Sunday, October 04, 2015

Bein' bad...

Did your high school have a smoke pit?

It might be a north American institution... doomed now that nearly all public places ban smoking. When I was in high school the smoke pit was a sheltered picnic table on the school grounds where the rough kids hung out during breaks. They were the bad kids. My school was unusual, though, and had a rather high standard, with smart and talented kids applying all over the district to get in. So we were unusual in that the smoke pit kids were also mostly the straight A and honours students. It's where I learned to value the combination of smart and bad.

I didn't smoke, but the smoke pit was always the most interesting place to hang out.

I kind of think of What's Up with the Synod as the smoke pit of the Synod coverage.

Come on, hang with us... be a little bad


Saturday, October 03, 2015

I have defeated entropy!

Well, that's a life-changing event. Someone has just given me a nice big cupboard, with doors that close with a magnetic latch.

This might not seem like such a big deal to N. Americans and Anglos, but in Italy is is normal for a home not to have any built in storage. No closets, no cupboards, shelves or anything. (Yes, it's weird, but there are so many of these little incomprehensible Italianisms that you really sort of cease to be bothered by it if you can hold out long enough to break through the wall.) You have to buy it all, and there are still lots and lots of wardrobes around, and all sorts of storage units, lurking in people's garages. If you're not used to this, you don't own these things and when you move into an unfurnished apartment, until you have acquired a few of them, your stuff sits around in boxes and tends to accumulate in stacks all over the place.

The cupboard that arrived this morning at nine am, is just about as ugly an object as the late 70s was capable of producing. Pressboard, covered in some kind of cream coloured faux...stuff...I don't know what, exactly. Anyway, it's going to get covered in paint very soon.

The real thing about it is that all my art stuff, jars of pencils, brushes and tools, little boxes of gouache paint tubes, cartons of watercolour pencils, bottles of various toxic substances, big tubs of gesso, books, palettes and assorted paraphernalia, were spread all over my work table, making it a daily chore to make space enough to actually do anything. And every night, since the work room is also the kitties' room where they sleep at night, another chore was securing everything so the entire array didn't get turned into hockey pucks.

But it's all in there now. All up high where, should the day arrive that they figure out how to open cupboard doors, it will be completely out of reach.

I feel like my nose has suddenly cleared after a long cold, and I can breathe again.


(Yes yes yes... Synod of Doom... Asteroid... yadda yadda...)


Friday, October 02, 2015

Liveblogging the Apocalypse - coming out of retirement


Introducing my little Evil Project for the duration of the Synod.

Later today (I hope) The Remnant will be producing a longish article I wrote explaining in detail (and at length... sorry in advance) why I abruptly gave up news reporting in May this year, literally walking away. In truth, I had gone down to Rome for the March for Life, and the little quiet voice that had been whispering to me for about five years to move on, grew to a roar. I could no longer ignore my misgivings about the value of it. I'm not even really sure what came over me. I had gone to lunch with some friends, and then a couple of us went to the pub for a mojito. Then we went back to my friend's place where I was staying, and watched a movie.

The next morning, when I woke up, feeling surprisingly refreshed, I simply knew that the time was up. I packed my things, took leave of my friends and got on the train and went home.

I spent most of the summer doing not much more than thinking about it and going for walks. I did a few things for the Remnant, and found a new voice started developing, and a new conviction. We all knew full well that the thing that started today, the Synod, would be a watershed moment in the history of the Catholic Church. We all saw it coming, though even now no one really has any idea of exactly what to expect. For me, however, the one thing remained clear: this was too important to treat as "news".

But as we drew closer and closer to the day, I found the old urge to report and reveal coming back furiously.

Yesterday, talking to some blogger friends, it was suggested that we set up a war room, a place where traditionally-minded Catholic bloggers, writers and commentators can write and comment about the Synod as it is happening.

And, as things on the internet are generally about three minutes between conception of the idea and realization of the object,

Hey Presto!

A group blog,

What's Up With the Synod?

I have recruited some familiar voices who have agreed to help with their examination and analysis of the situation, with a no-holds-barred rule. Names will be revealed shortly (though in some cases, identities will remain obscured.)

I sent around the following note to some of the louder-mouthed among my colleagues:
We'll run original blog posts as opinion pieces, we'll steal other people's stuff from other sites like the pirates we are, and we'll run original interviews with people on the ground in Rome that no one else will get because we'll have at least a couple of people on board who will be in situ. I will be inviting people to blog against the highjacking of the Synod ... We will give voices to people who would otherwise never be heard.
So, beware, beware, oh those of delicate sensibilities, there will possibly be some salty language as well as some unabashed truth-telling, some openly "divisive" posts, some people (I hope) saying things there that aren't being said anywhere else.

You thought the Mad Rad Trads were the bad kids before? Well the gloves are off today, boys and girls.

I am also opening the commboxes. Get in there, people. Tell us what you really think.

Once more unto the breach!


Ride to ruin, and the world's ending!

I just keep coming back to this, for some reason.


The plot sickens.

Trad quote of the week:

"When I turned trad I never imagined I'd have to determine the credibility of various Italian journalists to figure out if a pope abdicated properly or not."


Thursday, October 01, 2015

A New Papacy for a New Church

It's funny about the popular obsession with the red shoes, huh? Two years ago there was a kind of weird miniature frenzy over the fact that Bergoglio doesn't wear them (and of course, the implicit sneer at Benedict who did.)

So much noise was made about the shoes in the press that we had Bergoglio himself getting in on the rather nasty joke during the recent triumphal progress. Like every school bully that ever existed, he does seem to make a point of picking on the weaker kids, in this case, the last remnants of believers in the Church. In what is now the normal papal style, he landed a sucker punch and then while the victim was gasping and wondering what was going on, turned around to his gang of followers and snarled out a joke about it.

Mocking and bullying devout little old ladies. What a mensch.

But why did the red shoes even get a mention at all? Why did anyone even notice they were missing in Bergoglio's chosen manner of dress?

Because they are symbolic. Because somewhere deep in the festering swamps of modern man's soul, there is still a tiny glimmer of recognition that symbols are a real thing, there is still communication going on. It's just that now, the New Catholic Man hates and violently rejects what the shoes symbolise. They were one of the last fragments of the deeply symbolic papal grandeur that Benedict XVI was able to revive, and even that so enraged the enemies of Christ that they were the subject of electronic reams of scorn-heaping articles.

But of course, none of the journalists sneering at Benedict or sniggering at Bergoglio's nasty jokes has bothered to stop and look it up, and find out why popes used to wear the things they did. A while ago someone wrote somewhere that this kind of portrait of a pope, where it looks like he's wearing so much stuff that it's holding him up, was like that on purpose. That "holding him up" was precisely the desired effect. This was because the papacy was not supposed to be about the pope. It was supposed to be about Christ and His holy Church.

Remember those photos everyone mocks of President Obama dressed in a polo shirt and cycling shorts and a bike helmet? Those are understood as symbolic garments, and the American political cartoonists have got the message: Obama is a liberal Beta male, not someone to be taken seriously. They are often placed next to pictures of Vladimir Putin bench pressing Russian bears. Political cartoonists are perhaps the last people on earth who still fully grasp the purpose of the physical symbols of politics.

Just try to imagine what the People's Pope would look like dressed up like Pope St. Pius X, Hammer of the  Modernists...


Yeah. Me too.

Today I came across possibly the best description of the purpose of all that papal pomp and circumstance that New Catholic Man hates so much. Read it, and you will learn why New Catholic Man is no one I want to meet.

One of the things the following clarifies, once again, is that Bergoglio is not anything surprising. We have the pope we've been asking for, for decades. He's a pope in the populist model that John Paul II was so beloved for, only without all those tiresome big words everyone had to look up all the time, and most importantly, without all that tedious religious stuff.


[I have retained all the ridiculous American spellings, to prove that it wasn't me...]

It's a very Catholic instinct, a reflex, really, to adore the pope as our sweet Christ on earth, as the sacrosanct keeper of the keys, as the vice regent of the King of the Universe. The problem is this papal affection has been running on the wrong kind of fuel for decades.

