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  • Dec 28 / 2008
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Your Weekly Politickle

Feel free to publish, post, or pass on Your Weekly Politickle by F.R. Duplantier:

I’m a victim of non-circumstance,
Having gone through the year in a trance.
Maybe 2008
Didn’t turn out so great,
But I’ll soon have another new chance.


For 12 months I had strived to get there,
And at last to the top I drew near;
When I reached the hill’s crown,
The stone rolled right back down,
So I’m starting all over this year.

I resolve not to gain any weight,
I resolve not to ever be late,
I resolve not to get
Any further in debt –
On this single inceptional date!

I’m amazed when the year’s finally through
At the things that I’ve managed to do,
But I can’t understand
Why the things that I planned
Are the things that I never got to.

How I leapt into 2005
And pursued all my plans with such drive!
But it’s now crystal clear
That there’s not enough year
Before 2006 will arrive.

Last week’s limerick:

“Will our nemesis nevermore vex us,
Enrage and appall and perplex us?
Will we not feel the same
When he’s out of the game
In a quiet retirement in Texas?”

  • Dec 27 / 2008
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Trust Me. I Know What I’m Doing.

Sledge Hammer does have a catchy title, a clever premise, funny characters, and a sycophantic laugh track — still, it goes nowhere. Sledge Hammer is Dirty Harry, Mike Hammer, and Fearless Fosdick all rolled into one, but either his aim is off or his gun isn’t loaded, because this show just keeps missing. — “The Season in a Nutshell,” F.R. Duplantier, 1986

sledgeWith a review like the one above, you wouldn’t think I’d have been delighted to receive the first season of Sledge Hammer as a Christmas gift from my daugther Ida, but I was. My nutshell review was based solely on the first episode, before all the comic elements had gelled in the show, or in my perception of it. I was intrigued by the program, however, kept watching, and was soon hooked. When the first season ended with Sledge accidentally detonating a nuclear bomb that destroyed the entire city (the show’s creator was convinced that it would not be renewed and wanted to go out with a bang), I was among the hardcore fans who wondered all summer long how the show would be “revived” in the second season. The solution proved to be ingeniously simple: the words “Five years earlier” supered on the first frame.

I made out like a bandit at Christmas. In addition to Sledge Hammer, I got collections of Three Stooges films from Audrey and Isabel, a fancy new ice bucket from my son Crozet, a new Mr. Boston book from Maxine (the old one was suffering from overuse), and Myers’s rum and cigars from Maria. If you’re thinking all I do is drink, smoke, and watch movies, you get an A+ for perception. It’s a wonderful life.

But wait, there’s more. I also got several nifty things from my wife, Evann: a Three Stooges poster, the complete Thin Man collection on DVD (our video version is suffering the same fate as the old Mr. Boston book), a bottle of Frangelico, and a handtruck. Yes, a handtruck! I’ve always wanted one. A man’s not fully a man without a handtruck — and a polesaw (which I got for Father’s Day). The handtruck will come in handy when it’s time to wheel Dad to bed after the movie.

It’s fun to look back at my review of the 1986 television season, my first and only foray into TV criticism, and see which shows survived and which did not. As I expected, Life with Lucy was an early fatalilty. But Amen, one of the worst shows ever broadcast, somehow prospered, as did Designing Women. Three of my favorites — Matlock, Perfect Strangers, and ALF — did achieve syndication immortality. Sledge Hammer, of course, which I mistakenly panned, has become a cult classic.

  • Dec 25 / 2008
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The Light of the World

jesus-1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light. The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. (John bore witness to him, and cried, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.'”) And from his fulness have we all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known. — John: 1 1-18

  • Dec 24 / 2008
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Yes, Virginia, There Is A Daddy Claus!


Daddy Claus (AKA Père Robért/Bayou Bob)

We’ve never shilled for Santa Claus in our house, nor for the Easter Bunny, nor for any other commercialized Christian travesty. The Tooth Fairy we tolerated, but only because the pretense was so obviously ridiculous that our kids understood from the outset that we were putting them on. We’re not Jehovah’s Witnesses, mind you; it’s just that the true story of Christmas is far more compelling than Clement Moore’s saccharine fabrication, and we didn’t want our kids to learn one day, with disillusionment and a sense of betrayal, that there really is no Santa Claus and their parents had been lying to them  — and worse, to wonder what other things we’d lied about.

A friend related to us once the logical extrapolation her child made when first learning the truth about Santa: “Is God real?” How ironic that Santa should sow the seeds of atheism!

For economic, as well as theological, reasons, we’ve always celebrated Christmas modestly. Not only did we want our kids to understand the true meaning of Christmas; we also lacked the resources to spend extravagantly, even if we’d wanted to. And it seemed absurd to credit what largesse we could afford to some imaginary buffoon in a red clown suit. Thus was “Daddy Claus” born.

  • Dec 23 / 2008
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Amazing Grace

The authentic story of the redeeming power of the Christmas message is nowhere more vividly illustrated than in the incredible life of an English slaver named John Newton. — Wesley Pruden, Washington Times

Having grown up in Mayberry, so to speak, I’ve always loved the hymn “Amazing Grace,” as well as “Rock of Ages” and “Bringing in the Sheep.” When we named our second daughter “Ida Grace,” it took on added meaning. Fr. Paul, the Weyauwega guitar-priest, played it for us at her baptism.

I especially like the line, “that saved a wretch like me.” Wretch is the perfect word for a miserable sinner, and only a repentant one would use it to describe himself. At one point, some squeamish fool saw fit to remove that unpleasantly apt word and the line began showing up in missalettes as “that saved and rescued me.” The period of sissified delicacy seems to have passed, thank God, and we are now back to wretch.

One of my favorite Christmas traditions, linked above, is Wes Pruden’s annual retelling of the extraordinary story behind “Amazing Grace.” It’s well worth reading, year after year.

  • Dec 22 / 2008
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Good Cause

Carver High School athletic director Brian Bordainick sat in the Rue de la Course coffee shop in downtown New Orleans at 6 a.m., six days before Christmas. The lanky, 23-year-old New York native was hunched over his computer, headphones on, trying to respond to the hundreds of e-mails he’d received in the past 24 hours, when an older man walked up to him. Without a hello, the man slapped a $20 bill onto the table. “I really believe in what you’re doing,” the man said. “Get this done.” Then he walked away. — ESPN.com

E+D+R senior partner Mark Ripple, cited in the article excerpted above, is a best buddy of mine from grammar school. Any project he’s involved in is a good project. If you’re so inclined, please contribute.

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