Moral Decline in America:  Blame the Home and Church

Much has been said on the issue of school shootings.  Hopefully more dialogue will follow that will lead to common sense action.  However, a cry that echoes across this country as loud as the cries of outrage against the violence and the counter cries for 2nd Amendment protection is the mournful wail of concern for the moral decline of the nation.  After every shooting, social media erupts with cries of “this is what we get for taking prayer out of our schools.”  There is little disagreement this nation has experienced moral decline, but blaming schools for that decline, especially blame associated with school shootings is ludicrous.  The only role schools have had in school shootings is as a victim of adult apathy.  Schools have had nothing to do with cutting funding for mental health that has allowed sick murderers to roam the streets; schools have had nothing to do with the manufacture of weapons of war that are the weapon of choice by such murderers; and schools have had nothing to do with failure to legislate common sense gun control that would make it difficult for murderers to obtain assault weapons.  Despite what some may think, the presence or absence of prayer in schools has little, if anything, to do with school shootings or the moral decline of the nation.

“But,” the all-knowing seers of social media say, “if there was prayer in schools, we would not have all these shootings and evil problems.”  Contrary to widespread belief, there is prayer in schools.  As a former high school principal, one of the most powerful testaments to faith I ever witnessed was students holding hands and bowing their heads in prayer in the school cafeteria or gathering around the flag pole to pray for our nation.  A school employee cannot coerce, influence, or guide them, but children can and do pray at school.  The beauty is if they have been taught at home, they don’t need an adult to lead them in prayer. They are led by their faith, a faith instilled in them at home and in church, and that is how it should be.

The moral dilemma faced by this country is not the fault of schools.  If there is blame, and of course there is, it must be placed squarely on the shoulders of the home and to some degree, the church.  Those are the institutions established by God to instill moral responsibility into our lives, and if there is moral decay, that is where the root of the problem will be found.  If prayer is absent from the home, it will be absent from schools as well.  If our churches, which are the guiding light, where people gather to learn and practice their faith are half empty on Sunday, those empty pews will be reflected in the discipline and morality found in our schools and nation.  Schools cannot teach or reinforce discipline, morals, or faith that is not first taught and reinforced in the home and the church.

Unfortunately, too many Americans would rather believe in smokescreens than face the truth.  They would rather blame schools, a smokescreen for bigger problems, for issues of morality than call into question the sanctity of the home.  However, unlike times past, few families have time to talk, play, and pray together anymore, and where families once prayed at mealtime and bedtime, such time has been interrupted or replaced by television, ball practice and games, computers, cell phones, Snap Chat, and Facebook.  The acidic attitudes of disrespect, defiance, and anarchy in our society was not nurtured into existence by removal of prayer or the paddle from our schools.  Such attitudes were born out of the absence of prayer and discipline in the home.

The moral decline of our nation began with the removal of responsible adults from the home.   When parents stopped being the adult and became their child’s buddy, a role reversal occurred in the family unit, and the child became the unspoken dominant head of the household.  With parents and children on the same authoritarian level, discipline in the home declined.  Couple that with removal of a spanking by mom or dad, when needed, and you have the making of a little monster who grows to be an adult who respects no one, is accountable to no one, and takes responsibility for nothing.  Schools did not do that; mama and daddy did that.  As a result, the “not my fault” and “you can’t tell me what to do” generation that is choking the life out of the nation was born.

Our churches also have responsibility in the moral decline of the nation.  First, I give churches credit for trying to find ways to reach people.  Churches across the United States have tried valiantly to bring people into the fold.  They have turned to marketing themselves to compete with television, movies, and the Internet, but in the process, they have lost their identity.  Today’s church is an exciting place to be; in many cases, it is the entertainment and social mecca of the community.  Unfortunately, somewhere in all the lights and glitter, something has gone wrong – something is missing.  In a world that feeds on external stimulation, stimulation of the heart and soul has come up lacking.  The modern church is filled with teachings of the love of God, and that is good, but toning down preaching the wrath of God from the pulpit has desensitized congregations to the fear of God, especially younger generations.  Sometimes human beings need the hell scared of them to get their attention.  One of the biggest problems in our society today is few people have a healthy fear of God.  Today, church is about being entertained, socializing, and hearing about the love of God.  Too often, little is made of the consequences for denying or turning from that love.

