The Hound Of The Baskervilles

Hound Of The BaskervillesNeed a break from the daily drumbeat of politics? From the vituperation and savage name calling?  From the lies?

How about a horror story?

And was there ever a better horror story than The Hound Of The Baskervilles?  It not only has all the basics it invented the basics: a vast fortune at stake with its new heir being stalked by an ancient curse, dramatic tension from get-go, murder by paranormal means, a quirky country doctor as interlocutor, escaped convict dying horribly running from the monster come to life while even the Butler and his wife hide a dark secret and what a setting: a vast lonely moor, spooky old manor house, ancient prehistoric stone rings on lonely windswept hillsides, fog at night, the Great Grimpen Mire.  .

And thankfully, it’s missing all the 21st Century Hollywood essentials: modern special effects, some version of Xena The Warrior Princess eclipsing all the men in hand to hand combat, the lovable “Gay Next Door”, an evil Republican CIA or maybe an evil White Man or an evil giant corporation polluting some sacred mountain, sacred beach, sacred tree or sacred river and of course the sub-plot of a Black hero maybe in silver wraparound sunglasses or long gray dreadlocks.  No happy little pet dog, hip hop children, no tattoos, no heroic environmentalist and no airplane crashes.

Hound puts that Hollywood tackiness and politically correct froth in the shade.  It’s a STORY.  It’s only agenda is to entertain you – Black, White, Gay, Straight, Christian, Jew, Agnostic, Young, Old, Male, Female Tall or Short, Tattooed Or Blank.  It’s a STORY.

Have your kids read the extremely well written book, they’ll love you for helping them master one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s worlds. Then on a dark winter night when a storm is rattling the shutters outside make a mound of popcorn, you and your wife gather the little guys all together on the couch under a blanket, turn the lights off and watch the original black and white 1939 movie with Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Doctor Watson.

You can even do it all over again thirty years in the future with your grandchildren.

It’s hard to get better than that my friend.

Existential Is As Existing Does

I’ve come to the conclusion that people only use the word “Existential” in order in order to sound elitist.  It means pertaining to existence and so instead of saying something is an “existential threat” you could more easily say something is an “existing threat.”  Indeed there’s a tautological ring to either because a threat is only a threat because it’s existing.

There’s also the philosophy of existentialism popularized by the Nazi collaborator and hero of the Left-Wing Jean Paul Satre who admitted he didn’t know really what it was.  So there’s not much need to use that word either except in compound like the-phony-philosophy-of-existentialism.

Also remember that George Orwell suggested that in the choice between two words always chose the simpler.

The Blizzard

Sasquatch FeetWell it’s 10:00 Am here in Stone Ridge and the “Storm Of The Century” has been downgraded but up here north of the city we’re still getting dumped on. So much so that my buddy seventy-eight year old Eddie Slaterburgh who goes out every snow with his big phony Sasquatch feet in order to frighten the neighbor’s kids tells me he’s already made his rounds three times this morning.

Snowy Woods

Orangutan Boxing

Orangutan BoxingAs if there wasn’t enough to worry about in the news animal rights activists are up in arms over Orangutan Boxing in Thailand.  Don’t let the sign in the background fool you – it is Thailand even though that person in the front row with a handful of winning betting slips in his hand looks a lot like Michael Vick.

Makes You Want To Cry

Good article on America’s WW II internment of Japanese in today’s DM  Here.  With many photographs.  Check it out.

InternmentThe internment was a stain on America.  Having said that the camps weren’t Bergen Belsen.  And the internees deserve a lot of credit for the way they went along and harbored so few grudges against their fellow citizens.  And of course there was the incomparable 442nd Infantry composed entirely of Japanese Americans.  The most decorated Army unit in WW II.  Today most of them have passed on but as you enter Punchbowl Military cemetery overlooking Honolulu, there they are, their gravestones lined up with each other in military precision.   Makes you want to cry.  (Pictured is a Boy Scout Color Guard at a camp.)

On The Speech

It was a great speech and it’s hard not to agree with others that somewhere in the middle of it, Donald J. Trump became President of the United States.

Although he did miss several opportunities:

At the very beginning when the President turns and extends one bound volume each to the Vice President and the Speaker Of The House he should have made a crack about how glad he was that no Hollywood Democrat was responsible for handing the right speech to the right person.


A few minutes in he could have commented about all the women in white in the audience.  Something like “the Democrats haven’t had this many people in White Robes since they ran George Wallace for President.”


Midway through he could have paused, pointed up into the Gallery and announced that those men everybody sees moving around up there were Federal Agents arresting the illegal immigrants the Democrats had invited as guests.

Other than that my hats off to you Mr. President.


Richard F. Miniter is the author of The Things I Want Most, Random House, BDD See it Here.  He lives and writes in the colonial era hamlet of Stone Ridge, New York, blogs here and can also be reached at


Do Not Walk On Wet Rocks

Piece and a video in the Daily Mail today Here about a boy being rescued from the surf in Hawaii.  Many readers wrote in to say how dangerous the waves are there.  I wholeheartedly concur because for someone raised on the North Atlantic’s pretty predictable shoreline they were a shock.

And reading the above linked story today reminded me of a goosebump inducing tale I was told when I was stationed on Oahu in 1964.

It goes like this:

There was a sign on a rocky beach on the North Eastern Coast – Danger From Waves – Do Not Walk On Wet Rocks.  (Meaning of course that wet rocks tell you where the surf is reaching)

Father and son take a hike. Son (who is walking on the dry rocks) says to father “Dad maybe you should stay off wet rocks like the sign said.”  Father replies “don’t worry about me son I can look out for myself.” Son looks away.  Son looks back. Father has vanished.

A Land Beyond Kings

After central governments began emerging in Scandinavia during the final decades of the Viking age more than a few of the those fiercely independent bands fled west.  Into the ocean mists where they gambled on their open longships surviving the unexplored North Atlantic.   Some simply vanished while others settled Iceland in 874, the Faroe Isles in 872-930 before going on to Greenland 980, and then mysteriously, the American continent.

No aids to navigation aids save the sun and rumors of land somewhere out there, cheek by jowl with two dozen armed rowers and their wives, children, livestock, fresh water and supplies, forever wet and always uncertain about their future.

But yet compelled, in their own words,  to find  A Land Beyond Kings.

A motive which foretold the much larger emigration headed towards America across that same ocean some six hundred years later.  Because just like the earlier Vikings these people too wanted to chance to work out their own lives in their own ornery fashion.  With nobody much outside their own circle, ever telling them what to do.

A not very well admired trait today.  Indeed during televised testimony I once heard Justice Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court, which is of course a body which much like those earlier kings believes it has the God-given right to tell everybody what to do about anything, sneer at the Americans believed that they should be able to whatever it was they wanted to do.  And only for their own reasons.

So what  happened to that spirit?

Aha, and that’s a subject to itself explored.

About Trump’s Press Conference

From Micheal Goodwin in today’s New York Post red full article Here:

Sure, sentences didn’t always end on the same topic they started with, and his claim to have won the election by the largest electoral college margin since Ronald Reagan wasn’t close to true.

Fair points, but so what? Fact-checkers didn’t elect him, nor did voters who were happy with the status quo.

Trump, first, last and always, matches the mood of the discontented. Like them, he is a bull looking for a china shop. That’s his ace in the hole and he played it almost to perfection.

Democrat Front Runners For 2020

Dad And Rock Wall3

Somehow the United States has to learn to relax.  We just finished the long and jangling roller coast ride of the 2016 Presidential election and the media is already fulminating about the 2020 match-up with Trump.  So with nothing better to do while it’s snowing a blizzard outside let me give you my two cents about the current (according to the New York Post) Democrat front runners:


Left to right Mark Cuban, Andrew Cuomo and Elsbeth Warren.  Cuban hasn’t a chance because Americans don’t like candidates with a prognathian jaw.  Cuomo is a loser because he has the personality of a rodent dragging a slice of pizza along a subway platform and Warren’s out because voters will recognize her as one of those social worker types who couldn’t organize a family between two rabbits and besides, she’s forever stuck with the nickname Pocahontas and I wouldn’t put it by Trump to mock her with a whoo, whoo, whoo war dance on the stage at the debates.

So not a lot there.

Maybe if they can get enough fluids into her the Democrats could run Hillary again?