Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nobody Asked Me But Are They For Real?

According to The Tea Baggers, Birthers and everyone else who hates Obama he is not an American citizen who can legally hold the office of the President; He belongs to a fringe conservative Christian group who hates America; He is a Muslim in disguise waiting to subvert America at the right moment and he must of been plotting this since he was playing half-court basketball while he was a pre-teen. This implies he must of been a very busy guy who since he was a kid figured if he joined all the subversive groups he could hide his birth country and destroy America and let Islam triumph. Are they kidding me?

According to the Conservative element in our political midst we should privatize social security, gut medicare, medicaid and do away with the health plan just passed into law, keep the tax credits for the small portion of our society that holds the greatest portion of our wealth and this will make the poorer richer and the middle class stronger. Are they kidding me?

Based on who I know and what I hear the very people who benefit the most from social security, the new health law, medicare and medicaid, and will not benefit if the Bush Tax credits for the wealthy stay in effect,
support the conservative position. Are they kidding me or are they just nuts?

Have you noticed that most of the big banks are making tons of money and are paying very little interest to borrow money yet they pay practically no interest on their savings or checking accounts and have cut dividends greatly while their CEO's are making millions along with their other top executives? All this while they have continued to cut the work force or hire young inexperienced workers while getting rid of their older middle management? They do this while saying all their moves are in the interest of America. Whose America? They gotta be kidding me!

Have you noticed Wall Street is having a banner year. Goldman Sachs is making tons of money and paying very large bonuses. Yet unemployment is still around 10% with real unemployment around 16% and if you count in underemployment around 25%. Foreclosures are on the rise and middle class America seems to be getting screwed and loving it since they seem to support the very same people who are screwing them without even kissing them. Are we dopes or just gullible? They gotta be all kidding me!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

How To Lose A Baseball Season Yankee Recipe

Let Damon, Matsui and Molina go. What the hell they only provided spark and professionalism and gave the team character that resulted in some 15 walk-off wins. Molina gave Posada the backup that could throw and defend. Molina made Posada a better Catcher. Damon and Matsui provided needed hits that mattered as well as never letting their professionalism  fail them. All three were replaced by individuals who may have talent, be younger and greater potential but they weren't able to contribute on the level of these three.

Then develop a philosophy that seemed to always plan on the future without taking care of today's business. The professional athlete is somewhat of a head case. You have to convince him he is unstoppable and all that matters is winning. The plan is to come in first in your division. This not only gives you home field advantage but it further builds up confidence in the feeling of infallibility. Playing for the Wild Card position should only occur if there isn't a chance of securing first place. What should be always first and foremost is to come in as the best confirming to the athlete that he is the best with no one better.

Then when the team is in a position to win it should always go with its best. The Yanks had a dramatic comeback in game one against Texas. They should have gone out and stomped on Texas throat in the second game, go with their best, Pettitte was the best available but they went with Hughes thereby blowing the opportunity of going two up and wasting Pettitte's gem that he lost to Lee. All this based on statistics.

Statistics are history, numbers relating to the past but the game is played in the present, the now. You have to go with what the player is like now not how he was then. Two examples of the premise just proffered, Burnett was left in to pitch to Molina based on the numbers and Robertson was brought in to face Guerrero based on the numbers, one hit a home run the other a base clearing double. Clearly Burnett based on this season was in trouble although he had pitched well up to that point and Robertson had trouble just a day or so ago and the season was on the line. Burnett should have been lifted and Wood instead of Robertson should have been brought in and damn the numbers, what counts is now not then.

To conclude, take one very successful team, wreck its chemistry and over plan, over manage mix well put in the hot stove league and leave simmer till spring training.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Nobody Asked Me But Were These Two Movies Necessary?

