November 2008 - Posts

"I love to go to Washington -- if only to be near my money." - Bob Hope

I know how to overcome worldly temptations and live according to God's standard. And you can, too, if you'll visit my website and send me $49.99.

What prompts this post is a catalog I received in the mail the other day and a follow-up conversation with Wesley on Sunday.

Sometime last week, I received a copy of American Vision's catalog [link]. How I got on the mailing list is a mystery but I could probably figure it out because I suspect I know. But that's not the point. I looked at the cover and chuckled. Yep, there were the catchwords or phrase necessary for that subculture of Christianity: "Excercising Servanthood Dominion." And I continued to chuckle as I viewed the books on the front cover. I don't have the catalog in front of me but as I recall there was something about the United States being a Christian nation, Luther and possibly something about debating atheists. And this is where my chuckle turned to LOL: I guessed that I would see a 1599 Geneva Bible on the back cover and was pleasantly surprised to find a thick, leather-bound book about the history of the ... wait for it ... Reformation!

What I find laughable is the same reason that I find my Wal-Mart center aisle laughable. I live in the South. My Wal-Mart is full of overweight, mullet-coiffured men and women dragging barefoot, sagging-diaper two-year olds around looking for good deals on DVDs and cheap jewelry. You'd think that there would be troubles for anyone who stereotyped the clientele as such, but, like any good marketer, Wal-Mart has pegged the NASCAR crowd and filled the center aisles with bargain potato chips, sunscreen, Styrofoam coolers, beer by the 24-pack and lawn chairs -- year round. There's a market for those things and people want them cheap and readily accessible ... from a Jazzy electric wheelchair.

Who are these people shopping for 1599 Geneva Bibles? Who are these people shuffling through the junk mail and pausing because they saw "Dominion," "Reformed" or The Christian Life & Character of the Civil Institutions of America. And I haven't even mentioned the Civil War because then my LOL would be ROFLMBO and I couldn't finish this post.

So, you may say, "Hold up, Joe. That's not fair." And, you're right, in part. I admit the AV catalog is filled with very valuable literature (some nonsense, but most is edifying) and it is what I call "meat and potatoes." There is some deep-thinking, solid, doctrinal literature, but, seriously, who buys a 1599 Geneva Bible?

But, for the sake of full disclosure and fairness, let's look inside the Lifeway Christian Store [link], the source of material for my beloved and home denomination of Southern Baptists. Not too long ago I was looking for Bible commentaries as gifts for BJ and Wesley. Before entering, I passed a guy who was crooning and selling some off-tune, religious "emo" music at the door. I stepped one foot in the door and surveyed the floor plan. Nowhere did I see "Commentaries" or "Reference Section." I asked at the counter. The answer: Walk toward the candle, incense and oil painting section, past the self-help section, turn left at the two-story VeggieTales display, hang a right at the Best Buy-sized music and video section and you'll see the History, Reference and Maps in a wire bin by the restroom.

Yep, although it stings a little bit, the genius marketers at Lifeway have pegged the typical Southern Baptist. Who are these people that pile into the car, drive to the Christian bookstore for nourishment and buy ... a Thomas Kinkade painting?

Since I've offended the Reformed group and the Baptists, let's go one step further and mention another Christian subgroup: Those that loooove prophecy. I say "prophecy" because I don't know how else to define it. This is the Left Behind group that really has been left behind. (I'll go ahead and group the Seventh-Day Adventists in this one.) I've never received one of their catalogs, but I'd assume that the catchwords would be "anti-Christ," "Hell" and "tracts." And right now I'm beating myself up because I can't find an example of this subgroup's website, but you know it. It has a black background, red letters, animated fire .gifs, a creepy picture of an angel and disproportionate mentions of the Rapture, the United Nations and AR-15s.

So, what's the point? I reckon the point is to ask, Are we really that shallow that we're pigeonholed into our specific subcultures? When can we expect unity? Other than that, I guess I'm just venting at the lunacy of Christian marketing.

In a doctor's office or in the waiting area to get my haircut five or ten years ago, I read a magazine article about a survey of men that showed, when kissing a woman, single men prefer the taste of alcohol and married men prefer the taste of toothpaste. Why I share that with you I don't exactly know. But I will tell you this:

Yesterday, I got home before my family returned from the Webelos meeting. The front yard was raked, the kitchen, dining room and living room were clean. On the computer desk laid a Bible opened to the first chapter of Galatians. And when I went to greet my wife at her return, the kids were clean, well-dressed and happy.

Now that's what makes my motor run. That's hot.

US Coast Guard"The Coast Guard’s motto of Semper Paratus or 'always ready' was officially recognized in 1910, and thenceforth appeared on the ensign. However, no one really knows how Semper Paratus was chosen as the Coast Guard’s 'phrase' and watchword prior to its formal acceptance.

"Whatever the case, in 1922, Captain Francis S. Van Boskerck was inspired to write an official U.S. Coast Guard song that would rival 'Anchor’s Aweigh' or 'The Caisson Song.' While in the cabin of his cutter Yamacraw, which was stationed in Savannah, Ga., Boskerck put pen to paper and the lyrics for 'Semper Paratus' were born.

"Five years later, while stationed in the Aleutian Islands, Boskerck composed the accompanying music on a dilapidated old piano in Unalaska, Alaska. The geographically diverse origins of this piece are fittingly illustrated in the song’s first line 'From Aztec shore to Arctic Zone, To Europe and Far East …' Semper Paratus remains the proud standard and song of the United States Coast Guard." (Military Songs - United States Department of Veterans Affairs)

Hear it [here].

US Airforce"In 1938, the Army Air Corps decided they needed an official song. Liberty Magazine sponsored a contest whereby 757 scores were submitted. Of those, one written by Robert Crawford was selected by a committee of Air Corps wives and officially introduced at the Cleveland Air Races in 1939. Crawford himself sang it in its first public performance. When the Army Air Corps became a separate branch of the military in 1947, Crawford’s march changed names from 'The Army Air Corps' to the 'U.S. Air Force.'

"Since that time, the first line of 'Nothing’ll Stop the U.S. Air Force' became a motto and tradition. On July 30, 1971, the original first page submitted by Robert Crawford in 1939 was carried into space in the Apollo 15 'Falcon' and broadcast to the world by Major Alfred W. Worden, who had a tape recorder aboard the 'Endeavor' command module. The 'All-Air Force' crew arranged to take the sheet music with them as a tribute to Crawford and the U.S. Air Force." (Military Songs - United States Department of Veterans Affairs)

Hear it [here].

Navy Seal"In an attempt to write a catchy tune to rally the Naval Academy’s football team, 'Anchors Aweigh' was born. Lieutenant Charles A. Zimmerman, the U.S. Navy bandmaster from 1887 to 1916, started the practice of composing a march for each graduating class. However, none of these tunes really caught on. In 1906, Zimmerman was approached by Midshipman Alfred Hart Miles to write a 'piece of music that would be inspiring, one with swing to it so it could be used as a football marching song, and one that would live forever.'

"Together, Zimmerman and Hart composed the tune and lyrics that became 'Anchors Aweigh,' dedicated to the class of 1907. The new fight song indeed propelled Navy to a win that year over Army. The march was subsequently adopted as the official Navy song and continues to inspire classes of Naval Academy Midshipmen." (Military Songs - United States Department of Veterans Affairs)

Hear it [here].

Marine Seal"An unlikely venue hosted the debut of a tune many now associate with the Marines’ Hymn. In the city of Paris, France, Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880) wrote and conducted opera and opera-bouffe (comic and farcical opera). Most believe the melody of the Marines’ Hymn was, in fact, taken from an aria in 'Genevieve de Brabant' composed by Offenbach. This tune was morphed to fit the now famous lines 'From the Halls of Montezuma, To the Shores of Tripoli.'

"According to tradition, an officer wrote the first verse of the Hymn on duty in the Mexican War (1846-1848). Meant to highlight the various campaigns of the Marines, the unknown author edited the words from the Marines’ colors and added them to Offenbach’s melody. Continuing the custom, every campaign the Marines participate in gives birth to a new, unofficial verse. Copyright ownership of the Marines’ Hymn was vested to the U.S. Marine Corps in 1991, although its first use as the Marines’ official anthem was in 1929." (Military Songs - United States Department of Veterans Affairs)

Hear it [here].

