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What Are Your New Year’s Resolutions for 2015?

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Daily Question

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Judeo-Christian Angels And the Power of Pagan Art

Friday, December 26th, 2014 - by David P. Goldman

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Joseph Bottum is my favorite among Christian writers; I read him religiously, as it were, for a decade before we met, and before he asked me to join the masthead of the monthly magazine First Things in 2009. The fact that he is a close friend, therefore, has nothing to do with my admiration for his work; I have several close friends who write badly, and admire any number of writers whom I abhor as human beings. His Christmas meditation “Angels I Have Heard on High” was a holiday delicacy to be savored. Jody has heard angel voices singing, “high in the wind, across a western meadow frozen stiff and covered with the fallen snow.” I  wish him many more such blessed encounters.

Jody is now writing Christmas carols, and we’ve been corresponding about the form, from an aesthetic vantage point, to be sure. The great poet of Spain’s Golden Age, Lope de Vega, wrote a marvelous song in which the Virgin Mary responds to the glory of angels ruffling the palm trees by asking them to hold onto the branches and quiet down; her child, she explains, is already exhausted by the world’s suffering and needs to rest. The juxtaposition of maternal ordinariness and supernatural splendor is a successful poetic conceit. Christian poets work wonders with angelic encounters, and Lope’s famous Christmas meditation is sublime. One really must read it in the original: with its Romance meter (comparable to our ballad meter) and unrhymed alliteration, the poem bestrides the divide between sublime and secular in technique as well as content.

By pure coincidence, the conversation around the Shabbat table last week at Hong Kong’s modest Israeli synagogue, Shuva Israel, centered on angels as well. Jews sing “Peace onto you, ministering angels” before Friday night dinner, on the basis of an ancient homilectic that two angels accompany a Jew home from synagogue on the eve of Shabbat:

Peace upon you, ministering angels, messengers of the Most High,

of the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.

Come in peace, messengers of peace, messengers of the Most High, of the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.

Bless me with peace, messengers of peace, messengers of the Most High,

of the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.

May your departure be in peace, messengers of peace, messengers of the Most High, of the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.

Note that the appearance of the angels is a scheduled weekly occurrence, to be welcomed, but nothing to get excited about. The odd thing, though, is that the angels are asked to leave. One hears many explanations for this, but I like best the one proposed by the Chafetz Chaim, the leader of observant Jewry in Eastern Europe during the interwar years, and recounted last Friday by a young Israeli rabbi. When the high priest entered the Temple’s Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, he went in alone–not even an angel dared accompany him into this most holy place. The recreation of the Temple in the Shabbat table of a Jewish home is so holy that even the holy angels cannot abide there; after they have done their job of accompanying us home from synagogue they are politely asked to go away.

The Holy of Holies in Judaism is found in the most ordinary things of life once they have been dedicated to the Holy One, blessed be he. The Shekhinah (the Indwelling of God) resides on the Shabbat table, and in marital relations between husband and wife. Such things surpass the holiness even of angels.

The holiness of the sanctified ordinary, to be sure, doesn’t always make for compelling poetry; as a latecomer to Jewish observance I tend to sniff at the poetic merits of the classic songs sung around the Shabbat table, although some of them, drawn from the Psalms, are hauntingly beautiful.

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The Meaning of Christmas

Thursday, December 25th, 2014 - by Allston's Afternoon Rockout

Editor’s Note: Over the spring and summer we launched the PJ Lifestyle Music at Midnight feature, highlighting reader suggestions for great songs worth featuring. One contributor’s infectious enthusiasm and good nature won us over. He’s since expanded his music recommendations to a series of list-article-mix tapes. Now in this daily feature we’re going to start drawing from his lists (and growing an archive of them) to discuss the songs and artists included. Who should be included next? What ideas do you have for music or other culture or lifestyle ideas you’d like to see discussed at PJ Lifestyle? Get in touch DaveSwindlePJM AT gmail.com or @DaveSwindle on Twitter. Here’s Allston’s archive so far, but he’s got more list-mix-tapes in the works:  

The War Music Series

By Artist and Band

By Decade and Era

By Genre

By Instrument

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The 6 Ghost-Lists of Christmas Past

Thursday, December 25th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

I hope everyone’s having a wonderful Christmas today! This year I decided to re-publish some of the best PJ Lifestyle Christmas lists from previous years as the Ghost-Lists of Christmas’ Past. Here are links to them as well as the lists from this year. And be sure not to miss Walter Hudson’s wonderful new reflection “Christmas: He Laid Down His Right” from today.

2011

Chris Queen: The 10 Most Essential Christmas Specials and Holiday Movies

Megan Fox: 7 Last-Minute, DIY Christmas Presents

2012

J. Christian Adams: 8 Books That Make Great Christmas Gifts for Children

Paul Cooper: 5 Christmas Movies That Will Make You To Want to Be A Dad

2013

Stephen Green: The 5 Best Christmas Movies For Terrible People

Rhonda Robinson: 3 Family Christmas Books Both Kids and Parents Will Enjoy

And catch up on the new Holiday lists from this year:

Susan L.M. Goldberg: 12 Steps for a Perfect Pop Culture Christmas

Chris Queen: 10 Great Southern Destinations for the Christmas Season

Susan L.M. Goldberg: 5 Ways to Avoid Christma-fying Your Hanukkah

Chris Queen: 34 Holiday Gifts for the Southern Culture Lover on Your List

Spencer Klavan: The 5 Merriest Christmas Traditions from Ancient Greece

Chris Queen: 10 Reasons Why a Disney Christmas Is the Best Kind of Holiday

Allston: 12 Wonderful Christmas Songs

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The 5 Best Christmas Movies for Terrible People

Thursday, December 25th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

Editor’s Note: This article was first published as “Your VodkaPundit Christmas Movie Guide” in 2013 and is now resurrected and republished as part of the Ghost-Lists of Christmas Past Series.

Tis almost the night before Christmas — but there’s still plenty of time to load up the DVD player or stream from Netflix. So make lovely adult beverages for you and yours, and mugs of hot cocoa for the kids.

I should also mention that I’ve never once been able to sit through all of It’s a Wonderful Life, so there’s a good chance I’m a terrible person with retrograde taste in holiday entertainment. So with that out of the way, let’s look at what we do watch every year here at Casa Verde.

1. Love Actually

Apparently there’s some kind of bitter feud amongst the Love Actually-haters and the Love Actually-lovers, but I’m here to resolve those differences by gently reminding you that the Love Actually-haters are possibly less than human, almost certainly dead inside, and at the very least are incapable of simple human emotion.

Here we have every love story crammed into one breezy and perfectly paced gem of a movie. There’s romantic love, new love, young love, lost love, love that bridges the language barrier, brotherly love, lustful love, the love between a sister and her institutionalized brother, and perhaps the most touching of all, the love between a step-father and the son he finds himself caring for alone. The scenes between Liam Neeson and young Thomas Sangster are by themselves worth the price of admission. And every Anglophile will love Rowan Atkinson’s two pitch-perfect cameos.

There’s some language and some comical nudity, so this one might not be for the kiddos — but prove to me you aren’t dead inside and learn to love Love Actually.

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Hallelujah! How About Handel’s Messiah for Christmas?

Thursday, December 25th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Classical Music In the Morning

Here are the previous recordings included so far in this feature. Please leave your suggestions in the comments, on twitter to @DaveSwindle, or via email: DaveSwindlePJM AT Gmail.com

Johann Sebastian Bach

Ludwig van Beethoven

Hector Berlioz

John Dowland

George Frideric Handel

Joseph Haydn

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Felix Mendelssohn

Maurice Ravel

Richard Strauss

Franz Schubert

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Antonio Vivaldi

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The Complete He-Man & She-Ra Christmas Special!

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Cartoon at Noon

Here is a list of the previous cartoons featured this year:

Disney in Spring

All 75 of the Silly Symphonies, the Gold Standard of the Era:

  1. Walt Disney’s First Silly Symphony: ‘The Skeleton Dance’
  2. PETA Would Hate This 1929 Disney Cartoon…
  3. Nature Animated to Life
  4. A Disney Cartoon Set In Hell!
  5. Getting Drunk With Disney’s Merry Dwarfs
  6. Summer: The Sixth Silly Symphony, A Sequel to Spring
  7. Corn on the Cob as Musical Instrument
  8. A Cannibal-Version of Carmen With Clicking Human Skulls… Made By Walt Disney
  9. Frolicking Fish Almost 60 Years Before The Little Mermaid
  10. Mickey Mouse As a Polar Bear
  11. Toy Story‘s Great Grandfather?
  12. A Bug Flying Too Close to the Fire In the Darkness
  13. Innocence Incarnate: These Smooching Monkeys Will Make You Smile
  14. Goodbye Winter! Disney’s Playful Pan Emerges to Call In Spring (two cartoons)
  15. Birds of a Feather Flock Together
  16. A Cartoon First Released April 17, 1931: Disney’s Mother Goose Melodies
  17. Dora the Explorer’s Politically Incorrect Cameo in a 1931 Disney Cartoon
  18. Apparently Beavers Invented the Wheelbarrow Before Man
  19. A Sweet & Spooky Silly Symphony for Cat Lovers
  20. Egyptian Melodies Vs. Father Noah’s Ark
  21. Geppetto’s Original Workshop And Cogsworth’s Great-grandparents?
  22. When A Cavalry of Horseflies Goes To War Against the Spider
  23. Drinking Tea Before the Fox Hunt
  24. How Much Can an Ugly Duckling Grow Up Over a Decade?
  25. The Marx Brothers As Cartoon Birds
  26. A Primordial Winnie the Pooh
  27. A Dog Jail Break at the Pound!
  28. The First Technicolor Cartoon: Disney’s Still-Amazing ‘Flowers and Trees’
  29. It’s Amazing What Kinds of Cartoons Were Considered Family Friendly in 1932…
  30. Bugs In Love Battle a Blackbird in Black and White
  31. ‘Babes In the Woods’ Vs. The Witch In The Candy Cottage
  32. What Secrets Do You See Inside Santa’s Workshop?
  33. The Snake Hypnotizes His Prey
  34. The Disney Version of Noah’s Ark
  35. An Oscar-Winning Cartoon That Defined the Depression Era
  36. Who’s Ready to Open Pandora’s Box?
  37. Enter Sandman? Where We Go When We Sleep
  38. If You Don’t Pay the Piper He’ll Just Take Your Children Instead…
  39. When Walt Disney Imagined Santa Claus In Alliance With The Robot Toys
  40. The ‘Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil’ Monkeys In Cartoon Form
  41. ‘Oh, the World Owes Us a Livin’…’
  42. Among the Easter Bunny’s Secrets: Scotch-Colored Paint!
  43. Practical Pig Saved Little Red Riding Hood From the Big Bad Wolf
  44. Donald Duck’s First Appearance
  45. The Lesson of the Flying Mouse: Sometimes A Blessing Is Actually A Curse…
  46. Chill Out Today With These ‘Peculiar Penguins’
  47. Compare and Contrast: The Goddess of Spring With Snow White
  48. Slow and Steady Wins the Race?
  49. What Would You Do If Everything You Touched Turned to Gold?
  50. A Cartoon To Teach Kids About the Danger of Celebrating Crime
  51. Dreaming of an Innocent Unity With Nature
  52. A Fantasy Land Where Everything Is Made of Candy…
  53. How Did Disney’s Mae West Bird Caricature Compare With Real Life?
  54. VIDEO: If Romeo and Juliet Were A Saxophone and Cello
  55. Another 1930s Disney Cartoon with Creepy Racial Stereotypes…
  56. What Does It Take to Be the Cock o’ The Walk?
  57. What Is the Fate of Broken Toys?
  58. Elmer Elephant: Is This the Most Adorable Cartoon in the Whole Series?
  59. How Kids Can Learn To Defeat Bullies
  60.  ‘I Like a Man That Takes His Time…’
  61. The 3 Blind Mouseketeers Vs A Room of Traps
  62. A Country Mouse Discovers the Joys of Drinking in the Big City…
  63. This Very Cute Video of ‘Mother Pluto’ Parenting Chicks Will Make You Smile
  64. 3 Troublemaker Kittens Make a Mess in the Garden
  65. The Dark Secrets Hidden in the Woodland Cafe…
  66. What Is Animism?
  67. One of The Classic Breakthroughs In Animation History
  68. When Moths Fly Too Close to The Flame…
  69. 3 Babies Fishing For Stars In Dreamland
  70. Walt Disney Introduces The Farmyard Symphony on the DisneyLand TV Show
  71. Long Before Spongebob: The Underwater Circus of the Merbabies
  72. Katharine Hepburn As Little Bo Peep in Blackface
  73. Practical Pig Delivers a ‘Harsh Interrogation’ To the Big Bad Wolf
  74. This Ugly Duckling Abandoned By His Family Will Melt Your Heart

Mickey Mouse:

  1. ‘Plane Crazy’: Mickey Mouse at the End of the Silent Era

Donald Duck’s first appearances:

  1. “The Wise Little Hen”: Donald Duck’s First Appearance
  2. “Orphan’s Benefit”: Which Character Do You Prefer: Donald Duck Vs Popeye?
  3. “The Dognapper:” Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck Vs The Dognapper
  4. Donald Duck’s 4th Appearance Is One of the 1930s’ Greatest Cartoons
  5. Donald Duck’s 5th Appearance: ”Mickey’s Service Station”
  6. A World War II Donald Duck Cartoon for Veterans Day
  7. How to Fish With Chewing Tobacco and a Club
  8. Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse Take the Orphans for a Picnic
  9. Donald’s Final Appearance in His Original Duckish Design

Pluto:

  1. Pluto Wants Some Turkey Too

Fleischer Studios in Summer

12 Early Betty Boop Cartoons

  1. Betty Boop’s First Appearance
  2. Before Betty Boop Was Beautiful…
  3. Betty Boop as Snow White In A Cartoon For Jazz Lovers
  4. Your Initiation Into Betty Boop’s Secret Society
  5. ‘No, He Couldn’t Take My Boop-Oop-a-Doop Away!’ (2 cartoons featured)
  6. Why You Shouldn’t Try Robbing Betty Boop
  7. The Betty Boop Approach to Dealing With ‘Silly Scandals’
  8. Moving Day for Betty Boop!
  9. A Plus-Size Betty Boop As Kitty From Kansas City
  10. Playing Chess with Betty Boop & Taking a Mean Shot at Mickey Mouse
  11. Betty Boop’s Crazy Inventions
  12. Cab Calloway as ‘The Old Man Of the Mountain’ Chases after Betty Boop

Popeye

  1. Popeye The Sailor’s First Animated Appearance
  2. Which Character Do You Prefer: Donald Duck Vs Popeye?

22 Color Classics, a competitor to the Silly Symphonies:

  1. A Redheaded Betty Boop As Cinderella Debuted a New Series
  2. ‘Joy Like This Cannot Be Bought!’ A Cartoon Variation of Hansel and Gretel
  3. An Elephant Never Forgets
  4. Back When Cartoons Taught the Miraculous Power of Prayer…
  5. ‘Momma Don’t Allow No Music Playin In Here’
  6. Animal Newlyweds Take Their Honeymoon In Outer Space!
  7. Seduced By the Black Swan
  8. An Old Couple Reminisces On Falling In Love…
  9. Somewhere in Dreamland Tonight
  10. When a Chick Tries to Be a Duck
  11. Newlywed Flies Pick The Wrong Hotel For Their Honeymoon
  12. Greedy Humpty Dumpty Enslaves Nursery Rhyme Creatures To Build His Gold Wall to the Sun
  13. Two Lovebirds Take a Hawaiian Honeymoon
  14. Dreaming of a Big Train
  15. An Eccentric Inventor Saves The Orphans’ Christmas
  16. The Wedding of Jack and Jill Rabbit
  17. The Rooster and His Harem…
  18. Animal Symphony Chaos: ‘The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men Often Go Astray…’
  19. VIDEO: A Family of Peeping Penguins Finds a New Home
  20. A Little Fish Has to Learn His Lesson The Hard Way
  21. Cute: Little Lamby Eats His Grass With Sugar
  22. The Vegetable Children Don’t Want to Play With the Little Onion Kid

The Films of Ub Iwerks, co-creator of Mickey Mouse, during his years apart from Disney, studied in the Fall:

Flip the Frog

  1. Flip the Frog: The First Sound Color Cartoon
  2. Flip the Frog Hallucinating in the Opium Den
  3. Flip the Frog Befriends the Ghost Family With Their Skeleton Dog
  4. Flip The Frog Vs The Mouse
  5. The Village Barber
  6. ‘Techno-Cracked’: When Flip the Frog Built a Robot
  7. Why Were so Many 1930s Cartoons Set in a Sultan’s Harem?

Willie Whopper

  1. An Angel Flashing the Middle Finger In a 1930s Cartoon?
  2. Willie Whopper’s Mexican Gun Fight
  3. Willie Whopper Steals Neptune’s Crown

Comicolor Cartoons

  1. A Very Angry Sun Vs. Old Man Winter
  2. A Nutty Knight Escapes from the Insane Asylum
  3. Sinbad the Sailor and His Parrot Enjoy Cigars
  4. The Tailor Vs The Giant and Everyone Vs The Mouse
  5. Baby Bear Has to Learn From Jack Frost the Hard Way…
  6. Simple Simon in the Lion’s Den
  7. The First Cartoon Version of Aladdin
  8. Welcome to Balloon Land! Beware of the Pincushion Man!
  9. Humpty Dumpty Jr. Rescues His Sweetheart from a Bad Egg

Columbia Pictures’ Color Rhapsodies series

  1. Little Nell With a Heart As Big as Texas
  2. The Frog Pond: The Primary Theme of 1930s Cartoons? How to Beat Bullies
  3. Skeleton Frolics: An Undead Orchestra Rehearses

Terrytoons By Paul Terry

  1. How Farmer Al Falfa Survived the Drought
  2. A June Bride: Farmer Al Falfa’s Kitty Elopes With an Alley Cat
  3. The Dancing Mice Make War on Farmer Al Falfa and His Cat
  4. ‘Scotch Highball’: a 1930 Terrytoon of Animals Racing

 Warner Bros in Winter

  1. Porky Pig’s First Appearance
  2. “Plane Dippy”
  3. What Are the Origins of Daffy Duck?

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3 Family Christmas Books Both Kids and Parents Will Enjoy

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

Editor’s Note: This article was first published as “3 Children’s Christmas Books That YOU Will Actually Enjoy Reading” in 2013 and is now resurrected and republished as part of the Ghost-Lists of Christmas Past Series.

polished

My fingernails still carry splashes of color.

The nail polish, once so meticulously applied by six-year-old Pearl, is now worn and chipped. I hope the memory stays as vivid as this awful color. Note to self: Before agreeing to a free manicure always have plenty of nail polish remover on hand.

When I finally do get around to scrubbing the polish off, it will be the last physical reminders of our dress-up tea party and our short time together.

Pearl requested, immediately upon arrival, that we have a tea party. Although she was only three at the time, apparently we had one the last time she came for a visit, which she remembers astonishingly well. So we spent a few hours painting nails, rolling hair and trying on gowns and dresses.

Yes gowns– little girl tea parties are a formal affair, in case you didn’t know.

Without realizing it I created a tradition. Apparently, in my granddaughter’s mind, going to my house is synonymous with going to a tea party. Traditions can crop up without realizing it when you’re dealing with children. The kid that can’t remember to brush his teeth every night will remember that hot chocolate you made three years ago. Moms may hate that, but that really works in grandparents’ favor.

This week I was reminded of a tradition that I started when my children were young, then, somewhere along the way I lost it. It was really just as much for me, as it was for the children.

Every year (at least for several years) I would hunt down the best Children’s Christmas book I could find. It had to have a great story, and even better artwork. Not your usual Santa stuff. I always found something that I enjoyed reading as much as the kids loved listening to. The idea was to collect these treasures over the years. Then, when my children are grown I would have a wonderful collection of Christmas stories to pull out each year and share with the grandchildren.

Somewhere along the line, I dropped the ball. All but a few books are left. So this year, I’m starting over.

So, I thought I would share a few of my old favorites.

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A 7th Reason to Tell Your Children There Is a Santa Claus

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014 - by Leslie Loftis

Waiting for Santa

From Rich Cromwell at The Federalist, Six Reasons to Lie to Your Kids About Santa Claus“:

Santa doesn’t deserve scorn. Maybe he doesn’t deserve love either, but, if nothing else, he does deserve a commuted sentence. Here are but a few reasons why.

Cromwell had me convinced at number six, which is essentially GK Chesterton’s idea that Santa Claus is fun and wonderment secretly doing the work of Christianity. I also generally agree with Cromwell’s other reasons to lie to kids about Santa, for instance, silly lying to kids can be fun and adults tend to take the need for constant literal truth too seriously.

(Of course, our obsession with relentless realism probably grows out of the erosion of trust from the breakdown of families. It is a simpler thing for married moms and dads to make up stories about bedtime velociraptors when the kids can easily draw the line between truth and teasing. For fractured families, the issue can be a little more complicated. But that is a more serious topic than I want to put before anyone on Christmas Eve.)

I think, however, that Cromwell missed a seventh reason to lie to your kids about Santa Claus, one that I discovered when I faced explaining the truth about Santa to my eldest children.

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7 Last-Minute, DIY Christmas Presents

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014 - by Megan Fox

Editor’s Note: This article was first published as “Seven Last-Minute, Do-It-Yourself Gifts for Under $20” in 2011 and is now resurrected and republished as part of the Ghost-Lists of Christmas Past Series.

If the pepper-sprayed shoppers at Walmart on Black Friday are any indication, Americans are desperate for a good deal (and lacking in basic social skills). There are some good buys at the big box stores and I’m not against shopping at them, but this year even they are too pricey for our single-income household. Not only are times tough for my family, but for the country too. It is distressing to be unable to find items made here — or even Canada for that matter — or any other country that doesn’t hate us. Even toys that say “Made in America” turn out to be merely assembled here after the parts come from China. Retailers are catching onto the public disapproval and are changing the labels to use sneaky wording like “Made in PRC,” otherwise known as the People’s Republic of China, for the unsuspecting.

Inevitably, when you buy the plastic stuff made in “PRC” a few weeks later you’ll nearly disable your foot on a piece of it on the living room rug in the dead of night while trying to get to the bathroom. Or, even worse, that thing your precious cherub wanted so badly sits collecting dust and ends up in a give-a-way bag. Don’t pour money down the drain to China this year. Instead, support local businesses while working on your creative skills with these homemade gifts that your family will cherish. If you have any cooks in the family, this first gift is made just for them!

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‘I Don’t Want to See a Trail of Bodies, Unless They’re the Bodies I’ve Blessed for Destruction.’

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note: Since March, PJ Lifestyle has been highlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island, featuring interviews and story excerpts. Click here to see our collection of 33 so far. To learn more check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” Also see COO David S. Bernstein’s recent essay here in which he defines Liberty Island as, “an imaginative playground where brilliant and creative people can test their ideas without being harassed or threatened by the new breed of ‘community activists’ who police thought and speech in the media.” Also see Bellow’s cover story at National Review: “Let Your Right Brain Run Free.” 

Check out the Grand Prize Winner in the Holiday contest,  “The 1011000-100110110000011010011 Truce” by Thomas A. Mays,  excerpted here. And also the first Honorable mention is here: “Get the Greek – A Chrismukkah Tale” and the second here: “Turkey Legs Boned & Rolled Like Veal, Just as Tender but Tastier

Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of “Christmas Hits,” the third runner up in the Holiday contest:

Not waiting for the storm to let up, seventy-year old Caesar Vincenzo ran stiff legged, head down, from the car into the store. Soaked, he stood proudly inside his twelve-year-old business, Rex Appliances. With his fingers he combed back wet hair and noticed a young couple transfixed before three large plasma screens, two roaring with action movies and a third showing White Christmas, a holiday favorite that he planned on watching soon. He was smiling when the couple turned and withered at the sight of Caesar. Hair dyed black, barrel-chested with thick arms filling out his sport jacket, Caesar’s large chin gave his meaty face a menacing look, the look of a hit man, not a successful business owner, which only depressed him. He shook his head and lost the smile as the young couple scooted toward the appliances lining the back wall.

The five-thousand-square-foot store carried mostly televisions and audio gear and a few brands of washers and dryers, but it was the new plasma technology that Caesar loved. The clamor of hyenas taking out a wounded lion, the automatic-weapons fire of a shoot-’em-up, and the Haynes girls singing “Sisters” carried the formative sounds of the Big Bang.

The store provided economic cover for Caesar’s cash business. Averaging a half million a year, he mostly stashed it in off-shore accounts and safety deposit boxes. For trips to the Bahamas he used receipts from modest hotels and restaurants, making business vacations appear as reasonable expenses to the IRS, who had audited him twice in the nineties. In Nassau his actual time and cash money was spent on Paradise Island in thousand-dollar-a-night penthouses, hookers galore. Planning retirement someday on the southern tip of the Baja, he had built a beach house in Del Cabo under an entirely new identity.

The bobbing head of Jeff Montgomery caught his eye. His manager for five years, Jeff ran a tight ship: hired and fired, kept immaculate books, and had a record of strong sales. He should have been an employer’s dream except that he routinely challenged Caesar’s authority and his inadequate knowledge of the store’s products. However, this Christmas season, in the spirit of one-upmanship, Caesar had insisted they carry a few holiday items. Jeff reluctantly purchased a half dozen three-foot tall artificial trees that now crowded the floor in front of the checkout and an open box of four-inch tall white-tipped pines that covered most of the counter.

One night Caesar dreamt that Jeff appeared out of the sky, riding a cloud, looking down on him with his familiar smirk. Like a nightmare where the dreamer is stuck, unable to move, Caesar had to listen to an endless barrage of exotic knowledge from his employee with the occasional work-related, sarcastic dig aimed at the boss.

Occasionally, Caesar had fantasies of slitting Jeff’s throat and throwing him in the dumpster out back, but ignored the impulse. Years ago, Frank Laconti, his lifelong boss, had impressed upon Caesar that his skills and efficiency would tempt him to eliminate people that made him jealous, angry, or simply got under his skin. “Keep your cool,” Laconti had cautioned. “You’ve got a code of honor to follow. I don’t want to see a trail of bodies, unless they’re the bodies I’ve blessed for destruction.”

He had maintained that code for decades as he watched Little Tony, Caesar’s contact and mentor, walk into Rex’s carrying his briefcase, looking more like a seedy Sony rep with time to kill than the most ruthless of Laconti’s hit men. Little Tony had a big, formless nose, narrow face and playful eyes. Ten years Caesar’s junior, he enjoyed bragging about family business with a long-standing employee like Caesar Vincenzo, and took delight in teasing him, not only about his height, but Caesar’s pride in making clean kills.

“Still using taxis? Caesar said, watching the boxy red and yellow cab leave the parking lot.

“You bet. That way a couple of paisans like us can have a little taste, and I don’t have to worry about getting pulled over for something stupid like speeding and the cops finding a hundred grand on me and a necklace of thumbs–just kidding … about the money. Hey, taxis keep me foot-loose and fancy free … just some old guy being driven to the grocery store, a nobody.”

Little Tony pointed with his chin in the direction of Caesar’s office and two men walked in shutting the door.

Tony took Caesar’s chair and Caesar stood, unsmiling, hands clasped in front, a predator’s still moment before nailing something running through the brush. Tony stretched his long legs far under the desk and leaned back, making himself comfortable. Tilting his head right, glancing down, he grinned as if admiring a pair of severed heads fashioned into a footstool.

“Caesar, you’ve got another nice deal comin’ up. Right in your own backyard. ‘Tis the Season…. After Mass he drops off the wife and tells her he’s going to the cemetery to visit the parents; then runs off to the girlfriend’s. Seems like you got it all figured out.”

“I did my preliminary work a few weeks ago. Wherever he goes he leaves a trail of crumbs a mile wide. Same routines.” Caesar kept it simple with Little Tony. The slightest weakness, lack of knowledge about the mark, and Little Tony would laugh in his face, level another ‘short’ dig, or wipe his feet on Caesar’s code of honor.

Little Tony pointed to the envelope.

“Everything’s there, including your money for Sunday’s job. Boss really liked your last hit, very smooth; eliminated a real problem child. So, he told me to pay you in advance and said to relax for a while. He’s sentimental about Christmas and the start of the New Year is quiet anyway. Besides, he’d like you to keep the decks clear in case he decides to wack Ruth Cassano. Now that would be a Holiday Special.”

Caesar stared, expressionless, blindsided.

Tony said, “Hey, I’m just busting your balls. She’s not down for house-cleaning.”

Caesar didn’t flinch even though his insides tumbled.

“C’mon,” Tony said, opening his arms wide, a moment of truth. “I’m only teasing ya. Everyone knows you had the hots for that witch. The best thing you ever did was stay away from that voodoo snatch. Hey, no firsthand experience, but the boss says she’s on fire down there.” Hand raised, ready for his oath, Tony added, “That’s what I hear–just sayin’.” He made a lopsided shrug. “Frank still likes her. I guess she helped him out with some personal matters, read his fortune, even warned his son might die soon.” He chuckled deeply, a lower register used for moments of wisdom. “Me, I’d never let that witch get anywhere near my joint.”

Caesar hadn’t known about Laconti’s affair with Ruth and now his anger was aimed at his lifelong boss, a downpour of rage, a West Palm Beach storm that clobbers you late afternoon.

Caesar nodded his head and even smiled a few times as they moved on to other topics. He decided Sunday’s hit would be his last. And just as swiftly, a plan surfaced. If Ruth had been privy to Laconti’s business she might be led to believe she was a target. Caesar decided to go after her. It felt right, like the perfect hit. He would bring Ruth terrible knowledge, but also her chance to be saved by the one man who had always loved her.

A short knock and Jeff popped his head in. “I need to make a deposit. Can you watch the store for a few? That couple left. The place is quiet.”

“Sure, and pick up some sandwiches for us,” Caesar said.

Once Jeff was gone, Little Tony rose slowly from his seat and towered over Caesar, leaning close, a wide smile cutting his face in half. Caesar always thought he looked goofy when he smiled like that.

“I gotta tell ya,” Tony said, “it’s now official–heard it on the news.” He yelled like someone winning the lottery–”Ceez, you’re short!” He laughed in spurts, a jagged bark that infuriated Caesar. “The average height in the good old US of A is now five-ten, anything less–like five-eight–is Mr. Short. You remember that song about short people?”

“Are you gonna finally buy something today?”

“I want something big, at least fifty-five inches. And it’s gotta be Panasonic.”

“In the back,” Caesar said. “We got some in this morning. Go take a look. I need to keep an eye on things.” Caesar hustled to the front door, locked it, and flipped the sign from “Open” to “Sorry, We’re Closed.” Returning to the counter, he pulled a smooth piece of rope from a side drawer, stuck it in his pocket and walked stiff with rage toward the stockroom. Barehanded, Tony was ripping open the end of a large box.

“Hey, Shorty, help me out here,” were Tony’s last words as Caesar pulled the rope from his pocket with the flourish of a magician and brought it over Little Tony’s head, crossing his hands, yanking mightily. With a shout he stomped the back of Tony’s leg sending him to the floor, shoving his knee against his back and strangling him. With his face twisted toward Caesar’s, Tony’s eyes seemed to grasp something important and then dimmed.

Caesar wondered if Little Tony heard his words of victory and scorn before he broke his neck for good measure. Later that night Caesar would return, retrieve the body, and feed Tony to the Everglades’ finest.

He felt no remorse for the killing, but felt bad that he had ignored Frank Laconti’s most sage advice from years ago: “Caesar, you have a job to do, do it well, be professional, and clean up after yourself. Don’t make it personal–like, ‘This’ll be easy, I hate this guy’s mug,’ or, even worse, ‘I feel sorry for this guy, he’s just a working stiff with a family.’”

The boss’s warning not to kill for personal reasons kept Caesar from murdering everyone around Ruth, including her husband, and claiming her as his own. Strengthening that attitude was a documentary he had caught late one night, a reenactment of some mad Indian–maybe an Eskimo–blasting away a woman’s entire family and then walking into the house and claiming her. “That lucky Indian lives in a very small world. Not possible in mine.”

Read the rest at Liberty Island here.

****

image via Liberty Island

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Christmas Comes But Once A Year

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Cartoon at Noon

Here is a list of the previous cartoons featured this year:

Disney in Spring

All 75 of the Silly Symphonies, the Gold Standard of the Era:

  1. Walt Disney’s First Silly Symphony: ‘The Skeleton Dance’
  2. PETA Would Hate This 1929 Disney Cartoon…
  3. Nature Animated to Life
  4. A Disney Cartoon Set In Hell!
  5. Getting Drunk With Disney’s Merry Dwarfs
  6. Summer: The Sixth Silly Symphony, A Sequel to Spring
  7. Corn on the Cob as Musical Instrument
  8. A Cannibal-Version of Carmen With Clicking Human Skulls… Made By Walt Disney
  9. Frolicking Fish Almost 60 Years Before The Little Mermaid
  10. Mickey Mouse As a Polar Bear
  11. Toy Story‘s Great Grandfather?
  12. A Bug Flying Too Close to the Fire In the Darkness
  13. Innocence Incarnate: These Smooching Monkeys Will Make You Smile
  14. Goodbye Winter! Disney’s Playful Pan Emerges to Call In Spring (two cartoons)
  15. Birds of a Feather Flock Together
  16. A Cartoon First Released April 17, 1931: Disney’s Mother Goose Melodies
  17. Dora the Explorer’s Politically Incorrect Cameo in a 1931 Disney Cartoon
  18. Apparently Beavers Invented the Wheelbarrow Before Man
  19. A Sweet & Spooky Silly Symphony for Cat Lovers
  20. Egyptian Melodies Vs. Father Noah’s Ark
  21. Geppetto’s Original Workshop And Cogsworth’s Great-grandparents?
  22. When A Cavalry of Horseflies Goes To War Against the Spider
  23. Drinking Tea Before the Fox Hunt
  24. How Much Can an Ugly Duckling Grow Up Over a Decade?
  25. The Marx Brothers As Cartoon Birds
  26. A Primordial Winnie the Pooh
  27. A Dog Jail Break at the Pound!
  28. The First Technicolor Cartoon: Disney’s Still-Amazing ‘Flowers and Trees’
  29. It’s Amazing What Kinds of Cartoons Were Considered Family Friendly in 1932…
  30. Bugs In Love Battle a Blackbird in Black and White
  31. ‘Babes In the Woods’ Vs. The Witch In The Candy Cottage
  32. What Secrets Do You See Inside Santa’s Workshop?
  33. The Snake Hypnotizes His Prey
  34. The Disney Version of Noah’s Ark
  35. An Oscar-Winning Cartoon That Defined the Depression Era
  36. Who’s Ready to Open Pandora’s Box?
  37. Enter Sandman? Where We Go When We Sleep
  38. If You Don’t Pay the Piper He’ll Just Take Your Children Instead…
  39. When Walt Disney Imagined Santa Claus In Alliance With The Robot Toys
  40. The ‘Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil’ Monkeys In Cartoon Form
  41. ‘Oh, the World Owes Us a Livin’…’
  42. Among the Easter Bunny’s Secrets: Scotch-Colored Paint!
  43. Practical Pig Saved Little Red Riding Hood From the Big Bad Wolf
  44. Donald Duck’s First Appearance
  45. The Lesson of the Flying Mouse: Sometimes A Blessing Is Actually A Curse…
  46. Chill Out Today With These ‘Peculiar Penguins’
  47. Compare and Contrast: The Goddess of Spring With Snow White
  48. Slow and Steady Wins the Race?
  49. What Would You Do If Everything You Touched Turned to Gold?
  50. A Cartoon To Teach Kids About the Danger of Celebrating Crime
  51. Dreaming of an Innocent Unity With Nature
  52. A Fantasy Land Where Everything Is Made of Candy…
  53. How Did Disney’s Mae West Bird Caricature Compare With Real Life?
  54. VIDEO: If Romeo and Juliet Were A Saxophone and Cello
  55. Another 1930s Disney Cartoon with Creepy Racial Stereotypes…
  56. What Does It Take to Be the Cock o’ The Walk?
  57. What Is the Fate of Broken Toys?
  58. Elmer Elephant: Is This the Most Adorable Cartoon in the Whole Series?
  59. How Kids Can Learn To Defeat Bullies
  60.  ‘I Like a Man That Takes His Time…’
  61. The 3 Blind Mouseketeers Vs A Room of Traps
  62. A Country Mouse Discovers the Joys of Drinking in the Big City…
  63. This Very Cute Video of ‘Mother Pluto’ Parenting Chicks Will Make You Smile
  64. 3 Troublemaker Kittens Make a Mess in the Garden
  65. The Dark Secrets Hidden in the Woodland Cafe…
  66. What Is Animism?
  67. One of The Classic Breakthroughs In Animation History
  68. When Moths Fly Too Close to The Flame…
  69. 3 Babies Fishing For Stars In Dreamland
  70. Walt Disney Introduces The Farmyard Symphony on the DisneyLand TV Show
  71. Long Before Spongebob: The Underwater Circus of the Merbabies
  72. Katharine Hepburn As Little Bo Peep in Blackface
  73. Practical Pig Delivers a ‘Harsh Interrogation’ To the Big Bad Wolf
  74. This Ugly Duckling Abandoned By His Family Will Melt Your Heart

Mickey Mouse:

  1. ‘Plane Crazy’: Mickey Mouse at the End of the Silent Era

Donald Duck’s first appearances:

  1. “The Wise Little Hen”: Donald Duck’s First Appearance
  2. “Orphan’s Benefit”: Which Character Do You Prefer: Donald Duck Vs Popeye?
  3. “The Dognapper:” Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck Vs The Dognapper
  4. Donald Duck’s 4th Appearance Is One of the 1930s’ Greatest Cartoons
  5. Donald Duck’s 5th Appearance: ”Mickey’s Service Station”
  6. A World War II Donald Duck Cartoon for Veterans Day
  7. How to Fish With Chewing Tobacco and a Club
  8. Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse Take the Orphans for a Picnic
  9. Donald’s Final Appearance in His Original Duckish Design

Pluto:

  1. Pluto Wants Some Turkey Too

Fleischer Studios in Summer

12 Early Betty Boop Cartoons

  1. Betty Boop’s First Appearance
  2. Before Betty Boop Was Beautiful…
  3. Betty Boop as Snow White In A Cartoon For Jazz Lovers
  4. Your Initiation Into Betty Boop’s Secret Society
  5. ‘No, He Couldn’t Take My Boop-Oop-a-Doop Away!’ (2 cartoons featured)
  6. Why You Shouldn’t Try Robbing Betty Boop
  7. The Betty Boop Approach to Dealing With ‘Silly Scandals’
  8. Moving Day for Betty Boop!
  9. A Plus-Size Betty Boop As Kitty From Kansas City
  10. Playing Chess with Betty Boop & Taking a Mean Shot at Mickey Mouse
  11. Betty Boop’s Crazy Inventions
  12. Cab Calloway as ‘The Old Man Of the Mountain’ Chases after Betty Boop

Popeye

  1. Popeye The Sailor’s First Animated Appearance
  2. Which Character Do You Prefer: Donald Duck Vs Popeye?

22 Color Classics, a competitor to the Silly Symphonies:

  1. A Redheaded Betty Boop As Cinderella Debuted a New Series
  2. ‘Joy Like This Cannot Be Bought!’ A Cartoon Variation of Hansel and Gretel
  3. An Elephant Never Forgets
  4. Back When Cartoons Taught the Miraculous Power of Prayer…
  5. ‘Momma Don’t Allow No Music Playin In Here’
  6. Animal Newlyweds Take Their Honeymoon In Outer Space!
  7. Seduced By the Black Swan
  8. An Old Couple Reminisces On Falling In Love…
  9. Somewhere in Dreamland Tonight
  10. When a Chick Tries to Be a Duck
  11. Newlywed Flies Pick The Wrong Hotel For Their Honeymoon
  12. Greedy Humpty Dumpty Enslaves Nursery Rhyme Creatures To Build His Gold Wall to the Sun
  13. Two Lovebirds Take a Hawaiian Honeymoon
  14. Dreaming of a Big Train
  15. An Eccentric Inventor Saves The Orphans’ Christmas
  16. The Wedding of Jack and Jill Rabbit
  17. The Rooster and His Harem…
  18. Animal Symphony Chaos: ‘The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men Often Go Astray…’
  19. VIDEO: A Family of Peeping Penguins Finds a New Home
  20. A Little Fish Has to Learn His Lesson The Hard Way
  21. Cute: Little Lamby Eats His Grass With Sugar
  22. The Vegetable Children Don’t Want to Play With the Little Onion Kid

The Films of Ub Iwerks, co-creator of Mickey Mouse, during his years apart from Disney, studied in the Fall:

Flip the Frog

  1. Flip the Frog: The First Sound Color Cartoon
  2. Flip the Frog Hallucinating in the Opium Den
  3. Flip the Frog Befriends the Ghost Family With Their Skeleton Dog
  4. Flip The Frog Vs The Mouse
  5. The Village Barber
  6. ‘Techno-Cracked’: When Flip the Frog Built a Robot
  7. Why Were so Many 1930s Cartoons Set in a Sultan’s Harem?

Willie Whopper

  1. An Angel Flashing the Middle Finger In a 1930s Cartoon?
  2. Willie Whopper’s Mexican Gun Fight
  3. Willie Whopper Steals Neptune’s Crown

Comicolor Cartoons

  1. A Very Angry Sun Vs. Old Man Winter
  2. A Nutty Knight Escapes from the Insane Asylum
  3. Sinbad the Sailor and His Parrot Enjoy Cigars
  4. The Tailor Vs The Giant and Everyone Vs The Mouse
  5. Baby Bear Has to Learn From Jack Frost the Hard Way…
  6. Simple Simon in the Lion’s Den
  7. The First Cartoon Version of Aladdin
  8. Welcome to Balloon Land! Beware of the Pincushion Man!
  9. Humpty Dumpty Jr. Rescues His Sweetheart from a Bad Egg

Columbia Pictures’ Color Rhapsodies series

  1. Little Nell With a Heart As Big as Texas
  2. The Frog Pond: The Primary Theme of 1930s Cartoons? How to Beat Bullies
  3. Skeleton Frolics: An Undead Orchestra Rehearses

Terrytoons By Paul Terry

  1. How Farmer Al Falfa Survived the Drought
  2. A June Bride: Farmer Al Falfa’s Kitty Elopes With an Alley Cat
  3. The Dancing Mice Make War on Farmer Al Falfa and His Cat
  4. ‘Scotch Highball’: a 1930 Terrytoon of Animals Racing

 Warner Bros in Winter

  1. Porky Pig’s First Appearance
  2. “Plane Dippy”
  3. What Are the Origins of Daffy Duck?

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Which Classic Christmas Cartoons Do You Want This Week?

Monday, December 22nd, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Cartoon at Noon

Here is a list of the previous cartoons featured this year:

Disney in Spring

All 75 of the Silly Symphonies, the Gold Standard of the Era:

  1. Walt Disney’s First Silly Symphony: ‘The Skeleton Dance’
  2. PETA Would Hate This 1929 Disney Cartoon…
  3. Nature Animated to Life
  4. A Disney Cartoon Set In Hell!
  5. Getting Drunk With Disney’s Merry Dwarfs
  6. Summer: The Sixth Silly Symphony, A Sequel to Spring
  7. Corn on the Cob as Musical Instrument
  8. A Cannibal-Version of Carmen With Clicking Human Skulls… Made By Walt Disney
  9. Frolicking Fish Almost 60 Years Before The Little Mermaid
  10. Mickey Mouse As a Polar Bear
  11. Toy Story‘s Great Grandfather?
  12. A Bug Flying Too Close to the Fire In the Darkness
  13. Innocence Incarnate: These Smooching Monkeys Will Make You Smile
  14. Goodbye Winter! Disney’s Playful Pan Emerges to Call In Spring (two cartoons)
  15. Birds of a Feather Flock Together
  16. A Cartoon First Released April 17, 1931: Disney’s Mother Goose Melodies
  17. Dora the Explorer’s Politically Incorrect Cameo in a 1931 Disney Cartoon
  18. Apparently Beavers Invented the Wheelbarrow Before Man
  19. A Sweet & Spooky Silly Symphony for Cat Lovers
  20. Egyptian Melodies Vs. Father Noah’s Ark
  21. Geppetto’s Original Workshop And Cogsworth’s Great-grandparents?
  22. When A Cavalry of Horseflies Goes To War Against the Spider
  23. Drinking Tea Before the Fox Hunt
  24. How Much Can an Ugly Duckling Grow Up Over a Decade?
  25. The Marx Brothers As Cartoon Birds
  26. A Primordial Winnie the Pooh
  27. A Dog Jail Break at the Pound!
  28. The First Technicolor Cartoon: Disney’s Still-Amazing ‘Flowers and Trees’
  29. It’s Amazing What Kinds of Cartoons Were Considered Family Friendly in 1932…
  30. Bugs In Love Battle a Blackbird in Black and White
  31. ‘Babes In the Woods’ Vs. The Witch In The Candy Cottage
  32. What Secrets Do You See Inside Santa’s Workshop?
  33. The Snake Hypnotizes His Prey
  34. The Disney Version of Noah’s Ark
  35. An Oscar-Winning Cartoon That Defined the Depression Era
  36. Who’s Ready to Open Pandora’s Box?
  37. Enter Sandman? Where We Go When We Sleep
  38. If You Don’t Pay the Piper He’ll Just Take Your Children Instead…
  39. When Walt Disney Imagined Santa Claus In Alliance With The Robot Toys
  40. The ‘Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil’ Monkeys In Cartoon Form
  41. ‘Oh, the World Owes Us a Livin’…’
  42. Among the Easter Bunny’s Secrets: Scotch-Colored Paint!
  43. Practical Pig Saved Little Red Riding Hood From the Big Bad Wolf
  44. Donald Duck’s First Appearance
  45. The Lesson of the Flying Mouse: Sometimes A Blessing Is Actually A Curse…
  46. Chill Out Today With These ‘Peculiar Penguins’
  47. Compare and Contrast: The Goddess of Spring With Snow White
  48. Slow and Steady Wins the Race?
  49. What Would You Do If Everything You Touched Turned to Gold?
  50. A Cartoon To Teach Kids About the Danger of Celebrating Crime
  51. Dreaming of an Innocent Unity With Nature
  52. A Fantasy Land Where Everything Is Made of Candy…
  53. How Did Disney’s Mae West Bird Caricature Compare With Real Life?
  54. VIDEO: If Romeo and Juliet Were A Saxophone and Cello
  55. Another 1930s Disney Cartoon with Creepy Racial Stereotypes…
  56. What Does It Take to Be the Cock o’ The Walk?
  57. What Is the Fate of Broken Toys?
  58. Elmer Elephant: Is This the Most Adorable Cartoon in the Whole Series?
  59. How Kids Can Learn To Defeat Bullies
  60.  ‘I Like a Man That Takes His Time…’
  61. The 3 Blind Mouseketeers Vs A Room of Traps
  62. A Country Mouse Discovers the Joys of Drinking in the Big City…
  63. This Very Cute Video of ‘Mother Pluto’ Parenting Chicks Will Make You Smile
  64. 3 Troublemaker Kittens Make a Mess in the Garden
  65. The Dark Secrets Hidden in the Woodland Cafe…
  66. What Is Animism?
  67. One of The Classic Breakthroughs In Animation History
  68. When Moths Fly Too Close to The Flame…
  69. 3 Babies Fishing For Stars In Dreamland
  70. Walt Disney Introduces The Farmyard Symphony on the DisneyLand TV Show
  71. Long Before Spongebob: The Underwater Circus of the Merbabies
  72. Katharine Hepburn As Little Bo Peep in Blackface
  73. Practical Pig Delivers a ‘Harsh Interrogation’ To the Big Bad Wolf
  74. This Ugly Duckling Abandoned By His Family Will Melt Your Heart

Mickey Mouse:

  1. ‘Plane Crazy’: Mickey Mouse at the End of the Silent Era

Donald Duck’s first appearances:

  1. “The Wise Little Hen”: Donald Duck’s First Appearance
  2. “Orphan’s Benefit”: Which Character Do You Prefer: Donald Duck Vs Popeye?
  3. “The Dognapper:” Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck Vs The Dognapper
  4. Donald Duck’s 4th Appearance Is One of the 1930s’ Greatest Cartoons
  5. Donald Duck’s 5th Appearance: ”Mickey’s Service Station”
  6. A World War II Donald Duck Cartoon for Veterans Day
  7. How to Fish With Chewing Tobacco and a Club
  8. Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse Take the Orphans for a Picnic
  9. Donald’s Final Appearance in His Original Duckish Design

Pluto:

  1. Pluto Wants Some Turkey Too

Fleischer Studios in Summer

12 Early Betty Boop Cartoons

  1. Betty Boop’s First Appearance
  2. Before Betty Boop Was Beautiful…
  3. Betty Boop as Snow White In A Cartoon For Jazz Lovers
  4. Your Initiation Into Betty Boop’s Secret Society
  5. ‘No, He Couldn’t Take My Boop-Oop-a-Doop Away!’ (2 cartoons featured)
  6. Why You Shouldn’t Try Robbing Betty Boop
  7. The Betty Boop Approach to Dealing With ‘Silly Scandals’
  8. Moving Day for Betty Boop!
  9. A Plus-Size Betty Boop As Kitty From Kansas City
  10. Playing Chess with Betty Boop & Taking a Mean Shot at Mickey Mouse
  11. Betty Boop’s Crazy Inventions
  12. Cab Calloway as ‘The Old Man Of the Mountain’ Chases after Betty Boop

Popeye

  1. Popeye The Sailor’s First Animated Appearance
  2. Which Character Do You Prefer: Donald Duck Vs Popeye?

22 Color Classics, a competitor to the Silly Symphonies:

  1. A Redheaded Betty Boop As Cinderella Debuted a New Series
  2. ‘Joy Like This Cannot Be Bought!’ A Cartoon Variation of Hansel and Gretel
  3. An Elephant Never Forgets
  4. Back When Cartoons Taught the Miraculous Power of Prayer…
  5. ‘Momma Don’t Allow No Music Playin In Here’
  6. Animal Newlyweds Take Their Honeymoon In Outer Space!
  7. Seduced By the Black Swan
  8. An Old Couple Reminisces On Falling In Love…
  9. Somewhere in Dreamland Tonight
  10. When a Chick Tries to Be a Duck
  11. Newlywed Flies Pick The Wrong Hotel For Their Honeymoon
  12. Greedy Humpty Dumpty Enslaves Nursery Rhyme Creatures To Build His Gold Wall to the Sun
  13. Two Lovebirds Take a Hawaiian Honeymoon
  14. Dreaming of a Big Train
  15. An Eccentric Inventor Saves The Orphans’ Christmas
  16. The Wedding of Jack and Jill Rabbit
  17. The Rooster and His Harem…
  18. Animal Symphony Chaos: ‘The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men Often Go Astray…’
  19. VIDEO: A Family of Peeping Penguins Finds a New Home
  20. A Little Fish Has to Learn His Lesson The Hard Way
  21. Cute: Little Lamby Eats His Grass With Sugar
  22. The Vegetable Children Don’t Want to Play With the Little Onion Kid

The Films of Ub Iwerks, co-creator of Mickey Mouse, during his years apart from Disney, studied in the Fall:

Flip the Frog

  1. Flip the Frog: The First Sound Color Cartoon
  2. Flip the Frog Hallucinating in the Opium Den
  3. Flip the Frog Befriends the Ghost Family With Their Skeleton Dog
  4. Flip The Frog Vs The Mouse
  5. The Village Barber
  6. ‘Techno-Cracked’: When Flip the Frog Built a Robot
  7. Why Were so Many 1930s Cartoons Set in a Sultan’s Harem?

Willie Whopper

  1. An Angel Flashing the Middle Finger In a 1930s Cartoon?
  2. Willie Whopper’s Mexican Gun Fight
  3. Willie Whopper Steals Neptune’s Crown

Comicolor Cartoons

  1. A Very Angry Sun Vs. Old Man Winter
  2. A Nutty Knight Escapes from the Insane Asylum
  3. Sinbad the Sailor and His Parrot Enjoy Cigars
  4. The Tailor Vs The Giant and Everyone Vs The Mouse
  5. Baby Bear Has to Learn From Jack Frost the Hard Way…
  6. Simple Simon in the Lion’s Den
  7. The First Cartoon Version of Aladdin
  8. Welcome to Balloon Land! Beware of the Pincushion Man!
  9. Humpty Dumpty Jr. Rescues His Sweetheart from a Bad Egg

Columbia Pictures’ Color Rhapsodies series

  1. Little Nell With a Heart As Big as Texas
  2. The Frog Pond: The Primary Theme of 1930s Cartoons? How to Beat Bullies
  3. Skeleton Frolics: An Undead Orchestra Rehearses

Terrytoons By Paul Terry

  1. How Farmer Al Falfa Survived the Drought
  2. A June Bride: Farmer Al Falfa’s Kitty Elopes With an Alley Cat
  3. The Dancing Mice Make War on Farmer Al Falfa and His Cat
  4. ‘Scotch Highball’: a 1930 Terrytoon of Animals Racing

 Warner Bros in Winter

  1. Porky Pig’s First Appearance
  2. “Plane Dippy”
  3. What Are the Origins of Daffy Duck?

Read bullet | Comments »

Where to Find Jesus in Oxford, England

Sunday, December 21st, 2014 - by Spencer Klavan

shutterstock_45843661

Since starting my master’s at Oxford this fall, I’ve been looking for a church. A new life in a new country meant I needed a Christian community to remind me who I am. I found one just in time for Christmas. Here’s what I learned on the way.

There are a lot of churches in Oxford. Honestly, you can’t walk down the block without tripping over a church. They tend to be Anglican. But after visiting various services, I started noticing two general kinds of atmosphere — two distinct styles of worship. Now, I’m a layman to my core. I have no business evaluating doctrines or denominations. This is just what I saw. 

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10 Reasons Why a Disney Christmas Is the Best Kind of Holiday

Sunday, December 21st, 2014 - by Chris Queen

If your family is anything like mine, you have plenty of holiday traditions that you cherish. Many of ours revolve around Disney (go ahead and try to act like you’re not surprised). From Disney cartoon shorts, to theme park experiences, to decorations and recipes, we love making Disney a big part of our Christmas celebration.

Here are ten reasons why a Disney Christmas is the best kind of holiday. Enjoy!

YouTube Preview Image

10. Prep & Landing (2009)

After several years with very little new Christmas content (save for holiday episodes of Disney Channel and Disney Junior series), Disney released the computer animated TV movie Prep & Landing in 2009. This winning comedy tells the tale of the elves who work in Santa’s elite Prep & Landing division on Christmas Eve.

An elf named Wayne is bitter at being passed over for a promotion, so he decides to leave most of the work to his new trainee, Lanny. When a snowstorm makes landing at one boy’s house seem impossible, it’s up to Wayne and Lanny to make it happen one way or another.

Prep & Landing spawned two sequels. It’s a cute, funny movie that everyone in the family can enjoy.

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34 Holiday Gifts for the Southern Culture Lover on Your List

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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This holiday season, I know you’ve been wondering: what can I give the Southern culture lover on my gift list? Well, worry no more, because I, your intrepid Southern culture expert, have decided to swoop in like a Christmas miracle and save the day!

Here’s a list of 34 awesome gift choices that cover just about every area of the culture below the Mason-Dixon line. The best part: nearly everything on this list is eligible for Amazon Prime, for all you procrastinators. Enjoy!

5. Explore The Literary South

One of the greatest traditions in the South is storytelling, and a classic Southern story makes a wonderful gift for the bookworm on your list. Here are just a few recommendations.

William Faulkner is one of the best known and most respected authors in the South or anywhere. I’ve always had a difficult time keeping my concentration reading his novels, but I love his short stories. I highly recommend The Collected Stories of William Faulkner (also available for Kindle) as a sort of greatest hits collection and The Uncollected Stories of William Faulkner for deeper cuts (get it here for Kindle).

Georgia’s own Flannery O’Connor also made a name for herself in literary circles, and her short stories are some of the best in American literature as a whole. Check out The Complete Stories (also on Kindle) to experience her true genius in all its glory, but I also recommend the slim volume A Prayer Journal (also on Kindle) for some of the most beautiful, lyrical Christian prayers I’ve ever read.

Of course, there are plenty of great Southern novels to choose from, but here are some of my favorites. Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God delves into the lives of black people in rural Florida with a lyrical flair. In Ellen Foster, by Kaye Gibbons, a precocious orphan tells her own story. James Dickey’s Deliverance is the same harrowing story as the movie, but with greater depth. And Family Linen by Lee Smith is my all-time favorite novel — a twisty, darkly comic family tale.

You can’t go wrong with any of these choices for literature lovers.

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5 Ways to Avoid Christma-fying Your Hanukkah

Monday, December 15th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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It’s fairly obvious that we Jews just don’t get Christmas. Don’t believe me? Check out BuzzFeed’s attempt to get Jews to decorate Christmas trees. (“Who’s Noel?” “Is that like, ‘grassy knoll’?”) Yet, every year we Jewish Americans wrestle as a people over whether or not to incorporate Christmas traditions into our own Hanukkah celebrations. It’s tacky. It’s trite. And it’s really, really lame. Here are five Hanukkah/Christmas hybrids that all Jews need to avoid this holiday season.

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The 5 Merriest Christmas Traditions from Ancient Greece

Sunday, December 14th, 2014 - by Spencer Klavan

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Well, it’s that time of the year: days getting shorter, nights getting colder, choirs singing and priests commemorating the virgin birth. I know what you’re thinking: it must be time for the rural Dionysia! Mmmm, chanting in ritualistic praise of the wine-god just gives me that warm, fuzzy feeling — like eggnog by the fire.

Okay for real though, obviously Christmas is the best holiday in the history of ever. But Christmas as it’s celebrated these days is a mash-up, a “greatest hits” of December festival practices from the ancient and modern world. A lot of our traditions go all the way back to ancient Greece. So to get in the spirit, here are five of my favorite yuletide rituals, along with their ancient Greek roots. They’ve been mathematically ranked and arranged in ascending order depending on how merry and/or bright they are. Happy ancient Greek Christmas, everyone! (And more importantly, happy real Christmas, too.)

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Get In the Seasonal Spirit With Bach’s Christmas Oratorio

Monday, December 8th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Classical Music In the Morning

Want to see something featured and then added to the collection?

Tweet your selections to @DaveSwindle or email DaveSwindlePJM <@> Gmail.Com or leave your thoughts in the comments below. Here are the previous recordings included so far in this new feature:

Johann Sebastian Bach

Ludwig van Beethoven

Hector Berlioz

John Dowland

George Frideric Handel

Joseph Haydn

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Maurice Ravel

Richard Strauss

Franz Schubert

Antonio Vivaldi

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10 Great Southern Destinations for the Christmas Season

Thursday, December 4th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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A region as varied and storied as the South has plenty of wonderful holiday traditions. From the biggest of cities to the tiniest towns, Southerners — and Yankee tourists — have plenty of special ways to spend the Christmas season.

Honestly, I had a tough time picking ten destinations, but I think the ones I chose demonstrate the variety of Southern experiences. Enjoy!

10. Biltmore Estate, Asheville, NC

Ok, so I took some heat for putting Asheville in my list of the 10 Most Overrated Destinations in the South, but I stand by my choice. However, one of Asheville’s most iconic locations makes the list of the ultimate holiday destinations.

The Biltmore Estate is grand and gorgeous year round, but, like so many other places, Christmas decorations add even more beauty. George Vanderbilt’s palatial home hosts a display of holiday cheer that’s hard to top.

During the day, Biltmore offers wine tastings, visits with Santa, and tips for exquisite décor. At night, the estate features candlelight tours and impressive lighting displays. It’s enough to consider fending off those Asheville hipsters!

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Is America Overdue for a Satanic Revival? (Part Two)

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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The “Christmas single” phenomenon is unknown in the U.S., unless you’ve ever watched Love, Actually.

It’s sort of the “Black Friday” of the British music industry. Since so much music is sold (or, at least, used to be) during the holiday season, having the #1 song on the charts during that time gives one lucky record company a financial boost.

After Slade took the top spot in 1973 with their “Merry Xmas Everybody” — beating out  “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” by Wizzard — “an emotional attachment to the Christmas countdown has developed, and for many [in the United Kingdom], it is part of the fabric of their childhood.”

So I doubt many American readers care that there’s a campaign to get Iron Maiden’s old chestnut “The Number of the Beast” to the top of the charts in time for Christmas, “for a laugh.”

What’s really funny (sort of) is that, during the early 1970s, such a campaign would have been denounced on the front page of every British tabloid, and remarked upon within American newspapers’ “entertainment” sections, at the very least.

Why?

Because culture-watchers would see it as yet another sign of the satanic takeover of the culture, and the world — the one I wrote about last week.

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How to Decode the Advent Wreath

Sunday, November 30th, 2014 - by Amelia Hamilton

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Today marks the first Sunday of Advent, the official beginning of the religious Christian season. This is a season rich in meaning and symbolism for Christians, much of which can be found in the Advent wreath.

Found in churches and many Christian homes, many focus on the candles, but the wreath itself is also an important symbol. Wreaths are a circle, with no beginning and end, just as we have been promised eternal life in Christ, an image that many wreaths also continue with the use of evergreens. Laurel signifies victory over persecution and suffering. Pine, holly, and yew mean immortality. Cedar is for strength and healing. Even the decorate holly, with its sharp edges, reminds us of Christ, in the suffering of his crown of thorns. Some decorate an Advent wreath with pine cones, which symbolize resurrection.

Advent is about the light of the world coming to us. You may have noticed that the four Advent candles have different colors: three violet and one rose.  Each week represents one thousand years, symbolizing the 4,000 years of waiting from the Garden of Eden until Christ was born. On the first, second, and fourth Sundays of Lent, we light a violet candle. In the Christian tradition, violet means penance, sacrifice, and prayer. On the third Sunday, the rose candle symbolizes joy. However, each candle has a meaning beyond that.

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12 Steps for a Perfect Pop Culture Christmas

Friday, November 28th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Sometimes it takes an outsider to notice the confusion laced within a holiday message. When it comes to Christmas, the confusion is on overload. Somewhere along the way a religious message got smacked with a load of pop culture overtones to create a holiday lush with semiotic excess, too much for the brain or heart to process. So, allow me from my seat on the sidelines to create the How To guide so you can enjoy the perfect pop culture Christmas.

12. Shop early and shop often for things you’ll never need that are on sale at bargain basement prices.

Christmas really begins on Black Friday, or 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, whichever you prefer. The holiday is about buying to your heart’s content and making sure everything you and your children have ever dreamed of is stacked up under that decorated tree. The bruises and broken limbs you get in pursuit of those awesome sale prices will be well worth it. Who needs teeth when they can have stuff?

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10 Films Set Around Thanksgiving That You Can Stream Tonight

Thursday, November 27th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Looking for a movie to watch this holiday that’s at least somewhat relevant to the season? Perfect. We’ve got you covered.

These films aren’t necessarily about Thanksgiving, although a couple of them are. Regardless, they each have some connection to the holiday and provide a welcome escape. Here are 10 films set around Thanksgiving that you can stream tonight:

#10. Tower Heist

Capitalizing on real-life headlines regarding Wall Street graft and investment Ponzi schemes, Tower Heist imagines how the staff of a high-rise luxury apartment complex would react to the news that their most high-profile tenant had squandered their retirement savings. The comedy stars Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck, and Alan Alda.

When Alda’s Wall Street billionaire is arrested for scamming investors out of their money, Stiller’s building manager recruits Murphy’s petty thief to help the defrauded building staff steal their money back.

Thanksgiving Connection: The titular heist occurs during the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Streaming options: Available to rent/buy on Amazon and Vudu.

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