Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hush, My Darling

For this week's "YouTube musical clip for a peaceful weekend," I've decided to go in a somewhat different direction -- oldies. No, really. Don't groan. It's a good one: "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" made famous by The Tokens.


REM has a (more sedate) version, too. Here's an audio clip:


Here is another one of those "match yourself with the correct presidential candidate" Websites: Glassbooth

It's one of the better ones I've seen. Glassbooth first asks you to select the issues of importance to you by rank and then offers you specific questions on those issues.

I tried it twice over two consecutive days.

Yesterday, it matched me with Ron Paul at 80 percent and John McCain at 74 percent. Today, my match with Congressman Paul decreased one point to 79 percent and my affinity with Senator McCain dropped to 68 percent.

(My rankings of the issues must have changed somewhat between the two tries.)

Hat-Tip: Theresa's Treehouse.


Aimee Allen adapted her song "Revolution" for Ron Paul.

To give it a listen:

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Shock Jock for the Doc

I almost can't believe I'm posting this audio clip -- and I apologize in advance for the airing of the F-bomb near the end -- but here is radio shock jock Howard Stern on Congressman Ron Paul's bid for the White House. Stern and Dr. Paul do both draw support from the anti-establishment types and libertarians.

For your consideration:

FYI: Folk singer Arlo Guthrie endorsed Ron Paul today, too. (I don't know anything about Guthrie so I pass this along without comment.) From the press report:

“Dr. Paul is the only candidate I know of who would have signed the Constitution of the United States had he been there,” Guthrie said in the announcement. “I’m with him because he seems to be the only candidate who actually believes it has as much relevance today as it did a couple of hundred years ago.”


Rudy Giuliani was eloquent and gracious last night as he delivered his concession speech in Florida. I wish we had seen more of this during his campaign. (Or, was there more of it and I just wasn't paying attention?)

In case you missed it:

Hump Day

In case any of you, gentle readers, need some "hump day" inspiration, below is a YouTube clip of John Rutter's "For the Beauty of Earth."

God speed:

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Apparently things got a little too close for comfort last night on the floor of the House Chambers before the State of the Union.

CNN has the all the awkward details.

"A President Like My Father"

My own presidential preferences aside, I recognize that this endorsement by Caroline Kennedy of Senator Barack Obama's bid for the White House is quite powerful -- and may put him over the top in the race for the Democrat nomination in some of the Super Tuesday states.

From her op-ed that appeared in yesterday's New York Times:

I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.

I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Fishers of Men

The Gospel at Mass yesterday showed Christ at the beginning of his public ministry calling the first apostles to join him and be "fishers of men."

From Matthew Chapter 4:

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.

He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled: "Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen."

From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.

He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Bright Side of Life

Sarah LaPlante Miller, a friend from our days in the National Catholic Student Coalition, is in NYC this weekend from Oregon along with her brother and a friend Utah. Tonight, thanks to tickets they garnered at the tkts booth, we checked out "Monty Python's Spamalot" at the Shubert Theater on West 44th Street.

The show, "lovingly ripped off" from the 1975 movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," was joyful and fun throughout. I can see why it won the 2005 Tony Award for Best Musical.

For your viewing pleasure, here are some YouTube clips of scenes from "Spamalot":

An aside: This was the second week in which Clay Aiken (of "American Idol" fame) starred as Sir Robin in "Spamalot" on Broadway. To be honest, it was kind of a turn-off at the outset due to the cheese factor. But, I have to give Aiken his due -- he was fine in the role.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Humour in Government

Humor (humour?) in government is seen at its best in the YouTube clip below -- as only the British House of Commons can pull it off. The topic is a treaty that would create a "President of Europe" and the possibility of former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair in that role.

William Hague of the Conservative Party has the floor:

Hat-tip: Andrew Sullivan (but he is crediting two other sources who in turn credit other sources).

First Steps

Molly is walking!

