Sunday, September 25, 2005

Catholic Church in the News...Again

Madonna and Child
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
This is a rather long post, so be forewarned.

I imagine that most folks who visit my blog know I am a recent Catholic convert. I love this faith, though I am not always in agreement over all of its doctrinal points and decisions. Well, the Catholic Church is once again in the news, this time for an alleged ban of homosexuals entering the priesthood.

Now, the Church distinguishes between homosexual orientation and homosexual ACTS. The church encourages people to be true to themselves; if one is homosexual, they should acknowledge this fact BUT live a chaste life, thus avoiding any "sinful homosexual acts." In this way the Church seeks to be welcoming to everyone, but staying true to its doctrine against homosexual ACTS. Whether this is successfully accomplished is a point of debate.

The point of contention with this new potential ban on homosexuals enetring the preisthood is that the ban would include ALL people with homosexual tendencies, including those that have made the choice to be celibate in accordance with Catholic Teachings. Since it IS current news, I thought I'd make a statement on this issue to those who would be curious to know my stance.

There's one important thing to keep in mind in reagrds to this issue:pPortions of the document in question has been LEAKED, and the actual statement of the church has not yet been published (and in fact, may not even be completed). So every report that is in the news is speculative. No one, save the authors, have read the final document. We will have to wait and see what the official document actually says. That being said, I will quote myself on this issue, from an email I sent earlier during an online discussion:

It seems to me that the underlying issue here is TRUST, or lack thereof as the case may be. If a heterosexual man is attracted to women and sex but realizes that a promiscous lifestyle is one of sin, he can make the decision to abstain. If in turn he feels called to join the priesthood, it is great step in his journey towards unity in Christ with both God and his Universal Church. As a priest, we trust him to lead us and have faith that he will do his best to live by his vows.
So let's imagine another man who has his own sexual urges, realizes that they may lead to a conflict with his faith's moral teaching, and makes the decision to live a celibate life. He feels the call and chooses to pursue the priesthood. In the grand scheme of things there is no difference between the two men, except that now the church may say that the first man is OK and trustworthy to be a priest, and says the second cannot pursue the priesthood because he may have felt attracted to another man. He cannot be trusted-which is to say he is INCAPABLE- of living up to his celibate vows.
We are ALL sinners, we ALL have our personal struggles, and priests are no different. Hopefully we are all striving to be holy and live a life befitting of a Christian. But to me, this new line of thinking reeks of a double standard. If a man happens to be gay but makes the decision to live celibately, I see absolutely no inherent difference from the man who is attracted to females and decides he should abstain from sex or marriage. Celibacy is not defined as "not having sex with a woman", nor is it defined as "not having sexual urges". It is defined as "Not having sex. Period." The object of the desire is a moot point in this case. If the person has made the decision of celibacy, he is one step closer in his personal spiritual journey, and we should NOT view him by who he WAS, but rather by who he CHOOSES TO BE. In essense, it's a act of forgiveness and trust that I hope extends to us all as sinners.
When I'm at Mass, when I'm struggling with a question of faith, when I'm seeking comfort- I don't go to the Church to speak to a straight man. I go to speak to my spiritual guide and someone I can trust to help me move closer to Christ. It makes no difference to me where he started his journey.

Corpse Bride

Corpse Bride
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
Well, Tim Burton has again proven himself to be a visionary artist. Tonight, Katie and I, along with some of my friends from work (the Lab Rats, as I will now term us) went and saw Corpse Bride. Burton has done some of my favorite movies, and Nightmare Before Christmas is my all-time favorite movie. But I must confess that Corpse Bride is a stronger film. Funny, stunning, and at times really creepy, the film is completely enjoyable form start to finish. By default, the technological advances of the last 12 – 13 years make the effects in this film top of the line. To think that Corpse Bride (and Nightmare…) are essentially puppet shows boggles the mind. And Corpse Bride wouldn’t work as well outside of that medium, as there is something anachronistic about the style of animation that complements Burton’s surrealist, Victorian worldview that gives this film its edge. It helps create the “otherworldly” context that is vital to this story.

