Category Archives: Just for fun

From the Heart: Padre Steve’s Favorite Songs of Love and Life for Valentine’s Day

young loves

I have spent many Valentine’s Days away from my wife Judy over the course of my military career. Tonight though, for the first time in a number of years I will be with her. Last year I was stationed away from her and holding the duty pager for the hospital where I served as the Director of Pastoral Care.

In all of these times I have loved music. I remember dating Judy and every week bring in new LP albums or pop 45 singles on vinyl back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Most of the songs were popular on the radio and I would hear them on American Top 40.

I find that music expresses love in ways that I find difficult to do on my own. Perhaps this is because of the fact that I am a historian and not a poet or artist. Here are 25 of my favorites of all time. They are songs that express the emotions of love, love embraced and love requited the joy of love and the agony of losing it.

These are songs that men and women express the feelings of those who have loved, lost and longed for love. They are songs of men and women who sometimes are geographically far away but still close and others that can be sitting next to each other but be as far from each other emotionally and even spiritually as Earth is from the furthest star system in the galaxy.

I think that in my life that many speak to the relationship that I have with the woman that I have loved since the day that I met her back in the late summer of 1978.

It is interested because a number of years later Barry Manilow wrote a song called The Summer of 78 which expresses much of what I felt and still feel about her.

It was one of those summer’s
lasting forever
making the winter wait
a summer of music and passion
the summer of ’78
you appeared like the summer
sudden and perfect
and not a day too late
I swear there was music when I found you
that summer of ’78
it seem we floated through the days

and nights were always filled with stars
and it seemed every song they played on the radio
was ours
it was one of those summer’s
only for lovers
touched by the hand of faith
and now when the winter’s are long
I remember the summer of ’78

barry-manilow

I think any compilation of love songs has to begin with Barry Manilow’s“Weekend in New England” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olApnMheBW8  I think for me, as a career military man who has spent many years away from my wife, sometimes in harm’s way the questions asked in the song resonate. “When will our eyes meet?” “When can I touch you?” “When will this long journey end and when will I hold you again?” have particular meaning and they are part of the longing that I have.

the-carpenters

The Carpenter’s breakthrough hit “Close to You” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6inwzOooXRU written by Burt Bacharach is a song that is fitting for the love that many young lovers feel when they first meet. I remember when we first started dating I could hardly stand to be away from Judy. The song is more one of infatuation than actual love, but I think unless we first have that infatuation that love often remains dormant.

1012128_10151749215177059_1902693993_n

Bread’s classic mellow ballad “If” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzgBULcFaLw is a song that expresses an almost eternal nature to love.

Jim Croce’s hit “I’ll Just Have to Say I Love You in a Song” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EN1nMpmC0n4 is one that expresses how badly the words often come out when we try to communicate with the one that we love. There are so many times the words that I have said have not come across how I meant them. So much of a relationship that is based on how we communicate that care and love for each other, the lament that “every time I’d try to tell you, the words just came out wrong” can be true for many of us.

428661_3334148676879_1363437757_33348048_1105361205_n

England Dan (Dan Seals and John Ford Coley) “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxdsk-cFX-k Sometimes when we love someone we somehow lose contact, or maybe have grown apart emotionally. The song begins with small talk on a phone call and is the words of someone who wants very badly to be together again with the one that he misses.

In a similar vein to “I’d really love to See You Tonight” but perhaps even more heart wrenching is Paul Davis’ “I Go Crazy” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_L886mjb0O8 because the woman that he loves is now with someone else and he sings “when I look in your eyes I still go crazy. That old flame comes alive, it starts burning inside…”

olivia-newtonjohn-with-cliff-richard-suddenly-1980

All couples sometimes have arguments and sometimes those arguments lead to complete silence and even the break up of a relationship. Sir Cliff Richard’s “We Don’t Talk Anymore” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htZir_Taizg is one of those songs where one partner blames the other for the breakup and boldly states that he isn’t losing sleep over the end of the relationship. Not a very good way to go, but a very real feeling for many people in the Lonely Heart’s Club.

Olivia Newton John and Cliff Richard’s duet “Suddenly” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GxxhjFcngM is a song that is a 180 out from We Don’t Talk Anymore. This song is one that speaks of a deep love and admiration for each of the two people in the relationship that they are willing to do anything and go anywhere to be with one another.

years from now

The Dr Hook hit “Years from Now” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfsPeVVL8zE is one that always manages to bring a tear to my eye. It came out about a year after Judy and I started dating and even though it is now well over 30 years since I first heard it I imagined the future, now we are deep into it and I feel the same way. One verse says “I know this world that we live in can be hard, Now and then and it will be again, Many times we’ve been down,Still love has kept us together the flame never dies, When I look in your eyes the future I see.” Since we have gone through many difficult times it is a song that is intensely personal and one that I almost feel that I could have written the lyrics.

David Soul riding high on his success in Starsky and Hutch released “Don’t Give up on Us Baby” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YY8APrYU2Gs in 1977. It hit number one in both the US and UK and was his one big hit. It is a song of a man trying to convince a woman that they have a relationship that is more than just one night. “Don’t give up on us, baby, We’re still worth one more try, I know we put a last one by, Just for a rainy evening, When maybe stars are few, Don’t give up on us, I know, We can still come through.”

4801

Dan Hill’s “Sometimes When We Touch” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xnyHG96vY8 is a song that means a great deal to both Judy and I. The words are somehow haunting and healing. One verse and the chorus really get to me. “Romance and all its strategy leaves me battlin’ with my pride, But through the insecurity some tenderness survives, I’m just another writer, still trapped within my truth, A hesitant prize fighter, still trapped within my youth. And sometimes when we touch, the honesty’s too much, And I have to close my eyes and hide, I wanna hold you till I die, till we both break down and cry, I wanna hold you till the fear in me subsides.”

