A Thought

As I finish off picking the stories and contacting the authors for “Tales of the Once and Future King”, I wondered if it might be a decent idea for me to put out a book of review/analysis essays.

I’m no John C. Wright and CERTAINLY no Tom Simon, who is the modern essay master, but occasionally people seem to enjoy my analyses of pop culture and I think, at least, I do have a unique perspective on several things due to me being a rather unusual bird – a Catholic who actually takes the Church seriously, enjoys musical theater, and can probably be fairly accurately called a pre-enlightenment conservative.

I certainly wouldn’t presume to do any essays on writing, except possibly insofar as what an editor looks for. The key is not to go into subjects I’m not qualified to talk about.

But “The Philosophy of Serenity”, “So you made it into Hufflepuff”, and “The Problem with the Problem of Susan” seem to be three pretty good starting points for a book that might interest some people.

Just getting some feelers out; basically I want to know if people find my thoughts on those sorts of things interesting enough to pick up a three dollar e-book on them.

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Let’s Get Classical

Currently I’m teaching myself the piano; I’ve owned one for a long time now (paid for by me and transport paid for by my parents as a gift), but never learned it. I’m attempting now to stubbornly turn a new leaf and start improving myself, and learning piano is a good start to that; it’s also a good way to correct problems with procrastination. Dedication is needed. My school year looks to be packed and extremely difficult, so I’ve decided I will cut out all recreational pursuits except for piano, which is really only recreational in the sense that it’s not school related. Either way, this will ensure everything I do during the school year will be productive in some way or another.

In light of this, I’ve decided to try to take another shot at listening to classical music. I’d taken a couple of cracks at it in the past, but much as with classical novels, I’d always bounced off. But, not this time! I’ve decided to start with Beethoven, who of the few I’d tried to listen to I was always fondest of. He combined technical precision with pure emotion beautifully.

“Might as well go big or go home,” I thought, and started right in on Beethoven’s 9th Symphony; I imagine if I’d asked I would have been told not to start with something so ambitious.

I’m still glad I did. “Reviewing” the ninth symphony is sort of like reviewing “The Iliad” or “Paradise Lost”; what can you really say? It surely has to be the pinnacle of western music. I’ve listened also to his Moonlight Sonata, his fifth symphony, and Fur Elise, and the third symphony (Eroica, one of the most influential pieces of music ever, apparently) is on in the background right now. But nothing has quite matched up to the brilliance of the ninth. I don’t connect well with classical music, as I’d said, and this was no exception – but the sheer ambition and brilliance of the work is undeniable. How somebody conceived something like this, and actually had the technical skill to write it down and coordinate it into a cohesive whole, is utterly mind-boggling. I can’t even imagine it. And he wrote it when he was completely deaf! How is that even possible?

Beethoven is a fascinating guy, though of course by now most people probably know that. He really is inspiring, though. I always found it very moving and telling that the final great piece that Beethoven, a man who at one time considered suicide due to his declining hearing*, wrote was the Ode to Joy…and the final piece that Mozart, by all accounts a much happier and buoyant man, wrote was a Requiem.

This is a bit unfair, as Beethoven did write other things after the symphony, and the Requiem Mozart wrote was commissioned by somebody else. Nevertheless, the fact that the ninth symphony was written by a deaf man who once considered suicide is, as far as I’m concerned, nothing short of a miracle.

*I found his Heiligenstadt Testament very moving and inspiring.

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Some Great News

A friend of mine has just announced that he has answered the call to the Priesthood, and been accepted into the seminary!

He doesn’t know about this blog (none of my close friends do save one), so I won’t mention his name. But I will tell you a bit about him so you can understand why I’m thrilled.

First is the slight sense of slight unreality about it all. Mark, as we’ll call him, and I are not close friends, but we’re definitely more than acquaintances. Mark, in fact, was the star of the first show I ever got a significant role in; he was El Gallo in my high school’s production of “The Fantasticks” (the one who sings “Try to Remember”). The show only had an eight person cast, so everybody became fairly close with each other, and we actually had a couple of scenes of direct face to face dialogue. So I knew Mark well and definitely consider him a friend.

It’s hard to describe Mark to people who never met him, and I don’t want to get too detailed either. He was a tall guy with a deep voice. He probably could have been intimidating if he wanted to be, but he wasn’t. I only remember him raising his voice once, when our cast was fooling around some way or another. I don’t remember what he said, but whatever it is we all felt immediately guilty and got back to our places without further distraction. He had that effect on you.

I mentioned a long time ago that I had one friend who I was always intensely jealous of; that friend is not Mark, though it well could have been. At graduation, he must have gotten the equivalent of five free rides to college. Everybody loved him, and I mean everybody; I literally can’t even think of a reason somebody would have to dislike him. He was even friends with the teachers, and this somehow improved rather than lessened his social standing. He was just that kind of guy

But I feel like I’m not doing this right; like I’m describing an idol, not a person. Perhaps two stories will help hit home why everybody loved him and, at the same time, why this all feels slightly unreal.

Both stories take place backstage during the school production of “The Wizard of Oz” (he was the Tin Man; I was the Wizard). At one point, a group of us were fooling around some way or another the way high schoolers tend to, when this exchange occurred:

Girl Number 1: Oh my God! I just aborted a hypothetical baby!

(Mark walks in while she says this)

Mark: Go with God.

And then he walked out and left us all in stitches.

The second time, Mark was having a conversation with a group of people – whether I was included or just witnessed it, I can’t recall. His younger brother, also in the cast, was something of a ladies man, in some ways the opposite of him (and in others extremely similar). In the background his brother – let us say John – took out his phone and got a photo of himself with his arms around two giggling girls.

Mid-conversation he runs up to Mark. The exchange went like this:

(Mark is currently speaking. John runs up.)

John: DUDE DUDE DUDE

(Mark stops talking, and John shoves the photo of him with the giggling girls in his face)

Mark: Bitchin’.

(Goes back to his previous conversation as if nothing had happened)

This was the Mark I knew. He had a dry, sardonic wit, and if you talked to him you learned quickly that he was hilarious.

He was also not, shall we say, entirely Priest-like. He certainly went to the school prom, and if I remember correctly with a girl he considered more than a friend. What else happened, I cannot say and don’t want to know.

Perhaps most importantly – Mark was and is incredibly devoted to Catholicism. He was a member of the Columbian Squires, the teenage branch of the Knights of Columbus (as was I), and its leader. He went to the March for Life every year, went each Easter season to go to a Mass at a local eastern Catholic Church, and was practically personal friends with our theology teacher (a brilliant man who along with Dr. Feser instilled in me a love for theology and the logical side of faith). I know that today he often volunteers with the Sisters of Charity, and have seen him occasionally championing their various legal causes (generally relating to Obamacare forcing them to fund contraception).

With a Church in crisis and modernism arrayed against us on all sides, men like Mark are exactly who we need in the priesthood. We should be so blessed that everyone who joins is like him.

One last thing: I had a conversation recently with a friend about this. Paraphrased, this is how it went:

Me: Did you hear that Mark is becoming a Priest? That’s fantastic news!

Friend: Wow! Yes it is. I’m kind of surprised.

Me: Well, of all the people we knew, he was probably the most likely one.

Friend: Yeah, I guess. Him and you, actually.

Words for me to think about…

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Thoughts on Early Suicide Squad Reviews

To be honest, it still sounds pretty fun to me. Even the bad reviews just sound like the movie is exactly what I expected and hoped it would be. The only thing that looks slightly disappointing is that Jared Leto, whose Joker looks like a blast, isn’t in it more, but apparently Harley Quinn and Deadshot are so good it shouldn’t matter too much.

I mean, one of the songs in the trailer was “Ballroom Blitz”. If you weren’t expecting something of a chaotic mess…what were you hoping for.

The only thing that really would have bothered me is if they said it was boring, and that’s one word I haven’t seen crop up yet. So I’ll still see it.

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I’ll take headlines that lie for 500, Alex

Yahoo headline: Trump Rally Cry: ‘Get the baby out of here’

Actual quote given in article: “Actually, I was only kidding, you can get the baby out of here,” the business mogul said to laughter. “That’s all right. Don’t worry. I think she really believed me that I love having a baby crying while I’m speaking. That’s OK.

I think this speaks for itself.

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Comic-Con Trailer Thoughts

Luke Cage: Looks excellent. I’m still suspicious that it’s going to get the SJW treatment (the temptation to go that route with a black superhero on a network that not nearly as many people care about has to be strong), but the trailers look good enough that I’m optimistic anyway.

Excitement Level: 7.5 of 10

The Defenders: That doesn’t even count as a trailer. It tells me nothing.

Excitement Level: ????? of 10

Wonder Woman: Sort of interesting, and Gal Godot is PERFECT for the role, but it looks like a lot of disjointed images all mashed together into what’s otherwise a typical humorless DC origin story. I do like Chris Pine, though, so there’s that.

Excitement Level: 4.5 of 10

Justice League: Now THIS was a much better trailer. It gave me an idea of the story, it gave me an idea of the characters involved, some of what I saw was actually entertaining…good stuff. Of course, the plot also looks almost exactly the same as “The Avengers”, and a movie with an ensemble cast that big is really, really hard to pull off. Not everyone is Joss Whedon, and this movie doesn’t look as good as “The Avengers” anyway. Still, I’m cautiously optimistic.

Excitement Level: 6 of 10

Other Announcements: They’re going to have a season three of “Daredevil”!

Excitement Level: Eleventy-billion out of 10

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The Main Reason I Keep Recommending Adam4D

Here:

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