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April 8th, 2010
Former Pedro the Lion frontman's Curse Your Branches

In the spring of 2007, I was asked as an alumnus of Geneva College (a small Reformed Presbyterian liberal arts college 30 minutes northwest of Pittsburgh, PA) to attend a few planning sessions for that semester’s annual music event. Knowing Geneva’s conservative stance on nearly every theological or cultural issue, from the prohibition of instruments in their church services to the ban on all dancing (save square dancing) on campus, the challenge was selecting an artist who would be edgy enough to attract the interest of the students while being safe enough not to draw the ire of the school’s administration. Half-jokingly, I suggested that David Bazan might be an interesting choice for…

March 22nd, 2010
The Liars' Club author discusses worshipping art, getting sober, becoming Catholic, and writing Lit

Considering the harrowing stories of her Texas youth — plagued by the alcohol, drugs, violence and general mayhem she recounted in The Liars’ Club (1995) and Cherry (2000) — it is a minor miracle that Mary Karr lived to tell her tale. The fact that she still has more stories of tumult and survival as an adult to write about, though, really begins to edge into loaves and fishes territory.
In her third memoir, Lit, Karr moves past her “drug sodden” adolescence into her young adulthood where the joys of falling in love, getting married and becoming a mother are overwhelmed by her debilitating alcoholism, depression and family dysfunction. But Lit isn’t simply a catalog of grinding desperation…

March 2nd, 2010
Busted Halo vs. America Magazine..."and the WINNER is"

You’d think they would have given Up by now. After two consecutive years of getting An Education in Oscar prognosticating, Fr. Jim Martin SJ and Tim Reidy — the Precious cinephiles at America magazine, the national Catholic weekly run by the Jesuits — asked to go head-to-head for a third round with BustedHalo.com’s editor-in-chief Bill McGarvey on the year’s Best Picture nominees. The Inglourious Basterds at America are well aware that McGarvey is A Serious Man when it comes to film, so they can’t claim to have been Blind Sided.
As the following two-part podcast makes clear, picking Oscar winners is no game to McGarvey. He made it painfully clear to his opponents before

March 1st, 2010
Author Tony Hendra on Carlin's "sortabiography"

When George Carlin died in 2008 at the age of 71, American comedy lost one of the sharpest and truest voices it had ever known. Over five decades, Carlin forged a body of work that is awe-inspiring in terms of its breadth, intelligence and relevance.  The Irish Catholic kid from Corpus Christi parish in Harlem–with barely more than a year of high school education–combined his own fierce and fearlessly questioning mind with the lessons he’d learned on the streets of New York to craft comedy that made audiences laugh and challenged them to think. Beginning in the mid 1990s, bestselling author and actor Tony Hendra (Fr. Joe, Spinal Tap…) recorded countless hours of conversation with Carlin for

February 18th, 2010
Looking back at life and death through the eyes of a 10-year-old

For Kathleen Erin Daly
The outside cover of Natalie Babbit’s 1975 novel Tuck Everlasting… poses just one question — what would you do if you could live forever?
I asked myself this very question in1982, a complicated time when I was ten and on an impossible mission to understand not only death, but the litany of unanswerable questions that the subject brought forth: “What happens when you die?” “Why do some people die at age 4 and others get to live to 105?” and perhaps the most elusive, “What is the point of being born at all if only to one day die?” Beginning on January 11, 1982, this quest consumed me. To say that 1982 was the proverbial “winter of my discontent”

January 19th, 2010
This absurd but brutally honest animated comedy pushes the limits

A ventriloquist’s cartoonish dummy can vocalize insults that would earn the ventriloquist himself a punch in the nose. In much the same way, on “harmless looking” adult animated comedy shows humorists can get away with things they never could on a live-action program.
As a rabbi with a lifelong passion for comedy, I often find myself torn between my love of a good (or even a bad!) joke, and reverence for my religious beliefs. The TV program that challenges my sensibilities the most is probably The Family Guy….
A recent episode of the notorious and unfailingly offensive show — called “Family Goy” — skewered a host of clichés with even more blatant disregard for propriety

December 31st, 2009
(1930-2009)

Did any among us not grow up with Disney? Children of the 40s marked their years with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo and Bambi. For boomers, it was Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, One Hundred and One Dalmatians and Jungle Book. By the time I came along, Disney’s animated features had lost their spark. But my family gathered around the family TV set every Sunday night at 7:30 to watch The Wonderful World of Disney… — a collection of animation, feature movies, TV dramas and nature documentaries. This brew, rich on American stories like Davey Crockett, helped shape my worldview. For children of the 80s and 90s, Disney animated feature films