Schools are not perfect and have many faults, but the moral decline of this nation is not one of those faults.  Schools are merely a reflection of the community and world in which they exist.  To counter the moral decline in this nation moms and dads must teach their children to pray, and our churches must continue to find ways to fill the pews while instilling both the love and fear of God into the people.  Anything less is morally wrong, and the results can be seen in the negative news headlines every day.

JL

©Jack Linton, February 26, 2018

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When It Comes to Children, My and Your Second Amendment Rights Don’t Mean Squat

[This is the shortest, but no doubt the most important blog I have written.  Many will not like what I say, but that is okay; it needs to be said. ]

 

The slaughter of innocents continues.  Seventeen lives – three teachers and fourteen children ages 14 to 18 – were killed on Valentine’s Day with an assault rifle in a cold-blooded premeditated massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  For those who say it is a mental health issue, you are correct – only a cowardly sick psycho could do such a thing!  For those who say it is a gun control issue, you are correct – only a society with twisted priorities could allow such a thing to happen over and over again without legislating stricter gun control!

When children are being regularly slaughtered in our nation’s schools, it is against common sense and all that is sane to continue to use the Second Amendment and the asinine excuse high-powered assault rifles are only deadly in the hands of the mentally ill as a defense for the civilian ownership of such weapons.   Tighter gun control is not an attack on the Second Amendment, but even if it was, we should be worried more about the lives of our children than the guns in our closets.  I support the Second Amendment, and I do not advocate repeal of the amendment, but as a gun owner, I am in full support of tighter gun control legislation that will help keep assault rifles out of the hands of everyone but law enforcement and the military.

Of course, as with previous school shootings, such legislation is not likely to happen.  As a nation we cry out in horror against school violence for maybe a week, two at the most, after it happens, and as we have for all the other countless shootings, after about three weeks, we forget it ever happened and return to our nonchalant lives of Facebook and shopping at Walmart.  It is not that we don’t care, most Americans care greatly, but the only solace we have is our prayers and the relief the tragedy did not happen in our community school.  For now that is all we have, our nation’s leaders have left its citizens to shoulder this grave dilemma on our own.  Our leaders at both the state and national levels are either unable or unwilling to tackle this issue; they keep hoping it will simply go away.

However, if we do nothing once again, communities across the nation need to stock their school supply closets with body bags because the school shootings will continue.  School lock down drills and intruder red codes may make us feel better, but they have proven to be of little help in an actual school shooter situation.  God forgive me for saying this, but if the legislatures, both state and national, cannot come together on this issue, then for Heaven’s sake, please arm the teachers and administrators, so schools at least have a fighting chance if confronted with a shooter.  We can’t seem to address this issue with common sense, so why not return to the six-gun toting days of the Old West?  That would at least appease the gun lobbyists, and isn’t that who so many of our state and national leaders would rather appease?

I am not concerned in the least if there are people who disagree with me.  I am concerned – NO, SCARED TO DEATH – the schools my grandchildren attend could be next.  My and your Second Amendment rights don’t mean squat when it comes to the safety of my grandchildren, and I believe most people feel the same as I do.

JL

©Jack Linton, February 17, 2018

First Love

“I remember my first love,” the man said, closed his eyes and sighed deeply.  “She was as sweet as dew at first light.  I have never met another like her.”  He knelt before the altar and worshiped First Love.

For most people, first love is a careless delicious surplus of sugary puffs of nostalgia.  They swoon in memories of white lace, tender moonlight strolls, skin as soft as silk floating on feather down, and a touch so smooth and delicate it speaks of a refreshing summer lemonade or a delicate red wine with floral undertones.  Over time, first love has a way of growing into a whimsical dream-like longing that paints it as more than a simple charity of nature.  For many, it morphs into a cosmic life event colored by all that is innocent, sweet, and righteous in the world – a lavish desert and entitlement of youth.

