Monday, December 15, 2014

Women rule the Airwaves

                   

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
For this fall's television season, I see more shows on network TV with women in the lead role.  There is The Good Wife, Scandal, How to get away with Murder, Madam Secretary, and in State of Affairs, not only are there women leads, the President of the United States is a woman.  In Person of Interest, the woman, Ms. Shaw, is an equal not a supporting role.  She gets to beat up and shoot up just as many people as the male lead.

These TV roles are so juicy.  The women get to strut their stuff and let their ambition run amok. They can be bossy, be mean and nasty, be clever and sneaky, and the viewers just love them.  The TV roles are so unlike movies roles where women are to only look pretty and show cleavage.  The TV roles are so good that movie stars are now grabbing them up.  You need name recognition to successfully audition for a role.  Think Tea Leoni and Oscar winner Halle Berry just to throw some names at you.

This is probably the first season on network TV with so many shows with women leads.  This is significant.  Women in lead roles are common fare on cable TV but cable shows get fairly low ratings, something less than one million viewers per showing.  One showing on network TV is seen by more people - twenty million or more - than a month of shows on any cable channel.  That the high ratings hold up week after week is proof that these women leaders are accepted by America.

All these shows on network TV are changing America.  The country is getting used to seeing women in power positions.  The women are setting an example for women in regular life to follow.  Young women do not have to search for a role model any more.  Young women now have role models thrust in their faces.  Measure up, step up, to your future. 

We see women in power over and over and over, every week.  We see them and start to think, "A woman can do this."  The viewers can imagine women succeeding in non-traditional jobs.  If it's OK in fantasy, it will be OK in real life.  So, in the next election, we may yet choose a woman as President of the United States.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Happy Money

                   

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
Can money buy happiness?  Most of us say no.  But money does more than buy things.  Where and how one spends money sends messages and those messages can make us happy.

Money turns out to have more value than its economic use.  Economists look at money as a medium of exchange, that is, I can use it to buy goods and services.  Economists also say that money is a store of value, that is, I can save it up to use for some future purchase.  Economists completely miss the aspect where money stores social goodwill, that is, my deep friendship for you.

Let's say I take you to lunch.  We can eat, tell each other bad jokes, and gossip about everybody we know.  By treating you to lunch, have I bought your friendship or bought your time?  Sure I can buy your company but if that’s all there is then the happiness fades when I stop taking you to lunch.

Taking you to lunch sends subtle messages -- that I value you more than I do my money.  My money is important to me because I spend much of my time, knowledge, and skills at a job to get it.  I put up with annoying customers, demanding bosses and uncooperative co-workers to earn my money.  Now I am spending it on you.  I am telling you in deeds without telling you in words that, for all the effort that I put into earning my money, I like you enough to spend my hard earned money on buying lunch.  It makes me happy to buy lunch for my friend.  Whew, that’s a mouthful.

Money does not stop at just friendship.  Money has other social uses.  There is a weird ritual, Potlatch, where people destroy wealth to show their greatness.  It's an odd idea that one can gain great status and praise because one is so rich that one can destroy a Mercedes Benz automobile and not care.  I prefer to take you to lunch.  We can enjoy good food, drink too much, get fat together, and that is worth all the money in the world. 

But why stop at lunch?  For those of us who are friends with benefits, we can substitute money for physical intimacy in those times when, well… we just can't get a room.  We can go on a wild abandoned shopping spree, spending money outrageously, and then engage in an orgy of gift giving with each other.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Arms of Love

                  

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
While at lunch in the office, a woman blurted out that she offered her forearm to her boyfriend to play with rather than her breast.  She said, "My arm is attached to me just like my breast, has the same feel and touch and the exact same skin as my breast.  So what difference does it make to him?"

A good point.  At one time, women wore long skirts.  The sight of an ankle would drive men wild and they would think very amorous thoughts.  Well, I dare say that today, we see lots of ankles and yet no one, at least the normal amongst us, think much about them.  We are too busy thinking about other covered body parts to be bothered about ankles.

As ankles became more visible, we have trained ourselves not to think of ankles as sexy.  They might be nicely shaped but not worthy of amorous thoughts.  We have trained ourselves to think of red six inch spike heel pumps as sexy.  Put your unsexy ankles in shoes like that and suddenly your ankles get a whole lot sexier.  Our mind begins to think amorous thoughts.  Clearly, our mind likes to make up stories about our feelings.

Let's take this a bit further.  Suppose I train you to feel that forearms are an erogenous area.  How would you respond when touched?  Excited!  That is what this woman is doing.  She is training her boyfriend to think of her forearm as sexy.  He will be imaging her enjoying his touch there and he will imagine his pleasure at her pleasure.  Soon, it will make a difference to him and she will have to pick another bodily part to offer him.  Eventually, she will run out of parts.

Ahhh, how much more simpler her life would have been if she had just offered him her breast.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

What's in a Name?

                               
This article by Vol-E was previously published elsewhere.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In the debate over whether children benefit more from a common name or an unusual one, it is necessary to examine what we mean by "common."  With a world population of over 7 billion souls, could there possibly be many names left that are entirely unique?  There are a lot of other Baracks in the world, and plenty more people named Britney, Halle, Khloe and Shaquille.  Parents who think they can beat the odds and raise the only individual on the planet with a particular name are setting themselves up for disappointment. 

Wait (I heard you asking) -- what about "Zezozose Zadfrack Glutz?"  

Nope, sorry. Charles Manson and Susan Atkins beat ya to it back around 1968 or so...

My parents often told me that they chose my name to avoid the "Kathy-Debbie" phenomenon that seemed quite popular in the late 1950s.  I managed to be the only Elaine in my school, all the way through 12th grade, but I also suffered the continual indignity of being called "Eileen," "Ellen,"Eleanor" and even "Heléneby people who had never heard of the name Elaine.  But by the time I reached my early 20s, the name had apparently caught on.  At the camp where I worked one summer, someone with a twisted sense of humor assigned me to a cabin with a CIT named Elayne and a camper named Elain.  Since then, nearly every environment has provided me with a name-twin.  The name is still unusual enough in these cases to cause confusion.  E-mails meant for "the other Elaine" find their way to me, and vice versa, invariably followed by "Oh -- that's right, we have two Elaines." 

Another advantage that the more well-represented Kathys and Debbie have is what I think of as a "convertible" name.  A Kathy of sneakers and jeans can transform into a regal Katherine for occasions such as interviews and formal dinners.  The same is true for Debbie/Deborah, Frank/Francis, Bill/William and even Millie, who can become a Millicent or a Mildred.  This is why I am often puzzled when parents intentionally give their child the shortened version of a name, right off the bat. "Jack," "Sam," and "Peggy" never get a chance to opt for the more formal "John," "Samuel," and "Margaret." Sometimes we need a dash of gravitas.

On the other hand, quite a few people have strong negative reactions to the common diminutives, under any circumstances. We all know a Susan who will threaten bodily harm toward anyone who dares call her "Sue," and a Michael who could probably stand to loosen up now and then and tolerate being called "Mike." 

An unusual name should, at the very least, provide some ease of pronunciation.  As many of us learned in high school English class, the word "ghoti" is actually pronounced "fish," using common spelling conventions.  But it is unfair and burdensome for a child to have to explain, day after day, how to pronounce one's name, especially if the spelling clearly implies one thing and the pronunciation comes as a surprise every time.  We live in a fast-paced, abbreviated sort of world where children are just as rushed and short on time as adults.  A child of a certain temperament will relish the spotlight and the momentary fascination of teachers and classmates, but children typically like to feel that they blend in and share common ground with their peers.  

The best place for exotica is the safe territory between the first and last name.  This is where parents can open themselves to creativity and pay homage to cherished ancestors or even admired celebrities.  There's also no limit to the number of middle names a child can have.  Middle names are handy for those unforeseen changes of identity that many children come up against.  A good example is a child christened Lady Jayne Seymour Fonda, who is today known as anything but a "plain" Jane. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New Year Resolutions

             

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
It's that time of the year again when I start to think about what became of this year's New Year Resolutions.  Last January, I was stingy and I made only two resolutions on the belief that I could concentrate on only these two items and improve my chances of succeeding.  It did not turn out that way. 

The first and I suppose the most common New Year's resolution is to lose weight.  We all make that one and we all seem to fail at it.  I am no different and I want to make some excuses for my failure.  Obviously I cannot claim that the dog ate my lunch since I don't have one, so what kind of excuse can I give and yet sound reasonable.  I can always blame someone else - my wife.  If she did not cook so well then I would have lost the weight.  She made the most scrumptious roasted Rosemary Chicken, Coq au Vin, Chicken Tandoori, Chicken Parmigiana, Chicken Piccata, Jerk Chicken,  and, Curry Chicken, and that was just week one.   If I did not eat her cooking, she would think that she was a terrible cook and I would feel so guilty.   I did not want her to eat alone so I ate with her.  I ate her portion and mine, to save her from herself, you understand, so that she could lose weight too.  See what a thoughtful husband I have turned out to be.

My other resolution was to save more money.  Well, that did not work either.  Here I really do have a legitimate excuse, two of them really.  One, I just do not make enough money.  It's simple, if my boss paid me more, then I would have more money to save.  Second, my bills got bigger, much against my will.  The worst is always the cable bill followed closely by the cell phone bill.  We all know about the cable lament -- 1000 channels for hundreds of dollars each month and not a decent show to watch.  Now the cell phone is second but is working hard to replace the cable bill as my most irritating bill.  Used to be that cell phones were only to call people.  Now, there are data plans, texting, and apps for shopping, travel, games, pictures and some rather nefarious purposes, all of which cost much more money.  The least thing done with a modern cell phone is to call people.

My next year's resolution will be the same as last.  This is the fifth year in a row, an anniversary of a sort, that I have made the same two resolutions.  All I can say is that I am in good company with the Lord on this.  You know how the Lord works, keep repeating the same experience until we learn His lesson.  I will keep repeating my resolutions until I learn my own lesson.  Don't bother me with what that lesson is as I haven't yet learned it.

So, see you next year at this time.
___________________________________
Note: Photograph shows the world-famous Maru.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Daily Sexist Commute

                          

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
My commuter railroad has new cars.  They are beautiful, fabulous and a joy to ride.

I don't know how they did it, but the inside of the new cars is wider with lots more space,  and the train still fits in the station.  Looks like they re-arranged the seats to create more seating.  What I like most is that there is a hand rail down the center aisle for those times that I get caught out of position and cannot hold on to the rails above the seats.

The new cars have gadgetry.  There is an electronic map with all the stations and it shows you where in the world you are on the train route.  Looks like a version of Google maps.  There is also a video screen that tells you the next station, the estimated time of arrival, and shows safety messages.  No commercials, at least not yet, unless you include the railroad's shameless self promotions, "We are the greatest railroad you have ever been on.  Here is our latest project to..."

The train still has audio announcements.  It a beautiful voice, very soothing, and the diction is perfect.  The station announcements sound so interesting that I am tempted to get off at every stop.  Clearly professionals,  you know, actors, the ones who do voice overs for radio commercials.

But here's the odd thing.  The voice that give us directions, that announces the next station and the transfer points is female.  The voice that give us instructions, the voice of command that tell us "Watch the closing doors" or "Get your fat ass inside" if we are too slow in obeying, is male.

Who knew that this iron horse, dripping in modernity, and completely devoid of gender, could be so sexist.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

My Training Bra

                     
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
I still remember my first struggles with the clasp of a bra.  It is a rite of passage for young men just learning about relationships and women to struggle to open a bra.   Bras, in general, are like chastity belts for the breasts. They have a special lock, the clasp, and of course, are ridiculously difficult to open.

On the  eventful day, things started out normally enough with my girlfriend.  Let's call her by another name, Beverly, to protect her virtue (probably long gone by now).  Beverly liked to wear turtleneck sweaters.  You know how turtleneck sweaters just show off the female form.  Well, I got to noticing her soft round breasts, which lead to me taking liberties and having a wonderful squeeze.  Beverly's response to this was, "Did you enjoy yourself?"  Duh!!  Anyway, somehow I ended up trying to unclasp her bra.

Not so simple.  The clasps that close a bra are designed to frustrate us. Perhaps it is women's way of testing us. If you can open this mechanism, then you are manly, virile, and worthy of its contents. Yes, bra clasps are a conspiracy led by women. It’s not like Beverly needed to wear a bra.  She only had her breasts for a few years and they were perky enough to easily stand up on their own. Nope, she wore a bra to test me. 


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Low Art of Cat Calling

                                 

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
"Hey Baby, your headlights are on.  Come with me and I'll light you up tonight, all night long.  I'm cocked and ready to go," exclaimed Joe as the woman scurried down the street, blank-faced, clutching hard at her bag.

Charlie chuckled as he wiped down the backhoe, "Man, Joe, you sure have a way with words.  You should write a book."
"Nah, I ain't no writer. These things just come to me."
"Well it's like poetry.  You must do OK with the ladies?"
"No more than usual. But the ladies do like to be told how sexy they are."
"You should start a school.  Mind if I use your line?"
"Feel free."
"Thanks.  Tonight is Belgian Beer at Pinkie’s. You coming?"
"Nah, I'm tired.  Been a long day.  Nite."
"See you tomorrow."

"Hey Baby, your headlights are on.  Come with me and I'll light you up tonight, all night long," exclaimed Charlie in the dimly lit bar, to a buxom woman in leather pants with a tightly wound whip hidden on her opposite hip.
She looked at him, "So you think you can handle a woman like me?"
"Yup, cocked and ready to go."
The woman's eyes lit up wickedly as she touched her whip, smiled and said,  "My, aren't you the macho one.  I accept your challenge.  Let's go."


Meanwhile, Joe enters his front door calling out, "Hello, I’m home."
"Upstairs, be down in a minute," replies his husband.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Cain and Abel and Ishmael

                    


Daniel Quinn's groundbreaking book Ishmael offers a fascinating, non-traditional analysis of the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. 

First, the Biblical account: 

In Genesis Chapter 4, Verses 1-12, Eve gives birth to Cain, who grows to be a farmer, and Abel, who tends flocks.  Both brothers bring offerings to God, but only Abel's portions from his flocks are favored, while Cain's offerings of the fruit of the soil are not.  This leads to quick resentment on the part of Cain, who lures his brother to a field and kills him.  God quickly discerns what has happened, though Cain initially lies to cover it ("Am I my brother's keeper?").  God puts Cain under a curse ("Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground" - v.10 and "When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you." - v.12).  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Pot of Gold

                
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
I have been thinking about my 401K.  For 2015, the maximum is $18,000.  I want to contribute the maximum money into my 401K.  I have never done that before. 

When I was young, just out of school, I had a life-changing  experience.  I was laid off.  The economy was bad and it was difficult to get another job.  I was down, literally, to my last dollar.   I was living on unemployment and my savings.  Eventually, my savings ran out and all I had was my last dollar.  I was worried.  I borrowed some money from my ex-girlfriend -- proof that it pays to be nice to your Ex.  The next week, I got a job and paid her back.  Lucky.

The experience scared me.  Saving money became important.  I read financial planning books and followed their advice to the letter.  I made a budget and I carried a little book to record every expenditure just to be sure that I would not forget any.   Eventually, computers came along and I transferred my budget to a VisiCalc spreadsheet. 

VisiCalc allowed me to go berserk.  So much easier to record and track how I spent my money.  Every penny of my pay check was accounted for and reconciled to the expenditure.  From big bills like rent, to the weekly bill for groceries, to the twenty-five cents for a pack of gum.  The spreadsheet summarized each expense by week, month and, of course, year.  I plotted out graphs of income and expense flows.  Today, I no longer have a spreadsheet.  Time does heal.

Unless I win the lottery, I will never own a Mercedes-Benz or live in a mansion.   Maxing out my 401K is my personal achievement statement, the same as owning a Mercedes or living in a mansion.  It is a confirmation that I had a great year, that I have made so much money that I have excess money to put into my 401K, and that I officially became a financial success.

Truth is that I don't have the money to max out my 401K.  I suppose I can find extra monies by cutting my expenses.  I can give up my expensive smart phone and use a phone that only makes calls.  I can certainly give up my cable.  I can give up wonderful Starbucks coffee and drink cheaper and horrible Cantina coffee.  I can give up tasty food and live on bread and water for the next year.  It is an awful way to live but I must stuff my 401K with money and not my belly with tasty pastry.   

Now where did I put that VisiCalc?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Speaking for the spoiled brats, underachievers, and bleeding hearts

                               

Your child does not have to love you every minute of every day. He’ll get over the disappointment of having been told “no.” But he won’t get over the effects of being spoiled. –Dr. Phil

…what we have is an entire generation of young adults who got everything they ever wanted with little or no work, we have a cultural norm and it’s a problem. –Kristen Welch

Perhaps the biggest problem with entitlement is that under its illusions, there seem to be no real consequences in life and no motivation to work for anything. Someone will always bail you out, get you off the hook, buy you a new one, make excuses for you, give you another chance, pay your debt, and hand you what you ask for. –Richard and Linda Eyre

The entire idea of my parents having four kids on one income made us make tough choices all the time. We hardly ever ate out.  We nervously asked my dad for two quarters to play video games…but never more. “That’s too much,”  we’d say to each other. –Ramit Sethi

The younger generation doesn’t want to have to really “work” for a living. They want everything handed to them. They don’t want to have to go without their “extras.” They “deserve” everything, and cannot fathom having to go without it because they cannot afford it. No one is entitled to anything, and unless one works for it, you don’t deserve to have it. – Kathy Lambert

~

If there were some sort of "agree-o-meter" to measure the extent of universally shared opinion on any particular topic, this one would probably be off the scale. It seems there's no one on this whole planet who sees any worth whatsoever in parents not running their households like pure capitalist systems - I give you a dollar, you'd darn better work your little tushie off to earn it.
Yeah, it's true -- kids as a rule don't understand the value of money, and they always want things. I don't think there's any force on earth that can change that basic psychological fact of the human condition. My son, raised in the 1990s-2000s, had that mindset, but so did I, three decades earlier. It might be a "new" thing, relatively speaking, as in, post-World War II, but it isn't something that just sprang up with the current generation.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I saw that!

                                
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
An intern in my office remarked, “I wonder what my life will be like.”   I don’t know if the intern realized it but she wants the ability to know the future.
 
What she really means is, “…tell me all the good things that will happen to me in the future.”   Yes, she wants to hear that she will be offered a job that gets her to the CEO position, then she will leave there to start a new company that creates a product that saves lives and changes the world.  Tell her that her husband will be handsome, smart, kind, love only her, and will never look at another woman, ever.  Tell her that her children will be well behaved geniuses.

She also means, “…tell me all the awful things that will happen to me so that I can change it.”   By sheer coincidence, her next boss is an ungrateful terror but she saves his job when she comes up with a brilliant idea for a product.  Her boss now loves her and promotes her.  Plus, she is getting mugged and this hottie man rescues her.  They fall in love, marry, and live happily ever after.

I am sure she did not mean that she wants to know the really awful things.  Tomorrow, you will die.

But you know, life is not so simple.  Life gets complicated.   Let’s say that she ends up married to a wealthy man and has fifteen children, one per year for the next fifteen years.  Is that good or bad? I don’t know.  How about this: she leaves home, gets run over by a bus, but she has the winning lottery ticket in her pocket.


Perhaps she should have wanted something far simpler, like to read people’s minds.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Book Review: The Hour I First Believed, by Wally Lamb

                         

This article by Vol-E was originally published elsewhere.
~

April of 2009 marked the 10th anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School.  Wally Lamb's novel, The Hour I First Believed, is a fictional account of one woman who was on campus during the shootings, and survived.  The story is told from the point of view of her husband. 

If the story had been told with the wife, Maureen, as the narrator, I suspect the novel would have been much shorter and more manageable.  As it is, Caelum Quirk, Maureen's husband, has a story of his own to tell.  Correction:  He has roughly a dozen stories -- everything from early marital failures, Katrina refugees, Mark Twain and his dinner guest Nicola Tesla, the Cocoanut Grove fire, post-traumatic stress disorder, women's prisons, the Miss Rheingold contest, illegitimate babies, and abused teens, to addiction, and beyond. 

Many of the elements that make this novel a success are the same ones that cripple it.  Caelum's story is told in real-time.  He is sitting down in front of you, spilling it all.  Is he a sympathetic character?  That is difficult to say.  He is blunt and truthful about his failings, but behind the confession is a wheedling plea for love and acceptance.  He can't help being angry, losing his temper, and letting his wife suffer alone and unsupported -- all this was caused by his childhood, and if you don't believe him, he's gonna take you back a century or two and work forward from there until you give in and tell him it's really, really all right. 

In Lamb's favor, every one of the sub-plots is fascinating, and each one "goes somewhere."  That's part of the problem.  You're trying to follow one storyline, but then have to detour into devices such as letters and psychiatric appointments.  Lamb gets back on track numerous times, only to find yet another spur along which to meander.  

The reader may find it useful to take notes.  Caelum Quirk's family of ancestry includes Lizzie, Lillian, Lydia and Lolly, and the story jumps back and forth through time, spotlighting each woman in turn.  There is, certainly, a point to all of these threads.  But ultimately, it is Caelum's story, not Maureen's.  Her part of the story ends on a less than satisfactory note.  

In Lamb's defense, it can be said that this is what life is like.  Working on mysteries without any clues, trying to keep plates in the air while the dog and cat are chasing each other around your legs and the phone is ringing.  He reminds us that for many of us, childhood should be classified as a terminal illness.  While we seek to recover from it, the here-and-now has a bewildering way of sneaking up and switching your medical records around.  

