Friday, December 11, 2015

The Rights Stuff

Thank Optimus Prime It's Friday!

"Never put your trust in a 'crossover' vehicle, humans. Never!"

They Made a List, They Checked It Twice

I have been very fortunate in my life, and so there is very little in the way of material things that I need or want that I don't already possess.

That being the case, what do I hope Santa brings me for Christmas? Simple: A greater knowledge of
and respect for our Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, by everyone living in this great country of ours.

You see, I'm tired of callow students on college campuses across this land arguing that the 1st Amendment must take a back seat to their feelings.

I'm tired of agencies of my government insisting that the 1st Amendment's protection of religious practice is subject to the whims of petty bureaucrats.

I am tired of being told that the 2nd Amendment's guarantee of a right to bear arms is a "mistake" that needs to be corrected.

I am tired of seeing politicians in both political parties act as if they had never heard of the 4th Amendment.

I am tired of hearing that 5th Amendment guarantees of due process can be ignored
if your name turns up on a secret government list.

This list could go on for awhile, but that might injure my Christmas Spirit, so we'll leave it at this: Santa, I want the republic our Founding Fathers designed for us. I want the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to reclaim their rightful place in our national life, rather than being relegated to mere inconveniences to be discarded when the President, or his agencies, or Congress, or un-elected judges, or candidates running for office, or anyone else, thinks that their political ends justify it.

You don't have to bother to wrap it, Santa...

"He can leave it under your Christmas tree...oh, wait."

We've had this conversation...putting up a tree isn't something I need to do anymore...

Christmas Movies and TV Shows

Original 2007 "one sheet" poster
While it is not a "Christmas" movie, strictly speaking, the most important parts of the 2007 film The Ultimate Gift take place at Christmastime, and so I feel comfortable in including it on my list of favorite Christmas films.

The film is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Jim Stovall. Produced on a modest budget, it was not well-promoted by 20th Century Fox, and so it quickly disappeared from theaters. It became a considerable success on DVD not long afterward, and continues to sell well in that format even today.

It was actually something of an accident that I even found the film in the first place. I was looking for something else, but when I saw that this movie featured two of my favorite actors, James Garner and Brian Dennehy I decided to give it a try.

As it turned out, the whole cast is splendid. The story, while a bit contrived perhaps,
has a good narrative flow, and after awhile the message begins to sink in and you stop worrying about such things.

The film has a number of memorable scenes, and appeals to the sentimental side of me in a big way. My favorites take place on a ranch in Texas, where a belated Christmas celebration is held...

"When Emily...tells Jason...what she really wants for Christmas..."

I know, old friend, I too...


From the indispensable comic strip Non Sequitur, by Wiley Miller, which you should read every day, as I do (even though Wiley is a squishy liberal).

Until Next Time...

One of the oldest Christmas carols in the English tradition is "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen," which we can trace back as far as the 16th century. Over the centuries both the music and lyrics have been tinkered with by countless hands, with the result that there are probably more variants of this carol than there are stars in the sky. The 19th century substitution of "Ye" for the original "You" is one of the more popular
(if ahistorical) changes, and most of the versions you've heard in your life probably incorporate it. When Charles Dickens refers to the song in his famous story A Christmas Carol, though, he uses "You."

I happen to live just across the Missouri River from the birthplace of a Christmas music phenomenon, Mannheim Steamroller. Songwriter Chip Davis was making a nice living in Omaha in the early 1970s writing commercial jingles and country & western songs, but wanted to explore a fusion of modern musical styles with more classical techniques. After founding his own record label and coming up with "Mannheim Steamroller" as the name of his "group," Davis enjoyed some success beginning in 1975 with a series of instrumental albums celebrating each of the four seasons (the Fresh Aire series).

But it was in 1984 that Davis's creation exploded into the popular culture, with the release of Mannheim Steamroller Christmas. The album was a hit, making the Top 50 on the Billboard 200 albums chart (highly unusual for instrumental music of any kind), and eventually earning six platinum certifications. It is one of the best-selling Christmas albums of all time, and led to subsequent highly successful Christmas releases. Mannheim Steamroller has been a beloved Christmas tradition for more than three decades now.

Today's send-off is the rendition of the "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" from that landmark 1984 album. Enjoy...

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