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Klavan On The Culture

Let The Intolerable Boredom Begin!

June 13th, 2014 - 10:57 am


I try to protect my busy mind from useless information: which body hairs the gay friends of newspaper editors are having waxed off; what Michelle Obama thinks I should eat; what feminists have to say about anything. I’ve taught myself to dial it all down to meaningless background noise so it doesn’t distract me from more important stuff, like what’s for dinner. But now and then, in this information-heavy age, you just can’t help finding out something you don’t need to know. And somehow, it’s filtered into my consciousness that there’s some sort of big soccer tournament going on. The World Cup, I’m guessing, since I can’t think of another one.

I saw some headline in the New York Times like, “Let the Excitement Begin!!!” and I thought that must be what it is. And then there are those unbelievably annoying animations on the Google home screen, so yeah, now I’m almost certain. I don’t have to tell you what a boring and offensive game soccer is — no score, no hands, fascist thugs in the stands chanting obscenities and starting riots. If you’re reading this, you can read, so you’re smart enough to figure it out yourself.

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“Arroyo” Now on iTunes

June 11th, 2014 - 2:00 pm
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Jeremy Boreing’s film The Arroyo is now available on iTunes. I made the argument in this space a while back that this well-made micro-budget modern western takes an important step in breaking the left’s monopoly on our culture. No “mainstream” (i.e. leftist) filmmaker was going to tell this story — the story of a lone rancher who takes a stand against the sort of unbridled influx of illegals that’s happening even as I write, and against the sort of government incompetence, wickedness and wrong-headedness that makes the influx possible. It required both economic wit and creative talent to make this movie happen.

Over at Truth Revolt, Ben Shapiro makes the argument that the film predicted the popular insurgency that just unseated Eric Cantor from his congressional leadership post: “As the fallout continues from Rep. Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) defeat in his primary at the hands of unknown economics professor David Brat over Cantor’s support for immigration reform, Boreing’s The Arroyo looks more timely than ever.”

True enough. In any case, there are a lot of good reasons for you to take a look at this picture. For me, the two that come immediately to mind: it’s entertaining and it tells the truth.


Cross-posted at PJ Lifestyle

When Bill Clinton accepted the Democratic nomination for president in 1992, he took enough time out from breaking Biblical commandments to quote Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” The line was a deft jab at his incumbent opponent, the first President George Bush who, when urged to think through the overall direction of his presidency, was said to have responded in annoyance, “Oh, the vision thing!”

Vision was supposed to be Barack Obama’s strong suit, wasn’t it? Hope? Change? “Fundamentally transforming the United States of America”? Certainly, our idiot and narrative-drunk media saw him that way. “We thought he was going to be the next messiah,” said no less a narrative-drunk idiot than Barbara Walters. He was “an enlightened being,” a “lightworker,” said another of these media knuckleheads. And one of the president’s most ardent admirers described him as a man with “a gift.” Oh wait, that was Obama talking about himself.

I haven’t commented much about the Bergdahl swap. Five guys named Moe(hammed) in exchange for the character from Showtime’s Homeland. I’ll leave parsing the good and bad of that trade-off to more expert observers. Surely it’s not a terrific omen for the administration that MSNBC’s Chris Matthews called the deal “nasty,” and “disreputable,” but luckily for Obama, Matthews said that in the privacy of his own show where no one was likely to hear.

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Our great president’s love of freedom and America come shining through as he pays tribute to the heroes of Normandy Beach. Yeah… not this president. But now and then, it’s nice to remember what love of freedom and America look like in a Chief Executive:

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Aside from genre writers, there are only two living American novelists I think are excellent:  Tom Wolfe and Donna Tartt…  and Tartt’s actually a crime writer when you come right down to it. When the Wall Street Journal asked me to name five top psychological crime novels, I listed her powerful 1992 debut The Secret History among that elite group:

Some critics balk at its gravity and sprawl, but I love “The Secret History” for its scope of vision, its precise characterization and its beautiful prose. Richard Papen hopes to leave his working-class origins behind when he enrolls at an exclusive college in Vermont. There, he is soon accepted into an elegant clique that centers on a charismatic Classics professor. But the group’s immersion in ancient culture leads them to a moment of Bacchic ecstasy and murder. Erudite and compelling, the book is at once a riveting crime story and, I suspect, a meditation on the famous snowstorm scene in Thomas Mann’s “Magic Mountain”: a coming-to-terms with the cornerstone of human savagery on which even the greatest civilization stands.

When her second book, The Little Friend, came out in 2002, I just couldn’t get through it. I couldn’t tell whether she was a one-hit wonder or was going through a sophomore slump.

Last year, Tartt, a slow, meticulous writer, scored the Pulitzer Prize with her third novel, The GoldfinchI just finished it. It’s wonderful, worthy of the praise. A riveting picaresque tale of a young boy orphaned in a terrorist attack on the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it follows Theo Decker into adulthood and explores the ways in which trauma can define a life. The prose is beautiful; the scenes so vivid you feel like you’re there; and the characters at once brilliantly original and strangely recognizable. What a talent she is.

Conservatives be warned: there’s one idiotic sentence that attributes the terrorist attack to right wingers. As if. In real life, only Muslims would have done such a thing. I don’t know whether this is a flaw of political correctness or whether Tartt’s imagination has been polluted by the leftist literary world. Anyway, it’s one sentence: it bugged me, but it doesn’t affect the story.

