Town and Country

Though born in a sizable city, Portland, Oregon, I am grateful to have been raised in the country. Even when we moved back to Portland while I was in Junior High School, it was not Portland per se, but a rural suburb. The sense of connection to the land and love for it that I grew up with have only been reinforced by the intervening years and travels. It is at least partly a sense of reverence and appreciation for God’s creations, but it is also an appreciation for the character that country life fosters. Like most things, this turns out to have political implications as well.

Victor Davis Hanson explored this concept in an essay linked below. It is well worth reading, not just for the political explanation, but also for the historical references:

http://www.city-journal.org:8080/html/trump-and-american-divide-14944.html

Merry Christmas, After All

The Leftists continue to rant and rave about the election, Clinton continues to blame everyone except herself, and the climate crackpots continue to carry on despite record-breaking cold. (Oh! That’s right, any old weather “event” will do since they changed it from “global warming” to “climate change”.) In other words, things are continuing today pretty much as they were yesterday. But there is one big event in the offing, namely, The Trump Presidency, which we hope will fundamentally reverse all that fundamental transformation that the last eight years inflicted upon us. Hope and change indeed! Those had to wait for the American people to find an unlikely champion in a New York billionaire.

More important than any of that is the event we celebrate next Sunday, the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Promised Messiah. May we all take time to remember Him and re-commit to follow His teachings and imitate His example. May we enjoy the company and fellowship of family and friends, enjoy the trappings of the season, enjoy the good food, and thank merciful heaven for our abundant blessings.

Here is a wonderful video depiction of The Nativity:

https://www.lds.org/bible-videos/videos/the-nativity?lang=eng

 

Best Wishes and Merry Christmas!

 

A New World Order

Niall Ferguson has published a brilliant and insightful essay on foreign policy in which the prospects for international order in our day are compared to those of Roosevelt. No, not that one, Teddy. Though long, it is well worth reading.

Donald Trump’s New World Order

 

Understanding Propaganda

The disgusting bias of the major news media in the recent election may give us pause to consider the difference between journalism and propaganda.

Those of a certain age will recall classes in school–yes, public schools–about how Nazis and Communists and other -ists manipulate their messages to mislead the masses. That was during the height of the cold war and was important so the American people could more easily discern truth from error. More recent generations have not been given such information, just as they have long since stopped hiding under desks during air-raid warnings.

In the end, all such tools, just as the -isms which use them, are means to a common end: the exercise of power by one group over another. This was one of the themes of my book, All Enlisted, and is perhaps the dominant theme of all history.

An excellent review of how journalism becomes corrupted follows:

http://thefederalist.com/2016/11/21/journalism-turns-propaganda/

 

Almost Election Eve

This election has become a bitter and desperate battle for survival of the most utterly corrupt figure ever to occupy the national stage and the so-called “elite” politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists, media, and academics who support her. That includes a sizeable number of Republicans who care more about their perks and privileges than their duty and honor. You may not have wanted Trump as the leader of the charge against this cabal, but there he is, doing well and speaking right. We will hope for the best. Following is a quote from my book, The Federalist, Excerpts With Commentary, 2nd edition, first Madison, then my commentary:

 

LXXI. THE DURATION IN OFFICE OF THE EXECUTIVE

The tendency of the legislative authority to absorb every other, has been fully displayed and illustrated . . . The representatives of the people, in a popular assembly, seem sometimes to fancy that they are the people themselves, and betray strong symptoms of impatience and disgust at the least sign of opposition from any other quarter; as if the exercise of its rights, by either the executive or judiciary, were a breach of their privilege and an outrage to their dignity. They often appear disposed to exert an imperious control over the other departments . . .

(T)he best security for the fidelity of mankind is to make their interest coincide with their duty.

 

  1. Arrogance, the Imperial Congress, and the Imperial President

Congress has been particularly aggressive in expanding its power relative to the presidency following periods of presidential embarrassment such as after Watergate, during much of the Carter administration, and during the latter portions of the Reagan and first Bush administrations. This took on a partisan character because of long-lasting, one-party rule in the legislature. How then to explain the lack of congressional assertion of power during the remarkably expansive and repeatedly illegal actions of the Obama years? When controlled by the same party, they presumably agreed with him, but when controlled by the opposing party, why are there no concrete actions, special prosecutors, indictments, etc.? Does an unprecedentedly arrogant, Imperial President intimidate them? Or has Congress become so corrupt they simply want to stay at the trough and not “rock the boat”? Do their personal interests coincide with their duty?

 

Russian Grand Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty

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When the words Russian and ballet are used in the same sentence, we expect something grand; the Russian Grand Ballet company’s recent performance of Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty did not disappoint. Sets were beautiful, costumes stunning, and the dancing uniformly excellent. The Lilac Fairy, performed by Yulia Zakharenko, was especially exquisite. Very tall, taller than the princes, with elegant long arms and legs, she clearly was a prima ballerina and we thought we had seen the star. Only later when Olga Kifyak appeared as Princess Aurora, flawlessly performing the wonderful Rose Adagio, did we realize this company has at least two prima ballerinas, not to mention several others nearly as outstanding.

