Archive for August, 2010

Empty Suit Politics, or, Vengeance for the Quayles

August 31, 2010

Good idea Mr. President.

Take a ten-day vacation in the great State of Martha-chusetts, get all refreshed, then deliver your very first speech with renewed vigor.

The only problem is, you can’t even read your own teleprompter, or should I say,  your life line to any talking point the liberal agenda demands you say.

I know this sounds mean, so please do not take this next point too seriously, I am sticking up for my old friend DQ, but would someone please tell me when the term “wreak havoc” became the term “wreck havoc?”

Please go to second 25 of the video below to see the gaffe.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2010/08/30/obama_it_took_nearly_a_decade_to_dig_the_hole_that_were_in.html

There really should be some type of hierarchical grammatical grading system or maybe something like a golf handicap for this type of thing.

Since Dan Quayle, Vice President, has been drawn and quartered by the liberal press several million times, (no exaggeration here at all), for misspelling the word potato; he added an “e;” then shouldn’t a President be graded on a tougher scale for mispronouncing a word that most fairly read individuals can pronounce, especially in the context of the preceding word?

They even gave you the tip-off word first Mr. President.  What more help do you require to get through a speech?

If you want to see the talking point of the day go back and watch what happens around minute 1.

“For nearly a decade the economy spiraled downward,” another good idea Mr. President, “nearly a decade” is code for eight years under George Bush, we get that.

Except for one thing, the first seven of those eight years were pretty good, until the lies that Barney Frank and Chris Dodd pulled on the American people toppled the real estate market.

Let’s just say this, at minute 3:40, Mr. President is getting some really good practical experience, blaming the minority Republican party for holding up one of his ideas.

After January you will be saying that quite a bit more, so at least you got a few practice swings at that one.

You just won’t be able to call them the minority party any more.

From your perspective your agenda’s wreck will surely wreak.

PS…When I did Spell-Check today the computer highlighted the term “wreck havoc.”   Guess what it asked me?  You got it…”Did you mean ‘wreak havoc.'”  Yes Mr. Computer, I actually did.

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Beethoven-Worthy News and Commentary @ CNN

August 30, 2010

My son sent me a video that a friend of his posted onto his Facebook page.

It is hard-hitting reporting and analysis that I thought one could only find on Fox News.

I stand corrected.

(I am not sure of the date of this but it was probably during the health care debate.)

If you want to see something you may never have seen before on CNN then I recommend you check this out.

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=1277716451&v=wall&story_fbid=147903781896994&ref=notif&notif_t=share_comment

Several of my Facebook friends have commented on this video.

Most likely because of its content and message.

To me the more important issue here is which news network is airing it.

For several years now we have seen the cable news stations like CNN and MSNBC lose major market share to Fox News.

Here is the reason.

“Spin” is not interesting.

Facts are so much better.

I had the privilege of spending the day at Tanglewood in the Berkshires yesterday.

Tanglewood is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO).

Their program was Beethoven’s 9th.

When I was a young boy I have vivid memories of my father finishing dinner and then enjoying the Huntley Brinkley Report each evening from his maroon colored leather Lazy Boy.

Often times I would lay on his lap and peer through his feet to watch with him.

As the program opened every day there was this tremendous piece of music of which I never grew tired.

You guessed it, Beethoven’s 9th; the second movement  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWaouJ6ufLE

If my father was watching the Huntley Brinkley report, it must have meant their news was the most hard-hitting  factually based news program of the era.

He had very little tolerance for spin and was an excellent judge of character.

News based on fact is worthy of introduction by the greatest piece of music ever written.

So, today we honor CNN and of course the commentator, Mr. Jack Cafferty.

I cannot say for sure that  CNN will continue on a path of truth, but I can say they will notice the drumbeat and percussion of clicks that conservatives like us will be registering on this video.

Dear CNN, please come back from the dead.

PS. That Lazy Boy is in my youngest son’s dorm room.  (He is probably sitting in it right now reading this blog.  Hi Marc!)  Things well assembled, like Beethoven’s 9th, a quality chair and factual reporting, never die.

Movie Review: Eat, Pray, Love…Plus Free Husbandly Excuses To Avoid the Pain

August 29, 2010

I have noticed the book around the house for several months now.

The thought of picking it up  and even cracking open one page never crossed my mind.

It must give off some type of “anti-man” aura.

Yesterday was one of those Saturdays when I decided that whatever she wanted, I was going to do joyfully.

It started with a quick trip to Rite Aid to pick up her vitamins and replenish our supply of Tide.

Then we went to Carr Hardware: new iron, new mini-food processor, no problem.

OK, what next dear?

Target.

A new mop; on me… plus more last-minute things for her classroom that she will be returning to next week.

Lunch, on me.

Greek salad with spinach pie…tasty too.

The only thing about it I did not like was the outdated Country Music from the olden days.

“Your Cheatin’ Heart” while eating my feta?…weird combo.

Maybe this was a sign for what was about to happen.  I just didn’t catch it.

More school stuff, (24) copies of her Spelling Dictionary.

No problem.

Off we went to a friend’s office and made them right up…I even bought the 11 x 14 paper for her.

I was doing very well.

4 O’Clock Mass in Lee, so we could hear our daughter-in-law play the organ and sing.

This was the highlight of the day…God must have been so pleased.

Dinner, on me.

A new place in Downtown Pittsfield with gourmet pizza called Baba Louie’s.

Another hit.

Then she said it.

Please take me to the movies?

Sure!

You guessed it…on me.

The brand new Beacon Cinema, right around the corner on North Street, this is awesome.

I never saw it coming…this is lamb to the slaughter time now.

I could go on and on about why men will hate this movie.

I prefer to just say this.

Think of an excuse.

Here are a few:

  • Let me go wash and vacuum your car.
  • Can I go home and clean the basement instead?
  • I was thinking about going to the travel agent while you were at the movie and booking our Bermuda vacation for next year.
  • I am going to apply for a part-time job at Macy’s and then our family gets 75% off everything in the store.

I think you get my point.

For me, this movie was a 2.5 hour bull whipping.

The Allman Brothers had it right…”Sometimes I feel like I’ve been tied to a whipping post.”

As a Catholic/Christian writer my recommendation is this; meditation is good, but only if it is on The Word of God.

They promoted meditating as if it were essential to life.

They are right, except for one problem, meditating apart from God’s Word means that one’s mind is absorbing whatever happens to be floating around in the atmosphere.

Here is something for the free-lance meditation crowd to consider in Mark Chapter 5:

“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

11A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

Here is an excellent website that one can visit daily to read and meditate on The Scriptures.

http://www.usccb.org/nab/

Just click in “Today’s Readings” and you can find what Christians are hearing in their church services around the world each day.

In case you are wondering, Jesus is mentioned one time during this lovely flick, as a curse word.

And another thing, every woman should leave her husband because he wants a baby and does not necessarily have clear-cut direction for his life.

So kind of Ms. Gilbert.

At least the producers allowed her soon-to-be-crapped-on-first-husband to reference the only redeeming word in the entire movie: “vows.”

And one other thought, confused women seeking God should always sleep around.

It is so healthy for their psyche and emotions and clearly minimizes her chance of contracting a disease.

I am quite sure this critique of the movie will irk many readers.

It is not meant to irk, but to alert you of the pitfalls of a pantheistic approach to spiritual growth.

If you need to see a movie about a woman finding herself go see Julia Julia.

Ovens and recipes are far safer for your soul than this life style choice.

Oops…feminists will hate that line…I better go make some hummoos to cover my guilt.

Medical Note to Plastic Surgeons of the Western World:

You will all soon be inundated with requests for fattening of upper lips.

The director of this movie was obsessed with Julia Robert’s mouth.

Good thing none of this took place in Alaska…chapped lips would have killed the mood.

How the Poor Can Save America

August 28, 2010

About 17 years ago I read a book called, The Coming Economic Earthquake, by Larry Burkett.

It was a book that was way ahead of its time and, although I have misplaced it, I have not been able to get the premise out of my head.

The main point was, as the American economy becomes more and more indebted to the world, we risk, at some point seeing the dollar actually have zero value.

We are on that same path now, but at hyper-speed.

I hope that Mr. Burkett comes out with a revised version based on the current administration’s policies.

The reason that the dollar can fail is simple, it is the same reason that companies like Enron can fail; bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy is the “last straw” for a person or business whose debts cannot possibly be paid back at full value.

In a civil version of bankruptcy, the judge then divides the assets of the person or company, liquidates them and then reimburses the creditors with whatever is leftover.

I am not a professionally trained financial advisor, so anything that I am saying today is simply my opinion based on my fears and observations of Scriptures.

The possibility of the United States going bankrupt has never been more real.

Should that happen and the dollar become totally worthless, nothing we are invested in will matter.

The value of gold, real estate, stocks, bonds, etc… will be dramatically reduced and in some cases, the potential is a reduction to zero; like confederate money.

It is times like this that I encourage all of my friends and family to do the basics, in order to prevent this looming disaster from happening.

The first thing we must do is take care of our own financial debt. Eliminate it as quickly as possible.

Part of the lead in to this economic disaster, according to Mr. Burkett, will be hyper inflation, which will send interest rates soaring.

The next best thing we can do is campaign for and vote for fiscal conservatives.

This is not an endorsement of any one party either, this is a seeking out of responsible individuals who will not allow their votes in congress to be cast for things we cannot afford.

The Scott Brown election in Massachusetts is a glimmer of hope for this concept.

Finally, there is one last thing we can do, endorsed by God almighty to save America.

Check this out:

26 The LORD said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

27 Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28 what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city because of five people?”
“If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”

29 Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”
He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”

30 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”
He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”

31 Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”
He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”

32 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”
He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

Now you might say, after reading this, that this is Abraham interceding for God because of a particular sin that is happening in Sodom.

That is true, but the fact is that Abraham is interceding for the righteous, the sin is irrelevant, their goodness is what is keeping the wrath from happening.

The Lord also teaches us to store up our riches in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy them.

Here is the bottom line, in my humble opinion, that which has kept America from bankruptcy and can keep us safe in the future.

We must tithe our blessings to our local church and equally we must give to the poor.

I am sure there are skeptics out there saying, there he goes again, the religious fanatic.

Chisel that on my forehead if you wish.  I do not care.

The facts are clear, all that is in the world is perishing.

Here is more biblical evidence from Malachi 3:10, James 1:27, Hebrews 13:2 and Psalms 37:25 respectively:

10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.

27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

2Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.

25 I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.

Every once great society and nation that turns from God and becomes selfish and careless of those less fortunate has disappeared.

Lord, You know we are weak.

Please search our hearts and help us do what is right.

God bless America.

But also help us bring blessings back home by blessing You.

For whatever we do, to the least of our brothers, we have done to You.

When My Two Grandmothers Conspired to Kill Me

August 27, 2010

Summer; 1974.

I was fourteen, my last summer off before my father had me work at his candy-tobacco warehouse.

I’d decided to try out for the Taconic High Basketball team.

To prepare, I shot hoops at Crosby Jr. High’s asphalt court, a short walk from home.

On top of that, I’d jog a half hour each day, before my shoot-around, beginning at the top of the hill, near the hoops, then down toward the other hill, on the opposite end of the field.

Steep hills–large field.  

I never knew the distance, it didn’t matter, I just wanted more wind.

Being fourteen and working out daily, my appetite grew.

For the first time I could remember, both Sittoos (grandmas) were visiting Loumar Drive.

It sounded good.

My mother’s mom, Mary(real name Umsahiah) and my father’s mom, Emma (real name Esma) were under the same roof.

Both were amazing Lebanese cooks.

They came from an era and culture where a woman’s worth was measured by taste and variety.

If you’ve ever cracked open a Lebanese cookbook, you’ll see it’s more than humoos and falafel.

There are 57 varieties of Tabule and no limit to what you can use for a Kibby foundation.

Each morning they’d compete over who got to make my baydat b’dihan, (eggs with cured meat).  

There’s nothing better and you can’t buy it.

After a meal, sometimes they’d take me aside and ask how I liked their food and then how I liked the other Sittoo’s.

If you have an Aunt Freda, you know what’s coming.

“Taybeen Sittoo” I’d say, (that means doubly delicious, it was my pat answer, no matter what they made).

I was naive enough to think the little kitchen war was cute, until one of the Sittoos pushed the envelope.

(I’ll withhold her identity, hundreds of cousins to protect.)

The other one made Kibby Batata.  

That means fried Kibby balls, with cracked wheat, onion and white potatoes, substituted for lamb.

(One Kibby Batata is the weight of a whole russet).

Being fed by a Sittoo, there’s no such thing as “just a little taste.”  

One is required, by some ancient law, to consume mountainous portions, to avoid insult.

So, there I was, eating the heaviest food I’d ever lifted with a fork, trying to figure out how I could still exercise with 10 lbs of potato and bulgar wheat busting through the walls of my abdomen.

Don’t get me wrong, it tasted wonderful, it just wasn’t right for the mission.

Later that day, after my “shoot-around,” I came back home for a break, it was sweltering.

Kibby Batata Sittoo was in the kitchen and the other Sittoo was waiting to ambush me in the den.  

(She must have sensed something).

The other Sittoo whispered–“How did you like her Kibby Batata?”

I let my guard down for one second…it almost cost me my life.

I whispered back, as quietly as possible–“it was a little heavy,”–foolishly thinking we were sharing a secret.

Without missing a beat, Mob-Mentality Sittoo marched into the kitchen, and to my shock, declared to Kibby Batata Sittoo, loud and proud– “It made him sick!”

Kibby Batata Sittoo was mortified–I was petrified.

The look on her face was like she’d been shot.

She looked over at me and said–“Is this true?  You didn’t like the Kibby Batata?”

I almost couldn’t speak, but the pressure was so great, I popped off, like a cheap balloon.

“No Sittoo! No! I loved it!” I insisted.

“Good”–she said smugly–“have some more!”

Seconds later there were three Kibby balls on a plate and this tiny 4 foot 6 inch woman had my 6 foot frame on a kitchen chair via the half nelson.

I’m not giving up identities here either, they both suffered from midget-Sittoo disease.

It was at that moment I knew they were conspiring to kill me.

“You see, he loves it”–she said to her mortal enemy.

Attempted-murder Sittoo just turned her back and walked away in a huff.

I ate them…and then ate them again… and then ate them again…until they were gone.

That’s the only way to rid the home of such things.

My training regimen suffered, but my memories of that double-Sittoo summer vacation solidified like the Batata ball itself.

The love we have for our families, and even more so for God, requires us to do hard things.

Sacrifice is part of Christianity.

Attending Church, sharing our blessings, works of charity, that no one sees, all help fulfill the Lord’s Prayer.

When we say “thy kingdom come” we’re asking God to use us to bring light, love and mercy to those we encounter.

Just be sure you have lots of ant-acids, especially if you’re sharing God’s love with two Sittoos.

P.S.  I made the team.

Uncle Balloon

August 26, 2010

My father was an “old-school” traveling salesman.

He was on the road, writing orders for his wholesale company the White Star Confectionery, four days a week.

The only days he did not leave the house in a three-piece suit was Friday and Saturday.  On those days he stayed at the office cleaning and stocking shelves and for the most part supervising his management team.  He wore flannel on those days.

He was President of the company, which at the time was a fairly substantial business, topping out at nearly twelve million dollars in annual sales.

Our hey day was the late 50’s and 60’s, before the convenient store chains took over the neighborhoods.

There was one product that we sold, in the “sundries” category, called “pencil balloons.”

I remember they were made by a factory  in Ohio called the Ashland Rubber Company.

We sold them by the 100 count sack.

The Ashland Rubber Company had very little imagination in their packaging.  There was no markings of any kind on the bags, no logo, nothing but clear plastic.

There was just one unique thing they did.

In each case, or gross (they taught me the meaning of that word; 144) of bags they sold,  at the top of the case, you would find a single sheet of instructions on how to make pencil balloon animals.

My dad must have learned this trick years before I was born, because I can never remember a time when he did not know how to make a dog or mouse out of a pencil balloon.

The Bible teaches us that “to whom much is given, much is to be expected.”

One thing my father had “much” of was passion for God and a deep respect and love for children.

He liked to say that “children were the freshest from God.”

I guess I took it for granted, but other children in the neighborhood and the extended family did not.

If he walked into a Christmas party all the kids in the room would flock to him waiting their turn for a twisted balloon.

One of my cousins called him “Uncle Balloon,” because every time she saw him that was the first thing that came out of her mouth.

On the surface it did not seem like much to us, his family, though later on in life it hit me hard what kind of dedication this was.

It was about a week after his funeral.  My mom asked me to come to her house and try on some of my dad’s suits before she gave them away.

They had a walk-in closet and his side must have had at least six or seven high quality dark suits.

As I tried on the first suit, slightly big, as I was skinny back in the late 80’s, I reached down into the right hand pocket and felt something squishy.

There they were, a giant fistful of colored balloons, reds, greens, blues, all from the Ashland Rubber Company.

I thought about it for a second, then it hit me.

I reached into the right pocket of every suit,… yup…the same pending tricks.

When my father died, every suit he owned was stuffed with pencil balloons.

I think often about the cliché that says, “if you were charged with being a Christian, would there be evidence enough to prove it in court?”

This was all the evidence my dad needed to be proven a Christ-like individual.

I later learned how to blow up pencil balloons and taught my kids the same skill.  It has become a family tradition now.

I never had the lung strength that my father had, he needed no pump, just a quick stretch of the rubber, then a bubble sucked into the end; and away he would blow.

He also liked to take his Cross pen out of his shirt pocket and write “Try God” on every animal he made.

His hand writing was so bad I am not sure anyone could read it, but they could easily read the joy in his eyes.

Lord, thank you for people you have put in our lives who were unselfish and kind to us as children.

The world has become so “twisted” with self-serving individuals that kindness to children now must be supervised and questioned.

God help us go back to that simpler time.

Smoke On the Water…Cooler

August 25, 2010

The Taconic High School graduation had ended earlier than we had expected.

Our youngest son Marc was soon to be heading off to College but not before this very special event.

My wife asked if we could take her sisters out to dinner to some place special to commemorate the day.

I am usually a bit too frugal for something like but that day I uncharacteristically embraced the pending expense; probably because my son had made it through 12 years of school without a single need for disciplinary action.

We chose to go to The Pillars, which is just over the State Line in New Lebanon, New York.

Our dinner reservations were for 4 pm,  a late lunch.  The graduation was at 1pm and we were back  at 23 Euclid Ave, my house by 2:30 just killing time.

I remember looking at my watch at 3:30 saying, “we should probably go now,”  but before we left I needed a drink of spring water from our water cooler.

Our water cooler was the kind you rent from water distributors that had a hot water and cold water spout on each side.

There was no more water in the cold side, so I hoisted a big 5 gallon jug and plopped it right down onto the self-starting platform the coolers provide.

I could both hear and see the glug of the bubbles initiating the new bottle.  I drew myself a cup of water, not even cold yet, but still delicious and then rounded everyone up for the quick 15 minute trek over the mountain.

I could practically taste the popovers as we drove over, almost in disbelief that our baby was done with school.

The nest was about to be truly emptied.

Everyone enjoyed dinner, there were several courses, including their awesome candied carrots.

Finally the waitress cleared the table, “anyone ready for dessert?”

Even I was pushing it, (once again this is rare, since the cost of desserts can jump your bill quite a bit) no takers, thankfully…and it was not because of the cost.

When we returned home to 23 Euclid Ave, I dropped my family off at the side door and then drove around back toward the garage.

As I was getting out of the car I heard screams….”Fire! The House is on Fire!”

Since this was June at 6pm the inside of my kitchen should not have looked pitch black.  I cautiously opened the door and turned on the light…which did almost nothing to illuminate the room.

Again I cautiously walked inside, (with my wife and daughter screaming at me not to go inside) and to my amazement there was my water cooler completely engulfed in flames.

It was obvious something had to be done and I was so disheveled by the commotion of the fire that I started to hurl water on it, one cup at a time from my sink.

Thankfully our next door neighbor and tenant Stefan came across the driveway with his Landlord supplied fire extinguisher and said, “do you need this?”

Within 30 seconds the fire was out, but not before an interior wall had been burned and the entire house had filled with smoke.

The smoke itself was oil based as the bottle from the cooler was what had been the primary fuel for the fire.

Apparently the hot water side of the cooler must have run dry and instead of short circuiting, it just kept heating up and finally caused the cooler to collapse on itself.

The heating element in the hot water side caught the plastic bottle on fire.

There was one piece of the puzzle that needed explaining….I had just replaced that bottle before we left for dinner and there were 5 gallons of water (minus one Dixie cup) unaccounted for.

The Pittsfield Fire Department was there within 2 minutes of our 911 calls and they began aerating the house immediately.

I was congratulated several times by the firefighters too.

As they interviewed me to try to reconstruct the fire I had to tell them about the new jug of water.  I also walked them into the basement and showed them there was only about a quart of water that had seeped through the floors to the lower level of the house.

They concluded that the 5 gallon jug of water I had just put on the  cooler, only seconds before we left the house, acted like a sprinkler system containing the fire.

Had that not happened and had any further delays occurred, like guests accepting my offer for dessert, we might have lost our home.

The Epistle of Jude, vs 23 says this:

23snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

God works in wonderful and mysterious ways.  I will never forget the stellar example that my son left behind, undoing many of my sins,  as a Taconic High School graduate.

I will also never forget the day God saved our home because I needed a Dixie cup full of water.

Double-Play On Skis (Mark Belanger Memories)

August 24, 2010

Every child, especially boys who love sports, have dreams about athletic accomplishments, or meeting players they admire.

When I was in sixth grade, my cousins Billy and John begged me to take up skiing, so I could spend Saturdays with them at Bousquet’s Ski Area.

No one in my family had ever taken skiing seriously and it took a bit of convincing to persuade my dad to let me join in.

Up until that time my dreams of sports were focused on baseball.  I  never was very good, but I didn’t know it yet.

My dad had a salesman working for him named Ronnie.

Ronnie was an expert skier and dad asked him to take me to Besse Clarke’s on North Street to set me up.

Back then there were few options for sporting goods, most were on North Street.  Dad was also friends with Sam, the manager of the sporting goods department.

As we walked over from Columbus Ave. to North Street, Ronnie said something that got me excited.

I have a surprise for you when we get there.

What could that mean, I thought?

When we walked up to the second floor and turned the corner; there was the surprise; “The Blade.”

“The Blade” was the World Series winning shortstop from the Baltimore Orioles, Mark Belanger, who was going to sell us my new skis.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Belanger

I could hardly believe what was happening.

There was a legend I’d only seen on TV, hundreds of times, helping me choose skis, boots, bindings and poles.

It was the highlight of my imaginary baseball career.

Mark was a Pittsfield High School grad.

In those days ball players were paid an average wage and still needed winter jobs in their home towns.

In many ways our “go-nuts-society-over-celebrities” is the same now as it was then, except for one thing, there wasn’t as much money involved.

Thirty years later Mark passed away from the effects of cancer.

I’m not sure how she knew my wife was a vocalist, but Mark’s wife contacted Natalie and asked her to sing for her husband’s funeral Mass at St. Joseph’s Church.

There was no way I was going to miss this, so I volunteered to help carry the music stand to the balcony.

Mark’s funeral was filled with other local celebrities, like Silvio O. Conte our Congressman, who told Natalie after Mass he wanted her to sing at his funeral, because she sang so well.

As I watched the Mass and ceremony unfold, through clouded eyes, I thought about the kind way Mark treated me as an 11-year-old kid with nothing more than a big dumb grin on my face.

