Saturday, September 13, 2014

Will return November 1



The neighbor's Lhasa Apso comes over like clockwork most nights at 10:30 p.m. My husband always lets him in.

Today our friend Jeff returned to the sacraments after forty years away. Confession. Holy Mass. He said it felt too easy. Isn't mercy, if we've hidden from it, often like that? I'm restored to grace, through none of my own power?

The best working definition of the nature of evil I've heard goes something like, "Evil is the voice that tells you before you do something, that it's no big deal --- but the instant you do it, Evil tells you that same thing is unforgivable." I wonder if there's a parallel to virtue ~ does not Satan himself imply that certain pursuits are overwhelming, and then convict our efforts as falling short or being futile, in the flip of an instant?

How does the New Age prompt go --- "What would you do if you knew you could not fail?"

The good news is, all men have fallen short of the glory of God. We're in good company!

I'm tired. Gotta push Junior out the door to finish his rounds around the bluff. Stupid little dog. :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mother's Day of Healing with Fr. Michael Shields


Local readers: do not miss this day, if at all possible.

Mini-Retreat at St Michael Parish
Saturday, September 13
9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Lunch and childcare provided by AHG Troop AK1414
Palmer, Alaska

9-10 a.m.      Eucharistic Adoration and healing litanies, in the parish
10 a.m.          coffee break, downstairs
10:15 - 11:15 Talk by Father Michael
11:15-11:25   break
11:25 - 11:45 Question & Answer with Father
(written questions accepted anonymously during the morning, in-person questions welcome as well)
11:45-1 p.m. lunch and fellowship
1-2 p.m.         Sacrament of Reconciliation, upstairs, for those who desire

 



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Jehovah's Witnesses keep coming over

"The Catholic Church is an institution that I am bound to hold divine --- but for unbelievers proof of its divinity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight." ~ Hillaire Belloc

A few years ago I suffered a setback in my enchantment with all things Catholic. I finally saw the impenetrable bureaucracy for what it was. A priest friend sat up late, listened and studied --- he said this was good, that getting pissed and not leaving was vital to developing a mature faith.

In the matter of Timothy Cardinal Dolan and every other source of ecclesial agitation, I'm marshaling hope that it's part of being sanctified. Living in an age of penance. Being thankful for every upright soul I can learn from. My duty is to serve Our Lord by loving my family. Life can be really simple. I have no reason to be ungrateful. And a grateful heart cannot be disturbed.



The cat is gagging super loudly in a corner of the kitchen and my 'free hour' during math and Sesame Street is coming to an end.

Friday, September 5, 2014

bite-sized excellence

 
"I live in a school-warehouse-junkyard" d├ęcor ~ hah.
 
I do love Fall! bring it.
Kandinsky -- a nice girl's answer to the occasional yearning for L-S-D.

 

She makes me want better hair, among other things

...And I find it telling that my husband isn't impressed by these. Her loyalty, her verve, the elegance in private (by all accounts); in public, her dismissal of pretension and pride, refusing to be tempted by false humility --- I told him it's because he's just like her in those regards. When we learned of her recent death, we stood in the kitchen out of earshot from the kids and whispered our favorite jokes of hers from the '90s. Here's an '80s treasure.  (**update, Breitbart link)



Reading this gave context to her anger, which I sometimes found off-putting. I always loved her voice, literally and figuratively. Whatever else it might be, this is the kind of writer I aspire to be -- voice ringing so clearly. Can't you just hear her?

+++
Joan Rivers: Why Johnny Carson Never Ever Spoke to Me Again -- taken from The Hollywood Reporter

When I started out, a pretty girl did not go into comedy. If you saw a pretty girl walk into a nightclub, she was automatically a singer. Comedy was all white, older men. It was Jack Benny, Fred Allen, Bob Hope, Shelley Berman, Red Skelton ... even Amos and Andy were white men, which is hilarious if you think about it.

Phyllis Diller was happening right before me. But even Phyllis was a caricature, and I didn’t want to be a caricature. I was a college graduate; I wanted to get married.
I didn’t even want to be a comedian. Nobody wanted to be a comedian. Nowadays, everyone wants to be a comedian. You look at a Whitney Cummings, who is so beautiful -- she wanted to be a comedian! I wanted to be an actress. I was an office temp when one secretary said to me: “You’re very funny. You should go do stand-up, be a comedian. They make $6 a night some places.” And I said, “That’s more than I’m making as an office temp” -- I made eight, but I had to also pay for my Correcto-Type because I was a lousy speller -- so I thought, “Oh, I could do that and have days free to make the rounds.” And that’s why I became a comedian.

I had no idea what I was doing. The white men were doing “mother-in-law” and “my wife’s so fat …” jokes. It was all interchangeable. Bob Hope would walk into a town and say, “The traffic lights in this town are so slow that ...” and it could be any town. When I went onstage, that just didn’t feel right. So I just said, “Let me talk about my life.” It was at the moment when Woody Allen was saying, “Let me talk about my life,” and George Carlin was saying, “Maybe I'll talk about my life.” So I came in at the right moment.