Everything about this movie is a solid artistic accomplishment. The design is superb and I feel the most creative aspect of the film. Nightmare…and all of Burton’s films have his distinctively skewed gothic veneer, but this film is his most brilliant. From the dichotomy of the black/white world of the living and the vibrant color of the Land of the Dead, to the architecture of the set pieces (as there is no more appropriate term for it), the film is a delight. The movements of the characters are fabulous (especially the skeletons), the characterizations themselves great.

Also, this film has some of Danny Elfman’s best work. Again, I love Nightmare..., but the lyrics, the way the music interweaves into the action, and the compositions themselves are some of Elfman’s most consistent and haunting (or lively in the case of Mr. Bonesjangles).

So perhaps this is a little gushing since I have JUST seen the flick, but I have a feeling that repeated viewings of this film will only solidify my sentiments. If I have any criticisms, it is that sometimes the plot was a little obvious. But who cares. I know how Nightmare... ends and it doesn’t stop me from watching it over and over. So see this film. Also, see if you can catch the subtle tribute to a stop-motion pioneer of yesteryear.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Gimme Shelter(s)

Today I was (re)certified by the American Red Cross in Mass Care and Disaster Services, which means I can assist in running emergency shelters and other services delivered during disaster situations. I could technically be sent for a three-week stint in the areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (or any other major disaster site). Except that I CAN'T actually do that as a student, seeing that a three-week absence would result in failing all my classes. I am available to help with regional disasters, though, such as fires or (God Forbid) a hurricane that hits South Carolina (which has happened planty of times before). But nonetheless, it's a good thing to know and another addition to my resume. I guess I was technically already trained in some of this from my year in the NCCC, but I wanted to get a "refresher," and there was quite a bit of additional information.

Everyone Hail to the Pumpkin Song

Jack and Sally
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
Well, since tomorrow night I will be seeing Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, I felt I should pay a little tribute to my favorite film. Yes, I could be a bit of an “art-house snob” if I so choose (and I don’t), but I have seen many a great film- be it classic cult films such as David Lynch’s Eraserhead, the masterpieces of Akira Kurasawa, the dead-pan humor of Jim Jarmusch’s Down By Law- but at the end of the day, I must come clean and admit that A Nightmare Before Christmas is my ALL-TIME favorite movie. Perhaps not the best movie ever, but it has a very special place for me. Hell, I even had a cake with Jack’s head on it at my wedding reception.

I saw the film when it came out at Deville Cinema in Jackson MS, at the time the largest theater in MS (perhaps not as tall, but easily as wide as your standard IMAX). I liked it a lot and thought it was great. But over the years it has grown to be the movie that I can watch over and over and still be amazed. While at the Cultural Center in Madison, MS, the kids at the summer camp watched it at least twice a week, and as I was often in the room, I would generally forget about any work to do and find myself completely mesmerized. It was then that the movie kicked up a notch and has endeared itself to me so much.

The music, the amazing animation, the simple sentiment behind the story, and just the characters themselves…Confound it all, I love it though. Since it is now a few year’s past the decade mark, the effects have started to show their age a bit, and I’m sure Corpse Bride will ultimately blow them out of the water. But I doubt seriously that Jack will ever lose his rightful place as the Pumpkin King.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

It's All Greek to Me...and a Few Other Hundred People

Greek Festival Logo
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
Thursday night, after a long day (including four classes and two exams) in a string of long days (including another exam and assisting with and/or running three lab experiments, lots ‘o reading and writing, and many many phone calls), I walked in from school around 7:30pm for rest and relaxation only to find myself whisked away to the annual Greek Festival at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.

This was our third year to attend, but the first time we had been in the evening, and it was a lot of fun. Though I was kinda “out of it,” the wife and I milled about the booths, enjoying ourselves very much. Good music, good food (spanikopida, baby) and good company, as we were hangin’ with Margaret, Anne Weisner, her friend C.J. (from Madison, MS!) and, of course, the omnipresent Ms. Paula Randler.

Why are Rastafarians called "Rastafarians?"

Haile Selassie
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
So most folks have heard of Rastafarians, or at the very least have heard of Bob Marley. But do you know WHY they are called Rastafarians? And if you have paid attention to the news lately, why was Jamaica up in arms over the possibility of Bob Marley’s widow, Rita Marley, exhuming his body and moving it to…Ethiopia? Why would she do that? Well, here’s your “Final Jeopardy” tidbit of the day: According to, here are a few main points to know about Rastafarians:

• Rastafarians believe that God is a spirit and that this spirit was manifested in Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I. Rastafarians believe that they are the original Lost Tribes of Israel that were once scattered by Babylon until the appearance of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I.

• Rastafarians believe that Jesus was a direct descendant of King David and was black. Rastafarians believe that the Ethiopian Solomonic Dynasty is a direct representation of King David.

• Rastafarians believe that God will return them to Zion (Rastafarians refer to Ethiopia as Zion). Rastafarians believe that Ethiopia is the Promised Land and that it is Heaven on Earth.

The idea that Haile Selassie is the living embodiment of god sprang forth from a quote that is attributed to Marcus Garvey (and highly debated as to whether he actually said these words or believed the sentiment held therein): “Look to Africa for the crowning of a black king, he shall be the redeemer.” (from

So the question still stands: why on earth do Rastafarians refer to themselves as Rastafarians? Quite simply, sometimes people change there names: just as John Ratzinger is now Pope Benedict XVI, and Tom Marvelo Riddle is now Lord Voldemort, Haile Selassie changed his name when he ceased to be a prince (ras) and became Emporer. His birth name? Tafari.

More on Haile Selassie:

Monday, September 19, 2005

Mike Doughty's Band, 9/17/05

the drummer was great too.
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
The Band: Mike Doughty was the lead singer/songwriter for Soul Coughing, one of my all-time favorite bands. After the group disbanded, Mike pursued solo work and toured as a one man acoustic singer, rehashing some old Soul Coughing and performing many new songs. His solo releases over the last few years have ranged from acoustic guitar to more electronic compositions, all featuring his distinct lyrical style and vocals.

Doughty has put together a new band (featuring my boy Andy on bass) and is currently touring his latest album on his first full-band tour since Soul Coughing broke up.

The Venue: The Music Farm was a really good venue. The sound quality was good, there was a lot of room to move throughout, and there was no pretentious vibe to make you feel like you weren't cool enough to be there (which wouldn't have mattered much 'cuz we were all TOTALLY cool enough to be there). Even the security guard who got onto me for taking a brief video of the show was nice (but blunt).

The Show: Having seen Mike on his "Smofe and Smang" era solo tour, we were looking forward to seeing him with a band, especially since I never had the opportunity to see Soul Coughing live, (unlike our friends Tricia and Adam, who saw them TWICE! Dag.) Anyway, the first show Katie and I saw (in Philadelphia, PA opening for Rusted Root) was enjoyable, but oh what a difference a band can make.

This show was excellent. Not only was it great to see Andy doing his thing, but Doughty himself really fed off the support of his band. Feeling the positive energy from the crowd and feeling secure in the knowledge that that his band "had his back", Doughty was a really strong, energetic frontman. Seeing him in Phillie was fun because the show was good and we were excited to see him live. Seeing Doughty with the new band in Charleston was good because he was so genuinely entertaining and enjoying himself.

Playing some new songs from his album Haughty Melodic, some of which are updated versions of his solo work, the show was a good mix of new and old, including quite a few Soul Coughing tracks. Of particular note was the band's rousing rendition of Kenny Roger's "The Gambler" (a highlight for our friends, the poker obsessed Cendrowski clan- who I lost a few bucks to the night before in a Texas Hold'em game. Evidently I do not know when to hold OR fold 'em)).

Great time, great show, great band (especially the bass player). See the tour if you get the chance.

Hangin' with Scrap

chris and andy
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
It's cool to get to hang with a member of one of your favorite musician's band.

It's even cooler if the aforementioned band member is also a dear old friend.

This last weekend was a fun-filled few days in Charleston. Mike Doughty's new band was playing the Music Farm, and it just so happens that his new bass player is my old friend Andy Livingston (who has now been officially christened "Scrap" by his bandmates). Due to the ebb and flow of life, I had lost touch with Andy and his wife, Erica (another old friend) and hadn't spoken to Andy since my wedding 2 1/2 years ago. Honestly I was a little nervous to see him again just because so much time had passed. I'd tried to email him, but never could get in touch with him to tell we were going to be in town to see the show.

We hoped to find Andy before the show by going to an afternoon in-store appearance by Mike. The band's bus was parked outside the record store for the autograph signing, so I went up and asked Mike if Andy was around. I would love to have seen Andy's face when Doughty and another member of their crew got back on the bus and said "Hey, Andy- there's some guy in the store that says he knows you."

Well, if you've looked at the picture, obviously the reunion was a good one. We got to visit a good chunk of time, catching up and filling in the years of lost time.

We saw the show with our friends Brian, Nicole, and Cheryl, Tricia, and Adam. It was a great weekend. I'll post a more formal review of the show soon, but this entry is dedicated solely to Mr. Livingston and his bad self. I cannot think of a person who has "paid their dues" more than Andy, so it is an understatement to say I am proud of him. I give him my utmost respect.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Anapestic Tetrameter: Poetic Structure or Medical Condition?

On a chalkboard in one of my classes was the phrase "anapestic tetrameter." A classmate and I spent a few minutes trying to figure out what it was. We'd heard of "iambic pentameter," so we were reasonably sure this was a literary term, although "anapestic" sure sounds like an infection of your GI tract.

After a quick google search, here is the answer to our query, cobbled together from varied sources which I have sadly forgotten to write down for author credit:

A "foot", in the poet's glossary, is a unit of stressed and unstressed syllables. There are many varied combinations possible; five prevail in English poetry:

one unstressed syllable, followed by one stressed : iamb
one stressed syllable, then one unstressed : trochee
two unstressed, one stressed : anapest
one stressed, two unstressed : dactyl
two stressed : spondee

A rhythm built by repetitions of iambs is "iambic". Repetition of trochees is trochaic; anapests, anapestic; dactyls, dactylic. For a line of all spondees,it's "spondeic".

monometer one foot- he SITS
dimeter two feet- he SITS on CHAIRS
trimeter three feet- he SITS on CHAIRS in BARS
tetrameter four feet- he SITS on CHAIRS in BARS and THINKS
pentameter five feet- he SITS on CHAIRS in BARS and THINKS of CARS
hexameter six feet- he SITS on CHAIRS in BARS and THINKS of CARS that BREAK

Evidently, the best known example of anapestic pentameter is "The Night Before Christmas." So now you know that to have anapestic pentameter, you need poetry, not Pepto.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Witty Title Goes Here...

Welcome to my new blog. I promise no consistency in the contents of these posts other than that I thought it was interesting and I expect others might as well. OK, in actuality, I expect that many faithful friends will slog through many a posting that doesn't interest them in the least. But that's what friends do, eh?

So let me get started, and why the hell not kick it off in Swahili?! Sound good?

Karibu, ndugu! Jina lako ni Chris Reid. Habari zenu? Ninasoma Kiswahili. Mimi ninakaa Columbia.

Ok, you don't exactly know what the heck I said, but admit it- its kinda fun to read anyway. You know it is. That's pretty basic stuff, by the way, the stuff you learn in like- oh, I don't know- three weeks of Swahili classes? I would like to point out that if I wrote those sentences in English I would sound like a six-year old. Kwa heri!

For more on Swahili, visit