Supporting Friends Friday: Helen Liptak

One of the joys of teaching in a private school setting is the opportunity to work with teachers from many backgrounds, and with many talents.  For several years I had the pleasure of working with the subject of today’s Supporting Friends Friday, who has just published a short work of fiction under the name Helen Liptak.

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TBT: Monsters

As the days grow shorter and cooler, with a full moon overhead, that old Halloween spirit has me excited for mischief and fun to come.  Shirts for this year’s Spooktacular have come in, and I’m ready to play more spooky tunes from my front porch!

I’ve already reblogged one of my favorite posts, “On Ghost Stories,” and it’s a bit early to throwback to past Halloween posts, so it seemed like a good time to consider another post pertaining to the so-called “spooky season.”  This post, “Monsters,” is very much in the same vein as “Things That Go Bump in the Night,” but from the angle of cryptids—think “Bigfoot“—rather than strictly supernatural creatures.

I don’t know if I believe in Bigfoot or not—I want to believe in it, at least—but I’m very much open to the possibility that there is far more to God’s Creation than we can even hope to comprehend.  As such, it seems self-limiting to outright deny the existence of certain creatures.  There might be plenty of evidence against the existence of Bigfoot, Mothman, etc., but such was the case—as I point out in this post—with the adorably weird duck-billed platypus.

But I digress.  Whether these monsters exist or not, there are still plenty around us.  With that, here is 21 October 2021’s “Monsters“:

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Lamar Candidates Forum

Last night my little town of Lamar, South Carolina, hosted a candidates forum to give voters an opportunity to learn more about the candidates for Town Council and the Mayor’s race.  Our Town employees did an excellent job organizing the event, which was held in the Fire Department’s fire truck bay.  I brought some sound equipment and setup a very basic sound system for the candidates.

There are two Council seats up for election, which Councilwoman Mary Mack and myself currently occupy.  We’re both running for re-election, so we are officially running unopposed.  Residents will have two votes to cast in the Town Council race, one for each position.

As such, Councilwoman Mack and I were invited to tell voters a bit about ourselves and our visions for the town.  The main event was the mayoral forum, which was structured in a series of questions (nine or ten) posed to each candidate.  The mayoral candidates received their questions in advance, and the audience was not allowed to ask questions (although I think several people did after the forum formally adjourned).

Both candidates acquitted themselves nicely, differing mainly in the margins.  Councilwoman Inez Lee focused on cleaning up the town, literally and metaphorically, frequently invoking Franklin Roosevelt’s “First Hundred Days”:  we have a number of dilapidated buildings on Main Street that are eyesores.  James Howell, a local landscaper, focused on improving the town’s infrastructure and zoning to make the town more attractive to businesses.

All candidates for all offices touted the need to fix Lamar’s water system, so we sell our own water again.  We are currently purchasing around four million gallons of water each month from the Darlington County Water and Sewage Authority, paying rates that are onerously high for residents.

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Playing Catch-up: TPP Update

Apologies to my regular readers for the very delayed post today.  Now that I have a large contingent of British readers, I really like to hit the 6:30 AM EST posting time, which I imagine is around lunchtime for them, so they have something to read over their tea and crumpets while my American readers have something to read over their grits and coffee.

As I’ve alluded to in other posts, the past two weeks or so have been absolutely insane for yours portly.  As my school’s music teacher, I’m also the audio-visual wizard on campus.  With Homecoming Week last week, it was my responsibility to make sure the sound system at the football field was working properly, and to assist with setup for some of the Homecoming games.  I also set up another ad hoc sound system for my High School Music Ensemble to play a couple of songs at a pep rally Friday morning.  When most of your musicians play guitar and piano, the logistics of plugging everything in become more daunting when taken outdoors.

Needless to say, all of my planning time was consumed with these activities, and I spent most of my Music classes using student labor to move equipment to and from the football field.  That meant more time in the evenings and early mornings working on school-related stuff, and less time to focus on the blog.

In the midst of all of the Homecoming Week wackiness, I’m also running for reelection to Lamar Town Council and practicing and preparing for the 2021 Spooktacular.  Tonight I have a candidates forum for the former, and last night my buddy John and I practiced for the latter.

Add to all of that a whopping dollop of after-school music lessons, and you can tell I’ve had precious little time for much else.  I had a fun-filled day with my girlfriend on Saturday, then turned around Sunday and immediately set to work finalizing first quarter report card grades.

I’m not complaining—I like being busy—but I hope readers will extend some graciousness and excuse some occasionally late posts.  My poor dog has been getting the short end of the bully stick, too, though we both collapsed into a snoring heap on the couch last night after John departed.

Such are the rhythms of life.  Here’s hoping things return to a more stately tempo after the frenetic rhythm of the last few weeks.  Again, I don’t want to be bored, but having a little more time to focus on writing would be great.

