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Three score and ten or more

Friday, February 24, 2006

Ethnic Humor?

I have a post on ethnic humor which is about half done, but I am leaving in the morning for Big Canoe in North Georgia and will be free of the internet till Friday or Saturday.
One of the things about ethnic humor is that nobody who is not of the particular “ethnicity” can really get away with telling it. My Jewish friends have kept me in stitches for hours with Jewish and Yiddish jokes (not always the same thing), the Monsignor who gave me instruction in the Catholic faith (It didn’t take) told some of the funniest altar boy and Saint jokes you can imagine. Italians tell Italian jokes and so on down the line.

I will say goodbye for the week with a couple of Mormon Jokes.

Joke one.

A Baptist minister and a Methodist minister were riding together to a Ministerial Alliance meeting when they were met, instead, by an eighteen wheeler driven by a drunk. They both passed away and came to the Pearly Gates together to be met by Saint Peter. The good Saint was showing them around heaven when they came to a stout seven foot wall.

St. Peter just steered them around it and they went on enjoying the scenery when they heard a beautiful choir sound from behind the wall. The Methodist turned to Saint Peter and began to ask a question but Saint Peter just touched his finger to his lips and motioned them forward. The choir sound faded, and the Baptist Minister, who was by that time, very agitated with curiosity asked St. Peter impatiently, what was going on behind the wall. St. Peter shushed him again and said, “Try to be quiet till we reach the next turn. Those are the Mormons back there and we try not to disturb them. They think that they are the only ones here.”

Joke two. This is a Finnish Missionary joke. ( It is old, but I took it in this form from a mailing list of former LDS Finnish missionaries)

A Mormon missionary was walking by a small lake in Finland one-day when a frog called out to him and said, "If you kiss me, I'll turn into a beautiful Finnish girl". He bent over, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket. The frog spoke up again and said, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful Finnish girl, I will cook pulla (to the uninitiated this is a marvelous Finnish bread with almonds and cardamom) for you." The missionary took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to the pocket. The frog then cried out, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a Finnish girl, I will join your church." Again the missionary took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket. Finally, the frog asked, "What is the matter? I've told you I'm a beautiful Finnish girl, that I'll cook pulla for you, and join your church. Why won't you kiss me?" The missionary said, "Look I'm a Mormon missionary. I am not supposed to have a girlfriend, but a talking frog, now that's cool."

Have a good week and I’ll see you then

Thursday, February 23, 2006

More Childhood Memories

More Childhood Memories From An Old Coot.

(Not the newest things on the block.  Some of these childhood stories come from a Memoir that I self published back in 1994) copyright © 1994 Richard B. Johnson

When I was at the pre-but almost school age, my father worked for the Union Pacific Railroad and my mother worked in a beauty parlor named the Daisy Belle Beauty Salon.   I understand, from talking to my Aunt Daryl, that Aunt Daryl took care of me.  She lived in the basement part of a triplex where my Grandma and Grandpa Shurtleff and  another Aunt and Uncle lived in the two upper apartments.

I remember spending a LOT of time at Grandma's, but I don't think I was ever aware of Aunt Daryl being my official "caregiver".  I am pretty sure I just thought of it as going to visit Grandma.  I do remember, however, that I felt really at home in Grandma's apartment on the east side, and equally at home in Aunt Daryl's basement apartment, more or less wandering in and out at will, but my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Judd lived in the west apartment most of the time, and I never would even have thought of going in there without knocking, and being invited in.  This may be an indication that even though I don't remember it specifically, that I really "lived" in Aunt Daryl's apartment part of the time.  I know that I became really close to her son Jerry who was two or three years younger than I, and that we spent a lot of time playing  together there in the yard, and in the garage which was not connected to the house, and which had a loft, or attic which was paradise to little boys.  I think my favorite place at  Grandma’s was her  basement.  I don't think we were really supposed to go there very often, but I went down the basement as often as I could ever find an excuse, or sneak down there. There were two ways into the basement:  one through the back door of the apartment where there were two stairs, one leading up into Grandma's house, and the other leading down into the basement.  The back-basement door was often locked, which was probably why I felt a little guilty going in there.  The lock was not a problem, since I knew where the key was kept, but my favorite way to get in and out of the basement was through the laundry chute in the hall between the living room and kitchen.  I always felt amazing and daring, like the hero of a Saturday matinee serial climbing through the laundry chute, putting my feet against the one side and my back against the other and slowly letting myself down as far as I could go, keeping an eye out to see if there was laundry at the bottom of the chute to break my fall.  If there was, I could just let go and fall freely into the dirty laundry.  If there was no laundry, it was necessary to feel with one foot to try to use the shelves that were ordinarily covered with bottles of fruit, and let myself down as if I were climbing down a ladder.

I don't know if I discovered the laundry chute by myself or whether one of the other grandchildren showed it to me, but once I found it, it was mine alone, and I don't remember ever using it when someone else could see.  It was as private and secret as anything in my life, and I think it made a deep impression, because one of the continuing themes of my dreams has always been a big house or building with rooms that could only be reached through shafts, or hidden doors or complicated mazes where few but I could reach the "Inner Room."

Once in the basement it was a magic place.  I suppose it was like most other basements in Idaho.  Along the outside wall was a tool bench where Grandpa kept carpentry tools. There were chisels that gleamed, hammers, and folding rules that could be made into snakes wiggling mysteriously from side to side.  There was a sink, and a wringer washing machine, but I can't place their position in my memory.  They must not have been as vivid in my mind.  Along the ceiling were a couple of clothes lines, for rainy days, and being down in the basement on those rare occasions when clothes were hanging on the lines was a special thing, stalking down between the hanging rows of clothing, seeking  the treasure at the end of the tunnel or the mummy in  the tomb of the pyramid.

There was furnace and a coal bin, but the real magic, other than Grandpa's tools, was in the rows of storage shelves for canned fruit and other storage items.  Sometime, on the top shelf were rows of brown bottles of home-made root beer with the wire connections on the side that I could flip the porcelain and rubber caps up to expose paradise.  The other shelves were covered with canned tomatoes, string beans, pickles, peaches, pears, plumbs, and, wonder of wonder, canned raspberries, bright red and translucent with almost half a bottle of clear juice at the bottom and all the berries clustered at the top clamoring to get out.  Once in a GREAT WHILE, I would open a bottle of fruit (you'd never guess what kind), after having suffered "in the dungeon of a Nazi prison camp," and would sip the juice carefully for a long time.  I could rarely finish a bottle completely, so I would replace the lid, put the bottle behind two or three others and come back to finish it on another day.  It might be two or three days, or two or three weeks before I could get back, but I would seek out the bottle and finish it off.  Frequently the fruit in the opened bottle would have a touch of "fizz" in it from fermentation, and would be an extra treat.  I don't remember whether it was the discovery of a half eaten bottle of fruit, an opened bottle of home-made root beer, some of Grandpa's tools in the wrong place or a combination of all of these that brought about my downfall, but I remember being taken into the living room by my grandpa to be confronted by mother, grandpa, and grandma about what I had been doing in the basement.  I denied all knowledge of everything, but I am sure that they knew who had been doing what, and probably for how  long, and the next time I tried to go down the laundry chute it was full of clothes, with a hinged door at the bottom, fastened by a hook on the other side.  It was a somewhat traumatic experience.  I felt that something important that was exclusively mine had been stolen from me.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Im in a weird mood and can't say anything intelligent

I’m in a weird mood, and can’t stand to say anything intelligent.

There was a young lady who was invited to a banquet honoring her boss, a titan of industry. She purchased a beautiful black gown with long sleeves and a rather low neckline which emphasized her beautiful figure. Two days before the banquet, she came down with a terrible head cold. Her nose was running, her eyes were running, she was having trouble breathing, and, for a moment she considered staying home from the banquet.

She quickly decided that to do so was politically unwise. She was moving up in the company quickly, and she feared that if she were missing, her absence would be noticed, and someone else would take her place on the upward march. In order to make her stay at the banquet tolerable, she placed a large handkerchief in her left sleeve, and placed another down her neckline, between the breasts. The banquet went much as she feared. Her nose continued to run, as did her eyes, and as the guest of honor, who was seated by her side made his speech she surreptitiously dabbed her nose and eyes until her sleeve handkerchief was soaking wet. She subtly tossed the offending hanky under the table, and with two fingers of her right hand, covering the movement with her left hand stroking her chin, she carefully reached for the second hanky. It seemed not to be there. As her nose began to run afresh she felt first to one side, and then the other, finally, in desperation, holding the neckline of the dress in place with one hand she felt desperately from side to side, finding no hanky at all. Suddenly she was aware that the speaker had ceased to speak, and was staring down at her. Her eyes raised and she saw that almost everyone in the hall was staring at her as she felt from side to side for her lost handkerchief.

