By the Time He Gets to Heaven

 

Before my musical taste shifted to rock, in my teen years, I listened to country and western music as a kid. Johnny Cash was my absolute, all-time favorite, but I also enjoyed hearing folks like Ray Price, Loretta Lynn, Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, Buck Owens, Roger Miller and Tom T. Hall.

And Glen Campbell.

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Glen passed away Tuesday, at the age of 81, after living the last six years with, in my view, the most cruel, insidious affliction to ever befall a person: Alzheimer’s disease.

The thought of my mind slowly and deliberately eroding, eventually leaving me unable to dress myself, feed myself, or remember anyone I’ve ever known and loved, while those loved ones helplessly watch…

Rest in Peace, Glen. Your suffering is over.

Peace and comfort to you, Campbell family. You don’t have to witness it anymore.

 

Glen had the good looks, the mellifluous voice, and the instrumental skills, and he was an immensely popular recording artist, especially in the late 1960’s and ’70’s. He had tremendous crossover success, earning Grammy awards in 1968 in country and pop music. He sold an estimated 45 million records over his career.

(I’m not going to get into the toll his success took on him, personally, because really, there’s no need to do that here. Suffice it to say, he came out the other side of it.)

Above all that, though, was just the joy, the love of performing, that made him a star. You could see it every week in the late 1960’s and early 70’s on his variety TV show, “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.” He put his heart into everything he sang; from the bouncy, infectious “Southern Nights”, to the resolutely optimistic “Rhinestone Cowboy”, to the wistful, apprehensive “Galveston”, to the sunny and upbeat “Try a Little Kindness.”

Then, there are my two personal favorites, both written by Jimmy Webb, one of the best songwriters ever, without a doubt: “Wichita Lineman” (beautifully orchestrated, like most of his hits), and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”, still one of the most sublimely heartbreaking tunes I’ve ever heard.

Even in the face of that merciless monster he battled in his later years, Glen kept on performing, enlisting the help of his sympathetic audience for the words he could no longer remember. He even allowed a camera crew to travel with him on his farewell tour, resulting in the award-winning documentary, “I’ll Be Me.” He was not afraid to make his struggle public, which earned him high praise from former President Bill Clinton, a fellow Arkansas native.

So, if it’s been awhile since you heard you some Glen Campbell, reacquaint yourself with an old friend, and celebrate his life and career. If you’ve never heard of him, take this opportunity to listen to a truly great artist. Even if you’re not into country music, you’ll discover a good song and a good singer transcend all genres.

Adios, Rhinestone Cowboy. Thanks for all the good times, and all the great music.

 

 

No Merit Badge For This Guy

 

“Think of  it, Dave, a generation of twisted Boy Scouts, it was all your fault.”

from “The Booking Agent”, by comedian Shelley Berman, from the album, “Outside Shelley Berman,” 1959

 

The Boy Scout Motto is, “Be Prepared,” but I’m pretty sure they weren’t prepared for this.

President Orange Crush delivered a stirring speech at the quadrennial Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia on Monday. I would like to share with you just some of the unforgettable highlights:

“Tonight, we put aside all of the policy fights in Washington, D.C. — you’ve been hearing about with the fake news and all of that. (Applause.) We’re going to put that aside… I said, who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts? Right?

“You know, I go to Washington and I see all these politicians, and I see the swamp. And it’s not a good place. In fact today I said we ought to change it from the word swamp to the word cesspool or, perhaps, to the word sewer.

“Secretary Tom Price is also here. Today Dr. Price still lives the Scout Oath, helping to keep millions of Americans strong and healthy as our Secretary of Health and Human Services. And he’s doing a great job. And hopefully, he’s going to get the votes tomorrow to start our path toward killing this horrible thing known as Obamacare that’s really hurting us, folks.

“I have to tell you our economy is doing great. Our stock market has picked up — since the election November 8th. Do we remember that date? (Applause.) Was that a beautiful date? (Applause.) What a date…that incredible night with the maps and the Republicans are red and the Democrats are blue, and that map was so red, it was unbelievable, and they didn’t know what to say?

“So I have to tell you what we did, in all fairness, is an unbelievable tribute to you and all of the other millions and millions of people that came out and voted for Make America Great Again.” (Um, Donnie, none of these kids were old enough to vote…)

“And by the way, do you see the billions and billions and billions of additional money that we’re putting back into our military?”

And that’s just a sample, folks.

Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts?

Except for one long, rambling, utterly irrelevant story about a former business associate who failed because he “lost his momentum”, his speech was pretty much all about politics, including yet another reminder that (gasp) he won the election!

trump’s supporters, of course, lauded his inspirational words. Meanwhile, thousands of Boy Scouts were left saying, “HUHH???”

This guy’s a riot, really. Good thing he’s not President, or anything.

Oh, yeah…

This One’s For the Cowards

 

It happens every time.

Anytime a suicide makes the news, such as Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington, you get these folks who disparage the act of suicide as “the coward’s way out.”

Well, if you’re one of those folks, I want you to shut up. Right now.

The reason anyone commits suicide, I believe, is because that person has completely run out of hope. He or she feels as though there is no other option left.

That isn’t cowardice; that’s the lowest depth of despair.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that suicides occur globally at the rate of one every forty seconds. It is predicted that by the year 2020, the rate will be one every twenty seconds.

Every. Twenty. Seconds. Someone is taking his or her own life.

And, also according to WHO, depression, substance abuse, or some other mental health issue is directly related to over ninety percent of all suicides.

These aren’t cowards afraid to face life. These are people not equipped to face life. They need help. They need treatment. They need someone to talk to. Yet we continue to stigmatize mental health disorder, as if everyone who has one is some kind of nut job.

Which is absolutely not true.

Having a mental illness doesn’t mean you’re crazy, and killing yourself doesn’t mean you’re a coward. Those are two severe misconceptions that need to be addressed and, eventually, removed from the public consciousness. The sooner, the better.

 

Now, for all you brilliant minds out there who maintain that suicide is “the coward’s way out”, let me present to you a few more stats, courtesy of militarytimes.com:

“Roughly 20 veterans a day commit suicide nationwide, according to new data from the Department of Veterans Affairs…

“In 2014, the latest year available, more than 7,400 veterans took their own lives, accounting for 18 percent of all suicides in America. Veterans make up less than 9 percent of the U.S. population.

“The problem is particularly worrisome among female veterans, who saw their suicide rates rise more than 85 percent over that time, compared to about 40 percent for civilian women.

“And roughly 65 percent of all veteran suicides in 2014 were for individuals 50 years or older, many of whom spent little or no time fighting in the most recent wars.”

These are veterans.

People who served our country. People who put themselves in harm’s way to protect us. People who look the enemy in the eye and don’t back down.

So, tell me how cowardly you think they are.

Then shut the f### up.

A Good F Word

 

There are people in your life
Who’ve come and gone
They let you down
You know they’ve hurt your pride
You better put it all behind you baby
‘Cause life goes on
You keep carryin’ that anger
It’ll eat you up inside baby

Heart of the Matter”, Don Henley

Songwriters
MIKE CAMPBELL, DON HENLEY, JOHN DAVID SOUTHER

Published By
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Cass County Music / Wisteria Music / Privet Music

 

“We live in a culture that prizes the expression of anger and resentment more than the peace of forgiveness.”

– Dr. Fred Luskin

 

Recently, in therapy, I’ve been focusing on this forgiveness thing.

Forgiveness is a tricky proposition; sometimes easy, sometimes not.

At times, I can do it almost immediately, when the offense is nothing to get worked up over. Someone makes a mistake, I forgive and that’s that.

On other occasions, someone says or does something that really angers me, or hurts me, or both, and coming around to forgiveness may take a little longer. But it does happen.

But then…

There are certain people who have wronged me, at some point in my past, whom I have not forgiven. (Nor wanted to.)

And there are things I’ve done for which I’ve never really forgiven myself. Course, I’m kind of hard on myself, anyway, but that’s another story.

But, I’m in the process now of learning how to forgive, finally.

 

Think about this a minute: How good a job do you think a carpenter, a mechanic, or a baker would do without the proper tools at his disposal? (Correct answer: not so good.)

So it is that I’m just now acquiring the tools I need to forgive. I mean, you know, I’ve heard, since I was small, the importance of forgiving, but nobody ever told me how. It was just something I was supposed to do.

And the thing is, it’s not always as simple as, “Okay, I forgive you.” In some cases, there’s a bit more to it than that. And that’s when you need the tools.

Enter Dr. Fred Luskin, a senior consultant in health promotion at Stanford University. In the course of teaching people how to improve their health and well being, Dr. Luskin researched the role of forgiveness in one’s emotional and physical well being. Turns out, it’s hugely significant.

But, again, none of his students really knew how to forgive, so Dr. Luskin developed a nine-step process, which allows people to approach forgiveness more analytically, separating the emotions from the people and events that provoke those emotions, and putting it all into some perspective.

So, I’m going to try these nine steps for myself to see if I can bust through some long held grudges, including the ones against myself. As I am just beginning to work through this, it’s too early for me to testify to any health benefits. I don’t know how well, or even if, this will work for me. But, if it helps me cope with my depression, I’ve got to try it.

If this has got you curious about Dr. Luskin and his studies, you can go to https://www.learningtoforgive.com/ and check it out for yourself.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress, assuming there will be some. I’m hopeful.

Don’t Blink, You’ll Miss 33 Years

 

July 7th. A searing hot, typical Texas summer Saturday.

That morning, I went and washed my car, a clunker with a squeaky fan belt.

That afternoon, I married the girl of my dreams.

All in all, a darn good day.

After the reception, we changed into our travelin’ clothes, ran the traditional Gauntlet of Rice, climbed into my clunker with the squeaky fan belt, flashed our biggest smile for the photographer, and drove off under the blazing sun, on our way to the much more pleasant climes of Vail, Colorado.

Our life together, like the Colorado Rockies, lay stretched out before us…

 

And then, thirty-three years happened.

Just like that. I swear to you, just like that.

I don’t mean to be cliche, but honestly, had I known it would go by this fast, I would have tried to enjoy it more. I would have squeezed more juice from the sweet, luscious fruit of life. (oh, brother, let’s just stop here, okay?)

Still, the time moved just slowly enough for me to gather a whole basket load of wonderful memories, which I will cherish all my days.

And that cute girl standing next to me on that July 7th afternoon has been right there beside me through everything, good and bad, funny and sad, easy and tough. And I couldn’t be happier, or luckier.

Happy Anniversary, darling. I love you more every fleeting year. Thank you for being my wife.

Barista Cat Cafe In Auckland

Reblog for all my feline lovin’ friends out there:

Katie Kuo

IMAG5965The perfect thing to do on a rainy and chilly winter’s day is to spend the afternoon at a Cat Cafe. This was my third time going to a cat cafe, my first time was in Taipei and my second time was in North Shore. Each cat cafe has a different atmosphere, with the music, food, drinks and of course the darling cats. Barista Cats are home to a number of rescue cats, and you’re able to enjoy an hour of cuddles and patting for $15. This comes with a complimentary coffee, tea or iced beverage. They accept cash, EFTPOS and credit cards, or you can book online.

Cats are such beautiful and intelligent creatures, and unsurprisingly one of my favourite animals. Each cat has its own quirky personality. The service was very friendly and the cats are well taken care of. The weekdays tend to be bit more quieter…

View original post 173 more words

Turn That D### Thing Off

Alright, folks, look…

This is just getting really ridiculous.

I sit in my shuttle van five days a week, watching in the morning as employees walk into their office building, their heads down and their eyes firmly fixed on…wait for it…their smartphones.

So many of them walk right into my path, I could run them right over and they would never know what hit ’em; they are that oblivious to anything other than what is on their smartphone screens. Or they could walk right into a brick wall, totally unaware of its existence until impact.

And they certainly don’t acknowledge the presence of other people, let alone actually speak to any of them.

And it always leaves me wondering the same thing: What the devil is so crucial that you can’t even afford to not take your eyes off that phone for the two to four minutes you spend walking from your car into the office? Do you really have to look at it every bloody second?

I submit, ladies and gentlemen, if you do, you have a serious problem.

Full disclosure: Apparently, so do I, only with my tablet. My wife accuses me of being addicted to it, and she may very well be right.

I know we all like to keep up with the latest news, weather, sports, friends’ Facebook posts, emails, Trump tweets (good lord, why?), etc. And modern technology is a wonderful thing…

…except for sucking the life out of us all.

Where this is leading, folks, is: I’m gonna unplug for awhile, and try to reconnect with family, friends, nature, books, and move the smartphone and tablet to a lower priority in my life. So, this will be my last post for the near future. I recommend you try to do the same, and rediscover life, and the world around you, and try to remember back to those primitive, pre-computer-in-your-hands days.

We’ll meet again down the road, I promise. Hopefully, I’ll be a little healthier when we do.

‘Til then, I wish you all well. Much love to you. ❤️

 

So Long, Caped Crusader

 

You can keep your Michael Keaton and Val Kilmer and George Clooney and Christian Bale and Ben Affleck.

Give me the late, great Adam West as Batman every time.

West passed away recently, at the age of 88, from leukemia. Batman, based on the comic book series of the same name, was a television series that aired in the late 1960’s. And, I don’t mean, in the afternoon, when the kids got home from school. This was a primetime TV series, two nights a week!

It was basically the same every time. Some nefarious criminal would show up in Gotham City, be it the Joker, the Riddler, the Penguin, Catwoman (mmm-mmmm, Julie Newmar…), or any number of oddball baddies. Commissioner Gordon and Chief O’Hara, knowing they were inadequate for the task at hand, would call Batman on his Batphone, discreetly located in plain sight in millionaire Bruce Wayne’s study.

Bruce would take the call, upon being notified surreptitiously by his faithful butler, Alfred, “It’s the Batphone, sir.” And Bruce and his youthful ward, Dick Grayson (who was never referred to any other way) would head down to the underground Bat Cave upon Bruce’s exhortation, “To the Bat Poles!”

(I was always amazed at how these guys could change from their street clothes to their crimefighting uniforms on the way down the poles! Maybe, those things could be used as wife poles; it could cut way down on the time it takes for wives to get ready to go out. Just sayin’…)

Anyway, off they would go, Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder, to the commisioner’s office, in their superbad Batmobile. Once Commissioner Gordon brought them up to speed, and Chief O’Hara applied some appropriate curses, begorrah, then began the cat-and-mouse (or bat-and-mouse, if you prefer) game between the good guys and bad guys, culminating in a climatic fight scene.

(The fight scenes were great, because the sound effects were depicted graphically onscreen. POW! BAM! BIFF! SOCK! OOOOF! YEOWWW! That was cool.)

And then there was the dialogue. You had to grow a little older to fully appreciate just how tongue-in-cheek it was. But, it was delivered in all earnestness by the cast, which makes it so freakin’ funny when you go back and watch those shows later.

Have you figured out by now just how unashamedly corny this show was? You could almost taste the butter and salt when you watched it. But we kids loved it. Batman and Robin were our heroes. It really was a comic book come to life.

And at the center of it all was the square-jawed, supremely moral presence of Adam West. He fit the part perfectly, which turned out to be a liability for him after the Batman series ended. West found himself getting typecast in several roles following that, to his aggravation. Eventually, though, he made his peace with it. From all accounts, he was a very nice man, which should surprise no one.

To a younger generation, he’s known as the voice of the town mayor on the animated series Family Guy, but I know nothing of that. To me, Adam West was, is, and shall forever be the Caped Crusader.

Rest In Peace, Adam. The citizens of Gotham City are safe, thanks to you. 

 

 

The Weekend I Was Cool

 

I spent this weekend celebrating my high school class’ 40-year anniversary.

You heard me. Forty years.

(I know some of you geezers out there got that beat, but forget you. This is my story.)

I have to say, it was a lot of fun. The celebration lasted over the course of two nights. The first night featured an informal gathering at a bar with an outdoor courtyard, where a band played and we all tried to hear each other over the band, with mixed results. I SAID, WITH MIXED RESULTS!

And, obviously, seeing these folks for the first time since graduation was a bit of a shock to the system. Granted, some of them hadn’t changed much, if at all, but many of them had changed significantly. We were all walking up to each other, hesitantly, and saying something like, “I may have known you back then. Who are you?”

The second night was the official reunion, which featured (thank goodness) name tags! (Of course, many of us had to put on our glasses to read them.)  There was a buffet of hors’d’ouvres, a cash bar (which appeared to be doing very good business), another band and a dance floor, which many of us, yours truly included, made good use of throughout the evening.

And we all spent the time talking, laughing, eating, drinking, dancing, taking pictures and reminiscing. And I had a GREAT time!

Which, if I’m being honest, surprised me somewhat. Maybe I should explain:

 

High school, for me, was not always a pleasant experience. (Admittedly, I know it wasn’t for many other people.) I actually think it goes back to junior high, when cliques began forming among the students. You know how there’s always a certain group that you would just kill to be a part of, but you were pretty certain there was no way that was happening? A group that was just popular with everybody at school. The cool group.

I mean, yeah, there were some people I liked who liked me, and we hung out a lot together, but I still wanted to be part of that group. You know how it is. The desire for acceptance in your teen years is very strong.

So, I felt like I didn’t belong with those cool kids.

Well, as I found out this weekend, time is a great equalizer.

 

I had only been to one class reunion previously. My 10-year one. It was awful. Ten years after graduation, and people still gravitated to their old cliques, and I felt those old feelings of alienation. I swore I would never go to another reunion.

Then I got an email from my best friend from back then, saying he was flying into town for our 40-year reunion, and asking if I was going to be there.

Well, truthfully, I didn’t even know about it until I got his email. I knew, of course, that this was our 40-year anniversary, so I figured there was going to be a reunion sometime; I just didn’t know it would be this weekend!

So I thought about it, and I figured, well, maybe now, we’re all far enough away from the experience that I wouldn’t feel like that, again.

And, even though a little voice asked,  “But what if you do?”, I decided to go anyway.

And, amazingly, I found myself talking and laughing with people I wouldn’t have dared approach in school. We weren’t kids in cliques anymore; we were grownups, with families and bills and jobs and prescription medications. We were equals.

And I loved every minute of it. I’ll never, ever forget it.

Lawrence D. Bell High School, Class of 1977 Blue Raiders, it was an absolute blast! Thanks to everyone who contributed their time and effort to making these events as special as they were. The rest of us appreciate it more than you could know.

I wish you all continued happiness and blessings. And love.

Space Invader

 

Once upon a time, Izzy, my spoiled rotten cat, was content simply to lie up on the back of our couch, like so:

 

image

 

Lately, however, that no longer seems to be good enough. If my or my wife’s spot on the couch is vacant, she has no problem with taking up residence there:

 

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Notice, she has the remote handy, in case she feels like binge-watching.

All this, of course, is just to drive home the point that this is her and Lizzy’s house, and we are merely the caretakers.

But, we’re good with that.