Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Quote of the Day

By Kristin

While rummaging around my parents old book collection, I stumbled upon a childhood favorite, The Phantom Tollbooth. For those of you who haven’t read it, I suggest you do. Here will be our quote of the day to give you a taste of its content.

…the most important reason for going from one place to another is to see what's in between, and they took great pleasure in doing just that. Then one day someone discovered that if you walked as fast as possible and looked at nothing but your shoes you would arrive at your destination much more quickly. Soon everyone was doing it. They all rushed down the avenues and hurried along the boulevards seeing nothing of the wonders and beauties of their city as they went.

The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster

Attacking Talk Radio: Advertisers First

By Bobby

It had to come back to me this evening as I read about the Obama Administration firing the head of General Motors.

Over the past few years, GM advertised aggressively on talk radio, especially on the major conservative programs. I remember hearing ads on major conservative shows.

The Pelosi Administration started imposing new money-losing rules to automakers in an effort to force them into microcars. Chrysler called "uncle" and Fiat offered a third of Chrysler in return for allowing them to work on the Fiat Punto microcar. Ford hired "agents of change" (note the Obama campaign rhetoric) and had 100 (mostly pro-Obama supporters) drive 2010 European Fiesta microcars in an attempt to make the cars feel good for their 2011 launch in the US. GM was too focused on their bread and butter, as Bob Lutz had said their money is made on trucks and family cars, and while they had the Volt, it was still too large for the Pelosi/Obama Alliance, where cars must be microcars, energy must come from wind and solar, and worship of Gaia is the only worship allowed. Worse yet, GM refused to comply with the liberal mandates, so they said if they were to produce what the feds want, the feds had to pay them to do so.

Take the Obama, Pelosi, and Reid victory, and the attitude of "we won, we can do anything we want, and we'll destroy talk radio, first by going after its advertisers".

Take both the Obama/Pelosi energy policy to force microcars, then the attitude against talk radio and its advertisers, and it's clearly no coincidence why Mr. Wagoner was fired. It was clearly aimed at the car guys running GM (Lutz) and its advertising on great radio shows. Liberals are now showing automakers the only way is to stop advertising on talk radio, and making only microcars.

What's the next target?

* * *

One hidden story not mentioned about the Obama Administration's demand of Chrysler accept a partial buyout by Fiat is that the Administration wants everyone into two-seat microcars, and nothing else. This could mean the Fiat Topolino -- the legitimate successor to the Yugo -- being sold in the US. The Topolino is built in the same Serbian plant that gave us the Yugo 55, as last year Fiat bought Zastava, the automaker that gave us the Yugo.

Brace yourself -- Yugo's back with its new Italian boss. And this time they have Chrysler. So here comes the Fiat Topolino, the Yugo that has new ownership of Italy.

Can you imagine this Administration deciding the cars we have, and they want us back in a Yugo, just like the Paul Shanklin parody says on the Rush Limbaugh Program.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Random Thoughts

By Bobby

What are the prizes? It was announced by CBS that Jim Nantz, who will call the Final Four in Detroit next week, appeared a few weeks ago on the set of The Price Is Right to present a prize package to a contestant. The prize package that he is slated to offer a contestant on the Showcase is a sports fan's dream package -- a trip to the Final Four, with airfare, hotel, and game tickets to the games. Seems Drew Carey has decided the last daytime game show left needed to up its stakes for prizes -- adding couture clothing for women and giving sports fans their ultimate dream package. But what do you expect for a man who co-owns the Seattle Sounders FC, taking its ownership cues from FC Barcelona, and featuring a live marching band ready to play music? He's a fan, a team owner, and someone who seems to understand to get fans, you dangle that carrot of the finest sports packages ever offered as a prize.

A Losing War? A friend at church talked with me over the week about the losing war over music. She mentioned that the children in school today never even listen to classical music, or strong sacred music. When they attend church, they are very comfortable with the same thug music they hear on the radio each day that they do not understand sacred music anymore after hearing the same thug music day in and day out, and the leaders at church feed the youth the same music they year on the radio, and do not feed them any sacred music, let alone classical. Thus, these children believe the only church music is the same rock and hip-hop they hear on the radio, and vastly ignore Renée Fleming, Анна Нетребко, Plácido Domingo, Walter Cuttino, or Tina Stallard. The real concern is that what the youth listens is devoid of the Gospel, let alone the Bible, and it gives them a false image of church music that never seems to get out of them.

Faking It . . . VI. These children in their annual performance sanctioned by the church, with the adults once again believe that being a fake band, dancing around to loud rock music, and jigging to everything but sacred music is church. What does it teach them when faking is all they know? Just fake your way through life.

Entertainment Instead of God's Word. Church organisers announced a "strength team" was going to be the feature for a "revival" at the church. Now once again we have entertainment replacing study of God's Word, and the focus is too much on tickling the senses and not studying.

Speaking of Emergent Churches . . . There seems to be a development now with the type of "circus church" that features no study of God's Word, but is full of parties, games, rock concerts, and the works, when these children grow up, they lose sight of faith, only to be fallen into secularism, atheism, the occult, and sexual deviancy. The churches where many of today's children attend are full of postmodernism and the idea that church is one long party. The result of this is showing, and it is not pretty. When these children walk into a church in college for the first time, and hear the pipe organ play Bach, Händel, Watts, Faure, Poulenc, or Mozart, they find church to be "boring" with "dead music". They find themselves more adept to attend live rock concerts and more secular views from what they have learned. Are today's churches causing a problem themselves by teaching children feelings, what is hip and trendy, and what is off MTV, and not from God's Word that is timeless?

