Archive for September, 2012

September 25, 2012

The Absentee Ballad

Here lies before you the greatly anticipated attempt at a ballad, which includes, for those who do keep up on the modern times, four verses in each stanza, and two or more rhyming verses in each. Beware; it is literally the worst ballad likely ye have ever beheld.

Come all ye, comrades

Harken forth and listen to me

as I tell the tale of the absentee

and her long lost ballot.


Tis a tale between two men who fight

for the right to partaaay

and for vote of the military

who they be quick to use, slow to pay

Hear thee, hear thee: fight to the death!

Hear thee, hear thee: fight to the death!

Here we begin with a poor butterbars

Who must vote for the next White House guest

in order to be ignored justĀ  like all the rest

First on this journey she must find the papers to sign


The office of the registration holds grumpy ladies

of whom a smile has not blessed the face

for years and years of many a election race

They confuse and they point and they furrow their hairy brows


But oh, friends, at last! At last!

The heroine has the right of the 19th Amendment,

slipped under the door for a say in the government,

it shines as the beacon of freedom and change.


But alas! A battle ravages the heart of the heroine,

once so pleased to be a successful absentee

Who to choose whilst she is overseas?

Who will fight for her when she fights for them?


The sad ballad of the absentee cannot end in peace.

The truth is that elephants are red, donkeys are blue,

and both smell of complete doo-doo.

Thus, she knows not which one to choose.


And now, ladies and gentlemen, for the best part of this ballad: the END.


September 13, 2012

Crazy World, Don’t You Know That I Love You

Protests at the US Embassy in Egypt escalate due to a video disgracing the Prophet Muhammed.

There’s a lot going on this week in the world. Media outlets are buzzing, cameras rolling, tweets twittering.

Violent protests at the US Embassies in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, and Libya that started on September 11th. Buzz Aldrin and Eugene Cernan speaking at Neil Armstrong’s memorial service. South African clamping down on miner’s strike. Nude photos of dear Kate Middleton published in a French magazine. A new species of monkey found in the Congo. Chicago Teacher Union protesting instead of teaching. What’s a girl to do?

And more specifically, how do we make a difference when it feels like the world is falling apart over our heads?

Should we focus on the US presence in the Middle East, and the rising concern of dangerous radicalism? Or perhaps the dismantling of NASA or the issue of funding in the American scientific community? Or should we concentrate on protecting our environmental assets in the biodiverse areas like the Congo? Or, in a subject closer to home, education’s place in breaking of the cycle-of-poverty?

I turn to WB Yeats in times like these. Poor Yeats was certain that the world could not get worse.

Let’s take a peek:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

[For the rest of the poem, you can find it here]

Sounds like something that Glenn Beck would say. To Yeats, it seemed that between the imperialism and advancing technology of weaponry in the 1920’s spelled disaster for the world. And in some ways, he was right. You know, that whole WWII bit did a number for all of us.

But the Second Coming didn’t come. Or maybe it’s just running a little behind on schedule. But this reminds me what a good friend said recently, “There have always been tragedies in this world, and there always will be.”

So what do we do? Sounds trite, but really, it comes down to how you treat the person next to you. Whether it’s the grumpy, pregnant cashier with bad hair, the homeless guy who is always begging for that bus ticket outta here, or the snobby stay-at-home mom who looks better than anyone who has three kids should: it’s the connections we make at home, one by one, that we can control. We can’t fix the Middle East (not that we haven’t tried…Thanks, Winston), we can’t save the national deficit, and no, we can’t build a home on Mars. Yet.
But we can love others around us, pick up that piece of litter on the ground, vote, create discussion rather than spout argument, fight for better education of our children, and then BAM. Your life has purpose, and suddenly you are changing things. Little things, but hey. It’s the little things that add up. It’s the tidbits that make life better, and it’s what you can control, right now and right here.

This new species of monkey was officially discovered in the Congo by visiting environmentalists. It is most often found in the villager’s cooking pots.

Of course, I could say that we should all fly over to Egypt and educate the protestors on free speech and the follies of radicalism, but that doesn’t seem feasible. But taking out the trash before your wife asks you to? Buying the lunch for the Vietnam veteran sitting alone in the corner? That’s what you can do. Some of us have higher callings (i.e., the President of the United States), but for the rest of us plebs?

Makes me feel a bit better knowing that maybe I can fix this falling roof, one crack at a time. And if we all put plaster in the cracks? Then, hey, maybe massive global change is possible. But for now, let’s channel our inner Oprah and Dr. Phil the heck out of our community.