Verse of the Day for 12-23-20

Hashers Relaxing in the Tri-Delta Sorority Kitchen. From left to right: Brian (who had to work and couldn’t join us this morning and whom we nevertheless still love), Me (back when I was half the man I am today), and Kim, who is a guy.
Annual Hayshers' Reunion Breakfast, 12-23-20
For Kim (But not for Brian, who stood us up. Again.)

Old friends and eggs (and lox) --
Meaningful, meandering talks --
A year in the making,
this bread-breaking
is ever a pleasure for me.

Twenty-sevenish years ago, my friend Kim (a dude) watched idly from the sidelines as I debated a bevy of my mamby-pamby co-religionists in a heated debate that took place in the lobby of the Newman Center at the University of Arizona. Beleaguered by fools and appeasers who maintained that morality could not be legislated, I — like noble Aragorn fending off the Nazgûl on Weathertop– valiantly took on all comers. “Of course you can legislate morality! That’s what laws do! Or do you think murder is only illegal because it’s messy?” (For the record, I don’t think goodness can be legislated, but laws are always a reflection of a society’s morals.)

At the time, the Newman Center was located across the street from the Tri-Delta sorority house where Kim worked as a “hasher” (i.e. dishwasher / slop slinger). Kim was — and still is — a devout Evangelical, but he would frequently pop into the Newman Center to pray. (He’s cool like that.) Anyway, after I vanquished all those ninnies, he — like the mysterious Ranger Strider at the Prancing Pony in Bree — approached.

“I’m on your side,” he said.

“You have a funny way of showing it,” I didn’t.

“My name is Kim Brown. I’m impossibly cool. Wanna be friends? And, yeah, you heard right: I’m a dude named Kim.”

“Absolutely,” I said.

And that, more or less, is how Kim and I became friends. Eventually, he recruited me to work with him at the sorority and that’s where the picture above was taken. Most of the guys who signed up to work as hashers were undependable creeps / frat boys who just wanted to hit on the girls. They would inevitably bail, and when they did, Kim would propose one of his Christian friends as a replacement. The house mother always agreed to bring Kim’s friends on because we always (eventually) got our work done and never hit on the ladies. I forget where she was from, but she always called us “hayshers” instead of “hashers” and that’s what we’ve called ourselves ever since.

I don’t remember when we started meeting up for breakfast, but it’s been an annual tradition for a while now and it’s always a great time. Our hilarious friend and fellow haysher Brian joins us when he can, but he’s very responsible now that he’s no longer in a rock band with Kim. The cat’s in the cradle, Brian.

Hopelessly, the V.O.T.D. to You

Many years and pounds ago, I kept a little blog called The Natalist Diaries. It was meant to be a field journal of my domestic safari. For some reason, I recently revisited it and found to my delight that I enjoyed what I had written. One of the things I used to do for fun on that site was compose short pieces of light verse for my own amusement (as a kind of adult recess) and post them. Reading them again, I found that some made me cringe and others were pretty charming. Anyway, that trip down memory lane (and Billy Collin’s MasterClass on poetry) has inspired me to resume my old habit of writing a Verse of the Day (V.O.T.D.) for my enjoyment and for any of my readers who have been waiting for me to post more stuff. (I’m working on it…)

I hope you enjoy. As I pointed out at my other site, these little poems are meant to be recess, not good poetry.

Please leave a comment, if only to say hello. I miss human interaction and I don’t spend much time on Facebook anymore. I will not miss this stupid pandemic when it’s over.

Verse of the Day for 12-21-20

Highland Cattle
Highland cattle
Have long hair that'll
Impress you, if you've never seen it.
Still, I pity the ranch hand
In charge of their grooming --
It must be a hassle to clean it.

HDYGH – Episode 12 Show Notes

In today’s episode, I sit down with Ruth Baker, a new friend from Lancaster, England–all the way across the internet (and the Atlantic Ocean). Ruth is a writer, part-time lay chaplain at Lancaster University, and an admin worker for Aid to the Church in Need. I ask her, “How Did You Get Here?”

Displaying Photo on 15-05-2020 at 16.47.jpg
Ruth Baker of Lancaster, England. And the Internet.
It’s more than our time zones that differ.

In the show notes for Episode 11, I included a link to an article about St. Therese and encouraged readers to petition its author to be on my show:

Here is a great blog post on the subject: I Didn’t Like St. Therese of Lisieux… Until I Learned These 8 Little Known Facts About Her. Tell the author of that post I sent you. I want her to be on the podcast. Here’s a bonus post from her that is just lovely: A Love Story In The Time Of Quarantine.

It worked! Today’s guest is Ruth Baker (soon to be Ruth Kennedy) and she was a delight to interview. Before the interview I got this text from my wife, who knows how much I like English culture and how excited I was to interview Ruth:

Genesis 2:18

When I insisted that being overwhelmingly excited was part of my charm, she made it clear that I was incorrect: “No. It is not.”

Who has a better wife than I do? No one, that’s who.

Meanwhile, you can find Ruth on the internet at or at her new blog / lockdown project about the beauty of English Catholicism, Lingering Echoes.

Note: Links to books theoretically earn me money at Amazon. I’m still waiting for this to happen.

Show Notes (more or less in order of appearance)

Castlerigg Manor played a huge role in Ruth’s story. It is much lovelier than its website, which could very well be the worst site I’ve ever seen on the internet. If you think I’m kidding, click that link. It will make you want to bleach your eyes.
  • God, like Genie in the clip below, goes more than halfway to save us.
  • Keswick, Cumbria. Some people believe the name of this town means “farm where cheese is made,” which is a perfect segue into this:

Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.

Cheese” by G. K. Chesterton, published in Alarms and Discursions (1910)
Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Lampeter, Ceredigion, Wales (Image from

The Welsh Blues

Displaying Hiraeth..jpg
An untranslateable Welsh word with a reasonable number of consonants. Translated.
  • Longing for Narnia, Yearning for the Good
  • The poem Ruth mentioned was “Barbed Wire.”
  • I mentioned a song called “Let Them In.” That link includes this (evidently erroneous) backstory on the song:
    Let Them In was made into song by John Gorka from a poem found in a hospital in the Philippines during World War II. The nurse that found the poem kept it all these years until the recent war brought out all the memorabilia. Luckily, her daughter sent a copy to John.
  • The truth is–and I just learned this today–that the original poem was a sonnet penned by a woman named Elma Dean. The poem was read into the Congressional Record of the Senate on June 12, 1944.
“A Letter to St. Peter” by Elma Dean
  • Here is the cover version of Gorka’s song by David Wilcox that I like. Loads of hiraeth in this song.

The Usual Links

Special Thanks:

  • To COVID-19, for making this interview possible.
  • To Ruth Baker for coming on the show (and not writing me off as a cyber-stalker).
  • To the English Jesuits, St. John Fisher, and St. Thomas More who gave all to preserve the Faith of Our Fathers in theLand of Our Mother Tongue.
  • To BPD for producing the show. How are we ever going to top this?

HDYGH – Episode 11 Show Notes

In today’s episode, I sit down with my friend Liz Perry, a teacher and writer who currently works at Saint Mary’s High School, but will one day be known far and wide as a comedy writer on a famous TV show.

Liz “Lemon” Perry

Show Notes (in order of appearance)

Heads up: Links to books theoretically earn me money at Amazon. This has never actually happened.

  • Windsor, Ontario vs. Detroit, Michigan. This blog post supports what I heard, but, based on all the other results I found online, it is entirely possible that, a) I have no idea what I’m talking about and/or b) both towns suck.
The Black Madonna of Częstochowa
  • Our Lady of Częstochowa. Click here to learn how to pronounce it properly, as Liz did and not like some rube, as I did.
Polish breaks Speech-to-Text software.
  • I learned something cool about this image on Wikipedia:
    “The Virgin Mary is shown as the “Hodegetria” (“One Who Shows the Way”). In it the Virgin directs attention away from herself, gesturing with her right hand toward Jesus as the source of salvation. In turn, the child extends his right hand toward the viewer in blessing while holding a book of gospels in his left hand.” 
  • Hodegetria is a fitting title for Mama Mary (see here) and a great Scrabble word.
  • Wikipedia also confirmed something truly weird that I knew, but that, you, dear reader/listener, may not have known.
  • Rev. Jesus Urteaga is an incredible author who will kick your lukewarm a$$. He wrote two excellent books. An English copy of his book Los defectos de los santos (The Defects of the Saints) is harder to find than the Holy Grail* (and more expensive). I got my copy from the Philippines via my ex-sister-in-law’s visiting aunt who saved me the $40 shipping fee.
    His book El valor divino de lo humano was originally published in English as Man, the Saint and was a bare-knuckled tune-up for your pathetic excuse for a spiritual life. It was later renamed Saints in the World, toned down a bit, and given an incongruously milquetoast cover. It’s still totally worth reading, especially if you’re in a men’s group. Here’s Chapter 1. You’re welcome.
    * Every chalice at every validly celebrated Mass is a Holy Grail. [drops mike]
  • St. Thérèse of Lisieux wasn’t everyone’s cup of “T.” The release of her unaltered autobiography made her a lot more relatable. Here is a great blog post on the subject: I Didn’t Like St. Therese of Lisieux… Until I Learned These 8 Little Known Facts About Her. Tell the author of that post I sent you. I want her to be on the podcast. Here’s a bonus post from her that is just lovely: A Love Story In The Time Of Quarantine.
  • St. Philomena. Not my jam.
  • My jam. Also, what the wha…?
Teachings of Jesus 39 of 40. the rapture. one at the mill. Jan Luyken etching. Bowyer Bible
The Rapture. This is why we need the authority of the Church.
  • I was pretty sure St. Josemaría had this to say about praying the Rosary, but I only found it in one place–with no citation–on the internet. The INTERNET. Weird, right? I think it means he probably didn’t say it, but it sounds like him, so here:

