Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Fall Festival Time

By: L.A. Kohl
September 10, 2006
(published in the September 20, 2006 edition of "The Bullseye")
I’m a person who likes things that are constant and unchanging. (Just ask my husband, whose inborn desire to rearrange furniture on a regular basis always bewilders me.) Many things in our lives continually change: children grow up, the economy goes up and down, “newer and better” versions of things come out, people get older, friends and acquaintances move on. For me, it’s just comforting to have a few stand-bys that vary little from year to year.

That’s part of the reason why I enjoy fall so much – its similarities each year are refreshing. You can always count on cooler weather, changing colors, and last but not least…fall festivals. Everywhere I look, I read about different towns celebrating something during this time of year. In Hatton, it’s pumpkins; in Boonville, it’s steam engines; in Hermann, it’s wine; in Marceline, it’s cartoonists; in the town where I grew up, it’s old settlers; and here in Sturgeon and Harrisburg this past weekend – it was just fall in general.

They can all call it something different and focus on varying themes…but basically they are all just a fun way for communities to celebrate fall. You’ll find many similarities at whichever festival you choose to attend…parades, carnivals, baby contests, queen contests, music and dancing, and loads of food, just to name a few.

The parade is always the highlight for my children – mostly because they like getting candy. My dad loves the antique cars, or in Harrisburg’s case, the ugly trucks. The candy and cars are okay, but what I really enjoy are the marching bands.

They bring back memories from my distant past (much more distant than I care to admit.) Who could forget all of that marching, over and over, putting in extra hours before and after school because there was so little time to practice between the beginning of school and the time of the first football game and the Old Settler’s Reunion?

Thus, I just can’t help myself; I have to intently study a band that marches by. Are their steps all in “left/right” sync, are they all “guiding right," and are they all getting their knees up? Problem is, most bands today don’t have to get their knees up…I think they waited until after my marching band days were over to change the rules on what “marching” really constituted. Ah well, the style may change, but as long as there are marching bands in the parade, I remain content.

And that’s what I like – the knowledge that there will be a marching band in a parade, in some fall festival somewhere. It’s not the specific band or parade itself; it’s the fact that it’s a constant in this ever changing, fast-paced world of ours.

So this fall, take some time to relax and celebrate the unchanging sameness of a local fall festival. Your parents and grandparents before you probably did, and your children and grandchildren after you undoubtedly will, why mess with tradition?!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

My Disturbing "View" of News

By: L.A. Kohl
September 1, 2006
(published in the September 6, 2006 edition of the "Bullseye")
We don’t do “news” much around here. No subscriptions to big name newspapers, no nightly viewing of the news on TV, etc. For the most part, we find it all very biased, depressing, and not worth our time. But, I do occasionally read reports from different sources on the internet – and this past week I read two totally unrelated articles that just made me go “UGH!” in exasperation.

The first was passed on to me from an acquaintance in Sturgeon. The article was from the July 22, 2006 edition of the In a nut shell (emphasis mine) it was about a man named José Luis De Jesús Miranda – they just call him De Jesús for short. You can probably guess from his name what his problem is…yup, he thinks he’s Jesus Christ.

Oh, he hasn’t always thought that; particularly when he was a 14 yr. old heroine addict. However, over the years he’s progressed from being himself, to being the re-incarnate Apostle Paul, to being “the Other” (supposedly paving the way for the second coming of Christ) and now, finally, to being Jesus Christ himself.

The sad thing is that he has a very large following in several countries. His church claims to have 300 education centers in 52 countries, 200 pastors, 225 radio programs and its own 24-hour Spanish-language satellite network that's beamed into approximately 3 million homes.

That article actually didn’t surprise me very much. There have been people like De Jesús come and go throughout the centuries. In fact, Jesus Himself, (the real one, who lived a couple thousand years ago and has been gaining followers daily, ever since) warned us that there would be such “false prophets." Time will prove the falsehood of guys like De Jesús; but I pity the people deceived by him in the meantime.

The other article that I found disturbing was entitled “Fashion Aims Young," from the August 24, 2006 New York Times. It was all about how the fashion industry has begun targeting the 4 to 9 year old segment of society. (Yes, I said FOUR to NINE year old.) They claim that their miniature creations of adult clothing aren’t necessarily sexy, just “candidly provocative."  (I had to read that a few times…trying to decide how “candidly provocative” was more acceptable than “sexy.") Do I really want my little seven-year-old girl looking “candidly provocative?"

As much as I hate to see the JonBenet case plastered all over the media once again – if nothing else, does it not re-iterate to parents the possible dangers of dressing our little girls up as fashion queens? So what if Karr wasn’t the murderer? The fact remains that he seems to have had a very sick infatuation with a little six year old girl. And I’m sorry to say – there are a lot more perverts out there like him. (Excuse the harsh judgment there – but as a mom of six girls, I have a zero tolerance level for men like that.) To me, common sense says, “Don’t dress little girls like fashion models, if for no other reason than to keep guys like him from noticing your daughter."

The sad thing to me about this article was not that the clothing industry is trying to make little girls look candidly provocative – it’s the fact that we, as parents, are buying into it, because we all know they wouldn’t be creating the stuff if it wasn’t a lucrative business.

The article ended with a mom from New York, who seemed to think it was cute that her four-year-old daughter walked in wearing something tight and hot pink, and basically said, “I’m wearing it mom, whether you want me to or not.” I pity them both. If the mom is too lame to tell her daughter “no” when she’s only four…they are in for a lot of problems in the years to come.

Thus, that’s why we usually choose not to keep up with the news. I prefer to dress my little girls in cut-offs and t-shirts - and remain blissfully ignorant!