Friday, August 31, 2007

My Tucker Carlson Moment

Hit on this guy in the men's room and he'll smash your head against the stall. To quote Allahpundit of Hot Air: "It’s always the quiet ones with the bowties."

Be advised, this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy contains mature content, but you'll hear about it on all the news channels anyway. I'm off to Johnstown in a few hours. Hopefully I won't run into this on the road. Till the Blue(s) Wagon gets back, stay tuned, and stay in touch.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

This Just In: Best News All Day!

(CBS/AP) Taliban militants have set free the last group of South Koreans abducted by the extremist organization in central Afghanistan, witnesses said... The two women and one man were covered in dust as they walked out of the desert, accompanied by three armed men, and were turned over to waiting officials of the International Committee of the Red Cross... Their freedom ended a six-week drama that began when a 23-member group of Christian church volunteers was abducted on a busy road in the central Ghazni province on July 19. Two captives were executed by the kidnappers... The last seven captives were released Thursday in two separate groups. Two men and two women were handed over to the officials of the International Committee of the Red Cross on a road in Janda area in central Afghanistan earlier in the day... (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Summer of Love: The Moody Blues

This installment of our series is devoted to an English band of which, upon introduction, it could be safely asked, which one? To speak of The Moody Blues is to speak of two almost completely different bands, with a partially identical lineup, and little more in common.



The so-called "British invasion" of the early 60s was inspired by American blues and rhythm & blues artists. Upstream from the Beatles hometown of Liverpool was the city of Birmingham, where a working-class variant of the genre known as "the Brom beat" ("Brom" being an abbreviation of the city's name) was building up steam. One of its proponents was a quintet fronted by singer-guitarist Danny Laine, named for their anticipated sponsor, the M&B Brewery, and a subtle reference to Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo." The first clip is their biggest early hit song "Go Now," from 1964, and is typical of their repertoire. Among those appearing with Laine are singer Ray Thomas, keyboardist Mike Pinder, and drummer Graeme Edge. They were the ones remaining when Laine left for a solo career, and the band began its transformation.

After Laine and Clint Warwick left in 1966, the others invited a former bandmate of Graeme's, bassist John Lodge. They also acquired a young guitarist/lead singer from a pool of applicants named Justin Hayward. Deciding that their earlier combination of American blues and skiffle-influenced novelty songs was getting lost in the crowd, they developed a more nuanced sound of their very own. The album that first defined this style was the 1967 Days of Future Passed. Recorded with the London Festival Orchestra, which played instrumental interludes between original numbers, it would probably rival The Beatles' Sgt Pepper as the first "concept album." The reflective theme of eventide "Nights in White Satin" set the tone of the latter-day Moodies.



The rest, as they say, is history. While typical of the cerebral lyrical quality that was popular during the drug-induced and otherwise rebellious late 1960s, The Moodies' music had a depth of intellect and coherence, of light and shade, that was virtually unmatched in rock music at the time.

Edge, Hayward, and Lodge continue to perform as the centerpiece of the band today. Danny Laine was best known for his tenure with Paul McCartney and Wings. He has continued his solo career.

In the end, if the Moodies have proven anything, it's that video didn't kill the radio star...

My Cousin Frankie

A story of a hero in a recent issue of Newsday: "It was the summer of 1965. The ferry was making its run from the dock in Patchogue across the bay to Davis Park. Kids were splashing around at Corey Beach, the Sandspit and Canaan Lake. And Billy Joe Royal was singing 'Down in the Boondocks.' Patchogue High School graduates were out and about, enjoying the sun, the waves and the sounds of the Beach Boys, the Beatles and the Four Seasons... Frank Clark Fisher was one of those kids from Patchogue High School... We come from a long line of soldiers, Marines and sailors in our family, and Frankie was about to join the ranks..."

(h/t to Allahpundit of HotAir)
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Friday, August 24, 2007



Here's my question: Why should Americans have to find their country on a world map if they're already here?
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Varia

• Welcome to readers from "Soo City." That's Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario (or Michigan, eh?), who found this weblog from reading an editorial written by my pal Pete Vere. We go back over a decade, to the days of the CINGREG and FIAT-KNIGHT e-mail lists, where we were comrades-in-arms. The last time we spoke on the phone, we reminisced about the people we both knew. I can still remember all of us gathering at an Irish pub to argue politics and theology. Now that's my idea of a night out with the boys!

• Next weekend Sal and I will be in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, for the Johnstown FolkFest. I'm particularly looking forward to seeing Dwayne Dopsie, son of the late great "King of Zydeco" Rockin' Dopsie, and the Zydeco Hellraisers. I'm also hoping to catch Scott Miller and the Commonwealth, one of my favorites of late. Now, Johnstown has become a sort of annual pilgrimage of mine since 1989. Some years I haven't gone, but most years I have. I can't quite explain it, but something about the place makes it seem like a second home to me. Maybe it's only coincidence that my mother's mother's family (Evans) settled north of the city, in the town of Ebensburg, before moving on to Ohio. Then again, maybe not.

• Concerning the recent papal decree Summorum Pontificum, which allows greater use of the classical Roman Rite (the "Trid Mass" or "Old Latin Mass"), a number of American bishops have come out with their own statements. While some are encouraging, most can't resist the urge to put their own "spin" on it. The latest comes from Bishop Joseph V Adamec of Altoona-Johnstown. If the text that has been circulating is correct (and they did a great job burying it on the diocesan website), the good Bishop would appear to have simply made up Latin words that are not in the original text. (You know, if more people actually read the decree itself, I imagine these guys would keep their vivid imaginations in check. Then again...)

