Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Divine Mercy Sunday

Today is the feast day of one of my favorite devotions.

Given that it's Divine Mercy Sunday -- and that I am still jet-lagged -- I thought it worthwhile to republish this.

AMDG,

-J.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Off to California

Will be back home on 3/31. Blogging shall be sparse at best. Pray my trip is safe and uneventful.

AMDG,

-J.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Indeed, He hath risen!

The dawn has finally broken after the arduous journey of Lent and following long dark night of Good Friday and Glorious Saturday.

He hath risen!

He hath risen indeed!

For us, He bled, sweated, wept, shouted, agonized and died. Each of our lies became one of His drops of sweat, our wrath a drop of His blood, our manifold sins all became a nail print upon Him, a lash upon His back, a jab of thorn upon His head, a lance to His side.

He has absorbed all this, from all of the generations before Him and at-the-time unborn, and through His love, mercy and obedience to God's will, redeemed us, ransomed us, snatched us from the fate we otherwise would have gotten and surely deserved.

The catechism tells us God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next. Without the dolorous Passion and glorious Resurrection there is no "next." The love which surpasses all understanding -- even mine -- is made active in unfathomably deep mercy in an act of supreme sacrifice which becomes triumphant. All for a fallen, broken, deeply sinful humanity which seeks and successfully finds every conceivable opportunity to squander its undeserved second (and third, and fourth and...) chance.

He hath risen.

The power of death is no more. It has no hold over those sheep who have been found by the Good Shepherd. Death, as St. Paul alludes, is stingless like a drone wasp. It goes through the motions of stinging, but those who have heard the voice of the Shepherd, and have striven to walk (awkwardly as that may be) towards His voice and seek to follow Him, know these are wasted and empty threats. We shall rise with Him.

Whenever we confess our manifest lack of worth, whenever we strive to do His will, or cleave to Him, or fall and get up after Him time and again, we proclaim His victory on the cross. And that's what we often forget: Today is Victory Day. Today is the day of triumph. We rejoice over he who conquered death, but oft forget to laud and cheer and rejoice in the Victory. We read the Gospels and as humans, we focus on the suffering of St. Mark's, the abandonement of St. Matthew's and, maybe, the forgiveness and mercy of St. Luke's. But we often overlook the triumph embedded in St. John's Passion narrative.

He hath risen and hath risen glorious, immortal and, for love of us, VICTORIOUS.

Let us rejoice and be glad.

AMDG,

-J.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Cdl. Bergoglio's Easter Vigil Homily

More from H.E. Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, SJ down in Buenos Aires. (You'll note that in spectacularly Jesuit fashion, Cdl. Bergoglio is brief and VERY to the point.)

AMDG,

-J.

================================

1. In the shadows of the Temple we have followed the signposts of a long road. God chooses a people and sends them on their way. Starting with Abram: “Go forth out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and out of thy father's house, and come into the land which I shall show thee. 2 And I will make of thee a great nation.” (Gen 12:1-2). Abram went forth, and became the father of a people that made history along the way, a people on the way towards that which was promised. Us also recently made our way listening to [the telling of] this history of traversing lands and centuries, with our fixed on the paschal event, the definitive Promise made reality, the Living Christ, victor over death, ressurrected. Life in God is not sedentary, it is a life on the road...and even God Himself desired to be on the road, in search of man...and became man. On this night we have traveled both roads: of the people, of man, towards God and that of God to man, both roads leading to an encounter. The anxiousness for God sown in our human heart, that anxiousness of God given as a promise to Abram and, on the other hand, the anxiousness of God's heart, His immeasurable love for us, are to be found here today, before thus paschal event, the figure of Christ Resurrected that resolves in itself all searches and anxiousness, wishes and loves; Christ Resurrected is the goal and triumph of these two roads that meet. This is the night of an encounter...of “Encounter” with capital letters.

2. It is brough to our la attention how teh Gospel we have just heard describes the Encounter of Jesus Christ, Victorious with the women. Nobody stands still...all are in movement, on the move: it is said teh women went, that the earth shook strongly; the Angel came down from Heaven, making the stone roll, the guards trembled. Then, the invitation: He will go to Galilee, that all go to Galilee. The women, with that mix of fear and joy --that is, with their hearts in movement -- back up rapidly and run to spread the news. They encounter Jesus and approach Him and fall to His feet. Movement of the women towards Christ, movement of Christ towards them. In this movement the encounter happens.

3. The Gospel announcement is not relegated to a faraway history of two thousand years ago...it is a reality that repeats itself each time we place ourselves on teh road towards God and we allow ourselves to be met by Him. The Gospel tells of an encounter, a victorious encounter between the faithful God, passionate for His people, and us sinners, thirsty for love and searching, who have [finally] accepted placing ourselves on the road...on the road to find Him...to allow ourselves to be found by Him. In that instant, existential and temporal, we share the experience of the women: fear and joy at the same time; we experience the stupor of an encounter with Jesus Christ which overflows our desires but which never says “stay,” but rather “go.” The encounter relaxes us, strengthens our identity and sends us forth; puts us on the road agains so that, from encounter to encounter, we may reach the definitive encounter.

4. I was recently mentioning that, in the midst of the shadows, our gaze was fixed on the Paschal event, Christ, reality and hope at the same time; reality of an encounter today and hope for the great final encounter. This is good because we breathe losses [literally, "disencounters"] daily; we have become accustomed to living in a culture of loss, in which our passions, our disorientations, enmisties and conflicts confront us, separate [literally, "eliminates our brotherhood"] us, isolate us, crystallize us inside a sterile individualism which is proposed to us as a [viable] way of life daily. The women, that morning, were victims of a painful loss: they had had their Lord taken from them. They found themseles desolate before a sepulchre. That's the way today's cultural paganism, active in the world and our city, wants us: alone, passive, at the end of an illusory path that leads to a sepulchre, dead in our frustration and sterile egotism.

Today we need the strength of God to move us, that we have a great shaking of the earth, that an Angel move the great stone in our heart, that stone that prevents us from heading out on the road, that there is lightning and much light. Today we need our soul shaken, that we're told the idolatry of cultured passivity and possesiveness does not lead [this could also be translated as "give"] to life. Today we need, after being shaken for our many frustrations, to encounter Him anew and that He tell us “Be not afraid,” get back on the road once again, return to that Galilee of your first love. We must renew the marcha begun by our father Abraham and which signals this Paschal event. Today we need to encounter Him; that we find Him and He find us. Brethren, the “Happy Easter” I wish you is that today an Angel rolls away our stone and we allow ourselves to encounter Him. May it be thus.

Triduum meditatin'

The lovely and gracious Karen hath posted this:

Clayton sent me a truly excellent video meditation called Via Crucis, which he made using clips from The Passion of the Christ.

In doing so, Clayton was God's courier. Thank you, Clayton.

For anyone else who didn't make it to church until last night and therefore missed the Stations of the Cross, this is a truly excellent substitute. For me, it was much better than being at church would have been, because this year, I needed to do this alone. But that will not be true for everyone. As the Unknown Jesuit keeps reminding [which reiterates what Cdl. Bergoglio's homily said] me, God finds you where you are.

Go to that link that link, now, it's amazing.

-J.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Cdl. Bergoglio's Palm Sunday Homily

One of my fave Cardinals, His Eminence Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, SJ has just had his Palm Sunday homily released. Translation is mine as are emphases and comments.

AMDG,

-J.
Bergoglio3+++++++++++++++++
At the start, in the blessing of the palms, we heard the Gospel narrative of when Jesus enters the city, enters Jerusalem. The crowds go to receive him. They had much love for the Lord. The people go to receive him because He enters triumphantly but also with humility. The feasting is done by the crowd, He does not organize it. This is proper to Jesus: He never organizes a feast for Himself. He goes. He enters houses, enters towns, and enters cities and it is the crowd that seeks Him out, with rejoicing. Out there, people who did not know they would see Him, encounter Him along the way and then and there they rejoice and laud him. And on a day like this, when the Pharisees tell Him to make the little ones -- and the big ones, too -- stop chanting "blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna," He tells them: "Look, if they shut up, then the stones would yell." The Lord was like that: simple, humble and He provoked joy, enthusiasm, peace of heart.
Today we have wanted to, as Christians, do something similar. Not just the ceremony here but also that Jesus symbolically entered the city -- one column processing from Once, another from Liniers, came into the city on those trucks you see there -- on His colt, and the crowd stood up, the crowd greeted and the crowd asked for blessings. The blessing of the Lord. Jesus goes out to meet people, instead of waiting for people to come looking for Him. He goes out to be encountered. Today is the day Jesus goes to be met and He enters the city. Many Christians today have also gone out, in the name of Jesus, to meet the sick in the hospitals[, etc.]...the Church spills into the street because today Jesus is the king of the street, as He was that Palm Sunday in Jerusalem. The place to worship Jesus on this day, more than a temple, is the street. There he was acclaimed, there He was blessed, there He was recognized as the Lord. Out in the street. Later, on Friday, in the corridors of power, among the groups of influence, He was bought and sold [i.e., His fate was debated and decided] H.E. may have been making a reference to the rather Christian-unfriendly attitudes and policies of the Argentine government. But where the people are faithful, where the people are believing, out in the street, He was acclaimed.
Today, here in Buenos Aires, like in Jerusalem on that day, the street made way for Jesus. The street received Him properly. The crowd stood, begged for blessings, blessings for their families, blessings for their businesses, their houses, their autos...H.E. is making a wry reference to the fact Argentines are notoriously car-crazy. Blessing, what does that [really] mean? [It means] that Jesus "speak well" of something, that He approach! That He enter families, hearts, homes, autos, businesses...Jesus out in the street, interacting with the crowd...There. His desire is, just as the gates of the city were opened to Him, the same is done with the doors to our hearts. Every Holy Week He asks the same thing: "Open your heart to Me. I'm not here to mortify you! I'm not here to boss you around! I'm not here to take anything from you...I'm here to give you everything. I want to make you happy." That's what He's telling us. If we slam the doors to our hearts in His face, He suffers. Although He is used to it, He suffers. And we lose the opportunity to become happy.
We say that today the Church has spilled out into the street, to imitate that Palm Sunday, but also to affirm that today, in a special way and by extension, the place for Christ is out in the street. The Gospels tell us He would go to the temple, that He would go to the synagogue, but they also tell us he was on the roads, in the cities, in the streets. Today the place for Christ is the street; the place for the Christian is the street. The Lord wants us like Him: with an open heart, roaming the streets of Buenos Aires. He wants us walking the streets of Buenos Aires and carrying His message! Like Him, on the road and on the street. He doesn't want us hoarding His word just for ourselves, locked inside our own hearts, our own house, or in the temple, instead that we spill His word on the street. He wants us walking out on the street. H.E. uses a rather, er, colloquial slang term for this, by the way.
We look to Jesus, Whom we welcomed today into the city and Whom we'll accompany during this whole week, until His glorious resurrection, and we ask Him: Jesus, show me [how] to open my heart. Jesus, send Your Holy Spirit to open my heart. Send Your Holy Spirit to this city that it may open its streets, its homes, its families. Jesus, teach me to go out on the street and shout like those, on that day in Jerusalem: Blessed are You who come to save us in the name of God. May it be thus.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day (traditional)

Yes, yes, I know this year it was shoved back to March 16th and all that. Still.

Here ya go:

AMDG,

-J.

P.S. You can buy the DVD here.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Me/Not Me

Me.
...and me.
Not me.
Not me.
Not me.
Not me, thanks.
Me.
Not me.
Very me.


Very not me.
Me.
Not me.
Me.
Not me. Me.
Me again.
Still me.
Me some more.
Me yet again.
Not so much me.
Me.
Not me, and if it ever becomes a "me" please shoot me.
SO me.
Um, no.
Um, [HECK] no.
Yes, me.
{Shudder} Not me.
Too me.
Not me.
Extremely me. Not me.
So very me.Not at all me.
Now you know.


-J.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Charity is as charity does.

Over the last few weeks, rising to a crescendo these last few days there has been a tumultuous murmuring on the matter of "charity."

Who's charitable, who's not, what charity is and ain't.

Given the various postings of opinions on the issue, it is not surprising -- at least not to people such as I -- the current market on charity is mostly characterized by its turbidity.

Charity is often confused with kindness. Which it is not. It usually cohabits with kindness, but like the poet said, it ain't necessarily so. Slamming someone in the ribs with all your might isn't generally seen as a kindness, but if the subj. is in imminent danger of taking a careening SUV amidships, it seems plain to any sentient being the deed in question is manifestly charitable.

The question then pivots around "moderate force." In racing the phrase used is "winning a race as slowly as possible." Put another way, an objective is to be accomplished as gently as possible. Sometime "as gently as possible" isn't gentle at all, and that's the part that a lot of people spectacularly fail to grasp, just as a lot of people fail to grasp that it may not be necessary to issue a body slam to move the endangered away from that careening SUV.

I am reminded of a joke -- not a very funny joke, mind you, but an illustrative one -- about a little bird that had been caught in an unexpected spring freeze. It's poor little body is caked with frost and he is on point of death. A cow comes by and deposits a...er...#2 upon him. This has the effect of warming him up completely and he begins to sing in loud joy...at which point a cat comes by and, stealthily creeping up, manages to pull the bir out and eat him. Moral: Not everyone who [poops] on you is your enemy, and not everyone who pulls you out of the [poop] is your friend.

What becomes key is in separating the message from that message's mode of delivery. I strongly suspect sometimes you must employ the equivalent of "OK, look, you idiot..." but not often, and not as a first resort.

And!

Even in those cases when you must employ, er, "frank and vigorous language" the point should be to call attention to someone's actions/statements, and not devolve to ad hominem attacks which:

1- Make you look like a knuckle-dragger
2- Do not correct or adequately admonish the other person
3- Engender mistrust for your viewpoint

It is easier (not to say "easy") to fall into these traps if you do so from a position of anonymity. Recent combox fireworks have ensued from such a hospitable environment. Very early on in this blog's history I had similar issues and I took the line of not tolerating anonymous postings. Other people may have divergent views on this matter, but my experience is that anonymous-friendly comboxes yield vitriol up with which I will not put.

But back to charity.

Charity is, in my estimation, something best viewed by its objective. Is the objective to instruct the ignorant or admonish the sinner in the manner likeliest to produce desired results? If yes -- and read the foregoing carefully -- then it's charitable, even if it's not particularly nice. Admonishing the sinner or instructing the ignorant (in the manner most likely to effect the desired results) are works of mercy and therefore are among the prime means via which we satisfy God for the temporal punishment due to sin. We have to do this.

Mind you, we have to do this in such a way that the sinner we admonish or the ignorant we instruct actually gets better. Which means that berating or putting an unkind construction on someone's statements or actions isn't likely to do the trick.

Of course, sometimes in order to instruct the ignorant, we have to point out to what some third person has been saying or doing wrong. When Politician X says, in some glib, nuanced, subtle flourish of sophistry something that runs counter to Christian living, we have to do our level best to point that out, lest anyone else accidentally swallow that whole mess.

I have a few examples I'd like to delve into for the next post on this issue, so stay tuned.

AMDG,

-J.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Lenten Friday cookalong, part 5

As someone who keeps in touch with one's pals from one's former life (including one's rather miserable Wall Street life of epochs ago) it's fun to go out and have lunch and dinner. I had Becco and LondonBar on my schedule but I was open for the other slots.

So!

I was pleasantly pleased to be introduced to a place called Craftbar, of which I had heard in passing. Well.

[Darned] nice.

It's always good to go to these sorts of places with a regular, so that when he (or, in your case, possibly she) orders something offmenu nobody emerges from the kitchen with eyes rolling in a fine frenzy and stainless steel flashing menacingly. The item in question is a -- no, really -- carrot and crab soup. During the colder [!!] months, it's apparently made with parsnips and it's even more of a revelation.

At any rate, the base for this soup is very much like a variation of the Puree o' Carrot soup. So that's pretty much sorted out. There were bits of tart apple and, I think, jicama in there as well.

Of course, when I eat stuff like this, I IMMEDIATELY start trying to deconstruct the recipe in my head -- to all the foodies here, do you do that as well? Or is that just me? -- so invariably I get asked "Are you okay?" as my brow furrows and my face is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought. Some people do acrostics, or crosswords, or sudoku...I try to figure out the recipe for things I enjoy.

So, basically I'm telling you I've been working on this.

(Incidentally, the prices at Craftbar are "not bad...for New York." I also liked it that it had a kind of locals/insiders sort of vibe to it.)

I'm pretty sure I have the carrot & crab soup wired properly. The breakthrough came when I realized two things:

1- There was no effort to emphasize the sweetness of the carrots. In this context it would have devolved into "sugary."

2- There was no effort to emphasize the seafood-y nature of the crab. In this context it would have come across as overly piscine.

This soup pretty much hangs on two factors: the greatness of the stock and the freshness of the crab.

