Memes of New York

someecards meme creation for facebook

I have always been a big fan of the late, great Dave Barry. I say late because, as of the writing of this post, he is fifteen years late responding to my fan mail. Seriously though, his writing style has been truly inspirational to me. Every word so carefully crafted, it’s as if his filter was not a six pack of Budweiser, but a chain mail of brilliance. A lot of what made his writing so ingenious was his ability to pull together the most random of objects or discussion points, find a hidden link and tie them together to a wonderfully resounding denouement.

In the hopes of following in his steps, I want to talk about the memes that have recently been littering my Facebook news feed (I am referring to the images with a clever quote overlaid ..or something like that). Where did this phenomenon originate? Who came up with this crazy thing? To find out, I decided to use some investigative journalism. [Note to the IRS: Yes, it has been a long time since I’ve done any investigative journalism, but if you take a look at my previous articles, you will see I definitely do it for business reasons.] This time, my professional journalistic nature took me to the grand city of New York.

For those of you who have not yet been to New York City, let me tell you a bit about this wonderfully stuffed berg. It houses two of the most hated baseball teams in the Major Leagues and is the only logical city for Spiderman to sling around in. Let’s be honest – imagine if Spiderman lived in Omaha, NE. All he could do would be to spin a huge net between the Woodmen Tower and the First National Bank Building. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think he’d be very effective that way unless criminals were sling shooting themselves through the air.

Back to New York. While there, I ran into the tremendously helpful Jolene Smithers. When asked about her knowledge of the funny card corporation, Someecards, she excitedly responded, “Who?” To help jog her memory, I told her I was talking about those funny cards that get passed around a lot on Facebook. Now clear on what I was asking about, she said, “Oh, I don’t do that Facebook thing. Sorry.” That confirms only 1 of the 18 million people living in New York are not familiar with these memes, proving these are obviously significant no matter where you live.

Why does this matter? It matters because these memes are so completely helpful to our daily life. Thousands of barely surviving business struggle on Facebook trying to provide relevant and informative information to their constituent base, but they’re not doing anything for the gazillion Facebookers out there; nobody cares about helpful information anymore – mindless entertainment is the way to go! I could not agree more, as I am certainly a huge fan of mindless entertainment. I must say though that I am not a fan of the letter games going around; I’ve spent all day trying to figure out how many states do not have any vowels and I’m now way behind on work.

That is why I am so fond of Dave Barry’s work; his mind is as disconnected as mine and he doesn’t use words more complicated than “potato”. I’m pretty sure if they had memes back in the 80s, he would have become a millionaire (but only if he had been the one to invent them). [Note to the IRS: I admit this does not seem like a lot of research for an entire trip to New York, but I can assure you that I have more crackpot investigations to come; such as, what would happen if the Incredible Hulk got trapped in the subway? Or, what exactly does crab juice taste like? Trust me, there is a ton more where that came from.]

someecards meme creation for facebook

Advertisements

I’m Done Wasting My Life; Time to Lose It

Yesterday I finished reading John Piper’s Risk is Right. It’s not a huge book, but I took my time with it, as due to the circumstances in which I received it, I felt it worth savoring slowly. I received it about a week prior, the afternoon after I quit my job. It was sent in the mail to me as a gift from two very close friends back in Omaha. For the three weeks leading up to leaving my job I battled constantly the idea of risk vs. wisdom. I have been feeling the call of God to start inching my way towards ministry again (He may or may not want me to be inching along, but currently that is my pace).

I left full time ministry 10 years ago and until last January never looked back. Based on prodding from my mentor in Seattle, the thought and opportunity to come back into church service has begun to bud. Even though I came very close to a job offer at our church in Seattle, it was not to be, and God led Nita and I down to south Florida. It was there he brought me to Cape Alliance. On our first day of visiting, they announced that was the last day of their Associate Pastor whom would not be replaced by paid staff. One of his main duties was the youth group. God spoke and here we are leading an entire youth group.

Upon our arrival to Fort Myers, both Nita and I graciously landed jobs quickly so that we could get our feet set. It is now seven months later and I am back in the job hunting mode again. At least this time we have no intention of moving. This is not a story about what happened at the job, and though it had a lot to do with circumstances surrounding working there, my battles over the last month have been about taking the next step in my faith. Maybe that meant moving a few inches at once, maybe just one, but it has certainly been a battle.

Conventional wisdom taught me to never quit a job without another one lined up. That has only been magnified under the current economic stress. But I felt a continuing nod to end my career in sales and open myself back to the world of giving, whether in church or at least non-profit service. With building pressure on every side, I became forced to make a decision: either stay where I am and close my heart to God’s pull or step out in faith. I have always desired control, even more so over myself. God kept tugging on me to let Him supply our needs and live on faith. One easy way to try that would be to give up an income…

Thus, last week I either did the stupidest thing ever or made one of my biggest leaps of faith. That said, I am being responsible and job hunting with fervor, but I have noticed that my faith and desire to trust in God’s leading for the next step is growing. There is where the book comes in. Arriving at the perfect time from friends that I trust with my life and who know on infinite levels more than me what it means to live on faith, I opened the pages and was impacted with the nature and power of risk immediately. The story of Joab and Abishai in 2 Samuel 10 was particularly convicting.

“Joab saw that there were battle lines in front of him and behind him; so he selected some of the best troops in Israel and deployed them against the Arameans. He put the rest of the men under the command of Abishai his brother and deployed them against the Ammonites. Joab said, ‘If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you are to come to my rescue; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will come to rescue you. Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight.'” (2 Samuel 10:9-12)

We are called to do our absolute best with the talents, knowledge and strength given to us, but the lesson here is that God controls the outcome. The LORD will do what is good in His sight. I do not know what will happen, but I know that Nita and I have placed our lives in the center of His hands and am confident He has a good plan for us…granted, that plan may not be on this side of heaven. We’ll just have to travel on this journey and see where it goes.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

In case anyone is curious, though I am fully confident in God, do not be misled. The only times my knees are not shaking is when I am on them praying. Which, at this point, is often. Lastly, let me send a shout out to my friends Lee and Chelsea, the ones who sent me this book. They live on risk daily as they are paid by faith support through their college ministry, Cru. Follow the link to learn more about them and consider supporting them. Their first child is only a few months old and they are adopting 3 more children this summer. I’m afraid Nita and I still have a lot to learn…

riskisright

Skewers, Popcorn, and Other Things to Tar and Feather

Lately I feel as if I am in a rather intense malaise. There’s nothing right now to fight for; nothing to stand up against. Of course, I could choose to fight the good fights, against such evil foes as world hunger, terrorism, or the boy band epidemic, but to be honest those topics have become a kind of “old news”. What I need is something I can sink my teeth into—something more interesting than the zany exploits of the late Rosa Parks (I believe she’s scheduled for a sit-in at Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman’s house), but not as controversial as the European dollar (I’ll show them what they can do with their multi-colored money). No, I need to pick up the fight against something that really matters; something that will make people stop on the street when I pass by and say “Who is that?” I’m going to stand up for the fight against the terrible injustice of fiction.

Recently, an alert reader sent me an article from Fox News about the upcoming movie, The Da Vinci Code. “Anger over ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ premiering Wednesday at the Cannes Film Festival, escalated Tuesday as Christian groups from South Korea, Thailand, Greece and India planned boycotts, a hunger strike and attempts to block or shorten screenings”. It appears that numerous Christian groups are attempting to block the viewing of that movie in their respective countries. To them I say “Who are you?”

In some countries, they have even gone to the courts to try and force this movie out of the theaters. I think it’s wonderful that these groups have found something so worthwhile to spend their time on. Since the story is fictional, thus made up entirely in the author’s head, it should be banned from all places public and Dan Brown (the author of the book) should be strung up by his code-breaking fingertips to be tarred and feathered. I’ll be there, standing in the front row eating popcorn. But not the plain kind, I prefer my popcorn with salt and extra butter.

And I won’t be coming alone to the lynching either, I’ll be bringing the real culprit of this movie fiasco—Richie Cunningham. To some of you he might be known as Opie Taylor, Ron Howard, or that annoying guy who directed Russell Crowe in that movie about a crazy mathematician who won a noble prize for being a boxer during the Great Depression. But then again, Mr. Howard’s just the director. I’m personally outraged that Forrest Gump would abandon the flattop and don a shoulder-length poof as main character in The Da Vinci Code. Besides, who’s going to believe that Forrest is actually that smart? “Breaking Bible codes is like a box of chocolates; you never know who’s going to get tired of this movie quote.”

As disturbing as that news is, there are even more important things to fight against, such as the growth of the evil empire known by the public as Fox News. It’s owned by a man named Rupert Murdoch (a.k.a. Darth Vader), who is known internationally as the only man who can belch the entire alphabet while bankrupting millionaires, and break-dance to a Justin Timberlake song all at the same time. Then again, no one is really sure whether he is actually break-dancing to the song or undergoing a series of violent seizures due to intense shudders from hearing something so unmusical. Yet it’s common knowledge that Mr. Murdoch is very multi-talented. In fact, he has been very busy these days acquiring the rights to own things such as the personal web-page phenomenon Myspace (“Satisfying the porn market for the age 6-12 demographic”) as well as purchasing Hillary Clinton. The transition from Democrat to Republican just got expensive.

According to the Seattle Times, “Media mogul Rupert Murdoch, whose Fox News Channel and other conservative news outlets have been skewering Hillary Rodham Clinton for years, will host a summer fundraiser for the Democratic senator, mystifying some observers and enraging others.” This absolutely drives me batty. Who does a skewer anymore? Everyone knows that barbecue is all the rage today. If his fundraiser is going to be successful, he better take the skewer off the menu. Concerning the choice of menu, Liberal blogger David Sirota complained: “The brazenness of this move is almost too much to stomach.” Oh well, I guess that’s what you get from a man who break dances to Justin Timberlake.

Now that I think about it, my malaise is simmering down to a low-level boredom, yet which can easily be brought up to a boil at the mere thought of getting on another airplane. Where else are Americans willing to pay so much to be herded in and out of tiny cylindrical tubes with wings, all the while at the leisure of the flight attendant? This topic may just be enough to make me explode, but that would cause quite a mess. I’ll save that for another column, but before I go, let me persuade you to join the fight for the most important cause known to humanity—something that effects more Americans than can be counted: spontaneous combustion. It can happen anytime, anywhere, and for seemingly no reason at all (yet I would avoid lighting a match near Aunt Betty after she spent two hours in the bathroom turning her hair into a permanent sculpture). It could even happen to…..BOOM

My Literary License Should Be Revoked

I write humor columns.  I feel I should clarify this, as there have been numerous responses to some of my previous columns, stating a moderate level of worry about some of my “anecdotal one-liners”.  Apparently, some people feel that I am trying to push a hidden agenda behind the humor.  Let me say this: they are absolutely correct.  Since my code has been cracked (Dan Brown would be proud of you), I will honestly and straightforwardly let you all in on my secret agenda.  My goal is world domination.  And my plan is to take over the planet by placing subliminal, subversive messages in my humor columns, and gradually, over say forty or fifty years, the world will know me as their all-knowing ruler (I suggest President Bush raise the security level to chartreuse).

Actually, I’m kidding.  It will probably take more like sixty-five years for the subliminal messages to take effect.  Okay, I’m not planning to take over the world (but I may go after France, I hear they’re not big on fighting).  In truth, my first paragraph was a joke, except of course for the first sentence.  Then again, a few of you may have thought that was a joke as well.  Since I care so much about my adoring fan base, I wanted to help make sure that each perfectly-timed (I have yet to time a joke right), witty (rarely are my jokes witty) statement does not go unnoticed.   In order to help everyone know when I am making a joke, I am going to discuss two recent news items, one of which is very serious and should not be made light of, while the other would be well-suited for a punch-line at an orthodontist convention.  Hopefully the juxtaposition of these two stories will make it possible to understand the idiom of my own personal humor.  The first story is about proposed Nebraska legislation to segregate public schools.  Since this is a very serious topic, I will make no jokes and report it as an actual journalist (which means that there will be no “potty” jokes; though I can’t guarantee I won’t use the word “snozberries”).

Lately, the Omaha Public School District has been engaged in a debate over district re-alignment.  Their goal is to annex the Millard and Elkhorn school districts, thus making Omaha “One City, One School District”.  To me, that sounds very similar to Adolf Hitler “One World, One Style of Moustache”.  I can’t believe this is being fought in our state’s mini-congress (“Trying to be as useless as the real Congress”), but it gets worse.  In a reactionary measure, one of the city districts gave an opposing proposition for Omaha to split the current public school district into three separate districts, based upon locality.  There would be a west Omaha district, as well as a south and a north, and what school your child went to was dependant upon your location in the city.  Basically, this would divide Omaha into three different races.  And this week it was passed and signed by the Governor!  Personally, I think this is a wonderful idea.  I mean, segregation worked before (just ask Rosa Parks), and maybe it could work again!   But I don’t think it should be divided by race.  I think it should be divided by extra-curricular activities.  I grew up in Omaha, and although this is not a geographical or racial distinction, I think the best way to keep similar people together is to separate students by their favorite activity.  Here are a few suggestions for activity separation: athletes (“2+2=my jock strap”), nerds (“Pocket Protectors and Their Validity in Today’s World Market”), rebels, and budding pornographers.  That probably wouldn’t work (everyone would want to be in the budding pornographers district), but I doubt anything will change soon anyway, because Nebraska’s legislature is very good at imitating their national counter-part.

This brings me to my next important story.  A few years ago, Dan Brown wrote a novel entitled The DaVinci Code.    Since I know that most of my readers prefer truth to lies, I doubt many of you have read his fiction, but none-the-less it has stirred up controversy.  This is mainly due to the fact that he scented the pages in his book to smell like marijuana to entice more readers.  Actually, it’s because this summer his book will be presented by Hollywood on the silver screen.  The reason people are upset about this is because many citizens in this country feel that Dan Brown overstepped his literary license by adding things to The Bible in order to fit his story (prepare the tar and feathers).  His plot has something to do with the protagonist using secret codes found in The Bible to solve a murder mystery.  How dare an author make up something to use in a fictional story!  This absolutely appalls me.  Not once in my writings have I ever made up something just to sell copies, and as an author, I feel he should be banned from writing for the rest of his life.  He should become a journalist.

I think it is a horrible crime on humanity when authors twist real events in order to make the story work.  The sad truth is that nearly everyone does it.  In fact, this treachery even goes back to John Wayne.  His military performances had no basis in reality; if they did, not one country would have dared to oppose “The Duke”.  And everyone knows that when King Kong made his real life appearance in the thirties, the stage was set up outside on the river, not in a theater on Broadway!  I definitely believe that Dan Brown’s literary license should be revoked.  And while they’re at it, they should probably take mine away as well.  I admit to you that I did tell a lie (only one) in this column.  The pages in The DaVinci Code were not scented like marijuana; that would be ludicrous.  They were flavored with snozberries.  Really, taste it.  I’m not making it up.

Much Ado About Omaha

I live in Omaha, Nebraska (by the way, Katie Couric, Nebraska is in the United States, not Uzbekistan), and I’m supposed to tell you how great a place it is to visit. But before you rush over to your local banker and withdrawal all your money just to run out on the road and throw it in the face of some random driver who is swerving to hit you, hear me out. Omaha is not a big deal. Omaha is, in fact, the littlest deal I can think of. You are all honest, hard-working type individuals, relentlessly skimming away the profits of your bureaucratic and uselessly large corporations, and I want to level with all of you who dream of visiting the bustling tourist trap that is Omaha. It’s nothing special. Sure, we have the eighth largest concert venue in the world and are home to one of the best underground music scenes in the country, but that’s nothing! The people in this town all speak in one large, audible voice and with all their hearts want to tell you “meh”.

Despite the urges of countless Omaha denizens, many of you may have already cashed in your frequent flyer miles and ditched out on extended family vacations in order to enjoy the lush humidity and over-sized nests of mosquitoes in this fair town, but stop now and heed my crucial advice: don’t come to Omaha! Anyone who’s lived here longer than a nano second will tell you exactly the same thing: “There’s nothing to do in this town.” You may try to squash their apathy with a well-timed comment about the College World Series, or retort with the fact that Omaha’s theater community is where many of Hollywood’s best and brightest call home. Listen to the locals; they’re right and they care (despite their complete lack of interest). Allow me to suggest a top-notch summer activity that will accomplish the same goal as a real vacation: it will deplete every penny you have and leave you feeling completely exhausted, frustrated and stressed-out.

Instead of visiting the historic Old Market, or relaxing at one of the numerous high-class country clubs that Omaha provides, stay at home and try out a new awesome summer idea: plan a fake wedding! What better way is there to take away any chance of peace and comfort that an unplanned summer might provide, and use of every cent in your checking account at the same time? You are probably thinking to yourself that planning a wedding may be splendid fun, but you’re concerned because then you’d actually have to spend the rest of your life with the other person. Well folks, this is no longer a problem!

Thanks to a reader of mine named Dorothy Harris who sent me a wonderful article from the Dennison Sun Times (“Always a Dull Moment”) in Dennison, Iowa, I learned of a woman who, every July for the past fifteen years, planned and hosted a spectacular wedding ceremony and reception in her back-yard. Never was one detail missed. The cake was the richest and most delicate chocolate, covered in a frosting that looked as if it were pulled from a cloud. Flowers guided you along a path of exquisite beauty, and everyone danced until the sun rose the following morning. Here’s the key to her success: she’s not married, nor has she ever been. At her weddings, there is no actual marriage! The “service” part of the wedding encompasses a lovely reading of the dinner menu, to be held later. And your guests won’t care if there’s no actual nuptials; most likely they are just there for the free drinks.

Thus, I have a lovely suggestion for you. Get engaged! Who cares if you never actually make it down the aisle, you’ll gain more enjoyment planning the wedding than actually attending it. Trust me, I’ve done it twice and it’s way more fun than chasing your inebriated uncle through the park while trying to get him to put his pants back on. So this summer, instead of wasting your time by miserably pacing through the exhibits at the Joslyn Art Museum, or sulking through a dramatic performance of Romeo and Juilet at Shakespeare on the Green, go find yourself that all-important boyfriend or girlfriend and propose. Shop for the perfect dress, interview every caterer in town, scream your way through seventeen different florists, and then break up with your significant other just before you say “I do”. Your guests will be singing your praises all the way through the eighty-fifth box of supermarket champagne. There is no better or more deeply enriching way to pass the dog days of summer; that is unless you can get hired as Dan Rather’s replacement on the CBS Evening News (“Knowledge of current events is optional”).

So what should you do with your summer this year? The truth is I don’t really care. Actually, that’s not true. Despite there being absolutely no reason to visit my home town, I hope you come. I hope everyone comes. I hope that so many people visit Omaha that our streets turn into clogged arteries making my blood pressure rise high enough to make an aneurism seem like a day at the beach. And I hope you see me, which you will, as I will be the guy stuck in traffic next to you on the interstate screaming at the top of his lungs while our friends on the road construction crew (“your tax dollars at play”) take their mandatory fifteen minute break (which oddly enough occurs every ten minutes). I look forward to seeing you, and who knows, maybe we’ll get along and decide to kick off this summer of fun by planning a wedding together. Don’t worry, we’ll break up before any papers are signed, and you’ll be back home by the end of the summer; tired, angry and missing your twelve inch by twelve inch cubicle. And just like with every broken engagement, your passionate hatred of me will keep you warm through those long winter months. It will be absolutely wonderful.

After a second thought, maybe I’ll just go to France. I think that’s somewhere off the coast of Australia.