Points of Ponderation…..Episode 8.13

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..

 

 

 

Let me be clear. No intelligent, sane person would advocate racism. It was wrong 200 years ago when slavery was in full force, it was wrong a half century ago when public establishments had separate restrooms for blacks & whites, and it is wrong in 2013. However, having said that, I must admit that I am troubled by the brutal precision & rapidity of the destruction of TV chef Paula Deen. It’s almost like witnessing a mafia hit right before our very eyes. It is quite possible that I have missed something because admittedly I have not pored over each & every story written or broadcast about the controversy. If that is the case please utilize the comments section to correct any assumptions I have made in error. My understanding is that Ms. Deen admitted in a deposition that she has, in the past, used “racially insensitive language”, i.e. the dreaded “N word”. I think what needs clarified that hasn’t been…atleast not to my satisfaction…is the timeline & frequency pauladeenof use. Did she used to use that type of language 30 or 40 years ago as a young person?? If so I hardly find it surprising given that Paula Deen was raised in the deep south in the 50’s & 60’s. Has it been a regular part of her vocabulary and frame of mind more recently?? If that is the case then the reaction becomes a bit more understandable. If it is the former then the swift destruction of her public persona and professional life is extremely disconcerting. I would hate to think that my life could be wrecked tomorrow because of the stupid things I may have said or done two or three decades ago. If it is the latter and Paula Deen really is a racist then how in the world has it been a secret for this long?? There are a lot of unknowns about all of this, but no one seems willing to take a deep breath, step back for a moment, and find out answers. In less than a week Paula Deen has been almost completely ruined. Maybe it is a well-deserved punishment…but maybe it isn’t. It is entirely possible that Paula Deen is yet another casualty of the merciless PC Police who selectively choose their targets while letting other, far more sinister offenders get away with anything & everything (“Reverends” Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton immediately spring to mind). I don’t know the right answer and we may never know. But even if we do eventually find out that this has all been overblown and exaggerated it’s too late for Paula Deen. Her career is over and she will eventually slip into obscurity like so many public figures that we chew up and spit out when we’ve grown bored with them. All I know is that Deen is being tossed off TV yet those twits at The View all still have jobs, which is wrong no matter how you slice it.

 

I am a proud bookworm with eclectic tastes and an open mind. When people I know & trust mention how good a book is or say that they think I’d really like a certain title or author I am inclined to give it a whirl. However, I also have to be true to myself. I have been in the bookstore at my local mall countless times in the past few months and every time I ponder checking out George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire series (on which HBO’s booksGame of Thrones is based), but I just can’t seem to convince myself to give it a go. I’m not sure why. I’ve never watched Game of Thrones and feel no inclination to start. Maybe I’ll change my mind in the future…probably after the masses have moved on to something new. I am a non-conformist like that. I have decided though to give author Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp series a try based on vociferous praise toward the books by my man Rush Limbaugh over the past several years. Sadly Flynn recently passed on so I am, as usual, late to the party. Along the lines of my aforementioned non-conformity I have also decided to sell my Amazon Kindle. I bought it a few years ago and have hardly ever used the thing. I’m old-fashioned and prefer to read an actual book. I did grab the Kindle and dust it off recently in an effort to give it one more try but I just don’t care for it.

 

I am confused about the Men’s Wearhouse guy. How does one get fired from a company they founded?? That george_zimmer.topseems odd.

 

I promised myself I would refrain from a long diatribe about recent rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court that have forever redefined marriage in our nation and Congress’s decision to essentially legalize illegal immigration. I have been quite proud of myself these past few days for not posting my opinions on Facebook and not engaging in any pointless debates with liberals. I have finally come to understand a couple of things. I realize that nothing positive comes out of such arguments. I gavelunderstand that the America I grew up in is dead & gone and can never come back. I know that I am firmly in the minority on many issues nowadays. But I also…at last…understand the words of Romans 12:2 which implore us “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God’ and the words of John 17:14-16 which says “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should jesusweptkeep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” I owe God an apology. It has taken me far too long to truly grasp the concept. The truth is that I have grown tired of the battle. I no longer wish to engage in a fight I can’t win. So I shall retreat further into my cocoon with my books, my sports, some good food, internet access, God, and of course Rocco. That doesn’t mean I won’t espouse an opinion now & then, but I no longer expect victory in the worldly sense of the word. Congratulations libs…the country is yours now. Do with it what you wish. Just leave me out of it.

