Tag Archives: Sasquatch

Celebrating a Hero’s Birthday

By Jim Bennett
Daily Review Atlas

Six percent of U.S. residents refuse to believe that American astronauts have ever landed on the Moon. If you happen to be one of them, now would be a good time for you to put down the newspaper, don your Reynolds Wrap shower cap and go search for Sasquatch, or maybe watch a Michael Moore film. This column is devoted to celebrating Neil Armstrong. Today, Aug. 5, this giant among the ever-dwindling pantheon of living American heroes turns 80.

Sadly, the Apollo 11 mission was such a stunning leap forward in human achievement that Armstrong’s other accomplishments are seldom mentioned, and they are certainly worthy of review. For instance, he became a licensed pilot at just 16; three years later, at the tender age of 19, he was in the U.S. Navy, flying from, and landing on, aircraft carriers.
At 21, Armstrong was handling dangerous combat runs over China and North Korea. In September of 1951, while on a low-altitude bombing mission, anti-aircraft fire struck his Grumman Panther and sent it plummeting. At just 500 feet off the ground his plane struck a cable, clipping off about six feet of its right wing. Somehow the young ensign managed to regain control of the F9F-2 long enough to fly it out of enemy airspace, but the wing damage made landing it out of the question. The treacherous and unpredictable prospect of ejection was a gamble, but he took it. He would go on to rack up a total of 78 missions in the Korean War.

Many have also forgotten that later, as a civilian, Neil Armstrong would make a career of cheating death daily as a research pilot of experimental aircraft. And the spectacle of the Moon landing also eclipses his earlier space journey, serving as command pilot of Gemini VIII. The mission was the first of its kind: Docking one orbiting spacecraft with another. Mere moments after the risky, historic rendezvous had been completed, however, the capsule and target vehicle began to spin dangerously and the trip had to be cut short. Nevertheless, the Moon shot would have remained just a hopeful dream if Gemini VIII hadn’t proven that two vessels in orbit could link up together.

Apollo 11, of course, was the realization of that dream, and it is wholly understandable why it would be the Neil Armstrong highlight we all remember. Not that it went perfectly, mind you: Alarms were sounding frantically as the Lunar Module “Eagle” carried Armstrong and LM pilot Buzz Aldrin down to the Moon’s surface; reportedly the stream of radar data was coming in to the craft’s computers at a rate much faster than they could handle (That mobile phone in your shirt pocket actually has more processing power than they had). The intended landing area was significantly overshot as well, and there was less than a minute’s worth of propellant remaining when they finally touched down.

Yet before the “giant leap for mankind” took place, Armstrong was part of one other seldom-mentioned event, if only as a witness. A few days before the launch, Aldrin, a church elder, had asked his pastor to help him plan a meaningful way to claim that historic occasion for God. Once the Eagle had landed, Aldrin revealed to Armstrong that he intended to take communion on the Moon.

Though he had hoped to broadcast it to the world, NASA demurred; they were already being sued by atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair (she objected to the Apollo 8 astronauts reading from Genesis when they orbited the moon at Christmas). Privately, with Armstrong looking on, Aldrin read a Bible verse, ate the bread, drank the wine and gave thanks.

Incidentally, the verse was John 15:5, where Jesus says, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

Amen.

I don’t believe Neil Armstrong has commented much on this particular moment from Apollo 11, and I frankly have no idea what spiritual beliefs, if any, he holds. But I do so hope this courageous American has placed his own trust in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. One who has ascended to the heights he has should know that “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.”

Jim Bennett is the pastor of Rozetta Baptist Church in rural Henderson County.

Copyright 2010 Daily Review Atlas. Some rights reserved

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Helping America Love Soccer

By Jim Bennett
Daily Review Atlas

Let’s face it: Soccer is a flop here. The pastime the rest of the world lives for is about as popular with Americans as Helen Thomas is with the Jewish Anti-Defamation League.

The Yankee yawn of indifference toward soccer mystifies all other nations. The typical European, Asian or Latin American sports enthusiast behaves as if the World Cup consists of one team curing cancer while the other team captures and exhibits a live Sasquatch. Yet if you were to judge the game based on the apathetic response it receives stateside, you’d think it was just some guys kicking a ball around.

What accounts for this domestic disinterest? The prevailing wisdom asserts that our collective psychological marketplace for amusements is finite; since baseball, basketball and football have filled up most of the space available for sports, there is very little room left for soccer. I don’t buy that. The popularity of “Jersey Shore” and “Glee” categorically proves that we, as a people, have no cultural gag-reflex when it comes to what we’re willing to consume as entertainment.

Another theory holds that soccer’s pace makes it too boring for attention-deficient Americans. Nah. One of our fastest growing spectator sports is three hours of watching a clump of cars circling a track.

Recently, though, I heard the least-credible theory of all. Some wit declared that soccer is a non-starter here because violent hooliganism abroad has left us with a bad impression of fútbol.
Well, that’s just crazy-talk! Who loves sports-related riots more than the people of this great republic?

Fans in the USA don’t even need a heartbreaking loss or a bad call to trigger mayhem; a joyous victory for the home team is every bit as likely to release the Kraken. The Lakers’ championship win this month touched off celebratory rioting in L.A. that was as bad as, well, the rioting after the Lakers’ championship win last year.

Celebrating a big win by making the hometown play Tina to their Ike has become tradition among U.S. sports mobs. Tigers votaries gave Motown the arson-and-rioting equivalent of an atomic wedgie after Detroit claimed the Commissioner’s Trophy in ’84. Following the Broncos’ Super Bowl XXXII win, Denver fans made the Mile-High City look like it had just been shot by the Death Star. And six years ago, as Red Sox supporters enjoyed the kind of triumph they hadn’t seen since the great World Series victory of 1918, they rejoiced by subjecting Beantown to the kind of destruction it hadn’t seen since the Great Boston Molasses Tragedy of 1919.

Which is not to say, of course, that a loss can’t stir things up too. Remember those mischievous imps from Michigan State University who, in 1999, registered their displeasure with the Spartans’ Final Four defeat by reducing the entire Lower Peninsula to a smoldering heap of post-apocalyptic rubble? Granted, they didn’t rack up double-digit and triple-digit body counts like the Brits in Belgium back in ’85 or the 2001 African riots, but those loveable MSU scamps did beat up a Taco Bell.

Truthfully, I have no idea why soccer is so unpopular here. I know nothing about sports. For most of my life, there hasn’t been a single game that I enjoyed playing, let alone watching.

Recently, however, something amazing happened: I am now hopelessly and obsessively in love with a sport! I’m referring to that noblest of all diversions, bowling. And if that can happen to me, then coaxing this country into an infatuation with soccer will be a snap.

In fact, it’s literally as easy as the press of a button.

You see, not long ago I reluctantly went to a bowling alley with a friend, and as I was preparing to seethe, cringe and loathe, I noticed a little white button on the scorekeeper’s table.

“What’s that for?” I asked, pointing.

“Oh, this?” my friend said. He pressed it.

Approximately twenty seconds later a woman with a notepad approached him. They had a brief conversation and she left. Ten minutes later she returned, carrying a tray that held Jell-O, curly fries, corn dogs and Pepsi.

I was sold. In that instant, I became a ten-pin zealot forever.

So, if they’re serious about popularizing soccer in the USA, it begins and ends with installing those magical waitress-summoning buttons in every seat at every arena in the country. Do this, and mark my words: Overnight, the American people will be saying to soccer what I now say to bowling:

“You had me at Jell-O.”

Jim Bennett is the pastor of Rozetta Baptist Church in rural Henderson County.

Copyright 2010 Daily Review Atlas. Some rights reserved

“America: Help Is On The Way” By Jim Bennett

eye              These are grim times indeed.  This nation is beset on all sides by virtually every imaginable scourge:  War, the H1N1 virus, economic disaster, Kanye West…However, I question the pall of hopelessness that has descended.  You can call me a cockeyed optimist all you wish (although I prefer you address me by my nickname, “Spanky B”), but the truth is I’m merely aware of something that apparently most of us have forgotten:  Our government’s most effective problem-solving agency – more heroic than even the Department of Agriculture – is on the job.  Why would we despair for America’s destiny when the Office of Scientific Intelligence has never failed us before?  They are working, quietly and competently, behind the scenes, and therefore no citizen need be anxious about the future of the USA.  With them as our secret weapon, my fellow Americans, our tomorrows are brighter than ever. 

            Consider their track record.  I think you’ll see that the tasks at hand today are relatively routine for an agency of their caliber.  Take the economy, for example.  How hard could it be for them to restore it?  I mean, they took Steve Austin, astronaut – a man barely alive, mind you – and using the technology they had, they built the world’s first bionic man.  Sure, it cost six million dollars to do it, and yeah, that sounds like a lot of money, but not when you figure in the fact that the contractor’s top-end estimate was 8.3 million!  And not only did they rebuild him, they also made him better than he was before; and not just better – also stronger, AND faster!  But most importantly, they brought the whole project in well under budget, and with no overtime.

            Some feel our greatest enemy is a Carter-esque state of national malaise; they say President Obama does not exude the kind of personal strength that inspires the people’s confidence.  Whether he does or doesn’t is a matter of opinion with a margin of error of plus or minus three percent, but does it really matter?  All of those reassuring qualities and more are found in Oscar Goldman, the venerable director of the OSI and the real power behind the throne.  I defy you to find a more dignified, capable leader anywhere.  Under his unwavering, wise command, every national crisis we have faced in recent memory has been resolved.  And each of them was far more catastrophic that any current menace.    

            There are those who are convinced that climate change will end life as we know it.  Have we so soon forgotten the cataclysmic storms of 1977?  When the OSI learned the climatic upheaval was actually being provoked by a deranged scientist attempting to alter the moon’s orbit, they didn’t wait for Congressman Barney Frank to convene the House Committee on Financial Services!  Oscar Goldman did what decisive leaders do in a crisis:  He dispatched his machine-man to the lunar surface, and Mr. Austin promptly dealt out some cyborg justice.  That’s just how the OSI rolls.  Trust me, if global warming actually is melting the Arctic ice shelf, it’s only a matter of time until the OSI makes sure all our polar bears stop drowning and get back to the three things polar bears do best:  Looking cuddly, pitching Coca-Cola, and serving as the upholstery for the couch in Sarah Palin’s office.

            For some, the gravest fear is that a terrorist will rise up and be our nation’s undoing.  Do I really need to recount for you what happened to the mastermind who tried to extort millions from our  government by raising an abandoned Nazi U-boat and threatening to launch atomic weapons at our shores?  One bionic beatdown later and the score was USA: 1, crazed submariner: 0.    

            Look, I know things appear bleak right now, but when you feel afraid, just do what I do:  Close your eyes, hum the Star Spangled Banner, and remember that Steve Austin once beat up a robot Sasquatch so badly that its arm came off.  We can rest easy, knowing this nation’s security is under Steve’s watchful eye, with its bionic, 20:1 zoom lens and night vision function.   

            (Note to readers:  I accept full responsibility for this column.  I was the one who forgot to pick up Jim’s medication, and I was also the one who bought him the “Six Million Dollar Man” DVD box set for his birthday.  His physician assures me he’ll be fine after a little rest. – The Mrs.)

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