Author Archives: crisap

About crisap

Cris has been active in politics since college where he led the Republican campus group. Since then he has been involved in campaign drives and community activism off and on between his career of teaching high school English. In addition, Pace has spent the majority of life looking for truth in the world’s major religions finally settling on New Age belief as best representation of the truths of the world. He regularly blogs about both on his blog The Conservative New Ager. Cris is originally from Southern California but currently resides in Phoenix.

AEI: The truths of Aristotle’s ‘Nicomachean Ethics’

Anyone who has read this blog for some time knows I hold Aristotle in a very high degree.  As such it is always great to see others also acknowledge his greatest work Nicomachean Ethics, which in my mind is the most important book every written in the history of the world.  This speech at the American Enterprise Institute about the importance of Aristotle’s works I think is something we should all take the time (it’s worth the hour and a half).

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Filed under Aristotle, philosophy, virtue

Old Lies About Romney Make a Come Back with Populists…Time to Slap Them Down (AGAIN)…

By The Snark Who Hunts Back and The Conservative New Ager

Paul Ryan

The look on our faces every time these anti-Romney lies keep coming back.

So recently we’ve been seeing a string of complaints coming out the less intelligent, less thoughtful, and more populist/progressive quarters of the Right once again attacking Romney. And the problem is that the vast majority of these arguments boil down to two problems. The first problem is that they’re trotting out the same complaints that they used 4 years ago and were shown to be utterly without fact, basis, or sanity 4 years ago…and the second problem is that if you had a candidate to actually put up you would be singing their praises and not attacking the only competent candidate there is.   But the clearly the kind of people who prefer populists and progressives are the kind who like to repeat lies that have already been struck down, we might as well cover why these lies are horseshit once again…

Romneycare So the first thing that all small minded people claiming to be conservative like to point to is Romneycare. They claim it’s the origin of Obamacare.

romney5

The appropriate response to hearing that Romneycare and Obamacare are the same thing.

Let’s look at this claim. In reality the actual history of Romneycare is that the Massachusetts legislature proposed a universal healthcare measure. It was a measure that would have completely nationalized all healthcare in the sate of Massachusetts and made Obamacare look like a dream come true. Governor Romney knew he couldn’t just veto the bill (he vetoed 844 bills and line item measures, 707 of those vetoes were overruled…he must have known just vetoing it would have been a fruitless measure). So rather than just give a pointless veto that would be overruled and result in the death private healthcare (which would result in actual death) Romney went to the Heritage Foundation and they gave him the outline for what we now call Romneycare (individual mandates and all…which by the way are Constitutional under the Massachusetts constitution). So if Romney is a liberal for taking the advice of the most conservative think tank in America to stop a far more liberal bill…then what exactly qualifies as conservative? Are you only conservative if you get results? Then Reagan’s a filthy liberal for not destroying the Department of Education. Now the final bill that passed the legislature was not exactly what Heritage suggested and because of that Romney vetoed 8 portions of the final bill. These vetoes were overturned. There were further changes made after he left office (those are the really bad parts). But I’m sure that’s all Romney’s fault. And it gets worse if you get into the details of Obamacare and Romneycare, any attention to details shows that they are nothing alike. Add to that the promise last time to give immediate exemptions to the entire US via executive order and then work to repeal Obamacare…it is a simple fact that to attack Romney for the healthcare system in Massachusetts can only be made if you are completely ignorant of all the facts involved.

He’s a flip-flopper on social issues like gay marriage and abortion. 

more lies

Lies. The only thing the Romney side has going for them.

To call Mitt Romney a flip flopper on the issue of abortion is to say that no man may have a change of mind or heart in the span of nearly 2 decades. A flip flop is something that Obama does. A flip flop is when a politician says one thing and six months later they deny that they ever said it, while stating the exact opposite. What a flip flop is not is a politician who believes something in 1994 or in 2002, but receives a shocking change of heart in the year 2004 due to some new information or even just a new view on the issue(in this case Romney changed his view because of the stem cell research debate), and admits in 2011 that he no longer believes his previous position to be true or the best possible position for him to hold. Mitt Romney is no more a flip flopper on the issue of abortion than a woman like Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a flip flopper on the issue of her religion. As for the issue of gay marriage, another issue that Romney is consistently called a flip flopper on, the accusation bears very little merit as his opinion that gay marriage is a state’s rights issue has not, to my knowledge, ever changed. The only accusation that can be leveled on the issue is that he implemented the decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Court when it gave it’s verdict in 2003 on the subject. His position before and after that moment has remained much the same when it comes to state’s rights.

He’s for Gun control House retort Then clueless critics want to hit Romney over his stance on gun control. I’ve heard people say Romney is weak on the 2nd Amendment. Odd, given his B rating from the NRA.  Why a B and not an A? Well he seems to favor assault weapons bans, background checks (although as we now can do near instant background checks he doesn’t believe in the waiting period now), and slightly stronger control in cities.   Honestly, reasonable people, are any of those things wrong? Would I like someone who said something like it is the right of every American who is not a felon or mentally unstable to own a gun…and it is probably their responsibility to do so as well, or at bare minimum know how to use one. But I’m not getting that this year. The one bill about guns he signed in Massachusetts lessened state licensing laws for gun ownership…not exactly the gun control boogeyman he has been portrayed as…and certainly not the lunatics who tried to use a convoluted and criminal scheme to flood the cities with illegal guns as a justification to crack down on gun ownership.

He increased taxes in Massachusetts

romney3

Seriously? The populists feel comfortable making such a claim?

The claim is that Romney was a tax raiser is also outrageous when you consider where the actual $300 million in increased tax revenue came from. The concept of closing tax loopholes is not one unfamiliar to conservatives who want to fix the tax system. That is precisely what Romney did in Massachusetts, closing several loopholes in the state tax code which raised revenue.  Romney also reduced taxes in several ways, but was unsuccessful in convincing the state legislature (which was held by Democrats by a wide margin) to reduce the state income tax to the promised 5% from 5.3% where the legislature froze it, regardless of the fact that voters had successfully voted for a decrease to 5%. Like at so many other turns during his governorship, Romney’s hands were tied in fully accomplishing his goals by a Democratic legislature. Admittedly Romney’s administration did shift costs over to fees and licenses for many services, but this is more a libertarian solution to raising funds than a tax increase in any case, as it puts the fees directly on those using the service rather than taxing an entire populace to run a program.

He’s for Amnesty emma swanThen of course there are those that object to Romney’s realistic opinion that even after we shut down the border and put in e-verify that it’s simply not economically realistic to try and deport everyone who is here and came here illegally…nor is it legally sane to leave them as illegal immigrants. Yes, after we put in real border security, e-verify and reform the system to have the appropriate visa and worker program we still need to deal with the people who are here. Anyone who thinks the conservative answer is to expends tens of billions into rounding up every illegal and even more tens of billions (if not more) for the deportation trials of each of them (not to mention the even greater cost of political doing so). Such a policy is not conservative it is insane. Meanwhile Romney has in the past consistently stated a sane policy of border security, denying financial gains to illegals, but after those things have been resolved giving those who remain some form of legal status (at a cost):

“It’s very simply this, which is for those who come into the country legally, they would be given an identification card that points out they’re able to work here and then you have an E-verify system that’s effective and efficient so that employers can determine who is legally here and if employers hire someone without a card, or without checking to see if it’s been counterfeited, then those employers would be severely sanctioned.”