US Army Seal"Before 'The Caisson Song' was adopted as the official tune of the U.S. Army, it was the proud anthem of the U.S. Field Artillery Corps. During a long march in the Philippines, Lieutenant Edmund L. 'Snitz' Gruber overheard an officer roar 'Come on! Keep ‘em Rolling!' Gruber, whose relative, Franz, composed the Christmas Song 'Silent Night,' was suddenly inspired and that night wrote the now-famous melody. Fellow soldiers helped with the lyrics and in almost no time, all six regiments of the U.S. Field Artillery had adopted 'The Caisson Song' as a popular marching tune.

"During the last days of World War I, senior artillery leaders wanted to make 'The Caisson Song' official, and mistaking the piece as composed during the Civil War, allowed bandmaster John Phillip Sousa to incorporate most of the song into his own composition 'The U.S. Field Artillery March.' The song became a chart-topper during World War I, selling 750,000 copies. Discovering Gruber actually wrote the melody, an embarrassed but innocent Sousa made certain Gruber received his royalties. In 1948, the Army held a nationwide contest to find an official song. After four years of unsuccessful results and nearly 800 submitted scores, the Adjunct General’s office decided to recycle 'The Caisson Song.' H.W. Arberg arranged the U.S. Army song, naming it 'The Army Goes Rolling Along.' The Army copyrighted the song in 1956." (Military Songs - United States Department of Veterans Affairs)

Hear it [here].


Sure, it's not original. But any day I get a chance to use "crap" is a good day.

There were three medieval kingdoms on the shores of a lake. There was an island in the middle of the lake, over which the kingdoms had been fighting for years. Finally, the three kings decided that they would send their knights out to do battle, and the winner would take the island.

The night before the battle, the knights and their squires pitched camp and readied themselves for the fight. The first kingdom had 12 knights, and each knight had five squires, all of whom were busily polishing armor, brushing horses, and cooking food. The second kingdom had twenty knights, and each knight had 10 squires. Everyone at that camp was also busy preparing for battle. At the camp of the third kingdom, there was only one knight, with his squire. This squire took a large pot and hung it from a looped rope in a tall tree. He busied himself preparing the meal, while the knight polished his own armor.

When the hour of the battle came, the three kingdoms sent their squires out to fight (this was too trivial a matter for the knights to join in).

The battle raged, and when the dust had cleared, the only person left was the lone squire from the third kingdom, having defeated the squires from the other two kingdoms, thus proving that the squire of the high pot and noose is equal to the sum of the squires of the other two sides.

via [link]

Psalm 50:10-11, NKJV:

For every beast of the forest is Mine,
         And the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know all the birds of the mountains,
         And the wild beasts of the field are Mine.

"These Thousand Hills"

These thousand hills roll ever on
In footprints of a Mighty God
They bring me to my knees in praise
Amazing love, amazing grace

Was on a hill my Savior died
A broken heart, a bleeding side
Hill of the skull, Mount Calvary
The blood He shed, He shed for me

When heaven's hills at last I roam
Forever settle in my home
I'll join the saints around Your throne
Your kingdom, Lord, rolls ever on

These thousand hills roll ever on
Ripples of a coming storm
The morning star precedes the dawn
These thousand hills roll ever on

(Third Day. "These Thousand Hills." Offerings: A Worship Album. Essential Records, 2000)

1. Oxford University has compiled a top-ten list of most annoying phrases. Topping the list are "at the end of the day" and "fairly unique." You can see the list here: [link]. I commit to you, my faithful reader, to not use any of those phrases.

2. Somehow I missed this. On October 29, Presidential candidate Obama was criticizing Sen. McCain's proposal to privatize social security. He said:

Can you imagine if you had your Social Security invested in the stock market these last two weeks, these last two months? You wouldn't need Social Security. You'd be having a, ya know like Sanford and Sons, "I'm coming, Weezy." [link]

Now, how can a black man confuse "Sanford and Sons" with "The Jeffersons"? Everyone -- including white people -- knows that Weezie was George's wife. When Fred Sanford (Redd Foxx) feigned a heart attack, he called out to his late wife, Elizabeth.

Now, I ask: Is this man really qualified to run this country? This calls it into doubt.

3. On Tuesday evening I called my local Starbucks [map] and asked if they were participating in the Starbucks Election Day giveaway of free drip coffee. The nice barista on the line said that they would. So, on my way home, I stopped by for my free cup. But, as chance would have it, they poured two large cups and gave them both to me instead of pouring one down the drain. I took both home and transferred the contents into a Thermos and put it in the fridge. The next morning, I poured the cold coffee into a Tupperware bowl and heated it in the microwave in order to drink it during my morning commute.

I know that Step 1 is to admit I have a problem. But the only problem I could discern is that I didn't have a cup with 10% post-consumer recycled paper. And for that I ask forgiveness.

4. My favorite Supreme Court justice of all time is John Roberts, Jr. His confirmation hearing was an encouragement that there really are smart people still in this country. And this article cemented it for me: [link].

Officer Sean Devlin, Narcotics Strike Force, was working the morning shift. Undercover surveillance. The neighborhood? Tough as a three­ dollar steak. Devlin knew. Five years on the beat, nine months with the Strike Force. He’d made fifteen, twenty drug busts in the neighborhood.
Devlin spotted him: a lone man on the corner. Another approached. Quick exchange of words. Cash handed over; small objects handed back. Each man then quickly on his own way. Devlin knew the guy wasn’t buying bus tokens. He radioed a description and Officer Stein picked up the buyer. Sure enough: three bags of crack in the guy’s pocket. Head downtown and book him. Just another day at the office.

I guess you can say I have a man-crush on him. Ahh, he's sooo dreamy.

5. Gotta make it short today. Lots going on. Listen, get outside this weekend. The leaves are just past peak here in East Tennessee ... So, I'll be blowing and raking and dragging just-past-peak leaves all over my yard tomorrow. See you on Monday.

As many video game players know, each bad guy at the end of the level is harder than the last.  Take for example Bowser at the end of every World in Super Mario; the Bowser at the end of World 8 was clearly the most difficult.  Link would have to face one monster after another in the Legend of Zelda.  His whole adventure would then lead him to Ganon at the end.  Likewise, after beating all the rogue robots, Megaman had to take on Dr. Wily.

Just like in Mortal Kombat (Joe's and my vice as young boys), Senator Barack Obama is slowly moving up the ladder.  However, each bad guy becomes more and more challenging.  Obama beat Senator Clinton.  Quickly he had to switch techniques in trying to defeat Senator McCain.  So who is left?  Who is this Big Boss behind the big marble doors?

(change of music)

Democrats on Capitol Hill [link]

Bumped up to allow a proper defense of my manliness...

My wife absolutely loves facial hair. She begs me almost weekly to grow a beard. But in an effort to remain employable, I only maintain a goatee. So, because my wife loves beards I share this with her ... and you.

  • "10 Very Good Reasons Why You Should Grow a Beard" [link] (Warning: Some stuff may be offensive.) My favorite: "It's like having machine guns on your face."
  • "20 Manliest Mustaches and Beards From Facial Hair History" [link]. There you go, dear. Yes, there is a picture of Sam Elliot, natch.
  • World Beard and Moustache Championships [link].
  • And, just in time for today's presidential election, I present "Facial Hair and Presidential Elections" [link]. "The last man to win the Presidency with facial hair was William Howard Taft...."

Update: The ladder rung on which my manliness rests was called into question in the comments. My remarks remain as written as I understand the definition of "goatee" and "Vandyck." Although some may call what I have a "Vandyck," the common parlance for my "circle beard" is "goatee." At times, it may be called an "oval goatee" or "California goatee." I have chin whiskers that do not extend past my laugh lines. My mustache extends past my lips and connects to the chin whiskers below.

And while I admit that my goatee does not place me on the upper rungs of manliness, my potential manliness exceeds most because ... I'm Joe Stinkin' Napalm. So, there.

Dusty BasketballReally, this one is for my father.

Dad, guess who scored on your friend's team? Coach George Pitts' King College JV basketball team was scored on by Roane State Community College's seventy-three year old Ken Mink. It's no joke: [link]. Seriously, check it out.

And don't miss the comment at the bottom about "soaping the coach's office." Someone's going to have to explain that one to me.

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