Epilogue

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Years before Harrison Ford played the role in the movie, David Janssen was The Fugitive on TV. He was Dr. Richard Kimbel, the falsely-accused man on the run chasing the one-armed man who killed his wife. On my only vacation in California, in between duty stations in Adak, Alaska and Todendorf, Germany I saw David Janssen in a restaurant. I was with my friend Patty Patti (real name), and I didn’t go over and ask for his autograph. He was sitting by himself huddled in a booth with his collar up, looking very much like he didn’t want to be spotted by Lieutenant Gerard or anybody else. So, I left him in peace.

Each episode of The Fugitive ended with an Epilogue. He had just had another close escape from the pursuing detective, and was getting ready to head to another town in search of the elusive one-armed man.

Well, this week I have an epilogue of my own to last week’s story. I went to the ballgame last night. They were giving out souvenir Barnstormer scarves, and playing against York, their arch rivals. York is only a short car ride away, and York is about to clinch the pennant in their division. I think their “magic number” is 2. So there were probably more York fans there than Stormer fans.

York scored 6 runs in the top of the first inning and the York fans were going crazy. I felt like you might feel if the people next door were having the party of the year and you weren’t invited. Worse yet, you had to work early in the morning, and they were raising the roof. So, with the score 6-0 after just three and a half innings, my new scarf and I left.

I continued to watch the game on YouTube, though. With the exception of Tuesday nights, when I’m with all my SilverStormer friends, I usually prefer to watch the game on YouTube. Even when I’m at the stadium, I tune in to the game on my phone. Dave Collins, the “Voice” of the Barnstormers makes it very interesting with his insights into the game and Minor League Baseball.

So, I was listening to the game and the Stormers scored 4 runs in the bottom of the fourth. York scored another run in the 5th. The Stormers took the lead in the bottom of the 8th, by a score of 8-7. Scott Schuman wasn’t able to close out the game in the top of the ninth as he gave up a home run. So, the Stormers were up in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied 8-8.

Darien Sandford (a.k.a. The Flash) singled up the middle then stole second. K.C. Hobson, now relegated to batting 9th, was up at bat. This time there was joy in Mudville. K.C. launched a hit to the gap in right-centerfield and Sandford scampered home with the winning run.

I’m glad that K.C. got his chance at redemption and it worked out for him and the Barnstormers. I’ll bet that the short ride back to York was a long, long car ride for a lot of York fans.  But I bet they’ll all be back again tonight.  I won’t be, though.  The Dutchland Rollers have a rare home game, and I’ve got to go cheer them on.  I’ll still catch glimpses of the ballgame on YouTube, though.

Peace and Love, and all of the above,

Earl

 

 

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K.C. at the Bat

The 2019 Lancaster Barnstormers season is mercifully coming to an end this weekend. Nothing went right this year. I know. As a season ticket holder, I was at a lot of their games. It was often frustrating, and I decided to take out my frustration by poking a little fun at the awful season. So, the other night I went to the stadium wearing a paper bag over my head, like the Unknown Comic used to do on the Gong Show, or the New Orleans AIN’TS.

I hoped that nobody would take offense. The people in Lancaster have a great sense of humor, and I hoped that they would get the joke. Luckily, they did. Jack, one of the Barnstormers employees at the gate, even took my picture (above). Then, when I got to my seat, one of the ushers came over to me, and I asked him if he wanted me to take it off. “No, of course not,” he said. “You’re much better looking with a bag over your head.” Did I mention that Lancasterians have a great sense of humor.

During the second inning the Stormers ask you to take a selfie and send it to Instagram at #whatmakesyousmile. I don’t know how that hashtag stuff works, or I would have taken a selfie.  They show these pictures during the 8th inning, and there I was in the center of the big scoreboard screen. Somebody else had taken my picture and sent it. Like I said, Lancasterians have a sense of humor. I love it here, and I especially love the Barnstormer fans.

