Send As SMS






Monday, September 30, 2002

'Blogs worth noting what ain't been noted here before.

Eclectic Amateur remembers the time I called in to Al Kresta's radio program! Plus he has some really wry cultural observations as well ("dehydrated cane juice", indeed!). Goodonya!

Ellyn vonHuben reads my 'blog! Her own 'blog is very entertaining as well -- check out the running Frog Chronicles! I can't say a bad thing about this 'blog or ribbit (sorry!) at all!






Evangelical Filmmakers Use Success of VeggieTales as Excuse to Make More Crappy Movies like "Left Behind"

(Well -- not really; but yes).






Led Zeppelin - Immigrant Song. More cute kitties for you. It's odd... when I first heard this song all those years ago, this is exactly the mental picture I got.






Welcome to JeffandTracy.com: "Making the World a Safer Place for Respectable Pot Smokers Everywhere."

I'm kind of curious... what makes someone (in their own mind) a respectable pot-smoker and what (again, in their own mind) distinguishes them from those pot-smokers whom they might deem as non-respectable?

"Darned irrespectable pot smokers with their natural-fiber clothing and their hemp leaves printed all over everything and their Phish music and their munchies all the time... give us respectable pot-smokers a bad name!"






Emily Stimpson has, over at HMS 'Blog, a list of The Top Ten Reasons Why 21st Century Catholic Womanhood Rocks. I like the list but think it needs a reply -- what's so great about the 21st century, anyway? Here's the Top10 list with my own replies in parentheses.

10. Fathers can't consecrate their daughters to virginity at age seven
(Though if a daughter chooses to abandon their virginity at age seven, there's not much a father can do about it)

9. Calling a woman "manly" is no longer a compliment
(Unless, of course, she has accepted the transgendered lifestyle)

8. Wearing lipstick does not make a girl a hussy
(Nothing these days makes a girl a hussy)

7. Women can be holy without subsisting solely on the consecrated host
(Unfortunately now most Catholics, male or female, see nothing uniquely holy about a consecrated host).

6. Wives are in no danger of getting sent off to the convent when their husband gets elected bishop
(Though convents now are a great place for laicized bishops and priests to find wives)

5. Females are considered fully human
(Not unborn females, unfortunately)

4. Horsehair nightgowns are not easy to come by
(On the internet, however, miniature, people-sized saddles are)

3. Scholars no longer debate whether women will be resurrected as women or as men
(Scholars no longer debate resurrection, period)

2. No sane theologian would dare call women "the gateway of the devil"
("Font of Gaia" is the term most credible theologians would use these days)

1. Bathing - a dirty body no longer signifies a clean soul.
(Good teeth and dimples, however, do -- just ask any politician)


(I should state for the record, though, that had I been born at anytime prior to the latter-half of the 20th century I would've been dead several times over by now).






Boston Globe Online: Bush plan on fetus benefits sparks debate

If Bush manages to carry this through without bumbling it he'll have my support (at least until his next daffy flip-flop). I also love the absurd manner and language with which the author of that Globe piece has forced himself, through his own idealogy, to write that piece.






This is pretty cute. (You may need to have a PC to view this, not sure about that, though).








Sunday, September 29, 2002

Cardinal Maida's Letter

Here's the letter which was to be read at all Masses this last weekend. It wasn't read at our 12:30 Mass, however, though I don't think the omission was intentional. Cardinal Maida is our prelate here in the Archdiocese of Detroit, where one can find the home-parish of gubernatorial hopeful Jennifer Granholm, Our Lady of Good Council. While Maida is no Chaput, there are, to be sure, far worse Shepherds out there.

My Brothers and Sisters in the Lord:

Our annual Respect Life observance takes on special meaning and significance this October 2002 as we continue to remember with sorrow last year's terrorist attacks, and as we prepare for next month's election. Daily, we hear reports of many forms of violence and abuse to human life near and far. Now more than ever, we recognize that the gift of life is precious, yet very fragile.

As we reflect on the wide-scale violent abuse of life, we cannot help but be dismayed that over one million lives are being lost each year to abortion. In the name of the Lord, we are compelled to respond by defending the dignity of every human life - from the first moment of conception until the last natural breath. Recognizing that we are stewards - not owners - of life, we see a necessary and unavoidable connection between our worship of God and our respect for His presence in every human being.

Struggling with where and how to change the minds and hearts of our fellow citizens, we find direction from the bishops of our country who have written in our National Pastoral Plan for Life: "We must begin with a commitment never to intentionally kill or collude in the killing of any innocent human life, no matter how broken, unformed, disabled, or desperate that life may seem."

Abortion, the direct taking of human life prior to birth, is always a moral evil; the same is true for the deliberate destruction of human embryos. Likewise, assisted suicide or euthanasia is morally unacceptable. Direct attacks on innocent civilians and acts of terrorism are also morally unjustifiable. Simply put, we wish to proclaim and live a "consistent ethic of life," affirming the dignity of all life and condemning any form of violence that would weaken or destroy that life.

Every day, every one of us recommits ourselves to the dignity of life: we do so by bringing life into this world and educating and forming our children. We also affirm life as we work to ensure the right of all people to quality education and dignified labor, especially immigrants and marginalized persons. Many of us have the privilege of bringing healing for the body or spirit at very critical moments in the life journey through our work in the health care profession or as public servants of the common good as law enforcement officers and fire fighters. Some of us are privileged to serve in positions of leadership in business and commerce, as well as in government - settings in which you shape legislation which defends the life of all, especially the most vulnerable.

Catholic public officials have a special moral obligation to understand and accept wholeheartedly the Church's teaching on the dignity of innocent human life; they may never advocate for, or actively support, legislation which would allow direct attacks on innocent human life. When it is impossible to overturn or prevent passage of a law which allows or promotes abortion, an elected official should always seek to limit the harm done by such laws. Nor can Catholic political leaders justify inaction with regard to the dignity of human life simply on the grounds that abortion is the law of the land, because ultimately, there is a higher law, the law of God.

These basic truths about right and wrong must shape our political judgments and our decisions about how we vote. The charge laid upon me by Christ compels me to speak to these issues and underscore the questions that each of us has to consider between now and election day: What is the candidate's commitment to supporting quality health care benefits and educational opportunity of all, especially the poor and the vulnerable? Where does the candidate stand on the death penalty? And most importantly, where does the candidate stand on abortion - "the preeminent threat to human dignity because it directly attacks life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others" (Michigan Catholic Conference, "A Catholic View to Elections 2002," June 26, 2002).

In closing, I thank you for your personal and family witness to life, a commitment that has characterized our local Church of Detroit for 170 years. Over the decades, we have made a powerful impact on the wider society precisely because we have presented a unified and respectful voice on behalf of the dignity of all human life. Together, may we join minds, hands, and hearts in a renewed commitment to defend and promote the dignity of life, God's greatest gift!

Your brother in the Lord,
Adam Cardinal Maida
Archbishop of Detroit






Animal Husbandry

So where has Victor been all day? I'm a little ashamed to admit this, but Monica got us a copy of Animal Crossing for the Nintendo GameCube. It's a little hard to explain to someone who hasn't played it just how immersive this "game" really is. In a nutshell though: you play a little moppet who's come to a town (the town is randomly generated when you give it a name) filled with a random assortment of little animals each with their own name, personalities, and sense of interior design. The game plays in real-time (thanks to the GameCube's internal clock) which means that when it's Saturday, September 29th, at 3pm in the "real world" that's what time and date it is in the game's world. Anyway, the whole point of the experience is to do favors for the animals, plant trees, harvest fruit, collect shells, fossils, insects, fish, etc. and to build up your house and fill it with all sorts of cool things (like furniture, neat little toys, etc.). The coolest thing of all, though, is that your animal friends will occasionally give you an old NES game which you can actually then play on the GameCube or download (via a special cable) to your GameBoy Advance to play on the go. These games are perfectly emulated from the old NES classis.

But it's really easy to get wrapped up in it all -- paying off your mortgage to Tom Nook the local raccoon shopkeeper, trying to track down your friend Lily the frog who has left town for some reason, waiting for the reply from the Farway Museum to see if that fossil you dug up is worth anything. What's even more cool than playing with the animals, though, is that if you have a friend (or wife) who is into the game, you can travel to (or even live in) the towns they've created. So from Vicville it's only a short train-ride to Jackie's Jamstown where the peaches which grow only in Vicville sell for five-times as much. You can also send letters to your friends, both human and animal. Jackie sent me a whole bunch of letters with presents in them (mainly stuff she didn't need anymore -- but could've sold -- to spruce up my house). While I'm writing this Jackie is designing some new clothes (the game comes with a pixel-map editor and you can apply the patterns to clothes, umbrellas, your house, etc. or trade them with your friends) and catching crickets (there are three types we know about) because they're only out at night.

Unfortunately, though, it has not helped my solipsistic tendencies. Granted the world of Animal Crossing is a far cry from the real world (though at least in Animal Crossing if you don't want to track down Chow the panda's missing glasses case you don't have to) it's not too far of an epistemological leap into a sort of Berkelian idealism where we're all "just" characters in some omniscient Programmer's fractally-generated universe (digging up fossils which only appear to have been planted there millions of years ago). Of course, even though this is something which cannot be disproven, it’s still worth noting that this world outside of Animal Crossing is about as real as it gets.








Saturday, September 28, 2002

"Clearance Clearwater Revival guitar tabs" brought someone to my site (guess that's what they call Credence's discount CDs). Also three searches for "angry skinheads" (don't know that I've ever used the word "skinheads" on my 'blog... will have to check -- ah yes, here it is: July 26, 2001... and now, of course, again in this very post).

Also, for those of you who suffer from chronic headaches: try 500mg of magnesium right when you feel the headache coming on. It seems to work. And is probably better for you and cheapaer than all that Excedrin.

Also, Mayize has unveiled the new look of her site, including FOUR different 'blog skins from which you may choose when reading her 'blog. I'll leave it up to you to determine which one I like best (hint: it's either the cowgirl or the Buffy skins -- not the cheeky faery skin).






Monsters, Inc. is the best movie ever!!!!

And Pixar is the best damned Animation Studio that ever was. That's all I have to say tonight. If you haven't seen Monsters, Inc. yet now that it's out on DVD (and yes, VHS) you have no excuse whatsoever not to get up off your sorry butt and rent it. I laughed (a bunch) and I cried (twice). It rules. I think I would be happy never seeing any movie ever again that didn't do me like this movie did me.






This is just too funny and proper a use of Flash to not blog: Make Your Own Bush Speech.








Friday, September 27, 2002

I'm "auditioning" Bravenet webstats as my WebTrendsLive will be going away on Monday. I like being able to see the google searches which bring people here.. though I don't know if I can view more than just the last 50 visitors.

So far my favorite searches are:

"Funkadelic Cowbell" This makes sense. I've gone on at great length about both Funkadelic and cowbells in the past.
"Japenese/English Love" Not a great deal of experience (or 'blogposts) in this arena, sorry.
"Womens tempress movement" Not sure if they meant "women's temperence" or "women's temptress". I know a great deal more about one than the other.

There are more, of course, and I cannot wait to see what tomorrow brings.






Don't you dare try to receive communion while genuflecting in one Parish in Arlington, VA, as Catholic Light points out.

It's been a pretty outrageous week for the Church: first diocese after diocese begin releasing lists of accused and suspected sex-offenders (living and dead, mispelled and not, laicized or still active) and now this. If I didn't have so much already invested in Catholicism (like my salvation, for instance), I'm not sure there'd be many reasons why I wouldn't run off and join...

The Lovians. Be sure not to miss their Love Moves workouts.

As Master Kasheesh said of commitment, "This bowl of rice shall nourish me to be sure, but I would not say no to a nice fruit plate, either."






You don't have a right to sex.

A fine piece on a fine 'blog (a Buffy fan!) I just now "discovered". Since archives aren't working properly, you may have to scroll down to that headline. But you can't miss it. It's a really good piece and I can't think of another place where I've seen that particular angle, at least not articulated as such.






This is why Mark Shea rules and why, maybe -- just maybe! -- I should be slipping him a little something under the table. No, I'm not reversing my stand against 'blegging. Just, ah, amending it. Quietly. Go read his piece. Nothing more to see here.








Thursday, September 26, 2002

This is just terrible.

I don't know any of the details and I'm not a regular reader of Gerard's 'blog, but from just about every angle (they couldn't even spell his name right!) it seems the full-on witch-hunt has begun. We knew it was coming, right? We didn't think we could live with the phrase "zero-tolerance" (think about that: no tolerance. Nada. Zip. None at all) and not expect the suspicion and black-listing to begin.

Yes, if one is guilty of such abuse it's better they get the whole millstone around the neck and into the sea deal, but remember: that's a two-way street. Mass listingings? "Mistakes were made?" And you've just destroyed someone's reputation? Without even checking to see if the guy's name is spelled correctly? As a manager with employees under me, whose conduct for which I'm held responsible, I ask: what sort of cowardice is that on the part of our bishops? Anyone can put together a list and send it out. It's a great way to convince people you're doing the right thing and to draw the fire away from you. But you had damned well better make sure you spell people's names correctly at the very least.






One day, I decided I deserved an elephant.






That's "The Honorable" Religious Nut to you!






I stole this link from Zorak. Promise me you won't tell. I don't want my head bitten off.

ReemCo Cat Mantis. Not sure if that's Robot Love or Robot Torment. Neither, probably, because it's just radio-controlled, not really a robot. Actually not even. The "controller" is a Tiger Electronics LCD game and the base of the mantis looks like some sort of Builder Bob earthmover vehicle. Still, it's fun to dream. And when you dream, dream of the ReemCo Plecostoma. And you will never sleep again.

Anyway, while I was about coppin' a robble-robble 'tude, I stole this one from the mantis, too, because it's funny: The Onion: Ask the Dauphin. It's also the first Onion article I've read since 1998. How about that.








Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Amy Welborn asks: how would we program EWTN if given the chance?

Here are my suggestions for new programming to be developed, from the comment section to her post (though Gregg the Obscure's and Jeff Miller's suggestions are also riots in themselves):

"Bringing Up Grodi" - Marcus Grodi inherits a farm and a large family -- but who's really in charge? Marcus, the kids, or the cows?
"Fr. Groeshel, The Vampire Slayer" - Keeping the streets of the Bronx safe from the walking undead, Fr. Groeshel and his rag-tag group of CFR brothers take prime-time action to the next level.
"Game Hahn!" - Dr. Scott Hahn hosts this weekly roller-skate street-hockey grudgematch.
"Whose Line Is It Anyway?" - Orthodox priests and headstrong liturgical ministers clash over which parts of the Mass belong to whom.
"Raw Deal" - Deal Hudson is a cop playing by his own rules as he infiltrates the ranks of the VOTF, trying to find the men and women who killed his partner.
"Everybody Loves Popcak" - Licensed therapist and NYC sports writer Greg Popcak teams up with on-screen wife Patricia Heaton as the couple squares-off each week against Greg's overbearing parents, played by Dr. Alice von Hildebrand and Bob Lord.

