Thursday, September 30, 2010

Joseph Sobran (1946-2010)

“Perhaps the finest columnist of our generation.” — Patrick J Buchanan

I have just been informed that Joe Sobran, syndicated columnist and former contributor to the National Review, fell asleep in the Lord today, shortly before three in the afternoon. He slipped away quietly as the Hour of Mercy approached, surrounded by family and close friends. Earlier that day, a priest was there to administer the last rites.

This writer visited him earlier today, before the family could arrive. He was anointed with holy water blessed for the Epiphany, and the Proficiscere ("Go forth, Christian soul, out of this world ...") was recited.

The wake will be on Monday, October 4, at Money & King (171 Maple Avenue West, Vienna, VA). There will also be a Traditional Latin Requiem Mass on Tuesday, October 5, at St John the Beloved Catholic Church in McLean, VA at 1 pm, celebrated by Fr Paul Scalia. The Mass will be preceded by a wake in the church beginning about 12 noon. (Information other than the Mass time subject to change.)

More information about the life and work of Mr Sobran will be forthcoming. In the interim, an archive of his writings can be found here.

Requiescat in pace. Amen.

Guitar Workshop: Beginning Travis Picking

Forty years ago, I was a sophomore in high school. There was a music shop in Milford where I took guitar lessons. I had hit a slump in my playing, wondering which direction to go. My instructor (more about her next week) showed me a technique that made a whole new player out of me.

What we call “Travis Picking” today, originated in the early 20th century, and was inspired by ragtime piano. It found an early voice on the guitar with such "race record" artists as Blind Blake in the 1920s and 1930s. It was also found among rural black players in the Tidewater and Piedmont regions of southern Virginia and North Carolina. The name itself is for Merle Travis, an early country-western recording artist, known for such hits as "Sixteen Tons" and "Smoke, Smoke, Smoke (That Cigarette)." We might think it exploitation for naming an essentially black style of music after a white artist, until we consider that the terms applied to it back in the day -- "cotton picking," "chicken picking," and one that begins with the letter "n" -- were less charitable.

We'll start out here with a video lesson from Andrew Wasson of Creative Guitar Studio. A more complete version of this lesson can be found here. This is a beginner's lesson, but it assumes you know basic chords, and can move from one to the other seamlessly.

In the coming weeks, we'll explore this style of guitar playing further, as well as how it played an important role for yours truly.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Chicago Way

They say that the current national political scene owes a great deal to the influence of the so-called Democratic "machine politics" of Chicago, Illinois, long known as "The City That Works." A precursor of this modus operandi can be found in the 1987 movie The Untouchables, starring Kevin Costner as FBI Agent Elliot Ness, Robert De Niro as arch-nemesis Al Capone, and Sean Connery as the near-to-retirement beat cop who signs on to help the former bring down the latter.

Connery. De Niro. Who could ask for more? This video is the creation of ... well, some guy whose work can be found here and/or here.

By the way, say what you will, but I've been to Chicago three times. It's still MY KIND OF TOWN!

Michaelmas: The Obligatory Blog Post

How many Archangels are there? Three? Wrong. It's a little known fact, but ...

There are seven Archangels in all, but only the three mentioned in Sacred Scripture are commemorated liturgically; St. Gabriel's Feast is on 24 March, and St. Raphael's Feast is on 24 October (the Guardian Angels are remembered on 2 October. The other archangels, whom we know from the Book of Enoch, are Uriel, Raguel, Sariel, and Jeramiel.) Today, though, we honor St. Michael the Archangel, whose very name in Hebrew means, "Who is Like God." St. Michael is described in the Golden Legend ...

So begins the excitement of "Michael's Mass," or "Michaelmas," as this day used to be called, as the Mass for the feast of Saint Michael was celebrated this day. Click on the quotation to learn about customs, festivities, recipes, and other fun stuff. Then when you run out of things to do, you can read about The Book of Enoch.

Oh boy.

Five Second Theatre: The Montana Wars

Time once again for our regular midday Wednesday feature.

Okay, so maybe The History Channel ran out of actual history and started to make stuff up. But you can't deny, this is just as plausible as "Ice Road Truckers." Besides, they've already been making up stuff about Church history for years.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Emma Thompson Explains It All For You

(From the Daily Mail:)

As Nanny McPhee, she had few problems getting wayward children to fall into line.

And Emma Thompson no doubt wishes she had a few of her character's magical powers to tackle her latest bugbear: the sloppy English used by the youth of today.

The Cambridge-educated actress, famed for her plummy tones, said the failure of many children to speak properly drove her "insane".

"There is the necessity to have two languages - one you use with your mates and the other that you need in an official capacity. Or you're going to sound like a nob."

(Read on ...)

“Can you tell me how to get ...?”

Back in the late 1960s, at the height of the Haight-Asbury phase of popular culture, concession to commercial demands was a sign that a recording artist was "selling out," presumedly giving into "the Man" for the sake of a dollar, to the detriment of his craft, or the message of profound social import. At least that's what they told everybody, supposedly as a publicity stunt, which would also have been a concession to commercial demands.

Now it works the other way around. Hmmm.

A few years ago, a pop singer named Katy Perry did a song entitled "I Kissed A Girl," a pathetic drivel about a teenaged girl who was curious about same-sex attraction. Recently she was scheduled to be on the PBS children's program "Sesame Street." For the occasion, she wore a stunning ensemble that left too little to the imagination for some in the Catholic blogosphere. They are truly outraged at such moral depravity. So what do they do? They put a full-size copy of the video on their blogs. Way to get the point (or "points" if you prefer) across, guys!

Meanwhile, Russell Brand tweets about Perry's canceled episode of the children's show:

Today's "Sesame Street" will NOT be brought to you by the number 34 or the letter D.


The producers of the show have a long history of appealing to both children's and adult audiences. This was to be no exception. Apparently they thought they might have gone a little too far in this case, and so the YouTube segment that's caused so much fuss will be featured separately at their own YouTube channel -- not to mention a Catholic blog near you.

Fortunately, we're WAY too clever to follow the crowd. Go ahead, click on the image. It's not a clip. The video's kinda stupid, but it's got a great beat, and you can dance to it (when no one's watching). I'll give it an 85. As to finding it, you're on your own, boys and girls!

UPDATE: AOL News contributor David Fagin takes us “behind the music.”

Monday, September 27, 2010

John Powers: Catholics, Chicago, and the Southside

In this interview, the popular author talks about growing up on the south side of Chicago. The reacting comments are interesting. "Holy Cannoli" writes:

I too am from the Southside of Chicago (what he really means is the Southwest side of Chicago) so I thought this video would be interesting and that I could relate. Well, it's not and I can't. His book (with an intro by the loony Obama supporter, Fr. Andrew Greeley) may be entertaining but I don't know and, after seeing this interview, I am extremely unlikely to find out.

Also this excerpt from an interviewer at, who did read Powers' "The Last Catholic In America":

Powers does not care much for the faith in which he was raised, and it shows in his writing. OK, he likes the Catholic faith in a nostalgic sense perhaps, but he obviously no longer believes in the doctrines he was raised in. His exploration of faith is limited to episodes which he sees as examples of the deficiencies of Catholicism.

