Fandango’s Flashback Friday — January 14th

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 14th) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.


This was originally posted on January 14, 2012 on my old blog.

Saab Story

As a former Saab owner, I was disappointed to learn that the Swedish automobile maker was forced to declare bankruptcy and to call it quits. While the Saab was never quite “mainstream,” it was, if nothing else, unique.

It’s hard to believe that it was just over 30 years ago when my wife and I purchased a 1981 Saab 900 Turbo. On paper the Saab was a great car. We were living in New Jersey at the time and needed a car that could maneuver us effectively through the winter snows and the hilly terrain of West Orange.

As the parents of two young children, we found the four door model to be roomy and comfortable for the whole family. And with its powerful turbocharged engine that kicked in at relative low RPMs, it was fast and handled spectacularly.

Despite all of these plusses, there were some serious minuses. We experienced a series of unexplained and nearly unfixable electrical system problems with the Saab. The car would periodically just stop running.

I recall one time having it towed to a nearby gas station. I asked the attendant if he could figure out how to get it going again. Yes, this was back in the day when gas stations, often referred to back then as “service stations,” actually had a mechanic available to work on cars. A gas station was more than just a convenience store that also happened to have a few gas pumps.

The attendant called over the on-duty mechanic, who popped the hood and gazed down at the turbocharged engine. After a few moments he scratched his head and uttered, in a manner that can only be described as a backwater West Virginia-like twang, “What the hell is that?”

“It’s turbocharged,” I replied, trying to sound as if I really knew what that meant.

The mechanic moved his hand to his chin and took on a contemplative look. Then he shook his head from side to side and shrugged his shoulders. “I wouldn’t know where to begin,” he said, clearly unschooled on turbocharged engines, which, I admit, were rarities back in the early 80s.

I learned, after that episode, to have the Saab towed directly to the nearest dealership in the event of future breakdowns. Unfortunately, Saab dealerships were as much of a rarity as were turbocharged engines.

Naturally, another such episode occurred not long after my encounter with the befuddled mechanic. But this time I was on one of my frequent out-of-town business trips. My wife had both of our young kids secured in their car seats and was driving them to or from somewhere when the Saab, once again, simply stopped.

Fortunately, the car was still under warranty and Saab provided roadside assistance service. A tow truck arrived, picked them all up, and drove the three of them, Saab in tow, to the dealership a few towns over from where we lived. It was sort of an adventure for my kids, but my wife was not a happy camper.

Although we loved almost everything about our Saab, it was, at the time, our only car. We needed something that wouldn’t periodically and unpredictably stop running. This last incident with my wife and kids was the final straw, and we made the difficult and sad decision to trade in the Saab for something a little less esoteric and a lot less finicky.

We opted for one of the most boring and ordinary cars on the road at the time, a 1984 Datsun Stanza, the forerunner to the Nissan Altima.

It wasn’t nearly as unique or interesting as the Saab, which has always been a rather quirky vehicle with a small but enthusiastic following. The Stanza lacked style. It was smaller, slower, and didn’t handle nearly as well as the Saab. But if nothing more than ordinary, it was reliable and it never just simply stopped.

Still, I was sorry to learn about Saab’s demise. Despite its obvious quirkiness and some reliability issues, it still holds a soft spot our motoring past. Finding out that Saab is no more was like hearing that a somewhat strange and a bit offbeat acquaintance from your youth, someone you haven’t spoken with or even thought about for years, had passed on.

It’s truly a sob story.

Fandango’s Flashback Friday — January 7th

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 7th) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.


This was originally posted on January 7, 2010 on my old blog.

Liberal Bias

James Cameron’s blockbuster movie, Avatar, is receiving all kinds of criticism from the right. According to ABC News, “From its portrayal of the corporation that wants to take over the natural resources on the planet Pandora — a not-so-subtle allusion to the likes of Halliburton and defense contractor Blackwater — to its distinct religious, anti-war, and pro-environment themes, the film’s political messaging has rubbed many conservatives the wrong way.”

Conservative movie critic John Nolte wrote, “Avatar is a thinly disguised, heavy-handed and simplistic sci-fi fantasy/allegory critical of America from our founding straight through to the Iraq War. It looks like a big-budget animated film with a garish color palette right off a hippie’s tie dye shirt.”

Really, John? Hippies and tie-dyed shirts? OMG, this guy Nolte is so 20th century.

Christian watchdog site Movieguide warns that the film “contains strong environmentalist content and…a strong Marxist overtone.” Quick, hide the impressionable children!

Weekly Standard movie critic John Podhoretz complained about the clearly, in his opinion, anti-American message of the film. “The conclusion asks the audience to root for the defeat of American soldiers at the hands of an insurgency. So it is a deep expression of anti-Americanism.”

Yeah, that’s exactly what I was doing at the end of the movie…rooting for the Taliban and al-Qaida to crush our American military machine. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Some conservative writers say they are outraged by strong religious undertones in the movie. “Like the holiday season itself, the science fiction epic is a crass embodiment of capitalistic excess wrapped around a deeply felt religious message,” wrote conservative writer and blogger Ross Douthat in an op-ed in the New York Times. “Avatar is Cameron’s long apologia for pantheism — a faith that equates God with Nature, and calls humanity into religious communion with the natural world.”

Can you imagine how awful it would be if humanity and the natural world were in harmony?

Of course, there are those who believe that the overarching “message” of Avatar is racist. The movie is being criticized by a small but vocal group of people (isn’t that always the way…some “small but vocal” group) who allege it contains racist themes — the white hero once again saving the primitive, non-white (and in this case, blue) natives.

Okay, so this time it’s not those with black skins, brown skins, yellow skins, or red skins (not the NFL football team) who are being exploited and abused by those arrogant, white, round-eyed bastards. This time it’s those with blue skins (who also happen to be nine feet tall and have tails that plug into horses, birds, and trees) who are the victims of this racist, white sense of supremacy.

The truth is that Avatar, as spectacular as its graphic effects are, is a rather tired retelling of an oft-told story. Like the narratives behind The Last of the Mohicans, Dances with Wolves, or The Last Samurai, for example, Avatar is merely a futuristic variation on those same, previously historical, themes.

Sure, there is a clear analogy in the movie to the 18th and even 19th century U.S. cavalry and its white soldiers and how they invaded the lands of the Native Americans and almost wiped them out as part of the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, but to call the movie racist or anti-American, or to suggest that it’s promoting a liberal political agenda is just silly. It’s a movie. It’s entertainment.

But given how fractured the politics of our society are today, it’s not at all surprising.

Fandango’s Flashback Friday — December 31st

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 31st) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.


This was originally posted on New Year’s Eve in 2017.

Of Balls and Bongs

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The ding on the microwave oven sounded.

“Finally,” said Frank.

“Seriously, it’s about time,” added Phil.

“It seemed to take forever,” noted Lou.

Lou fumbled opening the microwave door and removing the plate overflowing with pizza rolls they just nuked.

Frank carried the plate into the living room and placed it on the coffee table. Phil carried the pitcher of beer. Lou carried the bong. Once everything was in place, Lou picked up the remote and turned on the 65-inch flat screen TV. Then each took a large hit on the bong.

“There it is,” said Frank, pointing to the image of the large crystal ball overlooking New York’s Times Square.

“The countdown is about to start,” added Phil.

“It’s taking forever,” noted Lou.

The countdown continued. “Five. Four. Three. Two. One.” And the large crystal ball overlooking New York’s Times Square started to fall.

“Finally,” said Frank.

“Seriously, it’s about time,” added Phil.

“It’s taking forever,” noted Lou.

Once the ball reached the bottom, the three friends each took another big toke off the bong. Then they clinked their full glasses of beer together and chugged.

“Happy New Year, everyone. 2017 is over,” the announcer on the TV said. “Welcome to 2018!”

“Finally,” said Frank.

“Seriously, it’s about time,” added Phil.

“It seemed to take forever,” noted Lou.


Written for today’s one-word prompt, “finally.”

Fandango’s Flashback Friday — December 24th

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 24th) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.


Being that today is Christmas Eve, I thought it appropriate to reach back to a post from my old blog that I posted on Christmas Eve in 2009.

Christmas Competition

As I compose this on the eve of Christmas, I was struck by the apparent heated competition between two Christmas icons, Jesus and Santa. I remember passing a church a few years ago on my way to work, and a large sign outside of the church asked, “Who is better, Santa Claus or Jesus Christ?” I wasn’t sure if that was supposed to be a rhetorical question or a trick question.

The competition between Santa and Jesus is apparently heating up. According to one site I came across, people in a California neighborhood are upset about a controversial Christmas display a local man constructed. It depicted Jesus holding a shotgun standing over a dead Santa lying on the ground. I guess in that instance, Jesus won.

I discovered another site dedicated exclusively to this competition. This site, “Why Jesus is better than Santa Claus,” is sponsored by Just4kidsmagazine.com, which touts itself as “The First Online Christian Magazine written Just 4 Kids.” So why is Jesus better than Santa? According to this magazine for Christian kids, Santa lives at the North Pole, but Jesus lives everywhere. Santa rides in a sleigh, but Jesus rides on the wind and walks on the water. The list goes on and on and on.

Yet another site I found actually offers helpful instructions to parents faced with the dilemma of explaining to their kids the difference between Santa and Jesus. This is apparently hard work. In fact, the site suggests that “separating Santa from Jesus is one of the hardest tasks a parent will have to do….” Forget about potty training or talking to your kids about sex or drugs, Mom and Dad. This is the biggie.

There are some folks who take this competition very seriously. For example, cuttingedge.org, a site dedicated to “spiritual insights into the New World Order” (yes, the New World Order), warns that Santa is a counterfeit Jesus who has been created to replace Jesus in too many people’s lives. Its article, Jesus Christ vs Santa Claus, claims that Santa Claus is really Satan. Yes, these folks believe that “Satan, the Master Marionette, is pulling the strings above the world, leading adults and children alike away from Jesus Christ and toward Santa Claus.” Honestly, I am not making this shit up!

And one more site, which I promise will be my last link in this post, Christmas Carnivals, confirms this, suggesting that Santa Claus is a well-devised plan, a conspiracy to relegate Jesus to the background.

I never realized the intensity of this rivalry between these iconic characters. Just look at the two posters advertising the Christmas bout shown at the top of this page. It’s the biggest fight since the “Thrilla in Manilla” between heavyweight boxers Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier in 1975.

On the lighter side, an early, controversial cartoon short from the creators of South Park showed a bloody confrontation between Santa Claus and Jesus.

Fortunately, Brian Boitano saved the day for both Jesus and Santa that time. You know, What would Brian Boitano do?

So, to all of you out there who are wondering and worrying about who is better, Jesus or Santa, I say get a life. Seriously. Oh yeah, Happy Festivus.

Fandango’s Flashback Friday — December 17th

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 17th) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.


This was originally posted on December 17, 2017.

Alice B. Toklas Brownies

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Back in the day, I used to be something of a pothead. In my twenties and early thirties I spent many a weekend in a cannabis haze, mesmerized by nature programs on TV or by zoning out on rock albums.

But after a while (like when my wife and I had our first kid), I decided that being in a haze while raising children was not such a good idea. My wife and I went cold turkey and stopped smoking weed pretty much altogether.

By the way, our experience negates the argument that marijuana is addictive. It was harder to quit smoking cigarettes than it was to quit smoking pot. It also demonstrates that marijuana is not a gateway drug, since neither of us has ever done any “hard” drugs like heroin, cocaine, or meth.

Okay, yes, I did drop acid a few times, but that was a whole nuther trip, so to speak.

My wife and I are getting up there in years, and like many aging Baby Boomers, we have our share of aches and pains. And sometimes getting a really solid sleep at night eludes us.

We have a friend who has some medical issues and his doctor prescribed medical marijuana, which is legal in California. When I was telling him about my trouble falling and staying asleep, he brought over some Alice B. Toklas brownies (brownies baked with marijuana in them). “Eat a brownie about an hour before bedtime,” he said. “I promise you’ll sleep like a baby.”

So I did eat a brownie and I did get a great night’s sleep. It was bliss. I fell asleep almost instantly and didn’t wake up until after seven!

I don’t have a prescription from my doctor for medical marijuana, but the good news is that in November 2016, the good citizens of California voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Starting January 5th, I will be able to legally purchase cannabis from my local dispensary.

And I’m looking forward to getting my bliss on. Maybe it will make hearing about how Donald Trump is destroying my country a little more tolerable.


Written for today’s one-word prompt,”bliss.”