Monday, December 31, 2007
One editorial writer from the Granite State explores the possibility over at the Wall Street Journal.
South Carolina Senator Lyndsey Graham sees a movement for Ron Paul, too.
Not far from the hall was the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the mother church of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles:
Only about five years old, this modern cathedral is an awesome place. While its imposing boxy exterior may give some initial pause, the cathedral's interior design and works of art work are tremendous -- starting with its "Great Bronze Doors":
The most memorable art from the cathedral was "The Communion of Saints" -- the tapestries by John Nava that line the cathedral's nave. The saints depicted in the tapestries are from every age and place of the Catholic Church but placed randomly -- and even include a handful of images of unnamed young people. The tableau is inspired and thought-provoking.
The saints look forward into the center of the cathedral, as if processing to receive communion. Here's a close-up view of the upper half of one of the tapestries:
Sunday, December 30, 2007
The session was led by Marie Dennis, a laywoman and mother of six who directs the Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns and is the new co-president of Pax Christi International. She's a Pittsburgh native, too.
From Matthew Chapter 2:
Saturday, December 29, 2007
While I tend to be more internationally-minded than Dr. Paul, I think he's correct on this one. The Bush administration's involvement in Pakistani politics has been ineffective and perhaps even contributed to the current environment there.
Friday, December 28, 2007
NCSC is an association of Catholic college and university students who are active in campus ministry programs -- often Newman Clubs and Catholic Student Associations. It's a pleasure to be here as an exhibitor as I was a member of NCSC myself back in the '90s.
We brought back that tradition this year -- even if the movie we saw was probably the least "Christmassy" film we could have chosen: "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street." (We caught it at Destinta in Bridgeville, PA.)
Directed by Tim Burton, "Sweeney Todd" is a good translation to the screen of Stephen Sondheim's Tony-award winning 1979 musical of the same name. In fact, I think the piece may work better on the screen than it did on stage.
Make no mistake. "Sweeney Todd" is about revenge, mass murder and cannibalism. Blood and gore abound -- but are largely necessary to tell the tale.
Turning in excellent performances were Johnny Depp in the title role, Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett (a part originated on Broadway by Angela Lansbury) and Alan Rickman as Sweeney Todd's nemesis, the evil Judge Turpin.
I'd recommend "Sweeney Todd" to all those without sensitive stomachs.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
The assassination this morning of Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan is certainly such news.
Pakistan is a nuclear power with a large population and dangerous borders. The murder of a powerful political leader there has the potential to influence historical outcomes both in that region and across the globe.
The murder of a political figure in the midst of coming elections in any country is a blow to democracy everywhere. And, it's a reminder of how blessed we are here in the United States that we really do work out our issues at the ballot box -- and not by the brand of barbarism the world witnessed today.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
"O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Desire of all nations and their savior: come and save us, O Lord our God!"
In Latin via YouTube:
And, the complete carol inspired by the O Antiphons:
From Matthew Chapter 1:
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said:
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
It's worth reading the whole thing but here's one good passage:
... in person, Paul doesn't seem like a freak. He seems like someone's grandfather. I first met up with Paul after a rally at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He apparently hadn't known I was coming but accepted my arrival with Zen-like calm, welcoming me into the seat next to him in the minivan and offering me baked goods from a plate on his lap. We were both finishing our brownies when he mentioned they'd been baked by a supporter. I stopped chewing. Where I work, this is a major taboo (Rule One: Never eat food sent by viewers), and my concern must have shown. Paul grinned. "Maybe they're spiked with marijuana," he said.
If so, it would have been his first experience with illegal drugs. Though Paul argues passionately for liberalizing marijuana laws and is beloved by potheads (Timothy Leary once held a fund-raiser for him), he has never smoked pot himself. He sounded shocked when I asked him.
