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Archive for February, 2012

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Once upon a time, there was a really fun bedtime story routine.

A young friend of mine, name of Alexander, reminded me of this earlier today. Ah, Alexander: he’s great.

The routine went something like this. A young child, maybe Alexander, maybe his twin sister, would be all tucked into their bed. Then they would call out to their father “do it; do Skandor Akbar”. And, he would oblige like this: “Ladies and Gentlemen: Skandor Akbar is climbing up the turnbuckle. He’s bouncing on the top rope. What’s he gonna do next? He’s not! He’s not! (He is). It’s the spinning, flying, leap of death!”. It was at this moment that the children’s father would pounce upon the bed like a crazed man.

Jimmy Saied Wehba (1934 – 2010) was a professional wrestler better known by his ring name Skandor Akbar, which, BTW, translates as “Alexander the Great”. (coincidence? Perhaps not.). I became familiar with “Akbar”, along with Kerry Von Erich, The Junkyard Dog/Stagger Lee, and other wrestlers while watching MidSouth Wrestling on Saturday mornings in Shreveport, Louisiana and laughing about it with my friends in school the next week.

Back to our original story. Time passed. The children grew. The father grew tired. Bedtime routines changed. The children began to play out the Akbar routine on their own, this time doing the pouncing themselves. They even added to it. “Young Skandor” added the phrase “with the shoe helicopter” to the end of the routine each time he performed it upstairs in Hacienda Bing. Who knows why? Even he can’t explain it.

May I suggest that “Young Skandor” may have been possessed by the Ghost of Fetishes Yet to Come?

You see, the years have passed. We don’t really do this as a bedtime routine anymore, but it looks like a helicopter flew thru “Young Skandor’s” room, and rained down shoes…

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Oh who are the people in your neighborhood?
In your neighborhood?
In your neighborhood?
Say who are the people in your neighborhood?
The people that you meet each day

The song is a familiar one from my youth, sung by Bob, Oscar, and the friends down on Sesame street.

Some four decades later, I’m reminded of the people in the neighborhood: people that you meet each day. What I find most interesting about this, however, is the people that you cross paths with, never quite expecting a future relationship to emerge.

I recently watched my oldest daughter speak with a student from Japan who was visiting us here in Oklahoma. The most surreal moment was hearing them say “hey, I remember seeing you in Ibaraki…”.

I’ve been fortunate to travel to and visit a few places in my day. It is often only on repeated trips that I get to meet some of the good residents in those places.

One of those is Harry. He is the grandfather of a friend of a friend. He is a former publisher and professor, and is now a first rate blogging buddy, and it only took me a half dozen trips to Stillwater to finally meet him.

Yes, Harry is a person in the neighborhood. Given time to meet more friends like Harry, I don’t think I’ll ever have to worry about being Home Alone…

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Little Frau and I were watching one of our few favorite TV shows the other night: House Hunter’s International. As we were watching a couple tour exotic locals and ponder a different way of life, I asked what I thought was a simple question.

The question? I said “if you could choose to live anywhere, ignoring your backstory, where would it be?”.

After thinking for a moment, she responded “But, I like my backstory”. Wow. Pain, and all: those are the words of one dedicated and brave lady.

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

I love her for loving her backstory, and so much more. And, I look forward to many more stories yet to be told.

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Your dad’s car smells like my grandmother’s…”

Such were the words uttered by my daughter’s friend as we prepared to leave the driveway on a recent morning.

Almost as quickly as I could begin to ponder what about my wheels exactly reminded this young lady’s sniffer of her grandmother, she concluded the thought: “…but it’s a good smell…”.

What is that supposed to mean? I suspect I will never know, especially since I won’t likely ever ask.

My grandmother had a car, a 73 Monte Carlo, that she took me everywhere in, and it had a unique smell all it’s own. One day, 10 years after she bought it new, she gave it to me as my first set of college wheels. For most of the four years that I called it mine, it bore that same smell. Unique. Different. Memorable.

Many years later, probably twenty or more, a boss asked me to drive his car home from the airport due to his extended time away. As I climbed into the leather clad sedan, the same smell from my past overcame me. I closed my eyes, and I was transported back to Grandmother’s Monte Carlo.

The way we live creates a smell. Not a physical scent, mind you, but an aroma, nonetheless.

Unique? Different? Memorable? A good aroma, or a bad one?

2 Corinthians 2:14-16: But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?

The way we live is noticed by others. I only hope my scent is as kind to others as that of my Grandmother.

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Many of us are familiar with that old Peter Paul and Mary song from the 60’s “If I Had a Hammer“.

