Monday, July 31, 2006

Le Chasseur Maudit sighted!; Josepha goes barefoot

This exclusive photograph provides a rare glimpse of the man known by some as Le Chasseur Maudit and by others as Jonathon or Johnathan. The red arrow points to the visage of this infamous reporter, as he apparently embraces and holds hands with a young woman while both gaze romantically off into the distance. Sources have confirmed the young woman in the picture to be no other than Josepha Bertolini, recently the subject of an article on Le Chasseur Maudit's Academy News. The blue arrow indicates Miss Bertolini's bare feet; the fact that she eschews shoes has fueled speculation that she has paid extravagant sums to Jonathon in order to advertise her blog on the Academy News website.


Well, we cut in the last shot of Chorus last night, and the film clocks in at nearly 3 hours. Since max running time has been specified as 1 hr, 50 min, we have our work cut out for us, so to speak.

Anyway, otherwise things are going well. 27 days and counting to premiere. We can do this.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

An Apology for Liturgical music and High Standards

As a one of a kind event, I now propose to post for a second
consecutive day. Before I go further, I apologize for the lengthiness of this post. I will try to prevent it from happening again, but there is so much to be said. In light of the recent controversies, I am sure that if we wanted to, we could think up a few more controversies, and turn it into a forum. Anyway, I don't know what others think, but I would like to have those who respond to articles to post them as new articles, if possible. Maybe I am strange, but I prefer the discussions to be public, and easier to reference.
Today I will briefly respond to Geoff's post. I am not in total disagreement, but I did want to respond to several things that he had to say. First, I must acknowledge that too many Traditionalist Catholics are prone to being critical, suspicious, and even holier-than-though. Sad
to say, the aforementioned type of Catholic seems to focus on problems in the Church, failings of Bishops and priests, and even to finding and maintaining all kinds of ridiculous conspiracy theories concerning the Papacy and Church. Needless to say, they are as true a bane to the good
of the Church as are those liberals who care about nothing but making the Church an instrument of social justice. One minor caveat I do have to say is that damaging as they may be, and wrong as they may be, such problematic Traditionalists have one benefit; that they do want to restore much of what the Church has lost. This is perhaps small recompense for the trouble they cause, but I think that I prefer them to liberals as an influence in the Church. That being said, I think that objectively speaking, a person who acts in such a way has more to answer for in relation to his disobedience and lack of charity. Such a person has real knowledge of the true and the good (in theory) and in deviating from it are worse off than those who don't know better. That was slightly longer than I intended, but onto the next lengthy point. I suppose I need to make up for the lack of posts that I have put on here in the past. I thought Geoff's image about sitting on the edge of the Bark of Peter especially apt, and rather clever, in fact. I do want to say that I think a major point missing from his comparison of the Novus Ordo and Tridentine masses is their organic nature. Whatever beef (unintended humor) you may have with the Tridentine mass, it grew naturally, for the mostpart, from the first masses of the Apostles. The vestments, the liturgical gestures, the postures, etc., all arose out of contact with the civilizations surrounding Christianity, but were incorporated slowly and with care for the liturgy. A brief comparison of the Eastern and Western Rite liturgies with ancient Jewish liturgical practice shows very much in common among all three. (It would take far too long to describe these, but many similarities, especially in structure and language, exists.) The uniformity of the Western Rite arose because the many 'rites’ or usages within it dropped their practices in the face of Protestant revolt, to demonstrate loyalty to Rome. However, the Roman Liturgy had been since the 400's that upon which others were based. In fact, much of the liturgy as we know it was in place at that point in
history and had to be restored to Rome after Barbarian raids on the city by Frankish visitors. At any rate, the liturgy of Pius V was primarily a codification of the existing norms from the times of Gregory the Great. This lengthy deviation from the topic, so I hope, demonstrates the organic nature of the Tridentine mass. The new mass, however, was a significant deviation from long standing liturgical practice. Many of the elements central to the Novus Ordo (Vernacular, ad Populam, lay interaction, etc.,) may have been extant in the Early Church, but as the new generation of liturgical experts failed to note, were mostly phased out early on in liturgical history because they were not most fitting for the liturgy. These experts, following Hans Kung and other liberal/liberation theologians, even denied that the Liturgy should be sacral and removed from contemporary culture in any way. They explicitly desired to make the Mass like ordinary life and society: simplistic, ordinary, convivial, and comfortable to a generation of uncomfortable Catholics. Keep in mind that these same theologians also felt free to deny various principles of Catholic Dogma, including but not limited to Papal Authority, Church teaching on abortion and contraception. Others of their persuasion openly rejoiced at "Hootenanny" and folk masses. There is, sadly, a clear correspondence between the implementation of the Novus Ordo as we know it, and the liberal and dissident theologies plaguing the Church to this day. That being said, I do want to reiterate that this does not in one whit hange the nature of the Mass itself, nor could such changes ever do so unless formal and material changes to the nature of the Mass itself. I do believe and hold that said changes were hasty and ill-advised (both literally and idiomatically), and that the resulting liturgy, especially with its looser guidelines, proves all too open to human manipulation and desacralization. Lastly, I wish to say something about music. (Minor deviation: Not all the applications of symbolism to vestments were after the fact. The
Sabbath did pre-exist man, after all. Jewish priests wore holy robes, and the cincture or belt or rope has been a symbol of purity since before Christ.) This is truly the gist of my disagreement with Geoff, though I strongly suspect it is more in practice than principle. First, lamentable as it may be, there is the standing joke in choir--any choir, not just ours--about the singing of the congregation. I say that this is for the sake of humor; the choir is human and needs to laugh, especially when faced with its own insufficiencies. In truth we all tend to do this in any circumstance, comparing ourselves to that which is below us. While this is often wrong, and does often stem from pride, it is not malicious. Nor is it aimed at anyone in the congregation or any person at all. As I said it is much more of a way of relieving stress. Again, this is not to deny that musical snobbery does not exist, nor that choirs or choir members are not human and subject to pride. This post has gone on too long; I only hope someone may read it and debate points or find
relief of mental stress. To conclude: some kind of musical snobbery is necessary. Especially since 1968 (which Pope Benedict calls the "second Enlightenment") the musical standards for the liturgy, never high in this country, have died and headed south. Or west. Anywhere but here. But, since ancient times, even the very earliest days of the Church, music (psalms, hymns, etc.) have been an integral part of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Thus, to love true liturgy, which Pope Benedict said is the source of the fortunes of the Church, is to love liturgical music. And
to love is to hold to a high standard, for even so we are held to high standards by our own Creator and Redeemer. There must always be someone to hold others to a higher standard, whether as ruler or authority of any sort. These figures are frequently reviled and held to contempt by others, quite possibly due to the relativism and individualism of our day. Nonetheless, in holding the liturgy and its music to a high standard and trying to help and promote it wherever possible, such people do a necessary and good service. This does not excuse intellectual pride and belittling of others by such people, yet it does not excuse them from duty, and certainly should not (as such) be a cause for criticism of the same people. As a sacristan, member of choir and schola, as well as a Traditionalist and faithful Catholic, I thus defend
myself. God bless, and please respond if you have any comments or questions.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Divine Retribution.

