Friday, March 30, 2007

T-ShirtHumor.com

You know, if Fred Thompson decides to run for President, they'll have to stop running the most recent seasons of Law & Order on cable. I realize they need to be fair to the other candidates who have more money raised and better hair, but still... it bugs me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ad Random

• Here's something that doesn't happen every day at mwbh. The current Lenten series "Sermons for Shut-Ins," featuring Cardinal Rigali, elicited a favorable comment -- from its producer. Dan Kearns from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia wrote: "With great thanks for linking to Living Lent. It is a wonderful service you do (I love the "Sermons for Shut-ins" title!) and your spreading the good news is much appreciated." And so, an extra Tip of the Black Hat this week goes out to a Man in the Red Hat. (Yo, Eminence! I'll make a deal with you; keep it up year-round and I'll keep it up here.)

• They finally coughed up an explanation: Anne Nicole Smith died of an accidental dose of perscription medications, as did Marilyn Monroe (officially). Imagine how underwhelmed we are here at mwbh. FOX News analyst Michelle Malkin explained who could continue to be fascinated by this: "There are too many Americans who are celebrity-obsessed tabloid junkies, who live in an unserious [sic] world, who don't deal in reality, and would rather live vicariously through C-list has-beens and their groupies." She neglected to mention that these same people... vote.

I had a major hard drive failure at the office yesterday. And since we're the only office in the entire agency that runs on Macs -- hey, we're designers, it can happen -- it will be like pulling teeth to get a contractor in here to determine whether I've lost the last three months worth of work that wasn't backed up. Fortunately, my class work is all backed up at home. What's left I can actually re-do for the most part. There's two weeks of my life I'll never get back. That's assuming the worst. Stay tuned...

Everyone else is yammering about the "imminent" motu proprio from Rome, that would permit broader use of the pre-conciliar form of the Mass in Latin -- the so-called "Tridentine Mass." In at least three locations, my head's spinning with a continual round of polemical deja vu. The New Liturgical Movement actually has some intelligent analysis on the subject. You could almost ignore the rest and not miss much. Which is why I'm attempting the same.

I finished class last week, and have only one week of respite before moving on to "Intermediate Scripting Languages." This class is in the evenings too; Tuesdays and Thursdays instead of Mondays and Wednesdays. That means that I can get back to watching NBC's Heroes and CBS's Jericho. Hey, I never claimed to be a Luddite about the mass media, okay? Sometimes even the "Big Three" do something right. As to the class, I just hope I do at least as well as with the Fundamentals session. I've got a mid-term review coming up later this year, when a group of faculty try to tell me everything I've done wrong for the last two years, and I try to tell them they're not dealing with a punk-ass kid this time around. It should be great sport!

• One of the great television dramas, which has created a record three spin-offs, is NBC's Law and Order. Most of my self-confidence in a courtroom can be traced to watching the re-runs. Fred Dalton Thompson, who currently plays the district attorney, was a senator from Tennessee before getting into acting full time. And he is considering running for President. I saw him interviewed recently, and I was more than impressed. He opened his position on abortion with two words: "Pro Life." That was enough for me, but he also explained by Roe v Wade is "bad law," and he is right on the money. Who knows, I might actually vote for a Republican again. (Of course, if he runs, they'll probably pull the ones that show him. That's really gonna bite.)

• And for the moment (not counting the fact that recent events have created a backlog of material just begging to be shared with the world), that's all the news that fits!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Annunciation(s)

Unidentified painting courtesy Fisheaters.com

Yesterday, the 25th of March, is the traditional feast day of the Annunciation, which appeared on a Sunday this year, thus transferring its active observance to Monday.

On this feast, the Church commemorates the appearance of the angel Gabriel to a young girl in the town of Nazareth, in Galilee -- a girl named Miriam (Mary). It was on that occasion that she was filled with the Holy Spirit, and though a virgin betrothed to a local carpenter named Yusef (Joseph), was thus conceived in the womb with the Son of God, whom she would deliver exactly nine months later.

Tradition says that Christ was crucified on the 25th of March. Another commentator elaborates on the significance of this date:

On that same day Adam, the first man, was created and fell into original sin by inobedience, and was put out of paradise terrestrial. After, the angel showed the conception of our Lord to the glorious Virgin Mary. Also that same day of the month Cain slew Abel his brother. Also Melchisedech made offering to God of bread and wine in the presence of Abraham. Also on the same day Abraham offered Isaac his son. That same day St John Baptist was beheaded, and St Peter was that day delivered out of prison, and St James the more, that day beheaded of Herod. And our Lord Jesu Christ was on that day crucified, wherefore that is a day of great reverence. (Jacobus de Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa, 1275)

So it was not only the incarnation of Christ, but the whole of salvation history, which tradition holds to have been brought to full circle on this day.

Now, I probably shouldn't brag about this, but I had an annunciation of sorts last night.

I was sitting in church with Mom, and we heard an announcement from the pulpit that Dad had passed away. I looked at her and began whispering, in an exchange that went something like this:

"Hey Mom, did you know about this?"

"Well of course I knew about it. What kind of a question is that?"

"Well, you could've said something beforehand, you know? I didn't even bring a suit to wear."

"Oh, don't worry about it. Just show up with whatever you've got. Your brother and his boys aren't getting all dressed up. Why do YOU have to?"


Fortunately, that's when I woke up.

I called the house early this morning. Ever the farmer's daughter, Mom still gets up "with the chickens." Yesterday, the weather was so nice, they went to a dinner at the parish hall, honoring couples with special wedding anniversaries. Their 55th will be in June. Dad hadn't been there in a few years, not being up to it and all.

From that, I can deduce that he's still among us.

And so it goes...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sermon for Shut-Ins: Lent V



"[T]he scribes and the Pharisees
brought a woman
who had been caught in adultery
and made her stand in the middle...
Jesus bent down
and began to write on the ground
with his finger..."
(John 8:1-11)

His Eminence Justin Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, offers the fifth in a series of reflections for the Lenten season.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Read any good books lately?

The Online Books Page is a searchable and browseable collection of over 25,000 free books on the Web, hosted by the University of Pennsylvania Library. The collection is available in various formats, that are all free for personal, noncommercial use.

The site is the brainchild of John Mark Ockerbloom, a digital library planner and researcher at UPenn. He is solely responsible for the content of the site.

Major parts of the site include: an index of thousands of online books freely readable on the Internet, pointers to significant directories and archives of online texts, special exhibits of particularly interesting classes of online books, and information on how readers can help support the growth of online books.

