Air America, Downey Jr., Gibson & Friends (Music for Mondays)

SR-71 Blackbird, “Velocitus Incalculus”

Welcome to the first MfM post since moving here to Patheos. See that hurtling piece of machinery above? That’s what the good ship YIMCatholic looked like this week. She’s a Transformer, see? Usually a wind powered, bluff bowed vessel good for 12-15 knots, but sometimes, she goes ballistic like the bird you see above. We’ll get to the reason why later, but first let’s put that picture to some music, [Read more...]

Seal Sings A Psalm!

What do you get when you mix Seal’s voice, a jazz band, a full orchestra, and a drum kit, coupled with lyrics like the one’s in this song? Well, when you place all that under the portrait of Our Lord in the banner above, you get a modern day love Psalm.

At least that’s how I hear it. [Read more...]

Ziggy Stardust + SRV = An Awesome Near Miss (Music for Mondays)

I’ve always liked David Bowie, even when I couldn’t stand to look at him at times. The Ziggy Stardust look was interesting, no? But man, Space Oddity is great, and so is Suffragette City, We Could Be Heroes, Jean Genie and lots, lots more. Bowie was looking for a new sound in the early 1980′s and he stumbled upon a blues guitarist who caught his ear at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1982. Stevie Ray, needing to eat, signed on with Bowie and cut the album, though later he opted out of touring to promote it.

My second SRV album

The album that resulted was released in 1983 and was called Let’s Dance. When it hit the airwaves, I remember hearing Modern Love on the radio and liking it. I didn’t really get to listen to the whole album, you know, with head phones the size of Mission Control headset, until I was in Cairo in late 1984. When I did, I remember wondering, who the heck is this guitar player? He’s got a great sound!

So Let’s Dance was also my very first Stevie Ray Vaughn album. The first of many. How good was Stevie Ray Vaugh? Six Grammys good. What follows are some of my favorite SRV-heavy tracks from this album and a bonus track from a practice session for the Serious Moonlight Tour that Stevie opted out of. It turned out not to have been a career killing idea. We’ll go in order of each songs appearance on the album.

Modern Love.  Whoa, I thought to myself, who is this cat on guitar? And come to think of it, I think “modern love” stinks too. Though I had never met it personally myself, I preferred the idea of “old fashioned” love. So I liked this tune from the very beginning.

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China Girl. Co-written with Iggy Pop (who recorded it in 1977), it’s a neat little story song that Stevie Ray’s blues guitar style brings up a notch, or two. The original video is a cool little short film too, complete with From Here to Eternity scenes in the surf, etc. I couldn’t find the longer album version though. It’s gone from YouTube forever, I reckon. This one cuts SRV’s solo to almost nothing. Pity.

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Let’s Dance.  Now we’re cooking! The original album version with all of its jazziness, percussion filled back beats, and, of course, the unfettered SRV blues guitar, for your listening pleasure. Stevie Ray shows he learned a thing or two from producer Nile Rodgers with his guitar playing style here. By this time, I was searching the cassette tape liner notes for the name of the lead guitarist. For the full MTV effect, go check out the little short film on materialism and its dubious benefits here.  Otherwise, stay here and go long!

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Criminal World. On this track, Bowie covers a tune with fairly dark lyrics. Guess what else? He really lets Stevie Ray spread his wings here. Go get ‘em blues man! He really gets going at the fade into the end. That’s ok, because he picks it up on the next song where this one leaves off.

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Cat People (Putting Out Fire). The first hit on the album was actually the first single released in conjunction with a film of the same title in 1982. Remember Nastassja Kinski? I hope she settled down and had a happy marriage and a lot of kids. Don’t ruin the dream with facts, please. Anyway, he re-cut it with Stevie Ray’s take on it. SRV shines here too, and I remember thinking that the drummer is very gifted too.

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Jean Genie. Stevie Ray Vaugh never toured with David Bowie, though that was the original plan after the studio album was cut. For an idea of how the Serious Moonlight Tour would have sounded like with SRV on the lead guitar, check this out. It’s from the practice session recordings leading up to the tour. The visuals here are awful, but the music? Raucous!