    “If you get distracted in spite of your good will, don’t worry. Keep praying, for that prayer is like the strumming on the guitar by a lover singing to his beloved. Even though the thoughts might be elsewhere, your good desires and your vocal prayer will be there as a present to the Lord and his Mother, in a song of love.”
  • Praying the Rosary be like… (until 1:00).

The unaltered version of St. Thérèse’s autobiography reveals a more relatable Little Flower.

“One evening, not knowing in what words to tell Our Lord how much I loved him, and how much I wished that He was served and honoured everywhere, I thought sorrowfully that from the depths of hell there does not go up to Him one single act of love. Then, from my inmost heart, I cried out that I would gladly be cast into that place of torment and blasphemy so that He might be eternally loved even there.”

St. Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul
  • Undercover Boss cleans portable toilets. His trainer thinks of his job as an adventure. Amazing.
  • Josh Hartnett. Do you remember him now?
  • Saint Genesius. He’s the patron saint of actors, comedians, clowns, and lawyers, among others.
  • Missed opportunity. I should have shared this Chesterton quote from his book Heretics with Liz. But I didn’t. D’oh! “Mr. McCabe thinks that I am not serious but only funny, because Mr. McCabe thinks that funny is the opposite of serious. Funny is the opposite of not funny, and of nothing else.”
  • Stephen Colbert gave a great interview that goes nicely with Chesterton’s quote.

“The times are never so bad but that a good man can live in them.”

Saint Thomas More
  • Saint Thomas More was also funny. On his way up to the scaffold where he was to be beheaded, he asked for assistance. “I pray you, master Lieutenant, see me safe up and [for] my coming down, let me shift for myself.” As he placed his head on the chopping block, he carefully positioned his beard so that is would not be cut. “This hath not offended the king,” he said.
  • I’m quite sure Hilaire Belloc would’ve thought my Lorenzo story was hilarious (no pun intended). He wrote these quarantine-must-read classics.

Jim: Who Ran Away from His Nurse and Was Eaten by a Lion is a delightful pop-up book based on Belloc’s Cautionary Tales for Children. It is one of my soon-to-be-six-year-old daughter’s favorite books. Delightful.

  • Watch The Chosen. Low budget. High impact. Here’s an article about how it’s the largest crowdfunded amount ever raised for a movie.
  • Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead
  • Speaking of booze and Catholicism… Pints with Aquinas is a great podcast. Matt, if you trackback links to your page, hi. Please be on my show. Not to brag, but Trent Horn could pick me out of a lineup and not for the usual reasons people pick other people out of lineups.

The Usual Links

Special Thanks:

  • To Liz Perry for coming on the show.
  • To Canadia for sharing its Native Daughter.
  • To Mr. & Mrs. Perry for sharing their actual daughter. (Well done, Mom and Dad!)
  • To Gary Somers, ERP Analytics, and the Los Angeles Community College District for making delays of this podcast possible. (My wife and our creditors thank you, too!)
  • To BPD for producing the show. You are extra, double-plus awesome, mate. Innit though?

HDYGH Episode 10 Show Notes

In today’s episode, I sit down with one of my good friends, Ryan Ayala. Ryan and I used to work together at Saint Mary’s Catholic High School in Phoenix, where he is the school’s campus minister. I ask him, “How Did You Get Here?”

That’s not Diego standing next to me. That’s this week’s guest, Ryan Ayala!

Zélie is a lovely name for a daughter (or a mother).

Zélie Martin 1
The mother of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Marie-Azélie “Zélie” Guérin Martin

Shows I Mentioned (Don’t Judge)

  • The Tiger King – Watching this is like watching a car accident on the freeway, but the freeway is a circus-themed gay rodeo with big cats and meth-heads and the highway patrol work has been outsourced to disgruntled Wal-Mart employees who are missing any number of teeth and/or limbs.
  • McMillions – An incredibly compelling documentary series about the McDonald’s Monopoly scandal. Who knew McDonald’s was so bingeable? (<—a joke?)

Visual Confirmation that I Talk too Much

“Talking to Rob is a lot like listening…” — Cory W.

Unsolicited Domestic Advice

Always assume your spouse has had a worse day than you did.

–Attributed to Ryan Ayala’s hero/mentor, Rob Drapeau

Pius XI. Imagine being as cool as Ryan, who was reading something this guy wrote “just the other day.” Millennials, amirite?

