Monday, December 31, 2012

12.31.12 - Happy Cliff Year!

Mack Hall
31 December 2012

Cliff Dwellers

“Adieu! / Lest our old robes sit easier than our new!”

-      Macduff in Macbeth II.iii.37-38

Whether or not any American citizen will tumble off any cliffs, real or metaphorical, remains to be seen. 

When visiting the Grand Canyon, the sight-seer is cautioned regarding the nature of gravity by numerous signs, and yet numerous young men – because men are stupid – fall screaming to their deaths each year while posing for a daring picture beyond the warning signs.  That’s a bad cliff.

People making $250,000 a year might find themselves flung off a metaphorical cliff for being industrious and thrifty.  This menace comes from a government and a populace unclear on economics – very few people draw a paycheck for $250,000 a year, except perhaps for the beautiful people who run non-profits.  A small business – a dentist’s office, a large-ish beauty salon, a farm, a store - run by someone working 12 hours a day may well generate that much revenue in a year, but most of that money goes away again for rent, utilities, layers of taxes, salaries, insurance, and the supplies or commodities necessary for the business. 

Dental fillings, haircuts, food, and clothing do not come from fairies or elves or vague good feelings; they are the result of hard, intelligent work.  Envy of people who work is as old as Cain and Abel.

In Syria a taxi driver and Christian named Andrei Arbash was beheaded and his body thrown to the dogs after his brother complained about the Syrian Free Army acting like the sort of people who would behead Christians.  Our nation supports the Syrian Free Army.  That’s a bad cliff too.

Hobby Lobby, a chain of stores selling debris for decorators to assemble, glue, paint, and cover with feathers, is being pushed off a cliff by our own government, though as yet there is no anticipation that anyone will have his head chopped off.  Hobby Lobby refuses to assist its employees in killing their babies, and so must be punished.

While the federal minimum wage is $7.25, Hobby Lobby pays its entry-level full-time employees $11.  Still, our freely-elected government feels that this extra compensation cannot cover killing babies, so Hobby Lobby will be fined $1.3 million dollars per day until the little corpses begin stacking up outside the incinerators.  That’s a rough cliff for Hobby Lobby and their 13,000 workers, and a rougher one for children.

Saudi Arabia reports that their police arrested some 43 people at the private residence of an unnamed Asian diplomat for “plotting to celebrate Christmas” (  Note that the arrests were not for celebrating Christmas, but for plotting to celebrate Christmas.  Lots of American soldiers were killed defending foreign oil companies and the Family Saud from Saddamn Hussein.  The Family Saud show their appreciation by throwing everyone off the cliff.

The American Red Cross has issued a somewhat indignant statement about inaccurate emails regarding the salary of CEO Gail McGovern.  Ms. McGovern’s base pay is only $500,000 per year, thank you (  The residents of Haiti, Sandi Hook, coastal Mississippi, coastal Louisiana, and all of East Texas (Rita and Ike – you may have heard of them) will be relieved that Ms. McGovern can afford her own hot lunch and a big blue tarp to cushion her fall from any cliffs than come meandering along.

Hey, Happy Cliff Year, everyone.  Let us hope our new robes sit well enough upon us.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

12.16.2012, "Here I Am"

Mack Hall

“Here I Am”

Last Friday, on a very grim day for this nation, four young women chose to light candles against the darkness, and to say “Here I am” to those who suffer.

Brittany Carroll, Amber Coleson, Samantha Guillory, and Tara Roe-Sanchez took The Nightingale Pledge in a candle-lit ceremony at Jasper’s First United Methodist Church.  As LVN candidates in Angelina College’s nursing program, they have completed the first phase of their classroom studies and practical experience, and now look forward to taking their state board exams.  All intend to work towards the RN.

Brittany Carroll and Samantha Guillory received their caps and pins from their lead instructor, Lisa West, RN, MSN, FNP-C.  Amber Coleson elected Whitney Franklin, RN, BSN, for that honor, and Tara Roe-Sanchez was privileged to be capped and pinned by her mother, Patti Hooks, herself a new RN. 

Sharing the solemn joy were the new nurses’ families, friends, and their other instructors:  Liz Powell, RN, MEd; Charlet Blades, RN, MSN; Jacquelyn McClain, RN, BSN; Winifred Ferguson-Adams, RN, MEd; and Amber Murphy, RN, BSN.

Although many nursing schools have dropped The Nightingale Pledge, along with capping and pinning ceremonies, Angelina College knows that nursing is more than a state-licensed occupation; it is a vocation grounded in faith; it is a vocation that says “Here I am.”   

