Here is a list of the ten scariest movies according to LiveScience. Just in time for Halloween.

Some of these films I had not heard of before reading the list: Bug, Martin, Frailty. Others are familiar such as Pscho, Jacob's Ladder, The Shining, The Stepfather, Seven, The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Last year for Halloween I posted this listing of movies and reading for this season of the year.

I recommend The Exorcist, or the original 1925 Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney, or perhaps the 1922 Nosferatu, or maybe the 1932 The Mummy with Boris Karloff, or if you can find it the 1932 Freaks.

To my list I'll add Alien, the first one from 1979, and The Innocents, a 1961 adaptation of Henry James' The Turn of the Screw, and The Omen from 1976.

Anyone else have any favorite horror movies?
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
A few weekends ago, my sons and I went to see Bee Movie. I have a few brief thoughts on the film eventually, but first a thought or two about fatherhood:

In many ways, I was "born again" (again) on May 12, 1999 (the birthday of my first son).

The act of being a father to my two boys fundamentally changed my perspective on life.

I am a history teacher by vocation--and an historian by avocation. However, I did not truly understand the interconnectedness (the true power) of history until the birth of my sons.

An example: in the Stephen Spielberg film, Amistad, slavers fall upon the protagonist of the story, (we know him as Joseph Cinqué). The kidnapping proves violently disturbing--but, for me, the most bone-crushingly brutal shot is the one in which Cinqué's son, who does not witness the scuffle, sees only an empty frame where his father should be. They boy registers a slightly confused expression as to why his father is no longer visible; he is unaware that dad is gone for good. But we know, of course, what he does not.

The boy's face never fails to hit me like a sledgehammer. True, Cinqué has lost his freedom--but the much more profound tragedy is that a son has lost his father. Who will protect, teach, and love this boy? In that one scene, we begin to comprehend the enormity of the slavery holocaust, the catastrophic hole in the fabric of West African society that greatly exceeded the mere loss of individual liberty.

One other example: understanding the love of God.

The metaphor of God the Father is ubiquitous throughout the Bible. However, the analogy has virtually no meaning to anyone who has not experienced parental love, which is quite impossible to understand fully from a child's point of view (the object of the love). While I knew all my life that my parents loved me, I had no idea what that all-consuming, self-sacrificing, life-giving brand of higher love meant until I experienced fatherhood.

"What father when his son asks for a fish would hand him a serpent instead?" Before parenthood: a pretty bad one? After parenthood: Ah, I understand now. The Parable of the Prodigal Son: my voice cracks, my throat constricts, and my eyes fill with tears reading aloud the story, as I imagine the unspeakable joy of the father when he first catches a distant glimpse of his lost child coming home.

What does this have to do with Jerry Seinfeld?

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Posted by: A Waco Farmer
On the Fourth of July, my family went to the movies to watch Ratatouille.

For an insightful review, let me direct you to Thomas Hibbs via NRO here.

For the most part, I agree with Hibbs (a friend and an authority on American cinema), who called Ratatouille "a smart, funny, well-made film." However, I must admit that I liked it slightly less than he did.

Even Hibbs complained that the film "dragg[ed] a bit toward the end." I rue the day filmmakers decided that all fine films must be two hours long. Sometimes a story about a rat who can talk and cook and transform a sagging Paris restaurant just might be more appropriately told in ninety minutes.

Perhaps the length is my main gripe. Or perhaps the movie lost me when the whole colony of rats took over the kitchen to save the day. One cooking rat I can buy. A whole army of cooking rats stretches my credulity.

Anyhow, I have not walked out of a Pixar film less excited since Monsters, Inc. I will not be counting the days until the DVD release.

Having said that, a less-appealing Pixar film is still magic.

I wholeheartedly agree with Hibbs in his interest in and admiration for director Brad Bird (The Incredibles).

Hibbs writes:

Like The Incredibles, Ratatouille is really about nobility or excellence in a democratic setting: Not everyone has equal talent or ability but there is no predicting, on the basis of class or nationality, where talent might arise. Fortunately, for moviegoers, there is still some talent left in Hollywood.

Well said.

Read here for other Bosque Boys thoughts on the Incredibles, Cars and Pixar.
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
This Friday, I finally found the time to see Knocked Up, which, by the way, exceeded the 100-million-dollar threshold in box office receipts this weekend.

I approached the film with great expectations, having read the reviews that praised it as something of a morality tale. It is in some ways a traditional story: boy meets girl, boy wins girl, boy loses girl and then wins her back, and they drive off together into the sunset.

Much has been written about the plot of the story in which an unmarried couple opt to make room for an unexpected new life in the midst of a relatively happy if self-centered existence (in the case of the father) and a promising career at a crucial juncture (in the case of the mother). Even more surprising, the parents, who make an unlikely couple, take great pains to fall in love and form a family in hopes of providing a secure and wholesome home for the impending child.

My review in a nutshell: funny, provocative and entertaining.

However, I have one caution: what may get lost in all the talk of high moral lessons and new traditionalism is that the movie is an R-rated ribald comedy. That is, if you are thinking about taking your wife (and meeting church friends) and seeing the movie at a very public theater on a Friday night in Waco, Texas, you should know that the content of this film is exceedingly raunchy and sexually explicit.

