Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Until we return to our usual programming ...

It's that time of year in the Federal workplace, where we close out the old, and ring in the new. That means everybody wants something at once. As a result, several endeavors which have each required a certain amount of research have sort of fallen by the wayside, for want of a few loose ends tying up.

Fortunately, this little gem wasn't hard to find, or hard to convey. It seems that Hillsdale College came up with a list of “Top Ten Books You’ve Got To Read” for all you bookworms out there.

1. Aristotle’s Ethics
2. Plato’s Republic
3. Euclid’s Elements
4. Hayek’s Constitution of Liberty
5. The Federalist Papers
6. Homer’s Odyssey
7. Augustine’s Confessions
8. Shakespeare’s King Lear
9. Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment
10. C S Lewis’s Abolition of Man

I have to admit, for all the reading I do, I haven't read any of them -- no, not even the seventh one. My son Paul read the second one when he was a senior in high school, and it wasn't even required reading. I have no idea why. I've read other works by the author of the eighth one, but not that one. And I'm contemplating a new year's resolution to study the fifth one. In any case, at least this will placate my dedicated fan base for now (and you both know who you are), while I figure out a way to explain the real reason for this interregnum.

After all, my day job should hardly keep me from pursuing this in my spare time, don't you think?

Or don't you?

(H/T to New Advent.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Meditation on a Moon Pie

Great romances and dizzying cathedrals
aren’t the only things you get nostalgic for.
Just now I got that feeling,
a torn curtain dropping behind my eyes,
not from an old song but from a moon pie.

A moon pie in a cardboard display box.

Yeah, sing O Muse, of the dear lost days beyond recall,
the days of looking forward,
our summer house at Nag’s Head,
and the Great Moon Pie Mystery.

We brought a box of them as a joke,
and every morning one would disappear from its box
to be found the next day,
in some attitude of distress
(transfixed with a toy sword to a sand dune,
suspended by a string like the Sybil in her jar).

We figured it out in the end, who was doing it,
but first we launched an Inquisition.

Splendid, the imagination, don’t you think,
if it can pluck a story out of nothing,
make a plot out of a few wet grain of sands on a doorstep?

But even the imagination can’t bring back the past:
so, even the trivial things,
the moon pies no one would ever eat,
the paper doily by the bedside,
the children’s toy swords, become precious,
the most expensive things.

A moon pie, melted on a paper plate,
will last practically forever (I can assure you of this) –

But practically forever is nothing, really,
and so we can only trust that somehow God holds it all,
even the most foolish of things,
in the palm of his hand.

Rebecca Bratten Weiss is a wife, mother, thinker of deep thoughts, and Adjunct Instructor of English, Philosophy, and Honors, at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. She writes from her farm near Hopedale, Ohio. The accompanying video clip is a live performance of NRBQ at the Ram's Head Tavern in Annapolis, Maryland, on November 20, 2012.

Monday, September 15, 2014

“I read the news today, oh boy ...” (Dad’s Birthday Edition)

This writer's father, Paul Andrew Alexander, would have turned eighty-nine years old today. This video clip is a scene from a parish Oktoberfest outside of Cincinnati, Ohio, in October of 2010. He passed into eternity in February of 2012. Requiescat in pace.

And now, back to our regular programming.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I was pretty excited when they unveiled the Apple Watch (or “iWatch” as it's been called). But unlike the new iPhone 6 (which I'm getting the minute it's available), the iWatch doesn't actually exist, and won't for at least several more months. It'll probably cost more than my phone, but for my sixtieth birthday, I'm probably worth it. As you can see, Stephen Colbert is pretty jazzed about it too.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on planet Earth:

Until the “iWatch” actually exists, we can at least hear from the privileged few who got to wear one for five minutes, which is still pretty good for something that doesn't exist yet. [Gizmodo]

Someone once said it: “In one hundred years, we have gone from teaching Latin and Greek in high school, to teaching remedial English in college.” It does make you wonder … [Mental Floss]

David Letterman has a few burning issues of his own, like the fact that the band can't play any songs by The Eagles on his show. Is that any way to treat some clown who's used to getting his way all the time? I think not!!! [Ultimate Classic Rock]

In an illustration of how you just can't please some people, Facebook went from forcing more than giving us more than fifty choices of "gender" to making us use our real names. Or something. [Gigaom]

If you saw the movie “Jurassic Park” you've probably been wondering ever since if you could outrun a Tyrannosaurus rex; you know, just in case one should ever be created in a lab somewhere and get loose. It could happen. Really. [HowStuffWorks]

Does anyone remember these commercials from twenty years ago? Let's all go into the past for a look at the future, because hey, we're in the future right here in the present. (That almost made sense.) [Vox]

And speaking of the future, we presently have this new “Utopia” show that is actually more like a dumb dystopia, but obviously that's the point. [Paleofuture]

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

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Oh, Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go

Oh, love that will not let me go
I rest me weary soul in Thee
I give You back this life I owe
And in Your ocean depths its flow
May richer fuller be

Oh, light that follows all my way
I yield my flickering torch to Thee
And my heart restores its borrowed ray
And in Your sunshines blaze, its day
May brighter, fairer be

Rejoice my heart
Rejoice my soul
My Savior God has come to Thee
Rejoice my heart
You've been made whole
By a love that will not let me go

Oh, joy that seeks me through the pain
I cannot close my heart to Thee
I chase the rainbow through the rain
And feel the promise is not vain
That more shall tearless be

Rejoice my heart ...

Oh, cross that lifts and holds my head
I dare not ask to fly from thee
I lay in dust lifes glory dead
From the ground, their blossoms red
Life that shall endless be

Rejoice my heart ...

+    +    +

The lyrics above are from a hymn written in 1882 by George Matheson (1842-1906), a Scottish minister and hymn writer. Years earlier, upon being informed that he was going blind, his fiancé broke off the engagement, saying that she could not go through life being married to a blind man. Matheson went on to study for the ministry, even as his sight was fading, and it was in the throes of a broken heart, that he was moved to compose this hymn for the occasion of his sister's wedding. He later wrote that it took him only five minutes to compose. The melody and performance is by the Robbie Seay Band.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Song Remains The Same: “Happy” Beyond Pharrell Williams

This month, we present a special interruption of “Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre” which is our usual midweek feature. This special sub-series is named for the 1973 concert film by Led Zeppelin. After showing two very different versions of an AC/DC hit last month, it was decided to delve into the world of pop music remixes.

This first one put an American singer-songwriter, rapper, record producer, musician, and fashion designer by the name of Pharrell Williams on the map, and now everybody's doin' that happy dance, at a time when the world needs it most. There is even a 24-hour version at


You can either watch the "behind the scenes" video above, or you can check the one-hour segments of the 24-hour full monty, whether at 12 midnight, 12 noon, or any hours in between. Meanwhile, everybody is getting in on the act, provided with any excuse for a flash mob. Here's how they get it done in Malaysia.

We have featured Burlington, Ontario-based Walk Off The Earth at Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre before, bringing a unique and off-the-mainstream approach to mainstream pop music, as much fun to watch as they are to hear. And here they are with their friends from Parachute, along with the big brooding fellow, being big and brooding as always.

Our next feature is one you can expect given the fun we have here with √° cappella ensembles; in this case, the Brigham Young University-based Vocal Point. Hey, didn't we feature these guys once before? Oh, yeah we did, son of a gun! They seem to have grown in numbers since then, not to mention varied in their wardrobe so they don't look so much like Mormons even though they are, well, you know ...

Of course, we cannot forget the ultimate imitation as a form of flattery, starring none other than Weird Al Yankovic and his rendition of “Tacky.” He features comedian Margaret Cho, actor Jack Black, and some other people we can't seem to name at the moment. (Maybe you can, and the combox is open.)

Now, it's understood that you, dear reader, cannot wait to do your happy dance, so we're calling on choreographer Andrea Wilson to show you the moves, as we move on to our intense research for the next highlight of this special feature of our usual midweek feature.

Maybe if everybody around the world would do their happy dance all at the same time (and a search on YouTube for “pharrell williams happy” will give you quite an idea), we just might all stop killing each other long enough to forget why we ever started, don't you think?

Or don't you?

Monday, September 08, 2014

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

There are more exciting things than watching the grass grow. One of them is watching crayons being made, as we provide yet another excuse for a GIF animation.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on planet Earth:

There is what people say, and what people mean when they say it. Here is a list of fourteen such veiled comments. [Thought Catalog]

Speaking of falling for something, there is a new phenomenon on the internet, and her name is “The Food Babe.” This attractive woman appears to know something about what goes into your food, and she can even make dihydrogen monoxide sound bad for you. [Forbes]

Once there was a psychologist whose science experiments on his own children were considered unethical. Nowadays some children don't wait for that to happen. [Reuters via MSN]

It sounds like an urban legend, but a Great Dane underwent surgery to have 43 1/2 socks removed from his stomach. Maybe he was saving that last half-sock for a nightcap. One thing's for sure, if you watch the video, you'll see the story had a happy ending. [The Oregonian]

In a related story, an Indiana judge has ordered an attorney not to appear again in court without wearing proper attire, which would appear to include -- you guessed it ... [AP]

In other potentially scary outcomes (depending on from which side of Hadrian's Wall you hail), the vote of Scotland to separate from the United Kingdom leaves vexillologists and vexillophiles the world over wondering the same thing. [Gizmodo]

Meanwhile, on the other side of the aforementioned wall, somebody may have found Jack the Ripper. [The Daily Mail]

Somewhere is a list of what purports to be the fifteen most loved or hated bands of the last thirty years, depending on where you went to college, what year you graduated, and to which college clique you belonged. [Salon]

Finally, today is the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is a pretty big deal in the Philippines, especially the exotic city of Cebu. Note the priest wearing blue vestments, and the altar servers wearing blue tunics, an indulgence that Mother Church has historically granted to the Spanish colonies (past and present). [Cebu Daily News]

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

Friday, September 05, 2014

Timmy and the Pope

“When the faith is in imminent peril, prelates ought to be accused by their subjects, even in public.”
(St Thomas Aquinas)

Monsignor Charles Pope is a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, and pastor of Holy Comforter - St Cyprian Parish in the District. He has long been one of the regular celebrants for the monthly Missa Solemnis at St Mary Mother of God Church (Old Saint Mary's) at the east end of Chinatown, where yours truly served for him for several years. He also writes a regular column for the archdiocesan weblog.

His most recent one concerned the decision of the organizers of the Saint Patrick's Day Parade in New York City, to include an ostensibly Irish LGBT group (or LGBTQ, or LGBTQI, or whatever the hell it's up to now; what's the latest, LGBTQIA?) that wants to march in the parade as a distinct group, as if on the premise that bringing it up from the rear is a perfectly Irish thing to do on "some enchanted evening."

A modest proposal, yes?

It’s time to cancel the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Al Smith Dinner and all the other “Catholic” traditions that have been hijacked by the world. Better for Catholics to enter their churches and get down on their knees on St. Patrick’s Day to pray in reparation for the foolishness, and to pray for this confused world to return to its senses. Let’s do adoration and pray the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet unceasingly for this poor old world.

Apparently not. It used to be found at the adw.org domain, but alas …

In the 24 to 48 hours since the article appeared, it was removed without further comment, a tome which did not mention nor make reference to any ecclesiastical official of any jurisdiction, never mind call into question their prudential judgment, nor personally attack any particular member of the Church, whether cleric or laic. His commentary could have been interpreted in the most benign sense possible, that concessions of the faithful to the world are not met in kind by the world, thus proving that this IS not our world, that our Kingdom lay elsewhere. It was, at the end of the day, a response to the promotion of "an objective moral evil" with a call to prayer.

And we just can't have that, can we, Your Eminence?

So, every now and then, those clowns at Rorate Caeli do something besides embarrass themselves, and they copied the whole piece over and posted it themselves. And so we give a Tip of the Black Hat to them for doing the right thing without being jerks. We also give one to Msgr Pope himself, for taking what he had to know was a certain risk in publishing that over which a bunch of cowards in choir dress would invariably get their cinctures in a knot. We also give a Whack Across the Back of the Head with the Black Hat, to he who ultimately must bear responsibility for its removal.

But the ultimate WATBOTHWTBH goes to the one mere shadow of a man, who had a choice of whether to disassociate himself from that which can be no less than "an objective moral evil."

To wit, Timothy Cardinal Dolan responded thus ...

The Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Committee continues to have my confidence and support. Neither my predecessors as Archbishop of New York nor I have ever determined who would or would not march in this parade (or any of the other parades that march along Fifth Avenue, for that matter), but have always appreciated the cooperation of parade organizers in keeping the parade close to its Catholic heritage ...

After all, it wouldn't be the first time in the history of the Church, that a man of authority publicly washed his hands of that in which he took some part -- in this case, as Grand Marshal of one of next year's "any other parades." Status quo suprema lex, Your Immenseness, don't you think?

Or don't you?

UPDATE 1: Msgr Pope issues a clarification.

I removed the post upon further reflection due to the strong nature of the language I had used in parts of it. I apologize if the language I used caused offense.

It's okay, Father. Most of us were not offended. We all know who was.

UPDATE 2: The part where Cardinal Dolan says ...

Neither my predecessors as Archbishop of New York nor I have ever determined who would or would not march in this parade.

… isn't quite true, if you consider the following from the New York Times in 1993:

Declaring that political correctness is not worth "one comma in the Apostles' Creed," John Cardinal O'Connor triumphantly reviewed a St. Patrick's Day Parade …

And so, the plot thickens.

Monday, September 01, 2014

“I read the news today, oh boy ...” (Labor Day Edition)

There was a time when Chuck Todd was a decent reporter -- oh yes, there was a time -- but in this clip, he is less a reporter than he is a propagandist, and not a very good one at that. He would have us believe that what women voters really want, is free and unlimited access to abortion and birth control. After all, what else are women good for, if not the things for which they would demand free and unlimited … oh, wait, do tell us again about the "war on women."

Meanwhile, elsewhere on planet Earth:

Speaking of entitlements for half the human race, get ready for your kids to inundated with more television coverage of female problems (that our fathers and grandfathers never had to so much as think about). [Chicks on the Right]

Last week, we reported on science kits that came with uranium. But wait, there's more flirting with danger from back in the day. [Gajitz]

In other science news, it would appear that all the blue-eyed people are part of a single master race after all, or at least have a common ancestor, which is kinda the same thing, right? [ScienceDaily]

Turning now to the business world, the former CEO of the nation's largest supermarket chain thinks his salary was "ludicrous." Ironically, if he were appointed by the President to a high government position, he would take a pay cut. [The Cincinnati Enquirer]

And speaking of ludicrous, Miley Cyrus is demonstrating her solidarity with the homeless by dating one of them. Too bad there were no reference checks, since it's definitely a move down in the world for him. [Independent Journal Review]

Be the above as it may, somebody's being more careful these days, especially if they ride a bike that no one can steal when it's locked without defeating the plan. [Gajitz]

Finally, Jon Stewart is really confused about the internet, so he gets schooled on it by some guy from MIT. [Gizmodo]

And that's all the news that fits. As the panama hat is put away, and the Black Hat once again taken out of mothballs, stay tuned, and stay in touch.