You decide.

Cautionary Tales: The Inevitable?

For our (hopefully) regular Monday morning series ...

Whether these changes are good or bad depends in part on how we adapt to them. But, ready or not, here they come!

1. The Post Office. Get ready to imagine a world without the post office. They are so deeply in financial trouble that there is probably no way to sustain it long term. Email, FedEx and UPS have just about wiped out the minimum revenue needed to keep the post office alive. Most of your mail every day is junk mail and bills.

2. The Cheque. Britain is already laying the groundwork to do away with cheques by 2018. It costs the financial system billions of dollars a year to process cheques. Plastic cards and online transactions will lead to the eventual demise of the cheque. This plays right into the death of the post office. If you never paid your bills by mail and never received them by mail, the post office would absolutely go out of business.

3. The Newspaper. The younger generation simply doesn't read the newspaper. They certainly don't subscribe to a daily delivered print edition. That may go the way of the milkman and the laundry man. As for reading the paper online, get ready to pay for it. The rise in mobile Internet devices and E-readers has caused all the newspaper and magazine publishers to form an Alliance. They have met with Apple, Amazon and the major cell phone companies to develop a model for paid subscription services.

4. The Book. You say you will never give up the physical book that you hold in your hand and turn the literal pages. I said the same thing about downloading music from iTunes. I wanted my hard copy CD. But I quickly changed my mind when I discovered that I could get albums for half the price without ever leaving home to get the latest music. The same thing will happen with books. You can browse a bookstore online and even read a preview chapter before you buy. And the price is less than half that of a real book. And think of the convenience! Once you start flicking your fingers on the screen, instead of the book, you find that you are lost in the story, can't wait to see what happens next and you forget that you're holding a gadget instead of a book.

5. The Land Line Telephone. Unless you have a large family and make a lot of local calls, you don't need it anymore. Most people keep it simply because they've always had it. But you are paying double charges for that extra service. All the cell phone companies will let you call customers using the same cell provider for no charge against your minutes.

6. Music. This is one of the saddest parts of the change story. The music industry is dying a slow death. Not just because of illegal downloading. It's the lack of innovative new music being given a chance to get to the people who would like to hear it. Greed and corruption is the problem. The record labels and the radio conglomerates simply self-destruct. Over 40% of the music purchased today is "catalog items," meaning traditional music that the public is familiar with; older established artists. This is also true on the live concert circuit. To explore this fascinating and disturbing topic further, check out the book, "Appetite for Self-Destruction" by Steve Knopper and the video documentary, "Before the Music Dies."

7. Television. Revenues to the networks are down dramatically. Not just because of the economy. People are watching TV and movies streamed from their computers. And they're playing games and doing a lot of other things that take up the time that used to be spent watching TV. Prime time shows have degenerated down to lower than the lowest common denominator. Cable rates are skyrocketing and commercials run about every 4 minutes and 30 seconds.

8. The "Things" That You Own. Many of the very possessions that we used to own are still in our lives but we may not actually own them in the future. They may simply reside in "the cloud." Today your computer has a hard drive and you store your pictures, music, movies and documents. Your software is on a CD or DVD and you can always re-install it if need be. But all of that is changing. Apple, Microsoft and Google are all finishing up their latest "cloud services." That means that when you turn on a computer, the Internet will be built into the operating system. So, Windows, Google and the Mac OS will be tied straight into the Internet. If you click an icon, it will open something in the Internet cloud. If you save something, it will be saved to the cloud. And you may pay a monthly subscription fee to the Cloud provider.

In This Virtual World, you can access your music or your books or your whatever from any laptop or handheld device. That's the good news. But, will you actually own any of this "stuff" or will it all be able to disappear at any moment in a big "Poof?" Will most of the things in our lives be disposable and whimsical? It makes you want to run to the closet and pull out that photo album, grab a book from the shelf or open up a CD case and pull out the insert.

9. Privacy. If there ever was a concept that we can look back on nostalgically, it would be privacy. That's gone. It's been gone for a long time, anyway. There are cameras on the street, in most of the buildings and even built into your computer and cell phone. But you can be sure that 24/7 "They" know who you are and where you are, right down to the GPS coordinates and the Google Street View. If you buy something, your habit is put into a zillion profiles and your ads will change to reflect those habits. And "They" will try to get you to buy something else, again and again.

All we will have that can't be changed are memories.

(H/T to "S.L." for this contribution which saves us from doing any real work.)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Beginning of the End. Or Something.

ahaha.gifThis week promises to be a rather hectic one, and if it's all the same to my adoring fans (and you both know who you are), I'd just as soon take some of the pressure off.

The Federal Government's fiscal year ends on September 30, and a new one begins on October 1. I'm leaving town on the morning of the 30th. So for three days, I have to try and finish up two assignments, for two different clients. Both of them know exactly what they want, until they want something else. This makes it hard to pin down an end-point for those to whom I report. I just about have them convinced, that a client base which does not understand the relationship between time and money -- they have no time to do it right, plenty of time to do it over, and never have to spend money on corrections -- can pose this sort of a challenge.

So the goal is to give them something at least for review by Wednesday close of business. One of them will return with (we can only hope) minor corrections. The other will have a litany of further alterations a mile long. That should take them at least a few days.

The other thing I have to do, is update my assignment log for the year, close out the old books, and prepare a new set. This is essential not only for the operation of the division, but for my performance evaluation. And so the next three days will be rather hectic. I may publish one or two things already in progress. But I just wanted the entire Catholic blogosphere to brace themselves, for the empty void that may follow.

At least until I'm safely on the road.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fifteen Rules

So, after nearly thirty years of taking public transportation to and from work, in The World's Most (Self-)Important City, I finally learn that there are rules of etiquette therein and thereof. Fifteen of them, to be exact. But, according to, they are "unwritten." Obviously it's not my fault.

Get off your cellphone.
You only need one seat.
You’re the only one enjoying your ghettoblaster.
Take a shower and wear deodorant!
Get a room!
Stop, nobody likes your singing. Seriously.
Stop staring!
Control your kids!
Don’t be a Plague Monkey.
Keep your smelly-@$$ food wrapped up!
Get up for the Disabled/Elderly/Preggers if you can.
Have your bus fare ready when you get on!
Wait your turn!
Pick up your trash, this isn’t your apartment.
Talk quietly, we don’t want to hear your entire life story.

Now, about a couple of these ...

In DC, they're pretty good about the "priority seating" thing. In my case, I can walk, I can even run to the bus, and I can stand and wait for it. My problem is when I have to stand and brace myself for the stopping and starting when the bus is in a lot of traffic, and I have to lock my (arthritic) knees. Ten or fifteen minutes of that and I'll have to sit in the aisle, and/or crawl off the bus. Yeah, it can get that bad. I'm thinking of getting one of those canes with a built-in folding seat. I'm been pretty lucky so far. If I can't get a seat on a bus, I talk to the driver. If the driver is on the wrong side of brain-dead, I wait for the next one.

