollywood’s dearth of new ideas, but it really is the perfect property to bring back with another sequel:  the very franchise revels in goofy send-ups of time travel tropes and late-80s popular culture.  It does so in a way that is sweet and endearing, even innocent—never mocking, except in the lightest and most loving of ways.

The basic story picks up after the events of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and its sequel, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.  Fans will recall that Bill & Ted’s band, the Wyld Stallions, is destined to unite the world in song and harmony—which is repeated constantly in the movie.  The story picks up some thirty years later, and our titular heroes still haven’t managed to write that elusive song, despite multiple failed attempts.

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Lazy Sunday XCIV: 100 Week Review

Today marks the 700th consecutive day of posts here at The Portly Politico.  That’s 100 weeks of daily posts, which sounds like a prison sentence for a first-time criminal offender.  Writing the blog daily has occasionally felt like serving a self-imposed prison sentence, but it’s overwhelmingly been a source of joy.  I’ve made a number of great friends, and have accumulated a respectable daily readership, as well as eight faithful subscribers.

According to my WordPress stats, I’ve written 516,512 since 2018.  Those haven’t all been consecutive, but looking at just 2019-2020, it’s still a respectable 459,252 words.  Granted, there are a lot of TBT posts in there, so that pads the stats a bit, but I imagine I’m still safely in the half-million-word mark.

To observe the occasion and still maintain the spirit of Lazy Sunday, here are the Top Three Posts (based on views) since 2018:

  • Tom Steyer’s Belt” – By now it’s predictable, but this single post brought more traffic to my blog than the next seventeen posts combined.  At the time of this writing, it’s had 2997 views—2560 more than the second most popular post.  Most of that traffic is purely organic, meaning I didn’t encourage people to read it beyond my usual sharing to Facebook and on Telegram.  Basically, the post became popular because Tom Steyer blew a ton of cash airing obnoxious television and Internet ads, and mine was one of the few sources to cover his colorful belt.
  • Napoleonic Christmas” – This post—with 437 hits—explored an interesting revisionist take on Napoleon from a PragerU video, as well as the idea that not all non-democratic or non-republican forms of government are bad.  There were, objectively, monarchies and dictatorships that were better off—materially, spiritually, culturally, etc.—than democratic republics, contemporary and present.  That doesn’t mean I endorse those forms of government as somehow preferable to a liberty-loving republic, but I can appreciate the argument that Napoleon was a reform-minded figure, not merely an ingenious brute.
  • Milo on Romantic Music” – One of many things I appreciate about Internet provocateur and author Milo Yiannopoulos is that he is exceptionally erudite.  He might act frivolous and catty—and I suspect he genuinely is—but he’s also deep and interesting.  This post—with 279 views, thanks in large part to Milo sharing it on Telegram—looks at an exchange between Milo and another figure about Romantic music versus Baroque music.  Milo clearly prefers Romantic music overall, (while acknowledging Bach’s essential nature), arguing that it’s “the only proper soundtrack to the trad life.”  Great point!

Well, that’s it—100 weeks!  Thank you again for all of your support.  Keep reading, leaving comments, and subscribing.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

analogue black and white black and white clock

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Thanksgiving Weekend

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

It’s been a wonderful Thanksgiving Break for yours portly, full of two of the most important things in life:  family and food.  Indeed, there’s probably been too much of the latter.  The “portly” in this blog’s title is more than just a humorous pun, after all.

This weekend is a big deal for Americans.  It’s the gateway to Christmas, and it’s the first major of holiday of what Americans broadly call “the holiday season” (or “the Christmas season,” as we Christians prefer).  There’s a flurry of social and commercial activities this time of year, but it’s also a time for slowing down.  From Thanksgiving through New Years’, the entire country feels like after lunch on a Friday at a government bureau—no one is answering the phones, because everyone’s taken off for the weekend.

In the spirit of celebrating this slower, more reflective, more generous time of year, here is a rundown of my long Thanksgiving Weekend.

To read the rest of this post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Flashback Friday: Brack Friday Bunduru: Workers Need a Break

I’m embracing the lazy logic of Thanksgiving Break with more throwback posts than usual this week.  After Christmas Break, this little Thanksgiving reprieve is my favorite short break of the year.  It combines family, fun, and food, with enough time to enjoy all three.

Last year when I wrote “Brack Friday Bunduru: Workers Need a Break,” I was growing increasingly burned out and fatigued from my job and my various obligations.  Between work, music lessons, and various ensembles, I wasn’t getting home most nights until 9 or even 10 PM.  That clearly showed up in my argument here for giving workers the day of Thanksgiving—and at least Christmas Eve and Christmas Day—off from their toils.

That said, I still believe it.  What’s humorous to me, in re-reading this post after a year of lockdowns and shutdowns, is that my call for “[s]hutting down everything but essential services… would be an admirable goal for at least Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, as well as Thanksgiving” came to pass—with deleterious effect—for not three measly days but for months on end.  That’s certainly not what I had in mind, but I think workers have had all the breaks they can stand this past year.

Still, in normal times, having a couple of days for Christmas and a day or two for Thanksgiving isn’t going to tank the global economy.  Workers could use the break, and the reminder that all that hard work is in service to something greater:  family, faith, and God.

I love hard work—indeed, I think it’s one of the keys to happiness and purpose, particularly for men—but there’s hard work, and there’s exhausting yourself for a pittance.  Let’s reward the former with some downtime.

With that, here is “Brack Friday Bunduru: Workers Need a Break“:

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TBT^4: It’s a Thanksgiving Miracle!

Another year has passed, and another Thanksgiving has rolled around.  In the tradition of this blog going back to 2017, I’m throwing back to past Thanksgiving Day posts.  I’ll alternate between italicized and non-italicized posts so readers can see the layers of commentary and annual updates.

In re-reading “TBT^2: It’s a Thanksgiving Miracle,” it’s interesting to reflect on the contrast between 2019 and 2020.  Yes, 2020 has been a rough year universally, but it’s personally been one of my better years.  The Virus really took its toll financially, especially on my private music lessons and gigging empire, but both of those are recovering as folks mellow out about The Virus and the holidays approach.  I’m back to six students now, and have been blessed with some truly God-sent bookings recently.

The Virus brought a silver lining:  it forced me to slow down.  All the shutdowns made me do what I would have been loathe to do voluntarily—give up various extracurricular activities and side gigs.  For the first time in probably seven years, I took the summer off, other than my History of Conservative Thought course and one intrepid piano student (and three days of painting for the school, because they were desperate).  I reluctantly got on some extremely mild anxiety medication, and now I love the stuff—I’m not fretting over insignificant things anymore.

I enjoyed distance learning, too, though I am glad to be back with students (most days).  It provided the opportunity to laser-focus on my teaching, without all the extra little duties and responsibilities that normally come with teaching generally and my position specifically.  I missed putting on a big Spring Concert, but I didn’t miss the stress, the lack of institutional support, and the hours and hours of unwinding and connecting XLR cables.

All in all, it’s been a very good year.  I’m up to eight generous subscribers now to my SubscribeStar page, and many of you have purchased my music on BandcampYour support came when I needed it most, and for that, I will always be grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving 2020!

—TPP

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