SubscribeStar Saturday: Spooktacular Review

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Last night was my second annual Halloween Spooktacular.  I hosted a concert from my front porch, with attendees sitting on the front lawn.  I had some t-shirts made up, which I sold for $20 each, and my brother grilled hot dogs.  My girlfriend made a bunch of Halloween-themed baked goods, and I had a couple of opening acts.

House concerts have long been a popular option for independent musicians, but those are typically indoor performances at someone else’s house.  I took that idea and flipped it to an outdoor format.

In this post, I want to break down some of the numbers to see how it all worked out.  As of this moment—after paying for expenses, paying musicians, and the rest—the whole shindig cost me a little less than $20 (I’ll end up in the black after selling another couple of t-shirts).  Essentially, I threw a very well-attended Halloween party nearly at cost.

The rest of today’s post will be posted to subscribe to my SubscribeStar page tomorrow.  I’m playing a gig for a private party this evening and have to get ready to head that way.

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

Spooktacular Shirt - Hanger

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Gig Day IV: Spooktacular II

We’re a mere day away from Halloween.  All the build-up and fun are reaching their culmination.  Indeed, I’ll be playing a fortieth birthday party tomorrow—a last-minute booking that will make it a very lucrative Halloween for yours portly.

But tonight I’ll be hosting my second annual Halloween Spooktacular!  I staged my first Spooktacular last year, and it was so much fun, I decided I had to do it again.

Unfortunately, in The Age of The Virus many venues have stopped hosting live music.  For example, the coffee shop that hosted last year’s Spooktacular is doing take-out orders only.  That’s the case with a number of other coffee shops in my area, which has eliminated most live performances and open mic nights.

So I decided to stage the Spooktacular on my front porch!

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TBT: Happy Halloween!

Halloween is nearly here!  I love Halloween, so I had to dedicate this week’s TBT to last year’s Halloween post.  This Halloween is particularly fun, as I’m hosting my annual Spooktacular this Friday evening (information here).

It’s been a good Halloween season.  My girlfriend and I carved pumpkins this weekend.  It was her first time, but she carved far more elaborate ones than I did.  See for yourself:

Pumpkins 2020

Her’s are the ones on the left—the bat and the drooling pumpkin.  Mine are on the right—the more traditional snaggle-toothed variety.  The one on the bottom right reminds me of King Kong.

We’ve also watched both Halloween and Halloween II, so we’ve pretty much checked off all the boxes.

With that, here’s 31 October 2019’s “Happy Halloween!“:

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Monday Morning Movie Review: Interview with the Vampire (1994)

It’s Halloween Week, and—appropriately and chillingly enough—today’s post marks my 666th consecutive post.  Yikes!  What better way to observe this unfortunately demonic milestone than with a review of 1994’s Interview with the Vampire?

The film itself is a frame story, with Cajun vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt) sharing his “life” story with a reporter (Christian Slater).  Louis had intended on feeding on the reporter, but decides instead to grant him the interview of a lifetime—the titular interview with a vampire.

Louis’s story begins in colonial Louisiana, when it was a Spanish colony (the territory traded hands between French and Spanish rule).  Louis’s wife and child died, sending Louis into a self-destructive spiral of risky behavior—drunken brawls, prostitutes, the works.  All he wants is death.

Into this mix comes Lestat (Tom Cruise), a flamboyant, nihilistic, haughty, obsessive vampire.  Lestat “turns” Louis, inducting him into the world of the living dead.  Louis immediately recoils at the implications of this new “life,” particularly the feeding upon humans for sustenance.

He instead attempts to live on the blood of rats and other animals, but his slaves grow suspicious when their master stops eating, and cattle and other creatures end up dead.  Lestat does not share Louis’s sense of restraint and humanity—indeed, Lestat is fascinated by Louis’s dogged persistence in maintaining what humanity he has left—and instead views humans as mere cattle.  Louis finally breaks, feeding upon his loyal house slave, Yvette, and then encourages his slaves to destroy his mansion as he flees into the night.

Lestat, naturally, is enraged at the loss of their home and their wealth, but the two find new accommodations in New Orleans.  A plague is sweeping through the city, and a distraught Louis stumbles upon a young girl trying to awaken her mother, who has died from the plague.  In a fit of hunger and shame, Louis feeds upon the child, and leaves her for dead.

Upon returning to their shared flat, Louis is horrified to find Lestat with the young girl.  Lestat feeds the young girl some of his blood, thus turning her into a five-year old vampire.

Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) becomes a voracious, childlike pupil of Lestat, and something like a daughter to both Lestat and Louis.  They dress her in finery, give her piano lessons (she feeds upon her teacher at one point, horrifyingly and humorously), and generally dote over her.  But as time marches on, Claudia’s mind develops, though her body is perpetually trapped at five-years old.

