Saturday, February 28, 2015

RIP Mr. Spock

Leonard Nimoy has gone home. He live to a good age; I hope he's at peace.

When I was young, I loved Star Trek, and Nimoy's Spock was my favorite character.

I also loved this recent ad he did with the man who played Spock in the Star Trek reboot -

And then there's this ...

Pax et bonum

In Honor of the Controversial Squirrel Slam in Holley: Squirrels (horror)

Pax et bonum

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Bad Haiku Friday - Memories

Years ago there was a fellow blogger, Laura, who had a site called Catholic Teacher Musings. Alas, she stopped blogging: problems with having a blog and parents finding it. Not that she ever said anything really bad, but so it goes.

One of the things she did was sponsor Bad Haiku Fridays. A group of us regularly submitted bad haiku. She even held a contest one year for bad haiku Christmas poems - which I won!

I found some of the haiku I submitted for that contest, and for Bad Haiku Fridays in general.

Enjoy - if that's possible!

joyful students race
into class ready to learn -
my alarm clock rings

a new credit card
a mall in driving distance -
bad combination

a trip to the mall
is one of the five pillars
of consumerism

so-called "real housewives"
provide a good argument
for easy divorce

Bethenny chose to
entertain us with her lack
of shame and good taste

the next top model
wannabees reinforce those
old stereotypes

reality shows
help to distort perceptions
of what's really real

writing about slugs
each day may seem weird to some
but it's what I do

watching the snow storms
miss us again and again -
was the groundhog wrong?

after dire forecasts
"bad storm" leaves just two inches -
snow day dreams are dashed

leftover chili
with cheese on tortilla chips -
wife need never know

Birthday shotgun

Clem’s birthday shotgun
provided the Christmas feast –
Rudolph’s final flight


Aunt Ann’s old fruitcake
arrived for Christmas again
(no, not Uncle Ed)

Scurry Christmas

over the river
and through the woods we scurry –
in-laws still find us

What’s the poop?

Next year, Santa, please
along with your reindeer bring
a pooper scooper

Stale Cookies

finding stale cookies
Santa raids the cheapskate’s fridge –
ah, a pecan pie


folks in their beds with
visions of credit card bills
dancing in their heads

Gingerbread cookies

half-eaten cookie
clutched in Santa’s stiff fingers –
wicked witch cackles

Ned makes the naughty list

prone beneath the tree
an unconscious Santa Claus –
Ned’s booby trap worked

Beep … beep

Christmas morning Mass –
during Father’s homily
beeps from new game boys

Practical joke

practical joke with
Ex Lax explains why reindeer’s
nickname was “Dumper”

Teacher in-service -
doodling and nodding off
during the lecture

probing owl pellets
students totally grossed out
but fascinated

study hall lessons -
guitar for middle schoolers-
striking the right chord

a Lila Rose grad
uncovers ACORN aiding
prostitution scam

bad low-budget film
pimp and prostitute reveal
ACORN’s true values

ACORN has been caught –
still more friends of Obama
who said, “Nuts to you.”

my doctor prescribes
fewer sweets, more exercise -
why I avoid him

Buffalo Bills fans
grateful last night's game not shown -
"NEXT year" cries begin

You know team is bad
when winless Detroit beats them -
coach checks resume

retirement plan if
Social Security fails -
lottery tickets.

summer break over
teacher meetings start next week -
when's the first snow day?

fat claustrophobic
drives a sub-compact -
masochistic too

loud atv
up and down, up and down street -
9-1-1, hello ...

Walmart's June specials -
wedding gowns, rice
and shotgun shells

watching the dog show
out of chips, pretzels, popcorn -
dog shares her biscuits

teachers consider
district's new stricter rules -
lots of wiggling

set to bite my bread
I stop when one raisin moves -
the ants are back

Archie Bunker said,
"You don't buy beer. You rent it."
White House beer summit

another rain storm -
this year's garden features
mud and drowned plants

vocal camp advice
leads to a difficult choice:
coffee, or singing?

broken tooth fits
my body's trend of late -
middle-aged blues

truck's bumper sticker
"Watch for Motorcycles"
above large dent

graduation day -
staff barely contains glee as
SHE crosses the stage

Pax et bonum

"Romeo and Juliet" with a homosexual twist - how cliche these days

When I first spotted "A `Romeo and Juliet' reboot from Rochester playwright" in our local newspaper, I was immediately interested. After all, I've taught the play for years; might this be something I could mention to my students who just finished reading the play?

Then I saw the caption under the photo with the article. It mentions a "repressive all-boys Catholic school." Red flags went up. My first thought was, "What decade is this from?" More Catholic bashing seemed in the works.

