Thursday, September 30, 2010

Aquinas and More's Clearance Sale Ends at Midnight

Great prices on Catholic books and gifts. Be there or be square.

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained: Expected Versus Surprise

"Throughout the world sounds one long cry from the heart of the artist, 'Give me the chance to do my very best.'"
Babette quotes Achille Papin, Babette's Feast
Sometimes the artist does their very best and the marketers manage to mess it up or never give it a chance. We know what this results in:
  • Hollywood sequel after sequel.
  • Prepackaged standard radio playlists.
  • Derivative tv shows.
  • Boring ads that never get a first glance, much less a second one. 
Of course, none of this lack of creativity is exactly new. That's why "you can't judge a book by its cover" is an old, old saying. It's still as true today as it was back in the day some frustrated author or reader came up with it.

Why?

Here's a key reason. More importantly, here's a solution.
Surprise! (or why unexpected creative works)

“Expected.” Attach the word to a creative campaign and you might as well roll up the sidewalk and go home. You’ll never get the results you’d like. When you tell your story the same way it’s been told a thousand times before, why would your audience take the time to listen? You haven’t given them any reason to.

But surprise them and they can’t help but pay attention. The Old Spice “Look at your Man” campaign is a recent example. Not only is the style and stream-of-consciousness of the script original, but it engages by stepping out of the stream here and there.

When creative concepts venture into the realm of the unexpected it can have a surprising effect on the marketer as well — fear. This is the moment when deep breaths are required. It’s important to combat marketing stage fright with logical reasoning. One has to wonder about the initial client reaction when the agency presented the Old Spice campaign.

After all, stepping out on a limb allows for the possibility that branch will break off and plummet into the void. But unexpectedness attracts eyeballs to your brand. Yes, this may be as terrifying as it is mesmerizing, but keep in mind that if your message is spot on – as it is in the Old Spice ads — those eyeballs will stop looking and start buying.
Expected.

Or, as Rose said to me yesterday upon hearing the resolution to a recent creative disagreement with this very subject at its center, "Lame."

Yep. Safe. But "lame."

Surprise doesn't have to be wacky or outrageous. It just has to show us something in a way we hadn't considered before. That's called ... right ... creativity.

OnMessage is a client of ours and when Tom saw this blog post he sent it my way. Spot on.

It's All Downhill from Here

Having just missed the middle of the week, beginning that slide to the weekend (yay!), here's a little Catholic (very Catholic) humor from The Crescat.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Grandma Snark is in the House Blogosphere

New blog Extra-ordinary Monkey Business gets snarky with ... what else ... liturgical abuse. I found this entry particularly diverting. Your milage may vary. Sadly, there is obviously no shortage of grist for Grandma's mill. Drop by and say hi to Grandma.

Here's my favorite.

Xenu's body thetans invade Catholic church


Children were reported to have run from the church, screaming in fear.

And Still More Book Reports

Finishing catching up on the most interesting things I've read lately.
  • Better Than Homemade by Carolyn Wyman: Extremely enjoyable little essays about the origins of such American staples as Instant Breakfast, Minute Maid, Wonder Bread, Velveeta. A quick read that takes us down memory lane to a time when we weren't guilt-wracked over what we ate ... well, except to want it to be more nutritious or technologically modern. Oh, those were the days.

  • The Trials of Rumpole by John Mortimer: I haven't picked these up for years but vastly enjoyed revisiting John Mortimer's turn of phrase which so eloquently draws a portrait of Rumpole and his trials both in court and in personal life. I had forgotten until rereading these that there are always two to three plots in each story, no small feat. The main trail, office politics, and home life all have a linked theme and yet each can stand on its own, often in a humorous way. If you haven't ever read one of the Rumpole books, then do give them a try. You needn't read them in order, although there is character development from book to book of friends and coworkers (and even of villains defended, like the Timson family). Hannah is reading the Rumpole books for the first time and working her way through the entire series, so we know they hold up well no matter your age.

  • Hamlet - Arkangel audio performance: Inspired by Chop Bard podcast, I checked this out of the library and was blown away listening to this excellent audio version of the play. Between the two resources of the podcast and audio performance I was on the edge of my seat and truly loved this play. (Read Thomas L. MacDonald's review of Arkangel Shakespeare.)

  • Roots of the Faith: From the Church Fathers to You by Mike Aquilina: I would do a full blown review of this but, thanks to David Scott, I actually sold it to Pittsburgh Catholic. It will not appear online so go buy one of their papers! Here's the quick version. Roots of the Faith 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 is highly practical and something we can use when coming up against those folks who think the Catholic Church has changed everything around from the way it was in the early days of the Church. An excellent book - highly recommended.

  • Through the Wall by Cleveland Moffett: A noted detective is getting ready to go to Brazil for an important job. He drops by Notre Dame where a young woman he never met says a few sentences to him that leave him pale and canceling his trip. A young woman, deeply in love, spurns her lover's marriage proposal because she loves him too much. A international celebrity is found mysteriously killed in a variation of the locked room mystery. All these events are connected and are set in 1909 Paris, where the atmosphere is romantic and mysterious and the art of detective investigation is very much to the fore in the story. This was on a list from Michael Grost's list for Mystery Scene magazine of classic mysteries that you should read but probably haven't. Here is a piece about this book which I believe was written in 1907. It is a locked room mystery, which I normally do not like, but the way the author slowly uncovers layers truth behind the mysterious situations is already very apparent. It has the effect of a book of one cliff-hanger after another and I am hooked. Final word: what a splendid plot and story telling. Truly this is the story of a master detective pitted against a master criminal, all wound around a tale of love and friendship. I got this from the library but I'd bet it is available free at Project Gutenberg. I plan on  reading this on Forgotten Classics.

  • Carnacki: The Ghost Finder by William Hope Hodgson: Whenever Carnacki finishes a tough case of tracking down the supernatural he calls together his three friends to have dinner at their London club and tells them the story. Sometimes he discovers the supernatural, sometimes a hoax, and occasionally an intriguing mix of the two. Thus we get seven fine ghost tales from William Hope Hodgson who is better known for The House on the Border Land, which I have never read, but surely shall someday. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which I picked up from Amazon for free and read on the Kindle. I would look at Project Gutenberg for it as a free public-domain book if you can't find it anywhere.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Better Privacy: Find Those Cookies and Delete Them

BetterPrivacy is a Firefox addon that is able to delete a special kind of cookies: Local Shared Objects in short LSO's which are placed on your computer by a Flash plugin.

This has been a topic of interest to me ever since I heard Dan Carlin's podcast about the 4th amendment and the way we live today.

What I especially liked was that his comments about the way to control tracking of our personal info (just ask them to let us edit it the way that Amazon does with our preferences) showed a high degree of common sense. His commentary was sparked by the article The Government Can Use GPS to Track Your Moves.  At the time he pointed out that no political leaders were speaking up on this ruling ... although it looks as if that is not the case now.
The Obama administration has urged a federal appeals court to allow the government, without a court warrant, to affix GPS devices on suspects' vehicles to track their every move.
Read more at Wired
Gee. I'd rather have them not speaking up than going for the Big Brother option.

Anyway, that is what made me interested in the BetterPrivacy addon. I can keep the cookies I want, and dump those I don't. Most importantly, I can find them.

Book Reports

A bit more about what I've been reading in the last month or two. Just highlighting the good stuff. (You can find all the books I've read this year ... and more ... at Goodreads which I like quite a bit for keeping track of such things).
  • Jane Eyre: Looking for some fiction, my eyes fell on Jane Eyre and I realized just how long it had been since I read it. You tend to remember the big events of a favorite book but rereading has reminded me of just how many small things get lost in memory. This book is truly delightfully and subtly written, for all the over-the-top elements it contains. And just how could I have forgotten the old gypsy? It was even more wonderful than I remembered. This has everything ... true love, sacrifice, redemption, steadfastness ... and that crazy cousin who Jane may have understood and admired but I certainly couldn't. Talk about giving me someone to hate. Oy veh! If you haven't read Jane Eyre for a while (or ever), just go get it.

  • One Door Away from Heaven by Dean Koontz: UFOs, aliens, an empathetic dog, a crippled girl, and a host of supporting characters overcoming past traumas to reach out to others all are combined by Dean Koontz in a book that is the most compelling statement I have ever seen made about the right to life, no matter what one's condition. As always with his novels, few things are what they seem.Two basic plots run parallel before their heroes find themselves coming together to fight off a very evil villain. "What is one door away from heaven," is a question that one character has asked another since her childhood. The answer, along with the overall theme of the book, is enough to make us all examine our lives more carefully ... and be thankful that Koontz's writing reflects his beliefs so honestly. A favorite for rereading and that's what I'm did ... reread it and it held up beautifully.

  • The Case of the Missing Servant (Vish Puri #1) by Tarquin Hall: I learned about this series from Mystery Scene magazine. A judiciously quirky Indian detective (meaning realistic) and his operatives are highlighted, as well as his Mummy who sets out to solve a  mystery that her son does not take seriously. This was an enjoyable "cozy" sort of mystery, like a trip to India, and also somewhat frustrating as I have to look up many of the native words in the glossary in the back of the book. I understand if a word requires complex descriptions, as do some of the common terms. For example could not the author simply have used the native word for gardener and then put "gardener" in parentheses? Yes, I am just that lazy, or possibly there are just that many native words used in this book. Ultimately, this was a classic mystery in many ways and yet it still managed to fool me. Extremely well done and gave a bird's-eye view of India without needing tons of info-dumps. Highly recommended. (P.S. I am a big fan of his Mummy.)

  • The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing (Vish Puri, #2) by Tarquin Hall: I enjoyed the first in this series so much that I was delighted to find the second book had just come out. A few chapters in, there is the main mystery in which a professional skeptic who exposes fraudulent, famous gurus is apparently murdered by a manifestation of Kali, in full view of a group of friends. Then there is the sub-mystery which Vish Puri's Mummy is investigating and taking Vish's wife, Rumpi, along for the ride. I love the Punjabi characters and see that the author says that one could say Punjabis are the Texans of India. No wonder I like them! All the characterizations were very enjoyable as were the insights into Indian life. However, if the author is going to continually use native terms then they should all be included in the glossary. I don't have the first book available for comparison, but I feel that the glossary was much more complete than in this second book, where sometimes there would be a sentence with no translation following and which was not in the glossary either. Now, the argument can be made that there was context, and so there was, but one could make that argument for many of the terms that were in the glossary. I felt the main mystery was unnecessarily complicated. I understand that Vish Puri explores the big mysteries but this felt rushed and with too much crammed into it ... still recommended, I just didn't enjoy it quite as much as the first book. I will still look for the third book when it comes out though.
  • Sweet and Low by Emma Lathen: John Putnam Thatcher, Wall Street senior vice president at The Sloan (one of the largest banks in the world), has been named as a trustee on the Dreyer's Chocolate charitable board. Think "Hershey's" and you'll get a good idea of Dreyer's power and money. Early in the series of meetings, a cocoa buyer is found murdered in the hotel pool. Luckily Thatcher's long experience on Wall Street means he has a deep experience of that always-present commodity, human nature. Only Emma Lathen could make Wall Street riveting as happened in every one of her mysteries (yes, I know the author's name was a pseudonym for two cowriters ... don't care). Written with understated humor, these books are a joy to read and reread, which is what I did, being a big fan of the Lathen mysteries. It is too bad that so few people seem to have heard of Emma Lathen these days.

Cheating The Habit of Being

Is that a great title or what?

And, it works in so many ways in Elizabeth Scalia's (The Anchoress) latest at First Things. Here's a taste and then you can go enjoy it all.
This sister gave an example: “When we were in our habits, a fellow with an Italian ice barrow would always insist on giving us free ices, but why should he? Why shouldn’t we pay like anyone else? Why should we deprive him of his living because we were in a costume?”

[...]

Sister was operating under a willful delusion; she justified forsaking the habit with appeals to solidarity, compassion, and humility, but her story illustrated egoism and presumption. She bemoaned a possibility of cheating a man out of his wages. In fact, she wascheating that man, but not in the way she imagined.

The ice-barrow man was not giving sister a free ice because she wore a habit, but because a man who revered (or at least respected) God saw an opportunity to demonstrate his regard in a little way that St. Therese might have applauded.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Reviewing "Let the Right One In": A Study of Evil

Oskar is a lonely and bullied 12-year-old. Eli is the 12-year-old girl who moves into the apartment next door. They form a friendship over puzzles and Morse code. Except that, as Eli tells Oskar, she is not a girl. He must discover for himself that those puzzling words mean she is a vampire. Naturally, one cannot have a vampire in the neighborhood without missing people and murders, which leads to an interesting and telling sideplot about someone who is attacked but lives through it.

This is a Swedish vampire movie and, as such, is somehow completely Swedish with contemplative photography, neutral colors, and the square, Ikea-ish buildings. It is also somehow completely a vampire movie in the truest sense of the word with evil dominating everything once Eli shows up. That evil is expressed through gore that is also somehow completely in line with a Swedish movie because we are as distanced as it is possible to be from it. Much more immediate is the bullying that Oskar must endure, which is an interesting contrast to the unworldly vampirish sort.

At one point we had to pause the movie for some reason and I told Tom that this was not the "great movie" I had seen praised by so many. He said, "Well you can look forward to the American remake. They'll probably have an explosion or two to liven it up." I had to laugh ruefully. How true.

However, our appreciation of this film grew greatly through reflection and conversation as we put together the puzzle pieces more completely. In fact, I am now going to be curious to see the American remake because we all wonder if the Americans will not somehow find it irresistible to muddy the moral message.

It is definitely worth seeing for the artistry and for the unflinching examination of evil, our attraction to it, our own muddling of what we know to be right and wrong in order to grasp what we find attractive, and the fact that we have the power to turn evil away or invite it into our lives. Oh, and for the cats scene in the apartment. Definitely for the cats scene. Never have cats been so ennobled in the fight against evil.

Caution for viewers: Rated R. There is, of course, vampire induced gore and violence. As well, there is a one second flash of nudity (Eli's genitals). Scott Nehring at Good News Film Reviews rightly points out that this is child porn. However, and this is a big however, the moment when this happens is well telegraphed. We know Oskar is going to look ... and with that warning ... we can not look. I avoided plenty of this movie's vampire violence in that way and wish I had done so for that moment of nudity. Having read Scott's comment, however, I was curious though wary about exactly what he meant. He's right. It adds nothing except some disgust. Do what I say, not what I do. Don't look.

Further reflections upon the message ... with POSSIBLE SPOILERS
(I have tried to do this without spoilers, but for those who want absolutely no clue about the story then this is something to skip.)

Unbelievably, I have seen this called a tender and pure love story. That is far from the case, if we are seeing it clearly and sorting out all the evidence that we are given right up to the very end of the film.

It can be difficult to sort out the evil and our feelings because we see that 12-year-old girl and want to find some redemptive value in the friendship she has with Oskar. Again and again we are shown her monsterish habits and yet somehow still shake them off because they come in the sympathetic guise of a pretty young girl. This leaves us turning against what our brains tell us to be true as we watch victims lured to their end and instead relating to Oskar, who is at best emotionally stunted since he wants not just relief from the bullies but the ultimate revenge which he is too weak and afraid to exact.

At the end of the movie, we are left with the contrast between the actions of the attack victim who could tell what she was becoming, the fate of Eli's original companion, and the deliberate luring (some might say wooing) of Oskar. In considering the fate of Eli's original companion, we see what Oskar's fate is. That fate is not any semblance of love. It is the result of cooperating with pure evil.

So An Existentialist, Two Atheists, and a Catholic Walk Into a Podcast ...

... to talk about Mindswap at SFFaudio. Which I still think should have been called "Bodyswap." AND which I did not pick up on as being existentialist. No wonder the last third of the book made no sense whatsoever.

Hey, I call it like I see it. But it did lead to some interesting conversation. Especially when we began discussing whether the universe has meaning and what is truth.

Oh yes. Interesting as in "may you live in interesting times."

And yet we could all have a drink together later. If we lived close enough to each other to do that, that is.

So Very Quotable

I like Mike  Flynn's books ... just as much as I enjoy reading his blog, which is not at all about his books (most of the time anyway). Here's a sample of why.
Quote of the Day:

"Isn't it great to live in a society where the penalty for lying to a congressman can be up to 30 years in jail, but the penalty for a congressman lying to you is another two years in office."
-- Peter Schmuck, Baltimore Sun sports writer, concerning the indictment of Roger Clemens

Bonus Quote of the Day:

“Any entity – no matter how many tentacles it has – has a soul.”
— Guy Consolmagno, one of the Vatican’s astronomers, on whether he would baptize an alien.
 
It's a Good Thing He Ain't Bush:

The Obama administration has urged a federal appeals court to allow the government, without a court warrant, to affix GPS devices on suspects' vehicles to track their every move.
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/09/public-privacy/

Quick Updates

Not Always Happy ... Again: well, this is going to have to be chalked up in the "lose one" column. Durn it. In a kind of funny way, that is possibly how those I have been dealing with may halfway view it also. Although I understand that in this issue I am under their authority (like St. Francis or St. Teresa with the Church ... now if I only had their saintly qualities also) and so must obey, I also am powered by the force of my convictions (yes, stubborn like them too) and undoubtedly am causing cringing every time my email is popping into various inboxes. I'm not wanting to be a pest. I just believe that everyone doesn't really understand all sides of this issue. Ahem... So moving on ...

In Non-Kindle Related News: about Zapp, Hannah's foundling mostly German Shepherd puppy who was so hostile to other dogs. In an astounding display of adaptability and exhibition that pack behavior is, indeed, the norm, this little guy is now out from behind the dog gate and happily mingling with everyone. He and Zoe especially delight in each other's company and run and play with abandon. All three of us marvel that just three weeks ago, he wouldn't look at a human being and tried to tear the face off of any dog nearby. Seriously. Just three weeks ago.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Not Always Happy ... Again

The Crescat notes about herself, "the more I aggressively take charge of a situation the more out of control it becomes."

This is not always my experience, but her solution does echo something I am glad that I have recourse to.


In a current "no matter what the problem is, it's always a people problem" portion of my life ... you know, the one where people discover that Happy Catholic is much nicer on the blog than in real life ... I must say that everything goes better with prayer.

No miracle has happened. No angels are singing (that I can hear, anyway). But it has been of great comfort to me that I am able to turn to God in prayer. To pray for those pesky people who do not agree with me. To hope that they are likewise praying for me in turn. To also hope that all of us may be turning to God to ask what He wants in this situation. To ask what resolution would serve His plan best.

Yes, that's a comfort.

As I say, it hasn't solved the problem. That is what we are here to do. To listen to each other, to hammer out a solution, and maybe to grow personally while doing so.

It doesn't mean I won't have to give up my passionately held position. I may have to do so. That's life. And a little piece of me will die when I do, if that's how it works out. That's also life.

You win some. You lose some.

You try to be gracious, whichever happens.

And you remember that these everyday moments, the ones that turn us to God, are blessed no matter how we feel about them. Because anything that pulls us one step closer to God, during which we try to align ourselves to His will instead of our own ... well, that is a blessing.

Making one more reason that I'm always so happy to be Catholic.

In which a young woman on a night drive is faced with a life-or-death choice.

A break and a short story, Night Drive, at Forgotten Classics.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Star Trek? Zombies? There's a Book for That.

Night of the Living Trekkies



Book? I want that movie! (Rightly rated QB for Quasi-Silly But Awesome.)

Via SFFaudio, where so many good things turn up first.

