Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Prairie chickens, unite!

I recently read -- and you very well may have recently heard -- a sermon in which the pontificator used an illustration about an eagle who, at a very young age (like, still an egg), was transferred to a flock of prairie chickens. The eagle hatched and was raised alongside the prairie chickens, scratching in the dirt and "flying" in short bursts of wing-flapping chaos.

One day, the young eagle looked up and saw an adult eagle soaring high above the barnyard--majestically surfing the air currents. "What's that?" asked the misplaced eaglet.

"Oh," answered one of the prairie chickens, "that's an eagle. His eyes are keener than barbed wire, and his wings are stronger than the shutters on the barn. He's the king of the birds. But don't give it another thought. You're just a prairie chicken, like me."

From that day on, the eagle contented himself with scratching in the dirt and fluttering for a few seconds from fencepost to fencepost...never realizing that he, too, was the king of birds.

Then the sermoneer, in an attempt to inspire his flock, said, "Friends, let's refuse to live and die as prairie chickens. Let's soar with the eagles."

Well . . . that's fine . . . if you're an eagle. What the well-meaning preacher seems to have forgotten is that God created prairie chickens, too! And if you're talking to a prairie chicken, all the encouragement to "Soar! Soar!" won't do a lick of good.

You can see this truth plainly displayed on American Idol. It ain't everybody what's meant to be singing in front of other folks! And instead of being distraught over the fact, it's time to celebrate the way God made you.

I'm average, and I'm proud! If not for people like me, there would be no fawning masses to give people like Paris Hilton a reason to go on sucking air. Where would Jay Leno get his sense of self-worth if not for millions of boring insomniacs who think he's funny?

The world needs prairie chickens, and the sooner you realize you're one of them, the better.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oscar Irony

Though I'm not necessarily proud of this, I am here today to admit to you that I watched the telecast of the Oscars Sunday night. It's been several years since I indulged my secret fantasy of someday mounting the steps of the Kodak Theatre and thanking all the little people who made the moment possible.

Honestly, I used to implant the winner for Best Actor in my head so that I would be able to say, "I remember when I was 15 years old, watching Jack Lemmon accept his award for Save the Tiger, and thinking, 'Save the Tiger? Has anybody even heard of Save the Tiger'?"

Having finally given up any thought about ever needing an acceptance speech, my interest in the Oscars has waned in recent years, until this year when the planets aligned in such a way that resulted in a movie that I saw actually being nominated for Picture of the Year. (Juno)

So, I popped a bowl of popcorn, poured a glass of orange juice, and settled in with our attempt to have a dog (Edgar, the epileptic chihuahua) to watch the festivities.

There wasn't a whole lot that was very memorable, but there was one bit of irony that wasn't lost on me. Actually two bits of irony off the same mother ship.

The parade floats on the red carpet all looked fairly decent: no feathery swans wrapped around willowy limbs; no huge bows threatening to untie themselves before our very eyes. The first bit of irony was that the only truly ugly dress seen at the Oscars this year was being worn by the first televised honoree: the winner for achievement in costume design.

That was interesting enough, but it got kind of spooky when the lady who won for make-up took the stage...barely visible behind her eyeshadow.

I half expected the winner for visual effects to be wearing dark glasses and carrying a red-tipped cane.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Slip slidin' away

Beloved and I have had our share of drama and trauma in our lives: lost jobs, found lumps, misplaced affections...but Sunday evening was a wonder to behold. You know it's not going to be a good day when the cell phone call from your youngest begins with "Daddy? Where's the card for the car insurance?"

It's true: KayJay fought with the wintry road conditions of northern Iowa and lost. But it was no simple, slip-into-the-ditch hitch. Noooo.... She spun around and was struck by a car coming the opposite way.

That may sound kind of scary, and you can be sure that hearing about it from over a hundred miles away added to the fear factor, but it wasn't really as bad as all that. KayJay came out of it with some bruises and a headache. The car came out of it totaled.

Again, that may sound kind of extreme, and you can be sure that thinking about getting a new vehicle puts a knot in my intestines, but it wasn't really as bad as all that. We're talking about a 2003 Kia Spectra, after all. It doesn't take much to total a car like that. The last time I changed oil, we were halfway there. Of course, the last time I changed oil, I also put on two new tires...AUGH! I JUST REMEMBERED: that Kia had two brand new tires on it!

pant...pant...deep breath

That's okay, at least we still have our daughter. That's okay, at least we still have our daughter. That's okay...(keep repeating it until it takes hold...)

One thing that seems very much like God is winking at us: KayJay was given a $100 fine for "failure to maintain control of the vehicle." (She says Iowa should get a fine for failure to plow the stupid roads 24 hours after a storm.) The God-wink part of that factual fact is that when KayJay went to the garage and cleaned out the car, she found a graduation card in the glove compartment...with a $100 bill in it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Oh say, can you see?

What a weekend! I was on stage, surrounded by students in 3rd-9th grade, and all I could do was cry. Seriously...that's all I was allowed to do aloud. My only line was "Whaaaaaa!"

Perhaps I should explain.


For the past eight years, I've been working with Giant Step Theatre: a children's theatre based in Lakeville, Minnesota. (Visit them at www.myspace.com/giantsteptheatre.) I coach the actors and create the choreography (although we call it "Deweyography," because it's not really possible to get 60 3rd- and 4th-graders dressed like mice to actually...you know...dance) and, whenever possible, have an onstage role as well. (Captain Hook, Sleeping Beauty's father, Snow White's ugly step-mother...)


Well, I was slated to be the Witch from Thataway (Giant Step's twisted version of the Wicked Witch of the West), because the director loves to see me in a dress. The fly in that ointment was the plethora of highly-talented students that showed up at auditions. We had to give the role to a couple high school freshmen who blew our socks off (our shows always have two casts, trading off performances, because we can't get 200 actors on stage at the same time). The blowing off of socks is not something we usually require at auditions, but these gals went the extra mile.


As a consession to my ego, and because the parents of our actors like having a semi-adult-type person involved in the on-stage action -- in case one of the little darlings forgets a line or gets a splinter or has an uncontrollable need to kick someone in the shins -- I was cast as Little Leroy, the youngest Munchkin. (It is a little-known fact that Munchkins are born big and get gradually smaller as they age.) My one scene involves opening a huge present, out of which pops the witch...causing me to wail away as if I had attached all my political dreams to Mitt Romney.

Speaking of huge openings: After three performances, in which I toddle my way onto my feet with my tush pushed toward the audience, one of the parents asked me if I had fixed the hole in the seat of my costume yet. Apparently, I had been doing some inadvertant ads for Fruit of the Loom.

I was so traumatized, it took me two days to compose myself enough to compose this.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

My fellow Americans...

In an effort to truly give the American people a Choice during this election year, I am excited to announce my independent candidacy to become the next President of the United States of America. I intend to run a clean, forthright, and cheap campaign based on an assertion of my stand on the important issues of our times. There will be no mudslinging or muckraking...unless, of course, my worthy opponents resort to their normal procedure of character assasination because they collectively have the intellectual agility of a small soapdish.

Let me take this opportunity to address what may very well be the first question on the minds of those who know anything about my background and experience as a youth pastor: If elected, what role will my faith play in the day-to-day decision-making that is necessary as the President?

Point One: Please remember that the phrase "separation of church and state" is not part of our Constitution.
Point Two: That said, it is true that the concept of "separation of church and state" most definitely is part of our Constitution. However, the idea expressed by the Founding Fathers is freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.
Point Three: A president ought to maximize his strengths, bringing the total of his life experiences to bear on the massive undertaking of leading the nation.

Therefore, if elected, my administration will sponsor several weekend retreats where members of the House and the Senate will brainstorm how best to serve the needs of the country in an atmosphere of openness, honesty, and orange/armpit relays. The budget will be banged out in a marathon Truth or Dare session; promising to get rid of all pork-barrel pet projects. Issues of ethics violations will be dealt with swiftly by meeting with the parents of the offenders. All committee meetings will take place around a campfire with a well-strummed guitar nearby.

The funding for my campaign will come from private donations and candy sales. I will owe allegiance to no special interest group...except perhaps the Hershey, Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce.

The time for change is now. The time to vote is November. The time for lunch is 11:30...12:30 at the latest. Thanks for your support.

I'm Dewey Roth, and I approve this message.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Out of it all

Welcome to Hunter's General Store. If we ain't got it, you don't need it. What can I do for you today?
I'm looking for some sorts.
Some sort of what?
No, you know...some sorts. Do you have any sorts?
Uh...gee...I think we maybe used to carry sorts, but we don't have any now.
You're out of sorts?
Yeah.
Got any whack?
Nope.
Control?
Just sold the last one.

You're telling me that you're running a general store and you're out of sorts, out of whack, and out of control?
That's what I'm telling you.
You must be out of your mind!
Now, that I could give you a piece of.