Is It a Sin to Enjoy This?

Nah. Guilty pleasure, maybe. Vicious delight, no.

Let’s face it, the “culture war” is in the main between psuedo-Christians, i.e., heretics who really do “pick and choose” (though the charge is irrelevant here, since homosex is also condemned in the NT) and pagans (most likely lapsed Catholics in the main, esp. in Hollywood) who are actually smarter than the pseudo-Christians. Jesus waving goodbye to both sides and saying “See ya later, sinners?” Nice. Calling out fundamentalism as an intellectual house of cards? Nicer. Not to mention that in this country it really does come down to money (it has to, really; that’s the house we built), so the final cynicism is really quite justified. Plus, as a musical “(a)morality play,” it’s rather well put together — as well as something like this can be.

So what’s not to like? Only that the pagans are illiterate (not saying there’s no vincible ignorance here…but then, how much ignorance really is vincible? There’s so much damage out there…). So let’s belly up to the gay bar, Catholic artists, and have a few drinks (maybe after working on a few sets) with the sodomites and those who heart them; who knows what words we might get in edgewise, especially when we’re not actually preaching the Gospel, i.e., with chapter and verse.

That said, it has to be acknowledged that there’s a new blacklist shaping up in Hollywood. Things look like they’re about to get a little un-lovey. Not to mention unprofessional. If Hollywood ever was professional. Meaning that if we really are on the edge of the apocalypse, conversions may be very few and far between from here to the end.

POSTSCRIPT: I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that there’s something inspired about this little ditty…not only because it depicts (even if beside-the-point-edly) the inadequacy of the “right” side of the culture war, but because it also tells on the other side.

Todd Haynes’ Safe (1995) is a film that Haynes is on record describing as an allegory for how people with AIDS are treated like pariahs. But not only was Safe manifestly about the isolation of abstracted modern man, the most manifestly abstract character in that film was the film’s gay “guru,” who exiled the tragically horrific faceless outcast pictured above for what amounted to his refusal to think positively. In short, Safe was art, because it told the truth, the director’s stated intentions notwithstanding.

Now consider that the finale of “Prop 8: The Musical” trades on the anticipation of a flood of gay divorces (and the accompanying demand for “tattoo removing”). It wouldn’t be funny if it weren’t true, right? I mean, that gay relationships tend to be a bit unstable (yes, even more so than today’s hetero relationships, which have queered their sex through contraception)? Just as gays tend to be a little over-the-top (e.g., tattoos, the four white horses, the musical number itself)? Will and Grace traded in such verities, didn’t it? And yet the truth that works is also a truth that hurts! Did you notice that Doogie literally “ducks”/”dodges” (i.e., diverts attention from) the self-inflicted gay-divorce barb? I’ve even seen defenders of gay “unions” try to claim that male homosexual couples don’t really practice sodomy all that much…maybe precisely because it’s just as ridiculous/unseemly as it’s “depicted” in the musical number!

In short, the vid is as damning to gays as it is to bible-thumpers…most especially when it comes to the divorce problem, which no homosexual with a romantic bone in his/her body wants to defend at the very same time s/he’s arguing for the god(dess)-given right to marry…even as s/he’d be darned if s/he let anybody tell her/im s/he couldn’t get divorced if s/he wanted to! Which makes the following video not only astonishingly consistent in its argument, but appallingly hypocritical in its strategy:

Here endeth the postscript. I’ll make the next one a post.

Bragging Rights

Our cousin is the new Director of Vocations for the NY Archdiocese. Things there look good (on the Interweb, anyway). So did the brochure that everybody in Yankee Stadium got in their “gift pouch” (which pouch also included an “emergency” poncho/windbreaker, thank God). It was as smart as it was beautiful (much like the site; much text and many pics in common). Of course, for something like this, beautiful is smart; it’s about desire, people. (It was attractive to me, and I’m both deliriously hitched and pater of a familias of seven!) Wish I could post the cover photo (couldn’t find it on the site): Taxicabs whizzing past St. Patrick’s. Quintessential Church-in-New-York, which is to say, quintessential New York.

McBrayer With Me Here.

If you haven’t seen this, you should. (Keeping the vid off G-body, ‘cuz it might be said to ride the line. Even if in a good way.) Because the truth is that nobody can enjoy something like this as much as someone who actually delights in innocence (such as exists between, say, young newlyweds cavorting in the fields of love; again, see vid).

Innocence here is the visual gag (pictures don’t fit the music), but it’s more than funny. It’s truth. Which actually makes it more funny. Even as it’s not true at all (i.e., with respect to the whoredom of Carey). But then, Carey does tell on herself a bit here–plus there are moments when she seems to be actually playing, rather than playing someone playing–so more truthy delights here too? (But then again, how much better is a truthful whore than a lying whore?)

Bonus heartbreak: McBrayer is gay. Which is probably the only way the imagery could have come off as so delightfully pure. Any guy who wasn’t bent the other way probably couldn’t have pulled it off.

Meanwhile, Back Upstate… (NOT ABOUT ROME.)

…New Yorker cartoonists Marshall and Emily recently got married, had a baby and moved back upstate (he’s from Ithaca). So says the Ithaca Times interview (the “complete interview” was supposed to be online–but from the look of the Ithaca Times Art Blog, things may have gotten a little mixed up by their assistant Mary J. Wanna). Emily’s Blogger profile doesn’t yet indicate their return to their roots, but her last blog entry (a few months after getting married…busy mom?) does.

It just gets more and more interesting around here…

UPDATE: Found this, at least.

We Interrupt This Breathtakingly Beautiful and Annoyingly Idyllic Trip to Rome To Bring You… (NO, NOT ROME…)

…the latest casualty of the Iraq War: Jessica Queller’s breasts. Because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of flesh. Or something. (Little known fact: The likelihood of Saddam Hussein developing WMDs from that great big nuclear stockpile of his was figured at 85.9 percent. So it actually makes perfect sense that Jessica declared war on her boobs.)

Anybody watch Felicity? Gilmore Girls? Gossip Girl? Are these shows as aborticontraceptively insane as their writer/producer? Is life imitating art imitating life here? (I’d catch up with iTunes, but I’m not getting paid for this.)

P.S.: Come to the farm. Soon. (For one thing, The Hollywood Farmer has a few seats to fill in the writers’ room.)

(Now semi-bi-locating–if that’s not a double-negative–at THF.)

Buy It Now.

Because both my brother and my wife are in it. Gosh, so many smart people in my family. I feel like The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being Stupid between two bookends by Rodin.

Yesterday’s Comics Today

Literally. This went online January 31.

I think Godsbody readers should write in.

Actually, I think God-Man joining Human-Man in his descent down the stairs is a beautiful image of God entering into the human condition…you know, the divine con-descension…

UPDATE: They closed the letters page. Somebody checked Technocrati, saw Godsbody was linking there and quickly closed debate before the Godsbody literati could descend (NOTE ALLUSION TO PREVIOUS THEOLOGICAL PUN) upon them…

A Word From Matt

via Mark:

Godsbody is experiencing ridiculous quantities of ridiculously technical difficulties. Well, just one, actually, but it’s keeping me from posting anything at all. Still trying to figure out if this is a sign from God that I should stop blogging and get to work. I’m slow that way.

Me, I’m still trying to figure out whether the fact that my unshorn brother looks like Michael Sera (from the nose up–OK, from the hair up) is a sign from God that he should have dropped out of TAC his freshman year and started that acting career that Mom and Dad talked him out of.

Good Grief, Part Deux.

All apologies if someone has already said what I’m about to say. But I’m feeling the need to vent.

The stupidity of the “furor” over Benedict’s remarks to the Representatives of Science at the University of Regensberg “leaves us astounded” (to borrow Benedict’s phrase), and doesn’t give much reason for hope in dialogue with Islam. (Amy has, BTW, excerpted an interview with Kaspar on the prospects of dialogue with Islam–and it appears Kaspar’s new position of responsibility has contributed greatly to his appreciation of the difficulty of achieving unity with this religion.) For an interlocuter, first of all, has to be able to understand what you’re saying. And in this case, the defenders of Islam have demonstrated either a troubling lack of capacity for, or an appalling lack of interest in, understanding.