The Christendom world is abuzz with this new video game rule. Personally, I'm withholding judgement on the whole situation for the moment.

However, there is one possible explanation for this scourge. It is punishment from God for burning the Wall Flower. Men (who shall not be named) did this heinous deed, and now they are being punished. Perhaps a prophet will appear wandering up and down 134 Christendom Drive at 12 miles an hour, calling for repentance, sackloth and ashes, and fasting. Or, if everything we learned at that blessed institution is false and the Aztecs were right, maybe there will be a sudden demand for human sacrifice to atone for the burning of the wallflower. Perhaps only then this scourge will be lifted. We must prepare...

Let's Try This Again

Here's a pic of Jon Foreman, lead singer/lyricis/lead guitarist of San Diego's sublimely awesome rock band, Switchfoot. Look more closely at him for more proof of his consummate coolness. Anyway, for any Switchfoot fans, I thought this might be a cool picture.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Texas and More

Hello, one and all. The Coloradoan has come back. Well, to tell the truth, I got back from Texas a while back. Yes, I did go down there. I went to visit Sylvia and her family, and the whole trip was wonderful. Its sole defect was its brevity--four days is too few down there. I always wondered why Texas was held to be so special, and now I know. It truly is different from the rest. I am not sure what makes it so, but everything down there has a more real feel than further north (except for the mountains, of course; those are more real than anything...). While down there, I visited the Alamo, two beautiful old Churches in downtown San Antonio; went to my first Anglican usage liturgy; and saw Pirates of the Caribbean II. Other than that, I hung around Sylvia and visited with her family, having a great time all in all.

Back on the home front, we have been cleaning house, working on home renovation and driveway restoration. Last Sunday, we celebrated my halfway birthday or something. I got a few cool things, especially books and a wireless mouse (never settle for less, if you can!) We also have been preparing for my brother Daniel's big farewell party, which is this Saturday. Today I started my thesis, and began preparations for going back to school. I will be one of the bad guys enforcing rules, so I have to go back early for blackjack training and torture qualifications.

Seriously, though, this blog has been getting controversial lately. I am not completely certain about my conclusions about the new rule that everyone appears to revile, but I know I don't quite agree with anyone either. Trust me to be unruly about that.... I will say that I think there is genuine reasoning behind it, not what Fezzick (pace Fezzick if I misrepresent you) appears to believe is the reasoning. I know that I enjoyed gaming with others in the dorm, but also that I spent way too much time gaming on my own. The same goes for movies, sad to say. I strongly believe, however that the administration and student life would be better off focusing on more serious problems and especially on uniform enforcement of rules. I know I have always been frustrated by lack of regular enforcement; some RA's enforce, others don't. For those who live by the rules, I have great pity, because everyone hates their guts, despite the fact that they are great people trying to do a job. Soon I will know how they feel, I guess. So, while I think the efforts are misdirected, I don't think they are mindless; nor do I think they are an attempt to exclude anything that could limit community. Indeed, the reasoning is that games and movies can promote community, which is why they are still allowed in common areas, while legitimately acknowledging the destructive tendencies inherent in solitary gaming/movie watching. Practically speaking, while one would wish for a more helpful way of ensuring community, there is very little one can do in the way of rules that adequately reflects this. This is the best compromise that student life could come up with, and I respect them for trying, even if I think I know better. Lastly, eighteen-year olds are some of the least mature people that I know. I certainly don't think they are adults or responsible enough to act as such, generally speaking. As such, I have no problems making them subject to laws and restrictions for their own good. Indeed, many even at Christendom do not mature in four years of having great ideas and community life thrown at them. And then one more lastly, life at Christendom has always seemed to me as a training ground for life; indeed I thought any liberal arts program had as its end to teach how to live the good life. But who lives the good life? The adult, the wise man, and I doubt any of us have reached that stage yet. In that case, those who may have reached said status are in some version of the role of philosopher-kings (we do submit ourselves to the college authorities, after all) and we should accept their mandates as for our own good. It is all too easy to recognize the need for law in theory but to disagree with any application of it that thwarts our desires. Yet the spirit of the law is meaningless if there is no practice of the law; only by observance of the law can it be said to exist. So, while I may dislike certain ways rules are applied, I cannot in good conscience disagree with them in theory or in their being applied to us.

P.S. I found a cool quote in a book of readings from St. Thomas, though of course all he has to say is wonderful. Read and ponder carefully.
He who sins through passion, sins while choosing but not through choosing; because his choosing is for him the first principle of his sin; for he is induced though passion to choose what he would not would not choose, were it not for the passion. On the other hand, he that sins through certain malice, chooses evil of his own accord and therefore his choosing, of which he has full control, is the principle of his sin; and for this reason he is said to sin through choosing. (1a. 2ae. Q. 78, a. 4)

Thomas seems to say that the choice in a sin of passion, because the sinner chooses a good that is proper to him, is not the source of sin, but rather the fact that in choosing the sinner turns away from the greatest Good and thus sins against charity. However, the sin of malice involves a choice which delinerately and knowingly foregoes the greatest good, and is thus a greater sin against charity. Thus I say with the Apostle to the Gentiles, that while Charity covers a multitude of sins, he who lacks Charity is worse than a brazen trumpet. St. Paul, St. Thomas and all ye holy Saints and Angels, pray for us sinners!

Late Night Chats

Bodoh, Joe Powell and I had our late night chat. Suffice it to say, I am in agreement with Bodoh on the subjects of movies and video games, as well as on certain rules that pertain to these. I'm also about to break my earlier promise of a non-statement and make a point about this.

First off, I write about this because I care about this. My sister is coming to Christendom as a freshman in the fall, and I honestly want her to have the best experience she could possibly have. Sometimes I worry about that, and this post will do a small bit of explaining why that is so.

In its efforts to mandate what it sees to be a proper community experience, the school often departs from the creation of rules and atmospheres conducive to true community. Rules such as the ones described are unacceptable intrusions into the personal lives of people who are essentially adults. They have that funny smell, the smell of a superficial understanding of human nature, and that particularly rank odor that arises from social experimentation.

Community will arise if we only allow it to. Some of my fondest experiences of community life on campus was sitting up late nights in the dorm with some of the best friends I'll ever make in my life. Common rooms were not a part of this experience. Video games and movies often were.

People who know me will remember that I was never a member of any cliques, nor was a game-headed loner. This is not an exposition on my greatness, but it is a statement that there are many people who are like me in the fact that they do not fit into the ideal that Christendom has concocted concerning true community life. Community comes from shared ideals, fellowship, and common ends. I would have thought that this was an obvious point, especially for the philosophy-minded Christendom administration. True community does not come from following guidelines and rules that are supposed to "foster community," by eliminating things that "distract from" community. People will join together in the bonds of friendship by nature, and others will close themselves off from the world. That is the way of it. Those who tend to join with others in community will use video games, movies, etc., for that purpose. Those who tend to close themselves off will do that with the help of these things. The school oversimplifies the complexities of these issues by assuming that if a thing is ever used as a tool against community, then that thing should be banned. Using that logic, we should ban religion, books, and thinking in general.

I'm not making a case for video games and movies as much as I am saying that the school is making an attempt to micro-manage in a damaging, even possibly sinful way. We've observed this trend in a sort of downward spiral that many of our rules and communty issues have been taking, and I think that we really need to take responsibility for our own community lives. I think it is a tribute to Christendom students that we still have a strong community, not "in spite of those wretched video games," but rather, in spite of the unneccesary and damaging regulations in this area.

As someone who is not at the moment a Christendom student, my opinion is by definition compromised in its relevance, but I think I'm entitled to a parting comment. Anyway, there you have it. I don't know how many people I represent in this viewpoint, but I also want to depart by saying that I don't wish to cause any trouble. I just think that I really do have an obligation to make this point. Thank you for your patience.

Redundancy Is Primary

I thought it well to post the following here, though my gambit says many of you will also see it elsewhere: it is a loosely-wrapped ramble about certain trends that I personally find quite problematic. Enjoy. Or don't.

As much as I like the Trid Mass in itself, I must admit to being dismayed by the number and comport of some of the attendants it attracts. They've always impressed upon me a certain "Holier-than-thou" attitude that is doubtless a reactionary response to the overwhelming disbelief of basic tenets of faith and disregard for tradition on behalf of the modern Novus Ordo crowd.

The attitude includes but is not limited to a rabid, anal-retentive stickling for exactingly perfect execution of the rite, coupled with bitter complaining when this expectation is not met. It's an overly showy display of knowledge about the Latin Rite, and a sort of conviction that the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Tridentine Mass is somehow of infinitely more infinite value than the sacrifice of the same Body and Blood of the same Christ in a Novus Ordo Mass. To put a fine point on it, it's liturgical snobbery, far more obnoxious to me than shaking the hand of my pew-mate who's been blowing his nose all during Mass.

As I said, such attitudes are no doubt rooted in reaction to abuses implemented by rogues after Vatican II, but it is not a problem with Vatican II or with the Novus Ordo in itself. While some may admit this, many of them do so grudgingly, and act like they don't believe it anyway. There is nothing intrinsically irreverent about the Novus Ordo. There is a happy medium. Don't be one of the fringe elements sitting on the gunwale of the Bark of Peter trying to counteract the irreverent and equally radical leftist contingent in the Church. Because when the Bark hits rough waters, the only ones who aren't going to be thrown off are the ones happily and safely situated in the middle, looking over the full wake of 2,000 years of composite history and tradition.

I console myself with the fact that the Trid Nazis would probably wet themselves if faced with a Greek Mass from the second century, and the raucous applause at the incorporation of a new member into the Mystical Body of Christ. It is applause rooted in a true joy and understanding of the mission of the Church that many folks seem to stifle. Or, can you imagine the first Masses said by Cyril and Methodius in the Germanic lands in the native tongue? The entire Church except the Pope seemed to hate their guts for even suggesting such a heresy. Imagine the look on the faces of the priests while perusing the rogue's gallery of scruffy characters at their Masses, rolling their eyes with a slight smile, saying to themselves, "We've got a long way to go."

It's a kind of attitude similar to the one that holds that there was no such thing as good music before the 13th Century, nor will there be good music after the 18th. Much like the history of vestments. They did not suddenly appear in all their Tridentine glory in the 12th Century. Chasubles? Where did they come from? They were just a raincoat in the early days. Only later did they lose their functionality and become emblazoned with gold wire. I guarantee St. Paul did not show up in Rome saying, "Check out this sweet fiddleback I've got." The maniple? A handkerchief for the priest to use on his runny nose during Mass. The cincture? Just a rope belt! All the symbolism was applied to these things after the fact. The Sabbath is for Man, not Man for the Sabbath. These vestments are not in themselves imbued with any intrinsic impressiveness. Yes, the garments should match the solemnity of the occasion, but we should not harbor any illusions about the history of the Tridentine Mass, as though there were no Mass before the 12th Century, nor after the 20th.

Let's not forget our rustic roots as Catholics, nor become so snobbish about our pet rite that we speak or act in a way that excludes other Catholics who have every bit of the same claim to Our Father's inheritance. It has always disturbed me exceedingly to hear the arrogance behind complaints about how the congregation sings at a Mass. The congregation is the greater number of souls at a Mass, and the choir, if it does its job, is to humbly offer its service, whether well or poorly executed, of a background in which the worshiper may more easily raise his heart and mind to God. The choir member should strive to do his best, but it is not his or her show. It is about God.

~ Geoff

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Lord of the Blings

My friend Stephen made these a few years back. This one here is FRO-do. Below are the Black Riderz, Gandalf the Black, Ghetto Bag-End, and a Legolas-like character that has no name change.

Lady in the Water (hey, you saw it coming...)

For the relative peace of the universe, I am going to steer clear of the topic of dress code, movie approval, and video gaming. Like I said, those of you who want my opinion can come have a cold beer in my apartment with me.

So, it comes to the inevitable topic of Lady in the Water. (Come on, I had to...after Emily beat me to the punch...) Plus, I sort of have a difference of opinion on this one, so it might create some good talking points about the movie's relative strengths/weaknesses. Which is all a good movie review is supposed to accomplish anyway, I guess. Also, I encourage you to not read what follows if you don't want me to give away any plot details.

I didn't like Lady in the Water. As much as it hurts me to say this, the critics really had a point this time. This is intensely difficult for me to stomach, for, as an avid fan of the entire Shyamalan canon to date, it seems that our esteemed Philadelphian was thinking that he might as well do what the critics all imagined he did, for once.

Lady in the Water claims to be a fantasy/bedtime story, and the film's animated opening sequence illustrates a decided departure from Shyamalan's previous style and substance, which one would expect from him. So far, so good. However, in order for a child's fantasy story to work as such, a departure from Shyamalan's usual habits of extreme naturalism in tone is required. From the very first live-action frame, this was not the case. The director attempts to create an extremely stylized fantasy situation in which a nymph-like creature called a narf has been sent from the "Blue World" in order to cause mankind to see more clearly. The problem lies in the simple fact that Shyamalan refuses to make the fundamental choice between the broader, more abstract strokes required for effective fanstay, and his usual strict realism. In Sixth Sense, Signs, Unbreakable, and The Village, this realism only added to their power, by taking romantic, broad situations and themes and introducing them into a setting of the strictest realism. In Lady in the Water, the two irreconcilable elements never marry. The movie feels mechanical and disjointed, and the plot never does more than simply movie the film along its set coordinates. I never felt particularly motivated or even interested in the fate of Story, Heep, or even the universe, about the fate of which we are expected to be apprehensive.

Shyamalan's beef with the critics also takes a leading role in the film, both figuratively and literally. Like many, I was unable to reconcile the director's recent battles with prominent critics over The Village with the fact that he cast himself in Lady in the Water as the misunderstood artist who was destined to save a nation. Coincidence? Believe what you like, but I am prone to doubt the objectivity (and maturity) of such a move. Especially when Shyamalan goes on to juxtapose his character with an evil film critic character, who fouls up the state of the universe before being torn to shreds by a mythical beast. Shyamalan's self-casting might be a forgivable offence, if the movie's spat with its resident buffoon/critic didn't take such a long, painful detour from the plot. I'm angry about the way the critics cast aside Shyamalan's talents, but this is simply playing into their hands.

