Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Traditional Proclamation of the Birth of Christ

The twenty-fifth day of December.
In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world
from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;
the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood;
the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham;
the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses
and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;
the one thousand and thirty-second year from David's being anointed king;
in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;
in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome;
the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;
the whole world being at peace,
in the sixth age of the world,
Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,
desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming,
being conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and nine months having passed since his conception,
was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary,
being made flesh.
The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Play of the Nativity of the Child Jesus

I've been saving this one for last, because it's decidedly not cheesy.

If you're looking for a plain old Christmas pageant on screen, you're going to be caught a bit off-guard, especially by the dialogue. This isn't some hokey Hollywood bastardization of the Christmas story. This is modeled after the medieval Nativity plays.

The archaic, rhymed dialogue and the lighting give this an overall tone of reverence and age befitting to such a holy narrative. Notably, the commercials are only at the beginning and end; the play is uninterrupted.

Such a solemn, joyful treatment of Christmas on TV is impossible to imagine today. I doubt it was commonplace even in the early 1950s. If you've watched none of my Cheesy Christmas Movie series, watch this and leave me your thoughts in the comments.

Available for streaming and download here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Today's Cheesy Christmas Movie really does live up to the name. It's not bad in the same sense as the last one, but it will make your eyes roll so hard back you may need a crowbar to retrieve them.

Down the Wyoming Trail is a typical Tex Ritter singing western, with a bit of a holiday twist. It's Christmas Eve, and Tex has (of course) just ridden into town and been asked to play Santy Claus. A local badman overhears that Tex is going to be the jolly old elf, and dons a suit and whiskers to rob a ranch payroll. In the process he kills a man. The dying man fingers Saint Nick as his killer, and Tex narrowly misses getting lynched. In a fashion that would be the envy of O.J., he sets out to find the real killer.

Every western has to have a pretty girl, and Joan Leslie's big sister Mary Brodell is exactly that, in one of her few credited roles. And speaking of credits, it's a never-ending source of amusement to me that White Flash is so often credited higher than any of his bipedal co-stars except Tex himself. I'm only about halfway through this one, but there's a twist beginning to form I won't give away. I'll update this once I finish previewing.

Available for download or streaming here.

Update: Yep, the twist is a good one, but still leaves the whole thing pretty predictable. Yes, and cheesy.

Randy Stonehill: Christmas at Denny's

This is probably the most heartbreaking Christmas song I've ever heard. Well worth a listen.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A hero

Mary-Ellen at Hopefully Ever After has written an absolute must-read piece, pouring her soul out in pixels.

What are you waiting for? Go read it. Then come back. (Warning: it's extremely descriptive in places. But necessary.)

I have three things to say about this piece.

1. Mary-Ellen is a hero. More on that later.

2. I've inveighed more than once on the witchhunt that has developed around the pervo-priest scandals. I still maintain that many good men are unjustly accused and that many people have profited handsomely from the Big Lie that priests are all potential molesters.

But big lies often grow from small but deadly truths, and this is one of those. Fr. Leo Riley was indeed a child molester. (Mary-Ellen wasn't his only victim, though she may have been his most long-term one.) Which makes it all the more despicable. A stranger who lures a child into a car is vile enough. But when a trusted family friend, a man whose job it is to model virtue, destroys a child from the inside out, it is an unspeakable evil. The same hands that held Christ's body every day snaked over an innocent child's body at night. The same lips that spoke the words of Jesus told manipulative lies to a little girl. This is one of those sins that cry out to heaven for vengeance.

And the ripple effect, while not as personally devastating, is far-reaching and possibly unerasable. A few vermin like Fr. Riley have tainted the reputation of priests for generations to come. The very word "priest" has become a snickered synonym for "hypocritical pervert." His behavior has made the Catholic Church, not just a laughingstock, but a stench to much of the world.

3. I don't know Mary-Ellen's parents, but I'm reluctant to judge them very harshly. The thing to remember is, in the '70s and '80s, child molestation was just beginning to be talked about openly, and lots of people had no idea how to deal with it when it came to light. In my family, there was an uncle who couldn't keep his hands off his nieces, and I don't think anything was done except to keep a close eye on him at family functions. (He died before I was born, thankfully.) The same thing applies to the bishops who kept shuffling accused priests around. Often, they just didn't know better. It had always been done that way.

In fairness, Mary-Ellen's parents did believe her and put a stop to her abuse, even if it was too little to late, and the Stigmatine Order did cooperate with police after policies were put in place in the early '90s. We know what to do now. But back then, the times they were still a'changin'.

