Sunday, October 31, 2010

Anima Sola

All Hallows' Eve, and it's raining outside. Nights like this, when I was a boy, always necessitated the telling of ghost stories, which I and me siblings readily devoured. We are much older now, though, and are admittedly harder to scare. But the tradition, thankfully, remains.

I remember one story my father told me some years back. It was 1982, eleven years into Martial Law, and the Marcoses were at the peak of their chicanery. Dad was a senior then, studying in one of Manila's oldest universities, and he was right smack in what is called, around these parts, the U-Belt-- short for 'University Belt', owing to the fact that the area was home to at least three universities. Today, U-Belt has the unfortunate distinction of being known more for its seedy underbelly rather than its education; Recto Street, for example, is quite near it, a street infamous among many for its single most popular ware: fake diplomas. There are stores in Recto, for example, which allow one to wait for the diploma, much like one of those photo studios in the mall that only seem to be there because of the demand for ID pictures. Despite the notorious traffic, however, Dad lived in an apartment well outside the U-Belt. He lived with his sister and a roommate, a rather naive provinciano named Joey, who, I'm told, had a peanut-shaped head.

It happened that, one chilly December night, Dad and Joey were heading back to their apartment from school. The semester almost halfway done, and Christmas break just looming a day away, it was only natural that excitement would get the better of them. And so my Dad, dorky Math major that he is, decided to go out and have a drink with Joey and the gang. The place was a seedy, dilapidated bar (of course, he would leave out this detail whenever he would tell us the story back then)where one could 'table' some girls for a paltry sum. It's one of those places where the dances are badly choreographed, and the music selection is tacky, at best, excruciating at worst. Being the son of my grandmother that he was, though, my dad opted not to partake of the carnality of it all; so he and Joey decided to leave early and head back to their apartment, where my aunt would be waiting.

The distance from U-Belt to West Avenue in Quezon City, where the small apartment was tucked away in some half-forgotten street, could scarcely be said to reach 10km, yet the time of the day (or night, rather) made it difficult to hop on a jeepney too easily. After about fifteen minutes, they found the right vehicle, and, stopping it in the middle of the street, hurried up to enter it. The ride took twenty minutes, and the windy Decemcontrolfreak214@hotmail.comber night carried the soft lilting of Christmas songs in the background as the faint, luscious smell of piping-hot bibingka wafted into the steel confines of the jeepney.

The ride ended, and Dad and Joey alighted from the vehicle. The light from the sole lamp post by the apartment complex was the only thing illuminating the street at that dead hour. And the light, dim as it was, suddenly revealed a figure that hid in the shadows, a tall, slender, and sleek figure. Joey's eyes were drawn to the right, as even then, he contemplated this sudden apparition that had hitherto lain in the dark; it was a woman, clad all in black, as if she were a widow fresh from her husband's funeral. Her sable clothes contrasted greatly with her pale skin; a pair of dark glasses-- at night!-- buried her eyes. Long, black hair, reaching almost to the back, fell on her shoulders. Lips, redder than strawberries-- or blood, if you wish-- were pursed tightly on her face. My Dad and Joey turned to her, despite being unnerved. Then the woman moved forward, and spoke in a velvety, yet hollow voice.

'May I ask if this is the residence of General Ito? Please help me, it is very important I see him.'

Either my Dad or Joey spoke next. 'I'm sorry, but there is no General Ito here. Maybe you're looking for Mr. Tansingco? He is Chinese but often gets mistaken for Japanese.'

The Lady remained still, mulling the words, until at last she spoke again. But this time, her voice betrayed an inner turmoil; and the Lady's voice was cracked and nervous, as if she were on the verge of tears. 'Please help me! I don't know what to do anymore. I really have to see the General, it is a matter of life and death!'

At this point, both men had already grown uneasy, and were resolved to call upon their landlord, an ancient gentleman who was probably at least eighty years old then, to help resolve the situation. 'Hold on a second miss, we'll call the landlord, he might be able to help you.' They fumbled with the key, trying to unlock the gate as quickly as possible, driven in part by fear, and by a sense of pity; whoever this woman was, she clearly needed to see this Ito fellow. And yet, there was no Ito resident in any of the apartments; and more, the Lady's clothes seemed too old-fashioned, as if they had been made, sold, and worn in another decade, one considerably older than the 1980s. The lock resolved, Joey turned around, renewing his effort to help the mysterious Lady.

