Sunday, March 24, 2013


This is what the Republican Party says about itself. Minorities think that “Republicans do not like them or want them in the country unless it is to mow their yard”. Young people are “rolling their eyes at what the party represents, which is old people that never even heard of the Lumineers”.  Former Republicans report that they would not support the GOP Presidential candidate in 2016 “even if it was Jennifer Love Hewitt and she did the Harlem Shake buck naked at every campaign event”.

These quotes, more or less, came from the Republican National Committee’s report titled: It Can’t Get Any Worse (or was it Growth and Opportunity Project?) and basically it came to the conclusion that the problem with Republicans is that they are Republicans. It seemed to say:  If somehow, we could be as cool as the Democrats and that hip Harry Reid, we might-could-probably win an election one of these years-maybe.

Like all introspection, some of it was needed and some of it is just unnecessary self flagellation. True, Republicans have lost the popular vote in 5 of the last 6 elections. In ‘92  there were basically two Republicans on the ballot because Ross Perot decided he wanted to be on TV. Then in ’96, Republican candidate Bob Dole (Campaign slogan: “Vote For Bob Dole. He’s Tried Out The Blue Pill For You”) had to run against Bill Clinton (Campaign Slogan: “I. Have. Not. Had. Sex. With. Your. Wife. Yet.) and Ross Perot (again). In 2000, there was a rip-roaring economy that helped that sexy Al Gore. In 2008 you had an economic meltdown in the last quarter of the campaign that helped the already historic ticket of Barack Obama (first African-American) and Joe Biden (first Irish Tard). In 2012, Republicans thought that an “It’s The Economy, Stupid” theme would lead them to victory. Turns out single women were more worried about getting a frowny face from a Mormon than getting a job.

Even if it was not as bad as they think, some Republicans are convinced that they can win people over by changing their positions on things like Two Man Marriage and Hey People From Other Countries, Just Come On Over  Marriage Equality and Immigration Reform. It strikes me a little odd to have a ‘national conversation’ on emotional subjects and allow only one side to express their opinion and to deride the other opinion as “bigoted”.  But I fully expect Republicans to (generally) mimic the Democrats on these issues and they will look like your Dad when he wore a leisure suit with a tie in 1978.

I just do not believe the problems of the Republican Party are systemic. They got blown out in 1964 when Barry Goldwater ran on the slogan, “I Hate Everyone of You” and then won in 1968 after Lyndon Johnson mistook a landslide win as authorization to launch an unwinnable ground war  in Southeast Asia. They lost in ’76 (barely) to someone who had only two more years of experience as a governor than Sarah Palin but came back to win in ’80. 

Republicans need to remember that most Americans are not political junkies and what happens in 2016 may not resemble what happened in 2012. After 2004, a lot of people that John Edwards would be a serious candidate in 2008, but it turned out he was just a serious perv. Hilliary Clinton was supposed to win that year because it was “her turn” and she made news because she showed another human emotion besides psychotic laughter when she cried in public.

Americans will have two years of Obamacare under their belts by then and maybe they will want to throw it out. Maybe the economy will still be stagnant  and people will focus on economic issues instead of social issues.

My point is that you can’t out-Democrat a Democrat unless you to write another report four years from now.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Vast Wasteland

When television is good, nothing -- not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers -- nothing is better. But when television is bad, nothing is worse.  Newton Minow, 1961

The big news in television is that the mini-series, The Bible, based on “The B-I-B-L-E, yes, that’s the book for me” has been a ratings smash for The History Channel. Previously, the most popular show on The History Channel has been Pawn Stars, which  has a slight connection to history in that people bring in old stuff to a pawn shop and Rick (the owner) tries to explain it to his family which includes a grouchy old man (his Dad),  a tatted-up son, and a young man that looks like he was a child left behind. A typical Pawn Stars episode has someone bringing something really neat to the pawn shop, like the original copy of The Gettysburg Address. Rick turns and explains to his Dad that The Gettysburg Address was a famous speech given by Abraham Lincoln, who was the 16th President of The United States. Rick tells the customer that he can’t tell if it is the authentic copy of The Gettysburg Address so he calls in an expert. The expert comes to the shop and confirms that this is the long lost copy The Gettysburg Address and is worth millions of dollars. Rick offers the customer fifty dollars and mentions framing costs.

Part of the reason for the popularity of The Bible is that despite what you may have heard, there are a lot of Christians out there and they like The Bible. Another reason is that there’s not much to watch on television in general.

It seems like every other television show is a game show. However, unlike game shows of my youth like Match Game ’75 (Gene Rayburn holding a stick microphone. “Silly Sally was embarrassed because she blanked herself. Richard Dawson?") these shows are actual competitions and the contestants actually have to do something like sing (American Idol) or dance (Dancing With The Stars). But leave it to television to take a good idea and run it into the ground.  There’s a show out called Splash! and it features famous people jumping into a pool. One of these days, there will be a show  called Skip! and will feature famous people playing hop scotch.

