Monday, October 19, 2009

Thought For the Day

"Opera is where a guy gets stabbed in the back, and instead of dying, he sings."
--Robert Benchley

Idiocy and Banality @ Work

I’m tired of the idiocy and banality that surrounds me at work. I was sitting at my desk this morning and overheard a conversation between two co-workers. One woman was complaining to the other about snakes and how she hated snakes and wished that all snakes were dead. As soon as she finished ranting about how evil snakes are she then told a story about a mouse that was running around her kitchen counter this weekend. She started to complain about how disgusting mice were, how they carried diseases, and how she wished that all mice were dead. I wanted to stand up and tell her, “You idiot, don’t you know snakes eat mice!” Instead I sat quietly and wept inside. I really need to find a new job.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

An Eulogy For My Dad

For those of you who don't know, ten days ago my Dad died. It was very sudden and he died in his sleep. There's a whole lot I could write about all that's happened, but for now I'm going to save most of it until I can figure a way of getting it out in a productive and useful way on paper. Anyway, at my Dad's funeral last week I delivered the eulogy. What follows is the speech I had prepared. The actual delivery was a little bit different, but it's pretty darn close.

“An Eulogy For My Dad”
Tom Varner
Wednesday, October 7, 2009

During my junior year in high school, I was looking at colleges to attend after I graduated. It was the biggest choice I faced in my life up to that point. No one in my family had ever attended college and the application process was completely foreign to my family; I felt very much alone. For months I sent out letters, looked through brochures, and watched promotional videos. I had two or three notebooks filled with the pros and cons of each and every school. Offers ranged from Ivy League schools out East to major universities in California. I narrowed them down to five schools and was seriously considering either a school in Iowa or one in Tennessee. I don’t remember if I showed my final list to Dad or he looked through it one day while I was at school. But one evening he told me this.

He said, “You know, if you end up going to the Evansville, the University of Evansville, it’s close enough to home that if you get in a play or something we can come see it. It’s far enough away to be away, but close enough that if anything happened you could get home.” I hadn’t thought of that before and reconsidered Evansville as a possibility. It was ultimately the school I would attend and it was one of the best decisions of my life. All because of that one simple comment from my Dad.

That’s how it often was with Dad. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you he was a man of few words. He was scared to death of speaking in front of people. He didn’t like to talk to strangers and even if you were a close friend or family member you would be lucky to get more than a few sentences out of him at a time. He just didn’t like to talk very much. But often when he did there were either words of wisdom or some kind of joke.

The only exception to that is when Dad told stories. My Dad liked good stories. When I was younger he used to read to me or make up stories to tell. At Christmas, our family gets together and the highlight for us isn’t the presents or the food, but the stories that Dad, Uncle Bill, and the rest of the family tell about growing up and times past. Our favorite story is the one about my Uncle Bill peeing on my Dad’s head. They were at a train trestle and my uncle was on top of the trestle and had to go to the bathroom. My Dad comes walking under the trestle and lifts his hands up, surprised to see it’s raining. Then he looks up to see his brother peeing on his head. My Dad was on a bike and my Uncle was running and Uncle Bill barely beat Dad into the house. He locked himself in the bathroom until Dad’s anger subsided. Now, you might think that story is unusual, but there are all kinds of stories about my Dad that are just as entertaining: there’s the time he got chased by a wild boar, the time he and some friends tried to roll a car over at the school, the time he hit a buffalo, the time he got shot with a bullet at work, and you get the picture.

I loved my Dad. All of us did and I know he loved us. Unless he was working, he never missed one of us kid’s baseball, softball, basketball, football games or soccer matches. He came to almost all of my plays, even the musicals and he didn’t like musicals very much. I know Dad had his faults, but we all do. As the Bible says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Rom: 3:23).

I am extremely grateful to Dad. He showed me what it is for a father to love his son, his children, his family, his friends. I don’t know if he ever realized it, but in doing so he also showed us all how God loves each of us.

Jesus said that, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34b-35). There can be no question of my Dad’s love for us and though he was a quiet, simple man, he lived a life that Paul commanded believers in Thessalonica to do, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody (I Thes. 4:11-12). That is how my Dad lived. He lived a quiet life. He tried to mind his own business and he did win the respect of outsiders as apparent by all the people who were here last night and today to pay their last respects. He loved us and though he didn’t speak about it much, he loved God.

As I think about my Dad, I think his greatest regret is the pain that his unexpected death has caused everyone. Dad never wanted to cause anyone or anything any pain, be it a person or animal. Dad was full of life and if he had his druthers he would have stuck around a lot longer so there wouldn’t be so much pain and sorrow for us. But as Solomon wrote, “no man knows when his hour will come,” (Eccl. 9:12a). Only God knows that.

I know that my Dad is in a better place. He’s partying with Jesus now. I also know that it is partly because of my father’s love for me, his family, his friends; that I was able to meet Jesus. And I will, therefore, see my Dad one day again.

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O’death is your sting?...But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Cor. 15:56-57). Amen.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Radios In Heaven

"Radios In Heaven"--Plain White T's

Your time has already come and I don't know why
The last thing that I had heard
you were doin' just fine
It seems like just yesterday
I was laughing with you
Playing games at Grandma's house
well you taught me well, didn't you?
I hope I'm just like you

Do they have radios in heaven?
I hope they do
'Cause they're playing my song on the radio
And I'm singing it to you

You left before I had a chance to say goodbye
But that's the way life usually is
it just passes you by
But you can't hold on to regrets and you can't look back
So I'll just be thankful for the times that I had with you
I hope I'm just like you

Do they have radios in heaven?
I hope they do
'Cause they're playing my song on the radio
And I'm singing it to you
If they don't have radios in heaven
here's what I'll do
I can bring my guitar when my time is up and I'll play it for you

Tell me can you hear me now
if not, then I can try to sing real loud
What's it like up on the other side of the clouds?
I hope I'm just like you
I hope I turn out to be as good as you

Friday, October 02, 2009

2016 Olympics

I have to admit, I'm really glad that Chicago lost their bid for the 2016 Olympics. I live in downstate Illinois and even though I enjoy visiting the city, the politicians of the city think they are royalty and that Chicago is the State of Illinois. Being from downstate, it's nice to see them have to eat some humble pie for a change. I was rooting for Rio de Janeiro to win (South America has never hosted an Olympics). I'm glad they did.

12 ANGRY MEN Teaser Preview

Here's a teaser preview of one just one of the tension-filled dramatic scenes from Hard Road Theatre's production of 12 ANGRY MEN.