Monday, October 31, 2005

Are you a "real" book lover?

A while ago I was reading Sheldon Vanauken's autobiographical book A Severe Mercy. I can't describe the story more succinctly than the back cover: "This poignant memoir traces the idyllic marriage of Sheldon (Van) and Jean (Davy) Vanauken; their search for faith, which led to their friendship with C.S. Lewis, and the tragedy of untimely death and love lost."

Aside from the beautiful (and tragic) love story between Van and Davy, a number of remarks/observations caught my eye (or perhaps both of my eyes, or my mind via both of my eyes...). Here's one of them. Describing how the two of them would read books together, Vanauken made the following comment: "Rereading books, we said with immense agreement, was the mark of the real lover of books."

So I'm curious, do you reread books? If so, which ones?

Honestly, I don't have that many "rereads" myself, but here are some of my all time favorites:

- The Bible (not the whole thing, but particular sections, notably the Gospels)
- Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
- The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
- Confessions by St. Augustine

Books (or literature) I'd like to reread:

- Some of Shakespeare's works
- Tolkien's The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings
- Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment
- Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility (I think I didn't appreciate her enough the first time)

Lastly, I'm curious, what's everybody reading right now? Here are some of the books I've been reading (or read) of late:

- The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky
- Utopia by Thomas More
- Petrarch and other Renaissance writers
- Various Works by Plato (notably The Republic)
- Aristotle's Metaphysics
- Descartes
- Joseph Seifert, Back to 'Things in Themselves': A phenomenological foundation for classical realism

I must say, I absolutely love Petrarch, Pico, and the other Christian Humanists (i.e. the original humanists before secular humanism ever existed) of the Renaissance period. It's especially cool that Petrarch's famous "Assent of Mount Vosioux" took place on April 26th, my birthday (which means a lot, since I know of no major events, nor famous people being born or dying on that date).

I'm also growing more appreciative of Rene Descartes. He's not perfect, for sure, but he did have some valuable insights, and I think he's often misunderstood (by both modern and traditional philosophers). Maybe I'll say something more about him next time.

That's all then for this post of various sputterings. (I apologize, but my brain is fried and I'm pretty busy right now...)

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Medieval (Music) Festival

Okay, so I've been pretty poor at the updating weblogging business lately. I'm going to take Mike's challenge and try to get in the "weekly update" habit. Soooooo...

Two weekends ago our campus hosted a Medieval Festival and it was truly a delight.

The only downside was that there weren't as many actual reenactors as one would hope for. Because of this, I ended up flocking to the music stages, which encompassed a variety of more traditional music, some directly from the Medieval and Renaissance periods. The entertainment also included a family of Irish dancers! (will I some day put my own children through such tortue? Probably not, but you never know!)

All in all it was a beautiful day and a great time. Here are the highlights of my experience...

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THE HARP. Have you ever really listened to it? (not in an orchestra, but alone by itself.) Listening to these two girls was by far the biggest surprise of my day. I never realized how beautiful and peaceful harp music is! To be honest, the music took me to another world--it is very entrancing (or at least it was on that day). Talking to the two girls afterwards, I managed to get a list of the "top" harpists, so I plan on buying my first "harp" CD sometime soon. If you'd like to explore this new genre with me, let me know and I'll try to get you more information.

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SCYTHIAN. These were the guys I finished my day with at the festival. All the band members were trained in classical music and are extremely gifted, but rather than play in an orchestra, they've decided to have a band and play traditional folk music with their own "edge" in bars, pubs, and other venues. This about sums them up:

They are a charismatic group of friends whose music ranges from traditional folk to high energy Celtic, with strains of gypsy and Klezmer in between, and they are quickly becoming known for their intense, high-energy shows and dynamic crowd interaction.

Led by a pair of young raging fiddlers, Scythian brings a passion and energy that makes them unpredictable, spontaneous and contagiously festive. With a great respect and admiration for the traditional - the foundation of their music - Scythian is nevertheless not afraid to wink at convention in search of a little fun, lending them an appeal to young and old alike.

To be honest, they remind me a bit of Barrage, for those of you who know who that is. Our school newspaper said they're based in the DC/Maryland area, but that they've also played all over the world, once even for the president of Hungary!* I heard there was also a relatively recent MTV Real World where they went to a popular pub in the DC area and MTV requested Scythian to play during the taping of the episode, because they'd heard of their popularity. (Who would have thought, Celtic and folk music--with an "edge" of course--on MTV?!)

Anyways, 3 of the band members were also former Franciscan University students. Check out their music at the website. I think they're CDs are pretty good, but they're even better live, because they really get into the show with the crowd. You can also read more about them in this Washington Post article.

BUCA DI BEPPO. This one actually came in the evening after I'd left the festival, but I have to recommend this Italian restaurant if you can find one near you. The restaurant buildings in and of themselves are fascinating in how they're designed on the inside, but the food is great too. They also serve you your courses just like they do in Italy. I could easily see myself making this place my "once-a-month-eating-out-treat." Now if only I could find a good Indian restaurant...

That's all folks!
* Correction--Scythian has played for the President of Ukraine, NOT Hungary.

Goodbye to Blogback...

...and all of the old comments...unless I find a new comment system host that I can import them into.

Ideas anybody? Or should I just stick with Blogger's comment system?