Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Harrumph Day

It’s Wednesday. The sun is shining, the air is warm, and I’m sitting in my office trying to write a sermon for Sunday. You see, having worked all through the weekend last week, I convinced myself that I needed a day off – there were chores and errands and other tasks left undone by my constant busy-ness at the church. So I took off on Monday.

That lapse in judgment has, once again, come back to bite me. In addition to now being a day behind, I just took a phone call that’s going to eat up tomorrow afternoon – which means I will probably have to work through the weekend yet again!

So I’m taking a break right now and doing some “mental housekeeping”, because there are a number of things rattling around in my brain, wanting to come out, but not appropriate for a sermon.

Perfect for a rant on “Banana Winds” though!

First, the serious stuff – the ongoing public discussion of the Trayvon Martin killing. As you may know, Trayvon Martin was a young black man in Sanford, Florida, who was shot to death by Neighborhood Watch Captain George Zimmermann about a month ago. The story was slow to gain traction, but now the public is in a rage – and the media is feeding it – because it appears to some that the shooting was unjustified.

Originally, Zimmerman claimed he felt threatened – even though he himself was armed, was purposefully following the unarmed youth, and was told repeatedly by the 9-1-1 operator to stand down. By some perverted Florida law, feeling threatened, he was within his rights to shoot the boy.

Zimmermann is now claiming Trayvon attacked him first and the shooting was in self-defense.

The black community is outraged, calling it a racial attack. Some are asking why the white community is “silent”. Not to speak for every white person, but I have been silent because I don’t know what really happened. I will leave that judgment to the police and the courts.

Unfortunately, we will never know what really happened. Only two people know the truth – and one of them is dead.

I caught some crap from a church member this afternoon because I didn’t vote on Facebook to get the movie “Bully” to come to our local theater.

I think she was about to hit me!


According to the messages floating around FB, only the top 10 cities with the most votes will get the movie. One FBF (Facebook Friend) has posted that we almost have more votes than San Francisco!

I have no doubt the movie is good and a timely topic. It probably needs to be shown here. But here’s the thing:

First, I don’t do what Facebook tells me to do. Never have. Never will.

Second, the FB competition is just hype – free advertising for an independently-produced movie. I am pretty sure the film-makers didn’t make this movie just to be shown in a random 10 cities. The top 10 might get to see it “first”, but I’m pretty sure it will be released to a wider audience later, whether I vote or not.

There’s another competition on Facebook that really blows my mind. This one is being conducted by the United States Post Office. Taking a cue from college basketball, the USPS has declared “Stamp Madness”. Get it? "March Madness"? "Stamp Madness"? 


Setting up the traditional “brackets”, FB fans can vote on their favorite postage stamp.


In the “Final Four”, “Finding Nemo” (a cartoon movie about a clown fish searching for his family) narrowly beat out “Celebrate Scouting”, which will take the cartoon fish to the championship round against the winner of “the Cherry Blossom Centennial” vs. Danny Thomas (the founder of St. Jude Hospital, which is actively trying to eliminate childhood cancer and provides free treatment to cancer patients).


I haven’t had this much fun since I had my wisdom teeth out!

Wait a minute… that was fun. You see, they gave me two Halcion within an hour apart… but, that’s a story for another day!

When I woke up this morning and checked the “Huffington Post”, I found a disturbing story about the upcoming Summer Olympics. It seems that, out of respect for countries with more modest dress standards, the FIVB (the international organization which regulates Beach Volleyball) has announced that women may compete in the Summer Olympics wearing shorts and a t-shirt instead of the traditional bikinis that we’ve all come to know and love.

For those who live under a rock and have never seen beach volleyball, the women’s uniform consists of a bra-style top and bikini bottoms that can be no more than 6 millimeters wide at the hip.

[Captain's Note: The above photograph is displayed for demonstration purpose only. It in no way is meant to degrade women athletes, and does not represent the editorial policies of "Banana Winds"... much.]

My first thought was to blame the Muslims.

Why not. Everyone else does.

They’re probably trying to foist the “Burkini” on my favorite summer sport.

But wait! It wasn't the Muslims who complained, it was the Australians!

What is this world coming to, mate?

What's next? Foster's instead of Corona for the official beer sponsor?

Yes, the First Mate and I have had this discussion before.

Her – “Why do the guys get to play in baggy surfer shorts and a tank top while women have to wear the teeny bikinis?”

Me – “Because men rule the world.”

In a not-totally-unrelated article in HuffPo (because we are now too lazy to pronounce all four syllables), a teacher in Tallulah, Louisiana, was fired recently because “she failed to notice two third grade students allegedly having oral sex under a classroom table”.

[I put that in quotation marks so you would know I am not making this stuff up!]

No, I’m not ranting because the teacher got fired – how could you not notice that?

What I want to know is what two third graders know about oral sex!?!

When I was in third grade, I hardly knew the difference between boys and girls. And sex wasn’t even on the horizon for many more years!

But the article goes on to report that this is nothing compared to what happened in a public school in New York City: two kindergarteners stripped down and “were engaged in oral sex-like activities”!

The Captain is speechless!

Speaking of things that leave me speechless, I just finished reading Tucker Max's book, "I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell".

For his sake, I hope he's right!

After a little research on the internet, I discovered some interesting facts:
     1) Tucker calls his particular literary genre "Fratire". I'm guessing that, like "memoirs", these stories of fraternity-boy-type exploits might not be exactly true. (Well, Duhhh!)
     Clues that support my opinion:
          a) nobody can drink THAT much and still remember the details with which these stories are written.
          b) one blogger pointed out the technical inconsistencies of the misfiring pepper-spray can.
          c) he was working on a law degree at Duke during all this.
                    Okay, that last one might be possible!
     One touch of reality in the book:
          a) the constant presence of diahrrea, often associated with excessive drinking!
     2) For every story in his book, there is a blog or other website written by a pissed-off woman about whom he wrote, claiming to tell the "real" story.
     3) Tucker has stopped writing. Now 37 years old - and more mature (LOL!) - he realized he was just writing about what he "used to do". That's not cool.
     4) Tucker is now in psychotherapy. I'm guessing for alcoholism and anger issues toward women. One blogger said he blames it all on his parents.

Captain's Warning: I do not recommend this book to anyone - except perhaps other preachers who want to know what at least some 20-somethings are doing instead of attending church!

Monday, March 19, 2012


This weekend I happened to see a movie trailer for a revival of the classic TV series "Dark Shadows" (ABC-1966-1971). For a moment, my heart lept for joy.

Directed by Tim Burton ("Nightmare After Christmas"), starring Johnny Depp ("Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise), with Michelle Pfeiffer (I liked her in "Batman Returns").

It had to be good!

The day-time soap opera was revived once before as a night-time series (1991), but the Gulf War kept pre-empting the show and it was cancelled after one season.

Just as well. It wasn't very good.

Anyway, as the trailer for the 2012 movie reeled on, suddenly I realized this was not a revival of the classic series. Johnny Depp has taken this age-old legend and made it into a comedy!

The horrors!

this is not MY "Dark Shadows"! This looks more like "The Addams Family"!

And Depp looks more like "Nosferatu"!

The original "Dark Shadows" was part of my childhood. I remember, at four years old, lying on my grandmother's living room floor watching the campy soap opera on a small black-and-white television.

It was that same television, by the way, on which I first saw TV-weatherman Dave Brown hosting local studio wrestling... the forerunner of the World Wrestling Federation!

But I digress...

To be fair, the original "Dark Shadows" was such a bad soap opera that the writers decided to try the unthinkable to save its ratings. They introduced "ghosts" after the first six months, and a 200-year-old vampire, Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid), after the first year.

And it became a hit!

The show has always been a hit with me. And Barnabas Collins has always been my favorite vampire. I've always wanted a copy of the portrait of Barnabas hanging in the vestibule of Collinswood... or to recreate it myself... with the ring and the cane.

One time I found a reproduction of the cane - with the silver hound's head on the handle - but it cost too much.

I've never been to one of the "Dark Shadows" conventions - yes, these are still an annual event - but I was on the mailing list for a time.

If you search for the original episodes on YouTube, you'll find a lot of "blooper" reels. The show was filmed live and on a small budget. Supposedly set in an old coastal castle in Maine - "Collinswood" - viewers would often see boom mics drop down into the scene, the film crew dodging out of view, and "stone" walls shaking when doors were slammed. Jonathan Frid has told time and again that the "fangs" he was made to wear were uncomfortable and made it hard for him to speak clearly; so he often turned away from the camera and spit them out before delivering his lines.

But there was something about the show that was just downright creepy. The grainy black-and-white film, the eerie music, the period costumes...

One weekend, when the First Mate was out of town, I rented old episodes of the show and held my own mini-marathon. It was awful! But around 1 a.m. - having watched six or eight episodes - I realized I needed something from my office, which was just across the street from the house. At 26 years old, I found myself looking over my shoulder all the way there and back!

But now, Johnny Depp has sunk his teeth into the concept. And Collinswood will never be the same!


Depp is also working on his own version of "The Lone Ranger", in which he plays Tonto. I wonder if that will be a comedy too?

Yes, I will probably go see the new movie. But in my heart, there is only one "Dark Shadows".

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Whine! Whine! Whine!

In local news, it is being reported that the owners of two local wineries are trying to convince the County Commission to approve the sale of wine at their wineries on Sundays.

Before continuing, let me point out that we do not live in a great wine-producing region. Our climate is not conducive to the growing of grapes. In fact, one of these wineries is located "downtown".

The law they are challenging is the last vestige of the old “Blue Laws”, which used to restrict all business activities on the Lord’s Day.

Around these parts, the liquor sales portion of the law is the last to fall. We long ago stopped preventing merchants from opening stores on Sunday, “dry counties” are quickly becoming a thing of the past, and restaurants are now allowed to sell alcoholic beverages on Sundays.

But liquor stores are shuttered on Sundays, the beer section at Walmart is curtained on Sundays, and yes, wineries cannot sell their wares on Sundays.

The argument of the winery owners is that the weekends are their primary opportunities to sell wine to locals. They put on special events, tours, wine tastings, etc. to attract customers. But, as they rightly point out, since they cannot sell wine on Sundays, that cuts their business opportunities in half.

Supporters say they would "probably" stay on this side of the river on Sunday afternoons and visit the local wineries instead of traveling to the growing number of wineries in Southern illinois.

Captain's Note: I've been to the Southern Illinois wineries. All I can say is, if you go, don't forget...

Of course, the County Commission has already heard from the opposition. This same issue came up two years ago and was voted down then. Given the opportunity, some would roll back existing laws and shut down the local liquor stores and bars altogether.

The Bible does not take a definite stand on alcohol consumption. In Biblical times, people did not have the ability to stop the fermentation process in grapes. Making wine was the best – and only – method of preserving the juice of the grape. Thus, wine was a common beverage of the day.

We also know that, as products of their day, Jesus and the disciples also drank wine as a beverage. At the Last Supper, Jesus passed around a ritual cup of wine, from which they all drank. None ever said, "Demon alcohol has never touched my lips!"

And wine was also important for celebrations. At a wedding at Cana, Jesus enabled the party to continue by miraculously creating gallons of "good wine" after the guests had already consumed what was purchased for the wedding reception.

Where the Bible does speak against alcohol consumption, it refers to excess. As with anything – even water! – consuming too much can be harmful.

The “Blue Laws” enforced today are a relic of the past. Truth is, with modern transportation and refrigeration, it’s a dang fool who doesn’t buy enough beer to last the weekend. My wine rack is sufficiently stocked for at least two weeks of fine dining. But, should one run out, he can always get his fix by visiting a local restaurant on Sunday afternoon.

As a teenager, I would laugh at the next county over. It was “dry”… meaning liquor was not sold there. That doesn’t mean it was not consumed there however. There was a line of liquor stores on our side of the border just waiting for their business.

And they got it.

And every dry county has it's "private clubs" that are allowed to ignore the Blue Laws.

So, the only ones being hurt by the enforcement of “no liquor sales on Sunday” are the winery owners who, again, make most of their local sales on the weekends.

Would I vote in favor of loosening the law to allow the wineries to sell on Sundays?

Frankly, no. But not for the reason you might assume.

I have tasted their wines.

They shouldn’t be sold… any day of the week!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Paperback Novel

I read a lot.

Whenever I eat lunch by myself, I always take a novel along. Light reading. An escape from the pressures of my work. Turn off the brain and just let the imagination flow.

I used to be committed to paperbacks – a Purist - but recently I have been trying out reading books on my iPad. And, surprisingly, I like it!

But some day, I have decided, I am going to write a novel.

It doesn’t seem that difficult. Observe life around you. Create a parallel world with words. Action. Tension. Resolution. A little sex. A little violence. Quirky characters. I can do that.

So tonight, since the First Mate was off on an adventure of her own, I decided to head out to my new-favorite bar and… observe.

First, set the scene. The bar is… modern… minimalist… sparsely appointed. Okay, it’s a sushi bar. Not much to describe here.

At first, the bartender - a short leprechaun of a man - doesn’t recognize me. The weather has recently changed from cool to hot, so my wardrobe has suddenly changed from sweaters and turtlenecks to Hawaiian shirts.

But when I order the Southern Comfort on the Rocks, he knows me.

Apparently I am the only one in the quad-state area who drinks Southern Comfort.

“Just a minute. I’ll have to open a new bottle. The last one evaporated!”

Okay. Maybe I am stretching the truth.


If I am going to be a regular at this bar, I should probably learn the bartender’s name. Maybe I’ll just look at the check when it comes. I hope it’s something easy to remember, like “Tony”.

I look around the bar. A lone man sits across to my right. He sports a shiny bald head and an expensive suit, a starched white shirt and lime-colored tie. The appearance of affluence.

Great. He’s going to hit on me.

Okay, maybe not.

He’s obviously waiting for someone who is late arriving. He orders a martini… “extra dirty”.

What the hell does that mean?

Across the bar sits a plain-looking woman. She looks lonely. Don’t make eye contact.

The bald guy’s date shows up. She’s blonde, with a 90’s hairdo to make herself appear younger. But her skin gives her away. Neither is wearing a wedding band. He gives her a sideways hug. A first date? Blind date? Mail-order bride?

The chit-chat begins. She, talking non-stop to hide her nervousness. He, laughing awkwardly in a deeper-than-normal masculine tone.

The sushi and drinks are great, but there will probably not be a second date.

Across the bar, a new arrival. Another loner. She’s wearing the apron of another nearby restaurant. Off shift? Or just on a break and needs a glass of wine to continue the drudgery of serving the ungrateful local populace?

The bartender knows her. She’s apparently a regular. She probably knows his name, but never says it.

At the far corner, a scrubbed-face woman in an “Army” t-shirt shares a quick bite with her hubby, who is equally dressed-down. I look around. Although the atmosphere is up-scale – “Thai Cuisine” – several of the clientele are dressed down... T-shirts and ball caps. God, I hate this town!

The couple orders quick, eats quick, and are gone before I know it.

A new couple arrives, choosing the seats immediately to my right. I try to mind my own business. I don’t want to be drawn into an unwelcome conversation. I am just observing, not participating.

It appears to be another date.

He leaves to answer a cell phone call.


She knows the bartender, but never uses his name. She is there on a non-date. She was out with a friend when this guy shows up. The friend has to go home to feed her daughter, leaving the reluctant woman with the guy. They end up at the sushi bar. She orders a light beer instead of her usual, preparing for a long night.

He returns and orders a Woodford and water. She strikes up a conversation with the other couple. It’s not looking good. Then she leaves to take a call on her cell phone.

Actually, what he doesn't know, but we all realize later, is that she initiated this call. She called another friend to come bail her out of this awkward non-date.

While the reluctant date is outside, the guy and the bartender realize they had met the previous night at another bar. The bartender’s name is “Anthony”.

Bingo! "Tony"!

...but everyone calls him “Peanut”. Dammit.

The guy is on his second Woodford and water, and has left the bar a second time to take another cell phone call. The friend has arrived. Life is good now. The guy returns, but excuses himself to go to the Men’s Room. The bartender and the women take the opportunity to exchange notes.

As the guy returns, I look up from my book. He is a man-mountain: a head the size of a grape, but shoulders twice as wide as I am around. Giant arms filled out the sleeves of his 2X shirt.

I involuntarily slide over to give him more room.

He orders a third Woodford, and taps away on his phone, sending secret messages to someone far, far away. I can’t see what he is writing, but I’m guessing it went something like this: “This date blows! Not getting any tonight! I’ll stop by your place once I can ditch of “Miss Thang” and we can toss back some brewskis!”

I’ve seen enough for one night. “Check please… ‘Peanut’!”

Don’t look for that novel anytime soon. I’ve got a lot more research to do!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Bon Voyage!

It’s a sad day.

I just read in the news that the Pacific Princess – TV’s fabled “Love Boat” – has made its final voyage.

“The Love Boat” graced ABC’s weekly lineup from 1977-1986. Modeled after the already famous TV show “Love, American Style”, “The Love Boat” featured Gavin MacLeod as Captain Stubing. A boatload of has-been actors were entertained throughout their weekly romances and adventures by the ship’s corny crew.

The show brought a lot of new business to the cruise industry - mostly sad, lonely people looking for a little romance at sea... or a one-night stand! 

And you could say that the show launched my love for the sea. But the truth is, you couldn’t pay me enough to take a cruise!

And a lot of that reluctance comes from having watched the show!

The crew featured: Fred Grandy (“Gopher”), who later became real-life Congressman Grandy from Iowa; Ted Lange (“Isaac” the bartender), who now wishes there was a show like “The Love Boat” on which he could guest star; Lauren Tewes (cruise director “Julie McCoy”), whose career ended with a cocaine addiction; and Bernie Kopell (“Doc”), who had previously played KOAS mastermind, Sigfried, on “Get Smart”, but hasn’t done much since.

The passenger list included famous names like Eddie Albert, Steve Allen, Red Button, Morgan Fairchild, Buddy Hackett, Rosemary Clooney, the Hudson Brothers, Marion Ross, Andy Warhol (yes, really!), Van Johnson…

For how many of those did you just say, “Who?”

Most of them appeared soon after on an episode of "Fantasy Island".

And who can forget Charro, who graced "The Love Boat" in eight different episodes?

Frankly, the show was simultaneously American television at its best and at its worst.

The real Love Boat, officially christened the Pacific Princess, sailed for Princess Cruises from 1975-2002. Measuring 550 in length and weighing in at 19,903 tons, the ship of 626 passengers was long ago surpassed by modern cruise ships like the new Disney Fantasy, which is twice as long and holds four times as many passengers.

The Princess was moth-balled in 2008, sitting at dock in Italy waiting for her Prince to come along. He never showed up. She was recently purchased by a Turkish salvage company, never to sail again.

Alas and farewell, sweet Princess; we shall miss you.

But we’ll always have Puerto Vallarta.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Weekend Update

Okay, I know it’s only Thursday, but for most of us “preacher-types”, the weekend is Friday and Saturday.

As I write this, I am looking out my office window at a warm sunny day. Despite Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction earlier in the month, most of February has been “unseasonably warm” around here. We have basked in the glow of upper 60s and low 70s, causing the early-blooming flowers and trees to bloom even earlier!

It has also brought the early onset of the spring storms and tornados.

I am itching to put the top down on my new Jeep – remember, the 4WD I bought in October because we were predicted to have “one of the worst winters ever”? - but I know the wind is still out of the north. It wouldn’t be pleasant for very long.

And I am looking at rotating my closet, moving sweaters to the back and bringing out the Hawaiian-print shirts again. That, too, may be premature.

Because despite the sunshine around here, I keep see the news footage from other parts of the country: late-season snow storms from Seattle to New York. Five feet of snow in the High Sierras. A foot of snow in North & South Dakota. Possibly ten inches in northern New England.

This is West Virginia.

And then there are these photos from around the world:




Makes me shiver just thinking about how fortunate we have been so far!

I know winter’s not over yet. I’ve seen snow on Easter Sunday. But hey, a guy can dream…