Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Lunatic Who Runs The Asylum: 20 Questions with Jimmy 'The Deez' Calhoun

One of the things I do every morning is check my RSS feeds for any news or interesting articles. My favorite blog to read is Jabberwocky Asylum ( which is written by my longtime friend and former co-worker/manager Jimmy Calhoun, who, those of us who worked with at Books-A-Million affectionately know as, “The Deez.” I had hoped to sit down with Jim for an interview over coffee or lunch, but alas, we live a couple of hours away from each other. So, I did the next best thing; I emailed him 20 Questions. Here are those questions and his responses. Except for spelling, grammar and formatting for layout, I've not edited his responses at all – they're all 100% Jimmy. ~ JC

1. Jimmy, you and I have known each other for many years now, since our stint as co-workers for Books-A-Million. You've always been entertaining and an inspiration to me to remember to always have fun no matter what life throws at you. So, my first question would be what inspires you to always have such a great outlook on life?

**I have always pulled from a variety of sources to always have a positive outlook on life. Those being my faith, family and friends there is so much going on in the world around us that we shouldn't dwell on the bad so much as make the best with what we have. Books A Million was a great example; the place sucked to to work at, but getting to hang out with you , Danny (Iron Clown Studios), Tonya, Lily, and Shirley was awesome.

2. You've had several blogs over the past few years. What made you decide to start a blog, and how did you finally decide that Jabberwocky Asylum would be the penultimate version? Or, is it the penultimate version? Do you think you'll change the way in which you blog again or are you pretty settled on the current concept? And just what, exactly, is a Jabberwocky?

**I first decided to blog after I met a fella named Justin Doub. He has a witty little site that is unfortunately no more. After reading it I thought to myself " I can do that". So I started to go with it. However laziness and no time killed my early ventures. Then a few years later I came across Kevin Smith's Blog and again thought to myself I can do that and went with it with Jim's Loo. I had a good time writing it, but then life in a good way (meeting my wife, getting married, having a son) refocused my priorities. So I shut the loo down. Then a few years later I was settled and wanted to write again so bam here it is!! As for my concept I am pretty good on that right now. I am always looking for new ways to challenge me as a writer and hopefully entertain all of you and anyone new who may stumble along.

The Jabberwocky is a poem by Louis Carroll from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872. I always liked the poem so when i was thinking of a blog title, Jabberwocky Asylum just kinda happened.

3. You've recently mentioned on Jabberwocky Asylum that you have plans in the works for a Podcast style blog as well as an interactive message board. How are those projects coming along and do you have a time frame for when your readers can begin enjoying those?

** Soon, very soon. I am waiting on some new graphics from our friend Danny (Iron Clown Studios) and then the message board (which will be called Jim's Loo as a tribute for my old site) will be opened, as for the Podcast "Fat kids in a Basement" we are getting the kinks smoothed out and then we will start to record them. Probably on a monthly basis. They will be both funny and controversial at times.. and of course you have an open invite to be on them. SO if i have to give a time frame I'd say end of may early June! I also hope to open a Café Press store by the fall with stuff to buy like buttons, stickers, and stuff like that

4. I know that, like me, you rarely make religious or political statements on your blog. Do you think that will ever change or will you keep it pretty much in the realm of entertainment?

** As of right now I'm gonna stick to entertainment. If i feel lead to write something on that level I will, but I don't want the comment section to be a holy war or something. I may add a section on the message board for that kind of stuff. I have often thought of starting a side blog for devotions and spiritual matters and I still may if I get the time. As for the Asylum I'm sticking with the current format.

5. We've both talked about the fact that we don't get to read often enough, but when you do get the occasion to read, what kind of literature do you enjoy? Do you have a particular author you consider your favorite or a particular genre you read more than others?

**hmmm... I love humor and of course books on pro wrestling. I also love poetry. Here are some of my favorite authors Charles Bukowski , Nicholson Baker, Penn Jillette (yes of Penn and Teller) Kevin Smith and the occasional Mick Foley book.

It's just hard to pick one I'm sure you're with me on that.

6. Now that we know a bit about your literary preferences, what kind of music to you like?

**Anyone who knows me knows that i am the most loyal Def Leppard Fan in the world. Other than them I enjoy all kinds of music from Dave Matthews Band , Barenaked Ladies, Elvis, to Travis Tritt and Carrie Underwood. I just like good music and I'm probably one of the few bloggers who doesn't own an Ipod, but nothing replaces the awesome CD!!

7. Any favorite foods?

**food is aways a good topic..I know that you and I have enjoyed a few chili cheese burritos in our day. As for my favorite I have to go with pizza and pastas of any kind. I also am a Macdonald's french fries junkie. I love them!

8. As you know, your decision to make Jabberywocky Asylum a daily blog inspired me to attempt to make Carlisle's Chaotic Commentary a weekly blog. I have to admit that I struggle sometimes to come up with topics or ideas. How do you come up with blog topics? What inspires your writing?

**I am inspired by the things i enjoy and observe on a daily basis. I do admit that sometimes I have writers block and struggle to post something, but all in all with a one year old running around and managing a movie theater (my real job)with lots of teenage kids material is not hard to find..Also some of my posts have been written a while ago. I write a lot in a day and In fact when I finish this interview I will work on a few stories that will be future blog posts..

9. You've also mentioned that you aspire to make movies and that you teamed up with you friend Fitz to make an indie flick called “The Bag.” Whatever became of that project and are there any others in the works?

**The Bag will be finished.. Time and recasting has become an issue but it will see the light of day soon.. As for other projects I am working on a small novella called The Break Room that I'd like to make into a film or a play one day. Fitz and I also shot a small bit film a few months ago that once we do some touch up will be really good and really funny.

10. It's a known fact, again via your own blog, that you're a movie buff and that you work at a movie theater. Is there a particular genre of movies you prefer? What would you say is your all-time favorite flick?

**I love all genre of movies.. I know that sounds lame but I do. As for my favorite flick...Thats a hard one I will just give you my top 3
1. Chasing Amy
2. High Fidelity
3. the Big Lebowski

11. Along that same vein, are there any favorite TV programs you enjoy?

**I have recently become a big TV guy my current favorites are House MD, The Big Bang Theory, How I met your Mother, and Til Death.

12. I know that, at one time, you did speaking engagements and full-time ministry and were an ordained Southern Baptist minister. Do you still speak at youth rallies or other evangelistic meetings? If not, then do you see yourself doing that again in the future?

**I haven't spoken in the past year. However I'd love to do it again, but mainly dealing with young people. That is where my heart is in the ministry. If anyone ever asked me to come to there church or event I would. If anyone is reading this and wants to contact me about that they can email me at

13. Anyone who reads your blog knows that you're a Husband and a Dad. How did you and your wife meet? How old is your son now and what's it been like learning to become a Dad? Also, if you would, share with the readers a little about how you named your son and what that means to you.

**I met my sweet wife Kyle (yes she is a woman) when I was working at a movie theater in southern Pines NC. When she walked in the door i was smitten by her smile and laughter. We spoke that day and exchanged emails and have spoken everyday since. My son Joe just turned one in march and becoming a dad has been the coolest thing i have ever done.

I named Joe (whose Real name is Joseph Aaron) after my two favorite rock n rollers!! Joe Elliott form Def Leppard and Elvis Aaron Presley. I felt Joe's name should be grounded in solid rock music.

14. Are you and Kyle planning anymore children, or is one enough? LOL

**As of right now enough is enough lol, but who knows. I'd like to have more one day.

15. Since we've moved from discussing the blog and your writing to life experiences, I'm curious about where you see yourself in 10-20 years?

**Hopefully alive. I'd like to be more established as a writer and possibly working for myself in some fashion. On a personal note I'd just be happy to be with my wife and son watching life happen.