Nonplussed, she coughed, and then, blushing she stammered her apology. “ I don’t understand it,” said she, “I know I had two when I came in.”

I am so glad that I am old and can be forgiven things like this.!!!!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Cajun Gunpowder

Cajun Gunpowder

We had a discussion some time ago about the preparation of fresh shrimp, and in my case,

the preparation of a Low Country Boil, which to a resident of

South Georgia or the Low Country of South Carolina means a combination of red new potatoes, pearl onions (if they are not available, Vidalia onions, cut in sections and sealed in a foil package with holes for ventilation) , Polish or other, hot, precooked sausage, small ears of corn, with an optional addition of baby carrots, and finally, about one half pound (or more) of fresh shrimp, in the shell per person.

The process is simple, into a large boiling pot of water (depending on the size of your crowd) Potatoes, onions, and sausage first, (and carrots, if used) until the potatoes are soft to a fork, then add the corn for three to four minutes and finally the shrimp until just pink. (usually about two minutes)

The question under discussion dealt with seasoning. Some people use Zatarains crab or shrimp boil with a fair dosing of Tabasco sauce, and some have other spice combinations. I advocate the use of Cajun Gunpowder (of which I may have to change the name because I have seen a product by that name for sale on the web.) . I learned to make Cajun gunpowder almost twenty years ago, when one of my Public Speaking students gave a demonstration of its manufacture in class. My recipe has changed slightly since that time because, at that time, almost all spices were packaged in two ounce packages, and the recipe basically suggested using “a can of—“ each of the ingredients. Currently, spices are packaged in one ounce packages, two ounce packages, two point sixty two ounce packages, one point seventy two ounce packages, two point twelve ounce packages, and frankly I have found that except for white pepper which is hard to find in any packages of more than one ounce, and you need at least two, I can get along just fine still putting in one bottle or can of each ingredient.

The ingredients are listed below in their currently common sizes.

Garlic powder: 3.12 oz
Onion powder: 2.62 oz
Cayenne pepper 2.0 oz
Paprika 2.5 oz
White pepper 1 oz (but you must use two of them)
Black pepper 2 oz
Chili powder 2.5 oz
Salt (0ne container = 1pound ten ounces, I prefer sea salt, but it is hard to find it granulated, and I prefer not to use iodized salt in this mixture.)

An optional ingredient if you are NOT going to put this in a shaker (which I do as Christmas gifts to friends who, if I forget, are wont to call me and ask me where is the Cajun gunpowder) is about an ounce of crushed red peppers. I used to always use it but, since I use it in a shaker, don’t use it much anymore.

A second optional ingredient which some folks really like and some actively dislike is an ounce or two of oregano. I like the fragrance more than the flavor. (Don’t get me wrong I use a LOT of oregano in cooking, just not in Cajun gunpowder. My two favorite sources of spices are at the World Mart Stores and at Wal Mart. (Don’t groan, their product moves so quickly that the spices are usually very fresh. Very fresh makes a big difference.)

To make Cajun gunpowder:

  1. Empty the box of salt into a large bowl.

  2. Empty each bottle of spice into the bowl. (I like to make a pattern like the illustration above. The spices are, (Clockwise, Chili powder at 12 oclock, Cayenne pepper, white pepper, black pepper (course ground black pepper is best), onion powder (Do NOT use onion salt or Garlic Salt), Garlic powder at 11 oclock. You can still see the salt in the center, but I cover this with Paprika.

  3. Mix together thoroughly. Do Not use anything mechanical (Mixer etc) because, if you do, the dust will drive you out of the house. You have never sneezed like you will sneeze if you get this up your nose. I prefer a large wooden spatula or a large serving spoon. After it is thoroughly mixed, I go through it very gently with a wisk to break up any lumps (usually paprika).