Butch Hobson, the former manager of the team was sitting in the front row getting a good view of his son, first baseman K.C. Hobson, who walked his first three times at the plate. Butch now manages the Chicago Dogs. When he got up to go to the refreshment stand, I yelled at him, “The Chicago Dogs suck eggs.” He instinctively balled his fist and turned towards me. He quickly realized I was joking, unclenched his fist, and shook my hand.  “Come back to Lancaster, Butch.  We love you here.”

Watching the game, it reminded me of the old poem by Ernest Lawrence Thayer, Casey at the Bat. It was the final game of a 4-game homestand against the Long Island Ducks, and the Ducks had won the first three games easily. So, as things were going wrong again in the fourth game, I wrote a little parody of Mr. Thayer’s poem. To my surprise, the 1888 poem didn’t require a lot of changing to make it apropos for this year’s Stormers.

K.C. at the Bat

(With thanks and apologies to the original by Ernest Lawrence Thayer)

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The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Lancaster nine that day:

The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,

Then Martinez ripped one up the middle, and Mercedes got on too.

A cheer rose from the Stormer fans, because they knew their team was due.

 

The Ducks had managed in this series to take the first three games.

They were kicking Stormer butt, not bothering to take names.

But now our team would have a chance to end the homestand on a high,

All we needed was a batter who could launch one to the sky.

 

Torrence tried to bunt the runners, but the ball found a glove in flight,

Sandford hit a fly to center that would have gone over the wall in right.

Then the roar of the crowd bounced off the walls and recoiled upon the flat,

For K.C., mighty K.C., was advancing to the bat.

 

The Stormers only had one walk-off homer the entire baseball year,

But K.C. was the one who hit it, and the crowd knew when to cheer.

Two men on, and two men out, K.C. strode confidently to the plate.

His father, Butch, was in the stands and a homer would be just great.

 

This place would go wild, if he could do it again, a walk-off homer to turn us loose.

The Ducks have been kicking our asses all week, and it’s time to cook their goose.

Old Butch would be proud, and maybe so glad that he came by “The Clip” tonight,

He might even come back to manage again and he could put things right.

 

The first pitch was a ball, it was clearly just a tiny bit inside.

K.C. fouled off the next one over on the first base side.

The next pitch was a ball, a call we saw but never heard.

Then K.C. fouled off another, this time just wide of third.

 

The next pitch came in and the umpire stood still. It was ball number three.

The count was full. The runners would be off as quickly as can be.

“Please give him the heat,” I yelled, knowing he’d blast it a mile.

But the pitcher threw him a curve ball and then began to smile.

 

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright,

The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;

And somewhere Ducks are quacking, though I’d rather they were cooking.

For there is no joy in Lancaster, today. Mighty K.C. struck out looking.

 

Go Stormers in 2020.

 

Peace & Love, and all of the above,

Earl

 

Here’s the original Casey at the Bat by Ernest Lawrence Thayer:

 

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, “If only Casey could but get a whack at that—
We’d put up even money now, with Casey at the bat.”

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a hoodoo, while the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despisèd, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It pounded on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile lit Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt;
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance flashed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped—
“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one!” the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted someone on the stand;
And it’s likely they’d have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the dun sphere flew;
But Casey still ignored it and the umpire said, “Strike two!”

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered “Fraud!”
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate,
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate;
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.

 

Heavy Traffic on Memory Lane

I just got back from a week of visiting my relatives in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and Akron, Ohio. As my train pulled back into Lancaster, my old Navy Buddy, BT, was there to meet me. He stood in the waiting room like a chauffer with a big cardboard sign, “Duke of Earl.”

We spent the next two days joyfully skipping down Memory Lane. We were stationed in Adak, Alaska together and we managed to have some fun in that barren wasteland, which was so close to Russia, we could almost see Sarah Palin’s house.

Here’s a picture of the main work location for Communication Technicians on the island. BT and I worked in a more remote part of the island where we secretly tracked spy satellites to stay a step ahead of the Russians in the Cold War. The Poppy program was recently declassified so don’t go turning me in to Homeland Security for divulging government secrets.

Adak - Clam Lagoon - Mount Moffett

There were no trees on Adak when GIs landed there in World War II, so they planted a few pine trees and jokingly placed a sign, “You are now entering and leaving Adak National Forest.” When I was there the tallest tree was about chest high. BT went back to Adak as a consultant in 2015 and took a picture. The trees had grown only two or three feet in the almost 50 years since we had been stationed there.

Adak - National Forest

It wasn’t all work on Adak. We had our free time. It’s just that the weather didn’t make going outdoors very much fun. We did go out, though, anytime the weather allowed. We would joke that there were only two seasons on Adak, August and winter. Here’s a picture of a few of us in August as we were getting ready to cook a few hot dogs at our “Summer Resort,” a hut left over from World War II.

Adak - Summer Vacation Home

I’m the one behind Bruce McNutt in the red shirt. Notice that even though it was August we were still wearing coats and hats. BT told me that Bruce is no longer with us. He was killed in a car crash a few years ago. Rest in Peace, Bruce.

My second favorite photo from those days is this picture of BT on the right, apparently teaching somebody how to walk on water. They are actually floating on a n old wooden door we found.

BT walks on Water

Here’s my favorite picture of Adak. It’s kinda blurry and not an example of good photography, but it is my favorite because it was taken from the plane that got me off that island.

Adak - Best View - Leaving 02

BT and I were also stationed together in Todendorf, Germany.  I haven’t been able to find any pictures of us together back then, because those were the days before selfies became popular, and we were too busy having fun, but here’s a picture of us after the two days of reminiscing and drinking.

Earl & BT -4-08272019

BT was hardly out the door, before I got an e-mail from the drummer of the band I was in 52 years ago, The Townsmen, A.K.A, The Heard. Victor got my e-mail from John Karolefski, who was the leader of the band and now writes a blog about amusing and interesting happenings in the world of groceries. It seems that Victor would be coming to Lancaster because he had a booth at the Long’s Park Art Festival, so we made plans to meet there.

Here’s a picture of the World-Famous Townsmen as we appeared back then.

The Townsmen

John, Earl, Victor, Dennis, and Joey – The Townsmen. A.K.A. The Heard

Here’s a recent picture of John, as he appears in his Grocery blog.

John Karolefski

https://www.grocerystories.com/

Here’s the picture Victor and I took at the Art Festival.

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Back when we were in the band, Victor was the quiet one. That has changed. LOL. He cracked a bunch of jokes and gave me some good laughs about the old days. He remembered the songs we played and how we stretched the good ones out, because we didn’t play too many songs well. I remembered the time we played at Staten Island Community College as The Heard. It turned out that there was a Texas punk rock/grunge/garage band called The Heard and they actually had a record. When we got there, we saw posters up all over the campus promoting The Heard. So, all night, the huge, rowdy, grunge-loving crowd kept demanding to hear “our hit.” We never heard of the Texas Heard, and we certainly didn’t know their hit. So, we played our asses off doing 15-minute versions of Johnny B Goode and The House of the Rising Sun, just hoping to entertain the audience enough to not want to kill us.

Here’s a link to a video by The Heard, the ones from Texas, the ones who had a record that we never heard of.

 

These past two weeks have been full of great memories of the past, with family and friends.  Now it’s time to go out and make some more memories to look back upon fondly with friends in years to come.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,

Earl

 

 

 

 

 

[EP1]

Buckle Up for the Bible Belt

This past weekend I went to Ohio to celebrate my Aunt Miriam’s 85th birthday. They drew straws to see who would put me up while I was in Ohio. Miriam’s son Paul and his wife Cindy lost, so I stayed at their house. I used to think the Bible Belt was just down south. To my dismay, it’s gotten wider. It now goes all the way to my Aunt’s house. She and her late husband George were both good Catholics, and like all good Catholics, they had a bunch of kids and grandkids. The party was just for family and they still had to rent out a public park to have room for everyone. It looked like one of those Christian revival meetings. I was the token Atheist.

