Thursday, December 29, 2011

I'm not smart enough to be a woman. Part two.

Woman have to be smarter than men.

They have so many more choices.  Issues.  Decisions. Options.  Possibilities.  Worries. 

Let's start with just getting ready to go out of the house.

A man can get ready for anything in twelve minutes.  Work.  Hunting.  Black tie.  Golf.  Twelve minutes.

Do his necessary business.  

Shower with Ivory soap.

Shave (maybe, or partially). 

Brush his teeth.

Arrange the mop of hair on his head if he still has any.

Put his clothes on.


A man can be perfectly attired anywhere in the world for any occasion with this as his entire wardrobe.

One black suit.

One white shirt.

One pair of jeans.

One black tie.

One pair of black socks.

One pair of black cap-toed lace-up shoes.

One pair of boots.

Underwear optional.

Not nearly so easy for women.

Let's start at the getting clean part.  Well, only because the necessary business  part isn't polite.  But gents, women sell something to each other called PooPourri.  I swear. Look it up.  Number one selling item in those stores that sell women everything they want and nothing they need. 

But then it starts in earnest. 

Bath?  Shower?  Both? 

Soap?  Scented or unscented?  If scented, which scent?

And or, exfoliating or non-exfoliating scrub?  Bath or shower gel?  Bath or shower oil?  Bath or shower salts?  Or bubble bath?  Or milk bath?  Or milk bubble bath?

Wash cloth?  Loofah?  Bath brush?  Poof?

And then when the bathing is over, there is the next set of infinite choices that must be dealt with.

Just how emollient do you need to be today?   Tubes, jars, pumps, bottles, sprays.  Oils, creams, lotions, with and without scent.

Oh lordy, and the hard part hasn't even started.

A female business associate I once worked with explained it this way to her always waiting male counterparts at the start of the business day.

"You don't have to complete a painting every morning, now do you?"

I have no idea what order these things are used in.  But here is at least a partial list.





Shimmer.  Not to be confused with Glow.




And then there are eyes.  Mascara.  Eyelash curler things that scare the willy out of me.  Eyeshadow.  Eyeliner.  Brow liner.

And then lips.  Gloss.  Stick.  Liner.  Cream.

Please remember, for each and everything listed in the previous fifty lines of copy there are exactly one jillion choices of colors, scents, brands, and designers.  Not to mention the various tools, brushes, applicators and other weapons of the alchemist.

This is why Alan Jackson sings,

I'm sorry I got mad, waitin' in the truck;
It seemed like hours, you gettin' all dressed up,
Just to go to Shoney's on a Wednesday night.

All the while the buffing has been going on, she has to plan what she is going to wear.  And here the number of choices and the reasons why are impossible to calculate.

Who will I see today?  Have they seen me in this before?  Am I trying to impress, hide, flirt, be sedate, be outrageous, intimidate, please, infuriate, accentuate, emasculate or all of the above?

Dress.  Skirt.  Shorts.  City shorts.  Skort.  Cullotes.  Knickers.  Sweaters.  Blouses.  Shrugs.  Tank tops.  Tube tops.  Halter tops.  Camisoles.  Jeans.  Leggings.  Jeggings.  Tights.  Yoga pants.  Cotton.  Wool.  Indigo.  Gold lame.  Angora.  Sequined.  Lycra.  Spandex.  Darts.  Empire waist.  Hollywood waist.  Belt or not belt.  Shawl.  Oh shoot me now.

And don't forget, there is an entire selection process of mysterious undergarments that must be selected from.  Colors.  Fabrics.  Appropriateness for the occasion.  (What?  Different underwear for different occasions?)

I have a daughter in the fashion retail business.  They make trunkloads of money selling things that go under the clothes.  Things like Spanx.  And dimmers.  (I wish I had invented those.  $25 for two pieces of molded plastic to eliminate public party hats.)

And these are universal issues for women.

A few years ago, I was shopping on a Saturday afternoon on Oxford Street in London.  In one quaint shop,. there was a woman covered in full burqa buying the tiniest dental floss g-string thong thing in the brightest color of purple.   Allah be praised, indeed. 

Shoes?  Did someone say shoes?

Have you been in a DSW?  Or Nordstrom's?  There are two pair of guys shoes in the corner.  The other 87,000 square feet are filled with shoes for the lady.

Flats.  Platforms.  Low heels.  Mid heels.  Stiletto heels.  Mary Janes.  Clogs.  Boots.  Booties.   Knee high boots.  Thigh high boots.

Slings.  Pumps.  Sandals.  Thongs.  Flip flops.  Mules.  Skimmers. 

Open toed and closed toe.  (Although Nancy Reagan did say a woman should never let her toes show in public, and things seemed to work out well for her.)

Oh, and then there is hair maintenance.

With the exception of monastic Buddhists and Miss Tanzania, most women don't shave their heads.  (And after seeing Sinead O'Connor's recent photos, hallelujah.)

Those with long hair want it short.  Those with straight hair want it curly.  Those with brown hair want it blonde.  Some want it purple.  Seems very few want it grey.

So everyday for a significant number of women in this world, it's going to be a bad hair day.  After various options of shampoo, conditioner, straightener, curl, pomade, spray, teasing, brushing, combing, and those Satanic creations called hair dryers, it still don't look right.

Women around the world have to deal with the politics of gender in culture, business, government, and law. 

Women around the world have more complex plumbing systems and therefore more health issues.

Cysts.  When's the last time a man had to worry about a cyst?

Cancers of various parts of the body that men don't even have.

The whole reproductive cycle, peak breeding years, pregnancy (no man has ever died birthing a child), lactation, birth control that too often falls solely on the woman, hormones, menstruation, chapped nipples, breast infections, yeast infections, menopause.

And yet, women handle all this and typically live longer than their male counterparts.

And in the meantime, raise children, start businesses, create art, and make homes out of houses.

God said, "It is not good for man to be alone."  Because he made man with limited capacity.  Man couldn't multitask.  So woman was created to be the perfect complement to man.

I'm sure glad it turned out this way.

What time is the Outback Bowl?


Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Christmas Angel

I ordered the apron for mom out of a mail order catalog.  It was a November in the early 1960's.

Everyday after, I would check the mail.

"Dad, did a package come for me today?"

"Nope.  What'cha looking for?"

"Ah, nothing much.  Probably tomorrow.."

When school was let out for Christmas, I started meeting the mailman at the end of our driveway everyday.

Seven days to go.  Six.  Five.

My heart began to sink.

Then a package would show.   But it wasn't mine.  Not the one.

Three.  Two.

On Christmas Eve, we were busy getting ready. for the best day of the year.

Packages being wrapped.  Fruit cakes being sliced.  Ambrosia being chilled.  Phone ringing.  Big Papa and Momie stopping by to see what was going on.  Looking forward to seeing all my cousins.

In the joy and warmth and excitement, I lost track of the mailman.

He had come and gone that Christmas Eve.

My mom was the center of my universe.  She loved Christmas.  She loved to spread joy.  She loved to cook those once a year specialties.

I had spent hours picking out just that special gift. I had paid for it in cash with allowance money stored in my honey butter jar.  It was the finest apron ever made.

But now it wasn't here.  I had nothing for my mom for Christmas. 

"What's wrong",  mom asked.  "You act like Santa isn't coming!"

Little did she know how right she was.

As I moped around late that afternoon, I tried to think of something I could do for her since I had no gift.  Help around the house?  Draw her a picture?

