Busted Halo
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October 18th, 2003
Good Reads from the Next Generation of Writers

I love reading books by my contemporaries. I picked up The Quality of Life Report and The Devil Wears Prada more out of curiosity about their young authors than out of interest in quality, life, or Prada.
As I plowed through these fun, well-written reads, I learned a lot about 34-year-old Meghan Daum (Quality) and 22-year-old Lauren Weisberger (Devil), since both wrote novels closely connected to a significant career-slash-life experience (Daum claims her book is only “32.9%” autobiographical).
Meet Meghan and Lauren
Meghan Daum spins a fictional tale that parallels her move from New York City to rural Nebraska in pursuit of personal and professional fulfillment. Weisberger launches her novel…

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…

October 1st, 2003
THE RETURN OF THE KING fulfills the spirit of Tolkien

As many of us had hoped, director Peter Jackson and his commendable crew offer moments of great terror in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King . Fantasy finds a new realism. Shelob the Great Spider is ever-so believably portrayed. The fires and lava of Mount Doom splash across the screen in marvelous intensity. We feel the heat.
But there is also great beauty and majesty. We feast our eyes on the great city of Minas Tirith.
Yet be prepared for the most inspired and majestic grandeur of all: our tremendously gifted director, screenwriters, cast, and crew have bestowed on us the full, deep humanity of the protagonists’ heroic witness. In The Return of the King we experience for ourselves, however vicariously,…

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…

September 18th, 2003
New Book on a Spiritual Approach to Finding Your Direction

Getting a Life: How to Find Your True Vocation by Renée LaReau, Orbis (2003), 158 pages.
It seems to me life improves drastically after you hit 30.…

September 17th, 2003
Father-Daugther Tips from Today's Silver Screen

Raising kids today is more challenging than it has ever been. Kids today just aren’t as young as they used to be. I don’t have any scientific research to back this up, but I do have two specimens under my roof who give me all the proof I need.
To wrangle young people these days, a concerned dad needs to be two steps ahead, and not afraid to admit he needs help. But how to learn? Where to turn? A resourceful, modern-day dad like me immediately knows where to go for sound, practical parental guidance: The Movies.
With my teenage son, it’s a bit easier, since it wasn’t that long ago that I myself was a young dude. But with my preteen daughter, it’s more of a struggle. I have little or no experience…

September 12th, 2003

Entire wars have been fought over it, British lords beheaded, Spanish mystics incarcerated, principalities set on fire, and now it travels the internet in search of friendships to destroy.
It is religion.
And then there’s something about e-mail that sometimes erases our better judgment from our brains, we automatically copy and paste and hit send… and sometimes, just sometimes, what we have just catapulted into cyberspace could be…
even more destructive than a virus…
So forwarding an e-mail that deals with religion could forever change our relationships with those on the other end of our electronic tethers.
And in real time…So… just in case this happens to you……

August 30th, 2003
Art's power to transform reality

Art has the power to transform us into something better, something greater, so long as we don’t merely place it on a pedestal. On my recent trip to Nicaragua, several images revealed the sensitivities of my heart in a way that I did not expect.
The streets in Leon, Nicaragua, were filled with youngsters hawking everything from small trinkets to newspapers to water. As we made our way to the Cathedral, other small children found their way to us, asking for food or money. Even in the Cathedral, there were dozens of people begging. I felt uncomfortable. My friend Ken, remarked that “we’ve learned to ignore the poor at home.” Here it wasn’t so easy.
Where’s Jesus?I decided to focus…

August 26th, 2003
Was It Just Me and My Possible Tumor - or Not?

It started with a simple physical. The doctor was almost done when, feeling my neck, she exclaimed, “Hello, what’s this?”
This turned out to be a lump , the size of a strawberry, nestled on my thyroid. It didn’t occur to me that it might be something to worry about. That is, until she called for another doctor’s opinion. They had never seen a lump that size before, which started my heart pounding like a Ricky Ricardo bongo solo.
Then she referred me to an oncologist.
Now I was worried
But I discovered that the fear of cancer was not foremost on my mind. Instead, I found myself thinking, “I may be sick and I’m alone.” That part, about being alone, was almost as scary as…

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…

July 12th, 2003
The Curious Novel Life of Pi Uncovers Real Faith

Though more than 90% of us in the U.S. say we believe in Him, God may seem no more real to many of us than, say, Arnold Schwarzeneggar?sure, we’ve seen Him in the movies (Morgan Freedman in Bruce Almighty, Alanis Morissette in Dogma ), but isn’t He making his big impact somewhere else (Sodom and Gomorrah? California?).
The mother of all precarious situations
Yet for our age of the secular believing, novelist Yann Martel has given us Life of Pi , “a story that will make you believe in God.” Not a miracle story, not a sentimental touched-by-an-angel story, this is the tale of Piscine Molitor Patel, an Indian teenager (named after a swimming pool in Paris) who has been set adrift on the Pacific…