  4. I save all the spice bottles. They have shaker tops and I use them to hold the finished spice. (see illustration, all the containers have gunpowder in them). When I finish filling all the bottles, I usually have about a pint of spice left over. I store the bottles in the freezer until use, and use the “big” pint container first. If I am giving gifts I buy appropriate containers (see picture) and fill them from the “big” container.

About three to four tablespoons of Gunpowder spices a “turkey fryer sized pot” of Low country boil. Some folks don’t thing that’s enough but until you have tried it don’t get carried away. I’ll have to admit that I use quite a lot in just boiling a couple of pounds of fresh shrimp.

This stuff will make you a better cook. Sprinkle generously on any meat before it’s cooked. Sprinkle it on fried eggs. Add it to your marinade, especially with beef or pork. I like it (lightly) on salads. For some of the best pork you will ever eat, outside of The Little Pig barbeque in Columbia, S.C. or Vandy’s in Statesboro, GA. (actually there is one in Kansas City that comes close, but I can’t remember the name) take a ten or so pound Boston Butt roast. Mix two or three tablespoons of Cajun Gunpowder with a tablespoon or two of Tone’s Spicy Italian seasoning. Score the meat on the outside then rub it with Extra Virgin Olive oil. Then (being careful to wash your hands VERY thoroughly before you touch your face with your hands afterward—unless you like pain) rub the spice mixture thoroughly all over and into the roast. Put the roast in an open pan (I like a rack, my kids prefer it soaking in the “drippins”) . Put it in the oven at 500 degrees for half an hour then turn the oven down to just between 200 and 225 degrees and let it bake for eight to twelve hours. Eight hours makes a sliceable roast ( but be sure to take its temperature,) twelve hours makes the juiciest “pulled pork” outside a great barbeque house. Your biggest problem will be to get it to the table, because every one who walks past it will snitch some.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Interesting Week End

Interesting Week-End.

I began my Saturday trying to prepare to lead a discussion among the senior men’s group in the Statesboro Ward (Mormon, if you really hate Mormons this is the place to get off, even though it is a minor part of the post).   The subject of the lesson had to do with preparation for the Second Coming of Christ. (Mormons are what I would call “small a” adventists.)  We believe strongly that the Second Coming of Christ is imminent, though imminent is a word open to interpretation since it is clear that Paul and several other apostles of his time believed  that the Second Coming was imminent at that time, and it hasn’t happened yet.  I was having a difficult time coming to grips with a central core for the discussion, and after some study put it aside and went to surf the blogosphere. (I kind of prefer the term “blogoverse” but have decided to go with the flow.)  One of the primary sources to which I always go is the AP newsvine, from which you can get a lot of news “unfiltered” as it were.  The result was my previous post on different views of the “Cartoon Wars”.  It gave me some new insight into the Muslim point of view, including some obvious hyperbole ( For instance, I have a hard time believing that an unbiased survey shows that 67% of Europeans hate Jews, especially if the post did not included all of the recent Muslim immigrants to Europe.)  

If anything, it was, to me, convincing evidence that traditional proselyting techniques would have little sway with many Muslims who, after all make up about one and one half billion of the souls on this earth.  How could they, and others who share the similar types of heavily structured and judgmental societies that exist on our earth be influenced to the stage that anyone of them could be prepared for the moment when “Every knee shall bow and tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ?

For a little while, I had to reflect that every faith, including mine, contains a judgmental group who feels that anyone not like “me” is doomed.  In this case the doomed may include not only those of not of “my”(speaking for anybody in any faith who feels this way) faith, about anybody within my faith who isn’t like “me”.  This could include Baptists who go to dances, Mormons who smoke or drink alcohol, girls who wear mini-skirts, tattooed and pierced people, drug addicts,  readers of pornography, liberal college professors, conservative college professors,  people with beards and funny haircuts, etc., etc,. etc.  These too, I am afraid are not terribly susceptible to most traditional proselyting processes or “calls to repentance” (especially when most of them are sure that they are right and everyone else is wrong.”- somewhat like a lot of Muslims).  The concluding thrust of my discussion (Most of the men in this group have serves proselyting missions, been Bishops (read, lay pastors) or worked hard in some other area of ecclesiastical activity) became the necessity for those who truly wish to influence others for good to be good themselves, that is to attempt to love and be charitable to neighbors, not to be judgmental (unless, of course, you are a judge, or on a jury, where that is your responsibility) to seek out the spirit (Holy Ghost, if you like) and attempt to make this a better world.  The discussion went that way, without any real direction by me, and I left the meeting feeling that if more folks, of more wards, in fact of more faiths, really went in this direction it would be a much healthier world, and that I, at least would try to behave that way.   I will try to love even those whose politics drive me bananas. (read-Teddy Kennedy et.al.)

