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The Coronavirus as Left-Wing Theatre

I need you to stick with me on this one. I promise it will be worth your time.

We are now in the age of the coronavirus and we shall soon see the mettle of our country based on our response to this pandemic.  I have no doubt that a play will be written about it soon and it will either be a “Trump didn’t do enough and people died and he has blood on his hands” play, which will have a limited shelf life but will be all the rage for a good month or two; or a heart-rendering, mind-numbing tragedy about all the truly good people who lost their battle with COVID-19 and the one survivor who must live on in a world that’s done him or her wrong.  Both will be terrible plays but will be considered “deep” and “thought-provoking,” no doubt spawning a musical by Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt (the perpetrators of next to normal and If/Then).  If the pandemic doesn’t doom us, the dramatic response to it will.

Entertainment in the Time of Pestilence

About two weeks ago (as you read this column), just as the coronavirus lockdown was beginning, I decided I needed a break from anything too contemporary, and to watch something “historical” for entertainment. I picked re-watching World Without End, the mini-series based on the novel by Kenneth Follett.

I wound up laughing at myself. It had been almost ten years since I had read the novel, and seven or eight since I watched the series. I had forgotten that a large part of the story deals with how the principal characters dealt with the Bubonic Plague of the mid 1300s.

Books To Give For Christmas: Battle Cry By Leon Uris, the Most Accurate Novel About the Marines Ever Written

If you happen to take my advice and give this book to someone, be careful to whom you give it; there may be unintended consequences.  All three of our children loved the book, especially knowing how much it tracked the WWII experiences of their “Grandpa Barrow,” who like Uris, served in the 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division.   For all three, it was part of the inspiration to join the JROTC program in high school.  For our oldest, that didn’t lead to the Marine Corps, but it did lead to West Point, deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Bronze Star – and that was a daughter.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: The Mayflower Compact Goes West

In his National Review piece Kyle Smith notes that this movie is most famous for its cynicism of the press, and the puncturing of Old West mythology; its most famous line being “This is the West, Sir.  When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” In this view, the film was pioneer postmodern.  There should not be an abundance of joy in the destruction of myth. As Jordan Peterson often reminds us, shared mythology is part of the cultural cement that holds us together, just as the Arthurian legends instructed actual knights on the meaning of chivalry.

Dark Psychic Forces? Maybe. But No Wars of the Roses Yet.

Marianne Williamson, who is one of twenty-something Democrats running for the party’s presidential nomination, and who has absolutely no chance of being nominated, recently made a few waves when she spoke of “dark psychic forces” emanating from Donald Trump.

Regardless of the accuracy of Williamson’s admittedly bizarre accusation, it does seem that the country is going through a rather contentious period. Yet history teaches us that it can be much worse, and that nations seem to go through periods in which Dark Psychic Forces (capital letters mine) seem to be in play.

I have written more than once about the HBO Series “Game of Thrones” and the analogies that can be drawn from the events in the story. The series has concluded, so we won’t (at least until the prequel is released) be getting any more analogies drawn from GOT for a while.

But fear not. If “Game of Thrones” is not available, then what about its historical inspiration, the Wars of the Roses in 15th Century England? For those interested, there are options for late-summer viewing and reading readily available. The Starz Network has release three mini-series based on the novels of Phillipa Gregory: “The White Queen”, “The White Princess”, and “The Spanish Princess”. Conn Iggulden has given us a four volume retelling of the Wars of the Roses, beginning with “Stormbird” and ending with “Ravenspur: the Rise of the Tudors.” These novels and films give us a painless way to absorb some history and ponder its relevance to our own times.

Theatre Review: The Mueller Report-Based ‘The Investigation: A Search for Truth’

The Church Report

Well, it didn’t take long! Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report was made public on April 18, 2019 and by June 24, 2019 we had a “play” about it! Eighteen notable actors—including John Lithgow, Annette Bening, and Kevin Kline—took the stage at the Riverside Church in Manhattan, and offered an hour-long reading of the Mueller report, entitled The Investigation: A Search for Truth, a title that forces one to sing “Dah-dah-daaahhh” after saying it.

Obviously, it would take way more than an hour to read the 400+ pages of the Mueller report. However, playwright Robert Schankken efficiently cut out most of the report—including the large portion that found no collusion committed by President Donald Trump or anyone on his campaign staff—focusing instead on the obstruction of justice section, which Mueller apparently was unsure about.  Schankken himself is a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, whose most recent piece before The Investigation(Dah-dah-daaahhh!) was Building the Wall, a May 2017 play about “life in the Donald Trump era.”  I’ve yet to figure out how a President can define an “era” just five months into his administration.

Remember This About D-Day: It Could Have Failed…

D-Day: 6 June 1944…. When we look back upon the mighty armada the allies threw ashore on that day, it is tempting to believe overwhelming victory was inevitable. Not so. In a series of small matters God smiled upon the endeavor.

Memorial Day Memories and Small Town Virtues

Memorial Day in the sleepy little Massachusetts town where I grew up was a big deal (not so much here in Florida or elsewhere in the south, since its origin was a commemoration of  Union dead).  Next to Christmas it was also my favorite holiday, despite the somber ceremonies.  It marked the beginning of summer – cook-outs, the filling of swimming pools, flowers in full bloom, and fresh clean air.  Not long before school’s out!

Exploring LeftTube, Part 2: BadMouse Productions

Why I like Extremists

In his brilliant column on the future of sex robots (trust me, it’s really good), Ross Douthat opens with a line that I think is often true: “Sometimes the extremists and the radicals and the weirdos see the world more clearly than the respectable and moderate and sane.” I say this in light of today’s leftist YouTuber, BadMouse Productions, the most radical YouTuber I’ll be covering on a series on the rise of the YouTube Left (otherwise known as “LeftTube”).

Compared to other leftist YouTubers, BadMouse may not have the most views or subscribers, but what marks him out from his comrades is just how much he embraces his leftism. He’s no champagne-sipping socialist. More like a, East Germany wasn’t so bad, maybe we should rethink Stalin’s legacy, it’s not so bad if protestors attack cops, blood of the bourgeoisie sipping socialist!

John Wilkes & The Colorful, Criminal & Bawdy Origins of our 4th Amendment

Part 2 In an Ongoing Series on the Revolutionary War

John Wilkes, the bad boy of 18th century British politics — hated by King George III and beloved by the American colonists —  wasn’t the only inspiration for our Fourth Amendment prohibition against the government using general warrants to search for evidence and to arrest for a crime. But his story was by far the most colorful.

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