When the papacy decided to "loosen up," lower itself, scrape off the barnacles, lose the triple tiara, dye the Church´s proverbial hair and spring for hair implants, the focus, paradoxically, went from the august office to the active, and even hyperactive, man in that office. If you observe the photo of Pope Pius XII in procession, there are multiple layers of order and decorum and rank which act like a kevlar vest for the instinctive popular clamor...

Precisely because Pacelli was ensconced in such an intricate web of sacred semiotics and, shall we say, mystical bureaucracy, the savor and brightness of his unique person was blunted, dimmed, diffused, so that the popular devotion flowed towards what he was animating, rather than towards his charisma, jawline, hand signals, idiosyncratic gestures, etc. A man elected to be pope did not just die to himself by devoting all his labors to the care of the Church, but his personality was radically smothered by the byzantine demands of his clothing, routine, manner of speech, associations, residence, and so on. That was how a sacrosanct office ran on the fuel of sacrosanct populism.

As things stand now, though, the papacy has become so democratized, so "personalized", that the ancient instinct to adore the pope can only find purchase on the unique surface of the particular man with the papal ring. Without the traditional semiotic buffer, the pope-man cannot but become one Great Leader among others (e.g. "the Catholic Reagan," "the Catholic Obama", etc.). This is why Francis's famous "humility" rings so hollow.

Precisely by rejecting the conventional residence, clothing, shoes, forms of expression, associations, liturgical disciplines, etc., he becomes a tractor beam of attention. It may be unwitting but he´s inadvertently become the biggest egotist in the world, sort of like the man who becomes the loudest in the room by repeatedly assuring everyone that he´s not going to say anything else. He is Pope Kanye West and he is here to stay.

As for the selfies, that's just symptomatic of our dumbass age. I suspect Dante would have penciled in a perverse punishment for the vanity that smart phones generally sustain. Perhaps an arm wrapped around one's own throat in an eternal sneering strangulation.

But I digress...


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Thanks for all the help.

...I'm about half way to my hoped-for goal of covering the gas and electric bills.

Total Pageviews
1,000,863 yesterday, up to
1,003,368 today!

Holy hannah! Welcome zillions of Pewsitters!!!

A sincere, no-joke thank you to all who have helped so far.

Things have been a little weird lately, haven't they?

I hope to continue covering the weirdness in an unrestrained fashion over the next month or so, but it would be a lot easier if the Italian national gas and electricity monopolies didn't cut me off.

I quit my day job in May and... well... it's been getting weirder and weirder out there, y'know?

Let's just say that those writers with more... forthright dispositions are finding it difficult to get freelance gigs in what we must now call the "mainstream Catholic media," if you know what I mean.

I do hope to continue reporting/mocking events as we proceed into what will likely be one of the most interesting periods of Catholic history.

But to do so, I could really still use a little help from kind readers.



... He'll be here all week...

Take my mayor... please... 

I'm starting to feel toward Frank how I ended up feeling about Berlusconi... it's a bloody train wreck, but hilarious.

Yes yes... we're all very upset... blah, blah, blah...Evil pope destroys Church, yadda yadda...

But the sheer Italianness of it all is starting to be pretty entertaining.

The difference, of course, is that Silvio always did stuff with sly grin, like he realized it was all a joke and he was letting you in on it. Frank, on the other hand, is deadly serious, particularly about himself and his own wonderfulness, which makes the whole thing even better.

Yesterday's Papal comedy sketch was pretty good. Did y'all see him diss the mayor of Rome?

Pope calls Rome Mayor Marino a "pretend Catholic."

The unforgiving assessment of Ignazio Marino -- a man the Italian media love to hate -- further heightened tensions between the pope and the mayor in the run-up to the start of the Holy Year of Mercy in December, with the Vatican fearful the Italian capital is ill-prepared for the millions of extra pilgrims.

There y'go. One for the "pope of mercy" files.