My group was Woody and George and Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby. Rodney Dangerfield. Dick Cavett. All the ones who were coming up at the same time. But I never was one of the guys. I was never asked to go hang out; I never thought about it until later. They would all go to the Stage Delicatessen afterward and talk. I never got to go uptown and have a sandwich with them. So, even though I was with them, I wasn’t with them.

Everybody broke through ahead of me. I was the last one in the group to break through, or to be allowed to break through. Looking back, I think it was because I was a woman. Because in those days, they would come down to the Village and look at you for Johnny Carson. I was the very last one of the group they put on the Carson show.

I was brought up seven times to the Carson show -- interviewed and auditioned seven times by seven different people, and they rejected me, each time, over a period of three years. Then Bill Cosby was filling in, and the comedian that night bombed. Bill said to the booking producer, Shelly Schultz: “Joan Rivers couldn’t be any worse than this guy. Why don’t you use her?” And that’s when they put me on the show. But they didn’t bring me on as a stand-up comic. They brought me on as a funny girl writer. I’m the only stand-up that never did a stand-up routine on the Carson show.

Carson, give him credit, said on air in 1965, “You’re gonna be a star.” Right smack on the air.
I adored Johnny. In the ’70s, I did opening monologues, I was hosting. The turning point was when I left the show. Everybody left the show to go to do their own shows. Bill Cosby. David Brenner. George Carlin. Everybody. I stuck around for 18 years. And they finally offered me my own late-night show.

The first person I called was Johnny, and he hung up on me -- and never, ever spoke to me again. And then denied that I called him. I couldn’t figure it out. I would see him in a restaurant and go over and say hello. He wouldn’t talk to me.
I kept saying, “I don’t understand, why is he mad?” He was not angry at anybody else. I think he really felt because I was a woman that I just was his. That I wouldn’t leave him. I know this sounds very warped. But I don’t understand otherwise what was going on. For years, I thought that maybe he liked me better than the others. But I think it was a question of, “I found you, and you’re my property.” He didn’t like that as a woman, I went up against him.

And I was put up against him. In the press, he said, “She didn’t call me, and she was so terrible.” When you’ve told the truth and you read a lie, there’s nothing you can do about it. To this day, I’m very angry about that. Don’t f---in’ lie. You’re making, what, $300 million a year? What are you talking about? And I was going on Fox. Fox didn’t even have call letters at that point. Fox wasn’t Fox. Fox was six stupid little stations.

Looking back, and I never like to say it, the Carson breakup hurt me a lot, without realizing it. Even now, with our reality show Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best? or Fashion Police, when I say, “No, this is wrong,” people say: “See? She is a bitch. She is a c---.” If I were a man, they’d say: “So brilliant. He’s tough, but he’s right.” Nobody ever says to me, “You’re right.”
I have a friend. She was a producer at NBC and so brilliant. And they fired her because she was very abrasive. Lorne Michaels has a reputation of being a tough nut. But they all say, “That Lorne, he’s mean, but he’s brilliant.”

This woman, they said, “Oh, she’s too nasty.” But she pulled in the numbers.

It’s very tough in the business. My act consists of my gown that I carry and two spotlights and a microphone. I’ll do my sound check, and sometimes they’re not happy when I say, “The sound isn’t right,” or “Can we try other lights?” Because they’re men at the board. And lighting is very key for a woman, especially. I’ve been in the business almost 50 years -- I know my f---ing lighting. And there is always pushback from the lighting people. They just don’t want to hear it from a woman. They just don’t want to give you that cookie.

I don’t want to hear that male comics want someone to match wits with. No, they don’t. They want someone to sit there and gaze at them adoringly. That’s still what they want. The upside is, they don’t get to wear the pretty clothes. They don’t get to have the pretty dressing room. Women comedians get the private bathroom first.

During women’s lib, which was at its height in the ’70s, you had to say: “F--- the men. I could do better.” I think women did themselves a disservice because they wouldn’t talk about reality. Nobody wanted to say, “I had a lousy date” or “He left me.” But if that’s your life, that’s what they wanna hear. If you look around, very few women comics came out of the ’70s. It really started again in the ’90s, when they realized, it’s all right to say you wanna get married. It’s all right to say I wanna be pretty. That’s also part of your life. Thank God. Because now you know, we’ve got Whitney. I love Whitney. I think what she does is so smart. Sarah Silverman, oh my God. You just look at them and go: Good girls.

I love stand-up -- the connection with an audience is awesome. I just played Royal Albert Hall, which is 4,500 people, probably not a lot for some. But for me, it was amazing. The energy! From the beginning, and to this day, I would never tell a lie onstage. So now I walk out, I go, “I’m so happy to see you,” and I really truly am so happy to see them. The one thing I brought to this business is speaking the absolute truth. Say only what you really feel about the subject. And that’s too bad if they don’t like it. That’s what comedy is. It’s you telling the truth as you see it.

