The Lord of the Rings – A Book Review – Part 1

Tonight, I was looking through my old posts to see if I had any unfinished series that I should continue on.  About three and a half years ago I wrote the first part of a review of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movie series.  I called it “Tolkien: A Very, Very Long Story – Part 1 – On the Screen vs. the Mind’s Eye.”  That’s a good name for a review of the Jackson films.  But going over it, I realized that starting with the films would short circuit an enormous amount of material in the books that I would much rather discuss first.  So that is what I’m going to do.  When I get back to the movies, I’ll reference these posts on the books as a baseline for my opinions on Tolkien and his remarkable creation.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I read the Lord of the Rings over fifty years ago.  Over time some of my opinions of the work have changed somewhat.  But my enjoyment of the story remains intact.  The world building that Tolkien did provides the reader with depth and scope to enjoy the story on several levels.  There is the quest for the destruction of the Ring.  There is the story of Aragorn.  There is the fading of the elves and the other non-human beings.  There is the mission of the wizards.  There is the Shire.  And most of all there is the War of the Ring.  And under all these themes we have the panorama of Middle Earth.  The quaint Shire, the lonely wilds of Eriador, the harrowing heights and abysmal depths of the Misty Mountains.  The grassland of Rohan, the grandeur of Gondor and the shadowy horror of Mordor.  Tolkien brings all these things alive in our minds.  And he populates this world with a crowd of characters of all manner of creatures.  We have several kinds of men and we have several kinds of elves.  We have dwarves and hobbits.  There are wizards and orcs and trolls and ents.  There are undead creatures and intelligent animals of several types; wargs (a kind of wolf), eagles and even an ancient and giant spider.

All of these creatures, wizards, elves, dwarves and orcs are now common characters in all the fantasy books and movies around.  But people forget that Tolkien was the one who resurrected these creatures from fairy tales and returned them to the level of mythical creatures full of menace and wonder.  The Lord of the Rings was the template for every epic fantasy, both well-written or awful that has emerged in the last half century.  And not taking anything away from some well-crafted creations that some talented writers have produced, none of them has displaced Middle Earth as the touchstone of this particular type of fantasy world.  Because Middle Earth is the creation of a worldview that incorporates the myths of northwest Europe and imbues them with the moral philosophy inherited from medieval Christianity.  The Shire is Britain.  Rohan is the Germanic Tribes.  Gondor is the legendary Roman Empire, once spanning Middle Earth from Britain to the Near East now ceding territory to younger tribes and hedged in by Eastern and Southern foes.  Mordor is the infidel barbarism at the edges of the world.  Tolkien was a gifted philologist and historian of medieval Europe with a deep and wide knowledge of its literature and folklore.  And he was a devout Christian.

This re-imagining of European history with the non-human peoples and the angelic and demonic creatures that are analogs of Christian theology make a very powerful mythic background to fill out the story of Frodo and his friends.  And that is the point I want to make in this introduction.  In future installments I’ll give my thoughts on various aspects of Tolkien’s story.  Since they’re my opinions I won’t apologize if I commit any sins against the Tolkien orthodoxies.  I’ve been thinking about this stuff for a very long time so I feel I have the right to have my say.  But I also welcome comments both agreeing and disagreeing with my opinions.

Right Wing Guide to Living in the Democratic People’s Republic of America – Part 1

This is just an introduction to my new project.  Previously I believed the goal was to wake up enough normal Americans to be able to shake off the craziness that had been foisted on us by the UniParty.  I now see that the UniParty has no intention to allow that kind of thing to happen.  And nothing as unimportant as a majority of people demanding it would prevent them from maintaining their strangle hold on power at all levels of society.

So, to my way of thinking I have to perform an analysis to determine what is my best strategy to deal with the world as it really is.  A while ago I said there were several broad options if it turned out that normal Americans were outnumbered at the polls.  From my way of thinking this is actually worse.  We’re not outnumbered we’ve been outmaneuvered.  But either way it boils down to the same situation.  We will be under a federal government that has no interest in constitutional rights and will impose its will on us in a particularly offensive way.

In that series of posts, I said the options were to fold, flee or fight.  Those are still the main choices.  What I’ll do in this series is look at the specifics of what that means for normal people.  For instance, if you intend to continue to live in a blue state how will you protect your children from the influence of the school systems and provide them with the information they’ll need to avoid the pitfalls that are built into life in the heart of the Leftist beast.  You’ll have to explain to them what they’ll be forced to do to avoid losing an education, a job or a business.  If someone decides they want to fight back against the system that will require knowing what resources and organizations exist to aid in that effort.  And if moving to a red state is your plan, I’ll provide what I can find about that option.

I fully expect that this series will be a slow work in progress but I figured I’d announce it because, let’s face it, these people we’re up against aren’t going anywhere and if we’re serious about fighting them we have more than our work cut out for us.  This is a generational project that will need to be pursued in an organized and methodical way.  I think that the only hope going forward is for President Trump to act as the founder of a new political movement, maybe even a political party, the whole focus of which is to restore the Constitutional freedoms that have been taken away from us.

A movement is needed with plenty of support from the rich and powerful to start organizing the resources, needed to fight back against the Elitists that have taken away our way of life.  We’ll need our own social media and news companies; we’ll need smart lawyers to defend us and we’ll need governors and state attorneys general and legislatures to pass and enforce laws to protect us from the Left.

So that’s a start off the top of my head.  I’ll add to this as I have a chance to do some research.

What Do You Call a Country Like This?

It is December 1st 2020 so I am fervently hoping that President Trump will be successful in forcing the courts and the legislatures to acknowledge the overwhelming evidence of wholesale fraud and assign him the election win.  But regardless of the outcome of that effort we have to come to grips with the fact that the country we thought we lived in does not exist.

Now that’s a bold statement but I think it’s undeniably true.  The last election was not a squeaker that could have turned on the margin of error.  Unlike 2016 President Trump had massive new support in the swing states that he needed to win.  And that was obviously apparent right up until the switch was pulled in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin.  In each state President Trump was decisively ahead when the counting was shut down and the observers were sent home and the fake ballots were trucked in by the hundreds of thousands and the fake count was performed without honest witnesses to confirm that the ballots were legitimate.  All the other jazz about the electronic systems in place may be as horrendous as they say.  That’s harder for me to know about.  But the obvious fraud is what we’re left with.

Now what kind of country do these sorts of things happen in?  Well, you can think of a whole bunch of names.  Oligarchy is the sophisticated name.  When I was growing up it would have been called a banana republic.  The term that I think is appropriate is gangster state.  Without a doubt we haven’t reached the level of brutality that Saddam Hussein was famous for but it’s really only a matter of degree or maybe a more sophisticated sense of taste.  After all, the FBI, the Justice Department and the judiciary tortured General Flynn and others of the Trump team psychologically for more than four years with no evidence of a crime having been committed and the media has used concerted propaganda campaigns, supported by the social media companies against half the country for almost a decade.  And now that the Left has made riot, looting and arson business as usual I can’t see how anyone can claim that there is a qualitative difference between what goes on in the United States and what goes on in Venezuela or Syria.  Say what you like, you can’t call that kind of regime democratic or even legitimate.  When the law is enforced selectively and based on partisan advantage then tyranny and dictatorship are perfectly accurate descriptions for that type of regime.

And that is my whole point for this post.  Things should be called by their right names.  Words shouldn’t hide reality.  Calling a place, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is just making believe that the word democratic doesn’t mean rule by the people.  So, let’s call the place we live in by what it truly is.  Let’s call it the Democratic People’s Republic of America.  I wonder if Kim Jong-Un could send one of those stylish outfits he wears to Creepy Uncle Joe.  It would look just about right on the Dear Leader.

High Sierra (1941) – An OCF Classic Movie Review

High Sierra was Humphrey Bogart’s first starring role.  He plays Roy Earle, a veteran gangster sent to prison in Chicago for life.  But after ten years one of his old bosses, Big Mac, manages to get him a pardon and arranges for a car and some money to allow Roy to come to California to head up a jewelry heist in a wealthy desert resort where the ultra-wealthy winter.  Mac has recruited a couple of young small-time thieves Babe and Red to assist Earle.  The other part of the ring is the hotel night manager Louis Mendoza who will provide the inside information.

But Roy gets a surprise when he arrives at the meeting place, a mountain cabin park.  Babe has picked up a girl named Marie from a dance hall and brought her along. Roy angrily tells his crew and the girl that she has to go.  Marie, played by Ida Lupino, goes to talk to Roy and convinces him that she is the most trustworthy member of the crew.  She admits that she knows the plan of the heist because Mendoza talks too much.  After a few more incidents between Marie and Babe and Red, Roy decides to have her stay in his cabin and lays down the law with the two young men.

After this a romantic relationship begins between Roy and Marie, although he warns her that love is not a possibility for her with him.  Roy’s heart has been caught by a young farm girl that he has met while travelling to California.  Velma is travelling with her grandfather and grandmother from Ohio to live with her recently remarried mother in Los Angeles.  Roy has had the chance to help the family out as they struggle to pay for the trip cross country.  Their country roots remind him of his own family from rural Indiana and Velma’s unspoiled beauty and unaffected manner charms him.  The girl has a clubbed foot and Roy enlists a mob doctor he knows to arrange for a surgeon to operate on the girl’s foot to repair the problem.  But after the surgery Velma declines his offer to marry him.  She has a boyfriend back in Ohio that she is still interested in.  Roy takes the refusal hard but promises to come back when she has healed from her surgery to see her walk and say goodbye to the family.

Finally, conditions at the hotel are right for the heist.  Marie and Roy take one car and Babe and Red in another.  While Babe and Red are breaking open the safety deposit boxes Roy guards the lobby and Marie is in one of the cars watching for trouble.  She warns them of the approach of a late-night couple arriving at the hotel and Roy holds them on one of the lobby couches along with the bell boy.  But finally, an armed security guard enters.  Roy gets the drop on him but when the scream of the woman on the couch distracts Roy the guard pulls his gun and they exchange shots.  The guard is fatally wounded and Roy is struck on the side.

Rattled by the shooting Mendoza refuses to remain behind to claim his innocence as the plan required and instead goes in the car with Babe and Red.  The two cars take off but the car with the three men takes the wrong road and crashes along a hairpin turn.  Babe and Red are killed and Mendoza injured.  Mendoza is picked up by the police and Roy and Marie return to the cabin without incident.  Roy goes to visit his friend the mob doctor who tends to his wounds.  Then he goes to Mac but finds he’s died of a heart attack.  Following instructions Mac had given him earlier he passes the gems onto a mob contact who gives Roy a little money in advance and the promise that the deal with the big boss would be transacted soon and Roy would get his cut.  While waiting for this Roy goes to see Velma and meets her fiancé whom he immediately takes a strong dislike to.  Velma berates Roy for his jealousy and he leaves.  Now Roy sees Marie’s loyalty and love for him in a new light and promises that as soon as they get their money, they’ll start a new life together.

But all his plans fall apart as the newspapers are full of the story of the heist.  Mendoza has confessed and named Roy as the mastermind of the plot and the murderer of the guard.  Roy puts Marie on a bus to escape the dragnet and promises to catch up with her later when he gets clear.  But Roy is soon identified and the police pursuit corners him in a blocked pass in the Sierra Nevada.  Roy climbs up into the hills and holds the police off with a machine gun.  Marie hears report of the stand-off and heads back to be near him.  A reporter recognizes her from her description and the police try to persuade her to call to Roy to give himself up.  But she refuses.

The police manage to get a sharp shooter with a high-powered rifle on the cliff that overlooks Roy’s position.  And when Roy’s dog Pard escapes from Marie and runs toward Roy’s voice as he banters with the police the dog’s barking reveals to Roy that Marie must be nearby.  He runs out onto the exposed rocks calling her name and is killed by the sniper.

This movie is a sort of combination gangster movie and melodrama.  Even though Ida Lupino got the top billing because of her established reputation at the time really the movie belongs to Bogart.  He plays the part as naturally as any of his later roles.  The plot moves along pretty well and even the Velma plot line isn’t too distracting.  At times I think Lupino is given a little too much melodrama to successfully portray but I think the movie holds up pretty well.  And there are a few character actors in supporting roles; Henry Hull as Doc Banton, Henry Travers as Velma’s grandfather and Donald MacBride as Big Mac that add human interest to the story.  One sort of interesting bit of trivia, the dog Pard was played by Zero, Bogart’s own pet dog.

I think Bogart has half a dozen movies in his resume that are better than High Sierra.  That being said this is a good movie.  I can recommend it.

01DEC2020 – Quote of the Day

The same Being that fashioned the insect, whose existence is only discerned by a microscope, and gave that invisible speck a system of ducts and other organs to perform its vital functions, created the enormous mass of the planet thirteen hundred times larger than our earth, and launched it in its course round the sun, and the comet, wheeling with a velocity that would carry it round our globe in less than two minutes of time, and yet revolving through so prodigious a space that it takes near six centuries to encircle the sun!

Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux