11. Wonder Woman
Her fresh, All-American face premiered on comic book stands during World War II, making her the greatest enemy of the Axis powers. Daughters of original readers would go on to be inspired by Lynda Carter’s televisual portrayal of the superheroine in the 1970s. The Wonder Woman arsenal includes a dual-function tiara with bracelets to match and the awesome Lasso of Truth. Before there was Lara Croft or a chick named Buffy, Wonder Woman proved that strength could be sexy and gave Captain America a run for his patriotism with her flag-bearing style.
John Phillip Sousa on 33 1/3 blasts from the Hi-Fi — yes, you heard right, “Hi-Fi” — conducted by my flag-waving Grandfather, proudly standing at attention at 8 o’clock in the morning in the doorway of his open garage, wondering why it took us so long to get there. We may have been at the shore, but Memorial Day was not about a barbecue on the beach.
My grandparents lived down the street from my Great Uncle and Aunt. My Grandfather idolized my Great Uncle (his brother), naming his only son after his brother who had spent World War II as a gunner on a Navy ship in the Pacific. Having broken his back before the war, my Grandfather wasn’t able to get into the military during the conflict. Instead, he busied himself crafting knives to send to his buddies overseas (yes, they censored letters, but allowed knives to be carried through V-Mail) with the instructions “leave them in the enemy’s guts and I’ll make you a new one when you get home.”
My grandfather also played a key role in the war effort, one that goes overlooked when we take the time to honor the troops on Memorial Day. Recruited by the FBI in 1940, my grandfather and his father played a key role in the creation of the Iowa Ordinance Plant, the largest shell and bomb loading facility in operation during the war.
In the autumn of 1940, when a fairly isolationist population still dismissed the idea of entering into Europe’s conflict, my grandfather was pulled out of his job as a tool and die maker by two fairly typical FBI mugs. They strapped secret plans for a military facility, designed by Day & Zimmermann, Co., to his body and handed him a train ticket and a gun with the instructions, “Don’t be afraid to use it.” At the age of 23, my grandfather was the perfect cover: “If anyone asks, you’re on your way out west to go to college.” His job was simple: Escort his father, recruited by the government for his skills as a tool and die maker, to San Francisco to convene with a number of highly skilled Americans engaged to prepare America for war.
Editor’s Note: For years now Walter Hudson has been a perpetual inspiration and a joy to edit. His articles, lists, blog posts, and now podcasts dance across the fault lines of politics, culture, and religion with an always encouraging sense of optimism and clarity. See this compilation today here of his most recent podcasts: Ready For An Argument? 15 of Walter Hudson’s Fightin’ Words Podcasts Not To Miss. Also follow him on Twitter here. For more of of his work check out this collection of PJ Lifestyle’s Top 50 List Articles of 2013, which includes several more Hudson hits. This selection of 10 articles here showcases some of Walter’s most popular and engaging pieces. Please consider adding Walter to your list of #ReadEverythingTheyWrite writers. He’s been on mine for some time now…
- Dave Swindle
1. March 2, 2012:
2. May 9, 2013:
3. April 18, 2013:
4. July 17, 2012:
5. July 6, 2013:
6. July 13, 2013:
7. January 29, 2013:
8. January 31, 2012
9. September 2, 2013:
10. March 7, 2013:
Liam Neeson is back in fine form with an old-school whodunnit packaged as an action thriller, Non-Stop. Fans of the over-the-top action style of Taken may wish it had more stunts and less Agatha Christie, but it’s a solid piece of entertainment. Here are five reasons it works:
1) The setup is grabby.
Neeson plays a down-at-heel federal air marshal with a bad attitude and a drinking problem (he takes a belt of whiskey before getting on the plane, then tries to order a gin and tonic when he’s on it) but a kindly way with children. It turns out he’s harboring one of those routine Deep Dark Movie Secrets, but his backstory does both make him easy to identify with and mark him with a possible red flag when, in the middle of a flight halfway across the Atlantic, he starts getting text messages informing him that someone on the plane is going to die every 20 minutes unless $150 million is wired into a specified bank account.
When people do indeed start dying — though none in a way that can be definitely tied to terrorism — air marshal Bill Marks discovers that security people on the ground have reason to believe he is the one hijacking the plane, for his own profit.
The 2014 Chicago Auto Show offers the largest selection of production and concept vehicles of any auto show in the country. Like every other auto maker, Ford is serving up some exciting vehicles, including a reimagined 2015 F-150. But the absolute coolest truck at Ford’s show space in Chicago is bound to bring out the little boy in all of us guys: the Ford Tonka F-150.
Based on an F-150 Lariat powered by a 5.0-liter V8, it gets mechanical upgrades that include a six-inch Pro-Comp lift kit, 20-inch alloy wheels, and a Quiet Tone exhaust system. That’s all well and good, but this truck is all about the style, and it has plenty of that.
It features chunky new bumpers, side cladding, step bars, and a redesigned tailgate all embossed with the Tonka logo; stainless steel billet steel inserts on the grille openings; fender vents; and to top it all off a bulging ram-air hood that’s just short of being cartoony. More Tonka logos are applied to the interior, and the bed is finished with a hard tonneau cover and heavy-duty carpeting.
The Tonka F-150 is available in any color as long as it’s yellow, because anything else would just be wrong. Prices vary by participating dealer, but the conversion listed on the show truck is $22,282 on top of the $50,078 truck it’s built on for a grand total of $72,360.
Ford is collaborating with Tuscany Motors to produce a limited run of 500 Tonka F-150s. The companies produced a handful of the trucks in 2013, and the response to them led to this year’s new run. Sure, they’re a little pricey, but if you can afford to relive your childhood in the coolest possible way, wouldn’t you?
She is an unabashed liberal. In a culture increasingly governed by Marxist Nomenklatura masking itself as “liberal”, conservatives should be bold enough to reclaim that much maligned political descriptor as one of our own. We are, after all, the ideological descendants of classical liberals, making the outspoken once Liberal Democrat, now Libertarian Camille Paglia the perfect match for contemporary politically conservative feminists.
Can’t possibly imagine the lady who, even when she smiles, gives you a look that says, “I know you’re full of s**t,” could possibly fit in the ranks of the right wing? Here are 10 reasons why you need to throw out the stereotypical baby with your lukewarm bathwater thinking and get hot for the fast-talking, heavy thinking, pop culture-loving Camille Paglia.
“The entire elite class now, in finance, in politics and so on, none of them have military service—hardly anyone, there are a few. But there is no prestige attached to it anymore. That is a recipe for disaster,” she says. “These people don’t think in military ways, so there’s this illusion out there that people are basically nice, people are basically kind, if we’re just nice and benevolent to everyone they’ll be nice too. They literally don’t have any sense of evil or criminality.”
“We need a revalorization of the trades that would allow students to enter [manual trades] without social prejudice (which often emanates from parents eager for the false cachet of an Ivy League sticker on the car). Among my students at art schools, for example, have been virtuoso woodworkers who were already earning income as craft furniture-makers. Artists should learn to see themselves as entrepreneurs.”
“…it is capitalism that ended the stranglehold of the hereditary aristocracies, raised the standard of living for most of the world and enabled the emancipation of women. The routine defamation of capitalism by armchair leftists in academe and the mainstream media has cut young artists and thinkers off from the authentic cultural energies of our time.”
“In my view, comparing the evidence of the 20th century, that socialism in a nation ultimately does lead to economic stagnation and eventually of the creative impulse, in terms of new technology and other things.”
My first car was a 1969 Volkswagen Beetle, a semi-automatic in a sort of blue I called “electric powder blue” (clearly not a factory color). It was far from the perfect car – the heat ran constantly, so I had to disconnect it during warmer months and reconnect it when the weather turned cold. The parking brake didn’t work, so I had to carry a chock block with me everywhere I went. When it finally died, it left me stranded on a pretty remote stretch of Highway 78, and I had to hitchhike to the nearest pay phone. But it was a Beetle, and I was proud of that car and look back on it fondly even now.
When Volkswagen introduced the New Beetle in 1997, the company brought out a car that was funky and fun, but it just didn’t exude the same cool as the original Beetle that became an institution. (I honestly thought the car was a bit girly.) The 2011 reintroduction came closer, but it still wasn’t the same.
Now it looks like Volkswagen may be ready to make the Beetle cool again. This week VW has unveiled a concept car they’re calling the “Beetle Dune.”
VW calls the Beetle Dune Concept a “Baja Bug for the 21st century”. Of course, real Baja bugs were heavily modified rear-wheel-drive Type 1 Beetles, fortified for desert racing in Mexico’s Baja California. The front-wheel-drive Dune Concept is an aesthetic statement only, with no desert-strafing aspirations.
The car on the show stand wears a desert-hued paint VW calls Arizona – a yellow-orange metallic – with matte-finished two-part fender cladding on the wheel arches intended to convey a bolder stance than the base Beetle musters. The larger, 19in wheels have increased offset to visually fill the fender openings and push the wheels to the corners of the car, while a custom raised hood and rear spoiler that doubles as a ski rack round out the appearance changes. The Dune does sit two inches higher than the 210-horsepower Beetle R-Line, on which the concept car was based.
Unsurprisingly, VW says the Dune “looks production ready”, since it is basically an appearance package, but the overt hint suggests a production version may come along.
Doesn’t that car just scream “badass”? The Beetle Dune looks muscular, edgy, and much less feminine than the late 90s Beetles, yet it retains that distinctive funkiness that’s always been appealing. This is a new Beetle I could get excited about, and I bet plenty of other Beetle enthusiasts could too.
I have a confession to make: I know far too little about the Vietnam War. My dad served in the Air Force in Libya in the mid 60s, so I don’t have any firsthand accounts of what life was like during the war, and I’m aware of enough to know that most of the films and TV specials I’ve seen were produced from a certain point of view. So, when I received the opportunity to review the new novel The Forest of Assassins by my PJM colleague David Forsmark and Dr. Timothy Imholt, I jumped at the chance to learn something new while enjoying a different kind of literary experience.
The year is 1964. The war in Vietnam is in its infancy, and the top secret Navy SEAL program is new enough that hardly anyone serving there has heard of it. Lieutenant Hank Dillon commands a unit of the elite SEALs in a dangerous area known as the “Forest of Assassins.” Dillon and his men trust each other with their lives, and Dillon believes he knows who else he can trust. We follow Dillon and his team from mission to mission, each one with increasing complexity and precision and greater danger. Dillon leads his men admirably and heroically, but inwardly he expresses his fear for their safety and his worry about the future of the Vietnamese people for whom they are fighting.
I know it sounds like a cliche, but as I read The Forest of Assassins, I felt like I was right there in the jungles of Southeast Asia with Dillon and his men. The violence and bloodshed are vivid and memorable, yet rarely gruesome. The authors’ attention to detail adds so much to the story, and their depiction of life in country kept the plot from feeling like battle after battle after battle.
The Most Controversial Voice Ever in in the History of Recorded Music, Steve Taylor, is Back. And He’d Better Behave. (UPDATE)
Since I gave up hope of ever expecting to hear from Steve Taylor again, I felt a lot better. Because I blame Steve Taylor for pretty much everything.
Sure, I could blame myself for picking up his Meltdown record back in 1984. That was a fateful choice. But I was a kid. How was I to know how damaging that record would turn out to be?
Steve Taylor was already controversial back then. He had debuted in 1983 with a mini-LP (that was a thing in the 1980s, Google it), I Want to be a Clone, that made an awful lot of people mad at him. They had every right to be. In “Bad Rap” he seethed “You save the whales/You save the seals/You save whatever’s cute and squeals/But you kill that thing that’s in the womb/Would not want no baby boom.” Green Peace denounced it, but they couldn’t deny it. In the title song, he mocked “Be a clone and kiss conviction good night/Clone-liness is next to Godliness, right?/I’m grateful that they show the way ’cause I could never know the way/To serve Him on my own?/I want to be a clone!”
Then he did it again, in “I Manipulate.” There was pretty much no one and no issue that Steve Taylor wouldn’t write about. He’s arrogant like that.
To a 14-year-old Christian, Taylor’s mix of art, humor, rebellion, truth and nasal vocals was just too much to resist. “We Don’t Need No Colour Code” beat up on Bob Jones before it was a mainstream thing. The haunting “Hero” took the nice-boy notion of being something more than another corporate type and turned it all on its head. “Meltdown” burned the rich and famous long before the Kardashians showed up to beg for every thinking person’s derision.
Then, there was this hideous cover photo on CCM. It set the magazine publishing industry back 10 years. The music industry almost never recovered.
Steve Taylor taught me that it was possible to be right with God and still have a healthy skepticism for those who claimed to speak for Him, and that it was possible to make a difference in one way or another. What a jerk. I’d probably be rich and own a Gulfstream if not for him.
Taylor’s entire career is littered with wickedness. He ripped amoral state-run education in “Lifeboat” decades before CSCOPE and Common Core showed up. He tore up celebrity cults in “Jim Morrison’s Grave.” Then he got lost in “Sock Heaven.” I followed him the whole time, and even saw him wear a bizarre confetti suit in concert once. But it’s all his fault.
The reason I started caring about issues more than just having a regular job? At least partly Steve Taylor’s fault. The reason I started wanting more from the artists I support than just a good back-beat I can badly dance to? Also partly Steve Taylor’s fault. My collection of Flannery O’ Connor books? His fault too. Have fun Googling that one. The two years I wasted in the Hindu Kush searching for the perfect backup band? Totally Steve Taylor’s fault. The money I blew on yodeling lessons because he made the Swiss mountain call rock star cool? Absolutely, 100% Steve Taylor’s fault. I’ll never forgive him. Neither will anyone who’s ever heard me yodel.
So now he’s at it again. After 20 years of producing hits like “Kiss Me” with Sixpence None the Richer, being the shadowy hand behind the Newsboys (yep, they’re both his fault) and making movies, Taylor is going to inflict himself on the music world again. And I’m ashamed to admit that I’ll be right there with him. I’m already backing his next album on Kickstarter. I can’t help myself. If you know what’s good for you, you won’t join in. But I’m living proof that people who like Steve Taylor never seem to know what’s good for them.
Update: I’m not sure yet who deserves the most blame, but they’ve made their goal. There WILL BE another Steve Taylor album.
We're all slightly in shock at the size and speed of your generosity. I'll send out a video update later today. http://t.co/Am5B7kGwgh
— Steve Taylor (@theperfectfoil) November 27, 2013
Everyone should try to emulate The Dude, the main character from the Coen Brothers’ cult classic The Big Lebowski. He’s a loyal friend. He’s adventurous. He puts others above himself. He’s virtuous.
And he is sustained by community.
Some might say, “But isn’t The Dude unemployed?” Well, yes. But viewers of the film will notice that Jeffrey Lebowski, the rich man who shares The Dude’s name, is successful, famous, powerful — and alone. Slacker Lebowski, who admits that he keeps busy with Krameresque odd jobs, is living a more human life than his counterpart.
And that’s why studying The Dude can help us combat the problems of our modern world.
We’re living in a paradox. We’re connected — perhaps more so than ever before — but we also, by choice or not, spend much of our time alone. The family continues to disintegrate. We maintain friendships through Facebook and the phone, but we recoil when we meet someone new. We prefer to stay attached to our devices, because they can help us avoid the awkwardness of genuine interaction.
And this is not a new problem. Many of us are trapped by romantic notions of individualism, forgetting that human beings are defined by their friendships and associations. I should know. Since graduation, I’ve worked as a freelance writer. And I’ve spent much of my time plopped on my couch, typing away on the laptop. Sometimes, during the day, my only interaction with others can come from social media.
It’s something I must stop.
I need to get out during the day — whether that means I go get coffee and introduce myself to someone new, head into the city and catch a show, or go to the mall. Anything will help. After all, stories come from lived experience. Locking yourself away and expecting to pen the next brilliant novel or essay or poem is crazy — which is why so many of the Romantic-era literati literally went insane.
But it’s not just me. Too many of us prefer to spend the evening locked inside, racking up the points on Candy Crush or clicking away on Tumblr or zoning out on Netflix. But why not head out with friends to a bar and drink until you’re giddy and then step outside and watch the stars shine as you stumble toward a cab? Why not get a group together and go hiking in the early morning so you can hear the birds sing and see the sun spill a kaleidoscope of colors across the sky as it makes its way higher, higher?
Why not go bowling?
The Dude abides.
This is Week 4 of Season 3 in my new 13 Weeks of Wild Man Writing and Radical Reading Series. Every week day I try to blog about compelling writers, their ideas, and the news cycle’s most interesting headlines.
