Search Results for: cale

America’s third favorite holiday

Halloween is America’s third favorite holiday,  just after Christmas and Thanksgiving. (See the whole list after the jump.)  Halloween used to be a holiday mainly for children dressing up and going trick-or-treat, but now it has been seized by adults, who also like to dress up and scare themselves.   Why do you think Halloween has become so popular in our culture?   Is there something about American individualism that makes us enjoy dressing up, putting on a mask, and pretending to be someone else?   I hear that the big Halloween dress-up thing for this year is to make yourself up to look like an Ebola victim.   The Halloween vogue would appear to be related to the aesthetics of darkness and horror that seem to be dominant in our popular culture, judging from our movies, books, films, art, television shows, and video games.  This would seem to accord with what the recent pope called our current “culture of death.”  Maybe death provides the mystery, the sense of the uncanny, the non-rational emotions even though they be horrific, that can substitute for the mystery, the sense of the supernatural, and the religious experiences associated with a transcendent faith.

I don’t intend to take an anti-Halloween stance, as such, in this post.  I’m just curious why the holiday has jumped ahead of Easter, patriotic holidays like the 4th of July, and even people’s birthdays in popularity.  What significance do you see in this? [Read more...]

Whatever happened to the National Council of Churches?

The ecumenical organization of liberal mainline Protestants (plus the Orthodox, which I never understood) known as the National Council of Churches used to be enormously influential.  But now it has dwindled to insignificance.  Jacob Lupner explains what happened and how the NCC is trying to rise again. [Read more...]

Australia thwarts ISIL beheading plot

Islamic State jihadists planned to kidnap two random people off the street in Australia and then behead them, showing the video online as a way to demonstrate their worldwide reach.  But Australian authorities discovered the plot, arresting 15 people in the country’s largest counterterrorism operation.

Do you doubt that ISIL (I’m just going to start calling them that) would like to do something similar in the United States?  I predict that instead of the large-scale mass killings favored by al-Qaeda, the new ISIL-flavored terrorism will aim at smaller-scale attacks that are easier to carry out but that still have a maximum horrific impact.  Think, beheadings. [Read more...]

Taking Lassie straight to merchandising

The Hollywood studio DreamWorks has the rights to Lassie, the TV show about a heroic collie that is the third longest running TV drama of all time (behind Gunsmoke and Law & Order).  But the studio thinks the character is too old-fashioned for a new TV show or movie.  So the plan is to take Lassie straight to the true goal of making movie heroes these days:  merchandising.

Finding that Lassie is still beloved, she will be making appearances on TV shows, commercials, and a host of Lassie-related products.

Do you agree that Lassie, while still popular, is unable to entertain children today?  That children have to have explosions and superheroes; otherwise, they will be “bored”?   That’s the view expressed after the jump. [Read more...]

Russia invades Ukraine!

Russia has reportedly invaded the Ukraine, sending two armored columns that captured a town near the border. [Read more...]

The island that time forgot

Back when I was in graduate school, I took a course on American English.  We studied the history and characteristics of the various American dialects, including that of Tangier Island.  This little island in the middle of Chesapeake Bay was settled by English folks from the Cornwall district back in the 1600s.  They and their descendants were so isolated–today it’s an hour-and-a-half boat ride from the mainland–that their language and culture have hardly changed over the centuries.

As a 17th century scholar, I have always wanted to visit Tangier Island.  So we did. [Read more...]


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