Sunday, March 31, 2002

Tomorrow is Opening Day for the Red Sox at Fenway...and here's a thought to go with the new season: it may not happen this year. It may not happen next year, but soon the Red Sox are going to win it--and hopefully while Fenway still stands. The importance of the new owners can't be overstated. And some day soon, poor Bill Buckner will escape the hideous (and unfair) association that has dogged him about the '86 World Series. The only reason that curse persists is because of the general bad luck the Sox have had since the Yawkeys faded away and the Harrington era dawned. That era is over now...once a world series puts the curse to rest, people won't remember the ball going through Buckner's legs. But they will remember Dan Duquette kissing off Roger Clemens in 1996 because he was supposedly in the Twilight of his Career.

Friday, March 29, 2002

Just came from the new sneak preview of The Two Towers. It runs after the Fellowship of the Ring playing in theaters today. And it looks spectacular! The excellent Bernard Hill will be featured as King Theoden and his intro in the preview is a great shot of him being armed by his soldiers as he recites the stirring verse which Tolkien borrowed from the great Anglo-Saxon poem The Wanderer: "Where now the Horse? Where now the Rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?"("Hwær cwom mearg? Hwær cwom mago? Hwær cwom maþþumgyfa?")

Dozens of people flooded into the theater during the last 20 minutes or so, just to see the preview. The entire cast is back, including Cate Blanchett as Galadriel. Knowing the way Peter Jackson loves to dramatize every aspect of the trilogy, I'm betting the film will begin with Gandalf's subterranean battle against the Balrog and his eventual return to Lorien where Galadriel warns him of the threat facing Frodo. The merest peek at Gollum. In fact most of the preview dwelt on Gandalf, Aragorn and the battles in Rohan. The hobbits are being saved for later previews.

Most spectacular of all is the battle at Helms Deep. The whole film promises to be another feat--with every bit of the grandeur we've seen so far....
Remember that poor Palestinian boy supposedly shot by Israeli soldiers last year? Maybe he wasn't. The Notebook from this week's New Republic is very interesting on the subject. Quotable:

... now a March 17 documentary aired by Germany's ARD television suggests something extraordinary: that Muhammad was killed not by Israeli soldiers, but by Palestinian gunmen, perhaps deliberately to create precisely such a photogenic martyr. The French footage, it turns out, was heavily edited--from six minutes to 50 seconds--and the French won't let anyone see the tape they didn't air. What's more, the Palestinian Authority didn't allow an autopsy on the boy and never released the bullet that killed him for outside scrutiny. ARD has done its own forensic investigation, however, and concluded that the shot that entered Muhammad's crouching body could not have come from the location where Israeli soldiers were positioned. ARD's report has been covered extensively in the German press (Die Welt headlined its article, "RICOCHETING TRUTH "). As of this writing, however, no major American newspaper or TV network--including the many that ran the original footage of Muhammad's death--has mentioned it.

Let's see who's willing to air more on this. Fox News? CNN?

Thursday, March 28, 2002

If you really want a glimpse of what's inside Hollywood, take a look at this piece in today's Salon by Nikki Finke. These are the people who decide every year what is and what is not worth seeing on a movie screen. It's a breath of fresh air that no one from New Line or anyone responsible for this year's genuine Best Picture, The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, was involved.

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Anyone who reads Pat Holt's excellent Holt Uncensored newsletter will not be surprised that Amazon has angered a lot of writers by adding links to their book listings for used versions of their books. Authors don't share in any royalty of used book sales. But while some are outraged at the idea, other authors think it's fine. Any way to get their work into the hands of potential readers is viewed by many as a plus. I must say I was flattered to see Amazon offer used copies of my (lamentably) slow selling novel for over $40. Somehow it cheers me up...
Speaking of church conservatives speaking out. Did anyone see Fox news the other night? Father Jim McCloskey of what was listed on the program as the Catholic Information Network spoke. The program did not point out that he is also a member of Opus Dei--an organization within the church that tends to send the Carrolls and Wills of the Catholic Left into paroxyms of paranoia every time they are mentioned. Needless to say, Father McCloskey didn't seem to think that a married clergy was going to solve the church's problems.
It was certainly predictable that writers such as Gary Wills and James Carroll would use the scandal for their continuing arguments in favor of abolishing celibacy and allowing women priests. They've been calling for these changes for years. What would be nice is if they actually had some data to back up their constant claim that married clergy and women priests are what would rejuvenate the church--when these innovations have done nothing to prevent the complete vaporization of the Episcopal Church in this country.

What was less predictable, however, was that Pat Buchanan, William F. Buckley, William Bennett, Michael Kelly, and other conservative RCs would turn on the American hierarchy. All of these writers have called on Boston's Cardinal Law to resign for the good of the church. What's more interesting though is how this scandal is going to focus the attention of rank and file Catholics on how the seminaries are run and how priests are screened. Whole books could be (and have been) written on the subject.

There is certainly a need to discuss the issue of celibacy in the priesthood. But not necessarily because it should be abolished outright. Perhaps the Catholic Church in America may adopt some split-level policy, as followed in the Orthodox churches, where priests are married and work at the parish level, while celibate monks and priests run the monasteries and the hierarchy.

One thing I noticed, that no one else has mentioned in the op-ed columns yet. Married priests are going to make church maintenance much more expensive for parishioners. Churches will be closed as will parochial schools as a married clergy takes root. Why? Feeding a priest is one thing. Feeding his family and putting his children through school is something else.

There is a certain Darwinian logic to the all-male priesthood. It's cheap. It's highly mobile and can be redirected and redeployed at short notice. This simply cannot be done in the other churches. Celibacy may be more difficult these days but I doubt the Catholic Church will dispense with it. It's just been too useful.

Cardinal Law must resign. But more importantly than that, as one of the abused men in the Father Geoghan case stated at a news conference, the people want to take their church back. They must start with the seminaries.
Wednesday, March 27, 2002: The Boston Globe carries a piece today discussing the (supposedly) surprising anger of conservative Catholics about the current scandals. Actually, conservative Catholics have been angry for a long time--this scandal is really the last straw probably in what may drive the right wing of the church to force Cardinal Law to resign.