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That’s a print! Say a prayer for Stevie Ray’s soul (he died on August 27, 1990 at the age of 35, and today would have been his 57th birthday) and I’ll see you next time.

Pray For Anu Garg? You Betcha!

Remember me and my pal Anu Garg? We went around the block a few times. Well unlike all the other times I’ve posted about him and his A.Word.A.Day website, this time my hat is off to him. Maybe caught wind of today’s readings.

Whatever the reason, in a string unmatched in my memory every single one of the words featured on his list this week had a trademark Thought of the Day that could be appreciated by believers as well as atheists. Amazing grace!

Maybe Anu is starting to come around? I don’t know. He’s gone on record as an atheist (I believe), and as being skeptical about religion. I think it’s safe to say he’s an agnostic. But maybe he’s a seeker in disguise? Weren’t /aren’t we all?

His theme for this week has been eponyms and you can check them all out here. But I’ll share their accompanying Thought of the Day quotes from his current selections here.

Monday: This one’s a home run. If God put one person on this earth (besides Christ Himself) who can convert the skeptics of the world, this is the fellow. My buddy Blaise!

We are usually convinced more easily by reasons we have found ourselves than by those which have occurred to others. -Blaise Pascal, philosopher and mathematician (1623-1662)

You got that right, Anu. Thanks for noticing!

Tuesday: This one’s a double, if not a triple. I don’t know what Galbraith’s religious persuasions were. I know many dub him as a Liberal economist, but I appreciate the great (and prophetic) book he wrote titled The Great Crash. Reading it as a young stock broker prepared me for the storm we have lived through recently. They say history doesn’t repeat itself, but sometimes it rhymes. Qoheleth knows.

Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof. -John Kenneth Galbraith, economist (1908-2006)

Ain’t that the truth?!

Wednesday: Another triple, but with fewer words. I don’t know John Ruskin from John D. Rockefeller, but truer words were never written than these,

When a man is wrapped up in himself he makes a pretty small package. -John Ruskin, author, art critic, and social reformer (1819-1900)

Thursday: Probably a single, but keep in mind that Anu is 4 for 4 so far in his appearences at the plate. We have a genuine streak going on here with this quote. I think he knocked in an RBI with this one too. My buddy Qoheleth agrees.

Time has a wonderful way of weeding out the trivial. -Richard Ben Sapir, novelist (1936-1987)

Friday: Woke up this morning, and what did I see? This kernel of wisdom from a good (and holy) Pharisee! Short, sweet, but a walk-off grand slam for the win (FTW!).

Be the master of your will and the slave of your conscience. -Hasidic saying

Anu? How’d these good seeds get mixed in with the weeds? A minor miracle perhaps? I’m starting to see our relationship with a clearer eye, and in a whole ‘nother light. See you next week mon ami, and I’ll be praying for you and your readers brother.

This calls for a song! Deacon Scott Dodge and I are on the same wavelength,

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Hey Gen-X: Be Rebels…Slow Down…Have Kids…Stick it to the Man

It’s the Catholic thing to do. Or you can keep doing what you’ve been doing, as the survey below reports, and continue on the treadmill to oblivion.

Study Finds Gen-X Overlooked in the Workplace

A new study by the Center for Work-Life Policy finds that despite being the smallest generation (46 million), Generation X might be “the most critical generation of all” for employers.

Gen Xers are of an age (33 to 46 years old) that should put them at the prime of their lives and careers, stepping into leadership roles and starting families. However, a recent study, titled “The X Factor: Tapping into the Strengths of the 33- to 46-Year-Old Generation,” reveals that due to challenges and circumstances out of their control, Gen Xers are taking a different life path.

That’s it…we’ll get them to plead “it’s out of my control” and before they realize it, their “prime years” will be gone ( and be all ours). Bawahahahahahahahahahahaha!

The study found a large number of Gen Xers are choosing not to have children. Their extreme work schedules (nearly a third of high earning Gen Xers work 60+ hours a week), strong career ambition, the current economic challenges, as well as changing mores, and life choices are all factors that contribute to their high level of childlessness compared to other generations.

Looks like we got ‘em right where we want ‘em. Keep working harder kids…that’s the answer! Besides, no babies and no diapers equals no little league games, no soccer, no ballet recitals to attend. This way, you can just keep grinding away for Mammon and the man. 60 hour work weeks can become 70 hour work weeks.

Gen X, born between 1965 and 1978, might be called the “wrong place, wrong time” generation, says the Center for Work-Life Policy. They were hit by an economic triple whammy: college-related debt, multiple boom and bust cycles (including the 1987 stock market crash, occurring just as Gen X entered the work force), and the housing slump. As a result, Gen X is the first generation not to match their parents’ living standards.

And they just might not ever…if they stick to our evil plan. Snicker, snicker.

While these economic woes have impacted most generations, they have hit Gen X the hardest in their work lives, the study found. Due to their own financial concerns, Boomers (grrrrrrr) are not retiring and are choosing instead to work an average of nine years longer than anticipated. This delays Gen X’s career progression, resulting in their feeling stalled in their careers and dissatisfied with their rate of advancement.

Heh. And perhaps we can convince them that it is more important to save for retirement, and worship at the altar of the almighty $$$ than it is to tend to their souls. Cackle, cackle.

Go read the rest here. Like I say in the title, continue to play the game to the world’s music and Gen-X will go down in flames (and so will the “Millenials” and all of us). Go the other way, dare I say it, the Catholic way, and you won’t. And even if you still crash, you’ll have at least lived your life to the fullest.

For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul?

Exactly! The girls can tell you,

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And the boys too,

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All together now,

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Catholic Blogger Goes Missing In Action…

And there are several reasons why:

Reason #10. It’s September 24th, which means it’s only 5 weeks until Halloween! Time for my youngest to get outfitted for the event. Let me present Jango Fett, the father of Boba Fett. Bounty hunting: it’s the growth family business of the future. Henchmen lackies of the world…UNITE!

Reason #12. My daughter is a homeless person this weekend, living in a cardboard box behind the parish hall (since last night) with other members of the parish youth group. Today they are helping out the homeless along with the good folks at Catholic Charities of East Tennessee. I built her the best box I could find, because I want the best even for my homeless daughter. We’ll pick her up tomorrow after the 8 o’clock Mass.

Reason #15. My son is studying for a massive Chemistry test that is due to hit on Tuesday. All weekend long we’ve been building the storm shelter of knowledge by studying and quizzing, and my horror days of high school chemistry class are being revisited. Truthfully, I’ve learned more about chemistry this weekend then I ever did in high school (yep, I never studied then). Orbital notationare you kidding me?

Warning: stormy Weathers’ in the forecast

Reason # 73. My dad, who lives about 2 hours from me, stopped through town for a visit while attending his 55th year high school reunion(?!). We visited, ate barbecue, and paid our respects to my grandparents at the cemetery. Sort of a reconnaissance mission for the All Souls Day vigil I’ve got planned.

Life is short, Fall is here, and it’s a beautiful day. Blogging can wait. If I tried to write anything today, it would probably be like this, but not sound nearly as good.

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Grosse Point Blank Sound Track (Music For Mondays)

John Cusack is Martin Blank

My wife has a theory: the sound track makes the movie. I’m not saying I agree with her 100% on this, but her point is well taken. Some folks know how to adapt music to films, but most don’t. This is the first in a series of posts where I can firmly say, “They got the music right on this one!” [Read more...]

I Hear Guitars…And Lot’s of Reverence.

The English version of the World Youth Day theme song…sing along!

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Thoughts on the Economy: Catholic, and Not

Ok, class. Today’s lesson is on a little thing called “regression to the mean.” That’s a fancy way of saying that when something gets out of whack, you know, like when one thing shoots for the stars while everything else is holding steady, see, well, it will move back to where it belongs. And usually suddenly. Like a bursting bubble, which by now everyone with a pulse and a 401k is familiar with. Right? [Read more...]

For Letters to Sons Like These by St. Stephen, King of Hungary

“My boy, at present you have the fun and I do the work; but your labors are on the way.”

Now, that sounds like something I would say. Today is the Feast of St. Stephen of Hungary, who wrote the words you see above. What follows are a few excerpts from letters he wrote to his son Emeric (who also was canonized on the same day in 1083). St. Stephen is known as the first Christian king of Hungary, and his life is celebrated there with due pomp and pageantry yearly on August 20th.

After learning of him from the good folks at Universalis this morning, I found excepts of his “Admonitions” in an unpublished thesis titled Notes On Parental Advice in the Middle Ages  by George Valentine Kendall. I promptly added them to the YIMCatholic Bookshelf. First, take a look at this long sentence in the foreword to the ten letters to Emeric,

from the Forward,

Since I perceive that all things, founded at the nod of God and disposed by his most manifest preordination, both in the spaciousness of the sky and in those most spacious climes of earth, do subsist and thrive wholly in accordance with the rationality of intelligence; and since I am sufficiently aware that all things granted by the grace of God for the use and dignity of this life – to wit: kingdoms, consulates, dukedoms, counties, pontificates and all other authorities, are ruled, defended, divided and joined together, partly by divine precepts and regulations, partly by legal, partly by juridical, partly by civil, and by the counsels and advices also of nobles and of those advanced in age; and since I know for a certainty that all classes of the world, everywhere, of whatever authority they be, do instruct, counsel and advise not only their retainers, their friends and their servants but also their sons; therefore, most amiable son, companion in this life, it irks me not to prepare for you lessons, precepts, counsels and advices whereby you may embellish the character of your own life and of that of your subjects, in such time as, most high God willing, you shall reign after me.

Maybe Blaise Pascal was taking lessons on long sentence structure from this guy! You don’t have to be a royal though to see the worth of writings such as these being left to our children, not to mention to posterity. “Ich bin ein Ungar!” or is that “Magyar vagyok!?” 


And now for the excerpts, which are really timely given our coming election cycle in the United States.

Excerpts from the Admonitions of St. Stephen, King of Hungary, to his son Emeric.

On the Nobility

The coronation of Stephen I

“They (the various nobles) are the champions of the kingdom, the defenders of the weak, the conquerors of enemies, the enlargers of monarchies. They, my son, are your fathers and brothers. Of these, truly, you should reduce none to servitude, nor call any slave; they should serve you as soldiers not as slaves, rule all of them without anger and pride and envy, peacefully, with humility, gently, holding ever in your memory that all men are of one condition; and that naught elevates, save humility; and nothing casts down, save pride and envy.

If you are peaceable then you will be called a king and a king’s son, and you will be loved by all the knights. If you are choleric, proud, envious, disinclined to peace, and if you stick up your neck above counts and princes, without doubt the strength of the military will be the weakness of the regal authorities, and they will betray your kingdom to the aliens.

Fearful of this, direct the life of your companions with the rule of virtue, that captured by your love, they may inoffensively adhere to the kingly authority, and that your realm may be wholly at peace.Than these doctrines no noble could ask more liberal, no king more efficacious.

On Justice

Hearken to this, my son; if you wish to possess the honor of kingship, love justice: if you wish to be master over your own soul, be patient. Whenever, my very dear son, a cause deserving condemnation comes before you, or some one accused on a capital charge, be unwilling to deal with it impatiently or to resolve with an oath to punish him – which course of action must be weak and unstable, inasmuch as foolish vows ought to be broken – or to decide the question yourself, lest your regal dignity be dishonored by the usurpation of inferior business, but rather send business of this sort to the judges, to whom it has been committed because they decide the case according to its own law.

Fear to be judge, but rejoice to be and to be called king. Patient
kings rule, but impatient ones tyrannize. When, however, something comes before you which it befits your dignity to judge, with patience and mercy or pity judge it, that your crown may be laudable and seemly.

Concerning the Reception of Foreigners, and the Support of Strangers.

In strangers and men from abroad there is such great utility that it can be held worthy the sixth place in regal dignity. Why did the Roman Empire first grow, and why were the Roman kings exalted and glorious, except because many noble and wise men congregated there from diverse regions? Rome, in truth, would be a hand-maiden to this day, if Eneades had not made her free.

His incorruptible right hand

For as strangers come from diverse regions of the provinces, they bring with them diverse languages and usages, and diverse learning and arms, all of which not only adorn the royal palace and render magnificent the court, but also abash the arrogance of aliens. For a kingdom of one tongue, or of one custom, is weak and fragile.

Wherefore I bid you, my son, support those persons with a good will, and treat them fairly, that they may prefer to continue with you rather than to live elsewhere. For if you destroy what I have built up or strive to disperse what I have gathered together, without doubt your kingdom will suffer the greatest damage. Lest that be, augment your kingdom daily, that your crown may be held august by all.

Procession of the
“Holy Right Hand”

On Filial Loyalty

Ancestors ought to be imitated, and sons ought to obey their parents. My customs, which you see to befit the kingly dignity, follow them without the fetter of any uncertainty. For it is a hard thing for you to maintain a kingdom of this geographical position, except you show yourself an imitator of the usage of kings who have reigned before. What Greek would rule Latins with Greek customs? Or what Latin would rule Greeks with Latin customs? None. On this account, follow my usages that you may he held eminent by your own people and praiseworthy among foreigners.

On the Importance of Your Catholic Faith

St. Stephen’s Basilica

My dearest son, if you desire to honor the royal crown, I advise, I counsel, I urge you above all things to maintain the Catholic and Apostolic faith with such diligence and care that you may be an example for all those placed under you by God, and that all the clergy may rightly call you a man of true Christian profession. Failing to do this, you may be sure that you will not be called a Christian or a son of the Church.

Indeed, in the royal palace, after the faith itself, the Church holds second place, first constituted and spread through the whole world by His members, the apostles and holy fathers, And though she always produced fresh offspring, nevertheless in certain places she is regarded as ancient. However, dearest son, even now in our kingdom the Church is proclaimed as young and newly planted; and for that reason she needs more prudent and trustworthy guardians less a benefit which the divine mercy bestowed on us undeservedly should be destroyed and annihilated through your idleness, indolence or neglect.

Inside the basilica…

My beloved son, delight of my heart, hope of your posterity, I pray, I command, that at very time and in everything, strengthened by your devotion to me, you may show favor not only to relations and kin, or to the most eminent, be they leaders or rich men or neighbors or fellow-countrymen, but also to foreigners and to all who come to you. By fulfilling your duty in this way you will reach the highest state of happiness. Be merciful to all who are suffering violence, keeping always in your heart the example of the Lord who said: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice”.

Be patient with everyone, not only with the powerful, but also with the weak. Finally be strong lest prosperity lift you up too much or adversity cast you down. Be humble in this life that God may raise you up in the next. Be truly moderate and do not punish or condemn anyone immoderately. Be gentle so that you may never oppose justice. Be honorable so that you never voluntarily bring disgrace upon anyone. Be chaste so that you may avoid all the foulness that so resembles the pangs of death.

All these virtues I have noted above make up the royal crown and without them no one is fit to rule here on earth or attain to the heavenly Kingdom.

****

Tragically, St. Stephen’s son Emeric died in a hunting accident, and predeceased his father. The infighting over who would succeed him troubled him for the rest of his days. Upon his own death, St. Stephen was buried alongside his son.

Ludwig von Beethoven composed an overture in honor of this saint and king. Here it is played beautifully by the Motif Orchestra conducted by Chun-Lung Hsu. I bet St. Stephen got a kick out of this performance.

St. Stephen of Hungary, pray for us!

More on St. Stephen can be found here and here on the YIMCatholic Bookshelf. 


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