If man could negotiate time and the universe in a single breath and look upon the original blueprints for his existence, he would find first love was a gift, a charity, orchestrated by gods with nothing better to do.  They were spirits with no motive other than creating a smile and a warm place in the heart, who, to this day, toast one another with each first kiss of starry eyed first loves.  We should also toast first love and fall in love over and over with the honey scented nostalgia that cloaks it.  Yet, unlike those candied memories, we must take care not to place our first love on a wistful pedestal like a trophy.

First love is not an altar to kneel before.  It is not a stuffed panda, or fine wine to share openly as a prize, but a keepsake to fold into your wallet for safe keeping for fear it might sour with overexposure.  Like a mother’s womb, it is not intended as a warm cubby hole to hibernate forever.  Its sole purpose is to prepare for what is to come – to open eyes to the truth that two are better than one.  First love is training wheels on your first bicycle; the first cross you bear; the first callous on your heart.

Sweet as cherry blossoms in spring as it may be, nuzzling the fuzz on that first peach is meant as a personal curio to be placed on a sheltered shelf out of the way when done.  After all, it is charity, a gift, not intended for flaunting.  Unfortunately, human nature does not always allow first love to be treated as such; it will not permit it to be dignified by fading softly until vanquished respectfully and honestly.  No, we dig up the bones, cover them with wisps of Camelot and roses, regurgitate a surreal fleeting experience that never was as we wish to remember it.

Those first palpable pricks of the heart linger in a shadowy recess of the brain reserved for what might have been, what never was, and what we wish, want, and believe to be.  Its memory is the byproduct of an underdeveloped flap of grey tissue that utilizes spotting sparks of corkscrewed energy spitting from a humping brain stem to fabricate superficial intrigue and horny syrupy sweetness for a fleeting delusional moment in our lives.  We hold to that moment with a fondness reserved for high school pranks and fetching our own switch for Mama to tan our backside.  Those good old days and memories we sweeten with saccharin.

That most people are indebted to a name they only speak in moral seriousness is without question.  That they are ensnared deep within a constantly gentrifying lair of sugarcoated indulgence of half-truths is also without question.  In the name of first love, they allow themselves to be imprisoned by plain prose exuding romantic mediocrity blinded by sunlight caught in crystal windows.   Their reason is intermittently waxed incomprehensible; they are blinded or at least enveloped by a fantasy shrouded in essentialist qualities of love – a fantasy inseparable from reality.

A charity of nature designed to unlock hearts and open souls to the beauty of the human bond, first love should be smiled upon and thought of tenderly for its intended good.  It should not be allowed to fester into a gauzy distraction or a model holding all future love accountable.  It was never intended to be idolized or placed on a pedestal that might bring the adoration of future love into question, nor was it ever intended as a gauge for future romantic relationships.  First love is a foyer to a greater room; it is simply the beginning of the grandest adventure of all – love.  It is practice for the real thing to come; it was never intended as a prototype of the real game.

JL

©Jack Linton, February 9, 2018

April 1970: Mississippi Brother and Sister See UFO

What little money I had in my early teens came from picking up golf balls at my uncle’s driving range.  The range was next door to my house, so it was the perfect first paying job.  My younger sister (the older of three) and I were hired by my uncle to pick up golf balls weekdays and Saturdays after the range closed around five o’clock each day.  Each evening, equipped with a golf club handle with a basket welded to the end of the shaft for scooping balls, a small metal bucket, and several large yellow metal baskets to dump the small buckets in when full, the two of us and oftentimes my uncle and his son and daughter took to the fairway to pick up golf balls paying customers hit during the day.  My sister and I were paid sixty cents for each yellow basket we filled with golf balls – approximately a couple of hundred golf balls per basket.  On an average evening we filled as many as five yellow baskets and made a combined $3.00 for our efforts.   I can remember my share being as much as ten dollars a week, and sometimes as much as twelve dollars if Saturday was exceptionally busy.  That was a lot of money for a thirteen and eleven-year-old in 1967.  In 1969, I bought my first motorcycle with the money I earned picking up golf balls.

