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Friday, February 21, 2014

David Beckham, Soccer and My Son...

Possibly his favorite position on the field...
I must admit I'm not much of a soccer fan.  As I tell my friends, watching men with long locks and hair bands fruitlessly run up and down a field is not my idea of fun, regardless of how pretty their hair may look blowing in the wind! 

In fact, outside of jumping on the World Cup bandwagon every four years (usually only during the championship game, if there's a party!), you're not going to catch me watching a soccer game.

Therefore, all the talk and hoopla about David Beckham bringing MLS soccer to Miami was met by me with as much enthusiasm as a janitor called to unclog New Jersey Governor Chris Christy's office toilet.  Yay!  How much fun is that?

However, it did bring back fond memories of my son's prowess on the soccer field several years ago, or should I say, lack thereof.

Let me start by saying that, despite my dislike for the sport, when my daughters and, later, my son wanted to play intramural soccer at their Catholic school in Pre.K, Kinder, and, in our younger daughter's case, up until second grade, I obliged, if only for the sake of getting them involved in a team sport, which played a big part of my life growing up.  But, as much as I enjoyed watching my daughters, I must say, my son was particularly fun to watch.

Granted, he was only about four or five at the time and his coordination left a lot to be desired but watching him play soccer was, at times, like what I would imagine it would be like watching the doctor with a limp on the TV show House try to run on a treadmill.

The boy spent more time rolling on the grass then running after the soccer ball!

He was like the old Dwayne Wade commercial; fall down seven times, get up eight (only he wasn't being knocked down and he fell way more than seven times!).

Let's put it this way, in a fifty-five second video I shot, during one game, he was on the turf three times!  He was like a slow rolling bowling bowl knocking down pins along the way.

In fact, initially, he thought that was what he was supposed to do.  Having watched University of Miami football games with me shortly before he started playing soccer, he actually thought he was supposed to tackle the other players. 

For the first few games, he would come up behind other players, as they dribbled the ball, and threw himself on top of them; not tackling them, mind you, but just plopping on top of them.   Other times, he would just run through them and take them down with him, including his own teammates.  He didn't discriminate! (You know what they say, if you're going to go down, take someone with you!)  It was really very comical, albeit,  a bit embarrassing with some of the more serious soccer parents!

In other words, there were not many, Bill Cosby's, "Now, that's my boy!" moments for wife and me at his games.

Even when I told him that he wasn't supposed to knock the other players down, he ended up falling on his own anyway.  It was as if the field was being tilted and moved around by a great game master trying to get a little ball into a hole somewhere.

No, David Beckham wasn't going to come around knocking at the door of our house with a contract, any time soon.

On the bright side, at least it showed resiliency!

Even so, I'm happy he switched to baseball...

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Let the Sun Shine In...

"Sunlight is all about the house, but for sunlight to get in we must open the blinds. The physician of souls can cure, but we must know we are sick and must want to be cured. God calls! We can pretend we do not hear, we can accept Him, or we can reject His voice. It is each person’s inalienable right to decide."

--Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, priest, author and one of the first and greatest televangelists in U.S. history.  Sheen hosted a prime time television show called, Life is Worth Living in the 1950's and The Fulton Sheen Program in the 1960's.  His cause for canonization was officially opened in 2002 and, in 2012, Pope Benedict XVI recognized him as "Venerable Servant of God," for a life of heroic virtue...

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Harry Connick Giving Fatherly Advice on American Idol...

Harry Connick, Jr.
In one of the most memorable lines of Godfather III (maybe the only memorable line), Michael Carleone says, "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."

That could well be my motto year after year as I sit
in front of the television with my daughters to watch American Idol.

It seems that every year, I get reeled back in, like the "sucker born every minute" that P.T. Barnum mentioned in his famous quote.

Usually, I get hooked by a contestant with a heart-warming story of defying personal struggles and afflictions through faith, hope, perseverance and a gift that only God could have given them to finally get a chance to live out their dream.

In recent memory, Danny Gokey comes to mind and Paris Tassin.  Paris who?  Yeah, she didn't make it very far in 2011 but she had an amazing story

However, after the fiasco of the foul-mouth Nicki Minaj and her ongoing dispute with Mariah Carey last season, I swore I was done with the show (again!). 

That is until I heard they were bringing back the highly popular Jennifer Lopez as a judge (Let's be honest, she's reason enough to tune in every week, although let's keep this between us since I don't want my wife thinking I'm watching just because of J-Lo!), as well as Keith Urban (which I write with same enthusiasm as the Heat announcer calls out the names of the opposing players when they score a basket.  Just kidding, he kind of grows on you!) and Harry Connick, Jr. 

Connick, in particular, piqued my interest.  I had been wanting to blog about him ever since my wife told me he was a practicing Roman Catholic several years ago. 

In fact, during the first several weeks of the show, he's made several references and comments that denote his faith and values, such as mentioning the sacrament of confession a few times, or dissing a singer's tattoo, or telling a 15-year-old girl that she should choose more age-appropriate music, "Cuz hearing about you 'shaving me smooth' really was creapin' me out,' prompting J-Lo to chime in by saying, "You're such a dad!" (which, before Al Bundy and Homer Simpson was not such a bad thing since everybody knows, Father Knows Best!).

"Harsh Harry," as he is now referred to on the show for his blunt comments, was raised Catholic, despite having a Jewish mother.  According to the singer/actor, his father was Irish-Catholic and his mother didn't push any religion on him, wanting him to make his own choice when he got older.  He says he was convinced about his faith by his early teens, "At the age of 14, I decided that I really wanted to be Catholic so I got Confirmed and Baptized on the same day."

He attended a Jesuit high school but, in a 2009 interview with Christianity Today, he actually credited his parents' faith and example with shaping his life more than anything he learned at school or from the pulpit.

The Connick, Jr. family...
“I think the church manifests itself in my life through the people who have set the best examples for me, like my dad, my sister. My mother, who was raised Jewish…knew more about the Catholic Church than 99 percent of the Catholics I know. And her actions were Christian actions. The kind of faith in God that she and my father had, honestly that probably shaped me more than the Church did growing up. Because I learn by observing. I learn more by an example that’s been set than by doctrine or the words that are being spoken.”

The three-time Grammy and two-time Emmy winner, who performed for Pope Benedict XVI at Yankee Stadium, during the Holy Father's visit to the U.S. in 2008, and often volunteers for Church fund raisers and to help the needy in his hometown of New Orleans, credits his faith for shaping who he is, which is considered by many to be classic and traditional, like his music.     

In an interview on the Busted Halo Show with Fr. Dave Dwyer, he said, "For me having my faith and my family allows me to go out into the stratosphere with my art and it makes me completely uninhibited as a singer and as an actor because I know where my home is."

Unlike his mother, who chose to wait, the husband of more than twenty years to his wife, Jill, and father of three girls says he wanted to instill and pass on his faith to his children from early on, "My children, I chose to have baptized because, personally, I think it's better to raise them in a situation or an environment and if they want to decide, they're going to grow up anyway.  But, I think if they have structure; no matter what religion you choose for them,  I think it's important to have that and that's something that I missed as a little kid."

Interestingly, a Patheos article recently pointed out that this is the first "all Catholic" American Idol judging panel (Or, at least Catholic-influenced, since J-Lo attended Holy Family Catholic school in the Bronx, and Keith Urban got married in a Catholic wedding with actress Nicole Kidman in 2006).

So this year, as I watch the popular show, where sometimes anything goes, with my girls, which I am truly enjoying because of the chemistry between the judges (Connick's wit and slapstick humor often has Urban crying in laughter), it is refreshing to know that, at least, my daughters are watching and listening to some sound faith-based advice that the famous Jazz musician "dad," gives to the contestants.

In an interview, Connick once said, “I have pretty good judgment about what's out of bounds in terms of what's crass or lewd or inappropriate.”  Therefore, since I was pulled back in, like Michael Carleone, I'm hoping "Harsh Harry" continues to show uncompromising judgment and be more like Jim Anderson (Father Knows Best) in injecting some much needed traditional values to prime time TV...