Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nordstroms Gets it Right

Yes, it's that time of year again to stir up that great debate on:
"When is it okay to put up the Christmas decorations in stores?"

This year my first sighting of Christmas was in a Menard's store on the second to last week of September. And it wasn't just an aisle of string lights and lighted snowmen; it was a full fledged onslaught of everything Christmas,at least 10 aisles to choose from.

I heard some radio fodder on this subject last week, mainly the discussion of Nordstroms Department stores taking a stand against putting any Christmas decor up until the day after Thanksgiving. One of their window signs simply explained the reason why:

Why? Well, we just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time.

Nordstroms has actually stuck to this tradition since 2009, although back then some employees complained of having to work on Thanksgiving evening to put together the decorations in Nordstroms Department Stores. I do not know if this tactic has changed or not, I hope it has. It does kind of put the sting on being able to follow through on what they say they believe: to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving.

I kind of like the way Nordstroms feels about celebrating one holiday at a time. Its sad that Thanksgiving always gets overlooked when it comes to American culture today.
Is it possibly because there are no real Thanksgiving decorations to attract consumers to the stores to spend money? I mean, who is going to rush to the store and go shopping and spend a lot of money when the only decor they see hanging up are some Autumn flowers of color, some photos of Pilgrims,and candy corn? But do we really need to be coaxed into having to celebrate a day where we are supposed to be thankful for what we have?

Thanksgiving originated from a European tradition, where a celebration was held before and after the harvest cycles for farmers to give thanks for a good harvest.

Unfortunately for some reason or another there will be many who may not carry with them a heart of thankfulness this upcoming season. But that is okay as long as those who are blessed find a way to bless those that are in need. After all, isn't that what Thanksgiving is all about, not just being thankful, but thankful in our giving as well.

As for not skipping over one season or holiday for another, I think of the other day as I ventured through the woods for some Autumn pics:

While walking along a trail I couldn't help but notice a few butterflies flying along my path. Understanding their time is short lived now, these colorful specimens were enjoying the season, wallowing from flower to flower,tree to tree, and seemingly enjoying the moment.

Shouldn't we be doing the same, enjoying the days one season at a time?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pan-de-mon-ium: Catching Hell

Imagine your life as being really good: you have a good job,great friends, great family, you coach a Little League baseball team where all the kids love you, and you live in a nice, big home in a wealthy community.

Now imagine yourself going to a baseball playoff game, having front row seats, then leave after the game having your whole world collapse in the blink of an eye.

The setting is October,2003 at Wrigley Field. The 8th inning of Game 6, and the Cubs are in the lead, just 6 outs away from surpassing an almost 100 year curse of collapses in making it to the big dance and winning a World Series Championship. A young Cub fan in his early twenties named Steve Bartman reaches out for a foul ball obstructing the field of play for the Cubs outfielder. He's then made the scapegoat, adding to 100 years of frustration for Cubs fans.

Catching Hell is a recent documentary of that fatal day for Cubbie fans of America. Nobody died, nobody committed a crime, nobody was physically hurt, but yet America treated this kid as a criminal. I love this film because it shows the idiot fallacy us humans can be:

1.The media. Oh my, I had no idea it was that bad until I saw this film. Steve Bartman was America's poster child of ill-fated history for quite a few weeks. From local to national news media he was their whipping boy. One newspaper reporter who was sitting nearby at the game angrily questioned Bartman,

"Do you have any idea what you have just done?"

The reporter would issue an apology in this film. All of the local t.v. sportscasters hung Steve Bartman out to dry,claiming he did interfere with the catch and he was to blame. Another television news reporter during a newscast gave out Bartman's home address and where he worked at. And even the Governor of Illinois declared,

"He will never get a pardon from this Governor!"

I was completely appalled at the behavior of the media after seeing this; and came away with the least respect for them as journalists.

2.The fans . This film shows never-before-seen footage of what happened in that section of seating where Steve Bartman sat, and includes interviews with some of those who sat around him during the game. For being a playoff game of epic proportions related to making history, there were extra broadcasting cameras at the game. Some cameras had stayed focused on this isolated fan and the section which became the darkest place next to hell. Steve Bartman disregarded his own safety and didn't want to leave the game until it was over.

