Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Fed Up!

That’s it! I am going to stop watching the morning “news” shows! I’ve had it with them!

I had once been a fan of “Good Morning America”. It was part of my morning ritual – get a little news before heading out into the world. But with cast changes – Charlie Gibson left, Diane Sawyer was added, then Charlie Gibson was brought back, now he’s gone again – I decided to switch.

I switched to “Today” on NBC. Katie Couric seemed to be able to do credible interviews with presidents as well as pop celebrities. But at some point, “news” became secondary. The show became personality-driven and full of fluff. Katie, Matt and Al became over-paid celebrities mugging for the cameras. And when Meredith Vieira replaced Katie, I just couldn’t take it anymore.

So I switched to “The Early Show” on CBS. AOL Television describes this broadcast as “A laid-back news program that also features pop-culture pieces.” That’s an understatement. Along with everyone else, Harry, Maggie & Julie beat to death the stories of Britney and “Octo-mom”, and are now fixated on “Kate & Jon” and Susan Boyle.

Oh, by the way, President Obama is going to announce his new pick for the Supreme Court this morning… now back to the fluff!

Yesterday they presented a story about how we are moving closer to a “Terminator-like World”. The segment, by Cynthia Bowers, “reported” that we have “12,000 ground robots” in Iraq and Afghanistan, and “7,000 pilot-less predator drones”.

Bowers failed mention that these are all manually controlled by a real human being.

But she made a big deal about a Navy-commissioned study on “the ethics of military robots”, which insists that “Autonomous military robots that will fight future wars must be programmed to live by a strict warrior code or the world risks untold atrocities at their steely hands.”

Obviously the commission never saw “Robo-Cop”!

But this morning’s show was the last straw.

Early Show “Medical Correspondent” Dr. Jennifer Ashton presented the findings of officials in Germany that the new Red Bull Cola contains trace amounts of “cocaine”.

COCAINE! OMG! Where can I get some?!?

But when Maggie Rodriguez asked how much “cocaine” they found, Dr. Ashton replied, “0.13 micrograms per can”. And in fairness to Dr. Ashton, she did admit one would have to drink 12,000 liters per day to feel any effect from that amount.

Yes, 12,000 liters per day! That’s more than 3,100 gallons per day! That’s 48,000 cans (in the traditional 8.4 oz Red Bull can)!

That much RBCola would also deliver 280 gallons of caffiene... which I am pretty sure would make your heart explode long before you got your buzz on!

So it’s a non-story. Nobody can drink that much soda each day. Let’s move on.

But to justify her paycheck, she added the alarm, ‘But I don’t think there should be any cocaine in the sodas our children drink’.

And don’t let them drink 12,000 liters of it per day either!!!

Here’s the low-down on Red Bull Cola. Like all colas, RBCola derives some cola flavoring from the coca plant. They don’t try to hide this fact like Coca-Cola does. RBCola also contains derivatives of cardamom and Kola nuts. But the flavoring agent is de-cocainized extract of the coca leaf, which is used around the world for flavoring food products. The removal of the cocaine alkaloid is mandated by international antinarcotics laws.

I realize other news agencies (including MSNBC and Time magazine) reported this “news”; but none sensationalized it like The Early Show’s “medical correspondent”.

So, Harry, Maggie & Julie – I'd like to say it’s been fun, but it hasn't been. So I’m not watching you anymore either.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Congratulations to
Kerri Walsh & Casey Jennings
on the birth of a son
Joseph Michael Jennings
8 lbs. 10 oz.
Friday, May 22, 2009
in Los Angeles

The next generation of Volleyball stars has finally arrived!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Check It Out!

We at Banana Winds are pleased to announce the addition of “Cake Wrecks” to our list of “Blogs I Love to Read”. My sister sent the link because she knew I would like this photo of a Lego Wedding Cake:

It combines my love of Legos with my hobby of cake decorating.

I was more amazed by the creativity that went into this one:

Scroll through the pics and you’ll see more reasons why I love this site. The running commentary on cakes gone wrong is funny, and I am frequently amazed that someone would make a cake like those featured on “Cake Wrecks”.

