Monday, March 31, 2014

Retro TV Monday - This week in TV Guide: April 5, 1958

When, the cover asks, will we see new movies on television?  Back in April of 1958, could one possibly have imagined that someday you'd be able to pay to see a movie on television the same day it premiered in theaters?  Or that the quality of some home theater systems would eventually rival that of a movie house?  That there would be entire networks that would show only movies, uncut and without commercial interruption (for a fee, of course)?  Or that you didn't even need television, just a machine into which you could put a tape or a disc and watch your favorite film, any time you wanted, usually less than a year after it premiered on the big screens?  This, I think, is one of the biggest ways in which we've changed the way we think about television, as a form of entertainment.  You don't even have to read the article - the headline says it all.

I do read the article, of course - it's part of my service to you, the loyal reader.  And the consensus is: television is hurting the theaters.  As our story opens, theater bigwigs are gathered in Mike Romanoff's Beverly Hills restaurant trying to figure out how to keep "new" movies - defined as those produced since August 1, 1948 - from making it to TV.  The Sindlinger research organization estimates that movie exhibitors have lost $50,000,000 due to movies being shown on TV, and that to release the post-'48 movies would be "'suicide' for the entire movie industry."

TV Guide, of course, isn't so sure about that.  Yes, it's "probably true" that old movies on TV have had an effect.  But there's also the high price of movie tickets (which in 1961 was $0.69), the increasing number of "boisterous youngsters" turning a trip to the theater "into an unpleasant experience," and that movies just might not be as good as they used to be.  And then there's the "dilemma" for talent guilds (actors, writers, producers, etc.) - on the one hand, they'd love to get the revenues that would come from selling newer movies to TV.  At the same time, they fear the effects on their business if television really is that harmful to the industry, so much so that if the studios decide to sell newer movies to TV, the guilds could strike.  In between are the television stations themselves.  They want the new movies, yes, but they point out that with over 10,000 already available, they can afford to wait for awhile.

Who knows where it will all end?  Well, of course, we do.  As I said at the top, I wonder if they could have imagined it?

Read the rest here.  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Geoff Edwards, R.I.P.

The recent death of game show host Geoff Edwards at 83 reminded me of a very interesting comment I had read.

When Mark Goodson originally pitched Family Feud in 1976, he originally wanted Edwards to host Feud, but it never panned out.  Fast forward to 1988, when CBS had made an order for the first (of two) revivals of Feud (the second revival, in 1999, is now in its 15th season with Steve Harvey hosting).  Once again, Mark Goodson had a host in mind, but it was not the host that made it to final production.

The answer:  This "Broadway" legend was originally planned by Mark Goodson to host the 1988 (CBS) revival of Family Feud, but a contract could not be signed.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Congratulations, Serena!

Those who have read Our Word over this decade will have known for years I took voice from Serena Hill, now The Mrs. Michael LaRoche, and have sung with both Michael and Serena in two choral gigs (2009, Die Jahreszeiten excerpts, 2012, Fauré's Requiem and Mozart's Misse Brevis No. 10 in C Major).

On Monday, the LaRoches announced their newest project, a baby girl, Madeline Randal LaRoche. She was born Monday at 11:48 AM, seven pounds, twelve ounces, and twenty and a half inches tall. Their graduate school said Miss LaRoche has "a head full of dark hair and an incredible sets of lungs!"

Congratulations Serena and Michael!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

They're at it again

The "sexual freedom" fighters of the sexual deviancy lobby believe they have it won, and are using the common leftist propaganda terms to advance their cause.  Now this disturbing piece of news came across my wires this week.

A man who claims to be a "woman" after "gender reassignment surgery" has now sued CrossFit and The CrossFit Games for $2.5 million and the right for this natural male to compete in the events held at the StubHub Center, in the women's category.

A women read this news and had this to say about the absurd lawsuit"
Would I want to go into a women's locker room with a woman who has a (male sexual organ)? No. That would be out of line. (H)e chose to change h(is) body, CrossFit is trying to be respectful. I'm sorry, my personal opinion here is if you want to make a change in your life you gotta accept the consequences. Don't blame CrossFit for your decisions.

The disturbing point about this lawsuit was following domination by the Soviet-era Press Sisters in Athletics events at the 1960 and 1964 Olympics, the IAAF imposed gender verification tests for the 1966 European Championships after concerns by national officials some East Bloc women participating in events were actually men.  This issue began as early as the 1930's, when US Olympic Committee president Avery Brundage asked for tests after suspicious performances in 1932 and 1936.  The Atlanta Olympics was the last time such tests were mandated, though the IAAF can (and has) request one if suspicion arises (and there has been in 2006). After Atlanta, there has been a push by the sexual deviancy lobby to outlaws the sex tests, which happened in time for the next IAAF European Championships.