And her dad is blogging.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Prince of Intensity

A.O. Scott has a reflection in today's New York Times on the career of the actor Heath Ledger, who died Tuesday at the age of 28. The headline reads "Prince of Intensity With Lightness of Touch."

"Encouraging Challenge"

Ann Rodgers penned a good piece for yesterday's P-G about the experience of Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh at the March for Life in Washington, D.C.

The article was noticed over at Whispers in the Loggia. Additionally, Whispers' Rocco had this to say about Bishop Zubik's excellent homily at his installation Mass last year:

If 2007 could boast just one standout homily from an American prelate, the prize would belong to Pittsburgh.

Lasting all of 15 minutes at its core, Bishop David Zubik's off-the-cuff homecoming message at his late September installation (fulltext/video) was the sort of encouraging challenge an incoming pastor could only give to a people he already knew and loved... and who already knew and loved him.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Praying for Life

I am in Washington, D.C., today for the March for Life. I've been to the March several years in the past but last night, for the first time, I attended the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. It was packed! The Mass began at 7 p.m. but there wasn't a seat left after about 4 p.m. Thousands (including yours truly) stood or sat on the floor for hours waiting for Mass to begin.

Here's what the scene looked like:

Please keep all of those at the March in your prayers today. It's cold out there.

And, please pray that the March may help build a Culture of Life in our world.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Behold the Lamb of God

In the Gospel at Mass today, we again hear from John the Baptist (pictured in the mosaic above).

John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’ I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel.”

John testified further, saying, “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and remain upon him. I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”

Saturday, January 19, 2008

You Go, Glenn!

Three cheers to Glenn Johnson of the Associated Press for challenging Mitt Romney's claim that there aren't lobbyists running his campaign. Here's the video:

Note to Glenn: Don't sit on the floor the next time you decide to challenge the bogus assertions of a presidential candidate.

Note to the Romney media team: It's lame to hold a press conference at Staples.

Hat-tips: The Darn News and Sully.

Ron Paul on CNN

Congressman Ron Paul was interviewed yesterday on CNN. He addresses President Bush's economic stimulus proposal in the interview.

Check it out:

Hat-tip: Ben.

One South Carolina Voter

Over at Save The GOP, Sam Berninger explains his vote in today's South Carolina Republican presidential primary. Saturday voting must have clouded his thinking -- he went with Fred.

Sam's a fellow veteran of the campaign trenches in Western PA. We knocked on doors together in both the 'burgh and Washington County.

In addition to his work at Save The GOP, Sam maintains an excellent journal of public affairs in his new locale at Carolina Politics Online.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bella Luna

For this week's "YouTube musical clip for a peaceful weekend," below is Jason Mraz with "Bella Luna."

Pace e Bene:

National Vocation Awareness Week

For U.S. Catholics, January 13 to 19 is National Vocation Awareness Week, a week for heightened prayer and work for the discernment of vocations -- particularly to the priesthood and to religious life (as a permanent deacon, brother, sister or nun).

Since moving to New York some 11 months ago, I have been mostly going to Sunday Mass at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle on Manhattan's West Side -- the mother church of the Paulist Fathers. The Paulists, founded 150 years ago in 1858, were the first order of Catholic priests to be founded in the United States.

Here's the latest offering from their vocations department:

An aside: the Paulists' vocations director, Fr. Ed Nowak, is a native of Crafton, PA, outside the 'burgh.

And, Monsignor Ed Burns, the executive director of the U.S. Catholic Bishops' vocations office, is a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. In fact, he served at both Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Burgettstown, PA, and at Immaculate Conception Church in WashPA.

Faith, Freedom and Bling

Maureen Dowd's column in yesterday's New York Times, "Faith, Freedom and Bling in the Middle East," is worth a look. It's from her travels this week with President Bush to that region.

One passage:

Though W. has made the issue of the progress of women in the Middle East a central part of “the freedom agenda” — he had a roundtable over the weekend with Kuwaiti women on democracy and development — he doesn’t seem bothered that 17 years after his father protected the Saudis when Saddam invaded Kuwait, Saudi women still can’t drive or publicly display hair or skin and still get beheaded and lashed because of archaic laws. Neither does the female secretary of state of the United States.

"It’s not allowed for ladies to use the gym,” the Marriott desk clerk told me, an American woman in an American franchise traveling with an American president.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Seasons of Love

For anyone not familiar with "Seasons of Love" from "Rent," here it is from the film version:

930,180 Minutes

And, on the other side of the musical spectrum from the PNH (see below), it was announced yesterday that "Rent" is closing after 12 years on Broadway at the Nederlander Theater (pictured above).

Campbell Robertson's
lead in today's New York Times story on the news:

Nine hundred thirty thousand, one hundred eighty minutes.

That’s how you measure the total running time “Rent” will have played on Broadway when, as the producers said on Tuesday, it closes after its evening performance on June 1, making it the seventh-longest-running Broadway show in history.

I knew "Rent" had entered the mainstream one night in early 2006 when, on the campaign trail during my last State House race, I heard "Seasons of Love" performed at an old-fashioned Grange dinner in Bavington, a little village in Robinson Township, Washington County, PA.

"Do all these blue hairs know what this show is about?," I wondered to myself.

The photo above from the
NYTimes Website is credited to Hiroko Masuike.

Less Poverty in Pittsburgh

Western Pennsylvania's famous, young-sounding country band, The Poverty Neck Hillbillies, has fractured. The group's break-up will leave a hole in many Pittsburgh-area shows -- including McSummerfest back home in McDonald.

For a listen, check out the Hillbillies on MySpace.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Big Think

Big Think debuted this week. It's sort of an academic-oriented take-off on YouTube. One the site's first interviewees is the great playwright and actress Anna Deavere Smith who teaches at my alma mater, NYU.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Laughing with the Saints

For another offering from Fr. Jim Martin, S.J., who last week responded to Joy Behar's ill-informed humor on the saints, here is a good video from GodTube:

Adoro Te Devote

Some chant for Monday morning compliments of Love To Be Catholic:

To see the Latin words spelled out and a translation, go to The Anchoress.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Expecting More

Last night, Anthony, Heather and I checked out the movie "Charlie Wilson's War." It's the true story of a U.S. Congressman from Texas who, in the 1980s, steered hundreds of millions of U.S. tax dollars into covert C.I.A. operations in Afghanistan against the invading Soviet army.

"Charlie Wilson's War" boasts an A-list cast, including Tom Hanks in the title role and Julia Roberts as Joanne Herring, a politically-active Houston socialite who lobbies for the funding. Phillip Seymour Hoffman portrays Gust Avrakotos, a colorful C.I.A. agent on the Afghanistan desk.

(Pittsburgh connection alert: According to Wikipedia, Avrakotos was born in Aliquippa, PA, attended Pitt and Carnegie Tech and later retired to Moon Township.)

"Charlie Wilson's War" was reasonably entertaining but not a blow-away. With direction from Academy Award-winner Mike Nichols and a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin ("The West Wing"), I had expected more -- a political movie more on par with Nichols' superb 1998 film "Primary Colors." There were some holes in the script and the ending was too schmaltzy.

Hanks and Roberts both turned in adequate performances but didn't break any new ground. Hoffman was brilliant, as always, and vanished into the role.

I'm not certain if this was meant to be a message film or not. Certainly, it did raise a lot of questions about U.S. intervention in foreign affairs. But, I'm not sure it fully delivered on the promise to show how the C.I.A. involvement in Afghanistan in the '80s contributed to the rise of the Taliban in that country -- and all of the problems that entailed.

My recommendation? Wait for the DVD. "Charlie Wilson's War" would make a good movie for a wintry Saturday night at home on the couch.

Baptism of the Lord

Today, Catholics and Anglicans celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, which we consider to be the final day of the Christmas season in the liturgical year. (So, it's OK if you still have your tree and decorations up.)

Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.

John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?”

Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”

Then he allowed him.

After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him.

And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

An aside: To see Franco Zeffirelli's depiction of Jesus' baptism from the television epic, "Jesus of Nazareth," go to The Deacon's Bench.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

To Risk Things

Some food for thought:

I believe that what is important today is that we uncover the violence within us and discover that under the violence there is something very beautiful. One of the questions that always comes up is, "What do we fear?" One of the questions that I like to ask all the people of our communities is, "What are you most frightened of? Is it fear of not being respected? Is it fear of being put aside? Is it fear of not being loved? Is it fear of death?" What is that we're frightened of? Because from fear and anguish can rise hate and from hate can rise war.

We must learn how to look into our fears because we cannot let ourselves be controlled by fear. We have to look our fears right in the face and we can't always do it by ourselves. We need to be helped, because if we can't look death and failure in the face, well, then we can never live because to live means to risk, to do things, to have projects which might fail, which might go wrong. We cannot be totally secure for everything; we must discover inside ourselves this power that we have been given to receive the Holy Spirit, not alone, but with others in community, to decide to go forward and to risk things.

The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us and then we see that the whole vision of Jesus is bringing people together.

-- Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche, an international network of communities for the mentally disabled.

The Brits

You gotta love the Brits:

This short film shows 100 people, age one to 100, striking a drum:

Hat-tip: Andrew Sullivan.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Greg Hopkins for the Pennsylvania House

Greg Hopkins today announced that he's going to make a second run for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from the 50th Legislative District, which is literally the southwest corner of the Keystone State (the district includes all of Greene County with small parts of Washington and Fayette counties).

In 2006, Greg, pictured, came within just a few percentage points of defeating the district's longtime incumbent.

I had the opportunity to meet Greg several times on the '06 campaign trail when I also was a State House candidate in Washington County. Greg was a fine candidate then and I'm sure he will be again. He's a Morris Township auditor, farmer and community activist. For 11 years, Greg also was an arena football player, most notably for the Los Angeles Avengers.

Best wishes, Greg! Thank you to you and your team for again committing to the rigors of a State House campaign! Thank you for the time, energy and funds you will invest in the race.

For more background, here is Greg's 2006 campaign commercial:

No Favoritism

It snowed in Baghdad today. From the Associated Press report at MSNBC:

For a couple of hours anyway, a city where mortar shells routinely zoom across to the Green Zone became united as one big White Zone. As of late afternoon, there were no reports of violence. The snow showed no favoritism as it fell faintly on neighborhoods Shiite and Sunni alike, and (with apologies to James Joyce) upon all the living and the dead.

Praise be to God.

Crash Into Me

For this week's "YouTube musical clip for a peaceful weekend," I've selected one of my all-time favorites: "Crash Into Me" by The Dave Matthews Band.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Saintly Smack Down

Over at In All Things, the blog for America magazine, Fr. Jim Martin, S.J., has delivered a smack down to Joy Behar of "The View" after Behar made the stupid comment that there aren't saints in the world today -- and the old saints only existed because "they didn't have any Thorazine to calm them down."

Fr. Jim is the author of "My Life with the Saints" and "A Jesuit Off-Broadway."

Hat-tip: The Anchoress

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Long, Hard Work

There's an interesting post over at The Crossed Pond entitled "The Night of Suck" that is similar to how I feel today regarding the results out of yesterday's New Hampshire primary.

One passage:

We have the consolation of knowing that Dr. Paul ran almost twice as strong among young voters as he did among the primary electorate as a whole. The future of the Republican Party can STILL belong to Ron Paul’s successors, if we make it happen. But it will not be as simple as buying a blimp. We have to go through the long, hard work of changing hearts and minds. The people are not with us. Until that changes, nothing else we do will make a difference.

The Business Boomlet in Bellevue

For all you Western Pennsylvanians and/or anyone who loves small towns:

FOP* Heidi Price has a fragrant story over at Pop City about new businesses in the neat little town of Bellevue just north of the 'burgh.

* Friend o' Paul

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Morning Prayer for the Primary

May God bless the good citizens of New Hampshire today as they cast their ballots in the first in the nation presidential primary.

For inspiration -- Morning Prayer in monastic Gregorian chant:

Hat-tip: Love To Be Catholic via The Anchoress

Equal Time from Jay Leno

Jay likes him, too:

Ron Paul with Wolf Blitzer

Yeah, he's a little nutty. But, I still like him. No one else is questioning our systems. No one else is digging this deep and exploring root causes of our national challenges. He's pushing the buttons that need to be pushed in the GOP primary.

Wolf Blitzer interviews Ron Paul:

Monday, January 07, 2008

Juno Chooses Life

Friday night, we saw "Juno." For a plot synopsis and description of the characters, go here.

I liked it. Maybe not quite as much as Robert Ebert, but I liked it.

The pacing was good. The characters were well-portrayed. The soundtrack was enjoyable. And, it had Allison Janney (what more could a former "West Wing" junkie ask?).

What most intrigues me about "Juno" is that it's the second Hollywood offering of '07 that really has a pro-life message. Like "Knocked Up," it shows a current-day young woman faced with an unexpected pregnancy choosing life over abortion.

And, it does so in a humorous, engaging, non-preachy way.

Furthermore, "Juno" explores how adoption can be a good, viable alternative. Thumbs up to that.

Note: "Juno" also was #1 on Sr. Rose's Top 10 of 2007.

John Mayer, the Mac Guy & Ron Paul

Even John Mayer likes Ron Paul:

(That's the Apple commercials "Mac guy" he's trying to persuade, by the way.)

Hat-tip: Megan McArdle

Sunday, January 06, 2008


In many Christian traditions, today is the Feast of the Epiphany -- the day we recall the visit of The Magi a.k.a. the Three Kings a.k.a. the The Wise Men to the Infant Jesus.

The Gospel at Mass is from Matthew Chapter 2:

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”

When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.

He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.”

After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.

They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother.

They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.

The image above shows the 1825 oil on wood painting "Journey of the Magi" by the Austrian artist Leopold Kupelwieser (1796 - 1862).


And sadness blankets Steelers' country.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Happy 1st, Molly!

Greetings go out today to Molly Ray Welch of Houston, PA, who earlier today celebrated her 1st birthday. Happy Birthday, Molly!

Check out the Welch Family Blog for scenes and a video from the festivities.

Flashbacks here and here.

Better Together

For this week's "YouTube musical clip for a peaceful weekend," below is "Better Together" by Jack Johnson.

Pace e Bene:

Thursday, January 03, 2008

A New Era in Washington County

A new era began yesterday back home in Washington County, Pennsylvania, when Steve Toprani, a 29-year-old Republican, was sworn in as the county's district attorney.

God speed, Steve, as you work to restore honor to the D.A.'s office. And, thank you for your public service.

Check out the Washington Co. GOP's blog for all the latest.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Adam Curry

A memo to fellow children of the '80s:

Remember MTV VJ Adam Curry? He's backing Ron Paul:

L.A. Travelogue #2

Quick L.A. note:

We had a hearty breakfast this morning at The Original Pantry Cafe, the restaurant owned by this city's former GOP Mayor Richard Riordon:

Tomorrow, I leave the sunshine and warm temperatures behind for the wintery breeze on 15th Street.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Auld Lang Syne

Happy New Year 2008!

For your listening pleasure, here is "Auld Lang Syne" by Barenaked Ladies:

Hat-tip: Ed.