Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Typecasting

My cow-orker and I got into an interesting discussion today about who have been some of the most typecast actors and actresses. This was spurred by the appearance of Gary Coleman and his young wife on the Today Show for some reason. We decided that he'll always be Arnold from Diff'rent Strokes. So too Todd Bridges and Dana Plato from the same show, who both went on to brushes with the law.

A few others who got typecast:

Adam West: Did a number of other things, but will always be known as Batman.

The entire cast of Gilligan's Island, save Jim Backus (barely).

Sherman Helmsley: Despite the show Amen, he's stuck in memory as George Jefferson.

Gary Burghoff: I wonder how tired he gets of people calling him Radar.

Florence Henderson: I remember a blooper of her cutting a commercial, botching a line, and then saying something off color, and then following it up with, "Mrs. Brady swears!"

McLean Stevenson: Whereas playing Sherman Potter on MASH was a help to Harry Morgan's storied career, Henry Blake killed Stevenson's career before it really started. And the forgettable Hello, Larry didn't help matters any.

In the category of Fleeing From Typecasting, why do you think both Ron Howard and Henry Winkler went behind the cameras as a director and producer, respectively? And it's fortunate for Pat Morita that the role of Mr. Miyagi kept him from being known as Arnold (a different one).

Who else?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Don't Call It Rape

The term "rape" has been tossed around so much in recent years as to become devoid of its meaning. Thus I appreciate Heather MacDonald's nuking of the college-campus "all men are potential rapists" crusade: The Campus Rape Myth (HT: the ravishing MM).

I even remember at my college a few women crowing about "losing their right to walk the streets at night" (no, not in the pejorative sense). I submit, as does MacDonald, that such a perceived loss of a right occurred about the same time as women wanted no-consequence, promiscuous sex and did nothing to discourage men from exploiting them. (I think true feminism should have encouraged abstinence from both sexes, but I guess that didn't fit the feminist mantra.)

Let's get one thing straight: Rape is a horrible crime of violence, there's no place for it in society, and the perpetrators deserve appropriate punishment to the fullest extent of the law. Does rape happen? Yes. Do I know rape victims? Yes.

But let's stop creating it where it doesn't exist. Was there all sorts of hanky-panky going on behind closed doors at my college? Certainly, and sadly so for a Catholic Jesuit institution. But, along with MacDonald, I cannot believe that hundreds of women at my school were "raped."

Catholics slip to #2

I am so not surprised by this:

Evangelicals Outnumber Catholics

While one in three Americans are raised Roman Catholic, one in four adults describe themselves as such, a loss of 10 percent despite the huge numbers of Hispanic Catholic immigrants swelling American churches, survey researchers said.

Those who leave either drop out of church entirely or join Pentecostal or evangelical Protestant churches, Pew Forum director Luis Lugo said.

One out of every 10 evangelicals is a former Catholic, he said. Hispanic Catholics are leaving at higher rates; 20 percent of them end up in evangelical or Pentecostal churches.

"It's a desire for a closer experience of God," he said. "It's not so much disenchantment with the teachings of the Catholic Church but the pull of what they see in pentecostalism."
I fully believe the reason is the watering down of Catholic liturgy in the wake of Vatican II and the loss of mysticism in the Church, the de-emphasis of the Sacraments, and the averse reaction to spirituality that isn't so emotion-based (been there, done that). One way in which the Church would agree with Rick Warren is that It's Not About Us. But if you go to most Catholic churches today, you'll see that It's All About Us.

That's why I've become more of a traditionalist Catholic, and believe that the Church needs a major overhaul. But I believe His Holiness Benedict XVI is definitely part of that solution, and Catholicism will once again have something more to offer souls than merely "sharing a meal."

Monday, February 18, 2008

Oops . . .

File under irony:

A Frederick husband-and-wife team who established a national nonprofit organization in 2002 to assist survivors of violent crime have ended their partnership over allegations of domestic violence, according to court documents.
Thanks to the Frederick News-Pest for the laugh.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Death of a Pastor


Please pray for the repose of the soul of Fr. Wayne Funk, pastor of St. John The Evangelist parish in Frederick, who died yesterday.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.

". . . To Be Understood As To Understand"

When I read the Prayer of St. Francis, the hardest line for me to deal with is:

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek . . .
. . . to be understood as to understand . . .
I would soooo much rather be understood. But now, I think I have an understanding of a group of people that I didn't have before.

I was perusing a few blogs on St. Blog's Parish that I hadn't seen before, and one of them was that of Radical Catholic Mom. In this post, she gives a review of the book The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children For Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v Wade by Ann Fessler.

As a staunch and uncompromising pro-lifer, I consider my eyes opened.

I don't want to rehash RCM's post completely, but this caught my eye because my mom was telling me how severely girls were punished in the 50s for being pregnant, especially at her (Catholic) high school. They were expelled and made to surrender their children whether the girls wanted to keep them or not.

My argument has always been that maybe it's time to go back to that era, to stigmatize out-of-wedlock sex. But Fessler, and in turn RCM, point out that the wrong thing got stigmatized: the pregnancy rather than the sex. What happened to the boy/man involved? Not much, usually. So much for my argument.

As the post points out, it's small wonder that the anger of these women and those who knew them gave rise to the abortion movement that culminated in Roe v. Wade. Instead of making the girl disappear, now the baby could disappear and the girl could move on. I can see why that "choice" was made.

It seems that one thing that the pro-life and (at least some) pro-abortion activists agree on is the need to reduce the need for abortion. Leaving aside arguments about contraception, I guess what we need is a way to stigmatize fornication without all the scorn heaped on the expectant mom. Unfortunately, as Fessler also points out, pre- and extramarital sex has been a problem for longer than we think. It's just that there is an increasing belief that there's no problem with sex out of wedlock; it's almost expected these days. And about that we can argue.

But just as what happened to RCM, for the first time I think I really understand where my opponents in the abortion debate are coming from, and I feel for them or anyone they knew or are related to who was a victim of societal shunning or forced adoption. I hope that one day the pendulum can swing back to the middle, away from both the side of "anything goes" (where we are now) or the side of "we'll make an example out of you" (from the 50s).

And to any of my opponents, I ask your forgiveness for my inability to understand this. My position hasn't changed, but my eyes have been opened wider.

Friday, February 15, 2008

AIDS Is A "Gay Disease"? Who Knew?

Finally, someone in the so-called "gay lobby" gets a Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious:

Homosexual Leader Calls AIDS A "Gay Disease"

The comments were made last Friday at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's (NGLTF) national conference in Detroit by Executive Director Matt Foreman.

"Folks, with 70 percent of the people in this country living with HIV being gay or bi (sexual), we cannot deny that HIV is a gay disease," Foreman told his audience. "We have to own that and face up to that."
When I had mandatory AIDS Awareness Indoctrination Training with the government, the training was designed to uncouple the AIDS epidemic and social behavior, especially regarding those who engage in same-sex sex. And the way the training did so was to imply that AIDS somehow threatened everyone. I repeat: while the possibility of my contracting AIDS isn't zero, I think I stand as much chance of contracting it as I would death by hemlock . . . as long as I didn't drink the hemlock.

And for those who think I'm merely being "homophobic," I quickly add that I'm opposed to any social behavior that tries to abrogate responsibility for one's sexual actions. That list includes, but is not limited to, premarital sex, oral sex (which, as we all know, is not really sex), abortion, and contraception.

The target of all of this is clear: the destruction of marriage and the family as we know it.

My prior thoughts on the subject here.

Tolerance Good, Truth Bad?

I no longer have the G.K. Chesterton quote, "Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions," at the top of my blog. But it's no less true, as this National Catholic Register article shows. I hate to watch truth continue to be marginalized at the expense of Not Offending Anyone. As author Donald DeMarco says,

Tolerance can hardly be the first principle of human conduct. And it has never been the founding principle of any civilization. The Judeo-Christian God commands us to love, not to be tolerant.

This just in: Those aren't synonyms. And if Everything is right, how can Anything be right? It's just like this paragraph. I've bolded it all for emphasis, but if I emphasize everything, I emphasize nothing.

None of this is to say that I ought not be loving in standing up for what I believe, but capitulation or silence in the name of niceness is folly.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ice, Ice, Baby


(Image from the Washington Post Express)

On Tuesday night, this area suffered through the Worst. Ice Storm. Ever. (Well, actually, there was one last year that was worse, with 180,000 people losing power.) The forecasts were wrong, as usual, having said this would be an all-rain event by evening. That never happened. Every road was slick, with the surface temperature being colder than the air.

As a result, accidents of 15 to 20 vehicles became commonplace, our office was flooded with far more accidents than we could report (more on that in a bit), and several major highways were completely shut down in portions, most notably the Springfield Mixing Bowl (the convergence of I-95, the Beltway, and I-395 south of DC). The interchange was recently completely rebuilt, with numerous high flyovers to keep traffic moving. One small problem, however: All those flyovers, being bridges, froze right up. The whole contraption was a skating rink and was closed for hours, with rescue vehicles being unable to get to those stranded.

In our office, we couldn't keep up with all the accidents, and those that were in the system slowed it to a crawl as they all started aging off after a set period of time. Normally, three or four such events are flashing on the screen, reminding us to update them or clear them. During a rush, it can become 15 to 20. But on Tuesday, there were more than 50 expiring events.

We couldn't call any of the police or emergency services to verify anything, and they wouldn't have wanted us to call anyway because they were swamped in turn. So we just had to throw our hands up in despair. We got our drivers off the road as quickly as we could. Meanwhile, radio listeners were calling in complaining that our reports weren't mentioning the icy conditions. We had warnings of icy conditions all over the screen; we didn't have time to call the reporters in Philadelphia to reiterate this.

A good friend of mine wound up in an accident because of the ice, and at a local ER, she found that the emergency services were stretched way beyond their limits, with more incidents than ambulances could possibly respond to.

And now the blame game has started. With the Springfield mess, everyone is blaming VDOT. VDOT blames the weatherman, but is now apologizing nonetheless.

It was a night all of us, and all of the MD/DC/NoVA area, would just as soon forget, but those sitting on I-95, I-395, or the Beltway for up to 10 hours will have a hard time doing so. And at least I was only getting stressed out in my office, rather than on the road or in a hospital.

Do-Gooderism

Why am I such an anti-anti-smoker? Walter Williams puts it better than I ever could:

The issue of tobacco smoke nuisance is really a private property issue where the owner should decide how his private property shall be used, whether it's an office building, restaurant, bar or home. That's unless one group of people wishes to use the coercive powers of government, in the name of health or some other ruse, to impose its preferences upon others.
Amen. But here in the DPRMaryland, it's too late.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Talk about "straight talk"

Love these bumper stickers from SeeDubya, including:

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Hi, Bob

We've been watching the first couple seasons of The Bob Newhart Show on DVD. I was alive for the show and remember bits and pieces of it from my childhood, but I never understood what made it funny. And it really was a funny show, now making me laugh out loud regularly while watching it. (Hogan's Heroes, another old sitcom that I enjoy, rarely makes me laugh out loud.)

What TBNS had was something missing from a lot of TV today: timing. Often, if the lines that make me laugh are lifted out of context, they're not funny at all. It's the way in which they're delivered, who delivers them, and when that makes me laugh. It's a subtle show, unlike MASH which had all the subtlety of a Sherman (Potter) tank. And Bob Newhart himself is the king of subtle; even on TV, you still have to use your imagination to enjoy the character of Dr. Robert Hartley, Ph.D.

The casting was so well done, with kind-hearted Bill Daily (Howard, the navigator) and Pete Bonerz (Jerry, the orthodontist) having the incredible knack for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. As Carol the secretary administrative assistant, Marcia Wallace pushed back the stereotypes of her position, with hilarious results. Then there's the independent-minded but incredibly devoted Emily, Bob's wife as played by Suzanne Pleshette. (Or, should I say, there was. We started watching TBNS maybe a week before Pleshette's death at age 70 from lung cancer.) Not to mention Bob's nutty therapy group, his own Dream Team long before there was such a movie.

Like with his later series Newhart, TBNS shows me that sometimes, the rest of the world can be crazy-go-nuts, and only Bob--and me as the viewer--are sane. Things that should never be said, are. People show up exactly when they shouldn't (how many meals does Howard owe the Hartleys, anyway?). And the unexpected is to be expected . . . but never overdone.

Finally, I enjoy how TBNS showed the changing roles of men and women in the early and mid-70s. How often would a male next-door neighbor chat alone with, say, Mary Tyler Moore on The Dick Van Dyke Show? Well, Howard never thought anything of confiding in Emily. Bob is also depicted as having to deal with numerous women clients, a couple of whom fall for him.

And in spite of all that, the only ones jumping into bed with each other are Bob and Emily . . . as they should. But they did so with subtlety, not the in-your-face blatantness that rules TV today.

I recommend buying, renting, or borrowing the TBNS DVDs. Unless you think CBS' current Monday night lineup is as good as TV comedy gets, you'll love seeing Bob and company for the second, or first, time.

Father Forgets

I'm not a parent, but if I were, I would definitely have to memorize this essay. How many times have I expected too much out of others . . . and myself?

Father Forgets

Something to think about on this Ash Wednesday.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Now, would you turn your head and cough?

From York County, Pennsyltucky comes this brilliant would-be bank robber who obliged the teller and removed his hood that was covering his face when asked. And it's on video, no less!

Maybe more tellers should try that when confronted with such a scofflaw.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Fred Barnes, Neo-Elitist

I'm so done with Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard, Fox News, and the McLaughlin Group.

First, he told us conservatives to shut up and accept shamnesty for illegals.

Now, he's telling us conservatives to shut up and accept John McCain as the Anointed GOP Nominee. After all, it's His Turn and he's a Great American Hero (hello, 1996, anyone?).

Look, we conservatives don't believe McCain when he says he's strong on border security. And if he's so pro-life, why did he sponsor unconstitutional legislation (McCain-Feingold) that took the voice of pro-life groups out of the campaign process?

Like other GOP elites, Barnes excoriates what he calls "the talk-radio Mafia" for ripping McCain as much as it has. But what else are we who don't want McCain forced on us supposed to do? In fact, the more that Barnes and his ilk try to foist McCain on us, the more I resist.

What Barnes and others don't understand is that we conservatives are very unhappy with the state of play in the campaign. We want a Reagan. We don't have a Reagan, but does that mean we're wrong for wanting one? To Barnes and others, the answer is yes. Why is it so wrong to say that this lot of candidates isn't who we want? (BTW, didn't you used to be Rudy Giuliani?)

I only wish Mike Huckabee wasn't such an ignoramus on foreign policy, or I'd support him. He'd be a President that the Barneses of the world couldn't suck up to and have influence over.

That, I think, is why Barnes is so upset. He can't influence talk radio, the voice of the average citizen. He can allow very few letters to be published in the Weekly Standard, a magazine that I've subscribed to for the past 10 years. I might have to rethink my subscription.

And so help me, I'll sit out this election if McCain is the nominee. Then, if Clinton or Obama win, who has to grow up? I nominate Fred Barnes.

Another Amazing Race Summary

My Reality TV World summary for the finale episode of The Amazing Race 12 is available here. Enjoy.

Super Bowl Sunday

(am I gonna get sued by the NFL for that?)

Originally, I was going to have to deliver pizza for the Super Bowl, but it turned out that I wasn't needed. So I took advantage of the rare off day to sleep in a bit, go to the Grotto of Lourdes for Mass, sleep a bit more, and then join my mom and dad to watch the game on their new HDTV. It's only 19 inches, the size of the new monitor that I have, but it was still impressive.

My dad and I were able to overlook the hype by watching the exciting finish of the FBR Open not far from the Super Bowl, where J.B. Holmes made consecutive birdies on the 18th hole to beat Phil Mickelson in sudden death. This guy Holmes can crush a ball off the tee.

The golf ended just in time for the National Anthem and coin flip.

We were all rooting for the Gi'nts, and we weren't disappointed with the outcome; what a thrilling game and a huge upset for the G-Men! I cannot believe how much my septuagenarian mother gets into the game: "Oooh, get him! C'mon, guys! Go, go . . . oh, no!" I guess she feels a little less restrained now that we kids are older.

We nixed the Tom Petty halftime show and watched an episode of The Bob Newhart Show instead (see separate post). The timing again was perfect, with the show finishing just before the second-half kickoff. Dad appreciated being able to follow along with the use of the Newhart DVD's subtitles.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

It's A Wonderful Foreclosure


Michelle Malkin nails it with this column about how both parties are bending over to bail out those who face foreclosure because of sub-prime loans that they can't now afford because the increases have come due.

I think the media has made most of these people out to be like Bedford Falls residents who were hoodwinked by Henry Potter. But the red flags about ARMs and reverse mortgages were sounded years ago, and many just ignored them. And I don't think the government could ever be anything like George Bailey if it tried.

In fact, as Malkin points out, here's where Bailey-ism as practiced by the government has gotten us:

In California some of these homeowners Washington is rushing to rescue reportedly are simply walking away — abandoning their mortgage commitments and contractual obligations. Poof: "Foreclose me. ... I'll live in the house for free for 12 months, and I'll save my money and I'll move on," one homeowner blithely told the Los Angeles Times this week.

The stigma of default is gone. Political rhetoric absolving borrowers of their responsibilities — and encouraging them to spend, spend, spend even more — has made it possible. And so has federal legislation intended to "help." The omnibus spending bill passed last year prevents the Internal Revenue Service from taxing mortgage forgiveness as income up to $1 million for a two-year period.

And from personal experience, these are often the people who adopt a scorched-earth policy of trashing their house before leaving, in a fit of, "If we can't live here, no one's gonna live here." We saw such houses before we got married; one had all the baseboards torn up, while another one featured a living room painted fire-engine red.

I think a little more Potter-ism is called for with these foreclosures.