Posts Tagged ‘Civil War’

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

April 1, 2016

My family has a personal connection to Abraham Lincoln. My brother owes his middle name to the sixteenth President of the United States. It makes a lot of sense. He was a very presidential president and accomplished a lot before he was laid low by an assassin’s bullet. Also, he was a lawyer and both of my parents are lawyers. Most of Abraham Lincoln’s life is hardly a secret. He grew up very poor but he was self-educated and frontier life made him pretty hardy. He became a lawyer and then joined the Illinois legislature before finally becoming President of the United States. He commanded the US during the Civil War, saw its conclusion and abolished slavery near the end. Finally, his life was taken by John Wilkes Boothe in Ford’s Theater in DC.

All of this forms the framework for the book that Seth Grahame-Smith wrote called Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. He took the real history and added in a secret vampire hunting quest that Honest Abe was engaged in. While he was making history in his day job, he was also declaring a private war against the vampires of our great nation. I expected the book to be silly and kind of lame but it wasn’t. The characters were well written and the author takes great pains to match actual events to fictional events. The plot was compelling and it was a hard book to put down. I rarely watch a movie after reading a book and vice versa but I thought I’d make an exception.

While I said that the book wasn’t silly, it was pretty hammy and heavy-handed. Vampire movies and books are often light and dark, good and evil as it makes things way easier. The movie skips a bit of the book and Lincoln’s history and zooms through his childhood. That’s fine, I didn’t come to see the story of a frontier child. I came to see one of the father’s of our country whoop some ass. We are given a fair background of the general time period and it already feels like we’re not getting the detail from the book. This movie feels like it’s going to be more about Abe’s story and not about matching fictional dates with historical dates. This is immensely acceptable because I’ve studied history. I want a good story.

We dive right into the supernatural and it’s not only the vampires who are magical, it’s the honest one himself as well. Also, the movie is built like a lot of epic/vaguely artsy blockbusters that came before it. While I could make a few 300 and Gangs of New York comparisons, the film felt more like a revenge movie (Kill Bill) mixed with a war film (Gettysburg). The movie knows that it is silly and also knows not to take itself seriously while appearing to take itself deadly seriously. The vampire effect is actually really fun, like Buffy and Angel, it instantly turns human-looking creatures into absolute scary monsters. Vampires are feral beasts when cornered but gentlemanly when going about their normal business.

The movie is full of some great performances although obviously not a single one of them is Oscar quality. I really like a good weaselly performance from Jimmi Simpson, a television actor who does not often get his due. I was surprised to see Alan Tudyk who is one of my all-time favorite television actors and he plays Stephen Douglas, Abe’s historic political rival. Also, there’s a solid pre-Falcon Anthony Mackie which is awesome. Abraham Lincoln himself is played really well by Benjamin Walker even if he looks more like a young Liam Neeson than I imagine Lincoln looked. There are two main villains and both of them are pretty charismatic and sufficiently evil. In the end, the movie was a really fun sit that didn’t take too long and was interesting enough to keep my attention.

Flag-Waving Part 2

July 4, 2015

It is July 4th which is Independence Day in the United States of America even though our armies didn’t officially win independence until September. It’s harder to have barbecues in September though or at least it was back when I was in school. Anyway, we won our independence and fought hard to defend it. I just realize I keep writing “we” as if I was there or had some direct connection to the events. I don’t but that’s the way being a citizen of a country makes you feel.  You take pride in success and feel embarrassment for failure.

I thought I would take the time on today of all days to revisit a post I made back in April about the overrun of American flags in our country. I love our country’s flag. I love the freedom it represents and the power to (hopefully) do the right thing. I just get upset when people use their patriotism as a status symbol.

There was a flag that was draped over my Great Uncle’s coffin. It was given to us because as kids we often went down to Georgia to visit him and his brother who both served in World War II. This flag actually means something. In fact, it means a lot of things to a lot of people. So when I complain about American flags everywhere I am not talking about this sort of thing. I come from the city that birthed our National Anthem which is a loving tribute to our country’s flag. It was written during a time when our country was fighting to keep its independence.

To summarize: I should probably not be so uptight about it. Happy 4th of July!

I have two other flag issues to talk about, both of which probably date this post.

The Gay Pride Flag

The Supreme Court has finally made a decision that allows same sex marriage throughout the country. This is a great victory and, in my opinion, joins a long list of civil rights victories that should have happened long before they actually happened. There is still a lot of work to do on the civil rights front and the equal rights front and there will always be people who stand in front of progress.

One of those people came up to me yesterday and claimed that 10,000 people signed a petition to replace our country’s flag with the gay pride flag. Really? People are actually still falling for these fake news stories? Awesome. A lot of us are really excited about the Supreme Court victory but we’re not about to go overboard. Statistically the homophobic and intolerant philosophies that cause people to buy into something like this are disappearing.

Confederate Flags

Another news story that will date this post is that all over the southeastern part of the USA, governments are taking down confederate flags. A (hopefully) minor part of the population is reacting to this with anger. This completely and utterly bewilders me.

The confederate flag is part of a dark period in history called the American Civil War. It represents a country that briefly existed due to differences in policy from the United States government. We could argue for hours over what those differences were but the rebellion failed and the US went through a rough period of reconstruction that led to both halves reforming into one country. Therefore, the nation it represents hasn’t existed for over one hundred years.

My mother’s side of the family is from South Carolina and, to our great embarassment, a confederate flag hung at the capital building for a long time. Whatever the flag originally represented, at some point it began to represent racism. This is the interpretation that I grew up with due to my mom’s experiences growing up in the south and the flag’s association with slavery and later the KKK. A distant family member recently told me that they believe that the confederate flag should be left alone because it symbolizes heritage and history. However, this person has also used the N word unironically and in anger so it is hard for me to take this argument seriously.

So why cling to a national flag of a long dead country? A country in a region that statistically did not believe in equal rights and fought any progress in that area. It’s really hard for me to believe that the reason isn’t racism. I don’t see the confederate flag as a positive symbol at all. I agree that it should not be flown on government land as it has nothing to do with who we are today. At least, it has nothing to do with who I want to be.

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