16. You recently posted on your blog that you've registered for college classes at the age of 30. I myself didn't go to college until I was almost in my mid-20's, so I can sympathize with the concept of trying to go back to school after having been away from it for so long. What made you decide to go back to school as an adult?

**I wanted to enhance my writing skills. I figure what better way than to be forced to write stuff I like and don't like and be critiqued aka graded as such. Honestly, I just want to do it for the betterment of myself and hopefully find a cool job where i an sit and write my silly stories and get paid for it.

Wow! Only four more questions left. To be honest, I can't really think of anything as deep as the first sixteen, so let's just have fun with these last few.

17. Beef, Chicken, or Fish?

**Chicken all the way!!!

18. Fries or Baked Potato?

**hmm Fries but a baked potato loaded would be nice

19. Ginger or Mary Ann?

**Mary Ann she made pies..didn't she get busted for pot??? that explains a lot...

20. And finally, here's your chance to go freestyle. Any parting words of wisdom or silliness?

My parting words is my philosophy on writing.

I think as a writer, you tend to take a kernel of truth and then dress it up so that it's entertaining, because otherwise, it's … not entertaining

Thank you James for the honor to be interviewed by you. I am glad that we have been buddies for a long time and we could do this meeting of the minds. I hope I wasn't boring.

And thank you, Jimmy, for taking the time to answer my 20 questions. I'd also like to thank Jimmy for featuring my blog as his “site of the week” on Jabberwocky Asylum a couple of weeks ago. I think it's safe to say that all your regular readers are really looking forward to the rebirth of “Jim's Loo” and the new “Fat Kids in a Basement” Podcast. I'm looking forward to being involved in that, and thanks for the invite.

Jimmy posts blogs to Jabberwock Asylum everyday except Sunday (his one day of rest). So make sure you check it out everyday... hell, do like I do and subscribe to it in your favorite RSS News Feed Reader (e.g., Google Reader). For that matter, you can subscribe to Carlisle's Chaotic Corner too *wink*.

~ JC

Next week on Carlisle's Chaotic Corner: my own personal Bucket List

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dogwood/Manna Emails and Final Comments

This past Sunday I wrote about a controversy that's popped up in this little burg I live in involving our annual Dogwood Festival and a local church [see blog entry “Why Can't Churches Live and Let Live” on Sunday, April 20, 2008]. I sent a link to said blog to the church via their contact page on their website. I received a response. Below are the communiques between Pastor Delane Hulen, the Director of Ministries at Manna Church, and myself, after which I'll share my final thoughts on the whole thing. I post these here to be fair in giving the church a chance to respond, and I appreciate the candor of Pastor Hulen in clarifying a few things (and I do have his permission to post the emails, by the way). Except for making things fit into the layout of the blog (and fixing two minor spelling errors), I haven't edited his emails in anyway; I've simply copied and pasted them straight in.

First Email from Pastor Hulen – received on April 21


I appreciate your input and outlook on your blog. It seems, however, that
someone has misinformed you in several areas. I'm assuming that you wish to engage in conversation regarding these issues, thus the email sent to us. I would love the opportunity to give you the truth regarding these circumstances so that your blog can be accurate and informative to those who wish to read it in the future. I look forward to hearing from you.

Delane Hulen
Executive Pastor, Manna Church

My Reply – sent on April 22

Pastor Hulen,

Now, we all know what happens when we ASSUME things don't we? I sent the link so the church would be aware that the blog post existed and there are other view points than their own. However, I am interested in hearing what you have to say. I will admit that I am a bit disappointed that you chose to email me rather than post a reply on the blog itself. I gave you a forum in which to dispute my (and other's) opinion but you chose not to take the opportunity. Why is that?

As for the alleged misinformation, I would love to for you to share with me what you think is the truth. I'll even make sure your response gets attached to the blog for you if you would rather not directly comment on the blog post yourself so that my "blog can be accurate and informative to those who wish to read it in the future."

~ JC

Wow! I sounded a little angry there, huh? Especially that opening remark about assuming things. Then again, I was expecting to have to gear up for an argument, so my apologies to Pastor Hulen if I came off sounding like an ass.

Pastor Hulen's Response to my Reply – received on April 22


First I want to thank you for your integrity regarding your blog. The reason I emailed you instead of posting is because some we have encountered in the past have taken information we have given and modified it to accomplish their goals. I see that you are not that way and I appreciate it. I have no problem with any and all of this being posted to the web, and any further dialog I would be glad to respond to in that manner. I will say, however, that I am responding to quite a bit lately, so unless contacted I may not be checking the blog consistently.

Regarding misinformation I just feel that there are some facts that the public are not aware of. I’ll elaborate below in relation to their category...

VENDOR APPLICATION – The Dogwood Festival policy has been in place, yet unenforced for at least eight years. We have participated every year for the past several years, as approved vendors (by the Dogwood Board of Directors). Manna has served as both informational, as well as, food vendors in the past. I have the financial records to show the purchases of the agreements. This year we were told (and I have a voicemail recording to prove it) that there were “no churches or political groups allowed to participate”. They reiterated this statement to not only to us but other churches in the city who are willing to testify to the same. The problem stems that they then go to both the city counsel and Observer and state that we COULD be a vendor (after the deadline for application, as well as, after their comments to the church community). Someone is not telling the truth. The bottom line issue is that if an organization tries to pick and choose when to use their policy based on who they do/do not want participating, it becomes discrimination. Discrimination against any political organization or religious institution is a violation of the First Amendment. Take a look at their application for vendors, it starts there. We just need them to decide what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do it.

HANDOUTS - Our goal has always been to just bless the people in the city by providing a blessing (free drink, candy bar, etc.). Twice over the years when we were told that there were other vendors selling what we were handing out we changed what we were providing as not to hurt their business (hot dogs, candy bars, eventually to free water).

MEDIA – Neither Pastor Fletcher, any staff member, or any member of Manna that we know of were the ones that contacted the media on this issue. Pastor Fletcher originally was speaking directly with their leadership in order to try and resolve the issue quietly. The media came to us from the beginning because of another person in the city’s complaints. The original goal has been from the beginning to try and resolve this with their board without anyone knowing the conflict existed. To this point the media has misrepresented on multiple occasions both what Manna Church and its leaders have stated, as well as, some of the things that the Dogwood Festival leaders have stated. It’s almost as if someone is trying to cause a fight to break out so they can cover it.

COMPLAINTS – To our knowledge in the several years we’ve participated, there has never been one complaint about anything Manna or one of it’s members have done. Remember, we’re just trying to bless people with a free drink, etc. and show them the love of God in a practical way. The policy was not developed last year based on a complaint about Manna. There have been some religious weirdos over the years that have caused issues, but we have never been part.

We have had several churches and organizations contacting us about picketing and boycotting the Dogwood Festival. Our direction to them has been not to picket or boycott the event because it is a part of who we are as a city. We support it, and even in the midst of this issue, still support it. We’ve told all of our 4,500 member organization not to boycott but to take their families and enjoy it. I’m sure that there will be some crazies there trying to take a stand in the wrong way, but those are the things that give Christians/Christianity a bad name. We support the event, as well as, believe that anyone who has cast judgment on their Board (like the guy who said they’re going to hell for their policies) should be told that if he’s going to represent “the church” in Fayetteville, to clearly state what church he is from so none of the rest of us get rolled into the middle of it. I believe that this thing has taken on a life of its own. You are welcome to review any of the materials we have to validate what I’ve stated. I just wanted you to see things from our perspective. Thanks again for your candor and posting to the website. I would love for my name to be attached.

Delane Hulen
Director of Ministries
Manna Church

Here, now, are my final comments. I have notified Pastor Hulen so that he may continue to respond if he feels the need for further clarification. I will be pulling quotes from Pastor Hulen's email throughout, but they are not intended to be taken out of context, so please make sure you've read his entire response above; thanks. Also, please bear in mind that these are purely my opinions, as was my previous blog, based on what I know of the situation from both the local paper and from sources outside the media.

Regarding the issue of the Vendor Application and the policy baring religious and political groups – even I'm willing to admit that when I was told that the policy has been in place for long time (and I'm not going to argue whether it was 8 years or only since 2001 because it frankly doesn't matter) but only this year did the Festival board decide to enforce it, seems a little bit “knee-jerk.” However, I do know, via the fact that my fiancée works in the same building where the Dogwood Festival's offices are located and knows their staff personally, I have a hard time believing that nothing was ever said about other avenues of participation for churches and the like. If anything, the Festival's marketing coordinator is known for giving almost too much information rather than not enough. Unfortunately, because the deadline has passed, I'm unable to look up a copy of the application on the website and I see no real need to bother the Festival staff for a copy just to satisfy my blog and all two of my readers (yeah, I know, no one really reads my tripe – and I'm cool with that). I do know, and it is listed on the events section of the Festival's website, that Hay Street United Methodist Church is having a “Hay Day for Missions” on April 25 and 26 as a sanctioned Dogwood Festival event. First of all, “missions” indicates that it is an event specifically meant to be evangelistic in nature (and it's going on for two straight days), and secondly, the information that a church could hold such an event and it be sanctioned as Festival event has to have been available all along or it wouldn't be happening. Perhaps the application needs to be revised to be more clear or maybe during all the stress of going through applications and planning events someone forgot to communicate all the details, but I'm very uncomfortable, and even a touch offended, at the comment “Someone is not telling the truth.” I'm also a little offended that a church would feel the need to save a voicemail or record a conversation, whichever the case may be (I've heard it mentioned in both contexts) in an attempt to offer proof that they think they were lied to.

I must comment on the following statement as I did in my original blog. Pastor Hulen states in his email, “Discrimination against any political organization or religious institution is a violation of the First Amendment.” I will say again, as I said before in reference to Pastor Fletcher's comment that “the policy is unconstitutional” in front of the City Council, it absolutely is NOT a First Amendment issue and to keep saying so is foolish. Frankly, that was the statement during the City Council meeting that really irked the hell out of me and prompted me to fire off that letter to the paper. For clarification, here's the exact wording of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.[]

The key word here is Congress; in other words, the government. The Dogwood Festival is not a government agency. It is a completely private non-profit organization, just as a church is. The government can no more tell them who they can and cannot allow into their event than it could a church, mosque or synagogue. Taking this issue before the Fayetteville City Council was inappropriate, in my opinion, because the government was being asked to intervene in a way that could have very easily been construed as a violation of the First Amendment. I'm sorry if that upsets anyone, but you'll never convince me that this was, is or ever will be a First Amendment issue. As a friend commented on the MySpace version of the original blog, “This isn't a first amendment issue, it is a play by our rules or stay home issue” (and that was after he initially started to rebuke me for my rant). Again, they didn't exclude just churches; it was all religious and political groups. Muslims, Jews, Pagans/Wiccans, Republicans, Democrats, those wacky-tree-hugging-hippy-liberals, lobbyists, etc. ad nauseum were all not allowed to have informational booths either. To be discriminatory, they would've had to say, 'yeah, all of them can come, just not the Christians.' But that's clearly not what happened.

As for the the Media, to which Pastor Hulen comments, “To this point the media has misrepresented on multiple occasions both what Manna Church and its leaders have stated, as well as, some of the things that the Dogwood Festival leaders have stated. It’s almost as if someone is trying to cause a fight to break out so they can cover it.” To that I will say AMEN! I can't argue with that in any way, shape or form. It's right on the money! It's part of the reason why I've posted his emails in their entirety (even the parts I disagree with) because I'm certain that not everything that has been said has been reported by the so-called “impartial” media. As I said above, I know at least one of the Festival staff members and I don't even think he was ever even interviewed.