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The birthday girl and her kids.

Naturally, I couldn’t resist telling everyone at the party that they were completely wrong about God. Naturally, they couldn’t resist beating the crap out of me with their crosses and Bibles. Only kidding. They were very non-violent, but I did see a few of them taking the safety off their guns. They took turns telling me about their own personal conversations with Jesus. I told them that talking to God was fine, but that when God talks to you, that’s a sign of mental illness. They started praying for me. “Bless us, oh Lord, for the food we are about to receive, and please aim carefully if You decide to throw lightning bolts at Cousin Early.”

They gave up trying to convert me, but that didn’t stop me from telling any Jesus jokes I could remember. Did you hear about the burglar who thought the house he was robbing was empty, but then heard a voice repeatedly saying, “Jesus is watching you.” He got scared until he saw that a parrot was doing the talking. “I suppose you’re Jesus he said.” “No,” squawked the parrot, my name is Moses.” The burglar laughed. “What kind of an idiot names their parrot Moses?” The parrot replied, “The same kind of idiot who names their Rottweiler Jesus.”

Okay, this wasn’t the right audience for Jesus jokes. Who wants to talk Politics?

To my surprise, I wasn’t too much further to the left than most of them, except maybe on the issues of Gun Control, Immigration, the Death Penalty, the Economy, birth control, abortion, outsourcing jobs, separation of Church and State, the Wall, and, well, just about everything else. The only thing most of us agreed upon was that, contrary to whatever historians may say, James Buchanan was not the worst President we ever had. There was a new title holder currently residing in the White House.

Okay, so no more Jesus jokes or political talk. That still left me with me with plenty to talk about. Who wants to hear about Harness Racing, the Lancaster Barnstormers, or Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby?

Thanks for coming, Early. We’ll be sure to invite you to the next family function.

No wait, I still had my ace in the hole. After these picnics they always go back to someone’s house and sit around a bonfire in the backyard. Brother X and I tell stories about New York, and trade barbs about each other. They love that. They all just sit back laughing as we tell the most outlandish stories we can think of. It’s always the high point of the weekend, but Brother X couldn’t make the trip to Ohio this time. So, it was just me telling them my jokes as we sat around the fire. That saved Paul a lot of firewood, as everyone left quickly. I guess they all had church early in the morning.

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Paul, Debbie, Linda, Aunt Jane, and a photo bomber.

I left Ohio with my Aunt Jane and two of her daughters, Debbie and Linda. (Another good Catholic, Aunt Jane has got 7 more kids back in Johnstown who couldn’t make the trip.) We went back to Johnstown so I could catch my train back to Lancaster early the next morning. Debbie and Linda had to work the next day, so I stayed overnight at Aunt Jane’s place, which turned out to be the buckle in the Bible Belt. My room looked like the Pope’s private prayer room. There were rosary beads hanging off anything that even resembled a hook. There were electric votive candles and statues of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and almost every apostle. Crucifixes were everywhere, and I think the ceiling was painted by Michelangelo. The bathroom had a holy water font.

Amazingly, I slept very well, despite the fact that the bed kept spinning around, and Jesus was watching me all night.

Pictures taken in the “Sistine Guest Room”.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,
Earl

 

With a Little Help from My Friends

Normally, I celebrate my birthday by going out to dinner with a friend or two. This year I celebrated a little early with 15,000 strangers. My birthday is August 19th, but on Saturday the 17th Lancaster hosted a free musical tribute to the 50th anniversary of The Woodstock Festival, and I decided to treat it as a birthday party.

The party was at Long’s Park, just a short 10-minute bus ride from my house. I’ve been there before, and I know that it is lawn seating. People bring blankets or those folding chairs that fit in a bag. I have a bad hip and I know that if I got down on the lawn, I might not be able to get up without help. So, to prepare for the event, I went and bought a folding chair. I also went to Subway and got a foot-long steak and cheese sandwich. They have a no alcohol policy at Long’s Park, so I made a half gallon of iced tea, which I stored in the freezer for a few hours, so it would stay ice cold all night. Then I went to the liquor store and bought some peach brandy in those little bottles you get on airplanes. I had no intention of going alcohol free at my birthday party, no matter what the park rules said. I have my own rules.

The concert started at 7:30, but I got there early to enjoy the sandwich and a “Lancaster Iced Tea.” The first thing I noticed was that there were a bunch of food trucks there, and most of them had cheese steaks, so next time I don’t have to bring food, just bring a chair and the contraband liquid refreshment. The spiked iced tea was perfect, by the way. I knew it would be. I experimented all week with different liquors and the peach brandy turned out to be my favorite mixer. (Vanilla brandy came in second.)

It was interesting watching the concertgoers arrive. It had to be the oldest crowd ever to attend a rock concert. Almost everyone had found a tie-dyed shirt somewhere in their closet for the occasion. Ladies had flowers in their hair and peace symbols and flowers painted on their faces. At the original Woodstock, Arlo Guthrie looked out at the crowd and made a comment, “Lotta freaks!” These people didn’t look freaky, at all, though. Lancaster has a half-dozen colleges and a dozen tattoo parlors. The average person on the street here looks 10 times freakier than anybody who was at the concert. The concert audience just looked like very normal people going to a 60’s costume party at the senior center.

By the time the concert began, I was well-fed and working on my third Lancaster Iced Tea. I only had one problem. This was the first time I used the new folding chair I just bought. It turned out to be very low to the ground. I still might need help getting out of it, especially if the peach brandy iced teas kept going down so smoothly.

Twenty-five musicians gathered from various local bands quickly shuffled in and out in different combinations to recreated non-stop sets of the Woodstock songs played by Sly & the Family Stone, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Blood, Sweat, and Tears, Jefferson Airplane, The Who, Santana, Country Joe and the Fish, The Band, The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and it ended with the Joe Cocker version of I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends. Then, they all came out on stage for the encore, Woodstock, a song written after the event to commemorate the festival.

I wasn’t surprised that the entire audience seemed to know all the words to the 50-year-old songs, but I was amazed at how incredibly well the musicians played these songs that were hits long before most of them were even born. They all sounded surprisingly like the original artists. When the producer’s wife, Patty Grabowski, came out to perform, I figured it was just a favor to his wife, and I wasn’t expecting much from her. Then, she nailed the Grace Slick songs White Rabbit and Somebody to Love. Later in the show, her daughter brought Janis Joplin back to life with outstanding renditions of Me and Bobby Magee and Piece of My Heart.

During the night they also recreated some of the stage announcements from the original Woodstock. They made a “public service announcement” to stay away from the brown acid, and that got a laugh from the crowd. The one that got the biggest laugh, though, was when the producer came out to solemnly inform the crowd that, “From now on, it’s a free concert.” Later, they acknowledged that because there were a handful of young people in the audience, they didn’t do the infamous “Gimme and F…” cheer before they performed the Country Joe & the Fish song, Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die, Rag. Also, the since the weather was beautiful, so there was no crowd chant of “NO RAIN…NO RAIN.”

Then came the moment of truth for me as the concert ended. I pushed on the arms of the chair and to my great surprise, I sprung to my feet with no problem. I guess the lubrication helped. Maybe I’ve found a new arthritis remedy. I better go get some more peach brandy before they make it a prescription drug.

Thank you, Lancaster, for a great birthday party.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,

Earl

I Believe

I’m currently working on a screenplay about our 15th President, James Buchanan. The setting shifts back and forth between the present and 1863. How do I get the audience to believe that they are going back and forth between the present and 1863? I can’t. But I don’t have to make them actually believe it. Audiences are conditioned to “suspend disbelief” in order to enjoy the show. If you tell, or somehow show them that it is the present, they will go with it. If you dress the actors in clothes from 1863, the audience will “play along” and accept that it is 1863.

In a wintry scene, their reasoning minds might know that a stagehand is sprinkling white confetti on the stage from above, but when they learn to suspend disbelief, the audience will enjoy the “snowfall.” In the theater, in movies, audios, or in reading, we need to be able to sometimes disengage our reasoning mind and engage our imagination in order to enjoy it. Basically, there is an unwritten covenant between authors and their audiences. You suspend your disbelief for a couple hours and I will give you a couple hours of entertainment.

tinkerbell

Did you clap your hands and say “I Believe” when Tinkerbell was dying?

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who wrote the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, invented the term suspension of disbelief in 1817. He wanted you, sitting in your comfortable easy chair, to clearly imagine the anguish of the cursed mariner drifting far at sea “with water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.”

Wikipedia defines the term suspension of disbelief as a willingness to suspend one’s critical faculties and believe something surreal. It is the sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment.

Sometimes we need to use both our reasoning mind and our imagination to get the most effect from a story. If we are watching a murder mystery, we use our reasoning mind to gather the clues, but we must use our imagination to suspend disbelief that the “murdered” actor is not really dead, or that the famous detective is just an actor.

We can be thrilled watching a magician saw a woman in half, though our reasoning mind knows (or at least hopes) that the woman is not really cut in two. We know that she will be back for the next performance. We must suspend this disbelief, though, to be able to enjoy the magic and the illusion.

More than 60 years ago, I was an avid fan of comic books, especially the DC comics, which featured Superman, Aquaman, Batman, Green Arrow, and other superheroes. To enjoy a comic book, we need to suspend disbelief and accept the character’s amazing, and often quite unbelievable, skill set. We know that man can’t fly, but we accept that Superman can. We know that man can’t live underwater, but we accept that Aquaman can. We accept an unrealistic premise in order to enjoy the story.

Places of worship are theaters in a way. In them, we are also able to suspend our disbelief and fully enter another world. It takes conditioning and practice, though, for us to be comfortable enough to lower our reasoning and boost our imaginations. Not surprisingly, those raised by Christians can easily adjust to the theater of a church, but they are not conditioned to equally accept the different customs of a synagogue or a mosque. Those raised by Jews can adjust to the theater of a synagogue but find themselves unable to adjust equally to the different ways of a church or mosque. Those raised by Muslims can adjust to the theater of a mosque, but not much else.

A Muslim man can imagine that if he died killing Christians and Jews he would be rewarded in paradise with dozens of virgins. Christians, Jews, and Atheists all think that this is absolutely crazy. A Jew or Muslim might abstain from the delicious taste of pork, lobster, or shrimp, because of what he is told in his Bible, Torah, or Koran. Christians and Atheists find that a bit crazy, even though Catholics once believed they would go to Hell if they ate a hot dog on a Friday. Christians believe that the wafers and wine served in Communion are transformed (transubstantiated) into the body and blood of their Savior, Jesus Christ. Jews, Muslims, and Atheists think of this as crazy, and maybe just a bit cannibalistic. Scientist just disavow it. Wine has a certain percentage of alcohol, while most people’s blood (except mine, of course) has a lower level of alcohol. “Transubstantiated” wine retains all the alcohol content and properties of wine, not blood.

Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Christian Scientists, and Scientologists – they’re all bat shit crazy, according to everyone who is not themselves a Mormon, Jehovah Witness, Christian Scientist, or Scientologist.

Atheists believe that all the world’s religions are crazy, and, reciprocally, all the world’s religions believe that Atheists are delusional. Many people don’t even accept that anyone could honestly be an Atheist. “There are no atheists in foxholes,” they have decreed. The Atheists counter that everyone in a foxhole must, in fact, be an Atheist, because if you truly believed that an all-powerful supreme being, who loved you, held your life in His hands, you would defiantly stand in the open and just dare the enemy to waste their ammunition trying and kill you. Picture that scene in Dances with Wolves, when Kevin Costner’s character, dreadfully worried that his injured leg will soon be amputated, decides instead to ride his horse back and forth in front of the enemy lines, actually preferring that a bullet will kill him instead of a surgeon.