The other thing is about cell phone conversations. When Paul or "Sal" call and I'm on the bus, I keep my voice down and keep it short. Once there was a young woman who was prattling on with her girlfriend about intimate details of the latter's social life. Guess which rule I broke until she finally shut her yap.

Go ahead, guess!

(H/T to Katarzyna.)

FAMW: National Punctuation Day

Every now and then, we here at mwbh come across certain astute individuals who express dismay over the misuse of punctuation marks, most notably the one featured here. (Go ahead, click on it. You know you want to.) Well, they're (as opposed to "their") in luck, as today is “National Punctuation Day.”

Be advised that this day has its (as opposed to "it's") own newsletter, as well as an official song, available in both blues and hip-hop remix.

But wait, there's (as opposed to "theirs") more. Doug Savage proposes new and exciting possibilities for punctuation, which are sure to come up against the 140-character limitations of Twitter. In the very near future, people who have nothing to say, will be able to say nothing and still call attention to themselves. Andy Warhol was right after all, you know?

So it goes for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ukulele Workshop: Harvest Moon Revisited

You were expecting our renowned Guitar Workshop, weren't you? Well, we're full of surprises here at mwbh.

We're also pretty excited around here about the Harvest Moon, and especially, the prospect of learning to play "Shine On, Harvest Moon" on the ukulele -- if we ever get one. For those of you who can't get enough from this video, we found some guy by the name of Ralph Shaw, who provides lessons on YouTube, for a nominal fee. His two-minute preview can be found here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Shine On, Harvest Moon

Tonight (or more like the wee hours of the morning), there will be a full moon. But it's not just any full moon; the one that appears in September is generally known in our part of the world as the “Harvest Moon.” AND, it's not just any Harvest Moon, but the most vivid to be witnessed in about twenty years. The science section of the NASA website tells you all you could ever want to know about it. We're going to tell you a little bit of it, plus a little more.

The following is excerpted from The Old Farmer's Almanac. Or maybe it was somewhere on YouTube. Whatever.

Traditionally, this designation goes to the full moon that occurs closest to the Autumnal (fall) Equinox. The Harvest Moon usually comes in September ... At the peak of the harvest, farmers can work into the night by the light of this moon. Usually the full Moon rises an average of 50 minutes later each night, but for the few nights around the Harvest Moon, the moon seems to rise at nearly the same time each night: just 25 to 30 minutes later across the U.S., and only 10 to 20 minutes later for much of Canada and Europe. Corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice — the chief Indian staples — are now ready for gathering.

This full moon has figured prominently in American culture.

In 1908, Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth penned the words and music to “Shine On, Harvest Moon” for the Ziegfeld Follies of the same year. It was first recorded by Ruth Etting in 1931. That recording is above in the first video clip. It has also been sung by many other artists of the early 20th century, including Laurel and Hardy, and Roy Rogers. The chorus is pretty straightforward on the significance of this celestial event.

“Oh, shine on, shine on,
harvest moon up in the sky,
I ain’t had no lovin’
since April, January, June, or July.
Snow time ain’t no time
to stay outdoors and spoon,
So shine on, shine on, harvest moon,
For me and my gal.”

I first heard the tune while in college, from the Canadian singer and guitarist named Leon Redbone (whose birth name, after years of mystery about it, was Dickran Gobalian, born in Cyprus in August of 1949). In this second video clip, from last year's annual Kitchener Blues Festival, the legendary neo-vaudville crooner treats the audience to a gravelly rendition of our featured song, accompanied by Paul Asaro at the piano.

Thanks to Ruth Etting, he is spared the burden of enunciating.

Five Second Theatre: Slumdog Millionaire

Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature.

Honestly, I had no idea there was a five-second version of this film. As I recall, you really don't see much of the dog in the theatrical release. “A buoyant hymn to fleas,” says Richard Corliss of Time Magazine.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


For this installment of honoring the centennial year of the Boy Scouts of America, we focus on the site of great adventure that is the dream of Scouts of all ages, one which is synonymous with the Scouting experience.

In 1937, a Tulsa, Oklahoma oil executive named Waite Philips donated nearly 36,000 acres of his ranch land to the BSA. Situated in the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range in northeastern New Mexico, near the town of Cimarron, that gift eventually grew to over 127,000 acres -- still only 40 percent of his total property. Today, the Philmont Scout Ranch and Training Center covers roughly 137,000 acres, and thousand of Scouts and Scouters (and in more recent years, their spouses and families) come as if to Mecca, to enjoy the genuine thrill of land once traversed by the Southwestern Indian, the Spanish conquistador, and the early American trapper and frontiersman.

They are met by a team of dedicated and experienced staff. This video is about them, and you won't find a sissy-boy in the entire bunch (but you will find a few young ladies).

Monday, September 20, 2010

Where have you gone, Edwin Newman?

In yesterday's Washington Post Magazine, columnist Gene Weingarten laments the demise of the English language ...

... which arose from humble Anglo-Saxon roots to become the lingua franca of 600 million people worldwide and the dominant lexicon of international discourse, is dead. It succumbed last month at the age of 1,617 after a long illness. It is survived by an ignominiously diminished form of itself.

Jeff Culbreath feels his pain, and his Facebook friends with him.

The signs are there for me whenever I engage in text messaging. I usually resort to full sentences, splitting the messages only when I have to. What does "Sal" like to do? Hailing from a nation with more texting per capita than even the USA (possibly in compensation for a less reliable national telephone system), she has no qualms about sending replies like "Wil b der n 10. Dont wry luv u." Then there's what happens when English is mixed with Tagalog (a linguistic phenomenon known as "Taglish"). The combination of her homeland's two official languages only gets worse when abbreviated in text messaging.

It's a wonder we get along as well as we do. It's probably a help that one of us has a great deal of patience -- probably her.

Of course, there are others far less reasonable than myself, if you can imagine. A priest-friend of mine, a renowned author and lecturer, does not so much as respond to such shorthand, citing it as the downfall of Western civilization as we know it. I could probably get away with mentioning his name, since he avoids reading blogs on principle.

Then again, his vast network of spies may snitch on me. Ever the crafty one, that he is!

Cautionary Tales: Pleading The First

The First Amendment reads thus: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

To the "freedom of speech" clause, was later added a caveat by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, that such freedom did not entitled one to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater. Is this the sort of danger envisioned by the District of Columbia, in requiring that tour guides be licensed for doing so, in addition to the usual business license?

One wonders if the assurance that civic institutions are competently represented by private entrepreneurs, is what a growing number of major cities have in mind. Perhaps it is merely the desire to find additional sources of revenue. If you can't tax them into oblivion, regulate them to that point instead.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Lead, Kindly Light

During his time as a young attorney in South Africa, Mahatma Ghandi (1869-1948) was an outspoken advocate of the civil rights of other expatriated Indians. One beating by a group of Afrikaaners put him in the hospital. During his recovery, he was visited by the hospital chaplain, a Baptist minister. Ghandi asked that the chaplain bring his daughter to visit, to be comforted by her singing of his favorite hymn.

Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th'encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus,
nor prayed that Thou shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path;
but now lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!

So long Thy power
    hath blest me,
sure it still
    will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen,
    o’er crag and torrent,
till the night is gone,
And with the morn those
    angel faces smile, which I
Have loved long since,
    and lost awhile!

Today, the author of that hymn, John Henry Cardinal Newman, was declared “Blessed” by Pope Benedict XVI. The convert from Anglicanism is one step closer to sainthood.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Thirty-Seven Hours

Yesterday morning, a little after seven, I left Chez Alexandre for Cincinnati. "Sal" was gonna keep an eye on the place. I told her I'd be back in just 36 hours. I had a memorial to attend. The trip from Arlington, Virginia, to Milford, Ohio, was just over five hundred miles, and was made in record time -- eight and a half hours. Had I avoided the constant state of repair of I-70 near Washington, Pennsylvania, it would have been done in less time than that.

The funeral home was crowded when I arrived in the early evening. There was a line to pay respects to the widow. I went straight to the case holding the urn with the cremated remains, surrounded by the Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul, the two workhorse guitars belonging to the deceased. (Some guys only settle for the best. There I quietly prayed the rosary. With the formalities out of the way, I proceeded to recognize a few faces. The trend continues as it has over nearly four decades; with a few exceptions, the women of the Class of 1973 still look great, and the guys have gone to seed. Well, not all of them: "You know, Bill, most bald guys couldn't get away with a ponytail, but somehow you pull it off."

Somebody once told me of research that showed, that Cincinnati was a leader among major American cities, as a place where those who grow up there never leave. It's not hard to imagine. In the years since graduation, graduates of McNicholas High maintained friendships with one another, married one another, saw their children grow up together. I worked as an entertainer at Kings Island for two summers, went to UC to study graphic design, became a fixture in the local coffeehouse scene. Then, when I could no longer compete with graduates of Billy Bob's School of Art and Barber College, I left for the Nation's capital, where I've been for thirty years. Beechmont Avenue, the main drag along that part of the city's outskirts, was the life line for a universe where people grew old together.

A number of readers from in and around Cincinnati have visited this site in the past week, and I am grateful, also for the number of comments that they have written. And I hope they don't mind, but this one was my favorite:

hi this is kati, tom's daughter. rick schlueter passed this on to my mom, my brother, and i and i just want to thank you so much for posting this. it was really touching to read, and i'm sorry that you and my dad lost touch over the years. i'm positive he would've loved to get back together with you and jam someday. don't be a stranger. call us every once in a while and touch base with us. we would love to hear from you.

I left for DC the following morning (but not before stopping at Skyline Chili for the breakfast of champions). I made it back to my home in exile just after eight this evening. In addition to breaking a record for the shortest time getting there, I broke one for the shortest time staying.

I'll return in two weeks, as it wasn't long enough.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Look Down That Lonesome Road

“Look down that lonesome road before you travel on ...”

I'm on the road myself as this is published. I'll get to the reason in just a bit.

“The Lonesome Road” was also variously titled "That Lonesome Road" or "Lonesome Road Blues." It was written in 1927, in the style of an African-American folk song, by two white guys (go figure!), Nathaniel Shilkret (music) and Gene Austin (lyrics). Both very successful performers themselves, in the early days of recorded music, many others went on to perform this tune as well.

In the first clip, the character of Rafe Hollister sings it on The Andy Griffith Show (Rafe Hollister Sings, Episode 83).

As to the second clip, we would expect no less than Frank Sinatra to craft our subject -- you guessed it -- his way; in this instance, as replayed on a PBS special. The original date and source of this recording cannot be determined, but it eventually appeared on a latter-day compilation, released in 1990 as a three-disc set entitled The Capitol Years (which would place it between 1953 and 1961), to coincide with his seventy-fifth birthday.

A livelier approach to our subject, to the point that it becomes a different song altogether, is found in the third clip by bluegrass artist Tim O’Brien. That's him on mandolin and lead vocals. He is joined by Jerry Douglas on dobro, Russ Barenberg on guitar, Aly Bain on fiddle, James MacIntosh on percussion, and Todd Parks on bass.

This brings us to why I'm on the road. In light of the recent passing of my dear old friend, Tom O'Rourke, and in light of this announcement:

O'ROURKE Thomas P. loving husband of Cheryl A. O'Rourke (nee Zoz) beloved father of Colin and Kathryn O'Rourke, devoted brother of Kevin (Kim) and Maureen O'Rourke, son of the late William and Shirley O'Rourke, son-in-law of William C. and the late Norma Zoz, brother-in-law of Bill (Sandy) Zoz, uncle of Kendra, Joshua, and the late Kyle. Sept. 12, 2010. Age 55 years. Residence Anderson Twp. Memorial Gathering at T P WHITE & SONS Funeral Home 2050 Beechmont Ave. Mt. Washington on Fri. Sept. 17, from 5:30-8 PM. Memorials to the Tin Roof Foundation.

I decided the night before last to make an appearance. Stay tuned.

“... I hate to say goodbye, so I’ll just say so long.”

Thursday, September 16, 2010

“D” Be Da Brand

The Democratic Party made an announcement today, the rollout of a new brand program, which includes a new logo. Now, people pay humongous amounts of money (five, even six figures) to "marketing design consultants" for what used to be called "corporate identity" programs, but which are now more commonly known as "brand management" programs. Most of the billable hours are for focus groups, and development of a marketing strategy and communications plan. A relatively small percentage of the hours are devoted to the creative side, the design of the brand itself, as well as the "branding standards," which includes the overall "look and feel" to accompany the brand itself.

Still, when the result is something relatively innocuous, it reflects poorly on the profession. In my experience (over thirty years as a graphic designer), what is seen here is often the result of finding a solution which offends the least number of decision-makers involved. On the other hand, when the president of Bank of America pointed to one of the proposals on the wall and said, "That one!" he did pretty well for himself.

IMAGE: Copyright 2010 by Chris Muir. Used without permission or shame.

In the early 1960s, the glory days of advertising, a wise sage once said, "There can be no great advertising without great clients." No amount of embellishment can make a successful product out of one that is found wanting. In the next two months, one such purveyor of a product may learn this the hard way, or maybe not. Meanwhile, Chris Good writes at, that the new mark bears a striking resemblance to that of a pizza place where he used to work.

Who knew?

Guitar Workshop: Brian Setzer,
Up Close and Personal

The founder and frontman for The Stray Cats hit the airwaves at full tilt in the mid-1990s, when he revived the swing and jump blues style of music, that filled swing dance halls to overflowing, culminating in the 1998 release of Louis Prima's "Jump, Jive and Wail" as part of his Top Ten album, The Dirty Boogie. When looking for someone to teach Brian Setzer's style, we were fortunate to come across ... Brian Setzer.

In this clip, designed for the intermediate player, he goes through a series of eight well-organized examples (some more intermediate than others, in which case be sure to check out our segments on pentatonic scales; this one, and that one), the culmination of which should give you a pot pourri of playing techniques, if only just a taste. I think this clip was originally sold on the magazine racks, in the form of a disc with an instructional guide. Wish we could find it online. Oh, whatever.

Note that he's playing a full-body electric archtop cutaway, very popular with swing and jazz players. I do believe this one is made by Gretsch, the folks who made signature models for Brian, as well as Chet Atkins.

Rock on.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Five Second Theatre:
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

Time once again for this week's regular midday Wednesday feature, as we return to Garlac and the blonde chick.

She really thought it would be different with this one. But the familiar signs were already there before the big day, that all might not be well.

Does this ever happen to you?

Revenge of the Skirt Chasers

Yesterday, we featured Simcha Fisher and her blog, I Have to Sit Down, where she talked about the occasional controversy in traditional Catholic circles, with respect to women wearing pants or trousers. Her post received over three hundred comments before she closed it. Now she's back with a sequel, regarding the controversy over the controversy. Or something.

What if you’re doing some errands, you’re wearing pants, and some ... guy ... confronts you for revealing the fact that you have legs — two of ‘em?


Here’s what you do: print out the following card, laminate it, and show it to the guy.

(Pantaloons? Duuude!)

She already has over a dozen comments, and the morning is just getting started. I smell another 300+ comments! If you click on the illustration, the pass will appear at the proper size. Just our way of spreading joy and mirth here at mwbh.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

So, were they snapping towels at her, or what?

A story has emerged which I confess I haven't followed closely.

Essentially, a woman reporter went into the locker room of a pro football team following their game, and now she's claiming she was sexually harassed. Now, I'm not saying she wasn't, nor am I saying that they were right in harassing her. Personally, I can't get past the fact that a woman can walk into a men's locker room for any reason at all. My son had to attend co-ed gym classes, and I never got that either. I mean, at a delicate time for some children in pubescent development, why invite the potential for a traumatic experience (which in some children can happen)?

If it's an issue of a journalist demanding equal time, fine. Until male reporters are allowed into women's locker rooms (another scenario I'm not endorsing), simply ban all reporters from the locker room until the guys can come out to answer questions. I mean, I'm not sure that even most men want to stand there and watch another guy scratch his ... you get the idea.

If the above isn't good enough, perhaps you'd prefer Glenn Beck's conversation on the topic. My friend Steve "A Man Who Should Know Better" Skojec, who referred me thereto, explains: “As poorly as Clinton Portis put it, he made a valid point. What do you expect when an attractive woman walks into a locker room with 53 naked athletes to do ‘journalism?’”

One thing's for sure, she got a great story out of it, don't you think?

Or don't you?

UPDATE: Oh, look, a woman's point of view!

Plug This: I Have to Sit Down

Two things I notice in the Catholic blogosphere.

First, there is the occasional debate, as heated as it is short-lived, over whether a proper woman should wear trousers or pants, as opposed to dresses or skirts, especially in public. Most of the pundits in this arena are men, make that married men, with sufficient influence over their wives (from whom we usually do not hear) for compliance with this standard. Steve Skojec, a man who should know better, got more than he bargained for on his Facebook page recently.

The catalyst for his presentation, was a blog piece written by a relative newcomer (as far as I can tell) to Saint Blog's, one Simcha Fisher, the author of I Have to Sit Down.

Skirts won’t change the world. I’ll tell you what will change the world: men loving their wives — their actual wives, not some bizarre, imaginary amalgam of the Blessed Virgin and Grace Kelly.

UPDATE: With that kind of talk, the rancor has moved to Simcha's place. Click here and enjoy.

This brings up the second thing worthy of note, which is the occasional kindred spirit who arises out of the thousands of voices publishing the occasional journal. For this writer -- a divorced, middle-aged, admittedly cantankerous, would-be recluse -- it is a most unlikely place. One wonders before such discovery: do stay-at-home mothers have anything to discuss other than -- well, stay-at-home stuff? Or did they only spend four years at John-Paul-The-Great-On-The-Hillside College for the still-coveted "Mrs" degree? It is here that we learn otherwise.

Simcha (a Hebrew name meaning "joy") is a freelance writer and mother of eight (not necessarily in that order) from New Hampshire. She has written for Faith and Family, as well as Inside Catholic. She is part of the growing ranks among the Catholic "mommy blog" circuit, although she brings more to the table than coffee talk.

I don’t know what my problem is, but I have a problem with novenas. I guess I’m overly cautious about superstition — maybe I’ve seen too many of those classified ads: “Force the Sacred Heart of Jesus to grant your top wishes!” I may be an idiot, but even I know better than to drag the Holy Spirit into a pyramid scheme.

But seriously, I do understand the theology behind a novena ...

If you've had your fill of domestic diatribes, and still wonder how the stay-at-home half of the world lives, she is worth the occasional peruse.

UPDATE: The first blockquote is from an article which was a response to this piece at the blog of Colleen Hammond, who refers to Simcha's response as "scathing." Meow.

Life in Fairfax County

Paul sent this out via Twitter from Atlanta last night:

What I miss most about the burbs: no1 has any real problems SO THEY KILL EACH OTHER OVER SPEEDBUMPS. Way to go Fairfax!

Well, they DO wreak havoc on your suspension. Just sayin'...

Monday, September 13, 2010

John Adams Explains It All For You

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” -- John Adams, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, 2nd President of the United States

(H/T to Paul Mitchell for the quotation.)

Cautionary Tales: Defying Conventional Wisdom

We're back to having another shot at our (ostensibly) regular midday Monday feature, if later in the day than planned, given more urgent developments.

Over at the research desk of mwbh, we have a few Jerseyites who can't stop getting excited over every move made by their Governor, Chris Christie. This video documentary, entitled “A New Jersey: Remember November Part I”, is produced by the Republican Governors Association. But it is not really about Republicans, or even about conservatives so much. It is about, as the aforementioned title says, "defying conventional wisdom." To wit, here is a case where the incumbent with the bigger war chest did NOT win the election, a rarity in American politics. To find out why, is to find out how to overcome those odds, and put the people back in charge of finding their own voice.

This piece is twenty-three minutes long. Watch for the "Hotel California" quip at 13:10.

Tom O’Rourke: A Remembrance

The photo at left is a Cincinnati-based band named Kickstart. On the viewer's left is the bass player, Wayne Bachelier, a classmate of mine from McNicholas High School. To the right is his older brother Mike, the multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. In the middle, on the lead guitar, is another classmate, Thomas “Snork” O’Rourke.

Tom was the best guitar player in the class. I first learned the blues from Tom; not just how to play it, but how to feel it, and how to let the listener know what I was feeling. "The folk music of the South," he called it, with an intuitive understanding of what that meant. He was also a good friend, and not only because he laughed at my stupid jokes. After graduation, we'd see one another on campus at UC, and occasionally at reunions, but I more or less lost touch with him.

At some point, he stopped playing for a long time. Apparently he started up again, and had been playing with the Bacheliers. Last Saturday, he got a new motorcycle. The next day he passed on an invitation from Wayne to come over to play. Tom wanted to try out his new wheels. According to news reports, Tom was riding down State Route 749 in Pierce Township early yesterday afternoon, when a Lincoln Continental coming the other way, edged over the double-yellow line and struck his bike, killing him instantly.

Tom is survived by his wife, Cheryl, and their two children. If there's a memorial in early October, I'll already be there for it. Otherwise I'll have a Mass said. And I'll do what Tom did when he came to his senses. I'll get serious about the guitar again after a few years of slacking off. Someone's gotta pick up where Tom left off. I owe myself that much, to say nothing of Tom.

Requiescat in pace. amen.

POSTSCRIPT: I want to extend a special welcome to readers from the Cincinnati area, who are visiting this site for the first time. (Yes, I'm opinionated; I've learned to live with it.) I moved to the DC area in 1980, but I get back home once or twice a year. My next visit is in early October. Just so you know. I also feature a "guitar workshop" here on most Thursdays. Just so you know that too.

POST-POSTSCRIPT: The visitation will be at TP White on Friday night from 5-8. Everyone is invited to Rick Schlueter's house afterwards. I'll be there in spirit.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Archers of the King

Time was,
    no archer
    with impunity
Pierced by
    proud armor.
    Never arrow flew
But passed
    its mate midway.
    Whose livery
The bowman wore
    I took no heed, nor knew
What master artisan with faultless craft
Had forged the arrows, till one hour of stress
When stricken sore I drew the splintered shaft
And found engraven on it, I.H.S.

O Arrow-Maker with the wounded hands,
My bitterness is shattered into tears,
And now at length my dull heart understands
The need of pain. I wait the coming years
With empty quiver and a slackening string,
Disarmed before the archers of the King.

-- Sister Mary Genoveva, from The Golden Book of Catholic Poetry.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Saint Pancras and Terrorism

by Tim Ferguson

[AUTHOR'S NOTE: I wrote this a couple of years ago, just after the London subway bombings. A friend just emailed it back to me, and it seemed appropriate to commemorate today's sad anniversary.]

I was looking at the Fox News website today and, inspired by the sign denoting the location of one of the attacks as the "St. Pancras Station," thought I'd do a little research. I first became familiar with St. Pancras during the summer I spent in Rome. The parish attached to the place our classes were held was dedicated to him. It's an ancient parish, on the Janiculum hill, with some nice, but seldom frequented, catacombs beneath it. It also holds the honor of being the parish in which Pope Pius XII was baptized (at least according to one priest we spoke to there). I managed to obtain a holy card from there.

St. Pancras was a young, 14-year-old boy, brought to Rome by his uncle, and martyred under the Emperor Diocletian in 304 AD. St. Pancras was beheaded, despite his young age, after having refused to renounce his faith in Jesus Christ. His connection with England came through Pope St. Gregory I, who gave St. Augustine of Canterbury the relics of St. Pancras to carry with him to England as a sign of the unity of the Church and as a means of providing relics for altars there.

St. Pancras is the patron saint invoked for treaties, oaths, and against perjury. He is also a patron saint of children. Now here comes the interpretive riff: why does it seem appropriate that this major strike of the war with militant Islam should happen at a place dedicated to St. Pancras?

First of all, St. Pancras was asked to renounce his faith and refused, despite the inevitable consequences. We, too, are being asked - in subtle and not-so-subtle ways - to renounce our faith. We are being asked to turn tail and run, to refrain from preaching and spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to abandon our conviction in the centrality, unicity and validity of the Christian message in favor of some broad, milquetoast message of "tolerance" and "acceptance". The terrorists, and those who refuse to stand up strongly against them, don't simply want us to tolerate and accept them, they want us to submit to them. Like St. Pancras, we cannot and must not do so. Christ urged us to turn the other cheek and offer no resistance to injury, it is true, but that meekness is to be born out of strength of conviction, not some bland acquiescence to evil and violence. We are called to turn the other cheek, not to bow our heads. We proudly proclaim Christ and willingly bear the insults and injury concomitant with that proclamation, we do not cede the rectitude of our beliefs.

St. Pancras was beheaded for his faith. How interesting that so many militant Islamists use this form of execution for those hostages they cowardly kidnap. To separate the head from the body is an attempt to divorce the thinking portion of the person from the (symbolic) feeling portion: the heart, the guts, the viscera. These terrorists are appealing to our natural human revulsion to so horrific an act as decapitation. They want us to lose our heads and tremble in subhuman fear of their subhuman actions. This too, we must fight. We must fight to retain our reason, our rationality and the rationality of our faith. Islam is a religion of submission - even blind submission. Christianity, especially Catholicism is a religion that teaches us to glory in our mind - to use the light of our intellect to probe the mysteries of our faith. We must not lose our heads, just as we must not lose our resolve.

St. Pancras is the patron of treaties and oaths, and invoked against perjury and false witness. Treaties are worthless unless both parties are men of honesty and honor. Treaties elicit the best part of our person. They speak of the human desire for peace and civility, they call us to renounce cravenness and underhandedness. Treaties presume our integrity. Integrity, honesty, honor - these are things the terrorists cannot understand. They do not have these qualities, or they have buried them so far under their blind hatred and fear that they are confounded by them. We must resist the temptation to sink to their level. While a treaty broken by one party no longer binds the other, the honor, the honesty, and the integrity that the treaty calls forth still must mark the violated party. Terrorists and their allies claim the protections of the Geneva conventions that they refuse to extend to us. In our dealings with them, we are no longer bound by those conventions since they have already violated them. Yet, the principles of the convention - the respect for human dignity must still mark our dealings with them. That does not mean we must treat them with kid gloves and refrain from strenuously seeking them out and eliminating the threat their existence provides. Make no mistake - there can be no binding treaty with those who have no honor. Just as Cato urged the destruction of Carthage as the only sure way of securing the safety of Rome, so too we must urge the complete destruction of militant Islam if we are to secure our future and that of our children. We must do so with firmness, resolve and ferocity, but also with honor and integrity, lest we become like the evil we oppose.

St. Pancras was 14 at the time of his death. He was an innocent. Whatever case could have possibly been made concerning the threat to the Roman Empire provided by adult Christians, St. Pancras was surely no threat to imperial power. He was murdered unjustly. The 50 + murdered yesterday in the tunnels and streets of London were no threat to the Islamic world. They were murdered out of sheer hatred. Islam has shown itself willing to sacrifice its children, allowing or even encouraging them to strap bombs on themselves and commit suicide in the hopes the their death will also kill some non-Moslems. Christianity protects its children and rejects suicide or wanton destruction of life. Golda Meir once asked how Israel could fight against a people who hated Jews more than they loved their own children. As a member of a faith similarly hated by militant Islamists, my answer is that we can fight and defeat these cretins by loving our children more deeply. We must love our children so passionately that we are willing to do what it takes to provide for their safety and future security. We must strengthen our resolve in this war - so unlike any war we have ever fought - to never give up, never surrender, never compromise until every threat of terror is gone.

