My Old Kentucky Homesite

Archive for January, 2010

Earworm Saturday #1

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 01/30/2010

An earworm is an annoying song that, no matter how much you bang your head against the wall, you can’t get out of your brain. Earworms may pop up out of nowhere, for no discernible reason. Often, though, there’s a trigger. For example, whenever I find myself in the cereal aisle at a grocery store, I can’t help hearing

Kehhhhhh-lahhhhhhhhg’s sugarcornpops (clap clap), Sugar Pops are tops.

I’m sure that some of you other old farts will sympathize with my plight.

Earworms can be songs you like, songs you used to like, or – more commonly in my case – songs you can’t stand but that just won’t go away.

My latest earworm is a little number that’s about 230 years old. It was written by an Englishman, a former slave trader turned curate, named John Newton. He was moved to create this song, among dozens of others, in praise of his god – the very deity who, a few years earlier, had smiled on the buying and selling of human beings.

I’m plagued by this particular earworm because at almost every damn musical event I’ve attended here in Lexington, a performer has been “moved” to sing it. The hoot-‘n’-holler version rings out loud and clear, and the audience always joins in as if it’s the city’s secret anthem. Since I, myself, am descended from New Yawk’s “wretched refuse,” I guess I should think it appealing that there are so many self-proclaimed wretches in my new home. As an atheist, I find the words both revolting and stupid, but the tune won’t leave me alone. I’m speaking, of course, about “Amazing Grace.”

So, in order to pass my earworm along to all those who claim that they get nothing from reading my blog, I’ve collected a few choice samples of some of the worst versions of this ditty. You may find them funny, but – believe me – you won’t be laughing tomorrow. I guarantee that the sound will not be sweet after it has lost its way in your cranium.

First, here’s the definitive awful rendition. An industrious you-tuber (or should I say “ouch potato”) supplied the lyrics, for those Kentuckians who’d like to sing along.

This next version has evidently been recorded by parents hoping to cash in on the saccharine show-busy piety of their young daughter. I don’t think you’ll be able to stomach the entire ride, but do tool along for the first few seconds, at least until you can fill in the blank: “that saved a ___________ like me.”

I’m not a Christian, but f’Chrissake! I’m pretty sure that this interpretation isn’t what the song is supposed to be about. Nevertheless, here’s “Amazing Grace” as a horrifying tribute to our death machines in Iraq.

The video says this guy is from Georgia, but I don’t believe it. He’s gotta be from Kentucky, because he just won’t quit singing that song. Truthfully, I’m glad he didn’t choose the Sugar Pops jingle, or I’d never be able to digest breakfast again.

I’m pretty much in agreement with Drake in this short piece. Far more articulately than I can, the kid expresses our mutual attitude toward this irritating hymn.

Finally, here’s a version that you actually might enjoy. It won’t cure you of that wriggly critter leaving its slime all over your hammer, your anvil, and your stirrup, but it will at least put the song in perspective. So when you find “Amazing Grace” sloshing around and around and around inside your skull, just pour yourself a cold one and hum along.

Posted in Earworms, Freedom from Faith, Music | 68 Comments »

The State of the Union – for Non-Dummies

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 01/28/2010

President Barack Obama: Blah blah blah.
Republican Response: Halb halb halb.

Posted in Playing Politics, Seriously Silly | 4 Comments »

The Ten Commandments (World Version)

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 01/26/2010

According to the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Ten Commandments apply to everyone. I decided to see if that was the case, by creating a true World Version.

My method was simple:

First, I visited Google Translate, which can now transit comfortably between 51 languages (or tungumálum as the Icelanders say).

Next, I dropped in the New Revised Standard Version of the  Ten Commandments (Exodus, 20:2-17). Those among you who are mathematically inclined, may notice that there are actually twelve commandments, but what’s an extra commandment or two among friends?

1. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

2. Do not have any other gods before me.

3. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

4. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

5. You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

6. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.

7. Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

8. You shall not murder.

9. You shall not commit adultery.

10. You shall not steal.

11. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

12. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Then, I proceeded to translate the text from English to Afrikaans, from Afrikaans to Albanian, Albanian to Arabic, Arabic to Belarusian, and so on, alphabetically from language to language, until I reached the last one, Yiddish. I must admit that it was tough going there in spots (e.g., from Chinese to Croatian,  from Greek to Hebrew to Hindi, from Korean to Latvian, and from Ukrainian to Vietnamese to Welsh). But God loves all His children, doesn’t hE, and hIs glorious message is meant for all people to share, no matter what ridiculous language they happen to speak, and regardless of whether or not they refer to HiM in caps.

Finally, I had Google translate the result back into English (better known as Английски to you Bulgarians). You may wonder why the original twelve items have become slightly discombobulated, but you must have faith, for gOD works in mysterious ways.  I’m afraid, however, that those untrained in multi-lingual Biblical exegesis may not be able to understand some of the finer points of this historically significant, beautifully poetic, and morally imperative text. So I have included my scholarly notes to help elucidate some of the meanings.

1. Select slave labor camp somewhat Egypt.
LW: 1. Choosing a slave labor camp is somewhat like watching Little Egypt perform.

2 and God.
LW: Give me two of those [pastries(?)] and may God forgive you.

Alcohol is not Mentioned in the air in the 3rd cave.
LW: Thou shalt not mention alcohol aloud on the number three subway train.

Orangtuaku not God, 3 and version 4 and 4 Spirit that you want only the 1000 sentensing children is everything.
LW: The orangutan is not God. And it’s also not software versions 3 and 4.1 and 4.2 (Windows Spirit). If you want the best version, pick up 1000, which parses sentences better than any other. But everything is childish, anyway, no matter what word processor you use.

October 5 for the elderly to use.
LW: October 5th is a day set aside for the elderly to use computers.

6 Do not forget the world champion. I believe that God six days seven days. Make Saturday and education of children and care, not one putrinia, but the foreign vorkers.
LW: 6. Do not forget who the world champions are (NOTE: Currently, the New Yawk Yankees). I believe that God played either Game 6 or Game 7. Make Saturday a day of education and care for children, but don’t spend even one “putrinia” on foreign workers with German accents.

7 Mediterranean world in six days, many Saturday.
LW: 7. The Mediterranean world can be traversed in six days, which should include many Saturdays.

7, and my lord, my mother, God.
LW: (again) 7. My boss = my mother = God.

8 no many.
LW: Eight is not many, but it’s enough.

No Relationship 9.
LW: Thou shalt not have sexual relations with nine people.

10
LW: I’m God, and I can skip number 10 if I want to.

Aixekaras B, Animal 11.
LW: Aixekaras B. is an animal!!

12 cattle berasumsi and asinnod, or Neighbors jealous neighbor or Spouse, for example, can not operate, or if there are civil servants.
LW: 12. Thou shalt not keep company with cattle, Mr. Berasumsi, and someone asinine – or the neighbors will be jealous. By the way, your neighbor and your spouse are setting some example, huh?  Their sexual organs may seem to be out of commission, but it’s only because there are civil servants in the area.

The world would be a much better place if all humanity followed these few precepts. So please see that you do. (Yes, you too, Aixekaras!)

[Addendum: Yes, readers, you may feel free to suggest the posting of this World Version at the courthouse or government office of your choice.]

Posted in Freedom from Faith, Seriously Silly, Useless Lists | 25 Comments »

We’re Number One!

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 01/24/2010

Do you love – to the exclusion of all other interests – college basketball, horse-breeding, bourbon, and coal-mining (not necessarily in that order)? If you said yes, you should definitely consider a move to Lexington.

But if you said no, and if you already happen to live in Lexington, you should get the fuck out. That’s what three letter writers advise on the opinion page of today’s Herald-Leader.

If you don’t like the Wildcats or discussing their success, you should leave on the next bus out.

If he doesn’t love the Horse Capital of the World, please, he should feel free to leave.

I know a great moving company that could aid in putting you out of your misery. It may not be for everyone, but I and a whole lot of other people think “this town” is just fantastic.

A great way to keep a “town” (why the quotation marks?), or a state, or a country, or a religious community, or a political party ignorant and unproductive is to invite its critics to leave. In the old days, they were run out on a rail. That’s illegal now, so the next best thing is to insist that everyone indulge in unquestioning boosterism.

On yesterday’s late-night news, in the lead story, some old biddy sports fan exulted that the Wildcats were, for the time being, at the top of the standings. “We’re number one!” she cried. “We’re number one!” How she became part of “we” went unanswered.

It should be obvious to everyone but a Lexingtonian that the victory of a mere basketball team is no substitute for working towards a society that respects education and culture, where political corruption doesn’t hold sway over progress, where the majority religion doesn’t ram its agenda down the throats of the entire populace, and where the coal industry doesn’t hold the citizens in an ecological deathgrip.

But who am I to judge? That woman was number one! Even though Kentucky’s percentage of persons with a bachelor’s (or higher) degree is 46th in the nation. Even though we’re only 29th (30th if you count D.C.) in expenditures per public school pupil. Even though Kentucky’s Personal Income Per Capita is 46th. Even though we’re 7th in the United States (6th if you don’t count D.C.) in percentage of citizens living below the poverty line, and 14th in Unemployment.

She’s number one! This boast from a woman whose local newspaper, on a recent January 26th, ran the brilliant headline:

Free Advice: Bundle Up When Out In The Cold.

So: If the people here can’t take the winter without throwing on a bunch of sissy clothes, if they can’t abide being undereducated, underemployed, and poor, then they should leave on the next bus out.

Because we’re number one! A whole lot of people think that’s just fantastic.

Posted in New to Kentucky, Random Rants | 8 Comments »

“No Law” Means No Law

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 01/22/2010

I’m a free-speech purist. I agree with Justice Hugo Black, who, commenting on the First Amendment, said: “No law” means no law.

It sometimes happens that insisting on free speech is inconvenient for some citizens, perhaps even the majority of citizens. But the right of free speech, and its sibling right of a free press, are the most important rights we as Americans have.

I’ve read a number of impassioned responses to yesterday’s Supreme Court opinion in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. One of them came from one of my best friends, whose email decrying the opinion stated that she was “so disgusted.” Another response appeared as a post by a blogger friend of mine, whose intelligence I respect.

After writing an email to the former and commenting on the essay of the latter, I thought my rant mechanism would be satisfied. But it’s not. So I’m going to lift some of my own words to state my position clearly here, in case anyone else asks.

I agree with the critics of the decision that in its immediate aftermath, big corporations will feel further empowered to interfere with politics – at least in a non-clandestine way.  (Note: they never stopped trying to influence elections in a covert manner.)

I disagree strongly, however, that the decision was a bad one. The First Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech or of the press …” It doesn’t state that it specifically relates to a person’s freedom; it’s a blanket ban on the U.S. Congress censoring or restricting any kind of speech.

Some victims of censorship – be they individuals, organizations, or corporations – may well be beneath contempt, or even dangerous. The public dialogue may well benefit from keeping those disruptive forces safely squelched. American democracy, as it’s constituted today, may well fare better when messages are controlled.

However, we free-speech purists must be vigilant. Any nickering away at the principle of an open dialogue, no matter how small, endangers every American. If Congress can get away with banishing one group from the forum of public opinion, who’s to say that everyone else’s freedom is guaranteed?

Civil libertarians on both the left and the right understand this, and so filed briefs for the appellant in this case. Along with all the usual “bad guys,” supporters of Citizens United included the ACLU, the California First Amendment Coalition, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the Center for Competitive Politics.

We can’t know the motivations of the Supreme Court Justices. They might have wanted to favor big businesses over “everyday Americans” — whoever those mythical creatures may be. They might be the right-wing extremists that they’re often painted as being; I can point to a number of decisions that seem to reinforce that stereotype, and that trouble me in their politico-legal machinations.

But the Court’s decision yesterday was dead-on correct. “No law” means no law.

Posted in First Amendment, Random Rants | 13 Comments »

So Does That Mean I’m Always Right?

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 01/21/2010

I am not a number. I am a free man.
Number 6 (the Prisoner)

Today, I called the IRS for some information. Having made a payment agreement with the tax collectors, I’d expected to receive an invoice in the mail, as had been  promised in numerous form letters wrapped in red tape.

But, even though the postman has rung considerably more than twice since I was scheduled to receive it, this month’s invoice still hasn’t arrived. Since I know it’s absolutely impossible for our government to screw up, I decided to find out what I’d be blamed for if I chose to wait – as any person who could actually read those letters would – for my bill?

So I dialed the number of my friendly federal tax office, and, as you probably could have guessed, was greeted by a recorded voice. First, it asked me to choose the language I preferred. I picked plain English; one can always hope. The voice then spelled out a menu of options for me: Make a payment, ask a queston about making a payment, request forms for making a payment, ask a question about requesting forms for making a payment, make a payment to receive a form for asking a question, and finally, request permission from your neighbors to howl at the moon.

None of these options being even remotely related to what I wanted to find out, I pushed the zero button on my phone. A voice informed me that I would be put on hold until the next available representative was, in fact, available. I was also told that my wait for an actual human would be approximately seven to ten minutes.

On hold, I was treated to a musical composition for perky piano and background bongos. The chipper melody sounded like one of those tunes that float around dentists’ offices: Music to Prepare You for Pain.

After about a minute, the recorded voice returned to remind me that I had not been forgotten. It was sorta like a robber reminding a victim to keep his hands up. The recording let me know that, despite what I may have been thinking, the IRS employees were not just screwing around playing tabletop football with taxpayers’ quarters. The voice told me: “Our representatives are still helping other customers.”

OK, listen. The Prisoner is wrong, at least in America. I am a number. You’re a number, too. We’re all nine-digit social security numbers, and ten-digit cellphone numbers, and sixteen-digit credit card numbers. We’re license numbers and health insurance numbers and bank account numbers and even bookclub membership numbers. I’ve learned to accept that.

But the United States Constitution isn’t a purchase agreement. The President, the Congress, and the Courts should not be for sale – even though sometimes they are.

I am not a customer.

Posted in Random Rants | 4 Comments »

The Mom Will See You Now

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 01/20/2010

Today, I went for a routine yearly checkup, my first with my new Lexington doctor.  I also asked him about a slight cough I have.

The doctor seemed like an able physician, a good and patient communicator, and a likeable guy. But my yardstick for the medical profession is Mom. Nobody is ever as thorough as she was.

Mom had studied medicine attentively. During the ’30s and the ’40s, she’d never missed a Dr. Kildare movie.  In the mid-‘50s, when I was well into my single-digits, she kept up-to-date with the latest breakthroughs in pathology by watching Medic every week.  She also had subscriptions to five or six different women’s magazines. Even though she religiously skipped the recipes and the household tips and the fashion spreads, she memorized every health article they published. Mom could rattle off ten things everyone needed to know about psoriasis, and five danger signals that your child was reading too many comic books. She also regularly thumbed through her much dog-eared paperback copy of Dr. Spock, in the hopes of being on guard against diseases  she’d never heard of.

I was her star patient, a weeny who was always “coming down” with something, or “just getting over” something, or actually being sick with something.  In our house, we were never just sick; we were always sick with something.  Something specific, something that had a name.  These titles were very important to Mom because in order to know the proper treatment, it was crucial that she correctly identify the illness.

“Mom, what do I have?”

Mom could distinguish between a bug and a virus, the grippe and the flu, “mostly allergies” and “a touch of the croup.”  Her distinctions weren’t scientific; they were based on how often, how hard, and how far I sneezed.  When she was really ensconced in Doctor Mode, we might even discuss the color and consistency of my phlegm.

A stuffed nose was usually the first signal that my body was under siege.  I’d sit sniffling and snuffling at the dinner table, trying to reclaim my dripping mucus.  Mom would scream at me, “Stop shnoobling it in.”  I always thought “shnooble” was a Yiddish word.  It wasn’t until I was eleven that I finally learned the truth: it was just an onomatopoeic nonsense term that Mom made up.  It finally dawned on me that whenever I used “shnooble” in a sentence, nobody but my immediate family understood what I was talking about.

Dad would finally bang his coffee cup down and glare at me.  With disgust in his voice, he’d yell, “F’Chrissake, where’s your handkerchief?  Blow that damn thing, already, willya? ”

“I’m sick!” I’d answer.  “Don’t holler.”

That was Mom’s cue to spring into action.  She’d scrunch up her eyebrows, purse her lips, and rub her chin the way bad actors do to show they’re thinking. Then she’d ask me a battery of diagnostic questions.

“Do you have a sore throat?”

“No.”

“Are you sure?  Does it hurt when you swallow? Even a teensy little bit?”

“No, it doesn’t hurt at all.  You wanna see me swallow?  I can swallow all day if you want and it won’t hurt.”

“Lemme see if it’s red.  Come over here in the light.”

I hated coming over here in the light.  That meant tilting my head back at a torturous angle and opening my mouth wide enough for Mom to wheel a gurney down my throat.

“Do I have to?  Can’t you just look from there?”

Dad usually jumped to my defense. I was fooled into thinking he did it because he was my pal.  In reality, he just couldn’t deal with Mom’s professionalism.

“What are you, Honey?” he’d ask.  “Dr. Jekyll?  Just give him an aspirin and a handkerchief, f’cryinoutloud.”

But Mom had taken the Hippocratic oath, or, to be more precise, the “Good Housekeeping” pledge.  As she grabbed me by the arms and pulled me under the light, she’d answer Dad.  “Can’t you see I’m working here?  Butt out.”

Then to me: “Your throat’s a little red.  How do your ears feel?”

“OK.”

“Do you have an earache?”

“No.”

Mom would jerk her jaw back and forth. “Are you sure?  It doesn’t hurt when you go like this?”

“I told you it doesn’t hurt.”

“You’re not going like this.  Go like this and then tell me.”

I’d give a couple of half-hearted yawns.

“So?  Do your ears hurt?”

“Now my jaw hurts.”

“Well, that’s natural when you go like that.  How about your ears?  We’re talking about them.”

“They don’t hurt.  They feel perfect.”

“Is your hearing stopped up?”

“What?”

“IS YOUR HEARING STOPPED UP?”

“I was only kidding.  I heard you the first time.”

“Lemme look in your ears.  Come back here in the light.”

Mom would have eagerly eyeballed every orifice I had if Dad didn’t say, “Oh, leave him alone, f’Chrissake.  He’s just a snotnosed kid with a cold. ” Dad was jealous of Medic.

“Honey, you’re not the doctor here.  Go watch Million Dollar Movie, ’cause you’re not helping anything.”

One of the reasons that my parents had an effective relationship was that Dad always recognized a Mom order when he heard it.  The next thing he was supposed to do was rise obediently, shake his head at both mother and son, mumble “it’s like a skit on Milton Berle,” and lumber toward the living-room couch.  Which is exactly what he always did, even years after Milton Berle had gone off the air.

When he was safely out of the room, Mom resumed. “Your ears look waxy to me. When’s the last time you washed them?”

“Yesterday.” (Lie.)

“Did you wrap your finger in a washcloth and go inside?”

“Yeah.” (Lie)

“Which finger did you use? Not your thumb, right? And not your pinky?”

“No, just one of my regular fingers.”

“OK. Do you have a headache? Even a small pain above your eyes could be sinus.”

“No.”

“Are you sure?  You don’t have any pressure around your temples?”

“I have no pains anywhere, Mom.  I feel great. ”

“Don’t tell me how you feel. Just answer my questions, because there’s a whole procedure. Lemme see your eyeballs.  Look up at the light.”

“Do I have to?  That really hurts my eyes.”

“A-ha!”

Mom was no ordinary medical wannabe; she was a specialist, a frustrated epidemiologist.  Her next task was to make me tell her the names of every kid I had played with at any time during the entire preceding month.  She’d order me to stay at the table, while she hit the telephone, calling around to all their mothers.  It was critically important to her that she track down the culprit who had infected me.

“Hi, Rachel.  How’s Shelley?”  If Mom looked disappointed, I knew the other kid was fine.  If Mom frowned somberly, but with a gloat underneath, I knew the other kid had something wrong with him, probably a fatal disease that I had caught. “Oh, that’s too bad.  I think Larry’s got it, too.  But we don’t seem to have any bowel problems here so far.  Hold on.”

She’d cup the receiver in her hand, and ask me detailed questions about my trips to the bathroom.  Mom made me describe my droppings as if I were an art critic; she was a master of fecal nuance.  She never trusted my reports, though.  Was I absolutely, a hundred percent certain that I didn’t have diarrhea?  Was I positively sure that I wasn’t constipated, even a little bit?  She always seemed to doubt my answers, as if I were trying to hide some fantastic secret up my rectum.

“Are you nauseous?  Shelley’s nauseous.”

“I’m not nauseous.”

“Don’t tell me you’re not nauseous and then the next thing we know you’ll be throwing up.  If you’re nauseous, admit it.”

“I’m not nauseous.”

“Does your stomach hurt?”

“No.”

“Show me where it doesn’t hurt.”

“It doesn’t hurt anywhere.”

“And you’re sure you’re not nauseous?”

“I thought we already did ‘nauseous.'”

“I’m just making sure.”

Then she’d start rubbing her hand back and forth across my forehead as if she were trying to build up enough static electricity to balance a balloon there.

“You feel warm to me.  I think you might have fever.  Go pull your pants down and lay on your bed.”

Being medically evacuated from the kitchen was serious business, a sign that you were too sick to be cured by just an office visit.

In the time it took me to follow her instructions, Mom was able to find the thermometer, douse it with about half a bottle of alcohol, and glob it with enough Vaseline to grease all my internal organs.  Then she’d take careful aim and shove it up my ass with such force that I’d imagine I could feel it coming out the other side.

“That’s not so bad, is it?”

“Ow.”

“What hurts?  Your head?  Your ears?  Your stomach?”

“My tush.”

“Sorry,” Mom would answer, not lifting her eyes from her watch.  The instrument had to be in for exactly three minutes, no more, no less.  A few seconds either way could lead to a mis-diagnosis.

Whenever we played this scene, Mom wound up making the same amazing discovery: I had a whopping fever of half a degree above normal.  She’d check Doctor Spock for corroboration on her evaluation.

“Am I sick?” I’d ask.

“Just a little cold,” she’d say. “We’ll rub you in with Vicks, and give you a spoon of Rem.”

My doctor today did his routine exam, then listened briefly to my chest. Unlike Mom’s inquisition, it took less than three hours. Although he didn’t suggest Vick’s, he did send me to the pharmacy to buy some recommended cough medicine.

“Is that it? We’re done?” I asked.

“Well, what else did you have in mind?” he countered.

I guess he didn’t need to know who I’d played with.

Posted in Memoirs, New to Kentucky | Leave a Comment »

All of ‘Em

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 01/16/2010

Katy Couric: And when it comes to establishing your worldview, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?
Sarah Palin: I’ve read most of them, again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media.
Katy Couric: What, specifically?
Sarah Palin: Um … all of ‘em.

Glenn Beck: Who’s your favorite Founder?
Sarah Palin: Um … well … all of ‘em.

Wallberg: I’m delighted to have Sarah Palin with me tonight as my guest on “Book Blather.” Ms. Palin, as most of you know, is the titular author of …

Palin: Well, if I may interrupt you for just a minute here, if I may. I don’t think most Americans care whether a person is titular or not. Here in this great country of ours, God gave men and women the same wonderful freedom.

Wallberg: Yes, well, thanks for coming to discuss books, Ms. Palin.

Palin: Oh, it’s my pleasure. Because I love books. I even wrote a book because I love ’em so much. It’s called Going Rogue and you can buy it on your computer or in a book store or at WalMart or even some gas stations. That’s how much I love books and magazines. And newspapers, too, and uh-huh. Greetin’ cards. I think all Americans understand me when I say that we are a greetin’ card nation, because all of us do love to receive. In the mail. Y’know. Christmas and birthdays and such. Greetin’ cards.

Wallberg: Yes, getting a card is nice.

Palin: And it’s, I think, fundamental to the American way of life. Our freedom to send each other little poems on Christmas and Easter and. Oh, all kinds of occasions.

Wallberg: Well, let me ask you, since this is a program about books. What’s your favorite novel?

Palin: Um … all of ‘em.

Wallberg:Every novel ever written is your favorite?

Palin: Well, of course, I do like some better than others. But they’re all my favorite, really.

Wallberg: Can you name one novel that you like better than others?

Palin: Well, I’d rather not single out … of course I really enjoyed readin’ Going Rogue. Which I also wrote.

Wallberg: What about novels by some other authors, besides you?

Palin: Y’know, I also liked readin’ The Wit and Wisdom of Ronald Reagan, which I didn’t write, but I feel I coulda, because I agree with everything in it. And it’s about a great American who had lots of … um … wit. And wisdom, too. Somebody wrote it whose name I forget for the moment but it doesn’t matter because it’s mostly filled with stuff that Ronald Reagan said. So, really, it’s like he wrote it. And he was a great American who loved freedom only somebody else typed.

Wallberg: Those books you mentioned aren’t novels.

Palin: Oh, you want me to name a novel?

Wallberg: Here, I’ll help you. How about Huckleberry Finn? Or Moby Dick? Or The Sound and the Fury?

Palin: So you’re talkin’ about schoolbooks?

Wallberg: Well, any novel.

Palin: I’d have to say that one of the novels I like best is Goodnight Moon,  because I tell it to Trig and Trapp and it helps put ’em to sleep. So it works, which is what good ol’ American know-how is all about. But I think stayin’ awake is OK, too, and many of the people I respect most, like George Washington and Ronald Reagan. They stayed awake when they could.

Wallberg: Let’s forget about novels, shall we?

Palin: To answer your question. I could never forget about novels because all of ‘em are my favorite. But you betcha.

Wallberg: Let’s move on then. How about Shakespeare’s plays? Did you ever read any of those?

Palin: Um … all of ‘em.

Wallberg: Even The Two Noble Kinsmen? Nobody reads that one.

Palin: You’re tryin’a confuse me, arencha? If it’s one of ‘em, I read it.

Wallberg: And do you have a favorite?

Palin: I’d have to say … um … all of ‘em.

Wallberg: Well, do you prefer the tragedies, or the comedies, or the histories?

Palin: Y’know, Larry, I prefer … um … all of ‘em. Because every freedom-lovin’ American has to deal with tragedy and comedy and history in their own life. In my own experiences, for instance, I’ve had to deal with tragedy, which was losin’ the election to Barack Obama. But I also like comedy, I Love Lucy and such. But I think we Americans can learn most, mostly, from the histories.

Wallberg: I take it you’ve read all of Shakespeare’s history plays?

Palin: Yup.

Wallberg: And I suppose it might be too much to ask for you to name a favorite?

Palin: Oh, they’re all really good. Maybe I like the one about George Washington a little bit better than the others because he was a great Founder and a great American.

Wallberg: Is that the one where the main character says, “To be or not to be?”

Palin: You’re tryin’a to trick me, I think. So no. George Washington didn’t say that. He said, “I chopped down the cherry tree.” Maybe he said “I choppeth downeth the cherryeth tree-eth,” because that’s how  people talked in Shakespeare’s day, y’know? But it still means the same thing in plain English or Shakespeare’s Latin or whatever. Which is chop, baby, chop. And that’s why most of your socialists and commies and atheist liberals find it hard to understand those Shakespeare books. Because they have good old-fashioned language and family values.

Wallberg: Do you have any other favorite Shakespearean quotes.

Palin: Well … um … all of ‘em. But maybe I also liked it a lot when George Washington said “God bless America.” Which I know God does,  because we’re his favorite country.

Wallberg: I thought he loved all of ‘em.

Palin: Well, maybe he does. But the best places in the world are our small towns here in the U.S.A, where the people are hard-workin’ and patriotic. Like Wasilla and many others. So I’d have to say that God maybe likes us a little bit better than Russia or Afghanistan or Eye-Rack. Or even London and Asia and any of those other foreign countries. Because they don’t love freedom and God the way we do. And that’s why I wrote Going Rogue. To resonate with people who want to resonate with my great vision for America.

Wallberg: Could you share with our audience any final thought about books?

Palin: Gee, I have so many thoughts, I can’t really name a favorite. I like all of ‘em. Maybe, if I hadda pick one, I’d tell people to buy Going Rogue. Or, for any great American who loves freedom and doesn’t like to read, watch me on TV.

Wallberg: Why don’t you just remind the folks what network you’re on?

Palin: Um … all of ‘em. Aren’t I?

Posted in Books & Bookshops, Idiots, Pop Culture | 19 Comments »

No Bushes Were Burned in the Making of This Post

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 01/14/2010

Today, the Lexington Herald-Leader ran a story about a federal appeals court decision allowing Grayson County to re-post the Ten Commandments in its courthouse.

According to the LHL online edition, as of the time I began to write this post, seven comments about the decision have been published on the Web site, although only six are viewable. Of those six, the boos run five to one against the yays.

Here’s the sole response, complete and unedited, of the one who applauds the decision:

GOOD If the ACLU is for it- I usually oppose their position.

My  comment bemoaning the decision is the longest (you could have guessed that, right?), although it still falls within the e-rag’s character-count strictures.

There are a number of different versions of the Ten Commandments. The Old Testament prints two different lists, one in Exodus (20:3-27), one in Deuteronomy (5:6-21). Modern religions have conflicting versions, based on their own interpretations and translations. Jews, Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics, and various Protestant sects do not agree on the specific wording.

Worse, the first two (or three, depending on your own particular version) “commandments” have to do with worshipping the Judeo-Christian deity, as opposed to other deities or no deities. So it’s clearly a sectarian propaganda piece, with little, if any, historical or educational value.

The Ten Commandments has no place in a courthouse, at least in America. In countries controlled by religious fanatics like the Taliban, a comparable document would, of course, be displayed proudly.

It’s always important, I think, to reinforce the idea that theocratic bullies are essentially the same the world over, regardless of their specific beliefs. When they get god-crazed enough, they kill people in the name of heavenly justice. That’s what happened with Scott Roeder, who gunned down Dr. George Tiller in cold blood. It’s what happened with the Grand Inquisitors and the Fort Hood shooter and the Salem Witch Hunters. It’s what happened with the 9/11 bombers and with the Hebrews who massacred the Midianites. It even happened, as Pat Robertson claims,  to the Big Bully himself, who allegedly killed perhaps 50,000 Haitians because of their “pact with the devil.”

The Ten Commandments is the religious equivalent of a gateway drug.

Posted in First Amendment, Freedom from Faith, Useless Lists | 17 Comments »

Whenever

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 01/12/2010

If you’ve been reading all the flap about Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and NBC’s Tonight Show, and whether or not it’s still technically tonight if it’s really twelve-oh-five tomorrow morning (or, in the Central Time Zone, a little after eleven p.m. yesterday), then you may have missed a minuscule announcement about another program. The long and the outrageously short of it is that “Whenever … with Larry Wallberg” has been moved to five-fifteen in the morning, sandwiched between “Wall Street Hustle” and “Pray Along with Mitch.”

Mitch’s point – that a religious program makes sense only in the context of the current financial debacle – is well taken, but the idea has sprung up among network execs that the average viewer can’t perform his, her, or its morning ablutions without the background babble of a few bad puns thrown in along with the usual disaster news and entreaties to the deity. As the beatnik banker said, “Man cannot live by bread alone.”

However, an ugly rumor has been bruited about that “Whenever … with Larry Wallberg” will be replaced by a half-hour baking show to follow “Your Dough” and to precede “Christ Is Risen.”  The rest of the network’s programming will, of course, continue to be repeats of “Law and Order S.U.V. I.U.D. L.M.N.O.P.” and “Everybody Loves Seinfeld.”

In other humor news, The Kentucky Encyclopedia continues to insist that “For the most part, Kentucky literary humor, like [its] folk humor, is based on the culture of common people, and thus most of it is rural in nature.” Opie Taylor refuses to comment, except to brag that he finally caught an old shoe. Kentuckians, as everyone knows, find catching-old-shoe jokes hilarious, so I’m hard at work to add some to my repertoire. But I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll hold my tongue.

Which is (to be serious for a moment) why I won’t mention that it’s impossible for me to understand how anyone can give a country rat’s ass about Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, or NBC’s late-night, calendar-confused lineup. Both Leno and O’Brien are dull, unfunny, and just plain dumb. They’re comedians for the rubes, and cheerleaders rather than interviewers. The Tonight Show hasn’t been really witty – urban and urbane – or relevant to anything other than shilling since Jack Paar left.

Posted in Pop Culture | 8 Comments »