Schaumburg: Are You Missing… A Tree?

Local woman pulled over in Roselle with a tree stuck in the hood of her car, tells police she noticed it after driving through Schaumburg.

A woman was charged with driving under the influence in January in northwest suburban Roselle after she was pulled over with a tree trunk stuck in the hood of her car.The woman was pulled over around 11:10 p.m. Jan. 23 on Central Avenue after police received a call about a vehicle driving with a tree embedded in the grille, according to Roselle Deputy Chief Roman Tarchala. She was charged with driving under the influence after failing a field sobriety test.The woman told police that she struck the tree somewhere in Schaumburg, Tarchala said.

Source: Woman pulled over with tree stuck in hood of car in Roselle | Chicago Sun-Times

NPR Listeners Comfort A Dying Man Who Tried To Stop The Challenger Disaster

David and I listened to this follow up story Thursday on the retired Thiokol engineer who tried to stop the Challenger disaster, and had a parking lot moment of our own. We were meeting Dad and Linda (my father-in-law Sheldon and Shel’s girlfriend Linda) for dinner. As the story ended, we listened, pausing before getting out of the car. NPR listeners evidently had their own driveway or parking lot moments, and responded quickly to the original story. It’s nice to report so many acts of kindness to try to comfort a dying man. Challenger disaster

After NPR reported Bob Ebeling’s story on the anniversary of the Challenger explosion, hundreds of people responded. Ebeling, now 89, says those letters “helped bring my worrisome mind to ease.”

Source: Your Letters Helped Challenger Shuttle Engineer Shed 30 Years Of Guilt

One Term Wonder Joe Walsh: Who’s The Ass Again?

So glad this guy got booted out after just one term, and now the IL-08 district is reliably blue.

Why is it that when Dems leave office, they disappear? When Republicans get bounced, they go on talk shows or create their own.

Joe Walsh, a radical Tea Party congressman who was voted out of office after one term amid a variety of financial problems and has since become a right-wing radio host, is none too pleased about Presi

Source: Former Rep. Joe Walsh: Obama Is An ‘Arrogant, Immature, Anti-American Ass!’

If You’re Young, Here’s Why Old Bernie Sanders Looks Good

Young voters, please read this article in @HuffingtonPost: you won’t remember the shit that went down in the 90’s, but Bernie Sanders is free of all that baggage.

President Sanders? President Bernie? It seems unlikely, but is it really? The Goodman article makes the case that Bernie Sanders’ support is broad and far-reaching, his fundraising is good, and he’s gotten a lot more individual donors than even Obama’s record-breaking totals. That means that Bernie’s appeal is unexpectedly big, and the political media don’t cover the unexpected very well. So if he does well in his first 2 or 3 primaries, Hilary Clinton is not the inevitabilty of 2016, but more like the Inevitability of 2008. Which is kind of a sad thing because I think she would be a good leader, but her political baggage is always going to be there, standing at her elbow. Bill Clinton’s presence both helps and hinders her, and as much as I liked him and prospered during his presidency, I really don’t want a repeat of those 8 years of bullshit, craptastic “investigations” from the Right. I just want the country to get on with pressing matters, like global warming, repairing our crumbling infrastructure, and making our technology and manufacturing the best in the world again, instead of a hollow lie built by Chinese slave labor.

The Hufffpost piece by H.A. Goodman covers a lot of the essential background on the current crop of Presidential candidates and serves as a good primer for those of us whose memories of recent events aren’t as clear as they should be. It’s also worth printing out to give those of our acquaintance who just plain can’t be bothered to pay attention to politics until there’s a rah-rah-sis-boom-bahfest to get them out to vote for their team’s tribal totem-bearer. For those deliberately uninformed types, I suggest you roll up your printout and whack them gently about the noggin and suggest that they need to smarten up and vote right.

Or left, as the case may be.

Gore’s loss in 2000 is also correlated directly to America’s fatigue with the Lewinsky scandal, even though Starr’s investigation was politically motivated and Gingrich also had an extramarital affair during the investigation. For Democrats, a Hillary Clinton presidency filled with future scandal could easily lead to a Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio ticket in 2020.

Source: On January 20, 2017 Bernie Sanders Will Be Sworn In as America’s 45th President | H. A. Goodman

FATIGUE with the LEWINSKY SCANDAL. If you’re younger than about 25 years old, but will be old enough to vote in November 2016, you probably won’t remember HOW EXHAUSTING the political witchhunts were. And the Lewinsky scandal was just one little part of it, but the investigation, impeachment hearings, and breathlessly reported developments were never-ending.

I’d just like to unpack this one paragraph from the article, because it reminded me of what it was like to live through the 90’s, when President (William) Clinton was in office and the GOP Right Wing were constantly investigating every little conspiracy theory they could dig up out of the muck on Clinton. They hated him, and no rumor was too unsubstantiated for them to follow to ridiculous lengths in their desire to find something, anything, on Clinton that they could use to bring him down.

The 90’s were good to me personally, in the main; in the middle of the decade I finally met the love of my life, and moved to the Chicago suburbs to get married and get on with my suburban life. Some of my favorite television shows and movies (the ones that are part of my inner life, that I always return to for context and emotional reference) were on the air in the 90’s, and one of them led directly to my meeting my husband David.

And yes, the Clinton scandal-hunters even touched that show, and one of its spinoffs. One of the recurring stars of “Highlander: The Series,” Elizabeth Gracen, who later went on to be the star of her own (brief) spinoff had to be careful about appearing at fan conventions in the US because she was under subpoena by Kenneth Starr, who was leading the investigations of Clinton. Gracen denied it at first, but she had an affair with Clinton when he was governor of Arkansas back in the early 80’s. That was potientially a bombshell, but it it was a minor blip on the “Investigate and Impeach Bill Clinton For Something, Anything” narrative that the GOP Congress pushed at the time.

Gracen actually had to pass on appearing in person at the last big HL convention I attended, which was “Celebration” in April 1998 in Anaheim (which was a shame, because she deserved one last hurrah with people who enjoyed her character). She settled for appearing via satellite link as she was filming her show in Europe (which was a great way to avoid the investigation). An old post at gives a good impression of what great fun that was, and how friends from all over the WORLD met each other (sometimes for the first time, sometimes as a reunion) to bond over a (stupid) television show. I was sorry and angry that she had to miss it.

Anyway, Elizabeth Gracen had to miss out on all of that; in fact, not long after her spinoff show was cancelled, she ended up declaring bankruptcy, which was probably related to her former association with Bill Clinton, and the anti-Clinton backlash that still festered in the US as the Bush administration began. You have no idea how tiresome and boring it all was, and maybe that’s the point: make politics so boring that people no longer pay attention to it. Until their votes are needed to elect assclowns, that is. Just add water, stir and shake well, and you have Instant Angry Pitchforks!

If Hilary Clinton is the nominee, she will probably be elected with a hard-right GOP Congress mostly in place (given the political realities of demographics, gerrymandering, and turnout), which means that we will all get to enjoy ALL THAT NONSENSE again. And you will get to experience it as an adult for the first time, but for me it will be like that long-awaited sequel of a beloved movie that turns out to kind of suck.

At least, if Hilary Clinton becomes President Hilary Clinton, Peter Segal will be able to reuse a throwaway joke from one of the earliest episodes of WBEZ’s “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me” radio quiz show. I’ve never forgotten that joke, because it was both funny and true. It may have been on an episode from November 1998 that featured the impeachment proceedings as part of the “Not My Job” segment, and I wish I could have found a clip but maybe someday… the gist of it was as one of the end-of-show “player predictions” for the next week’s news; either Peter Segal or Adam Felber quipped “And next week, Kenneth Starr will investigate ME for making THIS JOKE.”

Why do I remember a joke that is nearly 20 years old? Because it was funny, and it was true; we can all expect incessant Congressional hearings, investigations, RWNJ rumors, and endless roiling of HRC’s handling of Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi. And many, many people will find themselves under subpeona who might shed “light” on her email server scandal, the suspiciously masculine cut of her pantsuits, and her subversively anti-family cookie recipes if necessary.

Out of self defense, we will have to laugh. Thank God John Oliver will be there for us, along with the WW!DTM! panelists. I only wish Jon Stewart will issue occasional biting commentary from his farm/animal refuge.

For what it’s worth, I really do not give a damn that Clinton (Bill) messed around on Clinton (Hillary). It’s none of my business as long as it didn’t prevent him from doing his job or open him up to blackmail by a foreign power. The Right’s obsession with morality, when they themselves have always been the least moral people in government, is one of their (many) failings. I don’t understand why people forget this, as it keeps happening and will go on happening as long as people are silly enough to vote these clowns into office.

Please, potential voters younger than me, you will need to know (since you probably don’t remember) that George W. Bush was more or less appointed by the Supreme Court in 2000, as the election in Florida was so messed up that the recounts had to be set aside by their fiat. Along with the infamous “chads” on their poorly designed ballots, Florida had screwed up on purging (mostly Democratic-leaning brown and black) voters, which a certain GOP governor didn’t start but certainly finished, and they also messed with polling times and places that affected black churchgoers the most. Ultimately, that meant that Al Gore was probably our elected President, but the election was ruined by Florida’s electoral incompetence, and who was governor of Florida then? No one other than Brother Jeb! who was aided and abetted by Katherine Harris, who was discarded after she was no longer hot, useful, and marketable.

President Obama has been something of a disappointment to me personally – I had great hope for him but his Hawaiian-style compulsion to seek “kokua,” or cooperation on matters of mutual interest meant that the GOP opposition could stop everything he wanted to get done except for the ACA in his first 2 years. I thought that a community organizer would, you know, encourage people to ORGANIZE to better themselves and their communities and Lord knows, he’s tried. Unfortunately, the Tea Party’s stranglehold on the alleged hearts and minds of a small but passionate subset of Cryptofascist-Americans means that the GOP is being led around by the trunk (or some fleshly appendage located farther South on the Republican Elephant in the room). Unless and until “low-information” voters get whacked with the facts by concerned friends and relatives, the Tea Party will continue to embarrass the nation in the eyes of the world (not that they care about the opinions of people who are NOT Cryptofascist-Americans).

So: Bernie Sanders. He has no Clinton I-era baggage, he won’t have any Clinton-II era baggage. He will Get Things Done, or Shake Things Up when he’s inevitably blocked by what I expect will be a GOP Congress full of foam-at-the-mouth religious nutjobs, thanks again to the stupid gerrymandering of Congressional districts. Please try to remember also to organize, organize, organize at the local level to get those state legislature ninnyhammers out of office. I know it’s not sexy or hip (currently) but please try to make it so.

Politically, he’s to the left of just about everybody in the Senate, and is rated about the middle of the pack in terms of “leadership” by GovTrack, meaning he’s co-sponsored a middling number of bills. Note that he bills he chooses to sponsor and the committee memberships he holds means that he’s doing a lot of thinking about issues that affect a lot of us “ordinary Americans.”

Committee Membership

Bernard “Bernie” Sanders sits on the following committees:

Ranking Member, Senate Committee on the Budget
Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Member, Subcommittee on Energy
Member, Subcommittee on National Parks
Member, Subcommittee on Water and Power
Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
Member, Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety
Member, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife
Member, Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security
Member, Subcommittee on Children and Families
Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

Bills Sponsored
Issue Areas

Sanders sponsors bills primarily in these issue areas:

Armed Forces and National Security (27%) Health (18%) Labor and Employment (11%) Energy (10%) Education (9%) Government Operations and Politics (9%) Taxation (8%) Finance and Financial Sector (7%)
Recent Bills

Some of Sanders’s most recently sponsored bills include…

S. 2399: Climate Protection and Justice Act of 2015
S. 2391: American Clean Energy Investment Act of 2015
S. 2398: Clean Energy Worker Just Transition Act
S. 2242: Save Oak Flat Act
S. 2237: Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015
S. 2142: Workplace Democracy Act
S. 2054: Justice is Not For Sale Act of 2015

That’s like a progressives’ wish list, right there. I wish all of those bills would get enacted but it’s doubtful that they will. Thanks, GOP. About 97% of his contributions in this cycle come from individual donors, which speaks to his appeal to ordinary people, and not corporate interests that want to buy the election while evading taxes by offshoring themselves.

Sanders expresses himself clearly on the issues, and is refreshingly free of the political doublespeak that turns so many of us off:

So young people, take a good look at the old guy. He’s probably your best bet for the future, he’s someone we could trust to work for the common good, and he’s free of political and corporate baggage.

Although, if he’s elected, you can probably count on his being impeached for being a democratic (small-d) socialist (small-s), but that’s just Bernie being Bernie. The GOP would make complete fools of themselves denouncing him, and then how will they look if his policies benefit the country and the world? Pretty stupid, actually, and that’s something I’d love to see.

Storycorps: “Oh Mama, I Knew You’d Come”

Ruth Coker Burks was a young mother in her 20s when the AIDS epidemic hit her home state of Arkansas in the early 1980s. She took it upon herself to care for AIDS patients who were abandoned by their families, and even by medical professionals, who feared the disease.

Coker Burks, now 55, has no medical training, but she estimates that she has cared for nearly 1,000 people over the past three decades, including her friend Paul Wineland’s partner.

She became involved after visiting a friend at a Little Rock hospital where one of the state’s early AIDS patients was dying. “The nurses were drawing straws to see who would go in and check on him,” Coker Burks tells Wineland at StoryCorps in Hot Springs, Ark.

“And so I snuck into his room. And he wanted his mama. And so I marched myself out to the nurses’ station and I said, ‘Can we call his mother?’ And they go, ‘Honey, his mama’s not coming. He’s been here six weeks. Nobody’s coming.’

“And so I went back in and he looked up at me and he said, ‘Oh, Mama, I knew you’d come.’ I stayed with him for 13 hours while he took his last breath. I called his mother and I told her that he had died and she said, ‘I’m not burying him.’ So I had him cremated and I brought him home.”

Caring For AIDS Patients, 'When No One Else Would' : NPR.

Earlier today, this Storycorps installment made me burst into sobs. I was reminded of some Seattle friends who died of AIDS; I knew a few people whose family had abandoned them to their fate and left them to rely on the kindness of strangers. I know people who volunteered at AIDS hospices years ago in the Chicago area, too. They had also sat with the dying, because the families would not be there for them, in all senses.

The sobs came when Coker Burks said “Oh Mama, I knew you’d come.”

I was overcome with grief for an unknown mother’s son, and had to log out of my work phone line for a few seconds so I wouldn’t be caught crying on the line if a call came in.

I sobbed for the son who wanted his mama, and for the mama who would not come, and for the kind woman who stood in for so many mothers and fathers who would not, or could not, be there for their sons and daughters, dying of AIDS.

Those were dark days, but thank God for Ruth Coker Burks. It reallly did get better because of people like her.

Liberal Christian Urges Kirk Cameron To Mind His Own Beeswax About Cherished Holiday Traditions

Former child actor and current talentless hack Kirk Cameron has taken upon himself to save Christmas from Christians that he doesn’t consider to be Christian enough, and from everyone else that is of any other persuasion, too. Because only Kirk Cameron’s Christmas is the righteous, holy, and most Jesus-y one, apparently. And now with seasonal Halloween, too!

Can’t wait for the inevitable Thanksgiving video, with a working title of “SATAN is at ur tabel, eatin ur turkiy,” because cognitive dissonance is always such a hoot.

Like other Christianist loudmouths (and Bill O’Reilly, who’s just a loudmouth) the One True Christmas for which Kirk Cameron pines is all about bringing the unchurched masses of America and the world to Jesus Christ. All other ways of keeping Christmas, even if it’s strictly secular and centered on shopping, gifting, and enjoying family and friends, are simply not acceptable to Cameron. Most of us actually enjoy the hustle-bustle of the modern American Christmas, although I tend to like the quieter, more spiritual aspects, the music, and the pretty holiday displays rather than the rugby scrum that Christmas shopping has become.

Perhaps Kirk Cameron thinks the Devil makes us do it differently than he does, and therefore it must be saved from us heathens. Saved! SAVED IN THE BLOOD OF JEEEEZ-US. Or whatever.

What an ass. No, what a self-righteous, pompous early-onset male pattern bald-faced middle-aged ass.

I’ve been aware for years of Cameron and his yawping ilk, demanding that Christmas be saved from the clutches of, I don’t know, rampant commercialism and simpering Hallmark-card secularism. And I’ve ignored him for decades. By contrast, in the last 15 years or so, I’ve kept Christmas pretty well, singing and celebrating at Christmas Eve services at Holy Innocents Episcopal Church, and then later at St Nicholas Episcopal Church since moving to Illinois.

As a “churched” liberal Christian, I am perfectly comfortable with the idea that not everyone celebrates Christmas at all (hello, my honey! hello, my inlaws! Hello, my Jewish extended family!). I’m also comfortable with people who were raised as Christians in name only, who might or might not attend church twice a year, otherwise known as “C. and E. Christians.”

It turns out I was raised in just such a family that didn’t go to church except for major holidays (also weddings, christenings, and funerals). My mom and I were an anomaly, we actually liked attending and participating the rest of the year. That was when my quarterly Sunday communion might consist of cubed Wonder-Bread and grape juice in little individual shot glasses; now I’m all about the weekly Eucharist of hand-baked bread and wine in a shared silver cup, blessed by the hands of Father Manny and others.

Still, I have great affection for Christians who show up for Christmas and Easter. They’re the people filling the seats in church for the big festival services, where we in the choir are singing our hearts (and throats) out. They’re the people I work hardest for, months before each holiday, rehearsing with the Choir of St Nicholas and half-killing myself with the singing and the late night rehearsals and big festival services.

Casual Christians get my most technically challenging musical efforts, if they happen to drop by St Nick’s, but I give my best effort for the normal Sunday services and occasional “lesser feasts,” too. They say that she who sings once, prays twice, and I do pray as I sing that it is acceptable, pleasing, and for God’s sake, in tune! Also that my (pretty modest) efforts in the alto section might help to move someone’s heart to lift in a moment of transcendance. Yet, they don’t have to believe as I believe. They just have to feel something beyond themselves and be transported, and that is fine with me.

As a “churched” liberal Christian, I am deeply offended by Kirk Cameron’s posturing on the need to “save” Christmas, and suspect that the real motive for his madness is to somehow remain in the public eye, since his career went in the crapper after Growing Pains ended. Oh, if only Alan Thicke’s real-life son Robin had been old enough for the role, what a very different and twerky world we would live in now!

Now Cameron wants to “save” Halloween, a holiday I also hold dear although I don’t celebrate it properly any more. He wants Christians to turn it into an opportunity to preach the Gospel to people who, frankly, are probably not all that interested in anything he has to say. If people like Kirk Cameron hadn’t turned them off by being righteous assholes, un-spiritual people might actually discover for themselves that when you strip out all the Bible-thumper rhetoric, Jesus had some radically Good News for the world, and a new way to honor God and all His Creation – by loving one another, caring for the poor, and healing the world. An atheist can even “get” the message of Jesus without the need to believe, too. This world could very well be all we’ve got, so we should at least treat it and each other better.

At last, the second or third half of this post! Would you like a cookie, some pumpkin juice, or a butterbeer? What’s a little sorcery and witchcraft, when people of fair to middling intelligence know there’s no such thing?

ANYway, to continue, to digress, and to finally get to the thing that set me off on this merry tirade:

Yesterday, the comic and “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” actor Patton Oswalt laid this gem upon the breast of the Twitterverse, and it was good.

Curious as to what inspired that comment, after a quick stop to remind myself who Travis Bickle was, I looked around and found that Kirk Cameron has decided that Halloween needs to be taken back from the Satan-worshiping scarily costumed candy-gobbling trick-or-treaters.

Well, I always thought kids weren’t for me, but I didn’t think they were all THAT evil.

Also, that would be a great Halloween costume for Kirk Cameron – the mohawk, the moral rigidity, the martyr complex: it’s too perfect.

Halloween isn’t the only holiday on Cameron’s radar. Next month, he’s releasing a film called "Saving Christmas," aimed at restoring religion to the holiday.

via Kirk Cameron Urges Christians To Celebrate Halloween By Sharing The Gospel.

It’s all about getting publicity for the “Saving Christmas” movie, and it’s all about trying to restore the tawdry lustre to his long-faded Hollywood star. I suspect it’s not about bringing souls to Jesus and defeating Satan, it’s about bringing eyeballs to the screen and courting Mammon.

So this, too, offends me. Both as a liberal Christian and as a former candy-gobbling trick-or-treater, I’m comfortable with the old pagan customs that survive in the modern celebration of Halloween, and of course I’ve attended a few All Saints/Souls services in my time (usually at other Episcopal churches, we usually don’t put do one unless it falls on a Saturday or Sunday).

I’m sure that Mr More Christiany Than Thou Cameron has no idea what All Hallows’ Eve, All Saint’s Day, or All Souls Day even mean to “liturgical” Christians like me. Apparently, his way of celebrating Halloween, Christmas, and other cherished holidays forgets the old traditions and long-sacred ceremony, brings no meaningful modern reinterpretation, and strips out any remaining beauty, color, and poetry. A rich, deeply refreshing liturgy is replaced with whatever bland, multi-media production Cameron thinks is sufficiently Christian to avoid self-offense.

Blech. Sorry, I can’t even.

As a liberal Christian, I’m comfortable with commemorating the dead, remembering the saints, and dressing up to literally laugh in the face of Death. I can even celebrate a formerly pagan Harvest Festival with something more creative and warmly generous in spirit as the season turns toward winter (WARNING: SHAMELESS PLUGS FOR ST NICK’S HARVEST FAIR AND ALSO THE CHRISTMAS CD WOOHOO).

Yes, in case you didn’t know, St Nick’s is putting on its own Harvest Fair – A Gathering of Artisans this year. It’s a tradition that many English churches follow, and American and Canadian churches too, but the emphasis will be on quality and on celebrating the creativity of our St Nick’s community.

Please visit our Harvest Fairpage on Facebook and LIKE and SHARE so that lots of people in the area of Elk Grove Village and the Chicagoland area might find out about it, it’s our first year. We’ve got handmade soap, jewelry, and other treasures lined up and waiting to be discovered, and there’s more room for artisans to take a table or a partial table!

Last year we celebrated Halloween with a daylight Trick or Trunk event where parishioners at St Nick’s decorated the trunks of their cars and the backs of their mini-vans and SUVs and gave out candy to the youngest neighborhood children. I think there was a circuit of several churches that put it on in the area. It was a fun event that was enjoyed by very small costumed witches and demons (Ooooh! Scary, Kirk Cameron! BOO!). This year we’re offering some nice treats and no tricks to older kids of all ages with the Harvest Fair.

Meanwhile, there’s a pumpkin out in front of the front doors of St Nick’s… not sure why, but it’s creative and certainly in keeping with the season and with the neighborhood (Elk Grove Village is known for its Halloween and Christmas displays).

Sunday, Christmas comes early to St Nicholas (actually it’s been coming since about May of last year. The Choir of St Nicholas is recording a Christmas CD called NOEL: Christmas At St Nicholas Episcopal Church. I get to sing on it, it will be available for a small donation, but can be pre-ordered.. We’re going to a real recording studio Sunday after the regular 10am service to do it, and then if you like, you can drop by at about 8pm on Christmas Eve (December 24, for those of you who don’t do church much) and hear it all LIVE. Like a CONCERT, but with praying and communion and stuff. You are most welcome. Here’s what it’ll look like, my husband David took the photo at the 2012 service.

CD: Noel: Christmas at St Nicholas

Does this Christmas look like it needs saving? Does this Halloween need to be taken back? NOPE.

So thank you but no thank you, Kirk Cameron, you can mind your own beeswax about cherished holiday traditions like Halloween and Christmas. You celebrate them how you see fit, but don’t tell other people how they should do it. The Devil is not involved, and neither is Bigfoot and the Easter Bunny.

You may think you’re contesting with Satan (who is a metaphorical construct, in my opinion) and you may complain about rampant secularism, but the truth is, most people don’t really pay much attention to you. You’re not very relevant now, and you were not a cultural influence when Growing Pains was on the air, either. It was merely mass entertainment to the lowest common denominator. It was commercial pap, and certainly not as influential as The Cosby Show, for example.

Actually, Kirk Cameron’s Mike Seaver was never fit to tie Theo Huxtable’s basketball shoes – now that was a groundbreaking show about an American family struggling to instill good values (and it was a lot funnier). More people “got the message” about how to treat each other from watching that show, which didn’t preach, but did persuade. The message that people got from Cameron’s show was that hisbest friend’s name was Boner, until he mysteriously ran off and joined the Marines. The teen heart-throb Mike character was an insufferable schemer, until a real-life conversion experience revealed Cameron to be one of those self-important Christianists who beats everybody over the head with the baby Jesus. After becoming insufferably holy, he insisted on storyline changes, script changes, and had a co-star fired.

I had totally forgotten what a pimple Kirk Cameron was in the 90’s.

Meanwhile, it could be argued that his not-very-charitable behavior toward his co-stars and the producers, after becoming a foam-at-the-mouth Bible beater, led to the steep ratings decline and eventual cancellation of his only claim to fame. Huh.

Yes, preach (and rant) on about needing to save Christmas, Kirk Cameron. But will you be singing the old carols on Christmas Eve, and receiving Christ in the bread and wine while the glorious anthems rise to Heaven? Will you be bringing canned goods to drop off anonymously at the door of your local food pantry, as our neighbors and support group members do at ours? I don’t think so. You’ll be attending premieres and media events held in auditoriums, trying to flog DVD sales. Frankly, I’d rather help flog our CD sales.

Yes, anyone celebrating Halloween by dressing up, playing tricks and sharing treats is not a pagan, not a Satanist, not a devil-worshipper; they’re someone who enjoys the traditions of All Hallows’ Eve, and has fun with its modern equivalent.

Yes, even a Christian can celebrate All Hallows’ Eve; the colors (orange and black) are a reminder of some very old Christian traditions. In England, groups of people dressed in black used to go out “souling” door-to-door (begging for soul-cakes in exchange for Christian prayers for the dead, in the Anglican tradition) before the three days of “All Hallowtide.” The yellowish-orange beeswax candles that were carried in such processions, along with other things like carved turnips, became the other color associated with Halloween. In the US, orange pumpkins were easier to carve into what originally a lantern to guide lost souls. People would pray that the wandering souls would find rest and not do mischief, and they would disguise themselves in costumes to avoid their wrath. Sometimes they dressed up as saints, too.

Woops, it looks like the Christians already took back Halloween, some centuries ago. Rather than saving holidays that don’t need saving, why not protest one of those pop-up Spirit stores instead, or criticize home improvement stores for putting fall and winter holiday displays on sale in August?

A true Halloween can be just a fun candy holiday, or the lead-in to a generic harvest festival, or even a family gathering at Thanksgiving (I can hardly wait for Cameron to hit that one). And with the addition of All Saints/All Souls, Halloween is an opportunity to reflect on how life and death are linked, and how facing our demons, commemorating our saints, and remembering our dead is part of being human.

It always used to annoy me at work when the annual Halloween extravaganza would come around – most of us would be decorating and working on our team presentation for the costume contests, and a few unhappy, joyless Christianists would be complaining that the decorations were too scary and too Satanic. They wouldn’t participate, and would take the day off to avoid all the… fun. That’s okay, more candy for us.

Sure, it was hectic, but they were literally killjoys and fortunately there were only one or two. The same few even objected to Christmas decorations in the office, or Hanukkah decor at one co-worker’s desk. In their narrow minds, those symbols were somehow evil, pagan and of the Devil. They would have been happiest if there were NO seasonal displays, since ALL the holidays were tainted because they were, yes, pagan in origin. Nothing should be celebrated or enjoyed if it had any start in a non-Biblical tradition, in their view.

Cameron wants to turn Halloween into a big thunder-and-brimstone Bible fest. Does it need saving? No.

A person needn’t be Christian to enjoy the true meaning of Christmas if they wish, though unfortunately they can hardly escape it if they don’t. My late Jewish mammeleh-in-law even liked the holiday lighting displays and some of the music. Yes, without the crass commercialism, and the evil corporatism of Black Friday (and Thursday!) shopping stampedes at Thanksgiving, the Christmas season isn’t the Norman Rockwell painting of our shared nostalgia. Let’s not forget, Santa Claus was popularized by newspaper editors from a poem by an Episcopalian academic, with an image makeover in the late 40’s by a soft drink company. Like a comic book character, his true origin story reveals his secret identity: ta-da!! he’s SAINT NICHOLAS.

A true Christmas is a gathering of loved ones and friends, with food and warmth, and color, and music, while remembering the less fortunate and the lonely. Does that need saving? No. Bam! said the lady, no.

And now, I can’t bring myself to watch his trailer to see what he wants to do to “save” Christmas. Who does he think he is? Jesus Christ.

Yep. That’s why he’s more holier than thou, and me, and everybody.

Are we living in the 1st Century, or the 21st Century? Some of these Christianists need to get a modern life. Neither Halloween nor Christmas need saving, except perhaps from former child stars long past their pull date, and FAUX Noise pundits shooting off their pieholes in the annual “War On Christmas.”

Mind your own beeswax, Kirk Cameron. Save your sanity instead.

The Souper Bowl Of Caring Is Full Of Tears


You may have heard about the Utah elementary school that took lunch trays away from kids whose lunch accounts had negative balances, after a Salt Lake “nutrition manager” came in to investigate why so many accounts were in arrears.

This bean counter is now on leave, and the cafeteria manager and workers are being blamed for handling the directive badly. Yes, they let the kids build up the negative balances, so they could EAT THE SAME LUNCH as the other kids. And then they scrambled to apply what is reportedly district policy, because in Utah authority is generally not questioned, no matter how wrong-headed it may be. Apparently the system can’t identify account deficits until the tray of food is at the register, which is stupid.

That’s Uintah, my old grade school, in the news. I went there in the old building, which was condemned and rebuilt long ago because it had asbestos everywhere. Now it’s being condemned for the actions of asshats in authority.

Meanwhile, the Salt Lake Unified School District has some damage control to do, as this screenshot of their Facebook page has their upbeat “Souper Bowl of Caring” post immediately before their response to the Uintah “Cheese Sammich and Banana of Shame” incident.

Or was it the “No Souper Bowl of Uncaring For You, Hungry Child” incident?

Remembering Pete Seeger: The Banks Of Marble

My friend the late Fr. Paul Brouillette was huge Seeger fan and fellow banjo player; he once played and sang this in church. He was that kind of guy, and today he welcomes his hero to the celestial jam session.

I once heard a young Occupy Chicago protester sing it via a live Internet feed. Still relevant, still rousing the rabble, Seeger’s passing means the banksters have one less whiny folksinger to criticize them. Links: April 25th – July 7th Links: January 21st – April 24th