Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dennis was menaced but I had to save his bippy

There's something about that junior high age.


Remember the movie "Sandlot"?


Something about the friends of your adolescence makes them special for the rest of your life.



The music: Beatles, Beach boys, and Motown.


The moments: first kiss, first cigarette,  Kent State.


The culture: Laugh-in, Woodstock, The Summer of Love.


When God changed me from a child into someone who needed deodorant, my friends went through the same thing.


The events that occurred during that part of our lives are seared into our memory banks.


Here's one of my personal favorites.


My best friend back then was Dennis Simoson.


We were headed for the seventh grade at the end of that carefree summer.


Too young for real jobs, we could sense that summers where no one expected you to do anything constructive were coming to an end.


It was a steamy day in  August.


My older sister Joanie invited a few friends over for a dip in the pool.


Ninth-grade girls in our backyard.


In bathing suits!


For 12-year-old boys, nothing could've been more exciting.


The girls each found an innertube so they could float serenely on the water, working on their tans.


Now what does the  typical junior high male do when confronted with older women in bikinis lounging in the hot sun on the surface of a pool?




They were perfectly executed.


The sudden disruption of  water dislodged  each bathing beauty.


We took off  at top speed out of the backyard and  headed for the sideyard fence.


That  fence had guaranteed my escape many times over the years.


It was a high chain-link style that we as athletes could scale and hop over easily.


But that day the fence became our enemy.


As I cleared the top,  I landed on the other side,  ready to go into my sprint.


I turned to look back in horror.


There was Dennis.


His suit caught in one of the chain links along the top edge of the fence.


Ripped to shreds.


My buddy was swinging from left to right.


He was just about naked.


The only thing left from the swim trunks was sort of like a G string.


A G string  Dennis couldn't get out of, his feet dangling about 2 feet off the ground.


Fear engulfed his face.


Angry teenage girls were about to storm onto the scene.


I thought of fleeing.


But the thought of poor Dennis facing the girls in his exposed state was too much to bear.


He would never live it down.


I  lifted him, creating enough slack in the shreds of the suit so that he could untangle it.


We hid in the bushes, Dennis looking  like Adam before the invention of fig leaves.


The ladies never found us and gave up the search.


I snuck into the house and grabbed a pair of shorts for the boy who almost made embarrassment history.


Do you have a classic story from back when you were coming of age?


You bet your bippy.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Be compassionate and omit the asterisk in your life

Today I want to talk about the asterisk.


It's the little escape hatch supposedly pro-life politicians use.


Here's the way the asterisk works.


I'm  pro-life.*


*Except in the case of rape or incest.


And it's not just politicians.


It's regular citizens who profess dedication to protection of the unborn, but who feel a sense of compassion for rape victims.


This compassion, to them, means that those who have suffered the unspeakable crime of rape should be permitted to abort.


There is some appeal in this approach.


After all, hasn't a rape victim been through enough?


Don't we perpetuate the ghastly crime by imposing nine months of carrying and then delivering the fruit of this horrific act?


That is too much for anyone to bear.


Christian love, it is argued, means tenderness for the traumatized victim of sexual violence.


Senate candidate Richard Mourdock was excoriated last fall because of his response to a question about abortion and rape.


He did not support abortion rights in this circumstance, because "God intended it to happen."


An asterisk free response.


The media launched a vicious attack.


What kind of demonic person would call rape part of God's plan?


But Mourdock didn't mean that God plans the rape.


He meant that God planned, for whatever reason, that a precious child emanate from this heinous act.


In other words, God did not plan the rape, but he did intend that a beautiful new child should emerge.


A child that deserves the chance to live and breathe on God's earth.


Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the child's conception.


The Senate candidate from Indiana felt it was wrong to punish an innocent child with a death sentence for an act it had nothing to do with.


He did embrace compassion.


Compassion for the unborn child.


Mourdock's courageous position cost him the election.


What do you think?


Before you answer that, I'd like you to meet someone.


His name is Jason Lovins.


His popular rock band tours America, selling CDs and packing in crowds at their concerts.


