Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I Found Jesus (In A Dress)

(Since my last post on serious topics was such a resounding flop, we now return you to our regularly-scheduled goofiness ...)

FACT: Most depictions of Jesus of Nazareth (in the United States, anyway) portray the kind, beatific face of a white guy with long brown hair and brown or blue eyes.

FACT: According to historical documents, Jesus was born in Bethlehem and grew up in Nazareth, two towns in what is now Israel.

FACT: Israel is in the Middle East.

FACT: Middle Eastern men, for the most part, don't look like white guys.

FACT: Jesus, according to historical documents, was born to Jewish parents.

FACT: Middle Eastern Jewish men, for the most part, look even less like white guys. They tend to have big Jewish eyes and big Jewish noses. (And in case anyone thinks I'm making racist generalizations, be aware that I'm Jewish. And I have big Jewish eyes and a big Jewish nose. So get offa my back.)

It was over a big plate of nachos that the Wife and I were discussing how the American Christian congregations have stripped the ethnicity from their depictions of Jesus, to make him look as Nebraskan as possible, and mused on how Jesus probably looked.

And as we discussed the aforementioned Facts, the Wife, with one of those flashes of brilliance that makes me love her, exclaimed: "Jesus looked like Corporal Klinger!"

I blinked. Then I smiled. Once again, the woman is absolutely right.

Jesus probably bore a very strong resemblance to Jamie Farr, frequent game show guest and host of the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Golf Classic. And, oh yeah, he had a small but significant part in a '70s TV show called "M*A*S*H".

For those of you too young to recall, when the character of Cpl. Maxwell Q. Klinger was introduced, he wore dresses and women's jewelry (in a most non-effiminate way) to try to secure a medical discharge from the Army for mental instability.

Farr was born to Lebanese parents, and with his wiry black hair and hairy arms, made a rather ... interesting picture in the long gowns and sundresses the costumers chose for him. (Thank you, "M*A*S*H" producers, for keeping him away from mini-skirts!)

And, being from the same genetic part of the world as Jesus, there is probably substantial similarity between the way Jamie Farr looked when he was 30, and the way Jesus looked when he was 30.

Kinda makes you wonder what Jesus would have looked like in Bob Mackie, doesn't it?

(Yes, I'm going to hell. Your nasty letters ain't gonna change anything. "Judge not, lest ye be judged," and all that ...)

posted by Gary @ 12:43 PM 5 comments links to this post

Friday, November 25, 2005

Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out

I'll warn you up front: This is a much more introspective, philosophical blog entry than the fluff I typically write. (Yes, I too have a deep side. You just have to spelunk for it.)

People meditate in many different ways. A few of the more disciplined of us can do it quietly, sitting in some uncomfortable yoga position and muttering "Om ...". Others of us do it at the gym, iPods fastened to the waist and earphones wedged firmly in place, rocking out to the music of the day.

My own meditation method has always involved listening to "spoken-word" recordings and movies. When I'm working, I frequently have a verbal soundtrack or the commentary track of a DVD playing in my headphones. I don't listen too closely to the words that are used. I simply find the sound of a well-modulated speaking voice quite soothing. (I find "My Dinner With Andre" to be an outstanding film if you don't think too hard about the metaphysical implications of what Wally and Andre are saying, because listening to them just talk is quite relaxing.)

One of the more soothing voices I have come across recently, oddly enough, was recorded by Timothy Leary. For those of you under the age of 40, Dr. Leary was a Harvard psychologist who, in the 1960s, began to experiment and research the effects of LSD and marijuana use. He lost his Harvard tenure (and, at the same time, became a counterculture celebrity) by advocating the use of LSD as a consciousness-expanding chemical. Because of his drug advocacy and his popularity, President Nixon called Leary "the most dangerous man in America."

Now, I have never been a user of illegal drugs. I frequently find my grip on my raging subconscious to be tenuous enough, that I'd be a fool to ingest something that would cause my mind to act in unpredicable ways. I don't avoid drugs because they're illegal; I avoid them because they have no appeal to me. I tried smoking pot once when I was 17; I was drunk on beer at the time. In a flash, the pot sobered me up. This effect frightened me enough that I lost all interest in ever trying pot, or any other mind-altering drug, ever again.

Nevertheless, I found some spoken-word tracks of Dr. Leary on the Internet, and as I had never actually heard his first-hand words on the subject for which he had been so infamous, I took a listen. Timothy Leary turns out to have one of the most soothing voices I have ever heard. I can see why so many counterculture activists of the time would have wanted to follow Dr. Leary's path to "enlightenment"; I almost found myself becoming curious as to whether I would benefit from a dose of LSD. (I'm still much more curious, however, as to what it would feel like to win the lottery. But I digress.)

