Monday, July 31, 2006
(Is it true you guys are trying to get the IOCC to make the Spiritual Exercises an Olympic event?)
And now, a Jesuit joke. I do not mean any disrespect from this, and I have been told by Jesuits that they enjoy it as well. I owe a debt to the Jesuits - they gave me a good legal education and allowed me to graduate from law school atypically without a huge student loan to pay off.
God decides to reward three saints for their good works and calls forth St. Dominic, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Ignatius of Loyola to be mystically present at the Birth of Our Lord.
St. Dominic approaches the Babe lying in the manger. "Oh, God, it is Logos, the Word made Flesh!" he exclaims. "The metaphysics is overwhelming! What a gift that Gos has allowed me to see the Incarnation!" He then steps aside.
St. Francis of Assisi now approraches. "Lord!" he cries, "Look at the cow, the donkey, the animals! All of nature rejoices in the birth of Our Lord! What an honor to be here!" And he steps aside.
St. Ignatius of Loyola now enters the manger. He gazes down at the Holy Infant, asleep in the hay, and smiles. Then, turning to Mary, he asks, "Have you got a school picked out for him yet?"
Sunday, July 30, 2006
The entertainment Web site TMZ posted what it said were four pages from the original arrest report, which quoted Gibson as launching an expletive-laden "barrage of anti-Semitic remarks" after he was stopped early Friday on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.
According to the report, in addition to threatening the arresting deputy and trying to escape, Gibson said, "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," and asked the officer, James Mee, "Are you a Jew?"
Mel has issued a statement in which he apologized profusely:
In his statement, Gibson apologized for what he called "my belligerent behavior" when he was taken into custody.
"The arresting officer was just doing his job and I feel fortunate that I was apprehended before I caused injury to any other person," he said.
"I disgraced myself and my family with my behavior and for that I am truly sorry. I have battled with the disease of alcoholism for all of my adult life and profoundly regret my horrific relapse."
I have always liked Mel Gibson as an actor and director. I hope God gives him the strength to get the help he needs.
Friday, July 28, 2006
The article, unsurprisingly, is written with a biased slant, which makes me wonder whether the writer created a crisis on a slow news day.
Though billions of dollars have been salted away, there still remains an unfunded future liability of $8.7 billion for current nuns, priests and brothers in religious orders. The financial hole is projected by a consulting firm to exceed $20 billion by 2023.
A June survey by the church's National Religious Retirement Office, not yet released to the public, puts spending for retiree care at $926 million last year alone. That compares with a total of $499 million received over the last 18 years from annual special parish collections to aid retirees.
No citation is given for the billions of dollars that have been "salted away," the second paragraph sounds as if the fate of the retirees rest solely on the annual special parish collections.
The retirement realities far overshadow the burden from well-publicized sexual abuse cases, which have cost the American church more than $1 billion since 1950, with tens of millions of dollars in pending claims.
Gotta bring up the sex scandal.
Sisters, who make up 82 percent of retirees, are especially vulnerable.
Between 1965 and 2005, their numbers plummeted from 179,954 to 68,634, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University
The real tragedy is the drop in the numbers. EARTH NEEDS NUNS!!
But wait, have we found the agenda yet?
The problem is discussed in the new book "Double Crossed: Uncovering the Catholic Church's Betrayal of American Nuns" (Doubleday) by former New York Times religion editor Kenneth Briggs. The book's main theme is that church authorities vetoed sisters' hopes for dramatic changes that would provide more freedom and effective ministries in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council.
Briggs writes that the looming financial threat "sapped the creative energies of communities."
See?!?! It's all about the creative energies! A few more prayer labyrinths, a few more seminars in liturgical dance, a few more "Pagan-goddess-statue-disguised-as-archetype-of-Sophia-in-the-chapel" and the problem is solved. But those patriarchs in the Vatican have "double-crossed" the poor sisters. Fortunately, the scandal has been found by a former religion editor for the New York Times, always a friend of Catholicism (catch Mr. Briggs' book, Holy Siege, about the sex scandal).
Oh, now, how can I say that? Well, another article on the book offers more about the viewpoint of the author.
But traditionalists will doubtless dispute Briggs' claim that much of the disintegration "can be traced to the hierarchy's refusal to make good on the promise of renewal" that the world's bishops embraced at the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). Liberated nuns immediately launched an era of experimentation but then "a backlash against it from the hierarchy damaged many sisterhoods beyond repair."
If the men had only "trusted and encouraged these women to follow their own lights, perhaps sisters would have been better able to emerge with sufficient creativity, direction and morale to survive."
Their "own lights?!" How about following Jesus?
Conservatives pin the blame on assaults from feminism and secularism that undermined obedience, belief, cohesion and religious mission. They note the stability and growth in some cloistered houses and in activist orders loyal to the hierarchy such as Mother Teresa's celebrated Missionaries of Charity.
Briggs acknowledges this opposite scenario but brushes past it and largely features the reminiscences, opinions and newsworthy agitation from the liberal side.
Hmmmm . . . maybe those prayer labyrinths cost more than the sisters imagined and they are now feeling a little strapped for cash . . . and for what they perceive as their "rightful" place in the Church.
Any actual nuns weigh in? Yes.
But Sister Andree Fries, the 64-year-old executive director of the U.S. retirement office, disagrees.
She says "the impact is more minimal than one might think" because members of orders "are very much about mission" and not worrying about their future needs. Also, orders are "spending their future retirement money for current bills" — so they are not uncomfortable at the moment.
What about the projected multi-billion-dollar gap? "Is it a big number? Yes," Fries said. "Am I discouraged that we'll ever get there? I'm sobered, but not discouraged, because religious are can-do people."
Some religious orders are financially healthy, but Fries' office reckons that only 4 percent of current sisters are adequately funded for their retirement needs. Typically, the problem is worst in smaller orders.
I hope Mr. briggs' book does not discourage any person from donating to the various collections taken up for retired religious. We do owe many a debt of gratitude (Sr. Andrew Marie, pray for us) and should be generous.
But once again, this book seems to be an attack at the hierarchy of the Church veiled by the "pull-at-the-heartstrings" tactic of the idea of little old nuns eating cat food in their retirement. Because the public likes little old nuns, while little old priests are all likely to be child molesters.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Michael Burton - in the midst of a contentious divorce - killed his wife, Otilia, with a samurai sword outside of their home. The parties' children were inside. That's a very messy - and very personal - way to kill someone.
But there is more to this story. It appears Otilia filed a declaration in which she said she "feared" her husband. I looked over the court's case summary, and I suspect without actually viewing the pleadings, Otilia sought what we call a "kick out" order, that is, tried to gain exclusive custody and control of the family home. But I saw no occasion when she sought a restraining order for domestic violence.
It is not as easy as one thinks. To gain an ex parte order in California's family court - that is, an order from the Court after about 12 - 24 hour notice to the other party (versus regular notice, which code mandates is at least 16 court days) - a party must show that there will be "irreparable harm" or "immediate danger" if the Court does not hear the matter NOW. In the case of domestic violence, that means someone has acted in such a way to cause reasonable fear or apprehension in the other person. Doesn't have to mean actual battery - it can be threats, restraint, destruction of property, etc. If the ex parte relief is granted, a temporary restraining order is granted and a hearing is held within 21 days to determine if a permanent restraining order (not really permanent - anywhere from 6 months to 3 years).
BUT - all you get is a piece of paper. I am not saying it's useless - it certainly is. If the restrained person starts stalking you, it will land them in jail. It can be given to school officials so they know they cannot release children to the restrained person, thus avoiding an "Amber Alert." However, I recall one bench officer in Riverside holding up the order she had just made, and reminding the woman standing in front of her - "Ma'am, this won't stop a bullet - take other precautions as well."
Good advice, indeed. I urge anyone who is in a situation where there is domestic violence or knows of someone in one, "take other precautions." See a lawyer and get a restraining order, but move out or away, make sure friends and family check in on you, carry a cell phone, whatever it may take. I see "bogus" DV (domestic violence) charges, but I also see real ones. Don't let the last one happen.
And pray for Otilia Burton's soul.
Monday, July 24, 2006
I recently came across a blog entitled The Comics Curmudgeon. This blogger provides the type of snarky commentary I can enjoy about some of the daily comic strips that I read in my paper or follow on-line. I got a laugh out of his take on "Mary Worth" today, albeit containing a somewhat crude joke (and the joke is really directed at Mary Worth, who is the town's end-all repository of advice, NOT the BVM). Look at the nimbus on that babe in panel six! I love the "serious" style of older comic strips.
Say, has anyone seen the "near occasions of sin" going on lately in "9 Chickweed Lane?"
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Anyway, as I have posted before, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie Nacho Libre this summer and predicted a mass of "Nacho" costumes on little boys this Halloween. But I also looked into the real story behind Nacho Libre, about a Roman Catholic priest who donned the mask to enter the ring and wrestle for God's cause.
SLAM!, a wrestling magazine, has a great article on Fray Tormenta (Friar Storm), aka Fr. Sergio Gutierrez Benitez, a priest in Mexico who needed funds to help the children in the orphanage he operates, since he himself had been born to a life of poverty (one of 18 children), turned to crime and drugs, and underwent a spritual conversion that eventually led him to the priesthood. But how to come up with the money?
In the beginning, saying "yes" to every child that needed Fray Tormenta's help was difficult to say the least. Money was hard to come by, bills had to be paid and mouths needed to be fed. "I became Fray Tormenta out of necessity. I had to support my kids. I thought that a wrestler made as much money as guys like Cassisus Clay/Muhammad Ali. So I decided I would become a luchador and in one year, I'd make a million dollars and I'd build the 'City of Children'... but it was not like that. My first match paid me about $200 pesos or $20. I said to myself, Jesus Christ... after so much training... twenty bucks! But I was hooked and thanks to lucha libre, I accomplished many great things."
