Grow Up

Seriously, I really do try to act like an adult. You know, I go to work, pay my taxes, try to set a good example for my children —but sometimes the fourteen-year-old inside me cannot be completely suppressed. Like the other night.

I was sitting in church waiting for the May Procession to begin. This is where the kids from my son’s school recite the Rosary and put a crown on the statue of Mary. Thinking this would present some serious zone out time I chose a spot away from the crowd —but not so far away that it would look odd.

I got out my iPod and inserted only the left ear bud. This way no one in the church would see what I was doing. Then I took out my phone and started sending rude text messages to a guy I know who was sitting across the way.

While deep in the haze of the Felice Brothers and tapping out stupid texts Sister Mary Frederick stopped by my pew. She was the principal of the school when my older son went there and wanted to know how he was doing. As I fumbled with my headphone wire and tried to hide the phone I explained how he was finishing his junior year at college and preparing to spend the summer in National Guard training.

In other words, my son is getting an education and defending America —and his father is acting like an eighth grader.

If I were an actual eighth grader both items would have been confiscated and I probably would have gotten detention. Instead I just got to feel like an idiot.

And Who is this Agnes Day, Anyway?

No really, I do pay attention in church —but for years I’ve been mystified by one of those songs they sing every week. It comes up right around the time they’re doing the whole breaking bread thing and getting ready to hand out communion. All I could ever make out were the first few words:

“Are you staying…blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, ….” And so on.

Am I staying? Of course, I wouldn’t leave before communion. I’ll pass on the wine because I don’t care if they wipe off the chalice, handing that thing around to hundreds people seems a like a very bad idea. And then there’s the issue of backwash.

Anyhow, here I am listening to that song again —and again not getting it. I leaned over to my wife Ann recently and whispered, “What the hell are they singing?”

She handed me the song sheet that’s given out at the beginning of mass.

Agnus Dei, qui tolis peccata mundi, misere nobis.

That explains why I can’t understand it: it’s in Latin. Didn’t we get rid of Latin under Vatican II? Not that anyone cares what I think, but let’s just switch everything to English —and while we’re at it maybe it’s time to consider individual serving cups for the wine.

Richard J. Harte of Delmar is Not Amused

My son Zack’s eighth grade social studies class at St. Thomas School recently studied about the Roaring Twenties —and capped it off by turning the classroom into a speakeasy where they danced the Charleston and swigged grape juice. Somebody thought this picture was so cute that they sent it to our local weekly, The Spotlight.

Well, not everyone thought it was cute, like this guy who fired off a letter to the paper:

As a long-time parishioner of St. Thomas in Delmar, I can’t think of a more inspiring way to begin the religious season of Lent than by having a 1920’s prohibition event for the school’s eighth graders… complete with faux “booze” (photo, 1920s roar to life, march 11).

To say I am a little surprised and shocked at both the timing and the function is an understatement. I realize that the purpose was an educational exercise examining the Roaring ’20s, but do you really educate children by having them act out a disregard for the law (Prohibition) and promote the consumption of alcohol as a fun thing to do? Then to publicize the occasion by submitting a group photo of the kids, complete with bottles and glasses in hand. And we wonder why the children of this and other communities start drinking at an early age.

Seriously, “educators,” did you think this out beforehand?

P.S. – Yes, I do enjoy a drink, and yes, thank you, I do have a life.

Richard J. Harte

Yes, Mr. Harte, of course you have a life. Your life is writing ridiculous letters to the local newspaper.

Fisher of Men

You’ve all probably see the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish commercial. The delightfully weird jingle in the spot is on everyone’s lips —but what’s really interesting are the commercial’s obvious religious overtones.¬†At a time when corporate America shys away from religious imagery McDonald’s is doing just the opposite.

The fish has been used to represent Christianity since the earliest days of the faith —and in the commercial the mechanical fish, like Jesus, is delivering a message. That the fish is mounted on wood -in the way Jesus is depicted on a crucifix- may be heavy-handed but is a reference to the most ubiquitous and powerful image in Christendom.

And those men in the commercial? The burly guy bopping his head is clearly a stand in for the apostle Peter, who was the among the first to encounter Jesus after his resurrection (Luke 24:34). Peter is thought to be the most impulsive and expressive of the apostles, so his behavior in the the scene is true to form. The guy with the drill? Look at the incredulous expression of disbelief on his face. He could be none other than Thomas who doubted that Jesus had risen from the tomb (John 20:25).

From a marketing standpoint, it’s no mistake that this commercial is running during Lent, a time that many Catholics abstain from eating meat on Fridays. What’s surprising is that McDonald’s would employ such a clear Christian allegory in its advertising —especially during the most significant season on the liturgical calender. Discuss among yourselves.


Miracle Man

Have we exhausted the use of the word miracle yet?

Yes, the emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 was amazing and astounding and unprecedented —but a miracle? I’m not sure pilot Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger would describe it that way. Here’s a guy who’s been flying since he was 14-years-old and went on to earn an appointment to the Air Force Academy. He flew F-4 Phantom jets, has been a commercial airline pilot for more than 25 years, and is a recognized expert in flight safety and accident investigation. Calling what he did a miracle cheapens its significance.

Hey, I go to church on Sunday but lets face it: God has nothing to do with whether your plane stays in the air or not. If he saved this one does that mean he made the others crash? Or does he just reach out occasionally with his big God hand and pluck you out of danger? No, he does not.

We are human and we make mistakes and things break —and when stuff goes wrong it does so in a spectacular fashion. And sometimes we are lucky enough to have somebody around who will keep his head in an emergency. Someone like Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger.

When the Fir Flies

Bob’s Trees asks:

“Do you yearn for the yearly family trip to the woods, the smell of a fresh-cut evergreen, and the experience of dragging the family tree through the snow?”

Yearn? Dread is more accurate, because in the past our yearly family trips to Bob’s have threatened to ruin Christmas before it even started. Like the year of the ice storm, when cars were doing 360s in the road on front of the tree farm. Or the time I lost my shoe in the mud —and then the car got stuck in the same mud. Or when I accidentally tied the doors of my car shut. I could go on and on. Freezing weather, rain, snow, slop, filthy stinking dogs, crying children, bitter arguments —these are the spirits of Christmas past at Bob’s Trees.

So naturally, if it goes too easily I get suspicious.

Friday we drove up the hill at Bob’s, found a tree, cut it down, and had it on top of the the car in no time at all. No fuss, no muss, in and out in five minutes. How is this possible, I wonder? There must be something wrong with this tree. Will a colony of spiders hibernating deep in its branches come to life and infest the house? Will I get home and find that it’s shed all of its needles? Will it mysteriously burst into flames?

There’s no way to tell, but meanwhile I am keeping an eye on this tree that came to our home without struggle or strife. Either there’s a catch somewhere or after twenty years we’re getting good at it.

Random Notes

GOTTA SERVE SOMEONE Zack surprised us on the way out of Mass Sunday, announcing that he’d like to be a lector someday. We were really impressed by this because we’ve worked so hard to keep him interested in church. I was halfway to the car before I realized why he was suddenly so keen on getting involved —and it had everything to do with first reading, Zechariah 9:9-10:

See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, Meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass.

Like every 12-year-old, he just wants to say ass in church.

ON THE INTERNET, NOBODY KNOWS YOUR A DOG I don’t really have time for it, but I’ve gotten myself involved in another online project: Dog 365. For the next year, I will post one picture a day of Scarlett, the Australian Shepherd who can’t manage to keep her tongue out of my mouth. I’d like to tell you that this is some sort of satire about the relationship we have with our pets, but like a lot of things I’ve done online, I didn’t really put that much thought into it.

POST TIME Madeo couldn’t quite get it done at the May 24 Alydar Stakes, losing by a neck to long shot Trevor’s Clever. His owners and trainer continue to have high hopes for the three-year-old, who’s entered in Saturday’s $350,000 Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park. Madeo won’t be the favorite this time. Among the entries are Kentucky Derby horse Colonel John, who will likely head to The Travers if he wins this race. Does that mean Madeo could end up in the Travers if he wins? Not likely, especially considering he’s never run on dirt.

Unfinished Business

5/26/08 – Written on Back of Napkin
Why’s David Paterson so popular with the ladies? He has a cute glaucoma.

4/23/08 – Dinner Conversation
Zack: If Alex was on death row, would you make him his favorite food as a last meal?
Ann: Did he try to kill me, too?
Zack: No, he just killed someone else.
Ann: Yes.

4/19/08 – Unfinished Blog Post
Getting old. It blows, doesn’t it? I’ve been fighting aging by acting more immature, but the jury’s still out on how this is working out.

Undated – Scrawled on Back of Deposit Slip
Xcuse me? Are you off your meds?

Undated – Folded Up Post It Note
ortho bucks…ipods…needles…eyelids…has mono “i’m not getting mono”…jesus c.s…group discuss…

5/2/08 – Unfinished Blog Post
So Zack whispers to me in church, “That’s cool.” Cool? “Yeah, cool.”
I have no idea what he’s talking about.
“The axe. It’s cool.” What?!
“The axe of the Apostles. You know. They had axes. That’s cool.”

The Friday File

The Pope I don’t get why the Pope’s going to Yankee Stadium. I always thought he was a Cardinal fan. Har har har.

Turf and Dirt Our horse Madeo worked at five furlongs this week. We’re keeping an eye out for a start so you can get down to OTB and put your money where my mouth is. Based his two outings, expect short odds.

Naming Rights Go help Stewart’s name their latest batch of new ice cream flavors. I suggested Client-9 for the “lemon flavored light ice cream with a whipped cream swirl.” I figure that when life gives you lemons, make lemon ice cream. As for the whipped cream…

On Language The only place where people mull any more is in newspaper headlines.