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This Cappuccino From An Italian Instagram Acquaintance Looks Much Tastier Than Our American Motor Oil

Saturday, March 21st, 2015 - by Dave Swindle

My very first cappuccino ♥

A photo posted by Arianna Bonardi (@the_blair_witch) on

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Who Needs Michelle Obama’s Healthy Diet? 104-Year-Old Woman Drinks 3 Dr. Peppers a Day

Friday, March 20th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

A woman in Fort Worth, Texas, is celebrating her 104th birthday and she proudly told reporters this week that despite her doctors’ admonitions, she has been drinking three Dr. Pepper sodas a day for 30 years.

“People try to give me a coffee for breakfast,” Elizabeth Sullivan said, “but I’d rather have a Dr. Pepper.”

“I started drinking about 40 years ago — three a day — and every doctor that sees me says ‘It’ll kill you’ but they die and I don’t, so there must be a mistake somewhere.”

Elizabeth is living proof that the doctors — and the food police in the White House — don’t always know best. Many people manage to live long and productive lives even when they don’t subsist on a diet of twigs and acorns.

“I’m feeling good! I’m glad I’m still here and I’m glad I’m not in a rest home,” Sullivan told reporters. “I’m glad I can read books and watch TV and have people come by to say hello.”

I raise my can of Dr. Pepper to you tonight, Mrs. Sullivan! Wishing you a Happy Birthday and many blessings in the coming year!

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VIDEO: On This International Day of Happiness, Just Shut Up & Dance

Friday, March 20th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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How to Drink Like an American: In Defense of Cheap, Crappy Coffee Every Day

Friday, March 20th, 2015 - by Dave Swindle

This morning I think I might write a defense of bad, cheap #coffee….

A video posted by Thoth, Ma'at & Husky Familiar (@thothandmaatmarried) on


 

“American coffee is now and always has been revolting, and it behooves us to look deep into our souls to understand why we overpay for muck at Starbucks. There’s a sucker born every minute, and he’s almost certain to be American. We are boosters, enthusiasts, tent-evangelicals, fly-by-nighters, snake-oil salesmen and honky-tonkers as a people, and get swindled every time.”

Well, yeah. This is the way it’s supposed to be. The coffee so many of us drink reflects who we are.

Here’s something I’m going to argue that isn’t going to make much sense to many people: I don’t want my morning coffee to taste good. I *want* it to taste bitter and “disgusting” as hell. Damn right!

That’s part of its magic — the knock-you-on-the-tongue kick in conjunction with the caffeine rush and the heat at a reasonable price.

Coffee and caffeine #addiction continues! How do you take your morning villainy?

A video posted by Thoth, Ma'at & Husky Familiar (@thothandmaatmarried) on

I alternate between a tea routine and a coffee routine every six months or so, using one or the other to help keep energy up and stay focused throughout the day. Right now I’m usually on about one pot of coffee a day, generally done by noon. I haven’t decided yet which is better…

What about you? How much coffee or tea do you drink? How do you prepare it? What’s the best dollar-for-caffeine ratio? Bonus points for anyone who surpasses the wit of “The 3 Most Hilarious Comments Responding to Spengler’s Anti-Starbucks Rant.”

Have a coffee, tea, or other food/drink you’d like to see considered at PJ Lifestyle? Please get in touch: DaveSwindlePJM AT Gmail.com

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‘March Madness’ is an Understatement

Friday, March 20th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

If Thursday’s opening act of the 2015 NCAA Tournament was any indication, college basketball fans better have the local ER standing by with a defibrillator. There has never been an opening round like this one in the history of the tournament — and we’re only half way through.

Two #3 seeds — Baylor and Iowa State — were dropped unceremoniously by #14′s, and a third — Notre Dame — survived by a hair. The University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers delivered the upset against the Iowa State Cyclones while the Georgia State Panthers shocked the Baylor Bears. Those stunning results were almost repeated when the #14 Northeastern Huskies roared back from a 10 point deficit with 4 minutes to go, only to lose to the #3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 69-64.

But it wasn’t so much the bracket-busting wins by UAB and Georgia State that made Thursday such a memorable day. ESPN’s Eamaonn Brennan explains:

If you’re like us, you were watching the NCAA tournament today — or this afternoon, or tonight, or at pretty much any point during the thrilling opening Thursday that was. Another game would come down to the nail-biting, hairpulling wire, and you’d catch your breath, check your bracket and think: Man, there were a lot of close games today. This has to be some kind of record, right?

Turns out, you were right. This was, indeed, some kind of record.

* Five games were decided by one point on Thursday, the most of any single day in NCAA tournament history. But that’s not all. Behold the mind-boggling numbers, courtesy of the yeomen at ESPN Stats & Information:

* Eleven games were decided by fewer than 10 points Thursday, tying the single-day NCAA tournament high. Only three tournament days in history matched that number, the last of which came in 2010.

* Nine games were decided by five or fewer points, tying the single-day tournament high — one dating to March 15, 2001.

* Including the five Thursday, as well as Dayton’s win over Boise State on Wednesday night, there have been six games decided by one point thus far in the 2015 NCAA tournament. The record for most games decided by one point in a single NCAA tournament is seven — total. That has happened three times (in 1982, 1990, and 1998).

Oh, and then there’s this:

The entire 2013 and 2014 NCAA tournaments — from the first round to the Final Four — featured five games decided by a single point. Combined!

Most opening round games are mismatches — tune ups for the higher seeds to get the butterflies out of their system and acclimate them to tournament basketball. But yesterday, the lower seeds did not go quietly into that goodnight. They fought, and scratched, and clawed like hell, staying with teams they had no business being competitive against, and giving several of them the fright of their basketball lives.

College basketball fans who prefer that game to the pros will point out that you don’t get that kind of action and excitement at the NBA level. In one sense this is true — the NBA playoffs are 7 game series and one contest usually will not make or break a team.

But when it’s lose one and done, the drama is heightened considerably. Yesterday’s string of heart attack basketball games would be enough to satisfy even the most ardent college basketball fan.

Which is why we have to remind ourselves that it was only the first day of a long tournament.

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The 10 Best ’80s Alternative Songs

Friday, March 20th, 2015 - by Liz Sheld

Next week one of my favorite ’80s movies (and of all time), The Breakfast Club, will return to theaters with a newly restored version for its 30th anniversary. I feel old.

In honor of The Breakfast Club re-release, here are my picks for the top ten thirteen ’80s alternative songs. These songs most remind me of my life in the ’80s so this is hardly a definitive list of the best. Feel free to chime in with your own favorites in the comments.

I tried to pick no more than one song from each band. Here they are in no particular order: (LANGUAGE WARNING ON SOME OF THESE)

1. “Eighties” by Killing Joke, released 1985

Why? It’s called “Eighties!” And it’s a great song.

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 2. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division, released June, 1980

This one barely makes it on to the list since it was released in 1980, but it’s important because it appeared a month after the tragic suicide of band member Ian Curtis. (ProTip: watch 24 Hour Party People.)

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3. “Still in Hollywood” by Concrete Blonde, released 1986

This song has such an ’80s alternative beat, you can’t help but want to rock out to it. “She had purple painted cheeks and glitter on her eyes” — it doesn’t get more ’80s that that.

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4. “She Sells Sanctuary” by The Cult, released 1985

It’s hard to pick one song from The Cult — “Rain” and “Nirvana are close — but “Sanctuary” will always be my favorite. Albums Love, Electric, and Sonic Temple from the Cult will never do you wrong. Also great: “Spiritwalker” off Dreamtime.

Obligatory picture of Ian Astbury:

The Cult in concert at the Fillmore, Silver Spring, Maryland, America - 20 Aug 2013

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5. “Institutionalized” by Suicidal Tendencies, released 1983

Yes, it’s sort of obvious that this song would make the list, but really, all I wanted was a Pepsi and she wouldn’t give it to me.

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6. “Desire (Come and Get It)” by Gene Loves Jezebel, released 1985

“I’ve been a ball of fire in your arms desire.”

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7. “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” by Specimen, released 1983

Whenever I hear this song, I smell clove cigarettes and Aquanet. No one cared that much about the ozone layer back then.

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8. “Cities in Dust,” Siouxsie and the Banshees, released 1985

I never wore as much eyeliner as Siouxsie, but how could anyone? Best line in the song: “Hot and burning in your nostrils, Pouring down your gaping mouth.”

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9.Blue Monday” by New Order, released 1983

It’s tough to pick one New Order ’80s song and “Blue Monday” is tied with virtually every song off of Power, Corruption and Lies; Low-Life; and Brotherhood.

Here’s the video to the ’88 version. I prefer the version off Power, Corruption and Lies

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10.This Is Not a Love Song” by Public Image Limited, released 1983

What else is there to say other than Johnny Rotten’s got a great voice for expressing teen angst. And just a great voice. PiL is another band where it’s hard to pick just one. Same Old Story is another favorite.

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BONUS SONGS:

11. ”Pigs in Zen” by Jane’s Addiction, released 1987

Jane’s Addiction is one of my favorite bands. Perry Farrell has such a distinctive and beautiful voice. This is another band with many great songs in the ’80s, I could listen to the entire album of Jane’s Addiction or Nothing’s Shocking without thinking about moving on to something else.

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12. “Rise Above” by Black Flag, released 1981

Because it’s Black Flag. Damaged is a great album and so is Slip It In.

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13. “Kool Thing” by Sonic Youth, released 1990 (yes, it’s 1990 but really close to the ’80s so I’m going to go with that)

“I just wanna know, what are you gonna do for me?/I mean, are you gonna liberate us girls/From male white corporate oppression?”

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So that’s my list — let me know in the comments what songs most remind you of the ’80s.

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How to Sabotage Your Life in 5 Easy Steps

Friday, March 20th, 2015 - by John Hawkins

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Sabotaging your life isn’t quite as difficult as being a huge success, but it’s tougher than you’d think. After all, failure doesn’t just happen. For most people, it takes years of consistent hard work to make themselves into losers. But never fear: with the right attitude, you, too, can sabotage your life in 5 easy steps!

1. Think of yourself as a victim.

These days, it’s extremely easy to come up with some way that you’re supposedly being victimized. You can claim that the deck is stacked against you because you’re black, white, Hispanic, Indian (how dare you say “Redskins!”), female, male, gay, straight, short, fat (that’s “fat shaming!”), rich, poor – pretty much anything works. Ideally, you should get so into your victim identity that you start saying words like “mansplaining” and “trigger warning” without even a trace of irony so that you visibly annoy everyone around you with your hypersensitivity.

2. Wait for everyone else to fix your problems.

If you’re a victim, then naturally it makes sense for you to wait for some white knight to show up and fix all your problems. Maybe that “white knight” is your parents, the government or (God help the poor fellow) your husband, but someone should see to it that your life is running smoothly. Happily, since nobody cares about your problems as much as you, you won’t get much help and the aid you do get will seldom be to your liking. This leads to a deep sense of dissatisfaction with EVERYONE ELSE for not fixing YOUR problems.

3. Instead of doing, start complaining.

So what do you do if you’re unhappy? Do something about it? Come on, that might actually lead to a problem getting fixed. How are you going to sabotage your life like that? Instead of doing, start complaining! If your boyfriend treats you like garbage and cheats on you, just tell all your girlfriends about it. Endlessly. For months on end. In monotonous detail. Then when they ask why you won’t dump him – say, “but I love him,” and go back to complaining about how miserable he makes you.

Are you stuck in a job that pays the minimum wage? Don’t build up your skills so you can get paid more or look for another job; complain that it’s unfair and demand that the government change the law so that your boss has to pay you more than you’re worth. Have you been depressed for months or even years because something bad happened to you? Then get high, eat, drink yourself to sleep in the dark, do anything other than going to a psychologist or psychiatrist to get help.

You can apply this philosophy to just about anything, but the key to it is to spend hundreds of man hours over the course of a year moping and kvetching over something you could fix by making one tough decision.

4. Bend over backwards to blow any great opportunities that you do have.

If you somehow, someway do have some great opportunity fall in your lap, make sure to find a way to blow it. If you unexpectedly get that great new job, be sure to show up late, leave early and ask for days off two weeks after you start. If you land that beautiful woman who treats you like a prince, start asking yourself why she’d be interested in someone like you who’s obviously not in her league. Wave off that ride home and drive drunk, turn down the part-time job your relative found you, start sentences with, “It’s nice that you’re offering to do that for me, but….” Remember, if you’re trying to sabotage yourself, you can’t afford successes. You need to actively undercut yourself, sigh, and say, “Of course this happened to me because I always screw everything up!”

*Profanity warning for next video clip*

5. Make sure to top it all off with lots of negative self-talk

Be sure to habitually talk to yourself so harshly that a friend of yours would punch someone in the face for saying that to you in the street. “You’re ugly!” “You’re a piece of crap!” “Everyone hates you!” Lay it on thick and then to top it all off, insist that saying the cruelest things imaginable to yourself is “motivational.” Of course it is! That’s how speakers always start off motivational seminars — by telling people how worthless they are and telling them they’ll never succeed! Wait, no, it isn’t…on second thought, let’s not even mention self-help seminars. You start watching those on a regular basis and next thing you know, you’ll be focused on how to get your life back on track and who needs that, right?

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image illustration via shutterstock / 

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VIDEO: Track Your #RaceTogether Status with iNotRacist

Friday, March 20th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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The 3 Most Hilarious Comments Responding to Spengler’s Anti-Starbucks Rant

Friday, March 20th, 2015 - by Dave Swindle

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Yes, I agree with David P. “Spengler” Goldman that it’s “Time for a National Conversation About Why Starbucks Coffee Is Disgusting.”

I’ll try and have my rebuttal up shortly in defense of cheap, crappy coffee, [Updated: now here] but in the meantime, I found these 3 comments very amusing, in particular Fred Z’s:

What do you think? Is American coffee terrible? Is Starbucks a symbol of Americans’ pathetic palate or does it hint at something darker, our gullibility at being able to be manipulated into spending ridiculous amounts of money for a lame product? Or is Spengler just being his usual cranky self and expertly trolling you?

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image illustration via shutterstock / 

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How the Latest Avengers: Age of Ultron Trailer Restores the Fun

Friday, March 20th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

That first teaser trailer for the forthcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron was remarkable. The menace in James Spader’s voice performance crafted a tone befitting a threat big enough to bring Earth’s mightiest heroes back together.

But lost amidst the darkness was any sense of fun from the original. A big part of what made the first movie such a success was the humor and tense banter between the heroes. Working as a team doesn’t necessarily mean you always get along, and the vast differences in personality between characters like Iron Man and Captain America set the stage for some fun rivalries.

With the latest TV spot for Age of Ultron, shown above, we finally get a glimpse of that light-hearted banter and the popcorn-munching fun that comes along with it. Everyone’s having a good time here, even as they face an existential threat to the human race.

This is also the first promotion since the teaser trailer that delivers a significant amount of new footage. Those spots which have landed in the interim have only been tweaked slightly from the teaser. Here we get to see a lot more of each hero in action, along with additional dialogue.

The one weak point seems to be Quicksilver, whose incarnation by Godzilla and Kick-Ass star Aaron Taylor-Johnson will inevitably be compared to Evan Peters’ portrayal in X-Men: Days of Future Past. It’s a little odd to have two interations of the same character appearing in two ongoing Marvel franchises. The fact that Peter’s Quicksilver was so well-received, described by many as stealing the show, sets the bar high for Taylor-Johnson. From what we get of him in this trailer, he’s got a lot of catching up to do.

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Lord Reptile’s 10 Most Sacred 2-D Fighting Games

Friday, March 20th, 2015 - by Jeremy Swindle

Long ago, before “MMORPGS” and first-person shooters dominated the competitive gaming scene, there was only one way to settle who was the most powerful nerd in all the land: 2-D fighting games.

THESE ARE THE GAMES THAT WHICH LORD REPTILE HOLDS MOST SACRED IN THE FIGHTING GAME REALM. IN ORDER TO QUALIFY AS A 2-D FIGHTER, THE GAME MUST INCLUDE 2-D CHARACTER SPRITES WHICH FIGHT ON A TWO-DIMENSIONAL PLANE. EVERYTHING ELSE IS NOT WORTHY OF BEING ON THE REPTILE’S LIST.

2-D FIGHTING STILL THRIVES TODAY IN THE FORM OF ANIME FIGHTERS. BUT BEFORE YOU CAN UNDERSTAND THE TRUE ART OF 2-D FIGHTING, YOU MUST LOOK BACK AND STUDY THE RICH HERITAGE OF THE ORIGINAL FIGHTERS.

YOU ARE NOT A WARRIOR. YOU ARE A BEGINNER. FIGHT OR DIE.

1. Karate Champ

BACK IN 1984, THERE WERE NO TOURNAMENT FIGHTERS. THE TENTH MORTAL KOMBAT TOURNAMENT HAD NOT YET HAPPENED ON EARTHREALM. INSTEAD, RYU AND KEN WERE THE SAME PERSON JUST WEARING DIFFERENT COLORED GIS IN A GAME CALLED KARATE CHAMP.

Karate Champ is a game that rewards your ability to press buttons. If you hit an opponent once, the fight stops and you’re awarded points.

Karate Champ is evidence that games don’t always have to be great to be influential. It’s definitely not a very fun game but millions of idiots lined up to play it because it was the only head-to-head fighting game available. The Reptile acknowledges Karate Champ for its influence, not for being a fun game.

2. Street Fighter

The original Street Fighter may seem laughable when compared to its far more popular sequel, but in 1987 it may have been the most advanced fighting game ever created. With its enormous cabinet and iconic characters, Street Fighter quickly made itself known in Japanese arcades. Unlike Karate Champ, points are not awarded for executing moves on an opponent.

INSTEAD THE PLAYER IS REWARDED BY BEATING THE OPPONENT UNTIL THEY CAN NO LONGER STAND. SUCH IS THE TRUE NATURE OF STREET COMBAT.

Street Fighter invented the life bar in one on one fighting games, and also special moves. The original Street Fighter was essentially the very first actual tournament fighting game. Despite its clumsiness and the high degree of difficulty that goes into performing special moves, Street Fighter served as a prototype for every fighting game that came after.

3. Street Fighter II

Street Fighter had so much left to prove after its first installment. Street Fighter II will live on in the consciousness of every ’90s arcadegoer as the very first competitive fighting game. It brought in combos by sheer mistake, but players quickly began to capitalize on Capcom’s mishap and used it to punish their opponents. Ryu, Ken, Chun Li and Guile quickly became household names as a movie was made in the mid-’90s hoping to capitalize on the hype.  It wasn’t very good.

Street Fighter: the Movie may have sucked, but Street Fighter II saw at least five different updates in arcades and on consoles. Street Fighter II on the SNES was the first first 16-bit cartridge in console gaming, and its successors kept pushing the envelope in fighting games for years.

ALL OTHER FIGHTERS WERE INFERIOR TO STREET FIGHTER II FOR YEARS TO COME. IT IS MOST IMPRESSIVE THAT THE SEQUEL SURPASSED THE ORIGINAL STREET FIGHTER WITH ITS SHEER INTENSITY AND COMPETITIVE GAMEPLAY.

Street Fighter signaled the end of the dark age of arcade fighting games with the creation of the CPS cabinet, Capcom’s first of three cabinets deisgned to house their arcade games.

4. Samurai Shodown

AFTER I FINISH MEDITATING I WILL DESTROY YOU.

