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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Trips To Europe. That's What the Kids Want.

It's no secret that wedding planning is is a monumental event in itself. As if the day itself isn't daunting enough, now I have to figure out what we are going to do the seven to ten days afterwards.

If you haven't figured it out already, I'm talking about where to go on our honeymoon.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining about having to choose someplace to go to relax, especially when I'm not even footing the bill. I mean really, how could I? But it's just like when they say, "What do you get the girl who has everything?" Only instead, substitute the girl who has everything, for the girl who goes nowhere, and you have me.

I always thought that it would be cool to go abroad on a honeymoon, but that's a vacation by another name, for another time. For one thing, it's rather costly. For another, I'm not sure how romantic it is and everyone knows, you are supposed to showcase romance on a honeymoon, right? At least that's what four out of five brides on the board once said.

In an nutshell, here's what we have so far:

1. We want to take a cruise. Preferably to somewhere tropical.
2. We are leaning towards taking a cruise that leaves out of NJ or NY as to alleviate the additional cost of airfare.
3. We want to go on a reputable cruise line that has a good mix of passengers. (Hint: We don't want a senior cruise or one with too many kiddies).
4. Since we are getting married in August, we want to try and avoid the hurricane season, if at all possible.

This is what we know.

Now for what we don't know.

Pretty much...everything else.

I have done some shopping around online, but the fact of the matter is, I have no idea what a good deal is. I also don't know when the best time to book is. A good friend of mine, one who takes many cruises, tells me that now is as good a time as any. But we have to know what we are booking and who we are booking with before we can do that. See how it can become a a vicious, vicious cycle?

I don't know if there is such a thing as waiting "too long" to book your honeymoon, but considering I've never been married before (and don't plan on marrying again) I do want to do it right. Sure, I'll (hopefully) travel again in my lifetime, but since we've never gone on a cruise before and we don't like either extreme (of being idle or overstimulated) a cruise seemed like the best option, giving us a good mix of sand, surf and Captain Stubing, not necessarily in that order.

So if you have any top notch vacation destinations or advice, feel free to send it my way. Come aboard, I'm expecting you.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Anything But Ordinary"

First off, no I didn't forget to post today's TITMT question. The problem is that I went to do it this morning and since my power went out in the middle of the night, I had to fidget around to get the internet back. Once I did, I didn't have extra time to post otherwise I would have been late for work. You know, the pesky little thing that pays the bills, unlike this blog.

Today, in honor of last night's Heroes premiere (don't say anything I didn't watch it yet!) I came up with the following question...

If you could have any super power, what would it be and why?

Feel free to get creative here. No there aren't any extra credit points involved, but a little ingenuity never hurt anyone, right?

If you are participating on your blog, the rules are simple:

1. Answer this question ON YOUR BLOG and THEN link back to it via the box below.
2. Leave a comment letting me know you played along.
3. If you are interested in adding the box to your site, please visit Mister Linky.
4. If you have any questions or you're confused just ASK!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Write Back Weekend "SIgn Your Name Across My Heart"

Growing up, I had a bit of a fetish for songs with names in them. I actually used to clip together the chorus of songs, one after another that had a name in the title. I even went as far as to use this as part of an English project for school so I guess my efforts weren't completely in vain. I suppose if you dig deep enough, you could blame it all on the children's television show, The Magic Garden.

As a child, I'd watch the show religiously, especially observant at the part where they'd "look out" into the audience and announce all the children they could "see". Episode after episode, I'd patiently wait for them to see me, but they never did. At the time I didn't know this was not because I was invisible or that the nice ladies were simply ignoring me, I just didn't have common enough of a name to come up in conversation, or in a pond's reflection for that matter.

Although I've gotten over it now, I always thought it would be pretty monumental to have a song written about you. Technically, I have at least two semi, well known songs written about me so I guess my name transcended obscurity after all. The first one is Interplanet Janet from Schoolhouse Rocks and Damnit Janet from Rocky Horror Picture Show.

But as I soon grew to find out, you really should be careful what you wish for, at least in my case considering both songs are more novelty one hit wonders than torch song manifestos. I suppose the distinction is important to note as I quickly grew tired of hearing "Damnit Janet, I love you!" or "Interplanet Janet she's our galaxy girl!" or even "No my first name ain't baby, it's Janet, Miss Jackson if you're nasty!"

So when I sat down to write my favorite list of songs with names in them I thought about the ones that had more meat to them. They aren't all necessarily complimentary, but they aren't rudimentary either. I decided to only talk about a top ten although as you will see from my honorable mention list, I could go on for much longer. I also linked to footage of the songs in case you don't know any of the tunes I'm mentioning. You're welcome.

1. Jessie's Girl- Rick Springfield As anyone who has read this blog knows, I love all things Rick Springfield. Not only is this my favorite song with a name in it, it's also one of my favorite songs of all time, period. See Jessie is a friend of Rick's. A good friend. But lately, something's changed and it's hard to define. Jessie's got himself a girl and Rick wants to make her...his. It's a simple as that really.

2. Mandy- Barry Manilow I had a friend for a brief time in college whose name was Amanda but really she preferred to be called Mandy. She said that Barry Manilow song inspired her parents to name her Amanda. I thought that was pretty cool. She's lucky because she has not one, but two great songs written about her (see below). Barry Manilow's song however is one of those slow building, tear your heart out kinda dedications. Nice.

3. Carrie- Europe Say what you want about the hair bands of the eighties, some of them sure knew how to write a kickass power ballad or two. Europe's Carrie is a perfect example of this. It's a sad song about breaking up and moving on but there's the silver lining that maybe, one day, they'll meet again.

4. Veronica- Elvis Costello The first time I heard Elvis Costello's Veronica I was twelve years old. Instantly I was taken in by the melodic nature and sure pop bliss of the song. But then I saw the video and listened to the lyrics more carefully (a practice that takes much skill with Elvis Costello songs). If you have ever done this with Costello's work you'd know that on the outside things seem like rainbows and puppies, but on the inside, there's a whole lot more going on. Veronica is no exception. It's a song about a woman named Veronica who lived a rich life, but now she's aging and slowly beginning to lose her memory. Sad but brilliant alll at the same time.

5. Jenny (867-5309) - Tommy Tutone Ahh, the innocence of this song. These were the days before the 555 exchanges and your mind was free to roam, but not your cell phone. There are stories of this number being dialed in all different area codes, in search for the elusive Jenny. Back then it was all about engraving numbers on bathroom stalls. For a good time, for a good time call...

6. Laura- Billy Joel In my opinion, Billy Joel is one of the best lyricist/performers we have had in popular music to this day. Laura is for some reason one of his lesser known tracks (thus the live footage clip with crappy audio), but I love the way this song builds. Laura is obviously a very needy woman who manages to push and pull with the emotions of the people in her life. If you've been around long enough, I think most of us will know a "Laura" at some time or another. Joel finally loses it about 3/4's of the way through the song and it's in a word, fantastic.

7. Sarah- Starship Not only is this one of my favorite songs with a name in it, it's also one of my favorite videos. I distinctly remember the time period this song was out and to this day, I still associate Garbage Pail Kids with this song, but that's not important now. No matter what name they perform under, Starship definitely got it right with their classic, Sarah, so much so that I think that it eclipsed the debacle of We Built This City.

8. Come On Eileen- Dexy's Midnight Runners Every once and awhile a song comes along that is just super fun to sing. Come On Eileen is defintely one of those tunes, although I think it's really about a guy trying to convince his girl to go all the way with him. Maybe I'm wrong. Either way, I still find the begging throughout the song (and the overall clad video) to be rather endearing.