I was in a total stew.

And then I heard the sweetest words.

"Oh, look.  The mailman came back.  He said he had overlooked something."

It was nearly dark on Christmas Eve.  And here comes the mailman with my mom's apron.

She wore it every Christmas till she died.

Thank you, Christmas Angel.

That Christmas about 50 years ago, you appeared as a mailman.

Wonder what you will look like this year? 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I'm not smart enough to be a woman. Part One.

Second only to my forthcoming bestseller, "Cats and Dogs, an Explanation of the Differences between Men and Women", my new friend Mark Gungor explains it best. 

Women are superior. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

One more thing I wish I'd said

Before we got married, my wife and I attended a course on marriage.

The teacher was a very interesting guy named Billy Grammer.

At the first class, we quickly figured out he was going to be deep.

Billy shared this point of view:

"The basic structure of  the universe is one of paradox or dialectic, which is the phenomenon  of two interacting forces, each of which find their meaning in the context  of the other (male/female, talker/listener, maximizer/minimizer, spender/saver,  etc.). On the surface there are two opposite polarities, each apparently contradicting the other, but what is found on a deeper level is the truth that both polarities are needed to express a greater truth and a greater reality. The tension that exists between these polarities is the drive mechanism for personal growth. The great temptation is to eradicate one side of the polarity so as to bring instant ‘relief’ from the tension generated by the two opposites. The point is this:  God has designed the universe with this built-in tension so as to push us toward the journey of growth (death and resurrection). We, in turn, are very reluctant to grow and wish to constantly get out of this tension so that we don’t have to grow. The truth is that every relationship we participate in forces us to face this dilemma."

It was at that moment I heard one of the funniest statements ever uttered.

A friend of 25 years in the class said,  "Oh, that explains it.  I'm not smart enough to be married."

I still laugh out loud when I think of him saying it with perfect pitch, perfect timing, and just enough volume to let all that needed to hear it, hear it. 

And it wasn't just that it's funny, it's probably true.  At least for me.  But I muddle thru anyway.

When's the last time you and your betrothed discussed the dialectic?  Or your polarity?

And now that I think of it, there's alot of things I'm probably not smart enough to be.  

Hmm, more to ponder.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Why are we so entrusting of a man with an aborted lamb fetus for a hat?

Hamid Friggin' Karzai.

Quaraqul hat.

Technicolor robe.

Nehru shirt.

Heart as black as Newgate's knocker.

But we western fools have propped him up as the titular head of Afghanistan. Cause he looked good. Heck, he was on Esquire's 2007 list of 10 best dressed men in the world.

Unto him we will entrust what the men and women of our militaries and information services have worked for, been wounded for, died for.

Hamid can't control his own brother, much less Afghanistan.

Hamid has already figured out life without NATO.

His ass will be grass when he can't hide behind our ACUs anymore.

So, he's made clear his allegiance to Pakistan over the United States.

He's making entreaties to those nice folks over at the Taliban offices.

Such as this sweet example of justice.

A 19 year old Afghan woman was recently raped. And impregnated by her rapist. For her troubles, she was thrown in prison for adultery. See, under the Talib way of thinking, it's her fault.

Oh, but wait. Old Hamid has stepped in to rectify this.

All this woman needs to do is agree to marry the man that raped her, and she will be pardoned.

And to this bastard, we are going to hand over security gains we've made against the Taliban and al Qaeda in that lawless land and entrust him with maintaining.

We will deserve it when the next 9/11 happens.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The awesome, queer, niggardly irony

One day soon, we are going to run out of words.

We so misuse, overuse, abuse and infuse our language. Many great words can’t be used because their real meaning has been lost.

“That is awesome, man. My car is awesome. My team is awesome. My new phone is TOTALLY awesome .”

Really? Awe is an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like: in awe of God; in awe of great political figures.

Your crap isn’t awesome. You might well like it, but awesome it ain’t.

For clarification, try this. Churchill is to awesome as Obama is to underwhelming.

Once upon a time, queer meant odd. Unusual. Out of alignment. It was a great word to describe something that seemed out of whack. “That’s a queer little house in the midst of these mansions.”

At some time a century or so ago, the word queer was used to describe homosexual men. In a derogatory way. Eventually, queer became a common slang term used in a negative connotation by heterosexuals. Queer became a way to put down someone who clearly wasn’t homosexual. “Oh, quit being a queer.”

Then, the word queer was adopted by homosexuals of all types as their own moniker. Like the television show Queer as Folk.

And now, maybe queer is bad again. I think it may have been replaced by gay. Which is misappropriating another perfectly good word. Do any of us now sing, “Don we now our gay apparel” and not have visions of Carson Kressley in our head? And thinking of that verse, when’s the last time you donned something?

So can I use queer or gay anywhere without causing a ruckus?

It’s become almost as difficult as the word black.

For example. Several years ago, in a mind numbing governmental meeting of the Dallas County Commissioners, there was a discussion of issues related to collecting unpaid traffic tickets. Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield stated, “It sounds like Central Collections has become a black hole.” Seems like a cynical, sad, true statement of missing money at a government agency.

But, no. Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price and other Dallas County officials said that Commissioner Mayfield had just uttered a racist statement and demanded an apology.

You see. Commissioner Mayfield is, er, white. Or flesh. Or Anglo American. Or Northern European American. Or a honky. I don’t know, but you get the point.

And the offended county officials were, well, black. Or Negroid. Or colored. Or brown. Or African American. Or Caribbean American. Anyway, they were offended.

That event took place about the same time that I and my son Zac got a great English lesson.

Zac was in the sixth grade at an upscale private school in Dallas. And one fine week, his English teacher handed out their spelling words. And on that list was the word niggardly.

Some quick background. Zac’s two best friends from the time he was old enough to walk until they moved away during elementary school years were twin brothers who lived across the street from us. Cody and Cory Hill. And they had a different skin color than Zac. Thankfully, not one of them ever thought anything was different about any of them. They were just kids.

When he transferred from public school to this private school in the sixth grade, Zac made a new best friend. His name was Chris. And Chris had the same color skin as Cody and Cory. Which was a different color than Zac’s. And Chris was one of about three kids in the whole school whose skin color was different than Zac’s.

Chris and Zac made each other laugh constantly. They could make eye contact and crack up.

And so when the teacher of English handed out the words of the week, Chris looked at Zac. And they both started laughing. And tears rolled down their 11 year old cheeks from trying not to wizz in their pants. Because they saw the irony in the situation.

And Zac got hauled to the principal’s office. Because the teacher assumed wrongly that Zac was misappropriating the word niggardly. And I got called to the principal’s office. And despite my protestations, Zac was suspended for a day for being racially insensitive.

From then on, I was niggardly with my donations to that school.

Oh, how ironic. Or was that coincidental? Or paradoxical? Or bad luck? Or, just plain dumb?

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Magic Playhouse

This is so cool.

Can't find it on the internet.

Not at any Black Friday sale.

If you can find one, you are extremely lucky.

It's called The Magic Playhouse.

You can crawl into this thing and you are transported.

One section is called The Dream Lair.

These are the directions on the outside:

"If you enter, make sure you make a wish because your dream will come true."

And then this:

"Star Light,
Star Bright.
First Star I see tonight.
I wish I may,
I wish I might
Have this wish
I wish tonight.

-Read this when you make your wish"

Inside The Dream Lair there is a very tranquil room with lots of tiny lights that poke thru the ceiling. You can lay on your back and imagine they are the stars. It is amazing how free, and warm, and safe, and fun it is. You can imagine almost anything in there, and it comes true.

On the other side of The Magic Playhouse is The Color Dome. Here, there are no rules other than to have fun. And have fun with color. Crayons. Pens. Markers. Chalk. Colored duct tape.

You can color the floor, walls and ceiling. Anything you want! And no grown ups can or will be upset!

There is a skylight and a window to allow enough light in so you can see all the colors.

Boys love it. They imagine forts. And race cars. And spaceships.

But girls really love it. It's where we can talk to our best friend and imagine what the world will be like and then it becomes real.

Grown ups just don't get it. Which is what makes it so awesome.

And best of all, you can't buy it. And each one is totally unique.

The one we just got is starting to wear out. Boys just don't take good care of things. Is there anyplace where they don't like to wrestle?

If I'm lucky, the next one will be even bigger. My daddy says there is a store that sells refrigerators nearby and they have really big boxes.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our Almighty Father

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sentient Beings

I was expecting the letter.

Although we had not anticipated any issue with the fire community about the TV commercial, we had spent considerable time talking about the parakeet. (If this blog makes no sense, please read the entry from a few days ago called, "When the air is on fire")

We expected some nutjob would protest that the man might have saved his pants before he saved the bird. Even though the bird is shown safe and sound at the end of the spot.

So, when an envelope from the good folks at P.E.T.A. showed up on my desk, I was ready.

Love 'em or hate 'em, you have to hand it to the folks in that ugly little building in Norfolk, Virginia. They know how to get noticed. They know how to use the media. They have a strategy and they execute it.

One of their ways of creating a ruckus is their annual bad behavior awards. The mainstream media just love to cover them.

Their modus operandi is to review advertising that depict animals in any way. They then determine whether or not in their estimation it is a positive or a negative depiction. If it is negative, they then send a "threatening" letter to the advertiser stating that said company and agency risks getting a Litterbox award if they don't stop running said ad. So if you don't bow to their threat, they get you. If you do bow to their threat, they also get you by announcing your willingness to negotiate with terrorists.

I already had my response letter written in my head. Not only had we saved the parakeet, we had already pulled the commercial so as to be kind to humans! And we had done it BEFORE we ever heard from P.E.T.A.

Their letter started as expected. Yep, we risked being on P.E.T.A.'s naughty list.

But then I was thrilled when I read what had them upset.

It wasn't about the parakeet at all.

We had offended cats.

In a magazine ad directed at young men, we had written something to the effect of, "The only bad thing about having a girlfriend is having to allow her cat to sit on your khakis."

The folks at P.E.T.A. said that cats were "sentient beings". Our ad had the potential to cause many a cat hurt feelings.

I still remember the note back to them. We explained that we had tried to focus group the ad with cats, but they showed total disinterest.

And we made a commitment. No more cat jokes, on one condition.

P.E.T.A. had to show us at least one cat that could read.

Still waiting on their response.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Jello World

Lemme tell ya, I am dis many years old.

And when I have a nudder birthday, I think I'm going to be ten. Or nineteen.

I got to spend the night with just me with PaPa and Lalea. Bubba didn't get to come. It was my birthday. Bubba is having his birthday night with PaPa and Lalea next year sometime.

PaPa and Lalea took me to the greatest place to eat ever. Jello World.

PaPa and I got there firstest. And we sat outside. And some people walked in. They were old. And had sticks cause they had broke their legs. I'm Superman. So when I broke my leg, I didn't need a stick. Cause I'm tough. Look at my muscles. They are made of steel.

PaPa is made of mushy stuff.

So when we went inside, it was awesome. I got to pick out whatever I wanted for supper. PaPa said they had more Jello than anybody. I got blue.

And chicken fingers. And salad with lots of ranch dressing. And macaroni. And mashed potatoes.

PaPa said we had to wash our hands first. He's so crazy. He has crazy hair. He says to sing Happy Birthday when I wash my hands. That way my hands will be clean.

But I had to go potty. And that made PaPa have to go potty.

Poor PaPa. He doesn't have Transformers underwear.

And then we went to PaPa and Lalea's house. And I got presents. I got a soccer ball. And I got cleats. The bump things on the shoes make me go fast when I run.

And then I got a Harry Potter cupcake.

And I'm a super hero. I'm Juggernaut. I can go fast.

Then Lalea read me a book. I took a bubble bath. I don't like diving. Wonder if I have nudder presents?

I don't like Dolphin Tales. I like Captain America.

Then PaPa read me a book. I like it. Wonder if I can take it home to show Bubba.

And I tried to go to sleep. I had a dream about baseball cause I'm gonna be a baseball man.

Then I got up and crawled in bed with PaPa and Lalea. They were drinking coffee. I don't use coffee.

And I had a biscuit. But I don't really like biscuits. And I don't use any eggs. My muscles are really big.

Then we played soccer. And I got a dragon blood snow cone. I breathed fire on PaPa.

And I got to swing. Why do these shoes have bumps on the bottom?

Monday, November 14, 2011

A thank you note

2LT Peter Haskell Burks was KIA in Baghdad, Iraq on November 14, 2007.

In May of 2008, we sent the following letter to thousands that had so honored Pete and so touched our family. It seems fitting to share it again as the circle of support has continued to grow.

To the thousands of you that have sent your love, support, letters, hugs, time, cards, boxes for the troops, phone calls, donations, flowers, blogs and emails,

Thank you.

You have encouraged us. You have reminded us of the strength of love, friendship and love of country. You have honored Peter’s life and his sacrifice. You have continued Peter’s legacy of service and giving. We have been in the middle of a circle of love that has amazed us. “It is the most beautiful experience we hope no one else has to go through.”

Peter inspired us all because he talked the talk and walked the walk. If you will indulge me, let me expound.

Peter was a solid athlete, but not the greatest athlete ever to walk the earth. He knew that.

But he had as good a heart as any competitor could have. He valued a team win more than anything. And he would work until he puked his guts out to make it happen. That is why he was awarded the “Unsung Hero” award by his high school football coaches.

And that is why we created the “Peter Burks Unsung Hero Fund” in his honor. The fund was created because immediately after learning of his death, we were confronted by the questions of “flowers or donations”. Nothing wrong with flowers, because they are remembered and they do comfort. But with no better idea, we created the “Peter Burks Unsung Hero Fund” with the purpose of carrying on Peter’s legacy.

He told us time and again that his job was to get his men home safe. Peter also felt a bit guilty because he had a strong support network that many of his soldiers did not have. His guys were excited when mail call came because Pete seemed to always be receiving some goodies from home that he would share. Just before he was killed, Peter had sent an email to Missy asking for help in gathering supplies of goodies that his men didn’t get from home or couldn’t get from the PX.

Since then, thru the fund and on your own, you have shown Peter and the other soldiers that we support them unconditionally. We have sent over three tons of love in the form of snacks, videogames, toothbrushes, etc. We have sent so much love that the Chaplain for Peter’s unit has set up a store where the troops can come in and “shop” for free. There stands now in the Green Zone in Baghdad something called the “Burks Country Store”. It opened on Christmas Eve. Hundreds of soldiers have been the beneficiaries of your love and support, and the store will continue to be restocked and expanded as we continue to be able to support it.

Peter joined the Army of his own choice. Peter had felt a calling to serve his country via the military since he was a very young man. Peter had choices amongst the branches of the military, and he chose the Army.

