Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in Review: My Favorite Videos of the Year

Marco Rubio: A Generational Choice

In his flawless campaign ad titled A Generational Choice, Senator-Elect Marco Rubio showed why he is the most promising and exciting conservative politician in a generation and shot to the top of the list of 2012 GOP vice presidential candidates.

24 Series Finale

Like his loyal sidekick Chloe, I blubbered as we bid a sad farewell to Jack Bauer and the must-watch experience that was 24.  The film version of 24 won't come soon enough for me.

Red Eye Favorite Intros of 2010, Part 1

Red Eye became my favorite TV show in 2010 thanks to its unique blend of humor, political irreverence, libertarian sensibility, and entertaining cast of panelists. Host Greg Gutfeld controls the mayhem with such a light touch that it is easy to underestimate his contribution to the show's success and growing popularity. As of this writing, Red Eye is the third most discussed TV show on Twitter.The cheeky guest intros must test the limits of the Fox News Channel censors.

Red Eye Favorite Intros of 2010, Part 2

Bedbugs Take Over the USA
The clever Taiwanese animators from NMA World Edition are plugged into American news and culture. They seem to be watchers of Fox News and fans of Red Eye as evidenced by the bedbugs video below.

Dennis Miller on Jimmy Carter's Presidency

Dennis Miller's regular segments on The O'Reilly Factor provide the funniest TV moments outside of Red Eye. Miller finally made his first Red Eye appearance on my birthday in August.


Best Commercial of 2010: Jack in the Box

This Drummer Is at the Wrong Gig 

Wrong gig and the wrong band. Dude.

Favorite Pet Video #1

A singing parrot? If you don't recognize the song, it is Let the Bodies Hit the Floor.

Favorite Pet Video #2

A talking cat? Is this video real or fake?

Favorite Pet Video #3

A talking dog? Maybe.

Favorite Pet Video #4

Cats are easily amused as are cat lovers like me.


2010 in Review: My Favorite Songs of the Year

Here are my favorite songs of 2010.

Beautiful, Beautiful by Francesca Battistelli

Quite simply, my favorite new worship song of 2010.


Sweet Disposition by the Temper Trap

I fell in love at first listen. My love burned brightly for weeks until it suddenly flamed out. The album was disappointing, but this is still a great song.

All of Creation by Mercy Me 

Mercy Me has become my favorite Christian contemporary band. Lead singer Bart Millard is one of the most charming personalities in all of CCM.

Crossfire by Brandon Flowers

On his first solo single, Killers' lead singer/songwriter Brandon Flowers eschewed his trademark New Wave quirks for a straightforward melody and vocal that are just lovely. With his charisma and talent for drama, Flowers could have a career in film or TV. The camera loves him.

Born Again by the Newsboys

Michael Tait, formerly of DC Talk, made a strong debut as the new frontman for the Newsboys.

Solitude Is Bliss by Tame Impala

Tame Impala is the third act from the Australian continent to appear on this list. Unlike the Temper Trap, Tame Impala's debut album was well crafted and memorable, sounding at times like the Beatles in their psychedelic period. Like the album, this video is also memorable and well crafted.

Our God by Chris Tomlin

Chris Tomlin remains the most prolific composer of worship music and this new song is already becoming a staple in churches that favor Christian contemporary songs. 

Forget You by Cee Lo Green

Clean version or profane, Cee Lo Green is an infectious performer of insanely catchy tunes that appeal to a variety of radio markets. As half of Gnarls Barkley, he helped create my favorite song of 2006, Crazy.

Blink by Revive

It happens in a blink. True dat.

Dog Days Are Over by Florence + The Machine

Florence sounds like a cross between Siouxsie Sioux of the Banshees and Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010: He Is Come

Have you ever received a gift so generous that it humbled you, made you feel unworthy? You have. All you need to do is accept it and let the Lord do the rest.

Here are my favorite versions of two exquisite worship songs that fill me with joy and gratitude.

I Wonder As I Wander performed by Jubilant Sykes at Grace Community Church 

Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant set to The Nativity Story

Here is my favorite secular Christmas song. Enjoy!

This Christmas by Donny Hathaway

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Geoduck: Neither Gooey Nor Duck

If you are a regular viewer of the Food Network or the show Top Chef, you may be familiar with geoduck, a large saltwater bivalve in the clam family that has become an exotic delicacy. Mysteriously, geoduck is pronounced "gooey duck" and can be found in the Pacific waters off of Washington and British Columbia.

Geoducks have a long tube-like siphon that performs a variety of functions. The siphon gives the geoduck its phallic appearance and, as my son says, proves that God has a sense of humor. Although geoduck is popular in Asia, its name is derived from early Native Americans of the northwest coast. You can see and learn everything you ever wanted to know about geoduck in this humorous video from Mike Rowe's Dirty Jobs.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sean Duffy for Congress

I wish I could vote for Sean Duffy, the Ashland County DA running for Wisconsin's 7th congressional district seat held for 40 years by retiring representative David Obey. He is a very appealing candidate with conservative values.

You might remember Duffy from the 1997 Boston season of MTV's The Real World in which he stood out for his normality and lumberjack handsomeness. Duffy is married to Rachel Campos of The Real World: San Francisco and they have six children.

Duffy has a terrific new commercial titled Get America Rolling Again!.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Top 10 Tearjerkers: Songs That Make Men Cry

According to a survey reported by the British tabloid The Sun, here are the top ten songs that make men cry:
1. Everybody Hurts - REM
2. Tears in Heaven - Eric Clapton
3. Hallelujah - Leonard Cohen
4. Nothing Compares 2 U - Sinead O'Connor
5. With or Without You - U2
6. Drugs Don't Work - The Verve
7. Candle In The Wind - Elton John
8. Streets of Philadelphia - Bruce Springsteen
9. Unchained Melody - Todd Duncan
10. Angels - Robbie Williams
I'm not a guy and I won't limit myself to ten songs when I can pick twenty, but that won't stop me from compiling my own list. Grab a box of tissues and a pint of gelato.

In no particular order:

I Just Wasn't Made for These Times - The Beach Boys

Don't Dream It's Over - Crowded House

Just Once in My Life - The Righteous Brothers

The Last Goodbye - Jeff Buckley

Alone Again Or - Arthur Lee and Love

Black - Pearl Jam

This Old Heart of Mine - The Isley Brothers

Monkey Gone to Heaven - The Pixies

A House Is Not a Home - Dionne Warwick

Your Ex-Lover Is Dead - Stars

Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me - The Smiths

A Song for You - Donny Hathaway

 No Blue Skies - Lloyd Cole

 Daisy Jane - America

God Give Me Strength - Elvis Costello

Cold Morning Light - Todd Rundgren

Miss Texas 1967 - The Colourfield

This Woman's Work - Kate Bush

Pearly Gates - Prefab Sprout

'Til I Die - The Beach Boys

Monday, September 27, 2010

Orange County Restaurant Week, Take 2

Orange County Restaurant Week is back to give local diners a break and businesses a much needed boost. We are having a record-breaking heatwave, which makes it especially tempting to enter an air conditioned restaurant and leave the cooking to professionals.

You can enjoy a scrumptious lunch for $10 or multi-course dinner for $30. This is a rare opportunity to sample some truly fine dining at world class establishments like the Anaheim White House, Antonello Ristorante, The Catch, Mr. Stox, The Ritz, and Sage. You can stimulate the economy and your tastebuds at the same time!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Psst, Establishment! Be Very Afraid of the Tea Party

Many media analysts struggling to contextualize and marginalize the Tea Party movement misunderstand its genesis. By repeatedly describing the rally attendees as almost exclusively white and racist, which is demonstrably false, they are trying to cast the movement as an extreme reaction to a president of color. However, this tea was brewing far longer than Barack Obama has been destroying the economy.

Office holders and other establishmentarians who feel threatened by the movement comprehend at least that the Tea Party rebellion is about power – their power. But they seem to ignore that grassroots anger is a long simmering repudiation of unearned and unelected power. Tea Partiers are not content to merely replace those currently in power. They seek to transform the halls of power until they are accountable to the American people and faithful to the founding principles of our once great nation.

For decades, activist judges have interpreted the law based on their own political and personal preferences – in short, they legislate from the bench, which is not their mandate. Congressmen have enacted laws that defy the will of their constituents and betray the campaign positions on which they were elected. On the great issues of our time – most notably, the economy, health care and illegal immigration – the elites in power are out of touch with the American people who have to live with the consequences of their actions and they are flagrantly disdainful of us.

President Obama, House Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Leader Reid are not the only politicians to deceive voters, misrepresent their mandate and impose their unelected agenda on an unwilling electorate. However, they chose to do so at one of the most conspicuously perilous moments in American history. Obama ran as a post-racial, post-political moderate, but he is ruling as an old-fashioned big government liberal – and an incompetent, indifferent leader.

Liberalism thrives in the media, academia, judiciary, and government bureaucracy – all unelected institutions of power where practitioners of liberalism rarely if ever have to defend their ideology. Jimmy Carter was the last openly liberal presidential candidate to win and his policies were so discredited after one disastrous term that an entire generation began to call themselves progressives to distance themselves from liberalism. Reagan is attributed with giving liberalism a bad name, but truly the label was self-inflicted by the unpopular programs of Carter and now Obama in action.

Republican voters of a certain age, me included, took the measure of Barack Obama in 2008 and predicted that he would be Jimmy Carter redux. With our prophecy tragically fulfilled, it is tempting to compare the Tea Party coalition of Democrats, Republicans, libertarians and independents to the Reagan Revolution and count the similarities. But there is one fundamental distinction – vive la difference!

Ronald Reagan was dubbed the Great Communicator for his ability to explain his policies and persuade the electorate. He transcended his mentor, William F. Buckley, to become the leader of late 20th century conservatism. Reagan’s presidential accomplishments were impressive and far reaching. In 1980, Reagan ran against the unelected institutions of power and began his first term confronting the air traffic controllers. Despite all of his executive authority and political gifts, he failed to change the entrenched bureaucracy that dominates Washington, D.C. or the Republican Party establishment, which is arrogant and entitled in its own right. By selecting George H.W. Bush as his running mate, Reagan insured that his own conservative agenda would be term-limited. Such are the limits of top-to-bottom leadership.

Yet fans and critics of the citizen revolt still wonder, “How can the Tea Party succeed without a leader?” That question ignores political history and the first Tea Party movement that wrested control of thirteen colonies from the most powerful nation of the 18th century despite the absence of one unifying leader. The question is also a product of the organization chart mentality with mandates emanating from the top down to the bottom.

The political ruling class abused their power to impose their insulated Beltway values on the American people, thus changing our culture incrementally against our will for decades. The players, parties and policies may vary from election year to election year, but the sense of entitlement remains the same.

The Tea Party is a bottom-to-top, side-to-side movement with every citizen as a leader. The agenda is formed at the grassroots level and spreading in every direction throughout fifty states. The Tea Party is redefining the culture and the halls of power by citizen consensus and its policies flow from the will of the people. This is the promise of the movement – and its biggest threat to the status quo.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Solitude Is Bliss by Tame Impala

Tame Impala is a new band from Australia with a sound inspired by psychedelic rock. Solitude Is Bliss is the first single from their debut album, Innerspeaker. Me likey.

has the import CD for a whopping $41.49 as of this writing, but you can purchase it on iTunes for $9.99.

My favorite lyric:

There's a party in my head
And no one is invited.

Oh, yeah. I've felt that way most of my life.

The video is interesting, too, especially the dancing. I trust that no animals were actually harmed in the production.

One of my favorite songs from the 1960s psychedelic era is Open My Eyes by Todd Rundgren's first successful band, Nazz. Enjoy.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Christine O'Donnell vs. Karl Rove: Statistics Don't Lie

After last Tuesday's primary election victory by Christine O'Donnell over Mike Castle in Delaware's senate race, Karl Rove appeared on the Fox News Channel to offer his analysis. Rove shocked viewers and the blogosphere with his derogatory comments questioning O'Donnell's character.

Since Rove continues to criticize O'Donnell in language usually employed by political opponents, conservatives have been asking whether Rove had a personal stake in the Castle campaign or a grudge against O'Donnell. What we do know is Rove's track record in Delaware.

In the 2000 presidential election, Rove's most famous client, George W. Bush, lost Delaware to Al Gore by a 13.1% margin of victory. In 2004, Bush lost Delaware to John Kerry by a 7.6% margin of victory.

Two days after her primary upset, Rasmussen Reports published poll results showing O'Donnell trailing her Democratic opponent, Chris Coons, by 11%. In short, O'Donnell is beginning her Delaware senate race closer to victory than Bush was at the end of his Rove-guided 2000 presidential campaign in Delaware. If O'Donnell narrows the gap or scores a win, she will have outperformed Rove in Delaware.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Baby Got Book

Makes me so holy.

Get down wit yo good book.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Glenn Beck: Amazing Grace, Amazing Chutzpah

Radio and TV show host Glenn Beck organized a rally held yesterday near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., the same site where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech 47 years earlier to the day. The stated purpose of the rally, which Beck promised would remain apolitical, was "restoring honor" to the United States.

The size of the crowd, estimated at upwards of 300,000, indicated a hunger for the Judeo-Christian values on which American was founded. A succession of speakers, including ministers and other evangelical leaders, invoked God and His authority. The rally included prayers and concluded with a rendition of Amazing Grace. Had there been an altar call, the Christian revival would have been complete.

Beck, advising the attendees to "trust divine providence," described how he challenged God when the rally funding fell short and received $600,000 within two days. You can view the video here. Beck attributed this windfall and other rally-related blessings to God. To understand Beck's God-centered agenda, we need to understand what Beck means by God.

Glenn Beck is an avowed Mormon and here is a video of his conversion testimony.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is named after Jesus, but the church does not believe in the Biblical doctrine of Jesus and salvation by grace, which are the foundation of Christianity. Many Christians consider the Mormon church a cult.

This was not the first time Beck led a gathering dominated by Christians in singing Amazing Grace, a sinner's grateful ode to the gift of salvation by God's grace that, to repeat, is rejected by Beck's Mormon faith. That takes amazing chutzpah.

Phil Johnson of Grace Community Church explains how Mormonism differs from Christianity here and as follows:

1. The issue of authority. Christians believe the Bible is God's authoritative, inerrant, unchanging and complete self-revelation (Jude 3). Scripture is the touchstone to which all other truth-claims must be brought (Isaiah 8:20). The sole and sufficient authority by which all controversies in spiritual matters are to be determined is none other than God's Spirit speaking through Scripture. By contrast, Mormons consider The Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants as additional authoritative revelation, thereby undermining the true authority of Scripture and violating the principle of Revelation 22:18.

2. The doctrine of God. Christians believe there is one God who eternally exists in three co-equal Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Mormons reject the doctrine of the Trinity, believing that there are many worlds controlled by different gods.

3. The supremacy of Christ. Christians believe Jesus Christ is pre-existent God who became a man in His incarnation while maintaining His full deity. Mormons claim Jesus was a "spirit child" of Mary and Elohim (and the brother of Lucifer) who has now been elevated to the level of deity.

4. The means of justification. Christians believe justification is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Mormons believe a person's works in this life will determine his or her status in the life to come, and that "salvation" is actually a progression toward godhood.

The reason Christians evangelize is that we are called by God to spread His word so all mankind can accept the gift of salvation, which cannot be earned. Salvation by grace is given freely by God out of love and not as a reward. Christians believe that good works and good values are the fruit of faith, not the path to salvation.

The reason that Mormons evangelize is to perform good works to earn their "salvation" and, of course, to convert non-Mormons to Mormons. Mormons believe that good works are necessary to earn their eternal reward.

The LDS church has devoted its vast resources for decades to blur the differences between their unusual beliefs outlined above, which are rejected by the mainstream, and the widely accepted principles of Christianity outlined in the Bible. Recently they launched a media campaign to brand Mormons as regular people "just like you."

You may have been approached by a Mormon on a good works mission at your home or in public. These Mormons are always well-behaved, wholesome and clean-cut in appearance, ready to help Grandma cross the street or carry your groceries to your front door for you. They seem to embody good, old-fashioned family values. Who can possibly object to that?

Christians can and must object to Mormonism, no matter how unobjectionable Mormons may be personally. Without exception, Mormons can worship as they please and partake of the blessings of democracy without discrimination. However, to market their religion for mass consumption, they are forced to deceive the unknowing by claiming that there is more that unites Christians and Mormons than divides us. I have heard a variation of that claim from every Mormon I've ever met. If we as Christians believe that salvation is freely given by the blood of Jesus alone, we must believe that every person who is confused by a Mormon is jeopardizing their salvation.

Glenn Beck's rally was a national call to perform good works that, according to his rally speeches, will restore honor, faith, hope and charity to America. What role does the Mormon agenda play in Beck's pivot from the political to the spiritual?

According to the Deseret News, a Utah newspaper owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Beck wants to achieve unity. To what purpose? In July 2010, Beck told the Deseret News:

"I'm trying to get the message out that there's more that unites us than divides us," Beck said. "And what unites us is the content of our character."

That sounds eerily familiar.

The wonderful Christian blog Defending Contending published an article by Brannon Howse that explains why it is so dangerous for Christians to give the Mormon church credibility, even in the political arena. Howse, who during the campaign against Beck's advertisers started a website to support him politically, expressed my concerns in the closing paragraph:

Yes, I would like to see the progressives defeated and the original intent of America’s Founding Fathers restored, but that certainly will not happen if the true Bride of Christ compromises on Biblical truth. This is no time to be committed to pragmatism because the end does not justify the means. The means simply declares our priorities and Whom we really serve.

You can read reactions and analysis by other Christians at the blog links below.

Caffeinated Thoughts defined what Beck as a Mormon means when he uses the phrase "divine destiny" here. Standing for God examined who Beck thinks Jesus is.

All of Grace analyzed an August 2010 episode of Beck's show in which he shared his Mormon faith. Apprising Ministries and Herescope criticized evangelical leaders for giving Beck theological cover.

In a series of episodes of his Wretched TV show, host Todd Friel summarized the Christian perspective about Mormonism as it pertains to Glenn Beck.

Not Your Typical Negro suggested that Beck is a Mormon proxy for Mitt Romney to make their common faith politically acceptable.

The Way of the Master, a TV program featuring Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort, presented the origins and teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the videos below.

Dr. John MacArthur of Grace Community Church preached the blunt Biblical truth about Mormonism in this sermon jam.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jenny Sanford and Me: Christian Women Confronting Adultery

I don't know Jenny Sanford, the ex-wife of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, but I admire her public statements regarding her husband's betrayal and their divorce. She has been criticized by so-called feminists for considering a reconciliation with her husband of 20 years, with whom she raised four sons. Now the online edition of Harper's Bazaar has published Sanford's explanation for trying to salvage and then ultimately terminate her marriage.

I sympathize with and strongly relate to Jenny Sanford. During the same approximate time frame, both of our husbands, purportedly devout Christians, committed adultery and exhibited bizarre, seemingly uncharacteristic behavior as they sabotaged our respective marriages and refused to take steps to repair them. My secular friends could not fathom why I let my husband stay in our home after months of his lies and begging me to stop chemotherapy to die for his convenience. In a marriage in which God was a partner and the Bible the user’s manual, I was not the highest authority.

Matthew 18:15-17 is considered to be the Lord's guide to conflict resolution among believers. A husband and wife are also brother and sister in Christ. As paraphrased by Warren E. Berkley, the four steps to conflict resolution when a brother or sister in Christ has fallen from grace are as follows:

Step #1: Go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.

Step #2: If he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that, "by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established."

Step #3: If he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church.

Step #4: If this effort fails, “let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”

Jenny Sanford declared that she is not a victim. In fact, she modeled Christian values that her husband abandoned to temptation. If you want to understand the Christian commitment to God, family and marriage, please read her essay at Harper's online. Don't look to Mark Sanford, who used his wife and family as political props in a series of strange press conferences to confess not his sin but his alleged love for another woman. Instead, look closely at Jenny Sanford, whose private pain was put on public display and she chose to glorify God with her compassion, mercy and grace. In doing so, she reaffirmed her love for God, for her husband and for her family.

Slow Fade by Casting Crowns is a cautionary tale about the price of adultery.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dennis Miller on Red Eye Tonight!

Only a week ago I made a wish and today it is coming true. Is it because it's my birthday? Heh. I don't have that much influence even at work, much less in the universe.

Tonight Dennis Miller will finally appear on my favorite secular TV show, Red Eye, for the entire hour. You can catch Red Eye on Fox News Channel at 3:00 am Eastern Time, 12:00 midnight Pacific.

Red Eye is nominally a news program and predominantly a comedy show that stretches the limits of what Fox considers news and will tolerate under the guise of humor. More accurately, Red Eye is a frat house where the smart boys you ignored in high school get their revenge. There is even a "legs chair" where the stunningly attractive female guest du jour perches in a short dress that shows off her gams. I wonder just exactly how that stipulation is tendered, but it must not be too offensive because the chair is always filled as billed.

Host Greg Gutfeld, a long-time political writer and blogger, opens the show and the second half with introductions of the guest panel that are filled with raunchy double entendres, sometimes written by viewers. Bill Schulz is Gutfeld's sidekick and comic whipping boy. Frequent guest Mike Baker is the cool, witty and handsome former CIA operative the Red Eye boys wish they could be. Baker even has his own recurring segment, Meet Your Baker.

For me, the show's MVP is TV's Andy Levy, ostensibly the ombudsman who fact checks the panel and reports corrections at the half-time point and conclusion of the show. According to Greg, he met Levy through the clever comments he left at the Huffington Post when Gutfeld's column was published there.

Here are some recent guest introduction videos rated PG-13 and an Andy Levy highlights reel for your amusement. Enjoy the clips and then check out Dennis Miller on Red Eye tonight.

April 27, 2010 Red Eye intros

May 6, 2010 Red Eye intros

Some highlights from TV's Andy Levy

Happy Birthday to Me!

Before my father first held and beheld me, my Father created and knew me. In a sense, I was not born 54 years ago today, but born again.

Earthly birthdays even among Christians are often filled with worldly treasures given out of love or obligation. I like to spoil those I love, but I am extremely uncomfortable receiving lavish presents and attention. The loyal and loving people who light up my life are gifts aplenty.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003, I asked God if I could please live to age 50 to see my son become a man. No one in my life will be celebrating my survival today more than my son and he plans to spoil me rotten. So we will feast tonight on seafood and scrumptious dessert. I will cry with happiness and gratitude for the extra time spent with my dearly beloved.

I was born and am born again in Christ. Today is as good a day as any to rejoice.

Here is the video of Born Again by the Newsboys with new lead vocalist Michael Tait.

newsboys "Born Again" *Official Music Video* from newsboys on Vimeo.

Here is a bonus video of Between You and Me featuring Michael Tait from his DC Talk glory days.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Life Is Beautiful and Eternal

Someday I hope to meet Job in heaven. Job was a faithful servant and yet God allowed Satan to test him in extraordinary ways. He lost his possessions and his children were killed, but Job said, "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

I am a sinful wretch. I have lost many things this world values. Because of my Lord and my Savior, my life is beautiful beyond description and eternal beyond measure.

Francesca Battistelli wrote and performed a song that describes some of the love and gratitude I feel. Please enjoy the video of Beautiful Beautiful below.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It's Miller Time: Dennis on the August 17, 2010 O'Reilly Factor

Dennis Miller's regular appearances on the O'Reilly Factor are the funniest TV segments outside of the best bits on Fox News Channel's Red Eye.

Here is Dennis with O'Reilly today waxing satirical about recent headlines.

A whole host of Fox regulars, including Bill Kristol and Mike Huckabee, have risked their reputations to guest on the deliberately outrageous Red Eye. Dennis Miller, where art thou? If like me you can imagine the comedy magic such an appearance would conjure, check out Miller's interview with Gutfeld and Red Eye regular Steven Crowder captured on audio early this year.


Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Dennis Miller Solves the Border Problem

On today's Miller Time segment of the O'Reilly Factor, Dennis was in rare form. By rare, I mean ready to take names and put them on headstones.

Beginning at the 4:20 mark, Dennis presents his second of two solutions to the Mexican border problem. Dennis proposes that we move the obstacle course from the TV show Wipeout and place it all along the border so illegal immigrants cannot cross without completing the humiliating and nigh impossible challenge. It's so crazy it just might work!

My summary doesn't do Dennis justice, so do yourself a favor and watch the whole thing.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Bobby Hebb: R. I. P.

After God and my loved ones, music has been my most enduring source of pleasure, emotional satisfaction and occasional profundity. Singer Bobby Hebb, who passed away today from lung cancer at age 72, indirectly provided a monumental life lesson that I will never forget. As a performer, Hebb was famous for his self-penned 1966 chart topper, Sunny.

One day in 1966 when I was 9 or 10, we were shopping at the White Front, my mother’s favorite discount department store, near Disneyland. I was a badly spoiled child and Mom would always buy me anything my wicked, willful heart desired. That day I started to panic as we approached the checkstand because I hadn’t found anything I wanted and I certainly was not leaving the store until I did. Looking around in desperation, I grabbed the only item on display that I recognized or even remotely related to – the Bobby Hebb vinyl LP featuring Sunny.

On the strength of Sunny, Hebb toured that year with the Beatles, whose music was much more pleasing to the unsophisticated palate of a prepubescent child. I doubt that I listened to my Bobby Hebb album since 1966. Nevertheless, his record has survived six residential moves in 44 years and is currently stored in my garage. I kept Sunny as a tangible reminder of what a selfish, miserable brat I could be – and as a catalyst for change. The constant cycle of overindulgence and guilt filled me with self-loathing from a very young age and I was always making resolutions to be a better person. After my grandmother, who started the competition with my mother to see who could spoil me the worst, died when I was 14, Mom seemed as tired of our dysfunctional dynamic as I was. It took most of my teenage years before I fully liberated myself from the unhealthy patterns of childhood and then I shifted to the opposite extreme of compulsive unselfishness. When my beloved son Chris was born, I finally discovered the right balance of necessary selfishness and service to others.

Sunny is a fine jazz-tinged record with a catchy beat and Hebb’s smoothly soulful vocal. The song has been covered by a diverse array of artists such as Cher, James Brown, Mary Wells, Jose Feliciano, Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Mathis, Del Shannon, Marvin Gaye, Dusty Springfield, Wilson Pickett, the Four Seasons, the Four Tops, the Electric Flag, Jamiroquai, Nick Cave, and actors Robert Mitchum and Leonard Nimoy.

Hebb later co-wrote A Natural Man, a 1971 hit for my mother's favorite singer, Lou Rawls, with the late comic actor Sandy Baron and continued to compose music into his final years. Coincidentally, Baron appeared on a comedy album my subversive Uncle Willie, a professional musician himself, gave me in 1965 or 1966 titled Sick Along With Us that became a childhood favorite. Fortysomething years later, I can still quote verbatim from some of the sketches like Sick Sound Waves and You'd Better Believe It.

“Are you a ditch digger?”

“No, I’m a brain surgeon.”

“Then why are you digging ditches?”

“Well, I’m not a very good brain surgeon.”

Here are the two songs for which Mr. Hebb is being remembered today. Enjoy his legacy.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Life Is Better Than I Deserve

One year ago in July 2009, I was battling breast cancer that metastasized to the liver and many months into a chemotherapy regimen whose effectiveness inflicted severe anemia. For no discernible organic reason as my transfusions had stopped working, God granted me a sudden supply of energy that keeps me functional to this day. I would need that energy plus His blessings of peace, love, joy and strength as the life I knew and counted on to carry me across the threshold into heaven was unexpectedly torn asunder. As I have documented elsewhere, my husband of nine years was leading a double life and became a cruel, wicked stranger.

I am not a victim. I am a redeemed Christian. What I survived this past year is not my grievance against any man. It is my testimony to God's faithful promises. On the extremely rare occasions that I look back, I still do not understand everything I endured. My faith was tested as never before, but God empowered me to show my husband His compassion, mercy and forgiveness. I did so because I love God and I loved my husband.

My husband did not show me any compassion or mercy because he does not love God and he does not love me. He wanted me to stop chemotherapy and die for his convenience. After he confessed his complete fall from grace to me, he tried to convince me and others that I was crazy so that no one would believe my account and to justify his shocking descent into unrepentant sinfulness. That is all I really remember now and it is enough. My pain healed as swiftly as my love for him died.

This past year I lost a beloved husband who deceived everyone but God, financial solvency and stability, my hair and eyelashes, my ability to taste the food that gave me so much pleasure, and the illusion that my cancer would likely be cured. It was my own personal Great Depression, but I was never depressed and life is greater than ever.

The lyrics of this song describe why I am so happy and smiley faced all the time.

Good Life - Audio Adrenaline

Sunday, July 18, 2010

It Was 22 Years Ago Today

The supervisor who hired me 22 years ago today did so, she said, because I exuded stick-to-it-iveness. I sure stuck to this job, proving her prescient, although truthfully I was a single mother just looking for a steady paycheck. I’m definitely not a quitter and enjoy solving problems.

One of my favorite quotes is attributed to Thomas Edison: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” In my case, opportunity has looked a lot like a library. I have worked in libraries – academic, public, and corporate – for all but two years of my career. I am naturally drawn to books, organized systems, and service. My job entails multiple duties in addition to operating a library and, although frequently overwhelming and crazy-making, I enjoy every last minute of it.

I am thankful to God for a job that enabled me to raise my son by myself, for remaining employed in this embattled economy and during this personally challenging year, and for feeling well enough to keep working throughout my 7-year cancer odyssey. Here are a few of my favorite work-related videos. Enjoy!

Welcome to the Working Week – Elvis Costello

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Morning Glory, Evening Grace: A Decade of The Hugh Hewitt Radio Show

Ten years ago this week, the Hugh Hewitt show was launched over the greater Los Angeles airwaves and I was in the audience. Although it was immediately apparent that Hewitt is an accomplished and exceedingly smart man, it was not as clear on July 10, 2000 that I was listening to what would become the second most important talk radio show of the modern era and arguably the most influential platform for new media in its formative years of the new millennium.

In July 2000, the call sign for 870 AM was KIEV, a lesser light in the southern California market made notorious by local firebrand George Putnam. The addition of Hewitt was a critical first step toward building a stable of talent worthy to challenge KFI, the LA home of Rush Limbaugh, and KABC, which carries the Sean Hannity show. Within six months, KIEV would be rebranded as KRLA 870AM, formerly the call letters of a seminal, beloved rock station in the 1960s and 1970s.

Both of his aforementioned competitors, Limbaugh and Hannity, honor Hewitt's contributions to political discourse. Limbaugh has cited Hewitt's work on several occasions and Hannity invites him to appear on his TV show frequently. Like Hannity, the Hewitt radio show follows the familiar format featuring more interaction with guests than with callers. What distinguishes Hugh's show is the caliber of the guests and the conversation. Hewitt honed his interview skills as an attorney, law professor and TV co-host on the weeknightly Life & Times, a public affairs series on the Los Angeles PBS channel. His style is tenacious and erudite but never disrespectful or condescending.

As William F. Buckley did with his groundbreaking National Review magazine and Firing Line TV show, Hugh Hewitt has been a generous advocate of the new media of his day, sharing his microphone with writers and thinkers who populate the blogosphere's center-right, his preferred terminology to describe conservatism's place in the political spectrum. Many bloggers who once toiled in pajama-clad obscurity are dressing a lot more nattily after regular promotion on the Hugh Hewitt show.

Professor Hewitt was kind enough to read one of my silly posts aloud on his radio show during the 2004 presidential campaign, which earned my eternal gratitude if not my blind allegiance. I disagreed strongly with Hugh when he aspired to be a kingmaker for Mitt Romney in 2007-2008 and stubbornly defended President Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers far beyond the call of party loyalty. But here I am, ten years later, still keeping my boom box close when Limbaugh and Hewitt come on during my workday.

Last week Glenn Beck was added to the KRLA schedule in the morning time slot formerly reserved for Mike Gallagher, who now begins his delayed broadcast during what was Hugh's third afternoon hour. Hour three of the Hewitt show airs locally at 11:00pm,  far too late even by SoCal standards to attract many listeners. Granted, that third hour of the Hewitt show is a replay of the first hour whenever Hugh has a public or TV appearance or other outside commitment, but I think this is piss poor programming that may well backfire when listeners like me switch stations at the conclusion of Hewitt's second hour. Gallagher, who may be a fine fellow, cannot hold my interest and strikes me as a Limbaugh wannabe instead of a thought-provoking original like Hugh.

Since Beck's arrival began to be heralded ad nauseam on KRLA, Hugh seems more passionate and engaged in his radio show than ever. I hope this change was consensual and redounds to Hugh's benefit. In my opinion, two consecutive hours of Hugh Hewitt are more illuminating than three hours of any other radio talker except Rush Limbaugh.

Congratulations to Hugh Hewitt and his esteemed producer, Generalissimo Duane Patterson, as they embark on another decade of broadcast excellence!

Philadelphia Freedom

My son Chris is on vacation this week, visiting a female friend while exploring historic Philadelphia and the tri-state area. Todd Rundgren, one of my all-time favorite musicians and a son of Philadelphia, wrote, performed and produced a song that humorously describes Chris's mission. This is the more interesting of the two homemade videos available and I presume this version is a tribute to mankind's devotion to pet dogs.

We Gotta Get You a Woman by Todd Rundgren

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Whatever Happened to John Waite?

The Babys was a British power pop band initially marketed to Bay City Rollers fans at a time when punk and new wave were revolutionizing the music industry. Their 1977 single Isn't It Time? charted on the U.S. top 40. Although the quartet led by singer John Waite looked the part of Bowie era rockers, the catchy song was a throwback to the Motown and Stax sound of the 1960s.

In the 1980s, the telegenic Mr. Waite embarked on a successful international career boosted by ample exposure of his videos on MTV. Although Missing You, a soundalike of Every Breath You Take by the Police, was a monster hit, I count Change as one of my all time favorites. Patty Smyth provided the backing vocal.

John Waite scored another 1980s hit with the power ballad, When I See You Smile, as the vocalist for Bad English. According to Wikipedia, Waite lives in my neighboring city, Newport Beach, and continues to perform and record.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Today my father would have been 95 years old and I was so blessed to be his daughter. He died before Field of Dreams was released, but this poignant scene in his home state of Iowa reminds me of what I lost and what I would give to have him back, however briefly.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Soundalikes: Cheap Trick vs. the Stone Temple Pilots

Here are two of my favorite power pop soundalikes. Enjoy!

On the Radio by Cheap Trick (1978)

Big Bang Baby by the Stone Temple Pilots (1996)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Rhythm Method

Last week Allahpundit posted the video below at Hot Air, helping it to go viral across the vast internets. Keep your eyes on the Mad Drummer, Steve Moore.

A lively discussion about rock drummers ensued. I was the first to nominate Stewart Copeland of the late, lamented Police as the greatest of all. Neil Peart of Rush seemed to be the top choice among the thread's commenters. It is no coincidence that two power trios, Rush and the Police, succeeded on the strength of their distinguished drummers.

Here Copeland explained to Jools Holland the unique reggae downbeat he popularized with the Police.

In Driven to Tears, one of my favorite Police performances, Copeland demonstrates the rhythm method that spawned a generation of devoted fans.

Sweet Child o' Mine

God blessed me with a mother who was dedicated to her family, erudite, strong, independent, and gifted. As much as I adored and respected her, my life really began with the birth of my son, Chris, nearly 27 years ago.

I was never comfortable being the overindulged youngest child spoiled by three generations of family. I knew my life was off kilter and out of balance from an extraordinarily early age. The only time I ever experienced true euphoria was after giving birth to Chris. I never expected or needed him to change my life. He just did.

I left my first husband when Chris was 6 months old and I realized he would never be the father Chris deserved. We moved in with my parents and I worked part-time until Chris entered Kindergarten. We had little money and few possessions, but those preschool years were the most idyllic of my life. I would put Chris in his stroller and we walked to every park and place of interest within a 3-mile radius. He was always bright, inquisitive and quick to learn. He started talking early and often, spouting charming jibberish before he could walk. I would promise to give him a dollar if he could remain silent for just one minute and I never had to pay up. He is still the noisiest person I know!

My dad, who was bed-ridden with multiple myeloma, read to Chris daily from age 6 months and taught him to imitate animal sounds. Before his first birthday, Chris was overheard entertaining a small crowd in a busy mall with his precocious vocabulary and animal imitations one summer day, which led to an offer from an agency specializing in child actors and models. I never seriously entertained the notion as I had seen too many crying babies on TV soap operas to want my son to be paid for his misery. Some well-meaning relatives encouraged me to mold him into an overachiever and one of them gave him a wooden puzzle map of the United States for his second birthday. Not long afterward, my father and I were watching a televised game featuring the San Francisco 49ers. Hearing the quarterback’s name, Chris ran out of the room and returned immediately with the map piece for Montana. That day I decided he would attend Harvard, whatever the cost – not! I always appreciated his intelligence and never talked down to Chris. But I wanted him to be the best version of himself, not a flattering reflection of me, with the right core values, good character and the capacity to fulfill his purpose in life.

I was completely consumed and redeemed by motherhood. With Chris at its center, my universe was finally in balance and perspective. I’m not saying that being the object of such intense feelings was always the healthiest environment for a child, but Chris has never had a moment’s doubt that he was loved and accepted just as he is. I was a single parent for most of his childhood. The experience forced me to develop the self-sufficiency, strength and assertiveness of my German foremothers.

Eventually I fell deeply in love with a man who didn’t want to share me with my son. The inevitable breakup hurt and confused Chris, so I vowed to keep my social life separate from my son thereafter. I spent most of my dates wishing I were home with Chris instead. Eventually I gave up on men and romance. Naturally, that’s when I met the man who became my second husband. By that time, Chris was 16 and had not seen his father for five years.

Through no fault of his own, Chris never bonded with his father, who had poor relationship skills and progressively debilitating personal problems. His dad lost everything, including his ability to function as a rational adult, by the time Chris was 11. He was 16 the next and last time he saw him again when his father was hospitalized for a heart attack.

My sister was my childbirth coach and present at Chris's birth. Chris nicknamed her Auntie Cloud when he was 2 years old because she was big and fluffy. He was always extremely close to her, to my mother whom we all called Grammy after her first grandchild was born, my handicapped brother who lives with us now, and my sister's sons. When Chris was six, they moved to a neighboring county and we usually visited them at least once a month. Despite our special mother-son closeness, my sister and her family exerted a lifelong influence that still manifests in his favorite hobbies and interests. His appreciation for technology was formed at my sister's first computer circa 1990 and his cousins' video games. He played an electronic version of Family Feud and created unique team names, including the imaginary Arbyockaseegadays family.

Chris enjoyed staying with Grammy and Auntie whenever I worked during his school holidays and recesses. They took him on special day trips and sometimes lengthier vacations. He loved my mother and sister dearly and was sentimental about even the minute details of family life. When the inevitable moment came to drive home, Chris would become very sad and emotional. As I would buckle him up in his seat belt, he always turned to me and said with his voice all aquiver, "Do you miss Grammy already?"

Understandably, Chris was a little wary when I began dating Luis after we had been a self-contained duo as far back as he could remember. But they bonded on a Thanksgiving trip to visit relatives a month after our wedding. My sister and brother were living in Florida and the large family that I married into was a huge bonus for Chris. I thought my new husband was the best male role model I could find apart from my father, who died before Chris turned three. Regrettably, my husband did not want to share me with Chris or anyone else, either. He insisted on always coming first and catering to his childish demands was a lot of work. He tried to control my space and my time to make me completely dependent on him. We spent six of our nine years of marriage dealing with my breast cancer, which took a toll on all of us. Chris sensed the dark changes in his stepfather before I did.

Chris and I have been through a lot together, never more so than in the past year-and-a-half. My breast cancer metastasized to my liver and my chemotherapy regimen caused chronic anemia, rendering me weak and helpless too much of the time. My husband chose that particular moment to abandon God, me and my family. The collapse of our marriage spanned four tortuous months that shattered Chris’s comfortable life as a college student with a part-time job.

My husband took the last of our money and stole my credit, leaving us stuck with a house payment we couldn’t afford and no way to get out from under it. My brother collects Social Security, which falls far short of covering his living expenses. After using all my sick days and vacation leave, I was getting docked for every visit to my doc, reducing my salary by hundreds of dollars per month. After maxing out the only credit card I own, we spent several months living on the verge of homelessness. Yet I never lost the assurance that God would provide everything we needed. He always has and He always will.

Over the past decade, I concentrated most of my energies and hopes on a man who was not at all the person he wanted everyone to think he was. For example, he presented a loving faรงade to Chris while mocking him openly behind his back. Meanwhile, my son was becoming the man I always prayed he would be. My husband certainly deserves credit for teaching Chris to be more responsible and considerate, until he unlearned his own lessons. Understandably, Chris cannot help but focus on the fact that his stepfather begged me to die for his convenience with absolutely no consideration for what Chris wanted or needed. At the end, he also manipulated Chris to make him react in anger so he could justify leaving because he was not man enough to take responsibility for his own actions.

In short order after my marriage imploded, Chris began looking for a full-time job and committed to take over the care of his bruncle, the word I coined to describe his brotherly relationship with his handicapped uncle, in the event of my death. In April I had a PICC line inserted for my chemotherapy treatments and Chris flushes the line for me daily.

Chris searched for a job combining his two passions: technology and Japanese language. The hunt was frustrating and prolonged but still an illuminating experience – one that inspired newfound virtues including patience and perseverance. Chris competed against dozens and sometimes hundreds of other applicants for every job, many of them overqualified professionals forced to lower their salary expectations. Finally, in April Chris was one of six finalists out of 300 candidates for a job he felt confident about getting. They never called him back and for the first time he felt discouraged. Of course, that is when he finally obtained his dream job utilizing his Japanese and technology skills for a company that is thriving and expanding internationally. Working full-time would have been an adjustment under the most favorable circumstances. God steered Chris to a position that requires – and pays – 55 to 65 hours per week over six days – and he loves it! He claims it is actually less stressful than his old part-time job.

I always believed in my son’s potential. He is extremely smart, an original wit and creative thinker. He is truly the funniest person I have ever known. I have lived long enough to see that he possesses an admirable work ethic and an unselfish heart. The challenges, setbacks and loss we shared over the past year were all the opportunity Chris needed to blossom – and did he ever!