Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Absent for a while

I hated to just leave my blog stagnant without an explanation. I won't be posting for the next week or so. My father is dying - it could be any day - and I just don't have the emotion to rant, or to try to be funny. Grief does that....

If you are praying folks, pray for my family.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pets, you gotta love 'em

The following is another excerpt from my humorous memoir, A Dead Tomato Plant and a Paycheck. I am almost finished with the second draft and have been sending out a couple of preliminary queries.

No family would be complete without their pets. We have had a number of them through the years, and they all have a story.

When Anjanette and David were young and Michael was just a baby, we had a cat, Nicky, who wasn’t too crazy about living with little people who pulled her hair and chased her. She had been my cat before I married Carl, and she just barely tolerated him before and after we got married. She would often get on the bed and insinuate herself between us, then push on him with her paws.

“Is she doing that on purpose?” he’d ask.

“Oh, I hardly think so,” I said.

Then a paw would hit a tickle spot and he’d go flying out of the bed. “That cat’s a menace,” he said. “She pushed me out of bed.”

“Honey, listen to yourself. You’re a grown man and she’s just a little cat. Besides, I’m sure she likes you.”

"Well maybe,” he conceded, giving her a sideways glance.

“Of course she does. Aren’t you the one who plays with her every day with the crazy ball? She loves that.”

“Well, if you’re sure.”

“I am. Now get back into bed.” I moved the cat and patted the bed.


This nightly routine repeated itself often, and many years passed before Carl started to really like cats.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Book Review - The Given Day by Dennis Lehane

I’ll admit upfront that Dennis Lehane is one of my favorite authors, so any review by me is not going to be totally objective. But you have to admit that an author who can capture a moment is such sparse words as this, is a master at the craft.

She whispered his name. She whispered, “Luther.”

All the old pain entered her eyes, all the old grief and hurt at what he’d done to her, all the fears and worry.

Could she open her heart again? Could she put her faith in him?

Luther willed her to go the other way, sent a look across the grass freighted with all his love, all his resolve, all his heart.

She smiled.

Good Lord it was gorgeous.

She held out her hand.

This is from Lehane’s latest book, The Given Day, which is set in Boston at the end of the First World War. It is a sweeping narrative that captures the political and social unrest in the country at that time, and is filled with memorable characters. The Given Day tells the story of two families—one black, one white—whose lives are intertwined, yet separated because of social propriety.

In addition to the beauty of Lehane’s writing, I enjoy reading his books for the insight into human behavior and interaction. Like, Steinbeck, Lehane is a master at that. The people are so real, you feel like you have met new friends by the time you finish the book. And the dramatic moments, like the example, are so powerful, they don't need a lot of embellishment.

Those who enjoy a book for the plot, intrigue, and pacing, won't be disappointed in reading this book. It has it all.


Disclaimer for the FTC: Dennis did not pay me, give me a free copy of the book, or coerce me into writing this review. I bought the book with my own $15.99 for the trade paperback. I will not sell the book, or my review, as I will keep both to read again.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Now for a little levity...

I figured since I did a couple of days of ranting, it was time for a break. My friend, Tracy Farr, did a hilarious post on his blog today. He wrote a letter to President Obama about Health Care. Here is just a teaser, and I hope you will go over to Tracy's blog and read the whole piece.

Dear Mr. President,

Thank you so much for being president. I thought for awhile that I might have to do the job, but since nobody would ever vote for a person who promises "jobs for everyone, better education, and a few goats in the backyard," it's probably best that you took it and not me.

Health Care Rally for a Public Option in front of  Senator Bill NelsonĀ“s Office
I know that you get many, many letters a day from people telling you what to do, telling you how good or bad you are, wanting you to sign up for new satellite TV service at great introductory low prices -- but that's not why I'm writing. I would like to talk to you today about Health Care.

Now, I'll be the first one to tell you that I don't know diddly about Health Care. For that matter, I don't know much about history, don't know much biology, don't know much about a science book, don't know much about the French I took. (Hmmmm...sounds like that could be some cool song lyrics. I'll work on that later.)...........

Find the rest HERE

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Proud to be an American?

For some reason the words to Lee Greenwood's song keep running through my head this morning, but not because I am so proud to be an American today.

I'm not feeling very free, as the chorus goes:

And I’m proud to be and American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘ Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

And I definitely don't want to stand up next to the people who are saying all the vile and nasty things about our government and threatening our legislators.

No, I am not proud to be an American today.