As we left the church, my wife turned to me and noted that her arthritis was acting up, I wasn’t walking well with my neuropathy, and would I mind if we just went out to eat lunch. (One of those things which come under the condemnation of some in my faith is to frequent merchandising establishments, including restaurants, on Sunday).  I said that I would enjoy it since neither of us was in a good cooking situation.  After some discussion, since we are both on low sugar, low carbohydrate diets, we decided to go to Ryan’s Sunday buffet, have a big salad and a steak or fish and go home)  We did that, went to the buffet, had a good salad, and as I stood up to go to the meat table, I felt a little ataxia (unbalance). This is not unusual for me so I went ahead.  As I returned to the table, I felt a little dizzy even sitting down (This is NOT customary) .   This became more pronounced and I began to feel nauseated.  I excused myself from the table to leave for the restroom at which time, my legs went out from under me and I fell almost on my face.  I turned to my wife and asked her if she could help me get to the restroom, but she was unable to do so.  She asked the server to find someone to help, and a manager came, but between the two of them they were unable to get me erect and moving (260 pounds of dead weight), but the nice manager found a wastepaper basket and held it for me (with the good wife and the manager shielding much of this from the patrons—but not all, I am sure. )   Finally I had someone get me some aspirin, as I felt that I might be having a stroke, and they did, but they also called 911, and, as I was depositing all that fine salad, that steak, and, I suspect, some things that hat just been waiting around inside me to try to escape vertically upward, into the wastebasket,  the ambulance came with EMT’s and they hoisted me on a gurney and got me to the ambulance;  seriously troubling all the poor people who had paid for a pleasant Sunday buffet. (I feel like I ought to seek them out and apologize.  Who wants to pay ten bucks for a meal, and spent the time listening to someone wretch, and then watching that person wheeled out on a gurney.  Good for the digestion??)  

They were most concerned because my body temperature was down to 92, my blood pressure (which, unmedicated, is out of sight) was down to 135 over 40 or so and I was sweating like a pig (diaphoretic or something like that) and white as a sheet.  In the bus they EKG ed me hooked me up to something intravenous, and , thank goodness, removed my new suit coat before they took the scissors to my shirt so that they could check more stuff.   The way to the hospital was interesting.  When you are dizzy and upchucking every corner seems like a 360 degree spin.  Upchucking and trying to breathe through an oxygen mask is another complex situation.  As I got to the hospital they shot me (through the I V)  full of valium and some other stuff.  They, like the guys in the ambulance, couldn’t believe a body temperature below 94 (This IS the south after all) and kept trying new electric thermometers until they finally decided that they weren’t ALL wrong.  Any way, they kept me on a table for five or six hours till my blood pressure went up to normal and my temperature got up to 95, and over the kicking and screaming objections of  my wife shipped me home, where I hit the bed, took some more valium, and didn’t get nauseated at all until Monday morning (when I tried to read the paper).  I spent all day Monday in bed, medicated with Valium and something else (that starts with an M).  Today I went to my own doctor and discovered that (without me being aware of it) they X-rayed my head and my innards, did a whole lot of blood work, and were convinced that I would survive when they sent me home.  (My wife was not so sure).  I seem to have had something called either Peripheral, or Situational (I heard both terms used) Vertigo.  The doctor said that they don’t know the cause, that Valium seems to help (over a three day period), that they treat about ten or twelve of these in old coots and cootesses a year, and that they lose about l out of 20 or so.    It is not something that I look forward to a second time.  To top it off, dear wife went to the dentist this morning to have her teeth cleaned and came home with one fewer seriously infected tooth, and she is taking her turn on the bed in misery. (And she hasn’t even reached three score and ten yet)   At any rate this was a weekend in which I reached some new insights into my self, and my responsibility to mankind, and into my own human frailty (doggone it, I was scared)  

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Cartoon Wars A New(?) View

The Cartoon Wars, A New (?) View.

I was reading the AP Newsvine this afternoon and found some interesting information.
(Posted by the Middle East Media Research Institute)
According to Qatari University lecturer Ali Muhi Al-Din Al-Qardaghi, The Muhammed Cartoons are a Jewish attempt to divert European hatred from the Jews to Muslims.

(From an address by Al-Qardaghi on Al-Jazeera TV on Feb. 3, 2006)
“Honorable brothers, a survey conducted some time ago in Europe showed that 67% of the Europeans hate the Jews. The Jewish leaders convened to decide what to do. They wanted to divert this hatred to the Muslims. This is a Crusader Zionist campaign which is led by the extremist pro-zionist right, headed by George Bush in America. I am sad to say this. This campaign is an attempt to arouse religious Crusader fanaticism among the European peoples, because the were not responsive to the extremist right. They want to do so by provoking the Muslims, and perhaps some inappropriate deeds.”

Al-Qardaghi concludes his address stating that:

“Brothers, the person who lit the fuse was a Jew from Denmark. He wrote a book called The Koran and the Life of Muhammed in which he claimed that Prophet Mohammed was the first Nazi and that he carried out the first Jewish holocaust. He said that the killing of the Jews in Al-Madina was a holocaust. They distorted everything. Then he asked a hundred artists to illustrate it, but they refused, so he approached this pro-Zionist newspaper, which agreed.

The Zionists, Jews and Crusaders are behind this issue.”

According to this view everything the Muslim rioters are doing is the fault of George Bush, the religious right, and the Jews. His is not the only view from that area. From the same source, we find a speech by Iranian leader (Mullah, if I remember right) Ali Khamenei in a speech on Iranian TV on Feb.7, 2006 which states that" Zionist Paid Denmark Cartoonist to Draw Muhanned Cartoon."

This speech spends much of its time criticizing the hypocrisy of so-called free speech in Europe which (according to him) will not tolerate the speech of the many scientists, researchers, historians and journalists which, if allowed free speech would spread doubt about the existence of the Nazi holocaust, (because anyone who does so is “punished, imprisoned, persecuted and deprived of his rights”; but offending what is “holy to one and a half billion Muslims for no reason” is classified as freedom of speech.)

But he does get to the point of his speech which is that a
“profound Zionist plot is at the core of the matter. They are setting the Muslims and the Christians against one another. This is very important for the Zionists – to set the great Muslim community around the world against the Christians, and to set the Christians against the Muslims.”

According to him, the whole flap is the handiwork of the Zionists.
He does find a few moments to attack Bush’s reaction to 9/11 for being a Crusade against the Muslim people, but ultimately it is less the work of George Bush and the religious right and mainly the Zionists who are at fault.

He mentions the Hamas victory in the polls among the Palestinians, and states that wherever free elections are conducted in the Islamic world the result will be the same.
“The victory will go to the people who oppose America."

For a third, and different, but because of the source, a little nerve wracking, point of view: according to an Associated Press release, dated today Sat. Feb. 11, at 2:14 EST, Sheik Abdul Rahman al-Seedes, the Imam of the Grand Mosques in Mecca, and Saudi Arabia’s top cleric has “Called on the world’s Muslims to reject apologies for the ‘slanderous’ caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Mohammed and demanded that the authors and publishers of the cartoons be tried and Punished.”

Further he states “Where in the world with all its agencies and organizations ? (sic) Is there only freedom of expression when it involves insults to Muslims? With one voice. . . we will reject the apology and demand a trial.”

The AP article which includes this message also follows the variety of demonstrations around the world citing the deaths of 12 people relating to the protests. It also mentions that Flemming Rose, who was the culture editor of the Danish paper that initially published the drawings has gone on indefinite leave, though the paper denied that he was ordered to leave because he suggested reprinting Holocaust drawings solicited by an Iranian newspaper. (another interesting development).

The sad thing is that I suspect that all of these speakers and leaders are sincere, and believe that they are telling the truth. The most difficult task in finding some peace, not only in the middle east, but in all areas where Muslims and non-Muslims interact is finding some way to reach a universal perception of fact. (not truth, that would be too much to ask.)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006



Today, the conservative blogs are full of attacks on the lack of class shown by former President Carter and others in using Coretta Scott King’s funeral as a spot to harangue the current President and to make political points.  This is certainly a valid point.  Among those making such points was Political Talk Show Host Rush Limbaugh.

