Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year to all of you and your families! May 2010 bring you good health and prosperity.

In case you were wondering, I'm not letting Toby drink this New Year's Eve. He and his doggy pals formed a ruckus this past fourth of July when they purchased beer with a fake ID and threw a soiree while I was away. His pals cleared out of my house just as I pulled up to my driveway. Needless to say, I became suspicious when I got home and saw ashtrays piled high with cigarette butts and Toby, in a drunken stupor, singing Abba's "Gimme Gimme Gimme A Man After Midnight" in the middle of the living room. (As I said, he was drunk).

Bad, bad, Toby;0)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Angelina

When I was in ninth grade, I had an amazing crush on a girl who was NOT named Angelina. However, every time I heard this song and the lyrics "Girl you left me nothing, nothing but a photograph" (3:28) I was instantly reminded of her.

You can tell how well it went, can't you?

If you didn't listen to this song then, you more than likely wont like to now. Love this song still.



Also, I'm starting a new blog called Dulcet Pandemonium where I can post songs/ videos like this more often.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

I'm doing it all wrong

Christmas Eve was a huge payday for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives. The top executive echelons of the financially distressed companies received 6 million dollars a piece, with lower raking minions receiving about 2 million.

Here's the real outrage: ME! I'm going to school so I can better myself, while simultaneously working full time and taking care of my parents. Now I'm asking myself, "Does life really have to be this combative?" Obviously the answer is no. If I can divert my energies to smooching my way into either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac or an existing (government subsidized) corporation equivalent, I can make bank! After all, thanks to you, my fellow tax payers, the government will pay anyone anything for everything, regardless of the substandard work performance or the uselessness of the product being sold.

By the way, have any of these executives conclusively fixed the enormous financial upheaval plaguing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Have they earned their pay?

Better yet, why don't we cut the middle man on the government's prodigal spending and just send your checks directly to me. Doesn't that make more sense to you? Why add Uncle Sam's second pair of hands to this process when it's infinitely more efficient to just handover your finances directly to me? Now all I have to do is smooch you good folks and not some bureaucrat who's a part of a good ol' boys network.

I can provide an address to mail your checks to for those of you who see the light.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

A blessed & Merry Christmas and a Happy New year to all my blogger pals and their lovely families- this includes their four-legged family members that are as mischievous as Toby;0)

I've been extremely busy the past three weeks with school ending for this year (to resume in about three weeks) and various others things exploding here and there. Forgive me if I seem to have ignored you or forgotten about your blog, but the fact is that I have NOT. This weekend should allow me time to catch-up on many things that need completion.

Again, God bless all of you and your families!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Men's Fashion and Other Stuff

I'm not someone who is overly interested in fashion or fashion design. I do appreciate dressing nicely and appropriately, but I have no interest in knowing who is wearing what to the Grammy Awards or what designer is incorporating some bazaar new fashion dynamic into his or her seasonal attire. But there are a few trends in current men's fashion that have (regrettably) caught my attention, primarily because they annoy like a bad song stuck in one's head. Here are just a couple (I'm aware there are more).

1) Men who wear tennis shoes with suits.



Is it really necessary to dress yourself in a three-piece suit just so you can destroy the coherence with a pair of Adidas? Who came up with this idea? Is this considered fashionable? Someone obviously thinks this is hip and trendy.


2) Men who wear dress shoes without socks.


Again I ask, is this something that your average man considers appropriate and fashionable? How many men do you know that will dress in formal attire, with dress shoes, and leave out the socks?


The Nutcracker



I was watching the Nutcracker this evening on PBS and I was reminded of the stereotype and stigma attached to men who perform in ballets. Some people believe that it's less than manly for a male to dance ballet for a living, since it is (or was) considered a predominantly female operation. In the Nutcracker (and other ballets) not only are there grown men performing, but also some very young boys. Imagine yourself for a moment the parent of a nine or ten year old boy. Would you allow and encourage your son to take up ballet lessons if he showed interest? Some individuals in this society - mostly fathers - would hear nothing about such things.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rachmaninoff's "Hail Mary" (Orthodox)



As I understand it, the Hail Mary prayer in Greek is very common in Eastern Catholic Churches as well as in Orthodox Churches.

If you want to find this Hail Mary performed beautifully on CD, then do yourselves a favor and buy this one:


It is by the Choir of New College, and it contains not just the music performed in the video above, but some of the most beautiful Catholic sacred pieces many of us have come to love. It's also a GREAT Christmas gift for someone who wants an introduction to a variety of sacred music. The Choir of New College is one of the best ensembles in the music business.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

An Incident (this post is not intended for children)

I have an account with YouTube. Once in a while, I find something on there that is truly informative or educational or infused in some way with meaningful Catholic spirituality. Also - and you may not believe this - some of the videos used in my science classes are located there, requiring a visit on my part to re-evaluate that data disseminated during lecture. A few weeks ago I got an email entitled "wakey wakey wakey" (this is how he wrote it) from a YouTube subscriber. The entire email was a diatribe of the Catholic Church and the supposed rampant molestation of children by priests, under the noses of apathetic Church hierarchy. This individual, who goes by the name of rock9711, apparently prowls YouTube for Catholic content, then sends emails to individuals who have left comments in the channels posting Catholic videos. Initially, it appeared to me that this lunatic was with an anti-Catholic fundamentalist sect, who felt compelled to awaken members of the Catholic Church to their inevitable damnation. But there was a completely different motive compelling this natural-born fool that I will discuss at the end of this post.

Needless to say, I was a little ticked. I don't go on YouTube or elsewhere to knock on other religions, so I expect the same courtesy be extended to me. I may critique the methodologies and theological soundness of non-Catholic faiths, but never have I willfully and maliciously disparaged other belief systems or the individuals who adhere to them.