July 10th, 2003
The Professional Worrywart Stumbles Upon a Solution

Darn those yearbook photos?they always come back to haunt us and remind the world that yes, we once thought puka shell necklaces were the epitome of fashion.
But a study at U.C. Berkeley found that yearbook photos do more than verify bad taste. Old photos from the 1958 and 1960 yearbooks of Mills College in Oakland, California, were analyzed, and researchers discovered that women who looked the happiest went on to live the happiest lives. The study concluded that “individual differences in positive emotional expression were linked to personality stability and development across adulthood.”
This would explain why, in my college photo, my eyebrows are stitched together and I look gravely concerned.…

July 1st, 2003
The Magdalene Sisters and Catholic Guilt

Guilt and shame are two Irish-Catholic traits that are as typical as corned beef and cabbage on St Patrick’s Day to Irish-Americans. It’s one thing to be Catholic, but to be an Irish-Catholic is a whole new ball of shameful wax.
When I was a child, the God I was taught to believe in was a judging God, and I think I spent more time trying to stay out of hell than I did practicing baseball.
The theme of Irish-Catholic guilt is placed at the center of the film, The Magdalene Sisters , where guilt chastises and shame paralyzes.
The Magdalene Laundries are a chapter of Catholicism that has been relatively unheard of outside of the Emerald Isle. Even in Ireland, the insular world of the laundries has been relatively…

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…

May 3rd, 2003
Saved provides a smart critique of the evangelical teen subculture

I went to Saved , a new comedy about teenagers in a Christian high school expecting to get a few laughs at the expense of bible-based yokels. What I got instead was an entertaining, intelligent and surprisingly subtle teen comedy that pokes fun at the simplistic thinking and hypocrisy of white-suburban-conservative-evangelical culture.
Jena Malone plays Mary, a devout teen who accepted Jesus as her personal savior at the ripe old age of three. She attends the American Eagle Christian Academy a cliquish school where a towering billboard-esque icon of Jesus greets the students outside of the schoolhouse. Inside the classroom a picture of George W. Bush looms in the background while a buffoonish evangelical…

April 18th, 2003
Better Luck Tomorrow Brings Welcome Complexity to Asian America

With this film, it’s tempting, oh-so-tempting, to make the expected references to classic rock songs: “The Kids Are Alright.” “Teenage Wasteland.” “Another Brick in the Wall.”
But that’s not the world that spawned the kids of Justin Lin’s Better Luck Tomorrow . Set in the upper-middle class gated community suburbs of Orange County, the film draws from the best of the teen and (urban) gangster movie genres to offer something fresh: an edgy, well-made, even disturbing satire that’s equally Asian American and mainstream.
“Flip it and reverse it”On the teen front, one central and classic question the movie raises is: “Who…

April 15th, 2003
This Fast Track May Cause You to Stall

There is no question that the American entertainment industry has quite an influence on the American public. People interviewed by Jay Leno during his Jay Walking skit are perfect examples of how someone can know the names of all of the members of N*SYNC and the Back Street Boys but can’t name even one member of the Supreme Court .
The road to fame in Hollywood
The “industry” places an extremely high value on the entertainment world and it is difficult to escape the hype that goes along with the entertainment community. The Kennedy’s have often been referred to as American royalty but the American royalty for our generation seems more to be the members of the Hollywood elite, the A-list celebrities…

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 9th, 2003
The Dull Ache of Addiction in Owning Mahowny

It’s the early 1980′s. Philip Seymour Hoffman is Dan Mahowny, a Toronto bank manager whose body is as soft and slow as his mind is sharp and quick. Mahowny moves through a geography of parking garages and offices and airplanes in grey-clad mediocrity. It’s not that he seems too kind to commit extraordinary crimes; he seems too dull.
But Mahowny, whose character is based on the actual story of Brian
Molony, manages to embezzle $10 million Canadian dollars. He invents clients and accounts that do not exist; he skims off the top of those that do. So we watch Mahowny whisper demands to his bookie over bank phone lines, and we watch him sweat as he fills out a bogus business loan. Lies make you hide, and…

April 9th, 2003
Mister Rogers Helped Us All to Grow Up

I was talking with my wife recently about how someone
we know shelters her children. She protects her children from the daily tragedies that she encounters and controversy never enters her home. If someone calls with a problem that needs immediate attention, and the children are nearby, she informs the person that she “can’t talk now, because ‘Susie’ is here.”
I mention this because I worry this does more harm than good. Children certainly don’t need to be exposed to all the horrors that we adults encounter. But children eventually need to know how to deal with tragedy. They need to be able to sort out feelings of sadness, pain, regret, guilt, and even the feelings that surround…

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