Thursday, December 30, 2010

Overheard at Table 3: Tron

yeah, I took the kids to see Tron Legacy . . .

it was about what I'd expected . . .

I'd showed them the video of the original when I had them the weekend before . . .

yeah, the one we saw when we were their age . . .

like I said, it's almost like the original - great SFX, but absolutely no plot. Man, I'd forgotten how the original didn't have any story at all - I guess we were just blown away by the light cycles . . .

I guess this one had a little more - direction, I guess you could say, but still, the 3D is always worth it - I'm glad we've got that going for us these days. I don't even really mind the ten bucks a pop for the glasses, especially when you just wanna be blown away - I guess we really shouldn't even be expecting a story in movies any more - just go there like it's some sort of roller coaster and just sit back and enjoy the ride . . .

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Overheard at Booth 2: #354.

from 364


His feet touched the earth, just as
my feet touch the earth.
His lungs took in air, just as
my lungs take in air.
His eyes burned from the dust in the desert wind, just as
my eyes burn from pollution of the refineries
belching in from Galveston county.

He cried, chest-tight and stomach-pained, when
His friend died, just as
I cried when my parents died.

He never had a bone broken, but
He bled out from a spear to the side and
His flesh was split by rock and bone and nail, just as



. . . thankyouJesus!

A Message from Verble Gherulous, Proprieter, Zen and Tao Acoustic Cafe

I would just like to state that I have thought long and hard about my New Year's Resolution and I have determined that for one month, the month of January, I will not listen to any news: neither MSNBC, FOX, CNN, NPR, or Pacifica Radio. I have a suspicion that simply knowing about current events is a detriment to my sense of peace and well-being, and it is my earnest hope that by ignoring all news sources I can regain a clearer mind, and a more balanced disposition.

That being said, let me state at this time to what conclusions I have arrived during 2010 regarding the current state of America as well as the world:

1) The Republicans are wrong about everything. They are hateful, snide, mean-spirited little devils whose every singular position is contrary to the will of God.

2) Open homosexuality in the military should be a non-issue. Our military is here to protect us, and if our fighting soldiers are more interested in expressing their sexuality than they are in submitting to the more noble calling of protecting us, then they shouldn't be in uniform.

3) Allowing prayer in school is following the first commandment of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, which essentially is to think about God with all that you have. However, to FORCE children to pray to Jesus is contrary to His second commandment, which is to love everybody equally. Therefore, there should be a time set aside, each day, in every school, for prayer or for meditation, or just a "quiet time" - it's good for the soul, it's good for the mind.

4) Liberals and progressives are following the second commandment of Jesus Christ in their attempts to do things for others, but they need to understand that while (as the bus as read) "Millions are Good without God" (which is true), that's not really the point. The point about Jesus' first commandment is to get our minds off ourselves and focused toward something greater than ourselves, so that we can lift ourselves above ourselves. Again, I believe Progressives will understand this instinctively, while Conservatives will sneer and go cheat somebody out of their home.

5) We need to stop the wars. Now. Immediately. Bring all the soldiers back home. No excuses, no ifs ands or buts. Just do it. Foreign wars are contrary to the will of God. And anybody who claims to be a follower of Jesus and is supportive of war is in conflict. If you disagree, read your Bible.

6) We have a problem with hispanic immigration, but if we want to solve the problem, we must help build the Mexican economy. People only move away from their native country when there are no jobs in their native country.

7) There is a problem with the drug cartels running Mexico, but that is because Americans are shooting drugs into their veins. We as Americans have to stop our drug addiction. Right now. Immediately. Every single addict in America has to go cold turkey - RIGHT NOW. Because for every needle injected, some poor women dies brutally in Juarez.

8) Pro-Choice is right, Pro-Life is wrong. Yes, abortion is terrible. But back-alley butchers are even more disgusting, and to return to a society like that would be an abomination in the eyes of God. If you don't want a woman to have an abortion, help her - support her - tell her you will take her unwanted baby and raise it as your own.

9) Corporations will kill human beings in order to make a greasy dollar. They are contrary to the will of God. They are not human beings themselves, and yet we treat them like such. Corporations cannot be expected to act morally, because they have no soul. Yet we are giving them equal rights under the Constitution, which was made to protect people. Conservatives are trying to make Corporations into the People, and we have to stop that. It's a travesty of justice.

