Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Ain't Afraid O' No Ghosts: Reviewing "Holy Ghosts"


What many of the faithful thought was lost after these reforms [the Second Vatican Council, 1962-65] was a sense of the supernatural--of an unseen, invisible world, the world of spirit. This is not to say that spiritual matters were abandoned. Far from it, but as the Church shifted its focus in the latter years of the twentieth century, did belief in angelic and demonic forces have a place in the modern world any more? Did miracles really happen or could science explain them away? Or, for that matter, was heaven a real place or a state of mind? As these issues were debated over the next few decades, the idea of a spirit world for many people began to lose power. And, many critics believed, so did God.
In a sense, this is the true heart of Holy Ghosts by Gary Jansen. While on the surface it is the story of a decades-long haunting, underneath Jansen begins wondering whatever happened to what everyone used to "know" about the supernatural world existing alongside our own tangible one.

Jansen begins as a hard-headed skeptic who was trained in ignoring the odd noises and quirks of his childhood home. Doorbells that rang with no one there, the sound of smashing glass in the middle of the living room where there was no glass to be smashed, and creaking stairs that sounded as if someone were walking on them when no one was there ... these were all standard occurences as he grew up; as the family gave reasonable explanations, he accepted them and learned to do likewise. However, when he is living in that same house as a married man with a child, the oddities grow worse and eventually neither Jansen nor his wife can ignore them any more.
The lamp was off in the toy room, which was just beyond our dining room, but there was a soft blue glow from the computer screen illuminating the wall I stood up and slowly walked across the floor, and the church bells had been replaced by the sound of drums. And it was getting louder. I stepped inside the toy room, where there was music coming out of the speakers. iTunes was on, and metallic guitars were pumping to the beat. It took me a brief moment, but the song registered in my head. It was "Hells Bells" by AC/DC. I remembered leaving the computer on before I stared reading but I was positive there wasn't any music playing. The vocals kicked in and, as I stood there listening to the sound, I felt the electric surge that I had mostly only felt in Eddie's room roll over me as lead singer Brian Johnson intoned, "I'll give you black sensations up and down your spine. If you're into evil then you're a friend of mine."

"You've got to be s******g me," I said to myself. "There is no way this is happening." I switched off iTunes, shut down the computer, waked upstairs, and got into bed with Grace. Eddie was sleeping soundly next to her. I put my arm over the both of them and, for the first time since all of this began, I felt afraid.
There are more things revealed in that house than are dreamt of in their philosophy, until Jansen begins wondering what the Catholic Church teaches about angels, demons, ghosts, and spirits. He is surprised to learn that the Church takes these things seriously and does not treat them as products of imagination. As we watch Jansen strive to understand and rid his home of the often terrifying ghosts, we also travel with him on the journey of discovering what it means to acknowledge the unseen world of the supernatural.

I truly enjoyed this book, although I used very bad judgment in reading it before bedtime. I don't think it would have bothered me as much as it did, except for the fact that I have had two experiences with ghosts or spirits myself. This confirms one of Jansen's comments on the accompanying publicity materials, which is that it is very common for him to share his story only to have the listener pipe up with an experience of their own. Like synesthesia, this is something that people rarely speak of, but may experience a lot more than we are led to understand. Reading this made me think of my own experiences again and that was an uncomfortable thing indeed.

Jansen offers his story with no apologies for taking a rather unorthodox route in dealing with the problem. He lets us see his indecision, his questions, and the reason he ultimately chooses the path they took. A more orthodox Catholic, what Jansen might call a "good Catholic" probably would have gone to a priest at some point and asked for a rite of exorcism or some other sort of aid. It is difficult to say what one would do in such a situation until one is faced with it. Theories are very fine until one imagines facing a priest and talking about ghosts. So much depends on the personalities of the people and their preconceptions (yes, even priests have preconceptions.) I think that Jansen made the best decisions he could with the information he had at the time and, ultimately, that is what we all do when dealing with crisis situations, for better or worse. (For those who have come to me with "pastoral concerns": I don't advise taking Gary's route and would have gone to my local priest or some other Church official who would have done an exorcism or whatever was called for.)

My only quibble with the book is that occasionally Jansen uses language which, frankly, surprised me not so much because it was just this side of swearing, but because it felt at odds with the rest of the flow of the book. It was as if he were trying to push for "edgy" language, but honestly that was not needed. The story itself, told in all honesty, is edgy enough without those lapses which always took me out of the book and stopped me for a second before I would plunge back in.

Jansen's honest tale is one that I highly recommend. What I appreciate most is the way that he used his supernatural encounters as a springboard to look for what the Catholic faith teaches and for a way to incorporate it into his everyday life. This is how Catholics should live, no matter what we encounter, and Jansen gives us a fine example of it. As he points out, the Church is reacquainting us with some of the things that were inadvertently ignored or misplaced in the reforms after the Second Vatican Council. If we believe in God, then the Bible has much more to say about other supernatural beings. It is something worth pondering and Holy Ghosts is a well told tale that is a good reminder of those truths.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Knocking "Schultze Gets the Blues" Off Our Family's List as Worst Movie Ever Rented ...

... here comes Man Push Cart.

Ahmad is a Pakistani immigrant who dispenses coffee and bagels and suchlike from his food cart in New York City. He has to haul it manually to his corner and back.

That's the essence of the plot.

We could not but agree with BBC reviewer Digby Lewis who, in part, commented in his review:
A modern day retelling of the Sisyphus myth - in which a man spends his days heaving a large rock uphill, only to watch it roll back down the slope every time - Ahmad (Ahmad Razvi) is our ill-fated cart-pusher, who succeeds only in having a thoroughly miserable time of it in the Big Apple. ...

... Unfortunately, the characters are so tediously one dimensional, poorly scripted and amateurishly acted, that the most sympathetic character is a neglected kitten.
Or the San Francisco Chronicle review which observed:
... The makers of "Man Push Cart" seem so dedicated to making a film that defies Hollywood conventions that the finished product lacks enough entertainment value to justify price of admission. ...
Would that I had seen this before having believed all those other critics who I know know think that a dreary movie going nowhere is the height of artistic achievement.

I don't have a problem with watching a movie about the downtrodden immigrant experience, which was all we could conclude the director was aiming for.

However, I have a huge problem being subjected to a movie about a stupid, downtrodden immigrant experience (spoilers follow, but you won't care because you're never going to watch this, right? Please promise us you won't watch it ...):
  • When you make the payment on that food cart, then get it insured, just as you were advised to do. You have some money in that box you leave lying around your room (which I was continually expecting him to return to find stolen ... they missed that one ...).
  • That uninsured cart? Don't go jaunting off after a toy vendor around the corner to buy your son a toy ... and then be stunned when you find that New York City's criminals whisked it away when you were gone.
  • That fellow Pakistani you met? He's a phony and you had tons of clues. If you were the Bono of Pakistan, as he explained to someone, then you should have had lots of time to learn how to identify a phony. You didn't figure that out? Like I said ... stupid.
  • That phony's pal who is going to reestablish your singing career if only you will do menial work in the meantime? Not only phony, but just a jerk who is using you. Again. Tons of clues. TONS.
  • That Spanish girl you like? She likes you. TONS of clues. And you like her. We know you do. So when she is dating that phony you both know, don't just stand there giving her longing looks and shoving her away when she tries to kiss you. That would be ... oh, right ... stupid.
  • The kitten? Ok, we're giving you a break on that one. Although if you did know someone who was wise to the ways of two-week-old kittens, why didn't you ask him for some info earlier? But as I said, we're giving you a break. We like guys who rescue 2-week-old kittens.
There was more, but not much more because little happened in the movie ... we watched the guy in his daily grind which was not pleasant, but we didn't see him learn a darned thing. Except not to leave his cart alone when he's going to buy a trinket. He didn't progress. He didn't improve his lot or anyone else's. He didn't get beaten down by the man. He was just ... a victim of his own stupidity.

There's an hour and a half of my life I won't get back. Ever.

Friday, August 27, 2010

What grows really well at 105°?

Eggplant.

Lots and lots of eggplant.

What to do with it?

Turn away from the heat, into the ... freezer. At Meanwhile, Back in the Kitchen.

These Just In: Two Books I Can't Wait to Read


I was surprised but pleased when I opened the package containing Holy Ghosts yesterday. Gary Jansen wrote a stellar book about the rosary which I remembered well, but I couldn't imagine why he was writing a book about ghosts. Turns out, Jansen's time living in a haunted house (yes, really) helped him dig deeper into his own faith and lack of belief in "things unseen." I began reading my standard "book sampling" of the first chapter to see if I wanted to read more. When I came to myself some time later, I had finished half the book. Obviously, this is a gripping story on several levels and I will review it here later.

Ok, and I just want to say ... anyone who has a good idea their house is haunted and then goes up in the middle of the night to the attic to pull out a reference book? They're not firing on all cylinders ... even if they are looking for the Catholic Dictionary. I'm just sayin' that I was kinda freakin' out the whole time I was reading about it (and not without reason, y'all).



Everyone here knows I'm a big fan of Mike Aquilina's writing. As a matter of fact, I put his book The Resilient Church in my "To Reread" stack just the other day. That book looks at how the Church has overcome past trials, some of which were brought upon Her by our own sinful selves. It is a great resource (and reminder) for those times when someone throws up a painful past with facts that might not really be accurate. Or when they aren't aware of what was done to correct a particular problem.

Roots of the Faith looks as if it will make a good "bookend" read since it takes a "time travel" look at some very familiar Catholic concepts like the Mass, confession, and teachings against abortion and then goes back to see what the early Christians actually practiced and believed. How does he know? The Church Fathers, of course, wrote a lot of it down and if there's something we can count on Mike for, it is knowing what the Church Fathers said about things. This looks like something we can use when coming up against those folks who like have been taught that the Catholic Church has changed everything around from the way it was in the early days of the Church.

A Movie You Might Have Missed: 26

Mystery and comedy. There may be no better combination, and certainly you won't find it done better than in today's movie.

26. Without a Clue

Without a Clue features stellar teamwork by Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley, who are at their best here. Kingsley is Dr. Watson who actually is the genius at deduction. He has written his adventures as stories with a fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, so as to not hurt his chances at being named to a prestigious board. When the stories got so popular that people wanted to meet Holmes he hired actor, Reginald Kincaid to act the part. The problem: Kincaid is a two-bit, drunken, skirt-chasing actor (Caine) which causes no end of trouble and comic delight whenever "Holmes" tries to improvise his way through a case. It is a real delight to watch these two great actors throw themselves into their parts with wonderful comic timing. Caine gets a lot of mileage out of Holmes' efforts to appear a genius. This movie is especially good for any children who understand how twist works on the classic detective stories.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Little Book Talk

Catching up on the last few week's reading (or listening):
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: I  tried it before but either wasn’t in the right mood or was expecting something different. Hannah read it, loved it, shoved it on my nightstand, and nagged me about it (with that hopeful, wistful, little puppy look that a mom can’t say no to…) so I gave in. I found the writing was charmingly understated and amusing. It is about magic, English practitioners of magic, books about magic, and set in England during the Napoleonic war. Principally, the conceit of the story is that there was an English form of magic but it has been lost. The only true practitioner who has been found is Mr. Norrell who learned everything from his precious books. Eventually we also meet Jonathan Strange who is surprised to find that he has a natural aptitude for magic. Eventually the two men meet and have an interesting relationship that is partly friendship and partly competitive.

    After about 200 pages in, I was struggling as the author did much meandering from the plot at a length that doesn't move the story along, although it did add atmosphere. The author based her writing upon the style at the time the story is set ... Dickens, Jane Austen, etc. ... which helps account for the meandering and footnotes, many of which are hilarious or tell interesting stories. I finally switched to the audio book and enjoyed it immensely more than in simple reading. I think I do better with meandering books when on audio for some reason. It certainly helped with Charles Dickens when I was reading A Tale of Two Cities. At any rate, the narration was simply excellent and I believe that helped me a great deal as I practically became addicted to it.

    At the end the book suddenly picked up the pace with one thing happening after another. It ended in an unexpected way with some story lines being firmly concluded while others were left to drift off. Usually this would bother me but, in a sense, it was very true to real life, which makes me reflect upon the fact that the way the story was told was very like having someone tell it to you in person. They take little byways of explanation that may not have too much to do with the story and then come back to the point. In listening to the book this made for a delightful and somehow restful story. This was wonderfully narrated and that doubtless helped quite a bit. Recommended but only for those who do not object to long, meandering stories with a lot of footnotes. (Four out of five stars.)
  • Quo Vadis:  Read for our Catholic women's bookclub, this is a historical fiction based around a young, headstrong Roman soldier who suddenly falls for a fetching young Christian girl. He then pursues her while she is alternately attracted by him and then repelled by his less attractive characteristics ... and there are many to be repelled by, believe me. It is set against the backdrop of Nero who is constantly hoping to be further inspired by a poetic muse (even to the point of considering burning down a city ... yes, we're going all the way on this one). This is a book that deserves to be rediscovered in the strong comparison of characters (Petronius versus Vinicius versus Nero, etc.) and beautifully written prose. Or would that be "beautifully translated prose?" Probably both. Anyway, there is clear foreshadowing of Rome being burned from the moment we meet Nero so it is not a spoiler to comment that I had never given any thought to the complete chaos that would ensue from attempting to flee a burning city ... this vivid portrayal has held me enthralled. I  greatly enjoyed the depiction of ancient Roman life under Nero and the unfolding story of passionate love which gradually takes on a spiritual dimension also. This book is very inspirational in its look at Christianity and also at free will, especially in the martyrdoms toward the very end. I found Petronius' character wonderful to the end, though will say little more here as I don't want to give away any spoilers. I, myself, was guessing up until the end at who would live and who would die.
  • Inner Compass:  A review book from Loyola Press that I received some time ago. I've been interested in Ignatian Spirituality for a while and this has a more general take so far than some books I've read. Silf has a way with imagery and of helping one mentally "enter" the situations she presents. All this helps to get a clear view of where we stand, where God is (yes, everywhere), and how we can better connect. Although the imagery can be helpful, eventually I hit a spot in the book which made me wonder about the author's ability to truly pass it on well. At one point she retells God and Satan's conversation from the beginning of the book of Job, which is what begins Job's suffering. However, her portray of God is so very ... human ... God hasn't thought of something that Satan mentions to him, He wonders and doubts, etc. Really? God doubts? This makes Silf the world's absolute worst reteller of that story. Read it for yourself and see that there are no such motives for God as she ascribes. Since she is essentially retelling us Ignatian spirituality from St. Ignatius's work, it makes me wonder if she is doing a similarly careless job filtering it for us. Therefore, it makes her entire work suspect in my eyes, until I am able to compare it to St. Ignatius's writings. Which, obviously, is where I would  turn if I was interested in further pursuing this course. Not sure if I am, actually, as I read this because it was a review book ... 
  • Miss Marple-The Complete Short Stories: I read all these in different editions, many when they first came out long ago. They prove just as entertaining now as they did then, and in many cases I don't remember the stories well, which is a bonus. There is no one for sniffing out wickedness in basic human behavior like a spinster lady who has lived in a little village, as gentle Miss Marple continually must remind those around her.
  • The Moving Finger: I haven't read an Agatha Christie in years, having read them all repeatedly through my youth and young adulthood. I suddenly was taken with the urge to revisit the Miss Marple mysteries and this is the first full-length novel that came to me from the library. This is told from the point of view of a brother and sister who have moved to a small country town and find that there is a anonymous letter writer plaguing everyone with salacious innuendos. This eventually results in sudden death and murder. I was surprised to see that I didn't remember the murderer, or at least I thought I didn't. Turns out I actually did, but Christie moved me away from that choice with such finesse and sleight-of-hand that I was really unsure until the end and changed my mind several times during the course of the book. It was interesting to reread after such a long absence from her style and see how well she painted character and place with very few strokes, saving most of her effort for the mystery. Most enjoyable and highly recommended.
  • The Body in the Library: my second foray into revisiting Agatha Christie's Miss Marple mystery novels. When Col. and Dolly Bantry find the body of a young woman in their library one morning, Mrs. Bantry fetches Miss Marple to solve the murder. I had absolutely no recollection of this mystery. Once again, even when looking for the simplest, most logical solution (as Miss Marple would do), Agatha Christie hornswoggled me and I was fooled. Simply brilliant storytelling using a minimum of description but yet leaving the reader with clear mental images of the people and locations (or at least inferring so much tone that the reader is free to do it for themselves).

A Movie You Might Have Missed: 25

Now we share one of Tom's favorite movies. Have you noticed that many of his favorites are gentle, charming, and humorous? Yep. But all individuals in their own way. This one is no different.
25. Shower

This is the sweet, charming story of a son who returns home due to a misunderstanding. He has made a successful life for himself in another city while his father and brother have remained in business at the father's bath house.

On one level the story is predictable, revealing the problems of the bath house regulars. As we expect, the returning brother has been somewhat estranged from his family and this, too, is resolved. For instance, I will never again hear "O Sole Mio" without thinking of this movie. However, on another level, there is complexity that was unexpected. This is provided by the brother who has remained at home and by the father's revelation of his past ... whereby we understand exactly why he loves running his bath house. Quite enjoyable also are the glimpses of life in the father's corner of Beijing.

In which Carruthers discovers what "seven" means.

Episode 131 is up at Forgotten Classics, as well as something to remind us that Guys Can Read. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Recently on the Home Screen

When both girls were home, our movie viewing went way up. That seems possibly counter-intuitive but they have extensive collections and we all like to force movies on each other which simply must be seen. I present to you here the good, the bad, and the ugly (or shallow).
  • Dr. No: the first of the James Bond movies, this is a pleasure to watch for the introduction of many now-institutional elements. The "gun barrel" credits, theme music, Sean Connery, the first "Bond" girl (Ursula Andress), and hip visual style all have been carried on and modernized over time. Surprisingly this movie was produced on a low budget, which is quite a contrast to the ramped-up, legendary high budgets that are now lavished on Bond movies. The time it was made also makes it somewhat of a time capsule presenting what we might call "socially unaware" attitudes about race and gender. Well worth watching in it's own right as an entertaining spy story.
  • Gattaca: In the near future, everything is determined by your DNA analysis, beginning with your parents' choosing to give you life. Several of us had been meaning to watch this for some time and we all liked it with much conversation resulting over the next few days. This will be part of the "movies you might have missed" series.
  • Crazy Heart: save yourself some trouble and watch Tender Mercies instead. Jeff Bridges does a creditable job of portraying washed-up country singer Bad Blake, who calls Waylon Jennings to mind for those of us who know about his hard life. However, this movie skates along the surface and rarely dips below that to show us anything new about motivation or character. Bad's life changes seem to come fairly easily, especially his romance with the much-younger journalist played by Maggie Gyllenhall (which produced many cringe-inducing moments for us all) and the super-supportive attitude of former band member, Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell). The music is good and it isn't a bad movie. It just isn't what it could have been.
  • Mary and Max: an eight year old Australian girl and a 40 year old New Yorker strike up a pen pal friendship that carries them over 20 years. See my review here.
  • Angel - Season Five: not a movie, but it was on our home screen. Rose and I dedicated a fair amount of time to finishing the last season of Angel and it became a homecoming ritual that I enjoyed a great deal as we polished off an episode almost every weekday. I mention it because the last episode of the series stunned me with how perfectly it worked. I'm not sure that Joss Whedon would appreciate my saying it, but Angel offered an unbelievably Christ-like sacrifice for his fellow man in order to give the forces of evil a jolt. It occupied my mind for several days because of that.