If I had a hammer,
I’d hammer in the morning,
I’d hammer in the evening,
All over this land,
I’d hammer out danger,
I’d hammer out a warning,
I’d hammer out love between,
My brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

Now, personally speaking, if I, Bing, had a hammer, I would probably break something and have to call a handyman to come out and repair it. You see, I believe that I am mechanically dyslexic. Every project, and I do many every, seems to be harder than it should be or gets started backwards. But, that has never (OK, seldom) stopped me from trying.

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But what is it about these home improvement warehouses that lure us tool novices back into the shark infested waters of do it yourself efforts? Is it the slogans?

More Saving, More Doing: That’s the Power“. That would make a good church slogan. Jesus was a carpenter, after all. Right? However, I doubt if he was motivated by “6 months no interest”.

What he was motivated by was reaching out and helping someone. The author of “home improvement”? How about the author and finisher of our faith?

Hebrews 12: 1-4: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

Stripping off the weights. Setting down the hammer. Not picking up the pipe wrench. Relying on the original Handyman.

That sounds good, on paper. All highs, no Lowes. 🙂

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Writer’s block is an interesting thing. You like to write, you want to write, but the ideas and thoughts just don’t come. Then, something fires from within, usually (for me, always) sparked by a person’s words or actions, or some other event playing out before me.

Rush of Fools is the name of a group sometimes heard on Contemporary Christian music stations. One may suggest, today, that the rush of fools is the brain surge one gets when the writer’s block finally breaks. For me, that rush was yesterday morning at church. I went into the morning empty, and exited the morning with a list of 12 things: verses, statements from others, or semi original thoughts of my own that were begging me to sit down and hack out some thoughts to send into the blogosphere. And yet, time, responsibility, and fatigue tend to get in the way. So, here I sit this next morning with a crowded note card and a limited amount of minutes to spend.

So, here is a brief snippet of hopefully the things to come. And, may this be a reminder that the perceived rush of fools hopefully plays into a greater purpose, for me and hopefully someone who reads a thing or two that my brain wishes to say.

I Peter 4:7-11The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

One down, more to go….

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Jake and the fatman

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“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”
― Edgar Allan Poe

“The vanity of others runs counter to our taste only when it runs counter to our vanity.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

“Perception and reality are two different things.”
― Tom Cruise

Something must be amiss in the world when I am quoting Poe, Nietzsche, and Tom Cruise all at the same time, and this picture paints it in a thousand words. On second thought, make that two hundred pounds worth of paint.

We all have an impression of ourselves. We also all have a blind spot. More on that in a moment.

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Jake and the Fatman was a television series that ran from the late 80’s into the early 90’s. I always wondered why someone would name a show like that. I guess this picture, too, paints a thousand words, and the show’s title sums it up in four. I see a slick well dressed character known as Jake, and I see a fat man. Rest in peace, William Conrad.

Around the time the larger in life Mr. Conrad died, another soul was being born. Her parents named her Hannah. Somehow, the church secretary in a little town in West Texas heard and wrote down that a baby boy had arrived, and that he had been named “Jake”, and it was announced to their little world as such.

Fast forward 20 years. The kid we jokingly nicknamed Jake is all grown up and in college. While she was channeling her internal “Mushu” last fall and was off saving China, several of her college buddies were off studying in Europe. It just so happens that I was there with them for a week, and thus we have the picture up top.

I was looking thru (some would call it creeping thru) some of Hannah’s friend’s web posts some time ago, and I saw this picture. My immediate thought (truth be told, no joke)? “Who is that grumpy looking fat man walking behind Hannah’s friends?”. Dramatic pause, gasp, arrival of reality realization: “That is me”.

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You see, all of my younger life, I was indeed a fairly skinny, below average waist sized man. Today, “off the rack” popular average middle age man sizes fit a little more snuggly than I would like. Blame it on way too many Wiener-schnitzels from Figelmueler that week in Europe, among other things.

My point, or points, today? I still, in my minds eye, see myself as that young skinny guy playing with little Jake on the deck not so many moons ago. That is my perception. Adjusting what I think and feel to the reality that is seen thru the camera lens of others? That should be my reality, and I should encourage and allow myself to look at situations from other’s perspectives.

And, I need to be OK with all of that. It appears to be reality.

“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”
― Edgar Allan Poe

“The vanity of others runs counter to our taste only when it runs counter to our vanity.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

“Perception and reality are two different things.”
― Tom Cruise

Ich habe das Wiener-schnitzel“.
– Bing

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