I remember those days scooping up golf balls vividly, but the evening I recall best was the night my sister and I encountered our first UFO – unidentified flying object.  Some people will say I am fabricating this story, but as God is my witness, this is true.  The encounter was brief, but it was as real as the print on this page.  My sister and I were the only ones on the fairway that April night in 1969, maybe 1970.  The exact year has faded with time, but I know it was a Tuesday because “Hee Haw” was on television that night.

The evening was cool as we hurried to fill our last yellow basket.  After a late start, we were out after dark with the only light, a full moon, reflecting dimly off the few remaining white golf balls on the fairway and the balls in the yellow baskets.  Our normal routine was to divide the fairway into sections and sweep through one section picking up balls before moving to the next section.  By nightfall, we were scrambling to finish the last section.  On days when we found ourselves out after dark, we left the full yellow baskets on the fairway where my uncle picked them up in his truck the following morning.  We knew he would not be happy if he arrived for the baskets and there were still golf balls on the ground, so we were doing our best to hunt down every ball before we called it quits for the evening.

We were rounding up the last few balls when the light from the full moon suddenly dimmed.  I remember looking up and freezing.  The moon was covered by a perfect dark blue sphere the size of two full moons.  I called out to my sister who looked up and dropped the small basket of balls she was holding.  “Wow,” she said, “I’ve never seen a blue moon before.”

“It’s not the moon,” I said.

“Then what is it?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” I said watching the blue object floating over our heads, but it was not floating, it hung motionless painted on a black canvas.

The air or space around the blue ball seemed to ripple and two additional spheres slowly materialized on either side of it – one red and the other green.  The three spheres hung in the night sky over us – no movement no sound.  I had never seen, nor have I since anything like what I saw that night.  “Go get daddy!” I yelled to my sister.  She ran faster than I have ever seen her run, dove and slid under the barbed wire fence between our yard and the driving range fairway disappearing in the dark of our backyard.  I had an eerie feeling I was not the only one watching her, but at the same time I felt no fear for her or myself.

I continued to watch the three objects, hoping my sister and father would hurry.  There was no doubt in my mind I was being watched.  The objects did not pulse, flash, sway in the slightest, or make a sound; they hung against the black sky like brightly lit blue, green, and red Christmas balls on a black tree or background.  The air was still.  The usual chirping of crickets, katydids, and cicadas as well as frogs croaking from the nearby pastures and woods were silent.  The only light illuminated from the watchers over my head.  I had heard and read stories of unexplained phenomenon in the skies, but until that night, such things were questionable stories from far exotic places or from the lips of suspect characters.

I had read stories of Roswell, New Mexico, reports by United States Air Force pilots of mysterious flying machines, and accounts of people who claimed to have been abducted by aliens, but until that April night, I considered such accounts as mysteries with rational explanations not yet discovered, or stories fabricated for publicity.  A door slammed in the direction of my house, and I heard voices.  My sister excitedly urged our father to hurry.  I remember thinking, please hurry dad, you have got to see this.  He never did.  As their voices approached from the dark, the three objects began to dim as if someone turned a wall dimmer.  They did not float, fly, or vanish in a flash of light; they slowly faded into the night leaving a larger brighter yellow ball that had been concealed behind them hanging between me and the moon.  My sister’s voice cut through the black from the fence line, “We’re coming!  We’re coming!”  The yellow globe looked down on me.  A voice in my head said, “Be calm,” and the globe faded into the moon.

Only the moon hung in the sky by the time my father and sister reached me.  “Where is it?” my sister asked.  “Gone,” I said.  My sister and I did our best to convince our father what we saw was real, but he scoffed at our story and scolded us for interrupting his favorite television show, “Hee Haw.”  A night or two later, WDAM news reported the station had received calls about similar sightings as ours, but the local news anchor claimed the reports had been confirmed by authorities as nothing more than weather balloons.  My father looked at me and said, “Flying saucers, huh.”  The voice in my head said, “Be Calm.”  We never spoke of flying saucers or mysterious lights in the sky again.

I never bought the weather balloon story.  Things made by the hands of man can’t hang in the sky unsupported without the slightest sway, bobbing, or movement.  Air planes must move or fall from the sky, helicopters can’t hover without some degree of sway, and balloons can’t float without gently rocking even in the most tranquil sky.  I am convinced what my sister and I saw that night was not of this world, and I will likely never believe otherwise.  Why would two insignificant teenagers come under the scrutiny of beings not of this world?  I don’t know, but I don’t dwell on it.  I am afraid I might unlock some deep seeded secret to that night; a secret I am not sure I want to know.  The voice is enough.  Sometimes on nights with full moons, it is as clear as it was nearly forty-eight years ago – “Be calm,” it says.  I am.  I wait calmly and patiently.

JL

©Jack Linton, January 23, 2018

House Bill 957:  Same Song Different Verse

Does it ever end?  From Mississippi Senator Angela Hill’s bill to do away with the Mississippi Department of Education to Speaker of the House Phillip Gunn’s bill to bounce the MAEP education funding formula for a new less expensive formula, the assault on Mississippi Public Schools goes on, and on, and on.  Since 2013, to inform people of efforts in Jackson to weaken and dismantle public schools, I have written enough for a book on the plight of public education in Mississippi.  For those who have listened, I along with many others have written and warned about what is happening, and true to those warnings, the nightmares are becoming reality.  With little to no input from state educators, legislating and railroading changes to public schools that are not always in the best interests of children and teachers appear to be escalating.  In Mr. Gunn’s case, he has done everything from writing a new education funding formula to handpicking the man who could push his bill through the House to the Senate in record time.  Never mind the bill contains issues, and it is less than complete as acknowledged by the House Education Committee Chair.  According to state leadership, those are trivial things that can be worked out later.  Right, and we can believe teacher pay in Mississippi will be raised to the national average in the near future!  As for Mrs. Hill, buying into the reasoning behind her chaotic idea to do away with the Mississippi Department of Education makes about as much sense as conceding all government control to local independent fiefdoms, but maybe chaos is her end game – at least for public schools.

There is a little more rationality in Mr. Gunn’s proposal.  He argues the MAEP formula was written almost twenty years ago and has failed to keep up with classroom needs.  He is partially right.  MAEP became law in 1997, but what the public does not hear him say is the formula has failed to keep up with classroom needs because it has been fully funded only twice in those twenty years.  It is Phillip Gunn and his fellow legislators who have failed to meet the needs of the classroom – not the current funding formula!

Why should anyone with a lick of common sense believe a new formula will fare better?  Two maybe three years down the road, 2020 maybe 2021, we are likely to hear once again legislators cannot be held accountable to an education funding bill passed by a previous legislature – only then, they will be talking about the 2018 Legislature.  State legislators have successfully gone down that road before, so why should they stray from a proven path.  They won’t, especially when they have duped the public into believing public school educators are the bad guys and private and school choice hungry legislators are the saviors.

I do not suggest all legislators are at war against public schools; there are a few who stand by state educators.  Those few are the reason Richard Bennett, Republican Representative from Long Beach, was handpicked by Gunn as the new House Education Committee Chair.  As a colleague and friend, Gunn knew Bennett was not likely to be swayed to any degree by those few dissenting voices.  From day one, not only did Bennet blindly champion Gunn’s funding bill, he did all within his power to railroad the bill into law.  By his own admission, he has never read the MAEP formula, so he really doesn’t know if the new bill is better or not.  His job was to run Gunn’s bill through the motions and get it to the Senate quickly with as few questions as possible.

Thank goodness there were a few legislators in the House who asked, “Why the rush?” For Gunn and Bennet that was simple, push hard and fast, and don’t allow time for study and knowledgeable pushback that might delay the bill’s passage.  As Democratic Representative Jay Hughes of Oxford noted, the 354-page bill was filed Thursday, January 11; dropped to the House floor Tuesday, January 16; and passed on to the Senate Thursday, January 18.  In comparison to time frames legislators usually work under, that is a remarkable achievement.  Such swiftness and urgency are almost unheard of, especially with a funding bill that should be studied, discussed, and tweaked often prior to any vote.  Instead, Bennet asked the House to fast track the overhaul of the public school funding formula.  He told lawmakers they would have two years to work out any discrepancies or problems in the bill, so they shouldn’t worry about any issues – just pass it.  Does that mean once passed they can manipulate the law anyway they choose?  Of course, it does; they’ve been doing that for years.

This smells strangely of deeds that should be scraped from shoes before entering the house.  Why soil the carpet when it is simpler to clean the mess at the door?  For whatever reason, Mr. Bennett and Mr. Gunn have chosen not to do so, but Mr. Bennet has given his word they will clean up their act over the next two years.  He seems to think his word is good enough, but he has been in Jackson long enough to know better.  Teachers were given the word of state legislators in 1997, but legislators honored their word only twice over the next two decades.  Why should anyone who believes in and supports public education in this state believe Mr. Bennet now?  He is most likely an honorable man, but educators in this state have been bitten too many times in past years by legislators professing to be honorable men.  If you need a reminder of leadership ethics in Mississippi, think back to Initiative 42, and the boatload of mistruths used to confuse and divide the public’s support of public schools.

“We’re going to work through it,” Bennett said.  “This is not something cut in stone.”  Maybe so, but I for one will have to see it to believe it.  True, HB 957 may be an attempt by the legislature, as some have suggested, to apologize for years of inadequate funding and compromise with a formula that provides a watered down though more realistic funding formula in the eyes of legislators.  If that is so, House Bill 957 may be a bullet all educators have to bite and learn to live with at some point.  However, it does not make it easy when the process is surrounded by haste, isolation, and secrecy.  Trust means inclusion and respect, which is something public school educators have rarely received from state legislators.  It’s not easy to trust when educators have watched helplessly as other legislative promises that were cut in stone crumbled under them.

JL

©Jack Linton, January 20, 2018

Henny Chicken’s Escort Service:  A Story with a Moral

Henny Chicken left her job after working nineteen years for KFC corporate.  She had thought of leaving many times, but each time she was about to pull the plug, she moved up the pecking order, and edged a little closer to the proverbial wire ceiling.  It was different this time though!  She had endured her tail feathers being stroked for the last time, and hush promotions to ease her squawking no longer mattered.  Just once, she would like to move up the corporate ladder for what happened from the neck up, rather than the neck down.  The paper promotions resulted in slight improvement, but in some ways set her up for even more harassment.  The bosses looked at her as willing to do whatever to get a promotion, and the rest of the employees looked at her as a chicken lipped Jezebel sleeping her way to the top.  She loved her job, and did not want to leave, but what else could a hen do?  Being treated and thought of as less than a chicken stuck in her craw, and made her miserable.  All she wanted was to work and live in a place where a chick could cross the road and not have her motives or gender questioned.

The cutesy office breast and leg jokes grew old even if breasts were the foundation for the company and her pension.  She simply could not take being considered a piece of meat any longer.   Scratching out a living for chicken feed instead of living off her fluffy corporate paycheck would be difficult, but for a new life, she knew she was up to the challenge.  Besides, she couldn’t wait to see the company struggle without her; after all, the rooster may crow but the hen delivers the goods.  KFC would be a chicken with its head cut off without her.  So, Henny built up her nest egg, and flew the coop to set out on her own.

The first morning after leaving her job was the best.  She slept until noon, dressed like a stinking sloppy crow, and relaxed all day on her balcony.  Wrapped in the warmth of sunshine and her new life, she couldn’t believe how free and renewed she felt.  It was an incredible feeling!  No roosters interested more in what was under her feathers than what was between her ears; no obligatory seductive cackles to massage rooster egos; and no constant greasing the skillet to keep peace!  The only time her tail feathers were ruffled was when she scratched.  What more could she ask for; her new life was simply heaven.

Unfortunately, outside her modest coop, the same was not true.  To her surprise, the outside world was more twisted than the corporate world.  She could not walk past a street corner without hearing a breast, thigh, or leg joke.  Unlike the office, on the street there was no pretentious cutesiness, it was strictly hard core, and there was no promotion if she was offended, which of course she was.  At least the roosters at work engaged in a certain amount of quality control, and treated her to her beak like a real chicken.  All the cock-a-doodle-doos she met now were interested in was tenderness, juiciness, and flavor as if she was a USDA commodity.   Bottom line, they were only interested in the amount of usable lean meat on her carcass.  The cool cat raccoons and possums were the worst of the lot.

