Monday, March 28, 2022

Oscars 2022

Last night, Hollywood held their annual celebration of film and filmmakers, hosting the 94th annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theater. The event held many bright spots, including Ariana DeBose being awarded the Best Supporting Actress Award, the first queer person of color to receive such an award, Tony Kotsur being awarded the Best Supporting Actor Award, the first deaf actor to receive such an award and only the second deaf performer to be recognized (after his costar Marlee Matlin), Kenneth Branagh receiving his first award for the screenplay of Belfast, Hans Zimmer receiving his second award for the score to Dune, and for all the love Coda received including Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture.

For sure, the telecast had its fair share of cringeworthy and head scratching moments even early in the program. A multitude of jokes from the three hosts, Wanda Sykes, Amy Schumer, and Regina Hall, that fell flat. The decision to have extreme sports stars Tony Hawk, Kelly Slater, and Shaun White introduce the 60th anniversary of the Bond films. The awkward insertion of the eight categories they cut from live broadcast. And viewed as a whole, the telecast was still a bloated, awkward, and even mean-spirited event. The strange decision of having an upbeat gospel choir perform the memoriam, the recognition of the 28th anniversary of Pulp Fiction, and the promise of the first live performance of the current hit We Don’t Talk About Bruno, which was anything but.

None of that really matters, though. Last night’s celebration will be remembered for Will Smith battering Chris Rock during the broadcast, and the heated exchange that followed.

(As an aside, from a legal-technicality perspective, this is where most people have erred in their discussion, suggesting that Smith committed assault against Rock. Technically, assault would have been Smith approaching the stage and Rock with the intent to intimidate, battery is the physical touching that followed. Smith committed both.)

In one of the oddest moments I have seen on live television, Chris Rock took the stage to announce the nominees and winner for Best Documentary Feature Film. Prior to the specifics of that award, Rock opened with a bit of room work, as if it was part of his stand up routine or as if he were hosting. After a couple of initial jokes, he came to a joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith. Rock commented on Pinkett-Smith’s shaved head, saying that he loved her and was looking forward to seeing her in G.I. Jane 2. The camera panned to the Smith family for their initial reaction. While Will Smith pretty visibly laughed and reacted to the joke, Jade Pinkett-Smith rolled her eyes and was visibly upset by the joke. The camera then switched back to Rock who was continuing his shtick. After about 10-15 seconds of material, Rock’s face changed, as the camera revealed that Will Smith was taking the stage. Smith walked up to Rock, smacked him across the face, and left the stage.

At this point, to most everyone watching, it seemed like a bit. A planned event in the evening, that while shocking, would have been completely staged. When the audio dropped out of the broadcast for FCC reasons, it became clear it was no bit.

Rock, quite stunned, then said “Will Smith just slapped the sh!+ out of me.” Smith, replied “Keep my wife’s name out of your f*#k!ng mouth.” Rock asked something like “You’re upset about a G.I. Jane joke?,”to which Smith reiterated, yelling from his seat, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f*#king mouth.” Rock looked around, as if he was trying to confirm how the producers were going to proceed, but continued on with the show.

And so it was, on with the show, as if nothing had happened. Sure, there were a couple of mentions of the awkwardness and there were a couple of guests who tried to mediate. Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry tried to smooth the situation over in the commercial break. Sean Combs even made mention of it in his introduction to the anniversary of The Godfather, suggesting that Smith and Rock should work things out like adults at the after party. If you had told me years ago that Puff Daddy would be the voice of reason at the Academy Awards in 2022, I would have fell out of my chair.

Smith would even go on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in King Richard. His speech was an emotional ramble that was part defense, part therapy session, and minor mention of a broad apology to the Academy and to the other winners and nominees. Mostly it was a scrambled justification of his need to be a protector, with the strangeness punctuated by cuts in the video feed when the Williams sisters were shown because of unfortunate wardrobe malfunctions. An emotional speech, but not exactly what was required.

The event tainted the rest of the broadcast. Ahmir Khalib Thompson, aka Questlove, seemed visibly shaken during his acceptance of the award for Best Documentary Feature immediately following the event. The rest of the presenters seemed unsure of what was going to happen. Smith’s own award remained awkward because of the event and his acceptance speech. The combination made the smattering of standing ovations he received even stranger.

The altercation between Rock and Smith has its roots in the 2016 Academy Awards, which Rock hosted. Smith was thought to have been snubbed a nomination and Pinkett-Smith had announced a boycott of the event. Rock made several jokes at their expense that year, starting a bit of a feud. This year, the target of Rock’s joke was Pinkett-Smith’s shaved haircut. To many who did not know, this seemed to be just a joke at a stylistic choice. Pinkett-Smith, however, has been open with her struggle with alopecia and the hair loss that has resulted. While it is unclear that he knew for certain, Rock certainly would have been well situated to know of Pinkett-Smith’s condition.

This makes the joke tasteless, no question. It’s not a great joke, even if her haircut was purely a stylistic choice. It’s never really a great joke to pick on someone’s appearance.  When it is at the expense of a condition for which she has no control, the joke is offensive.

But the question we have to answer as a society is whether it is acceptable to meet words, no matter how offensive, with violence.

And that question has been asked a lot today.

To many, the answer is absolutely yes. I can’t tell you how many responses I have read that amount to “Rock got what was coming to him,” “Smith absolutely had to stand up and defend his wife,” or “what else did you expect?” These same responses can’t believe that Rock would go after someone’s spouse. Smith’s actions are being portrayed as the desired outcome, the noble outcome even, as he was stepping up and defending his wife’s honor. Celebrities like Tiffany Haddish echoed this sentiment, commenting “When I saw a Black man stand up for his wife. That meant so much to me… it made me believe that there are still men out there that love and care about their women, their wives.” There are whole chains of tweets where girlfriends are asking their boyfriends if they would do the same for them.

This line of thinking is so problematic. First, while defending and standing up for your spouse/significant other is noble, in this instance, Pinkett-Smith is also a celebrity and a public figure, who is in the public eye and open to ridicule at these ceremonies just like Smith himself, and like Smith himself, Pinkett-Smith is perfectly capable of defending herself. Second, the manner of the defense does not match the offense. Had Smith approached Rock and said “not cool man, that goes too far, you know what she’s dealing with” Smith has taken the high road and Rock looks like an ass. Even if he just yelled his existing comment from his seat, the point remains. Smith is still defending his spouse, he’s just using a broader tool box of available defenses. As it stands, Smith comes off looking like the aggressor, especially to the millions of people who did not know what Pinkett-Smith was suffering.

It also becomes very confusing regarding what we are trying to teach as a society. The same commentors justifying Smith’s actions would condemn violence in every other situation. They just look at this one and say, “this one’s cool though.” And for some even, “this one is desirable.

That’s messed up.

Violence, even in defense, is a measure of last resort. It’s what we use when everything else has failed, because we know the consequences. It remains true on a macro level, in global conflict, and it remains true on a micro level in interpersonal relationships. Smith never even tried any other avenues. We went from joke to physical confrontation, in no time flat. It was the first resort.

At some point, we have to remember “two wrongs don’t make a right.” And hopefully, in doing so, we may can change the conversation around this.

We certainly do live in interesting times.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

First Day of Spring 2022

As of today, we are officially in Spring.  The time when snow melts, ice thaws, and the sun traditionally begins to shine more.  When the planet warms, bringing forth new life, springing out of the ground.  Plants bloom, hibernation ends, and our whole outlook tends to become brighter.

It's a season of celebration.  Of Carnival, of Easter, and May Day.  Of Saint Patrick's Day and Cinco De Mayo.  Of Spring Break.

And it is a time of new beginnings.

In that spirit, I wanted to to give a reminder that now is as good of a time as any for a fresh start.  If there is something you need to give up but missed lent, why not start now?  If you need to leave a relationship that is toxic or abusive, why not start that new life now, just as the rest of the planet is doing? If you need to change jobs, change majors, pursue new opportunities, why not now?

Pursue that new job, seek that new relationship, start that new project.


"Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time.  We are the ones we've been waiting for.  We are the change that we seek."

President Barack Obama

So stop waiting for some other time.  Stop waiting for things to be different.  Stop procrastinating.

There has never been a better day to make a change.  No day but today.  So if there is anything you are looking to improve, to change, or to start, the only way you can guarantee it will happen is to start today.

Because the truth is, there will never be a perfect day.  There will never be a perfect time or situation.

So go for it.  Dream.  Strive.  Change.

You've got this.

This spring as it comes bursts up in bonfires green,
Wild puffing of emerald trees, and flame-filled bushes,
Thorn-blossom lifting in wreaths of smoke between
Where the wood fumes up and the watery, flickering rushes.

I am amazed at this spring, this conflagration
Of green fires lit on the soil of the earth, this blaze
Of growing, and sparks that puff in wild gyration,
Faces of people streaming across my gaze.

And I, what fountain of fire am I among
This leaping combustion of spring? My spirit is tossed
About like a shadow buffeted in the throng
Of flames, a shadow that's gone astray, and is lost.
The Enkindled Spring, D.H. Lawrence

Thursday, March 17, 2022

St. Patrick's Day 2022

Today we have a reminder of the influence of the Irish on our American heritage. Thirty- three million people or 10.5% of our population tracing their heritage to Ireland. There are over five times more people with Irish heritage in America than there are Irish in Ireland.

Today, we recognize them as a pillar of the American melting pot. Celebrated communities in the Northeast. Pioneers in the westward expansion.

And yet, for the majority of their immigration pathway here, they were discriminated against. Viewed as less than. Inferior.

Hated and feared for their religious differences (Catholics v Protestants). For their ethnic differences (Celts v Anglo-Saxon). For a language barrier. For their work class. No Irish Need Apply.

On this day when we celebrate the patron saint of Ireland. His capture into slavery and conversion. His ministry and dedication to Ireland. His driving out Druids, or “snakes,” out of Ireland. And the Irish history and heritage of our country.

Why don’t we celebrate by honoring that history. By owning up to complicated history that it is. And by looking at how we treat any immigrant to our country. By committing to not making the same mistakes.

We can keep up the old traditions. Wear green. Drink green beer. Raise a glass high.

But I think that the list above might be a far better way to celebrate today.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

The Ides of March 2022


Ha! who calls?

Bid every noise be still: peace yet again!

Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music,
Cry 'Caesar!' Speak; Caesar is turn'd to hear.

Beware the ides of March.

What man is that?

A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

Set him before me; let me see his face.

Fellow, come from the throng; look upon Caesar.

What say'st thou to me now? speak once again.

Beware the ides of March.

He is a dreamer; let us leave him: pass."
Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene II

In Ancient Roman days, they did not number their days from start to finish of a month.  Instead, they had three fixed points in the month, the Kalends, the 1st of the month, the Nones, around the 5th to the 7th of the month, and the Ides, the 13th or the 15th.  In March, the Ides falls on our March 15.  

The Ides of March are most associated with the assassination of Julius Caesar, particularly as dramatized by William Shakespeare.  In 44 B.C., as many as 60 conspirators stabbed Caesar to death at a meeting of the Senate.  Caesar had been previously warned to "Beware the Ides of March!"  On his way into the senate that fateful day,  Caesar joked to the Soothsayer, 

[To the Soothsayer] The ides of March are come.

Ay, Caesar; but not gone.
Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene I

So, should someone tell you to beware today, perhaps you should keep an eye out.  Or at least don't laugh at fate. 

"Why should Caesar just get to stomp around like a giant while the rest of us try not to get smushed under his big feet? Brutus is just as cute as Caesar, right? Brutus is just as smart as Caesar, people totally like Brutus just as much as they like Caesar, and when did it become okay for one person to be the boss of everybody because that's not what Rome is about! We should totally just STAB CAESAR!"
Mean Girls

Monday, March 14, 2022

Pi Day 2022

Happy Pi Day all!  A celebration since 1988, Pi Day recognizes the mathematical constant pi (π), whose first significant digits are 3.14.  Pi day is celebrated with the homonyms of both savory and sweet types.  Pizza pies and dessert pies are often eaten.  Our church distributes slices of dessert pies to all the teachers in the Brownsburg School district this week. 

For this monumentous occasion, I can think of no better words to share than the following:

3 . 1 4 1 5 9 2 6 5 3 5 8 9 7 9 3 2 3 8 4 6 2 6 4 3 3 8 3 2 7 9 5 0 2 8 8 4 1 9 7 1 6 9 3 9 9 3 7 5 1 0 5 8 2 0 9 7 4 9 4 4 5 9 2 3 0 7 8 1 6 4 0 6 2 8 6 2 0 8 9 9 8 6 2 8 0 3 4 8 2 5 3 4 2 1 1 7 0 6 7 9 8 2 1 4 8 0 8 6 5 1 3 2 8 2 3 0 6 6 4 7 0 9 3 8 4 4 6 0 9 5 5 0 5 8 2 2 3 1 7 2 5 3 5 9 4 0 8 1 2 8 4 8 1 1 1 7 4 5 0 2 8 4 1 0 2 7 0 1 9 3 8 5 2 1 1 0 5 5 5 9 6 4 4 6 2 2 9 4 8 9 5 4 9 3 0 3 8 1 9 6 4 4 2 8 8 1 0 9 7 5 6 6 5 9 3 3 4 4 6 1 2 8 4 7 5 6 4 8 2 3 3 7 8 6 7 8 3 1 6 5 2 7 1 2 0 1 9 0 9 1 4 5 6 4 8 5 6 6 9 2 3 4 6 0 3 4 8 6 1 0 4 5 4 3 2 6 6 4 8 2 1 3 3 9 3 6 0 7 2 6 0 2 4 9 1 4 1 2 7 3 7 2 4 5 8 7 0 0 6 6 0 6 3 1 5 5 8 8 1 7 4 8 8 1 5 2 0 9 2 0 9 6 2 8 2 9 2 5 4 0 9 1 7 1 5 3 6 4 3 6 7 8 9 2 5 9 0 3 6 0 0 1 1 3 3 0 5 3 0 5 4 8 8 2 0 4 6 6 5 2 1 3 8 4 1 4 6 9 5 1 9 4 1 5 1 1 6 0 9 4 3 3 0 5 7 2 7 0 3 6 5 7 5 9 5 9 1 9 5 3 0 9 2 1 8 6 1 1 7 3 8 1 9 3 2 6 1 1 7 9 3 1 0 5 1 1 8 5 4 8 0 7 4 4 6 2 3 7 9 9 6 2 7 4 9 5 6 7 3 5 1 8 8 5 7 5 2 7 2 4 8 9 1 2 2 7 9 3 8 1 8 3 0 1 1 9 4 9 1 2 9 8 3 3 6 7 3 3 6 2 4 4 0 6 5 6 6 4 3 0 8 6 0 2 1 3 9 4 9 4 6 3 9 5 2 2 4 7 3 7 1 9 0 7 0 2 1 7 9 8 6 0 9 4 3 7 0 2 7 7 0 5 3 9 2 1 7 1 7 6 2 9 3 1 7 6 7 5 2 3 8 4 6 7 4 8 1 8 4 6 7 6 6 9 4 0 5 1 3 2 0 0 0 5 6 8 1 2 7 1 4 5 2 6 3 5 6 0 8 2 7 7 8 5 7 7 1 3 4 2 7 5 7 7 8 9 6 0 9 1 7 3 6 3 7 1 7 8 7 2 1 4 6 8 4 4 0 9 0 1 2 2 4 9 5 3 4 3 0 1 4 6 5 4 9 5 8 5 3 7 1 0 5 0 7 9 2 2 7 9 6 8 9 2 5 8 9 2 3 5 4 2 0 1 9 9 5 6 1 1 2 1 2 9 0 2 1 9 6 0 8 6 4 0 3 4 4 1 8 1 5 9 8 1 3 6 2 9 7 7 4 7 7 1 3 0 9 9 6 0 5 1 8 7 0 7 2 1 1 3 4 9 9 9 9 9 9 8 3 7 2 9 7 8 0 4 9 9 5 1 0 5 9 7 3 1 7 3 2 8 1 6 0 9 6 3 1 8 5 9 5 0 2 4 4 5 9 4 5 5 3 4 6 9 0 8 3 0 2 6 4 2 5 2 2 3 0 8 2 5 3 3 4 4 6 8 5 0 3 5 2 6 1 9 3 1 1 8 8 1 7 1 0 1 0 0 0 3 1 3 7 8 3 8 7 5 2 8 8 6 5 8 7 5 3 3 2 0 8 3 8 1 4 2 0 6 1 7 1 7 7 6 6 9 1 4 7 3 0 3 5 9 8 2 5 3 4 9 0 4 2 8 7 5 5 4 6 8 7 3 1 1 5 9 5 6 2 8 6 3 8 8 2 3 5 3 7 8 7 5 9 3 7 5 1 9 5 7 7 8 1 8 5 7 7 8 0 5 3 2 1 7 1 2 2 6 8 0 6 6 1 3 0 0 1 9 2 7 8 7 6 6 1 1 1 9 5 9 0 9 2 1 6 4 2 0 1 9 8 9

Happy Pi Day!

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Spring Forward 2022

Tonight is the night that clocks will need to be set forward one hour, as daylight savings time begins at 2:00 am tomorrow.  A barbaric practice, robbing us of a precious hour of sleep, and leaving most confused in the days following, it is nonetheless the law of the land.

"You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe daylight savings time."
Dave Barry

We move into that time where the sun beats down mercilessly longer into the evening.  Why particularly in the summer we would want to extend that, I'll never know.

"Daylight time, a monstrosity in timekeeping."
Harry S. Truman

So, adjust those clocks under protest.  Ease yourself into it and do it this afternoon.  Leave an hour early from work in solidarity.  Write and petition your local congressman so that maybe we can finally change it.

"The sun got confused about daylight savings time.  It rose twice.  Everything had two shadows."
Steven Wright

Until then, soldier on.  We'll get that hour back.  Eventually.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

International Women's Day 2022

Women belong in all places decisions are being made.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Today is International Women's Day.  Originally created and celebrated on February 28, 1909 by the Socialist Party of America, March 8 became the day of celebration after women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917.  The day was finally adopted in 1975 by the United Nations.  In some places, it is a day of protest, in others, a day that celebrates womanhood.

The day is a national holiday in 26 countries.  In others, it is widely observed but not an official public holiday.  In the United States, it is recognized but not an official public holiday, though attempts have been instituted since 1994.

Each year since 1996 has had an official theme named by the United Nations.  This year's theme is
"Break the Bias," reminding us knowing there is a bias is not enough, we have to dismantle it. Additionally there is a focus on climate change. Gender equality for a sustainable tomorrow.

Gender equality is one of the things that always amazes me that we are still fighting an uphill battle for it. That we haven't solved it yet.  And that there are people who would view it as a negative for society.  Sure, they won't couch it in such terms, they'll focus on traditional women's roles or "family values."  Look no further this year than the pastor who encouraged women to be trophy wives to keep their husband's interest, and relayed that Melania Trump was the ultimate trophy wife.  Yeah, there's a lot to unpack there in a future blog.

Here's what we still have to fight:

  • Women on average still make only 80% of what men make for the same job
  • That gets worse in minority populations ranging from 53% to 77% (the discrepancy is slightly less in Asian populations at 85%)
  • The gender pay gap shrank between 1980 and 2000, but has largely stalled since then, closing by less than a nickel up to 2017.
  • One in eight women live in poverty and women are 35% more likely to live in poverty than men
  • 90% of adult sexual assault victims are women
  • Every 98 seconds an individual is sexually assaulted in the United States
  • One in three teenaged girls in the United States is reported as being a survivor of sexual violence, with young women of color and LGBTQ being particularly vulnerable
  • Girls are sexually abused at a rate 4.4 times higher than boys, and their behaviorable reaction to trauma is often criminalized
  • Fifteen percent of sexual assault and rape victims are under 12
  • Nearly half of all female rape survivors were assaulted before the age of 18
  • Girls between the ages of 16 and 19 are four times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault
  • One in five women are sexually assaulted while in college
  • Only 66% of voting age women have access to proof of citizenship with their current name
  • About two-thirds of individuals in the United States believe it is easier for a man to be elected than a woman
  • We still cannot pass the Equal Rights Amendment, making gender discrimination unconstitutional
  • Maternal mortality rate has risen in the United States by 27% from 2000 to 2014

And that's the tip of the iceberg.

We have a long way to go, but we can get there.

Together, as equals.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:2

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Ash Wednesday 2022

"Nevertheless, the liturgy of Ash Wednesday is not focused on the sinfulness of the penitent but on the mercy of God.  The question of sinfulness is raised precisely because this is a day of mercy, and the just do not need a savior."

Thomas Merton

Today, much of Christendom enters the period of Lent.  The 40 days leading up to Easter.  A time of fasting and devotion, mirroring the 40 days of Jesus' temptation in the desert.  And one of the most prominent aspects of Lent is the self-denial.

This often manifests as a goal to give up something for the 40 day period. To give up sweets, alcohol, caffeine, meat, chocolate, fast food, television, internet, etc.  Something that represents a challenge.  That is a true denial.

It's a form of fasting, like the full-fasts on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, as well as the abstinence from meat on Fridays during the period.  In that aspect, it is important to remember the purpose of a fast.

Fasts in scripture are generally used for two purposes: to seek direction or to beg for mercy.

Both require the proper attitude for the fast to be fruitful.  With those purposes, it's easy to see why.  A half-hearted attempt to seek mercy will be clearly seen through and reveal unresolved issues that must be dealt with first.  Likewise, an attempt to seek direction that will likely not be followed is folly.  Both purposes have the ultimate goal of bringing the supplicant closer to God.  That should never be done lightly.

For God warns us of the fasting that He desires.  And of what follows from self-serving fasts.

"For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God.  'Why have we fasted,' they say, 'and you have not seen it?  Why have we humbled ourselves and you have not noticed?' Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers.  Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists.  You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.  Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves?  Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?  Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?  Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter - when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not turn away from your own flesh and blood?  Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.  Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.   If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yoursevles in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.  The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-sorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.  Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will rise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings."

Isaiah 58:2-12

Oh, what the world would be if all of Christendom took these next 40 days to fast as the Lord has indicated.  How far His mercy would go.

May we use this time well.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Fat Tuesday 2022

"It has been said that a Scotchman has not seen the world until he has seen Edinburgh; and I think that I may say that an American has not seen the United States until he has seen Mardi-Gras in New Orleans."

Mark Twain

Today marks Fat Tuesday.  The end of Carnival, of Mardi Gras.  The end of Shrovetide.  A day of the feast, for tomorrow brings the fast.  The last day before Lent.

Today is a day of celebration. Of joy. It's time for good music and great food. To embody that special joie de vivre.

So grab another slice of king cake or fry up some beignets.  Put on a little Preservation Hall Jazz Band or Marsalis Family.  Add a little rum to the punch.

Celebrate this wonderful world we live in and make an effort to enjoy as much of it as possible.

Do what you can to enjoy the day today.  Bring a little spice, a little music, and a whole lotta love to the day.

To encapsulate the notion of Mardi Gras as nothing more than a big drunk is to take the simple and stupid way out, and I, for one, am getting tired of staying stuck on simple and stupid.

Mardi Gras is not a parade. Mardi Gras is not girls flashing on French Quarter balconies. Mardi Gras is not an alcoholic binge.

Mardi Gras is bars and restaurants changing out all the CD's in their jukeboxes to Professor Longhair and the Neville Brothers, and it is annual front-porch crawfish boils hours before the parades so your stomach and attitude reach a state of grace, and it is returning to the same street corner, year after year, and standing next to the same people, year after year--people whose names you may or may not even know but you've watched their kids grow up in this public tableau and when they're not there, you wonder: Where are those guys this year?

It is dressing your dog in a stupid costume and cheering when the marching bands go crazy and clapping and saluting the military bands when they crisply snap to.

Now that part, more than ever.

It's mad piano professors converging on our city from all over the world and banging the 88's until dawn and laughing at the hairy-shouldered men in dresses too tight and stalking the Indians under Claiborne overpass and thrilling the years you find them and lamenting the years you don't and promising yourself you will next year.

It's wearing frightful color combination in public and rolling your eyes at the guy in your office who--like clockwork, year after year--denies that he got the baby in the king cake and now someone else has to pony up the ten bucks for the next one.

Mardi Gras is the love of life. It is the harmonic convergence of our food, our music, our creativity, our eccentricity, our neighborhoods, and our joy of living. All at once.

Chris Rose, 1 Dead in Attic: Post-Katrina Stories.

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!