Friday, December 30, 2011

Usher us out, the whipped and the feckless


Beauty: Unhip, unhappening, un-now, un-Catholic?

The Catholic Church is under assault from the brownshirts of the Movement for Deracinated Sexuality and its Vichy government in Washington.

Our bishops decry the fiscal destruction of Catholic social services and health care by bureaucrats who insist, in the name of equality, that the church give its blessing to what it theologically and morally cannot. They fret that Catholics are being pressured not only to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, but render what is God's, too.

We all talk about Jesus' command to "take up your cross and follow me," but we all hate it when our turn comes. They killed Him. On His account, they'll kill us, too, given the chance. On to Calvary.

But what really irks me is not that secularists resort to persecution in the name of liberty. That's their nature, like it is the nature of dogs to eat their own vomit.

No, what irks me is that my church -- through its sins and sins of omission -- has made it so damned easy for the devil. Half of those aggrieved bishops have been asleep at the switch, it seems; the other half have been tearing up the track, and now everyone is shocked,
shocked the train's come undone.

There's the lack of catechesis, which is a fancy way of saying we haven't passed the faith down to our young for the better part of half a century now. And, of course, there's the Catholic sex-abuse scandal.
That's a fancy way of saying Satan is running amok in the sanctuary.

THEN THERE'S the Catholic War on Beauty, waged mercilessly by the liturgical betters of the schmucks in the pews, since the first day in 1964 that somebody handed a guitar to a coffeehouse-washout folk singer and said "Go do Mass. And be relevant."

Being "relevant," of course, means "Ignore the accumulated wisdom and beauty of the ages, compiled through the blood, sweat, tears and prayers of the communion of saints." Sometime around 1964, I imagine, that prototypical anti-Dylan first decided "Kumbaya" would be really cool to sing at Mass.

It had to have been like letting the Ebola virus loose at a preschool. A mere couple of decades later, we had whole Masses written by Marty Haugen. My God, Harry Truman just dropped The Bomb on beauty.

On transcendence.

On our ability to . . . check that . . . on our
desire to look upon the face of God.

Looking upon our own deformed visages in sanctified self-worship is so much more satisfying to us now. Which explains the implicit arrogance of "Gather Us In."

But it's worse than that.

For instance, one has to wonder whether the Haugenification of the Catholic Church is manifestation or, to some degree, causation. It's the whole chicken-or-the-egg question: Did our abandonment of holiness and responsibility lead to the godlessness that spawns ugliness and banality, or did our utilitarian embrace of ugliness and banality in the name of "relevance" render us unable to see God?

How does one "see" God, after all, this side of heaven? One sees God in beauty . . . which we Catholics largely have abandoned in the name of utility. That and liturgical lounge lizards.

Maybe it's a moot question now. Maybe what we have here is a feedback loop of mundane wretchedness, both artistic and spiritual. Not to mention moral and behavioral, as in the case of The Scandals.

Whatever the case -- and this gets me back to where we began -- the church now is under attack from a hostile culture and government because we succeeded in losing the culture, something which never is won in the first place so much by argument as it is through aesthetics and witness. Beauty can bypass the brain and its defenses to conquer the soul, and American Catholicism thus has unilaterally disarmed.

And our culture now belongs to the barbarians.

On the bright side, though, martyrdom historically has been an effective witness, too. So there's always hope.

Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow


Posting has been light on the blog this week as we perform transmitter maintenance and eat Christmas cookies.

Maybe have a highball or three while we're at it.

And play old jazz records.

Regular programming will resume when I can figure out something sane (and perhaps interesting) to say about the insanity surrounding us. But right now, transmitter maintenance seems a lot more appealing to me.


That and Christmas cookies.

And a highball or three.

Not to mention old jazz records.

Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Because you can't make this $*!# up


October 2010: Conservative nerds air their dirty romantic laundry during a panel discussion on C-SPAN.


JANUARY 2011: Science nerds from The Big Bang Theory air their dirty romantic laundry during a panel discussion on CBS.

Sorry about the tardiness of this observation. The real-life nerds, I remembered from a year ago; The Big Bang Theory, I've only recently gotten into.

Let's just say that when I saw this episode, it was a true Bazinga! moment for me.

