Thursday, October 17, 2019

GL Kentucky undertakes emergency ritual training when lodge discovered to be passing down incorrect word

Madisonville, KY -- The Custodians of the Work of Grand Lodge of Kentucky have announced emergency measures for retraining the last several generations of Freemasons in some of the lodges in the western end of the state, after it was discovered that virtually all of the members have been passing down the wrong "Master's Word." 
Friend corn bread, sometimes called
Indian Bread or Corn Pone is a popular side
dish in the southern and midwestern states.


"I realize that it's a big state, and our own Grand Lodge has to take some of the responsibility here," said Very Worshipful Buck Hatfield, District Director of Ceremonies.  "We don't get out to the rural lodges as often as we should, so nobody ever really noticed this. Fortunately, Bob McCoy happened to figure it out, so we can at least work to correct the problem."

Hatfield was talking about Right Worshipful Robert McCoy, DDGM in one of the western districts. The Past Bastard reached out to RW McCoy. "I was just making one of those routine lodge visits in... well, I suppose I shouldn't mention the lodge. But anyway, they served up a nice fry-up before the meeting, and I was up at one end of the table, and I said to the fellers at the other end, 'Hey, would you pass me the corn pone?' All of a sudden, everything got real quiet. A couple of old timers dropped their forks, and everybody just swiveled their heads to look at me. "

Over the course of the dinner and subsequent meeting, RW McCoy determined that for at least the previous thirty three years, and possibly longer, lodge members had been passing down a regional name for corn bread, instead of the correct version of the "Master's Word."

The Past Bastard asked how this could have happened. 

"That's the problem with the lodges out in the sticks," VW Hatfield explained. "Not only don't we get out there as often, but frankly, some of them are so small that we forget about them. Hell, the lodge we're talking about is only fifty miles as the crow flies from Madisonville, but it's literally a four hour drive to get there -- which nobody even wants to attempt in the spring or fall rainy season, so probably nobody checked on this lodge since Reagan was president."

The Past Bastard asked what the resolution for this situation was going to be. 

"Well, the secretary, he's calling all the old lodge members, which ain't easy because most of them are in Florida now," VW Hatfield told us. "The Grand Master gave them a dispensation to ask them for the word over the phone, and to correct them if they heard it wrong. From what I understand, that's not going well, either. But in the meantime, we're sending more guys out to the smaller lodges in the surrounding area to check, and hopefully retrain them."

"The members of this lodge were playing a thirty-odd year long game of Telephone," added RW McCoy. "Fortunately, it's only that one word they got wrong. At least they didn't pass down the other words 'Bows Ass' and "Sherbet Test' wrong, too."

Thursday, October 10, 2019

E-Juice Company To Market Vape For Freemasons

Irvine, CA -- Nationally known e-juice (aka "vape juice") maker Black Note has teamed up with the Grand Lodge of California to create a line of vape scents specifically for Freemasons.

"As a lot of lodges adopt a 'no-smoking on premises' policy, it's alienating some of the existing members. Not only that, but as we get an influx of new, younger members, most of those guys are already vaping," explained RWB Craigg Hall, spokesperson for the Committee on Public Development. "We thought that this would be a good way to reach both the younger guys who are already vaping, plus the older guys who might consider giving up those cigars and cigarettes for something a little more upscale."

"While 'Acacia' is already hitting the shelves, those guys are already working on one called 'Pot of Incense' which will be a blend of myrrh and other herbs," said RWB Hall. "I'm not a smoker, myself, but I wouldn't mind some pleasant cedar or myrrh wafting through the lodge room during degrees, instead of the smell of pre-digested chili, if you get my meaning," he added.

Informal chats with Black Note led to the development of an acacia scented juice, which should appeal to Masons for obvious reasons. This will be followed up later in 2020 with "Pot of Incense," and later on, "Tall Cedars," a woodsy scent.




Friday, October 4, 2019

Network cancels "Dancing with the Masons"

Hollywood, CA - Freemasons around the West Coast were disappointed last week when ABC announced that it would not go forward with the proposed DWTS spin-off "Dancing With The Masons." Network spokespersons announced that preliminary showings weren't connecting with audiences, but The Past Bastard has been contacted by several anonymous sources who gave some more insight.

"First of all, you need to understand that DWTS is a very active, engaging competition, and that the guests need to be in good physical shape," one source told us. "Guests who might get winded after walking up a flight or two of stairs aren't going to manage the weeks of daily practice. Is there something about Masons that make them prone to moving slowly? If we had known that, we might have approached it differently."

Another source explained, "Also, dancing is supposed to be fun for the people watching, and for the people actually dancing. Most of your guys looked like they were doing commandery formation drills or something. Loosen up a little."

"Oh, and one more thing," added the first anonymous speaker. "Dancing is somewhat ritualistic, which is why we initially thought this might be a good fit. But when some of your guys started bringing the Eastern Star wives along, we discovered that they spent more time fighting over who would lead and who would follow, that we had to keep sending them outside to cool off. It was easier to just cancel the entire thing."


