I was born and raised Roman Catholic, attended catechism classes and a catholic high school. My children currently attend a Catholic elementary school and we all attend Sunday mass on a more or less regular basis. So you could say that in some way, religion has always been a part of my life, and I think I’m better because of it.
That being said, I don’t consider myself an overly religious person. I’m not a Bible thumper by any means and, in fact, get very annoyed and uncomfortable around anyone who is openly or overly religious. I’m very much a hypocrite when it comes to all of that “do unto others” stuff because I’m not always a nice guy. I don’t approach each situation in my life thinking “What would Jesus do?” I’ve done more than my share of sinning and have broken a good ¾ of the Commandments. I have found many “church going” people to be very hypocritical, holier than thou or basically full of shit.
But I find it discouraging and more than a bit worrisome that the whole concept of God is becoming very passé in today’s society. Many young people seem antagonistic toward religion and openly agnostic in their opinions about the existence of God. I hear radio personalities constantly belittling those who believe in the existence of a higher power as weak, delusional or just plain stupid.
I’ve had my share of doubts in my lifetime, especially given the numbers who have died in the name of God. The concepts don’t always make sense and certainly much of the Bible is questionable at best. Adam and Eve? – don’t buy it. I believe in evolution and yet I also believe that this thing we call life is much more than a random series of occurrences. How does one balance the two?
Consider LIFE, essentially the greatest wonder of the universe next to Salma Hayak. Exactly what is it that constitutes “life”, and I’m not talking about some anti-abortion rant about when life begins, but rather what IS life – that essence, that “soul” inside all of us that makes us who we are and everything that surrounds it? Why we are born to the people that will be our parents, at that exact moment in history? Even the most hard-core atheist has to confess that we are more than just flesh, blood and bone. There’s something about us that makes us who we are. So what is that “something” and why was it “born” in 1931 or 1965 or 1972 or 2005? Why am I me and not you?
I don’t mean for this to become some rambling, existential post, I’m simply trying to make a point that the world seems bent on killing the belief in anything that can’t be proven in a lab. That faith has become a sign of weakness, of being unable to deal with reality. But the death of faith means the death hope. And a world without hope is a world that cannot survive. And the correlation between hope and survival has been proven.
If you boil most religions down to their essence, it is this: be a good person and be good to others. Regardless of the real truth, is that really such a bad way to live?
And I don't know about you, but in the end, I'll choose hope.
Proof positive that anyone can receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Erik Estrada took time off from pimping for National Recreational Properties to flash his signature white teeth and give his signature thumbs up sign at the Walk of Fame ceremony.
Best known for pimping recreational properties, Estrada is also known for his sexy smile, feather blown hair, tight shirts and for having played hunky CHP officer, Frank "Ponch" Poncherello on the 1980's TV show, CHiP's.
I will soon be receiving my own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for reporting on inconsequential matters such as has-been celebrities, celebrity deaths and the Life of Joe.
Brian and I grew up next door to each other but it’s been almost 30 years since I’ve spent any real time with him, so it was very surreal to find myself sitting across from him at a Chili’s in downtown Concord. Brian’s older brother, Bruce passed away recently and at the service I met the 42 year old version of the kid I had grown up with, in addition to his 18 and 11 yr old sons and his 15 yr old daughter. Aside from having filled out a little, as we all have, he was the same kid, right down to the voice and facial expressions. It was a shitty excuse for a reunion though and before I left I got his e-mail address and we arranged to meet for lunch
As I said, Brian and I grew up next door to each other, Brian’s family on my left and Derik’s on my right. It was 1969 when all of our families moved to Concord. Dana Farms was still under construction and everyone was new to the neighborhood. We spent the 1970’s Derik, Brian and I, wrestling with the perils of childhood, with growing up and often with each other.
Three is a difficult number for kids and we were no exception. It seems that whenever Brian and I were on good terms, Derik was on the outs. When Brian and Derik found themselves palling around together, I sat alone on my front steps watching the two of them holding their breath as they ran past on their way from Derik’s house to Brian’s.
Most of the time everyone was on good terms and it was during these times that we were joined by our collective siblings to take part in games of 500, Three-Fly’s Up or street football, using “The Green Thing” and the street light as our end zones. Darting amongst the shadows, we played nighttime games of hide n’ seek and kick the can, even partaking in the occasional round of ding-dong-ditch. That is until Brian and my kid sister were caught by a grumpy couple that opted to chase them down rather than just curse and close the door. For years we schemed to get back at them and were disappointed that when we finally had the nerve to ding them again that they failed to give chase.
We would trick or treat together, back in the days when the neighborhood was young and the streets were literally swarming with kids, Brian and I struggling to keep up in our Siamese Skeleton costume. It’s amazing the memories that come back when you let them... sleep-over's watching Night of the Living Dead and Saturday morning cartoons. To this day I can’t watch Scooby-Doo without feeling like it’s a Saturday morning at Brian’s house. Sleepovers were also a time to discuss the “woman with 100 boobs”. Hey, we were eight- we figured the more the better.
There was my birthday spent eating hot dogs and peanuts at an Oakland A’s game; Derik’s dad taking us to a magic supply store and thumbing through his stacks of magic catalogs for cool stuff we'd never buy; Brian’s and my obsession with Happy Days and Fonzie in particular, which led to my infamous wipe out while trying to emulate the Fonz by jumping my bike over some garbage cans. I got a concussion from that one.
When we reached high-school, Derik and I attended De La Salle while Brian went to Clayton Valley. As Brian became more involved with the Mormon church we stopped seeing as much of him around the neighborhood. We all became busy with other friends and after school jobs and before we knew it we were graduating high school and Brian left for BYU, never to return to the neighborhood.
I have kept in touch with Derik and our parents still live next door to each other. We’ve seen each other through marriage and currently fatherhood, with all the accompanying ups and downs that both have to offer. But Bruce’s death and funeral once again forced me think about just how fast time goes by, and how it really wasn’t that long ago that the two men reminiscing over burgers and ice tea were riding their bikes and thinking about nothing more than a woman with 100 boobs.
So I’m driving the kids to school this morning and the following conversation ensues from the back seat.
Boy: Have you ever held you tongue and said “I live on a pirate ship.”?
Boy proceeds to demonstrate, the resulting sentence sounding vaguely like “I live on a pile of shit.”
Girl: Have you ever held your tongue and said “apple”?
Boy: I don’t get it.
Boy proceeds to try it for himself. Asshole, asshole, asshole, asshole, asshole, asshole. He gets it. Boy begins laughing hysterically. Girl also begins laughing. Of course I’m laughing. Boy can’t get enough of it.
Me: OK, that’s enough.
Girl to boy: You’d better not show that to anyone at school or you’ll get in trouble.
Me: Did you hear that? Don’t share that with anyone.
Hawaiian crooner, Don (Tai Loy) Ho, died of heart failure on Saturday at the age of 76.
Ho was best known for his signature song, Tiny Bubbles, released in 1966. Its popularity saw him appearing at such venues as the Cocoanut Grove in Hollywood and Las Vegas’ Flamingo Hotel.
In addition to several appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Ho also appeared as himself on numerous television shows during the 60’s and 70’s, including Batman, I Dream of Jeannie, Laugh-In and my personal favorite, The Brady Bunch. Don even had his own short-lived variety show, appropriately named The Don Ho Show, which aired from October 1976 to March 1977.
OK, so on The Brady Bunch, Bobby and Cindy are fiddling around trying to play a ukulele when who should walk past but Don Ho and his buddy, Sam Kapu Jr. Hospitable islanders that they are, Don and Sam serenade the young Brady’s while Don plucks a tune on the uke but damned if I can remember what song they performed. Afterward, thanks to the bad luck tiki idol hanging around his neck, Bobby accidentally sits on his ukulele, crushing it all to hell. Bummer Bob.
God speed Don. May you float to heaven on those Tiny Bubbles.
It's official. With the filing of the official documents in Superior Court this past Wednesday, Heather Locklear and Richie Sambora are now officially divorced. (Heather, call me)
After 11 years of marriage, those darned irreconcilable differences reared their ugly head and cast asunder the hot monkey love shared by Bon Jovi’s guitarist and the former TJ Hooker, Melrose Place, Spin City star.
Pamela Anderson is reportedly waiting in the wings to once again swoop in and snatch up Locklear’s leftovers. Locklear was previously married to Motley Crue drummer, Tommy Lee who, upon splitting with Locklear, hooked up with Anderson.
Given Locklear’s proclivity for long-haired, 80’s rockers, I might suggest that Bret Michaels and Stephen Pearcy preen their plumage and brush up on their strutting techniques. Look alive boys, there’s a blond, blue-eyed peahen loose in the barnyard.
When did the right to Freedom of Speech get revoked? Did I miss some big news item, the passing of some legislation, the conception of which surely would have been preceded by outrage and protest?
News reports are coming in that CBC has officially fired Don Imus for his “nappy headed ho” comments last week when referring to the Rutgers women’s basketball team. And I’m sure there are millions that are rallying around that decision, but I see it as just another nail in the coffin of freedom.
I don’t care how you feel about Don Imus or his comments; funny or not, appropriate or not, so long as the FCC doesn’t have a problem, he should pretty much be allowed to say whatever he wants. America, remember? You don’t like it, turn the dial. The same goes for anyone, be it Howard Stern, Jerry Springer, Tom Leykis, Dave Chappelle, or pretty much any hard-core rap act out there. They all say and promote things that many would deem inappropriate, so why is Imus becoming the sacrificial lamb?
I’ve never listened to his show so I’m not commenting as an Imus fan, I’m commenting as a Free Speech fan. The risk of being offended is the price we pay for that freedom. Am I to believe that there are no black radio hosts making derogatory comments disguised as jokes at “whitey’s” expense? I don’t buy it.
So what’s next? Will I soon be contacted by some Internet Watchdog group telling me that my blog has offended someone and that I need to cease and desist? Where do we draw the line? We’ve all heard the one about not being allowed to yell fire in a crowded theater (unless of course there really is a fire) because of the potential for injury. Are we now saying because ignorance can cause injury of another kind that we’re going to regulate speech? Because someone’s feelings might get hurt we’re going to impose bans on certain words and topics? We’re entering the mine field folks.
As I heard on the radio this morning, the real victims in this whole mess are the Lady Vols of Tennessee who beat Rutgers to win the NCAA Championship. Their victory has received little to no press thanks to the Imus story.
I allow free speech on my blog, so feel free to sound off. Unless of course you disagree with me, in which case I’ll be forced to edit or delete you.