Na Zdrowie! The Kloska Family Blog
In 1962, Irv Kloska and Bonnie Kowrach stood in St. Adalbert's Basilica in Grand Rapids and pledged their lives to each other. More than 50 years and 13 children later, their family has grown to more than 80 members... and counting. With this blog we keep in touch and share our thoughts - much like we have always done around our kitchen table. But like our table, friends are always invited. Welcome!
Friday, December 23, 2005
A couple from an email from John Thomas:
A Sunday school teacher asked her class, "What was Jesus' mother's name?" One child answered, "Mary." The teacher then asked, "Who knows what Jesus' father's name was?" A little kid said, "Verge." Confused, the teacher asked, "Where did you get that?" The kid said, Well, you know, they are always talking about Verge n' Mary.'"
A woman invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and said, "Would you like to say the blessing?" "I wouldn't know what to say," the girl replied. "Just say what you hear Mommy say," the woman answered. The daughter bowed her head and said, "Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?"
Thursday, December 22, 2005
A shocking revelation!
First, it happened at South Bend Country Club with Uncle Ron. Then it happened down in Louisville with B.J. Two pretty good players frustrated by being taken to the cleaners by a man who only plays golf a handful of times a year.
How does Irv do it?
We know he doesn't lie about how much he plays so how can we account for his uncanny knack for breaking 80?
Now, in this "Na Zdrowie!" exclusive, we have the answer. Recently after hearing about yet another of Jeff's promotions and performance bonuses, Dad began badgering Jeff to take him on a golfing vacation to Florida where they could play 36 holes a day for big money. Something seemed suspicious to Jeff but he couldn't put his finger on it.
One day last week when Jeff arrived at Pleasant Place, he walked into the kitchen, gave Mom a kiss and showed her his new digital camera with telephoto lense. After a few minutes, Jeff asked her where dad was. Her eyes shifted and she nervously stammered, "Oh, uh, Daaaaaads outside somewhere - I think he's in his workshop - yeah, his workshop." When Jeff headed out to see him, Mom tried to stop him with all sorts of conversation starters, but to no avail.
The light was indeed on in Dad's workshop, but the door was also open. There were footprints in the snow leading back to the hill. Intrigued, Jeff followed them. It was then that Jeff discovered a deep dark secret. Dad's enthusiasm for golf began to make much more sense. What you see pictured below are a "Na Zdrowie!" exclusive taken with a telephoto lense from the bushes in back of Kloska H.Q.. It seems that Dad really does have financial problems and is using golf as a way to try to get out of debt. No, Dad doesn't play very often, but he practices daily! Even in the snow!
The moral of this story: Beware of a desperate man with a golf club in his hand - especially if he is... THE 1975 ELCONA CLUB CHAMPION!
Here's an amusing little Christmas prank
Send the good people at the A.C.L.U. a CHRISTMAS card.
125 Broad Street 18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
An overflow of Christmas cards would slow down their assault on our civil rights because they'd have to open all the cards to see if any contained contributions. A cheerful Christmas card would be an appropriate protest to tell the ACLU to leave Christmas alone.
The A.C.L.U. staffer at their recent winter party looks eerily similar to her more famous holiday counterpart. Actually, I'd take the Grinch.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
My goodness, is this at stake in the Fiesta Bowl?
(Left: a photoshop rendering of what Pope Benedict might be forced to wear. Right: Governor Robert Taft of Ohio)
Do not be alarmed at the above picture! You know those bets that governors make when their big state schools are playing bowl games? Well, Governor Bob Taft of Ohio is rumored to have contacted Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana to set up a bet. Apparently, Daniels office got back to him with a message that they had contacted the wrong person. Daniels is authorized to make bets on I.U. and Purdue, the state schools, but not for Notre Dame. For that, he was told, Taft would have to contact the Holy Father himself. So Taft immeidatley dispatched an envoy to Rome where Pope Benedict graciously agreed to offer a high pontifical Mass at St. Peter's Basilica wearing Ohio garb if the Buckeyes beat his beloved Irish.
Asked by reporters for a comment about the game, Benedict revealed some of his personal history. "When I was a young theologian, Fr. Hesburgh, the Notre Dame president, tried to hire me for his theology faculty. I didn't know English very well at the time so I declined. And sometimes I admit that in retrospect I might have made a bad decison. Regret would be too strong a word, but think of it, I could have become president of Notre Dame!"
Click here for more.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
I love the Christmas Season, especially Christmas music. One of the best innovations on radio lately has been the practice of playing all Christmas music for a period of time around the holidays. Though I think they sometimes ruin it by playing it too early in the season, I really like the concept. But as grateful as I am for the holiday cheer, I've also been frustrated by what passes for "Christmas" music. It seems that one never hears traditional Christmas Carols because of all the comtemporary stuff they play. Even when traditional carols are played, it always seems to be some artist's very dramatic re-interpretation. If we are not careful, our children will begin to think of Bruce Springsteen, the Pointer Sisters and Madonna when it comes to Christmas music. Do you really want your child to think of Stevie Nicks as the standard bearer for "Silent Night"? (By the way, nothing against Stevie Nicks, I just caught part of a Fleetwood Mac concert on PBS and it was great.)
Anyway, because of the advantage of my Letherman education, either I have been able to find the traditional stuff or Letherman has given it to me. Here is a general rule: if you're looking for traditional Christmas Carols in English, look for Robert Shaw. He is the best. Now, having said that, let me share with you my favorite Christmas music. You might be surprised that not all my selections are from the repertoire of "high culture". I don't claim to have good taste, just strong opinions. Of course, the list is dominated by works steeped in tradition. Over the years I've been surprised to find how deep is the treasure trove of Western Christmas hymnody. I can't believe how many great Christmas songs exist that I had never heard. In the list below, I've linked some of the titles to www.amazon.com. Generally, you may sample the music online before you purchase it.
1. "Songs of Angels - Christmas Hymns and Carols". Robert Shaw and the Robert Shaw Chamber Singers. It ain't Christmas until I've listen to this in its entirety. A collection from Britian, France, Germany and even America, these Carols are sung in a hearty, rich, strong manner that I find very warm and appealing. Included is a spiritual from the American South, "Mary Had a Baby", and even "The Cherry Tree Carol" from the Kentucky mountains. The great thing about Shaw is that he doesn't ruin or obscure the eloquence of the songs themselves by messing around with them too much. These are mostly straightforward interpretations which promote a stirring message of wonder, hope, and joy.
1A. "En la fete de Noel - O Holy Night". Martin Dagenais and the La Petite Bande de Montreal. Americans hate the French for many reasons: some good, some not so good (like the fact they are equally as arrogant as us). However no one does Christmas carols like the descendents of the Gauls. Though mostly in French (with just a little English and Latin), this is the other Christmas album I can't live without. The carol, "Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant" ("He Is Born The Divine Christ Child") is easily my #1 favorite Christmas hymn of all time. Trust me on this one - God has this album in his C.D. player right now.
2. A Renaissance Christmas. Joel Cohen and the The Boston Camerata. This one maybe shouldn't be considered traditional since many of our so-called "traditional" Christmas carols have emerged since the Renaissance. But if you like really good sacred music with a Christmas flavor, this is an album to savor. Especially fun are the accents of the people who do the readings interspersed througout the hymns. These songs will sound a bit strange to most contemporary American ears, but I have developed a love for them. They definitely capture the flavor of the Renaissance, one of the most exciting eras in human history.
3. A Festival of Carols. Robert Shaw Chorale and Orchestra. More Shaw. You need to have another album from Shaw in your collection or you will get tired of listening to "Songs of Angels" over and over and over again.
4. Christmas Eve. David Lanz. Don't let the weird jacket cover turn you off. This album is wonderful in its quiet simplicity. David Lantz beautifully plays traditional Christmas Carols on the piano. If you like Christmas music and the piano, you'll love this album. Just keep the jacket out of sight.
5. Home for Christmas. Amy Grant. Hate to say it, but Amy Grant has supplanted Bing Crosby and Frank Sintra as my favorite schmaltzy Christmas singer. From the secular: "Its the Most Wondeful Time of the Year", "I'll be Home for Christmas", and "Winter Wonderland" to the sacred: "Breath of Heaven", "Grown Up Christmas List" and "Emmanuel, God With Us," Amy Grant has recorded a Christmas masterpiece.
