The Year in Review (Part Four)

12/29/2008, 11:00 am -- by | No Comments

Read part one, part two, and part three!

October brought the worst stock market crash since the Great Depression, as the Dow plummeted 1,874 points while the S&P 500 fell 20%, plunging world markets into turmoil. The only solace I had during this dark time were the cherished resurfacing memories of the August wedding of my favorite niece (Rose) and her wonderful husband (MCB). This ceremony, performed in the same church where my wife and I were married 27 years before, was so touching that it took me a full two months to overcome the emotions and begin writing about it.

Bweinh! was caught up in the financial turmoil when it was revealed that the corporate retirement account was invested in a subprime baseball card collection belonging to Djere, which was mistakenly thrown out by his mother back in April. Djere was also forced to admit he was operating a “Fonzi Scheme,” which involved dressing up like the Happy Days character and hoodwinking people into making contributions to a nonexistent charity, the Free and Genial Society of Walrus Keepers.

In entertainment news, the A-Rod/Madonna story took a tragic turn when Madonna left her husband for her new beau, only to learn what Yankee fans already knew: A-Rod always disappears at the beginning of October. In sports, Joe Torre took the Dodgers to the NLCS, while the Yankees missed the playoffs. The Syracuse football team started 1-6, with the win coming against the Radcliffe School for the Blind, whose mascot, a middle-aged man in a bat costume, still managed to rack up 108 yards on 7 carries, with 2 touchdowns.

In politics, the nation celebrated as Barack Obama won the presidency, inspiring millions of other Americans born with Silly Ear Syndrome with hope that they too coiuld aspire to the nation\’s highest office. Meanwhile, the Big Three automakers made an urgent appeal to Congress for bailout money, but were rebuked for flying to the meeting in three corporate jets. The legislators advised them to take taxis home and leave the corporate jets in Washington, so they can be used to fly congressmen to a fact-finding mission at a resort in Fiji.

On a positive note, gasoline prices began dropping around the nation, eventually bottoming out here at about $1.399 per gallon. This was especially helpful to all those people who lost their jobs when the stinking oil companies raised gas prices to outrageous price-gouging levels for the second straight year, almost singlehandedly destroying the US (and eventually the world’s) economy, because now they were all driving around, looking for new jobs that don’t exist.

The only personal note worth mentioning from November was our disastrous decision to ruin yet another holiday break by gutting our master bathroom, in a “quick remodeling job” that dragged into 2009.

Syracuse started 8-0 in basketball, with upset wins against Florida and defending national champion Kansas to win the CBE Classic — and after a win against Virginia, they could boast wins over teams from the ACC, Big 12, and SEC. Even better, football coach Greg Robinson was finally fired after winning a total of 3 Big East games in 4 seasons.

In the economic world, the bad news continued to fall like a winter storm as Santa Claus announced that he was laying off 14,000 elves — 26% of his total work force — and selling off the naming rights to Christmas in a sealed bid. When the process was completed, Christmas 2008 was officially renamed the Poulin Weed Eater Christmas, and “I\’m Dreaming of a White Poulin Weed Eater Christmas” became the theme song for the ad campaign rolling out the change.

In national politics, Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was suspected of wrongdoing when his PayPal account was linked to a vacant Senate seat being offered at auction on eBay. He later elicited some sympathy when he revealed his only motivation was to raise enough money for a hair transplant. In international politics, the Somali Pirate crisis — which began in August, although no pirate commented on the lack of coverage here on Bweinh! — took a turn for the worst when it was confirmed that their numbers were bolstered by unemployed elves, vowing to “paint the skies red with the blood of ”˜The Great Santa,\’” should he attempt to deliver toys in the Middle East.

In sports, SU named a new football coach, and the basketball squad lost its first game of the year on a 60-foot buzzer-beating jumper. After a big win against Memphis on the road, they achieved a promising 12-1 start — but then junior guard Eric Devendorf was suspended for apparently slapping a female student on campus during a late-night argument. “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.”