Peter was a student of world history. He understood the current global conflict because he understood its roots from ancient times.

In America today, we have a professional military. In other words, the men and women that serve do so of their own choosing. Their reasons vary: love of country, money for college, a taste for violence, the camaraderie, avoiding the lifeless soul of corporate work or a thousand other reasons. Peter was a professional soldier. He knew going in that one of the truisms was that, “the country will send you where it needs you and you die if necessary”. Peter understood that. He told us that. He wrote us that. Do not feel sorry for Peter Burks. He died doing what he believed in and doing a job that he loved.

And, he is not alone. As of this writing, over 4000 American soldiers have died in Iraq.

Also, do not feel sorry for Peter because he lived a life fulfilled. At 26, he accomplished what he wanted. He loved unconditionally and was loved unconditionally. He met his life mate. He fought for what he believed in. He had fun. He had convictions, he lived them, and he is at peace knowing that he never compromised.

Not surprisingly, Peter died with no debt. Specifically, no financial debt. So far as I can tell, Peter owed no other debts either. He had told the people he loved that he loved them. He told the people he disagreed with that he disagreed with them. He lived his passions. He wasn’t looking over his shoulder when death came to meet him.

Peter’s life was one of selflessness. He lived for others. He died for others. His role model was Jesus of Nazareth. Whether or not you believe that Jesus was the Christ, the life history of Jesus is not disputed. Peter, as Jesus, was a net giver. He gave much more than he took.

Peter was a young man raised on Southern cooking, Christian principles and the love of a good fair fight. Like football. He was not the least bit concerned that the possibility of winning or losing might hurt someone’s feelings. He believed in the concept of “iron sharpening iron”. Competing with and against the best could only make one better.

Upon graduation from Officer Candidate School, Peter was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant and went on to Field Artillery School and Ranger School. He was then assigned to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment. Once, the Cavalry rode horses. Today, the Cavalry rides Strykers. One of the Army’s newest vehicles, it is both an armed personnel carrier and a lethal strike weapon equipped with a number of powerful guns.

Peter was sent first to Taji and then to Baghdad and was the leader of Thunder Platoon, Palehorse Troop, 4th Squadron, 2nd Stryker Brigade. He was put in charge of 17 soldiers including veteran Sergeants and fresh graduates of basic training, 3 Stryker vehicles, and two Iraqi interpreters. Peter told us time and again that his job was to deal with the enemy, complete his missions, but above all, get his men home safe.

Their mission was to patrol and keep safe a sector of Baghdad that had been previously cleared out of insurgents by other Stryker units. They believed their sector to be one of the safest in Baghdad.

On November 14, Peter was leading his platoon back to their base in the Green Zone in Baghdad after a night out on patrol. The three Strykers were within a few yards of entering the gate to the Green Zone. They were literally getting ready to turn into their driveway. They were directly in front of the Iraqi police station there that is intended to ensure safety for military, local Iraqis, and the media in the area.

At about 8am, an EFMP (explosively formed penetrator) was detonated just to the right of Peter’s vehicle. The EFMP was a cluster of 5 bombs hidden in a light pole. The bombs sent white hot liquefied copper into and around the Stryker. Peter was standing in the right rear hatch with his shoulders outside the vehicle looking out for his platoon. There were five soldiers in Peter’s vehicle. Almost all were knocked unconscious by the power of the explosion. The shrapnel hit three soldiers. One was blinded in at least one eye. One has hit in the leg. And Peter took a chunk of the shrapnel into the right side of his head which penetrated his brain, and caused his death.

We know that the soldier blinded is doing ok and is back in the U.S. getting treatment at Walter Reed. The soldier with the leg injury is in Germany. The rest of the soldiers were back on patrol within a few days.

The EFMP was made in Iran. This was no coffee can of nuts and bolts. This was a sophisticated device that the enemy has learned to make that now trumps our technology. The Stryker was built to be impenetrable. It isn’t.

Who placed the EFMP? Well, certainly the police in that station were involved. We will probably never know for sure, but the only group to claim responsibility is JAMI. You can look them up on the internet. They are an Islamic group vowed to kill any occupiers of Iraq by non-Muslims. They are not directly owned by al Qaeda, but they are inspired by al Qaeda. They are Iraqi nationalists that are bound to fight to the death to protect Iraq, the second most holy country in all of Islam, from foreign occupation. There have also been fingers pointed at Shiite militias. We will probably never know and never understand the exact motive.

Peter understood the madness that exists in Iraq and the Middle East. He had read the script provided by the book that he encouraged us all to read, “Imperial Hubris” by Michael Scheuer. He considered Mr. Scheuer and Col. Ralph Peters as heroes because they dared to speak the truth about the world war that “radical Islam” has ordered against the United States and what we must do to survive and win this war.

Peter died a soldier’s death. He was on his mission as directed by his commanders and was doing his best to protect his men.

So, what? What do we all learn from this? What should we do?

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but here are some thoughts on “what”:

-That we are at war. That there are soldiers that have volunteered to fight the fight. Real men and women with families fighting a strange war in a scary place. Show them you appreciate them in any way you can.

-That the war in Iraq is being mismanaged as it has been since its outset. We went to war over WMDs. Then we were about regime change. Then we were into spreading democracy. Now it is a fight with al Qaeda.

-That our government, our military leaders, and our soldiers on the ground cannot say clearly what the mission in Iraq is.

-That our enemy does not respect the Geneva Convention or any other convention of war. They fight to achieve their objectives, just as the Japanese did in the South Pacific in World War II. They observe no rules. They wear no uniforms. Our military is required to fight as if they did. How does one separate a jihadist from the other populace?

One of the issues that Peter was concerned about are our Rules of Engagement. That is a fancy way of saying how our military must fight. For example, if our military sees an enemy sniper shooting at U.S. soldiers, we can shoot him if he is behind his gun with his finger on the trigger. But, if the sniper gets up and starts running, we cannot shoot him. We have to try to arrest him. Make sense to you?

We are playing into our enemy’s hands. They know our rules, and they take advantage. They kill our soldiers with barbaric ferocity. Yet, our soldiers are restricted in their response. The enemy knows of our political correctness, and takes advantage of it. They know our freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and they are taking advantage of those. They know how to use the internet and the media to spread terror. They show beheadings on their websites. Our media doesn’t show us the burned U.S. soldiers’ bodies hanging from a bridge over the Tigris for concern it will upset us. WE SHOULD BE UPSET. AND WE WOULD BE IF WE SAW WHAT WAS REALLY HAPPENING.

They can behead our soldiers. They can behead an entire group that does not agree with them.

Yet, if one of our soldiers in the heat of battle puts a bullet in the head of an enemy soldier, he can be called out for a criminal act.

We are in a world war called by radical Islam, as directed by Osama bin Laden. We didn’t declare it. Islam, under the call of Osama bin Laden, declared it. If you will read books such as “Imperial Hubris” and “The Looming Tower”, you will understand why bin Laden has declared war on us. Radical Islam has also attacked on every continent with the exception of Antarctica. Apparently the penguins haven’t offended them. Yet.

As Americans, we need to come to grips with this.

Peter disagreed with our strategies in dealing with the Global War on Terror, but he signed up and went nevertheless.

This letter is a call to you to get informed and get involved. Support our troops. Support our politicians, but challenge their policies and strategies. Why do we have such a presence in Iraq if we believe that the real issue is in Afghanistan? Could it be that Iraq has lots of oil and Afghanistan has none?

