Friday, January 27, 2023

Julie remembers everything she read yesterday, and Scott's new nickname at work is "the Dumb Ox".

 Episode 299 of A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast: St. Thomas Aquinas by G. K. Chesterton.

Coriander Chicken Thighs with Cauliflower and Herbed Yogurt

 An easy and delicious meal that we all loved. I served it with Garlic Naan (from the freezer, thanks to a recent visit to a local India Bazaar).

Get it at Meanwhile, Back in the Kitchen!

A Passing Cloud

A Passing Cloud, Arthur Hughes, via Gandalf's Gallery


Man treats himself very cruelly.

In his ignorance man treats himself very cruelly. My care is constant, but he turns my life-giving gifts into a source of death ...

I gave him a memory to recall my goodness for I wanted him to share in my own power. I gave him an intellect to know and understand my will through the wisdom of my Son, for I am the giver of every good gift and I love him with a father's constant love. Through the Holy Spirit I have him a will to love what he would come to know with his intellect.
God speaking in a dialogue on Divine Providence
by St. Catherine of Siena

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Owls Hoot in the Daytime and Other Omens by Manly Wade Wellman

This volume contains all of the John the Balladeer stories (sometimes better known as Silver John), Manly's most famous character.

Wellman is best remembered as one of the most popular contributors to the legendary Weird Tales, and for his fantasy and horror stories set in the Appalachian Mountains, which draw on the native folklore of that region.

This collection contains all of Manly Wade Wellman's Silver John stories which are rooted in Appalachian folklore and are told by a captivating protagonist who battles evil with a song and sometimes with a silver quarter. The only print versions I could find were fabulously expensive so I was glad to see them available on Audible. The narrator is simply wonderful.

As another reviewer pointed out, we are never in doubt that John will win. The charm comes in how the story is imbued with Appalachian flavor and the imaginative nature of the predicaments and evil that John faces.

These are really great and I don't understand how they are so little known. I'm just glad that I came across them myself finally.

I discovered them when the Strange Studies of Strange Stories podcast covered one of the Silver John stories. This used to be the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast but with this new iteration, the hosts are now doing a lot more science fiction and I'm really enjoying it a lot.

What Came of Picking Jessamine

H.J. Ford, What Came of Picking Jessamine
from The Gray Fairy Book by Andrew Lang


Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Bollywood* Beginner Movies 1-3 — Romantic Comedies

I recently showed one of my favorite Bollywood movies to my book club, by their request. They enjoyed it so much that during the intermission a list of more movies was requested. 

After consultation with my backup crew (Hannah and Rose from An American's Guide to Bollywood), we came up with a good list of beginner movies in different categories. I'm going to spread them over the next few weeks so they aren't overwhelming. I'll include links to my full reviews, Hannah and Rose's discussions, and to the episodes of A Good Story is Hard to Find where Scott and I talk about them.


First up, we'll look at the genre that Indian movies are most famous for: romantic comedies. With lots of singing and dancing, of course!

I've got three "must see" movies below, with a few extras. The three groups below each feature one of the three actors who have dominated Bollywood for some time. They share the same surname, though they are not related, and are called the Three Khans.


1. Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi
(A Match Made By God)

We'll begin with the movie I showed my book club. 

Mild mannered Surinder winds up in an arranged marriage to the vivacious Taani. When she enters a dance competition, he enters in disguise. Shah Rukh Khan plays a double role as a nerd and an obnoxious "cool" dancer who inadvertently is competing with himself for his wife's love. It's a solid comedy and a funny, sweet look at true love. (My review here, Scott and I discussed it here, Hannah and Rose cover it here.)

  • Om Shanti Om
    An aspiring actor from the 1970s is murdered, but is immediately reincarnated into the present day where he attempts to expose the murderer and find Shanti, the love of his previous life. Finally — a movie with reincarnation! Light with tons of singing and dancing. (My review here, Hannah and Rose discuss it here.)

  • Happy New Year
    Six thieves enter a prestigious dance competition as a cover for pulling off a diamond heist. It's like a Bollywood version of Mission Impossible ... with a dance contest, of course! (Hannah and Rose discuss it here.)


2. Bajrangi Bhaijaan

A simple, righteous Indian man helps return a young, lost, mute girl to her home in Pakistan. Pawan is what the girl's parents have prayed for — a "god-sent man" who will protect their daughter. And therein hangs the tale, including a heckuva road trip. Light-hearted and charming. (My review is here. Scott and I discuss it here. Hannah and Rose cover it here.)


3. PK

A humanoid alien lands in Rajastan naked on a research mission but is stranded when the remote control for his spaceship is stolen. Amazingly charming, this lighthearted view of humans through alien eyes uses India’s religions (which is almost all of them) as a backdrop to finding his way home. (My review is here. Scott and I discuss it here.)

  • Lagaan
    This isn't actually a romantic comedy, but more of a romantic historical movie. A small Indian village battles a sadistic British officer in a winner-take-all cricket match. Lots of singing and dancing, and also Aamir Khan. India's pick for the foreign Oscars that year. (My review is here. Scott and I discuss it here. Hannah and Rose cover it here.)


Part 2 will feature action, myth, and romance (of course!) 

For my complete list of recommended films, go here. The list begins with what I've seen most recently.

* "Bollywood" as I'm using it is shorthand for Indian movies in general. The Indian movie industry has a lot of different centers that are based on regional languages and storytelling styles. There will be a few recommendations from others as we go, however, generally speaking, Bollywood (Bombay/Mumbai) offers the easiest entry points for Western viewers.

Sun drying of Sakura shrimp, Shizuoka

Sun drying of Sakura shrimp, Shizuoka, Japan, via Find/47


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

House with a Goat

House with a Goat by Yury Pen, c. 1920s, via J.R.'s Art Place

St. Francis De Sales Memorial

Francis de Sales, CO OM OFM Cap. (French: François de Sales; 21 August 1567 – 28 December 1622) was a Bishop of Geneva and is honored as a saint in the Anglican and Catholic church. He became noted for his deep faith and his gentle approach to the religious divisions in his land resulting from the Protestant Reformation. He is known also for his writings on the topic of spiritual direction and spiritual formation, particularly the Introduction to the Devout Life and the Treatise on the Love of God.
This summary is from Wikipedia but I liked the emphasis on St. Francis De Sales' gentle approach because he changed a lot of people's minds and hearts about Calvinism.

I think he is a good patron for today where we encounter so much ill informed opposition to the faith, both from within and without the Church. For daily living, I can especially recommend Introduction to the Devout Life as a down-to-earth, surprisingly modern book.

Here's an example of St. Francis's good advice which spoke to me when I was reading today's reflection in In Conversation with God, vol. 6. They are brief but were good reminders to me.
Humility is not only charity. It is also sweetness. Charity is the humility which appears on the outside. Humility is the charity which is on the inside.


We have to be indignant towards evil while at the same time being as polite as possible toward our neighbor.
Here is one of my very favorite quotes from St Francis de Sales — perhaps I need to reread Introduction to the Devout Life. It's been a while.
Day is continually turning to night, spring to summer, summer to autumn, autumn to winter, winter to spring; no two days are ever exactly alike. Some are foggy, rainy, some dry or windy; and this endless variety greatly enhances the beauty of the universe. And even so precisely is it with man (who, as ancient writers have said, is a miniature of the world), for he is never long in any one condition, and his life on earth flows by like the mighty waters, heaving and tossing with an endless variety of motion; one while raising him on high with hope, another plunging him low in fear; now turning him to the right with rejoicing, then driving him to the left with sorrows; and no single day, no, not even one hour, is entirely the same as any other of his life.
St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life
For anyone interested in this book, Scott and I discussed Introduction to the Devout Life on A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children — “Only love fills the empty spaces caused by evil.”

Now that Roe v. Wade  has been struck down it is easy to think that our job is done. However, the issue is not gone, but merely moved into more local arenas for decisions. And so our job is to pray and work that the innocent are spared and that we support and care for the women who suffer from the way our culture thinks about unseen life — as something inhuman to be easily discarded.