Okay, back to point 1. Lots of people have memories of childhood abuse. Lots of them go public about the abuse later. That doesn't make them heroes. It just makes them veterans. It's what they do with their victimhood that counts.

Most people, with a history like Mary-Ellen's, would spend their lives bitter and cursing God for betraying them. (Which, in a way, I suppose He did. At least His representative betrayed her on His behalf. God gets the credit for the good things, and at Calvary He took on Himself all the blame for evil done by Man. In all cases, it comes back to God.)

I would have abandoned a God that I felt had allowed those things to happen. I probably would never have set foot in a church again except to spit in the holy water. Yes, I know intellectually about one bad apple, yada yada yada. That knowledge doesn't bind wounds or soothe fear.

But Mary-Ellen is able to separate Fr. Riley and his evil from the good God that always loved her. She is faithful to the Church that failed her. She talks about her parish's pastor who is the polar opposite of Fr. Riley, a good and Godly man who keeps his vows and works with her where she is.

Mary-Ellen has faith that leaves mine in the dust. She loves God more than she hates her abuser.

That's what makes her a hero.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

From the country that brought you Sartre and Camus

Teacher assigns suicide notes for homework.

And speaking of Sartre...

(A/T to Cassandra for the second link.)

Santa Claus Conquers the (choke) Martians

Today's Cheesy Christmas Movie is dedicated to Lazarus Lupin, who first introduced me to bad cinema more than 30 years ago. Full disclosure; I've never actually sat through more than half an hour of this abomination without trying to chew off my mouse arm like a trapped coyote to escape. My Akubra is off to anybody who can.

Available for download or streaming here.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A note on movies

If you're not aware, the movies I post are all at the Internet Archive. From there they can be downloaded in various formats for offline viewing. And since they're all public domain, it's as legal as Sunday School.

I'll start tagging them with the link forthwith.

A Christmas Without Snow

I did promise more Cheesy Christmas Movies, did I not?

This one isn't really all that cheesy. It's a made-for-TV movie from 1980 that features a handful of known names (meaning ones I recognized) and a fair number that I didn't. It gets sentimental at times, but it's not on the level of "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians," or even of the last film I posted.

This film doesn't have a whole lot in the way of plot, being more a collection of "day-in-the-life" snapshots. The setting is a generic-Protestant church's choir, where they have obtained a choir tyrant of professional caliber and are preparing for a performance of Handel's Messiah.

(Okay, can I just stop there and say that this alone would have sold me on the film? I frimpin' love Messiah. Back when I was a single father, Wharf Rat and I would see how many performances we could catch every year.)

Anyway, the story centers mostly on a divorcee from Nebraska who is trying to get herself established in San Francisco while her son stays behind with Grandma. But along with her we see a minister who takes his parishioners' troubles as his own, a sweet 30-something spinster who is so lonely she's gone a bit north-northwest, a young black man living with his grandmother who just wants to make his way in a world where skin shade still matters a little bit, and so on. Parallel illustrations of the human condition.

A few things to watch for:

This movie has a plethora, not so much of Christian themes, as of Christian incidentals. Hymns are sung without embarrassment. The preacher is neither a closet pervert nor a platitudinizing milquetoast. The church doesn't make vocal stands on social issues; it's a house of worship first and foremost. Not something we see anymore. (Incidentally, notice that when Reverend Lohman is being pastoral to a newly-widowed church member, the background music is "Comfort Ye My People." Nice touch, that.)

The little one-sided catfight over the soprano solo is fun. There's a self-described opera singer who is miffed that anybody else would even audition, and when a soft-spoken Korean woman gets it, Miss Diva leaves in a flurry of fur. The Korean character, incidentally, is the only listed screen appearance of Daisietta Kim. Her audition piece is "I Know that my Redeemer Liveth," and her rendition gives me goosebumples just thinking about it.

The pastor's son is the quintessential PK, a good-natured young man who just one day can't take it anymore. Preachers' wives get the job they signed on for, but their children often find their identities submerged. This kid fits that to a T. The spinster is worth a cringe every time she opens her mouth. And even for 1980, her dress looks dated to me. Am I wrong, ladies?

Enough. Watch the film and leave your thoughts in the comments.

Also available for streaming and download here.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Joe Santa Claus

Today's Cheesy Christmas Movie is short (a half-hour TV special with the commercials removed), but there's a lot packed into it. Ray Montgomery and Maria Palmer turn in competent performances, but for anyone who's seen "Dark Passage," it's a little disconcerting to see Houseley Stevenson playing a kindly old janitor. Little Jeri Lou James redefines the word adorable.  

It's sappy. It's predictable. And if you don't choke up by the end, you have a stone where your heart should be.

Also available for streaming and download here.

Okay, a little more Yogi

Because of this post from HH.

A little touch of Yogi in the night

I'll have a cheesy Christmas movie to post a little later, but for now, here's a little something to get holidayish with:

Friday, November 23, 2012

War stories

The 7 Types of Failed Relationship Understood Via U.S. Wars

I can put names to a few of these. In some cases, I can put the same name to multiple wars. What can I say? I'm a slow learner.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Get that thing off my roof, fat boy!

Here at the Greatest Newspaper in the Northwest™, the Christmas season (yes, I know it should be Advent) begins in mid-November with the usual mountain of gift-sale advertising.

I say "begins," but actually what it does is plow into us like necrotizing fasciitis on meth, leaving nothing but douglas-fir-scented, tinsel-bedecked wreckage in its path. I used to like the holiday season when I was young. At least, I'm pretty sure I must have. Now I just go around humming this:

Incidentally, does anybody still read this blog and want another round of Cheesy Christmas Movies? I have some ready to put up if anybody cares. Maybe it'll take some of the sting out of the season.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The End

A mite overdramatic, but just about how I feel today:
Andrea stood at the side of the bed. The beep, beep of the heart monitor pulsed quietly in the background. It was nearly time. The nurse sat back quietly, giving Andrea space and privacy so she could she could give her uncle her undivided attention. The attending physician ducked into the room to check on his patient. Andrea looked over to him, hoping above all hope the doctor had better news. He didn’t. He shook his head, sadly.
“He went terminal in November of 2012,” he said. “There’s really nothing more we can do.”
Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A wave from across the river

Happy Reformation Day to all my Protestant friends! I wrote this five years ago, and it still applies. (Although I think I was too polite about John Calvin. He'd have been right at home with David Koresh, the self-righteous, bloodthirsty weasel.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's not voter suppression if the good guys do it

Remember, it's RethugliKKKans who want to suppress votes (by insisting that they come from actual, you know, voters, and preferably ones that are still alive.)

I know exactly where they got the names. Huffington Post, the infallible prophet of left-wing America, regularly posts donor names and cities in the hope that its disciples can use them to mete out punishment to the heretics.

For some reason, it doesn't surprise me that the letters came from Seattle. The cities in the Northwest aren't just liberal; they're bitterly, pugnaciously liberal. If you're not, you're The Enemy and any means used to squash you are justified beyond question. It's not just Seattle; while I have a soft spot in my heart for Portland, I'd never live there again.

In 2008, Long Drink (who lives in a Seattle suburb) wore a John McCain shirt to school one day as an experiment, and was greeted with jeers, profanities and at least one physical assault. Unsurprisingly, the day he wore an Obama shirt, nobody blinked.

And of course, Florida is a logical target. It's a swing state that is currently leaning just slightly toward Romney. God grant that this backfires on the Obama campaign there.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Happy Petrov Day!

I sort of knew this story, but never had the details before. It's a kick in the gut to think how close we came.
On September 26th, 1983, Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov was the officer on duty when the warning system reported a US missile launch.  Petrov kept calm, suspecting a computer error.

Then the system reported another US missile launch.

And another, and another, and another.

What had actually happened, investigators later determined, was sunlight on high-altitude clouds aligning with the satellite view on a US missile base...

Go read the whole thing. And hoist a glass to Lt. Col. Petrov tonight in gratitude for not vaporizing us all.

Akubra tip to Mark Shea.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The statement the president should have made

"On behalf of my administration and the United States, I would like to reiterate how sorry I am that a group of Americans used their rights to free speech and freedom of religion to say mean things about Islam. Please be assured that my administration and I are laboring tirelessly to ensure that those rights are eliminated as quickly and completely as possible."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ho. Ly. Cow.

They killed our ambassador in Libya. They stormed our embassy in Cairo and replaced our flag with Al Qaeda's. On September 11.

Naturally, our fearless leader apologizes to them for not being sufficiently humble in our dhimmitude. This was an act of war, and our president is shouldering the blame (or rather, dumping it on us).

Meanwhile, our guardians of free speech are calling for Christians here in America (who actually had nothing to do with it anyway) to be prosecuted for the whole disgusting spectacle.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Friday, September 07, 2012


Chele is my second cousin, although genetically I suppose she's more my first cousin. Or one-and-a-halfth, maybe? Her grandfather and mine were brothers, and our grandmothers were sisters. Someday I'll sit down and puzzle it out.

Anyway, I met Chele and her brother when they visited my grandparents in Goldendale around 1980 or so. She was two years older than I was and he was right in between, so we hit it off pretty well. Chele's family had been in Germany at the same time my grandparents were, so they'd grown pretty close. In fact, to hear my grandpa talk, Chele and her brother were the best grandchildren they'd ever had. (I mentioned them here.) She was a nice girl, if somewhat reserved. Being the hyperactive boy I was, I didn't really notice.

I saw Chele off and on at family functions over our teenage years. She shows up in this video a couple of times: a pretty, dark-haired 19- or 20-year-old. The last time I actually saw her was in 1994, when my dad was in the hospital for the last time. She looked nothing like the girl I remembered. She was wearing heavy makeup and tight clothing, and she generally had the look of an angry woman who had grown up too quickly and with too little self-worth. I was kind of sad for her. I didn't know why.

Now I know why.

I read her blog from beginning to end this morning with my jaw dropped. I had no idea.

Chele has been through hell and come out singed but standing tall. I'm proud that she's my kin.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Comment issues

Okay, I have the old Haloscan comments imported into Disqus. They show up on my admin site, but not on the actual blog. Still trying to figure out why.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Once upon a time, a junkman had a dream...

With the passing of both Andy Griffith and Neil Armstrong this summer, this film has been at the top of my mind lately. I just rewatched it (along with several episodes of the mediocre spin-off TV series) during my vacation last week. Here's the whole thing:

I remember watching "Salvage" when it aired on TV, my best friend and I spread out in our sleeping bags on the living room floor with popcorn and cheap-o candy, being fascinated with the special effects and the thought that, darn it, this was possible.

Y'know, the 1970s get a bad rap for being a time of malaise and diffidence for America, but that's not how I remember them. In 1979, we were three years past the rah-rah of the bicentennial and still confident with the feeling that America could do anything it wanted to. The Cold War was a background fact of life, but the nihilism that would shape the 1980s hadn't affected us pre-teens yet. In that world, a junkman could still use his know-how and moxie and go to the moon. And if anyone could do it, it would be Andy Griffith. Everybody else remembers him as Sheriff Taylor or Matlock, but to me, he'll always be Harry.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hey Ryan-haters!

Amish population increasing

Let's see... they have sex that isn't sterile, raise their children with a strong faith structure, and live out what they believe under the surface as well as on it. And they're flourishing. Could there be a connection there?


Akubra tip to Tim Challies.

Comments should be working now

But I still haven't figured out how to import the old ones from Echo. Let me know if the new system gives you grief.

Prayers for a shepherd

Cardinal George, the brilliant former bishop of Yakima who went on to some obscure place called Chicago, has had his second cancer diagnosis. We need more leaders like him.

So where's the problem?

Our elders are perfectly copacetic with sucking up all the resources and leaving us to clean up the mess and pay the bills. After all, isn't that why they let some of us live to be born?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Not dead yet!

Although it probably looks that way. Bit by bit I'm resurrecting my blog. I lost my sidebar in the changeover to the new template (thank you, Blogger!), so I'm plugging links back in as I remember them. If you used to be there, or just ought to be, leave me a comment and I'll rectify the situation. Which reminds me: I need to reopen comments as well. If anyone is still reading this (besides Graveyard Dog - thanks for the holler!), I'd love to know. Boost an old blogger's ego a bit, why don't you?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A little maintenance

On the off-chance anybody is still coming by and reading this blog, you will have noticed the new template. I'm still updating it along with trying to get comments imported, as Echo is shutting down its comment system in October and I want to get a jump on it. So far I have Disqus more or less installed, but I'm still trying to import the old comments into it. Meanwhile, I'm disabling commenting until I can get it straightened out. I'll also be replenishing my sidebar as soon as time allows. Of course, given how seldom I've been posting lately, who's likely to notice anyway?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Who was Hiram Cronk?

The last man alive to have taken up arms for the United States against the British Empire, that's who. His funeral procession was preserved on film in 1905:

I have to wonder what he would have thought a dozen years later when American boys fought alongside British soldiers. More good stuff about the War of 1812 here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Gotta love bullies... or else!

So it seems a fast-food company has been making donations to pro-gay-marriage organization. In retaliation, Fundamentalists are demanding that public universities ban the chain from their campuses. They basically can't stand the idea that anyone who doesn't follow their narrow, self-righteous superstitions could be allowed to do business at government-supported schools. Trying to force their beliefs on us all and push an agenda of discrimination and hate. What's worse, these schools are knuckling under. Who the hell do these people think they are to tell us who we can do business with?

Angry? Of course you are.

How about now?

Addendum: The last thing we need is voices of so-called "reason" like this guy claiming that the Civil Rights Act applies to bitter-clinging godbotherers. The h8er.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A little presidential history

Do you realize that (barring a last-minute miracle for Ron Paul) this year will mark the first presidential election since 1924 in which neither candidate has seen military service?

There was a spate of service-less elections in the early twentieth century, but those were all contests between men who had come of age in the late 1800s, when the military was mostly composed of professional soldiers and it was unusual for a young man to serve and then go on with his life.

Heck, the latter half of the nineteenth century and most of the twentieth were dominated by veterans of the War Between the States and the Second World War, respectively. Every president between 1945 and 1980 was a combat veteran. (To his credit, President Reagan served but was not allowed into combat service.)

Newt, Rick, Mitt and Barack are all guys who had ample opportunity to serve their country and instead stayed home safe. Embarrassing. I hope it's not going to be a trend. The willingness to place one's body between one's home and danger is a crucial part of what makes a good statesman. And a man who is going to be the commander-in-chief of the armed forces ought to have done his time in those forces.

Disclaimer: I never served myself. I paid a visit to an army recruiter in high school, but was turned down because of my childhood asthma, and I never made any further effort to enlist. To my lasting regret.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

A chilling thought

Up to now, I've been assuming that the HHS mandate was simply a colossal misstep on the president's part, thinking that because so many Catholics contracept, he could get away with demanding that the Church buy them contraception. I figured it was going to backfire on him in the election. We make up a fifth of the country, after all, and a majority of Catholics voted for him the last time around. Depriving them of their first amendment rights seems like a sure-fire way to lose in November.

But last night, it occurred to me: what if the president has been reading history and knows exactly what he's doing? What if he's familiar with the Edmunds-Tucker Act?

For those who are maybe less brushed up on religious suppression than our Dear Leader, the Edmunds-Tucker Act outlawed the Mormon church, allowed the government to confiscate its property, and denied the franchise to any practicing Mormon. Incredibly, it was upheld by the Supreme Court, and remained on the books until 1978, although the 1890 manifesto renouncing polygamy made it irrelevant. (Incidentally, one of the petitioners in the case was Mitt Romney's great-uncle.)

Currently, the Catholic Church operates 625 hospitals, 230 colleges and universities and God only knows how many charities (adoption agencies, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, hospices, and so on). What's to stop our Democratic Overlords from confiscating all those institutions and using them as building blocks for a single-payer system? He's already shown that he thinks of the First Amendment as legal Charmin. Why should he respect any of our other rights if he gets away with it the first time?

I suspected this might be coming three years ago, but I didn't think it would ever get to this point, and certainly not on a federal level.

As much as I hate to say it, if the administration won't back down on this point, then the bishops need to close the institutions that aren't covered. Immediately, so that the government doesn't have a chance to seize them. If Obama wants to get us out of the charity field, he's welcome to try, but under no circumstances should we provide him with the facilities he so desperately wants to pervert to immoral uses. I know it's harsh to withdraw so much good from the needy (who aren't to blame for this whole disaster in the first place), but if the alternative is to render unto Caesar the things that are God's, then I don't see that we have much choice.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Pissed off to the point of derangement

(Sorry for the language in this one. But I think it's warranted.)

You know, I promised when he was elected that I wouldn't succumb to Obama Derangement Syndrome. And I think I've stuck pretty well to that. I haven't mocked his teleprompter or claimed that he really was so stupid that he thought there were 57 states. I haven't freaked out at his every move and shouted that he was going to clap us all into concentration camps. Overall, I think I've been pretty respectful to the president.

But that ends now. I want that back-stabbing sonofabitch out of office, whether by election or impeachment. I want his name so besmirched that Democratic politicians will beg him not to endorse them. I want his legacy to be on a par with Nixon's. Catholics (not me, but plenty of others) tipped the scales in his favor in the election, and this is how he repays them?

On second thought, forget the Catholic part. I'm not angry on behalf of my church, but of my country. We're American citizens, God damn it, and we will not be stripped of our guarantee of free exercise of religion. Not by Barack Obama, and not by anybody else. If this be derangement, so be it.