Ten Years After

…. with apologies to the late great Alvin Lee. It has nothing to with him or the band, just that I found this from exactly 10 years ago today and thought it worth a second look.

Holy Hell, It’s Christmas

Ace is a food and beverage director who has worked for numerous gigantic operations like Hilton, Sheraton, half a dozen casino hotels in Jersey and Vegas, etc. Every 16 – 18 months he flames out and quits, only to get rehired after a few weeks. This is the first Christmas season he’s had off since 1992. I meet him for a drink. Merry Christmas, Ace.

“Christmas season my puckered nuts,” he says.

Not your favorite time of year, I guess.

“Hey, I got nothing against Christmas,” he says, “just don’t get all religious on me. Christmas got nothin’ to do with Jesus, Christians, or Peace on Frickin Earth. It’s all about moolah. It’s all about merchandise, sales, and makin’ the year’s profits in a scant 8 weeks time. It’s all about the cash register ringin’ like jingle bells. It’s all about hotel and plane reservations, tables of 8, stockin’ the bar, last minute cancellations….”

Got it, Ace. But nothing against Christmas, right?

“Don’t get me wrong. I got family goes to Church every day. My mother wears out rosary strings like a fag goes through anal beads. But that’s not what this shit we call Christmas is. Jesus comes back and sees how we act he turns his ass around, crawls back into the cave, and slams the fuckin rock shut.”

Speaking of reservations, Ace, you made yours in hell yet?

SalvationArmy.jpg“This ‘Jesus is the Reason for the Season’ crap pickles my pecker. The reason for the season is the sheckels. End of story. You want Jesus this time of year, leave a message. He’ll be back when all this insanity dies down and people go back to brutalizing one another like normal.”

You and Bill O’Reilly in the same room would make for an interesting party.

“It’s like these dimwits out there complaining about politicians being ‘too political.’ The hell else are they supposed to be? It’s their job to be political. They get paid. Same thing about malls, bars, and party stores: Christmas is their job. Christmas is a retail operation. That’s why we have the damn holiday to begin with.”

Brothers and sisters let me hear an “amen.”

“You want Christians you can find ’em, but it’s hard this time of year. Try the Salvation Army — and they do it every day, not just Christmas. But that’s the exception. What Christmas really is Saint Shitsingiggles and his little elves humpin the reindeer on the front lawn covered in fake snow and green and red lights. It’s piled up presents under the plastic tree and little greedhead kiddies stealing cookies and candies from their littler brothers and sisters. It’s drunken accountants gropin’ the office manager’s tits at office parties. That’s the American Fuckin Way, and Christmas is an American Fuckin Holiday. What, you don’t know this? Ain’t you got eyes in your head?”

Ace and I drain our drinks, shake hands, and head our separate ways. I figure that now
I’ve heard the seasonal sermon, I can skip church this year — not that I ever go anyway. But I take Ace’s advice, and send some money to the Salvation Army. They’ll know what to do with it.

Posted in Golden Oldies (Deja Vu All Over Again) | 3 Comments

Happy Birthday!

No, not you, Jesus — first we have a real immortal.

ludwig

Ludwig van Beethoven

December 16, 1770 – March 26, 1827

Posted in People Who Died, Died | 4 Comments

Booth With a View

tsa-vintageThe Season, as it’s known in commercial circles, began in earnest on Friday, even while the turkey feathers were still flying. Can you hear the pleasant jingling sound of cash registers ringing up sales? Oh, wait, it’s all digital now. Sad.

If I want to think fondly about the Christmas season, I turn my thoughts to The Salvation Army, the one church in this country that never loses sight of what the holiday is all about, and focuses its energy on providing aid to the neediest.

No, I’m not a Christian, let alone a Salvationist: if anything, I’m an Omnibulist. But I’ve had the pleasure to know and work with many Salvation Army clergy and laypersons, and they are among the finest, hard-working, most caring and inspirational people I’ve ever met.

I found this typewritten document on the wall of an office in a Salvation Army facility in Gainesville and copied it. Only recently was I able to authenticate it (the link is provided below). I haul it out now and then to reread, especially when preparing to meet with prospective clients with the idea that I can somehow share General Booth’s indomitable spirit and commitment with them. I usually fail. But then, well, read on…..

1910 Sermon by William Booth

Founder, The Salvation Army

I am glad you are enjoying yourselves. The Salvationist is the friend of happiness. Making Heaven on Earth is our business. Serve the Lord with gladness is one of our favourite mottoes.

So I am pleased that you are pleased.

But amidst all your joys don’t forget the sons and daughters of misery. Did you ever visit them? Come away and let us make a call or two.

Here is a home, six in a family. They eat and drink and sleep and sicken and die in the same chamber.

Here is a drunkard’s hovel, void of furniture, wife a skeleton, children in rags, Father maltreating the victims of his neglect.

Here are the unemployed, wandering about, seeking work and finding none.

Yonder are the wretched criminals cradled in crime, passing in and out of prison all the time.

There are the daughters of shame, diseased and wrong and ruined, traveling down the dark incline to an early grave.

There are the children, fighting in the gutter, going hungry to school, growing up to fill their parents’ places.

Brought it all on themselves, do you say? Perhaps so, but that does not excuse us from assisting them.

You don’t demand a certificate of virtue before you drag some drowning creature out of the water, nor the assurance that a man has paid his rent before you deliver him from the burning building.

But what shall we do? Content ourselves by singing a hymn, offering a prayer, or giving a little good advice?

NO! Ten Thousand Times, NO!

Salvation Army Logo

Salvation Army Logo

We will pity them, feed them, reclaim them, employ them. Perhaps we shall fail, and many times, quite likely. But our business is to help them all the same, and that in the most practical, economical, and Christ-like manner.

So let us hasten to the rescue for the sake of our own peace, the poor wretches themselves, the innocent children, and the Saviour of us all.

But you must help with the means. And, as there is nothing like the present, who in this company will lend a hand by taking up the collection?

http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/mydownloads/viewcat.php?op=&cid=16

 

 

Posted in Gen. Snark, Maj. Snafu, Corp. Punishment | 13 Comments

Pin Number

In the days since Trump’s election, people have begun placing a single pin on their shirts to convey a message of support — of safety, and protection — to minorities, women, immigrants and others who may feel threatened by the strident rhetoric that carried the Republican billionaire to the White House.

The safety pin social media movement gained prominence in Britain on Twitter as a sign of solidarity with immigrant and minority populations facing a reported surge in hate crimes after the Brexit vote in June, with its strong anti-immigrant undertones.

Since the US election, the phenomenon has started catching on across the Atlantic — Yahoo news

Sure, I guess — so long as you’re not required to stick it through your cheek or tongue or eyelid. I remember extracting a few from my neck when I forgot about when hurriedly dressing in fresh laundry from the cleaners. Bloody unpleasant.

pinnedBut I’ll pass on this statement of solidarity, in part because I resist trends of any sort, but also because I’ve always thought of myself as a minority anyway. (Note to readers: Cue, then can, any reference to the psychobabble term “self-identified.” Thank you.) Given my ethnic roots, I’m not exactly white like a WASP, and politically, disgusted by conservatives and repulsed by liberals, I’m all over the map — and a registered Green. But most of all, I’m a card-carrying member of the single most distrusted and hated collection of human beings on the planet: atheists!

But lo and behold, even that is changing under Trumpf’s America:

About 40 percent of Americans say atheists “do not at all agree” with their vision of America, according to a new study from sociologists at the University of Minnesota who compared Americans’ perceptions of minority faith and racial groups.

But the study marks a grimmer milestone — Americans’ disapproval of Muslims has jumped to 45.5 percent from just over 26 percent 10 years ago, the last time the question was asked.– Religion news

It’s never easy falling out of first place — ask Hillary if you can find her — and given the direction America is going, I don’t think atheists will regain the lead anytime soon. Even though more and more Americans every day abandon their traditional religious beliefs and practices, they still seem to retain in their heart of hearts a healthy irrational bias against atheists, as well as a deplorable ignorance of Islam. Whatever else was demonstrated in this election, that sure as hell was.

So buckle down — or pin up! — for a long season, atheists everywhere — we’re not going to pull ahead in the race to the bottom anytime soon.

Posted in Shaken and Stirred | 5 Comments

Bye Bye Berkeley

After years of neglect perpetrated by a continuing state of abject denial exercised by one of this household’s occupants — wanna guess which one? — we’re making repairs. New roof. Holes in ceiling (where leaks rendered destruction) sealed up, entire exterior repainted, replace gutters, repaint interior, rework landscaping, and more. Chaos abounds inside and out.

outboundI vowed to divest myself of broken-down bookshelves and deteriorating books I will never open again. These number in the hundreds, including most of the philosophy texts I’ve carted around and stored since my graduate school years ended in the middle 70s. Adieu, Aristotle! S’long, Sartre! Hit the road, Russell! Bye-bye, Berkeley! Just Kant take it anymore.

It’s more cathartic than sad, which pleasantly surprises me. Here’s an example of what makes this relatively easy:

The distinction us illustrated by the pair of statements ‘my hand moves,’ expressing a mere event, and ‘I move my hand,’ expressing an act. The existence of a distinction here is evident: whereas ‘I move my hand’ entails ‘my hand moves,’ it is not the case that my hand moves only if I move my hand, since the movement might be caused by someone else or might be entirely reflexive. Both statements might refer to the same bodily movement, but in one there is reference to an agent that is lacking in the other. If ‘my hand moves’ is true, but not ‘I move my hand,’ then the former expresses an evet devoid of agency on the part of the speaker. If the latter is true, however, it expresses an act.  — Kenneth M. Sayre, Consciousness: A Philosophical Study of Minds and Machines, 1969, pp 15-16.

