Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tim Tebow Denounced by Interracial Marriage Opponents

It's been a long while since I wrote a piece of satire, but darn-it! My frustration with Tim Tebow, the conservative Baptists, football, and marriage equality all got wrapped up into one.


Christian Quarterback Tim Tebow Denounced by Interracial Marriage Opponents

LOUISVILLE KY - Following the firestorm that erupted when the Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church in rural Kentucky voted to ban mixed-race couples from joining their congregation, numerous members of the National Association of Freewill Baptist Churches have begun utilizing photographs of the notorious Christian quarterback, Tim Tebow -- often seen in passionate, kissing embraces with exclusively African-American partners – to spearhead their national campaign against interracial marriage. 

More than 40 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court obstructed a Virginia statute barring whites from marrying nonwhites, overturning bans in 15 other states. But while interracial marriages have soared since then, many churches in the South remain largely segregated. 

“Frankly, I have no problem with mixed marriages and we welcome them in our congregation,” reported Freewill Baptist Executive Secretary, Ryan Burden. “But when a handsome, muscular, strapping Christian quarterback such as Tim Tebow who is such a fine spokesman for Christianity and purity is seen time and time again kissing only blacks, well, that gives a confusing message to our young people.” 

Burden paused to collect his thoughts. “I mean, what are our Christian athletes supposed to think when Tebow kisses Demaryius Thomas so hard and with such passion? He's never seen kissin' any white ball players at all! It’s only going to lead to more mixing of the races!” 

To date, the notoriously Christian quarterback, who proclaims he will remain a virgin until marriage, has only been seen kissing African-American team members, holding them in firm, musclebound embraces, then praying on the sidelines. Although Tebow is often photographed in infamous sideline prayer-stance on one knee, he has yet to be spotted in a romantic embrace with any same-race companions.

Heather Kelly, head cheerleader for the University of Florida Gators, had met Tebow on numerous occasions during his tenure with the championship team. “I practically, like, threw myself at him every chance I got, but he was, like, never interested and I, like, kept asking myself, ‘Why?’ Was he, like, not attracted to me? After I saw him, like, only hugging and kissing African American Gators, I, like, knew.”

Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Veteran NFL coach, Les Steckel, was equally perplexed with Tebow’s obvious choice of partners and read from a printed statement: “Tim Tebow has been a fine, upstanding symbol of Christian conservatism to which our young athletes aspire. While we have no problem with racial equality, his obvious proclivity toward partners of the opposite race presents a sudden level of multiculturalism that we, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, have yet the opportunity to embrace.”

Across the South, anti-miscegenation demonstrations continue to spread. Although such movements have been sporadic and miniscule since the 1960s, fundamentalist Christian organizations such as the Freewill Baptists have re-ignited the cause largely due to Tebow’s choice of public displays of affection with exclusively African-American partners on his own team. 

The movement, along with Tebow’s romantic interests, shows no signs of abating. 

© 2011 J. Buckner Wheat

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(Almost) Home for the Holidays

When flying home for the holidays, I always fly to Houston and take the puddle-jumper connection to Victoria, Texas, 150 miles SW of Houston where my mom lives. 

I flew to Houston on Christmas day and ended up at Houston Intercontinental for the next 26 hours after Continental kept cancelling the 30-minute flights to Victoria due to lack of passengers (they kept citing “maintenance” problems.) 

There were no rental cars available to make the 150-mile drive. 

They cancelled my 3:30 pm flight on Christmas day after having delayed it every hour for five hours. Then, they cancelled the last flight out at 9:30 pm. They put us in a hotel that night and placed me on a flight at 3:30 pm the next day. I found out that there were very few passengers on that flight, so I had little assurance that they wouldn't cancel that one too. Finally, I became so frustrated that I just threw in the towel and asked to be flown back to Chicago, which they did.  

Sleigh Ride was incessantly playing in the background while I waited for my flight-in-defeat back to Chicago.

So, I never made it home for the holidays. I was 150 miles from home, but couldn't get there. I spent Christmas day eating bad Mexican food by myself in Terminal A at George W. Bush Intercontinental. Isn't that THE saddest holiday tale EVER?

I've submitted lots of documentation to Continental, requesting compensation due to me according to their own cancellation policies. I was provided with a voucher for $410 after the first flight was cancelled.  After the following flight was cancelled and having to wait an additional 15 hours, I deserve more.  Much more!

I’m a very nice guy, but being a somewhat-obsessive “people-pleaser” has seldom served me well.  So, whenever I need to assert myself, (especially at a board meeting) I always think of this Joan Crawford scene. This is my "go-to" scene. If anything, it provides me with comic relief and, moreover, reminds me of the mindset in which I need to be.

So, if Continental Airlines doesn’t accommodate me by honoring their own cancellation policy, I will go all “Joan Crawford” on them. 

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Friday, December 30, 2011

Déjà Vu

The other night, I happened to notice this Christmas decoration in the lobby of my apartment building. It’s a very impressive gingerbread house:

When I saw that, I instantly felt a little thrill. Something very specific in the core of my memory caused me to get excited over this gingerbread house. I just wanted to remain there and stare at it. (And I did.) It was an uncanny case of déjà vu. 

Then, I realized why I was responding to this gingerbread house so strongly and it made me smile. 

I was four years old and we were visiting my paternal grandparents and great-grandmother, Granny, Poppy, and Big-Mama. Granny had fashioned this incredible castle-cake and I was completely fascinated with it. It was made of cake, of course, but made to look like a castle with cookies, gum drops, ice cream cones, wafers, and peppermints. It was one of the most creative things you’d ever seen. 

Here I am in Big-Mama’s back yard, transfixed by the castle cake. My younger brother, toddling away, obviously having found something else that interested him. 

Even though I was barely four years old – if that much – I can still remember every detail of that castle cake and the exact feeling I had that memorable day so long ago. 

The other night, I was probably standing and staring at the gingerbread house in the lobby of my high-rise in exactly the same pose as I did forty-eight years earlier.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Baggage Claim

Having traveled about the country quite a bit, I’ve realized the value in having just the right piece of baggage for the trip. 

A plain, black carry-on is fine, but once you’re standing at a crowded baggage carousel, you’ll soon realize how many other passengers have baggage that looks just like yours. Once your plain, black piece of baggage is lost, you’ll feel like a dolt telling the airline rep to be on the lookout for a plain, black piece of luggage. 

I used to tie a red bandana to the bottom of mine in order to identify it. That was always a great idea. I could easily spot my bag as it inched its way around to me. Finally the bandana became tattered and barely red at all from all the traveling about. 

I get a chuckle when I see these expensive sets of luggage on display at nice department stores like Macy’s. Here are these gorgeous, color-coordinated, designer sets in maroon and moss-colored paisley print. Sure, that piece would look lovely rolling through the terminal, but that bag is going to be shoved along dirty conveyor belts, dropped onto muddy tarmacs, and crammed into cargo holds along with other nasty pieces of god-knows-what.   

One trip across the Midwest on a snowy night and you’ll find yourself dragging a five-hundred dollar, muddied-up piece of paisley crap through a terminal in Des Moines. 

I took this video at O’Hare on Christmas day after watching pieces of luggage smash into each other and drop to the tarmac. Keep this video in mind when packing that bottle of expensive olive oil you’re bringing as a gift. 

One can practically hear expensive Christmas gifts being smashed to pieces. 

So, after many years of traveling, I’ve come across the perfect piece of luggage. It’s a carry-on piece that comes in hard plastic (can be wiped clean), it comes in black, blue, or brown (I chose blue because I like blue and it’s easy to identify. Isn’t it pretty?

And here’s the best part: It also has a garment bag inside. Wow! Large enough to accommodate a 42-long suit with nary a wrinkle:

I’ve traveled with it and it fits perfectly into the overhead compartment. 

You can order it here at Amazon. Trust me. It’s a great piece of traveling equipment. 

Leave that designer, paisley stuff on display at Macy’s -- where it belongs.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Rental Car

A few days ago, I reserved a rental car for a work-related trip. I usually reserve an economy or standard car, for that suits my needs quite nicely. When I arrived at the car rental place, of course they didn’t have any cars that size, but would I like an SUV for the same price?

Sure. I just needed to get on the road.

I was presented with this huge, black behemoth. An ominous soundtrack playing in the background at that moment would have been appropriate. While checking it for damage, I thought I should check for any small children left behind in steerage.

I carefully eased out of the rental garage, perched high above the street. This vehicle had state-of-the-art everything. Soon, my lower back began sweating and I realized that the seat warmer thought my posterior was cold and needed to be heated. I began poking at the computer screen in the dashboard while trying to negotiate my way through downtown Chicago traffic.

I kept poking at the screen, unable to figure out how to turn the stupid seat-warmer off. My backside was getting braised. Finally, I just had to pull over to figure it out. Trying to keep my butt from being baked was definitely not conducive to traffic safety.

Soon, I was whizzing down Interstate 57. Suddenly, the heater decided I was cold and began toasting the interior of my cruise vessel. Poke, poke, poke. I veered into the other lane. Poke, poke, poke.

So, I pulled over into a Denny’s for some dinner and to try to figure this thing out. But this brilliant monster wasn’t through effing with me yet. As I turned off the ignition, the seat automatically began moving forward. I was being squished in a trash compacter. It was rather alarming.

I guess the seat detected my distress, for it released me after a few seconds. For the next two days, I kept trying to figure out how to control the damn heater. I never did figure it out! -- Much less hooking up an iPod, GPS, or phone. Getting the radio to play and tuned to NPR was a major accomplishment.

This brings me to my point. With all the new laws banning cell phones and texting while driving, I have to tell you that trying to control the simplest features on that monstrosity was a lot more distracting than texting. Our car manufacturers have included so many bells and whistles that they’ve made these vehicles extremely hazardous to drive!

A couple of days later, I had to rent another car and was able to procure a normal-sized Toyota Sentra. The heater was controlled by a simple knob with red on one side, blue on the other.

Trust me. Highway safety in Illinois vastly improved at that point.

Friday, December 16, 2011


I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a sports fan. I just fail to see the intrinsic value in winning a game, much less paying pro athletes billions of dollars to do so. The fact that Tim Tebow prays on the sideline for a touchdown really irks me.  (God should remind Temow that his profession is FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY.)

But this doesn’t mean that I don’t have opinions about sports. As a matter of fact, I think my insights as someone who doesn’t watch them can be pretty, well, insightful.

Let’s take basketball. The court is way too small. You’ve got these giant guys loping back and forth, taking about three steps to make basket after basket. The score is always something like 102 to 100. That’s a lot of baskets.

Then, you’ve got soccer. The field is way too big. These guys run and run and run and never make a goal. The score is always something like Brazil: 1, Uruguay: 0.

Solution: Have the giant basketball guys play on a court the size of a soccer field. That would give these guys some room to display their ball-handling skills. Let the soccer guys play on a field the size of a basketball court. That would really give the goalie a workout and make the game much more exciting. Brazilian fans would have a coronary with their team scoring 102 points. Cheerleaders getting a soccer ball in the face would be an added bonus.

Figure skating: Way too much importance is placed on landing the jumps. That’s all the judges seem to care about. A skater can have perfect form, an incredibly creative routine, but if the poor guy bobbles the landing on a quadruple toe-loop, his career is toast.

Solution: At least half the competitions should have no jumps allowed. That way, the skaters will be judged on what truly matters: Perfect form, artistic routines, skating that actually goes with the music, and sparkly costumes.

Gymnastics: Again, too much emphasis placed on “sticking the landing.” The poor gymnast can do triple-flying flips ten feet above the high bar, but if she wobbles one millimeter during the landing, she loses the medal for the entire Russian team.

Solution: Once the bar routine is finished, the gymnast simply cannon-balls into a tub of water. It’s an easy way of removing all the chalk, not to mention tremendous comedic effect.

Football: It’s so boring! These huge guys huddle-and-plan, huddle-and-plan, the quarterback rams his hands under the crotch of the crouching player, they all smash into each other as hard as they can, and all fall down.

Solution: Flag football only. And no touching or tackling. At all. If anyone touches, there’s a penalty. Such a game would require a lot more skill for all the players and make the game a lot more interesting.

And Tim Tebow would no longer have to manhandle a guy’s junk every Sunday. Praise the Lord.


Saturday, December 10, 2011


I'm here to defend telemarketers. 
Yes, those annoying phone calls we receive during dinner whose caller cheerfully and relentlessly attempts to manipulate us into a sales web of deceit. . . .
. . . Yes, I am going to defend them.

Be really nice to them. . . I was once one of them.

Back in 1987, I had been laid off from my job at a bank in Austin Texas due to cutbacks (A bank which became Bank One, which is now Chase). I was single, frightened, and had no money. Rent and car payments were looming. I took a telemarketing job. 

At first, it seemed like a great way to make the cash that I needed. There was an hourly wage and a big bonus for each sale. Unfortunately, each sale meant that I tricked unsuspecting elderly recipients into receiving a Gold Mastercard with an automatic annual fee of thirty-five dollars: The dialogue was just horrible. . .

"Oh! and Mrs. Johnson, this Gold Mastercard that you've qualified for comes with an extra benefit of free insurance on any rental car, free overnight shipping if you misplace the card, the-usual-annual-of-thirty-five-and is there anything else I can do before getting your Gold Mastercard card to you?

I got another part-time job encouraging votes for a mayoral candidate I knew nothing about.  I even sold season tickets to the Austin Ballet. The Austin Texas Ballet. I was good at it. I kept myself afloat.

Yes, these telemarketing gigs were nothing but scamming money-makers. But I didn't consciously think of that at the time; I was frantic and only trying to make enough cash to pay $390 in monthly rent and keep my tiny Honda CRX from being repossessed.

That's probably what any telemarketer you talk to is only trying to do.

Yes, they are trying to make money off of your gullibility, but that person on the other end of the telephone line is probably only a frightened, unemployed worker who's desperately trying to stay afloat as best they can.

Whenever you find yourself talking to a telemarketer, please try to picture her as your mother, single and desperate, before hanging up on her so rudely.
On the other hand . . .  
Never conduct business on the phone unless you initiate the call!

Repeat after me: "I will never conduct business on the phone unless I initiate the call."

When telemarketers call, simply respond: 
"I only conduct business on the phone if I initiate the call."

There's pretty much nothing they can say in response to that. (It's fun to hear them try.)

Then, be sure to kindly say, "One other thing -- Be sure to place my phone number on your 'do not call' list."

Anyone who calls you should be able to "not call you" if you request it.
Be sure to ask for their name, operator i.d. time & date, and toll-free number to add extra emphasis. There's a $500 fine if they violate your request after 90 days of your documented requisition.
(So, document your request.)

Bottom line: Please nice to telemarketers.
They're unemployed, distressed people.
They're your daughter or mother just trying to stay afloat.
And: Never conduct business on the phone unless you initiate the call.
Pass it on.

Best advice yet: Stop the telemarketing calls from coming in.
It's easy and really effective.
Go online to the government agency where you can register your phone number to NOT receive unsolicited calls. (Renew it every five years.)

Here's the site:

And say "thank you" for this really valuable service announcement.

Click the 'comment' button . . .you know . . . like we used to do seven years ago when we were a civilized people?

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Monday, December 05, 2011


Friday night; Summer 1969:

My younger brother and I had been allowed to stay up and watch the late-night horror movie by ourselves for the first time. Being eight and ten years old, this was a Really Big Deal. The parental figures retired to the back of the house for the night and we were left alone . . . by ourselves . . . in the dark of night.

The movie was a 1954 classic titled Them! in which leftover radioactivity from Los Alamos had caused these ants to become huge and really nasty. (Most horror movies in the 1950s featured radioactivity that cause something to become huge and nasty.)

At first, the viewer never saw the giant ants; only weird, oscillating sounds were heard in the distance across the New Mexico desert. Tracks were found. The suspense built for quite some time as more evidence was found.

My brother and I were getting pretty scared.

Finally, the local sheriff and deputy came across an isolated grocery store that had been ransacked by something really powerful. A dust storm was raging outside, dark and perilous. The deputy went out back to investigate further. All of a sudden, the weird oscillating sound was heard, two gunshots were fired, and the deputy let out a blood-curdling shriek.

Well, that was IT for us! We stared wide-eyed at each other, quickly shut off the TV and we went scampering to the safety of our bedroom. So much for staying up late on a Friday night.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that Them! was being broadcast so I set my Tivo to record it. I wanted to see what became of the giant ants and, hopefully, make it through the entire movie this time.

Yes, the suspense was built pretty masterfully. Then, the terrifying dust-storm scene came on where the deputy met an untimely end. When I was ten, it seemed like my brother and I had been watching it for hours in suspense at that point.

I looked at the Tivo time-marker. It was only at the 17-minute mark.

I called my brother and he remembered that night very well.

“Dude, we only lasted seventeen minutes!”

We had a really good laugh over that.

So, if you ever come across this old classic, give it a watch. By all means, take note where the ant eats the deputy and picture two terrified young boys scuttling off for the safety of their bedroom.

It’ll make you smile.


Friday, December 02, 2011

Morning Scene - Skyscrapers

I like tall buildings.