A Favorite Memory Shared On A Winter’s Day

I ran into a fella that reminded me of the following story, which has been posted elsewhere. I do like the story, so here it is again, from my memory to yours, with some cognition in between if we are so blessed.

SUMMER 2016
Drove today from North Dakota to Billings MT, through rain and shine. Wide, open , beautiful country with scant signs of people.... [Read More]

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Martyn Lloyd-Jones interviewed by Joan Bakewell of the BBC

Here’s an interesting interview with a prominent British preacher (who was an MD before he became a minister).  Joan Bakewell said that ministers would come on her program and assure here that she was a Christian when she knew she was not.  MLJ was the one person who leveled with her.

... [Read More]

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The Sock Puppet asked for a music post

This is all I could find today.  This is what you get when you allow the airline gorillas to handle a very expensive 17th-century viola da gamba (a precursor of the cello).  The musician was told that her flight was full so she could not buy an extra seat for the $200K instrument.  She reluctantly handed it over to go as checked luggage.  I assume it was insured, but this had to be devastating for her.

... [Read More]

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TOTD 2018/01/09: Chicken Pot Pie for dinner tonight!

I just love a good chicken pot pie. I used to make them pretty regularly when my kids were little. For a long time I made them with pie crusts, which is the normal way most people make them. At first I bought the pie crusts, but after some time I taught myself how to make them from scratch. They are not hard to make at all, and are much better than the store bought crusts. Cheaper too, which matters when you’re raising three kids and don’t have a lot of extra cash lying around.

One day I came across a different recipe, and my world has never been the same. Instead of pie crusts, this recipe called for biscuits on top. Oh my. Sooo gooood.... [Read More]

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Book Review: The Red Cliffs of Zerhoun

“The Red Cliffs of Zerhoun” by Matthew BrackenWe first met Dan Kilmer in Castigo Cay, where the retired U.S. Marine sniper (I tread cautiously on the terminology: some members of the Corps say there’s no such thing as a “former Marine” and, perhaps, neither is there a “former sniper”) had to rescue his girlfriend from villains in the Caribbean. The novel is set in a world where the U.S. is deteriorating into chaos and the malevolent forces suppressed by civilisation have begun to assert their power on the high seas.

As this novel begins, things have progressed, and not for the better. The United States has fractured into warring provinces as described in the author’s “Enemies” trilogy. Japan and China are in wreckage after the global economic crash. Much of Europe is embroiled in civil wars between the indigenous population and inbred medieval barbarian invaders imported by well-meaning politicians or allowed to land upon their shores or surge across their borders by the millions. The reaction to this varies widely depending upon the culture and history of the countries invaded. Only those wise enough to have said “no” in time have been spared.... [Read More]

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Fleeting (I Hope) Thoughts and Feelings

To paraphrase an old TV ad,”when John Walker writes, people read…” And thus, I am 90% through reading “The Berlin Project,” John’s best book of 2017 among those he reviewed. Knowing a bit of John’s interests, the book was, I think, a likely shoe-in, given the prevalence of nuclear physics in the story; as well the characters, a who’s who of mid 20th century physicists, including the inspirational Enrico Fermi, founder of Fermilab. It is no surprise, then, that the book is “fourmidable” (so to speak) in the review on John’s site. This proffered new superlative is a mere shadow in the emanations from fourmilab.ch, itself maybe a hybrid of a rebus and a clever (no surprise here) playful aptronym based in humility. However categorized linguistically, fourmilab is a neologism with several sous-sols of meaning. It is, thus, fully deserving of its own adjectives, so I dare to announce this new one.

On a more serious note, I find myself almost forced to write at this moment in an attempt to diffuse some intensely painful emotions brought up as I near reading the end of the “The Berlin Project.” Without spoilers as to plot, I can say the protagonist visits Europe in the mid- 1960’s with his family and reflects back on the epochal struggle in which he was involved. Throughout the book, and speaking through numerous characters, the author adumbrates the spiritually jejune plight of modern secular man.... [Read More]

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Molly’s Game: Especially Interesting if You are a Poker Player.

Molly’s Game (2017) is based on the memoir by Molly Bloom (2014). It is the true story, from her point of view. Principally photographed in Toronto, Canada, it is written and directed by Aaron Sorkin (56). He is an award-winning writer, of such things as A Few Good Men and The West Wing, and this is his directorial debut. It would appear that working with good directors has taught him a lot, as his direction of this film is competent and professional. I found his fast conversations as people were moving around, a little hard to follow at times. Perhaps if I knew more about Poker and the running of a Game, I would have found it easier.

Jessica Chastain (40) plays Molly Bloom with conviction. I wonder if the real Molly is always as serious as she is depicted. This is the story of a driven woman, highly intelligent and beautiful, but with no apparent sense of humour. She is an excellent business woman, in what could probably be called more of a man’s world. She even gets lightly beaten up by the Russian Mob, and survives. The FBI were almost too much for her, but she managed to get out of their clutches with much less damage than might have been expected. There doesn’t seem to be a lighter side to her character. This means that there is not a lighter side to the film.... [Read More]

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At Home with Monsters

At Home with Monsters by Guillermo del Toro, showing presently at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), is an incredible exhibition. A collection of pieces from Bleak House, del Toro’s home outside Los Angeles, this is the personal collection of a creative mind that sees monsters as the darker side of each one of us. He believes that we have to recognize and face this side of our inner world so that we can make peace with it.... [Read More]

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Books of the Year: 2017

Gnome carrying pile of booksHere are my picks for the best books of 2017, fiction and nonfiction. These aren’t the best books published this year, but rather the best I’ve read in the last twelvemonth. The winner in both categories is barely distinguished from the pack, and the runners up are all worthy of reading. Runners up appear in alphabetical order by their author’s surname. Each title is linked to my review of the book.

Fiction:... [Read More]

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Book Review: The Hidden Truth

“The Hidden Truth” by Hans G. SchantzThis is a masterpiece of alternative history techno-thriller science fiction. It is rich in detail, full of interesting characters who interact and develop as the story unfolds, sound in the technical details which intersect with our world, insightful about science, technology, economics, government and the agenda of the “progressive” movement, and plausible in its presentation of the vast, ruthless, and shadowy conspiracy which lies under the surface of its world. And, above all, it is charming—these are characters you’d like to meet, even some of the villains because you want understand what motivates them.

The protagonist and narrator is a high school junior (senior later in the tale), son of an electrical engineer who owns his own electrical contracting business, married to a chemist, daughter of one of the most wealthy and influential families in their region of Tennessee, against the wishes of her parents. (We never learn the narrator’s name until the last page of the novel, so I suppose it would be a spoiler if I mentioned it here, so I won’t, even if it makes this review somewhat awkward.) Our young narrator wants to become a scientist, and his father not only encourages him in his pursuit, but guides him toward learning on his own by reading the original works of great scientists who actually made fundamental discoveries rather than “suffering through the cleaned-up and dumbed-down version you get from your teachers and textbooks.” His world is not ours: Al Gore, who won the 2000 U.S. presidential election, was killed in the 2001-09-11 attacks on the White House and Capitol, and President Lieberman pushed through the “Preserving our Planet’s Future Act”, popularly known as the “Gore Tax”, in his memory, and its tax on carbon emissions is predictably shackling the economy.... [Read More]

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Book Review: Order to Kill

“Order to Kill” by Kyle MillsThis is the second novel in the Mitch Rapp saga written by Kyle Mills, who took over the franchise after the death of Vince Flynn, its creator. In the first novel by Mills, The Survivor, he picked up the story of the last Vince Flynn installment, The Last Manright where it left off and seemed to effortlessly assume the voice of Vince Flynn and his sense for the character of Mitch Rapp. This was a most promising beginning, which augured well for further Mitch Rapp adventures.

In this, the fifteenth novel in the Mitch Rapp series (Flynn’s first novel, Term Limits, is set in the same world and shares characters with the Mitch Rapp series, but Rapp does not appear in it, so it isn’t considered a Rapp novel), Mills steps out of the shadow of Vince Flynn’s legacy and takes Rapp and the story line into new territory. The result is…mixed.... [Read More]

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TOTD 2017-12-29: Marching with Raised Fists

A year or two after emigrating, she happened to be in Paris on the anniversary of the Russian invasion of her country (Czechoslovakia).  A protest march had been scheduled, and she felt driven to take part.  Fists raised high, the young Frenchmen shouted out slogans condemning  Soviet imperialism. She liked the slogans, but to her surprise she  found herself unable to shout along with them. She lasted only a few minutes in the parade.

When she told her French friends about it, they were amazed. “You mean you don’t want to fight the occupation of your country?”  She would have liked to tell them that behind Communism, Fascism, behind all occupations and invasions lurks a more basic, pervasive evil and that the image of that evil was a parade of people marching with raised fists and shouting identical syllables in unison. But she knew she would never be able to make them understand. Embarrassed, she changed the subject.... [Read More]

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Did you think “Dunkirk” is Art?

Dunkirk (2017) is written, co-produced and directed by Christopher Nolan. It is a highly professional production in every way.  The music, by Hans Zimmer, is amazing, and heightens the tension throughout the film. He uses the auditory illusion of a Shepard tone to great effect: brilliant and beautiful! This film is the creation of its director, and is Art! No doubt it will appear in the Oscars. It won’t be surprising if it wins the Best Picture award.

Taken as a fictional recreation of the evacuation of the British Army from the beaches of Dunkirk, in France, from May 26 to June 4, 1940, Dunkirk allows us to imagine how it must have been for the people involved. We experience it from the beach at Dunkirk, on the sea in the large ships and little ships, and in the air from the cockpit of a Spitfire. We feel the tension: the boredom of waiting; the terror of being bombed; the dangers on the sea and in the air. We see how ordinary people were affected by the events. As an imagined sliver of time in that place, this is an amazing film. It does have the feeling of being a documentary. The direction could perhaps have been tightened up at times as it even felt a little boring. On the other hand, as has been said, war has its times of boredom. Without the music to convey tension, would Dunkirk have seemed a little dull?... [Read More]

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