Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cristiada: A Cautionary Tale?

A review of the film “For Greater Glory: The True Story of Cristiada” -- screenplay by Michael Love, directed by Dean Wright

Recent months have seen a number of American bishops respond defiantly to the health insurance mandate issued by the Obama presidency, and administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, which would require employers, including religious institutions, to provide coverage for contraception and abortion, regardless of that institution's moral beliefs. We can tell ourselves that the next few years would bring about a "dry martyrdom," where many would be inconvenienced or greatly distressed, but no one would be fined or imprisoned, let alone put to death. We as Americans tell ourselves that the worst could never happen here.

But what if it already had, and within living memory? FOR GREATER GLORY is the true story of the rebellion which arose out of the Mexican government's persecution of Catholics in the 1920s.

Believing that foreign powers are using the Church to interfere with Mexico's internal politics, including efforts to modernize the developing nation, President Plutarco Elías Calles (played by Latino singer-musician Ruben Blades) wins the support of his legislature in enforcing the anti-clerical laws already enshrined in the Mexican Constitution of 1917. His actions against the Mexican people bring about the Cristero War (aka Cristiada) from 1926 to 1929. It is a chapter of Mexican history barely touched upon in American schools, and until very recently, virtually eradicated from Mexican history books.

This film is the directorial debut for Wright, a veteran visual effects supervisor, with such works to his credit as The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003), the second and third parts of the Lord of the Rings cinematic trilogy. This alone would guarantee the artistic quality of the work, and in this respect, it does not disappoint. It stars the Oscar-nominated actor, Andy Garcia, himself a native of Cuba, as Enrique Gorostieta Velarde, the esteemed general coaxed out of retirement to turn a rag-tag rebellion into a united army. Gorostieta's motivations may have been only partially altruistic -- he was not a religious man, but a freemason who was paid handsomely by the rebels, and whose political ambitions may have been a factor -- the movie shows him being inspired by the childlike faith of a young boy, a thirteen-year-old volunteer named José Luis Sanchez del Rio, a role beautifully played by a heretofore unknown actor, Mauricio Kuri. When the boy is captured and killed by the Federales, the general finds himself embracing the spirit of the Cristero movement, and dies in action as a man of faith.

Eva Longoria stars as Tulita Gorostieta, the general's wife, whose devotion to her faith first inspires the general to consider the rebels' offer. Peter O'Toole, the brilliant and Academy Award-winning actor, plays a brief but stirring role as Father Christopher, the missionary priest who first takes an interest in the young José and encourages him to do good. The good father is captured and executed while waiting in the church wearing black priestly vestments, as if prepared to celebrate his own funeral. Bruce Greenwood stars as the American ambassador Dwight Morrow, who is sent to Mexico by President Calvin Coolidge (played unconvincingly by Bruce McGill, who could never be mistaken for "Silent Cal"), and who attempts to broker an end to the violence. While mildly sympathetic to those being oppressed, Morrow's critical objective is to protect America's commercial interests; the Catholic faith, and the attempts to eradicate it, are bad for business.

The film is suitable for adults and adolescents, but the violent battle scenes, the executions, and in particular, the torture of young José Luis by the local police (coupled with the indifference of the boy's own father to his religious ferver), are far too disturbing for young children. The movie ends on a bittersweet note, with the promise of victory for the Cristeros, but the story itself ends only recently. In 1992, the constitution was finally amended permitting legal status to religious associations, and lifting restrictions on clerics. In 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized a group of twenty-five Cristero martyrs. Finally, in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI beatified thirteen additional Cristero martyrs, including young José Luis Sanchez del Rio.

And so we return to the question asked before, with a twist: recent events being as they are, can this happen here in the United States?

In a CNS News interview, Andy Garcia spoke of the timeliness of the movie to the present day:

It’s a fight for religious freedom, but really a greater umbrella it sits under is the concept of absolute freedom. There are countries all over the world right now that are still fighting, in the middle of a fight for those rights, and people have been deprived of those rights.

We have to remind ourselves that these are precious things that we enjoy here in America, but these rights were fought for here also and that we need to preserve them.

Garcia was also asked whether what happened in Mexico nearly a century ago could happen here.

There could be a parallel drawn there. Sure.

I think the bishop, just like the businessman ... should have the right to make those decisions freely and that’s what I believe in.

This is a film that Hollywood would not make, and so is produced and distributed independently. FOR GREATER GLORY opens tomorrow in select theaters across the United States. The following website can assist in finding a location:

Guitar Workshop: Doc Watson Reconsidered

This week's Guitar Workshop is a special edition, dedicated to the life and work of Doc Watson, one of the preeminent guitar players in the world of American roots music. Tributes have been featured in the Los Angeles Times, and even in Forbes magazine. This forum cannot do justice to the length and breadth of his life and his music, so we'll give you the short version here, and concentrate on his unique playing technique.

Arthel Lane Watson was born in 1923, in Deep Gap, North Carolina, where he continued to reside for his entire life. An eye infection took its toll by his first birthday, leaving him blind ever since.

His first guitar was a ten-dollar Stella, bought through a Sears Roebuck catalog. It was early in his musical career, preparing for a live radio broadcast, when somebody who presumed to be an expert on such things thought his name was too odd. Someone in the crowd shouted "Call him Doc!" in reference to Sherlock Holmes' sidekick, Doctor Watson. The name stuck, and whether because of it, or in spite of it, success followed.

Yesterday's clip of Watson playing "Deep River Blues" showed his prowess at Travis-style fingerpicking. But it was as a flatpicker that Doc made his mark on American folk music.

Doc played for local dances as a young man. Old-time country dances were usually led by the music of a banjo and the fiddle, often with the latter calling the moves for the dance. But western swing dances were also popular in the southern mountain towns by the 1950s. Whichever it was, a fiddle player was not always available to set the tone, so Doc learned fiddle tunes on the guitar, which was uncommon of at the time. He played them on a Gibson Les Paul, a solid body electric. Being plugged in was better suited not only to western swing, but to the "rockabilly" music that was popular then, and Doc became proficient there as well. This convergence of genres was the inspiration of his playing style, influencing virtually every bluegrass picker who was to follow.

When he was "discovered" by folklorist Ralph Rinzler in 1960, the folk music craze had already taken off, and Ralph urged Doc to return to the music he heard during his youth, for a new generation of listeners. The money would have been better than with tuning pianos as he had been doing, so Doc stuck with the acoustic guitar (a bottom-of-the-line Martin D-18 was his first decent acoustic model) and the mountain-style banjo for the remainder of his career. What was once a background instrument in country music earlier in the century, came to front and center stage as a lead instrument before its end.

Our first clip is a typical fiddle tune played in Doc signature style, "Black Mountain Rag." His combination of Carter-style licks, melody runs, and crosspicking is technically flawless. The second clip is a more up-close-and-personal look at his style, with another classic tune, "Salt Creek," performed by Doc himself, and assisted by instructor Steve Kaufman, in a lesson from the DVD "Flatpicking with Doc," available at Homespun Music Instruction. Another sample from this series is available as an instant download here, and the series itself, recommended for intermediate players, is available here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: Doc Watson (1923-2012)

Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature.

We're a little early with this one, because this episode is very special to us, albeit in a tragic way. Arthel “Doc” Watson, the legendary folk guitarist, passed away yesterday at the age of 89, from complications that arose after a fall at this home in Deep Gap, North Carolina. Here he is in a 1991 performance, playing one of this writer's favorite tunes (not just to listen to, but to play). There will be more on Doc Watson tomorrow in a special installment of Guitar Workshop, where we will briefly review Doc's unique contributions to the guitar world.

Rest in peace, Doc.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

“I read the news today, oh boy ...”
(Post-Memorial Day Edition)

In addition to producing "The Week in Blogs," our friends at Pajamas Media produce a weekly summary of the Sunday morning talking-head parade they call "Hair of the Dog." The latter serves as an alternative for when the former gets a taste of Second Commandment Deficiency Disorder, or SCDD. You won't find it in the DSM5, but you'll see what we mean if you view it in YouTube.

Be that as it may, here at mwbh, our Standards and Practices Department is taking the matter under advisement. Somebody around here is going to have to subscribe so that we can complain to them with a clear conscience. Until that miracle occurs, let's see what else is happening on Planet Earth (and for this week, beyond):

The internet has inspired a bidding war in Malaysia -- on license plates. If you want "WWW" with your lucky number after it, you'd better hurry. (AP)

Who said machines didn't have feelings? The Mars Rover probe wants to prove it is not afraid of its own shadow, so it took a picture. (AP)

And speaking of being out of this world, a small asteroid is flying past Earth today at about 8,700 miles above the surface, which is inside the orbit of geosynchronous satellites. Just in time for the Year of the Apocalypse. (

Finally, did you know that The Lego Group produced 381 million tires (example pictured) in 2011, making it the largest tire manufacturer in the world? They're not hard to spot, because they look like this. Oh, and they're really really tiny. You won't be putting four of these puppies on your Prius anytime soon.

And that's all the news that fits. As (what's left of) the week goes on, stay tuned, and stay in touch.

Monday, May 28, 2012

“Danger’s past; Now at last, Go to sleep!”

Contrary to popular belief, Memorial Day is not for remembering all veterans, but specifically those who have fallen. It was originally known as "Decoration Day," when civic groups and loved ones would decorate the graves of the deceased with flowers and wreaths.

There is a poem by Joyce Kilmer, the Irish-American poet and soldier with the famous 69th New York Infantry ("The Fighting 69th") during World War I, that would serve as a fitting tribute to those whom we remember today:

In a wood they call the Rouge Bouquet
There is a new-made grave to-day,
Built by never a spade nor pick
Yet covered with earth ten metres thick.
There lie many fighting men,
Dead in their youthful prime,
Never to laugh nor love again
Nor taste the Summertime.
For Death came flying through the air
And stopped his flight at the dugout stair,
Touched his prey and left them there,
Clay to clay.
He hid their bodies stealthily
In the soil of the land they fought to free
And fled away.
Now over the grave abrupt and clear
Three volleys ring;
And perhaps their brave young spirits hear
The bugle sing:
“Go to sleep!
Go to sleep!
Slumber well where the shell screamed and fell.
Let your rifles rest on the muddy floor,
You will not need them any more.
Danger’s past;
Now at last,
Go to sleep!”

There is on earth no worthier grave
To hold the bodies of the brave
Than this place of pain and pride
Where they nobly fought and nobly died.
Never fear but in the skies
Saints and angels stand
Smiling with their holy eyes
On this new-come band.
St. Michael’s sword darts through the air
And touches the aureole on his hair
As he sees them stand saluting there,
His stalwart sons;
And Patrick, Brigid, Columkill
Rejoice that in veins of warriors still
The Gael’s blood runs.
And up to Heaven’s doorway floats,
From the wood called Rouge Bouquet,
A delicate cloud of buglenotes
That softly say:
Comrades true, born anew, peace to you!
Your souls shall be where the heroes are
And your memory shine like the morning-star.
Brave and dear,
Shield us here.

Whatever one thinks of American interventionism, these fallen ones shall not be mocked in this forum. Those who enjoy the outdoors this weekend, picnicking with family and friends, do so in the comfort and knowledge that, one way or another, someone else forfeited this luxury so that they would not have to. We remember those honorable men and women today, and hoist a pint or two on their behalf.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

God’s Grandeur

The world is charged
    with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out,
    like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness,
    like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men
    then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod,
    have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade;
    bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

— Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

(H/T to Val Farrell.)

Veni Creator Spiritus

When the princes of Rome assemble to elect a new Pope, when bishops are consecrated, when priests are ordained, when churches are dedicated, when kings are crowned with the blessing of Mother Church -- at all such solemn occasions, there is the chanting of this “most famous of hymns.” Attributed to Rabanus Maurus in the ninth century, “Veni Creator Spiritus” implores the Holy Spirit to dwell among those who raise their voices in its melody and phrase.

Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
Ignite them with celestial fire;
Spirit of God, you have the art
Your gifts, the sev'nfold to impart.

Your blest outpouring from above
Is comfort, life, and fire of love.
Illumine with perpetual light
The dullness of our blinded sight.

Anoint and cheer our much-soiled face
With the abundance of your grace.
Keep far our foes; give peace at home;
Where you guide us, no ill can come.

Teach us to know the Father, Son,
And you, of both, to be but one
That, as the ceaseless ages throng,
Your praise may be our endless song. Amen.

It is an especially appropriate hymn for the Feast of Pentecost, that which occurs fifty days after the Resurrection, and that which we celebrate today.

(Featured lyrics from a translation by John Cosin, 1594-1672. Chanted by the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey of Saint Maurice and Saint Maur, Clevaux.)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Obligatory “Totally Viral Marriage Proposal” Video

It's coming to that time of year when most people get married, and since being published only yesterday, this video has had over 350,000 viewers, and a mention on ABC News. For all you fellas out there, this is one of those things you can do if you're young, have enough friends who are as crazy as you are, and an intended one who is as game for public display as you are.

Hanna Rosin of said:

I was delighted to see the very first truly charming public proposal. I would marry Isaac, if only because he has so many great friends. With his home-spun, down the driveway, Glee routine he seems less after glory than a beautiful sense of community.

There was also a mention about the look in her eyes, or the dancing Jews. The guy's name is Issac; must be some Jewish thing.

Mazel tov, kids.

Novena: Postlude

Da virtutis meritum,
da salutis exitum,
da perenne gaudium.
Amen. Alleluia.

Give them virtue's sure reward;
give them thy salvation, Lord;
give them joys that never end.
Amen. Alleluia.


Come, O Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, And enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.

V: Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created,

R: And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Oh God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Ghost, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise and to ever rejoice in His consolations, through Jesus Christ Our Lord.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Novena Day 9: The Fruits of the Holy Ghost

Da tuis fidelibus
in te confidentibus
sacrum septenarium.

On the faithful, who adore
and confess thee, evermore
in thy sevenfold gift descend.


The gifts of the Holy Ghost perfect the supernatural virtues by enabling us to practice them with greater docility to divine inspiration. As we grow in the knowledge and love of God under the direction of the Holy Ghost, our service becomes more sincere and generous, the practice of virtue more perfect. Such acts of virtue leave the heart filled with joy and consolation and are known as Fruits of the Holy Ghost. These fruits in turn render the practice of virtue more attractive and become a powerful incentive for still greater efforts in the service of God, to serve Whom is to reign.


Come, O Divine Spirit, fill my heart with Thy heavenly fruits, Thy charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, faith, mildness, and temperance, that I may never weary in the service of God, but by continued faithful submission to Thy inspiration, may merit to be united eternally with Thee in the love of the Father and the Son. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...

The Intouchables

Premiering tonight in most theaters here in the States, The Intouchables is a true story of two men who should never have met — a quadriplegic aristocrat who was injured in a paragliding accident and a young man from the projects. Directed by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, who first discovered this story in a 2004 documentary, this movie stars Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy.

In just nine weeks after the movie's release in France last November, it became the second most successful French film of all time (in number of spectators) in that country's box office.

FAMW: Why Jeff Barth for Congress?

Jeff Barth wants to represent his South Dakota district in Congress, challenging the incumbent, Kristi Noem, one of the growing ranks of hot Republican babes ... er, young conservative women on Capitol Hill. Yes, Jeff is a Democrat, not your typical East-Coast-New-York-Times-reading Democrat, but a northern Midwest populist Democrat. There's a difference, even though, like the more effete variety, this clown doesn't have a clue about what the "Tea Party" is, or isn't. But at least he's fun to watch (especially while riding an ostrich), as we drag the old barbeque grill out of the garage for the big weekend, and this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

Someone should tell this goober that bluegrass isn't exactly native to the Prairie states, don't you think?

Or don't you?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

AP Video Newsfeed, RIP

Well, it's still alive somewhere, just not here. Unfortunately, the ads which begin with the reload did not default to mute. The result would not serve our readership, so we here at mwbh, upon being unable to do a "workaround" with the code, voted unanimously to remove it.

On the bright side, we still have I miss Doina, though, and her beautiful long braid (or braids, depending on her mood).

Novena Day 8: The Gift of Wisdom

Flecte quod est rigidum,
fove quod est frigidum,
rege quod est devium.

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
melt the frozen, warm the chill;
guide the steps that go astray.


Embodying all the other gifts, as charity embraces all other virtues, Wisdom is the most perfect of the gifts. Of wisdom it is written “all good things came to me with her, and innumerable riches through her hands.” It is the gift of Wisdom that strengthens our faith, fortifies hope, perfects charity, and promotes the practice of virtue in the highest degree. Wisdom enlightens the mind to discern and relish things divine, in the appreciation of which earthly joys lose their savor, whilst the Cross of Christ yields a divine sweetness according to the words of the Savior: “Take up thy cross and follow Me, for My yoke is sweet, and My burden light.”


Come, O Spirit of Wisdom, and reveal to my soul the mysteries of heavenly things, their exceeding greatness, power and beauty. Teach me to love them above and beyond all passing joys and satisfactions of the earth. Help me to attain them and possess them for ever. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Chris Matthews: “I Lost On Jeopardy”

That's right, kids. Our boy on MSNBC, Mister Tingles himself, who shortly before maintaining that Sarah Palin was dumber than a post (or words to that effect), recently did as badly on the famous quiz show as he claimed the former Alaska governor might do. This would be the same intellectual giant who thought that the six-letter capital of Russia was Istanbul. So now Mister T has a new nickname, as in the title above.

Look on the bright side. At least he didn't say "What is Constantinople?"

This is not about deriving pleasure from someone else's failure at a game show. It is a commentary on the arrogance of major personalities in the mainstream media, and their uncovering so as to show their true faces, those of so-called "journalists" who couldn't cover a local house fire if their jobs depended on it. And yet, there they are, condescending to anyone who fails to meet their shallow expectations, as they eschew the substance for style, in waxing on the major issues of the day.

By the way, if you think Sarah Barracuda doesn't have the intellectual chops to handle complex matters of state, consider what we wrote four years ago about a de facto position she held as Governor of Alaska. Yeah, just sayin.'

And now ... take it away, Don Pardo!

Novena Day 7: The Gift of Counsel

Lava quod est sordidum,
riga quod est aridum,
sana quod est saucium.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
on our dryness pour thy dew;
wash the stains of guilt away.


The gift of Counsel endows the soul with supernatural prudence, enabling it to judge promptly and rightly what must be done, especially in difficult circumstances. Counsel applies the principles furnished by Knowledge and Understanding to the innumerable concrete cases that confront us in the course of our daily duty as parents, teachers, public servants and Christian citizens. Counsel is supernatural common sense, a priceless treasure in the quest of salvation. “Above all these things, pray to the Most High, that He may direct thy way in truth.”


Come, O Spirit of Counsel, help and guide me in all my ways, that I may always do Thy holy will. Incline my heart to that which is good; turn it away from all that is evil, and direct me by the straight path of Thy commandments to that goal of eternal life for which I long. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: The Times Square Two

Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature.

Peter Elbling and Michael Choquette formed The Times Square Two in Vancouver in 1964, out of a mutual fascination with the popular music of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The duo moved to California in 1965, then to New York in 1966. They broke up early in 1970, but not before appearing on the CBS variety show The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, probably in 1967.

Both have moved on to other things. Click here to learn more from -- where else? -- Wikipedia.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Morgan vs Lovitz: “By Jove, Piers, you’ve got to let me finish!”

The research department here at mwbh has been slacking off lately, and it may be time for heads to roll. It didn't occur to any of them that "mediaite + piers + morgan + jon + lovitz" might be just the thing for a search engine to find the video clip we were looking for on Monday morning, of CNN commentator Piers Morgan interviewing comedian Jon Lovitz.

And here it is. Sure, it's a couple of weeks old, but this CNN interview is worth watching anyway, with so much at stake in this election year. Are any of Lovitz' pals in Hollywood disillusioned with President Obama? What you learn might surprise you, but it shouldn't.

Stay tuned for carefully reasoned commentary on financial matters from a man who makes his living telling jokes, and listen for his "Master Thespian" moments at 04:24 and 07:33. (To be fair, Morgan was a good sport about it.)

Telling off a talking head. Priceless.

Novena Day 6: The Gift of Understanding

Sine tuo numine
nihil est in homine,
nihil est innoxium.

Where thou art not, man hath naught,
nothing good in deed or thought,
nothing free from taint of ill.


Understanding, as a gift of the Holy Ghost, helps us to grasp the meaning of the truths of our holy religion. By faith we know them, but by Understanding we learn to appreciate and relish them. It enables us to penetrate the inner meaning of revealed truths and through them to be quickened to newness of life. Our faith ceases to be sterile and inactive, but inspires a mode of life that bears eloquent testimony to the faith that is in us; we begin to “walk worthy of God in all things pleasing, and increasing in the knowledge of God.”


Come, O Spirit of Understanding, and enlighten our minds, that we may know and believe all the mysteries of salvation; and may merit at last to see the eternal light in Thy light; and in the light of glory to have a clear vision of Thee and the Father and the Son. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...

Not Your Average “Coming Out” Moment

From the pages of, a self-professed social progressive in New York City says why he is against gay "marriage." Here's the short version ...

1) The gay-marriage campaign is elitist and believes its opponents are ‘bigots’

2) Same-sex marriage is not a civil right

3) Traditional marriage and the family are worth defending from state intrusion

4) The question of gay marriage has yet to be fully decided

... which links to the long version.

As to the fourth point, proponents of redefining marriage would go a long way if they could tell the rest of us cretins how we're supposed to tell which of them is the "husband" as opposed to the "wife," if only to pave the way for social etiquette. No sense starting a riot at a dinner party, don't you think?

Or don't you?

UPDATE: Mr Bad Catholic explains why this discussion won't go anywhere anyway. Way to bring the party down, skippy!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Novena Day 5: The Gift of Knowledge

O lux beatissima,
reple cordis intima
tuorum fidelium.

O most blessed Light divine,
shine within these hearts of thine,
and our inmost being fill!


The gift of Knowledge enables the soul to evaluate created things at their true worth -- in relation to God. Knowledge unmasks the pretense of creatures, reveals their emptiness, and points out their only true purpose as instruments in the service of God. It shows us the loving care of God even in adversity, and directs us to glorify Him in every circumstance of life. Guided by its light, we put first things first, and prize the friendship of God beyond all else. “Knowledge is a fountain of life to him that possesseth it.”


Come, O Blessed Spirit of Knowledge, and grant that I may perceive the will of the Father; show me the nothingness of earthly things, that I may realize their vanity and use them only for Thy glory and my own salvation, looking ever beyond them to Thee, and Thy eternal rewards. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...

“I read the news today, oh boy ...”

Well, here's what you missed -- no, not yesterday, but the Sunday before. They're a little behind on this one. (UPDATE: They got it in under the wire. Here's the latest post-talking-head roundup.)

Meanwhile, elsewhere on Planet Earth:

In Akron, Ohio, a couple finished running a marathon, only to start another run to the altar. "Isn't it romantic ..." (AP)

And speaking of running, a postal worker was seen running the Boston Marathon this year. That's the good news. The bad news is, he was on workman's compensation for a back injury. Oooh, that's gotta hurt. (The Slideshow)

In Japan, they have found a way to sharpen their soccer skills, in preparation for the upcoming 2012 London Olympics. (Reuters)

The 2012 World Beard & Mustache Championships will be held in Las Vegas later in November. For those of you grooming for the competition, here's what you're up against. (The Slideshow)

Finally, we just wanted to show you the interview that Piers Morgan did of actor-comedian Jon Lovitz, who has publicly expressed his growing disillusionment and disdain over the policies of the current President. The long version is even better. We we ever find it, you'll see it here.

Well, that's all the news that fits. As the week goes on, stay tuned, and stay in touch.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Novena Day 4: The Gift of Fortitude

In labore requies,
in aestu temperies,
in fletu solacium.

In our labor, rest most sweet;
grateful coolness in the heat;
solace in the midst of woe.


By the gift of Fortitude, the soul is strengthened against natural fear, and supported to the end in the performance of duty. Fortitude imparts to the will an impulse and energy which move it to undertake without hesitancy the most arduous tasks, to face dangers, to trample under foot human respect, and to endure without complaint the slow martyrdom of even lifelong tribulation. “He that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved.”


Come, O Blessed Spirit of Fortitude, uphold my soul in times of trouble and adversity, sustain my efforts after holiness, strengthen my weakness, give me courage against all the assaults of my enemies, that I may never be overcome and separated from Thee, my God and greatest Good. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Novena Day 3: The Gift of Piety

Consolator optime,
dulcis hospes animae,
dulce refrigerium.

Thou, of comforters the best;
thou, the soul's most welcome guest;
sweet refreshment here below.


The gift of Piety begets in our hearts a filial affection for God as our most loving Father. It inspires us to love and respect for His sake persons and things consecrated to Him, as well as those who are vested with His authority, His Blessed Mother and the Saints, the Church and its visible Head, our parents and superiors, our country and its rulers. He who is filled with the gift of Piety finds the practice of his religion, not a burdensome duty, but a delightful service. Where there is love, there is no labor.


Come, O Blessed Spirit of Piety, possess my heart. Enkindle therein such a love for God, that I may find satisfaction only in His service, and for His sake lovingly submit to all legitimate authority. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Novena Day 2: The Gift of Fear

Veni pater pauperum,
veni dator munerum,
veni lumen cordium.

Come, thou Father of the poor!
Come, thou Source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine!


The gift of Fear fills us with a sovereign respect for God, and makes us dread nothing so much as to offend Him by Sin. It is a fear that arises, not from the thought of hell, but from sentiments of reverence and filial submission to our heavenly Father. It is the fear that is the beginning of wisdom, detaching us from worldly pleasures that could in any way separate us from God. “They that fear the Lord will prepare their hearts, and in His sight will sanctify their souls.”


Come, O blessed Spirit of Holy Fear, penetrate my inmost heart, that I may set Thee, my Lord and God, before my face forever; help me to shun all things that can offend Thee, and make me worthy to appear before the pure eyes of Thy Divine Majesty in heaven, where Thou livest and reignest in the unity of the ever Blessed Trinity, God world without end. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...

FAMW: “It’s the M-I-Double-Tizzle!”

From the pages of The New York Times, we learn how those wacky Gregory Brothers (and their cute-as-a-button kid sister) have produced this homage, stolen from multiple sources, no doubt without permission or shame (thus making them kids after this writer's own heart) to would-be President Mittens. He never looked more presidential, and just in time for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Novena Day 1: The Holy Ghost

Veni Sancte Spiritus
et emitte caelitus
lucis tuae radium.

Come, thou Holy Spirit, come,
and from thy celestial home
shed a ray of light divine!


Only one thing is important -- eternal salvation. Only one thing, therefore, is to be feared -- sin. Sin is the result of ignorance, weakness, and indifference. The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Light, of Strength, and of Love. With His sevenfold gifts, He enlightens the mind, strengthens the will, and inflames the heart with love of God. To ensure our salvation, we ought to invoke the Divine Spirit daily, for “The Spirit helpeth our infirmity. We know not what we should pray for as we ought. But the Spirit Himself asketh for us.”


Almighty and eternal God, Who hast vouchsafed to regenerate us by water and the Holy Ghost, and hast given us forgiveness of all our sins, vouchsafe to send forth from heaven upon us Thy sevenfold Spirit, the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and Fortitude, the Spirit of Knowledge and Piety, and fill us with the Spirit of Holy Fear. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...

Novena: Prelude

The Church was born on the Jewish feast of the Pentecost, a birth which was preceded by a novena. After the ascension of Christ into heaven, Mother Mary and the Apostles (and according to tradition, a group totalling about 120) remained sequestered in the Upper Room for nine days, awaiting the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:14)

From the Latin word "novem," meaning "nine," a novena is a prayer that is repeated for nine days, after which, according to pious belief, special graces are obtained. Fisheaters elaborates on the devotion, and gives a complete listing of popular novenas for any and all occasions.

The novena to Saint Jude may be the most popular, as he is the patron saint of hopeless causes. Many a Catholic has found a holy card or slip of paper in the pew with the prayer written on it, left by a pious soul whose intention was granted. One of them was the late entertainer Danny Thomas, whose devotion to the saint moved him to establish the children's hospital that bears the saint's name.

mwbh will present a form of the original novena, that which is devoted to the Holy Spirit, beginning this evening, and over the next nine evenings. Stay tuned...

Hymn for the Ascension

Why is thy face so lit with smiles,
Mother of Jesus! why?
And wherefore is thy beaming look
So fixed upon the sky?

From out thine overflowing eyes
Bright lights of gladness part,
As though some gushing fount of joy
Had broken in thy heart.

Mother! how canst thou smile today?
How can thine eyes be bright,
When He, thy Life, thy Love, thine All,
Hath vanished from thy sight?

His rising form on Olivet
A summer's shadow cast;
The branches of the hoary trees
Drooped as the shadow passed.

And as He rose with all His train
Of righteous souls around,
His blessing fell into thine heart,
Like dew into the ground.

Down stooped a silver cloud from heaven,
The Eternal Spirit's car,
And on the lessening vision went,
Like some receding star.

The silver cloud hath sailed away,
The skies are blue and free;
The road that vision took is now
Sunshine and vacancy.

The Feet which thou hast kissed so oft,
Those living Feet, are gone;
Mother ! thou canst but stoop and kiss
Their print upon the stone.

He loved the Flesh thou gavest Him,
Because it was from thee;
He loved it, for it gave Him power
To bleed and die for me.

That Flesh with its five witness Wounds
Unto His throne He bore,
For God to love, and spirits blest
To worship ever more.

Yes! He hath left thee, Mother dear!
His throne is far above;
How canst thou be so full of joy
When thou hast lost thy Love?

O surely earth's poor sunshine
now To thee mere gloom appears,
When He is gone who was its light
For Three-and-Thirty Tears.

Why do not thy sweet hands detain
His Feet upon their way?
O why doth not the Mother speak
And bid her Son to stay?

Ah no! thy love is rightful love,
From all selfseeking free
The change that is such gain to Him
Can be no loss to thee!

'Tis sweet to feel our Saviour's love,
To feel His Presence near ;
Yet loyal love His glory holds
A thousand times more dear.

Who would have known the way to love
Our Jesus as we ought,
If thou in varied joy and woe
Hadst not that lesson taught?

Ah! never is our love so pure
As when refined by pain,
Or when God's glory upon earth
Finds in our loss its gain!

True love is worship: Mother dear!
O gain for us the light To love,
because the creature's love
Is the Creator's right!

Father Frederick William Faber, 1849

IMAGE: Ascension of Christ, Benvenuto Tisi da Garofalo (1481-1559), 1520.

(H/T to that bunch of madcap fellows at
Rorate Caeli.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Obligatory “Newthought” Moment

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre:
Carolina Chocolate Drops “Milwaukee Blues”

Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature.

Frequent readers of mwbh -- you both know who you are -- will remember last year's presentation of The Carolina Chocolate Drops, who won a Grammy for best traditional folk album that year. (Too bad the awards for traditional and contemporary folk have been merged since then, but alas, we digress ...) Since then, fiddler Justin Robinson has left the band. Rhiannon Giddens (5-string banjo, fiddle, kazoo) and Dom Flemons (4-string banjo, guitar, jug, harmonica, kazoo, snare drum, bones, quills) are now joined by Hubby Jenkins (guitar, mandolin, 5-string banjo, bones) and Adam Matta (beatbox, tambourine). The result not only expands from a trio to a quartet, but expands their musical horizons.

Here, the new lineup (minus Matta, but joined by guest celloist Leyla McCalla) performs "Milwaukee Blues" live from the Folk Alley studios.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Christie & Booker: “Don’t Worry, We’ve Got This!”

The following was published today featuring New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Newark Mayer Cory Booker. It was produced by something called the “New Jersey Press Association Legislative Correspondents Club Show”. Don't ask me why. (H/T to Lisa Graas.)

Monday, May 14, 2012

“I read the news today, oh boy ...”

This week's Pajamas Media report of the blogosphere contained an expletive which we determined to be completely unnecessary (not to mention a violation of the Second Commandment). For that reason, we have decided to settle for Bill Whittle explaining the nature of the universe.

Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth ...

Don't you hate it when you wake up in the morning, look out at the pool, and see a Lexus parked at the bottom of it? It may not be the weirdest thing to happen in California, but ... (AP)

In Nashville, Tennessee, a man turned himself in for stealing plants from a city park -- in 1958. No word on how those plants are doing by now. (AP)

Just when you thought the public school system was really doing down the tubes, an elementary school in Fort Worth, Texas, has been misspelling its name for nine years. Let's rool that video! (Yahoo! News)

Finally, just when you thought that Time magazine couldn't be outdone with that cover of a woman breastfeeding a four-year-old ... (The Ticket)

Well, that's all the news that fits. As the week goes on, stay tuned, and stay in touch.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother of Mercy

'Neath the foot of the Cross,
    She faithfully kept Her watch
Consoled by Saint John e'er so softly,
And from the Cross itself
    He bent down,
To give us a Mother of Mercy.

It was as if it was
    not enough to bear the Cross
That sinners wretched He might redeem,
More generous still,
    He bent down
To endow us with the fairest Queen.

Queen of Heaven, Queen of Angels, and Queen of all men,
Queen of Priests and Holy Souls awaiting,
Mistress to the pleading child in need,
Mother of Mercy: sweet succoring.

O Mother most merciful, Mother of compassion,
Ark of Salvation, Gate of Heaven,
Refuge of sinners and those in despair,
To Thee we fly, unto Thy leaven.

O Mother most sweet, most radiant, O Mother of mothers!
Mother most pure, Mother most dear,
Thee do we entreat sending up our sighs,
As Thou bendest to blot every tear.

O Mother most tender, most mild, O Mother of Mercy!
Masterpiece of God's holy design,
Font of all graces, Thine to dispense,
To the humble, repentant, uncondign.

'Neath the foot of our crosses, Thou maintains Thy watch,
That Thy servants persevere e'er fast,
'Til from Cherubimed Throne He bends down,
And with Thee, welcomes us home at last.

- Pauly Fongemie

(IMAGE: “Sal” being properly feted for Mother’s Day, while sporting this writer's new Panama hat.)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Obligatory “Double Standards in the Press” Comment

There are many, MANY things we do not know about the formative years of the current President, things that would be the subject of countless news stories if it were any other individual either running for, or occupying, the highest office in the land. But at the rate the Washington Post is going, we are bound to learn every childhood and college fraternity prank done by his challenger in this election, while the President himself is permitted considerable latitude.

There appears to be no shortage of a sense of "entitlement" to go around.

So, while we're waiting for a critical examination of the substance of President Obama's writings while a student at Columbia University (of which few, if any, have never been disclosed), his academic performance at Harvard (of which we know little), or his associations with individuals such as Bill Ayers, who has admitted to violent acts against government property (the kind with innocent human beings working within at the time). let us consider the degree of journalistic integrity in which the Post has engaged so far, and consider also the prospect that there are formative events in the life of a man that force him to change -- as Saint Paul said, to "put on the new man."

FAMW: Tim Hawkins “The Wife Song”

With this coming Sunday being Mother's Day, many of you are already thinking of what to do for dear old Mom. For the married man, here is a lesson in what not to do (or say), for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bristol Palin Explains It All For You

From someone whose only claim to fame is ... well, you know, we learn how the President has "evolved" (whereas Mitt Romney "flip-flops," and that's different, okay?) on one of the important issues of our time.

Sometimes dads should lead their family in the right ways of thinking. In this case, it would’ve been nice if the President would’ve been an actual leader and helped shape their thoughts instead of merely reflecting what many teenagers think after one too many episodes of Glee.

Now, in their defense, the Obamas are said to be very strict with their daughters when it comes to things like internet surfing and television watching on school nights. But they can't control everything, don't you think?

Or don't you?

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre:
Over The Rhine “Laugh of Recognition”

Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature.

In the heart of Cincinnati, the famed Emery Theatre has re-opened its doors, and is the setting for a "One Shot Video Series." One camera, one take, entirely in black and white. This segment features the local duo Over The Rhine (named for the old German neighborhood in the northern section of downtown). Shot by Michael Wilson, audio recorded by Cameron Cochran, audio mixed by Henry Wilson, titles and digital juju by Matthew Davis.


Monday, May 07, 2012

Hey, kids, time for another “honest conversation” about race.

In this clip, Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson is referred to as a "bow tyin' white boy" by one attitude-laden Jehmu Green, who gets a pass on racist comments because she is black. (I wonder why Megyn Kelly didn't slap her around a bit. She's really good at that. Meow!) There was a time in the federal government workplace -- pretty much throughout the 1990s where I worked -- that this was quite common. Thankfully, I don't believe it would happen now.

They're talking about some professor in Massachusetts who has been claiming ethnic minority status for years, essentially wearing it on her sleeve, even though the person in question, not only is a mere one-thirty-second Native American, but has never registered with a Native American tribe, which would be prerequisite for her to claim such status, even in part, her high cheekbones notwithstanding.

At one time, in southern states such as Louisiana, being only one-sixteenth black was enough for you to be legally black, which probably meant you couldn't legally marry someone who was officially white. Or something. All that changed with the Supreme Court's 1967 ruling in the case of Loving vs Virginia.

We can sing "we shall overcome" all we want to. Once we do, the name-calling is pretty much out of order on either side of the fence, don't you think?

Or don't you?

George Lindsey (1928-2012)

George Lindsey, the comic actor who made his name as Gomer Pyle's brother Goober on the old Andy Griffith Show, died yesterday in Nashville, Tennessee, after a brief illness. He was 83. In this clip from Season 4, Episode 27 (1963-64), Goober makes his series debut. The show was a staple in the Alexander household back in the day, when we could identify with the small town characters and laugh at the same corny jokes we had heard somewhere else.

For what it's worth, we are also introduced to the recurring characters known as the "fun girls" from nearby Mount Pilot, who make trouble for Andy and Barney with their steady beaus, Helen and Thelma Lou. This is part one of that episode, with parts two and three both available.

It's not for the squeamish.

“I read the news today, oh boy ...”

There was a lot of activity on the campaign trail this past week, but we've heard it all before. Now for something completely different ...

A California university student who was mistakenly left handcuffed in a cell without food or water for five days managed to survive by ... well, let's just say, a peculiar form of recycling. (Reuters)

You can find some great stuff at Goodwill, depending on the location. One person had reason to recommend Oklahoma after finding a thousand-year-old Native America pottery jar. (The Slideshow)

Due to overbearing tax requirements while living overseas, a growing number of Americans are renouncing their USA citizenship, as reported by, who else ... (Russia Today)

FInally, this one goes out to Paul. A family says that a Houston seafood restaurant locked them inside and called the police after they refused to pay a gratuity. (Yahoo! News)

Well, that's all the news that fits. As the week goes on, stay tuned, and stay in touch.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Los Angeles 1954

From Facebook correspondent Alicia Huntley comes this portrayal of America's largest city (in square miles) in a more innocent time, if that can be imagined. One is shocked to see freeways that are wide open, with streetcars, even Model A Fords still on the streets. We see both a bustling downtown and the first shopping malls, as well as a Ford and Chevrolet Factory, and it all looks so clean.

At least from this distance.

The Many Lives of Julia

Recently, the website for the Obama/Biden re-election campaign has featured a composite character named “Julia” whose story from age three to sixty-seven is meant to show voters “how President Obama’s policies help one woman over her lifetime,” compared to those of his (presumptive) opponent, Mitt Romney. The response has been very mixed, for reasons we are about to see, which may be why it is presently difficult to find on the campaign website. But not to worry; you can find it here.

The New York Times offers a brief and (predictably) sympathetic account:
At age 3, Julia is enrolled in Head Start programs, thanks to Mr. Obama. By 22, she’s covered by her parents’ health care because of Mr. Obama’s health reforms. At 42, she’s getting a small-business loan from the government. When she reaches 67, she’s retired and drawing Social Security benefits.

Meanwhile, the Heritage Foundation has created a sort of alternative universe for Julia, if a contrarian one, entitled "A Better Life for Julia." In addition, Ed Morrissey of Hot Air presents what is touted to be a more realistic narrative of the first scenario, and David Harsanyi wants to know "Who the hell is 'Julia,' and why am I paying for her whole life?"

In the event that the first scenario prevails, however, Nicole Gelinas of the City Journal provides an extended scenario of the life of Julia's son, “Zachary” which demonstrates the power of American ingenuity to win out in the long run.

We can only hope.

UPDATE: This presentation would be incomplete without Iowahawk getting into the act.

(H/T to Michelle Malkin.)

Obligatory Cinco De Mayo Reality Check

The fifth of May is, for most Americans, an excuse to drink beer, especially Corona. But for Mexicans, especially those in the state of Puebla, Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army's victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on this day in 1862. Most "gringos" assume it's the Mexican independence day, when in fact it is not. In fact, it's not even a national holiday, and is only a state holiday in Puebla. But this weekend, even patrons at Irish pubs have an excuse to pretend they are Mexicans.

And it was only a few weeks ago that they were all pretending to be Irish.

For today and tomorrow, Mexican-Americans in cities across the United States will have their own celebrations (like the one in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in the photo above). So what was once a minor holiday is now a really big deal, because it's a great excuse for beer makers and bartenders to cash in on the action, and to party.

The same thing happened to Chanukkah, except the Jews manage to keep that for themselves. Well played, sons of Israel, well played.

Friday, May 04, 2012

FAMW: Judy McDonald

No, seriously, this girl Judy McDonald not only does the "Catholic circuit," but she's actually funny. Not just "heh, heh, living room" funny, but "OMG did she say that?" funny. The impression we got from where we found it, though, is that Saint Kitsch is not all that impressed. But hey, Miss K promotes tacky religious art, so kiss them bragging rights goodbye, honey, and get a load of this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Obligatory “Vatican ‘Crackdown’ on Annulments” Piece

Recently, a commentator at the traditionalist blog Rorate Caeli did a piece on the Holy See's recent announcement of improving oversight with the annulment process. Father Peter Stravinskas once told me that, given the state of marriage preparation in America today, it is a wonder there are not more annulments, as opposed to less.

This writer gave into human frailty, and made a comment on that blog, essentially a point raised several years ago in this venue. So far, we have been permitted one response to a challenger. Points have been raised that 1) no one petitions for a declaration of nullity unless a marriage fails (which betrays a keen grasp of the obvious), and 2) one could argue, given the present state of positive rulings, that a host of successful marriages could be, in fact, invalid in the eyes of heaven (which we have no way of knowing, do we now?).

Marriage may be an external forum, a matter for public acknowledgement, but what goes on behind the doors of the bedchamber, or before a marriage tribunal, is most assuredly not for public consumption. Canon law is based, not on English common law, but old Roman law, which provides a greater role for discretion in proceedings. Meanwhile, discussions such as these, while raising important questions, are often an invitation for certain people to presume knowledge of other people's business. Maybe some things are meant only for the eyes of God, who is an equal partner in true Christian marriage, as opposed to a gaggle of busybodies on the internet.

It is generally unwise, if not uncharitable, to presume to instruct an individual whose spouse has left them, but whose union has been upheld as valid. They know the consequences as well as anyone, and need the counsel of a good priest, not finger-pointing from the peanut gallery. One comment read earlier today, admonished such individuals to "remain celibate and pray for the return of their spouse." Depending on the situation, celibacy may be the preferential option.

In all likelihood, the Holy See's recent pronouncement will have the most effect on appeals to the Apostolic Signatura in Rome (the highest court of appeals in the Church), and possibly on the Courts of Second Instance (designated venues in neighboring dioceses, which review the proceedings of cases to ensure their integrity). Uncontested petitions are not as likely to be affected.

Meanwhile, back at the combox in question, there is reason to believe that some of this writer's comments are being blocked, perhaps in an attempt to make us appear foolish, or at least outgunned. And yet, we are undaunted. We know where we stand. Not only do we humbly stand with Peter, in the form of his legitimate Successor, but we are not afraid to stand alone. When you have to stifle one side of a conversation as a means of coming out ahead, either you don't have very good arguments, or you are afraid to stand by them. Either way, it amounts to intellectual dishonesty, if not cowardice, all the merits aside. That a weblog author or administrator has that prerogative within his own forum does not change that.

They may wish to be mindful of what John Milton wrote in his Areopagitica in 1644:

[T]hough all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play on the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously, by licensing and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?

You don't have to play poker to know a "stacked deck" when you see one, don't you think?

Or don't you?

Concerning Disorders of One Order or Another

Today we came across a sympathetic piece on the subject of schizophrenia, a condition which has plagued two members of this writer's extended family. The author's story of his condition is used here to draw a parallel with a second disorder, as a means of showing the proper form of compassion thereto. Click here.

(H/T to Lisa Graas.)

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

“By the mark, Shea!”

UPDATE: A hearty welcome to the legions of adoring Mark Shea fans who have come to visit us here at man with black hat. We've got more where this came from. Click on our title in the banner at the top for the main page (where you can also see our mission statement, FWIW). What's the worst that could happen?

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You probably know this parody of a blogger's award (whereupon the word "winner!" is altered to read as "loser!") accompanying the Facebook posts of Mark Shea, a noted Catholic author, lecturer, and Mac Daddy of the Catholic blogosphere. What you don't know, is that this alteration is the work of yours truly.

Must have slipped his mind between whirlwind book tours. Or ... maybe he's trying to tell us something.

Let's face it, everybody picks on Mark, especially the "evil traditionalists" (not to be confused with the "warm and fuzzy traditionalists") who periodically chastise him because he's not totally in the tank for the Trid Mass. Then there are the people who resent him because of his success, as a blogger and "professional Catholic," as the voice of a new or middle-aged generation, or as a convert who has the jump on bragging rights over "cradle Catholics." Or something. [UPDATE: we would be remiss not to mention the neo-cons, who castigate Mark for his position on torture, which is identical to more than one Pope in recent history, but which betrays him as not equating orthodoxy with voting Republican. Huh???] But even though he's big enough to neutralize the average über-trad just by sitting on them, Mark is about as harmless and down-to-earth a fellow as any you'd meet who has people asking for his autograph. (He also tells really great jokes that are totally potty-mouth free.)

So, we ask ourselves, “Quid retibuam [Mark Shea] pro omnibus quae retribuit mihi?” The answer to that question is here. Now you, too, can show Mark some love -- yes, even guys famous enough to write for Patheos need it -- and be a member of his official Fan Club. (You didn't know Mark had one? That must have slipped his mind too.) Simply right-click on the image here, and paste it on your own weblog or webpage.

As for you, Mark, old buddy ... you're welcome.

(Comments are closed here, but are open at Facebook.)

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre:
John Gorka “The Gypsy Life”

Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature.

One of yours truly's favorite artists is John Gorka, who is the subject of a 2007 DVD documentary entitled The Gypsy Life. Yours truly had the pleasure of meeting him at a private reception back in 2001. His pretension towards shyness and absent-mindedness in his live performances, belies a man who is quite sharp, and very well read.

His onstage schtick is such that he limits the audience only to "mental requests." This does not stop them from expressing them out loud, however, and as one can see in the first clip, starting at 2:11, he is constantly reminded of songs he can barely remember from his early recording years, particularly the early- to mid- 1990s, and the "Fast Folk" movement out of which he emerged.

In the second clip, from an unidentified television performance, he performs the title song of the documentary with country recording artist Kathy Mattea.

Obligatory May Day Video

Occupy Wall Street held a "General Strike" for May Day in New York City. Led by Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, the "Guitarmy" of a few thousand people noisily marched 28 blocks down Fifth Avenue toward Union Square Park. was on the scene to speak with Morello, USMC Sgt Shamar Thomas (who became a viral video sensation after screaming at NYPD officers during an OWS protest last year), rival zombie marchers, and a few self-described lefties who've just had it with President Obama. (They admit it. Out loud. Who woulda thought?) It runs about 5 minutes.

Produced by Anthony L Fisher, with camera by Nathan Chaffetz, Sean McElwee and Fisher.