Jason's band is booked solid.


His mother was brutally raped at age 15.


Yes, the offender was evil.


But the little baby that resulted was not.


The teenage girl chose life, supported by her family.


Her mother was decimated by the news of what had happened to her precious daughter.


But she couldn't imagine ending the life of the new soul that was without fault.


And because of this, Jason was born.


Are you truly compassionate?


Contact Jason Lovins.


If you go to his website,, you'll find several ways to communicate with him.


Would you wish him into oblivion because you would've supported his wounded mother's right to send his dismembered prenatal body to a medical waste dump?



With loving sensitivity for the involuntarily impregnated, true compassion chooses life.


If you are pro-life, be pro-life.


The gifts  Jason Lovins is giving the world cry out to you to carry out the following important task.


Lose the asterisk.





Thursday, January 17, 2013

Joan of Arc homeland brings America's decline into focus

Hating the French.


It used to be easy.


Take the World War Two debt.


America saves their ungrateful keisters from Hitler and they never paid back the fortune we poured into the effort.


Andy Rooney once wrote about his eyewitness to chutzpah.


De Gaulle marching triumphantly into Paris like a liberator.


He led from the rear, while American blood paved the way for his cheesy return, riding a Sherman tank manufactured in Detroit.


And the snobbery.


It seems like the French national pastime is turning one's nose up at an American tourist who can't tell the difference between a baguette and a biscuit.


Anti-French sentiment reached a fever pitch in 2003,  when American troops entered Baghdad to overthrow Saddam Hussein.


On the floor of the United Nations, the French ambassador attacked American policy.


Outraged, an American congressman from Ohio  ordered the Capitol cafeteria chef to take french fries off the menu.


Last week  it all changed.


A French Phoenix has risen from the ashes of its condescending and ungrateful reputation.


Let's take Mali.


The French sent troops to assist the legally constituted Mali government under attack from Al Qaeda terrorists.


Who knew that the French would  lead the world in a noble crusade against jihadist bullies?


Raising cheers from Americans.


Another incident restored my faith in the land of Victor Hugo.


The streets of Paris were filled with an anti-gay marriage demonstration.


With a crowd  estimated as high as one million, it was acknowledged by French officials as the largest gathering  in decades.


Protesting the legalization of gay marriage.


In France!


And it wasn't just a bunch of those nasty Christians.


Jews, Muslims, and atheists joined the effort in large numbers.


Their message?




Government sanctioned same sex marriage puts the desires of adults over the needs of children.


Children who deserve the benefit of being raised in the wholesome environment of a one-man one-woman relationship.


These are the French!


I love blunt talk from a sophisticated culture.


I should've guessed the French would embrace the idea of heterosexual unions over the homosexual variety.


After all, who can forget Maurice Chevalier in "Gigi" singing,  "Thank heaven for little girls, without them what would little boys do?"


Here's the point.


The French are back in my good graces.


A long time ago, a French general named Lafayette came to the aid of George Washington to help defeat King George's redcoats.


Freedom took root and the American experiment carries on today.


 I hope our international rockstar president is paying attention.


Obama's timid stance in facing international challenges has projected a picture of a neutered America.




His recent press conference surrounded by children as he presented anti-gun initiatives belies his  hypocrisy.


He publicly embraces same-sex marriage despite its threat to the well-being of children.


In my book, the French are standing proud.


How about America, Mr. President?


Do we stand for anything anymore?


A message for you, Monsieur Baraque.


Vive la France!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Modern device terrorizes slightly neurotic citizen

I have an all-powerful and all-knowing enemy.


It is cold, uncaring.




And it is cunning.


Thwarting me at every turn.


The Techno-Toilet.


You've seen them.


They're becoming more  common in places like airports and libraries.


The flushing occurs not with your hand on  stainless steel.


The eye ball detects your departure from the plastic seat.


Signaling the auto flush.


That's how it's supposed to work.


But my cyborg nemesis seeks to humiliate me.


Here's the frightening story.


A beautiful shrine in downtown Cleveland has become a peaceful retreat for me three or four times each month.


About a year ago, these modern toilets were installed.


I guess the theory behind them goes something like this.


The 'lectro flush takes the Shakespearean question  "to flush or not to flush" out of your hands, so to speak.


This device will flush one time when it decides you have finished doing your duty.


No more wasting water by holding a flush-a-thon in the john.


And for the forgetful?


Don't worry.


The eye sees all and will take care of that last task that usually punctuates your encounter with American Standard.


I sort of miss that final handshake.


No time to say "au revoir".


I remember how mom and dad used to stand next to the training potty, allowing me to beam with pride, basking in the glory of my creation.


Anyway, getting back to my story, the problem is that this potty from outer space won't flush.


I mean it won't flush for me.


I waive my hands in front of the all-knowing eye.




Then I put my foot up there: maybe it detects dense body parts only.


No reaction.



I try blocking what I presume is the infrared beam at various distances.


Still nothing.


Now what do I do?


I don't want someone to come in after me and wonder what jerk left this distasteful surprise.






Maybe I should try to reason with it.


But I know better.


It enjoys torturing me like this.


I finally leave, checking to see who might be waiting outside to use the facility.


I am defeated.


Members of the public, hear me.


I am a caring person.


Curse me not.


I am no inconsiderate slob.


I am a victim of this cold beast who will not do me the courtesy of blinking away the fruit of my bowels.


Pity me.


I will prevail in the end.


I have ordered a universal remote control device that will restore my power over plumbing.


And when that day comes, I shall leave the door open for my successors to the throne.


Never to be accused again of the most vile act of thoughtlessness.


And until that day comes, my friends, I bid you adieu.


Or do I mean doo-doo?



Friday, January 4, 2013

Open or Closed? Here's a vote for memories over molecules

Years ago, my Gran passed away.


Gran was the name we called my mother's father.


He was full of personality.


Blind in his later years, he continued playing piano using unique chords reminiscent of George Shearing.


An elegant beauty to his music.


He established our family's Society of Chocolate Lovers, making a fudge with his secret formula  passed down the ages and carefully guarded by his grandchildren.


Visiting Cleveland, he made a beeline for Mitchell's.


Mitchell's is a tiny shop in Cleveland Heights where Mr. Mitchell makes  concoctions that put this legendary candy emporium on the map when his mom and dad established it in 1939.


A fluffy whipped mint  marshmallow filling encased in a thick dark chocolate shell.


I've never tasted anything as unique and delicious anywhere on earth.


Gran was a West Point graduate  who charged up San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt.


He was filled with what the French call "Joie de Vivre".


The joy of life.


A friend of Gran's came to the wake,  explaining that he wouldn't glance at the body  in the open casket.


"I want to remember him the way he was: so alive!"


I agree.


My friends, this column is not about a great man's death.


It's about the good sense in keeping caskets closed.


Research tells us  viewing the body has psychological value.


Looking at the remains helps communicate the reality that the loved one is gone.




We are  logical and sophisticated.


We know what death is.


Our bodies are merely the box our souls are packaged in.


We don't need to remember someone by standing around and staring at that empty box.


I am not this frail shell.


I am the time I made myself late by stopping to get the newspaper for my mother-in-law.


I'm the jerk who opens a  new carton of milk even though there's still a little bit left in the previously opened carton.


I am all the acts of love or selfishness or shame or courage that paint the picture of my life.


We  paint this canvas throughout our lives from  pallets of varied behavior and experience.


Think about the life of the one we've lost and treasure the great memories.


Recall the example set by that life.


Examine that self-portrait.


Take care of that box while you're stuck with it.


But after you're gone, we should remember the contents, not the box.


Funeral directors may disagree but I'm convinced.


Take the position of prayer on that kneeler in front of the coffin and offer a petition for God to embrace the  eternal soul.


Why would you take a long wooden box and open it up to display another box inside?


Please don't distract me with the packaging.


Celebrate the life.


Not the wrapper it came in.


It wasn't that complex configuration of carbon molecules that fought with Teddy's Rough Riders.


It was the man inside.


Let me see that man.


Close the  casket.