Friday, March 23, 2007

A Hard Day's Night of the Living Dead



For this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy, mwbh presents this curious juxtpositioning. (H/T Allahpundit of Hot Air.)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Fessio Revisited

At 11:30 in the evening, this just in from DarwinCatholic:

"It seems that whatever exactly Fr Fessio and the rest of the administration's differences were, they've reached the compromise that Fr Fessio will assume the position of "Theologian in Residence" and both teach courses at AMU and help deal with their study abroad program. What exactly this means about the nature of the original disagreement remains unclear."

The memo from AMU President Healy is copied here. My money is on someone having gotten a phone call today from the Vatican. But what the hell do I know? In any case, the plot thickens...

[THIS GETS BETTER: A post from Dom Bettinelli includes an eyebrow-raising commentary from journalist Jay McNally.]

Hail Mary Incorporated: Farewell to Fessio

Jesuit Father Joseph Fessio, once a student of the man who is now Pope Benedict XVI, has been asked to resign as Provost of Ave Maria University, and to leave immediately.

Fessio sent an e-mail shortly after 2:00 yesterday afternoon to members of the Ave Maria community:

"To the Ave Maria University community: I have been asked to resign my position as provost and leave the campus immediately.

"I will miss Ave Maria and the many of you whom I hold dear.

"Fr Joseph Fessio, SJ"


AMU officials said Fessio was asked to step down as a result of "irreconcilable differences over administrative policies and practices."

Uh-huh.

According to a report in the Naples Daily News, students have been outraged upon hearing the news, including seniors who were hoping to graduate with Fessio present. A few have wept openly.

Meanwhile, Angelqueen provides a possible glimpse into some of those irreconcilable differences:

Fessio was not at all pleased with the liturgical direction AMU had taken. He felt that healing Masses were an abomination and having such gross modernistic types of liturgy did not fit the bill that the founders of AMU sold to investors, potential students and other interested parties.

The more traditional/orthodox minded faculty, staff and students blame much of the modernistic mindset and initiatives on President Nick Healy, a dedicated "praise and worship" Charismatic. Although Healy, a lawyer, layman and right-hand man of Tom Monaghan, had no qualifications whatsoever in theology or liturgy (or higher education for that matter), he was charged with controlling the liturgy after Father Fessio was removed from his position of Chancellor and head of the chaplaincy - being relegated to more of a figurehead role as provost....


This explains much of the tension that led to Fessio's removal. But more important, it underscores an ongoing tension among "orthodox" Catholics -- between those committed to Catholicity in worship, and those involved with the charismatic movement. Some of the latter comprise the leadership of AMU, so the good Father was a mismatch waiting to happen.

The AMU statement also said that officials would like Fessio to serve the university in an advisory capacity in the future. "We are grateful for the enormous contributions Father Fessio has made to the development of Ave Maria University, especially to the liturgical and intellectual development of the institution." Given the heavy-handedness of this episode -- especially in the wake of other such actions by administrators and certain benefactors of the school -- it is difficult to imagine at this point how that would come about.

After all, when you're "filled with the Holy Spirit," how can you possibly do anything wrong? Some people didn't learn their lessons in Newark and Ann Arbor, did they???

[UPDATE: Rocco Palmo has filed one report, and then another. The latter suggests a connection between statements made by Fessio regarding homosexuality, and the action by AMU. Assuming the University would even want to endorse a contrary opinion, those who have watched events at Ave Maria over the years, would find sufficient turmoil already in the works.]

[THEN AGAIN... No telling of the entire Ave Maria soap opera would be complete without Fumare.]

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The hardest working child in show business...



...would have to be 11-year-old "Mojo Myles" Mancuso, shown here performing a tribute to James Brown. He plays the bass and rythym guitar tracks into a loop station pedal for the first round, then improvises on top of them with lead guitar, keyboard, and/or saxophone. Meanwhile, his father backs him on drums. Myles, who is self-taught, has been performing in and around New York City with his own band, Mojo Myles and the Blue Ryders, since he was nine. He has appeared with guitar legend Les Paul (who probably taught him a thing or two about overdubbing, which he basically invented), as well as Levon Helm (formerly of The Band), Kate Taylor, and Bill Perry.

Oh, and he has a website, where you are likely to see more of... his Mojo workin.'

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Spring is sprung, the grass is 'riz!

This evening, at exactly 8:07 Eastern Daylight Time, is the vernal equinox, the beginning of spring. The word "equinox" is from the Latin for "equal night." It defines that point at which the Sun crosses the equator from south to north, as nature is made anew in the Northern Hemisphere.

The weather in the Nation's capital today is mostly sunny, and sixty degrees. Tomorrow will be in the forties, but that will just be a fluke, as it gets warmer and starts raining later in the week. Judging from the long-range forecast, it would appear that the worst is over. Speaking of which, I finished school for the winter quarter. My very first javascript project is now online, and can be accessed by clicking on "Portfolio" in the section entitled "The Usual Suspects" (or be lazy and just click on it here). The username and password are both "etcetera" -- one word, all lower case, no quotes. Best results are with Firefox, as well as Netscape for Windows. The best news is that I just might get an above average grade, on account of a breakthrough in code-cracking that occurred this time yesterday.

Tomorrow I'm off, to go pick daisies (if I can find any) and catch up on my reading. Serious stuff, mind you, like how a bunch of math geeks figured out one of the biggest mathematical problems in history, as well as why the rest of us should care.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Above the 37th Parallel

Of all the people I know back home, the ones I remember best are those from childhood. Through all the growing pains, there is a sense of kindred spirits. This is especially the case among those with whom I attended Catholic schools for twelve years. One of them was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1989, and her story hits the stage of the Queen City this summer.

She knew multiple sclerosis can be disabling and wondered what she might face one day.

"My best friend's mother died from complications of MS at 45," [Nancy] Jones said. "I watched her go from being a young, active mother with four kids to walking with a cane and then a walker and then being bedridden."

Six people on the street she grew up on in Milford developed multiple sclerosis. "We had our own little cluster," she said.

After living in Cincinnati for many years, Jones moved back to Milford a few years ago because she needed a one-story house.

Almost 18 years after her diagnosis, Jones, 51, has compiled her questions, answers and musings about living with a long-term illness into a one-woman play.


Among those "six people on the street she grew up on" was my Dad, who was diagnosed in 1970, at the age of 45. That's six people on a street with thirty-six houses. That's a lot, I should think. I suppose I could arrange to be in Cincinnati sometime in August. Opening night is always the best time to see a new play. Besides, the proceeds go to further research into the causes of MS, with the hope of a cure. Cincinnati is taking the lead there too.

Nancy Jones goes over the script for her play with Drew Fracher, who will direct the production at the Aronoff Center in August. They're at her home in Milford, a one-floor house because stairs pose a problem. (The Enquirer/Leigh Taylor)
Nancy Jones goes over the script for her play with Drew Fracher, who will direct the production at the Aronoff Center in August. They're at her home in Milford, a one-floor house because stairs pose a problem. (The Enquirer/Leigh Taylor)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Vesper Hymn

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.


