Sunday, September 11, 2005

A holy moment with Garrison Keillor

Well, I have yet another reason to envy my friend Natalie back in Kansas. It seems that she and her parents managed to both worship and have dinner with Garrison Keillor today. Even though they served lutefisk, it would still be enough to envy her.

Keillor, host and main-man for A Prairie Home Companion, was in Hutchinson, KS (Nat's ancestral hometown) for another stop in the PHC late-summer state-fair tour. Last weekend, they were in Minneapolis, pulling everyone's leg about cheese curds. But this week, they were at the Kansas State Fair, always hosted in Hutch. I didn't even know about it until I heard a sliver of the radio broadcast Saturday night, with a song about Hutchinson set to "Down in the Boondocks." I've seen Keillor live a couple times, and just seeing that would have been worth it. But here's where the fun came in...

Evidently, when the original announcement came out that Garrison Keillor was going to be in town, Emmanuel Lutheran Church (one of two ELCA congregation in town) started negotiations to have him come to worship with them on the Sunday after his performance. Since he's gotten so much mileage at the expense of Lutherans over the years, it seemed only fair to make the appearance. So it was that the bard of Lake Wobegon was reading Scripture in Hutchinson this morning ("a reading from the letter of the Apostle Paul to the Kansans..."), and singing along with the children's choir and the rest of the congregation. Given that "Singing With the Lutherans" is one of his better mini-monologues, it only made sense that the congregation would end up singing "Children of the Heavenly Father."

I'd bet there were smiles in heaven. I'm told (by Natalie) that there were smiles in Hutchinson.

Ah, but into every scene from heaven, it seems a bit of hell must sneak in. And Hell, in this case, appeared during the Scandinavian dinner, where I am told they actually served lutefisk. Now, they served lots of other Scandinavian delights - Swedish meatballs, lefsa, you name it. But lutefisk...gaaah.

(Lutefisk, for those who are blessedly unaware, is an absolutely ghastly concoction that is basically salted, jellied cod. An interesting side-note is that they "jelly" it by soaking it in lye. Yes, as in drain cleaner. Want to know more? Here's a classic, if somewhat vulgar, description of an innocent's close encounter with lutefisk.)

And to be honest, I have only smelled the vile stuff; I have never tasted it, and purely hope to go home to Jesus without having that experience, thank you very much. As far as I can tell, 25% of all lutefisk is eaten once a year by 1st-or 2nd-generation Scandinavian residents; 25% is eaten by unsuspecting friends of those Scandinavians; and the rest is thrown out by decent folk everywhere.

But from the sound of it, even the presence of lutefisk didn't dampen the enthusiasm at the dinner, nor did it cramp Br'er Keillor's monologue afterwards. I think the Lutherans had the last laugh - they gave Keillor a t-shirt with a cute message (and a great play on Philippians 4:7): "Lutefisk - The Piece of Cod That Passes All Understanding."

So not only do I really wish I'd been in Hutchinson this weekend, but just sitting here writing tonight I've had a truly awful craving flung on me for Swedish meatballs. [Yes, I know, they're almost as bad as sausage-gravy-n-biscuits from a nutritional standpoint. I don't care. I love Swedish meatballs; I could sit down with an entire crockpot full of them, all by myself. For me, it's one of the universe's all-time great comfort foods.]

Somehow, that refernce (along with the yo-yo's in my former home state trying to teach creationism alongside evolution) reminded me of a wonderful scene in one of my favorite sci-fi series, Bablyon 5. In the scene, one of the main characters, the alien warrior and philosopher G'Kar, is having a meal with a fellow Narn. The other alien looks down at his plate, smiles, and they have this exchange:
"You've managed to import breen from our homeworld. How?"
"It ... isn't actually
"But the smell! The taste!..."
"It's actually an Earth food. They are called Swedish meatballs. It's a strange thing, but it seems that every sentient race in the galaxy has its own version of these Swedish meatballs. I suspect it's one of those great universal mysteries which will either never get explained or which will drive you mad if you ever learned the truth."

(Na'kal and G'Kar in the Babylon 5 episode "Walkabout")
To me, if ever they found this to be true, it would be the clearest, firmest piece of scientific proof for intelligent design throughout the universe.

That's it. We've had just a few commenters on the Celebration of Discipline blogging adventure, but it's been good for me to be reading (along with digging back into "How It Works" from the AA recovery text). I'm posting a couple links over there later on this evening/morning. That, along with finally starting to deep-clean the apartment enough to cook in the kitchen, has taken a bunch of time this weekend. But it's been time well spent.

The good news is that there may be a temporary reprieve on the end-day at my current place of employment - which is good, because there are still only dribs and drabs of things showing up to replace the job, as of yet. I did find one seemingly perfet position - that would be very akin to what I'd been doing for Sprint for years. But it's in Columbus, OH - and I'd like to avoid having to move (again!) if I don't REALLY have to.

It's 9:22 PM, and still 82 degrees and humid. Not what I would choose - and it's supposed to be even hotter Monday and Tuesday. Yuck. (I know there's some otherwise-sane folks who love hot weather, and delight in humidity. God bless 'em - but I'm sure not one of 'em. If I could put in an order for weather, it would definitely be for 70s, breezy and dry.)

As far as I'm concerned, this is an "Indian summer" that wouldn't even be enjoyable in India, let alone among my Native American friends. Oh, well. For all my sweating and whining about the humidity here in south Chicago, there is no standing water - and there is a significant lack of water damage, raw sewage, or bloated dead bodies in my neighborhood. So I'm still gonna call my weekend incredibly, incredibly blessed.

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