When I wrote yesterday about the cost of this health care reform fiasco, I had no idea what the cost might be in terms of civility and decency.

And the fact that people like Sarah Palin are fanning the flames of discontent with such Twitters as "Lock and Load, folks," makes me want to move to some deserted island in the Pacific.

I do love this land, almost fiercely, but I am dismayed at what people have brought it to.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Devil Made me Do it

I wasn't going to do it, honest. Blog about the Health Care Reform bill, that is, but these opinions just keep rattling around in my head interfering with an otherwise normal day of writing.

This reform scares me as much as the one proposed by the Clinton's, primarily because like so many other people, I don't think the federal government constitutionally has the right to enact such a law.

Granted the system as it operates needs to be reformed to stop the continued rise of health care costs, but there has to be a better way.

The price tag for this bill is staggering. Not only in what it will cost to implement, but what it cost in campaigning to pass it. Added to that will be the millions, perhaps billions, spent to defend it in court.

Hardly had the announcement of the bills passage been made when reports started flooding news outlets about state lawmakers who are lining up to challenge its constitutionality and wage an outside-the-Beltway war against it in the courts.

So now the government is going to spend millions to defend a bill that is going to cost billions and somehow that is good?

The other issue I have with the bill is the pork attached to it, pork that was given in exchange for votes. That is something Obama promised would not happen on his watch, and yet he was doing much of the dealing. I'm sure his defense is "that's the way business is done in Washington" and that is true. But he promised it wouldn't be business as usual in Washington if he was elected.

This nonsense we call politics will never change unless some brave politicos stop moving that line they will not cross until we can no longer see it.

What about you? Do you think the outcome was worth the process?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Responsibility Isn't Everything

Sometimes you just have to do it. Forget the alarm clock. Sleep in. Waste time, and otherwise be somewhat irresponsible.

So that's what I did this morning.

All last week I forced myself to try to get up at something close to my normal time so I could stay on my usual schedule, but this morning I decided to say the hell with it. I don't use a regular alarm clock; haven't in years. I set a mental alarm clock and can usually wake up at the time I decide the night before. Since we have lived out in the country these past eight years, my wake-up call is the sun rising and sending morning rays through our bedroom window.

This morning I told the sun to forget it, pulled a blanket over my head so I couldn't see the light. Sent a silent apology to my animals for making them wait for their breakfast, and went back to sleep.

When I got up I quickly got all the animals fed and had a sense of urgency to start my day in my office, but it was such a pretty morning, and the dog wanted to play ball, and one of the cats wanted to play, too, so I "wasted" a half hour with them.

But do I care? Not really.

What about you? When was the last time you threw your schedule out the window and just had some fun? You don't have to 'fess up if it was on company time and you don't want your boss to find out. I'm lucky in that I'm my own boss.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Separation of Church and State

Let's get it right....

One of the issues to arise in the debate in Texas over school curriculum and textbooks is the Separation of Church and State as mandated in first Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

Those who are against the inclusion in textbooks of any mention of God, religion, or the Judeo/Christian foundation of our country use this mandate as their trump card. If the State is not to be involved in religion, then we need to sanitize everything that our children are exposed to in school.

What these folks fail to realize is that they are trumping with a card that grants people the freedom of religion: The First Amendment to the United States Constitution (part of the Bill of Rights) prohibits the making of any law "respecting an establishment of religion", impeding the free exercise of religion, infringing on the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.

The key phrase is the “free exercise of religion,” and that freedom is given to everyone. If I believe in God, I am free to say so. If you don’t believe in God, you are free to say so. I can’t make you shut up, and you shouldn’t have the right to make me shut up. I shouldn't try to force my beliefs on you, and you shouldn't force yours in me. Simple as that, until the PC police get involved.

Banning any mention of God or religion is not going to make either disappear. And by including pertinent reference to religion and our Christian heritage as a nation, children are not being forced to believe in God or religion; they are merely being exposed to some facts. And if those children return to a home that is Jewish or Muslim or some other religion, or headed by Atheists, the parents can clarify that those beliefs they read about in school are not the beliefs of this household, but they are to be respected.

Share your thoughts here, keeping in mind that we will respect diverse beliefs.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Can We Stop This Insanity?

I'm going on record to say I hate the time changes. They mess with me big time. (pun fully intended.)

Sunday morning I tried to wake up at my usual time, except it wasn't my usual time. The clock said 6:30, but it was really 5:30, and who wanted to be up at that ungodly hour? The animals, who are on a pretty good routine and want to eat at 7 weren't even stirring. So I stayed in bed a little longer, which meant the whole normal schedule was blown to hell.

Monday morning wasn't any better. In fact, I daresay it was worse. I normally get all the chores done between 7 and 8, then have breakfast and start work in my office close to nine. But I couldn't wake up when the clock said 6:30. Just couldn't. So I slept until the clock said 7:30, which threw that whole day out of whack.

I've heard differing reasons as to why we have the time changes. One was so farmers could have an extra hour of daylight in the summer to work. Excuse me. Farmers work from sunup to sundown no matter what time a clock says. There are no extra hours of daylight.

Another reason I've heard is the time change came into effect so people would have more daylight hours in which to shop. That was supposed to help retailers. Some of the store owners I've talked to over the years said that didn't help sales for them. People were out enjoying the daylight in outside activities, and would probably be more apt to shop when it was dark and they couldn't spend time in a park or swimming pool.

So, why don't we abolish the time changes entirely?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring is busting out all over

One of my favorite things to see in the spring is all the wild, and not so wild, daffodils as they start popping up. Here in East Texas they grow wild along the roadways, but they are also popular flowers for home landscaping. They come up before the grass starts to grow so they can be planted throughout an entire yard.

My neighbors, about a mile down the road, have a gorgeous display of daffodils surrounding their house. Some yellow and some with pale outer petals and deep orange centers. They also have a huge old oak tree with daffodils planted around the base. Every day when I drive by I think I should take pictures, so the last time I passed and had my camera with me, I stopped.

I took a few shots and then one of their cats decided to come over and say "howdy." She seemed to enjoy weaving her way through the rows of flowers and liked having her picture taken.

What are the first signs of spring you see where you live?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Our Governement Dollars at Work

I'm still trying to figure out when "streamlining the federal budget" is going to start happening. If I recall correctly, President Obama had that as one of his campaign promises. So I wish he would talk to the folks who are handling the census and do a little streamlining there. We don't need a letter sent to every household alerting us that the census will be arriving soon. What an obscene waste of money.

And what about census forms sent to addresses that have no residents?

That is actually happening, and Humorist, Slim Randles graciously agreed to let me share this letter he wrote to the Census Bureau....

Dear Census Bureau:

You can’t imagine my thrill as I drove up to the gate yesterday at my cabin in the middle of nowhere and found that you’d left me a census form to fill out for the place, addressed to S. Navajo Loop, Belen, NM.

This was accurate, by the way, since my little cabin (designated “red cabin” on the envelope) is the only one on S. Navajo Loop. Your designation of red cabin is only half correct, though, because the other half of the cabin is painted yellow. And when I get more yellow paint, I’ll finish the job. The cabin is called “The Birdhouse,” as Bird is the nickname of my buddy who gave me the cabin. This doesn’t mean that very many birds live there, however. In fact, the only resident birds I can think of nest under the house and hatch some babies every summer. I don’t expect them back from winter quarters for maybe another month though. They are brown and nondescript and could probably be classified as dickie birds.

They are only seasonal residents.

As for permanent residents, there is one very long-legged jackrabbit who is usually seen in the yard when I drive up, but runs off when I let the dogs out of the truck. I have no idea whether or not he got married and had pups recently. He doesn’t stick around long enough to ask.

Now for serious permanent residents, I’d have to include the prairie dogs. My acre and a half has three permanent prairie dog towns. Not too big … more like prairie dog villages. As for race … well, they’re a sort of nice New Mexico tan, and for religion, I’d have to say vegetarian, as they worship my baby trees and hope I continue to plant more.

There used to be frequent visits of diamondback rattlesnakes, whose existence was terminated by me as quickly as possible. That is why God made shovels. However, last summer I spent all season without seeing a single one. This is thanks to one of my dogs, a Treeing Walker coonhound named Rocky. On Rocky’s frequent visits to The Birdhouse, he has taken on the task of making certain every rock, every fence post, every bush and every prairie dog hole gets at least a squirt and a half of his attention.

The large water dish on the cabin’s porch is so Rocky can reload when necessary.

Rattlesnakes being what they are, they don’t care for the smell of ammonia, so they have steered clear of the place quite nicely.

But of course there is never a clean victory in anything good because this also means the snakes steer clear of the prairie dog villages, so Mr. and Mrs. P. Dog are multiplying and replenishing the place at an astounding rate. This is fine for the population of prairie dogs, but plays hob with the population of Slim’s baby trees.