I started reading the article. Buzz words like "contemporary setting" and "new conflict" showed up in the first paragraph. Contemporary? When it has the tired and horribly out-dated "repressive" Catholic school setting? Only if by "contemporary" you mean 40 or 50 years ago. And it turns out it was written about 18 years ago when it was trendy to bash things Catholic.

More red flags.

When I saw that the school forbid students to read Shakespeare, I thought, heck, given the state of education today Catholic schools are often the only ones who still tackle challenging texts like Shakespeare.

And I began to wonder - Hmmm, Romeo and Juliet, all-boys school, secret night-time reading of the play, repressive, "their own inner struggles" - when does a homosexual theme show up? Sure enough, the playwright "added a twist" and two boys fall in "love." Twisted indeed.

Bold? Dangerous? Ha! This is so full of clich├ęs it's embarrassing. But in these let's-shove-homosexuality-in-your-face-to-try-to-make-it-seem-acceptable times, par for the course.

This is not a production I will mention to my students.

Pax et bonum

Friday, February 20, 2015

Muhammad said what????

I bought a copy of the Koran (Quran, Qur'an - I'll stick with Koran).

No, I am not thinking of converting. Nor do I plan to burn it or desecrate it in any way.

But with all the current debates over Islam and claims about what the Koran says, I figured it would be good to have a copy so I can check things.

I looked at several different translations - consider all the Bible choices! - and not sure which one is preferred, official, authoritative, I picked a Penguin one with an N. J. Dawood translation as I've found Penguin to have a good reputation.

I glanced at it, trying to figure out how it's organized. I also looked in the index for words in the news, like "jihad" or "apostasy." (No luck.) There's plenty on women and marriage and unbelievers, but I have not examined those passages yet. And where are the Satanic verses?

What I've read so far seems kind of flowery, but I guess that's the "poetic" style Muhammad adopted as he dictated his "revelations" from the angel. (At least that's how this translator chose to render his words.)

Why do I keep thinking of Joseph Smith and his "revelations" that produced the Book of Mormon?

Like the Bible, there appears to be a mix of literary styles and genres. Some might be considered "fiction" - like some people regard some biblical stories as fictional in nature. As with the Bible, these stories may be intended to illustrate and instruct. I suspect that as with some Christians and the Bible, there are some Muslims who believe the words of the Koran must all be taken literally, though.

Of course, the Christian in me bristles when that "fiction" involves Jesus. One verse has him saying, "I am sent forth to you from God to confirm the Torah already revealed, and to give news of an apostle that will come after me whose name is Ahmad (Muhammad)." (61:6). Right. Hey, I could make up a quote of Jesus saying something about "a great Secular Franciscan coming, heed his wisdom." (Or maybe I could have Basho saying, "And there is a poet called Slug to come to lead haiku into new depths.")

I did check one of the verses that supposedly sanctions the killing of apostates. The verse (4:89) does call for death, but it seems to be referring to hypocrites, not apostates. I'm not keen on the killing part in general, and I don't know if "hypocrites" can be interpreted as "apostates," but at least in this translation that does not seem to be the case.

I'm not a scholar in these matters. I know we have a hard enough time with varied translations and interpretations of the Bible.

So I'll continue to check it out and use it as a reference book, maybe do some research.

One thing I do like is that each sura (chapter?) begins, "In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful."

Nice. Sounds almost Franciscan!

Pax et bonum

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The annual Sports Illustrated porn issue

The annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit - soft-core porn - issue is out. This one is particularly offensive because of the cover photo. The young woman, who in interviews has revealed herself to be particularly clueless, is pulling down her two-piece suit bottom to reveal part of her lower anatomy that would have been banned on prime-time television back in the days when there were standards on prime-time television.

It is pretty immodest. She is exposing the upper portion of a part of her body only her husband or a medical professional should see, and only her husband should see it exposed in this come-hither way. (It would also be an acceptable sight in a nudist colony, but there are no obvious prurient intentions there.)

Our local supermarket has it displayed on its magazine rack for all to see. Right near the books and magazines for children and teens.

The first time I saw it I complained to a manager, asking that the store display it more discretely. The manager gave me a puzzled, then sympathetic (as in, oh, you poor prude) look.

Next time went back, the anatomical feature was still flashing me. So I turned the issue around backwards. I've gone back a couple of times. Each time being flashed. Each time turning it around. Today I turned it around, then put a put a different magazine in front of it.

I will continue to do things like this. And to complain.

After all, I am a poor prude.

Pax et bonum

Feel called by God to be a Secular Franciscan?

One of the best decisions of my life was to become a Secular Franciscan. Perhaps others feel this call from God.  Here are some guidelines form the National Fraternity about the process.

The process of becoming a professed Secular Franciscan is a journey that involves three separate stages and culminates in a lifelong commitment to live the gospel following the example of St. Francis of Assisi. This formation process unfolds in regularly scheduled formation sessions during which the home study material is thoroughly discussed.

The first stage, Orientation, provides time for dialogue and developing relationships in fraternity.

During Orientation you will be introduced to the lives of St. Francis and St. Clare and share in Franciscan prayer life. You will be given general information about the Secular Franciscan Order. Orientation is a time to discern if the Spirit is calling you to a Secular Franciscan vocation. The period of Orientation is a minimum of three months.

The second stage, Inquiry, is the first formal period of initiation. It is a time of in-depth study of the lives of St. Francis and St. Clare. During Inquiry you will learn about the Franciscan charism and Franciscan history. You will deepen your understanding of what it means to be secular and Franciscan, and you will continue to discern if the Spirit is calling you to the Secular Franciscan way of life. The period of Inquiry is a minimum of six months. If a vocation is discerned, the Inquirer is received into the Order.

The third stage, Candidacy, is the final formal period of initiation. It is a time of preparing for permanent commitment by immersion into fraternity life. Central to this stage of formation is Article 4 of The Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order which states, "The rule and life of the Secular Franciscan is this: to observe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following Saint Francis of Assisi, who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people." The period of Candidacy is a minimum of eighteen months and culminates in permanent commitment to the gospel life.

After profession of the Rule and permanent commitment to the gospel way of life, the newly professed member joins the rest of the fraternity in ongoing formation.

- As you can see, it takes time (at least 27 months) and formation. But don't let that discourage you - and you can attend fraternity meetings for as long as you want to check things out before beginning the formation process.

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

On Ash Wednesday ... I think of Christmas

While at Mass this morning for Ash Wednesday, for some reason Christmas entered my mind.

Ash Wednesday is the first day of the Lenten season, a season of prayer and repentance. But it leads us up to Easter, which is with Christmas one of the two most recognized "Christian" joyful holy days. They are days of celebration and rejoicing.

And then I thought of my Christmas stories and poems. I'd written them over a number of years, sometimes as a verse to go in our Christmas cards, or as a story to sent out to others for Christmas. One group of poems was even composed for a "bad haiku" contest - which, I won (if "won" the right word!).

They are a mixed bag. I like several of the stories - one set during the civil war, one a first Christmas biblical fable, one about a ghostly Santa - and a few of the poems are decent ("A Mall Santa's Prayer," for example.

I'd compiled them together in a file, thinking some day to revise them, polish them, and try to publish them as a collection. Four stories, some 20 short poems. There's also a partly written story I could finish.

This collection is one of several I've considered. One collection would be of short poems - haiku, clerihews and limericks. One would be of slug poems. And the Christmas collection.

They all have their pluses. There's also drawbacks. Some of the stories and poems might still be publishable separately. Do I pursue individual publication - or do I just go ahead and put together one of the collections for Christmas this year? This summer would be the time to prepare any one collection.

Thinking about this is certainly much more fun than grading papers.

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I'm falling

Okay, typical guy.

There was a buildup of ice on the roof. I went up a ladder to chop away some big icicles. A big chunk broke away, hit me, knocked me off the ladder. I fell about 10-12 feet, hit the snow-covered walkway.

Bruises and cuts. Swelling at wrist. Painful bruise under thumbnail. The worst is my left knee. Hard to get up or down from chairs/the couch. Slow walking, uncomfortable to stand. Fortunately, I'm off work this week.

I'm waiting to see if the pain continues; if so, I'll go to the immediate care place for an x-ray.

Didn't tell the wife. She worries a lot, voices it frequently. If she knows I fell, she'd never let me forget it.

 Typical guy. 

Pax et bonum

Saturday, February 14, 2015

I am a leper

We went to Mass today because of the forecast for tomorrow. Two of the readings dealt with lepers, and the deacon did a good job preaching about them.

He got me thinking.

We all have blemishes - moral failings that constitute spiritual leprosy.

Those blemishes can be cleaned by God. Like the leper in the Gospel, we need only go to Him.

Until we do, though, we are contagious. That's why the Jews in the OT reading, based on how they understood the disease, called for lepers to be separated from other people (in a way similar to the quarantining done to those who had contact with Ebola last fall, the deacon noted.)

I have many blemishes - my sarcasm, my judgmentalism, my resentment, just to name three. When they go unchecked, I can infect others, anger them, hurt them, lead them to sin.

I need to be careful around others. And I need to go like the leper and ask God to heal me.

The Gospel reading is one of hope. Thank you Lord for your healing love.

Pax et bonum

Singing is praying twice

Leading the fraternity in song.

Pax et bonum

Friday, February 13, 2015

Brian Williams is just the tip

Brian Williams has been suspended for stretching the truth.

Okay - he lied repeatedly.

As a former journalist and editor, I understand fully why he was suspended. Were I his editor, I would have punished him in a similar way (if not even stronger). Indeed, there is a chance he might be let go somewhere down the road, especially if they find more problems with the truth in his reporting or his stories about reporting.

But to be honest, this story just strikes me as more of the same when it comes to the news media. I have grown more and more disillusioned with an industry I was involved with for two decades. There's so much bias, so much selective reporting, so much reposting of false information.

And that's just the so-called legitimate news services. Don't get me started on the partisan on-line outlets.

Just last Monday, CBS Evening News began its broadcast with a completely biased report about the homosexual marriage news in Alabama. I played the piece for my AP students, who analyzed all the ethos, logos, pathos, imagery, and diction - the crying "I-love-you" two men, the use of "civil rights," the George Wallace clip, and more - and they came to the conclusion that what was supposed to be an objective news report was clearly slanted in favor of homosexual marriage.

Such reporting is typical - as are the biased reports about abortion, the Robertsons, Huckabee, the Catholic Church, and so much more.

Beyond the bias, there's so much more fluff, superficial reporting, tacit endorsement of immoral behavior, even ignorance that comes through.

I'm watching less and less news. The American news services - all of them - are simply not "fair and objective."

I'm glad I'm not part of that industry any more.

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Doherty's "Urodivoi: Holy Fools" - Maybe it's me

I finished Urodivoi: Holy Fools by Catherine Doherty.

Having enjoyed some of her other books, I had high hopes for this one as a book for spiritual reading. I wish I could say I enjoyed it, but it was a struggle. Maybe it's me.

The book was more of a vision than a straight forward essay or narrative. I had a hard time following it or staying focused. I found it repetitive at times.

I had to force myself to finish it.

Again, it could be me. Maybe I wasn't ready for it. Maybe it wasn't the right time for it.

I don't know.

It won't stop me from reading more of her books, but I think I'll wait a while to tackle another one.

Pax et bonum

Monday, February 2, 2015

"Why Not Me" - An Afflicted Teen Novel

Jacob was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that ... This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.

Okay, yes, I copped that from Dickens.

But Jacob really was dead. So were Angie, Gramps, Melody, Q-Tip (don't know why) and Ben. And Chris (guy), Chris (gal) and Donna are on their way, with a combined life expectancy of about three months, give or take.

As for me, no death sentence. No sword hanging over my head. No ticking clock, other than the one that likely allots me the proverbial three score and ten, or, given my family's genetics  - Gramps was an exception - four score and ten to fifteen.

I am tragically healthy. The only shadows on my medical record are paper cuts, a bad cold last winter, and a broken finger when I was five.

It's not fair.

Everyone seems to have ingredients for a YA novel except me. Everyone seems to have the materials for a clean-out-the-tissue-box movie except me.

I'm a good student. I made the basketball team along with my best friend. I have a number of friends, in fact, all of who are doing well. I'm about the right weight for my height. I have only occasional pimples. My teeth are fine so I didn't need braces.

As for my family, my parents aren't divorced. They even really like each other; sometimes they hold hands in public. No one in my family has any major illnesses. When they die, it's always at a ripe old age, except Gramps, but that was a special case. My whole family goes to church every Sunday, we help in our church's food pantry every few weeks, and my parents are on church committees. My older brother went to college on academic scholarships and is doing well. My younger sister is involved in Girl Scouts and goes to summer camp where she has a blast and doesn't get homesick. I used to go to summer camp where I had a blast and never got homesick.

This is all so not right.

And all those people who died or are dying? I know of them, but don't really know any of them very well. The closest was Jacob, who was an acquaintance of my brother and who once helped me figure out a math problem. That was our only contact. So my involvement with all of the deceased is the announcement about grief counselors at school.

Not that I ever needed counselors. When I feel a good depression building up, suddenly I see a kitten or hear a bird and I feel happy. Darn.

Oh, yeah: I don't swear either, not even out of ignorance or a desire to shock.

The tragedy of my life is that I have no tragedies in it.

So when I read all the YA books and see all the teen movies I'm supposed to read or see to work up a good crying jag (that never happens), I say to myself: Why not me?

Pax et bonum