With that in mind, I share two readings for today. The first is from Word Among Us's meditations for today.

And best of all, Jesus continues to pray for us in heaven, where he constantly makes intercession “before God on our behalf” (Hebrews 9:24).

On this day when many of us pray for the protection of unborn children, we can draw hope from this passage. Jesus, our compassionate high priest, offered himself for every sin, including abortion. How he must suffer over every lost child! How he must grieve for every woman who feels alone or thinks she has no other option but to end her pregnancy! That’s why he endured the shame of the cross: to win forgiveness for every sin, no matter how grievous.

Even now, Jesus stands before his heavenly Father interceding for us. He is offering mercy and healing to every family wounded by abortion. He is pouring out grace for every man or woman who feels alone as they consider the future of their unborn child. And he is interceding for each of us, that we might meet the needs of every child and every parent. Let’s join him in praying that God’s kingdom would come—so that there will be no more abortion or poverty or hunger or violence. May God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven!
The second is from Bishop Burbidge's homily at the National Prayer Vigil in Washington, D.C. The whole thing is excellent. There is an excerpt to give you a flavor.
Dear friends, today we have so much to celebrate. For the first time in the 49-year-history of the March for Life, we can say that Roe vs. Wade, a blight on our nation, our system of justice, and our culture, is no more. This is a moment for joy, and for gratitude; a moment to recall the countless souls who have dedicated themselves to political and social action, to prayer, and to service in the name of this cause. It is a moment to gather before our God to offer praise and thanksgiving for this great, longed for blessing. Today we make the gratitude of today’s Psalm our own: “O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!”

But even as we celebrate, we must remember: this is the beginning, not the end. A new important phase of work in the pro-life movement begins now! ...

While we hold public officials accountable, we must remember that each of us is accountable also. “The secret of Christian living is love,” Pope Francis has said. “Only love fills the empty spaces caused by evil.” That is our task. That is where our words must be matched by our actions. Our work will not be complete until God’s love is felt in every empty space created by abortion.

As we look to the future of the pro-life movement, may we turn our attention to those empty spaces. Into the empty spaces of public discourse on abortion, may we bring clarity and charity in communicating with our opponents. Into the empty space of our wounded politics, may we communicate the need to let go of partisanship and to do what is right and just. Into the empty spaces of culture, may we celebrate truth, beauty, and God’s goodness. Into the empty space of fear and loneliness experienced by women facing an unplanned pregnancy, may we offer God’s peace and hope and our untiring commitment to walk with them at every moment. Into the empty spaces within the lives of mothers and fathers who mourn from children lost to abortion, may we gently voice God’s endless comfort and mercy.

We can accomplish none of this on our own. Indeed, it is only in letting God fill the empty spaces in our own hearts with the warmth of his love that we may begin to fill the spaces around us. ...

The Legendary Old-District

The Legendary Old-District, Japan
from Calligraphy and View

Friday, January 20, 2023

The Dog Has Run Off Again by Mary Oliver

The Dog Has Run Off Again by Mary Oliver 

and I should start shouting his name
and clapping my hands,
but it has been raining all night
and the narrow creek has risen
is a tawny turbulence is rushing along
over the mossy stones
is surging forward
with a sweet loopy music
and therefore I don’t want to entangle it
with my own voice
calling summoning
my little dog to hurry back
look the sunlight and the shadows are chasing each other
listen how the wind swirls and leaps and dives up and down
who am I to summon his hard and happy body
his four white feet that love to wheel and pedal
through the dark leaves
to come back to walk by my side, obedient.

Chickens and Park Vase

Albertus Verhoesen, Chickens and Park Vase

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Today I shall meet cruel men ...

Today I shall meet cruel men, cowards and liars, the envious and the drunken. They will be like that because they do not know what is good from what is bad. This is an evil which has fallen upon them not upon me. They are to be pitied.
C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

Filipino Rooster

A texturized portrait of a Filipino Fighting Rooster.
Taken by Wayne S. Grazio, some rights reserved.