By the way, yes, I know the blog author is hawking a book. But I can look at the photos on her blogspot for free!

As a pastor, I was a little disturbed by this wedding cake:

And moreso by the accompanying photo of the wedding party:

Did the woman on the left not get the memo?

And I'm pretty sure the guy in the back center is from "Space Balls"!

But then, perhaps I'm being too critical!
Time for another margarita!

Monday, May 18, 2009

I Don't Understand

I readily admit I'm not the sharpest crayon in the box, but this was a difficult weekend for me. A lot going on… much of which I didn’t understand.

Horse Racing
Saturday afternoon, “Rachel Alexandra” ran off with the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of the Triple Crown. Rachel didn’t run in the Kentucky Derby because she didn’t qualify. In fact, her owner ponied up $100,000 just so she could run in the Preakness.

Why the gamble? The day before the Derby, Rachel Alexandra won the Kentucky Oaks by an amazing 20 ¼ lengths! Calvin Borel was in the saddle, and he committed to riding Rachel in the Preakness over Kentucky Derby winner “Mine That Bird”.

Mike Smith rode Mine That Bird to a close second. But as the T-shirt says, “Second place is just first loser!”

So there won’t be a Triple Crown winner this year… unless you can count jockey Calvin Borel on whatever horse he rides in three weeks at the Belmont!

What don’t I understand about all that? For a week prior to the Preakness, horse owners were publicly declaring that a filly shouldn’t run in the Preakness with “the boys”. Who woulda thought there would be sexism in the horse-race industry!

I guess Rachel Alexandra proved them wrong.

I liked what one announcer said prior to the race: “I like Rachel Alexandra, because she runs like a girl!”

Next came the Anaheim Ducks’ loss to the Detroit Red Wings in a close game seven. The Red Wings advanced to play the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals. (The Wings have already taken game one 5-2.)

Some say the Ducks should have won. Some say the Ducks are a better team. Some say given another chance, the Ducks could go on to win the Stanley Cup.

The scores say otherwise. They had seven games to put away the Wings and they didn’t. Time to go back to Anaheim and figure it out.

And where is Giguerre? Why was the $6 million goalie sitting on the bench while Hiller ($1.3 million) was in the goal during the playoffs?

Then on Sunday, President Barack Obama spoke at Notre Dame’s commencement ceremony.

It was once considered a great honor to have the President of the United States to speak at one’s commencement exercises.

At my college graduation, we got Dr. Marjorie Suchocki, who, as best I can remember, spoke in a soft, sing-song voice about how the atoms we breathe in come from the farthest reaches of the universe, and the atoms we breathe out travel to the farthest reaches of the universe.


Gameshow host Wink Martindale was also awarded an honorary doctorate that year… this from a college that doesn’t even offer a masters degree program!

But there was much protest at Notre Dame. President Obama is a pro-choice president. The Roman Catholic Church officially opposes abortion. Some felt President Obama was a poor choice for a commencement speaker.

Funny, they didn’t think that when former President Bush was invited to speak. He favors capital punishment, which the RC church also opposes. Same with former President Reagan.

What’s really going on here? Why the protests this year? Is it because President Obama is a Democrat? Is it because he is black? (Oops! Did I say that out loud?)

Truth is, he wasn’t invited to Notre Dame to speak about abortion. He was invited to inspire this graduating class of supposedly intelligent young people to accomplish great things in the years ahead of them. Had the protests not occurred, I am pretty sure he would not even have mentioned abortion.

It’s not a very inspirational subject.

Ignoring the protests, Notre Dame awarded the President an honorary Doctor of Law degree, which really is no big deal: he EARNED a real Juris Doctor (JD) from Harvard Law School in 1991 – and that was magna cum laude!

While I’m on the subject – at least in the neighborhood – I want to say a brief word about abortion:

If you don’t believe in it, don’t do it. There doesn’t have to be a law.

By the way, I hold this same opinion on a wide range of topics.

So for once, I am happy to see Monday arrive. Maybe the new week will bring some sanity to this crazy world in which we live.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Open Season

On a recent talk show, a guest was expounding on how many naysayers originally feared that the internet would spell the end to the printed word. Instead, she noted, while many newspapers are going under, the internet has created a larger – although different – print world, as nearly everyone now has a creative writing outlet through their own website, weblog, Facebook page or Twitter... whatever.

Unfortunately, the success of the internet has created a glut of words, often senseless musings (like this one) on every mundane topic imaginable.

Plus some I never imagined!

Where once a writer had to get her/his work past a whole host of editors, constrained by Style Books and editorial policies, now anything goes. With the click of a button, one’s opinions get laid out for the whole world to read. Granted, most of those posts are seen only by a very limited audience. But I am still amazed that, without even trying, we have had literally thousands of hits at “Banana Winds”.

With this new-found voice, we have been given the power to create or destroy; to bless or to curse; to choose life or choose death.

Unfortunately, for the most part we have opted for the negative. For example,

--Perez Hilton criticized Miss California for her answer during the Miss USA Pageant (see post from May 6, 2009), which has touched off a storm of controversy. But who the hell is Perez Hilton and why is his opinion important?

--Notre Dame University has been roundly criticized for inviting President Obama to speak at its graduation ceremony. The President does support a woman’s right to choose an abortion, but apparently these critics think Notre Dame should be a one-issue university.

--Elizabeth Edwards has written a book, “Resilience”, in which she talks about being a cancer survivor and explains why she chose to stay with her ex-politician husband, John, despite his acknowledged affair with a staff member. She says she wrote the book for her children. She has been blasted from all quarters.

--Comedienne Wanda Sykes has been criticized for her jokes about Rush Limbaugh at the recent White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Playing off of Limbaugh’s public statement that he hopes Obama fails as president, Sykes likened him to a terrorist. Apparently some think terrorism is out of bounds as material for comedy.

But if you think that is offensive, you should see Wanda’s stand-up comedy act!

--Former Vice-President Dick Cheney has refused to go silently into the night as former President Bush has. Cheney is a regular on the talk show circuit and on op-ed pages, ready to criticize anyone and everyone he dislikes – which seems to be a lot of people – especially President Obama.

Yes, even the President of the United States of America is fair game for public criticism. In fact, it seems that since the great broccoli fiasco during the first President Bush’s tenure, the President (whoever it may be) has become a favorite target for criticism.

--President Obama laughed at the jokes Wanda Sykes told at the Correspondents’ Dinner. “Shame on him.”

--The President’s joke at that same White House dinner about Cheney (“Cheney is writing a book: How to Shoot Friends and Interrogate People.”) was also not well-received by the right wing.

--His beautiful wife, Michelle, wears sleeveless dresses. OMG!

--He is even being criticized for the excursion he made with Vice-President Biden, two regular guys in search of a hamburger. President Obama had the gall to ask for Dijon Mustard on his burger.

“Where do you think you are? Burger King?”

You do remember 1976, don’t you?

Is it possible that, thanks to the internet, people around the world are also reading what is being said, what we write? And perhaps they start thinking, “Hey, Americans don’t respect their president. Why should we?” Could this be a contributing factor to America’s decline in the eyes of the world?

At best, all this criticism sets up a bad vibe. Instead of looking for the best in people, we are looking for something to criticize. It’s like ripples in a pond. A simple disturbance to the water can have repercussions all the way to the farthest shore.

Sometimes we hold on to negative feelings about people without realizing why.

“I don’t like President Obama.”
“Why not?”
“Um. I don’t know… Oh wait, now I remember: he likes Dijon Mustard on his hamburger.”

But I’m pretty sure he didn’t say, “Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?”

That was the ‘80s.

I, for one, am tired of it. It’s enough to drive a man to drink! In fact, Jimmy Buffett has released a new song, “We’ve Got a Lot to Drink About”. Indeed.

But I’m sure someone out there will probably tell him that his song title ends with a preposition!

It has come to the point where we are “damned if we do, damned if we don’t.”

I mean, we criticize Christina Aguilera for not wearing pants…

And John Daly for wearing pants!

We’re all going to Hell!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Beauty Pageants - part 2

Writing about the Miss USA pageant reminded me of a situation I found myself in nearly twenty years ago as a young preacher.

I was appointed to serve two small rural churches in western Kentucky. One of those congregations included the Circuit Judge and his wife among the membership. I don’t bow to the rich and powerful -- we are all equally God's children -- but I naturally respected his position in the community.

And I always hoped he would return the favor: for example, when it came to his daughter’s wedding, I stood firm and would not allow him to “give her away”.

Weddings – at least in America – are not property transactions.

After a few tense days, we compromised. He walked his daughter down the aisle. I asked, “Who presents this woman to be married?” He declared, “Her mother and I.” The groom’s parents were also allowed to “present” their son.

But I digress.

One day the Judge’s wife asked me to be a judge in a local beauty pageant. My first thought was, “Absolutely not!” But I told her I would think it over.

The pageant would be held in the next county over, so it would not involve anyone I knew. The younger age groups would include boys, so it would not be completely sexist.

And who knows – the exposure might [somehow] be a good thing. I could see the headline: “Liberal Methodist Preacher is Celebrity Judge”. People all over western Kentucky would want to be a part of my congregation. I would be doing it for my church.

So I agreed.

And, for effect, I would wear my clerical collar.

The pageant, held in the gymnasium of the county high school, started off with younger children – not the horrible 3-year-olds you see on television these days, where the mommies try to re-live an imaginary childhood through their offspring by layering their faces with make-up and giving them false teeth and fake suntans. The youngest age group here was 6-year olds.

To my surprise, the grandson of one of my members appeared on stage. It never dawned on me that his parents would enter him in a contest. But he was truly the cutest kid in the county – and just as sweet as corn cob jelly! I abstained from the voting because I knew him, but he won his age group without my help.

Then came the next age group – and there was his big sister! Also a cutie, and very smart and poised. Again, I abstained from the voting. She took second.

I guess they call that “First Runner-Up”. Whatever.

All seemed to be going well until we got to the teenagers – girls 16-18 years old. The problem wasn’t with the talent portion or the interview question or even the evening gown competition. For the older girls, there was a swimsuit competition!

Granted, this was 20 years ago in a small rural county with a strong Baptist sensibility, so the swimsuits were [thankfully] modest one-piece outfits.

But I knew I was in trouble when the first young lady came out.

You see, we judges were seated at a table near the stage.

The first contestant was announced and she walked carefully in her bathing suit and high heels over to the judges’ table.

She struck a pose.

I grew nervous.

Here was the Methodist preacher – decked out in his clerical collar – ogling somebody’s 16-year-old daughter in her bathing suit!

Then, to make matters worse, the announcer said, “Now turn.”

And the contestant – not three feet from us – turned her back to us and again struck a pose.

What was I supposed to do? Where was I supposed to look? How do I judge this? What if I had to explain my scoring?

"Nice butt. I gave her a 9.2."

The children had been easy -- just pick the cute one. But this...

My mind raced back to other contests I had seen…

Dog Show – the judge checks posture, pulls back the jowels to expose the teeth, then gropes and feels up and down the legs and haunches to make sure the dog’s muscle tone is up to par.


Horse Show – okay, she stands about 16 hands tall and has a comfortable gait…


And there were nine more contestants to go!

It was one of the longest nights of my life…

And Circuit Judge’s wife or not, I will never do it again!

Okay, maybe during Spring Break in Cancun!

Hey, Jerry Springer, call me!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


The more I hear about the recent Miss USA controversy, the more it disturbs me.

For those of you who have been blessed to not hear about this – and I’d also like to join you on that deserted island – during the April 19th Miss USA Pageant in Las Vegas, “celebrity” pageant judge Perez Hilton asked Miss California, Carrie Prejean, if she thought states should legalize same-sex marriages.

It was a provocative question, but should not have been difficult to handle by Miss California. With a sparkling smile, she declared: “I think that I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised.”

That was her opinion. She answered the question quickly and without stumbling… never said “such as” even once!

But apparently it was the wrong answer. She did not win the pageant, as she thought she should have.

Later, in his blog, the openly-gay Perez Hilton called her “a stupid bitch” for holding such beliefs.

Miss California’s defensive response was to be expected: “It did cost me the crown. It is a very touchy subject and [Hilton] is a homosexual and I see where he was coming from and I see the audience would’ve wanted me to be more politically correct. But I was raised in a way that you can never compromise your beliefs and your opinions for anything.”

Yes, Carrie Prejean was raised in an Evangelical Christian home. She attends The Rock Church in San Diego, where she helps with the Outreach Committee. She attends San Diego Christian College in El Cajon, where she is reportedly studying to be a special ed teacher.

Great! Super-duper!

But a short time after the pageant, we discovered that prior to the Miss USA pageant, officials from the Miss California USA pageant paid for Miss Prejean to have certain “enhancements”. Okay, I’ll say it: breast implants. Pageant officials said she brought up the subject, and they paid for the “enhancements” for the sake of her “confidence”.

Now I’m thinking, “What Would Jesus Do?”

What's more, on Monday we learned that there are some racy pics in her “modeling” portfolio. Her response was unapoligetic: “I am a Christian and I am a model. Models pose for pictures, including lingerie and swimwear photos.” Indeed, the pics were fairly tame by today's standards, but Carrie, dear, panties alone don't make an ensemble!

Yes, models do it. But do Christians?

And as for her response, “That’s how I was raised” – it turns out her sister is supportive of same-sex marriage. Hmmm. Were they not raised in the same house?

Well, as expected when controversy arises, Miss Prejean is receiving her “15 minutes of fame”, giving television interviews, speaking in churches, and working with the National Organization for Marriage; she appears on a commercial for the cause. She has even hired a Christian public relations firm to help her handle this fleeting moment in time.

But that fame may turn into infamy. Apparently she didn’t read her 12-page contract with the Miss California USA Pageant that says they are her “god” now, they control her life. The letter of the law says she can’t make personal appearances, give interviews or tape commercials without the Pageant’s express written permission.

Oops! How did I miss that?!?

Where is all this headed? In my humble opinion, these beauty pageants need to just go away. They are merely over-blown parades of surgically-enhanced Barbie dolls. America’s interest in “Miss-“ pageants started to wane years ago; the major television networks dropped them for lack of viewership. So now, in order to boost flagging ratings, pageant organizers are mixing in celebrity and controversial issues.

Any publicity is good publicity, they say in the biz.

But no, Miss Prejean, the same does not hold true for Christianity: “any publicity” is NOT good evangelism.

Say good night, Gracie!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Saturday, May 2, 2009

What's Going On???

What's going on in this picture?

A) Scene from the Memphis in May Music Festival?
B) Tent City refugees?

How about here?

A) Fraternity pledge prank?
B) Comicon rejects?

What about this one?

Y'know, I don't even have words to describe this picture. I apologize.

Believe it or not, these are all scenes from today's Kentucky Derby!

Children, this is why you want to save up your money and buy a seat in the Grandstand instead of the infield!

Anyway, the race was exciting, run on a sloppy track after a hard rain. Race favorite "I Want Revenge" was scratched last night when the trainer found a "hot spot" on the horse's ankle. Without the ability to determine the cause, the owner wisely pulled the horse from the race.

Which left the field wide open.

And at the end of the race, the field was literally wide open... as long-shot "Mine That Bird" pulled away from the pack on the final turn. Ridden by 2007 Derby winner Calvin Borel, the horse went off at 50-1 odds!

"Pioneerof the Nile" (6-1) came in second and "Musket Man" (19-1) came in third.

What makes this victory extra sweet is that "Mine That Bird" was originally purchased from only $9,500!

Which just goes to show you -- as I always say -- on any given day, any horse can win the greatest race in horse racing!

"Mine That Bird" will go on to the Preakness in two weeks. Look for another exciting race then.