That is all.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A blessed Christmas

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing,
as they rejoice before you as at the harvest,
as people make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them,
the pole on their shoulder,
and the rod of their taskmaster
you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.
For every boot that tramped in battle,
every cloak rolled in blood,
will be burned as fuel for flames.
For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast
and forever peaceful,
from David's throne, and over his kingdom,
which he confirms and sustains
by judgment and justice,
both now and forever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this!
-- Isaiah 9:1-6

Saturday, December 24, 2011

3 Chords & the Truth: A merry little Christmas


Our Christmas tree is the story of our lives, the missus and me. Yours may well be the same.

There's a little wooden painted-tree ornament over here -- I made that in elementary school more than 40 years ago. And that glass ball over there with the glitter on it -- that's from my wife's childhood Christmas tree.

And there's the big Lucite heart that says
"Love. Christmas 1983." We bought that at Hallmark our first Christmas as a married couple. I cherish that ornament.

I cherish our tree . . . the annual Yuletide story of our lives, with baubles commemorating five years together -- 1988 -- and first Christmas in our new house, 1989. Ornaments given to us by now-gone parents. Ornaments for now-gone pets. Ornaments made by now-grown children of friends.


EVERY YEAR -- with every added year -- Christmas becomes more wistful. It becomes more about loss, more about what once was instead of what might be. It becomes about remembering and erasing the impenetrable barrier between what was and what is -- who we were and who we are. It lets us bring back those who have gone, if only in our dreams.

Once again as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who were dear to us
Will be near to us once more
Someday soon we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now
THIS WEEK on 3 Chords & the Truth, we celebrate He who has defeated time and death, the celestial king come to earth as a little child, born in a manger long ago in a land far away. We play the songs of our Christmases past as we anticipate its coming once again.

This week, the Big Show is about the songs of our lives, both sacred and playful.

It's Christmastime once again, and we're having a party. Everyone is invited -- past, present or future . . . it doesn't matter. Not this week. Faithful friends who were dear to us will be near to us once more.

As will you.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

And don't forget to try the egg nog and bourbon balls. Yum.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Season's greetings from 1965



Hmmm . . . and now from 1966.


God, I miss the '60s. That is all.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The customer is always irrelevant

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


You see it at the store. You see it at the fast-food joint. You see it when you have to deal with your health-insurance company.

You see it at your workplace. You see it when dealing with bureaucrats. You get a buttload of it trying to get your phone and Internet service turned on. You get it weekly as you pick up your recyclables out of the street after the trash man drops various of them there.

That last one is my constant source of frustration.

It's customer service today. More than that, it's pride in workmanship today -- or lack thereof.


A QUICK-AND-DIRTY answer is that people take no pride in anything today. Another one is that people are lazy and have no respect for anybody today -- or self-respect. The longer answer involves why that is.

Beats me. Part of it, I suspect, is the cult of the Almighty Self, which isn't about self-respect and is about "I matter; you don't." Part of it is about our society's focus on profit over quality. Most of it leaves me scratching my head -- I don't know how the computer-monitor-tossing FedEx man lives with himself.

I really don't.

Of course, my lack of understanding probably doesn't keep him from living with his reprehensible self quite well, thank you very much.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Magic lanterns speak in the night


Fire in a glass jar.

Lightning in a bottle.

The warm glow of magic in a darkened room.

This was radio once -- pictures of the mind riding electromagnetic waves through the ether, through glowing filaments in an airless bottle, out a loudspeaker and into your imagination through your ears.

These pictures are what that looked like . . . and looks like today, 83 years after this Radiola 18 originally took up residence in some 1920s radio household. Now it resides in our radio household, though what comes through the cone loudspeaker in 2011 is hardly as exotic as the offerings of 1928 seemed to entranced citizens of a newly established Radioland.

You've seen pictures like these
before in this space; they were from our other Radiola 18, the console set.


THESE PHOTOS ARE from the table model -- quite a large table model, to be sure -- which rests not on a table top, but instead on a wrought-iron stand that contains the set's large loudspeaker.

As I've said previously, radio once was an art form. Radios were art installations.

Now, radio is decidedly utilitarian, and barely that. But if you look hard enough -- and find something old enough that still works enough -- the art shines forth from a fire in a glass jar.

Lightning in a glass bottle.

The warm glow of magic in a darkened room.

Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

New Orleans, explained


Scanning in some vacation negatives -- yes, I cling to my 35 millimeter film, so sue me -- it occurred to me that one frame I took in New Orleans captures the essence of the Crescent City perfectly.

It's a day in late October. I'm shooting some scenes on St. Charles Avenue by Audubon Park. I come across an egret that's quite fond of jaywalking. And there you have New Orleans, explained.

Huh?


SEE, it's like this, Cap. New Orleans is the kind of city where even an egret, after it's had a couple of cold ones, is absolutely sure it's going to kick an oncoming automobile's ass. Yeah, you right.

Sometimes, this is an excellent quality in a city -- or a bird. Sometimes, not so much.

The key, I reckon, is in knowing when to go for broke, and when to concede that discretion is the better part of valor. I am happy to report that Mr. Egret lived to taunt New Orleans drivers another day.

The boss of us


This house is run with a firm hand, which happens to be a paw.

Molly the Dog is the boss of us, and she knows this. Her pets deny her nothing, especially since the sad passing of Scout the Dog.

It's OK. Molly the Dog is a kind-hearted and benevolent master -- just so long as she gets hugs, is fed on time and gets to lounge in the big, blue chair.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Have yourself a merry Boomer Christmas


It's been a very Baby Boom kind of Christmas around the house the past couple of days.

What with all the holiday sounds of the 1960s and early '70s playing on the old hi-fi, how could it not be?

For example, you got your 1965
Great Songs of Christmas album from your local Goodyear dealer, and then you got Volume II of your 1969 holiday compilation
LP, The Spirit of Christmas . . . exclusive to TG&Y five-and-dime stores.

I MEAN, you got your Steve and Eydie, you got your Anna Maria Alberghetti, you got your Danny Kaye, you got your Percy Faith, you got your Jerry Vale, you got your Robert Goulet and Andy Williams -- and you even got your Maurice Chevalier.

That there is some prime Christmas artistic stylings.

Of course, what's Christmas without A Partridge Family Christmas Card, the No. 1 holiday album of 1971?


Don't judge me.

Especially if you'd like any 8-track tapes in your stocking the morning of Dec. 25.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

'From Hell's heart, I stab at thee!'


It would appear that the inmates who run Congress, that magical asylum where spite meets stupidity, are at it again.

Thus, we see on
MSNBC that we're again facing the prospect of a government shutdown -- just in time for Christmas. Or, as I was telling my wife earlier today, "The Democrats and the Republicans are going to fight to our death."
The holiday spirit seems nowhere near the Capitol Hill this Wednesday evening, with Democrats and Republicans far apart on a deal to fund the government, and extend an expiring payroll tax cut and lapsed unemployment benefits.

Lawmakers were no closer to a deal by the end of the day following a meeting between President Obama and Senate Democratic Leaders at the White House to discuss their strategy going forward. And there was no comment after an early evening meeting between House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Capitol.

Separately, Boehner huddled with his members for more than two hours to plot their options. House Republicans are awaiting action in the Senate on the payroll tax cut bill they passed last night. According to GOP aides, House Republicans weighed whether to move ahead without Democrats on their own, different bill to fund the government after it runs out of money on Friday.

Boehner asserted that the White House and Senate Democrats had made an agreement to fund the government until Democrats reneged.

The White House had decided to link the payroll tax cut to the extension of government funding so as to maintain leverage over Republicans, who could theoretically adjourn the House, and force the Senate, along with the Obama administration, to accept or reject the House-passed legislation.

"It's pretty clear to all of us that President Obama and Senator Reid want to threaten a government shutdown so that they can get leverage on a jobs bill," Boehner told reporters early this evening, accusing Democrats of playing politics on the issue.
ALL DAY, I've been thinking of that original Star Trek episode where these two aliens -- mirror images of one another -- from the same war-torn planet carried on a personal, and mutual, vendetta that mirrored the fatal conflict on their home world.

Back in the mid-1960s, this was a science-fiction allegory to earthly racism and hatred of the Other. Now, to me at least, it looks like a nice summation of the political fix we Americans are in.

We hate us . . . we really hate us.

All the Republicans and all the Democrats, and all the tea partiers and all the "progressive" true believers are hell-bent on fighting to the political death. Hell, maybe the literal one, too.

Unfortunately, it will be our death in a faltering empire lurching from conflict to disaster to catastrophe to ruin.
"To the last, I will grapple with thee... from Hell's heart, I stab at thee! For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee!"
THAT'S from Star Trek, too -- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Khan was quoting from Moby Dick. Somehow, it seems appropriate.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Really? You think? Nahhhhhhhhh.


The man with his finger on the racing pulse of reality TV thinks it's only a matter of time before someone in the genre goes "too far."

Did I just write "before" reality TV goes too far?

