Tuesday, September 30, 2003

I've been putting together a private web page for our Ss. Peter and Paul Schola. Since I've blogged our music since I started this blog (August 2002) I was able to get a good snapshot of the music we've done... and while it's good, there's a lot of repetition. That's partly due to our limited rehearsal time and so forth.. still, we need new music. In particular I think we need some good songs for communion. If you have a suggestion for good (preferably Renaissance) motets for communion, please leave a comment or an email.

Monday, September 29, 2003

I had some good news over the weekend. I was cat-sitting for a friend, and while I was over there I used her scale. I'd not weighed myself since May or so -- I used to use the scale at my previous job but since I'd started my new job I'd not weighed myself. The good news is that I now weigh 208! I have lost about 14 lbs. since May, roughly a pound a week or so. This puts my Body Mass Index at 29.8. I have gone from "obese" to "overweight". My goal weight is around 175 - 180 lbs., which besides the fact it's about the high end of 'standard' BMI is also a little less than I weighed in college. I'm hoping that with a continuation of the things I'm doing now I'll get to this weight next spring.
This is good -- in case you ever needed the directions! (Thanks to Mark Shea for the link)
Yesterday afternoon I went to the Tucson Film Society's fundraiser, the West Side Story Sing-Along. This was a really fun event! There was a costume contest, and some introductory "study hall", followed by the movie itself. Each song in the movie had the lyrics subtitled for easy follow-along, and the audience dutifully sang along, snapped their fingers, hissed Officer Krupke, and generally had a terrific time. This is the second one of these TFS has done (the first was "Sound of Music"), but the first I had been able to attend. The next one is going to be "Wizard of Oz" sometime later in the fall.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Mackovic Fired

Wow! UA football coach John Mackovic has been fired. I must confess that despite all the rumors and so forth I'm really surprised that they would do this. While his tenure has been stormy to say the least, I really thought they would give him until the end of the season.
Saturday night I went to the UA football game against TCU. The Wildcats lost in overtime, 13-10. The game started very inauspiciously with an interception thrown on the very first play by the new freshman quartrback. Still, it was a much closer game than the blowouts we've witnessed in the last several weeks. Greg Hansen's column in the Star is excellent as always:

In any other year, involving any UA football team of the last 20 years, Saturday's 13-10 overtime loss to TCU would have created a weeklong crisis.

Instead, it was a reminder of why we care: a one-night seminar on why college football is so much fun. Oh, what Tucsonans would give to have a chance to win every week the way the Wildcats had a chance to win Saturday.

The losers played like winners.

Indeed. While it was saddening to lose a game they fought so hard, I was really proud of the team. They fought hard, played as a team, and they didn't give up. All this in spite of an atmosphere where fans are calling for Mackovic to be fired.

It was a great game.
It's been a busy, but fun weekend. Friday night I went to see my coworker Evan's improv group, Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed, with my friend Amber Lee. The performance was about an hour and was a lot of fun. Of course like all improv some things work better than others, but all in all it was a very enjoyable experience.

While we were there we bumped into a woman I went to high school with. It turns out her husband is a member of the troupe. Proving that Tucson is a pretty small place after all, the friends they were sitting with included a guy I used to work with back at Artisoft. He is now working with the founder of Artisoft (Jack Schoof) at NetMedia. Like I said, it's a small place sometimes.

Friday, September 26, 2003

For some reason there is no new Friday Five this week. However, since I forgot to do them last week, here they are a week late:

1. Who is your favorite singer/musician? Why?

Wow, that's hard. Among "professionals" it's probably either Rain Perry or Suzanne Vega, I really admire and respect them both a great deal. Among the amateurs it's probably my friends Maria and Amber Lee.

2. What one singer/musician can you not stand? Why?

That's hard to say. I abhor rap so basically any rapper.

3. If your favorite singer wasn't in the music business, do you think you would still like him/her as a person?


4. Have you been to any concerts? If yes, who put on the best show?

Most of the concerts I attend are classical music concerts, that are concerts and not shows.

5. What are your thoughts on downloading free music online vs. purchasing albums? Do you feel the RIAA is right in its pursuit to stop people from downloading free music?