Those who have studied this conflict with Islam predict that it is going to eventually be fought on U.S. soil unless we change our strategies.

Peter is dead. If he were alive, he would be saying this. Take the battle to the enemy. Kill them. Punish them until they give. Let us as Americans be so smart and brave as to be totally independent of foreign soil for anything. Including, but specifically, oil.

Peter wanted to live the American dream. He wanted to marry his love, Melissa “Missy” Haddad. He wanted a house with a white picket fence, kids and dogs running around the yard.

Well, as much as he deserved it, he didn’t get to live out his dream.

Was it his fault? Was it the fault of a poorly executed mission? Was it the fault of a poorly thought out American strategy? Was it the result of our laziness and dependence on cheap oil?

What we know is that Peter was killed by shrapnel from an Iranian made explosive device detonated by Iraqi police outside the Green Zone in Baghdad.

How and why did he and that bomb get into that place at the same time? That is a question we must ask on behalf of our soldiers and for America in this world conflict. Was it worth it? What did this gain us as a country? Are we safer because of this sacrifice?

Friends, we are at a precipice.

We are at war because radical Islam under the banner of Osama bin Laden has declared it.

Until the United States has a strategy and the willpower to deal with this as a military conflict rather than a police action, we will continue to lose soldiers while the enemy gains strength.

In our attempt to continue Peter’s legacy, we urge you to get educated on the issues that have created this conflict. We encourage you to continue to support the troops in any way you can. We stress that this is not the military’s issue alone, it is your issue as well.

We urge you to get educated, get involved, and take a stand.

For all that you have done and continue to do for Peter and for us, thank you. Your prayers bring peace. Your thoughts bring strength. Your voices bring comfort.

God is with us. Peter is with us. Love is with us.

“No matter the circumstance, we must remember that we are under the control of a good God who loves us very much.”

-email from Pete to Missy in November, 2007

With love and gratitude,

The Burks Family

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

When the air is on fire

Herman Cain.

Penn State University.

Bank of America.

When the leering press descend on you, it is like the air is on fire.

From the breath of life to an all consuming inferno. Danger in every direction. No way out. Feeding on itself with no clear source of fuel except human speculation.

Doesn't matter if you are in the right or in the wrong. The media smells a hot story, and they will do most anything for a scoop.

I've experienced it twice.

It happened when Pete was killed. It's amazing how fast folks with microphones, cameras and deadlines can find your front door.

The other time was a business situation.

In 1996, I was the Chief Marketing Officer at Haggar Clothing Co.

We introduced a new khaki in September of that year. It really was a great pant. The kind of clothing item you just fall in love with because it is soft, fits great, looks great. It was even wrinkle-free.

Haggar was #2 to Dockers in the khaki world. As a strategy, we took every opportunity to let them and the rest of the world know we had better mousetraps.

So, we named it The Ultimate Khaki.

And to prove it was The Ultimate Khaki, we asked our advertising agency to convince America that men really would love this pant.

Goodby, Silverstein & Partners were, and might still be, the best agency going. They invented cultural icons like, Got Milk? Louie the wisecracking chameleon for Budweiser. And more recently, Chevy Runs Deep.

Our agency created one of the best televisions spots ever. It was funny. It was surprising. It sold pants. Too bad it only got to run twice.

The commercial opened with a father rushing his family out of their burning home.

As you see them running thru the flames, the camera would cut to their pet parakeet. Sweet little bird, chirping away, looking a bit anxious on the perch in his cage.

Once the family is safe outside, the father has an "OH NO" moment.

He rushes back into the blazing house. In his pajamas, he runs like a gazelle. More quick cuts of the bird. The man jumps over burning timbers. He is on a desperate rescue mission.

We see him searching frantically thru the flames and the smoke and the panic.

And then . . .

He finds his Ultimate Khaki. Safe and sound.

We all thought it was fabulous. Our retailers thought it was fabulous. The consumers we tested it with thought it was fabulous.

We put it on network TV in the Major League Baseball playoffs. You remember, that year when Jeffrey Maier became a household name when as a 12 year old kid he deflected a ball into the right field stands at Yankee Stadium out of the glove of Tony Tarasco of the Baltimore Orioles?

We aired it that first night of the playoffs. Twice.

And response from the market the next morning was terrific.

But on that morning after, a note appeared in a newspaper in a small town in Wisconsin.

It seems that our commercial had caught the attention of the chief of the local fire department. He was very upset that a commercial would depict what fire departments preach against. That being, returning to a burning house to retrieve anything.

And he was especially torqued off because that very week was National Fire Safety Week.

And so, the reporter for that small paper with a circulation of less than 2,000 called me. He wanted to know if we were going to listen to the concerns of his local fire chief and stop running the commercial.

I told the reporter that we could understand the chief's concern, but this was clearly just a silly commercial. It was a harmless joke.

The reporter shared my thoughts with the chief. And the chief's response was to say that we should do the honorable thing and stop airing the commercial.

And the reporter wrote what the chief said. And then the Associated Press picked up the story. And they called wanting to know what we were going to do.

The story had become small town fire chief vs. $500 million company.

Haggar was a great corporate citizen of Dallas. We knew the fire chief. I called and asked to meet with him.

I showed him the commercial. He laughed. Alot. And then he looked at me and said, "Alan, I get it. It's a joke. But if you don't take it off the air, the fire community will tear you apart in the media. You can put words on the screen to say, 'Dramatization'. You can put words on the screen that say, 'This is a joke. Don't ever do this in real life.' Alan, it won't matter. They'll win and you'll lose. "

By the time I could drive the 10 minutes back to the office, reporters were calling from around the country. ABC News. The New York Times.

"What is your response to the fire chief in Wisconsin?"

Calls to our PR guy in New York. Calls to the agency in San Francisco. Talks with other members of management.

The commerical was scheduled to air again that night. Less than three hours away.

We had spent over a half million dollars to produce the spot. Heck, the fire chief of El Segundo, California was at the shoot to supervise safety, and he didn't object!

The Wall Street Journal calls. The CBS Evening News calls and wants a statement for their broadcast this evening.

We had lots of options.

And what to do can still be debated.

We pulled the commercial. And we sent out a press release saying so.

We decided to listen to the fire chief of a small town in Wisconsin. Because we believed if we didn't, we would be barbecued in the press.

We were stewards of a great company and a great brand. The long term interest of Haggar was more important than short term sales and profits.

There were more than a few who disagreed. And maybe they were right.

I do know our answer satisfied the press, and we became a non-story as fast as we became the center of their universe.

I still have the plaque presented to us by the Dallas Fire Department for making a decision on behalf of public safety.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wiener Says Butts T'aint Clean

And you thought the Maryland jerseys were weird.

Well, in the city by the bay, there are bigger (well, perhaps better said, other) issues at hand.

Sometimes these stories just write themselves.

Apparently in San Francisco, it is not illegal to walk around naked. Anywhere.

Seems odd, but, that's the truth. However, it is illegal to walk around naked and be aroused. Now that's illegal. Even in San Francisco. Seems a rather sexist law if you ask me, but nobody's asking.

But that crazy-assed right wing City Supervisor Scott Wiener (who reperesents the Castro District) has proposed a new ordinance to limit those who can't limit themselves.

"San Francisco is a liberal and tolerant city, and we pride ourselves on that fact," said Wiener. "Yet, while we have a variety of views about public nudity, we can all agree that when you sit down naked, you should cover the seat. And, you should cover up when you go into a food establishment."

Thank goodness we can all agree on something, Mr. Wiener.

So, who is going to determine the adequacy of the seat cover? Won't this require a new civil servant force?

And, what if I am homeless and naked. Who will provide me with a free seat cover?

And, just what kind of food establishment will require covering up? Does that include Trader Joe's? Vegan establishments? A steak house? Surely, you don't consider that red meat as food do you Mr. Wiener?

The first offense, under Wiener's proposal, would carry a $100 fine. Breaking the law a second time within a year's period would land the offender a $200 fine. A third arrest would elevate the crime from an infraction to a misdemeanor and come with a penalty of up to a $1,000 fine and up to a year in county jail.

Uh, Mr. Wiener. I have no place to carry a wallet, so just where am I supposed to come up with $100?

And if I DO get arrested three times, what about my civil rights in prison?

Whilst the rest of the country is dithering about deficits, wars, and other trivial pursuits, just know the good folks in SF are dealing with really ________________ (you fill in the blank) issues.

Submit your suggestions here.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Road Trip from Heaven (Or Hell)

It all started simply enough.

Georgia vs. Boise State in Atlanta on Labor Day weekend.

Me and Zac road trip. Eleven hours over. Eleven hours back.

That was and is the plan.

Oh, but the potential for fables abound.

First, there are the 800 miles between Dallas and ATL. Lots of barbecue. Lots of fried animal parts. Lots of flatulence. Lots of male bonding.

If all goes as planned, we'll swim thru Dreamland in Tuscaloosa on Saturday around 4pm and end up in our seats in the Georgia Dome hollering WOOF by 8.

Oh, but there are a few more opportunities that have been put in our path.

This weekend in ATL, there will be the craziest mashup of rednecks, African Americans, Gay African Americans, Asexual Americans, Weird Ass Americans, White Supremacists from Idaho, Danica Patrick, Comic Book Princesses, Kyle Busch, Larry Munson, Clueless Americans, 2xist Underwear, Big Smith Overalls, two dogs walkin', Super Heroes, men and women posing as Super Heroes, innocent children, and a frightened population ever assembled in one Metro area.

Labor Day weekend in Atlanta. Georgia vs. Boise State. Braves homestand versus the McCourt Dodgers. A NASCAR race. The Black Gay Pride Weekend. Dracon.con (look it up: it's too weird to describe)

And oh, this just in.

Tropical Storm Lee will be dumping 20 inches of rain accompanied by 60 MPH winds all along I-20 on Monday. Our route home.

Don't know where we'll end up, but we're already on our way.

We'll report if we survive.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gilchrist & Soames

All I want to do is wash my hands and dry them.

Sounds so innocent and easy.

Oh, that's a man talking for you.

If it was up to straight American men, then this task would be so uncivil.

There would be a big ole aluminum sink. Aluminum so it doesn't matter if you scratch it. Aluminum so you can degrease your hands after fixing the Weedeater and not worry about it. Aluminum so you can scrub it with Bon Ami and steel wool and get the sucker clean.

An oversized faucet would curl over the sink with about two feet of room between the firehose nozzle and the strainer drain so you can get your hands and forearms in there. And occasionally your feet. A one-handle faucet you can control with your elbows with just the three settings: real hot, good 'n warm, well-diggers arse.

Just over the faucet would be a jug of liquid Lava soap. The spigot placed so that any soap drip would end up in the sink.

And, next to it would be a roll of paper towels. Preferably Bounty. White. No little paisleys printed in aqua. And no select-a-size.

That's it. All I'd ever need.

But again, that's for cretins.

Nope, we need two poofters from England to make a little round puck that smells like Eckerd's perfume counter on Christmas Eve wrapped in cellophane tighter than Dick's hatband. And likely to have the queen's stamp of approval on it. When's the last time she changed the flapper on a toilet? I mean, Prince Charles has never put toothpaste on his own toothbrush. What does royalty know about washing hands?

And speaking of such things, what do Englishmen know about bathrooms? Have you visited there recently?

They don't know the difference between come here and sic 'em when it comes to washing up. They have a hot and a cold faucet on the sink. In the fanciest places.

And what that whole continent needs is a decent shower. I think the reason their P.U. factor is so high is their showers are the size of a phone booth. And they don't have doors or curtains on them. And the hot water runs out in 30 seconds or less. Yep, a properly designed American shower that's 5 feet by 5 feet with twelve adjustable shower heads and a flat screen TV and a mini-fridge would do that place a world of good.

But I digress.

So Messrs. Gilchrist and Soames have not only taken over the sink, they've invaded our showers. In hotels. In the "finest" homes.

I was in a "fine" hotel recently where the two Poms had elevated showering to their high art.

One little problem. There were three tiny jugs of their mystical liquid stuff in there. And I don't wear my glasses to shower. And the type on the little jugs was so tiny (other than, of course, the words GILCHRIST & SOAMES) that it was impossible to tell the difference. Other than the three Easter egg hues of the liquids.

I assumed one was shampoo. I assumed one was conditioner. I assumed the third was something I never heard of.

So I avoided it all and did the best I could with warm water and a clean wash cloth.

Now as for the drying of hands, that too has become much too high-falutin'.

First of all, if a piece of terry cloth has fringe on it, I assume it's for decoration, not for utilization. Same for things monogrammed that are pressed, folded and stacked in a basket. Same for paper napkins designed by Versace.

Come to think of it, I think I've seen this bathroom of my dreams. Isn't that what surgeons have? Isn't that how the guys wash up at Aamco after fixing my tranny?

Stan Richards has built a very large, profitable and stable advertising agency. And I recall having powdered my nose there once. And that's how his mens room was designed. (Wonder how Stan's ladies room is designed? And why do some ladies rooms have couches?)

Anyway. My hands are all germy from using this keyboard.

I'm gonna go let the dog lick 'em and then hose 'em off outside and dry them on my jeans.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Secretary Gates and me

Secretary Gates had the stones to tell the UN today how worthless that organization is.

Gates warns of NATO becoming militarily irrelevant
By Daniel Strauss - 06/10/11 11:29 AM ET


I hope we will re-read this post from two years ago that is as relevant today as ever.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Leagues of Nations

There are two amazingly similar organizations headquartered in New York City.

They are both inefficient, ineffective, rendered powerless by their members and their structure, subsidized by governments, and over-subsidized by the United States.

And for some odd reason, when things get really screwed up both organizations call in former Sen. George Mitchell.

Of course, we are discussing the United Nations and Major League Baseball.

In order for an organization to be effective, it must have a clear mission supported by all of its members.

Well, lets start with Major League Baseball. MLB is the organization that is supposed to set the rules, promote the game, and keep the teams and players playing Major League Baseball in line. It has become an international organization now with teams in Canada, season openers in Tokyo, and a farm team called Cuba.

MLB is owned by the owners of the teams. The owners appoint the Commissioner. The owners make the rules. And for years, MLB has been an example of wild West capitalism which means the MLB is a joke.

Unlike the NFL, the team owners in MLB never agreed to play by the same rules either on the field or in the business of running their teams.

The NFL is a lot like Marin County. We believe in socialism, so long as we are all rich and this socialism stuff will make us richer and won’t interfere with our lifestyle. Like, we will send money to Habitat for Humanity, but don’t think of building one of your places in our neighborhood. Like, what do you mean a black owner?

Anyway, MLB doesn’t buy that NFL crap. Dog eat dog. The big dogs do what they damn well please. The small dogs beg for fairness and subsidies. So, the big dogs have made sure that the MLB commissioner will be a meaningless figurehead. No power.

And to make sure that’s the case, the owners have learned that the best kind of commissioner is one of their own small dogs. This is akin to Spike appointing Chester commissioner of the backyard. Like Spike isn’t going to lift his leg where and when he wants to without fear of punishment.

MLB can’t even make sure that their two leagues play the same game. One league has something called a designated hitter. The umpires have made up their own rules including different strike zones. Puhleaze.

The United Nations got its start as the League of Nations. The League of Nations was formed at the end of World War I. Its task was pure and simple. To make sure that war never broke out again.

A couple of little problems. The League of Nations had no power. No peacekeeping force. Germany, who started WWI, wasn’t allowed to join. And the United States refused to join. Oh, Woodrow, where are you when we need you.

So, after WWII, which seemed to indicate that the League of Nations wasn’t cutting it, the idea for the United Nations came about.

The original United Nations sort of made sense. It was formed by the Allied Powers (the good guys) to make sure the Axis Powers (the bad guys) would never be allowed to be bad again.

Rules for membership are clearly spelled out in the UN Charter:

"Membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.

The admission of any such state to membership in the United Nations will be effected by a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council."

Somewhere along the way, it turned into a bad joke. “All other peace-loving states” now includes Iran, Burma/Myanmar, Cuba, Sudan, Afghanistan and North Korea. Every nation on earth is now a member of the UN. The good, the bad, the inconsequential.

Every nation is supposed to contribute on a fair “tax” basis (what a novel idea) to the UN fund. Supposed being the key word.

The UN annual budget is around $20 billion. The United States pays 22% of that. China pays 2%. Yet China has just as much say as the United States on UN decisions and policy. What? If you don’t pay your fair share of your PTA dues you don’t get to be a member and you are held up for public scorn. Not so at the UN.

As for the Secretary General, well s/he is selected by the member states. And since the member states don’t agree on much of anything, they are surely not going to allow someone from a big dog state to be Secretary General. So, we have Secretary Generals from South Korea, Ghana, etc. They strike as much fear as the robins-egg-blue helmeted UN peacekeeping force.

Here are a couple of thoughts on how to improve the effectiveness of the UN.

1. Get rid of the permanent headquarters. Move the meetings around to where the problems are you are trying to solve. There isn’t all that much poverty and violence on the East side of Manhattan. Why not move your meetings around between Mogadishu, Peshawar, Rangoon, Kabul, and other such places that most of the UN ambassadors have never visited. We know. The restaurants and the shopping won’t be quite as good as New York. But you will learn to love the taste of terrier.

2. The only real thing of value at the UN is that 18 acres of prime New York real estate that was donated by John D. Rockefeller. That land is not part of the United States. It is international territory. So sign a 99-year deal with Steve Wynn and let him turn it into Macau. Complete with the global array of prostitution and drugs. Then, the UN collects a big annual fee from this activity to go out and try to stop the prostitution and the flow of drugs in the real world.

Sen. Mitchell, if you need some help, give me a call.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It's headed the wrong way

Things are likely headed the wrong way when . . .

You are in the men's room taking care of some business in terminal C at DFW after sprinting from the parking lot on an August morning in your best suit getting ready for a long day trip to your largest customer when the toilet decides to autoflush and you see several gallons of water pour into your taped seat seams and your captoe shoes.

You reach for that pencil behind your ear and find a tampon.

You leave for work on an icy January morning and slip on the front porch and spill your coffee and sprain your ankle and you go back inside and reload and start over and this time slip on the ice in the driveway and fall on your tuckus under which is your lunch bag and now you are covered with not only hot coffee but chocolate pudding.

You are in the shower at 6:30 in the morning and your teenage son comes and tells you some strange person is at the door with a package for you and you assume it's some overnight delivery for the new campaign you've been working on and you tell him to just sign for it and then he brings you service of a lawsuit that's been filed against you cause you wrote a letter to the board of directors about that hoopenheimer who lied his way to president at your best client and fired you for no good reason other than you wouldn't do the inane, stupid work he wanted.

Your grown daughter says to you daddy I've got an idea for a new business but you're probably going to think it's evil.

You meet the police chief in the new small town you've moved to and he asks if your ex is so and so and you answer in the affirmative and he says he ought to arrest you on the spot for allowing her to move to his jurisdiction.

You arrive in Germany after an overnight flight and go to check in your hotel and they reject your debit card even though you just checked the balance and there's plenty of money in there but they say it won't go thru and it's 3 o'clock in the morning where your friendly small town bank is so you have to sit in the lobby and drink coffee for five hours till your friendly small town bank opens and then you finally get them to answer the phone and tell you that for your protection they limit daily debits to $400 and never allow international charges and that in order to help you they'll have to talk to the main branch but they are in a meeting and is there a number where they can call you back.

You are excited to see that your kids have said something nice about you on Facebook only to click on said nice things and find they have posted a video of you snoring on YouTube.

You go for your final review with your academic counselor before graduation from the University of Georgia expecting to graduate at the end of the quarter with honors only to hear Mr. Burks your grades stink and you still have to retake English 201 and you better pull things up if you want to graduate from this institution and you see your name with your own eyes on the paper he's holding and finally figure out there is another person with exactly the same name that's attended the exact same courses for the exact same degree who is from the same town and whose phone number is one number different from your own although you've never met this person.

You get a once in a lifetime chance to play Augusta National and you practice like crazy and buy new clothes and shoes and clubs and are so nervous you can't swallow and you play like crap until you jab a 6 iron into the precious fairway about a foot behind your ball on the 7th hole and give yourself a hernia.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I got the headache

No, that ain't a mistype in the headline.

If you are Southren, you understand.

If by the lack of the grace of God you ain't, hang on tight and you'll be better for it.

In God's country, if you get the headache, everybody knows you get you a headache powder and it'll knock it out.

No aspirin, no capsule, no nothing can cure the headache like a powder placed on the back of the tongue and washed down with an icy cold Co-Cola.

But, recent developments on the headache powder front are reason for serious concern.

Those of us Southren were one of three types. A BC powder fambly. A Goody's powder fambly. Or for those from the other side of the tracks that could only afford cheap imitations, the fambly that would snap back with Stanback.

And those loyalties and subtypes were as real and strong as, well, Ford or Chivalet. Baptist or Methodist. Chopped or sliced pork sammich. You know, the real defining points.

Not so long ago, I was watchin' some racin' and noticed the stupidest TV commercial ever.

In one commercial, they's selling you both BC and Goody's. Like they were on the same team.

Well, this here world wide interweb is pert handy. I checked some things out. And the news ain't good.

All the headache powders were invented in Nawth Calina. Don't know why. Don't matter. They was.

But now, some Yankee operated bigshot company has bought up both BC and Goody's! And they have the gall to act like the Hatfield's and McCoy's have kissed and made up. This just ain't right.

And to make it worser yet, some nabob at the bigshot company has messed with my BC powder packaging. You know, the one you buy at the Jitney Jungle. The three pack.

Used to be you had that handy red string you pulled and just easily opened the cellophane to get to your packets. But noooooooo.

Now, they have 'em gussied up in that kind of plastic that it takes scissors and golf language to open. The gawldarned thing is as hard to open as my ex-wife's mind.

I mean, what the heck was wrong with it the way it was? It cured the headache for 100 years without some bunch of lawyers and marketing types messin' up a perfectly good thing.

And here's the nastiest part yet.

Have you noticed (if you're a BC man) that you don't get quite that same feelin' as you used to once you got it down your throat?

Well, the braniacs at GlaxoSmithKline (sounds like a law firm to me, but they are the owners of both BC and Goody's) changed the dadgummed formula.

The ORIGINAL BC powder had a little something in it called salicylamide. The new one don't.

Have no idear what that stuff did, but it did something. All I know is the new one has a little hitch in it's git-along.

We need some serious investigating here.

Where is Lewis Grizzard when you really need him?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The cab driver was right

This was first posted on this blog May 9, 2009.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

From Kabul to LAX

Took a cab to the airport this morning.

The driver was a very nice man with a foreign accent.

"Where did you grow up, sir?"


"How long have you been here?"

"25 years."

"What do you think about the situation in Afghanistan."

"The trouble is Pakistan. They are supporting the Taliban. The US and British must force Pakistan to take action. Pakistan is two faced. They want to be friends with the West, but they support the Taliban."

"Can the Taliban be defeated?"

"Sure. No problem. But not without help from Pakistan. And not without stopping funding coming from Saudi Arabia."

"What do you think the US should do?"

"Make Pakistan and Afghanistan kill the Taliban. The more troops the US sends, the more Taliban and al Qaeda will be created.

It was very easy to catch bin Laden right after 9/11. I do not understand why Bush allowed him to escape into Pakistan. I know he has been sick. Not sure if he is still alive. But if he is, he is in Pakistan.

And I don't know why Bush went to war in Iraq. A disaster. It was joke. Don't tell me CIA gives bad information. Bush wanted to go to war with Iraq for some reason that I can't understand. And Cheney was a very bad man."

"Sir, I agree with you. I lost my oldest son in Iraq."

He looked back over the seat. "I am so sorry sir. So many killed and injured. For what?"

We pulled up to the curb and he unloaded my luggage.

"God bless you and your family, sir. Again, I am so sorry for your loss. I have children your son's age and I cannot imagine the pain."

Friday, April 15, 2011

An Obstruction of Justice

It's my fault.

I could have prevented all this.

This has been bothering me, causing sleepless nights, since "the no-throw" happened at noon on August 12, 2007.

Here's the story.

I grew up in Atlanta.

I was there when Major League Baseball came to town. The Braves moved from Milwaukee in 1966, when I was 11.

In right field and batting third was #44 in your scorebook, #1 in your heart, Henry Aaron.

It was a great time. My folks would let me pack a tomato sandwich in a brown paper bag, give me $3, and put me and Bobby Spurlin on the bus to go to Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium to sit in the outfield and watch our hero.

Oh, those sweet supple wrists. My, how they could flick 33 ounces of ash wood and deliver enough kinetic energy to send a horsehide covered sphere over 400 feet in the air.

He was a natural.

He was a team guy.

He was, and is, an unsung American hero.

I love the man. How he lived. How he played. How he has carried himself on and off the field.

Nobody hated or hates Barry Bonds more than me. I admired his athletic ability, but always saw him as a selfish crybaby. Then he found "the juice".

He is the exact opposite of Hank Aaron.

And so in the summer of 2007, baseball found itself with a dilemma. Barry Bonds "broke" Hank Aaron's all-time homerun record on August 7. It had an asterisk then, and it always will.

It so happened that I was living in San Francisco that summer. After he had "broken" the record, tickets to Giants games became much easier to come by.

And so on Sunday, August 12, I packed up my daughter and the woman I had mistakenly gotten married to and off we went to AT&T Park to watch the Giants play the Pirates.

We got off the ferry, and I started talking to scalpers on the street. In ten minutes, I bought 3 seats at face value. Had no idea where the seats were. It didn't matter.

I was taking my little girl to a ballgame.

Section 137.

Guess where. Left field bleachers. Twelve rows up. Directly behind Barry Bonds. I could see the sweat running off his size 8 and half melon of a head.

Bonds had a pregame routine that I was unaware of.

He warmed up throwing to a coach standing just outside the left field line.

When warmup was over, Bonds turned around and threw the ball into the stands.

I still see it in slow motion.

A baseball just leaving the hand of the most hated, despicable player in baseball is headed in my direction.

The ball came down three seats to my right. The guy sitting there totally whiffed it.

I can still hear the ball whacking on the concrete, and bouncing into the air.

And then it lands. In my lap.

Never moved. Didn't reach for it. It landed in my friggin' lap.

This was a sign. This was a chance to right wrongs. This was a chance to do something for Hank.

The fans around were congratulating me on my luck. Little did they know my heart.

I stood up to throw the ball as hard as I could at the back of that swole up, steroid and garbage filled head. He was only 35 feet away.

As I was about to let it go, the woman that I had mistakenly married tackled me. She said it would be a travesty.

She was right. It was a travesty.

I could have gone to jail a hero. Bonds could still be in a coma.

I'm sorry, Hank. I'm sorry, Braves fans. I'm sorry, lovers of baseball.

It's my fault this dark cloud is still hanging around America's Game.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The rogue wave

I met Howard Davis in August of 1987.

Howard was the CEO of Tracy-Locke, the largest advertising agency South of Chicago.

He hired me.

Howard was Type A+.

He was a big boy. Six four. Big head. Big brain. Big ambition. Big appetite.

I was in his office when he got the phone call that his son had been killed in a car wreck.

I saw him crumble. Physically. Mentally.

I saw it all run out of him in that moment.

I got that phone call in November of 2007 when Pete was killed in Iraq. I was working in San Francisco.

I crumbled. Physically. Mentally.

Two days after we got the news about Pete, Howard called me from Montana.

"Alan, my friend, someone gave me an analogy that I hope will be helpful for you and your family.

You are walking on a beach and you are very near the water.

Right now, the water is washing over you. And it might take you under.

You have to keep walking on the beach.

Step after step. Day after day.

You will always be on that beach.

But step by step, you will get a little further away from the water.

In the next days and weeks, the water will still reach you and threaten to take you back in.

Eventually, if you keep walking, you will be a safe distance from the water.

But, my friend, the rogue wave will roll in and wash over you.

You have to choose.

Let the rogue wave take you, or keep walking."

Today, the rogue wave came and got me.

It was spurred by my silly mistake of going to a movie last night.

It is a really interesting movie. "Source Code".

But, part of the plot is a soldier KIA in Afghanistan.

I knew going in it had something to do with a soldier.

It wasn't until the images of him dying on screen that it hit me.

And today, the nightmares I had shortly after Pete's death came back.

It is spring time. Memories of Pete and friends and family in my back yard are overwhelming.

Memories of Pete fishing in the lake in the back of the house are fresh.

I walked in his steps.

I remember him out there in shorts and mud boots patiently waiting on the bass to take the bait.

I remember the Easter egg hunts.

I can hear his voice. I can hear that sneeze. I can hear that laugh.

Oh, buddy. I miss you today.

I know you are in a better place than me.

But I need to shed some tears today.

It is human. It is normal. It is your daddy missing his boy.

I'll see you one of these days.

I so long to kiss that stubbly cheek and hug that strong neck.

But tomorrow, I'll get up and keep walking, son.

Because that's what we do. That's what you tell me to do.

I'll keep walking.

Thanks, Howard.

Thanks, Pete.

Thank you Lord. Thank you for the trials that make us stronger and more aware of what we have to be thankful for.