I was clearly no celebrity.

I was just a fan.

I can still see him writing up the slip for the ski equipment by hand and then using an adding machine to double-check the math.

No money was exchanged.  Dad had “an account.”

That didn’t mean a credit card, it just meant he was “good” for the money and he’d have my mom mail a check as soon as the bill came, or usually before it came.

Lord, thank you for the simpler times and memories in our lives that we’ve all had.

Like the apostles, who said, can anything good come out of Nazareth in John 1; You allowed something good to come out of my hometown Pittsfield.

Nazareth! Can anything good come from there? Nathanael asked.

Come and see, said Philip.

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.

I can proudly say, there was nothing false about this great, yet humble man.

The President’s Waterloo (Exposed by Smart Americans)

August 23, 2010

It is easy to tell when the liberals are on the run.  Their headlines try harder than ever to undue damage done by their own people by accusing free thinking Americans of being “dumb.”

Good luck with that approach.  When is the last time any of us called someone “dumb” and got a positive result out of it?

This article in the Chicago Tribune is a perfect example: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-08-22/news/ct-oped-0822-page_1_new-polls-pew-research-center-poll-muslim

When free thinking Israeli’s in the 1940’s were screaming that Hitler was no Christian, but that he was just a murdering lunatic, were they considered dumb?

Is it possible that the President is to blame for his own predicament?

Question.  Who was the first and now only president to skip services on Easter Sunday?

Answer: You guessed it, I can read your thoughts.  In fact my headlines say “You Are Smart.”

Americans who are coming to the conclusion that the President is Muslim are doing so, not based on their ignorance, but based on observance of his words and actions.

Jesus had no problem confronting Scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23, calling them out based on their actions:

13“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

I can see the headline now, in the Jerusalem Tablet, written by EJ “Bar” Dionne the famous columnist….

“Jesus and His followers ‘wrongly’ think that the Scribes and Pharisees are hypocrites,” he might go on to say, “such crack pottery coming from leaders of this movement they call the ‘Way,’  they are almost as dumb as tea-partiers.”

Can anyone here the word “Waterloo” rustling in the wind?

My theory is  that the President has no religion, and that he is nothing more than a secular humanist trying to prove to everyone how smart he is by acting like an expert on all subjects.

The problem for the Democrats is that many Americans, who are within their right to think whatever they want, are coming to the conclusion that he is Muslim.

Give a “know it all” a shovel and he will dig his own grave, every time.

The Banner Ad-itude

August 22, 2010

My wife’s mini-van, which we used over the weekend to move our youngest son back into college, is like a Christian book store.

There are CD’s of Steven Curtis Chapman, and Joel Osteen everywhere. 

There is a photo of Jesus, as described by Sister Faustina depicting her vision of the Savior, slipped in front of her speedometer.

Since the drive to Burlington, VT took a while, we indulged and had our car parked by the Hotel valet.

When we asked to have the van retrieved for our first trip out, the hotel valet spoke up as he handed me the keys.

“It is nice to see that picture of Jesus you have in your car,” he said.

What a pleasant surprise to know our little rolling book store inspired fellowship between two total strangers.

As it turns out, this young man was involved in a church there in town, which I was not familiar with.

I told him that we were Roman Catholics and he said he did not know Catholics who shared their faith like I did.

He told me he was struggling in a few areas of his life so I took my chances and invited him to find my daily reflection on the internet.

The path we walk brings us into contact with broken-hearted people every day.

The Apostle Peter in chapter 3 said this:

15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…

There are two main points here. 

Bringing the Gospel to the world is point one, but doing it within our every day lives is the second and more important lesson here.

That is the why Peter puts an emphasis on being prepared and being gentle.

The things we say and do in our daily lives can almost be like a banner ad on a website.

People may be visiting us for one thing but be reminded of something more important by our spirit of gentleness and respect.

No matter who we are, blessed with eloquence or shy as a wall flyer, our positive attitude is required for us to have any chance of communicating truth to those around us.