Some aimed at a younger crowd:
"Fr. George Rutler's Fun With Words" - Fr. Rutler livens up his history of the english language, from its pinnacle in the oratories of Winston Churchill all the way back to its roots in the people of the Indus valley, with historical bon mots in this educational show positioned solidly for the 2-to-4-year-old pre-school market.
"Refute Me or Be Kicked" - Catholic Apologeticist and kickboxing champion Jesse Romero invites a different Evangelical Protestant into the small ring each week on this Catholic apologetics/kickboxing show. Last man standing is right!
"Raymond Arroyo's Taxicab Confessions" - Come cruise the Big Easy with Raymond as Arroyo's hometown provides the perfect place to pick up good fares -- and good confessions.
"NFP Blue" - Each month co-stars Dennis Franz and Debra Monk find new and innovative ways to express their mutual love and affection for each other without intercourse. They are also cops.






Buffy, The Vampire Slayer: Season 7

First off, I can't even believe the show has lasted this long. After both the fifth and sixth seasons I was sure the show was dead, broken for good. But it's now trudged into its seventh season. I think it was pretty clear to the producers that they didn't have any new directions in which to take the show and that it pretty much peaked in its third season (when they blew up the high school real good in order to kill the mayor who'd turned himself into a 60'-long snake demon... long story, great battle). I liked bits of season 4 (mainly the whole Initiative/Cybernetic-Demon angle) but the show officially jumped the shark, in my opinion, when season 5 began by introducing (and summarily dispatching) Count Dracula.

But now we're back for a seventh season and the show has gone back to school. A brand new high school has been built smack dab on top of the (charred remains of the) old one. The principal seems, in contrast to Principal Snyder (who was eaten by the snake demon), like a nice guy (but not as psycho-babbly as Principal Flutie -- who was eaten by a pack of hyena children). But something is definitely amiss. The school is haunted by summoned vengeful spirits, victims of the school whom Buffy couldn't protect, (by whom we don't know) which haunt Buffy and her sister Dawn on Dawn's first day of school. And since the principal's office is built right on top of the Hellmouth, where the library used to be, there's probably more weirdness to come. For example, why is the newly en-souled Spike cooling his heels in the school's basement? Willow and Giles are off in England for Willow's witchy-rehab (she tried to destroy the world last season) and we learn that all life is connected by plant roots with Gaia and the tree spirits and the earth has a mouth with teeth which will swallow us all, bla, bla, bla, yackity-schmackity. But with Tara dead and gone, Willow doesn't have a boudoir scene this episode. This (er, Willow's monologue, not her lack of a bedroom scene) is to signal the season's main evil "Big Bad" -- as the show calls what we gamers would call the "Final Boss" of the season.

Previous seasons have seen this Big Bad be the oldest of all the vampires (The Master), Buffy's boyfriend Angel (though Dru and Spike were in there too), the aformentioned Mayor, Adam the Cybernetic-Human/Demon built by the government, Glory -- a god, and last season brought us... a bunch of nerds (they did do the show a favor and shoot Tara, though). Anyway, there was a nice sequence with Spike where the prime evil (somehow responsible for having a bunch of hooded figures kill a young lady in Istanbul in the show's teaser -- unless that was just some wry commentary on Islam by the show's producers, which I doubt) who is tormenting Spike in his cell (under the school) morphs, in reverse chronological order, into all of the aforementioned Big Bads of the past six seasons -- ending with Buffy herself. It was really really cool to see all of those actors again, especially Harry Groener as the Mayor and Mark Metcalf as The Master. Anyway, while tormenting Spike they drop a hint as to what the prime evil (supposedly older than even the god Glory) this season is all about: it's not about good and evil this time, but power. So the Big Bad this season must be a shape-shifting Friedrich Nietzsche.

Anyway, it looks better than last season (the high school is back and we've already met Dawn's own Scooby Gang Jr.) but we need to remember that even last season started off on a strong note (Buffy-bot! Yay!).








Tuesday, September 24, 2002

This Robot really sucks.

Ha.

It also "dances about like a pool-sweep" (I hope they don't mean "pool boy"?) and won't cross rooms more than 20 feet wide. I guess that's cool.

Thanks to RC for the link!






Jackson to Hollywood: You Can't Afford Free Speech.

I wish we Catholics had it so good. All of our representatives are either too honest to pull this sort of thing off or, if crooked, made out to be hypocrites and run out of the public arena.

(Link stolen unabashedly from Zorak).






Scandals lead execs to 'Atlas Shrugged'.

They should definitely be reading the Bible instead. And also the Inferno.






Over at HMS 'Blog Emily Stimpson discovers FuriousGeorge. It's kind of cute, really, because although the pariculars have been lost long ago in the torpid, swirling bathwater of time, I can still remember my first time.






Okay. My Fantasy Football team, Robot Team #1, got -- as Larry Graham might say -- "stomped, beat-up, and whooped" last weekend, 97-77. I've now dropped to 3/10 in the WorldFraud league with my 2-1-0 record. Bleh. Next week, though, one of my Wide Receivers (I still have no idea what a Wide Receiver does, but never mind) and my back-up defense play Detroit. Aw, yeah. It's win-time.






Whoops.

Okay, deep cleansing breath. Here's some Haiku in English from around the world at the same site:

hot night
the moon nearly full
the mosquitoes too

Johannes Manjrekar
Baroda, Gujarat, India






I have shamelessly pinched from Mark Maier's 'blog the Forbes Fictional 15 list -- yes the list of the 15 wealthiest fictional characters. Go to either Mark's 'blog or the Forbes link (Steve Forbes was our commencement speaker at Hillsdale -- yay!) for the list.

Mark wonders why Robin Masters isn't on the list. I don't know. All I know is that Cobra Commander isn't on the list either and he's got to be at least as wealthy as Richie Rich. How many Rattler jets or Crimson Guard did Richie have? Huh? Zartan and those Dreadnoughts don't come cheaply. And don't even get me started on how much it must've cost to keep Destro in metal polish for all those years.






A brief note on coolness from the comments section directly below: RC recognizes (ironically!) that nothing facilitates the creative process like coolness and I agree and say that nothing is cooler than using things in a manner for which they were never intended. For example: playing Pac-Man (or any old arcade game) on your Kodak digital camera or turning your GameBoy Advance into a webserver (before the project bankrupts you and you have to sell everything -- teach someone to be profane!).

Creative and cool. Do new things with old stuff. And I guess that should be the lesson for me and my frenzied gear lust.








Monday, September 23, 2002

Jonesin'

I need new gear. No, I don't think you heard me: I NEED new gear. See, I've got this project coming up and in order to do it right, I need some new recording equipment otherwise my best efforts and comprehensive artistic vision will not be realized. I figure that first off I need a USB audio interface to put audio more cleanly into the computer. You can get these with a bunch of slick sliders and knobs so you can actually use it as a control surface for your computer's recording software. They run about $500-600. Of course, then I'd need new software, too (Cakewalk Home Studio v8.1 just ain't cuttin' it). So I figure that if I can score the competitive upgrade on Cakewalk's SONAR program, that'll set me back another $250. Of course I'll need some new loops and maybe a software synth or two so figure on another $300 for those (and I can probably get away without the new Roland sound module at that point, so I actually "save" about $700 there). Of course there's no way my 3-year-old PC will be able to handle any of this new software (SONAR requires Windows '98 SE or higher, for one thing) so I'll need to buy a new PC. Something fast, like a 2.4ghz Intel 4. It doesn't need to be a laptop, though that would be cool and facilitate the creative process. So that's about another $1600 (DVD-R/W is a must, just in case I want to do video with it, too). And I already got my Rode microphone, so I'm cool there (unless I want to record in a Church or something and then I'd need another condenser mic for ambience). Is anyone keeping track? That's about $2750, I think -- plus tax which is another $165. Yeesh. Time was I could've dropped that on music gear easy and not thought about the consequences. Man, have I come a long way since then. Still, there's that sick, deprived part of me that will always be jonesin' for the new gear; a true gearaholic never really recovers, they say... Still, if anyone wanted to buy 324 copies of Robot Love... Spare change?






The catalogue of UK Entrances to Hell

Not much I can really say to top the site itself. Except that my favorite entrance, so far, is Tooky, "scene of the devils last minute escape before Christmas 1942, when Al Capone made his ill-advised attempt to kidnap the devil's son Big Joe."

Be sure to follow the safety rules.






Another example of how the Christian Coalition can be thoroughly wack.

I'd really prefer it if the Christian Coalition wouldn't presume to speak for all of Christianity here (as, in fact, they cannot -- one would think the Palestinian Christians would not be in full agreement with the CC on this point). Though -- and I admit I need to get my mind out of the gutter here -- their combined Christian Coalition/Israeli logo on that page (the grey one) cracks me up.






Thanks to Mark Shea, who found this link: Priest who imitates Elvis threatens Anglican schism. The joke is, of course that the Anglican church has become, at least to this ill-informed observer, permissive of a great many things... just not Elvis. From what I do know, however, he probably could've gotten away with dressing up as a Teletubby and cooing his way through liturgies.






Fred Rogers on the responsibility of being an artist and the covenant formed with the viewer/reader .

""You are special to me. Do you know why? Well you see I'm a man who likes to talk and sing with children. So I need someone like you who likes to listen to a man like me. After all, it's you who make your mom a mother and it's you who make your dad a father. And it's really you who make me your special friend. I need you. See why you're so special to me?"

From Fred Rogers' "You Are Special" LP.






I've heard of people with munchies getting KFC but people with KFC getting the munchies?

Thanks to RC (whom you can now find at Catholic Light) for the link.






I am rocking on Super Mario Sunshine. I have 77 Shine Sprites and 93 lives. I'm a long way from the perfect 120 Shine Sprites though.






You're a Dweeb. Buy Our Drink.

Basically, SoBe has pushed the notion of hip exclusivity to its logical conclusion—the product whose very existence mocks the fundamental and unchangeable inadequacies of those who wish to consume it. The result is marketing by taunt.

This is particularly amusing because SoBe is, obviously, a product whose most salient characteristic is phoniness.








Sunday, September 22, 2002

In The Bedroom

That's the name of the movie Jackie and I saw tonight. It got a lot of good press when it was out in the theaters as a film made for adults (as opposed to a lot of films made with adults which are really for adolescents). Also Barbara Nicolosi mentioned in her class that it had Catholic themes in it, and I do love those Catholic themes (which it does have in spades). But several of the reviews I read thought the title came from the fact that many conversations (well a few) between Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson (yes, for all of those who may be wondering, Wilkinson -- who played the head bad guy in the first Rush Hour movie -- does manage a credible American accent, which is a good thing as the movie takes place in Maine) take place in an actual literal bedroom (their own). Anyway, this is not the case. The title of the movie (as the movie itself tells you within the first ten minutes) comes from the lobster cage which is sometimes called a "bedroom". This is because in the "bedroom" there is room enough for two lobsters to chill and be cool until someone comes along to eat them, but if you get a third lobster in there it gets too crowded and bad stuff happens. And therein lies the moral of the story: so too in marriage, there is room for one female lobster with berries and maybe a male lobster, too, but when you throw the Mean Old Lobster of Avarice into the pot (or cage or "bedroom" as the case may be) someone is likely to lose a claw (or indeed THEIR VERY SOUL). In addition to the moral, a bunch of other stuff happens in the movie that I don't want to give away. But the secondary moral is that some people really are too stupid to live so you probably want to make sure you have as many kids as possible to cover your losses.






Who Wants To Be A Dozen-aire?

Kind of a slow night. Jackie and I watched two Game Show Network original gameshows (where contestants compete for thousands of dollars, instead of hundreds of thousands): "Russian Roulette", where an incorrect answer wins you the chance to drop through a hole in the floor (really) and "Friend or Foe", a rather fascinating constestant-driven show where three teams of two people each work to earn money and then have the option of either sharing it (if the two players trust each other) or totally screwing the other person over (if they trust you and you stab them in the back, you get it all and they get nada) at the end. It's also hosted by ex-MTV-VJ Kennedy, who made an obscure Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 reference on tonight's show (I still don't think that gaming culture has really penetrated the popular-culture at large so any reference to Pro Skater 3 is going to be obscure in my book). It's nice that she's found work, though. Both shows, however, are an example of just the indelible mark "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" has left on the gameshow landscape in terms of set-design, audio-design, and lighting-design and an example of the equally-indelible mark "The Weakest Link" has left in terms of a complete lack of contestant coddling (though the host of "Russian Roulette" was rather nice about dropping people through holes in the floor -- kind of weird to have the gameshow end and have NO contestants standing around clapping... they'd all been dropped, every one).








Saturday, September 21, 2002

Kathryn Lively is funny! Blogs4God.com is having a logo contest. I don't suppose Lively's "Borgs4God" logo below has a shot of winning, but it was too humorous to not post here (plus, she graciously allowed me to do so). Click the logo to visit her 'blog.

Borgs4God


Kind of makes you wonder if there's a fanfic story out there about a subsect of evangelizing Borg and if not perhaps it's time somebody wrote one.






It must really rock to be Mel Gibson. Not only do you get to make an authentic Jesus film, but you get to film it in Latin and Aramaic without subtitles. As long as no one chickens out along the way, this sounds like it'd be pretty cool. Hopefully, too, this makes Jim Caviezel the next Mel.








Friday, September 20, 2002

Armin Shimerman threw open the door, his bare chest glistening in the light of the full moon. "Tonight, I will be your Ferengi," he growled.

Kathryn Lively has an interesting post on her 'blog about Fan-Fiction (you know, where fans sit down and right stories about their favorite television characters -- a great example of which is a rollicking-good work I recently came across which took as its inspiration the hypothetical positing of what would happen if Sarah Michelle Gellar's Buffy the vampire slayer and her mentor Giles the librarian, circa season two, were locked in the library and... er, perhaps we'd better never mind). Anyway, the interesting thing is that works of the fan-fiction sub-genre "RPF" (or Real Person Fiction -- fiction involving real people) have sort of become opera-non-grata among the fan-fiction elite, and Kathryn has a great deal to offer as to an explanation.

She is also surprised that at FanFiction.net, where RPF will no longer be kept, there was, at one time, a number of Who's Line Is It Anyway? stories. This comes as no surprise to me, however, because I already knew that Colin Mochrie has a legion of overly-devoted 14-year-old fans with copies of Macromedia Flash (again, a program which should be strictly regulated by the government and only sold to those who absolutely have a demonstrated need for it). Watch these and be afraid (also amused and possibly scarred, but mainly afraid). Specifically I'm thinking of "Hyakugojyuuichi!!" (not suitable for small children) but many other animations there are equally bizarre and Mochrie-filled ("Lesko's Revenge" for example). I haven't watched all of the others so surf at your own risk, but the ones I have seen are pretty astute observations on American popular-culture as filtered through the lens of Japanese Pokemon songs. Here's the guy's main page.






Firefly

We just watched the series premiere of Firefly. Here's all you need to know about the show: while it's set in the future (500 years) and in space, the show is a Western. It is a Western set about six years after the end of the US Civil War and the protagonists (some of them, including the captain and the first-mate) fought for the "Independents" side (against the victorious "Alliance"). Also, the writers and producers of the show appear to be treating all of their (fascinating) characters fairly, so I, for one, can't wait to see what is done with the priest ("Shepherd") character, Book. The doctor character, too, protective of her "government-experient" sister (both of whom are on the lam) seems to be shaping up nicely: it's been a while since we've seen a doctor intentionally dope-up the rowdy and injured cowboy (Stephen Baldwin) to relieve him of his (temporary) command of the ship.

The show is funny, filled with ethical choices on the parts of all of the characters, and features some top-notch Lucas-grade CG sets and effects (the old-Western hover-train was especially well-done). Also, I've heard that the Joss Whedon, executive producer, has made certain that no matter which of the first five episodes you start watching you will be able to pick up the story. So next Friday night at 8pm on I'll see you on-board the Serenity.






