Archive for category Religion
In case you missed it, word on the street is that Pope Benedict XVI, who rocks a not-unimportant role in the view of the world’s one billion Catholics, woke up yesterday with a bit of a case of the Mondays. But where the rest of us have to deal with the start of a new work week by playing hooky a bit via an early lunch and hopefully scoring coffee from (circa-1996) Jennifer Anniston, the Pope did the other thing we’d like to do when Monday rears its ugly head.
He put in his two weeks’ notice.
Of course, everybody everywhere, upon hearing this news, immediately went, “Wait…whut? Resigned? Popes don’t resign. Can he even do that?”
Although I’ve always been a member of the quiet minority when it comes to this, I’ve still never hesitated to make my opinion known on the subject the annual summer church festival. In the Cincinnati area, there are something like a godecajillion (that’s a rough estimate) Roman Catholics, and it often seems like there’s a church for every 10 of us. And every last one of them has some form of festival through the course of the summer and/or fall.
They’re pretty German in concept, typically, with plenty of beer, music, unregulated carny games and rides sausage -style meats, and a general sense of Gemutlichkeit*. And while that seems like something a fellow like me would appreciate, as it turns out, I can’t stand the things.
I know, I don’t get it either.
At any rate, this past weekend our parish had its yearly festival, which I find myself duty-bound to attend each August. You know, because while the Puddinette might let my festival curmudgeonness roll for the rest of the summer, she’s as like to drive me to the middle of nowhere and leave me with nothing but a hunk of moldering cheese and a bottle of ranch dressing as let the kids miss out on festival fun at our own church.
However, this year, I finally, FINALLY found something redeeming about these church festivals that everyone else seems to love so much: doughnuts.
Wait, I don’t think you understand…
Lest you be a bit confused, I’m not talking about your standard dozen from that guy that’s all, you know, “Time to make the donuts.” No, no, no.
I mean, slightly warm and somehow crispy/crunchy yet soft and cloud-like in the middle like the-most-perfect-little-slightly-sweet-hunk-of-fried-dough-ever-shoved-gleefully-in-someone’s-cakehole doughnuts.
Here’s the thing: when I was younger, I loved me some doughnuts. I couldn’t get enough blueberry cakes or chocolate or carmel-iced things. As a adult, though, I seem to have reached a point where I’m decidedly meh about the things. Truth is, most of the doughnuts I’ve purchased in the last few years left my mouth covered with a slick, greasy feeling, and I swear I could taste the, um, “processing”.
It’s gotten to the point where that pink and white box kind of turns my stomach (no, not the one the lacey underthings come in).
Thankfully, at last, the annual church festival has restored my faith (see what I did there?) in the glory of fried bits of sweet dough. I mean, I mentioned that they were warm and soft and covered in just the right amount of cinnamon sugar or powered sugar, right?
I might have just drooled on my shirt. Barring confirmation of that from a secondary source, though, I’m going to deny it.
So, am I in love with the annual parish summer festival now? Goodness, no. I still feel like I had my wallet extracted by a industrial crane that didn’t even bother to buy me dinner or ply me with alcohol. But the holy doughnuts did make the experience somewhat less painful, and at least I’ll have something to look forward to this time next year.
Also, I think it might be time to try my hand at a little homemade doughnut production. Because, in the immortal words of Homer Simpson, “Mmmm…dooooonuts”
*a German word, roughly translated as “festive hospitality”
As an amateur bloggerist, er, whatever, it is incumbent upon me to attempt to provide an insightful, possibly witty post about something like carpenter ants, last night Game of Thrones premiere, or, I don’t know, how the Puddinette has sworn to curse to the afterlife and beyond if I don’t stop snoring like a hippopotamus with a head cold on a nightly basis. Unfortunately, today there will be no such post.
I’m much to preoccupied with today’s sporting topics to write a decent post. As if UK tipping off for an 8th NCAA National Championship in just under two hours isn’t enough (more on that in a minute), reports from Major League Baseball are saying that the Reds either have already signed or are close to signing Joey Votto to an extension though 2023.
Image courtesy Cincinnati.com
Considering it was nearly a foregone conclusion that Votto would be traded mid-season because, as the 2010 MVP, retaining his services long term would be cost prohibitive for a small market team like the Reds, this is incredibly exciting news. Of course, it could mean that the Reds won’t have to money to pay Brandon Phillips what he’s going be asking at the end of contract this season, but if you can only keep one, I suppose keeping the league MVP is a good place to start.
So, with Opening Day a mere three days away and now this, it’s hard not to think about baseball constantly.
Then again, there is the whole matter of the NCAA Tournament Championship game tonight. The Wildcats are favored, and let’s all be honest here, it’s completely their game to lose. Still, anything can happen in one game (see: 1980 Olympic Gold Medal Hockey game), so it’s a bit early to start measuring for that new banner for Rupp Arena.