Don't Count Them, Overcount Those. The plan for ACORN to participate in the 2010 US Census has suspicion written all over it. It's clear from the Minnesota fracas they want to fix the election for an Al Franken win when Norm Coleman won. The Senate leadership endorses Franken, as does the President. ACORN is involved. Now ACORN is participating in the 2010 Census. I suspect we shall see them undercount areas that are predominantly red, and overcount blue areas, and give the Blue Wall enough seats that they will have 270, and give them a permanent majority for ages to come. This sounds like "professional wresting," and I am ashamed to say this, but one former University of Minnesota wrestler is now in the WWE and went to school with me. The ACORN plan reminds me of "professional wrestling" because it is to fix the election to tilt one way.

Stop the Madness. Speaking of things that are false, how many times have we heard this "global warming" junk out of the media today? It is sickening but is nothing short of a government plan to implement the Soviet takeover of the country. It is government in control of everything using the false premise of "save the earth". This is Gaia worship to push for a Soviet takeover.

A Drag Race. The MTV homosexual network, which we know now has more prevalence than Fox News in the pecking order at the White House (since the President appeared in a debate on that channel, but not Fox News), has renewed a program from a transvestite deviant. Sadly, the title is an insult at ESPN, Coca-Cola, and numerous people across the country. When "Drag Queen" means Ashley Hood beating boys at 1,000 feet, and "Drag Race" means one of thousands of race tracks across the country launching cars side by side at 660, 1,000, or 1,320 feet across the country, MTV wants to change the terms "drag queen," "drag king," and "drag race" from what is common (terms for two cars side by side at 660, 1,000, or 1,320 feet) to what they want it to mean -- sexual deviancy. Of course, Coca-Cola has too much invested in a Drag Race called the Full Throttle Series that airs on ESPN. MTV, on the other hand, wants to change our society. They've done it in churches. Now they want to ensure "drag" means their meaning of sexual deviancy, not a shootout with pre-staged, staged, three ambers, a green, or a red at 660, 1,000, or 1,320.

Bridge Time. Next week will be my sixth Cooper River Bridge Run -- one DNS included because of illness. I was so angry at the illness I said I wanted to take my own life. Naturally, my voice teacher heard that and said, The Consul! How bad have you got it for opera?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Not in the Dark

By Mitchell

I admit that I don't usually blog at this hour, or on the weekend, but this deserved a special note. I just got up to turn out the lights.

As you might have heard, tonight at 8:30 we were all supposed to celebrate "Earth Hour," which means we were all supposed to sit in the dark for an hour. (Of course, the liberals who thought this whopper up are pretty much in the dark anyway.)

Anyway, it's well past 9:30 - so why am I just now turning off the lights? It's because at precisely 8:30, Judie and I turned on every single light in the place, everything that wasn't already on. The bedroom closet, the bathroom, the lights under the cabinets in the kitchen - everything. For one glorious hour, as many of downtown Minneapolis' buildings went dark, our condo shone in a brilliant blaze of glory. (Well, after all, the Good Book does say not to hide your light under a bushel, right?) Even the television was turned to the brightest program I could find: Hockey Night in Canada.

And so as the hour came to an end, and this oh-so-earnest gesture came to an end, and while our lights went off as others came on: what, you may ask, do I - a horrendous offender of the public good, a man who thumbs his nose at the environment, a beast who obviously wants the next generation to suffer for his sins, a downright mean guy - what do I have to say for myself?

Ain't I a stinker?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Life On Walton's Mountain

By Cathy of Alex

One of my favorite TV shows is The Waltons. Yes. Really. I own the first season on DVD and I have a few isolated episodes from various seasons on VHS tapes.

Recently, I was rewatching an episode from Season One entitled "The Deed"

This episode follows the usual arc of a typical show: Intro, crisis, family pulls together or apart, family pulls together at the end, an outsider is converted to the Walton "way", a lot of food is consumed, Grandma is ironing using the outlet in the light bulb, lumber is cut, Mama is curt with someone, Grandpa sticks his tongue out-you know-the usual.

I love it. Can't get enough of it. This is family life. The Waltons is often accused, in a bad way, of being an idealized representation of family. Maybe in some cases it is as family "should be": elders are not thrown into a nursing home to die, no one is 'fooling around' outside of marriage, parents are not divorced or seperated. But what draws me to the show is the respresentation of family as it often is (in my family anyway): Wisdom and advice of the elders is taken seriously, crisis, whining, moments when someone says something hurtful that they regret, dreaming, longing, working hard, growing up, apologies, mistakes, God, prayer, love, trust.

In "The Deed" it suddenly occured to me how much of a self-sufficient world The Waltons is. The only time the Waltons venture off the mountain is when they have to-even Godsey's store, the church and the school are at the base of the mountain. Otherwise, they are hardly ever "in town". They grow their own food. They make a living harvesting timber from their land or selling milk and eggs.

The drama of this episode is their entire way of life is threatened (as it often is in the series) by the realization that their forebears never legally filed claim to the land. Now, a timber company wants to come in and log. Pa talks about how without the trees on the mountain the water will runoff and wash all their topsoil away. They will end up in a Dust Bowl like the people fleeing West (this episode takes place in 1933). The family needs to raise the nearly insurmoutable sum, for those days, of $200 so they can take their case to court.

John-Boy (See how true drama this is? How many of you have childish nicknames your family stuck you with that you want to forget!? LOL!), at the age of 17, decides he needs to help the family by going to "The City" (in this case Wheeling, West Virginia) and get a job. He will send money home to contribute to the court case. Of course, he's "fresh off the farm" and has some trouble. Jaded folks like us we'll probably scoff at the troubles he does have because they seem ludicrously benign to what would probably happen to him today. But, remember, this was Appalachia in 1933 not South Central Los Angeles in 2009.

The only interaction with the outside world the Waltons have is when they have commerce to transact. Otherwise, it seems, to us, that "life" is just passing them by. How backward and unenlightened they are to us now, right?

I was thinking about the family lives of my Dad and both sets of Grandparents growing up. My Mom was raised in Chicago. My Dad and my Grandparents all grew up on farms or very rural areas. My Dad's family did not even live in a house with indoor plumbing or more than one electrical outlet until the early 1950s, no telephone until the 1960s. Dad's family was very self-sufficient. Grandpa and my Great-Uncles went into the woods and logged, gathered berries, hunted and trapped for money. Some of what they did to earn a living would be illegal today. If you ever wanted to tick my Grandpa off tell him "you need a permit or a license for that" then run. Fast.

That's what they lived on. That's what they raised their families on. Work, reliance on each other, and the land. My Grandpa had 8 children who lived into adulthood. Sometimes, he was lucky to earn 5 cents in wages/day.

Now, today, how many have land to even work on or that they could use to survive on if they had too? How many even have the slightest clue how to do even the simplest task of gathering food? How do we raise our families? By the sweat of our own brow using the land God gave us to sustain us or salaried servitude to corporations we detest and despise? How many of us couldn't survive at all if it were not for some kind of government assistance?

What happened? Did people forget or lose connections to the land? Was hard work too unglamorous to be tolerated? Is farming, hunting and gathering work for a class that we flatter ourselves is not our own?

The economy stinks right now. I've heard more families are going back to the "old ways": vegetable gardens, canning, sewing, knitting, because they can no longer afford to pay someone else for the service of the goods.

In the U.S. we quit being a largely rural society decades ago. We are, primarily, urban dwellers. How many gardens do you think can be planted in concrete soil? How many people in cities are living in apartments where a sustaining vegetable garden is not an option? How much of the produce and goods in the stores are even from this country?

Is it time for a resurgance of interest in "Distributism"? I think there are aspects of that movement that may have applicability to us today and offer some solutions.

If you want to read more about Distributism. There is a blog called The ChesterBelloc Mandate that is a clearinghouse on the subject. Furthermore, Paul Likoudis, had an article in the March 12, 2009 Wanderer called "Is There A Bellocian Response For Today's Economic Crisis?" that is worth a read. The Wanderer is online but a subscription is required to read Mr. Likoudis' article.

I just wonder if we had to go back to reliance on the land and on each other would we be able to?

Even more importantly, if we had to kick it WAY old school and trust in God to provide how many of us would fail?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Humor Monday

By Mitchell

Well, why not? If you're like me, you need all the help you can get to make it through a Monday. This comes courtesy from Powerline:

A Republican walked into a bar and asked the bartender, "Isn't that Jesus over there?" When the bartender said "Yes," the Republican sent over a drink. "Put it on my tab," he said.

A little later a Libertarian walked in. "Say," he said, "Isn't that Jesus sitting over there?" The barman said, "Yes," so the Libertarian sent over a hamburger.

Presently a Democrat showed up, noticed Jesus and sent over a plate of french fries. Jesus soon left. On his way out he stopped to talk to the Republican. "Thanks for the drink," he said; "It was really good. Is there anything I can do for you?" "Well," said the Republican, "I'm facing knee surgery..." "Don't say another word," said Jesus as he laid a hand on the man's knee. "You are healed."

Jesus came to the Libertarian and said, "Thanks for the hamburger. It was really good. Is there anything I can do for you?" "Well," said the Libertarian, "I have cataracts..." Jesus placed his fingers on the man's eyes and said, "You are healed."

Finally, Jesus came to the Democrat. He thanked him for the fries and offered him any help he needed. "Don't touch me!" shouted the Democrat, "I'm on Disability!!"

Friday, March 20, 2009

Pope Criticized for anti-Condom position; Harvard professor says he is right.

By Ray

Look outside, quick! Is the world turned upside down? Harvard agreeing with the Pope?

In a Washington Post editorial reprinted March 20 on the Star Tribune's op-ed page, Pope Benedict XVI was criticized severely for being opposed to the distribution of condoms as the primary method or preventing Aids in Africa. The American Media all have greater faith than most believers that condoms are the answer. But Harvard disagrees.

Edward C. Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, in response to papal press comments en route to Africa this week noted that after 25 years, no visible positive results have been seen as a result of condom distribution

“The pope is correct,” Green told National Review Online Wednesday, “or put it a better way, the best evidence we have supports the pope’s comments. He stresses that “condoms have been proven to not be effective at the ‘level of population.’”

“There is,” Green adds, “a consistent association shown by our best studies, including the U.S.-funded ‘Demographic Health Surveys,’ between greater availability and use of condoms and higher (not lower) HIV-infection rates. This may be due in part to a phenomenon known as risk compensation, meaning that when one uses a risk-reduction ‘technology’ such as condoms, one often loses the benefit (reduction in risk) by ‘compensating’ or taking greater chances than one would take without the risk-reduction technology.”

Green added: “I also noticed that the pope said ‘monogamy’ was the best single answer to African AIDS, rather than ‘abstinence.’ The best and latest empirical evidence indeed shows that reduction in multiple and concurrent sexual partners is the most important single behavior change associated with reduction in HIV-infection rates (the other major factor is male circumcision).”

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Radical Change Underway in the Demographics of the Country. Our Veterans are Dying

By Ray

We'll soon be living in a country of new immigrants and with few people with a memory of having served their country in the military. No wonder

About 411,000 military veterans live in Minnesota, according to the 2005-2007 American Community Survey. Eleven percent of Minnesotans ages 18 or older are veterans. This figure includes those who served only during peacetime as well as those who saw combat.

The number of veterans has fallen by 12 percent since 2000, reflecting mortality among those who served in World War II and Korea. The 1990 census found about 152,000 Minnesotans who served in the Second World War. This number fell to 96,000 in 2000 and 58,000 in the 2005-2007 American Community Survey. The number of Korean War veterans has declined 20 percent since 2000.

As of 2005-2007, about 144,000 Minnesotans were veterans of the Vietnam conflict. This is now the largest conflict-era population. Mortality is also taking a toll on the Vietnam generation; the number of Vietnam veterans dropped 5 percent since 2000.

The decline in the number of veterans of wars of the 1940s through the 1970s has been offset somewhat by the growth in the numbers from more recent conflicts in the Gulf Wars and Afghanistan. About 54,000 Minnesotans are veterans with service after 1990. About 21,000 served after September, 2001.

Source: State of Minnesota


By Cathy of Alex

I remember the most trivial facts. Really. I remain undefeated at "Trivial Pursuit". Back in the 1980s, Lionel Ritchie, after he was done sapping all the funk from The Commodores, had a pretty decent solo career. Today, he's probably best known as Nicole Ritchie's Dad.

Lionel Ritchie's catch phrase was: "Outrageous!". In fact, I believe he even named one of his Tours "Outrageous!"

Today has been an Outrageous day!

Today we have President Obama, just 100 days in to his administration and it's Outrageous! Outrageous!

Maybe one day President Obama will only be memorable as Malia's Dad but for now he's Outrageous!

For the unborn this entire administration has been Outrageous!

I still see Gitmo wide open! Outrageous!

He did not pull us out or Iraq yet! Outrageous!

His approval ratings are still in the 60s (GROOVY)! Outrageous!

Today, for the first time ever, I saw Democrats yelling about welfare! We want our money back!

Does anyone, besides me, see the delicious political irony in the corporate bailout?

For DECADES, Democrats have accused the Republican party of favoring big business, of undertaxing big business, of giving too much $$$$ to big business and the wealthy.

For DECADES, the Republicans have accused the Democrats of spending too much on individual welfare-of expecting the government to support everybody and everything that is not working.

What IS the corporate bailout but a welfare program?

Today, we have the outrageous irony of the Democrats, giving welfare money to a CORPORATION that didn't do anything to earn it and now they are shocked, SHOCKED, that the money was not used in the way they (Democrats) wanted. What did they want?

I know what they didn't want. All this public screaming.

Times are tough and here are a bunch of execs who have proved themselved incompetent STILL getting their bonuses, still getting paid-using OUR money.

Who do these guys at AIG think they are: Congress???

What did the Obama Administration expect? They have a Treasury Secretary who can't even do his own taxes. Yet, Obama outrageously is holding fast. Not only that, he thinks we need more government oversight? More government oversight of what exactly? The Department of Common Sense?

Obama is Clinton Part II (or 3 if you want to count each Clinton Administration seperately) surrounding himself with his friends and not wisely so. However, both Bushes were also known as being unwisely loyal.

If Obama is a reflection of: not the best; but the WORST of politics from both parties of the last 20 years, we are in trouble.

Outrageous! Outrageous!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Domingo Weeps, Stabs

By Drew

You have to admit, that's a pretty hard headline to pass up. (Courtesy Bloomberg.com)

Anyway, yesterday I made mention of the Met Gala honoring both the Met's 125th anniversary, and the 40th anniversary of Domingo's debut at the Met. Today there’s quite a wrap-up of the gala, thanks to All About Opera. Sounds like it was quite the evening – I hope they’re planning on showing it on PBS, or releasing it on DVD sometime. The whole affair clocked in at just over four hours, including intermission – in other words, just an hour longer than Mitchell's favorite opera. But apparently unlike the long-nosed puppet, the time just flew on Sunday.

And who says opera isn’t for the masses, eh? Or at least for the rabble. Bloomberg mentions that among those in attendance were "Kanye West and his girlfriend, model Amber Rose, Mary-Kate Olsen, Jeremy Irons, Brooke Shields, and others from the world of entertainment." Somehow, I just can’t picture West sitting by the fireplace in a smoking jacket listening to the third act of Aida. And I must remember to ask Mary-Kate if she prefers Schwarzkopf to Flagstad, or thinks that real coloratura is beyond Netrebko. Of course, I could be wrong – if they’re all opera fans, then more power to them.

But I digress. It does sound as if it was a wonderful night, particularly how the Met incorporated its history - constumes, backdrops, images of singers of the past - into the 26 excerpts presented during the evening. Newsday pointed out that "Much of the evening's charm was due to the loving recreation of old sets and costumes from productions of the past," which makes one wonder why today's directors are so eager to wipe out any traces of the past in favor of trendy, politically correct, time-shifting productions. Or perhaps I've just answered my own question.

To be serious for a moment, we have been honored to have the great Domingo around in our lifetimes. I'm sorry to say I've never heard him in person (although who knows; the way he's going, I might still get that chance) but to have at least heard him live - well, that's not bad, is it?

So happy birthday, Met - but, to be honest, here's hoping you don't have many more like this.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Domingo at the Met

By Drew

It's been a while; how about a little music?

Last night's Metropolitan Opera gala celebrated both the Met's 125th anniversary and the 40th anniversary of the remarkable Plácido Domingo at the Met. Here he is from the mid 80s, with the famed third act aria "E lucevan le stelle" from Puccini's Tosca.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Life Enhancement Instead of God's Word Taught at Churches: A Recipe For Disaster

By Bobby

In light of what Catherine posted about the stupidity of the Obammy (a parody of a Savage Steve Holland cartoon character of the 1980's) and the idea to kill babies for the sake of "research" (which has crippled someone recently; see this site for the report), and also the Maryville, IL church shooting, I could not believe the loss of common sense in our society.

But the church shooting in Maryville had me very angry when I read what had happened during that "church service".

People who attend church services, including Mass, intend to hear God's Word taught by the pastor, bishop, or other leader in a House of Worship. We intend to be reading from the Holy Bible and to learn from the Word that was given to us over two millennia ago. Sadly, what had happened in the church in question on that troubling day was far from it and was the sign of many megachurches that have built their churches in the model of the megachurches that have created life enhancement centres where the main focus is on entertainment, and not the study of the Holy Word. Two things that should not be taking place at church were happening at the time.

During the time the incident occurred, a drama team was performing a skit discussing that week's "sermon," which was about finding happiness in the workplace -- a form of the infamous life enhancement centres that have permeated churches where things other than God's Word are now the focus in these venues of entertainment, such as the drama teams that were performing at the time of the incident, secularised popular music, both by the church organ and in others played by a "worship band" that has replaced sacred song, ejecting the church organist in favour of the rock band that forces churchgoers to carry pit reporter-style earplugs, teen dance teams that jiggle to secular pop music that in many cases have replaced the choirs, and if there is a choir, it performs to karaoke instead of the organ, and using the secularised material, not the sacred.

As for the "life enhancement centre" that was just mentioned, the sermon that was being "preached" by the pastor was a life enhancement seminar titled after a Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler song. That seminar talked about finding happiness in the workplace. God's Word was clearly not the focus here.

The worst part of the tragedy was a church member had referenced that the dramas were part of the church, so entertainment was clearly part of the day at church. But what were members learning with this type of life enhancement service?

Sadly, we need to look at what is happening at churches. Life enhancement (which is popular among seeker-sensitive venues) has replaced the Holy Bible. Think about it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Sign of Jonah

By Cathy of Alex

Today (Monday, March 9, 2009), President Obama is expected to sign legislation allowing embryonic stem cells to be used for medical research. Eight years ago, President Bush restricted the use of embryonic stem cells by denying the use of new lines.

Like many in the pro-life movement, I heard this news late Friday. I was so horrified that I did not know how to react. A headline in the press yesterday said this legislation "will breath new LIFE into medical research."

This is no time to be clever or make light of the horror that is upon us, though I'm sure the headline writer applauded himself for his creativity.

How long will it be before we see embryos created for the express purpose of being destroyed so they can be harvested for stem cells? How long will it be before these new embroyos are no longer discarded aborted embroyos or cryogenicically frozen embroyos in sperm banks but early-term fetuses in the womb that will be harvested maybe because the gender of the embroyo is not what the parent desires or it is determined that the embroyo has "issues"?

Earlier this week, Washington became the second state in our nation to enact a "death with dignity" law. Isn't that clever? Would you rather die with dignity or live with dignity? Define: dignity. Is dignity only defined by choice? Choice to kill. Kill yourself, kill your ailing parent, kill your patient, kill your child. This is dignity? Sounds like murder to me.

We are surrounded by death. We are a culture of death peddlers. Death enablers. We managed to isolate DNA. We can grow babies. We think we are gods-not gardeners.

We are gardeners. God created and gave us this Garden to take care of and we are failing miserably. We are not caring for much of anything or anyone. We certainly are destroying it well. We don't tend, we bulldoze.

How many times has God looked down and thought about smiting us? How many times have we been spared? How many times has God shown mercy upon us who don't deserve it because of the penance and fervant prayers of a few? Perhaps our brothers and sisters in religious orders, engaged in continual prayer on our behalf, have done us more of a favor than we may ever know?

The people of Ninevah took seriously the shouts of the prophet Jonah: "40 days and Ninevah will be overthrown!" We are in 40 days of Lent right now. Coincidence? The people of Ninevah did penance, fasted and repented; from the King on down to the cattle in the field. God spared them.

Pray that this continual assault on life is the Sign. With all this extreme disrespect for life, will more pro-"choice" and pro-death people FINALLY realize things have gone too far and repent and turn away and start advocating for life?

If we don't repent we will be destroyed.

Today I'm going to fast, do penance, and pray to the Lord tomorrow in reparation for this horror and to beg, yes beg, for His mercy.

May God have mercy on us all.

Cross posted to The Recovering Dissident Catholic

Friday, March 6, 2009

Losing by More Than a Nose

By Mitchell

We know from Parson Weems that young George Washington chopped down a cherry tree and, when confronted by the fact, bravely said to his father, “I cannot tell a lie.” History does not tell us what happened to the unfortunate piece of wood that young George cut down, but of this we can be certain: it did not turn into a lying, conniving, mouthy puppet.

And so, having drawn this tenuous link between two of history’s more famous wooden limbs, we turn our attention to the Minnesota Opera’s presentation of Jonathan Dove’s The Adventures of Pinocchio, which played here this week. We cannot tell a lie: it did not work for us.

First, the good news: this is a gorgeous production. Imported from the Leeds Opera in England, Pinocchio runs through a staggering twenty scenes during its three hours and two acts, and Francis O’Connor’s highly imaginative sets run the gamut from the interior of a forest to the inside of a whale, without so much as a stagehand running around pushing a piece of scenery. It cost the Minnesota Opera a bundle to bring the whole thing over from across the pond, and it was worth it.

Good words must be offered, too, for the astonishing performance of Adriana Zabala as the wooden-headed Pinocchio. On stage for virtually the entire performance, Zabala sings, dances and runs her heart out, managing all the while to convey the jointed movements of a puppet (not to mention the prosthetic nose which she wore for all but the final transformation scene).

For that matter, the cast as a whole did a pretty good job, although the lyrics frequently failed to make their way to the upper balcony at the oft-lamented Ordway. Thank goodness for supertitles, although one has to wonder once again why they should be necessary for an opera sung in English. Perhaps the Ordway’s notorious acoustics let us down once more, or possibly the notes were getting caught in that elaborate set, although people on the main floor seemed to hear all right. Good tidings as well to the orchestra, under Anne Manson’s baton, which turned in a very capable, if occasionally loud, job.

So where did it all go wrong? Well, first things first – dare we suggest that perhaps Pinocchio is just not all that appealing a character? He’s lippy, headstrong, foolish, deceitful, stubborn – in short, hard to like. We’ve been told from the outset not to expect that other Pinocchio, e.g. Walt Disney’s. And it is true that Disney’s version did much to sanitize Collodi’s dark and cautionary piece. But one thing it did accomplish was to present the irrepressible charm that even the most conniving little boy often has, and maybe that’s something you just have to depend on a cartoon to provide.

Mind you, it’s not that we doubt Pinocchio’s sincerity when he tells Geppetto and the Blue Fairy how much he loves them. But we’ve seen him do so many stupid – not to mention dishonest – things, it’s just hard to take him seriously. For example, after having been conned for the second time in three scenes by the conniving Fox and Cat, a court sentences the puppet to three months in prison for being so easy to fool – and you want to shout, “Good! Leave him in there!” (Not, perhaps, a very charitable attitude to take, but then opera audiences have not always been known for their charity.)

And this brings us to our biggest complaint: the sheer size and length of Pinocchio. (And no, we’re not talking about the nose here.) It runs, as we said, for three hours – longer than Tosca, longer than Das Rheingold, longer than Salome or Elektra or The Barber of Seville. Does one really need three hours to tell the story of a puppet?

Apparently one does, when trying to faithfully adapt Collodi’s original story. And it should be said that Alasdair Middleton’s libretto is a marvel; witty, literate and clever, one couldn’t help but be reminded of Eliot, or perhaps even Cole Porter. But it is, shall we say, very thorough. Forty minutes could easily have been chopped from this story without missing a beat. And in trying to cram all these somewhat unconnected episodes into the story, it necessitates rushing through many of them. When that happens, character development is bound to suffer. Pinocchio leaves us unaffected because we never really get to know him. His transformation and redemption at the end of the opera should be stirring and touching, but it isn’t. Pinocchio may be made of wood, but – like another Woodman, that from the Wizard of Oz – what he really needs is a heart. It’s hard to describe, how a three-hour opera can be too long and yet still feel incomplete, but there it is. Everything whizzes by too fast; it’s ADD night at the Ordway, Sesame Street goes to the opera. We were promised a fast-paced story, but this is almost frenetic, and there is a difference.

And, as we must be honest, Jonathan Dove’s music just wasn’t all that interesting. Big, bold and often brassy, it resembled John Williams more than, say, John Adams, lacking in subtlety and occasionally drowning out the singers (although, as we mentioned, there could be other factors at work). There wasn’t much there that tugged at the heartstrings, which is vital in a story that revolves around the trials and ultimate redemption of Pinocchio. It was virtually all recetitive, meaning there were no arias, few portions that could stand as excerpts, little in the way of hummable melodies that one could take from the opera house (save the four-beat “Pin-oh-key-oh” theme that, upon closer inspection, was reminiscent of that 60s song Aquarius). As we’ve said, Pinocchio just isn’t a very likable character; but a lot of opera heroes and heroines can be hard to take, and yet their operas still work because of the music. That didn’t happen here.

This was thoroughly modern music, but in an uninteresting way; and to the extent that one could detect signs of such 20th Century composers as Stravinsky, Puccini, Menotti, Britten or Rorem (personal favorites all), it was merely to remind us that Dove doesn’t measure up. Had it been done in, say, the Italian style that would seem to suit this story – but then, what is the use in dealing with what-ifs?

So what did we have? It was too much like pop to be classical, too much like a musical to be an opera, but in reality it was none of the above. Musical theater, one could guess, would be as accurate as you might get; but even that description, like this opera, is unsatisfying. We were told not to take it too seriously, to have fun with the production, and it’s evident that those behind the scenes and on stage, as well as many in the audience, followed that advice. But even fun sound and fury still signifies nothing.

In the end, The Adventures of Pinocchio is not the story of a puppet longing to be a boy; it’s that of a fairy tale longing to be an opera. And failing.

For, as we said, we cannot tell a lie.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

This Just In

By Kristin

Weather Report for Minneapolis/ St. Paul

As if coming out of some deep cryogenic sleep, the Twin Cities awoke this morning to a summer like temperature of 30 degrees. The Hadley Blog Weather Team went to the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport to gather feedback on this year's thaw.

“It was like coming out of a deep cryogenic sleep,” one stunned St. Paulian stated. “I was like, whoa, I don’t need that extra layer of down”. This person wasn’t the only one relieved from this sudden change in temperature. “I could leave my long underwear, ski socks, parka, fur-lined mittens and Snuggie home,” Susie Snaffold told reporters after offering the Weather Team some bars. There was one traveler, however, who did not appreciate this atmosphere as much as the locals.

“I’m up here to visit family, and I am never coming back,” yelled a tan, Hawaiian shirt clad Californian. “It’s like an ice box here and these people are calling it a heat wave.”

The Hadley Blog Weather Team was able to comfort the frigid man with some warm hot dish.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

This Just In

By Mitchell

America ’s Comedians Lash Out At Obama
Presidential Goofs “Make Things Hard For Us”

(New York City, March 2) – America ’s top stand-up comics, late-night talk show hosts, and other entertainers lashed out at President Barack Obama today, accusing him of sabotaging their efforts to portray his administration in a pure and reverential light.

“He’s making things hard for us,” Tonight Show host Jay Leno admitted. “I don’t want to say anything bad about the guy, you know – I mean, after eight years of Bush and all – but that line in the State of the Union about America inventing the car, that was almost too much even for me to take. Especially with all the cars I own.”

“It’s reverse censorship,” Saturday Night Life executive producer Lorne Michaels complained. “He’s forcing us to get rid of our best bits. Sure, we would have done a sketch about Bush bumping his head on the presidential helicopter, but this is a new day now, and we have to keep hope alive.”

That's not to say the comics have given the Prez a complete free pass, said Daily Show host Jon Stewart. "Sure, we have to tell a joke once in awhile just to make sure people don't suspect something's up. Whoops, did I say that?" he added with a smile.

“Somebody has to get to him and tell him to stop acting like a Republican,” said CBS chatfest ringleader David Letterman. “Remember the time he said there were 57 states in the United States? Now, if Sarah Palin says that, I’d be all over it. My audience expects that kind of humor. But that was then - this is change we can believe in."

Conan O’Brian, the carrot-topped NBC latenite celeb, lamented a lack of planning. “I suppose we should have known this would happen from what he said on the campaign trail – like that time he claimed that tornadoes in Kansas killed 10,000 people, when it was actually 12. Not 12,000 – just 12. But we held our tongues – for the good of the country, you know. And he gets elected, and then the next thing you know, he’s losing cabinet nominees left and right. If it had been Bush, I would have said something about how the administration planned to take care of the national debt by having cabinet officers pay their back taxes, and the crowd would have been rolling in the aisles. I can’t stand holding my tongue like this – it’s killing me.”

And that doesn’t even begin to get into the Burris thing, O’Brian added. “It just doesn’t stop. You know, we thought we already had enough of our people working for him. It just goes to show you that you can never be too certain.”

It’s enough to make an honest comic cry, Leno concluded. “All we’re trying to do here is be responsible American patriots,” he said sadly. “I’m afraid I’m starting to miss the Republicans already.”

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Galatians 6:3

By Cathy of Alex

Gentle Reader: I don't, honestly, know what is in the blogosphere water these days but has everyone gone crazy? Among my Catholic blogger buddies, I think there may have been toxic waste in the palms that were burned into ashes for Ash Wednesday and when the ashes were applied at the Mass this past Wednesday the toxin seeped into everyone's brains. Or, perhaps, it's because everyone gave up being charitable for Lent?

The absence of charity and civility in every day conversation is a topic I've dealt with on my blog before and I know Our Word has.

How many times, must we endure ad hominem attacks on commentors who are brave enough to come and comment on a blog that may espouse beliefs that are the opposite of theirs? How many times do hosts of blogs seem to forget that a duty of a host is to, if not make sure your guests are comfortable, to at least make sure they are treated decently?

Have we, as bloggers, all come to believe that because we can bang out a few sentences and navigate a social media tool that we are better than anyone else? Do we think we are more than we are?

Lately, I've also had several bloggers express concern to me that they are not on so-and-so's blogroll, or they were removed, or they wonder why they were removed, or they feel slighted because they are not on a blogroll...etc. etc.

Is that why people blog? Is all social media a high school popularity contest? If you have 2,000 Facebook friends does that make you really popular? You probably have only actually met about 20 of those "friends" anyway. Conversely, if you have "only" 100 readers on your blog/day does that mean you must be stupid or not "in"? Is this worth getting angry and depressed over?

We are a media nation of hunter gatherers and peacocks. Hunt and gather as many strangers as you can, show off your lists to your circle, preen madly. Pride is supposed to be enough to amaze and dazzle everyone. (Proverbs 16:18)

Does all the "popularity" in the world matter if we are not civil and charitable do the networks we do have: whether that's 20 people or 2,000 people? (1 Corinthians 13:1)

I thought about titling this post: Ecclesiastes 1:2.

Monday, March 2, 2009

For What It's Worth...

By Bobby

In our For What It's Worth Department, Citadel Radio announced Paul Harvey signed off for the last time this weekend, having died at 90.

It was a much different time on radio when I first began listening to Mr. Harvey on the radio. The Fairness Doctrine made it impossible to provide much of today's popular news/talk format that we have accustomed ourselves to be listening every day. When we wanted to hear the big national news reports, I remember listening to Paul Harvey.

But, of course, Harvey was one of the old-time radio broadcasters whose sense of news reading was there. He was one of the last I remember to feature "live" advertising breaks (where the anchorman actually reads the ad copy on-air as he heded towards the break). He had this homespun style that always had a keen wit that always had you coming back. And after the popularity of his "Rest of the Story" segments, he and his son Paul Jr decided to make it its own segment. I remember when we had local radio that they would play Paul Harvey's The Rest of the Story (which his son produced, wrote, and now hosts) in evenings before Sports Talk.

Compared to some of the obnoxious shock jocks we hear on the radio today (Howard Stern, Bubba the Love Sponge, and other morning radio hosts have I do not even want to hear) and the stupidity of the bad pop-rock, rap, or other forms of music that is the "platinum standard" of radio today, Paul Harvey symbolised a radio that meant something, similar to the current batch of sensible news/talk radio such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, current news analysts.

Paul Harvey . . . Good Day!

Paul Harvey, R.I.P.

By Mitchell

For most broadcasters, they would be hokey gimmicks: Stand by for news! Page two. And now you know . . . the rest of the story. Good day!

For most broadcasters, perhaps, but for over 70 years Paul Harvey was one of a kind.

My friend Peter does a wonderful impression of Paul Harvey, and one of the reasons it’s so hilarious (besides the fact that it’s very good) is that you already know the punchlines. You’ve heard the shilling for Amway and HGTV and Citracal (Cit as in citrus, cal as in calciumCit-ra-cal), done so seamlessly that they were virtually a part of his newscast. You’ve listened to the rest of the story, heard the remarkable coincidences and obscure facts that make up the lives of the rich and famous. You’ve probably used some of his catchphrases yourself.

People recognized them, just as they recognized Paul Harvey and welcomed him into their homes every day. He had a wonderful voice for broadcasting, a marvelous ear for phrasing, and a natural talent for connecting with his listeners. He wasn’t just a disembodied voice reading a script from some isolated broadcasting booth – he was an old and trusted friend telling you a story, as if it were just the two of you sitting on the front porch.

And there was something terribly American about him. Although his broadcast originated for many years from Chicago, his audience was the entire country – farmers and housewives, schoolchildren and shopkeepers, in small rural areas and large metropolitan cities. He spoke to us in the pages of big city newspapers, but also in the small-town publications like Grit. Think of the phrase from sea to shining sea – that was Paul Harvey’s territory. There was nothing fancy or pretentious about him; he was just one of us. An American.

In listening to various media yesterday, I was struck by how many of them mentioned Harvey, from the morning show host on the classical music station to the NASCAR broadcaster on Fox. He had been a part of their lives too, and had played some role in their own “rest of the story.” For many years he was one of the best and most articulate voices for political conservatism, and today’s talk-show hosts, from Rush to Hannity to Beck and all the rest –owe a lot to Paul Harvey – and they’ll be among the first to admit it.

Paul Harvey was 90 when he died in Arizona on Saturday. He had struggled with health problems in recent years and his wife, the often-referenced Angel, had died the previous year, so you figured it might not be much longer. His son, Paul Jr., wrote the famous “rest of the story” tales that entertained and enlightened and were later collected in books, capturing his father’s voice and spirit perfectly, and I suppose he’ll carry on his father’s legacy. But he won’t imitate it, because you can’t copy Paul Harvey. A writer for Time said that when he died, he took the whole history of radio with him – but I think we can agree that he left a great deal with us.

And so good day, Paul Harvey. Here's hoping that you now know the rest of the story.

UPDATE: Our good friend Adoro has this warm reminiscence at her site. This is precisely the kind of thing I was talking about - how Paul Harvey transcended the airwaves and became almost a part of the air that we breathed, as familiar as the flag or apple pie. No matter where you were, he was there as well - and all was right with the world.
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