Friday, November 28, 2008

The Second Coming: The More Things Change, the More They Are the Same...

By Jim Heffernan

I had a strange dream the other night. It involved the second coming – at least the second coming as far as my religious traditions are concerned. I wouldn’t want to offend anybody for whom it would be the first coming, or no coming at all, but the second coming is a pretty big deal for people who have been brought up in the Christian tradition.

Anyway, in my strange dream, Jesus shows up in our midst looking pretty much the way he always has – beige robe, shoulder-length hair parted in the middle, small beard.

Of course his arrival is greeted with great joy by the millions of his followers worldwide. Many television evangelists were in their glory (aren’t they always?), all of them agreeing on one “pool” message: “We told you so.”

The savior wasted no time in getting right down to the business of saving the world, which is his job. But, like the last time he was on Earth, he needed a little help from, well, call them what you will, a group of disciples or, in more modern terminology, a cabinet. This isn’t the year 30 A.D., you know. Disciples is so First Century. Same with apostles.

Good thing, though, that the original disciples, 11 of whom went on to become saints, were still around heaven, ready at the beck and call of their master, when needed.

So the master got right down to work, making a series of announcements concerning whom he would enlist as his “first team” to help him with his mission.

Wasting no time, he immediately announced that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John would return, serving on his cabinet.

The announcement elicited great excitement at first, but it wasn’t long before some of the TV preachers and others, together with leaders of the great Christian religions, began to grouse and complain.

Many said they expected great change from the second coming and wondered in interviews with the New York Times why the savior was bringing back old names from his first, well, for lack of a better term, administration.

“Peter? Sure, he’s got his own basilica in Rome now, but he didn’t exactly cover himself with glory last time with his denials,” one eminent clergyman told the Times. The clergyman was granted anonymity because he is quite aged and does not want to jeopardize his own admittance into heaven when his time comes.

The biblical quartet of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, while acknowledged to be saintly and able writers and evangelists, are “warmed-over saints,” said the bishop of St. Petersburg. “We need fresh faces, fresh ideas around the returned leader if we are going to get the change he promises,” the bishop went on.

Concerns were expressed also that Paul, while not a member of the original 12, (Judas? Forget about him – won’t be back) might be attacked by terrorists if he tried to journey down the road to Damascus.

Still, as each day passed, the master named more of the old guard to his inner circle – including Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, James and James (the lesser but still in the fold) – and his followers on Earth grew increasingly frustrated with his choices. Billy Graham withheld comment.

Finally, Jesus ascended to a mount to defend his choices, saying, “I am change.”

I wanted to hear more, but I woke up. Crazy dream, huh? You wonder where these things come from.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Giving Thanks...

Suddenly it's nearly Thanksgiving. Guess this holiday season has crept up on me. I've been pretty busy this past week nursing a bad cold, preparing for the family feast on Thursday and, yes, more book stuff. 

Thanks to all who stopped by to say hello and buy a book at the X-Communication booth at the Festival of Trees on Saturday and Sunday. It was a festive and busy event. 

I'm doing some more book signings at events this weekend and hope you'll have a chance to stop by and see me. I'll be at Walden Books (Miller Hill Mall) on Black Friday–the Friday following Thanksgiving–from 2 - 4 pm. Then on Saturday, November 29th, I'll be at Northern Lights Book Store in Canal Park from noon to 1 pm. On Sunday, November 30th, you'll find me at The Bookstore At Fitgers (Fitger's Brewery complex) from noon until 2 pm.  And...just for the record, the 30th of November is also my 40th wedding anniversary date. 

In December I'll be at Barnes and Noble (Saturday, December 6th from 3 - 4 pm); The Bookstore at Fitgers one more time (Sunday, December 14th from noon - 2 pm); and Grandma's Marketplace in Canal Park ( Saturday, December 20th from 1 - 2 pm). 

For those of you living in Grand Rapids or the Iron Range communities, you'll find me and Tony Dierckins, my publisher and author of Crossing the Canal, visiting area book sellers throughout the day on Saturday, December 13th. 

Hope to see you at one of these events! In the meantime…please stay tuned as I intend to share more of my musings with you on this blog. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all! 

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lord Love a Lame Duck...

By Jim Heffernan

Here’s the latest news unfit to print…

Groups representing animal rights and the disabled announced yesterday they are launching an all-out effort to end the U.S. government’s insensitive maligning of handicapped American ducks.

The two groups, backed by the duck advocacy organization Ducks Uninhibited, are petitioning Congress and the executive branch to cease and desist in the use of “lame duck” in describing the remainder of the George W. Bush presidency and the final session of the current Congress.

“We’ve had a bellyful of lame duck this and lame duck that ever since the presidential election,” said Millard M. Merganser, executive vice president of the animal rights group Friends of our Fine Feathered Friends (FFFF). “It’s one thing to shoot ducks, but must we insult them, too?

Merganser was joined at a press conference by Rance G. Fowler of Ducks Uninhibited and S. Francis Drake, representing the Center for the Study of Political Incorrectness and Social Injustice at Tufts University, who said the term “lame” is no longer proper, except when describing poorly wrought theatrical performances or un-amusing jokes.

“When the chickens come home to roost, we must eschew lame ducks or our goose will be cooked,” asserted Merganser.

Fowler appealed to fellow Americans, especially current and past Boy Scouts, to remember to “be kind to our web-footed friends, for a duck may be somebody’s mother.” That quote, he said, is from an old Scouting anthem sung to the tune of “Stars and Stripes Forever” “but it’s as true today as it was in Abraham Lincoln’s day.”

Added FFFF’s Merganser, “If it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck it can’t be a lame duck.”

Getting their ducks in a row, the groups also announced the appointment of Huey, Louie and Dewey Duck as poster children for the campaign to stamp out lame ducks. They are the nephews of Donald and Daisy Duck of Los Angeles, who reared them. Their cousin, Daffy, is not involved in the effort because he really is lame, and Donald Duck’s wealthy but aged uncle, Scrooge McDuck, while ducking the media, has refused to endorse the effort.

Film at 10.

The "Scroll Down" Addition...

If you haven't already noticed, I've added a new section to the blog. Scroll down to the bottom of the page in this section to find older writings that I'm including– just for the fun of it. These will will vary from time to time, so scroll down as the spirit moves you. I'll try to pick columns (not in my book) that seem timely or interesting. If you have a favorite column and I can easily find it, I'll also try to honor your request. In addition to my usual outrageous nonsense, you'll find Duluth history pieces, life of the rich and famous who came to Duluth, more serious slices of life– and more.  The recent elections seemed like a good time to include the column titled, Politics Too Dirty for Words, in the start-up scroll down.  Stay tuned...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Book Launch Event...

Nearly 200 attended the book launch event on Friday evening, November 14 at CSS. It was a festive evening with ample opportunity for socializing, book signing and a fun program. Tom Wilkowski put to tune all verses of my poem, "Cooler Near the Lake," (hence the title of my book) and I talked about my writing and read a couple of picks from my book: "Call of the Child" and The Game of Hockey is a Lot Like Life–Stupid." Tony Dierckins, author of Crossing the Canal–and my publisher, presented visuals along with a fascinating history about the canal and bridge, including interesting folk lore. It was wonderful that so many of you could come and help me celebrate the launching of my book on a busy Friday evening. I was kept pretty occupied signing books and give my apologies to those of you who missed visiting with me. Thank you to all who came and helped to make this book launch a success. Thanks too to Tony and his professional crew who orchestrated it all.  The book is officially launched and the holiday book signing season begins. Hope to see you at your favorite bookstore in the weeks coming up!  Catch these pictures below of this fine event.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Urban Legend Clouds Obama's Birthplace

By Jim Heffernan

It was a chance coming together. We were seated alone in adjacent booths in a small café. I was eating an egg salad sandwich; he had coffee and something I couldn’t recognize. I found out later it was vitriol.

The election was over, but only by about 36 hours. The stranger, reading a newspaper, asked me if I knew the current inflation rate. “It used to be about 3 percent, but I’m not sure how the financial crisis has affected it,” was my answer.

His query opened the door for casual conversation, initiated by him. It was immediately clear that he was not overjoyed at the election of Barack Obama. I believe he believes that America as we have known and loved it has come to an end with the election of Obama to the presidency.

Taxes, he said, will skyrocket. If you like taxes, you’ve got your man.

I said I have never paid much attention to taxes. I haven’t. Never in my adult life has an income tax increase or tax cut had the slightest effect on my standard of living. Not the slightest.

He seemed disgruntled; bitter about the way the election turned out and was looking for a like-minded person – anyone, even a total stranger – to gripe with.

I am not one to confront strangers (they might punch you in the nose), so I smilingly indicated to him that I was not his man. I cheerfully said I had voted for Obama myself, and, come to think of it, in 48 years of voting, I had always cast my presidential ballot for the Democrat.

He looked at me incredulously, as though he was exchanging conversation with someone from another planet – Pluto or, worse yet, Mars.

Then he introduced an issue that had escaped me throughout the entire campaign, but which apparently has had great currency on the blogosphere, which, in spite of having a blog myself, I am not in the habit of regularly perusing.

The issue is this: Thousands – millions? – of people believe that Obama’s candidacy, and now election, is illegal because he was not born in the United States, but rather in Kenya. Never mind that the campaign, back in June, produced a birth certificate from Hawaii showing that Barack Hussein Obama was born there in 1961 (a year after I cast my first presidential ballot – for John F. Kennedy).

Unfortunately, those disposed to believing the Kenya rumor do not believe the birth certificate is authentic. Never mind that other Hawaiian birth certificates of that era are identical to Obama’s. Never mind anything.

My neighbor in the next booth subscribes -- you could say hook, line and sinker -- to the rumor. He told me that the United States Constitution, which stipulates that presidents must be “native born,” is being violated and that the Republic will now crumble because a non-native born president has been elected. “You’ll see.”

It was time for me to depart, so I laughingly pointed out that John McCain was born in Panama, where his father was serving in the U.S. Navy, something I had picked up along the way during the campaign. He was still deemed eligible to be president.

There was a parting shot, initiated by me. I told him that I had received a call the day before the election from someone claiming that Obama was not only a socialist but a Marxist.

It’s true, he boomed. He is a Marxist.

All the better, as far as I’m concerned. I have always embraced the Groucho wing of Marxism. Groucho, about whom it has been said, “saw to it that no conversation went anywhere, or, if anywhere, that it was of maximum unimportance to the human race.”

That about summed up the conversation I’d just had.

*** Check out this link if you're still a doubter....

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Book Update... My book, Cooler Near the Lake, is now on the shelves of area bookstores. On line book orders are also ready to process on the publisher's web site:

You might notice that I'm a bit distracted today by the book coming out. So stay tuned because my fingers get itchy to write about other stuff... Jim