Friday, December 28, 2007

You might be Taliban if

You refine heroin for a living, but you have a moral objection to beer.

You own a $300 machine gun and $5,000 rocket launcher, but you can’t afford shoes.

You have more wives than teeth.

You think vests come in two styles: bullet-proof and suicide.

You’ve ever opened a can of falafel with a mortar round.

You’ve ever had your camel repossessed.

You can’t think of anyone you HAVEN’T declared Jihad against.

You consider television dangerous, but routinely carry ammunition in your robe.

You’ ve ever been asked, “Does this burka make my butt look too big?”

You’ve felt the urge to “rub her out” after seeing a woman’s exposed ankle.

You were amazed to discover that cell phones have uses other than setting off roadside bombs.

You’ve ever uttered the phrase, “I love what you’ve done with your cave.”

You wipe your butt with your bare left hand, but consider bacon “unclean”.

A tip of the Akubra to Father Joe.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away

On the night when we celebrate His greatest gift to us, Mike had his dad taken from him. He's had a rough time of it, and it sounds like he was well ready to go home, but it's still hard to lose your dad. At least now he's got a body that works as it should, and he gets to be with family he hasn't seen in a long time, as well in the presence of the Lord Himself.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

And Mike, we're praying for you.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Scrooge (1935)

I mentioned with an earlier movie that films like "It's a Wonderful Life" are so much a part of our cultural Christmas experience that it's hard to believe they ever weren't. "A Christmas Carol" goes even farther; it's almost as much a part of our cultural holiday canon as Santa Claus. The trinity of past, present and future, the theme of sin and redemption, the contrast between material and spiritual benefit... it all is soaked into our subconscious that it's hard to imagine a Christmas without some reference to it.

A quick run-down on IMDb shows 53 different versions on film, and I'm sure there are more. I remember seeing Henry Winkler do a good retelling of it in the 70s, and Bill Murray deserves a medal for "Scrooged". ("Staple the antlers on!") The 1935 Scrooge, though, is probably the best I've seen so far. It's a straightforward rendition, without comical characters and the winking inside jokes that you have to put in today because the story line is so familiar. It also doesn't get into Scrooge's childhood in an attempt to explain his loathesomeness. He's just a rotten person, that's all, without any excuse.

But the theme of repentance and change is stronger here because of that. There's no cute Tiny Tim at the end, saying "God bless us, every one," but Scrooge's change of heart is a complete 180. It sticks to the book about the way I remember reading it. The acting is a little heavy-handed, probably because the actors were stage-trained and talkies were still kind of new. But the intensity is unmatched.

This is far and away the best Christmas movie I'll be posting here. Do yourself a favor and see it. It's a straight-up, 200-proof Christmas Carol, the way Dickens would have wanted it done.

Are these really genes I want to share?

Actually, probably. My Reverend Auntie shared a story about my cousin, her Favorite Son (hereinafter referred to as "FS"). I haven't seen him in years, but this sounds like the Mike I remember:
I have a picture taped up on my wall of the FS and me, taken years ago when we were both much younger, for our church directory. He is long-haired and bespectacled, wearing a tattered jean jacket, a tie, and a black t-shirt with a slightly offensive slogan, his baseball cap on backwards, a maniacal grin on his face. I am long-haired myself, in a red dress, much thinner, beaming innocently, unaware of how this picture will turn out. As it was, we chose it for our directory picture because it was so much a depiction of who we were in those days. He must have been about 19 at the time and I was probably only 50 or so.

He was the ringleader of the youth group at our church and at the time, the church was in the middle of an all-church social action project which involved everyone in helping with a local agency for families in transition. The youth group was in charge of a drive to amass paper products for the agency.

One Sunday we were complacently listening to the announcements at the beginning of the service, when the rear doors swung open and through them marched a phalanx of black-clad young men, the FS at the point position. They reached the front of the church, swung around, legs planted wide, hands on hips. The FS, in his black leather trench coat, opened one side of his coat to reveal many paper products fastened inside.

"We need you to bring paper towels, disposable diapers, kleenex," he opened the other side of his coat; "also toilet paper, computer paper, all kinds of paper products for Family Tree". He closed his coat, put hands on hips, glared menacingly. "And ya better do it. Cuz if you don't.........I'm gonna date all your daughters!"

The paper drive was a great success.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A step in faith for a good cause

Wunderkraut and Frau Wunder are in the process of adopting a seriously adorable little girl from China, and they can use some help.
Our paper work was officially logged into the Chinese government on December 12 of that year. We expected to wait 9 to 10 months until we received our referral, but a month later the entire adoption system in China came to a dead stop due to internal government politics.

Our short wait grew to almost two years, but we are happy to announce that on December 5, 2007, we were notified that we had our referral and the very next day we saw our daughter for the first time. Feng Yun Man (soon to be Mei Elyse Talley) was born on March 18, 2007 and is currently in Fengxin Orphanage in the Jiangxi Provence, not far from Nanchang, China. (Try Google Earth) We expect to be traveling to China by mid January to bring Mei home to her new family.

The cost of foreign adoption is very high. When we started this whole process we did not have a single dollar, but we prayed and knew that the Lord would provide. And provide He did! In a very short time, the Lord blessed me with side work and the work just kept coming. It meant long nights and weekends, but it was worth the sacrifice.

We went from having no funds to having enough money to pay for the entire adoption plus some money towards the airfare. However, the two year delay caused us to have to resubmit parts of our paper work and that depleted the travel money.

Depending on the amount of advance notice, the total cost of the tickets will be between $2,000 and $4,000. We are asking you to prayerfully consider donating towards the cost of the airfare to China. We are also asking that you keep our family in your prayers, especially baby Mei.

Take a look at that little girl. Really, we want her in this country to help raise the average cuteness of American children. The need for money is a serious one, though, so if you can, please try and help them out. They've got a PayPal button up, as well as an address. I doubt if we'll be able to send any money ourselves, but we'll see what can be done.

If you can't give anything, at least pray hard. We'll certainly be doing that. If the Lord owns the cattle on a thousand hills, He (and His people) can pony up for a couple of plane tickets.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Waiting for the lawsuit

This sort of thing must be silenced. Before you know it, we'll be overwhelmed by dangerous attitudes like peace on earth and goodwill toward men.
Someone is trying to spread a little Christmas cheer along New Jersey's Garden State Parkway.

The AP reports that just after Thanksgiving, two large glass ornaments mysteriously appeared on two large pine trees alongside the Parkway in New Jersey's Pinelands. Since then, five more decorations have popped up in the same house-free area.

Cry havoc! and let slip the dogs lawyers of Christmas!

Merry Christmas, Mrs. Calabash

I haven't actually seen The Great Rupert, but in the course of posting it I decided I have to as soon as I can get a little free time. It sure looks like a cute one. Certainly it can't be too bad, if it stars The Schnozzola.

Let me know what you think if you see even part of this!

Bless me, your honor...

Shouldn't it work the other way around?
A judge in southern Chile has sentenced a Catholic priest to recite psalms daily during three months as punishment for a traffic violation.

Judge Manuel Perez said he issued the unusual sentence after Father Jose Cornejo said he could not afford the 50,000-peso ($100) fine that would have been the regular sanction for illegal parking in the city of Puerto Montt.

"He will have to recite seven psalms from a book in the Old Testament," Judge Perez told the Santiago daily La Tercera.

He added, "This is not a sentence that just occurred to me."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


The Seattle Center Fun Forest will be closing.

I don't have a lot of positive memories of Seattle. I lived in the area through most of my teenage years, and I wasn't really very happy there. I was - and am - a small-town boy at heart, and I wanted more than anything to go back to Goldendale. But one of the things I didenjoy was taking the Metroid bus downtown and hanging out at the Pike Place Market and the Seattle Center. Even when I didn't have any pocket money (which was most of the time) I would take a book and sit and enjoy the atmosphere. Once in a while my folks would take us all to the Center, and buy ride tickets at the Fun Forest. (I didn't ride them myself; I can't even cope with a carousel for more than one ride.) It may not be my favorite part of the place, but it's an institution. Heck, my mom and dad were there at the World's Fair in '62, when it first opened.

As long as they're dismantling the Seattle Center, I have a suggestion for what they can do with the Space Noodle. It's long overdue, after all.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Romney Roundup

I know Mormons are kind of exotic critters to the east-coast media, but the sheer amount of bigotry that's getting published is really cheesing me off. Anti-Catholicism is sometimes called "the last acceptable prejudice," but that vitriol is minor compared to what passes for journalism when Mormons are involved.

First, the good.
You mean he's got a life outside of funny underwear and baptizing dead people? Who knew? One discouraging note is that if the WaPo is writing positively about a Republican, it means they think he hasn't got a chance. Still, at least it means one reporter has his head somewhere outside his lower digestive tract.

The bad.
Romney's a racist-cracker-ofay! So there!
A few of the more egregious quotes:
Whenever a proselytizing Mormon knocks on my Harlem door, I chase him away as brusquely as I would chase away a Klansman, or an evangelical Christian Republican, and for much the same reason.

I have zero tolerance for racial intolerance.

And I have zero tolerance for smarmy blockheads. Can't you just smell the crosses burning? (Actually, Mormons don't use crosses; maybe they'll have to burn spires or something.) I'd be interested to know if he's ever actually seen a Mormon ward's ethnic makeup. The LDS church is loaded with Hispanics, Asians and Pacific Islanders. Probably a third of the church is non-white. Can his own church in Harlem (assuming he attends one) boast the same kind of diversity? I doubt you'd see a whole lot of white faces there. But that's different. Those aren't racially intolerant churches.
What exactly is the shelf life of God-inspired bigotry? Mitt Romney grew into adulthood under a Mormon doctrine instructing members that Negroes could not enter heaven or the priesthood because they were cursed by God, and inferior. Laying aside the Mormon hocus-pocus, Romney is no different in such racial conditioning than his comparable, evangelical white Christian, to say nothing of the secular crowd.

"Grew to adulthood?" Yes. He was 30 years old when the church declared that the priesthood was now open to black men. (Heaven was never closed to them to begin with, but the calumny sounds better that way, so let's just leave that in. Who'll ever know?) Is the charge that he could have changed the teaching, and didn't? How much influence does he think the average young man has over a church of millions? Or is Payne saying Romney should have left the church in order to pursue a more color-blind way to heaven? If so, it says something about Romney's loyalty and Payne's, respectively. Romney sticks to the church he's committed to, even if some of its tenets aren't to his liking. Payne seems to think it's better to switch gods according to who suits him best.

From there, Payne descends into some kind of incoherency about disparate drug law enforcement. Which is clearly instigated by the secret Mormon cabal controlling America's judicial system. Which is managed by... white men! That proves it! Romney's a racist!

And the ugly:
I don't think the bozo at Newsday really meant to suggest some shadowy Mormon Illuminati skulking about in preparation for the day when they rise up and subjugate America under their dread regime of decaf pop and green Jello. Elva Anderson knows it's coming, and wants to warn us all. She knows all about it, because she consulted Sandra Tanner, who is to the Mormons what Jack Chick is to the Catholics. Here's what Mrs. Anderson has to say:
Frankly, I don’t think I can count on Mr. Romney’s prayers to his god who is busy birthing spiritual babies on another planet — not while bin Laden is also busy birthing babies on our planet (12 to 24 physical children, according to Wikipedia) and countless spiritual progeny, all of whom hate us.

So, money or not, I’m going to have to say “no” to Mitt Romney. I’d rather count on the prayers of someone like Mike Huckabee; he prays to the same God the pilgrims prayed to. Money might move some conservative leaders, but it won’t move the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when the Philistines, Assyrians and Babylonians come after us with their nuclear warheads.

If Romney is elected to the presidency, God will turn His face away from America, and darkness will reign upon the earth. Because the real role of a president is to pray for the country, not to manage it.

Update later in the day: It just occurred to me that holding Romney responsible for the sort of lurid rumors Mrs. Anderson and Mr. Payne are spouting is equivalent to expecting Guiliani to justify his adherence to the faith of Maria Monk and Alberto Rivera. It's not even his religion they're finding him guilty by association with; it's a caricature.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

How to get away with sexual harassment

Glenn Sacks thinks this SNL sketch is an illustration of how subjective sexual harassment standards are; i.e., if she doesn't like it, it's harassment. Maybe so, but I'm not trying to make a statement here. I just think it's a hoot.

