Saturday Sundry

-Been back from California for a few weeks, trying to make up my mind how to proceed. I’m leaning towards a year or so of paying work and self-production before I invest thirty-five-thousand-plus-expenses for a degree in filmmaking, but I’m not sure.

-My reaction to terrorist attacks are pretty much the same: horrified, angry, sad, but not in the least surprised. You know the old pacifist line “What if they gave a war and no one came?” Well, basically this is what happens: one side shuts its eyes and repeats “If I’m nice to them, they’ll be nice to me” while the other gleefully massacres women and children. Arm yourselves and stay alert; this is going to get worse before it gets better.

-As usual, Larry Correia has an amusing an insightful point of view on current events.  A lot of different subjects covered here, but my favorite quote: “My 150 IQ daughter who wants to become a biochemist hates Bill Nye so much that she wants to someday win a Nobel Prize just so that she can insult him during her acceptance speech.”

-So, I saw that someone from Newsweek posted on Twitter about how the latest ‘Bachelorette’ is a Black woman and wondering whether ‘America is ready for interracial romance.’ Meanwhile, Stanley Kramer directed Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn in Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, which saw their daughter being engaged to Sydney Poitier and which made buckets and buckets of money…fifty years ago. That probably would have been the time to ask if America was ready for interracial romance, which, judging by the box office, it was (also judging by the probably hundreds of successful films, shows, and books featuring interracial romances that have come along since). The fact that leftists in the media (but I repeat myself) are so ridiculously out of touch on this issue would be hilarious if it weren’t so insulting.

-Saw Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 yesterday, and thought it was good. It’s definitely darker than the first one, and I’m not sure how I feel about some of the themes, especially in the context of this day and age (let’s just say that I think ‘Daddy issues’ sums up a lot of the defining aspects of the contemporary world), but on the whole I liked it. There’s some good character development, especially regarding Rocket, and these are just really appealing characters, for all their crudity. Like the first film, it’s a good, solid space opera with some genuinely interesting sci-fi concepts blended in with all the silliness.

-I just realized the next film this summer I’m actually looking forward to is Spider-Man: Homecoming in July. In June we have Wonder Woman (the DCAU is going to have to work hard to win me back, and I don’t really even like Wonder Woman that much as a character, so probably not), The Mummy (because all good horror needs massive city-wide CG destruction. Don’t think this one will make anyone forget Boris Karloff, or heck, even Brendan Fraser. I admit Russel Crowe’s presence as Doctor Jekyll is intriguing, though), Cars 3 (because after Cars 2 turned out to be Pixar’s first real failure, why wouldn’t they keep going?), and Despicable Me 3 (I didn’t even really like Despicable Me one). Oh, well; tickets are expensive anyway.

 

California Impressions

As a lifelong film buff, California has, to my mind, a rather mythical air. Not because that’s where films are made, but because, by and large, that’s where they’re set. Walking around California, therefore, feels rather like walking around in a movie, if you know what I mean. Arriving amid the palm trees, Spanish-style buildings, and mountains, I feel like John McClaine; “****ing California…”

giphy.gif

Thus, though I go in with a prejudiced opinion of blue states (overtaxed and undercivilized), I also went in with a keen interest to actually see the place, or at least as much as a three day trip with no car would allow. My impressions thus far are:

-It’s very beautiful. The weather is more overcast than I expected, but the landscapes are lovely, and it’s nice to see real (though modest) mountains. I am also rather partial to Spanish-style construction. I should definitely like to come back to visit more thoroughly.

-It’s expensive. I checked out some apartment listings; the cheapest one was $900/month, and I’m told that’s very cheap for this part of the country. Plastic bags cost an extra ten cents. Again, “****ing California…”

-There seems to be a lot more effort put into the design of the place, which I appreciate. For instance, on the way out of San Diego, there are just these kind of towers on the off-ramps. Pretty cool.

-The San Diego train/bus station is a converted Church, which is a little sad, though certainly preferable to just having a bland box of building. The ‘SAN DIEGO’ sign on the roof is kinda tacky, though.

-There’s definitely a sense of “We’re CALIFORNIA!” A self-conscious desire on the part of the location to live up to its image. California could not be any more California, if you know what I mean, and it’s well aware of the fact. There’s a whole style and tone to the place that is definitely its own, though in something of the self-conscious manner of a theme park (though nowhere near to the extent of, say, Las Vegas). In any case, the sensation is much more of being in a different country than in just being in a different part of the same country.

My overall impression is that Southern California is basically a giant movie set, complete with hyper-leftist directors and stars. Certainly a cool place to visit, but I doubt I’d care to live there.

Friday Flotsam

-Going to check out the John Paul the Great University MBA in Film Producing next week, in the hopes that it may prove the solution to my employment woes. I figure if I have to do more schooling, I might as well go for something that actually interests me.

-Religion and Economics have this in common: everyone feels qualified to speak of them, whether or not they have any understanding of either. The result is that no two subjects have inspired more incredibly stupid statements from otherwise intelligent people.

-I find my biggest problem in getting things done is deciding what I should be focusing on. I have so many projects in the works, and have so little idea of which ones might bring success that I’m paralyzed until the day’s almost over and I give up and go read a detective story or play Minecraft.

My Catholic Match post received a lot of positive response, but not all of the kind I would like. A lot of people seemed to think the idea was “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” a notion I loathe and despise. I think there’s a vague notion that men shouldn’t care about how a woman looks, to which I can only answer in the words of C.S. Lewis: Whether it ought to or not, the thing you suggest is not going to happen. It’s kind of like the idea that a man in war ought to go about his business with a heavy heart and a shame face; a crude, childish attempt to apply a good principle. Yes, a man in war should bear his enemies no hatred, and yes, a man should value a woman for much more than her beauty. But beauty is an admirable quality and it’s natural for man to desire it. I think I’ll have to do another post on that subject.

FAN Fiction!

Dipping my toes in the semi-embarrassing, but oh-so-fun world of fan fiction. I believe the below image speaks for itself.

G v MLP2.png

Here’s a sample. Read Part One here (Part Two will be up in a few days):

“So, that’s all I know,” said Twilight as the six friends finished up their cider. “And I couldn’t find one word about any of this in any of my books.”

“I gotta say, Twilight, that’s weird; even for us,” said Applejack. “And you have no idea who this here ‘King of Terror’ is?”

“None whatsoever,” sighed Twilight. “I even asked Sunset, but she doesn’t know anything about it either, so it’s not from her world.”

“And we’ve been combing the library all morning looking for anything that might even remotely be related, and came up with nadda,” Spike said.

“Hm,” said Rarity. “I suppose if it comes from another world, there wouldn’t be anything, would there?”

“But then how are we supposed to prepare for it?” said Twilight. “What was the point of warning us?”

“Apparently, not so that you could read up on it,” said Rainbow Dash.

“Yeah!” put in Pinkie. “If that was it, I’m sure the Shubba-Wubbas would have told you what book to read.”

Twilight elected not to address Pinkie’s pronunciation of ‘Shobijin.'”

“Okay,” she said. “But how will we know how to fight the King of Terror? Or even who he is, or when he’s started his attack?”

“Uh,” said Spike, looking out the window. “I’m pretty sure we’ll know.”

He pointed. The ponies all looked and gasped. A huge shape was approaching at high speeds, beating the air with enormous wings.

“Dragon!” Rainbow Dash shouted. Fluttershy shrieked and dived under the table. Twilight telekinetically pulled her out and the six ran to meet the oncoming monstrosity.

“You think that’s the King of Terror?” asked Applejack.

“It’s certainly scary enough,” said Pinkie.

“But it’s just a dragon,” said Rainbow Dash. “You’d think something from another world would be, you know, different. I mean, we have dragons; there’s nothing special about them.”

“Yes, there is!” said Fluttershy, still trying to escape Twilight’s magic. “They’re terrifying!”

The monster dragon soared lower and lower, making for an empty field about a mile or so outside of Ponyville. The six raced to intercept him. Then Spike realized something.

“Hold on,” he said. “That’s Torch!”

“Who?” asked Rainbow.

“The former dragon lord,” said Spike. “What’s he doing here?”

“So…not the King of Terror?”

“No way,” Spike answered. “Just an ordinary, home grown…giant dragon.”

Fluttershy squeaked in terror.

“Don’t worry, Fluttershy,” said Spike. “He’s…well, he’s not nice, but he’s all right as dragons go.”

“Besides, he’s Princess Ember’s father. You like Ember, right?” said Twilight.

“Yes, Ember’s nice,” said Fluttershy, who seemed comforted enough to at least stop trying to fly away. “I hope her dad isn’t angry about anything.”

The six ponies and Spike galloped into the field before the enormous dragon. Torch was almost as large as Twilight’s whole castle, and he looked exhausted. Not only that, but he was bruised and bleeding from numerous fresh-looking injuries, and his armor was rent and dented in places. His daughter, Princess Ember the Dragon Lord, was riding on the top of his head. The blue-and-gold dragon was considerably smaller than her father; not a whole lot bigger than Twilight, in fact. She soared down to meet them, looking just as haggard at her father, though she was free from injuries. The Bloodstone Scepter that marked her status was still in her hand.

“Spike,” she said. “Princess Twilight. We need help.”

“What is it?” asked Twilight. “What happened?”

“We’ve been overthrown,” Torch growled.

“What?”

“You remember Garble?” said Ember. “Well, he’s back. And he’s…different. Bigger; a lot bigger. And much more powerful! He must have gotten his hands on some kind of magic or something; I’ve never seen anything like it! He just suddenly attacked this morning and overwhelmed us.”

“I don’t understand,” said Spike. “Shouldn’t the Bloodstone Scepter make it so that he can’t do anything against your orders?”

“Yeah, it should,” said Ember. “But it didn’t do anything! He didn’t even flinch when I ordered him to stand down. He just flew right up and attacked my father and…well…”

“‘E threw me about like I was a tiny manticore!” Torch admitted. “Absolutely destroyed me. Never had anything like that happen in a hundred years!”

“I ordered every dragon in the area to help, but all it did was slow him down a bit,” Ember went on. “Finally we just flew for it, leaving him in control of the dragon lands. We came here hoping you could help us.”

“Of course!” said Spike. “We’ll do everything we can!”

He turned to Twilight.

“Uh, which is…what?”

Twilight tapped her chin, thinking. This had to have something to do with the King of Terror…but that couldn’t mean Garble; she’d met Garble before, and he wasn’t from any other world.

“First of all, we should discuss this with Princess Celestia. If Garble’s taken over the Dragon Lands, he’ll be heading for Equestria next. Come on, Ember; there’s something I need to tell you about on the way…”

Gushing about Cyrano on CatholicMatch

Cyrano de Bergerac is one of my favorite pieces of literature, and today I got to write about it. Okay, actually I wrote this piece several months ago, but it was published today and that’s all that counts. 

Yet the truth is that Cyrano exaggerates his own predicament. His other qualities more than make up for his physical appearance in the eyes of women, as well as those of most of men. A poor serving girl is smitten by him like a teenager swooning over a movie star. His comrades-in-arms look to him as their leader and the hero of their regiment. When he performs some great feat of gallantry, as when he marches off to fight a hundred men single handedly, he receives fervent admiration from everyone around him.

Even his enemies, such as the proud Comte de Guiche make little or no mention of his nose, but of his gadfly-like tendencies and willingness to insult them with impunity. It is his own vanity and preoccupation with his perceived disfiguration that is the source of his failure: not his nose.

You see, by playing to his strengths, Cyrano is able to make his defects recede into the background. His wit and courage inspire admiration and envy far more than his nose invites ridicule, if he could only see it.

Announcing my new Website

NS Logo

So, for a while I’ve been meaning to make a dedicate writer / business website for myself to help market my brand and services. Now, after much delay, I’ve finally done that.

I give you Noblesnake.com. 

This is basically a combination portfolio and business site: I provide samples of different work I’ve done, links to my other outlets around the web, and business contact information. It’s also meant to be a place where I can publish works of fiction that don’t seem to fit anywhere else.

To be clear, Serpent’s Den will still be my personal blog, but Noblesnake will be primarily dedicated to business matters and self publication. Go check it out and see for yourselves!

So…What Do I Get for my Income Tax?

A scene from the 1938 Frank Capra classic (pardon my repetition) You Can’t Take it With You. 

The sad thing is, the things listed here would actually be worth paying for. I’d kill to have my income tax only go to pay for battleships and government salaries.

The clip is also interesting for featuring a really incredible set of star-power packed into five minutes of film. That the legendary Lionel Barrymore as Grandpa Vanderhof, the all-but-immortal Charles Lane (who was still making films in the 1990s) as the IRS man, James Stewart as young Kirby, and the inimitable Jean Arthur as Alice. Meanwhile, in the background, you can see character actors Ann Miller, Spring Byington, Samuel S. Hinds, and Halliwell Hobbs.

Amazingly enough, that doesn’t even come close to exhausting the familiar faces in this film: Eddie “Rochester” Anderson (most famous for the Jack Benny Program, and probably the premier Black comedian of the time) is on hand as the shiftless boyfriend of the family maid, hamtastic character actor Mischa Auer is a mad Russian ballet teacher, Edward Arnold is Kirby senior (giving the stand-out performance of the film), Donald Meek is another house guest, and H.B. Warner (one day to be Mr. Gower in It’s a Wonderful Life) shows up as a ruined businessman. And all directed by one of the greatest filmmakers of all time.

Of course, the real point of the above scene is that Grandpa doesn’t need anything from the government. In fact, they don’t need anything from anyone. Interestingly, part of the reason they don’t need anything is because they have the right to private property; Grandpa owns the house in New York City that they live in (truly the past is another country) and can basically do what he likes with it. If he wants to invite any interesting stranger to come and stay, and if they happen to stay for decades on end, well, what of it? It’s his house.

This is a frequent theme in Capra’s works; skepticism of the rich is blended with a strong regard for property rights, because, in Capra’s view, the right to own property ensures individual liberty. The Vanderhof family can do as they like and ask nothing from anyone because they own their own house.

Owning their own property also allows them to be charitable and contribute to society. The Vanderhof’s aren’t idle bums; they (in Grandpa’s words) “Toil a little, spin a little, and have a barrel of laughs.” Everyone produces something, and no one asks for charity (well, except for Rochester’s character, who’s a lovable bum…but so is Micha Auer’s character).

This calls to mind Ephesians 4:28 “He that stole, let him now steal no more; but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have something to give to him that suffereth need,” which brings me to the other reason the Vanderhof’s don’t need anything from the government: faith and family. They support each other, and God supports all of them. Grandpa makes this explicit right off the bat when asked who takes care of them; “The same one who takes care of the lilies of the field,” and further emphasized by the scenes of him offering grace that bookend the story.

Personally, I’m very skeptical of Chesterton’s notion of ‘Distributism.’ Brilliant as he was, he had a glaring blind spot as far as economics were concerned (something he shared with many other brilliant men, including Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. It seems the qualities that make for philosophical genius tend to create gaps as far as economics are concerned). However, as an ideal for individuals, a self-sufficient household that asks nothing and produces worthwhile goods to support itself is something worth striving for. It is a very Christian and Biblical notion; each family supporting itself and providing charity to those in need from its own property, bound together by shared faith and love.

Property, faith, and family are the trinity that allows for individual liberty. In our world, we’ve largely lost all three to the extent that we hardly know what we have lost.