A Voice in the Wilderness In Defense of "Mere Conservatism"

12Jul/12Off

Matt Damon and Jodie Foster: Speaking Truth to Each Other

By: R.J. Moeller

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Alright, so here's the description of the new Matt Damon movie Elysium:

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"Plot: In the year 2159, two classes of people exist: the very wealthy who live on a pristine man-made space station, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. Secretary Rhodes (Jodie Foster), a hard line government official will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium. That doesn't stop the people of Earth from trying to get in, by any means they can. When unlucky Max (Damon) is backed into a corner, he agrees to take on a daunting mission that if successful will not only save his life, but could bring equality to these polarized worlds.

The new movie is set to hit theaters on March 1st, 2013."

First off, why do liberal actors (we just say "actors") LOVE playing "hard-line" caricatures of conservatives so much?  Jodie Foster is the Sarah Palin of space who hates people because of their skin color and social class. Is that really deemed creative at this point?

Second, why not EVER make a movie about how crappy the countries that immigrants come from are? Why not produce a film that chronicles the wretched decisions leaders in other countries make that leave their nations uninhabitable?  How did all of these nations become such basket-cases?  Don't tell me: America exploited them and forced McDonald's and KFC on their unsuspecting, noble population!

So on one hand the United States is a pretty amazing place that people want to swim through shark-infested waters to get to (something never clearly stated in movies like this, which might be part of the reason why many Americans feel Hollywood is "unpatriotic").  Then on the other hand we're apparently nothing but a bunch of xenophobes who will stop at nothing to keep people out.

Of course then there is always the rogue cop or soldier who "actually has a conscience" and disobeys the orders from on-high and realizes that he's been a bleeding-heart liberal all along. (Insert some line to the effect of, "I didn't change...the country changed, brother.")

Lastly, Hollywood will go to insane lengths to try and portray serial killers, Marxist revolutionaries, or even pedophiles as having boat-loads of human dignity and grace that we just don't understand...but then can't wait to show how soul-less those gun-toting, Bible-clinging knob-jobs in fly-over country are.

Cool priorities, Tinsel Town!


19Feb/12Off

Portlandia on Weddings

It's so rare to find legitimately funny content on television these days that pokes fun at progressivism and the liberal-dominated counter-culture.  Funny is funny, and comedy should always follow the "joke", not simply an ideological agenda.  As a religious conservative who likes to laugh, it is a breath of fresh air to come across any morsel of bi-partisan humor in popular culture.

I'm not asking for much: just don't bash my worldview at every turn.

Portlandia on IFC (Independent Film Channel) is a really funny show that you can basically watch for free on YouTube and actually skewers the patently absurd lifestyles of many people in cities like Portland and Seattle.  Here's a great example:

I would just about guarantee that the creators/writers/producers/stars of this show are to the Left politically, but it doesn't matter.  I will watch and support a show if it is funny, and especially if it is brave enough to poke fun at the obvious.

The Left can continue to make documentaries and spoofs of religious Americans who live in the suburbs and work hard to provide for their kids.  But if we on the Right want to see any real shift in the culture, we need to be thinking on a big-picture level when it comes to entertainment.  We need people who share our worldview working in Hollywood, and then we need to support them.

Until that day, which I pray is soon, enjoy Portlandia.


1Feb/12Off

Some Good Music For Your Ears

Just to prove we don't only talk political/economic issues here at A Voice in the Wilderness, I wanted to quickly post a few videos of songs and bands that I currently enjoy listening to...while reading and writing about politics and economics. Keep in mind, this is purely a list of music that I like listening to right now.

First up is a little ditty from my good friend Andrew Belle.  He has a new record coming out this spring, but my current favorite A-Belle tune is this one "Sky's Still Blue":

I'm not just saying this because I eat Chipotle with this kid once a week (or more), but Andrew Belle is awesome. Listen to this song.  Buy his stuff on iTunes.

Next up is a band that I only found out about because of - free market conservatives, plug your ears - Public Broadcasting Service (channel WTTW here in Chicago) and their "Austin City Limits" program. The Heart and The Head is a Seattle-based group that sounds a lot like The Avett Brothers, and that means they sound fantastic. It's fun music.

The third song and band I wanted to share is "Better Life" by Paper Route. I actually have a friend in this band as well, but again, I would listen to this song even if Al Franken and Barney Frank had formed a super-group and constructed such a ballad.  Paper Route is a Nashville band and if you haven't heard of them yet, you probably will in 2012.

The final video I have for you comes from my boys, The Black Keys.  Their new album "El Camino" is out and makes me so very happy every time I listen to it.  The song "Gold On The Ceiling" is my favorite track and it will soon be yours.  If you like blues at all, you'll appreciate these guys.

I'd love to hear from others what contemporary music I should be aware of, so post a comment and clue me in.


4Jan/12Off

Ten Movies RJ’s Excited About in 2012

By: R.J. Moeller

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I love movies. I would say "Who doesn't?" but I actually know people who don't love seeing movies and their apathy makes me want to tie their shoelaces together when they're not looking so that they trip when attempting to walk away from the conversation about seeing movies I'm having with other, more interesting people.

The year 2012 is a big one, and not simply because the Mayans say so.  We have a presidential race that will heat up with each passing day.  I have to get my driver's license renewed, which is always a big event.  And a slew of interesting (and hopefully really good) movies are slated to be released.

I don't know about you, but I love to find out what flicks are on the docket in coming months and so for your convenience I've assembled what I consider to be the 10 most intriguing movies that will be released in the next year.  (They are in no particular order.)

1. Dark Knight Rises (July)  This is easily the most anticipated flick of the calendar year.  It's the third installment of The Dark Knight trilogy from director Christopher Nolan.  Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, the terrorist leader Bane arrives in Gotham City, pushing it and its police force to their limits, forcing its former hero Batman to resurface after taking the fall for Harvey Dent's crimes.

The trailer is outstanding, the cast stellar, and the chances that this one is bad are the same that the Chicago Cubs won't be wretched this season.  So rest assured, Batman fans!

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2. Prometheus (June 8)  From legendary director Ridley Scott (the man who provided me with three of my favorite films of all time: Blade Runner, Alien, Gladiator) comes his first sci-fi movie in over 30 years.  A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.  The trailer for this bad boy has got me excited.

Oh, and the creator of LOST (Damon Lindelof) co-wrote this as well.  Too many talented people involved for this one to stink.  I hope.

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3. Moonrise Kingdom (May 25)  Wes Anderson (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore) is back at it again with this new film set to come out in May and co-stars the likes of Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, and Tilda Swinton.

moonrise-kingdom-may-2012-release-dateThe only description I could find is as follows: "A pair of lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out and find them."  I suppose I'm hoping more than guessing that this one is good.  I loved Anderson's earlier work, but is in danger of becoming utterly irrelevant (at least to me) with another flop.

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4. Neighborhood Watch (July 27)  This comedy starring Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill is a complete toss-up in my mind.  "Suburban dads form a neighborhood watch group to get time away from their families, only to discover a plot to destroy Earth."

jonah-hill-ben-stiller-and-vince-vaughn-in-neighborhood-watch_480x335It could be the next classic comedy in the line of Old School, Wedding Crashers, Superbad, etc.  Or it could be pure rubbish.  Real hot garbage.  Either way, it's a summer comedy with three of the funnier dudes on the planet in it.

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5. Argo (September 14)  Ben Affleck's acting and directing talents could not be further apart.  He is terrible in front of the camera, but (so far) magic behind it.  I loved The Town and Gone, Baby, Gone and Argo sounds very promising.  The plot?  "As the Iranian revolution reaches a boiling point, a CIA 'exfiltration' specialist concocts a risky plan to free six Americans who have found shelter at the home of the Canadian ambassador."

Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) co-stars and the buzz around this film is all positive.

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6. Gangster Squad (October 19)  I am obsessed with gangster movies.  Especially old ones starring guys like Edward G. Robinson and James Cagney that you can only find on Turner Classic Movies Channel.  Gangster Squad is a chronicle of the LAPD's fight to keep East Coast Mafia types out of Los Angeles in the 1940s and 50s and I have a great feeling about this one.

Gangster-Squad-Movie-With-Emma-StoneIt stars Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin and Emma Stone.

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7. Skyfall (November 9)  Okay, so I'm giving the Bond franchise one last try before I turn my back forever on it.  Daniel Craig is a fine actor and action star, but they haven't nailed down a decent script in years.  There's a new director for this latest Bond effort (Sam Mendes) and hopefully a fresh pair of eyes will lead to a quality product.  There aren't any photos or clips from this film yet, but here's a (very generic) description from IMDB: "Bond's loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost."

And, if you happen to be interested, here is the press conference where the new cast and director were announced at this past November:

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8. World War Z (December 21)  Brad Pitt stars in a new zombie film next Christmas season.  It's what the holidays are all about!  The only description of this flick I could find, however brief, actually got me excited about the possibility of this movie being good.

"A UN representative, writing a report on the great zombie war, interviews survivors in the wake of World War Z."

World_War_Z_book_coverI also learned that the script for World War Z is based on a graphic novel of the same name.  If turns out anything like The Walking Dead on AMC, I'll be happy.

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9. Lincoln (December)   Our nation's greatest president.  Director Steven Spielberg.  Lincoln portrayed by the best actor of this generation, Daniel Day-Lewis.  Need I say more?

lincoln-daniel-day-lewis__111201074218The only fear I have is that uber-liberal Spielberg does to the Civil War what he did to the Arab-Israeli conflict in Munich: namely, play the moral equivalency game.

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10. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (December 14)  I've been waiting for this movie since I first read the Tolkien classic as a 6th grader.  The entire production team from the Lord of the Rings trilogy returns and there is absolutely no way this movie is anything short of a masterpiece.  Even if it's bad, I'll tell people I love it.  If you couldn't get in to the Lord of the Rings movies or books, The Hobbit is the key to unlocking a world of imagination and story-telling you never dreamed of.  Get yourself a copy of the book, and prepare for December 14th.

So that's it, folks. The 10 movies I'm most excited for in 2012. What do you think? What did I miss? What did I foolishly include?


6Nov/11Off

Will Ferrell Honored With Mark Twain Prize

Despite some recent poor choices in material, Will Ferrell remains one of the funniest people on the planet.  I remember watching him on Saturday Night Live back in junior high and high school and wondering why someone so talented was on such a regularly stupid show.  But Ferrell did leave and went on to play some of the most memorable characters of the past decade.  Saturday night Mr. Ferrell was honored by the Kennedy Center with the 14th Annual Mark Twain Prize.  It was a fun program and great chance to reflect on the impressive body of work this talented man has put together.

Watch Will Ferrell on PBS. See more from Mark Twain Prize.

I hope Will gets his hands on some funny material again soon.


15Oct/11Off

SNL: Comment Section Assassins

This is Saturday Night Live's humorous skewering of those trolls who conduct hit-and-run rhetorical warfare in the "Comments" sections of website all across the internet.  Pay close attention to the first guy they interview.  Very funny!


27Jun/11Off

Summer Movie Reviews over at NRO’s The Corner

National Review Online's "The Corner" blog is a constant source of information, insight, and pithy reflections on the passing scene.  Today NRO's Ben Shapiro has an interesting review of the big summer blockbusters already out, and yet-to-come.

pic_homie_slideshow_movie_00

It’s that time of year again: time for the summer movie, the blockbuster, the movie all your friends are seeing and talking about. Sure, you’ll waste a bunch of money on duds such as Star Wars: Episode I (damn you, George Lucas, and your yes men!), but there’s always a shot you’ll see Inception — something surprisingly smart, tremendously entertaining, and beautifully done.

In the spirit of hope, then, let’s take a look at twelve of the biggest blockbusters coming up (and that have already come out) this summer.

X-Men: First Class
Loved it. Yes, I know that it portrays the Soviets and the Americans as two sides of the same coin, and shows America’s placement of Jupiter missiles in Turkey as a provocative cause of the Cuban missile crisis. Yes, I understand that the villain of the piece, Sebastian Shaw, utters lines such as “If you’re not with us, then by definition, you are against us.” Yes, I realize that American soldiers and the CIA are portrayed as sexist bullies intent on destroying anything that doesn’t fit their cookie-cutter worldview. I don’t care. The movie’s great. I haven’t seen a more entertaining and emotionally cathartic scene than the Argentinian bar scene in a long time. Perhaps it’s a Jewish thing, but all my sympathies lie with Magneto (as do the screenwriter’s, clearly), and I find Professor X to be an accommodationist willfully blind to reality (at least in this movie).

Mr. Popper’s Penguins
If you see this and you don’t have kids, I don’t even know why anyone would talk to you. If you see this and you do have kids, I’m wondering whether you need to give them a time out. Whenever you see previews for films like this, it makes you wonder whether a benevolent God actually exists.

Green Lantern
The CGI looks bad. The acting looks bad. The plot looks bad. The reviews look bad. Why is Ryan Reynolds a movie star?

Super 8
Have heard mixed reviews about this one. On the one hand, my good friend Kurt Schlichter ripped this movie up and down for its anti-military pretentions; on the other hand, it’s J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg, and Spielberg’s due for a good movie (isn’t he?). Also, it’s about aliens, which is Spielberg’s specialty. He’s not nearly as good with human beings — Saving Private Ryan is overrated, except for the D-Day sequence, and Schindler’s List is a gussying-up of the Holocaust. (You may send the hate mail now.)

Read the rest of Shapiro's spirited reviews here.  And let me know what you think of any of these flicks if you've already seen them.


20Jun/11Off

Larry David and The Bachelorette

My boy Larry David was recently on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and grew smitten with the guest who came on after him. That guest was the most recent star of ABC's The Bachelorette, Ashley Hebert.

FYI: New season of Curb Your Enthusiasm beings Sunday, July 10th.


11Jun/11Off

Adele on Letterman

I stumbled across this performance from The David Letterman Show and was blown away by how good this Adele chick can sing.  I'm sure I'm the last person in the world to know that she's got chops, but I also get excited about re-runs of The Bob Newhart Show so don't confuse me for someone who knows anything about current pop culture.

More importantly, enjoy this video.


3Jun/11Off

Andrew Belle Storms “Windy City Live”

My good friend Andrew Belle was the musical act on today's episode of Windy City Live, a local ABC-affiliate morning program here in Chicago.  After yucking it up with actress Minnie Driver, the hosts of WCL introduced A-Belle and my man dropped the talent hammer on all within ear-shot:

Andrew is a fantastic musician and really good guy. Check his stuff out on iTunes and forward this post to your friends/family.

Oh, and here's a montage of pics from Belle's morning at WCL. Check out my girl Minnie in the bottom right.

Windy City Live studio2


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What is “Mere Conservatism”?

The basic ideas, ideals, and values that generally define and characterize the central tenets of what today might be termed "modern conservative thought."

We believe that a proper understanding of history, economics, and theology leads to certain conclusions. Many of these are the same conclusions our Founding Fathers arrived at in constructing a "more perfect union."

All ideas and opinions are welcome; not all are correct.

Mere Conservatism Links:
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