Improvised
Musings of a 30ish Midwestern Catholic Improv Guy.


Friday, December 23, 2005  

Christmas Meme

Decided to do this ahead of the meme...

1. Hot chocolate or apple cider? Hot chocolate.

2. Turkey or Ham? Ham.

3. Do you get a Fake or Real you cut it yourself Christmas tree? Fake.

4. Decorations on the outside of your house?No, alas. If we could. my wife would light up the whole apartment building.

5. Snowball fights or sledding? Snowball fights. And giving Amy "facewashes".

6. Do you enjoy going downtown shopping? Since I work there, it's no big deal.

7. Favorite Christmas song? Three of them: The Wexford Carol; Wassail, Wassail; and The Star Carol, set to an Appalaichian tune.

8. How do you feel about Christmas movies? Depends on the movie. I love A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott as Scrooge.

9. When is it too early to start listening to Christmas music? Any time before December.

10. Stockings before or after presents? Always on December 6.

11. Carolers, do you or do you not watch and listen to them? Sometimes.

12. Go to someone else's house or they come to you? Christmas Eve at my parents', then to my wife's uncle's house; then Christmas morning at the in-laws', then the evening back at my parents'.

13. Do you read the Christmas Story? No, alas. But I think we'll do that with our kids (when they come along).

14. What do you do after presents and dinner? Try to digest. Talk a lot. Drink alcohol (in moderation).

15. What is your favorite holiday smell? All the fine foods of the day.

16. Ice skating or walking around the mall? Here in Milwaukee, we go view the decorations on "Candy Cane Lane".

17. Do you open a present or presents on Christmas Eve, or wait until Christmas day? Both. Each family has a different tradition.

18. Favorite Christmas memory? Midnight Mass at St. Anthony's in the 1990's.

19. Favorite Part about winter? The brisk! refreshing! invigorating! temperatures (my wife thinks I'm nuts).

20. Ever been kissed under mistletoe? Lots of times. Sometimes involuntarily.

OK....wife and Mark...your turns.

posted by Dave | 1:04 PM


Monday, December 19, 2005  

I was a Vatican II child (Part I)...

I was born in October 1969, a little less than four years after the close of the Second Vatican Council.

My memories...

I grew up at St. Augustine's in West Allis, a small Croatian parish of several hundred families and a small school. The Masses celebrated there were conventional for the time, with occasional fits of folk music, burlap banners, and cutesy kids' stuff. There were regular trips to the confessional, recitations of the Rosary, and an annual Eucharistic Day, with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction. But no Latin. Everything was in English. I didn't even know what Latin looked like.

Still, there were reminders of days gone by. The old altar was still in the sanctuary, now used to reserve the Blessed Sacrament in its tabernacle. Until 1978, there was a faux-marble communion rail and two wooden side altars (the sanctuary altars were stone). We sometimes used the old Baltimore Catechism in our classes, which showed the priest saying Mass with his back to the people, in a chasuble with decorations different from the modern polyester ponchos currently worn.

And then I discovered my mother's old missal and prayerbooks. The Mass looked different, and it was in a different language. The priest looked different in some of the pictures, wearing a chasuble that looked like a sandwich board.

What had happened?

posted by Dave | 8:41 PM
 

Remembering Roger

Amy and I will be attending a funeral Wedensday.

Roger Huebner, a man who could produce a plethora of sound effects with nothing but his mouth and a microphone, died Friday night at ComedySportz. He was found slumped over in his chair about 90 minutes before the show was to begin, a victim of either a massive heart attack or a brain hemorrhage. He had suffered two strokes in the last five years, but had always returned to do what he loved best.

What do I remember of him? I remember a shy, otherwise quiet gentleman, with the quirky sense of humor needed for a place like CSz. I remember his artwork, including Howie, the CSz mascot. Most of all, I remember his regular role in the shows, accenting the players' actions with hundreds of sounds.

