Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tastes Like Chikin

If you've ever had to keep track of who is supposed to boycott which company, and over what, you'd know it's an exercise in futility. Personally, I've got bigger fish to fry. I want a smartphone that works, I want a coffee bar that serves it the way I want it within walking distance, and no high-toned small-time über-Catholic blogger tells me where I can and cannot shop. Hell, my tax money already goes to support Planned Parenthood and the military-industrial complex. You think they checked with me first, is that it? Should I stop paying taxes now, you big dummy???

It's not much different with the various GLBTQ advocacy groups (formerly GLBT, or gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender, but now adding "questioning" as the latest acceptable acronym, presumedly for people on the fence about the whole thing, or at least until the next memo comes out), who think we should all boycott a relatively small fried-chicken franchise, based mostly in the South, known as Chick-Fil-A, because its owner had the unmitigated gall to think he could say out loud that he believed what most Americans did, and wasn't a big scairdy-pants about it.

There are two problems in how this is handled in the public square. One is the idea that to disagree with someone is the same as hating them. Only someone so ideologically blinded to the detriment of common sense would run with an idea like that, and yet there are so many of them, as to lead one to wonder whether it's something in the water.

The other is the notion that the right to opportunity, to make one's fortune selling an honest product, requires some form of litmus test on the part of some pseudo-intellectual elite. This is not a difficult attitude to cultivate when so many such individuals are given a bully pulpit in the mainstream media -- or a presidential administration.

Even such outspoken gay columnists as Andrew Sullivan beg to disagree with such tyranny.

The point is that we all have to live together even while we passionately disagree. That toleration is the challenge of our time, and it goes both ways ... calling a bunch of good-faith people bigots and leveraging government power against them is, in my mind, no morally different than calling a bunch of people perverts and leveraging government power against them.

Tomorrow, the first of August, is “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day” at all their convenient locations. You'll probably find yours truly at the one at Ballston Common Mall in Arlington for supper, surrounded by other chicken lovers, and (no doubt) a few of Arlington's finest to make sure everybody behaves.

But some of Andrew Sullivan's compatriots won't behave, at least not yet. This coming Friday, the third of August, is “National Same-Sex Kiss Day” at the same convenient locations -- click on the image to get all the lurid details -- at which time same-sex couples are invited (by someone other than Chick-Fil-A) to engage in passionate love scenes on restaurant property, until honest patrons either become sick enough to lose their dinner, or do what anyone else would do with opposite-sex couples behaving in like manner.

Tell them to get a room!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Haboob Haiku

Did you have a tough day at the office? Well, who cares, because I know I did.

What does a man do when he's had one of those days? Simple. He writes a form of Japanese poem known as a haiku. They consist of seventeen on, or phonetic phrases, divided into lines of five, seven, and five respectively. Most western languages associate on with syllables, even though the comparison does not always apply.

Earlier this year, there was a trend on Twitter -- hey, now we're getting down to a serious art form, aren't we? -- for composing haikus about a type of dust storm in the Southwestern states known as a haboob. They use an Arabic word to describe them. Don't ask me why.

Here is a list of ten of my favorites from that time:

loungecreature ‏@loungecreature
Tucson gets monsoons / But we settle for haboobs / This counts as weather?

Blazer0x ‏@Blazer0x
Haboob incoming. / Did you wash your car today? / It is all for nought.

Heavy Duty Trucking ‏@HDTrucking
Truckers watch for storms / Professionals pull over / Wait out blowing dust

Reuters Top News ‏@Reuters
Harsh southwest dust storms / Cause problems for some drivers / Haikus might change that

Adam Kress ‏@KressOnBusiness
The sky becomes brown / The wind blows all over town / My pool makes me frown

Will Watson ‏@will_watson
You're not a Jedi / This is not Tatooine, Luke / Pull over now, man.

Alan Patton ‏@alan_patton
Dust; hot wind turns cool / Blink on. Leave hard top. douse lights. / Ha! Boobs won't collide.

Christi Driggs ‏@ChristiDriggs
Tsunami dust wave / Swallows you; spits out your bones, / tumbleweeds and ghosts

Barbara MacDonald ‏@macbarb44
Daylight disappears!/ Stop quickly so you don't get / A haboob boo-boo.

kane stanford ‏@kanethedestro
Like Mom always says / It's dangerous to drive while ... / Looking at haboobs

Suddenly I feel moved to compose my own.

David L Alexander @manwithblackhat
an arabic word / for describing a dust storm / press “1” for english

And so it goes ...

“I read the news today, oh boy ...”
(End-Of-July Edition)

Obama thinks his economic policies worked. Is he right? The left is taking shots at Mitt Romney over the treatment of his dog, but at least he never ate dog like President Obama. Hear more. Plus, see the cover-up of the week: CNN blurred the breasts on a Matisse painting. Will Ben Bernanke bailout Obama with QE3?

Meanwhile, elsewhere on Planet Earth:

The New York Times has revealed the truth about the media that we all knew, that they will only report what You-Know-Who wants them to report. It's all about access. Obviously no one could have seen this coming. (nytimes.com)

The Boston Red Sox are in last place, and their mascot's costume is missing. There can only be one explanation. This is a devious plot by the New York Yankees to dampen their spirits. Like they need help with that. (Reuters)

Meanwhile, over in New Jersey, some guy going downhill in a roller coaster was hit in the face by a bird. That happened to yours truly once, only it was while driving a car and it hit the windshield. (Asbury Park Press)

And speaking of things going downhill, a man in Oregon was arrested and sentenced to 30 days in jail for collecting rainwater in three ponds on his property, or as state water managers called them, “three illegal reservoirs.” (cnsnews.com)

A group of five guys have had their picture taken as a group every five years for the last thirty years. Have they stood the test of time? Well, they stopped going shirtless, for one thing. (fstoppers.com)

Finally, you heard this one already, but we're telling you anyway because it's so awesome. An 11-year-old boy was allowed to take a flight to Rome on his own, without showing a passport or boarding pass. He said he was looking for the restroom, and one thing led to another ... (dailymail.co.uk)

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

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Protocol and Plummage

An audience with the Holy Father requires a strict dress code, whether one is a prince or a pauper. There is even a dress code for so much as entering Vatican City. But when one is to meet His Holiness, this poses a special challenge for women.

Men must wear a dark suit with a tie, which is simple enough. Women must wear a black dress with the hem below the knee at about mid-calf, with sleeves covering the elbows, little in the way of a neckline, and a head covering, preferably a mantilla. In some cases, a national folk costume is acceptable. However, this news clip from Rome Reports (H/T to Big Pulpit) shows the exceptions to the rule. It is said that in the next decade, the number of Catholics below the equator will exceed the number from above. It appears that the Holy See is already forced to come to terms with a paradigm shift, in at least one area of cross-cultural understanding.

Meanwhile, it's fun to watch, don't you think?

Or don't you?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

“Lynching” Revisited

In the past 24 hours, more information has been brought to our attention, concerning the activities of Bishop Robert Lynch of Saint Petersburg, Florida. It appears that reports of his malfeasance are not confined to the occasional bout with foot-in-mouth disease. No, that would have been the good news. Brandon K Thorp of Gawker has the bad news, published one year ago today.

Priests speak, too, about the culture of "sex-driven favoritism" at St. John Vianney College Seminary—a kind of gay Hogwarts with palm trees, located out in the flat suburban wastes of southwest Dade County. Seminaries are traditionally gay places—Papist wits refer to Notre Dame seminary as "Notre Flame," Theological College as "Theological Closet," Mundelein as "Pink Palace," and so on. But St. John Vianney was special. One seminarian who dropped out in disgust in the 1980s recalls a miserable year being bullied by gay faculty, and the rector, Robert Lynch, fawning over his favorite seminarian: an attractive upper-classman named Steven O'Hala. The dropout also recalls Lynch installing a camera in the seminary's weight room to capture images of pumped, sweaty seminarians ... Lynch departed St. John Vianney in the mid-80's. Twenty years later, as the bishop of the St. Petersburg diocese on Florida's west coast, he was accused of sexually harassing Bill Urbanski, the diocese's spokesman and the father of Lynch's godson. Funnily [sic] enough, one of Urbanski's more mild complaints was that Lynch liked to photograph him with his shirt off. The diocese settled out of court for $100,000. [CONTENT ADVISORY: Mature subject matter, with one offensive illustration, and the occasional swipe at Catholicism in general.]

While most of the article deals with the revelations in the neighboring Archdiocese of Miami, it would appear that Lynch had a significant role in the aforementioned account. The article is accompanied by considerable documentation provided by a determined group of the faithful collectively known as “Christifidelis.” Thorp's depiction of clerical misconduct has essentially been confirmed by a Florida attorney, Eric Giunta, who penned a response, also last year, for RenewAmerica.

The bishops of the United States would have us believe they have solved this problem, of unnatural sexual assaults against minors, and its ties to the gay subculture within the clerical ranks, by throwing their priests to the wolves on the flimsiest of accusations, and fingerprinting Grandma so she can continue teaching at Sunday school. The above is just one more example of how determined they are to blame everyone but themselves, for the sickness that has done great harm to Mother Church in recent years.

Friday, July 27, 2012

As the torch is passed ...

... we will remember.

FAMW: Li’l Fred “Farm It Maybe”

Hey, remember these guys? Well, there's more where that came from, but it won't stop us anyway.

Li’l Fred is a nine-year-old boy whose eighteen-year-old brother Justin films and edits short comedy skits, when they're not doing any real work. Now a boy this age is not too young to do light farm chores at the break of dawn, and he'll get a "farm permit" to drive a tractor before long, if he isn't already. And he and his family have even been on the Today show. But if you can ignore his challenge at carrying a tune, he's the feature for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

mwbh: Where Faith And Culture Meet

... because we don't call this venue “the daily musings of faith and culture yada yada yada ...” for nothing. Welcome to all fans of Creative Minority Reader. Two very popular works of FAITH and CULTURE from the year of Our Lord 2010 can be found by clicking on the two big words.

A Tomato Grows In Jersey

An old Italian gentleman lived alone in New Jersey. He wanted to plant his annual tomato garden, but it was very difficult work, as the ground was hard. His only son, Vincent, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament:

Dear Vincent,

I am feeling pretty sad because it looks like I won't be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I'm just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. I know if you were here my troubles would be over. I know you would be happy to dig the plot for me, like in the old days.

Love, Papa

A few days later he received a letter from his son.

Dear Papa,

Don't dig up that garden. That's where the bodies are buried.

Love, Vinnie

At 4 am the next morning, FBI agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left. That same day the old man received another letter from his son.

Dear Papa,

Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That's the best I could do under the circumstances.

Love you, Vinnie

So ends a story of the everlasting devotion of a son to his father, in spite of everything.

(H/T to thefunnyplanet.com.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The “Lynching” of Saint Petersburg

The Most Reverend Robert Lynch, Bishop of Saint Petersburg, Florida, is a man inclined toward public statements that are, if not inappropriate, at least bizarre. Some years ago, he issued a declaration imposing restrictions on perpetual Eucharistic exposition in parishes, a practice which, one must concede, is not ordinarily done in parishes anyway (as opposed to perpetual Eucharistic adoration, mind you, which cannot be restricted by the diocesan bishop). That said, his statement included remarks that could easily be interpreted as insulting to the piety of the faithful.

Below is only his latest gaffe:

My personal memory of the liturgy prior to Vatican II is an awful one. I remember the daily Requiem Masses screeched by the eighth grade girls of St. Charles Borromeo parish in Peru, Indiana, mandatory prior to the start of every school day, and even with their screeching, the Mass gratefully only lasted about twenty minutes. Communion distributed to the kneeling at the altar rail was more comic than reverent … Monsignor Wadsworth [executive secretary of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy] calls in his talk for more attention to be paid by celebrants to the General Instruction to the Roman Missal which guides the liturgical celebration. I agree but he had better be careful for the growing practice of shielding the celebrants from congregants with candles and crosses of such size as to block the vision of many at Mass is explicitly forbidden in the same GIRM.

Of course, His Excellency does not interpret the GIRM correctly. A crucifix and candlesticks in a linear arrangement at the front of the altar, one favored by the Holy Father himself (and is thus called the "Benedictine arrangement"), does not "block the vision of many at Mass." They see the celebrant behind the crucifix, they see him at different angles in relation to the altar, and they see that Christ Crucified is the center of our worship, not that guy in the robe hamming it up as he goes along behind His image. Further, such an institutio is interpreted as we suggest by the Supreme Legislator himself, which would be the Pope of Rome, NOT the Bishop of Saint Petersburg, Florida.

(Notice how I didn't even have to cite anything. You must be thinking: "Dude, how does he DO that?" It's a gift, really.)

But there is a deeper issue here, one that pervades a generation of Catholics who remember the 1950s in such a way, that renders them as hostage to the baggage of their childhood. One can accept that a priest or bishop might simply not prefer the Traditional Mass, in favor of the "ordinary form." To harbor such bitter memories of such worship from childhood, so far into adulthood, is a bad sign. For a public figure, never mind a high churchman, to avail himself of a public venue to express such bitterness, is a VERY bad sign. It is one that suggests a personality disorder at the least, a genuine pathology at worst. The faithful of his diocese are being ill-served by a man whose emotional disturbance is not only so brazen, but goes unchecked.

Bishop Lynch is seventy-one years old. Canon law requires him to submit his resignation with the intention of retirement in four years. He is ready now, don't you think?

Or don't you?

(H/T to my close and personal friend "New Catholic" at Rorate Caeli, who is currently on "personal recess for several weeks," in a manner not unlike a Celine Dion farewell concert tour, and who would want you to click here.)

UPDATE: So many of you have responded to links for this story, that we had to do a sequel! You have only yourselves to blame.

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: Traveling Wilburys “Handle With Care”

Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature.

In rock and roll, a “supergroup” is a band consisting of recording artists, all of whom have previously established a formidable reputation elsewhere. The Traveling Wilburys were active from 1988 to 1990, and consisted of folksinger-songwriter Bob Dylan, ex-Beatle (and brainchild of the group) George Harrison, former Electric Light Orchestra leader Jeff Lynne, rockabilly legend Roy Orbison, and former Heartbreaker (the band, that is) Tom Petty, with assistance from drummer Jim Keltner.

This selection features Harrison's signature Rickenbacker guitar sound, although that doesn't look like a Rickenbacker, does it?


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Jon Stewart Defends The Tea Party (Sort Of ...)

We here at Black Hat Central know you've got the feevah, and there's only one cure: “More Jon Stewart!”

They say there are three prerequisites to being called a journalist; you've covered a fire, you've covered a local election, and you've written an obituary. At least that's what they used to say. But as the trial of Jim Holmes, the freakin' obvious suspect in the Colorado shooting, began this week, ABC's Brian Ross found out that there's a Jim Holmes who belongs to the Colorado Tea Party, and just naturally put two and two together.

It didn't matter that he came up with five.

That's the good news, people. The bad news is that, of what used to be called "The Big Three," ABC is the least biased among them. This bodes ill for yet another year of election coverage, don't you think?

Or don't you?

Monday, July 23, 2012

“I read the news today, oh boy ...”
(Dynamic Duo Edition)

For this week's Monday morning video madness (without certain expletives, in a moment of admirable restraint), the White House claims that Obama and Biden are the real Batman and Robin, and Hollywood claims that Mark Hamill has something to say -- or maybe just has to say something.

Meanwhile, leaving Tatooine for the moment, heading back to planet Earth:

Let this be a warning to all you Wagner fans who get a little carried away, concerning a disagreement at an opera festival in Bayreuth, Germany. (Reuters)

Speaking of unexpected guests, did you hear the one about the bear who wandered into a shopping mall in Pittsburgh? (Agence France-Presse)

And ... speaking of wandering, a man in northern Utah is trying to lose himself in a herd of goats dressed as ... well, a goat. Bad timing, though. (AP)

Finally, descendants of the famous Bounty mutineers who now live on an isolated Pacific Island (no, not Pitcairn, the other one) may hold the key to unlocking the genetic code for myopia. (Reuters)

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

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Big Pulpit(s) Revisited

We here at man with black hat want to welcome those who found us via Big Pulpit. Effective today, their link went from this ...


... to this:


They feature the best and the brightest in the Catholic blogosphere. Occasionally that includes ...

ahaha.gifAnd speaking of me, one has to admit that this blog isn't one of "the usual suspects" in the Catholic blogosphere, but we have managed to cultivate a small yet dedicated following over the last decade by, among other things, publishing that which (in all humility) you won't find anywhere else in the aforementioned Catholic blogosphere ... like, for example, this.

Meanwhile, our Friday piece entitled "Nihil" generated over two hundred visitors on a Saturday. Around here, that's a lot for a weekday, never mind the weekend.

Not that we're complaining.

In fact, my son wrote back about it, and we're preparing for a lively, no-holds-barred, last-man-standing, take-no-damn-prisoners debate on free will versus determinism, when I go to visit him in Seattle next month. It's gonna be a barnbuster, and the highlights (and low blows) will be featured in this venue, during our daily journal of the trip.

Y'all come back now, ya hear?

Friday, July 20, 2012


It is said that when the late Heath Ledger was tapped to play the role of the Joker in the 2008 Batman film The Dark Knight, he was cautioned by the man who had done so before. Veteran actor Jack Nicholson, who himself starred as the twisted villain in the 1989 film Batman, part of an earlier incarnation of the Batman saga, gave a cryptic response when told of Ledger's death from a perscription drug overdose.

"Well," Nicholson told reporters in London early Wednesday, "I warned him."

Ledger recently told reporters he "slept an average of two hours a night" while playing "a psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy ...

"I couldn't stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going."

Prescription drugs didn't help ...

... which betrays not only the truly dark nature of the fictional character, but the reality of evil in the world. Opinion polls have shown that most people believe in angels, but also that most do not believe in the Devil, himself a fallen angel. Our Mother the Church warns us that Satan is a real person, if only in pure spirit, one who, in the words of Peter's epistle, “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) In depicting the character in prototypical comic book fashion, as opposed to Heath Ledger's deranged creature, Nicholson may have saved himself from being consumed by the role. Those who do not see this concern as realistic, would be even more hard pressed to explain than those who do, the recent incident in Aurora, Colorado, (not far from Columbine High School), which has come to be known as the "Movie Theater Massacre."

Does it come as any surprise to us, that one who would cold-heartedly engage in such an evil act, would depict himself as the unspeakable villain from the comic book series?

Ary Scheffer, The Temptation of Christ, 1854In the wake of the 9-11 tragedy nearly eleven years ago, a funeral was held in Arlington for one of the victims. The homily, given by the Reverend Father Franklyn McAfee, spoke of what the Church teaches us of the nature of evil.

I cannot explain the madness that took place on Tuesday. For what we saw with our own eyes is the face of evil. And evil cannot logically be explained because, as those of you who are steeped in the philosophy of St Thomas Aquinas know, evil -- malum -- is nihil. It is nothing.

Since God is existence itself -- God told Moses, “I am who am” -- evil would be nonbeing. Nothingness. And to confront nothingness is to come face-to-face with unspeakable horror.

We can, however, understand how people would be compelled to murder with enthusiasm so many people.

A terrorist is not born. Terrorists are made, with every conscious decision they make in life to hate, to choose death rather than life.

Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine.
    Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
Et lux perpetua luceat eos.
    And let perpetual light shine upon them.

And may God have mercy on us all.

+    +    +

(Finished? Click here already.)

FAMW: “¡Som Sabadell!”

This year is the 130th anniversary of the founding of Banco Sabadell, which wouldn't mean much to you unless you were from Spain. But it did inspire their "We Are Sabadell" campaign, which culminated two months ago in over one hundred people from the Vallès Symphony Orchestra, the Lieder, Amics de l'Òpera and Coral Belles Arts choirs, playing and singing Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" in the middle of a town square.

Too bad you can't dance to it, but it's the best we could dredge up for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Guitar Workshop: Loog Guitars

In various parts of the States, they're cutting school budgets in order to continue forcing unions on teachers, passing out condoms to first-graders, and supplementing the ever-essential administrative staffs whose occupants are rarely left alone the inside a classroom in their entire careers. Obviously some things have to go, including art and music programs, even though studies have shown that playing a musical instrument improves academic performance over the long haul.

(Keep telling yourself, it's for the children ...)

For some of you parents out there, it's time for an alternative. (It's also time to think about what to get little John Paul and Mary Margaret for Christmas, so pay attention.)

Loog Guitars started life in 2010, as the concept behind a masters thesis by a graduate student at New York University. Rafael Atijas wanted to help children learn to play the guitar in a way that was not quite so overwhelming. It also shows that you can do a lot with only three strings.

The guitar comes in one of three body shapes; the rounded cigar box*, the "Stratocaster" style, and the triangle. It also comes as a kit, which a functionally literate adult can assemble in fifteen minutes using only a Philips screwdriver. It also comes with nylon strings, which are not as difficult to play as steel strings. There are also accessories, spare parts, and even beginner's lessons, all available on the company website. And the price is only $149.00.

The videos featured here give some idea of how easily the guitar plays, and how it can appeal to adults as well. This old picker may be so inclined to try it for himself, in which case you can expect a full report right here, before the end of the year. It is safe to say from experience, that learning to play the guitar forty-six years ago this month, has brought endless satisfaction to yours truly in all the years since. Your children will thank you later.


* There is a history in rural areas, dating to the 1930s, of "guitars" fashioned from cigar boxes, and having as few as three strings. A number of country blues artists started out on such homemade instruments. The video lessons produced for the company tell more of the story.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: Kitty Wells (1919-2012)

“The next young country starlet with a beehive is going straight to the top.” -- Webb Wilder, 2007

Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature.

Kitty Wells was one of the few country singers to have actually been born in Nashville, who married at eighteen to the man with whom she stayed married for over seventy years (one of the longest celebrity marriages in history), before his passing last year.

Her 1952 hit recording, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” was a response to Hank Thompson's number one recording, “The Wild Side of Life” ("I didn't know God made honky tonk angels ..."), using the same melody, with lyrics by Jimmy D Miller.* It made her the first female country singer to top the country charts, and ostensibly the first female country star -- yes, even before Patsy Cline (and, as far as this writer is concerned, only if you don't count Mother Maybelle Carter). Wells is shown here performing her signature hit at the Grand Olde Opry, in an undated (probably 1952) recording.

Kitty Wells died this past Monday of complications from a stroke. She was 92.

* The song also shares the melody with two other country classics; The Carter Family's "I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes" and Roy Acuff's "The Great Speckled Bird."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mark Manson Explains It All For You

Last week, we shared information from a site known as The Art of Manliness. They're not the only ones on the "You Da Man" bandwagon. Mark Manson is a highly-successful entrepreneur, writer, and world traveler (just ask him), who authors a site aimed at a similar, if slightly more worldly audience, known as PostMasculine.com. (Think of Esquire with some of the thinly-veiled naughty bits left in.) In this entry from last week, he enlightens us with “10 Things Most Americans Don’t Know About America.” Brace yourselves.

1. Few People Are Impressed By Us
2. Few People Hate Us
3. We Know Nothing About The Rest Of The World
4. We Are Poor At Expressing Gratitude And Affection
5. The Quality of Life For The Average American Is Not That Great
6. The Rest Of The World Is Not A Slum-Ridden S#!†hole Compared To Us
7. We’re Paranoid
8. We’re Status-Obsessed And Seek Attention
9. We Are Very Unhealthy
10. We Mistake Comfort For Happiness

Now, this writer has to admit, there is some food for thought in each of the items he presents (which was not without some reaction from around the planet). And Manson is from the States himself, although currently residing in Colombia. That said, here is how one might respond to each point.

1. The feeling is mutual, or you would not have been so inspired.
2. Given our generous foreign aid whether they do or not ...
3. In the past century, for better or worse, we have influenced the culture around the world more than they have ours. See how it all makes sense now?
4. ... but really great at rebuilding countries that we've blown to bits when the war is over, right before leaving. Eventually.
5. ... which explains why everyone wants to immigrate here.
6. You describe Singapore as "pristine." So would Manhattan, if New Yorkers were put in jail overnight and cane-whipped for spitting on the sidewalk.
7. Only since 9-11. Go figure.
8. You have the rest of the country confused with the fellow-entrepreneurs you visit during your occasional forays here.
9. Most of us are also in a tax bracket under fifty percent, and we don't wait six months for emergency surgery.
10. See reply to number 8.

That's just off the top of yours truly's head. Of course, Manson still has a special place in his heart for the land of his birth. Or, to read his telling of it ...

This is how I lovingly describe my current relationship with the United States. The United States is my alcoholic brother. And although I will always love him, I don’t want to be near him at the moment.

We miss you too, Mark, just like every other effete piece of Eurotrash who comes to our shores and tells us what we could do better. You should visit more often, don't you think?

Or don't you?

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Lady in Brown

Our Lady of Carmel by Pietro Novelli, 1641Today, the western Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It is one of the most popular feasts in honor of the Blessed Mother, if only for its association with the Brown Scapular.

In its original form, a "scapular" is a tunic-like garment worn over the habit of male or female members of religious orders. In its more popular form, it is two small pieces of cloth connected by two cords, worn over the neck.

The so-called “Brown Scapular” identified with the Carmelite Order and their traditional brown apparel, originated in the appearance of the Blessed Mother to Saint Simon Stock in 1251. She is said to have told him, upon granting him the Scapular:

“Take, beloved son this scapular of thy order as a badge of my confraternity and for thee and all Carmelites a special sign of grace; whoever dies in this garment, will not suffer everlasting fire. It is the sign of salvation, a safeguard in dangers, a pledge of peace and of the covenant.”

The devotion remains popular today, as a new generation of Catholics discovers tradition, and one can spot a Catholic from across the room, bearing the telltale sign around their neck that peers out from underneath their clothing. More information about the Brown Scapular, the devotion attached to it, and the ceremony for its reception (which is how yours truly got his in the fourth grade) can be found here.

Devotion to this title of Our Lady takes other forms in Italian communities around the world. Most notable is the annual festal procession of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a 125-year-old parish located in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York. Every year at this time, the Blessed Mother is carried aloft in procession on a giant platform, accompanied by a brass band. For the boys of the parish who participate in carrying the statue, this event symbolizes a manly rite of passage.

Enjoy the Neil Diamond soundtrack. Ciao bella!

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

Honestly, those kids at Pajamas Media don't get it. They bleeped out the S word for "The Week in Blogs," but not the G-D word. Until they come to their senses, check out their review of the Sunday talking heads. (UPDATE 07.18.12: Most current edition of video added.)

Meanwhile, elsewhere on Planet Earth.

Who says Iraqis don't know how to party? The lawn-chair-balloon craze has come to their war-torn land, another gift from the American people. (Reuters)

The newly-elected mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska, is a guy named Stubbs. It gets better. (KTUU-TV)

Uh, this just in; that lawn-chair balloon event was cut short by inclement weather. We'll keep an eye on this one. (Reuters)

It started out as a peaceful rafting extravaganza down the American River in California. Then things got ugly. (KCRA-TV)

Speaking of California, here's story with a happy ending. This car is a 1967 Austin Healy. It was stolen from a guy in Los Angeles, who found it on Ebay -- 42 years later. (AP)

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

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Reasonable Expectations

IMAGE: Kathleen Riley, left, and Alison Carroll, right resigned as teachers at Saint Ann's Sunday School. (Tracy A Woodward/The Washington Post. Used without permission or shame.)

These two women were just featured in the Washington Post. It is one thing to be a fool, but to be proud of making the papers for it -- well, that is a major piece of work.

Kathleen Riley knows her beliefs on the male-only priesthood and contraception put her at odds with leaders of her church. But as a fifth-generation Catholic who went to a Catholic school and grew up to teach in one, Riley feels the faith deeply woven through her ... Last month, Riley joined at least four other Sunday school teachers and resigned from her post at St. Ann’s parish after a letter arrived at her home requiring her — and all teachers in the Arlington Catholic Diocese — to submit “of will and intellect” to all of the teachings of church leaders.

“I’m just shocked, I can’t believe they’re asking me to sign this,” said Riley, who said she may keep her own children out of the parish education program in the fall. “The bishops are human, and sometimes their judgment is not God’s judgment. We always have to be vigilant about that. The Holy Spirit gives us the responsibility to look into our own consciences.”

Thankfully, the Post has made provision for other voices in this matter. It is not always so generous. Even so, we are obliged to illustrate just what it is that has everyone in an uproar, namely the requirement to sign this:


I, _______________________________________, with firm faith believe and profess each and every thing that is contained in the Symbol of Faith, namely:

I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

With firm faith, I also believe everything contained in the Word of God, whether written or handed down in Tradition, which the Church, either by a solemn judgment or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed.

I also firmly accept and hold each and every thing definitively proposed by the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals.

Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman Pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act.


Signed under oath before the undersigned on

(month)___________ (day)____ (year)________

Pastor/Parochial Vicar

Of course, the complaints are typical: 1) What about my conscience? 2) Why do I owe my bishop my "submission of will and intellect"? 3) Why weren't we consulted? 4) Why weren't we given a warning? 5) Why are the requirements so "technical"? (No kidding, someone called them that.)

We are here to provide the answers to these complaints, one at a time.

1) Conscience

Yes, the Church does hold esteem for the "internal forum," man's inner voice, his conscience. Man is what Thomas Aquinas called "a reasoning animal." He is an animal who knows, and who knows that he knows. When the Second Vatican Council upheld the role of man's conscience, the Council Fathers were not introducing a novelty. What has happened, unfortunately, is that people tend to leave out the rest of what the Council said. They tend to elevate that which binds one's inner self (the subjective) to the detriment of that which is intended to give it direction (the objective). It comes down to this; let your conscience be your guide, but let the Church guide your conscience, as Christ intended for Her. This is illustrated in one of the comments that accompany the article.

7/13/2012 7:48 PM EDT

As a former DRE with 10 years experience administering religious ed programs in the Arlington Diocese, I heartily applaud the Bishop's efforts to invite people to commit to the Magisterial teachings of the Catholic Church before embarking on the role of catechist ...