Just because someone embraces a conspiracy theory it does not mean they are by nature a paranoid conspiracist across the board. I think veteran Republican political operative Roger Stone falls into this category. Normally he writes about men’s fashion and what a horrible person Eliot Spitzer is — subjects I very much appreciate. I also share his enthusiasm for the spirit — if not the policies and morals of — Richard Nixon. It’s tremendously badass that Stone got Nixon’s face tattooed on his back. I think if I ever had a Hangover-style escapade in Las Vegas and woke up with a tattoo it would be something comparable. Though I’d want Nixon’s immortal quote, the most badass ever uttered by a President, accompanying it:
So does that statement also apply to the vice President too?
Stone has a new book out this month with a surprising subject that he wrote about today at PJ Lifestyle: his thesis that the assassination of John F. Kennedy was orchestrated by Lyndon Johnson and the CIA.
How can we tell who was really behind Kennedy’s assassination? Maybe we should look at who was doing the most work to blame Johnson, the CIA, and right-wing American nationalists while obscuring Lee Harvey Oswald’s and Jack Ruby’s Communist connections.
I’ll just let Pacepa and his co-author Professor Ronald Rychlak tell the rest of the story. For the convenience of others in rebutting this Communist conspiracy theory, I’ve decided to make the excerpts a single image. Feel free to share these valuable, hidden facts and do read Disinformation to learn much, much more that will transform how you understand history, culture, and politics:
See my previous link-round up from this week, of stories outside PJM: The 21 Most Evil News Stories from October
PJ Media Story Round Up
PJM Stories Thursday and Friday
Roger L. Simon: God, Lies, and Obama
Which bounces us back to the first factor — that religiously based moral code. Moral codes are almost all religiously based, even to agnostics, and Obama is not immune to this. These codes are imbued in early childhood, by the family and environment.
I suspect that Obama’s core belief — his key religious value, if you will — is an American form of taqiyya — the Muslim dictate that it is permissible to lie to non-believers for the preservation of Islam. He believes in left-wing taqiyya. (Ironically,taqiyya is largely Shiite and Obama wishes to negotiate with Shiite Iran, masters of the lie.)
Now I do not think for a second that Obama is a Muslim any more than I think he is a Christian. He is a typical postmodern agnostic who only goes to church — and then rarely — for political purposes. But he grew up in the Islamic world in the midst of the psychological climate of taqiyya, with preservation of the group taking precedence over even the hint of democracy. And that climate harmonized completely with his other influences — anti-imperialism augmented by Alinksyite methods, themselves anti-democratic.
He never had a moral basis for honesty. Lying, from the Choom Gang through Reverend Wright and beyond, was his lifestyle. And he had the consolation that he was lying for a better good. No one ever told him otherwise. If that goes on for long enough, you lose contact with truth. It becomes almost a non-existent phenomenon, an irrelevancy.
David Solway: Only a God Can Save Us Now
Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa: Lenin, Stalin, Ceausescu, Obama: How Marxist Leaders Conceal Their Pasts
No, glasnost is not a misprint or a typo. During the years I was at the top of the KGB community, glasnost was the code name for an ultra-secret intelligence tool of the KGB’s ultra-secret black “science” of dezinformatsiya. Its task was to transform the country into a monument to its leader, and to portray that leader as god himself.
Every glasnost I have ever known had the overriding task of concealing a ruler’s past by giving him a new political identity. Stalin’s glasnost concealed his horrific assassination of some 24 million people by portraying him as an earthly god, with his icon prominently displayed all around the country. Khrushchev’s glasnost was aimed at building a peaceful international façade for the man who shifted the KGB’s political assassinations over to the West. That was proved by the West German Supreme Court in October 1962, during the public trial of Bogdan Stashinsky, a KGB officer who had been decorated by Khrushchev himself for having assassinated Soviet enemies living in the West.[vii] Gorbachev, who had been a KGB informant when he was studying at Moscow State University,[viii] tasked his glasnost to lead attention away from his KGB past by portraying him as a magician who displayed a flirtatious “Miss KGB” to Western correspondents and pledged to transform the Soviet Union into a “Marxist society of free people.”[ix]
In 2008, when Senator Obama was running for president, his tax policies and voting records showed him as “the hardest-left candidate ever nominated for president of the United States.”[x] Remember? Running as a socialist, however, meant sailing in uncharted waters, and the senator decided to conceal his socialist image by presenting himself as a contemporary Reagan.[xi] After he was elected, President Obama further portrayed himself either as a present-day Lincoln[xii] or a new Teddy Roosevelt.[xiii]
Bridget Johnson: Paul Resolution Demands to Know Why NSA Spied on Pope Francis
Bryan Preston: The Emmanuel Goldstein-ing of Ted Cruz
Jack Dunphy: A Cop’s Worst Nightmare
More links on the next page…
*Disclaimer: This article is intended for entertainment and exercising-your-inner-MacGyver purposes only. The weapons in this article are potentially dangerous and should only be used on the living dead or surplus pumpkins.*
I have an obsession with everything Zombie-related. I love The Walking Dead, 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead – hell, I think I’m the only one who liked World War Z (I’ve always wanted a Macro zombie movie that focuses on the global ramifications of a worldwide outbreak instead of focusing on a small group of survivors). Now I know that there is no likelihood of the dead reanimating, but I think it’s a great mental exercise to prepare yourself for a disaster situation. On slow days at work I often wonder what I would do if a zombie outbreak occurred at work and I was stuck with only my bug-out bag and pistol that I leave secured in my car, while the heavy artillery is locked in a safe at home 35 miles away.
So you’ve survived the initial outbreak and are looking for a secure location to hole up for awhile and ride out the worst of it. You find a hardware store that is defensible, probably close to a grocery and drug store, and chock-full of goodies to aid in your survival. The only problem is that uncreative looters have taken the most apparent weapons: machetes, hatchets, crowbars, and hammers. But you haven’t survived this long without some ingenuity. It’s time to build up an arsenal for you and your small band of post-apocalyptic warriors.
