Monday, December 31, 2007

Buzz from New Hampshire

Is Congressman Ron Paul headed for an impressive double-digit turnout in the New Hampshire presidential primary?

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.


Very politically incorrect but hilarious:

Hat-tip: Sully.

Travelogue: The City of Angels

Saturday, during a break at the conference, I had the chance to get out of the hotel for a few hours and walk to some nearby sites in Downtown L.A. The nearest notable piece of architecture was the stunning Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall:

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:

Finally, we concluded our tour by driving a short distance to a locally well-known sandwich joint called Philippes, "Home of the French Dipped Sandwich":

It was the kind of old school memorabilia-laden place any Pittsburgher would feel right at home. (Their Cole slaw was, however, a side dish and not under the bread.)

Tour guide: Jay.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

In Flight

Yesterday, here at the NCSC conference, I attended a workshop about Catholic social teaching on immigration issues and care for refugees.

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.

The topic was especially appropriate considering that today is the Feast of the Holy Family with the Gospel at Mass that shows Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus in flight by night to Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod.

When the magi had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”

Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”

He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there. And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee.

He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, He shall be called a Nazorean.

The image above shows an oil on canvas entitled "The Flight into Egypt." It is credited to James Lesesne Wells.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

"And the Glory of the Lord"

Since we are still in the midst of the 12 Days of Christmas, here is a selection from George Frederic Handel's "Messiah" for this week's "YouTube musical clip for a peaceful weekend."

The selection is "And the Glory of the Lord."


"A Lot Less A Lot Sooner"

Congressman Ron Paul on the situation in Pakistan via MSNBC and YouTube:

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 in L.A.

Yesterday, I flew from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles where, today through January 1, I will be an exhibitor for my company at the 24th annual conference of the National Catholic Student Coalition (NCSC).

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.

The conference theme is: "Our Catholic Faith, Our World in Need." The keynote speaker is Kevin Kostic who heads Catholic Relief Services' "Campus Connection."

Good Translation

For many years, my high school friends and I had a tradition of going to the movies on Christmas night after we finished celebrating the holiday with our families.

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.


Background on Benazir Bhutto:

Hat-tip: Andrew Sullivan

Thursday, December 27, 2007


It's rare when something occurs in the news that you can definitively point to as an event that will certainly change the course of history.

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

This (Sunday) evening, the final "O Antiphon" brings us to the one we know best from the traditional carol:

"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:

A Righteous Man

Today is the fourth and final Sunday of Advent. The Gospel at Mass brings us the story of St. Joseph and the vital role he played in salvation history.

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

O King of nations

This (Saturday) evening's O Antiphon:

"O King of nations, and their Desired, the Cornerstone who makes all one: come and save our race, whom you formed out of clay."

In Latin, "O King of nations" is "O Rex Gentium":

On The Road

Tucker Carlson has a great story over at The New Republic about his experiences on the road with Congressman Ron Paul during a recent campaign swing through Nevada.

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.

People Get Ready

One of my favorite musicians is Eva Cassidy (1963 - 1996). In trying to select this week's "YouTube musical clip for a peaceful weekend," I had hoped to find something by Eva related to Christmas. At first, it seemed like the only thing available was a cheesy video of one of her songs on top of some woman's pictures of her Christmas tree and boyfriend.

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

O Dayspring

Friday's O Antiphon:

"O Dayspring, brightness of eternal Light and Sun of Justice: come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death."

From YouTube: "O Oriens":

Or, another version:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

O Key of David

Continuing with the "O" Antiphons, here is this (Thursday) evening's:

"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:

In Leg Chains at JFK?

If this story turns out to be accurate, I think it's safe to say we're going to see a nose-dive in tourism from Iceland.

The International Herald-Tribune has a follow-up.

Hat-tip: Sully.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The "O" Antiphons

For many Christians, a prayer tradition in these final days of Advent prior to Christmas is the recitation of the great "O" Antiphons traditionally sung at evening vespers. (The hymn "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" paraphrases the O Antiphons.)

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

Tucker Carlson Gets It

Tucker Carlson of MSNBC also conducted a good interview yesterday with Ron Paul's campaign chairman about the "money bomb" that Sunday reportedly raised the campaign more than $6 million in Internet contributions (average donation of about $100 and more than 24,000 first-time donors).

Kudos to Carlson for giving Ron Paul's campaign some equal time:

On "Now"

On Friday, "Now" on PBS aired a story on Congressman Ron Paul's bid for the White House. Here's some of it from a YouTube clip:

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sully Endorses Ron Paul

Andrew Sullivan today endorsed Congressman Ron Paul in the race to be the GOP nominee for President in 2008.

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!

Here. Here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Andrew Young on Barack, Bill & Blackness

With friends like these ...

The Clinton circus is back in town.

Pursuing the Clues

The December 10 edition of America, the national Catholic weekly magazine published by the Jesuits, included a good article entitled "The Eye and I: Do the questions science poses diminish the God of faith?".

The article was written by Fr. William J. O'Malley, S.J., a teacher at Fordham Prep in the Bronx.

Good snip:

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.

and ...

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.


Today is the third Sunday of Advent or Gaudete Sunday. The Gospel at Mass provides and explanation by Jesus himself of His relationship in salvation history with John the Baptist.

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

Phat Man Dee in NYC

Last night, we checked out some live music quite different from that offered up by Cake Thursday at Terminal 5. The location was the small "living room" concert space of the Gershwin Hotel on 27th Street in NYC. The performer was Phat Man Dee, the sultry songstress from Pittsburgh's South Side.

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.

Cake on the West Side

Thursday night, I joined Kelvin and crew for a concert featuring the California band Cake at Terminal 5 on the West Side in NYC. It was a pretty good show. Here's a YouTube video below from the concert taken by someone who was standing near our vantage point on the floor. It's the Cake song "Stick Shifts and Safety Belts":

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:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today, December 12, Catholics celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe -- our belief that in 1531, on a hill outside Mexico City, the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Juan Diego, an indigenous Mexican.

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.)

But, the traditional image often has been artistically updated through the centuries. Below is one stunning modern-day take:

Hat-tip for the modern OLOG: The Deacon's Bench.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Candidate Calculator

I entered my preferences today into the "Candidate Calculator." Here's my breakdown on the GOP candidates for president:

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

In Memoriam: Sean Doherty, 1960 - 2007

I have never been a huge sports fan. Like most native Western Pennsylvanians, I make a point to know how the Steelers are doing but, usually, that's mostly it.

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

Crying Out in the Desert

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent. The Gospel at Mass brought us strong words of warning from John the Baptist (shown in the icon above).

John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said: A voice of one crying out in the desert, Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.

John wore clothing made of camel’s hair and had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.

At that time Jerusalem, all Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.

When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them:

“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones. Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

"I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Search for Jackie Paris

Last night, we saw the documentary film "'Tis Autumn: The Search for Jackie Paris" at Cinema Village on 12th Street & University Place.

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

On Faith in Public Life

Peggy Noonan has a smart summary in today's Wall Street Journal on Mitt Romney's speech yesterday in Texas on the role of a presidential candidate's religion.

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.

City Sidewalks ...

For this week's "YouTube musical clip for a peaceful weekend," I give you the Christmas classic "Silver Bells" as it was presented for the first time in the otherwise forgotten 1951 comedy film "The Lemon Drop Kid" sung by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell.

"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

St. Nicholas Day

For many Christians around the world, today, December 6, is the Feast of St. Nicholas.

For the story of how this Bishop of Myra (in what is modern-day Turkey) who lived sometime in the 300s A.D. ...

... became this much loved and venerated saint in northern Europe ....

... and later transformed into our jolly old elf here in America ...

... go here and here.

Image Credits:

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

Hanukkah 2008

This evening marks the beginning of Hanukkah in 2008. I hope it's a joyous and spiritual time for all those who celebrate it.

Below is Adam Sandler performing his "Hanukkah Song." It's irreverent but fun:

And the most recent version:

Hat-tip: Ed Gromacki's MySpace.

Recapturing the Spirit

The last few years, I have to admit, I have found it difficult to get into the Christmas spirit.

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

Kevin meets B16

The "Catholic nerd" in me feels compelled to share this:

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.

He came to that role through his work with the U.S.-based National Catholic Student Coalition (NCSC), an association of Catholic college and university students involved in campus ministry.

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.

Congratulations, Kevin! You have made us very proud!

Monday, December 03, 2007

George Will: " man, Ron Paul"

Check out the YouTube clip below in which George Will states, "Don't forget about my man, Ron Paul, here." (perhaps facetiously).

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

Therefore, Stay Awake!

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the first day of the new liturgical year and the start of the season of anticipation leading to Christmas.

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.”

David Wilcox

Friday, my old college buddy Anthony Santella entered the ranks of the 30-somethings.

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:

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Red Ribbon on the North Portico

Today, December 1, is World AIDS Day. To commemorate the day, the White House has displayed a huge red ribbon on the North Portico:

(The White House photo photo above is credited to Eric Draper.)

And, from Andrew Sullivan: