Friday, May 22, 2009

Take heart, GOP

Apparently the politcal chatterboxes were handicapping the Lambert-Allen race in "American Idol" as a referendum on American's political views.

At least that's what I read the other day on Blue State Glamour Boy Adam vs. Red State Christian Kris. This was to be a continuation of the seismic shift in U.S. politics that began with the election of Barack Obama as president ... blah ... blah ... blah.

No offense to my President, who remains in my prayers. I didn't vote for him, and am not enamored with his policies. I am compelled to pray for him.

His popularity has been immense. Yet, his coattails didn't extend to "American Idol," and let us thank our Creator for that.

It's a talent show, for cryin' out loud.

I would imagine Adam will do just fine like some other non-Idol winners. Kris will make the requisite bad album and be cool, too.

Obviously, this election bodes well for the GOP, which can now bank on the idea that it will make serious gains toward recapturing Congress. And as for President Obama, he needs to start looking for a job.

After all, the people -- especially text-messagin' teen-aged girls -- have spoken. The response with Kris' win? Clearly, it's BHO GOTTA GO.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Uh, there is a, uh, situation

Six years ago, we got a chocolate toy poodle for our daughter as an early birthday present. My job in the evenings, after it got good and dark, was to walk the puppy up the street to the top of the hill and back to get her a little exercise and to signal to her that it was time to wind down for the day.

It was late October, maybe early November, so it was a cool night, but very comfortable as we walked the 100-150 yards up the street. As I got to the top of the hill, I noticed a vehicle driving up the street. The vehicle was moving very slowly, and the driver killed the lights.

The driver went past my house, and the house across the street wher e the Chow once lived. The vehicle, a red SUV, stops near me. It is on one side of the road, and I am across the road in a yard – oh, about 70 yards or so away from my house – 4 or 5 houses away.

“Come here,” the driver says firmly. “I’m a police officer.”

I am supposed to wear glasses. I don’t have them on. He’s not flashing a badge, and the vehicle doesn’t look like “an unmarked police car.” I can’t see well. I place my hand to my ear, as if I can’t hear, to buy a second to think. He repeats his command.

I’m not sure, so I do the first thing that comes to mind.

I take off, like a perp on the run, in a dead sprint toward my house. So, here’s ol’ Jet, at the height of his weight gain program, checking in at 275 or so, lumbering down the hill, dragging a 5-pound poodle along for the ride. There’s a scene in the movie “Stripes,” where the platoon is running the obstacle course and John Candy is tearing down hill through the woods uncontrollably. You get the picture.

I have no idea if I’m about to be shot in the back, or what will happen.
I cover the 70 yard dash in 8 seconds. OK, maybe 20 seconds. I stumbled up the stairs to my house, skinning my shin on the way. I run inside the door, lock the deadbolt, run to the kitchen door to make sure it’s locked, and zip around to the back sliding glass door, and double check it.

I yell to the kids, “Get in the basement, middle room, and don’t come out until I tell you. NOW!!!”

ElTurbo wants to question me. I yell, “I said, “Now!! Emergency!”

Mrs. Jet is in the shower, and I bust in, “Get out of the shower! Now! Emergency. Here’s your robe. Go downstairs with the kids. Don’t come out!”

She gives me that look I get once a week when she wonders “Who is this lunatic I married?”

I grab the phone, and I point at her, directing her toward the basement. I dial 911. I am on the verge of hyperventilation. My chest is heaving rapidly. My pulse is hammering.

The 911 operator answers.

“Yes this is ……….., and I live at 284 …………….. Drive. There is a man on our street impersonating a police officer. I don’t know if he was going to rob me or what.”

The operator pauses, “Hold on, sir.”

“Mr. …………….., it WAS a police officer.”


“Uh, there is a, uh, situation in your neighborhood. It’s better that you lock your doors and stay inside. Everything is under control, but please remain indoors. Thank you.”

And she hangs up.