Steel Bar Stock Machete
A machete is a great tool for dismembering the undead hordes. While this homemade version may not be as graceful as Michonne’s katana, it will definitely get the job done.
Supplies: 24″ x 2″ x 1/8″ piece of steel bar stock, Angle grinder or metal file, Dremel with metal grinding cone, jigsaw or hacksaw with a metal cutting blade, honing stone, 5gal paint stir stick, duct tape, black spray paint
When I start a new project I often dive in head first and make a big mess in the process. Paint splatters, sawdust, motor oil, spilled glue, calf’s blood, dismembered limbs–you know the usual workshop messes. So after I’m done digging wells and building hospitals for the underprivileged in Africa, I need a bunch of paper towels to clean up the aftermath of my construction destruction.
Sure I could just buy a cheap plastic paper towel holder for my workshop and be done with it, or I could build an everlasting testament of testosterone for my man cave. Using 3/4″ iron pipe and some rust preventative you can build a beefy bar for your towels that will one day be discovered by future archeologist, inspire them to power down their construction bots, rediscover their masculinity, build something awesome, and stop making babies in the lab and start making them the old fashion way, thus reintroducing genetic diversity to the world and saving the future of mankind.
So for the sake of humanity I need everyone to to build their own beacon of badassery, to ensure they are found for future generations. Here’s how you do it.
- Material: 3/4″ Iron pipe: Flange base, 12″ pipe, 2 1/2″ nipple, 90º elbow, cap. 1″ Fender washers
- Hardware: Toggler wall anchors, Screw (wood, metal, concrete),
- Tools: Pipe Wrench, Power drill, pencil.
- Miscellaneous: Scott’s Paper Towels, E6000 glue, JB Weld Epoxy putty, Rustoleum spray paint or clear coat.
1. The first step is to secure the fender washers to the end cap and base so the paper towels don’t move around or slide off the bar. I used a combination of E6000 automotive glue–which works great on metal–on the contact surface of the washer and cap. Then I wrapped a bead of JB weld epoxy putty around the outside. The last step is overkill for the amount of stress put on this project, but hey, if you’re building something to survive the apocalypse why not? Make sure you clean any glue over run out of the pipe threads before it has a chance to set, otherwise you will have a hard time fitting the pieces together later. Clamp the parts overnight to let the glue and epoxy cure fully.
2. I advise coating the iron pipe with a protective finish to prevent rust. Either a clear acrylic finish or rust-inhibiting spray paint (black is the only acceptable manly color). Tape off the thread areas of the pipe before you spray or it could interfere with joining the pieces.
I got a text from a friend last week regarding her Volkswagen Jetta: “Why is my oil change going to cost me $98?!”
My reply: “Look it up.”
I never did find out why my friend’s Jetta was quoted for a $98 oil change, but her surprise at the high quote did remind me of an article I read in The Atlantic a few months ago. This article touched on a study that showed women are sometimes overcharged by auto repair shops. Apparently, most repair shops believe women know less about cars and repairs and, if they are not proven wrong (by the female customer), they will charge the lady more.
Was my friend getting ripped off because she was female? Perhaps–but also, maybe not.
Obviously, not all repair shops overcharge (women OR men), so don’t get me wrong that I’m hating on my buddies at Pennzoil. However, it doesn’t hurt to make sure you’re being treated fairly whenever you’re out and about—and especially when you’re taking care of an expensive purchase like a car. It pays to be informed and to be bold — literally.
Here are some tips:
Own that Auto Shop
Women who defy stereotype come out ahead. — The Atlantic
You’re the customer and you’re in charge of the transaction. If you don’t like what Business X is telling you, you have the option of leaving and trying your luck someplace else. When you walk into that waiting room or pull into that garage bay, own it. You’re here because you want to tune up your car. Don’t act meek. You’re in charge. Be friendly and strike up a conversation with your attendant. It doesn’t hurt to make the transaction personal. If you’re relaxed and friendly, they’re more likely to like you—and probably less likely to tack on an additional $15 to your bill because of your gender or lack of know-how.
Case in point: Whenever I go to into a Jiffy Lube or Pennzoil, I always like to hang out in the garage while they do the tune-up or oil change. (Not only do I get to see exactly what they are doing–I find it interesting–but I also like chatting.) The workers don’t usually mind–and I think they like giving me the blow-by-blow account of my car’s tune-up. By being engaged, I come off as informed and less likely to fall for any suggested, unnecessary repairs/parts replacement.
Now this just turns this small-l libertarian into a raging uppercase Libertarian.
The shutdown theater has blocked our veterans from their monuments, allowed thuggish park rangers to terrorize visitors to Yellowstone, and even caused park rangers to block lanes of a highway to stop people from pulling over to look at Mount Rushmore.
But enough is enough and this is going too far!
The government agency in charge of approving new breweries, recipes and labels is on furlough, leaving in limbo the ability of suds-makers to get their brews on store shelves.
And that means beer connoisseurs who like to constantly try out new samples may have to make do with the presently approved stocks.
“My dream, this is six years in the making, is to open this brewery,” said Mike Brenner, a beer maker who was hoping to open his brewery business in Milwaukee by December, The Washington Post reported. But that’s all on hold because of the government shutdown — and the delay may cost him big, to the tune of about $8,000 each month.
“I can’t get started because people are fighting over this or that in Washington,” he said. “This is something people don’t mess around with. Even in a bad economy, people drink beer.”
The agency in charge of processing his application is the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
In my more radical moments, I’ve been known to agitate for the abolition of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (You only think that no good arguments can be made for that. And you can only think that if you believe that only the government saves us from individual larceny and dishonesty. And, as my colleague, fellow Baen author Michael Z. Williamson, is fond of saying, that name should belong to a convenience store, not a federal bureau.)
