Friday, January 30, 2009

Heaven Help Us, not a political statement, but one of my all time favorite (and hence most underrated) movies from back in the day. I've had the vhs tape for about 20 years, and have checked periodically to see if it ever made it to dvd.

It did!

The movie is set at a Catholic boys' high school in mid '60s Brooklyn. As one might expect, it's full of juvenile [phallic] boy humor and casts a critical - but not necessarily offensive - eye on the Church at that time, (i.e., there are scenes that deal with rather harsh and unjust corporal punishment, but there's nothing blatantly anti-Catholic).* It would be a much different story if it were re-made today.

Every former Catholic school boy I know, from my Dad who went to Jesuit boarding school in the '50s to my best law school buddy who went to Crespi HS in LA followed by TAC in Santa Paula, to a certain 17 y/o Athlete (and his sporty of-age compatriots, who borrowed it along with Vision Quest), and of course my Beloved and untold numbers of his Marines, has laughed themselves sick watching it.

There are a number of familiar young faces in this movie - Kevin Dillon, Andrew McCarthy, Patrick Dempsey, John Heard, Donald Sutherland and one of my absolute favorite character actors, Wallace ("In-con-sthee-vable!") Shawn:

The best scenes are posted on YouTube, of course, but if you're interested in the movie, don't watch them yet! If you've got about $8 to spare you can pick it up on Amazon, but if you are easily offended, well....don't. Definitely not for the underage crowd, although I saw it in HS and thought it was hysterical at the time.

*Its R-rating is for language, sophomoric sexual humor, non-sexual nudity (butt shots at swimming pool in gym class) and the brief punishment scenes. It has a lesser, Catholic school version of "Animal House" feel to it, if that helps. Somehow I see Digi enjoying it immensely...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Snow Days Are Great, Right? /HMD #17

I know I'm a freak, but unlike most parents who were bitter about the long Christmas - oops - WINTER break, I loved having the kids home for two weeks. Similarly, I LOVE snow days because we get to hang out in our jammies, have a big breakfast, bake stuff, and be slobs all day. Everyone wins!

So this morning, when the Princess appeared in our doorway in a panic asking if school was canceled, I was more than a bit stunned when I said "yes" - and she burst into tears. "This is so stupid, I hate snow days!"

It's mid-term exam week, and she had two scheduled today. They will be pushed back to next week. ("Bonus!" I say...) But she is upset because she was prepared and now has to worry and wait another 5 days to take them. ("Little freak-nerd..." said I.)

But the kid has reason to be upset. She's worn out. She has a sore throat, bruises all over her back and legs from cheerleading practice (no room in the gym so they practice all of their stunts and somersaults on the cafeteria tile floor), and a regional athletic conference cheerleading competition this weekend. So the snow day meant one less day of practice before the competition. The competition is the Saturday after exams...a lot of pressure to have both big-ticket items on your plate the same week.

Hence the tears and the stress all day.

[Begin: Helo Mom Dispatch #17]

However, the giant Athlete came over for dinner and a movie ("The Express" - worth the rental or PPV) with the family this evening. I looked over at the two of them on the adjoining couch, mid-flick, and she was slumped against him, dead asleep. He'd covered her with a blanket and had her nestled in his big long arms (yes, all you Helo Dads reading this, his large puppy hands were visible at all times). He caught my eye, gave me a shy shrug ("What was I supposed to do?") and tentative little smile...and got an approving one from me in return. The Beloved caught on, gave the situation a sizing-up, and sunk back into his chair, unconcerned.

When the movie was over and it was time to leave, he very gently said her name and she awoke with a start, mortified and apologizing profusely ("Oh my gosh, I didn't drool on you, did I?!? Please tell me I wasn't snoring!!!"). He leaned over and whispered something to her, and she hugged him with all her might as he stood to leave.

Well of course I had to know, I'm a motherhovercraft. So two seconds after he left:

Me: So....?

She: It's so sweet, I can't say it or I'll cry.

Me: [misting up already, dammit!] Well, now you REALLY have to tell me!

She: I can't believe I fell asleep. I'm such an idiot, he came over to visit, not watch me sleep...but I was so tired, I couldn't help it. And when I was sitting there with him, that's the most relaxed and happy I've been all day. I felt, I don't know, safe. So I passed out about five minutes into the movie. Is that weird?

Me: No. It's actually very sweet. And so...are ya gonna tell me?

She: Duh, of course! This is the weirdest part. He said 'You're impossibly beautiful when you sleep. And you will always be safe and protected when you're in my arms, for as long as you want to be there.' He said the same thing I was thinking. 'Safe.' And he was right - other than Daddy holding me when I was little or you snuggling me when I'm sick [a ritual we've maintained for nearly 15 years] , I've never felt that way, Mamma. That's the best nap I think I've ever had. I feel so much better now, and he was so nice about it.

Me: He's a nice guy... [turning, dashing away liquid evidence of my mushiness]

She: [...smiling...a lot...] Gotta go review some more. 'Night Mamma.

Our girl is growing up. I thank God each night that this boy is the first one to stray across her path, and I pray that whatever the outcome, they remain in each others' lives. Truth really can be (in this case) better than fiction - this kid's a rare find.

Just before burrowing in for the night, the Beloved said, in his succinct way, "Oddly enough, I don't plan to kill him."

A good evening for all, and to all of you, Goodnight.

Helo Mom out.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Why not?

Who better to give your first official interview as President of the United States to than Al-Arabiya?

Let's spread the love like we're gonna spread the wealth!

Some notable quotes:

What I told [Sen. George Mitchell] is start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating

Yeah, I was listening when my husband called to tell me to flip on the tv on 9-11-01. The sound of the second plane hitting the WTC is something I'll never forget, Mr. President.

My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that Americans are not your enemy

See above. Yeah. We weren't Japan's enemy either, but that didn't stop them from bombing the sh*t outta Pearl Harbor. Note to to the Chief Executive: THEY DON'T LIKE US NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU LIKE THEM!

and then there's this:

[He also noted that he has Muslim relatives]

Hey Barry - say hi to Uncle Achmed for me...

St. Michael the Archangel, pray for us.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Helo Mom Dispatch #16 - When Worlds Collide...

Helo Mom is back from a break - not in the action, but in the ability to keep up with it.

I thought the end was upon us for a week or so - a waning of "more than a friend" interest on the Princess front - when suddenly there we were...heading off to a mid-week wrestling match, and she asked me the following:

"How do you know when you meet your 'Daddy' [aka, the uber-husbandly and wonderful Beloved]?"

"Why? Have you met a 'Daddy?'"

"NO! I mean ye--, well....never mind." [<-- rough translation: we are getting uncomfortably close to a point of fact or truth that I do not wish face or otherwise explore]

"Okay, to answer the first part of your question, I just knew. There was no rhyme or reason or perfect timing involved, I just felt utterly at peace and had no doubt in my mind that this was the person I knew would never, ever betray my trust, would care for me, love me, know all my faults but put up with me when the day came and the ring appeared, I just looked into those blue eyes and I knew I was home. And you know what I've always said, and what you've been taught, is simple because it's true: marriage is a vocation. Just as Fr. [our dear Nigerian priest friend] explained his vocation, you know. You feel that pull, that calling, that soft voice in the back of your mind...and I truly believe that voice, for me, was the Holy Spirit telling me to stop searching and doubting. The soul that was going to help heal my soul was right there in front of me."

[Silence, a little dampness in the eyes, a heavy sigh]

"That's what I'm afraid of. I'm not ready for it. Not for years, and not until I'm sure that there's no one else out there. I feel like such a jerk."

What's a helo mom to say? A very fine line to tread, so I came up with this:

"Pray. Pray for your future husband...--"

"I already do, Mom, every single night." [Wow! We had that conversation a few years ago, and she still really does it!]

"--...whoever he may be, and let God sort it out. In the meantime, you are adored by a good and well-regarded boy who has no nefarious intentions towards you, wants nothing more than to court you unless or until you are ready to date him, lives for the opportunity simply to be with you on whatever terms you dictate, respects your innocence and modesty, and would never hurt or betray you. But no one says you HAVE TO be with him. If you don't want to see him anymore, say so. If you do, then stop all the fretting, relax, enjoy this time in your lives, and be glad that this is the type of young man you'll always remember as your first boyfriend. You couldn't ask for a better, kinder, or more patient one."

Silence. (Man, I must've overplayed my hand...)

So we arrive at the match, and to my utter disbelief, their little world tilted on its axis. For the first time ever - in public - she went right over and sat next to her Athlete between his individual events as she studied for her midterm exams. He was a bit stunned, but went ahead and draped an over-sized arm around her (whoa!) and without a word, she settled herself right into his side, binder in her lap, and read on...he chimed in here and there to quiz her or respond to her questions about his experiences with exams in this particular class, etc.

At one point, I looked over at the two of them, did a double take, and he looked over the top of her studious little head at me with the most adorable expression of shock, awe, joy...with a little bit of fear thrown in (a la "don't make any sudden moves or she'll bolt...") and grinned at me like he'd just won the lotto.

I threw him a discreet thumbs-up, turned away and continued my conversation with his delightful mother, with whom I've struck up a nice acquaintance over the past few weeks at these marathon matches. At the end of his last match - which he lost by a point - he was very frustrated with himself and not his usual happy-go-lucky self as he returned to the stands. She stood up and started to speak to him about how well he'd done, but he shook his head at her and (being both bitter and sweaty) sat behind her. She turned, grabbed and patted his hand...kissed it (flippin' WHOA!)...tucked it into her hand and returned to her books. After he picked his jaw up off the bleachers, he resumed his place at her side and never let go until the tournament ended. The Moms exchanged raised eyebrows, said not a word, and went back to our chat. As we went to fetch our cars, her son gave my daughter a hug, kissed the top of her head and she hopped up and smooched him right back somewhere in the vicinity of his chin or lips - in front of others - and then ran for the car. He was still rooted in place at the curb as we pulled away.

I said nothing. We seem to have turned a corner. I got the ritual pre-evening phone call/permission-seeking text, which read in pertinent part as follows:

Thanks so much for coming all the way up to [Match Site HS]. You got to see my worst loss on the best day of my life. :-)

I have already offered to adopt this kid if anything bad ever happens to his family. His only concern: "you'd have to get a second job to be able to afford to feed me..." And yes, I would.

So back to his Mom. She invited me on her "morning stroll" with a group of friends, which "stroll" turned out to be 2 hours of scaling half a mountain through the snow...and I managed not to humiliate myself. Much. Other than a blister from my insufficient snow boots, I survived the winter equivalent of a Bataan Death March and have been jumped into the Mom gang.

So the Moms have met. We have discussed. We have colluded. We have witnessed a hasty public liplock between our children. She tried unsuccessfully to kill me, and now likes me.

Yes. Just like that old Seinfeld episode, lines have been crossed. The worlds have collided.

I have no idea what will be next...but the long-awaited dance is in a little under 2 weeks. I shall report in accordingly.

Helo Mom out.

Happiness, Love, and Joy... our dearest Clam, newly wedded to her darling Canuck!

Keep them in your thoughts and prayers...they've worked hard to get to their big day.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Papa Goes Youtube

Today, the Vatican launched its own Youtube channel. Way to go team!

Makes me smile.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Day One of America's Gethsemane

So when I finally flipped on the tv last night, this is the first thing I saw on FoxNews - I managed to find it online so I could share it with you, dear friends and readers...

"Desperate" times indeed...Dana Delaney, may God forgive you.

Then this morning, as I attempted to arise from my flu-induced stupor, the Beloved shows me this .

Save the killers, kill the babies.

Stop the ride, I wanna get off.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Imagine the Potential

Well, friends, it is upon us. WELCOME TO OBAMAGRAD

This video sums up the real significance of this day, whether or not the sheeple grazing in DC later on today agree.

Tip: Rich @ Ten Reasons.

Posted using ShareThis

Monday, January 19, 2009

A breath of fresh air...

...did a day trip to NYC yesterday to do some high school dance shoe shopping and perhaps snatch up some same-day tickets to see a show. But once we hit the ground, the Princess and I decided against the show. We hit Canal Street, lunched in Little Italy, meandered up through Nolita, went to a small historic museum (Old Merchant's House on 4th St.) and gradually hoofed our way back up to Times Square, snacking, striking shoe and costume jewelry gold and chatting the whole way.

After the deep freeze hit here last week, it was actually in the 20's and a light snow started in the late afternoon...increasing in perfect step with our foot fatigue and desire to get back to Broadway and meet up with our group of friends (we charter a nice touring bus a few times a year to get the heck out of obscurity for awhile). It was so beautiful, though. The city was humming, there was just enough fresh snow for it to look clean and inviting, and was back to the bus. And to a big house near a brook, slightly north of nowhere.

Helo Mom will be back after pondering the imponderables of the teenage psyche...and after a day of centering prayer and self-imposed zero media tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

When It's OK To Fail

FINAL UPDATE: My daughter's letter was NOT published (shocker). There will be a shortened lass schedule tomorrow because the student body is - yes - required to watch the inauguration.

Semester exams start next week. Just sayin'.

UPDATE #2: Got a less than apologetic reply from the teacher this morning, which I will paraphrase here: the assignment was apparently given in response to a contest in the local paper, and the nun-in-chief had the English teachers assign it to the students on Monday. It was NOT optional, and indeed, no alternative assignment was given. The teacher states that the contest gave writers the task of writing a letter "detailing" what The One's policies and goals should be, or drafting the first 250 words of his inaugural address, and he indicates that the words "congratulate" and "positive" were not in the contest rules. He advised students that submissions were, however, supposed to be "appropriate for publication."

I am looking in the newspaper's online archives for the contest details to confirm this, but in the meantime, one must ask: What exactly is "appropriate for publication" in a left-wing newspaper is supposed to mean? Was this left open to interpretation by high school English students? When they are told to "behave appropriately," is it not implied to the child that their behavior must be "good" or "positive" behavior? Could it be that the teacher is blaming the kid for interpreting the intent of the assignment rather than accepting that it was an ill-conceived assignment?

Here's a direct quote:

...when I am made aware of legitimate concerns, I always try to accommodate those requests.

Hmmmm....perhaps my concern is not regarded as "legitimate" depending on how you interpret that last bit. See the problem?

I'm not done with this.

UPDATE: Sent a written request for clarification of the assignment requirements to the teacher a few hours response yet...

My eldest, the quasi-Catholic high school student, has received the following mandatory Honors English assignment:

Write a letter to President-Elect Obama congratulating him on his inauguration. It must be positive, and not exceed 250 words.

[yep - it's a RED ZONE moment]

The letters must be emailed by the students to the local paper and to the teacher.

Yeah. I have a slew of MAJOR ISSUES with this assignment. I told her she did not have to do the assignment if she did not want to, and that I'd go to the mat for her with the teacher and the administration...including the habitless nuns...about the lack of 1st amendment rights involved when one is required to support One who she knows to be an insupportable politician. She did not want to go that route because the implicit threat involved getting a failing grade if you went "negative," and that was something she didn't want to deal with.

We conferred until late into the evening last night about how to be "positive" and yet make a stand against what's wrong about The One at the same time. We discussed the issues, she drafted, and I helped her pare it down to the required limit. (I suggested that she write a thank you letter to President Bush for his service and especially for keeping the country safe from enemies foreign and domestic during his tenure and hand it in along with the required letter for extra credit...but we agreed that might not go over well...)

I doubt the letter she wrote will be published (I'll post it later in that case), and I hope she won't be punished for having the audacity to hope in her letter that The One will stick to his vow to protect women's rights...including those of unborn women. ("FOCA" that!)

If she is penalized in any way, it's game on - and make no mistake, I will scorch some serious earth if I have to.

I try to be a reasonable person, I really do. I have been trained to look at issues from both sides, and I strive to do so in my professional life even when a counterargument is just patently nonsensical. As I have been taught, and as I now teach others, sometimes you have to set aside your own feelings and take a step back...because you must be able to understand the opposition in order to defeat it. But today, I just can't do it. I cannot comprehend the goose-stepping mentality the Obamaniacs have...and the fact that said mentality has infiltrated a Catholic High School where I'm paying (a lot) for viral immorality to be downloaded into my child's head, well, it sickens me.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Helo Holding Pattern: Dispatch #15

Not much too terribly new to report on the Helo Mom front, other than that the saga continues...

Our favorite Athlete was injured at this week's 16-team wrestling tournament and was not able to finish competing, but being the good Helo Mom, I gamely offered to shuttle the Cheerleader and one of her chums 45 minutes away to the hosting school, and proceeded to sit with them through the 10 hour ordeal (wherein the Athlete was forced to watch his teammates compete until the bitter end...each made it to the final rounds and placed in the top 3). I actually met and had a nice chat with his various family members and other team family members. This was all just fine...until the blizzard hit about an hour before we headed home on coated, windy county roads in the late-evening darkness. Thanks be to the AWD.

The boy showed off his brand new varsity jacket - 3 sports, several awards, etc. - one of his Christmas gifts. I was horrified to learn that these things now cost about $240. (I think mine was about $40 back in the day.) I had to explain the significance of the jacket to the Cheerleader on the way home, and told her the old tradition of the boys giving the jackets to their girlfriends to wear. Because she's the eldest, she was unaware of the practice and didn't think any of her friends wore their boyfriends' jackets, and besides, as she put that brutally blunt and honest way she inherited from, well...someone...:


Like I could wear it anyways, Mom. Have you LOOKED at him? He's a friggin' GIANT! It'd look like I was wearing his Varsity bathrobe!

The girl does have a point there...

Later on, I got his usual "permission to call" request by text,* along with this:

I thought about asking her to wear my varsity jacket, but I wasn't sure how she'd feel about it. That might be too "official" for her. What's your opinion, Mrs. [Kit]?

What's a Helo Mom to say? ("Sorry, Mr. Empire State Building, but you're too darned tall....") So I suggested that he talk to her about it in general terms, see how she responds, and take it from there....poor kid. He really is a friggin' giant. And he has an equally giant heart. For his sake, I wish it weren't quite so prominently displayed on his sleeve, but that's another dispatch for another day. Time to go dig out the car and get some diapers.

Helo Mom out.

* How considerate is this kid - he asks my permission first, each and every time he calls, to ensure that her homework is done, she's not showering, sleeping, dining, or otherwise indisposed, and that the baby's not asleep or he is not inconveniencing the family in any way. I'm thinking of telling his parents to leave him to me in their will....

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Prayers for Phillip Johnson

For those of you who may have missed this young man's story, which I've been following thanks to a tip from Cavey, it's worth taking a few minutes to read about what's going on in his life and juxtapose it against what going on in yours.

Phillip, a 25 year-old Naval Officer, learned in October learned that he has an inoperable brain tumor, roughly the size of a lime. Scroll to the oldest of his posts for more detail. His reflections on his vocation, his illness, and his journey toward embracing God's will in his life will bring a tear to your eye.

Please remember this brave young man - and, God willing, future priest - in your prayers

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bl Andre Bessette

Along with the traditional Feast of the Epiphany today, it's the feast day of one of my favorite beati, Bl. Andre Bessette, the humble porter who saved the nickels he earned giving haircuts to schoolboys to build a wooden shack to honor his chosen patron, St. Joseph. That wooden shack is now St. Joseph's Oratory, which sits atop Mont-Royal in Montreal, Canada.

Bl. Andre was orphaned as a young boy - small, weakened by chronic illness, and uneducated, he had little in the way of worldly skills to recommend him. He was initially accepted by the Congregation of the Holy Cross, but once they determined he was too frail to do any substantial work, they attempted to expel him from the order. Fortunately, the local bishop intervened and Bl. Andre remained with the order, where he was assigned porter duty for their boys' school. As he put it, "They showed me the door and I remained there for 40 years."