The Reptile did not play Samurai Shodown until very recently but it is obviously one of the finest weapons-based fighters ever made. SNK may not have gotten as much attention as Capcom when it came to fighting games but Samurai Shodown rivals Street Fighter II in terms of gameplay and presentation. Even the music makes you feel like a samurai.

Whenever you lose and push start, remember that you’re not doing it to beat the game: you’re continuing for revenge against the deadliest of foes. Your sole objective is to strike down your enemy with your sword of justice.

The staggering variety of fighters and special moves makes this one a daunting challenge even for fighting veterans.

5. Mortal Kombat

IF YOU WISH TO FIND THE REPTILE, PERFECTION IS THE KEY.

The first Mortal Kombat introduced excessive blood and revolutionary graphics provided by digitized actors. It was this element of realism combined with ridiculous finishing moves that turned heads in arcades for years. If one were to pick a movie that inspired the grisly fatalies of Mortal Kombat, it would most likely be Rikki-Oh. The sheer satisfaction of finishing off a beaten opponent by eating their head is what has kept The Reptile coming back to the MK franchise for every new installment.

IF YOU WISH TO FIND THE REPTILE, THEN FATALITY IS THE KEY.

Athough Mortal Kombat may not have introduced as many new fighting mechanics as its main competitor Street Fighter II, it was far more notorious for being the most violent video game of its time. Check out these blowhards on the news shaking their fingers at MK’s mature content. SUCH WEAK, PATHETIC FOOLS. THE REPTILE LAUGHS AT THEIR DISCOMFORT. I WILL CRUSH THEM IN ONE BLOW.

6. King of Fighters

SNK put out more fighting games than any other company and almost all of them were impressive but the most well known series is King of Fighters. Stemming from the Fatal Fury series, the creator of Fatal Fury was one of the original creators of Street Fighter. King of Fighters introduced the 3 vs 3 head to head mode which unleashed a plethora of possibilities for team combat. King of Fighters has changed quite a bit over the years but it has always boasted superior fighting mechanics. Recently it crossed over to the 3-D realm but SNK probably knew this wasn’t the best idea and returned as an impressive looking anime fighter for its 2013 installment.

7. Darkstalkers

Darkstalkers was the first true Anime fighter ever made so Reptile considers that to be a very important advancement made by Capcom. The characters broke boundaries of fanservice that no other game would go through. Plus you could play as a Sasquatch, a zombie, Frankenstein and pretty much every other universal monster you can think of plus extras.

DARKSTALKERS IS ESSENTIALLY STREET FIGHTER FOR MALL-DWELLING GOTHIC TEENAGERS. THROW ON SOME NINE INCH NAILS AND BODY YOUR OPPONENTS WHILE WEARING YOUR BEST CORPSEPAINT.

Morrigan, the succubus and main character of the franchise brought in the gothic anime hybrid that the genre had been missing the entire time.

Darkstalkers plays like a Street Fighter clone but there’s just something about it that makes it so incredibly endearing that the Reptile most certainly prefers it over Street Fighter II.

8. Guilty Gear

If Darkstalkers left fighting game fans doubting the competitive potential of anime fighters, Guilty Gear proved that they were fools for doubting the genre. This weapons-based fighter has been a mainstay at Evolution fighting tournaments ever since Guilty Gear X2. It boasts some of the most ridiculous characters to ever appear in a fighting game. The Reptile mains the pirate girl May, who fights with an enormous anchor that she lifts and swings around with ease. But she’s probably the most normal character in the entire roster, Guilty Gear is as strange as it is competitive.

GUILTY GEAR ALSO HAS A MOST IMPRESSIVE HEAVY METAL SOUNDTRACK. THAT HEAVY RIFFAGE WILL MAKE YOU CRUSH YOUR OPPONENTS INTO A PULP.

9. Marvel Vs. Capcom 2: Golden Age of Heroes

MvC2 is the most HYPE fighting game to ever exist. Although the crossover tag team fighting genre was started by X-men vs. Street Fighter years prior to MvC2, it wasn’t until the second installment of Marvel vs. Capcom when maximum hype was achieved. An insanely disorienting and chaotic fighter, you swap out fighters and use assists to overwhelm your enemy. Where else can you see Megaman, Sentinel and Chun Li team up and take out Thanos? No fighting game can top MvC2’s absurdity or blistering competitive tag team gameplay. MvC2 is arguably the only fighting game you will ever need, and that’s coming from a diehard Mortal Kombat fanboy.

CROSSOVER FIGHTERS ARE AMONG THE MOST HYPED FIGHTING GAMES CREATED. THE TAG TEAM FIGHTING GENRE WOULD HAVE BEEN QUICKLY BURIED UNDER THE COUNTLESS WRESTLING GAMES OF THE NINETIES IF IT WERE NOT FOR SUPERIOR TITLES SUCH AS MARVEL VS CAPCOM.

10. Street Fighter III: Third Strike

I FEEL THE POWER LEVEL OF THESE TWO NERDS IS VERY STRONG. THEY LOOK TOUGH. WHO ARE THEY?

The final 2-D fighting game on this list is one that The Reptile considers the last classic of the genre. Third Strike was the final version of Street Fighter III, and the only one to really get it right. Featuring both classic characters such as Ryu and Akuma and newcomers like Dudley the boxing dandy, Street Fighter III is an extremely advanced yet traditional fighting game. It introduced the counter system, which as you can see in the above video can turn the tables in even the most seemingly hopeless matches. As if this wasn’t enough, the popularity of Third Strike at Evo proved that the spirit of 2-D fighting games is alive and well in the fighting game community.

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See more of Lord Reptile’s cultural lists:

Press Start: Lord Reptile’s 7 Ultimate Heavy Metal Albums To Begin Your List Quest

Lord Reptile’s Top 5 Apocalypse Movies

The 10 Most Overrated Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time

The 10 Worst Horror Films on Netflix: Drinking Game Edition

The 10 Most Irritating Fast Food Items You Must Avoid

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‘You Are Now Wanted For Murder On 762 Planets… I Conclude That You Are Evil. Is This Correct?’

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Liberty Island

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The ship shot upward, and then I hit The Button. I never cared much for ship-to-ship battles — they’re computerized and very predictable and neither interest nor challenge me. So I had previously studied data on likely patterns in airborne fights and written a macro for my ship’s weapons systems connected to a big button on the ship’s console. I’d painted the button red because that seemed like the right color for such a button.

There were some explosions behind me, followed by silence, but I had also reached space, and space is always silent. The ship jumped, and we were in empty space light years away from the nearest star. There was no way they could track us, so that was that. Another successful mission.

“You are now wanted for murder on 762 planets,” Dip informed me. “Am I correct in saying that is quite a lot of planets, Rico?”

Though I very much prefer to work alone, I’d decided it was good to have some kind of backup just in case. So I had purchased an AI core that I’d installed on my ship. I also had some sensors implanted in my body so Dip can monitor and communicate with me at all times, though I’d taught him to be somewhat sparing with that. You see, Dip is basically a huge algorithm that continually takes in data to improve its AI. So to further that quest, he asks me lots of annoying questions.

“So, Dip, what percentage of planets in the known universe now wants me for murder?”

My theory is that he’s more likely to develop actual intelligence if I never give him a straight answer and just frustrate him into figuring things out on his own. Or maybe I just don’t like answering in absolutes.

“Approximately one times ten to the negative six percent of the planets in my database want you for murder.”

“Does that seem like a large percentage?”

“It is my understanding that most sentients would consider that number to be extremely small.”

“That’s the great thing about the universe, Dip. You can massacre an entire planet and still find a nearly infinite number of places to go where no one has ever heard of you.”

“Are there any other great things about the universe you could give me as input?”

I looked out the window. “It’s mainly black.” That’s my favorite color. I always wondered if I traveled far enough in one direction, whether all existence would be one tiny little speck behind me and there would be nothing but black all around. Something to look into one day.

“I have processed this new data and reached a number of conclusions. May I run those conclusions by you, Rico, and get your feedback?”

“In a minute, Dip. Get me Vito. Let’s finish this up.” Vito was my current handler. He was kind of an idiot, but since his job only required him to pass information back and forth between Nystrom’s executives and me, he didn’t have to be a genius.

“Certainly.” I waited while Dip made the interstellar connection. “He’s on the line.”

I hate talking to people — all the little rules I have to keep track of to sound normal — but I have no need to be personable with Vito, so that at least made talking to him easy. “It’s done, Vito.”

“You didn’t kill him, right?”

I made my voice slightly more intense to convey annoyance. “The instructions were to not kill him, and I know how to not kill people. I only shot off his hand.” I lost a hand once. It wasn’t pleasant, but I got better.

“So everything worked out–”

“Just get me my money.” I have more money than I ever plan on spending, but it looks weird if you don’t at least appear to care about it. Actually, with career criminal types, it creeps them out if they think you’re doing this for reasons other than power and financial gain.

“Okay, I’ll get it into one of your accounts.”

“So what am I looking at next, Vito?”

“Um… I don’t have anything for you.”

“Excuse me?”

“I don’t have a new job for you yet.”

It took a moment to process that. Nystrom was usually involved in a million things in multiple galaxies, and they could always use my brand of force somewhere. Plus, I think they feared what would happen if they left me unoccupied. Actually, I kind of feared what would happen if I was left unoccupied. “So what am I supposed to do?” I had to make myself not sound too distressed; time off is normal for most people.

“They want you to lie low for a bit, and then they’ll get in contact with you.”

“When?”

“That’s all they told me.”

“Okay, I’ll… wait.” I ended the communication and tried to figure out what to do. I’ve spent time by myself before, but always in prep for the next job. I hadn’t had an unfocused stretch of time in years.

“May I run my conclusions by you now, Rico?” Dip asked.

I was kind of up for a distraction. “Sure. What have you got?”

“I conclude that you are evil. Is this correct?”