December 31st, 2009
A near-Irishman salutes Frank McCourt (1930-2009)

Also check out the latest Busted Halo Cast about Frank McCourt.…

Deanna, my ex-girlfriend, grew up in Boston. Recalling her early home life, she would sing a litany of parental neglect, substance abuse and financial mismanagement. Apparently, the one bright moment came when she saw one of her friends break most of her toes in a step-dancing accident.
I envied her. She would never have to search for her Irishness.
My own connection with the land of St. Brigid and Molly Bloom was much more tenuous. My mother’s family had left it sometime before the outbreak of the American Civil War. My father’s family, consisting of Polish and Ukrainian Jews, never made it there in the first place. Reaching backward across

December 31st, 2009
(1975 - 2009)

Hallett during better times

I love a good rags-to-riches story. A vampire spin-off is not the usual definition of riches, but for the millions of people who love the Buffyverse, Andy Hallett was a success.
Hallett started his career in Los Angeles as Joss Whedon’s wife’s personal assistant. For those who don’t know, Joss Whedon was the writer, creator and driving force behind the TV shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly — series known for being equal parts camp and brilliant writing.
After Whedon and friends went to see Hallett sing at B.B. King’s in Los Angeles, Whedon conceived of an Angel… character written just for Hallett. The character was Krevlornswath of the

December 31st, 2009
(1952 - 2009)

There are some famous people that seem so kind and so genuine that I am glad they are somewhere in the world. I don’t need to meet them or visit their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I just want to know they exist in the madhouse of entertainment and keep their heads while doing it. For me, Patrick Swayze was one of those famous people.
Like all Americans raised in the 1980s, watching Dirty Dancing, The Outsiders or Red Dawn… every weekend on basic cable provided cinematic life lessons. The Brat Pack taught me many things: detention is determined by the group of people you are detained with; and dancing makes all ages, races and classes happy.
Later in my life, however, Patrick Swayze the man taught me something

December 31st, 2009
(1949 - 2009)

It is impossible to create and not expose yourself. In fiction, music or memoir, there is the beating heart of the writer’s own life experiences between every line. Fear of exposing themselves in the way that is necessary for others to connect keeps some writers from ever being publishing, or taking their talent to the next level. Jim Carroll did not have that fear. He was a creative force who exposed himself in words, music and even basketball.
To the uninitiated, Jim Carroll was a punk rock icon, singer, writer, spoken word artist and poet who inserted Catholic imagery whenever he could. “Catholic Boy”was his first song to be released, in 1980. It is a raucous story of survival, swirling in phrases…

December 31st, 2009
(1923 - 2009)

During that third week of June when we lost King of Pop and the Queen of Pinup on the same day, it was easy for the death of someone who spent most of his life as a sidekick to be brushed aside. It was easy for the shock of losing two people Generation X once considered dynamic role models to overshadow the loss of someone who was considered, in his own way, a great uncle.
If you have ever watched Conan O’Brien and wondered why he has Andy Richter sitting next to him night after night, Ed McMahon is the reason why. From all accounts, it’s a very difficult thing to be a stand-up comedian, putting yourself out there in front of millions of people each night… even Jerry Seinfeld confesses to getting nervous before…

December 31st, 2009
Recollections of mass and Sunday brunch with the professional wrestling legend

“Captain” Lou Albano (1933-2009) — professional wrestling legend and star of Cyndi Lauper videos — was what my grandmother called “a nice Italian boy.” Never mind that by the time she met him, he was in his 50s; and, that to an entire industry of professional wrestlers, being called “nice” would have been the kiss of death. None of that concerned my grandmother, who never saw Captain Lou at work. She just liked him because he praised her tortellini en brodo….
According to family lore, Captain Lou was introduced to us thanks to an encounter after hours at a local bar in our hometown of Carmel, NY, a bedroom community an hour north of New York City. He took one look at

December 31st, 2009
(1986-2009)

It was just the beginning of the season… the April dew still lingered on the short blades of grass, the electricity and excitement for a year full of potential filled the air, and just a few hours earlier, a young Angel pitcher by the name of Nick Adenhart had thrown six shut out innings in his season debut. The future was bright. The baseball world was his oyster. And then came the crash.
Nick Adenhart, 22, and two others tragically died in a car accident last April when a drunk driver blew through a red light and struck their vehicle with maximum force. It happened hours after Adenhart took to the field in just his fourth Major League start ever. He had achieved his dream of playing baseball at the highest level. But…