I used to think Sunday evening was the loneliest time of the week. Especially when I'd come back from Baltimore after spending much of the weekend hanging around there. That was when I was part of "the gang." Then there was a falling out within the ranks, and members of "the gang" started taking sides. Guess which side I was on. I still see a few of them at dances. It's all very cordial, but not the same. I see the photo collections on the web of parties where I used to get invited, but now I don't. It all seems so... junior high. Then you remember most of these people are in their fifties. That just ain't natural.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.


There is one activity in "the folk scene" to which I've been consistently devoted for many years, and that's the Washington Folk Festival, sponsored annually by the Folklore Society of Greater Washington. I've ben editor/designer of the program guide since 1992. The people with whom I work are absolutely terrific, if only because most of them act their age. There's rarely any politics involved that I can tell (and I can always tell), and the work is genuinely appreciated. I wish I could do more with the music end of it all, but Washington is a tough town. The same few people seem to dominate everything, and it tends to be very cliquish. If I were living back in Cincinnati, I'd be in a working band by now. Here, all the action seems to be in Maryland, especially in and around Takoma Park, where all the aging trust-fund hippies live.

Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word;
But as Thou dwell’st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.


Then there's my Scouting work. It's a different experience than when I was a boy. Not just because I'm an adult. There's more women, more lawyers (meaning more paperwork, although getting your membership card in a timely manner is too much to ask), and at least around here, more Mormons, which feels kinda weird. Back in the day, we used to wear our uniform to most activities. It was seen as a genuine piece of equipment, part of "doing Scouting." Now, boys who can afford $100 for gym shoes can't afford half that for the complete uniform, in one of the richest parts of the country. We had kids on relief back home, and they always managed to pull a second-hand set together. Give me a break.

Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings,
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea—
Come, Friend of sinners, and thus bide with me.


I can't give my Scouting activities the time I'd like. In fact, I can't give much of anything the time I'd like, because of school. My javascript class is the hardest I've ever had. Even though I've been an honor student, my midterm was a C+, and I'll be lucky to get that in the end. Thing is, if I get a D, it might not count toward graduation, in which case I'll be really pissed. All this work just to have to do it over, and that professor wants to dismiss class before the eleventh week (saved for make-up days, which are due this time) is up. I've been making some noise about that at department level. But if nothing else, it gave me a golden opportunity to get back up to speed on my coding skills.

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile;
And, though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee,
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.


One place where my coding skills would pay off, is this page that you, gentle reader, are viewing now. As mwbh approaches its fifth anniversary, it is a time to take stock of things, and consider the direction in which it is going. Some other guy can wear his Faith on his sleeve, do little more than link clever remarks to someone else's news stories, and before you know it, he's the next big thing. There's obviously a demand for it, but it's a quick road to success, and in five years, I've seen this variety burn out. Besides, what could they possibly talk about on the radio for an hour? They always miss the really big stories too, like the parish golf tournament in Natchez, Mississippi. What are they thinking???

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.


It would have been much better if the Pope had released Sacramentum Caritatis a week later -- like, say, this week -- so I would have been done with class (or it would have been done with me), and could have jumped right one it. Fortunately, I've read what everybody else has written, and there's enough to inspire a coherent analysis. Meanwhile, there was a counter-demonstration in Washington yesterday, because a bunch of Jane Fonda wannabes were there, and word on the street was they might have tried defacing memorials, as they have before. It's not that I'm a big fan of this particular war. I'm a big fan of guys who believe some things are worth dying for. Like, oh, my way of life. They deserve better. There's already talk of reinstating the draft. If the Bush girls don't go, I don't blame my son for not going. Not because he shouldn't go, but because it's less than honest if they don't have to. (Did that make sense?)

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.


I was at the altar today, serving the Latin Mass at St Lawrence. My knees have been giving me problems, probably due to arthritis. It runs in the family, and it could be a lot worse. I suppose I should "offer it up," except that suffering doesn't do much for posture or decorum. There is a near-life-size crucifix above the altar. I stare at it much of the time I'm up there, if not to the point of missing a cue. I'm not exactly on the fast track to "master of ceremonies." Beats the hell outa me why, I probably don't look the part well enough. On the other hand, it's a relatively uncomplicated situation, free of the politics and game-playing that characterized life in the sacristy of that other place. Here, we serve the priest, not some twit with no life and a stick up his...

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.


Thankfully, "God alone sufficeth." That, and tomorrow is another day.

(Words: Henry F Lyte, 1847. Music: Eventide, William H Monk, 1861.)
.

Sermon for Shut-Ins: Lent IV



"Jesus addressed this parable:
'A man had two sons,
and the younger son said to his father,
"Father give me the share of your estate
that should come to me."
After a few days, the younger son
collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country...'"
(Luke 15:1-3, 11-32)

His Eminence Justin Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, offers the fourth in a series of reflections for the Lenten season.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Celtic Tap Dance



Bob Kilgore of Greenwood, South Carolina: "This is the closest I ever came to a 'Celtic' composition. It started off as an experiment with counterpoint, but something tribal seems to have taken over. The tuning is DADGDE and I don't use my harmonic capo on this one."

My Celtic Moments Revisited

[What follows is a compilation of past writings at mwbh for this occasion.]

T-ShirtHumor.com

Today the Church celebrates the feast of Saint Patrick (387-493), patron of Ireland. It is on the Emerald Isle that the day is traditionally a religious holiday -- the bars would close and the churches would be full out of obligation -- with the more rebellious spirit of recent years, complete with parades and green beer, being an American import. Who knew?

Growing up in a postwar Catholic environment, we were told that there were two kinds of people; those who were Irish, and those who wish they were. There were even Irish nuns who favored the Irish kids, and weren't above calling some miscreant a "jackass." Of course, my family fell into neither category, and I came to dismiss the whole notion of St Paddy's Day -- indeed, the whole notion of being Irish -- as a license for certain people to be more obnoxious than usual.

Then I went to college, where I discovered Irish music. I mean the real thing, not the over-romanticized "Christmas-in-Killarney-on-St-Patrick's-in-June" that passed itself off as genuine the whole time. I simply could not get enough of it. In the late 70s I helped out at a coffeehouse, where we even brought Clannad to town on their first American tour. I even gave Maire Brennan (pronounced MOY-uh) a ride back to where she was staying. Otherwise shy and aloof, she even laughed at my jokes. That seemed to matter at the time.

