Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Monday, August 25, 2014
From the mind of LarryD, with a little assist on the images from yours truly, comes the hereto untold conclusion to the confrontation between Jesus and the Sadducees from Matthew 22.
Saturday, August 23, 2014
For Aleteia this week, I reviewed When The Game Stands Tall, the story of the legendary coach of the De La Salle Spartans, Bob Ladouceur, and how he his team recover their spirits after blowing a 151 game winning streak. As is often the case with films directed by television veterans, the movie is kind of static and in no way flashy. Because of this, I’m pretty sure a lot of the big critics are going to beat it up. Ignore them, it’s a good movie.
Besides, it’s football season. Who doesn’t like the action, the drama, the… spinach?
That Olive Oyl sure is a fickle one isn’t she? It seems like all it takes to sway her affections is a check in the win or loss column.
Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary notes that happiness “implies a state of well-being and not some single experience, and a relative permanence and constancy.” Hence, you can’t expect to experience a lot of happiness in a relationship if you never know what state it’s going to be in from moment to moment.
Oh sure, the occasional fight here and there is fine. But if the whole shebang could end in a moment’s notice just because your significant other happens to glance a big galoot carrying a football better than you, well, I’d say there’s a lack of relative permanence and constancy there. No wonder poor Popeye always has that squinted up face and is mumbling to himself continuously. His woman’s inconstancy keeps him miserable.
Oh well, that’s just another reason to choose a spouse who makes an effort to conform themselves to God. As the Catechism notes, “In all his works God displays, not only his kindness, goodness, grace and steadfast love, but also his trustworthiness, constancy, faithfulness and truth.” Nowhere does it say he’ll dump you for falling behind in a football game.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
I’ll admit, even on a good day, the humor on this site can be a bit obscure. For example, last week I posted a cartoon about religious prejudice and crawling severed hands. Definitely not an SEO post.
The reason for the religious angle you can probably guess pretty easily. But as for why the hands, well, that depends on whether or not you know you’re familiar with all the killer hand flicks released throughout the decades. Let’s take a tour of that particular genre’s cinematic history with 11 movies featuring evil severed hands.
The Beast With Five Fingers (1946)
The granddaddy of all crawling hand movies! Peter Lorre chews up the screen in this tale of a deceased pianist whose hand isn’t ready to stop playing yet.
Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957)
A needle sprouting severed hand AND little green men with bulbous heads who kill their victims with alcohol poisoning? Yes, please!
The Crawling Hand (1963)
Okay, so it’s actually an astronaut’s whole arm crawling around instead of just his hand, but that only makes this MST3K staple all the more silly.
Dr. Terrors House of Horrors (1966)
One of the stories in this venerable anthology features Christopher Lee as an art critic tormented by the disembodied hand of the artist he drove to suicide. A bit of wish fulfillment fantasy from the writers of bad movies perhaps?
And Now the Screaming Starts (1973)
The poster prominently features the “dead hand that crawls”, but most folks just seem to remember the woman who gets assaulted and impregnated by a ghost. Go figure.
The Hand (1981)
A film about a cartoonist’s severed hand putting the squeeze on people starring Michael Caine and directed by Oliver Stone? Yes, it happened. And oddly enough, it’s not considered Stone’s worst film.
Evil Dead 2 (1987)
If you don’t already know about the evil crawling hand in this film, you probably arrived at this site by accident.
Severed Ties (1992)
Another film with a full arm, but this time the experiment gone wrong grows a tail as well. Scientists never learn, do they?
Waxwork II: Lost in Time (1992)
Technically, the sinister severed hand in this story made it’s debut in the first Waxwork, but it gets a lot more screen time in this one. Bruce Campbell shows up for a few minutes, as well. Guess he likes these hand movies.
Quicksilver Highway (1997)
An anthology composed of stories by Stephen King and Clive Barker sounds like a no-brainer, right? It would, if only those stories didn’t feature a set of killer chattering teeth and a bunch of hands that rise up against their oppressive human overlords.
