Sunday, September 30, 2012

Poll Dancing In The Street

Currier and Ives interpret the Boston Tea Party
As a right-center thinker, OTR knows scores of people who call themselves "Republican."  He also knows many of them are unhappy at the party's willingness to nominate establishment members for national office on the basis of who is next in line rather than who can win.  We can expect the party base to change significantly over the next four years. And why shouldn't it?  We have after all witnessed a leftist fringe takeover of the Democratic party so dramatic that it would repulse Harry Truman and leave John Kennedy shaken and confused.  There is plenty of comment in the blogosphere about this changing political landscape.  One of the best sources of comment and analysis is Rasmussen Reports.

Some pundit junkies view Rasmussen Reports as little more than a shill for the right. Others view the organization as a reliable polling site mainly due to its more selective and current population samples as well as its track record. No matter your politics, Scott Rasmussen has some very interesting observations on what the 2012 elections hold for the Republican party, regardless of who wins the presidential election.  We can thank William Katz (Urgent Agenda) for spotting these observations and providing his ever meaningful comments on the issue.

OTR would like to draw the attention of readers to William Katz and his observations of the American experience. As a novelist, staffer on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, comedy writer for Bob Newhart, a NYT Magazine editor, a CIA officer, and more, he brings what OTR calls a Tralfamadorian perception to the art of cultural observation.  Readers should also know that Katz is an occasional contributor at PowerLine, another premiere site for critical observers and readers alike.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Stomach Remembers

George IV Coronation Banquet, 1821                                         Artist unknown
Richard Fernandez blogs history and current events at Belmont Club as a member of the PJMedia family. His latest post examines the concept of fame, both fleeting and forever. It is a post OTR thinks readers will enjoy.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Andy Williams: Crossing In Style

Williams, one of the nation's most popular singers of the 20th century has passed away.

Earlier this year, he marked his 75th year in entertainment. He spent nearly a decade on television hosting The Andy Williams Show beginning in 1962. He also hosted countless specials well into the 1990s, the most notably being the Christmas shows. OTR recalls those Christmas specials as top notch entertainment.  His many Christmas albums are timeless and likely to be enjoyed for decades to come.

Obama Channels Ethelred

Ethelred the Unready, King of England, 978-1016

Almost fifty years ago, Professor Gordon, English through and through, made OTR's study of the History of England most enjoyable. One of the professor's favorite references throughout the year was Ethelred the Unready.   Ethelred was more "ready" than his name implied; however, we do remember him today for his decade-long payment of tribute - protection money - to the King of Denmark. Eventually the payment wasn't enough to keep the Danes from invading England and forcing Ethelred to flee across the English Channel to safety in Normandy. There's more to this history, but more significant for us these days is the parallel between Ethelred's protection money and Obama's appeasement to the insanity of Islamic jihad. Those in the know should have their money on jihad. Victor Davis Hanson - classicist, war historian, and date farmer - has a fine analysis of the foreign policy disaster that has unfolded over the last four years.  

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Hobbit At 75

The 1937 cover

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of  The Hobbit. For all the Tolkien fans out there, Corey Olsen writes about the event and the evolution of its main character, Bilbo Baggins, in his fine post at The Daily Beast. Olsen includes seven illustrations Tolkien drew for the book, one of them being the dust jacket. The man was not only a superb writer, but also an accomplished artist.

OTR first read The Hobbit when he was in high school. It was an instant favorite, and Olsen's post is a reminder that it's time to enjoy Tolkien's fantasy again.

N.B.  Corey Olsen is the author of a new book, Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Man Nicknamed "The Velvet Fog"

Scott Johnson, our kindred spirit when it comes to music history, has posted a belated tribute to Mel Torme, a singer he rightfully describes as "one of the great all-time American artists, too little known and vastly underappreciated." Many readers may not know the artist, but they would certainly recognize one of his most famous compositions, The Christmas Song, from its opening line, "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...."

Torme left us a little more than a decade ago and his passing was the event that compelled OTR to listen more carefully to his music. Johnson writes a fine tribute and includes three remarkable videos of Torme and friends delivering some fine entertainment. Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Will The Obama Administration Stop Its Blockbuster "Kill Bin Laden" Movie To Stem The Raging Muslim Madness?

The Obama administration still believes a hilariously bad amateur anti-Muslim video lies at the root of the recent Islamist madness. That raises the question of what Obama's deep thinkers intend to do about the upcoming release of Zero Dark Thirty, Hollywood's multimillion dollar feature film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Will they pressure Sony to keep this film in the can?  Unlike the amateur production, the administration's fingerprints are all over ZDT, regardless of any unprecedented access to classified information and Defense or CIA personnel.

The film is scheduled for a December 19, 2012 release. Stay tuned. After the Batman premiere massacre in Colorado, we can only imagine the security necessary to insure the safety of ZBT viewers.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Notes On Antietam At 150 And The Reenactors Who Keep The History Alive

Battle of Antietam in 2012                                                     Photo: Joe Crocetta

National Review Online has two items of interest to those who appreciate history. The first is an analysis of the Battle of Antietam, fought on this day 150 years ago. It was a costly draw on the battlefield - 25,000 casualties - that defined the course of the Civil War and set the stage for a Northern victory and an end slavery, the peculiar institution. Antietam is very close to OTR's heart and soul. An early visit there - he was at most six years old - likely helped shape his career .

The second post is a review of Man of War: My Adventures in the World of Historical Reenactment, by Charlie Schroeder. Historical reenactment has a huge following here and abroad. In fact, the reenactment of battles from the American Civil War is extremely popular in Europe, especially in Germany.

Reenactors, even apart from their pursuit, are rather fascinating, and OTR worked with a variety of them throughout his career. Some practiced with the highest regard for honesty and accuracy. Others bordered on the netherworlds of sanity. And then there were the Indian pretenders who had to settle for membership in the Wannabee tribe. For the most part, they added a very useful, active dimension to the study of the past, a subject that suffers greatly from academic desiccation.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Another Dunkirk

In 1940, Allied forces in France found themselves forced into a narrow corridor with their backs to the English Channel. German forces were prepared to annihilate them but suddenly halted their advance for three days. It was a huge blunder that allowed almost 350,000 British and French troops to evacuate the Calais coast and fight another day. The fight to hold the Allied perimeter and evacuate the troops is known as the Battle of Dunkirk.

Today, there is another Battle of Dunkirk, but this one is in Ohio. The once-prosperous town is typical of towns across flyover country in the United States. These heartland habitats often determine their own destiny and, in their fierce independence, they will most certainly determine the outcome of the upcoming presidential election. The Telegraph brings an interesting British perspective to the present-day Dunkirk story in this article and its internal links to video interviews and other commentary.

OTR finds these articles give us a refreshing and more objective perspective on American culture than we can ever find in our homegrown journalism.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Death, Taxes, And Jihad

Battle of Vienna                                                         Franz Geffels (fl, 1635-1671)

It's interesting that, on September 11-12, 1683, the army of the Holy Roman Empire and the commonwealth of Poland-Lithuania defeated the Army of the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Vienna, in present-day Austria. Read more about this battle that many historians believe affirmed the survival of western Europe and its Judeo-Christian civilization from destruction by Islamic jihad.

Readers may also be interested in the Siege of Vienna, an attempt by Suleiman the Magnificent to take the city in 1529.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Black Swan Events, Or: Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition

The Black Swan                                                        Photo: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos
Powerline's superb blogger, Steven Hayward, raised the prospect that events in Chicago, Libya and Egypt could very well be a "black swan event" for Barack Obama. The term was new to OTR, and, based on some quick research, he found it most interesting and worthy of sharing with his readers. Regardless of political persuasions or other attitudes, opinions, or beliefs, you can learn more about this two thousand year-old concept here, here and here.  OTR guarantees it's a whole lot more than your expected. Enjoy.

Arab Spring Gives Way To The Long, Hot Summer

Ambassador Chris Stevens was murdered yesterday by Islamic fanatics. Three months ago he was in the forefront of efforts to free Libyans of the dictatorship of Muammar Qadhafi 

The idea of cultivating Arab self-determination without strong guidance from the West has produced diseased fruit. Victor Davis Hanson provides readers with all the information they need about current events in Libya and Egypt and perspectives on the future of the Middle East under Obama's foreign policy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Liberty Enlightening The World

Friday, September 7, 2012

Never Underestimate An Aging Actor

Clint Eastwood knew exactly what he was doing when he delivered his rambling, ragged speech at the Republican National Convention last week. Today, he talked about it. One could say the mission was accomplished as we are likely to hear more about his performance up to and long after the election.