Scott Miller’s Appalachian Christmas – A Country Music Review

Christmas Music in the Middle of February?  I know, what’s up with that?  So, I’m a slacker, so sue me.

Anyway this is an album of well known and not so well known Christmas songs.  It’s completely instrumental.  Lots of fiddle and mandolin.  I’ve actually been listening to it since before Christmas and even though it seems odd, it fits the dark winter nights very well.  Highly recommended.

Antepenultimate Christmas Day 2017

The day before the day before Christmas this year is turning out to be climatically challenging but not without its charms.  To start off there is an ongoing freezing rain falling.  What this means is that a deadly coating of ice is accumulating on the roads and driveways of New England generating the dreaded “black ice” that all Yankees fear and also use as an excuse for “working from home.”  Luckily, I have the day off.  As a matter of fact, I’m into the second day of a vacation that lasts until January Second.  So, even though I will have to address the ice problem sooner than I’d like, my current outlook and world view is serene.  The waves of laziness and the glow of indolence are soothing my soul and generating a “Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men” vibe that surprises even me.  Now, don’t get me wrong, “Men” is a poetical rendering for “Men of Good Will” which excludes democrats, deviants and malefactors in general.  But it still encompasses a great many people that annoy me most of the time.  So today is the beginning of that great period of the year when I have almost no homicidal rage and I truly feel that most people aren’t irredeemably evil.  Falalalala … lalalala.

And going along with this general benevolence I feel I must mingle, commune and otherwise hob-nob with my fellow wizards here at OCF.  I feel that anyone who can read my rambling nonsense and still come back for more is in some way a kindred spirit and must be encouraged to return and possibly shout back across the ether.  So, here’s a loud and heartfelt Merry Christmas to all of the folks out there and a Happy New Year too.  Feel free to leave a return greeting in the comments.

All indications are for a better year ahead and better days to come.  Even the imbeciles in Congress were able to get out of their own way and pass a reasonably helpful tax bill.  Anyway, I should have time over the course of this week (between family get togethers and other festivities) to publish at least a few posts.  With all the events and activity going on in Washington it should be easy for me to gin up some outrage and elevate my blood pressure sufficiently to produce something apoplectic and apocalyptic enough to match my usual output.  I’ve been perplexed with how the Mueller investigation is interacting with the Trump Administration.  I can’t figure if the President is naïve or cornered or biding his time.  But without a doubt 2018 will be another year of high political drama.  And #metoo will continue to provide incredible comedy value for your money.  So, stay tuned but don’t forget to leave time for pumpkin pie, roast beast and hanging out with family.  Ho, Ho, Ho.

How to Have a Merry Christmas And Drive Leftists Nuts

 

Merry Christmas to all you folks reading this out there.  It is at this time of the rolling year that leftists suffer most from Hadephobia (the fear of going to hell) and do all within their power to discredit religion and especially Christmas.  You see, they rationalize in their hearts that if everyone else is going to hell with them then it won’t be as bad.  Maybe they figure they can convince Satan to put them in charge of handing out the torture.  After all he seems like their sort of guy.

So, it’s up to us to neutralize their efforts and make them the ones who feel discredited and dispirited.  And since making lists is part of the nature of Christmas, let’s make one to help focus the effort:

  1. Tell all your least favorite leftists that your best Christmas present this year was Al Franken resigning from the senate but that John Conyers was a close second.
  2. Make sure you publicly greet every non-left-wing individual with a loud and joyful “Merry Christmas!” and pointedly ignore the Christmas haters. And give a joyous Happy Hanukah to any Jewish friends of faith.  But for goodness sake don’t be cowed into saying Season’s Greetings.  That’s one step away from being forced to say “Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.”
  3. Make every effort to take time off around Christmas Eve and Day to spend with your family and friends. Let the atheists work on Christmas.  Why should they care?
  4. Make sure that you actually participate in the activities. Help with the decorating.  Go with the kids and get the tree.  Put up the lights.
  5. Get involved in the dinner menu selection. Demand all the things you’re not allowed during the rest of the year because they’re bad for you.  If your wife is cooking the turkey, then by all means go pick it up at the butcher’s or supermarket.  Make sure you make a pest of yourself in the kitchen and if possible sample some of the food ahead of time.  How could she mind that?  And for goodness sake make a big fuss about how good the food tastes.  Don’t be a dope.
  6. During your holiday time with your family, shut out the whole evil quagmire that is modern leftist society. Plan to provide entertainment that avoids all the poisonous nonsense that even Disney now bakes into their products.  Here’s where you get a chance to show your originality and good taste.  Put together a pile of movies and tv shows that past the smell test.  Think old stuff.  Don’t be afraid of black and white.  Find all the music that you want to associate with a Christmas celebration.  There’s plenty out there if you look.  With a little effort you can provide enough entertainment to preclude any danger of Kathy Griffin, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Anderson Cooper or Snoop Dog taking part in your Holiday viewing and listening.
  7. And come up with activities that don’t involve electronic devices. If you or your family are musical, play some songs and if you can carry a tune sing along.  Charades, card games, Yahtzee, board games and trivial pursuit are all easy things to get going.  And with the really small kids, get down on the floor and play with all those toy trucks and space ships they just got from Santa.  It’ll do you good.  Put together a penny ante poker game with the male relatives (sure the girls can play too).  Here’s a really crazy thought.  Tell the kids some stories from the old days.  Great grandma would love to break out some stories from the Great Depression and you probably have some characters in your family that are more than worthy of a story to tell the grandkids.  So, there’s plenty to do without artificial intelligence.  You’d be surprised how much fun it is shutting off the tv and doing something yourselves.
  8. Give away lots of little presents to the kids. All the kids. Kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews, friends’ kids, neighbors’ kids.  Nothing like bribing the kids to get them listening to you about important things.
  9. If you have some days off, plan some interesting seasonal activity. Go see a production of A Christmas Carol.  Go to a sporting event (not the NFL).  Go sledding with the kids (if you have snow).  Or just take a drive somewhere.
  10. Give gifts to our side. Support the military charities, religious charities and traditional cultural organizations.  But do your homework.  Many churches, charities and organizations have been infiltrated and converted to leftist zombie versions of their original selves.  Don’t give these a penny.
  11. Take some time at the end of the holiday to make plans for the new year. Discuss your goals and those of your family separately and together.  New Years resolutions actually have a purpose.
  12. Spend some time in prayer. A Christian is supposed to spend some time talking to God.  The time around Christmas is the perfect time to do it.  And even if you are agnostic it’s a very useful time to reflect on the world and what it means to be a human being in it.