I will miss him. May he rest in peace, and may I meet him again in a place of perpetual mirth, in which every sound is a part of one great Symphony.

posted by Dave | 8:01 PM


Sunday, December 11, 2005  

Lo, how the mighty have fallen... (and rise a little)

I'm listening to the Packer-Lions game right now...down 13-10 right now...

So what happened to my beloved Pack this year?

Injuries. Javon Walker, several running backs (although Samkon Gado is working out nicely), and others from time to time. A team discovers its true depth when that many players get knocked out. A few years ago, the Packers were able to fill in gaps fairly well. Now there is no depth. And some of that may be blamed on...

Mike Sherman's tenure as General Manager. Sherman's draft picks and free agent signings have not panned out.

Turnovers. This has been a big, big problem. Green Bay could easily be 9-3 if just one turnover had been avoided.

Offensive Line. Brett Favre was able to do quite a bit because of an above-average line with two Pro Bowl guards protecting him. Those guards are gone now, and the replacements have not been anywhere near the same quality. So the number of sacks allowed is up, the number of penalties is up, and the run blocking has been subpar for much of the season.

Brett Favre. He's trying to do more with less, but he can't turn a game around by himself, like he used to do. What would have been a gamewinning play just a few years ago is now an incompletion, or an interception. And his age is showing. I'm not saying that he should hang up his spikes now, but the Packers have to find someone other than Aaron Rogers.

UPDATE: tied 13-13.

UPDATE: They've won in overtime. Very nicely done, although I'm sure a fellow blogger will have something to say about Shaun Rogers' costly penalty and the Lions in general...

posted by Dave | 8:39 PM


Thursday, December 08, 2005  

Imposing Morality in Massachusetts

This isn't about "choice" or "access". This is about sticking it to the Church.

I wonder if this could be challenged in Federal court?

posted by Dave | 5:09 PM


Monday, December 05, 2005  

Keeping The Family Catholic

Amy and I had completed our evening with the lighting of the Advent wreath, and now we were settled in for the night, snuggling under eight layers of blankets (which is what happens when the radiators aren't working properly). My wife and I always talk before we fall asleep: sometimes about the day's events, sometimes about each other, and sometimes we get into a discussion (the good kind, not the sort which would exile me to the living room couch or the roof). This time, we were in the latter mode...


"Why are you the only practicing Catholic out of the kids?" she asked. My two older sisters aren't practicing.

I thought about this for a bit. "They weren't big on organized religion, and made their own decision on the matter. Not much you can do once they're adults."

"How do we keep our children in the Faith?"


"Well...we'll make Sunday Mass a priority, pray together regularly, make sure they know their Faith...we have to set an example, of course..."

But what if it's not enough? I thought to myself.


My wife and I are committed to bringing up our children as Catholics. Nothing short of illness or emergency will be an excuse for missing Mass on Sundays and holy days. We will pray before meals, pray together regularly at other times, and keep seasonal rituals. We will be the first and foremost catechists, giving them the basics when little, then supplementing and reinforcing what they learn in school or religious ed class. The promises we make for them at the baptismal font will not be empty.

And yet...

There's only so much you can do. Even with all the above and more, our children may choose to fall away from the Faith. They might do it as twentysomething adults, or perhaps when they've gone off to college. Or maybe they'll rebel while still at home.

We talked about the last instance. Amy said that the "my house, my rules" principle applies, meaning that they'd still have to go to church and so forth. On the other hand, forcing a young adult to do those things might alienate them further. And you have to let them make and live by their own choices at some point.

So what do you do? Do the best you can, and pray a lot.

Still, I'd like to hear from all of you on how to keep the kids Catholic -- not just website referrals, but stories drawn from experience. How do you make the Faith an essential part of your children's lives? How do you keep them in, once they've hit adolescence and adulthood? How do you handle the difficult spots in their formation, whether it's conflicting data from school/Rel Ed, the Popular Culture, or some really good questions?

Please let us know. We 'd love to hear from you...

posted by Dave | 6:49 PM
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