Thursday, March 14, 2013

Odd Bits - The Papal Edition

There are a couple of things spinning around in my head today…

Best Traffic Ticket Ever
In this home-grown story, a Maryland woman was given a ticket for going 2 miles under the speed limit, doing 63 in a 65.  The problem?  She was on I-95, camped in the left lane.

My reaction?  “It’s about fucking time!” 

The ticket is valid because it’s a safety issue.  When someone is going slower than the prevailing traffic, it’s just plain dangerous, even if you don’t count the road rage it generates.

The driver stated that it was windy and she was trying to keep the car under control.

I say that there’s a place for nervous and safety-conscious drivers, and it’s called the RIGHT LANE.  No one has the right to bottle up the passing lane; that’s why it’s called the Passing Lane and not the Drifting Along Until I Eventually Feel Like Moving Over Lane.

The next person I want to see is ticketed is someone driving on a highway directly alongside another car, at any speed.  That’s just another reason for installing the hood-mounted water cannon I want.

Raising Pope
Up until now, I’ve stayed out of the whole Pope Saga.  And yesterday, as everyone knows, we named a shiny new pope.  Well, as shiny and new as a 76-year old guy can be… 

It didn’t really surprise me that Pope Ratzo retired.  This is a guy with a complicated situation.  As the recent HBO special, “Mia Maxima Culpa” showed, every case regarding pedophile priests during Pope John Paul II’s reign went across his desk, before then going… nowhere.  He allowed these predators to remain out in the public, with the full faith and trust of the Catholic Church behind them.  The subsequent actions of every one of those offenders remain on his conscience and that should be enough to rattle anyone, especially now that the details have become so well publicized.

So yeah, claim “health issues” when you become the first pope in 600 years to resign… what’s not to believe?

Now we have Pope Francis, the first non-European pope since a Syrian in the 6th century.  While it’s good they’re trying for some “new blood,” and he seems to be a humble, decent man, I’m not expecting anything resembling a change of course from the Church.  You have to remember that these Cardinals are the same guys that elected the conservative, bloodless technocrat before him.  All of the tenets that are causing the deterioration in the numbers of US Catholics are still there, and will be for the foreseeable future.

That’s probably why they went South American, this time around.  It’s a pretty shrewd move to shore up your core support area.  It’s good PR in a contracting environment.

And from now on, whenever the pope releases a statement with which I aggressively disagree, I’ll have this to fall back on:

The whole thing puts me in mind of a favorite old song from the 60s.  After completion of the famed ecumenical council known as Vatican 2, satirist Tom Lehrer released the infamous “Vatican Rag.”  His point was that since they were trying to update the liturgical music into something more relevant, why not go all the way and bring in some “pop” music?  (“Pop” for the early 60s, anyway.)

“Do whatever steps you want if
You have cleared them with the Pontiff.
Everybody say his own
Kyrie Eleison
Doin’ the Vatican Rag!”

Check it out… it’s totally worth a minute and a quarter out of your day, just for the rhymes alone.

Lastly, consider these words from the late George Carlin: "I have as much authority as the pope; I just don't have as many people that believe it."

March of the Penguins
My Pittsburgh Penguins have been on quite a streak lately, winning their last 6 games, and 8 of their last 10.  Last Tuesday, they played like dog shit for two and a half periods, falling behind 2-0 to the Bruins, before scoring 3 goals in the last 7 minutes, to win.

Personally, I dismiss reports of newfound offensive confidence and defensive prowess.  I think it’s my shampoo.

I’ve developed a new mojo correlation, where whenever I use my “alternate” shampoo (from a little hotel bottle) on game day, the Pens win.  I’m also honing my jersey rotation.  I’ve had a couple of hot streaks with particular jerseys, but never for more than 3 wins.  If I wear a jersey a 4th time in a row, they lose.

Tonight should be a good test for that theory.  Three games ago, the Pens won at Toronto, while I was wearing a white Mario Lemieux jersey.  Normally, that means I’d wear the same one tonight, when they play at Toronto again.  But I’ve had that jersey on for the last 3 “away” wins, so it’s due for a loss.  I’ll probably go with the white Crosby jersey tonight.  I should know how it goes in a couple of hours.

Speaking of equipment changes, it was in the news today that for tonight’s game, Pens defenseman Brooks Orpik may, for the first time, wear a helmet with a clear, Plexiglas visor.  A week or so ago, Rangers defenseman Mark Staal got messed up pretty good when he took a puck to the eye, while wearing a helmet without a visor.  That got a lot of the players thinking about donning the visor, as well as talk around the league to require it.  I’d guess that between half and three-quarters of the league wears the visor.

I think the league should treat them the way they did treated helmets back in the 80s.  They required all players entering the league to wear them, and let existing players choose for themselves.  Eventually, as the players aged out, everyone left were in helmets.  And the thing is, visors are already required in the minor leagues, so everyone coming up is used to them.

Back when I was playing pickup hockey in upstate New York, I started out with a thin, visorless helmet.  Most of the other players used either the visor or a full cage (like a catcher’s mask).  Then in one game, as we were scrapping for a puck in front of the net, the puck got chipped up in the air, like when you flip a coin.  On the way down, it clipped me on the chin.  Even that little brush with the puck was enough to give my head a pretty good jolt.  I could only imagine what it would be like to get hit with a puck that someone shot or deflected.

That night, after I got home, I was like, “Honey, I think I know what I might want for my birthday.”

Because at that time she still liked me, and certainly didn’t want me any uglier than I already was, she bought me a helmet with the clear visor.
Visor is in the "up" position.  Don't worry about the blood, it was Halloween.

It wasn't too long after that when after a collision; I notice a big black smudge of tape across my visor.  It had obviously come from an opponent’s stick.  I hadn’t noticed it at the time, but if I hadn't been wearing the visor, there would have been a big red smudge across my face that I definitely would have noticed.

So, NHL players?  Wear the visor.  Trust us, everyone will still think you’re tough.


  1. Where was Cardinal Jorge Bertoglio of Buenos Aires when Pinochet was dropping pregnant women out of airplanes?

    1. That's not the best method of population redistribution that I've heard of.

  2. The dictator's way of punishing and exterminating enemies never hit our newspapers or MEET THE PRESS even though Nixon and Kissinger covertly supported his coup.

  3. I remember when that left lane thing became a law here in PA. I had just been complaining about it at work, and then I heard it on the radio on the way home; I remember exactly where I was, that is how much those Sunday-left-lane drivers bothered me. But I have never seen someone get busted for doing it.

    I am hopeful this pope will be a good one. The church needs a good dose of humility. And the guy even seems to have a sense of humor. I was talking to the coffee shop owner this morning about the age of this guy, and he suggested maybe they don't want to elect someone young because they are afraid he will wield too much power and/or just be in too long. That made me feel better. But I am one to defend Benedict's retiring. Sure, it could be something other than age, but I don't think it is shocking or scandalous that a guy in his mid 80s would not want to run the entire church, travel all over the place, etc. When McCain was running for president, I worried he might be too old and he was in his late 60s. Benedict has about 17 years on him.

    Keep using the alternate shampoo!

    1. I would ordinarily agree with you about age being a factor; it’s just common sense. But with the Papacy, they’re supposed to be in there for life. Look at the last guy… he was so propped up those last couple of years, if they stuck some shades on him it would have looked like “Weekend at John Paul’s.”

      The shampoo and my jersey strategy were revalidated last night, with another come-from-behind win, 3-1. Sure with they’d play the whole game the way they do in the 3rd period.

    2. Maybe Benedict has set a precedence that will encourage those of feeble mind and body to hang it up...

    3. If so, then I think that's the best thing he's done to date. I don't think any job should be guaranteed for life. The risks are just too great.

    4. Maybe some U.S. politicians should follow suit ?????

  4. That was quite the game last night, eh? I made the baby cry when I cheered at Dupers's second goal. He's so fucking reliable.

    As non religious as I am, I do hope that this pope does something good, because a lot of people I love look up to him. He seems like he will be, especially since he understands that there are poor people out there and, you know, real issues. Hopefully he will lead by example. But I'll honestly go back to not even caring about who is pope in a day or two. Unless he ends up being really cool.

    1. I am heartened by the choice of someone who seems like he hasn’t forgotten that the Church’s primary function should be helping the poor, instead of screwing them over. Time will tell. And you’re right… ultimately, he doesn’t affect me in the slightest. Others may not be so fortunate.

      Regarding the game, I’m starting to think I need to send Pinky to bed earlier. As soon as she turns in, the Pens start scoring. I’ll have to keep an eye on that.

  5. You do look mighty cute in that hockey helmet. Fake blood adds to the aura.

    1. Aside from when I lost my front tooth, that’s the most bad-assed I ever looked. Although at the time I had a Canadian friend I worked with, who told me “Real hockey players don’t wear watches,” (which is why I cropped it out of the shot).

  6. THE VATICAN RAG is still on my Top Ten. Perfect addendum to "Habemus Papam".

    1. "Get in line in that processional,
      Step into that small confessional.
      There the guy who's got religion'll
      Tell you if your sin's Original.
      If it is, try playin' it safer,
      Drink the wine and chew the wafer.
      Two, four, six, eight,
      Time to transubstantiate....

      Make a cross on your abdomen,
      When in Rome, do like a Romen.
      Ave Maria,
      Gee it's good ta see ya.
      Getting ecstatic an'
      Sort of dramatic an'
      Doing the Vatican Rag!"

      I love strained rhymes!

  7. "strained rhymes" mean like babyfood carrots??? TL's rhymes seem easy peasy to me. Shameless, maybe, like groan inducing puns.

    1. What I mean by "strained" is how he uses two words, to rhyme with the one following.

  8. Big Daddy Duper is truly the most seasoned, talented and unassuming Penguin of all. Absolutely "reliable", he always delivers the goods. And he has about five little Pooper Dupers.

    1. It's funny how he turned out to be the real prize, the "throw-in" with the Marian Hossa deal.

  9. Right about the rhyme. Thanks for the prosody lesson.
    I thought Marion Hossa was a character on "Bonanza". They hit pure gold with Pascal, unassumingly excellent every game.


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