One thing I get asked often in my travels is "What is Mike Nelson up to?" And so I say "Mike Nelson?" And they say "Yeah, you know: the guy from Mystery Science Theater 3000... the one who wasn't high all the time." And I say "Ohhhh! Mike Nelson!" And they say "Yeah! What's he up to?" And I say "I don't know." And then I look down at my shoes until the other person walks away disappointed and confused.

Well no more. I know that Nelson's web project "Timmy Big Toes" is, alas, no more... and I've read the first of his two books... but what is Mike Nelson up to these days? I shall take it upoin myself to find out.







Robert Gotcher has a very nice 'blog!

Though I still say that genuflection (at the least) is the sign of respect you show a King. Posture, bodily gestures, movement -- all of these have meaning, real and literate meaning, which can be 'read' not only in our own hearts but by those in the culture around us.

It brings to mind the Protestant who told the Catholic:

"You Catholics don't really believe that the Eucharist is Jesus Christ."

"What are you talking about? Of course we do!"

"No, you don't. If I believed that that was really Jesus Christ up there, I'd be flat on my face on the ground."






Let’s Have More Teen Pregnancy - by Frederica Mathewes-Green

Hey -- I'm all for it! And I thank Frederica Mathewes-Green for saying it! We have to make sure the necessary support is there, of course, in either their families, peer groups, or the culture-at-large. It's not fair to the folks expressing their sexuality properly in marriage at an age when that sort of thing comes most readily and immediately if we're only going to be cramming the old "wait until you know who you are" or "you got married too young" stuff down their necks. But if any kid of mine came to me at age 18 or 19 and said "Hey, pops! Me and Cindy-Lou (or whomever) wanna get hitched," I'd much more readily give them my blessing than have them shack-up or even date seriously with all of those frustrations. Besides, it's the only nearly-certain way of making sure they don't wind up back in the house.






Does "unity" necessarily imply "mediocrity" -- at least as far as the Church in this country is concerned? Where's this coming from? Well, from the dicussion of the Mercedes Principle over at HMS 'Blog and from the whole Eucharistic im-posture flap (on this 'blog and elsewhere).

Stay tuned: the answer may surprise you (and it'll probably surprise me, too, because I haven't thought this one through yet).






An not-entirely urgent petition for help

Seems that WebTrends Live (they're not getting a link from me!) is discontinuing their "free" website statistics service and I will soon (like, in the next couple days) be in need of another "free" website statistics service. Are there any out there which are recommended for their robustness and fulness of feature-sets? WebTrends, maybe a year or so back, discontinued the little thingie where you could see which google searches brought people to your site, and I've missed that. I haven't changed, though, up until now because it means I have to go through and change every page on my site (yes, yes, I know: I could just use a div tag or something and create a symbolic link to a flat file containing the code... maybe I'll do that). Any suggestions?






"You're on a first-name basis with lucidity, Arthur! I have to call it 'Mr. Lucidity' and that's no good in a pinch!" - The Tick

David Alexander has, dateline September 19 (links aren't working... a-gain), a brilliant post about the whole "you can take your Communion walking" (er, standing) controversy. He puts the issue in its proper perspective and states clearly what I was trying to intimate in my own unwaveringly dizzy fashion: "I'm not even sure the 'order' is even binding" so "[s]imply genuflect while the guy in front of you is receiving, then receive on the tongue and call it a day."

He also links, in the same post, to this site (a sort of Catholic Drudge Report, but more frenetic) which links, in return to this unfortunate accident, The Church of the Good Shepherd in State College, PA. "The ambry, the wall-mounted cabinet, is located on the rear west wall of the worship space. ... Thus, the Oils are given a place of dignity and reverence." Wanna guess where they put the Lord (remember Him)? Do a search (on that webpage) for "tabernacle". Right. Nothing. And where are the kneelers, eh? "Kneeling is a posture suited to private, personal prayer; kneeling tends to close out people around us. This should never occur in liturgy." You know what else should never occur in liturgy? Me kicking you in the back of your knees so that you fall on your face and show some reverence for the Lord, that's what.

"For similar reasons, our worship space also has no statues, no votive lights, and no stations." Uh, what reasons might those be? Self-idolatry and communalism? I was about to say that there were some buildings in Pennsylvania that I wouldn't mind seeing an (unmanned) plane fall on but that would be insensitive and that's not the new Victor.

[And you should see what got edited out from this post! --ed.]






Jackie and I watched the second episode of the remake of "A Family Affair" on the WB. Perhaps there is no justice in this world; Susan Sarandon is winning Academy Awards and Tim Curry is... playing Mr. French. (But he does it so deliciously well!).








Thursday, September 19, 2002

Note to all would-be Iron Chef challengers: radishes coated with strawberry-lemonade powder is not the latest serendipitous innovation in cuisine.

I really wish I had some change for the vending machines.






Well, if you insist upon watching all of those silly cop shows and cop movies, you should at least know what the radio codes mean.

Los Angeles PD Radio Signal Codes






CONGRATULAIONS, Mark and Christy!






Well! Lash me to the mizzenmast, keelhaul me, and call me Shirley!

RC writes in the comments section to my knee-jerky post immediately below (the one I probably should delete but, let's face it, there are far greater impediments to the cause for my Sainthood than that single post):
Belay that talk, matey. There are a couple of distinct points involved here(1) kneeling vs standing while receiving Holy Communion: the US bishops opted for standing back around 1970 -- since the Missal gives each Bishops Conference the authority to choose this -- so the announcement that standing is the one true licit posture is no news. It's only been noticed because the rule was re-issued as part of the "American Adaptations" to the new Roman Missal.

[Two positive things about these ancient changes are herein snippeted, though I would encourage you to read it in the comments]

More at http://www.adoremus.org/0602AmAdaptations.html.


Good stuff and I hope someone passes along the Adoremus material (I must not have received or -- more likely -- read that issue of Adoremus Bulletin yet) to Emily Stimpson.






When I was in Steubenville, OH, this past weekend, at Mass at the chapel on-campus, the priest mentioned that their bulletin that Sunday would contain the proper posture for receiving Communion. This was, specifically, in reference to the recent directive from the USCCB that the only proper posture for receving the Eucharist is standing. Obviously this has caused some confusion around the country not least of which at the (as I observed) intensely pious Franciscan University. Emily Stimpson, then, of HMS 'Blog asks folks who remember the pre-conciliar Church (a group to which I do not belong) what were there thoughts when the altar rails were ripped out and kneeling was not made the norm in this post here.

Granted there's a long way from saying "this is the preferred posture" to "this is the official and only acceptable posture". One is likely to be left, as I am, scratching one's head wondering how we got there.

On the USCCB website there's this notice from the office of communications from this past February stating the the Vatican had approved a document which would allow the US Bishops their provence in setting postures... but to go from that to outright denying folks their right (and I dare say it is a right) to show obeisance to their Lord?

For reference, here is the Committee of the Liturgy document which specifies that standing is to be the norm. "These norms may require some adjustment on the part of those who have been used to other practices, however the significance of unity in posture and gesture as a symbol of our unity as members of the one body of Christ should be the governing factor in our own actions."

In other words: you can take your personal devotion and piety and just ram it up your snout because you're making the rest of us look like a bunch of heathenous layabouts.

Or, as Steve Taylor sang, "I want to be a clone."

I would say keep on genuflecting or kneeling, if that's what you do, so long as you don't cause other folks to trip over you. Maybe that's disobedience talkin' there, but I think this is one of the more nutty things to come out of the USCCB in a while (in these days of only 40% or so Catholic acceptance of the Real Presence it is precisely the time to encourage GREATER reverence for the Eucharist, not to diminish it) and I expect it this new injunctive to be "re-examined" by the USCCB in time.

Until then, here's a great big "Way to go, Chief!" to the US Bishops for further alienating the pious faithful from their Church.






"Computer! You are so stuupid!"

Yes, somehow a very charming and massive post I'd just written got ate. Next time I'll (ugh!) write it in Word and paste it in. Until, then, however, I have only this to say: "Arrrrr!"

Yes, it be Talk Like a Pirate day. In honor of the occasion, I post the following links to two songs (you may have to right-click-save-link-as on my song because I still haven't figured out the ma-ma-ma-mime types) about Pirates and Sea Captains.

The Original Brothers and Sisters of Love - "The Legende of Jeb Minor" (rm format)
Victor Lams - "Captain Bigshot, Part I" (mp3 format)






As promised, here is my response to Justin Katz's response to my lengthly post below. My reply is brief because Justin and I (and most Christians, I would hope) actually see eye-to-eye for most of this. The only place we differ is where we (as I see it) draw the line and give up on evangelizing our fellow humans. Justin writes:
There are true monsters in real life. Fictional monsters are monstrous and wicked incidentally (Frankenstein) or as a matter of nature (vampires). Humans have the ability to choose their course — to choose to heed God's urging or to refuse to hear it. Some merely slip, as Victor is claiming to have done in the past; some act out of misunderstanding; and some are beyond the ability of man to change. And we must realize this; there must be a point at which, even as we extend our own forgiveness for harm done (our last attempt to draw out the human Christ), we declare, "This is evil. This is monstrous. This is unacceptable in the eyes of men and God."

I would agree to a point and that point is implied, though not stated explicity, in the excerpt above. If I'm reading him right, Justin feels that there is a point at which attempts for conversion must necessarily end. I'm not entirely convinced of this, and allow me to work out an alternate view. While we can and do declare that this action is evil and not give the actor a clean slate, that does not mean that we can ever stop in our mission of changing their heart, turning them towards Christ. We must never let our anger obscure that fact that first and foremost, this individual is sick and suffering... In a word: this individual, no matter how "monstrous" they appear is Christ. Even with all of their turmoil and rancor, the festering sin which oozes from their every pore, no human being is a monster: just a creature formed by God in His own image. A creature, I state again, who is sick and in need. Our goal as Christians is to do simply, as St. Francois De Salles said, "all things through love and nothing through constraint." We should never be motivated out of anything but love for Christ and love for our neighbor, no matter how monstrous they (our neighbors) appear.

And people may get hurt in the process, I admit that. Christ's way is the way of martyrs. But we take comfort in knowing that the rejoicing in heaven over one who has strayed from Christ and returned to the fold will be great -- far, far greater than if we were to simply cut our losses and give up on them, acting in a constrained and reactionary fashion, unmotivated purely by love.

Albeit, Justin seems to be arguing from one extreme: the extreme where Hitler and Osama bin Laden live. I admit it is more compelling and more of a "stress test" for one's beliefs to argue from such an extreme. Realistically, though, I expect never to cross paths with such people (though perhaps more folks, including myself, should act so as to cross paths with such folks in order to evangelize them). I expect to have more commerce with fallen-away family members or the sort of folks one meets at work or in the grocery store: folks who, like myself, are all sick from the same disease, the same disease from which Hitler and Osama bin Laden suffered: a lack of Christ. For whatever reason we have been given the opportunity and the responsibility to help direct our neighbors towards the cure. Let us pray that we, as physicians of the soul, never opt for the easy way out; even as some of our contemporaries, the physicians of the body, struggle to do just that for their own patients. If euthanasia of the mortal body is a grave and serious evil, consider how much more grave and serious euthanasia of the soul must be.






Here's something fun for you to do (this is the play-along-at-home portion of et cetera).

Step 1: Go to google.com.

Step 2: In the search box, type in "go to hell" (all lowercase, with the quotes).

Step 3: Click on the "I'm Feeling Lucky" box -- not the Google Search button.

Step 4: Laugh.

Thanks to RC for passing this one along.








Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Very cool!

I just learned that my old cartooning buddy from Hillsdale College (6pm Tuesday would usually find us both at the sole copy machine in the Library resizing our cartoons for that week's Collegian. The paper paid three dollars a cartoon which was usually enough to keep me in Twizzlers for another week), Sam Torode, and his wife, Bethany, (creators of Torode Design and authors of Open Embrace: A Protestant Couple Rethinks Contraception) will be on Al Kresta's radio program this coming Monday (September 23rd) at around 4:30pm or so. Hopefully AveMariaRadio.net is streaming again by then.






Justin Katz has a thoughtful response to my lengthly post below (the revelatory CWF Part III): here's his response Dust in the Light - 09/18/2002: "The Cycle of Revelation, Complication, Contemplation, Revelation". I intend to reply to this, (however briefly, time permitting, etc.) later on tonight. Until then I encourage you to read it so you'll know where my response is coming from.






Fr. George Rutler's very nice review of Catholics: Britain's Largest Minority.






Shiver me hornpipe! Be tomorrow, September 19th, Talk Like A Pirate Day? I'll be expectin' the lot of you to weigh anchor with me smartly. To help ye, here's a sheaf o' Pirate Glossary for ye.

As someone around here just said: "You'd best be singing a chantey and talking like a pirate or you'll be gettin' a taste of the cat! Remember, dead men tell no tales, and if you don't use pirate lingo, I'll be placin' the Black Spot on ya."

Oh, and "Arrrrrr!"






Brickshelf Gallery -- The Fellowship of the Ring

In LEGOS! Be sure you click on the Hornburg Battle picture to get some great pictures of the action. The Baggins Estate also has some rather nice details. The Ring Wraiths are also nicely done.






CWF Log, Part III: Sunday, September 15th

A word of advisement: this is by far the longest post I have ever ‘blogged. It’s likely the longest post I ever will ‘blog. For that reason I encourage you to read it. If you would prefer, you may divide the reading of this post up into more manageable sections by stopping at each division marked thusly: ***. If you choose not to read the whole thing: hey! – no skin off my nose!

Up at 8am for Mass at Franciscan University's campus chapel. Very nice Mass (can't remember the last time I've seen six concelebrants) though the choir of young women should be advised that, while Bernadette Peters doesn't do it a great deal, it is indeed all right to pronounce your "r"s while you're singing. Other than that they sang beautifully and the sermon on forgiveness undoubtedly, though not in any sort of obvious and redundant way, contributed to my spiritual conversion later that day.

After Mass it was back to Damon's (at the hotel) for Brunch served by a hyperactive trio of the elderly (apparently Brunch is a dish best served by those over sixty). They earned their tip. The only conference attendee I noticed immediately was the lady with the rose-colored glasses, a publisher though I never learned her name nor for whom she published. After brunch I checked out of the hotel and made it back up the hill to hear Dr. Kazimierz Braun deliver his talk on covenant and the artist, complete with slides of the rainbow in art. It was a very good talk and I hope to see it published some day so I can enjoy it again. It was an amazing presentation and I cannot do it justice here -- even if my memory were not so faulty. The understanding, though, that I took away from it is that just as God forms covenants with His people, each with their own physical sign, so too does the artist form a covenant with their reader (or viewer) with the work of art itself as a sign. In this sense, as I understand it, the artist has a responsibility to and for the well-being of those who read (or view) their art. Dr. Scott Hahn had a brief reply to Dr. Braun's paper basically saying, as we all felt, "Wow." Someone asked the question, then, in the open-question period: what to do when secular institutions or groups co-opt Christian religious imagery. If Dr. Braun had been aware of the current meaning of "rainbow" he may've had something to say on this point, but he was not familiar with that particular case of symbol co-option. (It was, however, very cute to see that the aging playwright had brought his wife with him to the conference and she could be seen, during each of his presentations, camera in hand snapping photographs of her husband).

