SubscribeStar Saturday: Christmas Break Travels, Part III: The Shirt in Prescott

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On our way back from visiting the Grand Canyon, my brother and I stopped in Prescott, Arizona.  Despite it’s spelling, “Prescott” is pronounced almost like “press kit.”  For my Central Savannah River Area readers, it’s akin to Martinez, Georgia, which is not pronounced like a Mexican’s surname, but as “Martin-ez.”

Anyway, Prescott is an Old West town—it used to be the territorial capital of Arizona, from 1864-1867—that has now turned into something like a yuppie outdoor shopping mall.  That sounds facetious, yes, but it’s actually a pretty cool little town.  The entire town square was bedecked in Christmas lights, and as it was unseasonably cold for Arizona in late December, it actually felt like Christmas in a cowboy town.

Prescott really plays up its heritage as a bustling town of the Old West:  Western wear stores line the main shopping area, and bars and restaurants play up the legendary Western folk heroes and villains who frequented the establishments (or the spots where those establishments now stand).

It was in one of those Western wear stores that I came face to face with sartorial destiny.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Christmas Break Travels, Part II: Grand Canyon

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As our plane took off from Indianapolis in dead silence—everyone was quiet, and the only sound was that of the jets roaring—my older brother loudly exclaimed, “my wallet!,” which elicited some stifled chuckles from yours portly, and I think I heard one other person react. Otherwise, no one bit on his hilarious joke about leaving his wallet in the airport.

After a very brief layover in Detroit, which saw us running to the next gate for our flight to Phoenix, we enjoyed a quiet flight to Phoenix. I’ve grown accustomed to airlines abusing passengers, but Delta is a great airline and my older brother has achieved a status where he gets some actual respect from the flight crew, so it was a welcome change. The snacks and soft drinks flowed freely, and I discovered that the chess app in the Delta entertainment console is impossible to beat, even on “Easy” mode—something that people who are actually good at chess have discussed at length online.

We landed in Phoenix and made it to the rental car area, where we managed to score a sweet Kia Niro, a car so laden with technology, it was difficult to figure out how to turn on the heat. Yes, despite being in Arizona, it was unseasonably cold, with temperatures comparable to those in South Carolina at the time (we arrived the evening of Monday, 19 December 2022).

Our AirBnB was a cool little duplex in downtown Phoenix, decorated in the Southwestern style. It sported an impressive fireplace, though we didn’t mess with it. The interior reminded me of smaller homes built in the 1920s, although I don’t know how old this home was. It had a cute (if tight) breakfast nook, where my brother and I were able to get some writing done during our stay, and a good, powerful shower. The host left us some coffee from a local roaster, which we tore through in a couple of days.

One of our major goals for the week was to visit Grand Canyon National Park. I’ve always wanted to see Grand Canyon, and this trip was the perfect opportunity to do so. We decided to knock out the visit—which took the entire day, as it’s roughly four hours to the north of Phoenix—on Tuesday, 20 December 2022, our first full day in Arizona.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Christmas Break Travels, Part I

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One of the perks—as I often point out—of teaching is all of the glorious break time that we get. Other than summer vacation, my favorite time break of the year is the two weeks we get at Christmas.

Sure, it’s nowhere near as decadent as the full month that college professors and students get off, but it’s just the right amount of time to unwind and refresh—and to get in some travel.

My older brother, a well-traveled college professor residing in Indianapolis, flies so frequently that he’s ascended to one of the lower tiers of godhood in the Delta Airlines rewards pantheon. One of the divine gifts his apotheosis bestows is a free companion ticket each year.

Unfortunately, the ticket was due to expire, and his hardworking attorney wife could not take time to travel anywhere with him before it expired. As such, we concocted a trip to the American Southwest for the week before Christmas.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Yulestravaganza 2022 Review

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It’s Christmas Eve, the most mystical and magical night of the year.  Last Saturday was the annual Yulestravaganza, the most bonkers night of the year.

The Yulestravaganza, for those wondering, is not a consonant-ridden Welsh holiday.  It’s the little Christmas show my buddies John and Steve O and I put on each December.

Well, not quite each December.  During the long years of The Age of The Virus, the Yulestravaganza was a no-go, and we have been unable to get it together in other years due to scheduling conflicts.

But we managed to slap it together this year—very nearly at the last minute—and had a grand old time.

The Yulestravaganza is a “songwriter-in-the-round” format.  Each of us plays a solo selection (usually with one or both of the others hopping in here and there for harmonies or additional accompaniment), then we play a group selection.  Rinse and repeat until the gig is done.

It’s a very fun, very loose way of putting together a show.  We don’t have a set list, just a mental or jotted list of songs we’d like to get in before the evening ends.

So, how did the Yulestravaganza 2022 go?

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Delayed SubscribeStar Saturday Delivered!: Christmas Concert 2022 Review

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I never got around to writing about the annual school Christmas Concert last Saturday, so subscribers are getting a double dose of SubscribeStar Saturday today.  Despite this past week being exam week—historically full of free time—I was quite busy with a number of things related to closing out a semester of school.  Some Town Council things came up, too, so it was a fairly productive week.

All excuses aside, I’m finally getting around to it.

The short version is as follows:  it was amazing.  The kids performed extremely well.  Some of them gave what I would consider to be career-best performances.  There’s something magical about the stress and excitement and anticipation that bring out the best in students.

It wasn’t without glitches, but those small bits aside, it was fantastic.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Analyzing Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

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One of my shameful holiday pleasures is the cloying, condescending, tone-deaf “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by British New Wave super group Band Aid.  At least, that’s how the tune would be described if it were written today.

At the time, it was a progressive project:  the Ethiopian Civil War and related famine inspired the songwriters, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, to write a song to raise funds for the people there.  That’s actually quite noble, and it’s an enjoyable and fun song.

It also spawned millions of pounds in sells and royalties to help Africans, and sparked the United States to respond with “We Are the World” in 1985 (and, later, a heavy metal variant).

I’m not sure how it was received upon its release in 1984, but many of the lyrics are unintentionally hilarious.  Today the very same progressives who can’t wait to sign on to the latest cringe, woke charity project would call these lyrics Eurocentric or anti-African

My favorite line is “And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime.”  Never mind Mount Kilimanjaro, which stays capped in snow year-round.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Christmas Mayhem

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It’s Christmastime, which means a mad dash of yuletide craziness for yours portly, followed by a stately glide into New Year’s.  Right now I’m riding the wave of insanity, hoping I don’t wipe out along the way to the crest.

Years ago, I worked for a municipal performing arts center as the Cultural Coordinator—a cool title for a stressful job.  The venue was a beautiful opera house of the kind that graced many mid-sized Southern towns in the late nineteenth century.  We did not host an opera company (as far as I can recall, not a single note of opera was performed in the venue while I was there), so the name is a bit of a misnomer, but we did feature a number of different performances, both those we booked ourselves through the city, and those put on by enterprising residents who rented out our facilities.

The month of December was brutal.  In addition to our own events, we were also slammed with rentals.  Friday and Saturday nights saw me splitting my time between an outdoor musical event and whoever happened to be in the opera house that weekend.  One Christmas, I was so stressed out I starting losing weight without even realizing it, leading to my 2011 weight loss odyssey.

Unfortunately, I was so busy and stressed, I started loathing Christmas—a holiday I love!

Fortunately, while I’m still pretty busy at the holidays, I no longer dread their approach.  That said, I have had quite a week, and have another major one ahead of me.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Considering Secession

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It seems as though I post about “the s-word”—secession—about once a year (2019, 2020, 2021), and always on Saturdays (two of those posts are behind paywalls for a reason; it’s amazing how charging a buck for something on the Internet is the best way to ensure no one ever sees it).

The recent, abysmal midterm elections got me thinking about the topic again, but what really got the juices flowing was this map my brother forwarded to me:

Secession Sentiment

The map comes from this post at Bright Line Watch, an organization that—so far as I can tell—gauges how the health of “our democracy,” to use the parlance the Left loves so well (it’s pedantic to point out, but we’re a constitutionally-limited federal representative republic with democratic mechanisms—at least, we used to be—not a democracy).  Like most such outfits, I suspect they are institutionally Leftist, but in this case, I don’t think ideology infects their numbers.

Note that 66% of Republicans in the South support secession into a new regional union, spanning from Texas to Virginia (I’d say let’s stop at the border between South and North Carolina, but that’s just me), as do 50% of Independents.  Only 20% of Democrats do, but that makes sense—they’d probably not much like being in a Southern Union dominated by conservatives.

I do think it’s a tad far-fetched to think that 66% of Southern Republicans pine for secession.  Most Republicans I know are still flag-waving Boomer types who worship Abraham Lincoln (what I was until just a few years ago).

Still, (allegedly) 44% of Southerners supporting the idea of breaking out into a thirteen-State union (the old Confederate States of America, plus Oklahoma and Kentucky) is ridiculously high.  It only takes a dedicated minority of 20% to shape policy and push change at a societal level (thus the concepts of the “Silent Majority” versus the “Noisy Minority”), so 44% is more than double that threshold.

Does it mean anything?  Is America headed for The Civil War II?

Disclaimer: I do not want or advocate for a violent revolution; I am merely exploring an issue of growing interest in our fractured political times.  The restoration of true federalism is the preferable answer, but barring that, a peaceful separation of the States could—not necessarily is—another possible outcome that prevents widespread violence and continued tyranny at the national level.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Floozies

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Ah, women.  Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

Literally—without women, the human race would cease to exist.  That many of them are shirking their God-given gift to do so—and a disturbing chunk of those want the Molochian freedom to slaughter their own children—does not bode well for the future of humanity, at least not in the West.

Modern women have bought into a narrative that the path to true fulfilment lies in eschewing marriage and motherhood in favor of a career in graphic design.  Rather than tending to their man and their children, they’ve been duped into thinking it is somehow better to keep some strange man’s calendar, or to dedicate their most (re)productive years to maintaining the social media accounts for some megacorporation.

Of course, men—who perhaps shortsightedly permitted such rights to be extended to the fairer sex—bear all the blame for when things go awry.  There are “no good men” left, meaning something equivalent to “there are no men earning six-figure salaries who are willing to wife me up after spending my twenties riding the carousel of one-night stands and non-committal flings.”  Some men take advantage of this sexually-liberated situation to bed unsuspecting floozies, but many of those same women believe they’re “living their best life” by engaging in multiple sexual liaisons with strange, predatory men.

But expecting women to recognize their folly and to restore themselves and our culture is unreasonable.  As Jack Nicholson’s character said in 1997’s As Good as It Gets, when asked how he writes women so well:  “I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability.”

In that same film, however, the same character tells former babe Helen Hunt “You make me want to be a better man.”  Do modern day floozies still inspire that drive to improve, to build, to conquer?  Forget Helen Hunt; are there are any Helens of Troy out there?

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