Friday, December 21, 2007

Get the Red OUT! Ben there; Done That!

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday
Morning Commentary. Since I agreed; I had to post for your review and consideration.

My confession:
I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does
not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up,
bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel
discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees.

It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, 'Merry Christmas' to me. I
don't think they are sligh ting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto.
In fact, I kind of like it.

It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time
of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on d isplay
at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu . If people want a
creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think
Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people
who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period.

I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly
atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we
should worship Brad and Angelina and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him?

I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of
us who are wondering where Brad and Angelina came from and where the America
we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a
little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's
intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane
Clayson asked her 'How could God let something like this happen?' (regarding Katrina)

Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said,
'I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years
we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our
government and to get out of our lives.

And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How
can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He
leave us alone?'

In light of recent events.....terrorists attacks, school shootings, etc.
I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body
found recently) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK.

Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says
thou shalt not kill, t hou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as
yourself. And we said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they
misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might
damage their self-esteem. (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide.)

We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said OK.

Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they
don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill
strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it
out. I think it has a great deal to do with 'WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.'

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the
world's going to hell.

Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible

Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and the y spread like
wildfire but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people
think twice about sharing.

Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through
cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and

Are you laughing?

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on
your ad dress list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they
will think of you for sending it.

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than
what God thinks of us.

Pass it on if you think it has merit. If not then just discard it... no
one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don't sit
back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

My Best Regards.
Honestly and respectfully,
Ben Stein

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Wednesday again....its the hump and I'm slidin' down the other side. This week will conclude work for 2007. By the time I return, it will be the NEW YeAr! Out with the old and in with new! I am looking forward to the next episode. So here we go. Seems like everything changes and change doesnt change. Se La Vie!

The Holidays: They can be really comforting when everything goes well. Typically it doesnt. People are always idealizing the "perfect family" "perfect Christmas" "perfect gifts" and the list goes on. Tradgiclly, Chirstmas is one of the most stressful times of the year. If anything is going wrong; it will be around Christmas. The money keeps going and the gifts keep flowing. Its quite easy to get caught up in the over commercialization and peer pressure buying frenzy.

The worst thing about holidays is when some great unforseen or inevitable strikes on such a day. That day becomes forever associated physio-emotionally with that time of the year...which is to say, every Christmas my stomach might tighten on the day of or before a bad memory. Luckily the opposite is also true. If really good things happen at that time of the year; then it can forever have an entourage of great tidings. I hope yours is the latter.

I suppose they are all good, holidays that is, and some are more favored than all. My hope is to stay hopeful and optomistic all year long. As I said to someone in line at the coffeeshop, "imagine if everybody treated everyone like it was Christmas." His eyes twinkled as he understood my inferrance. (Louis Armstrong plays in the background, "What a Wonderful World.") Ohhhh yeah.....

Holiday Last Chance Gifts!, Inc.

Friday, December 14, 2007

GROUNDED; :(!...with Friday Fixins

OF course the weather did not cooperate! I couldnt fly today. It's kinda ok. We rescheduled for next week. I spent the morning with my honey beginning with breakfast at Cracker Barrel....ahhhh. Oh yeah, not a work! even better. I have been TOO focused lately...way too tunnel visioned. I like MONEY and the life it provides....go figure. In the new year; I will have much more; whatever it takes. In complete disagreement with some; I am not conceited; but I know how valuable my contributions are and my willingness to excel and learn new things in the process. I have enjoyed my national customers and thanks for some great business. We shall kick it up in the new year! No more mercies...all debts paid or canceled.

The shiny sword slices through the silent wind humming as it moves from left to right. It returns to its sheith by the hands of the samouri without the eyes of the onlookers even noticing its motion from origin.

Well its off to the movies and relaxing. Hope you had a great day. Tomorrow I hope to awaken to snow. Its another very busy day; which means no workout for me. I still have 15 days to reach a goal of three lingering goals to be completed before the end of 2007. I will do that. I finish what I start and I do what I say. Thats what they remember; so they say. Put that on my grave.

Friday Fixins!

Peppered Pecans
Peppered pecans, made with pecans, hot pepper sauce, butter, garlic, and salt.

* 3 tablespoons butter
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 3 cups pecan halves

Preheat oven to 250°. Melt butter in a small skillet; add hot sauce, garlic and salt. Sauté for 1 minute. Toss pecans with butter mixture; spread in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake pecans for about 1 hour or until pecans are crisp, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes. Makes 3 cups.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

41 Shots!

I am now the same age as Halle Berry..."

Well another year of my life has passed since I first swam upstream, as it were. Alas, its been a long year of peaks and valleys – but such is life. It's been an incredible birthday full of all the things that make birthdays special. With a cornucopia of well wishes and tidings, the day stands as one of the best in some years. Ironicly, I tried to sleep in this birthday and just let the day pass; no such luck. My body woke up long before I wanted to...7am. Ironicly, my home of employment gives birthdays off; I never considered that before as a legitamate day to miss work; hence, everything changes. I went about my day after making a list of 15-20 things I needed to get done that could be done best when I wasn't at work and got all but one accomplished. That one I really needed; but I will definitely get it done too. I listened to Bruce Springstein as I drove from place to place with the haunting beat of 41 Shots in my head with every stop and go. December is a busy month! I was never supposed to live this long.

Well how about the gifts! Hmmm...I will start with my wife's; FLYING LESSONS! Yes, incredible as she is, this gift tops the charts from years passed. Friday I am scheduled at 10 am to lift off into the wild blue yonder. I have always loved flying since I was kid, from remote control gadgets, to rubber band powered toys to Air Force jets to flying saucers and not to be left out, the ole bicycle, block and plank. However I could get off the ground, I was in. Maybe some day I will get to skydive or hang glide too....but thats another blog.

We had a fantastic dinner at Demos with Tom and Cassandra. Of course, they knocked it out of the park too. Their gifts include a Salvador Dali, a leather-bond sketch book, custom T-shirts (one for me and one for my wifey) and a card! Wow! They are a great couple and we are all looking forward to a great new year of new opportunities and fun times. Even Mr. Demos came over and visited and laughed with us for a while. The Demos' are great folks and I have eaten at the restaurant for so long, I cannot remember; but he does. He and wife Doris are special people with a gift of smiles. Thanks Demos'....oh yeah, Ross and Tyler for great drinks: Jack and Coke, Alien Secretion and Desrano on the rocks!

My wife always marvels at how my family is so dedicated to calling on birthdays. Typically beginning at 7am, my phone rings for the rest of the day and/or email. This year was no different. I am truely lucky and extremely blessed...hopefully I do a better job of returning all that next year.

41 years old...hmmm I remember knowing people who were that old when I was still watching UnderDog and SuperFriends on Saturday mornings. Now it me; that old guy. Oh well...its been great getting here. I try not to ALWAYS be giving advice or my opinion or even polluting the air with my voice; I will do a far better job of that in the new year as well. December is a month of upgrade and revision for me. The next years direction and inhabitants are pretty much decided in December. I surf through the holidays; changes begin January 1; no exceptions and no mercies and no delays! I've been that way for as long as I was me and I am old enuf to understand and appreciate staying true to my still inner self that views everything as a luxury and or gift.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Fear UnChanges Everything!

I had a great weekend... one of those you wake up Monday morning, cut off the alarm, think 30 more minutes and wake up late, dashing for the shower, considering what you can skip, do I have to, still missing the warm bed weekends. Full and pressed down packed with fun and lovin,' it was a weekend to grin about. I ate all my favorite things, did nothing I should have and laughed all the way. I saw my little nephew CM (short for Christopher Micheal) do his Karate training for his next belt level, played Wii with Pickle and Tiny, ate Demos steaks and more! I even skipped my Saturday mega-max workout. Whew! In addition to all that, we went and saw The Mist by Stephen King. I was superised when Tiny brought it up since she doesnt do horror, demons, ghosts, posession or supernatural (all the fun stuff). So we went! I really enjoyed the movie. In fact I amstill thinking about some of its messages.

The Mist
Starring: Thomas Jane, Laurie Holden, Frances Sternhagen, Nathan Gamble, Jeffrey DeMunn,
Marcia Gay Harden, William Sadler, Andre Braugher

With this, his third theatrical adaptation of a Stephen King story, Frank Darabont has proven two things: First, that magic happens whenever he and King get together and the two of them should consider moving into a duplex. Second, that Frank Darabont is a sadist. He gets his jollies by hurting his audience. Not physically, but emotionally. Where other filmmakers get a reaction by ratcheting up the tension or raising the stakes to deliver thrills, Darabont does it by stabbing his audience with an emotional knife, and then twisting and turning it until we’re utterly drained of feeling. He takes special pleasure in sticking his switchblade into men, and previous Darabont directorial efforts like The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption seem specifically geared to hit that soft, gooey spot that the hardened, manly man ego keeps hidden away deep inside. Frank Darabont earns a living making grown men cry, and there’s no one better at it.

With The Mist, he’s done it again. By the time the film’s credits rolled I was wrecked, a mass of roiling emotion and depression. The movie sticks with you long after the lights come on; it lingers in your soul like a recurring nightmare or the shadowy vision of an inevitable and terrible future. It starts with a storm and a geeky, blink and you’ll miss it, nod to fans of Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” novels. David Drayton (Thomas Jane) and his family retreat to their basement to ride out the bad weather. When they emerge in the morning a tree has crashed through their front window, and the power is out. David and his young son go into town for supplies, leaving his wife behind. It’s at the grocery store where David first realizes something is horribly wrong. A man, bloodied and panicked, races into the store screaming “there’s something in the mist!” Just as David and the other customers look out the window to see an unnatural mist rolling towards the store, the city’s air raid sirens sound.

More terrifying than the horrifying creatures lurking outside the store are the two-legged beings lurking within it. The Mist is more than just some monster movie, instead it’s a careful examination of human nature. Darabont’s adapted script develops each character carefully, and the film’s real thrills come from following his group of terrified survivors as they fight, fear, and quite simply fall apart in different ways as hope drains away. Some turn to God and fatalism, others turn to logic, still others choose denial and pay for their refusal to face facts. David Drayton however, simply refuses to give up. ....more....

What scares us about what we cannot see? Why does the the removal of the things we take for granted really uncover who we are as humans; animals without fur, defiant to the end, survival at all costs. King really gives us a terrifying glimpse of the animal below the flesh of humans as things begin to unravel. No good horror movie is complete without some nutjob religious fanatic and Marcia Gay Harden delivers! King takes his time peeling away the venir of humanity as the just bits of the horror outside are revealed. His skill at his craft feeds you random sounds and heart-stopping jerks of surprise that make you lose track of time and just start breathing to keep from passing out. Unlike most of the King for TV movies, this one doesn't fall apart at the keeps going. In fact, perhaps this is not a horror movie about the unthinkable; but about the unseen that sees us every morning in the comfort of our mirrors just waiting for its freedoms.

Nobody hides who they are when they're terrified! Meanwhile, catch the second edition of The Mist; Revaporized! for deeper darker insights into the fog of humanity.