Texas Outlaw Writers Newsletter: Give it Up for Lent, Edition

Texas Outlaw Writers Newsletter: Give it Up for Lent, Edition
Butt dust. Photo by Ahna Ziegler on Unsplash

How was your Fat Tuesday? Or as we Americans refer to it, "Tuesday." We have a few weeks, well, 40 days, until the next big holiday. We got through Presidents' Day, Valentine's Day, MLK's Birthday, Superbowl Sunday... and those days were right behind New Year's and Christmas, etc.

So now, we head to the desert. We need a little time in the wilderness.

What are you giving up? For Lent, I mean. Or are you just giving up?

President Biden had an odd Mardi Gras. Rather than parties, parades, and pancakes, he opted for a trip to a hot war zone... he landed in Kyiv, Ukraine on Monday. To be accurate, he landed in Rzeszow, Poland. From there, and in a particularly Bidenesque move, he traveled by train to Kyiv, Ukraine. For 10 hours. It must have been an Amtrak!

The President met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and later got the full battered capitol tour. With Zelenskyy, he visited the gold-domed St. Michael’s Cathedral. As they exited, air raid sirens began to wail. The apps on people's cell phones sounded warnings as well. According to AP, "those alarms are voiced by “Star Wars” actor Mark Hamill, and his Luke Skywalker voice urged people to take cover, warning: “Don’t be careless. Your overconfidence is your weakness.”  Yet the two men didn't flinch, - Biden in his signature aviator glasses and Zelenskyy in his usual green military fatigues. Both men knew the symbolic importance of the visit and the requisite photo op.

A ceremonial drum roll accompanied the air raid sirens as they laid wreaths at the Wall of Remembrance honoring Ukrainian soldiers killed there since 2014 in conflicts with Russia. It was lost on no one that Biden's predecessor declined to lay a wreath in honor of American WWI soldiers in Aisne-Marne American cemetery in Belleau, France... due to rain. (Other American officials made it to the ceremony, braving the very wet rain.)  

A year ago this month, in a Harvard poll 62% of Americans believed that Putin would not have attacked Ukraine if Trump had still been president. 59 percent believed that Putin moved on to Ukraine because Putin saw weakness in President Biden. I would like to think that after this week we can dispense with the false "weak Joe" narrative, but I don't hold much faith in people to think deeply about the risk he took and what it stood for. You know who probably does think differently now? His counterpart in Russia.

In a somewhat counterintuitive move, Washington alerted Moscow to their planned trip. This was, I guess, a way to have Putin think twice about setting out a missile barrage and causing a doomsday scenario. The heads-up is referred to as a "deconfliction measure." On the other hand - knowing Putin's track record - the notification almost seems riskier than the trip itself. Reports are surfacing that indeed, Moscow chose Monday to fire off an intercontinental ballistic missile. Just a test, you see. A little show for visitors from America. (This launch was also made known through those "deconfliction channels.") And in a funny twist, (funny if these things weren't quite so existential,) the missile test failed.    

Biden and his small detail drove through the battered capitol and made a quick stop at the US embassy. It should be noted the few Marine guards there comprise the only US military detachment in the country.

The all-clear notice, also voiced by Hamill, sounded at 1:07 p.m., as Biden’s train was pulling away from the station.“The air alert is over,” Hamill said. “May the force be with you.”

Have you seen this one? 

It's one of those "viral" posts that make the inner-web rounds every Lenten season. Usually with the tagline about the importance of spelling and the poor editing skills of the church-bulletin-lady. The real story is actually funnier and pretty sweet.

A friend of mine, the right Rev. Tom Stephenson has laid claim to the origin of the butt-dust-bulletin, and I have no reason to doubt him. Here at the Texas Outlaw Writers' world headquarters newsroom, we are diligent fact-checkers. So... we asked around. And Tom says it's true. So it must be. Would a preacher lie on Ash Wednesday?

Tom writes:

"I never thought I would post something that was close to viral, but I have. This photo has come back to me several times in the past few years, so I thought I would tell the story.
My dear friend, Rev. Rusty Watkins, loved to tell the story of a young child, who after attending Ash Wednesday worship with his parents, asked them “What’s butt dust?” His parents were confused and asked the child, “What do you mean?” The young child replied, “ Well, tonight the priest smeared the ashes on my forehead and said, ‘remember you are but dust’.” In 2014 as I was preparing for Ash Wednesday worship, I asked my Administrative Assistant to print one copy of the bulletin with an intentional misspelling as a way to pay tribute to and remember Rusty, who died on Easter Sunday 2009.
So, as we prepare for Ash Wednesday, let’s remember we are butt dust."

This week, Roger revisits some familiar territory. Like last week. But in his defense, they keep feeding him this crap, so what's a boy to do? Oh, and the they, is actually she. Yes, it's "My Little Marjie."

“National Divorce.” Really, Marj? | Texas Outlaw Writers
Rep. Greene has a modest proposal.

Are they balloons or alien craft? Who knows? The government has said not to worry about the “objects” shot down over Alaska, Canada, and Lake Huron. But pilots aren’t even sure what they shot with their missiles. And Washington has not exactly been forthcoming with details. The more the politicians obfuscate, the greater the rumors of the UFO chatterboxes. And some of what they are saying is a bit unsettling. Jim Moore has some experience with this topic and he takes on that fuzzy line between fact and funhouse mirrors….

The Last Card?
Wernher von Braun, the father of modern rocketry, sounded one of the first warnings about the effort to weaponize space. And to control Earth from space.

Myra Jolivet concludes her Black History Month series where she has focussed on little-known or often overlooked heroes. Every school child has read Martin Luther King's "I had a dream..." speech. Kids have more recently been inspired by President Obama's presidency. But there have been countless others who have broken down barriers and forged a trail for others to follow.

Astronaut Ron McNair may have been remembered as one of the crew members that was lost on the Space Shuttle Challenger.  Not as many folks know what an amazing genius he was and the legacy that he left behind.

Black History Month: Breaking Barriers | TX Outlaw Writers
The McNair brothers worked dawn till dusk in South Carolina fields making $4 dollars a day to help their family. McNair said, “I gained qualities in that cotton field. I got tough. I learned to endure. I refused to quit.”