Archive for April 2009

Speaking of Shakespeare (Literally)

April 24, 2009

Zounds! From that worthy curate, Father Z., we have received tidings that today is Talk Like Shakespeare Day. Come thou, sirrah! Be not a prating coxcomb! Hie thee hence, and visit the site! Stay thee not, thou whoreson zed, thou unnecessary letter! The event is sponsored by men and women, all merely players, known as the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, no doubt to praise the work of the Immortal Bard, not to bury him.

Yea, verily what manner of fortune is this? No more than two days hence, we have posted this treatment most comical of Richard III, that there is a day in honor of the Sweet Swan of Avon? And I almost missed it? O Great Jove! It makes me mad to think on’t!

[Exeunt omnes]

You’ve never seen Shakespeare Like This (Thank Goodness!)

April 21, 2009

Under Mark Shea’s pernicious influence, I’ve been fooling around with, the site that allows you to make movies (after a fashion) by simply typing in a script. Users type in a script and choose a setting, camera angles, background music, preset digitally created characters, and synthesized voices to act out the scene. Here, for example, is my favorite Shakespearian soliloquy from Richard III, Act V, Scene iii. The results are (ahem) slightly unconventional:

I expect to be haunted by Shakespeare’s ghost for the rest of my life now.

The Next Generation of Heroes . . .

April 14, 2009

is coming.

Jeff Hebert, the creator of HeroMachine v. 2.5, one of the coolest websites and software packages ever, has been hard at work on the next major upgrade to HeroMachine since early in January. HeroMachine v. 3.0 will have a huge number of new features, including a larger color palette, greatly expanded layering capabilities, new accessories for characters, and the ability to mark characters and equipment with patterns, including camouflage, tartan, and metallic. But that’s not all. With version 3.0, aspiring artists and creators of superheroes will have the opportunity to select individual body parts for the characters, and have the ability to move, scale, and rotate those body parts and accessories, in effect, customizing the look of each character.

Jeff has set up an “alpha” test version of HM 3 (even earlier in the development process than a beta version) and is actively seeking comments, suggestions for improvement, feedback, and bug reports from users. He’s been gradually adding and enabling features and components and hopes to have the site completed by some time this summer. Here’s a sample character that I created on the new site, Red Hawk:

This looks like it will be really cool when it gets all done. If you like comic books or superheroes or have dreamed of creating your own characters, head on over. In the immortal words of Mark Shea, “Check thou it out.”

Another Look at Susan Boyle

April 14, 2009

Sorry for the repetition, but I just can’t get enough of this. What I love about this woman, aside from her obvious vocal talent, is her saucy, sassy attitude and her determination to be absolutely herself, no matter what. The little victory dance she does at the end is just priceless. She knows she doesn’t have the fashion model good looks, but she knows she has the musical ability and the drive to see how far it can take her. Would that we all had such courage.


Hat tip to: Patrick Archbold of Creative Minority Report for the clip.

Wow! Again!

April 14, 2009

From the same people who brought you Paul Potts, here comes Susan Boyle, a frumpy-looking, 47 year-old Scottish woman with a great sense of humor, great talent, and great self-confidence. She’s living proof of that old saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

Hat tip to Father Dwight Longenecker of Standing on My Head.


April 12, 2009

Have a happy and blessed Easter everyone! I’ve just returned from the Easter vigil at my parish, where our cantor chants the magnificent Easter Proclamation (called the Exsultet, after its first Latin word meaning “Rejoice!”) Here’s a link to a page with the Latin text and an English translation. And here’s some video of the Exsultet chanted in Latin by the monks of Birmingham Oratory in Birmingham, England:

For those of you who are Latin-impaired (a group that includes me, but I’m determined to work on that), here’s another video of the Exsultet with the text in English:

He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

An Open Letter to the President

April 7, 2009
April 7, 2009

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As a Catholic, as an American, a person with a disability, and as a human being, I must register my profound and unflinching opposition to the egregiously misnamed “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA) which has been proposed in Congress and which would in effect make the principle of abortion on demand at any time for any reason the law of the land in the United States. You are on record assuring an audience of Planned Parenthood members and supporters that FOCA would be one of the first pieces of legislation you would sign and that you “will not yield” in your support of this legislation. As I understand it, the legislation as it stands would:

  • eliminate any restrictions on abortion including restrictions on late-term abortions, waiting periods before abortions, and parental notification and consent provisions when minor children request abortions—even when polls have consistently shown that the majority of voters support these restrictions as reasonable;
  • prevent states or municipalities from passing any laws or ordinances prohibiting or restricting access to abortion within their borders, despite the will of their citizens clearly and legally expressed through such means as votes by state legislatures, ballot initiatives, or referendums;
  • and prohibit doctors and hospitals that object to abortion on moral or religious grounds from refusing to perform abortions without risking the loss of government funds or medical licenses.

Mr. President, in your inaugural address, you quoted the father of our country, George Washington, as he attempted to rally the Continental Army during the darkest days of the American Revolution. May I remind you, sir, that at the very beginning of that titanic struggle, the founders of our nation declared:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Mr. President, I submit it is no accident that the founders enumerated the first unalienable right as the right to life. The right to life is the fundamental human right. Without that, all other human rights are meaningless. The founders were also wise enough to see that the right to life is not granted by the power of the state, nor the authority of the government, but by the will of Almighty God. If a right granted by God, it ought not be taken away by human beings without the most profound consideration and reflection and except in the very gravest of circumstances. For this reason, the Catholic Church has been most forthright in its opposition to both capital punishment and to unjust or unnecessary war when peaceful means exist to resolve disputes between nations. Surely, Mr. President, you would agree with Catholic teaching in these latter cases. I earnestly entreat you to consider making your position more amenable to Catholic teaching on the issue of abortion.

Mr. President, the provisions now proposed, whether in FOCA as a whole or enacted piecemeal through other legislation, will trample on the fundamental right to life for millions of unborn Americans, the most innocent, vulnerable, and defenseless among us, children in the womb. Some may argue that a fetus in the womb is not, in any biological, legal, or moral sense a person with rights that must be respected under law. But surely you sir, as an African-American, know that similar arguments were once used to deny African-Americans their fundamental rights of life and liberty? Let us not go back to such dark days and such specious reasoning. If a fetus in the womb is denied its fundamental rights to life and liberty, it will never even have the opportunity to develop into a being that would be universally recognized as a human person. Thus, a unique and irreplaceable human life would be lost. Mr. President, if we have the power to prevent such a tragedy, let us do so. I implore you to reconsider your support for this legislation.

Not only will this legislation trample on the rights to life and liberty of the unborn themselves; it will trample on the rights of liberty of conscience, both for institutions such as hospitals supported by religious organizations and for individual doctors, nurses, and other health care providers who refuse to provide, participate in, or enable abortions for moral or religious reasons. Just as the right to life is the first unalienable and divinely granted human right, the right to practice one’s religion in accord with the dictates of one’s conscience is among the very first liberties guaranteed Americans by the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution.

Finally, not only would this legislation run roughshod over fundamental human rights of life and liberty, but it would also make a mockery of American principles of federalism and representative government. If the will of the people in a specific locality regarding something so fundamental as the protection of human life can always and everywhere be overridden by a federal mandate, than we as a nation have gone a very long way towards surrendering our essential liberties.

In short, Mr. President, I believe this legislation and its provisions, whether enacted in whole or in part, constitute nothing less than a direct and deliberate assault on fundamental human rights to life, liberty of conscience, and representative government, and I will do everything in my power to oppose them. In my view, FOCA would be profoundly destructive of the ends of good government enumerated by the founders, and I fully intend to utilize my rights as an American to lawfully alter or abolish the government that pursues such destructive and evil policies. Destroying the lives of the innocent can never be justified as health care, and ignoring the conscience and will of the people can never be defended as good public policy.


Neil R. Leslie