December 31st, 2009
(1958 –2009)

While music fans often cling to memories of their first concert experience, I vividly remember the very first music video I watched — Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” It was at my cousin’s house sitting on her mom’s plastic covered couch while our parents sat in the dining room having coffee. “Thriller” gave me nightmares for weeks, and I still cringe every time I see Jackson transform from sweet guy on a date at the movies to a character from the crypt. But, that is the job of a true entertainer — leaving your audience with something to remember. Lucky for us, Jackson has a legacy that will last for years to come.
I don’t know what first sparked my interested…

December 31st, 2009
1932-2009

I read John Updike’s Rabbit series when I was 22, living with nuns in the North Bronx. Perhaps needless to say, I had a lot of free time after around 8:30 every night, and I tore through all the novels I didn’t have time to read in undergrad. Of course, what I read still had to be literature, for the same reason where I worked had to be the South Bronx. My life simply had to be soul-achingly important, and what could be more important than inner city work and the world’s great books? Anything would be better than the middle-class, anti-intellectual muck I had left. Or so I thought. And then I read Rabbit….
“Rabbit” Harry Angstrom is the main character of four novels and a novella, each title

December 31st, 2009
(1973–2009)

DJ AM commemorative billboard above Famous Stars and Straps Third Street Los Angeles store, November 2009. Photo by ChildofMidnight.

After collaborating with numerous musicians and dabbling in acting, it was DJ AM’s last project that was his most memorable.

Adam Goldstein, best known as DJ AM, battled with addiction for much of his life and remained clean for 11 years. In his last months he filmed Gone Too Far, a series on MTV where he provided intervention for those who struggled with addiction.

An intense series, the show explicitly reveals a day in the life of an addict while offering help to those willing to change their lives. While I’ve never dealt with addiction personally, the show really made an impact on me and restored my faith in the music industry.

Being a music journalist, I’ve heard the horror stories of bands dropped by major labels and the destruction that the touring lifestyle causes on loved ones. However, I’ve hardly ever read about a musician that is truly selfless and making a difference in society. Goldstein changed this. He provided hope and help to numerous addicts and their families and his spirit lives on in those lives he saved.

December 20th, 2009
Spiritual Seekers Adventure (on a Budget)

BUSTED HALO® SPIRITUAL SEEKERS ADVENTURE 2010
Last year we had an enormous response to the Spiritual Seekers Adventure trips we were offering to the Camino in Spain as well as our arts & culture trip to Paris.  Busted Halo® is happy to announce that we are offering these same journeys again for March 2010 at a discounted price!  Perhaps more than ever, Busted Halo ® believes now is a time for the kind of reflection and introspection these programs offer.  We have made slight revisions to the itineraries to make them more broadly affordable in this period of financial difficulty.  You can download the 2010 brochure here or email the company Busted Halo® is partnering with directly, at info@franciscanspirittours.com. …

December 9th, 2009
Audio interview from the Busted Halo Show w/ Fr. Dave Dwyer

Father Dave talks with the incredibly talented author, Anne Rice! One of America’s most read and celebrated authors, Anne Rice is known for weaving the visible and supernatural worlds together in epic stories that both entertain and challenge readers. Her books are richly filled with history, belief, philosophy, religion, and compelling characters that examine and extend our physical world beyond the limits we perceive. After two volumes of her moving life of Jesus Christ (Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt and Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana) and her spiritual memoir Called Out of Darkness, her newest book, ANGEL TIME is areturn to the rich imagination and compelling worlds of Anne’s early novels,

November 19th, 2009
Professor James Fisher, author of On the Irish Waterfront

With a shock of sandy blonde hair that perpetually seems to be on the verge of revolt and a conversation style that is best described as a benign form of rapid-fire free association, it’s easy to picture Professor Jim Fisher, 52, as the young taxicab driving college dropout living in Hoboken, N.J., that he once was in the late 1970s. This was during the difficult period after Hoboken’s once flourishing port had moved a few miles south to Newark and Elizabeth, and long before gentrification turned Hoboken into New York City’s unofficial sixth borough in the 80s and 90s. When Fisher resided there it was just another struggling post-industrial city living on past glories that amounted to two trivia…

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