Lauren Mayer: Celebrating Fox News – No, Really!

Left-leaning satirists have always had an interesting relationship with right-wing media like Fox News.  On the one hand, as liberals we are often dismayed by the partisan tone of their coverage, just as I’m sure conservatives are irked by MSNBC.  On the other hand, as satirists, we are truly grateful for the endless inspiration- face it, Stephen Colbert’s entire persona for his recently ended show was mocking the typical Fox News blowhard anchor, and anytime The Daily Show or Rachel Maddow wants to call out right-wing hypocrisy or inconsistency, there is almost always a clip from one of the Fox hosts to make their point.  And not that I put myself in the same league as those illustrious figures – oh hell, why not?   Writing a weekly song can be difficult enough, but the hardest part is finding a topic – that is, until Fox comes up with yet another colorful turn of phrase or oddball guest “expert.”

However, in all the months I’ve been doing these songs, I never thought I’d see Fox back down from one of their way-out-there-but-easily-debunked claims.  So last week’s apology/retraction of the Muslim ‘no-go-zones’ story deserved a unique musical celebration:

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Spiritual Thoughts

jyb_musingsSpiritual Thought for the Day:

“Just for today I will avoid the Seven Deadly Sins of anger, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.

And engage in sins that are merely physically unhealthy but not life threatening.”

===

When someone is rude to me in a public place and I can’t think of a clever retort, I sometimes wish there was a magic pause button I could push until I come up with a clever retort.

And a magic fast forward button I could push right after I say it.

===

When I say I fully intend to do something, I mean it. At the time I say it. And I think I mean it more than most people. Even a lot of the ones who do it when I don’t. And I think the depth of that conviction — despite the lack of execution– ought to count for something.

John Y. Brown, III: Merry Christmas!

10348435_10155019573515515_5526405421402326145_nMerry Christmas!

Younger days with my sisters and mom and dad. When everything was possible, days ran long and years seemed like an eternity. And Christmas was a monumental and defining event for how good a year it had been.

And Santa Claus was everything we wanted him to be –and was more real than family members we lived with. And chased around the yard between Santa’s visits.

P.S. This is a particularly poignant picture because tonight my sister Sandy told me this picture reminded her of how she remembered me during our childhood. Happy, engaged and very busy in my own unencumbered world.

I liked that a lot.

And hope the very same for every child. Especially mine…even though they aren’t really children any more. But hope they never forget how to be childlike and unencumbered.

===

A Santa Claus “Hail Mary”

Dear Santa,

I know that now is late in the Christmas game, so to speak, but wanted to reach out to you before midnight and just say “Hi” and wish you and Mrs Claus and the entire Claus family a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

I know how hard you have worked and just want you to know how much I personally appreciate all you do. So, thanks and be safe tonight. It is really cold in some parts and foggy for the reindeer. Be careful!

Oh and by the way, I am sure you got my Christmas list earlier and I appreciate you taking the time to read it all. I know it was long.

I suspect at first blush after reading my long present list you probably thought to yourself, “Whaaaat?? This guy thinks he deserves all this?” LOL!! I wouldn’t blame you if you did. I probably would do the same thing if I were in your shoes. But let me try to explain.

I totally get the whole “naughty and nice” algorithm you use to decide who gets what kind and what quantity of gifts. I think it is a good system personally. At the same time I think we can both agree that there can sometimes be the occasional oversight with the current system and, perhaps, in those few cases when that happens, a closer look may be warranted.

Look, I will be the first to admit I did not get off to a great start this year. But I think it is important to look at how I trended upward at the end of the year and how promising that should be for next year. And if I felt, you know, disappointed with my presents tomorrow….how that might discourage me at a pivotal time when I am trending so positively with “nice” behavior.

I am not trying to make you feel responsible for my bad behavior next year if I get discouraged tomorrow after opening my presents. Not at all. I am just asking you to try to understand human behavior and to see how something bad — and totally unintended— like that could really happen. And how none of us would want that to occur.

Just think about it.Ok? That’s all I am saying.

And remember, the majority of reputable psychologists today would agree that a few isolated episodes of “bad behavior” doesn’t make someone a “bad person” or a “not nice person,” to use the Christmas parlance. We have leaned a lot from social sciences in the past hundred years since Christmas started and I think it is OK to take that into consideration.

Earlier this year when you probably gave me some pretty bad marks I want you to know that I wasn’t being “bad” because I wanted to be evil. I was just in a bad place personally and made some bad choices at that time. And that is all behind me now. Almost all of it. I swear.

Anyway, I have taken up enough of your time already. Heck, this is just a good luck and Merry Christmas note I wanted to dash off to you. Sorry for getting so longwinded. Just thinking out loud and wanted to share it with you because I have so much respect for you as a person.

