Friday Rundown (18-22 January 2021)

It’s been an eventful week, so I figured an extra post today running down the posts from the past few days would be worthwhile.  Also, I’m a slave to the WordPress daily streak counter, and when I scheduled this morning’s post on Wednesday, WordPress for some reason immediately e-mailed a preview; ergo, I want to make sure I get the daily post streak.  Gotta keep the streak alive!

 So, here is a quick rundown of this week’s posts:

Enjoy!

—TPP

The Joy of Romantic Music II: Bedřich Smetana’s “The Moldau”

Last Friday I wrote of the beauty and power—the sheer joy—of Romantic music, a topic I’ve covered once before on this blog.  In writing last week’s post, I noted briefly that Romantic music is nationalistic, which was certainly true in a number of cases.

Europe following the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars was a hotbed of political activity and nationalist sentiment.  The Congress of Vienna (1815) redrew the map of Central Europe, reducing the hundreds of German principalities, bishoprics, duchies, baronies, and the rest into about a dozen political units, hoping these larger Germanic kingdoms would serve as a bulwark against future French aggression.  They did, and more—under the steady Realpolitik of German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, Prussia gradually grew to unite these new lands into the Second Reich—a unified Germany.

Meanwhile, smaller nations chafed under Austrian or French influence.  Bohemia—now part of the Czech Republic—fought against Austrian political rule and the German language that came with it.  Bohemians championed the revival of their native Czech language, and began revisiting Czech folklore and music as the resting place of the national spirit.

This process was not unique to Bohemia or the Czechs, but today’s featured piece, Czech composer Bedřich Smetana‘s The Moldau, is a prime of example of how nationalist musical ideas can capture beautifully a sense of a place, while also transcending national identity and borders.

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TBT: Gardening

A post on gardening might be a strange pick for TBT in the dead of winter, but my mind has been on the topic more and more lately, both as a beautiful outdoor hobby and as a means of sustenance—even survival.  There’s also a spiritual element to feeling one’s own soil between one’s fingers.  I get a sense of deep satisfaction after pawing through the richness of my own land.

Perhaps I’m being overly Romantic, but planning and planting a garden is a wonderful experience.  I’m not very good at it, mind you (unlike my mother, who can make anything grow in any conditions, it seems), but I enjoy tackling the flower beds (just not enough to keep them free of weeds consistently).

As I noted Tuesday, I’ve become increasingly interested in investing in a solid cultivator and turning some my lawn into beds for vegetables.  A buddy of mine is keen on the idea, and has offered to help with his labor and some funds in exchange for a share of the crops (would that make him a sharecropper, essentially renting my land and giving me some of the fruits of his labor?).  I think it would be a fun, albeit time-consuming, project, but one worthwhile.

Another friend of mine has been slowly turning his postage stamp backyard into a thriving organic garden for years now.  He’s been growing without fertilizer so that the soil can build back up essential nutrients and fertility.  Apparently, fertilizer yields great resorts in the short-term, but it doesn’t help the soil replenish its fertility.  He’s taking the long, slow approach, but he’s gradually turning that Midlands Carolina clay into rich topsoil.

There’s so much I don’t know about this process, but at the same time, my thought is, “dig in.”  I already buried last year’s Jack O’Lanterns and seeds near my grapevines—why not?  Maybe I’ll get lucky and get some pumpkins.  Worst-case, my grapevines get some more nutrients.

Or it could all just be an expensive boondoggle.  We’ll see.  My results this past Labor Day weekend were pretty good, so I’m feeling optimistic.

With that, here is 2019’s “Gardening“:

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Inauguration Day 2021

The day has arrived—the briefly delayed third term of Obama’s presidency.  In the years since Obama left office, the progressive Left has become even more insane.  After a four-year reprieve under Trump, the radical progressives aren’t going to let another opportunity pass to transform the country completely.