The organisation that conducts the CrossFit Games is based in Carson, California, and the this questionable athlete is using the legal system and Attorney General Kamala Harris, whose strategy brought down voter-approved Proposition 8, to apply the state's nondiscrimination laws to force this competitor into the CrossFit Games as a woman.  If the courts treat this man the same way as the sexual deviants have favourable judges to play favourites to claim "you can't put a check on us" by overturning state constitutional amendments, we clearly have a judiciary that, in the words of the Heritage Foundation, is "playing favourites".  It would make no sense for a man to be competing in a women's competition.   

Monday, March 24, 2014

Retro TV Monday - This week in TV Guide, March 25, 1961

It's possible you might be getting just a bit tired of 1961, since we've spent most of March there. To tell the truth, regardless of my affinity for the year I'm getting a bit tired of it as well. However, you deal with what you have, and for some reason March was never one of the big months in my collection.  Therefore, we're back to '61 one more time!

Unfortunately, in many respects this week's issue looks a lot like last week's.  NBC telecasts the NIT championship from Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon (Providence defeats Saint Louis 62-59), Channel 11 covers the championship of the Minnesota State High School basketball tournament Saturday night, and on Palm Sunday evening Hallmark Hall of Fame presents James Daly in "Give Us Barabbas."  Armstrong Circle Theatre is on both weeks, and Paul Hartman, subject of a feature story last week, is a featured player this week in NBC's Bell Telephone Hour on Friday night.

Don't despair, though - there are certainly enough differences for us to be able to squeeze something interesting out of this week.

Read the rest here.  

Friday, March 21, 2014

The prodigal and the pope

Last Friday, you may recall, I compared the current state of the Catholic Church to that of a family without a father, or at least without one taking responsibility for keeping the family together. I was reminded of this reading through the Catholic blogosphere at the various sniping going back and forth between those who praise the pope and those who criticize him, and between traditionalists at odds with the pope and traditionalists who refuse to offer public criticism. Once again, as is so often the case, you can't follow these various disagreements without also appreciating that the future of your very soul seems to be at stake if you don't agree with someone who used to be your ally but now may be your enemy.  I'm tempted to think of the Church today as a group of teen-aged girls bickering back and forth, with each insult raising the stakes until the whole thing goes nuclear.

On the other hand, maybe it's more appropriate, in light of what I wrote last week, to compare it to one of those dysfunctional family dramas that every Lifetime program seems to contain, where everyone's sitting around the table at Thanksgiving or Christmas, pretending to get along, until someone recalls a long-ago insult, and before you know it everyone's at everyone else's throats.  That is the state of the Catholic Church today, and the problem is that there's no father sitting at the head of the table who finally stands up and tells everyone to shut the hell up.

Anyway, a friend of mine suggested that I should consider the parable of the Prodigal Son, and that those of us concerned about the future of the Church should not emulate the "other" son, the one who had remained loyal to the father, but instead turn away from bitterness toward both the pope and those, who haven't always (ever?) practiced perfect Catholicism, to whom he seeks to reach out.

Unfortunately, before I got to ponder this too closely I ran across today's Bleat by one of my favorite writers, James Lileks.  Lileks, for a completely different reason, was also pondering this parable, one of the most famous in the Bible, and while he makes some very humorous points (as he is wont to do), he also, quite seriously, voices the same reservations toward that parable that I have, ones that ultimately make it impossible for me to apply it to the current situation.  It's long, but worth it.

I have to tell you: I get it. But I do not. Yes yes happiness at the return of the one who was thought DEAD, rejoicing at the return to the fold. But the other brother has a point. The pastor explained that the Other Brother did not understand that his father loved him entirely and gave to him everything without condition, at which point I wanted to raise my hand:

Excuse me, rewind that to the point where the son says he never even got a goat to cook when his friends came over, and now you’re giving him the fatted calf?

Because that seems to be a salient point, and suggests a backstory wherein the favored son was indulged, and the dutiful son was held to a higher standard because Dad off-loaded his manliness lessons on the one who wasn’t going anywhere, and needed to toughen up. Golden Boy gets his talents and heads off to the big city to dip his wick and play knuckle-bone gambling games, but the dull son has to stay behind and run the barn. Dull son has his father’s managerial instincts, but his father does not value them as much as he prizes Golden Boy, who represents high-cultural attributes. As the favored son succeeds, so is the father enobled.

So Golden Boy goes off, and time passes, and Dad hears nothing. Assumes the worst. Then one day the son returns, and says in his abject humiliation that he blew all his money on hookers and drink. Dad doesn’t care because he’s glad to see his son again. I get that. I do not get why the dutiful son is the bad guy in this story. He’s making a good point: forgiveness is a noble act, but absolution without consequences is an insult to ME, THE GUY WHO’S BEEN RUNNING THE BARNS. I know, I know, judge not lest ye be judged, but what the hey, judge me, pop. Did I vanish one day with a bag of talents and never write and squander it all? No? Let’s start with that, then. My brother goes to Babylon and gets hammered every night on your dime and we’re having calf for dinner, but I bust my butt every day to make sure the flax gets in the granary and off to market and I don’t get a goat when my friends drop in once a year.

It’s the day after the celebratory banquet I’d like to visit.

Golden Boy to Dutiful Son: I imagine you’re a bit . . . put out.

Dutiful son: Don’t. Even. Start.

Golden Boy: honest, I was fully prepared to work as a slave. I was positively famished.

Dutiful Son: hand me the scythe. No, not that, that. By the grinding stone.

Golden Boy: Father said we should talk.

DS: I think he said it all last night. I suppose you’ll be calling on Sarah once word gets around you’re back.

GB: Oh dear Sarah, I hadn’t thought. How is she? You were sweet on her. I’d have thought you’d have -

DS: She was taken with the fits when you left and would see no one. Her family had her married to Mordechai the money-changer.

GB: That old sot? Sink me. Well, she doesn’t lack for anything, I’m sure.

DS: Nay, nothing but the love of a good man, but what’s that when you’ve pails of myrrh? I’d advise you stay clear.

GB: Is she still comely?

DS: (gritting teeth) Aye.

GB: Perhaps I shall enjoy being home again. You know I do recommend a stint as a slave, it really does give one a new perspective. One gets positively morose.

DS: (whirls around, face aflame) And I imagine that all the rest of the men felt a great pity for you, being the son of a rich man like them, each of you wondering when you’d finally swallow your pride and go home, am I right? Or did they not have the possibility? I can’t imagine you hid your story under a basket. I imagine you left because you heard them discussing which one would have the honor of slitting your throat while you slept.

GB: (sniffs) I got along quite well. They wanted for amusement and I would like to think I provided it.

DS: Oh I am certain that you did, brother, I am certain that you did. So why have you come to the barn?

GB: Father says I am to count the cows. He says that is my duty from now on. Every morn.

DB: There are thirty-two cows. Would you like to know their names?

GB: You name our cows? That’s precious.

DB: Our cows, he says.

GB: I didn’t catch that, brother.

DB: I said they’re our cows, are they.

GB: Well, yes. Ten for you, ten for father, ten for me. Tell me, what do they fetch in the market?

DB: You won’t be -

GB: If they’re all our cows, brother, then some of them are my cows. Oh, don’t look like that. You’ll still have yours. (looks at the ground) (looks up grinning) Sarah had a sister, didn’t she? Young thing when I left but time doth ripen the fruit in its wondrous ways.

DB: Amaranth.

GB: Oh, yes. That was her name.

DB: No.

GB: I’m sorry?

DB: Amaranth is the cow in the far stall there. You might want to visit her and give thanks.

GB: A cow. And why would I wish to do that?

DB: Because you ate her child last night. For your feast. Because all were happy that you had returned. Save one.

GB: Dear brother. Don’t tell me you hold a grudge,

DB: I don’t. It’s not a thing that does a man well. (glares) But if you have an apology in you, tell it to the beast. They listen. They hear much. You’d be glad to know they tell naught.

And therein lies the crux of the matter, for if we're gong to apply the parable as my friend suggests, we have to accept that the joy shown to the Prodigal (the "Golden Boy," if you will) is still different from that enjoyed by the Dutiful Son over all these years.

But what if the Dutiful Son has always felt like the red-headed stepchild, taken for granted, unappreciated?  As Tommy Smothers would say to Dick, "mom always liked you best!"  Under those circumstances, it could almost seem as if the father had wished it was the Dutiful Son, and not the Golden Boy, who had left home early.

See how family dynamics like this play out?  It is a soap opera!  But families often are, and without a strong, fair, impartial patriarch at the head, things can get ugly.  To view the pope as the father looking for the prodigal, the shepherd searching for the lost sheep, one must imply that the Dutiful Son is being nothing more than jealous and petulant, resenting the attention suddenly lavished on the lost sheep return home.  And that, I would contend, is not the situation facing the Church today.

True, over the time of Pope Benedict there was a sense that those who had kept the tradition of the Faith alive over the years had finally gained the upper hand (the "Cafeteria is Closed" crowd), but even then there were complaints that things didn't go far enough, that Benedict hadn't fully integrated the traditionalists back into the Church mainstream.  And though the pontificate of John Paul II was an enormous improvement over that of the disastrous Paul, you still get this feeling that, if anything, it's the traditionalists in the role of the Prodigal, seeking to be welcomed back into a Church that has marginalized them for the better part of the last fifty years or so, excluding them from influence, ridiculing them for holding on to "old-fashioned" values, mocking their desire for Latin and sacred music in the liturgy.  In fact, from many quarters there's been a thinly-concealed (if that) hatred for these people and what they represent.

