TBT: One Week [and One Year] Under the Usurper

Well, it’s been one year and one week since Biden the Usurper seized the throne and assumed his reign of the federal government.  Of course, he’s a senile puppet—or maybe he’s playing at senility—and rubber stamps whatever the progressives want.

I’ve really disengaged from national politics over the last year, as I find much of the wrangling fruitless.  I personally advocate for radical decentralization and focusing our energy and attention at the lowest levels of government to bring about change.  If economics functions on a “trickle-down” basis, politics “trickles-up”—(re)gain control of the mechanisms of power and the institutions locally, and you’re going to change—albeit slowly—the greater heights.

That said, even I am not ignorant to the state of the country.  Workers are quitting their menial jobs in droves—or not returning to them after being furloughed—as they can enjoy excessively generous unemployment benefits.  Prices are through the roof on everything, especially food.  Farmers are facing higher prices for the inputs for fertilizer, which means food is just going to get more expensive.  The supply chains are totally disrupted.  And we’re wringing our hands over The Virus, which has gotten milder over time, and was never all that deadly anyway.

Police officers are arresting nine-year olds in New York City for not having vaccine passports.  Masks—which don’t work at all—are a sign of the pious—the New Elect—and increase carbon dioxide levels.  Companies are forcing employees to get The Vaccine, which isn’t even a vaccine in the traditional sense, but an experimental gene therapy that appears to increase dramatically the incidences of myocarditis in even the healthiest individuals—including professional athletes, who are dropping like flies.

Americans might have lost their spirit of ornery rebellion, but if their kids are getting arrested and/or discriminated against and they can’t buy stuff they want at low prices, they’ll make a fuss.  They already are.  The Biden Administration might not bear the responsibility for everything that is happening, but they’ve done precious little to ameliorate—and much to exacerbate—our current situation.

That’s why now more than ever, we’ve got to get serious about fixing things where we are.  Grow your own food, stack cash (even if inflation eats into it), and learn to live lean.

With that, here is 27 January 2021’s “One Week Under the Usurper“:

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Monday Morning Movie Review: Nobody (2021)

I’ve been watching a lot of crappy movies lately, especially with the snowy weather we had in South Carolina this weekend, but each one has been more forgettable than the last.  Regular reader Ponty asked me to write a review of a really bad movie, but that requires a movie to be bad and memorable.  Most of the dreck I’ve watched lately has been bad and boring.  The vast majority of bad films—indeed, probably the vast majority of films, period—fall into this category.

My aunt, also a regular reader and subscriber has asked me to review 2021’s The Electrical Life of Louis Wain.  I plan on doing that soon, but I have to track down the film first.  It looks like it’s on Prime Video, so I’ll have to see if there are some credentials I can borrow to watch it (or I’ll just break down and get an Amazon Prime membership).

So I was in a bit of a bind going into Sunday, with no film rising to the level of reviewable (or, I should say, with the inability to remember any details of any films I’ve watched recently).  Then my younger brother mentioned that he and his wife were going to watch Nobody (2021) Saturday after their kids went to bed, and I remembered that I’d purchased the DVD from RedBox months ago, and had been meaning to watch it ever since.

Nobody was a film I wanted to see in theaters.  The premise—an everyday working stiff finally cracks and takes action against bad guys—is one I’ve always enjoyed in movies (probably as a form of wish-fulfillment), and Bob Odenkirk is a comedy legend.  Comedy, action, the little guy throwing punches?  That’s my kind of flick.

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Memorable Monday: MLK Day 202[2]

In lieu of the usual movie review this week, I’m taking advantage of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to lighten my blogging load slightly.  I’ll have another Midweek Mad Scientist Movie Madness post for $3 and up subscribers on Wednesday, so if you want your weekly fix of filmic schlock, check back then.  An aunt of mine has requested a movie review, and as soon as I figure out how to watch the flick, I’ll be reviewing it one Monday (I’m looking out for you, Aunt Marilyn).

After a week of virtual learning and lots of time alone (well, with Murphy, at least), I’m eager to get out of the house, but I will likely spend today prepping for the abbreviated school week and getting the house in order.  I’m thankful for the day off, but I’d probably appreciate it more—as I did in January 2020—if I were utterly exhausted—as I was in January 2020.  I think slightly less appreciation is a worthwhile trade-off, though!

This post from 2020 delves into some of the complexity of the Reverend Dr. King’s legacy, and warns against excessive idolization of historical figures—even martyrs.  Much of the inspiration from the stories of Christian Saints, for example, derives from their human frailty.  Even the great Saint Augustine, when praying to God for control over his lustful nature, prayed, “Grant me chastity and self-control, but please not yet.”

From the evidence, it appears that King participated in some really debauched, even evil, sexual practices.  The FBI’s suspicions that he may have been are Marxist were probably justified to some extent, even if the FBI treated him shabbily and is a despicable tool of oppression.  If King were alive today, I’d wager he’d be knee-deep in the CRT foolishness that his famous “I Have a Dream” speech explicitly rejects.

Yet from this extremely imperfect vessel came ringing declarations of spiritual equality.  Regardless of our race, we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights.  That is the part of King’s legacy we should celebrate, while remembering he was a deeply flawed individual.

In other words, let us put our faith and trust in Christ, not in men.

With that, here is January 2020’s “MLK Day 2020“:

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Lazy Sunday CXLVI: 2021’s Top Five Posts

It’s officially 2022, but this Sunday I’m going to cast one more look back at 2021.  As is tradition, in addition to my annual “Worst of” lists, I always do a “Top Five Posts” retrospective as well.

Like the “Worst of” lists, I don’t base these posts off of their quality, but by the number of views they received.  Some of them probably are very high-quality posts; others just got a lot of eyeballs.

I’ve also included the next three highest posts, which serendipitously worked out to be unique in their own ways, with two being of particular significance to the growth of the blog this year.

While I did not have any huge breakthrough posts in 2021—those garnering quadruple digits, like “Tom Steyer’s Belt“—my posts on average had more views, and my WordPress subscriber count increased substantially.  It turns out that if you keep at something for a thousand days, you start gaining some traction!  I also had substantially more commenter participation, thanks to folks hopping over from The Conservative Woman and Nebraska Energy Observer.

With that, here are 2021’s Top Five Posts:

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Flashback Friday^2: Christmas and its Symbols

Okay, okay—it’s not Christmas.  But, hey, close enough, right?

There will be an actual Christmas post tomorrow morning, though it’s going to be very short.  But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to turn “Flashback Friday” into “Flashback Friday^2,” angering mathematicians and calendar enthusiasts everywhere.

The original post in this “series,” “Christmas and its Symbols,” contains some excellent Christmas wisdom.  So often we hear Christmas denounced as a secretly “pagan” holiday because we hang wreaths, put up trees, and dangle mistletoe.  But as one meme I’ve seen recently put it (to paraphrase), “Yes, I love to display the trophies of my vanquished foes.”

Christianity sure did kick—and continues to kick—some butt.  We could probably do with some more warrior-monks running around with maces and clubs.

For this weekend and beyond, though, Jesus—as He always does—will do.

With that, here is “Flashback Friday: Christmas and its Symbols“:

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Retro Tuesday: Christmas Break Begins!

Yesterday marked the true “beginning of my glorious, two-week Christmas break.”  It’s been a busy break so far, with a very productive Town Council work session last night, and a meeting with our new Mayor-Elect this morning.  I’m also meeting with a parent later in the day to sign some paperwork for a program for her daughter.

That’s a breakneck pace compared to past Christmas breaks, but it’s nothing too daunting.  I’m looking forward to some time with my parents, brothers, sister-in-laws, niece, and nephews soon, not to mention other family members.

It’s a lazy time of year for the blog, too:  not much is happening in the news, and everyone is settling in for a long winter’s nap.  I will have a guest contribution from 39 Pontiac Dreamer tomorrow—a review of a video game series—and some other goodies after Christmas.  Otherwise, look for a lot of re-runs from yours portly this week.

That said, the topic of this post from last Christmas Break—the need for some time off at Christmas for everyone, not just those of us in the cushy education racket—is still relevant.  Granted, some workers have decided to take the entire year off, it seems, enjoying generous federal unemployment and other kickbacks from The Age of The Virus, rather than return to their honest, albeit grueling, jobs.  Maybe let’s shoot for something a bit more balanced, yeah?

Still, work, while ennobling and healthy, can easily become overtaxing and detrimental.  There are diminishing returns, too:  after too many hours and too much effort, both mental and physical, we all start to get sloppy.  Some folks are built with the drive and energy to go nonstop, but I suspect most of us appreciate having a little downtime here and there.

With that, here is 21 December 2021’s “Christmas Break Begins!“:

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TBT^2: O Little Town of Bethlehem and the Pressures of Songwriting

It’s Exam Week again, and I’ve managed to stay on top of grading as of the time of this writing.  My school only requires teachers to be on campus this week for exams we’re proctoring, so it’s been much quieter and more relaxed than the two weeks preceding this one.