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Lazy Sunday CXXXV: More Movies VIII: Movie Reviews, Part VIII

It’s a late Lazy Sunday today.  A very long homecoming weekend at school, followed by a Saturday spent at the South Carolina State Fair and a University of South Carolina football game, has me behind on the blog a bit.  As soon as I churn this post out, it’s straight to writing comments for report cards.  So much for a day of rest.

But I digress.  For the first time since Lazy Sunday CXXV, I’m back with more movie review retrospectives.  It’s fun (for me, at least) to go back through these movie reviews; I’ve written so many of them, I’ve started forgetting which movies I’ve reviewed!

This week we pick up where we left off ten Sundays ago with another three flicks:

  • Monday Morning Movie Review: Aniara (2018)” – I really enjoyed this movie—bleak though it is—about a space cruise ship getting thrown off course irreversibly.  It’s one of the more thought-provoking films I’ve seen in the past year, and it’s stuck with me.  It’s one of the movie reviews I’ve written that I have not forgotten.
  • Monday Morning Movie Review: Willy’s Wonderland (2021)” – Compared to Aniara, Willy’s Wonderland is quite lighthearted.  If you like Nicolas Cage—and I definitely do—you’ll enjoy this movie.  Unusually for Cage, though, his character doesn’t say anything, but he still manages to bring his trademark insane fury to the character, who spends a night fighting demon-possessed animatronics in an abandoned pizzeria.
  • Monday Morning Movie Review: Robot & Frank (2012)” – This flick ad the feel of an indie flick, with its quirky premise and craftily heartwarming story arc.  I love stuff with robots, and this movie delivers it in an interesting way:  an aging thief trains his robot nurse to help him plot a jewel heist.

That’s it for this week’s belated Lazy Sunday.  Enjoy the rest of this quiet day!

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

The War on Halloween

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It has long been the position of this blog that Halloween gets a bad rap, especially from the Christian Right. The holiday’s association with deviltry, witchcraft, and the occult is, of course, difficult to deny, but the holiday’s name is an abbreviation of “All Hallow’s Eve”; that is, the evening before All Saints’ Day on 1 November.

Granted, the Internet atheists will claim the roots of Halloween in Samhain, the Gaelic festival of the harvest. They are not wrong, per se—the influx of Irish immigrants into the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries brought a peculiarly Celtic flavor to the holiday. But the holiday is a Christian, specifically a Catholic, one—the Irishmen bringing tales of Jack O’Lantern and his carved turnip (it would only later become a pumpkin) were not ancient pagans, but among the most devout believers in Europe.

Certainly the medieval Catholic Church had a habit of taking pagan holidays and replacing them with Christian observances. For some reason, Internet atheists always use these replacements as examples of Christianity’s secretly pagan roots. The argument is ludicrous.

When Hernan Cortez destroyed the Aztec temple at Tenochtitlan and built a cathedral in its place, was he honoring the bloodthirsty Aztec gods? Or was he symbolically noting that The Holy Trinity had displaced the false gods and idols of the Aztecs? It is almost certainly the latter. Similarly, when Christians took existing pagan observances and replaced them with Christian ones, they were symbolically and practically demonstrating the victory of Christ and His Church over pagan gods.

Indeed, much of the American Protestant objection to Halloween must have been due to its associations with the Papists, rather than the Devil. The mischievousness of the holiday in the twentieth century, especially the concept of trick-or-treating, probably has more to do with its more sinister modern associations.

But the latest assault on Halloween is coming from a different quarter.  No longer are conservative Christians alone in hedging their bets on the holiday.

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TBT^2: On Ghost Stories

It’s that time of year again—the so-called “spooky season,” when Halloween decorations go up, scary stories get told, and overwrought bloggers with delusions of grandeur stage over-the-top concerts from their front porches (well, maybe that last one is just me).  As the weather turns cool and the leaves begin to fall, it’s almost impossible not to settle in with some hot coffee and a good collection of ghost stories.

So, for the second year in a row, I’m looking back this TBT to 2019’s “On Ghost Stories,” a post that now will hold the distinction of being a perennial favorite.

One might think that as scary as the real world is, we’d spend less time reading spooky fiction.  It seems the opposite is the case.  Perhaps the idea that malevolence is not necessarily the result of human frailty, but rather due to wicked supernatural influences, is oddly comforting.  That evil is the result of our fallen nature—and, of course, the malignant supernatural influence up on it—is a bit easier to forget, perhaps, when reading about some ghostly figure wreaking havoc in the English countryside.

More likely, it’s just that we enjoy being scared—when we can easily flip off the television or close the book.  Horror is fun when there are no real consequences attached to it.  Then again, just watching horror movies probably isn’t healthy (I’ll report back if I suddenly get any macabre urges).

Well, whatever the reason, a good ghost story is hard to pass up.  With that, here is “TBT: On Ghost Stories“:

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