9. Billie Jean- Michael Jackson Once upon a time Michael Jackson was known for making magic. Billie Jean is just one example of the magic. Billie Jean is yet another track that took on new meaning once I really knew what they meant when he was saying "Billie Jean is not my lover, She's just a girl who claims that I am the one. But the kid is not my son." This is another song that holds a special place in my heart because of the time period in which it was released. I was in first grade and I won a dance contest beating kindergarten through fifth graders. This was the song I danced to. Don't ask me what I did or why I did it. I was never that bold or brazen again.

10. Why Georgia- John Mayer Before John Mayer got involved in the showbiz glamour of the likes of Jessica Simpson, I really appreciated him as both an artist and a person. I still do, but he seemed more cerebral than all of that, sorta like his generation's answer to James Taylor. At any rate, Why Georgia is simply a very fun song to sing along with. It could have been sung about anybody, but it's the way it's delivered that makes all the difference. Why was it Georgia? We may never know.

Honorable Mentions

Amanda- Boston
Sweet Caroline- Neil Diamond
Hey Mickey- Toni Basi
Buddy Holly- Weezer
Joanna- Kool and the Gang
Rosanna- Toto
Luka- Suzanne Vega
Oh Sherrie- Steve Perry
Cecilia- Simon and Garfunkel
Johnny Have You Seen Her?- The Rembrandts
Hey Jude- Paul McCartney
Mary Provost- Nick Lowe
27 Jennifers- Mike Doughty
Danny's Song- Kenny Loggins
Stagger Lee- Lloyd Price
Gloria- Laura Branigan
Rick James- Jude
Sheila Don't Remember- Jude Cole
Denise- Fountains of Wayne
Who's Johnny?- Debarge
Sweet Jane- Cowboy Junkies
Joey- Concrete Blonde
Arthur's Theme- Christopher Cross
Just Like Jesse James- Cher
Frank Sinatra- Cake
Thursday, September 20, 2007

Guest Post "Passions and Paychecks"

Today's guest post comes to us courtesy of Scott over at the intriguingly titled, Spiritual Tramp. Scott is a relative newcomer to reading this site as well, but he's been rather patient with my intermittent posting as of late, so I appreciate that. I hope to have a new original post up sometime next week, but I'm still interested in any and all guest bloggers to share the load. The email addy is You know what to do!

There are some people in this universe that are fortunate or forward thinking or whatever enough to end up working for a living in a field that they are completely passionate about. Unfortunately, I don't count myself among those few, those proud few. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy my job. I'm a big old geek at heart so working with computers and helping people with figuring them out and getting them working is certainly easy for me to do every day. There's not a great deal of passion there though. So then, I ask myself, what do I love and how do I turn that into my living?

One of the things that got me to thinking in that direction was an online quiz deals that I took for a blog meme. Head over to and check out their career matchmaker if you're interested in seeing your results. My top ten results included jobs that involved a lot more writing and teaching than I'm doing now. The other circumstance that pushed me to that place was a conversation that I had with a fellow geek. His current work situation is due in large part to the fact that he could make a better living working for a financial institution than he could doing what he was passionate about. So, we both face the less than unique position of working in a job that we're less than passionate about because that paycheck is pretty darn important.

Is this something that I should be tearing my hair out over? No. Goodness knows I don't really have enough of that to spare, but it's certainly good blogging material. Thankfully, something came along not too long ago that turns this titular concern into more of a snake than a dragon. It's called the internet; you might be familiar with it. Thanks to the internet you might be able to turn that passion into a paycheck. And no I'm not talking about some fly by night scheme.

Take for example someone like my wife. She is a passionate seamstress and an all around craft goddess. She has used craigslist and the uber-cool Web 2.0 to get her wares into the public eye. Has she made a killing? No, not yet and she may never, but she is engaging in her passion and is able to share it with others. Depending on what you make and who you want to sell it to, I'm certain you can find a way to make that happen.