Van Morrison wrote “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQ4NAZPi2js in 1989. Recorded and released by Rod Stewart in 1993 it is a song that originally was written as a prayer by Morrison. It is sung at many weddings and it a song that I will stop and listen to whenever I hear it.

san fernando 1980

The Australian duo Air Supply is known for their mellow love songs and one of them“Two Less Lonely People in the World” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RidVsFXE2Y0 is one that I like. Sometimes I think that had I not met Judy that I never would have married. I am quite the introvert and often a loner that prefers the adventure of being independent and adventurous and does not like to be tied down. When my father retired from the Navy in 1974 I thought that my life was over, because we were going to remain in one place. Judy had spent most of her life in one city but I took her away from that because throughout my life I have been afflicted with this wanderlust and spirit of adventure. That being said the fact that we are together means that even though we are often apart that there are still “two less lonely people in the world tonight.”

Meat Loaf’s “I Would do Anything for Love” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOikQWAL8qc from his 1993 Bat Out of Hell Album is one of the big world wide rock power ballads of the past two decades. The focus is probably more on the physical relationship that some of the other songs in this list but it has a resonance because the physical is also a big part of why we fall in love with each other. “As long as the planets are turning, As long as the stars are burning, As long dreams are coming true, You’d better believe it, that I would do, Anything for love, And I’l be there until the final act, I would do anything for love, and I’ll take a vow and seal a pact…”

Elton John’s “Your Song” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTa8U0Wa0q8 is a tender ballad of a musician who has little to give his love except a song.

lionel richie and diana ross endless love

One of the tenderest duets for Valentine’s Day comes from Lionel Richie and Diana Ross, the hit Endless Love http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MP7m5VqQ6f8 was written for the movie of the same name.

The Bee Gee’s How Deep is Your Love http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpqqjU7u5Yc is another tender song of devotion to a love.

Chicago’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEwNcnklcsk is a song that hits hard at a situation that many couples that love each other find themselves. That is when for whatever reason they find that they need to be away from each other, but the key is that they find their way back.

REO Speedwagon’s “I Can’t Fight this Feeling” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqJK29zsO44 is actually quite good because it is a song that sees a relationship go from a friendship to something more, something that sometimes scares the people involved because somehow we often think that we don’t want to “ruin the friendship.” I really think that any relationship that is meant to be has to begin with friendship and the words in the song “What started out as friendship, Has grown stronger. I only wish I had the strength to let it show” is a reality for so many people.

a couple once and young

Anne Murray release a song called Daydream Believer  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gN37gEKDrM that had been recorded years before by the Monkees http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nU615FaODCg , but in 1980 it became one of my favorites as my relationship with Judy began to really develop

Bonnie Tyler’s “It’s a Heartache” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8VGQTtENSs has been recorded and been a hit for Juice Newton and Rod Stewart as well as Tyler. It is a song that speaks of the pain of a broken relationship when one of the people involved is more dependent on the other person than that person is committed to them.

Juice Newton’s “Angel of the Morning” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xGkscrvMjE is a song that describes the breakup of what may be an illicit love affair. Since a lot of people become involved in such relationships it is a powerful reminder of the pain associated with the end of those relationships.

20130215-095226.jpg

A similar theme is part of Laura Branigan’s “How am I Supposed to Live Without You” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MN6JBTGcr68 though it seems that this song is not about an illicit relationship but the betrayal felt by a person who finds that the one that they love is leaving them. Her son Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSDvFUy4ayk tells the story of a woman wondering if her love will still love her.

laurabranigan1990

I find a lot of commonality with Journey’s power ballad “Faithfully” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMD8hBsA-RI. Written about the love of a couple, one of whom spends his life on the road as a musician and rediscovers his love for his bride. I think that it is a song that any man or woman in the military, or for that matter any other profession that spends much time away from home can relate.

bethkiss

The tender ballad by Kiss “Beth” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbtO_Ayjw0M is a song that I think expresses how many people deal with the tension between what they love and who they love. The song is about a man who promises to come home as soon as he is done playing music with his band and keeps calling back until finally he admits that he will not be coming home that night.

388439020_640

Blondie’s Heart of Glass http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGU_4-5RaxU is another song that talks about misplaced love and how many relationships appear to be real but then end with at least one partner hurting and wondering what happened. The Tide is High http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bv_mQIZHeHs is Judy’s ringtone on my iPhone, it is about a girl who won’t give up on her love and Dreaming http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TU3-lS_Gryk  is another song of dreams of love.

ABBA_-_Agnetha___Frida10

The Swedish super group Abba had numerous songs dealing love, hope, love lost and love found.  “One of Us” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIKAe8Wi0S0 is song about a relationship where one partner thinks that they can do better only to find out that they were wrong. The chorus “One of us is crying, One of us is lying, In her lonely bed, Staring at the ceiling, Wishing she was somewhere else instead, One of us is lonely, One of us is only, Waiting for a call, Sorry for herself, feeling stupid feeling small, Wishing she had never left at all….” finds an echo in many of the people that I meet. Their lesser known song, Our Last Summer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6YqC3D0GMo tells the story of a woman remembering her last summer in Paris with a former lover. Knowing Me Knowing You http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUrzicaiRLU  tells the story of a breakup as does The Winner Takes it All http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUrzicaiRLU

kissing

In the ;late 1970s and early 1980s Kenny Rogers released a number of songs suitable for the Valentine’s Day. She Believes in Me http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSPvv2EUdCA  is wonderful because it talks of an experience that many young lovers know that of having someone who believes in them and their dreams, even when they wonder. You Decorated My Life http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uY-CKe4lvwY talks about the difference a love makes in life, while Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOU4TWGSxZM a duet he sang with singer songwriter Kim Carnes talks about the hazards of falling in love with a dreamer.

us

Finally there is a song that from the first time I heard it has been a song that speaks to me about my love for Judy. It is a song that like Dr Hook’s Years from Now, is a reminder of how far we have come and how much we have been through; that song is Kenny Rogers’ “Through the Years” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzEwadgcZnQ which was released in 1982, a year before we were married.

chickweed-lane-val-day

So to all of my readers, enjoy the music and have a happy Valentine’s Day.

