Archives for July 2009

Today in Porn, "How Could You Do This To Me?" Edition.

The Wisconsin Poet sends in this gem from his own neck of the woods. (Alert: the language gets a little blue.) The Police Report keeps the prose nice and dry: “On 07-14-09 Rachel came home from work and found her boyfriend, Christopher, masturbating and watching pornographic movies on the TV. A verbal altercation ensued until Rachel took a knife out of the kitchen drawer. Rachel stabbed Christopher in the abdomen, slashed both of his arms, and scratched him on the neck and his right nipple. Christopher left the apartment and sought medical attention at GLMC.”

Money quote from Rachel: “You #@!*ing cheater! How could you do this to me? I let you live here!”


My brother was in town this weekend.


Coming soon: The Magdalena: the movie. Because The Magdalena: the comic book was not big enough to hold all the goodness. From Wiki:

“After the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Mary Magdalene, reputed to be his wife, gave birth to a daughter, Sarah. From this child is descended the holy lineage of the Magdalena. The Magdelena serves as the warrior and protector of the Catholic Church. The Magdalena has the ability to see into the human heart, to show people the error of their ways and give them the choice to redeem their sins. There is only one in a generation, and she alone stands against the evils of the world. Magdalena wields the Spear of Destiny, the spear that pierced the side of Christ, as a holy and formidable weapon against the twisted and the evil.”

I have got to figure out how to get me a piece of the Godsploitation action.

Alphonse issue two is funded.

Made it, and with five days to spare. I am humbled by and grateful for the support, and will do my durnedest to make something good from it. Production starts next week.

Korrektiv Cinema

Korrektiv writers Jonathan Webb, Rufus McCain, Quin Finnegan, and Henri Young attend a showing of Going My Way in 3D as part of the 52 Movies for the Year of the Priest film festival.

YouTube U

I wrote a story!

Oooh, fashion!

Today in Porn, Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood Edition

The American Catholic has unearthed a fine trove of Sanger quotations, including this gem:

“In my experience as a trained nurse while attending persons afflicted with various and often revolting diseases, no matter what their ailments, I have never found any one so repulsive as the chronic masturbator. It would be difficult not to fill page upon page of heartrending confessions made by young girls, whose lives were blighted by this pernicious habit, always begun so innocently, for even after they have ceased the habit, they find themselves incapable of any relief in the natural act. […] Perhaps the greatest physical danger to the chronic masturbator is the inability to perform the sexual act naturally.

In the boy or girl past puberty, we find one of the most dangerous forms of masturbation, i.e., mental masturbation, which consists of forming mental pictures, or thinking obscene or voluptuous pictures. This form is considered especially harmful to the brain, for the habit becomes so fixed that it is almost impossible to free the thoughts from lustful pictures.”

I think I may rename Today in Porn as Today in Lustful Pictures.


First Son, age twelve: “I understand why guys like girls. But why do girls like guys?”

San Francisco (1936)

I’m embarrassed to admit this is the first Clark Gable movie I’ve seen. What a freakin’ mensch that guy was! Gonna have to watch some more for sure. And the Gable/Tracy combo makes for some great screen-pal energy–which is raised to the third power when Jeannette MacDonald is added to the triangular mix: the tough rascal, the tougher priest, and the sublime lady. From the standpoint of our focus on the priest’s role, Spencer Tracy’s Fr. Mullin has much less screen time than his Fr. Flanagan in Boys Town; but in San Francisco the priest’s impact is arguably more profound–or at least operating more within Kierkegaard’s sphere of the religious, rather than within the more commonplace sphere of the ethical. Each appearance by Fr. Mullin represents a key turningpoint in the film’s development of the relationship between Blackie Norton (Gable) and Mary Blake (MacDonald) as well as Blackie’s progress from hard-headed unbelief towards a collision with faith. Perhaps the two key parallel scenes in this regard are (1) when we are first introduced to Fr. Mullin engaging in some recreational boxing with Blackie and knocking him down and (2) when Fr. Mullin intervenes to stop Blackie from exploiting Mary, and gets punched in the face by Blackie (see the above YouTube clip). The film has some odd time disjunctures (it sometimes seems as if much time is passing, but at other times it seems only a day or two has passed). The earthquake and its aftermath which bring the film to a close also seem oddly timed. But ultimately it is quite a charming, fascinating film with a struggle of faith vs. unbelief–and an interesting priestly presence–at its core.

Overall grade: A-
The Priest Factor: A-

[Return to 52 Movies for the Year of the Priest home page.]


From Second Daughter, age three: “Daddy, when I go to sleep, I disappear. Then when I wake up, I come back.”

New Dappled Things

Well, now. The good people at Dappled Things have a new issue out, and it looks to be a fine one. Naturally, they start out with a poem from The Wisconsin Poet, and then use his mention of skeletal cathedrals to segue into this illustrated essay by architect Matthew Alderman on the project that won him the Rambusch Prize for Sacred Architecture, a never-to-be-built(?) seminary for the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest in, of all places, La Crosse, Wisconsin. A snippet:

“I have retained my old loves, but added new ones—a deep interest in the later Gothic revival, an occasional taste for art deco, an eagerness to take on the austere and simple, when reality necessarily intrudes. But I would have never gotten here had I not first tackled this grand paper project. Architectural decorum reminds us that a grand building requires grand ornament—something I still firmly believe—but grand ornament requires funding that is not always at hand. To design a beautiful, strong, and simple structure, you must design a beautiful, strong, and complex one first, and then carefully, gently, and logically remove all the bits reality cannot quite handle yet. This is how you pack as much as you can into as little as you may have been given. The simplicity of the California missions could not have blossomed without the exuberance of Mexico’s cathedrals before it. And we may yet have that glorious, busy exuberance in small doses, as the classical revival continues to grow outward and upward, as the Institute brings Baroque Rome to Chicago, or converted Anglicans plant English Gothic parishes in Texas.”

But wait, there’s more! Dappled Things President Bernardo Aparicio and EIC Katy Carl interview Carlos Eire, whose memoir Waiting for Snow in Havana won the Pulitzer Prize:

KC: What would you say to the (presumably Catholic) reader who might be put off by the repetition of “Jesus H. (adjective here) Christ”? It seems that there is a highly specific purpose in these repetitions, and that they are not intended to be irreverent—that you had a purpose so strong that it compelled you to take the risk of being read as irreverent. Can you talk about that?

CE: That’s the Jesus prayer, pure and simple. I’m hoping, in a very jesuitical way, to—as St. Ignatius of Loyola would say—to go fishing. He used to go “fishing for souls”—that’s what he would call it. He would go [out] and he’d corral people on the street and try to talk to them in their own language, and he’d sometimes start by being irreverent to hook them in. Fishing for souls. I had that very much in mind with “Jesus H.” There’s a way in which this is the ultimate irony—that people in our culture have this very brittle, extremely brittle, notion of Jesus as totally serious and totally serious about himself—which I think is so wrong, so utterly wrong. All you have to do is look at a crucifix and you realize, “My God, this is a reversal of all values.” . . . If God became a human being to suffer and be like us, it’s because there’s something so wrong here that needs to be fixed. It’s the ultimate emptying, kenosis—and that has to be taken so seriously. So if I joke about Jesus in a lighthearted way, it’s not out of irreverence, it’s out of the deepest possible reverence, hoping that in the same way as the Incarnation—against reason—it might actually get the message across to someone who doesn’t like Christianity. That there’s something in there that accepts the humor and the mocking and the self-abasement. What such people think Christianity is all about is the church lady on Saturday Night Live. I wanted to go the opposite direction from the church lady. (laughs) I may actually at some point do a book called “Jesus H.” It’ll be sort of a meditation on the passages of the Gospels with all the most ridiculous things Jesus does. Jesus H. Fish-eating Christ. Jesus H. Whip-making Christ. All these things that Jesus does that are somehow bizarre.

Alphonse in the news.

Interview is up over at The American Catholic. Many thanks to Darwin Catholic for the interest.

Q: Though I don’t want to overplay the evangelization aspect of this (who was it who said, “If you want to send a message, use Western Union”?) but what do you want people to come away from Alphonse with — but as a Catholic and as an author more generally?

A: My fondest hope is that this is a story that will linger in the reader’s mind after he or she has finished it and walked away.

I could say that I’d like it to give readers an enlarged sense of the world, but that’s awfully hifalutin.

I could say that I’d like it to give readers on both sides a better sense of the opposition – and if the characters are actually characters, as opposed to cardboard cutouts; if the story really is a story, as opposed to propaganda, then it’s certainly possible it will have that effect. But that’s more of a byproduct. It’s not why I’m doing this.

So I’ll stick with the lingering.


In other news: 10 days remaining over at Kickstarter. We might just make it.

don’t go there

Boys Town

Overall I found Boys Town much less satisfactory — more dated and sappily moralizing — than Angels with Dirty Faces. In both movies, any sense of religious transcendence, faith, or sacrament — as represented by the priest — is trumped by the weight of the ethical. In Boys Town, this is made clear in the first scene. Spencer Tracy as Fr. Flanagan (the movie states at the outset that the story is based on that of a real priest) is called in to hear the confession of a convict about to be executed. But no confession is ever really heard, at least none that is shown on film. Instead, the convict issues an impassioned indictment of “the system” responsible for turning him into a hardened criminal and setting him on a path that has ended on death row. When the condemned man asks Fr. Flanagan if he is afraid of death, the answer remains steadfastly in the ethical sphere: “I’ve made mistakes, but I’ve always been sorry for them and I’ve tried to make up for it.” No mention of what one might hope a priest might reference in this context: God, Christ, grace, mercy, Jesus’ words to the thief on the cross, confession, absolution, last rites. The dramatic purpose of the scene is to launch Fr. Flanagan on his crusade to treat the root of the problem by saving boys from the evil system — hence “Boys Town” is born and flourishes Utopia-like … until Whitey Marsh (a young but nevertheless annoying Mickey Rooney) shows up. (Fr. Flanagan to Whitey late in the movie: “It was a sad, bad day when I brought you here.”) Spoiler alert: Whitey turns good in the end and is even elected mayor of Boys Town. Before that happens, however, Boys Town has developed into a sort of institutional Leave it to Beaver writ large, with a pinch of Catholic guilt and a couple of scenes that might set off one’s post-scandal alarms just a bit.

Overall grade: D+
Priest factor: C-

[Return to 52 Movies for the Year of the Priest home page.]

AP Report on MURG Beer Study

Today in Porn, No Seriously, My Work is Finished Edition

JOB passes along this World of Warcraft-themed ditty, “The Internet is for Porn.” Language advisory, etc.

Catholic Fiction?

Commonweal, which my Dad used to read with great interest back when he was a fiery undergraduate at Siena College (publishing an underground newspaper, no less!), and which no doubt deserves praise that is both less faint and more recent than that, is returning to its old practice of publishing short fiction in its pages. They got Alice McDermott! And to celebrate, they’re putting it up online for free!