Then there's me. I love to write, teach and speak to those willing to listen. I don't like to do that to the unwilling. Were that the case I suppose I'd teach high school as I had originally intended. (God bless the teachers btw, for that very strength and countless other reasons.) That's part of the reason I began blogging. It gave me an outlet for my desire to get printed words out there for folks to see. Recently, thanks to a friend, I've also gotten involved in podcasting, using a couple of the free services floating around on the interwebs. In my case I use and This and a couple of really talented writers who podcast their creations has whetted my appetite for podcasting my own fiction. At least one fiction author that I know of has a major book deal thanks to that process.

So if you're like me and your paycheck doesn't come from your passion, odds are there are still plenty of ways to express yourself. And who knows? If you work hard enough, maybe you'll get paid for it one day. Of course then you face the question of whether or not getting paid for it can turn it into the dreaded "job". That’s a risk I know I'm willing to take.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Name Game"

Today's question is a simple one with the possibility of being a long, detailed answer:

What are your favorite songs with a name in the title?

If you are participating on your blog, the rules are simple:

1. Answer this question ON YOUR BLOG and THEN link back to it via the box below.
2. Leave a comment letting me know you played along.
3. If you are interested in adding the box to your site, please visit Mister Linky.
4. If you have any questions or you're confused just ASK!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Write Back Weekend "September Morn"

The day started like any other. I had been at work about a half hour. As usual, the doldrums set in early once I realized that I was about to embark on yet another day with nothing worthwhile to do. In theory, this might sound like a worker's dream, but the reality was far different. I actually preferred to be busy. At least when you were busy, you were passing the time instead of being a clockwatcher.

I had only been working at this job for a few months now. My official title was Print Production Assistant, but I soon came to realize that was just a fancy way of saying that I was a glorified gopher. Being the low man on the totem pole in a new place made it harder to make new friends, too. Soon though I developed a friendship with a graphic artist who was my age and who had only been working there a little bit longer than me.

The morning of September 11th, 2001, I sat at my desk, bored to tears before stopping by my friend's office to see what she was doing. She mentioned something about the Twin Towers and superficially, I skimmed over it, talking about something else entirely. I don't even recall what the topic shifted to, but since I was still ingesting my morning coffee, the weight of what she was saying hadn't struck either one of us yet. Neither one of us were moving on to be rude, we were moving on out of ignorance to a situation that had yet to unfold.

Not long after that, the office was abuzz with talk of the Twin Towers attack. Still by this point not much information was known as fact. I heard stories of some workers huddled around computer screens and a TV set somewhere in the office. As word started to spread, the panic started to set in. After this the details are hazy. I don't remember if my boyfriend called me or I called him. Soon after that it became hard to reach anyone as everyone was attempting to reach a loved one, to verify whereabouts, and to claim a false sense of security, if only for a little while.

Soon after that the unthinkable happened, the office announced it was closing early for the day. Suddenly the idea of being cooped up in my cubicle seemed far more appealing that going home to an empty house. At least there I had the comfort of being surrounded by others. Relative strangers in many ways, but other people in the same boat, nonetheless. All of these movies had been made about the "Armageddon" glamorizing world catastrophes where people like Will Smith or Tom Cruise would be sent in to save the day. But that was just dress rehearsal. This was real life.

The other strong detail I remember from that day was the drive home. Living in NJ, driving can often be a bit of a battlefield. My ride home was not an overly congested on on an average day, but the road was packed with many chaotic drivers, coming and going instead of staying put. The thing that struck me about the chaos on the roads the most though was the complete absence of rudeness on that day. Drivers were letting other drivers in, waving people on in stunned silence. Suddenly, there was a camaraderie on the roadway, something I had never seen before and if I'm being honest, I haven't seen it since.

When I finally got home I did what most other people did from various walks of life and from varying locations, I watched the news, when I could stomach it, checking in for updates. I couldn't bear to see the initial attack footage any more and the urban legend stories about what as actually happening at ground zero began to spread like wildfire. At a certain point I wanted to avoid the news, not out of disrespect, but out of disbelief, not knowing how to react to the growing unknowns. Here we were, Americans, living in what was supposed to be the safest country in the world, or at least one of them. In mere seconds, we were brought to our knees in a seemingly avoidable act, one to this day leaves some question marks and speculation. It's the unknowns and the conspiracy theories that make me cringe most of all.

For months after September 11th, America seemed to be running in slow motion. Things weren't "back to normal", but we had started to move on slowly but surely. Now here it is, six years later and on most days I dare to say Americans have returned to their old ways. The arrogance came back with vengeance, along with rudeness to each other. It seems that common decency was only temporary insanity, and that's a shame. Out of September 11th, a time full of hatred and fear, a lot of change could have been born. But I can't help but think that change was fleeting. Sure some of us live our lives differently, but the residual effects of that day have left most of us more guarded with good reason, but not necessarily more gracious.

Right after the events of September 11th unfolded, my boyfriend had trouble sleeping. He swears to this day that he had a premonition type of a dream that mirrored the general events of September 11th. Of course when he had the bad dream he thought it was just that, a dream. As his was able to draw parallels from his dream to real life was when he started to get freaked out by the whole experience. Most people can't say they saw it's those who have and still choose to live their lives in the exact same way. No one who lived through that day sees things exactly the same anymore. Choosing to believe otherwise, no matter what time has passed, is the real ignorance.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Guest Post "Don't Want To Make You Grow Numb, If It's Not What You Thought It Was, Legs Are For Discovering, This Is What It's Like"

Today's guest post comes to us courtesy of Mojo Shivers, a frequent commenter to AOGB. He and his sometimes blogging partner, Breasier, write a very personal blog with heart on your sleeve like entries. Every time I go to visit, I'm amazed that they still have stories left to tell since they both are rather young. If you like long-winded posts with purpose, you should check the blog out. Below you'll find a sneak peek.

Don't forget I'm still looking for (and waiting on) guest posts from friends of AOGB to help keep things afloat for the next few weeks or so. It need not be a new post and I know you've all got a few good ones hidden up your sleeves to share! If you're interested, please drop me a line at

The Actor", Mates of State

I was at Camp Cherry Valley located miles away from the mainland on the small island of Catalina contemplating my future. I was probably eleven or twelve at the time, the summer before Eighth Grade, and I was away on a week-long camping trip with my Boy Scout troop. That right there was the problem that had me troubled. At that point in time, laying on that wooden floor, above a dirty and sweat-filled sleeping bag, I was contemplating whether all of this "fun" was really worth the effort. I was contemplating whether or not I had the correct intentions for persisting in this very foolish endeavor known as scouting.

The trouble started a few years earlier when a former alumni of my elementary school/junior high, St. Rita's, came by to recruit for a new scout troop he was putting together. He had, apparently, risen high in the ranks and thought his talents could be best served by reviving the old troop number of St. Rita's. Admittedly, I was excited. I had been in a Cub Scout troop that had been fun for awhile but had splintered apart under bad leadership. I was looking forward to experiencing what a troop done right would be like. However, I think the real reason I wanted in was because all my friends were truly gung-ho about it. Some kids experience peer pressure to trying out drugs, alcohol, and smoking. My first and most memorable exposure to it was the Boy Scouts. After all, if the only group of people I spent time with outside of my family had up and decided to join a cult, I would have probably joined a cult too. Nobody wants to be the odd man out and I certainly didn't want that distinction either.

However, that's exactly what ended up happening.

For the first years, it was actually fun. We did all the things I had imagined went along with the camping, hiking, and crafting mythology that went along with Boy Scouts. For the first few years I actually couldn't wait to show up to the troop meetings. For the first few years I couldn't spend enough time hiking and camping. That's actually where my love of the outdoors came to fruition.

I think the trouble began when my friends tasted the few sweet sips of success in scouting. Suddenly, it became less about having fun and become more of advancing in rank. I didn't have this huge push to become an Eagle Scout. To me this was just a fun way to spend time with my friends and have permission to be big, huge goofballs miles away from my parents. To me it was just an extension of the hijinx we
usually engaged in and away from school. I couldn't make the distinction when and where scouting suddenly became this serious pursuit full of serious plans and serious commitment.

Cut to Camp Cherry Valley. I had spent the first few days hanging out with my friends, but on that day I found myself alone in my tent because my tentmate and my other three friends had signed up for yet another merit badge class. Sure, I could have signed up for the same class, but it involved copious amounts of sleeping directly on the ground and foraging for your own food. Neither of which interested me at all. The only depressing part was they had all signed up for the class and they all had departed for the overnight part of the class, leaving mojo alone and without a person in the world to talk to. I suppose I could have hung out with the younger members of the troop, by my four friends were the only people the same age as me and I was still at that age where soon-to-be Eighth graders did not hang out
with soon-to-be Seventh graders. It just wasn't done.

So there I laid, after dinner but before bedtime, trying to come up with reasons why I should continue doing something I didn't really enjoy. I mean--it was one thing to be involved when my friends were all involved at the same level as me. But somewhere along the way they had taken this secret vote to change gears and shoot for the big
prize at the end of the rainbow. Somewhere along the way it started becoming a life plan to them instead of the postponement of real life that it still was to me. That night I realized things would never be the same. I had seen the writing on the wall and it said that night would only be the first night of many where I could only be seen as lagging behind all of them. I was never going to be as dedicated to their goals. I was going to be the dumbass who couldn't get serious enough to start earning his badges left and right. I was going to be the one left behind.

I don't know if you've ever been in that situation, but it isn't pleasant. I don't much care for being thought as being lazy or for being thought of as a malcontent. I wanted to keep pace with them. Honestly, I did. But as I trolled through my thoughts, I came to the conclusion that my sin did not lay in being unmotivated. My sin originated from my ever joining in the first place. It's one thing to commit yourself to something and then abandon it for the next pretty pursuit that tickles your loins. But it's another thing to know something holds no interest for you and still doing it because somebody else you like is doing it. Yes, you never know what you'll like until you give it a try, but sometimes the best thing you can do when it comes to something that gives you a bad first impression is to just say no. What you should never do under any circumstances is continue to pretend to like something for the sake of others. It does you no favors and only makes the feeling of being let down all the more acute for them. I say once you dislike something, once it fails
to make you happy, then you should stop.

I was too young at that point to put it into so many words. But even then I had a gut feeling that there are just some activities, hobbies, or callings that are not suited to a person, just as there are some people not suited for one another.

Yet with a few years time, I came to realize that that too may have been part of the problem. My friends were okay for that period in my life, but even they were not suited to me. They possessed a drive and thirst for betterment that I simply did not share. I was perfectly content to assist and co-operatively better a group, but I don't have that competitive edge so many others were born with. I have never relished matching up with my peers. I'd much rather be part of a collective that are opposing another collective. That's the extent of my competitive drive.

Before I went to bed that night, I came to the decision that after that summer Boy Scouting and I would part ways. I had no thought of continuing my scouting well into eighth grade or beyond.

Yes, my friends saw me as a coward and a quitter, but I always thought what I did was more courageous than they ever saw. I think it takes real focus and a real understanding to know what you want and you don't want. It takes real courage to walk away from people you have grown close to because staying would mean being someone you just aren't.

I was never a real Boy Scout.

I was just a guy who tagged along when his best friends had all decided to become scouts and who ended up staying three years.

Yours Swimmingly,
mojo shivers
Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?"

Although I could had sworn I had asked this question before, I can't seem to find it in my archives. Still, even if I had answered it, you may all not have and that in itself makes it worth doing "again", right?

Today's question, came to mind in honor of the sixth anniversary of the ominous date.

Where were you on September 11th, 2001 and how did it change your life?

If you are participating on your blog, the rules are simple:

1. Answer this question ON YOUR BLOG and THEN link back to it via the box below.
2. Leave a comment letting me know you played along.
3. If you are interested in adding the box to your site, please visit Mister Linky.
4. If you have any questions or you're confused just ASK!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Write Back Weekend "Holiday. Celebrate."

Last Tuesday I asked you the following question:

Which is your favorite national holiday and why? And as a bonus question, was the holiday that is your favorite now always your favorite or has it changed over the years?

Needless to say, Labor Day made me think of the question, but Labor Day would not be my actual answer. I'm sure someone, somewhere appreciates Labor Day since it grants many of us a day off, but in my case it also signifies the return to school the following day, thus not making it the most relaxing of choices.

If we're being honest, most of the reasons why we like the holidays we do have nothing to do with the holiday itself. The significance is there somewhere, looming in the background, but what it means to you often takes precedence over global significance anyway.

If you had asked me this question growing up, I don't know what I would have chosen, but the typical children oriented answers would certainly make the short list. Back then I always loved Christmas because, I'm not gonna lie, it meant getting presents. But then I always had a soft spot (or sweet tooth as the case may be) for Halloween and Easter for similar reasons. Basically as a child you choose your favorites based on whatever gives you the biggest payout. Don't lie. You know this is true.

Now that I'm an adult, I find that those same three holidays probably make the cut in terms of favorites, and only in part for the same reason. I mean really, who doesn't like getting presents?! But I actually do like giving the right presents, too. Yet this adds stress to the holiday season, stress that is absent from your life as a child, thus freeing up this holidays to be favorites, without conditions.

The other reason I like these holidays though is for the simple fact that they are rooted in tradition and memory. Every Christmas I think about Christmas experiences that have come before like decorating the tree while listening to Christmas carols or attending mass. The same goes with Easter complete with Easter egg dying and Cadbury egg eating. Even Halloween, though not on the same scale, carries with it specific memories. For instance, I can tell you the story of how I got sick two Halloweens in a row, or about the time a neighbor down the street organized a Halloween pageant for all the neighborhood families to enjoy. I can still sing the chorus of the song we learned too, H-A- Double L, W, Double E, N.

But that's not important now.

Yet, while the memories serve to make the holidays meaningful, they can easily make you melancholy, too. When you are a kid, there are no memories of people who have since passed or regrets about New Years Resolutions left unresolved. Your life is a clean slate, yet to be drawn on. As the years progress, however, the memories can make you sad at the same time you are happy, and for the same reasons. As Monk would say it's a blessing...and a curse.

I guess you could say the criteria for my favorite holiday has changed, too. I'm no longer picky. If I get a day off to reflect or relax, preferably with a drink in hand, surrounded by friends and/or family, that's all I really need.

Of course the presents and candy are always welcome, too.
Thursday, September 06, 2007

Guest Post: "Witnessing," Growing Pains, and the Road to Hell

This year's batch of wonderful guest bloggers kicks off with a post from David over @ Musings With David Amulet. Incidentally, if you haven't read David's blog before, here's a great sneak peek and a reason to swing by his place for more. What I love about reading his site is that you never know what you're going to get. No topic is too big, or too small.

While I'm on the subject, it's certainly not too late to throw your hat into the ring to guest blog here at AOGB. Just email me at I would like to have one or two guest posts a week for the month of September, if possible. Right now I'm only at a whopping FIVE volunteers. Come on guys, have a heart and help a teacher out!

There I was, minding my own business. Racing through the channels between Metal Mania on VH1 Classic, beach volleyball on NBC, and the Weather Channel's tropical update.

And then I saw God.

Bear with me, dear readers. This post will take some time to get through.

God did not actually appear on my television, of course...but someone selling his version of God did. More specifically, this somebody was hosting an infomercial wherein interviewers "witness."

They bully people on the street. Prod them to admit their violations of all Ten Commandments. Convince them they have bought a one-way ticket to Hellfire and Damnation, which I think is currently in western Sudan. And the accosted sinners cry like babies. They profess their acceptance of Jesus-or at least the show's interpretation of Jesus-as their personal savior.

Disturbing enough just on the face of it. But what stopped me like a kick in the crotch was the identity of the host.

Our spokesman, our guiding light, is none other than Kirk Cameron.

Maybe you know him as lanky teenager Mike Seaver from the 1980s sitcom "Growing Pains." Well, guess what-he's all growed up now, and he has gone evangelical on us.

For those of you who dare not tread in radical Christian Web sites, let me give you the skinny on his new cause, "The Way of the Master."

The melodrama begins with "Almost everyone thinks they are a good person...but the question you should be asking is, 'Am I good enough to go to Heaven?'"

Thankfully, Kirk and his similarly self-righteous partners will be glad to tell you that the answer is no, and instead you will go to hell. You see, THEY know the one true way, the path to salvation that must be right for everybody. And they are not shy about telling you what it is.

Then we have "Who is God to you? Is he only a god of love and mercy? He's a figment of your imagination. You've created a god in your own mind that you're more comfortable with. You may call it your 'personal belief,' but God calls it idolatry."

Thank you, Mikey Seaver. Here I had thought that your God gave us brains to use them, to interpret things. But now I realize that we should just follow YOUR interpretation rather than think for ourselves, because anyone who sees God differently than you do will go to hell.

They point out a verse in the Book of John (Author's note: They are not referring to the dirty joke book you keep in the bathroom for toilet reading) that says, "He who hates his brother is a murderer." Thus, they claim, if you have ever been angry with anyone then you have violated the commandment against murder. And you will go to hell.

Oops, I am a goner. Because these arrogant proselytizers are triggering some big time anger issues right now.

Kirk and friends also inform the viewer that any man who has looked at a woman with lust has committed adultery and will-you guessed it-go to hell.

But did not God-or evolution, or little green men from Mars, or any creator in whatever system you choose to believe-hardwire us to find other humans attractive PRECISELY BECAUSE it aids the propagation of the species? This wonderful "solution" to the "sin" of lust would leave the world pretty much empty of people in about a generation. Not many people to "save" then, are there?

And it goes on and on. So what, you may ask, are the justifications for these views that should be pounded into everybody? Bible verses.

Yes, I said Bible verses.

But if these verses must indeed be followed literally, as the evangelicals claim, why are they not preaching against eating shellfish-which is clearly disallowed in Leviticus?

Is Kirk going to sell one of his daughters into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus? Where is their "witnessing" for stoning, which has the nod from God as a punishment?

After all, all these things are in the Bible-quite explicitly, actually. (See the amazing "Open Letter to Senator Rick Santorum" for more.)

We are so lucky to have Mike Seaver and his born-again buddies to sort through all those pesky verses for us. It must be a burden to decide for the rest of humanity which verses pave the way to eternal damnation and which ones can conveniently be ignored...but they seem to enjoy it. God bless them.

It may surprise you that I actually think Kirk means well. Maybe my fond memories of "Growing Pains" are exerting their influence; perhaps I just tend to give people the benefit of the doubt.

But he should remember that the road to hell-with which he claims to be so familiar-is paved with good intentions.

So while they break people down in public and lead group prayers on the street, maybe they should read a different Bible verse, from Matthew. It says, in part, "when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others....But, when you pray, go into your room and shut the door."

Kirk, it is far past time for you to go to your room and keep your praying there where your God says it belongs.

Or else you are going to hell.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Holiday Road"

As all United States citizens who read this blog already know, yesterday was the national holiday of Labor Day. This holiday is supposed to mark the hard work of many Americans by giving them a much appreciated day off as a token of thanks. My mom, however, received a brightly colored company t-shirt, but I digress.

Regardless of where you stand on Labor Day, that brings me to today's TITMT question, inspired months ago by Sharon.

Which is your favorite national holiday and why? And as a bonus question, was the holiday that is your favorite now always your favorite or has it changed over the years?

If you are participating on your blog, the rules are simple:

1. Answer this question ON YOUR BLOG and THEN link back to it via the box below.
2. Leave a comment letting me know you played along.
3. If you are interested in adding the box to your site, please visit Mister Linky.
4. If you have any questions or you're confused just ASK!



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