Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Real True Grit



I remember asking my Grandfather when I was young what the difference was between a man and a boy. He told me in his tough and graveled voice that a man has rough hands from a hard days work. His back hurts but he doesn't tell anyone or make a big deal about it. A man doesn't take shit from NO ONE! I said I wanted to be a man just like him when I grew up and I wanted to get started right away. He laughed and told me to go to the end of the drive way and pick up some loose gravel. He said if I grind the gravel in my hands a little each day then my hands will be ready when I need them to work. With rough sandpapered hands I would be able to put up a fence faster than the rest of the boys or dig a hole quicker. Why I could even take a steer down faster than anyone my age if I already had a working man's hands. I did just what he told me. It hurt but I didn't let anyone know. At 5 years old I was on my way to manhood.

To be a male in my family was easy. The only guide you needed was to watch as many John Wayne movies as possible. The Duke was the Lee family guru of etiquette. If someone gets in your face you show them the knuckles. If someone tried to take something from you, why you just flash the old double barrel. A man sees the whites of your eyes and knows the the hammer is falling rather than be hit from behind with a cheap shot. They only see your pearly whites smile when they go crawling away from you. I wanted to be that. To be honest a little part of me still does. I don't think I'm the kind of man my Grandfather would have been proud of. I come from a long line of war veterans. A man doesn't talk about his feelings. You bury them along with your buddy on the battle field. If your foot hurts you shoot the other one to keep it company but a man would be damned to sit in a doctors office waiting to be helped. Whenever a bully threatened me the advice my father gave me was not to put my thumb inside my fist when I threw a punch. Growing up I thought that in order to be a man there must be pain, and an underlining life of hardship around every corner to conquer. But I wasn't a fighter. I liked animals and drew pictures all day. I let my family lineage down. I talk freely about my feelings. I don't rule with my fists. Is it possible that a man of girth and bran stillness can coexist in the same mind with that of peace and inner perspective? If it can then I am failing miserably. I am a pacifist and a time bomb all at the same time.

You see I didn't grow up with just the Duke. I also grew up with men like John Lennon singing about all you need is love and give peace a chance. The roles that men played have changed dramatically over the years since my Grandfather's youth. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached to love and not hate. He chose to march instead of destroy. He talked about fighting the good fight. How do you fight without your fists or guns? Steve McQueen would have run over your ass if you got in his way. Clint Eastwood would have filled you full of lead if you asked him how the weather was outside. Geronimo the great Apache chief lead his people by running miles across Arizona and Mexico on foot everyday and destroying anyone who got in his way before he was finally caught and forced to sign a treaty. Charles Bronson took no prisoners. Bruce Lee was unstoppable. Today's men like Samuel L. Jackson or Jeff Bridges are tough but never take themselves too seriously. So what happened between my Grandfather's and my generations? Where did all the men go? John Wayne never asked for peace. He just laid people to rest.

As much as I don't believe in war I have often thought about enlisting. Deep down I feel like it is a family duty and an honor I must uphold. How can I really understand peace without fully understanding war. But I made a decision and I have to firmly stand behind it. That is another characteristic of a man. You form your morals and you live by them. No one or outside pressures should influence that. If they do then you have no real conviction. John Wayne was full of convictions. So am I. That is one thing the Duke and I have in common.

I was there when ever one of my pets died. One of my dogs had a disease and her organs began to shut down. There was nothing we could do but make her comfortable. A real man would have probably put her out of her misery by breaking her neck quickly or shooting her with a gun. I didn't. I tried to make her as warm and comfortable as possible. I noticed one morning that she was bleeding from the mouth and nose. I cleaned her up and brought the kids in to the room with her and explained to them what was going to happen to her and what I was about to do. They said good-bye. I took her to the vet. I held her the same way I held every pet I had that died in my arms. She continued to bleed as I cleaned the blood away from her face with my hands whipping off the excess on my shirt. I held her in my lap the whole time. The vet told me she might loose control of her bowels when they put her under. I told them I was holding her anyway. She went peacefully soon after. She was just a dog. She was just an animal. Men wore animals on their backs. Men smelled like leather or and any other catch of the day. And yet when my dogs eyes rolled back in her head I kissed her forehead and cried like I have done with every pet that has graced my life. I'll bet John Wayne never had a pet.

My father-in-law's dying wish was to be buried on land that they owned. I was to help bury him. Can't man up any harder than digging a hole and putting a loved one in it, right? I didn't think I could do it. The memory is still there and I always think about it when the cool winter winds start to blow. The wood of the shovel digging into my hand. Moving earth and large rocks out of the way with just our backs. The brothers and I had amazing energy to do what we did in such a short time. We took one break and I lied down in the grave. I wanted to know what it felt like looking up through the twisted branches, earth, and rock. What did it feel like to be dead? I couldn't tell you. I'm alive. What I saw when I was on my back was sky. What I understood is that I'll never know what death is until I'm dead.

We laid their father down and spoke a few words. Men Don't cry. They just get the job done. I cried. After we said our peace the wind picked up and it began to rain and snow just a little. We finished burring him before the rest of the family showed up. I was so exhausted after that. I have never been so tired in all my life. My Grandfather's advice was meant to prepare me for this but you never really are. I'll bet John Wayne never did that.

I have raised my fists before. I have lost every time. My hands may be worn but there has never been massive strength behind my punch. I wish I could hit like a drunken sailor. Harrison Ford was my childhood hero. Every time I got in a fight I imagined the theme song from "Raider of the Lost Ark" going on in my head. Ford has this way of making fights look real. You can see the anxiety and frustration in his face as he punches his way trying to get himself out of another mess. Always thrown into the fire but never reluctant. I saw myself  that way for a while.

I remember a group of people holding this guy back from completely killing me and mopping up the floor with my toothpick body. I stood up and people were yelling at me to run. I start to stagger off when I heard, "HEY YOU LITTLE FAGGOT!" No one calls me or anyone else around me that! I turned into Harrison Ford all over again. I spun around for round two only to met up quickly with four knuckles. My head shot back so quickly I thought it broke off. I saw blood fly out of my mouth so fast I thought it was launched in outer space. My back hit the cold sidewalk so hard that it knocked the breath out of me and I passed out.

When I came to the person I was defending was standing over me. I didn't know him but these other guys were giving him a hard time and calling him faggot and pushing him around. I hated that term and felt like stepping up to the plate if no one else was. People always assumed I was gay and gave me a hard time growing up. It didn't matter if the guy was gay or not. I wasn't. I just felt that no needs to be picked on for being different.

"That was probably the dumbest thing I have ever seen in my life," he said as I came to.

"Your welcome," I said trying to feel my mouth.

"Do you really think violence is going to help anything? Suppose you kicked his ass. WHICH YOU DIDN'T! What is next. So what, you're going to go out and beat everyone up who utters a bad word. You're going to save us all Superman. Who to you think you are, Indiana Jones or something?"

How did he know. Anyway, he helped me up. I asked him, "So are all my teeth still there?" I half smiled.

"Yeah, your teeth still there," he said as he started to walk off. "It's your brain that's splattered all over the sidewalk."

After my head quit hurting I thought a lot about what he said. Not even Harrison Ford could take on the world. I doubt the Duke could either. But Ford and the Duke together! I didn't have someone that would get my back like that. So I had to think about how to fight in other ways. John Lennon came to mind about that time period. He fought with words and song. He was a force to be reckoned with. I could be a load mouth. Well, I mean that I could articulate how I felt and have a punch with the volume of my voice as much as he did. So that is what I did. John Wayne was a big man and could be in movies like the "Quiet Man" and get away with it. I'm a little man and had to get comfortable with who I really was. I didn't have my Grandfather's hands no matter how hard the grit I used to grind in the palms of my own hands.

It was a few days ago when I asked my 5 year old son how school was. He looked up at me and said, "I got pushed around today by a bully."

That old wound I had started hurting. I just gritted my teeth to hide the pain. I got angry. NO ONE shoves MY boy around! I could hear my Grandfather's voice loud and clear above my Mother's gentle "turn the other way" approach. Lennon was now getting his ass kicked by Metallica's "Seek and Destroy". I looked hard at him and said, "No matter how hard they push you, you stand right back up. Even if their bigger than you. You stand your ground Son."

"Do I push her back?" he asked.

"What?!... Push who?!" It took me a minute to register. "Oh no. No, no. She is a her? The bully is a girl?"

"Yeah! Should I push her back?"

I sighed, "No."

"Should I trip her and make her fall in a cactus?"

"What?! No! NO! Who told you to do that?"

"So what do I do?"

I sat down I held out my sandpapered hands. I looked at them both front and back. I could see the splinters from the days work. I saw bruises that must be weeks old.  My hands are so callused and have hurt for so long they numb now. I can't feel them anymore. I cut people when I try and touch them. I can't tell how soft a woman's skin is anymore or how fragile a child's hand is now. I just have to imagine how that person feels to me and then I know how soft I need to touch so that it doesn't hurt them. I have to touch now by remembering to feel. How was I going to feel my way through this one?

I put my hands on the table in front of me still looking at them. "Son, did I ever tell you the story about Davy and Goliath?"

"How is this going to help me?"

"Just listen. Did I tell you the story or not?"

"No. Can I go play?"

"No." He rolled his eyes and I began MY version of the story. "Goliath was this notorious giant who took whatever he wanted without asking. People were scared of him and they never stood up to him because they were afraid he would do something terrible. Everyone lived in fear while Goliath stole and lived off other peoples hard work."

"And then one day they shoot him with a gun," he interrupted.

"NO! Who told you... what is wrong with you? There are no guns. This is before guns were even made."

"Were there dinosaurs?"

"I'm not going that far back in time."

"Then they chopped him up with a sword."

"No. This my story and I'm telling it." I stopped long enough for the calm to return in my voice. "So one day this boy named Davy gets fed up. He is tired of being pushed around. So he walks across the town courtyard and calls out the to the giant who always sat at the end of the garden were people brought him whatever he wanted. Goliath stood up and cast a shadow a mile long as he approached the unruly boy. People stood all around the courtyard just staring at the commotion the boy was making, but not one of them interfered. The boy said he had had enough and he wasn't going to let the giant take anything else from his family ever again."

"So Davy beat him up?!"

I looked at my hands again. "No. There was a fight. The giant kicked Davy around like kick ball. But every time Davy fell down he would just get right back up again and shout "NO MORE!". The giant would kick harder and Davy kept getting up. No matter how hard Goliath hit Davy, Davy would just get right back up. Then Goliath hit Davy so hard it knocked him back 30 feet into a market wall. The giant thought he was done and laughed as he started to walk away. Then he told the crowd watching that was a lesson for all of them. Before the dust had settled out of the rubble the boy stared crawling back. He couldn't walk or stand but he was NOT giving up."

"So he got mad and beat the giant up?!"

"No," I said with a slight smile.  "The giant walked over to the crawling boy. You could feel the ground shack and rumble with each stride he took. He stopped right in front of the crippled boy and lifted the mighty sole of his shoe and crushed Davy like a bug in front of all the men, woman, and children watching. He killed Davy. No one interfered. They ALL watched this boy stand up to this mean nasty giant all by himself. The boy stood up for what he believed in even though he knew he couldn't win. He stood up for what they believed in too. And do you know what happened soon after that?"

"No, what?" he said now totally drawn in by my story.

"One by one people started standing up to Goliath. The giant would try and hurt them too but someone else would soon jump in or get in the way. News spread about the boy who stood up to the evil giant and soon people from all over were coming to tell the gigantic dictator what they thought of him. If a boy wasn't afraid then they could do it to. Soon there were too many people to keep off, even for Goliath. He took off running as the people chased him to the ocean. Without anywhere to go he jumped in the water and started swimming. He was a big man but it is bigger ocean. They never saw Goliath again. The moral of the story is that you are not going to win ever fight in your life. But you ALWAYS stand up for yourself and what you believe in. You never back down. You don't have to physically fight back. You just have to stand you ground. I real man can influence and unite others in his beliefs if he is strong enough to stand in the face of his own fears. Do you understand Little Man?"

My son thinks for a little bit. "Yeah. I guess I shouldn't push her back. I guess I get right back up again even though she made me cry and might step on me like a bug."

"Yeah," I consoled, "something like that."

The next day I asked my son how school went. He looked at me and said, "Fine."

"So the bully situation went better today?" I asked him.

"No. She took a ball from me and wouldn't give it back."

"So what did you do?"

"I told her I had it first and then she told me to move and get out of the way. So, so I didn't and she, she pushed me and I fell."

"I see. And what did you do?"

"I stood up and said no. And then Arlo and Max took the ball from her and gave it back to me. But then she looked like she got her feeling hurt so I gave her back the ball."

I felt proud. "See! There you go Little Man. That was very big of you."

"And then she threw the ball in my face real hard and I cried a lot."

"And that's my boy," I smiled back. "There is something I forgot to tell you. You can't win every battle. ESPECIALLY with girls. You gotta pick and choose and know which one's you can win before challenge a girl."

"So which one's can I win?" he asked looking for an ounce of wisdom.

I knelt down and said real softly, "When I figure that one out for myself, I promise you'll be the first one I tell."

"But I don't push back, right?" he whispered.

"Not physically. That one is a game you'll play your whole life." I whispered back.

John Wayne had kids but I'll bet he didn't raise them like I'm raising mine. And then again maybe he did. Maybe the golden age of cinema got manhood all wrong. I mean men are arrogant, vain, and even stupid at times. But we are not without feelings. Emotions dictate our actions. We may control those actions so that emotions do not dominate the situation but we move on gut feelings. Even Rocky Balboa cried at the end of Rocky II after beating up Apollo Creed for the boxing heavy weight title. Maybe I'm the next John Wayne for my generation. Yeah, that was a stretch but I'm pretty confident when I say a man is more than the size of the pistol he is packing. My hands are warn but I still remember what it was like to be a boy. I always will.

I'm sorry Grandpa, I let you down. I'm not a man like you. I wanted to but it just isn't me. But even though we are so different I love you, miss you, and still hold in the palm of my sandpapered hands the teachings you gave me that helped motivate and mold my life over the years. The real question now is could you have been man enough to accept me for the MAN I became?

Tales from the Mushroom



I loved the circus growing up. I always thought I would end up in one. Maybe I will when I finally do grow up one day. Hehehehehehehe!

Captain Slurpee and the Great White Lie



It is funny how a song can take you back to a particular time and place. That was the case just the other day when I was going to work. I was racing down the back streets hoping to improve my all time record of dropping the kids off at school and beating the time clock with my boss standing over it counting the minutes. Then I heard this song I had not heard in years. It was Captain and Tennille's "Love Will Keep Us Together". It was the crowning jewel of the 70s. The Cheese Whiz of the cheesy variety. And yet I found myself being honked at as I was sitting through a green light just listening to this really dated song from yesteryear. As bad as it is it leaves me feeling really good. It takes me back to my innocents. I travel back in time to my childhood and the years spent living with my Grandmother. It reintroduces me to my first girlfriend. I was 5 years old and she was 6 in a world that felt like a Captain and Tennille song. Life was all light and fluffy. We both had families with problems, but when you are a kid it is just part of the norm and everyday no matter who is shedding tears. For us it was just one big recess.

My girlfriend and I (who used to just be my buddy) got into all kinds of trouble. She would usually start it by daring me to do something. I would do it because I was to stupid to realize that I would get caught and get into trouble before she had her turn. I would get yelled at and then hit with the flyswatter by my Grandmother when I got home. The flyswatter was the equivalent of the switch. I would cry. Shanna would go home laughing. And then we would do it all over again the next day.

I remember the first time Shanna asked me to go with her and her mom to the bank. Going to the bank meant that they usually stopped off at the local convenient store and got a Slurpee. I loved Slurpees and this was my first trip without my family taking me anywhere so it was a big deal. We sat right next to each other in the back seat of this giant car. You have to remember that this was in the 70s and seat belts were not in vogue yet. Every car on the road was enormous until the Ford Pinto came along. But let's not dwell on mistakes.

Shanna's mom drove up to the bank window. Shanna reaches over and grabs my hand. My first thought was "weird". I saw adults do this and I always thought it would be slimy and gross after a while. But then again it felt kind of nice and comfortable. It was like a warm blanket on a cold night when all you want to do is curl up in it. And that's when it happened. THAT song came on the radio. "Love Will Keep Us Together" was a huge hit that year. At least it was in San Angelo, Texas. Shanna and I didn't say much on the way to the corner store.

When we got there we rushed in to get our one of a kind Slurpees. Another cool thing about that beverage is that you got to make your own. As a kid you didn't get to do much on your own so this was waaaay cool. After we got our drinks we walked over to the pinball machine and watched the teenagers play. I loved the sounds and lights it made. I was completely in  trance. Shanna reached over a held my hand again. Why did she keep doing that? I guess I didn't mind so much because I don't remember pulling my hand away.

We got back in the car to go home after a quick emergency refill of Slurpee. Kids invented the refill. It wasn't legal back then. But how are you going to tell two troublesome kids no. So like I was saying, we get back in the car. We must have let go of each others hand in order to get in but I'm not sure when because we were still holding hands on the way home. Her mom asked us if we wanted to listen to some of her music. Then she plopped in an eight track tape. And guess who it was? Like I said, it was a popular year for Captain and Tennille.

Shanna looks at me and asked,"So what are you going to wear to our wedding?"

The question didn't even phase me as I quickly answered, "I really really want this Batman T-shirt and my mom says we can't afford it. So I'm going to save up and buy it. I'm wearing that to our wedding."

"That's stupid. You can't wear that to our wedding. You have to wear something fancy and nice," she scolded.

"Batman is nice! It is a real nice t-shirt too!" I shot back.

"You can't wear it to our wedding."

"Why not?"

"Because you are marrying ME! That's why not! You need to wear nice shoes, a dress shirt, and a bow tie."

I sighed, "Okay. So what color dress are you wearing?"

"I'm not wearing a dress. I don't like them. Not even for you. I'm wearing A nice white shirt and white pants. I have them in my closet now." She sounded very proud of that fact.

"You can't wear white. You'll get it dirty."

"Then what color should I wear?"

I looked at my lime green frosty drink. "I think you should wear green."

"Boogers are green. I'm not wearing a booger on our wedding day." She shook her head. Then she smiled. "Hey, you wanna see who can drink their Slurpee the fastest? I'll give you a head start."

"Okay!" And I took a big gulp. A few seconds later... "OOOOOOOOUCH!"

"HA HA! Brain freeze! Your so stupid." she began to slurp on her straw.

"No I'm not"

"Yes you are," she said with more confidence than I had used. "That is another reason we need to get married. It's so I can tell you what to do."

"I don't need you tell me what to do!"

"Yes you do. All boys need to be told what to do. That's what girls do. I tell you what to do and you do it. Very simple. So you just better just get used to it."

I couldn't  win with her. I never could. So I was just content in my Slurpee and holding her hand. She was content in being right as usual.

"Your so stupid," she laughs.

"No I'm not! And if I am then why do you want to marry me?"

"That makes no sense. You either are stupid or you're not." She shook her head as if a gesture could say a thousand words. Words I have heard from her before. Then she looked out the window. "Because I like you." She held my hand tighter. I was cool with that.

After a few moments and the end of the song of the year she turns to me and said, "So do you think your parents will come to our wedding? You know, since they're not around much now."

"Shanna," Her mom interrupted, "I think that's enough talk about a wedding. You both are to young for that anyway."

"Okay," we both said. It was quiet for a little while.

Shanna's mom turned down our street for home and Shanna holds my hand even tighter and said, "Hey you wanna see who can drink their Slurpee before we pull into the driveway? I'll give you a head start."

I looked at her and said, "Okay!" You can assume what happened next.

There were more trips to the corner store that year. I heard that damn click of the eight track tape in her mother's car to the song that wouldn't fade away over and over again. Shanna and I held hands, drank Slurpees, and watched the pinball tournaments in the back of the store by the bathrooms next to the bucket of mop water. Despite what was going on at home, I felt good.

Then one day she calls me over to her house. She tells me that things are going way to fast and we have to call off the wedding. She gives me her red Ronald McDonald plastic watch to remember her by. I give her my Lime green Hamburglar watch. She hugged me. Weird. At first. I went home to my Grandmother's house. Shanna didn't tell me they were moving. A few days later she was gone. The neighborhood felt different after that. It felt like winter all the time. Cold and empty. There was no one to get in trouble with. Shanna was right. I was stupid. I never really knew what she meant with all the talk about weddings. I thought it was just a game. Why did she hug me? Why did she always want to hold hands? I didn't have a clue. But I sure missed it when she was gone.

When you are a kid you are always caught in little white lies. Everything is little when you are a kid. But suddenly things start getting bigger. No one took me to the corner store anymore. Captain and Tennille lied. Love can't keep us together. Now Shanna was gone just like everyone else in my life. I started to realize how she had managed to show me how good life was... my life... our life. Then one day it's all gone and all your left with is a stupid song in your head.

My mom came back for my sister and me a few months later. My parents tried the family thing again a few months after that. I always thought my mom and dad needed to hear that song. Maybe there life together would have been as simple as mine Shanna's was. Maybe not. My parents are still together and now I have my own family. I wonder how Shanna's life turned out. All I know is that I'll always remember her whenever I walk into a convenient store that has a Slurpee machine. I'll think of her when I smell the mixture of mop water, motor oil, bad air fresheners, and cheesy nachos accompanied by the sounds and lights of a pinball machine. It is funny how some of the weirdest things help you to remember some pretty good times. And they may not have been long winded but they are times just as important in developing who you are. Apparently this song reminds me of my buddy Shanna too. It is such bad song, but It made me realize in my car that was stopped at the green light the other day that I AM stupid. Love does keep us together if only for a short moment in time in our hearts. Do you remember when the coolest thing in the world was holding hands. I do. I need to remember to do more of that.

So, for old times sake, as Humphery Bogart once said, "Play it again Sam."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BURIAZwJkPc&feature=related

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tales from the Mushroom



I love B-movies! I hope to be in one some day. I have a lot of great ideas. Here is one I can't wait to star in. It is an Indiana Jones meets Planet of the Apes theme.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hat of the Week!

I LOVE top hats! Today's winner is responsible for bringing them back in fashion. There are still some positive sides to hard rock. Thanks Slash for making me look stylish in my over the top hat.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hat of the Week!

This one goes out to the queen of the hats, Audrey Hepburn. She has worn some of the greatest creations. I have been looking for this hat everywhere.  I found a lamp shade like this one in a garage sale once, but the guy wanted way too much for it.

Advice from Mr. Hatter

Mr. Hatter, 

Offshore drilling isn't the problem here. I grew up on the gulf coast and in the industry and am all too familiar. What happened there was a catastrophic failure and is not the norm. I acknowledge and support the need for alternative technologies, but they are not here today and if they are, they do not provide enough energy for the masses to be cost effective (wind, solar). God gave us oil just as he gave us the alternatives, so we must use it in the most responsible manner possible. You can't govern based on emotion and fear which is also what the US is good at. I support our oil and gas industry and those working in it. 

Corn as a fuel is just another joke. It takes more energy to produce ethanol (corn based) than you get out of it? It drives up corn prices because the fuel use competes with the food use. How is that cost effective or smart when you'll pay more to eat it or put it in your tank? And wind farms? I'm all for it but from my understanding you'd need thousands of farms the size of the one they just completed off the east coast to equal the output generated by oil. I'm all for alternatives but at this point, they're complimentary products at best. Drill here, drill now. What do you suggest we do?


Signed,
Drill Baby Drill



Dear Baby Driller,

This isn't about finding alternative fuels. The resources and technology are there. This is about greed. Toooo many people make big money keeping the industry afloat rather than branching out into alternative resources. Solar and wind have the potential to go a long way but oil lobbyists have been extremely effective in shutting down many projects before they get started. One of their biggest claims is that alternative energy isn't cost effective right now to explore. Huh? Yet we keep throwing our money into a resource that won't exist if our usage continues like it is.

It reminds me of the whaling industry in America around its peak in 1846-52 in search of whale oil. Whalers kept killing. Whales kept dying. Fewer and fewer were to be found. The ships had to go out further and further. Whaling ships used to be out only for 4 months at a time. Then it became years. The longest voyage at that time was recorded at 11 years. The whale was becoming extinct. Then, ironically, along came oil and saved the whale. The industry finally changed gears about 1927. Who knows what might have happened if the drilling... I mean whaling continued.

Our consumption is killing us. We are too reliant on this form of energy. As a result of this ease to consume we have become lazy. Now where am I going with this? Try walking to the store instead of jumping in your car. Ride your bike to work. Health problems are on the uprise and diseases like diabetes (which was once thought only to be hereditary) have taken a strong hold. Obesity is taking over. We are not exercising enough. Sounds like I'm reaching, but I'm not. It is easy to find healthy and alternative ways to travel. Some believe it is easier to turn on the gas pump... until there isn't anything left to pump.

This isn't some hippie dippy radical liberal cause. We need to examine history. We need to THINK and find better ways to produce energy that keeps the earth a green environment to live in. Our consumption doesn't only use up the oil. The rain forests are dying at a rapid rate as well do to pollution. Animals are becoming extinct. That might not mean anything to some people, but I believe in karma. There is no law or rule that says people will live forever and won't become extinct someday as well. WE NEED to leave behind an Earth to inherit. 


With the upmost sincerity,
Mr. Hatter




Friday, May 7, 2010

Hat of the Week!



The Derby seems to making a comeback. I have been seeing this icon everywhere. Strange little hat really. Round all the way around. Let us not forget some of the memorable faces that put on the hat. It takes a unique person to pull it off. Or maybe a round head. Think about Charlie Chaplin or that psycho in "Clockwork Orange". I don't think I could pull it off. The hat I mean. I already got the psycho thing down. Heheheheh!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Advice from Mr. Hatter

Mr. Hatter,

I am so tired of liberals using race cards and using that issue to gain an advantage in society. The reason that Arizona made the Arizona Immigration Law was because without it, the only action that the state could take against an illegal alien was to turn them over to INS and we have seen what an effective job they have done. With this law, Arizona is saying that being an illegal alien in their State is now a State crime and can be prosecuted at the State level. The first offense is jail time up to 6 months and a fine of up to $2,500. This has nothing to do with racial profiling. It is a State exerting its rights to govern within their borders. That is a right given to them by the Constitution. If their law were illegal then this would be a different debate.


Our government has procedures now in place to prevent companies from hiring illegals so I don't feel industry is that big a problem. But day labor where a person goes to a gathering spot of illegals and hires a illegal for the day and pays whatever he wants to to paint a house or plant flowers is not fair to the illegal or to the legals here. That is a problem that fuels illegal immigration and I don't think anyone knows how to fix that issue I know I am not smart enough to. But I do know this bill in Arizona is not meant to harass or racial profile citizens. It is meant to provide the state law enforcement agencies the ability to do what our federal government has failed to do that is protect citizens from crime committed by illegals. There is a drug war raging between Mexican authorities and drug cartels on the south side of our border and it does spill over the border at times. If this war continues south of the border and our federal government does not protect its citizens on our side of our border then the states will have to do the job. The lack of the feds to do so is purely politics and the need to protect votes for both parties. That is a the true problem and is not right like I said maybe we should start arresting the politicians who do not uphold the oath they take when they are sworn in. 

Remember, they are not banning legal aliens or immigrants, just the ones that break the law to get here. Wrong is wrong. I came here legally, the others that come here should too.

Signed,
Legal 



Dear Legal,

I too do not begin to claim I have all the answers. I know about the rancher that was killed in Arizona after he caught drug traffickers n his land. There is a drug war going on, but I feel that has more to do with legalizing marijuana than chasing down illegal immigrants. Jobs are being given to illegal immigrants at poor wages. The jobs these workers are finding however are usually in poor conditions at poverty wages. Not the typical career that our fellow Americans look for in finding employment. These jobs are usually the worst of the worst. I think there needs to be a better program that is available that allows immigrants to come into this country and work for their visa. The problem is that the law that was past makes everyone look suspicious. If racial profiling isn't a part of this law, then just what is the definition of racial profiling? I mean isn't it when you look at someone and based on those looks pull them over and ask questions.....using looks as probably cause? Legal definition: Probable cause is a level of reasonable belief, based on facts that can be articulated, that is required to sue a person in civil court or to arrest and prosecute a person in criminal court. Before a person can be sued or arrested and prosecuted, the civil plaintiff or police and prosecutor must possess enough facts that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the claim or charge is true.

The probable cause standard is more important in Criminal Law than it is in Civil Law because it is used in criminal law as a basis for searching and arresting persons and depriving them of their liberty. Civil cases can deprive a person of property, but they cannot deprive a person of liberty. In civil court a plaintiff must possess probable cause to levy a claim against a defendant. If the plaintiff does not have probable cause for the claim, she may later face a Malicious Prosecution suit brought by the defendant. Furthermore, lack of probable cause to support a claim means that the plaintiff does not have sufficient evidence to support the claim, and the court will likely dismiss it.

In the criminal arena probable cause is important in two respects. First, police must possess probable cause before they may search a person or a person's property, and they must possess it before they may arrest a person. Second, in most criminal cases the court must find that probable cause exists to believe that the defendant committed the crime before the defendant may be prosecuted.

There are some exceptions to these general rules. Police may briefly detain and conduct a limited search of a person in a public place if they have a reasonable suspicion that the person has committed a crime. Reasonable suspicion is a level of belief that is less than probable cause. A police officer possesses reasonable suspicion if he has enough knowledge to lead a reasonably cautious person to believe that criminal activity is occurring and that the individual played some part in it. In practice this requirement means that an officer need not possess the measure of knowledge that constitutes probable cause to Stop and Frisk a person in a public place. In any case, an officer may not arrest a person until the officer possesses probable cause to believe that the person has committed a crime.


 Now on the home front, technically, I'd like to remind everyone that if you are Caucasian then your ancestry is from Europe, which makes your an immigrant. The people that are native to North America had their land stolen from them by immigrants. Is that what so many people are afraid of here? That our way of life will be taken over by yet another group of immigrants. The majority of people that fear about their God given rights to protect their borders have ancestors that came to the same shores and borders in search of a better life. Why would anyone want to leave THEIR country for OURS. Lets see... maybe opportunity. Maybe freedom. Maybe out of fear that their family will not survive another year of persecution in their home land. Poverty. Many sailed to this country before it was settled all those years before immigration laws for those very reasons.

No, I believe the issue is much greater than that. Racial profiling is another word for racism. Plain and simple. That is really what is being said. That is why Native Americans were stuck on reservations usually out in areas of poor agriculture in hopes of killing off a species. That is the reason we created concentration camps in WWII in order to round up all the oriental looking people. You could yell "Pearl Harbor!", but not one of those prisoners that were sent to American concentration camps flew a plane or bombed a US Navy vessel. It is why our country fought against equal rights for so many years. You can tell a woman she doesn't have the right to vote because she doesn't have a penis, even though she can compassionately make better decisions than a man. You can spray down with a hose a person of African descent if they yell for equal opportunity. You can try to humiliate them. You can beat them in order to try and repress their natural feeling to me human like you or me. But no matter how hard you beat a person, you can't beat the color off their back. Therefore, you can't beat down who they are and the pride that goes along with a persons heritage. And yet there is still small minded thinking in this country that believes that you can. People racing to the borders with guns to protect our homeland from strangers. Remember the Alamo? Oh wait... I lost my place... what side am I talking about again? I guess it is our schools fault for not teaching AMERICAN HISTORY the way it needs to be taught. If anything we can also learn from World History and what the Jewish people had to endure and overcome. They didn't show their green cards to authorities in Germany because they were already required to wear stars.

There are those that say we can't open our borders to just anybody. People come into this country illegally because they feel like they do not have many options otherwise. It is hard to obtain anything, especially citizenship, when you have nothing of your own (including a country that doesn't support you) to start out with. If we can create a system that allows immigrants to inter into this country and be productive American citizens, then I say why not.  We are all originally from other parts of the globe. We bring our cultures to this land and share our experiences with each other. That is what makes the UNITED States of America the ultimate dream of freedom for so many immigrants. It is the freedom of being able to live in our own skins without persecution.
What, other than appearance, would make a law enforcement official "reasonably suspect" that someone was here illegally? I think Arizona needs to rethink and come up with a better plan instead of a plan for attack.


Sincerely,
Mr. Hatter

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Conversation

I had a dream. In it I died. Not sure how, but I was headed up to that Dinner's Club in the Sky. You know, that special V.I.P. place we all hope we can get into when we keel over. When I arrived everything had this golden look to it. I could smell lavender but could visualize no purple. I saw these two massive gate doors that looked like they were for elephants. The gates were intense to look at with all of it's shining gold bars. I had never seen anything like them before. They were either specially made or they were found at a really gaudy garage sale up in the heights. You know, Bill Gates territory. Anyway, there were a lot of people there just sitting around and waiting. I wasn't sure what for. The glare from the gates was so intense that I could barely make out the figure of an older man hunched over behind a tall podium. I walked up to the man. He looked like he was in charge.


"Excuse me sir. Could you tell me where I am?" I politely asked while putting a hand over my brow to create shade.


"1,0.... 24," the man called out. His voice was cracking, tired, horse, and sounded like he needed water.


"What was that you said?" My eyes were finally starting to adjust to the light as I lowered my hand.


Time seemed to stand still as he reached for a glass of water on top of the tall podium. His slow and elderly frame finally reached the glass and he took a long drink. I could hear every gulp as it went down. He then cleared his throat and said much more clearly, "1,024".


"1024?" I asked.


"Oh yes, is that you?" His eyes opened a little more as he looked down to see me.


"Uh,... no I don't think so."


"Then you will have to wait your turn," he announces in a big booming voice as he turns his head to what appears to be a book on top of the podium."


"Well, when is my turn?" I wondered.


"Did you take a number?" His look was as condescending as that of a postal worker.


"What number?" I asked.


"You must take a number if you want to be called upon. You'll find the ticket dispenser over there by that apple tree." His long fingers stretched out across the golden horizon stirring up amber dust as he pointed the way to a tree with golden apples swaying in the distance.


I walked over. I pulled a piece of paper that had a number on it. 10,164 is what it said. What number did he just call out? OH MAN!


"Pssst. Hey buddy. I'll uh.... I'll trade you that number for a ssshorter one," this voice whispers from no where. The voice had a hissing sound to it.


I looked to the left and then to the right. No one. I start to walk off and I felt this tapping on my right shoulder. I turn around and there was a snake hanging from a tree branch just staring at me.


"I can get you a better number," said the snake. He keeps looking from the left to the right as if he were making sure no one was watching. "I have plenty of low numbersss over here. You look like hard working Joe that could ussse a break. Why wait? You heard what number he called out. YOU sssaw what number you pulled."


The offer was tempting. I hate waiting in line. But... I don't know... this snake looked shifty. I mean what if that old guy isn't going in numerical order and the snake gives me a number that has already been called? What if I'm next! I looked around. There are thousands of people sitting, standing, and just waiting around. And I just got here. The snake is probably trying to screw me over. But maybe he is a good snake. Yeeeeah right. Who am I kidding. It is a talking snake. Those are the worst kind.


"No thanks," I said, "I'll just wait."


"Sssuit yourssself kid. There are more and more people that come this way by the hour. By the minute. By the sssecond. That number you have in your hand maybe more or lessss depending on how you look at it. So I would way my optionsss a little more carefully if you want to get to the podium to talk to old St. Peter. If you catch my drift."


"St. Peter! Where am I?!! What's going on here?!!!" I feel alarmed even though I already know what has happened.


"Oh, no one told you?" The snake twisted and curled up playfully like a fishing bait trying to catch a whopper. "You poor silly sap. If you are here then you couldn't possibly be there. And if you are not there then that must make you exxxtinct, exxxpired, or sssimply removed from another reality all together."


"You mean... DEAD!"


"The very end of life'sss punctuation my friend. You are nothing more. But at leassst you are not DOWN there. Well not yet anyway. Quite frankly you don't look like you cold handle it. St. Peter reads your review and discusses with you your optionsss."


"Options for what? Is this a job interview?"


"Immortality of courssse." The snake stretches himself over towards me. "Everyone must passss by here to get to over there, or Down there, or where every there is for you. Everyone mussst answer to sssomebody for the life they have lived. If you didn't, then you wouldn't be here. You would already be sssomewhere elssse." the snake manages to be grinning at me the whole time he is talking. I want to smack that sarcastic sinister smile off his face.


I needed to walk around. I had a lot to think about. "Look I gotta go. I need to walk around a bit."


"That'sss probably a great idea. You are going to be here awhile. Get to know the placcce. We can talk busssiness later. Before you go, perhapsss you could take a long a little fffood fffor ttthought. Hungry? You gotta try one of these golden deliccciousss applesss. Go ahead take one with you." An apple rolled down the spine of the silky green hanging snake right to the top of his head. He leaned his head in with the apple on top just like someone's hand offering you a gift.


"Like I said before, no thanks." The light surrounding the tree was growing darker compared to that of the podium. It started to feel cold in that spot under the shade of the golden apple tree. The asp had stopped smiling. I simply walked away.


I must have been there for what seemed like days, months, and even years. The tired old voice called out number after number. No one talked to each other. It was like waiting in line at the D.M.V. just trying to renew your license. One by one a person would approach the towering podium and speak with the St. Peter. Some had long conversations with him, some short, and for a few the golden doors just opened allowing the lucky ticket holder to pass through. Most everyone was allowed through the giant golden gates. The gates looked new and sparkled but sounded like rust and grinding metal every time they open. It sounded like a huge vault door when the closed.


"10,163," a voice boomed out waking me from a half dazed delirium.


A little old lady stood up and walked over to St. Peter. It was one of the longest discussions at the podium, but I was alert and anxious because my number was next. She was finally permitted to pass. The grinding gates opened once again. When they finally closed I was ready. But St. Peter didn't announce the next number. It was like being at the bank when you get all the way to the front to see a teller open and then they put up a sign in their window that says "out to lunch" and you just have to keep waiting. Then... finally it happened.


"10,165," the voice boomed.


"All right! Fina... what a minute!" My number was 10,164. There has been a mix up. I hear it again.


"10,165."


"Excuse me, excuse me," I rush past a man trying to approach the podium while texting on his cell phone and juggling his brief case. "You skipped over my number! You missed 10,164. That was my number. I have been here for a while now and I think it's my turn." I was out of breath by the time I reached St. Peter.


"No. No mistake. There is no 10,164."


"Yes, yes there is. I have it right here in my hand." I show him the ticket.


He squints and looks at it. Then wads up the paper and throws it over his left shoulder. "Doesn't exist."


"But it is right there. You were holding it in your hand."


He has a sour look on his face. Obviously St. Peter doesn't like to be corrected. I'm guessing I'm not earning brownie points here. "NAME," he demands as he thumbs through his big book.


"Keith," I said as I start to look for my I.D. but I realize dead people probably don't carry that with them when they die. It is doubtful that anyone really gets carded here. "Keith Lee."


"Middle name?"


"I don't really give that out."


"MIDDLE NAME PLEASE!"


"Look, can't you look in that book under my name and the date I arrived. I can give you my social security number."


The big guy sighed out of weakened frustration from having to deal with people like me for centuries. "Very well then. Keith Lee. Keith Lee. No that's not you. Keith Le... oh yes. There you are." He closes the book. He writes something down. "10,165."


"Whoa, wait a minute! What about me?"


"You are not suppose to be here. So you can not really be here if you are not suppose to be here."


"But I'm here! I'm standing right in front of you! You can see me. So I must be here."

I'm trying not to panic at this point.


St. Peter looks at me for a moment. "Not according to the book. The book says you should still be on earth. So THAT is where you are."


"WELL, the BOOK is WRONG!"


"SIR, the BOOK is never WRONG! It clearly states that KEITH W. LEE is still and occupant on the planet earth. The fact that you are here probably suggest that you are lost."


"AHA! So you admit that I AM here."


"No. I admit that you are not where you should be. Lost, confused, finding yourself, or any number of circumstances could apply. Your physically being here has no baring on the issue. Now if you will excuse me and please step out of the way. I really must continue. There are so many people to see."


"Step out of the way where? Here? Over there? Somewhere else? Where do I stand to get out of the way if I'm not even HERE TO BE IN THE WAY IN THE FIRST PLACE!"


St. Peter slams his hand down hard on the book and looks at me sternly. "If it is not your time, then you can not be here now. If you should not be here now then you are wasting my time."


"Am I dead or not?" I calmly asked in hopes of trying to regain control.


"I can't answer that. What I can say is that when people pass away they first have to come by here. And here is not there. If you are suppose to be there then you have seriously taken a wrong turn."


"Well is it possible that I have died and I should have gone to hell considering that hell is DOWN there and not here or over there? Should I go check? Where is that place? Can you call someone and find out, please?"


"It is very hard to reach anyone down there. They have a high turn over rate. I wouldn't recommend it. Besides if you were suppose to be down there then you would have been collected already. They are always looking for people."


"Well do you have a waiting room? Some place I can go and figure things out. You know... what's that place called... Purgatory?"


"Sir, Purgatory is not a waiting room. It is a place or state of suffering inhabited by the souls of sinners who are expiating their sins before coming here. You are not dead, so you can not go there. Besides it is full right now."


"Full! With who?"


St. Peter looked embarrassed. "We have several people from A.I.G. Financial in there right now."


"Oh. How is that going?"


"Not good. They think Jesus is going to come through with a bailout package for them." He looks off in the distance as if pointing the way to Purgatory.


The answer throws me for a bit but I come through quickly, "Well then should I just sit here on the corner until I figure things out?"


"I'm afraid not. There is no loitering here," as St. Peter points to a sign on the gate.


I look around and see a man hunched over deep in thought. "What about that guy in the crazy Elvis Presley jump suit? He has been sitting here for a long time now. Even before I got here."


"That IS Elvis Presley, and he has permission to be here. He has some questions he still needs to answer. He just needs a little time to search out the answers."


"Well, why can't I just sit here and think?"


"BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSE TO BE HERE!!!!" St. Peter has clearly lost his cool by this point.


So had I. "I'm tired of this run around! What is going on? Just answer me. What am I doing here? For that matter what am I doing? What was... is life about? What is death? WHAT IS ANY OF THIS?!! Did I not do enough to justify my life so I'm not allowed to die now?"


The tired old man for the first time put on a slight grin. He stepped down from his alter. He fished around in his pocket and retrieved a chain. As he slowly pulled on the chain a pocket watch appeared. The surface was worn and had lost the luster it once appeared to have had. Not the typically item you would find in a place of riches. He opened the watch up and held it in front of me.


"Can you see the hands?" he asked.


There were millions of hands rotating. Billions of clocks inside this pocket watch. Some fast and some slow.


"Focus on just one pair of hands and tell me what you hear," he said.


It took me a little while but I finally focused on set of hands.


"A heart beat. I can hear a heart beat." I answered.


With every tick there was the sound of a heart beating. He then pointed to a pair of hands.


"Watch and then tell me what you hear," he said sadly.


The hands slowed down as well as the sound of the heart beat. Then the hands stopped. There was no more beating sound. The next sound was that of St. Peter closing the pocket watch. I was so intensely looking at it that he startled me with the sound of the watch quickly closing.


"It was her time. She will be here soon. Yours was still ticking. It isn't your time," he said with a faint and nurturing smile. "Go back home. Enjoy the time that you DO have."


I felt water rolling down my check. "Home? Home? What am I suppose to be doing there? How do I make a difference?"


"I'm sorry but I can't tell you that. That is confidential and classified information," he said with a smile. "What I can tell you is that you have time to figure that out."


"Can I ask one question and get a direct answer?" I asked.


St. Peter thought for a moment. You could see his emotions betraying his logic as his face relaxed and eyes opened wider to say, "Yes".


I walked over to Elvis. He was sitting on the ground just staring. He was lost in thought when I broke his concentration. He seemed surprised that someone had walked up to him. I thought for a minute about the question I was going to ask. Was it even worth asking? Then I decided that every question in life is worth asking.


"Why did you do it?" I asked. No introduction. I just jumped into the question. "You had everything. Why would you take those pills? Why end it the way that you did?"


Elvis looked at me as a child being scolded. Then his eyes shifted and he knew the answer to my question. He looked back at me and opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He couldn't speak. He was fighting back the tears in his eyes. He looked away and then put his hands in both his hands and cried.


"Why would you ask a question that you already knew the answer to?" St. Peter's voice came from behind me.


"I just wanted to hear someone, anyone say it," I answered back.


I knew the answer all along. When given every opportunity in life we often squander it away. We exploit our riches and bathe in our ignorance of thinking that who we are far more important than the world around us. In the end we realize that if we don't contribute to a cause other than our own ego we begin to fade away only to cave in on ourselves. There is a reason why we are born. There is a reason why we live. There is a reason why we die. There is a reason to everything.


I woke up. I wrote this dream down as soon as I could so I wouldn't forget it. I thought long and hard about the meaning of this dream. I want to make a difference in this life time. I want to know that I left HERE in better shape than I had arrived. I also realized something else very important about myself. In the future I should never eat Blue Bell's Pecan Pralines 'n Cream ice cream 30 minutes before bedtime.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Advice from Mr. Hatter

Mr. Hatter,

In a recent interview, John Mayer reconfirmed that we have not progressed much since the times of the Civil Rights movement. It seems that he feels somehow connected with people of other races, so much so that he can insult and ignore a long and tired road it has been to equality. I guess he knows what it was like to march with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the front steps of Washington. Has Mr. Mayer ever sat at the back of a bus? Has he ever been denied a table at a restaurant? Has he ever been told that he doesn't have the right to speak his mind based on the color of his skin? I seriously doubt that he has had much conflict in his young and successful life. 

So here is a curve ball right back at you John Mayer. White performers have always have always had success from claiming Black artists works. I can only imagine this is the case for Mayer since he shows so little lack of respect for his so called "BROTHERS" or an entire race by using the word "NIGER" and claiming to be one. I tried to ignore the babbling opinions of an over rated pop star, but turning my back on the issue makes me feel as guilty as the person that committed the crime. Go back 30, 40, or even 50 years. Would Mayer be another man with a guitar around his neck or just another obstacle with a whip in his hands? We do not chose to be politically correct when the mood strikes us. We have to make it a way of life for the future and the past. 

What is your take on this? If you proclaim to truly give people advice, then I'm curious to see how you would address a topic as serious and painful as this exhausting cry for equality. Do you even have the courage to address the issue?  

 Signed,

Me, and a history of being proud of it 


Dear Mr. or Miss Proud,

I am extremely grateful for you insight. I love to talk about things I know little about. But occasionally I come across a topic that I understand all too well. I don't find myself lacking the courage to talk about the topic of racism but it makes me feel very sad that we STILL are. I don't, however, give up hope that future generations look back and think "how could that be?" after finding the answers to the dream.
Let me start by saying that a fool never worries what others will think regarding what he or she has said. Knowing this, you must understand that the wisest man was once the greatest fool. Why else would he climb the highest peak by himself only to spend his days thinking in solitude? For the most part it is because he has alienated everyone around him and now needs the time alone to reflect on his decisions. In no way am I calling John Mayer wise. Just listen to his music for that enquiry. What I am saying is that Johnny Boy needs to find a mountain to climb and stay up there until he is ready to come down and be a man. 
I am not here to defend the babbling immaturity of a fool. But I can not deny that I have been one myself. What starts out so innocently as curiosity on the playground, turns into (if not monitored or nurtured) a bitter attack on everything different from ourselves while even alienating us from our own flesh. The color of our skin is easy to detect and differentiate. But it goes past that. Is it a boy or a girl? Where is he from? What church does she go to? Is he dating him? Well, you know... those people always do that. We start grouping, isolating, finger pointing, and insulting everything that doesn't fall under "OUR" category. 

The funny thing is that if you turned our bodies inside out you couldn't tell each other apart. 

"Was that David?" 

"No I think that was Tom."

"How can you tell?"

"Tom is taller."

"OOOOOHHHH yes, of course." And then it begins to start all over again.

Am I saying that the age old problem is human nature? Well being different is human nature. It is also human nature to process, evaluate, and make logical conclusions on how to coexist with each other. It is human nature to love. We are one of the few species on this planet that have that capability. We are primal but our ability to comprehend the world around us is a true gift. We can rise above our own ignorance. I have never enjoyed racist or sexiest jokes, but I have heard them. So that must mean that I was listening. As a child I lashed out even though it felt wrong. It was being done to me so why not do it back.  I said things I heard others say, even towards friends. One day I realized I didn't have to listen to the jokes. It was okay to speak through my heart and tell people they were out of line. I began to grow up and value the differences in culture, language, and color. I value the differences in each other. That is something I spread around very freely. You are right Proud, you have to work on it everyday and I did.

In Martin Luther King's last speech he said, "Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!"

I believe that land is here and that time is now. That is the hope I carry around in my pocket. Times are changing. Little by little we are spreading the word that racism is wrong. My kids have the same color of skin that I do, but I will never let them forget all the generations, nationalities, struggles that were met with victories, and beautiful colors it took to pave the road we are on to that mountain Dr. King spoke of. Slowly we have changed our narrow minded opinions of each other. There is still work to do but together we can change the world.

Sincerley,

Mr. Hatter




Friday, March 5, 2010

Hat of the Week!

This weeks winner is that stylish vamp in the cult Japanamation classic "Vampire Hunter D". Dracula never looked so cool. I'm telling you it is all about the hat!

Phat Cat Says...

The world is made of water 
She is extreme
At times her touch is gentle
But she can be violent and stern

She is both calming and unforgiving
She roars and crashes in her shores 
As if clutching her hand
Reaching, clawing, and screaming
I want you back
I want what left me so long ago
But she easily lets go

She knows land will be hers again
She sustains it
She molds it
She nourishes it
 She cultivates it 
She never let's us forget
The world is made of water
Be careful how you use her 


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Green Eggs and .....Dr. Seuss



Today March the 2nd is Dr. Seuss' birthday. He was born Theodor ("Ted") Seuss Geisel on March 2, 1904. I remember as a wee lad the first time I saw one of his books. I was five and I was in the dentist waiting room. "Green Eggs and Ham" was the book. The thought of eating just the green eggs made me feel sick. I usually thought of green food when my mom cleaned out the refrigerator. All that fuzzy green smelly stuff. That will put a Wocket in your Pocket. I was feeling pretty queasy which really didn't make it easy to see the dentist. I didn't even get to the ham before we had to go.

Still, their was something to that plate of potentially bad food Sam was trying to pawn off. I always stuck to my guns when it came to not eating food I didn't like. And yet Sam sold that plate with a smile. I wouldn't eat it, but what a sells man! Would you like them here or there? The boy just didn't give it up. My Dad would have been pounding the table telling me to eat my food. He never once asked me if I would like it in a car, eat them eat them here they are. I might have eaten my dinner in a boat. Hell, I might have eaten it with a goat. My parents just didn't ask in the right way I'm sorry to say.

"Cat in the Hat" scared the hell out of me! Here is this really big cat that could probably eat the kids faces off and he was totally destroying the house even when the kids were begging him not to. NO SUPERVISION!!!! Where were the parents? I didn't trust that cat. I was so totally down with the fish. That cat can't be trusted. And then on the back inside cover.....there he was.....looking into the widow with that...that...cat face of his. They made us read that in school....how very very cruel.

Still, there was something to Dr. Seuss. There was such chaos in every story that kept you turning the pages to find out if you could find some sort of calm normal solution to the mess the Doctor prescribed. The pictures were insane. The words rhymed but they were not real words. My mother would always tell me to not make words up and yet here I was reading wuzit, woozit, and whoozit. Shrock lock a bing bock, what is a kid to do? The books taught me to read. They taught me to draw. They taught me to use my imagination. They kept me young. They kept me reading

While every Who down in Whooville raises their young, I grow up and begin to raise mine. I force feed Dr. Seuss down my daughter with every once of my imagination. I read in characters, make sound effects. and read so fast that my tongue makes slips and back flips. I do this every night and the only thing she is able to do is listen. Then she remembers the sound effects. Then she talks in the character's voices. Then she reads to her little brother without knowing how to read. Now she reads to him knowing how to read and asking what kind of words are these. Soon both my children will read and forget about what the funny words are supposed to mean and just enjoy the experience.

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss. The Doctor is still one of my all time favorite writers. The pictures are cool, but his imagination is endless. I love to tell my children about all the places you will go. However, I'm a little selfish. I hope that when they get older and pick up a Dr. Seuss book that they are reading to someone special, but that it doesn't remind them of a scary dentist office, or bad food in the fridge. I hope...I hope...In every once of their heart.... that they remember.......me.



Friday, February 26, 2010

Hat of the Week!

The infamous voodoo hat worn my the great Jimi Hendrix. It was all about the hat baby.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Advice From Mr. Hatter

Hatter,

My wife doesn't understand THE GAME. I know the seasons of the year by what sporting event is on the TV. Every weekend  I turn on the boob tube and open up a cold one. Then I get that look from her. "You are drinking now", or the old all time favorite, " Well I guess your day is over". It's THE GAME! I'm a guy! That is what we do! That is why they call it the WEEK-END! How do I get her to understand.


Signed,
Pissed Off Before Kickoff


Dear Mr. Pissed,

I don't watch many games because I play them all week. The ones involving the mind I find most interesting. Being a regular patron of the drink, however, is where I can relate to you. In my world, clocks never work so I have adapted the old philosophy that it must be 5:00 somewhere. Hehehehe! The only problem with that is if there is an open bar that is always at happy hour with no signs of closing time, then life and liver can totally become inoperable.

There must be a work to play time ratio that allows you the ying yang your life and wife need on the home front. Try this formula:

1) Wake up late on Saturday with a good spooning hold to the missus. Morning snuggles buys you points lat er on in the weekend. Add one hour for time to clean up and make yourself look presentable. You may be married, but you captured her interests once before, so keep throwing out the bait. Did you like the sporty fishing term? HAHAHA!

2) Add 30 minutes to dress the part. Need to work in the yard? Change the oil in the old moving carriage? A uniform makes the man look important. Every sport has a uniform. At least walk around the house with tools. Not only does it make you look busy, but it adds that mystery that women love. What is he doing now? Remember too that sweat becomes attractive when it is applied to fixing something, and YES, there is always something to fix.

3) For every child add one hour for good fatherly time. Don't forget to throw in the occasional "shit my father says" quotes. This is how your children will truly remember you and this is your legacy. Funny banter whether meant for a joke or lack of intelligence is always memorable and meaningful.

4) Add two hours and 30 minutes for housework. Make yourself look busy and try and break a sweat. If you can't break a sweat then throw some water on your forehead when the Missus isn't looking. But if you are really doing the housework, then sweating won't be a problem. Feel the pain.

5) If you have a yard then add two hours and 45 minutes. No yard, then home projects time or work on the old car. You can shoot for two hours here but don't forget to clean up. Yes, you have to be responsible for your messes now. Mama doesn't live with you anymore.

6) Add 1 hour to help with dinner. By this point it should be beer-thirty. Of course the minute you sit down on the couch you will fall asleep before you get that first cold one. The game is probably over by this point too. That is why the gods created TVO. But don't forget the dishes and getting those kids in bed. Add another two hours for this after you read to them. Think of speed reading as a sport and try and work on your time for fastest score. I warn you though, that after a while content will take over and you will start reading slower. Content has more difficulty and the judging is a lot higher at this point.

7) WAIT! don't relax yet. Did you walk the dog? Another 45 minutes. Don't forget the baggies or you will be catching crap from the neighbors.

Another option outside of this equation is to have the missus start drinking when you do. I have discovered many things in my world travels, but two lessons apply to this problem. The first is that people get bitchy when they are not included. The other is that people complain because they have a reason to. Don't be that reason. You're married now. If it were not for woman, man would still be scratching his ass staring at the cave wall. Woman was cold and wanted warmth. Man had to create fire. Woman wanted a home with a view. You moved out of the cave and now you live where you do. Welcome to forced productivity and get used to it. When you understand "THAT', then she will understand "THE GAME".

Sincerly,

Mr. Hatter


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hat of the Week!




 





In honor of Mardi Gras there was a tie for  Hat of the week! Check out these great ideas and be inspired at http://www.artistrising.com/shop/tags/carnival_p5.htm 

Monday, February 15, 2010

OWOH Winner!

Thank you to everyone that checked out my blog. I hope you revisit sometime as I plan on making this my therapy sessions. Don't worry, even in my madness I keep a certain level of humor. The best medicine in the world.

I did a random number generator and Debby of The Gathering Nest is the winner of my prize. Thanks again to all who stopped by and I appreciate all the wonderful comments.  For those that became fans or followers I will never let your intellect and need for an alternative outlook down.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Blue

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Gift

By Keith Lee             Copyright 2010



In my house we never throw away old roses. We tie them up by the stems with a piece of thread and hang them upside down so that when they dry out the leaves and petals hold on to some color and don't drop off. You can keep them for many years that way. I think it is an old Gypsy tradition. Little by little they lose a leaf or you find flakes of old decayed color on the counter, but for the most part they keep their shape. They just wither with time. The color loses its luster but what you get in return is the deepest maroons and aged whites from a flat appearance. Spots of black play the remaining color giving it depth. You can see the coarse wrinkles in each fold giving it unexpected texture. Not the youthful surprise package you received many moons ago, but I somehow find these fading illustrations of affection more meaningful over time. 

Affection [uh-fek-shuhn] - a gentle feeling of fondness or liking 

In my house we never throw away old roses. Valentine's Day is the big day for roses. It has become the perfect gift for the day. Giving a  rose is somehow the way we are supposed to show affection. Like a rose is going to sum it all up in one day out of 365. Remember when you were a kid and you went to the store to get those cheesy box of cards that say "BE MINE" or "FOREVER YOURS". I used to really be annoyed with this chocolate-infested holiday. Actually, I didn't hate the cards or the day. I just felt left out. It is easy now to look back and think about how the decisions I made back then triggered the results. But when you are living it, denial is a bitter and ineffective medicine. Anyway, I felt like the biggest loser on this particular day seeing all the flowers, candy, and cards being passed around. I participated, but it takes more than one day of the year to show that someone special how you really feel. How else are they supposed to feel back.

Longing [lawng-ing, long-] - a yearning desire

In my house we tie the roses up by the stems with a piece of thread and hang them upside down so that when they dry out the leaves and petals hold onto some color and don't drop off. I really knew how to save up all that introverted emotion. Somehow even though I didn't have a girlfriend, I became the go-to guy for all the hook, line, and sinkers that would make the modern day Romeos sound as good as they looked. Eventually, however, the boneheads would have to use their own brains. Lucky for them that love in youth is primarily based on the physical. But for some, not even this was enough.

That reminds me of a friend of mine in high school. He would be the last person I helped in the Love Department. We liked the same girl and he convinced me to help him win her over. He insisted that it was for her own good, being that she was too impressionable and would be soon taken over by the jock types. We had to make a stand. I have never been a team player but played along. I decided to treat it as if I were talking to her myself. Cyrano de Bergerac did it, so why couldn't I? Of course, I never read his full story so I didn't really know how Cyrano's ended. Still, I would give my friend advice on what to say and how to counter and interpret her sarcasm.

I even helped him pick out a gift for her. He was frantic and completely brain dead. It was so simple to me. A gift should say how you feel. I briefly thought about picking out a real piece of garbage that would send her to the jock side yelling "GO TEAM GO!", but  I didn't. I picked out the trinket of affection and handed it to him. Naturally he didn't get it. It had clock on it that didn't work. It didn't have to. Time here meant anytime, day or night. There was a key attached to it. What was it supposed to open? Your heart. It is funny because I haven't seen that image in a long time until about a month ago. It is funny what value we put into an object rather that just saying how we feel.

She told him she loved it, and like that it was over for me. I grew up 20 years that day. Crushes are nothing more than an infatuation kids get on the playground. I didn't know this girl and she didn't know me. I didn't know me. I just knew who I wanted to be. I stopped watching MTV and got a guitar. I dressed how I felt by wearing my name on my sleeve. From that time on, I never looked at a girl's face I found desirable without wanting to get to know what moved her world. There is more to a rose than her appearance. Smells, taste, and touch are amazing, but learning what kind rose she is and where she likes to grow is just as intoxicating.

Oh, Lover Boy didn't get the girl but that story has a happy ending. Juliet became a strong and independent woman that holds her own banner. Romeo learned to speak his mind with an ounce of heart, and Cyrano learned to use his own voice.

Intimacy [in-tuh-muh-see] - an intense feeling of deep affection

Little by little the roses lose a leaf or you find flakes of old decayed color on the counter, but for the most part they keep their shape. It took me a long time to realize that the meaning of intimacy did not necessarily coincide with sex. I still challenge that theory from time to time, but real intimacy comes with an inner emotion that is complex to describe. It isn't that primal urge that drives us to the bars or the real meat markets (which for those keeping score, is of course the grocery store) looking for that physical connection. Intimacy is something that develops between two people over time. Chasing that feeling down led me to the high dollar trap of gift giving. But I found that trying to buy your way into someone's heart, through their pants, is shallow and keeps you wandering. You get what you pay for, but like Chinese food, an hour later you're still hungry and looking for more. I now know the art of intimacy by simply holding the woman I love and having a deep conversation. It is the best foreplay around.

Heart [hahrt] - (1) A hollow muscular organ that pumps the blood through the circulatory system by rhythmic constraction and dilation. (2) the heart regarded as the center of a person's thoughts and emotions. esp. love or compassion.

You can see the coarse wrinkles in each fold of a old rose giving it unexpected texture. I have been getting better and better about giving my heart. When I was younger the only chocolates I received on Valentine's Day were from my dad. It use to embarrass me because I got locked into the whole male/female role playing game. Plus I thought he just felt sorry for me. I thought that way until I had kids. Now I do the same thing and try to make the day special for my little ones. Still, up until a couple of years ago I had a hard time giving my son flowers or teddy bears. One year on this special day of flower-giving as we were picking out some roses to give to their mother, I decided to get each of my children one white rose. White in the rose world means love. I thought my daughter would be the one to flip out over it, but it was my son that became attached to this little sign of affection. He carried it around with him for a week.

After about three weeks I took them down to the river with their roses. I told them it was time to give their heart away by letting the rose petals float away and find someone else. We usually don't throw out roses but I decided it was time to show the kids how to give and let go. We pulled the petals off with the "he loves me, he loves me not" words of anticipation. My son had one petal left that he wouldn't let go of. He said it was for him. So I told him to put in his pocket. I followed them as we went back to the car. I saw the white petal leave his pocket and I choose not to say anything. I looked back at it as we walked along and it looked out of place but magical on the woodland floor. When we got back to the car he started looking for it. He got worried. I asked him what he had lost. He told me he lost the "he loves me". I laughed to ease his stress and told him that he didn't need a flower to know that I loved him. He said he knew that but it was pretty. Again, I am amazed at how much thought we put into a small object. Every year since that time I buy both my kids a rose. I'm still a man like my son will be one day, but we both think roses are pretty.

Love [luhv] - an intense felling of deep affection

An old rose is not the youthful surprise package you received many moons ago, but I somehow find these fading illustrations of affection more meaningful over time. 

It is easy to fall in love. It is hard to stay there. The fantasy is that love is this fairy tale ending that brings in only happiness. Let me burst that idealistic bubble for you. Love ain't always pretty boys and girls. I have cleaned up enough messes in my life between emotions, family disputes, diapers, sleepless nights, sicknesses, dust bunnies, and day old dishes to know that love isn't always appealing to look at. I have clothes that still have spit up stains on them from when I burped my babies.You do it because you care. But there are wonderful happy times that make it all worth doing. It is a constant struggle to push and pull forward together that makes love the institution that it is. Truth, honesty and trust are tested daily.

I remember the first year my wife and I started dating. Every night felt like a party. Probably because it was. My head still spins when I look back at all the the events we went to, all the bars we closed, all the sunsets we watched, and all the mini skirts. Yes, I loved to watch her walk across the room... both ways. I couldn't get enough of her. That was falling in love. 

Playing house is something else entirely. Falling in love can get in the way of what I like to call coexisting. You can only live your life but you have to take into constant consideration the thoughts and feelings of your your partner that you chose to spend your life with. Two minds never think alike.

I have heard it said that you should never judge a book by its cover. Love has a pretty alluring hard cover that makes you want to take it home and rip into it. Every page when you start smells so fresh and new that you can tell what kind of paper the story was printed on. It starts off with an adventure that keeps you guessing and you can't wait to turn the next page. But Love is a hard read. The story takes so many twists and turns that you have a hard time believing your reading the same book. The main characters struggle and you wonder if they'll pull it together or go off and live in separate novels. But if you are a strong reader and you don't loose interest easily, you begin to really get into the sometimes spiraling roller-coaster. You start rooting for the characters and you learn that falling in love now becomes being in love. 

When I watch my wife glide across the room now her strut doesn't just have the seductive meaning it did so many years ago. It has much more purpose and confidence now that I know all about her. I know where it all comes from. She can still make heads turn as she walks through a room even though she is older now. I can see the lines in her face that she sometimes tries to hide. I know that they are there. I can see the gray hairs starting to emerge on the sides of her head just above the ears. The light red hair she has hides it most of the time but I know it is there. I can't help but think I am partly responsible for the wrinkles and whitening red flair I feel in love with. Her body has changed. She has had two kids. She has given birth to my kids, our children. Those stretch marks she has I know I am responsible for and I love them. There forever and she did it for us. You can't get a tattoo that says that.

Wanting has become knowing and beauty is in aging. We are still working on our happy ending. Maybe one day we will find it, but I don't consider an ending to be happy. So I'm pleased in the push and pull of everyday life together. She is the one that taught me how to preserve a rose. I'm just passing that knowledge on to you. Don't feel alone this Valentine's Day. I'm thinking about you and I didn't forget. I remember all my family and friends. In our house we never throw away old roses. They may wither with time but the meaning never loses its luster.