Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What isn't "eccentric"?

Sebastian Horsley (left), the eldest son of the late British food magnate Nicholas Horsley, died on June 17 from a heroin overdose.  He was 47-years-old.

Known for an upbringing filled with "atheism, alcoholism and insanity," Horsley was an artist, a self-described "Dandy" fashioned in the mold of Lord Byron and Oscar Wilde who is probably best known for his failed, and nearly fatal, crucifixion attempt in the Philippines 10 years ago to prepare, as he put it, for a series of paintings on the subject.

Fame, in an odd twist, did not bring a great deal of wealth.  He often complained of being broke, with most of his money being spent on drugs and prostitutes while squandering the rest.

"Eccentric," from what I found, is the term used most often to describe this destitute character.  While one could argue that it describes him perfectly, I find little eccentricity in such a tragic figure whose odd fixation with human skulls, prostitutes, and especially alcohol and narcotics ultimately led to his demise.

There is nothing eccentric about self-destruction.  Horsley was a lost soul and social iconoclast who never found what he was looking for.  Yet wherever his spirit may roam, we can only hope that Sebastian Horsley is now at peace.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday's Quote: The separation of Church, State, and original intent

Throughout the world there exists an inteligencia that aims to rewrite history and to supplant Christian ideology from every social and political landscape because, in most cases, they choose preferences over Truth.  As a shark is drawn to blood in the water, these bold revolutionaries of a peculiar sort -- Atheists, Communists, Socialists, and Liberals of every kind -- have never been more enlivened in their drive to establish a Utopian society (in their image, as it were) devoid of one religion in particular that provides the principles of what makes our nation, despite its shortcomings, the envy of the entire planet.

I am relatively certain that I've said/written that before.

Forty-nine of the 56 Founding Founders were born-again Believers.  Some people don't like that (see above paragraph), which, by sheer intellectual vanity, leads them to take Jefferson's "Wall of Separation" letter to the Danbury Baptists of Connecticut grossly out of context.  So in the name of our national bedrock, Sunday's Quote will list some of the God-centered mottos that define us.

American Samoa -- Samoan: "Samoa, Muamua Le Atua" ("Samoa, let God be first")

State of Arizona -- Latin: "Ditat Deus" ("God enriches")

State of Colorado -- Latin: "Nil sine numine" ("Nothing without Providence")

State of Connecticut -- Latin: "Qui transtulit sustinet" ("He who transplanted sustains")

State of Florida -- "In God We Trust"

Commonwealth of Kentucky -- Latin: "Deo gratiam habeamus" ("Let us be grateful to God")

State of Ohio -- "With God all things are possible"

State of South Dakota -- "Under God the people rule"

United States of America -- "In God We Trust"

Others of note...

National Motto of Canada -- Latin: "a mari usque ad mare" ("From sea to sea," from Psalm 72:8, KJV: "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.")

Motto on the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States and on the back of the United States one-dollar bill -- Latin: "Annuit cœptis" ("He nods at things being begun")

Motto of Princeton University -- Latin: "Dei sub numine viget" ("Under God's Spirit she flourishes")

Motto of Colgate University -- Latin: "Deo ac veritati" ("For God and for truth")

Motto of the City of London -- Latin: "Domine dirige nos" ("Lord guide us")

Motto of the University of Oxford -- Latin: "Dominus Illuminatio Mea" ("The Lord is my light")

Motto of Uppsala University (one of the top universities in Europe, founded 1477) -- Latin: "Gratiae veritas naturae" ("Truth through God's mercy and nature")

Motto of the University of Wisconsin-Madison -- Latin: "Numen lumen" ("God our light")

Motto of Skidmore College -- Latin: "scuto amoris divini" ("By the shield of God's love)

Original motto of Harvard University -- Latin: "Veritas Christo et Ccclesiae" ("Truth for Christ and Church")

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Iconic Shot(s): A couple that caught my attention recently

Different constraints have prevented completion of numerous posts I've had planned for over a week.  So because a picture is worth a thousand words...

(click to enlarge)
A typical evening in San Diego, California

The photographer was never identified, as far as I can tell.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Walking small, but carrying a huge stick

Yes, the picture to the left is a caricature.  But it's appropriate and close to scale nevertheless.

Of all my favorite unjustifiably self-centered lunatics filled with their own brand of tyrannical hubris -- from Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Muammar Gaddafi, Omar al-Bashir, Vladimir Putin, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to Osama bin Laden himself -- none have been as thoroughly entertaining, and disturbing, as Kim Jong-il.