In this piece of the documentary you see what Steve Bartman had to endure. Fans came up to him and threw beer on him, fans were yelling obscenities toward him, some threw food at him. When security finally realized they had to get him out of there for the sake of his life, they would escort him through an angry lynch mob. One fan would yell out,

"You ought to take a shotgun, insert it into your mouth, and pull the trigger."

It was at about this stage of the film where I suddenly realized that I really felt sorry for this poor innocent kid. I had no idea how bad people could get in the heat-of-the-moment when it involves witnessing a part of history, but yet, geeze, it was only a baseball game.

As they escorted Bartman out of the seating areas, the lynching continued and security had to lock him in a stadium office for his safety until hours after the game. With crowds outside the stadium still lingering three hours later waiting to get their licks in on this kid, a head of security snuck Steve into the backseat of her car and took him to her apartment close by until the morning.

As morning approached, and Bartman up all night watching his face get plastered all over the t.v., several police were at his home to protect his family from harms way.

3. The truth. A different camera angle proves that Steve Bartman was made a scapegoat. From his viewpoint Bartman could not actually see the outfielder coming toward the wall to make an attempt to catch the ball. And lest we even forget that later in that same inning the shortstop booted an easy grounder that let the Marlins score the tying and winning runs.

There were in fact at least 3 other fans who went after that foul ball, it was just unfortunate that it was the hand of Bartman who had touched it before the ball could lay in the glove of the outfielder. Another fan did come up with the baseball, but Steve Bartman was still the one everybody wanted to kill.

It was ironic that even though the Cubs lost that game, there was still one more game to play at Wrigley and they still had a chance to win and go to the Series. But everyone dwells on that one fatal night in October. A night where one Cubs fan named Steve Bartman would soon forget. And yes, the Cubs lost game 7 as well.

Steve Bartman had to eventually move out of the state, turned down thousands of dollars for interviews, and I imagine probably changed his name.The director of the film couldn't even find him.

Imagine having to leave your family and friends, your job, the kids baseball team you coached and loved doing, all because of a game.

If there's one reason why every American should watch Catching Hell it is but to save ourselves from ourselves.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fan-de-mon-ium: Detroit

I never thought I would travel 2,000 miles away from the Midwest,go to a football game in Southern California, and find some love for Detroit there; but I did. And, Detroit wasn't even the opposing team.

Detroit is known as the Motor City of America, but in recent years it has been known as the underdog of America. In the last 3 years this city has faced:

Economic despair and massive lay-offs at all 3 major auto plants

Unemployment reached its highest at 14 percent just a year ago(now its 11 percent)

A population dwindling so much that neighborhoods of deserted homes have been bulldozed and trees have been planted in their place.

And, a Detroit Lions football team that has been bad for so long they forgot what cheering fans sounded like. Just 3 years ago they had a winless season, that's right, they lost all 16 of their games. Zero. Nada. Not one win.

Today is a different story for Detroit. The Detroit Lions are 5-0,and have won 9 straight since last season. They carry with them a chip-on-their-shoulder and a winning attitude. An attitude that's been missing in Detroit for quite some time.

The Detroit Tigers baseball team is also winning and possibly on the verge of going to the World Series.

While in San Diego, we came across many football fans who were pulling for Detroit because they know what that city has experienced over the last few years, not just in football, but in life. When the scoreboard showed the final score of the Detroit Lions win, a loud roar came from this beach combers paradise of Southern Cal.

It was great to see so many Americans really pulling for this underdog city called Detroit.

Yes, there still is a heart in America. Thank God.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Great Litmus Test on Faith

Place a pair of unlaced shoes upon your feet.

Turn off the lights in the room so it is completely dark to where you can't even see your feet.

Then try tying your shoes.

Now, if you are like me, you should have found that even tying your shoes in the dark was easy. Why? Because we follow the same routine everyday when placing shoes upon our feet,so we should have gained enough confidence to where we are able to tie our shoes even in the dark.

Everyday we exercise our faith in routine situations that we probably don't give much thought to, such as: driving to work on a busy expressway with hundreds of other cars driving at high speeds and swerving in and out of lanes,or crossing a set of railroad tracks and trusting that the gates are working properly, or even hopping aboard an airplane.

So, what is stopping us from exercising that same faith when we find ourselves in a dark and dire situation?

Faith is as easy as tying your shoes in the dark. You just need to put it into practice on those dark days you may be facing.