That perpetual childish body drives Claudia increasingly mad, as she yearns to be grow and develop into a woman.  She grows to despise Lestat, who dresses her “like a doll,” and draws closer to Louis.  Eventually, Claudia and Louis escape Lestat’s obsessive, controlling nature, and flee to Europe, where they encounter other vampires in Paris—with fatal consequences.

I won’t reveal any more of the plot there, but the film does an incredible job of creating investment in and sympathy for these characters.  Louis never fully embraces the vampiric life, and yearns for his lost humanity—and mortality.  Lestat is flamboyant—he reminded me a great deal of Milo—and wicked, even by vampire standards.

But the most interesting and tragic figure is Claudia, capably played by a very young Kirsten Dunst.  Claudia is “saved” from death, but is thereby denied any chance at a real life.  Her very existence is a travesty, and is considered by the European vampires to be taboo and dangerous.  Claudia’s own mental deterioration and rage clearly illustrate why.

Vampires are interesting and terrifying figures in folklore, and they are inherently demonic:  they represent a horrible inversion of Christ.  Christ died for our sins and shed His Blood for our salvation.  When we accept Christ, we are covered in His Blood, and our sins are washed away.  There is redemption and new life—eternal life—in Christ’s Sacrifice.

But vampires offer a perverted undead—an “un-life”—through their blood.  It is a form of immortality, but one that is entirely tied to this world, and completely separated from God.  Thus, the vampire is an eternal nihilist.  The implicit bargain of the vampire is a Devil’s Bargain:  enjoy as much of the world as you want, but you can never truly leave it.  The vampire is also damned—a common theme in vampire movies and books—and can only hope for Hell, or walking the Earth for all eternity, like Cain (who is often considered the father of vampires).

As for the film itself, I highly recommend it.  Anne Rice’s books about vampires quite good, too, and the film does justice to the source material.  It’s also fun seeing a pale Tom Cruise running around in flouncy eighteenth-century garb.

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TBT: Climate Hysteria Robs Us of Joy

In casting about for a good TBT this week, I stumbled upon this post—which really should have ended up in one of my “Forgotten Posts” editions of Lazy Sunday—about the foolishness of climate hysteria, and the arrogance of thinking we can really have a concrete impact on the environment at the macro-level.

Don’t get me wrong:  I enjoy God’s Creation, and I think stewardship of His Creation is incredibly important.  We shouldn’t go around adopting baby sea turtles.  But driving to work everyday isn’t going to affect the environment or the climate in any discernible way.

In fact, it’s funny—climate change doesn’t even seem like a serious issue anymore (who even remembers Greta Thunberg now?).  As soon as the elites went hard for The Virus hysteria, they immediately had us using disposable plastic crap and Styrofoam containers again.  Even the whole message of The Age of The Virus was “Consume”—stay home, eat takeout, watch trash TV.

That puts the lie to the climate change nonsense.  I’ll repeat my admonition from one year ago today:  “Eat, drink, and be merry—and have lots of babies.”

Here is 22 October 2019’s “Climate Hysteria Robs Us of Joy“:

Growing up, I received my fair share of public school climate indoctrination.  My generation cut its teeth on Captain Planet, the eco-propaganda cartoon that, among other things, scolded Americans for using too many resources and having too many babies.  Fast forward to today, and those arguments are mainstream.

In fact, I remember my dad telling me that Captain Planet was Ted Turner‘s ham-fisted attempt at indoctrinating kids—one of the first times I vividly remember learning that the elites were lying to us.  The finger-wagging, puritanical nagging of environmentalists further pushed me away from eco-hysteria.

Still, we were always taught that the oceans were dying, that fresh water was scarce, etc.  Well, thanks to Quora, some easy math shows us that God’s Creation is abundant enough.

Quora user posed the question (to paraphrase):  if everyone drank a glass of water from the ocean (let’s assume it’s been desalinated), how would it affect the sea level?

Geoffrey Widdison’s answer goes through the math:  if everyone—including babies! (around 7.7 billion people)—took a twelve-ounce glass of water from the ocean simultaneously, “the water level would drop by 0.0000000075 meters, or about 7.5 nanometers. That’s about 1/1000 the size of a red blood cell.”  Another contributor, Vilmos Shepard, writes that this scenario “would lower the ocean by less than a wavelength of light.”

As Widdison writes in his response, “within a day or two, we’d all sweat, breathe and urinate that water back out, and it would eventually end up back in the oceans. The water cycle is a hard thing to beat.”  Indeed.

The more I learn about Creation, the more I appreciate that there’s not much we can do to affect or alter the macro-level environment.  We can make tweaks and marginal improvements—such as improving desalination of sea water, transporting water more efficiently, picking up trash, etc.—but it’s foolish to think we alone can break or fix the environment.  Creation is incredibly abundant and robust.

Barring massive nuclear warfare, our everyday actions are not going to destroy the planet.  I’m not saying we should casually throw our old tires into the river—we should be good stewards of Creation—but it’s wasted effort to agonize over our carbon footprint.  If the enviro-cultists and eco-hipsters really cared, they’d live in the country, instead of cramming themselves into energy-guzzling urban hellscapes.

Eat, drink, and be merry—and have lots of babies.  Don’t curtail your enjoyment of the bounty of God’s Creation just because Ted Turner and Greta Thunberg are insane and deluded.  Yes,  yes—dispose of your old electronics and used motor oil properly (we’re trying have a society here), but we shouldn’t lose sleep over eating a steak.

ocean

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Monsters

Back in May I stumbled upon an online culture journal, The Hedgehog Review, a publication of the Institute for the Advanced Studies of Culture.  I don’t know much about either the publication or the IASC, other than they’re based out of the University of Virginia, so I can’t speak to their degree of implicit Leftist infiltration, but default position is that any organization in 2020 that isn’t explicitly conservative is probably Left-leaning.

It’s sad that I even have to make that disclaimer, because some part of me still clings to the old ideal of a broad, humanistic approach to knowledge—that we should examine ideas on their own merits, not on the politics of the entities espousing them.  I still believe that ideal is worth pursuing; I just also believe it is currently dead, or at least on life-support.

But I digress.  The then-current issue of The Hedgehog Review was dedicated entirely to the theme of “Monsters.”  It being the Halloween season, the time seemed ripe to revisit those pieces, and the idea of “monsters.”

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TBT: The Joy of Hymnals

It being October, I tend to focus on the spookiness of the season.  I love Halloween, ghost stories, and scary movies, but it’s important not to get too bogged down in the chills.

So as I was going through posts from October 2019, I stumbled upon one of my old favorites:  “The Joy of Hymnals.”  My small church roped me into playing piano for Sunday morning services maybe two years ago, and it quickly rekindled an old love of hymns and hymnals.

Hymnals are my favorite items to find in old second-hand shops and antique stores (the latter of which often selling them at an egregious markup).  It’s fun to see which hymns do—and, more importantly, don’t—show up in any given hymnal.  I particularly like slender volumes, the kind that were meant for carrying from service to service or camp meeting to camp meeting, and which tend to possess hymns from the canon, if such a thing exists, of hymnody.

I even recorded and released a very lo-fi EP, The Lo-Fi Hymnal, which consists of crude recordings of my Sunday morning playing.  That short collection also includes a PDF version of today’s TBT feature.

Here is “The Joy of Hymnals“:

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The Future of Cinema

Over the past year or so, I’ve become far more interested in film as an artistic medium.  I’ve always enjoyed going to the movies, but I’m beginning to seek out more interesting and unusual fare, particularly the classics.  One reason I’m watching more films from the 1960s-1990s is because so many flicks these days are full of social justice pandering and parroting of the Leftist bromides du jour.  It’s refreshing watching movies in which people act like people, and not drones from the HR or Diversity Departments.

In The Age of The Virus, we’ve been encouraged to stay home and watch TV—a commentary on our diluted sense of “sacrifice” in the twenty-first-century West.  But that’s had an interesting impact on the cinema, by which I mean movie theaters.  With endless content on streaming services and bigger, cheaper televisions, it seems that the old movie palaces and multiplexes are increasingly obsolete.

Regal Cinemas re-shuttered its theaters across the country after making a go at reopening.  When I went to see The Empire Strikes Back and The New Mutants, there were very few people there, even during prime weekend screening times.  The New Mutants was a full-freight flick, but Empire and other classics were just $5!  Even then there were loads of empty seats—and that wasn’t just because of social distancing requirements.  I asked a manager how he was doing and he said, “Well, at least we’ve got some people here tonight.”  It does not sound good for the future of theaters.

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Movie Review: The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)

After returning from Universal Studios yesterday, I decided to ease back into the week with a couple of flicks.  Hulu isn’t the best of streaming services in terms of content, but lately I’ve uncovered some good older films on the platform, and occasionally I’ll uncover some hidden gems.

To be sure, there’s a good bit of garbage, too, especially this time of year, when the budget horror flicks pop up like weeds.  I watched 1972’s The Last House on the Left last night before catching the subject of this review, and it was a lurid bit of early 70s exploitation.  It didn’t necessarily endorse the violence and depravity it depicted, but it certainly seemed to revel in it.  At its best, it was a morality tale about the dangers of the hippie movement and misguided youthful energy; at its worst, it was an excuse to torture pretty girls on screen.  I’d recommend giving it a pass.

The second film I watched, however, is one I will highly recommend:  1976’s The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane.  It stars a barely-thirteen-year old Jodie Foster in a command performance, along with a young Martin Sheen, who must have been about twenty-six at the time.

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