As for the complaints that lead to the Festival board's decision to start enforcing a policy that was already there, well, again, it's probably a bit of a knee-jerk reaction. I accused Manna Church of being the church responsible, and that was irresponsible of me, and for that I do offer my apologies. I fell into the trap of assuming that Manna caused the complaints because they were guilty of giving away free food in conflict with the food vendors (which Pastor Hulen mentioned in his email). But, in case you missed it in Pastor Hulen's email, they did stop when asked to do so, so kudos for that. Pastor Hulen stated, “There have been some religious weirdos over the years that have caused issues...” Well, every religion has those, including (and maybe even especially) my own, but you can't judge a whole group because of a few over zealous people who might have questionable motives.

Once again, I applaud Pastor Fletcher's comments before the City Council that he didn't agree with the terrible things people were emailing to the Festival staff and Pastor Hulen's comment, “I’m sure that there will be some crazies there trying to take a stand in the wrong way, but those are the things that give Christians/Christianity a bad name. We support the event, as well as, believe that anyone who has cast judgment on their Board (like the guy who said they’re going to hell for their policies) should be told that if he’s going to represent “the church” in Fayetteville, to clearly state what church he is from so none of the rest of us get rolled into the middle of it.” I don't share Manna's religious beliefs, and frankly have never been really comfortable with so-called “Mega Churches” with thousands of members. But that aside, that's not what this has been about. I respect all beliefs and believe that God speaks to each of us in a multitude of ways and voices, we need only shut up and listen for it. The point of religion, any religion, is to speak to a person's spiritual needs, period! But, that's a topic that isn't relevant to this issue, so I'll leave it at that.

Bottom line, the Dogwood Festival's board obviously needs to review their policies and procedures for vendor applications for next year, but frankly, churches need to stop and think about how it can end up reflecting on them when/if they complain (especially when it's brought to a public forum at a City Council meeting). I can see where both sides could have handled this whole thing better , and both sides have caught a lot of undue flack for it too. Alas, it's to late to review the policies for this year and the Festival staff and board have moved on to making sure this year's Dogwood Festival goes smoothly with the vendors and entertainment they already have. Hopefully, everyone else can move on as well and just enjoy the festivities. I would like to again thank Pastor Delane Hulen for his candid emails and for granting me permission to share them on my blog. So, this weekend, April 25-27, load up your family and/or friends in the car, head to downtown Fayetteville and the surrounding area, and have a great time! Just save me some barbecue and beer!

~ JC

Holy Crap! This has to be the longest blog I've every posted! According to OpenOffice Writer's word count feature, it's 2,920 words including the emails I've copied and pasted into it. Now, if I could only get this much inspiration to finish those two novels I stared five years ago. :-)

This Sunday, April 27, 2008: a special blog post titled “The Lunatic Who Runs the Asylum: 20 Questions with Jimmy 'The Deez' Calhoun”; Jimmy is the author of the blog Jabberwocky Asylum and has some great changes and additions to his site in the works. I recently sent him 20 questions about his blog, his life and his vision for the future and will be sharing this “interview via email” with all of you on my regular weekly blog post and get off my soapbox for a bit.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Why Can't Churches Live and Let Live?

Anyone that lives here in Fayetteville, NC or the surrounding area is undoubtedly familiar, at least in passing, with a situation that has arisen between one of the local churches and the staff and board of the Dogwood Festival. It seems that the pastor of Manna Church wanted to have an informational booth at the Festival, but was told by the staff of the Festival that they were not allowing religious or political groups to have informational booths, but that they could participate as food vendors or as hosts of a sanctioned Dogwood Festival event. Michael Fletcher, the pastor, has either gone deaf and didn't hear those options given or is just a plain lier and has accused the Festival's staff of never telling him he had those other two options.

I've never felt the need in my blog to wax political or spiritual, but anyone who knows me, knows how verbose I can be on those topics. The entire situation speaks loudly as to why I left Christianity and eventually became a Pagan and now consider myself to be a Universalist. I've also never felt the need to write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper before, but I did. Unfortunately for me, it's likely not going to be published since it's been several days since it's submission and I still haven't seen it in the paper yet. The good news for my blog readers is that now I can publish it here in all of it's 500+ word glory (or as much as I can recover after having to edit it for submission) instead of the watered-down 250 word version I had to submit to the Fayetteville Observer.

The issue involving the Dogwood Festival and Manna Church is ridiculous. Rev. Fletcher and his cult-like following of 1,000 people jamming their way into a City Council meeting only wasted time that should have been spent actually taking care of serious city issues. As I watched the council meeting on television Monday[April 14, 2008] night, I was amused at the comments of Rev. Fletcher, et.,al. I also noted that of those who were allowed to speak on the matter, only one person from the Dogwood Festival was allowed to speak, while there were several either from or in support of Manna Church.

The statement was made that the “policy [of the Dogwood Festival] is unconstitutional.” How so? The first amendment of the Constitution states that the government can't prohibit anyone from practicing a particular religion. The Dogwood Festival is a private organization and can make whatever policies it wants. If his church were putting on a festival, would it allow groups such as Pagans, Mormons, Muslims, etc. have an informational booth. Of course not, and it would be well within its rights to do so because a church is also a private organization and is likewise free to make whatever policies it wishes. For it to be discriminatory the Festival would have to exclude specific religious groups, which is does not.

I found the comment, “If one student in a classroom misbehaves, are all the students sent to the principal’s office?” (because the policy was the result of complaints) laughable. Rev. Fletcher felt that the decisions should be on a case-by-case basis. My understanding of the situation is that it was his church that caused the complaints in the first place due to their continual refusal to adhere to the rules by actively walking amongst the crowd and forcing their materials on others rather than remain in their booth as well as offering free food and drink that (1) was a conflict of interest regarding vending booths and (2) was not defined in their initial application. Perhaps he's correct. Only the group who did not follow the rules should be barred from participating. Oh, but wait; his is the group which didn't follow the rules, so he'd still have something to complain about.

I will give Rev. Fletcher credit for denouncing those who have contacted the Festival's staff with nasty comments and threats. However, if he had simply asked “What Would Jesus Do?” and reflected on how Jesus only taught those willing to listen, then there would have been no uproar, no nasty comments and no un-Christlike behavior from so many so-called Christians.

Pay attention Rev. Fletcher. A single complaint does not result in a policy change like the one made by the Dogwood Festival a few years ago, it takes a multitude of complaints from a large number of festival goers. That would seem to mean that the majority does not want your information. "Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them." (Mark 6:11 NASB) If I am not mistaken, those words were spoken by Jesus Himself as if to say, 'if the people do not want to listen to you, then do not force them to, but move on to a place where there are people who are interested in hearing your teachings.'

~ JC

News Stories and Articles

The initial story by WRAL-TV

The article from the Fayetteville Observer the day after the aforementioned City Council meeting.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Wastin' Time on the InterWeb

Ah, the information super-highway. The world but a mouse click away. But have you ever really stopped to think about how much time we all really just waste surfing the Internet and world wide web? Like right now, for example; why are you reading my blog? My blog, of all blogs you could be reading. All I do is rant about stuff that strikes me funny or irritating or interesting. There's nothing much to learn here. You could be reading the news or something educational. But instead, you read my drivel.

Some of you have read me complain about how I have more books in my personal library than I'll ever get done reading. Well, this is why. Because I'm always online, wasting time. I'd like to say that I'm doing research for more meaningful essays to post on here, but mainly I'm just looking at boobies and checking sports scores and the occasional article about Magic: The Gathering or Dungeons & Dragons. Now that hockey season is over for my two favorite teams and the weekend is the only time golf tournaments are played, I'll be mainly looking at boobies.

