I love baseball. It is a carry-over from childhood. I was a stereo-typical baby-boomer kid who took a little transistor radio to bed with me so I could twist the knobs in order to listen to baseball as I fell asleep.
I owe my love of the game to the enthusiasm of those play-by-play announcers. In Atlanta that voice was Milo Hamilton. Nationally, it was people like Curt Gowdy, Mel Allen and Ernie Harwell.
One of my favorites has always been Harry. Of course I refer to the late, great Harry Caray. He hysterically bounced between what was happening on the field and what was happening in the stands. He could call an incredible defensive play (with characteristic slur) and immediately say something like, “Hey, look at that kid in the sombrero!” Fun. He lifted spirits 81 times a year at Wrigley by leaning out of the window with white hair, huge glasses, and a bright sweater to say, “Ah 1. Ah 2. Take me out to the ball-game…”
Like all great announcers, Harry had a catch-phrase. His was “Holy Cow!” Home run = Holy Cow! Great catch = Holy Cow! Bang-bang play = Holy Cow! If Harry was wowed, you were going to hear Holy Cow!
[WARNING: If if-y words are offensive (personally), please skip to ‘Act 3’ NOW!]
Sitcom is ‘TV’ for situational comedy. I grew up on them. So did my kids. Between mine and theirs were others. Since theirs, still more. One of the sitcoms making the syndication circuit these days is Everybody Loves Raymond (TBS. Very Funny). It is the story of the Barone family.
Raymond is a sports writer, married to Debra. They have 3 children and live across the street from Ray’s eccentric parents and his older brother, Robert. I think the funniest character in the show is Ray’s dad, Frank.
Frank has attitude. Maybe he always did, but a zillion years with Marie cemented it. Frank was magnificently portrayed by the late Peter Boyle. He had the perfect mixture of dead-pan, cynic, grumpy, twinkle-eyed old guy!
There were loads of episodes where Frank didn’t have two lines in the show. Yet, somehow, by walking into a room or lifting an eyebrow, he brought the house down.
Like all great sitcom characters, Frank had a catch-phrase. His was “Holy Crap!” If Frank was amused, enraged, surprised, happy, or confused he would look to whoever was listening and say, “Holy Crap!” If Frank Baron was wowed, you were going to hear Holy Crap!
Comic books have been around forever (at least all of my life). I never really got into them as a kid. They scared me!
Over time, many of those comic book characters made their way from dark figures of a twisted imagination to strong, comforting voices on radio serials to colorful super-heroes on television shows and, ultimately, back to darker characters in big-budget films.
None of them have had a more manic presentation to the public than the dark knight himself, Batman. Batman was, originally, a troubled sort of guy – better reflected by the increasingly dark films of the last couple of decades.
But, by the time he made it to TV in the ‘60’s, he was the stereotype from which came the phrase, “comic book character”. The Bruce Wayne played by Adam West was more of a scientist, more calculating, better-adjusted, and best-buds with Gotham City’s finest.
Although lost in many of the recent movies, Bruce Wayne also had a ward of his estate: Dick Grayson. He, too, wanted to help rid the city of crime so he donned menacing leotards and adopted the fear-striking nickname of… Robin (in his defense, his full name was ‘Robin, the Boy Wonder’ and his character was based on a blend of Robin Hood and a Watson to Batman’s Sherlock).
Like all great comic book characters, Robin had a catch-phrase. His was “Holy whatever!” If Robin was shocked you might hear, “Holy electrical plug, Batman.” If he was confused he might say, “Holy question mark, Batman!” If Robin was surprised by Batman’s skill, embarrassed at his own naiveté, stunned at the boldness of the Joker, or humbled by the gratitude of the city – if he was wowed in any way, you were going to hear Holy whatever!
This week, Christ-followers around the globe remember. We set this week aside each year to remember the Passion of Jesus… His mission, His sacrifice, His triumph, His betrayal, His death, His life (and, consequently, our life). The week is often called Holy Week precisely because it is set aside.
Here’s the rub: I grew up hearing Holy used so often by so many so lightly that I’ve lost the weight of the word. If I’m not careful, I’ll miss the opportunity of the week. I’ll get characteristically busy… busy with good things mind you, but busy –spring clothes, chocolate candy, lost eggs, and funny bunnies… annual plays, long-rehearsed musicals, and carefully crafted messages.
I am all but sure I could miss this week because Easter has become so common in our annual experience and common (in this respect) might be a way to say un-holy.
My favorite definition of Holy is other-ly. Holy is likely the best word available to describe the indescribable. It is something that is decidedly not common, mundane… it is utterly other-ly.
That’s what this week needs to be for me… it’s what it ought to be for all of us… other-ly – unlike any week of the year: a few days we set aside to remember. Not days that fly by but days that I/we settle into. Not thought-less days, but thought-filled ones.
It is a Holy Week. It needs to be Holy for me. How about for you?