Dances with Wolves

In religion, you are supposed to substitute imagination for reason. It’s called having faith. The hardest parts to believe require the strongest faith. Faith is more than just the suspension of disbelief, though. It is also the firm belief that what is imagined is the actual reality, and all too often, unfortunately, they believe it is the “only true reality.”

I’m an Atheist. Most likely, you are not. You think that I may be headed down the Highway to Hell. Whereas, I don’t believe there even is such a place. The problem for Atheists is that they are unable to suspend disbelief when it comes to religion. They can’t turn off their reasoning mind, and, so, they don’t get the same warm fuzzies that everyone else gets. They can’t enjoy it the way everybody else can. It’s a curse, and a blessing.

People think that because Atheists don’t believe in God, they don’t believe in anything. That’s not true. I don’t believe in a lot of things, but I do believe strongly in the few things I do believe in.

I believe that two hands working are far more powerful than a thousand hands clasped in prayer. Madalyn Murray O’Hair taught me that.

I believe in the separation of Church and State. Our American Founding fathers taught me that.

I believe in Love. The Beatles taught me that. I don’t really believe that Love is ALL you need, though. Food, clothing, shelter, a few drugs, and some beer may prove useful, too.

I believe in trusting everyone, but always cutting the cards. My Mom taught me that.

I believe in enjoying every moment I possibly can. My Dad taught me that.

I believe that we should all live and let live.  Lancaster taught me that.

 

Peace and Love, and all of the above,

Earl

 

 

It Takes a Village

 

Ashburn, Chacon, and Thomas

It may take two to Tango, but it took a village to get the facts right in my “Yo Tengo” story.

In my most recent blog I wrote about communication problems in the outfield in a minor league team.  I did not check my facts before I wrote the story.  I rarely do.  My brother Kevin and I are both firm believers that writers shouldn’t let the facts get in the way of a good story, and the story was really about me being drunk and getting hit on the head with a baseball.  Brother X, a.k.a. Beelzebro X, has a completely different attitude.  He thinks that stories should be loyal to the truth.  How quaint.

So, he pointed out some factual errors in my story.  It wasn’t a minor league team.  It was the 1962 Mets.  Well, in 1962, the Mets won 40 games and lost 120 games, so I don’t think you can blame me for being confused.  They sure played like a minor league team back then.

Then, Brother X pointed out that the names of the players were not lost to history.  It was Frank Thomas and Elio Chacon, he said.  At this point I decided to look it up for myself, but I didn’t have to.  Some baseball fans sent me the Wikipedia article.  It turns out that Beelzebro X was a bit wrong, too.  It was originally the Mets outfielder Richie Ashburn and infielder Elio Chacon, who had the communication problem.  Chacon solved it by teaching Ashburn how to say, “I’ve got it” in Spanish.  It turns out that I got that wrong, too.  It’s not, “Yo Tengo,” but “Yo la tengo.”  My bad.  But, come on!  “Yo Tengo” was close enough for my story.

So, one day there’s a fly ball to Ashburn in shallow centerfield and he yelled out “Yo la tengo.”  He noticed that Elio Chacon stopped coming, so he relaxed and prepared to catch the ball.  That’s when left fielder Frank Thomas, who hadn’t been involved in the Spanish lesson, crashed into Ashburn.

After they got up and dusted themselves off, Frank asked Richie why he was yelling out “Yellow Tango.”  He then got his Spanish lesson, and now, thanks to Brother X, Wikipedia, and a village of baseball fans, the story can truthfully be told.

I just want to point out that everyone pointed out the errors in my story.  Nobody asked me if my head hurt.  Baseball fans are like that.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,

Earl