“What do you want, a bloody photograph?”

While Railfan* and I were discussing the Inquisition, I remembered my favorite document of that era, the transcript of Poalo Veronese’s trial for heresy for a painting of the Last Supper. It strongly resembles a Monty Python sketch.**

The very best part was that Veronese, after being ordered to repaint the picture to conform to church rules, at his own expense, simply changed the name to “Christ in the House of Levi.”

*That one of my offspring is majoring in history makes me very, very happy.  Finally, after years of being on the sideline of incomprehensible scientific discourse between the Rocket Scientist and the Red Headed Menace, Railfan and I can get into discussions of the minutia concerning the Spanish Inquisition, and historiographical issues around  popular notions about the use of torture.

**Monty  Python frequently covers the cerebral with the absolutely silly.

Posted in Art, Culture (popular and otherwise) | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Damn you, Felicity Huffman.

God made me for a reason
And nothing is in vain
Redemption comes in many shapes
With many kinds of pain

“Travelin’ Thru” Dolly Parton, from Transamerica.

“Travelin Thru” is a very special song to me. Depending where I am in my life, it can help provide a emotional towline to the shore of normalcy. In fact, “Travelin Thru” is not only my favorite song, but the song that has carried me through dark times.  I cry sometimes when I hear it.

“Travelin’ Thru,” from TransAmerica, was nominated for the Oscar for Best Song. At the time I thought it odd that it lost to “It’s Cold Out There For a Pimp,” but I cynically wondered if the old white guys who ran the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences felt more comfortable awarding the Oscar to a hip-hop number than to a song from a movie about a middle-aged transwoman going to meet the son she never knew she had.* An openly religious song, at that.  (Yes, I am aware of the issues of trans-erasure in the TransAmerica as they cast a woman as a transwoman rather than a man. (Huffman’s real-life husband William H. Macy would have been a better choice.)) I have never seen the movie; I got the song after  I saw Dolly perform it on the Oscar telecast, and it has become almost my anthem.

I find myself angry enough with Felicity Huffman over the college cheating scandal that when I hear “Travelin’ Thru” I find myself getting annoyed. I know it will go away — the song is too important to me — but in the meantime, I’m grumpy.

*On the other hand, this was the Oscars where Crash won Best Picture over Capote, Good Night and Good Luck, Munich, and not the least, Brokeback Mountain. (I would have gone with Good Night and Good Luck, myself.)

Posted in Music, My life and times, Social Issues | Leave a comment

Rosebud was the sled.

I will write about the mosque shootings soon (and probably after everyone else). I am trying to get my thoughts together: absolute rage is not conducive to good writing.

In the meantime, I want to write about a couple of frivolous issues, one of which has been bugging me for days. I should start out by saying this is not vague-blogging, trying to score points against any other person. I’m just curious. I know what I think, I want to know if that is way off base with what is generally accepted.

When does talking about a film in the presence of someone who has not seen it constitute spoilers? Is it when the film goes out of theaters? Is there such a thing as spoilers, anyway?  Or can you never talk about films around people who have never seen it?

My thoughts:

First of all, talking about classics does not constitute spoilers. Everyone knows that Rosebud is the sled, and that Norman Bates impersonates his mother, and that Wesley lives. (Rosebud is a MacGuffin, anyway: the sled does not in and of itself matter, it just moves the plot along and allows the screenwriters to string together disparate narratives.) Knowing these things in advance does not detract from the enjoyment of the film. I have watched two of those movies countless times already knowing the plot and loved them anyway. (I firmly believe that you need to watch Citizen Kane multiple times to really understand it.) I haven’t watched The Princess Bride more than a couple of times because I am sort of meh about the movie (the book was fantastic, and the movie does not capture its charm).

I think that you should be able discuss films in the presence of another if the movie has been out at least a year. Given streaming, most people can see blockbusters within that time. Although a desire to avoid spoilers can lead to some amusing conversations. (I once saw a young woman try to explain to her mother the last credit Easter egg in Antman and the Wasp without giving away anything of substance in Avengers: Infinity War.)

I do not think anything in the released trailers constitute spoilers. Unless you scrupulously avoid anything where you might see the trailers, you will be exposed to them. They are designed for people to see and discuss.

What do the rest of you think?

Posted in Culture (popular and otherwise) | Tagged | Leave a comment

Campaigns are already going on.

So people are already announcing that they are running for president. Whoopee.

I am going to look at their specific policy suggestions in depth later, but any candidate I support should have the following (not in any particular order):


  • Have been elected to statewide public office: US senator, governor, secretary of state, etc. (advantage to anyone who has had experience in the executive branch, at either state or federal level).
  • Support all women’s access to contraception and abortion. Even for women in custody, either in prison or immigration detention. Understand that reproductive rights are an economic issue, not merely a “social” one.
  • Support efforts to combat climate change.
  • Base policy on real science.
  • Prevent environmentally damaging activity.
  • Support development of alternative power sources.
  • Support reasonable gun controls, including universal background checks, and no reciprocal concealed carry.
  • Support LGBTQ+ rights, including job protections.
  • Work to reduce prison populations, and get rid of privately run prisons, at least at the federal level.
  • Credit for being female or a POC. Aside from the optics, women and POC bring experiences to the office.
  • Encourage growth in numbers of women and girls in STEM fields.
I would analyze how these requirements apply to current candidates, but I think that will have to wait until later.
What do you think I’ve missed?
Posted in Politics | Tagged | 3 Comments


[36] “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ [38] This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Mohandas Ghandi

So last week Donald Trump signed bibles for a bunch of Alabamians. I was completely gobsmacked by this: not that Donald Trump would do such a thing (the man clearly has a messiah complex, and contrary to what he claims, seems to be no Christian), but that there are Christians so casual about their faith that they would let him do that, let alone ask him to.

I struggle with my faith. I don’t know if I can call myself a Christian anymore. (I tend toward not.) There are a lot of personal reasons (including being mad at God) but I have respect for Christianity in general — at least when it is not being a bludgeon to be laid across the heads of LGBTQ people, or women who have had an abortion (or women in and of themselves), or any other marginalized group. I tend to agree with Ghandi.

As much as I question, as much as I grieve that loss of faith (and it is a loss), I find the ritual of the mass comforting, and find much wisdom in the Bible. Yes, I know that the Bible — the physical object itself — is just that, a physical object made of paper and glue. I had a Scripture teacher rip a page out of one once to demonstrate that fact.

People write in Bibles all the time:

They put their name as a sign of ownership. Keeping all those notes you took in Scripture class about the real meaning of the Beatitudes can be a helpful aid to reflection on the passages, depending upon the outlook of the person who gave you your information.

Family, friends, and teachers write notes to the person they are giving the Bible too. A bible can be a meaningful gift, an encouragement to faith.

They write down the history of their family: births, deaths, marriages. (When my mom died, my sister got the family bible. As she was the eldest, and the most involved in religious matters, that was the right thing for us to do.)

So,  in and of itself having a president, or an actor, or a rock star sign your bible should not be problematic.

Except it is: this part of the electorate talk about Trump as the messianic figure he believes himself to be. “God sent us Trump,” they say, as though he is the second coming of Christ. (If that’s the case, the Rapture should begin any day now. I have no belief that I would be taken up to heaven, which is good because I am really waiting for Avengers Endgame to come out.) Their adulation smacks of idolatry… not that they would have admitted it. They have Trump sign their bibles, and they oppress people who have a different sexual or gender identity, or nationality.

They elevate Trump, and they neglect the teachings of Jesus. They may not break Jesus’s Greatest Commandment, just, but in many cases they ignore the second.

If Donald Trump, a man who believes that sexual assault is okay as long as you’re important enough, who insults people who disagree with him, who mocks the disabled, who is willing to do anything short of murder to get and keep what he wants, who is friends with the rich and powerful but who kicks the poor and powerless to the curb, really was sent by God…

Then I have another reason to be mad at God.

Or else we as a country must have done something really awful.

Posted in God faith and theology, Politics | Leave a comment


I am putting this here so I don’t have to keep looking it up:

Peach Cobbler*

  • 1 package of peaches**, thawed
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cup self-rising flour
  1. Make sure peaches are thoroughly thawed. They should be syrupy.
  2. Preheat oven to 350.
  3. Place butter in 9x 13 baking pan and place in oven to melt.
  4. Combine sugar, flour, and milk.
  5. Once melted, take the butter out of the oven and pour milk/flour mixture over butter.
  6. Spoon peaches over mixture.
  7. Cook for 45 minutes or until top is golden brown.

*This is pretty much Paula Deen’s recipe. I made a few changes. If you don’t have frozen peaches, you should follow it.

** I freeze peaches during the summer (a friend has a peach tree) using Alton Brown’s method, adapted so each bag of peaches has four cups p bag. The resulting peaches are used without adding any water or sugar. (I think you could also use canned peaches in syrup.)

Frozen peaches:

  • 4 cups peach slices
  • 500 mg vitamin C, ground (spoons work well for this)
  • 3/4 sugar
  • Paprika optional (I might also use ginger)
  1. Mix sugar, vitamin C, and paprika in a gallon ziplock.
  2. Dump in peaches and shake thoroughly before placing in freezer.
Posted in nothing special | Leave a comment

At least there’s some hope.

TCM showed All the President’s Men tonight. I have always loved the climactic scene, where Ben Bradlee says “There’s nothing riding on this except the First Amendment to the Constitution, freedom of the press, and maybe the fate of the whole country.”

I look at what is happening now, the corruption and the  lack of accountability, the blatant disregard of ethics and the rule of law, and how there are indications that the Mueller report will be buried, and how Paul Manafort was looking at a minimum of 19 years and got 47 months instead, and how fully a third of the country still supports Trump, and I despair. And then I remember…

We have the Washington Post. And the New York Times. And Politico. And CNN. And msnbc. And the broadcast networks.

They can’t save us. But maybe they can find us the ammunition so that we can save ourselves.

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment