Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Rolling Stone Review Code Words

Wonder how they'd write about me - honest yearning Dylanesque genius, apparently. But you'll have to read the list to decode...
Read this first:
Catholic social teaching divides Michigan women - 10/27/02

I'll be posting on life issues when I get a minute.

Rest In Peace, Ray Ferguson

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Link AND Quote of the Day

Robert Spencer, in the Diocese Report, says "however important it is to be open-minded, ... this open-mindedness must not be equated with a thoroughgoing relativism that would utterly destroy one's capacity to make moral judgments"

Tough to figure where to draw the line, but this concept MUST remain in view.

Monday, October 28, 2002

St. Malachy's Post Mortem

It was great. I still disapprove, sorta, but went very well, response was excellent. Very nice to hear how my new Psalm 18 setting (written in '96, but rearranged this year) came out.

Wound up playing the Duncan mass - excellent! DM played on the 18-rank Moeller, I played on the Clavinova (123 - my favorite model!), assembly sang it well, though our folks were left in the dust on this. Still, highly recommended. Available from the Archdiocese of Detroit, I believe, though if I were a publisher, I'd pick it up!

Very nice comments afterwards, from both our folks and theirs. I'm really glad I went along with this!

Friday, October 25, 2002

Even more true now that we all have blogs:

Here's what all our esteem building has bought us. Elitism for the masses.

My Dad (gone) and his cousin (still around) were both avid Shriners. They perpetually bemoaned the difficulty of getting younger generations (like moi) to join up. I always thought we skipped it 'cos we were too busy, or too cool, but THIS might be the true reason. We're already actualized, somehow or another. Maybe actualization was the real point of joining the Loyal Order of Water Buffalo.


Thursday, October 24, 2002

Do YOU have a blogsticker?

Here's mine (only the blog's too young, and my hits are probably even lower, but you get the drift):

Here's where to get yours:
Blog Stickers
Back in the Saddle, One More Time

Our youth group is going "on the road" this weekend, and helping with a mass down at St. Malachy's in Sterling Heights, one of the parishes they went to Steubenville with. It's going to be a hey-look-what-we-did-this-summer mass, where we teach the assembly the S'ville music, the kids do a wordless skit during the homily (with Creed's "My Sacrifice" blaring in the background - not for the timid!). We're just helping - the ratio of St. Malachy's kids to ours will be about 4-1 - but apparently the kids and leaders from both churches thought that I was the guy to carry the ball on this. I'm sort of honored, but conflicted - under my directorship, I refused to do all-Steubenville masses, as they tended to leave the rest of the assembly in the dust. But, since everyone from both churches and both sets of ministries (youth and music) seems to be on the same page, I discreetly tucked away my terrorist card and went along.

Here's what we're doing:

In: Days of Elijah (Mark)
Ps: 18, I Love You, Lord (Ricketts)
GA: Agnus Dei (Smith, arr. Ricketts)
Pr: Let It Rain (Smith) / Awesome God (Mullins)
EA: Mass of the Blessed Sacrament (Duncan) OR Creation (Haugen)
AD: Mass of the Blessed Sacrament (Duncan)
C1: You Are My World (Sampson)
C2: You Are My All In All (Jernigan)
Ex: Trading My Sorrows (Evans)

I'm also excited they wanted to use my Psalm 18 - I'd recently reworked it from its former existence as a gospel-style rave-up to a more introspective, praise-n-worship ready piece. I did this for my band, but when I saw what Sunday the mass was, I asked if we could try this - they really liked it, I think.

We asked for permission to use Creation, but we'll do the Duncan mass if we have to - timing is tricky, sort of a jaunty French Renaissance style piece, with irregular measures all over. The composition is wonderful, but it sounds like it might be a disaster waiting to happen, at my hands. At least it's tonal...
Before Roe v. Wade, There Was:


Got a great letter from THE AMERICANIST summarizing the 1965 Griswold decision. He says that you can't really understand Roe v. Wade without understanding Griswold.