• I want a new guitar. I have a Fernandes Nomad, which is a travel-size electric model with a built-in amplifier (like the one in the picture). I want the Nomad Deluxe (the black one), which has several dozen sound pre-sets and a rhythm machine. Maybe Saint Nicholas -- you heathens call him Santa Claus -- will realize I've been a really good boy this year and bring me one.

• Today is a big day in Rome. Or at least it always has been. Sort of like "Night of the Living Dead" in the daytime. (Coincidentally, I had a dream a couple nights ago where I was attacked by a group of zombies. Naturally, I emerged victorious.) Father Zuhlsdorf explains.

• Please remember my Dad in your prayers today. He is having surgery to alleviate a recurring condition. He'll be 82 in September, and he's still holding up.

And so it goes...
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Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Ends Justify the Memes

Until today, I had only been memed once in just over five years, by Julie D of Happy Catholic. As I recall, I was in such a state of shock that anyone would remember little old me, that I didn't do anything about it.

But oh, no, not this time.

I've been memed by Patrick Archibold, the mad genius behind Creative Minority Report, who was in turn memed by Karen Hall of Some Have Hats. Here's the lowdown:

"The rules are simple... Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog."

Fine. Whatever. Here goes:

Fact 1: I am left-handed.

Habit 1: I smudge the page when I write left-handed. Thanks to this keyboard, you really can't tell.

Fact 2: I didn't get my first credit card until I was 29.

Habit 2: My credit card balances go from near the max to near zero, rarely staying in the middle.

Fact 3: I began keeping a running ledger of the contents of my money jar, from when I was nine years old, until after I graduated from college.

Habit 3: As an adult, it's all I can do to balance a checkbook.

Fact 4: My bookshelves are organized by subject matter, and from there, on each shelf according to size.

Habit 4: It's been two years in the new place and I still haven't shelved all the books yet.

Fact 5: From September 2001 to September 2003, my weight went down from 220 to 185 pounds.

Habit 5: For reasons unknown, I gained it all back three years later. (This isn't over...)

Fact 6: I am in love with my car, a 2005 Scion XB, fully loaded.

Habit 6: My car has an immaculate interior most of the time, now that I have "Sal" to nag me about it. What a gal!

Fact 7: Each time I go back to Ohio, I do less overpacking.

Habit 7: Each time I go back to Ohio, I manage to forget at least one important item.

Fact 8: When I travel by air, I always carry my luggage on the plane, just one regulation-size suitcase and my portable guitar.

Habit 8: When I travel by air, I always pray the Rosary when the plane is taking off. You never know...

And with that, now comes the list of poor suckers whom I would challenge to do the same. They are Mary Alexander (no relation), Darwin, Mrs Darwin, M Z Forrest, Father Martin Fox, Rich Leonardi, Der Tommissar, and Pete Vere.
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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Critical Mass: Thomas Wolfe and Panaceas Revisited

Last month, I made the case that "the more strident advocates of a complete return to the pre-conciliar form of the Roman Rite, have made the official reform (the so-called 'Novus Ordo') into the whipping boy for all manner of devious shenanigans in the last forty years. The reality is that most of it would have happened anyway." I even offered proof.

Still, my colleague and long-time correspondent Jeff Culbreath wrote: "I see your point, and perhaps you're right. But the Novus Ordo is still an appropriate whipping boy. If not the cause, then it is the consummation of all the mischief you described." This would make it the effect, not the cause, therefore NOT "an appropriate whipping boy." John L asked: "What I would really like to know is what were the deficiencies in culture, selection of seminarians, theologians, and bishops, and spiritual formation, that led to this widespread acceptance?" Those "deficiencies" were in the seminaries and theology departments for much of the 20th century, years before anyone so much as imagined the Words of Consecration being translated into the vernacular. Entire books have been written on the subject.

Why is this important now? Because those on both sides of the issue of the traditional form of the Roman liturgy, who either dreaded or looked forward to "turning back the clock" are in for a big, fat surprise: you can't go home again.

In a recent column of The National Catholic Reporter, John Allen wrote: "One outstanding question being raised by some bishops and canon lawyers is whether rulings over the years that apply to post-Vatican II liturgies should apply to the '62 Missal as well. The pope's motu proprio says the '62 Missal was never abrogated, but it doesn't spell out the status of subsequent disciplinary law. For example, can a vigil Mass be celebrated according to the '62 Missal on Saturday evening? Can communion be administered under both species? (In the old rite, only the consecrated Host is distributed, and only on the tongue.) Can altar girls as well as boys serve Mass?"

It may appear that the Missale Romanum of 1962 is frozen in time for now. Such is not the case with the world around it. In a recent column in The Wanderer, Father John Zuhlsdorf raised issues which have been the subject of dinner conversations in rectories for some months now: "The Motu Proprio pertains to a certain set of liturgical books, none of which defined what they didn’t define. For another example, the Holy See now says that conferences of bishops can allow Holy Communion to be distributed in the hand. Most conferences have permitted this and described how it is to be done. Once the permission was given, people have the right to receive Communion in the hand, no matter how inappropriate most of the readers (and the writer) of this column think it is. Nevertheless, the older liturgical books did not describe how Communion was to be received. The law in force today applies to all Masses, not just the Novus Ordo. It would be wrong to deny someone Communion in the hand at a celebration of the older form of Mass on the grounds that it wasn’t done that way in 1962. That’s how it is done now, for good or (more likely) for ill. Naturally, the communicants themselves ought to be sensitive to this as well. We can hope that the rest of the congregation will set such a good example...." (08/17/2007)

Father Z doesn't stop there: "[A]n authentic interpretation of canon 230 § 3 that females can substitute for officially installed acolytes [would mean that], according to law, altar girls would be permitted to serve 'Tridentine' Masses. Clearly, a parish priest who would impose that on people would be either cracked or malicious. But the law would be on that side." (08/17/2007)

Fortunately, I can already tell you how this is going to play out, after speaking with an eminent canonist on the condition of his/her anonymity. The older liturgical usage will not override subsequent universal law, but will have to be applied in light of it. The result will, for the most part, preserve the tradition, but it will not exist in a vacuum. It never has.

Somewhere in Ohio, a new pastor has been approached by his parishioners to offer the Roman liturgy in the classical form. Meanwhile, he is reorganizing the altar servers so that boys and girls will no longer be working together.

John L asked the right question. A set of books is not the culprit; the culture is.

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[NOTE: I prefer not to quote so heavily from a print source such as that of the good Father, but there is no accessible online link of which I am aware. If one is brought to my attention, I am more than happy to make the proper adjustments.]
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Summer of Love: Buffalo Springfield

When guitarist/singer/songwriter Stephen Stills auditioned for a part in the TV series The Monkees in 1966, it may have been one of those unique moments in rock history when a major artist attempted to "sell out" before he would "tune in, turn on, and drop out." But establishing the folk-rock band Buffalo Springfield might have been one way to redeem his place in that history. He was joined by Richie Furay, who later played with some guys from The Byrds (see The Byrds' "Summer of Love" installment), as well as a Canadian guitarist/singer/songwriter with big-@$$ sideburns named Neil Young.

Wikipedia gives the low-down on how the band got together. This is really a hoot:

"Roughly a week later, discouraged at having been unable to locate Stills and ready to depart for San Francisco, [Neil Young and bassist Chris Palmer] were stuck in traffic on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles when Stills and Furay recognized Young’s 1953 Pontiac hearse, which just happened to be sitting in the opposite lane. After an illegal u-turn by Furay, some shouting, hand-waving, and much excitement, the four men realized that they were united in their determination to put together a band."

The excitement only lasted just over two years, and the band only cut three albums, not counting a re-issue of the first (with conversion from mono to stereo, and inclusion of the song featured below). Young would eventually follow Stills in joining former Byrd guitarist David Crosby and former Hollies guitarist Graham Nash, changing them from Crosby Stills & Nash, to, uh, Crosby Stills Nash & Young. Go figure.

I never saw Buffalo Springfield on TV as a kid, but obviously someone did, or we wouldn't have this clip. I could have used one of them playing the same tune on The Smothers Brothers Show, but it was retarded.

Anyway, this was my favorite song of theirs.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Turn and face the strain...

This year has witnessed significant changes in the Catholic blogosphere. Earlier, Dom Bettinelli had taken Bettnet in a less news-oriented, more introspective direction, after joining the Archdiocese of Boston as a full time employee. More recently, Amy Welborn has done the same, shutting down Open Book, and inaugurating the more reflective Charlotte was Both.

Last and not least, author Stephen Hand has shut down Traditional Catholic Reflections and Reports after nearly eight years online. Stephen was a true original, transforming himself over time from an avowed radical traditionalist in defiance of Rome, to a "papal traditionalist" Catholic firmly integrated with Rome. His social and political commentary defied the usual left/right paradigm. Six years ago, he graciously published my first online-only piece, "By the Waters of Babylon," an eyewitness account of 9/11 in Washington. His departure from the Web has been contemplated for some time, and now the deed is done, as has been done with his accompanying TCR Musings blog.

People have wondered who would replace some of the above. There are those of us have come to appreciate the level of dedication involved in maintaining a continuous online presence. Anyone can get the attention of the crowd; few can keep it. Stephen did kept it as few others have. Yet they say that when God closes a door, he opens a window.

"Just gonna have to be a different man."
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Friday, August 17, 2007



Junk mail never stops. Even when you leave town for a week. Something to keep in mind for this Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy. Music and video by Billy Reid.
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Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Other Day The Music Died



Elvis Presley died thirty years ago today, of a heart attack brought on by years of heavy drug use. He was 42 years old.

In the summer of 1977, I was an intern at the public television station in Huntington, West Virginia. The only available short term housing was in the dorms of Marshall University, where the station was located. So as a kid who commuted all five years at the University of Cincinnati, I still managed to experience "real" college life -- sort of. Fortunately, more often than not, I didn't have roommates.

But I made some great friends while I was there, some of them musicians. Among them was a bluegrass and country artist named "Smiley" Joe Baisden. A native a place in West Virginia called "Ranger Ridge," he was once a backup musician for Mel Tillis, and in 1975 nearly had a hit with a tune that some other recording artist got first, or so I was told. When I knew Joe, he was a student at MU, and we spent evenings and weekends playing for ourselves or for parties off campus. The day that Elvis died, we were on his front porch doing a medley of Elvis tunes, and other rockabilly favorites.

I miss Smiley Joe to this day. In an era when so-called "country artists" have never spent a moment behind the plow, he was no imitation, but the genuine article, a genuine human being, a gentleman. The closest I ever got to Elvis.

Roman Miscellany has a few Catholic Elvis moments. One of them is right here.



It would appear that "Elvis" is a legitimate baptismal name: "There really was a Celtic saint called St Elvis, who was a bishop of the Irish See of Munster and may even have baptised St David, Patron of Wales..."

[UPDATE: Gary North has offered his thoughts on Elvis as an entrepreneurial phenomenon, both five years ago, as well as today.]
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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Assumptions

A child's dreams are real;
a child believes what is said
and believes it to be literally true;
woe to those who abuse the trust of a child...


At this date, I'm on the road home. I've spent the last week in Ohio. And while I've been following the news online and keeping up on my email, this weblog has been left more or less alone. Today, the Roman Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption, when the Mother of God was assumed (that is, taken up under the power of another) body and soul into heaven. The Eastern Churches have traditionally eschewed defining Our Lady's fate with the same precision, and refer to this as her "Dormition," or Falling Asleep.

Mary, my mother, remained childlike
throughout her life;
she believed the message of the angel...


But amidst the visits with family and friends, I've been dealing with some assumptions of my own.

Rosselot Farm, Brown County Ohio, Summer 1973
Rosselot Farm, Brown County Ohio, Summer 1973. Author, without Black Hat, at top row center. (From a family collection edited by Michael DeJonckheere)

Had I gone back four weeks earlier, I would have been able to attend the wedding of a cousin, who decided to have a "barn party," which is as good a way as any to accommodate everyone. There were over two hundred people there. I have nearly four dozen cousins on my mother's side, and many of us are still in contact. As long as someone is getting married or buried, we'll get to see one another. In our society, as many as three generations can manage to get together once or twice a year, like at Thanksgiving or Christmas. When the children are coming of age, it's often all one can do for two generations to pull it off, even on Christmas. At some point, a couple has to choose between one family or another. When a couple is divorced, the children have to make that choice.

But what would you have done to her
if I had left her among you?
You would have made her
into an idol, a goddess;
you would have fought to own her
to give your party
power over your brothers and sisters;
you would have used her words,
or her silences,
to prove your own point of view;
and you would have forgotten me...


Last Monday night, my two sisters and I joined our brother at his family's place for a barbecue. Even thought they're all there in Cincinnati, they hadn't been together since Christmas. Most of us have growing or grown children, and one sister is now a grandmother. I had to wonder how it was possible to be so far apart, what makes those drawn by blood eventually drift away. I never thought it would happen on my mother's side, of all places. But out of a family of eleven children, growing up on a farm in Ohio, the odds were that two or three would go their own way. Most didn't take up farming like their Dad, and three left the area entirely. Closer to home, three of us stayed in or around Cincinnati, but one of us left. Naturally, it's a long story. Isn't it always?

And so I cut short her pondering
and brought her into the place
where every question is answered...
A mother must allow her children
to become separate from her
and to make their own decisions...


But before I left, I called up my cousin Michael. I hadn't seen him in over thirty years. He was kind enough to give me a disk containing over five hundred photographs from the Rosselot (pronounced ROSS-uh-low) family collection, some dating back to the end of the 19th century. While I was there, we went through them, and reminisced about the time of innocence in our lives, those who moved on, and those who went before us. There were many images that I had seen over the years, some of which would be a good story in and of themselves. The oldest photo is one of Philomena Huber Evans, our great-grandmother, shown at left with her husband Anthony Evans. Her original White sewing machine now sits in the guest room of Pat's house.

She lives for ever
in my company in heaven.


For most cultures, and for most of history, family lineage was everything, as was one's place in the family. (In the Philippines, the siblings each have their own title; "Cuyo" for the oldest brother, "Diko" for the second brother, "Ate" for the oldest sister, "Dete" for the second sister, and so on.) The Jewish people at the time of Christ were no exception:

While [Jesus] was still speaking to the crowds,
his mother and his brothers appeared outside,
wishing to speak with him.
Someone told him,
"Your mother and your brothers
are standing outside,
asking to speak with you."
But he said in reply to the one who told him,
"Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?"
And stretching out his hand
toward his disciples, he said,
"Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father
is my brother, and sister, and mother."
(Matthew 12: 46-50)

We would endeavor to find our true family, and our true home, in Heaven. As to the one on Earth, there's plenty of time for that. Right now, I hear the highway callin'...

(excerpts from a poem by Richard Hobbs, †1993)
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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Summer of Love: The Doors

It has been suggested that Jim Morrison was Kurt Cobain before Kurt Cobain. Presuming this to be high praise, Morrison was probably the earliest-known quintessential tortured poet of the Rock Era. But when we saw him on The Ed Sullivan Show at our house in 1968, the Folks just couldn't get over the hair or the screaming.

And let's not forget them tight leather britches.

The name was inspired by Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception. Huxley was in turn inspired by a line from William Blake: "If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear to man as it is: infinite." Singer-songwriter Morrison and bassist-keyboardist Ray Manzarek met while studying film at UCLA in 1965. They were eventually joined by drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger.

Manzarek was an innovator in that, rather than play bass guitar live, he would play the newly-invented Fender Rhodes bass keyboard with his left hand, and some other keyboard set with his right. Morrison was an innovator, not only for the hidden meanings in his lyrics, but for his very bad and sometimes lewd behavior, including on stage. One thing led to another, and Morrison eventually moved to Paris with his girlfriend. He was found dead in the bathtub in 1971, supposedly of a heart attack, even though no autopsy was ever performed. He was 27 years old.

Interest in the music and the legacy of The Doors remains to this day. Manzarek and Krieger still perform together, as the centerpiece of a reunion band (of sorts) known as "Riders on the Storm."

Friday, August 10, 2007

T-ShirtHumor.com

It seems everybody else is getting in on the Harry Potter thing. You know I haven't seen the movies yet? Anyway, here's my contribution...
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Saint Lawrence

I got into Cincinnati yesterday evening around 7:30. The trip took nine and a half hours, which isn't bad. Especially when you consider the two monsoons that came and went by suddenly while driving through the flatlands out of Columbus.

If it happened in the last 24 hours, it'll have to go without comment; I've got some catching up to do.

HOWEVER, there is the annual obligation to a favorite saint...

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"With the robe of joyfulness, alleluya,
Our Lord hath this day clothed His soldier, Laurence.
May Thy faithful's joyous assemblage clap their hands
More cheerfully than they have heretofore."


(from the Mass of Saint Laurence, Old Sarum Rite Missal, 1998, Saint Hilarion Press)

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Lawrence. He was archdeacon of the church of Rome in the third century. When the Emperor Valerian had Pope Sixtus II and six other deacons executed in 258 AD, Lawrence was left in charge.

Now, back then, for a deacon to be left in charge, this actually meant something, inasmuch as deacons were charged with the temporal goods and charitable works of the local church. On August 6, Lawrence met with Sixtus in the latter's prison cell. The boss laid out the plan; no, we're not leaving forever, you're joining us in four days.

Lawrence saw this as a good time to come up with a plan of his own.

Lawrence distributed the funds of the local church among the crippled, blind, sick, and indigent of the city. When arrested by the Emperor, Lawrence was commanded to produce the goods. Lawrence produced what he called the "true treasure of the Church" -- you guessed it; the crippled, blind, sick, and indigent of the city.

The emperor was not amused.

Legend has it that Lawrence was martyred by being roasted on a gridiron. It is also said that, at one point, Lawrence told them when he was done on one side, and could be turned over. Modern scholars have suggested that the determination of this method of torture is probably a misreading of the original accounts.

Anything to take the fun outa this, huh, guys?

And so, Lawrence is pictured holding a book of records, a money purse, and/or a gridiron. His image is generally found on one of the "deacon's doors" with the iconostasis of any Eastern church.

Lawrence is also the patron saint of cooks. Not to mention librarians, libraries, lumbago, paupers, poor people, restauranteurs, Rome, schoolchildren, seminarians, Sri Lanka, stained glass workers, students, tanners, vine growers, vineyard owners, wine makers (whew!), and... me!

That's because I was named for my uncle Lawrence Rosselot (pronounced "ROSS-uh-low," from the province of Alsace in France, so the "T" at the end is silent), my mom's brother who died before I was born. It was either a farming accident or complications of influenza; to this day I get two versions of the story.

Finally, on the eve of his feast, one may look up into the night sky (at least in the northern hemisphere) and witness the "burning tears of Saint Lawrence." This is the meteor shower that follows the pasage of the Swift-Tuttle Comet, and precedes the one near The Perseides.

Sure, you missed the one last night. But you've got the next week to see some action. Especially if you go to a place out in the country where there are no city lights to be found.

But all the stars will be there.
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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Summer of Love: The Association



By the late '60s, The Association was one of my favorite bands. (Yeah, the guys who did "Along Comes Mary.") At the time, I wasn't entirely enchanted with the direction that rock was headed -- to this day, I don't understand the fuss over Jimi Hendrix -- but I appreciated good vocal work and tight harmonies. These guys came out of California, and were naturally influenced by The Beach Boys, as well as the "folk-rock" phenomenon. I also found their lyrics very poetic, a step above the "I-love-you-oooh-let's-go-steady" variety that ruled until the latter part of that decade.

An example is in the clip above, which I first saw on the CBS show "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" in 1967.

In the songs I've been singing, quite often a phrase
Comes close to the feeling of you
But I never suspected that one of those days
The wish of a song would come true...


I remember reading an interview of theirs once. It seemed they were going out of their way to eschew a clean-cut matching-blazer-and-tie image, with all this talk about peace and love and f*** the Establishment and f*** this and f*** that and whatever. Tryin' pretty desperate to look hip, from what I could tell. Otherwise I don't know who they were trying to impress. The interview didn't impress me. But their music still did.

They didn't last much into the seventies, though. There were personnel changes by then, and bassist Brian Cole was found dead of a heroin overdose in 1972. But some surviving members -- including Brian Cole's son, keyboardist/vocalist Jordan Cole -- continue to do reunion tours today. Among the early members with the reconfigured band is Larry Ramos, formerly of The New Christy Minstrels in the early 60s. He replaced Jules Alexander (no relation) in '66, then stayed when Jules came back in '69.

And for those who are as yet unconvinced of the influence of Catholicism on Western civilization, the following appears below. Enjoy.




(Excerpt from lyrics of "Everything That Touches You," written by group member Terry Kirkman.)
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Monday, August 06, 2007

My Amy Welborn Moment



Last week, mwbh commented on the flurry of chat room nonsense that ensued when the author of the weblog Open Book and reluctant "queen of Catholic blogdom," Amy Welborn -- hey, that's what some book called her, so don't come cryin' to me! -- decided to take a vacation with her family, without giving her legion of devoted fans sufficient warning. In our last episode, Mark Shea was actually getting e-mails from people wanting to know where Amy was. Oh, yeah, like he and Amy and Gerald and Jimmy have this private penthouse in Manhattan where they smoke cigars (the guys, anyway) and drink cordials and conspire over the eventual iron-fisted rule of their corner of cyberspace. Geeeezzz...

Now, in case anyone thinks I'm picking on Amy, you can relax, because you would be wrong. I leave that job to the experts at The New Oxford Review. It's the rest of you I'm worried about.

Meanwhile, over the weekend, the plot thickened:

"This blog is a departure from what I’ve done before. It is not going to be a newshound, updated many-time daily place. I’ve done that, and I really enjoy it, but I’ve reached a point at which I must pull back and direct all that energy someplace else - my attempts at fiction-writing to be exact. Radical surgery was necessary."