Peace

Padre Steve+

About these ads

3 Comments

Filed under Just for fun, marriage and relationships, music

Super Bowl Sunday and Groundhog Day: If Phil Simms Sees His Shadow Do We Get 6 More Weeks of Winter?

Super-Bowl-2014-XLVIII-Seahawks-Sherman-vs-Broncos-Manning1-1280x8002

Well it is Super Bowl Sunday and Groundhog Day to boot, two great events that go great together. Unfortunately Phil Simms, victor of Super Bowl XXI and CBS NFL Commentator will not be helping to call the game since it is on Fox, but I digress… Had CBS had the game this year they could have had Simms out in the parking lot with the early tailgaters as the sun came up.

simms-nantz-cbs-eof

Like the more famous Phil up in Punxsutawney, Simms has been able to keep a pretty good gig going for himself after his NFL career was over. Last night before I went to bed the significance of Groundhog Day and the Super Bowl being the same day astounded me.

27ca1833a86fad044a0f6a7067008e66

To my twisted mind it seemed like some sort of cosmic Karma. It would have been great if Punxsutawney Phil could have been at the new Met Life Stadium in east Rutherford New Jersey today.  Then the two events could have been even better orchestrated, a lot more money made by all, and as a bonus we could have watched Governor Chris Christie eat Phil during the game.

chris-christie-fat

Had the game been in New Orleans we might have been treated to Phil hiding out in Phil Robertson’s beard trying to avoid being eaten. On the other hand that would be kind of gross, but again, I digress…

I like watching the Super Bowl, I enjoy football, but it does not have the religious significance of baseball to me.  So tonight I will be watching it at my favorite hang out, the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant at Virginia Beach Town Center.

This is a good thing because it will get us out of the house for a few hours, and since Servepro can’t get out here until Tuesday to start dewatering my ground floor this is not a bad thing. The good thing is our upstairs has a nice living area, otherwise we would be in a hotel.

So for the next few days, maybe even weeks we will be living in a sort of water induced Groundhog Day as the house is dewatered, dried out, ripped up and reconstructed. But it could always be worse. Unfortunately the longer it takes for Servepro to get out here the worse the damage will be and the more that will need to be replaced or repaired. That is not their fault, because they, like so many other businesses like them are having lots of work to do after the big winter storm that his last week.

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow today, damning us to 6 more weeks of winter hell. But can we hope that Phil Simms, wherever he may be today will not see his shadow and that somehow if he doesn’t that it will cancel out the other Phil’s prediction?

groundhog-day-screenshot

The one drawback to the two events coinciding for me is that I will have to put off my annual observance of watching the movie Groundhog Day until tomorrow. As Ross Perot would have said to Larry King back in 1992: “That’s just sad Larry.”

Have a great day and enjoy the game!

Oh, as a P.S. Go Broncos!

Peace

Padre Steve+

Leave a comment

Filed under Just for fun, News and current events, sports and life

Crossing the Piso Mojado: Padre Steve’s Great Water Heater Flood of 2014

indicador_de_piso_mojado

“Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anybody.” Mark Twain 

Last night just before I put my tired head down for the night I heard a metallic “pop.” Startled my little dog Minnie began to growl, however since we have been having snow and ice melting off of our roof and making lots of noise, I assumed it was ice breaking off of our storm drain or roof gutters. Calming the little dog I turned off the light and passed out.

This morning we got to sleep in. Normally either Minnie or Molly are demanding that we take them out to do their business by six or six thirty in the morning. This morning I woke up at nine and both were still passed out. So after I got dressed I picked up Molly to take her down the stairs since she went blind over a year ago. She enjoys the ride down the steps.

As I walked down the stairs with Molly tucked under my arm like a football and Minnie dancing down the stairs behind me I noticed water all over our ground floor. I turned the corner and saw that the entryway, kitchen and dinning room were covered in water. I quickly let the dogs out and looked to see where the water was coming from, it was the water heater, which is located underneath our staircase. The entry to the water heater is through our main entry way closet, so I turned off the water realizing that water had been pouring through the broken tank for at least eight hours.

I got Judy up and we went to work trying to minimize any possible damage. I also got on the phone with USAA with whom we have our insurance.

Our carpets throughout most of the ground floor are soaked, water has seeped into walls, baseboards woodwork and counters, it even looks like the wood inside the base of our stairway is soaked. There may be damage to our kitchen cabinets as well. At least one hutch looks like its legs may be soaked beyond repair as well. Thankfully much of the damage, minus the deductible is going to be covered through our homeowners policy. We had the water tank replaced today and between it and our $1000 deductible we are still out a decent amount of money, but the really expensive damage will be covered.

Because of the amount of damage caused by the recent major snowstorm in the area it probably will be tomorrow or Monday before a company gets to us to begin the dry out of our house and restoration and repair of all the damage.

The dogs are handling things well, while we were doing the initial clean up and phone calls Molly decided that she was going to lay down on the soaked carpet in the dining room. She was completely unfazed. When we put up the child gate to keep her in the dry part of the house she kept trying to figure a way to get back into the dinning room or entry way. She paced back and forth, attempted to find ways around it and reminded me of a pissed off Monarch of a small European country. Her Divine Rights were being infringed upon and she didn’t like it, nor was she satisfied with the help (Judy and me) who she presumes is incompetent and uncaring for not indulging her every desire.

Molly likes laying in the entry way because she has always done it. Despite being blind she still conducts guard duty, barking at anything walking by the house. Obviously she still has very sharp hearing. Minnie didn’t seem to care either, she bounced back and forth through the water splashing her way through it.

After the plumbers were gone we decided to head out and have dinner at our favorite local Mexican restaurant. While there enjoying the food, with Judy having a jumbo Margarita and me a big Dos Equis the topic of “crossing the Piso Mojado” came up.

For those that do’t know “Crossing the Piso Mojado” will be the title of my life story. In Spanish it means piss on the floor, or something like that. I always see the yellow signs in stores whenever there is a wet floor that show someone slipping and say “Piso Mojado.” We were both laughing as we thought about it. After all what can you do? These things happen to everyone and it could be worse, a lot worse. Like the Bible says “the rain falls on the just and the unjust,” or as the Revised Padre Steve Version of the Bible translates it “shit happens.”

Yes working around this is going to be a pain in the ass. Between recovery and restoration a lot of work will have to be done. There is a lot of water damage, but it could be much worse, and for that I am grateful, even if Molly is unhappy with being able to have free reign of all of her indoor empire.

Anyway, have a great night, be safe and much love.

Peace

Padre Steve+

3 Comments

Filed under Just for fun

New Year 2014: Resolutions, Coffee and Donuts, The Mendoza Line and the Unknown Possibilities of Existence

1517925_10152183751942059_704440658_n

“New Year’s Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” Mark Twain

New Year’s Day is typically one of the laziest days that I observe during the year and this year was no different. The reason for this is because I figure that there are another 364 days left in the year and I need to pace myself.

20130815-224808.jpg

Last night we were up a couple of hours after the ball fell in Times Square and thankfully our dogs Molly and Minnie let me sleep until eight-thirty. After I let them go out, take their morning constitutional and feed them breakfast I went back to bed and stayed there until after noon when Minnie told me in no uncertain terms that I needed to be up and that she needed another constitutional.

ChocolateDippedCakeDoughnuts

After that it was time for a shower followed by a cup of coffee, and this morning in a fit of wild abandon I discovered that Krispy Kreme Chocolate Mini Donuts are great when dipped in coffee. It is amazing the chances I will take in a New Year, as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it.” But I digress.

Like I said yesterday I don’t do New Year resolutions. I find that I don’t do well with them and my reality is more in line with Mark Twain who so rightly observed:

“Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever.”

That doesn’t mean that I will not seek to improve myself or do better. As I have mentioned on numerous occasions I am not a “Hall of Famer” in the game of life, I am a “Mendoza Line” guy when it comes to doing life. For those unfamiliar with the Mendoza Line it is named after Mario Mendoza a shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates and other teams who was competent at defense but a marginal hitter, his batting average being just enough not to be sent to the minor leagues. The Mendoza Line is considered to be a batting average of .200 though Mendoza’s actual lifetime average was .215. Thus for me life is something that I manage to muddle through and if I do well I might muddle through a bit better than I have before.

That being said I do have some goals this year. I want to become a great teacher of Ethics and Military History and get started on a Ph.D. so that whenever I retire from the Navy I can be competitive in teaching at the college and university level. I want to get started on a book this year and maybe even find a publisher and I hope that a major media or commentary site will start publishing some of my blog articles.  So if you know someone that can help in that last category please give me a shout out.

46864_463040812058_671902058_6549553_4068144_n

Other things I want to do apart from work and education. I want to make a trip to England, Ireland and Scotland with Judy this year. I want to go to a lot of Norfolk Tides baseball games at Harbor Park, see a Orioles game at Camden Yards, and maybe if possible see a game at Fenway Park or Wrigley Field.

On a personal level I want to see more improvement in my PTSD recovery, to sleep better without nightmares and night terrors, to not be as anxious in crowded places or in bad traffic and to develop some better spiritual disciplines. Those are all things I have struggled with since coming back from Iraq and though I am have been doing better over the past year I want to see some more marked improvements in each area this year.

Likewise I want to be better at caring for those in my life, family, friends and those that I work with and those that I will teach and those who read this website.

Of course none of us know what the future brings, but thankful to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln “the future only comes one day at a time” so we should be good.

So a New Year is a hand, 364 more days in it and lots of possibilities. The past is now past, and though the past may still be with us and influence the present it does not have to bind us in its icy grip.

The new year presents me, and maybe all of us the chance to look at possibilities that we never imagined, to accept the past and all that is part of it without being trapped by it. It is as the entity Q told Captain Jean Luc Picard in the Star Trek the Next Generation episode Tapestry:

Captain Picard: I sincerely hope that this is the last time that I find myself here. 

Q: You just don’t get it, do you, Jean-Luc? The trial never ends. We wanted to see if you had the ability to expand your mind and your horizons. And for one brief moment, you did. 

Captain Picard: When I realized the paradox. 

Q: Exactly. For that one fraction of a second, you were open to options you had never considered. That is the exploration that awaits you. Not mapping stars and studying nebulae, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence. 

Our trials will not end in the coming year. However, if we open ourselves to new possibilities and to options that we never before considered we just might find that at the end of 2014 things might go better. Even more important we might be different, better or changed. As T.S. Elliott wrote: “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.”

Peace

Padre Steve+

1 Comment

Filed under Baseball, christian life, dogs, Just for fun, philosophy, PTSD

The Future Comes One Day at a Time: Padre Steve’s New Year Eve 2013

20130825-202532.jpg

“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”  Abraham Lincoln

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Uo0JAUWijM 

Abba Happy New Year

Well finally we come to the end of the year 2013.  That being said we can say that it was definitely a year. It was a year filled with days which were filled with hours which were filled with minutes, seconds and nanoseconds.  It was a year of triumph and tragedy that filled the hearts of many with fear and unease.  At the same time it is now in the past. It cannot be relieved or changed but we can take the time to learn from it and hopefully build a better future.

2013 like all of the past will be remembered and written about by historians, theologians journalists and philosophers and most will place their own interpretation on it and then go on to surmise the future.  I do not presume to be that smart until someone starts paying me to make such learned prognostications.  However the future is unknown and even Jesus warned us “that we do not know what tomorrow brings.”

I am a historian. For me history is not just something dead in the past but a living reality that influences us in everything we do. As such I thing we need to learn lessons from history and apply that knowledge to what we do now. We do not live in a vacuum, if we did we would be very dusty and always spinning around, but I digress.

340702.full-2

Uncertain Times 

I think that we have to learn from the past in order to be ready for the future. But the future is unknown and often uncharted.  Thus we should as George Patton said  “Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.” That really is the reason I study history, not so we have a laundry list of facts events and dates that I can use to prove my point but rather to see how people and nations dealt with things that they either could not or did not foresee. Human nature doesn’t change and while circumstances and technology may change the way people deal with unforeseeable events can help us navigate future difficulties. It is not a guarantee but it is a help.

Dallas Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban wrote today that “None of us are born into the world we live in.”  That is so true because we are all born at a moment in time and the world is always changing and changing is ways that will always surprise us. Maybe not some of the events themselves, but the players that make things happen, the places that they happen and the speed of which they happen.  Time stands still for no person.

Though the future is yet to be written though people of faith place the future in the hands of God we cannot erase the past and go back to some point in time where our interpretation of history says that things were better. Such thinking is pure fantasy and is  quite delusional.

Golda Meir said “One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present.” Unfortunately most politicians and pundits do not understand this as George Orwell so poignantly noted “All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.”

I think that is a large part of why we are in the political mess we have been in for so long in this country and probably why my spiritual search will never really end.

zMlQF

Rat from Pearls Before Swine and I have a lot in Common 

For me 2013 was a year of growth and learning.  After 5 years of doing hospital work I am back in academia teaching ethics, military history and a class on working with IGOs, NGOs and the private sector in humanitarian operations or in combat zones. The new assignment will be quite rewarding and I expect to start work on a Ph.D. this year so that when I retire from the military I will be better positioned to teach and do other things in these academic areas.

In 2013 I made plenty of mistakes and really haven’t deviated too much off of the Mendoza Line.  But hopefully have learned from those mistakes. I thought about making specific resolutions for 2014 but decided against it, I don’t want to have to give myself “resolution absolution.”  I figure that there is no way that I could make it through New Year’s Day if without totally screwing them up so why bother.

However that being said I do resolve this year is to go out every day, do my best and try not to screw things up too badly.  It is the same attitude that I have playing baseball or softball, so why not apply it to the rest of my life?

English poet Thomas Hood penned this:

And ye, who have met with Adversity’s blast,
And been bow’d to the earth by its fury;
To whom the Twelve Months, that have recently pass’d
Were as harsh as a prejudiced jury -
Still, fill to the Future! and join in our chime,
The regrets of remembrance to cozen,
And having obtained a New Trial of Time,
Shout in hopes of a kindlier dozen. Thomas Hood

All this being said I think that the wisest thing ever said about the future was by Yogi Berra who wisely remarked “The future ain’t what it used to be.” But then was it ever what it used to be?

Tonight I will usher in the New Eve with Judy and our Papillon Dachshund mix Molly and Papillon Minnie after going out to dinner and for a few beers with friends at Gordon Biersch.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !
and surely I’ll buy mine !
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

Blessings my friends, Happy end of the Old Year and all the best for the New Year!

Peace

Padre Steve+

3 Comments

Filed under Just for fun, Loose thoughts and musings, philosophy

Padre Steve’s Favorite Halloween Horror

love-at-first-bite

“Without me, Transylvania will be as exciting as Bucharest… on a Monday night.” Count Dracula (George Hamilton) on being banished from his castle by Romanian Communists in Love at First Bite

Yes it is Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve and time for me to share my favorite Halloween horror films with you. Horror movies can be scary, but they can also be funny and even kind of klitschy. I think that is why they have such an enduring fascination to so many people, including me. I love horror, suspense, science fiction and the paranormal. They tend to be less scary than driving to work on the local interstate highways in the Hampton Roads area or going to a Mall or Wal-Mart.

Horror films have always fascinated me, especially the ones that are not simply built around a bunch of slashing and mindless killing and brutality.

Some of the films I like are more dramatic and suspenseful while others are more on the funny side of the horror genre. Not that there is anything wrong with that. There are hundreds of not thousands of horror films out there and many are variations on a theme and many are so bad I will not watch them. That being said there are some that I cannot miss.

drac_1513745c

I love the whole vampire and Dracula genre. The Bela Lugosi Dracula was interesting but the klitchshy Hammer Dracula films with Christopher Lee were always my favorites. It was always fun for me to watch how some idiot managed to find a way to spill some blood on Dracula’s ashes and re-animate the Prince of Darkness. Of course the fact that Lee’s Dracula was always going after some really good looking girl made the series predicable and enjoyable.

600full-the-vampire-lovers-screenshot

The female versions of the Dracula films produced by Hammer Productions were even more enjoyable for a teen age boy. Ingrid Pitt played a great Carmilla Karnstein, a seductive female vampire who preyed on great looking women in The Vampire Lovers.  In the vampire genre Quentin Tarintino’s Dusk ‘Til Dawn was pretty good and Wesley Snipes Blade series was enjoyable too.

salems-lot-1979-soul

I think that the horror film that still gives me the creeps is another vampire film, Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. I saw it the first time while visiting my wife’s cousin who lived in the Netherlands back in 1985. It was on Dutch television in English and subtitled in Dutch.

images-59

Now I admit these are not the best Dracula movies, but they are entertaining. I liked Interview with a Vampire, Dracula (1979) starring Frank Langella, Sir Lawrence Olivier and Donald Pleasance, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) starring Gary Oldham and Winona Ryder were all actually better films.  Other films in the vampire genre that I like included Fright Night and The Lost Boys.