As for human residents, there are none. If there were, it would be me. I am 67, Protestant, Anglo, occupation newspaper columnist, don’t make enough money, dislocated my shoulder this fall while goose hunting, and must wear corrective lenses. But while The Birdhouse (whose official address is actually 6 Gobernador Street) is a hideout for an aging writer and cowboy who sneaks off as often as possible from the burdens of electricity and running water, I’m not really a resident. I live in Albuquerque with my lovely wife, Catherine, and we’re looking forward to filling out one of your forms when we get one here at the house. We have a mailbox.

I noticed on the envelope you left for me it says “Your Response is Required by Law.” Hey, I’m a law-abiding guy who loves his country. If you should have any more questions about the population down at The Birdhouse, you have only to leave me another note by the barbed-wire fence. And thank you, by the way, because in the eight years I’ve owned the place, this census form was the first mail I’ve ever received there.

Yours for a happy count of happy Americans,

Anthony V. “Slim” Randles
Belen, NM 87002
The Half-Red Cabin

Slim shares his wit and wisdom on in our Periodic Essays and Columns Department with his syndicated column, Home Country. And he has also written a number of books. For information about his books check out his Web site

Friday, March 12, 2010

Honor Long Overdue

I was delighted yesterday to see a news report showing the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) of World War II receiving the Congressional Gold Medal for their service. This was something those courageous women deserved and never received for too many years.

I was not familiar with the WASPs until a dear friend, Marianne Verges, wrote her book, On Silver Wings, which beautifully tells their story. These women pilots were not allowed in combat, but they served a vital role in ferrying troops and planes, tested aircraft, and performed many other noncombat flying duties in order to release male pilots for action. They went through the Aiy Air Force flight training program like their male counterparts and were the first women to fly military aircraft.

Before Marianne's book was released in 1991, not a lot was widely known about the WASPs. Marianne had met several ladies at an event at the Frontiers of Flight museum at Dallas Love Field, was intrigued with their story and thus began the two years of research that culminated in several articles and the book.

The Frontiers of Flight Museum and the Greater Dallas Writers Association - which Marianne and I belonged to - hosted a book launch party in November of 1991 and the guests included as many of the WASPS who could attend. I still have my copy of the book that was signed by 18 of those ladies.

Marianne died of cancer just a few years after the book came out, but until her death she was a strong advocate of the WASPs and campaigned for some kind of national recognition of their contribution to the war.

I can almost see her smile today.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Memoir Review

Not too long ago I received a review copy of The View from Brindley Mountain, A Memoir of the Rural South. I was anxious to read it for a lot of reasons.

First, because I have been reading a lot of memoirs lately to get a feel for how they are written as I work on mine. Secondly, because I love stories of the rural south. For some time now I have been reading some of the wonderful essays on a blog called The Dew and some of the writing is so eloquent it makes me stop and read a piece one more time.

When I saw the request for reviews by C. Eugene Scruggs, the author of The View From Brindly Mountain, I thought maybe his work would have some of that same southern charm.

I was disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong, the book has some good writing. The preface and prologue are engaging and read like a true memoir. However, as the book progresses, it turns into more of a history reference book than a memoir. There are lots of facts, some of them quite interesting if you are a history buff, but there is never enough of what these facts mean to the author or how they affected his life. Nor is there an overall theme that most memoirs usually have.

The reader is never really pulled into the scenes that Scruggs is relating. Rather, the reader stands outside looking in as Scruggs writes about what happened. How different from some engaging memoirs like Inklings by Jeffery Koterba and Eat, Pray and Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

What about you? What kind of memoirs do you like to read? What makes a memoir work?

Monday, March 08, 2010

Monday Morning Fun

It's been a while sine my friend Tracy Farr appeared on the blog. He has been busy trying to keep up with his goats..

‘The Great Goat Escape’ – a present-day adventure

There was a time when I had no goats. There was a time when I was a boring and pathetic excuse for a man. But now that I have goats, I live a life few dare to even dream of. So come with me now as I open up my journal and share one of my greatest goat adventures of all time: “The Great Goat Escape.”

3:30 – Left work early to make sure the goats were still in their pen. And were they? Of course not! And I could NOT figure out how they got out. Is it possible somebody LET them out, just to see me jump through hoops? Ah, I can think of a couple of people who’d stoop so low, but I don’t want to accuse anyone. Not me.

3:45 – Goats rounded up and back in pen. I think I’ll pretend to go inside, but instead, I’ll watch them from behind the bushes.

4:00 – Shhhh! Be still! I'm behind the bushes spying on my goats. I've got to figure out how they keep getting out! The key is to be sneakier than them. OH NO...I think they saw me!

4:10 – Okay, I’m in the house now looking through the back window. I’m munching away on a bag of chips, spying, and they’re just sitting…doing nothing. They probably “feel my presence” and are just waiting for me to give up. But I won’t. And I REFUSE to go to the kitchen and get a drink, 'cause that's when they'll escape – when my back's turned. I'm no idiot! And if I have to pee…well, I’ll just hold it until my bladder bursts ‘cause I’m NOT going to let these stinkin’ goats get the best of me – again.

4:27 – Okay, those chips were really salty and I could use an ice-cold drink. The goats are just sitting now; it looks like they’re dozing. So, I think if I run real fast, I might be able to pour me something and be back without…wait, it looks like they’re … no, they’re still sitting. Okay, here I go. One, two….

4:32 – Alright, I’m back. I even had time to… Hey, I wonder what that goat is looking at? She’s looking straight up into the sky as if she’s looking for a helicopter to come and break her out. Oh wait, she’s just scratching her back.

4:36 – Something’s happening. They’re moving around, rubbing against the fence. This looks like it might be it. “The Great Goat Escape.” No, wait, they’re down again. False alarm.

THEORY – There are some dead tree limbs in their pen. I leave them there because I’m too lazy to pick them up. I just wonder…is it possible they are using the limbs to pole vault over the top of the fence? It sure would explain a lot. I think this weekend I’ll get rid of those limbs.

4:51 – Okay, they’re both up and stretching.

4:52 – Now they’re back down and sitting.

4:53 – They’re both up again, pawing at the ground.

4:54 – Back down again.

THEORY REVISION – The pole vault idea was pretty dumb. I mean, they’d have to run pretty fast to get up and over, and those short stubby legs just can’t have enough strength to do the job. So, how ARE they doing it?

4:58 – Okay, they’re up again, moving toward the fence and now they’re…I can’t believe what I’m seeing! The mama goat is in a sitting position, with her front hooves together. She’s giving the other one an UPSIE! The little one’s up, now on her mother’s shoulder, and now she’s balancing on the edge of the fence like a tightrope walker. She’s reaching down a hoof, the mother has it…and now they’re BOTH over! If I hadn’t seen it with my own two eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it. What an amazing feat (or hoof)!

Impossible you say? Well, of course. I just made the whole thing up because I was getting bored.

5:03 – Goats still resting on the ground.

6:26 – Holy Smokes! It’s dark outside! I must have fallen asleep. Oh well, the goats are still in their pen, and they never get out after dark. But just in case, I’m going to place three “obstacles” in front of places that look like easy escape routes. I’ll put the lawnmower in front of one; stick a huge dead tree limb in front of the second one; and the barbecue pit in front of the third. Hopefully, they’ll realize that if they escape tomorrow, I might just have to use the barbecue pit to take care of the problem once and for all.

I’ll be sure to keep you informed.


Tracy Farr lives in East Texas with his wife and children and a number of goats. You can find more of his humor at his Web site He is also a regular columnist for, the online community magazine where I am Managing Editor.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Catching Up

First of all, since I was out of town when the Blog Carnival ended on Feb 28th, I want to announce the winner of a copy of my book, Play It Again, Sam. The Carnival was held by Classic Romance Revival and each of the participating authors chose a winner from the visitors to her blog. I am happy to announce that the winner from my blog is Sara J. Her name was drawn in a random selection process. Congrats, Sara.

The Take 190 West Art Festival in Killeen was a wonderful experience. The facilities at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center are beautiful, well-managed, and very comfortable. The staff at the Center, as well as Killeen library staff were all gracious hosts and hostesses, and I truly felt pampered.

Friday evening there was a reception for the artists and authors with delicious food -- we're not talking chips and dips here - and stimulating company.

Half of the exhibit area was filled with artists' booths, and the other half held displays from art students in the Killeen schools. The work was really impressive and covered a variety of mediums from sculpture to weaving to painting and drawing. It was fun to watch the students point out their work to their parents and share in the excitement of seeing their creation on display.

The professional artists also had quite a variety of work displayed for sale, predominately paintings. Burl Washington had a wonderful assortment of paintings and prints that depict the history of the Buffalo Soldiers, black Cowboys, and Blacks in Aviation. What a wonderful way to get a history lesson.

Another interesting artist I met was Todd Alan, who is known as The Crayon Man. He does all his work with crayons -- regular old Crayola Crayons -- and the results are stunning. I do some sketching with colored pencils, mostly just for fun or to share pictures in letters to my mother, but I have never thought of using crayons. And I'm not sure that I could match his abilities even if I stopped writing right this minute and concentrated on art.

I think one of the reasons I enjoyed talking to Todd was the enthusiasm he had for his work, and it delighted him when people stopped to admire it. Not in an egotistical way, but much like those children sharing their art with their parents. Pure delight.

Todd told me that he really enjoys visiting schools and talking to young people about art, and I'm sure those classes are a lot of fun. Children love it when you engage them on a creative level.

The other authors at the Festival represented a number of genres and age groups, predominately children's books and young adult. I was quite impressed with Jazmine Swanson, who wrote and published a young adult novel, Avalon, during her sophomore year in high school. What a wonderful accomplishment for this Killeen teenager. For a story about how the book came to be click HERE

After I have participated in an event like this, people invariably ask me if it was successful, and in the next breath they ask if I sold a lot of books. For me, the success is not measured by how many books I sold. It is measured by the interesting people I meet and the fun I have. Not to mention how many books I can buy. So this was very successful.

How about you? If you are an author or artist, how do you measure the success of an event?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Whose Ball is It?

A couple of weeks ago I posted an excerpt about soccer from my humorous memoir, A Dead Tomato Plant and a Paycheck. A number of readers responded to the story of beginner soccer players and how much fun it is to watch, and the readers asked if I would be posting more soccer stories. There are a couple more in this chapter about soccer, so here is another one. Enjoy....

For a long time I thought nobody would top Michael’s less-than-stellar debut at soccer, until one of my grandson’s started his first game.

Like Michael, Justin has an older brother who was quite gifted at the sport, and Justin played a lot of backyard soccer before joining a team. Also like Michael, he has a strong sense of what is fair and what is not. I mean, like really strong. The Gorilla Glue of fair play.

At his first game, he got into a debate with one of the defenders from the other team who took the ball away from him. Obviously, Justin thought the game ought to be played like the scrimmages with his brother who never took the ball away. Undaunted, the opposing player told Justin that it was his job to get the ball away from him.

“But it’s my job to put it in the goal,” Justin said. “And if you aren’t going to let me, then I’m not going to play.”

With that, he walked off the field. The coach, the other players, the referee, his mother and the rest of us were speechless. Then we darn near choked to death trying to swallow laughter.

Again, in the spirit of fairness, Justin did learn how to play on a team and did quite well at soccer for a number of years.


This is a real busy day for me. I am also guest blogging at a new blog that is devoted to teen reading and Y/A books. Hop on over to Teen Fiction and Other Stuff by C.K. Green if you would like to join in a fun discussion about being socially unacceptable.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Government For the People, Not the Party

Alex Massie, a British journalist, recently wrote an insightful column about the fact that our current government is less than competent. Far less than competent. His article was printed in the Dallas Morning News, but first appeared at

Massie started his essay by mentioning the fact that pressure was put on FDR to restrict foreign screenings of Frank Capra’s film "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington". Joseph Kennedy apparently said that he was worried the Allies would see the government in an unfavorable light. Apparently, the Senate Majority Leader, Alben Barkley form Kentucky, was also worried about the message of the film. He called it a “grotesque distortion” of Washington politics that suggested that the senate was nothing more than an “aggregation of nincompoops.”

The next line in Massie’s essay cracked me up, “So, not much has changed in the last 70 years.”

I have mentioned this wonderful film before when writing about politics and the comedy that is our current political system. The idealist in me wishes that the film would become required viewing in every political science class across our country. Then maybe some other idealistic person would say, “Wow, what a novel idea. We should do what the people want, not what the party wants. If I go to Washington, I will make a promise to change things, and I will live up to that promise. One in office, I will no longer be representing my party. I will be representing the people.”

Then another young person would get the same idea… and another….and another.

If nothing happens to change the status quo- whether it is my idealistic dream or some other effort, we are destined to have more of the same in Washington for God knows how long.

Massie wrote that “American elections used to have consequences. Now they merely determine which party the public wants to hate next.”

How sad. Is that the legacy we want for future generations?