December 2008

A Blue Holiday?

There are two ways to look at the holiday season this year in light of the historic economic crisis that is affecting virtually everyone in the US now. The one that seems most common is to focus on the lack of money and/or jobs needed to buy the annual pile of presents, cards, fancy candies and foods that we've always had in past holiday seasons. The result is sadness, frustration, and in some cases violence and crime!

The other way is harder, but so much better. The other way involves choosing to focus on whatever good can be found in the rubble of our bad days. If you can't buy the big fancy gifts the kids want, take them to buy a bunch of small, cheap gifts and then let them give 'em away to other kids who have absolutely nothing! Do it together, an you've given them the greatest gifts of all: your own time and attention, and the warmth that comes from doing good things for others.

If you can't even afford cheap gifts, go carolling or volunteer at a soup kitchen... Do something positive! There will always be someone worse off than you who will truly appreciate even the smallest gesture. If nothing else, go amid the crowds of scowling, grumbling shoppers and just smile at everyone. You might even forget your own problems, if only for a little while.


MrVO On The Go

In spite of (or perhaps due to) the tough economy, the Van Riper vocal chords have been working overtime lately! Here is a sampling of recent jobs: VOs for video celebrations by Team Lowes Racing for Jimmy Johnson's historic third consecutive NASCAR Championship. OK... three in a row? Doesn't sound like it's all "luck", does it!

Back on the microphone for NFL Films, once again. This time it's promoting their involvement with USA Football... a great organization for young American football players, including competition with teams from other countries. The NFL places strong emphasis on helping kids develop good team-building skills and a healthy competitive spirit.


Shopping On Line?

Are you sure you want to get into a crowd of stressed-out shoppers in the current mood of our society? Check out this promo for shopping via the internet.

No S__t!!

I'm always intrigued by the way traditions differ from one country to another. But this story, found in News Of The Weird, takes the prize!

"The Christmas Nativity scenes in northeast Spain's Catalonia region have, for three centuries, featured not only Mary and the Three Wise Men but the ubiquitous "caganer" icon, always portrayed with pants down answering a call of nature (and often so obscured in the scene as to popularize Where's-Waldo-type guessing by children). The origin of the caganer (literally, "pooper") is unclear, but some regard it merely as symbolic of equality (in that everyone has bowel movements). Catalonia is now home to artists who craft statuettes of religious figures poised to relieve themselves, and the franchise extends to renditions of sports figures and celebrities (and even a squatting President Bush). One family in Girona province sells about 25,000 a year, according to a November dispatch in Germany's Der Spiegel. [Spiegel Online, 11-25-08]"

Traffic Control!

Every year, the skies seem to be more and more jammed with objects flying around. One airline even painted one of their planes in a humorous reflection on what could happen if Santa strays into commercial air space!

So, once again, NORAD is jumping to the rescue with their annual on-line Santa tracker. Maybe, with enough kids and young at heart keeping track, we'll all be able to pull the old boy through another tough flight!


My #1 Gift Request

Take the damn blindfold off Lady Justice! Between golden parachutes, senate seats with price tags on 'em, and repeat offenders playing the court system for a fool, I'm getting fed up. The Law seems less about right and wrong and more about who can afford the smartest lawyers. That's not "Justice" in my book.

Happy Chanukah

It's the Holiday Season... not just Christmas. Jews celebrate Chanukah beginning at sundown on the day of the Winter Solstice... the shortest day of the year. Others, such as Pagans and Druids, also have significant holidays in this season, including the more recent addition of Kwanza for those of African descent.

But the majority of celebrants are Christians and Jews. It seems appropriate to look at the origin of the Jewish holiday this year, since it is rooted in a story about survival and God's providence in hard times.

In ancient times, a Syrian king, Antiochus, ordered the Jews to reject their God and worship the Greek gods. A rebellion, led by Judah Maccabee, eventually drove the Syrians away, but their Temple in Jerusalem had been defiled.

After restoring the Temple, they wanted to light the eternal light, known as the N'er Tamid. But only a tiny jug of oil was found... about a day's worth. It would be a week before more oil could be brought.

Somehow, the lamp stayed lit for a full eight days. Chanukah celebrates the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple and the miracle of the oil.

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