Of course, this was bound to come to the attentition of Fr. Benitez' bishop, who called him to the carpet after hearing rumors of a lucha priest and asked him if it were true. The Bishop was not happy and ordered Fr. Benitez to stop wrestling. God had other plans.
"Well the Bishop wasn't happy to say the least. He told me to retire from lucha libre. I told him... 'alright, but every month I will pass by your place to pick up money for the kids.' He looked at me in silence then said... 'Okay keep wrestling.'"
And his work has gotten great returns:
"I have so much to be thankful for... three doctors, 16 teachers, one public accountant, one private accountant, one priest, 20 computer technicians, five lawyers and five practising law have all come out of the orphanage."
In fact, one orphan has assumed the priest's identity to become Fray Tormenta Jr.
"I came to the orphanage at the age of seven. Then I started training in lucha libre at nine. All I wanted was to become a full time luchador, however, the Father didn't want that," said Fray Tormenta Jr.
"He told me, you have to get a career because one day you might suffer a career-ending injury, then what? But if you have a career and you want to practice lucha libre and you get injured, well, without a leg or without a hand, but you can still work on your career. So I got my bachelor in law, got a post graduate specialization in criminal law and now I work for the government for the state of Hidalgo."
Fray Tormenta Jr. looks over at the Padre. "There are many kids that, when they are little, they say, 'My dad is a policeman' and they feel like heroes themselves, or 'My dad is a firefighter...' and we would say, 'Well, my dad is Fray Tormenta, so be careful if you mess with me'; so we would gain instant respect. To us he is our real father. We have always said it, a father is not the one who creates you but the one who gets you through life."
Remember Fr. Benitez in your prayers. I would like to know more how I can send him a donation for his orphanage. And a case of Ben-Gay for him.
Who said entering the priesthood is for wimps?
I read with amusement the story today about the passing of Harry Olivieri. Harry and his brother, Pat, in 1933 changed the culinary landscape of the Eastern seaboard forever when they invented the Philly Cheesesteak.
What got me chuckling was how they worded it:
Despite a heart condition, Olivieri had showed up at Pat's King of Steaks almost every day until about three years ago. He died of heart failure Thursday at Atlantic City Medical Center in Pomona, N.J., his daughter Maria said.
Well, of course he had a heart condition - 73 years of eating cheesesteaks would do that to ya. But folks, he was 90 years old.
Fromt his I can only conclude one thing - Philly cheeseteaks are good for you. Now I know what I'm having for lunch today!
Requiest in pace, Harry Olivieri.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
'3-TIME DWI' MOM KILLS PRIEST, 79
By KIERAN CROWLEY and DEVIN SMITH
July 20, 2006 -- A beloved Long Island priest taking an evening walk was killed by a hit- run, serial drunken driver on a leafy East Hampton street, police said yesterday.
Monsignor William Costello, 79, was struck Tuesday night by a careening minivan driven by 42-year-old Karen Fisher - a mom of two who had lost her license while awaiting trial for a previous DWI charge.
Cops said Fisher was caught in April chauf feuring her kids around with a blood- alcohol level nearly four times the legal limit.
The elderly cleric - a Garden City resident who was visiting his sister Alice in East Hampton - was tossed onto the hood of the vehicle and car ried some 60 feet into the yard of a nearby home, where he was sent flying through a wooden fence.
He was killed instantly, witnesses said. "His legs were all askew, sticking out oddly," said Jo Anne Ryan, 59, who lives near the crash site on Woodbine Drive. "We rolled him over and he was very clearly dead."
Despite the violence of the crash, which took place at about 7:45 p.m., Fisher kept on driving, cops said. Eventually, she returned to her home, which is not far from the accident scene.
"She didn't attempt to stop, even a little bit," said Ryan. "She didn't make any attempt to help at all."
The incident devastated friends and fellow clergy at St. Anne's Church in Garden City, where the semi-retired priest lived.
"He had a great deal of common sense and a precious gift of gentle humor," said Bishop William Murphy, of the Rockville Centre Roman Catholic Diocese. "He was a priest to the core of his being and a model to many younger priests."
The Rev. Paul Rahilly recalled the monsignor's holy habit of strolling while praying. Cops said Costello was just setting off on a long walk when the horror occurred.
"He would take long walks after dinner and would pray the rosary during those walks," he said.
Fisher was arrested at her home shortly after the crash and charged with DWI, leaving the scene of a fatality and aggravated unlicensed driving - a list of charges that could get her nearly 10 years in jail.
Authorities obtained a warrant to test her blood, and she was found to have a 0.28 blood-alcohol level. The legal limit is 0.08.
She was ordered held on $100,000 bail yesterday.
Fisher faces separate DWI charges after she was caught on April 12 driving with a blood-alcohol level police said was 0.31 percent, said East Hampton Police Chief Todd Sarris.
She also was facing child-endangerment charges because her two sons, ages 8 and 11, were in the car during that incident.
That came after a 2003 incident in which Fisher was arrested for DWI but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of driving while impaired.
Her husband declined to comment when reached at their home.
Dateline LAS VEGAS: This may come as a surprise to those of you not living in Las Vegas, but there are more Catholic Churches than casinos (in Vegas). Not surprisingly, some worshippers at Sunday Services will give casino chips rather than cash when the basket is passed. Since they get chips from many different casinos, the churches have devised a method to collect the offerings. The churches send all their collected chips to a nearby Franciscan monastery for sorting. Then the chips are taken to the casinos of origin and cashed in.
This is done by the chip monks.
Didn't even see it coming ... did you?
From Snopes.com, that finds out the truth behind Internet stories, hoaxes, and wee bumble beasties going bump in the night, a story about one of our own, Ted Nugent. And it's true.
Ted Nugent, a heavy metal guitar legend and devoted (bow) hunter, was being interviewed by a French journalist. Eventually, the conversation turned to his love of outdoor pursuits. The journalist asked, "What do you think the last thought is in the head of a deer before you shoot it? Is it, "Are you my friend?" or maybe "Are you the one who killed my brother?" Nugent replied, "They aren't capable of that kind of thinking. All they care about is, What am I going to eat next? Who am I going to screw next? and, Can I run fast enough to get away? They are very much like the French in that."
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
This led me to thinking - should a priest deny Communion to a parishioner of whom the priests knows his or her sins? If he does, has he broken the seal of the confessional?
Why didn't Jesus say, "This is My Body, take and eat . . . except you, Judas?" I am thinking about whether Jesus knew the grace His Body would bestow and the absolute need Judas had for it, given his circumstances.
I have to think about this more. What are your thoughts? Do you think they are consistent with Jesus Christ?
Sunday, July 16, 2006
While Tom has been demanding a Church of Scientology naming ceremony for their 3-month-old daughter, Catholic Katie is insisting that she be baptized as a Catholic. The stalemate has given way to a grand compromise: Suri will be welcomed onto the planet in an intimate Scientology ceremony - then christened in a traditional Catholic service.
Well, I should hope so. Especially since there has been a - *gasp!* - sighting of baby Suri. Us Weekly is reporting that Kate was spotted in a health foods store with her offspring in Telluride, CO. However, "[a]ccording to the clerk, Suri is 'funny-looking.'"
Any doctors out there? I heard you guys will still put the notation "FLK" on a newborn's medical chart. C'mon, 'fess up!
The bad news? Rumor has it that Kate is carrying the sequel to Spawn of Xenu.
Tayseer (or Taysir) Alony Kate is a reporter for al-Jazeera, now serving a 7-year sentence in the Spanish high security jail of Alcala-Meco. He was convicted by a Spanish court of collaborating with al-Quaeda. The reason – he was granted an interview by Osama bin Laden, the only journalist to be given that opportunity. He could have only doen so with al-Qaeda connections. Therefore, he is a leader in a Spanish al-Qaeda cell.
After reading the article, I am not sure that he is guilty. And the form of civil law practiced by Spain (in fact, many European countries) allows for justice to be denied. We may complain about the American court systems – and there are those out there who would deny a public defender to Zacarias Moussaoui, seeing it as a frivolous waste of money – but this article helped to remind me that it functions as the best-working system worldwide.
Alony is Syrian born, who gained Spanish citizenship in 1988. In 2000, he was a freelancing reporter and was hired by al-Jazeera to open a bureau office in Kabul. Once there, he tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to get an interview with Osama bin Laden, but was always denied. Then 9/11 occurred. In October 2001, an amissary from bin Laden approached al-Jazeera's office in Kabul to say that bin Laden would grant an interview, but only if written questions were submitted beforehand. Alony notified al-Jazeera, who also brought in CNN to assist, and the questions were prepared. Here is what happened:
On October 20 2001, some Arabs showed up at al-Jazeera’s offices in Kabul. Alony was bundled into a waiting car, with no time to pick up camera equipment, notebook or even a jacket. He was taken, blindfolded, to bin Laden’s hiding place - a journey that lasted three and a half hours. When the blindfold was removed, bin Laden was standing before him.
“Everything was prepared. They even had professional cameras,” Alony told the court.
In the interview, he begins by asking bin Laden whether he was responsible for the September 11 attacks. “If inciting... is terrorism, and if killing those that kill our sons is terrorism, then let history witness that we are terrorists,” bin Laden replies.
Alony presses bin Laden on how a devout Muslim like him can justify indiscriminate murder, an act condemned by many Islamic scholars. Bin Laden replies that the “balance of terror” is more equal now than 10 years ago, when the US did as it pleased in the Middle East. “We practise good terrorism, because it deters others from killing our children in Palestine and other places,” he says.
“But what about the killing of innocent civilians?” Alony insists.
