Friday, February 27, 2009
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Yes, even a temper tantrum works!
Time for men to dress up in funny costumes!
In fact, it's one of the greatest times of the year! People around the world are partying their heads off, before Ash Wednesday arrives and the more subdued, 40-day season of Lent descends.
I've hosted a Fat Tuesday party at my churches for eleven years now. It started when I wanted to hold an Ash Wednesday service -- and only a handful of people showed up.
Literally... five... at a church of 2,100 members!
So the next year I threw a Fat Tuesday party. A large crowd turned out, during which we reminded the crowd of the Ash Wednesday services the next day. That year, we had over 300 show up to receive the ashes!
So the tradition continues. And each year, I have added something new, depending on the particular make-up of the church.
At one church, it was a carnival, with lots of games for children. We filled in the atmosphere with Live Dixieland Jazz and fed everyone pancakes. One year I had special coffee mugs made up for a ping-pong ball toss game -- land the ball inside the mug and keep the mug!
At another church, the evening's entertainment was Karaoke. There I had plastic tumblers made up with the church logo for orange juice; the next year we switched from pancakes to gumbo and the entree was served in custom-designed soup-bowl mugs.
While evangelistic on the one hand, these "gifts" also saved us a lot of time doing the dishes!
At my present church, we tried Karaoke -- but that wasn't so successful. And we don't have enough kids for carnival games. So Tuesday's entertainment will be presented by "Breeze" Cayolle, a New Orleans transplant who relocated in the Memphis area following Katrina. He plays a soulful saxaphone.
And we're going back to pancakes.. easier to prepare.
Bacchus seems an obvious choice.
But I recently came across info on a relatively new Krewe called the "Krewe of Cork". Paraders must dress in wine-related costumes.
These are "Blue Nuns".
This is "Cardinal Zin".
And some day I hope I'll even get to Rio for Carnival. I hear they really know how to prepare for Ash Wednesday down there!
Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
First of all, no, I am not a Luddite.
[For those who skipped too much of history class, that was a movement during the 19th century in Great Britain that was specifically opposed to a wide-framed automated loom that could be operated cheaply and with unskilled labor, putting many skilled textile workers out of a job. It has since become a term used as a slanderous reference to anyone opposing the advancement of technology.]
But something needs to be done about the out-of-control use of cell phones!
Can I have an “Amen”?
I frequently find myself on the 240 loop around Memphis stuck behind some moron driving 50 mph and weaving from line to line. Oh, look, he’s on his cell phone!
One A** Hole was simultaneously talking on his phone, smoking a cigar and drinking a cup of coffee while trying to maneuver his convertible roadster through a crowded city street at 40 mph.
Not long ago I followed a couple as they entered the highway – he was driving… and talking on his cell phone… and reading something he was holding up against the steering wheel. The passenger was sitting on the right side of the car, apparently bored with life.
And just yesterday I had to swerve around a city bus as the oversized carriage lumbered across the dotted lines into my lane. Sure enough, the on-duty bus driver was chatting away on her cell phone.
I am tired of being stuck with people in elevators, in lunch lines, at grocery stores – even in bathrooms – who can’t seem to find the “off” button.
What in the world is so important that you can’t even hang up to take a whiz?!?
And those blue-tooth headsets are even more annoying. True, they free up your hands so you can now “safely” drink and drive while you talk on the phone.
But now it’s not just the crazies walking around talking to the air – everyone’s doing it! I walked past a young man in the mall the other day. He said, “Hey man, how’s it going?” I responded, “I’m fine. How are you?”
I always try to be polite.
But he wasn’t talking to me. He was talking to someone miles away.
Or to an imaginary friend. I didn’t linger.
When I grow old and senile, I’m going to get me one of those blue-tooth earpieces… no one will ever suspect!
And while I'm at it, what's up with all the text-messaging? We once imagined that the next generation would have cell phones implanted directly into their skulls. Turns out, it may be a keypad in the palm of the hand instead. Teens today can’t seem to do anything without first texting their friends.
At almost seven cents per letter, that’s the best twenty cents I ever spent!
A morning talk show recently gave “fifteen minutes of fame” to a teenager who sends more than 30,000 text messages per month. She can even operate her miniature keyboard behind her back.
Now there’s a marketable skill!
Here’s where I’m going with this. When I was but a wee little cave boy – way back in the days of the big black rotary-dial telephone tethered to the wall in the living room – we were taught telephone etiquette. It was as important a part of the elementary school curriculum as learning that there are four quarters in a dollar.
