Ditka or Die — All Blacks Rugby Comes to Chicago

Ya’ll ready for this?

The legendary New Zealand All Blacks take on (hah!) the USA Eagles on Saturday at Soldier Field.

We are sure that Mike Ditka is turning over in his grave, whether he is dead or not, because rugby is just not ‘Merican.

Still, there are some things to like about the sport, especially the bumper stickers that OU fraternity members had on their cars in 1974:

  • Rugby Players Eat Their Dead
  • Rugby Players Have Leather Balls
  • Give Blood, Play Rugby

After 21 years in rugby-mad New Zealand, I still have not come to grips with the finer points of the game. But I have picked up a few things that might be of help if you’re planning on watching the “AB’s” play a “test match” in “Chicago”.

1. Rugby players do not really eat their dead. They just tape their ears down, towel off the blood and brain matter, and bury them in a “scrum”.

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Mother’s Day ‘Momories’ Straight from the Heart (Republished)

  • Mom closeup

    Wanda June

One of my most treasured inheritances from Mom is a photocopied poem, surrounded by a hand-made sussy purple oval, held in a clunky, old wooden frame.

The poem is by Jenny Joseph. It’s not long:


“When I am an old woman I shall wear purple With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me. And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter. I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells And run my stick along the public railings And make up for the sobriety of my youth. I shall go out in my slippers in the rain And pick flowers in other people’s gardens And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat And eat three pounds of sausages at a go Or only bread and pickle for a week And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry And pay our rent and not swear in the street And set a good example for the children. We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now? So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

I love that poem, and the fact that it meant so much to Mom.

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Wire Dog

(This happy Moosedawg story is republished because it went missing from the blog, for some technoid reason. FYI, the Moosedawg had to be put down last year. Sniff).

death moosedawg

Last night, the ancient Moosedawg gave me the biggest laugh I have had for a long while.

He gave me his usual “WOOF”, which means, “I have finished dinner and … I forget… stand-by… Oh, right, I want in.”

I was busy, so in a few minutes, the 100-pound Moosedawg gave me his hurry-up signal.


When I opened the basement door, he came happily prancing in with that facial expression a dog gets when he is really pleased with himself.

When the Moosedawg has had that look in the past, it was usually after he’d slammed into the front gate like the hounds of hell, and caused a passing dog or dog owner to make wee-wee all over themselves.

This time, he was pleased with himself because he looked really cool, wearing the latest Moosedawg fashion accessory…


He had somehow walked halfway through the middle of the GM Finance’s precious tomato trellis, and it got stuck around his rib cage.

The trellis’ wire feet scratched against the concrete floor, so he sort of “sparked” as he happily pranced into the basement.

Now, I would give anything to have captured that Kodak Moment. But saving the Moosedawg’s life had to take precedence.

He wasn’t suffocating or anything. But if the GM Finance had seen him WEARING HER TOMATO TRELLIS, he would be dead.

Dead. Dead. Dead.

You see, for most of his life, he has been in a battle of wills with the GM Finance.

For example, she believes blood meal is the best fertilizer in the world. So, come hell or high water or the Moosedawg, she is going to use it in her much-loved garden.

The Moosedawg, however, believes that if he smells blood in the dirt, he is required by Natural Law to dig GREAT BIG HOLES until he finds a dead animal that he can either a) eat or b) roll on.

I cannot, in this brief blog post, express the rage that this has caused. Trust me, it has been massive. I still bear the scars.

I thought those days were gone. The old Moosedawg can’t see well enough, and he doesn’t have the horsepower anymore, to attack the GM Finance’s garden, like he did in the good old days.

Even so, there is still one tiny place that he loves to dig. So, of course, the GM Finance, in a strategic blocking maneuver, hammered her favorite tomato trellis into this prime real estate to stop Moose-digging.

Which sort of worked, when you think about it… Because the Moosedawg almost certainly was prevented from digging while wearing the tomato trellis, like a straight jacket.

What I would give for that photo.



Click these links for The Moosedawg’s Last Dance and Death of a Good Dog


Sometimes God Sends Eagles

fr tony brighter


Some things are universal.

I was reminded of that this weekend when Father Tony Ricard blew the roof off the 21st annual Eucharistic Convention in Auckland, New Zealand.

Father Tony is big time home boy, and major momma’s boy, from N’awlins. After Katrina hit in 2005, when everybody who could GET OUT of New Orleans, GOT OUT, Father Tony stayed as a shepherd for his battered people, and they rebuilt.

Father Tony – also Catholic chaplain to his beloved New Orleans Saints — is one of those rare Priests who can sing. And dance. And strut. And tell bodacious stories that make you laugh out loud. And, the very next instant, make you cry.

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Chickens Are Inevitable; So Don’t Squawk

Exhibit A -- "Stupid damn chicken"

Exhibit A — “Stupid damn chicken”

What is it with women and chickens?

My Singaporean Missus has wanted chickens for as long as I can remember. So, counting her, that raises the number of “pro-chicken” voters in my household to one.

I am in the “Over my dead chicken pluckin’ body will we have chickens” demographic.

Thankfully, I have managed to postpone/delay/sidestep the sensitive “chicken issue” for years and years.

Lately, I’ve increasingly felt in my bones that my chook-less days are numbered.

It really started last year when I, quite stupidly, took the Missus to a country fair that was beak-deep in chickens of the Foghorn Leghorn variety.

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HOG TREK — Boldly Going Where Only The Missus Has Gone Before



We put MissusFleet on a plane to Singapore 11 days ago. Since then, we have boldly gone where only the Missus has gone before.

Our Mission will end on tomorrow night when she returns, unless we have destroyed the house, and, potentially, the universe by then, because we have a “history”.

Before she left, our orders from the Missus at HOGFLEET were formidable, to say the least. They run for several pages, supplemented by strategically placed yellow and blue Post-It notes.

All. Over. The. House. Complete with diagrams.

A glimpse of our Orders include the following:

DOGGIES — Meds for the shaky Crack Puppy to be given, wrapped in cheese, morning and night. Teeth-cleaning treat (to be broken in half while inside the thick plastic bag to avoid mess and possible bloodshed) given morning and night to both doglettes after dinner. Slice of chicken dog roll to be given morning and evening, with one scoop dry food, laced with chicken treats. “Good Doggies!” who eat “all their food!!!” to be given additional chicken treats. Water dispenser is to be refilled nightly, in the sink, as this involves holding it upside down while screwing on the bowl portion. (When we read this, our Tricorder chirped as it began picking up danger). Dogs to be let out in the morning and evening; their feet wiped after each trip outside, followed by chicken treats and the saying of “Good Doggies” . Under no condition is the Bichon to get anything salty because, for some unexplained reason, this makes him try to gnaw off his left hind foot. (Tricorder beeping yellow alert).

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Humor During Lent? It’s Allowed. We promise.

(Reprinted, again, because I wanna.)

In New Zealand, we’ve already begun Lent — 40 days of prayer, fasting and penance leading up to Easter.

Since this is (mainly) a humor blog, I will begin my Lent by republishing a favorite about two great priests who were incredibly funny in very different ways.

Archimandrite Stephen was bigger than life and perfect for his ministry in media and evangelization. He could preach up a storm. And he so loved to laugh. Hee hee hee.

On his generous girth:

“I’m an Archimandrite in the Melkite Greek Catholic tradition. As you can see, we’re rather fluffy. Ha ha ha.”

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