Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Charlie Brown Christmas

More than likely, I'll be blogging about one injustice or another that has taken Christmas (or Thanksgiving) and flushed it down the toilet up until and probably past Christmas itself. But instead of the usually rantings that people have about "taking Christ out of Christmas," I want to focus on little things that irk me, traditions taken away or made unimportant, which is what most traditions do now if they don't make you money.

For instance, tonight after Wheel of Fortune went off (they need to have Jeopardy on after Wheel of Fortune like they did for ages. Make that hour a true family hour like it was for years.) ABC showed the Charlie Brown Christmas special. Which is a wonderful and moving testamony of the true meaning of Christmas. A film that was made in 1965, well before the Commercialism of Christmas took full effect. It's also a paralell of the teachings of Jesus in the way Charlie Brown picks the tree (the outcast, the meek) and blesses it by taking it home, much to the outrage of his friends.

So why am I irked about them showing this masterpiece of Charles Schultz? Because they showed it ON NOVEMBER 28TH!!! I remember when they would show it just before Christmas (the 23rd or 24th...something like that), and it was shown as a Christmas tradition. Now they show it on a Tuesday night in November between the news and more than likely a repeat of Show Me the Money.

Is it because they wanted to show it during Sweeps month? If so, they are validating the Commercialism that Schultz was condemning. Or is it that they are showing it early in the Christmas shopping season so that they can get that tiny squeak of truth out of the way to make room for the Survivor Holiday Special (yes, I know Survivor is CBS, it's called artistic license)? Whatever the case may be, it is time now for everyone to go out to their neighborhood Borders and get a copy of the Charlie Brown Christmas DVD and play it at the appropriate time. Of course, the irony is obvious. So anyway, until I find something else to complain about... I'm gonna go find my copy of the soundtrack for the Peanuts Christmas and go listen to that. You can't have Christmas without the Peanuts music behind it.

It's the End of the World...details at 11.

Imagine this situation: World coming to end (whatever end you like... Ice, Fire... ), and you have to choose which news network you want to watch it on. You could choose Fox News (Conservative, Sensationally pessimistic), CNN (Liberal, pessimistic because it's probably the Republicans' fault) or Headline News (Smiling to the end).

Dean Koontz talked about Headline News in his book the Taking, fakily smiling through the worst of news, deaths, disasters, whatever, hoping that you'll stick around and watch through the commercials. But well, maybe that's the best option. Whenever I go to bed at night, I usually keep the TV on. I used to keep Jay Leno on, but at about 3am something called Starting Over comes on and I wake up to the wailing of women. ESPN is my normal choice, because Sportscenter stays on for most of the night... until they replay the nightly college football game, and that usually wakes me up. So when that happens, I'll turn it over to Headline News, cause I can go back to sleep knowing that whatever they talk about, there will be no invading missiles into my dreams, no switches of setting to Iraq, and no shouting matches between Senators. Just the mind-numbing repetition of news, things that may or may not make any difference to the world or to me, and the smiling anchor that delivers it all with professional detachment.

So I would choose to watch the end of the world with Headline News, because sometimes we don't want to hear the pessimism of the media, or of the news itself. We want to be desensitized and brushed over (like Sensodyne toothpaste), so that we can go about our lives with the blissful ignorance that nothing will ever happen to us here in the US. I don't think even 9/11 changed that. It did for a little while, but the feeling of security is far too strong here. We escape too much into fantasy worlds, and expect the news services to give us a window into reality that we can peer out of once in a while, detached from the realization that anything could ever effect us. Television has become a vacuum where the real reality has been sucked in, sensationalized, and made harmless for those who live comfortably at home with our electronic gadgets. That's why TV has a "reality" genre. We don't live there anymore, so we watch it on TV. So let the end of the world come, and I'll sit back and not worry about it, cause the people at Headline News will tell about it, right after the next commercial.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Just Some thoughts...

Just some thoughts as I go about selling tons of books to tons of people. It's amazing how many times I hear "Happy Holidays" during the December month, and I'm not going to sit here and argue the use of "Holidays" instead of Christmas, or the obvious domination of the commercialized secularization of Christmas and its impact on religion. There are articles, books, and blogs galore on this topic. My observations are more personal.