First, a caveat from TA: I'm not a lawyer, never practice law, have no knowledge of the law, fear lawyers, love lawyers, think lawyers ought to be exempt from gravity, and will happily agree that they are right and I am wrong whenever challenged. (uh-huh)

-------------------------------------------begin quote-------------------------------------------
Griswold is a 1965 Supreme Court decision that is the immediate important precedent for Roe v Wade. A Connecticut law forbid contraception -- 'any drug, medicinal article, or instrument' -- and extended that to include anybody who ADVISED folks about contraception. Griswold himself was the Planned Parenthood director in Connecticut, advising married people how to hav sex without pregnancy, and off they went. The Supremes threw out the Connecticut statute, and American law on sexual matters has been different ever since.

Whatever ya think of him, Justice William O. Douglas's majority opinion is a true intellectual feat. I think of it sorta like I think of calculus or trigonometry -- I know it exists, and it must work (Griswold has been Constitutional law for nearly forty years), but I have no real understanding HOW. Conservative legal scholars (and of course pro-lifers, including the Church) scoff at Griswold as well as Roe -- but almost NOBODY actually challenges Griswold, including the Church. Which piques my interest -- it's like walking the guy up first, IN ORDER to pitch to Barry Bonds.

Basically, speaking for the majority, Douglas legalized contraceptives by finding "that specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance." (A "penumbra" is the focus within a shadow, typically the place on the earth where a total eclipse occurs; "emanations" refers to the way scent moves out from a flower.) From that, he derived an explicit rationale for a CONSTITUTIONAL right to privacy... "lying within the zone of privacy created by several fundamental constitutional guarantees."

Douglas argued that the Fourth and Fifth amendments (against unreasonable searches and self-incrimination) provide these zones of privacy, noting an 1886 case which protected "the sanctity of a man's home and the privacies of life." Then he went on to argue: "Would we allow the police to search the sacred precincts of marital bedrooms for telltale signs of the use of contraceptives? The very idea is repulsive to the notions of privacy surrounding the marriage relationship. We deal with a right of privacy older than the [Bill of Rights]. Marriage is a coming togther for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred... and association for as noble a purpose as any involved in our prior decisions."

Thus defending marriage itself as well as the sanctity of marital privacy, the Court legalized contraceptives in 1965. Some years later, Roe built on that right to privacy, establishing the right to an abortion.

I bring all this up on Amy's site, because I keep asking folks for a fact situation that could raise a legal principle -- ANY legal principle -- to overturn Roe without also eroding, if not erasing, Griswold. I don't think there IS any, as a matter of Constitutional law. Man, I get flamed for it.

Likewise, I've spent a lot of time (and taken enormous flack) regarding Humanae Vitae and ITS precedents, going back all the way to Augustine, which (not to put too fine a point on it) are profoundly misogynist, anti-erotic, and authoritarian, based on what I consider a more or less obvious inaccuracy: the notion that the unitive and procreative functions can NOT be morally separate. I think that happens all the time (and I have much trouble saying so in a genteel manner; use your imagination). LOL -- a very private matter.

But it is relevant, because if ya can't overturn Roe without eroding Griswold, the more widely you consider Catholic teaching on sexuality, the shakier it gets.

Anyhow, more than ya wanted to know, I'm sure. But -- now you do.
-------------------------------------------end quote-------------------------------------------

Wednesday, October 23, 2002


Heads have been rolling here at work lately, and a word that keeps coming up is "loyalty", with specific reference to the lack thereof.

It's a complicated situation here - a government project where everyone (in our shop anyhow, about 50 of us) is a contractor. We work for three different sets of companies, grouped by contract. There's a staff supplementation contract, a quality assurance contract, and a certification contract. The certification guys were given control of the project about 2 years ago.

I've been here for 5+ years, longer than anyone except a couple of programmers (we're a testing shop) who got rolled out of their shop and into ours. The company with the QA contract ran the shop prior to the certification guys coming on, and prior to them (about 4 1/2 years back) everyone was on the same contract, with a state manager who gave us carte blanche to test as we saw fit.

This is NOT a gripe about the way the contracts went. The QA vendor brought in standards where we had none, and the certification vendor really raised the bar, and put some very good practices into place.

It IS a gripe about the manager. Young, brilliant, aggressive, egotistical - he was the perfect guy to whip the org into shape. But now that he's made that happen, he's leaving a trail of bodies - anyone who's ever p'd him off. And he keeps talking about loyalty.

When he came in, he supplanted the manager from the QA vendor, and kept her on in a team lead role.

Here is a list of people, organizations, and entities to whom I might be asked to show loyalty:
1 - The current manager (personally)
2 - The position of manager (no matter who occupies it)
3 - The former manager (which would make sense if #1 were a correct answer - if the loyalty were personal, it would survive the demotion)
4 - The project
5 - My company
6 - My company's account manager
7 - My employees
8 - My friends on the project
9 - Myself
10 - My family
11 - Truth, justice, and the American way
12 - God

Given the latest flap, where another team lead got raked over the coals for failing to tell him that a friend/ team member was leaving, he's looking for some kind of wild-pack-o-dogs style loyalty, where the allegiance is to the food chain. "I'm the boss now, everyone must do everything I say". Pretty much anyone who's ever dared disagree with him has felt his wrath, moi included. Moi especialement!

So some of us have done some soul-searching, and decided that our loyalty is pretty much where it needs to be - Our families, God, Truth, and OUR company. To the extent that the other entities (project, manager, etc.) share our company's interest, they'll get what they want. Otherwise, probably not.

The castouts have, so far, landed on their feet. I think I'm the next target (not sure...), we'll see if I fare as well.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

It's our 24th anniversary today - this one gets a little bit, um, descriptive, but it's from the heart. And there aren't enough songs out there about married love (though OUR song is Wynonna's She Is His Only Need, fat chance this'll replace THAT one).

Anyhow, skip it if this kind of thing's not your cuppatea. Otherwise...

Beautiful Still

1) Her warm wide smile, left lines where there were none,
But still gets me undone, like watching the sun or the wind.
And she won't sing for me, but she sings for her babies,
Sings of Christmas, and fairies, of cherries, and sin.

R%. And she is beautiful still
She unlocks my secret places,
Makes me cross and cry and crazy,
Then heals me with her graces.
She is beautiful,
She raises up my valleys,
She levels my hills.
She is beautiful still.
She is beautiful.

2) Her breasts, soft like peaches, with cotton candy gumdrop nipples,
Jump at the touch of my finger, the wet of my tongue.
Her alabaster belly, stretched by my children,
And the treasure it neighbors, they are calling me down.

And she is beautiful still
She unlocks my secret places,
Makes me whole and hot and hazy,
Then heals me with her graces.
She is beautiful,
She raises up my valleys,
She levels my hills.
She is beautiful still.
She is beautiful.

3) Her emerald eyes sparkle, and flash, and brim over
With tears for her children, her mother, tears for her losses,
Her back, wracked by accidents, still lovely and freckled,
She smiles through the wreckage, no matter the cost.

And she is beautiful still
She unlocks my secret places,
Makes me warm and weird and weary,
Then heals me with her graces.
She is beautiful,
She raises up my valleys,
She levels my hills.
She is beautiful still.
She is beautiful.

4) And when we have been there for twoscore and ten years
Her side by my side, through lean years and feast years, and more,
Our time-ravaged bodies will still stand together,
Through whatever, whenever, we'll weather every storm.

And she'll be beautiful still
Unlock my secret places,
Make me fear and fierce and foolish,
Then heal me with her graces.
She will be beautiful,
She will raise up my valleys,
She'll level my hills.
She will be beautiful still.
She'll be beautiful.

copyright Jay Ricketts, 2002. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 21, 2002

Trudeau Takes on...


Two situations that are scaring the heck out of me...