6. Noel. Christmas at King's. King's College Choir, Cambridge. An extensive collection of tradional Christmas music performed by one of the best choirs in the world. Very solid. Absolutely can't go wrong here if you're interested in refining your appreciation for the canon of Western Christmas hymnody.
7. Any Collection of Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby or Nat King Cole. Really, for Americans who grew up in the United States in the 20th Century, you can't replace these classics. I hope their work endures forever. There are so many good albums available from these guys that I won't make a particular recommendation.
7A. A Charlie Brown Christmas. Vince Gauraldi Trio. Okay, so the tune "Linus and Lucy" (The Charlie Brown theme) isn't exactly a Christmas carol, but hey, it rocks! The rest of the songs are Christmasy and this album will be a serious aid to your Christmas enjoyment.
8. On Christmas Night - Christmas Cards of the Notre Dame Glee Club. (Available in the ND Bookstore). This is fun, upbeat, largely a capella music performed with the youthful enthusiasm and playfulness that generally characterizes college Glee Clubs. The song, "The Sleigh" (A la Russe) has long been one of my holiday favorites. It was once featured in the opening sequence of a "Christmas with the Kloskas" video.
9. Handel's Messiah. Much like the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life" this Christmas classic was not a hit when first written. But since it caught on (oddly during an Easter charity fundraiser) this celebration of human redemption has remained extremely popular for over 200 years. Everyone will recognize the amazing "Halleluia" chorus which is best enjoyed with the volume cranked high.
10. Christmas Big Bands. (This links to similar albums) "Jingle Bells" with Duke Ellington and His Orchestra! What more needs to be said. My paritular big band album is fun and swinging. A great change of pace.
If you keep an open mind with the sacred/traditional stuff, I know you will develop a taste for some of these classic works... and your Christmases will be richer and fuller for it. Feel free to add your own favorites in the comment section. Or if you have too much to say, send me your thoughts and I'll post them.
Monday, December 19, 2005
Merry Christmas from St. Peter Street
Please get the word to B.J. and Uncle Ron
Dear B.J. and Uncle Ron,
Be sure to check the blog in the next few days. The word on the street is that a post is coming that will provide you with some very, shall we say, "interesting" information. You will understand when you see it.
We put up our Christmas tree this weekend
Here is my favorite part of the Christmas season: The kids are in bed. House is quiet. All the lights are off except for the Christmas tree. I've got something good to drink in hand and beautiful Christmas music playing in the background. At these times, I find it easy to reflect on my life, my family, my work. For me, this is a great time to pray the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary. Since I've been a husband and a father, I often look at our nativity set and think about St. Joseph's role in the Christmas story. Whenever I take the time to do this, to spend my time deliberately in relaxation or meditation or prayer, I always feel enriched and vow to do it more often. I just did it Saturday night. Then this morning I read the following from Pope Benedict. Hmmmmm. I wonder if he listens to the Robert Shaw Chamber Singers and likes to drink Baileys.
Benedict XVI Extols Spirit of Silence in a "Noisy" World
Presents St. Joseph as a Model of Recollection
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 18, 2005 (Zenit.org).- With Christmas approaching, Benedict XVI exhorted the faithful to cultivate a spirit of interior recollection in an often noisy world that makes it hard to listen to God. The Pope today presented St. Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus, as a model of recollection. Joseph's silence in the Gospel, the Holy Father said, "does not demonstrate an empty interior, but rather the fullness of faith that he carries in his heart."
"Let's allow ourselves to be 'infected' by the silence of St. Joseph!" the Pontiff said as he exhorted the thousands of people gathered on a cold and sunny day in St. Peter's Square. Silence "is so lacking in this world which is often too noisy, which is not favorable to recollection and listening to the voice of God," Benedict XVI said, speaking from the window of his study. "In this time of preparation for Christmas, let us cultivate interior recollection so as to receive and keep Jesus in our lives," the Pope said. He suggested that the faithful establish in these days "a kind of spiritual dialogue with St. Joseph so that he helps us live to the fullest this mystery of faith."