Omir the Storyteller

Stories. Music. Politics. Technology. Baseball. Friends. Family. Potrzebie.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Silent Debate


It seems there is nothing too outrageous or odd for television. One day, a producer for a cable TV network -- it doesn't really matter which one -- decided he was going to hold a debate. He contacted a young conservative and a young liberal, both prominent in their movements, who readily agreed to the debate. Not until they had signed the contract, however, did the producer reveal the terms of the debate: Neither of the debaters was to be allowed to say anything. They were to make their cases only through gestures and actions.

Even with the bizarre conditions, both debaters agreed to the debate. So, on the appointed day, they appeared in the studio, shook hands, the rules were announced, and the debate began.

The two young men stared each other down for a minute or so. Neither, of course, said a word.

Then the young liberal raised a single finger. Note to those of you who are thinking what I was thinking when I first heard this story: It was his index finger.

The young conservative regarded this for a moment, then raised two fingers in the shape of a V.

His opponent thought this over, then raised a clenched fist. At this, the young conservative immediately left the studio.

Later one of the network's junior reporters interviewed the young liberal. "Tell me what was going through your mind during the debate," he said.

"Well, I had to think for a second about what I could say in a silent debate," the young liberal said. "So, I held up a single finger. I was hoping my opponent would catch on to my meaning that there is only one course we can follow.

"He must have, because he flashed me the peace sign. So I held up my fingers, united in a fist, to show that we must all pursue peace together. He must have agreed that there was nothing more to be said, because he left the studio."

Later the reporter tracked down the young conservative and asked for his reaction.

"My reaction?" he fumed. "My reaction is 'Keep that guy away from me!' First he puts up a finger like he's saying, 'Don't mess with me.' So I put up two fingers to show him that if he tries anything I'm gonna get him back double. Well, he put up a fist like he was going to attack me, and I refuse to stay in the room with someone that violent!"

Thursday, July 14, 2005

A Quiet Evening At Home


Last night started out as more or less a typical night at Chez Omir. I was taking in the events of the day on the computer before I went to bed. My daughter was out in the living room watching cartoons with the Queen of the Universe. My wife had gone up to bed already (not typical, but she'd had a long day).

About 8:30 or so my daughter wandered into the computer room to check her mail on Mom's computer, and said she was getting ready to pack it in too.

"Don't go to bed yet," I told her. "I have something I wanted you to hear."

I'd been listening to Doctor Demento on the way home from work, and last week he had a couple of songs I thought my daughter would like. So I fired up xmms, hunted up last Saturday's broadcast, and played a Steve Goodie song for her called "Rowling Must Deliver," sung to the tune of "Proud Mary" ("rolling on the river"). She likes Harry Potter and though Creedence Clearwater was a few years before her time, she recognized the song and got a laugh out of it.

I skipped the next song (a Rolling Stones parody about George Lucas that was OK but not all that) and went on to the song after that, a parody of Bowling For Soup's "1985" about how Grandma's stuck in 1955. "Dean Martin, Chuck Berry, that Tutti-Frutti fairy, and Elvis, Bill Haley, no 50 Cent or P. Diddy . . . "

About then my granddaughter wandered into the room and started laughing. "That is so wrong!" she exclaimed, which is high praise from her when it comes to comedy. "Can we hear it again?" 1985 is in the rotation at Radio Disney, although strangely they never play the bit about how the heroine "was gonna shake her ass on the hood of Whitesnake's car," so she knows the song.

So then we went on a field day. We played 1955 again. We played Whimsical Will's account of a private trip through Willie Wonka's factory, done in the style of the late Dickie Goodman where the narrative is interspersed with clips from various songs. "Who else is coming along?" "Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, and way before Nirvana" from the aforementioned 1985. We did Steve Goodie's take on Charlie Bucket, done to the tune of Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side." (The munchkin does not get to hear the original for a few years.) We did the Happy Schnapps Combo's "No, I Don't Wanna Do That." We played the Hampsterdance remix. We played Akon's version of Mr. Lonely -- another big favorite with the Radio Disney crowd, but again there are parts they don't get to hear. Then I played her the original Bobby Vinton version.

We just had a good time for a couple of hours sharing music we liked.

I consider it my duty to pass this stuff on to the younger generation. When my daughter was about 14 I found out she was listening to Metallica. There are probably parents who would have gone ballistic that she was listening to Masters of Puppets. Me, I went out to the mall and got her copies of Led Zeppelin II and Led Zeppelin IV. I told her "If you're going to listen to metal, at least you're going to know what the good stuff sounds like." I think she's a better person for it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Good Samaritan


And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and put Jesus to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"

And He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?"

And he answered and said, "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."

And He said to him, "You have answered correctly; Do this and you will live."

But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

There was a man driving from Baltimore to Washington, and as he was driving along down the road one of his tires blew out. So he stopped the car, got out, opened the trunk, and was rummaging around for the jack when another car pulled up behind his and two men got out. He approached the two men, thinking they were there to help him change the tire, but instead they beat him, took his coat, wallet and watch, ransacked his car, and left him there for dead.

A few minutes later a TV preacher driving a Lexus approached the site of the mugging, but instead of stopping to help, he drove on by. "I'm already late," he might have been thinking. "I have to record that sermon on helping the poor."

Again, not long after that, a congressman in a BMW came down the road, and he too drove by. He was probably thinking about an omnibus crime bill that was coming up for a vote.

But then, after the congressman's car had pulled out of view, a pickup truck stopped behind the mugging victim and a man got out. He was a tall man, with a set of impressive muscles and a crew cut.

And a swastika tattoo atop one of those muscles.

And a picture of Adolf Hitler on his dashboard.

The man went over to the mugging victim, took his pulse, and then returned to the car to dial 911 for help. When the ambulance arrived he followed it to the hospital, gave the ambulance driver his card with an address to send the bill to, and then had the man admitted to the hospital.

"Whatever it costs to treat this man," he said, showing an ID, a business card and an American Express gold card, "I will pay it." And then he went on his way.

"Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers' hands?"

And he said, "the one who showed mercy toward him." And Jesus said to him, "Go and do the same."

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Birds, The Beasts, And The Bats


Many many years ago, the bats thought they had it made. Whenever there was work for the beasts to do, the beasts would go to the bats and say, "Hey, come give us a hand here. After all, you look very much like beasts to us."

"Nope, can't do it," the bats would say. "See these wings? That makes us more like birds than beasts." And they would go off and leave the beasts fuming and working.

Then, when there was work for the birds to do, the birds would go to the bats and say, "Oh bats, can you come help us with our work? We would be glad to number you among us."

"No, I'm afraid not," the bats would say, "because after all, we are more like beasts than birds. See these?" and the bats would point to their chests. "They're mammary glands. Only mammals have them, and mammals are not birds."

In this way the bats managed to avoid the work of being either a beast or a bird. The birds and the beasts didn't like it much, but there was little they could do about it other than grumble.

Then one day, a rumor started sweeping through the kingdom of the animals, a rumor of a creature who was definitely not a bird, but neither was it truly a beast. This creature had a stick that made a loud noise and shot fire, and caused whatever it pointed the stick at to fall down and die.

"Come join with us!" the beasts asked the bats. "We have heard these new creatures are coming into the woods, and we can use all the help we can get in defending our homes."

"Pffft," the bats would say. "We don't think these creatures actually exist. Besides, like we said, we're more like birds than beasts."

Later the birds approached the bats. "You must help us fight these new creatures," the birds said to the bats. "We birds must band together."

"How many times do we have to say it?" said the bats. "We are more like beasts than birds. And besides, we doubt there is such a thing as a creature with a firestick."

Well, sure enough, one day the creatures with the firesticks came into the forest to hunt. And as it happened, they came to hunt, not the beasts, nor the birds, but the bats.

The bats fled ahead of the new creatures. "Help!" they called to the birds. "You were right! We birds must band together."

"What do you mean, 'we'?" the birds asked. "We distinctly heard you say you were more like beasts than birds. Go fend for yourselves, or go join with the beasts."

So the bats flew away to the land of the beasts. "Save us!" they cried. "The creatures with the fire sticks have come! Help us, fellow beasts!"

"Excuse us?" the beasts sniffed. "'Fellow beasts'? Did you not say you were more like birds than beasts? Begone; you can't be a bird one minute and a beast the next."

And so the bats were on their own against the intruders.

Woe to those who are neither one thing, nor another.

About The Birds, The Beasts And The Bats


I first decided this story from Aesop was going to go into Sunday Griot several months ago. I had been following the antics of certain of our elected officials; I'm not going to name names, but anyone with the candlepower to be reading Sunday Griot in the first place can supply their names. These officials say they are friends of the people, but then go out and side with the current administration in supporting its failed policies.

Well, there's an election coming, and if the Democrats play it right, it's going to be a referendum on the failed policies of the current administration. Candidates will be tarred with the brushes of George W. Bush, William Frist and Tom Delay, and it will go especially badly for those Democrats who get the tar on them. Democratic challengers will hit them in the primaries as DINOs, and they can expect no help from those whose failed policies they have supported.

I don't know if it's too late for them; but if it isn't, they need to decide before the Bush house of cards comes down whether they are beasts, or birds. Because next November, the bats -- the baseball bats, that is -- will be coming out.

Thank you all for reading! Please, if you liked today's story, leave a comment below. I'm always happy to hear from the people who read these stories. Until we meet again may all your stories be happy ones, and as always, cheers to all of you.