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World News

As the US seems content to delve into every word Former FBI Director Comey made during his hearing yesterday in Washington DC. However there are a couple of interesting stories in the world that seem more important. First off over in the United Kingdom they held their Parliamentary elections which has set up a hung parliament. It looks like some type of coalition government is going to happen and perhaps we will see Theresa May step down or not. This is a more intriguing news item.

The other big story is that Japan has passed a one-off bill that will allow Emperor Akihito to abdicate. Last year he addressed the people of Japan saying that he was beginning to feel the constraints of his age which were making it hard for him to do his duties. Rumors have been that this might happen 31 December 2018 or 1 January 2019. This will be a huge event and hopefully CNN and every one of those news networks go to cover it if and when it happen as Naruhito become Emperor. Sure the last time this happened was almost 30 years ago and I was not as interested in Japan back then.

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Tony week/predictions

With the Tony Awards on this upcoming Sunday I was pleasantly surprised to see that Billboard is doing a bunch of Broadway articles this week. The most interesting one so far is on Tim Minchin, who did the music for Groundhog Day this year. previously he did the music for Matilda. It is unique as it look at the composition of one song and what inspired it. Now Minchin’s music in both of his musicals are pretty great. If you have some time and any interest in this topic take a look over on Billboard this week.

It’s a tougher year to pick  what will win the major awards since there isn’t a single monolith like Hamilton this season on Broadway which will sweep everything. Over in the world of plays it’s really a two horse race for Best Play with Oslo or A Doll House Part 2 likely to win. For Revival while it would be great for August Wilson’s Jitney to win but it might be Little Foxes. In Musicals there is a good shot for all the shows nominated to win Best musical, sure Dear Evan Hansen has the most “buzz” about it but Come From Away could win since it’s about 9/11, yet Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 is a completely different show, and Groundhog Day is a decent show as well. This is the same for all the writing awards as well. If I had to pick for Best Musical it would be between Come From Away and The Great Comet a show I’ve been a fan of the cast recording from their off-Broadway days. With music I hope that Tim Minchin finally wins but it will be close with Dave Malloy’s …Great Comet, I really hope that Pasek and Paul aren’t given it since they’ve become household names this year with their Oscar win.  As for revival of a musical it’s going to be Hello Dolly.

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Is the film and television industry out of ideas?

This seems like it is the growing trend now across film and television of the revivals, remakes and quels (pre- and post-) of all types. As MarketWatch reports that of the top 15 films from the 80s only three haven’t been revived in some way (Toostie, ET and Rain Man). Sure, we’ve seen some television shows make their way to the big screen with limited success and other the opposite way. However this trend seems to be continuing, look at Disney’s upcoming slate of films most of which is live action version of already animated films. Now live action version of animated things are the way things are going currently. We’ve heard of live action adaptations of AKIRA for ages now and nothing really has been done yet disturbing news has come out that Cowboy Bebop the much adored anime series is going to be getting a live action version. Much like Akira over the years there have been rumors of a Hollywood adaptation of some sorts be it a film or series but nothing has come for this as well. Sure adapting film or remaking films is a whole lot easier than coming up with new ideas since there is already a built in audience.

Now is the a good thing or a bad thing is something that can be put up for debate as sure we like it when people come back to stories and characters we know and put their own spin on it, look at Shakespeare and stage in general everything no two performances let alone productions are alike. Most recently Hollywood has made some horrible attempts to revive properties specifically in Baywatch and Ghostbusters. However there are others which have worked real well the MTS3K revival on Netflix feels like the old show and we’ve just missed a couple of seasons. While I would like new movies to come out it seems like everything Hollywood is working on is a part of a connected universe based on the success that Marvel has had.

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The Annunciation

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these decade posts so we begin going through them all again. We start with the Joyful Mysteries.

The first Joyful Mystery is The Annunciation, this is when the Angel of the Lord (Gabriel) came to Mary this is found in Luke 1:26-38. Gabriel came to Mary and Mary said Yes to become the Theotokos. This event also takes place in the Quran and according to Muslim tradition it took place during the month of Ramadan.  The fruit of the mystery is humility. According to the Catechism humility is the root of prayer, so it is fitting that we reflect on humility as we begin the Rosary.  It is one of the seven heavenly virtues the obverse of the seven deadly sins. Humility is something that we need more of in the world, too many people it seems are obsessed with themselves and forget about everyone else. Humans are social creatures and we should care more about others. I mean look at that TED talk from Pope Francis a couple of weeks ago in which humility played a big role. Let us all try to care more for other.

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Doctor Stranger (2016)

The latest Superhero to join Marvel’s fold is Dr. Stephen Strange. Marvel has dipped some toes in the mystical/magical with Vision and Scarlet Witch but here they dive right in. There are some Tony Stark vibes going on with Strange, a brash egotistical guy who wants everything for himself. Sure, this is the about the 14th film in the MCU and Robert Downey Jr. is nearing the end of his time as Iron Man so they are looking for  a new “star” to fill the role. Clearly Benedict Cumberbatch is a very likeable person and we’ve seen him in just about everything the past couple of year. Spoilers to follow.

The film begins with a monk stealing some pages from a book and then we are introduced to Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch), he is a brilliant neurosurgeon and his hands are his life. Unfortunately on the way to a speaking engagement he is talking on his phone and subsequently crashes his car and his hand go through the dashboard. It’s not looking nice until one day at therapy Strange hears about a paraplegic Jonathan Pangborn who went away and came back able to walk, he searches Pangborn out and finds out about Kamar-Taj. This lead Strange to go on a journey to find Kamar-Taj. He finds it and learn from the Ancient One (Tida Swindon) about the general idea of mystical things, Strange is taught by Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) how to harness these powers. The bad guy who stole the pages from the book at the beginning are trying to connect with the dark dimension to overthrow the Ancient One. Things happen and Strange learns how to be a sorcerer, but we all expected that to happen in the film. Other things happen as well but Dr. Strange will return in the new Thor movie this November and the next Avengers film next May.