Now, I have listened to Limbaugh off and on, for years, and for a long time, I was, at least to some degree, a fan.  I have found him entertaining, abrasive, informative, and sometimes irritating.  I somewhat resented his thought that anyone who disagrees with him is not conservative.  I was a conservative long enough ago to have been seriously irritated when the Republican party chose Eisenhower over Taft.  That was when Limbaugh, if alive, was probably in diapers.  But, the thing that has begun to offend me, in the past few years is his lack of class.  

For example, I remember an episode a year or so ago (at seventy plus, it is hard to count how many exactly) when he spent most of an hour whining about attending a restaurant or banquet where he feared that his Lexus (or some other luxury car) would not be parked by the valet parking attendant, but would be helpless in the midst of plebian Fords and Chevrolets, the owners of which, as plebians, might carelessly open a car door and “ding” his motorized masterpiece.  There was the clear implication that he was not used to that kind of company.  The big insult (as he perceived it) was that when he determined to back out of the driveway his path was blocked by (with great sarcastic accent) “Seasoned Citizens” who had been waiting for his temper tantrum to subside so that they could go in to eat and who did not instantly submit to the great man’s will and move their cars out of his way.

This afternoon I got in the car, which was tuned to a station that carries his show, he was sermonizing on the evils of those who were using the King funeral to politicize, then, he played a cut of President Clinton’s speech (stating that now we would hear the country’s first Black President).  He then proceeded to  “voice over” Clinton’s words.  His first comments were to be expected.  His hate for Clinton oft overcomes any good sense (I am amused by his frequent (and partially true) diatribes about the only thing the Democrats have going is HATE, when the mere mention of Clinton or Hillary brings his hate for them into such dramatic view.  No Democrat with hate for Bush has ever equaled the incredible hate he demonstrates for the Clintons).  When he began to pick at wording of Clinton’s speech, and make fun of Hillary standing beside him it was just old Rush “goin  on”.  When he began to mock the funeral itself, referring to the body of Mrs. King as “the mummy” implying that the attendees and especially the Clintons were like Egyptian death worshipers, (over and over) he went over the line.  At that point, he had no right to judge the “class” of anyone else.  He showed himself for the classless bigot he has become.  I liked him better when he made me angry.  Now he arouses pity.

Sunday, February 05, 2006



We’ve toured together through some of my high school years. If I didn’t make it clear, I was scared of girls. I actually had a date to a movie with a classmate named Frances when I was in the fifth grade, and she got sick to her stomach before the bus arrived at her home stop. I had another date with a girl who happened also to be one of my best friends when I was in the eighth grade. (I learned in this that having friends is often spoiled by having dates with the friend). We had a date to the movie. On the day before the movie, I broke my hand, so I had a large cast on my right hand for the date. In the movie, I tried the old stretch up your arms (yawn) then let your right hand fall on the back of the seat, and you have your arm around your date gimmick. As I let my hand fall, I whacked her on the side of the head and knocked her silly. I don’t really think that she was as bothered as I was by the event, but it ruined the date, and I was so embarrassed around her after that, that it rather messed up our friendship.

Now, in my first two years of high school, I took ballroom dancing, and was hired by the teacher to teach dancing for a couple of months, after my session was complete. I played football, had leading roles in a couple of plays, and minor roles in our school’s yearly operetta. (We were hell on Victor Herbert and Sigmund Romberg in those days.) I sang in the choir, and became a member of the school’s male quartet as well as joining the debate team. I was also on Boy’s Council (see post on Boy’s Council and Hard Cider earlier) and during my junior year I lettered in football, got my own letter sweater and worked in the campaign for the Student Body President. I went to dances at the third ward Mormon Church most Saturdays (stag, or with a couple of other guys – also stag) where, thanks to the dance lessons (and a lot of teaching by a couple of my cousins) I danced with girls who seemed to appreciate the dancing. In all this time, I had avoided the “date” thing. The two I had had were disasters, and I assumed that any future ones would be the same, so I was terrified of any association with the female sex that involved anything but shared studying (in study hall) and occasional dancing when I went to dances where stag appearance was not frowned on.

