Monday, December 29, 2014

2014: #It Could Have Been Worse



What can you say about the year of our Lord 2014?

The year started off with a "Polar Vortex" which means "cold weather" which apparently happens in "the winter". This cold weather led to a Snowpocalypse Event in the Atlanta area and caused the mother of all traffic jams. There are some people still in this traffic jam.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Gov. Nathan Deal

Your humble correspondent's commute from work, which is usually 20 minutes, took 9 hours. The need for voiding his bladder began 8 and half hours into this commute. When he finally made it home, he went to see the most important person in his life:  his toilet.

What the Polar Vortex proved was this: if ISIS ever gets an ice making machine, the Atlanta area is screwed.

Speaking of ISIS,  I don't ever remember hearing about this group of thugs in 2013. They spent much of 2014 cutting off people's heads which caused the Obama administration to leap into action after they read about it in the papers.

In 2014, we did hear a lot about people who are a definite threat to freedom: Florists who refuse business to Gay Weddings.  We also heard a lot about the Kardashians, who, in case you do not know, have big rear ends. Their step dad, Olympic great Bruce Jenner, is divorcing their mom and trying to become an ugly old woman.

Gold Medal Winner in Weirdness


In 2014, many famous people won awards but I can't remember who they were. I went to one movie at the theater this year: The Penguins of Madagascar. The only new song I remember liking the first time I heard it was "Sweet Amarillo" by Old Crow Medicine Show. The song was taken from a Bob Dylan outtake 42 years ago.


"Sweet Amarillo, tears on my pillow". You have to be genius to come up with that


In 2014, I was very glad that I did not have a four year old girl or I would have watched Frozen a lot.

I am so glad I've never seen this

In 2014, The Republicans won the Senate, kept control of the House and won a majority of the statehouses. The President responded by basically flipping a bird and granting Amnesty to people who knowingly broke the law and/or don't even care that there is a law.  The basic rationale is: There are so many people "living in the shadows" (really?) that we just might as well make them legal to show them that we are not racists.

In 2014, the 2016 Presidential race became clearer when Jeb (Not Another) Bush has declared that he might/maybe/probably will run for the Republican nomination, if he feels okay about it. Right now he is leading in the polls, although polls right now should be called "Hey, have you heard of this guy?"

Look, sure we're brothers, but it is not like I see him that much

In 2014, Hillary Clinton became a grandmother and also wrote a book that nobody wanted to read.

Speaking of Frozen


In Sports, The Seattle Seahawks won The Super Bowl. Derek Jeter retired from The Yankees. The 2013 Heisman Trophy winner shoplifted some lobsters. Lebron James decided to move back to Cleveland, which has to be a first. Donald Sterling got into trouble for talking nasty to his hoochie girl.

The big medical news in 2014 was Ebola, which is either very, very very, very, very, very, very serious or nothing to worry about.

Two planes disappeared this year. Justin Bieber is still making news. An intruder runs across The White House front lawn and manages to get inside. The TV show "24" was shown in 13 hours.

In "They Mean Well" news, people in 2014 poured buckets of ice water on their heads in order to challenge other people to do the same OR to contribute to a charity to fight ALS.  How exactly this was suppose to cure ALS was not really explained, but hey, it is the thought that counts.

People went Hashtag crazy in 2014. In the old days (2007) the Hashtag (#) was called "the pound sign". Now all of us old people are going Hashtag crazy. Particularly on Facebook where a friend will post a picture of a yacht they just bought and post "The Lord provided us with the means to buy this luxurious yacht and we are going to sail around world making Jesus famous. #blessed". What this post really means is "God likes me better than you because I'm cool. #noteverybodycanbechosen"

In personal news, 2014 saw the son move back home, get a job, and become engaged. He is also buying his own gas and paying off his student loan, which means we must have done something right. #Blessed.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

An Inconvenient Christmas


I can honestly say I have had some awful jobs in my life.

I had a temp job once. For an entire week, my job was to put twist ties in boxes of plastic garbage bags.  It is not as exciting as it sounds.

I was also a high school substitute teacher. Now that is a terrible job.


One, the teachers don't really have anything to do with you except when they need someone to babysit  substitute. Two, the kids think it is party time.

One time I was substituting in a class and I heard a girl exclaim, "EW GROSS!" A young man then raised his hand and said, "Mr. Manis, do you know what (the technical term for a particular sexual act which I am too chicken to write) is?"

For once, I said the right thing.  I said, "Yes, I know what it is, but it would be better for you to discuss this with your parents."  I should have been put into the Substitute Teachers Hall of Fame right then and there.

The last time I ever substituted, it was the last day for Seniors to attend class. I was subbing in a home room of Seniors, that were SO READY TO GET OUT OF HERE, MAN. One guy, in fact said that: "Man, I am so ready to get out of here."   I said something deep like, "Yeah".  He continued, "I failed four times".  I asked, "How old are you?"   He said, "Twenty-two".  I was twenty four.

The worst job I ever had was working in a convenience store at Christmas time. A lot of people in retail complain about working at Christmas time. I can assure you that working at Christmas time in a convenience store, particularly in a small town, is truly the pits.

One year, I drew the short straw and had to work the worst shift in the invention of work. The graveyard shift. 11:00pm Christmas Eve to 7:00am Christmas Day.

This is the shift that gets the REALLY last minute shoppers. Also, and this may come as a surprise, but  there are many who celebrate the birth of our Lord by getting drunk.

Around midnight,  a guy came in who was already three sheets in the wind. He placed his beer, (like he needed it) near the cash registrar, and began telling me and everyone who happened to be in the store, a long story, in graphic detail, about his love life. He was a local and his wife worked at the bank where I had an account and I saw her every Friday when I deposited my check   I could never look at the lady again.

At around 1:30, all of the customers were gone, except for one guy.  He was at the magazine rack

This little store did not sell magazines. It sold pornography. Some of the filthiest, nastiest publications ever printed. Playboy was probably the cleanest magazine we sold, aside from The Auto Trader. I can't remember all of the titles of the magazines, but one was called Boobs and Buns. It was a boutique publication for a niche audience. 

So there I was, at 1:30 on Christmas morning with a person with some obvious spiritual/psychological problems when this older man walked in.

You know the type of old man that thinks you need to hear what ever floats into his brain? Yup, that was this old guy. What he was doing out at 1:30 on a Christmas morning, I have no idea, although I have a strange feeling alcohol was somehow involved.

This guy talked and talked and talked. None of it raised above the level of inane. Soon, he showed me what he got for Christmas. It was a carton of cigarettes still wrapped in the Christmas wrapping paper. There was a problem. It wasn't his brand. He asked if he could exchange it.  I did, hoping/praying that he would go away. He did.

I looked at the clock. It was 3:30 in the morning. The guy was still at the magazine rack. He looked at his watch, said, "Oh", put down his porn and walked out the door. Time flies when you are looking at porn.

I thought about what a sorry Christmas I was having. Everybody else was asleep in their beds while I was with these two losers. Then I remembered why we were having a Christmas in the first place.







 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The World Premier of A New Christmas Song



Today's focus is on Christmas music. There are two types of Christmas music: The sacred and the secular.

Sacred Christmas music is what is sung in churches and is usually about the actual birth of Christ. However, some songs are kind of strange, like "Good King Wenceslas", which is not about Christ per se, but it does show a Good King motivated by his faith to help those less fortunate than himself on The Feast of Stephen, which we didn't celebrate in our house.





It is usually hard to mess up a Sacred Christmas song. Even Bob Dylan did okay on "The Little Drummer Boy".

I know, I know. There are two types of people in the world: People who think Bob Dylan is the greatest living songwriter/musician and those people who are not clinically insane.




Secular Christmas music is a mess, in my opinion.

In the past, I have criticized the secular Christmas songs because they usually fall into two categories: 1) Made up crap about Santa  or 2) Let's use Christmas to beg for sex.

I'm not against people having sex. I'm definitely pro-sex, ask my wife (especially on my birthday, yeah come on). But, it seems like there are a lot of songs that are begging people to have sex, or as we said in the 70's: "do it".

Like "Winter Wonderland". Honestly, find one mention of Christmas in that song. It doesn't even mention the month of December. "Winter Wonderland" could take place in Minneapolis in February for all we know.

Then there is all of that "conspire" by the fire nonsense.

I went to Wheeler High School in the mid-70's. The boys of Wheeler knew which girls would "conspire" and which girls would not "conspire".  It was a topic of constant conversation in December.

Friend: "Dude, I went to Janie's house and we conspired by the fire. Dude."

Me:  "Dude. How was it? Dude."

Friend: "Dude. It was awesome. Merry and bright. Dude."

Me: "Dude."


The Boys of Wheeler, 1975 (as we saw ourselves)

As the conversation shows, we knew what was going on in that Christmas song. By the way, what really happened most of the time was instead of actual 70's teenage sex, it was the guy and girl watching The Six Million Dollar Man with her parents.

But I'm not the kind of guy to just criticize. Nope, I'm going to try to come up with a solution. Particularly a solution that could make me a lot of money. So I decided to write my very own secular Christmas song.

This is problematic. For one, I have the musical ability of a cocker spaniel. Secondly, I couldn't think up any new crap about Santa Claus. He lives on Santa Claus Lane and he's coming to town. He sees you when you are sleeping and knows if your awake. He's our personal NSA.

I decided to write a country Secular Christmas song. I can just imagine Merle Haggard or Kenny Chesney singing this. (But not Florida-Georgia Line. I have my standards.) I have come up with the lyrics and I'm asking those of you out there in blog land to come up with the music. It is called I Didn't Get What I Wanted For Christmas.


I didn’t get what I wanted for Christmas,
Just a sorry silent night.
My comfort and joy
Ran off with the little drummer boy.
Santa, that just ain’t right.

I’ve been a good boy all year
You can tell by the presents I gave.
It just don’t make no sense:
I gave her gold, myrrh and frankincense
And I got Old Spice aftershave.

I didn’t get what I wanted for Christmas,
Just some sorry silver bells.
Frosty and Rudolph,
Said they’re taking the season off
And Santa might as well.

I’d wish me a Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year.
But my stocking's got a lump of coal
And it is too warm for snow
And I drunk up all of my holiday cheer.

I didn’t get what I wanted for Christmas
Just a sorry silent night.
O little town of Bethlehem,
What is wrong with them?
Santa, it just ain’t right.


I know that brought a tear to your eye. Now if you can write some music to it, maybe it can bring a dollar to both of our pockets. Dude.




Sunday, November 23, 2014

Whooooooo Named The Owls?


By this time next year, my beloved Alma Mater, Kennesaw State University (Motto: "Down The Street From The Cracker Barrel") will have completed their first full season of collegiate football. A lot of people think a college is defined by high academic standards. This is nonsense. A college is defined by: 1) Having a football team and 2) If the football team is any good.  

It is basic good old fashion common sense. Nobody wears a t-shirt bragging about a college's English department.

One question that has dogged historians through the ages regarding Kennesaw State athletics is this: Why are they called "The Owls"? The answer should be obvious: all of the cool nicknames were taken (like Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets).  However, using my crack BA in History skills I learned at Kennesaw State (I will always remember my graduation day. "Here's your degree, Mr. Manis, now wipe off that table, we are expecting a party of five.")  I am going to reveal not only the circumstances but also the person who named The Kennesaw State Owls.

It was Dan Jones.

I know a lot of you are thinking: "Who?", but if I said, "Danny Jones"  a lot of you would still say "Who?" but a lot of you would say "Oh yeah, Danny Jones".

Danny is a guy I've known almost as long as I've known my wife which is saying something. He was in my third grade class at East Valley Elementary School and his dad was the first football head coach of The Wheeler Wildcats. Danny is truly a scholar, gentleman, myth and legend. He is also the only eight year old I've ever seen that could play the ukelele.

Danny is also important because he can verify the existence of a girl named Vicki Hill. Vicki was a girl I knew who I casually suggested to my wife that we name our baby after. As you might expect, that suggestion was not greeted with much enthusiasm. To quote my beloved, "I am NOT going to name MY BABY after some girl YOU had the HOTS  for."  Fortunately, we had a son.

Somewhere in the 70's, I heard Danny say that he named the Kennesaw Owls. Why that stuck in my head instead of the millions of hours of education instruction I've received is a mystery and probably one of the reasons I'm not stinking rich. So on the eve on Kennesaw State's inaugural  season, I decided to reach out to Danny via Facebook

Danny confirmed what I remembered. He says, "My Mom was (the) Exec Sec (Executive Secretary) for the first President of Kennesaw State. She came home one day and asked me to look through my coloring books and see if there was a good "animal" in there for the school to use. (I guess they weren't putting a whole lot of time in on this task. "Ask your kid. Let him decide." Now there's a high priority for you.) By the way, I was still at an appropriate age to have coloring books. 13, 14... something like that. I thumbed through a favorite book and, well, dang, there was an owl, with one of those "professor hats" on. How about this, Mom? I am pretty sure they used the picture out of the coloring book for a good while."

Danny concludes by saying "(Disclaimer: I could be wrong about all of this. It is simply a story that is told around the family fire each Christmas, handed down from generation to generation.)"  

This historian believes this story.  Danny's mom did work for President Sturgis (the first President of Kennesaw State), who was the type of guy, from my limited exposure to him, that would ask an eight year old to name a college mascot. Danny knew Vicki Hill. Danny played a pretty mean ukelele for a third grader. What more evidence do you need?

 




Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Y'alls Of Attraction


Wikipedia describes Kim Kardashian as "an American television and social media personality, socialite, fashion designer, businesswoman, model, and actress". You might describe her using other words, like "ditz".


This was the only picture on the internet where she is wearing clothes

Ms. Kardashian, who is married to Rap Singer/Brain Surgeon Kayne West, has recently "broken" the internet by, now get this, posing nude in a couple of photographs. Imagine: nude women on the internet; who would have thought it?

Before you ask, the answer is yes. Purely in the interest of journalism, I have seen these two pictures. Verdict: It is not as hideous as John and Yoko Ono Lennon's  pictures from 45 years ago. You see both sides of Kim, if you catch my drift. One photo emphasizes her rather large behind. It is truly a Gluteus Maximus.  The second picture proves Kardashian has a rather skilled surgeon.

I guess it is because I am old or getting there, that I don't find Kardashian all that interesting. But some folks think she hung the moon (no pun intended).

I have always wondered what makes some people "hot" and others not.

Years ago, when my son was in middle school, we went to a party for other middle school students. The dads stayed in one room of the house, discussing all of the important topics, like rec league baseball and if that guy that was a jerk the year before (and the year before that and the year before) was going to be a jerk this year. (Answer: Of course.)