Image courtesy ukathletics.com
None of that is my problem, though. My problem is that I’ve only got about an hour and a half to decide if I’m going to watch the game. I know, I know, how can I not? But if you’ll recall, I’m not the luckiest penny when watching UK basketball games. I haven’t seen a game since the end of the SEC Tournament, and that’s worked out pretty well so far. Then again, can I really not watch the game with an 8th Championship hanging in the balance? What could I possibly do with myself during that time if I didn’t, and could I look at myself in the mirror as even a moderate UK fan in the future?
What if I watched the game and the unthinkable happened (words I will not even commit to print)? My son, a hardcore member of the Big Blue Nation Youth, is shivering with delight as tip-off gets closer. His eyes are alight with the kind of religious fervor typically only seen in perspiring young men at country tent revivals and old ladies watching hypocritical televangelists begging for Nanna’s Social Security check. He knows about my, um, history watching UK play on TV. I’m not sure I could live with myself if I had to watch that excitement in his eyes change, to be leveled with a look of bitter accusation*.
I guess I need to make up my mind soon. Either way, though, I have to make sure I’m ready at the end of the game. Win or lose, I’ve got an old loveseat in the basement that I’m prepared to lug upstairs and out into the streets of suburbia. Because one way or the other, there’s probably going to be furniture set on fire in the streets of the Commonwealth tonight*. And like they say, when in Rome…
Regardless, as you can see, my mind is pretty busy tonight. Not time to put together a post.
Except, um, I guess I already wrote one.
Good luck, Wildcats! Do us proud!
*I really wish that was a joke
Oh, yeah, um, and the subdued, thoughtful preparation for Easter via personal sacrifice and contemplation.
But mostly the ever-important Fish Fry.
At least here in the greater Cincinnati area where, on Friday evenings, it seems like the whole area is shoveling down breaded fish and hushpuppies (blessedly deep fried in the same oil).
It’s not all rainbows and unicorns at the Fry, if you ask me, though. For some unsettling reason, I can’t seem to find a event offering decent beer. And trust me, that’s important. Because when the fish is more frozen and pressed than fresh and battered, you’re going to need something to wash it down, and the ubiquitous “American” light lager isn’t doing it for me.
At least, that’s my opinion, which I explore in today’s Hoperatives post. So roll on over there and see what I have to say about fish fries and beer. Oh, and how I break down the annual church calendar into three basic “seasons”.
Just, maybe don’t stand to close to me for a few days, though.
You know, in case of lightning.
5 – Number of processed, frozen, chopped, formed, “breaded” fish sticks eaten Friday. Um, yay, Lent. Or something. I guess.
4 – Number of children spoiled with post-Sunday dinner spring evening Icees.
3 – Number of nights of falling asleep in my recliner for an hour or so before shuffling up to bed. Err, well, that’s a guess a moment, since I’m writing this on Sunday evening. But I’d say odds are good I fall asleep in that big comfy chair here in a few hours, long before I make it upstairs to begin plaguing the Puddinette with The Nightly Snoring.
2 – Number of times I attended Mass.
1 – Number of family weddings the Puddinette and I had to privilege to enjoy
0 – Number of UK Basketball games watched. And as the Wildcats advanced to the Final Four with a pretty commanding defeat of Baylor in the South Region Finals on Sunday, go ahead and feel free to thank me for not watching the games and potentially invoking the Puddin UK Jinx. I encourage the Big Blue Nation to send checks, money orders, small bills, or gift cards. Or, just name your first born after me. That’s cool, too.
For those of you that know me well or have been visiting here long enough to have a sense of my priorities, this weekend’s #2 item is likely to raise some eyebrows. Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement. Depending on how well and how long someone’s known me, that little particular might be enough to send him/her and their entire extended family into the underground bunker with a few tons of canned goods and a long-term water supply.
Yeah, I’m pretty sure me going to church twice in the same weekend easily would’ve once been seen as one of the Seven Signs.
But then I had kids. Kids change a lot of things.
Howzzat? Well, it’s all started when the Puddinette attempted to wake me early this morning and asked what I wanted to do about Mass. Admittedly, I don’t remember my exact response, but I believe it was, initially, “Mmrbmmr mgmhghghgfpph.”
Following what I can only assume was a quite significant sigh (of epicness), I was then, um, enthusiastically encouraged to wake up immediately, if not sooner. Also, her elbow may or may not have been employed to this end. She then asked again what I wanted to do about church.
Obviously, being Good and Lazy, and feeling smugly satisfied for already having attended Mass on Saturday for the family wedding referred to in item #1, I replied that we were good for the week. Also, that I’d be going back to sleep immediately, if not sooner, thankyouverymuch.
My lovely wife, being a properly devout Catholic, murmured, Marge Simpson-style, and then pointed out that a Saturday afternoon wedding Mass does not, regardless of one’s wishes to the contrary, fulfill the weekly obligation.
I suspect she hoped a healthy dollop of good, old-fashioned Catholic Guilt would seep in to my clearly shriveled, dark, sleep-deprived soul and take root, blossom, and grow into a willingness to get my lazy backend out of bed and Do The Right Thing. Unfortunately for her, I’ve been immune to Catholic Guilt since I was a teenager. I must’ve accidentally gotten some kind of booster vaccine for it when I was young. It’s never worked for Grammy Puddin, either.
At any rate, unconvinced, I rolled over and committed myself back to sleep.
Sometime later, the Puddinette returned to roust me again after seeing to the usual morning responsibilities, e.g, making sure the three year-old isn’t procuring his own breakfast. Oh sure, you’d think a three year-old could handle it, but somehow that typically results in a meal of 3 or more Girl Scout Dos-Si-Dos, a piece of cold, leftover pizza, a handful of marshmallows, and, if it can be reached via kitchen chair, Moose Tracks ice cream.
Anyway, when she came back, she informed me that my three older children had already dressed themselves, and all of them had chosen church-appropriate clothing without having been instructed to do so. That’s right, my kids put on the Sunday morning collared Polo shirts of their own accord.
Now, as a man hoping to have a proper lie-in, this was unfortunate news. All hope of extended laziness disappeared faster than the execution of a Kardashian pre-nuptial agreement.
As a father, hoping that at least some of the potentially questionable “wisdom” one tries to teach your kids will eventually stick, it was a banner moment. Sunday had come, and even though I’ve never met a 9, 8, or 6 year-old who really enjoyed or looked forward to Mass (I’m sorry, maybe that’s just me, but honestly, have you ever met a child that would rather be just about anywhere else?), mine have accepted the weekly practice as a matter of course.
Catholic Guilt wasn’t enough to get me out of bed and ready for church this morning, but the Parental Guilt?
Yeah, that did the trick.
So, two Masses in two days. And the world didn’t end. Well, yet, at least.
That’s means I’m up one, right?
Any chance this works like comp time?
Yesterday was Fat Tuesday. I largely let it slip past without observation this year, which is kind of unlike me – I’m not one to overlook any excuse to relax and do a little good-natured partying. Granted, Mardi Gras isn’t exactly a core tradition to someone mostly German and Scotch-Irish, but, hey, I’d celebrate Guy Fawkes Day if there was even a tenuous excuse to have a few beers.
Case in point: If I recall correctly, I made a big deal out of Cinco de Mayo a couple of years ago. For the record, it’s not like my life has been affected greatly by who won or lost the Battle of Puebla in 1862, but that hasn’t stopped me from making margaritas and dancing around under an oversized sombrero.
Anyway, because I’m old and lame, and it’s been a busy week, I skipped the Fat Tuesday revelry and instead spent the evening watching Downton Abby. Yeah, that’s right, I rock that hard. Nothing says party like kicking it with a PBS English period series.
Of course, if yesterday was Shrove Tuesday, that means today is Ash Wednesday. First admission: I’m Catholic. Second admission: I’m not really a to-the-letter-of-Roman-policy Catholic. Still, I am better about observing certain practices today than I was in my wild and crazy youth. Back in The Day, I’d roll in to work with an ugly Fat Tuesday hangover – likely still absent-mindedly wearing a string of beads or two – and be dumbfounded by the dark ashes adorning many of my coworkers.
I do live in the greater Cincinnati area, mind you, which I’m pretty sure has more practicing Catholic folks per capita than just about any other city on Earth outside of the Vatican itself*.
At any rate, in those days, once I realized the ashy forehead crosses weren’t some new-fangled body art fad, like, um, earrings and, uh, the tattoos all the kids were getting, I’d acknowledge the beginning of the Lenten season by spending 0.723 seconds considering whether I’d give anything up.
The answer was almost universally no.
It’s not that I was just being contrary and refused to participate as the basis of some kind of personal crusade or anything. It takes much too much time, energy, and passion for even that sort of activism, if you ask me. Truth is, I’ve just never really seen the point. Exactly how does giving up, I don’t know, pepperoni pizza, or coffee, or crack smoking** prepare me for the upcoming Easter season?
I do have to admit that it’s a pretty timely thing, though. Just as everyone has officially thrown in the old white towel on those New Year’s resolutions to get fit, quit smoking, or stop parading around the neighborhood in a full Nell Carter costume at 3 am, here’s this brand spanking new opportunity to make some a sacrifice and better ourselves. So if you’re down on yourself for giving in already, you’ve got a clean slate and another shot.
To me, though it seems like there are other, better ways I could be more serious about Easter. Like maybe by being a better person all the way around; be slower to anger, quicker to forgive, less judgmental, more accepting.
Yeah, I like that idea.
So tell me, are you giving up something for Lent this year? Me, I just made up my mind.
I’m giving up being a jerk.
Man, it’s going to be a long 40 days.
*Almost certainly not true at all. I make facts up to suit me, as needed.
**Just kidding. Obviously that’d be a good first step for Easter.