Posted on | December 7, 2013 | No Comments
COSTA MESA, December 6, 2013—Well, there was no “Payback Friday” for the Garden Grove Argonauts tonight. But there was an encore performance by the Corona Del Mar . . . READ MORE at WORDS BY RON
Posted on | November 30, 2013 | No Comments
IRVINE, November 29, 2013—Something about Black Friday makes me nostalgic when it comes to the CIF Southern Section football playoffs. It was on this day three years ago that the La Habra Highlanders defeated the Cypress Centurions in the semi-final game to claim their shot at a fourth consecutive division title. Meanwhile, on the other side of the 22 Freeway, the Garden Grove Argonauts won . . . READ MORE at WORDSBYRON
Posted on | November 25, 2013 | No Comments
NEWPORT BEACH, November 22, 2013—Yes, it was a football game, but Friday night’s CIF Southwest Division Round-2 match-up between the top-ranked La Habra Highlanders and the Newport Harbor Sailors felt like vintage Connors-McEnroe . . . READ MORE at WORDSBYRON
Posted on | September 21, 2013 | No Comments
CERRITOS, September 20, 2013—It’s hard to call a non-league, pre-season game the defining moment for one particular football program. But, I guess that’s what I’m doing here . . . READ MORE at WORDSBY RON
Posted on | September 14, 2013 | No Comments
LA HABRA, September 13, 2013—On Fall Friday nights, with my bedroom window open—and the wind just right—I could hear faintly the Highlander band drum-line cadence wafting over the Autumn air . . . READ MORE at WORDSBYRON
Posted on | September 8, 2013 | No Comments
LA MIRADA, September 6, 2013—Turns out Friday was 2-FOR-1 Night at La Mirada High School football stadium. Yes, for a mere seven bones, fans were treated to—not one, but two football games. And, what an amazing double-header it was! READ MORE at WORDSBYRON . . .
Posted on | August 31, 2013 | No Comments
MISSION VIEJO, AUGUST 30, 2013—In a quest for a seventh CIF Football Championship, the La Habra Highlanders defeated the El Toro Chargers at Trubuco Hills High School stadium. READ MORE at WORDSBYRON
Posted on | August 20, 2013 | No Comments
You’ve been faithful friends, dropping by C23 for a good read all of these years. I appreciate that very much. Now you can get the same compelling content at WORDSBYRON—a new responsive blog designed for active readers.
You can access WORDSBYRON from a tablet, iPhone or Android device—or on your laptop, PC or Mac. I think you’ll enjoy the easy-to-read responsive design, but you can post a comment to let me know either way.
And, thanks again for stopping by.
PS: Be sure to check out HEAVY WEATHER.
Posted on | July 14, 2013 | 1 Comment
Remember the “hidden dot pattern” pictures that were all the rage a few years back? You’d walk into a Target or other establishment and see people standing in the aisle, transfixed, chin in hand, eyes scrunched-up, staring at a funny looking picture on the wall. Then there came an epiphany for the viewer—an ah-HA! moment.
“I see it!” they’d exclaim out loud. “It’s so simple! It was there all the time!”
After they left and the commotion died down, you found yourself in front of the same picture which, at first glance, appeared to be an infestation of colored dots taking the form of dolphins and whales or whatnot. The picture was interesting, to be sure, but rather unremarkable. And, stare as you might, all you saw were dots and dolphins and whales.
But, intuition told you there simply had to be more to it than that. Why else would so many people be drawn to an ordinary picture in the middle of big box paradise?
And then, finally, you saw it too! Your eyes and brain colluded to produce “the magic focus” which resolved the dot dilemma. Suddenly dolphins and whales were floating in a magical three-dimensional universe of sea creatures sailing past the Crab Nebula and into the far reaches of the galaxy.
I SEE IT!” you shouted, oblivious to the lady with two bales of disposable diapers in her cart, attempting to maneuver around you with rising trepidation.
From that point onward, the dot pictures were no more a mystery to you. Your mind and eyes knew the truth: The act of being “freed” from a traditional optical perspective enabled you to understand the underlying and greater visual truth of the colored dot tapestry. There truly was much more than met the eye.
Such is the experience of reading Bat Ye’or’s Understanding Dhimmitude1, which takes the reader past the simple dots of Middle Eastern political turmoil and into another dimension of ideological, political and religious sub-textures which—when viewed with an inner eye freed from the myopia of propaganda, political correctness and deception—snaps into view like the dot pictures of yesteryear.
The ideological struggle in Africa, the Middle East, Europe and in other global hot spots suddenly has a context which renders it “understandable”. And, for the first time (for me, at least), there is an answer to the question which has nagged me for some years:
“What happened to the Christian churches which exploded across the region in the decades following the resurrection of Christ?”
In Understanding Dhimmitude”, Ye’or skillfully weaves a tapestry of ideological nuance and political intrigue, of religion, history and culture, and of the collision of irreconcilable world views which reverberates across the centuries to the present day. In this collection of speeches and presentations given to varying audiences—some hostile some not—Ye’or underscores some troubling aspects of the dynamic between Islam, Judaism and Christianity. As you view Ye’or’s “dots”, you’ll have to decide whether you really want to parse the discernible sub-pattern of Middle Eastern/Global turmoil (some apparently do not want to).
Nevertheless, if you accept Ye’or’s scholarship—and do your own research as well—you will never again be puzzled as to why a Middle-East “land for peace” strategy could never work in “Palestine”—and you’ll better understand the broader ramifications of that “why not” for the West.
Ultimately, Ye’or’s overarching point is that culture really does matter, that not all cultures are created equal and to choose your culture carefully. You’ll have to live with that particular dot pattern for some time to come.
Posted on | June 25, 2013 | 1 Comment
Helen has known me all of my life, since our clan moved west from Ohio to the sunny shelter of northwest Orange County in 1958. It was a fortuitous move for each of our tribes, one which intertwined a dozen souls in a friendship for the ages.
I don’t recall my earliest interaction with Helen—as I was still in diapers, she had me at a disadvantage. But, I’m told that I would stand on the east side of Macy Street, diaper-clad, and stare across at Helen’s son, Bobby, my equally youthful and likewise scantily clad counterpart. In the years to come our families crisscrossed Macy Street thousands of times as playmates, friends, supporters and confidants.
In the carefree early 60s, kids were free to roam about the neighborhood and schoolyard, playing until their strength—or the sunlight—gave out. In the golden age of our youth, divorce, kidnapping and child abuse were unseen anomalies which plagued the tattered edges of society, or so it seemed. Our houses were not haunted by these horrors.
So, we played “Hit-the-Bat” on Gordon Avenue with big Bob, Bobby, Jimmy and a cavalcade of neighborhood pals. Sometimes we’d play hide-and-seek or block tag the length of Macy Street. Other days we’d skateboard, roller skate, fly kites or play “pickle” until darkness made injury a real possibility. And then we’d get up and do it all over again the next day.
School? Yes, even in the olden days it was mandatory. So we walked up the block to Macy Elementary for a few years, and then down the block to Starbuck Junior High for a couple more. Still later, if we were fortunate, one of the dads gave us a lift to La Habra High School a mile east of the neighborhood. Through all life’s seemingly simple entanglements and achievements, the Kays and Simpson families were connected by a kind of bond that has long vanished from much of the American landscape. Neighbors? Heck, we were friends and family!
But, eventually, the treachery of time scatters us all upon the winds of change. And what a wind it was for kids coming of age in the latter part of the 20th century. John and Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King were gunned down. Vietnam flared into a ‘conflict’. Crew cuts became ponytails; then flower-power gave way to disco and—amazingly—a Hollywood actor became President of the United States of America.
Through those years the Simpson and Kays clans journeyed through life on largely parallel paths. We played baseball, football, water polo and croquet. We dabbled in piano, guitar, modern dance and ballet. Long games of Monopoly or Parcheesi were our delights on house-bound rainy Sundays. Then, finally, we grew up, left home, went to college and war, got jobs, got married, got pregnant and—yes—started to get “old”.
I might not have put it in these terms while in the midst of the experience. But our families were unique, I think, for each of us had two sets of parents—Betty and Bill, and Bob and Helen. Their values and love-of-family were a common denominator which made cross-familial bonding possible for our tribes. I still remember the time Bob senior tricked me into getting a haircut (not an event at the top of a 10 year-old’s list in 1967). It went like this:
“Hello Bill,” says Bob, crossing Macy for some neighborly chit-chat.
