Busted Halo
Features : Entertainment & Lifestyle
February 17th, 2004
A February Salute to the Under-Appreciated Wives of Our Presidents

Mrs. America…
Attractive, hospitable, gracious—eager volunteers. This is the traditional image of the First Lady of the United States.
Since there is no official job description for the wife of the President, each First Lady has had to create her own platform. While on the public level, many were were quiet, many found ways to use their gifts for the good of the country, some wandered into the spotlight, and not a few helped to empower women in American society.
During February we traditionally celebrate the birthdays of Presidents Lincoln and Washington, nodding to all our U.S. leaders with a holiday known as “President’s Day.” But let us also remember the great women who accompanied them—both

February 17th, 2004
Why The Apprentice Is the Best New Show on TV

I never thought that I’d find a spiritual lesson in a show run by Donald Trump, but The Apprentice seems to have something in every episode.
For those who haven’t seen the show, it consists of a face-off between two teams vying to outdo each other in a small business venture (everything ranging from street vendoring to planning a charity auction).
The winners get perks (visiting George Steinbrenner in the owner’s box at Yankee Stadium) while the losing team has to face Trump and his cronies in the dreaded “board room” where somebody will get fired (a preview of which you’ve surely seen in the commercial).The wisdom of The DonaldTrump realizes that in business, things don’t…

February 9th, 2004
Wanting More from Music (and Less Boob on the Tube)

While flipping through my car stereo recently, I was shocked to hear Nelly say the F-word in his most recent song.
Me and Nelly
I’m not anti-Nelly. We did a movie together. Really. It’s called “Snipes.” But hearing an uncensored f-bomb in the middle of the day on the radio was something I’d never experienced. I thought it was illegal—so why not call the FCC?
The F in FCC
The FCC has been in the news a lot recently. First there was when Bono (of U2) said “f-ing brilliant” on the Golden Globes, and the media made a stink. The FCC didn’t fine him, because they said he used it as an adjective, not to describe a sex act. However, FCC chairman Michael Powell recently called…

January 27th, 2004
Prodded Beyond My Chocolate Martinis

It was the last week of December when a co-worker came bearing delectable treats like cheesecake, cookies, and tarts.
“Our department can’t eat another bite,” she groaned. I groaned right back. “Thanks, but we’ve been pigging out too”
Which might explain why these days I’m feeling less than svelte and more like a Sumo wrestler. As I ponder these thoughts, I reach for another See’s Candy and wash it down with a Starbucks mocha.
Too much of a good thing
I’ve always been embarrassed of the aches that come from overeating. I mean really?what a decadent discomfort. That’s like complaining that your wallet is too heavy because it’s weighted…

January 20th, 2004
Sport for Its Own Sake Despite the Hype

It rumbles near. The playoffs have ended, and the “Event,” the “All” soon arrives, on February 1st, only the second time the Super Bowl has been played outside of January.
Why so late?
Hard to say. The NFL season expanded to sixteen games back in 1978, and the NFL added a “bye” week in the 1980s, thus expanding the season. Those might be partial reasons.
And, of course: There’s a two week delay this year between the conference championships and the Super Bowl.
More hypeActually for years the NFL had a two-week delay before the Super Bowl, then it went to one week. I don’t know why it switched back to two weeks:

Some of my friends speculate that it’s scheduling…

January 16th, 2004
The Riveting but Overcooked "House of Sand and Fog"

“Some dreams can’t be shared,” warns the tagline for “House of Sand and Fog.” And thus the ominous stage is set for dreams to collide: those of Kathy Nicolo (Jennifer Connelly) a recovering addict and housecleaner, trying to keep her life together after her husband has left her; and those of Massoud Amir Behrani (Ben Kingsley), a former Iranian colonel who, after serving in the military under the shah, emigrated to America with his family.
Kathy vs. Colonel
The county evicts Kathy from her house, a ramshackle San Francisco bungalow with a tiny view of the ocean, due to a supposed unpaid business tax that turns out to be a clerical error. By the time Kathy discovers the error it is too…

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…

January 4th, 2004
An Unexpected Bond Turns Everything Around in The Cooler

For years, self-help books have asserted that your thoughts influence your reality?that if you schlep through life feeling like a loser, the energies of the universe will make you a loser.
In The Cooler , William H. Macy plays Bernie Lootz, a man whose sad sack demeanor not only makes him perennially unlucky, but affects all those with whom he comes in contact. His job at the Shangri-La casino in Las Vegas is to “cool” down anyone’s winning streak that could cost the casino too much money. The simple brush of Bernie’s hand against a roulette table causes Lady Luck to make a U-turn right out the door.
Paying off debts
Shelly Kaplow (Alec Baldwin), the Shangri-La’s manager and seeming…

January 3rd, 2004

Do you think same-sex marriages will be made legal in your lifetime?…

January 1st, 2004

“Do you ever think about your own mortality and about what happens after death?”…

December 12th, 2003
J.R.R. Tolkien's Work and his Catholic Faith

When he was eight, his mother had to go back to work to support her children when an Anglican relative withheld financial support because of her conversion to Catholicism. (The establishment in England at this time was prejudiced against “popery” to an extent scarcely conceivable today.)
The martyrFour years later, his mother—overworked and worn out from poverty and the emotional pressures of family members who continued to criticize her conversion—lapsed into a diabetic coma and died in six days.
The boy was left in the care of Fr. Francis Morgan, a priest appointed by the mother to act as guardian.
This orphan: J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
Two obsessions…

December 10th, 2003
Caring for the Temple of Me

I stepped on the scale the other day and it read:
Please get off of me, you fat bastard!
Somehow the scale that used
to read around 180 or 190 pounds has recently moved closer toward the 215 to 220 mark.
How did this happen? Where did forty pounds of unwanted flab around the mid-section on my six foot frame come from? Perhaps the answer lies not just in what’s on my plate but also within myself.
I’m generally a pretty lazy person who needs to be pushed at times. My wife has to ask me to do household chores, the laundry sometimes piles up, and my first drafts sometimes get handed in as articles unless someone prods me to work on them further.
What’s worse is that I do the same thing with the care of my body, the temple…

December 3rd, 2003
Unlikely Ways Home: Real-Life Spiritual Detours

It’s not often that a sexy cocktail waitress inspires a Catholic priest to write a book about faith journeys, but such is the case with Fr. Edward Beck’s Unlikely Ways Home: Real-Life Spiritual Detours. Story has it that Fr. Beck was having a drink in a Manhattan bar when a friend of his complained that priests only see spirituality in people who are praying in church. Like all great theological discussions that start in a bar, the conversation segued toward a waitress in a “barely legal mini-skirt.” Fr. Beck’s friend observed that he believed this waitress was a spiritual person. Incredulous, Fr. Beck asked how he came to that conclusion.
The friend said it was because of the way…

December 1st, 2003
The Holidays

Forget Survivor Thailand. One of the most challenging, daunting threats to modern mankind’s survival (and our sanity) is The Holidays . Now that they’re over, it’s time to assess the damage, see where our resources have been depleted, and concentrate on recovering enough so we can face another year of living in the jungle.
Not supposed to be like this…I’m not sure where things changed. I think it was somewhere between the time I got my driver’s license and when I became a parent. Somehow, the holidays, specifically Christmas , went from being a time I greatly anticipated to a time where I now have to psyche myself up, train, and strategize just to make it through in one piece.…

November 29th, 2003
A 1980's AIDS Volunteer and Activist on Angels in America

Separating life from art can be impossible in some cases; Angels in America is the most painful instance I know.
Now that the award-winning Broadway play has been superbly translated to TV by the playwright, Tony Kushner, and director Michael Nichols, that work of separation has become even more difficult for me, and will be for others. (Angels is running on HBO in two
parts: Sunday, December 7 and the following Sunday, December 14.) I recommend it heartily to viewers, not only as a great work of art but as an introduction to a time just passed in which people fought for survival and for justice on the streets and in the places in which now another generation lives—sometimes unaware of what went on there not so long…

November 23rd, 2003
In Maine with the National Theatre Workshop of the Handicapped

Gather forty strangers in one house and give them ten days to three weeks to learn music, dance routines, scenes, and monologues for a show open to the public.
Is this reality TV? No, it’s just reality, spending the summer with cool and talented people in coastal Maine, as a student at NTWH, the National Theatre Workshop of the Handicapped.
Those people.That’s of the disabled, not
for . My fellow students came from all over the country and all over the world with their wheelchairs, crutches, scooters, guide dogs, and personal care attendants (PCAs) in tow. The Maine campus is fully accessible but what we do there isn’t about rehab, charity, or pity. Pity connotes something weak or someone inferior.…

November 18th, 2003
Joan of Arcadia Brings Divine Sneakiness (and Teenage Angst) to CBS

We’ve been Touched by an Angel and even walked the Highway to Heaven. Yes, folks, divine intervention has found its way into prime time television in the past, but hold on to your haloes, the newest addition to spiritual programming does more than send winged friends to earth.
The Big Cheese Himself—or in some cases, Herself—steps into the spotlight in CBS’s new Friday night show Joan of Arcadia (8 p.m. ET/PT, premiered Sept. 26). Wait, before you picture a glowing light or a grandfatherly-looking dude with a booming voice, prepare to be surprised.
God’s kinda…hot?Joan Girardi, our protagonist, has recently moved to the town of Arcadia with her family. While not drama-free, the Girardis…

November 17th, 2003
Matrix Revolutions: All Action No Personality Makes Neo… a Video Game

What I call the “Matrix phenomenon” is something I wanted to believe in and tried to understand.
For a split second, this phenomenon allowed me to believe in a force greater than myself that was not necessarily tied to my Christian notion of God. It gave me a savior, made me believe that I had purpose, and it asked me to find my path and follow it—although I may not have fully understood.
Pity the theatrical release of Matrix: Revolutions on November 5 ruined it all for me.
Yes, Revolutions completes the story of The Matrix, but it also digresses to a predictable
video-game action movie, garnished with a little cheesy, clichéd dialogue, topped off with a vague ending that mocks the integrity of Matrices…

November 2nd, 2003
Peter Steinfels' - A People Adrift: The Crisis of the Roman Catholic Church in America

Let’s not talk about sex
Though the clergy sex abuse scandal garners its own chapter in this nearly 400-page tome, the crisis Peter Steinfels describes is not limited to priest pedophiles, hush money, or locked legal file drawers.
According to Steinfels, a larger, more encompassing Church crisis stems from a lack of energetic leadership by bishops and priests, and as a result the institutional Church in the United States teeters on the verge of irrelevance.
“Not that Catholics will suddenly flee from the Church,” writes Steinfels, “?but their faith will be come an increasingly marginal or superficial part of their identity, bearing less and less on the important choices of their…

October 31st, 2003
Halloween Origins and Current Practices

Ever wonder where Halloween traditions came from? Are they evil? Pagan? Holy?
Fire FestivalsThe ancient Celts celebrated seasonal feasts to honor the gods of nature. Halloween’s pagan origin was a fire festival known as Samhain . It took place from Oct. 31 – Nov. 2 and marked the end of summer, the beginning of winter, and a new year.
Being “in-between” seasons, Samhain was a time of “no time”—chaos reigned. People did crazy things, pulled pranks, and disguised themselves. It was considered “a magical time when the dead walked among the living and veils of past and present were lifted.”
Along come the Christians…
The word Halloween, however, is derived…

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