Meanwhile, the moms retired to another room and discussed another topic: Which movie star do you find sexy?

Now one thing you have to know about the moms: they are all "y'all girls". A "Y'all Girl" is a female indigenous to the South that use the word "Y'all" as part of Southern Female Parliamentary Procedure to indicate that they have the floor in the conversation. Generally it goes like this:  (First Female) "Y'all I just bought the cutest dress at Wal-Mart." (Second female) "Y'all I hate goin' to Wal-Mart." (Third Female) "Y'all. I met my third ex-husband at Wal-Mart" and so on for about two hours.

The first mom, who in the interest of privacy I'll call Susan, said "Y'all, I think Kurt Russell is sexy." The second mom, who just to pick a name out of the sky I'll call Kelly, said, "Y'all, I just love Val Kilmer" (like I said this was years ago).

A third mom said, "Y'all, you know who is really sexy? Bobby Murphy".  Bobby was this mom's husband. I wished the first two moms had said, "Y'all I want to change my vote to Bobby Murphy" because that would have been funny.  The fourth mom, who I'll call Lori because she is the love of my life said, "Y'all I think Johnny Depp is sexy". 

Johnny Depp.

My wife would never let my hair do this




I have known my wife since 1967 and had been married to her since 1986 and I never heard her say one word, pro or anti-sexy about Johnny Depp. I have heard her opinions on just about everyone else, including the artist that is currently known as Prince ("He looks like he smells") When I questioned her about it she said, "Now don't be jealous of Johnny Depp".

I am not jealous of  Johnny Depp. True, I'm jealous of his money and that someone from Kentucky can waltz around like he was raised on Champs Elysees, but other than that I have no real big beef with Johnny Depp.

I just don't see him as very sexy. I can understand Kurt Russell. I mean, he was the computer who wore tennis shoe and Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, probably one of the most under-rated movies of all time. Val Kilmer was Batman and in Top Gun, too, so I can understand that even though he has kind of gone to seed. Even Bobby Murphy (who, in the interest of complete disclosure, I have shared a bed with. Long story.)

I guess I can see, particularly after I've seen the pictures, how someone can think Kim Kardashian is sexy if you are into nekkid surgically altered dimwits.

For the record, Lori has informed me that she no longer finds Johnny Depp sexy.  I'm afraid to ask about Bobby Murphy.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

"We're Just Not That Into You, Mr. President"


Speaking for all Georgians, I know I can say nobody was looking forward to another month and a half of attack campaign ads.



Except for me, of course. I already had another Humor Me attack ad parody in the can.

(Black and White picture of David Perdue.) Deep voice over narrator: "David Perdue. Just the name makes my skin crawl. David Perdue. You make me sick". Slightly higher voice over narrator: "Paid for by People Who David Perdue Makes Sick."

(Black and White picture of Michelle Nunn) Deep voice over narrator. "Michelle Nunn. You tramp." Slightly higher voice narrator: "Paid for by The Committee That Think Michelle Nunn is a Tramp".

But all that is over now, Baby Blue. Mercifully, Georgians decided not to drag the election out any further and elected David Perdue.

Despite what everyone in the media has said, I thought Michelle Nunn was a horrible candidate. Nothing about her said GEORGIA except her maiden name, which she conveniently decided to use. She didn't have an accent. She was only shown in blue jeans once. She looked like a librarian walking over to shush you. All Perdue had to do to win was tie Nunn to President Obama, which he was happy to do. Turns out all the Republicans had to do was this: tie Democrats to a President that is as popular as month old bread.

With just a few exceptions, voters around the country went with the Rs instead of the Ds.  Even Maryland, who has had only two Republican governors in 50 years (one of them being Spiro Agnew) elected a Republican Governor.  It was just a good night to be a Republican.  It was a not so good night for Democrats.

There were many reasons. One is historical, usually by the sixth year of a Presidential term, voters grow weary of the President and his party. 1938, 1958, 1974, 1986, 2006 all bear this out. However, the main reason is this: Barack Obama.

The President is just no longer with it, hip, cool, or groovy. He's a flip phone in a world of iPhones. He's as fashionable as a Nehru jacket.

Last week,  Organizing For America started a cutting edge trending topic on Twitter: #Yeswedid. It was tweets full of charts and twitter jargon to share with those blockheads (clinging to their guns and Bibles) who just don't realize due to their own racism, lack of intelligence, homophobia (pick one or all) that the President has done this great job.  I'm sorry, #Yeswedid was just so 2009.

No honest person blames Barack Obama for The Great Recession. However, honest people can disagree about the recovery. You may say the economy is great. I can say it hasn't been anything but lame. You can show me a chart. I can show you my bank book. I think Tuesday shows most of America agrees with me. And, that doesn't make me or America racist, stupid, or homophobic.

While we are at it, can we officially declare "The War on Women" over?

Of course, the press wanted to hear from the President that he and his party got stomped and stomped good. They wanted to hear some vestiges of humility from President Obama which is like trying hear some vestiges of honesty from Richard Nixon. You would think somebody who started 2003 in the Illinois legislature and began 2009 in The White House would be smart enough to at least feign he was humbled by the results.

That is not our President. He basically gave the country the middle finger and pretended that the election didn't matter and this election didn't "have consequences". He announced he was going to circumvent Congress by giving defacto amnesty to illegal aliens. That might have worked in 2011, but it is not going to work in 2015.

For a guy that claims to love Bob Dylan so much, he seems to have missed the lyrics to one of Dylan's famous songs, The Times They Are A-Changin'.  Dylan says, "You better start swimming or you'll sink like a stone".  The Bard of Hibbing was saying you have to adapt in the world. The Democrats have been crowing about that for a couple of years saying that Republicans need to get on the right side of history and change with the times.

As someone else would have sang, "Isn't it ironic?" that the Democrats didn't adapt to 2014 because they still thought it was 2012.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

One In The Spirit


Today's topic is Baptists versus Catholics, but first, a little personal historical perspective.

As everyone knows, I was born on the second floor of Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, Georgia in 1959. In 1959, Marietta was considered a far out exurb of Atlanta. By 1972, that began to change and change fast. Marietta became one of the fastest growing suburbs of Atlanta. Ground zero for this growth was the area I lived in known as East Cobb.

Before 1972, the people that moved to East Cobb were mainly from the Midwest. The differences between someone from the  Midwest and someone from the South are slight. We say "y'all" and they say "you guys". For some reason, all of the Ohioans I met pronounced "Wash" as "Wersh". They drive better in the snow than we do.

However, in 1972, the people that began moving to East Cobb were from the Northeast. The real Yankees. The people that were not the typical Southern mutt mixture of Scotch-Irish. The folks were of a definite ethnicity: primarily Italian.

I was in eighth grade when a girl named Lynn was brought to a class I was in. The teacher stumbled over her name (which ended in a vowel). Lynn corrected her and she had a heavy Boston- Pahk the cah(r) in Hahvuhd Yahd-accent. I remember looking at her thinking "I've heard about these people but I've never seen one before".

One thing all of these people had in common was that they were all Catholics. Before then I had known maybe three Catholics. Now they were everywhere. My brother told me that Catholics came in Masses and I believed him.

Now let's explore some of the differences between Catholics and my denomination, The Southern Baptist Convention.

Title of  Clergy

Catholics: "Father"

Baptists: "Brother (first name)" or "Brother (last name)" or "Dr" if they somehow got a doctorate from an accredited seminary or if  the seminary sounds accredited.


Baptism 

Catholics: Sprinkling babies

Baptists: Dunking kindergartners and then redunking them in high school after they have their first beer.


Dancing 

Catholics:  It is okay to dance as long you leave room for The Holy Spirit.

Baptists: Dancing leads to sex, even with married couples, and therefore, should be avoided. (However, I will say every Southern Baptist girl I knew when I was young could really boogie.)


Social Drinking

Catholics: Yes, please.

Older Baptists: NO! NO! NO! NOT UNLESS YOU WANT TO SPEND ETERNITY WITH LUCIFER AND SOME OF HIS LESSER KNOWN IMPS

Not As Old Baptists: It is okay unless you cause your brother to stumble and you wouldn't want that on your conscience now would we?

Young Baptists: Yes, please.


Of course there are many other doctrinal differences that I'm in no way qualified to discuss. However, there is one area of agreement: There is a God who loves us and sent his Son to die for us. God is interested in us and doesn't abandon us even though there are times when it seems he does.

Once during the initial stages of my wife's breast cancer journey, I was driving home in the typical Georgia December rain and I thought about 1 Corinthians 13: 12.  "For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."  I burst into tears, which I never do. My brother had died seven months before and there I was facing the possibility that something bad could happen to my wife. But that verse gave me comfort because  "I am fully known" by the creator of the universe.

I have a friend that was a part of the Great Northern Migration to East Cobb. She said that a boy came up to her at school and said she was a Yankee that was going to Hell because she was a Catholic. His grandmother told him.  My grandmother never told me any such a thing and neither did my mother or father.

This friend has helped me pray my son into his first job and I've prayed for her daughter to escape a corporate downsizing, which she did. My friend lights a candle. I mention it during prayer and praise in Sunday School. God listens and he doesn't mind that we don't go to the same church.






Sunday, October 19, 2014

Unbelievable


It’s unbelievable, it’s strange but true
It’s inconceivable it could happen to you
You go north and you go south
Just like bait in the fish’s mouth
You must be livin’ in the shadow of some kind of evil star
It’s unbelievable it would get this far  ~ Bob Dylan




Okay, I know that only one person in the United States has died from Ebola. But a month ago that number was zero.


President Obama, yesterday, warned against "hysteria". As if you are wrong to be just a little bit worried about a disease that kills almost 70% of the people it infects. This from the same administration that is having a literal cow about what high schoolers eat. Joe Scarborough tweeted out: "It would be eas­ier to trust ap­peals for calm if of­fi­cials didn't act as if it is ab­surd to fear a pathogen that liq­ue­fies or­gans."

True, more people have died from obesity than Ebola in the United States. But they don't wash an airplane down with Clorox multiple times when a passenger brings on a donut.

Peggy Noonan, as usual, describes it perfectly. "Again, the public isn’t hysterical but concerned. One reason is that they have witnessed a series of bad decisions by the government and its institutions. Another is that they know there’s no one to trust in this crisis, no official person who is in charge and seems equal to the task."

Does anyone seriously trust President Obama in this situation?  Honestly. What in his background, his demeanor or previous performance  would lead one to believe he has any clue on how to handle this?

I know where this will go. Any time you criticize President Obama you hear a myriad of responses, the nicest being the accusation of rank partisanship. Am I saying Bush or McCain or Romney would have done better? No, I have no idea how they would have responded. I do have a feeling that they wouldn't have appointed Ron Klain as the "Ebola Czar".  Klain's main qualifications for the job appears to be that Obama knows him and Kevin Spacey played him in a movie.

Klain may be a brilliant move. He might whip everyone into shape and calm everyone's nerves. Maybe. I'm just saying that there was nobody in this country who said, "Whew! Thank God Ron Klain is in charge!"

Again, there are pros and cons to every issue, but really, what is the objection of a travel ban from the effected West African countries? The President said, "Trying to seal off an entire region of the world—if that were even possible—could actually make the situation worse.” He doesn't say how banning travel from a country that is spreading a pathogen that liquefies organs is "sealing it off" or how it would make the situation worse.

I will translate what the President said. He is actually  saying "You are being stupid. Shut up and let us smart people handle this. Geez. I gave up a fund raising trip for this?"

Some critics of the travel ban say it wouldn't work 100% so why do it any way.  Well, we know what doesn't work. What doesn't work is what we have now. Noonan says, "The burden is on those who oppose a ban to make a hard, factual, coherent and concrete case. It is telling that so far they have not been able to."

Part of the problem with the Obama Presidency is that the Big Media-The New York Times, Washington Post, etc-has always treated it as it was special, and that's never good for an administration or a country. Even today, they still treat him like a rock star. The Times sometimes acts likes stenographers for The White House instead of  the Fourth Estate.

However, Frank Bruni of The New York Times, who is never on a Fox News panel says this: "Ebola is his presidency in a petri dish. It’s an example already of his tendency to talk too loosely at the outset of things, so that his words come back to haunt him. There was the doctor you could keep under his health plan until, well, you couldn’t. There was the red line for Syria that he didn’t have to draw and later erased."

Bruni continues, "Still, he has to make Americans feel that he understands their alarm, no matter how irrational he deems it, and that they’re being leveled with, not talked down to, not handled. And he has a ways to go."

It is unbelievable that after six years, he still has a ways to go.


 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Click (Part II)


Note: This is what you are seeing on television if you live in the State of Georgia.


"I'm Nathan Deal and I approved this message:  (voice over) The State of Georgia is number one in all of the areas that's worth being number one in. Football. Women. Songs About Pickup Trucks. Nathan Deal promises to continue all of this great work as long as it doesn't snow. Vote for Nathan Deal. As long as it don't snow, we're good to go."


**click**

Commercial opens with Jason Carter sitting at a table. " Y'all, I know I got this famous last name  but I don't even like peanuts. Anyhoo, the middle class doesn't have a say at all in this state and I have a plan to let the middle class have a say. I want to improve education. I mean, it can't get any worse. We've got to hire more teachers so they can post vacation pictures of their feet at the beach on Facebook".





**click**

"I'm David Perdue and I approved this message:  (voice over) OBAMA! MICHELLE NUNN! LOVERS! FOR  REAL! WHAT WOULD MICHELLE NUNN DO IF THE PRESIDENT WANTS TO PLANT A BIG OLD SLOPPY KISS ON HER?"  (video tape of Michelle Nunn: "I would defer to the President's judgment") David Perdue wearing a coat and tie: "We don't need any of that hanky-panky in Washington. Defund Obamacare, Close our boarders. Make it easier for companies to outsource."





**click**

"I'm Sam Nunn's homely daughter and I approved this message":  "Ah'm Zale Miller and ah'm tared of all of the fussin' an' fightin that's a goin on in Wurshington. Thems peoples up thar er bridge barners not bridge billders. Now, this here youngin' ain't much to look at, but youins don't wanna send no Barbie doll up dere". Camera backs up to show Michelle Nunn sitting next to Zell Miller. "Governor Miller, thank you for whatever you said and I guess you mean it."



 **click**

Jason Carter commercial: Various Middle Class People.  Middle Class Woman: "I just don't like Nathan Deal- he looks like a preacher whose always doin' a building project." Middle Class Man: "I just want Nathan Deal to sit at my dinner table. I'd be, 'Hey, Nathan Deal, pass me the taters' then he would understand the plight of middle class people. I just wish there was somebody else to vote for."




**click**

Nathan Deal Commercial: "Jason Carter with all of his fancy talk, using 'words' that have 'syllables' trying to impress us with his plans that he doesn't tell you how he's going to pay for it. He's never run anything in his life except for that fat mouth of his. Boy, wouldn't we like to slap the Carterness off that face. Oh, anyway, re-elect Nathan Deal."



 **click**
 
David Perdue Commercial: "Do you really want to look at Michelle Nunn for six years? Lord."






 **click**

"My opponent, David Perdue, says I helped fund terrorists, which is a lie and the only Republican I know said it was mean. David is an example of the doo-doo heads that are in politics now and if they would just shut up and let smart people like me run things everything would be better for people like you in Georgia. I promise I have never heard of Barack Obama. I'm not even sure where Georgia is".


  
**click**

(Voice over) "Nathan Deal. My God."

**click**

(Voice over) "Jason Carter. Shoot me now"

**click**

(Voice over) "David Perdue. What a creep."

**click**

(Voice over) "Michelle Nunn. I'm going to stick my head in the oven."














Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes


It is official. I am against change.

Yes, I'm at that point in time in my life where I hate almost any sort of change that occurs. It is called being an old person.




It is not that all change is bad. It isn't. I remember a time when people smoked cigarettes everywhere, including doctors in operating rooms performing open heart surgery. If the second hand smoke made you cough or gave you cancer, it was because you are a weak person and you should just get over it. Now, a smoker can't smoke anywhere unless the smoker is smoking marijuana and he's in Colorado. It is like what Cedric The Entertainer said, "You can't smoke on earf no mo."

Back when I was a kid, there was basically three channels on TV and you had to get up from your chair and change the channels. Most of the shows back then were Westerns, like Bonanza, which was about a father trying to raise three sons in the old west with one of them being as old as he was, another one being as big as a dump truck, and the youngest one who was probably gay.

I guess you can say it is better now. We watch Kim Kardashian who is mainly known for being Kim Kardashian instead of Little Joe explaining to Hoss why he wears so much hair gel.

My problem with change is this: change always promises to be better. Nobody tries to be honest and sell change as It will be different , it will be worse and it will truly suck. No, change is always sold as the answer. The problem is always with the question it is supposedly answering.

During my life, there has been this constant mantra of change like it is a good thing. Sometimes the change has been mandated by the government, like Obamacare. Obamacare was sold as a change we were hoping for-we hoped for a time when health insurance was free like air and doesn't cost anything and there are no rules and everything is paid for at 100% and the doctor will look like Dr. McDreamy and he'll take all of the time necessary to cure my planters wart. Plus, he'll give me mint flavored birth control pills and make a Catholic Nun pay for it.

We (voters/taxpayers) were told that Obamacare was the answer to the serious question of how to insure uninsured people. It wasn't. It was the answer to this serious question: How can Barack Obama win an election and become The President of The United States?

At the workplace, it has been nothing but change, change, change. Again, some of it has been good. But a lot of it has been bad.



For some reason, and I've never been able to quite figure this out, but moving me to a different desk has been a major agent of change. "If we can move Alan from that desk to that desk, there's no telling what this company can do".   Of course, the desk moves have never been accompanied by a change in salary like an increase.

One change that gave me a headache was "empowerment". The company bigwigs said I was now "empowered" to do my job, that I was working at for ten years, powerlessly. That is, I was "empowered" to help solve a customer's problem without (and this is important) bothering anybody in leadership about a customer's problem because leadership was at a strategic two hour lunch.

Problem: this was a health insurance company and the only way to make a customer happy in health insurance is to pay their claims with no patient responsibility. The reality is some medical issues are not covered by medical insurance such as the time my company denied a lady's tattoo.

Now this wasn't a butterfly or a flower, etc. Rather, it was tattooing the nipple on her reconstructed breast to match the color of the nipple on her other breast. This was not covered by the insurance. Usually, that procedure is part of the "global fee" (i.e.: total cost) of a breast reconstruction and is not billed separately by  physicians because most humans want their nipples to match. For some unknown reason, this patient's physician apparently decided to give a discount to patients that didn't care if their nipples matched ("Matching Nipples" would be a great name for a band) and charged her for coloring (by tattoo) her nipple. This person wanted to speak to a supervisor or manager about this matter, however, I assured her that I was empowered to talk about her nipples. I never felt so dirty in my life.

My brother in law (speaking, ahem, on another topic, but you can apply it to this one) said, "Sometimes you just put your head down and hope for the best and it always ends up being the worst." That's really the best you can do with change- manage it. That doesn't mean you have to like it.


  

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Leadership


When it comes to the topic of "leadership", I'm one of those "Lead, Follow or Get Out Of The Way" guys. Most of the time, I choose to follow or get out of the way. I have the leadership skills of a cocker spaniel.

I couldn't lead a horse to water or a group of middle school boys to a stack of Playboys. Whatever it takes to be a leader, I don't have it. I'm fine with that. It has worked for me for 55 years.

Being a leader is tough because you have to make decisions and some of the times those decisions are wrong. The reason for a wrong decision can vary but usually general stupidity is a factor in the equation.

Which bring us to Roger Goodell and his leadership problem.

Roger Goodell is the Commissioner of  The National Football League and is probably the second most powerful man in America, just slightly behind President Barack Obama who has a leadership problem of his own.

It all started on the night of February 15th when Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocked out his finance in an elevator in an Atlantic City hotel-casino. There was videotape of him dragging the unconscious love of his life out of an elevator.

Goodell seriously evaluated Rice's actions, if you consider serious evaluation as sort of thinking about it and talking with some buddies. Goodell put his massive gray matter together and decided that an appropriate punishment for a professional football player opening up a can of whoop up on a woman was.....a two game suspension.

Sure there was some hue and cry from all of the panty waist bed wetting liberals out there. Then, the tape from inside the elevator came out. It showed Rice knocking out the mother of his daughter with one punch. Suddenly, everything changed.

My question is this: Why?

I know there is a visceral reaction to seeing a woman punched by a man, but really, did you need to see it to realize Rice needed to be suspended for more than two games? After the video from inside the elevator was released, Rice was then suspended indefinitely. 

There is a question about when Goodell learned about video from inside the elevator. Goodell says he learned about it when everyone else did. Common sense tells you he knew about it long before any of us did.

That's because Goodell is in full Saving Heiny mode. He held a press conference last Friday. He's hired former FBI director Robert Mueller  to "uncover what happen" in Goodell's "admitted fumbling of the Rice investigation". He's made an extra point in announcing the league's support of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.  He's going to mandate training and education of players to not punch women in the face. At least, not where there are cameras. 

He also said he's not going to resign because he's got too much work to do. Plus, he makes $44 million a year and you don't walk away from jobs like that.

Of course, it is not all Goodell's fault. He's living with the glorious result of a misspent culture that glorifies misogyny and violence. As long as you can throw a football, hit a baseball, dunk a basketball, sing, dance, act in a movie, et. al. you can do almost anything you want because rules do not apply to you. Last year's Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston was suspended from FSU's big game against Clemson because he shouted in the Student Union of Florida State University: "I (sailor word for sex) in her (girl part)". He was repeating an internet meme that is popular because the kids think it is so dog gone funny. Of course, the fact that he was investigated for rape last year never popped up in his mind. That's the best player in the upcoming draft.

But Goodell is supposed to be a big boy and he is making big money. You don't have to be a leadership expert to see that Goodell is being reactive instead of  proactive. There's no real principle at work here except to save Roger Goodell's skin.  That's not leadership and he should get out of the way.



Saturday, September 13, 2014

Chubby, Chubby


In case you haven't noticed, everybody is fat now days. Except for those few of you that are not, but don't worry, you'll get there, trust me.

The causes of this epidemic of huskiness are many.  The most common reason is our sedentary life style.

Most of us work in offices that the first thing you do when you get to work besides turn on your computer is eat a couple of donuts (or a box if its from Krispy Kreme). Then you start planning where you are going for lunch. Then you go home and the most exercise you get is going to the mailbox to get your junk mail. Pretty soon, you turn around and you weigh about 400 pounds more than you did in high school.

In the old days, they didn't have offices, they had fields, and you ploughed the fields with a mule that wore at hat. You did this 365 days a year. Your kids walked three miles to school, in the snow, and it was uphill both ways. Your dessert was a jug marked "XXX". You died when you were 35, but hey, you were skinny when you croaked.

Another reason, and if you watched any daytime TV you would know, is our parents.

If you are a Boomer like me, your parents survived The Depression and World War II. They had nothing growing up ("We got a grape for Christmas and it was the best grape ever") and so after World War II ended they did two things: Have sex and ate whatever they wanted. This is in addition to smoking cigarettes everywhere, including operating rooms in hospitals.


I didn't have to walk to school, uphill, in the snow, which in Georgia would have been a stretch anyway. I rode in a nice school bus, with nice school bus monitors, and when I got home, Mom had a bottle of Coke and cookies waiting on me.  My parents made sure I had something they didn't have: ADHD.


Throughout my young life, I was a skinny thin child and I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it.


But something happened. I got older and I put on more weight. Now, I am constantly monitoring what I eat and most of the time I fail because food that is good for you doesn't taste as good as the food that is bad for you.

I try to combat this by exercising. My wife and I go to a gym usually 5 to 6 times as week. I have learned a few things.

One, I sweat like a pig. This is good because at least it shows I 'm trying.

Two, there are people that carry gallons of water with them and they have to drink water every 45 seconds or every time they glisten, whichever comes first.

Three, there are people of a particular gender that wear particular outfits that sometimes do not cover certain particulars of their bodies. This has nothing to do with my topic (obesity) but it is health related because my eyes tend to bug out like a Tex Avery cartoon character at these women people and my wife ends up punching me, which isn't good for my health.

Sort of like this except I'm wearing a t-shirt and gym pants.


Obesity leads to many health problems. One problem is diabetes. Diabetes can cause men not to able to perform a man function men like to do. This caused the world's greatest scientists to work with Bob Dole to create a wonder drug to help these poor unfortunate men to function like they did before they got Diabetes. This led to multiple commercials during football games showing men doing manly things (that usually involves getting things up and running, ho-ho) advertising this wonder drug. One caveat: a side effect of this drug is a killer headache. So I'm told. Not that I would ever have need for this wonder drug. But I wouldn't hesitate to take this wonder drug, if I needed it, which I don't.

Obesity is also the "emphasis" of First Lady Michelle Obama. She is always telling us to eat a carrot and shaming schools into serving Brussels sprouts for lunch instead of  hot dogs. SAY NO TO FOOD THAT TASTES GOOD would be a good slogan for her.


Now the government that beat The Nazis is trying to beat Obesity.  Bet on Obesity.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Tech Fan Conundrum


For about ten years, I did something called "This Week's Picks" in which I would pick the winners of college football games using a little more manly and scientific method than Diane Chambers (who in one episode of "Cheers" won the weekly football pool by picking the winners solely on the teams' colors).  I usually picked a team that I liked and/or I picked a team that seemed like it was a better team than the team they were playing.  I should have won several Pulitzer Prizes.

Those days are over. Although I enjoyed writing "This Week's Picks", some days it was a big pain in the butt to write. People, particularly here in The South, take football very seriously, and they don't like you making fun of "their" school even though they may not be a graduate of the school or know where it is located.

Alabama fans, of course, and I say this in the most loving way possible, are the most clinically insane. I've had Alabama fans take up my valuable time giving me detailed blocking schemes even though a) I'm not an offensive lineman for Alabama; b) I'm a middle age man; c) I couldn't care less and d)It was in April when I'm sure the offensive linemen for Alabama didn't care.

There is a set of fans that puzzles me: Georgia Tech fans.

Before I get e-mails saying "I thought you were a total moron and this proves it. LLAP ", let me say that I know a lot of Georgia Tech graduates and fans and I love everyone of them. My wife's uncle, who said he barely graduated from Tech, had a very successful business career and enjoys a comfortable retirement. That's in contrast to me-my retirement plan is now basically buying scratch-offs. My wife's grandfather owned a legendary tavern on Peachtree Street and had many Tech customers including Bobby Dodd.

But, it seems like Tech fans are always just a wee bit defensive.The institution is one of the best in the country. Although, like other schools, it costs an arm and leg to attend, it doesn't cost two arms and two legs like other elite colleges.Tech folks have nothing to be defensive about. I think the problem may stem from their fight song, "Ramblin Wreck".



There was an article in USA Today that listed the top ten "best" fight songs. Number One was, obviously, "Hail To The Victors", which is Michigan's fight song.(By the way, Kennesaw State has a fight song, "We're The Kennesaw Owls---WHO ARE YOU?" I'm not looking for it in the top ten anytime soon.)

"Ramblin Wreck" combines two things Georgia Tech fans are good at: narcissism and cussing. It says, "I'm a ramblin wreck from Georgia Tech and a hell of an engineer".  It just seems to me that if you are such a great engineer, you wouldn't have a wreck. It is a bit of a mixed message, don't you think?

If there is one subject that drives Tech fans nuts it is the University of Georgia.

My Tech friends basically acknowledge that I have a college degree, although it is not important and if the world was depending on me to make an Iron Man suit, well, the world is out of luck. However, they all acknowledge that I am a human being, endowed by my creator with certain unalienable Rights.

However, you would be hard press to get many Tech fans to acknowledge Georgia fans are carbon based life forms. 

It all has to do with football. Right now, Georgia is doing well, despite having some "student-athletes" that are mainly athletes instead of students. Georgia has a lot of band wagon fans because they win. Georgia's head coach is this handsome matinee idol looking man.


In contrast,  the Tech student-athletes actually have to be students. Most Tech fans are fans because they either go and went to Tech. Tech's head coach looks like an insurance salesmen that just got laid off.



I know I'm weird, but I like both Georgia and Tech. I'm a little more partial to Georgia because my cousin went to Georgia back when I was just a tyke and it was the first college I ever heard of. I also like Vince Dooley, Herschel Walker and all of the rest. But I like Tech too. I want to see Tech beat FSU. It would be great. I want to see Tech beat Miami. That would be awesome. It would tremendous to see Tech beat Clemson. I just want them to lose when they play Georgia and when they play Georgia Southern this year because I've paid that school a boat load of money.

Yes, Tech fans, I will admit some  Georgia fans can be annoying. Seeing a 75 year old man sitting around and barking can be disconcerting.

As the late Rodney King once said, "Can't we all just get along?"

We need to unite because they are a lot of Florida fans around here. They are the worst. (I'm joking.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Kennesaw, Dear Kennesaw


 
Kennesaw, dear Kennesaw,
Nestled in the Georgia pines,
What a special place you hold,
Treasured in this heart of mine.
For the candles you set burning,
Lighting paths of love and learning,
For the gifts you have given me,
Kennesaw, I will cherish thee.

