October 28, 2007

LIFE: LAFAYETTE, INDIANA

Sr. Susan and I just got back from a women's retreat and parish book & media display at St. Bonaventure Parish in Lafayette, Indiana (2 hours south of Chicago). What a great, fervent parish! So many programs that they have a separate bulletin just to list all the programs! Lot of young families with 6 and 7 children. We stayed with the Mishawaka Franciscan Sisters who teach at the school, help at the parish and at their hospitals in the area. An overflowing Spanish Mass also. Praise God.
(Most of Indiana is on EST except Lake and Porter counties and Evansville.) Indiana has "In God We Trust" on their license plates.
 
 

LIFE: YOU KNOW YOU'RE IN THE MIDWEST WHEN....

October 25, 2007

TV: CSI-NY AND "SECOND LIFE"

Another milestone for TV. Last night, CSI-NY rather successfully incoporated a plot involving a murder that involved the interactive role-playing website "Second Life." The older detective (Gary Sinise) had to learn from his younger colleagues how to navigate Second Life's virtual world. Sometimes the TV screen was filled with the website, other times we were looking over a CSI-NY character's shoulder, and then they blew up theh screen wall size and interacted with it. Very well done. Very postmodern! The killer had secret identities. Man, woman? Identities were stolen. People dressed like their avatars in real life. Sleuth-work was done in part by trying to find out exactly where people were getting online in real world geography. Pretty darn fascinating. And colorful. The episode was an elaborate ad for Second Life, teaching viewers how to use it. The fun continues at cbs.com (pairing with Second Life) where, in the future, we'll be able to examine crime scenes as we watch episodes. If this catches on, it could be a "second life" for "Second Life"!

TV: CALIFORNIA FIRES

A news station highlighted a family who lost their house. The Mom simply said: "I have a lot to be grateful for. My kids are safe. I have insurance. God is good."

RADIO: DICK BIONDI, TRUE OLDIES STATION, 94.7

Dick basically told everyone to pray for California every ten minutes during the worst of the fires. He kept saying things like: C'mon, you know the power of prayer...the prayer is working.....keep praying.... Let's ask the Good Lord for some rain....etc.

October 24, 2007

LIFE: OFFICIAL WEBSITE FOR CANONIZATION OF PAPA!

You can ask for relics here ("request for holy card with ex indumentis")
Click on the British flag for the official English prayer for favors through Papa's intercession.
 
 
 

LIFE: SERVANTS OF GOD'S LOVE--ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN

Ann Arbor, Catechetical Display
Servants of God's Love. (Sr. Anne Shields is third from left.) They are one of at least four communities of Sisters with a charismatic spirituality: Servants of God's Love, Disciples of the Lord Jesus, Sisters of Jesus Our Hope, TOR Franciscan Sisters (Steubenville).
Servants of God's Love chapel.
Michigan deer can be seen out the window on the left...

BOOKS: CATHOLIC WRITERS SERIES--DEPAUL UNIVERSITY, CHICAGO

Upcoming Events:

2007-2008 Catholic Studies Program Lecture Series:
"Writing and the Catholic Imagination"
Click here for the Series Flyer

"Sinners and Saints: Charting the 20th-Century Catholic Literary Revival"
This inaugural lecture in the series will focus on the European scene (Russia, France, England), and end with some close attention to Graham Greene.

Where: Cortelyou Commons
When: October 29, 2007 7pm
Who: Mark Bosco, Loyola Chicago

"Autobiography and the Catholic Imagination: Augustine, Catherine, Ignatius, and C.S. Lewis."
A lunch-time panel featuring DePaul University faculty. Lunch will be served, please RSVP to the Catholic Studies Program.
Where
: Cortelyou Commons
When: November 6, 11:30-1:00pm
Who: James Halstead, Jim Smith, Scott Kelley, and Karen Scott

Paul Elie, author of The Life You Save May Be Your Own
Where
: Student Center, Multipurpose Room 120
When: November 8, 2007 7pm
Who: Paul Elie, Senior editor at FSG in New York.