10) The First Amendment protects freedom of political speech, which is the right of the people to stand in the middle of the street and say that the government is doing something wrong and needs to change. Free Speech does NOT protect any person's right to say nasty hateful things about other people, and it CERTAINLY does not protect pornography. We really need to get that straight!

11) ANY politician who uses the phrase "the American people" more than three times in one minute has nothing to say. Don't listen to them. They don't care about the American people, they are only sucking up to you to get a stab at their own power.

12) Oh yeah. It's sad that lately all the intellectual writers, even those who claim to be Christians, believe in the historical Jesus (i.e. the Prophet, great teacher, cool Zen guy etc) but shy away from the fact that Jesus was/is/will always be God in Flesh. That's really sad, because the only people claiming that are Conservatives, who say it but obviously don't believe it, because every single one of their actions is contrary to the will of God.

So, let me just state: Jesus IS God, in the flesh, one aspect of the Triune God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), who came here to lead us all. He made it very clear: Love God with all you are (i.e. get to thinking beyond yourself) and love everybody else the same way you love yourself (i.e. stop being so selfish, and make sure everybody else has exactly the same that you have).

Basically, He's telling us to stop being so selfish, and get out there and dream big and make those dreams a reality for the improvement of the entire world.

Let's do it!

God bless you all! The Cafe is open for all thoughts and ideas and comments and plans and actions. However, this will be the last political statement I make, at least until February 1st.

On second thought, let me just break my "news fast" on Groundhog Day. 2-2-11.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Overheard at Booth 5

. . . just walking down Louisiana and there's this well-dressed businesswoman on her cellphone and she's saying 'don'tchoo THINK I won't pay nobody $50 to go over there an' shoot-choo in DA FACE!' and


I nearly fell off the curb in front of a Metro bus!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

From the Zen and Tao Acoustic Cafe: MERRY CHRISTMAS

Verble Gherulous, proprietor of the Zen and Tao Acoustic Cafe, on behalf of himself and his family and staff, would like to wish the world a very MERRY CHRISTMAS.

May peace and blessing be upon us all, and may we find the joy and love that all of us so desperately need, and may we find the solace in the loving arms of the God who created the Universe, and who chose to rip Himself from eternity to break through into this stream of Time, in order to walk among us for a little while, possessing a body made of the same flesh and bone that all of us have, the same cellular structure, the same musculature, the same heart, lungs, eyes, lips and nose - so that He could dwell among us, not only to show us how possible it really is to live a sinless life, but also to finally give Himself over to forge a way to Heaven, so that while He spent a blink of an eye in the world, we could spend an Eternity in Heaven.

We celebrate this day, once a year, as a reminder of the moment that God fulfilled His own plan and our destiny, coming to be born as an innocent baby, the most precious of all gifts, and the single unifying factor in our humanity. For we all, even the most cynical of us, understand at the moment of birth, how precious, beautiful, and fragile is this creation of Life.

Jesus Christ is the Light and the Way. Jesus Christ is the Zen and the Tao.

God bless us, every one, this Christmas. Not only today, but for all days, and all ways.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Gift

Verble says, "This one has it all, truly. It's my second - well, third - favourite Christmas album, and one of my favourite acoustic albums, and it even has a cover that deserves framing. It's just magical!

"The Christmas carols played here, I mean, they sound so much like the standards, but then, they also don't sound like 'just Christmas tunes' if you know what I mean. This is just an album you can play all year long. The acoustic guitar and the woodwind, they blend perfectly together, they balance and counter each other gracefully, you even just forget that they're playing instruments at all - this album just becomes part of your background, part of your own natural rhythm. I don't know how to explain it other than that.

"Sometimes I think that this was the way these carols were originally played - by people, in a room somewhere, small house, quietly backing up to the moors. Foggy night before Christmas. The entire village packed into one guy's house. The dancing music has faded and all that's left now near midnight is the hush now, the guitar and woodwind lulling low, getting the people ready to hike their coat against the wind and head out into the fog to the church for Midnight Mass.

"Ah! It's almost like I'm remembering those days, from over four hundred years ago! That's what this album does to me - takes me back to a place I've never been and makes it a part of the fabric of my own tapestry.

"Like I said before - they don't make 'em any better than this!"

Overheard at Booth 2: Christmas

there was so much there and it was so much stuff it kept falling off the shelves and i was running through the aisles and i had a basket but the wheels kept getting stuck and so it kept veering off to the left and bashing into the shelves and the stuff it just kept falling and some of the stuff was falling into the basket and some was just falling out over the sides and onto the floor and it was the best dream about Christmas shopping that i ever had in my life!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

At the Counter

John Steppenwolf says, "I don't really think the Internet killed civility. I think it just opened the floodgates for people to hide behind their own nasty tongues."

Verble says, "There once was a place for polite disagreement, sure, and passionate debate. I miss that part about us, you know, as a people. Nowadays, all we get are these Facebook flare-ups and petty disputes . . . "

"FOR FRIKKIN'REAL?!" shouts the Barista, coming out of the back, and thumbing her phone in a rage, madly. "Block ME from your Facebook just because I'm friends with Maggie - well, we'll see about that, little miss puckerhead!"

Verble turns back to Steppenwolf, and says, "I rest my case."

Monday, December 20, 2010

Overheard at Booth 5: Not at all like Christmas

My daughter took down her tree last night.

The small one she had in her room?

Yeah, the one Trav got for her. She packed it all up, nice and neat, and took all the stuffed Santas and reindeer she had all around her room, packed them up in a little box, put them out in a supply closet.

What's that all about?

Trav was all mad at her for breaking her grounding, going out with her friends to the mall. I mean, she called me at work to see if she could, and I didn't know Trav had already had a talk with her about it last night, making sure she knew that she was still grounded from cheating on her algebra test at the beginning of the month.

I see. Playing the old mom-against-the-dad routine.

That's my daughter. Very resourceful.

So why'd she pack up all her Christmas stuff?

She said this year isn't at all like Christmas. She said there's no Christmas Spirit when all she wants is her freedom.

Well, that's an eighth-grader for you!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Overheard at Table Two

Ava Guday: You know, Spanish is a stangely musical language.

Ana Phalaxis: A strangely musical language, you say?

Connie Undrum: Yeah, every time a doorbell chimes, somebody says "Key in S" !

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Overheard at Table 3

Charlie: I heard on NBC that there was a bomb that was discarded in an airport in Namibia, a bomb that was made by an 80 year old granny from California, and she said it wouldn’t work because of a ‘boo-boo’ - a 'boo-boo'? Seriously? I mean, you just can’t make this stuff up!

Niall: Better than any fiction writer, lemme tellya, but get this, I heard about and 83 year old serial killer in Austria who got out early because of bad health so she could go on a trip to the Vatican, and then she just disappeared! Vanished, poof!

John: And we think that the kids are running crazy - this is the year of the wild octogenarians.

Niall: Yeah, one’s a terrorist and the other is Hannibal Lector. It’s a sad sad world when you can’t even trust Grandma anymore!

Overheard at Booth 4: Storm from the East by Milton Viorst

1: . . . and this has been the best book I've read this year about the wars in the Middle East - it didn't sink to any level of rhetoric, it was simply an honest attempt to look at the history of the region to explain why certain current events have unfolded the way they have. It goes back all the way to the 6th Century, even, and it really really made me think about why these people are actually so completely utterly locked in the P'O'd mode all the time.

2: I thought it was just because they were evil.

1: That's the answer that people want to you to think when they don't want you to think. Seriously, every American should be made to read this book . . . AFTER they are forced to read Why We Fight. Then they can see the COMPLETE difference between sheer paranoic chest-thumping rhetoric and thoughtful crafted historical commentary.

3: Yeah, but I think you’re forgetting something. We LIKE the rhetoric. We don’t want to have to think.

2: Right, come on, dude, that’s why we have Fox News!

3: . . . and I like a bit of chest-thumping every now and then.

1: Good lord.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

At the counter: Advent Countdown

Lucky Moran says, "I love this time of year, when there's a nip in the air, everybody's all hunkered down in their coats . . ."

"Blizzards swamping New England."

"Well, I feel sorry for those guys, but"

"All the way from Nashville to Chicago,"

"OK, OK! Some people have to get themselves into the Christmas spirit and some have the spirit dumped on them in four feet of snow - I - GET - IT!"

Otis smiles. Sips more of his mocha latte.

Niall Carter says, "I'm with you, man, I love advent. I wish they would make a road movie out of the advent story."

"A road movie?" Lucky asks.

"Yeah," Niall says, "it's got everything: mystery, romance, danger - roadside bandits - and high tension - this woman's almost full term, man, and she's riding on the back of the donkey, I mean, you KNOW they had to be worried that her water'd break and she'd go into labor right there on the road!"

"Hold on there!" Otis jokes, "This is a family establishment!"

"Cut it out, Otis," says Lucky. "Niall, that's why they had something called 'Faith' - they'd been told by Gabriel what was going to happen, they shouldn't have had anything to be concerned about."

"Listen, I KNOW they had faith, but they were also two human beings, a middle aged guy -

"Late twenties, early thirties" Otis interjects.

"That's middle age for then," says Niall. "And a fifteen year old girl - riding through the desert, which is dangerous in the best of times, man, don't tell ME they weren't the least bit nervous!"

Lucky muses, "I see your point. Road movie. Are you thinking more along the lines of Mad Max road movie or Little Miss Sunshine road movie?"

Niall says, "I'm thinking something more like Fandango."

Otis says, "I like your Mad Max idea. Joseph whipping some Philistines with his staff like some sort of Talmudic Jet Li - that'd be cool."

"See?!" says Niall with a smile. "NOW you're getting into the spirit of Advent!"

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Overheard at Table 1: The Frozen Thames by Helen Humphries

One of the best books I've read all year . . .
and I've been reading like a mad dog, lemme tellya!
This one is incredible! Here's the synopsis real quick: these are forty short pieces, about two to five pages long, each one set at each time the River Thames has frozen over during the recorded history of London. This starts back in the twelfth century, and just goes forward, sometimes a generation or two, sometimes with a hundred years between stories, sometimes one year after another.
Each story is told from the point of view of a different type of character - sometimes a Queen, sometimes a cobbler, one of my favorites was from the person who looses the royal dogs on the rabbits, one was set during the plague year, it talks about the fairs that were held on the frozen river.
It's partly a character study, and partly a history lesson. Personally, I think that's when literature really rises above just simply telling a story, when it can actually encompass history, make it come alive.
And I know it sounds silly to say this, but it's absolutely true - when I was reading this book (and lemme tellya I was reading it at the tail end of this summer!), I actually could feel the chill of the ice, I could almost see my breath coming out in little puffs of steam, I could taste the moisture which was frozen in the air.
And that - is good writing.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Overheard at Booth 3

"and my eleven year old couldn't go to sleep last night he kept saying that the top of his head hurt, and my husband looked at it and said, 'It's just a pimple, now go to bed' and he kept coming out saying that he couldn't sleep, and finally my husband gets up and goes into our room and comes out with this cream that he rubs into the spot on the top of his head, where it hurts, the pimple, and my son says, 'what is that?' and my husband tells him, it's itch-stopping cream, and he goes off to bed, and I ask him 'will that really stop his scalp from itching?' and he looks at me and says, 'I don't know - but it'll sure kill his athlete's foot!"

At the Counter: the Fantasy of the Middle Class

Niall Carter, John Steppenwolf, and Hugo Payton Payne and sitting at the counter, while the Barista cleans the espresso machine.

They're discussing politics. Niall is saying, "I thought Greta Van Shusterson was the only one I could stand on Fox News, even though she was trying to sidetrack John Bolton the other night."

John Steppenwolf says, "I caught that. He was focusing on America's drug addiction and she was trying to bring him back to admitting we need more troops on the border."

Niall, "But the next night, she was 'interviewing' (and I use that word loosely!) the Dem Senator from Louisiana, and just grilling her! I mean, this is supposed to be a reporter, and instead of asking questions, she is saying, 'What I think is . . . blah blah blah . . . the American people are mad at all of you blah blah blah' - it was disgusting! That's - not - reporting."

Payne says, "That's because there is no reporting any more. There is no free press. A free press is as dead as bellbottoms. Fox News turned the press into a carnival. The public goes to see the carnival they want to watch. They want to watch acrobats, they turn on acrobats. They want to see elephants, they turn to elephants."

Steppenwolf, "They want to see Roman gladiators killing Christians, they turn on Fox News."

Payne, "Exactly."

"Well," Niall says, "Personally it just makes me sick. I just want hard news. Facts. Let me decide for myself. Give me the facts, the objective truth, and I'll determine. I don't want the press telling me that this or that is bad."

"It's treating you like a child," Payne says, "The conservatives who have bought the press have you addicted to candy, like a child is addicted to candy, and they will keep spoon-feeding it to you to keep you addicted."

"Until when? Until all my teeth fall out?"

"Metaphorically speaking," Payne replies. "The goal is to create an oligarchy while maintain the illusion of limited government. Limited government means nothing more than business has no restrictions, and business has only one goal in mind, and one goal only:"

"To make money," Steppenwolf says.

"Right. And when they have your money, they will loan it back to you again and again and again until you are doing nothing but paying the interest on the money that you used to have. That's why this is important to remember, whenever you hear any politicians talking about the middle class, they are either blind or corrupt. There is no middle class any more. When they say 'middle class' they are trying to pander to everybody, because everybody believes that they are middle class. Only the very rich and the very poor know exactly where they are. Everybody else is just fooling themselves."

"So if there is no middle class," says Niall Carter, "where are we?"

"We are here, in the Zen and Tao Cafe, having coffee and wondering why we're not saving enough for retirement."

"I think I see where you're going with this," says Steppenwolf, "and if we have to ask ourselves that question . . ."

". . . then we're not among the rich," concludes Niall.

"Precisely," says Payne. "Precisely."

Friday, December 10, 2010

Overheard at Booth 1: the girl says

I'm tired.

And stupid exam week is next week.

And I want some gum . . . watermelon is preferred.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

At the Counter: Cold Turkey Instant Karma and all that jazz

Verble says to John Steppenwolf, "I always get a little misty eyed, on this day, of all days . . ."

"Yeah," says Steppenwolf, "in memory of John, right?"

"That's right. It's amazing how a semi-accomplished guitarist could have made so many excellent acoustic tunes."

"Really?" says the Barista. "Most people remember him for all his Peace Love and Understanding."

"Ah, that was a myth, a persona he used because it felt good. He was really a right regular wank most of the time - but the beautiful part of him came out in some of his best tunes . . . and I'm not talking 'Strawberry Fields' or 'Come Together', no, I'm talking more like 'Norwegian Wood' 'Across the Universe' 'Julia' . . . "

"Two Virgins?" offers Steppenwolf.

"Musical masturbation," counters Verble. "Told you he was a wank, but still . . . man, Lennon did make some great songs. 'Dear Prudence' - gives me chills to this VERY DAY!"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Overheard at Table 4

1: I thought John Bolton was spot on last night on Greta Van Shusterwhatever's show, they were talking about the 14-year-old headchopper and he made the point that all in all, when you really break it down, this is all about our drug addiction. If we weren't buying, they wouldn't be selling.

2: Probably though we should really think about sending more troops down there. Enough of this war on terror, which is halfway around the world and stagnated like a skyscraper on wheels moving through Louisiana swampland, we should really use those same troops to take care of the drug cartels.

1: But that's the point - those cartels wouldn't BE so strong if WE didn't have all the drug addicts! Bolton was funny, he said "I don't know who the drug addicts are, but somebody's buying them to the tune of 5 billion dollars!"

3: That's where he's lying. He does know who the drug addicts are. He's in government, for goodness sake! That's what I can't stand, all the politicians thinking this is a drug problem of the lower masses. Listen, meth addicts don't import their drugs - they make it in their kitchens! Same with crack. The poor have to make their own whack drugs. Now the coke users, the smack junkies, they can get theirs from sources. But the high class, now they're the ones who get their designer cocaine from the Columbia and the wherever. So don't beleive them when they try to pass this off as the addiction of the poor.

[a pause]

1: You seem to know an awful lot about the drug trade. Is there something you wanna tell us?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Before the Flood" by W.S. Merwyn

Why did he promise me
that we would build ourselves
an ark all by ourselves
out in back of the house
on New York Avenue
in Union City New Jersey
to the singing of the streetcars
after the story
of Noah whom nobody
believed about the waters
that would rise over everything
when I told my father
I wanted us to build
an ark of our own there
in the back yard under
the kitchen could we do that
he told me that we could
I want to I said and will we
he promised me that we would
why did he promise that
I wanted us to start then
nobody will believe us
I said that we are building
an ark because the rains
are coming and that was true
nobody ever believed
we would build an ark there
nobody would believe
that the waters were coming