There are tons of sports shows, many of which have little to do with the sports, but a lot to do with sports writers yelling at each other.  One show on ESPN had two well known sports writers debating if Lebron James should participate in the NBA Dunk Contest at the All-Star game. One sports writer took the Pro-Lebron Dunk side and the other sportswriter took the Anti-Lebron Dunk side. I thought they were going to punch either other over something that concerns one person: Lebron James.

My wife and I have been watching a show called The Following which stars Kevin Bacon as a former FBI agent with a pacemaker. I think the show would have been better if Bacon’s character was a former FBI agent with a pacemaker and a peg leg.  This show was filmed here in Georgia last year and I saw, and this is no lie, Kevin Bacon walking around Marietta. It was kind of strange. I saw this guy and I thought, “You know, I have this strange urge to cut loose, footloose, and kick off my Sunday shoes."

The Following has Kevin Bacon’s character trying to stop a charismatic English professor who just happens to be a serial killer from killing the love interest who was married to the English professor and had a fling with Kevin Bacon. This professor has a cult following that he turns into fellow serial killers too and together they have seminars about maximizing your serial killing. 

Of course,you cannot miss the commercials for the various prescription drugs  with the disclaimers that make you want to suck it up and just deal with your ailment yourself because the cure is worse that the disease. For example, let’s imagine that there is a prescription drug for adult acne. It would be like this.

Acneium: for adult acne. Side effects may include but are not limited to: hallucinations, leukemia, uncontrollable flatulence, stuttering, and a desire for peanut butter.  Do not take Acneium with alcohol. Do not drive heavy machinery or make important life decisions (including if you should give during your local PBS station’s pledge drive) while on Acneium. Do not stay in the same room as Acneium or even look at it.  A burning sensation with severe headaches, dizziness, and explosive diarrhea  accompanies each dose of Acneium. Some patients report that it makes their Acne worse.  Do not lend money to Acneium. Do not let small children or animals near Acneium. Acneium is not meant to be a breath mint. Do not iron clothes while talking Acneium. What were you thinking off when you asked your doctor for Acneium?

The Bible is popular because it is an oasis in the vast wasteland.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The History of The Eagles: A Review

Don't even try to understand, but if you lived through the 70’s like I did  there is no way to escape this fact: The Eagles (note: it is not really “The Eagles” it is just “Eagles”. However, for purposes of this post they will be referred to as The Eagles to keep me from going crazy) were as important as The Beatles.  For people of the late baby boomer generation,  Glenn Frey and Don Henley are our John and Paul. Except we probably didn’t know their names back then-I’m pretty sure I didn’t know Don Henley was in The Eagles until he sang “Dirty Laundry” in 1982.

The Eagles (left to right): The Take It To The Limit Guy, Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh, The Guy Frey and Henley hated.

There is a new documentary out on Showtime and will soon be on DVD. It is The History of The Eagles and it tells the story of the band and how they hated each other. The  history of the band is ironically full of tension and strive considering they were always telling us to “lighten up while you still can”.

The Eagles started out like most bands: watching Ed Sullivan. If you watch any rock documentaries at all, it seems everybody watched The Beatles on Ed Sullivan and then went out and started their own band. We didn’t in my house. I’m pretty sure my parents thought The Beatles were communists (with "that old long hair") and  Ed Sullivan was probably one too.  I remember watching Ed introduce a mouse puppet named Topo Gigio. This probably explains why I write humor blogs and I’m not in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

                                                                 Ed and Topo

Frey (from Detroit) and Henley (from Texas) somehow meet each other while standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona. Then a girl in a flat bed Ford stopped and asked them to join her band. That girl: Linda Ronstandt (she wasn’t just another woman). Soon, they found a place to make their stand and The Eagles were formed.

                    I spent most of the 70's drooling over this woman.

The early Eagles were Glenn Frey, Don Henley, the guy Frey/Henley hated, another guy who Frey/Henley hated, and the guy that sang “Take It to the Limit (he had always been a dreamer). They had some really big hits, like “Already Gone” which warned the children of the 70’s “that you’ll have to eat your lunch all by yourself”. They also recorded “Witchy Woman” and “One of These Nights”, which this reviewer hated.

Soon, one of the guys that Frey/Henley hated left the band which today is referred to by Rock historians as “One of the stupidest decisions ever made” because he was replaced by Joe Walsh. Walsh, who was already a big time Rock star at the time, was famous as being the only person ever totally stoned 24 hours, 7 days a week, 52 weeks out of a year.

With Walsh on board, The Eagles released “Hotel California”, which is probably their best album and the title a massive hit song that you have probably heard every day of your life since 1977.  The remaining guy  in the band that Frey/Henley hated (Don Felder) helped write the song, which still galls  them today that they have to share that money with this guy. Soon, the band, fueled by massive amounts of drugs (surprise, surprise) and ego (surprise, surprise) broke up after the album “The Long Run”.

Frey and Felder spent a great deal of benefit concert for the re-election of Alan Cranston yelling at each other because Felder said to Sen. Cranston after Cranston thanked him for coming, “You're welcome, I guess.”  This snarky remark has got to be one of the worst reasons to split up a band since Yoko Ono. Ten to one, Cranston didn't even hear it or understand it. Plus, you are going to gut a cash cow over a perceived slight to Alan Cranston?

This happened in 1980. For the rest of the 80’s, Frey and Henley kept cranking out the (solo) hits. The Eagles reunited in 1994. Frey/Henley finally fired Felder in 2001 and they spend a good deal of Part Two of the documentary explaining this guy is a total jerk because he wants as much money as Frey/Henley and he wasn't even on Miami Vice.

The History of The Eagles is an interesting documentary.  Warning: this is a lot of unpeaceful uneasy cuss words. A lot of talk about drug use.  There is what looks to be a home movie featuring full frontal hippie girl nudity and a couple of still photos of nude women on stage with the boys of summer.

It was interesting to see the shots of the crowds of the various live performances. The crowds back in ’77 seem so young. The ones in ’94  are not quite as young. The crowds in the recent concerts look like quite old. But they still dance to music. Some dance to remember.  Some dance to forget.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Calvin & Joe

As some of you may know, I spent two years of my life in the garden spot of the South, Pineville, Louisiana.  I attended Louisiana College and met some great people that still respond to my e-mails and Facebook postings. My roommate there was the great Bill Wade. In fact, Bill and I still talk about “LC”. The following is almost an exact transcript of a conversation we've had                                    

Bill:I met this guy, Landry Beaux Beaudreaux. He said he was at LC when we were.”

Me: “He was our next door neighbor."

                                              The Great Bill Wade   

While Bill has moved on with his life, I still keep up with my other Alma Mater. They now have a pretty good NCAA D-3 football team. Both Dad George Bush and Barbara Bush have spoken there.  However, there is a fly in the gumbo. Apparently, there are “Calvinists” on the faculty and they are trying to Calvinize the students, I guess.

For those of you (pagans) that don’t know what Calvinism is, I will give you the short version. Calvinism is a major branch of Christianity that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christian practice of John Calvin. Evidently, tulips are involved.
“TULIP” is the acronym that helps everyone remember what Calvinism is about, just in case there is a test. T  is for total depravity. (Think of a fraternity at Georgia Southern University). U is for unconditional election. L is for limited atonement. I is for irresistible grace. P  is for perseverance of the Saints.  This helps me to remember that when anybody wants to discuss Calvinism, I am predestined to have a headache.

[By the way, how many humor blogs do you know of that would cut and paste the explanation of TULIP from Wikipedia would use Calvinism as a topic? Top that, Dave Barry!]

Anyway, the President of Louisiana College, Dr. Joe Aguillard has sacked three professors who are “Calvinists” and considers Calvinism a threat to the College’s identity. He places it with: having a heart attack, open heart surgery, cardiac rehab, Obamacare forcing faith based employers to pay for abortifacient drugs, cultural attacks, economic woes, and being sued by several former professors as one of the challenges of the past year. I tend to see having open heart surgery as more of a challenge than Calvinism, but maybe I'm naive.  Exactly why it is a threat and what it would mean to the College’s identity, he doesn’t say. He refers to a couple of sermons by the late Dr. Adrian Rogers and calls it “the certain sound” and that it continues to be his position.  He says, “My love for all Baptists including Calvinists, does not constitute our approval of its being advocated at Louisiana College”.

Of course, eating worms, twice, in two separate chapel services does nothing but enhance the College’s identity.  Or the various infrastructure issues around the school, including a dilapidated roof of the girls’ dorm that had a hole. (It has recently been repaired) There’s nothing that sells a college like that!  How about being placed on warning by SACS a mere 8 years after you got off of probation from SACS? That’s a school people dream of sending their kids. “Sure, I know she could have gone to Harvard, but LC has that worm eatin' President. Maybe they’ll get their accreditation yanked. That would be great.


            These two issues have been repaired. But still.....

Like a lot of small colleges, Louisiana College has many intense intramural battles over the direction of the school. The college business game is very competitive and small colleges struggle to find a niche.  The problem comes when they forget who they are supposed to serve. When that happens, they are predestined to fail.