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Emm-mania! [Jul. 19th, 2007|09:51 am]
Emmy nominations are out. I'm only halfway through the list, and I've already picked my winner for Best. Nomination. Ever.

In the category of "Best Music and Lyrics" --

Song Title: Dick in a Box
Justin Timberlake, Music and Lyrics By
Andy Samberg, Music and Lyrics By

Y'all, it has to win.

Oh, and also -- Yay, Jenna Fischer! It's a tough category, what with Jamie Pressly, Elizabeth Perkins, and Vanessa Williams turning in great work every week on their respective shows . . . but, man. It's nice to see a good person who made it through hard work get recognized :).
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(no subject) [Jul. 9th, 2007|01:52 pm]
According to my peeps at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart (for the blessedly uninitiated, the campus church at ND), there has been something of a push from a group of alumni/ae for the institution of a once-a-week Tridentine mass at the BSH, if not the addition of such a thing to the regular Sunday schedule. This comes just after Dick Warner issued a fiat to the Campus Ministry staff that he wants at least one dorm on each of the quads to hold a daily mass on Friday nights. Leaving aside the absolutely ridiculousness of the latter, the former will never happen. Or, at least, it shouldn't. And there are two main reasons.

The first is a healthy dose of ideological opposition among the major figures on campus who would promote such a thing. For example, when I was a law student, a group of undergrads organized a Novus Ordo in Latin on Saturday mornings in the Alumni Chapel. I was impressed by their initiative and investment and told the RAs about it at our next staff meeting so they could share it with their residents. I had no sooner stopped talking (and the RAs had nodded with interest and written down the pertinent info) than the rector loudly and sternly informed us all that saying mass in Latin was "against everything Vatican II was about." Now, that's complete crap; in fact, Vatican II was "about" just the opposite. The instruction on the liturgy says in no uncertain terms that Latin should be preserved, particularly in chant; but, of course, it also famously vests individual bishops with the authority to permit the offering of the eucharist in the vernacular. And, of course, the order of the mass was drastically revised, and permission to use the old form (the Tridentine) must be specifically granted and for a reason.

But the fact remains that lots and lots of rectors (not to mention at least 90% of the Campus Ministry staff members I can think of off the top of my head) would fairly vehemently oppose the offering of a Tridentine mass. Some of the reasons are good (it would create a clique of students/staff/faculty who prefer one right over the other and put stupid and unnecessary pressure on the students who aren't really big on the Tridentine) and some of them wrongheaded (see the above "against Vatican II" thing). Some of them are just ill-informed, really; there's an assumption among many people who work in college ministry (and ND's crew is no exception) that college students need some kind of direct stimulus associated with their religion to stay interested (see Four:7, the Christian Rock Show with special pink t-shirts).

And second we have the logistical nightmare. Finding a priest (or priests) willing to put this on once a week will be more of an uphill battle than anyone expects, not just because many of the priests old enough to have been trained in the Tridentine rite will refuse for the same reasons listed above, but also because many of them will certainly object to the mass being celebrated as a "curiosity." I have to say, this latter issue never even crossed my mind until last year I asked a priest to say a mass in French in the dorm chapel and he refused. He thought it would be akin to "putting on a show." And despite the fact that we asked him to do it as part of a French cultural event to welcome a French exchange student to the dorm (a student who had been through a bit of a nightmare after getting stuck in a room with two freshmen who weren't exactly kind to her) I kind of got his point.

Aside from the priest issue, there's the music issue. Tridentine mass requires a ton of chanting. And complicated chanting at that -- which requires a ton of musical preparation. The two-person music staff at the Basilica just can't be expected to add that to their already-unreasonable workload. This summer, for instance, there are exactly two organists available for weddings: the two who are also the director and assistant director of Basilica music. As the assistant director (one of my very best friends) put it, it would be like telling the Director of Campus Ministry and the Rector of the Basilica (who will both be taking month-long vacations this summer) that they each had to take five weekends, eight masses a weekend (six weddings, the Saturday vigil, and the Sunday 10:00 AM). During the school year, there are masses and weddings every weekend (except football weekends, which are an entirely different kettle of fish which includes a live 8:00 AM mass for the Hallmark Channel because the vigil runs over 1.5 hours those weekends), participation in "mega choirs" for major university events, and two or three special masses every month requested by the development office for major donors (and, of course, all of them need an organist and a cantor, if not a full student choir).

So on top of that, they have to recruit and prepare a choir to sing a Tridentine Mass? Sorry. Not going to happen.
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weaklingrecords's Fourth of July Quiz [Jul. 9th, 2007|11:30 am]
I was in the 'Bend for July 4th so I missed this. But I like to show off the fruits of my expensive education.

1. Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
Thomas Jefferson
2. When was the Declaration of Independence signed?
July 4, 1776
3. Who was declaring independence from whom?
The colonies were declaring independence from the English crown -- namely, King George.
4. What was “taxation without representation?”
The prime complaint of the colonies -- that they were being forced to pay taxes to England without an ability to influence the English government.
5. Who said, “Give me liberty or give me death” and what did he mean?
Patrick Henry. He meant that American colonists would have to take up arms to liberate themselves from England -- and, consequently, that he would rather die fighting for the freedom of the American colonies than live under British tyranny.
6. What does the phrase “separation of powers” mean?
It means that our three branches of government perform distinct functions and should operate independent of the influence of the other branches. Is "checks and balances" down the list someplace?
7. What is the Bill of Rights?
The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
8. What rights are afforded to US citizens under the First Amendment?
Freedom of speech, assembly, religion, and the press; it also provides citizens the right to petition the government for redress of grievances, but I admit I have no idea what that means.
9. What are the three branches of the United States government?
Executive, legislative, and judicial. And Dick Cheney.
10. What are “checks and balances?”
Mechanisms contained within the U.S. Constitution to ensure that none of the three branches becomes too powerful. For instance, the Senate can impeach the President, the President can veto legislation passed by both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court can declare laws signed by the President unconstitutional, Congress allocates money to federal agencies and passes the laws they enforce, etc.
11. How many Justices are members of the Supreme Court?
There are nine justices on the Supreme Court. The Constitution does not specify its size, but the number was set at 6 by the Judiciary Act of 1789. It has had as many as 10 justices. FDR tried to expand it to 15, but Congress shot him down. Anyway. Since the passage of the Judicial Circuits Act in 1866, it's had nine justices.
12. How does the Electoral College work?
Each state is allocated a certain number of electoral votes according to population based on the most recent census data. The total number of electoral votes available is 538. Most states award all of their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular election in that state. A candidate must receive an absolute majority of 270 votes to take the presidency.
13. How many Senators are there?
14. Who casts the deciding vote if there is a tie in the Senate?
The President of the Senate. Currently, that's Dick Cheney, who is also the Fourth Branch of government.
15. When was the Constitution ratified?
16. What is Manifest Destiny?
A phrase used to express the belief that the United States should stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
17. When did women receive the right to vote?
Universal suffrage was granted by the 19th Amendment, ratified in 1920.
18. When was the Civil War?
19. What were some of the causes of the Civil War?
The decline of Southern farm production, the rise of Northern industrialism, growing animosity of the Northern colonies over the practice of slaveholding, and, mostly, the election of Abraham Lincoln.
20. What was the 3/5ths Compromise?
A compromise reached at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that 3/5ths of the slave population would be counted for the purpose of distribution of taxes and, I believe, the apportionment of the House of Representatives.
21. Who were the Abolitionists?
Advocates for the abolition of slavery.
22. What did the Emancipation Proclamation do?
Declared the emancipation of the slaves in those confederate states that refused to return to the Union.
23. What was the Underground Railroad?
A network of abolitionists that arranged for the transport of slaves from "slave states" to "free states" or to Canada.
24. Who were the Carpetbaggers?
Northerners who traveled to the Southern states following the Civil War to take advantage of economic and political opportunities but who had no intention to stay.
25. What was Reconstruction?
The post-Civil War effort undertaken to resolve the issues which caused the Civil War and to address the return of the confederate states to the Union.
26. How many Presidents have been assassinated?
Four: Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, and Kennedy.
27. How many Presidents have been impeached?
Two: Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton
28. How many Presidents were born in Michigan?
I admit, I Wikied this. None.
29. What was the United States’ involvement in World War I?
Weird question. The U.S. resisted involvement in WWI until 1917, when German U-boats sank the Lusitania, which was carrying U.S. citizens. After some more hesitation, the U.S. began sending troops to France in the summer of 1918 and declared itself an "associated power" of the allies. The war didn't last long after that.
30. When did WWI take place?
31. What was the League of Nations? Who proposed it?
Essentially a precursor to the UN -- a council of representatives of the nations of the world. It was proposed by Woodrow Wilson.
32. What was the United States’ involvement in World War II?
The U.S. entered WWII as an allied power following the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. U.S. forces took part in both theaters of operation -- European and Pacific.
33. When did WWII take place?
About 1939-1945.
34. When was D-Day?
June 6, 1944
35. When was V-E Day?
May 8, 1945
36. When was V-J Day?
August 15, 1945
37. How many atomic bombs were used in WWII?
38. Where were they used?
Nagasaki and Hiroshima
39. What were Jim Crow laws?
Laws restricting the access of African Americans to public facilities and services.
40. What does the phrase “separate but equal” mean?
That public facilities and services provided to African Americans would be seperate from those provided to whites, but equal in quality.
41. When was the Pledge of Allegiance written?
The late 19th century.
42. When were the words “under God” added to the Pledge of Allegiance?
Sometime in the 1950s
43. What was the Civil Rights Movement?
The movement to fully integrate African Americans and other minority groups into American society.
44. When was the Civil Rights Act signed into law?
45. What did “Brown v. Board of Education” do? When was it?
Specifically, tntegrated the public schools in Topeka, Kansas. Generally, declared that de jure racial segregation was a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. 1953.
46. What was the Domino Theory?
Not a clue.
47. Who said, “Speak softly but carry a big stick?”
Theodore Roosevelt
48. Who said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself?”
His cousin, FDR
49. Who said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country?”
John F. Kennedy
50. Who wrote the Star-Spangled Banner?
Francis Scott Key
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John Mayer's Youth is Gone and Here's How I Know. [Jun. 3rd, 2007|10:53 pm]
I remember flipping channels one day on the couch in the social lounge at the Zwartezusteren Huis in Leuven and catching a shot of a live concert by the Backstreet Boys. They were sort of in decline at the time (this was 2001, so they were at the beginning of the mushy, pasty, and hollow-cheeked stage, but not quite at the public- drug-use, girlfriend-beating stage). They were sort of desperately grasping to hold onto the core of their fanbase, but, well, Lou Pearlman is no Karl Rove, and the death rattle was audible. Really, though, there was nowhere for them to go. Their music was stuck in time, but not in a linear historical way, but in an historical-anthropological way. That is to say, their albums slid right into a dual-plane intersection of trend and population. A whole lot of prepubescent girls were getting a little mobility at the same time the rest of the world was starting to roll its eyes at the Seattle scene (not to mention the fact that almost everyone involved with that scene was either in rehab or dead). That, really, was the perfect storm that made millionaires of the Carter clan.

I know this not because I could see the faces of the kids in the concert clip. I knew it because of the banners attached to the front of the stage. The 'Boys 2001 tour was being sponsored by Differin. That's acne medication. Acne. Admittedly, I only knew what the hell the stuff was because at the time my newly-adopted Belgian beer-and-fries lifestyle had resulted in a rough spate of adult-onset dermatological eruptions; but at 21, Differin wasn't looking for my dollars. I had already aged out, and, sadly, so had the rest of the people who were by then embarassed that they'd purchased the "Quit Playin' Games With My Heart" single. The Backstreet Boys' window was open for only a few years while the planets aligned; and by then it was closing. Oops.

What does this have to do with John Mayer? His first major label album, Room for Squares, came out that very year. Whether Mayer was an evil genius or just another accidental tourist on that same cosmic bus, I have no idea; but he picked up those fans that the Backstreet Boys were losing with his sensitive-dude songs about how lame high school is ("No Such Thing"), how much cooler he was than everyone thought in high school ("Bigger Than My Body"), and about how sensitive a dude he really is ("Your Body is a Wonderland"). And besides being geekily handsome (the precursor to the EMO aesthetic, really), he was an actual musician and even his sappiest songs were sorta clever -- so the prepubes could age gracefully out of the boyband and into something better suited to their newly-refined tastes. Admittedly, I (and lots of other people) figured he was kind of a douche. Well, a musical douche -- I'd never met him in person.

Anyway. Teenage girls fucking loved it. I don't know who sponsored those first tours, but I wouldn't be surprised a bit if it was Midol. And now I'll get to the relevant part. John Mayer is going on tour this summer. The sponsor?


We define lots of eras by consumer icons. Cabbage Patch Kids. Tickle Me Elmo. X-Box. iPod. The Blackberry is no different. It's word association time. I'll start.


What was that? 25-year-old corporate weasel social climber who's never had a real job with a venti Starbucks no-whip mocha in one hand and the other feverishly punching buttons on his little plastic crack machine? And, um, Bluetooth?

That's how I know.
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(no subject) [Jun. 3rd, 2007|10:52 pm]
Today was my every-other-Friday off and given that my air conditioning wasn't working (ugh), I decided to take in Judd Apatow's Knocked Up. Judgment: excellent.

I confess a bit of an Apatow fetish, but the internet tells me I'm not alone, so I shall not be ashamed. There's a lot to say about the movie, including that Katherine Heigl was only okay (and, well, super-hot). I guess it's tough to consistently be the worst actress in everything you're in, so I cut her a little slack. Apatow gets everything she's got out of her here; but the chemistry between Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen that gave The 40 Year Old Virgin such excellent balance is on full display and is what makes the movie worth the price of admission.

Even given the little I knew about the movie before I saw it, I figured the abortion issue would end up causing some controversy. The trailers give away the basic plot -- Heigl and Rogen have a one night stand, Heigl gets pregnant, Heigl decides to keep the baby, Heigl and Rogen decide to raise it together. It didn't take long for someone to label the film as a pro-life propaganda piece (see, Dana Stevens' piece at Slate). Because, after all, the pro-choice movement is all about freedom to choose -- so long as you choose to have an abortion. In the end, it doesn't seem that Apatow takes a stand one way or the other; really, abortion wasn't an option because, well -- no movie that way. But I have to give him the Hollywood Brass Balls award for putting the crassest line of the film in the mouth of the character most fervently pushing abortion.

Alison's Mom: Take care of it.
Alison: What?
Alison's Mom: Look at your step-sister. She got pregnant, took care of it, and now she has a real baby.

Other people will disagree, but I think that's where Alison decided to keep the baby. And, to my mind, it's a pretty fucking profound commentary on the pro-choice mentality.

So, anyway. See the movie.
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(no subject) [May. 30th, 2007|08:18 am]
The New York Times has <a href = "http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/30/business/30leonhardt.html?pagewanted=1>an excellent article</a> this morning about Lou Dobbs, the bigoted idiot CNN has legitimized. I'm not typically a CNN opponent; among the major news networks, I tend to think it's the most objective and has the best coverage of international events (well, aside from the BBC, but I am a child of basic cable). The U.S. immigration system is broken. We have no way to keep out the people who shouldn't be here, and every attempt to do that results in the exclusion of people who should be here. The longer I work in immigration law, the more I shift toward the belief that borders are essential immoral; but their elimination isn't even within the spectrum of possible solutions at this point in history, of course. I do know, though, that Lou Dobbs and the rest of the pundits who demonize immigrants through misinformation and fabrication (immigrants are coming to take your jobs, rape your women, and give you leprosy!) aren't helping one damn bit.
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(no subject) [May. 24th, 2007|09:23 am]
I'm hot 'cause I'm a microwave. You ain't 'cause you not.
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(no subject) [May. 15th, 2007|10:17 pm]
I just downloaded the new Wilco album. It's no Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, but that doesn't mean I'm going to get any sleep tonight.
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(no subject) [May. 15th, 2007|09:50 am]
Further proof that WXPN is the world's greatest radio station -- they're playing TMBG's "Don't Let's Start" right now.

Thank God for streaming radio.

Oh, also -- the two best things I saw on a stage this year (Spring Awakening and The Coast of Utopia) got beaucoup Tony nominations. Yay.

Don't don't don't let's start, this is the worst part
Could believe for all the world that you're my precious little girl
But don't don't don't let's start, I've got a weak heart
And I don't get around how you get around
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(no subject) [Apr. 27th, 2007|01:37 pm]
So, I'm doing a bit of research for one of the judges on the Tatar minority in Kyrgyzstan (and I actually love this part of my job -- for reals) and I ran across the site of something called The Joshua Project. Needless to say, it scared the hell out of me. For those of you (who reads this shit anyway?) who haven't the heart or upper body strength to click on the link, it's an internet-based demography project dedicated to sociologically identifying groups of people in remote parts of the planet who haven't had the benefit of Christian enlightenment. Now, I've always been pretty positive about my Catholicism and appreciate and understand and embrace it; but it's moments like these in particular that I'm grateful it's what got passed down to me.

About seven weeks ago, some friends from ND drove out to spend part of their Spring Break sleeping on my floor in Newark (and, for the record, had a fantastic time -- suck it, Newark haters!). One night during their trip we sat up and drank wine and watched Jesus Camp, Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing's documentary about a Pentacostal summer camp for evangelical Christian families. Two of the Spring Breakers were recovering evangelicals themselves (one a Catholic convert, the other basically an atheist), and I was pretty floored by their reaction -- not because they were horrified, but because they weren't. They could both point to events in the movie as completely commonplace parts of an evangelical childhood (special attention given to children who can pray in tongues, feeling like it was your obligation to rat on your friend for watching Harry Potter movies, etc.) The documentary focuses heavily on Becky Fischer, the camp director, who seemed to me to be completely nuts. But as Emily (the converted Evangelical) pointed out, Fischer talked at length (honestly, ad nauseum) about her personal mission to save as many souls as she could. "At least she gives a shit about other people," said Emily (the convert). "Most evangelicals I knew took some sort of sick satisfaction in their belief that they were going to heaven and lots of other people are just going straight to hell."

So as much as Project Joshua freaks me out, I guess I sort of envy the people who run it the passion of their faith. Their love for God and concern for others is so clearly profound and so real to them that they devote what appears to be a huge amount of time to the project of bringing Jesus Christ to people who might otherwise go their whole lives without knowing about him. And I understand all the pitfalls of that kind of mentality and I can't say I actually support the effort; but, man -- I can't remember the last time I was really excited about or committed to anything, let alone making sure that other people didn't go to hell. Most of the things I manage to get excited about pretty much confirm my own eternal damnation.

So, while I'm not so cool with the focus of the energy, the energy itself is pretty inspiring. Imagine what we crunchy, lefty, human-rightsy people could do if we gave that much of a damn about other people. And, I guess, had Ted Haggard's pantload of cash too.
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