So, there you go, twelve suggestions on how to recapture some of the special quality of the Twelve Days of Christmas.  Now try to come up with a list of your own.  Bet some of mine will end up on it.

2017: The Dawn of the Age of the Deplorables

As I noted in my previous post, I spent a very nice week and a half relaxing and enjoying the Christmas holiday.  As part of that I read an awful lot of right wing and sort of right wing commentary.  And it occurred to me that things are definitely looking up on our side of the blogosphere.  Christmas Eve I watched the beginning of this five hour (!) set of interviews.

 

 

The host Stefan Molyneux has a series of videos where he interviews people about politics, philosophy, religion and life.  Ostensibly this series of interviews are about Christmas.  But that’s a jumping off point in some cases to discuss the year just passed and the new year coming up.  If you are not familiar with most of these people then I’ll say that they are spread across a continuum of ideologies starting on the left at about what used to pass for a liberal (but now would be too mild for the left today) all the way to some pretty hard core alt-right types.  Happily, for me, none of them here have joined the goose-stepping lunatics that abut this political neighborhood a little too closely for comfort.  But they are all unapologetic in their scorn for social justice warriors, America-haters and other lefty lunatic types that reflexively attack all things normal and good.  Some of them are not Trump fans, others came around by the end and some were predicting his win a year, ago.  But all of them are part of the new media.  They have cast their lot with the new way of reaching the people.  They run their own businesses and have their own audiences and get paid for telling a side of the story that the main stream media doesn’t tell.  They are more interesting and more relevant than most of what Fox provides and a thousand times better than the nonsense on CNN, ABC, NBC or CBS.  It’s very hard to predict if any of these folks will survive the brutal competition that exists in the media environment today.  I hope they do.  They inject humor and wit and points of view that aren’t permitted to exist on the network shows.  And interestingly they seem to be plugged into some of the trends that everyone else missed this year.  If that fact indicates a better grasp on what really will be happening in the near future, then maybe they’ll thrive.  I recommend that if you’re interested in what different voices are saying about our changing world then look around and see what’s going on.  You may be pleasantly surprised.  After all these are the deplorables that that Hillary warned us about and you remember how well that worked out for her!

The First Urban Fantasy:  A Christmas Carol

Merry Christmas to all from the management of Orion’s Cold Fire.  Now the title of this post is admittedly a stretch.  But it is a ghost story and it does take place in an urban center.  I guess it would be adding insult to injury to claim steampunk status too, so I won’t.  I gladly confess I’m a huge fan of this tale.  I first remember running into it as a boy when my older cousin played Mr. Fezziwig in a grammar school production.  I don’t remember much about that production other than the fact that Fezziwig was actually wearing a gray wig.  Since then I’ve read the short book and attended several professional and amateur stage productions.  But the most substantial proportion of my involvement with this story is the hundreds of viewings of the various film versions that have been made over the decades.  Discounting such travesties as the episode made as part of the old television series “The Odd Couple” and the one starring the cartoon character Mr. Magoo, I have watched at least seven separate films.

 

Among the few versions that I still watch, the oddest one is the musical from 1970 starring Albert Finney.  With Alec Guinness as Jacob Marley it includes a scene of Scrooge being installed in Hell by his long dead partner.  I’m not particularly fond of musicals and Finney hasn’t really got a singing voice so there any number of painful moments in this film but the comical aspect of Scrooge is highlighted and allows this version to serve when children are present and might otherwise become bored.

 

Until recently I was of the opinion that the best version was the 1951 edition starring Alistair Sim.  It had a good British cast and possessed a script that amplified the meager details of the novel with some dramatic details of the back story between Scrooge and his sister on her death bed.  It also fills out the history of Scrooge as a businessman and shows us some details of Marley’s death.  It remains in my reckoning a very good film.

 

But as with all other things in life, age alters our opinions and our point of view even about Dickens’ masterpiece.  Of late, I have come to favor the 1984 television version starring George C. Scott.  The balance of the cast is British with Scott the only American.  The script is relatively close to the novel although there are a few touches having to do with Scrooge’s nephew and wife that are innovative.  But in several aspects I find this later version to be the best.  First is the character of Marley.  The actor portraying this ghost is the best of any that have acted the role.  The feeling and meaning he puts into his lines is perfect for that part.  Next is the child playing Tiny Tim.  He is without a doubt the most diminutive and fragile looking child imaginable.  He enhances the reality of what we know is Tiny Tim’s probable fate.  And finally, there is Scott’s part.  He is a powerful man who displays his ruthlessness openly.  George C. Scott was a very good actor and it shows.  He interacts with the spirits as an equal.  He defends his point of view as you might imagine a rational egoist would.  You feel his gradual awakening to the error of his world view as a visceral experience and not just a logical progression.  He captures the transformation that Dickens was portraying.  It’s well done.

 

So, now why do I enjoy this story?  I believe that Dickens’ story captures some essential truth about what it means to be human.  He is trying to show us that in order to save ourselves we have to save those around us.  And not through some social construct (“are there no prisons, are there no workhouses”), but by touching the lives of those around us and lending a hand to the weak.  As a right wing fanatic this is an important lesson to remember.  If you object to the idea of the socialist state then you must instead reach out to the people around you and make things better yourself.

 

So for me this story is a cautionary tale.  Don’t forget that the people out there are real and they are someone’s children.  And they can hurt.  Watch out for them.

 

I’ll end this on a happy note.  As Tiny Tim said, “God bless us, every one.”

Giving Thanks for a Short Respite – Part II

Giving Thanks for a Short Respite – Part 1

Here we are almost a month after part one of this thread and the warm glow from the election has not dissipated.  If anything, it has increased.  Donald Trump has surprised almost all of the critics (other than the democrat hacks who if even Einstein were the republican candidate would deny he was smart enough to count on his fingers).  His cabinet selections have been good, very good.  Personally, my favorite is the pick for EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt.  Pruitt is the Oklahoma attorney general and he has been involved in stopping the EPA from imposing CO2 restrictions on the energy industry.  This sort of clear and direct approach to reversing the outrages of the Obama administration, I think, bodes very well for Trump’s success.  In addition, the extreme panic and indignation on exhibit over this particular selection is both amusing and instructive.  These folks realize that they are not dealing with the hapless Bushes or some equally ineffective mainstream republican.  We’re gonna get to move the chains in a big way.

So, I kept my promise and I did not speak about the election or politics with my friends or relatives of the other persuasion at Thanksgiving.  I intend to maintain this policy through to the New Year and possibly beyond.  The idea of separating friends and families from political debate was sound.  No good or gain would come of it.  Anyway, it would be overkill.  I’m so saturated with schadenfreude through reading and watching reports of the progressives’ fury and panic that I’m almost poisoned with it.  So, I’m done with it.

The time is better spent enjoying the holidays.  There are books and movies to read and see.  There are grandsons, nephews and nieces to regale with tall tales and bribe with presents.  There will be mountains of splendiferous food; lobster, lamb, turkey, ham, lasagna, sausage and bean soup, eggplant parmigiana and breads, rice and potato dishes enough to feed a small village.  After that we’ll eat desserts until diabetic shock sets in.  Pies; apple, blueberry, strawberry rhubarb, coconut custard, sweet potato, Boston crème and three kinds of pumpkin.  Pastries; sfogliatelle, lobster tails, tiramisu and several kinds of cannoli.  And we’ll drink gallons of coffee.  And for those who indulge, there’ll be enough wine and booze to float a boat.

So, looking ahead to the Inauguration and the First 100 Days what should we expect?  I think the question that needs to be answered is whether Senator McConnell has the stomach to go nuclear to get the cabinet and supreme court appointments confirmed.  Recently he’s showed some backbone but it’s too soon to say.  Luckily, McConnell is about to find out that pressure can come from both sides of the divide.  I don’t doubt that Trump will use the bully pulpit and public opinion to get what he needs.  After that I’m assuming we’ll see a bunch of Obama executive actions rescinded and new ones put in place.  Also, I think we’ll hear what will be replacing Obamacare and how the immigration measures will be initiated.  Eventually I hope to see how Trump plans to increase employment.  Changes to the corporate tax code to encourage increases to domestic employment would be the best way.

So, here’s to everybody’s holidays.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  Enjoy yourself and save your energy for 2017 and the fireworks to come.