Even though I was listening to a drug-addled symbol of the hippie '60s, Dr. Leary made a number of good points with his quiet, hypnotic voice. One of them snapped me right out of my meditation, stopping me cold:


Why is it that every generation forgets this lesson of the past? Why is it that each generation harasses and persecutes its gentlest, wisest, and holiest men - exactly those men that succeeding generations would revere?

Dr. Leary proceeded to opine that the reason was every human's fixation with "pleasing Mother" (which, I guess, explains most of the premise of Hitchcock's 1960 film "Psycho"), but it occurred to me that the issue is probably one of the most fundamentally indefensible in human history:

Why do we, as a race, proceed to shout down and criminalize those who preach peace and harmony? Socrates, Gautama Buddha, Jesus of Nazareth, Mohandas Gandhi, the Dalai Lama - all harrassed and imprisoned, all (except for the Lama) martyred, all remembered fondly by history for their philosophies, but shunned as outcasts by the political and social leaders of their times. (Heck, Galileo spent his last years under house arrest for heresy for suggesting that the sun didn't revolve around the earth!)

And we, as a society (regardless of which society it is), while we preach tolerance of countercultural viewpoints, haven't changed one bit. If Jesus were to return to earth today, he'd be jailed or assassinated in no time flat.

(Apropos of nothing: Here's an interesting clip - funny, but sad at the same time - showing what a political ad might have looked like if Jesus had opposed Dubya in the 2004 presidential election.)

Right now, we live in a world where Israel fights terrorist attacks with terrorism of its own. The U.S. arbitrarily suspends international treaties, the Geneva Convention, and the civil liberties of its own citizens in the name of fighting terrorism. Hatred is the order of the day. What possible chance does someone who preaches love and beauty have against such a vicious social order - especially when we need love and beauty now more than ever?

Timothy Leary, where are you now that we really need you?

posted by Gary @ 4:26 PM 2 comments links to this post

Thursday, November 17, 2005

BO-Zha-Lay Nue-VOE

On the third Thursday of each November, the Wife and I make a pilgrimage to the local spirits mega-store for a time-honored ritual. For it is on this day that the new Beaujolais Nouveau is released to a thirsty public.

From IntoWine.com:

At one minute past midnight on the third Thursday of each November, from little villages and towns like Romanèche-Thorins, over a million cases of Beaujolais Nouveau begin their journey through a sleeping France to Paris for immediate shipment to all parts of the world. Banners proclaim the good news: Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé! "The New Beaujolais has arrived!" One of the most frivolous and animated rituals in the wine world has begun.
Less than a month ago, these Beaujolais grapes were on the vine in the Bordeaux region of France. And now, a small portion of their fermented juice is parked inside a case of wine bottles in my dining room.

Beaujolais Nouveau is definitely not a wine to be snobbish about. It's meant to be chilled (not cellared), to be drunk now (not aged), and to be guzzled (not sipped). It's like box wine, but with two important differences:

1) It's cheaper; and
2) It's a hell of a lot better.

Here in Houston, where the Wife and I are quite well wine-educated but our favorite bottles include "Marilyn Merlot" and "Old Fart", the case price for the Georges Duboeuf 2005 Beaujolais Nouveau works out to about $7.19 a bottle. Although the price has climbed over the years, you still can't beat that for a bottle of vin ordinaire.

Duboeuf, who is the largest negociant (wine grape broker) in Bordeaux, writes: "This should prove to be an excellent year. I have rarely seen a crop so healthy. ... I am so bowled over by this marvelous crop that I am convinced of the exceptional quality of the fast approaching vintage."

This being the first day of the Beaujolais Nouveau release, many wine shops will run out of their initial allotment quickly. That's certainly the case at the neighborhood store, where I had the good fortune to arrive literally two minutes after their allotment did. The Nouveau was literally being moved into the store when I grabbed the first case.

We've got ours. And we look forward to toasting our wine tradition tonight, with a glass of the cheap, good stuff.

posted by Gary @ 5:44 PM 4 comments links to this post

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Somewhere, Pat Robertson Is Smiling

Marguerite Perrin is America's newest celebrity, and as any good celebrity does, she now has her own bobblehead doll. But I'll get to that.

PerrinI should clarify. Her friends and family know her as "Marguerite Perrin". The rest of us know her as that crazed, wild-eyed, rotund, toothless, screaming "God warrior" from the past couple of weeks of FOX's "Trading Spouses". (You know, the raving lunatic on the plugs FOX ran for about a month before the show aired? If you watched the World Series, you saw it a half-dozen times per night ...)

This blog entry isn't about the fine example of Christianity at work known as Marguerite (although, in a nutshell: This "devout Christian" mom - though you couldn't tell it from her judgmentalism and temper - was paired up with a pagan family, and was not only condemning everyone and everything she saw in that house to Hell, but when she got home, launched into the famous tirade about everything in her pure household having been contaminated by non-believers).

No, actually, this is about the brilliant eBay auction featuring a handmade, one-of-a-kind "God warrior" bobblehead doll. Crank up your computer's audio and click on the link, and brace yourself for the kind of genius that makes you wince.

You'll first hear a brilliant New Age-y tune that samples Ms. Perrin's tantrum quite nicely. But read on, and you'll see that this bobblehead doll not only looks like her, but comes with 12 - count 'em, twelve - sound samples! Yes, now YOU can have this screaming nutburger in your house, 24/7!

(Oh ... and as of midday 11/17, the bidding is currently up to $750. I hope the entrepreneur responsible for this made a mold, and can churn out a few more of these - I smell a marketing opportunity! Oh ... no, wait, that's just Marguerite ...)

(P.S.: Be sure to hover your mouse over M.P.'s disembodied face halfway down the page, to see her change into something quite appropriate.)

* * *

On the subject of going to hell, I got a good laugh from this page which I stumbled across while researching this entry. Not that the way I stumbled across it is particularly interesting, but it shows you how my mind works:

The eBay auction page has a graphic near the top which allows you to click on a number and hear one of the samples the bobblehead doll will say to you. The numbers are 1 through 12, but for some reason, they omitted the number 5. The Wife mused that perhaps Marguerite found that particular digit to be un-Godly, although we agreed that "6" was a more likely candidate, since "666" was considered to be the Mark of the Beast and all that.

Well, that led me to wonder who might have had the intestinal fortitude to order the phone number 666-666-6666. Well, type that into Google and notice the first two excerpted words of the very first entry listed; quite apropos, I thought, but certainly not for the faint of heart.

But the Wife pointed out that there is no "666" area code, so I Googled 666-6666. Once I got past Corky and the Juice Pigs and the New York limousine companies, I found this page. (I particularly liked the entry for 1-900-666-6666 - "Live Beasts, available now! One-on-one pacts! Only $6.66 per minute! [Must be over 18]")

Hmmm ... you know, maybe it would be safer for me to blog about children and puppies and Liberals. I certainly shouldn't be left to my own devices on this thing.

posted by Gary @ 1:17 PM 2 comments links to this post

Monday, November 14, 2005

Battle Of The Blogs: Not Too Proud To Beg

Okay, I knew my sense of humor wasn't for everybody. But this is getting ridiculous.

I have entered BlogExplosion's "Battle Of The Blogs" seven times. That means putting up 70 hard-earned credits in the spirit of "friendly competition". My record in those competitions is a not-so-friendly 0-and-7. (Well, you can't fault me for consistency.)

The irony is, I thought the recent "Charlie Brown on steroids" mock screenplay was one of the most inspired things I had come up with recently. You may see that as tragic. I see that as a glimmer of hope for the imminent return of my creativity.

I have been surveying a lot of blogs on BE lately. Most of the ones that tend to win the "Battles Of The Blogs" tend to fall into one of the following categories:

o "I have kids and they're a handful, but I love them anyway"
o "I saw the CUUUUTEST dog this afternoon"
o "The Fleemistat XQ428R has 12 GHz of power and is the raddest video card for gamers"
o "Here's a link to a pithy comment that somebody else wrote"
o "All liberals hate America, and Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh always speak the truth"
o "Have you found Jesus?"

Now, these aren't the universal winners, to be sure. Two of the lowest-ranked Battle blogs belong to a Phillipine IT corporation (0-for-31) that excerpts press releases from tech companies (I'd link to it, but their server went offline as I was writing this - no joke), and to an evangelical balloon artist (0-for-27) who spreads the Lord's word through his animal sculptures.

This is who I'm down there at the bottom of the pack with.

Heck, even the dead-last lowest-ranked Battle blog sports a record of 240-717, which gives him a winning percentage of .251. My winning percentage, in case you need help with the math, is .000.

And so, I'm begging. My ego can't take much more of this. I am asking for your pity vote. Let me win just one "Battle Of The Blogs". Just ONE. Just enough to validate my existence on the planet.

(Do you feel sorry for me yet?)

UPDATE: I won my first battle! Thank you! Whining and griping got me a victory ... hmmm, maybe our current Administration is onto something ...

posted by Gary @ 4:46 PM 7 comments links to this post

Thursday, November 10, 2005

It's The Great Steroid, Charlie Brown

EXT. A BASEBALL FIELD

It's springtime, and the Peanuts gang is getting ready to fling the horsehide around. With a peppy Vince Guaraldi tune playing in the background, LINUS, LUCY, SCHROEDER, PIG-PEN and SNOOPY are taking turns at batting practice. With SCHROEDER in full CATCHER'S GEAR behind the plate, and PIG-PEN on the pitcher's mound (which is obscured by a cloud of dust), LUCY swings the BAT and hits the HORSEHIDE on a liner to shortstop, where SNOOPY catches the ball in his mouth. LINUS, in the on-deck circle, carefully folds up his SECURITY BLANKET and approaches the plate.

PIG-PEN
Hey, has anybody seen the round-headed kid today?

LUCY
When I saw him yesterday, he was even moodier than he was the day before. He's getting Charlie Brownier every day!

SALLY walks by.

SALLY (to LINUS)
How is my sweet babboo today?

LINUS
I'm not your sweet babboo! Where is your brother?

SALLY
He'll be here soon. He said he had to take a B-12 shot, whatever that is.

SCHROEDER
Do you guys think we can actually win a game this season?

LUCY
With that blockhead as our manager? Are you drunk?

SCHROEDER
Only a little ...

SCHROEDER is interrupted by a loud, angry scream out of frame, followed by the sound of splintering wood. Into frame comes CHARLIE BROWN, scowling and frowning, and carrying a broken BAT HANDLE. CHARLIE BROWN'S head, which was already too large for his body before, is now hugely disproportionate to the rest of him. When he speaks, his voice is deep and raspy, like Larry King after a two-day bender.

CHARLIE BROWN (to everyone)
What the hell are you looking at?

SALLY
Big brother, you've changed ...

CHARLIE BROWN (to SALLY)
Zip it, you little shit, or I'm gonna replace your contraceptive gel with superglue!

LUCY
Charlie Brown, we need to talk.

CHARLIE BROWN
So talk, bitch.

LUCY (takes a deep breath)
Charlie Brown, we've all noticed some changes in you in the last couple of weeks. You've gotten meaner, your head has gotten larger, and your testicles have gotten smaller.

LINUS (sotto voce, to LUCY)
How do you know his testicles have gotten smaller?

LUCY (sotto voce)
None of your goddamn business.
(to CHARLIE BROWN, normal voice)
Meanwhile, you're pitching the horsehide over 110 miles per hour, and you're hitting home runs 500 or 600 feet. Now what we want to know is, why?

CHARLIE BROWN pauses, glaring at LUCY. Then, he breaks down crying.

CHARLIE BROWN
I'm so tired of losing all the time! I just want to win one game! I just want to score one run! ONE RUN! Is that too much to ask, you skanky piece of ho-meat?

The GANG looks at each other. Then:

LINUS
Charlie Brown, are you juicing?

Before CHARLIE BROWN can answer, a tall ADULT appears at the side of the frame.

ADULT
Bwa bwa bwa, bwa bwa bwa bwa ...

The ADULT hands CHARLIE BROWN an ENVELOPE and leaves. CHARLIE BROWN opens the ENVELOPE and reads the letter inside.

SCHROEDER
What is it, Charlie Brown?

CHARLIE BROWN
It's a Congressional subpoena. They want me to testify against that BALCO guy who gave me the -- um, the ... nutritional supplements.

THE GANG (together)
You're a blockhead, Charlie Brown!

CHARLIE BROWN
Good grief!

posted by Gary @ 4:56 PM 1 comments links to this post

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

If I Had Something To Say, I'd Have Blogged By Now

Blogging is rough when you have nothing going on. Oh, I could blog about Scooter Libby, or Bush's plummeting approval ratings, or how the most talented player in the NFL has pretty much wrecked his career with his big mouth, or what a lying sack of steroids Rafael Palmeiro is ... but EVERYBODY is blogging about those things.

And since "Lost" is in reruns, and the Mad Angelenos are in Europe, and my few measly GOOD ideas are going to my paying gig (sorry, blog-fans), I find myself sitting in front of my computer, picking crumbs out of my belly button and trying to find something warped and humorous to say. (And how I got crumbs in my belly button, when I've been fully-dressed and without snack food all day, I dunno.)

But, since my lady is suffering from the Creeping Crud, humor is not foremost on my mind. (Shame, too, because I've conjured up some great non-sequiturs but have come up with no context in which to place them.) All I'm doing is realizing that we can either go on vacation this year, or get our pool re-plastered and re-decked, but not both. And, while a swimming pool may not increase a home's resale value, a crappy swimming pool can darn sure decrease it.

Not much of a blog this time, is it? Trust me, when I have spare flashes of brilliance, I shall share them with you. (And if anybody can recommend a good street source for flashes of brilliance -- the high-quality, pure stuff -- please let me know.)

posted by Gary @ 8:01 PM 0 comments links to this post

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Why the heck wouldn't you want to read the toxic byproducts of my mental processes? It's not like you're too busy to waste a minute or two here, you know. You ARE just killing time by mindlessly surfing the web. Pop open a brewski and stay a while.




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