600full-dracula--dead-and-loving-it-screenshot

There were parodies as well, my favorites being Love at First Bite starring George Hamilton, Susan Saint James, Richard Benjamin, Dick Shawn and Arte Johnson, Mel Brooks’ Dracula Dead and Loving it starring Leslie Nielsen and Blackula, a blacksploitation parody starring William Marshall.

images-60

Frankenstein was okay but I love Mel Brooks’ parody Young Frankenstein starring Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Terri Garr and Peter Boyle.

William Friedkin_The Exorcist_1973

Then there are the Satanic or Demonic possession and oppression films based on actual events. There is the classic The Exorcist and more recently The Conjuring. Both kept me on the edge of my seat and were scarier at home than they were in the theater. Another film which I like but which might better fit into the Science Fiction or loosely based on real events category is The Mothman Prophecies. 

Shaun-and-bat-shaun-of-the-dead-73362_800_527

Zombie films have never been that interesting to me but the original Night of the Living Dead is a classic that I will watch and I did enjoy the parody Shaun of the Dead starring Simon Pegg.

army-of-darkness

In a different class is the cult classic Army of Darkness a sequel to the Evil Dead films.  In this Bruce Campbell plays a hardware store employee who gets transported through time to a medieval castle being attacked by a ghoulish army. It really is a classic full of great one liners and action. I think one of my favorite lines is where Campbell’s character “Ash” answers the leader of the dead army when he is asked who he is: “Well hello Mister Fancypants. Well, I’ve got news for you pal, you ain’t leadin’ but two things, right now: Jack and shit… and Jack left town.”

Halloween2

When I was in junior high school, high school and college a lot of different horror films came out which became cult classics which spawned sequel after sequel. There was the original Halloween starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I never got into the sequels because none of them were as good as the originals.

1bodysnatchers

Another film that I found positively frightening was Invasion of the Body Snatchers starring Donald Sutherland. It was a remake of an earlier film but the whole concept of falling asleep and being replaced with a pod person freaked me out.

Like I said at the beginning of the article, there are thousands of horror films out there. I could go on and mention more but to do so would be to repeat variations on similar themes or to stretch the genre to include various murder mysteries with horror or demonic elements such as Silence of the Lambs or films which are more appropriately classed as Science Fiction such as Alien.

Ghostbusters

In a totally different category are the Ghostbusters comedies and Scrooged. Both comedies with classic horror twists. I love those movies.

So as Halloween winds down and the trick or treaters go home, while you are snuggled in your bed with your love, turn on the television and find something scary to watch. After all, tomorrow is Friday.

Peace

Padre Steve+

2 Comments

Filed under film, Just for fun, movies

My Life is Movie Quotes

hedley-lamarr

“My mind is aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought careening through a cosmic vapor of invention.” Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman) 

I have been rather serious the past few days on the blog but in real life I am usually less than serious. It is scary because whether I am at work, at home or out it seems like no matter what the topic, no matter what the situation be it serious, light hearted or mundane a movie or television quote somehow comes to mind. Truthfully sometimes I wonder about me.

However last night Judy found herself doing the same thing and of course giving me the credit, or the blame for her doing the same thing. I love it when a plan comes together.

0315214_41022_MC_Tx360

In one of my classes on National Security Policy we were talking about the limits of what you could do as a military or a nation and the quote from Magnum Force where Harry Callahan (Dirty Harry played by Clint Eastwood) told Lieutenant Briggs (Hal Holbrook) “A man’s got to know his limitations.” In another discussion I was thinking of the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition. But I digress…

Like I said I always seem to come up with movie or sometimes television quotes for the occasion. I think it is because I have one of those phonographic memories that keeps going around and around.

post-107343-0-06142500-1360386847

When someone is too negative I think of Donald Sutherland in Kelly’s Heroes who said to his driver “Why don’t you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don’t you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don’t you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?”

Of course my life is a sea of Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Pulp Fiction and other quotes. When I have no idea about something I think of Mongo (Alex Karras) who said “Mongo not know, Mongo only pawn in game of life” or when I’m a bit nervous I think of the Waco Kid (Gene Wilder) “But I shoot with this hand.” 

I think that you might be getting the idea. I’m a bit warped, but I’m okay with it. For better or worse I cannot go through a day without a minimum of three or four movie or television quotes. They come from everywhere and nowhere and span the ages and genres.  Sometimes I wonder if I picked “the wrong day to stop sniffing glue.” 

images-12

So there it is. You want the truth? Then you need to ask this question posed by George Costanza (Jason Alexander) on Seinfeld“Do you ever get down on your knees and thank God you know me and have access to my dementia?” 

625696_10151179483627059_1009630985_n

Have a good night and great weekend “Set ludicrous speed” and “go do that Voodoo that you do so well!”

Peace

Padre Steve+

Leave a comment

Filed under film, Just for fun, purely humorous

The Royal Baby: George Alexander Louis, A Name Fit for a Costanza

BP-eAg7CUAA_jm6.jpg-large

The Once and Future King George? Serenity Now! 

Like many Americans whose families left the old world, particularly England because of the Monarchy I was fascinated to see what Will and Kate would name their new baby. I was betting on William Robert which would give him the nickname “Billy Bob” or James Joseph “Jimmy Joe” or simply a Boy Named Sue, how do you do?

But alas I was wrong. The young Royal’s who unlike their American counterparts have never won a World Series went back to history for the name. The new babe, the firstborn son of William and Kate is His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge.

George, Alexander and Louis. All very royal names, English, Russian and French, alas the Royals are still punishing their wayward cousin Kaiser Wilhelm for that unfortunate 1914-1918 bloodbath called the First World War otherwise Willy might have been in the name somewhere. For a normal Royal Voyeur history might have some meaning when it comes to names, but I am not normal, nor Royal, nor a voyeur. But I digress…

I expected that George might be in the running as the first name of the new Royal heir. It is a good name, George V and VI did pretty well of course George III was one of the reasons that we Americans are no longer British subjects but every name has its share of less than stellar progenitors. It could be worse, he could be a descendent of the infamous Edmund Black Adder who I’m sure would have something to say about the new Royal offspring.

If the babe’s name had been George William Edmund Henry or any other number of good historic Royal names I might have not give it another thought. However when I heard the combination “George Alexander Louis” my PTSD and Mad Cow afflicted brain went other places. I had heard these names before, but where?

Then it occurred to me, Seinfeld… yes Seinfeld. George Louis Costanza, played so well by Jason Alexander. George, Alexander Louis Costanza Windsor. The name just sings, even better than “Seven.”

It was then that signals began reaching my tinfoil hat and entering my PTSD Mad Cow warped brain. No, this was not an accident. It was not just a reference to history. It was kismet. It was if Seinfeld had become a reality, it is the real “Summer of George” manifested in the offspring of Will and Kate.

I am blessed to have such a warped mind that allows me to see what most mortals cannot see, that somehow God or whatever divine or supernatural forces brought this about has a sense of humor. From now on the House of Windsor will be related to the House of Costanza.

Coincidence? I think not.

Serenity Now!

Peace

Padre Steve+

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Just for fun, News and current events, purely humorous

30 Years of Marriage: Marriage the Definitive Icebreaker in an Ever Changing World

1012128_10151749215177059_1902693993_n

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Luke Skywalker has returned to his home planet of Tatooine in an attempt to rescue his friend Han Solo from the clutches of the vile gangster Jabba the Hutt. Little does Luke know that the GALACTIC EMPIRE has begun construction on a new armored space station even more powerful than the first dreaded Death Star. When completed, this ultimate weapon will spell certain doom for the small band of rebels struggling to restore freedom to the galaxy…

Cut! Wrong galaxy…

295_26912077058_3276_n

The year was 1983 and a newly commissioned Army Second Lieutenant was marrying the love of his life in an old Presbyterian Church in Stockton California. The wedding was done on a shoestring but was quite nice, you would never have known that on that warm but not too hot day in Stockton California, only 89 degrees at game time with almost no humidity. Since the groom’s 1975 Chevy Monza didn’t have air conditioning that was a good thing.

Other things were going on in the world that day and that year.

Yasir Arafat was expelled from Syria after his accusations that President Hafez al-Assad was behind the anti-Arafat rebellion among Palestine Liberation Organization troops in Lebanon.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana had just had their first son, William.

Evita closed on Broadway after 1568 performances.

215px-Flashdanceposter

Flashdance…What A Feeling by Irene Cara was the Billboard top single.

thriller-video

Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video became the biggest video hit of all time and he would die on our 26th wedding anniversary in 2009.

In sports an Indian team led by the legendary Kapil Dev overcame the mighty, two-time champion West Indies at Lord’s to win the Prudential World Cup.

The Orioles lost to the Tigers 9-3, the Giants lost to the Padres 3-2 and the A’s lost to the Rangers 8-3. The O’s would go on to win the World Series.

251651

Superman III was the top box office draw but would be de-throned by Star Wars VI, Return of the Jedi on the 26th. The top ten box office hits for 1983 were: Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Terms of Endearment, Flashdance, Trading Places, WarGames, Octopussy, Sudden Impact, Staying Alive, Mr. Mom and Risky Business.

images-48

M*A*S*H had ended its epic run as one of the favorite television shows in the United States.

1983-stang-camaro-blog-dogear

The Car and Driver Magazine Top Ten Best list included the 1983 Pontiac 6000STE, 1983 Porsche 944, 1983 Toyota Celica Supra, 1983 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI, 1983 AMC/Renault Alliance, 1983 Chevrolet Caprice Classic, 1983 Ford Mustang GT 5.0, 1983 Honda Accord, 1983 Mazda RX-7 and the 1983 Mercedes-Benz 380SEL. Pontiac and AMC are no more and we now own a 2013 Mustang.

Ronald Reagan was President and Yuri Andropov the Soviet Premier as the Cold War began to reach its crescendo even as both countries were enmeshed in wars or attempts to subvert each other’s allies, the US in Nicaragua and the Soviets in Afghanistan even as Reagan proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative or Star Wars program.

The Polish Pope, John Paul II was making waves in Poland as the Solidarity movement continued to confound local Communist authorities and the Soviet Union, helping to set the stage for the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact.

Nelson Mandela was imprisoned in then a repressive and racist apartheid South Africa.

Iran and Iraq were locked in a bloody struggle, Israel had invaded Lebanon and become  involved in a quagmire and Saddam Hussein was considered to be our friend. Osama Bin Laden was supported by the United States in Afghanistan.

The Space Shuttle Challenger returned to earth after a historic mission with Sally Ride the first woman to go into space.

24419_10151620210532059_1908706513_n

It is hard to believe that all of that was going on. In fact since there was no internet yet and even cable news was still in its infancy most of us lived in a world that was not so complicated. In light of the current concerns regarding privacy which make Orwell’s 1984 seem all too real, that novel was merely interesting.

6095_128720537058_6625464_n

Who would have thought then that the world would be where we are today. Likewise who would believe that Judy and I are still married after all these years? Sure I think that most people enter into marriage with the intent of it lasting the rest of their lives but tragically so many don’t. In light of all the failed marriages out there I almost wonder if 30 is the new 50 as far as anniversaries are concerned. I guess that we are rather fortunate. We have done the whole sickness and in health, for richer or poorer deal a number of times already, seen our shares of joys and heartaches and since I have been in some type of military service our whole marriage endured many separations.  So far we still love each other.

6095_128718107058_2713239_n

One of my favorite movies about marriage is the classic Four Weddings and a Funeral. There is a great sequence in the film which sometimes I wonder might just be true:

Gareth: I’ve got a new theory about marriage. Two people are in love, they live together, and then suddenly one day, they run out of conversation.

Charles: Uh-huh.

Gareth: Totally. I mean they can’t think of a single thing to say to each other. That’s it: panic! Then suddenly it-it occurs to the chap that there is a way out of the deadlock.

Charles: Which is?

Gareth: He’ll ask her to marry him.

Charles: Brilliant! Brilliant!

Gareth: Suddenly they’ve got something to talk about for the rest of their lives.

Charles: Basically you’re saying marriage is just a way of getting out of an embarrassing pause in conversation.

Gareth: The definitive icebreaker.

Peace

Padre Steve+

1 Comment

Filed under Just for fun, Loose thoughts and musings, marriage and relationships

I Have a Bridge to Sell You: Don’t Want That? How About These Pills and Money Instead? Padre Steve Muses on Radio Advertising

ferengi-ethics

Sometimes a writer has to write about something less than serious, even if it has somewhat serious implications….

I have to drive a lot. As such my current vehicle is equipped with Sirius satellite radio. I am not particularly esoteric in my radio tastes. I listen to the Sirius 70’s music channel, “70’s on 7” as well as various sports and news channels. Thankfully the 70s channel is commercial free, however, the others are filled with commercials and these are not your what you see on TV, despite the fact that at one time satellite radio was advertised as being advertisement free. That being said I have enough capitalist in my moderately liberal constitution to tolerate advertising because businesses have to make money.

vegomatic-550x412

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zK2p5TAhd0s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjYVk9cz_aE

Now I don’t mind advertising or people and businesses making money, except some of these advertisements, in fact I think most of them seem more than unseemly. They seem to me to be somewhat grotesque in their appeal to the most base, carnal and insidious passions known to humankind. They play on most wanton passions  that we know as people. It is actually fascinating when one decides to listen to the barrage of advertising for products that appeal to every one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Well at least the more exciting ones of them that are not that are not explicitly forbidden by law.

I am actually amazed when I listen to these advertisements. I have kind of lost count of the numbers of different variations in them but here are a few of my favorites.

ExtenzePillsOrderED

I think that the most common ads that I hear are ones for male Erectile Disfunction, or E D, The fascinating thing about these advertisements are the shear numbers and variations of them. There are the supposedly legitimate “real” prescription drugs, in their original prescription form, modified variants that give new life to the languid male sexual appendage in as little as 7 seconds. Of course there are the supposed “generic” versions of these little blue pills of happiness as well as foreign manufactured “organic supplements” that supposedly make the otherwise languid male organ do backflips or something like that all for a fraction of the costs of the real thing. For the first time this week I heard advertisements for female sexual enhancement supplement. That was interesting, but I digress…

Of course we can’t leave out weight loss medications sold over the airwaves and the internet, nor the one that I heard this week on a program to help you gain weight. I thought that answer to gaining weight was eating Big Macs at every meal, but evidently I was wrong, there is a program guaranteed to help you get a fat ass, if you are willing to spend the money. My advice, save the money and spend every waking hour at McDonalds, Wendy’s, Burger King and Hardy’s with occasional forays to Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme.

Then of course there is money. Money, money, money, must be funny, living in the rich man’s world. I find the money making schemes, or the presented on these radio advertisements to be worthy of a Ferengi, not that there is anything wrong with that because I admire the Ferengi.

2-7-1

But as much as I admire the Ferengi I am a mere “Hu-man” and have to point out that despite my admiration for the Ferengi that I have a hard time with Hu-mans like me attempting to outdo the Ferengi in the acquisition of capital, earned or swindled. The financial “opportunities” presented include “opportunities” in gold, silver and other precious metals, most of which have lost value after speculators took them to unimagined heights due to world economic uncertainties. Then there is the economic apocalypse promised by those that promote secret ways to avoid the economic catastrophes that they promise, except that they keep running the same commercial that they did last year as if was new. I guess that the warning may not been as critical as the advertisement.

CW6_4r_nb

Then there are the advertisements that promise to deliver people from their debts, especially massive amounts of debts to the IRS and state tax agencies that could only come through attempting to illegally not pay taxes in the first place or those that simply want to escape paying for things that they bought. Those are just a few of the economic scams that await people should they respond to them. There are a host of others including those of payday loan agencies and even unregulated agencies on Indian reservations.

tumblr_max4afmvdd1qzsylpo1_400

Of course there are the “Christian” relationship and dating sites like Christian Mingle, which promises to help you “find God’s match for you.” Sorry to sound cynical but I have seen too many Christian friends duped by such sites to believe anything that they advertise. I can’t wait to hear an advertisement for “Christian Mangle” the site that links “Christian” abusers to victims, at least there might be some truth in advertising in it, but again I digress….

All of these advertisements promise to give those desperate enough to send money to them to eliminate debts, both honestly and dishonestly incurred, to get rich quick on the misfortunes of others, to increase sexual drive and performance and even to use God and the internet to find a mate to dominate.

slice o matic

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pqXfq3f4jE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYz7HHbaums

The sad thing is that these are just a sampling of the offerings being marketed to those gullible enough to throw down a credit card number. Somehow the proliferation of such ads makes me long for the days of K-Tel and Ronco back in the 1970s and even the Saturday Night Live satires of them.

26395M~Super-Bass-O-Matic-Posters

http://www.hulu.com/watch/19046

About the only thing I haven’t heard an advertisement for is premature ejaculation, but I hear that’s coming quickly.* I guess that is why that for the most part I listen to my 70s music, brought to me without commercial advertisements.

So for tonight,

Peace

Padre Steve+

* Credit to Mel Brooks for that line

Leave a comment

Filed under economics and financial policy, Just for fun