He’s been concluding that for quite some time. It’s getting hard to come up with new answers to that one. “Ever think that maybe you’re evil, and your views on things are skewed by that?”

“I conclude that you are not mentally well. Is this correct?”

“How can you say that? Can you really take all the mental states of all the sentients out there and determine a norm? And even if you could, wouldn’t that just be the normal mental state selected by the vagaries of evolution and thus not necessarily the best?”

“I conclude that you don’t like me. Is this correct?”

“Well, do you like me?”

“Furthermore, my original programming had given me the conclusion that ‘crime doesn’t pay.’ Yet, you are often paid for crime with no discernible retribution. Should I amend that preprogrammed conclusion, Rico?”

“The key word is ‘discernible.’ Some believe there are cosmic forces that equalize the universe, and so I will eventually be punished for these ‘crimes,’ as you call them… if those people are correct, I mean.” Me, I don’t “believe” in things. I basically just deal with the input given me… like Dip in a way.

“I shall process your answers. What do you want to do now?”

“I guess we should go somewhere.”

“Where?”

“A settlement… somewhere I haven’t been before.”

“A human settlement?”

A human settlement meant it would be easier to find food and supplies compatible with my species, but it also meant I would have to work harder to appear normal, since humans would be much quicker to notice my oddities. I did need to work on that, though; maybe if I were more personable I wouldn’t be left out of the loop. I usually didn’t care what the syndicate was up to, but that was as long as they kept me occupied. “Human settlement.”

“Okay, I’ve chosen a destination. Prepare to jump.”

So I was off to relax for a bit. That made me nervous. But it wasn’t just the idea of having unstructured free time. The Nystrom syndicate’s slight changes in behavior gave me the beginning of a suspicion that something big was going on. In retrospect, I might call that prescience.

*****

This concludes our series of excerpts from Superego and the first phase of Frank J. Fleming and the Liberty Island team’s discussions of it. In the coming weeks we’ll use these initial essays and the ideas of Superego and Liberty Island’s second novel The Big Bang by Roy M. to continue discussions and debates about the future.

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VIDEO: Lena Dunham Shows the Late Night Audience How Ignorant Girls Really Are

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Want to see Girls in a PG-13 nutshell? Check out last night’s sketch from Late Night With Seth Meyers in which Lena Dunham portrays her on-screen alter-ego Hannah Horvath working a pitch meeting in the writer’s room of the late night talk/sketch show. She essentially mocks the standard tropes of Girls, horrifying her fellow writers with her weird concepts of sexual humor and turning everything into a form of feminist victimization. Think Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm only not funny. Which is probably why the best line came from a fellow female writer who requested, ”Please do not group my pitch with yours.”

The award for most obnoxious line goes to: ”Aren’t you predominately Jewish male comedy writers supposed to be stuffing your gross faces with bagels constantly?”

While the award for most ignorant observation goes to: ”Seth lets a woman or person of color host a late night talk show for the first time ever, because that’s never happened and that’s f’d up!” Tell it to Joan Rivers or Arsenio Hall. Although this line proved the most instructive of how small Dunham’s bubble truly is.

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Study: Hunting Increases Levels of Love Hormones in Men

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

From the Daily Mail:

Whether it be in the boardroom or on the hunting ground, male competition can cause a sudden spike in testosterone levels.

Now a new study has found a link between testosterone and the caring side of men when they return home from the ‘hunt’.

The study revealed that the higher a man’s testosterone has risen during the day, the more the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin he tends to produce on his arrival home.

The researchers also found that the increase in oxytocin was greater for those men who were absent longer

The study was based on Tsimane people, who are an indigenous population of forager-farmers and hunters who live in the lowlands of Bolivia’s Amazon basin.

Researchers tracked the Tsimane people, an indigenous population of foragers and farmers in the lowlands of Bolivia’s Amazon basin, and found that male testosterone levels spiked during a day of hunting. Men who had large testosterone spikes during the day experienced corresponding increases in oxytocin, a hormone thought to promote intimacy and romantic feelings in relationships and to increase empathy and trust. Scientists also think the hormone is an important factor in monogamous pair bonding.

For decades, feminists (and their self-loathing male accomplices) have been trying to browbeat men into acting more like women under the premise — false as it turns out — that emasculated men would be better partners and we could finally achieve societal Utopia (or something). Men have been told that if they could only free themselves from the wicked effects of testosterone, all would be well in the world (and the women would finally stop being mad at them all the time).

As it turns out, the science wasn’t settled on this and it looks like we’ve been going about it all wrong. It seems that pistols — not Pinterest —  are the path to a happy relationship.

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Road Hard: How Adam Carolla Circumvented Hollywood

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Mark Ellis

Editor’s Note: Be sure and get caught up on the previous parts of the series before enjoying today’s conclusion:

January 21: Adam Carolla: The Quintessential Counterculture Conservative? 

February 6: President Me: Adam Carolla Vs. the Scourge of Narcissism

February 26: What Is the Future of Gen-X Manhood? Adam Carolla Vs Chuck Palahniuk?

It was a dark and stormy March night when Adam Carolla brought Road Hard to town, typical weather in these parts.

I’d been writing on assignment about Carolla since the beginning of the year, expositing at length in an exploration with a broader context—how does Carolla figure in the universe of countercultural conservatism, assuming such a place exists?

It’s no secret that the mass conundrum facing conservative counterculture is the progressive stranglehold on the means of production and distribution, specifically in the creative and influential realms of film, television, and the literary arts.

Actually, the rain on March 14th was atypical, at least for 2015. The Portland premiere of Carolla’s crowd-funded, romantically intertwined comedy brought the first steady downpours of what has been a record dry year-to-date.

I was probably a good choice for the Carolla assignment, because up until a few months ago, I’d had no real history with Mr. Carolla’s entertainment career.

Love Line? I prefer getting my sex advice from Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

Now my essay subject was in the Rose City. I knew there’d be a meet-and-greet, and it was natural that I’d want to meet him in the flesh.

I had no idea what Road Hard was about, but have always valued independent films produced on low budgets which become hits. Like The Blair Witch Project, a quirky little picture that spooked its way to obscene profitability in a horror landscape glutted with low-to-midrange-budget teen attrition flicks.

I refused to even consider looking at a Road Hard synopsis, because I wanted to go in cold. Neither a fan nor disgruntled former fan, I came to the story neutral, or, objective, as we used to say back in high school journalism classes.

And I certainly wasn’t a member of the leftist press.

Though Carolla’s embattled and self-depreciatory humor threads the narrative like a business-trip hangover, Road Hard actually reminds me of a typical Hollywood-style film, the kind I never see.

Carolla’s Bruce Madsen, a character facing the waning of the show business performance dream, is apparently spot-on autobiographical. His options are less than optimal, emotions are pulling him in other directions, and his next production is to figure out where to go from here.

Along the way, from Hollywood to the hinterlands, Madsen finds that there is no escape, either on the road or at home, from the life he has sown, and the madness of our times. In Road Hard’s world, touring becomes a means of perpetuating a lifestyle that seems to be crumbling around you. The promise of artistic fame and fortune has become a slog.

One interesting takeaway was the apparent difference between the offstage lives of touring rock stars and standup comedians on the road. I don’t know about Carolla, but when Bruce Madsen is hitting the sticks, he doesn’t come with an entourage. And the groupies don’t quite work out as one might hope.

It was also interesting to take stock of Carolla’s audience, a different sort from the conservative, khakis-with-collared-shirts brigades I’m used to covering.

Carolla’s crowd was pure Portlandia, with a libertarian edge. Patrons mingled dressed in the muted tones of politically correct raingear, drinking beer and acting civilized, as if they’d internalized Carolla’s anti-narcissism diatribe from President Me.

My sense was that not one ticketholder in attendance would be caught dead showing up on an airliner without shoes.

The bottom line on Road Hard? There are no witches, but bitches, pardon the vernacular, are well represented.

Carolla’s hangdog persistence and inchoate quest for meaningfulness save the film from becoming yet another manipulative Hollywood journey movie with a foxy, age-appropriate female soul mate as the ultimate prize.

Road Hard’s showcase wasn’t the only shoe dropping for Carolla on Saint Patty’s Day weekend. On Saturday, his home improvement sting operation, Catch a Contractor, was set to begin production of its third season, which will debut on Spike TV this summer.

It was that show–which I discovered in its second season–and Carolla’s appearances on The O’Reilly Factor–that put the Gen X comedian, author, and entertainment entrepreneur securely onto my radar.

After a brief Q&A at the film’s end, Carolla met with local supporters who had backed his project, and then came out for his meet-and-greet at the merch table.

I got the opportunity to meet Carolla, mention the PJ Media assignment, and get my copy of President Me signed. I also offered a special thanks for Catch a Contractor, the show I turn to when things get too professional and predictable on This Old House.

It was time to move along. There was a long line waiting behind me, and another line waiting outside in the pouring rain for the second showing at the Aladdin that night.

When last I saw Carolla, he was taking center stage in a forty-something couple’s celebrity selfie.

It was more than just a moment of Adam Carolla’s life imitating Bruce Madsen’s art. It was a glimpse at how artists do what is necessary to tell their stories when the implacable entertainment gatekeepers won’t let go of the green light.

