A Gift For Every Man

Still shopping? If that hard to shop for person on your list is a guy, a dad or granddad, maybe I can help. Please do not say at any point during the reading of this post, "but, he doesn't read; and there's no way he would write in a journal."

Buy him a good book and a journal. Because...

“I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.”
Robert Louis Stevenson, Essays of Robert Louis Stevenson

I firmly believe every man will read something, or at least look at the pictures. Here's one that will be a sure-fire winner. It's a wonderful story about a father, a son and a baseball bat. It's only 70 pages long. It's called "A Drive Into The Gap". Click here to check it out, watch a short video about the book and even order it.

While you're at the Fieldnotes site, peruse their selection of journals and order your guy a pack.

If your home library doesn't already have a copy of Huckleberry Finn and To Kill A Mockingbird, get them before they're banned in our new version of America. Don't worry that he might think these are books for kids. Because...

“No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.”   ― C.S. Lewis

Next, bundle up your gift of book and journal and put them under the tree. If when he opens his gift this Christmastime, he looks at it like he hasn't seen a book since seventh grade. Tell him that you read a blog where some wise-old man said that reading will enhance mental capacity, youthfulness, and virility.

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines
what you will be when you can’t help it.”
   ― Oscar Wilde

If he needs some help with what to do with his new journal, send him to this post at The Art of Manliness. He won't be able to resist visiting a site called "the art of manliness".




My Thanksgiving Table Pledge

I would be lying if I said I didn’t suffer an occasional case of schadenfreude. Maybe it’s just human nature. Maybe that isn’t a good excuse. Maybe I need to grow up. Maybe at 60-something, that’s unlikely. I’ve probably done all the growing up I’m going to do. Maybe, in fact, my state of maturity could be in regression.

Still, every time the wind catches that crazy comb-over, so beloved by our P-elect-OTUS, I can’t help but enjoy it. Now there’s a discussion topic for the Thanksgiving Table: Bad Hairdos of Famous People. Speaking of orange, let’s include HFC@OSU Mike Gundy. Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy for the success of his Cowboys, but seriously does he not have a friend anywhere who can explain that mullets fall deeply in the category along with comb-overs as Most Riculous Hair Styles Ever? I know, I know, I’m BALD. But at least I can blame my do on genetics.

Back to the subject of appropriate table conversation—I was at a department store the other day buying a new shirt that might not show the gravy and cranberry stains that will undoubtedly be on it post-meal. I overheard a couple of salespersons:

SP1: I’m hosting our family for Thanksgiving. I plan to meet everyone at the door with a big glass of wine for each person.

SP2: Why?

SP1: We’ve got Trump Lovers and Trump Haters and I’m going to try to mellow them all out before the topic turns to politics.

SP2: I hear ya.

Hear Ye. Hear Ye. I have a proclamation to make. I do hereby, proclaim and promise that I will not talk politics at the Thanksgiving table.

You go first Louisa and get thine turkey started.

You go first Louisa and get thine turkey started.

I realize how problematic that is given that the Day itself is fraught with political stuff. So, I’ll adjust my pledge to not talk about politics after 1863, the year President Abraham Lincoln, at the height of the Civil War, established the Day in a proclamation entreating all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.”

Now that’s a proclamation I can get behind.

Also, off the table, so to speak, for me at the holiday table, is the topic of ailments, afflictions, infirmities, syndromesand other medical maladies.

Let me quickly add a clause to my official proclamation: my pledge doesn’t have to be your pledge. Of courseeveryone is free to talk about whatever they choose. Just don’t count on me to enter in to a discussion of American politics after 1863 or what hurts, leaks or needs to be replaced, and if the government (taxpayers) are going to pay for it. If the talk turns to those topics however, I won’t be offended, and certainly will not walk away from the table. I am fully on board with the cause to Make America Stuffed Again.

In preparation for the event(s), and in the event I’m called on to liven the discussion, I’ve been considering topics that might make for good conversation. Some ideas so far:

What does “Mary Had A Little Lamb” have to do with Thanksgiving? Did Mary still love her little lamb once it grew to be a cranky adult with patchy, yellowy fleece?

What is schadenfreude? Harmless fun or a manifestation of deep bitterness, and if so, can giving thanks cure it?

Best Christmas movie (not counting Hallmark movies) and why. Who would win the award for best actor in a holiday movie? Best actress? Best quote from a holiday movie.

Food Fun. Tryptophan: friend or foe? Myth or fact? Jello: why did anyone ever decide to put carrot shavings in orange Jello. Did someone say, “Hey, they’re both orange. Let’s combine them.” I am trying so hard to not make a joke about our first orange POTUS.

Black Friday vs. Football: Where do you stand? Is this Thanksgiving the way the Pilgrims imagined it? Could it be that they are mutually beneficial to family harmony? She says: “Fine sit around all weekend and watch football. I’m going shopping! He says: “Fine, bail on the family and go shopping. I’ll sit around all weekend and watch football.” Everybody wins.

Like I said, this is a work in progress. Feel free to make suggestions.

Perhaps I’ll just sit quietly, look around the table at the people I love and that say they love me, be deeply thankful and wonder if maybe I’ve become “That Uncle”.

How Did This Elephant Get In Here?

The “elephant” in this “room” has grown so large it seems to be blocking out the light. It’s nearly impossible to even see around it, or to have a conversation about it; or anything else for that matter. It might be good to move on, if only we could find the door.

Back in the early 70s, I was campaigning for George McGovern and playing drums in little coffeehouses that were opening up across the land. Our band was riding the wave of the Jesus Freak movement, playing a new genre of music called “Christian Rock”—an oxymoron to most church-goers. We were funded by a group of benefactors interested in “reaching out” to the youth culture.

One of those was a man named John Frank. Mr Frank was a kind, generous soul, a potter and successful business man. He was a ceramics professor at Oklahoma University and founded an earthenware business called Frankoma Pottery.

Our band was playing at a gig where Mr. Frank was speaking. After the event, he came up to me as I was packing up the drum set, and told me thanks for what we were doing. I was surprised that he had listened, saw the opportunity, and was financially supporting what we were doing. We talked for a while and then he offered me a job.

I took it and began working in his fascinating business. Each day after class at the University of Tulsa, I would drive to the Frankoma plant in my VW with the “McGovern” sticker on the back. If Mr. Frank resented my politics, he never said so. He could have. He was a staunch Republican. In 1968, he designed and produced a ceramic GOP elephant mug to help raise funds for the Republican Party. Every year he did a special edition elephant mug.

After he died, his daughter Joniece Frank took over the operation and introduced a DEM Donkey mug in 1975.

Not long after that, the enterprise failed. (No doubt some will say, “Of course it did!")

But this isn’t just a story about the donkey. It’s about this big huge metaphorical elephant in the room. There, I’ve acknowledged it. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do with elephants in rooms? Can I move on now? Or do we need volunteers to shovel up after it? Just kidding… where’s our collective sense of humor?



You know, with the Cubs winning their first world series in 108 years, hope sort of springs eternal, don’t you think?

Who knows, the sentiment of this victory story might work its way into pop culture, and maybe even back in to our American psyche because of their win, and even if it doesn’t, I might fall back on it from time to time.

Like maybe if I say: I’m hoping that after forty years now my hairline might un-recede. To which some cynic will say, “It’ll never happen.” And I’ll reply: That’s what they said about the Cubbies winning a World Series too, and a hundred and eight years later…

Or maybe I’ll long for Abraham Lincoln to come back from the dead and run for president. Or maybe Diana Krall will call and tell me she’s in town for a concert and her drummer is sick and she needs a stand-in. Or maybe the Surgeon General and the New England Journal of Medicine will report that ice cream lowers cholesterol and increases stamina.

Ridiculous, you say? Tell that to the Cubs fans that have been earnestly waiting since 1908.

If I come off here sounding like the eternal, unrealistic optimist, don’t be fooled. When it comes to wishful thinking, I’m ambivalent at best.

Although I have been and will always be a Cardinals fan, I am so grateful for the storyline of the “lovable losers” from Wrigleyvile and their World Series victory after all these years. It was so nice to have something to smile about while living in the wasteland that politics is wreaking on us all these days.

Speaking of politics and hope, or the lack of it, I’ll at least be optimistic enough, maybe not Cubs fan optimistic, but enough to believe that as a somewhat hapless lot, we will survive our next POTUS and the cast of characters that will roam the capital building the next four years, and that maybe, just maybe, in my lifetime I will be fortunate enough to see a true statesman or stateswoman of humility, brilliance and vision rise up to serve.