Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Several years ago, Howard and I picked a burger chain in Lexington to hang out. We went on a Tuesday evening, not knowing that a magician had been invited to perform.

There were several problems that evening.

1) The magician went from table to table asking people if he could perform, much like a mariachi band asks for permission before a performance. There was not a stage or open area where kids could go see him if they wanted.
2) The magician wore black mascara, black clothes and a black cape.
3) The magician, not being deterred by two twenty-something men sitting eating cheeseburgers, decided to still ask if we would like to see a magic trick.

"Would you gentlemen like to see a magic trick?" We look around hoping there are some kids he can bother. Uncomfortable Delay. "Uh....Sure."

Some magic trick was performed that needed our participation. Then another delay. I'm thinking 'does he want a tip? here's a tip, don't corner two grown men and ask them if they want to see a magic trick' I give him a tip. He asks, "Would you like me to perform another magic trick for you?" "No, that's okay."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

National Pot Pie Day

A few years ago, Con Agra the food conglomerate wanted to publicize "National Pot Pie Day" by giving away free pot pies to a local, young-adult center that works with kids after school.

They had a couple conditions. 1) they wanted to film the kids enjoying the pot pies and 2) demonstrate on the news how valuable of a corporate philanthropist Con Agra was to its local community.

There were several problems: 1) A far more honorable gift would have been just donating the food and not wanting good publicity in return. 2) The pot pies had passed their expiration and could not be sold anyway. 3) The modern frozen pot pie is the bastard step-cousin of the normal t.v. dinner and such schlock maybe shouldn't be even fit for human consumption.

I had some friends who knew about it and were incensed. The whole corporate, 'i'm so good' p.r. campaign that they could see right through.

I asked them, as the film crew was supposed to arrive, to intentionally mispronounce "National Pot Pie Day" as "National Pol Pot Day" on camera....after the brutal dictator Pol Pot of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Just to ruin the filming...

It didn't happen. And I know two wrongs don't make a right.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Things Not To Say In a Poor Commercial Environment

As I was taking Liz to get some new eyeglasses, the store served Liz in the following manner:

1) Store: "Are your glasses too loose? Put your head down and shake your head." Liz responded by losing her glasses so she asked them to tighten the glasses a bit. To which the store responded: "well, really, how often are you going put your head down and shake your head."

2) Liz: "I don't think the prescription is right; I still can't see through one of these lenses...it is still blurry." Store: "Maybe the doctor wants you to have blurry glasses in order to strengthen your eyes".

3) Store: "Your glasses have come in today, but we haven't processed them yet. I know we called you to let you know they were in, but we haven't put them in inventory yet. Come back tomorrow."

Friday, January 16, 2009


Our dog Dirkson was mentioned briefly in another post.

One half Irish Setter & half Lab, Dirkson was more like Clifford than either of those breeds.

He was huge! Granted, I was still growing in high school, but Dirkson's front legs could fit comfortably on my shoulders.

He ran away a lot. He ate everything. He destroyed the lawn. He was rambunctious.
He dragged me through ditches so I had to take a shower with my clothes on. He ate the siding off the house and ate through the television antenna wire. He knocked over, dug under, and jumped over fences we created for him.

He had 1/4 acre to run and jump around but this wasn't enough for him. He needed to be free. So the last time he ran away, we just looked for him a little less hard.

There was a long hiatus after Dirkson, not so much to mourn his loss as to get counseling and store up energy for the next dog. Luckily for the Andersons, the next dog, Shadrach ...a beagle...was the exact opposite. Shadrach's mortal sin was sloth. We were lucky to get him to eat and go outside to use the bathroom. He slept 23 hours a day by the hot-air vent, didn't bark, didn't run, didn't jump up, didn't lick, and didn't do tricks. The only thing separating him from a stuffed animal was the dog food bill.

Inappropriate Public Confessions and Other Things

Part of my particular Christian tradition was attending an interdenominational Protestant college that had strong Methodist roots.

During Revivals, it was really great to see the Holy Spirit move in people's lives, to convict, and energize. It also stirred up naive kids to confess in public when confessing before a pastor, priest, or accountability partner would have been more appropriate. So to help a whole new generation of kids, please do NOT do the following:

1) Talk to a teacher about how you've hated him/her and how you've spread bad stories about that teacher all around school....and confess this in person.
2) Take a girl out and confess that you have been masturbating to her picture, talk about wet dreams you've had about her, or any other fantasies.
3) Talk about masturbating in general.
4) Talk about trolling for gay prostitutes late at night in a town nearby.
5) Talk about how God wants you to give up thinking about the opposite sex for the rest of the year and concentrate on God (this might not be bad, but in 100% of the cases I know about, the person broke this vow).

There are probably much worse things to confess, but the above are a good start to avoid.

In other news and embarrassing stories:

I had to Febreeze myself (spray all my clothes as I was wearing them) before church on Sunday morning because of the raucous poker night that went into the early morning.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Re-enactment

On Tuesdays, I usually drive for the WMF carpool. Amanda, and sometimes Daphne, rides with me to the office.

This Tuesday, I received a text from Amanda that she didn't need a ride; Daphne texted that she did. When I pulled in front of Daphne's house, she couldn't see through the icy car windows (from our brutal cold weather). She instinctively got in the back seat behind me, assuming Amanda was in the front... When she realized that Amanda wasn't in the car, she kindly asked if I would like if she moved to the front seat....(to avoid the appearance of being chauffeured).

I told her that it didn't matter to me. I heard the door close and I pulled away. I drove to the light asking Daphne questions....questions typical of a car ride to work: "How was your night last night?" "Are you staying warm?" I was getting a little annoyed when she wasn't answering and assumed I couldn't see her in the rearview mirror because my own head was blocking my view. As I was looking for her through the rearview mirror, all of a sudden I saw her wildly flailing arms...outside her apartment. She had gotten out of the car to get in the front seat. I had left her.

I quickly put the car in reverse and drove the block backwards to pick her up. What you are seeing is a re-enactment of that fateful day. Daphne was kind enough to pose in front of her apartment later. In the first picture, you can faintly see Daphne through the rear view mirror. The second picture shows the view through the back car window, almost as if the rear view mirror view was enlarged.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Jeff Johnson spoke last night at Beggars Society

Jeff Johnson spoke last night at Beggars Society. He connected hip-hop, racism in America, the role of institutions in creating divisions and the ability of new institutions to break down these divisions, and generational strife. The talk was part history, part challenge, part grass-roots advocacy, part strategy.

One of the most interesting aspects was him tracing the history of hip-hop and how it was conceived as an alternative to violence plaguing the gangs of New York City in the 1970's. Instead of battling with knives, chains, and bottles, the gangs started battling each other with words as an outlet for their frustration, desperation, and isolation. Hip-hop, he said, was started as an urban, honest expression that was corrupted when an industry developed and could be sold as a product. The message changed.

I was challenged and moved by his talk and the question and answer period. Hopefully, video will emerge online from the evening.

Jeff's abbreviated bio from Wikipedia: Upon graduation from the University of Toledo, Johnson headed off to Washington, D.C. to become National Director for the NAACP's Youth and College Division, and later, Vice President for the Hip hop Summit Action Network.

His involvement in these national organizations piqued interest with BET, who thought that he could use his knowledge with cultural and political affairs on the show Rap City.

Johnson now tours the country, spreading his leadership advice and passion for activism by speaking at churches, universities and local communities.

From his celebrated conversations with world figures to his grass-roots trench work to inspire the next generation of leaders, investigative journalist, political correspondent, and activist Jeff Johnson continues to be a trailblazer and authentic voice for change.

Johnson has spent the last decade merging the worlds of politics and popular culture. His roles as a political activist have included work as Senior Advisor for Media and Youth Outreach for People for the American Way, National Director of the Youth & College division of the NAACP, and an appointment by Russell Simmons as the Vice President of the Hip Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN).

Johnson is the only American reporter to receive an exclusive interview with Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female head of state and Liberia’s first elected female president. Johnson is also one of only two news correspondents to receive an exclusive interview with Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir, who has not granted interviews with American media outlets for thirteen years.

Johnson has interviewed such marquee figures as Presumptive Democratic Nominee, Barack Obama, Senator Hillary Clinton, and The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and in 2007, he testified before the Committee on Homeland Security regarding recovery efforts in wake of the devastation caused to the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina.

Johnson has published numerous social and political commentaries for CNN.com, The Root.com and Black Politics on the Web.com and is a source of information quoted in Newsweek and Boston Globe. Johnson currently contributes commentary and analysis about issues related to race, politics, popular culture and socio-economics for news broadcasts such as MSNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, XM radio, Sirius Satellite Radio, BET News and The Dr. Phil Show.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Hard to Grow Old

I always used to think it was funny when people used the phrase:

"When I was a kid, ....."

But I can say that now...for lots of things.
I'm old.

1) When I was a kid, all this land was a corn field!
2) When I was a kid, they were playing 8-track tapes.
3) When I was a kid, they stuck thermometers up your rear to see if you had a fever.
4) When I was a kid, they didn't have Internet, CDs, or Videos
5) When I was a kid, they didn't have cell phones.
6) When I was a kid, tuna casserole was one of the most popular dishes in the States.
7) When I was a kid, they gave awards in elementary school for good penmanship.
8) When I was a kid, I walked a mile to junior high school. (and a mile back).
9) When I was a kid, Bozo the Clown was on television.
10) When I was a kid, Mom and Dad still had a B&W t.v.. I used to lie on the bed with Dad and watch the Cubs highlights on the news followed by the Johnny Carson monologue and then go to bed.
11) When I was a kid, the Soviet Union and Iron Curtain were considered the primary threats to the US.
12) When I was a kid, there were no personal calculators. An elementary school teacher showed off an early and expensive one.
13) When I was a kid, history was still a valuable subject in school, but has been replaced in some school curriculum, by courses in technology & business.
14) When I was a kid, dad had chains in the garage to put on his tires and also switched to winter tires for the snow.
15) When I was a kid, Tang was popular.
16) When I was a kid, pop rocks and pet rocks were popular.
17) When I was a kid, Michael Jackson was still 'normal'
18) When I was a (young) kid, sedans sold in the US were the sizes of small boats.
19) When I was a kid, we sat down to eat as a family every night. In the beginning, at a particular time. Over time, it became more flexible.
20) When I was a kid, our family purchased meat once a month which came on a delivery truck. We packed that meat in a deep freezer.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Can Someone Sleep-Pee?

A few years ago, I was attending the wedding of some close friends in Kentucky and they had lots of out-of-town guests. I was one of the locals and had extra room to house people if they needed. So I allowed some fellas to sleep at my apartment.

The wedding and reception were great. There was no alcohol that was served (might be important later in the story).

It was dark when I woke up the next day; I went downstairs to use the restroom and while in bare feet, I stepped onto a bathroom floor that was one big puddle of urine. ...almost as if whoever was going to the bathroom COMPLETELY missed the toilet. It felt like there was urine up to my ankles.

I believed these guys were good-hearted and wouldn't do this on purpose. But what could explain a toilet (that had never given me problems) surrounded by a lake of pee? Only sleep-peeing seemed a logical explanation.