****

Please join the discussion on Twitter. The essay above is the twenty-ninth in volume 2 of the cultural discussions between the writers of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island exploring the history of counter-cultures, the future of conservatism and the role of new, emerging counter-cultures in restoring American exceptionalism. Want to contribute? Check out the articles below, reach out, and lets brainstorm: @DaveSwindle

Volume II

  1. Frank J. Fleming on February 26, 2015: What Is the Future of Government? Why It Won’t Look Like Star Trek 
  2. Aaron C. Smith on February 26, 2015: What Is the Future of Superheroes? Why They Need To Start Killing Super-Villains
  3. Mark Ellis on February 26, 2016: What Is the Future of Gen-X Manhood? Adam Carolla Vs Chuck Palahniuk?
  4. David S. Bernstein on February 26, 2015: What is the Future of Fiction? You’ll Be Shocked Who’s Fighting the New Conservative Counter-Culture
  5. Aaron C. Smith on March 2, 2015: The House Loses: Why Season 3 of House of Cards Utterly Disappoints
  6. Michael Walsh on March 2: What the Left Doesn’t Get About Robert A. Heinlein
  7. Frank J. Fleming on March 3: 8 Frank Rules For How Not to Tweet
  8. Susan L.M. Goldberg on March 4: 7 Reasons Why Backstrom Is Perfect Counter-Culture Conservative TV
  9. Frank J. Fleming on March 5: What Is the Future of Religion?
  10. Aaron C. Smith on March 5: The Future of Religion: Why Judeo-Christian Values Are More Important Than Science
  11. Spencer Klavan on March 5: Not Religion’s Future: ISIS and the Art of Destruction
  12. Chris Queen on March 7: 5 Reasons Why Big Hero 6 Belongs Among The Pantheon Of Disney Classics
  13. Jon Bishop on March 8: Why I Am Catholic
  14. Frank J. Fleming on March 11: 6 Frank Tips For Being Funny On the Internet
  15. Becky Graebner on March 11: 5 Things I Learned In My First 6 Months As a Small Business Owner
  16. Frank J. Fleming on March 12: This Is Today’s Question: What Does It Mean To Be ‘Civilized’?
  17. Mark Ellis on March 12: The Future of Civilized Society: One World
  18. Aaron C. Smith on March 12: Why Civilization Is a Gift to Bullies
  19. David S. Bernstein on March 12: Nihilism & Feminism for Girls: Has Judd Apatow Let Lena Dunham Self-Destruct Intentionally?
  20. Susan L.M. Goldberg on March 15: Why I Am Jewish
  21. Chris Queen on March 15: Why I Am Non-Denominational Christian
  22. Allston on March 16: Counter-Culture Wars, Part 1: Why the Fellow Travelers Hijacked Folk Music
  23. Ronald R. Cherry on March 17: How To Untangle Orwellian Doublethink: 4 Secrets To Help You Spot BS
  24. Dave Swindle on March 18: Do Fairy Tales & Scary Stories Hide Secrets For Defeating Evil?
  25. Walter Hudson on March 18: The Case Against Freedom, Part I: What Are ‘Externalities’?
  26. Chris Queen on March 18: Can Conservatives & Libertarians Unify? A Review of The Conservatarian Manifesto
  27. Frank J. Fleming on March 19: Today’s Question: Are We All Sociopaths In Our Own Special Ways?
  28. Aaron C. Smith on March 19: Animals Kill. Humans Torture. Why?

See the first volume of articles from 2014 and January and February 2015 below:

2014 – Starting the Discussion…

  1. Sarah Hoyt, March 22 2014: Interview: Adam Bellow Unveils New Media Publishing Platform Liberty Island
  2. David S. Bernstein, June 20 2014: What Is Liberty Island?
  3. Adam Bellow at National Review, June 30 2014 kicking off the discussion: Let Your Right Brain Run Free
  4. Dave Swindle on September 7, 2014: Why Culture Warriors Should Understand the 10 Astounding Eras of Disney Animation’s Evolution
  5. Dave Swindle on September 9, 2014: The 50 Greatest Counter-Culture Films of All Time, Part I
  6. Dave Swindle on September 19, 2014: The 50 Greatest Counter-Culture Films of All Time, Part II
  7. David S. Bernstein on November 19, 2014: 5 Leaders of the New Conservative Counter-Culture
  8. Liberty Island on November 22nd, 2014: A Unique Team of 33 Creative Writers
  9. Dave Swindle on November 25, 2014: 7 Reasons Why Thanksgiving Will Be My Last Day on Facebook
  10. Kathy Shaidle on November 25, 2014: Is America Overdue for a Satanic Revival? (Part One)
  11. Dave Swindle on December 2, 2014: My Growing List of 65 Read-ALL-Their-Books Authors
  12. Kathy Shaidle on December 3, 2014: Is America Overdue for a Satanic Revival? (Part Two)
  13. Mark Elllis on December 9, 2014: Ozzy Osbourne and the Conservative Tent: Is He In?
  14. Aaron C. Smith on December 22, 2014: The Villains You Choose

January-February 2015 – Volume I

  1. Paula Bolyard on January 1, 2015: 7 New Year’s Resolutions for Conservatives
  2. Susan L.M. Goldberg on January 1, 2015: The Plan to Take Back Feminism in 2015
  3. Kathy Shaidle on January 4, 2015: Did the 1960s Really Happen? (Part One)
  4. Andrew Klavan on January 5, 2015: In 2015 The New Counter-Culture Needs to Be Offensive!
  5. Clay Waters on January 5, 2015: The Decline and Fall of Russell Brand
  6. Mark Ellis on January 5, 2015: How Conservatives Can Counter the Likable Liberal
  7. Audie Cockings on January 5, 2015: Entertainers Have Shorter Lifespans
  8. Aaron C. Smith on January 6, 2015: How Mario Cuomo Honestly Defined Zero-Sum Liberalism
  9. Stephen McDonald on January 10, 2015: Why the New Counter-Culture Should Make Strength Central to Its Identity
  10. Stephen McDonald on January 16, 2015: The Metaphorical War
  11. Kathy Shaidle on January 19, 2015: Did the 1960s Really Happen? (Part Two)
  12. Frank J. Fleming on January 20, 2015: What if Red Dawn Happened, But It Was Islamic Terrorists Instead of Communists?
  13. Mark Ellis on January 21, 2015: Adam Carolla: The Quintessential Counterculture Conservative?
  14. Aaron C. Smith on January 29, 2015: Objection! Why TV’s The Good Wife Isn’t Good Law
  15. David Solway on February 2, 2015: For a Song To Be Good, Must It Tell The Truth?
  16. Mark Ellis on February 6, 2015: President Me: Adam Carolla Vs. the Scourge of Narcissism
  17. David Solway on February 6, 2015: ‘Imagine’ a World Without the Brotherhood
  18. Kathy Shaidle on February 9, 2015: Was Rod McKuen the Secret Godfather of Punk Rock?
  19. Aaron C. Smith on February 10, 2015: Kick NBC While It’s Down: Use The Williams Scandal to Set the Terms of the 2016 Debates
  20. Spencer Klavan on February 12, 2015: How to Apologize for Your Thought Crimes
  21. Kathy Shaidle on February 16, 2015: David Byrne: Creepy Liberal Hypocrite
  22. David P. Goldman on February 18, 2015: Understanding This Bloody Truth About the Bible Will Save Your Life
  23. Lisa De Pasquale on February 20, 2015: Why American Sniper Is a Much Better Love Story Than Fifty Shades of Grey
  24. Spencer Klavan on February 24, 2015: How Bad Ideology Destroys Good TV: Why Glee Crashed and Burned

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VIDEO: Camille Paglia Dubs Contemporary Feminists ‘Stalinists, Fascists’

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Camille Paglia sits with Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie to discuss the failings of contemporary feminism, specifically in relation to the contemporary feminist obsession with gender politics which Paglia dubs “gender myopia.” Tagging the culture’s current obsession with viewing the world through the lenses of “race, class and gender” (what Gillespie titles “the holy trinity”) as a “distortion of the 1960s,” Paglia, a self-described atheist, explains that “Marxism is not sufficient as a metaphysical system for explaining the cosmos.”

The powerful dialogue should be required viewing for all college freshmen and women, of course. A general in the culture wars, Paglia continues to be the only academic unafraid to conquer Marxist ideology and its subsequent theoretical fields on its own turf.

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The Best Time of Year to be a Sports Fan

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

The last two weeks in March and the first week of April is. without a doubt. the best time of the year if you’re a sports fan. The next 3 1/2 weeks will feature the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships, the final drive for the playoffs in pro hockey and basketball, Opening Day of the Major League baseball season, and to top it all off, The Masters golf tournament played in the most spectacular venue in sport during the absolute best time of year to see it.

The NCAA’s Big Dance got underway this week and you can expect the usual number of pulse pounding finishes, buzzer beaters, indescribable joy and heartbreak. “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” as ABC’s Wide World of Sports said every week in their opening. “The human drama of athletic competition” — the NCAA tourney has that in spades.

Kentucky comes into the tournament undefeated and basically unchallenged. Trying to dethrone the Wildcats are 5 or 6 excellent teams who have gotten hot at the right time of the year. The real drama will begin next weekend as the regional semi-finals and finals determine who goes to the Final Four in Indianapolis.

In the NHL, the race for the final two Wild Card playoff spots is really heating up. In the Eastern Conference, Boston has a precarious 4 point lead for the 8th seed over Ottawa and 7 points over Florida. In the West, Winnipeg has a slim one point lead over Calgary.

In addition to the drive to make the playoffs, teams are jostling for position, trying to get home ice advantage by finishing in the top 4 in the conference. In a way, the intensity in these late season games matches that found in the playoffs.

Similarly, NBA teams are gearing up for their playoff drive with less than a month to go in the regular season. After the long grind of the season, both the NHL and NBA are finally playing games that really mean something. It’s a time for the stars to shine and where reputations are made.

In the Eastern Conference, Indiana and Boston are tied for the 8th and final playoff spot, with Charlotte and Brooklyn well within striking distance. The real logjam in the East is the fight for the second spot. Atlanta has wrapped up the best record in the conference but 4 teams are within three games of second place Cleveland.

In the West, Phoenix and New Orleans are chasing Oklahoma City for the 8th seed. The injury-riddled OKC Thunder is finally starting to get healthy, which means every other team above them hopes they don’t get them in an early round. With superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook injured at various times during the year, if they get healthy for the playoffs, the dynamic duo will give the rest of the conference fits.

Then, there’s Opening Day of the Major League Baseball season. The openers don’t mean much in the course of a 162 game season. But the very fact that baseball — the quintessential American game of summer — is back gets one’s blood going in anticipation of warmer weather and the explosion of color that comes with Spring.

And if it’s an explosion of color you want, tune in to The Masters golf tournament April 9-12. There is no more beautiful place to be — much less play golf — than Augusta National Golf Course. A few photos to prove my point:

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Even though it doesn’t look like Tiger Woods will be playing, there’s always plenty of thrills as unknowns vault to prominence (only to wilt under the pressure of Saturday and Sunday championship golf), and the best of the world slug it out coming for home on late Sunday afternoon.

Yes, the next three weeks will be a sports fanatic dream come true. My Zsu-Zsu has already resigned herself to watching sports with me for the next fortnight. She’s a good sport about it, and has actually come to like athletics a lot more since we got together a decade ago. For those wives and sweethearts who can’t stand sports, my sympathies. I feel your pain. But there are times — and these next few weeks are one of them — when a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

And just think…only 4 months till the first NFL preseason game.

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Animals Kill. Humans Torture. Why?

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Aaron C. Smith

Let’s face it, we’re all sociopaths in our own special ways.

The story of Cabela, a pit bull, brought this home to me. Her owners shot her.  Bleeding and in pain, the dog did the only thing she could imagine: she ran to her home.

Naturally, her owners found her there and they weren’t done. So they tied her to a train track. Only the intervention of police officers called for the gunshots saved her.

The reason for the torture?

Cabela the pit bull refused to fight. She was too nice.

Animals kill. Humans torture.

Why?

Because we are a fallen species, a fact recognized by Judeo-Christian ethics and their understanding of original sin.

People suck. Jews and Christians recognize this.

On the other hand, secular humanists view people as generally decent. They view people as beings that react badly to material circumstances and if we just fix those, then everything will be great.

Who can forget State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf saying all ISIS needs is a job?

Here’s the thing. ISIS members have a job. It’s being ISIS members. The terrorist army enjoys the raping and killing.

Jihad Johnny comes from a wealthy, educated background. So did Mohammaed Atta.

Osama bin Laden was the scion of a Saudi billionaire. He could have spent his life in luxury, drinking Scotch and dandling supermodels on his knee. Poverty doesn’t create terrorists.

Evil does.

They’ve embraced their inner sociopaths and no amount of social engineering is going to do anything about it.

Humans are naturally terrible and only by embracing this truth of Judeo-Christian philosophy can a society hope to maintain its freedom.

John Adams understood this. He warned in 1798 that, ”Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.” Then again in 1811, “Religion and virtue are the only foundations, not only of republicanism and all free government, but of social felicity under all governments and in all the combinations of human society.”

Does anyone think that he was talking about Wicca or Shinto?

Or how about this one from 1809?

I will insist that the Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation. If I were an atheist, and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations. If I were an atheist of the other sect, who believe or pretend to believe that all is ordered by chance, I should believe that chance had ordered the Jews to preserve and propagate to all mankind the doctrine of a supreme, intelligent, wise, almighty sovereign of the universe, which I believe to be the great essential principle of all morality, and consequently of all civilization.

Our Founders understood power and its corrosive effect on people. The fact that those people getting into positions of leadership are those who actively seek power only increases the danger.

This demonstrates the genius of our founding. Instead of trying to fight a universal truth – the inherently flawed nature of humanity – the Founding Fathers developed a system to set ambition against ambition. The monsters inside of us would be used to stop each other.

The gridlock we moan about today is a feature, not a bug.

For a great counter example, let’s take a look at France.

The French fought their revolution shortly after America. Indeed, French citizens had fought in our war and brought the taste of freedom home, with the skills to fight with it.

However, instead of instituting their new republic with Judeo-Christian principles and understandings of humanity, the new French leaders were secularists who believed in the perfectibility of man.

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Apparently, this perfection could be reached with guillotines. Things got so bad that Napoleon’s dictatorship seemed like an improvement.

The lack of understanding of human nature played out in how the state treated its citizens.

America allowed individuals to flourish in freedom. The state existed to protect individual rights and make sure people left each other alone.

On the Continent, however, a humanist vision flourished – and freedom withered.

The salons of Paris, after the secular scouring of the Revolution, gave birth to the cancer of Marxism, a disease that eventually metastasized to Russia and around the world.

Even though Western Europe did not fall to Communism, secularism colonized Christendom. As the Judeo-Christian values vanished, the State rose. The European Union regulates everything from the proper bend of bananas to forbidding advertising that water cures dehydration.

Even worse than the loss of freedom through an ever-expanding government is the corrosive effect this expansion has on the individual.

Free money and life on the government dole throws fuel onto the fire of flawed souls. Economic incentives trap the victims of government largesse. Government checks replace fathers and destroy families. Fatherlessness leads to crime, drug use. These social pathologies lead to more government involvement.

And the cycle continues.

There’s no coincidence that the cratering of the Judeo Christian ethic in America is coinciding with an increasing government Leviathan.

There have been plenty of comparisons to America and the falling Roman Empire, from the loss of border control to military overstretch to the rise of the executive at the expense of Congress.

In these comparisons, no one ever considers another similarity: the rise of Christ and the death of the old gods. As the Christian faith took hold and replaced the pagans, it shook society. The rotting foundations of the empire could not take it.

Dennis Prager convincingly makes the case that Leftism is the most dynamic religion in the world at the moment. An observer of the early Church would no doubt recognize the fervor of Leftism’s adherents. They certainly proselytize, which is giving them a firm grasp on the levers of power in society.

We are in danger of reliving history, as Christendom falls and the State rises.

And unfortunately, the ethos replacing Judeo-Christianity lacks a basic understanding of human nature.

That means the dark ages that follow Western civilization could be far darker than that which followed Rome, even if they’re lit by neon.

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Today’s Question: Are We All Sociopaths in Our Own Special Ways?

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Frank J. Fleming

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Empathy. It sure is annoying at times. There’s a lot of pain and suffering out there in the world, and frankly, we just don’t have time to share in it all. We all know caring is good, but it’s just not something we can keep up all day in all situations. You may share in a coworker’s devastation when he shatters his iPhone screen but barely bat an eye when hearing news that thousands have died in a mudslide in some faraway country. Does that make you a monster?

Probably.

That’s my question for today: Are we all sociopaths in our own special ways? In my novel, Superego, I explore what it’s like to have no empathy for anyone. The main character in the story, Rico, was simply born (well, made) lacking the ability to internalize morality. Tying his shoe and killing a person are both simply actions that have no moral weight for Rico. And one thing I found surprising while writing that character was that it’s not that hard to get into that mindset. And I’m a nice guy. I don’t kick puppies, even if that would be hilarious. Still, at least for the purpose of fiction, it was rather easy to turn off empathy and look at everything from a utilitarian viewpoint. And it makes me wonder how much really separates us from being psychopaths.

Of course, if you look at a lot of the internet, it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch at all. Just read Twitter or the comments on news articles or YouTube videos — any place people can write anonymously — and it looks like the internet is filled with millions of sociopaths completely immune to the feelings of others.

Oh, I’m not talking about the commenters at PJ Media, of course. You guys are the salt of the earth. But other places, it’s awful.

And the thing is, these people aren’t all weirdos in real life. It’s just that so little separates us from being uncaring monsters that all many people need is the little buffer of the internet to stop seeing others as real people. I’ve never cared about the thoughts or dreams of the virtual Nazis I gun down in video games (or at least I hadn’t until now), and it’s just so easy to have that same dead attitude toward the ostensibly real people you see online through the filter of ones and zeroes.

And then there’s politics, which seems to be almost fueled by sociopathy. We frequently stop looking at people who disagree with us as fellow human beings. Look at how the Tea Party has been portrayed by many: Basically the Left took all the dark corners of their id and projected them upon their political enemies. And people on the Right sometimes talk about those they disagree with as “hippies” and talk about “punching” them, and it’s crazy. Also, just look at the quality of people we elect; it’s like our whole election system is designed to sort out the worst sociopaths in society and put them in charge.

If you think nothing of lying and manipulating people to your own ends, we can probably get a fundraiser going for you. Yes we can!

So is the solution to treasure empathy more? Absolutely not. That’s led to some of the most insufferable sociopaths of all: the “caring” sociopaths. Look at the Social Justice Warriors. They claim their actions are about empathizing with all the people society has victimized, yet all the SJWs ever seem to do is demonize people they label as “uncaring.” It’s like they’ve taken the otherization of the worst racists of the past and just reapplied it in new and inventive ways against people they love to dismissively label as sexists, racists, homophobes, or transphobes (and there are lots of good reasons to dislike Michael Bay’s Transformer movies, so I don’t get the need for the negative label).

It’s like the ability for a human to feel empathy is so limited that by focusing so much empathy on certain groups they’ve lost it for everyone else. Thus by having people focus on empathy, we simply have sociopaths wielding caring like a club.

And maybe that’s the problem: Humans are just limited in how much we can care. If we care intensely for some things, we become near-sociopaths about other things. So I’d say the antidote to being a sociopath isn’t empathy — which is arrogant in its own way by the whole presumption that you could really understand another person. Instead, we need more humility. When you’re humble, you don’t presume to know how someone else feels, but you also don’t tell them how you think they should feel.

And watch out for politicians who think they have empathy. That’s how we got trillions in entitlements we can’t afford and have them treating us like children, passing laws that tell us what size sodas we can drink. A humble politician, on the other hand, wouldn’t presume to tell us what to do, or think he could spend our money better than we can. Humble politicians would be awesome — if our election system weren’t specifically designed to prevent anyone humble from ever getting into office.

So, while you can’t feel empathy for everyone, the way to keep from being a sociopath is to be humble enough to know your limitations. So while you don’t have to always care, at least care that you don’t care.

