Laughing Matters

A Facebook friend who I love so much wrote:

“Please think twice before making posts that joke about the COVID-19 virus. There are many of your friends that have loved ones with compromised immune systems that this is impacting, XXXX being one of them. We received a phone call from XXXX’s pulmonologist at Mayo Clinic on Monday specifically to inform us that XXXX is extremely susceptible to contracting the COVID-19 virus.”

As a person who has written and performed humor for decades and spent her entire life making people laugh, I’d like to respond.

I believe the majority of jokes are not intended to diminish the seriousness of COVID-19 or the sadness experienced by people who have or will lose a loved one it is a way to deal with our fear, anger, and feelings of powerlessness. Like my friend’s loved one, I have a target on my back with my age, asthma and now they say if you have type-A blood you are less likely to be able to fight it. I have A+ blood.

In my mind right now, I am sitting in my home waiting for a knock at the door and a tall, dark, and not necessarily handsome figure will be there challenging me to a game of chess and I DON’T KNOW HOW TO PLAY CHESS!!!!!!

In Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning” discussing not just his experience in a Nazi concentration camp but how a person survives when life seems to be intolerable and common sense would say give up. He writes:

“The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living…. Humor [is] another of the soul’s weapons in the fight for self-preservation. It is well known that humor, more than anything else in the human make-up, can afford an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, even if only for a few seconds.”

I think about my dear friend Dale Wolf who fought and then surrendered to cancer – the whole time using her gift of humor. Even writing her own obituary.

So to my Facebook friend, I mean no disrespect to you or your legitimate concern, but I will keep making jokes to keep myself (and maybe others) from curling up in the fetal position and waiting for death. And, if this disease kills me I hope my last words will be ones I plagiarized: “Dying is easy; comedy is hard.”

Now I have to go online and find a tutorial on how to play chess.

Response Regarding Father VanDenBroeke


I guess I caused a bit of trouble for Father VanDenBroeke (here is a much better picture that the one that was on his church’s website). I contacted the Catholic Diocese of Minneapolis/St. Paul about Father VanDenBroeke’s homily and received this response, after two days and when the news story broke (or as we say in the blogging biz the shit hit the fan)  I received a response:

Dear Mary,

Thank you for contacting the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis regarding Father Nick VanDenBroeke’s Immigration Sunday homily.  Below is a statement from Archbishop Hebda and an apology from Father VanDenBroeke.

 From Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda:

I have spoken with Father VanDenBroeke about his homily on immigration and he has expressed sorrow for his words and an openness to seeing more clearly the Church’s position on our relationship with Islam. The teaching of the Catholic Church is clear. As Pope Benedict XVI noted, “The Catholic Church, in fidelity to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, looks with esteem to Muslims, who worship God above all by prayer, almsgiving and fasting, revere Jesus as a prophet while not acknowledging his divinity, and honour Mary, his Virgin Mother.”  He called upon the Church to persist in esteem for Muslims, who “worship God who is one, living and subsistent; merciful and almighty, the creator of heaven and earth, who has also spoken to humanity.”  If all of us who believe in God desire to promote reconciliation, justice and peace, we must work together to banish every form of discrimination, intolerance and religious fundamentalism.

That continues to be our teaching today.  Pope Francis has echoed Pope Benedict, stating that it is important to intensify the dialogue between Catholics and Islam.  He has emphasized “the great importance of dialogue and cooperation among believers, in particular Christians and Muslim, and the need for it to be enhanced.”  He has called for all Christians and Muslims to be “true promoters of mutual respect and friendship, in particular through education.”

I am grateful for the many examples of friendship that have been offered by the Muslim community in our region and we are committed to strengthening the relationship between the two communities.

From Father Nick VanDenBroeke:

My homily on immigration contained words that were hurtful to Muslims.  I’m sorry for this.  I realize now that my comments were not fully reflective of the Catholic Church’s teaching on Islam.

Both statements may be found here:

Thank you,

VanDenBroeke’s apology reminds me when one sibling is forced to apologize to another sibling: “I guess my fist was hurtful to your face. I’m sorry. I know now that my fists hitting you are not reflective of mom’s teaching on loving your sibling.” I’m sure he is sorry he was caught but apologizing for words isn’t exactly the same as admitting you were wrong. I doubt that he will ever do that. This is what I think a conversation between the Father and I would look like:


Lonsdale Priest Says Keep Out Muslims

Grove Church (from website)

The other day a friend responded to a post of mine in Facebook about a news article I read on how the Methodist church leadership wants to revive a church in Cottage Grove, Minnesota and their first step is to ask all of the current members, most of whom are 60+, to go away.  She said:

I went to the catholic church in Lonsdale a few weeks ago for a family baptism and the priest said from the pulpit that we should not let Muslims into the country. He said other disturbing things, but that was the kicker.

