Manly-Man(-ish) Weekend

Back from the wilds of Livermore, after making the arduous 50 minute drive from the badlands of Del Valle Regional Park. Annual school camping trip, maybe 50 people involved. We were packed into the Dodge minivan like, well, like 5 people with more gear and supplies per person for a 2-night camp over than Amundsen’s expedition needed to reach the South Pole. Maybe I exaggerate slightly. We had no sled dogs.

We had to make do with a water spigot that was one hundred feet from the primitive wooden picnic tables – at least! – and uphill to boot! The nearest store was a 5 minute drive away, and the flush toilets were, um, primitive. We had to haul our gear and supplies 75 or more yards from the paved parking. The built-in charcoal grills could have used a good scrubbing. Our party was limited to merely 2 choices of salsa, both medium. No cell reception at all!!

So we were roughing it.

Something like this. 

Then, Saturday evening, I was called upon to slice tomatoes for hamburgers, using only primitive tools – the kind of cheap knives one throws into the camping gear to get them out of the knife drawer. I tested the sharpest-looking knife – an orange-coated, orange-handled kitchen knife with its own orange plastic cover – on an innocent store-bought tomato to no effect besides indenting the skin a little. Push any harder, and it’s impromptu puree.

What, in a proper roughing it state of mind, to do? In a moment that woulda made Jim Bowie proud, I scanned the landscape, and found a small rock with one flat side. Washed it off (OK, Jim Bowie might not have been proud of that – he’da probably just spit on it) and used it to sharpen that orange abomination until I was slicing some (heavy duty construction) paper-thin tomato slices.

Flush with success, I considered the next obvious step: living off the land, or perhaps, water: the reservoir has trout, bass, catfish, striped bass and, it is rumored, a sturgeon or two. With a mere plus or minus $150 investment in gear, bait, licenses and permits, I could, like an old time old-timer, catch and slay one or more of the piscine creatures, use my freshly sharpened knife to clean it, and throw it on a fire of store-bought insta-lighting charcoal and voila! Moving into Lewis and Clark territory!

But I didn’t want to show up the other dads.

Anyway, had time for reading! Woohoo!! Will review Storyhack Issue 0 and Belloc’s Europe and the Faith in the next day or two. Short and sweet: Both are excellent after the manner of their kind, and highly recommended.

 

 

In Search of More Grounded Bumper Stickers

It’s still Easter – He is Risen! – so trying to keep it light(er). Yet my brain is full – it’s the getting stuff out and into words part that’s the challenge. Have been reading Lafferty’s Fall of Rome. Wonderful, wish I had had it years ago to read to the kids – it’s that entertaining, even an 8 year old could get into it.

Writing about Lafferty a) requires some effort, and b) would be more than a little premature, as I’m only a few dozen pages in. Instead, how about some catchy phrases suitable for bumper sticker use, that reflect a more, shall we say, reality-based approach to life than the ones I’m currently seeing out here in Northern California?

For your possible amusement. Feel free to use and share however you see fit:

BS #1

BS #2

BS #3

Catholic Schools Week: A Modest Proposal

Image result for big children's choir
Children’s Choir of Russia. No reason. Bet they sing better music…

(Usual disclaimer about how all the people involved are no doubt better Christians than me, no hard feelings, just calling it as I see it.)

Got blindsided this morning at Mass, as it is Catholic Schools Week, and not having any kids in K-12 Catholic schools, I didn’t see it coming.

What ‘it’ is is all the schoolkids and their parents showing up for the same Mass. This Mass includes several homilies/sermons – the normal one after the Gospel, as well as a pre-Mass sermon about what we’re all celebrating today (hint: Our Lord and Savior’s redeeming sacrifice as manifested on the altar didn’t seem to figure prominently) and the post-Mass sermon wherein we recognize and thank all sorts of people and remind everyone that there will be donuts and coffee at the school’s open house after Mass.

Remember the part in the V-II documents wherein Mass is supposed to contain performances, musical and otherwise, by kids at every opportunity, because nothing says ‘full, active participation’ like listening to children sing goofy social justice songs during Mass?

Me neither.

On the good side, the children’s choir is much better at this parish than the average in my experience, and they even – amazing! – sang some Latin commons. Whoa. This is not to be discounted – that these kids have learned some beautiful music could change their lives. A very good thing.

But the first and last songs, which nobody except the kids in the choir knew and for which no music or text was supplied, sang about ending discrimination and achieving justice. God may have been mentioned at some point, don’t know, I was kind of not listening after a while out of self-defense.

I If anyone ever wonders why we didn’t send our kids to Catholic K-12 schools, well, this about sums it up.

Anyway, as a public service, thought I’d write a song I’d like the little darlings to learn, and sing every morning right after the Pledge of Allegiance and never, ever sing at Mass:

The I’m Not All That and  Need to Lean Something Song

O my head is empty,

There’s nothing inside.

And teacher’s no better

There’s no place to hide!

Oy Vey! Oy Vey! My head is empty!

Oy Vey! Oy Vey! I don’t know a thing.

There’s no shame in saying

I don’t have a clue

I am still quite little

Now, how about you?

Oy Vey! Oy Vey! My head is empty!

Oy Vey! Oy Vey! I don’t know a thing.

If I pay attention

And read stuff that’s old

I might just learn something

Before my body’s cold.

Oy Vey! Oy Vey! My head is empty!

Oy Vey! Oy Vey! I don’t know a thing.

Needs work.

Here’s another ditty, sung, perhaps, to Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Alles Praise the Lord, Ye Heavens Adore Him. Or not. Trying to reach kids where they are. Suitable for no occasions.

Lord Have Mercy! I’m a Clueless Punk

Lord, Have Mercy, I’m a clueless punk

Not surprising, since I am 10

I’ve been plied from birth with hippy bunk

Same as mom and dad and their kin

Now we make believe

Truth we can retrieve

If we spout the buzzwords right!

Lord, enlighten me!

I would like to see

What in particular’s OK in Your sight.

You’re my friend, Lord Jesus, that I got –

Not as fun as Maddy or James

This whole church thing, fun it’s surely not.

Why can’t we play video games?

Once each month or two

Motions going through

Grandma thinks there is a point!

No theology!

Never bended knee!

All my friends want to blow this joint.

Still, My Lord, I think there’s something

To this praying, kneeling and stuff

You have plans, I get the feeling

Being sort of nice ain’t enough

When I reach the end

I will need a Friend

more than just the final boss!

Help me win this game

Life is not the same

When you look down from that Cross