Gee what a concept, go after the employers and you kill the very thing that brings illegal immigrants in. Yes this will not solve the drug cartel problems, but this is one of the first steps to getting rid of the illegal immigration problem in this country.

“Our problem is 11 million people getting jobs that many Americans, legal immigrants, would like to have. It’s school kids in schools that districts are having a hard time paying for it. It’s people getting free health care because we are required under the law to provide that health care.”

And as far as I know he’s the only candidate who is consistently bringing up the problem that illegal immigration has on funding for schools. So, bravo Romney.

He was for bailouts

romney2

Ann is ready to slap the stupid out of someone.

Then there are those who say he was in favor of bailouts. Let’s look at his actual statements:

“Well, I frankly wish that the last Congress would have dealt with the stimulus issue and that the president could assign that before leaving office. I think there is need for economic stimulus. Americans have lost about $11 trillion in net worth. That translates into about $400 billion a year less spending that they’ll be doing, and that’s net of additional government programs like Medicaid and unemployment insurance. And government can help make that up in a very difficult time. And that’s one of the reasons why I think a stimulus program is needed. I’d move quickly. These are unusual times. But it has to be something which relieves pressure on middle-income families. I think a tax cut is necessary for them as well as for businesses that are growing. We’ll be investing in infrastructure and in energy technologies. But let’s not make this a Christmas tree of all of the favors for various politicians who have helped out the Obama campaign, giving them special projects.[italics added]

Wow, so his stimulus is across the board tax cutting! Exactly why are we opposed to that? And while we have become rather jaded when Obama says infrastructure repair, because I’ve yet to see a single pot hole fixed, let alone real work done…it’s not a bad idea in theory. Also notice in this January 2009 interview he predicted that we would have BS like Solyndra. Now let’s take a good look at all the actual things he proposed we should do…not one of those things is not an endorsement of capitalism and small government.

That he appointed liberal justices in Massachusetts jlaw As for Romney’s record with judges, it is true that he nominated more Democrats than Republicans, but it is also true that Romney’s governor council was composed of Democrats (chosen by the voters). His early appointments as governor were mostly Democrat and Independent, but toward the end he nominated far more Republicans, which makes sense in a Democratic state like Massachusetts where he would need to be more pragmatic in his appointments in the beginning of his term.  

That he believe in Global Warming

tumblr_n8knmhY13n1s2g6qao1_500

Certainly our reaction to when going through all these anti-Romney claims…seriously, how in the age of information can people be this ignorant?

It’s curious to me that Romney’s remarks on global warming would receive much attention at all. His comment that he believed the earth was getting warmer in 2011 is predated by the much more firmly worded statements he made in his book “No Apology” in 2010:

I believe that climate change is occurring–the reduction in the size of global ice caps is hard to ignore. I also believe that human activity is a contributing factor. I am uncertain how much of the warming, however, is attributable to man and how much is attributable to factors out of our control. I do not support radical feel-good policies like a unilateral US cap-and-trade mandate. Such policies would have little effect on the climate but could cripple economic growth. Oil is purported to be one of the primary contributors to rising global temperatures. If in fact global warming is importantly caused by our energy appetite, it’s yet one more reason for going on an energy diet. Scientists are nearly unanimous in laying the blame for rising temperatures on greenhouse gas emissions. Of course there are also reasons for skepticism. The earth may be getting warmer, but there have been numerous times in the earth’s history when temperatures have been warmer than they are now.

Whether I agree with his statements or not, which I have to add are hardly conclusive proof that he believes that Global Warming is either 100% man-made or a real danger to earth, the main issue with conservatives should always been if he plans to actually do anything about his belief that the world is getting warmer.  His statement “I do not support radical feel-good policies like a unilateral US cap-and-trade mandate. Such policies would have little effect on the climate but could cripple economic growth.” is proof enough that whether he believes in man-made global warming or not, he’s not interested in stepping in on a regulatory level.  Which should be our only real concern on that particular issue.

He lost to Obama

Reagan

So glad we don’t ever let people come back after they’ve lost. I mean after Reagan lost the second time in 1976 it would have been yet another disaster to let him come back and lose again in 1980.

Finally they like to point out that Romney lost. Twice. (Let’s ignore that Reagan lost twice before winning). But let’s looks at that last loss. Romney got a larger portion of the US population than any non-sitting Republican president in the last century. A larger portion of the US voted for Romney than for Reagan. Yeah real failure there. Second why did he lose? Well let’s see we all know that Hurricane Sandy and the good PR Obama got from that (thanks Chris Christie for sucking up to Barry as much as you did). We all admit that Romney’s program for getting voters out, ORCA, failed on election day for whatever reason it crashed, the 2014 election shows the GOP has fixed that program (had it been working the vote would have swung toward Romney). Finally Romney’s biggest campaign problem was he let the media define him as uncaring (a lie, but it’s what they portrayed)…which Romney has used the last two years to wipe away with public appearances, selfies from coach class and with various celebrities and slow jamming the news…that biggest problem is now gone. So the technology is fixed and the biggest weakness is gone…so if the weather will just cooperate we’ll win this time. Certainly this isn’t the entirety of the lies about Romney…but by now you should get the point.  If you bother to do the research, and we think you should, don’t just trust us (just as you certainly shouldn’t trust pundits who know they make more money when a liberal is in office) do the research for yourself.  Click the links we put in.  Read those articles. Do research of your own.  We want you to.  Because facts and reason show that we’re in the right.  Now if you had a fact based objection to Romney we’d be open to hearing it…but we just have yet to see one. buffy

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Filed under Election 2016, Mitt Romney, politics

The witless comments of George Will

George Will has some very odd statements about Mitt Romney:

The read as follows:

It’s very hard to produce unanimity in America politics particularly in fractious republicans but Mitt Romney did so this week. There’s no one expressing the desire, the pent up desire, for another Romney campaign. Is the field weak? He doesn’t have that excuse. This is the strongest most diverse republican field since 1856. Is the party weak? They control 31 governors, seven of the ten largest states have republican governors, they control both legislative chambers and the governorship in 23 states with  251 electoral votes. The republican party is geared up for a very strong showing in 2016 and they do not need to look backwards.

Let’s look at this in pieces.

“It’s very hard to produce unanimity in America politics particularly in fractious republicans but Mitt Romney did so this week.” He acts every Republican was up in arms over this. They were not. Romney is ahead of all the national polls, the Iowa polls, and the New Hampshire polls. The only people that are upset are the predominately populist and Progressives for Jesus hack pundits. The actual base of the party seems to like Mitt.

“There’s no one expressing the desire, the pent up desire, for another Romney campaign.” Numbers and reality to the contrary.

