Monday, July 28, 2014

“I read the news today, oh boy …” (Rudy Vallée’s Birthday Edition)

Today is the 113th birthday of the original teen pop idol, Rudy Vallée, who introduced the "crooner" style of singing (that is, not loud enough to hear without a microphone or megaphone) to the world, and to the recording industry. This is a scene from the 1929 film “Glorifying The American Girl” wherein he sings “I'm Just A Vagabond Lover.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere on planet Earth:

The State of California plans to have four governors in four days. Maybe it's a trial run for the prospect of splitting the state into five states, an issue on the ballot in two years. (Yeah, good luck with that one.) [AP]

Elsewhere in California is a couple who are in a no-win situation. They should just pay the City of Glendora the five hundred bucks up front and get it over with. [Newser]

Speaking of raising the dead, have you ever missed the websites of days gone by? Yes, the internet's been around just long enough for us to reminisce. Here are seven reasons that come to mind. [Gizmodo]

It seems that yet another town out West is for sale, this time in Wyoming. It has a bar, a general store, a restaurant, even a post office -- and maybe a few disadvantages. [Gilette News Record]

Finally, if yours truly were in Ohio at just the right time, he would actually stop by for this. There's no shame in being who you really are, even if it is … well, you know. [WBNS-TV]

And that's all the news that fits. As the week goes on, stay tuned, and stay in touch.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Of Aloe Plants and Pelicans

Have you heard the tale of the aloe plant,
Away in the sunny clime?
By humble growth of a hundred years
It reaches its blooming time;
And then a wondrous bud at its crown
Breaks into a thousand flowers;
This floral queen, in its blooming seen,
Is the pride of the tropical bowers,
But the plant to the flower is sacrifice,
For it blooms but once, and it dies.

Have you further heard of the aloe plant,
That grows in the sunny clime;
How every one of its thousand flowers,
As they drop in the blooming time,
Is an infant plant that fastens its roots
In the place where it falls on the ground,
And as fast as they drop from the dying stem,
Grow lively and lovely around?
By dying, it liveth a thousand-fold
In the young that spring from the death of the old.

Have you heard the tale of the pelican,
The Arabs’ Gimel el Bahr,
That lives in the African solitudes,
Where the birds that live lonely are?
Have you heard how it loves its tender young,
And cares and toils for their good,
It brings them water from mountain far,
And fishes the seas for their food.
In famine it feeds them—what love can devise!
The blood of its bosom—and, feeding them, dies.

Have you heard this tale—the best of them all—
The tale of the Holy and True,
He dies, but His life, in untold souls
Lives on in the world anew;
His seed prevails, and is filling the earth,
As the stars fill the sky above.
He taught us to yield up the love of life,
For the sake of the life of love.
His death is our life, His loss is our gain;
The joy for the tear, the peace for the pain.

(A selection from Streams in the Desert by Lettie Burd Cowman, 1870-1960)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Loose Lips in the Loggia (Vigil of Saint James the Greater Edition)

In the coming week, we commemorate the centennial of the outbreak of the First World War, referred to in its day as “The World War” or even “The Great War.” It was supposed to be "the war to end all wars," but instead it was the war that changed the world forever, and heralded the shape of the century to follow. In this excellent nineteen-minute documentary by the Catholic News Service, experts discuss the legacy of the conflict that changed faith and society in the West, including the role played by the Church.

Meanwhile, here's what's bouncing around the bandwidth of believers lately:

New Catholic offers a brilliant commentary for the video above, including an oft-overlooked legacy of the aftermath of the conflict. [Rorate Caeli]

Ben Conroy is a guest columnist on Patheos Catholic Channel, who discusses the relationship between Catholicism and those with same-sex attraction who seek a virtuous life. [The Anchoress]

For the first time in forty years, the Diocese of Rochester finally gets the remedial catechism lesson it so richly deserves, starting with the obvious. [The Deacon's Bench]

Ever meet anyone who is "spiritual but not religious"? You just want to knock some sense into their heads, or ask them what the hell that could possibly mean. Or you could share what Jon Sorensen has to tell them. [Catholic Answers]

Scientists have discovered that atheists might not exist. No, seriously, a few of them are really, uh, serious. [Science 2.0]

Finally, Sherry Antonetti wants to know “what does it mean to be a Catholic blogger?” She lives not far from yours truly. All she had to do was ask. [Chocolate For Your Brain]

Well, that's our story and we're stickin' to it. Remember to attend Holy Mass this Sunday. Until the next weekly chattel of church chat, stay tuned, and stay in touch.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: Weird Al Yankovic “Word Crimes”

Time once again for our usual midweek feature.