Of course, you have to understand that every time our culture goes too far, we have to come up with a new, more "out there" definition of "too far." For the first decade or two of the Television Age, "hell" and "damn" were "too far." And you couldn't say the word "pregnant." It was "family way," darn it!

And Rob and Laura Petrie slept in separate beds.

THESE DAYS, says Today's blog The Clicker, "too far" pretty much is a reality-TV snuff movie. "Too far" is Americans sitting slack-jawed on their couches, shoving their faces full of chips and delighting in a "magnificent violent act."

"People will watch to see if we can find signs of 'did we see that coming?'" said Robert Galinsky, founder of the New York Reality TV School. "'Was I a good enough detective to see the signs that Russell Armstrong was going to take his own life?' 'Did I tap into my inner David Caruso and detect that Kim was faking her wedding?'"

(snip)

Reality is all about the here, and the now -- if it’s done, it's over. So they have to keep pushing the envelope. And with both "Housewives" and "Kourtney & Kim" we’ve been invited to watch the evolution of two of the worst things that can happen to couples -- sudden death and divorce. It's hard to imagine that other reality shows won’t find some way to give us more somewhere down the line.

Galinsky figures we haven’t even gotten close to ultimate reality TV: "The line we cross is when we see something ultra-violent -- domestic violence or the like -- live," he said. "Reality TV still has a filter, yet a questionable one, and we haven’t crossed the threshold yet, but we'll see it soon in the form of a murder, suicide or some other magnificent violent act that will make its way onto the screen."

Waiting for that "magnificent" violence to erupt may be some viewers' idea of a good time. But what we have now, the slow crawl to the inevitable ending we know is coming, doesn’t really feel much like entertainment any more. It’s evolved into something else, something we may not have a word for yet.

I SUPPOSE -- whether or not we actually get to see "snuff TV" -- the mere fact that there is such a thing as the New York Reality TV School is yet another sign that we are the new barbarians. That we stand to push the exhibitionist genre beyond, in its worst permutations, mere casual cruelty and idiocy and into bloodlust and criminal intent, all for our entertainment, is a sign that we may be monsters.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

College in the ruins

Xavier’s mission is to educate. Our essential activity is the interaction of students and faculty in an educational experience characterized by critical thinking and articulate expression with specific attention given to ethical issues and values.

Xavier is a Catholic institution in the Jesuit tradition, an urban university firmly rooted in the principles and conviction of the Judeo-Christian tradition and in the best ideals of American heritage.

Xavier is an educational community dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, to the orderly discussion of issues confronting society; and, as would befit an American institution grounded in the humanities and sciences, Xavier is committed unreservedly to open and free inquiry.

-- Xavier University mission statement

The University of Cincinnati serves the people of Ohio, the nation, and the world as a premier, public, urban research university dedicated to undergraduate, graduate, and professional education, experience-based learning, and research. We are committed to excellence and diversity in our students, faculty, staff, and all of our activities. We provide an inclusive environment where innovation and freedom of intellectual inquiry flourish. Through scholarship, service, partnerships, and leadership, we create opportunity, develop educated and engaged citizens, enhance the economy and enrich our university, city, state and global community.

-- University of Cincinnati mission statement

Friday, December 09, 2011

3 Chords & the Truth: Shellac touchstones


You know what kind of music my parents were buying in 1947? Walter Brown -- "My Baby's Boogie Woogie."


Low-down blues. "Race" music. Along with pop, jump and country twangfests like the Delmore Brothers (above).

"She's got what it takes, make a preacher lay his Bible down," sangeth Mr. Brown. You should hear the flip side -- and you will . . . on this week's edition of 3 Chords & the Truth.

This is a special one, this episode of the Big Show. If you want to know the music of my soul, this will get you pretty close.

If you want to know what was it that made your Mighty Favog the musical creature that he is -- if you want to hear the records I was playing when I was but a lad, just old enough to get into my folks records and operate a record player -- this is it.

This is personal.


THIS WEEK'S 3 Chords & the Truth is who I am. This week's program sounds like the world -- the Deep South -- I was born into a half century ago. It's a sequel to this episode of the Big Show, only I go "there" a lot more this time around.

It was eclectic, the Louisiana . . . the South of my youth. It was seemingly at odds with itself if you didn't look any further than the surface of things. It was also rich beyond measure. So is the show today.

Take Walter Brown, the blues shouter who once sang with Jay McShann's orchestra. In the particular culture I entered into during the spring of 1961, black shouters like him could sit next to white twangers like Ernest Tubb in the record cabinet in the bottom of the old Silvertone . . . even if they couldn't share a seat on a city bus.

And no one thought twice about either peculiarity.

This explains my parents' music-buying habits of 1947, 14 years before I came along and about 18 years before I started raiding their music collection. It also explains the complex and contradictory inner lives of these people -- formed by the Southern society that brought us Louis Armstrong, Hank Williams and Jim Crow -- who could in 1947 buy racy records by blues shouters, then in 1971 yell at me about my expletive-deleted "n***er music."

People who thought Dick Clark was a communist.

Those Wallace and Duke voters.

A couple more of the blackest white people on earth -- as Southern Caucasians surely are -- who may have found it just cause for homicide if you had told them that back in the day.

THE SOUTH: It's a mystery, wrapped in a riddle, tucked away in an enigma and fueled by contradiction. This week, you can look under its hood a little bit
-- its and mine. You won't totally understand either of us at the end of this particular installment of the Big Show . . . but it will be a start.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Meth-cookers of Wal-Mart

Tulsa police arrest a woman for mixing chemicals to make meth inside a south Tulsa Walmart on Thursday.

Elizabeth Alisha Greta Halfmoon, 45, also known to go by Alisha Halfmoon, was arrested for endeavoring to manufacture meth at the 81st and Lewis store.

Police say surveillance video shows Halfmoon had been in the store since noon. Six hours later security noticed she was acting suspicious, so they called Tulsa police.

Responding officers say she claimed she was "too broke to buy the chemicals."

“She didn’t have the money to make the purchases of the chemicals that were needed so she was taking what was needed in the bottle,” says Officer David Shelby.


-- From Fox23,
Tulsa, Okla.

Attention Wal-Mart shoppers! In the back of the store today, we have a special discount on Mexican elves hanging car parts in the Christmas trees.

Also, the walls are melting and everything is free during our Thursday promotion.

Do you like snickerdoodles? I like snickerdoodles! Wanna make some snickerdoodles?

Wait! Wait! Wait! I got an idea. Let's clean the store! There's a lot of us, so we could do it really fast! Wait! Wait! Wait! Don't mess with the Mexican elves! They'll throw those car parts at you if you move the trees.

Honest, you don't want to take a piston in the eye.

Wow! I am so not hungry, y'all!

My teeth! My teeth! They're rotting!

Take advantage of our special Wal-Mart back-store bargain now! As soon as the cops arrive, it expires!

And thank you for shopping . . .
and whatever else . . . at your Tulsa Wal-Mart.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Coach of the year


When you have a football coach capable of shocking NFL players, the cynics of sports-talk radio and the sports bloggers of the Internet, too, it might be the start of something big.

Or maybe it's just another football coach in it for himself and no one else -- the perfect hard-ass coach for hard-ass times in a country all about getting the hardware and not about the humans who get it for you.

Of course we're talking about Nick Saban.

The scene of our story: the 2005 Miami Dolphins training camp. The guy who was there: ex-Dolphin Heath Evans. Where we get to hear it: an interview with Jorge Sedano on Miami sports-talk station
The Ticket, as related on Sports by Brooks.
During the interview, Evans was asked by Sedano to describe Nick Saban at Dolphins training camp in 2005 when Saban was in his first year as Miami’s head coach and Evans was a player on the squad.

SEDANO: Give me an example of something he did to someone while you were there that made you shake your head, you’re like, ‘That stuff doesn’t work here’.

EVANS: Well, the first day of two-a-days. We had about a three-hour-plus practice in the morning in that south Florida sun. You guys know what it’s like down there in late July, early August. And then that night we had another practice under the lights, if I recall I think it was about from 6 to 9.

Jeno James, our best offensive lineman at the time, comes in and collapses after practice, uh, vomiting all kinds of stuff that would make a billygoat puke, eyes rolled in the back of his head. Myself, about four other lineman are trying to carry him from the locker room, to the training room.

Obviously it’s a moment of panic, everyone, you know, we don’t know if this guy’s, you know, gonna die, I mean, the whole deal. But he’s so big and sweaty and heavy that we actually have to set him down in the hallway between the locker room and the training room.

Nick Saban literally just starts walking in, steps over Jeno James convulsing, doesn’t say a word, doesn’t try to help, goes upstairs, I don’t know what he does. But then obviously they get Jeno trauma-offed to the hospital.

Saban calls a team meeting about 10:30 that night, comes down and says, ‘You know, the captain of the ship can never show fear or indecision, we’ve always gotta have an answer, and so I had to go upstairs, that’s why I walked over Geno like that, I had to collect my thoughts and decide what’s best for our team.’

And I’m thinking to myself, I think along with Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas and Yeremiah Bell and all these other guys going, ‘Did he, does he really believe what he’s just saying?’ He showed no human emotion for one of his best players. He literally stepped over him when four or five grown men are trying to carry Jeno to the training room.
COME TO think of it, I'm shocked that people are shocked. What's the difference between Saban, now the Alabama football coach, and the Wall Street investment bankers who step over the convulsing American economy to collect their thoughts and decide what's best for the firm's bottom line . . . and theirs?

What's the difference between Saban and any number of CEOs of American corporations, who make about 300 times what the workers they're about to lay off make?

Saban's behavior is just the distilled, small-enough-to-grasp version of the kind of crap from which we've been averting our eyes for a long time now. The macroculture of America sometime near its fall is too all-encompassing for us to comprehend -- much like the proverbial blind men, each one of them running his hands across a different part of an elephant and "seeing" vastly different things.

The erstwhile coach of the Miami Dolphins stepping over the convulsing body of one of his star players to go "
collect my thoughts and decide what’s best for our team" is small enough -- and personally callous enough for us to recognize a deeply self-important, self-involved, self-serving and self-deluded man.

In other words, Saban's exactly the kind of guy we're happy to put in charge of a college football team of impressionable young men, ages 18 to 23. The kind of guy Alabama is happy to have a statue of outside Bryant-Denny Stadium. God knows LSU loved him . . . until it didn't.

Then again, it's amazing the things we're willing not to notice so long as there are games to win and money to make. Ask Penn State.


P.S.: Oh . . . and there's this:
SEDANO: I mean, are you serious? Well, listen, I know for a fact that people in that office, they weren’t even allowed to look at him, for God’s sake! Like, I heard a story about his secretary telling him he had a nice haircut, he kind of like grunted at her and kept walking. And then someone later, this Scotty O’Brien, that hatchet man that he had, came up to her and says, ‘You’re not allowed to speak to the coach! Don’t you dare speak to the coach!’ Just nonsense that Scotty O’Brien - he had a hatchet man! What coach has a hatchet man?

P.P.S.: And, really, isn't there a discussion to be had in this country about the journalistic responsibility of sportswriters, who often end up "feeding the kitty" with coverage that plays right into the various fan-friendly -- and bank-account friendly -- myths of college and pro athletics?

For example, don't you think that people were talking, and talking a lot, about Saban's behavior around the Dolphins training camp? Don't you think that sportswriters and TV reporters heard some of it? Don't you think that an average reporter might consider that news?

Yes, there's a conversation to be had among (and about) sports journalists -- and others in the press as well -- about what doesn't get reported in the quest to keep people happy . . . and not get frozen out due to telling the public important, yet unflattering, facts about people like Nick Saban.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

I'll bet they stomp puppies, too


I don't believe in torture. I am willing, however, to consider an exception to this for certain multinational bankers after watching the above WSB-TV report.

Others well to my right, though, might think the real problem down in Georgia is that Fulton County sheriff's deputies are a bunch of squishy-soft socialists. For refusing to throw a 103-year-old woman and her 83-year-old daughter out of their house and onto the street after Deutsche Bank AG and JPMorgan Chase foreclosed on them, with the blessing of a local judge.

Chase, which services the loan for Deutsche Bank, took $25 billion in TARP money from the American taxpayer after investment bankers blew up the U.S. economy. And those who received much financial mercy from the American government and people showed none to two little old ladies in the dead of winter.

That is, until the TV cameras showed up, and the cops discovered that sometimes the law is no fit thing for a just man to enforce.



THERE'S EVEN a scripture for this. Let us turn to Matthew, Chapter 18:
21 Then Peter approaching asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?”

22
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.

23
That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants.

24
When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.

25
Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt.


26
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’

27
Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan.

28
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’

29 Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’

30
But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt.

31
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair.

32
His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.


33
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’

34 Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt.

35 So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.”
WATERBOARDING: It's not just for Muslim "enemy combatants."

I wonder whether the present crop of publicly God-fearing Republican presidential candidates -- some of whom are chomping at the bit to torture somebody . . .
anybody -- are willing to go there with the very folks the Bible says have it coming. Their pals the bankers.


Something tells me the answer is no.

Zuzu explains it all


Sometimes, it's not such a wonderful life.


Sometimes, when you hit December, this time of good cheer and good will toward men, you're running low on both. You are tired. You have been beaten down by a world of bad will and bad tidings, and if success ever came calling on you, there'd probably be no room at the inn.

For trouble, there's plenty of room. Because that's how the world rolls.

You feel alone in the world, and if your mother told you she loved you, you'd feel compelled to confirm it with at least two independent sources. Preferably, there would be something on paper somewhere -- not that you would be able to find it.

Meantime, being that the world has you convinced you're a great big failure, you seek inspiration among folks our world holds up as successful. You take a hard look at who they are and how they got where you'd like to be . . . and you conclude that if these societal role models were in Texas, somebody surely would say they "just need killin'." (See "Investment bankers, Wall Street.")

Then you conclude that's just false hope talking.


SO THERE you are. Feeling alone. Stressed out. A giant, screaming failure -- one way or another. You don't love you, and you're fairly certain God is ambivalent on the subject.

Merry expletive-deleted Christmas. The only reason you didn't get pepper sprayed at Wal-Mart on Black Friday was because the last shred of dignity you have left hinges on not being the sort of person who puts himself in a position to get pepper sprayed at Wal-Mart on Black Friday. So you have that going for you, at least.

Zuzu feels your pain.

Well, at least Karolyn Grimes -- she who was so sure about what happened to angels whenever a bell rang in
It's a Wonderful Life -- feels your pain. Being a movie icon offers little protection when the world decides to crash down upon you.

But sometimes, underneath the rubble and amid the ruin, there is a wisdom that surpasses what we understood to be true. We live, we suffer and -- as "Zuzu" tells
The Washington Post from the perspective of now being 71 and having suffered . . . a lot -- the truth is where it is.

And God is where He is. Which isn't necessarily where we presume Him to be.
“My life has never been wonderful,” she offered quietly. “Maybe when I was a child, but not after age 15.”

“And maybe that’s what makes the film so important for me and a lot of other people,” she continued. “The Jimmy Stewart George is suffering terribly in the movie — you can just see it. He’s in Martini’s café and saying to himself, ‘God, I’m not a praying man, but please show me the way.’ ”

“Gosh, it makes me cry,” she said.

“It’s not a Christmas movie, not a movie about Jesus or Bethlehem or anything religious like that,” she insisted. “It’s about how we have to face life with a lot of uncertainty, and even though nobody hears it, most of us ask God to show us the way when things get really hard.

“That was part of Capra’s genius,” she said. “Everybody has some sorrow, worry, and everybody asks God for help. One way or the other, we all do, and it can be in Martini’s, not a church on Christmas.”

Francis Caraccilo, a preservationist in Seneca Falls and an organizer of the annual “It’s a Wonderful Life” celebration, believes Capra’s film addresses other important issues. “For a lot of historians and people who just watch the film closely, the movie’s relevance includes the fact that it addresses anti-immigrant sentiments and religious bigotry,” pointing to the scene where the evil banker Potter complains that George Bailey is helping “garlic eaters” buy homes.

“Italian Americans appear throughout the film,” said Caraccilo, himself an Italian American. “When Capra came through this town, it was clear that anti-immigrant and not-too-subtle hostility toward Catholics was part of the American social landscape in 1946.”

“There’s a generous heart in this movie,” he said. “Think about that for a moment in 2011.”
THINK ABOUT THAT for several moments.

Maybe life is wonderful, after all. Maybe what's not so wonderful is how much room we allow Henry F. Potter in our hearts and in our culture . . . and how little is left for George Bailey. We say we long for Bedford Falls, yet we double down on
the Pottersville that we've been sold.

You could pray about this at your church of the almighty annual appeal and happy-clappy, dinner-theater hymns to the triumphant self. On the other hand, you could get serious, pop into Martini's, order a double bourbon and go for broke.
"Dear Father in heaven, I'm not a praying man, but if you're up there and can hear me, show me the way. I'm at the end of my rope. Show me the way, God."

Slimy reptile meets bad hairpiece


The Republican presidential race has come to this -- The Adulterer jumping through hoops for the amusement of The Donald.

Or, as I told my wife just a little bit ago, "Our fathers fought the Nazis for this."

From Politico:
After a nearly hour-long meeting at Trump Tower, Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich emerged for a joint news conference, during which the former House speaker defended The Donald from slams from Ron Paul that Trump moderating a debate would create a "circus" atmosphere.