Kennesaw, dear Kennesaw,
Fairest of the Southland’s fame,
Sons and daughters gathered here,
Stand to praise thy lovely name.
For the friendships that were made here,
For the dreams we dared to dream here,
Kennesaw, we will cherish thee,
Kennesaw, we will cherish thee. -
The Kennesaw State Alma Mater



In case you didn't know it, poor little dinky Kennesaw Junior College has grown up to be big old Kennesaw State University.

Actually, it hasn't been Kennesaw Junior College since the late seventies. It became Kennesaw College and awarded its first Bachelor's degrees in 1979. Your humble correspondent was a graduated of the class of 1983 with a BA in History. Which was about as dumb to graduate with back then as it is now. But, hey, it is a degree and I can call myself a college graduate with all the rights and privileges that come with it. Those are: I can call myself a college graduate.

Kennesaw State is different from Kennesaw College. For one thing, there were no dorms anywhere close to the campus. There were no sports teams. I take that back. There was a dorm. It was called: your parent's house.

I can't describe what it was like going to Kennesaw College except to say that it was a place where everybody seemed to hate you and hate the idea that college could possibly be fun and interesting.

If they had FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) back then, it would have looked like this.

How Come Kennesaw Does Not Have Any Sports Teams?

Shut up, you are here to learn.

Why Aren't There Any Dorms?

It is cheaper to live with your parents.

Why Do The Professors Seem To Hate Me?

Have you looked in a mirror lately?


Before I hear the screeching of my fellow Owls, I am just joking and it wasn't that bad. Kennesaw was trying to make a name for itself back then. One of the ways that it made its name was being tough.

Kennesaw had "open" enrollment back then. This means that if you showed up, you were a student. However, they made up for the "open" enrollment by the classes you had to take.

Freshman English was usually where Kennesaw tried to kick out their students. I remember one paper I wrote in Freshman English.  I thought it was pretty good. After all, I made a B in Roger Hines' class in high school and I spoke English.

I got the paper back. It looked like the professor slit her wrists while grading it.

As part of my degree, I had to take a math. I had a big math phobia back then mainly because it required you to work at it. I decided to take College Algebra because I sort of passed High School Algebra. First day of class, Dr. Kahn comes in the room, a middle aged Asian man. He is screaming at the top of his lungs.

"I want you to know, to understand, that I DON'T CARE!  I DON'T CARE IF YOU ARE FLUNKING OUT AND YOU COME TO ME AT THE END OF THE SEMESTER AND SAY 'DR. KAHN, DON'T FLUNK ME, I'LL FLUNK OUT OF SCHOOL.' BIG DEAL! WHAT'S THAT TO ME? I GOT MY DEGREE. I GOT MY JOB. I DON'T CARE IF YOU GOT A BIG 4.0. AND YOU SAY 'DR.KAHN, DON'T FLUNK ME, I GOT 4.0'. SO?! YOU DON'T ANYMORE!"

I am not exaggerating when I say this went on for an hour. I looked at this challenge and decided to do the most obvious thing: drop the class.


It wasn't a simple process to drop a class in those days. I had to go to a line to get a card. Then you filled out the name/number of the class you wanted to drop. Then you got into another line to hand the card to someone at a table, which meant you officially dropped the course. The someone behind the table that I had to hand the card to was: Dr. Kahn.  "WHY ARE YOU DROPPING MY CLASS?"

Dr Kahn got his revenge. I ended up taking some courses during the summer and I took this course called "Decision Math". It was "Math" for Business Majors. I thought, how hard can this be?  I saw a high school buddy of mine, told him I was taking "Decision Math". He said, "Bad decision".  It was twice as hard as College Algebra.  I don't know how I (barely) passed. Divine intervention is my only conclusion.


I could go on and on with my Kennesaw horror stories. Like the time in "History of The New South", I took a test that had four questions. I spent an entire weekend studying for this test. First question: "Describe Tobacco Production In The New South".  After the test, I checked my notes. I had only a half page of notes on Tobacco Production. I made a 30 on the test. It was in my major. The professor graciously curved the score to be a D-. Somehow, I passed the course with a C. Again, it was all Jesus.

I drove by Kennesaw the other day. I know a lot of kids from the various area high schools that are now  going to Kennesaw. I saw kids wearing Kennesaw State t-shirts. I don't think they sold t-shirts at the bookstore when I was there.

Kennesaw, I will cherish thee.














Sunday, August 17, 2014

Here's Johnny


There's this stupid joke that I've repeated several times about the book Moby Dick: It is a whale of a tale.

My history with Moby Dick is not a complicated one. I was assigned to read it as a junior in high school and I didn't because it was long and didn't have any pictures of girls in bathing suits. I think I made a B in that class, but I'm not sure.

I was issued a challenge via Facebook to read Moby Dick.  I bought the "illustrated" Moby Dick for my Kindle. (The illustrations so far: a whale). I have made it through 15 chapters. I don't think the lead character, who I will call "Ishamel", has even gotten on the boat.  But he has slept with a New Zelander with tattoos.

One of the problems besides lack of pictures in Moby Dick is that I've become interested in other books. One book I've became interested in is Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin.



For someone my age, there has been only one host of "The Tonight Show" and it was Johnny Carson. All of us remember begging our parents to stay up to see Johnny Carson.

You can find on YouTube a lot of old Tonight shows. You won't find many pre-1972 because NBC either discarded or recorded over the video tape. But, there are plenty of 70's and 80's Carson out there and to watch it is to watch genius in action.

First, you hear the theme song. Quick: somebody hum David Letterman's, Jay Leno's, Jimmy Fallon's, et.al theme song. Then you hear Ed's voice. Ed McMahon, the greatest marketing pitch man in the history of television. Then you see Ed who says "Here's Johnny!". Spotlight at the center curtain. It opens and out walks Johnny. This was special. Johnny is going to tell us some jokes. And he did. When the jokes bombed, the band would crank up "Tea For Two", Johnny would do a little soft shoe tap dance.   It was absolutely brilliant.

You might remember Carson mentioning his "financial advisor Bombastic Bushkin". That was Henry Bushkin. He was Carson's attorney who took Carson from being a real famous TV personality to being a real famous TV personality with a boatload of money.

Of course, it is a warts and all portrait of Carson. Carson always carried a gun. He enjoyed dating when he was married. He was an absent father. He hated Tom Synder and Rich Little (Little, for all of his flaws as a performer, was the first person to be able to mimic Carson. I wonder what Carson thought of Dana Carvey's imitation?)

There are some wild moments in the books. At the 1981 inaugural of Ronald Reagan, Jack Benny's wife is presented as smoking a doobie in a DC restaurant. If that thought doesn't surprise you, then the image of Carson frolicking in a pool with four nude women probably wouldn't make you blush either.

Even though Bushkin made Carson a very rich man, eventually they had a falling out. And when you fell out with Johnny Carson, you were literally dead to him. Carson retired from "The Tonight Show" in 1992. It is still kind of sad. Jay Leno was, at best, okay as the host. Conan O'Brien was never given a chance. Jimmy
 Fallon is better than I thought he would be, but he is still not Johnny.

Carson died alone in a Los Angeles hospital and was cremated. His production company, which Bushkin created, still makes millions of dollars. It produces DVDs of Carson's old shows from the 70's and 80's. They will be happy to sell them to you if you ever run low on Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter jokes.