The light, however, revealed the stranger's figure no longer; and in the span of a seconds that both of them fumbled with the lock, it seemed as if the Lady had disappeared all of a sudden. Eyes frantic and filled with fear scanned the streets looking for any sign of the sable-clad Lady, but no trace of her was to be found. Then, suddenly, from the corner of his eye, my Dad spied a curious movement in the middle of the street. The faint light revealed it to be a snake, slithering from one side of the street to the other; and in that faint, hazy light, the snake's black skin glistened. The chill wind blew once more, and it carried with it the howling of dogs, which masked the cries of many an anguished soul.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Green Ribbon

My elementary school days have long gone, but I still remember this story very well. I remember reading it in an anthology of horror stories for children aged 7 to 12, called 'In A Dark, Dark, Room'. But whereas the other stories were merely about preternatural mischief, 'The Green Ribbon' stood out, for me, for its particularly macabre content. Today, thirteen years after I was a student in third grade, it still sends a shiver running up my spine.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

El Senor de Los Milagros

October in Peru is known as 'mes morado'-- the purple month, on account of the fact that fair Lima's streets literally turn purple, as the hundreds of thousands of purple-clad devotees of El Senor de Los Milagros file in procession in honor of that icon. The celebration peaks on October 18th, but expect the streets of Lima to be cloaked in that royal color for the duration of the month. Today, the Peruvian diaspora has brought the devotion to the Lord of Miracles to such far-flung areas as New York City (where a procession is held on 51st Street), Madrid, Australia, and even Japan.

From the Kleph blog, a history of the devotion to the Senor:

According to tradition, in 1651 a slave who had converted to Catholicism painted the depiction of Christ on the cross on the wall of a building in the outskirts of Lima where new devotees to the faith gathered to pray.

When a devastating earthquake struck the city four years later the entire building collapsed except for the wall adorned with the painting. Over the next several decades, the image became associated with miraculous incidents. More and more people, particularly the descendents of slaves, began to worship at the site.

This concerned both the church and Spanish authorities and, in 1671 the image was ordered destroyed. According to legend, workers were not able to do so. But, for whatever reason, officials eventually relented and built a proper church on the site – the church of Las Nazarenas.

When another huge earthquake struck Lima in 1687, the chapel was destroyed but, once again, the wall adorned with the painting remained standing. This cemented the importance of the image to the faithful and church leaders ordered a painting of the image to be taken out in procession that October – the tradition that continues to this day

The Magnetic Fields - I Don't Believe in the Sun

I'm only twenty one years old; I think I deserve to post the occasional angst-ridden, woe-is-me song every now and then.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Feast of Our Lady of Penafrancia

The devotion to Our Lady of Penafrancia marked its tercentenary this year. The procession is one of the most well-attended in the Philippines, and in the province of Bicol, where this image is most fervently venerated and where she is known as 'Ina'-- Mother -- the celebrations take on an incredibly emotional character. It's said that a pagan Chinese sculptor once killed a dog and used its blood to stain the wood used to make the image; the sculptor then threw the carcass into the river. The Lady, probably incensed at the poor creature's death, brought it back to life; whereupon the dog was said to have immediately jumped out of the water, as if nothing had happened.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Iesus Mulierum Salvator

I took this photo nine months ago, during a visit to our province of Batangas. My grandfather was due to receive an award from the Archdiocese, to be conferred immediately after the second Mass of the day, at 6.30 in the morning. This crucifix, I am told, has quite a bit of history; it was reportedly featured on national television in the Nineties, after some miraculous cures were attributed to it. A remarkable moment of serendipity was when the two women at the foreground entered the scene, just as I was about to take the photograph. The seeming nonchalance of the younger girl in the blue shirt contrasts well with the stoic piety of her grandmother. The church where this was taken, the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, was recently declared a pilgrimage site.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Good Friday in Corleone, Sicily

Oracion para tumbar los trabajos negros

Found on a rather questionable site. To be honest, it sounds a lot like the prayers my grandparents used to pray over me when I was but a child. My Spanish is a bit rusty, to please bear with the translation. That, and I lack sleep (thesis, ugh).

