My Declaration of Independence

Last Friday as I pulled up to work, I do what I do every day:  pick up my gaiter mask from the emergency brake and put it over my head.  As I did so, I experienced every ounce of everyday oppression that modern man endures.

Wearing a mask is, indeed, a small thing to ask, but it’s become the proverbial straw—and my face the camel’s back.

So I decided, then and there, to make an extremely small stand for my own independence.  In some limited scenarios, I am going to stop wearing my mask publicly.

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Victorious ACB

Last night the Senate confirmed the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, thus filling Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s vacant seat.  Conservative constitutionalist Justice Clarence Thomas swore in Barrett, a symbolic gesture of the new justice’s constitutionalist credentials.

It’s doubly significant that Barrett’s confirmation comes just a week before Election Day, which is next Tuesday, 3 November 2020.  Nothing speaks more powerfully to conservatives about the importance of the Trump presidency than the President’s three conservative appointments to the Court.

ACB seems to be the most conservative of Trump’s appointees yet, which is a major victory for the Right.  Replacing the arch-progressive RGB with a conservative Catholic mother of seven should energize even the logiest of Republican squishes to pull the lever for Trump next Tuesday.

Recapturing the Court from progressives has been a conservative fantasy since at least Roe v. Wade, and really even earlier.  It’s taken anywhere from fifty to eighty years for conservatives to hold a decisive majority on the Court—easily a lifetime of patient political campaigning and faithful prayer.

With Democrats threatening to pack the Courts if they win the presidency and Congress, conservatives can’t rest on our laurels just yet.  We’ve got to get Trump reelected next week—and Republicans to take back the House and retain the Senate.

For South Carolinians, we must vote for Lindsey Graham next week, too.  I know he has not always been the most reliable conservative, but the Kavanaugh confirmation process red-pilled him big time.  He’s also the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and is responsible for getting Barrett—and dozens upon dozens of federal and appellate judges—out of committee and to a floor vote.  We cannot afford to lose that conservative influence at this critical juncture.

Justice Thomas is getting on in his years; we need a reliable conservative to replace him.  But there are progressive justices also approaching their expiration dates.  Justice Stephen Breyer is 82.  Respectable retirement can’t be far off for him.  Replacing Breyer would truly cement a conservative majority for a lifetime.

For now, congratulations to Justice Amy Coney Barrett.  Do us proud!

The-Surpreme-Court

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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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Second Presidential Debate Review

Last night was the second and final presidential debate between President Trump and former Vice President Biden.  Overall, it was far more measured in tone and richer in substance than the first debate, and it accomplished what President Trump needed to do:  reassure squishy independents and critical undecided voters that he’s not just a loose cannon, but can actually govern, and govern well.

I also found the moderator to be surprisingly fair.  The questions obviously were slanted in favor of the Democrats, as these questions always are (again, who cares about climate change anymore?), but she gave President Trump the opportunity to respond to criticisms, and also had some tough questions for Biden.

President Trump did what he should have done in the first debate:  he gave Biden the rope with which to hang himself.  It was Biden who brought up China and Ukraine, which opened the door for Trump to attack Hunter Biden’s lucrative salaries from foreign companies and governments—the result of Biden’s influence peddling.

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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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The Land and Heritage

A major theme of this blog has been the restoration of rural America, and the promotion of the idea that the future of the United States rests in its rural areas and small towns.  I have often touted the affordability and the decency of the country as major selling points to those looking for a change of scenery.

So this piece at The Abbeville Insitute—Travis Holt’s “Thirty Pieces of Silver“—grabbed my attention.  Holt is a native son of the Ozarks in Arkansas, and he writes movingly about how his ancestors carved a livelihood out of the rough mountains of a challenging wilderness.  He details the sweat and toil that went into improving the land, and of gradually expanding small family plots.

Holt also describes a process all-too-familiar in the New South:  the commercialization of those hard-won family plots.  Holt does not denounce the sale of family lands in general, as he recognizes the economic hardships and the lure of better lives, but he does lament the sacrifice of heritage, history, and family to the whims of the market.  His essay grapples with the complexity of that loss, and his own determination to keep his familial lands.

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Monday Morning Movie Review: Archive (2020)

It’s Monday morning, which means it’s a good time to ease into the week with a movie review.  Readers may be concerned that my blog is turning into a movie review site, given the slew of recent movie-related posts.  Even Friday’s guest post was a movie review!

What can I say?  October seems to be prime movie-watching season, what with Halloween approaching and the general fun and merriment of the holiday.  It’s also getting coldalbeit gradually, and only in fits and spurts—which makes for prime film viewing conditions.  Toss in RedBox‘s generosity with coupons, and it’s a recipe for weekly movie reviews.

So it was that I came to pick up 2020’s Archive.  It’s a British sci-fi flick that follows a familiar Frankenstein plot:  a man’s obsession with restoring his deceased wife in the form of a hyper-advanced AI leads him down a dangerous road.

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Lazy Sunday LXXXVIII: The Mountains

It was another weekend on the road, which makes 2020 my most traveled year by far—one of the many weird paradoxes of The Age of The Virus.

Lately I’ve enjoyed a couple of weekend trips to the mountains of western North Carolina, and I’ve grown quite fond of them.  When I was a child, we would go to my great-grandmother’s house in the mountains of southwestern Virginia, and these trips to North Carolina have reminded me of those childhood visits.

So, seeing as I got back this afternoon from the latest trip, I thought I’d dedicate this Lazy Sunday to the mountains:

  • SubscribeStar Saturday: The Mountains” – This post detailed our explorations around Burnsville, North Carolina, during the weekend of my older brother’s fortieth birthday.  We tried to visit Mount Mitchell, but the park was closed that Sunday afternoon for some mysterious reason.  Otherwise, it was a wonderful trip!
  • More Mountain Musings” – This piece expanded further on the Burnsville trip.  I also reflect on the spirit of mountain folk, and their ability to subdue the wilds and carve a living from the hollers.
  • SubscribeStar Saturday: Bearwallow Mountain” – I wrote this post about a hike up Bearwallow Mountain, outside of Hendersonville, North Carolina.  It’s a beautiful hike up the mountain to a pastoral landscape.  I uploaded some beautiful photos with this post, which give a good sense of the scenery.

That’s it for now!  Time to get ready for another week of work.  But my mind is still up on Bearwallow Mountain.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

blue-ridge-mountains-in-fog

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Guest Contributor – photog – “The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms” – A Science Fiction Movie Review

Blogger photog and I decided to swap posts this Friday as a bit of cross-promotion for our sites.  photog is a multi-talented man—a writer, a photographer, and a reviewer—and he possesses a real knack for writing great movie reviews.

So when he asked me what he should write about, I proposed something related to science-fiction, a genre he knows well.  I was thrilled when he came up with a review of an Atomic Age gem, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, from 1953.  The film was apparently a major influence on the Godzilla films, and spawned a number of “creature features” in the 1950s.

You can read more of photog’s reviews, as well as his political writing, at www.orionscoldfire.com.  It’s worth checking out!

With that, here is photog’s review of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms:

This 1953 movie is the grandaddy of all the atomic monster movies.  The next year saw the appearance of “Them,” the giant atomic ants and Godzilla which really was a sort of knock off of the “Beast From 20,000 Fathoms.”  At least theoretically this movie is based on Ray Bradbury’s short story “Fog Horn.”  But other than the one scene where the Beast attacks a lighthouse there isn’t anything in the story that informs the plot of the movie.

So, this is the story of an arctic atom bomb test that predictably thaws out an amphibious dinosaur.  After killing one member of the military team via avalanche the beast heads south to re-enter his old stomping grounds in the Hudson River undersea canyon.  On the way it capsizes a couple of Canadian fishing ships, demolishes a Maine lighthouse and flattens a Bay Stater walking along the shore of Massachusetts.  Well, for that one you really can’t blame him.  I’m sure the guy had it coming.

And as these movies usually go, the military gets in touch with an academic expert on dinosaurs who is always an old man with a funny accent who always has a somewhat attractive young woman working as his assistant.  The military provides the old professor with access to a bathysphere and the scientist descends into the Atlantic Ocean adjacent to the Hudson River and is promptly eaten (or something) by the beast.

Now the protagonist (a French scientist who was somehow associated with the US Army’s arctic A-bomb test) rallies the military and leads the effort to destroy the monster as it rampages through lower Manhattan.  Early on it eats one of New York’s Finest in the person of a cop who attempts to take down the giant reptile with his service revolver.  Then the beast goes on a stroll down Broadway and crushes various cars and small buildings.  Finally, the Army moves in some bazookas and draws blood from the beast by blowing a hole in its neck.  But, wouldn’t you know it, its blood is full of virulent germs that have the soldiers keeling over after only minutes.

Fearing that explosives would start a plague the French guy proposes that a radioactive projectile be shot into the wound on the beast’s neck and thereby kill him without spreading his germs.  After swimming back into New York Harbor, the beast resurfaces at Manhattan Beach (which is in South Brooklyn) and the beast heads straight for Coney Island and begins destroying the Cyclone, the big rickety wooden roller coaster at the famous amusement park there.

The French guy and an army marksman don radiation suits and take a roller coaster ride to the top of the coaster’s highest hill in order to have a clear shot at the beast’s neck.  From that vantage point the marksman hits the bullseye and then they clamor down the side of the coaster before the beast’s death throes bury them in the rubble of the demolished ride.  Of course, the wooden ride bursts into flames proving just what a death trap it really is.  But by then the beast is dying and as we watch he breathes his last.  French guy and somewhat pretty paleontologist are now free to explore the romantic relationship that almost always await the survivors of atomic monster incidents.

This is one of my favorite old monster movies because New York is my old stomping grounds.  In fact, the beach in Brooklyn (Manhattan Beach) where the beast resurfaces was where I first met Camera Girl forty-five years ago.  So, we have that in common.  There weren’t a lot of famous actors in this movie but the special effects were handled by Ray Harryhausen and the sharpshooter was played by Lee Van Cleef of spaghetti western fame.  Now there isn’t any detectable acting going on except for the old professor played by veteran actor Cecil Kellaway.  But it combines the gung-ho attitude of all military movies before the Vietnam war era along with the silly mayhem expected when giant monsters are eating and stepping on people.  I highly recommend this silly romp but warn millennials that it was shot in black and white (the horror!).