Archive for June, 2009

The Brand of Silence continues, after several months of neglect by me. (You can listen to the first three parts over at the story’s page at archive.org.) I know it may seem to have worked up a bit slowly, but bear in mind that this was originally a serial novel, IIRC. The first four chapters would have been the first month’s installment. So it’s really my fault for reading it so slowly, instead of in more chapters per week. I’ll try to repair this error.

Chapter 4: A Foe and a Friend.


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Giving In to Pressure

Air pressure on my sinuses, that is….

I’m sorry, folks. Yesterday was a near total wash, thanks to all these fronts moving through, and I’ll probably be spending most of tonight curled up with my sinus medicine, too. With any luck, I’ll be able to post something tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, you can always check out Amazon’s free music downloads or celebrate the feast of St. Cassius of Narnia (Narni, Italy = Narnia in Latin), or something else fun.

If you’d like something historical, you can listen to this very seasonal excerpt from Tacitus, as he gives the pagan Roman viewpoint on the terrifying nightmare that was the Great Fire, and thus on the First Martyrs of Rome, whose feast is tomorrow. It starts with some very non-worksafe recounting of Nero’s actions right around that time.

You can also listen to the Bowery Boys podcast on the Great Fire of 1835 in New York.

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An Introduction to the Devout Life continues, as I impatiently wrap up Book 1 in a single installment. (I’ve changed the track numbers of the first few chapters of Book 2, accordingly.)

As St. Paul said, all sins are wrong, but not all sins are deadly. Deadly sins = mortal sins. Not deadly = venial. As you will hear, however, Catholic teaching doesn’t regard venial sins as something to sneeze at, and even faults and bad tendencies are stuff you’re supposed to try to fight. Your mom the Church doesn’t want you getting away with anything! And in this case, Mom really does know best. (Yeah, yeah, I know I don’t do a good job with this. But do what the podcaster says, not what she does!)

We’ve talked about “attachment” before; it was a big topic for St. John of the Cross in The Ascent of Mount Carmel and its sequel, The Dark Night of the Soul. Basically, any time you get too wound up in a thing or even a person, and treat that thing or person like your own little god instead of what it really is, you are attached to it. The thing or person isn’t bad, or even bad for you; your attachment is what’s hurting you. So basically, a lot of the job of becoming holy is finding and unwinding the silly little attachments you have somehow managed to twist yourself into, so that you can be free to love God, and so you can love all His creations for what they are, and not what they aren’t. So again, St. Francis de Sales isn’t saying that fun stuff is evil. He’s saying that maybe his young friend Philothea gets herself a little too worked up about some fun stuff, and may therefore have to avoid it for her spiritual health.

Book 1, Chapters 22-24.


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Since there’s no super-cool fannish letter column yet in this, the second issue of the magazine ever, and since I do not really feel like reading the huge amount of copy included in a typical 1930’s magazine ad — of which there are a gazillion in the issue — this is the end of my audiobook version of the February 1930 issue of Astounding Stories of Super-Science. “The Thief of Time” has a nice solid ending, and I think you’ll find it satisfying. If you like Carnes and Bird, Meek wrote a whole series of stories for them, all of which appeared in the Bates-edited Astounding.

Sterner St. Paul Meek really did achieve the rank of Captain in WWI; he eventually became a colonel in the US Army. (Hence the “U.S.A.” after his name in some of his bylines.) You can find bibliographies of his works at ISFDB and Fictionmags.

Since track is mentioned, I think it fitting to wish my dad, a former track coach (though he never goes on the Internet) a happy birthday, and many returns of the day. I should also assure everyone that my dad hadn’t been born yet when this issue hit the drugstores!

“The Thief of Time”, Part 2.


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We’ve finally come to the last story in the February 1930 issue of Astounding Stories of Super-Science: “The Thief of Time” by Captain S.P. Meek, aka Sterner St. Paul Meek. Yes, we’ve already had a story by him in this issue, “Into Space”, under another pseudonym.

This story, like the other one, relies on a science fictional device. But this one is a bit less dark, and a bit more realistic, within the fantastic framework. I’m a card-carrying member of the New Space Princess Movement, of course; but I like this sort of “urban science fiction” pulp approach, too.

(Assuming of course that you take “urban fantasy” to mean “fantasy in a realistic contemporary urban environment” and not “fantasy Gothic romance, with werewolves instead of Mr. Rochester, and sex partners instead of dance partners”. As a Spacer-American Princess, I don’t believe in putting up with the latter.)

“The Thief of Time”, Part 1


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Free Music!

The happy people at the Church Music Association of America (CMAA) Colloquium in Chicago have been posting recordings of their various Masses and Liturgy of the Hours services. (The idea is that you go to classes and workshops about sacred music, but you also go to Masses and prayer services where you sing and play the music. The other idea is that the music gets more complex and there’s more Latin as the week goes along.) You’ll find all sorts of different eras of composition to listen to.

Obviously not everyone will be interested in this music for its sacred qualities, but I think any music lover would be interested in hearing pieces of music in the context for which they were intended. (And if you are interested in music as worship… you’ll appreciate it much more.) But the point is to give this music to God as part of worshipping Him, and hence to make the music as good and suitable as you can. Beyond that, it is to help other people participate in worship as they hear it.

However, bear in mind that while there’s a strong core group of highly experienced and knowledgeable singers, many of the attendees are absolute beginners at chant, absolute beginners at choirs or singing (whether or not they have expertise in other musical areas), or are even absolute beginners at attending Mass or Christian worship. So it’s a lot more like going to Mass with “here comes everybody” than some incredibly flawless album. (Especially when people are singing Morning Prayer or Mass before breakfast, and while unacquainted with the Loyola chapel’s acoustics; or while their voices are feeling rusty after a long journey and an early morning.) For learning about a musical tradition through participation, though, this is just what you want. You don’t learn Celtic music from listening only to virtuosi at the perfect moment. In fact, musical traditions usually live only because lots of mediocre musicians are able to do a serviceable job within it, even when feeling cruddy and sounding less than their best. 🙂

Recordings at :chant.dierschow.com, Vox Feminae (see widget in the sidebar on the right)., and at The Recovering Choir Director. Eventually, there’ll be more stuff up at the CMAA site. You can also download the official Colloquium music packet and follow along in it; it’s all public domain stuff. To paraphrase one organizer, “This is an open source music conference.”

UPDATE: The Authentic Update is also providing sound files of the Colloquium. You can hear Haydn’s Orgelmesse here.

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This series of assorted letters by St. Jerome continues, as he keeps giving good advice to his young friend St. Eustochium, a patrician Roman teenager and consecrated virgin. Her mother, St. Paula, was all for her daughter’s calling; her other non-Christian and even Christian family members, not so much.

Letter 22, Part 3


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