Wednesday, October 31, 2007

And What Do They Think Barbie is?

This is a good article. It is well written and to the point. Best quote:

As boys age, their clothes get baggier until their bodies disappear. As girls become teens, their attire becomes so small and tight to the point that the clothes disappear.

Wed, Oct. 31, 2007

Karen Heller | Naughty - and definitely not nice

By Karen Heller

Inquirer Columnist
As we well know, Halloween marks a sanctioned occasion for girls to dress up - or is it down? - like the trollops of MTV and get candy for it.

They're sweet tarts, Lolitas-in-training with lollipops.

Young people may be shocked to learn that MTV began life as a music channel, one that aired a constant stream of videos with nubile women in scanty clothing.

Today, MTV is a "reality" channel featuring the appropriately named Hills and frisky bisexual and ultimate MySpacer Tila Tequila, her claim to fame being that she's an equal-opportunity tramp.

The music on MTV is now used to set the mood. Only the women in scanty clothing have remained the same.

Indeed, it's one of the few constants in contemporary culture on which you can depend. Another is a strange permutation of sartorial physics. As boys age, their clothes get baggier until their bodies disappear. As girls become teens, their attire becomes so small and tight to the point that the clothes disappear.

The holiday Victoria's Secret catalogue arrived the other day because nothing quite says Christmas like a Very Sexy® Infinity Edge™ Snow Leopard convertible push-up bra with Gel-Curve™.

How do we know it's Very Sexy®? Because it's written all over the bra, subtlety being anathema to the company.

A colleague immediately hid the catalogue of supermodels busting out all over, not so much from his 16-year-old son as his 13-year-old daughter.

A quick perusal through the 188-page doorstopper reveals marketing no longer directed at his wife but teen girls, if not tweens, contributing to what my colleague labels the continuing "slutification of America."

Victoria's Secret's Pink line, launched in 2004, has bloomed into a $1 billion brand. The company publicly promotes Pink to college kids, but dog prints, slumber party pj's, sweats aping soccer attire, camis and panties in ice cream-cone packaging suggest a decidedly younger demographic.

Have we mentioned that there are dress-up dolls "plush and pretty for the ultimate girly-girl?" Sure, that's what every college sophomore desires.

The catalogue features a "supermodel pj party," vixens in sequined bras and flannel bottoms - right, that frequent combo - without a cigarette, champagne bottle or Leonardo DiCaprio in the photo.

Pink is the Joe Camel of thongs. The line is advertised in YM and Teen Vogue magazines, which boast 12-17 aspirational demographics. The success is in the bottoms. All you need to do is count the number of teens with "Pink" plastered on their rears, the word in the VS world being more suggestive than simply being a "girly-girl." What kind of parents are paying for these clothes, which give strangers the pleasure of reading their daughters' keisters?

Going after a younger "Santa's naughty list" demographic is as logical as it is distasteful, the idea being that from the Pink sleepshirt it's just a few pages to the bustier and Brazilian panty.

Most teenagers like to shop. Many, sadly, want to appear older than they are at precisely the moment when their mothers' bodies are heading in a decidedly different direction, one more suited to Spanx slimming intimates than the Very Sexy® Infinity Edge™ Snow Leopard convertible push-up bra with Gel-Curve™.

Sometimes it seems as if the American Dream is all about trying to become something we're not and can never become, no matter how high our credit limit.

It's too bad that adolescence has become such a market-driven moment. Shopping shouldn't be what defines our identity, though, sadly, it often does. When parents have to hide a lingerie catalogue from their girls, you know a Very Sexy® shift has occurred.

Contact staff writer Karen Heller at 215-854-3586 or To read her recent work:

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Man and Woman

From MIT- they're obviously doing some good work there.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Red Sox Nation Building

I'm watching the game right now and we are at the top of the 7th inning. The Red Sox, who I had pretty much written off, are winning. But I am wondering a few things-

1. What is it with the extensive NECKWEAR???? One player appears to be wearing his mother's string of pearls. Maybe her 50s pumps were not his size? And pitcher Josh Beckett seems to be wearing something woven and of hemp with a heart cut out attached.

2. Poor, poor Terry Franconia. He keeps his head down, chews gums with jaws working like the shafts that power the wheels of a locomotive. How does he relax, if ever?

3. Why are the Cleveland fans waving towels or washclothes or barkeep rags or ...something? The Pittsburgh Steelers tried that. It was a failure.

4. There is a short in our living room light. In this house it's not surprising. But you know that your husband is a gadget/mad scientist/inventor type when your son asks if Dad programmed the living room to turn on and off when someone walks in and out of the room. (Oh that, and your son is as clueless as only teenage boys can be).

5. Just saw the beer commercial when the guys bring bottles of beer into an opera and watch helplessly as the opera singer makes the bottles crack. That's funny. And only 1 in 10 beer commercials are.

6. And what are the little goatee, goatee-wanna-bes, tufts of hair growing haphazardly on player's faces? They remind me of the little pencils with stiff brush attached that we used to use to brush away the eraser shavings when we were typing. In other words, "not a look". That's one thing (of many)that I love about the military- no beards or facial hair.

