Monthly Archives: March, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Covers Ever

Based on the title alone, you may have thought this post was about my favorite cover songs. Alas, that will have to wait for another day. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is about my favorite book covers. The original blogger, Jana, went with her favorite covers of 2012, but I have been drowning in books already, so I think I’m just going to go with my favorite covers overall. (I don’t know of a legal way to display book covers, so I’m going to link to Amazon.)

Top Ten Best Book Covers Ever

Beauty Queens
, by Libba Bray: I did not like this book, but the cover is pretty fantastic. It’s hard to tell unless you see it in person, but each lipstick in the bandolier is a slightly different shade.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (U.S. edition), by J.K. Rowling: You thought I would list the entire series, didn’t you? Nope; just this last one. It’s closest to my heart because I have a giant poster of it that I got in Borders the night the book was released. I actually got a second one the Monday after from my coworkers, but I decided to share the love and give that one to my friend Jim. I have a big blank space on my wall above the TV just waiting for it to be framed.

Feed, by M.T. Anderson: This book blew my mind back in college. The cover is a great representation of the feed, the brain implant that connects people to the Internet all the time but also brings ads. Some dystopias aren’t that unbelievable.

Fearless #36: Gone, by Francine Pascal and probably a ghostwriter: I was hooked on this series in middle and high school. I finally managed to finish it after I graduated from ACE (four years after I’d purchased the book), and I was definitely disappointed. (Between that and The Hunger Games, Harry Potter just looks better and better all the time.) I do like the black-and-white effect and that this Gaia model (photo model, not robot model) is walking away.

Sinner, by Lino Rulli: I haven’t read this book, but it’s on my to-read shelf because I enjoyed the few snatches of Lino’s “The Catholic Guy” show I heard on the Catholic Channel back when I had satellite radio. I love the simplicity: here’s Lino, the book’s about him, it’s called Sinner, and he’s the sinner. Done and done.

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares
, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan: I haven’t read this book, either, but I love the cover. I like creative depictions of words. I think I could have told that it’s set in New York City by this cover alone (if I didn’t already know).

I think that’s all. I like covers, but I guess I need more than a good cover to draw my attention and memory.

Catholicism, Skepticism, and Glee

Next up in the big pile of articles I meant to blog about but never did is an article about Glee from many years ago. I struggle with my affinity for Grey’s Anatomy, but I definitely have a love/hate relationship with Glee. The characters represent so many extremes that it’s hard for me to figure out whether I agree with any of it. I’ve been watching for so long that I’m not quite ready to give up, but I’m not sure why I’m watching anymore.

Way back in 2010 (yes, I’ve had my “to blog” pile for that long!), Busted Halo* posted an article from one of the co-creators of Glee after the show received an award from Catholics in Media. (Why it got the award, I don’t know, and the site doesn’t say.) It’s worth noting that this was before the episodes “Grilled Cheesus,” “Sexy,” and “The First Time,” where being religious and choosing abstinence were all made fun of as unrealistic or neurotic. Just once, can I get a character who actually waits until marriage, practices a religion, and is happy? Can I get a character who is actually like me? All the people who aren’t like me do.

But I digress. The author and I tend to disagree on the Church and her people. He writes, “I think that being Catholic is a lot like being Jewish. I believe that it is not a set of beliefs, but a heritage.” That’s not true, though. You can be culturally Jewish, yes; but you can be just culturally Catholic, too. I live not too far north of Mexico. I guarantee you a significant number of the people with Our Lady of Guadalupe on their cars could tell you that she’s Mary and she’s Mexican but not any of her story, whether they believe that story or not. Existence does not equal truth.

He also writes:

It’s difficult, as Catholic, to…watch bishops deny communion to people whose beliefs they don’t approve of. Or to hear people throw around the term “Cafeteria Catholics”, as if the tenets of the Church itself were so flimsy that they can’t withstand examination. And, sadly, I think it’s that church that most people see.

I agree. It is difficult to see all of those things. I don’t agree with every Catholic, either (for example, this author). A Catholic, by definition, is anyone who has been baptized Catholic. Technically, I am lumped together with every person who would mark “Catholic” on a survey. I’ve been at least that much a Catholic my whole life, but it didn’t mean anything and I didn’t know anything for most of that time.

I do, however, recognize the teaching and sacramental authority of bishops. By the nature of their office, bishops have the right and responsibility to deny the Eucharist to those whose sins are widely known and influence others. (Reconciliation, which is also a sacrament, is always open to anyone who actually wants to change.) We have bishops, who have spent years in study and prayer, so that we ordinary laypeople don’t have to police one another. That’s what they’re for.

Examination of Catholic tenets (also called “faith formation”) is actually crucial to being Catholic, but disbelieving in or disagreeing with something is different than struggling to understand it. I think “the church that most people see” is made up of uninformed and jaded Catholics. Most Catholics are jaded because they are uninformed. Shown the truth, people desire it. I want to share the truth. I want to end the lack of information.

Spending a few years really trying to be a good Catholic (and to figure out what that meant) did wonders for me. I do what I do because I don’t want anyone to have to live in darkness and confusion like I did. I’m trying to solve the problem, not just share it. What about you?

*Repeated disclaimer: I work for the Paulist Fathers, who run Busted Halo, but my opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Busted Halo or the Paulists.

Friday Five: Reactions

I came so close to posting this one while it was still Friday on the clock. Friday from my POV will have to do.