So, this is what I'm thinking, after a couple of trial-and-error runs:

1/2 lump crab meat (ideally you'd buy it very fresh from the fishmonger, but the refrigerated canned stuff is okay IF it's fresh...check the "sell by" date)
1 lb carrots (or if you're trying for a more winterish thing, parsnips)
1/4 lb unsalted butter*
Coarse sea salt (kosher is fine) and fresh-ground black pepper (white pepper if you are using parsnips)
6 cups vegetable stock (you COULD buy some, I'spose)
1 small jícama
1 tart (braeburn, granny smith, whatever) apple
extra virgin olive oil
chives [opt.; if you think fennel fronds is too much bloody fennel, use this as garnish]

For vegetable stock:
4 large carrots
4 celery ribs
2 whole leeks, sliced open and rinsed free of grit (1 large white or yellow onion would work)
1 fennel (bulb, stalk and frond)
1 head garlic
2 dried bay leaves
1 tbsp. whole peppercorns
extra virgin olive oil

Start with the stock:

Cut off the fennel stalk. Peel the outermost layer of the bulb, and core it out. Dice the carrot, celery, onion and bulb roughly. (Reserve about a handful of fennel fronds.) Cut the head of garlic in half and loosen as much of the papery outer skin as you can.

Swirl oil (twice around the inner perimeter) into a stockpot and put over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, toss in the chopped vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Sweat the vegetables making sured they do not color, figure about 2 minutes. Add the peppercorns and bay leaves and stir. Then, add cold water to just cover the vegetables. Wait for the first TINY bubbles to show up and then lower the heat to whatever temperatures allows for a pleasant simmer, leave it uncovered for about half an hour.

(You need cold water to extract the flavor of the vegetables. Hot water would cook the surface areas and not let the flavor components leach out into the liquid.)

Strain the stock (a mesh insert is IDEAL). No need to be fanatical about it. If you feel extra-diligent, mash down on the vegetable matter with a ladle. The juices emanating (from the vegetables you're abusing) are GOLD, baby. If you're smart, you'll make 2x - 3x the amount called for, as this freezes beautifully and tastes eleventy zillion times better than anything store-bought. To say nothing of not screaming with sodium. Oh, yes, look at the label of that canned stuff...you're begging to hold water with that stuff.

Drain the crabmeat and, still in the strainer, give it a GENTLE dunk in the strained stock. Figure a minute to warm it through. Quarter the carrots (or parsnips) and GENTLY boil in the stock until soft; start checking at the 4-5 minute mark. Fish them out, set aside.

Immediately place carrots (or, you got it, parsnips) into a food processor or blender (or another pot in case you want to use an immersion blender). Add a couple of tablespoons of butter to carrots (or parsnips). Add pinch of salt and pepper. Add a couple of ladles of the stock into the carrot or parsnip and blend. (If using a blender be careful because the steam can make the whole thing distribute itself very evenly on your walls, ceiling, floor, face, hair, etc.) Repeat, one ladle of stock (up to four) at a time as you puree again. At this point it will be rather thick, so add more stock depending on how thin you like your soup, reserve and freeze any leftover stock. Place soup back into the pot, and back on the stove over medium-low heat.



In crayon: Basically, boil the carrots in the stock and puree them with some of the stock.

Peel the jicama (if you use parsnips as the soup base, try to get the golden Caribbean jicama, for a nice color contrast) and dice, core the apple and cit it into a large julienne (think the size of "McBurger Hut's Drive-Thru Fries" or maybe a bit smaller). Toss these two things in water with a teeny splash of lemon juice or vinegar to keep them from browning.

Make a small bed of jicama on a soup bowl, add crab to that pile, and then garnish with the apple and chives. Ladle the soup around the solids. Sprinkle a few fennel fronds as garnish. If you feel especially frou-frou you can use an old tuna can as a "ring mold" because no sane person would ever pop $$ for a ring mold when disused tuna cans are free.

Serves 2 very generously.

-J.

* Notice the 4:2:1 ratio of carrot:crab:butter, this is key to multiplying the recipe.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

This is priceless.

When you are getting over a nasty cough, it's not wise to read something like this, brilliant as it may be.

-J.

In the words of King Julian XIII of Madagascar...

"After much deep and profound brain things inside my head..." I have decided to shamelessly steal riff from our doings over at SWC and develop a sidebar list for Bishops of Which I -- and since this is my solo blog, what I say goes -- Approve.

The List (to use its current nom de blogge) over at SWC has undergone some debate, etc. as the names contained therein didn't exactly meet with universal approval from fellow Jesuits, who made their concerns pellucidly clear. I harbor no such concerns from the world of bishops.

There are a few that will be going up there just as soon as I can be bothered to work on my sidebar: Abp. Prendergast of Ottawa and Cdl. Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Abp. Burke of St. Louis, and definitely Bp. Finn of Kansas City. The main problem with the Church (at least in the USA, but I suspect it goes far deeper than that) is not the priests, but the bishops. I forget where I read this, but regardless of specifics the point holds: a tiny fraction of priests were involved in the molestation of children...but a majority of bishops were involved in covering the matter up. So bishops count, especially given what passes for culture today, when they adhere to the notion "friendship with the world is enmity with God."

And this guy, His Excellency, Patrick O'Donoghue, Bishop of Lancaster (UK) will be right on the list.

Where do we get, say, 100 more like him?

-J.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What I did for my Lenten vacation.

Sometimes -- usually, really -- we choose what we give up or sacrifice for Lent. We mull it over, we pray over it and we make a decision.

No chocolate, no profanity, no dessert...whatever. Some form of sacrifice, self-denial, etc. This steels our nature, makes us more keenly aware of those who must do without a lot more and a lot longer.

So that's good.

But sometimes, God has another plan and He socks you with something you wouldn't have ever dreamed of. As opposed to the off-the-rack sacrifices like chocolate or hair gel, God's have a certain bespoke elegance thereto. They really, really fit.

In my case this has been to patiently and charitably correct and admonish. God (literally!) knows how difficult it is for me not to blurt out something like: "GAH! You are such an IMBECILE!" When I hear the notion advanced that [insert mandatory issue here] should be viewed prudentially, or vice versa.

Part of the notion of charity is not to call someone a sniveling cretin even if he is the apex of cretinousness and the quintessence of sniveling. Sniveling cretins are children of no lesser a God. It's also harder, because now I must work on correcting his error and he may be someone with "a limited capacity for understanding."

Me being me, I have to get the last word in, and I have to get my point across, come what may. Which leads to introspection.

Am I defending Christ and His Church that everyone may applaud me for being awesome at it? Or am I really trying, in all earnestness and good faith to make someone see light? Do I react to failures of same with equanimity and renewed purpose, or do I sulk at someone's "idiocy?" Has Satan taken my momentum for Christ and jiu-jitsu'ed me? (Again?)

How many souls am I springing out of Purgatory every time I silently offer up my unheard scream of "ARGH! HOW are you not getting this?"

God knows why He has placed the (seemingly) invincibly ignorant in my path.

-J.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Karen'll turn this into a meme, just you wait.

A coupla days back, I received a mostly uninspiring meme. It did have one part which functioned as its saving grace.

My fave section of that meme was:

Name two favorite lines from movies.

Which I would have answered:

1. "Teaching the lepers how to sing." Stolen (in adapted form) from Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, and used whenever someone engages in an activity of purported charity which accomplishes nothing, but makes the person performing such an act feel as if s/he had actually achieved something.

2. "So that's it, then. We're going to die." Stolen from The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy and used whenever my wife is scared of something that I'm doing which, in reality, merits barely a raised eyebrow.

But, to a "film/TV geek" like me, a mere two lines is woefully inadequate. I've stolen hundreds if not thousands of lines, and I spout them off at, ideally, inconvenient times and in as impertinent a manner as I can manage.

Here are some other ones, with credit where credit is due and suggestions on usage:

"Fire at will, Commander." Stolen from The Empire Strikes Back and used to indicate "Fine. Whatever. Do what you want." (It helps if you can do the impression of Emperor Palpatine)

"Light is green, trap is clean" from Ghostbusters, meaning the traffic light has changed and you may now use the gas pedal.

"It's the long pedal on the right. Live a little." Pilfered from Dragnet 1987, same as above, but with more emphasis.

"God help me, I do love it so." That one is from Patton and it means that although I recognize the subject under discussion may not be to anyone's taste, I happen to love it. I usually mention it to my long suffering wife in conjunction to uncommon cuisines such as Korean or haute-WASP.

"So this is Hell." Shamelessly lifted from Volunteers (a movie with as many quotable lines* as any ever committed to film -- Karen, you may relay this to Ken), from the scene when Lawrence Bourne the Third discoveres that, in his haste to escape his gambling debts, he has boarded an airplane filled with Peace Corps volunteers singing "Michael Row The Boat Ashore" and "Puff The Magic Dragon." I use it whenever I am unexpectedly dismayed by a new development.

"There is no Dana...only ZUL!" also from Ghostbusters, and uttered when someone is having a Very Bad Hormone Day. A gravelly, deep baritone or bass best conveys the intended effect.

"Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?" from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Made in response to an unbelievable assertion. (But you hafta do the accent.)

"If you buy this hat they give you a free bowl of soup...[pause]...but it looks good on you." Swiped from Caddyshack and used when someone is contemplating a hideous garment.

"Remain calm. All is well." Which I take from Animal House and use to suggest panic is not inappropriate nor unexpected.

"Blessed are the cheesemakers." Taken from from Monty Python's Life of Brian, and used to suggest someone has really gotten the wrong idea about something.

"These people built the Pyramids." From Mr. Saturday Night and used to denote the average age of the attendees at a given event is "deceased."

"Bring me a glass of warm gin with a human hair in it." This one is from Rustler's Rhapsody and it is intended to convey my posessing precisely the sort of toughness which Karen considers as suitable for men.

"I believe on a voyage like this, you should should have every amenity." My fave Groucho Marx line, from A Night At The Opera and it means I am going to make the best of a bad situation, probably by frequenting the bar.

"You mean witches? We have 'em too. We just pronounce it differently." Van Johnson's immortal line from Brigadoon. I use this to explain that my feelings for someone extend beyond the supposed mere dislike.

"Nonsense. They came nowhere near my tabloids." From The Thin Man, and used to indicate "no harm done."

"Congratulations. You're a Hell of a threat to mosquitoes everywhere." Grabbed from Ensign Pulver (a very young Jack Nicholson boasts about just having swatted a bug) and used whenever someone brags about something very trivial. I mean even trivial for me, which is saying a lot.

"Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops." from Arsenic and Old Lace. Used to explain my abysmal relatives.

"I'll meet you at the place near the thing where we went that time." From Broadcast News and used when someone thinks I know WTF s/he is talking about.

"What we've got here is failure to communicate." a BRILLIANT line from Cool Hand Luke which I use to denote (usually to my long-suffering wife) that she is not paying detailed enough attention to whetever the Hell it is I am talking about now.

"I was born a poor black child." from The Jerk. I use it to denote how much progress I have made towards a particularly difficult goal, such as making gnocchi from scratch.

"In my case, self-absorption is completely justified. I have never discovered any other subject so worthy of my attention." From Laura, uttered by the very inimitable Clifton Webb. Self-explanatory.

"Mother of Mercy, is this the end of Rico?" Little Caesar (and also, hilariously, Home on the Range) used to admit that something, towards which I have expended much effort, is going to not work out.

"Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son." To be uttered to someone who is really doing something completely idiotic, counterproductive and self-indulgent, from Animal House.

"Rommel! You magnificent bastard! I read your book!" From Patton, and used to indicate that, following written instructions, I have achieved better-than-expected results. (If possible, you have to sound like George C. Scott.

I could go on and on...in fact, I think I have.

-J.

* Other amazing lines are:

(when LB III deplanes in the tropical swelter of South East Asia) "Jesus H. Christ, we must be a mile from the sun."
(when LB III spots a tall Texan in a crowd of Thais) "I'm going strictly by height, but...are you in charge here?"
"It's not that I can't help these people it's that...I don't want to."
"We must do what we must do, for if we do not do what we must do, then what we must do does not get done."

Friday, March 07, 2008

I put my money where my keyboard is

The lovely and gracious Karen recently wrote about the Cukierski Family Apostolate and asked everyone to contribute to their survival, by prayer and/or by financial contribution. Today she received this news from them in her e-mail:


As of this morning, we have received $5250. We need to raise at least $6,000 by the end of the day. We are so close!!!Everyone will receive a little something for their kindness. If you haven't done so, would you pray about heading on over to: http://www.cukierski.net/triumph-over-evil.shtml.

I hope you will spread this news to anyone who might contribute to them by the end of the day. As she's stated before, Karen is a big fan of this apostolate. So, not being content to let others do my share of the lifting for me, I popped on over there and gave of my bit. (If certain projects EVENTUALLY come through as expected, you know I'll be contributing a lot more!)

What moved me to blog this is that I received a wonderful little e-note from Wendy, unrelated to whatever amount I donated. I figured the very least I could do is cast wide(r) the request.

YOU CAN DONATE USING PAYPAL. Just go to http://www.cukierski.net/triumph-over-evil.shtml and follow the links. (You can donate as much or as little as your circumstances allow.) Then, when you're done with THAT, go order something.

I also extend my thanks to everyone who has already ponied up. Karen will keep us posted on these fundraising efforts. natch, all prayers for their survival would be greatly appreciated by the Cukierski family.

Go do the right thing. Now.

-J.

Lenten Friday cookalong, part 4

Well, since you asked. Here is the Sushi Episode. Today we are making everyone's "gateway" sushis: California Rolls. Now, the thing of it is that you must first make the suchi rice -- rice is key, people! -- and not just any ol' rice, short-grain sushi rice. There are several varieties in the more frou-frou shops and Asian markets (including rices with varying degrees of aging!) but chances are you'll just find one or two at your local Food Hut. You'll need about a cup of rice and a cup-and-a-quarter to a cup-and-a-half of water and a teeny pinch of salt. Cook the rice as you normally cook plain white rice. (But do NOT wash it if that's part of your rice routine.) We like to use the giga-cheap and spectacularly excellent and, best of all, IDIOT PROOF Nordic-Ware microwave rice cooker. $10 ($8, if you catch it on sale) at Amazon.First off, the implements of destruction. Yes, those knives are scarily split-an-atom sharp. Which they need to be, because the rice they will need to cut will be pretty [darned] sticky and unless you have a knife that's sharper than a razor, you'll end up making a dog's breakfast out of what ought be your family's dinner.Readers with young daughters: Your wish has come true.
In Japanese this means "Show me respect or I'll #$%&ing cut your #$%&ing arm off! Don't you DARE #$%& with me!!"
The rice, once cooked is to be spread out and cooled. At this point you need to sprinkle it with "sushi vinegar" which is basically rice wine vinegar (diluted cider vinegar works in a pinch) to which sugar and salt -- 3:1 ratio -- has been added to taste; you need to balance the sweet and tart and salty.Joey-san deconstructing some cucumber. You want any vegetable pieces to be thin in relation to their crunch. Cucumbers are tenderer than carrots, so they can be thicker. Carrots really ought be matchstick thin.Putting the rice on the nori. Which sounds like Japanese gangsta slang. IT WILL BE STICKY. Do not panic. You will note the KrabStix(TM), which is really just pureed pollock bound with egg whites and tinted with annato. Real crab is several degrees of complexity removed from the skills of a 10 year old boy. If you call it surimi, though, it sounds way mo' impressive than KrabStix(TM).10 year old boy posing proudly in mid-process, having just placed the surimi on the rice. (Keen-eyed observers will note how he drapes the kitchen towel over his shoulder, Gordon Ramsay-style.)
Then the vegetable are placed atop the Kr...er...surimi, just before rolling. [Not pictured, avocado bits.] We cheated and slipped a bit of cling wrap underneath to facilitate the whole thing. Roll TIGHTLY and refrigerate -- still in the cling wrap, to prevent the rice from trying out -- for about 10 minutes to firm up the "log" o' sushi.
...and slice! (The trick is to wipe clean and wet the knife -- also some sort of Tokyo slang, probably -- between slices. We used a hollow-ground Santoku, but a non-10 year-old sushi master would use a Yanagiba knife.)

And there ya have it. Sushi by a 10-year old. I can hear the dowry zooming skyward...but not as much as if he hadn't donned the headband.

-J.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Vile slander (r was it libel?)

Stay tuned, for I will defend the honor of the Mini Cooper in short course.

-J.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The devil take this blog!

Well, at least he took one entry away.

I had composed something stellar -- well, at least I thought so -- in my head between leaving the house and arriving at the office. But then I had to make some unscheduled computer repairs (unsuccessful) and had to schlep away on some further errandness and POOF! all that brilliance is gone.

Drives me mental, it does.

-J.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Screen time.

Movies You Need To See To Understand Me Better:

His Girl Friday
16 Candles
Trading Places
Chariots of Fire
The Right Stuff
Mr. Belvedere Goes To College
The Man Who Came To Dinner
Volunteers
The Cameraman
A Night At The Opera
Makin' The Grade
Airplane!
Zelig
Metropolitan
This Is Spinal Tap

(Note that only TWO of these are not comedies.)

TV Shows You Need to (Have) Watch(ed) To Understand Me Better:

Firing Line
Cooking with Julia
It's Your Move (no-o-o-o-obody saw this one)
The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle
Monty Python's Flying Circus
Jeeves & Wooster
Moonlighting
The Bob Newhart Show
Newhart
Taxi
WKRP in Cincinnati
Barney Miller
NewsRadio
Beavis & Butt Head
South Park
Leave it to Beaver

-J.