Her social life also suffered.  Engaging in hen parties with friends from her old job was not fun anymore since she was no longer privy to the latest greatest gossip from around the feeding and water troughs and had little to share.   Even the chick flicks she at first attended twice a week left her feeling violated and used since they were nothing more than a banty rooster on a June bug story.  She also found going to the Cock of the Walk with her girl-hens for cocktails was no longer as much fun.  She had nothing in common with her old friends, and new friends were as hard to find as hen teeth.  The only bright side was she no longer had to put up with the cock and bull of the workplace.

One morning, after a less than fun night out, Henny woke and went for a long walk.  She had to admit that her new life had turned out to be egg on her face, she was still miserable, and KFC was doing wonderfully without her, which left her with little to do but brood.  After a while, she noticed a possum and armadillo following her.  From the look in their eyes there was little doubt they thought she looked finger licking good, so Henny picked up her pace.  She walked around the block several times hoping to lose them, but with each lap they gained ground until they were virtually parting her back feathers with their breaths.  But, she was not hatched yesterday; she knew exactly what to do.  She crossed the street.  Not thinking, the possum and armadillo followed her, and were immediately flattened by a Sanderson Farms chicken truck, proving once again that unlike a chicken some creatures indeed cannot cross the road.

Roadkill always made her feel safe and at ease, but there was also a slight tinge of sadness.  She couldn’t imagine living a life confined to one side of the road.  Being so cooped up would have driven her crazy.  At that moment a light clicked on in her head.  There was no time draining incubation period; the most marvelous idea of her life merely hatched!  It was a made from scratch idea that would allow her to finally come home to roost.  Instead of being subjected to constant poppycock as she was in her old job, she would rule the roost.  She might have to wing it at first, but the more she thought about it, the better she liked her idea.

Two years later, Henny was the talk of Egg Street.  She not only manipulated her idea into a multibillion dollar enterprise, but she bought KFC and opened a line of fleece and feather lined lingerie as well.  However, the kingpin of her financial kingdom remained embedded in that one brilliant roadkill inspired idea known to investors as HES and globally as Henny’s Escort Service for Potential Road Kill Victims.  For the first time in the history of the world, raccoons, possums, and armadillos could travel anywhere they chose safely.  Henny’s only stipulation other than getting paid was raccoons, possums, and armadillos had to swear off ruffling tail feathers, breast and thigh jokes, and other obnoxious behavior toward hens.  As for, boastful strutting harassing roosters, the business world followed Henny’s lead and stripped them of their management positions and relegated them to assist at diaper changing stations in public restrooms.  As for Henny, she slept until noon every day, dressed like a stinking sloppy crow, and relaxed all day on her penthouse balcony reading, For Whom the Chicken Crows, which of course she wrote.

Moral of the Story:

With a cool head and imagination, it is possible to make chicken salad out of chicken poop.

JL

©Jack Linton, January 6, 2018

 

My Top Five Christmas Movies

This Christmas season, I have watched a top twelve Christmas movie list on television, and read at least two other Christmas movie lists online.  There are probably a hundred or more Christmas movies to choose from when making such a list, but if you look closely, most of the lists contain the same twenty to twenty-five movies.  Usually, the only difference between list A, B, or C is how those 20+ movies are ranked.  However, my Christmas movie list is different in two ways: (1) it only lists the top five Christmas movies of all time, and (2) it is based entirely on my preferences and opinion.  If you agree with my top five movies, fantastic, and if not, it’s too cold to go jump in a lake, so instead, go watch your favorite movies and forget mine.  Here are my top five movies beginning with number five:

#5        How the Grinch Stole Christmas:

The story is about a green creepy/goofy looking monster who hates everybody including himself.  He sets out to steal Whoville’s Christmas, thinking by doing so, he will take their joy from them.  Of course, he is wrong.  His only salvation is Cindy Lou Who, who manages to thaw his cold heart and bring happiness to his dismal life.  As a child, I enjoyed the thirty-minute animated television special that aired at Christmas every year, but when Jim Carrey brought the Grinch to life on the big screen, I was amazed all over again.  The movie version with its occasional naughty innuendoes was made as much for adults as kids, and it succeeded on both fronts.  Jim Carrey’s over-the-top performance was fun to watch, and the visuals were stunning.  Simply put, the movie looked, acted, and felt like a holiday classic.  It did not disappoint.