Perfomances were more or less on the mark. Giamatti was excellent, but hell, it's Giamatti. We've come to expect no less from him Working very hard with bad dialogue and a soporific performance from Bryce Dallas Howard, he really did make the character of Cleveland Heep come alive. Shyamalan, who has about as much screen time as Howard, was servicable if not memorable. Bob Balaban could have been acceptable. Let's just say that my disappointment with him arose not from the shortcomings of his performance.

Anyway, there it is, for what it's worth. Feel free to disagree. I'm open to convincing.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Welcome to Magdalen

Hey all,
I just got back from Christendom were I heard rumors of a new rule on the books this year... No video games allowed and computer games can only be played in common rooms. Geoff, when you find out where the common room is in Frans, please let me know. We will have to move our computers so that we can have some community.

One Cool Rocker

Why in the name of all that is wholesome and green upon this earth can I not upload images onto this blessed blog?? The image uploading box thingy just "uploads" for an eternity without actually uploading anything. Why? Why does this happen? Why does man die? Why is there pain?

Sorry. My car just died, and all I wanted to do was post something on the blog. Not about the car, but something involving a picture.

Anyway, I guess you all will never know what it was.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

One Twisted Arm

Alright, at the request of Miss Sylvia I will post something.


Satisfied? No? Okay.

Well this has been a busy month for me. I went home (as my lat post said), got back, worked, went on the Face the Truth Tour with Chrissie Walsh and Defend Life, got back this week to find a pile of yearbook work to get done within the next two weeks.

For a little humor I will tell you about an on going comedy of errors. It started when I left for home. I have a nephew. A very cute nephew. A cute nephew who likes keys. I have a memory. A very bad memory. A memory that doesn't remember whether I got my keys back from my nephew or not. Anyway, my keys are temporarily misplaced (i.e. lost). Fortunately my brother had the spare key to my car. Unfortunately, the key is not well cut. We got it in and got the car started. We haven't gotten it out. So. I park my car. I leave doors unlocked. I leave key in the ignition. I wish that were all.

As it turns out, the key is stuck in such a position that my accessories are left on. That shouldn't be too much of a problem. After all, I can turn off the headlights and radio.

I can't turn off the clock.

I went on the Face the Truth tour last week. It was a great experience. Got stuck on the Amtrak for three hours when they found a package at Union Station. That's for another post.

Got back to my car. The battery was dead.

I jumped it using a bad pair of jumper cables, let it run, went to bed and got ready for work.

The battery was dead.

Woke up Colin, jumped it using the bad jumper cables, went a day and...

The battery was dead.

Fried the bad pair of jumper cables (crosswiring is never good). Borrowed new set to jump it again.

Say a prayer it will run when I go to lunch.

See you all in 3 1/2 weeks!


Monday, July 24, 2006

Lady in the Water

After going to see M. Night Shymalan's new film, "Lady in the Water," I realized I had a chance to write a review for this blog before Colin gets to it. Yay!

I enjoyed the movie very much. Don't listen to the critics--they dont' know what they're talking about because they don't know what it is supposed to be. Like Shymalan's other films, it tells the story of another world breaking into our own. In this movie, a sea nymph, or "narf" named Story is brought from her Blue World to our own in order to inspire a writer (played by the director) to pen a very important book. This narf ends up in the swimming pool of an apartment complex where the author lives, until she is discovered by Clevelend Heep, the manager and maintenance man. Her job is to deliver her message and be taken back home by a giant eagle. Hunting her is a rogue beast, called a Scrunt, a minion of the forces of evil in her world who is trying to prevent her from making it home.
It is clear from the premise that this is a fairy tale, and I think if you go expecting a fairy tale you will be very satisfied. Thematically, it is a simple story, based on a bedtime story Shymalan told his daughters to illustrate how everyone has a purpose in the drama of life, no matter how strange or unlikely this purpose seems. Cynicism, embodied by a film critic of all things, is mocked. Because of what it is, it is not as deep, complex or artsy as some of Shymalan's other films, but it clearly isn't intended to be.
THERE IS NO TWIST, nor is one intended. It drives me crazy that critics always think Shymalan is trying to make another Sixth Sense. I heard a group of people behind me at the theater all whisper, "So where was the twist?" when it was over. Argh. There are a few minor things that bugged me, that I thought could have been executed more effecitvely, like the idea of seeing messages in cereal boxes, or Story's mannerisms. But on the whole the plot is full of fairy-tale elements adapted creatively to twenty-first century Philidelphia.
Even though it is more of a family movie, cinematography is not given the short straw. The movie is beautifully and peacefully shot. The motif of water is always present with the swimming pool or sprinklers, or in the moments of calm silence where the camera watches the characters from the water, and this combined with the beautiful camera shots leaves the viewer feeling refreshed. Not all is tranquil, however; the suspense scenes of the hunt of the beast are well-crafted and exciting. Shymalan can use anything, even sprinklers, to make his audiences jump. Shymalan excels at making the mundane very humorous, and such scenes (intentionally) abound in this film. The acting ranges from solid to excellent, with the best performances coming from Paul Giamatti as Heep and Bob Balaban as the film critic.
The only reason it is PG-13 is suspense and scary images, so it is appropriate for adults, teens, and older children. It is a delightful film to watch when in the mood for a fairy tale, and I hope y'all enjoy it.

Timely advice from Julian

I would like to pass on these words of our dear and respected friend, Julian Ahlquist:

As an exceptionless norm, never ... ever ... under any circumstances ... forward anything. It is never worth it, no matter how much of the world is at stake. No matter how noble the cause may be, say to it, "Get thee behind me, Satan." Always. There is no exception. God Bless.

I just liked the way he put that. It sounds so very absolute, as indeed it should be. Nothing much is new on my end. My weekend went by too quickly, as weekends generally do now. If only whole weeks would fly by that fast! I don't mean to complain, however, as my job is exceedingly nice and nothing of a calamitous nature has happened lately. I just feel very sleepy. If you ever feel tempted to share a bed with your eight-year-old sister, don't do it. Sleep on the floor instead. That is my advice.


Thursday, July 20, 2006

One month

We can start the one month countdown now! In one month we'll be in the midst of orientation. It's hard to believe.

"Lifestyles of the Strange and Holy:" An illustrious saint had a feast day a few days ago, on the 17th. A few of us on this blog learned his interesting story whilst in Rome. On his wedding night he told his bride that he was leaving to be a hermit, and went to the desert. Strange must be a medieval thing. But when he got too famous he came back home disguised as a beggar and lived under the stairs in his house for years and years incognito (Harry Potter inspiration, perhaps?), before he died. His family did not recognize him until after he was dead. Dr. O'Donnell is right, Catholics are weird. Oh well. St. Alexius, pray for us.

Work has been great lately. I've been able to get a jumping lesson about every week, as a sort of fringe benefit. And, one of the girls who has an incredible, athletic mare took a long vacation, so I've been able to ride her whenever I have time. It is rare to have the opportunity to to train with such a nice horse for so long. The girls just finished their last show, so the riding theme now is go back to basics and get rid of any bad habits that crept in during competative training. In other words, we'll be jumping without stirrups for about a month. I don't mind though. While jumping with stirrups gives the illusion of being carried by the wind, jumping without is like being in the middle of a surging wave.

I read Bush's statements about embryonic stem cell research today. God bless the man; he hasn't won many supporters on this one, yet he is standing firm. Oh, but the bill was supported by Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, a pro-death Republican who was owes his election to the endorsement by the Catholic Rick Santorum, the same Santorum who spoke at Christendom's graduation a few years ago and encouraged students to bring their faith to the world or something. Christendom should take back its honorary degree. Anyways, it is incredible how the media thorougly masks the scientific facts of the situation, like the fact that all the successes acheived by stem cell research were from non-embryonic stem cells, even in countries without legal restrictions.

I read another medically-related article two days ago in our paper. A boy named Starchild Abraham Cherrix from Virginia was diagnosed with Hodgkins disease. He had chemo treatment and it went on remission, but it has returned. This teen has decided to try a natural treatment this time, and a social worker turned his parents in to the authorities for negligence. The parents face losing custody of their own son because they have decided to forego traditional medicine. (More here: Scary. The totalitarians in this country just get more and more brazen, and the medical field gets more and more corrupt.

Speaking of a corrupt medical field, I also read that Dr. Kavorkian's health is failing, and he probably won't live long. It would be good if we could offer up some sacrifices for his conversion. He is having some regrets about what he did, but I'm sure Satan is working hard to keep him defiant to the last. Please keep him in prayer; his would be a wonderful conversion.

Mike Powell and the Comps of Death

Hey everyone. Just thought I'd solicit prayers on behalf of Mike Powell, who is going to be taking his comprehensive exams tomorrow and Saturday. He's been studying for them all summer, and let's all throw some prayers up there to make sure we're doing our part in making sure he's ready.

While you're at it, say a quick Hail Mary or so in hopes that Chorus gets done in time.

In other news, not much else is going on. My sister Caiti is going to be doing the orientation thing at Christendom on August 15. Preparations are very much underway for the showing of our film in the Front Royal theater, so that's kind of exciting. Also, we're going to see Switchfoot in concert on Saturday. Mike said it'll be a good way for him to forget he's just had two days of comps.

Anyway, so long. Thanks for the prayers.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Launch of!

In a project that has taken about a year to get off the ground, I have launched a website that is primarily a message board for Christendom College students, alumni, future students, friends, and family (and maybe even teachers). Right now, it is just the bare essentials to get the message board up and running, so it doesn't look pretty yet, but it will. There is great potential here.

Anyway, check it out:

Life, the FDA, and everything

Well, as you have probably heard, President Bush has vetoed the stem cell research bill. Thank God for that. Crazy as our president sometimes seems, he still gets some things right. Speaking of right, the media seems to spin this as an attempt to garner the conservative vote for the upcoming congressional elections, but I don't really see it as especially politically motivated, unless there are a lot more truly conservative people than I think. The article I link to, as well as most of the media coverage, shows how divided the Republican party is on the embryonic stem cell issue. We need leaders who actually tackle the hard questions about life and morality instead of sidestepping them, and Bush's vote definitely sent a message that we are not ready simply to abandon ethics in favor of supposed scientific progress.

On the flip side, while browsing the news I also discovered this disgusting innovation. This quote pretty much sums it up: "You can start it and forget about it." It's not enough to have birth control, to block life, but also it must be pushed as much into the subconscious as possible that one is doing this. I don't know, though. It seems to me that having a rod in my arm would effectively remind me of exactly what I was doing. How horrid. In case you hadn't figured it out already, the FDA does not approve things based on whether they are good for humans! Thus, as far as I can see, the FDA's approval of anything is meaningless. We have to be vigilant, because our country's drug and grocery store shelves are now chock full of foods and drugs that are deleterious to our well-being. Rather a sobering thought, isn't it?

And what am I up to, you ask? Oh, the same thing as ever. Currently, I am waiting for the tech support people at my work to fix a problem so I can finish out my work day. This past weekend, Michael came to visit me and my family. I shuffled him between my two houses, but we had a lot of fun celebrating my sister's birthday, going to the driving range, visiting the Alamo and the Riverwalk, and attending Holy Mass at Our Lady of the Atonement. When life is good, it is very good. Still, I can't wait to go back to school and see everyone. The end of the summer is certainly in sight--just a month left--but I also have plenty of things to do in it. Work as much as possible is the first priority, with attempting to begin my thesis a close second. I should put in there spending more family time, because I don't get to see them much and I know I will miss them. However, I have my cell phone so they can always call me. And you can always email me! I will try to reply.

God bless,

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Apologia pro Pants

Over the course of my many years, I have seen people put forth reasons why women should always wear skirts. However, I have never seen one that explains why pants are not the devil's dress, but are a good thing. First though, I must state emphatically that this post is NOT aimed at the position that skirts are a good thing to wear most of the time. I think that position makes a lot of sense; the idea of womanhood has been lost and to wear skirts on a regular basis in order to remind society of the dignity of women is a commendable act. What I am objecting to is the opinion that women should wear skirts all the time, and that activities that cannot be done in skirts are unfeminine and should not be done for that reason alone, and that pants are by nature "unwomaning;" in other words, a sort of trouser-phobia held to usually by some Catholics. (For an example of this, read:, which "proves" that when a woman puts on anything with divided legs, she is making herself a man.) After demonstrating the chasm-like gaps of logic in this position, I will offer some thoughts on its underlying mentality.

Are pants modest? Some are not. This is hardly reason not to wear them, since many shirts are not modest. Yet, I am sure that few girls would stop wearing and condemn shirts, qua shirts. Modest pants do exist; obviously when condoning pants, it is the modest ones I speak of.Thus, we can leave modesty behind and enter the realms of femininity.

Are pants feminine? What is "feminine" anyways, especially when applied to clothing? I think that the idea that pants are intrinsically masculine (an idea either explicit or implicit in the arguments of many skirt-only supporters) is ridiculous. "But men have always worn pants, and women never did!" is the common objection. Not true--throughout history, men have always worn skirts. Well, at least until the middle ages, and even then it wasn't universal, and pants were usually worn under a tunic of some kind. I looked up the developement of fashion in the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, which explored the formal apparel of men and women during the Medieval period, and the two were remarkably similar. Also according to this reference, one of the first places we have a record of a skirt being worn is ancient Egypt, but it was on males. At this time women didn't usually wear skirts, or anything else. So much for that historical argument.

"Women always wore skirts until the feminist movement. The feminists wore pants to show their equality with men." Well, this is partially true, but since many non-feminist women also wore divided skirts, bloomers, or other early forms of trousers, while not all feminists did, it seems that the two trends do not have a cause-and-effect relationship, only a contemporary relationship. Furthermore, the Suffragette movement was not entirely a bad thing. Early feminists were pro-life and rebelled against legal inequalities, such as women being unable to vote or inherit. True, they also tried to bring women into the world of careers, which has had ill effects in our society. But, you must recall that many mothers at that time didn't take care of their children anyways. The good of running a home in order to rear children had already been lost (by skirt-wearing women, to boot) and farmed out to governesses, nurses, and boarding schools. Bringing women out of the home to work wasn't the travesty we imagine it to be, for a good portion of the breakdown of the family had already occurred. But, suppose for the sake of argument that the trend of pants on women was a direct effect of the suffragette/feminist movement. I don't think we should reject it even because of that. Votes for women was most definitely a direct result of the feminist movement, yet even skirt-only women vote. If pants are pitched for that reason, none of these women should be seen at the ballot box, unless they admit that some goods were made available by the early feminists.

Historical questions aside, we must ask if there is something about skirts that is intrinsically feminine? I hope not, since I'm a huge fan of cassocks (on priests of course, not mothers in the home) and kilts. If there is nothing intrinsically feminine in skirts, it makes sense that there is nothing intrinsically masculine in pants. Men wear skirts, according to Chesterton, when they possess a special dignity. Skirts on women also accentuate a certain dignity. But, girls are also human beings who need relaxation, activity, and recreation, and to put on a pair of pants to play soccer or something is not compromising one's womanly dignity. Virtue virtue is best cultivated in an ordered lifestyle balanced between prayer, leisure, work, and recreation. In response to this girls will respond, "You can do almost anything in a skirt--I do *insert activity* in skirts." No doubt. But many things cannot be done modestly in a skirt, whereas if these activities are done in pants modesty is assured.

I have never understood this next argument myself, but I have heard it so often I will examine it. To quote the Castle of the Immaculate blog, which was linked to Ida's Destination Order last month, "I can’t seem to get around the fact that Our Lady never appeared in slacks. She is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, the one through whom God has chosen to distribute His graces to the world, and She never once wore slacks. Our Lady is the paradigm of Catholic femininity and Christian perfection. I imitate Our Lady by wearing skirts/dresses." It is definitely true that Mary has never appeared in a pair of pants. Our Most Blessed Lord never has either. (All jesting aside--for Our Lord and the Blessed Mother are not to be mocked--I find it harder to imagine Christ in pants than Mary.) There are cultural reasons for this phenomena, such as that pants did not exist in Israel in the year 14 B.C. and onwards, as well as a religious reason. The Blessed Virgin has always appeared with her head covered, for the same reason she always appears in a dress. She is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, and is thus subject to standards of modesty, purity, and regalness that average women are not. Nuns, sisters, and consecrated women are subject to these standards too, due to their holiness. I think the difference of rank and duties of a normal girl compared with our Blessed Mother is self-evident to any Catholic.

Another popular argument against pants is that Our Lady of Fatima warned us that there would be many fashions that would offend our Lord. Due to the plethora of absolutely disgusting, demeaning, yet accepted fashions that have appeared in this century, attributing this statement to pants is a bit of a stretch.

It has also been posited that skirts make women act more feminine. This could be true, and could be an argument in favor of making skirts the norm in one's wardrobe, but it does not mean pants are a sin. At the end of the day, ladylike deportment is the result of habit and not dress, and putting on pants for work or recreation isn't going to suddenly turn a lady into a slouching, stomping, spitting, masculine he-she.

Last, there is a most basic argument that girls should wear skirts because pants are men's clothes, and cross-dressing is condemned in the Scriptures. I am not defending cross-dressing by any means. Male and female attire is almost entirely defined by culture. No self-respecting transvestite (if there is such a thing) is going to dress like a woman by covering his head, because that head covering which was formerly an essential element in any woman's wardrobe is no longer recognized by society as being such. (It's not the best example, but please look at the point.) Cross dressing has two elements--personal intention and social recognition. When a normal girl puts on pants, neither element is present, so it is not cross-dressing.

I think that has gone through the most common objections to pants. Now, a little time should be spent investigating the mentality that often goes with perpetual skirt-wearing. In my experience, those who support it yearn to go back to the era of Jane Austen, when girls learned languages and literature and not much else, and where the extent of their activities was tightening a corset and taking turns about the room. Every girl from the age of 3 should spend hours a day dreaming about her wedding and expanding her ability to faint or swoon in any situation that might arise. All she does is calculated to attract men. This is their ideal of femininity. But is it the Catholic view? No. It's a novelty that developed in Protestant countries. In medieval Christendom women were queens of the manor, who oversaw the running of the house, carried its keyes on their belt, knew many useful skills, and were sometimes educated. So why are Catholics attempting to imitate Protestant culture and Protestant social norms?

Yes, women are more emotional by nature. However, women are also rational animals, and rationality and self-control should be fostered in girls, perhaps moreso in some areas than in boys in order to balance out the passions. Individuals who uphold the ideals mentioned in the paragraph above mistake conditioned deficiences for natural ones, for they are told from the time they are little that women are, by nature, weaker than men in every way, and should not attempt self-improvement. I disagree wholeheartedly with this mentality, and have known enough wonderful, virtuous women to know that these traits are not principles of true womanhood. If a woman developes her abilities and talents with prudence and for the glory of God, they will be womanly gifts and talents. It seems some ultra-traditionalists think that God bestows masculine gifts on women as qualities they must squash to prove how feminine they are. To them femininity is such an elusive thing that a woman can easily lose by doing anything men do, like studying more than is absolutely necessary or acting self-controlled.

Pants are not a woman's worst enemy, but a neutral article of clothing that can be used to develop virtues proper to the feminine nature. There is no logical reasoning behind the assertion that pants are sinful and make women masculine. A woman is meant to be a support and helpmate to a man or a vessel consecrated to God, and neither of those is a job for the weak. The Church presents to us models of feminine virtue such as the Blessed Virgin, St. Katherine of Alexandria, St. Joan of Arc, St. Theresa of Avila, and St. Gianna Molla. We should strive to follow their examples of womanhood, and not the brittle, narrow ideals of Protestant culture.


I discovered that the best way to make scrumptiously crunchable nachos is to dip them in guacamole and cole slaw. Incredible combination!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Tridentine versus Novus Ordo

After long and careful deliberation, I think I've come to the conclusion that I prefer the Tridentine rite. I snapped the following photos to illustrate my reasoning.

A modern-day missalette from my local parish.

The inside cover of the modern missalette. Charming.

Cover of 1934 My Sunday Missal

The inside cover.

Arf. It's all about the Tridentine, baby.

With a modicum of affection,
~ Geoff

Dad Update

First of all, thanks for all the thoughts and prayers. The doctors did one of those mini-camera search thingies, and found that the clot was very minor It can be zapped with medication and they don''t even have to put in a stint. It's obviously a relief for all of us, and my Dad is even going back to work today. So all is well.

Otherwise, tired. The summer progresses with speed previously unknown to man. BTW, has anyone seen the movie Bella? Sarah and I were invited to a private screening of it (it's independent and it hasn't hit the theaters yet). It was quite good; I'd recommend it.

Anyway, so long, etc.


Monday, July 10, 2006


Hi everyone!

Please say a prayer for my Dad. This morning he went into the emergency room with pain in his chest and arms, thinking it to be a heart attack. This is an odd thing for my Dad, who is the healthiest man I know and is in terrific shape, but he got some tests done and they're still not sure what it was. He's doing better now, and they're going to keep monitoring him to try and see what caused it, and if it actually was a heart attack.

Anyway, that's about all for now. The summer continues to speed by as if in fast forward. Chorus continues to grow and metamorphose. My fiancee only gets more lovely.

Until next time.

So long, etc . . .


O What a Beautiful Day

Today is brought to you by organic cheerios:

Great with soymilk and banana slices, or even just plain, these O's will brighten up your day and put a smile on your face! And if that doesn't work, give yourself a dose of coffee with a bit of hot cocoa mix added to sweeten--it is revolting, but wakes you up! Today is also brought to you by the Lunch Break: may it come soon and last long.

In other news, another leading terrorist bites the dust, Italy wins the World Cup, Pirates sequel outperforms the original and makes an obscene amount of money, Papa Benedicto wears cool new vestments in Valencia, and Anthony dreams he has superhuman powers. Have a lovely day, everyone!

~ Sylvia

Saturday, July 08, 2006

For Our Lady's Saturday

Whenever I say Hail Mary
The court of heaven rejoices
And the earth is lost in wonderment.
And I despise the world
And my heart is brim-full of the love of God
When I say Hail Mary;
All my fears wilt and die
And my passions are quelled
If I say Hail Mary;
Devotion grows within me
And sorrow for sin awakens
When I say Hail Mary;
Hope is made strong in my breast
And the dew of consolation falls on my soul more and more
Because I say Hail Mary.
And my spirit rejoices
And sorrow fades away
When I say Hail Mary.

-St. Louis de Montfort, The Secret of the Rosary

Assumpta Maria
Mortals, that behold a Woman,
Rising 'twixt the Moon and Sun;
Who am I the heavens assume?
All am I, and I am one.

Multitudinous ascend I,
Dreadful as a battle arrayed,
For I bear you whither tend I;
Ye are I: be undismayed!
I, the Ark that for the graven
Tables of the Law was made;
Man's own heart was one, one Heaven,
Both within my womb were laid.
For there Anteros with Eros
Heaven with man conjoin-ed was,--
Twin-stone of the Law, Ischyros,
Agios Athanatos.

I, the flesh-girt Paradises
Gardenered by the Adam new,
Daintied o'er with sweet devices
Which He loveth, for He grew.
I, the boundless strict savannah
Which God's leaping feet go through;
I, the heaven whence the Manna,
Weary Israel, slid on you!
He the Anteros and Eros,
I the body, He the Cross;
He upbeareth me, Ischyros,
Agios Athanatos!

--Francis Thompson

Ash Wednesday
The silent sister veiled in white and blue
Between the yews, behind the garden god,
Whose flute is breathless, bent her head and signed but spoke no word

But the fountain sprang up and the bird sang down
Redeem the time, redeem the dream
The token of the word unheard, unspoken

Till the wind shake a thousand whispers from the yew

And after this our exile

Where shall the word be found, where will the word
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence
Not on the sea or on the islands, not
On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,
For those who walk in darkness
Both in the day time and in the night time
The right time and the right place are not here
No place of grace for those who avoid the face
No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice

Will the veiled sister pray for
Those who walk in darkness, who chose thee and oppose thee,
Those who are torn on the horn between season and season, time and time, between
Hour and hour, word and word, power and power, those who wait
In darkness? Will the veiled sister pray For children at the gate
Who will not go away and cannot pray:
Pray for those who chose and oppose

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Will the veiled sister between the slender
Yew trees pray for those who offend her
And are terrified and cannot surrender
And affirm before the world and deny between the rocks
In the last desert before the last blue rocks
The desert in the garden the garden in the desert
Of drouth, spitting from the mouth the withered apple-seed.

O my people.

Although I do not hope to turn again
Although I do not hope
Although I do not hope to turn

Wavering between the profit and the loss
In this brief transit where the dreams cross
The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying
(Bless me father) though I do not wish to wish these things
From the wide window towards the granite shore
The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying
Unbroken wings

And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices
In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices
And the weak spirit quickens to rebel
For the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell
Quickens to recover
The cry of quail and the whirling plover
And the blind eye creates
The empty forms between the ivory gates
And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth
This is the time of tension between dying and birth
The place of solitude where three dreams cross
Between blue rocks
But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away
Let the other yew be shaken and reply.

Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.

--T.S. Eliot

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Beautiful dresses and beautiful swords

More photos.

The armory. Left to right--Chinese broadsword, butterfly knife, Celtic Warrior sword, the machete, a cool dagger, and the Excalibur.

Something devotional for a change

Zenit News sends us Pope Benedict's reminder that this month of July is the month of veneration of the Precious Blood of Christ. Fittingly, this morning I received from Ida a forwarded message concerning that very Thing: the Blood of our Savior. I include the message below:

Mary Vitamin #234

Topic: Fourth Sorrowful Mystery - Carrying of the Cross

Father Faber
"It was a dreadful thing for a mother to walk the streets over her own son's blood."
The Foot of the Cross, 220.
Tan Books

"No one cared for it. No heart was touched. None suspected the heavenly mystery, at which angels were gazing in silent stupor. Mary too must tread upon it. It was sorrow almost literally trampling its own heart under foot. She must tread on that which she was worshipping. That which colored the street-mud, which blotched the paving-stones, which clung, half wet and half dry, to the garments of the multitude, was hypostatically united to the Godhead. It merited the plenitude of divine worship. Mary was adoring it at every step."
Father Faber, The Foot of the Cross, 220.
Tan Books

Today, when about my ordinary activities, I will try to remember the steps taken by Our Lady following Our Lord and Her Worship of the Precious Blood. When I walk up the stairs today, in particular I will remember the Precious Blood and I will make a Spiritual Communion.

Marian Vow:
"Let the tertiaries, if possible, participate everyday in the holy sacrifice of the altar, standing at the foot of the cross of Calvary, in union with the Immaculate Coredemptrix, to offer themselves as victims united with the Divine Victim, Jesus Crucified, receiving in their own hearts Holy Communion (or at least spiritual Communion, if it is not possible to receive the Sacrament).
Nourished with the Eucharistic Jesus, united to the Immaculate Mediatrix, let the tertiaries each day live faithfully the daily obligations of their state."
Marian Seraphic Pathways, Constitutions #25

I give this resolution to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Thanks be to God for graces received.

Related site: Castle of the Immaculate

Visit MaryVitamin Yahoo Group

Tomorrow is First Friday. Let us make a special effort, if at all possible, to go to Mass, make a holy hour, or perform some other act of devotion and meditate upon Christ's Blood, beyond all price, by which we are ransomed.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

For the Romers

Fr. Fromageot sent me his photo album from Easter, so I decided to post a few of these photos for those who frequented San Gregorio, the FSSP chapel in Rome.

Easter Vigil, at the church atop the Spanish Steps...maybe Santa Maria del Trinita? Or Santa Maria Del Monte? I can't remember. Anyways, it is a beautiful church. The San Gregorio servers seem to be watching this scene with more than a little trepidation.

The Roman Padres, Fr. Cramer in the center and Fr. Fromageot on the right.

Roman Coffee. The fellow on the right is a Christendom alum. That spot looks very familiar to it by San Lorenzo?

A common sight. He's just missing the fedora. I believe the location of this shot is Via Leccosa.


Just thought I'd share these pics with you. Yes, this is actually what Hong Kong looks like. I promise. Unbelievable.

Hello to All

Hello everyone, hope all had a good 4th of July celebration. Ours was fabulous, although please pray for my Mom, as she just had her second miscarriage. We spent a quiet weekend at home setting off fireworks and watching great films. After trotting busily about Asia, that has proven to be a welcome change of pace.

Chorus is proceeding with great speed and stress. Our progress is interrupted by the occasional newspaper interview and TV spot, but otherwise continues unabashed. Exciting news: looks like the film will be able to run for one week in the Front Royal theater. Cool, huh?

Other exciting news, our new flash site is up and running. Here is the address: Check it out. The design was done by Jeremiah Tutwiler, a web designer who works at U.S. Inspect. He did a great job.

Otherwise, things continue normally, as far as normality exists for any of us. I shall conclude. So long, and thanks for all the fish.


Monday, July 03, 2006


Hey all,
I am happy to say I am on my way out of Front Royal at 5 am tomorrow (July 4). I have to drive the HLI president into Dulles, then I will spent Tuesday and Wednesday in DC and take off on Thursday for home. All eleven kids, four sister n laws, one brother n law, seven nieces and five nephews are getting together to celebrate my parents 40th anniversary on July 9. Even my sister in the convent will be there! So keep me in your prayers as I travel, and especially as I vistit The Wastela - I mean Washington. Talk to you all and y'all later.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Land of the Dead: A Masterful Piece of Cinematography!

Baker Street, having watched some of A&E's Sherlock Holmes episodes, I concur with your apt description. You struck at the core issues among the adaptations, Holmes' and Watson's true personalities, and their actual mode of interaction.

Your review has compelled me to extol a film which I recently had the pleasure to see: The Land of the Dead, by writer and director George Romero. I had seen the preview in the theater and was nonplussed. After viewing the actual movie, however, I was reminded how the film industry takes a movie preview and removes from it any hint of nobility and subtlety in order to conform it to their deluded idea of what the American people want to see. Do they really think we are that easily persuaded by mindless entertainment?

I picked up a DVD of Land of the Dead at our shop and surveyed the back. It had zombies. Zombies are cool. They eat people and stuff. One time, I saw another movie by George Romero. It had zombies that ate people too.

I brought the movie home, and watched it on a dark night (as most nights tend to be.) I expected to be thrilled, yea, even chilled, as I watched reanimated corpses crunch bones and tear the flesh from their still-living victims! In this I was not disappointed! But there was something far more at work. My brain recoiled: "Not more work!" This movie actually had a plot! Yes, a carefully-planned overlay that was centered not around partially clad bodies and violence, but around a story with a beginning, a middle, AND an end! (This is not to say that Mr. Romero did not leave room for a sequel! Perish the though!) The plot was backed up by the dialogue, which, while "witty, fresh and provocative," had its source in the background of the characters themselves, not the background of some Hallmark card writer turned screenplay artisan.

I am sure that because of the constant decrying of "cardboard characters," there has been a move in the film industry toward characters that have, well, no character at all. The motivations for their actions have little rooting in the real world. The "protagonist" is a moral fencesitter that ends up on the side of justice only if an explosion throws him there. No, for the modern day action hero, his life is centered around making sure his coolness exudes onto every available surface area. It is also his job to blurt out a lukewarmish vengeful statement just before the "bad" guy hears it, turns around, and initiates a further 10-minute battle because Mr. Hero just couldn't say it with his trigger finger (a far more pithy statement, in my mind.) The characters in Land of the Dead operate based on actual motives of human nature. While some characters operate on the principle that the good is to be sought, the old reliables are all there: Pride, Lust, Greed, Envy, Disdain For Zombie Flicks, everything.

Now, for those among us with simpler tastes, the movie is also chock-full of zombies munching down on brains and appendages. An admonition, however: there is a scene with some short shots of somewhat less-than-fully clad females. The language, as well, is not something that one often hears at Christendom. But then, how often do zombies descend on Christendom, then extricate and devour long loops of intestines from the residents of St. Ben's? (However cool that would be.) As for the language, I can somewhat understand it. While I haven't experienced a rotting corpse gnawing my femur before my very eyes, I doubt that the first words out of my mouth would be, "You Distributist! Give it back!" It might very well, however, be my next exclamation.

Without Much Malice,
~ Geoff

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Sherlock Holmes and other recommendations

I feel like I owe this blog a post, but I am at a loss for a topic about which to speak. A girl who was at one time a very Useful Freshman *grins*, and is now a very useful Sophomore, suggested that I speak on a topic very dear to my heart: the greatest detective who never lived, or more specifically, the superiority of the Jeremy Brett adaptions of Sherlock Holmes over others such as the (dispicable) Basil Rathbone episodes.
The reason why the Brett A&E versions leave the Rathbone editions in the dust is quite simple: Jeremy Brett and Edwarde Hardwicke (or David Burke, depending on what year) bring Holmes and Watson to life as two believable human beings. Granted, Holmes is a neurotic, cocaine-shooting genius, but he is not a robot, which is Rathbone's preferential portrayal. Furthermore, Dr. John Watson was, in the original stories, a normal, intelligent, Victorian doctor, not a bumbling fool, as Rathbone's counterpart Nigel Bruce makes him. These stigmas from the old movies have stuck with these two men for decades.
The other principle weakness in the old Rathbone/Bruce films is that the friendship isn't believable. In Doyle's stories, the friendship between these two men is what provides continuity for the many different adventures, and is really the only way a reader can come to identify with Sherlock Holmes. On his own, he is too weird for the normal person to understand, but when seen through the eyes of a true friend, the many facets of his character come out. The A&E series makes this comradery the focal point of the various events that they relate. Jeremy Brett once observed that in this relationship, Watson didn't need Holmes, but Holmes needed Watson, if only to keep his sanity. The old 30's/40's version employs Watson as a sort of C3PO--a man that Holmes puts up with, but is definitely sub-rational and contributes nothing to the plot.
There are a few other problems in the Rathbone versions that turn the stories into a farce. Moriarty, Holmes' archnemesis (worse even than Baron Gruner) is killed by Rathbone not once, not twice, but three times. And, with each resurrection he looks younger. Go figure. Also, they have Holmes, the Victorian gentleman, battling Nazis and (I think) flying airplanes. A little anachronistic, perhaps? For the real Holmes and Watson, watch Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke. They're fantastic.

I finished C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy this week. I had re-read it, because when I first read it years ago it totally went over my head., so many things make sense. Many libraries shelve them in Young Adult; don't be fooled, they are too advanced for most highschoolers. That Hideous Strength was particularly interesting, and is a rockin' continuation of the Arthurian legends. I love the Christian interpretations of satisfying. It reminded me a little bit of Stephen Lawhead's slightly revisionist versions.

As far as films go, I finally saw the 1940 Philidelphia Story, and it is a wonderful movie. Witty dialogue, great story, and surprisingly insightful observations about the nature of true romance. Also, it has the talents of Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, and James Stewart. I highly recommend it.