Happy to Be ... Part of the Good News Film Reviews Team

Julie ... has strong opinions and freely distributes them for all to hear...
You can see that Scott Nehring knows me well and yet still invited me to be part of Good News Film Reviews as he adds additional Christian voices to his mission of bringing a Christian perspective to film and culture.

Scott likewise has strong opinions which I completely respect, while somehow not completely agreeing with him often. That is not a common experience for me (maintaining respect, not the disagreeing ... we know I do that all too often) ... and shows that Scott is something out of the ordinary in the line of film critics. If you haven't been checking out Good News Film Reviews, then you definitely should.

Read all about the gang who forms the new Good News Film Reviews.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How do you top a review summary like this?

Short Review [for Harry Brown]: He's going down the road to Hell and he's keeping his blinker on the whole trip.
Scott Nehring at Good News Film Reviews ... you may love his reviews or hate them. But they ain't boring. That's for sure.

Surviving Infidelity

It was October 9, 2009 ... almost a year ago ... when we were astounded by this plea from Pansy, one of the Two Sleepy Mommies:
"My 36-year old husband has been cheating on me with a 22-year old girl. He is leaving us for her (we have been married 15 1/2 years and have seven children). If that isn't bad enough, he is home now and is berating me and telling me why it is all my fault. I found conversations between he and this girl where they laugh at me behind my back. I knew it was going on for some time, but I found the evidence and it all came to a head a few hours ago. I have to change my life in the next few hours practically, financially, deal with this emotionally and all the above and I don't know how I can take my next breath."
Almost a year later, we hear from Pansy again with much brighter news and a future full of hope.
As of now, we are surviving, we are building a new marriage and our old marriage is dead and gone. It's is withered and decayed and the new one is bright and filled with hope. As of right now, I love my husband more than I ever have. We are not merely "riding it out". Everything is new again. I place the "blame" on you, Dear People. When this broke, my husband was very lost. He will tell you he was in the darkest place he has ever been. He was evil or surrounded by evil, not sure. He was depressed, he obviously wasn't thinking straight and the more he made bad choices, the worse he felt, and in turn would make more bad choices. He was just piling more "spiritual muck" onto himself. As Mark Shea says "sin makes you stupid". So many men I see who take the route my husband have become literally unreachable under all that muck. When you all reached out and prayed, my husband will tell you it was around that time he started to wake up and come out the fog. This wasn't an immediate process and at first, he fought it, but it was a way for God to grab him and take hold and slowly start clearing that muck away. ...
Read Words Cannot Express My Gratitude where Pansy shares their experiences as well as some very good resources for sticking with a marriage and not giving up. (Via New Advent.)

Reviewing Secretariat: "He holds not back at the sound of the trumpet."

Do you give the horse his strength, and endow his neck with splendor?

Do you make the steed to quiver while his thunderous snorting spreads terror?

He jubilantly paws the plain and rushes in his might against the weapons.

He laughs at fear and cannot be deterred; he turns not back from the sword.

Around him rattles the quiver, flashes the spear and the javelin.

Frenzied and trembling he devours the ground; he holds not back at the sound of the trumpet,

but at each blast he cries, "Aha!" Even from afar he scents the battle, the roar of the chiefs and the shouting.
Job 39:19-25
These are the opening words of the movie, Secretariat. It is part of God's speech to Job when asking him where he was when God made the world. Unusual as it is to hear a long passage from the Bible quoted when showing us a racehorse glorying in running, it is nonetheless a perfect definition for the true story of Secretariat and his owner, Penny Chenery.

In 1969, Penny Chenery is a Colorado housewife and mother when she must take on the management of her ailing father's Virginia horse stables. Struggling to make ends meet, she hires veteran trainer Lucien Laurin (John Malkovich) who is haunted by past big losses. When a crucial decision must be made about which colt may become a winning racehorse she goes against conventional wisdom in what will become a pattern for the future. Using her hard won knowledge, innate sense of what is right, and stubborn determination to never give up, Penny Chenery makes great inroads into the male-dominated business.

There are inevitable strains on family and marriage as Chenery continually commutes and runs the business as well as being a wife and mother. These are not a large part of the movie but are nonetheless important subtext for what Chenery accomplishes, as is the parallel journey with a daughter who is discovering her true self. Although most of the attention is on Chenery's struggles, we also become well acquainted with that incredible horse, Secretariat, including his prodigious appetite, trademark late start from the gate, sheer joy in running, and endearing love of the limelight.

It is no secret that Secretariat won the Triple Crown in 1973, but just as in watching the movie Apollo 13, knowing the outcome in no way detracts from the tension when viewing this film. This is a true story that reads like a work of fiction with myriad unbelievable twists and turns. I remember watching the three races in which Secretariat ran and the truly amazing performance he gave at The Belmont, in the crowning victory. However, I had no idea of what was at stake or the road traveled to get there and this behind-the-scenes story was fascinating.

The overall message is that we must live life to the fullest, joyfully, and to strive with all that is in us to do our utmost. Emphasizing that message was the unashamed reference to religion in the movie. From the beginning when the book of Job is quoted at length, to joyous gospel songs at two crucial scenes, to the stable hand Eddie's comments about lifting each other up, there is a definite subtext of faith which is as rare these days as it is welcome. This is skillfully done without ever clubbing the viewer over the head, which is also welcome.

This is not a perfect movie. The missteps seemed to always be in a desire to "help" the audience understand the movie better. I am not sure whether it was the director or studio who felt that the audience wouldn't understand the speed and power of the horses in some of the close racing scenes without using modern editing techniques (removing frames perhaps?) to make the motion seem faster. The overall effect, however, was to give us less to see of the very thing that they wanted to celebrate, namely the power and speed of these graceful animals and their riders as they compete. Reality, in this case, did not need enhancement. Likewise, when one of the daughters said her mother was "Awesome," I winced. Not in 1973. She'd have said her mother was cool or groovy. We get it. Stay in character. Conversely, the place where we could have used the help was in including a long shot of the end of the Belmont race, where one really needs a visual demonstration to understand the enormity of just how that race turned out. However, these are relatively minor flaws and easily overlooked.

I was stunned when director Randall Wallace appeared at our preview screening. He spoke feelingly about his pride in making a family movie celebrating time honored virtues which anyone in America could watch. He can be rightly proud of this accomplishment in telling an incredible story in a captivating, inspirational way. As the movie began I was reminded of the movies that Disney used to make long ago. Toward the end, it had surpassed them in the richness of the storytelling.

The question on everyone's mind going into this movie is most probably, "How does it compare with Seabiscuit?" I can tell you that it would be like comparing apples and oranges. Both are enjoyable in their own ways. Seabiscuit was more of a period piece and multiple character study. This is a straight forward, inspirational movie of the same sort as The Blind Side. The actors are not called upon to stretch their talents in part because they are telling a straight forward story. The possible exception to this might be John Malkovich who, for a change, was not playing John Malkovich as is the trend lately. He turned in a charming and likable performance as the quirky, flamboyantly dressed, but overall normal trainer.

Highly recommended.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cursed: The Book Review

I am not going to make a list ... not going to make a list ... because
  1. everyone else has already done it
  2. I don't have the way with lists that Jeremy Shipp does
  3. I've got tons of list in my own life already
...

D'OH!

...

Nick and Cicely are friends. They also are cursed. Each person's curse is different and each curse is relatively minor, all things considered, yet each affects their lives in deeper ways that bring gloom and foreboding. They go to work to discover who has cursed them so they can try to lift the curse.

I read it in 2 days. I couldn't put it down. Not only was the writing compelling as I tore through it to find out who had set the curse, I also was increasing anxious and worried as I went because I was terrified that one of the characters I knew would be the perpetrator. Terrified? Yes, that is just how fond I became of Nick, Cicely, Gordon, Abby, and the others. Although I will pause here to say that Cicely's quirkiness was relentless and I felt relieved when she became anxious enough to drop it for a little while. The story did horrify me several times but without ever having to completely show me something horrible. He knew just how far to engage my imagination without rubbing my face in something horrific. That is a rare talent and surprisingly considerate of the reader.

Although Shipp has a talent for humorous writing and likable characters, he has a talent for something far deeper ... internal conflict wound around caring for others. We see this in Nick's thoughts and the others' actions. By the end of the books, we have seen people act on levels of sacrifice, redemption, and love that was almost ... I've got to say it, right? ... Catholic. I say "almost" because Shipp isn't Catholic, but he's got a groundedness in caring about the truth, reality, and the human person that is palpable.

Oh, and the lists? Nick thinks in lists and it becomes a habit that any reader soon wants to mimic. The amazing thing is how Shipp carries a lot of the action of the book through those lists.

Well done indeed.

So well done, in fact, that although I read the book in pdf form on my new Kindle (yes, you know, you know), I have put it on my Amazon wish list. I want it for reals ... in my own hands-on edition.

Novena to St. Michael the Archangel

Jason from Catholic Dads invites us to join them in beginning a novena to St. Michael.
September 29 is the feast day of Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel, and Saint Raphael, Archangels.

We invite all Catholic Dads to pray the Novena to St. Michael beginning on September 21. The last day of the Novena will then fall on the September 29 feast day.
I'm glad to be reminded of it. I have a special fondness for the archangels and angels in general, though of late I have forgotten when their feast day falls. So this is very timely.

I am posting the prayer below, for my own personal reference, but Catholic Dads will be posting it every day, if you swing by there.

Glorious St. Michael, guardian and defender of the Church of Jesus Christ,
come to the assistance of His followers,
against whom the powers of hell are Unchained.
Guard with special care our Holy Father, the Pope, and our bishops, priests,
all our religious and lay people, and especially the children.

St. Michael, watch over us during life,
defend us against the assaults of the demon,
and assist us especially at the hour of death.
Help us achieve the happiness of beholding God face to face for all eternity. Amen.

St. Michael, intercede for me with God in all my necessities, especially:

(state your specific request or intention here)

Obtain for me a favorable outcome in the matter I recommend to you.
Mighty prince of the heavenly host, and victor over rebellious spirits,
remember me for I am weak and sinful and so prone to pride and ambition.
Be for me, I pray, my powerful aid in temptation and difficulty,
and above all do not forsake me in my last struggle with the powers of evil.
Amen.

Monday, September 20, 2010

In Non-Kindle Related News ...

... Hannah, falling prey to that impulse which sooner or later evidently grabs every Vet Tech and forces them to adopt a stray, brought home a little German Shepherd mix puppy.

He's about 3-1/2 months old, very sweet, and evidently has lived a life without any socialization whatsoever out in the countryside. A week ago, when he was first brought in, he would just try to dig his way out through the corner of whatever room he was in when a person came by. By the time that Hannah brought him home (after first asking permission with her own puppy-dog eyes working overtime), he had adjusted enough so that he actually was enjoying petting. The second day she brought him home, he endearingly raced around the house with his tale wagging and head high, a doggy grin on his face. You could imagine him saying, "Back again! This heavenly place does exist!"

The only problem is that he is extremely aggressive to other dogs. I don't mean that he growls or shows his teeth, although he does those things quite well. I mean that he flies at the first dog he sees ready to tear their faces off.

Which quite took the Boxers aback, as you can imagine.

You could see the big question mark over Wash's head as he asked himself, "What is this guy's problem? Why won't he play?"

Zoe was better prepared through her tougher personality but even she flinched before stepping up with a growl and raised hackles. Even then, though, her tail was still wagging.

Gotta love those Boxers.

However, after just two evenings and the weekend with us shuffling dogs from area to area behind a dog gate or in crates, little Zapp (for Zapp Brannigan, don't you know) has made more huge leaps in adjusting.

He now will lie quietly a lot of the time, even sleeping with the other dogs nearby (all are suitably restrained, as I said). In fact, during a Boxers-in-crates session he deliberately went and laid next to Zoe's crate, before dozing off. Twice. She looked suitably nervous, but was amiable enough in simply keeping an eye on this crazy pup.

Yesterday, he went and took a nap next to the dog gate where Wash was lying on the other side.

So, he is giving us hope that he can be rehabilitated soon.

If only these positive signs weren't later punctuated by hostile outbursts we would all have calmer nerves. It is positively hilarious to see the much-larger Boxers stop for a second to gather their nerves before clinging to the furthest wall in order to walk by Zapp's crate. Which sometimes garners hostilities and sometimes doesn't.

And so we go ... it will be an interesting week, I am sure!

In which we finally finish The Riddle of the Sands!

I meant to cross-post this here last week ... Episode 134 is the epilogue of The Riddle of the Sands.

I thought (and said on the podcast) that we'd begin Genesis this week. But I'm feeling like something a little more spontaneous and ... short. I'll be reading a story that Jesse from SFFaudio sent me a while ago.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Who's Got a Nook? And Wants to Tell Us About It?

Or, for that matter, a Sony e-reader?

I'd be curious to hear what people love and hate about them ... as would Mack, whose idea this review request is.

Don't be shy. Speak up!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ok - The Kindle? It's Freakin' Awesome!

You know, when Thomas L. McDonald was talking about collections I had no idea that you could get 100+ Classic Mystery novels and stories for ... oh ... 3 bucks.

[Ahem ... apologies on that, Thomas ... ]

Not that I'm not going for free stuff.

But. Really. 3 bucks.

Eventually I will even settle down long enough to read something on it!

:-D

Ok, the next question.

Skin? Or case?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Personally, I Blame Jeremy C. Shipp For This


He very kindly send me a pdf of Fungus of the Heart. I said to myself, "It's short stories. I'll print them out one at a time."

If there is something I do not like, it is reading long pieces on the computer. Especially for entertainment. But I'm not going to turn down a book from an author just because of that.

Then, he extra kindly slipped me Cursed at the same time ... as a pdf.

The book whose review drew him to my attention in the first place.

Aaargh!

No problem. I could read it on the computer. Not that big a deal. Really. I'd manage. Bravely. (It goes without saying, though I thought I would point it out to you just in case you missed it.)

I told Tom about my good fortune in scoring those two books.

Who looked at me and said, "The new Kindle is only $139. And they have it at Target."

Really?

It turns out I can get to the nearest Target in five minutes.

They didn't have it. But Amazon is getting one to me by Friday. The dears.

So, actually it is Tom's fault. (That's enabling, right? I couldn't help myself.)

Although I thought I was disinterested in e-readers and every conversation I had about them made me feel disinterested ... obviously my sub-brain knew differently from the speed with which I responded. (Sub-brain ... you know. I think it's a Lovecraftian thing. Or maybe Edgar Rice Burroughs? Robert E. Howard? Anyway. I digress.)

At one point, I surfaced to sanity and said bravely, "You know, I could just buy the darned book for about seven bucks, now that I think of it. Just because I was given a free pdf is no reason to spend $139."

(Brave again. I know. I'm just like that.)


"I never thought of that," Tom said, but in a detached way. "Huh. Well, we're bound to have one eventually. The technology is headed in that direction."

"If you say so," and I sank back into the warm waters of E-reader/Gadget Instant Gratification, spending much of the evening perusing the artistic protective skins available.

I told you he was an enabler.

[I figured I'd wind up with some sort of e-reader sooner or later. After all, someone podcasting public domain books has to have access to Project Gutenberg's pdfs somehow. I've been printing out what I needed whenever it came up. Eventually I was going to run into something that was too big print out.

So, actually ... I blame the podcast. From the bottom of my sub-brain. ]

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

'Tis the Season ... for Books

Lately received in the mail ... I haven't read them but they look good so here they are with some of the blurbs.

Take Five: Meditations With John Henry Newman by Mike Aquilina and Fr. Juan Velez
Newman's journey to Catholicism is one of the greatest stories of the nineteenth century church. He relied on divine revelation together with logical reasoning and historical facts to reach religious truths and vigorously defend religious doctrines.

This book's brief, focused meditations will bring a similar clarity to your daily activities through John Henry Newman's deep Christian spirituality. Each topical entry begins with an excerpt from John Henry Newman's writings, followed by these helpful prompts:

---THINK ABOUT IT Points that serve as a springboard for prayerful consideration of each meditation topic.

---JUST IMAGINE A Scripture scene that brings the issue at hand to life.

---REMEMBER A simple memorization passage to help you work through the meditation topic.
Where There Is Love, There Is God: A Path to Closer Union with God and Greater Love for Others - Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa’s relationship with God and her commitment to those she served—the poorest of the poor—is here powerfully explored in her own words. Taken largely from her private lessons to her sisters, published here for the first time, Where There is Love, There is God unveils her extraordinary faith in and surrender to God’s will. This book is in some way a sequel to Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, in which her own very private spiritual struggles were explained. Sent to alleviate the sufferings of the poor, she assumed their struggles and pain in the depths of her heart. This led to particularly intense anguish which she lived through with heroic courage and fidelity over several decades. As important as this aspect of her life is, that remarkable testimony of her life and her words intensifies the need and desire to know more of her thought. There is much she can teach us as we face our daily struggles or sufferings, which can at times be unusually severe. Where There is Love, There is God, though not an exhaustive anthology of Mother Teresa’s teaching, nonetheless shows what she believed and taught about important issues that confront all people. Due to her constant interaction with people of diverse backgrounds, no life situation was foreign to her and in this book her role is primarily one of teacher and guide.
Paul: Tarsus to Redemption
Volume 2: Paul returns from years of solitude in the desert ready to begin his epic mission to Rome.
(This is part of that manga-style telling of Paul's story that I reviewed earlier.)

How to Get to "I Do": A Dating Guide for Catholic Women by Amy Bonaccorso
"Finding a man is just like finding a parking spot in New York City. It can be hard and take a while, but you can do it."—From Chapter One

Ten years of eye-opening experiences on the Christian dating scene equipped Amy Bonaccorso to offer hard-hitting advice that will help you get real, get practical, and get married. As a happily married woman, she knows what works (internet dating), what doesn't (living a nun-like existence), and gives you the confidence to date strategically with an eye toward marriage. Forget about Prince Charming—he doesn't exist—but plenty of good men are waiting for a woman like you to throw away the checklist of idealized mate material and settle down with a real man.

This practical and realistic guide for single Catholic women offers you an opportunity for self-assessment (if you want to make a good catch, be a good catch), and takes seriously the importance of marriage as a vocation to be pursued with as much energy as a call to the religious life.
Exercising Your Soul: Fifteen Minutes a Day to a Spiritual Life by Gary Jansen
EXERCISING YOUR SOUL, by Gary Jansen, is a spiritual fitness program, a guide to firming up faith that offers practical techniques to recharge and enhance relationships with yourself, with others, and, most important, with God. Drawing on spiritual practices from Christian traditions, the prayers and exercises in this book are powerful ways of experiencing God in day-to-day life. Jansen brings to life each of the practices he suggests as he shares his own growth through the disciplines.

With beautifully told, modern-day parables and stories, EXERCISING YOUR SOUL makes complicated concepts simple and exquisite. The antithesis of a self-help book, it is rather a "God-help book," one that places God at the center of all things and can transform lives forever.
Also, coming my way, so I am told:
  • The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II -- The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy by George Weigel
  • Fungus of the Heart by Jeremy C. Shipp
  • Who is Jesus Christ? Unlocking the Mystery in the Gospel of Matthew by Eric Sammons

Monday, September 13, 2010

At Least I Had the Pleasure of Watching the Philadelphia Eagles Lose

Since later I watched the Dallas Cowboys go down.

At the hands of the Washington Redskins?

No, if only.

The Cowboys decided to repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot. Repeatedly.

I mean to say. 4 seconds left in the first half, you're at the other end of the field, and you pull that little bobble? Oy veh! Y'all deserved that pick from the Redskins.

Guys. In that situation either go for the Hail Mary or take a knee.

I'm beggin' ya!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Okra, Three Ways: Pickled, Stir-Fried, and Gumbo-ed

I think I forgot to let everyone over here know that there are some mighty fine looking okra recipes over at Meanwhile, Back in the Kitchen.

Up There

An homage to the craftsmen who paint billboards in New York. Up There is only 12 minutes long but is a wonderful look at a dying art.

I found this via Good News Film Reviews.

Be Still My Heart! "Wall Street Journal launching book review"

NEW YORK — The Wall Street Journal is set to launch a book review in the next few weeks, even as newspapers across the country cut back on book coverage.

The new weekly section will be the Journal's first one dedicated solely to reviews. It will complement an expanded Saturday edition set to appear this month.
I already look forward every week to the Saturday WSJ with the focus on books. This is just making my weekend better and better.

Via Brandywine Books where there is also rejoicing at the glad news.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It's All Downhill from Here

A little midweek humor ... from Kuriositas.

The Theoretical Physicist Gets a Reply

Burning the Koran. I'm Agin It. And So Is the Pope.

There are so many reasons that is a bad idea. Let's just begin with simple respect for other people. Oh, and freedom of religion. Etc.

Anyway, Whispers in the Loggia has the Vatican's reaction, which more eruditely (is that a word?) goes along those same lines.

I Dream of an Amazing Race ... to Heaven

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.
Hebrews 12:1-2
===========
Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win.

Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.

Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing.

No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Lately I have read several different bloggers musing about St. Paul's famous analogy to living the faith with running a race. The most recent was Roman Catholic Cop who likened it to a swim meet (which is where I found both the scriptural references that are quoted above).

I read all the reflections with interest but, truth to tell, I always have been just fine with the standard that St. Paul set out there. The runner is in the stadium, the witnesses (saints) cheering him on. I can almost see the runner's special buddies near the track, "Hey, grab this bottle of water ... you'll make it!"

However, through the strange medium of dreams, an analogy that I understand better came to mind a couple of days ago: The Amazing Race. Oddly enough the dreams themselves weren't of The Amazing Race, the only reality show that I am truly dedicated to, but somehow once I awoke it all came together in one instant. I just couldn't shake how well that image worked for me.

Pairs with relationships run the race together ... we have partners to work with in our friends, family, and all the people we know. The race goes on and on, with pit stops for food and rest ... life's challenges are interwoven with the plateaus where everything seems to be going well. Sometimes a challenge is easy and sometimes it makes people have to overcome their fears or work with those they dislike to reach a goal (yeah, that one's a no-brainer). Penalties, sometimes given by other teams, can slow you down and sometimes you are your own worst enemy when you ignore the instructions or hints right in front of you.

And at the end, teams jump on that mat at the pit stop to see what Phil tells them about their ranking ... just as we hope to see Jesus face to face and get good news.

Obviously, this isn't a perfect analogy. For me, though, it is the closest I've come yet to having a good overview of a life lived to try to reach Heaven. I've heard it called boot camp. I've heard it called a race or marathon or ... a swim meet. I can relate those examples but on just one level. Certainly, they don't excite my imagination. However, that Amazing Race comparison has really taken hold of my mind. I have been surprised at how often I've found myself thinking of it. And how it has revved me up overall.

Or maybe I'm just ready for TV season to begin.

I cannot tell a lie. I am, indeed, ready for the new shows.

But I will be watching The Amazing Race with a new focus.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Follow the Bouncing Ball

Have y'all been to the main Google page and seen the balls there?

I like swirling my cursor around and watching them go everywhere.

I know. Because I have nothing else to do, right?

StarShipSofa Becomes First Podcast to Win Hugo Award

And the winner is ...
Best Fanzine: StarShipSofa edited by Tony C. Smith
Congratulations Tony and gang! Long may the Sofa fly!

Two Super-Long Movies Eliciting Very Different Reactions


How do you take a desperate mission to reignite a dying sun which morphs into a horror slasher in space, and make the audience so detached that they almost don't care? Get Danny Boyle to direct Sunshine. If anyone needed any proof that Boyle is more interested in character than in story, this movie does it. It is just too bad that he didn't do more with the characters themselves since that's all we're left with. And, all of us would appreciate having had a few plotlines explained. For example, just how did a certain person wind up on the ship? Just a word or two was all we wanted. We would have taken it from there. It was absolutely beautifully shot and the soundtrack was gorgeous as well.

Wait, I just checked the time. This was not a super-long movie after all. It just felt like it.


Then we have Once Upon a Time in the West, that 3-hour epic Western about of a mysterious, harmonica-playing stranger who is on the track of a ruthless assassin. This winds up with Harmonica occasionally working with a wanted outlaw to help a beautiful widow save her land. Classic, right? Classic Sergio Leone, that is, right down to the Ennio Morricone soundtrack and the classic cast including Charles Bronson, Henry Fonda, and Jason Robards. It is quite a long film and has many lingering shots of stares (hence the illustrative photo above), which Tom thought could have been cut back on. It was long but I actually enjoyed the entire thing.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Project 2,996

Next Saturday will be September 11.

Project 2,996 is a tribute to the victims of 9/11.

On September 11, 2006, more than 3,000 bloggers joined together to remember the victims of 9/11 Each year we have honored them by remembering their lives, and not by remembering their murderers. This year the goal is to make sure that each victim has a tribute.
Through the first four years of Project 2996, every victim has been assigned, and each name has received at least one online tribute. However, with the malleable nature of the internet, many of those tributes have disappeared.

The list below is fluid. As I make my way through checking all the links from all the past years, more names will be added. And while people write new tributes and post them online names will be removed from this list.

The primary way to participate, and the best way to help, is to pick one of the names below. Then do some online research, and post a tribute to your own blog or website. In this way you will learn a little bit about one of the victims of 9/11, and you will help keep their memories alive.
If you want to participate, go here, pick out a name and help keep their memory alive.

I will be reposting Captain Daniel O'Callaghan's tribute on Saturday, but, of course, please feel free to check it out any time.

Labor Day Break

I'm takin' it off and will be back tomorrow! :-)

I would like to toss a prayer request out there for Tom who is suffering most dreadfully from a hacking cough which has gone on for about a month.

He's been to the doctor who finds nothing wrong, but no cough medicine seems to help and it gets much worse when he lies down (of course), so he is very short on sleep. He'll go back to the doctor tomorrow because this is practically unlivable.

Prayers for his relief from this, or for discovering what's up, would be most appreciated. Thanks!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Already Copied Into My Quote Journal

"I'll make no bones about it. Cap'n Silver worked us like black dogs on a hot day. We counted and spelled 'til we nearly dropped, brain-addled and weary."
From The Pirate's Guide to the First Grade review in The WSJ. Yes, I will be getting this from the library. It sounds too good to miss, no matter what age group is is written for.