A Movie You Might Have Missed: 24

Time to ratchet up the pace some in our movie viewing.

24. Equilibrium


Come now to a future, after the Third World War, where a hidden leader named "The Father" has decreed that the answer is to remove emotions as they are the root of all violence and evil. Banishing emotions leads to banishing art, music, and books as well, but that is a small price to pay for peace. Or so this futuristic society believes as they take their daily doses of Prozium which sublimates feelings. Christian Bale is John Preston, a Clerick whose job it actually is to enforce the anti-emotion laws by rooting out and destroying the underground sense-offender resistance who luxuriate in things like perfume, silk, and symphonies. One day he accidentally misses his daily dose of Prozium and ... you guessed it ... discovers what he's been missing.

In many ways, the story line is predictable but watching it unfold brings a fair number of surprises, the acting is good, and the faces are lovely (Christian Bale, Taye Diggs ... oh yes). As well, there is the inventive "Gun-Kata," martial art with weapons at a super-high speed which lends itself to a choreography which is simply amazing to see. This came out around the same time as The Matrix which may be why it has been overlooked by so many, but our family prefers this movie.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Movie You Might Have Missed: 23

Yes, there are still more good movies you might have missed on my list, and here is the next in our daily installments.
23. Matchstick Men

Nicholas Cage is a con artist whose successful cons can't compensate for the fact that his numerous phobias leave him no way to have any personal life. Sam Rockwell is his partner and they are in the middle of pulling off a potentially lucrative scam when Cage discovers he has a teenage daughter who arrives unexpectedly to live with him. What then unfolds is a story of learning to parent interspersed with pulling off the con. The two stories become entangled which leads to increasing tension. You don't get much more of an anti-hero than Nicholas Cage's character in this role. As for style, granted it is that of the 60's more than today but that is more than compensated for by the sheer attraction of watching the con go on. More than anything, however, I was struck by the sheer potential for change and growth that Cage's character discovers. The end, which I won't reveal here, struck me as an extremely Catholic one.

This Just In: The Faithful Traveler, season 1

I well remember how enjoyable I found The Faithful Traveler dvd featuring the Miraculous Medal Shrine in Philadelphia. A good part of that enjoyment came from Diana von Glahn's sparking personality and the thoroughness of information.

I easily understood why EWTN snapped up the concept and had The Faithful Traveler produce an entire season of travel for them. Sadly, I do not have cable so was not able to watch it.

Happily, I have just received the dvd for the first season. Though I haven't had a chance to dip in yet, I am eagerly anticipating finding out more about wonderful Catholic places to visit in the U.S. If you are interested and missed the EWTN showings, or just want your own copy to watch again, check out the Faithful Traveler website.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Movie You Might Have Missed: 22

We're only about halfway through my list. Yes, I already put a Woody Allen movie on here, but this is very different from Bullets Over Broadway, and I don't want you to miss it.
22. Radio Days


Before the internet, video games, and television, there was radio which captivated its audience just as thoroughly as modern storytelling venues do today. This movie is Woody Allen's love letter to the medium he grew up with. He narrates as we watch a young boy's view of his ordinary family and the way that different radio shows influenced their lives. Several generations of his family live in their New York house during World War II and the always-playing radio provides the backdrop to the small daily dramas that make up their lives. The stories go from humorous to dramatic as we see the family stories interspersed with those of the radio stars of the day and Sally the cigarette girl who is struggling to begin a radio career. At the heart is a love of family that shines through all the everyday ordinary scenarios and the nostalgic look at the past. Thoroughly captivating and a movie I have watched countless times.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Happy Birthday, Hannah!


She's celebrating her 22nd birthday this year. We did a big celebration last week when more people were in town but it is still HER day around here.

If I lived near Nolly Cakes then I would actually plump down the cash for this truly wonderful cat cake ... as it is, she asked for tiramisu, which we got from the best place in Dallas for that delicious desert.

I'm am repeating this viewing of the things she loves best, slightly updated ... simply lots and lots o' critters. (Don't just pick these up and pass them on, please. Click through on the links to check permissions, some of which I have obtained personally for this blog alone.)




Happy birthday , Hannah!
























Friday, August 20, 2010

A little something extra about pausing to recharge your batteries.

Lagniappe about The Power of Pause at Forgotten Classics.

A Movie You Might Have Missed: 21

We head now to a movie that I am continually surprised that people haven't seen ...
21. Shaun of the Dead

Shaun and his best friend are a couple of slackers. A good evening is one that ends at the pub and every evening ends at the pub. Shaun's girlfriend is less than pleased with this lack of initiative, especially after celebrating their third anniversary ... at the pub. She breaks up with Shaun who is so distraught that he doesn't notice all there is a zombie epidemic all around them. This leads to some hilarious scenes, such as when Shaun and his friend first encounter zombies and think they are drunks. Shaun takes the lead in rescuing his mum and ex-girlfriend to take them to the safest place he can think of ... the pub. This truly is a romantic comedy with the original twist being the zombies.

I was anxious to see this from the first moment I heard the premise, yet put it off for fear of the "R" rating (for zombie violence ... yes, that's actually what it says). There is plenty of warning for any such scenes and much of it is so fake that it doesn't matter. The directors are really good at combining our awareness that this is a zombie movie with Shaun's general cluelessness to provide many very funny jump scenes as well.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Movie You Might Have Missed: 20

This is a real favorite of Tom's and the combination of gentle humor with realism is a winning combination.
20. The Dish

In 1969, viewing the Apollo moon landing depends on a satellite dish in Australia that is smack dab in the middle of a sheep pasture. Along with everything else, the local technicians must deal with their natural annoyance at having a NASA man foisted upon them to make sure everything goes ok while the locals feel understandable pride at being in the center of an international spotlight. Based on a true story, The Dish brims with understated wit that shows the differing cultural attitudes between Australia and the U.S. while taking us back to the true wonder of what it meant to watch a man walk upon the moon.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Top 2 Blogging and Podcasting Tips

I've been blogging for six years and podcasting for three. My goodness, where does the time go?