There were numerous occasions in my own experience as a DRE in which I had to deal with angry parents who complained that their children were not being taught the Faith correctly. Upon researching these matters with all parties involved, it was most often the case that the teacher was giving the class personal opinions rather than Church teachings. Opinions need to be checked at the door; no matter what the catechist believes personally, they are there to teach the facts of the Faith to their students--anything else does everyone a disservice ...

So, what of the rights of the children, not to mention the parents of those children? Are they reasonable to expect to be told what the Church teaches, as opposed to what somebody thinks they should be teaching?

This is what can happen when the place of conscience -- what it is, and what it is not -- is misunderstood. A person's opinion is presented as though it is fact, and is ironically challenged by one who is dismissed for "just an opinion." Even those who object to a Church teaching have a right to know what it is to which they are objecting. When fact and opinion are blurred, this right is denied, and the person is dealt with unjustly, without even knowing it, never mind wanting to know.

So then, Ms Riley is not just "at odds with leaders of her church," she is at odds with the Church, period. She has disqualified herself from teaching about what the Church believes, by her own admission. (And making quite a show of it, one might add.)

2) Submission of Will and Intellect

Critics of the oath are quick to point out, not so much to the oath itself, but that they "adhere with religious submission of will and intellect" to the bishops. They assume that one is expected to agree with every prudential judgment they make, even the bad ones (like criminal background checks on account of scandals for which the laity, in large part, are not at all responsible, but have the opportunity to pay for). But this is not about their personal opinions, or their personal ... anything! The Pope of Rome, and his bishops in communion with him, constitute a "magisterium," a teaching authority. It is the authority of their office to which one submits, not the persons themselves, and the Most Reverend Bishop of Arlington is one of that number. All members of the faithful are required to submit to the ordinary teaching authority of the Church, whether they teach about it, or simply live it out.

If your Sunday school teacher cannot do that, there is a bigger problem than his or her fitness to teach the Faith, and until that's all worked out ...

3) Consultation

"Why weren't we consulted?" This is the rallying cry of a generation of aging flower children who don't get their way. They say they want the chance to "dialogue," but it is generally a ruse. Such exercises are an excuse to delay the inevitable, to bog things down in committee, in the hope that one might have one's way, or failing that, have the matter in question forgotten. Such is an old trick of bureaucracies everywhere. Most progressives in positions of authority in the Church, where clerics or laics, whether at parish or diocesan level, are in no mood to negotiate with anyone once they are in charge. Besides, if a matter is settled, as are the teachings of the Church are, through what Christ has handed down to His Church, there is nothing to negotiate.

4) Fair Warning

There is never a good time to give someone bad news. You can break it to them as gently as one will, but at the end of the day, bad news is bad news. The need for a "warning" presumes the need to prepare, to reflect upon a decision. Should it not occur to a catechist that he or she be prepared to defend that which he or she teaches, inasmuch as he or she is bound to believe in that which he or she teaches? In the event that such poses a moral conundrum for the catechist, why is he or she teaching it?

In which case, the warning is there at the offset.

5) Degree of Difficulty

Finally, what about that really "technical" language for which "the people of God" cry out in the wilderness demanding an explanation? What is it that could possibly be above and beyond the comprehension, of what numerous progressive Catholic periodicals are always telling us, is the most astute and well-informed generation of laity in the Church's two millennia of history? Why, nothing more than the text of the Nicene Creed, that which is sung or recited every Sunday, by Catholics of all Rites of the Church. For over forty years, that Creed has been proclaimed in the language of the people in the Roman Mass. The very least that can be said, is that most of us have had enough time to mull it over.

Including two aggressively naive women who think this is all about them.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Your Federal Tax Dollars At Work

Nearly a decade ago, I knew I had gone as far as I was going to go as a graphic designer, at least where I was currently working. So I wrangled my employer into paying roughly half my tuition expenses for diploma studies in web design at the Art Institute of Washington. I completed the course work and was preparing for final review when they told me, we don't need you to do web design, we're outsourcing the back end of that anyway.

So I wrangled them into getting me into video editing. I learned the software, did a couple of assignments, and got a year-end bonus equivalent to one paycheck, which was unprecedented for me, and anyone at my pay grade, for that matter. In the year that followed, they sort of went back and forth on what they wanted me to do. Then they put some sniveling empty suit in charge who came out from underneath his desk when the political execs weren't around and said, hey, we just don't see you doing video anymore, but we need a photographer, so would you ...?

Then, after a year of doing "grips and grins" (and getting quite good at it), they said, hey, we need you to get up to speed in a big way with video editing, and what the hell's taking you so long?

Still wonder why government doesn't work? You don't know the half of it!

So for these past two weeks, I (more or less) successfully produced, directed, shot, and edited my first training video. I can't show it here because it's not final, and it's for internal use only (besides giving away where I work), so here's a sample tutorial of the software I used to get the job done.

After all, who am I to argue with the kind of reasoning described above?

FAMW: “I’m Farming And I Grow It”

Just when yours truly thought his day job wasn't busy enough this week, along come The Peterson Farm Brothers from Kansas. We sure know all about life on the farm in this writer's family, enough to know that the guy who gets up at seven is at least two hours behind his neighbors. He'd better work on that. Meanwhile, check out their Facebook page, buy the damn tee-shirt, and keep on rockin' with this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

I'm in post-production and I know it. Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

(H/T to Fred Smith of Tipton, Kansas.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre:
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band “Nowhere To Go”

Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature.

Beginning in Long Beach, California, in 1966 as a quirky jug band, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has gone through a dozen changes in lineup, sometimes with former members returning and leaving again, to be one of the most eclectic "roots rock" bands of all time (not to mention one of this writer's all-time favorites). Over the years, they have brought new and fresh awareness of traditional American folk musical genré, through their series of Will The Circle Be Unbroken compilations. In this undated live performance, they appear with what is arguably their most common lineup in recent years: Bob Carpenter, keyboards, vocals; Jimmie Fadden, drums, harmonica, vocals; Jeff Hanna, guitar, vocals, Jimmy Ibbotson, mandolin, lead vocals.

Of the four, Fadden and Hanna have been with the band the entire time. Ibbotson has been with them off and on, but is currently off, and multi-instrumentalist John McEuen returned in 2001, as the band departed from its attempts to go mainstream, and returned to its ... well, roots.

Hanna (in the blue jacket) turned 65 years old today, and shows no signs of retiring -- although he did recently shave his mustache. Don't ask me why.

Monday, July 09, 2012

They got knocked down, they won’t get up again ...

... according to Slate.com.

Baltasar Gracián Explains It All For You

You can read about this at WDTPRS if you must, but you're already here, and we found it when we woke up and checked the e-mail this morning. So, no, we're not copying him ...

This writer has been reading The Art of Manliness for the last few months now, and it is an excellent reference for the aspiring Catholic gentleman. (Think of Esquire without the thinly-veiled naughty bits and overpriced sartorial selections.) But one item in particular has inspired us.

The Art of Worldly Wisdom or The Pocket Oracle and the Art of Prudence, is a book of 300 maxims and commentary written by a 17th century Jesuit priest named Baltasar Gracián ... on how to flourish and thrive in a cutthroat world filled with cunning, duplicity, and power struggles, all while still maintaining your dignity, honor, and self-respect. In many ways, The Art of Worldly Wisdom is a how-to book on fulfilling Christ’s admonition to his apostles to be “cunning as serpents and as innocent as doves.”

That's right, friends. Only a Jesuit could have written a book like this one.

One of the challenges faced by young Catholic men of a traditional bent, is how to integrate their worship life and personal attainment of virtue with the realities of the world around them, whether on the job, in the neighborhood, in social settings, or in choosing a vocation (be it marriage or the priesthood/religious life). There is the temptation to become too proud, too arrogant, or claim to have too many answers about the world, at an age when one barely knows the questions.

In the case of pursuing marriage, women become disdainful of the "sensitive male," if they're really honest with themselves (and if they're not, run, do not walk, away from them). This does not make "machismo" the alternative either. A guide such as this website, to say nothing of Gracián's work, is the safe middle ground.

The book is available in hardcover, softcover, audiobook, and Kindle, and can be found here.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Andy Griffith: The Dark Side

This is ostensibly our final tribute to the late Andy Griffith. Here we show a side of his career often overlooked, namely his early film experience. Griffith made his debut on the silver screen in 1957, with A Face in the Crowd, directed by Elia Kazan and written by Budd Schulberg, he co-starred with Patricia Neal, in a story of another type of country boy, a drifter with delusions of grandeur.

In a 2005 interview, Griffith maintained that the film was far more popular and respected in more recent decades than it was when originally released.

Here's the trailer. You decide.

FAMW: Single Ladies (In Mayberry)

This is another tribute to the late Andy Griffith, courtesy of Slate.com (the last one is later tonight), which published a mashup of his show's theme song "The Fishin' Hole" with Beyoncé's "All the Single Ladies," the combination of which is the work of San Francisco DJ Party Ben. There's not much of an image here, but you get the idea, which admittedly gets old about halfway through. But it seemed like a good idea at the time, when we were planning for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

Y'all put your hands on it, now, ya hear?

Thursday, July 05, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Carmelite Nun

PrayTheMass.org is a website devoted to the correct and reverent celebration of the reformed Roman liturgy, having already been at the forefront of building awareness of the recent revisions to the English-language missal. Lately they are expanding into other areas, and tomorrow evening at 7:00 pm Central USA time, they present a live webcast.

Lindsay Jennings will give a talk about a day in the life of a Carmelite nun. She was in the Carmel of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in Valparaiso, Nebraska, where she discerned her vocation from January 2006 until August 2010. Her talk will cover as much as possible in 30 minutes, and there will be a 15-20 minute question/answer session to follow. Learn about the Carmelite’s schedule, daily routine, and fun personal stories. You can write comments and questions under the video screen in preparation for the Q & A.

This is highly recommended, not only for young women who believe they might be called to the religious life, but for others of the faithful wanting to know more about the Carmelite way. So, tomorrow night at 7:00 Central USA time, be sure to log into Facebook, then direct yourself here for the webcast.

Tell them "man with black hat" sent you for all the good that'll do.

Guitar Workshop: The Music of Mayberry

For this week's installment of our more or less usual midday Thursday feature, our tribute to the late Andy Griffith continues.

Besides a love for the stage, Griffith was also devoted to music, both as a singer and a guitar player. The former won him more acclaim than the latter. He recorded a series of albums of classic gospel hymns for Sparrow Records, as well as a 1996 release, I Love to Tell the Story: 25 Timeless Hymns, which eventually went platinum. One of the aforementioned earned him a Grammy Award.

But while he was no virtuoso on guitar, his playing was quite capable, and his guitar was a periodic feature on the series during its eight year run. Griffith picked and sang in his early movies, as well as in numerous episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. This first clip, entitled “The Guitar Player” and originally broadcast on October 24, 1960 (Season 1, Episode 3), Andy helps local player Jim Lindsey (James Best) get a chance at stardom, by arresting a visiting music group. We see a few musical scenes here, some of them obviously overdubbed. Even "Mister Guitar" himself, Chet Atkins, couldn't play lead and rhythm parts at the same time to that degree.

Then there's the usual Southern banter:

You heard all these fellas that come through here, playin' in the shows. How 'bout that fella we see every now and then on television, shakin' and screamin'? Sounds like somebody's beatin' his dog.

Skip ahead about seven months, to May 15, 1961, as Mayberry's favorite son returns in “The Guitar Player Returns” (Season 1, Episode 31), having made his fortune as the star picker of "Bobby Fleet and His Band With A Beat." (Groovy.) Our sheriff learns the real story soon enough, that our rising star has fallen a bit lately, and is in some financial difficulty. Andy gets to the bottom of it, with the help of a now-less discourteous Bobby Fleet. Notice also how Andy has already lost some of the country-boy hokum near the end of the first season, paving the way for the addition of other oddball supporting characters as the series went on.

What authentic playing is actually featured in these two episodes, provides an adequate demonstration of the "rockabilly style" already sweeping the South, and making a few inroads up North, by the dawn of the 1960s. We will explore that style again in a future installment.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Keeping America Awesome

Why is America so awesome?

Is it because we tend to win our wars? Is it because we consume a disproportionately high percentage of the world's natural resources? Is it just that we appear to rule the world, getting into everyone's business whether they want us to or not? Is that what makes us so great?

No, not really.

We did not originally intend to be one big-@$$ country, but began as a union of “free and independent States.” Even as the Constitution provides for a strong central government, the several States are not merely arbitrary administrative jurisdictions. They enjoy limited sovereignty over their own affairs. Each and every one of them has been the place of refuge for people from all over the world. The best, the brightest, the most ambitious, the greatest dreamers the world has to offer -- all come here, more than anyplace else. (Yes, even you, Canada.)

So today, there will be hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, and families headed to the pool. And tonight, here in the Nation's capital city, there will be fireworks on the National Mall. Over a hundred thousand people will be on the grounds, watching a concert with top-name stars, one that they could just as easily see on public television. The celebratory display will be repeated, if on a smaller and humbler in great cities and little hamlets throughout the land. Together, they will celebrate a great experiment, an idea, one that still works, still draws the world to itself, in spite of everything.

When the Nation's founders finished their work, someone asked Benjamin Franklin what had been created. “A democracy, if you can keep it.” In this election year, Americans frustrated with the current political situation will look to the elections for a savior, someone with all the answers. But we cannot deceive ourselves like we did when we tried that approach four years ago. We must concede that the work of keeping America as a great nation will not be one of a single-person-as-panacea. It will be that of each and every one of us. If our "free and independent States" are less free, less independent than they were intended to be lately, it is because we sat back and allowed someone to take that freedom away from us, and because we lack the resolve to take it back. Are we going to settle for that by this year's election day?

The intentions of Harry Truman notwithstanding, the buck doesn't stop in Washington anymore; it stops with who we see in the mirror. Remember that before you get your hopes up, America. Stay tuned, and stay in touch.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

We’re B-a-a-a-ck!!!

That's right, kids, man with black hat is back in operation. (Cue the video at right.)

Aside from a teeny weenie enhancement of our cable service (for which we are now on hold for up to twenty-five minutes, listening to a light jazz jingle in a continuous loop while trying to remain calm), things are back to normal, and this is most assuredly NOT being typed with two thumbs on a smartphone.

Of course, our Fortnight For Freedom gig turned out to be a novena; that is, it only lasted nine days instead of fourteen before the lights went out. You have to wonder if there's a message there. But no matter, we've got one here, if you have nothing better to do than drive through the District of Columbia on the Fourth of July just to go to Mass. Ah, not just any Mass, you say. Fine, have at it. I'll be out in the western hinterlands with Sal's family, getting used to them getting used to me.

What could go wrong?

“Sittin’ by the dock of the (other) bay ...”

My son Paul (shown here during one of his Otis Redding moments) arrived safely in Seattle to begin his two-month internship. Becoming quite the savvy traveler, more so than his old man at the same age, he finds ways to amuse himself during layovers.

Boston Airport. Only 8 zillion more miles to Seattle!
Mon 02 Jul 18:26

Fun thing to do in Boston airport: ask people to say "Balsamic" and "malt vinegar" over and over.
Mon 02 Jul 19:41

Thank you JetBlue for providing me with the 6 solid hours of Guy Fieri programming I obviously needed to get me through this flight.
Tue 03 Jul 03:02

So tell me again, how many thousands of miles did you roam, just to make this other dock your home?

Andy Griffith (1926-2012)

The man who played a country lawyer on TV in the 80s and 90s, but who was best known as a small-town sheriff in the 60s, died early this morning at his home on Roanoake Island, North Carolina. He was 86.

It was on the show that bore his name that Griffith made his mark on American culture, as the sheriff (and justice of the peace, remember?) of Mayberry, North Carolina, a fictional town said to be based on his own boyhood home of Mount Airy, also in North Carolina. The characters who were the staple of American small town life, the folks who lived "up in them hills," and the unsentimental homespun wisdom he shared with his son, Opie (played by now-producer/director Ron Howard), were among the things that made it to the short list of viewable fare in the Alexander household back in the day.

There will be many tributes to Griffith in the days to come, and so many old clips from which to choose. It is a little known fact, that the instrumental theme song whistled at the beginning of every episode, composed by Earle Hagen (the whistler) and Herbert Spencer, actually had lyrics written by Everett Sloane. We leave you with Andy singing them here.

Hey, Andy ... rest in peace, ya hear?

Monday, July 02, 2012

Still Offline!

... if only here at Chez Alexandre. (Wow, I just added HTML code using a smartphone!) They tell me life will retun to normal in 12 to 24 hours. But, I wonder. My stats began to go back to normal when I started publishing regular stuff again. Something IRregular is in order soon perhaps, don't you think?

Or don't you? (NOTE: Chart added the following morning.)


I was watching YouTube videos over lunch, mostly how to do things "the Don Draper way," when I was reminded about grackles. There are several varieties of this bird in North America, all arguably worse than crows. Back in the 1990s, Mom decided she had enough of them hanging in the tree of our back yard. So, she got my brother's air rifle, and did what Betty Draper of AMC's Mad Men is doing here.

(Ever try embedding a Mad Men video? Yeah, right.)

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

As this is written, there is power, but no cable or internet at Chez Alexandre, so we're at, um, our usual weekday location to bring you the usual Monday feature. At the same time, there remains a state of emergency in four states and the District of Columbia. So then, if you're sitting on a bench at the mall reading this on your laptop or smartphone, you could probably use a pep talk by Bill Whittle right about now.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on Planet Earth:

You say you're on a career track that's hit a standstill? Not getting enough adulation lately? Tell the media you're ... well, you know ... (The Dish)

In a town in the southern Philippines (Bunawan, Agusan del Sur, Mindanao), they claim possession of the largest crocodile in captivity. They even gave it an adorable name -- Lolong. (AP)

Speaking of animals gone wild, a kangaroo was spotted hopping down the highway near Pasco, Washington. In a state where private ownership of exotic animals is legal, the owner also has a zebra. Maybe he'll trade both for Bigfoot. (KNDO-TV)

Finally, you must be dying to know why it takes so long to fix a power outage! The truth can now be revealed. (Gizmodo)

Under the present (less than ideal) circumstances, that's all the news that fits. Thanks to all who kept our readership stats at double the usual level over the past three days. You guys are awesome. As the week goes on, whether or not they turn on the lights, stay tuned, and stay in touch.