“What about the people that have been killed in our lands for decades?” bin Laden replies. “Who said that our blood is not blood and that their blood is blood?”
“So you say that this is an eye for an eye? They kill our innocents, so we kill theirs?” Alony retorts. Bin Laden admits the Prophet forbade the killing of women and children. “But this forbidding of killing children and innocents is not set in stone, and there are other writings that uphold it,” bin Laden says.
At Alcala-Meco, Alony tells me he was dissatisfied with the interview. Bin Laden had refused to answer some questions, and towards the end his replies degenerated into threats and warnings against Muslim countries that “collaborated” with the enemy.
“As I conducted the interview, I could hear the US bombs falling around us, not too far away,” Alony recalls. “What I really wanted to know was how bin Laden felt about bringing so much suffering and destruction upon the Afghan people. I asked him whether he thought Afghans were paying too high a price for his presence in their country, and he was not at all pleased. He called that view `partial and incomplete’.”
When the interview was over, Alony was blindfolded and taken back to Kabul.
After Kabul was bombed, Alony was asked to report from Iraq and moved there to cover the war. After learning that Spain’s leading anti-terrorism magistrate, Baltazar Garzon, had placed him under investigation for ties to al-Qaeda, Alony returned to Spain in summer 2003 to clear his name. Bad timing. As we know, March 2004 saw the al-Qaeda attacks in Madrid.
In November 2004 (after being arrested in September 2003 and released), Alony was arrested and in March 2005, his trial began. There were only two arguments in the indictment against him. Alony “finance[ed] a terrorist network” and “transport[ed] funds for terrorists” when he agreed in March 2000 to bring $4,000 from Spain to a fellow Syrian in Kabul. The other Syrian was named in the indictment as a “known terrorist,” but no other evidence was offered of this. And Alony was accused of helping another terrorist, Mustafa Setmarian, who had once been a guest in Alony’s home in Granada in the 1990’s. When Alony went to Kabul, the Spanish court charged, he used his relationship with Setmarian to gain the interview with bin Laden.
As an American attorney, what disturbed me about the story in this article is the fact that under civil law, the Court asks for the evidence that it wants, which is submitted in writing. Contrast this with our own system, where two adversarial sides present the evidence to the Court. Of course, an American judge controls what evidence is submitted by ruling whether or not it is admissible (assuming an objection was raised by the other party), but a record is established of what an attorney tried to get admitted into evidence so that an appellate court can review it to determine whether the trial court abused its discretion.
In Alony’s case, the judge did not call for any evidence that Alony was in Afghanistan at the request of al-Jazeera or whether it was bin Laden who approached al-Jazeera to conduct the interview. Thus, the prosecutor’s attack on Alony’s professional qualifications as a reporter took on no objections.
Rubira [the prosecutor] told the court: “Alony’s merits as a journalist were not credited before the bin Laden interview. Therefore his journalistic skills could not have been the reason why al-Jazeera hired him.” That statement was repeated in the verdict that condemned Alony for collaborating with terrorists.
Imagine a situation where you are on trial, but the magistrate will decide the parameters of your defense. The war on terrorism is very real, but we cannot toss aside due process and justice to gain retribution. In 2000, a journalist who had been a citizen of Spain for some 12 years went to Kabul and was given – at the time – a lifetime opportunity, to interview the one man whom the world was hunting (and still does). Five years later, his alleged “connections” that obtained him the interview – not anything he did before, not anything he did afterwards in both Afghanistan and Iraq, there was not even any attempt to try to tie him in with Setmarian in the years that followed, recalling that Setmarian was named as the ringleader in both the Madrid and London bombings – was enough to earn him seven years in a maximum security prison after his conviction in September 2005. After a trial where the defendant has relevant evidence to offer, but could not because the court did not ask for it. Indeed, the interview with bin Laden was not included in evidence and yet in his arguments, Rubira said it sounded as if Alony was "talking to his boss [bin Laden]."
Let me use a legal term of art reserved for such rare occasions . . . what the fuh . . .?!?! I support the War on Terrorism, but we, the US of A, have to do a better job thna than and not compromise our system of justice. Leave this stuff for the Europeans.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
But - offer it up to God. One thing that has helped me with extremes in temperatures is to accept the fact that it's summer and you're gonna be hot.
It reminds me of my days at summer camp, which were spent at Camp Marydell, an all-girl's, Catholic "sleep away" camp run by the Sisters of Our Lady of Christian Doctrine. Alas, I see that they have turned the camp into the "Marydell Faith & Light Center" and the sisters have adopted the more modern spirituality of many modern-day orders (egad, I see a picture on their web site of a nun leading liturgical dance, which is always a bad sign).
But when I went there as a wee gurrrrl from the Bronx, the nuns still wore their habits and were led, at the camp, by the saintly Sr. Michael. She stood - at best - about 5'1" and was convinced that there were no bad girls, just some of us needed a little extra prayer. What a sweetheart, she was, and we all loved her. She was the one who stirred in me the thoughts of taking the veil, as so many Catholic school girls do (along with Sr. Andrew Marie of the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne but I'll post a tribute to "Andy" at a later time). If any former Marydell girls come across this blog - quick! What is the recipe for Eggs a la Michael? What color was your cap? And did you ever win "Camp Spirit?"
Sr. Michael had some odd ideas, though, about how to keep us girls cool in the summer. The camp was located at the base of Hook Mountain in Nyack, NY, along the banks of the Hudson River, but even there the heat and humidity took its toll. Which is why Sr. Michael insisted we be served hot Cream of Wheat for breakfast. I remember her telling me that by eating foods that were hotter than the temperature outside, I'd feel cooler inside. Right. Love ya, sister, but I never bought that one.
One thing that the good nuns did tell us was that we could always expect August 10th to be the hottest day of summer. I suspect some of you are already smiling knowingly, but it is because it's the feast day of St. Lawrence, Martyr. Of course. The sisters regaled us wide-eyed innocents around the campfire with the tale of his martyrdom, how he was slowly roasted to death, but had the good humor to tell his tormentors, "Turn me over - I'm done on this side!" Wow! Who needs ghost stories when Butler's Lives of the Saints provided such great tales? The sisters would solemnly tell us to remember St. Lawrence the next time we were feeling warmish and wishing we were back in our air-conditioned apartments along the Grand Concourse or in Park Slope or Long Island City.
Right now, firefighters are battling wildfires out in San Benardino and Riverside counties here in Southern California. We don't fear earthquakes, but when the brush starts to burn, we start to worry. Remember those brave men and women in your prayers.
St. Lawrence, let those who fight the inferno to protect the lives of others, receive your prayers, that they can witness the blaze and keep a sense of levity, because with that hope and resolve is preserved. Pray for them and their families, that they may come home safely, and pray for those who are affected by the wildfires. We ask this in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
For many of you who have seen the movie, you'll understand when I say, "Look - an undead monkey."
Last week, a cooked steak, with bone, was left on a Corelware platter on the kitchen counter. Der Ralph managed to to jump up (not an impossible feat, given his size) and ate it - with the bone and half of the Corelware platter.
We waited for shards of platter to pierce his intestines. We waited for his final, agonizing moments. We waited for a heart attack, since Ralph is 10 years old and is a large breed of dog.
Nothing. Still makes his morning "walkies" seem like running the Iditarod with all of his energy, that has not flagged in the least since he was a pup.
There is only one explanation - Ralph is the Undead Weimaraner. I will be shoveling up 5 lbs. a day of you-know-what for eternity . . .
I have to admit, I am pretty happy about the way my church's logo for our annual fiesta turned out. I designed this using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator and it ain't half-bad for an amateur. No, I didn't draw anything - but through the magic of royalty-free stock photography (for a nominal cost, too), my own photography, and a husband to help guide the shape of a surfboard, I managed to make it happen.
Maybe I can quit my day job and fool around with graphic images all day. On second thought, probably not . . . guess I'll go to court on Monday after all. But, in the meantime, it's a fun hobby.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Wow. I noticed over at Jimmy Akin's blog that quite a few people weighed in on Pirates of the Caribbean, but in the comments ran a subtle thread about all time best movie.
Of course, many a Catholic named Gibson's The Passion as their favorite. But I still maintain that for me, the best movie (and the best book) remains the story found in To Kill a Mockingbird. For myself and other attorneys of a certain age, we would like to attain the paradigm of legal ethics embodied in Atticus Finch. A simple countryman who was afraid to take an unpopular position (he knew the reaction it might garner and as a widower with two small children, his first concernwas their safety) but did so because it was the right thing to do.
(Now, this is a deviation for me since most of the time I enjoy what can only be described as "strange" movies or completely sophomoric ones. For example, I know most of the dialogue to Caddyshack, I think Eraserhead is pretty darn cool, loved Napoleon Dyanmite, and was bitterly disappointed in Michael Douglas' lame attempt to remake The In-laws since only the version with Alan Arkin and Peter Falk is worth watching. Oh, and who doesn't love Harold and Maude? Or March of the Wooden Soldiers with Laurel and Hardy? And was I the only person to understand that Natural Born Killers was a comedy, albeit a very, very black one?)
Sunday, July 09, 2006
I just came back from two-and-a half hours of swashbukling fun, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest." Very fun, the action is non-stop, and the makeup on Davey Jones' crew is superb. Plus Johnny Depp cracks me up as Captain jack Sparrow.
Question: ever notice in movies that whenever someone is about to meet their Maker or sees something evil, they make the Sign of the Cross? Catholic or not? They do that a lot in this film. In one scene, a seaman has been taken prisoner by Davey Jones aboard The Flying Dutchman and is clasping a set of rosary beads. When asked by Davey Jones whether he fears death, the seaman looks at him calmly and says, "I'll take my chances, sir." And is then summarily killed, but at least the nominally Catholic sailor has a small, heroic glow about him.
Beat the heat - go see a movie.
Friday, July 07, 2006
The loser, Obrador, is calling for his supporters to gather in Mexico City's main square this Saturday for an "informative assembly" - why do I hear doublespeak for "riot?" Let's hope not.
Another reason to support Calderon is given byRomanCatholicBlog. Check it out.
Keep Felipe Calderon in your prayers - he's got a tough job ahead of him and his work can make a difference to our country.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Then took Mom and the kids out for a little lunch. I admit, I purposely chose the Togo's Sandwich Shop because it has a Baskin-Robbins attached to it, and it is only at this time of the year can you get America's Birthday Cake. Let me tell you, America's Birthday Cake is my favorite flavor - dude, even the ice cream itself tastes like cake! Go get some while you can.
Took the day off - sat outside 'neath a leafy tree reading, "Death's Acre," a book about the famous "Body Yard" at the U. of Tennessee. Hmmm, I wonder if I could snag a tour while visiting that area next month? Wait, it's August - maybe not.
Headed over to West Floral Park to watch their annual 4th of July parade - you know, kids decorating their bikes and scooters and wagons in a red, white and blue theme to follow a hook and ladder from Santa Ana FD along the parade route. This is the type of Independence Day celebration I love, kids waving, adults hooting, firetrucks keying their woo-woo horns, dogs with bandanas - and Rocket Pops for all at the end. It's a good feeling to wave at someone you don't know and yell, "Happy 4th!" and they smile and wave back, yelling, "God bless America!"
Later tonight - fireworks! Santa Ana allows us to light up our own and frankly, everyone does - why fight traffic at a stadium when you can gather at your curb with neighbors, BBQ, libations, and do your own? Okay, nothing is supposed to go up in the air, although invariably someone sneaks in some illegal ones. but we handle them responsibly and Santa Ana PD smiles and waves and everyone falls asleep with their ears ringing slightly from the noise.
Happy 4th of July, everyone!
Monday, July 03, 2006
I suppose I could use a Sunday afternoon to go see "An Inconvenient Truth" but the thought of 90 minutes of Al Gore with a Powerpoint presentation just didn't appeal to me. Instead, I indulged in more sophomoric pursuits and saw Nacho Libre.
I wasn't disappointed. I think a lot of people in Middle America may not get it, because they may be unfamiliar with lucha, which is Mexican wrestling . . . but then, isn't that what WWF wrestling is as well, wrestling with glitz, glamour, and weird personas? Actually, talk to the kids - one of the more popular cartoon shows on Cartoon Network is Mucha Lucha, which is about pint-sized luchadores.
Anyway, this movie is brought to us by Jared Hess, the same fellow who wrote and directed Napoleon Dynamite. And like that movie, it has its quirky characters. Jack Black is a brother (Ignacio) at a monastery that houses orphans and has always dreamed of becoming a luchador. He befriends a street person and together they become the lucha team of Nacho and El Esqueleto, both to raise monies for the orphans and, for Nacho, to impress the young Sister Encarnacion.
Catholics will get inside jokes in the film and if you are familiar with Mexican culture and especially lucha, you will enjoy it. I love the line when Sister Encarnacion asks, "Why do they call you Huero?" Nacho answers, "“My mother was a Lutheran missionary from Scandanavia, my father was a deacon from Mexico. They tried to convert each other. They got married instead, and then they died.” That is pure Jared Hess for you Napoleon fans ("Do the chickens have large talons?").
When I first started watching it, I thought that Mexicans might actually be offended by it, since it provides a parody of their culture, specifically the backwards, rural lifestyle of poorer peasants living out in desolation (the movie was shot entirely in Oaxaca, which is in the south of Mexico and has one of the lowest standards of living). But fair is fair - if you can laugh at Greeks with My Big Fat Greek Wedding or the Irish with Waking Ned Devine, every group is game. In fact, two senoras sitting in front of me were laughing uproariously, exchanging comments in Spanish (though, heck, they could have been Guatamalans having a laugh at the expense of their northern neighbors, but this being Santa Ana, I doubt it).
Here is my prediction - come Halloween, expect to see pint-sized Nacho Libres among little boys. A character with a mask, a cape, flatulence and a body slam is bound to be popular among los muchachos.
If anyone cares, my avatar is Anna Ludwin, whom I believe is a cousin of some type to my great-grandmother, Apolonia Szczepanick Witowska. She was a Polish immigrant who was sponsored by my great-grandmother and after working hard in America, rewarded herself with a formal studio portrait to send back to family, to show she had "made it." I have the photos as part of my "inheritance" from Apolonia's daughter, my grandmother Wanda Witowska Koretzky.
Caveman, I appreciate you being a gentleman to my female ancestors. You should know, however, that Mom (Dorothy Koretzky Martin) is still alive and is ready to take you out with her mobility scooter. Careful, you don't want to piss off a woman who (1) was born in the Bronx, (2) is one wide-hipped, big-nosed, smart-talkin' Polack, and (3) who probably knows at least half a dozen ways to kill you with her bingo dauber . . . and leave no marks . . .
Interesting anecdote, which I have found to be the rule more than the exception: Una amiga of mine, Sra. Hernandez, was telling me in church today about trying to find her mother a clothes washer in an American border town, down near Calexico. She approached the sales clerk at Walmart and asked, in English, "Do you have any appliances?" The woman stared at her, blankly. Mi amiga querida tried again, in English, saying, "You know - washing machines, dryers, microwaves, stuff like that?" Again, no response. She then asked, in Spanish, "You don't understand English, do you?" The sales clerk admitted that she did not. Mi amiga, con la gran indignación, then went on to tell this clerk in Spanish that the clerk had no right taking a job in America and that she had better learn some English since she was living en los Estados Unidos. I have talked to many Mexican-Americans who are fed up with illegal immigrants.
(BTW, this is why I love mi amiga and if her hijo doesn't become a priest as he says he wants to, I hope mi hija and him will marry, since mi amiga y yo already have the nuptial Mass planned at the Vatican and the combined families will be at her house on Christmas Eve for tamales and my house on Christmas Day for kielbasa.)
Sunday, July 02, 2006
Reading through his thumbnail memory of time spent in each state, it made me realize it is something I want to do in my lifetime. I like to travel, and I have had the good fortune to be able to travel throughout the United States and Europe.
But I have also advised others - before spending that money to go overseas, check out your own country, the U.S. of A. Chances are that even in your home state, there have been things you have not seen, unique places that exist off the beaten path, that you should take the time to visit.
Using this article as a reference guide, I have visted the following, whether for extended stays or quick trips (I won't count "just driving through" unless I stopped there and took the time to appreciate the local atmosphere): Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming. Oh yeah, and Washington, D.C.
Hmmm, not bad - 28 out of the 50. In August of this year, my family and I will visit Tennessee, which will allow me to add one more. But there is still a lot more to explore and some of the places I haven't spent enough time in.
So let's make this an American summer travel meme.
1. How many US states have you visited? 28
2. What was the most beautiful place visited? Easy - the Grand Canyon. Breathtaking.
3. What was the worst place you visited? Lawton, Oklahoma.
4. What was the oddest place visited? Hard one - was it the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD? The monument to the vomiting seagulls in Salt Lake City? Naw, I'll still go with Big Pile of Bones in Velarde, NM, which sadly is no longer there. It was a place where this odd fellow in a stained coverall and a long white beard - Stan Bulis - sold animal bones, fur, rusted tractor parts, just a whole buncha weird stuff. His daughter was a wraithlike creature, just sort of hovering around the place, occassionally shooing the live turkeys that had the run of the lot.
5. Best meal you've ever had? Toss-up - fried walleyed pike at Lambert's Hot Fish Shop in Winona, MN (again, sadly, no longer there) or the "burnt ends" plate at Little Jake's in Kansas City, MO ("eat it and beat it!").
6. Worst regional delicacy you've had the guts to try? Does it count if I only smelled it - lutefisk in Minnesota.
7. Best museum you've visited? For art, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. For science, tie between the Mayo Clinic's in Rochester, MN and The Franklin Institute in Philly. For weird stuff, the Voodoo Museum in New Orleans.
8. Favorite national monument? All the stuff in Washington, D.C. is great, but I have always been most impressed by Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
9. Favorite park? Central Park in New York City, but for the great outdoors, Zion National Park in Utah.
10. Friendliest people? Again, a tie - Minnesota and Louisiana.
11. If someone wanted to visit your town/city/county/state, where would you tell them to go? I'll give first an answer for my hometown of New York City - GET OUTTA MANHATTAN! Too many people stay there and don't get out to the outlying boroughs. Go to 204th Street and Bainbridge in the bronx and have a drink at one of the many Irish pubs. Check the dartboard - if there is a picture of Queen Elizabeth mounted there, republican sympathies lie. If you have to stay in Manhattan, go down to the Lower East Side on a Sunday morning and haggle for a new suit, that you'll buy from a Hasidic Jew who will send you next door to the Puerto Rican tailor to have altered. In Orange County, California, don't just lie on the beach - go down to the tide pools behind the Ocean Institute in Dana Point and take a close look. If a whale carcass has washed ashore, consider it a learning experience. And if you have to go to San Francisco (flowers in your hair or not), get to it by driving Pacific Coast Highway from Southern California. It'll take ya a couple of days but the view is worth it.
Amy Pawlak at Modern Commentaries, you posted that you were under the weather just recently, so I'll tag you! As well as anyone else reading this!
Saturday, July 01, 2006
Got one of my daughter's friends sleeping over tonight, which means I get to accompany two 9-year-old girls to "Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties." Something tells me I won't really enjoy that, but who knows?