7. Beckett seems to be a good pitcher but is a lousy fielder. He just got an error. If he blows the game it won't matter how many strikes he threw- ya know?

8. Why doesn't Boston have anyone warming up in the Bullpen? It's the bottom of the 7th.

9.Why am I staying up so late to watch this game? The lack of sleep will surely wreck havoc with my looks. I need my beauty sleep- let me assure you.

10. Do the Red Sox players who are drumming with empty water bottles know that it is a law in Massachusetts that you hav to recycle?

11. I still don't understand naming your son Coco Crisp. And I don't care what country you're from.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Simply Tea and where it is Best

The hills of darjeeling

For tea lovers who understand the importance of a good cup of tea: the Frugal Traveler from the New York Times traveled to Darjeeling in Nepal. (And not even a mention of Mount Everest *sniff*)

Where the egos of the tea barons are as big as their fortunes.

"First Flush"- the first crop of tea leaves, said to be superior to later harvests.

I have drunk tea brewed by the women who picked it
At the end of their day and the start of my night.
I have drunk tea after birth and it tasted like nectar.
I have had tea with milk, sugar, jasmine and Mary.
I have drunk Ceylon in Ceylon, and Darjeeling in Darjeeling.
I have had it green, black, white, red and golden.
I have drunk it from porcelain, bamboo and clay.
I have cried into it and had my future read from it.
I have drunk it when I haven’t wanted it, and when I’m desperate for one.
I’ve drunk it with Russian sailors, Shivas, divas, grandmothers, vicars, lovers, friends.
In my dreams I’ve had a nice cup of tea with the Queen, Attilla the Hun, Elvis, Nelson Mandela.
I’ve had it hot, iced and spiced.
I’ve drunk it in the air, up a mountain, on an elephant, in a train, and tea at sea.
Tea, tea, tea, will you share a cup with me?

Annamaria Murphy

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Prayer Request to St. Gianna del Molla for this mother and baby

Picture by Anton Rausch

Subject: Please pray for my friend, Stacey P.
Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2007 17:22:27 -0400

Hello Friends and Family -

This is Erin Hopkins with a very urgent and sincere request for prayers. My friend and one-time college roommate is battling brain cancer and has been receiving chemo and radiation for nearly one year. Stacey is a mother to two young children and a wife to Joey, they live in Atlanta. She just found out that she is 18 weeks pregnant. She became pregnant during her chemo and radiation and therefore, the baby has been exposed to these chemicals from day one.

She has opted to take a 10 week break from her treatment to allow the baby to reach 28 weeks gestation, when they will deliver the baby via C-section. She has been informed by her baby-related doctors that the chemo is very strong and particularly attacks DNA growth in cells and therefore the baby. They are quite certain that there will be neurologic damage to the baby, although the ultrasounds have thus far showed relatively normal growth.

Additionally, her cancer-related doctors have told her that they do not want her to stop her treatment of cancer (even for 10 wks!) because her cancer is so aggressive. They said that if they allowed her to carry the baby to 40 weeks gestation, she would probably not live to deliver the baby. So, Stacey is choosing to give her child a chance and risk her own life. I still cannot believe the situation that this family has been put in, even as I type this.

As a member of Stacey's network of support and prayers, I am asking that you specifically say a prayer to Pope John Paul II. He is in the process of being named a saint and needs a second miracle to "qualify" for sainthood. We have decided to storm heaven with prayers to our former Pope, specifically asking him to stop the growth of Stacey's cancer while she stops her treatment.

Many of you may also be calling to mind the story of St. Gianna Molla, whom JPII canonized in the 1994, whose story is very similar to Stacey's. You can read it here:

Finally, I just want to thank you for having read this far. I appreciate the time you took to read this and say a prayer for Stacey, her unborn child and her family. Stacey herself asks that we be sure to pray for her husband, Joey who is truly heartbroken.

Erin Hopkins


UnHoly Cross College Defies Bishop

This should be interesting.

Holy Cross President Fr. McFarland is determined to go ahead with the Teen Pregnancy Conference in spite of the Bishop's request to cancel. Even Boston College doesn't sink this low according to the article.

The Worcester Telegram and Gazette article
has this statement from the President of Holy Cross:

“Beyond the contractual obligation, it is important to emphasize that the college believes a meeting of adult professionals pooling resources, engaging in a dialogue and exchanging information is a beneficial way of grappling with pressing issues related to the health and well-being of Massachusetts teenagers and children,” said Rev. McFarland. “As an institution of higher learning, we are dedicated to the open exchange of ideas. As a Jesuit college, Holy Cross is committed to its mission of engaging with the larger culture on even the most problematic and divisive of moral and spiritual issues.”

By "contractual obligations" the President of the college is referring to the $10,000 fee paid to Holy Cross to hold the birth control and abortion event. Though it is hard to put a price tag on the veneer of respectability and perception of approval from the Church, I would say that the Teen Pregnancy Alliance really has a bargain.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

What They Don't Tell You...