By then, the feast became an annual ritual, of spending most of the accompanying weekend hanging out at Hap's Irish Pub in the Hyde Park section of Cincinnati, or Arnold's Bar and Grill downtown. Even when I moved to Washington in 1980, I learned Irish dancing, Irish folk tales, and the like. But the upscale bars in the Nation's capital weren't as quaint as the neighborhood pubs in my old hometown, and I was under no illusions that this heritage was one that I could claim for my own.

Then a few years ago, I was interviewed for a writing job by a priest who edited a major Catholic periodical. A native of Dublin, he reminded me of what really mattered:

"Patrick was not Irish, and on his Feast Day, we do not celebrate being Irish; we celebrate being Catholic."

I always knew that my father's side came from a small town near Verdun, in the Lorraine province of France. But in recent years, we learned that before the 18th century, the Alexandre line was expatriated from Scotland, a result of the Rebellion when England overtook them. More recently, I was to learn that Maganus Sucatus was of a Roman family, born in Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, in that part of Great Britain that is now Scotland. Sooooo... if not being Irish were not enough, Patrick -- as he was known in later years, being of the Roman "patrician" class, and a "patriarch" to his spiritual charges -- might well be claimed by the Scots as one of their own.

One highlight of the day will be the Annual Irish Poetry Reading, which is basically when I call my folks in Ohio on this day every year, and with the speakerphone on, recite the following piece by Benjamin Hapgood Burt in a very bad Irish brogue:

One evening in October, when I was one-third sober,
   An' taking home a "load" with manly pride;
My poor feet began to stutter, so I lay down in the gutter,
   And a pig came up an' lay down by my side;
Then we sang "It's all fair weather when good fellows get together,"
   Till a lady passing by was heard to say:
"You can tell a man who 'boozes' by the company he chooses"
   And the pig got up and slowly walked away.


Today, those who are Irish, or who wish they were, will dine on corned beef and cabbage. Sal and I will listen to Celtic music the entire day, and get a take-out order of the above from an Irish pub. Then tonight we'll probably watch Mel Gibson in Braveheart. Who cares if William Wallace was Scottish? No one cares if Patrick is, do they?

After all, "The Apostle of Ireland" is properly claimed by Catholics everywhere. "Agus fagaimid siud mar ata se."

Image courtesy of Fisheaters.com.
Image courtesy of Fisheaters.com.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Euteneuer Revisited

Following his appearance on Fox News, Father Euteneuer appears to be becoming an issue, as would be his apostolate, Human Life International. Bill Cork reads opportunism into the good Father's appearance, which is enough to bring John Mallon out of the woodwork.

Bill takes time out from renaming his blog, to make a passing reference to HLI's founder, Father Paul Marx. This is a different subject in and of itself, and a chapter of HLI's history in which Euteneuer was barely involved, if at all. So why does it matter here? Did ulterior motives (assuming there were any) have any effect on Euteneuer's performance?

In the end, what you have is a Catholic priest on television, who doesn't mind acting like one.

Anybody got a problem with that?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Stating the Obvious

The above is the title of an essay in Salon magazine. Here is a quote:

Nature is about continuation of the species -- in other words, children. Nature does not care about the emotional well-being of older people.

Under the old monogamous system, we didn't have the problem of apportioning Thanksgiving and Christmas among your mother and stepdad, your dad and his third wife, your mother-in-law and her boyfriend Hal, and your father-in-law and his boyfriend Chuck. Today, serial monogamy has stretched the extended family to the breaking point. A child can now grow up with eight or nine or 10 grandparents -- Gampa, Gammy, Goopa, Gumby, Papa, Poopsy, Goofy, Gaga and Chuck


Gumby???

What makes the piece so remarkable is the author: Garrison Keillor. That's right, the host of the public radio variety show Prairie Home Companion, who can barely resist the urge to go on some binge of political correctness when the microphone is on, may have discovered his inner Midwestern provincialism -- if only for a moment.

Once I was at a party at a neighbor's house, a gay couple with a house full of mostly other gay couples. (It can happen.) I was talking to a kid who was playing by the garden pond in the back yard. A man came to pick him up. The way the kid responded made me ask, "So, is this your father?" The man and his companion looked at me with some surprise, and told me their son had never heard that word before. It was as if I should have understood as much.

There's a message there somewhere.

Keillor's getting the message too. Mark Shea reports that "Dan Savage replies by raving like a flaming drama queen and Andrew Sullivan's One Man Magisterium declares Keillor a homophobe. All because the old liberal who has made it clear he supports gay marriage has also dared to observe that, you know, it's not all about you."

No, it isn't. That's what having a family means, by any definition. It's hard enough when you're divorced against your wishes, and your son has to split holiday visits from an early age. You learn how little sense it makes. So you have to remind yourself that this isn't how it should be, so it is, so you make the best of it. Because once you forget the way things ought to be, you end up thinking it ought to be something else. You lower the bar for yourself, you lower it for your progeny. Then it's no longer about the children. And the children become who you are.

And you don't want that to be too chilling a thought, when you youself become one of those "older people." Because if nature doesn't care, at least your children will know to care. Don't you think?

Or don't you?

Fox Revisited



On the heels of an earlier post, "Crazy Like A Fox," this clip became available. Robert Stacy McCain of The Washington Times is keeping track of comments at the Times website. (H/T to Allahpundit of Hot Air.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Exploring Constitutional Law

James Madison

From the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, comes this faculty website devoted to issues and controversies surrounding constitutional law.

It includes, naturally, the text of the Constitution itself. It goes on to explore its history, and the major figures in its formation, including the man who would one day become president, James Madison (above). The reader is also introduced to the US Supreme Court, and the landmark cases upon which it has ruled. There are also a host of links dedicated to specific issues, from property rights to prayer in public schools.

Click on Madison to learn more.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sacramentum Caritatis: Introduction

The post-Synodal Exhortation on the Eucharist, Sacramentum Caritatis (Sacrament of Love) is now available. Our research desk here at mwbh will be printing out copies and having an all-night pizza party and poker game, while we sort through the details and look between the lines for anything lost in the jump from Latin to English (an occupational hazard these days). The comments box is WIDE OPEN, and we'll be including select remarks in our "Analysis" segment.

We'll also be scouring Mark Shea's combox, so that we can pretend his legion of devoted followers wrote here instead. You'll be none the wiser, and he won't miss them. Stay tuned...

Monday, March 12, 2007

Crazy Like A Fox

I was watching Hannity & Colmes on the Fox News Channel last Friday night. The guest was Father Thomas Euteneuer, president of Human Life International. Apparently he took Sean Hannity to task for statements Hannity made about certain teachings and/or practices of the Church. Now, one of the characteristics of these talking head smackdowns on cable news channels, is the use of style over substance. If you can't ask a thoughtful question or wait one microsecond for a thoughtful answer, you bludgeon your opponent with a string of dumb-ass questions for which you have no expectation of an answer. Concerning matters of religion in public life, the more cliché-ridden, the better. These are not stupid people, merely self-absorbed. They know why people watch, they know what people want.