I enjoyed this film more than the Guardians Vol. 2  but perhaps that’s just the cool action bits in this one provide a better story. You should probably see this one before the next Thor or at least before the big team up film coming next May.

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Spelling Bee

Yesterday, was the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. It was the 90th competition and for the first time in a while we had a single winner, although it wouldn’t have been a surprise if this year ended in a tie as well.  This year was won with in the 21st round of Championship words. This year I was watching the play along version on ESPN, where they provided four possible spellings and you could pick one as the correct spelling. It was a pretty fun way to watch the Bee. It also seems like every year I recognize more and more words, so watching for the past 20 or so year has paid off.  I just think ESPN has done a great thing for all these kids by making such a big deal about the bee. It would great if they did some other educational programming, like they could do like a college Quiz Bowl or like something akin to It’s Academic so there could be more praise for education rather than just sports. I would also like it if ESPN would go back to showing some weird things on the channels instead of the non-stop opinion programs.

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Is Rotten Tomatoes ruining the film industry?

Quartz has a brilliant article out about how the Film industry are blaming Rotten Tomatoes for killing bad films. Now I am positive that Rotten Tomatoes isn’t the only thing that is killing the movie industry, sure it may play a role but with the high cost of movie tickets and so many options available for people to watch/stream/binge perhaps Hollywood needs to start making better movies to begin with. Critics often pan movies that the average joes love. This is a valid point but even going to imdb to check out how others think the movie or metacritic and the reviews aren’t much better.  Look at the top films of the year it is loaded with sequels, remakes, and franchises all things that people are comfortable with. As the article points out ” Risk-averse Hollywood has been relying too heavily on existing intellectual properties from TV, film, comic books, and literature—and viewers are growing weary of it.” Worst of all often times it seems that nothing really happens in the film and the characters are the same at the beginning and the end.  Maybe Hollywood should start making fewer movie and spend more time on them to make them better. Look at what Netflix or HBO, AMC, FX, even USA have done as they are all producing shows that people really like and are talking about from House of Cards, Game of Thrones and Better Call Saul to Fargo and Mr. Robot most of these show seem worlds better than what Hollywood has been offering over he past decade or so. I make about two or three trips to the movie theaters a year and go to see what I want no matter what critics say.

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Zelda: Breath of the Wild

So it took about a month but I finally finished the game. It’s a brilliant game and it is very deep, as there is a lot of things to do in the game. My first playthrough of the game and I came across a little over half of the 120 shrines and sure I will be playing it again and I’m looking forward to the DLC that is coming this summer and winter.  It was a fun story and although I wasn’t such a big fan of some of the new aspects at first I grew to like them, like how weapons could break and the Blood Moon revived slain enemies. If you are a fan of Legend of Zelda games this is a must pick up however perhaps not yet since there really isn’t much else out on the Switch currently. Sure it’s on the Wii U and it you own that go ahead and buy it now for the Wii U, but if you are waiting to pick up a Switch soon perhaps wait until the summer.  Now, I’ve played all the main home console title games but Skyward Sword, however I have never heard good things about Skyward Sword so I really don’t want to play it. If this open world version of Zelda is what the games of the future are going to look like I think it will be a fun time. Now if Nintendo could confirm where and what timeline the game takes place in.

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Gloriosae Dominae and Bis Saeculari

“The Golden Bull” Gloriosae Dominae is an Apostolic Letter from Pope Benedict XIV way back in 1748. In Gloriosae Dominae, Benedict called Mary the Queen of Heaven and Earth and says that the sovereign King has in some way communicated to her his ruling power. It also honors the Sodality of Our Lady, this is like a confraternity sort of. the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary was formed in 1563 for school boys by a Jesuit at the Roman College. According to a Jesuit historian the young men from the college agreed to daily mass, weekly confession, monthly Communion, as well as to a half-hour of meditation each day and to some other pious exercises. They would also “serve the poor” and their patron was Mary. Later on Pope Sixtus V allowed non students to join in as well. Simply put it was a Marian society. Gloriosae Dominae is called the Golden Bull since Benedict used gold instead of the normal lead to seal the document in honor of Mary.

Bis Saeculari is an Apostolic Constitution from Pope Pius XII was issued for the 200th anniversary of “The Golden Bull” from Pope Benedict XIV. This was later quoted by Pius XII in Ad Caeli Reginam, which we will get to later. In Bis Saeculari, Pius praises the work of the Sodality and says that by propagating, spreading and defending Catholic doctrine they must be considered among the most powerful spiritual force in the world. Pius also calls for a revival of Marian congregations especially in the post war years. Many saints have been members of Marian congregations and we should follow their examples.

This is a nice way to end this Month of Mary

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Memorial/Decoration Day

ABC has a great article up about the meaning of Memorial Day, for many Americans it marks the beginning of the Summer with a cookout but that is not what the Day is intended to be. The Day began in earnest after the Civil War although there were local Decoration Days where people went and decorated soldiers’ graves with flowers. In 1882, the name what changed to Memorial Day it until 1968 it was on May 30th. In 1968 it moved to the last Monday in May. This has caused some issues for servicemen and women who believe that changing the date has undermined the very meaning of the day and caused it to be looked at by the general public lack of real observance of the day. This is a day to remember those who have died in service of our nation.

Last year we looked at Longfellow’s poem that remembered the day, this time around it Charles Ives. Ives was a modernist composer who I’ve never heard of before but in his four movement symphony A Symphony: New England Holidays the second movement is Decoration Day.