Things are going to get worse before they get better, which is why I’m encouraging my fellow conservatives, Christians, and traditionalists to think and act locally in the years to come (H/T to historian Brion McClanahan for that pithy phrase).  Now is the time to attend town/city and county council meetings, to run for local and State offices, and to build up communities.  While we can do some of that online, we’ve got to get out and meet people—join Bible studies, form local clubs, revive forgotten civic organizations, etc.  Heck, even play at an open mic!

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The Last Day of Freedom?

Here we are, 19 January 2021—the last day of basking in liberty before Biden the Usurper assumes the throne.  For all his personal foibles and occasional missed opportunities (while acknowledging, of course, his many achievements), President Trump at least fought to ensure that Americans could enjoy freedom and opportunity.  Under progressive rule, no such guarantees exist.

But rather than look about gloomily at what is to come, I’d like to offer some words of exhortation.  Times will not be easy for conservatives and Christians over the next four years, but I’m trying to embrace this new progressive era with some cautious, small-scale optimism.

For one, I think the whole sordid election fraud, as well as the bipartisan effort to impeach President Trump for—if we’re honest about it—discouraging violence and encouraging peaceful protest—has confirmed for many of us that the elites of both parties are against us.  As such, effecting change at the national level seems increasingly futile.

That might sound discouraging, but consider it from another angle:  if we can’t make much of a dent at the national level, then why waste the energy?  Instead, let’s focus our efforts locally.

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Memorable Monday: Happy MLK Day 2019 – Suggested Reading

It’s another Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. Day here in the United States, which means another day off for those of us in the cushier fields (in my case, education).  As I wrote in last year’s MLK Day post, it’s a holiday “that feels like an excuse to have a little taste of the recently-departed Christmas holiday.”  I went on in the post to contend that

Contra the whole “make it a day ON” virtue-signalers, [MLK Day] really is the perfect day to crank up the heat, brew some coffee, and enjoy reading with some fried eggs (over medium, please) and toast (and, for us Southerners, a hearty helping of grits).  It’s one of the last taste[s] of the hygge before the warm weather creeps back in (which occurs sometime in late February or early March here in South Carolina).

Here’s to the hygge, my friends.  In the spirit of wintry coziness and relaxation, I decided to look back to my first MLK Day post from 2019, which offered up some suggested reading.  Some of the suggestions I made are a bit dated, like the Conrad Black piece on Brexit, while others are solid perennially (such as photog’s reviews of The Twilight Zone).

Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Here is January 2019’s very brief “Happy MLK Day 2019 – Suggested Reading“:

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, TPP readers!  I don’t have a full post today, just this quick message wishing you all a happy and safe day off (for those of you fortunate enough to be off).  Last Monday’s post about race would probably have been better saved for today, so feel free to go back and read it.

If you’re looking for some good reading on your day off, check out my list of favorite writers, or my old 2016 Summer Reading List.  In case you missed it, I’d also recommend this piece on Marxist infiltration in Great Britain.  And blogger photog at Orion’s Cold Fire is reviewing EVERY episode of The Twilight Zone, which is quite entertaining (read the first episode review).

Also in Great Britain/Brexit news:  Conrad Black has an optimistic piece about Brexit that I’ve yet to digest; stay tuned for analysis.

Finally, if you haven’t yet gotten around to it, check out Tucker Carlson’s 3 January 2019 monologue (a nice birthday present for yours truly).

We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled bloviating tomorrow.

agriculture barley field beautiful close up

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Lazy Sunday XCVI: More Movies: Movie Reviews, Part I

Way back in “Lazy Sunday LVI: Movies” I looked back on some movie reviews and posts analyzing movies.  That was long before I began Monday Morning Movie Reviews as a semi-regular feature on the blog.

Since then, I’ve dedicated more of the blog to discussing culture, especially music.  I’ve also written more about films and the cinema.  Even with large theater chains still closed and film-viewing shifting increasingly to streaming services, movies are still a powerful way to convey ideas and to shape cultural attitudes.  Indeed, I think the importance of film has only increased in The Age of The Virus, as we’re able to consume more and more of it in quarantine.  That our political elites have essentially recommended we just sit around watching television as some heroic form of self-sacrifice is suggestive—of what, I’m not sure, but it can’t be good!

Regardless, during this quieter, slower season, I thought it’d be fun to look back at some Monday Movie Reviews (to be be fare, not all of these were published on Mondays or in the morning, but they’re still movie review!—one out of three ain’t bad, to very loosely paraphrase Meat Loaf).

Here are three for your enjoyment:

  • Monday Movie Review: The Empire Strikes Back” – Seeing The Empire Strikes Back (1980) on the big screen reminded me powerfully just how great Star Wars used to be before the new trilogy ruined it with SJW nonsense and incompetent direction.  Empire is widely regarded as the best entry in the history of Star Wars films for a reason.
  • Morning Movie Review: Brazil (1985)” – This one had been on my RedBox wish list for some time, and I finally rented it on-demand back in October.  It’s a great, dreamlike flick about an excessively bureaucratic dystopia.  Brazil captures the thousand tiny tyrannies of bureaucratization beautifully—and scarily.  That we’re heading down a road towards mandatory vaccination passports and ever-growing globalist conglomerates suggests we haven’t learned the lessons of Brazil.
  • Movie Review: The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)” – I stumbled upon this flick on Hulu, and it was one of those rare gems among the garbage that streaming service typically serves up (and yet, I continue to pay my $2.15 every month for the pleasure of streaming terrible horror movies and Bob’s Burgers).  It stars a very young Jodie Foster as a young teenager living completely on her own in a hostile New England town, attempting to avoid Martin Sheen’s inappropriate advances.  The film is a bit of a thriller, but also an endearing coming-of-age story in which the young Rynn—Foster’s character—learns that life isn’t meant to be lived alone.  As I wrote in the review, “It’s a lost gem, one worth unearthing.”

That’s it for this weekend.  Happy Sunday—and Happy Viewing!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

food snack popcorn movie theater

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Hammer Films II: Universal Horror Films, Part I

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.

Last April I wrote a detailed review (preview) of the Hammer Films Collection.  I’m currently making my way through Volume II of the collection, both of which feature Hammer Studios films that Columbia Pictures distributed.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to complete the second volume in time to review it today, but I will do so in a couple of weeks.  However, Christmas brought a bumper crop of films from the famous Hammer Studios, including a collection of four Dracula films distributed by Warner Brothers and an eight-film compilation of Universal Studios horror flicks.

I’ll be reviewing the first four films on the Universal Studios-distributed collection, The Hammer Horror Series, and reviewing the second four next Saturday. At the time of writing, the collection is only $17.21 on Amazon for the DVD ($34.99 for the Blu-Ray edition); at that price, I’d definitely recommend picking it up to enjoy these flicks yourself.

The collection includes eight films in total:  Brides of DraculaThe Curse of the WerewolfThe Phantom of the OperaParanoiacThe Kiss of the VampireNightmareNight Creatures, and The Evil of Frankenstein.  Today I’ll be reviewing Brides of DraculaThe Curse of the WerewolfThe Phantom of the Opera, and Paranoiac.

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The Joy of Romantic Music

This semester started with two weeks of online learning (of which today is the last day before students and teachers return to campus after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day), so it’s been an unusually slow start to the already sleepy January term.  However, that hasn’t stopped my music classes from listening to great music; indeed, we’re now covering what is perhaps my favorite period in the history of Western music:  the Romantic Era.

While I adore Baroque and classical composers and their works, Romantic music builds upon the forms established in those eras, stretching and expanding upon them to reach new heights of emotional intensity and musical expressiveness.  The music of the Romantic composers delights with its musical exploration of the supernatural, the mysterious, the Gothic, and the nationalistic.

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