In personal news, Bweinh! finally received some good news — included in the government bailout plan, the site obtained some Borders gift cards and merchandise, which were liberally distributed among the remaining employees at a scaled-down Christmas party at Trump Tower in NYC. Due to Congressional restrictions, we were not allowed to use the corporate jet to ferry Bweinh!tributors to the party, but a deal was worked out with Poulin to reimburse our airfare as long as we agreed to make the appropriate changes to any greetings extended during the holiday season.

So in that case, may I be the first to say: “Merry Poulin Weed Eater Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Quote of the Day, 12/29/08

12/29/2008, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

“Among the lessons every young man should learn is this one: All women who like you because you make them laugh sooner or later stop laughing, and then why do they like you?” — R. Ebert

Pirate Ships Would Lower Their Flags

12/28/2008, 8:07 pm -- by | No Comments

I don’t have any strong feelings about this story, where an RNC chairman candidate distributed a CD with a potentially offensive song about the president-elect, a satirized version of Puff the Magic Dragon. I’ve heard the song; it’s not particularly funny, and since it requires a rather labored explanation of how it’s not racially offensive, it’s not a good idea to send it around when you’re seeking any national office. Yawn. Hardly worth a click.

By far the most interesting thing in the article was at the bottom, a comment by Puff‘s original author, Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul & Mary): “It is almost unimaginable to me [that Saltsman] would seriously be considered for the top post of the Republican National Committee. Puff, himself, if asked, would certainly agree.”

Puff would certainly agree? If asked?? What are we waiting for? Somebody grab a handful of strings and sealing wax and go get a pull quote from the dragon!

Christmas Auld Lang Syne

12/23/2008, 4:00 pm -- by | 1 Comment

The last in the series from Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas.

From More Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas by Ace Collins:

Auld Lang Syne is one of the most familiar songs in the world. But this traditional New Year\’s Eve anthem wasn\’t even considered a holiday song until Dec 31, 1929. That night Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians played it at a huge celebration at NYC\’s Waldorf Astoria, complete with a radio link that beamed them across the nation. Just before ringing out the old year, he picked up his baton and launched into this number, and suddenly millions of Americans had the mistaken impression that Scottish poet Robert Burns had penned it just to welcome in the New Year.

It was probably chosen as the lead-up to the countdown because of the nation\’s dark mood. The stock market had crashed and the economy was in a shambles. Fortunes had been lost, people were out of work, and no one seemed able to stop the country\’s descent into a great depression. For Lombardo, a song that embraced the value and importance of friendships over worldly possessions seemed a perfect way to look back and find good things in a very bad year, while looking forward to the new decade that offered more hope. Sounds too familiar, doesn\’t it?

Elements of the original poem can be traced back to the 1500s, and a 1694 publication called Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence Display\’d, which quoted a sermon. In this Sunday morning homily, God said: “Jonah, now billy Jonah, wilt thou go to Nineveh, for Auld lang syne (old kindness).” Its subsequent reworking kept it mostly in the pubs for the next few hundred years, but about 30 years after Lombardo’s performance, Frank Military took another look at the song and took it in another direction — something that expressed the birth of Christ as a “yuletide valentine.” He built on the theme of ultimate love and told a story not just of trees and toys, but of answered prayers. In this version, cheer was not found in a drink, but in the spirit of those who knew the real meaning of the holiday.

More than 200 years ago, Robert Burns reworked an old Scottish poem about love and friendship into a song that evoked a longing for days gone by. A century and a half later, Guy Lombardo took that song and through its lucky placement on a set list, made it into a New Year\’s Eve tradition. But it would be Frank Military who would rework the lyrics again, shaping them back into a love song. Not earthly love this time, but rather a spiritual love that started before time began, was realized in a manger, and will live on forever.

When mistletoe and tinsel glow
Paint a yuletide valentine
Back home I go to those I know
For a Christmas auld lang syne

And as we gather ’round the tree
Our voices all combine
In sweet accord to thank our Lord
For a Christmas auld lang syne

When sleigh bells ring and choirs sing
And the children’s faces shine
With each new toy we share their joy
With a Christmas auld lang syne

We sing His praise this day of days
And pray next year this time
We’ll all be near to share the cheer
Of a Christmas auld lang syne

In sweet accord to thank our Lord
For a Christmas auld lang syne

Quote of the Day, 12/23/08

12/23/2008, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

“It’s taken for granted that our bodies mature much earlier than our great-grandparents so we all need access to condoms and abortion by fifth grade, but apparently our minds need longer than ever, and in some cases until early middle age. So we enter adolescence much sooner and leave it a decade or more later.

“Right now, to put my demography hat on, the western world has a possibly terminal shortage of children. One reason it does is because the fellows on whom society traditionally depends for child-rearing — young adults — are staying in school until their mid-twenties and embarking on grown-up life ever later, if at all. Thirty percent of German women are childless; among university graduates, it’s 40 percent. The pursuit of a 100 percent college-educated populace is a recipe for societal suicide.”M. Steyn

Three Links (Vol. 16)

12/22/2008, 12:03 pm -- by | 2 Comments

Obviously these’ll be a light next few weeks…

— Here’s a weird news quiz, recapping some of the odder stories from 2008. I got 19 out of 23 right, which scares me. I guessed on a bunch, honest!

— I love this Joseph Bottum piece from First Things, reprinted from Christmas 2006, about (to varying degrees) guilt, cell phones, winter, Manhattan, and the human condition. “What would genuine innocence look like if it ever came into the world? I know the answer my faith calls me to believe: like a child born in a cattle shed. But to understand why that is an answer, to see it clearly, we are also compelled to know our guilt for the world, to feel it all the way to the bottom.”

— And just in time for the procrastinating Christmas shopper: ornate, hand-crafted, floral URINALS??

Quote of the Day, 12/22/08

12/22/2008, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

“I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph.” — S. Temple

Best of the Polls — The 12 Days of Christmas

12/19/2008, 10:45 am -- by | No Comments

Which of the famous gifts in the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ song would we like to receive?

Rank Gift Points
1. 5 golden rings 35
2. 6 geese-a-laying 19
3-4 (tie) 3 French hens; 9 ladies dancing 16
5. 10 lords-a-leaping 14
6. 11 pipers piping 9
7. 8 maids-a-milking 7
8. 4 calling birds 6
9. 12 drummers drumming 5
10. 2 turtle doves 4
Other 7 swans-a-swimming; a partridge in a pear tree 2

The Year in Review (Part Three)

12/19/2008, 10:00 am -- by | 6 Comments

Read part one and part two!

In politics, the fireworks got started when Jesse Jackson was caught articulating his desire to emasculate Barack Obama for “speaking down to black people,” after Obama espoused personal responsibility in raising children. Perhaps Rev. Jackson’s desire for sterilization was just misplaced?

With the Democratic primary finally resolved, Obama began his heads-up match with John McCain by touring Europe, speaking to 200,000+ in Germany and wowing the various characters inhabiting the nation of France. Meanwhile, John McCain responded with lunch at a German restaurant in Berlin, Pennsylvania. A good indicator of things to come.

In entertainment news, the summer movie hits were Wall-E, a dark cartoon exploring the forbidden world of robot love, and the latest Batman movie (The Dark Knight), hyped to an epic level of anticipation after the accidental death of star Heath Ledger from a drug overdose. In the wrold of celebrities, baseball star Alex Rodriguez split with his wife after being romantically linked to himself — as well as rapidly fading pop diva Madonna — and star blogger Tom was involved in a late-night scuffle at an Arby\’s in Ithaca, New York, the first of many troubles during his sophomore season with Bweinh!

In personal news, Bweinh! CEO Steve Maxon and his entourage visited the Opelika office, as part of his whirlwind tour of all his U.S. facilities. Our grandkids came for two weeks and our kids all visited for the 4th — giving us a record 14 visitors in the month of July. Good times.

In sports news, Brett Favre un-retired again, and signed a sponsorship deal to promote The Mummy III. In baseball, Tampa Bay\’s Evan Longoria became the first rookie to be named All-Star MVP while starring in a TV series (Desperate Housewives) — and the WNBA has its first brawl, when Lisa Leslie of the L.A. Sparks shows up wearing the same earrings as an opposing player.

As the dog days of August rolled in, the Republican party saw its first glimmer of hope in a dismal presidential race when Joe Biden was announced as Obama\’s running mate. He raised fresh questions about plagiarism when he began his nomination acceptance speech: “I am honored that Senator Kerry would choose me to be his running mate.”

In a further display of Russia\’s new friendliness, they invaded Georgia. Prime Minister Putin appeared at a press conference with President Dmitry “Winky” Medvedev, declaring that the rapid move to democracy has now progressed beyond the Russian border. In other news, John Edwards confessed to an affair, giving me yet another reason to dislike a man I never liked anyway.

At the movies, we watched The Mummy III and Indiana Jones IV on the same day — I am still confused about which special effects, lame dialogue, and ridiculous plot twists go with which one. The prospect that I may have watched National Treasure III just adds to the confusion. These types of movies are attractive for only one reason: as an excuse to consume an entire tub of popcorn and a barrel of Coke for the low, low price of $55.

Hurricane season got off to a roaring start in Alabama, as our neighbors boarded up their windows and stocked up on emergency supplies three times in a month — once for Eduardo, once for Faye, and once when they heard Russia had invaded Georgia.

In sports, Michael Phelps won a record eight gold medals in Olympic competition, the Yankees faded from contention, and three Syracuse Orangemen finally get the team in the news — for sexual assault charges.

Hurricanes Gustav and Ike wrought devastation on the Southeast and Gulf Coast, but paled in comparison to Hurricane Sarah from Alaska, who stormed onto the national scene: annihilating the Democratic convention, reviving the floundering McCain campaign, and single-handedly turning around the dying SNL franchise.

A financial meltdown began, as Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Lehmann Bros., AIG, and Washington Mutual Bank all began to fail, while economists continued to debate whether we were in a recession. In a sign of the times, Canadian currency actually surpassed the U,S. dollar in value for the first time, and Americans are caught sneaking over the border into Mexico.

In entertainment news, Bweinh! blogger Tom injured his finger and became addicted to painkillers; he was caught at 2 AM in a bad section of Rochester trying to buy prescription-strength ibuprofen from an undercover DEA agent. The Syracuse football team started its season 0-2, including a home loss to the mighty Akron Zips. Clearly it\’s going to be a long season.

Quote of the Day, 12/19/08

12/19/2008, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

“O ye beneath life’s crushing load, whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way, with painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours, come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road, and hear the angels sing:

‘Peace on the earth, goodwill to men, from Heaven’s all-gracious King!’
The world in solemn stillness lay, to hear the angels sing.”
— E.H. Sears

A List of Lists

12/18/2008, 11:05 am -- by | No Comments

It’s that time for end-of-the-year lists! But I’m not interested in the 200,000 identical lists of albums (“lol chineese democracy rocks dude, axls still got it”), movies, and “hunks.” It’s the more unique lists that I look for.

For example, National Geographic has released their top ten photos of 2008. My favorite was only #2.

If it’s quantity you crave, Time has gone overboard with the thing with the “Top 10 Everything.” I’m not going to click all those links to test that claim, but it certainly appears to be quite thorough.

If you like ads, you’ll probably enjoy the top 10 viral advertisements and worst ads of the year.

Assuming you’re really bored and really interested in projectors, there’s even a top 10 projectors of the year! What’s that? A native XGA resolution, 2500 ANSI lumens, and an 1800:1 contrast ratio? Be still, my heart!

Oh, and how could we forget the top cricketers of the year, a pantheon which includes the delightfully named Michael Hussey? “Hussey combines his easiness on the eye with a basic and compact technique, something which makes his wicket particularly difficult to claim.”

You can’t make that stuff up.

Joke of the Day, 12/18/08

12/18/2008, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

What do you call someone who hangs out with musicians?

A drummer.

Goosing the Economy?

12/17/2008, 5:46 pm -- by | No Comments

The USA Today has the headline today: “Fed Gets Creative to Goose Economy.”

Are you kidding me? Who approved that headline?

Goosing a person involves — to my knowledge — sneaking up behind them and initiating physical contact in a way that only a doctor should perform. The dictionary defines goose (verb) as: Slang, to poke (a person) between the buttocks to startle.

The economy is bad enough as is — leave it alone!

Best of the Council — Santa Claus

12/17/2008, 3:30 pm -- by | No Comments

At various times, the Bweinh!tributors, having convened in secret for hours of reasoned debate and consideration, will issue a brief and binding ruling on an issue of great societal import.

This classic question, originally published in May 2008 — What should you tell your children about Santa Claus?

Kaitlin delivers the ruling of the Council, joined by Djere, David, and Steve:

That he does not exist. He should be treated like any other fictional character.


David concurs, joined by Tom and Connie:

Treat him as make-believe; when your children learn the truth at some point, they may assume you made up the stuff about Jesus too.


Job dissents, joined by Chloe:

I will tell my kids Santa Claus exists because his essence is one of the few things most Americans have as a shared identity.


Erin dissents:

Go ahead and let them believe for a few years. They’ll get over the moment of truth.


Josh dissents:

He’s a great example of why you shouldn’t eat too many cookies, unless you want a jiggly belly.


MC-B and Mike played no part in the determination of this issue.

It Wasn’t His Child

12/17/2008, 2:30 pm -- by | No Comments

The next in the series from Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas.

In 1987, Skip Ewing was living in Nashville, trying to make a name for himself, when he found himself home for Christmas, despondent over his imperfect family situation. He thought about the first Christmas family, and specifically Joseph\’s role, and realized that it hadn’t been the perfect family situation either.

Joseph had to watch Jesus’ birth and raise Him as his own son, even though He wasn’t. In a way, this was even more significant than if Jesus had been Joseph’s own child. Joseph was a role model for Jesus — love and acceptance flowed to Him from this man. “Even though Jesus was as spiritual as He was, He still must have grown and been given such wonderful gifts from both of his earthly parents.”

The song Ewing wrote as a result became one of only two legitimate country Christmas classics (the other is Rudolph). And he used an unresolved chord at the end of the song to signify that this story goes on, a never-ending pursuit for all of us. “It is what Jesus brought to earth, what God revealed in Him, and what Joseph stood for as both a husband and a father.”

Give a listen to this song. Don\’t get caught up in thoughts about how “perfect” your family should be this Christmas. Look to God for your contentment and satisfaction; maybe you\’ll write the next classic.

He was her man and she was his wife
And late one winter night
He knelt by her as she gave birth
But it wasn’t his child, it wasn’t his child

Yet still he took Him as his own
And as he watched Him grow
It brought him joy, he loved that boy
But it wasn’t his child, it wasn’t his child

And like a father, he was strong and kind and good
And I believe he did his best
It wasn’t easy for him, but he did all he could
His son was different from the rest
It wasn’t his child, it wasn’t his child

And when the boy became a man
He took his father’s hand
And soon the world would all know why
It wasn’t his child, it wasn’t his child

And like His father, He was strong and kind and good
And I believe He did His best
It wasn’t easy for Him, but He did all He could
He grew up with His hands in wood
And He died with His hands in wood
He was God’s child, He was God’s child

He was her man, she was his wife
And late one winter night
He knelt by her as she gave birth
But it wasn’t his child; it was God’s child


Next Page »