...and are making me doubt my faith in humanity, combine for some pretty funny stuff here: Saddam Invited To Tour Virginia Gas Stations. This is how we conquer our fears - we find a way to laugh at them.

Ha! I laugh at you!

I feel better already.

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Thanks to all who sent condolences and prayers. I pray we see our grandbabies in Heaven.

Here is an excellent piece from the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan on the "new improved" Rosary. I think I'm beginning to see the point...

Friday, October 18, 2002

Well, the Vatican has spoken. THIS is pretty much what I expected.

When the Bishops proposed the new tough rules for priests and sexually predatory practices, I was reasonably certain they had done so expecting the Vatican to prevent them from implementing them. It's an old political game, they're not fools. I'm disappointed, but not surprised.
We got a call from Andy (our 18 y/o son) last night - his wife of four months, Sarah, miscarried twins. She's okay physically, but they're heartbroken. So are we.

Please pray for Andy and Sarah and their lost babies.

Followup: a friend sent me this...

Prayer for a Miscarried Child

Praise God for His gentle Love,
beyond our understanding;
For His Love that conceived you, a perfect child
beautiful, unique and whole,
For His Love that longed to share with you
the wonders of creation,
For His Love that waited-
for just the right time;
for the just the right parents,
for you.

But something happened
before you were born,
The sin in this world
attacked your small life-
Weakening, dimming
your bright little spark.

God had to decide
on the more loving course:
To heal you in this life;
and to let you be born;
Or to call you to Himself-
to hold you in His arms,
and to heal you with a kiss.

It's hard for us to understand
why God healed you the way He did.
Often we wish you were here;
that you didn't die so young.
So please ask Jesus to help us
to see you through His eyes:
Perfect, free and happy
playing by Jesus' side.

Written by Carolyn Harney and printed in "Healing the Greatest Hurt" by
Matthew Linn, Dennis Linn and
Sheila Fabricant

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Jennifer on Life

Our gal Jen has said that she believes that life begins at conception, but that it is a belief based on her religion, and she won't impose her beliefs on others.

Puh-leaze. If she TRULY believed these were human lives being slaughtered, could she really stand by and let it keep happening when she had the power to help stop it? If she could, that's even scarier, because it means she'll let Americans kill 1.2 million babies just so that she doesn't impose her beliefs on someone else. Or lose he party's backing. Her position paper at the link above doesn't mention abortion or choice, but does mention "family planning" a couple of times. It was hard enough watching Bonior keep silent on this issue, but hearing JG waffle on this is 100 times worse.

What's far more likely is that she's paying lip service to the RC line, and if she believes it at all, only believes it in some symbolic sense. It's a life, but only in a theological sense, and not in a flesh-and-blood sense? Disingenuous, at least.

Someone (more articulate than me, I hope) needs to seriously call her down on this. What do you believe, Jennifer? If these are human lives, why do you support laws that let them be killed? If they're not (in your eyes), why do you say they are? It's not a gray area, there's not one answer for religion and a different answer for the "real world". Choose one answer, very carefully, and stick to it. And we will pray for you, and for the babies, and their mothers.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

S-C-A-R-Y Deja Vu Quote of the Day

"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

-- Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials

Monday, October 14, 2002

Speaking of recordings

Check out Bill Grabbe and the St. Philip's Choir upcoming CD, Fly By Light. Highly Recommended!

Bill's one of a small group of parish musicians who have actually used my pieces (in his case, a pop/gospel resetting of St. Theodulph's "All Glory, Laud, and Honor", which also borrows from a Leon Roberts mass). Don't hold that against him [g], he does some excellent writing on his own. Lo-fi samples of the CD are available at the link above. Let me know what you think!

Sunday, October 13, 2002

Putting the Band Back Together

Yes. I'm a pathetic caricature of a 47-year-old. In my case it's not a little red sports car, or a chickie on the side. It's me and a bunch of pot-bellied balding former local heroes getting together for one last stab at glory, even thought we know it's too late.

But we sound pretty good, IMO. And we're doing originals, which I've never done before, at least not as the main focus of a project. We've taken a few approaches - pre-arranged parts, lead sheet approach (where song is mapped out, but "parts" aren't predefined), and group-composition approach (where we jam, grab a part we like, go bakc and tweak it, play some more, tweak some more, etc.).

Stay tuned - we're pretty strong at every position, and the lead singer and drummer are both MTV-ready, even if the rest of us have faces for radio...

Friday, October 11, 2002

Courtesy of Bdgr over at the Home Recording BBS

So you want to be a keyboard player.
A few things to know....

GUITAR players have it easy. Vintage is cool for GUITAR , but except for Rhodes or Hammond, if your gear is older than your car, you have a problem. In fact, if your car is paid for, your gear should be newer. And even though Hammond and Rhodes are cool, your band will hate you for having to help move it...A Hamond weighs 600+ pounds. So be prepared to broke, or hopelessly outdated.

Everyone will do that d*mn Bill Murray routine on your keys,...You know, the Ghost busters "they hate that" thing.

If your keyboard has knobs, expect someone to screw with them if you walk away. People who never think of jacking with a guitar amps tone settings will come up and screw with your $5,000 keyboard.

Get a hard case for everything you own. Trust me.

Get used to the question "Cant you get one keyboard that does everything?...I know Casio makes this keyboard that has drums and built in speakers, why do you need more than one keyboard?"

Always set the volume control on your board to no more than 3/4 the way up during sound check. That way, when the idiot sound man turns you down where you can't hear yourself, you have a little room to move.

If you are going to use "Vintage" Keys, like a Rhodes, a Wurly, Hammond, analog synth....Learn to solder.

Get extra midi cables. You always need one more than you have.

If you get lost in a song, turn the volume off and pretend to play. Half the time nobody will notice anyway. GUITAR players cant do this without being obvious, but we can...just blame it on the sound man.

NEVER buy a Wurlitzer Electric piano that is out of tune.

Never buy a hammond with a dead key. There are thousands of wires in the keyboard of a Hammond (No, I am not exaggerating)

Learn to pronounce Moog. Its pronounced mowg, not mooooog. I dont care if you never actually even see one, if you are keyboard player, and mispronounce it, you will be shunned, and or beaten.

Don't play an outdoor gig in the rain. I actually played with a band that tried to convince me to do so.

Just because it says Hammond on it, doesn't mean it's a B3.

If you use the transpose function on your keyboard, dont forget to turn it off when the song is finished.

If your gonna play Hammond parts, make sure you have a volume pedal.

If you play a synth, for Heaven's sake program your own d*mn sounds. Nothing is more pathetic than someone with a monster synth still using the factory presets.

Listen to people like Rick Wakeman, Keith Emerson, Billy Powell, Pinetop Perkins, Booker T, and Jerry Lee Lewis...

Notice Elton John and Billy Joel weren't on that list.

Only computers and fast food depreciate faster than keyboard gear.

Only Drummers take longer to set up (and only sometimes).

Only Drummers have more stuff (and only sometimes).

Leslie Simulators don' least not well...

Turn your board off when you walk away, otherwise everyone in the room will feel the urge to come over and play whatever puke they learned in piano lessons in third grade. I actually had girl do this at a gig, during a song (it was part of the song that didnt have any keyboard parts).

Be prepared to hear GUITAR and bass players say that Keyboard players aren't real musicians, or that a synth isn't a real instrument. We are somewhere between Dj's and drummers on the scale of things (in their eyes). The only consolation is that there are practically zero keyboard player jokes, but a metric sh*tload of GUITAR, bass, and drummer jokes.

Memorize the aforementioned jokes for when you hear the aforementioned comments.

Don't play standing up... It makes those of us who use a sustain pedal, a volume pedal, and a leslie speed foot switch all the same time look lazy.

Don't wear a gold cape unless you are Rick Wakeman.

Don't throw knives at your keyboard unless you are Kieth Emerson.

Don't set your piano on fire unless you are Jerry Lee Lewis.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Email of the day

This may have made the rounds, but it's new to ME! Brilliant. Just brilliant. Thanks to Ching (a PYT who's a far cry from 30, much less 40) for sharing...

Subject: AAADD

I was recently diagnosed with A.A.A.D.D.--Age Activated Attention
Deficit Disorder. I want my post-40 friends to be aware of it in case
it strikes you as well. This is how it manifests:

I decided to wash my car. As I start toward the garage, I notice that
there is mail on the hall table. I decide to go through the mail before
I wash the car. I lay my car keys down on the table, put the junk mail
in the trash can under the table, and notice that the trash can is full.
So, I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the trash
first. But then I think, since I'm going to be near the mailbox when I
take out the trash anyway, I may as well pay the bills first.

I take my checkbook out of my folder that is on the table, and see that
there is only one check left. My extra checks are in my desk in the den,
so I go to my desk where I find the bottle of soda that I had been
drinking. I'm going to look for my checks, but first I need to push the
soda aside so that I don't accidentally knock it over. I see that the
soda is getting warm, and I decide I should put it in the refrigerator
to keep it cold.

As I head toward the kitchen with the soda, a vase of flowers on the
counter catches my eye--they need to be watered. I set the soda down on
the counter, and I discover my reading glasses that I've been searching
for all morning. I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first
I'm going to water the flowers. I set the glasses back down on the
counter, fill a container with water and suddenly I spot the TV remote.
Someone left it on the kitchen table. I realize that tonight when we go
to watch TV, we will be looking for the remote, but nobody will remember
that it's on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the den
where it belongs, but first I'll water the flowers. I splash some water
on the flowers, but most of it spills on the floor. So, I set the remote
back down on the table, get some towels and wipe up the spill. Then I
head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.

At the end of the day: the car isn't washed, the bills aren't paid,
there is a warm bottle of soda sitting on the counter, the flowers
aren't watered, there is still only one check in my checkbook, I can't
find the remote, I can't find my glasses, and I don't remember what I
did with the car keys. Then when I try to figure out why nothing got
done today, I'm really baffled because I know I was busy all day long,
and I'm really tired. I realize this is a serious problem, and I'll try
to get some help for it, but first I'll check my e-mail.

Do me a favor, will you? Forward this message to everyone you know,
because I don't remember to whom it has been sent.

Monday, October 07, 2002

Quote of the Day

Lifted from Gerard Sarafin's lushly illustrated and highly therapeutic blog, A Blog For Lovers, in recognition of our most recently canonized saint, Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei:

"Our Church is the Church of the saints. He who approaches her with mistrust sees nothing, but closed doors and barriers... Our Church, however, is the Church of the saints. To become a saint, what bishop would not give up his ring, his mitre; what cardinal would not give up his purple, what pontiff would not give up his white dress, his chamberlains, his Swiss guard and all his temporal possessions?

"Who would not like to have the strength to pursue this wonderful adventure? Because holiness is an adventure, and even the only adventure. He who has once understood this has entered into the heart of Catholic faith, and felt his mortal flesh shudder with a dread different from that of death, a superhuman hope. Our Church is a Church of the saints."

Georges Bernanos

Friday, October 04, 2002

How to record a choir?

Here are some suggestions.
And some more. The "Decca Tree" sounds especially promising.
Trapped in a tenor's body

Second week of chorale class, prof all of a sudden moves me to the bass section. I squawked. Loudly (and in a tenor pitch). I can't hit anything below a D below middle C consistently, basses have parts going to F in the next octave. "Well," he said, "I need basses, and you need work on your bass clef reading." Touche. Interestingly, he'd forgotten this all a few weeks later, and asked me how I liked things in the tenor section. I reminded him of our conversation, he said, "Oh yeah, that sounds familiar." Sigh.

My range is dropping a bit, though, and Bs and Cs are coming a little easier. I still feel silly, though, singing all these notes I can't hit.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

St. Peter's, as viewed by the angels, saints, and the general airborne public.