You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger: Woody Allen's latest and possibly his worst. Some reviewers have said the laughs are there and actually liked this mess. I barely chuckled. A group of lightly connected miserable people who are searching for happiness but the more they struggle the more miserable they become. Anthony Hopkins is misused and is showing his age. More important Woody Allen seems to be forgetting his roots. He is a crazy type of comedian and should forget about being an artist and return to being funny. Allen peaked with Annie Hall, Manhattan and Hanna and Her Sisters and except for a rare work hasn't turned out anything of that magnitude although he is trying. This latest one rambles so much it appeared that he didn't know how to end it so he just did. His followers apparently think this was artistic. I know he couldn't do anything else so he let it die a peaceful death. If you do meet a tall dark stranger run for your life or you will be bored to death.

Stone: Robert De Nero, Edward Norton and Milla Jovovich is a movie that tries so hard to be artistic that it becomes boring. Ed Norton brings out the best in Robert De Nero who actually does some fine acting instead of just mailing it in as he has done over the past few years. However there is no action to speak of just talk, talk and more talk with gratuitous sex thrown in. Milla Jovovich is a beautiful young lady with not too much acting ability but plenty of sex appeal and I guess the Director had no other choice but to use that. There isn't a lot of these scenes but what there is is graphic without furthering the theme of the picture. What it sought to accomplish could have been done with less openly lewd scenes. What comes to mind is A Man And And A Woman a great French film of some thirtyfive years ago. Rent it and enjoy and feel how great artists from actors to the Director further the plot using sex without being overly graphic and you shall see what I mean. Getting back to Stone, Milla Jovovich is beautiful but De Nero isn't and at his age I'd rather not see him in these scenes unless of course it is entirely necessary, which as I said, I don't think it was necessary. Without giving too much away, another weakness of the film is its predictability and there is no resolution. Another attempt at being artistic that fails. Maybe, if you insist on going, it would be wise to have a few drinks before so you can be stoned as you view Stone, it could lead to enjoying it!

Friday, October 15, 2010

St. Luke, Was Jesus this insensitive? REALLY?

I do not purport to be a Biblical scholar. I do know that there are scholars that say that the Gospels may not have been written by the Saints they are ascribed to and that perhaps they were written by the communities that were established by these Saints. Almost all scholars agree that they were written many years after the resurrection of Christ, before that they were carried word by mouth. The originals writings were lost and many translations followed. Ergo it is hard to accept them as a word for word quote of Jesus. The important thing is the Holy Spirit has a point to make and does. However I would like to take this opportunity to treat two passages from St. Luke as though it was written by the Saint who travelled with St. Paul and question the veracity of the quotes he ascribes to Jesus as more of St. Luke trying to make his point. The first reading I would refer you to is Luke 10, 38-42, Martha and Mary.

Luke has Jesus dropping in on the girls and their brother Lazarus as he and his troop were travelling from town to town. They stay for supper and Martha is doing all the preparation and serving while Mary camps at Jesus' feet and listens to the men talk. Martha's feeling bushed and asks Mary for help and she doesn't move so Martha appeals to Jesus. He answers that Mary has chosen the best part and it will not be taken away while at the same time seemingly chastising Martha for being worried about things that really don't matter.

Now come on St. Luke did Jesus really say that. This wasn't a small thing you know. There were at least 13 men counting Jesus and his disciples and who knows how many others who were following him from town to town. But at the very least counting Lazarus and his two sisters there were 16 people and it could've been a lot more. This wasn't like feeding the 5000, she was manually preparing and serving. They couldn't call the local Pizzeria for a half dozen everything pizzas. Besides the fact Mary was sitting with the men which was a little unheard of. Even today Orthodox Jews keep the women apart from men so you can imagine how it was in Jesus' day. I am also sure St. Luke that as a Greek man you never prepared a feast in your life.
Jesus however seemed to understand the plight of the women of his day, in fact maybe he was one of the first feminist, remember how he treated the woman found in adultery and the prostitute that washed his feet with oils and dried them with her tears. I know St. Luke, you wanted to make your point and I guess The Holy Spirit's too, that the bread of life is more important then the bread needed by the body. But I can't see Jesus being that insensitive to Martha whose body probably was aching from being tired and the soul wanted a little of what Mary was getting. No, Jesus would've found a better way, a gentler way to handle this.