The official biography of Kim Jong-il states that his birth was prophesied, and later heralded, by the appearance of a double rainbow over the Baekdu Mountain in Japanese-occupied Korea.  Although the story of his birth is clearly hogwash, the national cult of personality established by his father, "Eternal President" Kim Il-Sung (d. 1994), allows for such embellishments, which ultimately enables the Russian-born "Dear Leader" to remain both an untouchable oppressor and the unquestioned head of the world's fourth-largest military.

Kim's disastrous policies as North Korea's despot-in-chief have resulted in one of the world's deadliest famines.  Despite his well-known craving for fine dining, millions of his fellow Koreans -- at least 10% of the population -- have succumbed to starvation over the past 15 years.  Only Mao and Josef Stalin have starved more people to death.  It is also reported that Kim Jong-il, to his considerable dismay, believes he will be replaced by a triplet.  Because each of his children were born individually, Kim has ordered all triplets in North Korea to be rounded up and raised in orphanages where the Stalinist dictator can keep a close eye on them.

Nuclear threats and pesky human rights violations notwithstanding, the 5'2" god-man also plays a mean game of golf.  The government-controlled media -- which ran headlines recently that proclaimed victory in the World Cup over the top-ranked Brazilians, 29-0 -- reports that Kim Jong-il routinely shoots at least three holes-in-one per round.  The odds of achieving but a single hole-in-one are approximately 1 in 5,000.  So either the propaganda machine is lying, or KJ-i is better than Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods combined.

In an unrelated, but equally grandiose story, I am a better guitarist than Steve Vai, Eddie Van Halen, Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi, Darrell Abbott, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Brian May, Randy Rhoads, Kirk Hammett, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Jeff Beck, Zakk Wylde, Vernon Reid and Duane Allman combined.

Yes, Kim Jong-il is going to burn in Hell one day.  The punishment his totalitarian regime has inflicted will last, most likely, for generations.  Yet we can hope that one of those triplets for whom Kim is inexplicably afraid will, by some act of God, rise to become the benevolent replacement North Koreans so desperately need.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Iconic Shot: The Gulf

(click to enlarge)
Despite warnings from platform workers and supervisors going back to March, the Deepwater Horizon oil drill rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico (28° 44.20' North 88° 23.23' West) at approximately 9:45 a.m. CST on Tuesday, April 20, 2010.  The well eventually sunk, causing not only the largest oil spill ever, but the most damaging environmental catastrophe in U.S. history.

Spewing upwards of 60,000 barrels (2.5 million gallons) for each of the past 64 days, this is what the shores of Orange Beach, Alabama -- a place I know well -- are beginning to look like at this very moment.

Monday, June 21, 2010

There's no crying in softball

Bellevue Baptist Church, a Memphis area megachurch with a membership somewhere around 30,000 people, has recently come under scrutiny for disallowing a lesbian softball coach and her team from participating in its league.

At the center of this contention is Jana Jacobson, who says she was told by Bellevue officials that "her 'deviant' lifestyle" was not in accordance with church doctrine, and because allowing Jacobson and her team to play could be considered a de facto endorsement of an alternative lifestyle that is clearly written about in the Old and New Testaments (not just Leviticus 18:22), Bellevue was essentially forced to take a stand that far too many in the Christian community lack the fortitude to make.

I know a little something about Bellevue.  I was an active member for 17 years, and at times I experienced a certain rigidness that went beyond Christ's example.  But I also know what the Word says.  Indeed I have written about the impasse between (authentic) Christianity and homosexuality before.  In essence, it is not our job to be cool.  It's our responsibility to be right about such matters, as Spurgeon reminded us repeatedly.

Being unpopular among the self-proclaimed tolerant comes with the territory.  Tangled confusion arises only when we yield to that against which we have been warned.  Only those who refuse to see the evidence directly in front of their faces will remain blind.  Hence when Bellevue speaks of a "deviant lifestyle," they are probably referring to something like this:

"West Hollywood (California), with a gay population of 41%, has been disproportionately affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic which has ravaged the gay male population since the early 1980s.  The city funds or subsidizes a vast array of services for those living with HIV or AIDS.  The AIDS Healthcare Foundation parks a Mobile HIV/STD testing van outside of the city’s busiest nightclubs on Friday and Saturday nights, and again on Sunday afternoons."
-- from various sources (1, 2, 3)

Stay strong Bellevue.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday's Quote: Wisdom

It's Father's Day.  But instead of having a post similar to the one I did for Mother's Day last month, I feel that sharing something else I've been pondering would be in order.