Here's a snippet from one of the early email responses I got from rock9711 after I suggested he consult a book that contained actual facts:

"i have a book without naked pictures of little boys and girls like the one that your priest and bishops and pope carry around in their back pockets ,, a book your church used to burn people alive for touching or try to read ,, a book which spells out the faith of an institution here on earth that claims to follow its principles and values. a book which spells out the doom and destruction of an institution which is blood guilty... an institution which spreads falsehoods and lies... a book which tells of mans beginning and why he is on earth and why we grow old and die and a book which teaches that soon there will be a new kingdom on this earth that will be free of all men who kill and rape ,, all the things your church practices on a daily basis now for the last 1,500 years ,, and a book that calls any false religion a harlot that will be made to know poverty..."

What an asshole.

In another email he writes:

"SEEK GOD AND BEG FOR FORGIVENESS .. YOU MURDERESS WHORE AND PEDOPHILE CATHOLIC CHURCH... THE UNITED NATIONS MILITARY POLICE WILL SOON DEAL WITH THIS WHORE CHURCH... MAYBE EVEN BEFORE THIS PAGAN CHRISTMAZ ,, THAT IS ON DEC 25TH.. THE SAME DAY THE PAGAN ROMANS WORSHIPED THE SUN,, WHILE YOU WHERE WORSHIPING A VIRGIN CALLED MARY... TWO DINGS DON'T MAKE A DONG OF SHIT IN THE REAL WORLD..

YOUR WHORE CHURCH IS IN COURT... THATS THE BOTTOM LINE!!!"


He writes again:

"HAVE YOU SEEN MIRACLE ON 5TH STREET.. ? ASK SANTA TO HELP THE CATHOLIC CHURCH WHEN IT GETS THE WARRANT TO SEIZE ALL RECORDS AND DOCUMENTATIONS FOR THE LAST 100 YEARS... AND THEN SEE YOUR HOLY FATHER SHIT HIS PANTIES.. HEY LOOK THERE ELVIS!..

YOUR PEDOPHILE NAZI CATHOLIC CHURCH IS IN SUPREME COURT FOR THE MOLESTATION OF 950,498 KIDS AND THE BUTCHERING OF 750,000 PEOPLE IN CROATIA AND THE THEFT OF GOLD... I WOULD SAY YOU NEED A WIZARD MORE THAN YOU NEED SANTA..... \

HEY LOOK! A BUNNY WITH CHOCOLATE"


I have to admit, that if I had been the bigger man and smarter than this misanthrope, I would have left him alone and refrained from responding to his nonsensical gibberish. Unfortunately, I stooped to his level, and for every email I got from him I fired one back. This exchange unfolded during the course of about two days and it involved almost two dozen email responses. I'm posting a few that contain limited vulgarity. The others he wrote were too derisive and explicit for me to post here. Eventually, he relented and after a series of back-and-forths he sent me a final email:

"my name is charles,,Pedophile Prowlers,,

we do some under cover work for the capture of men that abuse children,, and in some cases through the use of "pedophiles within the catholic church" messages are sent ,,, and in some case we do receive some angry comments from certain people which are not pedophiles ,, but some are.. in which we report this to authorities that handle it from there.. in this case, based on your comments there is no need for concern on your part...."


Outside an election year, I have never been fed heaping humps of BS by any one individual at any time. Yet this rock9711 wants me to believe he is doing society a great service by hatefully seeking out peaceful Catholics on YouTube - who are there only to share their faith with Catholics and non-Catholics - and through a series of bloody-minded accusations and misrepresentations, expose the pedophiles among them and report them to the proper authorities. What a humanitarian! I can't begin to tell you how many things are wrong with his ridiculous rationale.

Since that final email, he has blocked me from his channel, which means I can no longer leave any messages on the videos he posts. How cowardly is that?

Why don't you pay a visit to the newest member of the Catholic faith and tell him what you think about his methodologies.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Case of Julia Sweeney & Other Tidbits

Actress Julia Sweeney was a cast member of Saturday Night Live from the time she joined in 1990 until the time of her departure in 1994. After exiting the show, Sweeney experienced a series of personal disasters in which family members - including herself - were diagnosed with some form of cancer. Raised a Roman Catholic, Sweeney's adult battle with cancer culminated in a public declaration that she was an atheist, and even wrote a monologue called Letting Go of God, in which she elaborated on her newly formed atheistic beliefs. According to Wikipedia, famed atheist Richard Dawkins has quoted Letting Go of God extensively in his book The God Delusion.

When I was a member of my Church choir, I knew a man who lost both of his parents in rapid succession. Such an excruciating experience drove him away from the Church and never again did I see him return. I think both his and Sweeney's experiences might be structured almost identically.

I actually empathize with people who have shifted to disbelief that was caused by an extreme, personal ordeal. The hurt and the anger that compels them is more heartbreaking - at least in my eyes - than the tragic abandonment of God and their faith. I'm always reminded of the fact that these individuals have reached a breaking point in which pure exasperation took control of their senses.

Salvation

I think sometimes we inadvertently get a little overzealous and focus too much on the excerpts of Scripture that describe the sheer difficulty (and, perhaps, likelihood or unlikelihood) of reaching the abode of the saints. Some people unjustly focus too much on that and build a fire and brimstone sermon that makes it sound like we're ALL going to hell. Yes, God is infinite justice and His wrath should make us all tremble. But God is also Love, and when the phrase "infinite justice" is evoked the first thing that comes to the minds of some is a God who mercilessly tosses wayward souls into the fires of hell without a second thought. Have you ever considered the possibility that the highest form of infinite justice God can apply might actually be infinite mercy? A God that embraces your return to Him very similarly to the loving reception experienced by the prodigal son in the famous parable. I'm fairly certain that we make the whole salvation desire much more difficult than what it actually is, and it's hard enough already!

Here's a brief video (again) of Thomas Merton. Listen to the narrator, speaking in the voice of Thomas Merton, say: "Faith means doubt. Faith is not the suppression of doubt. It is the overcoming of doubt, and you overcome doubt by going through it. A man of faith who has never experienced doubt is not a man of faith." Towards the end of the video he concludes with a profound observation that has had me thinking about it since the first time I heard it: "...the gate of Heaven is everywhere." What a beautiful thing to say.



Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Aftermath

I ATE TOO MUCH.
- Turkey
- Rice and Black Beans (it was Cuban themed, folks)
- Stuffing
- Bread (LOVE bread!)
- Apple Pie
- Pecan Pie
- Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream (Half Baked)
- Miscellaneous yummies that are too numerous to mention here

So how was your gastronomical fandango?


Wanna go for a walk?
(burp!)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

To Perceive or Misperceieve

People say things they don't always mean. Often times they become angry from some perceived injustice or insult done to them and they retaliate with a finely orchestrated vitriol meant to cause equal, if not greater injury, than was done to them. These things happen. But with most reasonable people the anger dissipates, and they come to regret their comments and wish for a chance to take back their diatribe. Unfortunately, once the words are delivered it's too late to un-ring the bell.


"Don't worry about trying to figure out the Trinity. You can't even figure out yourselves." ~ A wise priest I know.

I think communicating with another human being can bring a hornet's nest of possible misunderstandings. You never know if your message is coming across with clarity and precision, or if aberrations you failed to account for corrupt the essence of your point-of-view. This type of miscommunication reminds me of the analog signals that until recently were used to transmit audio and visual signals to many television sets across America: A transmitter (this would be you, the speaker) sends a series of signals to a receiver (the person you are communicating with) that can be processed in some useful way. As those signals travel to the receiver, distortions and electrical pollutants can corrupt their integrity and consistency, and the picture and sound delivered to the receiver are unrecognizable and indiscernible.

Can you imagine how many faulty conclusions people have made and are making around the world (even as you read this) and will react to in some method? How many of these will involve violent reactions? How many will damage the reputation of the individual who wrote or spoke the words? How many of these misinterpretations will go undiagnosed as a misperception, failing to yield the opportunity for explanations and clarifications. Such a scenario could not only perpetuate a misunderstanding, but it could do so indefinitely. I've actually seen a scenario like the one I just described begin to take shape, but thankfully I had the good fortune to catch it in time.

Such an admonishing is especially true, here, in the written world, where communication is devoid of facial expressions, mannerisms, and a tone of voice to help place ideas and opinions in their proper context. I know I've written things that came off wrong and the individual who read them - either out of politeness or self control - chose not to offensively repudiate what they perceived was incorrect. I have had, however, commentators that took issue with some of the criticisms that I've leveled against certain individuals and specific groups by taking my words completely out of frame.

These types of inexactitudes make me wonder how much I really know. And out of those things and individuals that I think I do know but have dismissed as absurd and thoughtless, how much of those should I re-visit and re-evaluate to form a more accurate and respectable opinion of what they were all about. Can we say with absolute and unequivocal certainty that misperceptions or misunderstandings NEVER - not once - played a role in the censure and/or excommunication of any one individual in Church history? Some people argue that in the case of Teilhard de Chardin, a serious misjudgement occurred when authorities evaluating his writings never understood them in great depth.

By the way, this post is actually about the culinary experience of eating tainted fish with root beer and scotch;0) What were you thinking it was about?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Two Sets of Rules

Can you tell me how the combined scandals of every pedophile priest and priests who have tossed out their sacerdotal vows can ever stigmatize the Catholic Church to the same extent that radical Muslims have demonized Islam? Islam - however undeserved - has an anathema grade that could only be surpassed by the Nazi party at the height of their menace during the first half on the twentieth century. Yet despite this reality, Catholicism faces greater collective scrutiny and criticism from loudmouths who simply don't like the Church. My Lord, speak ill of someone who is of Muslim affiliation and watch what happens.

I don't dislike Muslims or have anything personal against Islam. But the hypocrisy and double standards that are applied to this situation irritate me to no end. (Yes, some of you have written about this).


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Don't be a Miser, my dear Grumpy

Okay, grumpy, we're almost there! Advent is just three short weeks away and I for one have added Christmasy music to my blog to (hopefully) irritate those few misanthropes who are nostalgic for Ebeneezer Scrooge before his conversion.

Yes, Christmas has been commercialized, subverted, perverted, homogenized, brutalized, demoralized and denatured by deviants who had what were once hidden agendas. But no more! We know those serpentine scoundrels all too well and their failed and futile attempts at removing Christ from Christmas . They can no longer operate freely without detection. Having said that, I'm celebrating Christmas starting RIGHT NOW, with or without you!

Why don't you start planning ways to celebrate the great Yuletide jamboree. Certainly Midnight-Mass on Christmas Eve and all those other little rituals we perform during Advent are a must. But also in ways you haven't celebrated before (no, I don't mean getting hammered).


Merry Early Christmas!!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

National Adoption Month


Did you know that November is National Adoption Month? I'm not sure how something like this could have passed me without notice. Anyway, this month has been said aside as a time to "raise awareness about the adoption of children and youth from foster care."

Stop by, say hello and give a big THANK YOU to two individuals who put their money where their mouth is by not just adopting a child, but by adopting a child who was outside their race, and in one circumstance, a child with special needs. I've mentioned to both of them something they probably think it's melodramatic and hyperbolic, but which I nonetheless mean sincerely: PEOPLE WHO ADOPT SAVE LIVES.

The first blog is To China and Back...and Beyond, which you will find Mia (or as I call her Cutie-patootie) - who arrived in the United States just a little over two years ago - and her mom, Melissa. Melissa is a good sport for putting up with my notorious sense of humor on her blog:0) You never know the type of silly nonsense I'm going to leave behind when I visit.

The second blog is Tell Her This. There you will meet the newly arrived Ellis Gao Mei and her mom Kris. Kris and Ellis were involved in a traffic incident today (you'll see why I say "incident" instead of "accident" when you visit the blog), but they seem to have come out of it all right, thank God. Poor Ellis was shaken up, but TLC put her nerves at ease.

So please, don't be bashful. Stop by and say hi to these good folks: say hi to Mia and Ellis, and thank their moms for having enough humanity to look beyond mere genes and having the ability to share their love with a child that is genuinely theirs.

Remember National Adoption Month!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Has Mel softened up?

Actor Mel Gibson and his girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva are the proud parents of a baby girl named Lucia. Earlier this year, Mel and his wife of thirty years filed for divorce.