"I'm actually very surprised that one of my friends would have said that," Gingrich said, noting that an actor who appeared with a chimp (Ronald Reagan) became president, as well as a former peanut farmer. "This is a country of enormously wide-open talent. You know, Donald Trump is a great showman. He's also a great businessman. ... I think that we have to be open to new ways of doing things and new ways of approaching things."

He added, "I thought it was great when he agreed to do it. ... It's part of the process by which Americans (choose)."

Gingrich said he got Trump to agree to create a system of, as he put it, "Apprenti," where 10 New York City school kids in the poorer schools can apply for an apprenticeship of some kind. The obvious branding aside, it's not immediately clear that the New York City Department of Education will be interested.
THE SORRY spectacle of America today -- not to mention the sorry spectacle of our politicians' whoring debasing a profession that used to be simply about sex for money, not betrayal for campaign contributions and sweet future lobbying gigs -- is an offense against the sacrifices of our forebears and a mockery of their dreams.

This is what the fall of spent empires looks like, when decadence of spirit turns into the destruction of mind and will. We can only pray that God's mercy is much greater than God's justice.

Given the evidence at hand so far this election cycle, that may be a real long shot.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Marching through Georgia

"I can make this march, and I will make Georgia howl!"

-- William Tecumseh Sherman,
founding superintendent,
Louisiana State Seminary
of Learning (now LSU)

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Geeks 'R' Us


I was going to do something about the South Carolina newspaper that, gratuitously, dropped the F-bomb slap dab into the middle of a story about Saturday's LSU-Georgia football game (Geaux Tigers!).

And I was going to have a nifty segue in there about how whichever copy editor at the Gannett "regional editing hub" in Louisville, Ky., was responsible might be able to find work at Sir Richard's condoms (Richard . . . get it?), which is run by a guy whose last job was as a contributing editor for Editor & Publisher.

Then I was going to make fun of Sir Richard's being a socially conscious condom company, which has student "envoys" handing out free rubbers at the hometown University of Colorado.

I ALSO was going to really snark on one member of the Sir Richard's dormitory penis patrol who actually gave Westword this quote:
"We're encouraging freshmen to use a condom each and every time they have sex. Some people might consider a condom to be a barrier, but it's really a way of bringing couples together through enhanced trust. If you know your partner cares about protecting you, an increased level of trust comes along with it."
FUNNY, it used to be we thought that whole "enhanced trust" thing was what marriage was all about. Condoms? Not so much. Condoms are more like NATO taking Iran's word for it about not wanting nuclear weapons, then building a European anti-ballistic-missile system.

But that kind of s*** just bums me out. So I'm not blogging about it.

Instead, I thought I would show you what a complete geek I am. C'mon . . . whom else do you know with a 1947 television test pattern for his computer wallpaper? No one, that's who.

Whom else do you know with a crapload of 78 rpm records? No one, that's who.

Whom else do you know who so treasures little things like an original shellac 78 copy of Fats Domino's "Valley of Tears"
? Or "Blueberry Hill"?

No one, that's whom . . . er, who.

Because I'm a geek. Besides, I'd sooner die than pass out rubbers to perfect strangers in the name of "enhanced trust."

Four walls . . . and a 78


Stand back, people. I got my geek on.

And I'm gonna show you something. More precisely, I'm going to let you hear something.

First, however, the setup. In three . . . two . . . one. . . .


IT'S IRONIC that, after introducing the 45 almost a decade earlier, RCA Victor had pretty much perfected the 78 rpm record by 1957. As I told you in an earlier post that sadly lacked an audio-visual component apart from a snapshot of an old Elvis record, RCA's "'New Orthophonic' High Fidelity" was all that.

Let's once again say that like my Elvis 78s, this old Jim Reeves record -- after 54 years and God knows how many plays -- sounds better than most new vinyl today, what there is of new vinyl today, and better than a lot of CDs being cranked out today. Imagine when it was brand new. . . .

Anyway, I've been telling people how it has been all but lost to history how good 78s could sound, and now I've decided to show you. Enjoy.

AND NOW the technical notes. . . .

|geek|

The video was shot with a Nikon CoolPix L20 digital camera. Ambient audio was recorded with a Studio Projects C1 condenser microphone, while the audio from the 78 was off the Webcor record changer's phono output. Both the phono out and the mic output were fed into a Soundcraft stereo mixer, then into a professional sound card.

The audio was recorded to a WAV file with Adobe Audition software, then synced to the Nikon video. The audio track was not cleaned up in any way, just normalized to 98 percent modulation.

|/geek|