Tuesday, August 30, 2011


So, I’ve been listening to a lot of Disney music lately.

Don’t really know why. I guess I just forgot how fantastic it was. Primarily the stuff written for the movies in the 90s (all of which had music written by Alan Menken, sans “The Lion King” by Hans Zimmer.) Music geek that I am, I can’t help but marvel at the musical genius each and every one of these films represent.

As I listen to this music, I can’t help but discover a pattern though. Every Disney movie from the 90s has similar plot outlines, and the significant turning points in the plot are highlighted through the use of songs. I have outlined this pattern for you, (don’t worry. I’m going somewhere with this), and I would like you to think about any or all of the following movies as you read it:

The Little Mermaid

Beauty and the Beast


The Lion King


The Hunchback of Notre Dame




The pattern goes something like this:

The Prerequisite: This is how the movie opens, the first song, that sets the stage for the remainder of the film. Almost all of the above films have it, the exceptions being The Little Mermaid and Mulan. These prerequisite songs are important to give the viewer a feel for the rest of the movie. (Think “Circle of Life” or “Bells of Notre Dame,” my personal favorite.)

Ambitious Song: The protagonist sings some kind of song that discusses how he/she got to where they are or why they are the way they are. This song is featured in all of the above movies. Usually sad with some kind of happy, hopeful overtone, the song shows the viewer what the protagonist wants from life. (Think “Part of Your World” “Out There” or even “I Can Go the Distance,” just not the Michael Bolton version. Yikes!)

New Beginning Song: This is by the middle of the movie, and it can go one of two ways. This is the first way, in which a significant event happens to change the plot or the protagonist’s mission. (Think “Hakuna Matata” “Colors of the Wind” or “Strangers Like Me” from Tarzan.) However, these songs are not in every movie.

Love Song: Ah! This is the second of two ways, and is probably the more obvious/common of the two. Also, I think it should be quite obvious that this is the song where the protagonist meets the romantic interest and, as any good person would do, decides to sing about it in public. (Think “Beauty and the Beast” “A Whole New World” or “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”)

Bad Guy Song: Quite succinctly, the bad guy song is the song sung by the bad guy to illustrate his overall badguyness. Again, pretty obvious. (Think “Kill the Beast!” “Be Prepared” or “Savages. Note that the bad guy songs always have the coolest sounding voices.)

Conflict Song: Okay, this isn’t so much a song so much as a scene with lots of background music that makes the viewer feel as if the bad guy might win. (Think when the Beast lets Belle go back to her father or when Quasimodo is chained up to Notre Dame or, my personal favorite, when Simba sees Darth Vader in the sky.)

Renewal Song: Victory for the good guys! The song is often a reprise of the more musically thematic/best song in the movie, and ties up the rest of the movie so that the viewer has a satisfactory ending. (Basically, every movie has a reprise except for Mulan, Tarzan, and Hercules.)

Okay! Now that we’ve got that out of the way…where am I going with all this?

Stay tuned to find out. ; )

(And feel free to think that I have no idea what I'm doing.)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Reflection on Mothers

Dear Reader,

You’re still here. I would’ve thought you’d learned better by now.

But, since you are here, I would like to propose a certain thought to you:

What is the purpose of mothers?

I was thinking about this today because it is the feast of St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine, a theologian and philosopher who is renowned in many different Christian denominations, as well as other faiths. In Augustine’s Confessions, an autobiography of his life, he describes his mother as having been a huge factor in his conversion experience. A devout Catholic, St. Monica prayed for his conversion with great frequency and fervent passion. Eventually, her prayers paid off, as Augustine turned away from his life of vice and decadence and became not only the Bishop of Hippo (what is modern day Algeria, then part of the Roman Empire), but one of the most esteemed saints of the Catholic faith and popular philosopher to many others.

I know my own mother has been an enormous influence in my conversion experience as well. Her prayers for me have helped me to do incredible things, and still do. Even knowing that she is praying for me gives me comfort, but the effects of these prayers mean even more. I don’t know the theological background following this, but I truly believe that the prayers of a mother have a certain grace inherent in them. Just as the Lord Himself would not reject His mother, Mary’s, request at the wedding in Cana, He understands the prayers of a mother, and they do not go unheeded.

This is just a thought I had and wanted to share with any one reading. Also, I want to take this opportunity to formally commend and thank my own mother for all her love and prayers over the years, as well as now, when it appears I need it most.

Thanks, Mom. I love you.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Hi, all,

I recognize, of course, that it has been some time since my last blog post. Maybe you could say I took a summer break, maybe you could say I ran out of ideas, maybe you could say I just got busy (or you could say that I forgot about it for awhile and never got started back up again.)

Regardless of the circumstance of my hiatus, I am back, and with a passion.

You see, this week, I left my home.

Not in the dramatic fashion I’d always hoped it to be, though. I’m one of those diehard romantics that can’t help but entertain the thought of running away from home in my highschool years, backpacking and hitchhiking my way across these vast United States of Themerica, and ending up in Alaska, where I would reside beside a lake surrounded by mountains, dwelling in my humble log cabin with my pet Polar Bear and a practically limitless supply of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

A trek of 3,866 miles.

I didn’t get very far.

119 miles. That’s 0.03% of the necessary distance.

And now, here I am…

…in Indianapolis.

For those of you who don’t actually know me, I have entered the Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary and am discerning my possible vocation as a Roman Catholic priest for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

It is the first time I have ever been away from home for longer than a week.

And I have been quite homesick.

But out of my suffering, it appears the Lord has worked in His usual, mysterious way. In my prayer, desolate though it was at the beginning, I came to this remarkable conclusion.

My grandfather moved from Lima, Peru to come to the United States to work as a physician. Initially, he had not intended on staying. That was in 1961.

Having just married my grandmother weeks earlier, my grandfather left everything he knew in his home to come here. He had to accustom himself to a different culture, a different language, a different climate. Nothing felt the same, sounded the same, tasted the same, or was the same. My grandmother did not join him until another six months had passed. Aside of my great uncle, with whom my grandfather lived, he was alone.

But he stayed. He endured.

And his endeavor resulted in the birth of two of my aunts, an uncle, and my mother. By that time, he had bills to pay, and a family to care for. He could not leave. That was all by 1970.

Somewhere in that time, my grandfather had returned to Peru but once, to visit his father. My grandfather knew that would be the last time he would ever see him.One year later, he died.

Finally, in 1978, my grandfather, having lived as a legal resident for 17 years, became a citizen of the United States of America.

Several years later, my mother met my father, and for some strange reason, she decided to marry him.

And several years after that, five to be exact, their life was made complete with the birth of their third and most consistently difficult child (also, the most proud and likely to write a blog post such as this.)

So, you see, I am the result of destiny.

My grandfather never had to stay in Cincinnati. He could’ve returned to his home anytime he wanted to.

My mother never had to marry my father. She could’ve remained home awhile longer.

And I, myself, never had to come here. I could’ve gone to school back home in Cincinnati. And even now, I do not have to stay here.

But, I owe my existence to the fact that God made man and made man to endeavor and endure the sufferings that come only as blessings in disguise. I owe my existence to a brave, young Peruvian who loved his family too much to leave them and, as a result, brought about the chain reaction that would end in my birth.

And in that thought, I am comforted.

To know that God always has been watching over me, even before I was a thought in any mind but His, and to know that He will always watch over me until the end of days, and to know that He has blessed me with as strong a man as my grandfather and my father and my grandmother and my mother and all of my family who I know will always be here to do the work of His hands, His will…and in that, I am comforted.

So, you see, I year only for the material home I once knew. The home where I can rely on the weatherman to disappoint and the sports teams to do so even more. The home whose roads I know so well, whose every hill and river bring fond memories. The home where a mixture of Skyline chili and Graeter’s ice cream makes up the aroma that fills the Queen City air.

But is that really what home is? A location?

It’s something more. Much, much more than that. I guess I can’t explain it; I’m only beginning to find out for myself.

But, I think it has something to do not with what we leave behind, but what we take with us. Whether that’s the baby blanket your aunt made for you, or the stuffed cow your grandmother bought you, or the original Skyline 3-Way plate your grandparents gave you, or a hair scrunchy your mother left in your dorm room on accident.

It’s these people who embody the acts of love that give me life that make my home.

“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”