Of course, once again as usual with Pope Frank, the move wasn't exactly "speaking truth to power." Marino is just about the most hated man in the country right now. Rome is falling apart (more than usual) and the people who live there, as they wait on stifling hot subway trains that stop for half an hour in the tunnels between stations, spend their time thinking of all the things the Roman Mob used to do to unpopular Emperors. So, you know, pretty safe target.

And funny thing... just for no reason at all and out of the blue and stuff, the next day, the Rome cops came to the streets around the Vatican and ticketed every Vatican employee car they could find.

In case you've never been to the Eternal Dumpster, this is Rome on a completely normal day,

... and none of it ever distracts the Roman police from their important flirting-with-women investigations.

Today's update on the papal vaudeville act:

A Rome radio station decides to prank the Vatican (a popular form of entertainment for Roman radio personalities). Someone from the Radio 24 satirical programme, La Zanzara (The Mosquito) impersonating the Italian premier Matteo Renzi, calls Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Holy See's Pontifical Council for the Family and one of Frank's lower level lieutenants, asking him how the pope felt about Marino joining the papal entourage in Philadelphia.

Paglia replied, not without embarrassment, that Marino’s “exploitation” of the World Meeting of Families on 26 September “infuriated Number One [Pope Francis]”.

Asked by the Renzi impersonator whether Marino had “gate-crashed” the event, the prelate quickly agreed in the affirmative. “Marino was very insistent on seeing Pope Francis [in Philadelphia] and this annoyed the pope tremendously”, said Paglia, adding: “The mayor is a good man, a good person, but nobody on our behalf invited him.”

120% increase in Rome fender-benders as Romans listening to the radio in the car go limp with helpless laughter.


I realise Americans tend to take the whole Vatican thing with absolute deadly seriousness, following the papal lead. But Italians are somewhat more ... errr... irreverent.

This man commands a cwack dicastewy!
He wanks as high as any in Wome!

"Centuwian why do they titter so?"

"Just some Roman joke, sir."

"Are they... wagging me?"

"Oh NO sir!"


Well well... we topped a million

Total Pageviews

The result of writing snippy stuff about the pope, I guess...

(Actually, I didn't install the visit counter until I'd been blogging at this site for five years, so, I expect we actually topped a million at least a couple of years ago... but anyway...)

I feel as though I ought to open a bottle of champagne.

Except that four months ago, for various reasons to be revealed shortly, I quit my regular gig, and now can't cover the gas or electric bills. Freelance gigs haven't quite flooded in as I had hoped.

I really could use a little help. Any donations to the tip jar on the sidebar would be greatly appreciated.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"There was a blackmail come from who knows where, through SWIFT, exercised on Benedict XVI."

This is starting to not be funny anymore.

Ratzinger non poté “né vendere né comprare”
Ratzinger he could "neither sell nor buy"
Maurizio Blondet

Roughly translated by Google:

"Few know what SWIFT (the acronym stands for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) is: in theory, is a global "clearing house", uniting 10,500 banks in 215 countries. In fact, is the most occult and sole center of American-globalist financial power, a bastion of blackmail on which the hegemony of the dollar, the most powerful means of political and economic espionage (to the detriment especially for us Europeans) and the means by which the most feared global finance breaks the legs of states that do not obey. …


"'When a bank or territory is excluded from the system, as it did in the case of the Vatican in the days before the resignation of Benedict XVI in February 2013, all transactions are blocked. Without waiting for the election of Pope Bergoglio, the Swift system has been unlocked the announcement of the resignation of Benedict XVI.

"'There was a blackmail come from who knows where, through SWIFT, exercised on Benedict XVI. The underlying reasons for this story have not been clarified, but it is clear that SWIFT has intervened directly in the management of affairs of the Church.'

"This explains and justifies the unprecedented resignation of Ratzinger, that many of us have been able to exchange for an act of cowardice; the Church was treated as a state 'terrorist', but worse — because note that the dozen banks falling into the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria 'are not excluded from SWIFT' and continue to be able to make international transactions — and the Vatican finances could no longer pay the nunciature, to convey transport missions — in fact, the same ATM of Vatican City had been blocked.

The Church of Benedict could not 'neither sell nor buy'; its own economic life was counted in hours."