Human nature dictates that we tend to dislike truth.  Indeed militant opposition can seemingly arise out of thin air just for speaking it.  Still anyone who stands for truth is a champion of the proper cause.  Trouble arises most commonly when one uses that truth as a steppingstone to enforce an ulterior motive, and this, to our unmitigated detriment, has become our generally accepted state of affairs.  So let the antagonists say what they wish.  In the end their words are nothing but smoke, which is always the end result of throwing water on fire.

"He who learns must suffer.  Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, and against our will, comes wisdom by the awful grace of God."
-- Aeschylus (c. 525 BC-c. 456 BC), ancient Greek playwright and soldier

Friday, June 18, 2010

Iconic Shot(s): Dave, a nice sunset, & a "Million Dollar Quartet"

(click to enlarge)
Dave Matthews Band performs at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival last Sunday in Manchester, Tennessee.  Photo by Mark Humphrey

"Sunset at 10,000 feet"

"Memphis" won four Tony awards, including one for Best Musical, last Sunday.  So here's another piece of music history from the city of Memphis.

The above picture is the only known shot of an impromptu jam session that took place at Sun Studios in downtown Memphis between Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash.  Dubbed "The Million Dollar Quartet" by Memphis Press-Scimitar entertainment editor Bob Johnson, a comprehensively detailed story about the picture, including the identity of the woman in the shot (unknown for over 50 years) can be found here.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

On This Day in History: June 17

1631 – Mumtaz Mahal (born Arjumand Banu Bob) dies while giving birth to her fourteenth child.  Her husband, Emperor Shah Jahan I of the Mughal Empire, spends the next 23 years building a sarcophagus to commemorate his love for her in Agra, India.  The end result became known as the Taj Mahal.

1775 – Three months into the American Revolution, the Battle of Bunker Hill takes place in the Charlestown area of Boston, MA between the British Army and colonial militias from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.  Considered a Pyrrhic victory for England, a British officer after the battle was quoted, "We have ... learned one melancholy truth, which is, that the Americans, if they were equally well commanded, are full as good soldiers as ours."  The war itself would not be decided for eight years.

1885 – Given to the United States to represent the friendship established between America and France during the American Revolution, the Statue of Liberty arrives in New York Harbor.

1963 – The United States Supreme Court rules, 8-1, in Abington School District v. Schempp (consolidated with Murray v. Curlett), 374 U.S. 203 (1963), against allowing the recital of Bible verses and the Lord's Prayer in public schools.  It's been downhill ever since.

1972 – Five Republican White House operatives -- Virgilio González, Bernard Barker, James W. McCord, Jr., Eugenio Martínez, and Frank Sturgis -- are arrested for burglary in an attempt to illegally wiretap the offices of the Democratic National Committee.  The ensuing Watergate scandal ultimately resulted in President Richard Nixon's resignation two years later.

1994 – Following a nationally televised low-speed highway chase, O.J. Simpson (pictured) is arrested for the murders of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.  The resulting trial, often referred to as "the trial of the century," ended on October 3, 1995 with a not guilty verdict that was watched by over half the American populace.

A year and four months later, Simpson was found liable for the wrongful death of Ronald Goldman, and battery against Nicole Brown Simpson.  Although only a small portion of the $33.5 million judgment was ever collected, O.J. ended up in prison, nevertheless, for criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, assault, robbery, and using a deadly weapon in Las Vegas.  Found guilty exactly 13 years after his infamous not guilty verdict, Simpson was sentenced to 33 years in prison (with the possibility of parole in about nine years) and is now serving his sentence as inmate #1027820 at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Pershing County, Nevada.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A time for choosing (w/ apologies to our 40th President)

Early last Saturday morning, some time around 5:00 AM, I staggered into the Kroger at the corner of Sanderlin and Mendenhall (overshadowed by Clark Tower) after another glorious shift of getting drilled at the World Hub.  My habitual walk through the periodical aisle brought to my attention a book called "Saved By Her Enemy," which tells the story of an Iraqi Muslim woman who, in her attempt to avoid the Islamic insurgents trying to kidnap her, ultimately found herself embraced by the kind of Christian family in the American heartland she was taught to hate.  Score one for the good guys.
Pondering what non-extremists endure from their fellow believers reminded me of a post from last April about what Christians in Muslim-dominated countries face practically every day.  Similar to a recent story 60 Minutes did about Archbishop Bartholomew of Constantinople, another piece of mine from last March also told of the threats our brothers and sisters in Christ have experienced for centuries.

Jihadist provocations against Christians in the Nigerian town of Jos earlier this year is just one of many examples of how rhetoric about the world's two largest religions learning to coexist essentially crumbles beneath the opposing mechanisms that define the two faiths, all of which lends additional legitimacy to "Islam's 20-year plan" identified by Anis Shorrosh in 2003.

In the name of pragmatism, if nothing else, the purveyor of this blog asks anyone who reads this to consider the nations of the world in which Christianity flourishes.  Then consider the nations where Islam is prevalent.

More specifically, consider the Christian man who was raped and murdered in Pakistan last year for refusing to convert to Islam.  Think of the additional consequences non-converts face in Islamic-controlled societies.  Ponder how such an ideology is penetrating its way through our nation, and then ask yourself one question:

Where do I want to live?

Speak of "tolerance" if you like, but tolerance is rarely reciprocated on their side of the aisle.  Considering the peculiar sensitivities of Muslims, their open desire to implement Sharia law in the United States, and the historical trend of aggression in every society Islam has penetrated, the answer is self-evident if only you dare to be honest.

"Sons of Islam everywhere, the jihad is a duty - to establish the rule of Allah on earth and to liberate your countries and yourselves from America's domination and its Zionist allies, it is your battle - either victory or martyrdom."
-- Ahmed Yassin (1937-2004), founder of Hamas, an Islamic organization and political party known for using suicide bombings as a means to facilitate the destruction of Israel and their allies

To add, here's a piece from CBN News.  And for more, check out Jihad Watch and The Religion of Peace.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Clinging to legitimacy

Spawned of a race riot in Abraham Lincoln's hometown, the NAACP was once a relevant force for the Black community.  But they have struggled since the '90s, and now they have been reduced to this:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday's Quote: Victory

Reminiscent of Harvard's 29-29 "win" over Yale in 1968, a recent Twitter pic (left) of the New York Post tells the story of a World Cup point that our national team should feel fortunate to have thanks almost entirely to a flub that the English may never let Robert Green forget.  Here are some quotes about victory that expand on this, in one way or another:

"Any time the Western way of war can be unleashed on an enemy stupid enough to enter its arena, victory is assured."
-- Victor Davis Hanson, historian, essayist and senior fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University 

"Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid, one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory."
-- Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964), General of the Army of the United States and Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces during World War II 

"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."
-- Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), 26th President of the United States (R-NY) 

"Happiness is a byproduct of function, purpose, and conflict; those who seek happiness for itself seek victory without war."
-- William S. Burroughs (1914-1997), novelist and all-around artist

Saturday, June 12, 2010

From My Own Camera: Along the Mississippi River

(click to enlarge)
A view from Greenbelt Park, adjacent to Harbor Town, as a river barge approaches the Hernando de Soto Bridge, connecting Memphis to Arkansas.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Kicking off one of the few events that brings the world together (if only for a little while)

My initial foray into what we Americans call soccer came at a young age.  I played four seasons for a Memphis area youth squad, the Vikings, that was always competitive but never quite reached the top.  Being one of the few youngsters who could play any position (except goalie) saw a much younger version of me languish in the rear of a relatively obscure 3-3-1-3 formation, far from the brunt of the action in most cases (not as Johan Cruyff had intended) due to a yearly abundance of kids who could kick, but not defend.

Being a starting defender was preferable nevertheless to riding the bench with a bunch of scrubs who would rather be at home watching cartoons on Saturday morning anyway.  Yet Coach Taylor -- a retired Navy man whose intensity remains unmatched in my experience to this day -- believed my proclivity for "tackling" exceeded his need for my presence in the midfield, which I enjoyed playing the most, and where I had also proven useful.

I wore the black and gold proudly, just as I scorned that baby blue Cordova squad that always one-upped us.  And although my attention shifted to other sports as I grew older, per soccer's lack of national exposure until somewhat recently, I never lost complete interest in the one sport at which I excelled above all others.

Fast forward to an evening back in the early '90s when, flipping through the channels, I landed on a sports station that no longer exists.  From that I caught my first glimpse of Manchester United playing at Old Trafford, and my interest in what the rest of the world calls football (or, futbol) was instantly reborn.

Fast forward another decade or so.  The '02 FIFA World Cup, held throughout South Korea and Japan, further jogged my interest in "the beautiful game."  The U.S. team's quarterfinal loss to eventual runners-up Germany exceeded all American expectations via their tragic and inexcusable last place showing four years prior -- including an absurd 2-1 loss to Iran -- when the World Cup was played in France. 

Brian McBride definitely could have used some help.

Here in the States, we don't say "kit."  We say uniform.  We don't call it a "pitch."  We refer to it as a field.  Most of us don't know that an in-game appearance is called a "cap" by the rest of the world.  And no matter what, you will never hear Americans collectively refer to any team as a "side."  Yet interest in that other sport called football has grown, slowly but steadily, for over 15 years, and now could be the time for the world's lone remaining superpower to catch up with the rest of the world.  Yet our national team, led by Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey, has a tremendously challenging river to cross.  The contenders standing in the way are as follows:

The generally favored Spaniards are led by David Villa, Fernando Torres and Iker Casillas.  Five-time champion Brazil features Robinho, Kaká, and Luís Fabiano.  And the improved Portugal team is led by Cristiano Ronaldo and Simão Sabrosa. 

Italy, the four-time defending champions, have Daniele De Rossi, Andrea Pirlo and Alberto Gilardino.  The French, who some say are slumping, will hope Sidney Govou and Nicolas Anelka offer Thierry Henry the helps he needs if "Les Bleus" stand a chance to advance past the round of 16.

A possibly underrated Netherlands squad is loaded with a prolific bunch led by Mark van Bommel, Wesley Sneijder, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Rafael van der Vaart, Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.  (Believe me, the Flying Dutchmen are for real.)  Another team not to be overlooked is the three-time champion Germans, led by Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose and Mario Gómez.

Even without the injured David Beckham and Rio Ferdinand, the English remain stacked (WAGs notwithstanding) with John Terry, Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe, Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard, Joe Cole, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney.  Rounding out the list is the two-time champion Argentina.  Perhaps most noted for their head coach, the legendary Diego Maradona (cheater), the Argentinians will rely upon Javier Mascherano, Jonás Gutiérrez, Carlos Tévez and Lionel Messi to contend for a third crown.

The top two teams from each of the eight groups advance to the round of 16.  From that point, this is how I see things shaping up:

France def. Greece
England def. Australia
Netherlands def. Paraguay
Brazil def. Switzerland
Argentina def. Mexico
Germany def. America
Italy def. Cameroon
Spain def. Portugal

England def. France
Netherlands def. Brazil (upset alert)
Germany def. Argentina
Spain def. Italy

Netherlands def. England
Spain def. Germany

Netherlands def. Spain (upset alert) 

The Dutch will have possibly the toughest road of any side, but "Clockwork Orange" has the horses to get it done for their first World Cup title.

Kickoff for Game 1, the host nation South Africa vs. Mexico, gets started less than three hours from when this is being posted.  The time has come.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"Lamentable Birthday"

A few years ago I wrote a short story -- a jarring nonfiction, third person narrative -- about how I spent the evening of my 29th birthday.  I turn 34 on July 25 and little has changed, so I thought sharing this little piece of literature would be in order.


The long, unfriendly drive was not an unfamiliar one.  Adam had taken this beaten path before.  "This is not how I envisioned spending my 29th birthday."  It was a notion Adam was unable to escape.

The thought of returning yet again to perhaps the most undesirable of locales simply turned his stomach, for it would require volumes to adequately explain how the vestiges of south Memphis made for a plethora of nauseating experiences in the past.

Though he'd seen it before, Adam found himself staring in amazement as he drove by the vacant lot where a once-massive cathedral of capitalism formerly stood.  "That used to be the Mall of Memphis," Adam thought as he passed through the not-so-aptly named American Way.

Figures. Raleigh Springs is probably next.

A torrential down-pouring of finality set in as Adam approached Democrat Road.  He briefly considered his options, however few they might've been, but relented when he came to grips with the reality that there was no going back.

Perhaps I should have taken the bank's job offer after all.

Adam has held corporate-type jobs before, the most notable of which includes a 65-month stint with a Memphis-based financial institution that actually sold itself out twice before the name was finally wiped from atop their headquarters.  That's where his brazen distaste of south Memphis originally came to fruition.

The mere sight of Graceland now onsets a variety of flashbacks that compare to a corporate version of Vietnam, and it moreover supplied the basis for Adam's decision to not accept another bank position.

Surely I can do better.

It was that particular reckoning that repeatedly played in Adam's head as he sailed toward a relatively obscure setting that more closely resembled a prison than that of a work environment.

Adam parked his car behind a chainlink fence fronted by an apathetic-looking woman who apparently represented the company's finest in security enforcement.  It is doubtful she has ever done much of anything but stand in her upright box and wave people forward.

Our hero was instantly struck by the newness of his surroundings.  The area was abstruse, not at all confining; yet he couldn't help but to feel almost overwhelmingly besieged by his new set of circumstances.

Time to take my man pill.

Adam forced himself to board the shuttle designated to take the new hires to orientation.  He won't soon forget being packed in like cattle with such an over-abundance of morbidly obese individuals.

Adam eventually walked into a spacious room loaded with long faces.  It was obvious that no one was especially pleased to be present, but even more noticeable was the sense that everyone was in the same boat regardless of background, circumstances or financial standing.

The evening was filled with mostly vacuous objectives.  The long, drawn-out lectures and company produced videos (complete with only the finest in cheesy, synthesized background music) marked the beginning, middle and end of one trivial talking point after another.

Apparently many of the enigmatic rules and regulations are in place because of past employees who fabricated problems out of non-issues.  As a result employees aren't allowed to sport a piece of clothing that features a logo of any kind because someone -- an overzealous Yankees fan perhaps -- could end up offended by it.  I kid you not.

Interacting with his fellow new employees offered Adam a sense of just how unhinged our society is becoming.  Though Adam gravitated towards three guys named Justin, Kyle and Judson -- "The Country Crew" they called themselves -- one could argue that the sizable classroom encapsulated much of what our parents have been warning us about since childhood.

Adam also picked out more than a few people who had that unmistakable I've done some hard time in prison look, including one guy who must've been a registered sex offender.  Then there was Carl.

Carl was a tall, heavyset black man with cornrows. I say was because a single glance at his otherwise effeminate features could easily bring one to assume that gender reassignment surgery was just around the corner.  God help him.

The instructors didn't go so far as to tell the class that the work would be physically demanding, but Adam understood already that he could expect to end up exhausted after each and every night, which explains why 25% of new hires quit after the first week.

"So here I am," Adam thought.  "Guess college was just a big waste."  It was a defeatist perception, but Adam gets that way sometimes.  Especially when a permanent escape from south Memphis appears all but hopeless.

It's my birthday and I'll cry if I want to.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Real Music: Korn & Pink Floyd

Here's the original lineup of an outstanding group, among the heaviest of their genre', covering one of the best known songs from one of the great rock bands of all-time:

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunday's Quote: 140-character maximum

I often wondered about having my own Twitter feed, and now that I've had this virtual soapbox since mid-March, I understand it's appeal.  Aside from the first dozen or so Tweets that went missing (and never recovered), I have derived a list -- originally intended to be a top 10 -- of my 40 personal favorites:

1) "I'm not a vegetarian, but picking off an unsuspecting deer like a sniper does not appeal to me, nor would it make me feel more like a man."
-- May 6, 4:44 AM

2) "The FAA is about to fine FedEx $1.6 million.  My bad."
-- May 19, 1:11 PM

3) "Atheism doesn't seem nearly as plausible when your jetliner takes an unexpected nosedive at 37,000 feet."
-- April 18, 6:32 AM

4) "There's a difference between antiquated dogma and Truth.  The meaning of Good Friday is what separates Christianity from all the others."
-- April 2, 3:08 PM

5) "Does it feel like we are being conditioned to ignore the evidence directly in front of our faces per a fear of being falsely labeled?"
-- May 28, 3:12 AM

6) "Be not guilt-tripped into submission.  Ever."
-- May 31, 3:29 PM

7) "Hey China, how many illegals do you have?  I figured you were too busy oppressing political dissidents and the Tibetans to notice us."
-- May 17, 5:07 PM

8) "Black Conservatives are practically heroes to me.  They know what they believe, why they believe it, & and are prepared to defend it anytime."
-- April 6, 6:25 PM

9) "My first lesson in management came about eight years ago: When everyone says 'You can trust me,' it means you can't trust anyone."
-- May 22, 3:18 AM

10) "When a Leftist (Jon Stewart) says 'Go F yourself,' it's funny & cool.  If a Right Winger says the same thing, it's bigoted and mean-spirited."
-- April 21, 5:44 PM

11) "I've learned that you can't make a self-esteem omelet without breaking a few 'friendships' (no matter how good they may appear to be)."
-- May 13, 12:05 PM

12) "I'm assuming Fox News has a rule that says female anchors, unequivocally, must resemble Miss America contestants."
-- March 28, 1:37 PM

13) "As if The View wasn't mind-numbing enough, who told Joy Behar that having her own show would be a good idea?"
-- May 25, 6:15 PM

14) "Not to brag, but I am intelligent, passionate, and blessed with exquisite taste."
-- April 9, 5:15 AM

15) "Mexico doesn't hesitate to deport anyone who enters their country without proper ID... but America can't?  I'm really beside myself on this."
-- April 27, 8:22 PM

16) "Never yield to false labels."
-- May 10, 4:51 PM

17) "Actually Mr. President, a nation without borders is no nation at all.  So yes, we really are defined by our borders.  Stop with the rhetoric."
-- May 19, 11:12 AM

18) "'Jersey Shore' typifies everything I dislike, belittle, and strive to avoid.  Just sayin'."
-- March 29, 3:15 PM

19) "An Andy Warhol self-portrait (c. '86) sold three days ago for over $32.5 million.  That, my friends, is lunacy."
-- May 15, 5:24 PM

20) "Hey Rev. Al: 'Take our country back' is, indeed, code.  It means 'Socialism sucks.'  Implying a racial context is garbage."
-- March 29, 4:27 PM

21) "The Left is fixated with the mere idea of H.C. reform, and the Right is focused on its fiscal reality.  The difference is self-explanatory."
-- March 28, 7:14 PM

22) "Do kids today realize that the vast majority of the music their generation listens to is complete crap?"
-- April 1, 1:55 AM

23) "I hear that Aerosmith 'damn near' split up.  Maybe playing some real Rock 'n' Roll, instead of pop songs, would heal old wounds."
-- March 31, 4:07 AM

24) "So the Tea Party is worthy of every negative label, but La Raza's self-righteous incitement of sedition and revolution is just fine.  Wow."
-- May 12, 12:58 PM

25) "Portfolio.com ranks Memphis 64th (out of 67) for quality of life among metro areas with 750,000 or more.  Don't move here."
-- May 24, 11:03 AM

26) "'An Inconvenient Truth' mentioned threat of rising sea levels to U.S. beaches, which explains Gore's new purchase: a $9 million beach house."
-- May 7, 3:50 AM

27) "Opposition to Arizona's illegal immigrant law (SB 1070) crumbles when compared to Mexico's immigrant laws.  They're draconian & racist."
-- May 21, 5:44 PM

28) "So a guy in Missouri with no front teeth and less than $30 to his name won the $258 million Powerball lottery.  Life... is... not... fair."
-- April 23, 4:51 PM

29) "Evidently Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews don't realize that condescension & partisan hackery make them neither appealing nor believable."
-- May 10, 3:41 AM

30) "Fox News' Megyn Kelly is what we heterosexual males refer to as 'a total package.'  She really is dreamy."
-- April 1, 4:20 PM

31) "Must the Williams sisters dress like strippers for nearly every tennis tournament?"
-- May 23, 5:07 PM

32) "Someone tell Halle Berry to stop calling me.  Just because she's available now, it doesn't necessarily mean I'm interested.  Thanks anyway."
-- May 3, 5:47 AM

33) "Is it just me, or is Sarah Jessica Parker viciously unattractive?"
-- April 21, 3:31 PM

34) "Gabourey Sidibe was on SNL last night.  She reminds me of someone, but who?  Oh yeah, about 3,000 of my co-workers."
-- April 25, 2:48 PM

35) "Interesting how peaceful the Tea Parties are, and how rambunctious the pro-illegal alien rally in Arizona was.  A noticeable contrast indeed."
-- April 27, 6:59 PM

36) "Our financial conundrum is the result of both the GOP & the Dems disregard for our national welfare.  It's like they're doing it on purpose."
-- May 22, 3:51 PM

37) "According to The Daily Beast, my home State of Tennessee is the most corrupt in the nation.  But to be fair, most of that is Memphis' fault."
-- May 13, 3:50 AM

38) "I feel the same about the 'Right Wing' militia in Michigan as I feel about the Left Wing militia in Congress and the media."
-- March 30, 5:06 PM

39) "You might say the Tea Party has some clout.  Get used to it."
-- May 18, 7:25 PM

40) "As pennies become dollars, inches become miles.  That is how every journey begins... but where do I start?"
-- April 3, 3:46 AM

Saturday, June 5, 2010

On This Day in History: June 5

70 AD: Amid the first Jewish-Roman War, legions of the Roman Empire breach the middle wall of Jerusalem, conquering the city and sacking the Second Temple, which, according to traditional rabbinic literature, stood for 420 years.

1956: Elvis Presley sings "Hound Dog" on The Milton Berle Show in a performance best remembered for The King's suggestive hip movements which, at the time, was considered highly scandalous.

1968: Presidential candidate Senator Robert F. Kennedy (D-NY, pictured) is shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles by a Jordanian nationalist named Sirhan Sirhan.  RFK died the next day.

1977: Running at 1 MHz with 4 kB of RAM and an audio cassette interface for loading programs and storing data, the Apple II -- recognized as the first practical personal computer -- is made available to the public at a base price of $1,298.

1981: The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that five people in Los Angeles are infected with a rare form of pneumonia seen only in patients with severely weakened immune systems.  Initially referred to as "The Gay Plague" by Michael VerMeulen in the May 1982 issue of New York magazine, and later called gay pneumonia, gay cancer, and GRIDS (Gay-related immune deficiency syndrome), the five patients turn out to be the first recognized cases of AIDS.

"At this moment, one in four gay men in New York City is infected with HIV, an incurable disease that has infected more than 100,000 men in New York City, 20,000 of whom have no idea they have even been infected.  In the last six years, new diagnoses of the disease among gay men in New York City under the age of 30 rose by 33 percent.  Among gay males between the ages of 13 and 19, the rate of infection has doubled."
-- from "The Plague Returns," New York Press; October 3, 2007

Friday, June 4, 2010

Iconic Shot: The Dream Team

A picture that not even Charles Barkley could ruin

This team -- assembled for the '92 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain -- is simply the most overwhelming collection of talent in the history of international competition, with ten of the above-pictured listed among the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.

Each game commonly featured the opposing national team asking for pictures and autographs with their U.S. counterparts.  One story told of a player who broke down in tears because of the elation he felt over the honor of being fouled by his American idol, Michael Jordan.  In fact The Dream Team was so much better than the opposition, head coach Chuck Daly never felt the need to call a single timeout en route to the most dominating Olympic gold medal run ever.

Numerous squads have carried the moniker, but there is only one Dream Team.  They will always be the best.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Just Thinking Out Loud: Miley Cyrus

Youthful indiscretions notwithstanding, I can't help but to think that the young woman pictured above is on the verge of becoming yet another Christian who ends up compromised and seduced by the trappings of the entertainment industry.  It would be nice to see my fellow Tennessean become a well-balanced adult who clings to that which is most important.  But if history is any indicator -- from Britney all the way to Elvis -- the odds are clearly stacked against her.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Taking it one step too far (redux)

A recent post about the rash of Obama caricatures from the somewhat overzealous, albeit well-intentioned Right Wingers hellbent on seeing BHO and his party defeated in 2010 and 2012 was met with some unexpected criticism (via e-mail), as it seems my call to take the proverbial high road against even our harshest adversaries was swallowed by a kind of emotion that hasn't filled the heart of GOP adherents since the earliest days of the Clinton administration.

In all fairness, the Left's habitual low blows -- sometimes humorous, but often unnecessary and irrational -- helped to create this new wave of Conservative/Moderate/Libertarian activism that has yet to reach its peak.  And to demonstrate my point, the following is a caricature that, now, goes further to motivate than discourage:

To which I am compelled to reply...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

An open letter for those who send the dreaded "spam"

I look through my e-mail's junk folder whenever I need a good laugh, and you never disappoint.  The excessively cordial subject headers may succeed in rooking any number of unsuspecting souls into taking your ill-conceived bait, but I know better.

I've been royally ripped off by several of my closest friends over the years, so I believe it's fair to assume that some wealthy foreign dignitary cares nothing about sending me a check for thousands of dollars if only I first send him a check of my own "to get the ball rolling."

Additionally, I don't need to "discover secret methods" to get more women, nor do I need to "last longer" or make my already considerable package any more sizable than it already is.  Thanks anyway.

Burn in Hell,

Adam M. Woodford