Saturday, August 25, 2007

My Literary Canon

When I was a little kid (by that I mean before the time of puberty, before I was 13 or so), I was very into reading. Early on, I moved on into books which, to tell the truth, were beyond my ken.

They were, for the most part, books about sports, or, as I would learn, about athletes, and the tests they go though.

For instance, I read The Baseball Life of Sandy Koufax over and over. I also read several books which I still, to this day, read over and over, Wilt: Just Like Any Other Seven Foot Tall Millionaire Next Door, Cosell By Cosell, and Ball Four, by Jim Bouton.

Now that I think about it, there was one other book which was a big influence on me; The Boys Of Summer by Roger Kahn.

The thread that ties these books together is that they are all written by very open-minded men who are not afraid to say what they think. Wilt Chamberlain, Jim Bouton, Roger Kahn, and Howard Cosell, to this day, are the literary backdrop of my life.

Later, as I grew up, I gained new influences, Hunter S. Thompson, Friedrick Nietzsche, Graham Greene, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Albert Camus, etc., but I would have to admit that Koufax, Kosell, Bouton, and Chamberlain form the backdrop; the scenery of my mind.

That and the movie Patton, especially this scene:

I actually persuaded relative after relative into taking me to see this movie. I must have seen this movie eight or nine times by the one-year mark after which it was released. Here's the money quote for me:

"American love a winner, and will not tolerate a loser. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a loser, because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans."

I do not have sons. I only have daughters. But, I love to watch boxing, and Ultimate Fighting. Sometimes, my daughters will come and interrupt me while I am watching the matches. I have had the experience of having them ask me, "Daddy, what are you watching?"

Here is my answer:

"I am watching a sport, the purpose of which is to punch the other guy in the head so hard that he loses his ability to even think. At that point, you have won."

My daughter's always look at me like I am crazy. Hell, my wife looks at me like I am crazy. But, the truth is, this is how I have been winning (metaphorically-speaking) all my life.

This is how men fight.

And now, you have to ask yourselves, do you want a world which is ruled by men, or by women?


Obviously, rationality is not arbitrated by force.

So, let us think upon this for awhile.

Friday, August 24, 2007

I Read The News Today, Oh Boy

U.S. School Ordered To Halt Hebrew Classes

Meanwhile, in New York City, they are going ahead with plans to implement an all-Arabic school and curriculum. And, the curriculum is still a mystery. Hmm, I wonder why.

Thanks to Michael:

A charter school has been ordered to temporarily suspend Hebrew classes while officials try to determine whether teachers are advocating the Jewish faith.

Broward Schools Superintendent James Notter sent a letter to officials at the Ben Gamla Charter School in Hollywood on Wednesday advising them to halt Hebrew classes until the school board could further examine the curriculum.

"If it comes up in the course of conversation, that is one thing but if it comes to promoting religion or proselytizing, we don't want it to happen," said Keith Bromery, a spokesman for the Broward schools.

Ben Gamla is in its first week of operation as the country's first Hebrew-language charter school, but school founder Peter Deutsch, a former Democratic congressman, said he told teachers Thursday to halt the classes. He said he shared Notter's aim to ensure religion doesn't enter a publicly funded school.

"His goal and my goal are really exactly the same," Deutsch said.

The ban on Hebrew will extend at least until Sept. 11, when the board next meets. Until then, time that would have been spent on language instruction will be used teaching Israeli geography and Jewish history and culture.

Deutsch said he believes the school has every right to continue Hebrew classes, but decided to stop them to ease concerns. Both he and school board member Eleanor Sobel, in whose district Ben Gamla is located, have described their efforts as "bending over backwards" for one another.

Ben Gamla presented its curriculum to the board for a third time Tuesday, but Sobel said it still had religious overtones.

"We're going into the fourth round now and maybe that's what it takes to get it right," she said.
Ben Gamla, which has about 400 students in kindergarten through eighth grades, has generated controversy since it was proposed. Students follow state curriculum, but also were to take a Hebrew language course, and one of their core subjects - math or physical education, for example - was to be taught bilingually as well.

School officials ran into tough opposition at Broward County School Board meetings when proposing Hebrew textbooks that included passages criticized as being too religious. Even the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Federation of Broward County have expressed church-state separation issues.

Ben Gamla hopes to expand further in South Florida and to open schools in New York and Los Angeles. It takes its name from a Jewish high priest, serves kosher food, and its director is a rabbi. Without Hebrew classes, though, Deutsch said its most central component is missing.
"It is kind of crazy - the only Hebrew-English charter school in America doesn't teach Hebrew," he said.

Sounds like Mr. Ben Gamla has a good attitutde about cooperating with U.S. laws.

Unlike some other people.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Charlie Murphy

I heard this dude on the radio today. He is fuckin' funny. Check it out.

The Family Dog

Our family recently decided to adopt a dog. The dog belongs to my oldest daughter. She had been bugging us for months and months to get a dog, but neither my wife nor I really like dogs, and neither one of us wanted to take care of the dog.

But when someone brought this poor little frightened thing to work, we decided we couldn't help ourselves.

But, here was the deal. Both my wife and I pretended (and, by the way, we didn't even plan this out together, it just happened naturally) that neither one of us wanted the dog, that we were only doing it for our daughter, and we both told her, "The dog is your responsibility. That means, you are cleaning up the dog poop. Do you understand?"

Our daughter said, "Yes, I will do it." (I told my wife that, if our daughter refused to do her duty, I would get rid of the dog immediately.)

I have marveled as my little "Princess" has transformed herself from dainty little neo-bitch to pooper-scooper extraordinaire. I'm proud to say, my girl has done an amazing job of taking care of her little friend.

Now, that we are past the point of no return, I might as well admit that there was no way I would have ever gotten rid of the dog. I love her very much. She's so darn cute.


Now, here's the thing, the reason for this post:

One of the things I find most interesting about the dog is it is one-person dog. However, that does not mean that it likes only my daughter.


Instead, the dog has chosen a hierarchy.

The dog like the members of our family in the following order:

1) My eldest daughter

2) My youngest daughter

3) Me

4) My wife

Maybe that's not interesting to anyone else in the world, but it is to me.

UPDATE: My wife says, the dog likes her better. I said, "Oh really?" And, she said, "Yes, if it were just you and I home and we were both sitting at our computers, whose feet would she sleep at?"

My wife is right, the dog likes her better.

The Divided Soul

I am adopted.

Hence, I am a divided soul.

It seems to me, a divided soul divides, continually, itself from itself.

This is the condition of the human race, but it is felt acutely, as if it were a kind of metasticized cancer, in the adopted person.

I once began a piece of fiction I wrote with the following words:

By the time I was born, I had had enough of death ...

Only an adopted person can truly understand that statement, and yet, every human can sympathize with such a feeling.

The Bible says,

For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ ...

I cry Abba (Father - "Daddy"), like a Blues singer, "all night long ..."

The great stories of the Bible (of Moses, of Ruth, of David) are stories of longing. Longing is the story of the human spirit.

How long, Oh Lord, how long?

(to be continued)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Michael Vick Will Plead Guilty
Ok Fine, Here's What He Should Say

I used to run an Advertising Agency, so I have an interest in Public Relations. In fact, I have had to write not a few Press Releases for my clients in my time. Here's what Michael Vick should say, in my opinion:

"I, Michael Vick, just want to tell you all that, not only am I sorry to have hurt you, but that I must admit that I now know that my actions are so beyond the bounds of what is morally acceptable to society, that I realize I must be a mentally ill human being.

As such, I intend to seek Psychological help, so that I can learn the root source of my illness. I believe that only by coming to understand what causes my sick behavior can I learn to overcome such behavior in the future.

I believe it is my responsibility to those who I have hurt, and to society at large to go through this process. I hope that you will all have patience with me, and pray for my recovery."

Now understand, I am saying this is what he should say, if he ever wants to be able to get back into the good graces of the public again.

His own real moral accountability is another thing entirely. That's between him and his Maker.

Here's what the idiots who are handling him told him to say:

"After consulting with his family over the weekend, Michael Vick asked that I announce today that he has reached an agreement with federal prosecutors regarding the charges pending against him," Martin's statement said.

"Mr. Vick has agreed to enter a plea of guilty to those charges and to accept full responsibility for his actions and the mistakes he has made."

"Michael wishes to apologizes again to everyone who has been hurt by this matter."

Now, does that statement sound like a pile of horseshit, or what? Does it make you feel ready to forgive Michael Vick and go on?

NASA Scientists
Invent Material
Which Protects
Bomb Blasts

Read about this new wonder substance.

It can withstand a bomb blast. And, they say it used to be too brittle to work with. So, that means they've been able to improve it.

Does that mean they can improve it more?

Is it possible that we could make our homes and cars impervious to nuclear explosions?

Is it possible that this stuff can mop up radiation?

Pastorius Logo

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Reach Down And Pick The Crowd Up

Here's something to contemplate on a Sunday, cuz today is, you know, the Christian Sabbath. The band is Pearl Jam fronted by singer Chris Cornell.

Sorry about the quality of the video, but I think it is good enough, and the performance is pretty decent. (I'm not recommending listening to the whole song, unless you really want to. The point is just for you to hear what it sounds like. It is a long jam. The point of this is to get to the story behind the song, and what the lyrics are about.)

Now, here's the story behind this song. It is about a man named Andrew Wood, who used to front a band called Mother Love Bone. (An interesting aside: Think about it, the band Pearl Jam was birthed out of Mother Love Bone. Yes, get it? Pretty bad joke there, huh?)

Anyway, the reason Pearl Jam came out of Mother Love Bone, and the reason they are the supporting band on this song (after all, Chris Cornell was singing for a band called Soundgarden at the time), is because Andrew Wood killed himself. I guess many say he "overdosed on heroin," but from the tenor of the things people have said about him, it has always sounded to me like the overdose was purposeful.

But, what do I know?

Anyway, after Andrew died, Mother Love Bone wanted to do a tribute album to Andrew and since Chris Cornell was also a friend of the man, they asked him to help out.

What resulted is one of the most extraordinary albums in rock history, if you ask me.

Chris Cornell's lyrics on this albums are a profound meditation on life's ultimate questions. It seems that Cornell was attempting to think through what must have been going on in his friend's mind in those final days of his life.

And on this song, Reach Down, I believe Chris Cornell figured it out, and figured out the answer to life, and what would have been the door out for Andrew.

But alas, Andrew never found the door, and instead, closed the shades, and shot himself up with a lethal dose of smack.

Here are the lyrics to the song:

I had a dream the other night
You were in a bar in the corner on a chair
Wearing a long white leather coat
Purple glasses and glitter in your hair
And you said hey this is where Im gonna sit
And buy you a drink someday
You were going to the dog shows
But you kinda lost your way
You say now I got all this room
And no money to decorate it, so some
Local customer put me in touch with the man
Upstairs, he said little man you got no
Business gettin frustrated, you gotta rest
You gotta rest

You gotta reach down
And pick the crowd up
Carry them in your hands
To the promised land

Yes, I think this is the truth. The answer to life's ultimate questions is to help. When I feel troubled, I try to think about how I can help. What can I contribute? What can I give?

It is true, that we're all "little men" and we have no business getting all frustrated. Instead, we need to learn to follow Christ's example, and simply, help those in need.

Of course, it takes His strength alive in us. We can't do it by ourselves.