I think it was Cosby who also said to me, “If only 2 percent of the world thinks you’re funny, you’ll still fill stadiums for the rest of your life.”

My advice to women comedians is: First of all, don’t worry about the money. Love the process. You don’t know when it’s gonna happen. Louis C.K. started hitting in his 40s; he’d been doing it for 20 years. And don’t settle. I don’t want to ever hear, “It’s good enough.” Then it’s not good enough. Don’t ever underestimate your audience. They can tell when it isn’t true. Also: Ignore your competition. A Mafia guy in Vegas gave me this advice: “Run your own race, put on your blinders.” Don’t worry about how others are doing. Something better will come.

Ignore aging: Comedy is the one place it doesn’t matter. It matters in singing because the voice goes. It matters certainly in acting because you’re no longer the sexpot. But in comedy, if you can tell a joke, they will gather around your deathbed. If you’re funny, you’re funny. Isn’t that wonderful?
If there is a secret to being a comedian, it’s just loving what you do. It is my drug of choice. I don’t need real drugs. I don’t need liquor. It’s the joy that I get performing. That is my rush. I get it nowhere else.

What pleasure you feel when you’ve kept people happy for an hour and a half. They’ve forgotten their troubles. It’s great. There’s nothing like it in the world. When everybody’s laughing, it’s a party. And then you get a check at the end. That’s very nice.
+ + +

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

for Amber, our own Auntie Leila --- who brings domesticity everywhere she goes

"... to be fair, some cocktails contain fruit."

and Alaska in the news!

Tonight we're joining the viewers of Yukon Men and having friends over for pizza.

This morning eighty pounds of school supplies arrived with the mailman, Ray, who kept apologizing that his bum knee meant he couldn't lug the boxes up our steps. The 1982 song 'Gloria' was blasting from his USPS jeep. I still want to write a book about the history of mail delivery in our great state, but if there's one barometer of my mania, it's the planning! of all the projects! Fall is the perfect time to settle in to the real (sometimes stifling) challenge of home's own rhythms.






Sunday, August 31, 2014

the mouthy and the merciful

Mrs. Obama and her daughters
By some mystery, my browser homepage was changed to MSNBC recently, so rather than learn how to fix it I've been indulging in their glossy spin. It's fun to read news from an entirely different source than I would normally.

This blog post came through my email today, and it's gorgeous and convicting as usual. Pope Francis recently used the term 'a bitter zeal' in a homily, which apparently belongs to the ancient St. James. God save me from having a pretentious faith, because aside from the obvious blindness and harm to my own soul, that's no way to attract anyone to the Gospel. My dad always told me essentially this when I got flustered about interpersonal stuff --- it takes all different kinds of people to make the world go 'round. My father-in-law once said something similar to a friend of ours who was a new recruit for the APD (he himself being a veteran of LAPD), "Just put your head down and do your part". I had never heard that phrasing and was puzzled ~ didn't he mean hold your head high and go be a big bad cop? All good advice from men who have weathered four or five decades of getting stuff done in groups of fallible humans.

Speaking of the police, I met a guy last night who has been camped out in his car at the local grocery store. He ran out of meth a few days ago. He said he just hunkered down in a damp sleeping bag and kept passing out whenever he tried to read the Bible. Nearing desperation, he chased down a pair of cops who had previously tried to wake him up in the Carrs parking lot. He ran after them on foot, claiming he had drugs and that they had forgotten to search him. The officers were incredulous, but one took him under his wing, helped him toss his pipe, drove him to a late-night 12-step meeting, and has even employed him with odd jobs for the past few days. No paperwork was filed or charges pressed. I hope he keeps coming back. Father Martin gives a rousing ode to the prayers of a scared addict --- "Don't ever discount the prayers you said when you were drunk. A hurting heart is closest to God than any other. Those were the best prayers you ever prayed." That policeman has done something grand, humane, and risky. Soli deo Gloria.

Hoda & the lil' Giff taking breathalyzers
I can't even believe Dwija is considering moving. I wonder if the people who buy her house will be weirded out that there's an entire blog dedicated to their house? Funny quirk of living in the Internet age, you never quite know when you step on documented ground. Real estate sales involve those tiresome disclosure forms, about lead paint, crimes or malfunctions on the property. Sellers even have to disclose paranormal activity like suspected hauntings. I imagine those concerns will soon grow to include potential privacy violations or previous media exposure.

And I don't care much for the First Lady's chosen dress at her chef's wedding, PS! (although I liked how she and her girls were coordinated.)

Reading MSNBC reminds me of one winter when Anthony and I found ourselves in the habit of watching the Today Show every morning as we stared slack-jawed over coffee mugs at the frigid yard outside. The show's cacophony was warm, sedating and a little hedonistic ("...is Kathi Lee drinking Tanqueray at 6 a.m.? well, this is fun.") My husband sighed, "it's the dead of February and I feel like I'm trapped in a dentist's office, with old issues of People magazine come to life. Part of me is humiliated, and part of me never wants this to end." :)

But, look ~ here! Life can be simple, even when pierced by great evil.