My World of Religion, Politics, Entertainment and Social Issues

If you are visiting my blog, expecting to see 'Toward a Progressive Catholic Church,' I have changed my title to reflect my wide assortment of interests. Having retired from my secular job, I hope to devote the rest of my life to my hobbies, ministries and perhaps a part-time job that makes good use of my communications skills. This blog will be designed to address my multi-faceted interests.

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Location: Rochester, New York, United States

I have an M.A. in Theology and an M.Div (Master of Divinity) from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry. I am currently a media consultant and promoter of classical music. I am also certified as an officiant by the Federation of Christian Ministries for baptisms, weddings and funerals and minister independently of the Rochester Diocese. My life has encompassed many interesting paths: broadcasting, free-lance writing, video-production, music, ministry and a secular job in government. In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube site at www.youtube.com/priestray and I have a Facebook page.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Motion Picture Studio for Rochester




Dear Blog Visitors:

I truly believe the climate is ripe for a major motion picture studio to consider locating some of its operations in Rochester, New York. I first began promoting this idea around thirty years ago via an editorial piece I wrote for a local newspaper. However, in consideration of the fact that Rochester is in great need of an economic boost, and there is plenty of open space for a major enterprise, I feel it is a good time to revisit my proposal of thirty years ago.

If you have been following Rochester's recent economic news, you are aware of the Paetec fiasco. Just when it seemed Paetec was going to build its new headquarters in downtown Rochester, Windstream announced it was purchasing Paetec. So, at least as it stands now, once Midtown Plaza is fully demolished, we will have an large empty space where Paetec headquarters was to be built. (Windstream's headquarters is located in Little Rock, Arkansas.) So, in addition to the large downtown space that will be available for development, there is plenty of space in surrounding rural areas as well for a potential motion picture studio.

Hollywood has already expanded its locations for primary projects, inclusive of New York City, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Rochester and the surrounding Finger Lakes region could easily be added to the mix. Some independent producers have already shot some films in this area, so the climate is indeed ripe for major studio executives.

Why is Rochester a good location for a motion picture enterprise?

1.) Rochester is in close proximity to locations that would be ideal for fall and winter film scenes. A perfect scenario that comes to mind is the fact that the Christmas classic, 'It's a Wonderful Life,' was shot during 90-degree summer days, utilizing artificial snow. If the movie had been shot in upstate New York, a natural winter setting could have been provided. (It is rumored that Seneca Falls, NY was the location modeled for Bedford Falls in the film.)

2.) A movie studio in Rochester would give Eastman Kodak the much-needed boost in revenue it needs, considering that its motion picture and digital divisions are vital to Hollywood's current needs.

3.) A movie studio in Rochester would provide wonderful opportunities for students of film at RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology).

4.) A movie studio in Rochester would provide Eastman School of Music students plenty of opportunities to earn extra income by playing in studio orchestras designed to provide background music in motion pictures. The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra could be recruited for such projects as well.

5.) The George Eastman House could prove to be a valuable asset to any movie studio that located in Rochester. Its archives and film preservation efforts have become invaluable.

6.) Actors and film crews coming to Rochester for projects would give added business to caterers, restaurants, hotels, retail outlets, etc.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy are making a serious effort to focus on economic development opporunities in upstate New York. It is my hope that an effort will be made to entice a major motion picture studio to consider Rochester for future endeavors.

Peace to all,
Ray

Monday, August 29, 2011

Returning to My Musical Roots




Dear Blog Visitors:

I find that I am truly enjoying my retirement. In addition to perhaps starting a small faith community, and continuing my ministry as an officiant at weddings, I am looking at ways I can make the most of the musical skills I once had.

Many of my high school classmates assumed I would have ended up in the musical profession. In addition, friends who recall I won a competition for young conductors many years ago, culminating in my guest-conducting the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, similarly assumed I was on my way to either a conducting podium or playing trumpet in an orchestra.

After two years at the Eastman School of Music as an undergraduate student (1967-1969), I put any musical career ambitions behind me. I found it was a very competitive field, which brought me to the realization that there were many musicians in the world far better than myself. So, I ventured into other career areas instead.

Now that I am retired, I have been looking at ways to tap into my life-long passion and love for classical music. So, for the past few years, Brenda and I have been season subscribers to the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. I consider them to be one of the best orchestras in the world, so hearing them play at concerts is exhilirating beyond description.

Whenever I take my trumpet out of the closet, I am brought to the realization that I can no longer play concertos or hit very high notes as in the past. However, I can still play good enough to stay active musically, perhaps by joining a community orchestra. Concerning the piano, I have lost most of the dexterity I had as a younger person. However, I am considering one of the many 'self-taught' courses available that will provide me with at least minimal keyboard abilities.

In the photos above, I have provided three images that capture some of my present pursuits (learning to play the piano again, practicing the trumpet, and practicing conducting). In the trumpet photo, I am highlighting the ability to play duets, whereby I record one part and then play a second part with the playback. In the third photo, I guess you can say I am attempting to 'conduct' myself properly.

Peace to all,
Ray

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Remembering The Rustix



Dear Blog Visitors:

Anyone who knows me well is aware of my classical music background and my continued love for the classics. However, what you may not know is that I developed friendships with members of rhythm and blues bands that were popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Rochester hosted some great rhythm and blues bands, some of which were The Rustix, The Brass Buttons and Wilmer Alexander and the Dukes. I became particularly friendly with members of The Rustix and The Brass Buttons, some of whom I remain in contact with.

It was a pure delight for me to discover that a video exists of one of the Rustix' biggest hits. I want to thank Chuck Brucato, one of the two former lead singers of the group for proving a link to the video. I have posted it above for those who either want to reminisce or for those who simply wish to hear this recording for the first time.

Peace to all,
Ray

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Staying in Rochester




Dear Blog Visitors:

With summer drawing to an end in Rochester, I find I am going through my annual ritual of contemplating life elsewhere, especially since winter weather and I don't get along very well.

After several days of reflection, I decided to take a local journey with my camera, snapping photos as a means of reminding myself of why I have lived in Rochester my entire life. I then made a list of what I would miss if I were to move to escape Rochester's cold winters.

If I were to move, I would certainly miss the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the many walking trails I am used to, Wegmans stores, the George Eastman House, the wonderful interfaith dialogue, the many universities in our area, excellent medical facilities, etc. I would also miss my neighbor's dog, who is my daily companion on walks, and I would miss the many friends I have made after a lifetime in Rochester. In consideration of all this, I have decided that Rochester will remain my home, at least for the time being.

I guess the lesson to be learned from all this is when the grass seems greener on the other side, it is important to take a careful look at what you have before making a move. This is not to say that I will never move to a warmer climate. However, Rochester is looking pretty good right now.

Peace to all,
Ray

Friday, August 26, 2011

Thanking and Remembering Vietnam Veterans




Dear Blog Visitors:

I am continuing to enjoy my retirement from many years of work at Rochester's City Hall. Between my hobbies, wedding ministry and daily walks and runs with an Alaskan Husky, I have not been bored.

I have been taking a lot of photos in retirement and posting many of them on my Facebook page. When I search for local locations to snap some images, I am often drawn to areas with a special spiritual connection. One such place is Rochester's Vietnam Memorial.

During my last trip to Washington, D.C., I spent some time at the National Vietnam Memorial. I did the same at Rochester's memorial yesterday. I highly recommend a visit by both Rochesterians and visitors to the city. A lot of work, compassion and reverence were devoted by those responsible for the memorial.

The Vietnam War was a divisive period in our country. Some supported the war, some protested against it, and others were neutral. Although I was granted an exemption from the war while in college for undergraduate study, I went for a physical at the local recruiting office following my studies. I was not admitted to the military, due to a variety of allergies that would have caused me problems in a jungle environment such as Vietnam. While I had mixed feelings about this particular war, I did not engage in any protests. So, I guess you can say I was one of those who held a neutral position. Nevertheless, I supported our troups.

As I visited the Rochester Vietnam Memorial yesterday, I recalled the faces of persons I knew who fought in the war. Most came back, and sadly, a few did not.

I took a few photos yesterday, and am sharing three of them as part of this blog post.

Peace to all,
Ray

Friday, August 05, 2011

Celebrating Lucille Ball's 100th Birthday



Dear Blog Visitors:

I am writing this on the day we celebrate what would have been the late and great Lucille Ball's 100th birthday.

Lucille Ball provided countless hours of laughter for me over a period of many years. While most admirers recognize her for her iconic TV roles in such shows as 'I Love Lucy' and 'The Lucy Show,' it is also important to note that she was one of the hardest working studio executives in the television industry. In this regard, she and her husband, Desi Arnaz, worked countless hours to ensure that TV audiences got the very best in weekly programming.

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Lucille Ball's birth, I spent some time in Jamestown, New York, where Lucy spent her formative years. As part of my visit, I went to Lucy's gravesite, where I said a silent prayer of thanks for her life and talents.

In the video that follows, I paid tribute to Lucy, inclusive of some photos I took in Jamestown and my playing 'Happy Birthday' on the trumpet.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Tutorial on Roman Catholic Mass Changes



Dear Blog Visitors:

While it is still my intention to write on a variety of topics at this blog, I will continue to offer religious perspectives when issues arise that stir my interest or concern.

If you are a Roman Catholic, you are aware that as of November, 2011, the English translation of the Mass will contain multiple changes. While I fully understand and appreciate the fact that U.S. bishops desired an English translation that is more in sync with the Latin, they should have also understood the need for worship language that has an easy flow for the faithful. They should have also taken into consideration the problems that would be encountered if present music does not work with a new translation. However, since the bishops have made up their minds and have voted affirmatively for the new translation, there is little that can be done at this point.

Although I minister independently of the Rochester Diocese, I am nevertheless occasionally asked questions about the new English translation of the Mass. I have therefore issued a tutorial video. In the video, I do not offer a critique, but I rather offer a comparison between the present and future translation.

Despite my occasional criticisms of procedural or administrative issues within the Roman Catholic Church, I do want the faithful to have a positive worship experience, regardless of the language of the Mass. I will therefore pray that despite a few problems with the new translation, that the faithful will continue to be persons who walk in the light of Christ.

Peace to all,
Ray