En el nombre del Padre, del Hijo y del Espíritu Santo, por el poder de la Santísima Trinidad y por el poder del Creador, tenga por virtud y poder de desechar encantamientos, brujerías, hechicerías y todo mal, dado, tirado o tomado en cualquier maleficio.

Por el poder del Creador, por el poder de San Cipriano y el redentor, por el poder de la Santísima trinidad y de mi Angel Guardián, por el poder de todos los Santos, mis enemigos quedan derrotados, que el espíritu Santo sea mi ayuda y me guarde de los malos espíritus. Señor haz que las armas de mis enemigos o enemigas, fueran hombres o mujeres, grandes o pequeños, si traen armas no me lastimen, sus ojos no me vean, sus lenguas desatadas no me ofendan, que ni diablos, brujos o brujas, polvos, velas, mala suerte, encantamientos, malos espíritus, sean reventados antes de llegar a mí. Que si soy perseguido los pasos de mis perseguidores sean clavados con clavos y crucetas. Cárceles y calabozos, candados y cadenas y grillos que encierran o aten mi cuerpo, revienten como reventaron los rayos y centellas, cuando Jesús expiro en la Cruz. Que mi cuerpo sea cubierto con el manto sagrado de la Verónica, para luego ver la redención del mundo. Amén.


In English:

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by the power of the Most Holy Trinity, and by the power of the Creator, have I the virtue and power to dispose of  enchantments, witchcraft, sorceries and every evil, given, cast, or taken in whatever curse.

By the power of the Creator, by the power of Saint Cyprian and of the Redeemer, by the power of the Most Holy Trinity and of my guardian angel, by the power of all the saints, may my enemies be defeated, and that the Holy Spirit be my help and my protector against evil spirits. Lord, grant that the weapons of my enemies, be they men or women, great or small, if they should bring weapons, that they do not harm me, that their eyes no not see me, that their loose tongues do not offend me, that neither devils, witches and sorcerers, powder, candles, bad luck and enchantments, evil spirits, are loosed before reaching me. That if I pursued the footsteps of my pursuers they may be bound my nails and crosspieces. May prisons and jail cells, locks and chains and shackles that bind or fix my body, burst like thunder and lightning as thunder did burst when Jesus expired on the Cross. That my body be covered by the holy mantle of Veronica, then to see the redemption of the world.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Holy Terror


I have probably posted this video before, but a sudden thought just occurred to me. In many cultures, the sacred takes on a decidedly double-faced characteristic. The sacred, because it is numinous and otherworldly, escapes the grasp of human reason, and because of this, it can be said that the sacred technically fits neither category of benevolence or malevolence. What the sacred is, however, is terror--sheer, impalpable, creature-ing terror.Remember that sacred ultimately means being set apart-- but whether that is a good or bad thing for us remains to be seen. Perhaps the reason, then, why the practice of making vows to the saints perdures in the Philippines is because it is never wise to cross that which is not human. The sacred is untamed, wild, irrepressible and contagious. Maybe, just maybe, these vows are made, not just to bargain with the divine, but also to keep it out of the sphere of life as much as possible. After all, who wants to seek death by displeasing the Madonna, or St. Isidore the Laborer? Of course, I am just toying around in my head; but the idea that God, His Holy Mother, the nine choirs of angels and His saints constitute some sort of cosmic Justice League is ludicrous, maybe even dangerous.

In the video are penitents called 'magsasalibatbat', who crawl around town on their hands and knees dressed like the Nazarene. Upon reaching a shrine or visita in honor of the town's patron saint, they prostrate themselves upon the dust, while a cross is tied down to their backs. The remainder of the penitent act is spent with the cross bearing down on them.

And All The Angels and Saints

My current predicament (nothing serious, to be sure) is almost sure to prolong my absence from regular blogging. In the meantime, I thought I'd draw the reader's attention to a new blog I came across. Mr. Alex Castro runs 'And All the Angels and Saints', a blog dedicated to the art and craft of the santero-- saint-makers, literally, men who carve images of the saints for use in processions and in churches. As well, it offers interesting trivia and history on some of the more celebrated santos in the Philippines, including an image of the Dead Christ that was supposedly 'kidnapped'. Do check it out, it is quite a fun read.

On the Weather

One day last week, as I was taking the train to meet a friend, rainclouds suddenly blocked out the sun, and rain started to pour. In another instant the rainclouds were gone, and the sun was shining down again, but the rain perdured, now strong, now weak, drizzling, pouring, all this under a clear blue sky. I was suddenly reminded of an old superstition; whenever rain started to pour while the sun was up, they said, it was a sure sign that two tikbalang were about to be married. Having the body of a man and the head of a horse, the tikbalang is one of the more famous creatures of Philippine mythology; it has a taste for human flesh, they said, and when two of them were to be married, it's said, humans better watch out.

And sure as day, I saw a little old lady of about sixty, no doubt a grandmother, suddenly grab her grandson and give her a medallion of St. Benedict. She pressed it to his foreheard, lips, and heart, before finally crossing the child with the medallion. 'Crux sacra sit mihi lux, nunquam draco sit mihi dux.' Meanwhile, the child played gleefully with his PSP, as even then, the old lady resumed reading her tabloids, no doubt chewing up the latest gossip about her favorite stars' love lives.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Requiem Mass for President Ramon Magsaysay at the Brompton Oratory, 1957

 The late Leon Ma. Guerrero, of the prominent Guerrero clan of Manila was probably one of the most interesting figures to have served his nation. A dyed in the wool aristocrat (he spoke with an impeccable Oxford accent, to the delight of the British where he served as ambassador for seven years), it has been said of his family (to paraphrase Nick Joaquin) that they were at once marked by the most intense Catholicism and by the most intense nationalism; at once the fiercest defenders of tradition, while also fostering revolution on the other.

Mr. Guerrero served under the government of Ramon Magsaysay, who is, perhaps, one of the most beloved Presidents the Philippines has ever had. Magsaysay was as populist as they came, serving as a mechanic for a time and inviting the poor to come into the halls of Malacanang Palace where he would wine and dine with them. There too, is a story told that Magsaysay was able to bring about the surrender of communist rebels by circulating tales of aswangs -- blood-sucking, flesh-eating vampires-- loose in the mountains. President Magsaysay, sadly, died in a plane crash, and his body was never found.

The photo above shows the catafalque of President Magsaysay draped in the Philippine flag. Please excuse the somewhat poor quality of the photo, as I had no means to properly scan the book in which I found it. Rather, I just used my phone to snap a photo of said photo.

Here now is an excerpt from The Diplomatist about the Requiem Mass in honor of the fallen president, held in the London Oratory at Brompton in March of 1957.

... at the Brompton Oratory at 11 o'clock on the morning of Friday, 22 March the Earl of Scarborough, the Lord Chamberlain, representing H.M. the Queen at the Solemn Requiem Mass sung on the occasion of the funeral in Manila of the late President of the Philippines, Ramon Magsaysay. Her Majesty's Ambassador in the Philippines, Mr. G.L. Clutton, represented Her Majesty at the funeral. The Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop Gerald O'Hara, presided, Father P. Bushell was the celebrant, assisted by Father Mark Taylor and Father D. Wood, and the Archbishop of Westminster was represented by the Right Rev. Msgr. Morrough Bernard. Among the large congregation were diplomatic representatives of 67 countries including 25 ambassadors. Attending with the Philippine Ambassador and Mrs. Guerrero were members of the staff of the Embassy and others of the Filipino community in the United Kingdom, and members of the Philippine Society of London.

And finally, some choice words from Mr. Guerrero about his fallen commander in chief.

Yet none was closer to the ordinary Filipino than President Magsaysay. Perhaps it was because he never made his fortune, because he rose to power so quickly and so soon. Or perhaps the common people always took him as their own because he made them feel important, because he knew he would worry as much about an artesian well for their mountain village as about a new oil refinery, or about a poor postman's promotion as a change in the Cabinet.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Que arrogante caudillo osara en su furor?