Advent is the perfect time for men and women to respond to the call to nursing through The Nightingale Pledge, for just as our Blessed Mother said her own “Here I am” to God, so do nurses. 

There is perhaps no higher calling, for in emergency rooms, home health, ICU, clinics, hospital wards, missions, operating rooms, ambulances, medevacs, aboard ships at sea, and in the desert aid posts, nurses, to those suffering from disaster, disease, and the murderous follies of mankind, are the constant “Here I am.”

On this happy night there were photographs and cakes and congratulations, but after that there will be long shifts and sleepless nights and impossible demands upon their nursing skills and their energy.  There will sometimes be victories and happy endings, but there will also be many losses and sorrows.  To this sacred calling, Brittany, Amber, Samantha, and Tara have said, without hesitation, “Here I am.”


Sunday, December 9, 2012

12.9.1012, What Evil Lurks in the Mayor's Refrigerator?

Mack Hall

What Evil Lurks in the Mayor’s Refrigerator?

In the Village of Charlo in New Brunswick, the local government is arguing as to whether or not the city council may keep their beer stash in the mayor’s office refrigerator.

New Brunswick, as you will recall from third-grade geography, is a Canadian province that borders Finland and Ulan-Bator, and is famous for Mounties riding in sleighs drawn by reindeer while chasing polar bears.

In merry Charlo, according to the CBC, the councilors are accustomed to meeting in the mayor’s office to bend an elbow and continue discussing village business after concluding the official council meeting.

In the USA we used to called folks elected to a city council councilmen, and now city councilmen can still be councilmen unless they are councilwomen and sometimes councilpersons.  Councilor is shorter and neater. 

The leader of any meeting back in Ye Olden Times used to be called a chairman, but the position was shortened to chair.  Visitors on the agenda are allowed to address the chair, which could be awkward if no one is actually sitting in the chair.  If the mayor has stepped out for a moment perhaps the speaker may address some other object: “Thank you, Madame Table, for allowing me to speak today,” or maybe “Mr. Ashtray, I wish to urge this committee to consider…”

Anyway, the mayor of Charlo, Jason Carter, thought that councilors shouldn’t be discussing village business while treating the mayor’s office refrigerator as the local franchise of the Long Branch Saloon.

Mayor Carter told the councilors to stop it.  They didn’t.

He then removed the wine, coolers, and whatever 40-ouncers are from his office refrigerator; the councilors told him to put the booze back, and he did.

Councilor Roger LeClaire said that he and his fellow councilors “sometimes have a drink after public meetings, but only on special occasions.”   Like, maybe, days ending in “y?”

Mayor Carter, shocked, shocked that there was drinking going on in council, tendered his resignation, which the council joyfully accepted, not with “Aye!” but with “I’ll drink to that!”

Charlo seems, from the information available on the ‘net (and the ‘net is always accurate, right?), to be a pleasant little town of about 1300 folks on a bay off the St. Lawrence.  Its first Euro types, in 1799, were Cajuns, and French remains the dominant language.  The area features a nice little airport, commercial and sport fishing, tourism, forestry, agriculture, skiing, hiking, and numerous motels, B & Bs, and restaurants, and suffers almost no crime.  In the summers the highs are in the 70s; just now Charlo is an invigorating 24 or so. 

In 1943, flower-class corvette HMCS Rimouski chased away German sub U-236, which had been lurking in the bay off Charlo in a blocked attempt to take on board escaped German prisoners-of-war.  The Rimouski was long ago turned into beer cans and fenders, but you can visit her sister ship, HMCS Sackville, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Charlo, New Brunswick sounds like a great place to relax for a week or so, not only for the many attractions for both the active and the sedentary visitor, but because the worst political squabble they have had in recent memory is about what might be chillin’ in the mayor’s office refrigerator.



Tuesday, December 4, 2012


I have forgotten to mention that my new vanity collection of poetry, The Road to Magdalena, is available from on kindle for .99 (yes, cents), and from as bits of a dead tree for $6.95. 

Look for it under Lawrence Hall or Lawrence Mack Hall (I forget which); the "Lawrence" instead of "Mack" is a tiresome, irrelevant story.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Mayonnaise Doomsday

Mack Hall

Doomsday according to the Mayonnaise Calendar

Last week, a twenty-something woman famous for being famous slugged a psychic in a high-toned juke-joint.  The relevant question is this: did the psychic see the punch coming?