The only difference in this analogy is that the Prodigal receives no welcome, no fatted calf, nothing but the back of the father's hand.  He's said that he'd be willing even to serve as a slave, and he'll be lucky if the father gives them that much.

Is that how the parable of the Prodigal Son plays out in the Catholic Church today?  If not, it's up to this pope to demonstrate in his actions and in his words that he's not that kind of a father.  Because, frankly, in a situation like this foster fathers are hard to come by. 

Top Gear remembers Ayrton Senna

This is a bit of a change of pace, I know, but the timing is right. Today would have been the 54th birthday of Ayrton Senna, arguably the greatest Grand Prix driver ever. Senna was killed in an accident during the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994; already a legend, what kept Senna from then becoming a myth more than a man was the way he had lived his life, as you'll soon see.

There are many reasons why I ranked Top Gear number one on my Top Ten list, but amidst the wackiness and absurdity and dumb fun, one of the things the show does best is to draw out the romance of cars and the humanity of those who drive them.  Never was that more apparent than in this tribute to Senna from four years ago on the occasion of his 50th birthday.  James May introduces the piece as "a slight change of mood," but even though the show's off-the-wall humor is replaced by an uncommon solemnity, the underlying theme is no different than it has been on so many occasions.

There is something magical about the automobile - always has been.  And when someone drives a car, as Senna did, doing things that few people had ever seen done before, then we take note that this is a special person.  It is right that we should honor people like that, for their accomplishments, for doing things that we would like to do but can't, for doing what we might not have even considered possible.  He was human, as we all are, oftentimes for better and occasionally for worse, and we remember him for his extraordinary humanity.  But when he got behind that wheel, Ayrton Senna ceased to be human; he was a visible representation of a gift that had been given to him and which he sought to make the most of, and in doing so he guaranteed that we would never forget him.

So here's Top Gear's remembrance of Ayrton Senna, which says much about both the man and the program.

This piece originally appeared at It's About TV!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Classic phrases on the radio

The greatness of radio broadcasts in sports in the past is how crucial plays led to timeless phrases heard for many occasions, whether it's the catbird's seat, or the stories Vin Scully can form after being sent information from information staffers, or crucial plays that led to phrases that are forever etched in sport.

During Saturday's first game of a doubleheader in the Southeastern Conference, South Carolina radio broadcaster Andy Demetra went to one of those baseball greats in calling a crucial game-tying home run. As the game-tying home run went sailing, considering what had happened earlier in the series and why the player who hit the shot had been relegated to his duties of hitting at this point, you could have been somewhere else when listening to the radio.

You could almost sense one of the greatest home runs in baseball, over a quarter century ago, all over again when listening to the radio, down to the phrase that made it feel that way.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Retro TV Monday - This week in TV Guide: March 23, 1968

We are, in a sense, revisiting this week's issue, having used it once before in last year's discussion on the content of Saturday morning children's programming.*  And that was an interesting topic, but by no means does it exhaust the material at hand.

*I just love it when I link to myself.  Because, as they say, if you won't do it, nobody else will.


One of the great controversies of the 1950s surrounded Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth's sister, and her romance with the divorced Group Captain Peter Townsend.  A marriage between the two was vetoed by the Church of England, which at the time forbade divorce and remarriage (head of the church: Queen Elizabeth), and in 1960 she married the photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, who upon marriage became Earl of Snowdon.  Tonight, CBS Reports presents "Don't Count the Candles," a photographic essay by Lord Snowdon on aging.  In addition to pictures depicting ordinary people dealing with various aspects of getting older, there are interviews with people at both ends of the aging spectrum, from Twiggy to Noel Coward to Field Marshal Montgomery.

For her part, Margaret turned out to be the black sheep of the royal family, having scandalous love affairs, saying outrageous things, and in general embarrassing the rest of the family at every opportunity.  My mother always thought Margaret did those things on purpose, and while I don't know whether or not there's any empirical data proving this, it doesn't require an advanced degree in psychology to suggest that Maggie was getting back at Liz for what happened with Townsend.  The only thing that could have made this story better was if the stymied Group Captain went on to become a rebellious rock musician, but such was not the case.

Eventually, Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon divorce (a delightful line from the always-reliable Wikipedia notes that their marriage was "accompanied by drugs, alcohol, and bizarre behaviour by both parties such as Snowdon's leaving lists between the pages of books the princess read for her to find, of 'things I hate about you'"); Snowden goes on to marry (and divorce) the former wife of film director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, while Margaret never remarries, but carries on a, shall we say, colorful life.

As was the case with the Ingrid Bergman story last week, what we see here (albeit in a far more tangential way, since Margaret is mentioned nowhere in the listing*) is more evidence of how perspectives on marriage have changed over the years.  It was one thing for Margaret, not even the heir to the throne, to scandalize Church and Country by marrying a divorced man; it is, apparently, something else that the current heir is, in fact, married to a divorced woman with whom he apparently conducted an affair while married to his former wife.  Again, no judgement here, merely observation.

*But if you insist on a television link, the subject of Margaret's later relationship with Roddy Llewellyn was once brief fodder for an episode of We Interrupt This Week, a show I looked at a couple of days ago.

Read the rest here.  

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Fatherless Church

From time to time I’ve had occasion to talk with friends about what life was like in our families while growing up.  I myself grew up without a father, my parents having gone their separate ways prior to my birth, but that is not quite the same thing as having a father who shirked his responsibility, which is the case with several of my friends.

The culprits were the usual ones, booze being at the top of the list.  And so while the father was around, his presence was almost spectral; there but not there.  Depending on the strength of the mother, the family was held together with varying degrees of success, but what remained the same in all cases was that a spectral father left a void every bit as gaping as having no father at all.  The children managed, for the most part, adapting to their circumstances (as children often will), and with few exceptions they turned out to be stellar adults, though they also bore the wounds of childhood.  But one thing that they almost all agreed on was that something was lacking, that even though they managed without an active dad, there were some gaps that could not be filled, some absences for which there was no compensation.  And almost all of them were filled with regret, to one extent or another, at the things they missed, the memories that never were, the guidance that should have been but wasn’t.  Life may have turned out exceedingly well for them, but it was still incomplete.  In the drama that was their lives, there was a role that had been cast, but had not been filled. There was something missing.

Which brings me to the state of the Catholic Church today.

We’ve just passed the first anniversary of the election of the current pope, and it’s a fair assessment that he’s thrilled some, angered others, and confused many.  Depending on who one talks to, he’s either Machiavellian in his cleverness, Christ-like in his gentleness, or Ted Baxter-ish in his cluelessness.  Even now I’m not sure which of the three he is, though I haven’t ruled out the possibility of them all being valid.

As I’ve written before, I would not consider myself to be a “fan” of this pope.  I’ve ceased reading much about him, for the choices often seem to be either fawning obsequiousness or slanderous contempt; either one would be enough to make my blood pressure rise.  In the event, I try to avoid much about him whenever possible, lest I expose some latent, simmering rage.  I still avert my eyes whenever his picture scrolls into view - again, an effort to avoid a proximate cause of sin.  (Like many, I found something disturbing about his initial appearance on the balcony, a feeling which remains with me still.)  As you may have noticed, it’s still an effort for me to even use his name – an effort I generally don’t try to mount.  It would be very wrong to think that I hate him; that's too personal a feeling for me to have toward him.  Indifference, however, can be just as damning.

A commenter at another blog mentioned that after a year he still mourned the end of Benedict’s pontificate.  “Mourned” seems a strong word to me, not the kind of word I generally use, but also it doesn’t quite summarize my attitude.  It’s too gentle, too sentimental.  Were I to select a word of my own, it would perhaps be “bitter.”*

*Putting me in mind of one of my favorite poems, Stephen Crane’s “In the Desert”:
In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.

I said, “Is it good, friend?”
“It is bitter—bitter,” he answered;
"But I like it
“Because it is bitter,
“And because it is my heart.”

The origin of bitterness, if such exists, is because in converting to the Catholic faith it sometimes seems as if, in Whittaker Chambers’ words, I’ve joined the losing side.  What makes this more frustrating is that this side – the Church – has all the correct answers.  What it lacks is someone to articulate them.

Someone has pointed out that prior to last year’s Conclave, it would have been inconceivable to suggest that it “didn’t matter” who the pope was.  Yet for many Catholics, it seems that this is exactly what is called for today.  And when the best way to avoid anger is to ignore the pope and what he says, that’s not a good thing.  It’s true that the faith of the Church is constant and unchanging – the truth, after all, is the truth – and in that sense it’s also true that when the tracks run straight and true, it isn’t that important who the engineer is.  But the pope also has a role with regard to the faithful – to care for their souls, to instruct them, to correct them when necessary, to lead them.  Just as the father is head of the family, the pope is head of the Church’s family.  And what we have today is a fatherless Church.

It operates; Mass is said, confessions are heard, souls are saved, the Eucharist is received.  The Catechism spells out exactly what the Church believes, and why.  It functions, as the fatherless households of my friends functioned.  But there is something missing.

Think of the paternal figure teaching a young boy how to be a man.  There is the wise comforter wiping tears from a daughter's eyes.  There is the husband who is the rock of the family, who helps out when help is requested - and, even as important, when it isn't.  This is what the father provides a family, what my friends were unable to experience.