In honor of the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, here is now the Marcha de San Ignacio, otherwise known as the hymn of the Society of Jesus. They still teach it in grade schools of the Jesuit-run institutions here, although the words are different (it seems that each country has its own version of the song-- the one familiar to me, and most prevalent in the Philippines, may be found here)

Fundador / sois, Ignacio y General /
De la Compañía real /
Que Jesús / con su nombre distinguió. /
La legión de Loyola / con fiel corazón, /
Sin temor enarbola / la cruz por pendón: /
¡Lance, lance a la lid fiero Luzbel /
A sus monstruos en tropel! //
De Luzbel las legiones /
Se ven ya marchar /
Y sus negros pendones /
El sol enlutar, /
¡Compañía de Jesús / corre a la la lid, /
A la lid! /
Del infierno la gente /
No apague tu ardor, /
Que ilumina tu frente /
De Ignacio el valor. /
Ya voces escúchanse /
De trompas bélicas. /
Y el santo ejército /
Sin tregua bátase, /
Y alza sus lábaros /
En la batalla campal. /
Fiel presagio / del lauro bélico y de la paz. /
Del lauro y de la paz

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

El Patrocinio de San Jose

 The work of the Peruvian painter Gaspar Miguel del Berrio, 18th century.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Very Important Prayer Request

Of your charity please pray for a certain lady, who could very well be considered a part of our family. Our old housekeeper Ines left to retire in June of last year, after 20 years of being with us. She is diabetic and is currently based in one of the more remote provinces of the Philippines, where easy access to hospitals is not common. A few weeks ago she injured her leg, and apparently it is now festering and there is a chance she may have to get the gangrenous leg amputated. This is just heartbreaking news for all of us, and especially for me. Please pray that it does not get worse, and if possible, to avert the possibility of the amputation. Thanks.


1.30 am on a Saturday morning, and the road is pitch black, the only consolation coming from a few street dim street lamps and the occasional headlights. No one uses this road much, not as much as some other thoroughfares at least. There is something about driving home in the ungodly hours that somehow makes it easier for your priorities to reach convergence. The radio had been playing crap for a few minutes now, so off it went, and I had to put on one of my dad's CDs to fill in the void.

Three things I saw that night that made me shake my head in absurdity. The first: a thick bundle of tattered black and gray firmly planted on an island in the middle of the road. I shone my headlights at the curious bundle, and discovered a few beer bottles next to it. The bundle shone, the material reflecting my lights to a degree. It looked like a massive but curiously splayed trash bag. I followed the length of the shiny black material until it came to an end-- and from that end protruded a pair of darkly tanned mounds of flesh terminating in calloused, bruised feet. It was a man inside the trash bag, apparently, and judging from the almost imperceptible movement in the trash bag, I could tell, thankfully, that he was alive.

The second instance occurred a little over half an hour after that. A rickety box-like thing was crossing the middle of the highway. It was a kariton, a wooden cart on wheels which, depending on its usage, was either a very poor man's version of a garbage truck, or in some cases, a mobile home, a few items of clothing and shelter, and sometimes even a pet dog for protection, finishing it. Behind it, a tiny old woman, bent and skinny and heaving, was pushing it, oblivious to the oncoming rush of cars at that ungodly hour.

Finally, I entered home stretch, that is to say, the last ten minutes of my drive home. For some strange reason, my stomach was churning, rebelling against the food I had earlier deposited there. It is now ten minutes after two in the morning, and what better way to cap off a minor spasm of hunger than with pan de sal, that ubiquitous Filipino breakfast bread. I parked the car next to the bakery, got off, bought my bread, when my shirt was accosted by an unseen force. A child, probably no more than 7, dressed in tatters, his face muddy, but you could see the hopefulness in it. He offered me sampaguita. 10 pesos for a strand. I bought one strand, handed him 10 pesos -- two brass coins just slightly bigger than my thumb. And he walked off, running to his friend in the dark who I presumed was probably around his age as well.

If you ever want to get rid of even the most insignificant hangover, I suggest a drive through the streets of Manila. There's horror and poetry there to do just that.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Trinidad Trifacial

I have blogged about the renegade icon of the Trinidad Trifacial before, but it's always nice to find an image of it that looks so... pagan. The Church of course has never really liked this depiction of the Blessed Trinity in that it seems to blur the distinctness of the Three Divine Persons. In Peru, the Trifacial, it seems, is quite popular (there is also another depiction, this time of the Holy Trinity as three Jesuses, although the Peruvian example I saw had all Personae dressed in papal robes); the image above, however, comes from the parish of Santos Justo y Pastor in Cuenca de Campos in the Spanish province of Valladolid. It is the work of an anonymous artist and probably dates back to the end of the 16th century.

I have heard Protestants say that the God of Catholicism is a very 'sensual' God; Spanish Catholicism and its many incarnations throughout its colonies, in particular, have a way of showing this sensuality that seems almost bizarre to our modern sensibilities. Should we be uneasy? To be honest, I really don't know. My conception of God has largely been molded more on abstract principles-- proper, decent, hyper-Roman, Roman Catholicism-- to be comfortable with such an image. But at the same time, it makes 'sense'-- the kind that only Catholics schooled in the logic and riotous horizons of imagination of Catholicism since birth can appreciate-- to think of God as a three faced man. In truth, it doesn't really have to make sense, I think. It just has to be feasible. More or less.

And besides, it is certainly better than thinking of God as a robed figure with a glowing light bulb for a head. I'm looking at you, Jack Chick.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Apu Iro

In honor of the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, here is a post on Apu Iro-- 'Chief Iro', to use an approximate English equivalent, patron saint of Apalit in the province of Pampanga. The image of St. Peter is dressed in full papal regalia, complete with papal tiara and the fabled triple-bar cross. His face and hands are ivory, and his stockinged feet are encased in solid silver. These rest upon a finely worked cushion, while the saint is seated on a portable throne of solid silver. The saint's right hand, too, rests on a cushion, heavy with the burden of keeping the keys to the kingdom of heaven. A jeweled emerald ring shines brightly on the ivory finger of the saint. Like the Pope, the image is carried on the shoulders of men-- in this case, a myriad devotees who compete for the saint's attention. An ombrellino is held by a senior devotee over the saint's head, as a gesture of reverence as well as in keeping with established papal protocol. He is carried amidst mad festivity from his chapel in Sulipan to the town church of Apalit.

The next day, the saint is returned, again with magnificent pomp and ceremony, to his chapel, there to repose until next year's festivities. He is carried to a sumptuously appointed barge-- which the locals call a pagoda-- by the yellow-clad Knights of St. Peter, traversing the river to cries of 'Viva' and the mad flinging of rice and foodstuffs. In heathen days these were said to have been offerings to the crocodiles which resided in the river, for peace and safety. Devotees, meanwhile, engage in a riotous splashing of water, whilst more Knights swim in the river, pulling the ropes attached to the barge in an act of penance and 'sucking up' to the Divine. Finally, their sacred deed done, the men return to their homes, to feast and glut themselves, in honor of Apung Iro.

Monday, June 28, 2010

El Gran Poder Attacked

One of the most popular images of Our Lord in Spain, Jesus del Gran Poder, aptly called the Lord of Seville, was physically attacked -- kicked off its pedestal, stomped, and having its right arm almost ripped off in the process by its deranged attacker. Supposedly, the man shouted 'I am the Son of God' when he assaulted the image of the Lord. My Spanish is not the best in the world, but you may read the pertinent articles here:

El Gran Poder atacado con violencia
El agresor del Gran Poder, al psiquiatrico por creerse <>

The image of El Gran Poder is four hundred years old, having been sculpted in the 17th century by the sculptor Juan de Mesa. It is perhaps the most venerated image of Our Lord in Seville and figures prominently in the processions of Good Friday. This execrable act of sacrilege has outraged Sevillanos, and in response, the Hermandad del Gram Poder organized, on Friday, an "extraordinario besamanos"-- an act of devotion common in Hispanic countries, wherein devotees line up to kiss the precious hands of Our Lord. Youtube has some videos of this event, where the line of devotees stretched well outside the church's grounds. Everyone, young and old, participated in the penitential act.


Apologies for the long lull in posting. The new school year has just started here and I am busy with school; in addition, personal baggage has largely taken away much of my free time of late. For now, I would like to request the few people still reading this blog (are there any? lol) to pray for some intentions of mine. First, for Mark, a friend of mine, that he stop wasting his life and that he may abandon his lifestyle of constant fornication and sodomy. I also request prayers for my grandmother, who had an accident this morning. She is turning 85 tomorrow, and though she is still in otherwise admirable health, she had to be confined at the hospital for a period of 24 hours. And lastly, for me, that I may be able to keep my focus and quit procrastinating. That is all.