"I have never seen anyone smoke marijuana," he said. "I don't think I'd be open to using it." For some people, libertarianism is the philosophical justification for a zany personal life. Paul, by contrast, describes his hobbies as gardening (roses and organic tomatoes) and "riding my bicycle." He has never had a cigarette. He doesn't swear. He limits his drinking to an occasional glass of wine and goes to church regularly. He has been married to the same woman for 50 years. Three of their five children are physicians.
Ron Paul is deeply square, and every bit as deeply committed to your right not to be. "I don't gamble, but I'm the gambler's best friend," he says, boasting of his support for online casinos. He is a Second Amendment absolutist who doesn't own a gun. "I've only fired one a couple of times in my life. I've never gotten around to killing anything." It's an impressively, charmingly principled world view, though sometimes you've got to wonder how much Paul has in common with many of the people who support him.
But, then I saw that Eva had done a beautiful rendition of (the often schmaltzy) "People Get Ready." It's absolutely an Advent song.
John the Baptist couldn't have said it better himself:
Friday, December 21, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
"O Key of David, and scepter of the house of Israel: you open and no one shuts; you shut and no one opens. Come and lead forth from this prison the captive sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death."
Or, in Latin, "O Clavis," via YouTube:
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
There is a specific "O" for each day from December 17 to December 23. Monday, the antiphon began with "O Wisdom." Tuesday, the antiphon began with "O Adonai." Today (Wednesday), the antiphon began "O Root of Jesse."
Here are three YouTube videos of these ancient prayers chanted in Latin:
For December 17:
For December 18:
For December 19:
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Kudos to Carlson for giving Ron Paul's campaign some equal time:
Monday, December 17, 2007
The closing of his brilliant argument:
But the deeper reason to support Ron Paul is a simple one. The great forgotten principles of the current Republican party are freedom and toleration. Paul's federalism, his deep suspicion of Washington power, his resistance to government spending, debt and inflation, his ability to grasp that not all human problems are soluble, least of all by government: these are principles that made me a conservative in the first place. No one in the current field articulates them as clearly and understands them as deeply as Paul. He is a man of faith who nonetheless sees a clear line between religion and politics. More than all this, he has somehow ignited a new movement of those who love freedom and want to rescue it from the do-gooding bromides of the left and the Christianist meddling of the right. The Paulites' enthusiasm for liberty, their unapologetic defense of core conservative principles, their awareness that in the new millennium, these principles of small government, self-reliance, cultural pluralism, and a humble foreign policy are more necessary than ever - no lover of liberty can stand by and not join them.
He's the real thing in a world of fakes and frauds. And in a primary campaign where the very future of conservatism is at stake, that cannot be ignored. In fact, it demands support.
Go Ron Paul!
Sunday, December 16, 2007
The article was written by Fr. William J. O'Malley, S.J., a teacher at Fordham Prep in the Bronx.
Science still yields plenty of clues to a Designer, who might not be as intrusive as we have been led to believe. Every planet circles the sun at precisely the one speed that will keep it from drifting into deep space or crashing into the sun. The four fundamental forces in the universe are gravity (the attractive pull of every body), electromagnetism (bonding atoms), the strong nuclear force (binding elements within the nucleus) and the weak force (radioactive decay). If any of these forces were even minutely different, the advent of humans would have been unthinkable. In fact, according to Stephen Hawking, “If the rate of expansion one second after the Big Bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million million, it would have recollapsed before it reached its present size.” Conversely, if gravity were weaker, Big Bang dust would have just continued to expand, never coalescing. If the strong nuclear force were a little weaker, no elements heavier than hydrogen would have formed. If electromagnetism were stronger, electrons would be so tightly bound to atoms, chemical compounds would have been impossible. Any weaker, and atoms would disintegrate at room temperature.
Miller writes: “As His great creation burst forth from the singularity of its origin, His laws would have set within it the seeds of galaxies, stars, and planets, the potential for life, the inevitability of change, and the confidence of emerging intelligence.” God works not in the intimate, palpable anthropomorphism of Genesis, kneeling in the mud to fashion Adam and turn his rib into Eve, but God is—and always will be—vibrant and at work in every physical law that evolution presumes.
