Friday, March 31, 2006

Everything You Need To Know...

...about Mr. "Savage."

I just had to pass this one on. From the website of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights (www.catholicleague.org).

"MICHAEL SAVAGE(S) CATHOLICISM

"Here is what radio talk-show host Michael Savage had to say on March 28 about the Catholic Church’s response to the immigration issue:

"It is a pig story! It’s animal farm all over again. And also make no bones about it, it’s the greedy Catholic Church that was behind it because the people of America walked away from the molesters’ dens and they need to bring in people from the Third World who are still gullible enough to sit there and listen to the molesters…the Roman Catholic Church was behind this, the Roman Catholic Church started this a year ago. The Roman Catholic Church flooded the streets because they cannot get parishioners anymore amongst educated white people who have caught onto the racket and instead they need to import dummies to sit in the church pews. That’s the story and it is not difficult for you to understand—I’m telling you the truth. It’s all about greed. It’s greed at the top of the Catholic Church.

"Make no mistake about why this is happening. This has nothing to do with compassion for Mexican workers. This has nothing to do with fairness for Mexican workers—it has to do with the greed…. That’s all there is to it. And that includes the Catholic Church pigs. And if you don’t like it, don’t listen to the show—I really don’t care anymore. I’m not going to be duped by this sanctimonious garbage that all churches are good and that the institution itself is good. Bah humbug. The institution is rotten from the top to the bottom."

Catholic League president Bill Donohue responded as follows:

“I was scheduled to be on with Mike Savage the day he savaged the Catholic Church and made bigoted comments about Latinos. But in the pre-interview—which occurred just a half hour before Savage went ballistic—I let a producer know that I did not share the host’s position; after he checked with Savage, I was told they would not have me on the show. That was fine, but what is not fine is Savage’s diatribe about the ‘greedy pigs’ in the Catholic Church and how ‘the institution is rotten from the top to the bottom.’ He owes all Catholics an apology.”


****

[Sigh.]

I really don't have any desire to become one of the self-designated Defenders of the Catholic Church out there. Anti-Catholicism exists. Anyone who's been paying attention over the past, what, 20? 30? 100? years knows that. What are you going to do? There are always going to be people who just don't get it. It's sad; it's occasionally sick-making, especially when the media fawn all over the more hate-filled Anticatholics out there. It's one more thing to pray about.

We also know, with the scandals of the last few years, that the officials of the Church in America have done a fine job of making life harder for everyone else. We have, in all frankness, been shamefully betrayed by some of our leaders. I don't know any Catholic who would dispute that.

But give me a break. The Catholic Church is controlling immigration protests? How organized does Mr. Weiner- sorry, Mr. "Savage," cute pseudonym-- think the bishops are? And Mexicans are "dummies"? OK, so a lot of Latinos vote for Democrats. But that doesn't necessarily mean they have no intellectual ability whatsoever, as Mr. "Savage" implies.

I gotta get back to my Italy book. More on this later.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Fluffy-Tailed Little B*stards

I'm trying very hard not to obsess about squirrels.

Last fall I planted some 200 tulip bulbs in front of my house. Full disclosure: actually, I paid someone a ridiculous amount of money to plant 200 tulip bulbs in front of my house. "Just wait 'til spring," he said. "It will be glorious."

So Saturday I went out and counted: there are over 50 perfect little holes in my yard.

Squirrels. Eating my tulip bulbs.

My property is infested with squirrels. I blame the local tree-huggers who disguise themselves as Tree Service Guys. We had a couple of them here last fall. "Take down that one and that one," we said, pointing to the looming oaks that overshadow our house.

"Oh no. We can't do that. Oaks like that are rare in Minnesota. We just couldn't take them down. What would the folks at the Arboretum say?"

Well, we wanted to fit in in Minnesota. So we let the trees live. Creating, as every rodent in Minneapolis apparently knows, a 24-hour acorn buffet.

Now, it's one thing to be Squirrel Central if all they want to do is eat acorns. But when they go after my tulip bulbs- well.

This means war.

By the end of the weekend I concluded that my previous squirrel elimination method- running around the front yard yelling and throwing rocks- was not working very well.

Plan A being a flop, I went on to Plan B.

Last night I went rummaging through all the boxes in the garage until I found it: one of those supersonic animal annoyers. You know, those little boxes you plug in and they supposedly emit a sound that humans can't hear but bugs the hell out of vermin. I plugged it in the outlet that I think must be meant for Christmas lights in the front porch and turned it on.

I suppose the only thing to do is count the holes again and see if the gadget was any kind of deterrent.

If not...hm.

I do have a bb gun in the garage....

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Some Of My Irish Stuff

True story:

About fifteen years ago my husband's parents went to Ireland. (My mother-in-law's parents were from Mayo. Father-in-law's family were Neapolitans.)

One night in Dublin they went into an "Italian" restaurant and ordered the "pizza."

The waitress disappeared. She was gone a long time.

Finally she returned, with an apologetic look on her pretty face.

"Oh sir," she said. "I'm so terribly sorry, sir. But it seems--

"It seems we're all out of cheddar cheese!

"Would it be all right if they used the mozzarella instead?"

Monday, March 20, 2006

Minnesota Pat's

Friday was St. Patrick's Day. On Saturday my sister called and asked me how it went.

"Weird," I told her. " I saw two women decked out in orange outfits. It was kind of depressing."


I guess it isnt' really much of a big deal here. Sure, there were ads for "St. Paddy's Day Specials" and the occasional shamrock in a store window, but it was nothing like the East Coast. As I was driving to a morning meeting I caught a bit on the radio about the parade in in NYC. A skirl from the bagpipes and for the first time since I moved here I felt genuinely homesick.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Another Bust?

Today's New York Times gives us "When Moviegoers Vote With Their Feet," a musing on the future of film. Audiences for which, as most of us know by now, have been steadily declining for the past three years.

It refers to this summer's upcoming "blockbusters," in particular the Pixar animated film, "Cars."

Now, I have seen three seperate trailers for that movie over the past six months or so. And I still have no idea what it's supposed to be about. I suspect the filmmakers don't, either.

It never ceases to amaze me that people can spend millions of dollars and all that time on a film, and nowhere along the line does anyone realize the project is a disaster and call a halt to it. Or maybe they try to, but forge ahead anyway.

But what really baffles me is this: there are a lot of talented writers around. Where do all these lousy scripts come from?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Science!

The St. Brigid's Homeschooling Association had their Science Fair this past Sunday. They held it in the basement of the church. Since it was also Donut Sunday, I was there.

The projects were a pretty mixed bag. I think one kid intended to explain "genealogy." The family she chose was that of Therese Martin, known to the world as St. Therese of Lisuex. Since she and all her sisters became nuns, there was only one generation. Makes the project easier, I guess.

Another project was "Ice Fishing." No, really. A family took photos of their last ice fishing expedition. It listed the necessary equipment, including a drill to make a hole in he ice with, and their favorite lures.

You just don't see stuff like that on Long Island.

A girl came up with a display about the terracotta army from the tomb of Shi Huangdi, of the Qin dynasty. Money quote: "Shi Huangdi wanted China to become modern. He killed over 400 scholars to ensure modernization." Hm. Maybe he was onto something.

But the best project was the Potato Cannon. A couple of boys built a potato cannon, following instructions in "Backyard Ballistics." [You can find this homeschooling classic at www.backyard-ballistics.com.]

After listing a few important rules ("Never look down the barrel!"), the boys gave their mission statement.

"Why We Chose This Project: we like to shoot stuff and watch things explode."

A scientist should have clear goals.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Disney Weekend Part II

Then on Sunday we took Sophia and a kindergarten friend to see "Disney On Ice," featuring The Incredibles. How much does it tell you about "The Shaggy Dog" that the ice show was more interesting?

I spent a few minutes talking to one of the merchandise guys- you know, the people who sell all the t-shirts and Mickey Mouse ears at these things. He'd been working for the company that handles this stuff for over 20 years. Nine months out of every year he and the other salespeople travel the country, setting up in big arenas and peddling Disney wares. The other three months he gets to go home.

We talked a little about the price of circus lights. Remember circus lights? A kind of flashlight with a revolving metal disk over the bulb. The disk would changed the color of the light to red and blue and back to red again. Kids would flash them all through the show. "It was nice," he said, "it looked pretty, the stands all it up like that."

I said I hadnt' seen many flashing that day.

"No, " he sighed. "When I first started selling them they were $2.50. Now they're twenty bucks. Families can't afford that."

The Incredibles looked pretty strange as skaters. Especially Mr. Incredible. A lot of padding, a thinning blonde wig, and a mask that looked like a cross between Terry Bradshaw and The Phantom Of The Opera. "Grotesque," as one dad put it.

The show was actually one long ad for Disneyland. The Incredibles had to save the Magic Kingdom.

No one asked why.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

My Weekend With Disney

I had one of those Disney weekends, you know, the kind you have when you have young children. Nothing out of the ordinary. No big deal.

Unfortunately, though, I was paying attention. And as a result noticed something strange.

On Saturday our little family went to see Walt Disney Pictures' "The Shaggy Dog." This was supposed to be a remake of the 1959 movie starring Fred MacMurray.

The new "Shaggy Dog," and I hate to sound curmudgeonly about a kiddie flick but it's true, is a barely coherent mishmash of a movie (five different writers are credited, and God knows how many others might have contributed). The plot, as set forth in the first ten minutes, is supposed to be this, or as nearly as I can figure out this was it:

Tim Allen plays a workaholic DA.