It seems strange that, among the countless Christmas songs we here played over the Musak systems at the stores, so many of them are about Christ's birth. In a time when we try not to offend anyone by taking all meaning out of anything, we think nothing about including Christian Carols along with the Santa Claus tunes. In particular, one I've been listening to is a bluegrass/folk duo, Robin and Linda Williams, and their album, The Christmas Gift. They perfectly blend the images of Christmas here in America (although, granted, from a uniquely Appalachian (sp) view), and directly relate it to the story of the Nativity. An amazing use of a capella and 3/4 time, old time country singing and nostalgic themes that gives the album appeal. They use no traditional carols, but instead find gems that should be played as much as the ones oft heard in shopping centers.

Another person that has influenced my thinking of late is Mark Lowry, who's comedy and intimate and knowledgeable sermons are mixed perfectly together. He talks on Mark Lowry goes to Hollywood about how God opened up Christianity from just his Chosen people to include the "Gentiles," who would be everyone. Everyone should be allowed to believe in God. No forcing, no exclusion, no inclusiveness. Another point Mark makes is that now, many Christians try to exclude people because of their lifestyles, because of the way they dress or other discriminating factors.
And that got me to thinking.... it's obvious that what people see in Christians is the snobbish, prejudiced people that some are (although, not, in my opinion, everyone.) And I can see that, because there have been some churches I have been to that clearly did not want us there. You could see icicles hanging off the ceiling. Why should anyone look favorably in a religion that is so prejudiced against anyone that is not just exactly like them? Of course, that is not the way things are, but a few people like that can influence the way everyone looks at a group.

God loves the sinner, and hates the sin. We should love the sinner, and hate our own sin. That's what Mark said in his video. And did not God also say to "Love the Lord your God and Love one another as yourselves" (paraphrased, cause I don't have a Bible with me). Nowhere did it say to hate those people who believe differently than you or have a different lifestyle. I agree with Joel Osteen, who says that it is up to God to judge the sins of others, not for us. So if you look at Mark Lowry, and Joel Osteen, they can be very content in their faith, happy and loving toward all people around them. Isn't this what Jesus did as well? Sure, he got mad at some people, but mostly he got mad at the hypocrites, not at the outcast, at the unbelievers. This is the way we should all believe. Let us remain confident in our faith, in our own relationship with God, and love those around us, because it is up to God to judge those who have sinned, not us. We can each individually have a relationship with God, and it is up to us to act as He would have us do, not what a denomination or a person or whatever. And yet we try to govern the morals of other people, through legislation, through the courts, and it becomes a perversion of what people should do.

Republicans are constantly urging for less government involvement in people's lives, until it becomes a moral issue, and then the more regulation, the better. And Democrats believe that they should be able to legislate everything, bending on moral issues whenever their constituents believe it right (in other words, whatever gets them elected). My political belief and my religious belief are the same. Let us not legislate or discriminate based on morals, but let God and the individual work that out. In politics, the individual should know what is right and what is wrong, based on their beliefs and the will of God. Therefore, governmental legislation on the private lives of its citizens should be very minimal. The government is there to protect, defend, and provide for its citizens, not to govern the citizen's private lives. In matters of faith, the church should not be the body that governs the personal lives of it's members, but rather God himself. The individual should know what is right and wrong based upon the word of God and should act according to the relationship that he or she has with God.

So what's my point with all this? The point being, is that, while I was driving back from work with my Christmas Carols playing, I was very happy with myself, with my faith, with the belief that God has put me here for a reason, and that there have been times in the past where if God had not had a plan for me, I wouldn't be here now. And that is enough. Enough that I shouldn't care what churches think about who I am or if they should discriminate against me for any reason. It doesn't matter. I have a relationship with God that is my own, and there is no church that can legislate that relationship. let the churches open the doors to the outcast, to the people of this world, and cease to discriminate against everyone. God has enough love for everyone, and so should we. The church's responsibility should be to provide the material (the Bible) that should guide a person in his relationship with God, and also provide knowledgeable people to help people understand the material in the Bible. There are very few teachers I have seen in church that I would have them teach me in the ways of religion and belief. Why should I have teachers instruct me in the ways of faith when their methods are more of brainwashing and of mere socialization with the students rather than a philosophical and theological examination of the ways of faith and belief.

Anyway, just some ramblings as I attempt to put together this whole Christmas feeling, separate it from the secular commercial Christmas, and define why people believe the way they believe. Especially in this world where terrorists hate the Christians, and Christians hate non-Christians, where discrimination and bigotry remains as much alive now as ever, and that's clearly not the way Christianity should be, especially now, with the peace of Christmas upon us.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Macy's Thanksgiving NBC/Tony's Commercial

Billy Joel wrote a song on The Nylon Curtain, titled "Where's the Orchestra?" I started singing this while trying to watch the NBC Macy's Thanksgiving day parade. But ironically, I never got to see the parade, because the narrarators and the commentators were too busy interviewing each other, or talking about the new NBC TV shows, or advertising the new broadway play. Everything but showing the parade. And whenever a float comes by, someone has to be on it singing. The balloons should be the star of the parade, as well as the marching bands, but you hardly ever see them now. It's now more about Broadway plays and the new shows on NBC.

Thanksgiving has gotten such a bad commercialistic wrap. From Christmas to the narrators that read off their comments ("I'm so happy to be here..l" said without enthusiasm.) And commericals every 5 minutes. With my ADD, I can't concentrate that long. I have to find something else.

Well, I've cooked the Thanksgiving meal (plopped it all in the oven on 375 for an hour), and so now I want to participate in the true meaning of Thanksgiving... Football!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Obligatory Thanksgiving Blog

So what am I thankful for? That's what everyone is supposed to ask you on this holiday. Of course, Thanksgiving is supposed to be the calm before the storm of Black Friday (I guess the Triptophen in the Turkey is supposed to make you sleep so you can get up the next morning and shop.) But seriously, things this year have been much better than the year before, and I do have things to be thankful for.

Actually, there should be more days built in so that you can reflect on what you've done in your life. Not just Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve (cause those are days for football), but days for us to stop and read what we've done. I know, let's make a day where everyone goes back and reads their blogs and sees what they've done over the past year. See where they've been. Blogging Day.

My main thanks is to Amber, who has kept me informed of my family in Milledgeville, and has been so patient through all the stuff they've been through. I only hope I can support her when she needs a shoulder.

And I am thankful to have Lee as a brother and as a friend. I'm always there for you guys, you know that. I recall that Christmas tree that I got you and tried to send to you up at the hospital on the hill, and they wouldn't let me bring it in. I still get a sense of melancoly when I pass by it at CVS. It's been a year since then, and now you've grown up and now have a life light years from that. Be thankful for all you've learned, and for the people who have lifted you up. I'll be there to support you in whatever you do, whatever you become.

I am thankful for my job at Borders, because I have a place here in Conyers where I actually feel like I have friends here. There is nothing that can be better as a workplace than a place where you feel like the perfect pieces to a puzzle. It feels like an episode of Star Trek: TNG during the later seasons when everything gels so well together. And the experience I get there will help me in the future, so that I can finally get out on my own, get a place where I can help those that I love and find my niche in this life. I'm almost there.

I'm also thankful for my Prozac, which helps me on days when I need it. :)

I'm thankful for the Internet sites I go to, like Myspace and Neopets, because it's good to be distracted every now and then. Reality is too harsh for any one person to be surrounded by for too long .

May all of you in the US have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and for anyone not in the US, take the time to do what we do and ask what we are thankful for. Sometimes the world seems dreary and full of bad news, but there is always things to be happy or thankful for. People to love, the joys of living everyday and building upon the successes of the day before.

And finally, I'm thankful for the heater in my room, and the cool pillow in which I am about to lay my head.

Good night.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

We interrupt our regularly scheduled broadcast...

I'm sitting here, watching the news.... it's 5:30, and I'm watching the news... so what's the big deal? Because I'm supposed to be watching Star Trek! Spike TV has been running Star Trek TNG and DS9 all afternoon long (yeah, they took off one hour of DS9 so they could put an extra hour of watching police videos, and I'm ticked about that, but...), but now they decide to have these marathons during the holidays so that people can watch James Bond or police videos, when I want to see Cardassians and starships!!! I have my days all planned out, and when Spike TV decides they're going to change things, then I actually have to do something else, like work, or chores or something. Talk about insensitive!

And while we're on the subject... how come the President has to always schedule his Press Conferences at 11:00am? Is there some written law that the Price is Right is perfectly expendable just because the leader of our country wants to get himself humiliated in front of a bunch of vultures? There is nothing more important than a game of Plinko while I'm eating lunch. I've been watching TPIR since I was born, and there were times when I was a kid that if they broke in with something important (plane crash, police chase, the Governor wipes his nose) I would get SO MAD!!! And it's still true today. I almost expect it. With Bob Barker retiring next year, lets let him get all the air time he can, and let's have Bush do his press conference after lunch.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Natural Talent with Developed Talent./ Review Enigma CD

In an earlier blog, I complained that Mike Vick was not allowed to use his talent and run, to do what he needed to do to win the games. Turns out, I think it's the Offensive Line that's not letting him do anything, cause they're not protecting him at all. Give him the Colts OL, and he'd have time to eat a sandwich before making a play.

But aside from football, everyone should be encouraged to develop and use natural talents in everyday life. On a very basic level, everyone should be able to do certain things by themselves, to use what brain power they have, to build the skills they need to become truly good at whatever they are doing. Much like the job skills in a RPG (see previous post).

Case in point. Go into a Macdonalds, and see how many cashiers can 1) remember exactly what you ordered without looking at the monitors every time they go to get something....fries....drink....Big Mac (hold the pickles, Please!, and 2) can count the change back if the computer goes down and they have to figure out the value of a nickel. How many high school students can do long division without the use of the calculator. Sure teachers will say, "they will have calculators in real life, so they should have them in school." Well, suppose a nuclear disaster occurs and there is no technology to help people with such functions. They will need to do things with just their brains.

Society, however, believes that if they can make a machine to do something, then you don't have to do it. Calculators, change functions on the cash register (let's face it, you should be able to do that in your head), even a machine I saw at my mom's office that automatically folded a letter into thirds to be put into an envelope. They should have a machine that licks the stamps, too. Except they're now stickers. Imagine a generation of people who will never know the joys of licking stamps!!! Why bother learning the skills to do things yourself when you can buy (yeah capitalism!!) a machine that will do it for you. Lets make everyone completely dependent on technology and completely inept to do anything on their own.

Not to brag, but I can instantly look up probably 50% of all books at Borders, know who wrote them, how many we have, what's on order, the plot lines, etc... without having to look it up on the computer. Some of this is natural talent, but some of it is Developed Talent. If you don't have a natural ability to do something... it is very possible to learn the talents that will help you do very well in anything. It takes very little training to do this as well. In my job, taking a look at the books in the back room, stroll through the Tables and the Best Sellers, know what books customers want. It doesn't take that much time or effort. Everyone has talent, natural or developed. Let's all use it for the good of ourselves, and of each other.


I've been listening to Engima's new CD (I'll put a link to it at the end of the blog), and I agree with the reviews on Amazon. It's okay if you like the status quo for Enigma (which is really cool, a blend of spiritual and sensual, mind and body, with a dance beat). But as I've listened to all of Michael Cretu's albums, it's my opinion that he's done nothing truly great since the 4th album (the Screen/Mirror one). the 5th (Voyageur) and the new one both are disconnected, without an overlying theme, and while musically okay, they don't begged to be played over and over like the first 4 albums do. So go get the older ones (at Borders, of course), and download the rest.

Monday, November 13, 2006

and Pooh too... hehehehe...

So after having woken up at, oh, 10:00am (I am a morning person, after all), I turn on TV and find, amongst the drivel that usually fills the channels this time of day (or any time of day, for that matter), I found Disney's old Pooh movie. Which got me to thinking.... think.... think.... well, after all, Pooh is my namesake, so it seems only natural that I should look like him too.

Anyway, I read this book, The Tao of Pooh which takes A.A. Milne's characters and applies Tao teachings to them and does a psychological profile for all of them. But you hardly need a book to point out what's all around you. Everyday I meet people who could be part of the hundred acre wood. Just thinking of Borders, there's Eyeore, and Rabbit, and Piglet, and Tigger (ME!!), and anyway... and maybe that's a good thing, because there are so many different types of people, and to be in a place where everyone gets along as well as the characters in the Hundred Acre Wood.

As for me, I'm half Pooh, and half Tigger, which is an unusual combination, cause the brain does backflips, but the body gets tired. And honestly, there's a little of every character in each of us, but some are a little more prevailant than others. I know an Owl, and a Kanga, some Roos, and quite a few Eeyores

So which one are you? I guess that this whole blog is that one question. And if you don't know the answer, read The Tao of Pooh to find out, or just read Milne's books. I did, during Spring Break one year in College, and they're just as entertaining for adults as they are for children. TTFN!!

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Random Thoughts on my day off

I went to the Oral Surgeon today (Doctor Martin, who works off Eagle Pointe Pkwy. in Stockbridge, the best oral surgeon in Georgia) and got a back tooth removed. Not something I want to go into, and the reasons go back years. One word of warning, always brush your teeth when in Milledgeville. I don't think they have much Flouride in their water. And in Wilkinson county the water burns going down. There are other reasons, too, but it's not worth going into.

Finding a good dentist is much like `finding a good auto mechanic. Which, in Conyers, would be Pro Import Services. But there are so many dishonest, greedy, and run of the mill dentists out there. And while these dentists might be okay, they want money, and they would much rather charge you out the wazoo for every little bit of "procedure" that they go through. While I have dental insurance, it, like most dental insurances, are not worth much. I don't have the money to do what they want me to do, and the prospect of having false teeth is not inviting, its the only choice I have. It is an injustice for the dental community to charge so much for so little. And they don't listen to you when you want them to do something very specific. It would be like telling a mechanic to change the spark plugs and them charge you for a complete transmission diagnostic. Or a doctor to perform an MRI when all you have is heartburn. When America realizes that health and dentistry cannot be ruled by capitalistic mongrels, and medicine and health care is regulated by something other than greed, then we will have taken the first big step toward a more "starfleet" like society.


If you want to read a similar blog, look at the home page of Orson Scott Card, a marvelous writer of science-fiction, fantasy, and other fiction. He can write a story with characterization that is a class in writing. Developed purely through dialogue, people in his stories are so accessible and real. I feel like I'm watching this really good movie in my head, and it's just a book. Everything he's written is good. Go visit ,the official home page of OSC. He reviews everything from movies to books to Italian restaurants in his home town of Greensboro, NC. I agree with most everything he says. His essays on current events and politics are brilliant!!


That's about it for me right now, I'm gonna go crash now.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Materialism and Love or Why Kids Want Candy.

Well, my computer is back up and working swimmingly, so now I can get back to Myspace and everything else.

Everyday I see this scenario play out. Some kid, rattling nosily on the magazine racks next to the registers, suddenly sees the Lindor Balls (which are the food of the Gods, btw. Go to Borders and get a few hundred.) and says, "Mom, I want some candy!" Although more than likely, while saying this the kid is plowing through the candy and squishing them with fingers, effectively destroying what he/she most wants (but that's another post). And whether or not the parent actually gives them the candy (in which the kid quickly eats the morsel which cannot fathom or relish in its high-calorie goodness) or not, in which a high pitch squeal and cry, but no tears, emits from the kid, which the parent ignores or buys the candy just to shut the kid up, it really doesn't matter, because the child doesn't want the candy anyway. After swallowing the candy, the kid then asks if he can have the book right behind him, or whatever.

It's clearly not a case of what the item is, but rather that the child is getting attention and what he considers love from the parent. We live in a society in which love and objects are one and the same. Where this idea originated, it could be argued for centuries to come. Probably it occurred sometime in the 1950's or 60's when that generation realized that the usually harsh raisings that they experienced by the depression generation (my step-dad) was not how they wanted to raise their children. It can be attributed to positive reinforcement, or whatever. Now, to show someone you love them, you buy them something.

And working in retail, that's exactly what we want. Upselling to kids is the easiest thing to do, cause they always want their parents to buy them something, whether they actually want it or not. How many times I have seen a kid get candy at the grocery store, lay it down on the register, and go off and forget about it, usually to look at vending machines and beg their parents for a quarter. As a capitalistic society, this is what we want. We are living in a material world... oh wait, that's too obvious... The makers of things are quite willing to make it manditory for you to buy anything to express your emotions to anyone, from buying candy to that card for Babysitter's day. And you must feel guilty if you don't buy it, cause then they won't get XY or Z and they might feel that you've slighted them, and it'll hurt your precious feelings and you'll have to get therapy again from the psychologists who would like nothing better. It's a vicious cycle, one that puts money in the pockets of everyone except you, and fills the stomachs and toy chests of children.

My suggestion... don't go to the mall, but rather, go do something that will give the kids exercise (look at me, I'm the one to talk), so they can have fun and be with you without needing to be bought something to show love. And go through and donate all that junk to Goodwill (again, you should see my room...), or to any Charity organization that can spread all this junk throughout the world and make someone else happy. This'll teach the kids generousity and philanthropy. And it'll put me out of a job, cause I want you to come into Borders and buy the books and the Lindor Balls (40 cents or 3 for a dollar) and bring your screaming, hyperactive, destructive kids with you, cause they keep my paycheck coming to me. :)