After this, though, was the presentation of Dr. Braun's play "Tamara L." I have to say here, without going off on another boring tangent, just how important an art form to me, personally, is drama (the theatre). I was involved with the theatre group at Hillsdale College and I do believe that it's the most authentic, deeply and satisfyingly meaningful, and immediately apprehensible of all the arts. All of them. Beacuse it's REAL PEOPLE you're watching. Embodiment. Like the priest at Mass (though the Mass, is most certainly not drama). Dr. Braun did not disappoint.

***

The play, while fictional, was based nonetheless on a real historical figure: early 20th-century Polish artist and Art Deco figurehead Tamara de Lempicka. The play centers around this painting of Lempicka's, Mother Superior which stands out from among the vast majority of Lempicka's paintings as the character a) is not clearly a lesbian with visible nipples and b) does not have vacant, listless eyes. Tamara L. has come to an Itialian monastery in the late 1930s to paint the Mother Superior, but also as she is feeling full and well the meaningless in her life. The Mother Superior, we come to learn, is well aware of Tamara's work (and lifestyle) as she had earned a doctorate in Modern Art before her own retreat to the Monastery. This does not become the cloying "180-degree conversion story" you'd think it might become, were you not familiar with Polish drama. What it was was a fair, deeply poignant, deeply conflicted dialogue brilliantly acted by the young Franciscan actor playing Tamara L (seriously, her performance blew my mind -- that I should see a performance of this calibre at Franciscan University!). Anyway, the production brought tears to my eyes -- twice. Immediately apprehended was the pain of the artist who takes on all the ugliness of the world, tries to tame it, to make it beautiful, to make it meaningful, only to fall victim to that same ugliness, that same nihilism. The tears of the Mother Superior in the painting are not the Mother Superior's tears, but Tamara's own, shed for her own lost soul. This, of course, strikes Tamara as repugnant, loathesome, and a sign of her own weakness and reliance on something greater than herself and her endless quest to seek gratification in the arms of whatever man, woman, drug, or bottle in which she can find it.

But -- souls can be regained. And the play ends on an up beat as the Mother Superior insists (after persuading Tamara not to destroy the painting) that it is the "rule" that the Mother Superior should walk the guest to the gate. Over Tamara's objections, the old Mother Superior further helps the artist with her heavy art supplies and as the two women walk off the stage towards the audience Tamara asks, implying the whole conflicted long dark night of the soul the two women have survived together, though referring to the simple act of kindness on the part of the old nun in helping her carry her gear, "And is this also the rule?" "No," replies the old Mother Superior. "This is the Gospel."

I really hope the one-act play is published and performed by other drama groups around the country. Trust me: I've seen good theatre and I've seen bad theatre and this was seriously good theatre.

After the play was over there was a panel discussion with Dr. Braun, Barbara Nicolosi, playwright Buzz McLaughlin, and Regis Martin (I believe). This was by far the most interesting part of the entire festival as you had the screenwriter and Hollywood insider (Nicolosi), popular playwright (McLaughlin), old-school playwright (Dr. Braun), and Catholic writer (Martin, I believe) hash out their differences (with the audience, too!) and what came out of that discussion really brought into focus, for me, what we, as Catholics, are to be doing with our work, our writing, our art.

***

Essentially, I came away from the discussion with the impression, not hopefully unique to myself, that there was something quintessentially Christ-like in the suffering of the Tamara character in the play. Sure, she’d lived a life a Christian would have to consider to be “immoral” but one wonders that if she didn’t have to do it, another artist might have. Again, it has been suggested that all of the ugliness of a culture is thrust upon the artist with the injunctive to make something beautiful of it, no matter the internal torment this may cause the artist. As such, the artist suffers for the sickness of the culture. In fact, further, it is because the artist is quite so often sick herself that she is able to so accurately understand the illness of the culture. Is this inner torment, this sickness integral to the artist? I certainly hoped not. But if it was? We are all, in that we are not Christ, sick to varying degrees. I thought about this as I said my goodbyes to the other attendees at the conference and pointed the car towards home.

What would be my role, then? Could I ever feel truly satisfied, truly worthy by not writing? Certainly the culture needs healing and people, artists, to make sense out of its ugliness. Since the culture’s ugliness to some degree resides within me, I can understand it. And since, also, Christ resides within me, I know the cure for the ugliness. But how to best lead people to the cure – or to even make them aware that they are sick? Surely this is where fiction comes in: the novel, the screenplay. Would I ever be able to help people in some small shadow of the way Walker Percy’s novels saved me those five years ago?

These thoughts guided me for the first 200 miles, or so, of my journey homeward. It was not until I reached Ann Arbor, one town from home, when the full impact hit me and a veil was torn away.

If the artist becomes sick and suffers and if even the most seemingly healthy of Catholics can become an artist… what then? If there is something Christ-like in the hedonist, drug-addled, bi-sexual character of Tamara L. what does this mean for the rest of the people on this planet? In an instant I found myself shaking (though keeping the car solidly on the road, I should add). Suddenly it all became perfectly clear:

There are no terrorists. There are no gays. There are no criminal executives at work bankrupting their employees and investors. There are no corrupt politicians. There are no Arabs, no Iraqis, no abortionists, no Americans, no Catholics, no Protestants, no pedophile priests, no mealy-mouthed Bishops, no victims. There is only Jesus. Jesus suffering. Jesus in need of our help. People sick and suffering and desperately miserable to various degrees who need Jesus, though they may not even realize that He is what they need or even that they are sick at all. In an instant I felt twenty years of anger, twenty years of bitter frustration towards all of the people I thought I resented fall away from me. I had been accomplishing nothing with my anger and yet I thought I needed it. I thought I needed it to sustain me, to keep my going, to give me something to fight for. In fact, it had only clouded my vision. Tears began to pour down my face. “Thank you, Jesus,” I cried – as He had just removed perhaps the heaviest of my burdens, the one keeping me most from Him and from giving myself completely to those around me.

I was crying too, though, because everything had suddenly become perfectly clear. I didn’t need to save the world. I didn’t need to set my jaw resolutely and to angrily do battle with the hordes of Vandals at the gate. That’s not my job. My job isn’t even to chastise or mock or ridicule them. My job is only to help diagnose their illness and hopefully, perhaps though my writing (?), to help them understand how sick they really are – how sick we all are. And then to merely indicate in which direction lies the Cure. Jesus will do the rest.

I tried to regain my composure the best I could before I pulled into our driveway. I’d been away for almost three days and Jackie would surely wonder if I pulled-up in tears. As I entered the house she noticed my puffy red eyes and commented that I looked as though I’d just been in a fight. I told her everything immediately for, indeed, I just had.

Since then, since Sunday (the relevance of this week’s Gospel is not lost on me, for I believe it, and the Eucharist, to be the Keys which unlocked my experience) I have been thinking: what does this mean for the Church? What does it mean to truly forgive? To realize that the people we call monsters, those who plowed four planes into the buildings and into the ground last September weren’t monsters at all: they were people, God’s creatures, suffering as we all suffer – as Christ suffered. They were sick in exactly the same way we all are sick when we do not have Christ living within us – sick with anger, with avarice, with spite, misery, hatred, malice, jealousy, sloth, greed, lust, pride: evil – I’ve had at one time or another a bad case of them all. But what do we as Christians do then, one we realize this? How do we bring others to Christ? How do we help Him cure them? How do we help Him cure ourselves?

I don’t know how long this new insight will last. Likely it will fade and be forgotten in time and I’ll either turn my attention towards writing – towards culture diagnosis and towards showing people their, our, my own illness and the Cure – or I won’t. For now, though, I take comfort in the realization that for now I’ve lost my anger – and, Lord, I never thought I’d be so happy to be rid of it. Thank you, Jesus.








Tuesday, September 17, 2002

South Africa's Sesame Street Gets HIV Muppet

"We can't continue to have HIV positive children isolated, demonized, victimized. We want to make all of our children feel comfortable," [Education Minister Kader Asmal] said.

I think this is actually pretty wonderful. But it does raise one physiological (and disturbingly so) question: does this mean that Muppets bleed?






Here's a 'blog I'd never read before (until I did a google search on my own name -- c'mon, everyone does it -- and found it): E-Pression

Very nice 'blogging by a member of my own generation (the Cartoon Network Generation) -- though I must admit I'm much more of a Moltar guy myself.






At least WorldCom's fraudulent practices were more or less legitimate... You know, leasing company jets to executives for $1 a year, transferring line costs to cap-ex... that sort of thing.

But now there's news that Tyco has uncovered $100 million in fraudulent employee bonuses, including a $6,000 shower curtain for the CEO's apartment and $1 million for his wife's birthday party last year which included -- this is the best -- "an ice sculpture of Michelangelo's David with vodka streaming from his penis into crystal glasses."

Now, since I am half-Flemish and since we did give the world manniken pis I can tell you that there are ways of doing the whole "peeing sculpture" thing tastefully -- but not with Michelangelo's David. Why? Well, I simply don't have time to explain to you right now why this is so wrong.

Though if you have to have an ice-sculpture pee anything, alcohol is probably the best option since its evaporation temperature is so much less than water's, it wouldn't erode the tracts of the scupture through convection.






You've really got to hand it to some people for staying cool in a situation like this. Most of us would've just gone to pieces and that would've been the end of it.






Thanks to Greg Popcak, we have a link to The Lord's Prayer in Klingon. I didn't know that The Lord's Prayer translated into Klingon but I guess that's what the little bat'leth illustration is for.

And for those uninitiated among you who do not know what a bat'leth is... here you go.






Back at work now I find not only 300 emails to munge through but also that my Fantasy Football team, Robot Team #1, is first in our league! There are 10 teams in our league all managed by die-hard football fans, so that's pretty cool. Jimmy Smith doesn't play this weekend, though, so I don't expect to do too well.






CWF Log, Part II: Saturday, September 14, 2002

I awoke somewhat reluctantly at 7:52am. So much for 8am Mass (daily Mass -- which includes Saturday -- is the custom at FSU for students and faculty and apparently conference goers as well). Breakfast was coffee courtesy of the ready-to-brew filter packets in the hotel room (I have come to LOVE in-room coffee.. whoever thought of that is a genius). I showered, shaved and drove the 300 feet (straight up) from the hotel to FSU. It was also around this time that I learned that (apparently) Franciscan University of Steubenville has, on or immediately near to its property, real life government project housing. I imagine this enhances the whole ministry aspect of the college but to me the arrangement seems less than ideal.

I did manage to snag a dougnut, thanks to the conference which provided them and met, all too briefly, the winsome Emily Stimpson who soon disappeared to, herself, grab a doughnut. My own doughtut (filled with strawberry jelly as that seemed the healthiest option availble to this non-doughnut eater) had seemingly been powdered with confectioner's sugar some time after the glaze had solidified such that one bite sent white inconvenience showering down over my shirt and shoes. I dusted myself off, however, and made it to the first session on time. Sandwiched between Barbara Nicolosi's two presentations (which were superb, which were what I'd come all that way to see, and which I will carry with me forever -- at least until such a time as I can attend one of the Act One programs she offers), there was a talk by some Polish playwright named Dr. Kazimierz Braun. Dr. Braun has three PhDs, countless plays, at least one novel in English (and 24 other books), and many many years of teaching to his credit. He also participated in Karol Wojtyla's theatre workshops while Wojtyla was Archbishop of Krakow. I enjoyed very much his talk on prayer and craft in the writer's life. I also learned a great deal more than I'd known (which was nothing) about Polish poets and playwrights. It was not until the next day, Sunday, however, that I learned what a truly brilliant playwright Dr. Braun is. The one-act drama presented then contributed to my genuine conversion on the ride home. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

After lunch, which was provided though I somehow sat at one of two seats in the entire place which didn't get served before the lunches ran out -- though the dining hall staff was gracious enough to heat something up in a microwave which I scarfed down, it was time again to listen to Ron Hansen who told a humorous and as-yet-unpublished story about disposing of a dead dog's corpse and took questions from the audience. He mentioned that when he does not write he feels physically ill. I haven't written any music in a long time and I think that's why I've been so sick (though not necessarily physically) lately. We'll see about that. Ron Hansen then said that he feels ill even when he is writing, and I can appreciate that too. Since Barbara Nicolosi had mentioned it at dinner the day before, I asked Ron about the movie adaptation of Mariette In Ecstacy. He humorously related that movie's unforunate development and merciful demise -- though complete it will never (and I think we can all be thankful for this, from what I've heard) never again see the light of bulb.

The last presentation that day was delivered by an overall-clad Marcus Grodi who'd just published his first novel. The thing I admire most about Marcus Grodi is his genuine and unaffected manner of speaking. He used his recent farming experiences and tribulations as a metaphor for the new novelist's struggle -- and did so very effectively. I rather enjoyed it. And after this talk it was time for dinner, for which Mrs. Kathryn Lively was gracious enough to leave her station at the FrancisIsadore E-Press table to join me for a discussion about Star Trek, rewrites, and how to pace one's self while writing a novel. After dinner it was back up the hill for the writer's roundtable with the most eminent participant being Ralph McInerny -- the conference's only smoker -- he is a true writer and philosophy professor -- and also at the same time its eldest participant (from what I could see). I also learned from Bud McFarlane, Jr., that the best way to get your book into the hands of hundreds of thousands of readers is to have Michael O'Brien help you with the rewrite and also to give it away. Also -- of course -- to write a good book to begin with. I've started reading the first of his novels and I don't know yet if it falls into the CATHOLIC FICTION trap (which is, of course, that it screams "I AM CATHOLIC FICTION!!!" before it screams "I AM A GREAT STORY!" but I'm only on page three).

After the roundtable I headed upstairs to listen to a group of kids who seemed to range in age from about six to thirteen playing traditional American and Irish music while a bunch of children (we're talking pre-High School age here) squaredanced and many many small children ran around. This was weird to see on a college campus (made more so by the lack of actual college students) even considering my matriculation at Hillsdale. I think I would've gone nuts at FUS. Or I would've become holy. Or both. But probably gone nuts first.

I did finally meet up with the second of the two of the conference's attendees who had actually written screenplays (eight of them). A FUS grad named John W. who did join me for a drink at the hotel bar to discuss movies and writing in general, shared some insight on the actual screenwriting process which was invaluable. After this, and another phone call to Jackie, it was time for bed. Mass was at 9am and counting the long drive, I did have a long day ahead of me.

But I had absolutely no idea how sublime a day it would turn out to be and how it would change my life forever. Indeed, I still do not know how my life has changed. I'm now grasping for the few remaining memories of that vision, that insight -- to retain them and hopefully to allow them to grow.








Monday, September 16, 2002

CWF Log, Part I: Friday, September 13, 2002

All right, this isn't so much a log as a retelling of the events of the past weekend. I left Plymouth, MI, at around 11:15am MapBlast directions in hand with the intent of making it to The Franciscan University of Steubenville by 7pm at the very latest (when Ron Hansen was scheduled to deliver his keynote address). I made one stop on the Ohio Turnpike (it was at one of the nice service plazas: it had a Starbucks and a Panera Bread) and made it through the mountains to Steubenville by a quarter of five. I checked in at the hotel and then drove up the hill (the University is built on a series of small hills on top of a really big hill) to register. It was sunny and hot and the campus was teeming with really healthy-looking students (no anemic or mawkish and moping goths here!) and I was nearly mistaken for one of them by the conference's director. After registering I wandered around the college for a bit so I'd know where everything was. The atmosphere was not unlike Hillsdale in that it was very quiet and very clean. What is unlike Hillsdale, though, is the Catholic nature of the University -- including an adoration chapel on-campus. As I walked by it I noticed a couple of dozen backpacks and shoes by the door and many students inside in Eucharistic adoration. At the beginning the wood-chip-lined path which led past the stations of the cross I noticed more sandals indicating that some folks were walking it barefoot. I thought I'd check it out but it was very hot. And since I didn't want to be accidentally struck by any low-flying levitating Franciscan students, I went back to the hotel.

The Holiday Inn in Steubenville, Ohio, has a Damon's Rib joint built right into it which is cool so I went there for dinner. I had a yummy salad and a couple of cups of coffee. As I finished the second cup of coffee I noticed Ron Hansen seated at a table nearby with some old folks. He must be staying in the hotel, I thought. Then I noticed Barbara Nicolosi, who runs the annual month-long Act One program for Christian screenwriters, seated alone at a nearby table. Since her two sessions were pretty much the main reason I'd come all that way to the conference, after I finished my coffee and paid for my meal I wandered over and introduced myself saying that I had seen her on EWTN and read all the books she recommended on that program. She invited me to sit down and have a cup of coffee (she'd not yet received her meal) but the chip in my head said to me "Coffee? You just had two cups. You don't want to overdo it." so I said no thanks and left.

Once outside I called Jackie and said "You'll never believe who I jut ran in to! Barbara Nicolosi! She asked me if I wanted to have a cup of coffee with her!" "Uh, why are you talking to me?" Jackie said. "Get back in there!!!" So I went back in and sat down and ordered some dessert (and another cup of coffee) and had a nice conversation (I thought) with Miss Nicolosi about the conference, movies, and Walker Percy (she'd just read "Love in the Ruins" and was nonplussed by it, wondering why Catholics would claim Percy as a "catholic writer". I was stunned -- given Nicolosi's public and often-stated affinity for Flannery O'Connor -- but then realised that "Love in the Ruins" is really a "guy" book. Percy is really, thinking about it now, a writer for "guys" (not necessarly for men or for males). I recommended, "The Second Coming" as that book tends to be more accessible for folks not of the guy persuasion. Anyway, I helped out with the tip and gave her a ride up the hill (none of the maps mention that the 200 feet from which the hotel is away from the University is 200 feet STRAIGHT UP) and she offered to give me a copy of her book on screenwriting which she was selling for $15 -- and it's the most concise book yet on dos/don'ts, formatting, etc, I've seen) -- in exchange. So that was neat. She asked what I was hoping to get out of the conference and I decided right then that it was to discern whether or not I should spend any more of my precious free time writing. Also to meet all the St. 'Bloggers who'd be there. We both read Eve Tushnet's 'blog, it turns out (even though it makes my head hurt).

Then it was time for Ron Hansen's keynote address. The entire address was an example of what Hansen does best: storytelling. He told the story about two 19th Century English poets who were friends: Gerard Hopkins and Robert Bridges. Of the two Hopkins was the better poet but as he was a Jesuit Priest he would never get anything published in his lifetime. He sent his poems to Bridges, who later became England's Poet Laureate, who denigrated them. Nowadays, of course, it is Hopkins' poems which everyone knows about (except me, it seems). The unstated moral of the address was that if you're doing something well, keep on doing it until you die -- even if (or especially if?) your audience is just one unappreciative S.O.B. A lot of people didn't get the moral of this, the world's longest koan, and so I think some may've been disappointed with the keynote.

Afterwards, however, I got to meet the St. 'Bloggers: Sean Gallagher, Kathryn Lively, Tim Drake, James Mallon (I didn't actually introduce myself, though, because he was always talking to other folks), some other folks (like Brother Peter from St. Paul, another aspiring screenwriter -- though he's actually written screenplays), and then Greg Popcak and Mark Shea. I was surprised to learn that some folks like Bert Ghezzi (allegedly) had read my 'blog. I was also surprised to see that many of the young guy writers had brought along their wives and small children. This had never occurred to me.

Even with all this excitement, there wasn't really a party going on there, on-campus. Everyone must be back at the hotel, in the bar, I thought. This being a CATHOLIC WRITERS festival there surely must be much drinking and merry-making and deep discussions going on SOMEPLACE. So I went back to the hotel to call Jackie. As it was 10pm and there was a new episode of Monk on, I watched that -- any party would only be picking up speed by 11pm, I thought. So at 11pm I went across the parking lot of the hotel into Damon's (which has a bar).

There were two old men sitting at the bar. And that was it. No writers, no Algonquin Roundtable. Lame. So I left and watched cartoons on the Cartoon Network until I thought I was sleepy enough to sleep but as I was still jazzed from all the coffee and excited about what the next day might bring sleep did not come quickly.






WWW.LIBEL.COM: Bloggers beware

Yes, I'm linking to a piece on National Review Online. But only because it's by Dreher and he actually knows what's going on in the whole Rose contra mundum dealie-o. It's a very nice piece, not just for those interested in the whole Michael Rose situation but also for all 'bloggers everywhere who post some what spuriously and off-the-cuff (note: the word "allegedy" or the phrase "it seems that" are a 'blogger's best friends). One tip, though, to Dreher's editors at NRO (hahahahahaha): "blog" is not a word. "Weblog" is a word and it is abbreviated "'blog". (Howma doin' Nihil?).

Also: It seems that Mark Shea is really tall. You might not pick up on that from his 'blog, but I met him on Friday night and he allegedy is.






I apologize for my latency in 'blogging this morning. I'm still decompressing (so to speak) from the weekend. There was a lot to mull over (or ruminate, as they say) and I'm still processing a lot of it. Never fear -- there will be a concise yet witty (if not entirely proofread) summary of the weekend up here by this evening in case you want to know what happens when 200 Catholic writers decend upon Steubenville for the weekend (note: one thing they do not do, from my experience, is drink hard or smoke hard and that was a colossal disappointment).

I did just now "win" a new, sealed copy of the Steve Taylor 2-CD boxed set "Now The Truth Can Be Told" on eBay (which has been out of print for 8 years) for $15.








Sunday, September 15, 2002

I am back! Back home, alive after a five hour drive. Some pretty incredible (yet subtle and humble, in keeping with the Franciscan way) things happened this weekend at the Catholic Writers Festival in Steubenville, Ohio (my first trip there). Some even more incredible things happened on the ride home, thanks to the seeds planted there -- today. I wasn't sure even when I arrived what I hoped to get out of the experience (though by Friday night I knew why I was there), but I never would've expected what I got. I didn't think I deserved all the Grace I'd received up until this point (something along the lines that I thought one needed to be pure or worthy of it before one could receive it)... so receiving a fistful of it unexpectedly (espeically at 78mph -- tears, contact lenses, and speeding automobiles do not mix) on the interstate was a bit overwhelming. But I finally get it now. I get all of it. And it is overwhelming. But now I know why and what to do about it. And that gives me hope.

More on this tomorrow if I don't convince myself by then that it was just my imagination even as I am certain at this moment that it was not.








Friday, September 13, 2002

Time to saddle up.

Well, it's that time. I've put it off as long as I can but if I'm going to make Ron Hansen's keynote speech I'm going to have to leave now. I doubt I'll be able to 'blog this weekend (I'm not as wired as some folks -- no WAP laptops, no cellular modems), so you may just want to check back on Monday for a report of the CWF festivities. But you never know. I may find an unlocked computer with web access someplace.

Thanks for your prayers! Keep it real until I get back.








Thursday, September 12, 2002

Still left to do tonight:
  1. Put boxes of VHS tapes into crawlspace
  2. Get box of CDs out of crawlspace
  3. Hang drapery rods, brackets, and drapes in family room
  4. Take down shelf brackets and rails in office
  5. Pack
  6. Get plenty of rest
It's only 9pm now so it should be no problem to get this all done. UPDATE: All done!






Well I've finished all of the errands in preparation of this weekend's trip down to Stuebenville, OH, for the Catholic Writers' Festival. Now I just need to prep the car for the trip (and then burn some toonage, pack, plan a route -- though I have an Ohio map so I may grab my shades, hop in the car, drop the pedal and go... go... go! etc.). The entire affair, however, is still in the air: Jackie seems to have come down with some variation of the cold from which myself and 'Xander are now almost fully recovered. If she's not much improved by tomorrow morning I may not be going. Or else I'll be going -- but truly feeling awful about going.






This is pretty low, even for Viacom.

And thank goodness for John Stossel.






Amazon.com Freebies

Over at HMS 'Blog, Greg Popcak is looking for names for his new peahen and peacock. I suggested Flannery for the peahen (as did Amy Welborn) with Walker being, then, the only suitable name for the peacock. The notion to name the peahen "Flannery" of course comes from Flannery O'Connor's essay "The King of Birds" which is found within her posthumously published collection of essays and talks Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose. Well, the thing is that now that Amazon.com is doing that new "look inside" feature where they print the first few pages of the book, it turns out that the entire first essay which begins that book -- which happens to be "The King of Birds" -- can be read online for free over at Amazon.com. As it's certainly one of the finer non-fiction pieces that O'Connor has written (in my estimation) and since it's free, it's definitely worth heading over there for the read.

It also brings to mind the fact that you can hear each and every one (with one exception) of They Might Be Giants' "Fingertips" off of their Apollo 18 CD over at CDNOW.com. The "Fingertips" tracks (tracks 17 through 37 on their Apollo 18 album, their finest album in my opinion) are each one (with one exception) well under 30 seconds -- which is the standard length of the CDNOW.com audio sample. So by simply clicking on each track you can hear it (for free) in its entirety (though only in Windows Media Monopoly format).

So there are a couple more freebies for you if you're tired of listening to ApologetiX's "The Real SinSavior" (see post below). Thank you, Obidos!






So much to 'blog, so little time. I heard recently that the Michael Rose situation has been inaccurately portrayed as of late and that he's really not going all William Randolph Hearst on everyone, which is a big relief -- it means I have one less thing to be disappointed and sad about (and it also means that I can read the rest of this month's New Oxford Review without feeling compromised). As they say, it will all come out in the wash. But that's it on that for now. I'll be back tomorrow morning.








Wednesday, September 11, 2002

I'm leaving for Catholic Writers' Festival Friday morning and crud if I don't have a lot of stuff to do. Starting with taking out the trash right now.






Christian Music Parodies

No, not parodies of Christian Music, rather Christian-Music parodies of popular songs.

We start with a look at Nick Alexander's site. He's billed as the Catholic Weird Al and his parodies are smart and well done. There are many audio samples to be found at his site. Hopefully someday I will be able to buy one of his CDs. My favorites are "Get Canonized A Saint" (a parody of "Fly Away" by Lenny Kravitz) and "Therese of Lisieux" (a parody of "Electric Avenue" by Eddy Grant).

Nick Alexander's Home Page

The other group we're featuring in this post is ApologetiX. They've got a lot of fire in their bellies and the worst pop-up window anywhere. They have complete songs for you to download including a hilarious tune "Smooth Grandmama" (a parody of "Smooth Criminal" by Michael Jackson) and "The Real SinSavior" (a parody of "The Real Slim Shady" by Eminem -- and they had to have listened to the original A LOT to nail this parody as well as they did).

ApologetiX homepage

Apparently they've been around for a while -- they have many fan sites (and many albums). This one even lists all the tracks off of all their albums.

Now never say I never give you nuthin'.






Or maybe Silly Putty isn't your thing. Maybe you want a tasteful object to put on your desk. One which reminds you of that wild night out with the Kennedys.

CrashBonsai






Buy your Silly Putty by the pound! Just like these folks!






Here's the latest word on Joss Whedon's new show Firefly which will primiere Friday, September 20, on FOX.

Joss was the creative brilliance behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel and we here have high expectations for his new show -- it had better not start to suck after four years!

Anyway, one of the characters is a priest. You can read his little character write up on that page I have linked -- and he actually appears to be a sympathetic character. And while Joss will publicly state in interviews (and has done) that he has no deep and overwhelming respect for conventional or organized religion, one hopes he'll at least do right by the characters he's created (which he did until about season four or five of Buffy) and that we'll be spared any "Book the priest meets Inara the space-hooker" episodes anytime soon. We'll keep you posted though. The show already looks pretty interesting -- enough to give Andromeda a run for its money? Unless Andromeda brings back Rev Bem (a priest-like character who was treated with reverence), it certainly looks that way. Stay tuned.






My apologies in advance to anyone who came here looking for September 11th answers or meaning because I got nothing. Amy Welborn, on the other hand, does. Check out her blogpost beginning "How could they do it?" (archives aren't working properly at the moment).






Okay, so I've been trying to find a copy of one of the new Sam Adams Light "Shockingly Good Taste" print ads in order to fulfill a request for a friend of 'blog and so I'm doing a google search on "Sam Adams Light print ad". And you know what I'm finding? I'm finding that Sam Adams has had shockingly bad taste when it's come to advertising for at least the past nine months.

Check out this editorial from the Washington Blade where the writer applauds Sam Adams for running an ad where a man is coerced into having sex with a transgendered "female" when s/he offers him a beer (he quickly forgets that s/he was once -- how to put this delicately -- "packing" and resumes tonsil-hockey).

Then there's this story where the writer applauds Sam Adams for pulling an ad where cops reply to some loud music and when they knock on the door all the underage kids whoopin' it up hide their brewskis. Of course Sam Adams only pulled this ad after the outcry over the whole Opie and Andy thing caused some pretty intense scrutiny to come their way.

One could ask how these commercials ever made it past the board over there at Sam Adams, but that's just the point.






Woohoo! Special thanks to loyal reader Alison S. who made a pledge to Ave Maria Radio (see comments below). She wins the calendar, if she wants it (I'm beginning to suspect that no one wants a calendar of lessons in character from the Reagan Ranch which is really sad). Don't worry: AMR is not ballooning into a Pat Robertson sort of thing anytime soon: the commercials they run are mainly for Discount Paint (along the lines of "buy a five-gallon drum of name-brand paint for $30!") and My Handyman handyman service.

We also have a request for any Catholic Radio listeners in the St. Louis area to contact Tony Holman, president of St Louis Catholic Radio, and ask them to carry Heart Mind & Strength live every day instead of just an "encore" presentation once a week. I can say that this show is very entertaining and helpful. Greg does a great job keeping it together, helping the callers who call in, but then there is also the cadre of guests (most of whom contribute to the HMS 'Blog) who always have something interesting to talk about. I haven't had a chance to listen much, though, since the moved the show from 9am to 2pm. This works better for the guests on the West Coast, of course (Mark Shea doesn't have to wax culture of life-ic at 6am anymore), but it's right when I'm working.






In much happier news, my Fantasy Football team, Robot Team #1, narrowly scraped by to victory this past weekend with 61 points. I expected more from my starting wide-receiver, Jimmy Smith, but because he sat out most of the pre-season, it's probably taking him a while longer to get up to speed. At least that's what the guys at work said. Not knowing anything about football (I actually drafted my kicker in the second round -- whee!) I just picked him because my favorite Hammond B-3 organ player is named Jimmy Smith (and he was still available by round 4 because no one else expected him to play this season). Just don't ask me how I picked my QB (that means QuarterBack), Donovan McNabb.






