Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you
a very Merry Christmas
from all of us
Banana Winds!

As always, here's a little Christmas Cheer to make your holidays brighter!

(With special thanks to the New Orleans Saintsations!)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What Am I Missing Here?

Have you ever felt like life was one big joke, and everyone else was in on it, but you still don't get the punch-line?

I have been reading the newspapers more recently, trying to figure out what the heck is going on in America. I’m not just looking for the “news”; I'm trying to understand the mindset of the American public.

Unfortunately, I am more confused now than when I first began. Here are a few examples to illustrate what I mean:

Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck were recently hailed as the leading voices of the Christian Right, the political heavyweights of conservative Christianity, the heirs to Rev. Jerry Fallwell’s Moral Majority legacy.

This strikes me as odd because 1) Sarah Palin has no religious creds to speak of (born into a Roman Catholic family, attended Wasilla Assembly of God, then a Pentecostal church, and then Wasilla Bible Church); and 2) Glenn Beck is Mormon.

What’s more, Sarah Palin’s political position seems to be anything that is anti-Obama. On her recent television show, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” (are you kidding me?!?), she took cheap shots at the recent bill promoted by Michelle Obama and signed by President Obama addressing the frequently-noted obesity of America’s children.

Despite the fact that 1/3 of America’s children are obese, Palin is opposed to “the government taking away dessert from children”. She says deciding if a child should have dessert or not is the parents’ responsibility, not the government’s… despite the fact that apparently 1/3 of America’s parents are abdicating that responsibility.

The L.A. Times recently pointed out that while wine can only be purchased online in 13 states, pornography, cigarettes and ammunition are legal to purchase online in every state. Even California prohibits the purchase of wine online from out-of-state wineries. Some of this is protectionist, some prohibitionist. But really, is it 1930 again?

AOL News reports that the National Organization of Women (NOW) has filed complaints against Hooters Restaurants for catering to children. Yes, it seems Hooters provides bibs (emblazoned with “Future Hooters Girl”), high chairs & booster seats, and a “family-friendly” atmosphere.

Shame on them!

Wait a minute. What’s wrong with that?

Apparently Hooters is registered as an “Adult Entertainment” establishment in San Francisco, San Bruno, Sacramento & Orange County.


From time to time I have had colleagues warn me about the place – that the waitresses are topless, and they “wag their boobies in your face”.

I confess: I frequent my local Hooters restaurant, have done so for many years now. (See my previous blog post here.) If they hadn’t closed the restaurant just ½ mile from the parsonage, my picture would probably be on the wall!

But in all that time, I have never seen nudity nor a wet t-shirt contest there; never been offered a lap dance… nor any other non-menu special for that matter. In fact, the local restaurant stays so busy, most of the time the girls do good just to keep up with food orders!

It's adult entertainment only in the sense that I'm an adult and I like to eat there!

And again, I would argue that one can see more flesh on television, in the malls, and at local beaches than is displayed by the Hooters Girls.

Last but not least, the people responsible for the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY, are now planning to build an “Ark Encounter” theme park including, yes, a life-size reproduction of Noah’s Ark… “to prove the creation story”.


What got the attention of the media was their request for state tourism-development incentives, by which they could recover as much as 25% of their costs through state taxes. The Governor of KY is said to be supportive, as the Museum has brought in 720,000 visitors in its three year history.

Okay, a friend took her children there recently on vacation because she heard it had a lot of dinosaurs, which her children love.

But seriously, who still buys the six-day creation story?

Apparently a lot of folks! A 1997 Gallup poll showed 44% believe the creation story in Genesis is literally true. In 1999, a Fox News poll found the number to be at 50%. In 2006, a CBS poll found the number up to 55%.

What has happened to critical thinking? When did we collectively turn off our brains and decide to just agree with – no, fervently advocate for – whatever our favorite talking heads tell us to believe? Whatever happened to thinking something through to its logical conclusion? When did the media stop asking the tough questions? And what are our churches teaching these days?

It scares me that the most pressing concern of some of my church members is that the President of the United States is black / might be Muslim / won’t reveal his birth certificate / recently said the motto of the U.S. is “E Pluribus Unum” instead of “In God We Trust”.

What about feeding the hungry? Clothing the naked? Healing the sick? Visiting those in prison? Why aren't any of these god-fearing Christians talking about that?

Jesus sure did.

Sarah? Glenn? Any thoughts?

Saturday, December 18, 2010


If the Christmas story happened today...

... or not!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Best Commercial Ever!

I was going to label this the "Best Christmas Commercial Ever", but after listening to it and taking a walk down Memory Lane, I decided it's really the "Best Commercial Ever"!


Saturday, December 11, 2010

For the Wine Connoisseurs out there

I was surfing the web this morning when I ran across this old television wine advertisement. Someone has unloaded cases of them on YouTube. Check it out! 

This one features James Mason, the English Actor wtih three Academy Awards Nominations. You might have seen him as Capt. Nemo in Disney's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" (1954), or wtih Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint in "North By Northwest" (1959), or with Kirk Douglas and Peter Lorre in "Boys from Brazil" (1978).

In this commercial, Mason is peddling an all-too-familiar wine brand.

(Click on the box to start the video.)

"An unusual flavor", indeed!

And was that a wedge of lemon on the rim of the glass of ice?!?

Nothing says "sophisticated" like a fine wine poured over ice with a squeeze of lemon!

By the way, anyone... is this commerical the basis for the Dos XX ad campaign, "The most interesting man in the world?"

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Joy of Christmas

I usually become a real “Humbug” this time of year. No attending Christmas parades. No watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Miracle on 34th Street” on television. Not even “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. And I don’t attend children’s Christmas programs.

Except one.

The Madonna Learning Center presents a wonderful Christmas pageant every year. We have been to it for four years in a row now and it is still a wonderful experience!

Madonna L.C. is a school for children with special needs. One of my favorites kids at church is Sarah, a 13-year-old with Downs Syndrome. She attends the school.

But it would be wrong to say we go to the program just to support her. We go for the blessing.

This year was especially meaningful for two reasons. First, Sarah’s mother died suddenly this summer. It has been an especially difficult year for her and for her family as they grieve and try to establish new routines.

Adding to this, Sister Mary Mark, a Catholic nun and the founder of the school, also died this summer in a tragic car accident. She was the spirit of the school, and its chief fund-raiser!

Prior to the program – which is presented to the public free of charge – the chairman of the Board made no apologies for reminding the crowded room that it takes $1 million per year to keep the school running. There are no corporate donations, no government grants, and student tuition only covers a small percentage of the cost.

“Anything you can give will help.” (The school’s address is included at the bottom of this blog.)

So this year’s program – “A Very Merry Mary Mark Christmas” – was dedicated to the memory of Sister Mary Mark. But in keeping with her spirit, the production was not at all sad or maudlin. The children were joyous and rambunctious throughout. There was a lot more waving to parents from the stage. A lot more mugging for the audience and unscripted bows. And a lot more “air guitar” playing.

I didn’t realize so many guitar players use that “windmill” motion when they play!

But that doesn’t mean there was no need for the packet of Kleenex I had wisely stowed in my coat pocket. In previous years, I frequently found my eyes “leaking” as I watched these beautiful children perform the Christmas program from their heart. This year was no different.

I thought I had dodged the bullet, as they say, until near the end of the show. A pretty young student came on stage and flawlessly signed her way through Amy Grant’s “Breath of Heaven”. Her graceful movements, along with the bright smile on her face, touched my heart.

But then the dam burst. As another student began signing to Chris Rice’s “Go Light Your World”, the lights went out.

There is a candle in every soul,
Some brightly burning, some dark and cold.
There is a Spirit who brings a fire,
Ignites a candle and makes His home.

Down the center aisle a student carried in a single candle. From the wings of the stage, two more students carried in candles. Tears started streaming down my cheeks as the chorus rang out:

So carry your candle, run to the darkness,
Seek out the hopeless, confused and torn;
Hold out your candle for all to see it.
Take your candle, and go light your world,
Take your candle, and go light your world.

I grabbed a Kleenex and started looking for an exit strategy. But the house was packed and the only way out was across the front of the room.

Frustrated brother, see how he's tried to
Light his own candle some other way;
See now your sister, she's been robbed and lied to,
Still holds a candle without a flame.

I decided that since the room was dark, no one would see my tears. But as the chorus came around again, I realized the room was growing brighter as candles were being lit from person to person.

And there I sat – Kleenex in hands, tears streaming – holding my own lit candle.

But, looking around, I don’t think anyone noticed. They, too, were caught up in the moment.

Cause we are a family whose hearts are blazing,
So let's raise our candles and light up the sky;
Praying to our Father, in the name of Jesus,
Make us a beacon in darkest times.

So carry your candle, run to the darkness,
Seek out the helpless, deceived and poor;
Hold out your candle for all to see it,
Take your candle, and go light your world.

It was the best Christmas pageant ever.

Okay, I say that every year!

And it’s true.

The Madonna Learning Center’s Christmas program will be presented again on Thursday and Friday night of this week at 7:15 p.m. If you’re going, get there at least an hour early to get a seat.

The Madonna Learning Center is located at 7007 Poplar Avenue, Germantown, TN.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Man Without a Generation

There was an interesting article in USAToday last week concerning the “Baby Boom” generation. That includes approximately 77 million Americans – those born between 1946 and 1964.

That generational designation just barely includes your beloved writer.

That is NOT me in the bathtub however!

The “Baby Boomers” are so designated due to a period of unusually high birth rate. Prior to 1946, the birthrate in the U.S. was less than 3 million per year. In 1946, it went to 3.4 million, then on to a high of 4.3 million in 1957. It dropped to 3.8 million in 1965, thus ending the “baby boom”.

The author of the newspaper article, Haya El Nasser, points out that with a generation that spans 19 years, there are significant differences of experiences among this group.

Indeed. Several years ago, Karen and I attended a church-growth workshop – I think the last one she ever attended with me!

At the workshop, we began discussing the identified generations. I think at that time we had only identified up to “Generation X”, those born from roughly 1965 to 1981. At one point, the leader asked for all the “Baby Boomers” to stand. I stood up.

I do what I’m told.

Karen, however, looked around the room at all the “gray hairs” and said, “That’s not my generation!” Ignoring the chronological divide, she opted to stand with the “Gen Xers”.

At the time, I thought that was odd. While we are only 10 months apart in age, I identified more with the “Boomers”, she with “Gen X”.

But as time goes on, I’m beginning to think she was right.

Not long ago I visited an area church known for its “contemporary” worship style. I listened to their rock-n-roll style music, noted the age of the congregation, and smiled at the preacher’s long, graying ponytail. The service did nothing for me; it was a show. I realized that what they were calling “contemporary” was really Baby Boomers trying to keep their “good ol’ days” alive.

And while my own congregation is made up largely of the “Silent Generation” (those born between 1925-1945), this booming congregation of Boomers was missing just as many young people.

So where do I fit in?

Those born at the beginning of the baby boom remember watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. They remember the Cold War and most likely participated in the “Duck and Cover” drills at school. They vividly remember the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Bobby Kennedy.

Yet, those events, along with “the Summer of Love” and most of the Vietnam War, are merely the subject of history text books for those of us born at the end of the era.

Another significant marker of the generation was the military draft, which ended in 1973. I was 10. I never got to march in protest, never got to chain myself to a courthouse door, never got to shout, “Hell no, we won’t go!” Protesting the war and the draft were unifying experiences… for those who went before me.

Now, I have spent a great deal of time studying the 60’s and 70’s. I love the music – from the Beach Boys to The Doors. I know all about Woodstock and who played there. I know all about “Wavy Gravy” and Abby Hoffman, Patty Hearst and Charles Manson. I have researched the 1970 massacre at Kent State. I’m pretty sure I would have voted for JFK and I definitely would have supported MLK Jr.

And I have watched the tribal love-rock musical “Hair” several times.

But all that happened “before my time” – not necessarily before I was born, but before I was “aware”.

And while I loved the ultimate baby-boomer television drama, “30-Something” (aired on ABC from 1987-1991), I was only 20-something and never understood what all the angst was about.

So, should I be asked again, I think I would feel out of place identifying myself as a “Baby Boomer”.

Besides, I’m still at least 20 years away from retirement!

But I don’t really find my place with the 46 million “Gen Xers” either. Yes, I had just graduated from high school when MTV was launched (“Video Killed the Radio Star”). I saw the Berlin Wall come down (“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”). I got my first personal computer more than 20 years ago (a second-hand Kay-Pro). And I know who Nirvana and Pearl Jam are.

But I don’t like their music.

So I find myself standing in the gap – a man without a generation.

But perhaps this is a good thing. This way I can enjoy the best of the Baby Boom and the best of Gen X without being stereotyped.

Because we “Gappers” don’t like to be stereotyped!

Yes, I just made that up!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Catching Up After Thanksgiving

I left the big city for a few days to enjoy my mother's home cooking and celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends. And I have found that when I leave town, I rarely check in with the world to keep up with what's going on.

I think they call that "vacation".

After all, it's Thanksgiving. Most everything is closed. What could possibly happen that would be newsworthy, right?

Well, as they say, let me "catch you up".

The Saints squeaked past the newly-invigorated Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. Unfortunately, the LSU Tigers couldn't do the same against Arkansas on Saturday.

But the game that really broke my heart was the one I didn't get to watch: the 107th playing of Michigan vs. Ohio State. I'm not a fan of either team, but each year I try to catch that historic match-up, made famous by the 1983 hit movie "The Big Chill". And I usually try to watch the movie some time before the game, just to get me in the mood.

...not that watching the "Saintsations" didn't!

Sarah Palin Does It Again
On Wednesday, during a radio interview with Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin (former Governor of Alaska / former Republican candidate for VP / spokesmodel for the Tea Party / potential Presidential candidate in 2012) commented on the recent attack by North Korea on South Korea. Here's quote #1:

"This is stemming from, I think, a greater problem when we're all sitting around asking, 'Oh no, what are we going to do,' and we're not having a lot of faith that the White House is going to come out with a strong enough policy to sanction what it is that North Korea is going to do."

Huh? Does she know that "sanction" means "to approve"? Is she calling for America's approval of the unprovoked artillery pounding of civilian dwellings in South Korea by the North Korean army?
You decide. Here's quote #2:
"Obviously, we gotta stand with our North Korean allies."
So maybe she does know what "sanction" means. She just doesn't know who our allies are!
Doesn't she remember President Bush's "Axis of Evil"??? 
And this from the woman who would be President?!?
Later, she tried to write it off as the liberal media on another one of their smear campaigns against her. "Anybody could make that mistake," she noted. "During the campaign, Obama said there are 57 states in the U.S."
But try explaining your "little slip" at the next VFW gathering you speak at, to a room filled with Korean War vets -- like my father -- who fought to stop the spread of Communism into South Korea, who drew the line at the 38th parallel.  
If nothing else, walk the Mall in Washington D.C. and familiarize yourself with the monuments there.
Speaking of Palins, despite a concerted effort by some to make a political statement by voting multiple times for Sarah's daughter, Bristol ended in 3rd place in the finals of "Dancing with the Stars".
[Editor's note: Sorry, no picture here. I just couldn't stomach it.]
Now can we get on to more important stuff???
Dr. Laura is On The Air
For those who have been hiding under a rock of recent, Dr. Laura Schlessinger has been on the radio and television since 1975. Although her PhD is in physiology -- her thesis was about the effect of insulin on laboratory rats -- that didn't stop the state of California from giving her a license to dispense marriage and familiy advice, along with a few conservative political commentaries, which she offers freely.
Despite an on-air rant back in August of this year, in which she repeated the "N-word" eleven times to a black woman who called in seeking advice, Dr. Laura continues to answer the phone lines. Although officially canned from her show, she doesn't leave the airwaves until the end of December.
And, by the way, if I said "that" from the pulpit just once, I would be immediately yanked and forever banished!
But this is America, and there seems to be a place for every inconsiderate, mean-spirited, foul-mouthed personality.
We call it "satellite radio". 
Yes, Dr. Laura goes off to the unregulated world of Sirius/XM Radio to join the likes of shock-jock Howard Stern, where she will be able to say and do whatever the voices in her twisted little brain want her to say and do. And, like Stern before her, she will make more money saying it.
Isn't America a great country? Where you are free to say and do pretty much anything you want?
Willie Nelson
Unless you're Willie Nelson. On Friday, the border patrol at Sierra Blanca, Texas, pulled over Willie's tour bus. As they opened the door to inspect the interior of the bus, one officer reportedly "smelled marijuana".
On Willie Nelson's tour bus? You've got to be kidding!
A thorough search turned up 6 ounces of the illegal herb and Nelson and three others were arrested.
Aw, c'mon, dudes! Six ounces? Really?
Besides, stopping Willie Nelson's tour bus to look for pot is like stopping the Good Humor Ice Cream truck looking for...
...ahem cream.
Willie remained composed throughout, and admitted the stash was his. He refused to comment on the matter, other than the following prepared statement:

And that's the news!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pet Peeve

Okay, so the other day the question came up: what is a Peeve, and why would someone keep it as a pet?

So I did an internet search, and came up with this:

But that still doesn't answer the question why someone would keep it as a pet!

More research to follow.

Anyway, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I go to the gym -- a "24-Hour Fitness" on Ridgeway, just a couple blocks north of Ridgeway High School.

The Ridgeway High campus originally include Ridgeway Middle School until a couple years ago. And I always thought it was interesting -- if not downright absurd -- that there was a posted "School Zone" for the Middle School that ended between the two drives of the High School.

Apparently, in Memphis we love our Middle Schoolers more than our High Schoolers!

But as a I was saying, a couple years ago, the school board moved the Middle School to another location and converted that building to a "Freshman Academy", an isolated setting to help transition students from Middle School to High School.

Not surprisingly, they left the school zone signs as they were.

Anyway, back to the gym. I usually get there about 6:30 a.m. and leave around 7:30 a.m.

Yeah... no!

As I am returning home, students are arriving for school.

Now, Ridgeway is a major north-south thoroughfare. There are three lanes each direction, plus a center turn lane. The posted speed limit is 40 m.p.h., meaning traffic usually flows at 50 m.p.h.

At 7:30 in the morning, there are cars and teenagers everywhere. Students walk from every direction, crossing streets apparently unaware of designated crosswalks. A circular drive allows parents to drop their kids off at the front door of the school, but since that path is usually congested, many just stop in the center turn-lane and make their kids hop out into traffic. Buses line the curb in front of the school, obscuring view for those trying to exit the parking lot.

It reminds me of the old video game, "Frogger"!

I often think the school zone sign should be changed to this:

Moving on, about two blocks south on Ridgeway sits Ridgeway Baptist Church, a large church complex with a large, carefully designed parking lot. On the church's campus is Westminster Academy, another one of Memphis' private Christian schools that enables rich white parents to protect their children from having to mingle with the African-American children that make up 98% of the Memphis City Schools after integration was instituted.

Yet, despite being a private Christian school with an easily-accessible parking lot where caravans of minivans drop off their precious cargo at the front door -- no one walks to Westminster! -- they have a designated school zone!

...with flashing lights!!!

For the block-and-a-half that the church occupies, the speed limit is mandated to 15 m.p.h. as the children arrive and when they leave!


I have thought about writing to complain to the city, but I was afraid my complaint would be seen as being petty... petty as it sounds when I write it here!


*     *     *     *    *

Wine News Alert!

The 2010 Beaujolais Nouveaus were released on Thursday. You can read my excitement about this annual event in a post from last year found here.

Unfortunately, I bought three bottles of 2009 and it all tasted... how do the French say it?... "Horrible!" Most reviews I read after tasting the swill spoke of "hints of bananas".


Use your own judgement in buying.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hard About!

According to David Gibson, religion reporter for “Politics Daily”, the American Humanist Association has gone on the offensive this Christmas season with an advertising campaign attacking Christianity.

Picking from the abundance of scripture we are not so proud of, the AHA is making a case against Christianity at this most holy season of the year.

"The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open."

The Biblical quote is followed with a quote from a pop icon like Albert Einstein, who once said, "I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own -- a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty."

Granted, it’s a small campaign. It only has a $200,000 budget, which won’t take it far. But, according to the AHA, the goal is to show “that secular humanist values are consistent with mainstream America and that fundamentalist religion has no right to claim the moral high ground.”


Note to the AHA: Jesus didn’t die to secure “the moral high ground”. He died to restore humankind to a right relationship with God… something neither humanism nor atheism nor reason – no matter how good – can provide.

Small though it is, the AHA campaign concerns me because is not alone this holiday season. The United Coalition of Reason is advertising, “Don’t believe in God? Join the Club.”

The American Atheists have posted ads depicting the Nativity, with the words: “You Know It’s A Myth. This Season Celebrate Reason.”

The Freedom from Religion Foundation is spending $55,000 on a campaign showing average Americans saying things like, “I like baking, biking & sleeping in on Sundays.”

Hmmm. Now that you mention it, so do I.

After centuries of Christianity waging war against non-believers, the prevailing winds seem favorable for non-believers to strike back. But, after hundreds of years of complacency as the conquering religion in the land, is Christianity today prepared to engage the battle again?

I have received a lot of emails over the years from the Religious Right decrying the removal of prayer from public schools and Judeo-Christian displays from public places. They hate the accommodation of “Happy Holidays” over “Merry Christmas” in the market place. They fear the removal of “In God We Trust” from U.S. currency and “One Nation Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.

My response to all of these concerns has been consistent: It is not the place of the federal government or the public schools or the shopping malls to promote and maintain the Christian faith. That is specifically the responsibility of the Church and individual Christians.

Yet these are but small skirmishes. The battle is still to be engaged.

We don’t have to be crass or shrill about it, but we should at least teach our own children to pray, by word and example; and they will pray – at school or wherever – and no one can prevent them. We should teach our own children that the “12 Days of Christmas” don’t start the day after Thanksgiving! We should teach generosity and hospitality by example, welcoming the stranger in our midst and reaching out with compassion to the least among us.

But, for the most part, we don’t. It seems we’re not willing to make the effort – or take a risk – for Jesus.

And so we send out emails to our like-minded friends from the comfort and safety of our homes.

But that’s not how Christianity became the predominant faith of the western world. In Acts 20, a narrative about the beginning decades of Christianity, the apostle Paul addresses the elders of the Church at Ephesus, sharing with them his next course of action:

“And now, as a captive of the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and persecutions are waiting for me.”

Who among us would go with Paul?

It is time for the Church to rally! This is not a “Call to Arms” (because I’m a peace-lovin’ pirate!) but a “Call to Action”! We can no longer count on others to do our work. If Christianity is to survive the current onslaught from the secular world, it is up to those of us who call themselves “Christians” and “Believers” to engage the battle.

Again, it is not about “the moral high ground”. It is about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

"The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee..."

Yesterday morning, while getting ready for my day, I was playing my IPod for background music. The Gordon Lightfoot song, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" came on.

Yes, I know. I have quirky musical tastes. Does that surprise anyone?

As I listened to the song, I thought to myself, "Self, how in the world did that song become a popular hit?"

Granted, it was recorded in 1976, when good music was hard to come by. But seriously -- a spooky ballad about the wreck of an iron freighter on one of the Michigan lakes?

In "Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs", the columnist writes, "Talk about your party tunes! Just put this song on the stereo and crank up the volume; then sit back and watch as your guests suddenly realize it's time to leave!"

Nonetheless, the tune immediately shot to #1 on the pop charts in Canada, then #2 on the Billboard charts in America. And suddenly, children all over North America could name the five bodies of water that make up Michigan's Great Lakes!

Huron... Ontario... Michigan... Erie... Superior! (Hint: the first letter of each lake spells "HOMES"!)

A couple years ago I found the words and chords to the song. I picked up my guitar and started to play -- fairly simple since there are only three chords. But I got half way through the song and grew bored.

Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
When they left fully loaded for Cleveland
And later that night when the ships bell rang
Could it be the North Wind they'd been feeling.


Anyway, yesterday morning, as I listened to the song, I decided that I would, in a free moment, do a little research on the song.

So it came as quite a surprise when, last night as I was finally able to sit down and check the newspapers, I came across an article in USA Today on the Edmund Fitzgerald. As it turns out, tomorrow is the 35th anniversary of the ship's sinking.

The Captain wired in he had water coming in
And the good ship and crew was in peril
And later that night when his lights went out of sight
Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Literally thousands of ships like the Edmund Fitzgerald rest on the floor of the Great Lakes. This one, however, caught the imagination of Gordon Lightfoot and he wrote about it. And to this day, the ship's sinking has been a mystery that has received almost as much attention as the sinking of the Titanic.

They might have split up or they might have capsized
They may have broke deep and took water
And all that remains is the faces and the names
Of the wives and the sons and the daughters.

I don't know what any of this means. Some of my friends would say my hearing the song yesterday was merely a coincidence. Others of my friends -- okay, just one! -- would argue that the voices of the 29 sailors who died on the Edmund Fitzgerald are crying out to me.

Whatever the reason, this is my tribute the men who died on that ship 35 years ago.

In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed
In the Maritime Sailors' Cathedral
The church bell chimed, 'til it rang 29 times
For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

On Tuesday's Elections

"Release the Kraken!"


Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween 2010 Re-Cap

Another Halloween has past, so I guess it's time to get serious again as we look toward Thanksgiving and Christmas. But before we move on, here's a re-cap of last night's fun:


This was the first one of the afternoon. It's supposed to be Elmo.

I know. As my elementary school teachers often told me, "Not your best work!"

So I did another one.

I don't know who it is supposed to be. Sometimes the pumpkins just speak to me.

I think it was Michelangelo who said that his job as a sculptor was simply to release the beauty captured within the block of granite.

Or something like that.

Then we ordered a pizza, sat down to watch an "Addams Family" marathon, and waited for the children to come.

I'm thinking next year's Halloween costume might be Gomez Addams!

To go with the pizza, I opened a special bottle of wine I picked up in Atlanta just for this occasion. It's called "PoiZin" -- "a wine to die for!"

Overlooking the screw-cap, I think it was a pretty tasty Zinfandel. I should have bought more. It's not available in Tennessee... due to TN's oppressive wine laws.

But it is available on-line. But again, TN law forbids wine being shipped into the state.

Bottled by Armida Winery in Healdsburg, CA, they also sell a Pinot Grigio they call "Antidote" and an $80 version of PoiZin that comes with a wax seal and in a small wooden coffin.

Christmas present, anyone???

So, from about 7-9 p.m., we treated more than 125 children. Most got a foot-long Laffy Taffy, and small children were given gummy fruit snacks. Teenagers and those who didn't bother to put on a costume got Dum-Dums.

Dum-Dums also went to those who didn't bother to show up: "This bag's for my sister at home."

Yeah, right.

We were pleased to recognize some of the trick-or-treaters as children who came to this summer's Vacation Bible School and our Fall Carnival. And they recognized us too!


And a good time was had by all.

I love Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

In Memory

In Memory
James MacArthur
December 8, 1937 - October 28, 2010
Adopted as an infant by Charles MacArthur and Helen Hayes, James caught the acting bug early in life. According to Wikipedia (hey, for this kind of stuff, the Wiki is just fine!) his godmother was Lillian Gish, and frequent family guests included Robert Benchley, John Barrymore, John Steinbeck and Harpo Marx.

Does that explain the hairstyle?

MacArthur was best known as "Danno" on television's "Hawaii Five-O", but as with most successful actors, he had a career both before and after his 11 years as side-kick to the world's coolest cop.

Before "Five-O", he could be found in classic episodes of "Gunsmoke", "Hondo", "Tarzan" and "Bonanza".

After "Five-O", he could be found on "Hollywood Squares", "Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island".


News reports indicate he died at his home in Florida from "natural causes". I suspect the new "Hawaii 5-0" TV show was a contributing factor.

Rest in Peace, James MacArthur.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Family Wedding

We traveled to Paducah this weekend for the wedding of my oldest brother. It was a good weekend, if not unusual.

The wedding went off without a hitch smoothly, although the rehearsal went waaaaayyyyy too long! And I was concerned a couple times about what the preacher said in the ceremony. For instance, in the exchange of vows, he asked the bride to promise to "forsake all other men" and the groom to "forsake all other women".

Hey, preacher, this is 2010! Does that mean it's okay for the bride to run off with another woman? Or for the groom to run off with another dude?

I'm just sayin'...

And in the exchange of rings, as he tried to explain the significance of the rings, he said, "So, when you lose your wedding ring for the first time..."


But that's just small stuff. I've done 66 weddings in my career, so maybe I've got more experience.

Or I'm just being picky.


On to the party. The invitation announced that the reception would be a Halloween Party. Costumes were encouraged. And they meant it. This guy greeted guests at the entrance.

In case you are wondering, I went dressed as the brother of the groom. I know, "lame costume, dude!" But I figured the coat and tie was costume enough for one day!

But others took the invitation seriously. It was an interesting mix of knights and princesses and werewolves and kitty cats and even Scooby-doo!

I mention Scooby-doo only because she beat me in the Limbo contest.

But hey, she was 4 years old!

Here's a shot of the wedding cake.

And here's a close-up of that cake topper.

The groom's cake was shaped like a tombstone, engraved with the names of family members... "who said, 'Until death do us part' and kept the promise."

A good time was had by all -- perhaps with the exception of one Musketeer who fell on his sword -- and the next afternoon the Bride and Groom were off on their honeymoon.

And as we headed back home, we saw this:

Probably the brightest rainbow I have ever seen -- and this one's a double! -- suggesting that it's all good!

Or, after two months of drought, God isn't going to flood the earth with the light rain that was falling.

Either way, it was a good weekend!