During that time, I have been asked by others for tips on both blogging and podcasting. The tips for both are the same as I rarely focus on the mechanics of getting the thing done.

Tip #1
Be yourself. Follow your passion.

There are tons of bloggers out there. But there is no one like you, so let us meet the real you.

Enthusiasm waxes and wanes over time for any activity. If it isn't one that you truly care about then your blog will fade steadily away as other matters come along and it gets shoved to one side. Sharing something you truly care about keeps both you and your audience interested. Nothing can replace true enthusiasm and you can't fake it.

Tip #2
Be a good neighbor.

Link back, acknowledge contributions from others, and don't ask for favors that you aren't willing to do for someone in return. If you aren't sure if someone will mind you showing their stuff, then ask for permission (this applies to artwork more than anything else, but some writers will show a copyright on their pages ... notably authors and food blogs.)

This is a no-brainer, right? Like holding the door open for someone or saying, "please" and "thank you."

You'd think so, but there are some folks out there ... some very big name folks, surprisingly ... who don't do this. When you're blogging, you are part of a community. No matter where the community, including cyberspace, manners still count. Especially if you are part of the Catholic blogosphere. And people do notice, believe me.

I know this because I have many very good neighbors, both Catholic and not. A very few of those who provide very good examples for us all include:

Rediscovering An Old Favorite: Cribbage

Cribbage works on several levels, with interlocking strategies that are a delight to manipulate. As with any card game, you're subject to the luck of the draw, but you can bend that luck in ways other games don't allow. A bad draw doesn't have to correlate to a bad hand. The choice of which cards to unload to the crib (as dealer or non-dealer), what order to lay down cards, and which points to attempt all factor into the strategy.

There really is nothing quite like it in the realm of card play. Despite its layered scoring system (which allows cards to score points more than once) and its unique terminology, it’s a fairly easy game to learn and teach. It also plays like gangbusters. People familiar with the rules and scoring system can knock through a full scoring track in about 15 to 20 minutes.
Thomas L. McDonald recently learned how to play cribbage and has a delightful post up discussing the game. I am indebted to his discovery because it made me suddenly remember that was one of my favorite card games from growing up. My parents played and then we all learned to play. I vaguely remember teaching it to Tom when we were first married ... and then we had children and cribbage-playing time went out the window.

I found and dusted off our little travel-board for scoring, pulled out the Hoyle's Book of Games from the game shelf, and sat down with Rose to rediscover the game that I barely remembered how to play. It was easy to pick up again and easy for Rose to learn. As Thomas points out, within 15 minutes we were both playing as if we'd been doing it nonstop all along. As well, my family had never played with "muggins," "his nobs," and "his heels" so that adds a fun dimension ... as well as one which Rose remembers much better than I do most of the time. Which makes me a muggins more than I'd like!

It really is much simpler than the plethora of scoring rules makes it seem so give it a try if you haven't encountered cribbage before.

A Movie You Might Have Missed: 19

And we venture once again into animation with this edition of movies that you might have missed.
19. Howl's Moving Castle

19-year-old Sophie has resigned herself to a drab life in her family's hat shop ... until she is cursed by an evil witch to have an 90-year-old body. She leaves home and goes searching for a way to break the spell. In the countryside she comes upon Howl's strange moving castle which walks about on large chicken legs. Howl is the young wizard who owns the castle and Sophie soon becomes part of the household as the housekeeper. As she gets to know the members of the little household, we also see that their land is under attack from flying ships dropping bombs. Not only must Sophie find a way to break the curse upon her, but she soon wants to help the others that she has met along the way. Naturally, Sophie eventually discovers her hidden potential in the magical castle through her honesty, determination, and bravery. This is a complicated story and my summary is extremely simple. It is a pure delight but be prepared to pay attention.

The Connection Between Science and Science Fiction

Lagniappe with Michael Flynn's thoughts on science and science fiction ... to be found at Forgotten Classics.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Movie You Might Have Missed: 18

The pursuit of lesser known movies continues with ...
18. Reign Over Me


Don Cheadle is dissatisfied with his life. His marriage could be better, as could his dental practice in which he is being stalked by a patient. Trudging along through his routine he is surprised to see his college roommate (Adam Sandler) who he lost touch with long ago. Cheadle had heard that his roommate lost his family in the September 11 attacks and it is soon clear that Sandler welcomes his old roommate's friendship precisely because Cheadle never knew his family. Although this movie has the potential to be a real downer as it examines grief from several angles, it does not fall into that trap. Thanks to the strength of friendships and comedy the movie wound up being uplifting.

We're Alive - returns August 23 for season 2

What? You haven't listened to We're Alive? No time to waste then in catching up with this excellent audio drama. (Yes, it's got zombies. That is just part of the audio goodness awaiting you.)
Synopsis:
A small riot in LA has spread past its containment. Three reserve soldiers are called to their deserted duty station. Believed to be the last remaining armed servicemen in the area, Michael, Angel, and Saul witness the true cause of the riot; people are starting to change and attack each other.

Armed with only what they can carry, they set out to secure an apartment building and rescue survivors scattered amongst the shattered remains of civilization.

In a world turned upside down, every day is a struggle, as those who have taken refuge in “the tower” find out that their safe haven is under constant threat. In this place, however, the strengths of those who stand together, might just be enough to live long enough to see things start to change.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Movie You Might Have Missed: 17

Continuing our trip down movie memory lane in pursuit of lesser known movies, we come to ...
17. Pan's Labyrinth


This definitely is a fairytale for adults. Do not let the kids watch this one.

During the Spanish civil war in 1944, a young girl and her mother move to their new home with the mother's new husband, cruel Captain Vidal. In the midst of a risky pregnancy, the mother can't do much more than rest in bed while the girl, Ofelia, wanders the grounds and countryside. She soon discovers an entire underground world and is guided by the persuasive Faun in his labyrinth. He offers to help her if she'll complete three treacherous tasks. As Ofelia begins her tasks the viewer is left with the question of whether this alternate reality really exists or is imaginary. Del Toro leaves that up to the viewer. I know what I think ... but I've seen the movie!