(My apologies to anyone in the mammarily-unchallenged community who took offense at the word "hoot.")

Friday, December 07, 2007

Your Friday Christmas Movie

I figure it's about time to put up another film, since Christmas is bearing down on us like a logging truck.

This one is only a Christmas movie by way of setting; the actual plot is only peripherally related. Then again, some of the films we most associate with the holidays are like that. "It's a Wonderful Life" is an obvious one; it's so firmly established in the American Christmas canon that we can't imagine it with a summertime setting. Every year, we see a romantic comedy or two that are set at Christmas just because that's a lucrative time for the release. I'm partial to 'While You Were Sleeping" as an example of that genre.

The theme that ties these together is a sense of hearth and home, an emphasis on families and togetherness. Real families, of course, get on each other's nerves during the holidays, but that, too, is taken for part of the fun. In Christmas movies, family is paramount. The holiday-family-schmaltz dynamic also makes for an ideal way to make a sentimental movie not come across hokey, especially with one like today's film du jour. There's also kind of a built-in deadline that establishes the film's timing, as the characters want everything to be perfect for Christmas.

Although "Son of the Navy" sounds like the sort of thing you call a man when you want to provoke him into a tavern brawl, it's actually a benign, even pollyanna film. The plot is a familiar one: a little orphan boy tries to wangle himself a family for Christmas, even if he has to create it himself. It's also got the familiar comic elements of mistaken identity, a bickering couple that you know will end up in love, and a cute dog. I don't know why this little boy didn't keep acting as an adult; his last credit seems to be a Dragnet episode when he was about 20. IMDb doesn't have any other biographical information and I can't find any Social Security death record for him, so he's probably alive out there somewhere at the venerable age of 80. (Martin Spellman, if you ever find yourself here on a Google search or something, drop a comment and tell us about yourself, would you?) Besides him, James Dunn and Jean Parker (who immediately afterward was the charming leading lady in the last film I posted) turn in a delightful performance as the sort of people who shouldn't be allowed in the same room together. It's a cute, light B movie, all in all; not pretentious, just sweet.

This film has one more poignant note that the makers couldn't have predicted. It was released in 1940, as the Depression was winding down and it looked as though everything would be all right at last. By the following Christmas, the whole world would have changed, and the Navy would be reeling from the attack at Pearl Harbor. (That was 66 years ago today, in fact.) But for that short time, we get to see a military man and his makeshift family with no bigger problems on their plate than their personal lives. Which is how it should be.

So pull up a chair, pour yourself a warm cup of something, put on your toasty socks, and enjoy:

(Leave a comment if you see this, and tell me what you thought.)

Update: I removed the Tourette's Syndrome Barbie because the sound was interfering. If anyone wants to see it, it's not hard to put back. I think it's pretty much run its course, though, as far as novelty.

No hurry. Finish your coffee break.

I think if I were a Lewis County Sheriff's deputy, I'd have a second cup and maybe even a doughnut before setting out on this rescue. When your county looks like this, you've got bigger things to worry about than these cretins.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

If Tetzel had had the Internet

This makes selling indulgences look like small potatoes. And I'll bet they've never had to give a refund to a dissatisfied customer.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

This is my life!

What we say and what they hear:
What I said:
Kiddo#1! Breakfast!
What Kiddo#1 heard:
We’ve been up for half an hour and have been busy setting the table. I asked what you wanted to eat. The coffee maker beeped and the toaster popped. Everyone is gathered in the kitchen but you, and we called you for breakfast, but it’s actually a clever trick to fool you. You can defeat our nefarious purpose by sitting on the couch continuing to read, and we’ll be powerless to defend against you!

What I said:
If you want a stuffed animal, go in your room and get it.
What Kiddo#3 heard:
I will never let you have a stuffed animal again in your life.

Go read the whole thing. This rates her a spot in my sidebar for sure.