Well, of course they aren't downloading 'free' music, are they? They are downloading pirated music. If the artists in question wanted to release their work for free they would do so, so the RIAA undoubtedly has the right to do what they are doing. That said, I don't think it's a wise course of action for them to pursue, nor is it likely to be effective in the long run. They would make better use of their time and money to find ways to sell music online legally but inexpensively.

Check out Steve Greydanus's review of the upcoming film Luther. While he's not down on the film entirely, he does say:

...Luther is also a seriously flawed film. Relentlessly hagiographical in its depiction of Luther and one-sidedly positive in its view of the Reformation, the film also distorts Catholic theology and significant matters of historical fact, consistently skewing its portrayal to put Luther in the best possible light while making his opponents seem as unreasonable as possible.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Grr! Eric Johnson on Catholic Light (an otherwise excellent blog) wrote:

I'd have a lot more tolerance for the man if he talked about the injustice of abortion instead of his boutique moral concerns like the School of the Americas, or running interference for Marxist thugs like the Sandinistas. He prattles on and on about the poor, but in this country at least, the "root cause" of most poverty is bad morals: infidelity leading to divorce, illegitimacy, drug and alcohol addictions, etc.

My quarrel is with the last statement. In a comment, I replied, somewhat heatedly:

"Eric, if you really believe that addictions are caused by bad morals then you are a fool. I'm sorry to sound so harsh, but it's true."

To which he replied:

"Gordon, you have an erratic history when it comes to the quality of your posts.

I do think there is a moral component to addictions. Each addict differs in culpability -- some people are more prone to them than others, as medical science has pretty well established. Some are barely culpable. In the later stages of addiction, the addict's will is probably so hollowed out that to say he "chooses" to persist in his behavior may be an exaggeration.

But there is always the element of free will in any action, however small it might be. Addictions aren't like breathing or heartbeats. They do require some kind of cooperation with the soul. If the person chooses the wrong thing, that's a moral problem.

So yeah, I'll stand by my statement. In closing: I pity the fool who calls me a fool! "

To which I reply:

I stand by my statement, and I notice that Eric did not actually disagree in his followup. Instead, he sidesteps the issue and talks about a 'moral component to addictions' which is a VERY different point than the one I replied to. It's side-stepping the question.

I did not for a moment say that addicts bear no responsibility for their actions, that there is no culpability. What I take issue with is the notion that Eric evinced in his statement that 'the "root cause" of most poverty is bad morals... drug and alcohol addictions, etc.' Drug and alcohol addictions are most certainly NOT merely "bad morals" and it is, pardon me for saying so, unChristian to suggest that it is. It also does not square with a great deal of real research which shows real causes for addictive personalities. To deny them is, in fact, foolish.

I'll point out in closing that if I have "an erratic history" in posting, to my knowledge it's only in response to you. I have few or no problems with your colleagues at Catholic Light.

Update: Eric has posted a separate entry on this topic. Here's my response from the comments there:

My objection is that morals has absolutely nothing to do with addiction itself. Addiction is a medical condition that is predisposed for in certain individuals, and is morally neutral.

What is NOT morally neutral, and is in fact sinful, is drug or alcohol use by a person who knows himself to be an addict, or to have an addictive personality. Indeed, the CCC reference doesn't refer to addictions at all, but instead to 'abuse'. Of course, I have no quarrel with the CCC so long as one reads what it actually says.

To put it another way, addiction in and of itself is not sinful, just as SSA is not in and of itself sinful. There is no choice involved whatsoever, and therefore no sin. What IS sinful (with varying degrees of culpability) is acting out that addiction. But to simply say that it is "bad morals" is a dismissive way of dealing with people who are often struggling with a horrible, terrifying condition. Having known a few addicts (alcohol and drugs) myself, I can tell you that an atttitude that characterizes them as having bad morals is cruel and, yes, unChristian. I trust that you meant to state your point more finely and don't really intend to say that addiction is "bad morals", but that abuse is "bad morals".

To put it another way, reading the CCC in context would certainly say that gluttony is a sin. By your way of thinking you would claim that obesity is simply "bad morals." It's much more complex than that and you do a disservice to others when you try to reduce it to a simple formula.

I'll duplicate this on my blog."

Monday, September 22, 2003

I stayed home today, feeling sniffly and having a sore throat. I thought it was a cold but the StarNet website says that the fall allergy season has arrived with a vengeance, so maybe it's that. Anyway I wound up sleeping until 3 p.m. which usually means I was definitely sick.

Over the last couple of weeks I've been doing a lot of fiction reading. In particular I've read the first two Harry Potter books, and all 7 of the Chronicles of Narnia. I was struck once again and how profound Lewis's writing is, and how he conveys such important truths in the allegory form. If you've not read them in a while you might consider going through them again; I think I got a lot more out of them the second time.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Music for Mass
SSPP Latin Schola
Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

Prelude: Attende, Domine (Pius X #202)
Gathering Song: This Day God Gives Me (BUNESSAN)
Penitential Rite: Kyrie (Chant Mass)
Gloria: (Chant Mass)
Responsorial Psalm: (OCP Respond & Acclaim)
Gospel Acclamation: (Chant Mass w/verse of the day)
Preparation of the Gifts: Locus Iste (Bruckner)
I Have Longed For Thy Saving Health (Byrd)
Holy,Holy: Sanctus (Chant Mass)
Memorial Acclamation: (Chant Mass)
Great Amen: (Chant Mass)
Our Father: (Traditional Chant)
Lamb of God: Agnus Dei (Chant Mass)
Communion: O Salutaris Hostia (St. Gregory Hymnal #226a)
Tantum Ergo (St. Gregory Hymnal #242b)
Recessional: Lord Of All Hopefulness (SLANE)
The misery continues. The UA Wildcats were creamed by Purdue yesterday, 59-7. It's been a miserable season, and the really sad part is it's likely to get worse before it gets better.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Speaking as I was the other day 'bout my alma mater, Amphi High is having an alumni reception at homecoming. Check out AmphiPanthers.com for info!

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Prayer request. I talked to my best friend tonight, and her daughter B is ill. She's been having problems walking, and after two MRIs and a bunch of other stuff they think she has some kind of tumor in her back. It's unclear at this time how bad this is and what the treatment options are. Needless to say it's very scary. B is a beautiful child, 13 years old. Please pray for her and for the family. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Wow. A heartbreakingly moving post about 9/11 by an expatriate American (thanks to Aristotle Esguerra for the link). It helps if you know Fauré's Cantique de Jean Racine.

I don't know. I know God was there, that day, and is there now. Not because He favors New York City, particularly, but because He is in every city. (Just like the tenor's voice is particularly, heartwrenchingly beautiful in the second syllable of "fidèle," but is beautiful in every syllable.) The important thing is constancy, and perserverance. Not of architecture, but of the soul. Something that underlies the incidents and accidents, the events and anecdotes, something that remains, even through a massacre, beyond the loss of temporal hope, beyond human frailty and meanness and error. Something that knows we are not perfect but striving to give what we can, what we have, and to live with the knowledge that it is sometimes inconsequential, or unrecognized. And that is much of the time.
Another sad and disturbing story. The body of a fetus was found yesterday at a sewage treatment plant. The fetus was 6 inches long, about 20 weeks of gestation.

"You could see it and know it was human," said Fairbanks, who caught a glimpse of the fetus before it was taken to the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner.

Yes, if we could see fetuses we would know they were human, and there would be no such thing as abortion. Or would there? The human heart can be a stony thing.

Update: The Star reports the medical examiner has determined the unborn girl was miscarried.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

More woes as the Wildcats get whomped by the Oregon Ducks last night, 48-10. It was just grim. The Wildcats under Mackovic have only won 3 Pac-10 games, a 3-14 record for him. Columnist Greg Hansen puts it bluntly, UA football has reached rock bottom.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

As a birthday present to myself, I stayed a night at the Royal Elizabeth Bed & Breakfast in downtown Tucson. This place is just awesome. The house was built in 1878 and has been very lovingly restored. I stayed in Nick Anthony's room. Since I spent a good part of my childhood in older houses (though certainly not this old!) I feel very much at home in them. My room was terrific and the ambience of the house was like a balm. Saturday morning's breakfast was amazing, some kind of fancy pancakes, sausage, fruit, and OJ. There were only 5 people staying there that night and we all had a nice breakfast conversation. It was my first time staying at a B&B but I know I will be back. The Royal Elizabeth is suprisingly affordable. I highly recommend it!
Woo-hoo! My alma mater Amphi High beat CDO 21-17 last night! That's a good feeling!

Friday, September 12, 2003

So I turned 40 today. It was a day with a lot of mixed emotions. In many respects I'm mourning my youth, which I now have to admit is truly gone. I have to say that my capacity for self-pity still can surprise me at times. I've felt a great deal of grief, mourning, loneliness, aridity, and maybe a bit of despair. I look at all the things I don't have and have wanted so much... a wife, children, love.

Perhaps God's particular gift to me is that my birthday now is a day of national mourning. It's hard to allow myself to really get into a pity party when I'm faced so starkly with the realization that for so many this is a day of intense and well-founded grief; that while I face my own loss, others are daily dealing with a real loss so much more intense, deep, and wounding.

There's also the realization that in many ways my life is better than a year ago. A year ago I was unemployed (having been laid off 8/15/02). Now I have a good job, I have lost 25+ lbs. and 4 inches off my waist, I am in better health than ever. Truly I can't complain, God has been very good to me.

Finally, I had many reminders today that I am loved... not perhaps in all the ways I would like to be, but still there are many people who care about me and show me that they do. First of all my family -- all my siblings called me today to wish me happy birthday, as well as my younger niece; my older niece wished me a happy birthday yesterday when I talked to her (9/10 is her birthday). My friends Tom and Amber Lee and Jerry called or wished me the same in person. And I had six birthday cards waiting for me when I came home tonight.

Thank you, God, for the gift of my 40th birthday.
I wanted to ask for a prayer for the repose of the soul of John Badagliacca, and for those who mourn him. I wear a Mercy Band with his name on it. He died in the World Trade center.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

There's a lot to say and blog about today... I'll do it in chunks. For starters, some good columns about today's anniversary:

And, a particularly moving and painful piece, The Falling Man (warning, disturbing image). (Thanks to Mark Shea for the link.)
Help out a good cause! I saw an ad on Blogspot for a volunteer choir for a wedding. If you live near Frederick, MD, you might consider giving 'em a hand. They are not Catholic, but they've chosen some really nice music -- music that ought to be heard on such occasions. Spread the word!

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Latin pronunciation questions... My friend Maria called to ask about some Latin pronunciation for the Pachelbel Magnificat that her school choir is doing. While answering them I did a Google search and found a handy pronunciation guide for the Magnificat. In listening to it, though, it occurs to me that I've always tended to pronounce "Magnificat" with a hard "g" even though I would never (for Church Latin) use a hard "g" anywhere else (not for "magnum" or "regnum" for example). Has anyone else noticed this? The aforementioned website doesn't use a hard "g" so I suspect I'm just tending to be wrong.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

One of the things I'd hoped for when our new Bishop came to the Diocese of Tucson was more open and active communication. It looks like this is happening! Bishop Kicanas now publishes his Monday Memo on the Diocese of Tucson website. I think it's terrific.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Over at Catholic Light, John Schultz asked about appropriate hymns for All Souls Day, which this year falls on a Sunday. While the Stanford "Justorum Animae" that he mentions IS a wonderful piece (I performed it with the Lane Justus Chorale), perhaps it's not as good for All Souls Day as it is for All Saints. Alas, at my parish we will probably content ourselves with Sine Nomine (For All The Saints) -- which is a good song, to be sure. For All Saints Day I'd tend to look for a wonderful piece like the Bruckner "Os Justi", which, properly performed, should make even the hardest of hearts melt and grown men weep like babies. The translation of Psalm 37:30-31 is:

The mouth of the righteous shall meditate wisdom,
and his tongue shall speak justice.
The Law of his God is in his heart
and his steps shall not falter.

There's an excellent recording available from the University of Arizona Symphonic Choir.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

President Bush addressed the nation tonight (here's the transcript). I guess the excitement was that he put a price tag on what needs to be done, and not surprisingly it's pretty high. I find it difficult to get excited about; we all knew this would be expensive and difficult, and of course it is. I'm more concerned with achieving the desired results than with how much it's going to cost, although of course I wish it weren't so expensive.
Triumph of capitalism? Crass materialism? Cynical manipulation of sex-crazed men? It's hard to say, but it occurred to me to check up on Michel of GiveBoobs.com. Apparently Michele's campaign to beg her way to a boob job was successful, and she now is sporting (I assume that's the right word :-)) some new, ah, "enhancements." I wonder what it says about a world where such things happen. If you want to do some good, may I suggest instead Hungersite.com?
This is disturbing. The Arizona Daily Star reports that Al-Quaeda and other terrorists have operated in Tucson at various times in the past. One of those was one of the 9/11 hijackers, who apparently briefly attended The University of Arizona™ in 1991.
I spent my Saturday night watching the UA Wildcats get the living daylights beat out of them by LSU. It was not a pleasant game to watch at all, but I stayed to the end as I always do -- I figure the team doesn't get to leave early, so as a fan I shouldn't either.

I was amused, at least, by the pregame show, where the Pride of Arizona Marching Band marched off (as always) in their (in-?)famous floating block "A". This time besides the block A formed by the band there was a trailing "®". I laughed my head off at this -- UA guards their trademarks religiously, which is why you so often see me refer to it as The University of Arizona™. So the addition of the ® was very funny to me.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Here are my Friday Five:

1. What housekeeping chore(s) do you hate doing the most?

That would be cleaning the bathroom.

2. Are there any that you like or don't mind doing?

I don't mind doing dishes. I do them by hand, and have since I was a kid. I find it relaxing actually.

3. Do you have a routine throughout the week or just clean as it's needed?

Being a bachelor it's what we'd call demand-paged. That is, as absolutely needed.

4. Do you have any odd cleaning/housekeeping quirks or rules?

Not really. My house has a lot of stuff that I need to throw out; I've been in packrat mode and I'm coming out of it now, so there's a lot to do.

5. What was the last thing you cleaned?

I think it was the bathroom sink.
BBC has a report on a new electronic bugle that the US military is rolling out to play at military funerals because there are not enough human buglers to play at all the military funerals these days. The shortage is acute because so many WWII veterans are passing to their reward. There's also an organization called Bugles Across America that is trying to recruit buglers to play for these funerals. If you can bugle, you should consider volunteering -- it would be a great service to our country, and to the families of our veterans.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

YACCS is now saying that commenting will probably be down until Monday 9/8 or so. Until then you can always email me (link at right).
The Star has a really cool article about the Rillito "river" (those of you who speak Spanish will get the point), including some nice pictures. If you've never been in Tucson in the summertime, you've never gotten to see these rivers flowing as we residents have. It's an awesome sight.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

On the way back from the dentist, I passed a truck with a sticker that said "Our Drivers Test Drug Free". I couldn't help but think how amusing it would be to add an "s" to "drug"...
I had a dentist appointment today, a checkup on my periodontal disease. Fortunately it looks like it is under control and shouldn't be a problem. The dentist and hygienist are both very impressed with my progress and that I've been (*gasp*) actually doing what I was asked to do! Hey, they are my teeth and I want them to be with me till I die!
Frank Deford asks us not to hate Anna Kournikova just because she's beautiful. Hey, I think she's terrific. Okay, as a tennis player she's not the best, but I'm sure she could beat the heck out of me. Of course I'd be a bit distracted :-).

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

The Arizona Daily Wildcat reports on a police raid that resulted in 57 people being taken to jail. Not surprisingly the underage students are griping that police should have more important things to do than arrest people who've been drinking. Personally I think it's terrific. In a community that's seen some tragic deaths recently due to underage drunk drivers, the more that this sort of thing can be prevented the better off we all are.

Monday, September 01, 2003

While heading to the rink today to skate, I almost had an accident -- the person ahead of me was turning right into Walmart, and I of course was intending to go straight. A person trying to make a left turn coming out of Walmart evidently assumed I was going to make a right turn as well and almost hit me. Fortunately we both jammed on our brakes and I avoided her by 2 or 3 feet. Sheesh.