After football season, my Junior year, I was given a leading role (given, heck, it was bloody competition) in the yearly operetta. I am not sure, but I think it was Desert Song, by Sigmund Romberg. At Pocatello High School there was a tradition of holding a cast party, only for the leads and speaking parts, at the end of the play. I confess that as a theatre director, I would never have allowed a party which didn’t include everyone who participated in the show (Including all the backstage folks) but that was not the situation at that time and in that place, and the operetta cast party was one of the featured events on the school social calendar.

Early in the rehearsal period, a “speaking cast” meeting was held to plan the party. It was planned as a dinner dance, to be held as a restaurant/bar called the Green Lantern, on the outskirts of town. It was also determined, by vote, at which I sounded a rousing negative, to be a strictly date affair. I was stuck with missing the party, or asking some female person for a date. I confess that this was major trauma. I spent several hours standing by the telephone as if it were going to grab me by the hand and dial some girl’s number for me. I wandered the hall wondering if any of the ladies in my hall would be interested in going to the operetta cast party with me. I contemplated my fellow debaters but determined (without asking) that they were all taken. Time passed, and the cast party came closer, and I still had no date.

Finally we were in dress rehearsal (for which we were all excused from classes for most of the day --I would love to have been able to do that when I was a theatre director, but when I suggested it, school administrators laughed aloud). As we got into one of the final dress rehearsals Louis Weertz (who had another performer name that I don’t remember) an alumnus who had won the Tchaikovsky prize, or something like that as a pianist came back to town to do a Community Concert. He was to play a matinee at our school and an evening performance in Frazier Hall, the university auditorium. When they prepared the stage for the matinee, they sent the entire cast up into the back of the balcony: 1. to see the concert, and 2. to be well out of the way.

As we took our seats for the concert, I found myself sitting next to a very pretty little freshman girl, and, out of the blue, I did it. I asked her to the cast party. Now I don’t know whether it was me, the football letterman, boys council member etc.,or the fact that the cast party was one of the BIG social events of the year, but her answer was “Really?”

When I reassured her that I was serious (having already come to the conclusion that maybe this date asking thing was not as difficult as I had thought it to be) She answered, almost dancing up and down in her seat, “Yes, I’d love to”. With a thousand pound weight removed from my shoulders we ignored most of the piano concert and got more acquainted. Up to that moment, all I knew was that her name was Anne, and she was almost terminally cute. For the remaining few rehearsals we spent a fair amount of offstage time together, and even walked, a little ways, hand in hand. I decided that I well might have fallen into, what might be called, instant love.

When I went to pick her up for the party she looked really lovely, but also very sad and sober, almost in pain. When she said hello, I realized what was different. She had acquired braces on her teeth, that very afternoon. She informed me that she was in some pain, but nothing serious, but that she couldn’t eat anything for the remainder of the day.

We were going to a dinner dance, with a good orchestra, in a “nightclub”, and she was not going to be able to eat a bite of the food, for which I had laid out 15 or 20 bucks (a lot of money in that time). She assured me that, even though she couldn’t eat, that I could go ahead and eat the meal and yadda , yadda, yadda. I knew already, in my heart, that I was not going to be able to sit at the “banquet” and eat in front of her, and I was right.

We went to the dance, danced some, but I discovered that she really didn’t feel well, and probably would have been home in bed if she hadn’t this commitment. We drank some cokes and ginger ale, walked outside under the stars, and danced the final dance (In those days, almost invariably, Good Night Sweetheart,) with her head comfortabley on my shoulder, and then I took her home. When I took her home we talked for a moment, then I told her how much I had enjoyed the evening (as did she), then I put my hand out and shook her hand goodnight. It wasn’t till I was out at my car that I realized that, the way she was standing, she had expected to be kissed goodnight. I had ignored those two luscious lips that were available, even though they were backed up with new braces. What can I say? You don’t get over being terrified of girls in one moment, and my kissing experience, up to that time was limited to my mother and older female relatives. I did ask her out again, and she did accept, and I did (carefully) kiss her goodnight, but for some reason we never got back the easy camaraderie that existed for the five or six days between asking for the date and going out on it.

Anyway, the asking experience was so pleasant that I found myself doing it more and more often to more and more girls and the remainder of my junior year was rather different than the beginning.