Friday, March 25, 2011


No, I’m not talking about some tasteless adolescent bum shot and prank, rather a once in just about every eighteen year event when the earth’s only natural satellite is closest to our planet. Last Saturday night our moon was also in full phase and was bigger and brighter than usual, in fact, absolutely brilliant. This was the moon in Super Perigee and given its significant almost two decade interval good Friends John and Susan thought this yet another legitimate excuse to meet and party. Indeed, we did. After a great shared meal we gathered at their abode and set up our lawn chairs in their front yard at the end of an east facing cul-de-sac in far north Dallas.

At around 8:15 PM CT a large yellow to orange ball framed by two winter oaks dominated the horizon and looked more like some surreal scene from an earlier Star Trek. This was all real, however, and made even more enjoyable with the consumption of a 2009 Bogle Sauvignon Blanc in tribute to Patty Bogle with a 2007 Smoking Loon Syrah waiting in the wings – just in case. We recommend this as the accompaniment to any lunar event especially in the southwest – seems to fit.

All this was the precursor to the Vernal/Spring Equinox that fell on the next day. We hip hopped into Spring noting the learned observations of our ancestors including the Mayans and, of course, those persistent Druids and Celtic Peoples who were once again busy celebrating at Stonehenge and many other stone circles in Europe. As most educated folks know by now many pre-Christian cultures placed great significance on the equinox and celebrated with a wide variety of rituals some of which were carried over in the modern Christian Church. They must have gone nuts when their full moons were also in perigee…

No we aren’t going to entertain a cavalcade of cultural paradigms validating that fact but we will let you ponder the capital letter, “E”. Hint: The ancient Saxons in Northern Europe worshiped the Goddess Oestre at the time of the Spring Equinox. The Celts and others in the northern hemisphere celebrated Ostara, the coming of the light out of darkness (winter), fertility and the renewal of life (of bunnies and eggs).

Those who know me also note my celebration of the Maya Culture and they put yet another spin on the vernal equinox. Even the most radicalized evangelical will concede the great astronomical knowledge of the Maya even to the manipulation of the rays of the sun and moon – just like the ancient Druids. The Mayan city state of Chichén Itzá is home to the Pyramid of Kukulcán where every March 21 the rays of the setting sun shine across the stepped northwestern corner of the pyramid ultimately casting a zigzag shadow much like a diamondback rattlesnake in profile, connecting with the carved stone snake's head at the foot of the balustrade. The feathered serpent lives again.

Like the ancients before us, we celebrated the beauty of Mother Nature and the wonders of our universe while some idiots in Y2K mode huddled in their caves, fearful that the earthquakes, floods (tsunamis) and storms striking the planet Earth were “caused by the super moon”. Well, we welcomed Spring and the only thing we dread is the inevitable 110+ temperatures that Summer will bring to Texas. Tell that to Michiganders who are enduring yet another heavy ice and snow storm as of this writing.

Celebrating the beginning of Spring and the rebirth of life appears to be among the oldest holidays in human culture. Seems that things haven’t changed all that much, maybe somewhat though with the addition of a good California Sauvignon Blanc…


Ned Buxton

Sunday, March 20, 2011

BEE (Best Enchiladas Ever) – EXACTLY

Yesterday Mary had enchiladas for lunch at BEE (a not so humble acronym that stands for Best Enchiladas Ever) with one of her work buds. This new “fast-casual” place is conveniently located near her gallery district work home, south of the Trinity River in historic Oak Cliff. She came home with glowing reports of quality and flavorful enchilada offerings and entreaties that she/we go back soon – for more. This “enchiladeria” is located at 202 West Davis a stone’s throw south of the Cuellar Family’s highly regarded Tejano restaurant so I wondered who could be so bold (perhaps impertinent) as to set up shop next to a Mexican food icon.

Mary is always to be trusted and like restaurant critic extraordinaire and sometimes potty mouth Alice “Fat Bastard” Laussade of the Dallas Observer, exhorted that BEE, “Lives up to its name.” and “They were the best. Enchiladas. Ever.” Laussade cops an attitude (that serves her well) and she usually hits home runs. I trust her judgment. I trust Mary’s more. If truth be told, the next day wasn’t too soon for us to re/visit BEE. Indeed, (sanity check) why didn’t we go down there that same evening?

The Oak Cliff neighborhood is in recovery mode and given its historic and strategic importance to Dallas along with a dedicated local leadership and committed citizenry, is fast regaining respectability and livability. No security issues here though we did note that across the street is a now boarded up apartment building made somewhat more picturesque given a huge wisteria vine marking the spot where the infamous Lee Harvey Oswald once resided.

BEE’s physical location used to house The Quinn Bar & Grill and Long John Silver’s (LJS) and while I don’t want to shoot arrows at my Celtic cousins or LJS, BEE given the efforts of Best Restauranteur (D Magazine) Monica Greene of Aca y Alla and Cayuse fame (long inspirational story) and Beekeeper K. Steven Roberts has substantially upgraded that locale in both stature and creative, meaningful cuisine. It brings Oak Cliff yet one step closer to prosperity as businesses including merchants and restauranteurs with unique, marketable products move into the area. Not unlike Atlanta’s Grant Park and Virginia Highlands neighborhoods, this is a success story in the making.

Another Dallas Observer contributor Andrea Grimes, an award-winning freelance journalist and columnist for the Observer also reviewed BEE. She hit the mark with her review and since I couldn’t do better, part it follows.

“Go straight for the Chipotle Crema Sauce.

Actually, first go left, when you walk in the door and fill out the little order card, then give that to the cashier, then tell Monica -- or whoever is behind the counter -- all of the many and various extras you want on your personalized enchilada. Just make sure there's chipotle crema in there somewhere. You can have the thick, spicy sauce on a corn, wheat or flour tortilla filled with all manner of peppery meats or cheeses. You can have it with rice. You can have it with beans. But you'll want it as a smoky complement to any of Monica's many ingredients.

Between the epic crema and the near-infinite seeming personalization choices, BEE might really have some of the best enchiladas ever. It's not just that the food is great -- it's that you can build your best enchilada. And that'll be the title of my first self-help book.”

A Google search will reveal even more reviews and even a nod from the apparently not so distant New York Times who tapped BEE as a must stop for visiting 2011 Super Bowl revelers. Good news travels fast as they have only been open for about two months.

The BEE with its check list menu/order card and counter-service enchiladeria reminded me of a cross between Chipotle, Freebird’s and Which Witch. New customers don’t take long to figure out the system and then get down to the most pleasant part of this experience – eating your enchiladas. Your toughest decision might ultimately be how many to order.

BEE always makes their enchiladas with fresh, natural, and organic products. BEE’s staff appears dedicated to help you build the perfect enchilada, your way with extensive choices of fillings, tortillas, cheeses and sauces. Some of the meat fillings include carnitas, beef brisket, chicken tinga, beef picadillo, shrimp Diablo, tilapia, cheese or even vegetarian/vegan alternatives (“venchiladas”) including the Sweet Amarillo a mashed sweet potato enchilada with roasted Amarillo (roasted yellow bell pepper) sauce. It appears to this uninitiated writer that there are strong hints of an Aca Y Alla influence. The more the better…

Now if you want to pursue more food options at BEE, yes, you can order tacos, burritos, salads and a variety of what they call “beesides.”

BEE is an idea born out of 30 plus years of experience in the restaurant business in Dallas. This appears to be a carefully crafted concept (with some precedence) where the owners appear to be willing to go the distance. This concept looks to be easily replicated and with their lighter and healthier fare their success looks to be a given. I do wonder about their margins – such high quality for a low cost. Yes, they have to make money on what looks to be slim margins. We do earnestly hope that they will be able to sell in sufficient volume to justify the concept and, hopefully, other locations when they have their formula polished.

Eating is once again a celebration at BEE and I give the food an A+++++ (the Best) though the dining area could use more tweaking. Having said that, I didn’t go to BEE for the Mexican tile and the exposed wood beams. I went there for the food (that’s the point) and was not disappointed. Welcome back, Monica. We hope you have the same positive influence on Oak Cliff you’ve had on Deep Ellum. We thank Beekeeper K. Steven Roberts for his hospitality and vision.

So, get out there and support this eatery and spread the word about the genius of their offerings. Be selfish. You’ll be doing yourself a huge favor.


Ned Buxton

Saturday, March 12, 2011


A lot of folks appear happy that the charade and posturing is finally over and the NFL owners have finally locked out the players. That both parties appeared entrenched, immovable and intent on pursuing what could be a long legal battle is an understatement. Actually it was DeMaurice Smith, the Executive Director of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) who walked out of the negotiations though failure appeared inevitable, even desired. That said, it was money that moved them apart and it will be money that will get them back together.

Now I am all for good preparation but before the sitz mark on the good NFLPA Executive Director’s chair had melted ten players including Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL. Their lawyers also announced that they also filed a request for an injunction that would lift the lockout. This suit and the language therein certainly reflects weeks and probably months (years?) of hard work and preparation negatively reflecting on the sincerity and at least the negative expectations of those players and the NFLPA. There was a lot of hostility reflected there and will surely result in more enmity between the two sides.

My visceral reaction is that the NFL owners as the parties who put up the bucks and funded this whole concept have certain inalienable rights and should be able to pay within fair and reasonable bounds what they figure is equitable compensation to anyone in their organizations. However that’s all balanced by fair wage and anti-discrimination laws, something called the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 and the precedence of all the previous agreements where the NFL owners have literally given away the farm to the NFLPA (hoisted by their own petard).

In May 2008 the NFL owners fully engaged their conundrum and option by voting to opt out of the collective bargaining agreement signed in 2006 where an estimated 60 percent or more of league revenues are going to player compensation. I can’t put this in a business perspective as this metric appears to be all across the board by company and industry. Bottom line is that the owners feel that with the increased cost of doing business, the more they can reserve for their profits, the better. Understandably, the owners appear dedicated to increasing a few more percentage points in their favor. Understandably, the NFLPA appears intent on negotiating a bigger piece of the pie at the owner’s expense. Both sides give lip service to The Fans, but its really all about the bottom line.

So, it would seem that while the owners are not trying to undo all that they have done, they would like to restart the clock a bit or only concede a little. While it certainly appears, and especially so in these unsettling financial times, that these agreements and the huge dollars are not sustainable (like the rest of our spending), the prospects of regressing aren’t likely. The old rule of thumb in HR is that you can’t take back what you have already given though the airlines seem to have been successful in breaking that rule. Then, however, it was concede or lose your jobs. That will not likely happen here though a one year hiatus might be healthy and just what the doctor ordered.

The NFL owners refuse to open their books and I certainly understand their hesitation to capitulate to what are essentially employees. While the players may think so, this really is not a partnership. The average life span of an NFL player is around four years and most are looking for a payoff that will sustain them for the rest of their lives. What they should have been doing was pursuing their education and marketable skills that will allow them to earn a fair wage like the rest of us. I know a college player who was drafted in the NFL/AFL, played running back for the Rams for a couple of years and has been practicing dentistry ever since. He sets a great example.

To the average Joe on the street the “Millionaires v Billionaires” battle is a ludicrous scenario except when it comes to their team, their blue and silver, black and gold, red and navy, etc. Most cannot see beyond their stadiums and the glory that their teams can reap and their declared association with them. Everybody wants to belong and be part of something bigger than they are. To fantasize, raise a glass high and even be silly for a few hours a week is healthy and even provides a sense of purpose and relief in our consummately challenging world.

Despite those alliances and relief from the mundane, for most of us struggling to put food on the table and roof over our heads, this fight for over billions of dollars in revenues over a game, however popular, in these trying times, appears to be on another planet, even universe. Yes, we can be motivated and inspired by our favorite teams and no doubt the negative effect on the financials of those that depend on the game including vendors of all shapes and sizes - will be huge. Mercy, what will the gamblers and pizza delivery folks do?

But, this debate is so far away from the Ultimate Fan that it defies explanation and like the NFL strike of 1987 will surely damage the game and take it yet another step backward. The REAL FAN will become ancillary to the overall scheme of things where the rich and famous and corporations will be the primary subscribers while those aforementioned real fans will watch on pay TV. I know a former NFL season ticket holder of 30 years priced out of his seat though he may occasionally do a standing room only (SRO) deal, if he can afford it. I will not be a SRO or pay to watch any game on TV including the Super Bowl, even if the Dallas Cowboys or New York Giants are playing.

The silver lining in all this is that we may just have to resort to more college football and spending more time with Family and Friends. Wonder if the divorce or even birth rates will spike during this period…

That said, when the two sides finally do come to an agreement all will probably be forgiven and back on track with everybody smiling to the bank. The NFL and the NFLPA are counting on that…
Count me out.


Ned Buxton

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


All the recent hullabaloo surrounding the class action suit filed by an Alabama law firm on behalf of a California woman alleging that the percentage of beef contained in Taco Bell’s beef tacos is, “less than 35%” appears frivolous and a tempest in a teapot - at best. I ask what was the catalyst and eureka moment for filing this suit, (I was eating my taco and noticed that it only contained 35% beef.)? Many people are buying into these allegations while others speculate that this appears on the surface a contrivance and/or premeditated attempt to smear the reputation of Taco Bell. We will see…

Taco Bell is preparing to vigorously defend its reputation. While this plaintiff may suffer the slings and arrows of public indignation after all is said and done, in our PC world the spin will be, I was doing it for the public good. Well, please don’t include me…

I believe that while Taco Bell may have at one time cooked their beef from scratch on site and added their secret ingredients as necessary, they like many other restaurant chains have refined the cooking process so it is more of a heating and assembly activity that can be engaged even by Neanderthals (like me) and great way to maintain the continuity, uniformity and quality of their products. In their quest for providing healthy, quality products a responsible Taco Bell switched to zero trans-fat frying oil in all of its US single-branded locations in 2007 (sister KFC did the same). Doesn’t sound like a company that would compromise their singular branded product by adding excessive and unnecessary fillers. You just don’t screw with success.

The folks that filed this suit have already demonstrated incredible ignorance as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines do not apply to restaurants. The USDA's rules do apply to meat processors - the companies Taco Bell buys its meat from – in this case, Tyson Foods Inc., Taco Bell’s largest meat supplier, who mixes and cooks the meat at three USDA-inspected plants. Tyson Foods in a recent press release vigorously upheld client Taco Bell’s strict production guidelines. As for “scientific testing” how much of a sampling do you need to fairly determine what percent is actually beef? So many questions… If Tyson prepares Taco Bell’s taco beef mix in 100 gallon vats, do you test in that same measure?

Taco Bell has responded that their beef tacos indeed, contain 88% beef with other ingredients including oats. Yes, oats! I was immediately reminded of the magnificent national Scottish dish Haggis that contains a majority percentage (88%+) of lamb and sometimes beef (or other critters and their pieces parts) and oats.

Before we begin yet another grand revelation let me first state that I happen to like Taco Bell’s tacos and most everything else they offer and fully intend to continue my patronage. Great company, good people and great products. Yum, Yum… It appears that while many are already prejudging and deep sixing Taco Bell, we think that these allegations don’t amount to a “hill of refried beans.” and may be the tip of another as yet discernible agenda. We surely hope not though why file a class action and fail to understand basic USDA regulations?

Now, these allegations are specific to Taco Bell and I certainly counsel those interested to keep an open mind and wait for the final verdict. In the interim and in the interests of gastronomic adventure and just another opportunity to have some fun, I do wonder what our other taco filling options might be – aside from continuing to buy what is certainly a quality product from a great company.

My personal favorite is fish tacos (tacos de pescado) from two Dallas restaurants - Rockfish and/or Flying Fish - that do Baja righteously proud. But, we are in the quest for landed mammalian taco filling options. I have noted that our Brothers and Sisters south of the Texas border prepare a wide variety of fillings for their taco shells (corn and flour tortillas - hard and soft) including many fillings that haven’t made it to other parts of the civilized world. I suspect that most have not heard of tacos de cabeza (head) that could include such luscious fillings as brains (sesos), tongue (lengua), cheeks (cachet), lips (trompa) and for you brave of heart and soul - eyes (ojos). Or how about some tripita (tripe/stomach) tacos? All these tacos are typically served steamed and also generally include pico de gallo, onion, cilantro and guacamole. Well, these are not options for this kid.

I look nostalgically homeward to Scotland and to the aforementioned Haggis and think, why not? Haggis in a Shell has a nice ring to it and would be a great way to eat this signature dish. Haggis is one of those dishes in its purest traditional Scottish form that uses offal/pluck (sheep's heart, liver and lungs - all minced), with suet, onions, oatmeal and spices, all boiled in the animal's stomach/paunch (which is not eaten). The recipe can vary, (no, it does not include the oink/bleat/moo as well) and there's even meatless Haggis — which may seem even stranger but if you’ve eaten a vegetarian burrito, then you’ve been there.

In the states we cannot by law properly or accurately replicate real Haggis. In our domain Haggis comes out more like a coarse liver pate that can be made with lamb or beef though still boiled in a stomach or alternative synthetic pouch. Of all the US versions I have tasted the best was from the kitchen of the late Laura “Haggis Queen” Kilpatrick. Her Haggii (look it up) were superb and earned her many kudos including her royal title. With Laura having relinquished her kitchen and now resting comfortably and ruling with a firm hand in Valhalla, we do have earthly options via the very capable and talented Scotophile Jim Walters ('Laird O' tha Haggis', Friend and fellow Templar) and his extraordinary Caledonian Kitchen canned Haggis. He has a full range of Scottish products and we assure you that this Haggis is exceptional and perhaps perfect for filling a taco shell…

Haggis is technically a sausage with generally well over 88% meat and offal though despite some repugnance (born of ignorance) with some of the original ingredients, it is delicious. I’ve tasted the real thing and like it as well or better than our North American version. So why not serve it in a taco shell? No reason at all.

Perhaps I can offer a sometimes perhaps even seasonal revision (Spring?) to Robert Burns’ Ode To A Haggis changing the last line to:

Gie her a Haggis Taco!

And if Taco Bell decides to market this delicacy let’s make sure that with the pico de gallo they offer some neeps and tatties garnished with cilantro, of course.


Ned Buxton

Friday, March 4, 2011


One of the many positive and more obvious elements of The King’s Speech is the attention it has drawn to the always frustrating and sometimes debilitating speech disorder we know as stuttering or stammering. The movie obviously meant a great deal to a lot of people as it garnered twelve Oscar nominations from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), including Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor Geoffrey Rush (astounding as Lionel Logue) and Actor for Colin Firth's amazing performance as King George VI who mostly managed his stammering (never was cured) to the degree that he was able to successfully lead his country through its greatest crisis. The King’s Speech ultimately won four Oscars for Best Original Screenplay, Direction, Best Actor and, yes, Picture of the Year, outstanding recognition especially considering their competition.

As I indicated in an earlier post, I was deeply moved by this movie and upon reflection realized that it contained elements present in my own life – some frivolous, some serious. They follow and probably offer nothing more than an insight to my psyche and early education and experiences though they certainly represent elements of our history.

When I was growing up the stammering Porky Pig ("Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-...That's all, folks”) was the first of many popular (my favorite) cartoon characters including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd (another stutterer), Sylvester the Cat, Tweety Bird, Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, Pepé Le Pew, Gossamer and many others from Warner Bros. and their very popular and successful Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoon series.

Not so ironically Porky shared his stutter with Joe Dougherty the voice actor who originally played him. Dougherty, however, could not control his stuttering (in or out of the studio and with or without his mike) resulting in longer recording sessions and higher production costs prompting his inevitable replacement by the versatile and now iconic Mel Blanc in 1937. The unintended stutter had by then, however, become the trademark trait of the character and Warner Bros. and Blanc continued the stutter, but controlled it and “harnessed (it) for a more precise comedic effect.” Porky surely was a comedic figure who elicited laughs though at the expense of those so afflicted. With Dougherty it was a real and daily challenge. With Blanc it was a contrivance… As a young boy I demonstrated some talent at drawing and cartooning and always seemed to be drawing Porky Pig and Elmer Fudd

Another famous stutterer for we bairns growing up in the 1940’s and 50’s was the timid and seemingly always nervous, soft-spoken baby pig named Piglet who also happened to be best Friends with A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh (I was a Peter Rabbit and Winnie the Pooh kind of kid). Though Piglet didn’t get his voice until Disney’s Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968), he was always presented in text with a squeaky stutter. Piglet’s occasional stammering ("Oh d-d-d-dear"), conveyed his nervousness and fear of the unknown and his occasional dive into Kanga’s pouch. Piglet’s generous, kind-hearted and humble demeanor always ultimately made up for his skittishness, worrying nature (always anxiously wringing his hands/hooves?) and his meager size. So, despite his shortcomings and stutter he always prevailed.
Another important lesson learned…

I am also reminded of my Lenox School reading of Herman Melville’s great unfinished and resurrected novella, Billy Budd, the allegorical story of a sailor of the same name who is the personification and embodiment of all that is innocent and good. Budd is falsely accused of a crime he did not commit. Because of his stuttering in moments of distress he is unable to defend himself and blindly strikes out accidentally killing his accuser, the evil master-at-arms, Claggart who himself should have been hung from the yardarm. Instead, however innocent in this tale of Good vs. Evil - Truth vs. Justice, Billy willingly forfeits his life for the good of the many. "Struck dead by the angel of God!" exclaims (Captain) Vere (Truth or Pontius Pilate?). "Yet the angel must hang!" Melville’s heroic character dies because of his one tragic flaw - he stuttered. That morality play and iconic tragedy has literally stayed with me all my life.
More lessons…

Then there was the infamous and indefensible stuttering Reverend Dr. Cotton Mather (1663–1728) son of the Reverend Dr. Increase Mather, the most prominent puritan clergyman in New England - Pastor of Boston's original North Church, president of Harvard College and New England's ambassador to the King of England. Cotton was the assistant Pastor at Boston's original North Church under his father and later Pastor when called upon (the 2nd time) by his congregation. As a kid growing up in New England and with a seemingly endless array of Puritan ancestors, well, I was initiated to history in part via the Mathers.

Cotton Mather was a leader of the Puritans and author who wrote hundreds of books and pamphlets including the first book on stuttering in America. Mr. Mather tried many methods to treat his stuttering - some successful including speaking in a drawling or sing-sing fashion and some unsuccessful - such as fasting and prayers. Apparently he did not shout the vulgarities that seemingly worked for George VI.

While a mostly fanatical though sometimes cautious supporter and advisor of the hysterical fiasco known as the Salem Witch Trials (really about money and land) he was later publicly unrepentant despite heavy criticism. He justifiably suffered mightily the slings and arrows of contemporary scorn for his involvement in the trials. That continues and I have Friends from Massachusetts who still today rightly curse his name despite all the good he did. Mather seemed to take the opportunity to rededicate himself after the trials and despite overwhelming positives, his mostly negative place in history persists (see Three Sovereigns for Sarah). Father Increase Mather did not support the Salem Witch Trials.

Both Increase and Cotton were good Friends with one of my august ancestors, the Rev. James Keith of Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Cotton Mather delivered the sermon and eulogy at Keith’s funeral in July 1719. Despite his stuttering Cotton was known for his fire and brimstone sermons. Ironically, on his fifty-sixth birthday, Cotton preached on Ecclesiastes 9:10a, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might”, the motto of the Buxton Family. Needless to say we Buxtons have nothing more in common with Cotton than that sermon and his friendship with Keith which we hope in retrospect was more a matter of liturgical convenience. Cotton’s stuttering no doubt increased (no pun) his fervor for writing in such abundance .

There are many well-known and successful celebrities and other folks of some notoriety – from all walks of life - who have stuttered and been very successful. Caution: I do cringe (and I certainly mean no disrespect) when I see myriad “Lists of Famous Stutterers” and I am NOT going to include one here.

While I don’t want to remove even the remotest inspiration for those with a speech impediment, I see celebrities and figures in world history (most deceased) alleged to have stuttered with absolutely no documentation of the disorder. These highly suspect lists seems to grow daily and are then in non-scholarly fashion embraced and perpetuated on the Internet compounding the issue. In our celebrity-driven, instant gratification culture the presence of these pin up boys/girls appears to be there mostly for therapeutic or marketing value in order to raise money for research and public relations. Next I fully expect to see multiple choice PR material that matches celebrities with their disorders. Having said that, those truly afflicted and willing to lend their support to these causes are to be commended.

While I am not trying to underplay the seriousness of this disorder, those so afflicted shouldn’t use it as a crutch, an excuse for failure, letting it rule their lives. George VI sure didn’t and pushed towards the light. George’s civilian partner, Winston Churchill (he had a lisp), addressed his issue and is considered by many as one of the greatest orators of all time. Some state that Churchill even had a stammer though there is great disagreement on this issue (I am lock step with the Churchill Centre & Museum in London). That he did have a speech defect is well documented. Churchill turned that lisp and “word groping” into his famous and dramatic “loaded pause” and with his defiant, jowly, baritone delivery gave even greater credence and power to his words. He was and remains (with or without a list/stammer) one of my heroes with his life an example and tribute to courage and perseverance. Same song, different verse

Would that those with this speech disorder could turn it off as easily as Mel Blanc did. I have one close Family member who has suffered from this ailment for most of his life enduring a wide variety of treatments. He has learned to cope and is doing well, but sometimes regresses when in distress. We in the Family have learned to be more empathetic, patient and understanding. He has walked the walk, proved his worth, paid the proverbial piper and earned a special place on this planet. He has made us better.

So, this speech disorder hits close to home for me and other Family members hence part of my fascination with the movie. Statistics from I don’t know where estimate that one percent of the world’s population stammers or stutters. When part of that one percent is the King of England in wartime, then you have a great tale though the real story (probably far more complicated than this simplistic tale) wasn’t told until 70+ years later per the request of the Queen Mum.

The humanity of that episode in history and this triumph over adversity is the point, among others, of the movie and the essence of this post. Please be patient, encouraging and relaxed when you relate to individuals so challenged. They are us and we them, part of that by the grace of God thing. Yes, they/we have a voice… And, maybe you didn’t know that David Seidler who wrote The Kings’s Speech screenplay and won the Oscar has been part of that voice. You see, Seidler stuttered badly until he conquered his own speech disorder nearly 60 years ago giving George VI and his valiant example the credit. Seidler became a writer hoping to one day chronicle the King’s tale and we say, well done.

Renowned movie critic Leonard Maltin opines for me, “There are times when I look around me and get the feeling that civilization, as I know it, is coming to an end. Then a film like this arrives on the scene and restores my faith, not only in movies but in humankind itself.”


Ned Buxton