The rules were simple, and practical:
--When calling someone, let the phone ring at least four times – to give them time to reach the phone, but no more than 10 times.
--Call should not last longer than 15 minutes. Someone else may be trying to reach you or another person in the household.
--Never talk on the phone while entertaining guests.
--Never call a friend during meal times. Let them enjoy this important family time uninterrupted.
--If the phone rings during a meal time, don’t answer it. If it is important, they will call back later.
--Never call before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m. unless it is an emergency.
Today there are more cell phones than land lines in use. I'm okay with that. But at the risk of sounding like an old fogey – or a Luddite – what I find missing in the midst of this sudden proliferation of cell phones is etiquette, common courtesy.
Hear me: I don’t oppose the technology. But I am concerned about the inconsiderate way in which the vast majority of us use it. Which then creates another problem...
As I have found myself shouting several times recently, “Hang up and drive, you #%*&@ moron!”
Thursday, February 12, 2009
What are friends for?
At first though, it was just speculation: Is it Michael, or isn’t it?
Then the idiot admitted, “”Yes, it is me.”
At first, I was just uncomfortable with the news. It’s just pot, I thought. What’s the big deal? We’ve had presidents who have done worse.
But the public dialogue has helped clarify my thinking on the matter. He has made a major blunder.
Half the world is now crying out, “Shame on you.” Believe it or not, Michael Phelps is a role model for all those little boys who, after seeing him win eight gold medals in Beijing, now want to grow up to be just like him.
Yet now, several sponsors, who are paying big bucks for Phelps to be that role model, are leaving as fast as rats from a burning ship. And rightly so. Phelps has at least once before proved to be less than a role model – this photo was taken at a party at the Playboy mansion back in September.
Yes, Michael, the “no touching” rule applies even to gold medal winners! Idiot!
But there are others, like Randy Haspel of the Memphis Flyer, who see this as only one more reason pot should be legalized. We’ve all done it, he argues. What’s the big deal?
“Had Phelps been photographed at the same party with a tumbler of scotch, no one would have raised an eyebrow…” he writes.
So, Mr. Haspel, what if the photo had shown Phelps robbing a bank? A lot of people in Memphis think robbing banks is okay – we have hundreds of such robberies each year in the river city.
Or maybe you think we should just legalize bank robbing. After all, it doesn’t hurt anybody.
At least, that’s what they always say: “Just put the money in the bag and nobody gets hurt!”
Or what if the photo showed Phelps abusing a child? A lot of people do that each year also. In fact, there are support groups and organizations that are trying to legalize certain forms of child abuse.
It’s safer than drinking alcohol. I haven’t heard of any automobile accidents attributed to abusing a child.
Or what if the photo showed Phelps performing in a porn movie?
No, you don’t get a picture for that… pervert!
Performing in a porn movie is not illegal, but it’s not quite the image Kellog’s wants on their cereal boxes.
I could go on, but I think you see where I’m headed.
I am not opposed to legalizing marijuana. In fact, I think we should... and tax the hell out of it! But until that happens, it remains illegal to smoke it. Period.
So Michael Phelps is only 23 years old. He even used that as his excuse for this latest “indiscretion”.
Well, if he is not old enough / mature enough to handle himself appropriately in public, if he is not old enough / mature enough to understand the ramifications of his actions, just maybe he is not old enough / mature enough to receive the multi-million dollar endorsements.
After all, he’s only 23... Idiot!
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Friday, February 6, 2009
No, I’m not depressed.
I’ve never really been afraid of Death. I have lived long enough and seen enough to know that there are a lot worse things one could experience…
…like being stuck in a persistent vegetative state…
…or surviving 3rd degree burns over 75% of the body…
…or finding your television tuned to Benny Hinn without access to a remote control.
I need to talk to the gym management about that one.
I mean, what’s there to fear from Death? I think we’ve psyched ourselves out, with movies and images of Death as this creepy, skeletal figure in a black robe wielding a deadly-looking scythe.
But why couldn’t Death be some hot chick in a dominatrix outfit? Scary? Yes… but for completely different reasons.
Take me, Baby!
What is there to fear from Death? For one grounded in faith in Jesus Christ, death should be welcome, a celebration. I’ve already planned the after-party. You’re invited.
It involves margaritas.