Tuesday, September 24, 2019

GL of Ohio to honor 300th anniversary of Freemasonry by streamlining ODC degree ceremonies (repost)

(Note: The Past Bastard writers are currently carb-loading and rehydrating in preparation for running the "couch" part of a "couch to 5k"  event. We are republishing some of their favorite articles until they return. -- the unpaid interns)


Dayton, OH -- In a bold and controversial move to honor of the 300th anniversary of the formation of the first known Grand Lodge in 1717, the Grand Lodge of Ohio is not only planning their biggest ever "Grand Master's One Day Class;" but the degrees themselves will be "streamlined" in order to accommodate the incoming members.

"We've done a lot of one day degrees, probably more than any other state, and we found that a lot of the guys coming in were losing attention with all the stuff we were throwing at them," explained RW Steve Garvey, the Grand Lodge Publicity Spokesperson. "By the end of the day, they hardly retained anything. Half, maybe three quarters of them always have that 'deer in the headlamps' look, so we figured that the best thing to do would be to cut out the unimportant parts and just have one big degree."

The Past Bastard questioned RW Garvey on shortened degrees.
Grand Lodge of Ohio at the Dayton Masonic Center

"We all know that there's a lot of repetitious stuff in the degrees, and that there's some stuff that doesn't really add anything," he told us. "What we did was remove some of the longer lectures, like that staircase thing. Nobody really listens to the whole thing anyhow. Then we realized that there was no sense in having three different obligations, so we're just giving them the Master Mason one. And we're combining all the working tools into one big set that we call 'The Working Toolbox.' And if we're only giving them one obligation, there's no sense in having them walk around three different times, so we're going to settle on circumnavigating just three times."

The Grand Lodge figures that by consolidating the rituals and ceremonies into one big degree, they can save between two and three hours on the One Day Class.

"If this works out, then we're going to look at possibly having a morning session and an afternoon session for our next Grand Master's One Day Class," said RW Garvey. "Our goal is to make things easy enough so that a lodge never has to put on their own set of degrees again."

-- Conte Calvino Gliostro

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Lodges turn to multi-level marketing to increase revenue (Repost)

(Note: The Past Bastard writers are currently recovering from injuries sustained during their hot goat yoga sessions. We are republishing some of their favorite articles until they return. -- the unpaid interns)

Battle Creek, MI -- Faced with dwindling or stalled membership numbers, and a resulting inability to pay for maintenance, repairs, or kitchen items, some lodges are turning to multi-level marketing in order to increase revenues without adding to the burden of increased dues and special assessments on already over-taxed members.

"I got the idea from my bother-in-law who hounds us every month to buy some kind of soap or dishwasher product," said WB Howard Jensen, Secretary of Nascent Lodge. "Eventually we just signed up to be distributors, but I don't have time for that kind of thing. It was more to get him off our backs."

But WB Jensen realized that similar tactics could be used to increase lodge revenues. "We signed up as a lodge, and started guilting the members to buy soaps, shampoos, cleaning products, and other little things. You know, the stuff that you'd be buying anyway. Eventually, most of them caved, and now we pull in almost triple what we pull in for annual dues."

WB George Stetson, Treasurer of Composition Lodge agrees. "We found that the pancake breakfasts were not making enough money after a few years, so we explored some options. I realized that my wife was always going to some 'dem party' every week, so we began to look at some of those pyramid marketing sales as a way to supplement the pancakes."

The income these lodges have been generating has even caught the eye of the Grand Lodge, which may soon look at buying into a MLM for the general fund.

With the number of different multi-level marketing companies, or MLMs (they prefer to avoid the term "pyramid")  out  there, how does a lodge pick one?

"We looked at half a dozen different companies, and spent some time trying to narrow it down to what we thought would generate small but consistent sales," explained WB Marion Kay, assistant Treasurer of Arbonne Lodge. "We decided that there would  only be so many bottles of vitamins, skin care, or plastic bowls to push on the members. That's why we went with Amway, it has a wide range of products, and is a trusted name in the business."

"Besides," he added, "we've even signed up a few of the members to sell under us, which just increases our profits."

--Conte Calvino Gliostro

Thursday, September 12, 2019

COGMNA DECLARES RED SKELTON FLAG PIN TO BE 4TH GREAT LIGHT (repost)

(Note: The Past Bastard writers are currently undergoing colonic irrigation therapy. 
We are republishing some of their favorite articles until they return. -- the unpaid interns)




Burbank, CA -- The members of the Conference of Grand Masters of North America voted to adopt a new symbol of Freemasonry for the entire North American continent, based on a recent lapel pin seen on Facebook.

The pin, designed on Etsy earlier this year, shows Brother Red Skelton in his Klem Kadiddlehopper tuxedo on a background of an American flag. The words "One Nation Under God" are displayed in a banner above his head.