#4        Elf:

I am not a big Will Ferrell fan, but his role as Buddy in Elf was exceptional.  I am not saying exceptional in an Academy Award sense, but extraordinarily fun and entertaining for kids and adults alike.   As a human raised by elves at the North Pole, the role of Buddy fit Ferrell like a glove.  His trademark off-the-cuff antics, which are sometimes hilarious, but often just miss the mark, were perfect for his role as a lovable human-elf in search of his identity.  His innocent childlike behavior in a world of Christmas commercialization was funny, charming, and magical.  Elf is a holiday classic that should be on everyone’s watch list.

#3        A Christmas Story:

One of my all-time favorite holiday movies is A Christmas Story!  The story, set in the 1940’s, centers around Ralphie and his quest for a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas.  Throughout the story, everyone he turns to for help to get the gun, even Santa Claus, tells him, “You’ll shoot your eye out.”  Based on a story by Jean Shepherd, the movie is a trip back in time before X-box, PlayStation, Star Wars, and cell phones.  It was a time when kids played outside, and watched Westerns on television where the good guys and buy guys fought for supremacy with six-guns and lever-action rifles instead of laser swords.  In A Christmas Story, Ralphie faces school bullies, learns the horrible truth about secret decoder rings, has his mouth washed out with soap for saying bad words he learned from his father, and through it all, never loses sight of his perfect Christmas gift.  This movie is a slice of life from a bygone era, but it contains everything that makes Christmas special – family, memories, and the spirit of being served Chinese duck for Christmas dinner.  The kids may not fully appreciate the significance of playing outside or getting “double dog dared,” but this is a Christmas movie the whole family should watch together.

#2        The Polar Express:

The number two movie on my Christmas Holiday list, The Polar Express, certainly deserves the honor.  The movie stars Tom Hanks and is filmed in “performance-action animation,” which results in a breathtaking movie spectacle.  Hanks and the visual beauty of the film are reasons enough to see it, but I simply love the story!  The story is about a young boy who is beginning to doubt there is a Santa Claus, and on Christmas Eve catches a mysterious train, The Polar Express, to the North Pole.  On the train, he meets other children like him, a sometimes-cranky conductor (Tom Hanks, who also plays several other roles in the movie), and a hobo.  One of the most visually impressive scenes in the movie (there are many) is the singing waiters.  The first time I saw the movie at home, I stopped the video at least three times to watch that scene again and again; it is simply amazing.  Although Santa Claus appears in the movie, the movie is not about Santa.  The Polar Express is about bravery, friendship, and the spirit of Christmas!  It is a classic that should be shared yearly as a family tradition.

#1        It’s a Wonderful Life:

The Christmas movie that tops almost everyone’s list is It’s a Wonderful Life starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.  It is the perfect Christmas masterpiece for the holidays.  The story is about an ambitious young man who sacrifices his dreams to ensure the dreams of others.  Continually hounded by miserly Mr. Potter, George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) fights for the right of his neighbors to live a good life, and not struggle in the squalor of Potter’s tenant houses.  Unfortunately, life does not always treat even the best people fairly, and after a disastrous incident, George wishes he had never been born.  With the help of a guardian angel, George learns how his life has impacted the lives of people he loves, and they are not complete without him nor is he complete without them.  It’s a Wonderful Life has sacrifice, redemption, salvation, friendship, angels, and triumph over evil.  It is the root for the good guy, boo the bad guy, feel good movie of all time regardless of the season in which it is watched.  It is the movie that shows us how to get our wings.  It’s a Wonderful life is the epitome of the Christmas spirit; therefore, it is my number one Christmas movie of all time!

Whether you have a Christmas list of your own, or use one someone else has put together, the bottom line is grab someone you love or want to make friends with, and pop your favorite Christmas movie in the DVD and share the Christmas spirit.  I double dog dare you!

Merry Christmas,

JL

©Jack Linton, December 22, 2017