So, what kills your free time online? Leave a comment... maybe it'll even lead to a discussion, which of course will be ironic because it means we'll all be wasting time online to do it. :-)

~ JC

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Random Rantings of a Retail Sales Clerk

I work retail, ergo, I hate people. No, seriously. I hate people. Ever seen the movie Clerks? Remember the tag line? “Just because they server you, doesn't mean they like you.” Well, it's freakin' true! We really don't like you. Ever wonder why so many retail clerks seem to have attitude problems? Well, it's because we've had to deal with dozens of assholes before you arrived and our ability to filter our emotions has worn to a nub and now everyone gets on our last nerve and every question is a “stupid question.” Seriously, who decided that it was acceptable social behavior to treat sales clerks and customer service people like they're total pieces of shit? We're there to help you, we've been trained in the product(s), we know what we do and don't have in our store. Note: OUR STORE, not the fucking Wal-mart down the street, so stop asking, “Does Wal-mart have it cheaper?” I don't know, and I don't fucking care and it's rude of you to ask. If you want to know what another store has, go bother them and stop wasting my time. Oh, and on that note, don't expect me to help you figure out how to use something or activate a pre-paid cellphone or bluetooth headset that you didn't buy from me. Why should I help you? You didn't put any money in my pocket by purchasing it from someone else, and are, in fact, potentially taking money out of my pocket by wasting time that I could've spent actually making a commission sale to that person that just walked out of my store because they were tired of waiting for me to finish answering your stupid questions.

The people I hate the most are assholes with cellphones. Yeah, I own one, but I took the time to read the owner's manual and figure it out on my own and I also don't walk into a store talking (loudly) and still expect to be given the undivided attention of the clerk even though I'm not giving them mine. You get the idea I hope? SHUT UP AND CONDUCT YOUR BUSINESS. Do you know how easily I could cheat people just because they're so tied up in their self-absorbed cellphone conversation that they're not even really paying attention to what's going on at the register? I could so short change someone or add a bunch of crap to their ticket, and they'd probably never realize it. Good thing for them I was raised to act with integrity and honor, huh?

Other cellphone annoyances include things like people yelling at me or my co-workers because of their bill. I don't work for the carrier dumb-ass! Call their customer service and ask them why your bill is so high. Don't call me complaining that the payment you just made hasn't posted yet, either. If you handed me the wrong “PreCash” card or told me the wrong phone number, that's your fault, not mine!

So, in short, don't' be an asshole, and maybe you won't get attitude from the sales clerk. Now, I'm not saying that's always going to be true, because frankly there are sales clerks out there who should be fired. But most of us work to hard, and get paid to little, to be treated the way a lot of people treat us. And remember, the clerk doesn't make the rules/policies for their respective company; they're just expected to follow them or risk being fired. So, if you don't like it, that's fine, but don't take it out on the person behind the counter; they're just doing their job.

~ JC

PS. To those of you out there who try to be polite to sales clerks, thank you! I wholeheartedly mean that. It's easy to tell those customers who themselves work or have worked retail and know what it's like to be on my side of the counter.

PPS. This rant doesn't just apply to retail, by the way. It applies to anyone in a service related industry, such as the folks a the ticket booth or concession stand at the movie theater or local sports arena, the people at the bank (although, they could stand to use some lessons in being faster, in my humble opinion), and even those folks whose job it is to answer the phone for whatever customer service hotline for whatever company.


Upcoming (possible) Topics: I'm debating whether or not to comment on the situation involving the Fayetteville (NC) Dogwood Festival and a local church (which, for now, will remain nameless); “Wasting Time on the InterWeb”; commentary on so-called Reward Programs; credit card applications; “The Wit and Wisdom of Randall Graves”. To many things run through my brain on a daily basis for me to decide right now :-)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Poll Results

Several days ago I posed the question via a poll on the Blogger version of Carlisle's Chaotic Commentary:

Should I Keep "Carlisle's Chaotic Corner" open or should I just concentrate on the "Chaotic Commentary" blog?

Here are the results of that poll.

50% - Tweak the layout and content, but keep it
30% - 42
20% - Keep It
0% - Close it
0% - I can't decide because I'm a dumb ass who can't make simple decisions

So, thanks to all 10 of you who actually participated (or the one of you who voted 10 times, whichever the case may be). The new layout is already uploaded and ready to be viewed at and I'll be doing some more with the content as soon as I'm able.

~ JC