(Warning: the Captain is a extremely violent and cruel character. If you think that he is going to do something terrible, just figure that he will. I didn't watch when violence threatened and didn't miss any important dialogue in the subtitles.)

From the Mailbag: A Tremor of Bliss

I received a review copy of this book last week and just wanted to quickly mention that the introduction and first chapter trial reading (to see if I wanted to keep going) surprised me with how much I thought the author got right and how much I enjoyed reading. More later, but I did want to give a sample to anyone who might be interested in trying it out. I'd like to put the entire introduction here as that is what won me over, but will just put these tidbits. Hopefully, you will get a glimpse of what interests me in the book.
This book began as a chapter I didn't want to write. ... My book was about how both sides of the Catholic culture war could achieve peace by—well, by following the teachings of the Church.

The first chapter in the book was going to be about sex. I wanted to write about sex first not because I found it the most interesting, but because I wanted to get it out of the way. I still had a reticence about sex that wen back to the way I was raised, by parents who were by no means prudes, but who also never talked about sex. I also am a sinner and a faulty vessel and wanted to avoid sounding like a conservative scold about sexual matters. So the first chapter would be about sex and then I could go on to less chaotic and terrifying topics.

But then something happened. While doing research, I came across some of the most poetic, beautiful, inspiring writing about human sexuality—and it was all written or said by Catholics. Much of it came from the years before Vatican II, the Church council from the early 1960s that supposedly modernized the Church. I had thought that before the council the world, and especially the Catholic Church, was lost in a puritanical darkness that dared not speak of the human body. Then I came across writers like Saint Teresa of Avila, who lived in the sixteenth century and used exotic metaphors to describe our seduction by God ...

... As I was doing research for this work, I was struck with another revelation: The most poetic an powerful expression of the Catholic idea of the nature of love is rock 'n' roll music. I grew up with rock 'n' roll and as I became a more serious Catholic as I got older I realized that rather than driving me away fro Christianity, the music drew me closer. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones (the bands that I grew up with), Coldplay, Van Morrison, Aretha Franklin, and Beyonce all sing most powerfully about one thing: love. It is the constant, inexhaustible theme of their sounds. If, as the Bible says, God is love, then God must love rock 'n' roll. As I explore in the book, this, of course, does not mean that rock 'n' roll is not rebellious music that challenges social custom. But more often than not, this challenging is a cry for a saner, more just, and moral society, not a more decadent one. ...

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Movie You Might Have Missed: 16

One of Harrison Ford's attempts to avoid typecasting shows just what a good actor he is, in this, our next stop down Little Known Movie Lane.
16. Regarding Henry

In one of his best performances, Harrison Ford plays Henry Turner, a top notch lawyer who is selfish and cold in his personal life with his wife and daughter. He goes out for some cigarettes and when displaying his trademark self-centeredness to a convenience store thief, Henry gets shot in the head. As Henry begins to struggle through recovery we see that his personality has undergone a distinct change. He is now human and humane although also slow mentally. Watching him unravel the mystery of why he always paints Ritz crackers as well as adjust to where he does and doesn't fit in at home and at the office are the heart of the story as we also reflect upon true humanity and how the truth often comes in ways we don't expect.

Gone Graduatin'!

Well, Hannah is anyway, and the rest of us are going along to see the deed done in style.

A few regular "features" will be popping up here today but I'll be out ... so play nice!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

This Just In: Anne Rice is as Important as She Thinks She Is

A few years ago author Anne Rice returned to Catholicism. Now, in the last week or two news has come that she's backing out of Christianity altogether ... well, except for Christ.

Yeah, I didn't think it was that big a deal either so didn't comment, although of the many bloggers who mentioned it, I think that Brandywine Books said it most succinctly.

However, for our reading pleasure, a la The Onion's brand of satire, Carl Olson at Insight Scoop writes a side-splitter of an article about the consequences of Rice's actions. Here's the beginning to get you started. (Via The Daily Kraken.)
ROME, AUGUST 10, 2010 (WYT) — A growing number of anonymous Vatican officials are confirming the shocking news that the Catholic Church will be shutting its doors worldwide within the next few weeks. The worldwide institution, allegedly founded by an obscure Jewish carpenter in the first century, will cease to exist completely, a move that could affect the lives of thousands, even millions, of people.

Although the reasons for this surprising action are many and complex, several insiders are pointing to Anne Rice's recent Facebook announcement that she is leaving Christianity as a crucial factor. "The Pope realized, after reading Ms. Rice's powerful statements online, that the game was up," admitted one high-ranking Cardinal, who insists that although the news will likely upset many Catholics, most people should have seen it coming.

"Look, let's be honest," he says, sitting in his office, wearing a polo shirt and drinking a martini, "Rice called our bluff. For centuries we thought it was enough to say, 'Believe in Christ. Come to Church. Be good. Do what you're told.' But when Rice wrote that she was remaining committed to Christ while no longer being part of Christianity..." He took a long drink and stared wistfully at a signed picture of Pope John Paul II on his wall. "...that was powerful. None of us here had ever heard of or considered such a thing."

He acknowledged that the Vatican public relations machine had once again made a major error in how it addressed—or didn't address—Ms. Rice's explosive remarks, which have been viewed by thousands of people. "It's ironic, I suppose," he said, "that a Church that essentially established and saved Western civilization, founded the first universities, help bring about modern science, produced the greatest art and music know to mankind, built hospitals and orphanages around the world, and helped save the souls of countless millions has been unable to respond to accusations of being homophobic, misogynist, narrow-minded, hateful, bigoted, and lousy at writing hymns in a folk-rock style." He paused as if trying to decide whether or not to make another martini. "I know some die-hard believers will say, 'Hey, what about Augustine and Thomas Aquinas and Leo XII? What about the libraries filled with books of philosophy, theology, philosophy, and more? Well, really, who's paying attention to that these days?" ...

He can speak French ... in Russian

After yesterday's spirited conversation about the Old Spice Man, I turn to a fully clothed and also charming fellow ... The Most Interesting Man in the World.



Dos Equis is not as good at using all social media as Old Spice. For one thing they are missing the boat on having a YouTube channel (at least that I could fine). However, they definitely are as good at knowing an excellent ad campaign when they see it. This also makes me think of some of the great campaigns from the 1960's and 70's.

A Movie You Might Have Missed: 15

Football and Texas is our next stop on the movie trail through little known movies.
15. Friday Night Lights


Texas, football, Billy Bob Thornton ... 'nuff said.

Well, maybe that's not enough for most people so I will 'splain.

Thornton is the coach of the Odessa, Texas, football team during a season where they have a shot at the championship. The locals are football crazy, especially as their economy has seen better days and this is their one outlet and hope for their children's futures. The fast, gritty, "real", jump-cut documentary-type style helps give a true sense-of-place. We see the coach's struggles on many levels as well as those of the players ... and it is a pretty accurate look at how Texans feel about football.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

In which Carruthers doubles back.

Carruthers is hot on the trail in the latest episode of The Riddle of the Sands at Forgotten Classics.

Well, What Do You Know ... the Old Spice Man is Just as Interesting When Clothed.

For the poor fellow who thinks that I would not find the Old Spice Man just as amusing if he were clothed, here is the evidence that, indeed I do. (Wish I could find that photo to post, but can't so just click through on the link.) Of course, I've always been partial to suspenders.

Look at the background for his Twitter page ... and do note the sense of whimsy in the geese flying across the tile.

Much thanks to Tom for this link. He finds the Old Spice Man just as amusing and clever as I do. Of course, he's been in advertising a long time ... and has a sense of perspective.

A Movie You Might Have Missed: 14

Yet another in our series of movies that are not known well enough.
14. How to Murder Your Wife


Tom and I both remembered this movie from our childhoods and it was even funnier than I remembered. Jack Lemmon is a cartoonist and the ultimate New York playboy who, in a drunken interlude at a bachelor's party, marries the girl who pops out of the cake. She disappears after he has fantasized about killing her in his comic strip and he soon finds himself on trial for murder.

The movie not only satirizes the proverbial "battle of the sexes" a la 1965 but the stereotypes of many other things as well. It is, literally, laugh out loud funny. A special pleasure is Terry Thomas as Lemmon's valet who is entirely too bloodthirsty for comfort at the idea of murdering Lemmon's wife.

Can We Get Enough of the Old Spice Man? I Think Not.

Though coming late to the party, I must thank Joi and Rose for pushing me to view more of this brilliant campaign that should stand as a lesson for those who want to fully take advantage of viral marketing.

Having the Old Spice man respond to internet comments about him is thoroughly enjoyable. Especially in this series, begun here, which carried on for several more responses to Alyssa.



See further responses to Alyssa: #2, #3,and #4.

Celebrities are not immune either as we can see from this response to Demi Moore.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Meme Mutation

Ever wonder where those memes come from which seem to whirl around the blogosphere like leaves in a tornado and then suddenly ... disappear?

So was Mac at Mulier Fortis who began a meme and then tracked it, and the rule mutations, as it went its merry way. Very interesting!

Congratulations to The Anchoress!

She has a weekly column at First Things ... and they will be the richer for featuring her work. Not that they are not good already, but The Anchoress, a.k.a. Elizabeth Scalia, has a way of putting her finger on an issue and then talking about it in down-to-earth terms that still inspire us.

Check out her first piece, Love, Limits, and Loss. It is about a subject that I have been pondering for several weeks since I first saw it mentioned at her place. Likely I will eventually write something, but The Anchoress comes at this from a unique point of view with which I completely agree.

Cultivated Randomness ... If Only It Were Cultivated, Instead of Simply Random!

Why didn't you tell me about this wondrous site before. The cultivated randomness (books, art, movies, Arrested Development quotes in the sidebar); the contented and (yes, obviously) happy appreciation of so many thousands of wonderful things Catholic and otherwise.
There is nothing so flattering as receiving an email saying that you have been named blog of the week. Thank you, Margaret!

Equally as wonderful is finding that the "award-er" (is that a word? i have confuzzled myself) is a kindred spirit in both interesting randomness and also in the inability to just have one blog. She has four. Yep. Count' em - four:
  1. Ten Thousand Places
  2. Empty Jar
  3. Little Lamb Books
  4. The Magdalen Sisters
Looking through them I find that she and I are surely kindred spirits on  several levels. What a treat to discover these spots. Swing by and take a look for yourself.

Thank you, again Margaret!

A Movie You Might Have Missed: 13

Continuing our journey through pleasures found in less famous movies, we now encounter Woody Allen in very good form indeed.
13. Bullets Over Broadway

A struggling playwright (John Cusak) is forced to cast a gangster's moll in the star part of his play in order to get it produced in the Roaring 20's New York. The moll is talentless and the playwright soon discovers that one of her assigned bodyguards has more writing talent than he does. Cusak's character soon falls for an aging diva whose attentions just add to the confusion.

A light, slapstick piece, this is one of Woody Allen's best films, perhaps because he isn't in it. It also raises good questions about the artist's debt to the creative muse and the price one pays to create.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Movie You Might Have Missed: 12

If you haven't ever encountered Wallace and Gromit before then you are in for a treat. If you have, then you know the delight of exploring the latest entry in our continuation of exploring these lesser known movies.
12. Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Anyone who enjoyed the Wallace and Gromit shorts will enjoy this. Their British sense of humor and timing ... so funny.

Billed as "the world's first vegetarian horror movie," this finds Wallace and Gromit running a pest control service to help the villagers who want to grow prize-winning produce for their annual vegetable competition.

Loaded with ingenious Rube Goldberg inventions, spoofs of old monster movies and classic movies, and their trademark sight gags, this is a treasure for all ages.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Zombie Survival Guide. Starting Your Car.


And anyone who has seen Zombieland knows how important that can be!

Thanks to Tom for the heads up on this; he knows more about running from zombies than most ...

Friday, August 6, 2010

OSV's Catholic Guide to the Internet — Readers' choice edition

This is a wonderful resource.

Also, I am made very happy by The Anchoress's generous recommendation of Happy Catholic.
This is another soul-stirrer. The site is run by a woman who seems to breathe in books and art, and she has a remarkable capacity for zeroing in on one sentence and bringing it to the fore, for the benefit of many. The site has pop culture, jokes, thoughtful meditations, cues to prayer — it is a dynamic portrait of a life lived — Happily Catholic.
I am looking around to see where that woman is she mentioned ...

I am also surprised by the fact that no one mentioned The Anchoress herself. I am not a fan of political considerations but no one presents them with greater clarity or charity than she does. More than that, I find great inspiration in her meditations upon faith and how to live it. Great inspiration indeed.

A Movie You Might Have Missed: 11

Continuing our look at lesser known movies worth seeing.
11. Payback

Porter knows his worth. $70,000. That is the amount that his erstwhile partner, who now works for the syndicate, stole after double crossing and leaving him for dead. And that is the amount Porter wants back. No more, no less. He will do whatever it takes to get it.

So begins the grittiest movie I have ever seen Mel Gibson in. Porter is the anti-heroes "hero" so to speak, a guy who has only one goal and only one redeeming quality, which is his love for Rosie, the requisite hooker with a heart of gold. I suppose he actually could have two redeeming qualities, the second being his stubborn determination to take only the money that was stolen from him. (My full review here.)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

In which Carruthers shows his skill at riposte.

Episode 129 of Forgotten Classics, featuring The Riddle of the Sands, is ready ... get it while it's hot!

Wait, it's August. It's always hot.

Oh well. Get it now!

A Little Bit of Flannery ... and her sense of humor

How can you not grow to like someone who tells a story like this with such humor?
... Dear old Van Wyke insisted that I read a story at which horror-stricken looks appeared on the faces of both Caroline and Sue. "Read the shortest one!" they both screamed. I read "A Good Man is Hard to Find" and Mr. Brooks later remarked to Miss Jenkins that it was a shame someone with so much talent should look upon life as a horror story. Malcolm was very polite and asked me if I had a wooden leg.

A Movie You Might Have Missed: 10

Be still my heart. Do not miss this classic with which we continue yesterday's list.
10. Double Indemnity

A famous film that I, nevertheless, have to beat people over the head to watch. The screenplay is by director Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler and the dialogue crackles with iconic film noir style.

Fred MacMurray is the insurance salesman who comes up with the perfect murder scheme to rid femme fatale Barbara Stanwyck of her husband's annoying presence. Edward G. Robinson is MacMurray's boss, a wily insurance investigator who feels that things don't quite add up. Told in flash-back, the film still maintains dramatic tension the entire time. Ironically, all three stars did not want to do the film. MacMurray and Stanwyck because they were cast against type as evil. Robinson because he was not the main star ... yet he carries the film at the end as his line sums up the movie perfectly.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Should your man smell like an Old Spice man?








Lord, have mercy, yes!

We saw this commercial in the theater before Inception. Rarely have I laughed so hard or been so appreciative of an ad.

I haven't watched all of them yet, but was reminded of this one when at Scripture study our priest mentioned advertisements that make you want to be one of the beautiful people. Gee, I wonder why this one came to mind? :-D

I will be perusing more at their "awesome smelling website." Yes, they suddenly got a sense of humor.

Just in case mountain climbing isn't thrill enough ...

... Matt Cutts is going to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. In the comments, someone pointed to this as his possible next adventure.

Just watching it is adventure enough for me. It is breathtaking and beautiful. (Thanks to Tom for this one.)

40% Off Sale at Aquinas and More

Starting today and going through the rest of the month Aquinas and More is having a 40% off inventory reduction sale.

You know you're from Texas when ...

... a new sidebar feature. Because I realized that I am actually living the statements about hot weather.

Now that it's routinely over 100 degrees.

Routinely meaning: every. single. day.

106 yesterday ... so I'm just sayin' that I now have hit that time of year when I put ice cubes in the "cold" tap water I am using to wash lettuce. Because we don't want it to wilt, do we? Otherwise, it would. Oh, it would.

Of course, there is more to being from Texas than that. But you will all understand why I'm relating to the hot weather stuff.

A Movie You Might Have Missed: 9

Continuing our list from yesterday, we now come upon a particular favorite of mine (I told you that these weren't in any particular order).
9. King Kong (1933)

Reject all imitations. The original King Kong is one of my all-time favorite movies and a true classic in its own right. It is a simple story: intrepid filmmaker, Carl Denham, leads an expedition to Skull Island where they discover a 50-foot gorilla who becomes enamored of Ann Darrow (Fay Wray). He is captured and brought back to New York City as the "8th wonder of the world" where he inevitably runs wild with Ann clutched in one hand and meets his death atop the Empire State Building. The skill of the movie makers is such that it is still thoroughly enjoyable some 70 years later. Fay Wray has a scream that could stop a freight train; you could hear it over practically anything that the movie threw at it. The animation was star quality at the time and you soon discover that it is not the animation but the story that carries a movie. (My review is here.)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Movie You Might Have Missed: 8

Continuing our journey from yesterday.
8. Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang

A film that mocks film noir cliches while at the same time being a very satisfying mystery/action/buddy noir-ish film in its own right. Robert Downey Jr. is a small-time thief who stumbles into an acting audition when on the lam from the cops. He aces the audition and is sent to Hollywood where he soon finds himself neck-deep in a murder mystery involving his childhood sweetheart. While shadowing detective Val Kilmer to learn more about his acting role, Downey Jr. becomes heavily involved in a second mystery as well. Great fun, with fast-talking dialogue that will keep you on your toes. A nice companion piece to Brick; though completely different in feel, both movies mimic noir style while still standing on their own two legs.

A Little Bit of Flannery ... and How to See

More from The Habit of Being.
To Ben Griffith
4 May 1955

[...]

Occasionally I see the Georgia Review but not often; however, it would be very agreeable to me to see something written about my work for local consumption by somebody who knows something. Recently I talked in Macon (nobody had ever heard tell of me, of course) and it was announced in the paper the next day that I was a "writer of the realistic school." I presume the lady came to this conclusion from looking at the cover of the drugstore edition of Wise Blood. In a few weeks I am going to talk to some more ladies in Macon and I am going to clear up that detail. I am interested in making up a good case for distortion, as I am coming to believe it is the only way to make people see.
Flannery O'Connor, The Habit of Being

Oops!

I just discovered that in the conversion to the new template, a large portion of the blogroll didn't come over. I'm fixing that ... my apologies whose blogs got dropped off.

Dog Days of Summer Meme

Ironic Catholic tagged me with this which calls for me to name my five favorite devotions ... hmmm, devotions, let me think. I am not sure if these are all what one would call "devotions" but they are some of my favorite things.
My five favorite devotions:
  • The Sacred Heart of Jesus novena
  • Adoration (or just sitting in front of the tabernacle)
  • My Guardian Angel
  • Praying for the souls in Purgatory
  • The Holy Spirit prayer (Come Holy Spirit ...)
And I tag:

Monday, August 2, 2010

Rosary for Job Seekers

I always am interested in different meditations on the rosary mysteries. They help me stretch my point of view.

These from The Anchoress are particularly appropriate to these trying times.