Richard Crowson Commentary

Whenever I feel a little bit down about this old world of ours, about the direction things seem to be going in, I turn my thoughts to Fred Phelps and, by golly, I see the beautiful side of life again. His skeletal facial features are hardened by decades of wallowing in the odious, putrid mud of hate and self-loathing. Yet that face always serves as a reminder to me of our society’s amazing ability to resist the pull to meet violence with violence.

If Governor Sam Brownback is really serious about attacking our state’s 492 million dollar deficit, why is he messing around with teensy little amounts like the $600,000 that the state will “save” by obliterating the Kansas Arts Commission?

Just finished the terrific biography of Louis Armstrong by Terry Teachout entitled Pops. It paints an image of the jazz trumpet master as a man of great emotional, artistic and intellectual complexity. That might be surprising to many who only knew him as a clownish, gravelly-voiced pop vocalist with an outrageous ear-to-ear grin.

It struck me that the best way I could respond to the Governor’s call for discontinuing all state funding of arts and music in Kansas is with a piece of music. So here goes:

Oh give me a home where we cut to the bone
All the arts funding here in our state
We see folks as heretics if they value aesthetics 
And the artwork that artists create

Who needs theater and ballet? Why should symphonies play?
Museums are a nuisance at best
Why expose kids to arts when we know in our hearts
Art and music are not on the test

For an old guy, I’ve managed to keep up fairly well with the fickle, ever-changing winds of technology. I can get around on a computer handily enough. I’ve done the iPod thing, the Skype thing and the Facebook thing. (Though I refuse to Tweet.)  I even managed with only a minimum of cuss words to set up the new TV and DVR system, though it took me quite a while.

It’s a funny thing about Christmas music. Just about the time when I feel like I’ll lose my Christmas cookies if I hear one more “Fa-la-la-la-la,” the season peaks and all those songs go away for another 11 or so months. It’s kind of nice, really.

This Christmas season we found that some of our big, bright C9 multicolored light strings weren’t working so well.  So, I decided to try to be a little greener this year and bought some strings of the new low-voltage LED lights.  I climbed up on the roof, attached them and plugged them in.  Then, I had to check the connection to see why they weren’t lit up, and I realized that they were, indeed, lit up.  (I’m making little quotation marks with my fingers when I use the term, “lit.”)  They are about 1/5 of the brightness level of the old incandescent lights.

Now that we’re past Thanksgiving, it’s time to turn toward the season of Mr. C.

There’s no way I could not take a walk this morning. Aside from the intensive lobbying of my Airedale friend Ollie, the blue Kansas sky and ruby leaves of our pin oaks overpowered me. So I hitched Ollie to the leash and out we went, fully engulfed in another splendid crispy November autumn morning.

How exactly do robo-calls help politicians? You know what I’m talking about—those automated, prerecorded phone messages we get on our landlines (those of us who still have landlines).

I don’t know anyone who ever says, “Wow, I got the nicest, most informative robo-call the other day.  The information was so pertinent and it really convinced me that that person was the right one for the job!”

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