Tuesday, 30 November 2010
Monday, 29 November 2010
Back in the late seventies my friends Rob and Jim and other friends would gather at my house on Wednesday evenings at 10:00 to watch Police Squad on ABC, possibly one of the funniest TV shows ever presented. Too clever, it seems, for American tastes as it lasted only 6 episodes and then was cancelled. Years later it resurfaced as a series of movies entitled "The Naked Gun", which if memory serves was the title of one of the episodes of the TV show.
Or maybe it wasn't. That's not important right now, to quote a line from Airplane. Leslie Nielsen narrated Police Squad and starred as Lt. Frank Drebbin. Each episode would begin with the guest star being killed before the opening credits were even finished. Lorne Greene was the first to go, and another week it was William Shatner, (before he was cool again), two Canadians who no doubt traveled in the same circles as Nielsen at the beginning of their acting careers. The narrated title of the episode didn't match the title on the screen so before the story even began we were on the floor laughing.
Episode One ended with a gunfight between Nielsen and a villainous woman, who at one point threw her wig into his face causing him to struggle and writhe and fight for breath until he could pull it off, a sight-gag later repeated in the Naked Gun movies. In the end, on either side of a trash can firing shots at each other, the woman is finally subdued. It was Pepsi-out-the-nose, wet-your-pants funny, and my buddy Rob did both.
Drebbin's partner summons two beat cops to deal with the suspect. "Officers, take her way and book her!" he commands, along the lines of Hawaii Five-O's iconic "book 'em Dano" line. Two uniformed policemen enter the frame, and Nielsen nods in recognition and deadpans his greeting.
"Officer Takeraway. Officer Booker."
The episode ends in a contrived freeze-frame typical of the seventies style of TV, except that only the Nielsen and his partner freeze in mid-laugh, and life goes on in the squad room around them.
I had the chance to meet Leslie Nielsen on Yonge Street in Toronto once. I wish I had taken it.
Instead, I just nodded as we made eye contact and in my mind I imagined our interaction.
Saturday, 27 November 2010
Friday, 26 November 2010
Thursday, 25 November 2010
Monday, 22 November 2010
Read more: http://www.windsorstar.com/news/windsor/City+cracks+down+backyard+chickens/3854360/story.html
Sunday, 21 November 2010
Saturday, 13 November 2010
Friday was “random acts of kindness” day. It was a day when those participating went out of their way to do something kind for someone else. Can you imagine sitting at the drive-thru at Tim Horton’s and the stranger in front of you pays for your coffee? I have heard that it has happened, although not to me, but I believe it. People are that nice, and they really do want to be that nice.
This day tracks back to the early eighties. It’s a concept that’s been described in a book and movie called Pay it Forward, where the concept is that when someone does something nice to you, you do something nice for someone else and the world becomes a whole lot nicer place.
Seems benevolent enough, doesn’t it? It’s a movement that has grown across society, and it’s taking hold in our schools, and when I say “our” schools I mean even in our Catholic schools, and people do nice things just because they feel like it, or someone did for them, but there’s no mention of God. God is not the motivation behind it.
We probably all have friends or family or coworkers and neighbours who wonder why we go to Church every week. They might even say things to us like “I’m not a practicing Catholic, I don’t go to Church, I don’t need to go to Church to pray! I’m a nice person, I do good, isn’t that what God wants?”
Well yes, I think God does want us to be nice to each other, and with random acts of kindness we can seem to be headed in the right direction – but hang on, are we really?
Jesus us teaches us to be kind, in his name. “Whatever you do to others, you do unto me.” Jesus teaches us to love one another always.
That’s where the fully engaged Catholic should be cautious about the concept of Random Acts of Kindness. For one thing, it’s random. Another word for random might be sporadic, or occasional, or unpredictable, or rare, unexpected. Secondly, the kindness comes entirely from within.
Catholics, and all followers of Christ are actually about planned and deliberate acts of everyday kindness. We’re about universal caring, and kindness. We’re not supposed to be occasional, or unpredictable. Jesus taught us to live a life of anticipated caring, reliable love for each other, humble service others can count on, and a noticeably different way of living the Gospel with every word we speak, kindness we share, job we do and every stand in defense of the defenseless.There isn’t anything random about it, if you think about it. If it happens spontaneously it’s because we’ve been living it every day, every hour, with the Holy Spirit as our guide. We can’t help ourselves.
With a random act of kindness on a given day, we choose who we’re going to be nice to. The opposite must also then be true. We can choose not to be nice. We can look at other people and decide we don’t like them for whatever reason – their youth, their attitude, their ethnicity, their faith practice.
But that’s not what Christ taught us. Christ tells us to equally love every one. We don’t get to choose who to love, Christ commands us to love God, and to love our neighbour. Christ taught us, through his very example, to put others first, all other first, always.
When we forget that and embrace the false gods of secular pseudo-Christianity – to be Christ-like on our terms and when it suits us, in fact we have failed to heed his warning in the Gospel. “Beware that you are not led astray!” We must be cautious not to trade in our faith for something that sounds like what Christ said, but doesn’t attribute the source.
By constantly renewing our faith, together, as a community we are able to more clearly recognize those activities which are in keeping with the Catholic belief, those which are contrary, and those that chip away at our faith by sounding a lot like what Christ taught us to do, but as I said, without attributing the source.
It’s not that we shouldn’t practice random acts of kindness, we can and do, and we celebrate when a whole community does, too. It’s that the fully engaged Catholic does not ONLY practice kindness on specific days, and in circumstances only of our choosing.
Monday, 1 November 2010
I lined up for about 20 minutes at the Ministry of Transportation today to return the plates to a decommissioned car. People ahead of me were making sure that no one cut the line, even accidentally. People, mostly ladies, behind me hissed "this is ridiculous" at the long wait, as only a woman can hiss. I mentally mocked the idiots who waited so long only to reach the wicket and discover they weren't prepared - incomplete paperwork, incorrect information, lack of identification - all reasons to be rejected and sent grumblingly away to fix the problem and come back and do it all again.