When you make this cake- shown on the cover of Country Living October 2007 is that your teeth and lips will turn black. Like in this picture:

And having your lips and teeth turn black does not contribute to a general air of romance. And we place a very high priority on romance here.

I think it took an extra glass of white zinfandel to overcome the black teeth in fact.

By the way I snagged the picture from an adorable blog- Brenda's Cottage that I found and will definitely go back to visit. Thanks for the picture Brenda. Thanks for the black teeth Country Living.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

His Excellency Bishop McManus at His Most Excellent

[Note the veiled threat to remove the College's designation as Catholic]

Statement from Most Rev. Robert J. McManus, S.T.D.
Regarding Teen Pregnancy Conference at the College of the Holy Cross

A controversy has arisen at the College of the Holy Cross that has resulted from the College’s renting space for a conference sponsored by the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy. The conference involves workshops presented by members of Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. Both organizations promote positions on artificial contraception and abortion that are contrary to the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.

I have received numerous complaints from people who are shocked and outraged that a Catholic institution like Holy Cross would have anything to do with such groups. They have appealed to me to ask Father Michael McFarland, president of the College of the Holy Cross, to revoke the College’s agreement to rent space to the Massachusetts Teen Alliance. I have done so.

As Bishop of Worcester, it is my pastoral and canonical responsibility to determine what institutions can properly call themselves “Catholic.” This is a duty that I do not take lightly since to be a Catholic institution means that such an institution conducts its mission and ministry in accord with Catholic Church teaching, especially in cases of faith and morals.

The moral teaching of the Catholic Church on respect for life at all stages of its development is manifestly clear. Life is a fundamental good that must be protected and respected from the moment of fertilization to natural death. This teaching is so basic and important that it provides the foundation upon which much of the Church’s moral and social doctrine rests. It is beyond modification and compromise.

Both Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice are notorious for their policies and practices that directly reject the Church’s teaching on artificial contraception and abortion. The College of the Holy Cross should recognize that any association with these groups can create the situation of offering scandal understood in its proper theological sense, i.e., an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. Certainly it is understandable how people of good will could interpret the college’s allowing presentations to be made by such groups as truly scandalous.

I strongly contend that the confusion and upset to the Catholic faithful and others that flow from the perception that the administration of the College of the Holy Cross supports positions contrary to the fundamental moral teaching of the Church must be avoided. To deny Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice a forum in which to present their morally unacceptable positions is not an infringement of the exercise of academic freedom but a defensible attempt to make unambiguously clear the Catholic identity and mission of the College of the Holy Cross.

It is my fervent wish that the administration of the College of the Holy Cross will unequivocally disassociate itself from the upcoming conference sponsored by the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy so that the college can continue to be recognized as a Catholic institution committed to promoting the moral teaching of the Roman Catholic church.

Issued October 10, 2007, WORCESTER

Fairs, Freaks and Finding a Catholic College

And it's oh dear, what can the matter be
Dear, dear What can the matter be
Oh dear, what can the matter be
Johnny's so long at the fair.

Well I've been away but I haven't been to the fair, though I did go to the Immaculate Heart of Mary October Bazaar. In a side note, the day following the bazaar I was at a Confirmation in the Traditional rite about 30 miles away and my daughter overhead someone saying, "I don't know what was going on yesterday, some kind of a 'Feeney fest'". Note to people who say such things- you don't make us mad- you just make us laugh. Heartily.

My oldest daughter has been getting so many interesting things from Colleges- she took her SATs and when you do, you get on the mailing lists of some unusual institutions. The College of St. Rose in Albany even sent Ana a bound book, highlighting the aspects of the College that they are most proud of. For example, they have a Professor of English who writes poetry about Queen. The rock band. A band that was popular in the 1980s. I think someone has been listening to one too many "Back to the Awesome 80s" nights on the local radio station. This professor has high standards (and obviously high aspirations) and says he is happy to have his students write poetry about what "moved them" on last night's episode of Survivor. The gate to tenure track is wide these days.

And if you don't know about the Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College make sure to get a copy if your son or daughter will be going to college soon. Oh, and there are more and more Colleges that are having the Traditional Latin Mass on their campuses.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

What About Bob Books?

When I was first homeschooling I asked about early readers. A good friend and successful homeschooler said to me, "Of course you know about The Bob Books"! I was embarrased to admit that I did not.

It's difficult to explain the Bob books- they are a series of small paperback books, sized mini to fit into a child's hands with simple illustrations and a simple and appealing storyline. The characters- Mat and Sam in the first book are adventurous and goodnatured creatures that will make you smile because they are always smiling. And when you are teaching a child how to read- you need to smile- sometimes from sheer force of the will. These will help.

The first set is for Beginning Readers and comes with 12 small books arranged in a neat box so they will not be scattered all over the house.

You will like these little books and most importantly your children will like them. They would make a great Christmas gift for your grandchildren, they are essential for homeschoolers or anyone who is teaching a young child to read and looking for phonics enrichment. And unlike those ridiculous "Hooked on Phonics" programs- did anyone ever really use those? These are reasonably priced and well worth the money- even to a penny pincher like me.

Available at Amazon.