Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Weather and the Nightly News Commentary

God must think this is a practical joke, but I ain’t laughing. The last six years lived out West, we were in a drought. Forest fire smoke clogged the summer air and the snowpack was so skimpy that at best there would only a few weeks of backcountry skiing each winter. Last year I moved to the Midwest and today they’re still skiing out West. In Utah, they’ll ski till July 4th! (for a picture of snowback in mid-March see: ). The snow in the Upper Midwest was sorry this winter. We’d get a good base then it’d rain and we’d have to start all over again. I only got out a couple of times on skis. It's now in the 90s and quite humid. I’m in withdrawal.

On another matter, Senator Dick Durbin overstated things when he compared the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay to that dished out by the Nazis, Soviets and Pol Pot. His words are especially unfortunate because it got Bush’s chubby-cheek propaganda guru’s mouth running. If I believed in reincarnation, I’d wonder if Karl Rove weren’t a new manifestation of Joseph Goebbels. This time around it appears he’s eating a little higher on the hog (Goebbels was quite skinny). Rove and Goebbels both spout (or spouted in Goebbels case) nonsense that people believe (or believed), directing their respective nation down a destructive path. No doubt, Goebbels was worst than Rove, but that doesn't make Rove a saint. The other day Rove boasted that Republicans saw the savagery of 911 and prepared for war while Democrats prepared indictments and offered therapy sessions for the terrorist. It’s a good soundbite, but an outright lie. He’s only partially right on one point. The Republicans did prepared us for war, but only partly. (Remember this war doesn’t require any sacrifices by John Q. Public.) Then they went to war in the wrong place and against the wrong people. Sure, Iraq had a bad leader, but so do many other nations. The war was suppose to be against those who attacked us and the one thing that seems evident is that Iraq didn’t have anything to do with 911 (and, by the way, there were no stockpiles of WMDs either!). Secondly, Rove is wrong about the Democrats. Too many of them bowed to White House pressure which allowed Mr. Bush to conduct his splendid little war in Iraq at a time when we didn’t have things under control in Afghanistan. Now, the war is out of hand. In my opinion, Afghanistan was a war in our national interest. Iraq wasn't. As for the detainees in Guantanamo Bay, let’s at least have enough humanity to treat them with respect. Applying the Golden Rule seems to be the least a President who wears his Christianity on his sleeve would expect from the men and women in uniform under his command guarding the detainees. But then, maybe that's the problem. His Christianity needs to get off his sleeve and out of his soundbites and into his heart and actions. Enough ranting!

Monday, June 13, 2005

And the winner is... (warning, this ain't exactly politically correct)

The overlooked winner in Michael Jackson’s acquittal is the Umbrella Man. He name has not been released, but his face has been plastered around the world as he holds a black parasol for Michael Jackson. The Umbrella Man assists the bleached out superstar whenever he's in the sun, like the walk he has from the curb in front of the courthouse, where his limo is parked, into through the front door some 30 feet away.

I caught up with the visibly relieved Umbrella Man at the water cooler outside the courtroom, right after they announced the verdict.

"How do you feel after hearing the not guilty verdict?" I asked.

"Man, I feel great. I was really sweating it. See the sweat stains under the arms of my suit? Shit man, I’m going to have to take it to the cleaners. I sweated like a horse in that room. I was 'fraid Mr. Jackson was going down and wasn’t going to volunteer to tote no umbrella in a prison yard. I’ve been there and you can’t get me to go back. My prayers are answered. Mr. Jackson is a free man and tomorrow, I'll put on another one of these fine suits and continue to cover his white ass face."

"What’s it like to work with a superstar like Michael Jackson?"

"Man, I tell you it’s great. Where else could I get a job like this? All I have to do is be handy with this here umbrella? And look at this suit, Man! You tell me where else could I work and get to wear a suit like this? The only other job that provided me with clothes was out on the highway. They had me wearing pinstripes, but not those narrow fashionable stripes, like a Wall Street Banker, not even those black on white pinstripes like the New York Yankees wear. No, I had to wear those dorky looking fat black and white pinstripes. And to top it off, I had to sport an ankle bracelet. Me, wearing a bracelet, it’s wasn’t no fashion statement. It was hard work, Man, picks and shovels are lots heavier than this here umbrella. And besides, food there on the road was horrible. But with Mr. Jackson, I get to wear these here good clothes and we eat good food. All I got to do is follow that little fagot around and pop the umbrella as soon as we step outside.

"Mr. Umbrella Man, do you think Michael Jackson was guilty of the crimes?"

"How the hell should I know?"

"But you’re always with him,"

"But I don't sleep with him. I ain’t stepping foot in his bedroom. Mr. Jackson don’t need no umbrella there and I ain’t volunteering if he did. "Now if his sister Janet came over visiting, I’d knock on her door. And with this here suit, and my award-winning smile, she might just let me in.

Good to talk to you Mr. Umbrella Man. It’s a big day for your boss!

"Yeap, you’re right, for him and me. The losers get to pay to lose. Rumor has it he’s going to do a remake of those old Jackson Five songs. You know the ones, don’t you? Where he sang like a woman trapped in a snake-pit." Shaking his head, he continued. "And people pay money for that, hell I get to hear that sound from my wife all the time. If people are so enamored with that voice, why don’t they come home with me late on night. I'll leave 'em there on the porch listening to my old lady while I go back down to bar and shoot myself some more pool."

Friday, June 03, 2005

Reflections on an Indian Poet

Thoughts on Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore

Who is this Bengali poet? He’s a Hindu, I’m told. Yet at times, I found myself wondering if he wasn’t a follower of Jesus for his words reflect the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount and he's devoted to God (not just to gods). He’s an inspiration. Tagore calls his readers to stand in the awe of God, to behold the tenderness of a lover and to embrace life and death. We’re encouraged to expunge corrupt thoughts for they lead to evil deeds and to recognize that luxuries enslave us in bondage. As we come to the end of his words, visions of death are seen, but it is not something to dread for there is the promise we’ll finally stand face to face with our creator. Until then, we’re to nourish such Truth as seeds in our hearts where they’ll sprout. From these seeds, “buds [turn] into blossoms, and ripening flowers into fruitfulness.” His writings are beautiful and encourage the reader to cherish and treat life as a gift.

In 1913, Tagore became the first non-European to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.