Now. Here’s a bet I want to make, a prediction I want to get down on paper so I can refer back to it and say I told you so. As wonderful as Tartt’s novels can be, I do not believe she will write her masterpiece until she finds Christ. That’s an arrogant and terrible thing to say in some ways. I don’t know anything about the woman’s religious life. Maybe she’s already a Christian. More probably, if anyone made this prediction to her face, she’d laugh it off or hit the roof. But let’s wait and see. I certainly don’t believe great writers have to be Christians! That would be nuts. But I do believe some people see the moral world in such a way (clearly, in my opinion) that only Christ can, so to speak, touch the match to the gunpowder.

As I say, we’ll see. But in the meantime, The Goldfinch is a deep and fascinating read.

Homofascism Should Be Crushed

June 2nd, 2014 - 7:39 am

This blog is — was, shall remain — a friend to gay people. I hope it’s a friend to any person who wants to do whatever gives him joy and hurts no one else.

Many of my fellow Christians tell me that homosexuality is a sin. Maybe so, but it’s not my sin. And on the off-chance the Gospels mean what they say and I will one day stand before the throne of God and be judged on whether I loved Him and my neighbor, whether I did what I could for the hungry, thirsty, sick, weak, enchained…  well, let’s say I’ve got approximately a lifetime’s worth of other things to think about before I start worrying myself over other people’s sins.

Anyway, though our laws are steeped in Judeo-Christian principles, one of those principles happens to be the divide between Caesar and God. We are not, nor are we meant to be, a theocracy. Gluttony is a sin, one of the seven deadlies, but Mayor Bloomberg was still an overbearing idiot when he tried to tell us what sort of sodas to drink. Sin is not the government’s business, no matter what clever rationales you come up with to make it so.

So should gay people be allowed to marry by law? I look at it this way. There are going to be gay people. They are going to have relationships. Is it better for the state that those relationships be brief, brutish and meaningless or committed, affectionate and long-lasting? You figure it out.

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My Pet Peeve: Sweet Music, Stupid Words

May 30th, 2014 - 8:31 am

I don’t have a lot of pet peeves — why would I keep a peeve as a pet? But since this is supposed to be a cultural blog, I’ll tell you a cultural phenomenon that really bugs me: songs with beautiful music that have crappy lyrics. Now remember those criteria…  don’t come back on me and say, “Hey, that song is lovely.” I know it is.  The music is. The music is lovely and catchy and lyrical…  but that’s exactly what makes the crummy lyrics so, so annoying.

Remember this one? Sometimes When We Touch by Dan Hill:

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Really pretty tune but come on!

“Sometimes when we touch, the honesty’s too much, and I have to close my eyes and hide. I want to hold you till I die, till we both break down and cry. I want to hold you till the fear in me subsides.”

I mean, gag me with a spoon! Dan! Danster! Are you a dude or a chick? “I want to hold you… till we both break down and cry?” Bleagh! Does a huggy-wuggy make you weepy-deepy? “I want to hold you till the fear in me subsides…” I’m sorry, check me on this, ladies. If a guy actually said that to you would you 1) laugh in his face and dump him or 2) well, wait, there is no 2…

[My wife says I'd like the song if the sexes were reversed. You know: holding a tremulous girl until her fear subsides...  kind of sexy. But this is exactly why I make my wife live in the basement. Or would, if I had a basement. If she's going to start expecting me to make sense, our marriage is doomed!]

Anyway, later in the song, there’s this gender-non-specific stinker: “I’m just another writer, still trapped within his truth.” Hey, listen, I have that problem too. Mostly, it’s when a little piece of cloth gets stuck in the zipper. Just pull sharply.

Okay, here’s another. Sarah McLachlan, Angel, often called In The Arms of An Angel.

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I know, I know, beautiful song, greatest song ever…  except it’s about heroin! Listen to it! The angel is freaking heroin! People are always posting it with pictures of dead soldiers and lovers and other admirable stuff. It’s not about anything like that. Heroin. It’s about heroin. Who goes around singing pretty songs about heroin? Beautiful music, but the lyrics suck.

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Haunting Melissa Wins Appy

May 28th, 2014 - 12:00 pm

Oh hey, this is really nice. Haunting Melissa, the unique serial ghost story movie told through an iOS app, has won the 2014 Appy Award for best entertainment app of last year. I wrote the script to the film based on a story by me and Neal Edelstein. Neal designed the app and directed the film. It’s extremely cool stuff, very spooky. New installments pop up on your iOS device when the spirit moves them, so to speak, and you’re alerted by creepy whispers. Watch the film with a headset to get the full effect.

Here’s a trailer:

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Got an iPhone or iPad? You can download the app here. It’s free, though there’s a cost for content as you go along. Not much though compared to a movie — and you get a lot more hours of entertainment.


May 25th, 2014 - 8:24 am

Wilfred Owen is considered one of the greatest poets of the First World War. He was killed in action one week before the Armistice, and his poems were mostly published posthumously. His graphic depictions of war’s horrors mark a change in attitude toward World War I and perhaps toward war in general — a turning away from the idea of warrior glory.

In his most famous poem, Dulce et Decorum Est, Owen tells of watching a man die of poisoned gas in the back of a wagon. The scene recurs vividly in his dreams and he concludes:

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin…

…my friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est 
Pro patria mori.

The Latin is from the Roman poet Horace and means, “Sweet and fitting is it to die for your country.”

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Me On Red Eye

May 22nd, 2014 - 4:09 pm

A little excerpt of me on one of the most fun shows on television, Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld. The excellent Andy Levy and smoking Joanne Nosuchinsky and witty Sherrod Small were also on hand.

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You can watch more here.