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5 Ways Hebrew Is (Very) Different from English

Sunday, January 25th, 2015 - by P. David Hornik

When I started learning Hebrew at age 29, one year before moving to Israel, it seemed daunting. Until then, English was the only language I knew; now, at a relatively late age, I was setting out to learn another one that had a different alphabet, belonged to a different language family, and was overall distant and exotic from the standpoint of English.

Some of the ways in which Hebrew differs from English were indeed hard to get used to, others not so much. What was fascinating was to find how there are different modes of human speech. While the content of what gets expressed is basically the same, the mechanisms for doing so are not. It would be all the more intriguing to learn a third language; I wish I had the time.

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What if Red Dawn Happened, But It Was Islamic Terrorists Instead of Communists?

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 - by Frank J. Fleming

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Now, I’ll just get this out of the way: I know some of you are going to say, “Hey, Liberty Island is also publishing your first novel, Superego, so you might just be saying this to help yourself.” Well, I don’t have time for your insane conspiracy theories. Why don’t you go back to disproving the moon landing. Besides, you know you can trust me. Remember that time in 2008 when I said I thought Barack Obama might not be that great of a president? I was mainly right about that. I never lead you wrong.

Anyway, The Big Bang is about an alternate history where Islamic extremists actually take over the U.S. after 9/11. As you might imagine, we end up with a lot more problems than which cartoons we’re allowed to publish. Now, you might wonder how in the world those idiots could accomplish taking over our country, but the title of the book gives you a bit of a clue to that. Not to reveal too much, but a lot goes wrong, worldwide, all at once.

The story jumps between a number of characters at different points in time — before, during, and after the titular tragedy. I was absolutely riveted trying to find out more about what had happened and thinking about how we really would react in such a situation (it made me very thankful that our country is awash in guns).

A number of the main characters are real people. I was a little unsure how that would play out, but Griffis fleshed them out very well and didn’t turn them into caricatures. All the details in the book are really well done, and Griffis makes the devastation and invasion frighteningly real.

I’ll definitely read the next book, as it’s pretty obvious from the ending that this is the first part of a series (it’s also obvious because the subtitle of the book is “Lonesome George Chronicles Book 1″ — sort of like how you knew there’d be another war when they named the first one World War I). The Big Bang is a thrilling story, and I highly recommend it. With such a great start, I’m really excited to see what other books Liberty Island publishes… whether or not they were written by me.

******

Editor’s Note: This post is part of an ongoing dialogue between the writers of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island regarding the future of conservatism and the role of emerging counter-cultures in restoring American exceptionalism. See the previous installments in the series and join the discussion:

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The Metaphorical War

Friday, January 16th, 2015 - by Stephen McDonald

Why the disconnect between conservative electoral wins these last thirty-five years, and how leftward American culture and law has slithered? How did it come to this?

Thought being the father of action, ineffective efforts spring from flawed worldviews.  Our ballot box wins having proven at best delaying actions against the Left’s Borg-like assimilation of the United States, it is time for conservatives to take a hard look at how conservatism views itself and the Left.

Ultimately, much of the problem results from certain conceptual metaphors inherent in modern conservatism. Change those metaphors, and different, more effective actions will result.

The Importance of Conceptual Metaphor

A conceptual metaphor means understanding one idea in terms of another—for instance, argument is war or life is a journey. What metaphor we use affects how we act on or towards the idea.

As George Lakoff and Mark Johnson discuss in their groundbreaking work on the subject, Metaphors We Live By, we see markers of conceptual metaphors scattered throughout our language.  Because our culture views argument as war, we seek to win debates, attack our opponent’s position, claim their position is indefensible, and probe for weak points in the other side’s argument. With such a metaphor, it is not surprising that arguments are often very charged in our culture.

To demonstrate how profoundly different conceptual metaphors can affect views and actions towards the same subject, Lakoff and Johnson mused on how a society that likened argument not to war but to a dance might approach debate:

[T]he participants are seen as performers, and the goal is to perform in a balanced and aesthetically pleasing way. In such a culture, people would view arguments differently, experience them differently, carry them out differently, and talk about them differently [than in a culture where argument is war]. But we would probably not view them as arguing at all: they would simply be doing something different. It would seem strange even to call what they were doing “arguing.”

A more individual example of how conceptual metaphors can affect thought and so action is to imagine two men. One thinks of life as a gift. The other thinks of life as struggle. Who’s more likely to have a happier life?

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This Graphic Novel Has Tremendous Potential In the Culture War

Sunday, January 11th, 2015 - by Andrew Klavan

I don’t know Anthony Gonzales-Clark, but he brought this Kickstarter crowd-funding project to my attention, and it genuinely looks cool and worth supporting. Gonzales-Clark wants to create a graphic novel called “City On A Hill,” about the history and ideas behind the American founding.

To have such a graphic novel produced by a guy who reads Thomas Sowell (featured prominently in the appeal) would be no small strike in the culture war, so if you have a couple of bucks, try to help Gonzales-Clark reach his 11K plus goal.

*****

Cross-posted from Klavan on the Culture

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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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10 Fantastic Christmas Stories From Creative Writers

Thursday, December 25th, 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.” 

The Grand Prize Winner in the Holiday Writing Contest:

Who Won The Grand Prize in the Holiday Writing Contest? Read an excerpt of “The 1011000-100110110000011010011 Truce” by Thomas A. Mays here.

Four Honorable Mentions, also excerpted at PJ Lifestyle over the past week:

Get the Greek – A Chrismukkah Tale

Turkey Legs Boned & Rolled Like Veal, Just as Tender but Tastier

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

Have a Very Martian Christmas…

And here are links to the five runners up:

Lunar Christmas by Leigh Kimmel

ELFILTRATED – A Tale of Deception by Susan Ouellette

An “Out”-standing Chanukah by Marina Fontaine

Water Like A Stone by Elisabeth Wolfe

Festive by Adan Ramie

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image illustration via shutterstock / 

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Have a Very Martian Christmas…

Wednesday, December 24th, 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,” and the third here: ‘I Don’t Want to See a Trail of Bodies, Unless They’re the Bodies I’ve Blessed for Destruction.’

Here’s an excerpt from “Better or Worse” by Mary Madigan, the fourth runner up in the Holiday Writing Contest:

“Live the Martian adventure” the ads said. “Mars has jobs.” Amy said. So Joe packed their bags and they left their hometown in Northern Great Lakestan, convinced that this new life would be better.

It wasn’t. There were jobs and the pay was good, but they were mostly desk jobs–the kind of work that you learn in an hour and wash/rinse/repeat for the rest of your life.

In every other way, Mars was the same as Wisconsin –eleven months of winter and one month of black flies. There were the same stores stocking the same junk–ice fishing supplies, hydroponic marijuana, buffalo algaesnaps and pasties (not the fun kind). There only way he could tell that he was not still in Wisconsin was when the snow melted. The mud that slimed the streets was red, not brown.

They even kept their Wisconsin routine. Weekends were spent repairing stuff in the house. Then they’d trudge outside for groceries and their weekly flu shot. Then they’d go back home, nuke dinner, turn on the TV and shiver under blankets until it was time to go to bed. Wash/rinse/repeat.

They were headed to the grocery store now, wobbling over ice, snow whirling around their feet like wisps of smoke. Christmas decorations added a little bit of color, but they’d already transported their presents months ago, to a family that was much too far away. There was no one to shop for but themselves.

As they passed the Port Tharsis Yacht club, Amy glanced longingly at the ships. They had met in pilot training. They both had high hopes of working on a transport and living on a space station, maybe Caprica. But low salaries, few job openings for pilots and ridiculous hours had changed those plans. They could live together and have desk jobs or they could follow their dreams and live apart. So they chose to be together. For better or worse.

Joe glanced into the Yacht Club window. Behind the fogged windows the guys inside were laughing. One guy turned and saw him, gave him a look that said. “I have a ship and I can leave this sad Martian rock anytime I please. And you, you pathetic little groundling–you can’t.”

Some ships were covered for the season, snow floating a few centimeters over their energy shields. Others were uncovered, still steaming after a quick descent through the atmosphere. One ship, pockmarked by rubble strikes but freshly cleaned, had a piece of paper laying on the ground beside it. Joe picked it up. “For Sale.”

The want, no, the need to own this ship, to be that guy in that Club hit him like a rogue wave. He had to convince Amy, right here and right now to buy this ship. As Yoda said. “Do… or do not. There is no try.”

Amy was already walking away, her boots crunching into the distance. He had to think fast, and of course the first thought in his head was more wisdom from Star Wars. This time, it was reverse psychology.

“What a piece of junk,” he said.

“Yeah.” she said. Her boots crunched towards him. “But imagine how nice it would be if we could just wormhole away on the weekends. To Fhloston pleasure planet …”

“Or Kepler-16b.” he said. “Two suns and a tiki bar on every corner.”

“Hmm…” she said, and his heart skipped a beat. Then he overplayed his hand. “It would make a great Christmas present. We haven’t spent my bonus check yet.”

“But…” she said “…we were going to use that for a new couch.”

Click here to read the rest at Liberty Island

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image illustration via shutterstock / 

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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.

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image via Liberty Island

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Turkey Legs Boned & Rolled Like Veal, Just as Tender but Tastier

Monday, December 22nd, 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: “Get the Greek – A Chrismukkah Tale

Here’s an excerpt from “Wild Turkey“:

“You won’t snooker me twice,” said Chili.

James Riggio gave his mouthful of Copper Bottom ale the attention it deserved before he swallowed and said, “I haven’t snookered you once.”

“Who owns the Hubbub Pub, you or me?” Before James could say word one, Chili bulled on. “And who has the recipe for Hubbub Chili, you or me?”

“Who owns the recipe,” James corrected. “You never even asked me for it until folks started calling you Chili. That’s when you decided you had hindsight squatter’s rights.”

He watched Chili in the mirror that lined the Pub’s long bar. Bone-thin, always moving–even now he polished an already gleaming bar as he complained. A rusty Fu Manchu mustache, hair to match, face almost as red. An added watch-your-step about him tonight. As though what he wanted from James had little to do with what he said.

“You even worked it the same,” Chili said. “Hauling in your damn wild turkey roasts last Christmas the same way you did that first vat of chili–two years ago?”

“About.” A few months after James had looked around Copper Falls, Montana, bagged his deer, tried out the ski hill, and decided to sink his savings into a big old house near Main Street he was restoring by inches, kitchen first. The house was zoned commercial, he could use it for Game Chef, his catering business. James delivered a vat of chili to the Pub Monday and Thursday year round. It paid almost half his mortgage.

“If your customers were satisfied,” he said, “what’s the problem?”

“This Wednesday is the damn problem. Christmas. Everybody knows why young’uns get the turkey legs, they got stronger teeth. Wild turkey is twice as tough. Your roasts–”

Turkey legs boned and rolled like veal, just as tender but–in James’ not so humble opinion–tastier: Chili made that sound like an insult.

James kept his mouth shut, except for sipping ale.

“You won’t snooker me twice,” Chili said again. “I want the recipe up-front, and it belongs to the Hubbub Pub.”

No way in hell would James share a recipe with Chili.

He said mildly, “We thrashed this out before hunting season, Chili. I said I’d show Seth what to do, but he couldn’t write it down. Why the trip down Memory Lane?”

Chili refilled James’ mug and pulled one for himself. A warning all by itself: Chili never drank in his own bar, even after closing.

This time he drained his mug–in swallows, not that fast–avoiding James’ eyes.

James studied him openly now, sipping his ale, running through possibilities. Only one fit.

“Merry hell,” said James. “Seth’s gone.”

Chili pulled himself another mug. “Bull’s-eye.”

“I thought the kitchen ran ragged tonight. You’re telling me Seth walked out on you the Sunday before Christmas? Who hired him away?”

Now that James had reached his real grievance, Chili seemed to go back to normal, turning his mug just to busy his hands.

“Near as I can make out, nobody,” he said. “Seth left here Friday night and hasn’t been seen since.”

As often as James saw Seth in the Hub’s kitchen, it should have been easy to picture him. It wasn’t. Flyaway dun-colored hair tamed by a bandana, gray eyes, stubble, a good half a head shorter than James. Quiet. A watcher. James couldn’t call anything else to mind.

“He didn’t strike me as the kind to walk away,” James said. “I’d never have trusted him with the turkey recipe.”

“Me, neither. Although I guess you wouldn’t know unless a guy, you know, walked away.”

“He live with his parents?” He could be young enough.

“Has a trailer up by the tracks.”

Once Copper Falls had been a railroad stop. Shabby trailers now filled the yards on either side of the abandoned tracks. Squatters.

“You checked?” James asked.

“Since I didn’t take it serious till the middle of lunch today–” Chili sighed. “I drove up about four. His truck wasn’t there. Nobody in his trailer.”

“Seth’s a grown man. The police wouldn’t be interested after only–what, a day and a half?”

“Why I didn’t bother them.”

“They’d just say he’ll turn up. They’re probably right.” James straightened to leave. “There’s always next year.”

Chili’s stare was unpleasant. “You don’t read the paper, James?”

In winter? Between hunting and cooking and skiing, even sleep was an afterthought.

Chili reached under the bar for a section of the Mirror, stared down at it, folded it. Presented it to James. A quarter-page ad. The top line read like always, The Hubbub at the Pub. This time the copy continued: Why cook on Christmas? Game Chef’s famous wild turkey roasts for Christmas dinner. Chef James Riggio guarantees the first hundred servings, after that you’ll have to fight for one.

“So if Seth don’t come back, you’re stuck, boyo,” Chili said with relish. “Same as me.”

“For Christ’s sake, Chili, I have my own customers. Seth is not my problem.”

Chili stabbed the paper with a forefinger. “Maybe you didn’t see where it saysJames Riggio?”

“You never even asked me.”

“This here is Saturday’s paper. It’s in this morning, too. I’m running it right up through Wednesday.”

Or lay there on the air. Redheads liked ultimatums and they didn’t like backing down. Unstable combination. James didn’t need a confrontation with his best customer.

“Worst comes to worst,” he said like surrender, “I might have a few roasts left over from my customers.”

“Worst comes to worst,” Chili said right back, “you cook them roasts in my kitchen, same as Seth would have.”

When James stared without answering, Chili added, “Lots of chili recipes out there, James.”

Not an or, then, an or else: cancel your business and tend to mine, or you’ll have a lot less business to tend.

James thought of his slowly lengthening list of regulars. Christmas would be his biggest day ever. By far. If he cancelled on them without warning, how many would come back? He thought of the Hubbub Pub, packed to the walls seven nights a week with noise to match. Most nights some of that noise was about James’ chili. Steady free good publicity for Game Chef. If the Pub had no wild turkey to serve Christmas Day, Chili would badmouth James every chance he got.

He thought of the Pub’s Seth-less kitchen.

“I’ll take door number three, Chili.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I’ll find Seth.”

Read the rest at Liberty Island here.

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image illustration via Shutterstock / 

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The Villains You Choose

Monday, December 22nd, 2014 - by Aaron C. Smith

Oscar Wilde once said that “you can always judge a man by the quality of his enemies.”

What holds true for men holds true for nations and cultures as well.

An America confident in its values and place in the world watched the villainy of Nazis and Soviets on the big screen and later television. After cultural revolution wracked America in the ’60s and ’70s, the new bad guys were Big Business and old white men in the alphabet soup of intelligence agencies.

By seeing how Hollywood wanted to wear (hey, trigger warning) a black hat, America, and the world, saw what the cultural revolutionaries wanted them to see. Since their enemy was traditional America, we knew the quality of the progressives to be low.

But Wilde only got it half right. It’s not just who you stand against. How you make that decision gives insight into quality. Sony’s decision to pull The Interview in light of cyber-warfare and terror threats highlights this truth.

The Wall Street Journal explains how in future films North Korea is going to get the kid-glove treatment in terms of being a big screen bad guy:

[t]he calculus involving North Korea appeared to be changing quickly following the Sony hack and its aftermath, and many studios were reconsidering even minor references to the Communist nation.

However, the reason for putting the Hermit State off limits has nothing to do with political correctness. It’s not sympathy for the regime’s Juche political philosophy, the way Sean Penn pals around with Latin American Marxists. In its own way, one might admire, or at least comprehend, political solidarity.

Nope. We’re witnessing abject fear.

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Get the Greek – A Chrismukkah Tale

Sunday, December 21st, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Yesterday featured an excerpt from the grand prize winner here.

Today check out the first runner-up with a smart fantasy approach to the angelic world:

Judah Maccabee spat a curse, reached out to slam the laptop shut, and threw both hands in the air instead. Rivka kept telling him it was a waste of time watching World Jews Tonight. Why do you want to raise your blood pressure with all that bad news, she would ask. Earth’s a billion miles away on a whole other plane of existence, for cat’s sake.

“Because it matters,” he grumbled in response to her imaginary carping. “I didn’t die watching my own guts spill out on the hills of Elasa so Jews could put up Hanukkah bushes in December. They might as well burn offerings to Apollo.”

Rivka called out from the kitchen, “Did you say something, dear?”

Shaking his head as much to clear it as deny he’d spoken, he replied, “Ah, no, honey. Just watching the news.”

“Well, dinner’s almost ready. Florence and Chaim’ll be here in five minutes.”

He fumbled around the surface of the desk, frowning. Where did I–

“Your sunglasses’re in the top right drawer,” Rivka supplied helpfully.

*

As Judah helped himself to another square of kugel, Rivka said, “So, Chaim, I hear you’re in for a promotion. Moving into, what did your uncle call it? Qantas tunnels? So you’ll be stopping plane crashes?”

“Quantum tunneling,” Chaim said with a smile. “I’ll be an assistant project manager on Heisenberg’s team.”

“Excuse me. Quantum tunneling.” Rivka winked at Judah, who had dipped his kugel into the last remnants of brisket gravy on his plate. “Why assistant? Shouldn’t you be a full manager by now?”

Chaim turned to smile at Florence. “I could, but then I’d have to go up the Ladder. Take on a new form. Florence and I talked about it, and I’d rather stay here for another century.”

Beaming quite literally, Florence squeezed Chaim’s arm. She taught souls in the Guf everything they needed to know before conception, and the joy of her work manifested itself in a glow that rivaled the Sun.

“Ach. Such lovebirds,” Rivka said, somewhat wistfully.

It occurred to Judah that in his life and youth, he might have given Rivka a mouth-bruising kiss at this point, something promising a night of lovemaking that would make Solomon himself add a Parental Advisory sticker to his Song of Songs had it been described therein. He still could; after all, they were both in youthful, beautiful bodies of spirit made flesh, and the way she’d bent over to take the brisket out of the oven had reminded him why he’d married her 1093 years ago.

But he was still so damned mad.

What in Sheol is happening down there? Is it the fat guy with the beard? A realHanukkah celebration would have a ceremonial Greek getting his head caved in with a hammer–

“What’s wrong, Judah? You’re a million miles away,” Rivka said.

“Sorry,” he muttered, put a fake smile on his face, and asked Chaim, “How did you celebrate Hanukkah? In your life. It’s getting to be that time of year down there.”

Grimacing thoughtfully, Chaim replied, “Well, I didn’t spend a lot of time alive, but from what I remember, we lit the menorah, ate latkes, and got presents every day for eight days. Water pistols, action figures, that kind of thing.” Something in Judah’s expression must have concerned him, because he added, quickly, “We said the brucha, of course, Uncle Judah. If you want, I can bring over the DVDs. Most of them are still in the packaging.”

Judah shook his head. Chaim was a nice kid, but he’d been part of the problem.

*

Rivka waited until the credits rolled on The Will & Oscar Comedy Hour to say, “So. Are you going to tell me what’s wrong, or are we playing Twenty Questions?” She put the TV on mute.

Judah started to shrug, thought better of it, and said, “Just the time of year. You know.”

“Ach. Every year we do this,” she said. “Does Mattathias brood every Hanukkah? No.”

Scowling, he leaned toward her in his Barcalounger and said, “Mattathias doesn’t care about what happens to our people anymore. He’s up in Tiferet somewhere making cat souls.”

“Exactly!” she exclaimed. “He’s moved on. Like you should.”

“So you want to go up the Ladder? Move out and start, I don’t know, as thought-forms in some crystal matrix in an antimatter galaxy? Or making cat souls with my brother?”

“It’s better than this…this sulking!” she flared.

God, she was beautiful, with her dark, angry eyes and her brown hands fisted in her lap. Without another word, he rose, pulled her into his arms, and carried her to the bedroom.

But it wasn’t as good as he’d hoped. His mind was still elsewhere.

*****

Read the rest at Liberty Island

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Who Won The Grand Prize in the Holiday Writing Contest?

Saturday, December 20th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Liberty Island has announced one grand prize winner, four runners up, and five honorable mentions in this year’s Holiday Writing Contest. They’ll each be excerpted here at PJ Lifestyle through the week.

Start your holidays with a bang. Here’s an excerpt from the Grand Prize Winner, check out “The 1011000-100110110000011010011 Truce” by Thomas A. Mays:

“Merry freakin’ Christmas, boys. It don’t get no better than this.” Staff Sergeant Malcolm Riddell glared at the snowy, broken battlefield before him and took another long pull from the glass bottle in his hand. The amber liquid within burned harshly going down, but that pleasant pain was a welcome distraction from the monotony the Keystone War had devolved into.

“Pardon, SSGT,” a nearby Jarhead buzzed, “recommend you return to the bunker immediately. Your exposure may constitute an acceptable target upon which the enemy can expend resources.” The vaguely humanoid robot remained prone with its weapon, squelched into the battlefield’s half-frozen mud, but it had oriented its stereoscopic targeting head toward him. Riddell figured that meant it “cared,” at least a little.

“Well, hell, I wouldn’t want to upset anybody’s combat calculus, would I?” He turned around and staggered back to the open hatch leading to his own deep shelter. At the utmost limit of his hearing he could perceive the growing whistle of artillery, so he staggered a bit faster. By the time he had both of the surface airlock’s hatches dogged and started down the ladder, the screaming whumps of exploding laser-guided shells shook his access trunk and tore apart the Canadian border soil of the ground overhead. He briefly wondered if the poor Jarhead model on watch would survive intact.

At the bottom of the trunk, deeper than even hyper-velocity orbital bombardment bunker busters could reach, a much more humanoid Elite command bot awaited him, surrounded by a baker’s dozen of the short, many-limbed Grunt models, tidying up where they could. His own slovenly state seemed to be gaining ground despite their best efforts, however. The Elite passed its unblinking nest of red and black eyes over their efforts and then focused on Riddell. “You should not take such needless chances, SSGT. Where would the war effort be if you perished?”

Riddell smiled. “I imagine the ‘war effort’ would suddenly have a large surplus of bad bourbon to go along with its slight decrease in personnel. Don’t imagine for a second that I’m vital to this fight, ‘Leet. I am the very definition of expendable, not that I’ll be expended any time soon given the current stalemate.”

“Combat operations are not permitted in complete autonomy. If you were to be killed, we would be barred from any offensive actions until a new human overseer reported on station. This would unacceptably give the Canadian drone forces a distinct tactical and strategic advantage through a reevaluation of the risk/resource balance.”

