Monthly Archives: January 2015

The Tallest Guy

Another memory of my mother. This time from one of her college friends and sorority sisters, and it seems one of the people responsible for my existence.

I remember one incident in college trying to climb up the fire escape back into the sorority house when we were bored and entertaining ourselves.  I was standing on top of Elaine’s shoulders trying to reach the ladder to pull it down, while she was perched on top of several bricks.  Needless to say, the tower came tumbling down!

Also, I remember singing, “Does your chewing gum lose its flavor” on the way to Elaine and Bill’s wedding (I was her maid of honor).  The exact words are “Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight?  When your mother says don’t chew it, do you swallow it in spite?  Can you catch it on your tonsils?  Can you heave it left and right?  Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight?”  The next verse started with “Here comes the blushing bride, the groom is at her side.”  Hence, the reason we were singing the song.  Terribly mature song, wouldn’t you say?

And lastly, I fixed Elaine up on a blind date once, and her criteria consisted of one thing and one thing only; she wanted the tallest guy.  The man I fixed her up with?  Bill Sears.  Happy 70th Elaine!  Love ya!

Cosby

cosby

Here’s what I said about this book after reading it this summer. “Difficult to read at first as it read like a bad research paper. But once Bill grew up I thought this was really interesting. I didn’t know the difficulty Coz went through. I also enjoyed reading the bits of routines that I still know by heart.” I tend to write short reviews.

The difficulty that I was referring to was Cosby being labeled too black and militant by some and not black or militant enough by others. Of course the book said nothing about him drugging and raping women. What a drag. I tend to try believe the best about people. But the evidence is a little overwhelming. As a kid I had at least a dozen Cosby albums, and most of those I had memorized. I watched Fat Albert. And in the 1980s the whole family enjoyed The Cosby Show. I loved the guy. So what seems to be the fact that he date raped and sexually assaulted dozens of women is hard to take. That’s evil behavior. And I know there are books written and films produced and discussions carried on about the separation between the artist as a person and his or her art. But it’s one thing when an artist makes beautiful art, but isn’t a beautiful person, when they’re bad to their wife, or a-holes to those around them. But decades of evil behavior. How can I, or my son, who I shared my Cosby albums and The Cosby Show with, and he loved them as I did, how can we enjoy those episodes or those beloved routines again. I’m not sure I can. And that sucks. And I see that mourning my childhood is a pretty self centered response to the rape and sexual assault of dozens of women. But sad is how I felt first before I was angry at a person who would do those horrible things.

Go Navy

gonavy

I’ve never been in the military, but I lived in a navy town once. Soon after Maryellen and I got married, we movies to Virginia Beach. It was far away, different than what we were used to, and Mare had been there before and said it was nice. Thinking back, those four years were kind of our rags to “riches” story.

When we first got there we lived in an old canvas tent on the beach while we looked for work and a place to live. What were we thinking. It turns out potential employers want a real address, and potential landlords want you to have a job.

Fortunately we found a sketchy apartment complex that was willing to offer us a six month lease. They didn’t trust us for the full year. That worked out for us too. During that time when we’d tell people where we lived, they’d say, “Oh my, you need to get out of there.”

Six months later we did. We rented an apartment in Norfolk from a crazy woman who saw visions of the future that she didn’t remember seeing until the future had come to pass, took us to small claims court (maybe we took her, I don’t remember) over a preexisting carpet stain that was as big as our dog that she claimed our dog made, and then called us for a job reference.

Finally we ended up in our first house. It was a tiny little thing in a neighborhood of tiny little things built for the soldiers coming back from WWII. I think the breaker box had six breakers and was outside the house. We loved our little house and neighborhood, Norfolk, and mostly the amazing people we got to know there. It was a great four years.

 

 

Three-fold coming of Christ

The communion messages of Christmas keep on coming. This is from Christmas time of last year.  I know there are some who will think I missed an important coming of Christ from my list.  I did that on purpose. I thought about it when I wrote this.  I knew it might upset some people.  And in fact, someone did indeed feel the need to say publicly that I should have included the last coming of Christ in my message.  But I think focusing on that one tends to undo the last one I mention.  I think it’s important that we don’t sit on our fat butts and wait for god to sort out everyone’s problems in the end.  It’s our job, I believe, to bring comfort to the afflicted, and affliction to the comfortable.  But who want to do that when we are the comfortable.  Anyway, I’ve gone and got myself all riled up.  Peace.

 

Well, it’s the second week of advent.

Advent, as some of you know, is the time for anticipating Christ’s coming. One cool thing about advent, and communion time, is that it gives Christ’s coming context.  It fills in the before and the after of this important event.  And I want to do that a little this morning.

Also, I like the idea that we’re anticipating a three-fold coming of Christ. There’s Christ’s coming into each of our own individual lives, in whatever shape that takes.  There’s Christ’s coming into the world as baby Jesus.  And Christ’s continual entering into the world through us, his church, his hands and feet.  I want to talk about all three of these comings—stories we relive every year.
Each of us has lived in darkness.  All of us, I’ll be so bold to say, still struggle with that darkness.  And lighting the advent candles, one candle, one week at a time, reminds of this.  The darkness, slowly gives way to light as the candles of hope, peace, joy, and love are lit.  And we remember, whether it was at a junior high church camp, or after a long struggle with addiction, or at a time when you weren’t even looking and were surprised by Christ’s coming into your life, we remember our own first encounter with Christ and our movement from darkness into light.  And we are encouraged to continue.

And of course there’s the coming of Christ as the baby Jesus.  If ever an event needed context in the world, this is it.  As silly as it is to hear the character in the film Talladega Nights pray to 8 pound, six ounce, newborn baby Jesus, the point is made.  To much of the world, safe little baby Jesus is the one we know, the one we’re comfortable with, the one who doesn’t challenge us.

Because we know baby Jesus grew up.  And he lived out the words of the prophets.  “Undo the bands of the yoke, And let the oppressed go free.  Divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; and when you see the naked, to cover him.”   When god came to us, here on earth, as a man, he told us to care for the poor and the sick and the outcast.  And he lived an example of this for us.  And he showed us what happens when you stand up against the powers of the world, and stand with and for the weak and disenfranchised.  He was crucified.

But after they killed him, he came back.  And he continues to come back.  This is the third coming of Christ that I mentioned before. Every time someone visits a prisoner, or feeds the hungry, or clothes those that need clothes, or sits with the weird lonely person at school or work, or shares what they have with folks that won’t be able to return the favor; there’s Jesus, the one in prison and hungry and naked, the outcasts sitting by themselves, those hungry kids we see on TV, and the one’s in our own community.  And there’s Jesus too, visiting, feeding and clothing; our hands and feet, our time and effort, hopefully. Jesus coming into the world again and again and again.  Merry Christmas.

Amen.

Here

here

I ordered this book with some Christmas money to help my daughter qualify for free shipping.  I’m glad I did. This is a totally cool idea executed very well.

Here, by Richard McGuire, is a series of illustrations of the same place in space, the corner of a room of a house during most of the 20th century, and the place where the house would one day be prior to that. There are also pages that show the place a few centuries in the future. That’s all very fun. To see the house and its occupants going through day-to-day life, and then see what the land looked like half a million, or 500 years ago, to watch native Americans or prehistoric beasts pass by juxtapositioned with a little girl taking a nap on the carpet or a woman hanging a mirror in the same spot tickled my brain. I enjoyed flipping back to earlier in the book to make connections between what I was looking at now and what I had seen before; sometimes what I had seen before took place 100 years after what I was seeing now. I even enjoyed watching the nonlinear change in wallpaper and furniture throughout the decades.

But what got me, what touched on my existential angst, started with the pictures of the same five kids being taken in the same room, from when they were kids in the 50s through young adults in the 70s. We all have those pictures to remind us of those times, but those times are gone, just like those prehistoric creatures that once stood where our living rooms are. But it was those pages that showed different families occupying the same space, but not the same time, unaware of each other other’s existence, that made a little pit in my stomach. As real and as precious as our lives are to us, as those precious moments with our kids and family are to us now, in 100 years they will be gone, as will their memory, as will their significance to those who come after us, just like those people who were here living full meaningful amazing special lives where we are now, are gone and aren’t given a second thought by us, except to notice the funny clothes or wallpaper or furniture. It reminded me that the lives we have now, so full of meaning and feeling, are just a page or a panel on a page in the whole scheme of things.