"Catholicism and the American Literary Tradition: O'Connor, Hawthorne, Percy, Poe"
Where
: TBA
When: Winter 2008
Who: Farrell O'Gorman

"Publishing the Catholic Imagination"
Where
: TBA
When: Winter 2008
Who: Loyola Press of Chicago

Marilynne Robinson, author of Pulitzer-Prize winning Gilead and Housekeeping
Where
: Student Center, Multipurpose Room 120
When: April 24, 2008
Who: Marilynne Robinson

Ron Hansen, author of The Assassination of Jesse James and Mariette in Ecstasy
Where: Cortelyou Commons
When: May 8, 2008
Who: Ron Hansen

 

TV: IRANIAN KIDNEY BARGAIN SALE

"Iranian Kidney Bargain Sale"--a documentary with English subtitles was on TV last night.
Young twentysomething Iranians selling and receiving kidneys in a very informal sort of kidney depot. These young people, all though well-dressed, do not have work, good health or are in financial straights. They are just typical young people, some living at home, some newly married. They have misgivings about what they are doing (both donors and recipients, who meet each other and often haggle about prices) but no one can see another "way out." The tone of the documentary is very matter-of-fact with no voice over. The silent question that permeates is "Have we come to this?"

LIFE: MORE CHICAGOWEEN AT DALEY PLAZA!

  
 
 
 
 
 

October 23, 2007

MOVIES: "BELLA" REVIEW--NOT A SPOILER!

"Bella" is a masterpiece of the heart. It is imagining what life could be like if we allowed life to tell us something, tell us something about itself, allowed life to re-arrange our lives. And it would be worth it because life is, ultimately, beautiful. Like the Roberto Benigni movie, "Life is Beautiful," "Bella" is set in dire, sad circumstances, but they never totally eclipse the bigness, the aliveness, the hope, the love and possibilities hidden in them. The whole movie, in fact, gives us an unspoken philosophy by which we might learn to see and hear what we are missing as we forge ahead with our agendas in our hyped-up lives.

 

José, (Mexican telenovela superstar Eduardo Verástegui, Chasing Papi) a soccer hero turned chef, works for his tyrannical brother. Nina (Tammy Blanchard, The Good Shepherd), unmarried and newly pregnant (we never see the father), works as a waitress in the same restaurant. When Nina gets fired, José follows her out the door. A day of friendship and discovery ensues. We learn of José's (and Nina's) sorrow-ridden past.

Nina--unsure of herself and suspicious of life--needs a friend, and José becomes a part of her life at just the right moment. Giving birth is not an option for Nina, and abortion is not an option for José. There is no melodrama, desperation, pleading, sentimentality, urgency, ideology, or preaching. There is only a realistic dilemma, honesty and compassion. We are kept guessing until the astonishing ending.

 

Lest this sound like a weepy chick flick, let me assure you, you will be guffawing  through the whole thing. "Bella" is something fresh. It evokes a sense of receiving life as it comes. Receiving from life. Letting life tell its own story without imposing on it. It is every bit as much a guy's movie as a woman's movie, with a strong male perspective from first-time writer/director Alejandro Monteverde. Abortion: a man's issue? This, perhaps, is why it won first place at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival. OK, I did cry at the very end, when the credits were rolling and the enormity and profundity of the conclusion hit me.

 

The opening beach scene sets a tone of contemplation, but then we are cast into the bubbling pot of a busy New York restaurant kitchen. The contrast is clear. If we want peace in our frenzied lives, we need less of the kitchen and more of the beach. But we have to take the beach with us, and that's going to require some very tough choices.

 

Visually intimate and stunning with a wondrous soundtrack by first-time film composer Stephan Altman, "Bella" is a meditation, a day in-the-life, slice-of-life, the-cracks-in-between-life, hard-to-classify film. The filmmakers bring a Latino sensibility to the work, and while it follows the protocols of American movies enough to assure us we're not watching a foreign film, there's a decidedly different ethos running through it. And we like it. It's unsensationally human. A friend at film school once said: "I think people sometimes feel reduced when they come out of the cinema. They've witnessed incredible special effects, impossibly snappy dialogue and the most beautiful people in the world doing things they'll never do." Some may argue that that kind of escape is exactly what people want—they don't want to see life as they already know it. But "Bella" is not life as we already know it either. "Bella," without the slightest hint of cliché, opens us up to the everyday wonder right in front of us. The already powerful audio brings this home in one haunting, seemingly random scene toward the beginning of the movie. Jose and Nina are on a crowded New York subway, and one of those percussion groups using overturned plastic buckets begins to entertain. Their music is the "I-should-be-happy-even-when-I-don't-want-to-be-happy, happy-in-spite-of-myself, transcend-the-mundane, listen-and-you-can-hear-it-too" rhythm of life.

                       

There is a wildness and freedom to the camerawork, without it being jarringly experimental. It's conventional enough to be comfortable and different enough to be breathtaking. It's like a heat-seeking missile in every scene. What's important here? Where's the heartbeat? I got that rare sense that the camera was a character in the film, telling us the story as only a camera can, especially at compelling, poignant moments—as in life--when words and facial expressions become ridiculously inadequate. Existential moments beyond emotions, beyond even grief, when only a kind of impressionistic poetry will do. The camerawork was so right, so correct at these moments that I found myself nodding: Yes! That's exactly what it feels like! The skillful use of flashbacks and flashforwards tell us just enough of what we need to know in the least amount of time, so that the rest can breathe, stretch out and slow down. The exquisite, organically embedded symbolism hits days after leaving the theater: lanterns, apples, a garden, the ocean….

 

We Westerners like to believe we're in charge. But this movie questions us: How much are we really in control of? As the saying goes, we aren't the one who get to question life, life questions us. Those that do not bend, break. Life is all about change and adaptation and somehow making room for more life. "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans."

 

"Bella" is a "small" movie, but its scope is as wide as the profoundest human quandaries and longings. "Bella," for all its deceivingly understated laid-backness, is humanism at its zenith. It is humans understanding humans. Although we make a big deal out of peace talks and diplomacy and negotiations and the men/women mars/venus split, in the end, it's really not that hard to listen to each other and understand each other's travails. If we'll take the time. And, in the end, as each character overlaps the next, tragedy is communal. We are not meant to bear our burdens alone.

 

After experiencing "Bella," we do not feel reduced, but built up—not on a saccharine high, but on the respect, the reverence that we are all due as that unique human creature: able to think, to choose and to love.

 

 

October 22, 2007

LIFE: GRAND RAPIDS, LANSING, ANN ARBOR

I LOVE Michigonians. Michiganians. Michiganites.
We had a great exhibit for about 800 catechists from the Lansing diocese. This whole area of Michigan was majorly involved in the charismatic renewal, so everyone is pretty fired up: parents, teens, kids. It's very noticeable. The catechists were long-timers (some of them have been volunteering for 20 years or more). The depth and dedication of these catechists were impressive.
However, Michigonian -ganians, -ganites, are the SLOWEST DRIVERS IN THE MIDWEST. I was almost reduced to tears. My accelerator foot fell asleep. Very dangerous.

BOOKS: THE TRUE STORY OF HANSEL AND GRETEL

Our women's book club picked out this historical novel and I was thinking: There are so many true WWII stories, why make one up? I didn't really want to read the book. I was wrong. The author researched an area of Poland embroiled in WWII and brought it to life.
 
"The True Story of Hansel and Gretel," is an incredible could-be-true-story of one family and a small village in WWII Poland. A little girl and her small brother get separated from their parents and wind up at the "witch's" cottage in the woods. War-crazed Nazi's take over the town and begin to squeeze it dry of everything: food, goods and dignity. What haunts me is the character of the "witch." When she is taken to the gas chambers we hear her inner dialogue, her plans for the future, her trying to make the best of the situation, planning a way out, and then suddenly her voice that we've heard all through the book and grown to love, goes suddenly silent, snuffed out. It made me think that every life is like that at accident, stroke, death. 
 

October 18, 2007

LIFE: MY FAVORITE PRIEST

mail@priestsforlife.org is looking for stories of your favorite priests! Here's mine:
 
I have a lot of favorite priests because God has always used priests to help me spiritually throughout my life, especially in Confession. I can't say I have a lot of "buddy" priests, but various priests have really been pastors to me at different times and in different places. I move around a lot, but God always provides wise and holy priests to guide me wherever I am.
 
 
 
My favorite priest is probably Fr. Michael D'Cruz, OFM, 75, presently the pastor at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He was my confessor for five years and gave me much good advice. He is originally from India, and I am good friends with members of his family who are in Toronto also. He served in Pakistan--a very difficult mission.
 
We Daughters of St. Paul run bookstores, and St. Charles Church is two doors down from our bookstore in Toronto. It was like having a bookstore chaplain with Fr. Michael so close and so available. We could send people to him for counseling and confession any time.
When Fr. Michael said he would pray for you, he meant he would offer a Mass for you and pray to Our Lady for you, or before the Blessed Sacrament. He had very simple, strong faith. People would often get healed after Father promised to pray for them. We had the "Queen of Apostles Charismatic Prayer Group" meeting in the basement of the convent, andn Father served as one of our chaplains there, also. Toronto is a very ethnically-diverse city, and Fr. Michael related so well and was so welcoming to everyone.
 
Fr. Michael gave me such a good example of someone with their priorities straight: God first, then people, then everything else--if you get to it. When I would be frazzled and busy, he used to tell me: "Leave your heart at the tabernacle and then enter the fray."
 
I remember two other excellent confessors, one from Italy, Fr. Mario, and one from Cameroon, Fr. Rolland (who is now a bishop)--both who spoke English as a second language. At different times, they would help me complete my confession by virtually "reading my soul," using highly nuanced English words that I was thinking of at that moment, but hadn't said yet!
 
OK--last story. I had a very serious health crisis three years ago and almost died. It was a dark night of the body and soul. It took me over a year to recover. Right after the worst was over, I went to Confession. I was so confused. Up was down and down was up. Nothing made sense. The experience of ALMOST dying threw me for a loop, and had been a very bad experience all around. And I felt like I had handled it all so badly. I began my Confession about things I probably had no need of confessing, and the older Augustinian I was confessing to stopped me in my tracks. "Sister, Sister! We're human! When we die, we're going to die as humans! Right in the middle of all our stuff with everthing unfinished and words not said and mistakes made and people will have to clean up all our messes!" He was so jolly and reassuring. He gave me absolution, and that was the beginning of my ascent back to hope that I still return to as a touchstone.
 
Thank God for all our seminarians, priests and bishops!
 

LIFE: RIDING IN CARS WITH NUNS--THE DEMON-POSSESED CAR RADIO

As I was driving to Rice Lake, Wisconsin, alone (because Sr. Susan and Sr. Helen were in Ohio at the Ohio Catholic Educators Conference), I heard faint scratching sounds coming from the van's passenger-side dashboard. The lower "dashboard" down by where you put your feet. It was intermittent and sounded almost alive. Either I was Jody Foster in Contact, or the lower dashboard had a case of the Gremlins. I got used to it on the six-hour drive to Rice Lake from Chicago. (Other travelog notes of note: Tilder, Wisconsin: halfway between the Equator and North Pole, Chicago=89 degrees, Rice Lake=42 degrees.)
 
When I got into the van the next morning, Contact had turned into an FM radio station. I reached to turn off the van radio, but it was OFF. Wee-ooo! I drove to the St. Joseph's school where we were exhibiting all day, and as I parked in the parking lot prayed that whatever was infesting the dashboard was not going to drain the battery. It didn't. At 5:30pm, the van started promptly for the six-hour commute home. The radio started promptly also (or rather just continued its faint crackle). I tried fiddling with the wires hanging out of the bottom of the dashboard, and pounded on the casing to no avail. As I drove away from trees and lakes and towards cities and buildings, the radio stations changed and the volume increased. I expected to hear a DJ announce that he was broadcasting from Roswell, New Mexico, but it was scarier than that: "THE GREATEST HITS OF THE 80'S!" As I bounced and hiccupped my way (to the music), the volume increased. (Eat your heart out, Manuel Noriega!) By the time I got to Illinois ("the tollbooth state"), I had to roll down my windows to diffuse the sound. Thank God the Gremlins were channeling a classic rock station station at this point. I came up to the 17th tollbooth: "...YOU JUST CALL...OUT MY NAME!...." The lady at the tollbooth couldn't hear me over James Taylor. Tollbooth Lady: "Can you turn down your radio?" "...AND YOU KNOW WHEREVER I AM..." Me: "It's off! Tollbooth Lady: "Oh. Maybe you could pray over it." "...YOU'VE GOT A FRIEND!..."
 
Every so often on the trek, the demon-possessed radio would go to static which wasn't good either because it sounded like my white noise machine that I use to put me to sleep at night. Like Pavlov's dogs, as soon as I hear static, I go all narcoleptic. A few large McDonald's iced coffees kept me from the morgue.
 
Six hours later, as I unloaded the car in Chicago, ears ringing, I began planning where I would bring the van the following day to get it fixed. Would you like to know what it the problem was? (Which I discovered while I unloaded.) Of course you would. Buried beneath some random luggage on the floor of the passenger's side was a battery-operated Panasonic boom box that had its "on" button, well, "on." Stop laughing. Maybe aliens turned it on.

MOVIES: THE BLACK DAHLIA

 
The Black Dahlia (Widescreen Edition)YY
 
When I moved to L.A. in 1999, the memory of the unsolved 1940's murder of "The Black Dahlia," Elizabeth (Betty) Smart, was as fresh as if it were yesterday. She was an incredible story within many stories, the quintessential wannabe starlet who came to a singularly gruesome and mysteriously symbolic end. She was dubbed the Black Dahlia during her life because she always dressed in black with a flower in her hair, reminiscent of a current movie, "The Blue Dahlia."
The 2006 movie, "The Black Dahlia" is another attempt to capture and explain her short life, or rather, its immediate aftermath. ("Hollywoodland," "True Confessions," and many other films have also taken up her sad, unrequited cause.) Josh Hartnett and Aaron Eckhart star as boxers turned, respectively, cop and reporter. We don't really care about their fictitious characters' inflated lives, or their mutual girlfriend, played by Scarlet Johanssen. We want to see and learn more about Betty Smart. Hilary Swank does a fine turn as a rich, spoiled Betty-Smart-lookalike who is a little too close to the case. The heart and soul of the movie is Betty herself played by the captivating Mia Kirshner. The very effective device is that we only see film reels of Betty--screen tests, interviews, stag films (fleeting nudity). Mia Kirshner has Zooey Deschannel eyes and Alexandra Breckenridge acting chops. The outrage of the detectives watching her sex films posthumously is very refreshing.
The film lacks a consistent tone, style and feel. There are directing, acting and editing problems. Transitions are self-conscious. The movie seems like it was going for the unflinching re-creation of 1940's Los Angeles of "L.A. Confidential," but fails, mostly because it tried to be a 1940's film noir while being a film about the 1940's. Again, the trumped-up, hard-to-believe story surrounding the already-bizarre Black Dahlia story was a dead appendage and unnecessary competition that belittled Betty's tragedy. We needed more Betty and less what's-his-name.
In 2004, when I left Los Angeles, the latest thinking was that the Black Dahlia's father killed her. I feel a connection to her simply because she was from Malden, Massachusetts (not far from where I grew up).
My father lived in Pasadena in the 1940's and used to refer to the City of Angels as "a satin-lined sewer." This reality is consistent well-communicated throughout the film. There's very little hope. Anywhere. This is one of those movies that has some solid elements, but far too many annoying parts to be a good film.
 

LIFE: "CHICAGOWEEN" AT DALEY PLAZA

  

LIFE: MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS--OUR POSTULANTS!

Julia (Cleveland), Alina (Miami), Emily (Buffalo) and postulant director, Sr. Carmen Christi, under the fatherly gaze of St. Paul. They have an open invitation to come up to Chicago and VISIT!

LIFE: SUPERIOR, WISCONSIN

The diocese of Superior, Wisconsin, is huge. It comprises 16 counties, and borders Lake Superior (Canada) at its nothernmost. If you're thinking "Brrrrr," you're right.
Diocesan motto: "Not big time, just a good time." Their new bishop, Peter Christensen, is from St. Paul, MN.
http://aolsearch.aol.ca/image_browse?query=bishop peter christensen&first=&last=&imgurl=http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/images/christensen.JPG&refurl=http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=9748&width=140&height=137&requestId=933701bdca640f24&clickedItemRank=2&encquery=bishop peter christensen&page=                  
I went eagle-watching in Superior. I went to all the eagle haunts where the locals swore I would see eagles and eagle nests. They made it sound like eagles are to Superior what pigeons are to Chicago. Nothing. I have been eagle watching many times in my life--at places named "Eagle Lake," "Eagle River," "Eagle Mountain," "Eagle Pond." Nada. (The only bald eagle I've ever seen is on the Muppets.) I'm beginning to think that our "E Pluribus Unum" friends should be put BACK on the endangered list 'cuz I sure haven't seen any! But then again my Dad, who loved moose and spent many summers hiking and mountain-climbing in New Hampshire before he died, never saw a moose. And moose do exist because I saw two the ONE morning my Dad did NOT accompany me to daily Mass one summer in New Hampshire. Serendipity and c'est la vie!

October 17, 2007

TV: "GUNS, GERMS AND STEEL--PART I" NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNEL

Although I think there is much to Jared Diamond's book-cum-documentary, I take exception to his unqualified use of "progress" and "civilization." His assumption is that the way "primitive peoples" continue to live is not "thriving" (in spite of those annoying little facts about lack of protein in the diet, etc.). I think that the fact that we still have "primitive peoples" who have managed to survive off the land alone (although some have died out because of their inevitable depletion of their world) is important. Now as we "progressive, civilized" people deplete the ENTIRE world, we're going to need some of these peoples' wisdom of how to live simply in harmony with the environment around us. HOWEVER i do believe we CAN do that and reverse the tide, which is already happening: recycling, eating locally grown food, alternative energy sources (wind, sun, etc.)etc., but we have long way to go.
 
The premise of Guns, Germs and Steel:
 
hunting is trumped by farming
farming is trumpted by farming/storage
farming/storage is trumped by the types of crops (Europe had more nutritious crops)
types of crops don't stand alone, it's also about domestication of the right kind of animals (Europe had animals not just for meat but milk, clothing, plowing as "machines," etc.).
the Fertile Crescent (Middle East) had the right climate, crops, animals.
the Europeans then brought the same crops and animals to the USA. (There were no cows in the USA till the Europeans came.)
 
I love that Jared Diamond believes in the fundamental equality of all humans. This is a big part of his premise. It's not that anyone was smarter, they just had better opportunities, land, etc.
It's not politics, religion, culture. It's the raw materials people have around them, the hand they've been dealt. People are pretty much the same and have ingenuity. It's geography.
 
Religion: However, God gave the Fertile Crescent to His chosen people! Ha ha!
 

October 15, 2007

LIFE: KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN

Yes, Virginia, there is a Kalamazoo! "Kalamazoo" is Native American for "where the river boils." People who live there are used to people thinking it's a fictitious place, so the chamber of commerce really plays it up....

October 13, 2007

LIFE: CHICAGO'S COLLEGE SEMINARIANS VISIT

Fr. Presta, seminary rector, is on left. We had Sr. Thecla's home-made lasagna. Delish!

October 12, 2007

LIFE: WHAT THEOLOGY OF THE BODY IS NOT

Theology of the Body is not Gnosticism. It is not some secret knowledge OR secret club of the enlightened OR something you have to "get" or you're out of the loop. It is the exact opposite. God came to reveal EVERYTHING to EVERYONE in Jesus Christ.
 
Some people already live Theology of the Body because they are in touch with themselves and God. For the rest of us there's a 735-page book and CDs by Christopher West.

October 9, 2007

LIFE: FACEBOOK IS LIKE HEAVEN

Methinks that Facebook is like heaven: reconnecting with "long-dead" friends, meeting new friends and meeting friends of friends. Without end. All in the same environment. Giving and receiving gifts. Sharing joys. And new things. And fun pictures.
 
Methinks that "the hermeneutics of suspicion" needs to be replaced not only with "the hermeneutics of trust," but the "hermeneutics of happiness," or better, simply "trust the happiness" (because it's real). Sorrow is real, too, but it has an end. Happiness has no end.
 

October 8, 2007

MOVIES: "BELLA" IS FINALLY OPENING!

Bella will be opening in these cities on OCT 26:

Chicago
NYC
Los Angeles/Orange County
Miami/Ft. Lauderdale/W. Palm Beach
Houston
Dallas
San Antonio
San Francisco
Phoenix
Denver
San Diego
Orlando
Washington DC
St. Louis
Colorado Springs
Kansas City
Las Vegas
Austin
Baltimore
Philadelphia
Des Moines
Atlanta
Nashville
Knoxville
Detroit
Cleveland
Tampa
Fresno
Sacramento
Birmingham, AL

And these cities can go see Bella starting the following week, November 2:

Milwaukee
Madison
Green Bay
Minneapolis
Pittsburgh
Tucson
Albuquerque
Durango, CO
El Paso
Oklahoma City
Honolulu

MOVIES: "A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE"

 
A History of ViolenceYYY
 
A quiet family man (Tom Stahl) becomes a hero and is thus found by the organized crime outfit he used to work for.
He never told his family about his previous identity...or deeds. This is one of those movies where you find yourself cheering for each murder--even though you know it's wrong--because this man has truly reformed his life. How? Behind every great man.... Yes, his wife. But back to the fact that we're cheering for murder. It's a little different from growing fond of a truly evil but clever character. He's not evil any more. But now he kills so he won't be killed, but most of all to protect his family. It's the whole "Crime and Punishment," "above the law" thing. It reminds me of the also-excellent, also "small feel" movie "Dinner Rush," which had the same ethical issues.
 
Problems: I didn't buy that a crazy, crazy, vicious hitman was suddenly a lamb. And then a hitman again. And then a lamb. But it could happen. The character of the son in the family wasn't terribly believable at first, but got better (a writing and acting problem). There was a serious break in tension and action right before the climax when Tom drives to Philadelphia to settle the score.
 
Incredible performances by the entire cast, especially Ed Harris and William Hurt, especially William Hurt.

October 7, 2007

MOVIES: MY BEST 10 FILMS

off the top of my head....
 
1. Man for All Seasons
2. The Mission
3. Blade Runner (director's cut)
4. What About Bob?
5. Romero
6. Last Holiday
7. Bicycle Thief (Italy)
8. Pather Panjali (India)
9. Malcolm X
10. Diary of a City Priest
 
Favorite musicals:
 
1. Music Man
2. Godspell
3. Bride and Prejudice
 
Must-see every year Christmas movies:
 
1. A Charlie Brown Christmas
2. A Muppet Christmas Carol (the best version ever of the Dickens' classic)
3. Elf
 

October 5, 2007

LIFE: REST IN PEACE, PHILOMENA (NANAY) JARIN

My dear friend, Nancy Jarin from Toronto, just lost her amazing Mom today.
Please pray for the repose of her soul and for the family. She was the rock.
She'll be buried in the Philippines.                                                                           
 
PHILOMENA JARIN
November 29, 1916  --- October 5, 2007

BOOKS: I FINISHED WRITING MY BOOK!!!

LIFE: GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN

 
Sr. Susan and I just returned from a Diocesan Leader's Day exhibit in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (We had to get back to Chicago by Sunday because there's a Packers vs. Bears game in Green Bay, and we didn't want to get lynched.)
     
 
The amazing Bishop Morneau (poet, poetry lover and poetry interpreter par excellence--a big promoter of Wisconsin poet Jessica Powers) gave the homily at the Mass. We shared St. Francis Feast day with the hospitable Franciscan Sisters of Manitowoc.

MOVIES: MY 10 WORST FILMS

1. Spice World
2. Mulholland Drive
3. All Dogs Go To Heaven (animated)
4. (that unfortunate movie from the 70's with all Beatles music starring Aerosmith and the Bee Gees)
5. Night Mail (old b/w British documentary)
6. City of Angels 
7. Meet Joe Black
8. What Dreams May Come
9. Mr. Holland's Opus
10. Paris, Texas
 
(Movies I Could not Watch All the Way Through):
Field of Dreams
Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner
 

October 3, 2007

BOOKS: MUST-READ FOR FILM BUFFS AND FILM MAKERS!

Ron Austin is a Hollywood saint. He's been around Hollywood for a long time, past president of the WGA if I'm not mistaken. He taught us at Act One. He was the most profound, gentle, charitable, spiritual teacher! Ironically, he is now almost blind and wears these yellow-tinted lens' that just make him look all the more the special person that he is. He volunteers at maximum security prisons.
Accentuated with black and white stills, this long-awaited, succint little gem of a book (only 105 pages), is a spiritual history of world cinema. (What a concept!) Couldn't find it on Amazon, but it's available from Pauline Books and Media www.pauline.org for locations, or the publisher. $12.00 http://www.eerdmans.com/shop/product.asp?p_key=9780802807731 
Be good to your film-loving soul! Get this book!
 
 

October 2, 2007

LIFE: PRAY FOR PHILOMENA JARIN----91

Please pray for Philomena (Nanay) Jarin. She is very, very sick in the hospital, and although she's 91, she's a very strong and with-it 91. We just don't know if the doctors get that, and if they're giving her all the options they'd give a younger person. Please pray. Thanks!

LIFE: S.W.A.T.T.I.N.G. SINS AWAY

I love being Catholic! There I was at St. Peter's Church (Franciscan Shrine in the heart of Chicago with Mass and Confession on tap all day) coming out of the confessional. Everyone was holding the confessional door for the next person. Well, I step out of the confessional and there's this huge S.W.A.T. dude standing there in full gear (minus that helmet that looks like what welders wear). We were both so shocked. I'm thinking: "Is he going to confession?" He's probably thinking: "Do nuns go to confession?" (People never think we sin or need prayers.) So we just stood there staring at each other for a brief minute, me still holding the door for him. End freeze-frame. He goes to confession, I go do my penance. I love being Catholic!

LIFE: HAPPY GUARDIAN ANGELS DAY!

 
Did you know that even Aristotle believed everyone was born with a guardian spirit?
My guardian angel's name is Justin. (Named after St. Justin Martyr.)

October 1, 2007

LIFE: SR. THECLA'S 50TH ANNIVERSARY!

Old St. Mary's Church--Paulist Fathers--Chicago, IL
September 30, 2007