“Oh no! You mean you finally might start shooting at one another? What a terrible thing to happen in your shooting war.” Riddell’s sarcasm was deep enough that even the bot could appreciate it.

The Elite’s hard drive whirred for a moment in its chest before the bot responded. “SSGT, you have made your feelings regarding combat calculus and autonomous drone warfare well known. We need not rehash old arguments.”

“Ha! Like I have anything better to do!” His laugh contained little humor. Riddell plopped into a threadbare chair in front of his dusty operations console. “‘Leet, the whole reason everyone started using autonomous combat drones and bots was to shorten conflicts, reduce errors, and save lives when war could not be avoided. The problem is, you machines are completely beholden to this combat calculus, refusing to make a move or expend resources unless you perceive a decisive tactical advantage. And the other side does the exact same thing, with the end result being we’ve all maneuvered ourselves into a worldwide standoff, everyone poised for combat on a dozen different fronts, but nobody actually shooting unless somebody makes a mistake or shifts the calculus. Thus, I am stuck here, watching over fighting robots that DON’T FIGHT, instead of going home and ENJOYING CHRISTMAS!”

The Elite’s hard drive whirred even longer this time. “Please explain the operational significance of Christmas.”

Riddell laughed again, but at least his braying contained some actual humor this time. “Christmas has no operational significance, which is what makes it so significant. Let that one burn up your logic circuits.” The humor did not last, however. Bitterness returned and Riddell leaned forward, elbows on knees, his face in his hands.

He continued. “War is a terrible thing: achieving sociopolitical goals through the complicated process of killing the people who disagree with you until they concede your side of the argument. But there were moments of grace–distinctly human moments–that made it less awful. Christmas was one of those.” He looked up from his hands. “Did you know that back in World War One both sides actually stopped fighting for Christmas? They came out of their trenches and foxholes and celebrated the holiday together, exchanging gifts and uniforms, playing soccer. It was called the Christmas Truce. Look it up.”

Read the Rest at Liberty Island

****

image illustration via Liberty Island

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Who Are the Top 20 Conservative Columnists of 2014?

Thursday, December 18th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

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Here was the list from last year:

10. Ross Douthat

9. Frank Gaffney

8. Daniel Pipes

7. Rich Lowry

6. Jonah Goldberg

5. Mark Steyn

4. Dennis Prager

3. Ben Shapiro

2. Thomas Sowell

1. Ann Coulter

And here’s where I explained why Charles Krauthammer wasn’t on it (and why he won’t be on this year’s either, so don’t even bother asking): “3 Basic Differences Between Conservatism and Neoconservatism.” Also remember: I’m strict about this list being A) a list of regular columnists who write articles — not bloggers, tweeters, journalists, radio hosts, or TV pundits. B) not including anyone that I currently edit here at PJM, and C) a way to define the values, principles, and stylistic techniques of Conservatism 3.0.

I still need to finish my review of all their columns, but I’m not aware yet of anything that any of the previous year’s 10 columnists would have done or written to warrant an exclusion from this year’s list. Are you? There might be a little shuffling of the rankings, though, and it’s entirely possible that someone could jump into the top 10 or even top 5…

*******

image illustration via shutterstock / 

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My Growing List of 65 Read-ALL-Their-Books Authors

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

Editor’s Note: We’re launching some discussions this winter in dialogue with the new fiction publishing company Liberty Island. See the previous installments: David S. Bernstein on November 19: “5 Leaders of the New Conservative Counter-Culture,”  Dave Swindle on November 25: “7 Reasons Why Thanksgiving Will Be My Last Day on Facebook,” and this collection of discussion starters from yesterday: “60 Questions to Provoke Debates About How to Fix Our Popular Culture.” To learn more about Liberty Island and their extraordinary writers see the collection “How To Join This Unique Team of 33 Creative Writers.”

Dear Jeremy Swindle,

I’d like to thank you for inspiring me with your PJ Lifestyle articles this fall. They confirmed for me something I already knew and now take extreme pleasure in bragging to others about: my younger brother has more natural writing ability than I.

You have a lot of potential, Jere, and lots of choices about where you’re going to choose to focus your creative energy and how you’ll refine your craft. In figuring that out I’m going to try to caution you against some of the mistakes that I’ve made over the last 15 years in my wanderings across culture, religion, and political ideology.

Your writing and your destiny is your own and it’s not my agenda to try to convert you to my positions. Rather, I want to try and give you a map of the territory that I’ve explored so far. Some of the books and authors I’ve gone through may be helpful to you as you continue do develop your own style and priorities.

I believe it’s important to study broadly across many subjects. Over the coming weeks and months my goal is to finish the giant-size recommended reading guide that I’m making the first part of my book. I’m planning on 365 books total, organized into 7 lists of 52 each. And as I’m writing each part in epistolary format with a specific reader in mind, for this opening section I’ve decided to write it to you, Jere. I’m trying to assemble an alternative college reading list, a Good Will Hunting, DIY, just-pay-the-late-charges-at-the-library, book-reading education. This is still the most entertaining scene of the movie, isn’t it?

At the core of the list there are several writers I’d direct more attention to than others. These authors are worth trying to take in in full. They range from famous, even legendary, long dead figures to writers only a few years older than you who I’ve worked with for years. All continually inspire me — just don’t assume that I necessarily agree with everything they write or that I’ve read all of their works yet. Here’s the list, I’ve written about most of these authors already and will be presenting the case for each of them. Some, like Aleister Crowley and Ann Coulter, are very misunderstood by many — don’t make the mistake of dismissing a writer just because some of their soundbites might throw you: 

  1. Howard Bloom
  2. Robert Spencer
  3. Michael Ledeen
  4. Daniel Pipes
  5. Kathy Shaidle
  6. Barry Rubin
  7. David P. Goldman
  8. Andrew C. McCarthy
  9. Leszek Kolakowski
  10. Paul Johnson
  11. Thomas Sowell
  12. Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa
  13. Stanley Kurtz
  14. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  15. Ben Shapiro
  16. Dennis Prager
  17. Joseph Telushkin
  18. David Mamet
  19. Robert Anton Wilson
  20. Camille Paglia
  21. Weston La Barre
  22. J. Christian Adams
  23. Shelby Steele
  24. Ann Coulter
  25. Adam Carolla
  26. Michael Walsh
  27. William F. Buckley, Jr.
  28. Andrew Klavan
  29. James Madison
  30. Roger Kimball
  31. Theodore Dalrymple
  32. Allan Bloom
  33. Roger L. Simon
  34. Douglas Rushkoff
  35. George Gilder
  36. Hannah Sternberg
  37. Frank J. Fleming
  38. John Waters
  39. Glenn Reynolds
  40. Helen Smith
  41. Ray Kurzweil
  42. James Wasserman
  43. John Whiteside Parsons
  44. Maimonides
  45. Niccolò Machiavelli
  46. Benjamin Franklin
  47. Aleister Crowley
  48. Booker T. Washington
  49. Israel Regardie
  50. Thomas Jefferson
  51. John Adams
  52. Ron Radosh
  53. Victor Davis Hanson
  54. Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik
  55. Franz Rosenzweig
  56. J.R.R. Tolkien
  57. Michael Barrier
  58. Frederick Douglass
  59. Alejandro Jodorowsky
  60. Lisa De Pasquale
  61. Shmuley Boteach
  62. Abraham Lincoln
  63. Gary Lachman
  64. Sarah Hoyt
  65. Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Jere, I hope to include you on a future version of this list…

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60 Questions to Provoke Debates About How to Fix Our Popular Culture

Monday, December 1st, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Pop Culture Debates!

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Editor’s Note: We’re launching some new discussions and debates this winter in dialogue with the new fiction publishing company Liberty Island. See the previous installments: David S. Bernstein on November 19: “5 Leaders of the New Conservative Counter-Culture,” and Dave Swindle on November 25, “7 Reasons Why Thanksgiving Will Be My Last Day on Facebook.” Some of the questions from the PJ Lifestyle Pop Culture debates feature from over the summer might make for good starting point as we start to consider the novels coming this month, SuperEgo by Frank J. Fleming and  The Big Bang (Lonesome George Chronicles Book 1) by Roy M Griffis. To learn more about Liberty Island and to see some of the writers contributing see the most recent collection of interviews and story excerpts: “How To Join This Unique Team of 33 Creative Writers. ” Submissions are due in a week for their current Writing Contest seeking messed-up Holiday short stories. Details here

Which Fantasy and Science Fiction Trends Should We Embrace?

  1. What If Obi-Wan Wanted to Tell Luke The Truth About His Father But Yoda Overruled Him?
  2. Who Are the Most Terrifying Figures in Fantasy Fiction and Films?
  3. Which Fantasy Stories Most Inspire You to Want to Fight For Freedom?
  4. Star Trek, Star Wars, Both, or Neither?
  5. Who Are the Scariest Science Fiction and Fantasy Villains of All Time?
  6. DC Vs. Marvel: Which Company Created a More Compelling Fictional Universe?
  7. What Are The Best Time Travel Stories?
  8. Is Game of Thrones Good Or Bad For Fantasy?
  9. Star Trek (of any Flavor), or Babylon Five? That *Is* the Question.’ Regards, Allston
  10. Who Are the Best Characters in the Star Trek Universe?
  11. How Would You Rank the Star Trek Movies?

What Are the Best and Worst in Film?

  1. Who Is Today’s Most Overrated Filmmaker?
  2. What Is Oliver Stone’s Worst Movie?
  3. What Is the Coen Brothers’ Best Movie?
  4. Is Wolf of Wall Street One of Martin Scorsese’s Worst Films?
  5. Who Is the Gen-X Woody Allen? Linklater Vs. Smith Vs. Baumbach
  6. What Are Stanley Kubrick’s Greatest Films?

What Makes For Innovative TV?

  1. What Is the Most Shocking Crime Drama on TV Today?
  2. What TV Shows Were the Most Ahead of Their Time?
  3. What Are the Top 5 Episodes of The Prisoner?
  4. Is The Prisoner TV’s Greatest Cult Classic?
  5. Is The Prisoner Actually a Continuation of Secret Agent?
  6. Who Are Your Favorite Fictional Moms?

Geeks In Love: 8 Questions To Spark Passionate Debates About Video Games and Chick Flicks

  1. What Are the Top 10 Classic Nintendo Games?
  2. What Are the Most Overrated Video Game Franchises?
  3. Which Generation of Nintendo Game Consoles Gave You the Most Joy?
  4. Do Some Violent Video Games Actually Inspire Real World Killing?
  5. Which Video Games Should Be Respected As Art?
  6. What Are the Best Romantic Comedies Of All Time?
  7. What Is the Difference Between a ‘Chick Flick’ and A Romantic Comedy?
  8. Who Are Your Favorite Fictional Married Couples?

Adaptation Success

  1. What Creative Magic Makes Some Adaptations Succeed and Others Fail?
  2. Which Video Games Should Be Adapted Into Films or TV Shows?
  3. Is It Better To Adapt Books as Netflix Shows and TV Mini-Series Instead of Films?
  4. What Are the 10 Most Disastrous Comic Book Adaptations?
  5. Lord of the Rings Vs. Harry Potter: Which Film Series Better Captured their Books’ Spirit?
  6. Which Science Fiction Novels Should Be Made into Films and TV Miniseries?

Questions So We Can Figure Out the Cream of the Crop In Popular Music Genres

  1. Are Black Sabbath and the Rolling Stones Better Than the Beatles?
  2. Who Are the Greatest Country Music Artists Everyone Should Have In Their Collection?
  3. Who Are the Greatest Female Vocalists Of All Time?
  4. What Are the 5 Essential Rap and Hip-Hop Albums?
  5. What Are the Most Badass Punk Rock Songs?
  6. How Did Your Music Tastes Change As You Grew Older?
  7. What Are the Most Overrated Beatles Songs?
  8. Which Classical Music Recordings Do You Listen to The Most?
  9. What Is the Most Under-appreciated Beatles Song?
  10. Who Are the Most Disturbing Figures in Music History?

Bonus: Music Questions from This Fall’s season of “Allston’s Afternoon Rockout” featuring tracks from the music lists of PJ Lifestyle’s classic rock guru.

  1. What Are the Most Essential Clash Tracks?
  2. Who Are the Coolest Women of Rock?
  3. Is ‘Free Bird’ The All-Time Greatest Guitar Song?
  4. How Would You Rank David Bowie’s Best Songs?
  5. Which Tracks Define the ‘Proto-Punk’ Sound?
  6. Can You Name a Bad Led Zeppelin Track?
  7. What Are the Best Songs For Driving Fast Across America?
  8. Who Are Your Favorite Rock Drummers?

What issues and controversies in popular culture do you want to see analyzed, debated, and explored in the coming months at PJ Lifestyle? What problems do you see as most serious and what kind of media should be made to counteract them?

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4 Ways That the Hebrew Language Redeemed the Jewish People in Our Time

Sunday, November 30th, 2014 - by P. David Hornik

The main factor that redeemed the Jewish people in our time is the state of Israel. It made them an active, generative people again, not merely scattered minorities contending with the Scylla and Charybdis of antisemitism and assimilation.

But a close handmaiden of the Jewish state in effecting this transformation was the Hebrew language. Along with the magnetic pull of the Land of Israel itself, it was Hebrew that enabled the Zionist endeavor to coalesce and take on a distinctive, organic character.

Hebrew—that is, the revival of the Hebrew language in the context of the return to Zion—achieved that in four main ways.

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Write a Messed-Up Holiday Short Story and Win Prizes

Friday, November 28th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Holiday-themed fiction has become sadly predictable: ‘Tis the Season for Santa, reindeer, and family reconciliation. Not that we don’t love tradition and feel-good endings; but it feels like it’s time for something a bit…different.

So for Liberty Island’s first annual Holiday Fiction Contest, we’re asking for you to surprise us. Pick your favorite genre–sci fi, fantasy, mystery, military, what have you–and, using the basic conventions of that genre, tell an interesting and compelling story with a Christmas or Chanukkah backdrop.

The best entries will be featured in Liberty Island’s end-of-the-year blockbuster release, and may be collected in a themed anthology in the future — so be sure to send us your best stuff. And something new: we’ll pick one overall best story and the winning author will receive a gift package of Liberty Island swag.

Entries are due Monday, December 8th. Length should be between 1,000 and 5,000 words. Email entries to to submissions@libertyislandmag.com; please put “Holiday Fiction Contest” in the subject line.

We look forward to reading a dozen stories about killer android reindeer!

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How To Join This Unique Team of 33 Creative Writers

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note: This is the ninth collection of interviews and story excerpts spotlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “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.”  See Liberty Island’s writers also answer the question “What Is the New Counterculture?” Part 1: Michael Sheldon, Part 2: Stephen McDonald, and Part 3 with Roy “Griff” Griffis on “How To Speak Truth to Power and Stick It To the Man Today

Want to Join? Enter Liberty Island’s Non-Traditional Holiday Fiction Writing Contest

Click to jump to the author of your choice in this collection for interviews and story excerpts:

1. Mike Baron: Swimming in Scrooge’s Money Bin With Ayn Rand and Andrew Klavan

2. Steve Poling: Is Cthulhu Tastier Fried or Barbecued?

3. Will Collier: What If the Soviets Had Succeeded in Capturing a Supernatural Creature?

4. Ray Zacek: The Secret Knowledge Vs. A Lethal Elvis Cult in North Florida

5. Keith Korman: ‘I Have No Friends: I Make My Mind My Friend.

6. Abbey Clarke: A Demon’s Heart: Can Evil Incarnate Ever Find Salvation?

7. Jamie Wilson: A Gen-X Gandalf Mom Casting Thomas Sowell Spells

8. Clay Waters: ‘You Obviously Feel This Ocean Mythos Deep In Your DNA…’

9. Todd Seavey: ‘It Was Star Wars That Taught Me to Love Science, Fantasy, Music, and Capitalism Simultaneously’

10. Stephen McDonald: ‘Long-Term, I’d Like to Hire Others to Produce More Content Set in This Shared Universe…’

11. Pierre V. Comtois: Golfing on the Moon

12. Aaron Smith: ‘I Spell ‘Magicks’ With a ‘K’ to Both Confound Proofreaders and to Signify It’s Not a White-Bunny-Being-Pulled-Out-of-The-Hat Kind of Magic.’

13. Ken Lizzi: A Pulp Writer Disguised as a Lawyer Embedded in the People’s Republic of Portland

14. Ted Elrick: ‘When a Guy’s Got That Kind of Control, You Gotta Admire It.’

15. Frank J. Fleming: Who Murdered the Dinosaurs?

16. R.K. Delka: ‘I’m the Constitution, Dammit!’

17. Kurt Duncan: ‘It’s All Compulsion-To-Create Via Mathematics and Engineering. Fun Stuff.’

18. Roy Griffis: ‘An Antidote to the Nihilistic Crap That Is Being Peddled’

19. David Churchill Barrow: ‘The Smoking, Dirty, Jagged Line of Rocks on that Ridge Seemed to Mock God Himself…’

20. Michael Sheldon: What Could Be Better Than Fresh Apricots?

21. Sabrina Chase: Women Can Be Mad Scientists Too

22. Paul Clayton: ‘I Think These 3 Works Should Be Required Reading For All Young Americans…’

23. Erich Forschler: The Road Might Be His Best Work, But My Favorite is No Country for Old Men.’

24. Tom Weiss: In the Ashes: A War Screenplay

25. Karina Fabian: ‘No Woman of Mine is Going to Work! Your Job is to Stay Home, Cook My Dinner and Have my Babies!’

26. Anne Eckart: How to Apply to MFA Programs

27. Mark Ellis: ‘Scarf Intercepts an Imperious Beagle Who Wanders Close’

28. Carol Kean: ‘Comrade Cruise will Cure Your Blues! And Teach You a Vital Thing or Two!’

29. Joseph Magrisso: ‘But in the Movie it Said if You Rub the Lamp a Genie Comes Out…’

30. S.D. Tortorice ‘A Good Video Game Sparks my Imagination in the Same Fashion as a Good Book.’

31. New Novel Released Today: Wreathed By Curtis Edmonds

32. Audie Cockings: ‘Can You Call In Something to Help With Her Pain?’

33. Leigh Kimmel: The Angry Astronaut Affair

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5 Leaders of the New Conservative Counter-Culture

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 - by David S. Bernstein

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Andrew Klavan is right: Conservatives are starting to see the importance of culture to furthering conservative and libertarian ideas. While the news might not yet have reached inside Fortress Beltway, out in the grassroots people understand that focusing exclusively on the next election cycle is a one-dimensional strategy that is ultimately doomed to fail.

Logic and argument are limited in their power to persuade; since the time of Homer and the Bible, human beings have learned primarily through storytelling. Whether it is our own experience, or the experiences of others to which we can relate, the power of narrative is the ability to change hearts and minds.

To date, the conservative movement has been primarily a “left brain” phenomenon. This July, my colleague Adam Bellow wrote an article in National Review announcing that the long-neglected conservative right brain is waking up and deserves equal support and attention.

Many of these new wave creators understand that it’s not enough to work in isolation. As Kathy Shaidle notes, conservative creators need to master distribution as well as production – in the digital age the two are inextricably linked.

At Liberty Island, where I’m chief operating officer and editorial gadfly, we’ve made it our business (literally) to identify, distribute, and promote the best conservative creators—smart people who know how to tell a great story, produce awesome music, or otherwise inspire the mind and the imagination.

Here’s a short list of some under-the-radar creators working across a wide variety of mediums who you’ll be hearing from a lot more in future. Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments, I’d love to know who I’ve missed.

1. Big Dawg Music Radio 

Big Dawg is a virtual record label for conservative musicians, complete with a 24/7 streaming radio channel, bookings (including providing all the live music for CPAC last year), a social media platform, and a showcase for folks to post their music.

Big Dawg puts out a retro, underground vibe that fits perfectly with its counter-cultural mission. At a time when the music business is undergoing rapid and radical change, these guys are taking a fresh look at distribution and promotion of independent musicians to the conservative market.

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The Angry Astronaut Affair

Tuesday, November 18th, 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 27 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.” 

See Liberty Island’s new contest: Enter Liberty Island’s Non-Traditional Holiday Fiction Writing Contest

Check out this new release at Liberty Island:

By the time Reginald Waite returned home, the darkness of night covered the Houston metropolitan area, a perfect close for a perfectly rotten day. It was supposed to be a routine trip to Pasadena to discuss the specifics of a new model of satellite Antares was taking up next month, but he’d no more than started preflight checks on his T-38 Talon when he started finding maintenance errors. By the time he got everything corrected and in the air, he was running late enough that he’d had to use every trick to eke enough speed out of the plane to arrive on time.

Ten minutes after he walked through the door at JPL, some idiot made a crack about Shepard clones always being hot to trot in more ways than one. God, but he’d wanted to punch that jerk, and wouldn’t that be a scene, a scheduled shuttle commander decking an engineer. It’d be as bad as the Great Astronaut Catfight a couple of years ago, when Melinda Bates came home after a six-month hitch at Luna Station to discover this little payload specialist hooking up with her husband and had driven cross-country to confront the Other Woman.

No, it’d be worse, thanks to a certain former senator pulling in all his markers to get one of his own clones installed as NASA Administrator. No way could Aiden McAllister look the other way about a disciplinary infraction by a clone of the man his own ur-brother had condemned as insubordinate, insouciant and immoral.

It had taken all the discipline of a career naval aviator to force the anger aside enough to get business done and fly back to Ellington. Now Reggie was finally home, sitting at his own computer, and he could let that icy wall of control melt away. Go on the Lovecraft Country game and burn off his anger dispelling shoggoths and Cthulhu-spawn, imagine they were everyone at JPL that he’d overheard making snarky remarks about clones taking over the astronaut corps.

As he woke his computer, he noticed that the forum window was in front of the gameplay window. A new post caught his attention:

From: Weeping_Willow

Subj: My Culture is NOT Your Cool Character

Date: Wednesday, January 14, 2009, 1508 MST (GMT+7) 

I don’t want to get into identity policing, but it really bothers me to see Native American characters being played by people who are obviously white. The sheer level of ignorance being displayed is offensive, especially when you consider what your ancestors did to us. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Show some respect and keep your games to your own cultures.

Reggie could feel his blood pressure rising, just like back at JPL. Except this time he didn’t have to take it in silence, not now that he was using his own Internet connection, his own computer, and a screen name that would disconnect his online persona from his official identity as an astronaut.

From: Major_Tom

Subj: Re: My Culture Is NOT Your Cool Character

Date: Thursday, January 15, 2009, 2249 CST(GMT+6)

I get sick and tired of this “your ancestors did my ancestors wrong, so you owe me” song and dance. That’s just a license for perpetual bellyaching instead of actually solving the problems you’re having. I’m not responsible for my ur-brother’s failings, and I share 100% of my nuclear DNA with him, so neither are Naturals who only have a fraction of any given forebears’ genes.