He is prosecuting a man for arson. The man is accused of setting a fire at a pharmaceutical company.

The man claims the pharmaceutical company is performing genetic testing on animals.

It gets vague after that. At one point he claims he didnt' set the fire, but then just talks about the weird cross-breeds of animals he saw there. Anyway that's basically the last we hear of the arson. The rest of the movie is about the animals, insofar as it's about anything, with the usual Disney boilerplate about how family should come first.

[Note to budding sociologists: how many divorces go into the making of a Disney film? Come on, there's got to be a dissertation in there somewhere.]

You are probably wondering about the "shaggy dog" part.

The dog in question (who is called a sheepdog in the movie, but is in fact a bearded collie- sheesh, you 'd think they could at least get the breed straight), is a) over 300 years old, b) lives in a monastery in Tibet, and c) according to the pharmaceutical company, holds the key to the fountain of youth.


In the first minutes of the film the dog is stolen from his Tibetan home and spirited away to the U.S.

OK. Why am I going over all of this? And when will I get to the "strange "part?

Here's the strange part.

At first the characters in the movie say the dog comes from "Tibet."

In the climactic courtroom scene, though, Tim Allen declares the dog was stolen from "China."

Then in the

********SPOILER ALERT!!!!***********

nicey-nice ending, the dog is supposed to go home to "Tibet."


Huh?

"China"?

You mean, the part of China that was known as Tibet until the Chinese invaded- excuse me, were invited to overrun the place, driving their leader, the Dalai Lama, into exile?

There really are no accidents in movies. People are aware of what they're doing when they spend millions on a film. They rewrite dialogue, they dub in parts that got flubbed, they reissue scripts God knows how many times. If Tim Allen said "China" he said in on purpose. Unless the director abdicated for the day.

The Disney Co. might be between a rock and a hard place here. On the one hand, "Free Tibet" is a popular cause, particularly among the Hollywood faithful.

On the other hand, Disney's Hong Kong theme park- Hong Kong Disneyland, which opened last September- is 57% owned by the Chinese government.

Hm. Whom to placate? The folks who basically hold the deed to the (Disney hopes) cash cow, or the disgracefully victimized Tibetan people? Not to mention Richard Gere.

Yeah. It's a tough call. Take my advice, guys: split the difference and-

Oh. You already did.

Friday, March 10, 2006

In Case Anyone's Interested

The worldwide box office take for "Crash," this year's winner for Best Picture, is currently $83.4 million.

For first runner-up "Brokeback Mountain," $59 million.

For not-even-considered-for-Best -Picture "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe":

$388.3 million.

Go figure, huh?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Little Miss Evangelical

I have a dear, sweet evangelical Christian pal, and let me tell you that girl is damn lucky she has a Queens Irish Catholic like me for a friend.

She's in town this weekend to promote her new book about fasting. There's a big women's conference at one of the suburban megachurches. Something like a thousand people are expected to attend. In between workshops they're all going to be browsing tables loaded with books, Bibles, little things you hang in windows, whatever. And they've all got cash in their wallets.

Yesterday, the opening day. Tables lining a huge room. About a third of the vendors had chairs. My friend didn't have one.

"Oh well," my sweet friend sighs.

"Uh-uh," says I.

I get up and hunt down someone with a nametag.

Me: We need some chairs over here..

Sweet grey-haired evangelical lady: Oh, many of our ladies dont' have chairs. (starts walking away)

Me (grabbing sweet evangelical lady's sleeve): My friend is trying to sell a book about fasting. Where's she gonna hide her lunch if she can't sit down?

Sweet evangelical lady (blinking); I'll, um, I'll see what I can do...

In five minutes we got chairs.

Nex session. Three women are chatting with my friend about her book.

Lady #1: I loved your talk.

Lady #2: Your book looks so interesting.

Lady #3: But maybe we should come back tomorrow.

Evangelical friend (with a smile): Oh, way to go! Avoid that impulse shopping!

Me (smacking my friend hard in upper arm): But there's a special offer on the books tonight. Two for twenty dollars.

More books sold.

Honestly, I don't know what people would do without me.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Thank You

My thanks to everyone for their prayers and condolences. If I can ask a favor, Fr. Halligan's family need your prayer right now, too.





My daughter goes to kindergarten at a small Catholic school in one of the Mpls. suburbs. Starting in first grade, all the students are required to attend Mass every morning. The Kindergarten kids are deemed too young, and constitutionally incapable of sitting still long enough.

So Sophia and I, and the rest of the K class, arrive at the school just as the older kids are streaming out of the church.

Surveying the crowd yesterday, Sophia asked, "How come they all have tattoos on their foreheads?"

Welcome to another Lent, everybody.