Monthly Archives: March 2017

Arrrrr pyrating good time in Algiers Point New Orleans

Kids play games at Family Pyrate Day in Algiers Point in New Orleans

I had a great time at the Family Pyrate Day held in Algiers Point, New Orleans. The event was organized by Confetti Kids, an non-profit organization that funds fantastic programming for children in the Algiers neighborhood of NOLA. Here’s what their website says:

“Confetti Kids is a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of children in Algiers Point. We maintain parks in our neighborhood, and we try to foster a sense of community by bringing neighbors together for child-centered programming. All Confetti Kids events are open to the public.”

Lots of kids and families played and entertained in the alleys and in the buildings. And they were creative: strollers were made up as pirate ships! A big shout out to Katy Hobgood Ray and her crew for organizing a fantastic day with a diverse set of entertainers.

John “Ol’ Chumbucket” Baur and Tori Baur promoting Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter and all things pirate.

Algiers is an old neighborhood, almost as old as NOLA itself. Walking the neighborhoods was very cool. The streets are narrow, and several houses have architectural features that date back to the 18th century. Many of the residences have great southern-style porches even as long, narrow shot-gun style houses line other streets. Warren’s Corner, an old bar, feels as if it hasn’t changed for over a century. I was told that the building has doubled as a movie set. On the corner across from event location is the iconic Old Point Bar, which also served as host for the event.

The day’s festivities took place at Warren’s Corner on Patterson Street across from the levee, and included readings, music and skits by professional and amateur performers. (My reading from The Pirate of Panther Bay was scheduled at 12:30 p.m, but quickly turned into a on-stage theatrical performance with pint-sized tars angling for a sword fight.) Katy has a great song over at the Confetti Kids YouTube channel the captures the spirit of the day called “Watch Out For The Pirates.”

The event had a number of “colorful” characters. I had the great fortune of meeting John and Tori Baur. John is the author of Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter (check out the review by legendary pirate historian and expert Cindy Vallar here). He is probably best known as Ol’ Chumbucket, one of the co-founders (with Mark “Cap’n Slappy” Summers) of International Talk Like A Pirate Day. If you want a great laugh, check out Well Blow Me Down! A Guy’s Guide to Talking Like a Pirate They have a great interview with Phil Johnson on the Under The Crossbones podcast—Episode #34. (And while you’re at it, you can check out my interview–No. 20–on the same podcast.)

John Couret, coauthor of the Captain Deadeye anti-bullying books, is swarmed by kids at Family Pyrate Day

I also spent time with another great team—Dianne De Las Casas and John Couret—co-authors of Captain Deadeye: The Bully Shark. This is a fantastic new children’s series focused on bullying, courage, and leadership published through Write Hook Media. The book is a great story for early chapter book readers, and kids dealing with bullying in elementary school (or earlier). They have an entire anti-bullying curriculum built around the series. They were incredible with the kids at Family Pyrate Day, and loved every second they had with them.

All in all, this was a great day to be in New Orleans, and inspiring to see how creatively people have put pirate lore and myth to good fun and use.

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Family Pyrate Day in New Orleans!

I’ve been late getting this up, but Confetti Kids and Old Point Bar in Algiers Point,  New Orleans are kicking off NOLA Pirate Week with Family Pyrate Day on Saturday, March 25th from 11 am to 5 pm.

A whole slate of entertainers and authors is set up starting at 11 am at the Old Point Bar. I will do a reading from The Pirate of Panther Bay at 12:30 pm.

Pirates of all ages are welcome!

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Review: Can We Take A Joke? Forewarned Free Speech Attack at Middlebury College

My most recent film review at the Independent Institute blog examines the free speech message at the core of the documentary Can We Take A Joke? The film was released in 2016, and its content focuses on comedians who have experienced an unexpected increase in attacks on free speech on college campuses and elsewhere. This wave was on full display recently at Middlebury College where a contrarian scholar was physically attacked for his views by protesters.

This is a disturbing trend. Free speech used to be a sacred principle of American public discourse and democratic engagement.

In my review, I ask whether this film forewarned of an escalation in these attacks and perhaps even anticipated the physical violence recently displayed against influential libertarian scholar Charles Murray at Middlebury College. I write in part:

Can We Take A Joke? uses the real-world experiences of these mostly liberal comedians to show the rise of intolerance against non–politically correct social commentary. Comedians are the proverbial canary in the coal mine, typically among the first wave of victims of intolerance or government oppression. This is because they are often on the front lines of social commentary and social change, as Brookings Institution scholar Jonathan Rauch points out in the film.

Documentary films are at their best when they provoke public discussion on important issues of the day. I think Can We Take A Joke? can achieve this objective on what used to be a sacred principle of American democracy and public discourse.

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Review: Logan shows superhero action movies can also have soul

My movie review of Logan is up at the Independent Institute! This is a film that shows superhero action movies can have soul, with complex characters and a meaningful plot.

I really enjoyed this film, although it earns its R rating. Logan follows the final days of Wolverine as he rediscover’s his humanity while trying to save a new crop of young mutants. I write, in part,

The violence may seem gratuitous to some viewers, but mostly it serves the purpose of the story. James “Logan” Howlett is the mutant Wolverine of Marvel Comics fame, and his personality is volatile and emotional. He also has a conscience. These dimensions—including the guilt that comes with the curse of having steel claws that decapitate, impale, and slash his attackers—are portrayed well by Hugh Jackman (his ninth movie performance as Wolverine). Logan’s mutant powers are used defensively, not offensively. The violence is not portrayed as honorable or noble, and this becomes an integral part of a very thoughtful film.

I don’t mention in the Independent Institute review the strong pro-family theme. This is a bit of an oversight although I was trying to keep the review focused. Logan is caring for the dying Charles Xavier, a.k.a., Professor X (Patrick Stewart), and the relationship is very much father-son. Charles pushes Logan to connect with Laura, although Logan resists the responsibility that comes with the paternal relationship it implies.

Dafne Keen, who plays the eleven year old mutant Laura Kinney, cloned from Logan’s DNA, is impressive, and one of the primary reasons I enjoyed the film. Her character is brooding and intense, but her transformation into a more human and complete person is astounding for such a young actress in her first major role in a high-profile film.

Check out the full review here.

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