Category Archives: purely humorous

Worldwide Uncertainty & the Importance of Now

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Friends of Padre Steve’s World

“Some people see things as they are and ask why? Others see things as they never were and claim mad cow.” Alan Shore

I am not an economist, I am a historian and I while I do understand some things about economic theory and history, and I am certainly no expert on markets. Like many I do get concerned when I see the stock markets around the world crashing, not so much for the rich people who are losing inflated stock value, for the rich almost without exception seem to do well in times of such turmoil, in fact they often do better because governments value their business expertise and depend on them to get countries out of the mess. But I worry more for the possible effects that this could have on small business owners, the middle class and the poor. I do get concerned for the middle class who have money invested in the markets through their 401k’s and retirement programs, as well as the poor who could lose their jobs if the companies that they work for tank.

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There are so many variables; interest rates, oil prices, housing prices, and employment rates just to name a few. There are also the factors of what is happening in China and other big yet developing markets which can have ripple effects, or even tsunami-like affects across the globe depending how bad things get. There are so many other things going on in the world economy dealing with Greece the EU and the Euro, Russian rumblings in Eastern Europe and the Ukraine, the rise of ISIL and the potential threats to oil producing countries in the Middle East, things going on with vast refugee migrations as well as economic, political, and potential viral epidemics in African countries which frankly most Americans and Europeans could care less about until they reach our shores. 

All of these things are so troubling on so many levels, and why shouldn’t they be. Not only are we looking at potential economic chaos, but there is climate change and its effects on endangered wildlife like the Virgin Island Screech Owl and the Fresno Kangaroo. Who knows what could be next?

So in light of this worldwide uncertainty I can recommend a number of things. Look at your investments, take a look at history because it always has lessons, or follow the immortal advice of John “Bluto” Blutarsky: “My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.”

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But that being said, no matter how bad things are and how much worse they could get it is far more important to live in the moment with those that you love and care about in the now, not the future that we have so little influence over. As Danny Crane (William Shatner) told Alan Shore (James Spader) in Boston Legal:

“Let me tell you something. When you got polar ice caps melting and breaking off into big chunks and you got Osama still hiding in a cave, planning his next attack, when you got other rogue nations with nuclear arsenals, and not to mention some wack-job, home-grown that can cancel you at any second and when you got…mad cow, now gets high priority. And when you’re still on the balcony on a clear night, sipping scotch with your best friend, now is everything.”

Yes my friends, in the midst of all the craziness that we cannot control, now is everything so keep calm. 

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Groundhog Day Predictions

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“It’s the same thing your whole life: “Clean up your room. Stand up straight. Pick up your feet. Take it like a man. Be nice to your sister. Don’t mix beer and wine, ever.” Oh yeah: “Don’t drive on the railroad track.” 

Well, Punxsutawney Phil, the seer of weather seers made his predictions today. You guessed it, six more weeks of winter are on our way. Hopefully my next trip to Gettysburg will fall in between major winter storms like it did last year, apart from that I really don’t care, unless winter drags on into baseball season. A number of years ago I remember attending an opening day here in Norfolk where the temperature at game time was 38 degrees and winds were blowing in from center field at close to 40 knots. That was a cold ass opening day. I don’t want that again, but I digress…

However, Phil has expanded his predictions. Phil predicted another six years of political gridlock and insanity from the Tea Party and Religious conservatives, like that’s news, give me a break. Like that prediction takes some kind of gift….  Phil also predicted yet another decade or more of war in the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe. I have to admit, the rodent is a genius, he should be employed by a think tank and as a talking head on the various cable news networks. Likewise, the furry beast predicted that the NFL would have another five years of cheating, wife beating and other criminal activity in the NFL before Congress finally revokes the league’s non-profit status.

All that aside, I and probably you live Groundhog Day. I mean like the movie Groundhog Day. Hell, my wake up song on my iPhone is I Got You Babe just like the movie. Since I have been in the military over three decades I can say that every day is Groundhog Day, and every day I wake up on this side of the dirt is not a bad day. Actually, I wouldn’t mind a chance to replay a single day again and again until I exhausted all possibilities and got it right. It could be fun.

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Tonight I am again watching Groundhog Day and I can relate. If I was Bill Murray’s character, Phil Conners, I cannot say that I wouldn’t have done any of the things that he does in the movie. Presuming I wake up tomorrow, something that nothing none of us are guaranteed of doing, I will wake up to the words of I Got You Babe.

So until tomorrow, happy Groundhog Day and many more…

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

 

 

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My Life is Movie Quotes

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“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.

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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.

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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.” 

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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?” 

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

Peace

Padre Steve+

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

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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+

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“Et Tu Brute” Beware of the Ides of March

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Et tu Mitch? I mean Brute

Well it is March 15th, the Ides of March according to the Ancient Romans. It was a day sacred to them as the big uber-feast day of the Roman God Jupiter, where the Ides sheep was sacrificed to make all things right in the universe, or something like that.

It was also a day where Julius Caesar, long before he had an Orange drink named after him was warned about by a seer. Never ignore a seer or the machinations of political opponents is what I say, but that’s just me.

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However old Julius Caesar never quite got this, after all he had been named Dictator in Perpetuato, which is kind of like for all time by the Roman Senate. He also forgot that no matter what that definition of “for all time” actually means, that for Senators it generally equates to “until the next election cycle.” Since an election was coming up the Senators realized that “for all time” was rapidly running out and decided to act.

So on March 15th of 44 BC Julius Caesar ignored the warnings of a seer and went to see a gladiator match in the well of the Roman Senate. Eight Senators, sometimes referred in Roman history as the Group of Eight concocted a bi-partisan plan to rid themselves of Caesar. It was a very “pointed” plan if you get my drift by which they would stab Julius to death when he came to see them and the gladiator match that they were hosting. When Caesar passed the seer on the way to the Senate he basically dissed him saying something like “dude it’s the Ides of March baby and I’m still standing” and thumbed his nose giving a Bronx jeer. The seer’s response was not recorded but if one can assume, and I will, he probably said something like” up yours buddy, rot in hell” and gave him the evil eye.

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William Shakespeare: Trust him because he’s English

Needless to say Julius Caesar ended up getting the Senator’s point, or actually 23 points based on the number of stab wounds on his cold dead body. Caesar’s last words are disputed, but William Shakespeare, who must be believed because he was English and not Italian and who lived over 1500 years after the events has to have the most accurate account. Shakespeare, who depended on Wikipedia for his knowledge of the time declared that Caesar said to Brutus, a Senator Et tu Brute?” which means something like “Dude how could you?” when he saw Brutus sticking his K-Bar into him. Shakespeare however does not record what he said to Mitch McConnell.

Of course historians will debate this, but if you can’t believe an Englishman why would you believe and Italian when it comes to knowing how do get rid of a head of state? The English, despite the quaint accent have proven themselves to be experts at this.

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Likewise, there is something else to be said about the Ides of March and the assassination of Julius Caesar. That is this. The assassination was a community thing. There wasn’t a lone assassin with a curious name like Lee Harvey, James Earl or John Wilkes, no this was a real live Italian style mob it, sans automatic weapons. Imagine if they had guns, Julius Caesar would have ended up like Sonny Corleone in The Godfather. The fact is that we are lacking in community now days and if there is anything about the Ides of March that we need to remember is that community matters. Lone gunmen, they are kind of boring, but mobs of enraged people or Senatorial conspirators, that is hard to do now days.

So now with less than an hour left on the Ides of March, I have made sure that I have not let the Senate or anyone else name me a dictator for life and have avoided sharp pointy objects and Senators of any kind. So far I am doing well. I haven’t seen a seer and have settled in for the evening on the eve of the eve of St Patrick’s Day.

So until tomorrow, Happy Ides of March!

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve Remembers the Alamo

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“I Messed With Texas and Now I Have a Rash” General Antonio López de Santa Anna

I remember the Alamo.  I have seen the movie, at least a couple of them and been to the Alamo. Needless to say the actual Alamo did not live up to the movie billing.

It was on this day in 1836 that the garrison of Texans defending the outpost across from te Burger King and Walgreens in downtown San Antonio was overwhelmed by the Mexican Army. Led by William Travis, James Bowie and his brother David, Fess Parker or John Wayne playing David (Davy) Crockett the other 133 Texians as the called themselves, outnumbered and outgunned by about one million Mexican troops finally succumbed to the inevitable after a 13 day siege. They were slaughtered but the cry “Remember the Alamo!” reverberates to this day.

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I always felt misled by the media about the Alamo. From my time watching Disney and John Wayne movies about the Alamo I assumed that the fortress was well out of town, preserved for the sake of posterity and surrounded by parking lots and souvenir stands. However that was not the case and I found out this bitter truth in the summer of 1983 while going through my Medical Service Corps Officer Basic Course at Fort Sam Houston.

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Those were the times of the heady Reagan military build up and my class had no room to stay on the base. We were billeted in amid the squalor of the Riverwalk Marriott Hotel in downtown San Antonio. Having to take a lowest bidder Bluebird school bus to and from the base every day was a difficult task for we newly commissioned officers however, we made do.

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One day I had to stay late to do some research and missed the Army bus. I had to take a city bus from the base to the hotel. However the bus did not drop me off at the hotel. It dropped me off in Centennial Square, near a large granite phallic symbol which I later learned is called a “Centopath” a now extinct life form from the late Neosporin era. As I got my bearings I noticed the Walgreens, the Burger King and the venerable Joske’s department store. But nestled among them was a small and less than impressive building. I thought to myself that “that looks like the Alamo.” However I immediately dismissed the thought because I knew from the movies and Disney TV shoes that I had seen that the Alamo was on the outskirts of town and surrounded by parking lots. I then thought, “what a stupid place to put a replica of the Alamo” and proceeded to my hotel.

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When I got to my room I told my roommate, then 2nd Lieutenant Barry Mitchell, now a retired Lieutenant Colonel about my discovery of this “fake” Alamo. Barry looked at me like I had grown a third head. He knew that I was a history major. However, in my defense I studied Europe and Nazi Germany, choosing to learn my American history from the movies and the Bible like everyone else.

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As I looked at the expression on his face I realized that I had been had by the media. Barry said “that is the Alamo” and I replied “but the Alamo is out of town surrounded by parking lots…” Barry looked at me and told me that indeed that this was the real Alamo. It was humiliating.

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So the next weekend after I had drank too much at Dirty Nelly’s tavern on the Riverwalk I went and made pilgrimage to the Alamo. I was supervised on the tour by some women from the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, who had seen the battle in person and shepherded through the exhibits, maintaining a certain reverence for the site of this battle.

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Now since then I have been to the sites of many battles in the United States, Europe and Asia and never seen a site so unremarkable as the Alamo. The fault is not that of the building, or the brave men that died defending it, but by the callousness of the citizens of San Antonio who allowed the hallowed ground to be reduced to about a city block surrounded by crappy looking commercial structures and an horrible monument.

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Now the fact that the Mission building remains at all is because of these very long lived women that supervised my tour. Those brave women, who echoing the Isley Brother’s song “Fight the Powers that Be” fought the powers that be to preserve the site much as had Colonels Travis, Bowie and Crockett in 1836.

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Now admittedly the Alamo holds a special place in the hearts of all that love Texas, Fess Parker and John Wayne. I will also never forget to “Remember the Alamo” but not for the reasons of so many Texas patriots. I will remember it because it wasn’t what I thought it would be.

So my friends, Remember the Alamo!

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Blazing Saddles at 39

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“I want rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, shit-kickers and Methodists.” Hedley Lamar (Harvey Korman) 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiTKIbR69ss

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Today is the 39th anniversary of the release of the Mel Brook Western parody classic Blazing Saddles. I wasn’t quite 14 years old when it came out but somehow managed to get a ticket to the R rated movie. I didn’t have a fake I.D. like President Obama said was how he might have gotten into the theater to see it when he was 13, but I remember getting in to a lot of R rated movies back in those days without any parental supervision.

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To me the film is a cultural icon and classic. I watch it several times a year and if there is nothing else on and I want a good laugh there is a good chance that I will put it in my DVD player.

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The movie couldn’t be made today. It insulted everyone and was one of the most politically incorrect movies ever made. However, 1974 was a different time. It was a time of social and political turmoil as the Vietnam War wound down, the economy tanked and the Nixon Presidency teetered with each new revelation about the Watergate break in and cover-up.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upvZdVK913I

Mel Brooks used comedy to confront many of the evils still rampant in our society, racism, sexism, political corruption as well is simple ignorance were all targets of Brooks’ wit.

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Starring Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Harvey Korman, and Madeline Kahn it became one of the surprise hits of its era, surprising even Brooks in its acceptance and box office success. Unlike many movies it has endured and now at 39 years is considered one of the classics of American film.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6dm9rN6oTs

Brooks’ rich parody of the Western genre. Even John Wayne, though asked by Brooks to be in the film after looking at the script “Naw, I can’t do a movie like that, but I’ll be first in line to see it!” 

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Now when I see some of the same prejudice, racism, ignorance and corruption today I am reminded of Jim the Waco Kid’s (Gene Wilder) comments to Sheriff Bart when he experienced the racial prejudice of a little old lady:

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“What did you expect? “Welcome, sonny”? “Make yourself at home”? “Marry my daughter”? You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.”

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Now since it is getting late and I have things to do in the morning even though “My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives” I must prepare for bed.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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