The second reading Luke 17, 11-19 The Cleansing of Ten lepers

Jesus and his guys were travelling through Samaria and Galilee when 10 lepers approached him and asked for a healing. Pretty tall order I'd say. Jesus was filled with feeling for them and he told them to show themselves to the priests. They were cured on the way. The Samaritan came back to offer thanks and Jesus commended him while seemingly chastising the 9 Jewish lepers, first for not giving thanksgiving to God through Jesus, and lacking faith. Again St. Luke, I know you had a point to make. Is it possible your Greek background kept you from seeing things that Jesus himself would have seen and recognized?

The first amazing thing about this story is that the 9 Jewish guys let the one Samarian travel with them Samaria was once the Northern Kingdom of Judea but they intermingled with the Pagans and eventually lost the faith. They hated one another as the Jews felt they were blasphemers and the Samaritans felt they were looked down upon and discriminated against, which they were. But as Lepers according to Mosaic law they were expelled from the community. They lived on garbage and what they could hunt until they lost parts of their bodies and eventually expired. Out of their need they bound together and tried to survive as best they could laying aside religious differences. Jesus did nothing but tell them to show themselves to the Priests. They knew according to Mosaic law only the Priests could readmit them into the community. Only when they were on their way did they become clean. The nine Jews were faithful to the orders and continued to see the Priests. First they had the faith to turn and head for the Priests before they had seen any change. That takes a lot of faith. I might have asked Jesus for something more tangible; Wouldn't you as a Greek, St. Luke? Then to continue only showed obedience to a command they truly understood as a mandate of their faith and doing what Jesus told them to do. Who knows? Perhaps they became followers of "The Way" and did great things? We do know from this recounting that they were men full of faith and trusted in Jesus. They followed his every word. The Samaritan actions proves your point St. Luke  and hopefully he returned to Samaria to spread the Gospel. His actions however in no way makes the 9 Jewish lepers any less faithful or trusting in Jesus. Now tell me the truth St. Luke, if you could express this story in a slightly different way and still make your point (AND THE HOLY SPIRIT'S) wouldn't you do it?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Aesop Fables For Lovers Only

A long, long time ago on what seems like another Galaxy a strapping young man met the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. He pursued her valiantly over a few years and she finally succumbed to his advances. The love they had was passionate and they were physically drawn to each other so much so that when they were apart it physically hurt. They united in marriage promising to love not only until death but throughout all eternity. They realized that their love transcended their physical attraction and above it all was the spirituality of their love. They looked forward to having a child as they viewed their offspring as the physical manifestation of their spiritual love. They had more than one child. They had many children. Gradually life with all the dirty diapers and needs that required sufficient capital began to catch up with them. They began to forget the thoughts of their offspring being the physical manifestation of their spiritual love. They always loved each other deeply and passionately but the cares of their world began to weigh upon them. Then she became ill with a degenerative disease that would take it's toll over many years. The deeper into her illness the further from reality she grew.

The deeper she grew from reality the more he came to love her. He would read poetry to her and try to remind her of their life but she could not retain anything. Even though she didn't really know him anymore she became to lean on him and looked for him to be with her. Their love had grown perhaps not the way the romanticists would have it but it grew for each of them somewhat differently, but it grew. Even while he was losing her he took great solace in being able to physically touch her, kiss her and laugh. Finally she had to leave him. Her pain was too great both physically and mentally. After she was buried and the family left, he was alone with her spirit. He moaned, "We were supposed to go together, we were supposed to love forever.". The silence was deafening. Through a psychic he was told that butterflies and birds were used by spirits to let you know of their presence. Everywhere he went, it seemed, butterflies and birds were around. At her grave he would sing the songs that meant so much to them in their lives. Little by little he became aware of her presence but he complained that he needed her physical presence also. One night in a dream he heard her whisper, "Remember when we were young saying our children would be the physical manifestation of our spiritual love." It was not a question rather a command. He woke with this in mind and reflected when their love was young and the world was a treasure to find while exploring life. He kept that in mind. His life was much easier now that he had her spiritually and when he saw his children he saw her. They and his grandchildren truly did bring her physically alive for him.

