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Phil Robertson may not appreciate me writing about his business or his family. I’m what Phil would derisively call a “yuppy.” I don’t own camo, hunt, or have a beard. That’s not to say I’m some granola PETA-type; I’m a devoted carnivore who loves gumbo, fried fish, and even the occasional boudin link. Phil lives off the land and, frankly, doesn’t think very highly of the lifestyle the rest of us non-outdoorsy types choose to live. I dwell comfortably in the suburbs buying my groceries at Kroger where the butcher kindly dresses my meat. In some ways, Phil and I have about as much in common as Snooki and the Pope, which is why it may seem odd that I have been sucked into Phil Robertson’s world via the uber-popular Duck Dynasty reality show.
Phil’s story fascinates me.
Decades ago, Phil kicked his wife and kids out of his house in a drunken rage. Phil was more interested in partying and hunting than parenting. About three months later, he came crawling back to his estranged wife, Miss Kay. Phil desperately wanted his family back. Willie Robertson, Phil’s son and CEO of Duck Commander, writes in his autobiography,
“Fortunately for all of us, Kay was strong enough to forgive Phil and take him back. But she took him back with the following conditions: Phil had to quit drinking and walk away from his rowdy friends.”
It was at this rebuilding point of Phil’s young life that other things began to change as well. Willie writes, “From that day forward, Phil started his study of God’s Word. He attended church several times a week and started going to Bible study nearly every night. He was baptized at the age of twenty-eight and gave up drinking and partying altogether.” Phil’s newfound faith wasn’t a flash-in-the-pan phase. He continued to serve the Lord and grow in his faith. Today, he frequently speaks to men’s groups about Jesus. True to who he is, Phil wears camo to these speaking engagements.
Phil was blessed with, among other things, an entrepreneurial spirit and a vociferous work ethic. Forty years ago, he invented a double reed duck call that he would self-market, self-produce, and grow into a multi-million dollar company known today as Duck Commander. Despite his considerable success in the water fowl hunting industry, Phil and his family are probably better known as tv stars than the hunting world heroes they are.
Last week, 6.5 million Americans joined me as I tuned in to watch the antics of the Duck Dynasty cast. That equates to the largest viewing audience ever on their host network, A&E! Duck Dynasty has spawned a burgeoning industry of T-shirts, bobble heads, and other trinkets that are flying off the shelves of the West Monroe, Louisiana company’s shelves. I’m a proud owner of Uncle Si myself!
Duck Dynasty has become a cultural phenomenon. Phrases like “Happy! Happy! Happy!” and “Hey, Jack!” have become common vernacular. We can’t wait to see what crazy stunt Willie is going to pull. We eat it up when Uncle Si spins his own Vietnam-inspired philosophical maxims. We love it when Kay and Phil act borderline inappropriately frisky. My wife, even though she denies it, has a mini-crush on Jase and his dry wit. Each episode unfolds new adventures of clean fun and insight into the slightly bizarre Louisiana culture that the Robertsons are so proud of. (Note to producers: We want more Mountain Man!)
No doubt, Duck Dynasty is at the pinnacle du jour of popular culture. And I have a theory as to why.
While I enjoy the zany antics of the cast as much as the next fellow, I believe they are not the primary reason for Duck Dynasty’s popularity. I imagine that the hunting theme is also not that big of a deal to most viewers. In fact, the show is really not about hunting at all. I believe the big drawing card for Duck Dynasty is its emphasis on family. Almost every episode has a “plot” that revolves around family relationships and the natural tension they create in life. Whether it be sibling, marital, or parental, these relationships play out before our eyes where people act surprisingly decent and respectful. I believe America is tired of the ”Jerry Springer-ization” that afternoon television has wrought upon us. We are weary of pregnancy tests that tell who the baby’s daddy is and sisters that sleep with their brother-in-law. Most families don’t need to turn on the t.v. to see dysfunction played out; it’s happening next door or maybe even down the hall in their own home. We are exhausted from relationships gone awry, and Duck Dynasty is like some funny, bearded, camouflaged oasis that reminds us that family can work. The cast remind us that we can resolve our differences without screaming and yelling. We don’t have to have a revolving door of serial relationships in our lives that leave us emotionally spent and hollow on the inside. Phil Robertson and his family remind us that family indeed can work.
What Phil would tell you is that family works best when people follow God’s design for it. That means that, at least for the Robertsons, their faith in Jesus guides them on how they should structure their home life. Though the show always ends with the Robertsons praying, their faith is downplayed by the producers. A&E promotes Duck Dynasty with the tag line, “Money. Family. Ducks.” At the newly-opened Duck Commander store, the word “money” has been scratched off of the posters. “They give us these to pass out,” Al Robertson, the only Robertson without a beard, said of the posters. “We ‘X’ out ‘money’ and write in ‘faith.’” Faith is key in understanding the Robertson mentality and why their families work.
My hope is that Duck Dynasty is only beginning a meteoric rise on the cultural scene. We need more messages like the one they present. Numerous shows portray families in non-traditional ways, distorting God’s design. Each of these sitcoms brings a level of acceptance to culture. I’ve discovered that people who laugh through what is wrong very rarely slow down and think through what is right. The Robertson clan gives a much-needed alternative. The traditional family does work. They are swimming against the current of culture in a sea of liberal media bias, but, miraculously enough, they are making it.
I imagine that as long as the Duck Dynasty series remains true to its family roots, its ratings will continue to soar. I have to wonder, though. Did Phil imagine that when he went crawling back to Miss Kay trying to restore his family, that his journey would lead down this path? Could he have understood that he would one day have a rare platform to proclaim the benefit of family to culture where families are unraveling faster than a bullet from his favorite rifle? I doubt he understood all of that back then, but I’m thankful for a bearded man and his family that model faith to a world desperately lacking examples.
It turns out that the most important product Duck Commander markets isn’t duck calls at all – it’s family values rooted in faith.
According to the Bible, we are to do everything to the glory of the Lord. Therefore, everything that we do can be considered an act of worship if done for the Lord. Too often, the world is caught up in tradition, too set in their ways. I say screw conformity. As long as you are using your talents, then go for it. Worship is whatever we make it to be.
Enjoy this video from Caswell, NC, that defines what creative worship is.
“Festivus yes, bagels no”! That is the chant of Kramer when he is forced to work on Festivus. Yes, Fresivus, the holiday for the rest of us. As I recalled in “The Best Way to Kill Christmas Cheer…” I am not the biggest fan of Christmas. In fact, I am a huge Grinch. Instead, I like to celebrate a holiday made famous by Seinfeld.
This will give you a bit more background information…
Festivus is an alternative to the crass commercialization of Christmas, typically celebrated on December 23. It involves The Airing of Grievances (telling your family and friends all the ways they have disappointed you during the year) and does not end until the Feats of Strength (pinning the head of the family/hot of the party) are accomplished. A plain, metal pole is used in lieu of a Christmas tree, because decorations (such as tinsel) is distracting from the true meaning of the holiday.
Every year, my devoted friends throw a Festivus party. I think that it would be a wonderful tradition to start where I live. They get together and give the traditional Festivus gift (that is a gift that no one wants… fruitcake), and share in the traditional Festivus meal… meatloaf.
There are even Festivus songs!
(To the tune of ‘O Christmas Tree’)
O Festivus, O Festivus,
Costanza’s day, for the rest of us.
An aluminum pole, it’s tinsel free,
And feats of strength, who can pin me?
O Festivus, O Festivus,
Costanza’s day, for the rest of us.
No raining blows, for sake of a doll,
Just grievances, aired to you all.
O Festivus, O Festivus,
Costanza’s day, for the rest of us!
The reason why I love Festivus is because it is a fun, counter culture tradition. It is refreshing to be able to enjoy a bit of satire during the holidays. So, why don’t you consider some Festivus party ideas and spread the love of Festivus to you and yours!
It’s easy! All you have to do is follow the chart!
Here’s to a happy Festivus and many Festivus miracles!
“Blast this Christmas music. It’s both joyful AND triumphant.” As I drive down the road, I lament the fact that my favorite radio stations have SOLD OUT and begun to play nothing but Christmas music. I can’t take it! I can’t stand it! The holiday season, Christmas specifically, is just about as happy as a small wild hedgehog breathing its last hedgehog breath. Okay, maybe not quite that dramatic, but you get the point…
I am a GRINCH!
I mean, so much that last year my students changed the words of “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch” to be about me.
In the words of the Grinch, “Ugh. Bleeding hearts of the world UNITE!” You may look at me and thing, “but how can you hate Christmas, its so happy.” Well, lets take a moment and explore it together.
1) Family Issues - Let’s all be good psychologists and take the obvious approach. It’s not because I have deep scaring memories of bad Christmases with my family. My parents did a great job of creating, cultivating and experiencing the Christmas magic. They went out of their way to save up all year so that we could have everything that we wanted on Christmas morning. I remember one Christmas, they hid presents on our porch, rang the doorbell, and convinced my brother and I that we saw the elves run away, leaving us an early present. Another instance of holiday happiness was going to see the Tanglewood Festival of Lights every year. We literally got everything that we asked for, and Christmas morning was a magical morning. All of my family memories are positive… we have to keep exploring.
2) It all starts waaay too early: Shortly after they get done with Halloween, the Christmas crap starts showing up in stores well over 2 months before the actual event! The DAY after Thanksgiving (don’t get me started!) people are out putting up the tacky “yard ornaments.” December technically starts on November 25th in America. Is nothing sacred anymore?
3) The Tree: I am not a crazy, wacko environmentalist person who goes crazy about deforestation and cutting down trees. No, I am a Republican. And I digress. I just don’t understand why people want to put up a tree in their house (which makes a mess) only to decorate it with tons of ugly ornaments. I mean, my grandparents used to have a basement full (and I’m talking shelves lined all of the walls, buckling from the weight) of hallmark ornaments. Now, they are in boxes in my ‘bedroom’ at my parents house… with barely a path left to get to the closet. Trees are something that I’ve never been able to bring myself to spend money on.
4) Gifts: Who doesn’t like free stuff, right? I am bad about spending money on myself as it is. I don’t do it. Unless it is food or coffee, I never buy new clothes, get my car washed, or do any similar things for myself. I’ve never minded getting things for other people, that’s not an issue either. Really, what I think it boils down to is the fact that we as a society already have so much. We have so many things that we don’t use, don’t need, but yet they ‘increase our standard of living’. Really? Really people? I have made it just fine without a microwave, with the shoes that I have, with the clothes in my closet. I don’t need more. And yet, when you tell people that you DON’T WANT ANYTHING FOR CHRISTMAS they make it out to be like you’re some sort of self-righteous zealot. No, I just don’t think that people should spend their hard earned money on me. I appreciate the thought, I do, but I honestly don’t want (or need) anything. I am fine, thank you. (And on a note of irony, my brother LITERALLY just called me to talk about Christmas gifts. You can’t make that shit up).
“And they’ll feast, feast, feast, feast. They’ll eat their Who-Pudding and rare Who-Roast Beast. But that’s something I just cannot stand in the least. Oh, no. I’M SPEAKING IN RHYME!”
5)The fact that people give you a hard time if you’re not SOLD OUT for Christmas. Yes. Try telling someone that you are a self-proclaimed “grinch”, or that you don’t enjoy the Christmas holidays. They will look at you funny, question you and assume that you are an anti-religious happiness hater. Some of the aforementioned adjectives may be true. My intention is not to steal anybody’s joy. On the contrary, my intention is to lead my life, perusal, without encroaching on the happiness of others. Instead, I am isolated and criticized for my lack of Christmas joy. It just isn’t there. And you can’t put it there.
As defined by Urban Dictionary, a Grinch is someone who loves to gripe or complain about stuff peripheral to holidays (e.g. traffic, crowds at the mall, etc.) or a person who incessantly does the aforementioned, year after year.
The reason cited in the book for the Grinch’s intense hatred of Christmas is that his heart was two sizes too small. It is possible that the Grinch hates Christmas because he feels alienated from society due to his nature and strange appearance. This makes him envious and bitter and he strives to ruin happiness around him as he probably feels he has been wronged. Again, I don’t go out of my way to try to ruin the happiness of others. And my heart isn’t two sizes too small. Instead, I think that my answer is fairly simple…
I am a Grinch because I choose to be. I consciously choose not to actively participate in the festivities associated with the holiday season. It’s not that I don’t believe in the reason behind the season, only that I simply don’t care to invest in the fanfare. I’m too tight with my money to buy a tree, too lazy to decorate my house, and too prideful to accept the charity of others. Thus, I don’t get nearly as excited about the holiday season as those around me.
I think that is an accurate, honest, and fair analysis.
So I leave you with this, a wonderful quote from Mr. Cary’s version of “The Grinch”. “That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? That’s what it’s always been *about*. Gifts, gifts… gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts. You wanna know what happens to your gifts? They all come to me. In your garbage. You see what I’m saying? In your *garbage*. I could hang myself with all the bad Christmas neckties I found at the dump. And the avarice… The avarice never ends! “I want golf clubs. I want diamonds. I want a pony so I can ride it twice, get bored and sell it to make glue.” Look, I don’t wanna make waves, but this *whole* Christmas season is… .stupid, stupid, stupid! There is, however, one teeny-tiny Christmas tradition I find quite meaningful… Mistletoe. Now pucker up and kiss it, Whoville!”
In a recent interview, Barbara Walters asked Chris Christie if he was too fat to be president. Who in their right mind would have the gall to ask that question? Check out the article here:
Let us not forget that William Taft, the 27th President of the United States who suffered from severe sleep apnea because of his morbid obesity. Taft weighed 335 pounds. In fact, one embarrassing episode involved Taft becoming stuck in a bath tub in the White House. Taft ordered his aides to use butter to dislodge him. He had a very large tub installed.
Did his weight affect his ability to govern? HELL NO. Taft is the only man who has been the head of 2 of the branches of the Federal Government, as he served as Chief Justice to the US Supreme Court after his presidency.
That being said, Chris Christie should not be discounted because of his weight. If the man can govern, then dammit, let him govern.
Of course, with our society being the way it is, you know that obesity will become an even more political issue.
It is a male sperm whale. It is about 13 meter long.
As for the humpback, it is still alive, but said to be in a very bad condition. The Dutch government has decided to euthanize the animal with a painkiller tonight.
I promise that I will get back to writing soon. In fact, I already have a topic for tonight… Until then, I wanted to share another great website. This one is called Worth1000.com. You can create an account and submit photo shopped pictures into different themed contests. Some of the work is incredible.
“I Ain’t Gonna Drink That”
“The Secret Life of Santa”
I hope that you enjoyed these as much as I did. Don’t be afraid to follow my blog… You never know what I’ll rant about next!
I wanted to share with you one of my favorite websites. Despair.com. This website has become famous for its “Demotivational posters.” Yes, you read that right. All of these are from there. Enjoy!
I turned off my car, as the lights on the trees in Kings Mountain illuminated my face. “Do I really want to do this?” I thought. I waited, nervously, in my car to see who else would show up. As I saw car doors around me close, and the strange, wandering souls that are ‘theater people’ emerge from them, I began to judge. “They look like they’ll be really good!” “He looks more of the part than I do.” With much fear and trepidation, I walked towards the theater, hoping that auditions were on another night. The lighted background of the marquis confirmed my fears. Auditions were tonight.
I walked into the empty theater with the others, and turned right back around to go to the lobby. No one was there. Logically, we knew that we could not be the first ones in the theater, that would make us seem like overzealous theater geeks who are way too serious about community theater. No one wants that label.
But we sat down anyway. And then they came. They. The crazies. There was the short boy who was older than he looked, probably due to some hormonal imbalance. There was the curly blonde mousy-faced girl, who took herself way to seriously. Her sister followed, a shorter version of the blonde, only with a short bob haircut and a wannabe snood. Next came the lady who “dressed the part” for her audition, complete with western vest and braided hair. Then, to my complete and utter people watching pleasure came the hipster girl! Yes, the girl with runs on the front and back of her stocking, high lace up boots and a floral dress, topped off with wet, unkempt hair. This audition had everything it needed. The rest were older folks and the ones who showed up in sweats, all of whom were relatively normal.
We first had to do a script reading, you know, to gauge our acting ability. Now for people like me, who are borderline illiterate when I have to read in front of people, this is difficult. Does it not seem ironic that they want to gauge acting ability based on a cold read from a script that you are unfamiliar with. Especially one completely written in dialect. By George, that is a great idea.
So I read. And I didn’t do half bad. At least, that is my humble opinion. Aside from tripping over a bit of dialect, and not realizing that the director wanted us to read the words of the song (really? Who does that?) I was in the same boat as about everyone else.
Next came the dancing. I want to set the scene for you. Imagine a three legged dog. (For the sake of this example, he shall be named Lucky). Lucky has to learn how to two-step. Yes, two step with three legs… and turn… all at the same time. What happened to Lucky in your mind? Well, that’s about what I looked like on stage. End of story.
The last part of the audition, my strongest suit, was singing. Of course they didn’t have me sing any of the songs of the character that I was auditioning for. Again, logic seemed to be their strength. Instead, we had to sing a few well-known songs from the show. Every person had sung before me. Mouse-faced blonde girl missed quite a few notes and was very nervous. Hipster girl could only hit the notes if they were dropped an octave. (And she swayed back and forth while she sang, like she was imagining herself in an undiscovered local indie band). I like to think that I did well. At least I didn’t miss many notes… and the music director remembered my name. (Which isn’t saying much, because she remembered every single person’s name who auditioned… including mine… so I can accurately make that claim).
It was an interesting experience, overall. It felt as though I was trying to rediscover my “glory days” when I actively participated in theater. It reminded me how much I like to perform, but hate being in the spotlight. (Paradox). And lastly, and most importantly, it reminded me what a gold mine for people watching the community theater setting is. People come out of the wood work to audition for shows that they have never heard of before. They take themselves entirely too seriously. I mean, if this was Broadway, I could understand. But it is COMMUNITY FUCKING THEATER. Not to dis it, because, you know, I am involved in it, but really, let’s get a bit of perspective.
So here’s to landing a principle role and not only getting back into a past-life passion of mine, but to the unfathomable amount of writing material that will manifest itself through interactions with these interesting creatures.