Perhaps the two women were arguing over their underground shelters and their stocks of dried peas and their .556 semi-automatic rifles in anticipation of The End Times.

Yes, once again the world is coming to an end, just before Christmas, this time prophesied by a Ye Old Mayonnaise (or something) Calendar inscribed on a stone by barefoot Mayonnaise shamans chanting Wagner’s Ring Cycle backwards before the evil Conquistadors came with their nefarious global warming and it’s all over the ‘net so it must be true.

One wonders if there is a Charlie Brown special for that.

A saunter through the tangled electronic mess we access on our magic plastic boxes reveals dozens of companies selling goodies for The End of the World: guns, knives, drums of dried peas (yum), drums of waters, and vacuum-packed envelopes of freeze-dried Ye Old Country Chuckwagon Western Down-Home Mountain Trail Beef Stew (so embalmed that it will last for thirty years). 

One advertisement shows an image of what appears to a lovely family smiling as they survey shelves of preserved food in their underground temple of doom.  Perhaps Dad is saying “Look, kids, enough preserved food for thirty years!  The rest of the planet will be destroyed by the rogue planet igZapthorp X2 as predicted by ancient Mayonnaise priests, but the five of us will be safe forever in our bunker.  Go to bed, now, and don’t make me get out that electric cattle-prod.”

On the big plastic box somebody who used to be famous gallops his horsey up to the screen and assures you that with the coming collapse of civilization you’ll want to give him your worthless American currency in exchange for his company’s shiny yellow metal.  And maybe some magic beans.

No one asks once-famous-old-guy this logical question: if my American currency is so worthless, why do you want to give me your gold for it?

Since the Mayonnaise end of the world is coming, hey, don’t worry about paying off any debt.  Go ahead, spring for that Mercedes-Benz.

Hey, kids, don’t stress your report card; the flying Mayonnaise jar’s going to take out the planet before the end of the semester.  So much for algebra.

The End will be prefaced by the shifting of the magnetic poles, so we’ll all have to go out and buy new compasses because at that moment all the computers on the planet will freeze on images of Khardassian-Boo-Boo, which is because of the global warming fracking caused by the 666 government scientists in the secret bunker beneath Denver’s airport messin’ around with the Ark of the Covenant which Indiana Jones found hidden in a secret compartment of the Eiffel Tower, a secret signal-transmitter pointed toward Neptune and guarded by albino monks armed with machine guns and taking secret orders from the Dolly Llama who carries in his head the final secrets of the occult Nazi SS which were supposed to have been loaded aboard a secret Japanese submarine powered by a mysterious crystal floating in a triangle which harnesses the power of the sun as determined by ancient Sumerians who were the predecessors of the Masons who through the Jews control the Vatican finances of the Pope who is actually an incarnation of the moon god Xpoopus and through mind-beams controls the actions of the National Guard who are in fact reincarnations of King Solomon’s bodyguard of left-handed onion-sellers trading the sacred knowledge of ancient Chinese kings who lost it when Dr. No stole their sacred memory-rings and transported them to an island in the Caribbean where James Bond found them and they didn’t tell you that bit in the movie because the CIA and MI6 were in on it together and you’d know that if you’d paid better attention to The Lord of the Rings because Tolkien was a secret agent for MI5 or 6 or something, and alluded to it in the bit about the Mines of Moriah which were actually the cave in Patrick McGoohan’s The Village which caused Hurricane Sandy to destroy New Jersey and it’s all on your secret decoder ring which you can order for $12.95 from Rebel-Red Bubba’s Survival Gear ‘N’ Stuff at www.geek.paranoia.grow.up.

The space ships aren’t going to come, you know, so let’s all climb down off the roof and have a nice cup of coffee.


Monday, November 26, 2012

The Mayan Apocalypse is Coming - Shop Early

Mack Hall

The Mayan Apocalypse is Coming – Shop Early 

“There are those like Norfolk who follow me because I wear the crown, and there are those like Master Cromwell who follow me because they are jackals with sharp teeth and I am their lion, and there is a mass that follows me because it follows anything that moves – and there is you.”

-      King Henry to Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons

Abraham Lincoln’s pocket knife, now part of a collection in the Smithsonian, was in his pocket when he was murdered, and reminds us of a time when no man was fully dressed without his pocket knife. 

And how many times can one reasonably use “pocket” in once sentence?

No one seems to know what brand President Lincoln’s knife was, but it looks much like a Schrade.  Just as this nation will never be blessed with another President Lincoln, neither can one ever again buy an American-made Schrade, since the company folded (no pun intended) years ago, and Schrade is now Chinese. 

We can be reasonably sure that when President Lincoln bought his pocket knife he rode his horse to a store for the express purpose of buying a pocket knife because he needed a pocket knife.  He was not defined by the act of shopping. 

President Lincoln, upon proclaiming Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, did not then camp out for a midnight opening, join in a gang fight, punch someone, discharge a gun, run over folks with his horse, throw merchandise, or wear a “Black Friday” tee shirt. 

He ought to have re-thought that hat, though.

A recent news show featured a poor woman who didn’t know what to do with the four television sets, among other merchandise, still in boxes on her floor.  She bought the televisions because they were on sale, and she is a shopper.  She revealed all this to the reporter with no sense of embarrassment or irony.  She didn’t need the televisions and she wasn’t buying them for gifts; she was buying them because buying things defines her.

Americans are often stereotyped as being obsessed with material things, but material things in themselves are usually good.  A pocket knife, a television set, a new shirt, a music album, a fountain pen, a coffee cup – these are all good and useful, not obsessions. 

But we may well call an obsession the repeated act of purchasing things one doesn’t need or even want – the four televisions come to mind. 

The images of people camping, waiting, shoving, quarreling, and shopping on a schedule dictated by popular culture reinforced by advertising suggest that the possession of an object is not, well, the object; after all, one can buy a pocket knife or a television almost any time.  The purpose seems to be the camping, waiting, shoving, quarreling, and shopping in themselves; that is, one submerges himself in a cause and thus finds an identity, not unlike someone wearing the colors and adornments of a sports team.  The team doesn’t know who the individual fan is, and wouldn’t care if they did know, but that’s not the point – the point is that the individual, alone and lonely in a mysterious universe, finds comfort and identity within a crowd, and almost any crowd will do.

The desperate need for an identity is perhaps understandable up to a point, but to connect one’s identity with something as transient as a group activity scheduled by advertising is not.  The collectivist concept of Black Friday did not exist until several years ago; Grey Thursday was invented this year.  For a popular culture living in an eternal Now, though, reality means nothing; Grey Thursday exists, has always existed, and will always exist because the stores have decreed it so.  Orwell’s terrifying socialist Oceania couldn’t have duped millions of people as easily as modern advertising.

And the people said “Woo! Woo!”


Sunday, November 18, 2012

11.18.2012, You Own That Hostess Twinkie

Mack Hall


You Own That Hostess Twinkie®


If you were to say “Hostess CupCake®” this week, folks might reasonably think you were alluding to any of the industrial-strength, military-groupie housewives associated with some of this nation’s free-range, untamed-heart generals, steely-eyed men focused on the mission.


Hostess CupCakes® were made of chocolate with a gooey white center, and featured a glazed top with a series of white squiggles.  Other companies now make similar sugar-bombs, but the Hostess CupCake®, although modified in the 1950s, enjoyed a history dating back to 1919.


If you want a chocolate cupcake you’ll have to go with another brand, for Hostess, purveyors of hollow calories to generations, is no more.  The bakers’ union blames the company, and the company blames the bakers’ union.  Perhaps we should all just get along and agree that the demise of Hostess Brands is George Bush’s fault.


Y’r ‘umble scrivener went looking for a Hostess CupCake® last week, though he hadn’t had one since his boyhood.  He considered enjoying a last trip down amnesia lane as a salute to TWA, J. C. Higgins, PanAm, Westinghouse, Studebaker, Woolworth’s, Philco, Lone Star Beer, Kodak, Marx toys, and the concept of America as a wealthy nation.  Alas that he found none, for in the afternoon the online auctions were dealing in Hostess products for thousands of dollars.


Thus, if you see your child enjoying a delicious Hostess product, yank it out of his mouth, give him a can of nutritious asparagus, and hie thee (or Ho Ho® thee) to the internet.


Just in time for the holidays, 18,500 former Hostess employees are now looking for work more meaningful than selling their old uniforms or some leftover Twinkies® wrappers on the ‘net.  Their resumes’ don’t boast of honorary consulships, parties in Tampa, jetting around the world in the government executive jets their taxes paid for, dining with General So-and-So, schmoozing with Secretary Thus-and-Such, Harvard MBAs, or book deals.  Their union probably didn’t do them any good, but neither did the unnecessarily high price of utilities and transport, punitive tax structures for businesses and workers, over-regulation, a culture that despises workers, and the hemorrhaging of what remains of our economy by dropping expensive explosive toys in undeclared wars protecting people who hate our guts and our Hostess CupCakes® but who love to take our bribes. 


Perhaps at Christmas the unemployed former Hostess and associated workers can trudge through the snow to let their children peer through the windows of the government mansions of our government leaders and look at the Christmas trees and gifts they can never enjoy themselves before making their forlorn way to Christmas dinner at a soup kitchen.  As they say Grace they might perhaps hear the roar of yet another government executive jet flying yet another government executive to a wine-tasting tour of Australia or to a government executive conference in Switzerland or France.  The unemployed mom or dad can point to the vapor trail and tell the cold, hungry child “You own that.”



Sunday, October 14, 2012

First Methodist Church, Kirbyville

First Methodist, Kirbyville

Not very old, these stones; still, old enough
To witness as a careful heap the faith
Of men who saw the sun go down in France
As German shells sought out the living dead
Along ancient rivers that Charlemagne knew;

Of those who marked high noon by the sawmill,
Whose whistle shrilled far out into the fields;

The careless youths of a happier time
Whispering in Sunday school the dusty plot
Of yesterday’s Roy Rogers matinee;

The Women’s Society of Christian Service:
Gloves, purses, hats, dresses in flowered prints,
Those Vestal matrons in charge of What’s Right,
Setting men, boys, and coffee cups in order,
And the occasional minister, too.

The feasts and seasons pass, and so do we,
Remembered briefly in old photographs
On the wall of the Beeler Bible Class,
And the seasons turn ‘round again, and life
Renews, each Easter and Christmas,
The ordained rhythm of the universe
Until unknowing time itself is unknown.

The stones of our little parish age well,
Almost golden now, in the morning sun,
Following the seasons along with us;
The stones remember all, and if required,
As Jesus said, will sing the Truth aloud:
These, too, are the stones of Jerusalem.

And They Call the Wind Tiffany

Mack Hall

And They Call the Wind Tiffany

The Weather Channel (D - Georgia), for reasons best known to its coven of Global Warmingistas, is going to name winter storms.

The Weather Channel, which really was founded as a weather channel, has since evolved into infotainment and ideology, and like most ideologies doesn’t tolerate dissent, so you’d better agree to the naming and to the names if you don’t want trouble.

Naming a storm could present legal problems: if The Weather Channel names a cold front Anastasia and you insist on calling it Bob, does The Weather Channel have a case against you?  And if you wish to name your child Anastasia, do you have to pay The Weather Channel copyright fees?

Perhaps other telly shows will begin naming meteorological features.  The Military Channel could name tomorrow morning’s sunrise General Patton while MSNBC calls it PeeWee Herman.  The Western Channel might brand a light overcast James Arness, while Fox News honors a heavy snow as Herman Cain.

General Motors might insist that the moon© is now the Volt©. 

The Weather Channel has issued its manifesto naming this winter’s storms
( Athena, Brutus, Caesar, Draco, Euclid, Freyr, Gandolf, Helen, Iago, Jove, Khan, Luna, Magnus, Nemo, Orko, Plato, Q, Rocky, Saturn, Triton, Ukko, Virgil, Walda, Xerxes, Yogi, Zeus.

This list is provisional, since it has not yet been granted a nihil obstat by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D – Texas).

Too bad there’s not a Snooki, but maybe next year.

The reader might become excited about Yogi, thinking Jellystone National Park’s favorite bear was finally to be recognized for his many gifts to American culture, but The Weather Channel advises us that their Yogi is for one who does yoga. 

Iago is for most folks the Spanish for James, as in Saint James / Santiago, but The Weather Channel will have none of that Christian nonsense – their Iago is the villain in Shakespeare’s Othello. 

Draco is for the Athenian lawgiver, but The Weather Channel may not be aware that Draco’s laws (“Draconian”) favored the death penalty for most crimes, even for stealing a cabbage (, and slavery for something less than stealing a cabbage, but only for the peasants; the nobility got a better deal from Draco.

What do we name The Weather Channel itself?  She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed?

In the delightful comic strip Hi and Lois, the youngest child, Trixie, still a rug-rat, greets the morning sun sharing her floor by singing out “Hi, sunbeam!”

A progressive, modern mother would of course put a stop to this nature stuff by drawing the blinds and setting Trixie before flickering images of America’s nasal-pitched answer to Oxford and Cambridge, Big Bird.

And then The Weather Channel would impose upon the sunbeam a progressive, modern name from an approved list respecting the delicate sensitivities of the loudest non-reader available.