Not to mention a need for the Catholic blogosphere to evolve.

There was a subplot to all this, of course. Father Martin Fox, an Ohio priest and author of Bonfire of the Vanities, was lamenting, if somewhat lightheartedly, the slow response to his site of late. Part of that is because of the summer, but BOTV is not a site to be overlooked. A number of priests have their own blogs, many devoted to publishing their Sunday homilies (in case you fell asleep listening to it, or were out playing golf) and offering spiritual reflection. Father Fox takes it one step farther, as regular visitors find out just what a guy in his position does the other six days of the week. No one can accuse this guy of not working for a living, or of not having been around the block a few times. Before entering the seminary, Fox was a lobbyist here in Washington. The sum total of experience also gives him some hard-hitting insights into politics and world events.

Okay, back to our heroine. She starts out by saying, "I really don’t want to make a big deal of this, but..." It's not a big deal for you, hon, just for the people who can count their daily blogroll on one hand. There are hundreds, thousands of them out there, who can't get past the short list mentioned in every article in Our Sunday Visitor and Ligourian and Saint Anthony Messenger, on the exciting new world of "Catholic blogging." Yeah, it's exciting alright. Like that line out of Casablanca: "Round up the usual suspects." Now the combox crowd has to find someone else to put on a pedestal. See what you've done???

Seriously, people, it's time to raise your horizons, just a notch.

The most popular list devoted to "Saint Blog's Parish" is the Catholic Blog Directory, listing over a thousand blogs, which probably isn't all of them in the English-speaking world. They're in alphabetical order, with a separate listing for (who else?) clerics and religious. Sometimes I just like to pick one at random during the lunch break. You never know...



There are those authors who use their blogs to pile on the news links for all things Catholic, all the time. Among them are those who do it well. Patrick Archibold gets a Thrown-In-The-Air-In-Jubilation Black Hat this summer, for revving up the Creative Minority Report. It is described as "an outlet for sometimes ill considered but occasionally pithy commentary by my cohorts and me. We intend to comment on Church related issues as it relates to its transformation, now begun, into a lean and mean evangelization machine. Also within our purview will be politics, current events, and hopefully some occasional humor as well." Those cohorts include Matthew Archibold -- I'm guessing they're related somehow -- and some guy named "D-Mac," probably the comic-relief guy. After all, no group blog is complete without one. Each day a two-column summary tops the page, with linked stories underneath. Simple yet elegant, very user-friendly, with good, solid, and occasionally tongue-in-cheek-irreverent writing, CMR represents the cutting edge of the Catholic news blog. Not to be outdone, Pat also authors Summorum Pontificum, dedicated specifically to the implementation of the papal motu proprio decree of the same name. (We've talked about that, remember?)

And so, at the end of the day (which it is around here, as luck would have it), this week's Tip of the Black Hat is in order to our beloved Amy, who has let us into her world, and into what's on her mind, for the last six years. The prospect of writing fiction is an exciting one, worth checking the shelves periodically at a Catholic bookstore near you. There is no question that her good work will continue, if only in a different way. The question remains, however, as to what the thousands of Amy-watchers are going to do now.

Probably take a vacation.

Confessions of a Renaissance Man

I spent an extended lunch today at the Art Institute with my academic advisor. As we looked over my audit, we both realized that it was past the halfway point. The midpoint review would be coming not a moment too soon, and final portfolio would not be far behind. I still expect to graduate after the spring of 2009.

Sometime before the end of this summer, basically before the end of September, I need to review my tutorial for both javascript and cascading style sheets, and make minor corrections on some websites (which will appear at the "Portfolio" link on the right sidebar of this weblog). I also need to look at some previous animation projects I did in Flash, to make sure they're up to snuff. One reason I've been taking the summers off (otherwise I'd be graduating a year sooner), is to do the things that are put aside while I'm in school. It's amazing what one class of two three-hour sessions per week, and a minimum of six to eight hours of homework per week, can do to a man's schedule. And while I have no regrets about my course of study, it is clear that I underestimated the long-term effects of this endeavor.

Except for when I go on vacation to Ohio or wherever, I haven't picked up the guitar much to speak of for two or three years. In over forty years that I've been playing, this is unprecedented. I was doing some serious chops in '03 and '04 when I was hanging with guys coming up from Louisiana. But when I hit the road later this week, my axe will be in hand. I will also have at least one tutorial on DVD, showing a few basic things -- nothing too intense, just enough to keep my hand in it. If I were smart, I'd keep a guitar handy in the living room, just hanging on the wall. I'd spend just fifteen minutes a day, every day, going back and forth on a few things. That's a lot better than watching the evening news half the time, and it's also better than dropping it cold turkey for months, and expecting to crash-course my way back again.

My scouting work is kept to a minimum, just enough to follow someone else, and not enough to lead unless I can delegate. A local Scout commissioner is expected to stay in touch with the units he supports, and I just barely manage to do that, concentrating more on the ones who need the most attention. It's not "by the book" (as I learned the hard way at a commissioners' retreat last Saturday), but for the next two years, it's that or nothing. I'll put in an appearance at the county fair booth when I get back later this month. Then I have to make an official visit to a pastor whose congregation sponsors one of my Scout troops. Seems the bulk of the membership is "aging out" (turning eighteen), and the pastor must be apprised as to whether he intends to continue the franchise, in which case there are some alternatives he may consider.

Here at mwbh, we've been talking a lot about the expanded permission for the "Old Latin Mass." The papal decree allowing for that will take affect in mid-September. I've already been in meetings with a pastor whom I've known for many years, about taking the lead as a master of ceremonies for his parish. Now, with any solemn form of the Mass -- regardless of which set of books is used -- the role of the master of ceremonies is to oversee the choreography within the sanctuary, whether the procession, the acolytes or other minor clerics who attend to the celebrant, and so on. A bishop usually doesn't visit anywhere to preside without bringing his own, usually a priest or deacon. But a competent layman can perform the task if need be. A missa solemnis in the classical usage actually requires two. The first emcee attends to the sacred ministers -- the priest, deacon, and subdeacon -- while the second emcee oversees the remaining entourage -- the crucifer (crossbearer), thurifer (censorbearer), first and second acolytes, and so on. The definitive text for the details is Adrian Fortescue's Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described, revised in mid-century by J B O'Connell, and most recently, edited and republished by Dom Alcuin Reid and St Michael's Abbey Press respectively. The next two months will be a crash course in the art of the ceremonial.

I have boxes of books that are yet to be unpacked. I have articles yet to be written, because some of the research requires access to those books. I've always had them shelved carefully by subject matter. I study architecture, I study American and world history, I promised "Sal" I'd study Tagalog this summer...

Why do I do all this?

I suppose it's a bug that bit me in the @$$ when I was young, and it never wore off. The result is something I have felt for most of my life. For all the anguish of keeping up with everything, there is a part of me that is convinced, that there would be nothing worse than to go through life being average. I rarely go anywhere without a book or magazine in hand, even if it's a xerox copy of an article or a computer printout of a web article. Last year I completed the complete series of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, as well as Robert Hugh Benson's 1907 apocalyptic novel Lord of the World, all in electronic form on a Palm Pilot. I've managed over the years to know a little bit about so many subjects. My parents wonder where I find the time.

Come to think of it, so do I.
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Transfiguration



He said, write down the vision that you had,
    and I wrote what I saw.

I saw the world kissing its own darkness.

It happened thus: I rose to meet the sunrise
    and suddenly over the hill a horde appeared
    dragging a huge tarpaulin.
They covered unwary land and hapless city
    and all sweet water and fields.
And there was no sunrise.

I strained my eyes for a path and there was no path.
I bumped into trees and the bushes hissed at me,
    and the long-armed brambles cried in a strident voice:
    never through here!
But I struggled on, fumbling my beads of no.

I came to a dark city where nobody knew
    that there was darkness.
And strange! though there was no light I still coud see
    what I did not want to see:
    people who moved to the loveless embrace of folly.
They ate her gourmet foods; they drank her wine,
    danced to her music that was crazed with rhythm,
    were themselves discord though they knew it not,
    or if they knew, cared less.

Outside the city wall I stood in thought,
    parried a moment with a frieghtening urge
    to court the darkness;
    but I held back, fearing the face of love.

Crossing a field I wandered through a desert
    when suddenly behind a rock I found
    a little sagebrush where a fire was burning,
    shining and dancing. After my first amazed
    worship of silence I was loud with praise.

I watched with fear the darkness circling it.
    lunging against it, swirling a black cloak
    to suffocate the light,
    until the shades broke loose and one by one
    in terror fled.

The flame burned on, innocent, unimperiled.
There was no darkness that could put it out.

-- Jessica Powers, aka Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit, OCD (1905-1988)
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Friday, August 03, 2007

Theology on Tap for Shut-Ins



It would appear that "man with red hat" has returned from... uh, wherever it was he went. Looking for seashells on the Jersey shore -- maybe, I dunno, whatever these guys do to relax. Be that as it may, His Eminence Justin Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, is back in town, and reflects on his personal experiences serving as the English translator for three popes over thirty years in the Vatican.
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T-ShirtHumor.com

In two weeks, Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig will premiere in a movie called The Invasion. From what I can tell, it looks like a remake of the 1956 cult classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which was already remade in 1978 starring Jeff Goldblum, Leonard Nimoy and Donald Sutherland. That one didn't have a happy ending. I'd go see this one if I knew it did.

(Veronica Cartwright was in the 1978 remake, and she's in this one too. Coincidence? You decide.)
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Karen Marie Knapp

I live alone. I have no kin less than a full day's drive away. I'm chronically ill with a disease that is incurable and fatal. Though I am doing all the things I need to do to collect on the "15 to 20 years of medically manageable symptoms", such as taking all my medicines, doing my physical therapy, using my oxygen, and so on, the fact is that I could easily be Called at any time. And the first notice of my passing, when my body finally stops working entirely, is very likely to be a blaring loudspeaker just like the one in the cafeteria this noontime, at some hospital or skilled nursing facility. I hope that when my time comes, and the loudspeakers start hollering about my room, that there is someone who takes pity on me and prays for me. It's on that list of the Things Catholics Do, the Works of Mercy: Pray for both the living and the dead.

Karen was the author of the weblog From the Anchor Hold, which she penned from her vantage point in Milwaukee near "Father Groppi's Bridge." She passed away only yesterday. Her brother Tom wrote this message today to Mark Shea, who first announced the news: "Calling Hours are 5-8 PM Sunday, August 5, in Cuyahoga Falls, OH. Mass of Christian Burial is scheduled for 10 AM on Monday, August 6, 2007. Karen's expressed desire, at several different times, was to cause as little 'trouble' as possible at her passing, whether in Milwaukee, Akron, or wherever, and so she will be interred in Akron... Arrangements have been made to place her obituary in the Akron Beacon Journal and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. I hope to arrange a memorial Mass, or possibly a shorter Liturgy, when I return next mid-week. Details will follow."

Remember not her sins, O Lord, when you come to judge the world by fire...
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"We can't come to the internet right now, but..."