Think of the tireless advocate for the unborn who hears from her pontiff that she may be "obsessed" with single issues.  Think of the defender of the Church's teachings who feels dismissed with not even a how-do-you-do to show for it, while his pontiff lavishes attention on those who don't even seek it.  Think of the believer of tradition, the unbroken line of some two thousand years that unites the Church militant to the Church triumphant, only to see those beliefs under attack, while the pontiff scarcely raises his voice.  Abortion.  Euthenasia.  Homosexual marriage.  The authority of the Magisterium.  Precisely the kinds of things that a father stands up for within his own family.



I'm reminded of another poem*, this one by T.S. Eliot, an Anglican who likely would have converted to Catholicism had he lived to see the meaninglessness into which his church has descended, a meaninglessness of doctrine, a lack of teaching, a foundation that looks like nothing more sound than quicksand.

*I don't mean to turn this into Poetry Corner, by the way.

According to the always-reliable Wikipedia,  "The Hollow Men" deals with post-World War I Europe under the Treaty of Versailles, the difficulty of hope and religious conversion, and possibly his own failed marriage.
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass<
In our dry cellar
The Bishop of Rome assures us that he is a loyal "son of the Church."  A son, of course, suggests a father, and I've no doubt that the pope draws great strength and comfort from his Heavenly Father; but he must also know the importance of an earthly father.  After all, Christ's earthly father, St. Joseph, is the protector of the Church.

It is time for the Holy Father to be an earthly father to that Church.  Let's not forget how "The Hollow Man" closes, with one of the most famous stanzas in literature, lines that even those who don't read poetry are likely familiar with:
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
Today we are The Fatherless Church, and though we continue to function it is often without a hand on the tiller, and even if we keep on course we are acutely aware of what we are missing.  We are The Fatherless Church, and we fear that we're being led by Hollow Men, headpieces filled with straw. We wonder when the father will start to act like a father, to fill the gap that only he is capable of filling - indeed, which he has been charged with filling.

Will it be too late?  Or will it all end, not with the banging of the doors of nearly empty churches, but with whimpering from their nearly empty pews?  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Checks and balances

One part of the American judicial system's signature calling cards is the checks and balances system.  Sadly, the judges are too arrogant today and believe nobody can put a check on them.

When sexual deviancy groups began to flaunt "sexual freedom trumps religious freedom," as Administration official Chai Feldblum has publicly mentioned, the rules changed.  Courts began forcing homsexual activism of all colours, and in states, legislatures began placing checks on the courts, stating believers have a right to religious freedom.  After hours of bullying on CNN, MSNBC, and every mainstream popular culture outlet, Governess Brewer vetoed common sense tightening of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

And unfortunately, popular culture is wrong.  Suppose a local Bible publisher is told by a sexual deviancy organisation to print flyers for a "pride" rally that features child pornography (which is against the law) on the flyer to promote the grotesque sin peddling event.  The publisher refuses, and the deviants sue the publisher.  With Miss Feldblum's singular chant of "sexual freedom trumps religious freedom," the courts could, especially with this Administration's notorious court-packing that FDR could only imagine he had with the Reid Rules, declare the law against child pornography illegal and force the publisher to print the illegal pornography, similar to companies fined for refusing to serve sin-peddling events of their convictions.

Suppose a photographer refuses to photograph a "pride" event with X-rated acts I cannot mention in a family-friendly commentary.  He says it is because of his high standards and decency.  However, the organisation sues, again trumping the sexual freedom card.  That is our problem with rogues, and a reason why that Arizona bill should have been signed.

If we replace our Freedom of Speech, Press, and Religion with Sexual Freedom and Government intrusion into everything else, we have a Communist government that is dictating humanism as the state religion.  Our Founding Fathers would be very angry with us as one group of roughly 12-15%, those of no faith, control the nation and forces everyone to cave to their standards.  Keep in mind that group gave us the current Administration, as their 3:1 easily beat the 5:6 Catholics and Protestants had against this Administration in the 2012 elections.  Furthermore, the teachings in schools and in popular culture promote the propaganda of such humanists today.

How can we have a checks and balances system if rogue judges cannot be checked?   

Monday, March 10, 2014

Retro TV Monday - This week in TV Guide: March 18, 1961

Perhaps no star demonstrates the change in popular culture over the last 60 or so years more than Ingrid Bergman.

In 1950 there were fewer stars bigger than Bergman, who had appeared in a string of hits including Intermezzo, Casablanca, Joan of Arc and The Bells of St. Mary's, and had won an Academy Award as Best Actress for Gaslight.  She then became involved in a scandal - an affair with director Roberto Rossellini (they were both married to other people at the time) which left her pregnant, and her reputation in tatters.  Her adultery got her denounced on the floor of the U.S. Senate (as "a horrible example of womanhood") and disinvited from The Ed Sullivan Show, and she remained in something of an exile even after winning her second Oscar in 1958 for Anastasia.  It wasn't until 1958, when she made a triumphant appearance as a presenter at the Oscarcast, that she returned to the American spotlight, and even then the lengthy ovation she received from the audience was controversial - some felt it amounted to a tacit endorsement of her past behavior.

This week, Bergman prepares for a rare television appearance, in the drama Twenty-Four Hours in a Woman's Life* on CBS Monday night.  Gilbert Millstein's profile only alludes to that scandal, remarking that "in the last two decades, she has been successively praised, blamed, boycotted, picked over, analyzed, adjured, sympathized with, litigated over and clasped once more to the public breast without any noticeable erosion." Bergman herself says that "Everybody feels that you belong to them.  I would have liked to have my own problems in peace, but it was not to be and I could not change any of it."  Having played a nun in The Bells of St. Mary's and a saint in Joan of Arc led people to view her not as a woman, but through the prism of the roles she played.

*Written by John Mortimer, better known as the creator of Rumpole of the Bailey.

And that is just one of the ways in which we see the massive cultural changes over these years.  It's hard to imagine, for example, that the public, cynical as they now are, would feel so betrayed by an actress' personal life.  For that matter, adultery itself doesn't have the cache it used to, Tiger Woods notwithstanding.  The old saying, "there's no such thing as bad publicity" seems to be more true now than ever. Hugh Grant's indiscretion a few years ago was played mostly for laughs, and probably helped Jay Leno's career more than anything else.  With the advent of reality television to go along with the fanmags, embarrassment and public ostracism are things of the past.

The fallout over Ingrid Bergman's scandal was probably excessive (didn't the Senate have anything better to do?) but it came from a period in time when there was a common moral code, a sense of right and wrong that was generally accepted by a majority of the public.  If people lacked charity in their reaction, it could be said that their hearts might have been in the right place.

Ultimately, though, it's time to live and let live.  Ingrid Bergman, her elegance and her talent, are back - and we're the more fortunate for it.

Read the rest here. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

On Governess Brewer's Veto: Wrong for Arizona, and The Dangers of Deviancy Actions

The recent veto of toughening the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Arizona by Governess Brewer (see picture at left) was very disturbing.  The Family Research Council called it one of the dirtiest wars in liberalism, where the press used its powers to distort the bill.  Freedom of the press, built on religious liberty, has been destroyed because speech control, part of this Administration's accomplishments in the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Act, took place in the advancement of propaganda against it.

One disturbing phrase I have read in recent debates between the Biblical and Humanist Worldview was made by a law professor working now with the Obama Administration, Chai Feldblum, who has publicly said “sexual freedom trumps religious freedom.” Now let's take the worldview of the Left to its full extent regarding this bill, and ask yourself what you would do in light of what has happened in other states that led to Arizona legislators proposing this bill.

Suppose a printer, a devout Southern Baptist, has a printing company, and the company actively is printing Bibles for various churches in the community (most likely a Public Domain version, not one of the numerous copyrighted versions that have appeared in the late 20th century to the present), church order of worship, newsletters for various churches in their community, and flyers for various speakers that come to churches.  Then, there comes a sexual deviancy activism group attempting to bring their “flock of lions” rally (if you remember the nickname of a minor league hockey team and the nasty rivalries in a Southern state in the late 1990's to early 2000's, you will understand the reference – the rivalry was downright nasty at times – the older of the two clubs still exists today and is Boston's AA affiliate today with the team president being a player during that era, and I'll never forget a road game I traveled that went into overtime in the playoffs and the reaction hotter than any football rivalry at the time) to the city, and they ask the printer to print flyers for the event.  The printer inspects the flyer and notes both child pornography other explicit material being featured in the file he was sent, and refuses to print such.

Now that's the issue in question.  None of the major professional sports federations that offer authentic and replica jerseys will permit customised jerseys to feature X-rated custom text.  And a business has a right to refuse printing indecent material if they refuse.  The sign outside the shop specifically says “We reserve the right to refuse printing explicit material or if it is against the law.”

But the deviancy activists sue, demanding the printer print the material.  Their claim, as would be made in the courts, is “Sexual freedom trumps religious freedom, and there are no religious exemptions, as Administration officials have stated.”

Seriously, folks, that is the issue.  Does a Bible publisher have a right to deny a sexual deviancy organisation the right to print child pornography on their printing presses?  Even though child pornography is against the law (and duly so), we know that activists will press to declare even that ban to be illegal and will use courts to advance their cause.  The deviants will almost certainly use the “sexual freedom” chant to force their agenda, and with numerous court victories, will work on their wins against Christians to advance their cause.  And in many states where marriage was redefined by courts or city-state dominated state legislators, the first line attacked is always churches and their related organisations, as we have seen with Catholic Charities and with other groups with adoption and foster care agencies.  At a recent Citizens for Life event, a former Massachusetts resident informed me that after court-ordered redefinition, they pushed sexual deviant couples to the top of the adoption and foster care line, and Bible believers were sent to the end of the line, which effectively allows for deviants to run rampant and perform child abuse on the children they exploit by adopting or caring that they cannot be prosecuted because of “sexual freedom,” as they demand.

It is religious freedom, and this type of issue, that the ill-fated Arizona bill that should have been signed, except for the massive CNN and MSNBC propaganda push that had the tell-tale signs of the CCCP, was designed to protect the Bible publisher from having to print X-rated material they refuse to print.  People need to wake up and understand how sexual deviancy activists are stopping to advance their cause, and prosecuting anyone whose worldview opposes theirs is the signature of the New Tolerance:  Accept Our Worldview Or Be Prosecuted, endorsed by Dear Leader via the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Act and his minions of supporters, especially those of no faith that put him over the top.  And thanks to humanist teachings in schools, that group is sadly growing.  What gives for this New Taipei City native whose formative years was spent in parochial schools teaching a Biblical worldview?  Am I headed to jail for refusing to cave to humanism?

Those of us who believe in God's Word should not be treated, as Dear Leader and his minions demand, as teams that play on Al Jazeera instead of being on NBC in the English football pyramid.   

Thursday, March 6, 2014

US-USSR hockey, 1960 Winter Olympics

A little late perhaps, but I just ran across this footage today: CBS' coverage of the first period of the US - USSR hockey game at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, CA, with - I believe - Bud Palmer at the mic for the play-by-play.  (There are several versions available; this one appears to be the complete game.)

A few observations: first, Bud Palmer isn't exactly an unbiased announcer, is he?  But I always enjoyed listening to his work.

As was the case with the 1980 Miracle on Ice, this isn't the gold medal game; the medals were decided based on the overall record of the teams in the medal round.  The US finished with a perfect 5-0 record in that round, followed by Canada at 4-1, and the Soviet Union at 2-2-1.  The US actually clinched the gold with their 9-4 victory over Czechoslovakia the next day.  (By the way, the corners on the ice surface are really deep, aren't they?  It makes the rink look almost rectangular.)

And did you notice the sunshine streaming across parts of the ice and the crowd?  Olympic regulations of the time required all events to be held outside (or, more precisely, they couldn't be held "under a roof"); thus, Blyth Arena  was constructed with one complete side open (the one facing the camera).  The Olympic rings were attached via cables, and ropes were hung down in an effort to cut down on the sun's glare on the ice.  I don't know how you all feel about it, but I think it's kind of neat.  And with the success of the NHL's Winter Classic, why not have all the skating events outside?  The arena in Cortina for the 1956 games did this to great effect.*

*Not to mention it's appearance in the James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only.

Al Michaels, eat your heart out!  

Cross-posted at It's About TV!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Retro TV Monday - This week in TV Guide: March 4, 1961

Raymond Burr was on the cover of TV Guide at least a dozen times, between Perry Mason and Ironside, not to mention his turn as Pope John XXIII.  There's very little new to be written about him, and we know that much of what we've already read will turn out not to be true.  There are a couple of things that remain consistent through all these stories, however: that Ray Burr is a very private man, and that he's a mensch to work with.

Richard Gehman's profile of Burr this week alludes to his life as "one long series of heartbreaking tragedies," most of which didn't actually happen, but there's a significant line in this section, in which Gehman remarks that "few of Burr's friends know anything about him."  It's likely that, in retrospect, what they did know of him might not have been so.  Lest you think I'm hammering Burr, I'm not, or at least I don't mean to.  It is, however, impossible to write about him without picking up these small pieces, which appear in so many articles about him, and contrast them with what we've since learned about him.

Raymond Burr is one of my favorite actors, just as Perry Mason remains one of my favorite series.  And the comments from Burr's colleagues on Mason demonstrate why he was so well-liked on the set.  He's a practical joker, for one thing, his favorite victim being Barbara Hale, who plays Mason's devoted secretary Della Street.  He's good to the crew, with "a desire for everybody to be happy, to be wanted and to belong," leading one person to refer to the Mason set as "the happiest company in Hollywood."

He's also loyal, and not afraid to fight for what he believes in.  When William Talman, who plays Mason's nemesis Hamilton Burger, was suspended from the show following a morals charge (later dismissed), Burr was outraged and fought CBS constantly until Talman was reinstated.  And Ray Collins, who plays Lt. Arthur Tragg, remained listed on the opening credits even after his health prevented him from appearing on the show.  This was, of course, also at Burr's "request."

This article is the first of a three-part series on Burr's life; subsequent parts will go into detail on the more dubious assertions about Burr's past.  In later years, articles will elaborate on these events, but they'll also discuss Burr's devotion to visiting American troops in battle areas, and his continuing commitment to his colleagues. A mensch indeed.

Read the rest here.
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