Consider yourself warned.
New in Print: Who Really Cares: America's Charity Divide. Who Gives, Who Doesn't, and Why It Matters
By Arthur C. Brooks
(Basic, 250 pages, $26)

Bosque Boys favorite Wilfred M. McClay offers a very fine review of the book in today's Wall Street Journal.

McClay writes:

"If Mr. Brooks is right, our era's common sense of the matter -- that the political left is more compassionate than the political right, and that America is a remarkably ungenerous nation by world standards -- is demonstrably inaccurate. In fact, Sen. John Edwards's repeated claim that there are "two Americas" turns out to be correct but misstated: The line of separation runs most saliently not between the haves and have-nots but between the gives and the give-nots, between those Americans who respond to social needs with their own money and time and those who do not."

"The correlations are strong and unmistakable. For example, people who attend houses of worship regularly are 25% more likely to give and 23% more likely to volunteer, and the religious give away four times the amounts of money that the secular do. Working families without welfare support give three times as much to charity as do welfare families with the same total income. Conservative households give 30% more to charity than liberal households. Redistributionist liberals give about a fourth of what redistributionist skeptics give. And perhaps most interesting of all, in states in which George W. Bush got more than 60% of the 2004 vote, charitable giving averaged 3.5% of income, as compared with states in which Mr. Bush got less than 40% of the vote, in which the giving averaged a mere 1.9% of income. So much for the idea that red states are red in tooth and claw."

I agree with McClay's articulate backhand to sociology as a discipline: "The social sciences even at their best do nothing but restate the obvious in obscure language." However, he heartily recommends this effort as a "lucidly written, carefully distilled and persuasively cogent work, a tidy time-bomb of a book whose findings will, if they are taken to heart, transform much of what we thought we knew about charity and the social good in America...."

We'll see. If nothing else, we can expect a needed conversation and perhaps reevaluation of some hackneyed negative stereotypes regarding conservatives.

Bill McClay's review online in full here (registration may be required).
Today in the New York Sun, Bill McClay, a Bosque Boys favorite, reviews the latest from "gonzo" historian Douglas Brinkley, The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

It is the policy of the Bosque Boys to promote charity and humane treatment toward the intellectually defenseless, but, for all of those who have practiced the art of history in New Orleans, or suffered through a Doug Brinkley moment on some cable news network, I am making an exception in this case.

The full review is linked here (which I heartily recommend), but I am posting a few choice excerpts below:

One can be excused for wondering from the outset whether enough time has passed for anything of this epic scale to be written about these tragic and infuriating events - or whether Mr. Brinkley is the man for the job. Let me confess that I haven't read all of the writings of Douglas Brinkley. I doubt that anyone - perhaps not even Mr. Brinkley himself - has ever done that. He is a veritable ... deluge of literary productivity, with books to his credit on a dizzying array of subjects, ranging from Beat poetry to Jimmy Carter, and from Henry Ford to, most recently, the failed Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Indeed, the range of his literary productions is so wide as to seem indiscriminate. But his bestknown writings seem to have three things in common.

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Posted by: A Waco Farmer
The much anticipated (at least by me) American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia is now available via Amazon and ISI and many other places.

Order it today!

The following is a sample entry on Patrick Henry, 1736-1799, penned by one of the lesser known contributors but who is, nevertheless, of special interest to the Bosque Boys.

Commonly considered the greatest orator of the American Revolution, Patrick Henry’s fiery denunciations of consolidation also provided a rallying point for critics of centralized government following the War for Independence. Henry journeyed from proto-nationalist to Anti-Federalist and then back to Federalist during his long career, and his political odyssey reflects the persistent tension between liberty and order so prevalent during his time and beyond. A self-educated native of Virginia, the “forest-born Demosthenes” emerged as a gifted lawyer during his mid-twenties. Speaking in opposition to the Stamp Act in 1765, Henry gained international recognition when he defiantly declared “if this be treason, make the most of it.” A decade later, addressing the Virginia legislature in support of Independence, he uttered his most celebrated call to arms: “Give me liberty or give me death.” During the Revolution he served as wartime governor of Virginia. As a delegate to the First Continental Congress in 1774, Henry exuberantly declared himself “not a Virginian but an American.” He renounced nationalism thirteen years later when he refused election to the Constitutional Convention (called ostensibly to modify the Articles of Confederation), proclaiming that he “smelt a rat.” Henry then directed the campaign in Virginia to block ratification of the federal compact. Pronouncing the federal union merely a scheme devised by northern states to “despoil” the southern states of their wealth, he also warned that the Constitution provided little protection against tyranny. As Virginia’s leading Anti-Federalist, he faulted the document for an unrealistic reliance on “good men” and predicted that some ambitious and able President would inevitably make a “bold push for the American throne.” Although he lost the argument (Virginia ratified the Constitution in 1788), Henry remained a hero and a political force in his home state for another decade. Ironically, in his final years Henry returned to his nationalist roots, embracing the Federalist Party and remaining active as a Federalist until his death in 1799.

Other entries of special interest: Stephen A Douglas, The Federalist Party, The American Tories (Loyalists) and Dwight Eisenhower.