St. Pancras shed his blood out of unwavering love for Christ. He stood up against the greatest power on earth and was unwilling to cave into it. The firmness of his resolve should shame any of us who have wavered in our commitment to our faith. The craven fanatics of the Islamic world have nowhere near the power the Roman Emperor had in the fourth century - we are not asked to be as bold and courageous as St. Pancras. In addition, we have the benefit of his prayers and his example. Armed with Christ, fortified by the prayers of all the saints, we must stand firm and defeat those who seek the destruction of Christian society.

St. Pancras, pray for us.

[Mr Ferguson resides in St Clair Shores, Michigan. With a degree in Canon Law from the University of St Paul, he currently serves as Administrative Director of the Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Detroit. He is also pursuing theology studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. This work is presented with his kind permission. -- DLA]

Friday, September 10, 2010

Come Saturday morning ...

... I'm going away with my friend. (That's a line from a song. I'll get back to that later.)

There's a party for the neighborhood tomorrow afternoon. "Sal" and I decided we'd go and meet the neighbors. This will follow the usual round of morning errands and the like. What we will not be doing, is burning the Qur'an. This year, the 11th of September falls on the day after "Eid al-Fitr," which celebrates the end of Ramadan, the penitential season of fasting in the Islamic calendar. (The day before was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. I only mention this because I love pointing out ironies.)

Kathy Shaidle observed that the Bible approves of book burning, sort of. "A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas." (Acts 19:19) (A "drachma" was a silver coin which was roughly a day's wages, you know, back in the day.) The commenters at Ace of Spades are having a field day with that passage. Meanwhile, on the Catholic side of the street, Colleen Hammond reminds us of an encyclical from Pope Pius VII entitled Dui Satis, which directs that "[b]ooks which openly oppose the teaching of Christ are to be burned."

Keep in mind, however, that because Mother Church is possessed with a central teaching authority, or "magisterium," She is in a position to interpret the Bible with authority. After all, it was She who determined what books were included in the Bible in the early fourth century (as opposed to falling down from Heaven in one piece with its own users guide and commentary). In addition, the prudential disciplinary decisions of one Pope are not binding on succeeding Popes. Just so we're clear.

That preacher down in Florida -- you know, the one who could fit his entire congregation in his station wagon, created a national uproar when he announced plans to burn copies of the Qur'an tomorrow. The story has changed several times in the last 24 hours. He said he'd do it, then he said he'd stop as a result of a meeting with the builders of the "ground zero mosque," then the aforementioned builders said no dice on the deal, then the people who gave us the "God Hates F@g$" protests said they'd do it, yada yada yada (yawn!).

How about something that really matters?

Come Saturday Morning was written by Dory Previn, with music by Fred Karlin. It was first performed by The Sandpipers on the soundtrack of the 1969 film "The Sterile Cuckoo" which starred Liza Minnelli. The recording reached number 17 on the Billboard charts in 1970, the same year it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Liza also recorded the song (this was in the days when everybody did covers of everybody else's songs and made a living at it). Her version included a break in the middle, when she launched into some psycho-babble ...

You know what the trouble is,
The trouble is that probably
All the good things in life take place
In no more than a minute
I mean all I did, I bet you
At the end of 70 years,
Should you live so long
You can sit and you can figure
The whole thing out.

You spent 19 years sleeping,
You spent 5 years going to the bathroom
You spent 35 years doing some kind of work
You absolutely hated
You spent 7,853 minutes blinking your eyes
And added to that you got
That one minute of good things
Then one day you wonder whether your minute's up.

... which, to hear some people talk, would probably get her stoned under sharia law. But for all I know, that may be less for its theological error, than out of sheer annoyance.

I do happen to have a copy of the Qur'an. Strictly speaking, it is an English translation, as I am to understand that a true copy can only appear in Arabic. (This is likely to ensure purity in translation and teaching, which doesn't explain a few recent developments, but I digress ...) It was a gift from a former communications director for whom I worked years ago, who himself was Muslim. We talked about politics and religion all the time. But he was a unique sort of personality. They don't come around every day.

"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." That is what we are taught. She has spread Her message through the suffering of Her children, not that of Her enemies. So, tomorrow will be a day to remember what happened nine years ago that day. I'll remember where I was, what I was doing, and how I managed in the aftermath -- which could have been better, could have been worse, but that's another story.

And then we'll move on
But we will remember, long after Saturday's gone.

Under the circumstances, burning the Qur'an seems like a waste of time.

FAMW: Chile Today, Hot Tamales!

“Sal” found this on Facebook, and she was so excited I had to drop everything to watch it. (It was probably the outfit.) Now so do you.

This particular clip has had over one million visits, but a more recent behind-the-scenes clip has over four million visits to its credit. The dog is from Chile, her name is Carrie, and the owner's name is Jose Fuentes. There is currently a Facebook campaign underway to get this dog on ABC's "Dancing With The Stars." We'd expect nothing less than a spectacle like this to make this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Memo to Dream On!

It is good to dream, to imagine the possibilities. It is good to call upon others to do the same. But sooner or later, a man must wake up and find out where he really is. To fail this, is to never achieve the object of that dream.

Catholics gave up their unity as a force for social change in 1960, when one of them had to apologize for his faith in order to be President. They have been apologizing ever since. Every election year, the factions line up, letting the world dictate their alliances. And so, those Catholics who purport to be the voice of the oppressed have been the intellectual puppets of the Democratic party ever since that fateful year. Meanwhile, those Catholics who would hold as paramount "the gospel of life" have been the lapdogs of the Republican party for nearly three decades.

How's that working out so far, guys?

Here at man with black hat, we invite you to diverge from the celebrity blogroll, if only long enough to consider our piece entitled “Cujus regni non erit finis.” Consider also, as a model for paradigm shift, the ongoing debate over the future of Catholic social teaching, as recently explained by our colleagues at The American Catholic.

The alternative may be to never wake up.

(UPDATE: A review of the website is quite illuminating. In addition to the page with a comprehensive treatment of the issues, there is one for endorsements, where they were able to dig deep enough to find a Democrat worth the trouble. Stay tuned ...)

Charlie Revisited

You have to watch the original to get the joke, but whoever did this is pretty clever, not to mention right on the mark. Voters need to be wary of a career politician for that reason alone, especially when changing political winds lead them to changing loyalties. This is one possible sign of an opportunist, one who, at the end of the day, has only one true constituent.

Guitar Workshop: Beginning Rockabilly

Last week, we gave a more advanced lesson on rockabilly than we're giving here. We also featured the Fender Telecaster. But guitarists of this genre are also known to favor a semi-hollow body archtop electric, like the one played here by Jason Lee. This is an easy one to follow for an advanced beginner, although that segment where we featured the pentatonic scale wouldn't hurt. You can get enough to get started here, and there's more at But for now, with the hair of Don King, the mustache Of Colonel Sanders, and the style of Brian Setzer, what more could you want?

Answer: More Brian Setzer! Next week, for sure.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

“Drifting along with the tumbling tumblelogs ...”

All this "new media" buzz wouldn't be any fun without a steady supply of buzz words, ain't that right?