Some talking heads have gotten tired of it all. I'm guessing (although I can't be sure) that it's one reason you don't see Pat Buchanan, Jack Germond, or Robert Novak on these types of shows as much as you used to. (Yes, I realize Novak walked off CNN. Who can blame him?)

A partial transcript of the interview (if you can call it that) appears at The Cafeteria Is Closed. Despite wanting for straight answers, it ended with some:

Hannity: What are you doing? I haven’t read an article about that. Have you ever written an article about that instead of taking cheap shots at people that are publicly Catholic?

Fr Euteneuer: Yeah, go to my web site: Hli.org and you’ll see a lot of criticism of these issues. I’m criticizing you because you’re not consistent. You’re professing to be a Catholic and you are not.

Hannity: And I’m criticizing you. Are you perfect Father? Are you perfect in every way? Have you not sinned? “Ye who is without sin cast the first stone”, I think I read that some where.

Colmes: You guys need a Jew to break this up. But let me ask you this: Would Hannity be welcome at your Church? Would Hannity be welcome at your Church, Father?

Fr Euteneuer: Well, if renounced his belief in birth control and stop professing it publicly.

Hannity: Wait, would you deny me communion?

Fr Euteneuer: I would.

Hannity: Wow, wow.


Personally, I believe Father Euteneuer held up well under the circumstances. In the long run, I don't believe he has the belly for this kind of thing. We all have our gifts, and he should probably be grateful this isn't his. I'd send in a genuine pit bull like Father Peter Stravinskas, someone who could bite the guy's head off, and still come back for seconds.

Now THAT'S what I call entertainment!

Pertinacious Converts

When converts first begin to sing,
   Wonder, wonder, wonder.
Their happy souls are on the wing,
   Wonder, wonder, wonder.
Their theme is all-redeeming love,
   Wonder, wonder, wonder.
Fain would they be with Christ above,
   Wonder, wonder, wonder.


Dr Philip Blosser has lamented the disappointment of some converts to Catholicism, who discover that what they read in the great works of the Church Fathers and Doctors and Authors like John Henry Newman and all, are not made manifest in parish life. He cites the disillusion encountered with the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) programs in most parishes, many of which succeed in dumbing down the Faith to the point where a number of his colleagues have returned to Protestantism.

All this, in a piece entitled "Protestant reverts: Catholic dishonesty in advertising?"

The Second Vatican Council called for a revival of the ancient catechumenate. In the USA, it has been largely touted for its experiential qualities. This can be problematic, since the Catholic Faith is largely cognitive in terms of formation. Instead of feeling saved, through Christ and His Church one is saved. The will may precede the intellect, but there it rests in the end.

Every fall my parish would make an announcement, and I've actually thought about sponsoring someone. I've read entirely entirely too much about the Faith for my own good; how hard can it be? But I have also endured through RCIA rituals at Mass. I am genuinely embarrassed for most of the candidates. They undoubtedly put a great deal of personal soul-searching into this. Then they are made to stand facing of hundreds of people, along with their sponsors, some of whom are called to the pulpit at the Easter Vigil, to introduce their charges and prattle on about what a wonderful experience it was for them (that is, the sponsors). Then there's a round of applause. Once when I visited my parish back home, one of the star attractions was a guy who was already Catholic, but was introduced as "returning." Sort of like a "do over." What happens next, do they repeat the rite of confirmation?

Me, I'd run (not walk) screaming for the exit. And I'm not one who's shy about public speaking.

They make no doubt but all is well,
   Wonder, wonder, wonder.
And Satan is cast down in hell,
   Wonder, wonder, wonder.
They feel themselves quite free of pain,
   Wonder, wonder, wonder.
And think their enemies are slain,
   Wonder, wonder, wonder.


One can only conclude that such programs are placed in the hands of well-intentioned weenies who hand you a book of drivel that "the Church" requires you to use. Any time that happens you know that by "the Church," they actually mean some parish weenie committee, largely composed of die-hard committed weenies with entirely too much time on their hands. No doubt they were put there by the good Father, who found in the RCIA a means of keeping them occupied, and getting them out of his hair. I'd sooner take a correspondence course in the mail. (Hey, don't the Knights of Columbus still do that?)

Commenters to Dr Blosser recommend the old-fashioned private instruction with a priest. If you can find one who's competent to the task, more power to you. Personally, I'd only agree to take part in such a charade if a parish priest invited me personally, and we sat down and had a perfectly clear understanding of what would happen -- and what wouldn't.

I can understand the good professor's dilemma. Were I still living in Cincinnati, I seriously doubt I'd be a practicing Catholic today. That place has been out of control for years, going back to when Bernardin ran the show (into the ground). Even here, where things are more or less stable, I still have to "shop around" for a parish with a distinct measure of reverence, and a pastor who knows how to act like an adult. And that's before the catechism lesson even begins. It's one of the reasons I almost converted to Eastern Orthodoxy some years back; I just couldn't take it anymore.

And yet, here I am.

They wonder why old saints don't sing,
   Wonder, wonder, wonder.
And make the heav'nly arches ring,
   Wonder, wonder, wonder.
Ring with melodious, joyful sound,
   Wonder, wonder, wonder.
Because a prodigal is found,
   Wonder, wonder, wonder.
*

In the end, Peter asked our Lord the same question posed by the seeker in all of us: "Lord, to whom else shall we go?" You have to learn to live with that, and find your own island of sanity. Many of the saints had to do the same, and the promise that Christ made to His Church -- that the gates of Hell would not prevail -- would surely account for a few dime-store theologians hanging around the rectory just looking for a break.

Maybe someday, we'll ALL get a break, and get what we came for. Till then...

---

* From the liner notes of The Christmas Revels album Wassail! Wassail!: "This rousing revival song by the Vermont composer Jeremiah Ingalls was written in 1805 for the spirited communal singing at camp meetings during the Great Revival."

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Critical Mass: My Dinner with Athanasius

There is a story of how, when Harry Truman was leaving the presidency, he was heard to remark about his successor, Dwight Eisenhower. It went something like this: "Poor Ike. He'll get in here and think he's still in the Army; telling everybody, do this, do that, and wondering why it doesn't get done."

Getting enough authority figures with minds of their own, from all corners of the world, to move collectively on anything, is a lot harder than some pundits in the Catholic blogosphere make it look. Even in some imaginary "golden era," it never has been easy. Sometimes agreeing on what needs to be done about anything is like "belling the cat." All the mice can agree on the need to be warned when the cat is near, but someone has to bite the bullet and put the bell around its neck. A similar impasse can be reached when determining how the classical Roman liturgy can be re-integrated into the life of a parish or a local diocese. Some years ago, I moderated an e-mail list devoted to the traditional Mass. I posed a challenge to my usually lively audience; what if the Pope issued the universal indult tomorrow? What steps would be taken, and how?

I didn't get a single response. Not even from people who had it all figured out what the Pope should or shouldn't do about damn near everything.

I had an exchange last night with a more reasonable and well-read fellow, the unnamed author of Athanasius Contra Mundum in the comments box of "Critical Mass: Before the Ides of March." He explains at length a few difficulties with the official reform, notably changes to the lectionary. But he also refers to his post entitled "How do we reform the liturgy?" For those interested in the subject, his twelve-step program is worth reading. My interest piqued at one comment in particular:

"One of the perspective horrors of the coming Motu Proprio is the emergence of priests trying to say the Mass with the Novus Ordo mentality, who will either impose a dialog Mass..."

Admittedly, a "dialog Mass," in which the faithful join in virtually all the responses previously reserved to the servers (including the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar), can be cumbersome in large enough numbers. But I take issue with any contention that its use is tantamount to what some have called "creeping Novus Ordo-ism." (Huh???) Even Pius XI encouraged the use of the dialog Mass as early as 1940. (Annibale Bugnini, an architect of the post-conciliar reform of the Mass, was at the time a parish priest in the outskirts of Rome, so that's one less boogyman right there.)

I can distinctly remember, during the late 50s and early 60s, when people responded to priest turning and saying "Orate fratres" ("Pray, brethren...") at the Offertory, or "Ecce Agnus Dei" ("Behold the Lamb of God...") as Communion was being presented. Not quite the extent to which the people's reponses could go, but I could get dirty looks for that much at some places today. The source of this wrath would likely be some self-righteous twerp who wasn't even BORN in 1962, let alone be in any position to tell me how to pray the Mass in a "traditional" way.

People of this ilk have no objective authority for their indignation, save a rash of conspiracy theories that pervade the internet. They really piss me off.

If we're going to agree to use the 1962 Missal, there needs to be an understanding that "1962" is the operative year -- not 1958, or 1955, or 1951, or however far back the more-traditional-than-thou crowd clamors for in the blogosphere. That means the "third Confiteor" preceding Communion has got to go. That means the faithful could conceivably recite the Pater Noster at a low Mass. (No kidding, I looked it up.) But most of all, that means acknowledging an authority over the matter, namely the one in Rome. With things relatively out of control for so long, we've gotten used to imposing our own justice.

Dispensing with that had better be the thirteenth step, or we can just forget about the other twelve.

Sermon for Shut-Ins: Lent III



"[H]e told them this parable:
'There once was a person who had a fig tree
planted in his orchard,
and when he came in search of fruit on it
but found none...'"
(Luke 13:1-9)

His Eminence Justin Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, offers the third in a series of reflections for the Lenten season.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

That Warm Fuzzy Feeling

Families with children are the fastest-growing demographic at St Susanna Catholic Church in Mason. The Rev Dan Schuh credits much of the church's growth to his predecessor, the Rev Harry Meyer, pastor from 1998-2005. (Photo by Meggan Booker/The Enquirer)
Families with children are the fastest-growing demographic at St Susanna Catholic Church in Mason. The Rev Dan Schuh credits much of the church's growth to his predecessor, the Rev Harry Meyer, pastor from 1998-2005. (Photo by Meggan Booker/The Enquirer)

Rich Leonardi highlights a profile in The Cincinnati Enquirer today, about a parish north of Cincinnati, in a town called Mason, known as Saint Susannah's. It is the second-largest parish in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

My only connection to St Susannah's is a priest who was stationed there in the 1950s. Father Charles Murphy (I think that was his name) was Dad's spiritual director at the seminary in the 1940s. When Dad realized he had to leave -- my understanding is that it was a mutual decision -- Father helped him make the adjustment, and they remained in touch for years. Somewhere in an old chest I have a letter from Father, typewritten to me on parish stationary in January, 1955, when I was but a few weeks old. I wish I had it with me now, as I always found it mildly amusing.

Across time, across the years, I can sense a belonging to a chapter in another place.

Fast forward to the present. The area north of Cincinnati has grown by leaps and bounds, and the parish is now described as a "mega-church," worshipping in a huge modern building that looks like a ski lodge. Except for a large life-size crucifix in the center, it is a testimony to the iconoclasm of the times. The parishioners describe their home thus:

"It's a very caring community, very service-oriented, value-centered. We really take care of each other."

"It's just always seemed like home. No matter how big we've gotten, the culture is always the same. It's a very accepting parish."

"That's really how you shrink a big parish... through these opportunities to engage your faith and each other."


Now, this isn't about the sincerity of the priest (the only one in the article who mentions Christ), the parishioners, or anyone else. But one respondent to Rich's post says that "a friend was at this parish when fr harry was there, one of the reasons she left was he prayed to 'father/mother.'" You remember Father Harry; he's the guy who the current pastor says made the place the crackerjack success it is today. The only problem is, if addressing God as "mother" is a heresy (and in the strict sense, it is), and if I'm a Catholic who knows what he believes and isn't too sorry about it, why should that make me feel welcome?

These days I worship in a moderately sized cathedral. It is rarely more than half-full, and if either decorum or sentiment were any indication, it is a bit on the chilly side. But the people are congenial enough, and nobody makes me hold hands with anyone. They wouldn't dare. At the sign of peace, Sal and I exchange a holy kiss, roughly equivalent to how Latin Americans greet one another. (When I'm alone, my nose is in my missal.) Such was the way in the early Church, as opposed to... well, you know.

The parish in Ohio where I grew up is a bit smaller, the building quite a bit older, a homage to another time and place. For years after I left, the choir reserved a space in the tenor section for me. When some Father Feelgood type came along and got everybody holding hands at the Lord's Prayer, I felt left out -- not just because it was uncalled for in the Mass, but because I didn't need some guy from out of town telling me how to feel welcome in the place where I grew up. I could still do without it to this day. The very thing that was supposed to make me feel as if I "belonged" there, had just the opposite effect.

Now I realize nothing stays the same and times do change. I can live with all that. But if they think they have to invent a way to make me feel as if I belong, they should know of only one thing that really ties me to them in the end, and that is the Eucharist. All the gimmicks, all the handshaking and backslapping and dancing around is just needless decoration, if not distraction. One is left standing in the middle, watching the "elect" worship each other. I could get that at the local Moose lodge.

There was little that was either warm or fuzzy at Calvary. And in the early Church, those who gathered were in fear of their lives. In secret houses in the England of Elizabeth, in the misty bogs of Ireland, in the barracks of death camps in Poland and the Ukraine, in darkened apartments in China -- nothing warm or fuzzy there either.

Somewhere in the city of Mason, Ohio, in the midst of a barren sanctuary, is a clue big enough for all to see.

Is anyone looking?

Friday, March 09, 2007

T-ShirtHumor.com

Thursday, March 08, 2007

California Dreamin'



I was sent this video a few days ago by "MT," showing the recently-held closing liturgy of Cardinal Mahony's annual Hunka-Hunka-Burnin' Love Fest -- or as it is known in polite company, the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress.

Naturally, I'd be disappointed were there no dance chorus at the recessional, and they've got that alright, with everyone looking suitably buff. But there is one point earler, before the final blessing, halfway through the clip, where His Immenseness makes some reference to "the other auxiliary bishops," while appearing to refer to the young ladies to his right serving as mitre and crosier bearers (the ones wearing humeral veils).

Maybe I just imagined it, right?

Two recent episcopal appointments, one of them in Dallas, are a sign of a gradual shift in the status quo. Nothing overnight, mind you. What's more, Mahony's ability to hold off his legal difficulties in matters of pederast clerics can only weaken.

Till then, we've got a few more years of this.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Southern-Fried Jersey Girl



A mildly entertaining episode of Vent from Hot Air, featuring a well-appointed interior from Southern Living magazine.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Critical Mass: Before the Ides of March

It has been announced by the Vatican News Service: The post-Synodal Exhortation on the Eucharist, Sacramentum Caritatis (Sacrament of Love), will be released on week from today. You can read about it in either Italian or English.

For some, of course, the only thing that matters is whether the "motu proprio" will be far behind, the document that will allow the unfettered use of the 1962 Missale Romanum (the "Tridentine Mass") without prior approval of the local bishop. How the role of the bishop as chief liturgist of his diocese can possibly be circumvented is beyond Catholic sensibility. One can only imagine what has been mentioned here before; namely, that the onus will not be on the priest to show the presence of genuine pastoral need, but on the bishop to show the lack thereof. My discussions with priests, even those who favor broader use of the old Missal, concede to the needs of their parishes, over those of the faithful from outside who come solely for a specially scheduled Mass. Such consideration may or may not give way to the use of the pre-conciliar Missal.

It is fair to say that the way Mass is celebrated in the typical parish will change dramatically in the next five to ten years, regardless of which set of books are used. Having said that, do not look for such a paradigm shift with the mere stroke of Peter's pen. History is rarely that simple.

Monday, March 05, 2007

My "Ann Coulter" Moment

"Conservatism treats humans as they are, as moral creatures possessing rational minds and capable of discerning right from wrong...."

Bones of Contention

If you're reading this on the day of issue, you'll notice the "Save the Liturgy, Save the World" logo on the sidebar. It was handsomely designed by Gerald Augustinus of The Cafeteria is Closed. The tagline is credited to Father John Zuhlsdorf of What Does The Prayer Really Say? and is a spin-off of a line from the NBC sci-fi thriller Heroes. (The way the tagline appears, it might just as easily say "Save the World, Save the Liturgy." I'd take a vote, but you'll all probably go over to Gerald's and stuff his comments box instead. Like that guy's got nothing better to do...)

The image will remain on the mwbh sidebar for the duration, to endorse the restoration of the sacred to Catholic worship.

Anyway, Father Z had a post today (click here), that ends with his lament: "I have deleted some comments and then closed the comments option. Frankly, I am dismayed at how foolish this became and how quickly. You discourage me." Ironically, the post is entitled "Article in The Tablet does nothing but pick a fight." (Yo, Padre, your first sign of trouble!) Even with the allegedly contentious comments removed, you would at least get some idea from the remaining responses of what went awry. But you don't. You really don't. And yet we mere mortals have disappointed him. Oh, cry me a river!

Now, don't get me wrong (and half the readers listed as "anonymous" invariably do), because I love his excellent commentaries on the orations in the Roman Missal as much as the next guy. But this is what kills me about some high-traffic bloggers. They want the traffic, they beg for it, they get it in spades, and then they start bitching about it. Even after that, and sometimes turning it off for a few days to run some errands, the huddled masses return, like so many lost children of Israel, and pick up where they left off. It is as if to say, "Hey, look, my pseudonym is up there with the cool people!"

You know what I tell these luminaries? The same thing I told The Queen two years ago: SEND THEM TO ME! I'd give anything for half the rancor and mayhem that these giants of Catholic blogdom must endure. I don't want to seem ungrateful for having been nominated for eight CBAs -- and if I hadn't voted for myself in all of them, who knows how pathetic the results would have been? -- but... what do they got that I ain't got?

Besides a book deal, a talk show on satellite radio, a pretty face...

An Eye for Annai



"Annai is a single eyed being. He tries to find a replacement for his missing eye. Finally, he will be rewarded with much more than he was looking for."

Creators: Daniel Rodrigues and Jonathan Klassen

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Thomas Eagleton

AP Photo
Photo: Associated Press

Thomas Eagleton, former Senator from Missouri (and the guy on the left), died today at the age of 77. The cause was not disclosed, but he had suffered from failing health in recent years.

In the 1972 election campaign, Eagleton was picked by Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern to be his running mate, but was dropped from the ticket after it was learned that he had been hospitalized for depression, including electroshock therapy. As I recall, it was in the days before the concession, that McGovern insisted he was behind Eagleton "one thousand percent."

While considered a liberal, Eagleton criticized forced busing (gasp!) as a means of school desegregation, and as a Catholic, also opposed abortion -- back when a liberal could get away with a thing like that.

In an interview with the Associated Press in 2003, Eagleton said he had no regrets: "Being vice president ain't all that much. My ambition, since my senior year in high school, was to be a senator. Not everybody achieves their ambition. I got to the level that I really had no great right to claim."

Eagleton is survived by his wife of just over fifty years, a son and a daughter.

Transfiguration



He said, write down the vision that you had,
  and I wrote what I saw.

I saw the world kissing its own darkness.

It happened thus: I rose to meet the sunrise
  and suddenly over the hill a horde appeared
  dragging a huge tarpaulin.
They covered unwary land and hapless city
  and all sweet water and fields.
And there was no sunrise.

I strained my eyes for a path and there was no path.
I bumped into trees and the bushes hissed at me,
  and the long-armed brambles cried in a strident voice:
  never through here!
But I struggled on, fumbling my beads of no.

I came to a dark city where nobody knew
  that there was darkness.
And strange! though there was no light I still coud see
  what I did not want to see:
  people who moved to the loveless embrace of folly.
They ate her gourmet foods; they drank her wine,
  danced to her music that was crazed with rhythm,
  were themselves discord though they knew it not,
  or if they knew, cared less.

