SubscribeStar Saturday: Easter Weekend 2021

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It’s Easter Weekend 2021!  Unlike last Easter, which was “decidedly un-Eastery” in The Age of The Virus, this Easter is starting to go back to normal.  By the time you read this post, I will have had my second shot of the Pfizer vaccine, so I’m either fully medically acceptable to our cosmopolitan elites—or dead.  Gulp!  I’m not sure which is worse.

Regardless, more and more folks are vaccinated, and churches have been reopened for many months now here in the South (they never should have been shuttered in the first place).  I fully expect that tomorrow will see a return, albeit a perhaps socially-distanced, diminished return, to the jam-packed Easter services of The Before Times, in the Long, Long Ago.

Easter is the most important holiday in the Christian calendar, probably in a dead-heat with Christmas.  Just as Christmas celebrates Christ’s Birth, Easter commemorates His Resurrection—the ultimate testament to Christ’s Victory over Death, the Devil, and the Grave.

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TBT^2: April Fool’s Day: A Retrospective

The Kindle version of The One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard: The Ultimate Flatfoot goes live today!  If you pre-ordered the book, it should pop up in your Kindle app today.  At $5, it’s a very easy lift, as is the paperback at $15.

It’s April Fool’s Day, a holiday for mirth and merriment, but one I dedicate to remembering the day twelve years ago when I faced unemployment during the worst job market since the Great Depression.

In rereading last year’s TBT and the original “April Fool’s Day: A Retrospective,” I’m reminded how good God has been to me.  Last year I’d lost most of my private lesson students due to The Virus; now, I’m back up to seven students (six weekly, one twice a month), and I’ve just released a book (the Kindle version goes live today!).  Gigging still hasn’t really picked back up, but Bandcamp sales have been decent (and another Bandcamp Friday is tomorrow!), and my front porch Spooktacular was a blast.

I’m still hustlin’, but I’m also taking more time to appreciate life.  Perhaps the hard slog of my twenties has finally paid off here in my mid-thirties.

With that, here are “April Fool’s Day: A Retrospective” and “TBT: April Fool’s Day: A Retrospective“:

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Saint Patrick’s Day

Today is Saint Patrick’s Day throughout the Western world, a day to venerate and celebrate the life, death, and Christian service of Saint Patrick (the day coincides with the supposed date of St. Patrick’s death).  Of course, now the holiday has devolved into a drunken festivity in which everyone pretends to be Irish for a day, downing pints of green beer and wearing green.

The real story of Saint Patrick is far more interesting than the debauched modern celebration.  Patrick was the son of a wealthy family in what is now Britain in the declining years of the Roman Empire.  Irish raiders captured Patrick and sold him into slavery in the Emerald Isle.  Working alone as a shepherd, isolated and afraid, Patrick turned to Christ for solace and strength.

After escaping captivity, God called him back to Ireland, not as a slave, but to deliver Ireland from its spiritual bondage.  After his ordination, Patrick returned and preached the Gospel to the pagan Irish, sparking a major religious revival among the people there.  Ultimately, Ireland became second perhaps only to France in its dedication to the Catholic Church, and unlike its Gallic co-religionists, maintained that devotion well into the twentieth century.

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Groundhog Day

Today is Groundhog Day in the United States, one of those throwaway observations that gets some cute stories in the news about a rodent spotting its shadow and a handful of opportunistic sales events sandwiched in between MLK Day and Presidents’ Day.  It’s ubiquitous enough to make it into the papers and the home page of your preferred search engine, but not significant enough to get a day off work.

I primarily remember Groundhog Day as a career-shadowing day for high school students.  When I was in high school, I spent one “Groundhog Shadowing Day,” as the administration called it, shadowing a college history professor at the University of South Carolina-Aiken.  I remember being overawed by the specificity of the historical research papers his college students were writing (in the way a first grader marvels at a fifth grader who writes an entire paragraph, not just one sentence), and chuckling to myself at his pro-gun control op-eds.  Even back then I knew college professors were loopy.

The following year I had the opportunity to shadow my State representative, who I remember as having a rather red-cheeked appearance and jovial manner.  I was still under the impression that politicians were somehow elevated beings, people possessed of occasional foibles and shortcomings, but ultimately intent on serving the public interest.  Ah, yes—the naïveté of youth.  I’ll never forget an energy lobbyist slapping him on the back and telling me, “I know Skipper will look out for us.”  Indeed.

Otherwise, Groundhog Day doesn’t loom large in my mind other than as a fun Bill Murray movie in which he woos a beautiful South Carolinian, Andie MacDowell.  Indeed, that film seems to have brought the holiday into the larger consciousness of Americans, as it had largely been a Mid-Atlantic—Pennsylvanian, really—observance up to that point.

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TBT: Dawn of a Decade

It’s the first Thursday of 2021, so here we are with the first TBT of the year!  Fittingly, I’m looking back to the first post of 2020, “Dawn of Decade.”  As I noted at the time, the decade really began on 1 January 2021, so I suppose this throwback post works even better now.

In looking back at this post, it’s sobering to consider how much difference a year can make.  At the end of this post, I wrote, “Predictions being what they are—extremely unreliable—I’ll make a bold one:  2020 is going to be a great year.”

Yikes!  Talk about missing the mark big time.  Of course, on 1 January 2020, everything was going pretty well, at least for yours portly.  Sure, Trump was facing a sham impeachment, but the economy was swingin’.  I’d just come off my best year financially in terms of musical proceeds—enough to pay cash for my plucky 2017 Nissan Versa Note (a fitting model for a music teacher), and was booking some gigs at fun new venues.

Then, of course, The Virus changed everything, possibly forever.  Despite that, I still had a great year—reconnecting with friends and family; traveling far more extensively than normal; and diving more into my love of music.  It was just a very different year than I anticipated.

At the end of least year’s post, I included a word total for the year 2019 (which now WordPress tells me is slightly higher than I reported originally:  232,348 words total for 2019), so I’ll do the same for 2020.  In 2020, I wrote 253,377 words.  Assuming a page of double-text, size-12, Times New Roman font typing is roughly 300 words per page, that comes out to a whopping 844.59 pages of writing.

Granted, some of that is from TBT posts like this one, but the takeaway for me is that it’s time to compile some essays into ebooks.  Cha-ching!

With that, here is 1 January 2020’s “Dawn of a Decade“:

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Happy New Year 2021!

Well, here it is—the real dawn of a new decade.  As I noted in last year’s New Year’s Day post,

Wags will quip that “[2020]’s not really a new decade—that doesn’t start until next year, in 2021.”  It’s a case where the wags are correct on the facts, but don’t appreciate how appealing that nice, round “0” at the end looks.  Everyone was excited for 2000 AD; 2001 was greeted with shrugs.

I have a feeling 2021 will earn the same shrugs as 2001, with one crucial difference:  everyone was so desperate for 2020 to end, they’re going to treat 2021 as the dawn of a new age.

I wish I could share their optimism.  I am positive about the new year—an opportunity to reset and reflect, and to try to best goals set and/or achieved in 2020.

But the macro view looks bleak:  a questionable, if not outright stolen, presidential election; an enduring Chinese Virus; the draconian lockdowns and fiat edicts flimsily justified as measures against The Virus; the further decline of morality; and on and on.  The future doesn’t seem bright for the West at the moment.

History, however, suggests that it’s always darkest just before the dawn.  The cultural turmoil of the 1960s lead into the long, filthy 70s.  In 1979, America and the West were on the ropes:  the Soviets were invading Afghanistan; Americans were held hostage in Iran; the coal miner’s unions ruled Britain.

Ten years later, the Berlin Wall came down, the hostages were home, and Britain became a financial powerhouse.  It was cool to be conservative, at least for a time.  For a time, things were improving.

Maybe that was a temporary reprieve—as I believe President Trump’s presidency was, in many ways, was a reprieve from Leftist insanity—but it shows how even the darkest situations don’t inevitably lead to decline.  I’m a declinist by inclination, but I have to remember that God is in control, and He will see us through anything if we have faith.

So, here’s hoping that 2021 improves on 2020—which, in retrospect, wasn’t such a bad year after all.

Happy New Year!

—TPP

agriculture barley field beautiful close up

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Flashback Friday: Christmas and its Symbols

It’s Christmas!  Another magical day to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

2020 was a tough year, but Christ is mightier than The Virus.  Thank God—literally!—for sending His Son.

Have a wonderful, safe, loving Christmas Day.  God Bless all of your for your support and generosity, and for being such amazing readers.

Here’s 25 December 2019’s “Christmas and its Symbols“:

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TBT: Christmas Eve

Here we are—another Christmas Eve.  It’s a night full of magic, mysticism, and wonder—the Light and holy version of Halloween, when the tenuous division between our corporeal existence and the supernatural world is thin.

Last year I wrote of my family’s Christmas Eve traditions, which are changing up a bit again this year.  In lieu of the usual evening candlelight service, we’re going to an afternoon service at a church in my younger brother’s neck of the woods.  Afterwards, we’ll be enjoying Chinese food—a newer tradition for us—and some fondue, a tradition from my sister-in-law’s side of the family.  We’re beginning to sound like 1970s Jews on Christmas.

Here’s wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas tomorrow—and some Christmas Eve merriment tonight!  With that, here is 24 December 2019’s “Christmas Eve“:

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Christmas Break Begins!

Well, here it is—the week of Christmas, and the beginning of my glorious, two-week Christmas break.  If this blog post feels a bit like I’m rubbing in readers’ faces the bloated excess of education’s vacation time, my apologies.  I will note, though, that if you spent hours everyday as a surrogate parent to other people’s children, you, too, would want two weeks off at Christmas.

Indeed, I would argue that more professions deserve more time off at Christmastime.  Naturally, I realize that many folks save up their hard-earned vacation days to do just that:  enjoy a week or so with their families by the yule log, sipping eggnog and hot cocoa in their festive Cosby sweaters.  What I’m advocating for, though, is a widespread cultural movement—maybe even to the point of declaring some federal holidays—in the days leading up to and/or immediately after Christmas.  It always blows my mind when people work a full day—even a measly half-day—on Christmas Eve.

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