For one thing, they haven’t understood that Benedict was quoting the opinion of someone else, the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, who in 1391 recorded his own dialogue with an equally erudite Persian Muslim. To quote the emporer (as Benedict did) on the unreasonableness of the coercion of religious assent: “Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats… To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death…”

For another, they haven’t understood why Benedict brought up Islam here at all: He was speaking to a group of scientists about the unity of faith and reason–a unity which Muslims have been famously uninterested in (another bad sign for dialogue with Islam–which religion, BTW, is not even in unity with itself, according to Kaspar). Here is Benedict again quoting someone else on this point:

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God’s nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes the work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez [a quote within the quote!], who points out that Ibn Hazm went so far as to state [and now a quote within the quote within the quote!] that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God’s will, we would even have to practise idolatry.

In my opinion, if there’s anything here to take offense at, it’s the implication that Islam is non-rational (and it’s not even Benedict’s implication, but that of his scholarly authorities, one of which is Muslim!). And of course this is not the same thing as saying that Muslims are irrational…although you have to admit, what we’re seeing in Britian and the Holy Land right now might very well lead a person to ask: How rational a response to the Pope’s supposed condmenation of “bloody Islam” is any threat of violence towards the Pope or acts of violence toward Christian churches? If you don’t resemble that (supposed) remark, folks, then don’t resemble it. Furthermore, how does it make sense to be infuriated with anyone for suggesting (which Benedict was not suggesting, but rather quoting someone else as observing) that Muslims sanction coercion in matters of religion, when in fact there are some Muslims who do (for Islam is not, according to Kaspar, monolithic, i.e., not every Islamic authority always teaches one and the same thing)?

The objector might reply: “Oh, come on…of all the examples of so-called ‘non-rationality’ in the world, the Pope just happened to bring up this one? And what about his quote from Manuel II Paleologus prior to the one you’ve quoted: ‘Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached’? Was that really necessary? It all sounds pretty inflammatory to me.”

The obvious response (at least to me) is:

1) There’s never been a threat to Western science, or to Western religion vis-a-vis science–i.e., to reason and to faith–like the “two truths” theory of the renowned Muslim scientist-philosopher Averroes, who proposed that one could both hold a religious belief and acknowledge that science (or more broadly, reason) contradicted it. This fact alone makes Islam highly appropriate subject matter when addressing scientists (especially Christian ones);

2) Quite simply, in a scholarly talk (which is what this was), you head off objections, and that includes taking the wind out of possible ad hominem arguments by acknowledging (and even apologizing) for your authority’s “warts” (e.g., “Now I know my authority said this…and frankly, his “startling brusqueness” “leaves us astounded” [Benedict’s words]…but still he had this other, very wise thing to say…”). It may have been counterproductive to trot out this particular “wart,” i.e., may have created objections rather than heading them off, but can anyone honestly (if truth matters) or charitably (if charity matters) suggest that Benedict was “owning” what he claims to be “astounded” by? To seize upon the quote and ignore Benedict’s disclaimer seems like so much reading out of context…sort of like a fundamentalist…it even seems a little non-rational…??? (Hm, does that make the MSM a bunch of irrational fundamentalists?…)

Apparently surah 2, 256 reads: “There is no compulsion in religion.” Is there a surah that reads something like “If you would not be mistaken for an unreasoning fundamentalist, do not act like one”?

From The Red Rose Theater

The You & Me Band appeared at the Rose Theater last night to send off the California Lickonas in grand fashion. Here’s the lyrics to “In Dreamland” by lead singer Finian Lickona (with cousins Monica and Kateri as back-up chorus):

In Dreamland
I can drive the tractor by myself (by myself)
In Dreamland
I can drive the tractor without help (without help)

I activate it with the key
Push the pedal (hee hee hee)
Turn it up to Rabbit speed
No – need – to – take warning
No – need – to – take heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed yeah!
I drive it around and around the fields
The steering wheel and pedal I wield

In Dreamland
I can drive the tractor by myself (by myself)
In Dreamland
I can drive the tractor without help
(with – out – heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelp!)

The audience went nuts.

And the back-stage after-party totally rocked. We ate brownies, drank lemonade and danced to Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper and Wham (courtesy of the Theater’s new ten-dollar turn-table and speakers).

Y’all come back now, y’hear?


Apparently my brother is too well-bred to bring up the distasteful subject of Melancholy Gibson’s recent mis-adventure–or perhaps the matter was simply judged not to be old enough news yet for Godsbody. In any event, it looks like it’s been (intentionally?) left to me, the less-refined of the Lickona brothers, to step up and do the dirty job that somebody’s got to do.

Actually, I don’t intend to do much more than to give everyone here who’s been aching to vent, kvetch or otherwise hold forth on this subject the forum in which to do so–other than getting the ball rolling with my two cents: I’ve got a sinking feeling that Gibson doesn’t have the best sort of relationship with his father. If Gibson is indeed an alcoholic, i.e., deeply troubled–if he really is someone with a “dark side” which he rejects when he’s in control but which takes control when he’s not–his upbringing likely has something to do with it, as it usually takes a parent to really screw somebody up.

Why do I suspect it’s Dad rather than Mom who’s the trouble? Because of the anti-Semitic tinge to the madness by which Gibson seems to have been possessed. In that moment of despair it seems to me he was lashing out like his Dad would have lashed out. In other words, I’m afraid he may have Dad’s voice in his head, so to speak–an affliction often suffered by sons of fathers with strong personalities–and in that moment of weakness this was the voice he was listening to.

Many of Gibson’s films feature a man who can’t be put down no matter how badly he’s beaten. I don’t think I’m the first to wonder whether this is because Gibson experiences himself as oppressed, whether the stories he tells are his way of fighting back, of refusing to knuckle under. If that were true, then the question would be: By whom is he oppressed? Indeed, who could oppress Mel Gibson? God? Or perhaps the one who represented (represents?) God to him?

Love and hold forth as you will. And pray for him.

A Little Miracle

Lately Matt’s been posting, here and there, directly and indirectly, about Red Rose Farm. Tonight was the first major family gathering at the place since wife Lisa and I took possession and gave the place its new name –a little “grown-up party” (thanks to two expert sitters) with me and Lisa, Matt and D., Uncle Grammy–I mean Uncle Terry–and Aunt Cheryl and hubby Chad. At dinner’s end Mom and Dad sat back to back and, in a version of The Newlywed Game, delighted all of us with just how well each knew the other’s likes, dislikes, gifts, weaknesses, foibles. At night’s end, more than one party expressed a sort of delighted surprise at how easy, enjoyable, memorable the evening was. Not all of us share the Faith, there were old injuries to be recalled, even new causes for bitterness awaiting their cue–in short, plenty of dysfunction waiting in the wings. Yes, there was good wine, and of course there was no real occasion for reviewing our family’s history. But what won the day was our desire to be family–together with something about the place, about which Lisa (or I) may blog before long and for which I am grateful to God, since only He can be responsible for such mysteries. I report this for what it’s worth. These little miracles must be noted when they occur. They seem too few and far between not to.

UPDATE: Lisa’s farm blog is here.

Can We Talk?

About this?

P.S.: Don’t miss the link to the trailer at the bottom.

Trent Reznor on the Iraq War

What if this whole crusade’s
A charade
And behind it all there’s a price to be paid
For the blood
which we dine [sic]
Justified in the name
of the Holy and the Divine

– “The Hand That Feeds,” Nine Inch Nails

If I hear one more pop-culture diatribe about how oppressed/mollified we are by the so-called “powers that be” (e.g., V for Vendetta, another song like this one), I just might puke. Now, materialism (and its appeal to our irrational appetites)–that’s what makes slaves of us all. Government doesn’t control us; if anyone does the corporations do (directly–in their appeal to and their manipulation of our appetites–and indirectly–by way of their virtual control of government; they may even be the reason for the war in question here).

Write a song about that, Mr. Reznor.

(Or Mr. Lickona.)

Leave It To The Japanese

to take our technology to places we didn’t know we wanted it to go. And you know we want it to. Because we like to be told how to feel–e.g., by soundtracks (come on, admit it, you wish your life had one; it’s why we always keep one earbud in)–so why not by this?

Actually, I think this could be just as effective at stimu-manipu-lating emotion as music (what makes you more nostalgic, for example, than the smell of Grandma’s house?)–assuming, of course, you can forget you’re being fumigated. Hey, if people dig aroma-therapy, they’ll love aroma-theater, eh?

Personally, I can’t imagine that Terrence Malick would care for this much. But then, I haven’t seen this latest offering of his; perhaps he’s made the perfect piece of cine-crap to go with this sort of thing.

From the Way-Back Machine

In the spirit of Godsbody (Yesterday’s News Today!™), I thought I’d post something from today’s news (pretty much–the story’s still hot, anyway) that makes reference to yesterday’s posts (mine, natch).

What’s the Godsbody connection?

1. To “quote” Clooney (à la Arianna), “I’m [sort of] a liberal [too]; there, I said it.” (Shades of rants past.) Plus I think I’ve said some nice things about Clooney somewhere else on this blog. Like here. (Read a nice interview with Clooney recently in which he reveals that it meant more to him than anything else that his newsroom in Good Night and Good Luck passed muster with his anchorman dad.)

2. We were talking about bloggers and journalistic standards a while back. Clooney, everyone’s favorite movie journalist (esp. among journalists) here holds forth on the subject in a (proleptically) timely manner in February 2006 in Los Angeles Magazine:

You have to remember, the beauty of blogging is that they can fact-check a tremendous amount of things journalists say instantaneously, but who is their ombudsman? Who corrects them? Along the way an awful lot of crap gets out.

(Again, Yesterday’s News Today!™…or in this case, Yesterday’s News is Today’s!)

Yet Another Voice…

…testifying to what divorce does to kids. (Note that now-back-pedaling grand-boomer Judith Wallerstein has, in writing the foreword, given the imprimatur to GenXer Ms. Marquardt’s book.) Predictably, yet another defensive response to this witness has arisen–but this response is more obtuse than most. Here Jack Shafer, editor-at-large for Slate, “flips” the data in question in order to “deconstruct” what should be the common-sense conclusion that divorce adversely affects kids–even as the decidedly non-common-sensical implication of his “data-inversion” is that 96% of children from intact families felt like strangers in their own homes, while 99% of children from intact families felt like they didn’t have a home at all.

Actually, we can see in the last full paragraph that Shafer is indeed capable of doing the math, and he does, up to a point–the point where it stops being something he can use and starts being something that makes him look silly.

Denial ain’t just a non-acceptance of reality. It’s also a switching-off of the brain.

Outrageous, Part III.

Re: The old thread about bloggers and the future of news. The key line from this article describing news in the age of the “fourth wave”: “Less authoritative, more democratic.” Seems to be precisely the trade-off we were discussing.

Re: Our local nattering nabob of negativism. Or our resident offensensitive. In response to your objection to Matt’s observation about comedy and Jews (care to chime in, Ivy League and Jewish? If you’re still watching?), I hereby post the comments of Frank Deford (both in print and on NPR) on the subject of black athletes. I find his observations sound and his remarks unimpeachable myself, and yet for some reason Steve Inskeep of NPR’s Morning Edition followed Frank’s remarks with the unprecedented disclaimer, “That was the opinion of Frank Deford…” (as opposed to the usual “The comments of Frank Deford…”). Maybe Steve is acutely aware of how rabid is the average NPR listener. (Of course, since NPR itself is floated largely by MultiMegaCorps, Inc., I don’t really see the cause for Steve’s alarm. Maybe it’s a media thing.)