Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Combat Ball

Maybe it was my birthday, but I've been thinking a lot about my life. It is amazing I am alive.

I grew up in a time in which cars did not have seat belts. When seat belts finally came out, they were only placed in the front seat. The kids in the back had to fend for themselves.

Every adult smoked cigarettes, everywhere, at any time, except maybe at church. I take that back. Maybe during church services, adults were able to control their nicotine habit.

Even Barney and Fred smoked

Speaking of cars and cigarettes, back when I was a kid, we didn't take vacations to Disney World or anything. Old Man Manis didn't see the point of riding an amusement park ride. He never explained it; it was just a feeling you got that he thought amusement parks were a waste of time and money. He might have had a point.

Nope, when we went on vacations, we went to see our kin in either North Mississippi or East Tennessee. I have an incredible gene pool.

Here's the picture: Old Man Manis and Inez in the front seat of some sort of Plymouth (he knew somebody at the dealership that he liked to "horse trade" with), smoking away.  Old Man Manis with his Winstons, which tasted good like a cigarette should.  Inez usually smoked something else like Tarringtons.  The windows are open because running the air conditioner would cause the car to use more gas.

My brothers and I are in the back. I have to sit in the middle because I was the youngest. Old Man Manis would flick the ash of his cigarette and the ash would hit my brother on the left of me in the eye. Inez would flick hers and the ash would hit my brother to the right of me in the eye.   Nothing hit me because I was in the middle.

Two adults traveling with three children in a car with no seat belts going 70 miles an hour on a Mississippi state road.   But somehow, all three of us lived to adulthood.

Then there was school. When I was a kid, corporal punishment was not only practiced, it was applauded.  It took a village to raise a child back then and the village wanted to tan your hide.

When I was in Fourth Grade, I saw my teacher, Mrs. Nelson, take a kid into the book storage room. I don't remember this kid's name. In fact, I don't remember that much about Mrs. Nelson except one time she put on a sombrero and said, "Viva Nixon!".

All I heard was one loud whack. Mrs. Nelson came out. I'm not sure the kid did.

Whacking boys followed to Junior High School. If you did something that the PE Coach didn't like, he would whack you with a wooden paddle. One PE Coach would whack students with a whiffle ball bat.

But the real evil of Junior High PE coaches was revealed in "Combat Ball".

How to describe "Combat Ball"?  It is like Dodge Ball, if it was invented by the Nazis and administered by the Manson family. It was survival of the fittest. All entered the Combat Ball arena. (The boys' side of the gym. On the girls' side of the gym, they were doing modest calisthenics and saying "We must, we must, we must develop our bust. The bigger the better, the tighter the sweater, the boys depend on us!") Only the strong survived "Combat Ball".
Imagine this hitting your face

The goal of "Combat Ball" was to kill your opponent, or at the very least, break a bone or two.  One of my friends got hit in the nose with a combat ball. His nose, literally, exploded. There was blood all over the place.

Even if you got out "alive" to sit in the bleachers, it was not safe. One time I was hit and I went to take my place in the bleachers. I sat down and looked down at my shoes. I looked up and saw purple. We played with kick balls that were purple. I didn't hear a sound, but the ball hit me square in the face. I went backward. My glasses went forward. Nobody said a thing. No adult came running up to see if I was all right.

The worst thing I ever saw in "Combat Ball" was during "No Boundaries". This is when the PE Coach would exclaim, "No Boundaries" and you could chase down an opponent and annihilate him with a ball.

For some sadistic reason, probably "to make men out of us", my 7th-grade class was playing a 9th- grade class in "Combat Ball". The difference between 7th graders and 9th graders is stark.  9th graders are larger, stronger, and look like adults to a 7th grader.

The Lord had mercy on me that day. I was hit rather early and had to sit down. Monkey was not so lucky.

We had this goofy looking kid in our class who we called Monkey because we were interested in his self-esteem. He wore glasses naturally.

Monkey survived all the barrage of combat balls and was our last class member left on the floor. The coach yelled, "No Boundaries"!

It was at this time a 9th grader named Mike grabbed a ball. Mike was the biggest, largest male student at East Cobb Junior High School in 1972. Rumor had it he served a couple of tours in Vietnam.

Mike began chasing Monkey. The coach said, "You better run Monkey!"  Mike got closer and closer to Monkey, like a heat seeking missile.  He drew a bead on Monkey and let go a fastball that hit Monkey square on the back of the head.  The only thing that remained from Monkey was his glasses on the gym floor. His body was never found.

Can you imagine that game being played today? Former East Cobb Junior High student Mark Mulling said, "Libs (liberals) would never let us get away with the name 'combat ball' now. Not even if it was played with balloons." 

He's right. In an over-reaction to yesterday, liberals have taken all of the fun out of being a boy. But it is too late to help Monkey.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Whose Fault Is It Anyway?

It has been a banner week for the Donald Trump campaign. As of today (August 17, 2016), Trump has gone a whole three days without saying anything stupid. It looks like he has begun the brilliant "pivot" his campaign has been promising since spring. "Pivot", in this instance, means not acting like a narcissistic four-year-old.

Since the  GOP convention, Trump's poll numbers have tanked and he is anywhere from 8 to 10 points behind Hillary Clinton.  Let it sink in. He is that far behind Hillary Clinton, whose pants are on fire so much from lying she could be a new character in "The Fantastic Four" comic book.

Clinton has been caught in so many lies that even the news media is noticing it. I just said they were noticing it-I didn't say they cared.

Trump has just upgraded his staff once again. He hired Breitbart's Stephen Bannon and veteran pollster Kellyanne Conway (who most political insiders consider to be way hotter than Frank Lutz) to help give Trump more than a puncher's chance of winning the election.

I'm not saying Clinton is a sure fire winner. After all, she could be found in bed with a dead woman, a live boy and some of those e-mails she assured us was not classified and she claims the FBI director said was "legal" even though his actual answer was "If she wasn't a Clinton she'd be pounding rocks in Leavenworth".

Already, people are pointing fingers over a possible (very probable) Trump loss. By people, I mean Sean Hannity.

Hannity is now on a jihad because even he can see Trump is not doing well. Guess whose fault it is?

Hannity does not blame Trump. He says, “If in 96 days, Trump loses this election, I am pointing the finger directly at people like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham and John McCain."

Have you heard anyone say, "Boy, if Mitch McConnell was just more enthusiastic about Donald Trump I would have no problem voting for Trump"?  Or , "I was ready to vote for Donald Trump, but you know, Lindsey Graham doesn't think it is a good idea".   No, of course not.  I bet most people think Mitch McConnell is your county's superior court clerk and Lindsey Graham was the first lead singer of Fleetwood Mac.

Another group that would be "responsible" for a Trump loss would be "Pharisees".

For those of you not familiar with the Bible, the Pharisees were the religious leaders of Jesus's day and were his opposition. They are noted for their hypocrisy and Jesus had some really great put-downs of them. It is not a compliment for an Evangelical to call someone a Pharisee. 

There has been a blog post floating around Facebook by James Patrick Riley. Mr. Riley, according to his blog, is a native Californian, filmmaker, father of six children, a living historian, and a wine lover.  (This is opposite of yours truly who is a native Georgian, insurance grunt, father of one son who has an awesome beard, a history major, and a guy who really likes Coke Zero.)

It is titled "Donald Trump and The Pharisees".  Here are his first couple of sentences.

"When you finally come to the conclusion there is a God, you’re likely to try to attempt to please Him.

And this is where it can get dangerous.  You might be on your way to the sanctuary for worship, and you see a man curled up by the side of the road, bloody and beaten by robbers.  Something tells you the man needs your help (that’s God talking to you), but you are wearing your Sunday best, and you’re not trained as a first responder, and you’ve been given the honor of opening today’s meeting in prayer, and, besides, this guy is probably a drug addict and you have little children you’re responsible for — so you hurry on to church and you prove that you have the spirit of the Pharisee — that weird inclination to ignore what Jesus called “the weightier matters of the law.

The #NeverTrump movement is defined by this Pharisee spirit"

Again, anyone having any problem with Trump has nothing to do with Trump. Nope, there is just something wrong with you if you have a problem with Trump.

My favorite passage in the post was this.

"Strip clubs and philandering. I won’t make any defense for that, but I would ask you to look to yourselves.  Do you buy television cable services from a company that also offers pornography?  Do you stay in hotels with adult content on their television screens?  Is your stock portfolio scrubbed clean of anyone who profits from soft porn? What’s in your wallet and where are you spending it?  The press has been watching Donald pretty closely now for 18 months.  Have you seen any philandering stories?  I haven’t."

For a whole 18 months, Donald Trump hasn't committed adultery. The man is a regular C.S. Lewis.

Mr. Riley ends his piece by saying "Donald Trump is more righteous than you think" and if you don't like Trump's style  "Your priorities are all mixed up, just like the people who killed Christ." 

I like the argument. If you don't agree with me, you're just like the people who killed Jesus. This just might eclipse the "you're a Nazi" as the go to argument Trump card, no pun intended.

Actually, it is still a long way until November and if we've learned one thing in this election cycle is  anything can happen.  However, if Trump loses, it is Trump's fault. Not mine or any other Pharisee's

Saturday, August 13, 2016

What I've Learned

Another birthday has come and gone. 

I've gone around the sun 57 times. As Simon and Garfunkel once sang, "I am older than I once was but younger than I'll be".  I'm not a young whippersnapper. I'm a mature whippersnapper. I'm not a spring chicken.  I'm an older, wiser, rooster.

I don't feel old. I don't think I look old. I still have my hair and for the most part it is the original color.  I guess the Lord figured since he gave me my height, my looks, my brain, my teeth and my eyes, he would cut me some slack and give me pretty good hair.

I have learned some things of the past 57 years.

  • There will always be somebody smarter, richer, and taller than you.

  • There will always be somebody dumber, poorer, and shorter than you.

  • Either way, it doesn't mean they are better. It just means they are different.

  • People will believe what they want to believe even if it makes no sense.

  • Find out what young people believe and then believe the opposite.

  • Nobody said life was fair. Even if they did, it would be a lie.

  • "Son, all I know is a man needs a woman."  This is direct quote from my dad who married when he was 37.

  • "Never join a record club. Remember what happened to The Beaver".  A direct quote from my mom. I never saw that episode of "Leave It To Beaver".

  • Speaking of "Leave It To Beaver", there are many Eddie Haskells in the world. As you grow older, you realize these people are hypocritical and fake but you appreciate the effort.

  • I am still disappointed in Bill Cosby and Woody Allen, two of the funniest people ever on this planet, fell to their demons.

  • Hank Aaron is still a very underrated.

  • Joe Namath is overrated, but he is still cool.

  • There are two kinds of people in this world: those who say there are two kinds of people in this world and those that don't.

  • All religions are not the same.

  • Be good to your parents. They won't be around forever.

  • Be good to your kids. They'll pick out your nursing home.

  • I give people three marriages:  "The young love", "The rebound", and the "I've finally found the right one". After that, I start judging.

  • How you treat a waiter/waitress says a lot about you.

  • Never be afraid to make a mistake or to admit a mistake. If you're wrong, you're wrong.

  • Having a dog is like having another kid. Having a cat is like having a boarder in the house that doesn't like you but expects you to feed it.

  • I have a great wife, a great son, a great daughter-in-law and a house with a good air conditioner. I am a rich man.