Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
To the Editor:Re “The Pope vs. the Pill,” by John L. Allen Jr. (Op-Ed, July 27), on the Roman Catholic Church’s continued commitment to the papal ban on birth control:The encyclical “Humanae Vitae” suffers from a profound lack of humanity. Forty years ago, Pope Paul VI could and did choose to disregard the recommendations he solicited from Catholic couples and physicians — recommendations based on the real, human experience of marital love — in issuing his mechanistic prohibition.That a group of celibate men can continue to leverage the faith to enforce this ban, and continue to cause needless anguish among decent people throughout the world who want to do right by their religious belief, is no accomplishment.Terrence R. Connelly
Palo Alto, Calif., July 27, 2008
And [Barack Obama] talks about how, as he grew older, he began to realize that his pervasive sense of difference extended beyond the mere purgatory of elementary school. "TV, movies, the radio ... Pop culture was color-coded, after all," he writes. "I began to notice that Cosby never got the girl on 'I Spy,' that the black man on 'Mission: Impossible' spent all his time underground. I noticed that there was nobody like me in the Sears, Roebuck Christmas catalog ... and that Santa was a white man."
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
My brother likes to shock people by telling them that he is a member of N.A.M.B.L.A.
No, not the North American Man Boy Love Association . . . the North American Marlon Brando Look-a-like Association.
Did I mention insanity runs - no, gallops - in our family?
Sunday, July 27, 2008
The Freak of Coney Island
And it came to pass, in the eighth year of the reign of the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant), when the whole land from the Arabian desert to the shores of the Great Lakes had been laid barren, that a Child appeared in the wilderness.
The Child was blessed in looks and intellect. Scion of a simple family, offspring of a miraculous union, grandson of a typical white person and an African peasant. And yea, as he grew, the Child walked in the path of righteousness, with only the occasional detour into the odd weed and a little blow.
When he was twelve years old, they found him in the temple in the City of Chicago, arguing the finer points of community organisation with the Prophet Jeremiah and the Elders. And the Elders were astonished at what they heard and said among themselves: “Verily, who is this Child that he opens our hearts and minds to the audacity of hope?”
For the fourth time since 2004, Six Flags in Gurnee is sponsoring Muslim Day, bringing in outside caterers to provide halal food and turning an amphitheater into a makeshift mosque to accommodate Muslims who observe dietary laws and strict prayer schedules. Muslims who plan to go say they appreciate the sense of community the event creates as well as the opportunity to talk about Islam with curious non-Muslims at the park.
How do you sign, "Oh #@&$!" as you head down that first drop?Six Flags also has created special events for Catholics, Baptists and Methodists, park officials said, and Episcopalians have booked the amphitheater for prayer services. Traditional Polish dancers joined in the park's opening ceremonies during a recent Polish Day, and last week the park supplied American Sign Language interpreters during a "hard-of-hearing-awareness day."
Readers who run a foundation, serve on a board or are thinking of starting such a charitable effort should know about the gauntlet of shakedown artists forming up to demand a piece of the action.
As with so many marginal ideas, this one is coming out of California. A proposed bill there would have required foundations with more than $250 million in assets to report the racial, gender and sexual orientation of their board members, staffs and grantees. The bill's sponsors recently agreed to drop the issue in return for a political payoff of millions of dollars from 10 of the state's biggest charities.
If these numbers sound fishy, it's because they are. Greenlining only counts money as going to minorities if it's given to organizations whose board and staff are more than 50% minority. Thus an inner-city Catholic school with a 95% black population wouldn't qualify if its teachers were mostly white. As well, these are private foundations whose donors gave money for specific causes, such as cancer treatments or the environment. Presumably they'd like the money to go to people who can accomplish these goals most effectively, rather than to some pol's allies.
Locked in a tight primary race for Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Mr. Ridley-Thomas apparently was playing this issue for all it was worth, promising his South Central L.A. constituents that he would, as California political blogger Stephen Frank put it, "make sure the rich white foundations would give their money to local nonprofits."
"[Our] fundamental operating principle is to direct our resources to organizations that have the promise of making the greatest difference in achieving [philanthropic] goals. Thus, we do not focus on the racial composition of our grantees, but rather on how to achieve measurable impact in improving the lives of the communities that our grant recipients serve."
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Mom: Stephanie, Stephanie . . .
Me: Yeah, Ma?
Mom: You know that place on the Internet where you ordered the "Mink" hair spray?
Mom: Well, I've run out and I want to buy some more.
Me: Okay . . . give me about an hour and then I'll go online and order it for you.
Mom: (looking nervously at her watch) But it's eight o'clock!
Mom: So, are they gonna be open?
Can you tell that I like roller coasters? A small disappointment when I went to Disneyland with The Men in Black on Thursday was that the roller coaster, California Screamin', at Disney's California Adventure was not open (neither was Tower of Terror, but one wuss didn't want to go on it anyway, and I won't mention names, but he had to endure Ed and I calling him "Grandma" for awhile - lawyers can be cruel).
So last night the DigiKids and I went over for a couple of hours, to check out the new Toy Story Mania ride. The line was simply too long (60 minutes is my maximum) but the line at California Screamin' was moving along well, as it usually does. Patrick and I waited the extra five minutes to get in the "first car" line and out came my Flip Mino.
Please excuse my "Howard Deanesque" screams - I did it for the benefit of the boy, really . . .
Friday, July 25, 2008
Song: Big Ugly Wheels
Artist: The Beat Farmers
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
"We found a great rhythm," says McConaughey, 38. "Contractions started kicking in. I sat there with her, right between her legs. We got tribal on it, we danced to it! I was DJ-ing this Brazilian music."McConaughey told OK! "Becoming a dad is something I've dreamed of doing since I was 10. Becoming a father felt very, very natural. We were jamming! She was sweating. No painkiller, let's go. She just clicked into that gear that only a woman has at a time like this. We'd been up for 40-something hours, and we went from dead tired to a really steadfast, 'Let's handle this … let's stay in the rhythm. Don't let the contraction be more than you.'"Ultimately, [the mother] underwent a C-section.
If I was the mother, I would have shot the bastard.
State police say they arrested a man early Tuesday whose blood alcohol level was 0.491 percent — the highest ever recorded in Rhode Island for someone who wasn't dead.Stanley Kobierowski was taken to a hospital, put in the detoxification unit and sedated, said Maj. Steven O'Donnell. He was arraigned Tuesday on charges of driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest, and he was released after promising to appear Friday at a court hearing.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
The New York Times on Friday blocked an opinion piece submitted by John McCain to the newspaper shortly after it printed a piece by his Democratic rival, Barack Obama, McCain campaign officials confirmed to FOX News on Monday.“I’d be very eager to publish the senator on the op-ed page. However, I’m not going to be able to accept this piece as currently written. I’d be pleased, though, to look at another draft. Let me suggest an approach,” Times op-ed editor David Shipley wrote the campaign via an e-mail later distributed by McCain’s team.“It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama’s piece . . ."
But I have also said that any draw-downs must be based on a realistic assessment of conditions on the ground, not on an artificial timetable crafted for domestic political reasons. This is the crux of my disagreement with Senator Obama.
But only one word for each? C'est si banal . . .
1. Where is your cell phone? Purse.
2. Your significant other? Mark and Miguel the Pool Boy. (A joke my husband and I have is that I say, "I'm going to run off with Miguel the Pool Boy," and he gets excited and says, "We have a pool?!")
3. Your hair? Straight as an arrow.
4. Your mother? Dotty! (Her stick phrase is "Business is buisness, and love is bullh**t.")
5. Your father? Missed terribly. (Frank died in 1995)
6. Your favorite things? Dogs, books, a good wine, and subservient opposing counsel.
7. Your dream last night? I was a contestant in "Last Comic Standing."
8. Your favorite drink? Brunello di Montalcino.
9. Your dream/goal? To be really, really old when I die.
10. The room you’re in? Home office.
11. Your church? St. Joseph's Catholic Church. (Only problem there is the pastor, piker that he is . . . let's see if he reads this . . .)
12. Your fear? Hell. Oh, hell yeah . . .
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Knoxville.
14. Where were you last night? Early evening in the neighbors' backyard pool, then at home preparing for a deposition that didn't happen today.
15. What you’re not? Finished. Or skinny.
16. Muffins? Bran.
17. One of your wish list items? A professional grade Canon camera. A Pope Benedict XVI bust or bobblehead. A bidet.
18. Where you grew up? Da Bronx, baby!
19. The last thing you did? Tried to start washing up after dinner, only to hear the Digidaughter wail plaintively, "Is someone using the hot water ............?"
20. What are you wearing? Tae Kwon Do gi.
21. Your TV? Too loud, Mark!
22. Your pets? Puppy Girl and Teddy Bear Boy, aka Josie the Wonder Corgi and Dante the Wonder Schnauzer.
23. Your computer? Needed!
24. Your life? Not bad - how 'bout yours?
25. Your mood? Snarky.
26. Missing someone? Wait, let me check . . . nah, we're all here.
27. Your car? Forester.
28. Something you’re not wearing? Chastity belt. What, is sex bad? Dang, no one told me!
29. Favorite store? Bookstore.
30. Your Summer? June through August.
31. Like (love) someone? YES! But I'm not telling . . .
32. Your favorite color? Forest green.
33. Last time you laughed? Driving home, listening to "Blue Collar Comedy" on Sirius Radio. Git 'er done!
34. Last time you cried? Lunch on Friday.
35. Who will re-post this? Kit, Karen and Mike the Brother-in-Law.
I made this one:
Hat tip to the Irish Elk.
An activist group hoping to pressure the Roman Catholic church into dropping its long-standing prohibition barring women from the priesthood says it ordained three women on Sunday.The group says the women who are ordained remain loyal members of the church and will act as priests whether they are excommunicated or not.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
The quote that I used in that post from Milan Kundera’s The Joke will suffice:
“No great movement designed to change the world can bear to be laughed at or belittled. Mockery is a rust that corrodes all it touches.”The corollary, of course, is that Bush ignores the BusHitler slur because it has no tinge of reality and The Obamaites get hysterical over the New Yorker cover because there is an element of truth to it.
Now that Starbucks Corp. has disclosed the 600 locations it wants to shutter, a phenomenon is taking hold: the Save Our Starbucks campaign.
In towns as small as Bloomfield, N.M., and metropolises as large as New York, customers and city officials are starting to write letters, place phone calls, circulate petitions and otherwise plead with the coffee giant to change its mind.
"Now that it's going away, we're devastated," said Kate Walker, a facilities manager for SunGard Financial Systems, a software company, who recently learned of a store closing in New York City.
That's simply awesome.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Israel is calling for removal of two United Nations soldiers from Lebanon after photographs surfaced of the soldiers saluting the coffins of Hezbollah terrorists during a prisoner exchange Wednesday.
Waste of prime real estate along the East River in NYC, if you ask me . . .
The Audacity of Vanity
By Charles KrauthammerFriday, July 18, 2008; A17Barack Obama wants to speak at the Brandenburg Gate. He figures it would be a nice backdrop. The supporting cast -- a cheering audience and a few fainting frauleins -- would be a picturesque way to bolster his foreign policy credentials.
What Obama does not seem to understand is that the Brandenburg Gate is something you earn. President Ronald Reagan earned the right to speak there because his relentless pressure had brought the Soviet empire to its knees and he was demanding its final "tear down this wall" liquidation. When President John F. Kennedy visited the Brandenburg Gate on the day of his "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech, he was representing a country that was prepared to go to the brink of nuclear war to defend West Berlin.
Who is Obama representing? And what exactly has he done in his lifetime to merit appropriating the Brandenburg Gate as a campaign prop?
What was his role in the fight against communism, the liberation of Eastern Europe, the creation of what George Bush the elder -- who presided over the fall of the Berlin Wall but modestly declined to go there for a victory lap -- called "a Europe whole and free"?
Does Obama not see the incongruity? It's as if a German pol took a campaign trip to America and demanded the Statue of Liberty as a venue for a campaign speech. (The Germans have now gently nudged Obama into looking at other venues.)
Americans are beginning to notice Obama's elevated opinion of himself. There's nothing new about narcissism in politics. Every senator looks in the mirror and sees a president. Nonetheless, has there ever been a presidential nominee with a wider gap between his estimation of himself and the sum total of his lifetime achievements?
Obama is a three-year senator without a single important legislative achievement to his name, a former Illinois state senator who voted "present" nearly 130 times. As president of the Harvard Law Review, as law professor and as legislator, has he ever produced a single notable piece of scholarship? Written a single memorable article? His most memorable work is a biography of his favorite subject: himself.
It is a subject upon which he can dilate effortlessly. In his victory speech upon winning the nomination, Obama declared it a great turning point in history -- "generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment" -- when, among other wonders, "the rise of the oceans began to slow." As Hudson Institute economist Irwin Stelzer noted in his London Daily Telegraph column, "Moses made the waters recede, but he had help." Obama apparently works alone.
Obama may think he's King Canute, but the good king ordered the tides to halt precisely to refute sycophantic aides who suggested that he had such power. Obama has no such modesty.
After all, in the words of his own slogan, "we are the ones we've been waiting for," which, translating the royal "we," means: " I am the one we've been waiting for." Amazingly, he had a quasi-presidential seal with its own Latin inscription affixed to his lectern, until general ridicule -- it was pointed out that he was not yet president -- induced him to take it down.
He lectures us that instead of worrying about immigrants learning English, "you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish" -- a language Obama does not speak. He further admonishes us on how "embarrassing" it is that Europeans are multilingual but "we go over to Europe, and all we can say is 'merci beaucoup.' " Obama speaks no French.
His fluent English does, however, feature many such admonitions, instructions and improvements. His wife assures us that President Obama will be a stern taskmaster: "Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism . . . that you come out of your isolation. . . . Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed."
For the first few months of the campaign, the question about Obama was: Who is he? The question now is: Who does he think he is?
We are getting to know. Redeemer of our uninvolved, uninformed lives. Lord of the seas. And more. As he said on victory night, his rise marks the moment when "our planet began to heal." As I recall -- I'm no expert on this -- Jesus practiced his healing just on the sick. Obama operates on a larger canvas.
Three more juvenile illegal immigrant drug dealers sent by San Francisco to group homes hundreds of miles from the city have escaped, prompting juvenile probation officials to try to bring back the only youth remaining at such a center.Chronicle stories about the policy prompted a national outcry, and Mayor Gavin Newsom rescinded it earlier this month . . . Newsom acted shortly after eight Honduran juveniles convicted of dealing crack on the city's streets walked away from unlocked group homes in San Bernardino County, where the Juvenile Probation Department had sent them rather than refer them to federal authorities. Only two of the eight have been tracked down.The only illegal immigrant offender still at a group home outside the city is at a center in Atascadero (San Luis Obispo County), Newsom said.The mayor said the Juvenile Probation Department would ask a judge to order the youth back to San Francisco for resentencing because the city now considers him to be a flight risk.
And the one poor schmuck who seemed to be with the program and stayed put now gets to go back to jail. He must have broken his foot, or something, that kept him in San Luis Obispo . . .
Friday, July 18, 2008
What, was she a felon?
The South tips the scales again as the nation's fattest region, according to a new government survey.
More than 30 percent of adults in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee are considered obese. In part, experts blame Southern eating habits, poverty and demographic groups that have higher obesity rates.
Artist: The Breeders
Why I Like It: For the guitar playing mostly. Plus I wish I had a microphone just to stand around the house and worry the family with that 'AWHOOOOooh, AWOOOOooh" sound.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
(I would not make the joke if the Gem was not such a lovely woman! As I have met her, I can testify competently to such a fact.)
"What we've done now has made kidnapping soldiers the most profitable game in town," said Israeli security expert Martin Sherman.
"There is absolutely no reason why Hezbollah should not invest huge resources now, along with Hamas, in the next kidnapping."
The Living Constitution…
In another stunning example of Liberalism, the San Francisco city council OFFICIALLY condemned the Catholic Church for its stand on adoptions to homosexual partners. Labeling the Church as “insulting to all San Franciscans, hateful, defamatory, insensitive, ignorant…”, San Francisco has evidently decided that, rather suddenly, their cherished notion of “separation of church and state” no longer matters. Well, at least, in this case…
If you pay close attention to news reports around the country, you tend to notice certain Liberal tendencies. One of these is their inconsistent notion of “the living Constitution”. Each time a Conservative office-holder defines the limits of the Constitution, such as in the case of “wire-tapping” and the FISA law, Liberals scream “flagrant disregard of the Constitution!!!” Additionally, when Conservatives attempt to enforce the First Amendment’s ban on Government involvement with regard to establishment of religion, Liberals cry “Constitutional separation of church and state”.
Yet, when Liberal politicians decide to grossly misinterpret the Constitution, as in the case of Roe v Wade, they merely point out that the Constitution is a living document, because the Framers could not have anticipated situations such as “Roe”.
All in all, Liberalism has become a wonderful piece of intellectual dishonesty that has resulted in a) a maintained, blind loyalty from cult followers, b) a setting-aside of the fundamental nature of the Constitution resulting in c) (in the case of Roe) millions and millions of dead Americans.
…”Uncle Joe” would be proud…
But I have news for Liberals:
First: the Constitution is NOT a living document. Let’s put it to the test, shall we? In this, most recent, case, San Francisco has officially condemned the Catholic Church (btw, whether speaking of the California Constitution or the US Constitution, they fundamentally read the same on this issue). Justification for this, Liberals feel, can be found in the principle of the “living document”. Fine.
Let’s suppose, then, that San Francisco were a very Conservative town (I know, I know…but lets try to suppose, anyway...) and the city council decided that Catholicism was to be designated as the official religion of the county.
Based on the notion of the “living document” mentality, this would, in fact, be perfectly acceptable. BUT, would Liberals consider this scenario as acceptable? Of course not. Unfortunately, Liberals are intellectually dishonest, so they don’t consider both sides.
Second: The framers DID, in fact, anticipate situations such as “Roe”. THAT is why they designed the Constitution as a DEAD document; so that officials, intent on abuse, would not have the means to be abusive.
In fact, the mechanism for change is written into the Constitution. It mandates that THE PEOPLE govern any fundamental change. Liberals, because they KNOW, for fact, that reasonable people would NEVER…..NEVER EVER….accept or allow their ridiculous, Communist ideology, attempt to circumvent the Constitutional process of law, in order to force their agenda.
In truth, the very reason our Framers designed the Constitution as a dead document was to PROTECT Americans from the minds of Liberals.
I’ve said it before and I won’t stop saying it, no matter HOW much hate mail I get: If you support Liberals BECAUSE they are Communists, Socialists….fine. I disagree with you, but you must walk your own path. IF, however, you support Liberals because they SAY that they are “Centrists”, “Progressive” “meet in the middle” types: then you are just….plain…..stupid.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
- Richard Allen Davis - who kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and then murdered 12-year-old Polly Klaas - writes: "It was always my thought that if I wasn't willing to stay out of crime, then it wouldn't be right to stick a woman with a child of mine. (Smile) I have been told that this was the only decent outlook that I had." How thoughtful.
- Then there is Kevin Cooper, who murdered a Chino Hills family and had his execution stayed to obtain DNA testing that he said would exonerate him - only to have it support the position that he committed the killings (yeah, well, when your DNA is found as well as a victim's on a bloodied t-shirt . . .) - but he maintains his innocence, of course. I found amusing that the murders occurred the night of June 4, 1983, but as proof of the unfairness, Cooper offers: "On June 11th, 1983, the victims' stolen car was found in Long Beach, CA. The person who found the car told police that he did not remember it being there the previous day. Kevin Cooper was in Tijuana, Mexico on June 5th, 1983. " And your point is . . .?
- Oh and Charles Ng. What, he and his buddy got their jollies torturing, raping and murdering up to 25 people in Northern California - and filming it to boot, provding great evidence to convict Ng (his partner, Leornard Lake, blew his brains out after an arrest for firearms). Oh, did I mention two of the victims were baby boys? He writes: "My case, from inception to verdict, has been both a travesty and outrage of mistreatments and miscarriage of justice. Because of these and other reasons, I constantly feel misplaced, sad and lonely - like a dolphin caught inside a tuna net." Please. Give me a tuna net, a backyard pool, and 15 minutes with this whack job.
- Don't get me started - yeah, pretty boy and manly man Scott Peterson has his web page as well. Celebrities demand that, you know. What is even more appalling is that he posts pictures of him and Laci on it, because you know, he really is the victim here, a poor and pitiful widower. But how's this for chutzpah? He writes about hearing a rumor of a scholarship established in Laci's name and states, "This is titled "Perhaps a Commendation" because if a rumor I heard is correct, my Mother-in-Law, Laci's Mother, deserves applause. The rumor is that all the profits from her forthcoming book will be given to an educational charity, perhaps the fund at Downey High. I hope that this rumor is true." I am sure she appreciates this gesture, you jackhole, especially coming from you after you killed her daughter and unborn grandson.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
No shit, really? Go figure . . .
A state parole panel today unanimously denied "compassionate release" for terminally-ill Manson follower Susan Atkins after hearing emotional testimony both for and against her release.
Atkins, 60, played a central role in the 1969 slayings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and others in a bloody two-night rampage in the Los Angeles area. She has served 37 years in prison, longer than any other female prisoner, officials said.Now ill with brain cancer and with one leg amputated and the other paralyzed, Atkins has only months to live, doctors have said.Those backing her release argued unsuccessfully that the cost of keeping Atkins in prison, which is estimated at $1.4 million for medical care and security just since March, should be a factor in favor of releasing her because it would save the state substantial amounts of money.
The petition for Atkins' release had ignited debate about when mercy is appropriate, particularly considering the grisly crimes for which she was convictedTate, the wife of film director Roman Polanski, was 8 1/2 months pregnant when she and four others were killed at her hilltop home in Benedict Canyon. The actress, who was stabbed to death, had begged Atkins for her for her life."She asked me to let her baby live," Atkins told parole officials in 1993. "I told her I didn't have mercy for her."
Monday, July 14, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Al Capone's cell - for some reason, he was allowed to bring in furniture and even use the warden's telephone to conduct business, privileges granted to no one else.
This was home to the average prisoner. Time has caused decay but the roots in the back attest to the dank and damp walls of first story cells.
This was the Catholic chapel. I could not enter but in the background on the wall is a religious fresco painted by a Catholic prisoner. They are also restoring the synagogue that was here.
An abandoned corridor - the prison was designed to resemble the spokes of a wheel, all emanating from a central hall.
Mike from El Paso was on the phone line to “The Catholic Guy,” the afternoon drive-time talk program produced via the unlikely partnership of Sirius Satellite Radio and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York.
“I called the other day?” said Mike. “About how much I miss confession?” This would be the Mike who was barred from the sacrament of confession under church law because he married a divorced woman whose first marriage was never annulled.
“Yes, I remember!” bellowed the host, Lino Rulli, the Catholic guy of the show’s title. “Mike the Adulterer! O.K., Mike. Are you ready to play ‘Let’s Make a Catholic Deal’?”
It seems an odd marriage of sensibilities: the rough banter of talk radio as practiced by pioneer shock jocks like Mr. Stern and Don Imus, joined at the neck to an official Catholic broadcast whose underlying mission is herding people back into the fold of a religious orthodoxy.
But the stated mission of this new enterprise known as the Catholic Channel is to offer something more than “the audio equivalent of stained glass and incense,” as Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the archdiocese, refers to conventional religious radio.
Since taking to the air 18 months ago — with an understanding that there would be no promotional spots for Mr. Stern’s show on any of its programs — the channel has harnessed Sirius, a subscription-only radio network made possible largely by the immense drawing power of Mr. Stern’s profane and pornography-friendly programming, to help propagate a 2,000-year-old institution that preaches against more or less every bodily impulse Mr. Stern has ever named, demonstrated or otherwise celebrated on his show.
Today, in studios down the hall from Mr. Stern’s in Sirius’s Midtown Manhattan headquarters — where Sirius generates a gigantic menu of radio catering to dozens of niche tastes including sports, gay politics, hip-hop and Martha Stewart — the Catholic Channel, No. 159 on the dial, produces a 24-hour stream of radio that reaches most of North America. The Catholic programming runs the gamut from offerings of the stained-glass kind, like Sunday Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and a weekly interview with Cardinal Edward Egan, to the offbeat musings of “The Catholic Guy,” which runs five days a week in the showcase 4-to-7 p.m. slot.
Mr. Rulli’s show can sometimes sound like catechism class (“What is the sixth Station of the Cross? Anybody?”) but more often achieves the queasy unpredictability of the Stern show itself — if Mr. Stern were an avowedly guilt-ridden, confession-going 36-year-old prone to sexual double-entendres and self-mocking complaints about not being able to find a girlfriend.
The mix, perhaps risky for the church, is aimed not only at Catholics who attend church but also at a large and growing segment of 20- and 30-something Catholics who do not, said Mr. Zwilling, who as the general manager of the channel hired Mr. Rulli.
Sounding a little like Mr. Stern is exactly the point.
“If someone who listens to Howard Stern happens to turn to the Catholic Channel one day and doesn’t realize for a couple of minutes that what he’s listening to is the Catholic Channel, well, I’m not going to be upset about that,” Mr. Zwilling said. “We recognize that Catholics are listening to Howard Stern. What we want people to know is that they can talk about all the same things he does, but in a Catholic context.”
When Mike the Adulterer called the other day to try winning the day’s “semi-valuable prize” — a bottle opener soldered to a medal of Pope John Paul II, the “Let’s Make a Catholic Deal” question was about St. Teresa of Avila.
At other times, callers are asked less historical questions: Is it possible for men and women to be just friends? (Catholic Guy: No. “Guys are pigs.”) Does using the word “chaste” put people off? (Guy: “Chaste just sounds so Amish-Catholic. Why not just say, ‘I’m going to remain a virgin till I get married’?”)
Mike did not win and was unceremoniously dispatched with a loud buzzer, followed by a suggestion by Mr. Rulli that he “get that annulment” as soon as possible, “even if it’s a big pain.”
The breezy informality sometimes references, and tweaks, Catholic bromides. When a caller complained that he had not received the prize he won playing another of the show’s games, “The Inquizition,” the Catholic Guy counseled the man to forget about it. “That was past,” he said. “Look to the future. God has a plan for your life.”
Almost nothing about religious broadcasting is new.
Christian radio is as old as radio itself, and the Vatican has produced a vast network of radio and TV programming since the 1950s.
Still, not many radio hosts use the Imus/Stern model — with on-air sidekicks, comic sound effects and the ad-libbing host who trades in the provocative — while hewing to a message of virginity until marriage and the unquestionable authority of the Catholic Magisterium.
“I have to be careful in areas that Howard doesn’t,” Mr. Rulli deadpanned in an interview.
David Gibson, a Catholic writer whose book “The Coming Catholic Church” describes a newly powerful grass-roots pressure for reform in the aftermath of the priest sexual abuse scandal, said the archdiocesan foray into talk radio may reflect some official acknowledgment of the need for a new, more interactive relationship with believers.
“The church really has no choice,” he said. “The old Catholic world, where you were born and married in the church and stayed because you were part of a ‘Catholic world’ — that’s gone. The church has to find people and make them want to be Catholic.”
Young people are the major target of several efforts, official and otherwise. “Theology on Tap,” an informal project adopted in hundreds of parishes around the country, attracts young Catholics to lectures booked in bars or restaurants.
The Order of Paulist Fathers has started an initiative aimed at people in their 20s and 30s with an Internet ministry known as Busted Halo, whose mission is basically in sync with a recent series of youth-market books called “The Bad Catholic’s Guide to...” In the introduction to their first book, “The Bad Catholic’s Guide to Good Living,” John Zmirak and Denise Matychowiak summarize the creed: Believe in Catholicism, do what you can, admit that you are flawed “and turn to the font of infinite mercy as humbly and as often as you can.”
The Rev. Dave Dwyer, the Paulist priest behind the Busted Halo project, is the host of a program of that name on the Catholic Channel. It is cheerful but less quirky than “The Catholic Guy,” more likely to attract callers with questions about the faith.
“The people we want to reach say they are ‘spiritual’ rather than Catholic, though they refer to themselves as ‘born Catholic,’ ” he said. “We try to get them thinking about what it means to be Catholic.”
In the religion press and blogs, Mr. Rulli’s “Catholic Guy” show has been described affectionately, if somewhat datedly, as the “Wayne’s World” of the Catholic Church. The St. Anthony Messenger, a magazine of the Franciscan order, said Mr. Rulli was “something of a contradiction” for being so well-schooled in Catholic theology, yet capable of a kind of biting wit that, the writer surmised, had most likely “gotten him into trouble just as often as it’s gotten him out of it.”
He has not gotten into trouble on the air yet, though his occasional bouts of testiness have been the talk of fan blogs, one of which urged listeners to “pray for Lino to grow up” after he walked off in midshow one day last month because not enough people were calling in.
His on-air persona is more often funny-pedagogical — reflecting the master’s degree in theology he earned at St. John’s University in Minnesota, when he was considering entering the priesthood. (He later hosted a cable television show in Minneapolis, “Generation X,” which won an Emmy Award for its offbeat reporting about the lives of priests and nuns, and which led in 2006 to his current job.)
He quizzes his producer and engineer about the lives of the saints — “Which one did they flay alive, again?” — and mocks them like the dean of discipline if they do not know the answer. He talks about the old girlfriend he should have married but spurned, bitterly disparaging her for marrying someone else; but then he turns the story into a lesson in Catholicism: “My mistake was in not asking for God’s guidance.” If he had, he might have married her, he says.
He decides to be tattooed with the crest of Pope John Paul II, and asks listeners to suggest “where on my body I should put it.”
A woman calls to say that she has a tattoo.
“Oh? Where is your tattoo?”
“It’s in the cleavage area.”
“Sorry, what? You’re breaking up. Gotta go.”
If any of this has annoyed the boss, Mr. Zwilling, or the boss’s boss, Cardinal Egan, who refers to Mr. Rulli as “Lino Unruly,” they do not show it.
“If we are to succeed in reaching people, especially people who might not otherwise listen to Catholic religious radio, we have to be different, and we have to be appealing,” Mr. Zwilling said.
Just how appealing Mr. Rulli may be is unclear; Sirius says it does not compile ratings
for any of its channels or programs. In answer to questions about Mr. Rulli’s salary, which the host refers to on air not infrequently (“I need a raise!”), Mr. Zwilling said all of the Catholic Channel’s expenses, including salaries, were reimbursed by Sirius.
On a recent show, Mr. Rulli declared that America was in moral decline. “And the proof of the moral decline,” he added, “is that people are choosing to watch Leno over Letterman.”David Lettermanis one of his three role models, he said.
The other two are John Paul II and “the only genius in radio,” Howard Stern.
Nearly two-thirds of those responding to an online poll this week rejected all five designs for a proposed suicide barrier, saying the bridge district shouldn't build anything to prevent people from jumping from the span's walkways.