A “tumblelog” is a short-form weblog, noted specifically for its ease of use, especially for authoring when using, or in publishing for, mobile devices such as smartphones. Tumblr is a company started in 2007 by entrepreneur David Korp and lead developer Marco Arment. They had 75,000 users in short order, and are now at three million. In 2009, they acquired the rights to the iPhone app. In March, an app was made available for Blackberry. Their application is also optimized for following on social network platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. In other words, it can retain the appearance, readability, and full features that would appear on desktop and laptop stations. But, dude, it's on your phone! Sweeeeet!!!

As early as September 21, or no later than October 1, a mobile version of man with black hat will be introduced, utilizing Tumblr for the Android OS (which is Google's open-source platform, used on the Verizon Droid and other smartphones). With a variation on our title yet to be determined, our sojourn will be routed to that site whenever this author is on travel, or is otherwise on the road. We can't be sure how well this will work, but a more flexible way of disseminating our message, in light of technological developments in the last two years or three years, is worth a shot (UPDATE: ... unless someone can talk me out of it).

Until then, take it away, Sons of the Pioneers!

Five Second Theatre: Domestic Disturbance

Time once again for this week's regular midday Wednesday feature.

Gorlac was gonna be cool about it. He wasn't gonna do anything. Ran into his girl's ex at a bar once, didn't care much for him, but it was cool. But now the punk's taken it too far.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Sorry, Charlie!

When you hear a guy running for political office, who says he'll take "the best ideas of both sides", it sounds great. The only problem is, it's often a cover for lacking any real conviction, which is what can happen when you don't choose a side. If you're going to promote ideas, they are going to have to be specific, and the person promoting them has to take a stand. Charlie Crist of Florida has little in the way of conviction, so it's hard to imagine him promoting any specific ideas, let alone good ones. He wants to get elected, and he knows that to do that, he has to convince you he's different, unique. Beyond the novel approach to this ad, there is little with which to make that case. Ralph Nader was neither Republican nor Democrat, but at least you knew where he stood. Such as it was.

Then again, playing with toy letters is rather clever, and should provide for a good laugh. Then we can all move on to someone we can take seriously.

In Praise of “Tolerance”

“The Church is intolerant in principle because she believes; she is tolerant in practice because she loves. The enemies of the Church are tolerant in principle because they do not believe; they are intolerant in practice because they do not love.” - Fr Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange

(H/T to Michelle Arnold via Jeff Culbreath)

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Behind the Obvious

... is often that which is even more so.

It seems that Christine Judd, the Athletic Director and Dean of Students at Cathedral High School in Springfield, Massachusetts, is, according to, an open lesbian. But imagine the raised eyebrows when she "married" her long-time partner. (Stay with me, now.) If someone is in a teaching position in a Catholic school, and living a lifestyle out in the open that is contrary to the teachings of the Church, they shouldn't be burned at the stake, but their removal should be no surprise to anyone.

Kristin of 11 On My Own gauges the reaction:

Almost 4500 people commented on this story. I obviously didn't read all of them, but of the several on the first page, here's the best and the worst:

Isn't the rite of marriage supposed to be a sacrament????? Why is this woman being denied that sacrament?

Screw tolerance, marriage is before God, she is living against His teachings.

Actually, there were many that were worse, but not suitable for my blog. Most had to do with the intolerance of the Catholic Church, how we prefer pedophiles to gays, and how the pope dresses like Lady Gaga.

Once again, one has to wonder if our Church is the only organization in the world that is not being "tolerated."

What is astonishing to me, is that no one saw this coming, and waited until it was a source of public embarrassment before taking any action. The students recently gathered at a rally to show their support for her. Why wouldn't they? Her lifestyle (including a concerted effort toward an obviously male appearance, which is not prerequisite for a woman's athletic prowess) would have been no secret to them, thus the school has effectively been telling them for years that it was okay. In the eyes of the students, the school is not acting out of conviction, but because they got caught. Why shouldn't the students consider the school to be hypocritical? And while everybody wraps themselves in the mantle of orthodoxy, the students will walk away with the real message here: Doing the right thing only matters when everyone is watching.

On the bright side, Christine Judd is no dummy.

“I knew the risks every day of my life working at Cathedral,” Judd said. “I always had the understanding, one day it would be time to leave Cathedral because of this.”

It's not repentance, but it's a start. And probably the reason why she has no plans to sue the diocese.

Say what you will about her, she is worth praying for. I hope things work out for her. There but for the grace of God ...

Friday, September 03, 2010

Italian Girls

One of my best friends in the world has accepted a marriage proposal early this morning (on Twitter, no less, with the whole dialogue in Italian). And while no less than best wishes would certainly be in order for her, we had a falling out of sorts over the summer. I couldn't begin to make sense of the incident, and have given up trying. Maybe that's why this week's Friday afternoon is without a Moment of Whimsy. Instead, I'm letting John Gorka speak on my behalf. But hey, we'll be back in full force next week. Until then ...

Cordiali saluti, con amore.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

My Chuck Norris Moment

I love Chuck Norris. Loved his movies, especially loved his TV series "Walker Texas Ranger."

I also love his latest message, which is more than I can say for all the crybabies I've been reading on Twitter lately. You know how we got where we are today, America? YOU PUT US HERE! You voted for the empty suits that got elected to Congress, with their free parking spaces at National Airport, and their ten-minute limo ride from the airport to the office, and their free haircuts, and their very own bowling alley! Yeah, they think they've got you over a barrel. And the only way to get rid of them is to heed this message, whatever your position on anything. So quit your damn bellyaching already, and VOTE this year!

That grandma's kinda cute for an old lady. (Good lord, did I just write that? I really gotta take a cold shower ...)

Guitar Workshop: Telecaster Breakdown

For this week's edition of Guitar Workshop, we were inspired by last week's reference to the Fender Telecaster. This model has become the quintessential choice for the country guitar or "rockabilly" sound, because it's got that special "twang thang" goin' on, know what I mean? So here we've got a good example of hot licks and smooth moves, from Ted Tuck of the King Daddy Polecats.

This session is recommended for the intermediate player. And unless you've already got it down, we recommend starting out with our two lessons earlier this year, the one on the pentatonic scale, and that of the embellishments thereof. It also helps to have a basic command of barre chording, as our instructor assumes you've got that down too.

Now, for our next lesson, do I do something in this genre for the beginner, or go for broke and get into Brian Setzer? Hmmm ...

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Five Second Theatre: Doctor-Patient

Time once again for our regular midday Wednesday feature. A guy walks into a doctor's office. "Doctor, doctor, I hurt my arm in five places." The doctor says: "Well, what you gotta do is stay OUT of those places." Then there's the one in the video. This isn't covered by your HMO, by the way.

“But today, I am still just a bill.”

You will notice a few things in our little three-minute civics lesson. First, a proposed law originates with the people at the local level (as opposed to the other end of the food chain), and it is passed by a majority of both houses of Congress (as opposed to being expedited as one of a growing number of "executive orders"). Interesting that the bill in our example is about making a train stop at railroad crossings. We've seen a bit of railroading these days, don't you think?

Or don't you?