Saturday 29 August 2009

Final Destination...

The friend who witnessed my very blonde moment yesterday had originally come around in order to discuss schemes of work. Afterwards, we decided to see if there was anything on at the cinema. There wasn't, but Angela really wanted to see Final Destination, so I agreed to go along.

We decided to see the 3-D version: I was slightly dubious, as the 3-D films I've watched in the past (complete with cardboard specs with their red-and-green acetate filter lenses) totally failed to work for me, probably because I have a "lazy" eye from an untreated squint.

The 3-D specs have been updated to black plastic, and the lenses are no longer red for one eye and green for the other. But, at first, I couldn't actually perceive the 3-D effect. "Can't you see the spike sticking out of the screen?" Angela asked me. I couldn't. I saw the spike, it just stayed firmly on the cinema screen.

I took the glasses off, and realised that this was not a good idea - the image was slightly out of focus, and every line seemed to be shadowed in a sort of double-vision effect. Watching this for a few minutes made me go cross-eyed and headachy, so I put the glasses back on.

There were several "ooh" and "ahhh" noises from the audience, and people could obviously see something coming at them out of the screen. It became quite irritating, because I just wasn't getting it. And then, gradually, I began to see the occasional item moving out towards me: not as many as my friend, but something. It was most noticeable when small bits of glowing ash floated out from the screen: that looked extremely convincing.

It's just as well that I began to see some of the special effects work, because otherwise I would have been bored witless.

The basic plot ran something like this: the hero and his friends are at a stock-car race track. The whole place is a disaster waiting to happen, with rotten beams and no health and safety requirements, so you just know that there is trouble ahead.

The hero is a nervous sort of chap, looking at all the "unsafe" stuff in a significant way... and then he has a premonition that a disaster will happen (only you don't know this is a premonition at first) and he persuades his friends to leave. Some other people leave too, ostensibly to argue with the hero. Most unconvincing: I mean, if you were at an event and some stranger started creating a fuss, and then left, you'd probably just thank your lucky stars that the idiot had gone, leaving you to watch the event in peace...

Anyway, the disaster happens. Suddenly, with little explanation, the hero and his girlfriend decide that people are dying in the order in which they would have died had they not escaped the original disaster. This really relied on people having watched the previous Final Destination films - I suddenly realised that I had actually seen the first one at this point: I'd forgotten about it. The hero and his girlfriend then decide that they can avoid dying if they succeed in breaking "the chain" and start going around trying to save everyone... and arriving just too late... but getting to view the increasingly gory deaths.

The deaths became more and more improbable, and seemed to be nothing more than a vehicle for chucking special 3-D effects in. When you have about ten or so people being bumped off one by one, it's pretty tedious.

I was extremely annoyed to find that there was one very unnecessary sex scene in the film: not only was it completely irrelevant to the plot, but it was extremely graphic, (actually pornographic) despite the film having a 15 rating. Given the amount of gore and violence, and the explicit sex scene, I'd have thought the film should have been rated 18. The Passion of the Christ had less gore and violence... and it didn't have the sex and nudity... obviously the Film Classification Board considers religion to be something from which young people need to be protected!

There were some funny moments: the main one being when the security guard, figuring that he's next in the chain, tries to kill himself in order to break that chain. He's found, trying to hang himself, by the hero: "I've been trying to kill myself all day!" he exclaims. "I swallowed pills, and I chucked them up. Then I tried to attach a hosepipe to the car exhaust, and got in the car. It kept stalling..."

That isn't enough to make the film worth seeing. Do yourself a favour: go and watch paint dry, or something...

An Exceptionally Blonde Moment...

I am ashamed to admit that I really maxed out on the blonde scale. Think of all the dumb blonde jokes you've ever heard, and then some, and you won't even be close to how blonde I was yesterday.

Most of my blonde moments have been car-related: I love driving, but am not, in any way, shape or form, what you might describe as mechanically minded. A flavour of some of my more impressively blonde moments:

For example, my very first car, an Austin Metro, refused to start on the first morning I tried to drive it on my own. I called out the AA, and they sent a man round. He looked at the car, looked at me, and, with manifold pity in his expression, uttered the words, "I guess you've not seen a manual choke before, then?"

A week later, in the same car, I ground to a halt at some traffic lights. Again, the AA came to the rescue. This time, the man in question was grinning: "You're meant to push the choke back in... you've flooded the engine..."

And, until yesterday, I think my most spectacularly blonde moment occurred after a brief foray into my local supermarket. On returning to the car (a relatively new Nissan Micra), I found it wouldn't start. I had arrived at the car park without mishap, but now not a peep could be heard from the engine. I phoned the RAC. Just as the man parked the breakdown vehicle next to mine, I happened to glance down at the gear stick. Yes, I had left my automatic transmission car in "drive." I moved it into "park" and turned the key... and the engine started immediately.

I have had all sorts of similar experiences. Yesterday, though, trumped the lot.

I've had my car for three and a half years, or thereabouts. It's a little Hyundai Atoz. I am very fond of this model of car, having "crash-tested" it, and survived to tell the tale. Lately, I have noticed a tendency for the car engine to get a little warm: nowhere near red on the indicator, just warmer than usual. Having learned (through bitter experience) about cars needing engine oil and water as well as petrol, I have been checking the levels of oil and water regularly.

Yesterday morning, on my way to Mass, the car engine heated up quite a bit more than usual. I opened the windows, put the heater on full, and watched the temperature fall again. After Mass, I checked the oil: absolutely fine. The water was, however, on the low side, so I topped it up. I then drove to the station to collect a friend... and was surprised to see the temperature again edging upwards rapidly.

So, I drove to a local garage, and explained that the car engine was getting rather warm. The mechanic listened, and then started talking about blown gaskets and broken fans. I stood there, looking blonde. He said he'd have a look, but that it didn't sound promising...

He checked the oil, which was fine. He then said that the water was extremely low, but, as I'd told him I had only just topped it up, he thought that there might be a major problem. He went in to get a large watering can. Next, he started unscrewing something...

"What's that?" I asked him. He looked at me with a puzzled expression. "It's the radiator cap," he said, and started pouring water in... rather a lot of it... "I thought you said you'd topped up the water...?" he added.

I pointed at the white plastic box with a plastic cap, which had a tube coming out of it. "Ummmm... I've been putting it in there," I told him.

Oh dear.

Apparently I have been carefully adding water to the overflow compartment for the past three years...

Friday 28 August 2009

Seven Things I'd Like To See Happen...

Patricius of Singulare Ingenium started a new meme: (well, he got the idea from another blog, but that wasn't a meme...)

"What are the seven things that we, as Catholics, want or would like to see happen?"

He then proceeded to give rather more than seven things, but, as it was his meme, I guess I'll let him get away with it...

The "as Catholics" bit is the crunch: there are rather a lot of things I'd like to see happen with regard to, say, the English education system, but that isn't something specifically Catholic.

1. I agree with His Hermeneuticalness on the UN declaring abortion and euthanasia to be crimes against humanity.

2. Catholic schools in England to ditch the National Curriculum, as well as ensuring that all Catholic teachers in Catholic schools take an oath of loyalty to the Holy Father and the Magisterium of the Church.

3. And, in fact, any organisation calling itself Catholic having to take an oath of loyalty to the Holy Father and the Magisterium of the Church.

4. Every parish to offer at least one Sunday Mass a week in the Extraordinary Form... obviously I would prefer more, but it's not everyone's cup of tea, so it'll do to be getting on with.

5. All hymn lyrics to be subject to the nihil obstat and imprimatur before they can be sung at Mass. I personally would like to get rid of pretty much anything written in the 1970s and 1980s, but again, I'll settle for weeding out the heretical ones.

6. Euphemistic Monsters to be forbidden at Mass: if there is only one priest, then Communion will just take a little longer, which merely increases the time available for prayers of preparation and/or prayers of thanksgiving.

7. A complete ban on priests saying anything to the congregation during Mass other than what is actually written in the Missal, except during the sermon.

I think that just about covers it...

Now, I will tag a few bodies. There were no instructions as to how many people to tag, but it's a seven things meme, so it feels as if seven is a good number.

Paulinus of In Hoc Signo Vinces - I figure his choices will be worth reading, and probably amusing as well.
Karen, the Oceanic Gem - we don't always see eye to eye on matters liturgical, so she should come up with some goodies.
Miss Ellen, who is musing on various miscellanea, because she, like me, is into cricket.
Ches, that sensible 007 chap, to make up for calling him a cad, and because he writes such great song lyrics.
Ttony in the Muniment Room, because he's been feeling under the weather, or so he intimated at the beginning of that post.
Jane, who is thinking at the Oasis, because she is doing great work on the Spiritual Motherhood of Priests initiative (more on that soon.)
Deo Volente, compiling lists of Traditional Latin Masses in Maryland, just in case he wants to have a go in between cutting and pasting Mass propers... though he probably won't.

Wednesday 26 August 2009

Time For A Blonde Joke...

Ok, what with the cricket and Mass slideshows, I have neglected to post any blonde jokes for a while, as Caroline reminded me the other day.

Why are blonde jokes so short?

So that brunettes can remember them...

Petition Against Abortion Ads On TV...

This petition is a bit of a shock for those of us who are used to doing this sort of thing with the click of a mouse (more or less.) It is one of those petitions that you actually have to sign and then send back...

However, it is also one of the most important petitions you will ever be asked to sign. So, it is worth hunting for an envelope and a stamp, printing the page off, filling it in and then posting the whole shemozzle in the nearest snail mail recepticle. That last bit is where I often come unstuck: I so rarely post anything!

The petition is addressed to the Prime Minister, and is against the proposal to allow abortion agencies to advertise on television and radio.

The reasons behind the petition are clearly explained on John Smeaton's blog. The dangers of the abortion industry being allowed to tout their "services" are demonstrated by the duplicitous approach employed by the woman from Marie Stopes International, who spoke in a debate on Premier Christian Radio, as reported by Fiorella. If they can lie about why they want to advertise, then they can lie about everything else, including the effects that abortion has on the women concerned.

I'll believe that Marie Stopes International wants to advertise on TV and radio purely in order to stimulate discussion and debate between parents and children when Professor Richard Dawkins goes down on bended knee in sackcloth and ashes at the Holy Father's feet in St. Peter's Square, admitting that he was wrong and begging to be baptised Catholic. Or, when hell freezes over. Whichever happens first.

Tuesday 25 August 2009

Another Mass For You...

During the school holidays, I have the opportunity to attend weekday Mass in the parish. Because of the smaller numbers attending these Masses, I have been a little wary of taking photos - I don't want to disturb anyone. However, Sunday's experiments with the monopod demonstrated that I can leave the camera relatively low down, and in front of me, so it's not in the way...

So, this morning I settled down to capture a typical example of weekday Mass at Blackfen. Although it is as reverent as it can possibly be, because the Mass is being celebrated versus populum, it doesn't draw the eye in in quite the same way, which means that it is simply less photogenic. If you watch carefully, you'll see that Fr. Tim practically disappears behind the altar when he genuflects, and the Deacon is "missing" for the whole of the Consecration...

It's also noticeable that one can't help looking at the face of the priest during the Elevation when he celebrates versus populum: human beings are "hard-wired," biologically speaking, to focus on movement and faces, and especially on eyes. (Just watch a baby being held by its mother, and see it seek to make eye contact...)

UPDATE: I originally set the slide show to a track from Enya, but, on listening to it again, I decided that maybe it didn't work as well as I'd first thought. So, new music (I want people to watch the video, after all) and this time I picked Minuit, Chrétiens! by Adam, sung by Roberto Alagna, from the album Sanctus...

Calling Any Poppins Wannabees...

...But, sadly, only if you're in the Glasgow area!

The Sisters of the Gospel of Life are helping one young family in their search for a full-time (well, on weekdays anyway!) Nanny.

They also asked for other bloggers to advertise, and I'm always happy to help the Sisters, they do such stirling work.

Mass In The Ordinary Form...

I love Mass celebrated according to the Usus Antiquior, whether Low Mass, Missa Cantata or Solemn High Mass.

But I also love the Mass itself, because of what is happening. In Blackfen, we are fortunate to have a variety of Mass "styles" and I often attend the Sunday evening Mass, which is in the Ordinary Form; it is celebrated ad orientem, as recommended by our Holy Father in his book, The Spirit of the Liturgy.

There is a lot of stuff going around the blogs about the Reform of the Reform, and ICEL have been told what's what in no uncertain terms, so we have a better translation of the texts coming along shortly. I thought I would take some photos from Sunday evening Mass, and make it into a slide show video, the way I have for the Extraordinary Form Masses I've attended.

The music is by a group called Adiemus, from their album, Songs of Sanctuary. The track is also called Adiemus.

I shall try to get some photos from Mass celebrated versus populum shortly - it's more tricky, as I don't usually go to either the Saturday 6pm or Sunday 9am Masses, but I might be able to take photos at one of the weekday Masses this week...

Monday 24 August 2009

Hands Off!

I really hate the Sign of Peace at Mass. It's not that I'm being unfriendly or snobbish, it's simply that, at the time of the Mass when the Sign of Peace is offered, I'm trying to recollect my thoughts before receiving the Sacred Body and Blood of my Lord and God... I'm easily distracted at the best of times, and the general hubbub which ensues after the deacon's (or priest's) instruction to offer the sign of peace means that this is not the best of times!

Even when people try to be reverent, and only shake hands with those closest to them, it results in a lot of movement and noise. But, in reality, people seem to try to greet as many others as possible; there is the desire not to "leave anyone out" because you might appear to be unfriendly... And often, especially at weekday Masses, people aren't sitting close to each other, so you get some people all on their own, so others walk across the church in order to make sure they don't feel excluded. People mean well... they want to be kind.

I've learned to keep my head down and my eyes firmly closed... I used to look around and smile at those nearest to me, but that would often encourage someone to "be neighbourly" because I was standing all on my own, and they would walk up to me, hand outstretched. On the odd occasion, I've opened my eyes to find a hand still being proffered, and then it would be rude to refuse to shake hands, but this is rare in my own parish, since I normally sit near the front and don't turn around.

Such behaviour is often misconstrued, so this song made me laugh out loud... apart from the "C of E" bit, I can see me there in a couple of decades (assuming that all the "trendy" priests haven't died out by then!)

Twitch of the mantilla to Catholic With Attitude.

Computer Tech Support...

I mentioned previously that Googling something on the computer for my parents often consists of them phoning me up... I also often get asked about how to do stuff in Publisher or Word (and other programs) so this picture (from XKCD webcomic) made me chuckle...

Twitch of the mantilla to Puella Paschalis (who has password-protected her blog, so no link right now...)

Low Mass...

Normally, the 10:30am Sunday Mass in Blackfen is a Missa Cantata. However, during August, the choir takes a well-earned break, and we have Low Mass in the Usus Antiquior instead.

I took some photos yesterday, experimenting with the monopod to see if I could work out the best position for the camera which would allow me to focus on the Mass, rather than constantly checking to see if the camera angle was ok.

Of course, I then had a whole batch of photos waiting to be used... I did wonder if I should make yet another slide show video for the blog, but I was assured that it was worth the effort...

I meant to add that the music is the title track from the Vision album I used before: O Euchari in Leta Via.

Sunday 23 August 2009


I have found the whole Series surprisingly entertaining: if you'd told me, six weeks ago, that I would be avidly following cricket matches, I'd have thought you were one stop short of East Ham.*

I was more than a little worried when, after Mass this morning, one of the servers gleefully chortled that Australia didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of retaining the Ashes (that wasn't his exact phrase, but you get the picture!) I mean, last night Australia had finished 80 without loss... however, the server in question had heard the latest score, and the Aussies were already two wickets down.

Straight into the Parish Club to watch the big screen. It was certainly fun to try and match up the howls of triumph with a complete lack of reaction from the umpire: on Test Match Special, I would hear these screams of triumph and then wonder why no-one seemed to be out, and no runs were awarded. On the big screen, I was able to see that the bowler was assuming he'd gotten the batsman lbw, but the umpire was having none of it... and the computer-generated diagrams invariably supported the umpire.

I left once the lunch break commenced, went shopping (I had to find some correctly-sized staples for my staple gun, and it was harder than I thought possible! Eventually I gave up, and bought a new staple gun!!) and then I continued to listen at home. I tuned back in just as Ponting was run out, and then Clarke... and a while later, another wicket went down.

At this point, I had to leave to go to open the church for evening Mass. I wasn't sure if Australia would be able to hang on for another day, but they were 278 for 5, and I didn't see why, with another five wickets to go, they couldn't clock up another 268...

As I was clearing up after Mass, the deacon mentioned that England had taken another two wickets before he'd left for Mass... and then Trefor told us that it was indeed all over, and England had regained the Ashes.

Yippee. Now, four years before the next Ashes Test Series, by which time I might have learned to tell my silly mid on from my short backward square leg... to say nothing of my cow corner (thanks David!)

I'm still not quite sure why we were playing for the burnt remains of a cricket stump...

*On the District Line (Green) of the London Tube network... the stop before East Ham (starting from Upminster that is!) is Barking...
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