I run to the basement to explain to my bewildered family why I look like a salivating maniac. We all start to head upstairs, and the phone rings.

I answer it.

“Yes, Mr. --------. This is the 911 operator. The officer who spoke to you would like to come into your home. “


“He wants to use it as a base of operation.”


“Yes, the situation in your neighborhood is at the house across the street.”


“Don’t worry. Everything is under control. The SWAT team is in place.”
“SWAT team!?!?!!?”

I return to Psycho Man again, chasing the family back downstairs into the basement. I close all the blinds on the front of the house, and turn every light off. I hang out in Stewardess’ bedroom, slightly separating the blinds to see what is going on. I know there is a young man who lives there – early 30s, engaged to a woman who lives out of town.

After 5 minutes, I call the 911 operator.

“Where’s the officer?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, he is based somewhere else now.”


Five minutes pass, the phone rings again.

“Sir, hello, it’s the 911 operator again. Do you happen to know your neighbors on
either side of you, and on either side of the house across the strreet?”


“Please call them and ask them to under no circumstances come outside.”
All I can think about is my next door neighbor. He gets a whiff of this, and he’ll camo up and be in the middle of it.

The good news is that he goes to bed early. I tell his wife what is going on, and she says, “You know I can’t tell ------------.”

“Absolutely not,” I say.

I made the rest of the calls, and I call the 911 operator back to advise them the neighbors have been apprised.

Over the next 30-45 minutes, I see a person walk around from the back of the house with a cell phone, talking on the cell. Walking back and forth every five minutes or so.

Then another car, which looks like unmarked police car, rides up and parks in front the house. A tall figure gets out and stands in the middle of the yard, talking on his cell phone for a long while.

Mrs. Jet, ElTurbo and the Stewardess keep trying to come upstairs, but I shoo them back down.

The guy comes around from the back of the house again, and he’s waving his arms and yelling.

Then, out of the trees, out the bushes, from under a car, come five SWAT team guys and they scoop up this guy, carry him away like a roll of carpet, and stuff him in another car I hadn’t noticed that was two doors down.

The main cop strides into the house, and four more SWAT team guys file in behind him. A few minutes later, the guy who lives in the house is carried out in cuffs.

The all clear is given, and the neighbors start pouring out of the houses.

When I get outside, I realize the main cop in charge was actually the sheriff. We weren’t buddies, but we knew each other.

“You have fun tonight, -------?” he said. Then he spoke authoritatively to the group. Everything’s fine. More show than anything else.

It turned out that the guy’s fiance wasn’t coming to Alabama to marrying him because her husband and three kids – that he didn’t know about – wanted her to stay.

He called his family and his best friend in a drunken stupor and pronounced that he was going to end it all. They called the law, and the law called him on the phone, and he invited them over and as many who wanted to join him in checking out were more than welcome.

That activated the SWAT team.

The sheriff said the man wouldn’t hurt a flea. Everybody seemed fine with that, and then the SWAT team members started collecting his firearms, as prescribed by law. He had an arsenal that would have made a National Guard armory jealous – assault rifles, hunting rifles, shotguns, pistols.

I walked up to the officer that orginally tried to stop me to apologize and explain myself.

He started laughing. “You shoulda seen yourself, dragging that dog down the hill. I’da paid to see the movie of it. No problem. At least you called 911 to check me out.”

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Pomp and Circumstance of "Pomp and Circumstance"

Twenty-seven years ago, I sat in a sweat box, cloaked in a blue cap and gown, suffering through the pontification of a college president who had been invited to speak at my high school graduation.

It was a muggy Alabama Monday night. There had been thundershowers at the end of the afternoon. Enough said. Mama had been released from the hospital after major surgery about 10 days before, and in a gymnasium without air conditioning, I worried.

As for the commencement address, I couldn't tell you a thing that was said between the thank-yous -- the one after the introduction, and the one at the end of the speech. It finally ended, and life began.

Monday night, it will be my son who will march solemnly to "Pomp and Circumstance." It will be my son who will surely fidget through a speech that if it is longer than 10 minutes, then it will be too long. It will be his turn to take a stroll across a stage, shake a hand, flip a tassel and begin life in earnest.

Oh, there's still a lot of youth in front of him, presuming that's what the Lord has in mind. Even so, the steps across the stage surely represent the entrance into a world of which they have dreamed.

Maybe in 30 years or so, he'll think back fondly on his night when he watches a child of his own make their walk. Maybe he'll shed a tear for the child who grew up too quickly.

I know I will.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

This Is a Test, Only a Test

Every time the Emergency Broadcast System required test blares on my television, I still jump a little. Maybe that's because I was a youngster when we worried that those Godless Commie Pinko Russkies might drop the Big One on us.

Save the horror of September 11, we haven't had a full-fledged crisis to stir us all to contemplate emergency response. For years, we've been warned of the impending "pandemic" that will serve as a "market correction" to the world's population.

SARS tried to do it, but it passed.

Now we have Swine Flu ... pardon me, H1N1. It has things stirred up in Mexico. Even the murderous drug gangs are wearing masks. Not surprisingly, it crossed the border into the U.S. (What hasn't?)

So, a wonderful opportunity for the media, the pharmaceutical industry, the government, and plenty of others to cash in on a situation has emerged. Worldwide, there are 600 confirmed cases of Swine Flu, and 141 in the U.S. Sadly, in the U.S., a mother and father lost their child.

The good thing is that this appears to be a test, only a test, for a real emergency. The sad thing is that it will keep occurring, and maybe we'll be too sensitized to respond when it matters.

Just use common sense.

Friday, May 1, 2009

I am using the old school typewriter font because I'm an old school guy. I will use this to confess my sins, my shortcomings, my biases, my hopes, my dreams, and my diabolical plots to advance my agenda.

I am blogging because I am scared to the point of twittering. I am on Facebook because I don't want you in my space. It helps me keep up with you, and you with me, on my terms from a safe distance.

That's because I don't want you to come over the house unannounced. In fact, don't come over at all. It's better this way. We can chat from over the fence, so to speak. On the jet, the view is always more beautiful from 10,000 feet.

In a way, it's like society in general. Forty years ago when I was a child, I knew the names of all my neighbors, what they did for a living, what their children's names were, and all that stuff. I ate a meal at least once in seven houses on the block of my childhood home. Folks from those homes found their way to our house, too.

Of course, last time we had neighbors over for a get-to-know you dinner, a few weeks later, she gave him his morning coffee in an unconventional manner, and he responded with the right hand of Christian fellowship across her jaw. They moved out -- he to the Elmore County jail for 10 days, she went somewhere else.

Thankfully, they moved away, and we did, too. It cured us of our odd desire to be good neighbors.

Today, I have no idea who our neighbors are, but I have their Social Security numbers. Not really. I don't know them. And they don't know me or my family. I could give you a couple of names, but if I were given a spelling test on their names, I'd be in trouble.

My neighbor behind me seems to be a nice lady. I call her "Nice Lady" to her face because I can't remember her name. I'll say "Hey, Nice Lady!" when we're outside watching our dogs sniff at each other through the fence. I notice there's a room open at her inn. Her husband hasn't been around since last fall.

Don't want to pry. Mind my own business.

She seems like a nice lady, always speaking in the two minutes two times a week when we see each other. Oh, she doesn't have a strand of hair on her head these days -- clearly undergoing chemotherapy.

Don't dare ask. It would be unseemly.

A week or two ago, my dog started going stark raving mad. I looked out the front door, and there was an older Asian woman trying to peer through the decorative glass door. I presumed it was the Korean lady who lives next door to me.

I hope it was, or I helped her jump off and steal the actual Korean neighbor lady's car who actually does lives next door to me. I'll take it on faith that it was my neighbor since she had the keys to the car.

I didn't worry about it for long. It's not like I know her or anything.