Mark Shea reports that when Amy Welborn is off for a few days, "I begin to get nervous emails from people wondering if she's alright and what might have happened to her." If there are two people who are mentioned in any English-language print article or broadcast on "Catholic blogging," it's these two. Now, I've met them both, and they're both fine folks. They try to make an honest living getting a message out. But honest to God, people, if those two decided to shut down their blogs tomorrow, hundreds of individuals would be staring at their computer screens wondering to themselves, gee, where do I go to comment now???

There's a lesson in all this somewhere, and I hope I don't have to be even less charitable than I am already by coming out and saying it. Mark has mentioned how "people get the notion that, for example, Jimmy Akin and I are drinking buddies who are constantly scheming to create an 'Apologetics Oligarchy'..." (Oh, to be a fly on the wall for that pub gathering!) I've even had people write to me complaining about some sort of pecking order in the Catholic blogosphere, where a cabal of three or four authors pretty much keep the rest of us in line. For the record, I don't hand an envelope with unmarked bills to a couple of guys in double-breasted suits on Mark's payroll. As to Amy, I'm surprised that anyone raising children, especially small children, is able to be on the computer for five minutes without somebody needing a diaper changed, a nose wiped, or goodness knows what else.

Amy? Mark? My advice to you two kids??? When you link to someone else's story and have little else to add (which is always a viable option), turn your comments box off for that post. It'll keep a few people on their toes who could use the exercise, it would "share the wealth," so to speak, and you could still head to the beach with the family without all hell breaking loose. Don't worry, they'll still buy your books, and I for one would still pay good money to hear either one of you speak.

As to the rest of you, people behind the message do have lives, and occasionally they get up off their keisters to live them. Speaking from experience, it's not a bad idea.
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Thursday, August 02, 2007

I have seen the future...

...and so has Ted.

















(h/t to Jimmy Akin.)
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Pink Slips and Silver Linings

In the first two years after graduating from college, I was fired twice. I had the good fortune, however, of being in a profession where getting sacked did not carry the stigma it might in others, provided it didn't happen very often. I also had the misfortune of working for six months for a jerk.

Then again, it was the kind of experience I badly needed, and though it was obvious the only reason I got canned was because his younger son was also graduating and needed the work, he had to make up some cock-and-bull excuse about my not being productive -- six weeks after saying otherwise. Knowing the value of not burning bridges, I told him on the last day that I would do my damnedest to prove he was wrong about me.

It took less than three months. I had gotten the boot in early September. Before the end of November, I landed a contract with Procter and Gamble, one that most of the bottom-feeders in town would have killed to get, and that tided me over for about three or four weeks until I got the offer to move to Washington in December. I got a chance to work for my dad's old company, and I knew the product line, and what they expected from me. With that experience fresh on my resume, I hit the ground running when I hit DC.

It also helped that I was living at home.

That last point is not included in Jeffrey Tucker's advice on how to make the most of getting fired, but some other good advice is. My advice to free-lancers is to start looking for your next job on the day you start your current one. Jeff has more, in a piece entitled, naturally, "How To Handle Getting Fired."
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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Kudu Horn

Today, at eight o'clock in the morning local time, Scouts all over the world gathered wherever they were, to sound the Kudu horn (fashioned from a beast found in Africa and similar to the Jewish shofar), and to renew their pledge to the world movement of brotherhood and service, an idea which has its birth just one hundred years ago today...

Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell was born in Paddington, London, England, in 1857. As an officer in the British Army, he developed a handbook called "Aids to Scouting," to be used as a reconnaissance manual for the Boer War. It was during this conflict that its skills were brought to bear, in defending a garrison at Mafeking for 217 days, until reinforcements arrived. After the war, and upon learning of the book's popularity with young boys seeking outdoor adventure, he re-worked it to his newfound audience, and re-titled it "Scouting for Boys." In August of that year, on an island off the English coast known as Brownsea, he led an experimental training camp for twenty boys of various walks of life. Dividing them into patrols, developing team-building exercises, and teaching various "scoutcraft" skills, the experiment was a success.

The rest, as they say, is history. Among Girl Guides (including Girl Scouts in the USA), B-P's wife, Olave, the foundress of Girl Guiding, is also remembered. A century after the year of Brownsea, Scouting and Guiding now have a combined membership of over 38 million in 216 countries.

B-P died on 8 January 1941, and is buried in Nyeri, Kenya, near Mount Kenya. On his tombstone is the image of a circle with a dot in the center, the old trailmarker's sign meaning, "I have gone home."

And today, at Hylands Park in Chelmsford, England, and just off the coast on Brownsea Island, the 21st World Scout Jamboree is currently underway. It is there that Scouts from all over the world gather, to continue promoting mutual understanding and brotherhood, and to remember the man who still holds the title of "Chief Scout of the World."

I received a message from a brother-in-arms last night. Peter Ashpool is a veteran Rover Scout from the United Kingdom and a member of the UK Scouting Fellowship:

"A contingent from Troop 501 from California after travelling by plane for 20 hrs found on arrival 'No baggage' lost in transit. They pitched their tents in the dark and borrowed some camping gear. Three Scouts from the Cameroon turned up at the Airport to come to the UK and no one else turned up!! So the three came over themselves arriving at the site with nothing but personal baggage. In true Scout Brotherly Tradition, the three were taken in by a contingent from Belgium."

And with that, Scouting marches on...

Members of the USA contingent on hand for the 2007 World Scout Jamboree (www.bsawsj2007.org). Used without permission or shame.
Members of the USA contingent on hand for the 2007 World Scout Jamboree. Used without permission or shame.
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