Thursday, October 10, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday, #1 (Thursday just doesn't have that alliteration...)

So I've been thinking about this What I'm Reading Wednesday thing Liz keeps doing, and, knowing that I wouldn't actually write anything unless I committed myself by telling her yesterday, guess what I did? So I'm cutting my usual lunchtime tv break short and actually exercising my brain a bit...

1. Dear and Glorious Physician by Taylor Caldwell

My mom has been mentioning this book and how much she enjoyed reading for about as long as I can remember, so it's continually been on the back burner throughout my life--much like how, when I first watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail, I felt like the Black Knight was a beloved but deceased family member, based on how many times Dad had told hist story.

Apart from her completely inspecific high praise, however, I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this book. I was hooked by about page 15 (of 600), and could hardly put it down from that point forward! (Warning: minute spoilers ahead)

Beginning in Lucanus' childhood, Caldwell weaves a thoroughly-researched (even if fictional), compelling biography. Her characters remind you that, while God revealed himself fully to the Jews, there were always Gentiles aware of his existence; you also see the way that one man could impact the world, even without television or internet. Cultural prejudices are shown in what seems to me to be a realistic manner... and the familiar gospel stories are woven into the text and the lives of its characters so well!

Apart from one obvious misinterpretation that belies her Protestant theology (but what else should one expect re: the Eucharist?), and the silly insistence upon describing both Jesus and Mary as golden-haired and pale-skinned, I recommend this book very whole-heartedly. I can barely imagine how I managed to live so long and never have anyone else trying to sell me on reading it!

NB: Probably not for younger than teenagers, based on just a scene or two. Important ones, though.

TL;DR: If you're over 16 and a Catholic, how on earth have you managed not to read this book yet!?!? Do it. Seriously.

2. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, read by Anne Hathaway

As an American born in the late 20th century, of course I know the film version of the Wizard of Oz quite well. So when this came in Audible's "Daily Deal," I decided to give it a go, having been quite pleased with previous titles in their A-List Collection, and being curious about what the film adapted from the original text.

This was no exception! Hathaway's narrator voice did make me feel like I was participating in Storytime with the Queen of Genovia—which was definitely not a negative feature!—and the sheer range of accents, lisps, and other vocal tricks she used to differentiate the many characters was quite effective and impressive. I always knew who was speaking before they were identified, even the bit parts.

TL;DR: Great story, superbly narrated, and fun to revisit!

3. Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions by Neil Gaiman

Upon the high recommendation of some friends whose artistic taste I quite respect, I started to read some Neil Gaiman novels—mostly via Audible, where he narrates his own stories. He's excellent at blurring the line between fantasy and reality, and also remarkably good at creepy. His bad guys, for instance, aren't just evil—they actually make your skin crawl with their, well, creepiness. Clearly my own articulation skills pale in comparison. :)

Anyway, my parents, with unexpected coordination, combined their powers and got me this book of his short stories, and they've been just fascinating! I've been reading just one nearly every day, which gives me plenty of time to digest each one. Because he doesn't have the taboos my moral code gives me re: sex, it's a lot more prevalent (and sometimes more depraved) than what I would otherwise expose myself to—which turns out to be quite okay in small doses, and thought-provoking.

TL;DR: Fascinating, slightly outside my comfort zone, enjoyable, completely unique. I'm a fan.

So, uhh... I guess there are more of these on Jessica's blog? Whoo!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Reason #583.6 Why I Love Terry Pratchett

A brief quotation from his 2007 novel Making Money (yes, the footnote—the whole purpose of this post—is found in the book itself). The context here is an argumentative sort of town hall meeting.

"As' chairman of the, Merchant's' Guild gentlemen may, I point out that these thing's represent a valuable labor force in this' city—" said Mr. Robert Parker.*

*As a member of the Ancient and Venerable Order of Greengrocers, Mr. Parker was honor-bound never to put his punctuation in the right place.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


This message appeared tonight when I opened my browser:

Read that top line again. 
I know Google is notorious for pranks, but I'm not sure I believe this is one...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Thirty Days Prayer to St Joseph

Ever blessed and glorious St. Joseph, kind and loving father, and helpful friend of all in sorrow! Thou art the good father and protector of orphans, the defender of the defenseless, the patron of those in need and sorrow. Look kindly on my request. My sins have drawn down on me the just displeasure of my God, and so I am surrounded with unhappiness. To thee, O loving guardian of the Family of Nazareth, do I go for help and protection. 

Listen, then, I beg of thee, with fatherly concern, to my earnest prayers, and obtain for me the favor I ask. (Here make your request.)

I ask it by the infinite mercy of the Eternal Son of God, which moved Him to take our nature and to be born into this world of sorrow. 

I ask it by the weariness and suffering thou didst endure when thou didst find no shelter at the inn of Bethlehem for the Holy Virgin, nor a place where the Son of God could be born. Then, being everywhere refused, thou hadst to allow the Queen of Heaven to give birth to the world’s Redeemer in a cave. 

I ask it by the loveliness and power of that sacred Name, Jesus, which thou didst confer on the adorable Infant. I ask it by that painful torture thou didst feel at the prophecy of holy Simeon, which declared the Child Jesus and His holy Mother future victims of our sins and of their great love for us. 

I ask it through thy sorrow and pain of soul when the Angel declared to thee that the life of the Child Jesus was sought by His enemies. From their evil plan thou hadst to flee with Him and His Blessed Mother into Egypt. I ask it by all the suffering, weariness and labors of that long and dangerous journey. 

I ask it by all thy care to protect the Sacred Child and His Immaculate Mother during thy second journey, when thou wert ordered to return to thine own country. 

I ask it by thy peaceful life in Nazareth, where thou didst meet with so many joys and sorrows. I ask it by thy great distress when the adorable Child was lost to thee and His Mother for three days. 

I ask it by thy joy at finding Him in the Temple, and by the comfort thou didst find at Nazareth, while living in the company of the Child Jesus. I ask it by the wonderful submission He showed in His obedience to thee. 

I ask it by the perfect love and conformity thou didst show in accepting the Divine order to depart from this life and from the company of Jesus and Mary. 

I ask it by the joy which filled thy soul when the Redeemer of the world, triumphant over death and Hell, entered into the possession of His kingdom and led thee into it with special honors. 

I ask it through Mary’s glorious Assumption and through that endless happiness thou hast with her in the presence of God. 

O good Father! I beg of thee, by all thy sufferings, sorrows and joys, to hear me and obtain for me what I ask. (Here mention your petitions or think of them.) 

Obtain for all those who have asked my prayers everything that is useful to them in the plan of God. Finally, my dear Patron and Father, be with me and all who are dear to me in our last moments, that we may eternally sing the praises of Jesus, Mary and Joseph! 

A blameless life, O St. Joseph, may we lead, by thy kind patronage from danger freed. Amen.

Thirty Days Prayer to St. Joseph

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Hymn for the Pope: Long Live the Pope!

Can be sung to the tune of I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say

Long live the Pope! His praises sound
Again and yet again:
His rule is over space and time;
His throne the hearts of men:
All hail! the Shepherd King of Rome,
The theme of loving song:
Let all the earth his glory sing,
And heav'n the strain prolong,

Beleaguered by the foes of earth,
Beset by hosts of hell,
He guards the loyal flock of Christ,
A watchful sentinel:
And yet, amid the din and strife,
The clash of mace and sword,
He bears alone the shepherd staff,
This champion of the Lord.

His signet is the Fisherman's;
No sceptre does he bear;
In meek and lowly majesty
He rules from Peter's Chair:
And yet from every tribe and tongue,
From every clime and zone,
Three hundred million voices sing,
The glory of his throne.

Then raise the chant, with heart and voice,
In church and school and home:
"Long live the Shepherd of the Flock!
Long live the Pope of Rome!"
Almighty Father, bless his work,
Protect him in his ways,
Receive his prayers,
fulfill his hopes,
And grant him "length of days."

Hymn from the St Gregory Hymnal, Complete Edition, 1947
Words by Hugh T. Henry, (C) 1908 J. Fischer & Bro., slightly alt.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

7 Quick Takes: I will probably never post one of these on a Friday again Edition

I know, I know! It's not Friday. Fridays are increasingly inconvenient. However, Liz and Sana both posted this week, and I have been feeling generally uncommunicative of late, so...

1. I live in Queens now! It's amazing how very different it is to live 30m from Midtown Manhattan by subway, as opposed to 45m by bus...

2. By "the city," everyone in this area means not just NYC, but Manhattan. Lifelong Queens residents I've met here refer to "going into the city" for a night out or some such thing, even though they already live in NYC.

3. I work north of the city and live east, so I have to pass through the city to get home. This makes it wildly convenient for me to attend a lecture / special Mass / meetup at a bar / dinner with friends on my way home from work. I've been here two weeks and already done all those things. I've missed life moving at this pace. :)

4. I spend 2-2.5h (round trip) commuting every day, depending on the train schedules. That sounds crazy, I know, but between doing my makeup on the train, iBreviary, my rosary,, and my smartphone, I'm pretty much fine. (I've considered mobile blogging, actually, but my phone's software just upgraded itself, and the new autocorrect feature is really dumb.) I get in the occasional phone call, but there half an hour smack in the middle of my commute when I'm underground, which is slightly inconvenient to say the least.

5. I popped a fuse today in my apartment! My problem was that I was trying to boil water in the hot pot AND toast an English muffin in my toaster oven AT THE SAME TIME! Shocking, I know. The joys living in an old building, eh?

6. But habemus internet! After only two weeks of calling Verizon at least every other day... Turns out, all I had to do was disregard what all the people on the phone said and let the technician come here and connect things outside my place for nearly an hour.

7. And, because I haven't used an image yet for this post, I give you a tie for the week's best memes from facebook. The first would actually have been better as an old-fashioned chain email or something, where you see all the text first and the image last, but ah well!

Seriously, what did we do before the internet? I love people. :D

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Fun Fact

I've been a New Yorker for less than a week, and already I've joined two choirs.

Ridiculous much? :)

Monday, February 11, 2013

On the Papal Resignation: Words of Comfort

...because what the world needs is another blogger posting her two cents. Still, here I am.

After the initial shock of this news resided, I looked back over papal/curial decisions in recent months and could see that some of these may well have been Papa Benny preparing for his own departure (for I am certain this decision was long-discerned).

And then I felt ashamed of my lack of virtue. My fear betrayed that my great love for and trust in the holy father laid not in the Vicar of Christ nor in the Holy Spirit but in Joseph Ratzinger. Surely this great man has been an inspiration to me personally, and has had great impact on my life, but ought I not to have more faith in the Holy Spirit Himself!? At the very least, should my unshakable faith in our dear Papa not extend to trusting his decisions?

I readily admit that the sorrow at the loss of such a wonderful pope has not sunk in yet at all. But it is natural to look to the future, and in this vein, I offer a few thoughts of comfort.

-The Church has had a possibly unprecedented string of holy (arguably saintly) popes in the past hundred years or so. This seems to be something that most Catholics value (save those who take it for granted).

-That doctrine your friends/family/co-workers are hoping will be changed with the next pope? No danger of that happening.

-You know that cardinal whose name people keep mentioning, but you think he'd be a terrible pope because of XYZ? You can be sure that other cardinals, who are paying much more attention to each other than you are, have noticed said character flaw (or whatever) in his person, even if your Catholic friends or well-known journalists don't. I wouldn't be too concerned.

And even if the next pope is a man whose election concerns you, perhaps you can take some comfort in this legend I heard in a lecture in grad school:

Back in the heyday of the Arian controversy, there was an influential queen who reeeeeally wanted Church teaching changed to the Arian position (because obviously her opinion was the correct one). So she schemed and whatnot, and sure enough, when the pope died, and her right-hand man, a prominent Arian bishop, was elected to be his successor. which time this devoted Arian pulled a complete 180 and supported the true doctrine of Jesus' divinity.

Pope St Celestine V, pray for us, for Pope Benedict, and for the man who will be our next pope.
Holy Spirit, increase my trust in you.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

On Super Bowl Commercials and Sexism

This is not meant to be a full-blown post. Just my two cents on a discussion that, this time, confuses me as much as it frustrates me.

This Audi commercial is one that I enjoyed, though not enough to rank it in my top ten yesterday:

The internets* are all incensed because of this commercial, which is apparently about a high schooler going up to a girl he doesn't know at all and forcing a kiss on her without her consent.

I don't know about you, but that's not the story I saw.

I saw a self-conscious kid who finally got up the guts to announce his feelings to the friend he's had a crush on for months (or years)... a kid to whom his new black eye doesn't matter at all, in the exhilaration of a long-awaited risk finally taken, and in the excited hope that it might have paid off.

And you know what? I'm okay with that message. Sure, I think a kiss is not the ideal way to open such a conversation, but he manned up and made his intentions known, leaving the decision in her hands. Some days, that sounds like a dream come true!

This video leaves a lot to be inferred, much of which reflects more on the viewer than the directors. For those particularly sensitive to misogyny, I can see how this could be upsetting. But I simply cannot believe that their read of the situation is the more plausible one.

*Or at least the corner of the internets that I've been inhabiting lately...

Monday, February 4, 2013

Top 10 Super Bowl Commercials

So... I've been failing miserably at my plan to blog... but as I usually enjoy the Super Bowl commercials as much as the game itself, I present to you a Special Edition! My favorites from last night's game. The best ones are, of course, at the bottom, so if you have a limited attention span, skip down to the really good ones rather than wasting your time on pretty good. :)

Most Honorable Mention: Gangnam style pistachios: Well executed, and smart, even if it wasn't one of my favorites. You know someone had to do it.

10. - I'll be honest, half of why I'm listing this is because it was a clever commercial in and of itself, but half (or more) is because GoDaddy actually managed to produce a non-smutty commercial. I think that actually deserves some appreciation in light of their history.

9. BlackBerry could use the product makeover, and the good press. As a former BlackBerry user, I appreciate this commercial, and wish them the best of luck with their new product.

8. Mercedes's Deal with the Devil idea well cleverly executed, down to the actual Latin on the contract!

7. This pair of Century 21 ads had great potential to be stupid and annoying; I was rather surprised to find them entertaining!

6. The ending just makes this Tide commercial. All's fair in love and sports, eh?

5. Continuing on the theme of sports fan commercials, these Bud Light ones tied in the New Orleans voodoo tradition. While I don't recommend the practice of voodoo, I know just enough crazy sports fans to see that these are pretty spot on!

4. I can't even remember the last time I saw a Milk Moustache commercial! This was fun.

3. An M&M singing Meatloaf, with pictures to match. Keepin' it classy, M&M.

2. Oreo Whisper Fight! Remember how everyone listened to the librarian when she shushed us as kids? Well played, Oreo.

1. But the favorite? Taco Bell! A great idea, well executed, and memorable (even if perhaps more memorable for elements other than product placement).

Bonus! This one technically didn't count as a commercial, since it was just a CBS spot, but my family enjoyed it. Sadly, the image preview spoils the surprise, but it was still well done.

In case you have desire to see more, I also give honorable mentions to Audi, Sketchers, Best Buy, Axe, Pepsi Next, Kia, ToyotaVolkswagen, and Hyundai.

Hope y'all had a fun Super Bowl Sunday (even if you spent it avoiding the game itself)! Back soon, I promise...
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