separation of church and state

Separation of church and state … a simple concept, right? The government will not support one religion over any other. And yet, as Larry tells us, down in Florida (and other places as well) they are attempting to do just that, by trying to pass legislation that would make the study of the Christian bible mandatory in schools. What about Jews? Muslims? Atheists? Hindus? This nation is only about 70% Christian, so … why should they dominate? Please take a few minutes to read Larry’s excellent post. Thank you, Larry, for permission to share your work!

QUEST

Living as a Democrat in rural, Republican Florida challenges one’s sense of inclusiveness and social propriety.  A recent controversy in local politics regarding funding our library’s request to make the New York Times available online to library cardholders is a case in point. My friend at BY HOOK OR BY BOOK has shared a great post regarding this issue.  It is indicative of a population which refuses to leave the 1950s.

On Florida’s horizon is a bill filed by a State Senator which would require courses be made available in our public schools at taxpayers’ expense providing studies of the Bible.  The following is the letter which I have submitted to our local newspaper.

State Senator Dennis Baxley, a Republican representing the Ocala region, has filed SB 746 to be considered during the 2020 legislative session. The bill would require courses providing studies of the Bible’s Old and New Testaments…

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Beautifully Strange Poem …

It seems to me that these days some people are mighty quick to judge others.  They judge us by the colour of our skin, by whether we attend the same church as them, by where our ancestors hail from, by our level of education or the field in which we work, they judge us by our sexual orientation — who we choose to love — and by our political affiliation.  All this judging … and for what?  I am no better than you, nor you than me.  It is our actions, the way we treat others, that determine who we are, not the colour of our skin or our political party!  This has weighed heavily on my mind of late, for I, too, am judged and seemingly found to be lacking by many.  And last night, as I was preparing for bed, leaving one last quick message for a beloved friend on Facebook, something caught my eye.  You may remember back in March, when I posted a lovely poem by Laura Ding-Edwards, titled The Mountain.  This is another by her that I think speaks volumes.  Titled Beautifully Strange Poem, it is “A poem about living with mental illness, the importance of being kind and the beauty of our uniqueness.”

Laura-Ding-Edwards

Good People Doing Good Things — Too Many To Count

Hooray for Wednesdays!  It is such a breath of fresh air to shine a light on people who care about others, who are giving of themselves, even in the smallest of ways, to somehow make life better for somebody.


California is on fire …

You’ve all seen on television or the internet the terrible devastation caused by this year’s wildfires in California.  The fires extend from the northern to the southern border, and some 9.000 firefighters are working day and night to contain the fires.  Typically, when disaster strikes, good people jump into action, and today I would like to share with you a few people who are helping.  First of all, though, I want to give a shout out to those 9,000 firefighters.  They are working in horrid conditions, with very little sleep, risking their own lives to help save lives, property, forests … these guys are HEROES! TOPSHOT-US-WILDFIRES-CALIFORNIA-WILDFIRE

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I had never heard the name John Cena until last night (yeah, I’m sure you are all rolling your eyes … I’ve told you, I am a pop culture throwback!), but it’s a name I’m not likely to forget anytime soon.  Turns out Mr. Cena is a former wrestler-turned-actor, who has a new movie coming out day after tomorrow in which he plays … a firefighter!   Mr. Cena put out a very touching video on Twitter, announcing that he is donating $500,000 to the California first responders.  But, he didn’t stop there … he called on Paramount Pictures to match his donation, which they did.

Other celebrities who have donated to the cause include Chris Pratt, LeBron James, and others. You all know how I generally feel about celebrities, millionaires and such, but when they open their hearts and wallets to those in need, I give credit where credit is due.

Last year, I wrote a post about heroic efforts large and small during the California wildfires of 2018 (I do hope this won’t become an annual feature!), and one part of that post featured celebrity chef José Andrés and his wonderful organization World Central Kitchen.  Just as they did last year, they are back out there this year feeding the firefighters.WCK-1Joining Chef Andrés were celebrity chefs Tyler Florence, Guy Fieri as well as many other chefs and volunteers.  You can see some of the pictures on the World Central Kitchen website.  Hats off to this very worthy organization and those who give of their own time and money to help feed those firefighters who are putting their lives on the line 24/7!


Two hearts …

Jonathan Pinkard collapsed at work one day a few months ago and was rushed to Piedmont Newnan Hospital in Coweta County, Georgia.  At 27 years of age, it was determined that Jonathan needed a heart transplant.  The problem wasn’t, as so often is the case, finding a heart, but rather Mr. Pinkard was deemed ineligible because he had no family to be his support system, to help him through the recovery process.  Without the transplant, Mr. Pinkard would die.

Enter ICU nurse Lori Wood …

“I think at some point God places people and situations in your life and you have a choice to do something about it. For me with this situation there was no choice. I had a room, I was a nurse, I could take care of him. So it really wasn’t anything that I struggled about it was just something that had to happen. He had to come home with me.”

Pinkard-Wood

Jonathan Pinkard and Nurse Lori Wood

So, Lori officially adopted Jonathan Pinkard, which got him onto the transplant list, and he received a new heart in August.  Ms. Wood is helping him transition to living independently once again, and Mr. Pinkard plans to return to work next month! Jonathan Pinkard may have a new heart, but Lori Wood has a huge heart, don’t you think?


A very little good people …

This story first came to my attention via our friend Keith, and then I found it on the ‘net.  It’s a little thing, but I thought it worthy to be included here.

The kid’s name is Jackson Champagne, and he is 8 years old.  On Hallowe’en night, Jackson was out trick-or-treating when he came to a house with a candy bowl set outside, as some people do.  But alas!  The bowl was empty!  Not so much as am M&M remained!

“All gone. There ain’t no more candy.”

Jackson turned as if to leave empty-handed, but as he noticed other witches, ghosts and goblins coming up the walkway, he stopped, dug around in his own bag, and put some of his own candy in the bowl for the little guys coming behind him!

Now if that doesn’t just melt your heart.  Happens that the homeowner, Leslie Hodges, saw the whole thing on their home security video later on that evening.  Hodges said just what I always say on these Wednesday posts …

“He renewed the faith that there are still some good people out there.”

Quite so.


Remember, folks … there are lots of good people out there doing good things … you don’t even have to look far.  In fact, I’m betting that if you go down the hall in your house right now and look in the mirror, you will see a ‘good people’.

New Poll spells trouble for Dems

I was pondering on a similar post, when Jeff’s post popped up in my inbox. He has said it better than I could have. This is not the news you want to hear, but it is the news you NEED to hear, for next year’s election is not, as some believe, a sure thing. Thank you, Jeff, for this analysis … though it may not be what we hope to hear, it is certainly information that we should be thinking about.

On The Fence Voters

Trump still competitive in battleground states

There’s roughly a year to go before we decide who will become President of the United States on January 20, 2021. Recent polls telling us who’s up and who’s down rarely cause a rise to my blood pressure.

Until the one that just came out, that is.

The New York Times/Sienna College poll, released yesterday, should be a wake-up call to all of us who think that Donald Trump is a disaster for America. The idea that he could win again, even with all we know about his presidency, is beyond frightening. However, when you look at the results of the poll, the warning signs are flashing loudly.

But many may ask, “What’s the big deal? All the top tier Democrats are leading Trump overall nationally, some by nearly ten percentage points.” That’s true. Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders all lead Trump…

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Selling Guns In Schools???

The NRA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that raises and donates money to outdoors groups and others such as ROTC programs, 4-H and Boy Scouts. In 2010, the NRA Foundation distributed $21.2 million in grants for gun-related training and education programs: $12.6 million to the NRA itself, and the rest to community programs for hunters, competitive shooters, gun collectors, and law enforcement, and to women and youth groups.

Friends of NRA is a program that raises money for the NRA Foundation. Since its inception in 1992, Friends of NRA has held over 17,600 events, reached over 3.2 million attendees and raised over $600 million for The NRA Foundation.

You already know how I feel about the National Rifle Association (NRA), for I have made my thoughts known frequently on this blog.  But, until this morning, I was unaware of both the NRA Foundation and the Friends of NRA.  They came onto my radar via an article in The Washington Post about Friends of NRA holding gun auctions in schools!  That’s right, folks … in schools.  A few excerpts from the Post article …

Parents and students trickled into the Muhlenberg County High School gym on a hot Saturday night as the sounds of cheers and a referee’s whistle carried from an athletic field nearby. Inside the “Home of the Mustangs,” Friends of NRA was raffling off guns: semiautomatic rifles and handguns, guns with high-capacity magazines and pump-action shotguns.NRA-3In the past two years, the NRA Foundation’s fundraising program had displayed actual guns along the wooden bleachers in the gym. This time organizers showed only pictures, bowing to objections from parents who pointed to a shooting at another western Kentucky high school last year that left two students dead and more than a dozen wounded.

“It’s obscene that they have had guns inside our gym,” said Shannon Myers, whose 16-year-old son attends band practice next to the gym where the event was held in September.

That money is the leading source of cash for the NRA Foundation, a charity that supports the shooting sports. The events combine the efforts of what organizers say are 13,000 volunteers with the NRA’s multimillion-dollar marketing machine. They are family-focused by design, helping to cultivate the next generation of gun owners and NRA members.

Helping to cultivate the next generation of gun owners.  Think about that one.  According to the Friends of NRA Facebook page …

“Every year the NRA fights for our Second Amendment rights. But what is being done to ensure the firearm traditions we love today don’t become a thing of the past? The answer . . . Friends of NRA.”

Yesterday, in my Snarky Snippets piece, I made note of a few shootings in the past week, including one 7-year-old child who was shot by a 15-year-old child.  In response to that segment, one UK friend commented that “You guys have got a serious problem with firearms.”  That may just be the understatement of the year … we have more than a serious problem if we are auctioning guns in schools, and “cultivating the next generation of gun owners”.

The following video, put out by the Friends of NRA, will give you an idea of just how serious a problem we have in this country …

The auction held at Muhlenberg County High School in Kentucky that was referenced by the Post was held in September, and was attended by more than two dozen children, some of them toddlers sitting on their parents’ laps.  Hundreds of schools around the country host these events.  One of the organizers of the Muhlenberg auction was annoyed by activists who find it inappropriate, to say the least, to bring guns into schools, and said …

“If you pick up one of these guns and shoot someone with it, it’s not the gun’s fault, is it? You pulled the trigger. Everybody wants to blame the ARs. Anyone can cause just as much problems with a knife.”

NRA-1In the U.S., it is illegal to purchase cocaine, heroin, or other such drugs.  Why?  Because they are dangerous and can ultimately cost the life of the person who takes them.  Yet, not only are guns not illegal, but they can be purchased by almost anybody in a Wal-Mart, at a gun show, or even at an auction in your local high school gymnasium.  And, while an overdose of heroin will kill a person, that AR-15 that was auctioned off at the high school event could potentially kill dozens.

The NRA Foundation is considered a ‘charity’; therefore they pay no taxes on the money they take in.  They spend that money to provide guns to people and to defend ‘gun rights’ around the nation.  We have, as of 2018, approximately 553,000 homeless people in the U.S., and 18.5 million people in this nation are considered to be living in deep poverty.  It is my not-so-humble opinion that the NRA, it’s various outlets, and the people who support it have their priorities seriously skewed.

As I mentioned in my Snippets post, there have already been more than 32,000 gun deaths in the U.S. this year … in just over 10 months. There are more firearms in circulation in the U.S. than there are people.  We have, I think, more than a ‘serious problem’ … we have the makings of a catastrophe.

A Man Of Conscience

Sean Doolittle is a pitcher for the Washington Nationals, the baseball team that won the World Series on Wednesday after beating the Houston Astros in game #7.  As is tradition, the winning team has been invited to a ceremony at the White House slated for tomorrow afternoon.  Sean Doolittle will not attend.  I’ll let him tell you the reason in his own words.

Sean-Doolittle“There’s a lot of things, policies that I disagree with, but at the end of the day, it has more to do with the divisive rhetoric and the enabling of conspiracy theories and widening the divide in this country. My wife and I stand for inclusion and acceptance, and we’ve done work with refugees, people that come from, you know, the ‘shithole countries’. At the end of the day, as much as I wanted to be there with my teammates and share that experience with my teammates, I can’t do it. I just can’t do it.

I have a brother-in-law who has autism, and [Trump] is a guy that mocked a disabled reporter. How would I explain that to him, that I hung out with somebody who mocked the way that he talked or the way that he moves his hands? I can’t get past that stuff.

People say you should go because it’s about respecting the office of the president. And I think over the course of his time in office he’s done a lot of things that maybe don’t respect the office.  The rhetoric, time and time again, has enabled those kind of behaviors [racism & white supremacy]. That never really went away, but it feels like now people with those beliefs, they maybe feel a little bit more empowered. They feel like they have a path, maybe. I don’t want to hang out with somebody who talks like that.

I don’t want to get mad online, as they say. I want people to know that I put thought into this, and at the end of the day, I just can’t go.”

Some will no doubt criticize Sean’s decision, but in my book, he is a man of conscience who has the courage to stand for what he believes.  Let me tell you a bit about Mr. Sean Doolittle and his wife Eireann Dolan …Sean-Eireanne-DoolittleIn 2015, the Oakland Athletics announced they would host their first-ever Pride Night, to honor LGBT fans. Dolan, who has two moms, wanted to be supportive of the team’s efforts to welcome LGBT fans to the Oakland Coliseum.  Some season ticket holders had negative reactions to the announced Pride Night, and said they planned to not attend the game; Dolan put out a call on her blog and Twitter feed that she would purchase any tickets at face value and donate them to local LGBT charities.  She and Sean purchased 900 tickets they donated to LGBT youth groups.

In November of that same year, disturbed by widely growing anti-refugee sentiments, they organized a Thanksgiving meal for Syrian refugees in Chicago, one at which the mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, and his aldermen served as greeters and waiters.

The couple co-authored an article in Sports Illustrated about the need to fund mental health resources for discharged veterans. They took 10 briefings on the subject, from groups including the Rand Institute, Brookings Institution and the Human Rights Watch. This wasn’t the first time the couple has supported veterans’ issues: they also created a registry to furnish two Northern California houses through Operation Finally Home, an organization that provides housing to wounded veterans and their families.

They are avid supporters of the BlackLivesMatter movement, and advocate for stricter gun laws.  These are two people who have a social conscience, who care about people, who are doing something to make things better.  As Sean says …

“I think people can see the amount of work Eireann and I put into it, the amount of time we spend making sure we do it responsibly, that we’re not just being opportunistic — that we’re doing it in a way that other people have a chance to get involved so we’re not just, like, yelling into the void and retweeting things … I’m not just an athlete doing something for likes on social media.”

So, Sean will not attend the celebration with his teammates tomorrow afternoon on the White House lawn.  Donald Trump will attend, he will preen for the cameras, he will toot his horn, pat himself on the back, and he will take the spotlight away from the team.  If you ask me which is the better person, which is the better man, I think you know what my answer will be.  My hat is off to Mr. Sean Doolittle.

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Mind-Boggling Snarky Snippets

It seems the material for snarky snippets just never ends … it’s like a parade of mind-boggling idiocy these days.  I suppose I should be grateful … I never have to look very far for a topic!


Sheriff Joe’s in the news again!

You all remember the most bigoted, corrupt sheriff of the 21st century, former Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa Country, Arizona, right?  A blatant racist, he had a history of abusing prisoners, and when the courts told him “you can’t do that”, he went right on doing it anyway.  So, eventually he was convicted on ‘Contempt of Court’ charges, but was pardoned almost immediately by his soulmate, the equally corrupt, equally bigoted Donald Trump. Arpaio-TrumpNow, in my book, despite his pardon, he is still a convicted felon, and some news outlets such as Rolling Stone, Huffington Post, and CNN felt the same, for they continued to refer to Arpaio as a ‘convicted felon’.  Arpaio, rather like somebody else we know of who cannot stand to be criticized or mocked, took umbrage and filed a lawsuit against the three … a lawsuit seeking compensatory damages of $300 million!  Sheesh … he sued claiming defamation, but frankly ain’t nobody’s character worth that kind of money!  And, as I said, he was convicted of a felony.  The pardon kept him from paying a fine and going to jail, but it didn’t, in my book, erase his guilt.

Well, fortunately, a federal judge had some good sense and tossed the case out, saying that Arpaio and his lawyer had failed to prove actual malice.  Score one for justice.  But wait … there’s more!

Arpaio-2In 2016, Arpaio lost his bid for re-election to Paul Penzone by a 13% margin.  Arpaio, by the way, is now 87 years old.  But, guess what?  Arpaio is planning to run again for Sheriff of Maricopa Country in 2020!  I cannot imagine that he stands a snowball’s chance, but the mere fact that he plans to run after having been exposed as a cruel, unjust racist, boggles the mind.  This, folks, is the mind of a megalomaniac, similar to the one sitting in the Oval Office.  Hopefully the people of Maricopa Country laugh him all the way out of the state!


The wall …

We all remember Trump’s utterly ridiculous promise to his base to “build a big, beautiful wall” along the entire U.S.-Mexican border, and his further promise that “Mexico is going to pay for it”.  Well, the battle has been ongoing for the nearly three years Trump has been in office, because the wall he wants is a) cost prohibitive, and b) useless.  Well, by siphoning funds away from other, more worthy humanitarian projects, Trump has succeeded in building some 76 miles of his damnable wall.  That’s 76 miles of the 1,954-mile-long border, and it has thus far come at a cost of over $10 billion!  That much money spent on something so inane that the only people who want it are bigots who wish to keep out people with skin darker than their own.  Anyway …

The relatively short, expensive section of wall seems to not be quite as secure as Trump claimed it would be.  Yesterday, it was reported that gangs of smugglers have breached the wall by sawing through sections with commonly available and relatively inexpensive hand tools!  Now, I realize that having gangs of smugglers sneaking into the country is no laughing matter, but admittedly I had a great chuckle over this.  Trump has pulled out all stops to get his wall built before next year’s election, for it seems to be the one promise he made that really matters to his base.  So, he’s spending money that he has no right to spend and threatening to break the law by telling his people that he will pardon them of any potential wrongdoing should they have to break laws to get the barriers built quickly, and all for a structure that you or I could saw a human-size hole in!  The wall that Trump claimed was “virtually impenetrable”, that border crossers cannot get over, under or through.  I think We the People should get together and file a class action lawsuit against him for misusing our hard-earned tax dollars on such foolishness!


How many more?

gun-pointingOn Hallowe’en night, five people were shot dead at a party in Orinda, California, east of San Francisco.  Also on Hallowe’en night, a seven-year-old girl who was out trick-or-treating in a bumblebee costume was shot in the neck by a fifteen-year-old boy and critically injured.  Last Sunday, October 27th, two people were shot and killed at an off-campus homecoming party near Greenville, Texas.

In an October 30th interview with Tucker Carlson, Detroit Police Chief James Craig spoke about the importance of owning and carrying a firearm for self-defense. He stressed that “being an armed citizen is about staying alive”.

If Chief Craig is right, if this nation has regressed to the point that our only hope for staying alive is to join the enemy and carry around a loaded weapon, then all I can say is this is not a nation we can be proud to live in, but rather is a nation that thrives on violence, that worships killing.guns-4It is a damn shame that the people we elect to office, the people whose salaries we pay, are more committed to selling their votes to the gun lobby than they are to making this a safer nation.  Yes, I’m speaking to you, Mitch McConnell, and to you Donald Trump, and to every other member of Congress who has taken money from the National Rifle Association in exchange for refusing to vote for a ban on assault weapons, or enhanced background checks, or a gun registry.  Damn each and every one of you.  The eight deaths listed above are on your shoulders, along with other 32,858 so far this year.gun-deaths-nov-3-2019


Okay … I’ve snarked enough for one night.  Have a wonderful Sunday!

Saturday Surprise — B

Good morning, and welcome to the Weekend! You guys have big plans for the weekend?  We’re having a joint birthday party with our neighbors Maha & Ali and kids this evening, so I’ll be in the kitchen most of this day.  Daughter Chris’ birthday was last Saturday, and Maha’s was on Sunday, but we were all busy doing other things last weekend, so we’re celebrating together this weekend.  I was going to put a number of candles on the cake equal to their combined ages, but as Natasha pointed out, it would be a fire hazard, and anyway, can you imagine how long it would take me to light 93 candles???  Anyway … I had to go to Kroger for a few things yesterday … November 1st and let me tell you … Kroger did not waste a single second switching from Hallowe’en to Christmas!  Christmas nuts, Christmas candy, Christmas lunch cakes, napkins, paper plates, baking stuff … ay ay ay!!!  Could we please have a little break in between holidays … and anyway, what happened to Thanksgiving???


I had heard the term “Social media influencer” a few times recently, but paid no attention and gave it no further thought.  Until last night, that is, when while searching for something to enchant you this Saturday morning, I came across a very special little ‘influencer’, and thought I should at least figure out what was meant by the term.  Now sure, I know that an influencer would be somebody or something that has influence over another person or people, but these days, social media has a language all its own, so I did a bit of digging.

“An influencer is an individual who has the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his/her audience. An individual who has a following in a particular niche, which they actively engage with.”

Okay, not much different than I would have thought, and it sounds like not much more than Marketing 101.  But, today’s Surprise is a very special influencer and her marketing efforts are for a very good cause – to raise money to save the bees.  Bees are the most important living thing on Earth, due to 70% of the world’s agriculture depending on them.  Frighteningly, bees are now an endangered species, with recent studies showing a dramatic decline in the insects’ numbers; almost 90% of the bee population has disappeared in the past few years.

Enter Fondation de France, an independent administrative agency established by the government for the purpose of saving the bees.  They have set up a charity, Bee Fund, and an Instagram account for the subject of today’s Surprise, an adorable little CGI (computer-generated imagery) bee called, appropriately, B.  B has more than 122,000 followers today, and B aims to save the world by generating ad revenue via social media and then donating everything to the Bee Fund charity.  Let’s take a look at a few of B’s pictures … I think you’ll enjoy her.  Please do take just a minute to visit Bee Fund’s site … I found a lot of information about the declining bee population there, as well as the things being done to try to save the bees … it’s well worth the visit.

B-1

“Yo guys! So, name a thing you love.
Chocolate? I make it.
Ice-cream? I make it. 
Coffee? Always me.
Broccoli? Me again.
Clothes? Still me. 
We are behind most of the things you use everyday! And 24% of bees are dying every year.This is bad for us, but terrible for you as well dear humans… Are you ready for a world without chocolate?”

B-2

“I love to read and reply to your comments on my posts from my bathtube! Ask me questions in the comments: I will answer to EVERYONE! (As long as water stays warm)”

B-3

“Je vois la vie en rose. Maybe I should think about painting my hive in pink.”

B-4

“I might not be in a museum, but I’m Mother Nature’s masterpiece.”

B-5

“It is essential to save the planet… And the bees too! Both are threatened and trust me, it would be terrible to live without bees. Thanks a lot for demonstrating today, it was really nice to see you all and let’s keep up the fight!”

B-6

“Afternoon at the Sacré-Coeur! Where should I go for my next painting?”

B-7

“I spend so much time in my bathroom every morning… Ladies what is your morning routine?”

B-9

“I am so happy to work on my next partnerships and I can’t wait to share it with you!”

B-10

“On my way to the Montmartre’s 2019 grape harvest festival! Did you know that without bees there would be no wine? We pollinate plants and flowers that are essential for vineyards’ health.”

B-12

“Watering my little plants! Tips for humans: always keep flowers on your balconies, we might stop by to say hi.”

B-14

“What a better place than your bed when it is rainy outside. Even though it’s very important for nature, I’m not very much into rain because it frizzes my hair!”

B-18

“Great game with my friends today! (Haha just kidding I went there just to take pictures for my Instagram.)”

B-20

“Heading into the weekend like..”

B-22

“I’m not like Pablo, but I try to do my best…”

B-23

“Trying to get a little tan before going back to work.”

B-24

“Are you ready for the Pride, Paris?? I can’t wait to march with you.”

B-25

“Check out that side bee…”

B-26

“If you love to eat, you have to celebrate World Food Day! My sisters and I are behind most of the food you eat everyday. Are you wondering which ones?”

B-28

“Finally back home and working late today but it’s worth it.”

B-30

“Today I visited @FondationdeFrance, together we are working on my upcoming partnerships. From this flower of their balcony, I feel more than motivated and thanks to you all, we will save the bees.”

♫ You’re The Voice ♫

Most often, my music posts are apolitical, just music for the sake of music, with no underlying meaning.  Every now and then, though, I break out of that mold.  Every now and then, either I feel a real need to make a statement through my music post, or a song crosses my radar that grabs me in something of an AHA!!! moment.  Tonight’s song is a result of both.  It first came onto my radar two nights ago in a comment on one of my posts by our friend Roger (determineddespitewp).  I listened, and as I did, I was moved … no, there was no earthquake … it was the cats playing ‘neath my chair.  But seriously, I think this song carries a message that those of us in both the U.S. and the UK need to hear today.

The lyrics of this song encourage the listener to see the sheer power he/she possess within to make his/her voice heard and speak against the ills of society and/or government.  So many today think that our voices don’t count … we call or write our elected representatives, and in return we get a canned response, and it seems as if nothing changes.

Chris Thompson, who was the lead singer in Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, wrote the music for this song with Andy Qunta and Maggie Ryder. When he needed words, he called on Keith Reid, who is best known as the lyricist for Procol Harum.  According to Reid …

“Chris called me and said, ‘I’ve got something and I don’t know what to do with it lyrically. It feels as though it should be slightly political, but I don’t know. Have a listen.’ And we sat down, he played me the tune, and I got the title idea, ‘You’re The Voice.’ It’s an anti-war song in a way, but it was more of a ‘make your voice heard’ kind of thing. Wake up to your own power.”

“Johnny Farnham,” was a teen idol in his native Australia and took over as lead singer of The Little River Band from 1982-1985. You’re The Voice was his first solo release as “John Farnham,” and it propelled him to stardom, at least in Australia where he became one of their most popular performers. The song was #1 in Australia and many European countries, #6 in the UK, but flopped in the United States, reaching only #82.

One of the highlights of You’re the Voice is its iconic bagpipe solo. That solo is widely considered as the greatest bagpipe solos of all time.  The ultimate message of the song is to encourage the ordinary man to make his voice heard on important social issues. It encourages confidence and courage in the ordinary man to take a stand and support the right thing. You might see yourself as an ordinary person. However, you really have nestling deep within you remarkable power to change this world. That power is asleep. Just wake it up. This basically is the long and short of You’re the Voice.

You’re the Voice
John Farnham

You’re The Voice
We have the chance, to turn the pages over
We can write what we want to write
We gotta make ends meet, before we get much older
We’re all someone’s daughter
We’re all someone’s son
How long can we look at each other
Down the barrel of a gun?

You’re the voice, try and understand it
Make a noise and make it clear
Oh-wo-wo-wo, oh-wo-wo-wo
We’re not gonna sit in silence
We’re not gonna live with fear
Oh-wo-wo-wo, oh-wo-wo-wo

This time, we know we call can stand together
With the power to be powerful
Believing, we can make it better
We’re all someone’s daughter
We’re all someone’s son
How long can we look at each other
Down the barrel of a gun?

Songwriters: Keith Reid / Andy Qunta / Maggie Ryder / Christopher Thompson
You’re the Voice lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, BMG Rights Management

Ghosts, Goblins & Witches ‘Round the Globe … Redux

This was my Hallowe’en post back in 2016 … little did I know then just how scary things were about to get!  I’ve added a few pictures since the original version, and I hope you’ll enjoy seeing some traditions from other countries and cultures!   

 

halloween-3Here in the U.S., our Hallowe’en traditions hail back to Ireland, which is widely considered to be where Hallowe’en originated.  The Irish celebrate much as we do here, with children dressing up to go trick-or-treating for candy, parties with games such as bobbing for apples, bonfires, etc.  A traditional food eaten on Hallowe’en is barnbrack, a kind of fruitcake that can be bought in stores or baked at home. A muslin-wrapped treat is baked inside the cake that, it is said, can foretell the eater’s future. If a ring is found, it means that the person will soon be wed; a piece of straw means that a prosperous year is on its way.halloween-2

So, let us take a look at what they do in some other countries around the globe:


Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead):

dia-1In Mexico, Latin America and Spain, All Souls’ Day, which takes place on November 2, is commemorated with a three-day celebration that begins on the evening of October 31. The celebration is designed to honor the dead who, it is believed, return to their earthly homes on Hallowe’en. Many families construct an altar to the dead in their homes to honor deceased relatives and decorate it with candy, flowers, photographs, samples of the deceased’s favorite foods and drinks, and fresh water. Often, a wash basin and towel are left out so that the spirit can wash before indulging in the feast.

dia-2Día de los Muertos festivities often feature breads, candies and other foods in the shape of skulls and skeletons. Candles and incense are burned to help the deceased find their way home. Relatives also tidy the gravesites of their departed family members. This can include snipping weeds, making repairs, and painting. The grave is then decorated with flowers, wreaths, or paper streamers. On November 2, relatives gather at the gravesite to picnic and reminisce. Some gatherings even include tequila and a mariachi band.mariachi


Guy Fawkes Day

guy-1On the evening of November 5, bonfires are lit throughout England. Effigies are burned and fireworks are set off. Although it falls around the same time and has some similar traditions, this celebration has little to do with Hallowe’en or the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The English, for the most part, stopped celebrating Hallowe’en as Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation began to spread. As followers of the new religion did not believe in saints, they had no reason to celebrate the eve of All Saints’ Day. However, a new autumn ritual did emerge. Guy Fawkes Day festivities were designed to commemorate the execution of a notorious English traitor, Guy Fawkes.

guy-2On November 5, 1606, Fawkes was executed after being convicted of attempting to blow up England’s parliament building. Fawkes was a member of a Catholic group who wanted to remove the Protestant King James from power. The original Guy Fawkes Day was celebrated right after his execution. The first bonfires, which were called “bone fires,” were set up to burn effigies and symbolic “bones” of the Catholic pope. It was not until two centuries later that effigies of the pope were replaced with those of Guy Fawkes. In addition to making effigies to be burned in the fires, children in some parts of England also walk the streets carrying an effigy or “guy” and ask for “a penny for the guy,” although they keep the money for themselves. This is as close to the American practice of “trick-or-treating” as can be found in England today. Guy Fawkes Day was even celebrated by the pilgrims at the first settlement at Plymouth. However, as the young nation began to develop its own history, Guy Fawkes was celebrated less frequently and eventually died out.


Teng Chieh

teng-1In China, the Hallowe’en festival is known as Teng Chieh. Food and water are placed in front of photographs of family members who have departed while bonfires and lanterns are lit in order to light the paths of the spirits as they travel the earth on Halloween night. Worshipers in Buddhist temples fashion “boats of the law” from paper, some of which are very large, which are then burned in the evening hours. The purpose of this custom is twofold: as a remembrance of the dead and in order to free the spirits of the “pretas” in order that they might ascend to heaven. “Pretas” are the spirits of those who died as a result of an accident or drowning and whose bodies were consequently never buried. The presence of “pretas” among the living is thought by the Chinese to be dangerous. Under the guidance of Buddhist temples, societies are formed to carry out ceremonies for the “pretas,” which includes the lighting of lanterns. Monks are invited to recite sacred verses and offerings of fruit are presented.


Yue Lan

yueThe Halloween celebration in Hong Kong is known as “Yue Lan” (Festival of the Hungry Ghosts) and is a time when it is believed that spirits roam the world for twenty-four hours. Some people burn pictures of fruit or money at this time, believing these images would reach the spirit world and bring comfort to the ghosts. Fires are lit and food and gifts are offered to placate potentially angry ghosts who might be looking for revenge.


austriaAustria: Austria has a Pumpkin Festival in Retzer Land called Kürbisfest im Retzer Land. On November 11, Austria celebrates Martini which includes costumes and a lantern procession. Some people in Austria believe that if they leave bread, water, and a lighted lamp out, dead souls will be welcomed back to earth for that night.


Belgium: In Belgium some villages celebrate Hallowe’en while other villages focus on celebrating All Saints’ Day. On Hallowe’en night, a Belgian may be found lighting a candle in memory of a dead relative.

germany


Germany: Hallowe’en auf Deutsch became popular in the 1990s. People start to decorate around mid-October and use Hallowe’en as a party theme. On November 11, Germans celebrate Matinstag which includes costumes and a lantern procession.

sweden


Sweden: In Sweden, Hallowe’en is known as “Alla Helgons Dag” and is celebrated from October 31 until November 6. As with many other holidays, “Alla Helgons Dag” has an eve which is either celebrated or becomes a shortened working day. The Friday prior to All Saint’s Day is a short day for universities while school-age children are given a day of vacation.


HalloweenWell, that is all I could come up with for today.  I will likely do another Hallowe’en post sometime between now and Hallowe’en.  Those readers who live outside the U.S., please feel free to share traditions and celebrations in your country by leaving a comment.  Thanks to all for giving me this opportunity to take a brief break from you-know-who!  I can breathe again!  Have a safe and fun Hallowe’en!

Maxine-halloween