Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tuesday Tidbits #1

Running Through My Head Today:  
Gone, Gone, Gone by Phillip Phillips

Grateful For:
How the value of stories has played out in our family over the years. This is especially obvious with Ria, who wrote her senior thesis on the connection between stories and Salvation History and is now using stories and parts of stories (like movie clips) in her work as a Catholic campus missionary at a state university, and especially in her one-on-one spiritual mentoring of students. Stories are so universal, so applicable, so amazing, so true. 

Everything Keeps Coming Up...

Baseball/Jackie Robinson  We really enjoy baseball in our family. Though I have assimilated to Wisconsin football-wise (it's hard not to become a Packers fan after living here for more than 20 years), I will never give up my San Francisco Giants. The kids have inherited their baseball loyalties from me, which have certainly been helped along by the Giants' three-time World Series wins in six years! We try to get tickets to see the Giants when they come to Milwaukee (which we manage to pull off about every other year). We were thrilled to get tickets to one of the Giants-Brewers games a few years ago. Before the game, we were trying to make out which player was which when we realized that all of them were wearing the number 42 - it was Jackie Robinson day! We enjoyed how they introduced each player as number 42 throughout the game and it happened to be soon afterwards that the movie 42 was released. It soon became one of our favorite movies.

A few weeks ago, we made it to another Giants-Brewers game, which was a real treat. I told the kids I would pay for my ticket and parking if they paid for their own tickets. Three of them took me up on it and we got a great deal through a community fundraiser. Angel Pagan threw a ball to Frank, who, I'm sure, will remember it for the rest of his life.

Since I was in a baseball mood, I read a lovely children's story, written by Jackie Robinson's daughter, Sharon, called The Hero Two Doors Down, which is the true story of Jackie's friendship with a young neighbor. Then we watched the first half (so far) of Ken Burns' documentary on Jackie Robinson, which worked almost as a special features to the movie 42. My younger kids, who may have had just a little bit too much of the documentary genre in general, were quite engrossed. I especially enjoyed the interviews with Jackie Robinson's wife, Rachel, who seems even more lovely in real life than she was portrayed in the movie.  

And we are just about to start Little League season around here. We have two kids who play baseball (and yes, one of them is a girl, who plays mostly with boys - and she is good!) and are looking forward to the upcoming season. As much as I enjoy having my kids play basketball, the intensity of the game, especially since it's indoors and all of the noise and whistles and all bounce off the walls, makes me not entirely unhappy when the season is over. In contrast, I relish the baseball season (well, aside from the mosquitoes). It's really more my speed and it's a wonderful thing to spend all of that time outdoors.


Bernie and I have been playing a lot of Scrabble lately. I try not to get involved in computer games because they can be very addictive for me (I seriously need to keep Solitaire off of my computer!), but Scrabble works out pretty well. I play it through Facebook and usually have about a dozen games going. Because I have to wait for the other players, it's a reasonably limited amount of time at each sitting and it's good fun. I especially enjoy kibitzing with Bernie. I also learn a lot from the teacher. We also discovered that the British dictionary is a lot of fun to play with. Bernie takes it to another level entirely, but playing some games in languages she doesn't speak, like French.


I recently finished Miracles from Heaven by Christy Todd Beam. I got interested in the story after reading the movie review by Bishop Robert Barron: "Miracles from Heaven" and the Problem of Theodicy. I really enjoyed the book. The adjective that keeps coming back to me with regard to the book is genuine. Though I do believe the miracle to be genuine, I'm thinking of this terms especially with regards to how this mother shares the most intimate story of the suffering of her child (as well as the whole family) and their relationship with God. I especially appreciate that they aren't trying to put on a show or clean things up to improve the story. The little details of real family life in an imperfect world are poignant and much appreciated. I have not yet seen the movie, but am very much looking forward to it.

I also just finished (well, unless you count all the Appendices!) Fr. Michael Gaitley's The Second Greatest Story Ever Told: Now is the Time of Mercy. He interweaves the stories (and highlights the connectedness) of the apparitions of Fatima, St. Faustina and the Divine Mercy Devotion, St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. John Paul the Great.  It encourages devotion to both Divine Mercy and the Blessed Mother as the double-solution for bringing ourselves and the world to Christ. It makes especially great background reading for the 33 Days to Morning Glory Marian Consecration (by the same author). Though I was generally familiar with all of the stories, there were a lot of interesting pieces that I had never heard before.

Though I enjoyed the casual, conversational tone of the text, I especially appreciated the numerous quotes from the key players in the story.


X-Men: The kids got us a set of four of the X-Men movies for Easter. (And we have since borrowed or bought several more.) None of us had watched any of them previously. On the whole, we are really enjoying them, with Days of Future Past a clear favorite, probably followed by X-2. We especially enjoyed the interplay of personalities, the batting around of philosophical concepts, the playfulness and the character development in Days of Future Past. I believe all of the movies have been rated PG-13, with some a little heavier on the violence and mature content than others. Wolverine was particularly violent. Some of the kids think we could have just skipped it and not missed much.

Cutthroat Kitchen: We have long been fans of Alton Brown, since being introduced many years ago by Karen Edmisten. Since we don't have cable, it was only during a hotel stay a few months ago that we discovered Alton's newer cooking game show (which has apparently been out for quite awhile). We've never really gotten into the chef reality shows with all their drama and angst, though we've seen a few bits here and there. Despite the name, this is more light-hearted, interesting and, believe it or not, inspiring. Each show starts with four chefs. There are three rounds of cooking and one chef gets eliminated in each round. Alton Brown names a dish (which are mostly very familiar dishes, some of them surprisingly so, for example: taquitos, lobster roll, chocolate cake, chili cheese dog and breakfast sandwich), they have one minute to shop in a special "pantry" and then a limited amount of time to cook. Chefs get to bid on sabotages to inflict on each other and a food critic decides which chef to eliminate at the end of each round without knowing anything of the sabotages.

This is a very engrossing show and interesting for a lot of reasons. First of all, the chefs are of a very high caliber, so their creativity in working around the sabotages is really quite fascinating. Just watching them cook tends to inspire us to try new dishes and more interesting (and real!) ingredients and generally spend more time in the kitchen.

The human nature element of the show is really interesting too. First of all, it's rather amusing at how
An example of a sabotage: making crepes on a seriously warped pan.
the chefs who brag the most not only attract a lot of the sabotages, but often end up self-sabotaging by forgetting key ingredients in the pantry. It's also rather amazing at how often sabotages seem to backfire against the one who inflicted them.

Finally, Alton Brown is a really interesting and funny guy. His little comments and antics keep the show funny and light and we really enjoy his side comments about what good and bad ideas the chefs are trying out. We've been watching this on Netflix, but have also very much enjoyed the after shows on You Tube in which Alton and various judges try out some of the sabotages.

Quote I'm Pondering:

Suffering, pain, sorrow, humiliation, feelings of loneliness, are nothing but the kiss of Jesus, a sign that you have come so close that he can kiss you. Do you understand, brothers, sisters, or whoever you may be? Suffering, pain, humiliation - this is the kiss of Jesus. At times you come so close to Jesus on the cross that he can kiss you. I once told this to a lady who was suffering very much. She answered, "Tell Jesus not to kiss me - to stop kissing me." That suffering has to come that came in the life of Our Lady, that came in the life of Jesus - it has to come in our life also. Only never put on a long face. Suffering is a gift from God. It is between you and Jesus alone inside. -  Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta as quoted in 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley

Enjoy your day!

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