Finally he died and going through the tunnel toward that wonderful white light she was there helping him make that passage. They are happy in their love but haven't forgotten their children, grandchildren and all of their loved ones. The proof of that is there are many beautiful butterflies and birds around wherever the family goes.

I hope you enjoyed this fable. I hope there were morals in the telling for all fables must have at least one.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Families, Extended & Otherwise

There is something comforting about growing up in a large family whether it is blood related or neighborhood related. When I was very young my mother's family all lived within walking distance of one another. They gathered around their momma. My grandmother lived in the very next apartment so the main gathering place was at our place, because of Nana. Nana had six living children, three boys and three girls, four were married and two guys weren't. The married children had children who were somewhat older than me and my brother. My cousins would come to see Nana and the girl cousins had loads of friends who thought I was very cute and loved to hug me and I loved that, they were soft and smelled nice. My male cousins were into sports. My uncles were into sports, gambling and show business. There was always someone around, lots of yelling, screaming, eating and laughing. My father immigrated from Italy when he was 19. He came from a large family, 18 or 21 I never could get that straight, and joined part of his family that immigrated earlier in Waterberry, Conn.. They later came into New York and two uncles settled in the Bronx. My father and his sisters settled in Corona and that's how he met my mom. His side of the family was very Italian, not Italian-American like my mom's. But I learned early that the somber looks were masking a need to laugh, scream, yell and eat just like mom's family. My only problem was that they spoke Italian especially when they didn't want the kids to know what they were saying. They weren't as much fun for us kids as mom's family but they had one thing that endeared me to them. My uncle Tony, dad's brother-in-law would always give my brother and me a quarter whenever we saw him. Wow, do you know how much a quarter was to a kid way back in the 1940's? When I had kids they tell me he gave them a dollar, inflation I guess. When we moved from Corona to Flushing, Queens Borough Hill, we traded a neighborhood where every one knew each other for a new neighborhood where every one knew each other. In Corona there were more Italians. On the Hill there were Italians but more of a mixture that contained a lot of Irish. But we all melded into one community. We'd visit our family in Corona and The Bronx and lived very easily with our new neighbors.
Next door we had Louise who'd call my mom Sue even though her name was Lena, short for Angelina, she called my grandmother Sue, in fact she called all the women she knew Sue. She'd watch out for all the kids not just her own. If you did anything wrong someone would get it back to mom. Everyone made sure everybody's kid wasn't getting into trouble, which we did plenty, and that everyone was safe. The neighborhood was like having another family. A lot of yelling, screaming, laughing and eating. People shared everything including home grown vegetables and fruit. I can still smell the sweet odors of home made grape jelly when the season came for the grapes to be picked off the vines.

Over the years, families moved further away and distance can destroy closeness. Neighborhoods became exclusive and privacy has become more important than sharing one's life. We as a people have become withdrawn and focused on the things only affecting us. We don't want to be intrusive. Little by little our families have become smaller and our neighborhoods restricted to a few "hellos and How are You?" without
really waiting for an answer. Recently I have had two experiences that brought back the feeling that the extended family brought with it. I was on a weekend retreat with two sons and three cousins. The religious experience did not impact me as did the feeling of family. My two sons and two cousins had the giggles all weekend, starting even in Mass. They played practical jokes on each other and we laughed, yelled and ate. Along with all my cousins we exchanged stories sharing our collective memories. The other experience happened at a Baptism for one of my cousins, I think first, twice removed, where we had to travel some 60 miles and got lost to boot. My children with their spouses were there and cousins I haven't seen in years and others I rarely see. All of us, my my first cousin, once removed seemed genuinely happy to see us as we were in being there to share her and her husband's happiness. There was a lot of screaming, yelling, laughing and eating. Somehow our genes were speaking to us. In the retreat and the Baptism we were joining with each other because we were family and in that joining we brought all who had past into the gathering. Collective memory; collective living; shared experiences knowing of the past loves and renewing the new loves. Somehow, I guess that is what family is all about even the extended family which includes neighborhoods and friends. I shall never forget Corona, The Hill, Louise, my Nonna, mom and pop and uncles, aunts and cousins. They are what make up me and I hope in some way I am part of them.