Thursday, June 15, 2017

Plenty to Say Worth Hearing

I've been quoting and referencing Mark Steyn almost since this blog began. He's smart, insightful, eloquent, and nobody can turn a phrase quite like he does.

Mark Steyn is funny, he's fearless, and his commentary last night on Fox News with Tucker Carlson was "spot on," as he himself might say.  He has plenty to say worth hearing about our country's current sorry state. Treat yourself and watch all of the clips. Then add Steyn Online to your reading list. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter, too.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Summing Up the Day

"Once again it becomes obvious that if the good are not armed, the innocent will die."

~ Dennis Prager

Thursday, June 01, 2017

It Was 50 Years Ago Today...

I've got to admit it's getting better
A little better all the time
 ~ The Beatles

Today marks fifty years since The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album was released. In honor of this auspicious musical occasion, I've linked "50 Things You Probably Didn't Know" about it.

Diehard Beatle fans will probably know many of these factoids, but most were news to me. The Beatles were a pop cultural force of nature that I merely tolerated as a teenager, although over time I've been properly impressed by their impact on modern music. I wrote about them ten years ago, I'm writing about them today, and if I'm still here in another decade, I'll be marking the 60th anniversary of this landmark musical achievement colloquially referred to as simply "Sgt. Pepper."

In fact, The Beatles essentially invented what we today call "classic rock." What passed for "rock 'n' roll" in the early 1960s was the repetitive sound of a tired old genre circling the drain. The Beatles, with their creative innovations and their boundless talent--many would say genius-- changed all that. In their reverberating wake, rock music rebounded in so many directions and dimensions that it's still changing today.

Rock music more than "got by with a little help" from its friends, The Beatles. Happy 50th birthday, Sgt. Pepper. You indeed taught the band to play.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Dangerous Denial

 "Theresa May's statement in Downing Street is be "defiant, but what she is defying is not terrorism but reality." ~ Mark Steyn

As he has been doing for more than a decade, in "'Dangerous Woman' Meets Dangerous Man" Mark Steyn offers brutal wisdom paired with sharp wit regarding the war that radical Islamists are waging upon Western civilization. Anyone who cares about the threat we as a society face from Islamic terrorism should read Steyn's article.

World leaders' unwavering denial of what the radical Islamists are intent on achieving is nearly as frightening as the terrorist attacks themselves.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Spoiling a Classic

I finished watching the Netflix show Anne with an E. I liked it enormously--at first. It's a beautiful production, very well cast and beautifully filmed. As the episodes progressed, wading deeper into what Anne would have termed "the depths of despair," this heavy-handed perversion of the delightful classic Anne of Green Gables became too much for this Anne-fan to take.

Having read the classic L.M. Montgomery book (along with its many sequels) literally dozens of times, I've got a good handle on plot lines and characters. In fact, I have them memorized. I also have enough "scope for the imagination," to use an Anne-term, to enjoy embellishments on well-established events in the story. The depictions of her abuse while residing at earlier houses and the dreaded orphanage were new but interesting departures from the book. They offered a justifiable hook for her wildly vivid imagination and love of books--she was escaping her grim realities.

I also enjoyed the fleshing out of the Marilla Cuthbert/John Blythe romance so briefly alluded to in the books. That's taking the real story and running with it, and it worked.

Where the writer lost me was in the creation of completely new experiences entirely foreign to Anne's story, the Cuthberts, and the quaint town of Avonlea. **SPOILERS AHEAD** If you plan to watch the series, stop reading now.

Gilbert Blythe left an orphan? No, in the books John Blythe lived to see his grandchildren. If the writer had to linger on a tragedy, she should have focused on Ruby Gillis, who dies of consumption in the third book. Go ahead and move her demise to an earlier age. True fans wouldn't mind that credible adjustment.

But the ludicrous additions made up of whole cloth were totally off the grid. Marilla Cuthbert attending a progressive parenting meeting? Really? Um, don't think so. Anne treated like trash by almost all of the locals? In the book, the plot is quite to the contrary. We're talking 1908 genteel, rural Canada here, not exactly 2017 Facebook bully territory.  On the subject of 2017, of course Aunt Josephine Barry now needs to be a lesbian. OK, fine, maybe that's "realistic." But even if Miss Barry had been gay, she wouldn't be casually discussing it one-on-one with Anne--not in Avonlea over 100 years ago.

Anne being snippy and jealous towards Green Gables' young hired hand? Didn't happen, and it's a mortal sin against Anne's character to say it did. Anne Shirley was always positive, upbeat, borderline joyful--never mean-spirited or petty. That's why readers have loved her for over a century.

Speaking of distorting character--Matthew Cuthbert trying to commit suicide? Gentle writer, are you out of your mind? And tossing in a romance for him is ridiculous if you understand anything at all about this unique and cherished character. He was shy, silent, gentle, salt-of-the-earth good people, fully dedicated to his home and his land. He did not survive his heart attack near the end of the first book. To have him lingering on in weakness, self-pity and depression is a gratuitous desecration of the story and an intolerable betrayal of the beloved Matthew Cuthbert. The final episode, in its complete digression from the actual story line, left me totally disgusted. (Of course, one must remember that the writer also wrote Breaking Bad. I suppose I should be grateful that the last scene didn't show Anne cooking up crack in the Green Gables kitchen in order to save the farm.)

But going back to Matthew Cuthbert trying to kill himself, that was a bridge way too far for this Anne-fan. As a young reader, I loved his character so much that I saved up the name "Matthew" for my son. You just don't mess with my Matthew. If there is a renewal, I'll be skipping Season 2.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Headlines That Weren't...

If the mainstream dinosaur media were overwhelmingly conservative instead of almost unanimously liberal, we might have seen continuous news stories underscoring the many blown-off scandals of the Obama years.

Use your imagination and apply today's newsroom hysteria to some of the disasters of the past eight years; you'll be startled at how easily the damning headlines write themselves:
  • "ISIS Rising After Obama Turns Tail and Runs, Pulling All Troops from the Mideast"
  • "IRS Persecutes the Politically Incorrect: An Assault on the First Amendment"
I could go on (for many pages), but you get the idea. Try some of your own headlines, just for fun. There are so many topics to choose from--Benghazi, executive orders, apologies for terrible America, refusal to say "radical Islamic terrorists" are just a few more.

I'm not saying I like what's going on in today's political news. I don't. But the previous president got all kinds of passes from a complicit media when he should have been called out and reported upon honestly. The country deserved better. We deserve better today, too.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Five One-Minute Film Reviews

Over the past month, I've been catching up on movies. As is usually the case, there were surprises good and bad. I'll start with the most disappointing and end with the best of the batch:

1. Fences
Denzel Washington is my favorite actor; that hasn't changed. My personal policy is to see every film he makes. That has not changed, either. With the critical acclaim surrounding "Fences," and the clips I had glimpsed, I couldn't wait to watch the movie.

It was a bit of a let-down. Obviously at first a stage play, the script was so dialog-laden that I felt a vague headache stirring about fifteen minutes in. The movie was too long, the characters too long-winded, and Washington's character was less than likeable, to put it mildly. I suffered through it, but I'll never watch it again. Instead, I'll await the next Denzel Washington movie.

2. Manchester by the Sea
First of all, Casey Affleck deserved his Academy Award. His portrayal of a man broken by bad choices and life's cruelty is superb. But, come on--is being depressed for two hours really how you want to spend movie night? Add this one, also, to my list of Never See Again Movies. It was like watching an individualized version of Schindler's List (another movie I'll never see again). Too relentlessly sad to be worthy of my time.

3. Patriots Day
Things are starting to look up, movie fans. Although we all know the terrible true story of the Boston Marathon bombing, the film managed to build suspense and hold my attention throughout. Mark Wahlberg, another of my favorite actors, gives an outstanding portrayal of a Boston cop in the thick of the drama. I'd watch this one again.

4. Kong: Skull Island
A friend chose this movie from the theater marquee as her birthday treat, so I went in with absolutely no expectations beyond two hours of boredom and misery. What a pleasant surprise instead to watch a film with an original twist on a very old plot, a rocking soundtrack from the 60s and 70s, a quality cast with performances to match, and stunning special effects beyond compare. I liked how the director incorporated so many elements of the original King Kong film, giving them a modern spin. Definitely a go-see.

5. Beauty and the Beast
Disney is never junk, and this movie is one of its better offerings in recent years. The plot closely follows the animated film from the 90s, the actors (including voice-overs) do a great job, the special effects are captivating, and the "tale as old as time" holds up beautifully. I was waiting to see what the much-hyped "gay moments' would entail. As I suspected, they were only mildly suggestive and will fly over a young child's head. Now can we all just agree that "gay is good" and move on with our lives? I'm weary of having sexual orientation shoved in my face at every entertainment turn. Other than that, this is an exquisite production that will be a classic favorite for years to come.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Incoming Roar - Mark Steyn

"The Incoming Roar" by Mark Steyn is an important article, quite sobering reading because it is so bluntly accurate. I don't know what it will take for Western civilization (such as it is) to wake up to the ominous reality we are facing.