The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: February 15, 2020

The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: February 15, 2020

Happy Valentine’s Day, a day late.

Connecticut-based photographer JoAnn Marrero of From Labor to Love, has gone viral for her loveable Valentine’s Day chocolate photoshoot, which features a giant heart-shaped chocolate box filled with adorable babies dressed in red ties and headbands.

Valentine’s Day wasn’t always about love

The earliest possible origin story of Valentine’s Day is the pagan holiday Lupercalia. Occurring for centuries in the middle of February, the holiday celebrates fertility. Men would strip naked and sacrifice a goat and dog. Young boys would then take strips of hide from the sacrificed animals and use it to whip young women, to promote fertility.

Lupercalia was popular and one of the few pagan holidays still celebrated 150 years after Christianity was legalized in the Roman Empire.

When Pope Gelasius came to power in the late fifth century he put an end to Lupercalia. Soon after, the Catholic church declared February 14 to be a day of feasts to celebrate the martyred Saint Valentine.

We’re all a little weird, and life’s a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.

• Dr. Seuss

That reminds me — Valentine’s Day cards have sometimes been a bit creepy.

Not too many love songs better than this one, written by the incomparable Dolly Parton and sung by one of the great pop voices of my lifetime: Whitney Houston

And, in the end, here’s what it’s really all about…

Other stuff from the week…

Mice scrap over a crumb of food on a London Underground station platform. The fight lasted a split second, and the mice went their separate ways. This photo was the winner of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year LUMIX People’s Choice Award. (Sam Rowley / Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Handler Crystal Murray-Klas sits with Siba, the standard poodle who won best in show during the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York on Feb. 11. (Stephanie Keith / Getty Images)

Academy Award winner for Best Picture: Parasite

From the review by Richard Roeper at The Chicago Sun-Times:

This is a film of such dramatic power and innovative comedy and romantic poetry and melancholy beauty that upon exiting a screening, you might well feel the urge to tell everyone in the lobby of the multiplex to delay their plans to check out some mainstream offering because if they truly love cinema, they should see THIS movie, immediately.


Pete the squirrel, who was a pet of President Harding. Photo from the Library of Congress/LC-DIG-hec-42488

From Atlas Obscura:

In 1722, a pet squirrel named Mungo passed away. It was a tragedy: Mungo escaped its confines and met its fate at the teeth of a dog. Benjamin Franklin, friend of the owner, immortalized the squirrel with a tribute.

“Few squirrels were better accomplished, for he had a good education, had traveled far, and seen much of the world.” Franklin wrote, adding, “Thou art fallen by the fangs of wanton, cruel Ranger!”

Mourning a squirrel’s death wasn’t as uncommon as you might think when Franklin wrote Mungo’s eulogy; in the 18th- and 19th centuries, squirrels were fixtures in American homes, especially for children. While colonial Americans kept many types of wild animals as pets, squirrels “were the most popular,” according to Katherine Grier’s Pets in America, being relatively easy to keep.

And now, introducing “Self-Care Barbie”

From Religion News Service:

Barbie has always filled the role that we now know as an Instagram influencer. In the ’60s she was a “swinger” in a Carnaby Street cape; in the ’80s she adopted aerobic instructor togs; by the ’90s she was pantsuited up to run for president. With her impossible physical proportions that no gym could possibly provide, and her artificial hauteur, she showed the way to the ideal life through unattainable glamour.

But last week, Mattel announced a new iteration, “Self-Care Barbie,” that transforms the company’s 61-year-old manikin into a being defined by the moral effort of such perfection. Created in partnership with the meditation app Headspace (which has also collaborated with Weight Watchers on the diet company’s wellness-focused rebranding), Self-Care Barbie, according to Mattel’s press release, informs us that the doll is designed to “introduce girls to self-care through play.”

There are actually four dolls to add to one’s shelf in the Self-Care collection. There’s a “spa doll,” who comes with a robe, and plenty of magazines to read, as well as adorable cucumber sunglasses. There’s a “fitness doll,” whose form-fitting gym kit comes with a protein bar that her plastic esophagus is unable to consume. There’s a “pampering doll,” who gets bath products and a loofah.

Finally, there is a “wellness dream” doll, who has a pillow and sleep mask. (To be fair, my personal wellness dream involves sleeping until noon). All dolls come with adorable puppies. (Also, in my mind, a reasonable form of self-care).

The four most wonderful words heard each February…

Gerrit Cole, NY Yankees. Gerrit Cole, NY Yankees. On Sept 18, 2019, Cole became the 18th pitcher in major league history to strike out at least 300 batters in a season. On Dec 16, 2019, Cole signed a $324 million contract with the Yankees, the largest contract in major league history for a pitcher.

“Pitchers and catchers report” are those words, of course. And we heard them this week, as Major League Baseball Spring Training opened across Florida and Arizona.

Gail and I will be in Tampa next Saturday to watch the Spring Training opener between the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays. I cannot wait to hear the sound of baseballs smacking in mitts and the crack of the bat. To have a beer and a brat, to look over a field of dreams under blue skies and enjoy a leisurely afternoon of the greatest game ever.

Ah, Fans, let not the Quarry but the Chase
Be that to which most fondly we aspire!
For us not Stake, but Game; not Goal, but Race—
THIS is the end of every fan’s desire.

From A Ballad of Baseball Burdens by Franklin Pierce Adams

On my winter playlist…

From the upcoming album, American Standard

41 thoughts on “The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: February 15, 2020

  1. I’ve heard the term “Baptized their Festivals”.

    Let the people have their festivals, just without the old gods.
    Grim ascetic spirituality and abstract theology doesn’t attract normal people.


  2. “Just remember there’s no difference between your Xanax prescription and his Mad Dog 20/20.”
    — Coffee with Jesus, to a well-off woman volunteering


  3. The photographer spent nearly a week in the Underground late at night waiting for the perfect action shot, laying down on the platform with his camera.

    Now THAT’s Dedication.


  4. Not that self-care is not important for everyone, yet sometimes what is needed is Perspective. Many of the “struggles” I hear about are struggles 96% of the world’s population would be happy to have.

    In the words of the prophet Alfred Yankovic,
    “First World Problems”.


  5. It is like the Star Spangled Banner, almost every singer now at a major event, has to “make it their own” by making it about their vocal talent and style rather than following the music.

    With or without the Roseanne Barr screech and crotch-grab.


  6. Apparently a mob of performers covered First Time I Ever Saw Your Face. It’s such a beautiful melody and poignant lyrics, written by Ewan McColl. I was surprised to find that one of my favorite UK artist had also covered it–I had listened to it numerous times without making the connection to Houston…

    Here it is, with a distinctly different melody;


  7. At a high school softball game, about sunset on a pleasant June evening, our recording of the anthem wouldn’t play……we all stood in formation, staring at the flag, and someone started to sing. We all joined in.
    Yes, it was perfect.


  8. Yes. For instance, it is just as likely that homelessness causes addiction to drugs and alcohol as vice versa.


  9. The four most wonderful words in baseball-catchers and pitchers report.

    The three most wonderful words in baseball-Go, Cubs, go!


  10. Two signs of spring in mid-February: pitchers and catchers report, and the Daytona 500 takes place tomorrow. That’s something nice and warm to think about on this sunny but frigid 36-degree afternoon in the suburbs of the nation’s capital.


  11. Oh boy maybe I need help. Maybe Valentine’s Day does it to me. Maybe it’s the overdose of the color pink. But when I saw “Self-Care Barbie” the first thing I thought of was… well I think everybody will be able to guess what I thought of wthout me being explicit.

    Jeez. I’ll go hide in the closet now.


  12. Very moved when watching ‘A Marriage To Remember’
    the side of love that is shown . . .

    Shout out to Susan in Australia. Sending hug.


  13. Just because there were so-called similar celebrations among non-Christians doesn’t mean that Christians “borrowed” the celebrations from them. Rituals tend to be basically the same across belief systems; what matters is which deity is the participant on the other side of the ritual. Valentine was a priest who did the things Christian priests did: he served the Liturgy, presided at marriages, visited prisoners and made sure Christians got proper burials. He is one of many, many early martyrs whose lives were remembered, down to the day they died, because they did something unique: they testified to Christ’s Resurrection by accepting death rather than worshiping another god.



  14. I really do think “America the Beautiful” should be our national anthem. We didn’t have a national anthem until 1931, and AtB was actually being considered for it.



  15. It’s actually quite a difficult song musically, with a range of an octave plus a fifth – getting into the operatic. But we’ve heard it so often that most people don’t have too much trouble if it’s in a good key (pun intended). We forget that the tune was a well known tavern ditty, so if drunks can sing it…



  16. That is an amazing img… takes my breath away. As I do a little photography at work, I can appreciate the amount of time and the attention to detail it took to get that shot… I imagine he spent hours, after being in the field combing through thousands of shots, as I assume he used continuous mode. I wonder how the mice look, zoomed in a bit closer…


  17. Dolly Parton is indeed s wonderful person and a credit to the great state of Tennessee.

    Last summer I attended an Atlanta Suddenly OTP Braves game. Instead of a grammyawardwinnimgrecordingartist, they just had a local high school choir sing the national anthem. It was perfectly performed, and a great start to the evening.. Even so, the lingering question is why we EVER have someone else sing it for us (to us?) instead of all singing it ourselves.


  18. Stephen/Adam T. I am with you on this . Whitney Houston of course great , powerful voice if you like that but like many others the song became a show case of her range and powerful voice and lost a lot of its tender meaning Even Dolly Parton version was softer and more real. Many singers covered it better in my opinion. It is like the Star Spangled Banner, almost every singer now at a major event, has to “make it their own” by making it about their vocal talent and style rather than following the music. To me it is annoying but I am an old geezer.

    By the way, heard Dolly Parton talk about this song, Elvis manager wanted Elvis to cover but wanted rights to song from Dolly. She refused and the rest is history. I met Dolly at Dollywood in Tn.(when first opened) and she was lovely in person, she was charming and pretty but mostly “real”. Just walking around with a hat on and unassuming . Really talked to us like a normal person. We respected her so much we did not do pictures. At least Loretta Lynn and Dolly remember were they came from , God Bless them.


  19. It’s pure 80s-90s overkill. I can’t take too much of it, but I also want to acknowledge the greatness of the talent and voice. In some live versions on YouTube, you can see Whitney’s gospel influences come through too.


  20. What many people of privilege criticize – like drinking – are some of the only forms of self-care available to the unprivileged. Coping with the reality that you are screwed, inhabiting a system and place which has no use for you, is stressful.


  21. Yes.

    I struggle with the emphasis on self-care, as a property owning six figure income straight white male in a booming city… Much of it sounds indulgent. Not that self-care is not important for everyone, yet sometimes what is needed is Perspective. Many of the “struggles” I hear about are struggles 96% of the world’s population would be happy to have.


  22. Ok I hesitate to offer this opinion, but confession is good for the soul, etc. When I hear this song, both versions, any version, I want to run screaming into the night. For me, FOR ME, it’s the aural equivalent of having an ice pick repeatedly rammed into my ears.

    There I’ve said it. Don’t hate me. Pity me if you must.

    But does this make me a bad person?.

    Here’s what I would offer in return.


  23. “I will always love you”, the best song of the century. The only problem is Whitney’s version was so powerful, everyone is afraid to try it again.


  24. The problem with a lot of self-care is that the people who get it aren’t the ones that really need it.


  25. Yesterday my 7 year old granddaughter got a stuffed animal from a 7 year old boy who indicated his desire to marry her. Granddaughter appeared not to impressed thankfully.


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