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  • Dec 17 / 2008
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Adios, Casablanca!

casablanca

3143 N. Lindbergh, St. Ann

Sad news: My favorite Greek restaurant is closing.  Casablanca, on Lindbergh Boulevard between Old St. Charles and Dorsett Roads in St. Louis County, serves up the best gyro in town. Their daily specials (plate lunches) are large and hearty, too, and I always meant to try them; but, no matter how determined I was to stray from “the usual,” whenever I opened my mouth to order, the single word “gyro” would come out. Which is just as well, because that’s what I really wanted, anyway.

Casablanca has been my favorite lunch destination for the last two years. It was a nice break from the hellhole I worked in, and I always went back to the office with a smile in my stomach. The one thing I regret is that I drove by the place for eight years wondering if it was a Greek restaurant or not. Casablanca? Probably Mexican, right? That’s what I figured. I love Mexican food, but already have a favorite Mexican place nearby. Plus, it was in this cheesy strip mall, next to a naughty lingerie shop. Not the kind of place I usually hang out.

One day, fortunately, I finally decided to put the mystery to rest. Lo and behold, Casablanca was a Greek restaurant after all, and the gyros were sensational. I’ve eaten there on an almost weekly basis ever since. Some time in the new year, I’ll go for lunch one more time and savor my last gyro — and maybe get half a dozen to go.

  • Dec 16 / 2008
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Merry Christmas, Filthy Dictators!

The Depression — let’s call it what it is — leaves us, well, depressed. But there is very good news from around the world. Our enemies are collapsing under the strain of dropping oil and gas prices. What we had all hoped conservation and off-shore drilling would achieve, the global economic collapse is accomplishing: the defeat of OPEC, Iran, Chavez, Putin and the weakening of the financial underpinnings of Islamist terrorism. In each of these nations, the hold of the dictator is weakening as, one after the other, they face the consequences of dropping oil prices. — Dick Morris

Good news, and good riddance!

  • Dec 16 / 2008
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Falling Through the Ice

There is a thin layer of ice that supports all of us in our daily lives — made up of myths, half-truths, and misconceptions. We walk about on it oblivious to the precariousness of our situation, and to the cold, deadly reality that lurks beneath. — “Falling Through the Ice,” F.R. Duplantier

boat

Winter on the Wolf River: The two minutes of perfect serenity I enjoyed during my summer passages became a forty-minute ordeal.

It was this time of year, maybe even this day, 19 years ago, when I took that last step — and boy was it a doozy! I published an account of my brush with death in a January issue of The New American, the magazine I edited at the time. The following spring, it was republished in The Weyauwega Chronicle, our local weekly. That’s when I discovered that I had committed a macho faux pas.

According to the “Code of the Norsemen,” it’s okay to fall through the ice, but not to acknowledge publicly that one has done so. Most Wisconsin outdoorsmen have had this experience at least once, and with prodding will privately admit to it — but, in public, never! Evidently, it’s considered quite stupid to fall through the ice.

I, however, had at least two legitimate excuses. First, I was from New Orleans and didn’t know the first thing about winter hazards — aside from the folly of licking frozen flagpoles, of course, though I did get my fingers stuck to the inside of my mailbox once, and only once. Second (and this was something I discovered months later), it turned out that there was a dam, and hydroelectric plant, upriver from where I fell through. It was the opening of the dam the night before that had undermined the ice in a relatively shallow section of the river and made it precariously thin where it had been rock solid just the day before. The following year, I knew better than to cross there.

  • Dec 15 / 2008
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What’s the Point of Christmas?

If people do not recognize that God was made man, what is the point of celebrating Christmas? The celebration becomes empty. We Christians must first reaffirm the truth about the Birth of Christ with deep and heartfelt conviction, in order to witness to all the awareness of an unprecedented gift which is not only a treasure for us but for everyone. — Benedict XVI

Viva il papa!

  • Dec 15 / 2008
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Happy Birthday, Bill of Rights!

The Bill of Rights was a guarantee
To protect our rights and our liberty.

Freedom of religion and the press
Are essential to our happiness.

To protect ourselves and our families from harm,
We reserve the right to keep and bear arms.

The unreasonable search is an abomination,
And we will not compel self-incrimination.

Defendants are always presumed innocent.
No excessive bail or punishment.

Today is the 217th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights. The above excerpt from my History Chant is a brief synopsis of its significance. It’s sad to say, but anyone who memorizes the 45 verses of this jump-rope chant will know more about American history and government than the average college graduate — more than the average Congressman, as well.

  • Dec 15 / 2008
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“Social Justice” Masquerade

It is clear that “social justice teaching” does not mean justice as most Americans understand the term. Those who speak of “social justice” mean the United States is an unjust and oppressive society and the solution is for government to “spread the wealth around.” Activists who favor this solution know that influencing public school teachers, who can then influence the rising generation, is the most effective way to disseminate ideas they hope will soon become majority opinion. — Phyllis Schlafly, Education Reporter

I’ve fought for social justice, properly defined, all my life — as did my parents, and grandparents, before me. Nowadays, however, “social justice” has become a euphemism for socialism, concealing its radical, destructive agenda. While most Americans naturally find socialism repugnant, it can be difficult to resist when it masquerades as something noble and compassionate. Oppose any program or proposal that purports to help the poor, or children, and see how quickly you are dismissed as an uncaring ogre. Can you explain how said program or proposal will actually hurt its alleged beneficiaries? It doesn’t matter. You’ve already been demonized and everyone’s stopped listening.

  • Dec 14 / 2008
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Your Weekly Politickle

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

FRONT TEETH
“Thanta, there’th a thpaith
I’d like you to replaith:
I’ll jump with glee
When all can thee
The thmile upon my faith.”

Archive:

EVER PRESENT
All the creches are empty, it’s true,
And I’m waiting for Jesus anew;
Harking back to the Book,
I know now where to look:
I must find the Lord Jesus in you.
(2007)

MERI KURISUMASU
If you find “Frohliche Weihnachten” odd,
“Buon Natale” and “Feliz Navidad,”
Even “Joyeux Noel”
Unfamiliar as well,
“Merry Christmas” should then get the nod.
(2006)

NATIVITY
Tell me how can an innocent Child —
Holy Infant, so tender and mild —
Be the object of scorn
From the moment He’s born:
Rejected, resented, reviled?
(2005)

CLAUSTROPHOBIA
Is there somewhere I can go
That the Santas do not know,
A Santa-free zone
I can call my own
And not hear that “ho ho ho”?
(2005)

YULE GET OVER IT
So what if you feel disempowered
By someone who’s grimaced or glowered?
If you’re frightened to say
“Merry Christmas” today,
You’re simply a Noel coward!
(2004)

MERRY CHRISTMAS, BEDFORD FALLS!
He’s known plenty of struggle and strife,
But George Bailey is blessed with a wife
And family and friends
On whom he depends:
What he has is a wonderful life.
(2002)

KILLJOY
Who but a hardhearted heathen
For some nefarious reason
Would ignore the morn
When our Savior was born
And call Christmas the “holiday season”?
(2002)

Last week’s limerick:

NAUGHTY
“I know just what I want for a gift,
And I’ll throw such a fit if I’m stiffed!
If you fail to come through,
Who knows what I might do?”
The pathetic executive sniffed.

  • Dec 13 / 2008
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Diet Plans that Make a Statement

With health and weight consciousness all the rage, and diet after patented diet plan topping the bestseller list, the pressure on doctors and nutritionists to develop and christen original diet plans is formidable. The pressure has, in fact, extended to laymen, with the result that many a timely tome testifies to an expertise on food that consists wholly of a lifetime of eating it. The regimens published to date, however, possess a disconcerting uniformity. Though their focus may shift from starches to vegetables to proteins, the diets of the day display a consistent lack of imagination. — “Lite Motif,” F.R. Duplantier, 1984

My lampoon of fad diets, excerpted above, appeared in New Orleans Magazine in the summer of 1984 — can’t remember how I talked them into running it. I initially pitched it, unsuccessfully, to several women’s magazines, then switched gears completely and went the academic route. A journal called Obesity and Bariatric Medicine actually did accept it, but suspended publication just prior to the issue in which it would have appeared. Such a pity. I was really looking forward to shocking my doctor-brother with the announcement that I had been published in a medical journal!

If you’re not interested in making a statement and just want to look slimmer, you may prefer my Photoshop Diet.

  • Dec 12 / 2008
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Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pray for Us!

The first year we were married, way back in 1986, my Mom gave us a beautiful wooden carved statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe. She is very special to us and has always held a very special place in our home. In 2002 we discovered how special we are to her. — Evann Duplantier

In a recent post on her own blog, my wife tells the story of how Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in front of our house and brought us a new dear friend who provided our daily bread for several years.

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