Perhaps we might find more motivated belief if we were more at peace with intriguing questions than prefabricated conclusions, if we could stop needing to prove anything and delight in pursuing the clues.
The image above, taken from the America Website, is of the Cat's Eye nebula, an interstellar cloud of gas and dust.
From Matthew Chapter 11:
When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ, he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question:
“Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”
Jesus said to them in reply:
“Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”
As they were going off, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John:
“What did you go out to the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine clothing? Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces. Then why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you.
"Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
The image above shows the oil transferred to canvas "San Juan Bautista" by the Italian painter Andrea del Sarto (1486-1531). It lives at the Worchester Art Museum.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Like so many young performers who came out of the '90s, Phat Man Dee is hard to categorize. Nate Guidry of the Post-Gazette wrote earlier this year of her new album, "Torch of Blue": "It combines elements of jazz with Middle Eastern hooked rhythms, electronic music and mandolin guitar, poetry and improvisation."
If I remember correctly, there was a time when a Phat Man Dee show may have included glass swallowing, fire eating and other assorted activities. But, none of that happened at the Gershwin. It was all about the music. Joined by Pittsburgh guitarists Colter Harper and Tony DePaolis, PMD was in excellent form. She has a full head of hair again, too -- the shaved head and pig tails look is a thing of the past.
For sentimental reasons, my favorite tune of the night has to be the Kennywood-inspired "Ride the Roter." I also enjoyed PMD's take on "Dona Nobis Pacem."
For this week's YouTube musical clip for a peaceful weekend, below is a compilation of some PMD pieces done by the woman herself:
An aside: Colter Harper is going out next week on a new tour with that other band from the 'burgh: Rusted Root.
Pittsburgh-related aside #2: Kennywood has been sold.
Here's a closer-up video taken by another concert-goer from the second level of Terminal 5 during "The Distance":
One of the way some people know Cake is by the band's cover of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive." They didn't perform that Thursday night but, here's that video as well for your viewing pleasure:
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
It is believed that the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, pictured above, miraculously appeared on St. Juan Diego's cloak.
It is a much-loved image for many Catholics but especially for the Faithful in Mexico and other parts of the Americas. (In 1999, JPII affirmed Our Lady of Guadalupe as the "Patroness of the Americas" and her feast became a solemnity for Catholics throughout the Western Hemisphere.)
Hat-tip for the modern OLOG: The Deacon's Bench.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Ron Paul - 93.42%
John McCain - 47.37%
Mike Huckabee - 35.53%
Mitt Romney - 25%
Rudy Giuliani - 10.53% (I'm surprised it was that low.)
Hat-tip: Inside Catholic.
Monday, December 10, 2007
However, when I was back in PA, I always enjoyed catching the weekday morning sports briefs on WDUQ 90.5 FM, Pittsburgh's NPR affiliate.
I listened for those morning sports briefs because of the distinctive voice and personality of DUQ sports director Sean Doherty -- and his quirky interactions with morning jazz host Bob Studebaker.
It was thanks to Doherty and Studebaker that I had some general sports knowledge -- especially about basketball and hockey, of which I never knew much.
DUQ and the P-G report that Sean Doherty died Saturday night at the age of 47.
A voice of the Steel City has gone silent.
An aside: I loved it when Doherty referred to Heinz Field as "the mustard palace."
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Saturday, December 08, 2007
It's the story of jazz singer and guitarist Jackie Paris (1924 - 2004), a native of Nutley, New Jersey. Paris was considered a great "singer's singer" in the '40s and '50s but never found the stardom of the likes of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Tony Bennett.
In his heyday, Jackie Paris toured with Charlier Parker, recorded an early version of Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight," and was a favorite of Charles Mingus and Peggy Lee. He also recorded a version of "Skylark" that seems less cheesey than the treatment that tune usually receives.
