Twilight, part deux

I have mixed feelings about the sequels to Twilight. On the one hand, the writing has gotten better, there are less of the pages and pages of nothing but staring into each other’s eyes, and we’ve spent more time with characters I’m a lot more interested in than Edward and Bella; characters such as Carlisle and Alice. But each book is sort of formulaic with nothing much happening for the first 85% of the story and then a whirlwind of action for the last bit. This is both good and bad. I’ve learned that if I just endure the bulk of each book, there’s a reward coming. But then again, I do have to endure the bulk of the book.

On the down side, I’ve gotten to know three very annoying people, Edward, Jacob, and above all, Bella. I was practically screaming at her all through the third book. “Bella! You stupid idiot! Let the supernatural types go fight! Your constant whining and worrying about their safety is a real drag. You are very unpleasant to be around. Shut the hell up for God’s sake.” Honestly, the author has done a remarkably poor job of helping the reader to understand what anyone sees in her. And Jacob is a complete tool in the third book. Sheesh!

I’m about 40% of the way through the fourth book and the author may have changed things up a bit. Some of the interesting stuff has happened earlier than in the other books. It’s a departure but it has made me like this one a lot more. One section I really enjoyed is when Jacob broke from his pack to go do the right thing. I was so stunned and off balance that he was manning up, that when moments later, Seth joined him in running to warn the Cullens, I wanted to cry at the breakthrough these idiot characters were having. Way to pull your head out, Jacob!

I have hope for the conclusion of this series. The pacing could be much better but Breaking Dawn is so much better (so far) than the previous books, that it’s like a breath of fresh air. Ok, like breathing smoggy air after living near a factory, but it’s an improvement.

Full disclosure, I am overly harsh on the books. But after being told that I just HAVE to read them, I’m still trying to figure out why.

On motivation for posting

I’ve noticed that I don’t write much except to complain. That can’t be fun reading for you, but I’m guessing that it’s sort of therapeutic for me. When things are going well, I want to be fully engaged in the good times. But when something annoys me, I want to vent about it. Having no actual people who care to hear me rant about stuff, I channel that into writing. Even if I had friends that were willing to listen to me, I am reluctant to subject them to my tirades. I wish I had better friends, the sort that MADE me understand that I could spout off about stuff.

I’m doing something wrong.


So my friend, Alyssa, tells me I just HAVE TO READ TWILIGHT. Well, I’m game so I tell her to lend me the book. Trouble is, she doesn’t have the book. She watched the movie then read the three sequels. Alright. So I obtain the audiobook and put it on my ipod to listen to it. It’s about a 14 hour book so it’s going to take a while as I don’t have much time for just sitting and listening. I think the story is ok but the author repeats herself far too much. I swear if I had to hear much more about the color of Edward’s eyes or how frequently his mood changed or his granite like skin, I would have had to quit the book in frustration. And by the way, why does this 100 year old vampire think and act like an adolescent? Ridiculous. The book really picked up some when the second group of vampires showed up and I devoted most of Sunday afternoon to just listening so I could finish the book.

After I finished listening, I decided to watch the movie. Big mistake! The movie made the book seem like a masterpiece work of art. I will put aside the fact that the story was very different because of how truncated it was (I mean rewrites, not just an abridgement). But this little town of 3100 people in the Pacific Northwest has to be the most ethnically diverse town in the country! Every demographic was represented. There was the token this and the token that. And because the storyline was so chopped up, the pace at which things happened made no sense at all. And one more thing I’d like to pick on; Carlisle was so chalky white that any person he ever came into contact with would take one look at him and think, “This guy’s a vampire.” Really it was unnecessarily pasty. In an effort to make it obvious to the audience, it only makes me think how unrealistic it is. Sure, vampires and such may be unrealistic to begin with. But I can accept the premise that vampires exist. What I can’t accept is that in this world, people are blind idiots who don’t blink twice at a guy who’s whiter than any albino.

So I’d say the book was ok but the movie was pathetic. I hope the sequels are better.

Bad boys, whatcha gonna do?

