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I was pretty proud of myself for the way in which I deftly managed my schedule yesterday, especially as I was still discombobulated from my travel of a few days before (which always throws me).

♦   First stop was RFEC, where it was “Jazz Sunday”.  As I’ve mentioned in previous years, it is the practice of my former rector on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday to bring in a jazz combo (with himself on the drums) and have us sing them old tyme spirituals instead of the usual fare of 18th and 19th Century hymns.  As I’ve also said many times before, I find the whole concept of a gang of well-healed, upper middle class suburban whites singing “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” to be rayther tacky.  So aside from “Amazing Grace”, I simply kept my mouth shut and smiled thinly.

However, I had particular reason to be there, apart from the whole family unity policy.  For one thing, the 5th grade class was handling the Old Testament reading about Elisha succeeding Elijah, and the eldest gel had bagged the former part.  I think she was selected for the forcefulness with which she kept telling the sons of the prophets warning about Elijah’s impending exit to pipe down.    For another, the nine year old’s youth choir sang the Offeratory Anthem.  The gel is rapidly becoming a leader in this group, and when her eyes start sparkling and she decides to let rip, her voice is quite distinct among the general hubbub.  It is a real treat to watch and hear.

♦   After the Offeratory was over, I slipped out in order to dash over to a neighboring school, where was being held the final day of softball try-outs.  The past couple sessions, I’ve been sitting with the other AAA managers.  The atmosphere is considerably less intense than it is with the major league sharks, and I’m beginning to sense that I’m going to have a lot of fun working with them.  Our draft is next Sunday, so hopefully I’ll be able to start getting my team organized very shortly.  As I was leaving, I was accosted in the hall by the mom of one of the AAA players, who immediately started lobbying about how nice it would be for her daughter to be on my team, especially as the girl sings in the choir at RFEC with my nine year old.  She also started offering helpful hints about all the wonderful training drills last year’s coach had devised.  On the one hand, I’m inclined to try and nab this girl both because I know her and because I think she’ll be good.  On the other, I’m not so sure I want such a self-advertised fussbudget hovering around behind me.   I suppose it’s just one of those things that goes with the position.  (Good thing we get paid the big money.  What? We don’t? Hey, waaait a minute…….)

♦  Because this was just a make-up session, try-outs ended at 11:30.  This gave me enough time to collect myself and dash over to my own Church in time for the Latin Mass.  The musick was by Palestrina this time and, in all fairness, although it was perfectly fine, it did not move me half as much as I thought it might.  Go figure.

As I stood in line to get up to the altar, I suddenly realized that a couple places in front of me Father S was having a whispered argument with some fellah over whether or not he should receive Communion.  I couldn’t quite get what the fellah was saying, but I could hear Father S whispering, “This is the way we do things in the Catholic Church….”  In the end, he refused.  I thought the fellah was going to spring at him.  What would be the etiquette in such a situation? To come to the aid of the Cloth?  Or to stand staring into space and pretending nothing was happening? (I should mention that Father S is a muscular young man with whom I would certainly not want to tangle.  I imagine he could have taken care of himself perfectly well without my help.)

♦  Thus, a whoooole lot of livin’ packed in and, as I say, I came through it with flying colors.  It was only in the early evening, as I sat in the bleachers watching the gels’ swim team practice, that I found myself dozing off.

Emily Karrs reviews the new 3-D stop-action animation movie Coraline:

Coraline is trapped in a world of uninteresting people who are uninterested in her. Her mother and father spend their days catatonic in front of their computers in their home offices, and her neighbors prattle on about themselves without even bothering to learn that her name isn’t “Caroline.”

Then, one day, she finds a secret door into the world of her dreams. Inside this Other House, the chief occupation of her Other Mother and Other Father is searching for ways to please her, her toys leap to life to entertain her, and everyone knows her name. The Other Mother, a precise copy of Mrs. Jones but for her paper-white skin and black button eyes, invites Coraline to sew a set of buttons over her own eyes and take her place at the locus of this Coraline-centric universe.

Our heroine discovers that this fulfillment of her desire for attention and adventure comes at a price, and the price becomes increasingly apparent as she runs at needlepoint from the Other Mother. The Other Mother never intended to accept any answer but “yes” to her invitation. Coraline’s dream world deteriorates into a nightmare.

And so Neil Gaiman explores every corner of what it means to dream. He delves into the varied fruits of our daydreams—the power of wishing and the agony of a wish come true. The Coraline we are introduced to at the novel’s opening pines for adventure and attention. Yet the eerily wonderful world to which she journeys causes her to exclaim, “I don’t want whatever I want. Nobody does. Not really. What kind of fun would it be if I just got everything I ever wanted? Just like that, and it didn’t mean anything. What then?” Coraline lives out the maxim of St. Teresa of Avila: “There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers.”

My lot saw the movie over the weekend.  (I did not.) I don’t know whether they picked up on the underlying theme or not, but I do know that the film, in their words, “totally freaked them out.”  The thing is billed as a “family film” and I don’t believe anyone was expecting it to be as dark as it turned out.

fishy-fishPrior to yesterday, I had never before heard of “Swedish Fish”.

Apparently, they are some kind of very popular gummy candy.

My ignorance surfaced when the eldest gel was trying to explain a comic strip to me that she had found particularly funny that morning, “Swedish Fish” being an integral part of the punchline in the last frame.

When I confessed that I hadn’t any idea what she was talking about, she gave me a look suggesting that she was beginning to question what planet I come from.

Perhaps I am a bit of a freak in this sense.  For anyone else out there who might share my ignorance, I pass on this vignette in order to save you from similar embarassment.


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February 2009