Most male dancers are there to accent the ballerinas, turn them gracefully, and most especially make sure they are not hurt (“Don’t drop the girl”!), but when Yevgeniy Svetlitsa came flying on stage as Prince Desire, it was clear he is a master of his art and a joy to behold. Now, to have one great male dancer is wonderful, but we were delighted again in a later pas de deux to see Constantine Mayorov performing similar excellent leaps and turns with precision and power.

Great ballet is a display of skill, strength, grace, and artistic sense that requires years of training and on-going practice. To see this familiar tale portrayed in dance to such wonderful music was a delight; all in all, an excellent night out. Our only complaint, our good old Pantages Theater in Tacoma, a classic building filled with faded elegance, needs new chairs. A short performance is fine, but full length performances are physically taxing; perhaps there is a rich patron in the audience somewhere who could do something about it.

If you wish to see beautiful dance at the highest level, consider The Russian Grand Ballet next time they come to America. Alas, you have missed them for this year. They are headed home after a tour that lasted from Sept 20th through Oct 29th–36 performances all over the country, with only 4 days off, a grueling schedule. But then again, they are dancers. I have had the pleasure of associating at least somewhat with dancers and musicians, artists and actors, my entire adult life. Dancers in particular often display an interesting pattern–they may practice all day and perform all evening, then for relaxation have a nice meal and do what? Go dancing!

Reasons For Trump

I grew up on stories of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, Sir Walter Raleigh and Columbus, King Arthur and Sir Galahad. The highest ideal in life for a man is to be a Christian Gentleman, to emulate in our small lives the lives of great ones who have gone before us, most especially the greatest of all, our Lord Jesus Christ. So, when one of my grown daughters asked me after the recent release of that embarrassing 11 year old videotape of Donald Trump whether I still supported him for president, she might have been surprised when I answered, “yes”.

That was not to condone whatever was said on the tape–I have not and will not watch it, but the reports are enough. The fact is that though it has been many years since I was in a locker room, I remember how vulgar and uncouth some of the speech was. I was the quiet, nerdy guy, not one of the jocks who later became businessmen, lawyers, and politicians.

Through the years we have heard many stories and reports of similar embarrassing recordings of vulgar and uncouth language of leaders from FDR to Kennedy to Johnson to Nixon. Usually they are hidden by their friends in the media, unless their carefully timed release can sway an election toward the Democrat. And then, of course, they are all shocked, shocked at such language. Fact is, we are electing a president, not a Pope, and a vulgar and uncouth president may be all that a vulgar and uncouth people can handle.

There are four excellent reasons for voting for Trump:

First, we apply the Bill Buckley principle, “You should vote for the most conservative candidate who can win.” Trump is not a conservative, but he is infinitely better than Clinton, the most corrupt, vile, anti-Constitutional candidate in American political history. No third-party candidate can win.

Next, he has a remarkable talent for hiring good people such as Steven Moore as economic advisor. His lists of Supreme Court candidates, consultants, and supportive admirals and generals is a Whose Who of sensible, experienced, and constitutional thinkers and doers. He hires to his weakness, and is not reluctant to fire when necessary. (Incidentally, any previous Secretary of State would have resigned after the debacle in Libya; any previous President would have demanded it.)

Third, he is a disrupter. Not part of the political establishment and not beholden to the Establishment and their power brokers, he is committed to shaking up what has become an  utterly corrupt federal government which has usurped the powers and rights of the people and the states. His commitment to be the “law and order” candidate is refreshing, especially his most recent vow in last night’s debate to direct his Attorney General to appoint a Special Prosecutor to take action against Clinton for her many crimes. The fear you saw in her and her husband’s eyes when he spoke about it was real.

Finally, he has all the right enemies. Like a majority of my fellow Americans, I have grown to hate the fawning leftist media, the arrogant leftist academics, the violent leftist agitators, the complacent leftist bureaucrats, the rich leftist bankrollers, and the corrupt and haughty politicians of both parties they foist upon us. They call themselves “the Elite.” If they hate him, he has my vote.

 

Best Wishes.

Art Garfunkel, Bridging the Waters

Some very dear friends kindly took us to Art Garfunkel’s recent concert at the Pantages Theater in Tacoma, WA. It was a delightful, very rewarding evening. His was the clear tenor voice that made possible the wonderful Simon and Garfunkel music that those of us of a certain age associate with our high school and college years. But this was not simply a series of old songs re-sung; this performance included newer songs with old favorites, interwoven with the artist’s delightful commentary on life, often in poetic form. (He protested applying that high-sounding term, poetry, to his writings, but since the English Department includes free verse under its definition of poetry, we will too.)

There is a spirit of mature melancholy in Garfunkel’s music and musings. Not the adolescent angst we knew so long ago, but the reflective thoughts and feelings of one who has experienced life, known great success and great loss and success returned again. “Artie” lost his voice in 2009 and labored diligently to regain it. He succeeded well. The result is not only a beautiful voice, but the sense of a great artist who is also humble, a rare and wonderful thing in our age of self-promoting demagoguery.

The greater losses, though, were of loved ones lost in death’s dateless night. Here Garfunkel revealed his love of family and friends: his beloved wife and children, also his intermittent relationship with childhood friend and youthful collaborator, Paul Simon. He also revealed his faith in God and devotion to the more important things of life. As a boy he served as a cantor, and included in the concert a too-brief excerpt of Hebrew a cappella. Even without the touch of echo added by the sound engineer, it was heavenly, an angel’s song.

Garfunkel’s concluding number was a rendition of Bridge Over Troubled Waters which he characterized as a “rehearsal” of a work-in-progress. There was no piano; all his accompaniment was by a very fine guitarist. Nevertheless, this adaptation of an old favorite was simply outstanding, very fine. Standing ovations generally are over-done, but in this case, I was happy to join the crowd in standing for a great artist in the humane tradition. Long may he perform.

Here is a link to his website where you may be able to find a performance near you:

http://www.artgarfunkel.com/

 

Best Wishes.

A Bit of Doggerel

Writing radiology reports all day and realizing that some poor fellow out there will have to read them, one can’t help but want to simplify things. That should mean shorter, more direct and specific words as well as shorter sentences, even fragments. But linguistic habits are hard to break. I find one phrase and word particularly annoying, namely, “osseous structures” and “osseous”, meaning “bones” or “bony” respectively.

 

Osseous Structures

 

My colleagues like the Latin word osseous,

Which I think sounds too ostentateous.

It seems quite preposeous to use that word osseous;

It makes me feel downright pomposseous.

 

I prefer the Germanic word bony,

Which sounds to my ear much less phony.

 

But diction is a sensitive matter,

We all prefer to hear flatter,

Pet words fill heads hegemoniously,

And criticism’s heard acrimoniously.

So this rhyme is meant only gently,

To suggest an edit more aptly,

Suited for reading more simply.

 

I persuaded me, and now perhaps thee,

But how to convince all and each crony?

 

 

Best Wishes.

 

“All the world’s a Stage,” but some stages are better than others: Returning to Shakespeare in Utah

Lisa and I first attended the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, Utah, in 2003 on the recommendation of a friend. (It was called The Utah Shakespearean Festival in those days. I am glad they dropped the –an, which always bothered me. I usually dropped it myself anyway.) We were pleased at the consistently high level of professional theater we found there and promptly became area representatives for the Festival, those local people who talk it up when they can and distribute brochures with schedules and so forth. We went every year for a time, but the last few years work schedules prevented us until this past week: Ah! What a delight to be back!

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Again for logistical reasons, our playlist consisted only of comedies this year (we skipped Julius Caesar and Henry V) namely: Murder For Two, a wonderful production consisting of only two highly talented and versatile actors, one of whom in his time plays many parts; Mary Poppins, featuring excellent music and two remarkable 9 year olds playing the Banks children, and yes, Mary does a fine job of flying; The Three Musketeers, a well condensed edition of the swashbuckling novel; The Cocoanuts, a recent revival of the hilarious Marx Brothers/Irving Berlin musical filled with sight gags and puns (Aristotle notwithstanding, they are very funny); and Much Ado About Nothing, a perennial favorite, very well done and always a joy. Though quite different, the performances were uniformly excellent.

This is the inaugural year of the new Beverly Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts, which houses the Utah Shakespeare Festival on the edge of Southern Utah University campus. It includes the Anes Studio Theatre, an intimate venue for theater in the round and experimental productions; the Jones Theatre, equipped with all the tools any stage manager and director could desire; and the Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre, recreating the feel of the 17th century without the smells. The latter replaces the Adams Memorial Shakespeare Theater, the future of which is unclear. Dear to our hearts, we walked around the old theater and recalled the happy and inspiring times we experienced there, one of which was meeting Fred Adams, the founder of the Festival whose vision led audiences from a temporary wooden platform on the grass in 1962 to the Adams Theater in the 1970s and now to the Sorenson Center. Well done Professor Adams!

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One regret. We missed seeing The Odd Couple, a Neil Simon play starring two of our favorites, David Ivers and Brian Vaughn. It will run September 14-October 22. They are artistic directors now, but we first saw them as actors in 2003 when both played in Much Ado About Nothing. We were immediately taken with their talent. In The Odd Couple they will alternate between the roles of sloppy Oscar and neat Felix, one night playing one, the next night the other. Hmm. Perhaps we will have to find a way to make a run to Cedar in the Fall. For at least two nights.

This is the 400th anniversary of cousin Will’s death. We are grateful his spiritual descendants are alive and well. For more information on the Utah Shakespeare Festival, go to http://www.bard.org/

 

Best Wishes.

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