“I’m taking the boys down for a haircut. Thought Ronnie might like to tag along.”
“Uh huh,” responds Bill, most benignly and agreeably. “Sure . . . sounds good.”
In those days discernment was in my future, so off I drove with Bob and the boys to the local barber shop. Sure enough, Bobby and Jimmy were duly shorn. Then came the surprise:
“OK, Ronnie; hop in the chair.”
My heart stopped and I know I must have looked like the proverbial deer in the headlights. But, there was no escaping the command of Dad-2 at that moment.
“Buzzzzzz”, went the barber’s clippers.
I came home closely cropped and only slightly the wiser. It was years before I realized that our fathers had probably colluded on the great haircut caper to accommodate a common interest in well groomed progeny. Well played dads!
But, it was like that in La Habra in the early days. People looked out for one another. Having two families only doubled our pleasure as kids. We were well cared for, well loved and well grounded (for the most part). And our parents became good friends as the ups-and-downs of life gave them ample opportunity to share in the joys of parenting. I remember many a night when their bridge games or Christmas parties echoed with laughter ’til I drifted off to sleep.
My mother first mentioned it to me around 2005.
“Helen repeats herself a lot.”
I could say that I didn’t pay too much attention to her words. But the truth is, I didn’t want to. My own grandmother’s final years were a wobble between lucidity and estrangement. One moment she was with us. The next, we were strangers. Her final words to me, spoken in clarity, still echo in my ears more than thirty years after her death:
“How are things at the shop?”
And then, like a burst dam, she was gone. It was my first taste of dementia and it didn’t go down well. But the one thing I remember—the indelible life lesson gleaned from that experience—was observing my mother’s loving response to that crisis in our home. For when “Mama” was no longer able to live on her own, she came to stay with us on Macy Street.
For a few years we enjoyed the sweetness of historic family living as three successive generations shared meals, good times and memories. My heart broke when “Mama’s” mind began to unravel quickly in 1977. But I got to share a sweet-spot of life with her—I all of 19, she past 80—two lives sailing in the same port, one furling and the other raising canvas. It was a point in time that made me “different”.
“Now, where do you work?” Asked Helen, for the sixth time since we’d left Sunrise Senior Living.
“I work at Triple-A”, I replied as if the inquiry were her first.
“Oh, yes. They’re a good company.”
“They’ve been good to me,” I agreed.
And, so it went until Mom, Helen, Vicki and I reached our post-church destination, the sprawling lawn in front of the Marriott Resort on the bluff overlooking Dana Point Harbor. There, we would set out four comfortable beach lounges, bundle-up the “Moms” and enjoy a couple of hours of seaside bliss. As was the norm during the entire time I knew her, Helen was 80% smiles and 20% laughter on those last adventures with us. In the middle of a raging storm, Helen had the peace that surpasses human understanding.
“I just don’t know how people can get through the week without church”, she would often say, as we pulled away from Calvary Chapel Mission Viejo. Pastor Neil—himself a New Yorker—took time to chat with Helen on a couple of occasions after service. And as “tuned-in” as Helen appeared to be during pastor’s message, she really enjoyed the worship music for which all CCs are legend. What sweet Sundays those were.
So we’d pass the afternoon watching sloops and catamarans glide lazily along the breakwater while gulls “ack-ack-acked” over post-picnic tidbits. Inevitably, Helen would say that she’d probably better “get back”—our cue that the Sunday afternoon outing was drawing to a close. We couldn’t help smile in remembering how she always put it when we picked her up for church:
“Boy! I got a get-out-of-jail card.”
And, away we jailbirds would fly!
And, for a few hours at least, Helen was as free as a bird.
Helen went home to the LORD on June 18th, 2013. At her memorial service, one of her sons offered an astute spiritual observation (which I will paraphrase here):
“I know that God works in mysterious ways; so He must have had a reason for keeping Mom here [with Alzheimer’s] all these years. I don’t know what it is, but He must have had a reason; so I’m going with that.”
How many lives did Helen touch—with each passing day, week, month? How many people are “different” . . . are better . . . because they got to know and love Helen?
No, I don’t know why God chose this way either. But one day the truth of the matter will be revealed. And it will be a glorious truth, to be sure.keep looking »