Thursday, June 7, 2007

The 'Renewal' Of Allegiance .....

I went to a Soroptimist function recently ... my first ever. (I had quite a good streak going there of never having attended one, too. I guess it had to be broken sometime. Though, I am jealous of an acquaintance that had his 83 year streak broken.) It was a luncheon in honor of an individual for her selfless contributions over the years to the organization.

After a welcome and invocation, we were asked to recite a 'renewal of allegiance' as was customary at Soroptimist's functions.

Can anyone tell me what in the world a 'renewal of allegiance' is? I'd never heard of such a thing. Since being a tot in school, I've always known our salute to the flag of the United States of America as The Pledge of Allegiance. When did Francis Bellamy's 1892 'pledge' become a 'renewal'? Who decided the pledge - officially recognized as the official national pledge in 1945 - was to be revised and recognized as a 'renewal'? Did I go on vacation and miss some history?

It just so happened I was sitting next to a teacher while at the luncheon. I turned and asked him: "When did The Pledge of Allegiance become the 'renewal of allegiance'?"

I was told: "Beats me. I've always known it to be The Pledge of Allegiance."

So. Here we go. Let's put on our thinking caps, shall we? Come on .... get down and dirty with me and and let's see what all this 'renew' and 'renewal' gibberish is all about. Whaddaya say?

Let's see if any of'em apply to 'renewal of allegiance' per the definitions .....

renewal: n. 1. a renewing or being renewed; 2. an instance of renewing or something renewed

renew: n. 1 to make new or as if new again; 2. to give new spiritual strength to; 3. to cause to exist again; reestablish; revive; 4. to begin again; take up again; 5. to replace as as by a fresh supply of

Let's start with 'renewal' .....

renewal, definition #1: 'a renewing or being renewed' What? Did you lose something? Are you renewing your allegiance? This would imply you lost or misplaced it, right? Nope. Doesn't apply .....

renewal, definition #2: 'an instance of renewing or something renewed' Again, did you lose your allegiance to the flag? I don't think so. Nope. Doesn't apply .....

Okay. Here we go with with 'renew' .....

renew, definition #1: 'to make new or as if new again' Unless you got in an accident and lost your memory, I don't think so. Nope. Doesn't apply .....

renew, definition #2: 'to give new spiritual strength to' Who said anything about spirituality in reciting The Pledge Of Allegiance? You're not giving spiritual strength when you do so - you're simply giving your pledge of allegiance to your country. Nope. Doesn't apply .....

renew, definition #3: 'to cause to exist again; reestablish; revive' Again, unless you lost your memory, I don't think so, Tim ..... Nope. Doesn't apply .....

renew, definition #4: 'to begin again; take up again' Well .... to be honest, each time you say The Pledge of Allegiance, you are 'beginning again' to say it. But that's not exactly the meaning of 'begin again' where The Pledge Of Allegiance applies ..... Nope. Doesn't apply .....

renew, definition #5: 'to replace as by a fresh supply of' Yeah, right. There are so many pledge of allegiances out there, even I get confused. Whatter you ... GOOFY?!? Nope. Doesn't apply .....

Bottom Line: Unless aliens came down and wiped your mind clean ... or unless you changed allegiance to a different country then came back to the wonderful U.S. of A., you're not 'renewing' anything when you recite The Pledge of Allegiance.


The Next Day: The Pi├Ęce De Resistance .....

I got through via the phone to the president of this particular chapter of Soroptimists. As nice as I could be, I asked her what the story was with putting in their program the 'Renewal Of Allegiance' as opposed to the correct Pledge Of Allegiance. Her response was that she didn't exactly know. Somewhere down the line someone - another member of the Soroptimists - had told her to do it that way. She stated this person told her 'you're 'renewing' your allegiance to the flag when you're saying it'.

I explained this was just not the case. You aren't renewing anything. You're simply stating a pledge of allegiance to the United States of America when you recite The Pledge of Allegiance. There's no 'renewal' involved; it's a patriotic pledge to your country.

I could just about hear the light bulb above her head come to life. She stated that in light of this conversation (there was more, but you get the gist of it) she would be delving into when and where the Soroptimists had revised The Pledge of Allegiance and she would happily contact me with that information. I told her I would appreciate that, because whoever revised the title was misinformed and dead wrong.

I thanked her for her time and understanding and she thanked me for querying her about the situation.

See? Every once in a while, there's justice in the world.

One person at a time .......................... Ruprecht ( STOP )

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Nailing Those Red-Light Runners - On Bicycles .....

From the 'Opinion' section, 'Letters To The Editor'
The Fresno Bee, Tuesday, May 1, 2007:

This week's sign of the apocalypse -- I was riding my Giant Road bicycle down Willow out by Clovis North and Clovis Hills Community Church. The light right in front of the church was red and there were no cars coming, so I went through the red light on my bicycle.

A California Highway Patrol officer on a motorcycle was sitting at the light and immediately turned on his lights and sirens and pulled me over. I couldn't believe it, he asked for some ID (license) which I didn't have and then lectured me on how I am just like a car and I could be injured and should carry ID etc. ... blah, blah, blah.

He wrote me up and I wish you could see what he put on the ticket.

Violation: ran red light

Vehicle make and model: Giant Bicycle, Black, 2004

Approximate speed: 10 mph

I have to appear in court and take traffic school (do they even have a bike section?) to get it cleared off my record.

I want to be angry, but this was just too funny, so I had to share it with everyone.

This was my first ticket ever.

Joseph Gentry, Fresno


I just had to write in response .....

I am completely amazed at the tone Mr. Gentry took in his note about getting a ticket for disobeying a traffic light and his surprise at getting the ticket for doing so.

What does he 'want to be angry' about? He broke the law and got what he deserved. His prize is a contribution to Fresno city's financial bankroll, a trip to a traffic school of his choice (which he will also have to pay for) and hours of lost time on his part he will never get back. And he thinks this 'was just too funny so I had to share it with everyone.' Yup. It's a laugh riot.

We try to get people - kids especially - to follow the rules of the road and adults flagrantly toss them aside. Ever hear of the term 'Lead By Example'?

Mr. Gentry of Fresno: Let's hope your 'first ticket ever' is your last.

Oh .... and grow up.


Ruprecht ( STOP )

Friday, April 27, 2007

American Idol's Sanjaya ..... Explained .....

I originally published this post at the beginning of April on the American Idol website earlier this month while Sanjaya was still in the running. I think it still applies. So, once again for your dining and dancing pleasure .....


Who remembers these individuals?

... Rudolph Valentino ... Mickey Rooney ... Rudy Vallee ... Frank Sinatra ... Marlon Brando ... Elvis Presley ... Ritchie Valens ... Frankie Avalon ...

You do? Great.

Now ... what do they have in common with the individuals below?

... Ricky Nelson ... Micky Dolenz ... Fabian ... David Cassidy ... Shaun Cassidy ... Bobby Sherman ...

Need more clues? Sure. There're plenty where those came from .....

... Leif Garrett ... Mike Lookinland ... Davey Jones ... Willie Aames ... Scott Baio ... Paula Abdul ... Johnny Depp ... Michael Jackson ... Michael J. Fox ... River Phoenix ... John Stamos ... Molly Ringwald ... Lance Bass ... Christian Slater ... Marky Mark ... Zac Efron ... Corbin Bleu ...

Recognize them? That's right ... each and every one was - or currently is - a teen idol. Ready to add another one to the list? Are you sure? I mean ... are ... you ... REALLY ... sure ... ???

Okay ... here goes:

Sanjaya Malakar

Yup. Sanjaya. The amazing, incomprehensible, cryptic, incredible, head-scratchin', voice-forlorned Idol contestant beloved by many, hated by tons.

Folks .... Sanjaya Malakar is a Teen Idol.

You can run ... you can hide ... you can deny ... you can close your eyes, cover your ears and scream 'la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la' like a little kid throwing a tantrum.

But the fact remains: Sanjaya Malakar is a Teen Idol.

You want proof? He's plastered all over town. He's spoken about at the water cooler. He's blogged about. He's vilified. He's on your big screen. He's recorded. He's made fun of. He's got websites devoted to him - good, bad and indifferent. He's on the bumper sticker on the car in front of you while you wait at the stop sign. See that lunch box over there that kid's carrying? See how he's customized it with Sanjaya's smiling face? 'Entertainment Tonight' is giving him another 15 seconds? Really ... ?!?

Come on ... tell me you haven't thought about making a ton of dough with your own version of a Sanjaya 'Faux Hawk' wig you could put up for sale on eBay.

Bottom Line: He's everywhere. Everywhere. E h v - R e e - W e a r .....

So ... now that we have that fact out in the open and out of the way (I know you're doing your best to deny, deny, deny, but that's okay. Denial is a natural reaction in cases like this .....), let's look at the people voting for Sanjaya. There are six distinctive groups .....

The True Fans ..... No matter what, this group has made a connection with their favorite and they are going to stick by that contestant through thick and thin. Vote, vote, vote ... that's what they do. They're almost rabid, but at least they have a sensibility about themselves.

The Bubble Gum Contingent / The Fanatics ..... Yup. These're the (mostly) girls that read 'Tiger Beat' ... oogle over the photos in 'People' ... swoon at the sight of their favorite radio and television personality ... 'must acquire that Sanjaya memorabilia at whatever cost'. They're rabid, unyielding and you'd better stay out of their way or you'll get trampled. Trust me.

The Underdog Factor ..... It's there. No doubt about it. There is a group of people (and they don't even realize they're in the group and don't care) who simply like to root for the underdog. Like it or not, their votes count, their voices are heard. They're similar to True Fans, but they just like to see the tortoise win rather than the hare.

The Subversive Throngs ..... This crowd is an interesting one. They nay say. They criticize. They complain. They chide. Yet ... they still vote for the contestant that they despise the most, just to 'get the better of the show' ..... or so they think. You see, the reality of the situation is, while they have a voice, they aren't that strong. They puff out their chests and walk around thinking they do, trying to convince every soul they meet that their opinion is the one that counts .... but, in fact, they're just a bunch of bonehead that don't do anything. Some of them vote, but not enough of them to make a difference. They just like you to think they're making a difference. A vocal lot to be sure, but they're really transparent. These are the folks that listen to Howard Stern ... who haunt the 'Bloat More Than Hearse' website (yes, that was a play on words) ... the people that voted for William Hung, etc.

The 'Don't Give A' Rippers ..... As the name implies, this bunch just doesn't give a rip. They say "You know ... I'm gonna vote, but I just don't give a flying squirrel's worth of thought as to who I'm going to vote for. Hmmmmmm. Might was well be Sanjaya ....." And yes, the Rippers' votes contribute in the overall scheme of things ... you bet.

The Craptastics ..... The collection of people making up this band are all of this mind: They can't believe their eyes at what they just saw. They can't believe it keeps going on week after week after week. They can't believe it period. 'So .... how long can Sanjaya go on? Hey! Let's vote for him and see!' This is a weird, faithless bunch and they're similar to the Rippers, but they have a bit more in the mental department than the Subversives who live in their own little weird world. But just barely.

All these groups make up the Idol voting population. Those that don't vote at all aren't in any of the groups above; since they don't vote, it doesn't make any difference where they stand. But those that DO vote, they're up there somewhere in one of those groups.

But wait ... there's more! The thing that started it all! American Idol itself! AI was the thing that got this whole ball rolling. It did it's best to draw you in hook, line and sinker ... and there you are: Complaining on the blogs ... making signs ... tuning in each week ... "Did you hear?"-ing to your coworkers ... sending Sanjaya jokes in those e-mails to your cousin ... making plans for Tuesday night. "Hey! Let's throw an Idol potluck party, invite the whole neighborhood and see what happens tonight!"

So ..... What does all this mean? Between the realization that Sanjaya is indeed a Teen Idol and the groups and the show and the competition and the performances and the voting and the in-your-face, wherever you go saturation?

Well ... that's what's called 'The Sanjaya Effect'. It's everywhere. It's all around us. It's relentless. It's all-encompassing. It's Sanjaya, explained. It's strange, yet it exists. He's still on, right? That's proof of The Sanjaya Effect.

As a matter of fact, it probably slapped you in the face all by its lonesome courtesy of last Tuesday evening's show. Do you remember? You witnessed it shortly after Sanjaya's performance, directly after Simon Cowell offered: "Let's try a different tact: Incredible."

Do you recall his bold comment back to Simon, proof that Sanjaya really gets it? Proof The Sanjaya Effect isn't a figment of our imagination, that it really and truly exists? He said:

"Welcome To The Universe Of Sanjaya!"

I Like Sanjaya ..... Just Because ...................... Ruprecht ( STOP )