Thursday, December 29, 2016


Requiescat in Pace

Mother & daughter at charity fundraiser in 2003

Proving once again that fiction
can't hold a candle to real life, Hollywood icon Debbie Reynolds passed away yesterday at age 84, only one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher died at just age 60.

Reynolds, who was one of my early movie star crushes as a kid, lived a truly remarkable life both in and out of show business. She richly deserved the Lifetime Achievement Award she received from the Screen Actor's Guild in 2015 as well as the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award she received from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences earlier this year.

Carrie Fisher earned worldwide stardom for her role as Leia Organa in the Star Wars film franchise, but she did fine work in a number of other films, including The Blues Brothers and When Harry Met Sally... She was also a talented writer, publishing several novels and a stage play, and became one of the most highly sought-after "script doctors" in Hollywood. She was also acclaimed for her work as a mental health advocate and activist.

2016 has been a rough year for prominent deaths, rougher than most, but this particular pair of losses seems especially heart-rending. And, in a Hollywood twist that no screenwriter would risk, Debbie's last words were reportedly "I want to be with Carrie."

Me too, old friend...Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them...

Feast Day

Statue at St. Thomas' Hospital, London, by B. Child

Today we celebrate the feast day of St. Thomas Becket, named after
St. Thomas the Apostle, on whose feast day (December 21) he was born in 1119 (some sources say 1120).

Born into a relatively prosperous middle-class family, Becket's formal education was interrupted when his father suffered financial reversals and Becket began taking on household positions to bring in extra money.
His service to the Archbishop of Canterbury was so distinguished
that King Henry II selected Becket
to be his Lord Chancellor in 1155.

He excelled in that position as well, and in 1162 Henry elevated Becket himself to the vacant position of Archbishop of Canterbury, believing there would be political benefits to having his Chancellor also hold the highest clerical post in the kingdom.

Not long after his elevation, however, Thomas became an ascetic, resigning as chancellor and devoting himself wholly to the Church. This created friction between Henry and Thomas, which led to Thomas's murder at Canterbury Cathedral on December 29, 1170.

Thomas was both beatified and canonized on February 21, 1173 by Pope Alexander III. He is the patron of secular clergymen and of Exeter College, Oxford.

So, This Happened

"Noise? What noise? I don't understand the question."

Yesterday afternoon I had a fairly significant amount of (clear) water leak all over my guest bathroom hallway and entrance hallway before I noticed it was happening and got to the shutoff.

Earlier this morning the professionals showed up to extract the water from the carpet, disinfect just to be on the safe side, etc. That process was annoying enough, but now I have SIX of the bad boys shown above drying the carpet, and they have to stay on for THREE DAYS.

"On the plus side, I won't be able to hear you curse while you're watching football!"

And I won't be able to hear your smart-aleck color

Obama's Foreign Policy Legacy

From the pen of Chip Bok, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Time...

One of the first Christmas songs I learned in Catholic elementary school choir class was "Away In a Manger," one of the small handful of wholly American religious carols. It is also one of the most popular carols, being covered by dozens of recording artists over the years in almost every style and genre. Perhaps because of the way my own earliest acquaintance with it came about, I have always been fond of choral versions of the song, especially ones featuring childrens' voices.

The English all-boys' vocal ensemble Libera first came to my attention just a few years ago, when I heard their single "Sanctus" on a radio station one Sunday morning. I liked it so much I took the trouble to track down the group, and quickly became a fan. Their versions of sacred hymns in particular are quite powerful. 

In November 2013 the group released a special holiday album,
Angels Sing: Christmas in Ireland, which was recorded live on location
at historic St. Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh, Northern Ireland earlier that same year.

The set list ranged from classic sacred hymns like "Gaudete"
to modern secular favorites like "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," all delivered with
the ensemble's trademark delicate treble harmonies.

Today's send-off is the official video of their performance of "Away In a Manger," from the ensemble's YouTube channel. Enjoy...

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