On Sunday morning, I awoke to discover that my home had been burglarized while I was asleep. The perps came in through a kitchen window that they forced open. They took the mobile phone from next to my bed and the ipod from my bedroom. They also took three flash drives, my Playstation 2 and game controller, and about $80 from my wallet. My viola is also missing but I haven’t seen it in some time so who knows. My car keys were on a table inside the front door and with them, the thieves got into my car and took my camera bag with all the equipment therein and the ipod fm transmitter. Other stuff may be missing but it may take time to realize it.

I reported the crime to the police, the neighborhood security patrol, and to a few neighbors.

Monday night at around 1:15, I woke up when I heard shouting outside my home. It was Modesto PD in the process of arresting three teens who had been in the middle of breaking into my house. Within a few moments, several police cars arrived and the officers spent the next hour or so questioning the perps and collecting evidence. It turns out that the neighbor across the street has noticed these dirtbags prowling around my house and called the police. Many thanks to him!

I can only assume (and hope) that this was the same group of knuckleheads that broke in a couple of days before. If so, I may have some slim hope of recovering some of my stuff. I’m hoping for the return of my camera and with any luck, my viola as these were the most expensive items.

Music at St. Stanislaus

The Dedication Mass went well however my attempt to record it did not. I’m told that the video is still in production.

Since then, we also had to plan for Holy Week and the Triduum. It was hectic but I think that Holy Thursday went exceptionally well. Good Friday was meh, and the Easter Vigil went well, but again, Thursday was really good. Several musicians from the Spanish choirs as well as several people that were new to music ministry at the parish sang with the choir for one or both days. It was the first truly bilingual Triduum that we’d done at St. Stanislaus.

For weeks prior to Easter, I’d been saying that I couldn’t wait for the 13th and be done with the preparation for Holy Week, etc. But come the 13th, I was already trying to look ahead and plan for the next big thing(s) for music at the parish. I identified four specific things that I want to move forward with.
• First, we need to be looking for more opportunities to bring everyone together to do (bilingual) music. Perhaps Pentecost will be the next logical opportunity.
• Second, I want to try to restart the local chapter of NPM (National Pastoral Musicians). Maybe instead of trying to organize this on a diocesan level, we can work on a greater Modesto area gathering. Anyway, I’ve asked Beth Holtan, Music Director for Our Lady of Fatima to consider taking a lead on such a project.
• Third, I want to start a hand bell choir at St. Stanislaus. I believe that we can make a start at this with 2 octaves of bells and 6 ringers to play them. I’ve asked Jeff Bonilla, my friend who teaches music at Central Catholic to consider directing such a group. Or even if he’s not willing to do that, maybe we could borrow the school’s bells. I think a hand bell choir is doable and I’m setting Christmas 2009 as the target date for the debut of this group.
• Fourth, I have long lamented that there are all these kids that study instruments in jr. high and high school (and college) and never do anything with that experience after graduation. Parallel to that, we have all these kids in the parish who play clarinet, or baritone, or tenor sax, or whatever and we do very little if anything to allow them to put that gift to work for the church. I’d like to try to put together an orchestra of these kids (and adults who still want to play) that could play a couple or three times per year (Christmas, Easter, mid-summer maybe). In addition, if there were a few parishes doing the same sort of thing, we could even get together for combined orchestras now and again. Now, I say orchestra, but it would probably be more like a concert band, and not a full one at that. I imagine that we would do stuff like four-part choral arrangements of hymns arranged for A, B, C, & D parts so that any instrument could play one of the four parts.

Any suggestions about how to approach any of these ideas?

Dedication update

So here’s the current sitrep for the Dedication Mass. The Dedication Committee has selected a Music Director for the Mass. It’s Mike Joyce who used to be the director at the cathedral in Stockton. He’s a nice guy; I’ve sung with him before. He now works in the Oakland Diocese. Anyway, several of the parish musicians met with him last Saturday to talk about plans for the music. I was really impressed with the meeting. Mike made it clear that this was our celebration; that we knew our people (those who might be considered for participation) and what songs parishioners knew. So we settled on the songs for the Mass. Here is the list:
Gathering: Gather Us In, Somos El Cuerpo de Cristo, Que Allegria – PS 122 (FyC – #262)
Sprinkling: Agua de Vida/Water of Life – FyC #262 (bilingual)
Gloria: Mass of Creation
Psalm: Psalm 18/19 – FyC #177 (bilingual)
Gospel Acc: Celtic Alleluia (verse to be determined)
Litany of the Saints: Becker setting
Deposition of Relics: IF NEEDED – “Saints of God” – Bob Hurd #450 in acc. Book.
Anointing of the Altar and the Walls of the Church:
“How Lovely Is Your Dwelling Place” – #84 in Acc. Edition
Incensation of the Altar and the Church:
Psalm 138 – David Haas – Gather Comp #84 – 1st Refrain
Lighting of the Altar and the Church:
Psalm 26/27 – The Lord Is My Light – FyC #190 (bilingual)
Presentation of the Gifts:
(Combined Spanish Groups to Present Gift Presentation Selection)
Eucharistic Acclamations:
Misa del Pueblo Inmigrante – Acclamation “C” “Por Tu Cruz”
Litany during the Breaking of the Bread:
Communion: Amen, El Cuerpo de Cristo, Ven Al Banquette, Pescador de Hombres
Closing Song: Holy God, We Praise Thy Name – Official Closing, Santa Maria del Camino (Music Ministry Only, Go, Make A Diff’rence – (Music Ministry Only)

We also made some choices/recommendations about musicians. Unfortunately, the decision has been made that only so many people can be involved with doing music that day, so we had to make a list of people to ask to be a part of the group. There are 6 groups/choirs for the Spanish Masses and 3 for the English Masses. This adds up to about 75 people. We were told to keep it to 30 singers + instruments.
So that part of the process is ongoing. People are being asked if they’d like to participate, steadily we are getting the list finalized. It needs to be settled on pretty soon because the Dedication is in 4 weeks!

In other Mass news, the choir has decided to take the month of January off. What incredibly poor timing! So in addition to the 3 Masses I usually do on the weekends, I’ve stepped in to do the 10:00 AM this month. And then, last week, John who plays at the 7 AM Mass called on Saturday to let me know that he was ill. So I ended up doing that Mass too for a total of 5 Masses last weekend. Yikes! More than ever I cannot wait until the new Mass schedule is in effect. I will let you know what that will be when I find out myself.


You will recall that I posted not too long ago about my friend, Alyssa. Alyssa had moved away and the connection that I had with her was severed. Over the past 18 months, there have been a few emails and text messages, and she has called me once. But these are not enough to sustain or grow a friendship. I have no doubt that she remained fond of me in the same way that I still have great affection for her. But our lives were now on different tracks.

Well, yesterday I found out via the Board of Trustees Agenda that she would be returning to the college as a short term contract employee. What great news! I sent her a text message letting her know that I had learned of this. Right away she called to shed some additional light on the situation. It’s only temporary but while she is back working for the college, she will be living back in Modesto. It’s tough managing expectations, but I am giving it a go. I would love to resume the same relationship we had, but what might the past year and a half have done to it? And is it really the best thing to go back? It’s probably better to be thinking of how to move forward. In any case, I shall try to make the most of the situation. I’ve missed my friend.

Sometimes you get the best light…

I had something very nice happen to me recently. As you know, I did not get the job in the MJC Music Department that I’d applied for last year. I have not been particularly shy about expressing my disappointment to my friends. Danny, who plays viola with me at church, related the following to me last Friday night. Anne, who directs the orchestra and was on the hiring committee, has been doing her regular chore of beating the bushes to get people to come play in the orchestra. She contacted Danny to come play viola as he has done many semesters before. Danny told her no and said the reason was that I hadn’t been given the job. What a flattering show of support for me. I do not believe I have ever had anyone stand up for me so definitely in my life. As I told another friend the other day, it’s like he burned a bridge in standing up for me. I would never have asked him to do that but it feels great that he was convicted enough to do it on his own.