It’s interesting looking back at this post in its prior permutations, though they both explore the same idea:  the genius that arises from pressure.

I don’t work well under pressure, but if I have to twenty-three-skidoo together a song in twenty-four hours, I’m far more likely to get it done than if I have an amorphous, open-ended deadline.  I’ve been approached on a small number of occasions to compose music for certain purposes, and I usually fall down on the job.  I find that while I can write a song fairly quickly, I do not compose instrumental music terribly well under pressure.  That requires a great deal of thought, especially if the music is programmatic in nature.

That said, I’ve been listening to more of my buddy Frederick Ingram’s work, and even some of my old EP.  It’s pretty remarkable listening back to some of the songs that I wrote, a few of them nearly ten years ago!  I also realize that I actually wrote some pretty good songs—and I’ve been trying to figure out where that inspiration and lyrical subtlety went.

For example, I’ve long written off one of my songs, “Funeral Pyre,” as kind of a throwaway tune.  I wrote it the morning I was supposed to begin recording the record (but that session was rescheduled due to a snowstorm).  It was based on an interesting line that popped into my head one night before bed:  “That crackling fire/was the funeral pyre/for the flame that I held out/for you.”

The song was intended to be a Meat Loafian ballad about unrequited love and romantic mistakes that, despite the pain, bring with them growth.  But it’s never been a fan favorite, and I gradually stopped playing it at live shows except only occasionally.

In listening back to it now, I’m actually pretty darn impressed with some of the poetic imagery I managed to evoke (I was probably twenty-nine at the time I wrote it, if I have my dates right).  It is very much inspired by Jim Steinman’s writing for Meat Loaf, and the piece is actually quite vocally demanding (though not nearly as impressive as Loaf himself).  It doesn’t have the toe-tapping, singalong quality of “Hipster Girl Next Door” or the iconic hooks of “Greek Fair,” but I find that I am finding depth in my own song that I didn’t realize was there!

Well, anyway, that’s enough navel-gazing.  I promise I’m not trying to brag about how brilliant younger me was, but it’s pretty cool revisiting my older works.  To be sure, listening back to some of those tracks now almost sounds like karaoke, with my voice over pianos that are mixed—why am I only noticing this years later?—a little too loud, giving the sensation of a karaoke track.

With that, here is “TBT: O Little Town of Bethlehem and the Pressures of Songwriting“:

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TBT: Singing Christmas Carols with Kids

December is here, and that means it’s time for Christmas music!  My students and I are prepping for our annual Christmas concert—back after The Age of The Virus—and have been playing and singing quite a bit of Christmas music.

Indeed, my Music Club—a club designed to get students involved in playing and performing music who, for whatever reason, could not get a music class fit into their schedules—met Tuesday to sing some carols, with the idea being that we will spend lunch and break periods next week caroling for the student body.

As their voices came together in sparkling purity, it reminded me of this post from last year.  We started our short rehearsal with “Silent Night,” one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs, and the sweetness and fullness of it with eight or so singers really swelled my heart.  We also sang “Joy to the World,” “Away in a Manger,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” and one or two others that escape me.

I once heard that singing is good for you, both physically and mentally.  Christmas carols—songs about the Birth of Our Savior, Jesus Christ—surely are good for you spiritually, too.  Sing some today.

With that, here is 4 December 2020’s “Singing Christmas Carols with Kids“:

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Flashback Friday^2: Brack Friday Bunduru: Workers Need a Break

It’s Black Friday today, so everyone is rushing out to get whatever picked over sales items they can.  In the spirit of Black Friday, I’d be remiss if I didn’t hawk my bookThe One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard, and my music.  Inspector Gerard is the perfect White Elephant gag gift, and at $10 for the paperback, it fits perfectly into the price point for most such novelty gift exchanges.  I’ve also got some weird merch for sale.

I first wrote “Brack Friday Bunduru: Workers Need a Break“ back in 2019, at a point when I was feeling immense amounts of burnout at work.  I stand by my original assessment—that companies shouldn’t gobble up Thanksgiving Day to offer increasingly early doorbuster sales so their workers can enjoy some time with their families—though now I would probably add some more caveats.

I realized that I never really explained the name “Brack Friday Bunduru.”  I lifted it from an episode of South Park in which the kids heat up the console wars between the XBox and Playstation:

Ever since, I can’t help but say, “Brack Friday Bunduru” in an exaggerated Japanese accent ever Black Friday.

With that, here is 2020’s “Flashback Friday: Brack Friday Bunduru: Workers Need a Break”:

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