Bushkin's Carson is ultimately a very sad one. With this week's suicide of Robin Williams, we are reminded that a lot of the people who give us happiness are actually unhappy themselves.

But do yourself a favor. Go on YouTube and watch any of Williams' appearances on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show". You'll be glad for the memory of those two guys instead of the reality they lived.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Shark Jumping With Ann Coulter

Just in time for Shark Week, Ann Coulter's  August 6, 2014 column  really jumped the shark. And that is an understatement.

Coulter did a double back-flip over the shark in a column titled "Ebola Doc's Condition Downgraded To Idiotic" You can read it here: http://www.anncoulter.com/columns/2014-08-06.html#read_more.

I know Coulter isn't everyone's cup of tea. Here's a hot blonde Ivy League graduate that can go snark for snark with all of the opinion makers in the paper today.

I found her to be a great writer-funny and insightful. I always thought a lot of people got caught up with her brash persona and didn't want to deal with her arguments. They were more interested in pointing out that she has an Adam's apple.

Her books were always fun to read. I have read her column every Wednesday night for the past ten years.

However, last week's column was a total train wreck. It made no sense.  It definitely did not make any Evangelical theological sense.  There were not any Biblical quotations mainly because there aren't any to back up her point, which seems to be DON'T GO TO AFRICA IF YOU DON'T WANT EBOLA. Ok, we got it.

It wasn't mean spirited. It was just plain mean. I can't imagine what Dr. Kent Brantly's family and friends must have thought about it. All this column did was confirm what Coulter's critics have said all along: she is a non-caring, heartless bitch. It is hard to argue with that now.

This is a great time to point out that I do not want Coulter censored and/or removed from the newspaper. She has the right to say whatever she wants and make money at it at the same time. Just like Bill Maher. Just like Russel Brand. Just like Jon Stewart. If she can get a crowd cackling at a man in quarantine with a deadly disease, more power to her.

Coulter decries Brently's service as "Christian Narcissism". (On a side note, I wonder what she thinks of Mother Theresa?). It makes me wonder if this poor little Kennesaw State grad has the same definition of  "Narcissism" as the Cornell graduate has. I understood "Narcissism" to mean having an excessive interest in yourself. Generally this would exclude physicians seeing patients in West  Africa when they could be seeing patients in America. But on the plus side, they don't have to deal with Blue Cross in West Africa.

Ironically, Coulter was almost on to something.

There is "Christian Narcissism".  It is found in the form of church members and staff that try to be so dog gone cool.

Look at the past twenty years. It used to be you got dressed in you Sunday finest and you went to church. Now, and I'm real guilty of this, a lot of people dress for church like they do for Wal-Mart.  It is like we're doing God this big favor by dragging our lazy rear ends out of bed and coming to church.

You used to sing hymns from a hymnal. I would be surprised if any sixteen year old at my church knew what a hymnal was. Hymns are kind of slow and don't have much of a beat. We had to come up with new songs so our beautiful voices can rock the heavens with our righteous sound.

You used have bulletins in church. They gave you the Order of Worship. Now, more likely than not, you just get a sermon outline that looks like this:

1. ____ is Great

2. God is _________

3. Let us ________ ______ for our food

You are no longer supposed to listen to the sermon-you are supposed to take notes like there is going to be quiz afterwards.

The problem is that there is a lot of posturing, posing and egotism in our Christian life today. There's always a hot new pastor who has written a hot new book and everyone says this book makes radical points.  Then a few years later the pastor turns out to be a jerk (I 'm looking at you, Mark Driscoll) or a guy that may/may not even believe in God at all.

That's where the narcissism is-not in Africa where a person actually sacrificing is infected with Ebola.

Forgive Ann, Lord. She knows not what she says.












Monday, August 4, 2014

The Second Chance

I'm turning 55 years old this weekend. The BIG DOUBLE NICKEL. I think I start getting discounts at fast food restaurants now. Personally, I'd settle for getting my order right the first time

One of the ironic things about me: I majored in History in college, but I'm not really into telling people about MY history that much. I figure most people aren't that interested that I was the Social Studies Student of The Year at Wheeler High School in 1977.  What is interesting is that I had a teacher tell me specifically that if he was at the department meeting that day I wouldn't have gotten it. Yep, that's the type of life I've had  ("Where's your Cornflakes? I need to go to the bathroom.")

However, I've been thinking a lot lately about my marriage. I've been married for 28 years. There were times in my late teens and early twenties when I thought I wouldn't be married 28 minutes much less 28 years.

I do need to set the record straight. Although we have known each other since we were 7 and 5 years old respectively, Lori and I were not "high school sweethearts". As hard as it may seem, I was not nearly as sexy then as I am now. In fact, if there was an antithesis of sexy, it was me. For some reason, short skinny guys with zits, Coke bottle glasses, and b.o. were not popular with the girls no matter how many booger jokes you made.

My big sex moments in high school  (get ready because this is steamy) was "Couple's Skate" at the skating rink. It should be obvious that I wasn't one of those guys that was a great roller skater. I couldn't roller skate backwards and I don't remember ever stopping without using the wall. However, there were times when I would get to HOLD THE HAND OF A GIRL while skating during a "Couple's Skate". One girl told me I had sweaty hands.

I  managed to have a date in high school and I even went to the prom. I still have the prom picture although it is well hidden in my house. I showed it several years ago to a MetLife colleague. She said I looked like the President of The Accounting Club.

Needless to say, that relationship didn't work out mainly because I had no idea how to make it work. Plus, and this is pretty big, the girl really liked someone else.

Through out my college career I would zero-in on a girl, spend most of the semester working up the courage to ask her out and then she would turn me down for some odd reason like she was a nun, engaged, married or a lesbian.

Another problem was my friends liked the same girls I did. There was one girl in college I liked but I had a friend that liked her too. It was really no contest. He would have been a better catch than me: He was from a well to do family, very gregarious, and lived down the street from a future President of the United States. However, for some reason he was shy with girls. This girl was also shy. So I watched this kabuki dance where this couple was kind of, sort of, maybe dating.  By the time I made my big move, she had decided to transfer to another school.

Here's where my wife comes in.

My mother was always a big fan of my wife. She would always take the opportunity to tell me how cute Lori was. The problem is Mom said this about a lot of girls and 99.8%  of the them looked like they fell out of a tree. I was always a compliant child, but when it came to this subject I always bristled and did not want any help.

In fact, a lot of people were urging me to take Lori out. While I thought she was cute, there was that Mom thing.

Then one evening, I was 24 years old and had been on two dates in four years. I was at The Metro Bible Study in Vinings. It was where Evangelical young people would come to study the Bible, sing praises to God, and scope out members of the opposite sex.  Then I saw her with him.

There was this guy that took a fancy to Lori and they went out a few times. I was sitting in a pew, by myself, as usual, and I saw them walk in. They both waved at me. 

I sat there, forgetting whatever the teacher was saying about how to make double-triple sure I knew God's will for my life. I thought: they look good together and I just blew another chance I might have had with a girl. I left that night pretty depressed knowing that whatever it is that causes people to fall in love, I simply didn't have it and I would be alone for the rest of my life. It was God's will for my life to be miserable and unhappy.

Something strange happened. I learned that sometimes God gives second chances and he gave me a second chance. I took full advantage of it. In fact, just a little over two years from that moment, Lori and I were married.

And I've been happy ever since.