Thousands of pages of mind numbing shit like this, all underlined and annotated by an eager young student out to earn an advanced degree in an totally unemployable field of study. Working through nights until sunrise, processing this nitpicking drivel into thesis chapters, counting pin-dancing angels and analyzing glasses neither half-empty nor half-full, but half-assed.  To quote a famous American philosopher, “Seven years of college education wasted.”

And people wanna know what the hell is wrong with my brane? After this?

Thousands of books remain in this house, mostly the fiction I’ve pursued so happily over the last 30 some years. Disposing of boxes and bags of unwanted texts frees up not only space on remaining bookshelves, but floor space, both of which in short supply given our clutter-loving instincts and packrat habits. We both promised one another we’d winnow further, if only to reduce the layers of dust, mildew, pollen, and reptile droppings that have accumulated unseen but not unnoticed.

As for the departing volumes, my hope is they’ll find their way into the hands of readers who, for their own perverse reasons, want to immerse themselves in the intellectual anguish this rot inspires. Hume-ever they may be.

Posted in Shaken and Stirred | 7 Comments

Chicagapologists

Editor’s Note: Important to get this up before the game tonight to demonstrate my prognosticatory talent (True, I control the Delete button.)

Cubs fans everywhere lately — you notice? They make great losers. It’s only when they rebirth themselves as something else that they grow tiresome. Like the red-faced oaf I found myself next to at the foot binder’s on Wednesday.

nxtyr“Well, it was a great season.”

Yeah, if you like losing. You like losing?

“We didn’t lose. We won 103 games — the best record in the majors. Seven players to the All-Star game, including the entire infield, first time since the 1963 Cardinals. Broke a 70 year drought just by getting to the World Serious.”

And then lost.

“Take the long view. It’d been years since the Cubs had any real shot at doing something. The last time we finished in 1st was ’98, and we got promptly eliminated. So they tore up the team, brought in the new guy Epstein who turned the RedSox around, and started the rebuild.

“It was agony. In 2012 we lost 101 games, so losing 96 the next year felt like an improvement. In 2014 it was less than 90, and for the first time you could see a real team gelling in there. Boom! 2015 they win 97 games, but it’s a tough division that season and it’s only good for 3rd place. And then this year, they arrive. First place, 17 games ahead of the Cards. Beat the Giants, beat the Dodgers, win the pennant, head for the Serious.”

Where they lose.

“Yeah, okay. It was a great team, a great effort, and a great story, okay? That ain’t losin.”

No, that ain’t losing. Losing is what you did actually playing the World Series. It’s like you went to a great restaurant, beautiful ambiance, great service, and they bring you empty plates. Satisfied? remember to tip your server. Or hey — you meet this beautiful girl, you get her home, you hit the sack…..

“Yeah yeah yeah stop right there. You ask any Cub fan, and there’s millions everywhere, how they liked this season and they’ll tell you it’s the greatest one they remember and had the times of their lives.”

That’s because anyone who could remember the last World Series they won has been dead for decades. But still voting somewhere in Chicago. Hey, I’m glad you had a good time losing. You sound just like Red Sox fan before they broke through. Yankees fans have a term for this: Loosuhz.

“Yeah, well up theirs. Just wait’ll next year.”

Heard that before, too. Chicagapoligists. They want to mark everything on a curve, and they lose out anyway.

Posted in Playing With Balls | 7 Comments

And You Thought CREP* Was Bad

rpofWe have telephones in the house that call out the name of the caller. They’re a speech therapist’s nightmare. They also can’t differentiate between a name and an acronym, so when (e.g.) the call comes from an entity shown as CEO Ltd, the phone hollers, “Call from Cheeo Litid.”

Harmless enough especially when 90% of the time I don’t answer the goddam phone anyway as it’s almost always somebody selling something, a wrong number, or a robot. As Joe Walsh advised, “Just leave a message/Maybe I’ll call.”

Then there’s the endless political calls. On a daily basis, now, we’re getting calls from the Republican Party of Florida (god alone knows why). This shows up on the phone’s display as RPOF, and is announced as, “Call from Rip-Off.”

Rip-Off. Heh. Must be a smart phone, after all.

*For the youngsters: CREP (pronounced CREEP) was the “Committee to Re-Elect the President,” a fine American named Richard Nixon.

Posted in Shaken and Stirred | 3 Comments