Lenten Reflections from Carmelites

There is a convent of Carmelite sisters in Fairfield, PA that are posting weekly reflections for Lent on their YouTube channel. There are two so far (since we’re in the second week of Lent).

They’re nice to listen to, and I’m always looking for new material to cover for Lent (especially since a lot of times it feels as if I’m just doing the same thing year after year). I figured I’d share their reflections here in case others wanted to listen to them.

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A Dracula Adaptation That (Mostly) Follows the Book

I’ve enjoyed a lot of different adaptations of Dracula over the years, but they never seemed to quite follow the book. To a certain extent I can understand that–the book is written in a series of letters and diary entries, which means the book itself doesn’t have the typical narrative style. I’d more or less resigned myself to never seeing something that adheres closely to the book…until I learned about the 1977 BBC production starring Louis Jourdan.

It’s not a perfect adaption, mind you. Mina and Lucy are sisters in this version, and Arthur and Quincey have been merged into one character. The storyline has been abridged somewhat, but in spite of that, it still manages to incorporate all of the important elements from the book, elements which most other adaptations leave out or change entirely. It was nice to find something that actually tried to adhere to the story as it was laid out in the book.

Oh, and for bonus points–Van Helsing genuflects in front of the Eucharist!

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Ash Wednesday 2021: Here We Go Again

It feels a bit like deja vu marking off the beginning of Lent again when a good portion of the coronavirus restrictions first went into place around the start of Lent last year. I had expected things to be a lot different by this year, but, well, what are you going to do?

This felt like an appropriate way to start the season.

Also, if you’re still not sure what you want to do for Lent even though, y’know, it’s starting today, you can always check out this free Bible study from the St. Paul Center: https://stpaulcenter.com/studies-tools/journey-through-scripture/parousia-the-bible-and-the-mass/. They always have good studies.

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Valentine’s Day 2021

It’s that time of year again to remind everyone what love is really supposed to be about!

Love isn’t always easy or pretty. It’s the nitty-gritty that counts, your ability to stand by each other and work out your problems no matter what. It isn’t silly or capricious like shown below.

(Sorry. Couldn’t resist. It always makes me laugh.)

Seriously, though, love always requires work, but it’s always worth it in the end.

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The Hillbilly Thomists are Back!

The erstwhile Dominican bluegrass band has come out with a new album, “Living for the Other Side”. It’s every bit as good as their first album, so I highly recommend checking it out. Here’s a little taste of what you can expect.

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“The Return of the Shadow” is Bizarro World Middle-Earth

One of my Christmas presents this year was The Return of the Shadow, a collection of the early drafts of The Fellowship of the Ring. It shows how Tolkien slowly began to develop the sequel to The Hobbit until it became the story we all know and love, The Lord of the Rings. But these early drafts show that the story could have gone in some extremely unusual directions. Ready to have your minds blown?

  • Frodo’s name was originally…Bingo. No, really.
  • At one point, Bingo was going to be Bilbo’s son. Tolkien ended up abandoning a marriage plot for Bilbo and made Bingo a cousin (although the degrees of relation changed a bit before settling on what is eventually established in Fellowship).
  • Farmer Maggot has something of a violent streak at one point. At another, he is not a hobbit at all but is somehow related to Tom Bombadil.
  • At one point, Bree has no hobbits. At another, Bree’s entire population is hobbits.
  • Aragorn…is a hobbit. He is called Trotter and wears wooden shoes. He is eventually revealed to be Peregrin Boffin, a young cousin of Bilbo’s who was so inspired by Bilbo’s adventures that he ran off to have adventures of his own. This is by far the strangest development.
  • At one point, Treebeard is working for Sauron.
  • Saruman is nowhere to be found.
  • Neither is Arwen.
  • Legolas and Gimli are not part of the Fellowship (although Gimli keeps getting referenced at various intervals, so Tolkien was already thinking about adding him). The Fellowship consists of Gandalf, Frodo (who’s had a name change by now), Sam, Merry, Faramond, Trotter, and Boromir.
  • At one point, Gimli was Burin, and his father was Balin, not Gloin.
  • Gondor is the Land of Ond, and it has a king, not a steward.
  • Boromir is much more likeable and chill than he is in the finished story.

There’s a whole lot more material in the book, but those were some of the points that jumped out at me–especially Aragorn as a hobbit. And most of his dialogue is exactly the same; that’s the hysterical part! But I found out that there are similar draft collections for The Two Towers and The Return of the King, and I’m going to try to read them at some point. I’m curious to see what other story ideas were eventually discarded.

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Happy Birthday, Professor Tolkien!

January 3 is the birthday of the One Author to Rule Them All, J. R. R. Tolkien! To celebrate, I decided to pull out this recording of Tolkien reading the One Ring poem from The Fellowship of the Ring.

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Doctor Who Review: Revolution of the Daleks *Contains Spoilers*

And we are back with the first Doctor Who review of 2021, the New Year’s special “Revolution of the Daleks”! Spoilers are below, so just be aware.

Despite the title, the Daleks don’t do a whole lot of revolting in this episode. In fact, I’m not even sure what they’re supposed to be revolting against. It starts out with a flashback to the 2019 New Year’s special “Resolution” and the Reconnaissance Dalek. The Dalek itself is dead, but the notorious Jack Robertson from “Arachnids in the UK” decides to scavenge the debris. It isn’t long he gets Dalek-shaped robotic drones working, and the ambitious Jo Patterson, who has her eye on becoming Prime Minister, makes a deal with Robertson to begin rolling out the drones in England.

Footage of the Dalek drones leaks onto the internet, attracting the attention of Ryan, Yaz, and Graham. It’s been ten months since the Doctor disappeared, and while Yaz desperately searches for a way to find the Doctor, Ryan and Graham have more bleak outlooks. However, they all agree that the Doctor would want them to investigate the reappearance of the Daleks.

What about the Doctor? What’s been ten months for her companions has been twenty years for her, and it’s only thanks to Jack’s prison break that she manages to get out. And they’ve arrived just in time; the investigations into Robertson have hit a dead end. But it isn’t long before they discover that there are cloned Daleks specimens lurking in Japan–not of Robertson’s doing; the curious, clever Leo found the Reconnaissance Dalek’s organic remains and grew a clone. The clone then arranged for other clones to be produced that could take over the drone casings.

There are way too many Daleks for the Doctor to tackle on her own, so she does the next best thing–call on the original Daleks to come wipe out the cloned Daleks, knowing they will be outraged by the clones’ perceived impurities. And with the clones out of the way, it’s a simple task for the Doctor to trick the remaining Daleks into the spare TARDIS from the end of “The Timeless Children” and collapse it on itself, trapping the Daleks in the heart of the Void.

This is, of course, the episode where Graham and Ryan say goodbye, and I have to say that I’m surprised they both survived. I was honestly expecting someone to die a heroic death and the other to leave the TARDIS for a quieter life. But Ryan chooses to leave because he wants to help the Earth, and Graham goes with him because it wouldn’t be the same to travel the universe without his grandson. Yaz decides to stay because she isn’t ready to let go of the Doctor yet, and Jack is sticking around Earth and catching up with Gwen Cooper from his Torchwood days. At the end of the episode, they teased the introduction of a new companion, Dan, played by John Bishop, so we can assume he will be joining the Doctor and Yaz sometime during season 13.

This was a better episode than I had expected, but it still had some issues. There were a lot of times when the pacing just felt really slow, like there was too much dialogue and not enough action, and the Doctor seemed weirdly indifferent to Jack. It would seem like Jack was trying to reach out, but the Doctor was just like, “Hm, yeah, whatever.” It was so strange. But it was nice that Jack got more to do in this episode than he did in “Fugitive of the Judoon”.

Supposedly season 13 will air later this year, but that may change with some of the pandemic issues. We already know this season will be shorter because of the filming delays. But it should still be interesting to see what happens next. Allons-y!

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Welcome, 2021!

Here’s hoping our lives start to go back to normal this year. And here’s to hoping the Dune movie that’s been postponed to October will end up being really, really good. But whatever happens, by the grace of God, we will get through it!

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Farewell, 2020

It’s been the year that has felt more like a decade in and of itself, but we’ve finally reached the end. I think it’s safe to say that 2020 absolutely did not go the way anyone expected. And I think we’re all hoping that we’ll see some semblance of sanity return in 2021. But if nothing else, this year was an excellent reminder of how unpredictable life can truly be.

I truly do wish all of you the best for 2021–the world certainly needs it! But no matter what happens, I’ll still be here, blogging my way through it all.

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