So it's September 11th and they're reading the names of all the victims on all the news stations and there certainly are a lot of names. In the comments sections below folks have begun to recall what they were doing when they first heard the news. As for myself, I was 'blogging -- believe it or not -- hitting the news sites for interesting things to 'blog (and you can check my archives and see this) and then I saw a link on the BBC website for a story with a headline something like "Planes attack US," and I thought "Hm! I wonder where our planes are attacking this time?" and then I clicked on the link and nothing came up. Then the phone rang and it was my sister. She said "Aren't you watching the news? They're crashing planes into New York!" and this was about 9:30. So we turned on the news just in time to see the replays of the two planes and the first tower and then the second tower fell and we had no idea what was going on, there was no linearity. On the news the people were still speculating whether or not it could've been domestic terrorists and I shouted at the screen "No, you morons! It's that Oosma Bin Landis guy!!!" I checked in at work and people there were pretty crazy, too. We work for a large networking company with a large Operations Center in Northern Virginia, right near DC, and folks there were calling our much-smaller Operations Center in Michigan to tell is that if they "got hit" it'd all be up to us to keep the network running. I went in to work and things were really quiet and strange. It was not for a few days after that, though, before our Canadian employee was actually able to make it back into the country to work.






PS. It's still September 10th as far as I'm concerned. If I do any 9/11 'blogging it'll be tomorrow morning.






I got an email from Greg McIntosh today out of the blue and my wig literally flipped! Well, all right... so I ain't got a wig. Still, I was totally stoked because he wanted to buy one of my CDs! Why is this so remarkable? Because Greg is a real musician! How real? Well, he's 1/6 of The Original Brothers and Sisters of Love and two of his tunes made it onto their most recent H.O.M.E.S. Vol 1 (those of you who live in Michigan will dig that title, and the disc itself as it's probably the clearest voice the state of Michigan has had, musically, for a while -- and I'm not even considering Da Yoopers in that). Two very good tunes, at that. Dig this from "Winter Coat Romancing":

Programmed to feel love bloom in the Spring / When the buds bring sneezing
And all the folks will shed their coats / And commence romancing
But a Northern Boy am I / And to my chagrin, I love to see the ladies with
All their goods behind fake fur hoods / And keen on romancing


Yeah, all you guys from Michigan and the Great Lake States (and maybe even up-state New York) know what that's about. That's the thing about this album, though. It's probably the most exuberantly romantic album (aside from the "Foreman of the Mill" song) I've heard since Stevie Wonder's 1971 record "Music of My Mind" (which every guy who's 19 and in love should have to listen to). But more than that, H.O.M.E.S. vol 1 continues to be one of the most cohesive albums I've ever heard. You have to listen to the whole thing all the way through to get the whole picture -- and it's a pretty exhausting listen, I must say. The melodies and chord changes are unpredictable but when they get where they're going it all makes sense and you can't imagine them resolving any other way. It's definitely pull-up-by-the-fireplace-kids-and-listen kind of music and most certainly not rush-hour drive-time music at all -- it is a CD which demands to be listened to. That said, you can still sing along to it -- and will catch yourself doing so more often than not. Check it out.






Another press-release from the inbox. This one references the Michigan Catholic Conference's Election 2002 Guide (which is in .pdf format, so watch out!).

Catholics Applaud Conference's Abortion Clarity, Call Granholm to Abandon 'Catholic' Posturing

PLYMOUTH, MI - Participants in the movement to refute gubernatorial candidate Jennifer Granholm's "pro-choice Catholicism" today praised the Michigan Catholic Conference's "Election 2002" guide, which calls opposition to abortion "pre-eminent" for Catholic voters and candidates.

"Without naming Granholm, the Michigan Catholic Conference exposed her 'pro-choice Catholicism' as utterly untruthful," said Matt Bowman, a participant in the weekly demonstrations outside Granholm's parish in Plymouth. "Granholm must conform to Church teaching or end her 'Catholic' charade. This guide should help parishes refute her double-speak."

The Conference's "A Catholic View to Election 2002," sent to 804 parishes in every part of Michigan, declares: "Abortion is the pre-eminent threat to human dignity." Sister Monica Kostielney, president of the Conference, explained that "Catholics - and candidates - are called upon to be consistent in their defense of life, from the first moment of conception."

Granholm defended herself in the September 10 Detroit News saying, "I believe what Catholics believe on abortion. is it right for government to force Catholic beliefs on every other faith?" "What a crock!" answered Bowman. "Granholm would impose taxpayer funded abortion in every Michigan county, but not measures to protect even partially born children. Granholm campaigns for all kinds of legal changes but she ducks behind the Supreme Court on abortion."

Bowman called Granholm the true "protestor," while pro-lifers outside her parish are in accord with the Church. "Our message is the church's official message - Catholic politicians can't be pro-abortion. The Conference's guide says it, the U.S. Bishops have said it - in a document Cardinal Maida boasts that he helped write. Cardinal Maida even appointed Bishop Britt to correct Granholm's 'pro-choice' parish priest. And since then, priests all over Michigan have condemned the Catholic 'pro-choice' position. St. Hugo's in Bloomfield Hills called it a 'skillful deception.' St. Albert's in Dearborn Heights said it 'sanctions murder.' Assumption Grotto in Detroit called for a "one-strike-and-out" policy against pro-choice priests. The St. John Center in Plymouth warned that it threatens human dignity. Granholm's crusade is a big fat lie."

Bowman explained the demonstrators' goals, "Jennifer Granholm should conform to the Church's teaching or else refrain from posturing as a Catholic in good standing at her parish as a lector or in receiving the sacraments (except, of course, the sacrament of Reconciliation)."








Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Ah, here's what I was looking for...

The AKOR TV BOY

It's a palm-sized Atari 2600 clone, completely self-contained, which broadcasts to your television set (via channel 13) 126 different Atari 2600 games.

Pretty nifty, I'd say.

Though I'm still holding out for a Sega NOMAD. Too bad they're going for around $100 on eBay. Why I didn't buy one new when they were down around $30 in the store, I'll never know. I must've been more interested in girls or philosophy or something at the time. Well, I'm paying for that now. Stupid.






AAlgar Electronics - iTari

A joke. Not what I was looking for.






Greg Popcak confirms in the comments section below that Ave Maria Radio is indeed a non-profit organization so your donations will be tax-deductable.

So what are you waiting for? Get on over there and pledge!






Talk Like A Pirate Day

Seeing as how the next-cooler thing compared to Robots are Air Pirates (pirates in airplanes or flying ships) and the next cooler thing compared to Air Pirates are real Pirates and the next cooler thing compared to that is talking like a real pirate, all that makes this a pretty cool idea!






Regarding the post below: I don't know if AMR is non-profit or not. I would imagine not as they do sell commercials, so consider that as you will. Since I'm not sure if I, myself, am a non-profit organization or not I probably shouldn't offer the calendar as enticement to pledge, but anyone who still wants the calendar is welcome to it. :)








Monday, September 09, 2002

Worthy Cause Alert!

If you haven't already this week, get virtual butt over to Ave Maria Radio and contribute to their first-ever pledge drive. This is an awesome Catholic Radio network and they really need your help to continue to bring you all the great shows you can hear on the radio or on the internet (like Heart Mind & Strength, Al Kresta, The Doctor Is In, and the Catholic Heritage Program starring Joanna Bogle, of whose British accent I can not hear nearly enough). Follow the above Ave Maria Radio link to pledge.

If you do pledge, drop me an email and the first person to do so will receive, free of charge, their very own "The Reagan Ranch: Lessons In Character From A Great American Leader 2003 Calendar" featuring 12 months of Gipper wisdom and photographs. I am not in any way affiliated with Ave Maria Radio, WDEO, Al Kresta, frequencies whose amplitudes modulate at 990 Hz, or anything like that, mind you, I just have this calendar to get rid of. Not that I dislike Ronald Reagan, but I have a feeling some of you might like him more than I do.

I will also trade the Reagan calendar for a Joanna Bogle calendar (or any book by Joanna Bogle) if anyone happens to have either of those.






WWJPIID?

Most honored and highly-esteemed guest Greg Popcak, leader of the merry band of 'bloggers at HMS 'Blog stops by et cetera (in the comments section of the Blame Iraq post below) and directs us to this Zenit.com story: Attack on Iraq Is for U.N. to Decide, Says Vatican Official.

Somehow I did not think that the Vatican would [mixed metaphor alert! --ed] just sign-off carte blanche and give the green-light to a US invasion of Iraq, this time, without some corroboratin' evidence and/or support from the global community at large. You see, the world is like a really big boat which everyone has to ride on....






What was I doing a year ago today, two days before September 11th? I was naively waxing nostalgic on some of my favorite Star Trek characters and actors.

What am I doing today, 362 days after September 11th? Pretty much the same thing.

What does this all mean? I have no idea.






This place is Ossu-ome!

The Ossuary in Sedlec

Not only that, but people are just dying to get in! Ha. Okay, just figured you all could use some light-hearted ribbing. Hoo! Seriously, it takes a lot of skull to make artwork as detailed as this -- no bones about it! Hee! Alright, just let me make a femur bad puns and then I'll stop. OH! There I go again! Anyway, I think we can all agree it takes a real calling tibia bone artist... and that's no fibula!. But I wonder how they get the bones all the way up to the top of the stacks. Do you think they cranium?

Thanks to RC (who's probably giving me a sternum look right now) for passing along this link!






Blame Iraq!!!

The effort now, it seems is to blame the Iraqi government -- in part -- for the Oklahoma City bombing (there may've indeed been government involvement, but one doubts it was the Iraqi government). Nevertheless, soon it will not be long before we find the trail of apocryphal and unseen evidence linking Saddam Hussein's regime back to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (Iraq makes oil, Japanese planes run on oil), the sinking of the Lucitania in 1915 (German U-boats operate best in water, Iraq is near a lot of water), and the burning of the White House during the war of 1812 (haven't figured this one out yet, but don't worry!). You can't fool us! There's cause for a just war here somewhere, we just need to keep looking!






This showed up in my inbox. The Plymouth Fall Festival, where the Pancake Breakfast mentioned here happened this past Saturday. I was sick in bed at the time (where I'm headed now, incidentally) so I missed all the excitement happening just three blocks away from my house. Here's the press release, however.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 9, 2002

Students Heed Maida, Challenge Granholm on Abortion

Plymouth, Michigan – September 7, 2002 – About fifty pro-lifers showed up early Saturday morning - some to eat pancakes served up by partial-birth abortion advocate and gubernatorial candidate Jennifer Granholm. Their goal was to meet Granholm face to face and challenge her strong support for what the Catholic Church calls murder. At least five Catholic law students say they were inspired to attend by Cardinal Adam Maida’s recent declaration that “Catholic lawyers must be always ready to speak and act in such a way that the dignity of life is promoted and defended on every level.” [Cardinal's Homily]

While Granholm’s opponent, Dick Posthumus, shook hands and discussed issues with hundreds of voters, Granholm left the event after her brief turn at the griddle – breaking protocol for candidates who attend this annual event. Students Cindy Kalar and Ian Northon asked her why she postures as a Catholic while advocating partial-birth abortion as good public policy. According to the students, Granholm offered a short, impersonal, response as her entourage hastily shuffled her away.

Granholm’s reaction to these attractive young students was understandable: Kalar’s shirt bore the message “Granholm: Catholic? Pro-abortion-murder? Which is she?” and Northon’s shirt asked “If Granholm lies about her religion, how can we trust her as Governor?” According to Kalar, “Granholm needs to know that bright, young, Catholic women find her position indefensible and disingenuous. Why is she afraid to talk to law students about such an important issue?”

Northon noted that the group deliberately used no graphic signs, but some people attending the breakfast were still upset by the peaceful crowd of protesters Granholm attracted. Meanwhile, these self-styled “defenders of life” say they were pleased to get their message out to the large crowd of families attending the Kiwanis pancake breakfast, part of the Plymouth Fall Festival. [Pancake Breakfast]

Students Suzanne Housey and Krista Van Amerongen said they were heeding Cardinal Maida’s call to “promote and defend the dignity of life.” This is a reference to a homily delivered by the Cardinal last week (on August 30) at the Ave Maria School of Law in Ann Arbor, where the women study.

In his prepared address the Cardinal made it clear that “a Catholic lawyer” must “know the…teachings of the Church and be ready to proudly defend them.” Even though he did not mention her by name, these students see Maida’s remarks as a clear rebuke of Granholm’s extreme abortion advocacy and an obvious acknowledgement that she is not a Catholic in good standing.

Housey was pleased that amidst the controversy over Granholm’s 100% pro-abortion stance, the Cardinal reiterated that “the first and greatest of [God’s] gifts is the gift of life itself.” According to Housey, “Vatican II rightly called abortion ‘an unspeakable crime.’ [Gaudium et Spes para. 51] We ask Granholm to either stop masquerading as a Catholic, or stop advocating this unspeakable crime as good public policy.”

When asked how she can make such a serious charge against Granholm, Housey noted that she is only repeating the official teaching of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops regarding abortion: “No public official, especially one claiming to be a faithful and serious Catholic, can responsibly advocate for or actively support direct attacks on innocent human life.” [US Bishops' Statement para. 32]








Sunday, September 08, 2002

Here's an idea for a TV-show: ILLUMI-DATE.

The idea being that you take a couple (young, attractive people) who've never seen each other before and the goal is that they have to convince each other of their respective belief systems by the end of the "date". The "date" ends when either a) they both realize they don't hold any sort of rationally-consistent beliefs or b) one of them gets a migraine and whacks the other with a broken wineglass.






Well, the media shelves are finished and painted. Here's what they looked like about two weeks ago after I finished building them:

Before


And here's what they look like now. Note the decorative crown and face molding. Jackie did all of the molding and painting. Yeah the pictures are a little dark, but we don't have a "real" digital camera -- the kind with a "flash" and so I had to hold up our worklight for illumination.

After After too


The bottom eight shelves hold 100 CDs a piece for a total of 800 CDs. Kind of ashamed to admit it, but those shelves are filled. We don't know how many DVDs the top shelves will hold yet.






Will the real Matt Galant please stand up?

One minute you can catch him on the all-gaming channel G4TV's Game On program talking about babes and then dressed up as a mime (his gamer lost that particular episode, so he lost the show's bet) on the Vegas strip for the show's "Mime Ho" sketch (which was actually pretty funny, I admit) and the next minute he's on Animal Planet's as the host of The Planet's Funniest Animals doing squeaky-clean intros to videos of dogs who can backflip. We won't know for sure until his homepage, MattGalant.com, is actually brought online.

If you're highly bored, go to the official Game On homepage and read some of what the "fans" of the show have to say about it. With fans like these, no show would ever need critics. The truly hilarious thing, though, is that every G4TV program has pretty much the same sort of feedback. Except for maybe Portal which is a very weird and humorous (at least to me) show about MMRPGs (which, aside from HeroMUD a dozen years ago, is one vice with which I've had the sense never to experiment).






Hey there. I'm still alive, more or less, though not much up for any deep thoughts at the moment. Trading Spaces, incidentally, takes on a whole new dramatic twist when you're hopped up on cold medication. Does Paige really have a thing for Frank? And will Doug ever find and defeat his archnemesis -- the evil Designer X, who murdered his mentor and then wrapped his body in batting and made him into an ottoman which he then gave to Doug for his 18th birthday?

Some of you may not want to think about such things, however. If that's the case, then check out Kairos 'blog. JB, that Kairos Guy, has a post up in response to my crrrrrazy "put up or shut up" post which you can find here, a few posts down. His reponse if very chartible and considered and frames the challenge in just the opposite terms. It's a very good, thoughtul, and personal post and I encourage you to pop on over there to read it.