The latest album by “Weird Al” Yankovic is entitled “Mandatory Fun” and is the inspiration for his long-awaited mainstream acceptance, especially for his parody of Pharrell William's song “Happy” entitled “Tacky.” ABC News announced its "discovery" of the phenomenon last Monday night. And the aforementioned video includes a few mainstream comedic celebrities. Yeah, that song is okay, but the one featured here is our favorite from off that album.

Sure, all the cool kids know him now. But the REALLY cool kids were listening to him do "Another One Rides The Bus" in the late 1970s on syndicated radio's "The Doctor Demento Show." And yours truly went to his concert thirty years ago.

That puts us ahead of the curve, don't you think?

Or don't you?

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, July 21, 2014

“I read the news today, oh boy …” (Stonewall Jackson Edition)

We have often highlighted the rapier wit and commentary of Jon Stewart in this Monday morning feature. We do the same today, except for watching Megyn Kelly rip it apart, as she lays bare the truth behind the Supreme Court decision on provision for contraceptive products in Hobby Lobby's employee health benefits plan. Watch for six minutes, and all shall be revealed!

Meanwhile, elsewhere on planet Earth:

The big story? Archie Andrews was shot dead last week while saving his gay best friend who was a senator calling for gun control. Exit question? Who gets to choose between Betty and Veronica now? [International Business Times]

A seven-year-old girl may indeed be "daddy's little princess," and every once in a while, somebody's daddy takes this to heart. In this case, he'd better have an army. [The Telegraph]

MSNBC lays yet another sizable egg, complete with the usual lambasting in the twittersphere. [Twitchy]

"I used to be a big supporter of the streetcar until I started riding it every day." Well, boo hoo! [Small Dead Animals]

He only wanted ten dollars for ingredients to make potato salad, but a 31-year-old Ohio man has amassed four thousand supporters, and at least fifty grand via Kickstarter. He could've just called my Mom. [Reuters]

In an unrelated story, authorities in New Mexico captured an inmate who was trying to break out of jail by hiding in ... [AP]

Finally, on this day in 1861, at the First Battle of Manassas (that's Bull Run, for you Yankees), the unrelenting vigor with which Confederate General Thomas Jonathan Jackson held his position inspired a general nearby to rally his troops with the cry: “There is Jackson standing like a stone wall.” The rebel forces carried the day. [National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution]

And that's all the news that fits. As the week goes on, stay tuned, and stay in touch.


Friday, July 18, 2014

TGIF: JustSomeMotion “All Night”

Thank G-d it's Friday, and here it is, your moment of whimsy ...

This video was totally viral about three or four weeks ago, a time for levity in the loft of a young man identified only as “JustSomeMotion” on YouTube. His fancy footwork is set to the tune of “All Night” by an Austrian musician and DJ named Parov Stelar.

And so it goes.

(H/T to Mel Curtis.)

Labels: , ,

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Loose Lips in the Loggia (Saint Alexius Edition)

This is one of the Pope's closest collaborators. For years he worked with the Vatican's Secretariat of State. In 2006, he was named a master of pontifical ceremonies. Things changed for this Argentinian when the Pope (who is from Argentina, duh!) was elected. So now we get to follow him for just another day at the office.

