The Last Shot of the 2018 Senate Battle

The Republicans staggered out of the 2018 Senate Mid-Terms with a final tally of 53 seats to the Democrats 47.  They’ve netted two seats but lost Arizona and Nevada through poor decisions and poor messaging.  The good news is that 53 seats means Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, those two northern RINO dames won’t have a veto over who gets into the Supreme Court and the President’s Cabinet.  Hallelujah.  The bad news is that 53 is the best they could do in the best Senate election the Republicans are likely to get in a long time.

But I’m a glass half-full kinda guy so let’s call this one a definite win.  We can look forward to a potential one or two more Supreme Court appointments and just as importantly, a competent Attorney General and FBI Director.  And that’s just in time.  With Manafort reneging on his Mueller plea-bargain and details of Manafort’s apparent role in providing the Trump administration intel on Mueller, it looks like that pot is about to boil over.  So this Senate gain is important but just one more step in the never-ending war.  In the immortal words of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, “Welcome Back, My Friends, to the Show That Never Ends.”

Is Twitter Getting the Jitters?

Jesse Kelly is a contributor to The Federalist.  He has been very critical of the way social media sites have been silencing conservatives.  So, it probably wasn’t shocking when Twitter permanently shut down his account.  Apparently, something made them change their minds and reinstate him.

The incoming freshman senator for Missouri has said he wants Twitter investigated for the way they single out conservatives for silencing without any explanation or recourse.  And a senate committee is interested in doing just that.  Could this be why Kelly was reinstated?  Too soon to tell but if other conservatives also get reinstated it’ll be a trend that bears watching.  Maybe President Trump is starting to worry Silicon Valley and that would suit me to a tee.

The March of the Wooden Soldiers – An OCF Classic Movie Review

I guess this qualifies as a fantasy too but to me it’s a holiday classic, thus the title.  Every year during my childhood at Thanksgiving time WPIX (Channel11 in NYC) would show “The March of the Wooden Soldiers.”  And even back then it was obvious that the movie was a throwback to an older time.  What passed for costumes and “special effects” in this film would outrage even a toddler from today.  The action was often interrupted while the romantic leads would burst into an operatic rendition of some fairly soporific song.  Some of this is explained by the fact that the film was a reworking of a musical light opera that was staged under the name “Babes in Toyland.”  And in fact, all of the movie’s shortcomings were even the subject of mockery on an episode of the Simpsons.

But none of this is at all important because of two extenuating circumstances, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, or as their characters are named Stanny Dum and Ollie Dee.  Laurel and Hardy are the show.  These two clowns keep the audience from wandering away, at least until the Wooden Soldiers are unleashed.  Stan and Ollie move from one failure to the next, at every step, irritating every mean or impatient character they meet with their fumble-fingered efforts and their simple-minded attempts at cleverness.  As I said, until the climax of the movie, they are the show.

The plot, such as it is, involves Stan and Ollie trying to prevent the evil miser Barnaby from evicting the Little Old Lady that Lives in the Shoe.  One of her children is Little Bo Peep who is in love with Tom-Tom the Piper’s Son.  After Stan and Ollie are foiled in attempting to steal the mortgage from Barnaby and are sentenced to be banished to Bogeyland (a place outside of Toyland where the savage Bogeymen live) Bo Peep agrees to marry Barnaby in exchange for forgiving the mortgage and releasing Stan and Ollie.  This leads to further tomfoolery by Stan and Ollie.  When Barnaby is defeated again in his desire to marry Bo Peep he conspires against Tom-Tom and gets him banished to Bogeyland.  After the banishment, evidence is discovered by Stan and Ollie that exonerates Tom-Tom and proves Barnaby’s guilt.  At this point Barnaby flees to Bogeyland to take command of the Bogeymen and lead them against Toyland.

The inhabitants of Toyland, being feeble nursery rhyme characters are helpless (mostly) against the savage Bogeymen.  And all seems lost until suddenly Stanny Dum realizes that an earlier blunder of his would now be Toyland’s salvation.  Working for the Toymaster he misunderstood Santa Claus’s order to make six hundred wooden soldiers one foot tall and instead made one hundred wooden soldiers six feet tall.  Stan and Ollie activate the army and the soldiers get right to work and rout the bogeyman in stirring fashion, all to the accompaniment of the music that gives the movie its name, The March of the Wooden Soldiers.

I have to confess that even at my advanced age I always feel a thrill of excitement as the Wooden Soldiers assemble and march to the beat of the song and provide in their mechanical and disciplined way the just desserts that Barnaby and the savage Bogeymen so richly deserve.  And right up until the very last frame Stan and Ollie are right there snatching personal defeat right out of the jaws of victory.

This movie is a museum piece with a hackneyed plot, obtrusive and boring songs and awful special effects.  But Laurel and Hardy are worth the price of admission, namely your time.  They are worthy buffoons who exaggerate our own foolishness.  And for the little boy in every man, the Wooden Soldier battle is a stirring pantomime that actual little boys will enjoy.  Highly recommended for the child in all of us.

Rodents of Unusual Size and the De-Swampification of My Puddle

I inhabit an area that is adjacent to a wetland that can vary from a pond to a bog.  In the last few days an unseasonably heavy pre-Thanksgiving snowfall was melted off by substantial rainfall.  When this happened I could hear the stream that feeds the puddle flowing pretty heavily and I noticed the level of the puddle was rising pretty significantly.  Well, what of it?  Winter is coming and that will put a stop to most of the flow.

pond shot with Sony A7 III and Minolta 200mm f\4 macro lens

After that the puddle will solidify and stop being a concern until Spring.  But Camera girl has the vision of a hawk or eagle or something.  And she saw something interesting.

crop of beaver in pond shot with Sony A7 III and Minolta 200mm f\4 macro lens

Now I wish I had bought that Sigma 600mm zoom.  I assume soon my basement will be underwater and the beaver will be cohabiting with us and borrowing my stuff.  There’s never an end to the indignities of living in New England.  This undocumented migrant probably has all kinds of protected status, doesn’t pay taxes and for all I know is a trans-gender study major at the local state college all on my dime.  I’ll keep everyone updated on the horror.

That Lonesome Song by Jamey Johnson – A Country Music Review

I only first heard of Jamey Johnson when he had his most commercial song on the Billboards back in 2008, “In Color.”  I enjoyed that song and because at the time all my music was coming off the top 40 country radio stations I never heard anything else by him.  By 2010 I was starting to look for better stuff than the radio provided so I bought his album “That Lonesome Song” (and a couple of his other albums) to see what he was all about.  What I found out is he is a very good song writer and has an interesting singing voice.

Most of his songs are about the darker side of life and love.  His characters are men suffering through loneliness, disfunction, addiction and loss.  Even the couple of comical songs are about broken relationships.  “In Color” is the exception.  Although the song chronicles the fearful existence through the Great Depression and WW II it ends on a very high note.  But there are several songs on the album that even though full of sadness and regret are undoubtedly very good.  I’m sure in a group of songs this varied, there will be one or two that don’t click for every listener and that list will vary due to the variety in listeners.  But my opinion is that this is an excellent country album.  My favorites are

  1. “High Cost of Living”
  2. “Place Out on the Ocean
  3. “In Color”
  4. “The Last Cowboy”
  5. “Dreaming My Dreams”
  6. “Between Jennings and Jones”

I will also qualify my recommendation of this album by saying that if someone doesn’t like sad songs then this album won’t be for him.  Not every song is sad but this is definitely an album from the less sunny side of the street.

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen – A Movie Review

Terry Gilliam is best known as a member of the comedy troupe Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  But he also had a second career as a motion picture writer/director.  His best-known movie was Brazil, about a dystopic future where the all-powerful security state reaches an absurdist level of control.

But the movie that I am interested in here is a less well known but sunnier exercise.  The movie opens up within a walled town besieged by the Turks at a time that is identified as being in the 18th Century, The Age of Reason, Wednesday.  A small acting company is putting on a comical play of the legendary Adventures of Baron Munchausen, when in the middle of the first act the real Baron Munchausen interrupts the play to refute the slanders, he claims are being made against himself.  The Right Ordinary Horatio Jackson who is in attendance in the audience and is the military governor of the town and a staunch proponent of the Age of Reason, takes offense at the Baron’s aspersions against reason and logic and threatens to throw the Baron and the whole acting troupe over the wall to the Turk.  The Baron claims he is the cause of the Turkish assault on the town and spends the rest of the movie assembling his legendary comrades to save the town from both the Turk and the Right Ordinary Horatio Jackson.  The Sultan and Jackson, behind the scenes are actually on excellent terms and take turns winning battles in order to keep the war going on forever.

Some very excellent actors are included in the cast including Jonathan Pryce as Horatio Jackson, Robin Williams as the King of the Moon and Eric Idle as Desmond and Berthold.  The reason Idle has two characters to play is another conceit of the movie.  The play actors of which Idle is one look exactly like the Baron’s actual comrades and so the movie actors play both parts.  Robin Williams as mentioned, is King of the Moon and his characterization has a split personality.  When the King’s head is detached from his body, he has a light, zany, Italian-accented voice an impish personality.  But when the head and body are joined Williams takes on the voice and personality of what could most easily be described as an angrier version of Benito Mussolini.

The English actor John Neville plays the Baron and smaller parts are distributed to well-known actors like Oliver Reed and Uma Thurman who portray the gods Vulcan and Venus respectively.  Even Sting (of Police singing fame) has a cameo as the “Heroic Officer.”

The plot, such as it is, has the Baron sailing to the Moon, falling into Mount Vesuvius to meet Vulcan and Venus and being swallowed by a giant sea monster, all performed as part of his search for his servants.  Along the way he flirts with Queens, goddesses and even a few commoners.  At all times he somehow has long stem roses to hand out and he invariably compares the beauty of each women to Catherine the Great “whose hand in marriage I once had the honor to decline.”  On one occasion he makes the remark to three women at once.  When an auditor of this exchange challenges him that they couldn’t all remind him of Catherine the Great, the Baron petulantly replied, “Why not? Bits here and bits there!”

The movie is obviously a hymn to fantasy and whimsy and the final showdown has the Baron conquer not only reason and reality but even old age and death itself.  It’s an utterly ridiculous movie that is full of fantastic visual effects and fairy tale imagery.  It probably will not appeal to all tastes.  I highly recommend it to those who can enjoy elaborate nonsense.