Category archives: Entertainment

Hollywood and the Truth: Ships that Pass in the Night?

by Robert Morrison

June 5, 2015

I was swimming in a very grand swimming pool in 2008. It was the only 5-star hotel we’d ever been to, but it was our thirtieth wedding anniversary so we splurged a little. Actually, saving up for five years, we splurged a lot.

Suddenly, I was overcome with a strange feeling: I have been here before. Swimming alone is never a good idea. I shuddered with a powerful sensation of being haunted. We were staying at Dromoland Castle in Ireland. I’d never set foot in Ireland before that tour. “This was crazy,” I told myself as I quickly got out of the pool. I had the strongest feeling of déjà vu.

Out on deck, I chanced to see a life ring on the wall: RMS Titanic. Now, that is even weirder.

Suddenly, I got it. The makeover of this ancient castle had been done at the same time as the blockbuster Hollywood movie, Titanic (1997). And that movie was famous for computer-generated images (CGI) that faithfully reproduced the luxurious interiors of the doomed ocean liner.

So that’s why this swimming pool looked so familiar. I had seen the movie and perused dozens of coffee table books on the Titanic story. The pool was modeled on that elegant 1912 shipboard pool. Not to leave weird world too soon: Who would think it was a good idea to decorate a swimming pool to look exactly like the one where all the swimmers wound up dead?

The Titanic movie was really awful. It incorrectly depicted rich and powerful men on that doomed ship pushing aside the poor immigrant women and children to get into the lifeboats. Untrue.

The movie despicably maligned First Officer William Murdoch. Since you cannot be sued for libeling the dead, producers doubtlessly figured they could get away with sliming a good man’s reputation.

But they forgot: There are thousands of us who devour all the details of that “Night to Remember.” We would yell if Hollywood deliberately falsified history. And some of us did yell. Here’s how a truthful account has it:

Indeed, so offensive was the [movie’s] portrayal of First Officer William Murdoch to his surviving family, that the Vice President of Fox personally made the journey to Murdoch’s hometown to apologise and donate £5,000 to the William Murdoch memorial prize hosted at Murdoch’s local school.

As well as suffering from general ineptitude by dint of being English and indeed, the officer who failed to avoid the iceberg, Murdoch is also presented as a corrupt murderer and then a coward. After accepting a bribe to let a man onto one of the lifeboats he then shoots two passengers dead, before, overwhelmed with guilt and/or despair he shoots himself in the head. This is a far cry from the man who went down with the ship, his last moments spent filling the lifeboats with women, children and indeed men

Why does Hollywood feel the need to lie? They willfully falsify true history that is readily accessible to anyone with a computer.

Perhaps we should be grateful that Hollywood did not include the story of Arthur Rostron in that already-too-long big screen epic. Captain Arthur Rostron commanded the rescue vessel, SS Carpathia. This humble Cunard liner was anything but as romantic as that last voyage of hundreds of millionaires on board the White Star Line’s four-stacker Titanic.

Carpathia was a simple workhorse of a ship, quietly steaming back and forth across the Atlantic with manifests of immigrants, plain people, and cargo.

When he got a radio message that Titanic had struck an iceberg and was sinking, Captain Rostron knew what to do. He knew that the great liner was four hours away at normal cruising speed. By that time, he also knew, any survivors were likely to be dead in the bitter cold of that clear, moonless night.

So Captain Rostron ordered his ship’s stokers mustered out of their racks and put them to work shoveling as much coal as the furnaces would take. He ordered his deck crew to swing out Carpathia’s lifeboats. Stewards and nurses were ordered to make plenty of coffee and tea and to collect as many blankets as possible.

As he headed his ship at flank speed into that black night, he knew she was headed into those same treacherous waters that had claimed great Titanic’s life. Captain Rostron then went out onto the bridge wing and — freezing though it was — he prayed. Perhaps this is why Hollywood omitted Captain Rostron’s role on that fateful night.

Happily, the British people and their American cousins did not fail to honor this heroic rescuer. He was made a Knight Commander of the British Empire — Sir Arthur Rostron. He was honored by Congress. And U.S. First Lady Helen Taft began the effort for a memorial to the men of the Titanic.

Hollywood may be headed for its own iceberg. Whenever we see violence erupt on our city streets, we might look to the violence glorified in Hollywood films called “splatterfests.” These are targeted at that profitable youth demographic.

How many Hollywood movies tell the amazing story of Pregnancy Care Centers? There are more of these than of Planned Barrenhood’s (Parenthood) killing centers.

How many movies have they made about Evangelist Billy Graham? Did you see Unbroken?  How did Hollywood manage to miss a pivotal event in hero Louie Zamperini’s life — his coming to faith in Jesus Christ?

So perhaps OK that Hollywood didn’t care about the man who saved 706 souls that night in 1912. Sir Arthur has a better recognition. He modestly said his mission of mercy was “guided by a Greater hand.”

50 Shades Makes 80 Million This Weekend

by Cathy Ruse

February 17, 2015

Truly bad news for the good, the true and the beautiful: with $81 million in box office receipts, 50 Shades of Grey came in second only to The Passion of the Christ for the best February weekend opening ever.

The movie opened in 58 markets around the world, bringing in $158 million globally and setting weekend records in 11 countries including in the largely Catholic countries of Italy, Argentina, and Poland.

According to the website Box Office Mojo, the movie also set records for “Universal Pictures in the U.K.($21.1 million), France ($12 million), Russia ($10.5 million), and Brazil ($8.9 million).” It brought in $15.2 million in Germany, $$8.6 million in Australia, $8.1 million in Mexico, and $7.9 million in Spain.

Box Office Mojo reports that among all R-rated movies, 50 Shades “ranks fifth behind The Matrix Reloaded, American Sniper, The Hangover II, and The Passion of the Christ.”

Such a big opening is not surprising given that the book has sold 100 million copies worldwide. Box Office Mojo predicts it will coast easily to the $300 million mark globally, placing it within reach of the biggest R-rated movies in history; The Matrix Reloaded ($461 million), Troy ($364 million), The Hangover II ($332 million) and Ted ($331 million).

But 50 Shades is not getting sterling reviews, so it might take a huge plunge in coming weeks.

There is a raging debate on Facebook between people who are against this movie. Are the protests and boycotts a worthwhile endeavor, or are they just calling attention to the movie and even increasing ticket sales? There is certainly a risk that the latter position will prove true. But I come down on the side of the former.

The thing about pornography is that, while it is bad to consume it, the knowledge that it is bad to consume it is very good. If we were to let 50 Shades open without publicly raising our concerns, some viewers could mistakenly believe there is nothing to be concerned about. And that would make something bad even worse.

So I say, keep beating the drums! If it gets the attention of inattentive people, so be it. But as the theatre lights dim, they’ll know they’re watching something that has been called offensive and degrading. And the question before them will be: “Do you agree with the protestors?” It will be an invitation for them to say yes.

American Sniper and the Restoration of Man

by Travis Weber

February 11, 2015

Why has American Sniper struck such a chord with the American public? No doubt in part this is due to the incredible storyline and cinematography, but other factors are certainly at play in such a blockbuster hit. While critics have scrutinized various aspects of Chris Kyle’s story, something within us is still attracted to a man with integrity (that term being defined as consistency between one’s beliefs and actions). As Kyle heads off to war in Iraq, backing-up his fellow countrymen as a sniper, his simple conviction about the importance of defending good against evil—and his willingness to act on that belief—is attractive to the viewer. His skill as a sniper, and record as the all-time crack marksmen in U.S. military history, almost become secondary.

As Owen Strachan notes at the Patheos blog, this movie has “struck a chord” because:

We are in an age that does not want to believe in manhood, at least the traditional kind. Men are not supposed to be strong today. They are not supposed to lead their families. They are not supposed to take ownership of provision for their household. They are not supposed to be fearless. Modern men have had their innate manhood bred out of them.

As a result, many men today don’t want to sacrifice for others. They want to be nice, and liked by everyone, and to win the approval of their peers.”

Against this backdrop, American Sniper is a rather shocking entrée. It presents a simple man who lives by a black-and-white moral code. He is traditional. This is not existential manhood; this is non-existential manhood. Kyle does what he thinks he should do, and does not second-guess himself. He believes that he should use his God-given strength and ability to defend the weak and defeat the wicked. He believes, in fact, that there are wicked people in the world. He is not afraid to say so. He is not afraid to act on this conviction.”

Yet, “Kyle was no wilting flower. He was not a perfect man. He knew this. He was rough around the edges, he sometimes shot off his mouth, and he had a tough time with rules. In other words, he was a classically aggressive man. Our culture wants to anesthetize such men, to stick a tranquilizer in them and dose them up on medication to tame their natural aggression.”

Strachan continues, “[t]his is not what the church advocates, however. The church gives men a vocabulary for their aggression, their innate manliness. It funnels their God-given testosterone in the direction of Christlike self-sacrifice for the good of others (Eph. 5; 1 Tim. 3). It does not seek to tame men, or ask them to become half-men (or half-women). It asks them to channel all their energy and aggression and skill into the greatest cause of all: serving the kingdom of the crucified and risen Christ.”

Moreover, as men lead in this way, it is attractive to women. Strachan notes the presence of a number of young women in the movie theater, presumably excited to see this man in action.

Women are attracted to a man on this journey in which he fights courageously for Christ.

For Christ “was fearless. He was brave. We don’t know how big his shoulders were, or how handsome he was, or how fast he could run. We do know that he laughed in the face of evil, and gave no quarter to his opponents, and did not apologize for claiming that he was the way, the truth, and the life. Even as death took him down, he struck a climactic blow against the kingdom of darkness. He crushed it. He ended the reign of Satan, and began the true reign of the Son of God. Jesus was not a pacifist. He was a conqueror, and he will return to judge the quick and the dead.”

At that point, this “true man, who redeemed us, will lead us into a world where heroes do not die, but live forever with their God.”

Until that time, Chris Kyle’s conviction can help serve as a reminder of what conviction truly means.

Brittany Maynard Needs to Go to a Basketball Game

by Chris Gacek

October 29, 2014

By now we are all well aware of the story of Brittany Maynard, a young married woman who is terminally ill with a brain cancer.  She has moved to Oregon in order to legally commit suicide.  (Here is Time magazine’s favorable article about her and Oregon’s suicide enabling act.)  Mrs. Maynard plans to kill herself with medical assistance in early November.

Not so well known is the story of Lauren Hill, a college freshman at Mt. Saint Joseph University in Ohio.  Miss Hill who also has terminal brain cancer, but she has chosen a different path.  She has been practicing for months so she can play in the team’s first basketball game this season on November 2nd.

I hope Brittany Maynard has the opportunity to view the CBS news story about Lauren Hill and realize that there is a better way for her. In the past months, Brittany has been touring places she has always wanted to see like the Grand Canyon. According the People Magazine article:

Though she set Nov. 1 as a tentative date to end her life, she’s always made it clear the date is not set in stone and she will make the decision based on the progression of her disease.

I have no doubt that if Brittany Maynard wanted to see Lauren play basketball this Sunday – tickets would be made available even though the game has sold out.  I imagine Lauren would tell Brittany to grasp every moment of life and to fight for those who will come later and need encouragement in life’s most difficult times.  Seeing Lauren Hill play will, in its own way, have a grandeur of equal stature to the Grand Canyon’s.  Brittany Maynard needs to see and understand that.

United Germany’s World Cup: This is Bush 41’s Victory, Too!

by Robert Morrison

July 15, 2014

I finally found something about which I can agree with the liberal editors of Slate. They ran a story yesterday about the televised hug between Germans victorious goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer, and that nation’s diminutive Chancellor, Angela Merkel. It’s a most appealing picture to see the young giant lean over, almost fall over, in a spontaneous gesture of affection for his country’s leader.

I was happy for Germany. This is a Germany we can cheer. And it is fine to remember that without the visionary leadership of George H.W. Bush, there would not have been an Angela Merkel in this photo. She was raised in East Germany. (So, for that matter was Germany’s current president, Joachim Gauck.) Chancellor Merkel and President Gauck are but two of the tens of millions of free Germans whose unification was staunchly supported by President Bush.

I distinctly remember the Fall of the Berlin Wall in November, 1989. And I was, I will admit, plainly irked that my president put out the word: “I will not dance on the Berlin Wall.” Why not, I thought then. Isn’t this a day to celebrate the triumph of freedom over oppression?

The senior Bush was forever being lampooned on Saturday Night Live for his commitment to “prudence.” But is prudence a bad thing?

Actually, it is the best thing for a statesman. When I studied American history in the years of the early republic—1797-1801—I could not understand how the Founders whom I so admired—Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, Madison—all seem to have gone a bit crazy. Why were they clashing with one another like drivers in a Demolition Derby?

Well, the retirement of George Washington might explain it. He was the personification of prudence. And why did the United States survive the Civil War but find itself adrift before and afterward? Might it be that Presidents Buchanan and Johnson lacked that most notable quality of Abraham Lincoln: Prudence, with a capital P?

George H.W. Bush was almost alone among world leaders to want Germany reunited. West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl certainly hoped for German Reunification. His Socialist opponents certainly did not. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was hardly enthusiastic for the creation of a continental political and economic powerhouse. French President Francois Mitterrand, no doubt recalling Germany’s three invasions of his homeland in less than one hundred years, was decidedly cool to the idea of East and West Germany coming together. Lech Walesa of Poland was not beating the drums for a Germany reunited.

As for the USSR’s Mikhail Gorbachev, then riding a whirlwind in the Kremlin, he was the one who had decided not to send in the tanks. He would not order Communist border guards to shoot down spontaneous surge of East Germans toward the suddenly opened Brandenburg Gate in East Berlin. For not shooting his hostages, Gorbachev was being hailed by the Western media as a prince of peace.

If Gorbachev was really the wonderful reformer that Western journalists said he was, it was curious that all those vast crowds of West Germans did not flood through the suddenly opened Brandenburg Gate and throw themselves into his arms. There are no pictures of young West Germans hugging Mikhail Sergeivich, however, the way Manuel Neuer hugged Chancellor Merkel. A point worth noting on this festive occasion?

George H.W. Bush deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for his honorable, visionary, and yes, prudent statecraft at the time of German Reunification. He stood tall for America. This quiet and modest man said simply that America must keep her word to the German people.

For forty-five years, U.S. Presidents—Democrats and Republicans alike—has said America supports German Reunification. We would be unfaithful to our word if we did not back our steadfast NATO ally in the hour of need.

The fact that President Bush was able to skilfully chart his careful course, to support a peaceful Reunification of Germany, to bring that new and democratic Germany firmly under the NATO umbrella, and to achieve all this with the Soviets’ acquiescence (if not with their enthusiasm) is a tribute to statesmanship of the highest order. If anyone had said in 1988 that he would accomplish this all without firing a shot (or costing the U.S. taxpayers a dime) it would have been thought a delusion.

So this is President Bush’s victory, too. Now, Madam Chancellor, may I respectfully speak to you about not persecuting homeschoolers?

Vincente Del Bosque, Spain’s Greatest “Football” Coach, and Pure Love

by Chris Gacek

June 17, 2014

The quadrennial playing of the World Cup soccer (“football”) tournament began last weekend and will last several more. As the tournament approached, many, many articles, especially in European papers, have focused on this worldwide competition. The Financial Times (FT), for example, published a small section with several lengthy feature articles about the World Cup in its June 7/8 weekend edition.  The weekend FT is a wonderful amalgamation of articles on a wide variety of international topics including the arts, sports, travel, real estate, books, gardening, and hard news.

This World Cup section contained a brilliant article by Jimmy Burns on Vincente Del Bosque, perhaps the greatest soccer coach in Spain’s history. Presently Del Bosque is the coach of the Spanish national team that received a drubbing at the hands of the Netherlands last week.  That said, Spain’s only World Cup tournament victory came in 2010 under Del Bosque’s leadership. There have been many other victories and honors in his career, and Burns provides a masterful overview of the coach’s professional achievements.

That said, it was another aspect of the story and Del Bosque’s life that gave the article a transcendent quality.  At the beginning of the piece, Burns informs us that Del Bosque, 63, has three children including Alvaro, age 24, who has Down’s syndrome. It is here that Burns describes a touching dimension of Spain’s 2010 World Cup campaign:

While Del Bosque’s Spain was winning the country’s first ever world cup in 2010, Alvaro became an unofficial member of the squad. Afterwards Del Bosque wrote him a letter, now reproduced with his permission in a new Spanish biography. “It wasn’t Iniesta’s goal, or Iker Casillas kissing Sara, his journalist girlfriend while being interviewed by her on TV which moved me to tears. It was seeing you on TV, saying that you felt proud of your Dad, that you always wanted to help, that your heart was with him.”

How beautiful. The article then proceeds at length to discuss Del Bosque’s career and the current state of Spain’s 2014 World Cup efforts.

As Del Bosque and Burns take leave of each other, Burns returns to Del Bosque’s family and Alvaro:

Our meeting ends as it began, with family. Del Bosque’s daughter, Gema, 21, picks him up in the family car. “Can I give you a lift anywhere?” Del Bosque asks me. Before we say goodbye, I ask about his son Alvaro. A big smile comes over his face as he shows me a photograph of Alvaro in a suit working behind a desk. “We’ve achieved what we set out to achieve, which is to find him work.” Alvaro, he says, has come to mean more to him than anything else. “I’m not very expressive of my feelings. I am not a great one for words. I am not very lyrical. I am quite a practical person. But when I think of pure love, it is what I feel for Alvaro.”

Isn’t it fascinating that so many parents of Down’s children say similar things about the exquisite nature of these innocent souls? Del Bosque is known for being a “big-hearted” decent man: “Spain’s Man of Honor,” as the article’s title informs us. Is it unreasonable to suppose that Alvaro is responsible for many of those qualities? I don’t think so.

Review: God’s Not Dead

by Kathy Athearn

April 22, 2014

What would you do if your college philosophy professor told the class to write “God is dead” on a piece of paper, sign it, and hand it in, or else risk 30% of your grade? In the movie, “God’s Not Dead,” a freshman named Josh Wheaton is told just that. Josh looks around the room and watches everyone do just as the professor said. But as a Christian, he can’t bring himself to do it. As a result, the professor tells him that he must present his argument for why God is NOT dead to the entire class for the next several weeks. Then the class will vote on whether God is dead or alive.

Josh is now sacrificing grades in his other classes in order to devote time and energy to prove that God’s not dead. He also faces pressure from everyone —his parents, girlfriend, friends —to just let it go, and let the professor win his argument. But Josh just can’t do it. A local pastor helps him to stand up and defend the Truth, reminding him of what Jesus said in Matthew 10:32-33, “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.”

Josh does a masterful job of arguing for God’s existence, angering his professor and slowly impacting his classmates. Josh knows that his purpose in life is to glorify God in every area of life, and he’s not going to let anyone frustrate or distract him.

As we witness the erosion of religious freedom in our country (especially for orthodox Christians) and we hear about the horrific persecution and massacre of Christians in other parts of the world, it is easy to become discouraged or disheartened. But I hope you take the time to watch “God’s Not Dead.” It is a positive, hope-filled movie that will inspire you to stand up and speak the Truth in Love. As our Redeemer said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world! (John 16:33b)

Kirsten Dunst Is a Good Sociologist

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 21, 2014

I know virtually nothing about contemporary stars and starlets, other than having consistently to turn away from the images of the substantially disrobed young “entertainers” displayed on the jumbotron across from my office in advertisements for their latest performances. Pornography, by any other name, ain’t art.

But I’m aware of the actress Kirsten Dunst for two reasons: Her memorable performance as a child in 1994’s “Little Women” and the fact that “Dunst” is a fine German name, not unlike my own (she apparently has dual U.S. and German citizenship; warum nicht?).

Now, however, Ms. Dunst is much in the news for having the audacity to say what she thinks of gender roles, to wit:

I feel like the feminine has been a little undervalued … We all have to get our own jobs and make our own money, but staying at home, nurturing, being the mother, cooking – it’s a valuable thing my mum created. And sometimes, you need your knight in shining armour. I’m sorry. You need a man to be a man and a woman to be a woman. That’s why relationships work”.

Wow - how revolutionary! The idea that gender is not a social construct but actually has to do with biology, neurology, morphology, physiology, etc. is an affront to the received orthodoxy of the feminist left, many of whom have piled-on with a predictable combination of derision, illogic, non-sequitur reasoning, and obscenity.

Yet Ms. Dunst’s view corresponds with the science far more than do the opinions of her attackers. Consider the words of Oxford-trained neuroscientist Zeenat Zaidi: “Studies of perception, cognition, memory and neural functions have found apparent gender differences. These differences may be attributed to various genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors and do not reflect any overall superiority advantage to either sex”.

So, men and women are different, and being a stay-at-home mother who cares for her children is something to be honored, not scorned: For affirming these self-evident truths, Ms. Dunst is being labeled “dumb” and ‘insufferable,” among the more printable adjectives.

Whatever the merits or demerits of her various film roles, Ms. Dunst has “committed truth” in the public square, and for this deserves strong support from those who believe that a child needs a male dad and a female mom, and that the distinctions between the two are immutable and beneficial.

So, to my fellow German-American Kirsten Dunst: Herzlichen Glückwunsch, fraulein. Können Sie Ihren Stamm Anstieg (sincere good wishes, young lady; may your tribe increase)!

For more FRC resources on male-female complementarity, see “Complementarity in Marriage” and “Truth is the Greatest Weapon

The Coveted Wurlitzer Prize in Journalism

by Robert Morrison

April 4, 2014

You need to distribute your columns more broadly,” my friend Phil scolded me some months ago. “You’ll never win a Pulitzer Prize if you don’t get your stuff out there.” Phil is a columnist for our Annapolis paper and a retired international business executive. He’s like that classic E.F. Hutton commercial on TV: “When Phil talks, people listen.”

I took Phil’s criticism to heart, but added: “Phil, I will do as you say. But I’m not going to win a Pulitzer Prize. They don’t give Pulitzer Prizes to pro-lifers, or writers who defend marriage. Much less do they award Pulitzer Prizes to people who write to uphold religious freedom.”

I told Phil I was perfectly content to write five to seven columns a week, mostly on these topics. And if I offend the pink panzers of political correctness, that’s fine, too.

The reason we have a First Amendment is not so we can win Pulitzer Prizes, but so we can help to keep this Great Republic free. I remember reading Ben Franklin’s sage words to the Philadelphia lady who quizzed him. Did the Constitutional Convention give Americans a republic or a monarchy? “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it,” Dr. Franklin answered.

So, I told Phil, “I won’t even win a Wurlitzer Prize for quantity of output in journalism.” Phil got the jab. Wurlitzer is the maker of organs and the fictional Wurlitzer Prize goes to those who spend their days at the proverbial keyboard, turning out volumes of work.

I had forgotten about my imaginary Wurlitzer Prize when Phil showed up at our doorstep after 9 pm one evening several weeks later. I was hoping nothing was wrong. It was most out of character for Phil to ring our doorbell at that hour. We are believers in the Ronald Reagan rule that you know you are middle-aged when you are offered two temptations and you choose the one that will get you home by nine o’clock.

Putting on my robe, I rushed to get the door. There was Phil, holding out a cylindrical mailing tube. Puzzled, I tore it open to see what he might be offering me at that unusual hour. He had an impish grin on his face. I pulled out the rolled up document.

It was a colorful poster, a blow-up of the 1995 U.S. Postage Stamp honoring the Wurlitzer Corporation. The poster—featuring a Wurlitzer-made juke box—was inscribed: “To Bob Morrison—Deserved Wurlitzer Prize for Writing that is Music to so many Ears.” It was signed by the retired CEO of Wurlitzer Corporation.

Phil had been sending this gentleman my columns and decided to surprise me with my own coveted Wurlitzer Prize.

As you read this, you may be saying to yourself: How absurd; no one has ever heard of the Wurlitzer Prize. But everyone has heard of the Pulitzer Prize.

That may be. But since things are valued as they are rare, my comeback question is this:

How many Pulitzer Prize winners have you heard of? Dozens, right?

You are now reading a column by the world’s only Wurlitzer Prize winner.

Thanks for reading.

Wahlburgers — An Appetizing New Show about a Devoted Family

by Chris Gacek

March 17, 2014

I have been pleasantly surprised by a cable show on A&E that celebrates family and follows the activities of a large American family that runs a business. I am not talking about Duck Dynasty. Rather, it is the show that follows DD: Wahlburgers about which I write. Wahlburgers tells about the efforts of Mark, Donnie, Paul, and Alma (their mother) Wahlberg to start a restaurant franchise (Wahlburgers) that specializes in hamburgers and sandwiches. The first restaurant is located near Boston in Hingham, Mass.

Of course, Mark and Donnie Wahlberg are the actor/singer/entertainers of various art forms. Paul is the chef who produces the recipes and food. Paul also manages the restaurant(s) and lives near Boston — as does his mother. Mark lives in Los Angeles; Donnie is a New Yorker these days. All of the family members are hard-working and entrepreneurial.

It turns out that the Alma Wahlberg raised something like nine children in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Apparently, the family grew up living around or below the poverty line. That may be due to the divorce of the parents in 1982, but Alma did raise the family on a shoestring. Alma is the peacemaker and mediator who keeps the brothers working together. As one would expect from someone who raised so many children, she is practical and she knows their personalities. Her kids mind her when she tells them to get in line. Alma is definitely the Alpha Wahlberg. That said, her sons absolutely adore her and the childhood she gave them.

A&E was insightful when it placed Wahlburgers after Duck Dynasty each Wednesday evening. While the families themselves and the programs are quite different, the centrality of family lies at the core of each series. Fewer than ten Wahlburgers have been produced, so the show could go completely off the rails. I hope future episodes focus more on Alma, Paul, and the business’s development with less time on the oddball family friends. We shall see, but it is worth a look via DVR sans commercials.

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