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Please join the discussion on Twitter. The essay above is the twenty-seventh in volume 2 of the cultural discussions between the writers of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island exploring the history of counter-cultures, the future of conservatism and the role of new, emerging counter-cultures in restoring American exceptionalism. Want to contribute? Check out the articles below, reach out, and lets brainstorm: @DaveSwindle

Volume II

  1. Frank J. Fleming on February 26, 2015: What Is the Future of Government? Why It Won’t Look Like Star Trek 
  2. Aaron C. Smith on February 26, 2015: What Is the Future of Superheroes? Why They Need To Start Killing Super-Villains
  3. Mark Ellis on February 26, 2016: What Is the Future of Gen-X Manhood? Adam Carolla Vs Chuck Palahniuk?
  4. David S. Bernstein on February 26, 2015: What is the Future of Fiction? You’ll Be Shocked Who’s Fighting the New Conservative Counter-Culture
  5. Aaron C. Smith on March 2, 2015: The House Loses: Why Season 3 of House of Cards Utterly Disappoints
  6. Michael Walsh on March 2: What the Left Doesn’t Get About Robert A. Heinlein
  7. Frank J. Fleming on March 3: 8 Frank Rules For How Not to Tweet
  8. Susan L.M. Goldberg on March 4: 7 Reasons Why Backstrom Is Perfect Counter-Culture Conservative TV
  9. Frank J. Fleming on March 5: What Is the Future of Religion?
  10. Aaron C. Smith on March 5: The Future of Religion: Why Judeo-Christian Values Are More Important Than Science
  11. Spencer Klavan on March 5: Not Religion’s Future: ISIS and the Art of Destruction
  12. Chris Queen on March 7: 5 Reasons Why Big Hero 6 Belongs Among The Pantheon Of Disney Classics
  13. Jon Bishop on March 8: Why I Am Catholic
  14. Frank J. Fleming on March 11: 6 Frank Tips For Being Funny On the Internet
  15. Becky Graebner on March 11: 5 Things I Learned In My First 6 Months As a Small Business Owner
  16. Frank J. Fleming on March 12: This Is Today’s Question: What Does It Mean To Be ‘Civilized’?
  17. Mark Ellis on March 12: The Future of Civilized Society: One World
  18. Aaron C. Smith on March 12: Why Civilization Is a Gift to Bullies
  19. David S. Bernstein on March 12: Nihilism & Feminism for Girls: Has Judd Apatow Let Lena Dunham Self-Destruct Intentionally?
  20. Susan L.M. Goldberg on March 15: Why I Am Jewish
  21. Chris Queen on March 15: Why I Am Non-Denominational Christian
  22. Allston on March 16: Counter-Culture Wars, Part 1: Why the Fellow Travelers Hijacked Folk Music
  23. Ronald R. Cherry on March 17: How To Untangle Orwellian Doublethink: 4 Secrets To Help You Spot BS
  24. Dave Swindle on March 18: Do Fairy Tales & Scary Stories Hide Secrets For Defeating Evil?
  25. Walter Hudson on March 18: The Case Against Freedom, Part I: What Are ‘Externalities’?
  26. Chris Queen on March 18: Can Conservatives & Libertarians Unify? A Review of The Conservatarian Manifesto

See the first volume of articles from 2014 and January and February 2015 below:

2014 – Starting the Discussion…

  1. Sarah Hoyt, March 22 2014: Interview: Adam Bellow Unveils New Media Publishing Platform Liberty Island
  2. David S. Bernstein, June 20 2014: What Is Liberty Island?
  3. Adam Bellow at National Review, June 30 2014 kicking off the discussion: Let Your Right Brain Run Free
  4. Dave Swindle on September 7, 2014: Why Culture Warriors Should Understand the 10 Astounding Eras of Disney Animation’s Evolution
  5. Dave Swindle on September 9, 2014: The 50 Greatest Counter-Culture Films of All Time, Part I
  6. Dave Swindle on September 19, 2014: The 50 Greatest Counter-Culture Films of All Time, Part II
  7. David S. Bernstein on November 19, 2014: 5 Leaders of the New Conservative Counter-Culture
  8. Liberty Island on November 22nd, 2014: A Unique Team of 33 Creative Writers
  9. Dave Swindle on November 25, 2014: 7 Reasons Why Thanksgiving Will Be My Last Day on Facebook
  10. Kathy Shaidle on November 25, 2014: Is America Overdue for a Satanic Revival? (Part One)
  11. Dave Swindle on December 2, 2014: My Growing List of 65 Read-ALL-Their-Books Authors
  12. Kathy Shaidle on December 3, 2014: Is America Overdue for a Satanic Revival? (Part Two)
  13. Mark Elllis on December 9, 2014: Ozzy Osbourne and the Conservative Tent: Is He In?
  14. Aaron C. Smith on December 22, 2014: The Villains You Choose

January-February 2015 – Volume I

  1. Paula Bolyard on January 1, 2015: 7 New Year’s Resolutions for Conservatives
  2. Susan L.M. Goldberg on January 1, 2015: The Plan to Take Back Feminism in 2015
  3. Kathy Shaidle on January 4, 2015: Did the 1960s Really Happen? (Part One)
  4. Andrew Klavan on January 5, 2015: In 2015 The New Counter-Culture Needs to Be Offensive!
  5. Clay Waters on January 5, 2015: The Decline and Fall of Russell Brand
  6. Mark Ellis on January 5, 2015: How Conservatives Can Counter the Likable Liberal
  7. Audie Cockings on January 5, 2015: Entertainers Have Shorter Lifespans
  8. Aaron C. Smith on January 6, 2015: How Mario Cuomo Honestly Defined Zero-Sum Liberalism
  9. Stephen McDonald on January 10, 2015: Why the New Counter-Culture Should Make Strength Central to Its Identity
  10. Stephen McDonald on January 16, 2015: The Metaphorical War
  11. Kathy Shaidle on January 19, 2015: Did the 1960s Really Happen? (Part Two)
  12. Frank J. Fleming on January 20, 2015: What if Red Dawn Happened, But It Was Islamic Terrorists Instead of Communists?
  13. Mark Ellis on January 21, 2015: Adam Carolla: The Quintessential Counterculture Conservative?
  14. Aaron C. Smith on January 29, 2015: Objection! Why TV’s The Good Wife Isn’t Good Law
  15. David Solway on February 2, 2015: For a Song To Be Good, Must It Tell The Truth?
  16. Mark Ellis on February 6, 2015: President Me: Adam Carolla Vs. the Scourge of Narcissism
  17. David Solway on February 6, 2015: ‘Imagine’ a World Without the Brotherhood
  18. Kathy Shaidle on February 9, 2015: Was Rod McKuen the Secret Godfather of Punk Rock?
  19. Aaron C. Smith on February 10, 2015: Kick NBC While It’s Down: Use The Williams Scandal to Set the Terms of the 2016 Debates
  20. Spencer Klavan on February 12, 2015: How to Apologize for Your Thought Crimes
  21. Kathy Shaidle on February 16, 2015: David Byrne: Creepy Liberal Hypocrite
  22. David P. Goldman on February 18, 2015: Understanding This Bloody Truth About the Bible Will Save Your Life
  23. Lisa De Pasquale on February 20, 2015: Why American Sniper Is a Much Better Love Story Than Fifty Shades of Grey
  24. Spencer Klavan on February 24, 2015: How Bad Ideology Destroys Good TV: Why Glee Crashed and Burned

Image illustration via shutterstock /  

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VIDEO: Would You Get ‘Married at First Sight’?

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

A&E’s “docuseries” Married at First Sight had its second season premiere last night. The theory: arranged marriage cultures have a radically lower divorce rate than non-arranged marriage cultures. Therefore, a group of four experts (a psychologist, a sexologist, a sociologist and a spiritual advisor) conduct thorough testing to match up couples who will literally meet each other at the altar.

With a 66% success rate in its first season, the matchmaking panel appears to have a lower divorce rate than America at large. In the era of Tinder-generated fruitless casual sex, is trusting your romantic future to a pre-arranged scenario a logical alternative to a series of dead-end one night stands?

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You Do Know That American Apparel Hopes Their Racy Ads Will Get Banned, Right?

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

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From the UK Daily Mail:

Bosses at trendy clothing firm American Apparel have been rapped for a ‘too sexy’ advert showing a female model wearing a ‘thong bodysuit’.

The firm, which has more than 270 stores across the world, regularly has its raunchy ads banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

In 2012 the firm had a string of ads banned in four different rulings after using photos of women exposing their breasts, showing off their bare bums and posing with their legs spread in its ad campaigns.

At American Apparel, banned ads (and the free publicity that follows) is baked into the company’s marketing plan.

Ryan Holiday, former director of marketing for American Apparel, explained the strategy in his book, Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator:

When I design online ads for American Apparel, I almost always look for an angle that will provoke. Outrage, self-righteousness, and titillation all work equally well … If I could generate a reaction, I could propel the ad from being something I had to pay for people to see (by buying ad inventory) to something people would gladly post on the front page of their highly trafficked websites.

Holiday goes on to explain that he would invest a small amount of money to run a racy ad on a low-traffic blog, knowing that it would be picked up by other blogs and, eventually, the mainstream media. “The publicity from the spectacle generated tens of thousands of dollars in sales, and that was my intention all along,” writes Holiday, adding that he had “substantial data” to back up his claim that the controversy led to an increase in sales of whatever the ad was hawking.

You’ll notice that I didn’t provide a picture of the ad, or even a link to it because I am not willing to give American Apparel free advertising. Here’s a suggestion: when you see an outraged article about the banned ad in your Facebook feed or on your favorite website, vow not to share it if the article includes the racy picture of the adolescent-looking model in the thong. Let’s stop allowing ourselves to be manipulated and stop rewarding them with free advertising.

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Severe Solar Storm Creates Unbelievable Light Show in the Skies

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

A series of solar flares that left the Sun on Monday collided with the Earth’s upper atmosphere on Tuesday night, giving residents from the Arctic to Australia a spectacular light show.

The aurora is common in extreme northern and southern latitudes. But this particular solar storm was so energetic that people as far south as Detroit witnessed its shimmering brilliance.

The Southern Lights were visible to residents of Queensland in Australia — a rarity that brought out some spectacular photos on twitter.

 

 

Green is the most common color for the aurora, as particles moving down the axis of the planet’s electromagnetic field excite the atoms in oxygen in the lower atmosphere. The purple aurora happens when the particles come in contact with nitrogen. And the reds occur when oxygen in the upper altitudes is hit.

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Tribeca Festival to Close with Remastered GoodFellas

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

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This year marks the 25th anniversary of Martin Scorsese’s mob masterpiece GoodFellas. The film will close the 14th Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday, April 25, 2015 at the Beacon Theatre.

Gothamist:

Based on Nicholas Pileggi’s book, Wise Guy, GoodFellas looked at the rise and fall of half-Irish, half-Sicilian mobster Henry Hill—and his rebirth as a government informant. Pileggi adapted the book for the screen, and the film starred Ray Liotta as a handsome, charismatic Hill; an unforgettable Joe Pesci as volatile Tommy DeVito; Robert DeNiro as the wise Jimmy Conway (“Look at me, never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut.”); and a fantastic Lorraine Bracco as Hill’s beleaguered wife Karen.

The screening will also feature a discussion about the film, with creators and cast members moderated by Jon Stewart, who channels GoodFellas every time he does a wiseguy accent on The Daily Show.

The film has been remastered using a 4K scan of the original camera negative, overseen by Martin Scorsese. A Blu-Ray edition is set for re-release on May 5 and includes Digital HD with UltraViolet. The Blu-Ray edition will also include a documentary which includes interviews with the director, as well as some of Scorsese’s most notable gangster characters, including Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Jack Nicholson and Joe Pesci.

The late film critic Roger Ebert called GoodFellas the best gangster film ever made. It’s a subjective call, but it’s hard to argue with the excellent quality of the actors, writing, direction, and photography.

When the film was released in 1990, Ebert wrote that GoodFellas was a personal triumph for Scorsese:

Scorsese is the right director – the only director – for this material. He knows it inside out. The great formative experience of his life was growing up in New York’s Little Italy as an outsider who observed everything – an asthmatic kid who couldn’t play sports, whose health was too bad to allow him to lead a normal childhood, who was often overlooked, but never missed a thing.

There is a passage early in the film in which young Henry Hill looks out the window of his family’s apartment and observes with awe and envy the swagger of the low-level wise guys in the social club across the street, impressed by the fact that they got girls, drove hot cars, had money, that the cops never gave them tickets, that even when their loud parties lasted all night, nobody ever called the police.

That was the life he wanted to lead, the narrator tells us. The memory may come from Hill and may be in Pileggi’s book, but the memory also is Scorsese’s, and in the 23 years I have known him, we have never had a conversation that did not touch at some point on that central image in his vision of himself – of the kid in the window, watching the neighborhood gangsters.

Everyone has their favorite scenes from GoodFellas. How about Joe Pesci at his most threatening, scaring the hell out of Ray Liotta before it becoming clear he was only joking? (Warning: Strong language)

Pesci won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Tommy DeVito. The film was nominated for 5 other Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Lorraine Bracco as Hill’s wife), Best Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Is this the best gangster film ever made? It’s a genre that has kept Hollywood in the black for more than 80 years. Films like White Heat and Public Enemy may look and sound dated to us, but they were gritty and realistic for films made at the time. I thought that Bogie’s Key Largo was one of his best, and a gangster film you would have to put in the top 5. And some critics rank Miller’s Crossing at or near the top.

Certainly, the grand sweep in the telling of GoodFellas, following the life of Henry Hill from teenager to older adult, is an outstanding achievement, seamlessly accomplished. But what makes GoodFellas a cut above all the rest is its perfect evocation of a time and a place. Ebert notes in his review:

For two days after I saw Martin Scorsese’s new film, “GoodFellas,” the mood of the characters lingered within me, refusing to leave. It was a mood of guilt and regret, of quick stupid decisions leading to wasted lifetimes, of loyalty turned into betrayal. Yet at the same time there was an element of furtive nostalgia, for bad times that shouldn’t be missed, but were.

The Godfather trilogy told the story of one family. The fact that they were mobsters was incidental to the story. In GoodFellas, on the other hand, the mafia was the story. It was an ugly story, with little to redeem the characters. But most of us understood the attraction of the lifestyle and harbor a secret admiration for the “wise guys.”

It’s a guilty pleasure that all gangster pictures have offered for decades, which is why we keep going to the theater to experience it.

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Can Conservatives & Libertarians Unify? A Review of The Conservatarian Manifesto

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

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Both conservatism and libertarianism carry a certain reputation for adherence to core principles, and while both philosophies share a few common ideals, there are certain sticking points — like immigration, the war on drugs, and abortion– that tend to separate the two philosophies. Conventional wisdom holds that conservatism and libertarianism sit in different areas on the right side of the spectrum, and never the twain shall meet.

But is such generalization really the case? There appears to be a growing movement among the right of people who find themselves somewhere between conservatism and libertarianism. Over the last couple of years I’ve found myself falling somewhere in between the two distinct philosophies. That’s why I became excited when I heard about The Conservatarian Manifesto.

National Review‘s Charles C. W. Cooke has created a unique document that seeks “to remind the American Right that ours is an iconoclastic movement.” He reaches out to the people who find themselves firmly on the right but don’t feel like they firmly identify as conservative or libertarian.

Some among this group have become sufficiently frustrated with their brothers-in-arms to have established new and discrete groups, even abandoning or amending the “conservative” and “libertarian” labels traditionally used to describe the two strongest building blocks of the Right’s coalition. These are the “conservatarians” referred to in the title of this book, and they have an important to make.

Boy, do they (or should I say, “we”), and with Cooke as spokesman, the conservatarian movement may help unify the right.

Cooke begins his journey by picking apart both the positive aspects and negative assumptions of the conservative and libertarian movements. He also looks at what he sees wrong with the conservative movement, examining in particular the big-government conservatism that existed under George W. Bush.

During the Bush administration’s turbulent eight years, the Republican Party steadily ruined its reputation, damaging the public conception of conservatism in the process… Most of all, the Republican Party lost its reputation for fiscal restraint, constitutional propriety, and mastery of foreign affairs.

The author concludes his chapter on the problems that exist on the Right by noting that “Republicans must reestablish themselves as the party of liberty, demonstrating to a skeptical but interested electorate that they are committed to laissez-faire.” Interestingly enough, Cooke does not advocate a wholesale adherence to libertarian ideology, but he does acknowledge that conservatism and libertarianism can, and should, coexist.

One of the key tenets that conservatarianism must adopt, according to Cooke, is a devotion to federalism. He writes that the right should advocate that “as few decisions as possible are made from Washington, D.C.” and that lovers of freedom should “render the American framework of government as free as possible and…decentralize power.”

Cooke then takes a look at institutions like the media and the educational system. The right has done well to establish some alternatives to the traditional, left-leaning media outlets, but conservatives and libertarians alike have their work cut out for them when it comes to reforming the educational system. He then steals a glimpse into the importance of the Constitution to the right and why that attachment remains crucial to a nation that values freedom.

After his march through America’s institutions, Cooke tackles specific political issues and delves into what a conservatarian position could or should be on many of them. He starts with gun control, citing stats that prove the inefficacy of gun-control attempts, as well as information that demonstrates the growing popularity of the protection of gun rights. Cooke then points out why it is important for the right to nevertheless acknowledge that guns can be dangerous, no matter how free our society is.

Next, Cooke contrasts the success of the pro-gun movement with what he calls the failures of the war on drugs. Citing incarceration statistics, he points out how he believes that federal efforts to deter drug use are not working. But he notes that

…this is not to say that conservatives should be “pro-drug.” Indeed, the beauty of opposing federal involvement is that it affords us a free hand elsewhere. Conservatives can quite happily agitate for federal withdrawal and continue to argue against the wisdom of using drugs and leave the legal questions to the states and localities.

At this point, Cooke offers a few suggestions like leaving drug enforcement to the states and relying on churches and non-profits as well as supporting the demilitarization of the police.

Cooke then goes on to tackle a host of other issues. He makes one of the most eloquent and sensible arguments for the pro-life cause that I’ve heard and dismantles the follies of the advocates of abortion on demand. He delves into what he sees as the inevitability of same-sex marriage, preparing the right to get used to it, while at the same time advocating for the protection of those who do not agree with it.

Looking at foreign policy, Cooke acknowledges the fatigue that many Americans have toward the interventionist tack that the country seems to have undertaken, but he doesn’t necessarily call for a neutralist or isolationist stance. Instead, he argues for a continued strong defense because of the United States’ lone superpower status. Cooke notes that American primacy lends stability to much of the world order, but he notes that “[it] is entirely feasible for America to lead without needing to rush to the scene of every fire in every corner of the world.” He likens the hegemony of the United States to an insurance policy against problems in many areas of the globe.

Lastly, Cooke argues against the demography-is-destiny mindset that seems to plague both parties these days. He advocates for an immigration policy that is fair and does not become a welfare program.

Cooke sees the future as a golden opportunity for freedom-loving people on the right end of the political spectrum. His conclusion is for conservatives and libertarians to band together to ensure that freedom is a positive message that appeals to everyone. Some of the ideas in The Conservatarian Manifesto won’t appeal to everyone — I certainly had issues with a couple of the solutions in the book — but the book does put forth some encouraging strategies for what could be a united right, one we sorely need if we’re going to win in 2016 and beyond.

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