Friday, December 9, 2005

War of Words

give-war-bonds-christmas.jpgTo answer Susan's question, yes I've been busy - November and December are crunch time for me at work. I've also not posted because I've been so angry/frustrated/depressed about the supposed "War on Christmas". People who want to "put Christ back in Christmas" really believe that the way to start is to boycott retailers who won't slap a "Merry Christmas" on their merchandise? The glow from millions of Christmas lights must be blinding them to the irony.
I feel sorry for the bitter people who believe in this imaginary war on Christmas and suspect that the malls have weapons of Mass destruction. These people are free to celebrate Christmas in their churches and their homes, complete with Nativity scenes and inflated Santa Clauses. Yet they can’t enjoy their freedom because the public square doesn’t have a manger display. Their radios are blasting Christmas music, their TVs are running Christmas movies non-stop, their friends and family are shouting joyous “Merry Christmas” wishes to them but they can’t hear them because they are still stunned by the cruel taunts of store clerks wishing them “Happy Holidays”. How DARE they?
These people are forced to acknowledge that there are some people with different religious beliefs than theirs and they interpret this as persecution of Christians. They are fortunate they have never been denied jobs or club memberships or respect because of their religion as others have in this country. Yet they so offended by having to share this freedom they can’t appreciate it. It’s very sad. I hope they are able to overcome their self-inflicted war wounds and have a Merry Christmas despite themselves.
What's wrong with people? I felt a little better after seeing Jon Stewart accept responsibility for the war. (Watch the "Secular Central" video)
Then I was saddened again by this story. I know it's not about Christmas but it's simlar in my mind. How can people be so close minded as to deny anyone the right to speak in a different laguage in a school hallway? God forbid (literally) their kids be exposed to the knowledge of different languages, different cultures, different religions.
For all these people I have a song to cheer them me up:

("We Need A Little Christmas")

Haul out the holy
Our Christmas tree will be A - Christmas tree again
When I’m out shopping
Don’t wish a “Happy Holi-DAYS” – to me again nooooowwww
Because there is a war on Christmas
The left wing nuts are in it
We’ve got to boycott Wal-Mart
That’s how we will win it
So let’s fight the war for Christmas
Let right wing Christians spin it
Get the public in a fury
Sue the Jews and stack the jury

So make – Ci-ty Council
Put up a life-size Baby JE-sus manger scene
This Chris-tian nation
Is what the se-cu-lar FOLKS – are endangering nooooooowwww
So enforce the Christmas spirit
Make everyone revere it
Make the pagans fear it---
And strike back at them in anger
Onward Christian soldiers
Fight the war for Christmas now!

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Ka-Blah-Blah, Madonna, Yada Yada Yada

KabbalahMadonna.gifThe true Kabbalists are mad at Madonna. Inevitably they are in the age-old catch 22, that, by condemning her song, they bring more attention to it and make it more successful. When I was about 13, visiting my grandmother, she told me that she had opened a copy of "Catcher in the Rye" and found 13 "goddamn's" on one page, so she closed up the book and perused it no more. I bought that book in the airport on the way home from my visit. Maybe these mystics hope that their criticism will cause more people to try and find out what Kabbalah is truly about and whether you need an "h" on the end of it or not (I don't know much about Kabbala and can't say if this is a good explanation or not) .
But I doubt that. Jews are not about PR so much - not like Christianity. Christianity has Mormon missionaries, Jehovah's Witness travelling salespeople, TV evangelists, and the retail industry from October through December. Christians believe it is important to convert people in order to save them (a very well-meaning motive). Jews go the other way, supposedly, based on the story of Ruth, trying three times to discourage converts. A rabbi must tell such a person that 1) we don't really control the world money supply, we spent it all on bar mitzvah parties (though we don't really encourage such lavishness). 2) you really don't want to give up bacon. 3) you will not exactly be admired for your choice (see the link under number 1)
Originally, Jews were big into conversion. Abraham, after all, had to build a nation. But instead of offering things like Christmas presents and Easter baskets, he had a travelling circumcision show. Not such a big draw.
Anyway, I seem to have digressed from focusing on Madonna. Ah, not focusing on Madonna - that should be in vogue.

Sunday, September 4, 2005

He Got Caught In The Spotlight

stage lights.jpgbut when we get to the end, he wants to start all over again.Friday night I performed at a show in Northern Kentucky. I had recently met this woman, Teri Foltz, who is about my age and teaches English at a Northern Kentucky high school. She also teaches stand up comedy there and she performs at open mic nights at places like Go Bananas. That's how we met: we were both performing at GB about a month ago and started talking. After that show, she asked if I would like to be part of this show on Friday. The show was set up by friends of hers that wanted to see her perform more than 5 minutes (which is all you get at GB) and do it in a smoke-free, f-word-free zone. Teri's husband is a jazz saxophone player and performs with a combo. the show was a mix of jazz and comedy with myself, a couple other stand up guys Teri likes, the emcee who does comedy songs and Teri as the featured comedian.I had 10 minutes which meant I had to put together two sets I'd done at GB previously. I spent a lot of time editing and weaving them together and I was not real confident that i had all the changes memorized. The show was in a theater (a former strip club) in Newport KY. Several of my friends were there and I was worried about what they were about to see. For two weeks I had been thinking that this would be the last time I performed - the pre-show stress is wearing on me. I was more nervous before the show than I usually am, worried that I would forget major parts or just mess up the delivery of punch lines as I was trying to think ahead to the next piece. Teri's husband and his jazz combo started the evening. The music was smooth and sweet and soothing, though not soothing enough to take away my jitters. I could suddenly not think of how my routine started. The emcee/comedy-singer came on and was truly funny with a topical song. the first comedian, Mike Cody, went on and was very good. The audience laughed; I laughed; I pictured myself up there, bombing. The emcee came back and did a couple more funny songs - I liked him a lot. Then he was calling my name. I swallowed the butterflies hovering in my throat. I got up on stage and did the first joke**, which was about how I happened to be in the show. It got a bigger laugh than I expected. And so did the next line. My whole set went like that. My timing and delivery just came out right as if I was actually a comedian. Part of it was that the audience was the right age for my material. They connected to it and the feedback of laughter helped keep me going. (I did forget one line which made me also have to drop a later line that referred back to it - not a big deal, but it did, and does still, bother me) the final big punchlines got a great response and I left the stage feeling really good.I didn't hear the next 10 minutes - I went outside and was talking to Mike Cody, who had some very nice things to say and asked me if I wanted to perform at the Viper Club (in downtown Cincinnati) on amateur night (Mike is the emcee for those). We went back in and heard the other comic, who was funny, but unfortunately did not get a connection with the audience this time out. There was a jazz interlude, more emcee songs and then Teri Foltz got up. She also did very well. She has really good material, including biting remarks about why she chooses to teach high school instead of middle school or elementary grades. Her humor is witty and intelligent and the crowd really enjoyed it, as did I. There was more jazz and we hung around until most people had left and then went home. I still had adrenaline going and was ready to do it again; I was thinking about performing at the Viper Room and what material I would use. Now, a couple days later, I'm not sure about it. What if I can't get that same roll going with the timing and delivery? what if I forget stuff?

**"It's kind of a fluke that I'm even here. I just met Teri a few weeks ago when we both performed at Go Bananas. After I finished my set, Teri came up to me and just asked me straight out, 'How the hell tall are you anyway?' I said 6' 6". Apparently that's all the qualifications she was looking for because here I am."

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Delayed On Hold

on hold.jpg

Recently White House spokesman, Scott McClellan seemed to try to distance the President from Tom Delay, the embattled House Majority Leader. McClellen said that Bush and Delay are friends but that “there are different levels of friendship”. He said that the two are “working friends” not close friends.
Bush then invited Delay aboard Air Force One and to attend a White House event on social security, and said of the Congressman “I appreciate his leadership.” What is the relationship between Bush and Delay? I tried to call Scott McClellan to find out, but I got put on hold:

You have reached the office of White House spokesperson, Scott McClellan. Mr. McClellan is out at a spinning class, but your call is important to us -- unless you are a member of the liberal press. Please hold and Mr. McClellan will talk to you out of the next available side of his mouth.

When your job’s in trouble, and you’re feeling some despair
And the political noose, is getting a little tight
Use my name and mention me, but don’t expect me there
I’m behind you, out of range of the T V lights

Though I call you a friend, I just give it a little spin
We’re not close, we’re
Just working friends

You have reached the office of White House spokesperson, Scott McClellan. Mr. McClellan is busy dodging calls from Mr. Delay’s office, but your call is important to us -- unless you are a certain Senator who’s name rhymes with Voin-a-bitch. Please hold and Mr. McClellan will deliver you his next available equivocation.

When you’re nearing, a big fall
Your ethics are on trial, I’ll hem and haw
I’m on your side, unnnn-til times get tough, and friends just can’t be found
Like a bridge closed for flooding waters, I will let you drown

You have reached the office of White House spokesperson, Scott McClellan. Mr. McClellan is out at a side-stepping class, but your call is important to us -- unless you are opposed to the culture of life. Please hold and Mr. McClellan will blow you his next available smoke.

Delay is the subject
Of ethics scrutiny
And Bush tells the press that
“Tom’s a good friend to me”
But later, in private
Here’s what Bush tells Delay
We’re friends and I like you
But not that special way

Don’t stand, don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me…….

At this point I decided to hang up.

Monday, February 7, 2005

Little Blog Church Newsletter

guacamole_especial.gifMessage from Reverend Nosh:Yesterday was Super sunday, one of the holiest days in the Little Blog Church of Copious Consumption. On that day we gathered in our homes and sportsbars to prepare and eat ritual foods, featuring the many foods of the Southwestern persuasion that glorify spice, representing the "spice of life". The most revered Super Sunday offering is, of course, the guacamole. As I reminded you last week, flock, we eat only of the Haas variety of avocado as the others are consumed by heathens and are unfit for our tables. The avocado is combined with chopped onion (or onion powder), chopped tomatoes, salt and black pepper. Some denominations of our faith accept chili peppers and cilantro. The latter ingredient is considered unpalatable by certain congregants and may be excluded. Remember, however, that he who would combine sour cream unto his guacamole shall be sent down with the white chocolate eaters and shall never enter the promised land. Finally, my friends, As we bow before the guacamole bowl, we are reminded by the scripture to dip but once lest we contaminate the offering.

Monday, January 31, 2005

The Twelve Weeks of Christmas

anachronismpic.jpgAnachronisms are things that are placed in the wrong time period
Are they referring to the Christmas decorations on the house down the street?
Tomorrow it will be February and these people still have the Nativity scene, electric snowman, the 10 foot blow up Pooh and Tigger. Maybe they are waiting until Wednesday - if Punxsutawny Phil sees his shadow, we have another six weeks of Christmas? Ooh, that reminds me, time to pull out the Groundhog Day video. Gotta watch Bill Murray and (sigh) Andie MacDowell.

Pooh in the hunny pot, all rights owned by Disney (ripped off from A.A. Milne)and Home De-pot Ugly Yard Decorations, Inc.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

New Yorker State of Mind

ny.gifFor Hanukkah, Karen gave me The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker. Complete? Is that possible? Sure, the book is large and weighs only slightly less than a middle-schooler’s backpack, but it would have to be 5 times larger to include all the cartoons from the 80 year history of the magazine. However, inside the book is a set of two CD’s containing all 68,647 cartoons! I trust that the number is accurate, but I haven’t counted yet.

In fact, reading through the book was easy, but the concept of browsing through the entire CD is a bit overwhelming. If I read 20 cartoons every single day, I can finish in just under nine and a half years. Meanwhile, the New Yorker goes on, so Karen will have to buy me the 10 year supplement when I’m 60.And by then my failing eyesight and feeble mind will make it slower going.

For now, while I’m still spry, the CD’s are great because you can search by date, artist’s name or any of several key words that relate to a cartoon’s theme. They are in pdf format, though, so copying them and using them in a blog entry or Board of Directors report at work is not a simple task, which is as the New Yorker intended it. They are possessive about their intellectual property.

I’ve always been fond of the New Yorker cartoons. My mother had several cartoon collections, either “the best of” the New Yorker type or books of specific artists such as Peter Arno, who drew society people at cocktail parties, or Whitney Darrow, who drew all sorts of people. She had several book of Charles Addams cartoons, populated by odd characters, the most famous of which became the Addams Family. I guess I don’t really know if the books were bought by my mother or my father or by both together.

In any event, I ended up with them. I have read them all a few times each over the years. I learned a lot from them when I was young. They give some added context to the times the cartoons were drawn, revealing things about culture and history. They revealed a few other things too. New Yorker cartoons often contain cartoon nudity and sex. Since sources of visual information about such things were limited when I was a child (what with the scarcity of internet porn), those types of cartoons were of great interest to me then.

They became somewhat embarrassing a few years ago when my young daughter decided that New Yorker cartoon books were good bedtime entertainment. We had a lot of fun reading them together, especially the Addams books. In some of the others, though, I had to skip some pages or try to explain why that man was imagining that lady was naked.

The quality of the humor in the vast majority of the cartoons amazes me. There is so much wit there. A friend of mine at work also enjoys these cartoons and insists that we collaborate and submit some cartoons to the magazine. I’ll let you know if we come up with any that are worthy. Perhaps we’ll have some in the 10 year supplement edition when I’m 60 and can’t read them anymore.

Maybe when I get to that point, Allie will visit and read the cartoons to me at bedtime.