I couldn’t believe this, although I guess I’m not sure why I shouldn’t believe it. Such a statement is no longer a surprise in this country – but I guess if this was going to come from a church pulpit I expected it to be an evangelical “Christian” church pulpit, not one at a Catholic church.

From church website

So I had to try to find the church and see if there was any reference to the statement. The church is the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Lonsdale, Minnesota. Lonsdale is located about 40 miles south of the Twin Cities in Rice County. It is a fast growing community that since 1970 has gone from a census population of 622 to an estimated current population of 4,000. This includes a friend of mine from work and her husband and daughter. She loves it there and raves about what a great place it is. She also thinks this is a bullshit. Continue reading

Moms The Word

When Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder was asked how she could be both a politician and a mother, she replied, “Because I have a brain and a uterus.” On the second Sunday in May we celebrate Mother’s Day- a day that historically has tended to salute only one of the organs Schroeder mentioned.

Mother’s Day evokes all sorts of emotions in people. Generally, attitudes fall somewhere between the cynical “Bah Mumbug” stance, which holds the position that Mother’s Day is perpetuated by retailers as a way to line their pockets, and the “Apple Pious” belief that motherhood is a sacred calling placing mothers right up there with doctors, popes, honest politicians, and switch-hitters batting over 300.

It is in this abyss between emotions that most of us decide just how to celebrate Mother’s Day. Do we ignore it? Do we give it a passing mention with a token gift? Do we create a spectacle of love worthy of a mini-series starring Melissa Gilbert?

If we decide to give a gift, the process of choosing the gift is not terribly difficult because mothers love anything you give them – even the mother who every year says “Don’t buy me anything; Save your money; I have everything I could ever want.” Flowers and candy are traditional choices, especially for people who need to send their gifts across the country. Clothing, perfume, photographs, dining out, knickknacks, are also common choices. But retailers will try to persuade you that their product is an excellent choice, so you will need to use common sense. Think twice before wrapping up that power drill, gerbil, Meatloaf’s “Bat Out Of Hell” CD, steam iron or Monistat 7 gift set. And even if you do find choosing a gift to be fairly easy, you will soon discover that choosing a Mother’s Day card is hell.

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10 Times When War IS the Answer

I saw this sign (well a similar sign) on someone’s lawn the other day (before it was covered with April snow). I’ve seen this and heard it probably a thousand times since the 60s (many of those times I saw it through “rose-colored glasses” if you catch my drug-referenced drift) but this time I stopped and thought “that’s not true.” There are many times when war IS the answer. For instance:


1.  What song did Edwin Starr sing in 1970 (Good God why’all)?

2.  What is a card game where each player turns up a card at the same time and the player with the higher card takes both cards and at the end your brother says you were a cheater but you know he was a cheater AND a stinky face?

3.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor Roosevelt declared what?
a.  War
b.  His vacation to Hawaii was postponed
c.  We need to find a date that will live in infamy
d.  His love for Eleanor

4.  What is RAW spelled backwards?

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Mary F*in’ Poppins?

I love the movie Mary Poppins. When I was a kid I had the piano music and could play all the songs. “Feed the Birds” always made me sad — still does. So I am looking forward to the movie Mary Poppins Returns. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Lin Manuel Miranda is going to play Bert!

So the other day I was at the theater seeing “A Wrinkle in Time” and saw a trailer for the movie:

At the end of the trailer was this:

Well isn’t that just Supercalifrickinlisticexpialidocious?  “This film has not yet been rated?!?!?!?!?!” Is there any chance it would be anything other than “G”? But it got me thinking — what could be in the film that would give it an “R” rating:

  • “Chimney Sweeps” is now an all male dance show in Vegas. You wouldn’t believe what they use to clean your chimney.
  • Michael Banks’ spoonful of sugar has become a spoonful of coke and he’s in the First Fidelity rehab facility.
  • Jane Banks is living in a double-wide with her five kids from five different baby daddies. She works at a local tobacco store — Sister Cigarette.
  •  Uncle Albert is selling nitrous oxide at his “On The Ceiling Coffee Bar” so everyone can love to laugh.
  • Mary Poppins traded sliding up and down the banister to a sliding up and down a dance pole at the local watering hole.
  • Bert no longer “steps in time” but is “doin’ time” for selling pot brownies at his Jolly Holiday Cafe.

Yep, I guess there is a chance this could turn “R” — I mean it is starring Emily “Blunt” isn’t it. Everybody jump into the chalk drawing!!!!!

