Monday, August 06, 2007

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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