2016 GOP field

Go on. Take an honest look at this bunch. And try not to laugh when saying this is a strong field of options.Ryan’s out.  Walker can’t win the national vote.  The rest beside Romney…well…

“Is the field weak? He doesn’t have that excuse.” Really? Please tell me who the strong candidates are. The brainless demagogue of Ted Cruz. The crazy and immoral libertarianism of Rand Paul. The latest bland and spineless Bush, a family of idiots and wimps. Perhaps you mean the liberal Rick Perry who will with one hand force unproven vaccines on women and with the other use in quite the liberal fashion tax money to give bribes to businesses to come to his state. Perhaps Chris Christie who intentionally sabotaged Mitt at the last moment in 2012 giving Obama lots of good press so that he could run in 2016 showing he places his own fat ego above the good of the nation.   Oh hey, maybe he means Mike Huckabee who even before Michelle Obama thought it was the place of government to tell us what to eat. No I’m sure it’s Ben Carson a man who has never had an ounce of executive experience in his entire life. Really George, I hesitate to say that were it not for the fact that we almost always have weak fields in the Republican party, this is one of the weakest.

“This is the strongest most diverse republican field since 1856.” George, loosen the bow tie. I say this for two reasons. One, in almost all cases, bow ties are not cool—you are not one of the exceptions. Second because it is clearly choking off oxygen to your brain.

“Is the party weak? They control 31 governors, seven of the ten largest states have republican governors, they control both legislative chambers and the governorship in 23 states with  251 electoral votes.” What does this have to do with the price of tea in China? So the Republicans are doing well, great, sounds like the perfect time to put up the most experienced and qualified person for the job since Calvin Coolidge.

But then again this is all coming from a man who agreed with all the other hack pundits in their lie that Romney was not a conservative in the first place. I think FOXNews may be over paying for this level of poor commentary.

“The republican party is geared up for a very strong showing in 2016 and they do not need to look backwards.” Ah the argument of 1980 on why we shouldn’t endorse Reagan…again. It was stupid then and it’s stupid now. We should go with the most qualified candidate. In this case it is pretty obvious who that is. Will seems to be making an argument that bears no semblance of reason or sanity.

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Filed under GOP, politics, Problems with the GOP

Who are Superheroes Supporting?

Originally posted on Elementary Politics:

Rand suporting Romney The endorsements of superheroes are very important…unlike this endorsement by a lunatic that didn’t pay off.

Here at Elementary Politics we are out to keep you on top of both politics and pop culture. As such we have noticed that tumblr has revealed these two things are both crossing and the cause of the upcoming film Captain America: Civil War.

But while it is all too clear that Tony Stark is backing Mitt Romney and Capt. Steve “let me end the surveillance state” Edward Snowden Rogers is unquestionably in the Rand/Ron Paul camp we decided to where other heroes were standing in their current support for possible presidential contenders.

tony civil war

capt civil wartony captcivil war

So we reached out to our favorite superheroes (and even a few villains) from our favorite movies (unless we otherwise state) and here is what they had to say…

Iron Man

Iron Man [from the movies]: “I successfully privatized national security and now…

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Top 10 Reasons to Hate Mitt Romney

Originally posted on The Long Version:

Top Ten Reasons To Dislike Mitt Romney

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

A lot is being said in the media about Mitt Romney not being “likable” or that he doesn’t “relate well” to people.

So after much research, here is a Top Ten List to explain this “unlikablility.”

Top Ten Reasons To Dislike Mitt Romney:

1. Drop-dead, collar-ad handsome with gracious, statesmanlike demeanor. Looks like every central casting’s #1 choice for Commander-in-Chief.

2. Been married to ONE woman his entire life, and has been faithful to her, including through her bouts with breast cancer and MS.

3. No scandals or skeletons in his closet. (How boring is that?)

4. Can’t speak in a fake, southern, “preacher voice” when necessary.  (Could learn a thing or two from Hillary, Al, or Barack in that area)

5. Highly intelligent. Graduated cum laude from both Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School…and by the way, his academic records are…

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The most and least conservative TV shows

Originally posted on Elementary Politics:

A little while ago the Libertarian (really they’re becoming a bit of a isolationist quasi-liberal outlet, but we’ll ignore that for now) magazine Reason released a list of the top 5 libertarian TV Shows and least libertarian shows.  As is all too typical of libertarians these days their best shows were just a little unwatchable (Penn & Teller’s okay in small doses but the rest can be ignored at best) and their worst list did include some terrible drivel but also attacked some great works of TV.

So since the sanctimonious writers at Libertarians shouldn’t go unchallenged, here are the five best conservative shows on TV and regrettably the five least conservative shows.

  1.     Buffy the Vampire SlayerBuffy Cast

“Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?”

Buffy the Vampire Slayer as conservative?  As the move conservative? Yes and yes.  The people over at Brietbartagree it’s conservative and The…

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Limit the Power of Bureaucracy

shackles

Shakespeare was wrong. It’s not lawyers, but bureaucrats that need to go first.

Often I hear the call from conservatives that we should impose term limits on Congress. This sounds nice but when you think about it, such actions have never been shown to lead to better legislation and only have resulted in having a higher percentage of idiots in bodies of parliament. I know it sounds nice but it just doesn’t want to work…now if you want to go back to having the Senate elected by state legislatures we might get better laws, but I don’t think most people are willing to admit that basic truth…so let’s get back to term limits. Term limits on elected officials will do nothing to actually improve anything…but what about term limits on federal and state employees.

Think about it.

Who is more dangerous? The idiot legislator who poorly words a bill about needing a business license? Or the worthless little fascist who thinks it is anywhere in the realm of civilized behavior to cite a child for having a lemonade stand on their lawn? (Hint one might need to be voted out of office, and one needs to be beat to death with a crowbar. Take a guess which is which.)

Who is more to blame? The Congressman who votes for a terrible addition to the tax code because it was tied to a bill that would ensure the military in a combat will get live bullets…or the IRS agent who takes a malicious glee in fining you because you could not deduce what the regulations they wrote above and beyond the law in Navajo code actually meant? (Hint: one can be forgiven for being in an impossible position, the other would be joining the S.S. if they were still hiring.)

Who should you worry about more? The politician who breaks their promise? Or the VA official who lets veterans die so they can get a bonus. (Dante would have to create a new level of hell just to deal with some of the shit we have seen go on the last few years from bureaucrats.)

Who ruins your life? The arrogant Senator who just is so vain he will do anything to get on TV, even going as far as arguing that we should arm ISIS? Or jackbooted thug who thinks it’s okay to call out a SWAT team on people who are selling raw milk? (Tough call, but John McCain is a particularly vile politician, far worse than most politicians ranking below most rodents, whereas I would go as far as to that 99% of all state and federal employees are scum.)

My point is that bureaucrats are far more dangerous than the people who write the laws. Because bureaucrats are the ones who write the regulations that determine how those laws will be enforced (that’s also something that needs to change, but we’ll get to that some other time) and the ones who enforce those laws and those regulations. No system in history has ever been constructed without the assumption that some competence and common sense will go into the enforcement…the problem is there is no way to encourage any of that in the system we currently have. You hire people for passing a basic civil servants entrance exam and they basically have a job for life. They can kill people intentionally or through incompetence (as the VA, ATF, and CDC have shown) and nobody loses a job. They can break law after law, violate basic Constitutional principles, and blackmail and intimidate citizens like this were a cheap Banana Republic and while in a just society there would be scores of bureaucrats swinging form gallows they know they’re all protected because their criminal boss plead the Fifth in front of Congress (oh and let’s not forget the destruction of evidence…)

These are people who have no incentive to justly enforce laws, to use common sense, or to even show the slightest bit of human decency. They have a job for life and pension after that. This has to stop. And the simplest way to do that is put term limits for all state and federal employees*. For all non-management staff the most you can serve in government is 15 years or two nonconsecutive terms of 10 years.   For management you need to receive a promotion at least once every 4 years or clearly you’re not good enough to keep.

big governmentFor the non-management staff this has several benefits. First every bureaucrat knows that there is no such job security…and they will be more concerned with making connections in the private sector than making the private sector’s existence a living nightmare. Second they will not act with impunity…the person you write up today could be conducting your interview tomorrow.   Third, you actually have to do your job well and in a way that will get compliments given to your boss about you that they can put on the letter of recommendation that you’ll need when you’re booted out of government service. Trust me, no little girls are going to be written up for a lemonade stand under this system…because no one would ever hire that sociopathic son of a bitch if they had that albatross hanging around their neck. You’d have just about the same job prospects as a child molester…and I don’t really see anything wrong with that (seriously, how mentally disturbed do you have to be to do that?)

As for management positions in government…the system I have set up that requires constant advancement…well there is no way faster to make sure there is a position open to get promoted into than being the whistle blower to point out that Ms. Lerner is breaking more laws than you thought a human being possibly could and oh, that’s right, I made sure to bring copies of all the email she sent me where she admits to breaking the law. The upper echelons of government will self-police with a ruthless efficiency that Congressional Oversight could never hope to match.

Now I’m sure someone will argue that the high turnover will result in far more open positions and low skill employees…this is true. This will result in Congress shrinking the responsibilities of these offices or just outsourcing their functions to the private sector just to make the pissed off voters go away. Win-win.

Now I will admit that this may cause the welfare rolls to swell slightly (as many government employees aren’t exactly qualified for private sector work) but I think the cost saving of them not getting in the way of my life may justify this.

Stop lifetime employment in government and actually get much better government.

*I am willing to exclude county and local government as these will be harder to fill, and jobs like police, district attorney’s office, and teacher you may not want to have high turnover as these are just functions of local government. Similarly I am willing to concede similar exemptions for the federal government for the Defense, State, and parts of the Justice Department (attorney’s and FBI), and anything in the Intelligence branch—these again are

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Filed under Economics, Government is corrupt, Government is useless, Laws the GOP should pass

Movies for Conservatives: Interstellar

Okay so this is a more in depth look at Interstellar. If you want the spoiler light version of the review then go to my review on Elementary Politics.


Okay you’ve been warned, spoilers ahead.

Interstellar

So first off you should know you’re watching The Odyssey.  Nolan’s movies are all based on a work of literature* and this one is no different.  Cooper is Odysseus and he faces many of the same problems.  He faces a tidal wave that blows him years off course, one of the crew is tempted by the lotus eaters promise to dream his life away (which is also an Inception reference)**, a fight against a two faced monster and a giant hole in the ground (between Scylla and Charybdis), betrayal (the cattle of Helios), constantly hearing the siren call of home, a trip to the underworld, and a return home only to set off on another adventure.  And while everyone forgets this, a good portion of The Odyssey is Odysseus’ son Telamachus searching for his father, but Nolan cooper and murphdidn’t forget this part, and has the second main part of this story being Cooper’s daughter, Murphy, in her search for the same answer Cooper is looking for: how to save humanity.  There is also a little Heart of Darkness thrown in (and they’re not subtle about this as they use the phrase Heart of Darkness…granted it was technically used to describe a black hole, but it’s really just foreshadowing, which is something Nolan always revels in).  The Heart of Darkness aspect comes into play with as Heart of Darkness is all about hearing how great a man Kurtz is for the entirety of the trip into the jungle only to find that he is a raving psychotic…in Interstellar we are inundated with hearing how great, how brave, how intelligent Dr. Mann is, only to find him to be a cowardly moron who doesn’t even know how to park a vehicle properly.

But enough about the literary origins of the story…let’s get to the thematic cores of the film.

This movie, as with all of Nolan’s films has a very strong theme of conservative values that glorifies the individual and abhors the mentality of collectivism.

“We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.”

The story starts out sometime in the future (an elderly John Lithgow seems to remember the present as his childhood, so this puts it somewhere in the latter portion of the 21st century). The world has been overcome with “blight” a disease that has ravished wheat and other mainstays of food production leaving only corn alive–for now (a lesser director would have used global warming as a reason the Earth was dying, but Christopher Nolan is not a liberal hack). Humanity and innovation have come to a complete standstill and as farm land goes barren it leaves only dust storms to ravish the land. The parallels to the Dust Bowl of the Great Depression are unmistakable.  And just as in previous depressions we see the progressive mentality to rewrite history to convince people that their lives are only there to serve the greater good (the invention of the 4 freedom in the Great Depression, the malaise speech telling us that collectivism is the only way to survive, the attitude of “you didn’t build that’…all lies designed to make people give up on the nobility of the human individual and their soul)…in Interstellar it is:

Cooper: You don’t believe we went to the Moon?

Ms. Kelly: I believe it was a brilliant piece of propaganda, that the Soviets bankrupted themselves pouring resources into rockets and other useless machines…

Cooper: Useless machines?

Ms. Kelly: And if we don’t want to repeat of the excess and wastefulness of the 20th Century then we need to teach our kids about this Planet, not tales of leaving it.

Cooper: You know, one of those useless machines they used to make was called a MRI, and if we have one of those left the doctors would have been able to see the cyst in my wife’s brain, before she died instead of afterwards, and then she had been the one sitting here, listening to this instead of me which’ld be a good thing because she was always the… a calmer one.

This little scene not only shows how the government is more than willing to lie to get what it wants out of people, but also that the best in humanity, our drive to push forward, to reach beyond the confines of what we know.  Or to point to an earlier Nolan film, The Prestige, where Tesla points outs:

You’re familiar with the phrase “man’s reach exceeds his grasp”? It’s a lie: man’s grasp exceeds his nerve.

People, especially liberals, are afraid of the potential of humanity, and as both history and this film show, they will exploit any downturn to destroy the human need to be an individual and strive for greatness…after all “”You never let a serious crisis go to waste” is the liberal mantra.

But in this film it gets worse. In Interstellar it’s not just lying about the past, it’s lying about the future.  It’s lying that there is hope for what they call Plan A, the idea they can get the human population off of Earth and into space.  Of course this is a lie. There is no such plan…and in tune with the mentality of not looking for the potential of human nature they decided to give up and lie to keep people from panicking.  They don’t look for another option, they try for another solution they just give up.

And this leads into the liberal ideology of what justifies this lying.  As Caine’s Prof. Brand puts it “We must think not as individuals, but as a species” which are echoed later by Damon’s Dr. KurtzMann.  In fact Dr. Mann talks about sacrificing the people for a greater good and how empathy must be put aside…and all of this villainous talk sounds exactly like the environmentalist wacko’s who want to save the Earth by ending humanity…like Matt Damon.  I wonder if Matt Damon realizes that he was effectively hired to play himself to show that his rhetoric is evil.  Probably not.  But back to theme.  We see over and over again from the teachers, to Brand, Mann and even Cooper’s son the mixture of the idea that the individual is not enough, “We must confront the reality that nothing in our solar system can help us.” being coupled with the defeatist attitude that would allow for humanity’s extinction.  The movie is quite clear; collectivism will lead to destruction (just as it did in The Dark Knight Rises and The Man of Steel, just in case you think I’m somehow making this up—Nolan puts a clear hatred of collectivism in his films).

“We’ve always defined ourselves by the ability to overcome the impossible. And we count these moments. These moments when we dare to aim higher, to break barriers, to reach for the stars, to make the unknown known. We count these moments as our proudest achievements. But we lost all that. Or perhaps we’ve just forgotten that we are still pioneers. And we’ve barely begun. And that our greatest accomplishments cannot be behind us, because our destiny lies above us.”

interstellar-matthew-mcconaugheyOn the other hand we have the individual shown as the vehicle that will save humanity again and again.  It is Cooper’s courage and ingenuity that is needed and repeatedly saves the mission.  It is Amelia’s faith and hope that allows her to push through and start a new Earth somewhere out there in a far away galaxy without knowing that Cooper will soon be there to help her. And of course it is Murphy who is not only smart enough to figure out the riddle given to her by her father and what humanity will become…but it is very telling that even our future selves believe in the power of an individual, in the mind of a single woman to save humanity.  Even while in the Tesseract TARS expresses doubt in the ability of one person to solve the problem, and Cooper very clearly points out that it is possible for a single person can solve the riddle…but Cooper echoing his belief in the potential, shows that an individual person as a bridge and an individual person as a scientist have the potential to save humanity.  And this is especially poignant given that Murph was set by her school to be nothing but a farmer and by Prof. Brand to be nothing but a failure…or again in Nolan’s words from another work that apply quite well to Murph, “What if a child dreamed of becoming something other than what society had intended?  What if a child aspired to something greater?” They can save everyone, as we see over and over again in Nolan’s films.JESSICA-CHASTAIN-INTERSTELLAR

But what allows all of these individuals to be, is a strong connection to family.  I have to say that Nolan is a rarity in literature of any kind, a writer whose main characters all have healthy relationships between parent and child (honestly, show me an author who has a good relations between a parent and child as those between Thomas and Bruce Wayne, Alfred Borden and his daughter, Clark Kent and all of his parents, Cobb and his children, and now Cooper and Murph.  Most works are filled with angst and tension between parent and child, but refreshingly not Nolan).  Now I point this out as a conservative theme because it does show the correct attitude to family that is so often lacking.  Social “conservatives” (or as I like to call them Progressives for Jesus as they are not conservative in the least and would love to have a big government to enforce their own Christian of Sharia) have this perverted view that life, society, existence itself begins and ends with the family.  The point of marriage, sex, society is only to have children, raise them, and repeat the cycle.  You should notice that this hopelessly dull view of existence is basically the one shared by people like Prof. Brand who only is concerned with saving humanity in the sense of it’s genetic material…but we see in Interstellar a much more conservative view of the family not as something just designed to repeat a cycle but as a vehicle to achieving human happiness.  Cooper is first and foremost concerned with his children developing as people, not just surviving but living.  And this contrasts with his son’s myopic idiocy and Brand’s lying to his own daughter Amelia and his more or less adopted daughter Murph.  The villains of the story are only concerned with keeping their family intact as if the status quo is the only thing to worry about, they have no concern for the quality of life, only the quantity—a typical liberal perspective.

“Love is the one thing that transcends time and space.”amelia

And the bond that connect family is of course love.***   Love is at the heart of this film. While the individual is paramount for this story, it is the love between individuals that ties people together. Nolan never quite crosses into the realm of the spiritual in his films, but be it the nature of the dream in Inception or price of a soul in The Prestige, the spiritual is always hanging around the edges of his movies, gently influencing the theme (like hanging out behind a bookcase).  And here it becomes even more present than in any other Nolan film.  Love is seen to be like gravity in this film a force that transcends the laws of relativity and quantum mechanics (which is actually how thought seems to relate to physics…and to equate thought to love can’t just be a complete coincidence in a movie written by Nolan, a writer director/writer so careful with little details like this).  Love is vindicated as had they made the choice from love that Amelia proposed they would have succeeded without losing anyone else. And love is the force that the future of humanity uses to save it’s own past (which suggests that unlike every sci-fi vision of an evolved humanity, we have not left love behind but rather come to a far greater understanding it…if that’s not a spiritual message, I don’t know what is).

And if that isn’t enough, there is of course the central theme of the greatness of America (the nation that puts the individual and family at the forefront).  As always in a Nolan film America is shown for all its greatness…in this film it is no different.  We see that the people we are supposed to hate are tearing down the greatest moment of American history, namely that we walked on the moon.  We see the quintessential American pastime, baseball, being something loved by Cooper and Murph but also the sport that we take to space with us.  And of course take a look at the last scene, a scene about hope and adventure, where Amelia has set up a second Earth and we are left to imagine the future that she and Cooper will create on this new world…the last scene is of Amelia’s recently set up camp with the America flag center of screen blowing in the wind.

interstellar bookshelf

A final question what is it with cornfields?  Field of Dreams, Signs, Interstellar, Children of the Corn…Nothing ever comes out of a wheat or barley field…why is it always corn?

*Batman Begins is The Aeneid, The Prestige is Faust, The Dark Knight is Othello, Inception is the story of Theseus and Ariadne in the Labyrinth, The Dark Knight Rises is A Tale of Two Cities.  Even Man of Steel which was written and produced by Nolan is at its core an attack on Plato’s Republic.

**On two viewings I have noticed references to Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, 2001, Stargate, and Star Wars.  I’m fairly sure another viewing or two will reveal Star Trek and

***Just wait until I show that the central theme of each of the last seven Nolan movies has each movie tied directly to one of the four cardinal virtues or three theological virtues.

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Licensing and the government need to get rid of opportunities to employment

government license

Taxes, regulators, fees, bans on perfectly safe products, and myriad of other BS from the government. But among all of the asinine things that the government does, there is possibly nothing more idiotic than requiring licenses for certain professions as one of the most idiotic things that is specific to states.*

Now there are a myriad of stupid examples. Requiring hairdressers to get a license (because clearly you couldn’t cut or style hair without permission from the state) or requiring yoga instructors to get a license…because the government needs to regulate if the person telling you to move slowly is qualified or not…just ask this question, think of the dumbest yoga instructor you’ve ever met, now think of the smartest DMV employee you’ve ever met. I think we all know in this contest that the yoga instructor is not only a nuclear physicist in comparison, but they’re probably also not the Gestapo-wanna-be that the dumb psychos at the DMV tend to be (in case you’re wondering I live in Arizona and don’t have to renew my license until I’m 65 so I feel quite comfortable saying that everyone at the DMV is a worthless sack of shit)*. So in what universe do we think the functionally retarded people in government are in any way qualified to tell anyone else if they’re qualified for a job?

From government enforced cabals that prevent basic services being given at a reduced price to the poor…

to government efforts to actively destroy small businesses and innovation


Government attempts to license and regulate business is not only stupid it is evil.

But let’s deal with the issue I’m most familiar with… teaching. Let me give you the run-down of how much you have to do to get and keep your teaching license. You have to get a B.A. Okay so far. You have to get a finger print clearance from the state (basically you have to have the F.B.I. run your prints to make sure you’re not a felon and shouldn’t be around children). Still okay, but sadly we haven’t even come close to finishing. Now you need to complete education courses in addition to your undergraduate degree…this might seem fine if it were on classroom management, child psychology, and maybe some curriculum design…but what teaching programs are often chock full of is education history (not the useful kind), education theory (the kind that wants to talk about oppression, and class warfare, and inequality…the kind of bullshit that will make you yearn to the conservatives of a Tumblr Social Justice Warrior). Oh and then the state is going to test you on your field of knowledge, on teaching theory, and of course general knowledge (wait didn’t I have a B.A.)…keep in mind you’re paying for all of this out of pocket. Then you get to take a couple of courses on “Structured English Immersion” theoretically courses on how to teach non-English speakers language…but not one single shred of it is useful. The last time I went to my S.E.I. course, after shelling out several hundred dollars, they handed us a packet that the most recent research listed was from the Bush administration (no, not W.) but had the audacity to tell me this was all based on the most recent research. Really? Because anyone up on the most recent research knows the problem of education research is that it doesn’t ever want to seem to be reproducible. So I don’t see how this is cutting edge research. Oh, then to keep your teaching credential you have so many hours of “professional development” to complete every few years. The stated purpose of this is so that you can learn new and effective ways of teaching…but as someone who has sat through hundreds of hours of “professional development” I can tell you there is nothing professional about a meeting that covers teaching methods so stupid no self-respecting teacher would ever suggest them to students—except maybe as a joke—not to mention the fact that the most interesting professional development I have ever been to still made me question if slitting my wrists right there and ending it all might not be a better call than sitting through one more second of that idiocy. You know the expression “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” Well I’m not sure that’s always true…but I can tell you that “Those who can’t teach, teach teachers.” Professional development is nothing but a money making scheme to make schools pay teachers for days off and to bilk that same money out of teachers to go to the cronies of the law makers who passed the laws in the first place. Oh and then this encourages teachers to get their Masters and Ph.D.’s. Let me state something as an immutable fact. GETTING YOUR M.A. or Ph.D. in Education HAS NEVER, EVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE MADE ANYONE ON EARTH A BETTER TEACHER. It is the most bullshit of bullshit degrees. The mythical degree in underwater basket-weaving is more useful than a M.A. in Education. And you get to pay teachers more who have it. In my experience the people with M.A.’s in Education are statistically worse teachers than their B.A. holding brethren…and if you meet someone with a doctorate in Education: RUN. They know less than nothing about their craft. Why because they would rather have spent their time getting a worthless piece of paper than working with their students.

A B.A. and a fingerprint clearance card that’s it. Then hire and fire the teachers based on performance. That is all you need to do to get good teachers. And all the bullshit of the above paragraph doesn’t keep good teachers…it repulses good teachers and only the most psychotically dedicated and those who know they cannot survive in the free market on any other skill are willing to continuously jump through those hoops.

But it’s not just teaching as the above links and video show, it’s everything. Government is out to control who can and cannot be this or that profession.

Do you know why many people left Europe and came to America in the early days? Because in Europe there were Guilds that required people to work as apprentices (read: slaves) for members of the Guild for numerous years before you could become a member of the Guild. If you were not a member of this or that Guild you could not legally practice that profession. It was the exact opposite of liberty. And while not as strict a caste system as India at the time, it pretty much guaranteed that whatever profession your parents chose to sell you as an apprentice to was your profession for life.
And this licensing idiocy that modern government is getting into is worse because it’s not just once you’re in a profession you can stay there…no our modern government keeps coming back saying you have to buy into the this or that training program they have created through law. There are mafia protection rackets that are less arduous.

We need to get the government out of licensing. All licensing. As Milton Freidman pointed out the government shouldn’t even be in the business of licensing doctors and lawyers—and if government has no place in those professions it has no profession in any business.

And what will be the result? More social mobility. More money for everyone. More competition…and by extension lower prices and better products and service.

Get the government out of all licensing.

*Okay there could easily be more idiotic things (and I’m sure there certainly are)

*You don’t even want to know my thoughts on the IRS.

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It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, the Greatest Halloween Film Of All Time

“Ohh, you didn’t tell me you were going to kill it!”

So are the first words of this great half hour Halloween special that defines Halloween.

As all right thinking people know, on Halloween night the Great Pumpkin rises from the pumpkin patch that is most sincere, flies around the world and gives presents to all the children of the world.


One of the reasons this is the best Halloween film is because this is in the end a holiday for children, or at least the inner child in all of us. It is a holiday based on make believe and imagination (which is why so much of it is dedicated to Snoopy’s always over active imagination). Halloween has been stripped of any religious (pagan or otherwise) trappings it once had and is now only a night of imagination. A night when we can be anyone we imagine (although there may be something of a Freudian-slip in our choices, as in Lucy’s choice to be a witch while saying a Halloween costume should be the opposite of your personality). It is a night to bring out our fears and hopefully confront them (which is why there are so many monsters in the choices of the Peanut’s costumes). It is, and always will be a night of meaningless fun, which is why Peanuts embody the holiday better than any horror film.

Why else do I love this, because I love Charlie Brown. Every place he goes to trick or treat he gets a rock. Does he complain? No. Does he whine? No. Does he demand the others share their candy with him? No. He simply states a fact and stoically accepts. Compare this to Sally’s whining about getting to spend a night with her beloved Linus, threatening to sue, demanding restitution just because she didn’t get to see the Great Pumpkin. The Occupy Wall Street thugs could learn much from Charlie Brown.

And of course there is Linus’ unshakable faith in the Great Pumpkin. It’s admirable, although slightly misplaced on this holiday, and makes us all want to believe in the Great Pumpkin. And even though he has yet to see the Great Pumpkin he still believes–You have to love him for it.

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Greatest Films of Halloween #2 Cabin in the Woods

Ok, I’m drawing a line in the f!@#ing sand. Do NOT read the Latin!


As it was probably made clear in my review of Halloween movies, I have great contempt for most horror films.  Cheap, predictable, cliché and recently little more than torture porn.  Especially the “let’s go somewhere remote where a monster of some kind is going to kill us all” variant.  And Joss Whedon apparently hates this cliché as well.

It really shouldn’t come as too much of a shock.  This is the Joss Whedon who got so tired of seeing the ditzy blonde cheerleader with the silly name die at the hands of a monster, he gave her a stake, some brains, and the name Buffy, and let her tear through the monsters.  But he seems to be a bit more vicious in his critique of what the horror genre has devolved into over the last decade, completely disregarding his proof that horror can be intelligent and witty and more than just gore and blood.

It appears he, along with longtime Buffy writer Drew Goddard, wrote Cabin in the Woods to drive the stake home that horror movies are getting just stupid.

Short version, every trope and cliché is made fun of.  Almost every version of the story is lambasted.  College students go on a trip to the cabin in the woods, get stopped by the creepy gas station attendant who basically screams at them to turn back, go into the cellar of the cabin which just conveniently opens on its own, call up a group of redneck pain-worshiping zombies (which is very different from just normal zombies) and get picked off one by one in true archetypal fashion—the blonde over sexed whore goes first, then the fool, the athlete, the scholar, and of course finally the virgin (“we work with what we have”).

But this isn’t your standard horror torture porn film.  No this movie is actively making fun of the kind of idiot who read the Latin from the diary of the religious lunatic bent on worshiping pain which is kept in the creepy cellar…because that seems like such a great idea.  It insults a group of kids who don’t turn right around when the outside of the cabin looks exactly like the cabin from Evil Dead and on the inside has the mounted head of a wolf, a picture of the slaughter of a ram, and the mounted horns of a hart (and if you know Joss Whedon’s work, you know the wolf, the ram and the hart are a very, very bad sign) not to mention the creepy one way mirror and the cellar of horrors…again why didn’t we turn around?  Cabin in the Woods also makes it clear that this grouping of one of each archetype never actually occurs unless you seriously drug half your cast to act in a way contrary to their normal behavior.

“Cleanse them. Cleanse the world of their ignorance and sin. Bathe them in the crimson of …Am I on speakerphone?”

It also makes fun of every other kind of horror film out there.  The recent spate of Scandinavian horror films that go beyond all good taste are labeled as a total failure from almost the first moment.  The Japanese horror film, where no one has ever survived any incarnation of, is lambasted by finally letting everyone survive the Japanese horror film (how hard is it to kill nine-year-olds?).

Until you’ve seen the movie you don’t realize how hilarious this picture is…Kevin? The Sugar Plum Fairy?

It makes fun of the filmmakers.  The film makers who bet that we’ll go see yet another crappy zombie film are lambasted as boring and unoriginal and the filmmakers of crappy scifi movies which pull out obscure monsters no one cares about are even more humiliated by their choice of stupid monsters.  Not to mention it tears into the tediously formulaic way that these movies progress through as if it’s some kind of ritual that must not be deviated from, even in dealing with the order in which victims must be killed (honestly, when was the last time you ever saw the virgin die first?) or how no matter who is involved, be they bright or stupid, everyone always does the dumb thing and splits up.

And most of all it makes fun of the audience for their perverse need to watch the stupid movies that the horror genre has become.  From the obsessive need to see naked women (which is hit both with seeing all the technicians crowded into the control room to get a glimpse, and again with Hadley’s enthusiastic “score.”)…to the fact that the audience of this genre is constantly being mocked for believing such preposterous situations…and in the final dig for comparing the audience to absolute evil for it’s insatiable need to see such suffering offered up to us as if it was a sacrifice that we demand.  The film closes with a not too subtle call for the audience of this genre to rise up and demand that this cycle of crappy movie end once and for all as they don’t provide anything.

As with any Joss Whedon work every scene is full of wit and humor (even the violent ones) and a whole mess of allusions to other works (at some point I’m going to have to go through the last act and look for every reference they make, because Goddard and Whedon seemed hell bent on referencing every horror film ever made).  The problem is that the first time I went to see this movie the audience I was with clearly understood this was a comedy and was laughing at all the digs at the genre…the second time I saw it the audience clearly came for a horror movie and didn’t get the fact that their genre was being humiliated (it was odd, I was one of the maybe 5 people laughing at every scene).  So the expectations you go in with drastically affect your appreciation of the film.

The main question I get about this movie, from those who are not fans of the horror genre is: is it violent and gory? Yes and no.  It has blood and tension and some gore.  But compared to a lot of films in the genre it’s quite tame.  Personally I would put it on par with one of the Scream movies in terms of gore, maybe a little worse.  (Except for the fifth act where they’re throwing around blood by the tub full…but really that’s more farce than horror.)  If you’re really squeamish, even the humor might not be enough to overpower what gore there is…but I still suggest you should give it a try.

“Good work, zombie arm.”

The wolf

cabin in the woods 03

The Ram

cabin71

And if you look closely those are the antlers of a Hart on the wall.

cabininthewoodstitle

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Greatest Films of Halloween #3 Psycho

“People always call a madhouse “someplace”, don’t they?’Put her in someplace!'”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to sound so uncaring.”

“What do you know about caring? Have you ever seen the inside of one of those places? The laughing, and the tears, and those cruel eyes studying you? My mother there? Oh, but she’s harmless. She’s as harmless as one of those stuffed birds.”

“I tried to mean well. ”

“People always mean well. They cluck their thick tongues, and shake their heads and suggest, oh, so very delicately! Of course, I’ve suggested it myself. But I hate to even think about it. She needs me. It-it’s not as if she were a maniac — a raving thing. She… “

This is one of those movies like The Sixth Sense, if you didn’t see it when it first came out then all the mystery is lost because everyone knows what happens. So we spend the first 40 minutes watching Janet Leigh as Marion Crane steal $40,000 of her boss’ money (That’s in 1960 dollars, so it’s closer to $300,000 today…which is still kind of a flimsy number to risk your whole life on). We watch her in a paranoid stupor, constantly afraid that she will be caught and sent to prison. Fantasizing about how everyone knew and was tracking her down. I can only imagine if the original audience thought the title was in reference to her truly stupid choice of stealing the money. But of course, we all know that it’s not. It has to do with very poor choice of motels to stay in. The Bates Motel. With proprietor Norman Bates. And mother (She just goes a little mad sometimes…). And even then we might have thought that Norman might just have been a twisted plot point designed for Janet Leigh’s personal trip through hell…but then she decides to take a shower.

Norman Bates. Anthony Perkins does almost too good a job as Norman. How do I know he does too good a job? Because he never got another major role ever again. One moment he’s the stuttering, insecure, passive, weak one moment…the next all too forceful, all too dark, all too accusatory…and that’s when he’s still being Norman. (There might be someone who doesn’t know the story so I won’t clarify that).

I usually don’t talk camera angles and cinematography because, one, I understand most people aren’t interested in those aspects of film on a conscious level and, two, because most directors aren’t good enough to use them in a way that shows anything near an above average skill with a camera. But this is Hitchcock. Hitchcock who will use only three different pairs of angles in the conversation between Marion and Norman, each pair more and more sinister. Stuffed birds of prey and carrion eaters in the background. Pictures whose names all include the word “Rape.” You have to admire the attention to detail to cause you to be disturbed on both a conscious and subconscious level. And of course the shower scene. Go through it sometime frame by frame, you see nothing, and yet it’s done so well that even though you never see the knife go into flesh it’s far more horrific than most slasher films today. Hollywood would do well to learn from this less is more example. But nothing compares to the look through the Bates house at the end of the film. Each shot of a seemingly innocuous item. A child’s bed. A record. A dress. An indent in the bed. Each on their own meaning nothing. But together giving us a horrifying glimpse into the life of Norman Bates if we have the courage to think about what each one of them means.

And then there are the little things that make this movie so spine tingling creepy. “A son is a poor substitute for a lover.” is just one of a few lines with the disturbing incestuous overtones. And then there are the suggestions of child abuse and pedophilia, grave robbing, necrophilia, the fact that Norman knows what the inside of a madhouse sounds like and that he cleans up a murder scene with the skill of a pro. The movie implies a lot of horrifying things without saying them.

And there’s this trailer…it’s seductively creepy…but so much worse when you know everything he’s referring to…

…and by always referring to the murderer as “she” he kept the doubt and suspense going not just through the first half hour with wondering how far over the edge Janet Leigh might go…but…well again as there might be someone who missed this classic I won’t reveal too much.

And tomorrow, All Hallow’s Eve, the two greatest Halloween films of ALL TIME…

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Greatest Halloween Films of All Time #4 The Silence of the Lambs

“Well, Clarice – have the lambs stopped screaming? “

Believe it or not Anthony Hopkins is in this 2 hour movie for only 16 minutes. Only 16 minutes of Dr. Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter. A slight bit over one eighth of the film. But he seems to be in every scene. And what makes him so creepy is how oddly polite he is, even when being horrifically evil his demeanor is always calm and somehow considerate. What is so frightening about Lecter is that he isn’t easily placed in a box. He isn’t the devil who is evil for the sake of evil, all the violence he commits in the film is directed with the goal of achieving freedom (not that this makes it forgivable, but it isn’t evil for evil’s sake). He’s not a psychopath (like the other serial killer in this film) who acts in an irrational manner he’s quite rational in everything he does. He’s not a sociopath as he seems to have great empathy for Clarice, wanting to help silence her inner demons (although he replaced the screaming of the lambs in her mind, so I’m not sure if that’s a step forward). As Clarice says “They don’t have a name for what he is” because something as self-contradictory as Lecter doesn’t, probably can’t exist, but the fact that we can’t wrap our minds around the layers of contradictions that define Lecter is what makes him so disturbing. (Harris did a great disservice to his character with the back-story that tried to explain Hannibal in “Hannibal Rising.” He was far more horrifying when we couldn’t understand him).

I remember seeing this movie when it first came to VHS (just spelling those letters seems so long ago) at the time it was the most disturbing thing I had ever seen…it’s sad that re-watching it now it comes off as tame compared to some of the movies that come out now (which is a sad statement about how Hollywood has degraded into just cheap thrills).

There are no more supernatural monsters in this list…why? Because the supernatural in many ways is comforting, it allows an excuse for the terrible things they do, they’re just that way…but human beings being that perverse…that’s so much more frightening. We may not ever see the likes of Hannibal the Cannibal in real life, but there are sadly just a few too many in the vein of Buffalo Bill for comfort and that’s what makes this movie so terrifying an evil we can’t understand and one we can understand all too well…

…and that’s also why we like Clarice she is willing to both stare in to the abyss, let it stare into her, and not become the monster she fights…


Up tomorrow…well, we all go a little mad sometimes… followed of course by the single greatest Halloween movie ever made. The one movie that no Halloween is complete without…

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Greatest Films of Halloween #5 Dracula (1992)

“How did Lucy die? Was she in great pain? ”
“Yeah, she was in great pain! Then we cut off her head, and drove a stake through her heart, and burned it, and then she found peace. “

I would argue that of all the versions of Dracula out there this is the closest yet to the original book. Dracula by Bram Stoker is probably the 2nd best horror novel in history (the best being Stephen King’s It, but there are not good movie versions of It). As a side note there is only one correct way to read Dracula: with a group of two or more people, taking turns reading it aloud by candle light, preferably on Halloween night. But enough about the book and how this is the only film version where the screenwriter seems to have looked over more than the Cliff notes one page overview…

Why is the movie a great Halloween film?

Gary Oldman as Dracula is just creepy. As the pale and creepy old man. As the bat/wolfman thing. Even as the regenerated younger man he still has that horrifying magnetism. For the most part he revels in his debauchery and villainy. The slight problem is that the screenwriter and director did humanize him a little too much. This is not the creature of the night hell bent on world conquest and destruction–this is more a tragic figure who through loss and pain has come to hate the world and wants it to suffer if he has to suffer. And this is kind of the weakest point of the movie…they tried to humanize him, give him a actual relationship with Mina Haker, bring some human drama into the story and have a title character who wasn’t just a lecherous piece of scum and embodiment of all the dark sides of sexuality (keep in mind vampirism is in many ways a metaphor for rape, for venereal disease, for lovers who use and abuse women). Still Dracula is a villain in this film (especially his shadow which seems to have a twisted Peter Pan thing going on, creeping up on people when Dracula himself is stationary).

Oh and then there’s Keanu Reaves. Sometimes I will actually defend casting Keanu in certain movies (Much Ado, Matrix, Lake House); however, this is not one of those cases. Coppola was going for that bland emotionless look that the Victorian middle class so admired…but it doesn’t work in a story of good versus evil.

But this is made up for by Anthony Hopkins’ Abraham Van Helsing, He’s a little crazy and certainly enjoys his job as vampire hunter way too much. But he is the only one in this film without fear; he actually enjoys pitting himself against the forces of darkness. It’s good he found something he enjoys. Van Helsing in the novel had an offbeat sense of humor, but Hopkins takes it to a wonderful extreme.

But overall the movie is true to the book (at least by Hollywood standards). All the characters which Hollywood usually leaves out are there (especially Lucy’s three suitors), all the main plot points are included (even if they did add some unneeded character development for the Count) and just the general horror of Dracula is there (especially when he’s feeding small children to his vampire brides).

While I wouldn’t go as far as to say that no Halloween is complete without this movie (that only applies to the #1 movie on this list) it does come close.

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Top Ten Films of Halloween #6 Young Frankenstein

“”For as long as I can remember people have hated me. They looked at my face and my body and they ran away in horror. In my loneliness I decided that if I could not inspire love, which is my deepest hope, I would instead cause fear. I live because this poor half-crazed genius has given me life. He alone held an image of me as something beautiful and then, when it would have been easy enough to stay out of danger, he used his own body as a guinea pig to give me a calmer brain and a somewhat more sophisticated way of expressing myself. “

It’s odd that a Mel Brooks slapstick managed to convey the theme of the original Mary Shelley novel better than any other film based on that work (Branagh tried but failed for a lot of small reasons and that big one where he radically changed the ending). But in being true to the novel, Brooks was oddly also faithful to the original Hollywood version by hauling out the original equipment (those really are the original props in the lab) and parodying almost every famous scene from the original film.

But of course there are the differences. Igor (pronounced eye-gore) is of course far more talkative when played by Marty Feldman, although he does seem to have problem reading (“Whose brain was it?” “Abby someone.” “Abby Who/” “Abby Normal.”). And Gene Wilder as Frederick Fronkensteen at times comes off as more mentally unhinged than any previous film version of the original mad scientist. Add in Mars, Garr, Leachman, Boyle, and of course Hackman…

…and you get what is arguably Mel Brook’s finest movie (Blazing Saddles while funnier in many parts has a terrible ending) not to mention one of the 10 best comedies of all time.

I could talk about how the Frankenstein story in all its versions is very much about how giving into the fear of death and trying to avoid it at all costs can only lead to destruction…but this is Young Frankenstein and that might be going just a little far. The same with the story’s warning against need for humility in the face of the hubris of science to feel it shouldn’t have any restrictions placed upon it by ethics and morals…but again such a discussion is really pushing it with this version…and I just can’t say that any other version is worthy of being in a top 30 list. These themes are there because of the source material, but they’re not the focus of Brook’s film.

If this movie is doing anything it’s critiquing Hollywood for turning a story with a thoughtful, articulate creature, with a penchant for quoting Milton and Goethe, (as shown in the quote at the top) into a lumbering, mindless, hulk. Hollywood turned one of the most intelligent villains in literature into an idiot for no reason…and this has been the bane of English teachers ever since as for some reason everyone thinks the Hollywood version is the truth. (If only Brooks had shown the same skill when critiquing Hollywood’s vision of Dracula).

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