I hope some of it made sense and you can see how Christmas presents need to be based not so much on a static “this year’s behavior” metric but also on a dynamic “next year’s projected behavior based in trend lines” (and detailed explanations like this one.)
I will also private message you some graphs I have put together to help illustrate my points.

OK, Santa!! Another great year coming up for all of us!! I can just feel it. Those graphs are on their way!!

Merry Christmas, Santa! And thank you in advance for always keeping such an open mind!! And being such an understanding and jolly old soul!!

Sincerely — make that “Love,”
Your good friend, John

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: The parable of the Good Samaritan Shopper (the New International Modern Consumerism Version)

jyb_musingsA Samaritan named John shopped long and hard one day at a large all-purpose consumer goods store. When he finished paying for his items he placed his several bags in a shopping cart because he remembered he had parked in the far back of the parking lot and was too lazy to personally carry the shopping bags that far all by himself.

The shopping cart made everything mucb easier and after John had placed the shopping bags in his car he looked at the empty shopping cart and felt tired. John then looked at how far away the entrance to the store (where he picked up the shopping cart) now appeared to be. John then decided to look around the parking lot to see if anyone was watching him and if he could get away with leaving the empty shopping cart in the back of the parking lot and nobody notice.

John decided he could and started to get into his car with a quickened pace. But something stopped him. A pang of guilt tugged at his heart which softened as he thought about some stranger having to push his shopping cart all the way back to the store entrance even though they didn’t even use it to shop.

John knew that was wrong and felt called upon by the Lord to act righteously and not self-servingly. At that moment, John the Samaritan locked his car doors with his remote car locking device and grabbed the cart with a convicted grip and pushed his shopping cart all the way to the store entrance where he stopped to see if anyone had noticed his charitable deed.

No one appeared to be looking at Samaritan John’s good deed at that moment so John decided to wait for someone to eventually turn up who would notice and publicly affirm his righteousness. A kind faced elderly woman passed by John pushing her shopping cart back to the store entrance and locking it into the shopping cart que. Samaritan John smiled benevolently at the woman as if to say, “Look at me. I am doing that too. I am one of the few good people at this large all-purpose consumer goods store, just like you. We are pretty great, huh?”

Samaritan John didn’t say this out loud because that would be committing the sin of pride. He just thought it and quitely returned to his car full of shopping bags, unlocked his car door with his remote device, and drove home whereupon Samaritan John transcribed the parable of his good deed today and posted it on Facebook. Not to boast, of course. But so that others might learn from his good deed and do good too.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Ruining the Holidays

jyb_musingsI would like to know who the asshole is who bought his true love all the things listed below one Christmas and then put in a song to brag about.

He makes all the rest of us look bad.

And the fact this song gets sung over and over this time each year only rubs it in.

I mean, come on! Even if we guys got all this for our true loves, where would you put it all? And don’t you think by January you would be bored and tired of almost all of them, except maybe the golden rings?

Besides, I am guessing by the 13th day of Christmas, this guy declared bankrupcy, was charged with kidnapping 12 drummers, 11 pipers, 10 lords, 9 ladies and 8 maids, and was institutionalized or sent to prison.

I know having all this stuff sounds good. But do you really want to be with a guy like that?

Just think it through.

12 Drummers Drumming
11 Pipers Piping
10 Lords a Leaping
9 Ladies Dancing
8 Maids a Milking
7 Swans a Swimming
6 Geese a Laying
5 Golden Rings
4 Calling Birds
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
1 Partridge in a Pear Tree

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: In praise of Goldilocks and the Golden Mean

jyb_musingsThis holiday season be Goldilocks-esque and seek that desireable middle point between two extremes.

Don’t eat too much nor eat too little.

Don’t talk too much nor talk too little

Don’t expect too much of yourself but don’t expect too little.

Don’t expect too much of others but don’t expect too little of them either.

Don’t sleep too much but don’t sleep too little.

Don’t buy too much but don’t buy too little.

Don’t feel too much but be sure to not feel too little.

Don’t think too much nor think too little.

Don’t act too old but don’t act too young.

Don’t love too mucb but be sure not to love too litle.

Don’t eat anything too hot and don’t eat anything too cold. Only eat things at the temperature that is “just right.”

Make sure your bed isn’t too soft or too hard –but “just right”

And don’t try to be too good but don’t be too bad either. Strive instesd to be “just right.”

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: The Modernized Ecclesiastes 3

jyb_musingsThere is a time to love

There is a time to hate

There is a time to be sad 

There is a time to be joyful

There is a time to judge

There is a time to seek forgiveness

There is a time to feel ecstatic and have hallucinations

There is a time to feel paranoid and have cotton mouth

And there is a time to titrate your medications

Lauren Mayer: What War on Christmas?

