Monday, August 28, 2006

Happy Anniversary

Oops, in my summer lassitude, I missed remarking on the anniversary of this blog. It was August 26,2005, when I made my first, somewhat tentative post. We were about to go to Lucerne, Switzerland, to see and hear our son, Chris, play with his string quartet, Jack, and the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra. (Chris just left yesterday for his third trip to Lucerne. Jack is playing again and Chris will be concertmaster of the orchestra, directed by Pierre Boulez again. We're not going this year because of our expected Korean trip next spring.) On previous trips abroad, I had inflicted my friends with mass emails describing the experience, and I thought a blog would allow those who wanted to read about the trip do so without bothering those who considered my emails spam.

It has been way more fun than I ever expected, even as the focus has shifted over the last year from a travelogue to observations about books, movies, politics and life. My dream had long been by this stage in my life to have retired to the southwestern United States, have purchased a small weekly newspaper and be writing outrageous editorials to stir up the locals. A blog is better. I can stay in a semi-metropolitan area that has an art theater, concerts and plays to entertain me, can still write outrageous pieces and don't have to worry about advertisers pulling their business. (Nevertheless, the Southwest maintains its romantic appeal to my imagination.) I have made many new friends, none of whom I have met in the flesh, but who drop by and leave comments and whose blog sites I keep track of. Many old friends have been kind enough to read my ramblings and leave comments, on the blog or by private emails. Thanks to all of you. Your feedback is what makes this effort worthwhile for me.

I would be remiss if I didn't comment on a couple of other recent significant anniversary mileposts. On August 12 and 13, about 130 of us gathered in Flint, MI to celebrate and renew acquaintances with people who had been there 40 years ago for one reason or another. For me and about 20 others, we had been there to do our public service in hospitals and Goodwill Industries as conscientious objectors. There were others who had just lived in the area and there were a significant number of girls who were there because there were a lot of single boys there. Flint in those days was a much more vibrant place than it is now, with a population about twice what it is now. (See Michael Moore's movie, Roger and Me for details, although things have gotten even worse since that movie was made in 1989.) I had not seen any of the people, except my three friends with whom I get together every October, and their spouses and another friend and his spouse in 40 years. This was a grass roots reunion, the idea for which my friends and I hatched up last October while drinking beer on a back porch outside Atlanta. We started out with hardly any contact information, put together what we had on a spread sheet and then started circulating the spread sheet to everyone who might know someone and gradually the names and addresses got filled in. We had a pig roast on Saturday evening, a concert by our friends, the Whitfords, who are also Flint alumni, and lots of visiting.

The Flint weekend was also the occasion to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. Our wedding was a small affair, in the back yard with only immediate family present. I think my wife has always missed the hoopla of a big wedding with legions of attendants. So, I decided to do hoopla for the anniversary and rented the biggest limousine I have ever seen to take our friends and us to dinner and dancing afterwards. These are our friends, Milt, Mary, Carlene, Marv, Donna and Earl. The men were all in Flint 40 years ago and stayed loosely in touch, but not as a group until two years ago when we started having annual get togethers. All of the men, except Earl, started out life as little Amish boys. At the reunion we sang a song called "Amish Country Blues," a parody of Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash. The parody was originally done by The Electric Amish, a band which used to be on the Bob and Tom radio show out of Indianapolis. I added a couple of verses. Here is the text of the song and then I will conclude this too long post.

I hear that buggy coming,
It’s rolling round the bend.
And I ain’t seen a TV,
Since; I don’t know when.

I’m stuck in Amish country,
And time keeps draggin’ on.
And I won’t ever have call waiting,
I got no telephone.

When I was just a baby,
my Momma told me “Son,
Don’t ever use der engine
To make your buggy run.”
But I drove a car in Goshen
Just to watch it go.
If the preacher hadn’t caught me,
I’d be in Kokomo.

There’s lots of funky people,
Out there a driving cars,
Probably playing CD’s
And watching VCR’s.
But I guess I’m glad I’m Amish,
I got no bills to pay.
Still I wish I had a tractor,
To help me haul this hay.

When I turned 18,
My draft board told me “Son,
You’re gonna give me 2 years
No more having fun.”
But I got a job in Flint,
And soon the time went by,
And then I was a wondring,
Where did it fly.

Well I sold my horse and buggy,
And bought me a big screen TV,
I sat in my Lay–Z-Boy,
And watched MTV.
And I gained 50 pounds,
And had a heart attack.
If I had just stayed Amish,
I wouldn’t have to go back.

Oh, one last thing and then I'll go, I promise. Last week was the occasion of yet another anniversary, the anniversary of my birth, 60 years ago. I was born exactly nine months after my parents' wedding date. Please, don't anyone wish me a "Happy Birthday." I'm too old to enjoy the idea of yet another birthday having snuck up on me.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Traditional Korean Wedding

One of my readers, gnightgirl, (if you haven't read her blog, This Just In you absolutely need to go there and scroll down to read about how she got rid of an overly-friendly drunk in downtown Champaign last week) wonders if my wife and I are going to Korea for our son's traditional Korean wedding next spring. Absolutely! We're even going to rent traditional Korean wedding costumes for the occasion, and I'm going to memorize the traditional Korean blessing recited by the groom's father. I'm not sure what the parents' costumes look like, but Bomina sent us a picture of how the bride and groom dress (photo left). I'm sure our costumes will be along the same lines, except that I will look distinguished, not goofy. One can always hope. Or wish.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Drug-Taking Mennonite Gets Busted

It was big news in Amish and Mennonite communities a few weeks ago when beer-drinking Floyd Landis appeared to have won the Tour de France. Even Landis's devout parents who wouldn't miss church to watch the race on their neighbors' television and who festooned their lawn with "Give God the glory," signs were not immune to the hype. Although God was to be given the glory, they had one sign proclaiming "Floyd's the man."

Now it turns out God wasn't responsible for the glory after all; it was synthetic testosterone that gave Landis the strength for his super-human effort in the race. I'm curious what the signs on the Landis lawn say now: "Don't blame God?" (I must say God has worked his gig pretty well. He gets the credit whenever anything good happens; whenever anything bad happens somebody else gets blamed. I see why George Bush decided to get religion.)

If I sound bitter, I am.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Jeremy and Bomina

Our oldest son, Jeremy, came back from South Korea this week after teaching English over there for four years. We were glad to get him back, particularly after reading the day before he left about the North and South Korean armies trading shots again over the demilitarized zone. He was treated very well by his employer, BCM Educational Group, but he is ready to get on with the next phase of his life, which includes getting his computer network certification at our local community college and then bringing Bomina here to the States to join him. Jeremy and Bomina have been dating for nearly two years and their plans had been for him to go back to Korea next May or June and to get married in a traditional Korean wedding. They decided it would be easier for Bomina to get her visa if they were married now, so they got married in a civil ceremony a few weeks ago, but will still do the traditional wedding next spring. Meanwhile, poor children, they will have to be apart for 10 months, although hopefully, Bomina will be able to come here or Jeremy visit Korea around Christmas time. Bomina is a sweet girl and I think they will be very happy.