Among his duties was lighting and extinguishing candles and lamps at the school and chapel. He began collecting the oil from the lamps burned at Mass and in the sanctuary in honor of St. Joseph, which he brought with him when he was called to visit and pray with the sick. He applied his "St. Joseph's Oil" to the afflicted and effected miraculous cures. It is still sold at the Oratory. His reputation for bringing comfort and peace of mind to the ill was widely reknowned, and much of it stemmed simply from his ability to listen, observe, and to discern the state of souls. As his fame grew and he visited people who'd called looking for a rub of oil and a quick miracle, Brother Andre would often tell them to go to Mass and to Confession first, then call him.

I've long been a fan of Bl. Andre's because, like Stes. Bernadette and Therese, he exemplifies the virtue of true humility, and his story demonstrates what incredible, powerful, transformative love God can show us using the lives of these simple, obscure people to do great things in the world.

From a simple wooden shack of a chapel built with loose change saved by Bl. Andre for years and years....we now have this:

A poor, illiterate orphan's devotion sees its fruition with two million visitors each year.

Beautiful story, and a wonderful place to visit if you ever have the chance.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Minnesota, WHAT have you done?

Al Franken? Seriously?

Senator Stuart Smalley

I'm corrupt enough, I'm dumb enough, and doggone it, people hate me.

I am absolutely sick to my stomach. As far as I'm concerned, Jesse Ventura was mere child's play compared to this dangerous, politically inept, morally vacant, tax-evading, poor excuse for a man.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Helo Mom Dispatch #14: Stuck In A Moment and You Can't Get Out Of It

Well, for all the moping and sighing going on here, we traveled 75 minutes each way to watch the Athlete in a wrestling tournament today. To make a 5 hour long story short, we managed to see him in one match, and that against a state-ranked kid who routinely pounds the snot out of him.

So he looked across the mat at us with a big grin on his face and mouthed "I'm dead!"

And he was. After an initial struggle, the other kid had him on his back and things looked grim. But he somehow managed to flip to his belly, held his head up, locked his eyes on my daughter for a few seconds, rolled the other kid onto his back and pinned him! Stuck the state-ranked kid!

He hopped to his feet, stunned, then jumped up and down....his (fairly short and rotund) coach ran onto the mat, caught him mid-air, bear hugged him and carried him off the mat to his thrilled teammates, who all hugged him, too. Then he ran over to the bleachers, hugged his family....and then he looked at us with a big smile and a little question in his eye.

The Princess jumped to her feet and hugged him hard.

In front of onlookers.

First time ever.

The kid's already a giant, but I think he stood a few inches taller after that as he walked back to the team.

So just a few minutes before I started this post, I got a text:

Thx so much for bringing my good luck charm to the tourney. U have no idea what she means to me, and having her there made it the best match I'll ever have.

Enough to make a helo mom, well, a little verklempt.

Must go to bed now and ponder all that has transpired.

Update: "It's What Happens In That Six Minutes"

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Happy Helo New Year: Dispatch #13

Well, maybe.

The tall, lovestruck lad appeared at our door last night fresh from his vacation, bearing flowers, and invited the short focus of his attentions and affections to the upcoming dance.

She stammered, blushed, and said yes.

Then, as the evening wore on and the Wii batteries wore down, they chatted and she came up with a number of reasons why it might not be a good idea for them to go to the dance together after all - they have no friends in common (she fears being surrounded and likely ignored or looked-at-askance by other seniors and their dates); worse than that is the prospect of going out to dinner (she fears spillage on her dress and/or choking to death in front of others); and worst of all, he likes shall I put it..."popular" dance method employed by the would-be gangsta-hip-hopsta but in truth dorky white upper-middle-class teenagers of the world (way too much bumping and grinding going on there), while she is a far more reserved, ballroom-trained observer of proper dance space and admirer of synchronous movement.

He vowed to introduce her to his immediate circle of friends over the next few weeks so she's more comfortable, reluctantly agreed to forego dinner if it would appease her, and has sworn that there will be none of the coitally-inspired maneuvering that is common - and accepted without question - at these quasi-Catholic high school dances. (Never appropriate, especially in formalwear).

She's still frowning and moping about the whole business today.

We shall see what transpires.

Signs and portents are not encouraging at the moment.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Hope you all have a peaceful and blessed 2009!