Monday Morning Movie Review: Near Dark (1987)

August is an odd time be writing about vampires.  With the intense heat and humidity of the brutal South Carolina summer beating down upon us, it doesn’t feel like vampire weather.  But the crisp autumnal nights of October are closer than we realize, even if they seem impossible right now.

That said, the Southern vampire is a particular niche of Southern gothic horror.  All the mystery and romance of “moonlight and magnolias” is enhanced with these mysterious, romantic creatures stalking about crumbling old plantation houses in the night.  I’ve been reading Anne Rice’s novel Interview with the Vampire (the film version of which I reviewed last fall), and the titular vampire and narrator, Louis, is from Louisiana.  The exotic setting of New Orleans plays a prominent role in the first half of the book, and provides the perfect backdrop for Louis, Lestat, and Claudia’s lethal nocturnal escapades.

This week’s film, 1987’s Near Dark, isn’t exactly about Southern vampires, but Midwestern vampires.  That doesn’t exactly fit into the mold of the seductive, mysterious vampire, but that’s one of the film’s strengths:  these vampires are crazy Nebraskan (or Oklahoman?) low-lives, terrorizing the prairie in a aluminum-foil-covered panel van.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: East Coast, West Coast

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An enduring question—perhaps the enduring question—of our present age is whether or not a peaceful political solution is possible to resolve our current issues.  Any casual observer of national politics cannot help but notice that there is a deep division in the United States, one grounded in (at least) two fundamentally opposed philosophies.

To the dissident—that catch-all term to encompass of any number of alternative philosophies or worldviews to the prevailing “progressive-conservative” dynamic—both modern progressivism and modern conservatism are two sides of the same coin.  Indeed, Buckleyite neoconservatism accepts, essentially, the basic tenants of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, ideas that serve as the foundation for modern progressivism, though the two interpret that foundation in wildly different ways.

Thus, there is a paradox:  modern conservatives largely share a worldview that is incompatible with that of modern progressives’; yet, there roots originate in the same soil of the interventionist state.  The difference, perhaps, is the fertilizer:  the Leftist progressive overwaters with “equality” (now, increasingly, “equity”); the conservative presents a more balanced mixture of equality, liberty, justice, etc.

(Indeed, these shared roots likely date back even further, to the liberalism of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-centuries; again, both the Left and the Right evoke the tenants of such liberalism [“all men are created equal”] while disagreeing vehemently on how those tenants should be expressed in public policy [equality for the Left means egalitarianism and equality of outcomes; equality for the right means “equality before the God and the law”].)

That might make the possibility of some reconciliation seem possible—with shared roots comes some shared values, some shared history.

That’s the most optimistic view.  It’s one I do not share, but nor do I adopt the view that all is lost.  I believe that a blend of hyper-federalism, radical decentralization, and institutional control by dissidents could tip the balance in a positive direction.

The problem, of course, is that none of those goals is easy to achieve; some of them are currently inconceivable.  The federal government is unlikely to devolve more powers to the States (and many States probably secretly don’t want more); radical decentralization means losing out on corrupting but succulent federal largesse; and the institutions are firmly controlled by the Left—and not likely to rewrite the rules to let us challenge their supremacy.

So we come to a fundamental divide among dissidents:  what Curtis Yarvin calls the divide between West Coast dissidents (that includes Yarvin) and East Coast traditionalists (like me and, I suspect, photog at Orion’s Cold Fire) in his essay “The real Great Reset.”  The East Coast traditionalists believe that local control and working within the system can swing things in our favor and reverse course in the Culture Wars, what he calls voice; the West Coast dissidents believe that voice is useless at present, and instead reset—a total regime change of reset and replace is the answer.

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Supporting Friends Friday: The Music of John Pickett

The local music scene in the Pee Region of South Carolina is surprisingly robust, with some truly stellar musicians.  The creative heart of this scene rests in several open mic nights at local coffee shops.  Currently, the two big open mics to have resumed are at The Purple Fish Coffee Company in Darlington, South Carolina, and at Crema Coffee Bar in Hartsville, South Carolina.  The Fish hosts its open mic on Friday evenings, and Crema hosts its on Tuesday nights.

The other major open mic—probably the most enduring of the current Big Three—was at Lula’s Coffee Company in Florence, South Carolina.  Lula’s, however, has not resumed its legendary Thursday night open mic night—an open mic so artistically fervent, it inspired an entire book of poetry—much to the chagrin and bafflement of its most devoted performers, yours portly included.

But before there were any of these establishments, there was Bean Groovy, a now-defunct coffee shop that used to occupy a magical little bit of strip mall in Florence.  I know the former owner of Bean Groovy—himself a studio engineer in the distant past—and despite some attempts to reopen the establishment at other locations, it’s never made a return.

Nevertheless, Bean Groovy was where I got my start in local music in the Pee Dee, way back in the hazy, halcyon days of circa 2012-2013.  It, along with The Midnight Rooster in Hartsville (still in business, but it’s shifted from being a quirky coffee house into a frou-frou upscale dining establishment) were my old stomping grounds as I broke my way into the region’s open mic scene.

It was at Bean Groovy sometime in probably 2012 or 2013 that I met one of my best friends, John Pickett.  John is an excellent guitarist and singer, and he possesses one of the best ears for music I’ve ever encountered.

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Modern Art and Influence

Most readers of this blog will likely agree with the following sentiment:  “modern art is terrible.”  In my more intellectually generous moments, I’d add “most” as a qualifier to start that phrase, but with age comes orneriness, and orneriness does not lend itself to intellectual generosity.

Perhaps the best treatment of this sentiment in a scholarly—dare I say “intellectually generous”—way is Roger Kimball‘s The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art.  The book is a quick read, but even in 200 pages, it’s depressing seeing the increasingly bizarre, flat-out wrong interpretations politically-motivated Leftists bring to classic works of art.  The unfortunate trend of comparing everything that ever happened to Harry Potter is no-doubt the watered-down, pop cultural version of this academic shoehorning of the ideology du jour into artistic interpretation.

Of course, there is a corollary to the maxim that “modern art is terrible.”  It’s that “modern art is only successful because wealthy dupes want to look cool.”  That’s a bit of a mouthful, we all know it’s true.

So it is that two close relatives to the current Pretender’s regime—scandal-ridden, sister-in-law-loving drug addict Hunter Biden, and not-pretty-enough-to-be-a-model model Ella Emhoff (Vice President Kamala Harris‘s stepdaughter) have made good money peddling “art.”

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Let’s Get Biblical: The Wisdom of Exodus 22

This past Sunday we had a guest speaker at church, a pastor with a children’s home ministry.  The ministry began with a home in southwestern Virginia, and has expanded to an orphanage in Tuxtepec, Oaxaca, Mexico.  Both children’s homes are in poor, mountainous communities—the former the region where my late great-grandmother lived.  Both orphanages do amazing work with the kids, combining work (like gardening, feeding donkeys, and the like) with play—even a band!

In giving his talk about the ministry, the guest pastor referenced a few passages of Scripture.  Aside from the famous passage from Matthew 19:14 in which Jesus told the disciples to “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven,” the pastor also referenced Exodus 22:22-24, which deals with how widows and orphans are to be treated:

22You must not mistreat any widow or orphan. 23If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to Me in distress, I will surely hear their cry. 24My anger will be kindled, and I will kill you with the sword; then your wives will become widows and your children will be fatherless.

It’s a pretty powerful passage, and a reminder that God doesn’t mess around with sin, especially against the weakest and most defenseless.  We like to think that God has “mellowed out” since sending Jesus to die for our sins, but that’s dangerously wishful thinking.  God doesn’t change, and His Wrath is still mighty.

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Monday Morning Movie Review: She’s Allergic to Cats (2016)

Regular reader and Nebraska Energy Observer contributor Audre Myers frequently tells me that I am offering a valuable service by describing movies people should not see (if you agree with Audre, I take donations).  This Monday’s film, 2016’s She’s Allergic to Cats, likely qualifies, and I would like to apply it towards my contributions to humanity.

The description for the movie on Shudder.com reads thusly:

A lonely dog groomer in Hollywood searches for love, but his true passion is making weird video art that nobody understands. His menial routine spirals out of control when he meets the girl of his dreams, crossing boundaries between reality and fantasy as he dives deeper into his video experiments.

I guffawed as soon as I read the line “making weird video art that nobody understands.”  That sold me on the flick, which I actually found enjoyable, if baffling.

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Lazy Sunday CXXIII: Murphy

The big news this week is that I got a dog, Murphy, an eight-year old female bull terrier.  I promise that I am not turning the blog into a gushfest for this lovable, chunky fur ball, but given how much I’ve written about her this week, it made sense to dedicate this Lazy Sunday to posts about Murphy.  I mean, she is super lazy (she’s asleep at my feet at this very moment), and so I am; why scroll through a bunch of posts from all over the years, when I can just rehash the three related to my awesome dog?

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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Belated SubscribeStar Saturday: Back into the Arena Again

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This post was meant to be published on Saturday, 17 July 2021, but I was out of town without Internet.  Apologies to subscribers for the delay.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a detailed update on Lamar Town Council.  Lamar is really a wonderful town, and a great place to live; we’re just experiencing a number of strains that are typical for a small town with an aging population.  Even so, Lamar is uniquely poised for a renaissance, given its proximity to I-20 and the major population centers in the region.

That said, there are some systemic problems that are making that renewal more difficult.  Progress is being made to address each of these problems in turn, but it’s slow and often piecemeal.  That’s no criticism of the fine people who work for the Town—they’re doing quite well—but it’s indicative of the kinds of pressures on time and resources the town is experiencing.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Dog Days: Early Reflections on Dog Ownership

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Note to subscribersI am still working on last Saturday’s post.  It should be up later today.

As I noted in the title to Wednesday’s post, this blog is going to the dogs.  Don’t worry—not forever, and not always.  But with the experience of fostering sweet Murphy still fresh, I wanted to take some time today to reflect on the past two days of dog ownership.

Naturally, it’s a bit early yet—the term of the foster is thirty days, and after which I am allowed to adopt the old girl if I so choose—but it’s already been a positive experience, both for myself and, more importantly, the dog.

Murphy is an old girl—she is eight-years-old as of June—and was caught up in, as far as I can gather, some family drama, leading to her placement in a shelter in Havelock, North Carolina.  The Bull Terrier Rescue Mission swooped in and got in touch with me, just a week after I’d put in an application to become a foster for the organization (you can read that story here).  As such, she’s been through a great deal in the past week, and is already inclined to be a bit more relaxed, given her advanced age (the life expectancy for bull terriers, per the American Kennel Club, is between twelve and thirteen years, though I frequently hear of bull terriers passing around the age of ten).

That means we’ve enjoyed a lot of short walks and long naps.  She’s definitely my kind of girl.

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