Archives For Humor

A Brother’s Farewell

November 10, 2016 — 1 Comment

The plan is to have a Celebration of Life event for Matthew. Since I’m far away, the extended family is point for the arrangements. Hopefully, they do what’s right and respect the wishes of the entire family. Anything short of that dishonors Matt – as a former Marine, honor is fundamental to my worldview.  But I have to say I’m not encouraged by their efforts. So, as I’m sitting here, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll be able to eulogize my brother, at least in the traditional sense.

matt

But I’m writing one anyway … warming up in the bullpen just in case I’m called in to deliver. If not, at least it will be out in the cosmos.

You see, there’s nothing else I can do for Matt other than share memories for those that loved him – or would have had they met him. In the scheme of my life, it is a very important job and I want to do it.

As I begin this, it’s been two weeks exactly since that dreadful bike ride in Ojai. The healing process has sputtered along, but I’ve been startled by those quiet and alone moments in my otherwise busy days. Matt crashes through the normalcy, I see his face, grief pours over me as if from a cloudburst, and I cry. And then the sorrow quickly retreats as though my subconscious – or God’s grace – yanks it back to spare me the pain. I’m left with red swollen eyes as a searing reminder that my brother is gone.

I remember 1991 when our mother died. The Steele boys managed to get through that first week dealing with her affairs, concerned friends and the logistics of death. We laughed, reminisced, cried, took pills, drank beer and playfully split up her treasures – not the material stuff like lamps and couches, but the cherished things in her life; family pictures, letters from Dad, her sons’ baby shoes and report cards, her silly tools, her favorite ice breaker. In fairness, the pill popping, beer drinking and wailing like a newborn may have been all me but those seven days were an absolute blur.

The brothers didn’t argue that week, but we might have been tempted when it came to the expense for Mom’s funeral. We were sitting around a conference table, the typecast funeral director mumbling something quasi consoling, he looked like Lurch, and he placed the invoice on the table. As an aside, for you young mortuary entrepreneurs, hire grief counselors that look like Hooters waitresses; you’ll have bodies stacked like books in the prep room as the bereaved jockey for facetime.  Continue Reading…

Fanaticism In The Name Of God

February 19, 2013 — 1 Comment

Believe it or not, as I begin to get ready for the Papal Conclave–yep, Super Bowl-like preparation except with less beer–I’ve been thinking about fanaticism in the name of God.

fanaticismI love the trajectory of the Church under JP2 and B16 but I wonder if the dark forces, using fanatics as proxies, will be successful in derailing their work. Am I suggesting that the Conclave will be infiltrated by evil? Not at all. But can evil disguise and exercise its influence in some other way? To an unsuspecting but powerful dupe? Always a possibility. Let’s see how events unfold.

I’ve talked before about my foray into screenwriting. Creative process – good. Earning no money – bad. Most recently, an acquaintance volunteered to send my latest spec screenplay to someone who might be helpful. It deals with fanaticism. So far, I haven’t heard anything in reply. Not surprising. I’ve reached out before without results. Add to that, I just read an article in Vanity Fair that talked about the state of affairs for spec scripts (a speculative script is not owned or commissioned by a studio). Not good.

So, I’m reminded of a time, not so long ago …

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My beautiful, perfect dog made me smile today; as she does every day. I lay on the couch reading about Mao. There’s a piece of work. One man, a classic megalomaniac, responsible for seventy million dead Chinese. I wonder what his tombstone reads.

Lani came over and put her paw on my chest. Can I ask you a favor?

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We’re fairly close to Oscars time (February 24) and once again the culture takes center stage. After the latest horrendous killing of 26 precious beings, is it fair to ask if Hollywood is complicit in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings?

The OscarsI wouldn’t make that specific connection but clearly, violence in our culture is having a negative impact on the impressionable and unstable.

I have some experience with the entertainment industry. I spent a couple of years learning the craft of screenwriting and practicing the art but unfortunately, I never made a dime.

I gave up eventually and headed back to the financial thunderdome. But I never stopped writing screenplays. Let me explain.

I’ve sent my script The End of Man to a few intermediaries who’ve said they’d do their best to get it on the desks of entertainment executives. I have a feeling that no one has read it. Perhaps worse, they’ve all read it and hate it. No, I doubt that. I know it has potential. But it appears that the new tuxedo I was going to wear for this year’s Oscars will have to continue to collect dust. I was certain that someone would have invited me as an up and coming talent. So what if I’m old. Oh well, not to be. Shame.

If only I had a chance to rock the world with an acceptance speech. What would I say? Well, culture has certainly been on my mind…

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At the outset, foryourmarriage.org is an initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The website discusses dating, marriage, parenting and much more. The dating information, in particular, reminds me of how misguided my romantic modus operandi used to be. Need evidence? Think of the following as a Public Service Announcement on the folly of superficial romance.

DatingValentine’s Day will be here in a few weeks so I should probably start planning my annual no-date. It will take six seconds. Since I’m not taking myself to dinner or giving myself expensive gifts or writing myself a poem to be memorialized in the Cupidic hall of fame, not much to do.

You see, at the present time I’m flying solo. Apparently, I’ve been given some cooling off time in the romantic fridge. It also seems that I’m living in a figurative desert. Since I’m not being rained upon by romantic possibilities, an umbrella is the last thing I need. God, is all this your doing? Was I really that bad at love? Can I assume this respite won’t last forty years?

Where do I begin?

I’ve loved six women in my life (fortunately, it wasn’t at the same time). Ultimately, I was not the man they wanted me to be so we quietly parted ways. My life was privileged having known them but I was too stupid to know it.