In addition to trying to explain why his career as a singer and guitarist never took flight, the documentary looks at Paris' personal and familial relationships and, in doing so, provides another example of a conflicted artists' life of that era.
I had never heard of Jackie Paris prior to seeing this documentary. I'm glad I now have. He was a cool character.
An aside: As a native of Washington County, Pennsylvania, it was hard to watch this film without making comparisons between Jackie Paris and Canonsburg's Perry Como and Bobby Vinton.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Money quote from Noonan's column:
Romney reintroduced himself to a distracted country -- Who is that handsome man saying those nice things? -- while defending principles we all, actually, hold close, and hold high.
My take? Less positive than Noonan's. Mitt Romney, you are no Jack Kennedy.
Hat-tip: The Deacon's Bench.
"Silver Bells" was written by the Academy Award-winning songwriting duo of Jay Livingston (1915 - 2001) and Ray Evans (1915 - 2007). Livingston grew up in my hometown of McDonald, PA -- in a house just three blocks from my old apartment.
Evans and Livingston also created "Que Sera Sera," "Mona Lisa," the themes for the TV shows "Bonanza" and "Mr. Ed," and other great tunes.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
... and later transformed into our jolly old elf here in America ...
... go here and here.
The medieval fresco depicting St Nicholas is from the Boyana Church, near Sofia, Bulgaria. The church is a UNESCO Heritage Site.
The oak sculpture above is called "Saint Nicholas with the Three Boys in the Pickling Tub." According to Wikipedia, it's South Netherlandish, c. 1500 and housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. Gift to the museum by J. Pierpont Morgan, 1916.
The Coca-Cola advertisement was done in 1931 by Haddon Sundblom.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Below is Adam Sandler performing his "Hanukkah Song." It's irreverent but fun:
And the most recent version:
Hat-tip: Ed Gromacki's MySpace.
I think it had to do with the Christmas season falling in the gap between election cycles during which, frankly, I was never ultimately successful. I'm almost ashamed to concede that, last year, I was in such a funk that I didn't even put up a Christmas tree in my McDonald apartment (something I always enjoyed immensely).
And, when you're 30-something and single without children, there's just not that sense of anticipation and awe that you feel when either you are a kid yourself or there are kids around you regularly.
So, perhaps this Advent, my first back in NYC, it would be good to try to again embrace the Christmas spirit. For some kick-off inspiration, perhaps for both me and you, gentle reader, below is Nat King Cole singing "The Christmas Song" compliments of YouTube:
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Last week, my friend, Kevin Ahern, met the pope. Not only did he meet the pope -- Kevin gave remarks listened to by B16 himself during a Vatican meeting of Catholic non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
And, compliments of his Facebook page, he's got the pics to prove it:
Kevin, now a graduate student in theology at Boston College, recently completed a four-year term as the president of the International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) -- only the second American to ever hold the post that is based in Paris.
Kevin learned about NCSC after attending the organization's 1998 conference in Washington, D.C., with the Newman Club at NYU, a group I was proud to help organize back in that era.
Monday, December 03, 2007
I don't know anything about the underlying song so I'm not necessarily endorsing that. But, when I saw this segment on "This Week" a few Sundays ago, I hoped someone who put it on YouTube -- and the editing here is excellent.
For your consideration:
Sunday, December 02, 2007
The Gospel at Mass finds Jesus telling his disciples to be prepared for the coming of God.
From the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 24:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
"In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.
"So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake!
"For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the househad known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
To mark the occasion, Anthony, Heather and I travelled that evening to Montclair, NJ, for a concert by folk singer/songwriter David Wilcox sponsored by Outpost in the Burbs.
For the latest installment of the YouTube musical clip for a peaceful weekend, below is Wilcox at another show performing his tune "Language of the Heart":
And some background: