Friday, October 30, 2015

Blogging Around: The "Treats" Edition

Catholic Book of the Month Club

Sophia's Book-of-the-Month Club is our way of sharing with you the fundamental elements of the Catholic Faith at the lowest possible price - $15 per month. Every month we will send you one of our new releases, and we will even cover the costs of shipping for US mailing addresses.

Every month we will send you one of our new releases - each guaranteed to enkindle in you a love of the Church and a desire to grow in holiness and in love with Our Lord.
I saw this on the back of the latest Sophia Institute catalog and it seemed like such a good idea I wanted to be sure you knew about it.

Guillermo del Toro's Guide to Gothic Romance

To chime with the recent release of his creepy, goth thriller Crimson Peak, Guillermo has curated a syllabus of the Gothic and Gothic romance novels, short stories, and engravings that influenced the making of the film. He sent us these recommendations with the following words: “I hope you enjoy some of these as fall or winter reads by the fireplace.”
This piece from Rookie (via Scott Danielson) is right down my alley. I've had Uncle Silas on my mind since I've never read it and anyone who says Jane Eyre is his favorite novel is completely trustworthy. Plus he loves Dickens. 'Nuff said. Read this!

Good Summary of the Synod on the Family

The Synod of Bishops on the Family concludes and you don’t know what to think? Some media says one thing, other media says another. Or, you didn’t follow it at all and would like to know what took place, but don’t know where to start with the vast and various coverage. Well, a good place to start is going to the official source itself: the “Relatio finalis,” the final document published at the conclusion of three weeks of lively discussion and prayer. But it’s only in Italian?! Don’t let that deter you. Listen up on Catholic Bytes to discover just what the Synod taught, or better yet reaffirmed.
Good stuff. Both the podcast and this particular episode.

Merriam-Webster Word of the Day

Near the end of 2010, the Associated Press announced that its stylebook, used by many newspaper editors and writers, would now allow for the use of drive-thru instead of drive-through. At an editor's conference in 2014, there was an audible gasp in the room when this was mentioned (never mind that it was a few years old): the decline of English in action!

Hardly. The spelling of through has gone through a number of changes since it first appeared in English around 700 AD: acquiring an o, moving the r around a bit, claiming a g, dropping each of these things willy-nilly. In fact, the spelling thru predates through by over 100 years. Why?
I have been really enjoying the daily emails from Merriam-Webster which usually manage to interest me in an unexpected way. Sometimes with bonus links to articles like the one above about How Thru Turned Into Through and Back Again. Sometimes with their main entry for the day like flimflam which I didn't realize was very old and possibly related to Old Norse.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Blogging Around: The "Tricks" Edition

"Tricks" a.k.a. stuff that makes me feel as if someone egged my house.

You can’t pay your rent with “the unique platform and reach our site provides”

HuffPost: We’d like to publish a story you wrote!

Me: Cool! What do you pay?

HP: Oh, we can’t afford to pay, but EXPOSURE!

Me: How about no.
Wil Wheaton hits the nail on the head ... short, succinct, and worth remembering

Everything Old Is New Again: Processed Meats Not Good For You

Some background: the IARC has so far reviewed more than 900 agents for carcinogenicity and only one was found to be not carcinogenic. Other carcinogens or probable carcinogens identified by IARC? Coffee and wine (alcohol).

It’s important to understand exactly what this designation means. It does not mean that consuming red meat will give you cancer. It means that one or more compounds found in a very diverse category of foods (one that includes everything from fast food burgers to grass fed bison) has the potential to cause cancer. It says nothing about how much or what type of red meat increases your risk of cancer, what the magnitude of that risk might be, or the extent to which other foods in your diet offset that risk.
Leave it to the Nutrition Diva to sort through the latest sensational headlines. As for myself, the idea of putting hotdogs on the same level as cigarettes is laughable. When I'm chain eating a pack of hotdogs a day, then I'll worry. If you have to elevate dangers just to get attention, then that's a sign your news is far too well known to bother people with.

Also, this "old news" just in: study links sugar to conditions that lead to diabetes, heart disease in children.

Well, duh.

My Prison Job Wasn't About The Money

Within this close context, my prison work assignment actually made me feel like a human being. Every other woman with whom I worked felt the same way. Jacques D’Elia, a former prisoner in California who fought wildfires in the state for approximately $2 a day, didn’t care about the low pay either. In August he told a reporter from the Marshall Project, the criminal-justice news organization, that it was an honor to prove his worth through his prison job. I felt the same way.

Debate over how we use inmate labor has intensified lately, with people focusing on the fact that 30%-40% of the firefighters battling California’s wildfires are inmates, paid substandard wages. The activist group US Uncut has released a list of seven household brand names, like Whole Foods, Wal-Mart and Victoria’s Secret, that cut costs by selling products made with low-paid prison labor.
I had to read this article carefully because the idea of protesting low pay for prisoners was a completely new one to me. Don't just go by this excerpt, though it does capture the essence of the issue. Once again we see a lack of thorough understanding can lead to disastrous consequences, no matter how good the intentions.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Worth a Thousand Words: Autumn

taken by Remo Savisaar
I was scrolling through Remo's photographs and this one stopped me in my tracks. It is so heartbreakingly beautiful. Do go see it in full size at his blog.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Worth a Thousand Words: Portrait of Marie Breunig

Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Marie Breunig, 1894
via Arts Everyday Living

Hannah appeared outside the window. Julie and Scott invite her in (after checking for knives) ...

... to offer tips on horror movie survival.

Like not dropping weapons when you think its over.

How to get out of the house when you think its over.

And that its never really over, especially when you think its over.

Join us for Episode 119 of A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast — a spirited discussion of Halloween, directed by John Carpenter.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Apologies for my absence this week

It's fall which means my heavy load of catalog work has arrived. I love this work, but it has a print deadline which means I have to dedicate most of my time to it.

Also I'm launching another business venture locally and that is adding just enough to my work day that I haven't been able to blog.

Never fear, I'll get this under control. After all, Halloween is coming. I must be sure we're in the mood by Oct. 31!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Worth a Thousand Words: Long-eared Owl Chick

Long-eared Owl Chick
taken by Remo Savisaar
I cannot adequately express the beauty of Remo's photography. Please do go to his blog and see it for yourself.

Well Said: The sure foundation for a beautiful friendship

There is no surer foundation for a beautiful friendship than a mutual taste in literature.
P.G. Wodehouse
Maybe that's why I'm always so surprised when I am friends with someone who I share absolutely no literary taste. It happens but I'm always dumbfounded.

Julie and Scott have turned into the evil Juanita and Cesar.

At this point, no one is sure who said what about Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Join us for Episode 118 of A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Worth a Thousand Words: A Mediterranean Port

A Mediterranean Port, Arthur Melville - 1892
via Lines and Colors

Well Said: One last word, about getting rid of fear.

One last word, about getting rid of fear. Two men had to cross a dangerous bridge. The first convinced himself that it would bear them, and called this conviction Faith. The second said "Whether it breaks or holds, whether I die here or somewhere else, I am equally in God’s good hands." And the bridge did break and they were both killed: and the second man’s Faith was not disappointed and the first man’s was.
C.S. Lewis, from a letter to Mrs. D. Jessup, March 26th, 1954

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Mythology That Has Arisen Around Car Seats

How Did the Belt Win from Freakonomics wends its way from the belt around our waists to the way we belt our kids into the car.
LEVITT: And what we found in the data was really remarkable. It just, it seemed like the benefit of a car seat, a children’s car seat, relative to a child wearing an adult seat belt, was minimal. Almost zero. So in our research, in terms of fatalities, car seats didn’t help at all. In terms of injuries, mostly relatively minor injuries, it seemed like car seats had a small advantage relative to adult seat belts. But compared to the mythology that has arisen around car seats in which people seem to think, wow, these are the greatest inventions ever, the facts and the mythology just didn’t seem to line up very well at all.
Fascinating that we just haven't looked into it, as the story reports. Read the transcript or get the link for the episode.

Rose Speaks at Hannah and Mark's Wedding

Shared with Rose's permission. Tom and I are proud not only of Rose's speech but of the fact that Hannah and Rose love each other so much. That was made abundantly clear not only in this speech but when Hannah showcased her bridesmaid every chance she got, something that not every bride would do. They are such wonderful people.

Well Said: What I do before the Eucharist

What does the poor man do at the rich man's door, the sick man in the presence of his physician, the thirsty man at a limpid stream? What they do, I do before the Eucharistic God. I pray. I adore. I love.
St. Francis of Assisi

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Wedding Album

I can only be thankful for the proliferation of phones with cameras and people posting their pictures to Facebook. There was a photographer but while waiting for those results, it is lovely to see these photos.

Here are a very few of them to give a feel of the essentials.

Almost ready.

You may not be able to see it above, but I love the tender smile on the priest's face. 

I don't believe I've ever seen Mark smile like that.

 Hannah and the next generation of cousins ... who didn't plan it, but all seemed color coordinated. 
It was so much fun seeing the gaggle of girls running through the party.

Let there be pie! 
Cindy baked for days to provide some of the most delicious pies I've ever tasted. 
This is just one of the many personal touches that Hannah and Mark's friends provided 
which made this a really special celebration. 

(As I said, this wedding showed the heart of a great community.)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

In Celebration of a Wedding: Hannah Davis and Mark Edinburgh

Edmund Leighton (1853–1922), Signing the register
This is for Hannah and Mark who will wed this afternoon. We are delighted and can't wait for the happy occasion. Tom's and my prayer is that their life together will be as happy as ours.
But there are four lamps of thanksgiving always before him. The first is for his creation out of the same earth with such a woman as you. The second is that he has not, with all his faults, "gone after strange women." You cannot think how a man’s self restraint is rewarded in this. The third is that he has tried to love everything alive: a dim preparation for loving you. And the fourth is – but no words can express that. Here ends my previous existence. Take it: it led me to you.
From "To Frances," G.K. Chesterton's marriage proposal
One of the most delightful things leading up to this big day is how their friends have contributed to the celebration. So many have given of their talents to make this wedding a real reflection of the community joyously supporting this marriage.

It makes this big city wedding feel as if it is happening in the heart of a small town. From flowers to music, from hair and makeup to decorations, from paying for photography to making pies, I feel that it shows they are the "richest couple I know."

May God bless them as they begin this best and richest part of their lives, together.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Well Said: "When I run act, I feel His pleasure" — Hugh Jackman

I’m a religious person. This is going to sound weird to you. In Chariots of Fire the runner Eric Liddell says, “When I run, I feel His pleasure.” And I feel that pleasure when I act and it’s going well, particularly onstage. I feel what everyone’s searching for, the feeling that unites us all. Call it “God.” Before I go onstage every night, I pause and dedicate the performance to God, in the sense of “Allow me to surrender.” When you allow yourself to surrender to the story, to the character, to the night, to the audience, transcendence happens. And when that happens, there is nothing like it on the planet. It’s the moment people experience when they fall in love, which is equally frightening and exciting. That’s what it feels like.
Hugh Jackman, Parade interview, via Christopher Closeup
I knew I liked Hugh Jackman. It's a real pleasure to see how grounded he is in this honest interview.

It also made me think about my own life. I like that running or acting can be moments of feeling God's pleasure because we are using the gifts He gave us and they make us come alive.

What are those moments in my own life? When do I desire to surrender myself so that God may appear? When do I feel His pleasure — not because of other efforts or moments of connection — because I am His creation and am glorying in the special gift He bestowed?

Worth a Thousand Words: Goodbye summer girl

Goodbye summer girl
by Calligraphy in the view
Smile has remained in the mind as impression.
Vivid image will be rumination.

I will meet her again?

Go to the link for the remaining photos, haiku (translated from Japanese), and calligraphy.

Blogging Around: Pop Culture Edition

Uncle Orson Reviews Everything: The Martian

... the American characters are, well, American. Without any tokenism, Americans of many ethnicities play vital roles, and nobody makes a big deal about it. Chiwetel Ejiofor doesn’t play “the black guy,” he plays Vincent Kapoor, a top exec at NASA who argues his case with full authority. Eddy Ko (playing Guo Ming) has Chinese heritage, but it’s not about the stereotype of extra-smart Asians; he’s one smart guy among many, doing the jobs that happen to be his.
Orson Scott Card loved the book (me too) and now he tells why he loved the movie (we'll see it Sunday). As always, in doing so he has some interesting observations about everything else, such as hard science fiction movies, the casting, and how skillfully the story had to be adapted to a different medium. All without spoilers.

Cyber Attack

And how can a simple little old woman keep her herself and her information secure? Well, says the book, “You could cancel your Internet service, ditch your cell phone, close your bank account, throw away your debit card, and turn off your electricity. You could quit school and never take a job, vote in an election, get a driver’s license, or fly on an airplane. Of course, such a solution is completely unrealistic.”
Sherry at Semicolon reviews Cyber Attack. It's for young adults but sounds as if it is a good primer for anyone who wants to know more about the basics than the media headlines tell us.

Disney's Aladdin: A Diamond but not in the Rough

What makes the emphasis on Aladdin’s moral failure is all the more remarkable is how rare this motif is in American animation—outside of Pixar. Where Pixar films feature flawed protagonists whose errant decisions have real consequences that must be faced up to, in most Hollywood animation, including Disney, the hero’s choices are always fundamentally vindicated in the end. Aladdin isn’t the only hero of the Disney renaissance to utter the words “It’s all my fault,” but it’s the only time the words have moral weight.
Steven D. Greydanus takes a look at Aladdin from a Catholic point of view. I admit I watched this when we took the kids, long ago, but it never grabbed me the way some others did. It was interesting to revisit it via Greydanus's commentary.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Well Said: Courage

Courage is not something that you already have that makes you brave when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you've been through the tough times and you discover they aren't so tough after all.
Malcolm Gladwell, David and Goliath

Worth a Thousand Words: Staircase Group

Staircase Group (Portrait of Raphaelle Peale and Titian Ramsay Peale I), 1795) Charles Willson Peale.
Via Books and Art
Peale painted this life size portrait to be a trompe l'oeil and fool the eye into thinking it was real. To that end, he installed the painting in his studio inside a door frame with a step in front of it. It must have fooled many people.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Well Said: Chasing Two Rabbits

If you chase two rabbits, you may not catch even one.
Japanese proverb
Would that we discovered this logo before the concept of multi-tasking arose.

Worth a Thousand Words: Sunset over Tujunga

Sunset over Tujunga
Taken by Will Duquette
Will lives in these foothills and I'm trying very hard not to be envious over the beautiful view he gets every day. Be sure to click through on the link to see the photo full size. It is simply gorgeous.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

These Just In: 4 Books and a DVD

It's that delightful time of year when review books fill the mailbox. These are the ones I'm definitely going to be reading and telling you more about. But I don't want you to have to wait until then.

The Story of St. Francis of Assisi: In Twenty-Eight Scenes

by Timothy Verdon

This beautiful new book by renowned art historian Timothy Verdon tells the story of the life of St. Francis of Assisi in story and art. The 28 stunning thirteenth-century frescoes by Giotto that cover the walls of the famous Basilica in Assisi named for the saint are reproduced in full color, together with a schematic drawing showing their placement in the church. Through detailed descriptions and illuminating commentary on each of the famous frescoes, Verdon tells the story of Francis's extraordinary life, allowing today's reader the opportunity to "read" the art on those walls in the same way that a medieval Christian might have done.
You may recall I was a huge fan of Timothy Verdon's pervious book, Art and Prayer. This lovely, accessible book looks at how the frescoes invite us to see Francis's life "as a modern extension of the Biblical history of salvation." That allows us to connect our lives also to both the Old Testament and to Christ. Verdon does this not only through insights and and art, but even uses seemingly unlikely items like art placement, architectural placement, and landscape to bring us closer to God, via this meditation on St. Francis of Assisi. Stunning.

Intimate Graces: How Practicing the Works of Mercy Brings Out the Best in Marriage

by Teresa Tomeo (Pastore) and Dominick Pastore
Teresa Tomeo and her husband, Dominick Pastore, were disappointed and discouraged with their marriage. As Teresa identifies the problem, they were "more catechized by the culture" than their faith. But when they invited Christ into their marriage and began practicing mercy with each other, their lives--and marriage--were transformed.

Tomeo and Pastore each write in their own voice and include personal experiences, reflection questions, practical suggestions, and a prayer at the end of each chapter.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

No one has a perfect marriage but often we aren't sure where to get help, especially if the problems don't seem "that bad." This couple talks about pitfalls and danger zones from personal experience and gives us a new perspective to bring to make our marriages better. Just flipping through this I know it is a resource I'll be recommending to others.

Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary

Editor: Sarah Reinhard
A unique meditation on each word of the Hail Mary, one of the most important prayer traditions in Catholic life. Each of the forty reflections encourages readers to "slow down" with the Hail Mary and experience previously unseen dimension in the popular devotion, making it come to life in a new way. This unique, formative, and informative exploration of the beloved prayer is a gift to anyone who wants to be continually changed through it--learning to slow down and examine things more closely. 
The Church Fathers often advised slowing down in prayer by meditating on a phrase or word of a given prayer, such as the Our Father. This book follows in those wise footsteps and will help your prayer life deepen.

Full disclosure: I did the "Thou" chapter. More full disclosure: I haven't gotten my copy yet, but did get a good sense of everything when the series originally came out on Sarah's blog.

The Mystery of God

Film series and study program from Bishop Father Barron

Atheism is on the rise. Skeptical thinkers like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris vigorously attack belief in God as irrational or, even worse, dangerous. The so-called New Atheism has attracted millions of young people thanks to bestselling books such as The God Delusion and God Is Not Great.

How should Christians respond? How can we turn the tide of secularism and draw people back to God?

You'll discover how in "The Mystery of God," a new six-part film series and study program by Fr. Robert Barron. The lessons reach into our rich intellectual tradition. Using the insights of St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Pope Benedict XVI, you'll uncover a clear yet sophisticated understanding of what we mean by “God".
I was delighted when this showed up in my mailbox. For one thing I love Robert Barron's videos. For another it seems very timely.

God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas

Editors: Greg Pennoyer and Gregory Wolfe
Christmas is the season most difficult to grasp and understand in all its spiritual richness. The sentimentality and commercialism that dominate the season tend to obscure the profound mystery at its heart: the Incarnation. God with Us provides the perfect way to slow down and reconnect with the liturgical and sacramental traditions that illuminate the meaning of Christmas and the Incarnation. In daily meditations for the complete seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, the contributors offer a tapestry of reflection, Scripture, prayer, and history.
This is an Advent/Christmas devotional which was originally published in 2007 and clearly aimed at Christians who don't have a tradition of the liturgical year. For those who already do, you may skip a lot of the introductory material and just go straight to the reflections. They come from a diverse group like Father Richard Neuhaus, Scott Cairns, Lucy Shaw, and Kathleen Norris. The samples I read look very good.

Well Said: Understanding Too Soon

Some people will never understand anything, for this reason, because they understand everything too soon.
Alexander Pope
I've done that. A lot. Luckily humility eventually kicks in and then I can begin to understand what I ignored before.

Worth a Thousand Words: Ice Cream on the Boardwalk

Taken by Will Duquette
I always like it when everyone gets some ice cream.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Well Said: Desiring to be a Saint

God would never inspire me with desires which cannot be realized; so in spite of my littleness, I can hope to be a saint.
Thérèse de Lisieux, Story of a Soul
This gives me hope, likewise.

Worth a Thousand Words: Portrait of Edna Barger

Jules-Joseph LEFEBVRE, Portrait of Edna Barger of Connecticut
via French Painters