It’s not something we normally make a big point of, though, because it takes too long to explain.
But now they’ve gone too far. They’re delaying the beer!
I have two observations: government involvement in beer regulation is a bridge too far, and if you believe that government regulation of beer is essential, you certainly cannot consider it a non-essential service.
Either way, it’s time to get the government out of our beer!
Let this be a warning to criminals in the Lone Star State. We don’t even need guns to defend our families. But we do have guns. Lots of them.
A Texas father will not face murder charges for killing a man with his own bare hands after he discovered the suspect raping his 5-year-old daughter in a remote barn.
A Lavaca County grand jury decided not to charge the 23-year-old father, whose name was withheld, in the June 9 death of Jesus Mora Flores, 47, citing Texas state law where deadly force is authorized and justified in order to stop an aggravated sexual assault, the Daily Mail reported.
The jury also cut him a break for the 911 calls he made immediately after the attack.
Sheriff Micah Harmon said in June that he was not willing to press charges against the father, and rather the case would be presented to a grand jury.
The man did what any father would, or ought, to do. He rained down fists on the rapist until he was dead. His neighbors support him.
Residents of the small town largely supported the father through his legal troubles.
“[Flores] got what he deserved, big time,” Sonny Jaehne told the Victoria Advocate.
“I would probably do worse,” said friend Mark Harabis. “The family will have to deal with that the rest of their lives, no matter what happens to the father. Even if they let him go, he and his child will have to deal with that the rest of their lives.”
image courtesy shutterstock / Artkot
The 67-year-old starred in numerous cult films (Wham! Bam! Thank You, Spaceman! Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks) but is best remembered as one of the femme fatales in Meyer’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, which is widely considered the Citizen Kane of crap.
If you imagine that female trio as a kind of unfunny Marx Brothers who know martial arts, Haji’s “Rosie” is the girl gang’s “Chico,” a second
banana tomato with dark, exotic looks, unplaceable “foreign” accent, and the least inclination to do bodily harm.
I came visiting here with my family from another galaxy, and we landed in Quebec and Montreal. I never ate when I was a child. I lived off air.
Haji also claimed she’d dropped out of school at age five, and started stripping at fourteen.
About her most famous role, Haji recalled:
You just didn’t see women taking over and beating up men in those days. Russ did something no one else had the imagination to do. And he was smart to use three bodied-up women, so whether the picture’s good or not, you still sort of stare at it.
Haji wasn’t a fan of the spotlight, and only made rare appearances at fan “cons” in her later years.
According to my correspondent, Haji was quite happy living quietly in Malibu, on the “good side” of the Pacific Coast Highway, along the beach she loved.
She is survived by her daughter — and her many fans.
Is it possible for a veteran actor to star in a motion picture that makes him a legend, assures his cinematic immortality, and ensures that while he’s still alive, he’ll always find work, and yet be completely miscast? Actually, it’s happened at least twice. In the late 1970s, Stanley Kubrick cast Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in The Shining. The film made Nicholson a legend, but in a way, he’s very badly miscast — Nicholson’s character seems pretty darn bonkers right from the start of the film, long before his encounters with the demons lurking within the bowels of the Overlook Hotel.
But arguably, a far worse case of miscasting is Charles Bronson in Michael Winner’s 1974 film Death Wish. When novelist Brian Garfield wrote the 1972 book that inspired the movie, he was hoping that if Hollywood ever adapted his novel to the big screen, a milquetoast actor such as Jack Lemmon would star. And Lemmon would actually have been perfect, since his character’s transformation from bleeding heart liberal white collar professional to crazed vigilante would have been all the more shocking. Instead, we all know it’s only a matter of time before Charles Bronson reveals his legendary tough guy persona on the screen. Back around 2000, I remember reading Garfield’s notes on his book’s Amazon page, which was something along the lines of, “Would you want to mess with Charles Bronson?”
Currently the cinematic adaptation of Death Wish is available for home viewing in standard definition on DVD, and in high definition, via Amazon’s Instant Video format. And while the latter version is in sharp 1080p HD, the film could use a restoration from Paramount before it’s issued onto a Blu-Ray disc. The Amazon version has its share of scratches and dust on its print, though it’s certainly cleaner than the Manhattan it depicts on screen. I watched the Amazon HD version the other night, and I was reminded that Bronson’s casting dispenses with the film’s credibility almost as explosively as Bronson himself dispatches assailants onscreen. There are eight million stories in the naked city, and apparently, in 1974, almost as many muggers stupid enough to go up against Charles Bronson.
But otherwise, the timing of the film was absolutely perfect. As Power Line’s Steve Hayward noted in The Age of Reagan: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order: 1964-1980, film critic Richard Grenier dubbed Clint Eastwood’s 1971 film Dirty Harry, “the first popular film to talk back to liberalism,” a movie made during the period that then-Governor Ronald Reagan “liked to joke that a liberal’s idea of being tough on crime was to give longer suspended sentences,” Hayward added.
Which helped set the stage not just for Death Wish, but for the era of moral collapse in which it was filmed, and in which it too became a hit by talking back to liberalism.
Peter Biskind’s 1998 book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls documented Hollywood’s near-complete takeover by the left beginning in the late 1960s, but there were a few holdouts during that era: John Wayne was still making movies, Eastwood’s long career was beginning its ascendency, and British director Michael Winner was also a conservative himself.
