Friday, November 24, 2006

Holiday Traditions

Here in my family we hold to certain traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation Although some of the traditions are more contemporary than others, we simply add these to the mix and make certain that they are upheld every year.

Traditions are rights of civilization that are to be maintained. Traditions bind us as family, make us remember the past and are to be handed down to future generations so they will not forget to remember us.

Many cultures have their own traditions. Here in the USA we aspire that our Christmas be just like the picture from a Currier and Ives greeting card, complete with snow, a one-horse-open sleigh, a country estate with a warm fire in the hearth.

Perhaps that was the case for rich families of yesteryear. Today's Christmas card should be a picture of a cheesebox home on the cul-de-sac of a suburban street with dirty snow from vehicle exhaust and ice melting chemicals piled up on the parked car, because Christmas today looks more like a panel from a Mad Magazine cartoon, than a water color from Messrs. Currier & Ives.

For you I provide the traditions of my family as they have been handed down to me.

1. The Cleaning of The House

2. The burning of the rolls. (This is mandatory on Thanksgiving and Christmas)

3. The Anguish of the Shopping

4. The Spilling of The Iced Tea.
(This too is mandatory on Thanksgiving and Christmas)

5. The Stealing of the Baby Jesus from the Creche.

6. The Watching of The Football

And of course our holiday is not complete without...

7. The Disappointment of the Children

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Two Culture, Two Comedians

Folks we have a veritable conundrum in today's news.

It is a chilling example of how two cultures handle similar issues with totally polarized behavior.

First we have Michael Richards, best known for his role as Kramer in the Seinfeld TV Show. Richards was appearing at a Los Angeles Comedy Club and lost control when dealing with some hecklers. He said some hurtful words to the hecklers and dropped the "N" bomb.

Last night Mr. Richards appeared on the David Letterman Show and issued an apology. However it's hard to accept since we are now suspect of what may be his inner feelings that were expressed in rage.

Here is the AP story:

Michael Richards said Monday he spewed racial epithets during a stand-up comedy routine because he lost his cool while being heckled and not because he's a bigot.

"For me to be at a comedy club and flip out and say this crap, I'm deeply, deeply sorry," the former "Seinfeld" co-star said during a satellite appearance for David Letterman's "Late Show."

"I'm not a racist. That's what's so insane about this," Richards said, his tone becoming angry and frustrated as he defended himself in a clip from the show played on CBS before "Late Show" aired Monday night. (Watch Richards' apology and why Letterman's show is the wrong place to make amends )

Richards described himself as going into "a rage" over the two audience members who interrupted his act Friday at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood. Richards responded to the black hecklers with repeated use of the "n word" and profanities

On the opposite side of the world we have a sliver of sunlight that brought a laugh to many mainstream Middle Eastern residents.

Walid Hassan was a Shiite Muslim that poked fun of the Iraqi government and the feuding factions that have not just disrupted life in Iraq, but have killed hundreds of thousands. He had a daily television show called "Caricature" that was the Iraqi version of Laugh-In and Saturday Night Live.

In Los the United States someone famous opens up their big mouth and spews forth a tirade of the most gawd-awful words. Then he or she is given TV time to explain their actions and apologize.

In Baghdad, under the Jihad being raised by irate and radical Muslims if you speak your mind, you get a bullet in your mind. No chance to recant, no chance to publicly apologize. Bang - bang your dead! Infidel!

BAGHDAD, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Iraqi comedian and television personality Walid Hassan, 47, has been killed during an attack in a Sunni section of west Baghdad.

For three years Hassan has been comedy relief for the Iraqi people, finding and giving inspiration in times of turmoil, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

On his television show, "Caricature," he poked fun of poor security, ineffective politicians and the long gas lines among other things.

He was a popular figure among many Iraqis, giving the people of his country an outlet for their anger and frustration. But Monday Hassan became another victim of the war.

He was found in the Sunni neighborhood of Yarmouk in west Baghdad with bullet wounds in his back and head, said the police report.

"He was a star in the galaxy of Iraqi arts," Ali Hanoon, the director of "Caricature," told the Post. "Now, he's another sacrifice on the altar of this slaughtered country

When I was a younger man we faced the threat of Communism, Russia and the impending Red menace that announced, "We will bury you." These turned out to be veiled threats. All the handwringing and fear of the staunchest John Birch member was all for naught.

At my current age, I see the threat of impending radical Muslim jihad and it scares me. It really scares me.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Boudinot Montana's Dancing Debue

Well I thought I'd try shakin' up the dance floor. So here I am along with some psychedelic background. It's pretty groovy! Right on! Keep the peace! etc

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Ben Stein's Commentary

Many folks think Ben Stein is just a quirky actor/comedian who
talks in a monotone. He's also an economist and a very intelligent attorney who knows how to put ideas and words together in such a way as to sway juries and make people think clearly.

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.

He begins with: "Here with a few confessions from my beating heart:

I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica are. I see them on the cover of People and Us constantly, when I am buying my dog biscuits and kitty litter. I often ask the checkers at the grocery stores. They never know who Nick and Jessica are either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who they are and why they have broken up? Why are they so important?

I don't know who Lindsay Lohan is either, and I do not care at all about Tom Cruise's wife.

Am I going to be called before a Senate committee and asked if I am a subversive? Maybe, but I just have no clue who Nick and Jessica are. If this is what it means to be no longer young. It's not so bad.

Next confession:

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees.

It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto.

In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu . If people want a Creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution, and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too.

But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to.
In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a
little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's
intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her "How could God let something like this Happen?" (regarding Katrina)

Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said,
"I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?"

In light of recent events. . .terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found recently) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK.

Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem. (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said OK.

Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out.
I think it has a great deal to do with "WE REAP WHAT WE SOW."

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell.

Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible

Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire
but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice
about sharing.

Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through
cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and

Are you laughing?

My Best Regards. . .honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein

Friday, November 10, 2006

Cinderella's Diary

I miss my stepmother. What a thing to say
but it's true. The prince is so boring: four hours to dress and then the cheering throngs.Again. The page who holds the door is cute enough to eat. Where is he once Mr. Charming kisses my forehead goodnight?

Every morning I gaze out a casement window
at the hunters, dark men with blood on their boots who joke and mount, their black trousersstraining, rough beards, callused hands, selfish, abrupt

Oh, dear diary—I am lost in ever after:
Those insufferable birds, someone in every room with a lute, the queen calling me to look at another painting of her son, this time holding the transparent slipper I wish
I'd never seen.

"Cinderella's Diary" by Ron Koertge

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Virginia State Flag

click on flag to enlarge

You folks from Virginia don't need to thank me. I'm just doin' my job.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Comfort And Aid For Those That Comfort And Aid

One of my personal heroes is Dr. Gary Sweeten. As a Christian and a Psychologist he has tremendous insight into helping pastors build strong Christian lives. In fact this is his life’s work as the director of Life Ways Ministries.

He made some comments in his blog this past year about the breakdown a minister can go through when no one is ministering to him.

We consider the pastor of a church to have a gravy job. You go to work on Sunday morning and speak for 90 minutes. Perhaps there is some weekly service you are required to lead. You have to smile and make nice and hope the church board provides enough for you and your family to live on.

However according to Dr. Sweeten, there is a lot more that Protestant ministers have on their plate than these sweet aspects and it is driving many of them to find comfort in hidden vices and many others are calling it quits and leaving their profession. From a reading of the news the outlook in the Catholic community appears just as bleak.

In yesterday’s news we learned about the hidden life of Evangelist, Ted Haggard. Reverend Haggard serves as the head pastor at a 14,000 member charismatic church in Colorado called New Life Church. He was elected to be head of the National Evangelistic Association. A male prostitute in the Colorado area claims that Reverend Haggard has been paying him for homosexual acts over the past 3 years.

Yesterday Reverend Haggard denied that claim. As Dr. Sweeten said in the blog I referred to, “He doth protest too much.”

Today when taped phone messages became public Reverend Haggard amended his denial to say that all he did was pay the prostitute for an innocent massage. Oh yeah, this reverend and father of five admitted that he bought illegal methamphetamine to share with the gay masseuse. So much for his credibility. The good reverend has quit his gig with the National Evangelistic Association. He has stepped aside as head pastor while his churches governing board investigates

When I was a very young guy I was involved with a Christian group that was lead by a very charming middle aged man. He was married and the father of three. He was a seemingly devoted Christian and worked as a city engineer. He lost his position as leader in a church due to what he said was a difference in interpretation of the Bible. That should have raised a red flag, but I was a young and naive kid at the time.

To make a long story short, the light shone on a secret life that he thought he could keep hidden. He was having sex with a lady that was staying in his home and he was physically abusing his wife and children. The man needed help, but based on what he perceived as his position as leader there was no one to help him to come to grips with his spiritual and psychological needs. This is that same position in which Reverend Haggard finds himself.

We have seen this sort of thing in the news before from other well known Christians. These events are probably repeated on a daily basis by “professional” Christians in bedroom communities throughout the USA.

The men (and women) that serve us in the capacity of minister need someone to help and share their burden and give them the encouragement. They need to be provided with the tools to cope to continue in their work In fact isn’t this something that we all need?

It would seem to me that people in positions of counselling emotional and spiritual advice would do well to have some sort of professional guidance on a regular basis. Most professionals in other fields have mandatory continuing education and peer review which keeps them not only on par with their contemporaries, but gives them a scorecard of how they compare. It is doubtful that most churches have these business standards in place. I am of the opinion that pastors need to have someone to open up to and help them with resolving their inner conflicts. At the very least they would have an unbiased sounding board to provide them with reponse. And if it is found that their inner life has become totally polarized the response may be for them to find another line of work or at least take a sabbatical to evaluate their life. We see news articles like Reverend Haggard too often. This creates an embarrassment for his family, his church and the entire Christian community. If the cause of a man's problem could be diagnosed and dealt with before it comes down to bringing shame upon his family and all that associated with him we would be so much the better.