Idle Hands (1999)
And finally, it’s the part killer hand/part 90s stoner horror comedy that no one was asking for. It always reaches this point, doesn’t it? If this setup had been done in the 40’s when the whole crawling hand business had just gotten started, it would have been an Abbot & Costello movie. Without all the marijuana, obviously.
So, as you can see, the severed hand genre has been around for a while. Still, we haven’t seen any new evil crawling hands at the theater for some time now. Where’s our reboot of The Beast With Five Fingers? Maybe the lack of dastardly digits in cinemas is because modern writers haven’t figured out an angle to approach the subject matter yet. I mean, what is it about disembodied hands that is supposed to be so unnerving anyway?
It’s possible the whole genre could just be filmmakers playing around with the notion of “Limb Phobia”, the irrational, constant fear of losing a part of your body (not to be confused with Apotemnophobia, the fear of people with amputations). The problem with that is Limb Phobia would account for the horror in seeing the hand cut off, but not so much in its coming back.
Another psychological explanation might lie in Freudian analysis. In his work, The Uncanny, Sigmund Freud discussed Wilhelm Hauff’s fairytale, The Story of the Severed Hand. It will probably come as no surprise to anyone that the good doctor reached the conclusion that the amputation in that story “certainly has an uncanny effect, and we have traced that effect back to the castration complex.” Basically, anytime a body part comes off in a story, Freud blames it on the author’s unconscious fear of castration as punishment for inappropriate sexual urges. That’s our Freud (cue laugh track). Again, though, the problem with that hypothesis (one of the problems anyway) is that it only accounts for the fear of losing the appendage, not in having it return.
To get to an idea that includes both separation and return, it might be helpful to look in the Bible. Jesus is quoted in a couple of places as saying, “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.” He was speaking metaphorically, of course (only certain atheists take stuff like that literally). It was a clever way of telling us we need to completely detach ourselves from whatever sinful habits we may have or immediately remove ourselves from occasions of sin we may find ourselves in.
But as anybody who has ever tried to kick a habit or break an addiction can tell you, that’s not the easiest thing in the world to do. Whatever sins troubled us in the past always seem to find a way to come back and try to snare us again. As the Catechism puts it, “If we do not allow the Spirit to lead us, we fall back into the slavery of sin.”
And that’s the subtext likely to be found in a number of these movies. Evil Dead 2 and Idle Hands are the most obvious examples, with demon possessed paws coming back to cause more trouble even after their owners have lopped off the offending appendages. But it works for most of the others as well, with miffed off mitts returning to exact a toll for past sins. Oh sure, you get the occasional social allegory such as with Barker’s story in Quicksilver Highway, but for the most part, crawling hand movies do a fine job of visualizing the difficulty in escaping those parts of our inner selves we’d be better off leaving behind.
All those who agree, please raise your hands. If you’ve still got them, that is.
Saturday, August 16, 2014
My review for Aleteia this week was for Calvary, John Michael McDonagh’s new film detailing what happens after a good priest receives receives a death threat from a former victim of child abuse during the sacrament of reconciliation. It’s intense, somber, and bleak… and I really liked it. So did The Happy Catholic and she scored a brief interview with the director.
Speaking of serious movies, we’ve mentioned the Vatican’s list of important films before. Well, it looks like R. Jared Staudt, Ph.D. at Catholic Exchange is taking a shot at watching as many as he can.
Moving a little closer towards the stuff we usually discuss around these parts, CNS reports that Archbishop Charles Chaput has gone gaga over the new movie, The Giver, calling it “well above standard ‘family’ fare in quality, rendered by an excellent cast.”
I guess the same can’t be said of Revenge of the Nerds, a film which Catholic Skywalker has decided must be one of the most morally corrosive movies of the 1980s.
For something a little less harsh (okay, not by much), why not head over to the Acton Institute where Joe Carter believes he’s discovered the proper way to understand Snowpiercer, Song Joon Ho’s sci-fi post-apocalyptic action film in which all of humanity lives aboard a giant speeding train.
And finally, in case you haven’t heard about it yet, well known Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin has started a new blog in which he intends to review every single episode of Doctor Who ever made.
Well, that’s enough reading for one week. We’ll see you next time.