Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Tuesday, April 23, 2019
- G.K. Chesterton
Friday, April 19, 2019
Bishop Fulton J. Sheen's Life Is Worth Living ran on DuMont, ABC and in syndication from the early 1950s through the late 1960s. Blessed with a sharp mind, a whimsical sense of humor and a gift of gab, Bishop Sheen brought his ecumenical message to millions of viewers each week; as Brooks and Marsh put it in their Complete Guide to Prime Time Programming, the word "homily" would be strong for the friendly, accessible talks from the good Bishop.
A half-hour of religious programming in prime time on a national broadcast network would be unthinkable today - that pretty much goes without saying. And while that is one measure of the change in television between then and now, it's actually another point that I'm thinking of: the idea of a "talking head" as entertainment programming.
There were no fancy graphics, no special effects, on Life is Worth Living; the closest thing being the invisible "angel" (actually a stagehand) responsible for erasing the blackboard Sheen used to illustrate his points. People watched and enjoyed that, week after week. As someone wrote not long ago about the Dick Cavett shows, it hearkens back to a day when conversation was actually considered entertainment - and by that I mean actual, you know, talking, rather than shouting, interrupting, declaiming, insulting, offending, and what have you. Of all the changes we've seen in television over the years, I think this is one of the most underrated and underappreciated.
What we have here is either from Good Friday, 1956; It was sponsored (as I recall from the version I have) by Progresso, and presented without commercial interruption.
Thursday, April 18, 2019
|The author with Abby Johnson, 2012 Pro-Life Dinner at SC March for Life|
The story starts innocently as Abby and Doug Johnson are at home, and Abby leaves for work after she greets her daughter. The title of the movie is not shown, except for the fact it is built around an eponymous book. The shocking details of the Planned Parenthood of Bryan, TX director being asked to observe an abortion and assist in it starts what is the legitimate reason the movie was handed an R rating, as it depicts children being murdered in a gruesome manner, as the murder takes place.
That scene will repeat itself later as they flash back to her trip to a volunteerism day while in college, introduced deceptively to Planned Parenthood. But what I initially observe is a huge mistake in the movie, as access to the parking lot of that venue is blocked, despite federal law (FACE) signed by the Clinton Administration. The Pure Flix producers also use the inappropriate stereotypes for pro-life folks around the murder mill, and we see the first signs of a product placement (40 Days for Life) being rampant in the movie. I've known Pure Flix has made product placement crucial in their movies, often ruining the message by running advertisements. They flash back to her first failed marriage and her trip to that very same baby murder mill, as a patient, told to consume mifepristone (better known as Rousell Uclaf-486), a drug legalised by the Clinton Administration, to kill her first child. The drug was used to escape the bad marriage in the film, and the horrific bleeding and death of the child could have become two deaths as a result of that scene. It was horrific, and allowed people to see how deceptive the marketers were in pushing the drug (which should be banned, if you saw the consequences).
After the failed marriage, she found love again, a marriage that continues to this day. They also attend church for the first time together, which brings to light a second disturbing scene and product placement. In my 22 years of volunteering with the state chapter of National Right to Life, which I continue to this day as a member of the local chapter, I've met Mrs. Johnson at the Clover Wolf Memorial Pro-Life Weekend in 2012 (the name was added in 2018 following the death of the current state director's mother). I understand they are Catholic, and over Christmas Day itself, I visited my Citizens for Life friends at their Catholic cathedral to observe their services (though not permitted to take communion because of being a Protestant, I deliberately carried my Bible to the service). When the scene notes the Johnsons attending church, instead of a vast cathedral in the College Station area being shown, we are shown an auditorium similar to what you see in a high school, a rock band, and a "minister". In observing the closing credits of the film, we are told the minister in the film is a minister at the notoriously heretic Bethel Church of Redding, California. There is no way a rock band and this type of minister would be at the church the Johnsons attended, as Bethel is a cult, with events such as the "Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry" (see this article or details), and the "Kundalini movement" inside that church. Sadly, the movie's music also comes from Bethel, which should be a warning as many churches today have adopted Bethel, along with its "Jesus Culture" and "Bethel Music" brands, into their churches, not knowing royalties support them.
Scenes of pro-life prayer warriors (around the campus of the baby murder mill where she was working) being sprayed by the sprinkler system have an eerie reference to the civil rights rallies in Birmingham, Alabama, of the 1960's, complete with notorious police chief Eugene "Bull" Connor's use of fire hydrants to spray those pushing for desegregation. Abby is then named the director of the Bryan area Planned Parenthood, followed by her award as director of the year, and plans for a larger facility are announced. We also learn her parents have prayed for her because of the troubling position she heads—she has only thought the organization was for women's health care (but it was not).
