Sunday, June 30, 2013

"Foul Owl On the Prowl" - Quincy Jones (1968)

This is one of my favorite scenes in the movie “In the Heat of the Night” which was released in 1968 and starred Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger and Lee Grant along with a host of other character actors. The film won an Academy Award and has been a favorite of mine since its release. But this scene, and the accompanying song, “Foul Owl on the Prowl” has stuck with me since. It’s a satirical country song, with the music written by none other than Quincy Jones, and the lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, a husband and wife team who went on to pen some of the best theme songs on TV sitcoms.

In this scene, Ralph, the night cook at the diner in Sparta, Mississippi where the story takes place, pries open the jukebox to avoid paying a nickel to hear his favorite song. His almost comical role in this scene belies the true nature of the man, as the film bears out.

The song is almost inaudible in certain portions of the scene, and it would be about 20 years before I would hear the entire lyrics to the song, but it’s worth a listen. The lyrics concern a man, described as an owl, who is on the prowl for his next victim in the dark of night. Using various birds and rhymes, Mr. and Mrs. Bergman crafted a very clever lyric to go along with Mr. Jones’ music.

But the real surprise to me has always been that Quincy Jones, the contemporary genius of jazz, was able to write this melody, which is so far afield from his usual genre. It serves to underscore the sheer musical talent inherent in the man. You either have it, or you don’t. Clearly, Mr. Jones has it.

If you have never heard the full recorded version by Boomer and Travis, then here is your chance. Just hit the link below and listen to Boomer and Travis perform this quirky little number which has quite a cult following; including me. The lyrics are printed below the link.

"Foul Owl On The Prowl"
(Quincy Jones – Alan and Marilyn Bergman)

There's a foul owl on the prowl tonight.

 Hey, little lark, get outta the dark,
 Foul owl on the prowl.
 Hey little jay, stay out of his way,
 Foul owl on the prowl.
 You just might be the quail he'll tail,
 Foul owl on the prowl.
 You just might be the swallow he'll follow,
 Foul owl on the prowl.

 If you hear him hoot, scoot,
 If you pass his tree, flee,
 If you catch his eye, fly,
 Don't wait to say goodbye.

 He's got a yen for a purty little hen,
 Foul owl on the prowl.
 He's hungry for a chick, so get home quick,
 Foul owl on the prowl.

 If you hear him hoot, scoot,
 If you pass his tree, flee,
 If you catch his eye, fly,
 Don't wait to say goodbye.

 He's got a yen for a purty little hen,
 Foul owl on the prowl.
 He's hungry for a chick, so get home quick,
 Foul owl on the prowl.
 Foul owl on the prowl.
 Foul owl on the prowl.
 Foul owl on the prowl.
 Foul owl on the prowl.

 Foul owl on the prowl.

Friday, June 28, 2013

"Mel Brooks: Make a Noise" - American Masters (2013)

Once you have been exposed to the comedy of Mel Brooks you’re hooked for life. This is the guy who wrote for the landmark TV show “Your Show of Shows” starring Sid Caesar. Writing alongside such luminaries as Carl Reiner, and Woody Allen, this is the man who gave us the character of the “2,000 Year Old Man”, and then went on to be co-creator of the TV series “Get Smart”. That’s right, he invented the “shoe phone”, and the “cone of silence.” As far as the shoe phone goes, he was way ahead of his time.

Drawing on interviews with Mr. Brooks himself, as well as those who have worked with him for decades, the film provides a look inside the mind of someone who is arguably one of the funniest and most creative men of his time. Gene Wilder is effusive in his praise of Mr. Brooks, who really gave his career a boost as the foil to Zero Mostel in 1968”s “The Producer’s”, which has since gone on to become a legendary Broadway Show, a feat all in itself.

His marriage to Anne Bancroft is explored by both Mel and Anne, with predictably comic results. She claims, at one point, that he pursued her relentlessly, while at other times she admits to having fallen for him in an instant. And he has his own side of the story to tell, describing himself as a poor Jewish writer, struggling to make it, and smitten with the best actress on Broadway; Ms. Bancroft was fresh from her run in ‘A Miracle Worker” and seemed to be light years ahead of Mr. Brooks, and thus unattainable.

He was struck with the “bug” at age eight when he saw Ethel Merman on Broadway and knew exactly what he wanted to do in life. There was never a doubt in his mind about where he was headed. His time on “Your Show of Shows” is remarkably re-created in the film “My Favorite Year” with Peter O’Toole.

From “History of the World” to “Spaceballs”, which grew out of the little vignette at the end og the “History of the World” film (remember “Jews In Space” at the end?) Mr. Brooks has given us some incredible characters over the course of his 60 years in the business. And in this film, he recalls them all fondly. A must see for fans of Mel Brooks.

PS: I just saw that today is Mr. Brooks 87th birthday. Proof positive that laughter keeps you young at heart. Happy Birthday Mel Brooks!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

"Argo" with Ben Affleck and Alan Arkin (2012)

In this fast paced true life thriller, Ben Affleck plays Tony Mendez, a CIA operative who specializes in getting people out of crisis situations. In this case his assignment is to facilitate the removal of 6 American Embassy workers in Tehran during the Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1979.  Those 6 had been able to obtain shelter in the Canadian Embassy, but their presence was becoming known, making it only a matter of time until the Iranians would take them from that building.

At home the CIA and the White House are caught seriously off guard; and with no plans in the “works” to free the hostages it was time to get inventive. Calling upon friends in Hollywood, the CIA concocts a plan to film a phony movie in Iran at the time of the crisis, using phony Canadian passports to remove the hostages. John Goodman and Alan Arkin play the Hollywood Producer and Director who accompany Tony to Iran with the phony film crew. That part is relatively easy. But getting them out provides another, more desperate race against time.

Ben Affleck directed this film which is based on the actual events as they occurred. The beginning of the movie provides a brief background on just how the Iranian government fell, and why. This will be especially helpful to younger viewers who may not remember why the Iranians overthrew their government in the first place, as well as provide an insight into what kind of governments end up filling the vacuum created by violent revolutions.

It has been almost 35 years since the events depicted in this film took place. With last week’s election of a more moderate leader in Iran, let’s hope that the pendulum of democratic government is swinging back towards the center in that country, which has a strong influence on all of the other countries in the region. This was a very gripping and well-made film.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Turtle

This is the first turtle I have bought home in about 3 years. There was a time when I was able to “rescue” one each year, and the last two years without seeing one crossing the road has made me a bit sad. It means that they are losing more of their habitat to us humans.

I found this plucky little fellow after a big rainstorm which was the back side of Hurricane Andres last week. He was right on the center line of the road near us, frozen there by the vibrations of the passing cars. I had to make a U-turn to go back and get him, but I’m glad I did. He might not have made it across without getting hit.
Several years ago I picked one up that and been hit and flung, cracking his shell. Not much I could do for him except to place him off the road and in the shade. I know he couldn't have lasted too long after that, but I like to think that I made him a bit more comfortable.

Turtles are very special to me. They represent not only the little red eared turtles I had as a child; and one in particular which was given to me by a friend in junior high school; they also remind me of the huge sea turtles which we encountered from time to time when I was in the Navy. These turtles would break surface; reminiscent of some prehistoric creature from the deep; gaze up into the sun, and then use their flippers to “pump” air into their shells before plunging back under the swells. Apart from the snapping turtle, they are generally such docile creatures.

One year I brought home a turtle that was almost ready to lay eggs; which of course Sue and I had no way of knowing. Hell, we didn't even know he was a she. We had been keeping “him” for a pet and were really surprised when “she” laid the eggs right in the garden where Sue had taken her for some exercise.

No sooner had she laid the eggs than she was off and running. That’s what they do. And, it also explains why so few of the hatchlings survive. That so few do, in turn, only serves to make those that do all the more special.

So this fellow; I’m calling him “Gus”, this way if “he” turns out to be a “she” I can just call her “Gussie”; is now living somewhere between my backyard and a nearby creek. I’m hoping the strawberries in the garden will keep him here, but I wouldn't put any money on it. Have you ever put a turtle down on the lawn and looked away for a minute? It’s incredible how quickly they can move when motivated. Kind of makes me think that the story that the story about the tortoise and the hare might actually be true.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Understanding Pi

We all take Pi for granted. It’s loaded into our computers and calculators for us, and we use it in equations all the time without ever thinking of it beyond it formulaic utility. Some years ago, while working as an estimator of utilities, I found it necessary; or maybe desirable; to understand the exact meaning of Pi and how it worked in relation to the circle.

Having failed at the subject all through high school, and even before that, I had this “fear” of math brought on by my parent’s assertions that I was not able to understand the subject. I was, like my mother; and remember, it was my mother who said it; used to tell me, “You take after me and I could never understand math. But you can read well, and your brother can’t.” What a stupid statement to make to any child, even your own! Water under the bridge. Having navigated around the world, by sextant, in the days before Nav Sats etc., I can truly say that I am perfectly capable of working out any mathematical problem thrown my way. The failure was in the teaching method.

Had they wanted to really engage my passion all they would have had to do was make the problems relevant to real life. Like, you are on a ship and headed in this direction for 8 days at so many mils per hour. How far have you gone? That would have got me interested. And by high school, rather than the mundane tasks of geometry and trigonometry, nautical astronomy would have proven more effective at teaching not only both of those subjects, but given the student a true perspective of just where we were on the terrestrial plane, and also how insignificant we actually are; individually, or collectively, in the grand scheme of things.

What is Pi? 3. 14159 is the most common answer. Then browse Wikipedia for what that means. Ask the “math” student in your family. The answers you get will all be concerned with the number rather than what it really means, or stands for. That was the purpose of charting it, as I did above, almost 30 years ago while estimating the volume of pipe necessary to hold a specific amount of water. I used a 6” pipe for the example, mostly because it was easily equated to decimal form, and I had a boatload of 6” pipe on hand.

But I kept running into Pi while figuring it out, and then rechecking my figures. So, I did what Captain Ellison used to tell us at the Baltimore School of Navigation; “Draw it out!” So, I did. And while putting some of my papers in order the other evening; I am actually doing that; I ran across this and decided to post it for posterity. Forgive the non-pun. Hope someone finds this useful and lets me know! Pi for now!

Monday, June 24, 2013

"Lincoln's Code" by John Fabian Witt (2013)

When President Lincoln took office in March of 1861 he was faced with a conundrum unlike any of his predecessors had been before. The Civil War was really a revolution, and the Constitution made little, if any, provisions for such an occurrence. Consequently, Lincoln was faced with unknown territory in the prosecution of the war. This enigma was made very clear in the recent movie “Lincoln” by director Steven Spielberg. But where the movie merely scratches the surface of Lincoln’s problems with the Legislative branch of the government, this book goes much further, covering the questions of Habeas Corpus, as well as the controversial blockading of the Southern ports.

General Winfield Scott had tried to establish some sort of order during the War with Mexico in 1843, but his efforts were largely one sided and met with only limited success. At the same time, France and England were engaged in the Napoleonic conflicts and were trying to come up with an actual code of their own. It would be almost a century more before the Uniform Code of Military Justice would be written and agreed upon by most of the world's civilized nations; although the fact that they still make war upon one another calls into question the "civilized" portion of the phrase.

At times, Lincoln found himself in positions which the Founding Fathers could never have envisioned, and consequently, Lincoln was forced to interpret the Constitution in a way that he felt would preserve the Union. Blockading a nation’s own ports was unheard of at the time; and probably has not been done anywhere since; but against all legal advice and counsel, that is precisely what Lincoln did in order to strangle the supply line flowing in from foreign ports, as well as to end the exportation of cotton to pay for those goods.

The suspension of Habeas Corpus is the one most readily identifiable example of Lincoln’s actions as President during the Civil War. At one point, during the infamous “Prize Cases” which arose out of the legal wrangling concerning the blockade, Lincoln increased the numbers of sitting judges on the Supreme Court to 10, rather than the traditional 9. This gave him the extra votes necessary to “swing” one of the other judges in his favor, delivering a 6-4 victory for the decision.

The book also explores the negotiations which took place between John Dix for the Union, and Daniel Harvey Hill representing the Confederate States. Working on prisoner exchanges and rules of captivity, the two men forged the framework for what would later become established rules of warfare throughout the rest of the 19th century. It should be noted that these rules seem only to have applied to American and European nations, as the slaughter of the American Indian continued well after the Civil War was over.

Parole was the main way in which an enemy combatant could be freed once captured. But often, the parolee would simply return to the lines again, making a farce of the whole system. A Code was clearly needed. One prominent politician, Charles Sumner, had even proclaimed that once the enemy “had departed from the great principles laid down by Christ…” anything was fair game.

From blockades and blockade runners, to the war tribunals; which are still an issue today; this book delivers on all levels. As a source of history it is researched well and written with a deft hand. And, as a testament to man’s capacity to wage war and commit atrocities against his fellow man, necessitating that we have some sort of Code of Conduct when it comes to warfare, it would be hard to find an equal.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

"The Day the Finger Pickers Took Over the World" - (1997)

Chet Atkins made his mark upon music many years ago, yet he never stopped playing and singing; always pushing the boundaries of the genre he was currently engaged in just one step further. His musical talent knew no boundaries, and he seemingly pulled ideas from thin air, effecting change each time he did so.

In business dealings, he was only equaled by Ahmet Ertegun, the famed head of Atlantic Records. Both men had an ear for what the public wanted to hear, as well as buy. Both men were unafraid to take chances. And, neither one ever seemed to age. Take this album by Chet Atkins from 1997, when he was well into his 70’s.

Granted that the concept was not his own; the original version of this satirical song was first released as “The Day the Bass Players Took Over the World”, a song written by Emily Kaitz and Dave Pomeroy, extolling the virtues of the oft neglected bass players. 

From the cover art, to the actual execution of the song, Mr. Atkins shows his wit and talent with this primarily jazz oriented album. You know, it’s hard to pigeon hole some-one like Chet Atkins. He did it all, from writing, performing and producing; to acting as an agent for other artists. There aren’t many artists like Chet Atkins in any one lifetime. But that’s understandable; he was just getting started when he passed away at age 77 in 2001.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

"Northwest Hounded Police" with Droopy Dog (1956)

Droopy Dog is one of those cartoon characters who never got the acclaim he deserved. His calm demeanor always reminded me of the later Bob Newhart Show, in which he always remained unflappable, even under the most strangest of circumstances. He may have been baffled by those around him, but he remained, somehow, true to himself. So it goes with Droopy.

In this cartoon from 1956, Droopy is cast as the indefatigable Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer who must chase down and incarcerate an escaped convict. The action begins when the prisoner in Cell 13, right next to Old Sparky on Death Row, cuts his way to freedom, resulting in a chase that lands him in Mounty County, in what is presumed to be Canada. The Mounted Police are ready to hunt him down, and to prove it, they all step backwards when a volunteer is called for to lead the search. 

This leaves our friend Droopy standing alone, and though he is short, he’s more than up for the chase. The escaped convict tries everything he can to avoid the long arm, or the short reach, of Droopy and Justice. When he finally finds himself in the belly of a lion in order to evade the law, he decides to turn himself in.

The  cartoon was directed by Tex Avery, a multi-talented man indeed. Reminiscent in parts of Humphrey Bogart’s desperate attempts to have his face changed by a plastic surgeon in “High Sierra”, this cartoon will have you laughing at the lengths we all go to avoid the things we dread the most. 

But, when all is said and done, there is always a doubt about the things we do to others, and what others do to us in return.  Spoiler alert; this one ends like “Where’s Waldo?”

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sue's Balloon Ride - Up, Up and Away! / Chairman Obama

Last night a local real estate company was giving balloon rides near our house. Sue wanted a lift and this looked like a good opportunity, so off we went. I stayed down on the ground and filmed the event, as well as took some really great photos, which, for some reason, will not load correctly here.

Here she is going up…

And, though tethered to the ground in anticipation of sudden storms, there she was, floating free and away. Here’s her take on the whole thing; very low key and definitely Sue.

Tonight Re Max was giving hot air balloon rides near our home. The price was irresistible, being free. The balloon was tethered for reasons of liability and so we didn't go miles up, but it was a glorious feeling to be flying; up, up and away. I didn't want it to end, but break free and keep soaring, higher and higher…

                    CHAIRMAN OBAMA 

President Obama has called on all government workers to spy on their colleagues and turn them in. We are not in a declared war, as in World War Two, when “loose lips sank ships.” We have been told over and over again since 9/11 that we can’t become like the enemy. I think Chairman Obama has just done that for us.

President Obama ran for office touting a "transparent", open government. It would seem that he now prefers to slam the cell doors on people who "leak" the truth about the lies we are told every day. How does one "leak" the truth?

Instead of secrecy, we need more transparency in our government, and less divisive tactics on the part of the Supreme Leader. Are you listening NSA? Now, go tell the President. I cannot believe that I voted for this man...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Presidential Inaugurations -Through the Years

Here is a remarkable photograph I ran into on line at Denver The particular post I landed upon   contains photographs of every Presidential Inauguration sine Abe Lincoln’s; which was the first one to be photographed. This shot shows Chief Justice Melville W. Fuller administering the oath of office to Benjamin Harrison on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol on March 4, 1889.

The date of Presidential Inaugurations changed from March to January during FDR’s Presidency. Originally the weather was deemed too cold for the ceremony to take place before March, but with the advent of good roads, coupled with more efficient modes of transportation, made waiting for March unnecessary. And, as you will see in some of these remarkable photographs, for many of the March Inaugurations, it snowed anyway! President Taft’s Inauguration was held in almost blizzard like conditions in March.

The old black and white photographs are my favorite, of course; since I tend to live in the past; but even the newer, color photos are dazzling in their clarity and all mark the peaceful transfer of power from one duly elected administration to another. Together these photographs form an unbroken record of our success in managing to keep our nation intact over so many trying times.

Some of these Inaugurations took place in the middle of a war; a remarkable achievement when juxtaposed against the experiences in other nations, where one “strongman” reigns supreme for the duration of a conflict. Even Roosevelt had to win re-election during his unprecedented 4 terms during the Second World War. 

There’s a lot “wrong” with America at the present time. We are both economically and socially ill. But looking at these photographs assures me that we will get well again. We always have…

To see the entire collection of photographs at Denver Post use this link;

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sue's Late Spring Garden

This is where I hang out when it’s not too hot outside. This old bench that we have had for so many years still provides me with a fairly comfortable place to sit and strum the guitar. The trees which Sue planted 4 years ago have really sprung up, providing me with a little “nook” where I can play, or just sit and watch the birds flitting about. A very peaceful spot, I never thought I’d ever have a park bench of my own to sit on, let alone such a beautiful backyard.

These are some of the plants which line the patio area on three sides. Behind the banana tree is the landscaped hummingbird island. The plants which Sue has planted there all draw the amazing little birds, and we both enjoy watching them, wondering how they ever stay up, and also whether they ever really get enough to eat. It seems as if they are burning more calories than they can possibly consume, making them almost like objects of pity, rather than the amazing marvels of nature which they are.

This is the summer “office.” I’m not a sun worshiper, but I do manage to get in about 30 minutes in the sun each morning. I listen to the birds, watch the trees and bushes sway with the light breezes, and think of things to post on this blog. It’s not a bad job. However, it doesn't pay well.

And finally, regardless of the miracle of the fig tree; which is back again this year, larger than ever, and already budding; the sheer rapidity with which this cactus comes back each year never ceases to give me so much pleasure. The bright yellow blossoms will continue throughout the summer months. Last year it bloomed about 6 times, and I proudly posted a photo of each occasion. You can expect the same this year.

There’s plenty more in our garden. We have a magnolia, some oaks, maples, lilacs, lilies, herbs and spices, along with a bunch of stuff that only Sue could tell you what they are. She has planted 17 trees since we moved in here 4 years ago, along with countless bushes and flowering plants. It’s a good deal for me. She plants ‘em, and I enjoy ‘em. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Digging for Hoffa - Again

We’re digging up Hoffa; or more accurately; what we believe to be the remains of one time Teamster Boss Jimmy Hoffa, again. And each time we never find him. It’s become a parlor game, not unlike the speculation which will forever surround JFK's assassination, or even some sort of macabre version of “Where’s Waldo.” But just who was Jimmy Hoffa and why do we even care where he is?

Depending upon your point of view, Jimmy Hoffa was a thug, a racketeer, or a champion of the working man. It’s hard to decide which category the man truly fits into. But it’s plainly evident that he was killed, or “whacked” as they say in the movies and TV shows.

Either that, or he has engineered his own disappearance, way out distancing that of Osama Bin Laden, who was only  able to hide for a mere decade while the whole world supposedly looked for him. In that case, Bin Laden was an amateur compared to Mr. Hoffa, who would undoubtedly be deceased at this point, or close to it anyway.

So, why are we looking for him everywhere? In stadiums, in backyards, beneath highways; and even in basements; the FBI has been tracking a dead man for almost 40 years now. My own opinion is that it’s time we stopped. If he was, as some say, involved in the assassination of JFK, anybody he would have worked with has undoubtedly passed away as well, and so the discovery of Mr. Hoffa’s body would yield no value at this point.

At any rate the conversation would be quite boring, as Mr. Hoffa; having been dead for several decades; would have very little to say on the matter.

Monday, June 17, 2013

"How the Other Half Lives" by Jacob A. Riis (1901)

Through his remarkable series of photographs, documenting life in the tenements of old New York at the turn of the 19th Century, Jacob A. Riis has become an icon of compassionate liberalism to many folks. That’s because they haven’t read his book. This landmark classic of sociology is often spoken of as if it were a plea for compassion and sympathy for the poor. If that is your opinion of this highly vaunted work, then you have probably not read it either.

The book is somewhat akin to D.W. Griffith’s epic motion picture “Birth of a Nation” in that it stereotypes every minority then in existence in New York City. Jews are clever and suspicious; Chinese are opium pushers and white slave traders; the Italians are happy people except when pushed too far and their passionate nature gets the better of them; while the Irish are just plain filthy and would rather drink than work. And all are criminals of one sort or another.

While quoting from the crime statistics available at the time he notes that the majority of the criminals come from the slums. Crime itself is the result of unclean living and poor habits, as well as the choice of lifestyles made by the individual. When the well to do come down to the slums for entertainment, they are sometimes unwittingly dragged into these lifestyles themselves; making them victims of the poor.

As a kid I used to go to Riis Park in the borough of Queens. Riis Park is the beach which sits next door to the Breezy Point Section, which gained widespread fame this past year in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Riis Park was the brainchild of Robert Moses, who oversaw the building of most of the bridges and tunnels, as well as countless parks throughout the 5 boroughs. He named Riis Park for the author of this book, who is often considered to be a champion of the poor, and presumably would have wanted poor people to have a sunny, open place to go for fresh air. But, I wonder if Mr. Moses ever read this book.

Perhaps I am being too harsh upon the author; after all, those were different times. And he did expose the horrid conditions of the city’s slum dwellings through his photographs. It was just somewhat of a shock to read the author’s views on the predicament of the people he was trying to help.

For better, or worse, we are all products of the environment in which we live. For all the flaws in the way he has expressed himself in this book, he did lead a crusade that helped, in some way, to draw attention to the plight of the poor. Though most of the social ills which he decries in this narrative still exist today, he does deserve credit for being among the first of the moral crusaders who attempted to do something about the conditions he saw to be unfit.

And, then there are also those remarkable photographs he took, leaving us a window into our past, which might not always be so pretty, but represent who we once were. May it be that we never go that far backwards again.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day Loot!

Today is Father’s day so I get presents, phone calls and a day off. I’m sitting next to the banana tree Sue brought me, holding the chocolates and Olive Soap and Black Tea which I love so much. The soap and tea are from Sarah, the chocolates from Sue, and this picture was taken yesterday!

The best part, aside from eating at one of our favorite restaurants, will be the phone calls from the boys and our granddaughters. Last week, Aliyah, our oldest granddaughter; she’s nine; called us out of the blue just to say hi. Man, it doesn't get better than that.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the Dad’s out there. We did well!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

"Helter Swelter" - Screen Song (1950)

I used to love these Screen Song cartoons as a kid. They were easily identified by the “bouncing ball” which skipped along with the lyrics on the screen, keeping time to the music. I didn’t know how to read yet, but the bouncing ball would signal me when to go to the next word, or note. 

The first cartoon I remember watching with a “bouncing ball” was the “Glow Worm” song- “Shine little glow worm, glimmer…” made famous by Bing Crosby. There was a cartoon version of it; I’ll have to try and find it to post here.

This cartoon heralds the coming of summer, which will arrive this coming Friday. I probably could have waited a week to post this one, but with school letting out I thought I’d let it rip. Lots of sight gags and one liners in this one before you get to the finale, which is the “bouncing ball” leading the audience in a sing a long of “In the Good Old Summertime”, the old classic from the 1890’s.  Enjoy the cartoon and the change in seasons!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Flag Day and the 49 Star Flag - 1959

I remember the day as clearly as if it were yesterday. We were getting a new flag in my Kindergarten class- but there was a twist to it. Alaska was being admitted as a state, to be closely followed in a year, by Hawaii. There had been 48 stars on the flag since about 1912, and now there was set to be 2 changes to the flag in one year’s time. Although the school authorities were very much concerned with the fiscal aspects of the changes, I was more enthralled with the idea that I was living through an historical event.

The schools I went to were the Public Schools in Brooklyn, New York. In my case I was at PS 197 on Kings Highway and East 22nd Street, when these events occurred. Our teacher, a young boy’s dream named Mrs. Gerber; she wore seamed stockings; explained that buying two flags in one year for each classroom would be too costly for the City to bear. Instead, they were jumping ahead to the following year when Hawaii would be admitted, making 50 states, and 50 stars, on the flag. Seriously, I was a bit miffed at the decision, even at the age of five. Let me explain.

My favorite TV show at the time was “Yukon King”, which starred Preston Foster, who played a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman, and his dog, who pulled his sled. So, I was very excited to hear that we were getting a piece of the action in that part of the country! Hawaii, on the other hand, was just a very faraway place where pineapples came from, for which I had no use. I could not, at the age of five, see the strategic advantage of having Hawaii as a state, thus extending our borders. The events at Pearl Harbor were just a vague concept to me at the time. I knew that something had happened there, but wasn't quite sure what.

Alaska, on the other hand, held an immediate connection for me. It was, as I said earlier, my favorite TV show at the time. So, this is my earliest memory of our flag. I do vaguely recall learning the Pledge of Allegiance, but that was more of an assignment than a personal connection. The flag is human to me; when it flaps in the breeze I am happy. Some may call that imperialistic, or empirical. I just know that I grew up feeling pretty secure under that banner. Though the past few administrations; both Democratic and Republican; have been disappointing to say the least, the flag has remained as a symbol of what we once were, and can be again. 

By the way, if you were looking for some sort of lesson in the above story, sorry to disappoint you. It's just a story about one of my earliest memories of the flag.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"A Brave Vessel" by Hobson Woodward (2006)

Here is a story which I apparently missed, and it’s a good one. One evening in 1611, Richard Strachey was sitting in a theater in England watching a play by William Shakespeare, a new one called “The Tempest”, when he began to recognize portions of the dialogue as being overly familiar. It should not have come as such a surprise, as Mr. Strachey had written those same words; or at least ones very close to it; when he had written home during a voyage to rescue the colonists at Jamestown, in Virginia, about 2 years earlier. He had also written about his experiences for a few small publications, which had undoubtedly crossed the eyes of the Great Bard.

Although Shakespeare’s play is an allegorical one, the island depicted in it is decidedly based upon the real island of Bermuda, the place Mr. Strachey found himself stranded when his vessel broke apart in a storm while headed to Jamestown. From that island the survivors were able to reach Virginia and in some measure keep the colony alive during the first few winters.

The Sea Venture was one of nine ships which set sail on a voyage to establish connections between Jamestown and England. During the voyage across, every obstacle that could befall a ship and her crew was visited upon these nine vessels. The Sea Venture, with a compliment of 153, all survived and found them- selves aground in Bermuda. From there, going directly west, they could make landfall near the colony of Jamestown. But first they would have to survive themselves, as well as repair their ship.

Author Hobson Woodson really got my attention with this story, which was unfamiliar to me. It delivers just the right hint of scandal, without compromising the accuracy of the real history. Had the Sea Venture failed in her mission, the history of the colonization of America might well have been written differently than it turned out. 

The book was released in 2006, and it sits in the “stacks”, apparently seldom read, of my local library. This is what I love most about libraries. You can wander the aisles and sometimes there is nothing there at all. But then; on another visit; a book which you passed by hundreds of times, catches your eye. 

And, for some odd reason or another; perhaps the cover, or the weather; you pick it up and take it home. That’s when you find something which enriches your life with some new found knowledge, seemingly unimportant in the past, but which you just couldn't live without knowing about now.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

"The Chicago 8" with Danny Masterson and Orlando James (2011)

Based on actual transcripts from the Chicago 8 trial, this film explores the heady world of the late 1960’s and the 1968 Democratic Convention. It is focused mainly on the subsequent trial of 8 main participants in the demonstrations that took place there in what was described by news reporters as a “police riot.” 

The names are familiar to anyone who grew up during those days; Abbie Hoffman, played by Thomas Ian Nicholas; Jerry Rubin, played by Danny Masterson of “The ‘70’s Show”; Bobbie Seale, played by Orlando Jones; Judge Julius Hoffman, played by Phillip Baker Hall, and Defense Attorney William Kunstler, played by Gary Cole. There were 5 other defendants, one of whom was later elected to Congress and married to Jane Fonda. You may decide on which was the greater achievement.

The film is narrowly focused on the abuses of the Prosecution during the trial, including the infamous binding and gagging of Black Panther Bobby Seale, who was acting as his own attorney. A very neat trick to pull off while bound to a chair with a rag stuffed in your mouth.

To be fair, the film leaves out an awful lot about the plans to disrupt the convention in a way that would insure violence took place. However, the police did go way overboard in their re-action; deliberately corralling the protesters into the park from 3 sides, with the river to their backs and no place to go when ordered to disperse. To anyone who grew up at the time, watching it unfold on TV was just as unbelievable as watching Lee Harvey Oswald murdered only 5 years earlier. It just didn’t seem possible.

Judge Hoffman was the perfect villain for the role which was thrust upon him. He was ruthless in his censuring of both the defendants and their attorney, William Kunstler. At various times during the trial he had almost all of the black spectators escorted from the courtroom for even the slightest whisper. Everything portrayed in this film actually happened, which is what makes it such an important film to see, if only to dispel the notion that “it can’t happen here.” It did. And it can happen again.

The music was, of course, all 1960’s and there was body painting and drug use enough to satisfy viewers of all ages. But that’s the part of the film that kind of annoyed me. They were heady days, no doubt about it, and there was plenty of drug use and body painting going on.  But the younger people seeing this film may misconstrue these to be what the “revolution” was all about. And that’s a pity.

The film did begin with an encapsulated history of the war, beginning with Kennedy, and breezes through the Johnson years, which is when the largest build-up of American forces took place. The war is thus cast as being the sole result of President Nixon’s policies, which drew down the number of forces from 500,000 when he took office, to less than 45,000 within about 6 years.

As I am writing this I realize that the film takes place at the Democratic Convention, yet the trial seems to center on the policies of the newly elected President Nixon. This annoyed me, as it misrepresents not only history, but also the actual purpose of the demonstrators in Chicago at the time of the Convention. Most were there to keep Hubert Humphrey from getting the nomination for Presidency, having campaigned hard for Eugene McCarthy and then Robert Kennedy, who had been killed only about 8 weeks before the convention took place. Both of these men, and recent events, are completely left out of the story.

This is an interesting film to watch, as it exposes the dynamics of political dissent in America back in the 1960’s. Watching the events in the courtroom unfold, you realize that the defendants never had a chance. The word had come down from above that the men, and their lawyer, were to be convicted at all costs. The proof of this assertion is that not one of the defendants were convicted of the crimes for which they were charged. They all received jail terms for “Contempt of Court”, arising out of their own  courtroom antics, and all were; at a later time; pardoned, calling into question whether they were really convicted by anyone but themselves in the first place.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Edward Snowden - Patriot

By now everyone on the planet has heard of Edward Snowden, and almost everyone has an opinion of him. There is also an abundance of opinions concerning his actions in releasing the cold, hard facts about the United States covert intelligence programs he has outlined.

It seems; and this should come as no surprise to anyone; that the United States Government; the people we employ; have been spying on us. From e-mails to phone calls, your private thoughts and messages have been; and are now; being scanned by someone at NSA in Fort Meade, Maryland. 24/7 there is someone watching and reading the internet. There’s lots of talk about only using “keywords” to read the millions of messages sent daily, but I think we all know that’s a crock.

So, now Mr. Snowden is in hiding. This morning he disappeared from his hotel in Hong Kong, which has an extradition treaty with the United States. I hope he left on his own. He cannot go to China, as we have some financial issues with that nation; which make Mr. Snowden a valuable bargaining chip for both sides; yet there is virtually no country which will have him at this point. And more importantly, even if there were someplace he could go, there is no way for him to get there. Remember, too, that there is no way for him to profit from this venture.

This brings us to an interesting juncture which has been in the news lately. Is it alright to use a drone on an American citizen abroad; as we have done in the past; when that citizen has violated some law, as Mr. Snowden has done? My own belief is that there is a vast difference between targeting an American-Taliban, fighting against our own troops, and someone like Mr. Snowden.

Recall that Mr. Snowden has, in his possession, further information which he has refused to release due to the danger it would pose to both National Security, as well as our troops on the ground. He is not a zealot; he is an individual taking a principled stand. Much like the whistleblower, Mr. Snowden has probably thrown his life in the trash for you and me.

Personally, I don’t care if someone is reading my e-mails; I feel sorry for them. But the point is larger than that. Much like in George Orwell’s “1984” we have come to live in a society where truth is fiction and fiction is truth. In my book, that’s a lie. Mr. Snowden has done nothing but try to make us all aware of that fact. And in my book, that makes him a hero, as well as a Patriot.

Monday, June 10, 2013

"70 Most Unforgettable Characters" - Reader's Digest (1967)

The binder of this volume of short narratives was the only portion of the cover with any writing on it, hence the unusual, at least for me, display of the book cover above. This is a perfect book for vacations, or sitting around the airport waiting for a plane. Filled with 70 of the most wonderful, and unforgettable characters, just as it says on the cover, this book will inspire you as well as make you laugh out loud.

When I was a young boy I used to eagerly read the “My Most Unforgettable Person” story in every Reader’s Digest I came across. And, in those days, they were everywhere. I even remember reading them at my Grandmother Nana’s house. Barbershops, shoeshine parlors; you name the place and there was a Reader’s Digest in there somewhere. It might be an older issue- but they still had my favorite feature in them.

This book is the same as those old issues were. There is something; or should I say someone; in here for everybody. There are accounts of the obscure, such as elevator operators; and also the recollections of newspapermen, doctors, writers, and so much more between these plain looking covers.

Without going into detail about all of the 70 people represented here, I will give you a glimpse of my favorites. There is the account by Jackie Robinson and his admiration for Branch Rickey when he integrated major league baseball in the era of Jim Crow.

There is also the story of a delicatessen owner who becomes friends with a Supreme Court Justice, to the betterment of both men. Journalist H.L. Mencken is remembered by author H. Allen Smith; Cole Porter is fondly recalled by a friend who tells of the debilitating pain which the composer suffered for 35 years; all the while with a smile on his face and a song in his heart. On the way to the hospital after the initial accident which caused his lifelong pain, he finished the lyrics to “You’ll Never Know.”

Not only the famous are represented here; there are stories of Preachers, Nuns, and even working men and women who have made a difference in the lives of others. For instance, there is the story of Oddie Cox, an educator of the so-called “Negro Schools” in North Carolina during the days of Jim Crow. He had been the Principal of the Institution he ran, but only gets his teaching certificate 20 years after first enrolling; not because he didn’t attend; but because he took only courses which would benefit his students when he passed that knowledge onto them. The College Board awarded him a degree based on his accumulated knowledge, and the way in which he used that to better the lives of others.

The stories of a woman Chimney Sweep; helicopter pioneer Igor Sikorsky; and Pearl S. Buck’s account of an old Chinese Empress, all make this a wonderfully fulfilling read. There is literally something in here to satisfy anyone who might pick it up. Ma Pullen, of Pullen House fame in Alaska, is a great example.

And, as always with this type of book, you can pick it up and open to any chapter to begin, making it a perfect book for the beach, as well as the aforementioned airports. If the book is not available at your local library, then you can pick this one up on line for less than $5 bucks. Sue picked this one up in a basket full of books she bought last weekend at an auction. She bought the basket, but I’m reading the books.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Sunday Sermon - "The Bishop's Ass"

I thought I’d skip the usual Sunday post this week in exchange for an old joke and an even older lesson. Humor can convey the most important of the things we learn in life. All you have to do is listen, and maybe laugh a bit at yourself. The illustration above is by Norman Rockwell and is titled "Walking to Church." It was done in 1953.

A pastor entered his donkey in a race and it won. The pastor was so pleased with the donkey that he entered it in the race again, and it won again. The local newspaper read:


The Bishop was so upset with this kind of publicity that he ordered the pastor not to enter the donkey in another race. The next day, the local newspaper headline read:


This was too much for the bishop so he ordered the pastor to get rid of the donkey. The pastor decided to give it to a nun in a nearby convent. The local paper, hearing of the news, posted the following headline the next day:


The bishop fainted. He informed the nun that she would have to get rid of the donkey, so she sold it to a farmer for $10. The next day the paper read:


This was too much for the bishop. So, he ordered the nun to buy back the donkey and lead it to the plains where it could run wild. The next day the headlines read:


The bishop was buried the next day. And, the moral of the story is; being concerned about public opinion can bring you much grief and misery, and even shorten your life.

So be yourself and enjoy life. Only worry about your own ass, not someone else's. You'll be a lot happier and live longer.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

"Spooky Hooky" with the Little Rascals (1936)

When Spanky has Porky put an absence note on the teacher’s desk at the end of the school day, so that they can go to the circus the next day, they have no idea that their teacher has made plans to take the class there as a surprise.

With the school locked for the night, the boys must brave the dark to retrieve the phony note.  With a dark and fierce storm raging; at least it seemed that way to me when I watched it as a kid; the boys enter the building, waking the janitor, and scaring him half to death before doing the same to themselves. The scene with the skeleton really caught my attention at age 6.

Naturally, the boys are outwitted by their common enemy; adults; and when they catch cold due to their exploits they cannot attend the circus the next day due to the very real colds they once strove so hard to pretend they had. As for the stereotyping in these films; I've said it before, and I’ll repeat it now; the common enemy of the gang were the adults.

The characters were all stereotyped to one degree or another. There was the arch typical bully, the good girl, the fat kid, the black kid, the little kid, the maiden teacher; hell, even the dog was stereotyped. So, forget the political correctness for about 6 minutes and enjoy the film for what it was meant to be. And whatever you do, don’t listen to Spanky. He’s always getting the gang into trouble!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Death Panelist?

This was written one day prior to a Federal Judge granting a Waiver to Sarah Murnaghan on Thursday. The Federal Government is not expected to appeal the decision. But, the fact still remains that this family was put through what amounts to more than just an abuse of process; they were subject to the kind of treatment we were told would not be tolerated under the current administration. This problem could have been resolved with the stroke of a pen, as it was for a major campaign contributor several years ago; when he was seeking permission to import an illegal medication, unavailable for you and I. 
What is wrong with the Democratic Party? They seem to be rudderless; lacking in courage to do the right thing in this case about the 10 year old girl, Sarah Murnaghan, in Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. She is in need of a pediatric lung transplant, but, according to existing health care regulations, she cannot have one until she is 12. To be fair, there is currently no pediatric lung available for her, but there is an adult one which can be modified and allow the girl to live. But the Democrats will not even discuss an exemption to spare her life.

Naturally, the Republicans, and conservative talk radio are having a field day with this issue, trumpeting the rise of the dreaded “Obama Death Panels.” Republican leaders are calling for HHS Director Kathleen Sebelius to make an exemption to the rule and allow the girl, who has about 2 weeks left to live, to get the lung. As of this writing, not one Democrat has even made a statement in defense of; or in opposition to; the inaction of the Director, whom they chose.

Some are ranting that if they make this exception it will open the flood gates for more of these “special circumstances”, thus bankrupting an already overburdened system. This is nonsense. Here is an opportunity; ready-made; to show true bi-partisanship on this issue, and yet the two parties cannot put down their war hatchets long enough to save this little girls life. It’s shameful, and at the same time, very suggestive of what lies in store for most Americans in the future.

Bureaucrats will be making decisions on whether you, or a loved one, will be allowed to live. Does that constitute a “death panel”? I don’t think that it does, but it’s awfully hard to understand why Ms. Sebelius, who has the power to make this decision, will not even comment on the issue beyond stating that she will have the issue “investigated”, a proposal which will certainly take longer than the little girl has to live.

You may ask, “What about the press? Where are they on this story?” And you wouldn't be alone. This is news of the most heartbreaking kind; a little girl being deliberately deprived of the one thing which can save her life; and yet the press is strangely quiet. They seem to believe that, just as a tree falling in the forest makes no noise if no one is around to hear it, they can ignore this story altogether. But you can be sure they will make a buck or two on it after the little girl has died.

There is so much blame to go around on this issue; but the biggest blame of all would be if you read this and do not make that call to your Congressperson, or Senator, and demand that something be done; even if you do not  really believe in this cause, then at least to dispel the Republican’s assertion that there really is a “Death Panel.” Unless; of course; there is.

I have spent Wednesday morning phoning my elected representatives from North Carolina to urge Ms. Sebelius to change her mind. Not only were the offices of the Democrats I contacted disinterested in doing anything about it, but Ms. Sebelius re-iterated her stance on this issue on Wednesday. I urge you to phone your Representatives and Senators asking them to intervene. I hope that you will, as the sands of time are quickly running out for Sarah.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

"The Dictator" with Sasha Baron Cohen (2012)

This is the first film I have seen by Sacha Cohen. I wasn’t really interested in the Borat films he has released in the past, but this one seemed more along the lines of “An American Carol”, so I figured I would give it a shot. I’m glad I did.

It is also a  reeling, fast paced film which explores, in a comedic fashion, the actual events which take place each day and drive the insanity of world politics. Sadly; though the film is hysterically funny; much of it is not too far-fetched. Watching this film, with the Iraq War still fresh in our minds, helps call attention to the strange and haphazard way in which our leaders sometimes deal with world politics.

The plot is simple; it concerns a Mid-Eastern dictator from the fictional country of Wadiyah named Aladeen, played by Sacha Cohen. He has been threatening the world with a nuclear weapon which may, or my not exist. When he is summoned to New York for a conference at the United Nations, things don’t go as planned. His second in command, Tamir, played by Ben Kingsley in a delightful departure from his more “serious” roles, secretly wants Aladeen gone, and helps to engineer the plot that finds the great dictator beardless and without any means of support in the greatest city in the world. 

Because of his opposition to a peace treaty he is marked for death by one side, and also sought by his own military. In addition he has all of the many enemies he has created during his years in power in Wadiyah to worry about.

Adopting the name Efawadh, he finds himself in Brooklyn with a pretty young American woman who has no idea who he is. She owns an organic food store and is very independent, which is something Aladeen is not used to. But there is something about her that makes him want to understand more about life.

Soon he discovers that the neighborhood he is living in is inhabited by all of the people he has formerly ordered executed. It seems that his trusted guards were not carrying out those executions, which were not justified in the first place, and sending the condemned to settle in Brooklyn. He begins to recognize them, as they do him. Clearly, the great Aladeen is in a bind.

When the time for the vote comes at the United Nations, a “double” has been prepared to take his place and sign an historic peace treaty with the world. If Aladeen can get into the General Assembly and denounce the impostor, then he will be the feared dictator again, with the whole world groveling at his feet. Finding the impostor and taking his place is no challenge, and he mounts the podium to nullify the treaty.

As he begins to declare all that is wrong with democracy, the girl from Brooklyn manages to arrive at the General Assembly. Upon seeing her, he begins to glorify all of the things that he finds so imperfect about democracy, realizing that only the imperfections of true freedom could have created a woman as wonderful as the one he has found.

Directed by Larry Charles, and written by Sacha Cohen and Alec Berg, this film is a wonderful satire about the fools and clowns who run our planet. It’s also about the humanity that they may not realize exists in us all; perhaps even them-selves. This is a very funny, and true to life film.

Monday, June 3, 2013

"Out of Order" by Sandra Day O'Connor (2013)

The most remarkable thing about this book is that it has never been written before; but then again, we never had a Supreme Court Justice like Sandra O’Connor before either. An accomplished author, the Honorable Justice has taken all of the tales about the Supreme Court; its history, it’s members, it’s legends and tall tales; and place them all in one book.

With the same style and dry sense of humor which marked her previous memoirs, the Justice has written an account of the daily workings of the Supreme Court in the 21st Century, and how those changes reflect the changes of our constantly changing nation. The Court is really kind of a mirror of whom we are, and if we don’t like what we see, then we have to make the changes ourselves.

History buffs will enjoy all of the minutiae in the book, as well as some funny stories about the Justices themselves; both living and deceased. Some were liked by their colleagues, some were loathed. The important thing being portrayed here is that the Justices are just people, entrusted with the care of the Law in our nation, and as outlined in the Constitution they are sworn to uphold.

Exploring the appointments of the various Presidents lends a unique insight into history. There have been only 3 Presidents who never made an appointment to the Court. There have also been issues which the Court has come head to head with the Executive branch in their attempt to interpret the meaning of the law under our Constitution.

Sometimes they have gotten it wrong, as in Plessy v Ferguson, the so-called “separate but equal” ruling in the late 19th Century. That mistake stood for 50 years, or more, but the point is that it was corrected. We live in an elastic nation, and Justice O’Connor has written a book that does our Court system, and the people who have set on the bench, a great service in making them appear more “human” than they have been portrayed before. This was a very quick and enjoyable read.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

"Plastic Jesus" - Cool Hand Luke

Everyone remembers the scene from Cool Hand Luke when Luke comforts himself on his mother’s old banjo after she has passed away. The story behind the song is kind of interesting, so I thought I’d share it with you.

The song is not as old as most people would think. In the film it is portrayed as an old gospel tune, but in reality it was only about 4 years old at the time. It was written as a joke to parody gospel music and came in many variations. The original credit for the song, as far as I can ascertain, is due to a man  named Ernie Marrs, who was born in 1932,  passing away in 1998.

Marrs wrote the song for the magazine “Sing Out” in 1964, and from there it took on a life of its own. But when Luke sang his version in the film “Cool Hand Luke”, the song was taken to be an old gospel tune. From such bits of misinformation, legends are born. Other sources credit Ed Rush and George Cromarty with the initial concept of the parody.

Since it is Sunday, I thought I’d run a bit of pseudo-gospel along with the back story and a whole bunch of the various lyrics which have cropped up over the decades since the song was first conceived. 

Some of the verses were undoubtedly written after consuming a bit of “white lightning” and I bear no responsibility for their content. I imagine that most of these were lyrics sung at the bar with the guys on Saturday night, while the wife was home getting ready for church in the morning.

Plastic Jesus (Variable lyrics)

Well, I don't care if it rains or freezes,
Long as I have my plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car
Through all trials and tribulations,
We will travel every nation,
With my plastic Jesus I'll go far.


Plastic Jesus, plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car
Through my trials and tribulations,
And my travels thru the nations,
With my plastic Jesus I'll go far.

I don't care if it rains or freezes
As long as I've got my Plastic Jesus
Glued to the dashboard of my car,
You can buy Him phosphorescent
Glows in the dark, He's Pink and Pleasant,
Take Him with you when you're travelling far

I don't care if it's dark or scary
Long as I have magnetic Mary
Ridin' on the dashboard of my car
I feel I'm protected amply
I've got the whole damn Holy Family
Riding on the dashboard of my car

You can buy a Sweet Madonna
Dressed in rhinestones sitting on a
Pedestal of abalone shell
Goin' ninety, I'm not wary
'Cause I've got my Virgin Mary
Guaranteeing I won't go to Hell

I don't care if it bumps or jostles
Long as I got the Twelve Apostles
Bolted to the dashboard of my car
Don't I have a pious mess
Such a crowd of holiness
Strung across the dashboard of my car


No, I don't care if it rains or freezes
Long as I have my plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car
But I think he'll have to go
His magnet ruins my radio
And if we have a wreck he'll leave a scar

Riding through the thoroughfare
With his nose up in the air
A wreck may be ahead, but he don't mind
Trouble coming, he don't see
He just keeps his eyes on me
And any other thing that lies behind


Plastic Jesus, Plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car
Though the sun shines on his back
Makes him peel, chip, and crack
A little patching keeps him up to par

When pedestrians try to cross
I let them know who's boss
I never blow my horn or give them warning
I ride all over town
Trying to run them down
And it's seldom that they live to see the morning


Plastic Jesus, Plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car
His halo fits just right
And I use it as a sight
And they'll scatter or they'll splatter near and far

When I'm in a traffic jam
He don't care if I say Damn
I can let all sorts of curses roll
Plastic Jesus doesn't hear
For he has a plastic ear
The man who invented plastic saved my soul


Plastic Jesus, Plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car
Once his robe was snowy white
Now it isn't quite so bright
Stained by the smoke of my cigar

God made Christ a Holy Jew
God made Him a Christian too
Paradoxes populate my car
Joseph beams with a feigned elan
From the shaggy dash of my furlined van
Famous cuckold in the master plan

Naughty Mary, smug and smiling
Jesus dainty and beguiling
Knee-deep in the piling of my van
His message clear by night or day
My phosphorescent plastic Gay
Simpering from the dashboard of my van

When I'm goin' fornicatin
I got my ceramic Satan
Sinnin' on the dashboard of my Winnebago Motor Home
The women know I'm on the level
Thanks to the wild-eyed stoneware devil
Ridin' on the dashboard of my Winnebago Motor Home
Sneerin' from the dashboard of my Winnebago Motor Home
Leering from the dashboard of my van

If I weave around at night
And the police think I'm tight
They'll never find my bottle, though they ask
Plastic Jesus shelters me
For His head comes off, you see
He's hollow, and I use Him for a flask


Plastic Jesus, plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car
Ride with me and have a dram
Of the blood of the Lamb
Plastic Jesus is a holy bar

There is nothin that is cuter
than a smilin Jolly Buddha,
Ridin on the dashboard of my car,
I don't have no idol cuter,
comes in plastic, bronze and pewter,
Take him with me when I go afar.

Jolly Buddha, fat and squattin,
on a pad of aspirin cotton,
He's with me wherever I may roam,
When it's late and I start to hurry,
I know he ain't gonna worry,
He looks at me and all he says is, "Oooommmmmmm."

There is nothing that is gaucher
Than eatin food that isn't kosher,
Right in front of my smilin Moses' face,
I'm afraid that he'll awaken
When I'm eatin ham or bacon,
And throw them Ten Commandments in my face.

I don't care if I'm broke or starvin'
As long as I've got a fish named Darwin
Glued to the trunklid of my car
God, I'm feeling so evolved
Drivin' with my problems solved
Proclaiming what I think of what we are

Riding home one foggy night,
With my honey cuddled tight,
I missed a curve and off the road we veered.
My windshield got smashed-up good,
And my darling graced the hood.
Plastic Jesus, He had disappeared.

Plastic Jesus! Plastic Jesus,
No longer chides me with His holy grin.
Doctors in the X-ray room
Found Him in my darling's womb.
Someday, He'll be born again!

I don't care if it rains or freezes
Long as I got my plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car
He's the dude with the rusty nails,
Walks on water, don't need no sails
Riding on the dashboard of me car

I don't care if the night is scary
As long as I got the Virgin Mary
Sittin' on the dashboard of my car.
She don't slip and she don't slide
Cuz her butt is magnetized
Sittin' on the dashboard of my car.

Now I'm feeling quite contrary,
cos I got the Virgin Mary
Sitting on the dashboard of my car
There's no room for imperfection,
in my Catholic collection
Which sits upon the dashboard of my car

Jesus, Mary and St. Patrick,
now I've got the holy hat-trick
Sitting on the dashboard of my car
One more statue I've got to get
is the plastic Bernadette
Sitting on the dashboard of my car

Plastic Jesus, you've got to go,
your magnet's burst my radio
Sitting on the dashboard of my car
But I, won't lose faith and I won't lose hope
cos, now I've got a pope on a rope
Swinging from the dashboard of my car

Once as I drove to Knock,
at a petrol station I got a shock
at the special offers that they had for me
20 more points and I can barter for a Jesus with stigmata
to sit upon the dashboard of my car.