Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Where's Emily Post When You Need Her?

Well, this is it, people:  as of 8pm Rome time tonight we shall be officially popeless.  We know next to  nothing- well, nothing really- about where the Church will go from here.  All we know for sure is that Josef Ratzinger will take the title "pope emeritus,"  and he will continue to wear the white cassock that only the  Pope wears.

So, we all see the difficultly with this, right?  From now on there will be two guys running around in white cassocks.    Call me simple, but I'm telling that to all the world that's going to look like two popes.

Of course it isn't that simple.  We can only have one pope at a time.  But mark my words, this two-guys-in-white thing is going to cause problems.

For example:  what if they both show up at the same dinner party?  Dressed exactly alike?  Honestly, wouldn't you just die?  And forget about any of that "just pretend you don't notice" nonsense.  People will notice.  Trust me.

And if you imagine no one will make comparisons, dream on.  Ratzinger with those blue eyes and thick white hair?  He looked fabulous in white.  Didn't make him look fat, either.  You think the next guy will have the same luck?  I certainly would not put any money on that.  I've seen how some Italians look in white.  Not thin, for one thing.

Well, we can only hope for the best.  Pray for the cardinal electors and for Benedict in his retirement, and hope for the best.

But one more thing, my co-relgionists:  do not, under any circumstances, go around singing "Sur le pint d'Avignon."

Don't even hum it.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Fitness Sickness

So yesterday after church we went to our new gym. Working out as a family!  We are so fit and so cool!

Naturally this morning everyone's throwing up.

I'm really not sure about all this "health club" lifestyle sometimes.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

And In Other News, The Pope Has Still Resigned

Sunday morning.  That precious time between waking up for the dogs and anyone else waking up. Peace.

Today will be the first Sunday sermon  since the Pope dropped his bombshell this week.  I imagine it will be along the lines of the-pope-is-brave-and-God-is-in-charge.  Which is a reasonable reading of the situation, I guess.

Probably won't mention things like lightning strikes and meteor explosions.  I mean, why get folks all worried, right?

Not me, no, I'm not worried.  Deeply curious is how I'd describe my mental state. Also calculating, as in "I wonder if I have time to make the five First Saturdays before, uh, anything happens?"

Other things to consider:

Should I finish clearing out the garage?

Is it worth getting my roots touched up or should I save myself the trouble?

That bottle of vintage port is still in the basement... time to give it a try?

Definitely get rid of leftover half cans of paint.

Cancel the cable, or beef it up for better coverage?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day


A New Record

I decided what to give up for Lent:  bread.  I love bread.  Especially when it's the underside of a pizza.  So I boldly promised to give up pizza as well.

All right, tell me if this sounds familiar.

Ash Wednesday, 9am.  Planning what to have for dinner.  Decide:  salmon.  Yum.

AW, 2pm.  Check calendar, which until recently only said "Ash Wednesday."  Notice something else:  "basketball game, 6:15."  Make deal with spouse:  You take the kid to the game, I'll follow in my own car so I can get dinner ready.

AW, 5:45 pm.  Waiting for game to start.  Spouse announces he'll skip dinner and go to gym instead.  DIH's resolve to broil salmon weakens.

AW, 6pm.  Check iphone for emails.  What's this?  A coupon from fave pizza place?  "Two for one night?"  Dinner problem solved!  I mean why waste food, right?  And since spouse not coming home for salmon there's really no point to going all out with the broiler pan, is there?  Besides this game won't be over until 7, it'll take 35 minutes to get home... who needs to scrub broiler pans at 9 o'clock at night?

AW, 6pm-7pm.  Thinking pizza thoughts.  "Buy one with sun dried tomatoes, get one with eggplant for free.  Perfect."  Also, since now there;s no need, I don't leave the game early to go home and start dinner.

7pm.  Spouse changes his mind about gym.  Decides he will just come home for dinner after all.

7pm- 7:01.  Wrestle with conscience.

7:01  Check emails again.  Coupon is still there.  Opportunity not merely knocking but banging the door down.

7:25.  Standing on line at pizza place.

8:15 Home again, chowing down on eggplant pizza.


So let's see, not even 24 hours into Lent and already screwing up.  I wonder if there's a "but I had a coupon" section anywhere in the Catechism.  I should look that up.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday Thoughts

Things I could give up for Lent:

The internet. BUT THERE'S A CONCLAVE COMING UP.

Television.  BUT THERE'S A CONCLAVE COMING UP.

Listening to or repeating rumors.  BUT THERE'S A CONCLAVE COMING UP.

Alcohol.  ARE YOU KIDDING?  HAVEN'T YOU BEEN LISTENING?  THERE'S A FREAKIN' CONCLAVE COMING UP!!!

Hm.  I better come up with some more ideas.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fat Tuesday 2013

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday.  Today is DIH's last chance to scarf down some chocolate or know back a Cosmo without feeling guilty about it.

We face special challenges this Lent.  E.g., how can we give up Facebook when there's a papal election cooking?  And more importantly, now that they've taken the Quattro Formaggi off the menu at the pizza place, what are we going to eat on Fridays?

Ah, Lenten Fridays.  We all have fond memories of them, don't we?  From frozen fish sticks to tuna casserole, Lenten Fridays have treated us to some of the most disgusting fare man ever created.  Childhood Fridays were truly penitential.

We've come a long way since then.  Linguine with clam sauce.  Salmon with pesto sauce (pasta on the side of course).  Pasta alla Norma, if you remembered to freeze enough eggplant last September (I didn't).

That's just home cooking, of course.  For you gazillionaires out there there's always lobster at the Capitol Grill.  Delicious and low cal to boot.  Who says money can't buy happiness?

But let's not dwell on all that seafood now.  Today is Fat Tuesday, and it's time to meat up.  Put pepperoni on the pizza, chow down on BLTs, buy the filet mignon at the supermarket- it's on sale this week, at least in my neighborhood.  And don't forget the Cosmos.

The pope resigned.  I cannot face this Lent without Cosmos.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Benedict XVI Resigns

Last night we go the welcome news that my kid's school would have a delayed opening today.  Two more lovely hours of sleep!  I was so excited.

But the dogs got me up at 6, and as I waited from them to return from the back yard I idly turned on the computer.  Just to check the headlines.  Then I planned to go back to my  nice warm bed and--

But--

HOLY CONCLAVES, BATMAN!!!  The pope - the Vicar of Christ, the Numero Uno honcho of the Catholic Church on earth, had just announced he was quitting!!

Needless to say there was no going back to bed after that.

I had to read the piece a couple of times before it sank in.  I still can't really get my head wrapped  around the news.  The Pope resigning?

Wait.  Isn't that also called "abdicating?"

No, can't be.  "Abdicating" sounds like something only a troublemaker would do. "Retiring,"  maybe?  No, that sound like he just wants to play golf.

People are opining all over Twitter and Facebook. Everything from  "What a brave decision" to "How could he leave us now?"  With of course the usual anti-Catholic crudity from the usual suspects.  I just hope Stephen Colbert doesn't say anything stupid.  That would be sad.

According to reports the Pope-- what do you call an ex-pope, by the way?-- plans to spend his retirement in Castel Gandolfo. OK.  Fine.  But what about next August when it's time for the new pope to take his vacation there?  What's Benedict going to do- sublet?  Timeshare?

And oh, Lord, here we ago again with the conclaves.  It seems like only yesterday St Peter's Square was packed with pilgrims checking for white smoke.  And you know why it seems like yesterday.  Because in Catholic Church terms, seven years ago WAS freakin' yesterday.  I mean, come on, guys!  Not even a decade!  And now we have to listen to all that "who's papabile" gossip again?  More speculation on African cardinals, more jerks on CNN giving us their expert opinions on women priests and married clergy.

Not to mention the conspiracy theories.  Apparently Piers Morgan has already gone on Twitter to say he's "not buying" the poor health excuse.  "What's the pope hiding?"  And you thought only conservatives were the mad theorists.

I think it's appropriate, though, that Benedict made his announcement right before Lent.  Listening to Piers Morgan was bad enough before, but now it will be some kind of uber-penance.  Also the prospect of a papal election before Easter gives all one's Lenten penances kind of a twofer effect-  reparation for sin, and a votive offering:  "Please God. don't let the College of Cardinal screw this moment in history up."

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Richard III

I cannot stop thinking about Richard III.  Ever since they found his skeleton buried under a parking lot somewhere in England he's been on my mind.

Let me be the first to admit that I know next to nothing about the Wars of the Roses.  As near as I could tell they were just a series of rumbles extended over thirty or so years.  England must have felt like the Bronx under that idiot mayor Lindsay.  Plenty of busting up and nothing much accomplished.

I know that the House of Lancaster won, of course. You know, those beauties who gave us Henry VIII.  It was all downhill from there as far as I was concerned.

(But don't ask me if Lancaster was the white rose or the red one.  I don't know.  I could never keep them straight.)

Like most people I got most of my knowledge of Richard III from Shakespeare's play.  I saw it performed by the Royal National Theatre, when they brought it to Brooklyn in 1992. I was so enthralled by Ian McKellan's performance that the spouse and I drove down to DC a few weeks later to see them do it again at the Kennedy Center.  I even bought their tee shirt:  "And thus I clothe my naked villainy."  On the back it said "Richard III- The USA Tour."  I loved that shirt.

And of course, I got curious about the accuracy of Shakespeare's Richard.  It's a great play, he's a great character, but if DIH has one rule it's this:  Never trust anyone on the Tudor payroll.  Like the Bard was.

When Richard was killed at the Battle of Bosworth, the Yorks were finished and the Lancasters took over.  Henry VII was Henry VIII's father.  Shakespeare was writing for Henry's daughter Elizabeth.  So put yourself in Bill's position.  "Gotta write a play about Richard III.  His folks were the sworn enemies of my patron Queen Bess.  Gee- should I make him look good or bad?"

Anyway.  So far they know one thing about the Bard's Richard.  The Richard of "Richard III" was  hunchback with a withered arm.  The skeleton they discovered under that parking lot definitely had a curved spine.  But no withered arm- no evidence of one.

A-HA!  Let the speculation begin!

I dont' know about you but I'm going to stay tuned.




Monday, February 04, 2013

Love Is Murder 2013

Desperate just got back from a fascinating weekend.  Although it involved catching the cold of the century, being manhandled by the TSA and missing the Superbowl it was all worth it.

The 2013 Love Is Murder mystery writers' conference was held at the Hotel Intercontinental at Chicago O'Hare.  The Intercontinental is a very nice hotel that does not have free internet or a hot tub, two of the reasons DIH generally sticks to the Hampton Inn.  Also there's a significant difference in the price tag, but that's a topic for another day.

What the Intercontinental does have is a location near the airport, and it stands smack in between two very nice restaurants.  One of them, the Capitol Grille, is the main reason DIH hopes to become a millionaire some day.  If I were a millionaire I would eat lobster at the Capitol Grille every night.  OK maybe not every night, but often.

Let's just say the menu is pricey.  I mean, come on, $48 entrees?  When was the last time you were 48 bucks worth of hungry?

But last year we were at the LIM 2012 conference, same hotel, and we thought, What the heck- we just drove seven hours to get here.  Don't we deserve a little pampering?  After all it's not like we flew or anything.  Or even rented a presentable car for the drive.

That was the first time I ate at the Capitol Grille.  It was really one of those "through the looking glass" experiences.  So this is how the other half lives, I thought. I looked around the bar at the women in their fur coats and the   men with their single malt scotches and I wondered how long it would be before some social x-ray type spotted me for the interloper I was and had me escorted to the nearest McDonald's.

As the spouse commented when they seated us at our table and he took in the crowd, the ambience and the right-hand side of the menu:  "If my father had ever taken my mother to a place like this for one dinner, she would have talked about it for the rest of her life."

So when we returned to Chicago for this year's conference, I had my excuses all lined up.  "There's only one other restaurant for miles!  And it's just as pricey!  And steak is pure protein, and protein is brainfood, and..."

But we were in for a pleasant surprise.  It was Restaurant Week in Chicago.  In honor of which, the CG was offering a deal:  three full courses for $33.  Entrees included things like filet mignon. Dessert was creme brulee or flourless chocolate cake.

Do I have to tell you where we ate on Friday night?  Or Saturday?

I can hardly wait to go back to Love Is Murder next year.  Oh, yeah- the conference was interesting, too.
But that creme brulee!