Outside the city wall I stood in thought,
  parried a moment with a frieghtening urge
  to court the darkness;
  but I held back, fearing the face of love.

Crossing a field I wandered through a desert
  when suddenly behind a rock I found
  a little sagebrush where a fire was burning,
  shining and dancing. After my first amazed
  worship of silence I was loud with praise.

I watched with fear the darkness circling it.
  lunging against it, swirling a black cloak
  to suffocate the light,
  until the shades broke loose and one by one
  in terror fled.

The flame burned on, innocent, unimperiled.
There was no darkness that could put it out.


(Jessica Powers, aka Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit, OCD)

Sermon for Shut-Ins: Lent II



"Jesus took Peter, John, and James
and went up the mountain to pray.
While he was praying his face changed in appearance
and his clothing became dazzling white..."
(Luke 9:28b-36)

His Eminence Justin Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, offers the second in a series of reflections for the Lenten season.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

CPAC. CPAC run. Run, PAC, run.

Today I did something I never did before. I went to a political convention, namely the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), being held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington. The bishops' conference used to have their annual digs there years ago, and so I was no stranger to the place. And I was able to get in at the student rate, which paid for itself in magazines, and two DVDs.

I didn't attend the speeches. I was more interested in walking the exhibits and talking to the folks at the booths. I was impressed with the rep from the Minutemen, as apparently they engage in humanitarian work on the border. (And for the record, I can live more easily with border watching than I can with staking out convenience stores and day laborer meeting places.) Seems some of the border crossers forget to pack a water bottle, and they've rescued several hundred of them so far. (It can happen.) I also got to talk to the young people who staffed the Brownback for President booth. I wouldn't mind supporting him, but it would help if he had a snowball's chance in hell. They can blame the mainstream media all they want, but I think a big enough "war chest" can work wonders. (Don't look at me.)

Then there was Working Families for Wal-Mart. You read right, a group that supports Wal-Mart and their contribution to the business community of small towns all over America. I saved my advocatus diaboli moment with them. I also shared with them... my dream:

Imagine, rather than taking a whole block of boarded up businesses in a town and tearing them down, leaving them up instead. You gut the interiors, turn them into a Wal-Mart, and leave the storefronts the way they are, even having some of them with separate properties, the kind this group says Wal-Mart stores have billboards for inside their own stores. The essential character of the community, the historic value of the buildings (well, more or less), all would be preserved...

Well, that was my dream. The ladies seemed mildly amused. It was a good day so far.

Like I said, I didn't attend the speeches. As a general rule, I don't care for fawning over celebrities, including standing in line with people who do. Like the ones who did it for a Kodak moment with Tom DeLay. No, I kid you not, the Tee Dee El Meister himself! Oh yeah, let's all put him on a pedestal because he got caught doing what half those guys on the Hill do and get away with. That'll show America!

I would have rather met the staff of Hot Air -- you know, Allahpundit, Bryan, Ian, See Dubya, those guys. I'm in no hurry to meet Mrs Malkin. (Sorry, hon, you're just not worth fighting the crowds over. You understand...) Of course, guess whose booth was completely deserted the whole time I was there. That's right, all that trouble and all I got was a lousy Hot Air refrigerator magnet.

Am I a "conservative?" I suppose more so than I am a liberal. I'm just not one of your button-down-golf-club-swinging-banker-lawyer-corporate-pig type conservatives. Someone once said I would have been called a "Taft conservative" back in the day. But then I read about President Taft, and now I'm not so sure. Like Pat Buchanan, I believe America is paying a dear price for trying to maintain an empire, one that we cannot maintain indefinitely. My support for the troops is not because I'm a fan of the empire. I'm a fan of the guys who leave families behind to fight on behalf of their country. In other words, I'm a fan of the Republic. It's not always the same thing. American troops, at least in modern times, have had a history of rebuilding -- schools, hospitals, providing medical care, grassroots humanitarian aid -- you can learn a lot from talking to guys who were actually there, eh? -- and a lot of other stuff you don't hear about from those hags on "The View."

I root for those guys, not the leaders who send them there while their own kids stay home and party.

But back to the Conference. I only stayed two hours, then I left. And to you guys at Hot Air, you wanna give a guy a heads-up next time? Is the Divine Mrs M too busy to have just one of her Personal Man Slaves holding down the fort? Who do you think you are, Ann Coulter???

Photo courtesy Little Green Footballs
Apparently, a stalker gets more consideration than a humble blogger like mwbh. It isn't fair! It isn't fair!!!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Ladies and gentlemen, the Former Vice President of the United States...

Vengeance Is Mine, I Will Repay!

This Sunday night on Country Music Television (CMT), viewers will have a chance to vote for their favorite country videos. Following yesterday's post, and inspired by an anonymous commenter, mwbh is embarking on a campaign to put those little Dixie Chicklets back in the coop where they belong.

In the category of Group Video of the Year, the call is out for viewers to vote for either Little Big Town's “Good as Gone,” or one of the entries by Rascal Flatts, “Life Is a Highway” (recommended) or "What Hurts the Most.” In the category of Video of the Year, viewers are urged, in no uncertain terms, to vote for Toby Keith's "A Little Too Late," if only for the hope of that anticipated parting shot. If you can't bring yourself to tally for Toby, there are always such choices as Carrie Underwood's formula-driven “Before He Cheats,” George Strait's cliché-driven “The Seashores of Old Mexico,” Keith Urban's movie-star moment “Once in a Lifetime,” Kenny Chesney's proof that he's not gay entitled “You Save Me,” Rascal Flatts' semi-decent “What Hurts the Most,” or Sugarland's incomplete sentence, “Want To.”

Vote online here, or wait until the toll-free or not-so-toll-free number comes up. Let's send the message that America's not ready to make nice with that trifecta of spoiled wannabe-Hollywood brats!

HOO-rah.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Revenge of the Chickadees?

This year's CMT (Country Music Television) Music Awards nominees have just been announced, and the annual ceremony will take place April 16 in Nashville, to will be cablecast on CMT. This event is not to be confused with awards granted by the LA-based Academy of Country Music (ACM), which also gives its awards in the spring, and the Nashville-based Country Music Association (CMA), which grants its awards in the fall. The CMT Awards are unique in that they focus mainly on the videos. (Otherwise, what would be the point?) Out of eight categories, those damn Dixie Chicks and their video of "Not Ready to Make Nice" are nominated for two; Group Video of the Year, and Video of the Year.

If they win, video will have definitely killed the radio star, at least in Nashville. With any luck, Natalie will say something stupid and get booed off the stage. Better still, Toby Keith will edge them out for Video of the Year with "A Little Too Late," and spin it into a parting shot for those little twerps.

God bless America. HOO-rah.