Changing Times

Today I was in the women’s restroom at a local restaurant and saw a changing table. These are such a nice amenity for moms who used to have to try to change a child on the floor of the bathroom while people walked around her as she was questioning all the decisions she had made in her life and longing for a strong adult drink. And this got me to thinking which, of course, got me to Googling, which got me here. Stay with me — I’m going somewhere with all of this.

I started wondering if there was a changing table in the men’s restroom. Now I haven’t been in a men’s room since the Bob Seger concert in 1987 when the line for the women’s room was too long and the beers in my bladder were too many so I boldly went where few women have gone before, and by “went” I mean the double entendre. So I truly didn’t know if there were changing tables in men’s rooms. I had a feeling if they were in men’s rooms they weren’t in very many. Then while Googling I found this on the Huffington Post:

On Oct. 7, President Obama signed into law the Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation Act, aka the BABIES Act. This legislation requires that both men’s and women’s restrooms in publicly accessible federal buildings contain baby changing tables.

The entire article is here.   President Obama thought of everything except how to run for a third term (damn you Franklin Roosevelt for ruining this for us). Of course our current president will probably have this Act revoked by executive order because he doesn’t like anything that was enacted during the Obama administration, but until then it is the law.

After finding out about this law,  I found an article by a dad who was concerned that a changing table in a men’s room should be in an area that allows privacy. In this article “The Problem with Having Changing Tables in Men’s Restrooms (find it here), Jonathan Church stated:

I imagine it is rather unsettling for men relieving themselves in the restroom to be forced to maneuver around a table where a father is wiping down the private parts of an infant before applying a diaper, however deferential or understanding they may pretend to be.

I never realized how delicate men are when they are peeing. I have seen men peeing in public parks, at bus stops, on subway platforms, on buses, even into a beer cup at a rock concert (ironically the Bob Seger concert of 2016 but Kid Rock was the opener so I wasn’t all that surprised). So I guess I’m surprised at how a child having their diaper changed would be “unsettling” to men. And by “unsettling” does that mean it could result in an inability to vacate the bladder, visible shrinkage of the peepee, or could it result in CVSD (Changing Viewing Stress Disorder)?

Okay — I’m wrapping this up; thanks for hanging in with me. Today, seeing this changing table in the women’s restroom sent me on this journey. Why?

Because I know men, and I too have a concern about having this installed in a men’s restroom. It’s not because I think men are too fragile to witness a baby being changed; it is because I have a terrible feeling that intoxicated males will mistake it for a urinal. And wouldn’t that be sad. Maybe Jonathan Church was right and this should be hidden — drunk guys cannot be trusted.

And The Winner Isn’t…

I found out yesterday that I didn’t win the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. I have attended the workshop conference four times but this year the only way I was going to afford it was to win this contest or rob a bank and then kill off all the people in front of me on the wait list. Despite not winning I have decided not to proceed with my second option. It seems like a lot of work and I really need my beauty rest.

In an effort to make lemonade out of lemons I did learn an important lesson and will pass it on to you. Don’t go to Target after getting some disappointing news. It won’t end well. 

There is a double-secret Facebook page for people who have attended a workshop. I posted my sage advice about not shopping and also spoke of my disappointment. The feedback was fabulous and I discovered numerous other people who also shared my non-winning disappointment. We are considering forming our own triple-secret Facebook page to share recipes, mixed drink ideas, and coupons for fast food places. (Take that you winners!!!!)

The bottom line is that I got out of my funk and all the food is still unopened except the jelly beans that are in a quadruple-secret candy jar in my home and the cake bites that I tried but they tasted horrible so I tossed them out. The other items are actually for my get together with Annie tonight.

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Thanks Dad

My dad was a wonderful guy — and he had a great sense of humor and a big laugh. I was lucky enough to have those passed on to me. I remember one Easter when I came downstairs my dad had put chocolate covered raisins on the floor by our Easter baskets. He said “Look, the Easter Bunny pooped on the floor” and then picked up one of the droppings and ate it. I thought I was going to die at first of disgust then after I knew what it was I was going to die laughing.

When I was a bit older my dad came with us to church on Easter — this was unusual to have my dad in church with my mom, my brother and me — he preferred to stay home and watch reruns of “The Bowery Boys.” When we were singing an Easter anthem we all sang “Christ The Lord is risen today,” and during the alleluia my dad leans down and the next thing I hear is “Now we all are going to pay.” Well he and I are laughing so hard and my mom is giving us the dirtiest of looks.

Easter always reminds me of those great moments. Thanks Dad.