Any one of them would have been a great wife and mother (although I will say that religion was rarely part of the conversation since I was an atheist). They were smart, giving, beautiful and fun. Some of the relationships lasted a short time but one lasted for more than a decade. Nevertheless, when the time came to commit, I couldn’t do it.

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On my prayer meter, yesterday moved the needle quite well, thank you. Although, I do wonder whether my liberal sprinkling of “but” and “however” tarnish the process.

praying hands[Lord, please make me your servant of evangelization but if you want me to make a killing in the private sector so that I can give all the money away, I’m good with that. However, can we decide on a direction soon? Things are getting a bit dicey on my end.]

It’s just that I was trying to be so spot-on precise––I was talking to God and I was keen on not messing up. But inevitably, I did. While on my knees, I had this random thought that I was spending way too much time talking about me and not praying for others.

So what did I do? I cracked a joke, which immediately triggered self-reproach because the last thing I needed was for God to think I was irreverent.

However, this is what stress does to me. I begin to worry that I’m failing at prayer––because life is not improving. And at the moment, it seems most of my anxiety can be attributed to no job and funds shrinking faster than a thoroughly doused Wicked Witch of the West. The worrying––clearly a lack of trust (sort of) in God’s will––is the mental manifestation of pressure. The physical is the flip side of the coin and from experience; it can be a very warped currency.

Let me explain. A few years ago during a particularly troubling time, I was sitting down for lunch at a friend’s house, I picked up my glass of cranberry juice and within milliseconds, I began to shake uncontrollably. I was like the courageous and admirable Michael J. Fox––bless his heart––on a bad day. As if I was raucously celebrating a Super Bowl victory with champagne, the juice was splashing and spraying everywhere. I could’ve been a fountain in some Roman piazza. I was barely able to get the glass to my lips.

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Utopian Reverie And Love

December 17, 2012 — Leave a comment

The webmaster for a preeminent Catholic website and I have had a brief email discussion about humor in evangelization. His site is one of the best online resources for all things Catholic.

Love puzzle

I’m a big fan of humor, don’t see it enough on the top websites and would like to do my small part in expanding its role. The webmaster, whom I’ll call Kevin because that’s a nice name, enjoys humor as well and is open to embracing and supporting more of the funny, quirky, satiric and clever offerings in the Catholic blogosphere. Especially as a counter to bad news. Besides, a substantive lesson uniquely presented has merit. He didn’t quite say it this way but I know that’s what he was thinking. (We’ll see––smiley face.)

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My dog Lani and I are sitting in the grass watching three magnificent thoroughbreds display their agility, speed and spirit. They’re on the other side of the fence in semi wooded bliss; their frenetic bursts don’t last long but they’re a sight to see. If I were insane, I’d attempt to ride Princess bareback; she’d enjoy bucking me off and stomping my body into applesauce––in a playful kind of way. It would be short-sighted, however, because I feed her every day.

I should be enjoying these moments with my dog but I can’t quiet my brain. You see, I’m trying to think how cool it would be to hang with God for the day.

Of course, safe to say that isn’t going to happen in the material, buddy to buddy sense that I’m suggesting.

So maybe the next best thing is to shut my eyes, span the globe and imagine the wonders of His creation.

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A Bit Of Fun In Great Snoring

December 15, 2012 — 1 Comment

A few years back, I made an extended business trip to Europe. Bouncing about in planes, trains and automobiles, I spent a considerable amount of time in Germany, France, Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom.

The Vicar of Great SnoringNow, if I had to choose a spot to lay low for a bit––let’s say I was an international financier incorrectly fingered for some great crime––and even though I adored France, Paris in particular, the UK would be my choice. There’s just something about the Brits and Scots and Irish and Welsh that make me want to not only live there and embrace their culture––but talk like them as well. No small feat, that last one.

Which reminds me of a certain fellow I just met courtesy of Fr. Longenecker. His name is Humphrey Blytherington, the Vicar of Great Snoring. Delightful. The kind of chap one would eagerly invite to the pub for brew, pleasantries, grins and giggles––a fellow one would most likely call a friend and be over the moon to be introduced as such. I became acquainted with the Vicar this morning as I read with great pleasure Father’s first short story about this nice but dim English country vicar.

The Vicar of Great Snoring is described as follows:

With his formidable wife Daphne at his side, English country vicar, Humphrey Blytherington, bumbles through village life, confounding the critics, making unlikely friends and unexpected enemies before triumphing against all odds. In the Humphrey Blytherington stories the wacky wit of Wodehouse and the anarchic satire of Tom Sharpe jostles with the arcane machinations of the Church of England.

I enjoyed my introduction to the Vicar––found the book to be clever, warm-hearted and a tasty sliver of English life. And the characters that inhabit this charming nook of England are far from sleep-inducing. Quite the contrary old boy. One could develop quite an affection for this lot.

The e-book version of the short story is published here.

Fr. Longnecker’s terrific blog is here.

I had been blogging three days when I posted this story. At the time I had four readers––I think––or it may have been just me times four since I didn’t have a handle on Google analytics at the time. However, It remains one of my favorites so I thought I’d re-post it.

God And Elevator

I read the news––and invariably, I think about God. This predilection, not practiced for most of my adult life, now gives me great comfort. And compels me to tell a story.

Once upon a time…

I was in New York City on business visiting some bigwigs––a great address on Park Avenue for those that care. The meeting was to be an important one. As I entered the sleek colorful elevator on the ground floor, there’s another man, smartly dressed, already inside. As we start our upward journey, the perfunctory nods out-of-the-way, we’re jarred by a sudden lurch, and we stop.

“When these things happen, I go into a Zen state,” he says.

“Really. I try to solve for the rate of acceleration of a falling object.”

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