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Monday, October 31, 2016

Special note to all who receive my blog posts automatically by email...

If you receive my blog posts by email as millions of you do, I accidentally posted my blog on the Cubs before it was finished. So you all got a short canged, half-baked version of something very religious about the best darned team in baseball, no matter what the World Series may... OR MAY NOT SAY, click  or just scroll down from this post for the new, improved, completed version now corrected. Thanks!

If the Cubs win the World Series, will hell freeze over? Maybe... just maybe!

I've been a Chicago Cubs fan all my life... just one of millions. We live... and die for the Cubbies. But if they win, do we go to heaven? Non-scientific evidence suggests we may not!

There lives a 110-year-old lady who may be the only one alive when the Cubs last won the World Series. She was just two at the time and has suffered 108 years--a lifetime-- of bitter Cub disappointments... a living hell! Now, if the Cubs win, it may spoil everything for her, and all of us.

Buddah says "Life is suffering," to which Cub fans say "Tell us something we don't know." As one writer says, "All religions, to some extent, understand the value of suffering to be 'worthy' of the promised land.

Catholics understand this as the most underappreciated Christian virtue, wrote Michael Laskey, a Yankees-loving National Catholic Reporter columnist.

A rabbi columnist for the Jerusalem Post hailed the Cubs as "the Jews of the sports world," an idea seconded by U.S. Jewish ambassador, Ron Dermer at a Cub game this year.

There are yarmulkes and caps spelling "Cubs" in Hebrew.  And a Hebrew language T-shirt asking "What did Jesus say to he Cubs? Don't do nothin' til I get back."

Well, it could be happening, but down 3 games to 2 at this writing, and going into the 40-year desert of the enemy, we may yet be saved. However, if the Cubs win and we are fulfilled on earth, where will our eternity be. Has all of our suffering triggered an theological apocalypse with God asking "But what have you done for me lately?"

John Sexton, an NYU law professor and theologian wrote "Baseball as a Road to God." But heaven-forbid we spoil it all with a giant W hanging over Wrigley Field or at Jeff's house.

Rabbi Arnold Kantor, in his annual remarks at Yom Kippur services at Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, Illinois sounded depressed at the prospect of the Cubs finally winning the world Series. "We Jews are not happy when we're happy. We need something to kvetch about. Forty years we walked in the desert. For what" To become the damn Yankees."

Aw, it's ok Cubs. As Adrian whispered to Rocky Balboa as he was coming out of a coma and promising to give up boxing, "Win. WIN! WIN!!!" So I'll take the chance.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Song that Changed Christmas

Irving Berlin's famous song, "White Christmas" isn't at all what you think. It has a backstory that literally changed the way we celebrate our most cherished--and profitable--holiday.

"Legend has it," says WSJ writer Will Friedwald, "that Irving Berlin was in Hollywood working on a movie, and missing his family in New York, as he wrote the musical score for (the movie) Holiday Inn.

Berlin was a prodigious song writer with about 1250 to his credit including 25 that reached number one on the pop charts of the day. He wrote "Alexander's Rag Time Band" in 1911, God Bless America in 1918, Easter Parade in 1933, There's No Business like Show Business in 1946  and a LOT MORE , mostly sentimental old favorites... so old and so sentimental that if you are under 40, you perhaps can't even hum the tune, let alone know the song. Hey, times change as they must. I just put my spats in a garage sale last week.

White Christmas, was first sung and played by Bing Crosby for his leading lady as he sat at the piano, and it is still one of the most played songs every Christmas season. If the words are not engraved in your heart, here are the first two verses:

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow
                                                       I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
                                                       With every Christmas card I write
                                                     May your days be merry and bright
                                                   And may all your Christmases be white

Christmas just wasn't as big then as it is now. Oh sure, trees and gifts and Santa... but it was so toned down by comparison that nobody had Christmas sales starting before Thanksgiving. 'Black Friday' was unheard of and sometimes, an apple (not the computer) was a worthy gift. Jingle Bells was the top Christmas song of the day and worse, there was no Charlie Brown special! How did we survive?

White Christmas was first written as a variety number to represent that season in a mix of others, but it was taken to heart and resonated deeply as we were just eight months into World War II, deeply worried and needing something that lifted spirits. There was no Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer or I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. White Christmas was richly flavored to where our hearts and dreams were.

It became the centerpiece of that day's blockbuster movie, Holiday Inn. "The song's first audience," said Friedwald, "comprised soldiers and those on the home front who embraced it as a prayer for peace." And it came on the scene just in time for the introduction of the long-playing record and that new medium, television. It was those two that virtually reinvented Christmas for all the emotionally needy of the time.

As Friedwald said, the song "created its own holiday mythology with itself at the center as a hymn for peace, love and family." And it changed Christmas sentimentality forever.


Two years later, still in the midst of "The Great War,"  Berlin wrote the perfect seasonal follow-up,  I'll Be Home for Christmas  . This link is my blog post on that classic, based on an actual experience. And cry if you must. I did.

Imagine Christmas today without these two songs. It just wouldn't be the same.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Old habits die hard... or "Over my dead body."

Betcha can't do this: zipper merge, that is. And if you are forced to it, bet it makes you mad.

Yes, the incredible, hard to believe, impossible, nonsensical, ridiculously wrong perfect thing is as logical as understanding climate change but it really (*substitute word to follow) 'ticks' us off.

Honk. Honk! HONK! HOOOOOONK!!!!

But it works. The zipper merge has been studied by experts for years and we ALL KNOW it works. It just isn't us. The 'zm' flies against bad logic when we know that driving right up the tail pipe of person in front of us is far more satisfyingly-right?... especially if we are frustrated or in a hurry. And letting some 'rule-breaking scum' into your traffic lane... "Over my dead body."

So I know I sure as heck won't do it*... except sometimes, and then not at the first honk or 'finger.'

I'll tell you, just a few months ago, I was returning to NC from St. Louis and took I 40 because I could 'get away' with 70-75 mph and still not be a radar magnet. (In all fairness, my Vespa scooter is not red so I might have gotten away with a little more.) But on a very pleasant Sunday when traffic is supposed to fly, there were two construction stops that added--no exaggeration-- 2 1/2 stop-and-go hours to the journey. I know, bridge needed repairs, but on Sunday with no workers present, big jam none-the-less.

"I'll get ya' through, baby... "
So if all thousands of us drivers did the zipper merge (to the tempo of "All the way" by Frank Sinatra), we would have zipped home hours earlier, and in a far better mood.

We could have slowed to a decent funeral procession speed, allowed a 3-or-4 car space between us and the driver in front, bobbed our heads back and forth in time with the music and smiled through every slow, God-help-us, mile without speeding to close the gap then slamming on the brakes and stopping till we get to go and speed again, then repeat forever. The catch: everyone has to do it or it doesn't work. (That's like never being able to take an in-focus picture of earth from space because somebody moved.)

OK America, that's the plan. Now let's get out there and just 'do it!'

Right everybody?... Anybody?... aw, never mind.

Notice: This has been a public service blog post because I couldn't think of anything fun to write.

*I actually do, most of the time.