 

It may seem unusual but The Lord is telling me to do this. I would like to ask anyone who may be reading this to please be in prayer for your humble Potentate of Profundity. Nothing is wrong and actually I don’t have anything significant to complain about. But it has become clear to me that too much of the time I am not the person God would have me to be. I stumble far too much and don’t live in the Christ-like fashion that I should. I don’t drink, do drugs, or steal, but I believe I stumble in the subtle, stealthy ways Satan is so good at drawing us into. I have spent far too much time wondering why so many others have things that I would like to have…aPraying_Hands wife, kids, a good job that I enjoy, etc…when the answer is quite clear. Luke 16:10-12 says that “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much, and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth who will commit to your trust the true riches?  And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?”. In other words, why should God trust me with the things that I wish for when I’ve not been the person He wants me to be?? We don’t have to earn God’s love, but perhaps we do have to earn His trust. I would really love to hear some thoughts & guidance on that idea. At any rate, I do truly desire a fresh start and an opportunity to be a better man today than I was yesterday and still better tomorrow than I have been today. I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I suppose I will still make mistakes in the future, but I’d welcome the chance to atleast make new mistakes and not repeat the same dumb errors that I have in the past. I am sure God would welcome a change of pace as well.

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodnight

The story of life is quicker than the blink of an eye, the story of love is hello, goodbye.   –              Jimi Hendrix

A buddy of mine used to do something kind of quirky. A group of us would be out & about at a local watering hole and at some point we’d realize that he had just disappeared. He wouldn’t say goodbye and never let anyone know when he was leaving. It was just his thing. I never asked him why.

My sister’s former mother-in-law has a similar habit. If you happen to be talking to her on the phone and the conversation concludes she just hangs up. She doesn’t say goodbye.

Seven years ago on a Saturday in April I went to work at the establishment where I’d been employed for six years. I knew I was sick that day, but what I didn’t know was that when I left I would never be returning. I never got a chance to say goodbye to several people who I’d spent many many hours with and to this day there are lots of them who I’ve never seen again.

Sometimes late at night I look at my Facebook and shed a tear or two. Why?? There are, by my count, five people on my friends list that are no longer with us.

There is Teresa B., who I knew from junior high & high school and also worked with for several years about a decade ago, and Matt G., a guy I worked with back in the mid-90’s. Teresa & I didn’t run in the same circles and she battled things that I can’t relate to, but deep down she was good people.

Matt G. was one of those people one only knows for a very brief moment in time but leaves an indelible impression. He was a class clown type and always made me laugh at work. Both Teresa & Matt were in their 30’s and it makes me sad that they didn’t get to stick around a lot longer.

Johnna H. was a young lady that grew up in my community. She’d come to church occasionally when she was a little girl, and for a couple of years back in the late 90’s she was a member of the youth group that I helped lead. She was merely in her 20’s when she passed, a victim of the same battle that so many young people wage unsuccessfully in this country nowadays.

Last January it was thru Facebook that I learned of the sudden passing of Marc C., who I’d listened to on the radio when I was a little boy when he was a DJ and then had the privilege to talk with occasionally when we worked at the same place about ten years ago. Marc was smart…the kind of guy who would have probably won a ton of cash on Jeopardy. He was also a very talented musician who played trumpet & guitar at various local places. After we both left for greener pastures I’d still bump into him sometimes. Marc was that guy…the type who seems to be everywhere and one never knew when he might pop up and unexpectedly but quite pleasantly improve the day with a brief yet insightful conversation about something marginally esoteric. The realization that I won’t ever have the privilege of learning something from him again leaves me feeling sort of blue and I wish I’d had the opportunity to spend more time with Marc over the years.

And finally there is my friend Wink, who was my minister’s wife and whom I had the pleasure of knowing for two decades. I have often spoke here at The Manofesto about my desire for a genuine Christian experience and my deep longing to be an authentic follower of Christ rather than someone who just attends church. In the course of those laments I may have mentioned that though it may be hard to explain I know what I am looking for because I have seen it. I have been blessed to have been given probably half dozen or so excellent examples of this authenticity, and Wink was one of those. Her loss has been especially difficult because I have seen the effect it has had on our church in general and her loved ones specifically.

At any rate, I still go to all of these Facebook pages occasionally. I don’t know exactly why, and I don’t really enjoy the way it makes me feel, but I still do it.

A few days ago I attended the board of directors meeting of our local literacy organization where we held an election of new officers. The gentleman who has been president for the past 4 years is stepping down, but I had assumed that he would still be serving on the board and attending all of our events. Not so. He said that after 15 years he is going to step away and get into some other pursuits. Obviously he isn’t dead, but it still kind of made me a bit sad knowing that he will no longer be involved & around.

Earlier this week…via the aforementioned Facebook…I learned of the passing of my college pal Emily. Were Emily & I close friends?? Not especially. I hadn’t seen or spoken to her in nearly two decades. But for a short season all those years ago she & I ran in the same circle and did a lot of…socializing…together. I think she may have even once been my date to a fraternity formal (the memories of that time in my life are understandably fuzzy). Emily was tough yet bubbly, street smart yet understatedly sensitive. She was married with a couple of children, had a job she liked as a teacher, and to my understanding was happy. And now she is gone before she even reached the age of 40.

Faithful citizens of the Manoverse will recall that I lost my own mother 13 years ago. I have written previously about how I wish I could have just one more conversation with her and tell her all the things I never took the opportunity to say when she was alive. I don’t remember the last thing I said to my Mom and to this day that fact haunts me more than I can coherently communicate.

In the 1946 classic It’s A Wonderful Life (my all-time favorite Christmas film and #4 on my Favorite Movies List) the angel Clarence Oddbody (AS2) tells George Bailey that “each person’s life touches so many other lives that when they aren’t around it leaves an awful hole”. In 1989’s Field of Dreams (#3 on the Favorite Movies List) Doc Graham laments that “we just don’t recognize the most significant moments of our lives while they’re happening.” I would like to take this opportunity to encourage each of you to try to recognize these moments and understand how people touch your lives and how you play a role in their lives. Take your time. Be generous with hugs & affection. Tell people “thank you”. Always have your camera. Say goodbye or don’t say it…whatever you prefer. Just understand that there is no guarantee that there’ll be a next time. Laugh. Enjoy. Appreciate. Be thankful. We only get one shot at this life.

Scattered Pictures, Misty Water-Colored Memories, & The Corners of My Mind

clutter2My Dad is a quietly awesome dude who rarely asks me for anything. He’s definitely more of a giver than a taker…something of which this world needs much more. At any rate, on the rare occasions when Dad does ask for a favor I feel compelled to oblige. And so it was this past weekend when he asked me for something that I was pretty sure I had…I just didn’t know where.

It is at this point that I must clarify my living situation. Citizens of the Manoverse know that I refer to my place as The Bachelor Palace, but in truth it is a modest one bedroom apartment. It is nothing fancy but it’s all I really need for now and has worked out well for over a decade. Anyway, one would think that I’d be able to find just about anything I needed to get my hands on in such a humble abode. That assumption would be wrong.

Unfortunately for my Dad I did not find the item he was seeking, but I did find a variety of other things:

 

A Shaquille O’Neal rookie card and two Michael Jordan baseball cards. Kids under the age of 18 might not know that retired NBA legend Jordan once played baseball for a year. He wasn’t that good and never made it to the big leagues so his cards are minor league Birmingham Barons cards. I was really excited and thought I might be able to retire after selling these cards…especially the Shaq rookie. But after checking EBay and seeing that they were going for less than $5 I need to revise that plan.

A handful of coupons from Bob Evans. Coupons can come in handy on occasion and I am not above using them. Unfortunately these particular coupons expired in 2010. My father suggested I still try to use them, but that’s not how I roll.

A floppy disk. I know what’s on the disk and it’s not something I feel compelled to share. I just think it’s funny that I still own a floppy disk.

Tickets to the Argosy Riverboat Casino in Indiana. This is where myself and my buddy Ryan took my bestie Greg for his bachelor party…11 years ago. It was lots of fun. We rented a limo and everything.

Two random chargers. I have no idea what they are supposed to charge.

My Dad’s will. Dad isn’t especially morose…just prepared. I also have the combination to his safe. And no…neither of these items were what he was seeking.

A completed word find book that kept me lots of company when I was locked up in a “skilled” nursing facility in 2006.

Two sets of darts in a very nice carrying case. I bought these in college…20 years ago. I have a dartboard in my apartment but can’t remember the last time I actually played.

A really nice pool stick that I’ve had since college.

Photos of a tent revival we had at church…during the Clinton Administration.

A rewriteable CD with a copy of Microsoft Office…2003.

Several instruction manuals for products that I no longer own.

A plethora of batteries…C, D, AAA…all the ones a person never really needs for anything.

My living will & medical power of attorney. Atleast I found something that might come in handy one day. Although I really hope it doesn’t.

A 2005 Daily Planner. Since I lead whatever the direct opposite is of an exciting life I used my planner as more of a diary, and a quick review of my entries strongly suggests that I deeply hated my job and more than a few of my co-workers back then.

Tickets to The Living Word Outdoor Drama. If you’ve never been to The Living Word I highly recommend it. It’s in Cambridge, OH and they present it every weekend throughout the summer. My tickets indicate that I attended in 2001.

 

So now my bedroom is cluttered with a bunch of stuff that I need to either throw away or put back in drawers to be clutter3rediscovered in another decade or two. Just imagine how much odd junk I’d have if I lived in a house.

 

Inside the Blogger’s Studio

jameslipton1Greetings Manoverse. I am James Lipton. Today it is my distinct pleasure to tip-toe outside the realm of acting & actors to speak with a man who has not conquered stage & screen but has…for the past four years…taken cyberspace by storm. He has created an intellectual cornucopia of faith, literature, pop culture, sports, and…in his words…”random thoughts, observations, and commentary on life”. In the past two decades I have had the immense delight of conversing with true giants in their field…DeNiro, Pacino, Eastwood, Costner, Coppola, Streisand, Hackman, Hanks, Minnelli, Midler, Spielberg, and Queen Latifah. And it has been my distinct privilege to spotlight young up-and-comers like the young man from Harry Potter, those kids from Glee, the gal whose career peaked with Jerry Maguire, and the well endowed red headed lass from Mad Men. But they all pale in comparison to a man so wise, so gifted, so inimitable in his linguistic prowess that he is not known by a simple, ordinary, pedestrian name but rather by a grandiose title that he alone richly deserves. Please give a warm welcome to the supreme leader of The Manoverse, the Godfather of Cyberspace…your humble Potentate of Profundity.

Thank you James. I truly do not deserve such an extravagant introduction. I’m a little embarrassed.

Let us begin at the beginning. Where were you were born??

I was born & bred in a little town called Mount Clare, West Virginia.

Delightful!How big is the mountain and when did you first climb it??

Well…there’s not actually a mountain…just a lot of hills.

What is spina bifida??

Simply put it is a hole in the spine. It means that my legs can’t receive the message from my brain allowing me to walk.

Share with us your first intimate experience with a woman.

Ummm…no.

You often reference a talking bird called The Owl in The Manofesto.

He’s not a bird. The Owl is a real person named James as well. We became friends in college. The Blue Owl is a nickname.

In 2009 you started The Manofesto as it is currently known. Where did the name come from??

I love puns and plays on words, so the name comes from the term manifesto except I utilize my own last name.

Brilliant!! Who is Rocco Tiberius Mano??

Rocco is my 5 year old pug.

Does Rocco enjoy The Manofesto??

I’d like to think that he would. But then again sometimes I think he gets mad when I am writing instead of playing with him.

You are one of only 8 people on Earth that actually liked the 1994 Christmas film Trapped in Paradise. Why??

I don’t know. I realize it’s not a good movie. Lovitz is annoying and Dana Carvey adopted a horrible New York accent for his role. But it is a Christmas movie and I love Christmas movies.

It’s 2am. Your house is on fire. You have exactly three minutes to save 5 things. Name them.

I get to save 5 things?? I’m not sure I have that many things worth rescuing. My dog Rocco would obviously be first on the list. Then I’d grab all my photos of my family. My laptop. I’d pack a box full of as many books as I could. Oh…and my phone.

You once owned an N’Sync CD. What kind of mental illness were you suffering from at the time??

Actually I might still have that CD.

Can you sing a few lines from Bye Bye Bye??

No.

Is it true that you have an irrational dislike of the number 3??

And its multiples. Yes.

That is indeed strange.

Yes…yes it is.

How did you get started in blogging??

Well…it was 2007. I was in the hospital with an ulcer on my tailbone and my friend Slack suggested I open a MySpace page. It had a blogging feature. I had always enjoyed writing and had an ample amount of free time. I did the MySpace thing for awhile but eventually my friend The Owl…

Who you say is a real person??

Yes. Yes he is. Anyway…

Do you have a scar on your buttocks??

Yes.

May I see it??

No.

Okay so you were saying…

Yes. So I was pondering taking the blog to the next step by leaving MySpace, which had been kind of usurped by Facebook, and putting it on its own domain, and The Owl…

Who is one of your fraternity brothers??

Yes.

Which fraternity??

Alpha Sigma Phi. Beta Delta Chapter at Marshall University in Huntington, WV.

I understand that you once drank an entire bottle of Jim Beam at a party??

Yes.

And you once went streaking down 4th Avenue in Huntington at 4am??

Oh my God. How do you know these things??

I know everything.

I guess you do!!

I wish we had more time.

Me too. This was…interesting.

We will wrap up the festivities with the famous questionnaire by the formidable Bernard Pivot.

What is your favorite word?

Plethora. Facetious. Poppycock. Superfluous. Tranquility.

What is your least favorite word?

Handicapable. Differently abled. Any kind of politically correct euphemism. Let’s just call it what it is. I am not easily offended.

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Laughter. Intelligence. A good book. Jesus Christ.

What turns you off?

Arrogance. Stupidity.

What sound or noise do you love?

The sounds of my puppy breathing, snoring, & sighing…as if he is content & happy.

What sound or noise do you hate?

Children crying or screaming.

What is your favorite curse word?

Assclown.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Writer. Commissioner of the NFL or MLB. Movie Critic.

What profession would you not like to do?

Anything related to the medical field. I’ve spent far too much time in hospitals and near doctors. I avoid it if I can.

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

“Well done good & faithful servant. Enter in.”