Meanwhile, here's what's bouncing around the bandwidth of believers lately:

House majority leader and former Speaker Nancy “Ardent Catholic” Pelosi considers the American bishops to be really swell when they agree with her. Naturally, this isn't very often. [The Daily Caller]

In other turns of events, the administration of the precariously-postured Fisher More College may no longer be able to play the “Bishop Olson Hates The Latin Mass” card, after he attended "in choro" at a Solemn High Mass, and gave the homily. [A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics]

Meanwhile, get ready for the new generation of Cardinal, as the new Archbishop of Vienna is known to be "less dogmatic" and "theologically conservative" at the same time. Now, if we could just figure out the point of this explanation. [Reuters]

Katrina Fernandez has the perfect solution in the face of confusing statements by Pope Francis. [The Crescat]

Bill Donohue may come off on the 24/7 news channels as … well, a bit high strung, but sometimes he calms down enough to where he makes really good sense, in this issue ripped from the headlines. [Catholic League]

Well, that's our story and we're stickin' to it. Remember to attend Holy Mass this Sunday. Until the next weekly chattel of church chat, stay tuned, and stay in touch.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Misadventure of Divorce

My wife left me twenty-four years ago today, and it is hardly an endorsement of the phenomenon to submit that it was one of the best things that ever happened to me -- eventually. That being said ...

You can find any number of television dramas that paint a picture of divorce as a sort of dark-comedy type of adventure, where one approaches middle age with a reprise of adolescent discovery, only knowing now what you wish you knew then. To enter the world of the post-marital meltdown is to descend into a sort of parallel universe, one that operates in the same physical space as the world of well-tailored soccer moms and well-manicured cul-de-sacs, with the latter demographic taking no notice of the former (and to a certain extent, vice versa). One can occupy this world for the rest of one's life -- the equally-wayward friends, the late-night parties, the torrid liaisons -- or, if one is fortunate, and with adequate recourse to Divine Grace, one can eventually evolve beyond the "need" for such diversion, the illusion that there is an escape from the consequences of one's past.

On a day like this, two articles are worth mentioning. One is my own, written for this occasion just four years ago.

It was twenty years ago today, that I came home from work, and found a note in the place of my wife and son. If you want to know the extent of the damage that divorce can cause, you can read this piece ... or I can tell you what it cost me.

The other is a piece by Austin Ruse for Crisis magazine, entitled “The True Face of ‘Happy Divorce’ is Quite Ugly.” He describes a recently released movie, The Way Way Back, the story of a teenaged boy who spends the summer at a beach house with his divorced mother and a coterie of equally-dysfuntional adults of a certain age.

There’s lots of drinking and some pot smoking and silly cavorting on the beach. All the adults act like adolescents while the real adolescents are disgusted. They are disgusted not simply in the way adolescents might always be disgusted. They have a reason for their disgust, which is the way the adults are.

Liam James stars as Duncan, the boy lost in his mother's faux-fantasy, and who is taken under the wing of a water-park operator named Owen, played by Sam Rockwell with just the right amount of attitude. According to the Catholic News Service (CNS), the movie “is to be commended for portraying the friendship between Owen and Duncan as natural and innocent, a surrogate father-son bond that is mutually beneficial. It is devoid of the sordid sexual content one half-expects from Hollywood these days.” The film earned a percentile rating of 87 from Rotten Tomatoes after its premiere one year ago this month, and last fall became available on DVD and Blu-ray. All told, it should serve as an effective cautionary tale for those who would glamorize life in what was once called a "broken home."

The CNS classification is A-III (adults), and the MPAA rating is PG-13 (parents strongly cautioned -- Duh.)

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: Jenny Lewis “Just One Of The Guys”

Time once again for our usual midweek feature.

The American singer-songwriter-musician-actress Jennifer Diane “Jenny Lewis” wrote this song upon the death of her father and the breakup of her indie band, Rilo Kiley. She is joined in the video, which sort of speaks for itself, by actresses Anne Hathaway, Brie Larson, and Kristen Stewart. The album is due out on July 29.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Numbered List of Numbered Lists

People use lists to remember things. They do come in handy, don't they? So handy, that even a book can be simply an elaboration of a list, as in the Stephen R Covey classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Catholic writers are no exception, and those whose domain is the world of Catholic new media have provided their share of such lists.

And why shouldn't they? They are handy enough that they get attention. They convince you before examination, that what follows is simple enough to count on one or two hands. A reader can remember the bullet points, and refer to them in detail if need be. And so, in the last several months, I began to collect these lists. What follows is by no means exhaustive, but I thought, maybe just give the reader a safe number; say, twenty, enough to count on all fingers and toes.

And so, the following is my list of numbered "Catholics lists," in (more or less) chronological order:

01) Mary: Perpetual Virgin? 6 Biblical Arguments [Dave Armstrong, Seton Magazine, undated]

02) 5 Old Testament Models for How to Live [Stephen Beale, Catholic Exchange, 05/19/2014]

03) 7 Reasons Why Christ Died on a Wooden Cross (from Saint Thomas Aquinas) [Dr Taylor Marshall, Taylor Marshall, 03/27/2013]

04) 100 Simple Ways To Improve Your Life [Sarah/Marcel, Mary's Aggies, 05/29/2014]

05) 24 Words That Have A Totally Different Meaning When You’re Catholic [Javier Moreno, BuzzFeed, 06/04/2014]

06) 5 Quotes on Pentecost from Pope St John Paul II [Tom Perna, Tom Perna™, 06/08/2014]

07) 7 Saints for Pentecost [Stephen Beale, Catholic Exchange, 06/06/2014]

08) Ten Ways to Open Up to the Holy Spirit [Fr Ed Broom OMV, Catholic Exchange, 06/10/2014]

09) 10 Ways to Give the Internet a Soul [Danielle Bean, Momnipotent, 06/10/2014]

10) Pope Francis Announces He May Renounce the Papacy One Day: 6 Things to Know and Share [Jimmy Akin, National Catholic Register, 06/13/2014]

11) Seven Proofs for the Natural Immortality of the Human Soul [Tim Staples, Strange Notions, undated]

12) 20 Fun Facts about Papal Elections in Church History [Dr Taylor Marshall, Taylor Marshall, 03/12/2013]

13) Seven Disciplines of Evangelization [Msgr Charles Pope, Archdiocese of Washington, 06/19/2014]

14) Ten Ways to Fall in Love with the Eucharist [Fr Ed Broom OMV, Catholic Exchange, 06/24/2014]

15) Six Practical Ideas for Integrating our Catholic Faith with Work [Randy Hain, The Integrated Catholic Life, 06/26/2014]

16) Five Facts of Faith from the Life of St Peter – A Homily for the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul [Msgr Charles Pope, Archdiocese of Washington, 06/28/2014]

17) New Videos: The 12 Mysteries of the Mass (according to Thomas Aquinas) [Dr Taylor Marshall, Taylor Marshall, 07/01/2014]

18) 50 Things You'll (probably) Never Hear Catholics Say [Katie O'Donnell, FOCUS, 06/18/2014]

19) Loving The Unlovable [Nicole DeMille, Invisible Woman, 07/02/2014]

20) Please Don’t Say These Six Things at My Funeral [Chad Bird, Flying Scroll, 07/11/2014]

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm hard at work on my own list: “Seven Ways to Give Your Spiritual Life a Good Swift Kick in the …”

You get the idea.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, July 14, 2014

“I read the news today, oh boy …” (Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Edition)

We begin this week's Monday morning feature with what is ostensibly serious news, if it didn't involved House minority leader and former Speaker Nancy “We Have To Pass The Bill To Find Out What’s In It” Pelosi. She makes a number of blatant factual errors, which are called out by that goddess of the 24-hour news cycle, Megyn Kelly of the Fox News Channel, and from which she (Pelosi) has already backed away, by digging an even deeper hole trying to get out of it, than the one she dug trying to get in.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on planet Earth:

There's a growing trend of commentators for professional sporting events doing candids of people in the crowd and making remarks about them. Usually it's a very attractive wife of a player, but I guess these guys had a little too much time on their hands. [NESN]

Speaking of being on the job, how's that proposal for a four-day work week coming along? Anybody??? [CBS News]

Either it was a clerical error, or the Selective Service System had a demand for zombies in the draft pool. Of course, if these guys had served already ... [Fox News]

Someone once said that "the old days ain't what they used to be." And so we return to those thrilling days of yesteryear, whatever year (or decade) that was for you. [FiveThirtyEight]

If you live in Sacramento, be careful watering the lawn with neighbors around. Wait for the middle of the night, unless they're out doing it. [KOVR-TV]

Finally (and perhaps on a more serious note), this week's segment was almost called the "Bastille Day Edition." There's a reason why it was not. [Laudem Gloriae]

And that's all the news that fits. As the week goes on, stay tuned, and stay in touch.