Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Where is Johnny Marks when we need him?

When's the last time a good new Christmas song was written?

So far as I can tell, it was in the 1990's.


Is it our love of nostalgia?  Or lack of interest?  Or lack of talent?

I'm dumbfounded.

Starting Thanksgiving week, we all start listening to Christmas music.

And according to various charts, here are the most popular songs and when they were written:

"All I Want for Christmas is You"  1994

"Grown Up Christmas List"  1992

"The Christmas Song"  1944

"Rockin' Round the Christmas Tree"  1958

"Feliz Navidad"  1970

"A Holly Jolly Christmas"  1965

"Jingle Bell Rock"  1957

"White Christmas"  1940

"It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas"  1951

"Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer"  1949

Interestingly, most of our favorite Christmas songs were written by men who were devout Jews of European Jewish descent.  Johnny Marks, Irving Berlin, Walter Afanasieff and Mel Torme. 

Some might say they took advantage of a commercial opportunity.  I like to think that they appreciated their Christian neighbors and used their musical talents to honor a special time of year.

I, for one, hope for new Christmas classics.

The story of hope and grace is eternal.  There is enough musical talent around the world to write many more.

The Advent is upon us.  Let the inspiration inspire you songwriters out there to add to the best time of the year.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pete Burks Day of Service 2013

In the spring of 2012, a group of young men that were high school buds of Pete's decided to honor their friend in a way they thought he would like.

A day of service to the community.  As in, volunteering to help a neighbor in need to fix up their house, paint their gutters, repair their fence or clean up a yard that's become a bit too much for them to keep up.

Last September, this group of young men convinced the city of Richardson, Texas to assign them a number of homes that were out of code or in need of some repair.  The homeowners were usually elderly, sick, physically challenged, economically challenged or all of the above. 

So much good was done last year that Pete Burks Day of Service II was held in Richardson this past Saturday.  The mayor was there to say thanks.  City council was there.  The city manager was there.  And, about 50 volunteers were there to help neighbors in need.

The YMCA got some maintenance taken care of and some trees planted.  A park was spruced up.  Fences past their prime were removed to make room for new fences.  Houses were painted.

And, there was the jungle house. 

Take a look at this picture.  See if you can see the house.

Not to worry.  None of us who drove up could see the house, either. 

The gentleman who has lived there for 40 years has had his share of challenges.  He gave up on the yard years ago.  Like most of  his life, it was just too much for him.

Here's what it looked like three hours later.

The transformation was amazing.  The owner was thankful for the help.  The neighbors were astonished and appreciative. 

And quite often, the volunteers would be asked, "Now, who are you guys and why are you doing this?"

And so, Pete's story would be shared. 

And, the underlying reason for the day of service was made clear.

"You must love your neighbor as you love yourself."

It's all about love.  And loving someone first.   

Thanks, Footwashers.  Thanks, sponsors.  Thanks, volunteers.  Thanks, Richardson.  Thank you, Lord.

Thanks, Petey.  You continue to inspire others six years after you left us.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dear President Obama, Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid, 

Our Founding Fathers and hundreds of millions of taxpayers are so thankful for folks like you.  You have the good sense to know that we don't.  Have good sense, that is. (Vice President Biden, I include you with the rest of us. Because everyone knows you don't have good sense.)

Thanks so much for all your efforts to reduce salt consumption, make our soda cups smaller and improve our health care system by making everyone's costs go up.  We never would have figured any of that out.   

While you are in power and at the peak of your infinite wisdom, there are a few other topics I wish you'd address on behalf of us in the public that so need you to think for us.

1.  Shampoo:  Could you please legislate that the word "SHAMPOO" be in 72 point type in a very legible serif font on all shampoo bottles sold in the U.S., please?  I mean, who can read that itty-bitty type on those bottles especially without reading glasses and with water in their eyes!?!?  This needs your immediate attention.

2.  Golf clubs:  We have clubs made of metal that are called woods.  Or worse, metal woods.  This is nonsense and must be stopped.  And we need government intervention at once because the USGA and the PGA can't agree on whether one can putt with a long-handled putter.  And if you will check even further into this cauldron of evil, you will discover that there is no standard for a 5 iron.  Or a 1 iron, or a 2, or a 3.  Each golf manufacturer can today decide for themselves what constitutes the degree of loft of a 7 iron and this must stop.  And these hybrids!  No governance whatsoever on what their definition is.  Or whether you are to hit downwards into the ball or sweep the ball with these unregulated weapons.  The anarchy in the golf shop rivals the town square in Istanbul.  Help!

3.  Cars:  There is no standardization as to which side of the steering wheel the windshield wiper control is on.  Or how many speeds the wipers have.  And, there is no official rule as to where the button is to turn on the headlights.  This taking place in the 21st century is a sign of lack of progressive thinking.   And car keys?  Let's get serious.  There are as many different versions as there are pages in the Affordable Healthcare Act.  It's sheer madness.  You need to step in now.  Only you can make it understandable for all of us.  Maybe once you design a workable car for all of us you call it something like "The People's Car."

4.  Baseball:  The foul pole means that if a ball hits it, it's a fair ball.  That's just crazy.  Jump in here and fix this.  And speaking of lack of standardization, America's national pastime can't decide if all nine players should have to bat the way the game is supposed to be played or if a "specialist" can hit in lieu of the pitcher. Isn't this out-and-out discrimination in the workplace to imply that pitchers cannot hit?  You need to get several Federal bureaus and czars working on this. 

Once you finish up these projects in the next Congressional session, there will be more to do.  Like, how many teams have to be in something called the Big 10.  Or Big 12.  And this sexist mindset that allows Valentine's Day to continue unabated will no doubt require your intervention early next year.

In the meantime, on behalf of all of us, thanks again for doing our thinking for us.   


Thursday, May 2, 2013

How to honor this Memorial Day

 “It ain’t dying I’m talking about, it’s living."
-Captain Augustus "Gus" McRae

Memorial Day is the American national holiday to remember the sacrifices of those who have died in all wars while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

We should all take time to think on the lives lost in all American wars, to teach the lessons of sacrifice to our children and to honor the families who shared in the sacrifice.

But, alas, we can't truly say thanks as we'd like.  Those who have sacrificed it all aren't physically here anymore.  They are at Fiddler's Green.

What we can do is take care of their battle buddies.  We can support the living who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.

It is easy to forget that there are still American military men and women fighting, being wounded and dying in Afghanistan. 

It might be hard to understand, but there are folks preparing to deploy again to Afghanistan.  The war with no apparent end.  Somewhere this Memorial Day, a young soldier is preparing for war.  Perhaps for the first time.

Once those brave souls get to Afghanistan, how much attention will they receive from America for their voluntary service?  How appreciated will they feel?  How detached from civilian America will they be?

The Peter Burks Unsung Hero Fund was created to allow civilian America to show their love, support and appreciation to troops in war zones. http://unsungherofund.org/  The organization has shipped over 11 tons of care packages to American military units in Iraq and Afghanistan since its inception in 2008.

The Peter Burks Country Store is about to redeploy with 5000 soldiers to a scary, hostile, lonely place in the world.  http://burkslaw.blogspot.com/2010/05/store-that-love-built.html  We are now gathering supplies to stock the store and will be shipping downrange this summer.

This Memorial Day, consider  making a donation to the fund to support the folks that wear the Cloth of the Nation.

Here is the wish list as supplied by the folks wearing the boots that will soon be on the ground:

-Beef jerky, Slim Jims, Jack Links
-Spicy, salty shelf stable snacks:  Cheetos, Doritos, pistachios, sunflower seeds, trail mix, mixed nuts
-Candy that won't melt at 110 degrees:  Hard candy, Gummi bears, chewing gum, Starburst, Redvines
-Powdered drink packets to flavor canteen water:  Gatorade, Crystal Light
-Xbox games, controllers, consoles
-CDs and DVDs of current music, movies TV shows
-White socks
-Thank you notes, especially from kids
- Shelf stable snacks (pistachios, sunflower seeds, spicy chips, chewing gum, etc.)
-Healthy snacks:  Clif Bars, Powerbars, dried fruits
-Small bottles of hand sanitizer
-Baby wipes (often as close to a shower as one might get on a given day)
-Microwavable popcorn

In the Dallas area, you can drop your donations at any of the following locations between now and June 15:

7201 Bishop Road, E-12
Plano, TX 75024
Animal Crackers
1900 Preston Road, Suite 260
Plano, TX 75093
Heart's Desire
4760 Preston Rd
Frisco, TX 75034

Support Your Troops Resale
221 W. Parker Road, Suite 560 (Next to Bavarian Grill)
Plano, TX 75023

The Guitar Sanctuary
6851 Virginia Pkwy #101  McKinney, TX 75071

First Community Bank
1755 N. Collins Blvd.  (Behind Richardson Medical Center)
Richardson, TX 75080

First Community Bank
7995 LBJ Freeway (at Coit Road, NW corner)
Dallas, TX 75231

675 Sunset Blvd.
Celina, TX 75009

If you are in Southern California, you can drop off donations at:

Manhattan Beach Middle School
 1501 N Redondo Ave 
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
If you are outside these areas, you can ship donations to:
Unsung Hero Fund
 c/o Support Your Troops Resale
221 W. Parker Road, Suite 560
Plano, TX 75023

If you want to make a cash donation, you can do it via PayPal on the website:   http://unsungherofund.org/contribute/

If you want to mail a check, you can send it to:

Peter Burks Unsung Hero Fund
Texas Star Bank
P.O. Box 1600
Celina, Texas 75009

This could be a great project for school kids.

This could be a great project for your book club.

This could be a great project for your family.

This could be a great project for your fraternity, sorority, organization, or business.

This could be a great project for you.

Thanks for reading this far.

For all that many of you have done, thank you.

For all that are serving, Godspeed and come home soon.

God Bless America.  And especially, Father, protect those who sacrifice for our freedom.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ah, yes, the red and blue ribbon approach

Imagine you were given the assignment to design a new logo for one of the most iconic brands in the world.

Why on earth would your solution be so similar and imitative as two other giants in the same industry?

There are either some unimaginative people involved with this new American design scheme, or there's more news coming that will make this makeover make sense.  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Nick Saban grades out at a B-

Three out of the four last seasons his Alabama teams have won the national championship of college football.

In his last eight seasons of college football coaching (which includes his short stint at LSU), he's one four national championships.

That's a 50% national championship win rate. 

Yet, in some discerning sectors of America, Nick Saban rates only a B+.

You see, his shirt and tie and suit combination are too matchy-matchy. 

And his tassle loafers are the most annoying shoes on earth.

Coach Saban, congratulations on a fine career.

But if you want to really win, you need that collagen-infused mask to remove those nagging wrinkles.