Friday, February 19, 2010
Go see Rainy Day Old Maid. It's a damn sight more interesting than anything you'll find below this cat.
Lent began on Wednesday. As is my wont - but only somewhat my want - I have given up flour and dairy for the duration.
Lent is comprised of the 46 days from Ash Wednesday until Easter (through Easter Saturday, that is, although some Christian denominations have the end point at the Thursday preceding Easter - Maundy Thursday - making it 44 days for them.) Generally speaking, it is a time when Catholics (and some other Christians, although not all) emulate in some small way the 40-day fast that Jesus undertook, in the desert, upon the beginning of his earthly ministry.
It is customary for those observing Lent to deny themselves something that they enjoy greatly. Many children give up sweets. According to some, that’s why baskets full of candies and chocolate became a customary gift for children on Easter Sunday. They were rewards for having completed the regimen. The abundance of the baskets was meant to show the children that denying oneself in small ways, for the glory of God, would result in future rewards more plentiful than the sum of the denials. Where and how bunnies became involved in this, I'm not sure. Probably some marketing thing cooked up by Hallmark.
(No, I'm not that dumb. I know it has to do with ancient pagan fertility rituals, but I'm not entirely sure why. Actually, I don't care. If somebody wants to give me copious amounts of chocolate, I'm not going to throw a monkey wrench into things just because a rabbit is supposedly delivering it. More power to you, Harvey.)
Why 46 days to commemorate a 40-day fast? In Catholicism, the tradition is to observe 40 days of fasting within the 46-day period, taking Sundays off. Sundays are supposedly off because that is a day of joy, a day for remembering Jesus' resurrection, and fasting does not easily lend itself to joy. I do the full 46, however, because I don't figure Jesus was returning from the desert to eat Ice Cream Sundaes on the sabbath, so neither will I. Anyway, keeping on with the fast actually makes it easier for me. Breaking it gets me strongly craving again for the day or two following.
Scholarly stuff may be found HERE and HERE and HERE.
As I said at the beginning, I've given up flour and dairy. This is something I do for the spirituality of it - the sacrificial is an attempt to become a better person through denial - but I have to be honest and say that I also undertake this fast for selfish reasons. Lent, although a movable thing, always appears on the calendar prior to softball season. By not eating bread, crackers, pasta, milk, cheese, pizza, cookies, cakes, ice cream, butter, and whatever else I've forgotten and will want tomorrow, I will drop somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 pounds between now and Easter. This is important because, by dropping that extra weight, I might not suffer a massive heart attack and keel over dead the first time I run the bases in April.
This year, I will attempt to go from 195 to 180. If I can't get down to 180, I won't play ball this year. My skills will have deteriorated enough, what with becoming 53 next month, without handicapping myself by dragging fifteen extra pounds of blubber onto the playing field. Unless I can drop the weight, I'll most certainly embarrass myself. So, no more cheesesteak subs or peanut butter crackers with chocolate milk until April.
When I reach 180, I'll let you know. If I don't, I'll deny ever writing this.
Now, having nothing whatsoever to do with any of the above, here are two places for you to go and have fun.
First, My Darker Gray Friend, Michelle Hickman, is having a contest and giveaway over at her place. Jewelry is the prize, ladies, so maybe you'd like to get your lovely selves over there and take a shot at winning? Go HERE.
The other place I'd like you to go is You Tube. No, wait! Don't just go there without knowing what I want you to see, you dope! Daryl, of Out & About In New York City, has turned me on to a film that is - in my humble opinion - hilarious and wonderful. It is definitely my cup of tea. It is about two slightly-past-their-prime degenerate gamblers (one definitely a bit more degenerate than the other) and I think it's absolute genius stuff. Of course, I came damn close to being one of those guys, more than I'd like to sometimes admit. Runs about 7 minutes, I believe, and well worth the time. Go see Rainy Day Old Maid.
And there you go. A bit of education, a smattering of holier-than-thou whininess, a swell contest, and a funny short film. What more do you want for the price of admission?
Soon, with more better stuff.
[Photo of bread and milk, which already look overwhelmingly delicious even though I'm only two days into my fast, came from All About You.]