But on the East Coast, in the early 1970s, New York had essentially collapsed. Saul Bellow was one of the first novelists to document the moral and increasingly physical carnage. As Myron Magnet of City Journal wrote in the spring of 2008, “Fear was a New Yorker’s constant companion in the 1970s and ’80s. … So to read Saul Bellow’s Mr. Sammler’s Planet when it came out in 1970 was like a jolt of electricity”:
The book was true, prophetically so. And now that we live in New York’s second golden age — the age of reborn neighborhoods in every borough, of safe streets bustling with tourists, of $40 million apartments, of filled-to-overflowing private schools and colleges, of urban glamour; the age when the New York Times runs stories that explain how once upon a time there was the age of the mugger and that ask, is New York losing its street smarts? — it’s important to recall that today’s peace and prosperity mustn’t be taken for granted. Hip young residents of the revived Lower East Side or Williamsburg need to know that it’s possible to kill a city, that the streets they walk daily were once no-go zones, that within living memory residents and companies were fleeing Gotham, that newsweeklies heralded the rotting of the Big Apple and movies like Taxi Driver and Midnight Cowboy plausibly depicted New York as a nightmare peopled by freaks. That’s why it’s worth looking back at Mr. Sammler to understand why that decline occurred: we need to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
That was the milieu in which Bronson’s Paul Kersey character resided at the start of Death Wish. Flying back to New York after a relaxing Hawaiian vacation with his wife (played by veteran actress Hope Lange), Kersey’s wife is murdered and his daughter raped by home invaders led by a young Jeff Goldblum at the start of his acting career. (Near the end of the film, a pre-Spinal Tap Christopher Guest plays a nervous rookie NYPD cop). On a business trip out to Tucson, both to take his mind off the horrors that had befallen his family, and to get a real estate development project back on track, Bronson’s Kersey discovers that it’s possible to defend yourself against crime.
The businessman that Kersey meets during the film’s Tucson scenes, played by character actor Stuart Margolin, is a staunch Second Amendment supporter who invites Kersey to a gun range, and asks him,“Paul, which war was yours?” That was a common question among middle-aged men during the latter half of the 20th century. Kersey admits he was a “C.O. in a M*A*S*H unit” in Korea.
“Oh, Commanding Officer, eh?” Margolin’s Good Ol’ Businessman approvingly asks.
“Conscientious Objector,” Bronson’s Kersey drolly replies as Margolin rolls his eyes in disgust.
Kersey explains that he became one as a teenager, after his father was shot and killed in a hunting accident, quickly fleshing out his character’s backstory. Evidently, Kersey’s own skills as a hunter haven’t degraded much over the years, since he then aims and fires the pistol that Margolin’s character had handed him, splitting the paper target at the gun range dead center.
And away we go.
From the trailers, this week’s new thriller 2 Guns looks like a tasty new dish in the long buffet of fun action movies. But it doesn’t have all of the five things that would earn it the coveted title of “kick-ass.” Here’s a brief rundown of what every action flick that hopes to endure must have.
5) A genuine take-him-to-the-bank movie star. Preferably two.
Despite his shaky start, Mark Wahlberg did turn out to be a likeable, physical, often funny star, and Denzel Washington exudes star qualities. Both of these guys have the don’t-mess-with-me look. But sorry, Shia LaBeouf, your look is, “Please give me a wedgie and then stuff me in a locker.” Leonardo DiCaprio, your look is aging pretty boy. Jake Gyllenhaal, you can get as pumped up as you want but you still look more like a poet of Pasadena than the Prince of Persia. None of you looks like the guy I want standing behind me with his arms crossed calmly over his chest when I get into an argument with half a dozen Hell’s Angels in a roadhouse. An action-movie star has to have presence, like Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jason Statham.
In the fall of 1971, when I was in twelfth grade, I started to grow my hair long. A failed basketball player, still loosely socially affiliated with the athletes, I knew that the next fall I’d be in college. There, I thought, I could really fit in—and find a great girlfriend or two, unlike anything that had happened in high school.
At that time the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War was winding down. The draft was on the way to being abolished, so guys my age didn’t have to think about what they would do if they were drafted.
But “the war” was still a hot topic. In my school, it was a social marker: if you were “for the war,” you were more likely to be with the jocks and cheerleaders, an assertive patriot; those “against the war” were more likely to be on the “freak” side of the spectrum, more into loud music than sports, marijuana than beer. As for America, it was “Amerika,” venal and “imperialist” if not worse.
As part of the change I felt myself to be effectuating, I started to say things like, “It’s not our fight.” “I don’t know what we’re doing over there, wasting all that money when we could be spending it on social programs.”
It did not come out of genuine, deep thought or engagement with the issues. Once I had wanted to be cool by being a star basketball player; but I was only a mediocre one. Now I would be cool by being an intellectual firebrand, a scourge of the establishment.
Demographically speaking, that strategy made more sense. Though I didn’t yet understand it in such terms, I was a secular Jew with a strong yen for the arts and humanities. In most places in the world where Jews live, people of that description are overwhelmingly on the left; indeed, a good many people in the colleges I went to belonged to that description.
There was only one obstacle to my march toward—so I thought—coolness, popularity, and success with the girls as an “establishment”-basher: Alfred Hornik.
While serving time for whatever he supposedly did, newspaper baron Conrad Black taught history classes for his fellow prisoners.
Naturally, this prompted predictable “Geneva Convention” jokes among Black’s many detractors.
Even some of the prisoners were probably thinking, “This sure ain’t New Year’s Eve at Folsom.”
But ending up with Lord Black instead of “the Man in Black” isn’t the worst “punishment” I can imagine, although I can’t fathom how inmates without even GEDs coped with the former’s formidable vocabulary.
As I’ve stated before when talking about his latest book, Flight of the Eagle: The Grand Strategies That Brought America From Colonial Dependence to World Leadership, most of us could do far worse than have Conrad Black as a history teacher.
His enthusiasm is contagious, his erudition bracing, and his breadth of knowledge impressive.
(Maybe too impressive: While it purports to be a history of the United States, Flight… actually covers plenty of European ground, especially the continent’s martial and monarchical history from the eighteenth century onward. This isn’t a bonus if, like me, the very words “Habsburg” and “Crimea” can knock you into REM sleep faster than any hypnotist.)
“This is David. He’s the most right-wing person I know.”
– Howard Bloom introducing me to others before his talk, immediately blowing my cover. #DangIt #FacePalm
I didn’t know what to expect a few weeks ago when my friend Howard Bloom — author of science books The Lucifer Principle, Genius of the Beast, Global Brain, The God Problem, and the new e-book The Mohammed Code — invited me to hear him present his new proposal for space colonization to a small group. Howard has been one of my major intellectual influences for years. All of his books are included in my counterculture conservative reading list and I’ve focused on studying his most recent two on Saturdays for the “Radical Reading Regimen” I’ve started developing to try to organize my research. I already knew what to expect from Howard, both in content and delivery. He had sent me the visual outline he was to present many months ago. And I knew his infectious, enthusiastic delivery style. The big mystery that perplexed me: who exactly might I encounter at this gathering? (Hopefully not anyone in the counterculture community I had already offended — and I could think of a few in Howard’s circle…)
I knew the spectrum of Bloom enthusiasts. Over the past few decades since retiring from a wildly successful career in the music PR business to transition to full-time science author and public intellectual, Bloom had attracted a number of different followings as varying demographics connected with the VERY WIDE range of postions he articulated. Initially Howard attracted varieties of countercultural, secularist, and futurist audiences from his first two books. Many people first connected with Howard’s work as I did a decade ago when Richard Metzger’s Disinformation Company was at its peak and showcased him in books and a legendary TV show. He still has that legion of fans and acquaintances — who make themselves known on his Facebook page. I’m the rare one among this fan base who after graduating from college in 2006 as a secular progressive drifted toward political conservatism by 2009 and *gasp* the dreaded social conservatism and Bible-based religion by 2011. By this time Howard had released a third book, The Genius of the Beast, that I connected with, as it provided a new, innovative defense of my newfound radical capitalist creed.
As I got to know Howard personally after reviewing Beast, I found other views which synched with my unapologetic Tea Party conservatism. Howard was raised by secular Zionists and had spent decades studying Islam, arriving at an analysis in The Mohammed Code comparable to Robert Spencer’s in indicting the faith of Mohammed as an inherently violent, totalitarian, desert death cult.
But I was going to keep my mouth shut about all my nonsense. Three years now living out in Los Angeles as a full-time, professional conservative new media editor I’ve learned very well how to downplay my profession or to spin it in ways that sound harmless so as not to draw attention to myself at social gatherings. When I’m at a dinner party with my wife’s art colleagues and grad school friends, it doesn’t do me (or her) any favors to get detailed about how I spend my days editing ex-Marxists, former Soviet spymasters, and both dissident Muslim mystics and polemical ex-Muslim anti-jihad activists. And I’ve been calling the president an evil, antisemitic criminal who needs to be impeached and go to jail since before the election…
But there Howard went and did it as we stood talking with a retired music executive, a documentary filmmaker, and a music video director: “Most right-wing person I know!” I think Howard “outed” me for two reasons, first to signal that I could be myself and second to demonstrate the point that he then made explicitly to the others there, that his ideas had a broad appeal and could be appreciated by people across the political and religious spectrums.
Or he was probably just not thinking, just being off-the-top-of-his-head-himself, following his first rule of science: the Truth at any price, even the price of your life.
Before September 11, 2001, bestselling author Robert Ferrigno was known as a cooler West Coast version of Elmore Leonard. His mysteries put a modern, whacked-out L.A. spin on noir fiction, and if there was a political point of view expressed, it might have been a rough libertarianism.
But when he decided to get political, he went all out. His audacious novel Prayers for the Assassin was a dazzling dystopian mix of social/political satire and spy thriller that proposed a future America ruled by Sharia law. Suddenly Ferrigno’s patriotic and conservative convictions were on view for all to see.
The Assassin trilogy became a huge favorite with conservatives — and was decried just as soundly by the advocates of political correctness. Mark Styen’s positive reviews of the books were even used to haul him before the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
Like fellow mystery writer Andrew Klavan, Ferrigno began doing overt poltical commentary as well as working within the popular culture. He wrote a series of columns for Andrew Brietbart examining the Obama White House from the point of view of Bo, the president’s dog; and his blog on his website would feature brilliant bits like this about gun control and pop culture in the wake of mass shootings: We Are Not the People We Used to Be.
Ferrigno’s new thriller, The Girl Who Cried Wolf, is available as an e-book (and at $.99 for the Kindle download on Amazon, the best value I can think of). It hearkens back to the old Ferrigno darkly comic/noir, but with his new political sharp elbows fully employed. In it, a small group of eco-terrorists kidnap Remy Martin, a beautiful heiress, hoping to benefit both the Cause and their personal cause as well. You see, it takes money to live free of modern conveniences.
They are a little surprised at how calmly her billionaire father takes the news, not realizing that this just may be the most ill-conceived kidnapping since The Ransom of Red Chief. Remy’s job as an entertainment lawyer and her posh upbringing may make her seem like a soft mark, but calling her a handful would be a considerable understatement. Then there’s the fact that Remy had just begun dating an ex-cop security expert who takes his failure to have protected her very seriously indeed.
The kidnappers are surprised at how well Remy takes to being held in a wilderness paradise—but that’s just the beginning of their surprises.
I caught up with Robert Ferrigno to talk to him about the changes in his writing, including huge changes in the business of writing, and how a conservative operates in the pop culture.