Russell Kirk's Fiction

I believe I mentioned recently that I like Ten Thousand Places. I was responding to some bloggy love that Margaret Perry had given me there. However, since then I have been checking in regularly and I really like it. It is one of those places that always has a little something interesting and sometimes a big something to think about. It is the sort of blog that reminds me of ... well, not to put too fine a point on it ... Happy Catholic.

Anyway, that is all to encourage you to check it out. And it is a very long intro to pointing you to her clippings from around the blogosphere. I followed her lead to this First Things' article about Russell Kirk's all time bestsellers. I was interested because people love him but I have never read his nonfiction. Thought I'd get a tip.

Wrong.

Because his all-time bestsellers were fiction. Ghoooossssttt stories.

And that rang a bell. Because though I haven't read any of those books and will be looking for them at the library, I have read a piece of his fiction which I enjoyed thoroughly. It was chock-full of ghostly goodness, cult-ish craziness, and ... ummm ... lots of other creepiness.

I reviewed it about a year ago, as a matter of fact, and will save you the trouble of clicking through. Here it is. Read this. Then go pick up a great ghost story by Russell Kirk and enjoy.
Lord of the Hollow Dark by Russell Kirk
Mr. Apollinax gathers a group of 13 people together in a castle that was the scene of a horrific murder earlier in history. Known to each other only by pseudonyms taken from T.S. Eliot poems, the goal of this group is to experience a mystical "timeless moment." We see the story alternately through the eyes of innocent Marina who has brought her baby with her and hopes for a glimpse of God and through those of the lustful rapist Sweeny who has no thoughts but those of personal gain. The story is an interesting mix of horror, occult, and philosophy. This book irresistibly called to mind Edgar Allen Poe or perhaps H.P. Lovecraft, in that although the story was peopled with evil, twisted characters it is written in such a way that the reader does not actually become frightened. (Except at one point close to the end where I was surprised at how horrified and repelled I was by something a character said.) This leaves the reader free to appreciate the more philosophical aspects as well. It was written in a style that definitely reminded me of other 1970's vintage horror/occult books I had written which was a strange style of reminiscing. I'm not sure if I'll reread it but I do know that I couldn't put it down.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Why You Need to Know Your Faith

This in particular is about Hannah going yesterday for a checkup and being given a lecture by a young lady doctor about What Catholics Believe And Why It Is Wrong about contraception and other related teachings.

Hannah was able to say, "No" ..."Wrong." ... "The priest that said that was wrong." ... "Those deacons were wrong too." And so forth, without being yanked into this doctor's stream of misinformation.

In particular, if you are a doctor I am sure that ladies of any religious persuasion would appreciate you understanding what you are talking about if you decide to undertake a lecture upon what their faith teaches. If not, then please just keep it to the basics.

To do otherwise conveys not only your own lack of education but also gives the unflattering impression that you believe your patient lives with a sack over her head and has just removed it to step into your office. If you do this in a condescending tone, then you also are making yourself obnoxious to your patient who is at your mercy at that point. Is this really what you took the Hippocratic oath to do?

The "if you have any questions or change your mind about that then let me know ... " speech has never gone amiss.

If you are the patient, then "buyer beware."

If you know your faith then you can sort through what you are told "everyone knows" as well as avoiding being led into error by well intentioned doctors. Or indeed by anyone. (Yes, we are going to say "well-intentioned" because we are practicing charity in not attempting to read any obnoxious doctors' minds.)

For those interested, the basic answers about the issues upon which Hannah was being "instructed" are in the Catechism.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Quotable

Meaning that these are going into my quote journal ... oh, and if you want to click through and read the stories these came from, that won't hurt you a bit either.

We consider it peculiar that Muslims stop five times a day to offer prayers to Allah, yet we stop what we do five times an hour to pay homage to our e-mail.
Joe Carter at First Things, Unplugging the Info-Tech God
==============
Me? I like my Science Fiction hard and I like my SCIENCE easy.
Jesse Willis, SFFaudio
==========
Back in the summer — it already seems like a hundred years ago — my teenager went to one of those college programs which promise the motivated high-school student an entire liberal-arts education distilled to a two-week elixir. She had a great time and came back talking about Flannery O’Connor, which I’d been trying to get her to do for, oh, ever or so.

One night over dinner with her twenty-six new best friends, the talk turned to the subject of what everyone wanted to be when he or she grew up. The girls, one by one, announced that they wanted to be lawyers. One girl said she wanted to go into politics, maybe. A few other girls thought they’d like to do some corporate kind of job.

At last my daughter’s turn came. “Well,” she said, “I want to be a mom.”

There was a silence. Finally someone asked, “Then why are you here?”

“Because I think the basic unit of society ought to be educated,” my daughter said.
Sally Thomas, blogging for The Anchoress
==========
At Mass today, for example, the gospel reading is from Luke and begins like this,

Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.(Luke 4:16-17)

What the passage doesn't say, of course, is that He could possibly, on a different day of the week, or on a different day of the liturgical calendar, have been handed a scroll from Tobit, Judith, Sirach, Wisdom, Baruch, or 1 & 2 Maccabees. These books were in the scrolls too, when God walked upon the earth. I don't know for sure, but like I said, I'm not a biblical scholar. Which is why I rely, again, on the authority of the Church.

So the mechanic in me was left with only one question to consider. As a Christian, did I want to go along with a stripped version of the motor, the one missing a few parts, with all of the pitfalls associated with that, or go along with the original version of the motor; the one that has all of the original parts, all in the proper place.
Frank at Why I Am Catholic, Because I Love the Bible

And I've Gotten Another Review Book ...


Which looks super-inspirational ... here's some of the blurb.
.... It takes the reader into the lives of a celebrity couple, pro football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly and his wife, Jill, to reveal the Kelly family’s private struggle and how eight years with their severely disabled, terminally ill son, Hunter, unfolded in a redemptive and transforming manner. The light of Hunter’s love through his brief and silent life shone into the shadowed corners of Jill and Jim’s lives, resulting in Jill’s believing that Jesus Christ was authentic, her learning to forgive Jim for past indiscretions, and finally resulting in Jim’s seeking and finding God. Lessons gleaned from Hunter’s life and death, and Jim and Jill’s struggle to save their marriage during tumultuous times, make this a compelling and inspiring read.
I'll be talking more about this book, I'm sure!

And I've Been Talkin' ...

... (as always) at Forgotten Classics ... about The Riddle of the Sands: In which Carruthers becomes a man of action. And about Shakespeare.

I've Been Cookin' ...

Eggplant-Parmesan Crisps.