Monday, September 8, 2008

Monty Python Influence

Thirty years ago, I saw the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail and last year I took my father to see a production of the musical Spamalot.

Recently, I took a friend and her children to see The Chronicles of Narnia and I found that Monty Python has a very subversive influence. Now, whenever I see something the screen depicting royalty, I can't help but hear an indignant voice in the back of my head saying, 'Some tart handed you a sword of a lake? That's no basis for Executive Authority!'

Clients' Names

I wonder how many of you have ever either heard or said the following to a child who misbehaves, then resorts to the defense of: 'But all the other kids were doing it...' The parental response is always, 'And if all the other kids run and jump off a cliff, would you follow them?' A few days ago, I met a young man in court who would have a great response to that old line. His name was Michael Lemmings.

'OF COURSE if all the other kids run and jump off a cliff, I'd run off the cliff too! I'm one of the LEMMINGS, fer cryin' out loud!'

My pharmacist has an extremely lucky name. He's named Lamberjack. That means that the worst anyone is ever going to say about him is that he's OK.



Let us seek the truth about Sikhs.
Sihks are not sheiks (sheiks are Persian Gulf royalty)
Sikhs do not have to wear a veil- so sikhs can be chic.
Sikhs are all named 'Singh' which means 'Lion'
I'm not lyin', it means 'lion'
The reason all Sikhs have a name in common is because they completely reject the idea of the Hindu caste system- as in, we're all Sikhs, we're all equal.
'Singh' is pronounced 'sing'
Singhs are allowed to sing
Anywhere they want to
Even in prison
So a Singh could sing at Sing Sing.

Sherwood Forest Wildlife Management

It is always interesting and fun to get an Englishman's opinion on American events. (I hope I'm keeping you well-supplied with stories to share with you friends. Am I correct in assuming I'm the only person you know who has spent five years in Alaska? And I've been to Wasilla (Sarah Palin's hometown); very nice place, incidentally.)

Governor Sarah Palin is the Republican nominee for Vice President (interesting aspect of American Constitutional law--you get a chance to be the political equivalent of the Prince of Wales for four years, renewable for another four years) and she has made a bigger splash than any VP nominee in my memory (which goes back to 1960), and probably EVER. While some Democrats have the good grace to simply concede that she is a strong candidate and will be a formidable addition to the Republican ticket, a great many others are really desperate to come up with ANYTHING to discredit her.

One of my favorites is that while she advocates the reduction of Federal spending, but both as mayor of Wasilla, and as Governor of Alaska, she pulled in really big bucks from the Federal government in the form of grants, which is entirely true. So they call her a hypocrite. This is a word that Democrats think they own. However, wouldn't any educated Englishman know that long before America's Founding Fathers were even born, long before Columbus sailed the Ocean blue back in 1492, long before Henry VIII, VII, VI, V, IV...clear back in the days of Richard the Lion-Hearted MORE THAN *800* YEARS AGO- when Robin Hood and Little John were running around in Sherwood Forest. Even then, wasn't it accepted wisdom, and common knowledge that the best gamekeeper is............................................ a reformed poacher?


P.S. That sound you hear in the background is howls from riled Democrats.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Cindy Schoo

When I left home to attend law school at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, my father 'warned' me that I 'was going to get a lot of exposure to the Catholic point of view.' Well before finishing Notre Dame, I came to the conclusion that if you talk with ten Catholics, you are going to get at least eleven different opinions. It came as a bit of a surprise when my Torts Professor, Charles Rice, opened every class with a recital of 'Hail Mary, Full of Grace.' This experience did not make me a Catholic. (Shoot, after three years at Notre Dame, I was still cheering for Ohio State; and that is not going to change!)

One day, Father McCafferty opened class with a prayer. It was one of those nonsectarian, oh Lord, your world is beautiful, help us to do good, etc. numbers. And then he announced that that was the exact same prayer that the Supreme Court had ruled was unconstitutional to have schoolkids recite, way back in the early 60's. I thought to myself, that was just about the most innocuous thing I've ever heard. At that moment, school prayer was not an issue I was going to expend much energy on. Until I heard the story about Cindy Schoo. (Please, no Grinch jokes!)

Cindy Schoo was one my younger brother's girlfriends, raised Jewish, and I heard from Mark that apparently her father had been raised Catholic, and must have had an absolutely terrible experience. When Cindy was little, whenever Mr. Schoo saw a nun 'in habit,' he would say to Cindy 'Look at the witch!' (I only heard this secondhand more than 30 years ago, but it has stuck in my mind.)

My six grade teacher (in '66-'67) was a lady named Mrs. Boggs and I vaguely remember her reading us a prayer on a couple of occasions. OK, earlier this year, we had an unofficial family reunion as the four Mitchell brothers helped Dad move out of the house we grew up in and Dad had lived in since New Year's Day 1960.

While we were together, Mark told me a story that completely amazed me. He had Mrs. Boggs in 6th grade (in '68-'69) and he told me that Mrs. Boggs would sometimes ask kids to read a prayer. And when she asked Cindy Schoo (age 12 at the time) to read a prayer, Cindy would do so, then would go back to her desk, and ask God to forgive her for having done so. I remember Mrs. Boggs as being a very good teacher. After all, any woman who can handle spending 180 days in a classroom with (2 years apart, Bruce Mitchell, Kent Mitchell, and Mark Mitchell), and not wind up in the psychiatric ward can handle just about ANYTHING! I was and am absolutely flabbergasted that anything like that happened in Upper Arlington with out there being a Force Five and half/ Richter scale twelve S**T hurricane/earthquake hitting the fan.

While I'm familiar with the joke that as long as there are math tests, there will always be prayers in the public schools, on the whole, I think the Supreme Court got it right with the ban on prayer in the Public Schools.


Believe it or not!

When reading the following article, I was reminded of the truth of the saying, 'while there are many things too strange to believe, there is nothing too strange to have actually happened.' For the benefit of some e-mail correspondents outside the United States, this might help you understand why a great many Americans (of whom I am one) who will always have a special place in their heart for members of the United States Marine Corps.

USS Lawrence /Wepo

Dear Friends,

I boarded the USS Lawrence (DDG-4) in May of 1989 as a civilian employee of Central Texas College to teach English and History as part of the Navy's PACE program (Program for Afloat College Education). I soon had a brief interview ith the CO of the Lawrence, a gigantic man named...James Brown. (Yep, the Lawrence was sometimes known as the 'I feel good' ship.) Captain Brown was about six foot six and probably weighted a bit more than when played defensive end for the Naval Academy in Annapolis. I bet nobody will guess his professional specialty. Our paths crossed again years later when I taught onboard the USS George Washington (CVN-73). Captain Brown was the officer in charge of the GWs nuclear reactor. Yep, he's a nuclear engineer. (That wasn't your first guess, was it? :) )

Anyhow, I said to Captain Brown that while I thought it was extremely unlikely that it would come up, I'd been trained as an Arabic linguist and I could probably still follow formatted communications. I informed him I was certainly willing to anything I could do to help the ship fight if it came to that. Captain Brown smiled and said, 'I might make you my Wepo' (Weapons Officer). I thought, what the dickens?

Later that day, as I introduced myself to members of the crew, I spoke to a couple of the guys on the Lawrence's 5' mount, and recounted the Captain's comment. A petty officer said to me, 'You'd probably be better than the guy we've got now.' And I thought to myself, a lot of guys on this ship do not think much of the Lawrence's weapons officer.

Over the next few months we cruised out of Norfolk, across the Atlantic, through the Mediterranean, through the Suez Canal, down the Red Sea, across the IO to Singapore, back across the IO to MODLOC (Modified Location) cruising around in a designated box in the Arabian Gulf and 'riding shotgun' for the aircraft carrier, the USS America.

Early one morning, I was still in my bunk, half asleep, when I overheard a conversation beteen my roommate and the Wepo. I distinctly heard the young Lieutenant say something about writing up his letter of resignation. As in resigning his commission. I thought *Whiskey* Tango* Foxtrot* *Oscar*! Later that day I found out what had happened several hours earlier, well before dawn.

OK, folks, here's a pop quiz: you are the Officer of the Deck on a destroyer in the Arabian Sea. It is well past midnight, and well before dawn. The Captain is asleep. Your mission is to screen the carrier America from any possible threat. A unknown ship shows up on your radar, and you radio them, requesting that they ID themselves. Their response is 'We are an Iranian warship ith hostile intent.' Do you:

A. Tell them to do an IMMEDIATE 180-degree turn and get the hockey puck out of your area
B. Wake up the Captain
C. Open fire with every weapon you have (if it turns out they weren't hostile, a few hours later you can pull their Captain out of the ater and say, 'Gee, I guess the joke's on you!'
D. Do absolutely nothing, and let them steam past, giving them a clear shot at the carrier. (Endangering the lives of about five thousand sailors.)

I have spent enough time at sea that not a whole lot surprises me, but I was FLABBERGASTED when I learned that wepo, as the officer of the Deck, had done 'D'. Apparently, some radioman on a freighter had a really warped sense of humor.

He was on the next heliocopter flight off the Lawrence. I don't remember anybody crying as he left.


Sandy Allen - A Tall Tale?

I was saddened to hear that Sandy Allen died a few days ago; she was only a few months older than I am. She has the distinction of being in the Guiness Book of World's Records as the World's Tallest Woman; she topped out at 7'7'. (I guess for someone that tall, it is a miracle she made it into her 50s. The World's Tallest Man ever, Robert Pershing Wadlow, never got to celebrate his 21st birthday.)

Ms. Allen appeared in Fellini's 'Casanova' with Donald Sutherland. Her part was originally written for a cold, uncaring character, but when she showed up on the set, she impressed everyone so much with the sweetness of her personality that they rewrote the part. I'll remember her fondly for her sense of humor; she liked to wear a t-shirt that read 'LIFE IS SHORT- I'M NOT.'
There's one other Sandy Allen story that I think is priceless. There is a young man in the Ukraine with a seriously overactive pituitary gland. He grew to a reported height of 8 feet 4 inches and was on the verge of dying. Suddenly, his pituitary gland shut down. A BBC news crew interviewed him, and he said that he thought that God must be punishing him for being so tall/ or by being tall. (Sorry, folks, my Ukrainian isn't all that good.) Anyhow, Sandy Allen sent him a computer disc, telling, no, that isn't God's punishment on you, that's just the way it is. (People, please refrain from saying 'that was mighty big of her.')

RIP Sandy Allen

Soil Conditions

Two of my of my dearest friends have a son named Bryant, and he makes me feel very middle-aged. That is because I distinctly remember his mom picking him up (in swaddling clothes) and putting him in a stroller. Well, Bryant has just graduated from high school, and the last time they measured him, he'd reached six foot seven. Having had some experience sampling his mom's cooking, I won't be at all surprised if he clears seven feet! (If I don't watch it, the next time I see him, he's likely to bounce me on his knee. :) I called him on his 18th birthday a while back, and asked him if he was getting much 'How's the weather up there?'

He replied, 'Yeah, as a matter of fact...'

So, eager to maintain my standing as World's Coolest Honorary Uncle, I said, "OK, here's what you do: no matter how tempted you may be, do not spit on them and say, 'it's raining'. No. Not good. Instead, just smile and say, 'Fine! How are soil conditions, shorty?' "


Oh, Susanna! (Girlfriend, you are the BEST!)

The following limerick comes to you courtesy of Susanna Miller (Yale '81 and USN ret.) Susanna, you ROCK!

Subject: Re: kentamitchell sent you a video: 'Michael Moore Thanks God for Hurricane Gustav (Countdown)'

Could Michael Moore
be fed to the poor
to fill their hungry hollow?
No, the desperate
know there is $#!t
that even they can't swallow.


It is a source of joy and rejoicing here in Columbus, Ohio, that not only did our beloved Ohio State Buckeyes win their opening game, but our hated archrivals, the University of Michigan Wolverines (aka scUM) lost theirs. I have written a poem to celebrate this occasion:

scUM fans can all shut up

and act like mutes

cuz they got their butts kicked

by the Utah Utes!