Busted Halo
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Mary Beth Ellis :
41 article(s)

Mary Beth Ellis writes from Orlando, Florida.
May 18th, 2004
God Places a Bet at the Kentucky Derby

Smarty Jones, your 2004 Kentucky Derby champion, is God’s Horse.
Seabiscuit for the new milleniumYou see a horse like that and a story like this maybe once in a lifetime. Twice, if you’ve seen Seabiscuit.
Smarty came to the party with a trainer, a jockey, and a couple of owners who had never been to the Kentucky Derby before. He lined up in the starting gate with seventeen other horses who cost more, were bred better, and were backed by connections who had been through this ten, twenty, fifty times before.
He won.
God’s horseKentucky Derby winners are named Secretariat… Affirmed… War Admiral. Not “Smarty Jones.” Not something that sounds like it just fell out of the comics page.…

May 3rd, 2004
Does the Almighty Bend an Ear to Prayers for Smarty Jones?

With a victory in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 5, 2004, Smarty Jones will have captured horseracing’s most elusive prize—the Triple Crown. No horse has done it since 1978.
Certainly a prayer or two is in order. So maybe it’s not surprising that Smarty was recently blessed by a Philadelphia priest.
“I asked the Lord to give Smarty Jones good health, I asked Him to protect Smarty during the Belmont Stakes, and I asked Him to give Smarty the special gift of the Triple Crown,” said Father Thomas Homa. (Smarty probably thought, “Who are you, and why aren’t you feeding me anything?”)
Is this… necessary?
Haunted hoofprintsWell, it is the track—an inherently…

April 13th, 2004
Just Enough Comfort to Make Me Miss The Real Thing

Pop quiz, which is the biggest sin?
A) Missing Mass on Easter Sunday
B) Because you were out until five in the morning on Holy Saturday
C) Hooking up with a person you’d known for under an hour who was wearing a sunvisor. Inside. Backwards. At night.
All glory, laud, and honor
That is correct: I celebrated the Resurrection of Our Lord by shaking it at a beachside bar until dawn, rolled in the sand with a guy I’d known exactly 45 minutes, slept through Easter morning, and had chocolate for lunch.
I did, however, access my partner’s full name, if not his street address (“Just to make sure we’re not related here? Great. Thanks. Okay, commence feeling me up.”)
See, it could have been…

April 4th, 2004
Why Mars and the Moon Make Sense

I saw Mars last night, a tiny spark of crimson in an expanse of frosty black. It’s tough to miss. First red planet to the right.
I saw the moon too, half-crecented and fully lit. You can’t miss the moon, either.
We have touched both now, one with human hand, the other with the best technology human hands can create.
We need to do more.
Mourning in America
In late January the NASA family weathered what refer to as “dark week,” that span from January 27 through February 1 that marks the anniversaries of Apollo 1 , Challenger , and Columbia.
There is another loss that is mourned year-round at NASA: the end of the moon program.
Political pressure led to the demise of Apollo just as lunar missions were…

April 2nd, 2004
Children Are Always Surprising

“It’s a boy,” my brother-in-law said with great shock as he stood before a roomful of nail-biting family members and friends. The stunned pandemonium that followed shook the desk clerk, the cleaning service, and the poor woman who just wanted to use the maternity ward bathroom.
We’d been expecting a girl.
Right from the moment he was born, my nephew was teaching. And surprising.
Good morning!
The birth of a baby jolts everyone and everything within earshot. My structured sister is now awake around the clock, her accountant’s schedule at the whim of a nine-pound bundle of spit-up and pee.
Her voice is the same but her life has completely changed focus. There is still Sportscenter,…

March 1st, 2004
14 Psychics, an Election, and the Virgin Mary's Dating Service

Crystal Ball v. Gore
On the evening of the 2000 election, I sat before Judith Regan Live watching a psychic make a prediction about the outcome.
“We won’t know who won for a few weeks,” he said. “It will be a virtual tie. It will come down to one state, and it will be very, very close, but the winner will be Bush.”
I laughed; Judith laughed. The psychic did not.
The Catechism and my misfortune
I’ve long avoided having a psychic consultation. For one thing, the Church frowns upon them.
“All forms of divination are to be rejected,” states the Catechism. “Recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and other human beings?They contradict…

January 10th, 2004
Not Just Like a Virgin

There are certain things one simply does not announce about oneself upon meeting a marriage-eligible member of the opposite sex.
Such as: “I’ve refrained from sexual intercourse because my body is a Temple of the Holy Ghost, and you?”
My name is Mary Beth, and I’m a virgin by day, sealed fountain by night (Song of Songs 4:12).
Eroding the bond
The Church teaches that sex should be reserved for the sacrament of marriage. From a practical standpoint, sex education at my Catholic all-girls high school interpreted this as: If you’re not ready for morning sickness, then legs together, ladies.
From a spiritual standpoint, it’s still: Legs together, ladies. Sex, while fun (so…

January 9th, 2004
A Cincinnati Native Takes Their Favorite Son to Task

In November of 2002, baseball’s all-time hits leader had the following conversation with the commissioner of baseball, Bud Selig:
“Yes, sir, I did bet on baseball,” Pete Rose said during the meeting, which concerned the lifetime ban that prevents him from assuming what many think is his rightful place in baseball’s Hall of Fame. “But I never bet against my own team, and I never made any bets from the clubhouse.”
“Why?” Selig asked.
“I didn’t think I’d get caught.”
One, Two, Fourteen Strikes
Can we get a standing ovation for Pete here? And his graduate degree from the Bill “I Think That Stripper Liked Me” Clinton School…

December 2nd, 2003
The Repercussions of Natal Timing

Hey, are you like me? You know?screwed?
I am one of those poor unfortunate souls born in that ungodly space between Thanksgiving and Martin Luther King Day. Jesus picked a terrible birthday for Himself.
If you love your future children, please don’t conceive them in March or April. They will be forever doomed to combination gifts, a double load of thank-you notes, and the occasional feeble, “Oh yeah, happy birthday,” tossed over the eggnog.
And if you think December’s bad, try having a party after the party’s over. In January, all the world’s in various stages of exhaustion, bankruptcy, hangover, and sugar shock. My birthday karma is perfectly wretched. The bulk of my…

October 31st, 2003

So I’m dumping the box of Halloween costumes out on the floor last night, and� there wasn’t much there. I don’t mean there wasn’t a great deal to choose from–we’re talking about fourteen year’s worth of costumes here�but� there wasn’t much there. For a person who recently passed four Halloweens in northern Indiana�a region that isn’t particularly known for its balmy late Octobers–there wasn’t a lot of coverage going on in these costumes. The total square feet of material in the lot of them could have covered maybe a six-pack of Tic Tacs.
he dance hall girl, the adorable ladybug, Mary Beth the French maid whose ancestry is thoroughly…

October 19th, 2003
Extraterrestrial Life and Christianity

ALF says hello
In the middle of the American desert, mankind cups his ear to the cosmos: several highly powerful satellite dishes constantly scan the skies, searching for extraterrestrial radio contact attempts in the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence ) project.
We’ve certainly done our share of talking: Every signal broadcast ever is currently zipping through space, carooming off Jupiter. That is correct?every single professional wrestling match, each reality show, all evidence that Jared the Formerly Fat Subway Guy is a revered figure in this society, all blasting through the cosmos representing who and what we are.
And if someone responds, we want to be sure we’re there to…

October 14th, 2003
A Conservative's Unhappy Conclusions on the Affaire d'Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh died last week. In a way.
The Rush I knew?my principled companion for three hours a day?is in some very serious legal trouble, under investigation for illegally purchasing painkillers.
I never expected perfection from Rush? but I did expect more of him. As I do the President, I hold Rush to a higher ethical standard than I do, say, Kid Rock .
My roots with Rush
I do not, as much of the media assumes of “dittoheads ,” stand by my radio eagerly awaiting the start of his show so that I may base my political direction upon his say-so. He often says what I think, better than I could ever attempt to.
I’m not the only one who can tell that story: Limbaugh’s voice is one of the most listened-to…

September 26th, 2003
We Didn't Know What We Were Missing

“In the year 2000,” writes Tom Wolfe , novelist and Grand Poobah of non-fiction, “in the era of hooking up, ?first base’ meant deep kissing (tonsil hockey), groping, and fondling; ?second base’ meant oral sex; ?third base’ meant going all the way; and ?home plate’ meant learning each other’s names. Getting to home plate was relatively rare, however.”
The phenomenon, this whole business of “hooking up,” so intrigued the seventy-year-old Wolfe that he slapped the term across the dust jacket of his most recent book. But is a hookup really so worthy of all this Wolfian disdain ? If he’s willing, she’s willing, and no one’s…

July 14th, 2003
The Troubles and Triumphs of the Man Who Rode Seabiscuit

You have heard this story: it’s about a good man, a complex man who had the world at his feet, then watched it drop away; who gave generously, lived loudly, and died forgotten and in pain.
Extra weight
Before he jockeyed the great Seabiscuit, the gorgeously literate Johnny “Red” Pollard brooded much and saved little. In the Depression era, Pollard and his little horse?who, in a sleek Thoroughbred world, was cute where he should have been magnificent?held all 48 states in thrall. They won a great deal together. They would have won a great deal more if racing officials hadn’t continuously heaved up to 133 extra pounds onto Seabiscuit’s back to even the odds for lesser horses.
The stacks…

June 12th, 2003
Does the Proverbial Tie Cut the Mustard?

When I talk to my father, the conversation usually sounds like this on my end: “Hi, Dad.”“Yes. Thank you.”“I know.”“Yes, the Bengals certainly do suck.”“No….Look, is Mom around?”

Division of laborMy mother is the emotional matrix of the family; all news, all announcements of parental displeasure, all verification of travel plans are transmitted through her. She keeps the checkbook, the phone list, the calendar. There is a type of cycle in progress here…my father goes to work, as his father did before him; only my father doesn’t beat me when he arrives home.
Since he’d had contact with no male role model, no loving structure…

May 3rd, 2003
Sammy Sosa's Suspended and Back - Why Should We Care?

Sammy Sosa’s seven-game suspension for bat corking ended last week, amidst much snickering and two very respectable singles.
He refers to the incident in which his bat shattered, revealing a chunk of cheating squirreled into the base of his Louisville Slugger, as “the accident.” Oh. I wasn’t aware that the cork had burrowed its own way there.
More shattered than his bat that day, and nobody is talking about it much anymore. This is largely old news, having passed through nearly a month’s worth of twenty-four-hour news cycles.
An old story for a Cincinnati girl
It’s certainly old news to me: I’m from Cincinnati, home of Pete Rose, the team that lost to the 1919 Black…

April 10th, 2003
Filesharing Isn't Unethical or Killing the Music Business

Lest we forget?
When the Cincinnati Bengals were in the 1988 Super Bowl (yes, really), a local radio station cobbled together rousing stadium anthems with such audio gems as “The Who-Dey Rap,” and the mix was broadcast every day at 5 p.m. “Get those tape recorders ready,” I remember the DJ saying. “?Welcome to the Jungle’ is coming up next.”
The Recording Industry Association of America, it seems, is now furious that technology has facilitated what teenagers have been doing quite harmlessly for years. Music fans are now freed from the ritual of standing next to the stereo, fingers on the play-record buttons, praying that the next song up will be “Walk of Life”?a…

April 3rd, 2003
On the Job Where Columbia Should Have Landed

The space program is so flatly braided into my life that I use it as an alarm clock. When an orbiter (for that is the proper, NASA-ized name for the part of the space shuttle that carries astronauts about the earth) returns to Kennedy Space Center at the end of a mission, it rips two massive sonic booms across the face of Central Florida. The colonies of mobile homes clustered around Tampa Bay, the great golf ball of EPCOT, my little square of an apartment in Cape Canaveral: they all tremble before the engineering marvel that is man’s first reusable spacecraft.
I work in education at the Kennedy Space Center, and there is an awful sense of d?j? vu when I walk along the Astronaut Memorial and bend down to read letters…

March 28th, 2003
Channeling Your Tantrum Matters

“I don’t want to talk about anger right now,” one of Saddam Hussein’s advisors is reported to have said as he fled a Baghdad government building.
Whole world’s angry these days, isn’t it? I suppose I could use the war as an excuse for going 45 through the McDonald’s parking lot, but we’re all adults here, and I think we can understand that it’s not my fault I’m late just because Dr. Phil ran overtime.
Powerless lately? When we are powerless, we seethe. I’ve been generating far more than my fair share of stomach acid as of late because I’ve been spending many hours a week in a toxic work environment; there was gossip and there was incompetency…

March 16th, 2003
Baby, Tall Guy, and the View from God's Shoulders

My baby cousin Kaitlyn issues from small stock. Her father is short, her mother even shorter, and her grandparents no towering giants. Her eighteen months on this planet have been populated by people who talk soft, walk tiny, and lift low.
Imagine then Kaitlyn’s reaction to my brother-in-law, who is six foot seven. Her father needs to climb onto a folding chair in order to slap him a low five.
When Kaitlyn caught sight of Britton across the room, she burst into tears and buried her head in her mother’s pantsuit, which, as I understand it, is Standard Baby for “Oh, hell, no.” She would have nothing to do with that decidedly un-short person.
Scared baby, hurt man For the rest of the evening, whenever…

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