I'm a bit confused by Gibson's behavior. When he was filming The Passion of the Christ, he told interviewers that his wife would not have the gift salvation since she (I believe Episcopalian) was not Catholic. During this same period, reports of his "ultra- religious orthodoxy" surfaced when it became public that he is a part of a splinter Catholic group that does not recognize the authority of Pope Benedict or the changes of Vatican II.

Despite his very conservative adherence, Gibson filed for divorce this year and now has a child with a woman who is not even his wife. I know this makes me sound like a puritan, but doesn't this type of thing come into conflict with his Catholicism? Or has he softened up and relaxed his stringent beliefs? Is he still a part of his Catholic splinter group? Maybe I'm just picking on him unfairly.

All Souls Day




"Pie Jesu" and "Ave Verum Corpus"

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The host, too, can assimilate

Don't put it beyond the scope of possibility that the influx of Anglican clergy making their way into Catholic ordination may act as a catalyst for the removal of the celibacy pre-requisite on Catholic clergy. Just because the Catholic Church is the host, it doesn't mean that some of what is inherently Anglican can't rub off on the Catholic majority.

I am aware that the Vatican is setting up a new structure to allow Anglicans coming into the Church the ability to retain their practices and identities. This does not mean that as new Roman Catholics, former Anglicans will be segregated from mainstream Catholic communities or operate disconnected from traditional Catholic circles. But it does mean that Catholic laity will see more and more married Catholic priests than ever before, and such a customary encounter might lift the taboo connotation such an arrangement has within some Catholic coteries.

Now, I know that for a change like this to occur the numbers of Anglican clergy coming back home will have to truly be significant. But you never know. On the other hand, Eastern Catholics have ordained married men but that's never changed anything in the Roman side of the house.

Should we be prepared for a possible shock?

Pray for our Priests


Tu es sacerdos in aeternum


Pray for our priests on All Souls Day and on the first Thursday of November. Terry is spreading the message. Please post a word or two on your blogs to encourage others to do the same.

Monday, October 26, 2009

BIG test in school tomorrow. Wish me luck.



Also, Toby turned one this month. He is a minion of the dark lord. Misbehaves to no end.

Gotta go study.


Rita, Aussie, Shirley, Cathy and Terry, thank you for your prayers and for your support. I'm not exactly sure how I did, but I'm glad it's finally over. And, Terry, you might be on to something there! LOL!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monasticism

I don't believe that God is full of contradictions, but I do believe we often find some aspect of His Mystery revealed through paradoxes. In this video, an excerpt is taken from the work of Thomas Merton in which he tries to explain the nature of a Cistercian. This man, Thomas Merton, was no lunatic as some individuals might try to suggest. He simply was able to see the salvific presence of his Creator at work in places unfamiliar to him.

You might realize as you hear this excerpt that the life of a contemplative is characterized by a simplicity so complex, that those with insuficient faith who try to live as a Cistercian eventually walk away aflicted and frazzled.





This is Thomas Merton's real voice. I like what he says in this recording.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Grey Areas?

Many people find themselves admirers of artists, actors, or celebrities who may lead lives in opposition to their religious, philosophical, or political beliefs. Sometimes the views of these celebrities clash with our view of the world, and we subsequently rebuff their work. Other times we are acutely aware of who and what these individuals are but nonetheless watch their movies, listen to their music, and buy whatever product the peddle. Here is a list of celebrities that find popularity across a wide section of the population, but have liberal political leanings, or live a life that is diametrically opposed in some way to Catholic social teaching. Are you a fan despite the incongruity or is there something about their lives that turns you off to their work?

Ellen Degeneres
As you know, Ellen has her own syndicated talk show that is now in its seventh season, and has been contracted by American Idol to replace ousted judge Paula Abdul. She came out of the closet a few years ago and is in a long-term relationship since 2004 with the very beautiful Portia de Rossi. Personally, I don't like Degeneres. Not because she's a lesbian, but because she simply isn't all that funny. That dancing routine she does on her show is completely anserine (yes, anserine is a word).




George Clooney
American actor George Clooney has starred in such films as The Perfect Storm; O Brother, Where Art Thou?; Syriana; Michael Clayton; and the upcoming film Men Who Stare at Goats. He is a highly sought after actor who can rake in big profits at the box office just by merely including his name on the credits. George, however, is extremely liberal, supporting many leftists politicians and slamming just as many conservative ones.






Sir Elton John
He's been singing and writing music with his long-time collaborator Bernie Taupin since the late 1960's, and has produced hits that are considered rock-n-roll classics. Everyone has heard "Bennie and the Jests", "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting", "Your Song" and "Candle in the Wind." He has a gig here in Vegas at the Caesars Palace called The Red Piano (which, by the way, still accepts reservations), and performs in sell-out concerts throughout the world. Elton, as you all know is gay, but has managed to remain an extremely popular music figure even after he came out of the closet. Are you a fan of Reginald (his real name) or do you find his music not to your liking because of his sexual orientation?



Susan Sarandon
I'm not sure if Susan Sarandon has remained Catholic, but she definitely had strong connections to the Catholic faith as a child and then later as a student attending The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Susan is a huge supporter of liberal causes and liberal politicians. In the early to mid 2000's, she supported Ralph Nader for president and in 2004 threw her support behind John Kerry. She is also a supporter of EMILY'S List, a pro-abortion political action committee whose aim is to help pro-abortion politicians get elected. Sarandon has starred in such films as Lorenzo's Oil; Bull Durham; Thelma and Louise; the cult favorite The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In 1995 she won an Oscar for her work in the film Dead Man Walking.


Martin Sheen
Actor Martin Sheen is a Catholic who has backed some of the most liberal politicians American politics can produce. He has played presidents on television and has been involved in many liberal causes throughout his entire career. In 2004 he campaigned for Howard Dean and John Kerry, and is a harsh critic of the war in Iraq. Having said that, according to Wikepedia, Martin Sheen is a supporter of the Democrats for Life of America's Pregnant Women Support Act. If this is true, Mr. Sheen scores major brownie points with me.






Barbra Streisand
Some of you love her voice. I know that some of the more musically inclined members of a parish I used to attend love her to death, regardless of her political leanings. Streisand has enthusiastically supported Democratic party candidates since I can remember, and is a huge supporters of gay rights. In 1992 she publicly supported a boycott of Colorado when it passed a controversial referendum that gay and lesbian groups found to be discriminatory. By the way, in 1993 Kirk Kerkorian discreetly paid Streisand 20 million dollars to be the New Year's Eve headlining show at the MGM Grand Hotel.




Julia Roberts
"Republican comes in the dictionary just after reptile and just above repugnant...I looked up Democrat. It's of the people, by the people, for the people..." I once read that she married her first husband, Lyle Lovett, because she thought he looked like Abraham Lincoln. She is a strong supporter of Democratic candidates running for office.








Fr. Richard McBrien of Notre Dame
I'm not staying neutral on this one. This man is a disgrace. I have never heard him say anything but continued criticism of the Catholic Church. Take a hike and join the Episcopalians, will ya? They're not bad folks. However, some of you might actually like Father McBrien despite his, shall we say, perfidious tendencies.

IMHO: Why President 'Obummer' is in Power

I remember back in 2001, shortly after the attack on the World Trade Center towers, driving to work on an early weekday morning and listening to a traffic reporter on the radio praise the President's response to the brutality of the terrorists attacks in New York. After a prolonged presidential election caused partly by hanging chads and confused Florida voters, the announcer stated, "we got the right man for the job." That was approximately nine years ago, and George Bush at the time was enjoying a wave of enthusiastic voter approbation.

Fast-forward to the 2008 presidential elections.



The senator from Illinois, Barack Hussein Obama II, is elected the 44th president of the United States. He is the first black American to hold this position, and hopefully not the last (there are some VERY competent and EXPERIENCED black Americans who would do a superb job as president of the United States). His record as a senator isn't at all impressive. As senator, he has managed to side-step voting on major political hot potato issues through either absenteeism or "no vote" procedure. He does not possess any military experience, nor does he have any outstanding qualifications that would lead anyone to conclude that he is a consequential and efficacious leader. He is extremely liberal, and has associations to some shady organizations and less than reputable individuals. How then did this man become president? Very simple: George Bush.

I blame George Bush for afflicting me with Barack Obama.

While I enjoyed Bush's relatively conservative positions on many issues (most of all the abortion issue) towards the end of his presidency he had managed to bungle so many important issues that the American people simply didn't give a dam about who or what Obama is. They were just glad he wast NOT George Bush or a member of his political party. Such an opportunity must have made Hilary Clinton all the more bitter for losing her party's presidential nomination. Her chances for winning the presidential election were golden, thanks to the anathema status given to George Bush and the Republican Party.


Perhaps the single most deleterious act George Bush committed which, in turn, led to other detrimental afterclaps was, of coarse, the war in Iraq. I recall hearing something about weapons of mass destruction, don't you? And just how many of these have we found? NONE. Yes, he was mislead by his advisers, but it also appears to me that George Bush pressed on with this war during moments he knew he shouldn't and did so anyway because he feared the consequences of having committed a gargantuan mistake.

But to be fair, George Bush is blamed for many derogatory events that happened during his administration that were not his doing. He also had the misfortune of surrounding himself with individuals advising him on the quickest way to take the world into perdition. Individuals who placed ego before sound, political advice.



It was George Bush who gave momentum to the Democratic party in the latter part of his presidency with terrible decision-making, with which the American people became exasperated. It was those decisions and their continued effects that empowers Barack Obama this very day. If this is true, that the continued, pernicious impacts of Bush's decision making gives vitality to the Obama agenda, than one must conclude that the Obama administration is a continuation of the Bush presidency. And as long as we (and the world) continue to suffer the consequences of President Bush's poor judgment, Obama will have ALL the justification he needs to operate in almost politically consequence free environment. Now we are stuck with Obama for at least four years and running the risk of a second term with this man at the helm.

Don't Laugh at the Imbeciles

To give you an idea of just how fed-up the American people were with President Bush and the Republican Party in 2008, look who got elected. The most unfunny, crack brained, feeble-brained, demented deformity in all of American politics: Al Franken. Under normal circumstances, what constituency would vote for this insufferable jackass?

I almost forgot our beloved Vice President Joe Biden. A good Catholic whose brilliance shines at every moment of the day. Here he is introducing Missouri State Senator Chuck Graham by telling him to "Stand up, Chuck, let 'em see ya."


In case you haven't figured it out, Senator Chuck Graham is on a wheel chair.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wrecking My Nerves

I can't look away. It's like driving past a car wreck. It's like the cast of Hee Haw took they day off to go to church...right on their set.

My friends, some of you might be sympathetic to music like this, but every time I hear it I come that much closer to taking anti-depressants. But despite my dislike for this type of music, I want to state unequivocally that I don't want to reticule these people for having this particular taste in music. I am, however, infused with a strange type of morbid curiosity for these good folks, and I'm baffled by their affinity to this type of music. You be the judge.



There is no Mystery in this type of music. There is no "seduction" to leave yourself behind and become a part of this Mystery. There is an implied belief that life is in shades of black and white, and that as long as I proclaim Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I'm heaven bound. This is not my cup of tea.

Here is one piece that those good people in the above video might find equally incomprehensible and repulsive, but DEFINITELY to my spiritual liking. It's the beautiful Nunc Dimittis (Lord, Now Let Thy Servant Go) from Rachmaninoff's Vespers, which I was saving for another post.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pecan in the Cemetary

Kinda cute...

On the outskirts of a small town, there was a big, old pecan tree just inside the cemetery fence. One day, two boys filled up a bucketful of nuts and sat down by the tree, out of sight, and began dividing the nuts.

"One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me," said one boy. Several dropped and rolled down toward the fence.

Another boy came riding along the road on his bicycle. As he passed, he thought he heard voices from inside the cemetery. He slowed down to investigate. Sure enough, he heard, "One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me."

He just knew what it was. He jumped back on his bike and rode off. Just around the bend he met an old man with a cane, hobbling along.

"Come here quick," said the boy, "you won't believe what I heard! Satan and the Lord are down at the cemetery dividing up the souls."

The man said, "Beat it kid, can't you see it's hard for me to walk." When the boy insisted though, the man hobbled slowly to the cemetery.

Standing by the fence they heard, "One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me."

The old man whispered, "Boy, you've been tellin' me the truth. Let's see if we can see the Lord."

Shaking with fear, they peered through the fence, yet were still unable to see anything. The old man and the boy gripped the wrought iron bars of the fence tighter and tighter as they tried to get a glimpse of the Lord.

At last they heard, "One for you, one for me. That's all... Now let's go get those nuts by the fence and we'll be done."

They say the old man made it back to town a full 5 minutes ahead of the kid on the bike.


____________________________________________________________________

You may need Realplayer to listen. One of the most beautiful arrangement I've ever heard.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Cover Up?


Do you recall those seven monks who were brutally murdered in Algiers back in 1996? Now there is a story circulating throughout multiple news outlets that the official report of the murders was fabricated to conceal the true perpetrators of the crime. The official investigation blames Muslim militants for the murders of the Trappist monks, but now a former military attaché to France’s embassy in Algiers claims that the monks were accidentally killed by the Algerian army, and that both France and Algiers have conspired to cover up the incident for the sake of maintaining good diplomatic relations with each other. The new allegations - which were made by General François Buchwalter - claim that an Algerian army helicopter opened fire on what they mistakenly thought was a campground for Muslim extremists and struck the seven monks instead.




Regardless of who is at fault, the end result is the same: seven peaceful souls dead prematurely and unjustifiably. I'm hoping France and Algiers can come clean about the entire situation, and hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions.

I've never been able to completely shake from memory the senseless deaths of these Trappist monks. I have such an unswerving affection for them.



In Honor of St. Francis

Monday, September 28, 2009

Miscellaneous Stuff

I've wondered what my opening words should be after an absence of nearly six months and, truth be told, I have no idea what they should be. I will, however, start out by thanking all of you kind and compassionate cyber friends of mine who were conscientious enough to keep us in your prayers, especially my late grandmother. Your comments and well wishes were a tremendous source of strength for me during this very dark period in my life. Thank you and God bless all of you.

I continue on with my life because I know that is what my grandmother would have wanted. Seeing us grieve would have been unacceptable to her and would have certainly broken her heart. But despite this willingness to move on, I do so with the heavy drag of her loss weighing down on me. I guess it's too soon to feel "normal" again.

And now, to go off on a tangent with the following...

A Desire More Desirable than Any Satisfaction
The following passage, believe it or not, came from one of the many sources of literature that got C.S.Lewis on the path to Christianity:


"Oh God, bring me to the sea's end,
To the Hesperides, sisters of evening,
Who sing alone in their islands
Where the golden apples grow,
And the Lord of Oceans guards the way
From all who would sail
Into their night-blue harbors —
Let me escape to the rim of the world
Where the tremendous firmament meets
The earth, and Atlas holds the universe
In his palms.
For there, in the palace of Zeus,
Wells of ambrosia pour through the chambers
,
While the sacred earth lavishes life
And Time adds his years
Only to heaven's happiness."
~ Hippolytus by Euripides

Can you not detect a tremendous sense of longing in the above passage? This particular excerpt tells me that the pagan who wrote it, despite the fact that he had never heard of Judaism and lived centuries before Christ, longed for something beyond this world. I thought to include it in this post to illustrate just how innate the longing for God and Heaven can be and how that desire - fulfilled only by something beyond this earth - can be more desirable than any satisfaction. Most of humanity I think feels this vacuity in their lives. And not knowing what this hunger is, they fill the void with materialistic possessions and other earthly accessories.

I end my first post with one of the most beautiful chants that I have heard. It is the Parce mihi domine (Spare me, Lord) by Cristobal de Morales. I posted a version of this chant a long time ago.






And one last thing. You may have seen this short video somewhere else. I LOVE this one! It's celebrating new vocations.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Grandma and a few other things

We laid grandma to rest on Friday morning right next to my grandfather. The weather was terrible. It was rainy, very windy and very cold. We took some of the flowers home with us because we new that if left outside they would end up scattered all over the cemetery. During the viewing, I approached my grandmother and she seemed like a hollow shell. Her body, while physically present - seemed completely vacuous. I whispered in her ear (as I had Monday when she died in the hospital), "guide me to where you're now." I think that same desire - the hope of seeing our loved ones again after death - is shared by anyone who has ever lost someone they cared for.

I wondered, perhaps out of fear, how the end would eventually come for my grandmother. She was elderly and one of my biggest distresses when she was alive was getting a phone call at work from my mother telling me that my grandmother had abruptly passed away. Many years ago I selfishly prayed that when the end would come for her that it would come gradually, as to allow myself time to prepare. She lasted eight days after her heart-attack, so I guess my prayers were answered. It's been almost a week since her death and I still can't completely digest the idea that she's gone.

I want to thank all of you again (gosh, I can't thank you enough) for your prayers and for all your kind thoughts. This has been incredibly tough on me and on those of us who loved my grandmother. Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

On a side note, have any of you heard about Near Death Experiences? I was once ready to blow them off as new-age quackery or a neurological condition brought on by great stress. Then I met Father Jude. Father Jude was a Dominican (O.P.) priest visiting my diocese and I was giving him daily rides from the rectory of my perish to my church. I can't quite recall the topic of conversation, but I do remember, while riding in my car, that he cited some of the described experiences of those who have had an NDE as proof that there was an afterlife. It seemed odd to hear something like that coming from Father Jude since he is very traditional when it comes to the Catholic faith. Apparently, the number of people who have had an NDE is quite large, and mainstream scientists who are investigating the phenomenon believe that human consciousness separates from the brain at the time of death. Some of the commonly described experiences of those who have had a Near Death Experience are feelings of great joy; seeing a beautiful light; profound peace and incomprehensible love; a review of one's actions and their impact on others; a sense of leaving their bodies behind; observing events - such a doctors and nurses working to revive them - while they were clinically dead; when they return, many experience complete change in their outlook on life/ they way they treat other people. There have also been accounts of people who have visited a less than peaceful place. A place of great distress and unpleasant images (you draw your own conclusions). I recently watched the BBC documentary The Day I Died and I was amazed by the number of mainstream scientists who have taken an interest in these experiences. They are focusing their attention on people who were clinically dead (no heartbeat, no breathing, no brain activity) and who also report an NDE.

So what do you think of these near-death experiences? Are they an indication, a hint, a gift given to a few as a glimpse of the world to come? Do you know of anyone who has actually had one? Love to hear your thoughts on this subject matter. The links below are of the documentary The Day I Died, which is comprised of six videos on YouTube. Try to approach them with an open mind.

Monday, March 30, 2009

My grandmother, Isabel, passed away this afternoon. She was the kindest, sweetest, most compassionate human being I've ever met. She was kind, had a wonderful sense of humor, and loved children. A part of me goes with her.

Please keep her in your prayers. God bless.



Prayer of Commendation

"Go forth, Christian soul, from this world
in the name of God the almighty Father,
who created you,
in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God,
who suffered for you,
in the name of the Holy Spirit,
who was poured out upon you.
Go forth, faithful Christian!
May you live in peace this day,
may your home be with God in Zion,
with Mary, the virgin Mother of God,
with Joseph, and all the angels and saints. . . .

May you return to [your Creator]
who formed you from the dust of the earth.
May holy Mary, the angels, and all the saints
come to meet you as you go forth from this life. . . .
May you see your Redeemer face to face."

____________________________________________________________________
4-1-09

I would like to extend to all of you profound thanks for your prayers and well-wishes. This has been incredibly difficult for me and for those of us who loved her, as some of you might already know. My grandmother will be laid to rest this coming April 3rd right next to my grandfather.

I want to also say that I'm acutely aware of the fact that she lived a long life - she was 20 days shy of her ninetieth birthday when she passed away. Many people who are considered to have lived a long life don't necessarily live as long as she did. I'm also cognizant of the fact that human beings who might - at most - be half my age have entered the hospital in which she passed away and never came out. Her passing, thank God, was not a violent one, although someone like me, who loved her dearly, will always consider her departure premature, regardless of her late age. Yes, I have a lot to be thankful for, but the pain of losing someone like her swells in me sporadically throughtout the day. I think those of you who have had your hearts broken by a loss of this type (and I know that there are A LOT of you) can relate to what I'm going through.

Again, thank you for everything. God bless you.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I spent the afternoon and the evening hours with my grandmother till about 11 p.m. today. She seemed a little better than yesterday, but she is far from being out of the woods. Here's the situation: her blood pressure keeps dropping and they are giving her medications to try to elevate it. Because she has atrial fibrillation, her heart rate is erratic and sometimes elevated beyond the normal beats per minutes. Today they gave her a medication to regulate her heart rate but part of the side-effects of that particular medication is to lower the blood pressure, something we definitely do not want. The nurses told me that they will not give her that same medication again. They also did an echo-cardiogram and the technician showed my mom the problems the echo-cardiogram machine could detect in her heart (I stepped out of the room simply because I didn't want to hear it).

I'm trying to pull myself together because the severity of what is happening is hitting me for the first time tonight. I'm definitely not ready to say goodbye just yet.

Please continue to keep her in your prayers. Thank you and God bless.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Grandmother

I know I've been away for quite some time. I've been busy with school, work, and other affairs that demanded my attention. I hope all of you and your families are having a peaceful Lent.

This past Sunday I had a terrible experience. My grandmother had a heart-attack and was rushed by ambulance to the hospital. For a moment there it was thought that she would not make it. However, she was stabilized and they've kept her in ICU for the past three days. Yesterday the doctors and nurses were talking about releasing her on Wednesday, but this morning she took a slight turn for the worst. Her blood pressure dropped significantly, so they had to give her more medications to stabilize her. She appears disoriented and tells the nurses that administer to her that she wants to go home. I know she is elderly and that I should be glad for having her as long as I did. But when we love someone, there is no such thing as having them for just the right amount of time.

Truth be told, I've been dreading the day a lose her for the longest time now. I've wondered how and when it will come despite obvious answers and admonitions not to do so. A few years ago when she had a cardiac incident and was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, I prayed for a few more years with her and it appears those prayers were answered. Now, selfishly I pray again for just a little more time.

Please keep my grandmother, Isabel, in your prayers. Thank you and God bless all of you.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Yummy, Yummy, Yummy I Got Love in My Tummy!

This is a post that should have been published over two weeks ago. Unfortunately, my mom acquired the cold from which I had been suffering and ultimately developed pneumonia. Subsequently, my focus turned to her.

Toby received some treats this past Valentine's Day from dear Auntie A (Adrienne's Catholic Corner) and her lovely little four-legged kiddies Elle, Sophie, Angela, and Erica. This was Toby's first Valentine's and also the first time he had anything other than the prescribed food our vet assigned to him. Let me tell you that he was gobbling this stuff up! You should have seen the size of his eyes as he tried his yummies for the first time and saw me holding a second batch in my hands (mental note: wear armour gloves when feeding this little monster by hand). Such a short time on earth so far and this puny-one has found a slice of heaven.

Here are some pics of Toby next to his treats before first trying them. As you can see, the little mischief-maker is anxious to get inside the packages and start chomping. I should make all of you aware that when taking these pics, I had to place Toby on a chair to have more control over what the little puff of smoke was doing. He is simply IMPOSSIBLE to photograph.











So yes, this was Toby this past Valentine's, getting stuff from girls while his master stood dateless in Las Vegas. LOL!

So a big thank you to Auntie A and her critters for making Toby's first Valentine's Day one to remember. BTW, here is Toby's favorite song:

Pause music player before playing video.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Political Correctness

A few years ago, I remember a group that called themselves the American Indian Movement, protested the use of Indian caricatures of such sports teams as the Cleveland Indians, the Atlanta Braves, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Washington Redskins. In light of the politically correct society that we live in today, who could blame them? Today we have to be very careful with our choice of words when making public addresses in the public square. One miscalculation - as has happened to countless numbers of politicians and celebrities - and you might acquire publicity that you might liken to the plague. I think this whole politically correct vernacular may have started when one group demanded a certain type of choice words when being referenced, and another group decided they too had as much right to the same sensitivities as the other group. Just speculation, of coarse. Eventually, the whole P.C. movement gained momentum, and different caucuses were ready to introduce into society what words were off-limits when referencing their respective groups.

Anyway, this is a video that shows a group of redheads (what is the P.C. term fro "redheads?") protesting the Wendy's logo. To them, the Wendy's icon misrepresents the physical appearances of most redheads by putting pony tails and freckles on the Wendy's girl.

What do you think? Are these folks just simply taking things too far, or is their beef with Wendy's legit? If it had been the image of a minority, would the same protests not have occurred? Would Wendy's have even placed the image of a minority as its logo?

Pause music player to avoid cacophony.


Saturday, February 28, 2009

Howdy! :0)

Sorry I've been away for so long, but as I pointed out on my last post, I've been completely pre-occupied nursing my mom back to health. I'm DELIGHTED to say that she is doing much better, and according to her doctor, she no longer has pneumonia. What does lingers is a "wetness" in her lung that we still have to keep an eye on. She also has a nasty cough, but she is not coughing nearly as much as she used to. In any case, I'm making her some more chicken soup tonight and I'm going to insist that she do her lung treatment using her nebulizer. Thank you for being so kind and keeping her in your prayers. The only thing I ask is that you continue to pray for her complete recovery.


On an even more positive note, it's LENT! Nature seems poised for a glorious and unique transformation. I'm so saddened by the fact I could not post on Ash Wednesday. But considering all the things that have been transpiring, it was simply impossible to do so. To all of you and your families, I wish and pray for a reflective and prayerful Lent season. May you know and find Christ more deeply and fully.



Father,
through our observance of Lent,
help us to understand the meaning
of Your Son's death and resurrection,
and teach us to reflect it in our lives.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son.
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever


Auntie A, I have not forgotten about the pictures.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Prayer Request

Dear friends, please keep my mom Isabel in your prayers. After catching my cold last week, I feared she might develop pneumonia as she once did on a previous occasion. Well, today, to the sound of her complaining and insistence that she was okay, I took her to see a doctor and guess what he said? She has pneumonia. He has put her on a strong anti-biotic for the next five days. He said this medication should do the trick (from his mouth to God's ears).

Say a prayer for her if you get a chance. Thank you and God bless you.

Addendum:
My friends, on behalf of myself and my mom, I would like to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for your prayers and for your thoughts (especially Auntie A).

Mom ate tonight some chicken soup that I made for her and drank plenty of fluids, just as the doctor instructed. She still has the occasional shortness of breath, but I believe this is normal due to her condition. She does have an inhaler to assist her with those episodes (please tell me if I'm wrong in thinking her shortness of breath is, for now, normal). She has an appointment this Thursday with her doctor to re-evaluate her condition. Please continue to keep her in your prayers.

Again, THANK YOU for your kind gestures and for your prayers..

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pelosi and the Pope

Whited sepulcher Nancy Palosi met with Pope Benedict today in Rome for a meeting that was unusually private. During their behind closed door conference, Pope Benedict reportedly emphasized the duty of Catholic politicians to protect and uphold the dignity of human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. No photos were taken of the meeting, and the Vatican did not elaborate on other topics that may have been discussed. Pelosi's camp issued the following statement:

"In our conversation, I had the opportunity to praise the Church's leadership in fighting poverty, hunger and global warming, as well as the Holy Father's dedication to religious freedom and his upcoming trip and message to Israel. I was proud to show His Holiness a photograph of my family's papal visit in the 1950s, as well as a recent picture of our children and grandchildren."

Is that not the most adorable thing you've ever heard?? Oh, Nancy, you make me proud to be Catholic!

Now can someone please tell this insufferable Jezebel to cease and desist attempting to theologically justify the destruction of unborn human life? It's bad enough that this politically savvy charlatan secularly endorses this type of procedure, but it's inexcusable to use a tradition that stands for LIFE as an apologia for this terrible inequity.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

If you have the time

...take a listen to Part's beautiful Salve Regina (turn your volume up for this one).

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Unnerved Flier

Are any of you nervous about flying? The tragic events of Continental Airlines Flight 3407 brings this question to mind. I will admit to you that when it comes to flying, I make the Cowardly Lion look like an adrenaline junkie. And despite the fact that I've flown on many occasions, the mere sight of an airplane taking off makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Here in Las Vegas, the airport is less than one mile from the Las Vegas Strip. As a matter of fact, you can literally cross the street from the MGM Grand Hotel and stand on grounds that belong to McCarran International Airport.

I haven't flown for a while, but I can tell you that nowhere but on an airplane do I pray Rosary after Rosary until I feel the landing gears of that airplane touch the earth. And before take-off, I look out the window to make sure the flaps are down (years ago a plane crashed after take-off when the pilots failed to put the flaps down). So, when it comes to flying, are any of you as terror-stricken as I am? I almost find my condition comical. Sports commentator John Madden will not fly, and there are no "if's", "and's", or "but's" about it. The man will not set foot inside an airplane even if a game is taking place in Hawaii.

Part of what makes me nervous about flying is that I don't think many airlines take the necessary safety measures to ensure that the aircrafts they operate are optimally safe. Many use the cost-to-benefit ratio to implement safety measures recommended by the NTSB. For example, the NTSB might recommend rewiring a specific type of aircraft because it concluded - after an accident investigation - that faulty wiring contributed to a crash. The airline companies then look at the cost of rewiring their airplanes, which might be 10 million dollars per plane, and decide that it's cheaper to settle with the families of the deceased (it's usually 2 million per victim)) than to refit their entire fleet with new wires. Having said that, watching this video should put into perspective just how safe flying really is. No matter how you may dislike the process of taking to the skies, the numbers don't lie.






The Airbus 380 - Europe's most recent contribution to the fleet of commercial airliners - carries over five hundred human beings inside its fuselage. Can you imagine an accident involving something so massive? God forbid.

Yes, I'm acutely aware of the fact that when it's your time to go it's your time to go. But what a horrific way to exit.





Pray for the victims of Continental Airlines Flight 3407 and their families.