Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Frankincense Makes Sense

In the story of the Three Magi, or Three Wise Men, Three Kings from the East bring the newborn king of the Jews three "welcome to the world" gifts; they were gold, frankincense and myrrh.

When I first heard this story as a child, I immediately thought, "C'mon, frankincense and myrrh, what kind of lame gift is that?" The magi who brought the gold, now he was obviously tuned in to the mind of a kid.

Frankincense and myrrh are two different types of incense, with different properties and purposes, but totally useless to a child.

As a child, I remember my mom used to burn incense all the time. Sometimes my house would smell like a gypsy brothel (not that I know what that smells like), that I would often come home from school, enter the house and want to vomit, feeling totally nauseated. Of course, school also made me feel nauseated, so home was no escape when Mom was burning the incense.

Now as an adult, and more so as a parent, I look at the story of the three kings in a different light. Yet, I still find myself asking the same questions as I did as a child. Why Frankincense? Wouldn't a rattle be more appropriate? Or perhaps a month's supply of cloth diapers? What's a crying baby going to do with ceremonial incense?

Well, science has the answer I've been searching for. It seems that Frankincense, which is derived from the dried up resin of the Boswellia plant, can alleviate anxiety and depression by activating poorly understood ion channels in the brain. In other words, when you burn this shit, it really calms you down and makes you chill out.

As the parent of two toddlers, I can't tell you how many times I wished that there were some magic pill I could legally give my kids for a few moments of peace and quiet. If only I had known about Frankincense. If only my wife didn't hate the smell of incense.

It's obvious now that King Balthasar didn't bring Jesus the frankincense; the gift was for Joseph and Mary. I'm sure Balthasar said, "Look, this boy may be the son of God, but he's still going to get gas at night and keep you up with his teething, so just keep this stuff handy." Now you see why they called him a wise man.

So let me share with you the same wisdom, here. If you are expecting, or you know someone who's got a bun in the oven, don't buy the child some elitist, classical music CD that's supposed to make him/her smarter than their peers. Instead, get the parents a box of frankincense. It's the legal marijuana for parents. If they feel guilty about giving their children or themselves anti-anxiety agents, just tell them that they are simply following a tradition set forth in the little town of Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. Amen.

Frankincense makes sense, and you can get it here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

R. Kelley Wins James Randi's Million Dollar Challenge, Zammit Rejoices.

It was an historical moment, one that science and skeptics will be reeling from for the next century. R&B singer R. Kelley, currently on trial for soliciting a minor for child pornography in the state of Illinois, was awarded some much needed money for his legal woes by winning the James Randi Million Dollar Challenge.

James Randi, America's best known skeptic and debunker, has made a career challenging and discrediting claimants of paranormal abilities. In his Million Dollar Challenge, Randi offers the prize money to "anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event."

R. Kelley has been claiming such an ability since his 1996 mega hit song "I believe I can Fly," from the movie, "Space Jam."

In the song, R. Kelley contends,
If I can see it, then I can do it
If I just believe it, there's nothing to it

I believe I can fly
I believe I can touch the sky
I think about it every night and day
Spread my wings and fly away
I believe I can soar
I see me running through that open door
I believe I can fly
I believe I can fly
I believe I can fly
Appearing on Larry King Live, James Randi called R. Kelley's bluff, and challenged him to apply to his challenge.
"If you can really fly," he said, "then let's test it."
Both parties, the James Randi Educational Foundation, and R. Kelley's entourage, agreed that Mr. Kelley would have to fly at least 300 meters unaided by any motorized or non-human method of propulsion.

When the moment of truth arrived, The R&B legend took a step out on to the makeshift ledge that had been affixed to the rooftop of the Sears Tower. He was cheered on by a squad of former teenage defendants, then Mr. Kelley unbuttoned his fine, leather jacket, and whispered, "Let's fly, baby."

At exactly twelve noon, under perfect weather conditions, the R&B balladeer stepped off the Sears Tower and began to fly what ornithology experts called a,"predatory hawk formation" over a high school on the south side of Chicago.

On the ground, fans and ordinary onlookers gazed up in total disbelief. One surprised woman said she was hopeful Mr. Kelley would succeed, but her husband was more pessimistic, noting that wind resistance from a zipper malfunction on Mr. Kelley's pants might cause the singer problems.

James Randi, on the other hand, was visibly upset by the impeding loss of his coveted million dollar prize.
"I can't believe he can fly, I can't believe he can fly! Sure, I've sung that song in the shower like everyone else, but I never thought my money would be taking a bath in it."
Immediately following Mr. Kelley's success, Victor Zammit claimed victory for himself and the afterlife, then quietly pushed medium David Thompson off of Sydney's Harbour Bridge.

(this piece is satirical and should not be interpreted as real news).