It’s what a person does with that realization, I guess, that’s the thing. For me the first response is dread or maybe desperation. But I don’t want to live in dread and desperation. And I think there’s a peace in there somewhere as well. There’s certainly an encouragement to savor and linger on and enjoy not just the big moments, but every moment, the naps on the rug, the scraping off old wall paper, the walks in the woods.

ViceVersa

viceversa

The other unexpected and happily received Christmas gift I got this year was the 2014 ep by my favorite L.A. based band ViseVersa. I should say that one of the reasons that I love this band is that I had the drummer in class for several years. Hers was the class that had to put up with me for at least four years as I followed them from junior high to high school. She was also one of my yearbook babies.  So I like her a lot. Oh, and she tutored my boy In drums for a short time, and now she’s a rock star, so, you know, no big deal.

Anyway, this album. Four tracks. Four great funky rock songs. I’m hearing straight ahead driving rock like the Hives and such, but it’s also funky. Zeke’s dirty guitar reminds me of Hendrix or Lenny Kravits.  I’m not educated enough to analyze all the influences.  “Great funky rock songs” aught to be enough.

Three of the four songs are about what three-fourths of all rock songs are about, trying to get some loving. The third is a stick-it-to-the-man political number where the drummer delivers some sweet speed rap.  All four songs rock hard while providing an opportunity for the musicians to noodle a bit as well. I like that. A great example of this is the last song on the ep, Next One.  That’s also their first video.

You can hear all four songs here or right here.

As far as I can tell, the band stays busy in the Los Angeles area, so if you’re out there and you want to see them, it shouldn’t be to difficult.  I’m looking forward to catching them in K.C. sometime.

ViseVersa’s official website

You Two Should Go Out

The memories of my mom’s 70th birthday continues.  This one from another friend of my brother.

Mike,

Frightening, our mothers turning 70, isn’t it?  And they have no more sense than they did back in college. 🙂

Of course, my funny stories regarding your mom were her endless attempts to set you and I up.  I’m not sure who was more embarrassed, you or me, but I remember several awkward moments where the three of us would be having a nice, normal small talk chat, in a fairly public place, say, the middle school gym after a game, and she would all of a sudden say, “Hey, why don’t you two go out on a date?”  At which point you and I would promptly turn a horrible blotchy red, shift from one foot to the other staring either into space or intently at the carpet on the floor, and start muttering things like, “Mom, don’t do this!” or “Oh, Mrs. Sears, Mike is just a really good friend!”  Goodness knows she was never embarrassed!

But what I remember even more, Mike, was how caring your mom was, and still is.  She always wanted to know how I was doing, really doing, not just a superficial question.  And I always knew if I needed her, she would be there.  I know a lot of people feel like that about her.  She is just truly good about reaching out to people and letting them know she cares.

Chunky

chunky

This seemed like a fun idea for a candy bar. . . at first. I remember the Chunky t.v. and comic book ads. I thought it was a new thing in the 70s, but guess it’s been around since the 50s. If you ever bought one and tried to eat it, and I only tried a couple times, you found that it was almost too big for a kid’s mouth, and that it was really just a hard block of chocolate that was really more trouble to eat than it was worth. And they put things like nuts and raisins in them, making them even more difficult to eat, and less desirable. Are these still around?

 

Bahp Boop Beep

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This is by the same artist who did the portrait of me when things get awkward. I mentioned that post that this girl would knock these drawings out in class and then just leave them behind.  Then I, and at least one other student I know of, would quietly pick them up and keep them.  The other student that did that, by the way, is the creator of Toast Mobile from last week.  Last I heard this artist was living downtown, enjoying that whole vibe, and trying to figure out how to be an artist of one kind or another.  I look for her to amazing things.  You’ll see more of her stuff on The Real Matt Show in the weeks to come.  Boop.