Of course, all this begs the question: does one believe that a standing military is, as the founders envisioned things, a just and good thing to have -- or not? On the one hand -- DUH! Of course it is! And on the other hand -- if the founders envisioned a standing federal military from the get-go, what's all that nonsense in the 2nd Amendment about a citizens' militia really about?








Saturday, September 07, 2002

And Sherman's Lagoon is pretty cute. Thanks, RC!
But what are they supposed to be? Fishes?

Uh, oh. New episode of Trading Spaces is on. Gotta dash.






Does this seem like a really really bad idea to anyone else besides me?

Newspaper Delivery -- on a CD!

Let me get this straight: the internet (news sites on the web and 'blogs -- not mine, necessarily) is running conventional print news into the ground and the best print news can do is to lash back with an attack on -- radio?

Kooky.






Okay, now this one is funny.

Ampersand takes my fevered criticism very well (see comments below) and directs me to one of his comics which most folks who don't think he's funny this is funny. And I would have to say that this one is funny. And also very artfully done ;). So I'm going to check out more of his comics and would encourage you to do the same.

[And you, Victor Lams, you need to remember from time to time that this 'blog exists in the world outside your own head! -ed]

Got it. But still, there can be no padonable excuse for this: Helen, Sweetheart of the Internet. Not only is it not artfully done, but it's pretty bitter and cynical too -- but not in a charming (and much better drawn) Bloom County way. And if you go through his comics on the site there you can find the episode where the heroine finally gets down with the bug-eyed Anthony Michael Hall (ca. 1988) boyfriend character. For those too lazy to page through all of the comics yourself, this (or at least one interation of it) happens in Strip #389: "Two Time's No Harm". If I want to acknowledge that cartoon characters have reproductive organs, I shall do so in a far more artfully-done venue. And, okay: another thing -- what sort of cartoonist gives each of his or her daily strips its own episode name? Er, and then writes a paragraph about it explaining the joke? And when did profanity become acceptible in newspaper comics? Compared to "Helen, Bane of the Internet" I'll take Ampersand's comics any day. In fact, today I just might.

It raises the question, though: how many cartoonists does the world really need? Could we get away with just running Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes reruns in the newspapers -- spicing things up occasionally with a new Arlo and Janis (who are, incidentally, pretty much the only two characters who are allowed to have sex, in-frame, in the newspaper funnies, in my opinion)? Mothers: if your sons and daughters pick up a pen or marker and start to doodle harmlessly on little pieces of paper, take heed: when they start to add little word balloons, please do the charitable thing and break their fingers.

Now it's time to dope up and gargle with some more salt water.








Friday, September 06, 2002

A link on Eve Tushnet's blog led me to &'s (Amptoon's) blog and a discussion on why Peanuts is a better comic than Garfield (unless you're in kindergarden, of course -- then Garfield is much funnier than Peanuts, if I recall. I moved, however, fairly rapidly from Garfield to Lil' Abner and then, in the second grade, to Pogo). That page led me to &'s (nee B. Deutsch's) own archive of comics: ZNET Toons. Now, while I've only looked at a few of these comics and while I can appreciate where the cartoonist is coming from (in wanting to make the word a better place through cartooning -- whatever! And what's up with posting a graph of your political leanings right there on your 'blog?) and while the strips appear to be fairly artfully done, can someone please find one for me which is actually funny? I gave up after reading about four of them. Not that this cartoonist's problem is unique... I would say about 99% of the comics you find on the web are not funny (particularly the myriad of User Friendly geek-humor wannabes. Note to posers: User Friendly only scores about once every eight or nine strips and most of Scott Adams' tired old Dilbert ideas are phoned in by readers. Some web toons are, indeed, funny though, and I'll try to look some of them up -- or post your own suggestions below!

Anyway, if I wanted unfunny comics, I'd draw them myself.






Sorry I've been so blogging light tonight. I think my virus has mutated, once again. I can feel it coursing through my system, gaining strength with each new vital subroutine it overwhelms. Either that or I've poisoned myself by ingesting too much zinc. I can't be sure which. So I don't want to stop snorting the zinc because it will fight the virus, if there is one. But, on the other hand, if that's what's making my throat hurt... yaaaarg. Garlic is safe, though. Must eat more garlic.

America's Funniest Home Videos finally did something right for a change (besides dumping Bob Saget). They gave the $100,000 grand prize to a family with quadruplets who all, at about six months or so, all laughed in perfect unison when their daddy did something funny. Yay! I don't see that particular video here, but the Super Scooper video, another finalist, is pretty funny.

I must say that I detest that show but can't help but find myself laughing at it sometimes. That link also takes you to "No Head Room" (another finalist) in which some poor yokel gets his head stuck in his car window (when his wife rolls it up on him and then breaks the fuse). Ha!






So I guess here's your declaration?






You didn't know me when...

Here's something interesting. My parents found this picture when they were cleaning up one of the bedrooms at their house. It's a picture drawn of me in 1995 by Taru Sterling. This was probably drawn early in the morning, say one or two AM, and was drawn, if I'm not mistaken, during one of my space-out solo-keyboard sessions at Not Another Cafe on South University St. in Ann Arbor, Michigan (it was a really cool place. Just show up, get your coffee and your kiwi-Tang and play. But don't bother looking for it, it's not there anymore). I had completely forgotten about this picture and it took me like 10 minutes to figure out who drew it.

Taru was a guy who was in my Elementary, Jr. High, and High Schools (at Wines Elementary we would all sing "Ta-ru, Ta-ru, Ta-ru is on fire!" instead of, you know, "The Roof is on fire!"). He was -- still is, I hope -- a phenomenal artist. Even in Elementary school he drew these outstanding pictures of Darth Vader and all things Star Wars. Star Wars everywhere. In High School people would pay him to spraypaint Star Wars characters and ships on their leather jackets (and other things too). He was a truly talented artist, and you can't say that about many folks. I tried doing a Google search on Taru just now and just about all I came up with was this page over at the BBC where Taru (and many others) remember fondly Sir Alec Guinness, Taru thanking him for playing Obi Wan Kenobi -- a guiding force in his (Taru's) life. Oh, you can also find a pretty cool picture of Willem Dafoe if you look hard enough. I apologize for the picture being so big here, but it's really detailed. You can click on it for a bigger version.

Anyway, this was drawn while I was in my George Duke/Keith Jarrett/Stevie Wonder phase -- hence the blue robes and mustache. I was also a lot skinnier then and my glasses were bigger.

Click on Vic for larger pic


Hopefully someone will find this page and let me know what Taru's up to.






GCS, The Baddest Group from East to West – Part I

Bought a CD last week. But first, some background…

Long before I fully knew what funk music was or began my great ascendancy to the Funk, I knew that there was one kind of electric bass playing that I really liked. And that was when one of the guys in our jazz combo in High School would start slapping the strings of his bass with his thumb, making them pop, and then walking those pops up and down in chaotic intervals. I really dug that. For me, it was that sound along with the disruptive syncopation of the clavinet and the synchronized horn sections of the great funk bands which led me to first acknowledge my unquenchable thirst for this music and, ultimately, towards the fullness of my appreciation for the funk.

But being a funk-music fan in the early ‘90s wasn’t always easy. This was back before the great Old Skool Renaissance and so most R&B stations were still playing Lionel Richie and Babyface pretty much exclusively. This meant you had to buy everything yourself, and while there were CD re-issues of pretty much all of the great funk bands’ LPs from the ‘70s, but these were not cheap and the re-mastering done on them (if in fact they’d been re-mastered at all) was pretty crummy, sounding not much better than a cassette tape might. And that was even if you knew which albums to buy: this was before the WWW really took off (way, way waaaay before Napster) so any research had to be done off-line and you were largely buying CDs based on word-of-mouth. And yeah, there were compilations out you could buy but these were the most miserable option of all: they basically just took the most popular cuts off each record, chopped them into 3-to-4-minute-long tracks and put maybe 10 or 12 of these on a CD and called it a definitive compilation of in some cases over 20 years of musical output (anyone who has that early-‘90s Parliament compo “The Bomb” knows exactly what I’m talking about – it was pretty sad). And don’t even get me started on the “genre-compilations” available at the time… egads. So you’d pretty much grab some bands you liked and bought their output, nevermind that there could be whole, huge reservoirs of the Funk out there, just waiting someday to be discovered by the Gen-X crowd.

And then, perhaps due to the alignment of the Rhino and Warner Bros. Records labels, good, solid compilations started to be released on CD. Often in packages of 2 or more CDs, these compos were artistically re-mastered to sound like the original LPs and contained the FULL LEGTH versions of the tracks – and even some live and unreleased tracks you hadn’t heard before. Excellent.

I don’t know why, however, it took Warner Bros. Records nearly five years to get around to releasing The Jam, their compilation of Robert Graham and Graham Central Station, which they finally did in 2001. And man, this is THE funk-band compilation to own. Sure, I’d come across GCS on various crappy funk genre-compilations but they never did the group justice (cutting the group’s signature track “The Jam” down to three minutes is a travesty. It’s wrong). I’d gotten the impression that they, like The Gap Band and Cameo were just another P-Funk knock-off (a “Clone of Dr. Funkenstein,” if you prefer) – nuh-uh! Robert Graham is 100% original and in Part II of this post, I will tell you why.






Yo, yo, yo! I meant to post last night that my comments section on my anti-war post was off the hook but I couldn't because Blogger was buggin' yall. Anyway, just reminding folks to keep it real, a'ight?

Hmmm... This Spike Lee lexicon I got is pretty fly. Too bad it hasn't been updated since 1992.








Thursday, September 05, 2002

Well, I'm beginning to feel a little bit better, so (knock on wood) it's just a little baby cold I caught. I've been sucking on zinc lozenges and squirting zinc gel up into my nose to make my mucous membranes inhospitable to the rhinovirus.

Right now, in fact, I am so full of zinc that if I sat on the chipped-up hood of our old Neon, I would actually start to rust. Get it? Because I'd be providing cathodic protection to the steel in the car hood?

Tough room.






Ugh. Well, I definitely think I've been bitten by the baby's bug. I'm going to try and drag my sick butt to work. I should be fine as long as I keep drinking water and keep eating the pills. I'll make it through some of the comments boxes there, hopefully, along the way.






Hmm. I guess one could get the impression from my "war" post, two posts down, that my definition of a Just War is any war which I, myself, would go and fight in. I guess that just about sums it up.






Been Away from Yahweh Ben Yahweh?

Now might be the perfect time to come back. Thanks to a loyal reader, I present to you the link to his brand new site, tastefully done, and if that wasn't reason enough to come back, he also has a cool computer-generated Throne Room of Revelation, which requires Windows Media Player to enter and looks like it belongs in Myst's Dunny age.

So who is Yahweh Ben Yahweh? Born in Oklahoma in 1935, he moved to Miami and quickly amassed a $250,000,000 fortune. He seems committed to some pretty nifty things like chastity and justice and right living, but alas, disaster was in the cards for the followers of Yahweh Ben Yahweh when, in 1990, the (pre-Clinton!) FBI conducted a pre-dawn raid against Yahweh Ben Yahweh's followers in New Orleans and what followed shouldn't be all that surprising for fans of the FBI and US Justice Department (including, but not limited to, M-16 rifles being pointed at his vital organs and imprisonment).

Anyway, through it all Yahweh Ben Yahweh persevered and now can bring you "The Universe of Yahweh" every week on your local cable station. Don't have Yahwehvision? You can hear his weekly message (complete with computer animation and sound-effects) here. It's pretty cool (I think it looks a lot like that old Earth, Wind, and Fire CD-ROM game, ISIS, but I'm not sure because it was never released in this country) but probably not worth ditching your present religion for.






Friend Only to the Undertaker

Perhaps the most distressing thing about those clamoring for the latest war d'jour is the rather aloof and detached attitude with which they discuss it. As if they are meteorologists discussing an inevitable force of nature or a doctor describing and operation. Very rarely will you hear the actual realities of wars discussed. For example, no one begins their piece "While it is true that many innocent women and children expired horrifically in the last war, and we expect many to do so this time around, we still feel this is necessary to bring about a regime change." And it's not just the horrors of war to which they are detached, at least in their writing (and if they acknowledge such horrors in their minds but not in their writings -- shame on them). They also seem to asign no culpability to the US for anything. How far goes their blind nationalism? Towards excusing the atomic bombs dropped on both Hiroshima and -- even more inexcusably -- Nagasaki? Beyond?

Much talk is made of Saddam Hussein participating in a genocide of the Kurds living in Iraq? But how many US politicians favor abortion -- a genocide of much greater proportions, targeting largely our poor and minority populations. Much talk is made of Saddam Hussein perhaps (or perhaps not) possessing or working towards possessing or thinking about how much he'd like to possess weapons of mass destruction. But name me the only country in the world to actually use such weapons and, even more, that country still (if I'm not mistaken) possesses the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction on the planet ("Oh, no, Victor. That's all right, see, because they're our weapons of mass destruction."). Much talk is also made of Saddam Hussein's supposed but undocumented insanity. If he were really a madman and possessed even one weapon of mass destruction don't you think he'd have used it by now? Lastly, much talk is made of Saddam Hussein sponsoring "terror" whether in general or in the particular. Of course, our own country cannot claim to have its hands clean here, if one defines "terror" as an act of agression, outside of a declared war, which is intended to cause fear and misery and kills or harms civilians (of course the attack on the USS Cole did not, in fact, target civilians but this is somehow considered a terrorist act and not an act of war against an occupying force). How much misery and terror has the US sponsored from Central America to Palestine? Some may even regard the strict sanctions against Iraq as a form of terrorism as they do, undeniably, cause fear and misery among its civilian populations. ("Oh, no, Victor. That's all right, see, because they're our sanctions against them."). Did I not get the memo? Did the Iraqi people -- or even their military for that matter -- suddenly cease to be human beings or something?

Oh, and the one thing I have not read on anyone's 'blog is anything approaching this: "I, [insert your name here], think that the war against Iraq is such a great and noble enterprise that I, myself, immediately will go out upon completing this post and enlist in our Armed Forces. [Or if you, yourself are too old to enlist, perhaps you would like to volunteer your sons and your daughters?] In fact, I will request -- no demand -- that upon completion of basic training I am transferred without haste to the Iraqi theatre (of war)."

Put up or shut up, folks.

If one takes themselves out of their "US = Democracy = Good" prejudices (or puts down their copy of NR) for even a moment and tries to see the situation in the way that an outside observer with a uncompromised moral attitude like, say, the Pope, one quickly sees the question of war to be far more complex than just a simple matter of crushing a small man who doesn't like us. In essence: before we go mandating regime changes in foreign lands, maybe we should clean up our own backyard first.






Not sure how much blogging I'm going to get done today. 'Xander was up last night with his first cold, coughing, and sneezing, and gurgling, and all parties were pretty miserable. Anyway, while I can appreciate that babies need to build up their immune system, illness has got to be just about the least fun way of doing that for them.






I found this personal-website/'blog by accident. I think I was searching for "Ann Arbor Japanese Steakhouse" or something on Google. I dig the writing, though. It's got the right sort of perspective for a personal site (or journal) and is not too self-aware or too self-pitying.

Once upon a time, in a far-away land, there lived a girl. Her name was Shawna Sweeney. You worry and wonder about the fate of the girl, always asking questions like, "What price penumbras? Can you provide accurate directions to Punxsatawney, Pennsylvania? Is it terrible to want to wear women's undergarments?"

(I have no idea what the site is actually called).








Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Ann Coulter -- You're Fired!

Ooohhh.... did the big mean lady with her column make the poow widdle newspapew editow mad???

Riddle me this: I have no great love for Ann Coulter (though that letter gives me some pretty compelling reasons why I should), but how "hateful" is it to fire someone and then turn around and PUBLISH THE FIRING LETTER?






1-2-3-4, We Don't Want No F'in' War!

Big talk in 'Blog Town about the Impending War with Iraq. Greg Popcak lists the criteria for a Just War over on HMS 'Blog. I've done as much in these (virtual) pages, as well.

For what it's worth, let me state openly and publicly and redundantly again that under these criteria, these principles, of what makes a just war, I am completely opposed to what looks as though will be a wholly US-initiated war against Iraq. In fact, it's hard to imagine a realistic set of circumstances underwhich a war against Iraq could meet such Just War criteria (which I consider even to be rather liberal with quite a bit of wiggle-room).

But I'm not one-eighth the philosopher and pundit or even faithful Catholic that Joe Sobran is. Check out any (or all) of his columns for the month of August to gain a finer appreciation for why this coming war is just a really sucky idea.

In fact, if you read only one column this week, you could do a lot worse than to chuck all the scribblings of those war-crazed noodleheads over at NRO out the car window and read Sobran's War on Wogs column for some much-needed moral clarity.

As for me, I'd rather just work on another cartoon.






Well, that was a little weird. The local Catholic Radio station here, WDEO just ran a commercial for Creflo Dollar's new book (or tape, I didn't clearly hear which). I mean, I guess it's cool. I've enjoyed watching Creflo's program in the past. He talks about the Burden Lifting Yoke Removing Power of God, and starts off his sermons talking quiet and then gets louder... it's pretty cool. Just weird to hear him advertised on a Catholic-with-a-capital-C Radio station.






VOTF™, Inc.

As you've probably heard by now, Voice of the Faithful is now Voice of the Faithful™,Inc. Their slogan, "Keep the Faith, Change the Church™" is also trademarked so whatever you do, David Alexander don't you dare think of coming up with any variations of your own... no "Keep the Faith, Change Your Oil Every 3,000 Miles," or "Keep the Faith, Lose the 'Tude, Man!" Those are strictly forbidden now.

Telling is what they put in their meta tags -- to read these go to their page and "show (or view) source" (usually in your 'view' pull-down menu) and then look between the head and /head tags. The keywords are enlightening enough, but I'll let you find those for yourself. The description of their page (and by implication of their organization) in their meta-tags reads as follows: "Voice of the Faithful is a Boston-based group formed in response to the crisis in the Archdiocese of Boston, and the broader difficulties afflicting the Catholic Church throughout the world. The group seeks to aid Catholic growth by providing a voice for the people of the church."

"Broader difficulties afflicting the Catholic Church throughout the world"? You mean like how the Catholic Church is illegal in China? Will VOTF™, Inc. help with that? How about the thousands of Christians killed in Sudan each year? Is that the sort of "broader difficulty" to which VOTF™, Inc. wants to respond?

Somehow I doubt it.

No, an example of the "broader difficulties afflicting the Catholic Church" is that the RC isn't "adult" enough. To that end VOTF™, Inc.'s Young Adults page states their intention to indoctrinate youngsters into building "a Church that is interesting, adult, and real, that serves the world and feeds the soul."

I don't know at which Catholic Church the VOTF™, Inc. board members have been smoking their wacky-tobaccy but the RC, of course, was plenty interesting, adult, and real before VOTF™, Inc. came along. While they have made things more interesting, I get the impression that their mission decidely keeps things a lot less real.

VOTF™, Inc. is like the Lionel Richie of Organized Religion: they take something really funky and good (like The Commodores) and just totally dilute it, wreck it, and make it completely white-bread.

They're once, twice, three times a-crappy.






I'm still attempting to locate the local area (Plymouth/Metro-Detroit, MI) Catholic School where, according to a caller to the Heart Mind & Strength Radio program, an 8th-grade class recently attempted to find their animal spirit guides (mine is Pikachu, by the way). While it is true that Our Lady of Good Council Catholic School here in Plymouth does have a 1-8 grade program, judging from their newsletters, their science program seems pretty solid (stuff I would've loved to have learned about in greater detail in public school). So I'm leaning away from them.

To read more about this story, golly -- tons of links. Try these first. And if you happen to know which school this was, drop me an email!

At HMS Weblog: here, here, here, and here. Mark Shea also 'blogs 'bout it here. Hopefully I'll be able to do some snooping of my own after the busy workweek.






Believe me, if I could explain this, I would.






A few more reader submissions...

The Feast of St. Therese - Sponsored by 1-800-FLOWERS (much cooler than FTD)
The Feast of the North American Martyrs - Sponsored by Red Man Chewing Tobacco
The Feast of Edith Stein - Sponsored by Jews For Jesus






Love the Baba, Worship the Baba, Beware the Baba

Thanks to a loyal reader, I can now offer you a link to the International Sai Organization.

This site just gives me the willies. That's probably not a very tolerant thing for me to say. But check out their devotional songs. Anyone care to wager how long it'll be before some of those start showing up at Mass? (Speaking of which, last week we reached new lows with a piano-intro to "Gather Us In" which would've made Billy "Pianoman" Joel wretch... but I digress).

I don't know about this, but they've also picked up a crucifix somewhere along the way. This seems to have kept the Baba from pulling his lingam (???) out of his mouth every year: "In respect to the oval, eggshaped lingam which Baba produces from within his body on Mahasivaratri night, he says, 'It is not possible for you to understand the divine purpose and gauge its potential, or to know the significance of its manifestation.'" (That quote by the way comes from a book entitled My Baba and I, not be confused with either Baba, Like Me or Baba, The Elephant).

Anyway, the Baba is probably the most powerful guy (still living) who still has his afro (except for maybe Carrottop). And if we are to believe what he says, he is only the second of a triple incarnation, which means that the afro he has the next time 'round can be only greater. I can not wait.

Now watch my car blow up tomorrow morning when I go to start it....






My sincerest apologies: Dominico Bettinelli started it, not Amy Welborn.

In regards to a comment in the post below: yeah, these are over the line. That's kind of the point: how corporations will do something so soul-less as to take these Holy men and women and use them as mere marketing shills. The best way to exaggerate that is to illustrate, to the extreme -- without making it too obtuse or unbelievable -- how this might actually happen.

Ah, Comedy. Thou art truly a mysterious and fickle mistress and yet we still court thee.








Tuesday, September 03, 2002

A reader submits the following to the ongoing Saints' Sponsorships fun (see post directly below). Hey -- don't look at me! Amy Welborn started it!

The Feast of St. Elmo - Sponsored by Ex-Lax
The Feast of St. Maria Goretti - Sponsored by Victorinox Swiss Army Knives
The Feast of St. Joseph of Cupertino - Sponsored by Delta Airlines
The Feast of St. Bartholomew - Sponsored by Nutraderm Skin Lotion






The fun starts with this post over at Amy Welborn's blog. The news is that some cheese company is sponsoring a festival in honor of the Feast of San Gennaro. This leads to a discussion of what coporations would sponsor the feast days of other notable Saints? While the contributions in Amy's comment box are funny enough, I humbly submit my own (which I may or may not have had help in writing).

The Feast of St. Boniface - Sponsored by Craftsman
The Feast of St. Gabriel Possenti - Sponsored by Smith & Wesson
The Feast of St. Juan Diego - Sponsored by New Cheer! With Color Guard
The Feast of St. Januarius - Sponsored by Castrol GTX (or any synthetic motor oil)
The Feast of St. Peter - Sponsored by Hang-Ups, maker of fine Inversion Tables

Okay, now you think of some.






The single album of 2001 and 2002 that you must listen to.

I'm ashamed to admit it, but it was only recently that I picked up The Original Brothers and Sisters of Love's most recent album, H.O.M.E.S., Vol. 1. Over the next week, I'll be commenting a bit more about this landmark album, but suffice it to say for now that this is the best album of 2001 (when it was released) and it looks like 2002 as well, that I have heard. The degree of acoustic musicianship on this album is excellent, and the songwriting is both direct and poetic -- the sort of songwriting you really don't find anymore, though the genre has been freshly reinterpreted here. It's outstanding music and at the same time probably unlike just about anything else you've heard. Also, it's great to see the Great Lakes and their state get their due beyond just "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald". Very good music.






Finding the Mythic (?) in the Mundane

Superfriend Britain directs us to notice, of all things, the URLs in the location bar of your browser as you browse through Amazon.com. For example, click here and you'll notice the first part of the URL is "http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos".

But who, we wonder, is "Obidos"?

Fortunately Britain provides one possible explanation (which, he assures us, will make us envision a "pointy-hatted sprite dashing
about fetching books/music/consumer electronics" -- I know it has done so for me), that Obidos is a mis-transliteration of "Oblios", the complete story of which can be found here.






Ben Curtis (aka The Dell Guy) has got it made.








Monday, September 02, 2002

Monday Mission

I don't usually do these sorts of things but, hey...

1. What's the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to you on a date?
Okay, there is absolutely no way -- NO WAY -- I would ever discuss this on my 'blog, okay? Maybe someday I'll tell a priest, but ... anyway ... good times ... on to question #2.

2. Do you eat your veggies?
What are you? My mother? For your information, Mr. Smartyknickers, I eat more veggies than Coolio's got rhymes. And he has got a lot of rhymes.

3. Most people are comfortable going to the bathroom in front of at least one person. Has anyone ever used the restroom in front of you that you wish wouldn't have? What happened and how bad was it?
Can't say that this has ever happened to me. Nope. Not ever. Well, there was that one time with that Australian guy in Belgium... nah. You wouldn't want to hear about that.

4. Have you ever had a bad online transaction? You know, the item wasn't what you thought it would be, you got totally ripped-off, no refunds, it just plain sucked? What's the story there?
I have always been satsified with every product I've purchased online. So much so that I don't go to stores anymore. Or leave the house.

5. Ever have a current love find any old love letters (or similar item) you kept that probably should have been thrown away? How did that turn out?
I keep every letter that everyone has ever written to me -- and time was I was a big letter writer, so I've got a few. None of them are too bad, though. Most are embarassing only in where they seem to indicate I was coming from, spiritually speaking, at the time (and there was that whole African tribal hippy phase... ugh).

6. A secretary at work was telling me about a trip she took to Mardi Gras. [...blah blah blah... boooooring....] I was shocked, I had no idea this quiet gal had a wild side. Was there ever a time when you did something totally outrageous because you knew no one would know who you were, or maybe didn't care even if they did?
I've never let the people I'm around stop me from doing totally outrageous things... one time I chugged a whole can of Mountain Dew in under six seconds -- and this was before they had those wide-mouthed openings!

7. Hey, what happened to you last night? I waited forever!
Well, you know. I was with people.

BONUS: I know I could break you down, but what good would it do?
You would learn all my secrets. Not that you would know what to do with them.







Cool Robot!

Jeff Miller of Atheist to a Theist 'blog passes along this link (and I've finally added you to the big list o' links!).

Does 'ROBONAUT' Have the Right Stuff?
(If you're having difficulties watching the movie, check out the official NASA Robonaut page. Actually, check out the NASA page anyway. It's really cool).

Very cool Robot (or, more accurately, "Android"). It's not as cute as Honda's ASIMO Robot (aka. the creepy demented-kid-with-a-backpack-looking Robot), but it looks like it'll be doing more and doing it more quickly than Honda's Robot -- in space, no less. Still, I'm not sure why they felt they had to make it look like a person, though (well -- actually, I do: for those government-type bucks. "Shake hands with Mr. Robot, Senator!"). For this sort of purpose, something looking more like a spider would probably be better suited. But then, most Robots would be more functional if they looked more like spiders. (Though again, "Let this 200lb Robot spider climb all over you, Senator!" lacks that certain appeal).






Amy Welborn, probably the only 'blog you really need to read, has this to say about the recent interview in Oprah magazine with Phil Donahue where he desrcibes an abortion he filmed for his show and showed to a room of folks. He calles the unborn child who is vacuumed out and utterly rendered and destroyed the "birth matter in the jar." I've always considered Phil Donahue to be the worst kind of "post-lower intestinal matter," bound by his own actions for that place where all matter is more or less atomized by the heat, but -- what the heck -- I'll say a half-assed prayer for his salvation. There. Done.






James Akin, the younger elder-statesman of Catholic Apologetics (not to be confused with Jim Aikin, Senior Editor of Keyboard Magazine) has his own 'blog! He's using it pretty much as a tool for a book he's working about how not to write apologetics (apologetically?). Anyway, he has a very nice post here about those neophyte or otherwise inexperienced or unskilled writers who feel that each and every sentence which they write on their computers needs to be filled to the rim with every conceivable sort of adverbial or adjectival modifier.

I agree.

I can't tell you how far I've thrown some books in which the author seems to be attempting to be crafty with all sorts of modifiers and meanwhile I'm all just like "Hey, just get to the point, okay? What happened?" and they're all like "No, I'm going to tell you exactly HOW she took the piece of paper away from him in excruciating detail right down to the way he thought the paper smelled as it left her fingertips and you're going to just sit back and TAKE it because if you don't read every single word you'll miss something really good like right here where she sticks her tongue in his ear! See? If you had skipped over the end of this paragraph you would've missed that," only there's no way I could've missed that because there's like four sentences about her "serpentine" tongue and his "deep, mysterious, and receiving" ear canal.

Ugh.

Writers. Who needs 'em?






So, for the past two or three days (inbetween everything else) I've been playing through a bit of the just-released Super Mario Sunshine for the Nintendo GameCube. It's awesome. I think it's probably the only game I've played in recent memory where I'd be perfectly happy doing nothing but playing the game until I beat it. A large part of this is due to the non-linear structure of the game. The game is made up of about 80 or so different "episodes," and the game is structured so that an any given moment you have at least four or five of these from which to choose. If one becomes frustrating, you just move on to a different one. Of course, none of this would matter if the game wasn't any fun -- but this game is fun. As I figure it, Mr. Miyamoto has introduced about a dozen different play mechanics into the gaming canon with this title... he really is a creative genius. His work is very popular, though, so its easy to overlook that.

Also it doesn't hurt that the game takes place entirely on a tropical island and captures the look of the pure blue water, the heat which makes distant object shimmer, and the white, blinding sunshine perfectly (the island actually starts off overcast and gets more and more bright the more shines Mario is able to collect). Then there's the buildings which look totally Dutch colonial and the sand... it's all yum. It's obvious that a large portion of the development team spent some time in the islands capturing their feel for this title. Since it doesn't seem that Jackie and I will be making it back to St. John anytime soon, this is a nice little reminder of that trip -- though, admittedly, no game can truly capture the sensuous thump, thump, thumping of The Jam Band playing in the town square until 7 or 8 in the morning (we arrived on July 3rd -- the islands' independence/emancipation day, and St. John, as it turns out, is where everyone from the other islands go to party).

Fun stuff, though.








Sunday, September 01, 2002

Who's the cutest baby in all the land?

Not a picture of either of our cats, so you don't get to drink. Sorry.


(And please don't give me any lectures about over-exposure. Or about bad puns).





Currently,

©2004 Victor Lams