Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays to Everyone!

Here's the card I sent out this year:








Happy holidays from me and Nik the Doggy Lama!



(as always) copyright 2009 jas faulkner

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Guest Blog & Counterpoint: An Anti-Movember Appeal From Maggie the Pig

MAGGIE THE PIG:  Ahem.

I have a question for the Predators Front Office:

WHAT ON EARTH IS WRONG YOU PEOPLE?  Honestly!!!!!!!!

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that some of  the Nashville Predators were starting to sport a lot of facial hair.  At first I thought it was a coincidence.  A little later I noticed that everyone on the team was doing it and it occurred to me that they might be trying to disguise themselves from someone, but who?  Joe Thornton?  The Bluejackets?  Jim Balsillie?  Then I happened to see a picture on the website. There was JP Dumont, front and center.  They had decided to flush him out so people would know it was him.  But why? I clicked on the link where they had misspelled "November" (and by the way, people, it's December already.  Sheesh!) and what I saw shocked me.

No wonder the guys are trying to hide!  Someone at the Predators Front Office is taking bids on which one of them gets cancer. Words fail me. I know there was some frustration before the November  (or "Movember" as they keep insisting in spelling it) winning streak, but isn't this a little extreme?

And you fans who are voting with your dollars?  I don't know what to make of this.  Do you really hate Dan Hamhuis that much? Steve Sullivan and Shea Weber aren't faring much better, either. Someone really, really has it in for them.

I know, yes, I am only too aware of how that strange little dog has endorsed this so-called charitable venture. All I can say is that he needs to start reading more for comprehension, bless his heart.


TOOTOO, DUSTIN'S GUARD HAMSTER: Uh, Maggie?


MAGGIE: Tootoo, I'm not finished.


TOOTOO:  MAGGIE!


MAGGIE:    I'm talking!


TOOTOO: For crying out loud, it's a charitable drive for the prevention of prostate cancer.


MAGGIE:  Are you sure?


TOOTOO:  Yes.  Look I don't have a whole lot of time. Dustin's mom is going to put us back in the Habitrail any minute now; but trust me, they're not trying to kill the Predators.


MAGGIE:  Oh, okay.  So, uh, what is prostate cancer anyway?


TOOTOO:  It's...Well?  It's where they...Oh wow.  I don't know, either.  Arnott?


ARNOTT, DUSTIN'S OTHER GUARD HAMSTER: I think it has something to do with harbl health for hockey players.  Tootoo? We really need to scoot.


MAGGIE: What's your hurry anyway?


TOOTOO: SOMEBODY made pellets on the bath mat.


ARNOTT: Whoever smelt it, dealt it.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

A Very Special Appeal From His Holiness The Doggy Lama Niklas Lidstrom the Shih Tzu

Hi! I would like to talk to you about a very important subject: facial hair. I am a big proponent of facial hair, as are many of my favorite hockey players.



 Lately, all of them have started wearing more facial hair than usual. (Yeah, we know, Jumbo Joe Thornton is sporting a full lumberjack look by five every day, but he's he exception.) There's a good reason for that. It's part of a very important event called Movember

Starting in November and going through December 15th, many hockey players will be growing out their mustaches as part of a fundraiser for research and prevention of prostate cancer. All of the money they raise will be divided between The Prostate Cancer Foundation and Livestrong (The Lance Armstrong Foundation). Wanna join a Mo'Bro group?  Click on the link and sign up, then click your camera and show off those beautiful Mos! You can also vote for your favorite Nashville Predator Mo!  I'm still not sure who's gonna get my vote. Arnott and Dumont have pretty cool Fu Manchus going on, but I like the Dad-staches on everyone else, too. Maybe I'll vote for whoever gets the next hat trick. (Legwand? Smithson? Sully? Goc? I'm lookin' at you!)

This is all in fun but on the serious side, one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. It's the second most common cause of death by cancer and the sad fact is, it is easily detectable and can be treated if it is caught in time. So vote often and support your local Mo'Bros!  I am!

Namaste'
Nik the Shih Tzu

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Adventures of Brandie, Girl Reporter!

In the midst of the flu, holiday prep, hockey season, getting ready for school and the thick of helping my friend and sometimes writing partner Marcus pull together a play, a friend of mine asked if her daughter could interview me for a project on women in the arts.

My response was something akin to, "Whah?"

"Oh goodness." I said, "Is this for publication anywhere?"

There was a long pause. "I don't THINK so... She wants to write comedy. Don't you still write comedy?"

I looked over at Marcus. He was on day two of running on no sleep and black coffee until finally agreeing to eat deli-fried chicken while informing me that soy pudding was Not of the Lord. He looked, well, scary. I thought of sweet, impressionable young Brandie coming face to face with the comedy writing version of Alec Holland and was both appalled and amused. Maybe I could scare her into nursing school.

"Send her on." I said and twenty minutes later Brandie sat on my couch nursing a Mexican Coke while Marcus typed out a line, grumbled, hit the backspace key and typed it again and again and I stood in a doorway at the other side of the room, swathed in a scarf to keep her from catching whatever I have. We looked like Nancy Drew had decided to spend career day with the Symbionese Liberation Army.

"Okay, how where do you want to start?" I asked.

Brandy thought for a minute and then said, "Pretend you don't know me. You don't have to be all nice and stuff. Act like this is a real interview."

"But it is a real interview." I said.

She preened for a moment and then opened her Jonas Brothers notebook and turned on her tape recorder.

"How long have you been writing comedy?" she read from her list of questions.

"Seriously? Since I was maybe eleven. I watched Second City and Saturday Night Live and wanted to write for Gilda Radner and Catherine O'Hara."

"They had Saturday Night Live when you were eleven? How long ago was that?"

Marcus looked up from his laptop, "It was originally on the radio..."

"Shut up, Marcus!" I shot him a death glare. "He's kidding," I said to Brandie.

She looked dubious and soldiered on to her next question.

"Who did you write for?"

"I, sometimes we, ghost wrote for various people, comedians, a couple of football players, speeches and ad copy, stuff like that."

Brandie looked more interested. "Really? Which comedians?"

"I'm sorry, kiddo. Can't say. Professional courtesy."

Marcus stopped typing for a moment, "Not even the dead ones?"

"Marcus!"

Brandie looked enthralled. Oh, dear. "You wrote for dead people? That's kind of cool."

"Brandie, they weren't dead at the time."

Marcus decided to help again. "They died after she wrote for them."

"Awesome! Do you write for anybody right now?"

"Just me," I said.

She looked a little disappointed and scanned the page in her notebook for her next question.

"Who is your favorite person to make fun of?" she asked.

"I'm more likely to poke fun at situations than people. Anymore, if they're the kind of people I should be making fun of, they're probably best left alone because they really don't deserve my attention."

How do you decide if you'll write it or not?"

"Easy," I said, "I substitute my name for the person I'm writing about. If it still makes me laugh, it stays. But I'm weird and I know it. What makes me laugh might hurt someone else's feelings. So sometimes I think, 'Eh, that's too mean' and go back and change it."

"Kind of lame. The meaner people are funnier. I write funny stuff all the time about people."

"You'll outgrow it," I said. "So, uh, Brandie? This is a class report, right?"

"Kind of. But it's gonna be in the school paper if that's okay."

Oh yeah. Gonna buy five copies for my mother...


copyright 2009 jas faulkner

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Latest Addition To My Beauty Regimen

I had every intention of completely missing the little patch of creamed, chipped torture that is Black Friday. Then I walked into the kitchen to see His Holiness the Doggy Lama in front of his bowl munching away happily and realized he was on his last bowlful of crunchy security. Oh, the horror. Oh, the guilt. As soon as I got off from work, I trundled to the nearest Wally World to get him a new bag o' kibbled goodness.

While I was there I decided to get some cough drops and out of curiosity wandered over to the cosmetics section. The aisles were like the retail equivalent of a middle school girl's restroom. Everything was geared to make you think you were a barely presentable troll whose choices were 1.) run weeping into the pet supplies section or 2.) look up and down the shelves while declaring that you would take one of everything.

Needing brain bleach, I headed over to the sporting goods section. It looked like it had been sacked by marauders (and people...people...some of us still love fletched arrows, I'm just saying...). They had a lot of their equipment marked down and I decided at that point to quit worrying about what I was supposed to buy in order to feel better about myself and get something I really wanted. So I started looking for a soccer ball. At first I was ready settle for a size 4, four dollar cheapie but then concluded that I really needed an adult-sized ball. The shelf where the nine-dollar Black Friday balls had been was empty. I walked over the clearance section and found a dozen that had been marked down to fifteen dollars. Tucked behind them was a very pretty, size 5 Franklin Air Matrix X-Caliber model. I loved it as soon as I saw it. When I saw the label that declared that no child labor had been used in its manufacture, I decided to forget the cost. Then I looked at the price tag. Ten dollars. I hope whoever tucked that ball back there completely forgot about it or found something they liked better, because I put it my cart and practically skipped to the checkout.

Here it is:



HH the Doggy Lama Niklas Lidstrom the Shih Tzu is a little ambivalent about it. He loves to chase it, but when it rolls back at him he looks like Wile. E. Coyote trying to outrun a boulder. He has his own size 2, underinflated ball that he often keeps in his chair/den (along with Puu and one of whatever pair of shoes he can filch from that day) that he uses for living room pickup games.:



You know? That ball makes me feel far better about myself than the bottle of greasy stuff I'd probably use twice and then stick in my medicine cabinet until it got old and questionable looking enough to throw out without guilt. My dribbling is already getting better and I can bounce it from my foot to my knee a couple of times before it bounces to the side of the hallway. In short (too late!), that ball makes me feel pretty awesome.


copyright 2009 jas faulkner

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Face Pets On Some Of Your Favorite Predators and A Chance To Give A S**T!

Last night's match between the Nashville Predators and Detroit was one of the best games this season. Pekka Rinne was his usual awesome self, Arnott is starting to spoil us with his habit of drawing first blood at the opposing net, Legwand, Tootoo, Bouillon and Goc continue to show the brains, hustle and heart we've come to expect from them and Erat was so jaw droppingly good that someone preemptively threw their hat on the ice after his second goal.

But.

But...


Some of us -I won't name names- some of us tried to watch the game but we couldn't get past the surfeit of facial hair on many of the guys. Some of us -cough/Kevin/cough- felt compelled to call people up and ask if they were hallucinating or if that really was a fu manchu on Dumont, a Euro-facepet on Arnott and Late 20th Century Dad-staches on Weber, Smithson and Sullivan. Okay, here's the deal: They're not trying to channel the cast of Slap Shot. They're taking part in Movember. That's right: Dumont, Smithson, Arnott, et al are Mo Bros Retro and silly? A little. But it's for a good cause. Men all over the world are doing this to draw attention to the need for more awareness of the measures that can be taken to combat and prevent prostate and testicular cancer. The best part? All of the funds that are raised will be divided evenly between The Prostate Cancer Foundation and The Lance Armstrong Foundation. So join in the fun. You have until December 15th to be a Mo Bro and grow that stylin' 'stache or be a Mo Sis and offer your support. Check out the links above at the Preds website or Movember.com for more information.


Have you ever thought, "Gee, the world would be a better place if people just gave a s**t"?



Thanks to Oxfam, you can now give a shit; or maybe you would rather give a whole cow, or vaccine or bees or a grove of trees. All of that and more is possible through Oxfam America's Unwrapped Program. Click on the link for more information on ways to give the gift that makes a difference.


copyright 2009 jas faulkner

Monday, November 16, 2009

Interspecies Hockey Chat: November 16 The Groinville Edition

Hello and welcome to another edition of Interspecies Hockey Chat. I'm your host, Jas Faulkner.  Before I introduce our panel, I would like to share one of my favorite fan moments involving a child:



Okay, that one was pretty awesome, but I am actually referring to a letter written to the PFO (Predators Front Office) by Beautiful Alice's son, Dustin*, earlier in the season.

Dear Coach Trotz,
I watch the Nashville Predators on Center Ice and I am glad you are letting Danny play but he needs to share.  You need to let Pekka play too. Pekka came all the way over from Finland to play hockey and doesn't get to see his Mom or Girlfriend except in the Summer. One time I had to go all the way to Indiana to play hockey and they would not let me play until THIRD PERIOD.  I was mad.  I had a girlfriend last year but we broke up because I like hockey better. Please make Danny share.

Your fan,
Dustin
Age 7
Grade 2, Reggie Dunlop Elementary
Right Wing, Nationwide Insurance Tiny Cats

Dustin has been pleased to see that the space between the pipes is indeed being shared.

Now, time to introduce today's panel:

His Holiness the Doggy Lama Niklas Lidstrom the Shih Tzu Nik is our newest panel member. He was being held for unspecified charges at Sumner County Humane when someone agreed to post his bail. Now he is a free dog with his own kibble bowl, regular tummy rubs and a Puu doll. He loves hockey and chasing squirrels. His role models are JP Dumont, Dan Ellis and Bob the Angry Flower.

Maggie the Hampshire Pig Maggie is a world class sow who thinks Michael Phelps, Zdeno Chara and Kermit the Frog are the bee's knees.

Arnott and Tootoo (taking a deep breath) Arnott and Tootoo are Beautiful Alice's son, Dustin's guard hamsters. They are female. Everyone is aware of this except Dustin, Arnott and Tootoo. Their role models are the raptors in Jurassic Park and Joe Thornton.

Kevin Kevin is a human. He finds that cold pizza really is the breakfast of champions.

So, let's begin. What a difference a month makes. The lines, the clear winners, the assumptions that were held all Summer have been smashed to bits. The injuries, the upsets and the dramatic turnarounds have made this season interesting to say the least.

Tootoo: I blame the injuries most of all.

Arnott: Yep.

Nik: It's like half of the NHL has decided to stay home and sit on the couch in their pajamas and eat grilled cheese and watch cartoons.

Tootoo: Nik, it's not that simple. Never underestimate the power of a groin pull.

Arnott: Yeah.

Maggie: (snorts)

Tootoo: Have you ever had a groin pull?

Arnott: Yeah!

Maggie: Of course not. Have YOU?

Tootoo: Of cour- Well. I'm not sure. Arnott?

Arnott: I tried some pulled pork once...

(Chaos breaks out and Jas has to threaten them with Nik's no-no rattle.)

Maggie: It has given some of the supporting players a chance to shine. By last Spring, coverage of the NHL was starting to look like The Alex and Sidney show with Marian Hossa as the Beaver.

Kevin: I think most of the people on injured reserve are coming back soon if they're not back already.

Jas: Let's get local here. What do you think of the Predators so far?

Maggie: It looks like somebody put something in Sullivan's Wheaties and he's decided to share.

Tootoo: Maybe they really do sell cans of it in California.

Arnott: Cans of what? (Tootoo whispers to Arnott) Oh!

Kevin: They're finally starting to hit their stride. We're seeing something closer to the full team that Trotz must have envisioned when he was working out the lineup during preseason.

Tootoo: Well yeah, that, too.

Arnott: Yeah.

Nik: The last two games were made of awesome. Goals from Tootoo and Legwand? I'll take 'em! And the only thing that would have made last Thursday better would have been a hat trick for Sully since his dad was there. 55 shots on goal by the Preds and 53 saves by visiting goalie Price? Wow.

Maggie: I have mixed feelings about the California road trip, but it's always been a mixed bag for me. Sully, Smithson and Hornqvist were the standouts and I've seen hustle and guts from Goc and Bouillon that make me appreciate them being here.

Jas: So things are looking good?

(Nods from everyone)

Jas: Okay, before we wrap up, I'd like to talk about "Make It Seven"

Kevin: Do we really want to go there?

Jas: We do. I've given a lot of thought to this and can see both sides of the debate. My solution? Forget moving into Europe and make it eight with the expansion teams going to Winnipeg and Hamilton.

Tootoo: What have you been smoking?

Arnott: The NHL is pretty big as it is.

Maggie: If it's that big, will two more teams make a difference?

Jas: What about moving teams?

Nik: Shouldn't happen. Should never have happened in the first place and shouldn't happen now. There's room for everybody. On the other hand, if people think the league is too big they could always split it up and have a Canadian league and an American league.

Maggie: That would leave Canada with six teams, or eight if they got the expansion teams.

Nik: MLL has six teams.

Tootoo: True, but look at who they would have. Could be interesting.

Arnott: Yeah.

Nik: Frankly, I think a 32 team league could work and yeah, I'd like to see 'Peg and Hamilton back in the NHL.

Jas: Any other thoughts?

Maggie: I miss Ryan Jones.

Tootoo: We need more of Trotz getting his yell on.

Arnott: Loved that.

(Everyone nods and smiles at that.)

Jas: Okay. That wraps it up for another edition of Interspecies Hockey Chat! On behalf of all of us here, I wish you all smooth skating and plenty of hits between the pipes.





*Identifying information has been changed to protect a minor

copyright 2009 jas faulkner

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Need A Nap And A Cookie

Today was one of those days...Okay, it was like this: if a Lewis Black monologue and a Ralph Steadman cartoon could get together and make a baby, it would look like today.

I have had three cups of coffee today.

Oh, and the Predators lost to Boston tonight.  I may have to break up with my Secret Hockey Husband, Tim Thomas.  Maybe I just need some space for a little while.  I should have taken it as a sign when I walked out the door wearing  a Red Wings t-shirt. Kevin took one look at me and said, "You are making Jason Arnott cry." I can't bear this. I'll give the t-shirt to Goodwill or wear it to my next dental appointment (#157 in a series of 1479) maybe Chris Chelios will scare my dentist and he'll actually let me get up and run around, go pee and decompress after two hours in the chair.  Don't get me wrong.  I love my dentist, but the past few visits have been more like being the workbench under a happy guy with a Dremel on a Saturday afternoon in May.  By the way, Chris Chelios is making me cry.  Every time I see him, I picture some little kid in a Blackhawks jersey following him down the ramp, screaming, "Shane! Shane!"

Should I really be this wired from three (3) cups of coffee?  I am getting old.

Have I mentioned that I am going back to school?  Have I mentioned that in order to do this I have to present proof of shots I got when Nixon was president?  That I have to find out if I ever actually graduated from high school and if they accept United States currency to mail a transcript from Western Kentucky University.  Of the four colleges I attended during my misspent youth, Western weighs in as the most expensive.  Their transcripts cost 7.00.  Overpriced Arts and Basketweaving comes in second at 5.00, Bayou Fried Chicken State set me back 2.00 and Tiger High's are free with the purchase of a Dana Kirk bobblehead. (#3 in the "Back In The Day Series") I got my MMR booster.  The doctor was lovely and the staff deserved combat pay.  The waiting room was like a Brueghel painting, only with Elmo instead of demons as a recurring motif.   I will never again mourn not having a child.

Why, oh why won't this coffee wear off?

I really should have stayed home anyway.  I would not have consumed that last cup of coffee and I'd probably have dozed off sometime after the final buzzer but before "Living With Ed" started.  I am sure the people at Untitled Artists wanted to tranq me with a dart gun.  I would have tranqed me with a dart gun. During the meeting I:  1.)apologized to a teenager on behalf of my generation for subjecting her age group to the linty horror that is the ouvre of Rankin Bass' holiday programming and the concommittant nostalgia that causes it to get foisted on a new crop of children every year  2.)allowed Robert the metalworker dude to be a Bad Influence and feed me scores and stats from his I-Phone during the meeting. 3.)be inappropriately amused multiple times 4.) talked way, way too much.  Even if I know what I'm talking about, silence is golden and I should aspire to that kind of wealth.  Or something like that. 5.) I also used the phrase "batshit crazy" is front of the aforementioned teen. I am still punchy and its...nearly ten thirty?

Coffee beans the wonderful fruit...

I think I also called a number of people and told them I loved them.  If I didn't call you please know that I love you, too.   

Love,
a very wired and silly me

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Guest Blog: Meet a Boy Named Tzu!

I'm turning the keyboard over to my newest guest blogger:





This is His Holiness the Doggy Lama Niklas Lidstrom the Shih Tzu.  Touch his Puu Doll at your peril.
 
Hello!  My assistant is busy trying to get some paintings finished before the deadline for her next co-op show and no one is watching hockey right now so I figured it was as good a time as any to get online and see what all the fuss is about.  You're more than likely here because you want a different view on the important things in life: french fries, hockey and my Puu doll.

First things first.  If you touch my Puu doll, I will cut you.

Second:  All of the french fries are mine.

Third: I have been adopted into a hockey loving household. This is a huge improvement over the shelter.  While I appreciate the people there for taking me in, it's nice to have the run of the house, occasional rogue turns at the remote, and a box of toys I don't have to share.  Now if I could just get the fat one to stay off of my bed, everything would be perfect.

Hockey is really easy.  The big panda bears in the net cages throw biscuits out on the ice and everyone chases them with sticks until someone grabs a person with the wrong sweater on and beats them before the color-challenged players tmake them go into the naughty box.  I think they may do this because they are jealous of the pretty sweaters with aminals on them.  There's also a man with a striped suit and no neck or facial expression who stands on the side.  He may be there to walk someone out if they have to go wee.

There's this big wolfhound in a red sweater?  His name is Ovechkin?  Some people here like him.  Some people's mothers will only say that they like him better than Hossa.  Earlier this season Tim the Big Boston Panda knocked Ovechkin down and one of his teammates pushed him flat on the ice as he skated by.  Gramma did this weird "Ha ha" Mom calls a Nelson Laugh.  Hockey makes Gramma mean.  It makes our friend Silbia mean, too.  I heard she was at the Nashville/Dallas season opener and managed to get down next to the plexi and bang on it and tell Brendan Morrow that he was making her damned mad.  I don't think they thought an 83 year old Methodist Sunday School teacher was going to do that!

I am also trying to get my friend, Maggie the Hampshire Pig to blog with me.  She loves swimming and Michael Phelps.  She said that he is the most beautiful man in sports and no one could turn her head.  So I got out an old copy of Hockey News.

"Who IS that?" she squealed.

"Zdeno Chara" I said.

"He's...BEAUTIFUL!"   I also showed her a couple of pictures of Pavel Datsyuk, so our girl is hooked. 

Pigs.  Give them a burrito and some pretty Russian men and they're as pliable as beeswax in Phoenix in August. 

Until next time!
Nik

PS.  Get well wishes to JP Dumont.  As a former shelter dog, I am glad he took the time to speak on our behalf this Summer.  He's my favorite guy here in Nashville and I miss seeing him on the ice.  -Nik




Monday, September 21, 2009

Preseason Biz and a Big, Belated Thank you

It's almost time. Pucks dropped all over the place as teams rolled out their shiny new rookies and the long, multi-national nightmare that was the Dany Heatley Soap Opera has finally come to an end. He's a Shark. Here in the Athens of the South, we saw some favorites from Milwaukee do some good stuff on the ice and everyone is quivering with anticipa...tion for October. So yay for all that.

On a personal note, I owe a belated thank you to the nice people at the Predators Office. Earlier this month  I was working on a painting and looking for pictures of kids wearing fan gear to make a visual reference sheet. For the record, I didn't use any of them and ended up painting Beautiful Alice's son, Dustin. He's one of the co-owners of Arnott and Tootoo (the blogging hamsters, not the hockey players).



So I was Googling things like "Predators Hockey Fans", "hockey fans", "NHL fan Jerseys" and "NHL fans" and I would occasionally stumble across a picture of my late dog, O'Neill. Curiosity got the better of me and I clicked on the link to find out he had won the Pedigree Predators Pet of the Month for April.  Those of you who follow the blog know he passed away April 29th.  It completely slipped my mind that I should check to see who the Pet of the Month was and I never got to thank whoever it is at the Preds office that picks the winners.  So, whoever you are, it was a nice surprise.  I'm sure he would have been thrilled to know his Pekka Rinne Fanboy status is now a part of the fan community's history.  On behalf of his family and many friends, I'd like to offer a sincere Thank you!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Art For All The Right Reasons

As a former social worker, I have friends and acquaintances who sometimes pause, squint, shake their heads and tell me they "just don't get the whole art thing". They sigh and then ask me, "What does it do?"

What does it do?

My short answer is, "So very much," at least for me.

My more complete answer is that many artists, especially the ones I have been lucky enough to meet over the past few weeks here in Nashville, often devote chunks of their time and talent to helping people gain a better understanding of issues that many people, people who you may never meet or know have to deal with on a regular basis. Want to see what art can do? Then walk the walk and devote some time to visiting this show:




These Small Things


THE DEETS:
September 5, 2009 / 1st Saturday Crawl / up through September 26
6-9 PM
Blend Studio
79 Arcade
Nashville, TN 37219


Middle Tennessee photographer Eric Denton is married to a hero. His wife teaches in one of the more underfunded corners of the state and he has been helping kids in that county learn to understand and share their world through photography. The show focuses on four young artists who have been working with him, but he would like to expand the program so more children can get an opportunity to learn about photography.

Do you have an old digital camera lying around, memory cards you're just not using or did you flip off a nun for cutting in front of you on Charlotte last Wednesday and now you need to cleanse your black little soul by making a donation to a good cause? (Yes, I'm lookin' at YOU, Sara.) Well, here's your chance.

Visit his site at Thinks I Make And Do and help Eric make a difference!










You're still here? And you ask what's in it for you? Contribute to Eric's program and I'll give you a 10% discount on your next order at ZenDixie.com and donate 20% of the proceeds from your order to Cameras For Kids.




Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Summer Rerun: There's Always Room For The Obligatory Pictorial Essay Making Fun of Vintage Cookbooks

I wrote this essay in 2007 and it was published on my blog on August 1st of that year. A couple of days ago a friend asked me about it and when I did some searching in the archives, I noticed that someone in Ohio had recently been seeking this particular post. Hunh. So, anyway, here it is. I don't do reruns often. but this one makes me laugh. I hope you like it.







Everyone else is doing them, why shouldn't I? Maybe because everyone else is doing them? If everyone decided to strip down to their underwear and jump into the Cumberland River, would I do it, too?

The cruel fact is that not only am I caving in to peer pressure, but I am doing so because I am once again my alter-ego, Phlegm Grrl, and cinema-therapy isn't doing the trick. Over the past three days I've wept copiously over "Finding Neverland" ("Kate...Kate...You find happiness with Johnny Depp and drop dead? Where is the satisfaction in that?!?!?!"), "Omhide Poro Poro" ("Taeko...Taeko...You won't be happy until you ditch the cubicle job in Tokyo and stay on the organic soy farm with Hiro. Where is your head? See? They're playing "The Rose" and all the cute little characters are scampering around your feet. It's a sign, Taeko. Go back to Soy Boy!") and the baby penguin that got eaten and his keening parents in the Antarctica section of "Winged Migration"("Bad raptor! You suck! You suck, mean bird!").

I needed some relief. I needed a cheap laugh. So I started looking through the cookbook shelf in the kitchen. All of them had some entertainment value, but the dessert books made some of the biggest leaps from kind of sublimely cool to ridiculous. Here, let me show you what I mean:

This first image is from a 1982 cookbook by Judith Olney called "The Joy of Chocolate".



It's actually a cake with chocolate leaves that were cast from real cabbage. Pretty neat, hunh? Then I flipped through and found this:



Okay, the bag itself, which is made of chocolate cast from a paper bag, is very cool and the fruit looks tasty. Maybe I'm off-base with this, but it seems like the pudding, which looks a tad lumpy and well, poo-shaped, is a bad choice. It turns the whole thing into something a young Jacques Torres might have left on the front porch of a cranky neighbor before ringing the bell and running.

Another example, one that will probably insure that you will never again take anything I write seriously, can be found in the 1983 "Farm Journal's Complete Cake Decorating Book". Actually, there's a lot to love about this book because it's all about pretty, tasty desserts that can be made without having to take months of decorating classes. We're not talking about the stuff you see coming from Texas Culinary Bronwen or Collette. These are the kinds of cakes that would make your mama very happy at the Mother's Day brunch at church.



Then, I moved on a few pages and my evil inner ten-year-old giggled like a fiend over this cake:





I'm sorry. I really am.

No I'm not. It's funny. The only thing that would have made this funnier would be if I'd found it in "Favorite Desserts of Presbyterian Women of Northern Alabama" I've already promised Big Gay Kevin that I'll make one for his bachelor party if he's ever allowed to legally marry.


Of course you know I'm saving the best for last and here it is:





It looks cute and Bradylicious and all, but I have serious doubts that anyone in the General Foods test kitchens really cared whether kids in the late 70s' would want "Amazing Magical Jell-o Desserts". In fact, I think there was a lot of toking and giggling going in in that test kitchen and the result was a book intended for stoners who love to cook when they get the munchies.

Take a look at this:




Would you even think of making this, much less eating it if you weren't in some way impaired?

And this?




It screams, "We were out of spray cheese and Fritos and we ate it and hey, maybe your kid will think it's ice cream and eat it." Come on. Those cones are grounds for a visit from the TBI and Children's Services.


Not everything in this book is bad, but I suspect that the stuff that is fairly decent was probably cannibalized from "General Foods' Presents School Cafeteria Treats For Boys and Girls".

Here is "Ship Ahoy".




And Dr. Cosby is right. You can't go wrong with "Puddin' Pops"!



But what are we to make of this?



Where is ice this color? Love Canal? Chernobyl? Planet Zarquon?

and then there's this:



In the cookbook, it's called a "Banana Wobbler". It looks exactly like one of the things that Stewart From College brought to Beautiful Alice's bachelorette party that caused him to have to write a letter of apology to the groom's mother. But that could be my inner ten-year-old working in overdrive again.

And the holiday recipes in this book...They're the stuff of kiddie nightmares, especially the Easter dishes.



These are not eggs, they're "eggs". That's right, someone at the GF testing kitchen actually cast cloudy gelatin in real eggshells and made those things. Imagine being the kid who finds those at the Annual Easter Egg Hunt. Honestly, if Easter makes you feel this mean, just skip this step and give your kid balut. (Warning: not for the squeamish!)

There was also HeckBunny:



You just know there's some demented Sunday School teacher from Lubbock doing hard time after a suckerware box of those was intercepted by the deacons.

Speaking of evil handiwork, there is a running theme in this book which looks like someone came up with a bright idea and everyone just ran with it. I imagine that person's name was probably Nathan. Nathan had always been the slacker of the GF Test Kitchen Crew. He was nice enough and he always shared the wealth whenever he was holding. As a chef? Well, let's just say that his parents thought a year of culinary school would scare some sense into him after he got kicked out of MIT for earning the nickname "Anything That Moves" and causing his room mate to gibber and drool during Fall midterms.

So here's the scenario: One of the more Type A chefs, we'll call her Denise, approached Nathan and said something to the effect of, "Look, you've been here three years and you haven't come up with anything original. This is easy. It's a gimme. Kids and Jell-o products. Give me something, anything I can use."

So Nathan sighed heavily, disappeared into the walk-in freezer for three hours and came out with this:



To which Denise said, "What the-?"

"It's food and it has a face. Kids love food with faces on it. See? Choo choo! Here comes the jell-o with the face!"

There was a long pause as they thought about this. Then they realized that it was late and it made sense, sort of. So there were lots and lots of foods with faces added to the book:









And there was much rejoicing until everyone remembered that NASA Dave, the government wonk who was there to make food tubes for astronauts, had totally missed the discussion. So they presented him with this:


"Cute face" he said.

"What face?" they all deadpanned and then NASA Dave muttered something about things just not being the same since Nixon stepped down and went home.

And with that, I'm signing off. I want some Jell-o. Their strawberry-kiwi and raspberry flavors are like buttah!


copyright 2007 Jas Faulkner

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A Serious Appeal from Arnott and Tootoo: Hamster Pundits

Arnott and Tootoo, professional guard animals and internet pundits, have requested an opportunity to speak to you today about a matter that they feel is vitally important. This blogger applauds their willingness to engage in civilized public discourse and asks that you give them your undivided attention. And yes, I am aware that Arnott and Tootoo are Alice's sons' female hamsters. There is a lengthening list of people who are aware that they're female hamsters. That list does not include any of the following:

Alice's sons
Arnott
Tootoo

Tootoo: Hi! I'm Tootoo and this is Arnott.

Arnott: Hi.

Tootoo: Many of you associate us with our ability to add a sharp satirical edge to somber discussions about pressing social issues. We're going for a change of pace today.

Arnott: Yep.

Tootoo: It has come to our attention that the Humane Society of Dickson County, Tennessee is in serious trouble.

Arnott: Very Serious.

Tootoo: Because of the tough economy, many people have had to give up their pets. This has caused a crisis in the shelter because there is not enough room to keep them all or people to take care of them. Right now there are twenty-five dogs and puppies in dire need of placement.

Arnott: Get a puppy.

Tootoo: If you've thought about adding to your family, now would be a good time. Dogs make great family members! They're good looking, loyal, affectionate and fun to be around.

Arnott: And they eat poop!

Tootoo: Shh! For more information about the shelter, CLICK HERE. They even have a page full of pups and dogs looking for someone just like you. You can also contact Melissa Lee via email at hsdcxl@aol.com or you can all the shelter at 615-446-PETS. According to the letter, they are open on Saturday from 10am to 4pm. This is slightly different from the rest of the website that lists their days and hours of operation as Wednesday through Saturday from 10 to 4; so you might want to call before you head out there.

Arnott: That's 615-446-PETS

Tootoo: This is your chance to make a differnece in some dog's life. Please consider helping out these nice people who love animals! Oh, and thanks for listening. This has been fun.

Arnott: Peace.


copyright 2009 jas faulkner

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

TV Review: Drop Dead Diva

The Deets:
What:
Drop Dead Diva
Where:
Lifetime Television
When:
Sunday Nights at 9 ET/8 CT, encore on Mondays at 8 ET/ 7 CT
also available with OnDemand the day after the premiere and at the official page at myLifetime.com


Unlike many of the real critics out there, my response to Lifetime's newest series, "Drop Dead Diva" is negative and it's a shame. There are a few good things to say about it. The cast is excellent: Brooke Elliot and Brooke D'Orsay, who share the lead, are charming, lovely actors. April Bowlby is bringing her A game as the comic foil. Ben Feldman is dorky-sweet and if I were much younger, I'd probably find him crush-worthy. The rest of the cast is also quite good. The message on the surface is one of empowerment and acceptance. One half of the lead is not a size zero. At the very least, they're giving me an alternative to the screechy grinning neediness that has become the norm whenever anyone female and over 120 pounds appears on camera. Lifetime is throwing me a bone and I should be happy about this. Right?

No.

Lifetime is trying to get me to accept stereotypes about who I am and what I am like and be grateful about it because there are so few big women on television who are presented in a remotely positive light. No, thank you. Yes, it's nice that Jane is kind and a sharp lawyer and pretty. She is also a bit whipped by life because she has been conditioned to disappear in the presence of her thinner cohorts. She makes what can be described as orgasmic faces over pastries. Other than Rachel Ray, who does that? Instead of finding that exercise can be fun and feel good, she whines that it's hard. She's not even that fat. There's no reason she couldn't be experiencing an endorphin high from a good workout. Oh, wait a minute. She's not model-thin, so the only thing that could possibly make her feel good is biting into an eclair. Give me a break.

I could be wrong, but I get the feeling that this show is either written by people who have never been fat or by people who are writing to accommodate women who want to see themselves represented by a bigger actress and those who think the big girl is good for a giggle at the same time. By presenting Jane as a person with intellect and feelings, a spunky hero to root for, they are trying to say the empowerment is there. By putting in the moments when the most physical gratification she gets is from eating a doughnut, they chip away at the dignity of the character with the dramatic equivalent of gaping at a fat person's grocery cart or dinner plate. Sorry, but you can't have it both ways.

After three episodes and going from hopeful that it would get better to seeing it get closer to the way I feared it would be, I'm done with this show. There have been star turns by larger actresses on television where their characters' size and beauty weren't the only things that mattered to them or to the people around them. There will be again. Lifetime, this is one favor from you I don't need or want.

copyright 2009 jas faulkner

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Michael Vick Question: An Interspecies Panel Discussion

This week Michael Vick will meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss his future with the league. A number of news sources have noted that it is highly likely Vick will be given provisional reinstatement and will be allowed to attend training camp if he is signed to a team.

I'll have to admit that my initial response was, "Well, that wraps it up for the NFL for me". After all, why would I want to invest time, money and emotion into following a league that would hire someone like Vick when people like Brett Queener and Alexander Ovechkin are still walking the planet as professional athletes? Being able to enjoy mad skills and almost otherworldly creativity in play shouldn't entail feeling dirty. (Okay, it can if you're with a group of women your age and older who are eyeing Tootoo and Little Ryan for all the wrong reasons, but...well, never mind.)

Maybe it was time to go beyond a gut check and get opinions from some friends of mine who love sports and could also offer some insight into human/animal relationships. Without further ado, let me introduce the panel:

Kevin has been an athlete since elementary school. His love of track and field events started when he went home from his third grade field day with a fist full of ribbons and a gift certificate from the local Krystal. His tastes have changed since then. Now he prefers White Castle, pina coladas and walks in the rain. He is Sophie's Daddy.

Sophie is a 14 year old golden retriever. Her athletic resume includes Senior Agility Camp for Fat Dogs, eating That Mean Bitch Chicken Trudy down to her demonic waist for chasing small children and marathon farting. She roots for Alabama football, Teller over Penn and everyone in the WNBA over LeBron.

Bernard is a retired Longhorn rodeo bull. He was rescued when someone found out that he was going to be barbecued due to his reluctance to get mean for rodeo audiences. He now lives on a small hobby farm with his adopted family. His favorite food is stolen cole slaw from the big church Tupperware bowl.

Maggie doesn't sweat, she glows. She will also occasionally wallow in the back yard kiddie pool. This lovely Hampshire sow adores Michael Phelps and thinks couture footwear is delicious. On cooler days she can be found in her Radio Flyer convertible, where she matches speeds with Jimmy Johnson. In her head.

Arnott and Tootoo are Beautiful Alice's sons' guard hamsters. They prefer nocturnal runs on their squeaky cage wheel, chewing and frantic relay sprints behind heavy furniture minutes before Gramma is scheduled to arrive. Their owners are still blissfully unaware that Arnott and Tootoo are female.


Me: Good morning everyone! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. Is everyone up to speed about Michael Vick?

Sophie:
Goodell has got to be kidding! I threw my squeaky badger at the TV when I saw the crawl under the Espys last night. I mean, come the freak ON!

Me: Does anyone else want to share their initial reaction?

Bernard: I wouldn't mind seeing Goodell and Vick booted around a pen. It would be even sweeter if they were upside down in rubber barrels.

Maggie: Heathens. Michael Phelps would never be mean to a dog.

Arnott: If Vick would be cruel to a dog, how effective could he possibly be on the field?


Tootoo: Defintiely a scaredy loser. He'd turtle the first time things got a little rough.

Arnott: Yeah. Is there an NFL team with pink jerseys?

Sophie: And ruffles.

Tootoo: And they could put "Turtle Vick" on the back.

(At this point lots of giggling ensued and I had to wait for everyone to calm down.)

Maggie: I know a turtle who would be better on the field. He's a pretty aggressive snapper.

Me: Kevin, what was your reaction?

Kevin: Well, I was disappointed.

Sophie: And?

Kevin: Very disappointed.

Tootoo: That's it?

Arnott: He's such a girl.

Sophie and Maggie: Hey!

Bernard: Of course I'm angry. I think that is the general reaction, but beyond that how does one respond? A decent person would understand his return to the sport would be problematic and consider other options. That he would do this, thus putting the onus on the league and the fans to forgive and forget, shows that he's still pretty self-centered. He needs to rethink this.

Arnott: He needs a swift kick in the harbles.

Tootoo: Yeah!

Me: Girls...

Sophie and Maggie: What?

Me: (sighing) Tootoo, Arnott...

Arnott: I'm just saying...

Kevin: Are you saying he should just go away?

Bernard: Maybe not that. There are other things he could do and still be involved in the NFL.

Maggie: That's a good point. Legally, he has paid his debt. He has a right to live his life and pursue what he wants. However, this doesn't mean he has a right to play pro ball. Something like that seems more like a privilege, especially given the nature of funding for pro sports, which more often than not are heavily subsidized by local taxpayers. Should the citizens of whatever city holds the franchise where he'd play be required to pay him to play ball? That's what it would amount to and I would be pretty resentful of my tax dollars going towards Vick's paycheck.

Kevin: That kind of cruelty is pretty off the charts in terms of bad behavior. I mean, people have been banned from sports for gambling, juicing and even talking trash about ex girlfriends. This guy tortured and killed dogs. Does he deserve another shot at pro ball just because he's dotted the i's and crossed the t's in a legal sense?

Me: People can change.

Bernard: Maybe he has. You know? I kind of doubt it.

Sophie: Me, too. And there's something about wanting to go back to the NFL that seems like he feels entitled. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Tootoo: Strong words from someone who eats poop.

Sophie: So do you.

Tootoo: Nuh uh. That's Arnott.

Arnott: I do not.

Sophie: Which of you is which? I can't even tell you two apart.

Tootoo: Oh nice. Poop eater.

Sophie: Oh, go lick your own harbles.

Arnott: That shows how much you know, smart girl. Hampsters don't have harbles!

Me: Okay, that's all the time we have for today. I would like to thank my guests, Kevin, Maggie, Bernard, Sophie, Arnott and Tootoo for joining me. Thank you, readers for clicking in. Until next time, this is Jas Faulkner hoping you have a good day.


copyright 2009 jas faulkner

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Who Are Those Children On The Ice At Centennial Sportsplex And What Have You Done With Vern Fiddler?

We're two weeks past the NHL UFA feeding frenzy and I have managed to not reach the level where all hope for future happiness is lost and donating all of my Predators shirts to Goodwill and bitterly vowing to only follow MLL for the rest of my days seem like good ideas. Seeing the new recruits on the ice was a tonic. That Poile boy did a good job this year. What I'm not so happy about is knowing that Vern Fiddler will be wearing Phoenix laundry. Yes, I'll get over it, but that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it.

Big Gay Kevin, his wonderful new boyfriend, Bilbo and I have been looking over the schedule for 2009/2010 and our feelings, they are mixed. Neither of our favorite Russians will be visiting this year. If we want to see Malkin being all Gary Cooper on the ice, we'll have to go to Peetsborg, tovarishes. Seeing Stitch, er, Ovechkin play our boys will entail some travel as well.



That doesn't mean Sommet is going to be innocent of thrills this coming season. My Pink-Eyed Slovakian Hockey Husband (HI MOM!) will be making multiple visits with his newest BeeEffEffs for the next twelve years.

"Why do you not love me, Jas' Mum? Marian sad."

We will also get a visit from Olli "Crazy Eyes" Jokinen and multiple visits from Big Joe and the Bitey Fish. Sounds like fun. Will this be the year the Predators become contenders for the cup? As much as I want daft Alex to get to cuddle it at least once in his career, I think it would be even sweeter to see Arnott, Dumont and the crew hoisting 35 pounds of awesome next June.


copyright 2009 jas faulkner

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Air Up There...


What to write about Steve McNair?

Like many Nashvillians and sports fans across the country, I am saddened by the events of this past week. What needs to be stressed is that the way he died was not the sum of who Steve McNair was as a person.

Please don't forget that that his was a life puctuated by instances of greatness that were tranformative enough to move an entire city. His legacy should be his football career, which was extraordinary. It can be found in the four beautiful sons who carry his name maybe even some of his talent. The love his fans, friends, family and the people who were part of the Titans organization have expressed for him is also a testament to who he was.

His efforts towards making life better for young people in Middle Tennesee and beyond has been part of the landscape for those who work in intervention for at-risk kids for quite some time. He was one of those rare celebrities who didn't require the presence of PR wonks and cameras when he reached out to kids who looked to him for inspiration.

There are a lot of people here and elsewhere who have expressed a desire to pay tribute. One of the best ways would be to support the foundation that bears his name so they can continue to do good. You can find them here: The Steve McNair Foundation

Rest in peace, Number 9. I hope they're taking good care of you where ever you are.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

O'Neill



When I was going through his pictures this afternoon, it was hard to decide which ones to use. As dogs go, he was photogenic but he dearly hated to have his picture taken. There are probably more pictures in my camera of his retreating fuzzy butt as he trotted away than expressive shots like this one of him blissed out on the couch.

That couch, by the way, was his. It was purchased with him in mind after he managed to destroy three of them by dint of chewing, dirt and general doggieness. This one withstood the last four years of his life and after me, my mother, his My Kebbin and Cookie Monster, it was probably one of his favorite things ever.



If you've read very much of this blog, you're probably aware of some of his antics over the years. Here's a bit more of his story:

He was part of a four-pup litter born in 1997 to a registered Old English Sheepdog mom. The identity of his father was always a little muddy. I have heard that his dad could have been either the doofusy Bearded Collie who loved to come visit or the suave Huskie who had a talent for climbing fences and a yen for pretty English girls.

When we first met him and his brothers at the shelter, the workers were pushing the other three pups, McNeill, McDuff and McGruff and letting O'Neill kind of languish in the background. His brothers had blue eyes or one blue eye and one brown eye and they thought it would be easier to get them adopted first. Also, O'Neill had feet like pie pans and was already the biggest of the four. I guess they figured things weren't looking too good for the boy. One thing he had over his brothers was a mellow, sweet disposition. He loved to play, but he also loved to be cuddled. There was never a question about which brother was going home with me that day. It's funny because when I brought him in for his first well puppy visit, the vet told me that they were worried he wouldn't find a home because of his brown eyes and quiet personality.



He was there through health scares, career changes, family crises. It wasn't until much later on I realized how much he served as my id, whether it was saying what I really thought about Sean Avery or farting in the general direction of The Worst Boss Ever and then smiling and wagging. A friend who was struggling through his dissertation while teaching full time considered O'Neill a brother under the fur. He went so far as to include O'Neill in the acknowledgments when he published his paper. He was a big, sensitive boy who adored children and small animals. He loved Spanish Guitar, C-Span and Sesame Street for background noise. He had a vocabulary of words and phrases that he recognized and would respond to when he heard them: pink squeaky, cookie, eating time is over, cornbread, go peepee, chicken, slider, go putter, cookie monster, Kebbin, go to bed and hey ball are the ones that come to mind at the moment. He loved summer and shared my thing for veggies. He would let anyone who dared to eat a stalk of broccoli without sharing know that they were horribly remiss in their manners and enjoyed delicately shelling and eating peas. The latter was the source of bets, astonishment and sometimes consternation for years.

Kebbin, or My Kebbin, is Big Gay Kevin. He was one of O'Neill's biggest fans, closest guy buddies and most vocal advocate for his rights as a Canine-American. I had never quite understood the dynamic behind married friends who got slightly resentful of their mates' buddies until Kevin and O'Neill laid eyes on each other. I might as well have left the house so the two of them could lounge on the couch together to watch PBS and eat White Castles. Whenever Kev came over, O'Neill would bound ahead of me and lots of growling and wrestling would ensue. I was lucky to get a backwards glance as if to say, "My company is here. Why don't you go into the kitchen and fix us some sandwiches?" If I had to pick a mental image that sums up their relationship, it would have to be one of the multiple times I've caught them sprawled on the couch, sharing a frappuccino. No, you did not misread that.

He died at home on April 29th. I won't go into great detail about it other than to say that after living a good, long life he realized he had worn out the body he was given and grudgingly admitted that it was time. He was and is loved and sorely missed by me and everyone who knew him.

The other day I got an email from someone asking me where he was and why he hadn't written about the Stanley Cup Finals or the NHL Awards. "Man!" The writer told me, "That dog is funny! You need to let him write your blog from now on."

I think he would have agreed.



copyright 2009 jas faulkner

Thursday, June 04, 2009

"What Is The Law And How Do You Read It?" Luke 10:26

Another Precis


This has to be one of the hardest essays I've ever written. Why? Partially because it's such a hot-button issue and I know that there are people in my life who will be very upset by what I'm going to say and partially because it's such a hard subject that I am afraid I'll be hurting more than helping by adding to the discourse. So now I'm putting on my virtual vestments, getting behind my digital pulpit and delivering another sermon. I really hope the next time I do this, it will be over something joyous. I'd much rather bring the funny.

Peace be with you.

Many, many years ago, probably before some of you were born, Dennis Miller was a young guy with big hair and the anchor's chair on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update. Yep. Seriously. And those Ramones t-shirts? There really were Ramones at one point and they were great. But that's for another day. I bring up Dennis Miller because he made a statement back then that drove home to me why I needed to rethink my views on reproductive rights. I believe his words were something to the effect of, "When I get a working uterus, I'll get a say in the matter."

It's a pretty simple answer to a very hard question. Who gets to decide? It would be nice if we could all, to a person, make a rational, dispassionate stand for the right thing. It would be nice if we could take stances that are free of our own experiences and influences. I just don't think it's possible and that's why I ask you to look into your own heart and open yourself up to hearing the people on both sides of the debate.

Are we even sure of what the right thing is? We weren't created from a single mold, all the same and cookie-cutter perfect. We are all unique and beautiful and molded from the same elements as the stars. That's right, you, me, everyone, we're the stuff of stars. Like stars, we're shiny, irregular and possessed of so much that is ours and only ours....and all made from the same stuff that makes up stars. Wow.

Who are we to question the wisdom of a diverse humanity? The writers of the Bible must have felt the same way when the inspiration hit for Chapter 38 in the Book of Job. To give you some context, Job has finally had enough and he questions God as to why he is being tested. Th response is 41 verses of goosebump inducing poetry that reminds us how magnificent the gifts of the world and life and humanity really are. Included in that poetry is a deft, unmistakably mighty swipe to the side of our collective heads to remind us that we don't know it all. We can't know it all and when we endeavor to decide who lives and who dies we need to ask ourselves what right we have to make that decision.

The men who decided that Pvt William Long and Dr. George Tiller needed to die claim they were doing it to protest actions that compromised the sanctity of life. They did so by killing two men, probably without ever knowing what these individuals thought or felt about what they were doing or why they were doing it. How damaged, how removed from the best part of what makes us human do we have to be to kill someone as a symbolic act?

The worst part of all of this is that Tiller, Long, and their murderers are getting lost in the verbage because we can so conveniently scoot them behind their names and their professions and their deeds as abstract symbols. Tiller becomes an almost faceless entity who represents the abortion debate and William Long, who was really just a kid, is barely acknowledged because the press and we as a people are so weary of debating about war. We can overlook the human cost because we can see these people as symbols in an argument over ideas. It becomes black and white and you're for or against with the luxury of never seeing how it looks from the ground.

This isn't a new idea. In Luke 10:25-37, Christ tells the story of the Good Samaritan. I think it's interesting that Jesus chose to identify the players in that story by their places of origin. In older translations, it is understood that tribal and regional prejudices figure into the reluctance of some to offer help to the traveler who was robbed and beaten. The Samaritan was willing to see a person in trouble and instead of looking the other way, he chose to be kind. At the end of the story, Jesus even spells it out for us:

Luke 10:36-37

36"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

37The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

So I think it's pretty clear. We have to be merciful. If it's not a part of your nature, maybe you need to fake it until it's real. That starts with empathy. It starts with these questions being more than platforms for talking points. Lives are changed, sometimes ended over these arguments.

I have said that we are molded by our experiences and their effect on us is unavoidable. In all fairness, maybe I should tell you where I stand and why. When I was young, I was pretty sure of what I thought about the question of abortion and the legal devices involved in reproductive rights and regulations. In 1990, I found out I was pregnant. I had no intention of backing away from anything I wanted to do, but to my surprise, I also knew in my gut that I was going to do my damnedest to be the best mom I could be. I even picked a school with a good education and early childcare development program so I would have resources available for my baby while I was in grad school. A month after I found out, I miscarried. My boyfriend at the time was relieved and everyone else seemed happy for me but me. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about what that child might have been like. I wouldn't wish this on anyone.

One thing I am grateful for is that I didn't face the kind of legal inquiries that women in my position have been subjected to in the past. When I hear about women who are dealing with the grief of losing a child to miscarriage or congenital illness, I feel some relief that the small mercy of legal protection is in place for them, at least for the time being.

I don't expect anyone to change their mind based on what I've written. All I ask is that you think about it. Whatever side you're on, whether it's the morality of our going to war or legal interventions regarding women's health issues, think about the Samaritan who didn't see The Other, he saw a person suffering and answered with kindness.

I've talked enough. Let's finish this up and get out of here so we can get seated before the first pitch.


copyright 2009 jas faulkner

Dennis Miller on The Right To Choose

I was looking for Miller's original comments on Pro-Choice/Pro-Life and couldn't find them. However, I did find this rant. Personally, I don't agree with Miller about a lot of things, but his views on social mores and pop culture are often pretty accurate, sometimes more so than we're comfortable admitting.

Now I don't want to get off on a rant here, because basically tonight's topic is a minefield - Abortion. I couldn't be anymore on tiptoes if the show was being produced by George Balanchine. This is the Big Debate, and I'm talking bigger than who was the better Darren on Bewitched. Abortion is our nation's "Final Jeopardy," and I'll wager, Alex, that if our nation fights another Civil War, it will be about this. And I would remind you that this all from my perspective, the male perspective, a one-step-removed perspective, because I will obviously never have to decide on whether or not I should have an abortion. And by the way, my belief is that if men were the ones getting pregnant, abortions would be easier to get than food poisoning in Moscow. Having men decide the fate of a woman's reproductive system makes about as much sense as asking Quentin Crisp to coach the Raiders. All right, enough qualifying, let's get on with it. There's no doubt that passions run high on both sides, and this issue has created a divide in this country not seen since Carly Simon last yawned in public. The prevailing opinions on a woman's freedom to choose are going further to the right than a Greg Norman tee shot.

Pro-life activists attempt to paint anyone pro-choice as having no morals. On the other side of the ledger, pro-choicers are tagging pro-lifers as crazed and backward bible-thumpers bent on running the lives of the people who disagree with them. The truth, as always, is, the case of human endeavors lies somewhere in between. As much as the advance scouts on either side of this issue might not want to admit it, good people do get abortions and other good people are pained by their decision to get one.

Where do I stand? Well, I'm like most of you, I presume, I think there are far too many abortions performed in this country. And I also believe that at the end of the day, as much as I might disapprove, none of them are really any of my business. Look, there are always going to be arguments on this issue. The debate will rage until the end of time no matter what the whim of the Papal infallibility or the politics of the decade. But the simple truth is, that such a passionate and personal decision dictates that the choice be left to the individual. And you know, that's really all we can do, because we're just human beings, stumbling around in the dark, trying to get to the bathroom and kicking the shit out of our shins on the way there.

Now there's some things all right-minded human beings should agree on. We should all agree that abortions should be legal in the case of rape, incest and when the mother's life is at risk -- that's just common sense. But excluding that obvious assumption, everything else in the abortion arena is "in play." There are many quagmires complicating this issue. Religion. Now it seems that religion is most often the backboard for every bank shot put up by someone making it their business to get into your business. Roman Catholic doctrine forbids abortion. Fine. Take that into consideration when you make your decision. Right-to-life proponents contend that abortion is immoral. Fine. Take that into consideration when you make your decision. Another pothole on the road to a sensible resolution to abortion is "when does life begin?" At conception? When a heartbeat is detected? At the first drawn breath? You know, for me it wasn't until last Tuesday. Until then I was just a sperm with an accountant! Okay, so those are the variables, and there are obviously millions more variables that make each individual case unique. But the more you think about it, and the more it makes your head spin, and the more confused you get trying to figure out someone else's life for them, it becomes increasingly apparent that it has to be the call of the individual who is pregnant, because the collective, one way or another, won't have to suffer the consequences of that most personal of all decisions.

My fellow Americans, it is time to suck it up. Look deep into your immortal soul (if you believe you have one) and do the right thing. Have the courage and strength to live your own life, by your own standards, and stop trying to call the shots for everyone else. We all live with glaring inconsistencies, and sometimes, when you see something going on right in front of you that offends you to the very core of your being, sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away, because you know that's exactly what you would want them to do for you. There's only one judge on all this and that's God. And you don't get to meet him until you go backstage after the play is over. And believe me, you do not want to get a "thumbs down" from the guy who created thumbs, all right? In the interim, everybody has got to tend their own garden vis-a-vis abortion. And remember, when it comes to your body, only you wear the robes, and only you carry the gavel.

Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.


-Dennis Miller



Note: I don't own the rights to this and couldn't find the appropriate contact or copyright information. If there's a question of this adversely affecting his or his publisher's ownership of his words, I'll be happy to take it down.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Peace

“Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him."

-Dr. Martin Luther King






"Nonviolence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our being."
-Gandhi


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jesus Wept

A Precis of Sorts


I'm not a minister. The thought of being one has occurred to me in the past, but it's not really something I look back upon and contemplate as a road not taken. It simply wasn't in the cards for me to be a priest. And yet tonight I have been thinking about what I would say if I was giving a sermon this Sunday. I am not sure where the need to write this is coming from, but it's there all the same. So here goes. By the way, I'll spare you the usual formalities from The Book of Common Prayer, so don't worry about knowing when to kneel, stand, etc.


Peace be with you.

The passage I would like to talk about this morning comes from the Book of John, chapter 11, verse 35. It will take you far longer to find it than it will to read it so let me save you the trouble.

Jesus wept.

Short, bittersweet and to the point. Jesus, who was the human incarnation of God, experienced something we all encounter and behaved- no, it was more genuine than that, it wasn't just rote behavior, he felt. His heart broke and he did what many of us do when we grieve, he cried.

In the context of the narrative, he wept when he heard that his friend, Lazarus, had died. And then, being Jesus, he performed a miracle, taught a lesson and moved on. It's a great story about friendship and the healing power of faith but the most important lesson we can take from that passage, which by the way is John 11:1-44 isn't that Jesus can raise the dead.

Let me explain. I promise I'll try to keep it short. As Christians, you know that the Bible, particularly the New Testament is intended to be a guide for living. And as Christians, you know that we are to look to the Bible to gain an understanding of how we are supposed to be if we are to be Christ-like.

Let me get a quick show of hands. How many people here this morning can raise the dead? Hunh. Me neither. So if we can't raise the dead what part of Jesus' example are we supposed to follow?

Jesus wept.

We cannot mourn or feel loss or weep tears of real pain for others if we don't see them as fully human. If we don't value them as much as we value ourselves, what does that make us? Monsters. To deny anyone their rights as a human being is monstrous. In those two words from the Book of John, we're given in no uncertain terms the example to follow, that we are to be human and humane and recognize the humanity in others and respond in a loving manner that is truly Christ-like.

I think Jesus and the authors of the Bible knew that some of us can be a little thick, so they spelled it out in even plainer terms further along in the same book. John 13:34-35, don't worry about looking it up right now, but I do want you to keep it in mind for contemplation later on. Where was I? In John 13:34-35 , Christ says: "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, that ye have love one to another." He didn't add any clauses or make exceptions or suggest that his love is exclusive or can be repealed or withheld based on certain conditions. He said, "love one another as I have loved you." Who are we to assume that any person or group would not be loved by Christ and would you want to follow someone who would withhold their love?

Right now there are people who are trying to withhold the rights of your friends, your neighbors, your brothers, your sisters, you fellow humans. They do this in the name of Christianity. They need, as we all do, to step back from Christianity and look deeper into the personality and spirit of Christ. People love to ask the question, "What would Jesus do?" I can't help but think that he has to look at us sometimes, do a facepalm and say, "I've already told you."

Thanks for hearing me out this morning. Now let's finish this up and get out of here before the Baptists get all the good tables at The Pancake Pantry.


copyright 2009 jas faulkner