  1. How do you react to people begging at intersections? Ever since I was riding alongside my friend Tim (now seven months and a day from ordination as a transitional deacon!) one day, I have reacted differently. I keep a small stack of $1 bills in the pocket of my visor and offer one to panhandlers after asking their names. This is strictly a car policy, because if I get uncomfortable, I can easily drive away. That’s less likely if I’m walking down the Drag.
  2. How do you react to people stranded in cars along the road? I couldn’t help if I tried, besides maybe offering my phone to call for help. Usually, I offer up a quick prayer to St. Christopher (patron saint of travelers), but I also do that when I see clearly abandoned cars. Prayer is not limited by time.
  3. How do you react to telemarketers? I don’t get them. I haven’t lived with a landline in four years. I’ve been getting spam text messages recently, though, which is perhaps more annoying because you can’t reply for free to make them take you off their list. I found out that AT&T has a spam text reporting procedure, though, which is nice.
  4. How do you react to anonymous LJ comments in your journal? Even when I used LJ, I never got anonymous comments. I did get one really creepy friend link to someone I didn’t know with a weird fake journal, but LJ friend requests don’t have to be reciprocal, so there was really nothing I could do about it. Commenters here have to leave an email address at the very least, but that’s common across the blogosphere now. (I started blogging back in the dark ages when you had to use a guestbook if you wanted comments. My blog is a dinosaur.)
  5. How do you react to online quizzes? In my very earliest days of blogging, quiz results were my only source of fresh content. Most of the broken links that turn up in my link-checking plugin are from quiz results hosted at sites that no longer exist. Then again, I’m not at that original address, either, so I can’t be too surprised.

That last question made me think about plans for my blog’s upcoming tenth anniversary. I got a domain name for the ninth. Maybe for the tenth I should just go back and clean up my old posts: clear out broken links, give them titles (that was back in the days before titles!), and try not to die of embarrassment at how much I’ve changed since I was a teenager. On second thought, maybe not.

The Friday Five

7 Quick Takes Friday: Vol. 162

Okay, now I’m really confused, because this is one number lower than last week’s. Oh, well.

— 1 —

I gave blood yesterday evening. It was one of my most difficult donations yet; the phlebotomists had to stick me in both arms, and I was completely wiped after I got home. They were right: I did sleep well. I will be out of the country soon, so I’ll be ineligible for a whole year, which will hopefully give me time to figure out how to become a better donor. (They suggested something about hydrating.) In the meantime, I will just rock a “Don’t be chicken; give blood” t-shirt as often as possible. If I can do it, so can you!

— 2 —

Today was my first full day without having to go to work in any form in a solid month. It was so liberating. I did my hair, cleaned my apartment, and caught up on DVR’d Degrassi. What a good day.

— 3 —

On Sunday, I attended the Rite of Election with most of this year’s RCIA class. I didn’t go when my dad was converting (seven years ago, which is not a coincidence), so it was my first time ever. I stumbled over one of the words as I was introducing our catechumens, but I also learned the fun fact that Bishop Joe is left-handed. I’ve seen things he has signed, but I’ve never actually seen him signing anything, so that was neat. (He also came up in my Rosary for the Bishop today.)

— 4 —

I have a bad habit of reading or seeing something and thinking, “I should blog about that,” but never actually doing it. As I mentioned last week, I have been reading The Little Black Book every morning. This morning, the fun fact on the left-hand page was about First Fridays for Food Security. Since I already abstain from meat every Friday, I’d thought about doing that fast in December as an Advent sacrifice. (My first FOCUS Bible study leader gave up chocolate for Advent; I’ve never heard of such a thing before or since, but perhaps I’ll try it one of these years.) And then, like with my “to blog” Gmail label, I didn’t do it. According to the USDA tables (PDF), I would get $5.04 per day. Yikes. Maybe I should go for it anyway.

— 5 —

Remember Hey Girl Catholic Ryan Gosling? He’s ba-ack!

This girl's always crazy for a sharp-dressed man. Sigh.

— 6 —

And he has a friend: Hey Girl Vintage Ryan Gosling!

Amen to that. I need to get you together with Mr. Three-Piece Suit.

Yep; it’ll just be six takes this week. I’m still getting into the swing of things with this meme. I did much better with my Top Ten Tuesday this week, though.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Booking Through Thursday: A Different Kind of Romance

A while ago, I interviewed my readers for a change, and my final question was, “What question have I NOT asked at BTT that you’d love me to ask?” I got some great responses and will be picking out some of the questions from time to time to ask the rest of you. Like now.

Ted asks:

Have you ever fallen in love with a fictional character? Who and what about them did you love?

I have never fallen in love with a fictional character, but I have definitely seen qualities in a fictional character that I’d want in a man. For example, I’m not sure I’d say that Ron and Hermione were in love as early as Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but Ron’s attempt to curse Malfoy with a broken wand meant he belched slugs for her. As we used to say back when I sailed on the Good Ship (actually, I used the forums), when a man belches slugs for you, you know it’s love. That’s chivalry, and I fall for it every time.

I haven’t re-read A Walk to Remember in ages, but the movie is one of my favorites. I’m not advocating for teen marriage, but I love how Landon is willing to give up his (clearly worthless) friends if they don’t support his positive life changes. It’s not about Jamie; it’s about his becoming a better person. She inspires him, but he still keeps changing even after she’s gone. I find sincerity and commitment very attractive.

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