Pope Meme: Hit or Miss?

  • Pat Metheny “Two Folk Songs” – My college roommates (and Pat Metheny) persuaded me of this song’s excellence.

The Usual Links:

Special Thanks:

  • To Ryan Ayala for coming on the show.
  • To Zoom for existing (and making this episode possible / passable).
  • To BPD for producing the show.

HDYGH – Episode 9 Show Notes

In today’s episode, I sit down (virtually)  with one of my all-time favorite singers and storytellers, Michael John Poirier. Michael is a dear, old friend and fellow paterfamilias. I ask him, “How Did You Get Here?”

Singer, Songwriter, Storyteller, and Sixty-year-old Husband, Father, and Catholic Evangelist, Michael John Poirier

Pachabel Rant

Want to Learn about the Men’s work Michael was Talking About?

Click here.

Michael’s Podcast

Michael’s Website: Prayer Breaks

  • All of his music is amazing–and FREE!
    • Homeschooling little ones? Check out his Storyteller CD.
    • My favorite album is Ocean of Mercy.
    • This one is for you guys who want to draw near to God, but don’t know why or how. You know who you are…

Special Thanks:

  • To Michael John Poirier for coming on the show.
  • To Zoom for existing (and making this episode possible / passable).
  • To BPD for producing the show.

HDYGH – Episode 8 Show Notes

In today’s episode, I sit down with Cindy Montanarella, another fellow St. Thomas parishioner and former student from the Kino Catechetical Institute. Cindy is also the sister of one of my oldest friends (and an old friend in her own right). I ask her, “How Did You Get Here?”

Cindy “Cinderella” Montanarella

Note: some links lead to my Amazon affiliate page, which has generated precisely zero dollars in the 10+ years I’ve had it.

Ss. Ambrose, Monica, and Augustine

“Speak less to Augustine about God and more to God about Augustine.”

St. Ambrose to St. Monica

Leila Miller’s books on divorce:

Psalm 131

1 O Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a child quieted at its mother’s breast;
like a child that is quieted is my soul.
3 O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and for evermore.

King David

Special Thanks:

  • To Cindy Montanarella for overcoming her shyness and coming on the show.
  • To Zoom for existing (and making this episode possible).
  • To BPD for producing the show.

HDYGH – Episode 7 Show Notes

In today’s episode, I sit down with Mark Rothermel, a friend, fellow St. Thomas parishioner, and former student from the Kino Catechetical Institute and ask him, “How Did You Get Here?”

Mark Rothermel, ex-donuteer, grammar descriptivist, man for all seasons.

Note: some links lead to my Amazon affiliate page, which has generated precisely zero dollars in the 10+ years I’ve had it.

Avocado Green Bathroom

Avocado Green Bathroom | That Mitchell and Webb Look

On the Revival of the Gaelic Language (not Welsh)

The Gaelic Language | David Mitchell’s SoapBox


Hoodwinked: Twitchy Slowed Down (2005)
  • Hoodwinked! is a great family movie that spoofs Akira Kurowsawa’s classic film Rashomon. It is well worth a watch.

Shakespeare and the Bible

King Richard
“A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!”

Withdraw, my lord; I’ll help you to a horse.

King Richard
Slave! I have set my life upon a cast,
And I will stand the hazard of the die.
I think there be six Richmonds in the field;
Dive have I Slain today instead of him.
A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!

Richard III, Act-V, Scene-IV, Lines 7-13

17 An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.

Psalm 33:17 King James Version (KJV)

Grammar Goofiness

Grammar Nazi
The grammar meme I murdered.
  • Here is a great resource for anyone wanting to learn the lost art of diagramming sentences.
  • My favorite book on the subject of diagramming is Rex Barks.

World War II Clips

RAF Pilots
Bridge on the River Kwai

St. Ignatius Loyola: Enter his door, come out yours.

Whenever we wish to win someone over and engage him in the greater service of God our Lord, we should use the same strategy for good that the enemy employs to draw a good soul to evil. The enemy enters through the other’s door and comes out his own. He enters with the other, not by opposing his ways but by praising them. He acts familiarly with the soul, suggesting good and holy thoughts that bring peace to the good soul. Then, little by little, he tries to come out his own door, always portraying some error or illusion under the appearance of something good, but which will always be evil. So, we may lead others to good by praying or agreeing with them on a certain good point, leaving aside whatever else may be wrong. Thus after gaining his confidence, we shall meet with better success. In this sense we enter his door with him, but we come out our own.

Letter of St. Ignatius Loyola to Fathers Broët and Salmerón

Special Thanks:

To Mark Rothermel for being a fascinating guest.

To BPD for producing the show.

To my very generous in-laws for the use of their home once again.

The Last Word

Matthew 12:36 Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)

36 I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter;