Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"Jesus, I must be crazy to be in a loony-bin like this."

The air outside of Arrowhead Stadium was as cool and crisp as the frost on the Coors Light can that found its way out of the ice chest and into my hand at just after 9:30 a.m. The light breeze swept across the parking lot and waved the Oakland Raiders flag that I wore as a cape as we dropped the tailgate and fired up the grill. This is the most intense rivalry in professional football. Especially this year as the Chiefs and Raiders were battling for a playoff shot. We were in the minority. It was a sea of red and white with black and silver spots here and there. There was a tension in the air, but not a hostile one...yet. At this point, it was the tension of anticipation.

It was a great day for tailgate party, and a better day for football. After a hot dog and a few more Coors we stashed the cooler and grill in the back of the truck and headed into the stadium. The walk going in was pretty fun. There was a mix of cheers and jeers as our squad walked across the parking lot. A Chiefs fan had us line up to be a part of his new Facebook profile picture (the 13 of us in Raiders gear, some with painted faces and shoulder pads, lined up as the Chiefs fan gave us the double middle-finger). We entered the stadium and found our seats. Then began the descent into madness.

It didn't take long before plastic beer bottles were flying. I saw one soar through the air as it showered the people unfortunate enough to be seated below its flight path. I didn't see were it landed, but a thousand sets of angry eyes (mine included) searched for the idiot who launched it. The ushers tried to find the culprit and started grabbing at anyone wearing a Raiders jersey. After they took a couple of Raiders fans down for waterboarding and enhanced interrogation, I saw one of the best tackles I've ever seen at a pro football game. The funny part is that the tackle wasn't on the field, it was in the isle about 25 rows up in section 341. A Chiefs fan was walking down the isle (he had been talking trash or something) and a Raiders fan (not of my crew) took off down the stairs after him in order to throw down. The Raiders fan's friend ran after him to prevent him from starting the fight (he probably saved the whole section from a bloody close quarters war). Once he caught up to his friend he didn't grab him and tell him to cool it. He decided the best way to prevent an upper deck brawl and save his friend from injury and/or jail was to run full speed down the stairs and tackle him into the seats. If you've never been to an NFL stadium, the stairs are very, very steep. The tackle sent the target flying across two or three rows of seating. Arguably the best hit of the day.

The game went into overtime. The Raiders won the coin-toss, took the kick-off, marched down the field, and Sebastian Janikowski kicked the game winning field goal.

The two dozen Raiders fans in our section celebrated wildly as the Chiefs fans marched to the gates on a trail of tears. We carried our celebration down the spiraling ramps to the exit of the stadium. I wasn't quite prepared for stepping out of Arrowhead Stadium and into Dante's Inferno. A Raiders fan that was way too high/drunk/insane was getting screamed at by a group of Chiefs fans as a lone cop was trying to prod them into moving on. Another Raiders fan was down on one knee dry heaving as his friends stood around him laughing and taking pictures on their iPhones. A Chiefs fan was wiping the blood from a fresh cut over his left eye while he accused his friend of being a Judas and not having his back. The police were everywhere, but they didn't care if you were taking a dump on the hood of someone's car. It was one of the few days that uniformed officers were actively preventing murder after murder. As we crossed the parking lot, I saw two young officers escorting a handcuffed drunk towards one of the U-Hauls that the KCPD rented to ensure that they had enough vehicle room to haul the violent offenders off to county jail. The Chiefs fans that dotted the parking lot were peeing everywhere and on everything. The puddles of urine looked like Oklahoma farm ponds compared to the Great Lakes of pepper spray that had rained off the face of someone too drunk or high to have listened to the reason of the Law. Golf carts carried 5 or 6 cops at a time to break up fights, or to arrest the survivor.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

"Pro football is like nuclear warfare. There are no winners, only survivors."-Frank Gifford

I have just finished packing my bag for the trip to Kansas City and the legendary Arrowhead Stadium. I also updated my will just in case the Oakland Raiders beat the Chiefs. I am going to the game with some of the most hardcore Raiders fans outside of the bay area. Which means that for me it is not the usual "enjoy the game because I like football" type of atmosphere. There is a line carved into the concrete between these two rival teams and it is choose a side time. And when the Raiders win, I will be on the side of my friends when the Big Fight breaks out and skulls become landing zones for bricks and old mufflers. Wearing a Raiders jersey in Arrowhead is the equivalent to walking into someone's home and taking a shit on the floor, laughing about it, then using the homeowner's face to smear it into the carpet. A sane human mind doesn't do that and not expect a world-class ass kicking followed by chemical castration to come your way. Now...were'd I put that riot helmet and gas mask?   

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall

I've had this little tradition that until now I've never shared. I'm not sure why I haven't, or why I feel like I should share it now, but here it is:

Sometimes, when I'm writing and may be having trouble finding that rhythm that lets the words flow through my fingers and punch the key that needs to be punched, I put my shot glass and/or or beer glass in front of my Fostex monitors and let Bob Dylan's music seep through it. Like the sugar cube resting on the Absinthe spoon, it gets doused in some strange music that doesn't translate to the human ear. It gets covered in a fuel that doesn't ignite with an earthly spark. Once it bonds to the blood, that door is kicked down and the words and rhythm come with little effort.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Governor or: The Copulation of State and Church

I had just finished my plate of scrambled eggs, tomatoes, sausage and toast when Governor Mary Fallin entered the restaurant. I watched as she was mobbed by churched-up conservatives who believe President Obama is a Muslim Socialist sent by Satan to destroy Jesus and Marriage.
“Don’t pity her,” I thought. “This is what she lives for.”
I watched as she posed for pictures with bratty looking kids with spiked hair. They had no idea why their parents forced them to stand next to this strange blonde woman who smiled as her lobotomy eyes glared into the camera. A hunchbacked grandmother with white cotton hair rolled her quadriplegic granddaughter to the governor. The grandmother held back tears as she begged the governor to help her crippled granddaughter. The governor smiled and sent her aide to retrieve a long white robe and a ceremonial brass bowl from the trunk of the limo. She changed into her robe and poured water from a Mason jar with the word “Holy” written on the side in black permanent marker into the bowl. The aide kneeled on all fours as the governor placed the brass bowl on the aide’s back. The governor raised her hand and the chattering of the dining area instantly ceased. The only thing that moved the air was the sound of Interstate 40 vibrating off the glass windows. The governor mumbled “Ab amicis honesta petamus,” a Latin phrase she learned from She then sprinkled a few drops of water on the child who sat helpless in her wheelchair. The grandmother wept as the governor touched the child’s forehead. Suddenly, the child’s right arm began to twitch as if it were about to be released from the grip of paralysis. But it was only a malfunctioning nerve.
“Well shit!” exclaimed the Governor, kicking her aide and sending the brass bowl crashing against the wall. “I really thought it would work that time.”     

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The World's Level of Insanity Just Dropped a Notch or Two...

The Iraq War ended again Or, more accurately, will end again. This time the president didn't land a Lockheed S-3 on the USS Abe Lincoln. There was no "Mission Accomplished" banner hanging in the background while he dipped his Cohiba in a fine Port and propped his feet up on the head of one of those Saddam statues that had been ripped down by an M1 Abrams.

This time there was a speech that simply said the troops will be home by the end of the year. No mention of the failure to reach an agreement concerning troops staying in Iraq. We did all the heavy lifting and now it's time to call it a day. Turkey and Iran will stomp down hard on the Kurds then shift their focus into carving up the rest of Iraq. And in the next 15-20 years, we will be back over there killing and being killed over another Big Nothing. I'm a bit conflicted over how to feel about all this. I remember watching Colin Powell make a fool of himself in front of the UN. It was supposed to be the "Boo-Ya!" moment of our time. The equivalent to the Adlai Stevenson address to the UN during the Cuban Missle Crisis (one of my all-time favorite moments in history). Instead of giving clear cut proof, Powell presented some pictures of trucks in a desert. They could easily have been a semi full of oranges parked in Barstow. Skepticism filled me in at that moment and it never left. I'm for war under the right circumstances, but if your reason's aren't even clear to yourself... But for now let's try to enjoy the fact that a soldier's family can rest a little easier in the coming months.

Qaddafi. I awoke the other morning, turned on my laptop and saw the "Breaking News" banner next to a picture of Ole' Moammar. The initial reports of his capture gave me a strange sense of excitement. I was already looking forward to his trial when moments later "capture" turned to "killed." The ideal scenario was not to be. The man said he would die in Libya. A dictator to his own fate.

It would have been nice to march him in front of the Human Rights court, but in reality Libya would hand him a death sentence and nobody would bark about it. A lot of people on TV were wondering why he was killed. They seem to forget that this is an armed revolution of the people. These fighters aren't trained military. When this fight started most of them didn't even have guns. Now everyone is worried about the country falling into a civil war. I think that's unlikely. A number of the NTC higher-ups are members of the parlimentary government that Qaddafi allowed to operate to ease the fears of the West so they would do business with Libya. They wanted a voice and Qaddafi needed a smokescreen. There is already talk of votes in the summer. Sec. Clinton is offering the almighty aid dollars to help rebuild. An interesting stat I learned yesterday: NATO bombers (mainly French and British) dropped so many bombs during this intervention they ran out and had to buy some from the US stockpile. I don't know if the income from that is calculated into the news reports about how much the US spent on pounding Moammar into submission, but it is an interesting point. Even though we are active in two wars of our own (Iraq and Afghanistan. Not to mention "operations" in Pakistan, Somalia, etc.), we still have enough bombs to go around.   

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Observer of Culture: A Discussion with Rabih Alameddine

            It is a cool, evening in Norman, Oklahoma, and Rabih Alameddine, author of Koolaids:The Art of War, I, the Divine, The Perv and The Hawkawati, lights a cigarette. Alameddine is Lebanese, but he spends the majority of the year in his home in San Francisco, California. “Do you travel to Beirut often?” I ask. “I spend about four months out of the year there,” he answers as he flicks the ash from his cigarette. I comment on the ongoing unrest in Syria and ask about the effects it has on his home country. Alameddine explains some of the differences between Syria and Lebanon, neighboring countries who have different perspectives on the way they interact with the West.“[Syria] hasn’t been as developed. In Lebanon they, sort of, destroyed everything to build skyscrapers.” Alameddine says.
            This is one of Lebanon’s complexities that appear in Alameddine’s writings when he references a label Beirut has come to be known by: the “Paris of the Middle East”. It is one of the Middle East cities that welcomes and embraces Western culture. Adding to the mix in cultures is the diversity in the religious communities found in Beirut. Sunni, Shia, Jew, Druze, Protestant, and various sects of Catholicism are present. I ask Alameddine if his book reflects the real Beirut, and if he feels that his American audience tends to see him as the sovereign voice of Middle Eastern literature.
            “Even if you read my book, you’ll get a different side, but you still won’t know.” He pauses to take another drag from his smoke. “Whenever you get something outside of the dominant culture, say American Indian, a lot of people will read one book and think, ‘Oh. Now I understand!’ But nobody would, say, read John Updike and go ‘Oh! I know America now!’ For anything outside of the dominant culture the assumption is the writer carries everything.”
            Alameddine encounters this assumption fairly regularly. It is one of the quirks we Americans have come to practice when dealing with non-dominant cultures. “I went on NPR, I swear to God, for an hour the questions were all about Islam. And you know finally I had to say ‘Do you guys know that I am not a Muslim? I can answer these questions to the best of my ability…When I go to a festival nobody ever asks me ‘How do you write?’ it’s always ‘Do you think there will be peace in the Middle East?’ Hell if I know!”
            There is some benefit to be had by being a cultural outsider. It allows one to observe cultural elements in ways that those inside the culture may not have the ability, or luxury, of doing. “There’s something wonderful about watching another culture from the outside.” says Alameddine, “As an outsider you can also be a good observer of American culture…of what I would call the dominant culture. There’s a lot of non-dominant cultures in the United States, but there is one dominant culture.”
            This idea of observing something like culture from an outsider’s perspective does not necessarily mean that you have to be totally detached from the subject. Alameddine is well aware of this and the role it plays in his writings. “You cannot write about something if you’re totally enmeshed in it, and you can’t write about something if you are totally distant from it. It’s finding the right balance. How far can you pull out without being too distant, but if you’re totally in it, you can’t see it.” remarks Alameddine.
            Alameddine’s novel Koolaids: The Art of War presents stories revolving around the AIDS pandemic and the Lebanese Civil War in a fragmented and non-linear format similar to Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five. “When you write these stories,” I ask, “do you start out and finish a whole story, or do you take a story to a certain point and start the next one?” Alameddine responds, “With Koolaids I did. But, also, Koolaids was just a run on thing I did very quickly, but I had been building up for it for a long, long, long time. So the stories were in my head and I just sat down and [wrote them]…I think non-linearly, but I write linearly, so it comes out linearly, but I usually start at the beginning and end at the end. With the later book [The Hawkawati] I actually moved things around a lot, with Koolaids I didn’t, and sometimes I think I should have.” The first thing I noticed when I read Koolaids was the way Alameddine plays with time the way Vonnegut does in Slaughterhouse-Five. “The important thing about Slaughterhouse-Five that’s also similar to Koolaids in some ways,” says the author as he stomps out the remaining ember of his cigarette, “is it’s not just non-linear and fragmented, it’s repetition…it goes like a sort of constant cycle…Nietzche said something about ‘eternal return’ what [has] happened will happen again.” It will be interesting to see what stories this observer of cultures will share next.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The 2011 Neustadt Festival (part one)

What an incredible week! I attended the Neustadt Festival at the University of Oklahoma for the first time.

The festival is held annually. Depending on the year, the award of the Neustadt Prize for Children's Literature or the Nuestadt International Prize for Literature is announced. (More Info Here)

It began Tuesday night at the Norman Depot with readings by Oklahoma authors. Nathan Brown hosted the event with Dorothy Alexander, Joey Brown, Ken Hada, Carol Hamilton and Benjamin Myers. They took turns sharing their favorite poem (by an author other than themselves) before reading from their own works. There was time for a brief question and answer session with the panel afterwards.

Myself and the rest of the Neustadt class had the privilege of sharing an evening with the jurors of the 2012 Neustadt prize.

The 2012 jury was made up of these authors:
Rabih Alameddine
Gabeba Baderoon
Norma Cantu
Andrea De Carlo
Nathalie Handal
Ilya Kaminsky
Yahia Lababidi
Miguel Syjuco
Samrat Upadhyay

That evening I had the opportunity to have a great discussion with Rabih, who is originally from Lebanon but splits his time between San Fransisco and Beirut, about his novels, the Arab Spring, stereotypes that we Americans see the world through, Obama and the Palestinian struggle. I will blog more on this soon.

As Rabih and I began to talk more on these topics, other jurors were thrust into the Rabih. Yahia, Gabeba, Nathalie, Rabih and I had a few moments of conversation before the evening had to end, but it was a powerful conversation.

It is in moments like these, in the exchange of ideas, in the exchange of thoughts and opinions and the willingness and desire to listen, these moments help us to look beyond the difference in race, or nationality, or religion, or politics and helps to remind us that our commonalities are far more important than our differences.

In the next episode:
The jurors read their works.
More discussion with Yahia and Rabih.
An afternoon with Miguel Syjuco.
The Banquet and Virginia Euwer Wulff accepts the 2011 award for Children's Lit.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Michele Bachmann and The Art of Dodging Questions (And "Why I Kinda Like Ron Paul")

It's been awhile since I've posted for at least three reasons.

1. Events in Libya have developed quickly. (I have a ton to catch up on there and will devote my next post to this.)

2. I've been busy. On top of my standard classes I have been awarded a fellowship to study several contemporary writers from around the globe and will have the chance to meet and interview them in a few weeks. That's on top of the papers and readings I have to keep up with.

3. The presidential campaign hasn't really changed much since it kicked off with the first GOP debate. (I'm becoming a bit of a fan of Ron Paul mainly because of that debate. I'm not entirely sold that he can win the nomination.)

This morning though, I wanted to talk a bit  about Michele Bachmann's comments over the past week and specifically about her appearance on Face the Nation today.

In case you missed it, she "joked" about God sending a message to politicians to "listen to the American people." (See an article with video on that here.)

Here's my issue with that comment (I don't want to go too deep in Biblical discussion). If you are a Christian, I assume that you believe the Bible to be a record of God's deeds. There are cases in the Bible that show God using natural forces to make a point. Here's the difference Michele: In those cases, God had messengers (Moses, Noah, angels, Prophets, etc) that would warn those intended recipients of God's coming wrath and why it was coming. If God wants to help people he doesn't need a politician to do his work.

Jesus never ran for President.

The other problem is that Hurrican Irene and the East Coast Earthquake didn't really target just politicians. They hit everyone indiscriminately.

So this morning, after someone probably pointed this out to the candidate, she dismissed it as a joke. Which is fine. I tell jokes and not every one of them are received the way I intend.

What really bugged me is the way she ducked Bob Schieffer's simple question.

From Huff Post:

Schieffer asked Bachmann whether she believes "God uses weather to send people messages."
"I believe in God. I'm not ashamed to say that I believe in God. I'm a woman of faith and a woman of prayer, but the comment that I made right then was a metaphor. That was very simply what I was doing," Bachmann replied.

It's times like this that I wish there was a news program that would not try to cram so much into a one-hour format. I would have liked to see ole droop-eyed Shieffer dig in a little bit and make her give a simple answer to a simple question. In the long run it's not a big deal. Or maybe it is? Is America ready to go back to the days of having a leader that travels the world with his/her foot in her mouth?

It might help Saturday Night Live be funny again.

It might have been a joke, but when Kramer started dropping N-Bombs to a comedy club full of black people the joke didn't fly that well. At this point I don't think Bachmann can make the cut, but there is plenty of time to change my mind.

A brief word on Ron Paul.

I kinda like him based on this one thing. His apparent knowledge of the Foriegn Policy blunders this counrty has put into action over the last century or so. In my opinion, one of the reasons the rest of the world hates America is not because we love freedom and liberty and that kind of stuff. It's because every other part of the world is centuries older than us. They have long histories that they know. American's can't remember things that happened ten years ago. We can't understand why Iran can't get over the fact that the U.S. overthrew their government in the 1950's and put in a puppet monarchy.

Ron Paul sees this. He addressed it in the first GOP debate and made Rick Santorum so mad that he looked like he would fly accross the stage and stab old Ronny Boy to death with the dull end of a microphone. I will talk more in this later.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Back to School...

I will be starting my junior year at the University of Oklahoma next week. I'm mostly ready. All I have left to do is purchase my books and find a part time job. My major is English: Literary and Cultural Studies. I will be pursuing a minor in History and possibly a minor in Native American Studies. So, I'm looking forward to getting back into the mix.

For those of you that care to know I am enrolled in:

Modern Spain
Intro to Critical Reading and Writing
Intellectual History of 19th Century Europe

So, that's whats happening.

Until next time.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Stealing, but not the good kind.

This morning I was feeling good. I finally got a good nights sleep. I'm usually a pretty light sleeper. When I have a good sleep rhythm going, I might get up once in the middle of the night and check on things outside. Just to keep an eye on the neighborhood. I don't live in a bad neighborhood, but since I moved in a couple of years ago there have been a couple of instances where some neighbors had some things stolen. Over the past week or so my sleep hasn't been great. A couple of nights I would sleep 3 or 4 hours in the early morning and be back up by 8 or 9 o'clock.

But last night I was lights out by 2ish and slept like a log. And that's when the thief made his (or her) move.

I have an old car I've named "The Blue Whale" that I keep around for days when I may have car trouble or if I have to put my daily driver in for repairs. The Whale is just an old Grand Marquis, but it serves it's purpose and is reliable when needed.

So this morning, I walk out and the driver's door is wide open.
"That's not right," I thought.
So I went inside, opened the gun safe and removed the .357 that I keep loaded for "when the shit hits the fan" type of scenarios. I slipped it into my pocket and approached the car with caution, just in case a deranged meth freak was in there.

All that was stolen was the factory radio/tape deck. I walked around the house to make sure my lawn tractor, canoe and push mower were still locked up under the car port. They were. I checked my shed to make sure it was still locked. It was. I opened the storm cellar door to make sure my camping gear and emergency supplies were accounted for. They were. Then I called the police and filed a report.

As I went about my business today, I was thinking about the nature of stealing. Why would someone want to steal a radio of no value? Had I caught the thief, he very likely would have sustained a trip to the hospital before jail. Why risk it?

Then I thought about how as a musician and writer, there have been times that I have "stolen" things. Maybe a technique or idea that helps me better understand my craft.

What I'm saying is that even an act that reeks of negativity, like stealing, isn't always black and white. There's a gray area where stealing, can actually help us. The duality of stealing is summed up by this quote:

"All stealing is comparative. If you come to absolutes, pray who does not steal?"-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Debt and Poetry

I read a poem earlier today that I thought reflected a lot of the fears that people felt about the "Debt Crisis" and thought I would share a few bits from it. It's a poem titled "America Was Promises" by Archibald Macleish and can be found in its entirety HERE. So here are a few lines that I thought sounded very good after hearing a few worried senior citizens converse about the future of social security and Medicare. It starts:

Who is the voyager in these leaves?
Who is the traveler in this journey
deciphers the revolving night: receives
The signal from the light returning?

America was promises to whom?

                                                   East were the
Dead kings and the remembered sepulchres:
West was the grass.
                               The groves of the oaks were at evening.

Eastward are the nights where we have slept.

And we move on: we move down:
With the first light we push forward:
We descend from the past as a wandering people from the mountains.

(It goes on...)

America was promises-to whom?

Jefferson knew:
Declared it before God and before history:

(...he delves into a rambling yet insightful flow that glues me to the music of the words)

And the Aristocracy of politic selfishness
Bought the land up: bought the towns: the sites:
The goods: the government: the people. Bled them.
Sold them. Kept the profit. Lost itself.

(down a bit...)

The Aristocracy of Wealth and Talents
Turned its talents into wealth and lost them.
Turned enlightened selfishness to wealth.
Turned self-intrest into bankbooks: balanced them.


The Aristocracy of Wealth and Talents
Moved out: settled on the Continent:
Sat beside the water at Rapallo:
Died in a rent house: unwept: unhonored.

(and the last passage I really like)

We do not ask for Truth now from John Adams.
We do not ask for Tongues from Thomas Jefferson.
We do not ask for Justice from Tom Paine.
We ask for answers.

And there is an answer.

There is Spain Austria Poland China Bohemia.
There are dead men in the pits in all those countries.
Their mouths are silent but they speak. They say
"The promises are theirs who take them."

I spoke for a while with an older lady this evening and we both shared stories that told me we have nothing to worry about if the US can't reach an agreement on the debt. Humans are humans. We have been through worse and will be through worse. We will continue to eat food, drink water and breathe air.

I think something will work out so that all this fear is eased. If something isn't done, there will be many riots and people jumping off the Golden Gate so fast that it will look like a wall of concrete being poured into the Bay. That won't happen. No responsible head of a government would let a tragedy occur on their watch...right?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Norway: The Other End of the Extremism Spectrum

In the wake of the attacks in Norway there was much speculation as to who would carry out something so brutal and senseless. Of course the usual list of suspects came up in conversations. In a document generated by STRATFORentitled "What the Norway Attack Could Mean for Europe" (22 July 2011) the scenarios included the usual suspects. Jihadist groups based in Europe, far-right or neo-Nazis based in Norway, or even a retaliation sponsored or carried out by Libya.

The scenario that is closest to the facts (and, so far, looks to hit the nail mostly on the head) was limited to these few lines:

"There is also the possibility that the attacks are the work of a skilled but disturbed individual with grievances against the Labor Party. This possibility would have few long-ranging repercussions beyond a reworking of domestic security procedures in Norway."

We live in times where it pays to keep your head on a swivel. Unfortunately, it seems that too often we get tunnel vision looking out on the horizon and forget to glimpse over our own shoulder from time to time. Our world seems to get more and more polarized every day. These polarizations, compounded with fear, lure irrational people out of the dark.

The headlines have been calling this "Norway's 'Oklahoma City.'" I think it looks more like a combination of Oklahoma City and Tuscon.

The worst part is that this guy in Norway thinks that this is justified. That he is saving Norway from the spread of Islam. I think we would all agree that there are better ways to enact change on your society than by taking innocent lives.

Back to my point. The point is that the threat of violence doesn't always come from the usual suspect. It isn't always a jihadist with a suicide vest. It's not always a tattooed up neo-Nazi. Sometimes it's the blonde guy with a sick mind and some guns. The "Lone Wolf" style terrorists are the hardest to defend against.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A nice thought about writers...

"We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master."
-Ernest Hemingway

Monday, July 18, 2011

"Connie!! You Know Where the Bathroom Is!!!"

So, I returned from a trip from Colorado this morning carrying a Holy Fire in my guts. It was a late night with a nearly full moon when a glowing Spirit emerged from the cold river. She ascended the river bank with a message for the Chosen Few that sat starring at the campfire in the rain.

"Go forth!" she said with a voice that sounded like a mix between a Didgeridoo and a chain smoking goose that had been clipped by a speeding Fed Ex truck, "You chosen few shall embark on the task of bringing back the curtsey!"

It was an epic trip. The camping was awesome. The fishing was great. The friendships that have been solidified will be long lasting. I would recommend a trip like this to anyone looking to take a break from the 9-5. Like Hamid Karzai.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Texas versus The TSA

TSA pat downs are still making the news and a discussion I had today made me think about how ignorant people can be about the things that help ensure our safety.

History has shown us that a commercial airliner can be valuable in many different ways. It can be hijacked and ransomed. It can be used as a means of escape for a criminal or terrorist. It can be used as a deadly weapon. It should be a no-brainer that if an aircraft has been used in these capacities it would be wise to defend that aircraft from evil people posing as common passengers. I don't think the TSA should focus solely on people who may look like the stereotypical Islamic extremist. Evil is not limited to a religious sect or ethnicity, and someone looking to do harm is usually smart enough to try to blend in with those he/she is targeting. 

So, here is the fear that creeps into my head everytime I head to the airport. Anyone who has flown knows that standing in the cattle line waiting to go through security is the biggest barrier to getting a beer before boarding. It is also an easy target for people looking to harm others.

This is why I feel that as long as TSA agents aren't brutally raping people as they pass through the checkpoint we should suck it up and realize that a few seconds of discomfort is far better than the possible alternatives. I could accept an engine problem sending my flight nose first into a sewage lagoon, but I could not accept my life being in the hands of a terrorist or criminal because we didn't want to make someone uncomfortable.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer in Oklahoma...

makes you realize that 86 degrees at 11:15 p.m. isn't always a bad thing.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Wedding at the Edge of Insanity, North Carolina.

Wednesday May 25, 2011-
7:45 A.M.- I woke up, finished packing my duffel bag, cleaned my Bersa Thunder, drank a cup of Earl Grey tea and watched the news talk about the previous day's tornado outbreak.

8:10: I checked my course from Tecumseh, Oklahoma to Insanity, North Carolina (somewhere in the central part of the state) on Yahoo! Maps. My final destination was a few miles before that, near the town of Catwba. First, I had to switch cars in Dallas, Texas.

8:30: Threw the bags in the car. Stopped at the Kwick Stop and bought a bottle of water and a bag of sunflower seeds. The mouth has a tendency to get a bit dry when one conquers a long drive with the help of various stimulants.

9:00 A.M. Wednesday-4:30 A.M Thursday: Driving. Made it to Oxford, Alabama before fatigue became too much to battle.

8:45 A.M. Thursday: Back on the road. Drove through Atlanta, Greenville, Gastonia.

Sometime early evening Thursday. Arrived at destination.

Friday 8 A.M.: Left to pick up wedding partiers at airport in Greenvile, then back to the rally point for a few hours.

Late Afternoon: Drove to a rendevous 20 miles from the North Carolina-Virgina line to swap cars and pick up another passenger, then back to the house at midnight.

Mid Night-4:30 A.M. Saturday: Moments of masculine bonding, pissing of women, shots, beers, shots, more pissed off women, acts of unintetional violence, shots.

6:30-8:00: Strange conversations that ranged from God, to politics, to 9/11 conspiracy theories, to The John Birch Society...Oh and something about how marriage is great and every man who is worth a damn should be married.

8:30 A.M.: The Marriage Pusher's wife discovers that he's been up all night and sets off what I call "Slaptober Fest 2011"   

8:34 A.M.: As a nearly full whiskey bottle misses a skull by inches, I decide to give these two some privacy and take a morning stroll down to the lake.

The rest of the day is typical wedding stuff. The kind of tension and insanity that would make you rather smother yourself in Jet-A and jump through a flaming hoop.

Party begins: Shots, beers, shots, beers, pissed off women, more shots, beers, Tatratea, pissed of men, shots beers, fun, fun, fun, pissed of kids, beers, fun, I think someone wrecked a car, drunk white guy says racial slur,beer, shots...

There is so much more, but in the intrest of the Fifth Amendment I will share those with friends on a one-by-one basis.

It was a great trip, but I still can't figure out why the plane didn't crash on my flight home. Maybe the Cosmos is waiting for my sins to pile up and hash it all out at once?

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Mostly Awesome Weekend of Sports

Animal Kingdom pulls off an upset at the Kentucky Derby. Manny Pacquiao defeats Shane Mosely in Las Vegas. The Lakers put together one of the ugliest collapses in NBA history. Al Qaeda hasn't blown anything up yet. It's been a decent week, except for one thing.

The Oklahoma City Thunder. I've been slowly converting to a Thunder fan. I do enjoy watching them play basketball. They are one of the most exciting teams in the NBA right now. I've always been a Detroit Pistons fan. When I was a kid Isiah Thomas was my favorite player (besides Jordan) and I learned the importance of rebounding by watching Dennis Rodman. So of the pro sports teams I've claimed to be a fan of throughout my life, the Pistons are among the oldest. The majority of the Thunder games I've attended have been when the Pistons are in town.  

But times change and I've been trying not to follow the Pistons for two reasons:

1) They are in a painfully slow "rebuilding" phase. Most of the guys I watched win a ring only a few years ago are gone. The ones that are still there are little more than mentors to the new kids. Rasheed Wallace retired, Chauncy Billups is doing great with his new team. So it's hard for me to rally behind a new team that is trying to find its game.

2) To get to a point where I can call myself a true Thunder fan. I've talked to a lot of people that only started to pay attention to the NBA because of the Thunder. I can see why it's easier for them to jump on the band wagon without guilt. A few years back when the Pistons played the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets I joked with some "Hornets" fans about who to cheer for. They were ripping me for cheering for the Pistons (who were having a great season) and accused me of being a band wagon jumper. I laughed and told them to "talk to me when Oklahoma City gets their own team."

I guess now that we have our own team, and we're in the playoffs, it's time to jump that band wagon.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Geraldo Might As Well Go To Pakistan And Burn A Pic Of Muhammad

  Osama Bin Laden is dead now. And what does that mean for us? Yes, I think it is a victory. But it doesn't mean the War is over. The death of Bin Laden means we are in the crosshairs more than ever. And having Geraldo romp around D.C. touting it as "Mardi Gras" doesn't help our chances of dodging internet beheadings. My uneducated guess is that Al Qaeda in The Islamic Maghreb will strike a major target by the end of the week. This victory will be short lived.

  I feel bad seeing people pour into Times Square and the streets of D.C. acting like this is a great day. This is not the end of the war. This is no measure of justice. This is not the "book end" of a chapter in American History. This is the end of Chapter One.The end is yet to come.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Side Show Status

  As I was struggling to wake up this morning, a very interesting press conference interrupted the usual Today Show banter about Royal Weddings or You Tube videos. President Obama stepped to the podium to let the world know that he was born in Hawaii (one of the United States of America). I'm sure Trump will take credit for this. Either way he's still a "side show", but even I find a good side show entertaining.

  That's all fine and good, but I was more pleased to hear the Prez say what I've been yelling at my television for I don't know how long. With all the issues going on in the world right now, why does the American media get so caught up in trivial things? If I want to see a You Tube video of a baby laughing, I will go to You Tube and type that into the search bar. I don't care about the proper way to have tea with the Queen of England. I want to know if there's a credible threat to my safety roaming the streets. I want to know why ten dollars in gas is just enough to get from the gas station to home. Is anyone doing anything to try to change that? Is there hope? And if not? Fine. At least give me a heads up instead of pushing The Royal Wedding in my face every morning for the past two months for hours on end.

  I get tired of having to read the real news scroll across the bottom of the screen.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Playing Politics and Picking Battles

  Something happened today that is not a big deal, but did make me think about the power of writing and the sacrifice that writers are sometimes asked to make.

  I submitted a work of fiction (that was based on something that actually happened and used that person's name) for a symposium that I will be presenting at in a couple of weeks. This symposium is the first one at this particular venue and the staff hopes to receive funding for it in the future. The person I name in this fiction is someone who has the power to add to those funds.

  I was asked to submit something else to read at this event. To me that's no big deal. I knew when I wrote that piece that it would be controversial to some people. I knew that it would have an audience that could see it for what it is and an audience that couldn't look past the surface to see the real meaning.

  There are times in life when we have to play politics for the greater good. I don't see this as sensoring. They said they would gladly display it for others to read. There is a time to be hard headed and a time to play the game. This goes for just about any situation in life. Business, school or family. We have to pick our battles. Hopefully, in the future this thing will be big enough to stand on it's own and some young punk kid that wrote something about how Obama is the worst president since Richard Nixon will be able to read that to an audience.

Monday, April 4, 2011

March Madness and the Dream for a College Football Playoff

  My NCAA bracket has taken the stomping of a lifetime this year. As I anticipate tonight's game, I can't help but think about how great this tournament has been. Any number of games would have had a different outcome if one shot had been hit or missed. I remember all the analysts talking about who they thought would win and why. And I've become a fan of Charles Barkley bringing those analysts down a notch or two. If anyone knew who would be national champs before the tournament started then we should've carved out the trophy and given it to them right off the bat.

  I know the idea of a playoff in College Football is nothing new, but I think that it could be done. I think that it should be done. I also think that it could be done in conjunction with those precious BCS Bowl Games that bring in the BIG money to any school that makes the cut. And it seems like there are more of them every year.

  So in the spirit of unlikely events (like No. 8 Butler playing No. 3 UConn for a national title) I would like to outline my idea for a Bowl Game/Playoff hybrid.

  Over the past few years the problem with the BCS system hasn't been a concern for anyone except maybe the top 3 or 4 teams. I would like to see AT LEAST the top 3 teams, but no more than the top 5, compete in a playoff. The 2 and 3 teams (and 4 and 5 teams) would play each other early on in the Bowl Season. In the event that there is a tie for any of the top 5 spots those tied teams would play each other for that rank. The winner of that (those) game(s) (which could still be called bowl games and even the losing schools would still get a chunk of cash for) would have a while to rest and prepare for the national championship game against the number one team.

  In between this playoff game (or games) the traditional bowl games would be played. The schools would still have the financial benefits of the Bowl games and there would be little or no room left for the 3rd ranked team to say that they should have had a shot at the title. Football is a different beast and there would be no way to play a basketball type of playoff where the top 5 or so would play each other down to the last two standing so the BCS system would still play a role.

  I would gladly hear any counterpoints to this theory.    

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Trump for Prez!

Will The Donald run? And if he does, could he win?
If a pig could fly, would it fly well?

CBS News reported that Trump found something similar to a birth certificate. Trump Logic dictates that this qualifies him to run this nation. (Read it) Time to speculate.

As Palin appears to be losing steam and the solutions to the country's problems are trapped in some pickle jar that nobody can seem to open, now would be the time to cross "Presidential Candidate" off of the ole' bucket list. Speaking of Palin, this could be a good time for her to follow in Nixon's footsteps and sit this one out. Take a break from the spotlight, give the public enough time to forget all the dumb stuff she's said, and save the money for 2016.

Trump could run, but he won't win. He might not even get to the Republican Primary. But if he wanted to take a shot at...Why not? The Republicans don't want to be stuck with the problems Obama has. They don't have any quick fixes. It would be a smarter political play to throw the McCain of 2012 to the wolves. Let the next guy in line take his shot so that the path can be cleared for '16.

It would make Obama (in the short term at least) seem like the guy that destroyed the economy, and is to blame for all the problems at home and abroad (I think it's too soon to say that firmly. The previous administration's 8 years played a BIG role in those things too.)

I guess what I'm saying is this: Let Trump run if he wants to. Birth Certificate or not. At the least it could throw a bit of entertainment into what is looking like a boring election year. At the worst it could mean President Trump and his Vice President The Hair Piece would have 4 years of dealing with some of the worst problems, socially, economically, and politicly, this country has seen since the last time we had these problems. Was it '68? No, it was the late '70s. Wait, the 80's. Early 90's?  

Sunday, March 27, 2011

How to Handle Civil Wars

  Tom Ricks touched on an idea I had been developing for this blog. He was on Meet the Press earlier this morning along with Bob Woodward, Ted Koppel and Samantha Guthrie. They discussed the U.S. role in Libya. Tom Ricks said something like "we've already kicked the door in" so we have an obligation to stay on board. That ties in to an analogy that I have been thinking about for a long time. But first, I want to share my thoughts on the idea of civil war and the roles I think people/governments should take in these types of conflicts.

  I don't like war. It's ugly. The cost of war on a human level is often times higher than what the overall outcome is worth. I also understand that there are times that war must be waged. There are wars in the Old Testament, so I suspect that God knows this is a part of the human journey. We all have to fight and struggle at some level during our lives. And sometimes that means picking up a bat or a gun or simply having the courage to say the words that need to be said.

  Civil wars almost always have that buzz word around them. "Liberty." That word always sounds pretty on the surface. We seldom ask what someone's idea of liberty is. We just assume it means the same to everyone. If a group of people feel so strongly about their idea of liberty that they feel they need to fight and kill for it then I have no problem with that. Get it done. But, don't start lobbing bullets and realize that you're outgunned and overmatched and need help. If you need help you should have had that in place to begin with. Even then that doesn't always guarantee victory. Look at the Bay of Pigs. All that did was get a bunch of Cubans killed and turn Castro into a lifelong enemy to the U.S.

  I believe that for a civil war to birth liberty the elements that fight for that liberty have to walk throught the fire. Let me illustrate it like this. I'm sure that most of us know or knew (or are) the kid that got everything handed to them. When he turned 16 his parents bought him a new Corvette. When she turned 18 her parents paid for her furnished apartment. When I was 17 I worked 50 hours a week and went to school and hardly had enough time or money to do anything. Who do you think treasures the things they have in life the most? For the group that fights for that change in their society, the outcome is sweeter and means more because of the sacrifice made to bring about that change. I'm not saying that they shouldn't have outside support, but they should have to carry most of the weight themselves.

  The situation in Libya has it's own set of problems now. This week there has been chatter about what we are doing over there and about stepping back and letting the UK or France take the lead. I've always felt this is more of an operation for the UK to lead anyway. And at this point it's too late to apply the philosophy I've stated above. We failed to have a clear game plan from the start on this thing. It's like we walked of a cliff in the dark, landed in a lake and just now popped our head through the surface.

  This brings me to the illustration that I had been thinking about this week and the words that Tom Ricks used today on MtP.

  Imagine that there is a married couple that live down the street. Not next door. A few houses down. The neighborhood knows that the man is abusive and suffers from some sort of mental problem. Possibly nuerosyphilis. The wife only stays with the man because this is her home and she has nowhere else to go. Let's say that one day the couple begin fighting. You have a lot of things going on in your life and don't need the extra headache, but you decide to get a couple of buddies and go do something about this guy and his wife. Let's say your buddies are smaller than you and don't own any weapons besides a plastic broom handle. You get your 12 guage Remington 870 loaded with 00 buckshot and the three of you head down the street.

 The door takes a couple of kicks but eventually swings wide open. The sight of the shotgun paralyzes the insane wife-beater long enough for the wife to wack him a couple of times with a table lamp. He retreats to the other side of the living room and your two buddies stand between the two to stop any further physical fighting. This is where we are at in Libya. Now what?

  Let's say at this point you start to feel like you didn't think this through very well. There are better ways this could have been handled, but you decided to go this route. Let's say you abruptly walk out of the room. As you get back home you hear two muffled pops, a scream and then a third pop. Turns out the abusive husband had a .38 hidden in his waistband and when you took your shotgun and went home he offed your friends and the wife. Then he cooked a t.v. dinner and caught the American Idol results show.

  We've already helped open the door in Libya. We have already participated in aggression against a foreign government (even though Gadafi is an evil, insane man he is still the ruler of that country). And to leave now would seal Obama's fate as the first "Jimmy Carter" of the 21st century.   
  Earlier this week I caught the NBC Nightly News report where journalist Richard Engel was embedded with a group of rebels in Libya (watch the video). I don't know that I would have enough courage to carry a toy gun into battle. If we have to leave, lets try to toss the shotgun to the wife. It may not change the outcome, but it gives her a chance.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What Iran might do (and probably will) in Libya...

   Iran is making moves to consolidate power amidst the turmoil in the Arab world. Iran has been doing this before the uprisings, but it is easier for them to do this now that the world's focus is aimed at a more narrow field. This is one of those times when Iran and the US could have worked together for a common goal if Former President Bush hadn't ripped the phone line to Tehran out of the wall by including them in his "Axis of Evil" speech.

   Iran doesn't like Gaddafi. When I say "Iran" here I am talking about the government more than the average citizen, so that statement may not be universally true. It's like saying "Americans like Sarah Palin." In an article posted today, Ayatollah Khamenei said "We condemn 100 percent how Gaddafi was and is dealing with the people ... the killing of civilians." Iran has other motivations for disliking Gaddafi.

   Iran has blamed Gaddafi for the disappearance of Shia cleric Moussa al-Sadr way back in 1978 (read more). Iran doesn't forget things easily and it's no surprise that Khamenei jumped at the chance to denounce Gaddafi.

   Since Bush's remarks at the UN, Iran has written off any idea of negotiating with Washington. They decided that their best chance of fending off any attacks from Europe and Washington is by consolidating their power and building a list of allies.

   Iran has been moving weapons around Africa for sometime. Google "Iran Arms Shipment" and the most recent articles contain references from Senegal to Nigeria.

At this point Obama is facing too many problems at home and abroad to handle supporting a rebellion trying to overthrow a dictator. Since the UN voted for what I call the "No-Fly Zone Plus" Gaddafi's forces have taken a major hit and whether we say it or not, we are actively supporting the Libyan opposition force. This is where the US and Iran could have benefited from a relationship where we were at least on speaking terms. This is where a covert relationship with Iran could have been beneficial. Think "Charlie Wilson's War" in Libya.

  Khamenei said of the US concerning the rebels, "They could have armed them, given them anti-aircraft batteries, instead they witnessed the massacre of the people for one month."

   Iran right now is far more focused on Bahrain than on Libya, but they are watching what happens there along with the rest of the world. Iran has shown in the past that although they are Persian and not Arab, they still have the ability to work with Arabs to achieve their common goals. Iran has the ability to reach out to the rebels in Libya. They could support them through Hizbollah with training, weapons, supplies, money and battle hardened soldiers. At this point, the coalition raining cruise missiles and patrolling the skies over Libya have taken a side in the Libyan Civil War. The relevance of that remains to be seen, but if we don't give the rebels the aid that they need to win, we can be sure that someone else will.  

Monday, March 21, 2011

This is how the world ends...

This is my first blog. I plan on using it as a place to voice my opinions and comments. I also hope to see other people's thoughts and viewpoints on the topics I talk about here. Sometimes Facebook threads are too small to contain it all and go as in depth as I would like.
The developments in North Africa and the crisis in Japan have sparked some good conversations lately, but I also like to talk about things going on locally.
I would like to start out by saying that I am not a Democrat or a Republican. Nor am I "liberal" or "conservative". I love guns and really don't care if gays can get married or not. I don't look at things from a political view, but as an observer. There are some issues I feel strongly about and that creates the problem of having some people try to plant a label on me.

I always thought that Afghanistan/Pakistan is a war the US needed to be in and we should have left Iraq alone.

I think Libya will now become a ground war involving the US in some measure as well as our European allies.

My March Madness bracket got demolished last night as Notre Dame played basketball as well as a pile of dead slugs.

I think Mary Fallin isn't going to do anything impressive in her term as governor of Oklahoma.

I think Obama had a good message during his campaign, but the more he tries to be like Bill Clinton, the more he turns into Jimmy Carter.    

These are just a few things I think someone reading this blog should know about my point of view. I don't claim to be "fair and balanced" because no one is. Every one has some experience in their life that shapes their views.

Besides that I will probably also talk about sports, books, movies, the entertainment world and just about anything else here.

So, that's about it for now.

Also, if anyone reading this wants to share a news article or viewpoint, feel free to email me at:

Thanks for reading