Friday, August 23, 2002

’Dox on Film: My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Copied from my soon-to-be-gone original message board (BeSeen is going under)

Saw this slightly ridiculous but ultimately sweet, feel- good movie, the semiautobiographical work of its naturally cute star, Nia Vardalos. (She’d look better still with straight- bobbed hair but the perm fit the culture of the character she was playing.) I was expecting the self-hating/ethnic-joke aspect to offend (like when George on Seinfeld converted to ‘Latvian Orthodoxy’ to impress a girl, or worse, Latka, Simka and Fr Gorky on Taxi — I HATED that) but, though I know few Greeks (the Greek-Americans I know didn’t like ‘Greek school’ either), it seemed to be a caricature of real things, good and bad, one observes about the group. The Church stuff seemed refreshingly accurate (unlike the TV trash mentioned above) — Nia’s secular WASP fiancй (the main source of the movie’s plot and tension) is baptized and chrismated to please her family (immigrant diner- owner Papa is initally dead against his daughter going out with one of the xenoi, natch). The wedding itself was interesting — seemed to be a hybrid of real Orthodox stuff and some Western flourishes. Besides the organ (a borrowing from Protestant practice the Greeks actually have), there was the ‘Wedding March’ up the aisle. Was this a concession to moviegoers’ expectations or are Greek weddings in the US really this hybridized?

SCTV fans, note: lovely Andrea Martin, who is actually Armenian, plays Nia’s worldly-wise aunt who helps Nia start her new life away from Papa’s domineering.

Although there was premarital sex, overall the romance in the movie was charmingly old-fashioned and not at all like the mess that dating among secular people really is.

The tension between American individualism and old- country family togetherness gone wrong gives something for us Byzantine Christians to think about. I realized how American I am and thought of the challenge of reconciling that with the communal aspects of the faith. The ultimate message from the movie is good: American-style assertiveness need not contradict the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Guilty Pleasures: Beyond Belief

I don’t watch that much TV but these days Thursday nights the Fox network in the US has a delightful hourlong program, Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction?, presenting about five Twilight Zone-ish stories. The gimmick is some or all of the stories may be true. Of course they tell you at the end which is which. Parts of the fun: presenter Jonathan Frakes smirking as he makes bad puns and the obvious fact that the stories are cheaply ‘shawt’ (as most of the actors would say, eh?) in Canada. Star Trek geeks might remember Frakes as the second-in-command on one of the ’90s series. In real life he is a strong Christian (Lutheran) and once helped make some videos of Bible stories.

A new low in popular culture

Two lowlife DJs at a New York radio station had a contest in which the couple who had sex in the most public places would win a tour of the Samuel Adams brewery in Boston. A duo from Virginia did it in St Patrick’s Cathedral (on the feast of the Assumption!), got caught and were arrested. (Churches were 25 points in the game. Charming.)

I understand WNEW’s ‘Opie & Anthony’ show has been canceled.

One good thing AFAIK about, say, pre-1965 America is anyone who pulled such a stunt (very unlikely back then) would have been fired and probably never could work in the radio or TV business ever again. Fine with me, as long as it’s not the government doing the banning.

If I were a bishop, and any of the actors involved were nominal Orthodox in my eparchy and they did their deed in one of my churches, I’d slap them with a canonical penance, like excommunicating them for a couple of years. And share the info on the crime and the perps with all my priests to enforce it. Not that it would mean much to the perps, but even nonpracticing Christians in America want pretty church weddings, in only to have nice photos and to please the families. An excommunication would stop that, if any of them wanted to get married, and teach them a lesson about respect.

I know after some crimes like killing, a church has to be reconsecrated. I wonder if a simple blessing with holy water would suffice here.

В первый раз

Можно писать здесь на русском? Да!
Hello, world!

Hello world, as the programmers say! This is just a little extra for my main site, your right-wing peacenik news source. A place to jot down observations about breaking news or trivia, not enough to warrant adding a whole new page.

Patriarch Irineos of Jerusalem

First it was the Israelis, now apparently it’s the Palestinian Authority who are giving the new patriarch a hard time. Sheesh!

Fr Mychal Judge

Whatever his failings in life, he was a bona fide hero of Sept. 11, no doubt — the firemen’s priest, killed in the line of duty. It seems a legend has grown around his death: the story goes that he died on the pavement outside the World Trade Center because he removed his helmet to give last rites to two casualties, a fireman hit by someone who jumped or fell from the building. Not only does the story not make sense — why would someone trained to serve at a fire do something as stupid as take off his helmet? — but witnesses last saw Fr Judge in the lobby of one of the WTC buildings, not on the sidewalk outside.

It’s not surprising that with events as monumental in history as this, legends spring up.

I imagine if/when a movie is made about Sept. 11, the helmet-doffing prayer scene with Fr Judge will be in it. One of those myths that gets perpetuated as history, like the one about the ship’s band playing Nearer My God to Thee aboard the sinking Titanic. (Well, like the Fr Judge story, it’s half-true. The band did switch from ragtime to hymns as the ship sank, and the last song played was the Episcopalian hymn Autumn.)