"We can't think of a more fitting way to signify what Freemasonry stands for," said WB John Lee Hooker, media spokesperson for the 2016 COGNMA conference. "The pin is meant to evoke Brother Red's speech from his 1960s television show - you know, the one where he goes through the entire 'Pledge of Allegiance' word by word and explains how patriotic and religious it is to the audience. There probably isn't a lodge in existence that doesn't use a video of that for one of its Masonic Education programs."

Indeed, the writers at The Past Bastard are intimately familiar with the video, having seen it multiple times over the years. However it did raise some questions, which we presented to WB Hooker.

"Well, yes, we did  have some pushback on making this symbol for the entire continent," he admitted, "More specifically, a few of the Canadian provinces and Mexico had some objections to making this an official symbol, but they were heavily outvoted by most of the Grand Lodges of the US."

Most of the members?

WB Hooker explained "Well, California also objected, but you know how they are out there. I think that Oregon might have objected, and surprisingly New York, as well. I don't understand it, but the overwhelming number of states and provinces voted for the symbol, so we expect to be rolling it out for 2017."

Wait, provinces?

"Oh yes, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick voted for adopting the pin, and so, I think, did Prince Edward Island, which is essentially part of Maine, anyway."

The 2016 Conference of Grand Masters has been drafting up a number of regulations and position papers, which they expect to be presenting at the upcoming 2017 conference on how the symbol and pins should be displayed, and whether they should augment or simply replace the Square & Compasses.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

GRAND LODGE OF FLORIDA REMOVES SYMBOLS OF MORTALITY TO APPEASE AGING BOOMERS (repost)

(Note: The Past Bastard writers are spending an undetermined time in a coma for tax reasons.
We are republishing some of their favorite articles until they return. -- the unpaid interns)

The Villages, FL -- Faced with membership rolls full of post-war "boomers," most of whom are not happy to be finding themselves nearing the end of their natural life spans, the Grand Lodge of Florida is rolling out a re-tooled ritual that avoids references to death and dying, in an effort to make their aging members less uncomfortable during degree work.

"We came up with the idea a couple of years ago when we noticed that a lot of the sixty five to seventy year olds stopped coming to lodge," said RW Dick Johnson, Chairman for the Grand Lodge Committee on Aging and Retention. "Oh, sure, guys stop coming to lodge all the time, but generally, in the past, the older Masons tended to show up more often.  We started talking to them, and discovered that the degree work, especially the Master Mason degrees, were starting to scare the old timers from showing up."

Many aging baby boomers are uncomfortable with
symbols of mortality, so one Grand Lodge is removing
those images from the work.

RW Johnson explained to The Past Bastard that his interviews led him to believe that the boomer generation never felt like they had any obstacles, and had generally been happy to do what they wanted without repercussions, generating debt that they figured would just get paid off later, and enjoy their retirement years in the warm Florida sun. However, as their health began to fail, and as some watched their friends die off, they had little idea of how to handle the changes.

"As Boomers have been hitting retirement, images of death have become triggering for them," he told us. "It's gotten so bad for many of these guys that we've spent some time re-writing the rituals to remove such imagery, so they don't have to think about it."

The Past Bastard interviewed several anonymous Master Masons around Florida for some perspective.

"I never really thought about it before, you know?" said a 68 year old past master, originally from Tacoma, Washington. "I mean, yeah, you got all these death symbols, but I never took them seriously. I mean, 'Father Time' with a scythe? An hourglass? That's, like, so cliche, you know?"

"Our lodge never did those etching board things," said a 73 year old brother from Hackensack, New Jersey. "So I never got the old guy imagery thing. But looking back on it, that thing where the guy gets killed, and he doesn't come back to life? That's just like what happens in real life. That's scary when you think about it." He added, "Which I try not to."

"The part that really gets to me, is that you can't leverage your way out of it," said a 67 year old Past District Deputy Grand master from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. "I've always been able to get enough funds together to shore up some stock, or to tide me over until the next mutual fund flip. But no matter how much you pay the damn doctors, all the seem to do is give you some pills to make you feel better. They aren't actually slowing down the aging process, are they?"

RW Dick Johnson told The Past Bastard that these responses were pretty typical. "It's sad, when you step back and look at it. Those guys had no obstacles in their way, and now they don't know how to deal with this gracefully. That's why we're going to replace the hourglass with a digital watch, and the scythe with a Ginsu knife, and we're going to reword things to make the idea of mortality less threatening."

The Past Bastard asked about the Master Mason degree.

"Oh, yeah, that one was surprisingly easy to work out," he said. "In our version, Hiram is knocked unconscious, and has visions about the ruffians while he's out. In the raising ceremony we just wrote it so that he wakes up and realizes that it was all a dream, and that he's still a king. It's much less frightening or depressing that way."