Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Just the basics

Neato!  It’s the isolated vocal track of “Under Pressure” — just the two voices, nothing else.

This song, in its original, familiar form, always gave me hives because it’s like one of those recipes where you combine two fantastic and expensive ingredients, but rather than blending and melding to make something new and great, they just fight with each other.  I love Bowie and I love Freddie Mercury, but I never understood why everyone’s so ga ga about this song.  This stripped down version is a different take on it, anyway, and if it doesn’t exactly make the song work, it’s fascinating to listen to.  Holy cow, what talent.  I forgot how powerful Bowie’s voice is, and how otherworldly Freddie Mercury can sound.

This isolated vocal track of “Under Pressure” is more of a curiosity, but I just found out that there is a stripped down version of The Beatles’ album “Let It Be,” and that is something that really needed doing. (I guess they had brought Phil Spector on board to produce it, and then the main reason they made “Abbey Road” (which was made mostly after “Let It Be,” but released first) was so they could leave the world with one final actual Beatles album, since “Let It Be” kinda wasn’t.)

I grew up listening to a lot of “oldies,” and I like the whole Wall of Sound thing a lot, but setting it up behind The Beatles is like covering the Parthenon in chrome. “The Long and Winding Road,” especially, was just screaming to be left alone, and they had to crap it up with six inches of schmaltz — unforgiveable.  Here is the painful original:

and the stripped-down version, just vocals, guitar, and piano:

Whew!  Much better.

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The book my sister, Devra Torres, helped translate and edit is now available from Scepter Books:

Encountering Christ: Homilies, Letters, and Addresses of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Pope Francis)     



Here is the short interview I did with her about the experience of translating Bergoglio’s words; and here is an entertaining post she wrote on her blog, giving a little preview of the riches to be found in our new pope’s words.

The book is available in paperback and Kindle.  Looks like a great read, with lots of variety.  Check it out!

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Making marriage “risk-proof” is making marriage love-proof.

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A reader writes:

 I’ve got a Catholic friend who is sorely in need of some good reading materials on the main concepts in Theology of the Body. She buys into very secular views of contraception, abortion, marriage, and sex in general, and has admitted a total lack of education regarding the Catholic teaching on the subjects, as well as a (reluctant) interest in obtaining said education.

I’m looking for something that’s intelligent, readable, down to earth, doesn’t assume that you already agree with the Church teaching, and hits all the main points without an angry polemical vibe. I checked out some stuff by Christopher West, but didn’t like it too much.
Any suggestions, smarties?  If you have something to recommend, it would be very helpful if you could say a few things about why you liked it, or what kind of audience it would be appropriate for.

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Pee S. A.

We once had this cat who hated our guts.


(image source)

The kids named her “Cleo.”  We thought she was our pet; she thought we were her captors.  She was an indoor cat because I couldn’t catch her long enough to put her in the chew-proof box we purchased after she chewed through the pet carrier we purchased to bring her to the vet to get her shots.  I tried and tried to catch her, but we lived in a house with staircases on both ends, and I was pregnant — so around and around we would go.  She would scamper up one set of stairs, sit at the top and watch me struggle and clamber halfway up, and then -whisk!- away she would go, across the house and down the other set of stairs.

At one point, Cleo chewed a hole in the wall of the laundry room and lived inside the empty space,  haunting us like a furry black demon with her scuffling noises.  The only time she wanted anything to do with me is when she went into heat, when she would follow me around the kitchen, backing up, gazing at me with pleading eyes, and emitting the most pitiful yowls.

Anyway, she had one particular trick to show us just how much she despised us for sheltering and feeding her.  She would sit on the futon, waiting for me to come into the room.  As soon as I made eye contact, she would pee.  Then she would get up and leave the room, brushing past my ankles in a devastatingly ironic pantomime of normal feline affection, just to show me she could if she wanted to.

Don’t ask me why we kept this horrible animal around for as long as we did.  She was our first real pet, and I guess we figured we should keep her for the kids’ sake — although what good it did them to have a pet who lived inside the walls, I don’t know.  Anyway, while she was around, I got pretty good at getting pee out of things.  I made many batches of this special cleanser, and it always worked:

  • 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of liquid soap

Gently mix all ingredients in a non-metal container. Do not mix or shake vigorously.  Saturate the stain with the liquid, and allow it to air dry (which might take 24 hours, I forget).  It should smell fine once it’s dry, but you may have to do a second time.  You can use this on any item or surface that can get wet — so, not wooden floors, but grout or concrete floors or just about anything else.  It does leave a ghost of a mark on light fabrics, but it’s better than pee!

Oh, so one day, I ran out of kitty litter, and I had a moment of clarity about this “pet.”  I opened the door and she took off like a streak.  We never saw her again.  Other creatures have left their mark on our house and belongings since then, but nothing ever smelled as bad as Cleo’s Anger Pee.

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No interview with Michael Coren. Couldn’t get Skype to work properly.  Looks like I took a shower for nothing!

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Once again, not really a post about modesty, but about responsibility. 

Later today, I’ll be doing a brief spot talking about modesty on the Michael Coren show The Arena.  It will be via Skype.  I have a bad internet connection, I will be home alone with three kids age five and under, and I don’t have any clean walls to use as a backdrop for my talking head.  Also:  talking about modesty on TV?  Are you freaking kidding me?  WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR??????

But other than that, I’m fine.


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This is why . . .

I love Mark Shea.  I don’t agree with everything he says, and I don’t always agree with the way he says the things I agree with.  But when he apologizes, he apologizes.  Take note, everybody who’s ever sinned!  I also know through personal experience that he is a generous man to the core.  I understand that sometimes the Holy Spirit makes our sins stand out to us in high relief; but I hope that Mr. Shea will also have his merits shown to him.   His clarity, honesty, and perseverence have converted my heart more than once.

Also very interesting was this passage in his mea culpa:

 I mentioned things living under the rocks.  One of the things that lives under the rocks in my heart has been a deep and abiding fear, a kind of heart conviction about the universe that long predates any conscious relationship with God I formed as an adult (recall that I was no raised Christian). I’m not saying it’s a truth about the universe. I’m saying it’s something more like a broken bone in my soul that never knit right. And what it comes down to is a pattern of assuming that I am, at best, a tool of God, not a son of God and certainly not somebody God loves.  And with that has been a fear that, at the end of the day, once my utility to God is spent I would be tossed away like a candy bar wrapper.

Do you remember when “six word autobiographies” were all the rage?  It can be either a lark or a searing experience to try to distill your life’s story into six words.  I came up with a few that made me laugh, but it was a turning point for me when I came up with this one:

It wasn’t anger; it was fear.

That doesn’t excuse bad behavior, but it does help explain it; and understanding why you do the things you do is a huge step toward starting to stop.

Anyway, whether you love Mark Shea or can’t stand him, check out his mea culpa, and say a prayer for this courageous and good-hearted man who has been put into an outrageously demanding field.

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Our first day at the beach, finally! We went for a quick evening dip at the town pond. First I had the camera:


and then, seconds later, my husband had it:



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Ohhh, I get ranty.

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