Most people around here play to get away from our daily lives, not extend them into gamespace. When I first started playing I created a white male character. He was even an astronaut, although he was based more on Scott Carpenter than my actual ur-brother. Man, did that got old fast — I felt like I was working all day and coming home to work some more. So I created a new character who was completely different — not because I wanted to diss your culture, but because I want to have a game life that doesn’t remind me of my real one of hand-me-down genes and the reputation of a man a decade dead that follows me everywhere I go.

Reggie became acutely aware of moonlight shining into the room. The Moon was a few days past opposition, enough that the terminator had moved beyond Mare Tranquillitatis and the landing lights of Slayton Field blazed bright as an impossible star.

Good God, but he wished he were back up there, where your competence was the only thing that mattered, not who you were a clone of or who your ancestors were. But no, as long as the third-generation orbiters were new he was stuck on shuttle duty, up to Freedom Station and back down, no further. He’d even gone to the Chief Astronaut, saying, “Shelly, can’t you get me back to the Moon?” Michelle Grimwald had told him until those problems were resolved, NASA needed him here.

Might as well play Jerry Ironeagle until he wound down enough to get to sleep. Tomorrow he had meetings and he didn’t want the flight directors to think he wasn’t up to the job.

*

The meetings turned out better than Reggie had expected. But at Johnson Space Center anybody who couldn’t deal with clones didn’t last very long.

No, they head out west to hang out with all the other soreheads.

So he was in a markedly better mood when he got home that evening, more inclined to hang out with some of the other Lovecraft Country players instead of splatting eldritch nasties into thin sheets of slime. It’d be almost as fun as late-night bull sessions with his fellow lander pilots at the Roosa Barracks back on Slayton Field, or weekend liberties in Grissom City. God, I wish I were back up there.

Might as well wish Trofim Lysenko had outmaneuvered Andrei Zhdanov and killed Soviet genetics in its cradle so that human cloning would proceed slowly and publicly instead of in super-secret Cold War projects, without oversight or restraint on either side of the former Iron Curtain. Secrets that became all too public when the Soviet Union imploded in the 80′s and President Reagan went on national TV to announce that yes, the US had its own cloning program as well.

Reggie had no more than gotten online when he found a private message from a friend, Stephanie Roderick, screen name Sailor_Yuggoth: Looks like you’ve kicked a hornets’ nest down in the forum.

Steffi was right. In a single day he’d gotten over fifty responses, variations on the theme of You’re Rude and Need to Apologize, adorned with the politically correct jargon he’d had to endure at that sensitivity training workshop NASA had required everybody attend a few months ago.

OK, you want an apology so damn bad, I’ll give you one. I hope you choke on it.

From: Major_Tom

Subj: Re: My Culture Is NOT Your Cool Character

Date: Thursday, January 15, 2009, 1922 CST(GMT+6)

Sorry if I’ve hurt your feelings. I’ll admit it was a mistake posting when I was still steamed after a very bad visit to JPL, but this stuff hit some sore spots of mine that got rubbed real tender.

Still, some people need to lighten up. I don’t go bitching about how most of the people playing astronaut characters must’ve learned their astrodynamics out of a bad movie, and don’t know Max Q from Solar Max, or translunar injection from orbital insertion. It’s not like they’re going to auger in an actual spacecraft and get people killed, so I just stay away from where they’re playing. That way we all have fun.

Continue Reading at Liberty Island

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image via Liberty Island

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Enter Liberty Island’s Non-Traditional Holiday Fiction Writing Contest

Friday, November 14th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Holiday-themed fiction has become sadly predictable: ‘Tis the Season for Santa, reindeer, and family reconciliation. Not that we don’t love tradition and feel-good endings; but it feels like it’s time for something a bit…different.

So for Liberty Island’s first annual Holiday Fiction Contest, we’re asking for you to surprise us. Pick your favorite genre–sci fi, fantasy, mystery, military, what have you–and, using the basic conventions of that genre, tell an interesting and compelling story with a Christmas or Chanukkah backdrop.

The best entries will be featured in Liberty Island’s end-of-the-year blockbuster release, and may be collected in a themed anthology in the future — so be sure to send us your best stuff. And something new: we’ll pick one overall best story and the winning author will receive a gift package of Liberty Island swag.

Entries are due Monday, December 8th. Length should be between 1,000 and 5,000 words. Email entries to to submissions@libertyislandmag.com; please put “Holiday Fiction Contest” in the subject line.

We look forward to reading a dozen stories about killer android reindeer!

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4 New Short Stories for Veterans Day

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Here’s the beginning of “Armistice Day

Thirty-eight year old Col. Tyler Stowell surveyed the dry grass of the springtime Kansas plain in his 50X field glasses. The plain stretched forever but for clumps of still-barren trees visible now and then in the long distance. He could see the tan Fascist tanks and troop trucks two miles away sheltered among the unfinished skeletons of suburban houses in the section outside Wichita. The cease-fire had been arranged through the MSM and local news outlets. The Fascist convoy had arrived this morning.

Stowell and his regiment had arrived yesterday afternoon.

“You see them, Colonel?” asked Stowell’s aid, Captain Munoz.

“Just the same ones; no more.”

“You think it’s a trap, sir?” That was the hip phrase ever since the Fascists asked for the truce; everyone held suspect anything the Fascists said.

That’s what they do–hit you with your guard down.

“Of course it’s a trap. If a Socialist’s lips are moving–” Stowell didn’t bother to finish. He’d made the point. Every citizen and soldier knew how it ended.

So far, over thirty-one million people killed. In all the battles and skirmishes and vendettas across the country. Not including the Second Flu Pandemic. Reports said five million died on the Socialist side. The American side barely felt it. The Fascist vendettas were the most violent and bloody. Tommy Evans had gathered up all the millionaires, even the ones that donated to the Party, and murdered them. Taking all their money for himself. It was just like “The Battle for Spain” that all the troops were reading. Whenever the Socialist Fascists declared “peace”, or disarmed the public, they went on a murder spree. Rumors and snippets of intel said that it was the old Occupy Wall Street goons doing it. So, the unlucky idiots in the Red States had paid a high price for being duped.

Thirty-one million murdered and the economy wrecked in the Red States.

No wonder they wanted a truce.

The Blue States, the American states, were doing rather well economically, with their tax rates cut well below Singapore levels to attract international business. The Reds could plainly see all that. They had to destroy the comparison. Tyranny never looked good standing next to freedom. Tyler couldn’t help but think that was the driving reason behind them wanting a truce.

To go back to the same old shit they did before. Sending their tentacles into the Blue States and Blue Cities, poisoning the youth all over again.

Just like in the old days when the MSM called the American states the Red States, until the American states said, “No, we’re the Blue States.”

The long-range cancer plan.

What would the future hold?

What land would Audrey and Quentin grow up in?

“If all our men are in place, Munoz, call ‘em up and let’s get this party started.”

“Yes, sir.” Munoz dialed the number Command Kans-O-Neb had given them. The Fascists had wanted to set this truce meeting for the Northern Prairie at a location just outside of Chicago, which the Fascists had held fairly well now for all of the past four years of the war. At first, Command had been suspicious. The Blues had learned the history of Socialism-Communism that the MSM and the schools had hidden from the kids for over sixty years, and they had seen over the past decade and the Civil War how the Reds would say any lie that popped into their heads, or was crafted by their top brass, to get you to drop your guard, to relax you, while they went on creeping their war plans and sneak attack. In war, just as in politics and media. They probably didn’t think they had a chance at assassinating Braham or others at Command. But why not roll the dice? The way the Civil War was going at this point, a truce could only help them in their “Revolution”. The Chicago call was more likely just intimidation.

“We’re ready to roll, sir.”

“Let’s go see what bullcrap they have to say.”

Which Tyler just didn’t understand. How was that supposed to work? At this late point in the Civil War? The Fascists weren’t fooling anyone.

Almost an hour later, eight heavy trucks with the canvas tops stripped back drove down the unpaved light dirt road toward the outpost. Their heavy chevron-patterned tires pulled up brown-white dust that glared in the sun. The canvas tops were yanked down on the trucks, as agreed, so no machine weapons could be hidden under them. The Fascists had told Command that they would be the first to arrive at the outpost.

The three lead trucks roared up to the outpost where Stowell, Munoz and Reicherstown waited for them outside the big field tent. Tyler surveyed the people in the cab of each of the three trucks. A guy he picked out as the general for the Fascists was high in the cab of the last truck. He had a civilian with him, besides the driver. The second to last truck had more guys that had the arrogant air of Socialist brass and One Percenters. The lorries rolled up, lifting silt dust into the drought-blue Kansas sky. The general stood up in the open truck door, appraising Tyler as he did so, then climbed down to the ground where his aide-de-camp met him, carrying a satchel maybe filled with papers for the ceasefire. The three Fascist civilians, another officer, and the general approached with a stiff, angry air. After a pause, the general almost made as if to alter his posture to reach forward for a handshake, then thought better of it.

They don’t think we’re human, after all.

Tyler wished he had. The man probably knew better.

“You were supposed to wait until after we got here,” the general said sternly.

Tyler shrugged. “I was never much for following Socialist demands.”

Read the Rest at Liberty Island

And check out three more new stories:

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image via Liberty Island

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‘How Could They Have Seen Me? I Am Well Concealed. Did They Smell Me?’

Monday, November 10th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Here’s the beginning of the third story in a collection of war stories. (See the first and second here and and here.)

February 1943 Journal entry: The sound of agitated parrots screeching from the jungle below startles me to a wide-eyed awakening. The morning sun is just above the horizon. I pause for a moment to get re-oriented to the surroundings that have been home for the last six months. Living on top of a mountain in the Solomon Islands may seem like paradise, but in these times, I must live like a reptile, below detection, going about my business, which is also the business of Her Majesty.

My vigil is on a tiny island of the Solomons known as “the Slot.” This island makes for the perfect ammunitions and refueling depot for the enemy, which also makes it the perfect outpost to warn the allies of the approaching enemy fleet.

My camp is high on an overgrown plateau, two miles from the bay. Each day I trek along a ridge where I can look northward, out over the south pacific. If an advance comes, it will come from out there, from the north, from Japan.

I travel light, and as far as I know, never leave a trace. I always take a slightly different route so as not to create a path. I also stage my movements to avoid a Zero who flies over on a routine patrol four times a day. As dangerous as this is and as insect-infested and uncomfortable as it is, I much prefer it to the desk job back in Auckland, where the pests are of the two-legged variety. Here I can make a difference.

There is one pest, however, who was always welcome at my desk: Kathleen O’Hara. She has crystal blue eyes, auburn hair, a face-load of freckles, and her uniform is always pressed to perfection. Oh Kathleen, if you were only here now, we would not get a darn thing done for the war effort. On the other hand, if you were here, I would worry.

But now, I need to investigate those parrots; parrots don’t just go loudly flying about the forest without being disturbed by something or someone. They are better watchdogs than watchdogs.

My camp is accessible only by scaling a vertical wall of rock. When I go out on patrol, I leave a knotted rope hanging over the edge; neatly tucked it into a crevice. The rope makes my return climb easier.

Down on my chest, I crawl to the edge of the drop-off, lie low, and peer over the edge. I look for movement and listen for the singsong of Japanese voices.

My best defense is camouflage. I have not had a real fire for weeks. To keep smoke down, I do all my cooking in a tin over a kerosene lamp and stay well sheltered under the cover of dense foliage where it is not possible for me even to stand. Still, you can never tell what a Zero passing overhead might see.

I would never be able to hold off a full-fledged assault if they discover my location. My carbine, grenades and a few well placed booby-traps would only tend to make them more vengeful if and when they did overtake me.

Well, I do have another weapon, a cyanide capsule. Actually, it was more of an order than a weapon. I keep it as close as my carbine. I figure I’ll take out as many of them as I can, set off the booby-traps, then take the pill.

Hello! Something is moving through the palmettos and along the ledge just below.

I pull some fallen palm fronds over my head and leave just enough opening to see out. Suddenly, I hear that approaching Zero, off schedule. It passes over, low and banking. Confirmation: a search party is on the prowl. They’re onto me.

How could they have seen me? I am well concealed. Did they smell me?

I don’t have the luxury of bathing often; they, on the other hand, are obsessed with it. Every evening they go to a makeshift bathhouse in their camp. They marinate themselves inside and out, all in the same effort. They are either clean or drunk or both half the time. That will change when the lads of 3-Divisionland on the south side of this rock.

It doesn’t matter though, if I am fragrance-free or not; something has stirred them up and they are going to keep searching until they find something.

Maybe HQ will call me in, now that I am compromised.

My only escape from the island is by way of one of the Yank subs in the area. I don’t know exactly where they are, but I have seen three Japanese transports explode as they approach the island.

It must be the Yanks out there stirring things up; that’s gotta be why Tojo is searching now. If I can make it through this day, I will radio for help tonight while the Japs are busy with their compulsive bathing.

What was that?

Something just came up hard against my foot. This is it, Jesus save me and God, save the Queen.

Read the Rest at Liberty Island….

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Blessed Are the Peacemakers

Sunday, November 9th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Here’s an excerpt from “Blessed Are the Peacemakers.” Also check out the new Liberty Island story featured on Friday, “Woody” by Audie Cockings, excerpted here.

Clack-CLACK, Clack-CLACK… The corporal lifted the bolt of his rifle, pulled it back, then pushed it forward and down again, ejecting the empty casing and putting another round in the chamber. This is too easy… he thought, as he scanned the top of the trench works about twenty five yards away for another German helmet to pop up. Was God testing him? Was he doing His will, or failing the test? He hadn’t really meant to be exactly where he was, doing what he was doing; it just sorta happened. “Thou shalt not kill…” his mind whispered every few minutes, and he couldn’t stop it. Another helmet came up on his right; he sighted and squeezed the trigger. He heard the death grunt, saw the blood vapor, and heard that high pitched foreign yelling from the other men. He didn’t know what they were yelling, but they was powerful scared.

Clack-CLACK, Clack-CLACK… He thought about exactly where he was; lying prone, where he could clearly see all the trenches and the pits for about a dozen machine guns, all chattering away. But they had to keep looking over the top to get the drop on him; and they couldn’t just start spraying them guns every which way, else they’d get some of the prisoners he and the boys had just captured right before all this shooting started that were behind him on his right. What made him land just here in this perfect spot when everybody that wasn’t hit took cover? He didn’t rightly know. He saw another part of a helmet and one eye appear on the side of a sandbag next to one of the guns… and again he squeezed the trigger.

Clack-CLACK, Clack-CLACK… He looked for a second at the rifle breach just ahead of the bolt that was getting too hot to touch with a bare hand. “U.S. Model of 1917 Eddystone” it read. He never did figure who, what or where Eddystone was, but it was a right smart rifle. Much better than the .303 Lee-Enfield he had for a while when they was training with the British after they got to Le Havre. The .30-06 bullet had more punch, and the longer barrel meant better accuracy. It wasn’t nothin’ like the homemade muzzle-loaders back home, but he got good with it right quick back at Camp Gordon, so they asked him to help out some of the city boys with their shootin’. He’d have felt pretty poorly about himself if he hadn’t – shootin’ was about the only thing he could do that he was right proud of, even though pride could be a sin. Some of the boys complained the rifle was too heavy – about eleven pounds with the strap, kit, bayonet and all. But he was a big fella, and being heavy like that meant the rifle didn’t kick so much. He stroked the smooth wood encasing the barrel with his callused hand, licked his thumb to wet the far site to cut down on the haze, spotted a target, and fired. Another poor German boy was sent to his maker.

Continue Reading at Liberty Island

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image via Liberty Island

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