The crucial turning point of the movie take place after we see her awards. There is an innocent time where Doug and Abby have date night at a local cantina, and the television news screens show the death of Kansas baby murderer George Tiller. The prosecuting attorney going after Mr. Tiller was Phill Kline (now having been been part of Citizens for Life these years), who would later lose his law licence when the Governess (who later became the Obama Administration's HHS Secretary, advancing new regulations that we call Obamacare), stripped him for political gain because of his prosecution of Mr. Tiller. He also had previously spoken at a March for Life. After that, Abby is more open and we see how killed children must be reassembled prior to disposal. The children are placed in a barrel and a Prayer for the Dead (though initially I thought it resembled Mormonism's baptism for the dead) are conducted. After that, we return to the opening scene of the film where Abby is called to an abortion examination room and after that breaks down after seeing the child die. She is in the bathroom and broke down, then counseling to the pro-life counselors that were around the room.
As we know now, with the gruesome truth exposed, Johnson quits Planned Parenthood. Their lawyers taunt her, as you might expect, and after finding an attorney that actively is pro-life, she wins her case. She now works on the other side, and we see one expecting mother choose life instead after Abby explains the story. The movie ends with Executive Producer Mike Lindell driving a tractor and pulling down the Planned Parenthood sign as the clinic closed.
My concern was was Bethel's product placement too rampant to push their heresy?
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
I’ve been to Paris twice, and both times a visit to the cathedral was essential. One cannot help but gaze in astonishment at its overwhelming beauty and majesty. I did not attend services there, which I regret now, but the first time I entered I had the pleasure to witness a wedding taking place within its hallowed walls. That made the moment even more special.
And now much of it is gone.
A cause will be identified for the fire, while people of faith will debate whether its destruction was a simple accident, or if there is some deeper meaning to be found in its loss. How could an 800 year-old structure that survived a bloody revolution and two world wars be gutted by an extreme makeover?
We should always be cautious to ascribe earthly tragedies to divine intervention. But somehow it seems a little harder to dismiss this time.
Governments throughout the civilized world sanction the murder of millions of unborn children, and applaud (not just figuratively but literally) legislation that makes it easier, not more difficult to expand these grim statistics. We take legal action against memorials and monuments with a religious connotation. We mock those who pray after tragedy, expel God from schools and cheer every time the popular culture takes another step away from grace and civility.
And while secular society ceaselessly strives to eradicate any reference to faith from our culture, the perversions and prevarication of far too many who represent the Catholic Church have hastened its path to obsolescence, and only made it easier for its enemies to advance their agendas.
In times like these, in Easter week, how could one not see a message being sent by the destruction of this magnificent, holy edifice? How can we not draw a conclusion from the loss of a place that symbolized reverence for the divine, and for life, and for beauty? Our world may finally have become too ugly to sustain such treasures.
President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild. That’s good. But in today’s France, where 5% of Catholics attend Mass, and atheism is more popular than Jerry Lewis, the loss of a cathedral carries no more meaning than the loss of a theme park attraction. Oh, well, now the tourists will just have an extra hour to visit Disneyland Paris.
Friday, April 12, 2019
But we go off to a Retro TV Friday that reflects on game shows, as you might expect. This week, singer Julianna Emanski made a social media post that would have been worthy of being a blooper on the short-lived Jay Wolpert produced Bud Austin game "Whew!" that aired in 1979, as the object of the game was to correct the bloopers read by Jim Narz (aka Tom Kennedy, used a stage name to prevent people from confusing him with his brother Jack, also a well known game show host.
I've made her post into a "Whew!" blooper as if it was on the show. Can you solve it? (She corrected it; I've edited it to make it resemble a question on the game.)
“The vast majority of pop music and lyrics is written by Mark Martin and Lukas Gottwald?”
(NOTE: The original post that she posted: “This is super interesting. Popular music today is a product designed to sell, not to inspire. Did you know that the vast majority of pop music and lyrics is written by Mark Martin and Lukas’s Gottwald!??? Just two people??? Watch this vid, y’all.” It was since corrected.)
Here's the game reference (courtesy Wink Martindale):
Labels: Retro TV
Thursday, April 11, 2019
-Don DeLillo, Valparaiso
Wednesday, April 10, 2019
isette Oropesa was named the winner of the 2019 Richard Tucker Award. The soprano has already become a major headliner worldwide, including the Royal Theater of Madrid and the Royal Opera House as Lucia de Lammermoor. The award, named for an American singer, is awarded to a rising American soprano.
And while thinking about it, she fits two categories that your humble writer fits -- the Southeastern Conference alum, and Marathoner!
Oropesa shows this video of her running in Lausanne, set to her performance in Ambroise Thomas' operatic version of Hamlet that she was performing at the time, Act IV, "La mort d’Ophélie" (The Death of Ophelia).
This happened in 2013 at the NYC Runs Brooklyn Marathon. Yes, the National Anthem singer is in running gear and a bib.
Labels: Opera Wednesday
Friday, April 5, 2019
- Nick Hornby, Fever Pitch
Thursday, April 4, 2019
Clearly, if we learn anything from this whole mess, it's that the theory that allowing priests to marry will eliminate the pedophile scandal is nothing but a red herring. First of all, it's not pedophilia but pederasty that drove the Church's scandal - that and a rejection by the priests involved of Catholic teaching.
This, however, is a matter for another day. What interests so many about this teacher abuse study is a fundamental question of human curiosity: what do these grown women see in teenage boys? There's something almost nauseating about the whole thing. What I find interesting about it is how this behavior contrasts so dramatically with how women used to behave, or at least how they were portrayed in popular culture. Forget for a minute whether or not that pop culture portrayal was an accurate one; what mattered, in order for the portrayal to be a successful one, was that it was plausible.
Nowhere is that more evident than in pulp detective fiction, especially that from one of the genre's masters, Mickey Spillane, and his greatest creation, Mike Hammer. Hammer is, to put it mildly, a chick magnet (as well as a magnet for bullets, fists, Commies, Mafia, and all sorts of other unsavory characters). And we're not talking about ordinary women here - just beautiful ones. Breathtakingly beautiful ones. Hammer, at first blush, would seem to be the most unlikely object of desire.
He is, by his own admission, not a handsome man. It’s true that women often meet him after he’s been beaten virtually to a pulp by some nefarious perp, who invariably winds up dead, either right away – in the “you should see the other guy” school – or later on, when Hammer fulfills his mission of revenge. It’s clear, though, that Hammer harbors no illusions about his own appearance, even in the best of times.
And yet women literally throw themselves at him. Within minutes of the initial meeting, they’re tossing off suggestions and bon mots at him that would make a sailor blush. To these invitations Hammer often reacts lewdly, taking advantage of some, disdaining others. It must be nice to pick and choose that way.
Hammer is by no means unique in the world of detective fiction. Philip Marlowe, for one, has the same, shall we say, problem (especially when he’s played by Humphrey Bogart), and easy sex with loose women is a staple of both pulp and mainstream mysteries. Even Nick Charles, he of the Thin Man series, is one of those men who women want and men want to be like. Nick is considerably smoother and more handsome than most of them, however, plus he has Myrna Loy to come home to, and so he remains above those kinds of temptation.
Nevertheless, what is it about these characters that causes beautiful women – far more beautiful than the men are handsome – to throw themselves at them with a speed worthy of a Puccini opera? The reason for this animal magnetism, implicit in the Hammer books, is a simple one: manliness. Hammer is a real man, not a fake – a man who knows what he wants, knows how to get it, and, most important, isn’t afraid to take it.
And this is what brings us back around to the central question asked at the beginning – why the epidemic of female teacher-male student affairs? What is it that these older women – some barely older, some much older – could possibly find of interest in these boys? One theory that I find plausible is that implicit in these actions is a rejection of modern malehood – the lack of manliness so prevalent in men today. As the metrosexual (if that term isn’t already passé) becomes a dominant archetype of the modern man, more and more women yearn for that old-style masculinity found in the likes of Hammer and others. Enough with men who seek to be in touch with their “feminine side.” To many women, this breeds doubt, uncertainty, an unwillingness to take the initiative – hardly qualities that make a man truly attractive. Hugh Grant may be the ideal man for those tissue-drenching chick flicks that Lifetime and Hallmark live on, but it’s not hard to imagine that a real relationship based on that Hugh Grant character would lead to frustration and exasperation before too long.
So, confronted with the lack of “real men” out there, and dismayed by the alternative - young men wrapped up in rude, crude and boorish Maxim-like behavior, women reject the choices presented to them by conventional society and instead turn to the raw material, the stuff that their dreams can truly be made of. In the handsome, virile boy in their classroom they find a boy eager to learn, eager to please, with much to offer in the physical sense; but also one not yet corrupted by sensitivity training. Perhaps he’s a rugged jock, or a boy who exhibits all the hesitant masculine boisterousness that teenage boys usually have. Or he’s untapped ground, one who can be shaped not by the demands of society to emasculate himself, but by the desires of a woman who thinks (however misguided) she can teach him how to be a real man.
This kind of thing is really nothing new however, as is shown by Richard Strauss’ comic opera masterpiece Der Rosenkavalier. The subject matter in this story, written in 1911 but set in 1740s Vienna, was the source of some controversy as well. In it, we have the Marshallin, a charming but aging noblewoman, who is involved with Octavian, described as “a handsome young man with an eye for beautiful women.” Through a series of impossibly convoluted twists and turns, Octavian loses his heart to the beautiful young Sophie, who herself is engaged to the inept and repulsive Baron von Lerchenau.
Although the Marschallin is captivated by her affair with Octavian and falls in love with him, she knows that eventually he will leave her for a younger woman - one more his age. Eventually, this happens, and in the heart-wrenching trio "Hab' mir's gelobt" she releases Octavian to follow his heart and go to Sophie, saying she loves him so much she only wants happiness for him, even if it is with another woman.
With this ending, Strauss hints at the natural law of things, that eventually people - especially young ones - gravitate toward those of their own kind, their own age. And I think that what people most strongly object to in these teacher-student affairs is the idea that the young are being robbed of their future, of their natural maturing into the world beyond their youth, in essence being trapped into a lifestyle (and the consequences) long before they're ready to accept - or even understand - that life. Thus, they are not victims of sexual abuse per se, but of the same kind of abuse that we see in advertising campaigns, in peer pressure, in a hundred different ways - the abuse of forcing children to become adults before they're ready. Some would say that the unfortunate, if not ironic, aspect of this is that in the teacher-student case this is often being done by women who refuse to grow up, who yearn instead for their own childhood, free of responsibility.
As I say, I’m no sociologist, so I don’t pretend that this is anything other than a theory that I find compelling. It also suggests, but doesn’t necessarily deal with, the immaturity that these women themselves exhibit, their own failure to grow up and act responsibly. It does, however, answer a great many questions. And undoubtedly it says a lot about the present state of masculinity – or the lack thereof – in the modern male. I don’t know if we should be more worried about this epidemic of schoolhouse abuse, or the cultural forces that may be playing a part in it.
Whatever the case, this whole phenomenon should cause us to look closely at what our culture has become - how we view childhood, what it means to be a "real man" (and how through our culture so many of the natural aspects of manhood are being stripped away), and how for so many nowadays, adulthood is something to be put off as long as possible.
Originally published December 13, 2007
Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Though Menotti wrote the opera in English, you'll see it here in German, without subtitles. Despite that, I'm confident you're going to be able to figure it out fairly quickly. It has to do with a young man, Ben, who has something very important to tell his girlfriend, Lucy. Getting her attention, though, is something else...
The singers are Anja Silja and Eberhard Waechter, with Wolfgang Rennert conducting the orchestra of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation.
Tuesday, April 2, 2019
Rock and Roll. Today, too many churches have sold their souls to rock and roll, and the penetration of these parties have seduced the youth -- even when they attend a church that is full of bad rock music in services -- to think of it as a party that when it comes to serious teachings, they skip church in the belief the truth is "relative" and not absolute, and also because they were taught in these youthful parties that they mature and ignore the seriousness. The most popular churches are self-help life enhancement centres where any hit song from any pop divo or diva is sung (see NewSpring singing from 50 Shades of Gray as an example), and the rampant popularity of the Kundalini spirit of Bethel where many congregations have cover bands playing Bethel's hits, unaware they promote such dangerous New Age spirituality that was rampant of that era that is coming home to roost now. How many times have people's warnings of Bethel fallen on deaf ears?
Rock and Roll also means the relativism in the media that started in music and is now pushed in a post-Hays Code movie and television industry, especially with the glorification of television's New Big Four where "too hot for movies" and "no Kyle Busch Rule" is now glorified as the perfect show for television, as commercials promoting shows from the New Big Four are pushing the TV-MA rated programming, which is the X rating in movies. Losing the standard has cost entertainment its high quality and high standards. When even religious radio such as the KLVR-FM chain from Sacramento decided to purge Biblical teachings, news, and commentary, while pushing heretic entertainment, the relativism is complete.
Thirty years ago, as a teen, I investigated rock music for its lyrics and content as a term paper for fun in the summer. In light of the gruesome murders we've seen that have plenty of influence in the music, movies, and television, what hath the rock and roll culture wrought?
The culture of Rock and Roll has taken over.
Sex. After Vermont's judges went rogue two decades ago, thirty-one states passed marriage definitions, many over 75 percent approval, and even California approved 53 percent, primarily with the "rest of the state" that was being ignored by the state leadership, a warning that proves Sen. Dirksen correct in 1964. In light of the major scandals at elite colleges over admissions (which is partially related to federal quotas that are another issue), and Justice Scalia's warnings in the decision that forced "sex" per the elites down on us, the idea of "free sex" and "sexual liberty" is demolishing religious freedom. These judges of elite institutions said the majority's view of marriage did not fit their feelings. We see the dangers of sodomy and graphic sex-ed standards that these "San Francisco Values" forced on us, and that includes heinous crimes that we would never have seen in the past, and special protections under ObamaCare that protect STD's.
Today, MTV glorifies out of wedlock teenage sex and Discovery has been celebrating boys who claim to be girls, forcing even athletic standards to be changed to appease them. In 2012, Miss Universe, then owned by The Trump Organisation, was sued by a Canadian man who claimed to be a woman, with Gloria Allred representing him, forcing Miss Universe to accept men who claim to be women (since the man is Canadian, and the Canadian Human Rights Code protects men who claim to be a woman), and this past Miss Universe season, Spain was represented by such men. Thanks to the "Exxon Mobil Payback" (the Executive Order signed giving special rights to sexually perverse in businesses signed by the Obama Administration when shareholders overwhelmingly rejected a New York City proposal), CrossFit, Inc. was forced to accept men claiming to be women as women (and vice versa) as part of attempting to teach their techniques to the military.
Now we are seeing the next push in sexual liberty in many city-states where a single city or two control an entire state. These powerful urban areas are now forcing laws allowing effective infanticide by killing children during any time the child is in the womb of the mother. These sexual liberty activists have a philosophy similar to India's Hindu caste system, where they are the warrior caste and Christians and those outside the elite enclaves are untouchables. Look at the controversy over Twitter banning Abby Johnson's Unplanned from having an account, and how most television channels affiliated with a major movie studio banning that movie from being advertised on their channels.
Drugs. As a registered athlete with CrossFit, Inc., for The CrossFit Open the past three seasons currently representing Athlete's Arena (which acquired the CrossFit box last year that I have been part the past four years) with friends participating in higher level events, and the domestic Autorité Sportif Nationale (ASN) for the International Triathlon Union because of a requirement that local ASN membership is mandatory to participate in triathlons, and having run in International Association of Athletics Federations or the domestic ASN sanctioned races that are state-level national championships and internationally renowned 10,000 metre races in the region exclusively as a weekend warrior, the rule book for these events state we are subject to drug testing under the auspices of the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Many workers at businesses around the world, including police, fire, and first responders, and the military, are also subject to similar WADA drug testing policies, in addition to factories.
There is a push now to legalise a Prohibited Substance in the WADA Code (Section 8), Cannabinoids, in this nation, much of it is being built on emotionalism instead of what WADA and others have proven. In light of seeing cannabinoids being found in the body of a sprint car driver killed after ignoring authorities in a New York State sprint car race and then suing an Nippon Telegraph and Telephone and Monster Energy champion who is under the WADA Code for an FIA Grade 1 licence (Monster Energy NASCAR Cup drivers must have an FIA Grade 2 licence; Nippon Telegraph and Telephone INDYCAR drivers must have FIA Grade 1), the dangers of pot as a while, and the dangers of such, people are being fed a bucket of lies to support legalising marijuana, despite its dangers. This endorsing of pot recently forced NBC Sports, in association with Feld Entertainment, to block a cannabinoid advertisement from a Supercross motorcycle because of policies enacted by the FIM and WADA. Yet the push for more drugs is part of the idea there should be no standards but their own feelings.
The propaganda being pushed emotionally towards legalising pot will lead to a transition to full pot legalisation, as we have seen in too many states. We cannot follow along with the blind and legalise such illicit substances on a Prohibited List of the WADA. If this happens, many common weekend warriors and workers will be punished as others try to pass their dangerous substances through to force a failed drug test. The cost of marijuana is too high, as our state's Attorney General, Alan Wilson, has noted.
Have we come to a full era where "Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll" are now glorified in a dangerous way?