But Death is a topic that has come up a lot recently. You may have heard:
*Dewey Martin died on Sunday. He was the drummer and founding member of the rock band Buffalo Springfield. Martin was 68.
*Tom Brumley died on Tuesday. He played steel guitar for Buck Owens and the Buckaroos back in the 60s. He also played with Rick Nelson. Brumley was 73.
*Warren Kimbro, who as a fledgling member of the Black Panther Party shot and killed a suspected police informer in New Haven in 1969, prompting a series of trials that made national headlines, but who later earned a Harvard degree and became a respected community leader, died in New Haven on Tuesday. He was 74.
*Millard Fuller, founder and former president of Habitat for Humanity, died on Monday. He became a self-made millionaire by the time he was 29, then hooked up with Clarence Jordan at Koinonia Farm in Americus, Georgia. He then devoted his life to building affordable housing (more than 300,000 to date) for people around the world. Fuller was 74 years old.
*Lux Interior, singer, songwriter and founding member of the pioneering New York City horror-punk band the Cramps, died Wednesday. He was 60.
Then there was this obituary in today’s L.A. Times that brought a tear to my eye: “The funeral for Santa Anita Park shoeshine man Eddie Logan, who died Saturday at 98, is scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday at Douglass & Zook Mortuary, 600 E. Foothill Blvd., Monrovia. Logan worked at the horse racing track for 74 years, from opening day Dec. 25, 1934, until early January.” Amazing!
Which kind of made me think: What will people say about me when I die?
--“He was a great preacher…”
--“Bob will be missed… What, his name is not Bob?... Well, at least his margaritas are good!”
--“Wasn’t he a preacher or something once?”
I’ve always told my church members, “I can do you a great funeral; just leave me some good material to work with.”
Perhaps I need to work on my own material…
--“He wrote this great blog that nobody read!”
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Yes, grandchildren, this was in the early days of rock ‘n roll, back before the big venues.
The Big Bopper, recovering from the flu, talked Holly’s bass player into giving up his seat on the flight; the bass player’s name was Waylon Jennings.
By the way, the concert in Moorhead went on and Jennings stepped in as lead singer – and a career was born.
Ritchie Valens, one of the first Mexican American recording artists to hit the top of the charts, begged for one of the four seats on the plane. Tommy Allsup, another one of Holly’s Crickets, flipped him for the seat. Valens won.
Or lost, as it were.
In 1971, Don McLean wrote “American Pie”, that includes a tribute to that fateful day, “the day the music died”. It is still the longest tribute song ever recorded – 8 minutes, 33 seconds. It took up both sides of a 45 rpm record.
The Holly tribute song with the longest title goes to the 1980 Gyllene Tider song, "Ska vi älska, så ska vi älska till Buddy Holly". ("If We'll Make Love, We'll Make Love [listening] to Buddy Holly").
I wasn’t yet alive in 1959… my time was still several years away. But the music of Buddy Holly influenced my childhood. My dad had been a radio DJ for a brief time and my first record collection (remember 45s?) were the discs he used to spin: Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Al Freed, Elvis. When Little Jimmy Dickens died last year, few of my peers noticed his passing; I know several of his songs by heart.
Later, as a teenager, a friend helped me upgrade my collection – introducing me to George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Wings, and the Nashville Cats, just to name a few. They’re all good too, but my heart still jumps when I hear Buddy Holly’s inimitable sound: “Oh Boy”, “Peggy Sue”, or “Maybe Baby”.
That was music.
Although their career only spanned about a year and a half, Buddy Holly and the Crickets were said to be the inspiration for several rock ‘n roll bands to follow, including The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Even Bob Dylan admitted to Holly’s influence when he accepted a Grammy award in 1998.
So I disagree with Don McLean. The music didn’t die that day. Buddy Holly did. Ritchie Valens did. The Big Bopper did.
But fortunately, the music lives on.
Monday, February 2, 2009
Phil's official forecast as read February 2nd, 2009 at sunrise at Gobbler's Knob:
"Hear Ye Hear Ye: On Gobbler's Knob this glorious Groundhog Day, February 2nd, 2009, Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of all Prognosticators, awoke to the call of President Bill Cooper and greeted his handlers, Ben Hughes and John Griffiths. After casting a joyful eye towards thousands of his faithful followers, Phil proclaimed that his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers were World Champions one more time and a bright sky above me showed my shadow beside me. So 6 more weeks of winter it will be."
Of course, one can't celebrate Groundhog Day without paying homage to the Bill Murray classic: