war

Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation

I turned 55 last week. If we break that down, I was born in April 1959. I was four when JFK was assassinated, ten when Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon. Thirteen during the fateful Munich Olympics. Fourteen at the discovery of Watergate break in. In graduated from High school in 1977. I was 20 when all those middle aged looking “college” students overtook the American embassy in Iran.

Chrome or Firefox can help you figure out the remaining milestones in my life.

Those helped me learn that More than 79 million children were born during the boom years between 1946 and 1964. And despite a definitive trailing off of stork deliveries between 1958 and 1964, babies were a bumper crop. As a side notes, I hardly EVER meet people my own age. Advances in birth control perhaps……more saltpeter in the diet.

Anyway.

Essentially, what this means is that I’m at the very tail end of the storied baby boomer generation, that post war period in which our fighting boys came home from the Pacific and European Theaters to a country of burgeoning prosperity, growth and massive randiness. Lots of babies were conceived to the dulcet tones of Harry James, The Ink Spots, Elvis, Patsy Cline, Puccini and countless others who performed all the many languages of love…..even the sweaty operettas that were the one white stands.

I’ve had many discussions with people born two years ahead of me and three years behind me. Most agree that our years under the boomer heading left us feeling undefined and lacking a purpose.

Those born in 1946 to 1954 got to be Hippies. Peace, love, dope were ways they “countered” the Vietnam war. Protests in front of the university’s administrative office and eventually taking it over was the order of the day. Tossing a Molotov cocktail in the ROTC building and watching it burn, baby burn. Getting gassed by the National Guard when a gathering for draft card burning became a bonfire. They defied their parents and grew out there hair, wore the weirdest clothes and attempt to live in their version of Utopia, no rules, just love…..and lots of it.

The problem is, perfect worlds take work and these communes needed money. Nature can sustain but it’s a helluva lot easier to buy the seeds and the equipment needed for everything to take root. An all for one and one for all mind set has it’s merits, but not in a practical across the board application, not in a working self sufficient commune. They ‘re still around I know, but would guess they number in the tens….if that much.

The basic structure of a fully functioning society currently and always will consist of leaders and followers and with any luck at all, the followers get to decide who these leaders are in office

And when they must leave said office

Then, suddenly with crows feet and receding hairlines comes insight and awareness.

We traded the tie/dye for Brooks Brothers and Ferragamo and thought to,ourselves, “Gee, there’s something to this capitalism stuff. This Madison Avenue gig sure beats helping Arlo and his old ladies, Moonbeam and Starlight slop hogs back at the commune. And yet, we’re still groovy people so communal living can work……but for a profit; as apartment complexes, but instead of working for the common good, tenants “pay”to live there”. They’re on their own for everything else.”

“Cool, no more mass feedings And guess what? This college degree thing is helping me make money!!!! That shit is more magic than mushrooms!!!

“And we need to make all of this happen with cars of our own. Our own stereo equipment, fabulous furnishings An the occasional four cocktail lunch at Trader Vic’s is nice. ”

Growing our own food turned into trips to the supermarket and if we still felt compelled, climate permitting, all we needed was the occasional trellis of tomatoes growing on the balcony of the 24th floor two bedroom/2 bath apartment on the Upper Eastside.

We were entrapped by the trappings. We became the very thing we tried to convince ourselves we weren’t. The Establishment.

And so it goes.

I was too young to be a hippie. It might have been in the generation that gave birth to them, but I didn’t feel apart of the chaos, which really didn’t change things. I watched the Sixties unfold on the nightly news. President Johnson kept sending troops and the North Vietnamese kept sending them back to us in body bags. I got the fact that this war felt futile. I remember looking up where Vietnam on the map. Texas is bigger, I thought. And at the same time, I didn’t see civil disobedience helping the country return to peacetime any faster either.

I heard my father’s views on the the war, Commie Pinkos and damned grass smoking Hippies and crazy women who went braless; How LBJ looked like an opossum and Nixon seemed sleazy. And the more criticism I heard, the more I wanted to be one of these, cool, indignant, stand up people. In tried. At 12, I bought peace symbol,patches and black light posters and a cool mobile with the word, “moratorium” in neon letters hanging down.

Moratorium? Isn’t that stage thing at a school with seating?????

But as I said, my timing was off…..as were my verbal skills.

I entered High School in the fall of 1973.. Troop withdrawal from Vietnam happened in ’75. Nixon left office shortly after that, then came the American Bi-Centennial and after that, we welcomed in the insidious disco era and with that came THEE ugliest clothing style EVER.

By the time I graduated from HS, there weren’t any grandiose causes. Sure there was Save The Whales effort, the ecology, inflation, gas shortages, feminism struggled and while that worked to a degree, women still make less than men, but by God, Title 9 allowed us femmes to participate in sports. Strides were made but that which didn’t work, didn’t prompt mass protest.

Why?

A couple of years ago the Hipsters decided socialism was the order of the day so the Occupy movement began…..then ended. There was a fair degree of good ol’ 60’s style anarchy at the WTO protests in Seattle a few years ago and every once in a while you see protest marches, picket lines, union disputes rear their heads, but nothing like that which happened on a daily basis on college campuses and outside political conventions 45-49 years ago.

Why is that? Why do we no longer go all Abbie Hoffman and The Weather Underground over issues?

Protests do work. Women and African Americans can vote and are offered the same freedoms as everyone else thanks to the bravery and bloodshed of those who dared to take on the mysogenists and the bigots.

Union demands are met with walk outs by the members. Am organization can’t make money is no one is running the factory, but that only benefits the members. Very often the rest of us have to pick up the tab fir their pay increases. Unfair??? Only if you choose to look at it that way.

Your piece of the pie is out there, but please understand once and for all YOU have to bake the damn thing yourself. Baking a pie takes time and the right ingredients. It’s a labor of love. But as in life, work, effort the driving force to make it a pie rivaling anything Martha Stewart could create.

But I do believe what we learned from the Hippie era was valuable. They, like every other know-it-all generation eventually grew up. Being hip doesn’t help the new titanium one that you had to surgically inserted a few weeks ago feel any better. We’ve grown up. Time mellows us all. Logic infused by mature reality replaces ideals.

Now don’t get me wrong; to rise up for a Common Cause is great, but what do protests and huge rallies with placard holding hordes of people shouting rhyming insults en masse do today, other than make great headlines?

I appreciate everyone who devoted their time and in some cases, their lives to causes that brought about true change and forced a nation to stop, rethink and rewrite it’s Constitution.

I appreciate the Peaceniks and Pacifists. Change can come by a persistent belief in a cause through non violent means.

But this is America and still a Democracy when I last checked. We thrive in a free market system. Capitalism. Free speech, the right to assembly within limits. L-I-M-I-T-S. Everyone has the chance to grab the brass ring of his or her making. Individual “failure to launch” in its truest form, is the fault and the responsibility of the person.

Lots of things contribute to bad economic times. The fault lies everywhere; In big business, sure— corporate greed is real, but not destructively rampant. If so, there would be repeats of Enron and World Com happening every day. Do corporate giants play a role? Only to a degree. They get away with what they’re allowed to get away with. Wall Street isn’t entirely to blame for the whole magilla, neither is Big Oil or Big Pharma, Big Ag, Big Banking. All the problems start , as they have and always will—in Washington. The lawmakers there are the ones who allow tax breaks for corporations, these are the people who allow subsidies, who make the laws that work for some, while impeding others. Laws are the unfair way to keep us equal. And we as a citizenry put lawmakers in office, we actively chose the people, these professional politicians and their federal regulations. Washington is a mess. It’s in dire need of deep analysis and meds. Lots of meds. Thorazine drip time.

The next time you want to participate at a sit-in in a bank lobby or fire bomb a building or go out and fight the forces that were sent there to keep you from getting violent in the process of exercising your free speech, stop and think. Save for the glorious triumph of Civil Rights and certain other causes, protests—a la the Chicago 7—-don’t work. Not like they did or ver did, for that matter. These bloody, anger fueled rages didn’t bring US troops home any sooner. Whales are still being killed, the ecology is still gasping for clean air, as is the economy.

As Dorothy learned from Glenda, The Good Witch, you hadthe power the entire time.

The next time you want hope and change, vote…not only at the ballot, but with your wallet. Affect the bottom line if anyone or anything bothers you that much. In this day and age, refuse to buy a product because you disagree that its manufacturer has relocated its headquarters in a country ruled by tyrannical regime. Or they dont hire homosexuals or ban prayer from the classroom.

Then take it one step further by voting against then governmental tool who allowed the move and grant the tax break it guaranteed.

Vote people in and out of office, refuse to purchase certain things made by companies whose policies you despise…these things are the new Molotov cocktails. Do this and embrace your own version of a scorched policy.

Trust me, someone will get burned.

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The Salute

This hand gesture is as much a part of military life and living as the uniform, weapons and battle strategy. 

But where did it begin?   How did it begin?

No one really knows;  not even military historians, but this form of demonstrating respect for someone of a higher rank has been a party of military lore for ages…and not just that which falls under the heading of American.  

The salute dates back through history.  It’s made with the right hand (the “weapon hand”) and initially, it’s believed, was raised as a greeting of friendship.  The idea may have been to show that you weren’t ready to use a rock or other weapon. Courtesy required that the inferior make the gesture first.  Certainly, there’s some connection between this old gesture and our present salute.

One romantic legend has it that today’s military salute descended from the medieval knight’s gesture of raising his visor to reveal his identity as a courtesy to his jousting opponent, his king or even his Lady fair.  

The truth is, the military salute has in fact had many different forms over the centuries. At one time it was rendered with both hands.  But obviously that was awkward and probably made the saluter (?) too vulnerable.  What we do know is that it has been a long-established military custom for juniors to remove their headgear in the presence of superiors. In the British Army as late as the American Revolution a soldier saluted bv removing his hat. But with the advent of more cumbersome headgear in the 18th and 19th centuries, the act of removing one’s hat was gradually converted into the simpler gesture of grasping the visor, and issuing a courteous salutation. From there it finally became conventionalized into our modern hand salute.

Whatever the actual origin, clearly in the tradition of every branch of the US military, the salute has been used to indicate a sign of respect, and therefore a right and a responsibility of every soldier regardless of rank.

But civilians can salute the military as well.   It might not come in the form of a hand gesture, but it’s every bit a formal honor and commendation.

It’s something that sadly,  we only learned to do in the past ten years, really.   For decades, we forgot about their sacrifice.   Something happened after the Korean war.  Our attitudes toward our US Servicemen changed.   Even the attitudes of soldiers changed.   Why?   The U.S. got into the war, in earnest, after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  It was a sneak attack and it was thought for years that US scrap metal sold to Japan was used to make the airplanes, the subs and the very bombs that killed  2,402 men wounded almost 13-hundred others.  This enraged every American and this anger united a country.    Unlike the first and second World Wars,  the US was drawn into conflict with Korea and Vietna,m too.     

But the Vietnam war and its veterans deserve special mention.   The war happened at a very corrupt period in American history.   If those who fought in World War II were/are our greatest generation of Americans, then those they gave birth to, the ones who revelled in the spoils of post war-America and who’d grow up to ostensibly spit in its face, are indeed, the worst.

Harsh?   Nah…..

It was the Peace/Love/Dope generation–the Hippie idealists hell-bent on turning the country into a Utopia.     This conflicted with some servicemen who got so caught up in the war, so motivated by fear and by the belief in our absolute rightness and lest we forget, Vietnam served as the perfect place for some to exercise their own savagery and sociopathic tendencies, that a  minority killed innocent women and children,  raped innocent women and behaved in the most inhumane of ways. 

Lt. Calley and the My Lai massacre comes to mind.   Now, that isn’t to say that some women and children were in fact, gun wielding, American killing Viet Cong sympathizers; enemy combatants, if you will.   And in Vietnam,  as it has been in every war, it was kill or be killed.

Additionally, we must remember that Vietnam was the first televised war.  Cronkite and others brought it into our living rooms every evening.  We ate Salisbury steak and peas and carrots at the dinner table as talking network heads reminded us of the number of US casualties and B-52s that had been lost that day.     We saw things and heard about things that preciously, war correspondents kept to themselves and things for which soldiers refused to speak.  War IS hell–make no mistake, there’s nothing ever civil about battle and we witnessed it…true, we did so from afar and from the safety of our dens, but we saw what we saw;  including that which happened here at home.  The protests, the riots that seemed even more senseless than the war that had prompted all of that violent anarchy.    

Perhaps it’s because I’m older and wiser that I’d like to think that maybe…just maybe,  some of the unrest and hatred forthe Vietnam war and those who fought in it, was spurred on by a little bit of guilt.

I’m sorry for the way Vietnam vets have been treated.   I am, but I’m pleased that these days and really, since the first Gulf War 20 years ago, we’ve mercifully matured as a country and have come to understand that the soldier does (as he has always done) what the soldier is ordered to do.  We now  honor our warriors mroe than ever before because we know that he/she is just doing his or her duty; what he/she willingly signed up to do.

It also helps that we’re now well aware that war is a political device.  Even so, duty is upheld regardless of politics.   I commend every soldier who can see beyond that point.

And that’s why on this Memorial Day of 2011…almost ten years after the country’s second most unifying event…I pay homage to the US service man and woman.   And beyond that, I salute the mother who raised him or her.    The husbands, the wives and the partners who tearfully watched them board that plane…or walk up the gang-plank of that battle ship.   I salute the children who anxiously await the return of their parent from the battlefront.  I salute the man and woman fighting the battles a home who miss their family members.   

I tearfully commend the fathers who’ve tragically had to bury their children.      

In closing, I honor every man and woman who has ever raised their hands; who took that oath; who donned the uniform;  who brandished a weapon; and took a life…..or lost his or her life….. in order to save mine.    

It is with gratitude that I salute you.   


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“See You In Fucking Hell”

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This is a video shot by U.S. Marines, pinned down on top of a building in the rubble that once was a city in Iraq.   The shooting back and forth had been going on for a while and the Marines felt it had become monotonous, so they decided it was time  to stop this nonsense.

Besides, they had other things to do.

They marked the sniper’s rooftop location opposite them with a smoke grenade to mark the target, then called for close air support.

A few minutes later, an F-16 from the 192nd Fighter Wing of the Virginia Air National Guard and provided what the Marines had requested.

Watch, listen….do it a couple of times.   Digest eveything.   Once you’ve done that, I want your honest reponse to what you’ve just witnessed.     Wha are your first emotions after  viewing this?    Good, bad, indifferent?   There’s no right or wrong response here.  I merely want to know what you think.  

Please click here.

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Real World; Unreal Toys

“Hey, Tina, you’ll be turning seven soon. What would you like for your birthday?”

“Gee Dad, that’s a silly question. You know I want a Toy Airport Passenger Screening set by Playmobil!!” toysecuritycheckpoint1.jpg

And really, what contemporary kid wouldn’t want this fine, fun-filled example of a failing bureaucracy in an ever-growing fascist state?

Your child will have fun for hours watching X-rays and trying to figure out “who’s carrying a knife and/or in possession of an unlawful container of banned accelerant or incendiary shoes”.

Each set comes with one passenger with enough melanin in his skin tone to warrant racial profiling and two Office of Homeland Security “officials”–both with TSA screening certification AND proof of two Scranton Public School System administered G.E.D.’s .

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The actual screening machine has a hand crank conveyor belt that moves, a plastic bin to place shoes and a metal detector wand that actually makes authentically embarrassing detection sounds, especially when placed near breasts and genitalia.

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Perfect for Global Terrorism enthusiasts ages four and up and at ONLY $14.99 , an absolute steal by Playmobil!

And new this spring, you can buy the Full Body Cavity Search Room.  A pair of tiny, opaque surgical gloves and a miniature tube of AstroGlide sold separately.

But wait!!   There’s more!!!!!

Make sure your kids are the first on your block to get a Gitmo Detention Center Play Set and if THAT doesn’t get your progeny excited about the Geneva Convention, how about the Abu Gharib Prisoner Interrogation Fun Four Pack!!!!

Your kids will love this newest Playmobil addition with it’s three nude Iraqi prisoners and one bendable P.F.C. Lyndie England Action Figure.

She comes complete with an Indigo Girls CD, a carton of candy cigarettes and opposable thumbs!!!

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(Much of this post was published early this past Spring.  Why put up a “used” post?   If this country is teetering perilously on the verge of a violent and difficult fiscal Depression…the likes we’ve not seen since the 30’s and Shirley Temple…then I think it would behoove us all to get used to hand-me-downs and second hand crap.  Thanks Fannie Mae!!!)

Al-Jazeera’s Typical Programming Day


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As we enter the last quarter of 2008, the war in Iraq wages on. We’ve learned a great deal about battles won and lost here in the new Millennium. We now know that the art of war is fought just as much in down time. Relaxation –if that can even be achieved in a war zone–is an important weapon against battle fatigue.

And in any conflict situation, communication plays a pivotal role; unfortunately, so does propaganda.

Unlike their jungle-bound counterparts so many decades earlier in Southeast Asia, U.S. troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan aren’t relegated to sitting around in the sand, listening to the Middle Eastern equivalents of Tokyo Rose. Nor or they forced to listen to safe, American friendly Top 40 pop tunes via Armed Forces Radio on tiny, plastic hand-held transistor receivers as their only form of entertainment.

Nay.Nope.

Nuh-uh.

Thanks to satellite and other incredible advances in broadcast telecommunications, our U.S. servicemen and women can now practically watch TV right on the field of battle. So, when they have a minute, many soldiers catch up on their television viewing. And on those days when there’s nothing on the meager 356 channels they have from which to choose, the oh-so broad entertainment spectrum that is Al-Jazeera can sometimes make all the difference in the world. Even if the subject matter is well….”skewed” toward being just a wee bit anti-American.

Here’s what Al-Jazeera offers it’s viewers (American G.I.s and otherwise) on a typical broadcast day:

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6.00: G-Hahd TV. Morning prayers.

8.30: “Talibantubbies”; Dipsy and Tinky-Winky repair a Stinger missile launcher while La La is brutally beaten by the men in her village because she dared to show her thumbs as she attempted to make pita bread
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9:00: INFOMERCIAL; “Jihad Ladder System”
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11:30: ‘Hee-Hajj”. Down home country music/sketch comedy show hosted by Minnie Rett, the funny “homespun from the provinces” lady/crooner who atop her hijab, always wears a comical hat with the bazaar’s price tag still suspended from the brim
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12:00 pm:Dhimmi Moore and Friends”. Chat show featuring the actress and her celebrity friends. Tune in today as they make lethal devices out of everyday objects. The last ten minutes of show includes a cooking segment. TODAY”S SPECIAL: How to make delicious Ak-bars; rich, chocolaty goodness; now with more dates!!
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1:00 pm: “Un-American Idol”; Angry mobs of scruffy, swarthy Middle Eastern students–some approaching age 47–burn effigies of U.S. Presidents Reagan through George W. Bush in a public square
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2:00 pm: Children’s Cartoon Hour features an episode of the always entertaining, “R’Kat Man”. .Elton John sings the title song about this zany animated Imam in space
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2:30 pm:Jewzilla” Host, El-Allen Funt and his hidden camera captures angry Zionists caught in the act of being angry Zionists
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4:00 pm:Bedouin, Bath and Beyond”; Interior Designer, Shakira Pahlavi provides helpful household hints, plus fashionista, Mahtob al-Sadr advises on ways to hide tale-tell signs of Plastique and C-4 under one’s burkha
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4:30 pm “This Old Yirt”; a home show focusing on do-it-yourself remodeling on a nomad’s budget
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5:30 pm : “Middle-East Enders“; The entire London cast is jailed for un-Islamic behavior, repugnant grammar and poor enunciation
6:30 pm: “Top of the Prophets”; Will the Koran be No. 1 for the 5,163,728th week running?
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7:00 pm: “Who Wants To Be A Mujahadin?” Host, Mahmoud Rajish al-Philbin asks the tough questions. The audience will be glued to their sets trying to guess whether contestants will phone a mullah, go ‘inshallah’…. or seek the divine wisdom of the Islamic council
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7:30 pm Kafir Factor”; contestants are forced to eat pork and pork by-products for a diminished shot at entering Paradise where only 14 of the 72 virgins promised in The Holy Book will feed them raisins instead of grapes. Unfortunately, pork consumption means no manna from Heaven either, but contestants can get their fill of reruns of “Mannix” which is broadcast 24-7. Nothing says “Allah’s will be done” quite like watching actor, Mike Connors clutching the hood of a speeding sedan in the show’s intro
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8:00 pm Halal In the Family”; a classic situation comedy staring veteran character actors, Khalid O’Connor and Jinn Stapleton
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8:30 pm “Bride’s Head Revisited”: the rebroadcast of the public beheading of one recently married young woman who dared to walk six paces behind her husband as opposed to the appropriate ten paces
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9:00 pm “He and Shi’a”; the popular married couple are also two well known theatrical critics. Each week, they discuss the Middle Eastern cultural scene. As always, a new play written by a young soldier of Allah is featured. This week: a review of the Downtown Tehran Players’ production of “A Reza In The Sun”.
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9:30 pm : “Fatwah Actress” Grossly overweight B-List actress Kirsti Al-Lee can no longer fit in her burkha. The show chronicles her attempt to lose the weight that the Great Satan and Western carbohydrates helped her gain. In tonight’s episode, Kirstie enters a program. The laughs are abundant as she attempts to survive a difficult weight loss regime of stoning, brutal beatings and incessant subjugation at the Blotilla the Hun Health Spa and Jihadist Traning Facility in Afghanistan
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10:00 pm:The Gaza Good Time Hour” An arts program looks at anti-Israel graffiti art in the occupied territories and the fine art of rock throwing at Israeli tanks and check-points
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11:00 pm The Sunni and Sharia Show”. The husband and wife showbiz couple hosts this top-rated variety show featuring skits and live musical performances of songs that continue to top the charts. This week, they’ll perform their #1 hit, I Got You, Babel
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12:00 am End of Programming Day; Signals gassing of six thousand Kurds in the provinces
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The original concept of Arabic TV sent to me via e-mail. I have no idea who the original author was,  but all the new material, which is 97 percent of what you see above,  is mine..

No Iranians?

(Here are two oldies, but goodies. If you’ve heard this one before or if you’ve already seen the video well….get over it, Sparky because I’m supremely busy  watching the Olympics and obsessing over John Edwards’ infidelity and penile issues.  I desperately needed a Sunday post to keep feeding this bitch blog d’humour, therefore I assure you that as far as today is concerned, this schlock is as good as it gonna get. As I’ve tried to reinforce many times, comedy isn’t pretty. Come back tomorrow (Monday) for bona fied hoot)

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The Iranian Ambassador to the UN had just finished giving a speech, and walked out into the lobby where he met President Bush.

They shook hands, and as they walked the Iranian said, “You know, I have just one question about what I have seen in America.

President Bush said, “Well, anything I can do to help you, I will.”

The Iranian whispered “My son watches this show ‘Star Trek’ and in it there is Chekhov who is Russian, Scotty who is Scottish, Uhura who is Black, Su Lu who is Chinese, but no Iranians. My son is very upset and doesn’t understand why there aren’t any Iranians on Star Trek.”

President Bush cocked his head in that now famous “W” manner, then smiled as he glanced over at the infamous portable Red Phone in the briefcase held by a Secret Service agent that’s always within reach. He then leaned in toward the Iranian ambassador and stifled a laugh as he whispered, “Because it takes place in the future.”

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I Know How This Day Ends

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Was it a good Christmas?

The last present is unwrapped.

The food is put away and the dishes are done.

The last guest is gone.

And suddenly, save for one television set in a another room, quiet permeates the house. You can actually feel the energy as it wanes. It’s like the last swirls of water down the drain. The sink is still wet. Proof that water was once there.

The house is vacant, but there is residual energy. Proof that people were once there.

As each second passes, the energy fades. It’s all in the timing and today the timing was perfect…as was the holiday.

You are tired. And with good reason.

You were quite accomplished in your hostess duties this year. You graciously fed and entertained 18 members of your family. You did a good job and there is much to be proud of. The new furniture looks great. The new window treatments are gorgeous. The newly remodeled kitchen was a hit, too. Plus, you had the house professionally decorated this year. It was like a Courier and Ives photo come to life.

You walk through your home reliving the moments. You peer into the bar: ah yes, the liquor bottles were were in great demand this day. The almost empty bottle of Dewar’s tells you that Uncle Sam was present and accounted for. Very little Vodka left and someone made sure Gin was consumed. Only one glass fell victim to shoddy dexterity this year. That’s OK. A set of 11-Waterford crystal hi-ball glasses works just as well. You can always get another glass.

You move to the kitchen: you admire your architect’s handiwork as you hear the sound of the new dishwasher clicking into “rinse cycle”. Cookies, cakes and pies–the ones you couldn’t give away to departing guests, now sit on the counter top, protected from the elements by festive red and green plastic wrap.

You look in the refrigerator. It’s filled to capacity with food. No one touched cousin Lana’s three bean salad. There’s a good amount of dressing left, too but not that much turkey. That’s good news. There are only a few ham slices, too.

Gee, a Coke sure sounds good.

You open a bottle. The fizzy sound is inimitable. You take a sip and savor the cold, crisp flavor. You take the bottle with you as you move to the living room.

There it is. A large seven foot Blue Spruce that just 24 hours ago, presided over a house full of people and laughter, now stands rather empty looking—in spite of branches that still sport lights, ornaments and gold and silver tinsel.

Your husband is in the den. In his easy chair. An anonymous NFL game is on TV…it serves as a background lullaby really. He’s been asleep for almost an hour now.

You sit on the couch, holding the soft drink bottling in one hand, your head in the other. You smile. You thoughts focus on your daughter and what she’s doing at the very moment…how she might be looking down on her left hand admiring the beautiful diamond engagement ring she received this morning. Chris is a great guy. They’ll be happy, you hope. All this young woman’s hopes and dreams are centered around a piece of refined carbon atop a platinum setting. You remember when you and Bill got engaged. You look down at your wedding ring. Now as much a part of your personal scenery as your blond hair.

You think about your little sister and how happy she was when she opened the tiny gift her boyfriend had given her. It was a key and it fit the new Mercedes Benz parked outside. She was delighted. How lucky she is!! A brand new Mercedes! Wow, you think to yourself—he must really love your baby sister.

Your hear your husband stirring in the den. He’s awake. He changes the channel on the new flat screen TV. He seems to like his present. You’re glad. After 29 years of marriage, he’s still impossible to shop for. The man has everything!

He stops on an all music channel playing Christmas carols.

Silent night.

You think about your grandkids who went crazy when they ran in this very room this morning squealing with delight. They realized after seeing the bounty before them, that they’d been good enough for the past year to warrant a Christmas Eve visit by the red suited benevolent one.

This room was littered with so many toys!

Holy night

Then, a passing car light brings you back to reality and you walk toward the source. There, in the window–you can feel the cold radiating off the panes of glass–you realize that it’s Christmas everywhere. But things are very different “out there”—beyond the panes of glass.

For a few fleeting moments, you think about the life that exists outside this house. Then you think about the people forced to live those lives.

There’s the dissatisfied wife who’s husband forgot her again this Christmas. Her gave her nothing. That is, if you don’t count the black eye he gave her after she “made” him hit her as he unraveled at the height of one of his more violent drunken rages.

All is calm.

There’s that sad, unkempt eight year old, the eldest child of a drug addict’s five children. She had to tell her crying brothers and sisters that Santa once again, lost their address. Their Christmas dinner is stale dry cereal, no milk. That was all she could find to feed them.

There’s the broke couple who were only able to open mounting bills on Christmas morning.

All is bright.

The 81-year old woman who waited for her son to come pick her up for a Christmas visit. She dressed and waited and waited, but he never came. He didn’t come last year, either. Maybe he’ll call on New Year’s Eve.

He won’t.

Round yon virgin, mother and child

There are American servicemen and women stationed around the world who are on watch….on patrol. In Iraq, one squad is taking fire. A sniper’s nest in some bombed out mid-rise outside Baghdad has the upper hand. Suddenly, there’s a lull in the fire fight. One 19-year old soldier, wipes away a tear as he clutches a gun on this night. He wishes to God he could be at home, in his mother’s arms. No, be brave. “I’m a G. I.”, he reminds himself. A stray bullet grazes the wall behind him. He hunkers down lower. He thinks about his grandparents, his cousins and his Aunt Deb’s pumpkin pie. He wonders if they’ve thought about him at all this Christmas. This, has he prepares to return fire.

Holy infant so tender and mild

There are the those souls who’ll go to sleep hungry. Like those struggling to live in war torn Darfur. The only Christmas gift some receive will be the “privilege” of waking up to to yet another morning.

And in every city in this country, many people aren’t acknowledging Christmas.  It’s hard to do that when you’re depressed and hungry.  But their hunger goes beyond the need for food; they hunger for love and companionship.

Peace of mind.

And there are those who’ll go to sleep cold and who’ll sadly, wake up shivering. For some, souls, being cold is no longer an atmospheric condition or an external indication of temperature. It’s an emotional way of life.

Sleep in heavenly peace

“How sad”, you think to yourself. You sigh and shake your head but through it all, you thank God it’s them and not you.

Thank God indeed.

You take another sip of your drink and unplug the Christmas lights. It’s late. Time to go upstairs and try out the marvelous new king size Egyptian Cotton sheets that Sheila and Dan bought you. It’ll be like sleeping on a cloud. And you can’t wait to try on your new incredibly warm Chenille pajamas. Margaret must’ve spent a fortune on those!

You make your way toward the stairs and clutch your sweater…it’s cold in this big, five bedroom manse. Raise the thermostat up a notch or two and maybe steal a cookie on your way upstairs.

But before you ascend the stairs, you stop, turn and take a one final look around you. You finish surveying the day’s events and the castle in which they unfolded.

Your home… your family…your good fortune. It all melds together in this life affirming moment amid the holly and tinsel. All is right with your world.

So, the answer is yes, it was a great Christmas…. at your house, anyway.

Sleep in heavenly peace….