Bill O’Reilly et al. like to paint themselves as victims of a secular conspiracy to destroy the meaning of Christmas.  To hear them tell it, our founding fathers based the Constitution on a mashup of the bible (only selected portions, mind you, none of that keeping kosher stuff) and the Burl Ives ‘Frosty The Snowman’ TV special.  So any attempt to reflect the diversity of our country around this time of year is not only unAmerican, but it threatens the very existence of the holiday they are thus compelled to defend.

Maybe if they got out of their studio once in a while, they’ll get a sense of just how well Christmas is doing versus any other holiday.  Even here in the godlessly liberal/socialist Bay Area, every mall, business, or residential street looks like an elf’s wet dream, festooned with tinsel, red & green baubles, and enough mechanical reindeer & inflated lit-up snowmen to completely confuse my dog every time I walk her.  (Not to mention the fact that Christmas has totally taken over Thanksgiving, and is probably going after Halloween and Labor Day next . . . )

Meanwhile, Bob Geldof has trotted out yet another rendition of his classic/monstrosity (depending on your perspective), “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” this time to raise awareness of Ebola, but continuing in the same vein of overblown rock anthem as expressed by patronizing Westerners.  (Apparently, just in Nigera there are 3 times as many Christians as in England, so it seems like they don’t need Geldof’s song to enlighten them.)  So in that same spirit, here’s my own overblown anthem in an effort to raise awareness of the existence of other holidays.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Spiritual Retreats

jyb_musingsGoing to a weekend spiritual retreat is about the scariest and most exciting plan you can have for a Friday night.

If you are going for the right reasons.

It’s not a business networking opportunity or about being liked. It’s not about looking good. It’s not about sounding good. It’s not even about being good.

It’s about thinking anew while also letting go of old thoughts and beliefs that no longer serve their purpose. It’s about being silent –or as quiet as you can be –on the inside. It’s about listening when you normally speak–and actually listening to understand. It is about NOT filling up awkward silences with others or when alone. It is about standing stiller and seeing more. It is not about meeting others but meeting yourself. It’s not about networking with others but about networking with God —which includes long awkward lulls. It is about being real and laying yourself as bare as you are able. And then peeling off one more layer after that.

But it is mostly about the difference between the man (or woman) you left with and the man (or woman) you return with.

And although you think only you will really know if you’ve changed, you are wrong. And if you do it right, you will be comfortable being wrong, again, about so many of the things you were so certain you had been right about just a few days earlier.

That is both the scary and the exciting parts of a real weekend spiritual retreat.

We shall see.

Rod Jetton: How Campaigning Works

156_Rod_Jetton_(R)_Marble_HillWhile walking driving the highway one day an old Senator was tragically hit by a semi-truck and died.

Surprisingly, his soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the pearly gates.

“Welcome to heaven,” says St. Peter. “Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a powerful politician around these parts, you see, so I’m not sure what to do with you.”

“No problem, I understand,” says the Senator. “Just go ahead and let me in.”

“Well, I’d like to, but I’ll have to check with Jesus first and see what to do about what you.” After checking with Jesus St. Peter retuned and said, “What we’ll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity.”

“Really…? I’m awfully confident that I want to be in heaven,” says the Senator.

“I’m sorry, but we have our rules.”

“But I’m sure I want to go to heaven!”

“I understand, but first you have to spend twenty four hours in each.”

And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell.

The doors open and the senator walks out into the middle of a beautiful green golf course. In the distance is a magnificent clubhouse and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him in politics.

Everyone is so happy and in elegant tuxedos and evening gowns. They run to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people. They played a friendly game of golf and then dined on lobster, caviar and the finest champagne.

Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly guy having a good time dancing and telling the funniest stories. They are all having such a good time that before the Senator realizes it, his twenty four hours were up and it is time to go.

Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves goodbye while the elevator rises…

The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens in heaven where St. Peter is waiting for him, “Now it’s time to visit heaven.”

So, twenty four hours passed with the Senator joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing all the old time hymns. They were having a very good time and before he realizes it, the twenty four hours have gone by and St. Peter returns.

“Well, then, you’ve spent a day in hell and another in heaven. So where do you want to spend eternity.”

The Senator reflects for a minute, then he slowly muttered: “Well… I would never have thought I would say this, I mean, umm… heaven has been delightful, but hell was a whole lot better than I expected it to be and all my friends were there… so I think, umm… I would be better off in hell.”

Without saying a word St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell.

Now as the doors of the elevator open he’s in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage. He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags as more trash falls from above.

The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulders and says, “Congratulations you made it!”

As the Senator looked around he stammered, “I don’t understand… yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had a great time. Now there’s just a desert wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable. What… what happened?”

The devil smiles at him, takes a puff on a big fat cigar and says, “Yesterday we were campaigning …

But today, you voted.”

Vote wisely today!

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