At the very least, we can read this novel and breathe a sigh of relief, that no matter how convoluted and exasperating our lives may be, they could always be worse.  We could always be Maureen or Caelum Quirk.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

MoneyKiss, an intimate performance app

                         

Disclaimer: This is not a real smartphone app -- yet. But if it should ever hit the market, you heard about it here first, and Your Faithful Correspondent gets the credit and the bucks!

 How long did it take you to get to first base?  Second base?  How many home runs do you have?  Now track your intimate relations performance with a new app, MoneyKiss

Yes, our society measures athletic prowess, ranks colleges, and creates  lists of the world's top ten beautiful people.  Thanks to MoneyKiss, we can now add your performance in intimate relations.

We have taken the statistical and mathematical evaluation methods developed in Baseball and explained so well by Brad Pitt in the movie MoneyBall, and brought you MoneyKiss to track your performance between the sheets.

Thanks to smartphones, you and your date can easily enter your performance into MoneyKiss.  You no longer have to spend the rest of your life wondering how good you are.   Learn how you compare to all the men in your town.  You will be ranked with the local men, and if you desire it, you can get a world wide ranking too.

A special feature of MoneyKiss for men is that you can enter your date's identity and you can compare your performance to the other men she dated in the past.

Women have their special features too.  Just enter your date's identity and you will immediately learn if he has the "package" you want.  See his performance ranking from his previous dates.  Weed out the duds.  No more trial and error.

MoneyKiss is revolutionary.

Here are some of the MoneyKiss performance indicators:
  • AT -- At Bat.  The number of time you were at bat or the count of your attempts to get to first base.
  • BL  -- usually has an asterisk to indicate the use of the "Little Blue Pills"
  • GL -- Girth Length ratio.  There is an old saying, " long d**k is not big d**k."  The girth matters too.  The closer to your number "1" the better.
  • KAT -- Kiss And Tell measures how many time you have been caught kissing and telling
  • OKI -- Orgasm Knocked In.  How many times you deliver the big O in one night's match
  • OO --  Oscar not orgasm.  Tells how good you are at faking your performance
  • RO -- The Romantic Operator indicates your overall performance ability to show a girl a good time.
  • HP -- Horsepower, your running power.  In short, how long can you last
  • SPM -- Strokes per Minute.  The strokes or hip thrusts per minute.
  • $$$  --  Measure of the "fat" of your wallet.  Some think that this is a superior size indicator than the GL.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Astrological insights into sticky relationships

                                                   

This article by Vol-E was originally published elsewhere.
~


If existence is a wheel, it isn't the kind on a stationary bike.  It's more like a wheel on a car, constantly revolving, but also traveling the miles, exploring new territory through the years. 

In light of this, we may wonder why certain patterns seem to repeat themselves, defying the convention of moving with the wheel, learning from the old, embracing the new.  In particular, when someone returns to an ex-partner or ex-spouse repeatedly, is it karma or weakness? 

The best recourse is to conduct a reading on both parties - since returning to a relationship requires two partners who allow it.  Clearly, this repetitive pattern indicates something gratifying and compelling -- if not in a lasting way.  A qualified astrologer or psychic can offer the detailed insights that go far toward answering these puzzling questions. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Black...ish

                  
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
Black..ish is a new TV show exploring the affluent black middle-class cultural identity.  The implication from the show is that black people lose their cultural identity when they become affluent.  I say the show has it wrong.  Instead of losing black culture, we see the development of a new black middle-class cultural identity.

For the first time in American history, there is now a sizable black middle-class.  There have always been educated and affluent black people but they were small in number and tended to blend into the black community and were not so visible.  They were part of the existing black community and were part of the existing black culture.  Now that we have a large and visible black middle-class, perhaps it is time to develop a black middle-class culture.

Ironically, the closest example to the development of a black middle-class is the European immigrant experience.  The first European immigrants, let's call them the founding immigrants, came here and kept many of the old country ways. Their children, the next generation,  became the hyphenated generation, Italian-American, Irish-American, and so on.  The Hyphens observed the old country ways in their homes but when they walked out the front door, they put on American clothes, went to American schools, and ate American hamburgers.  The third generation, the grandchildren, were completely assimilated and were completely American.

Black people, in many respects, are immigrants in their own country.  There was a great migration of black people from the south to the north.  They brought with them black culture that was created from slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, and from the Civil Rights movement.   The next generation did become the hyphenated generation of African-Americans.  Unlike the European immigrant experience, generation here is not parent to child to grandchild.  No, this generation is a cultural generation and consists of parent, child and grandchild as one generation. The next generation is the establishment of a black middle-class identity.

I am no seer so I cannot tell what the new middle-class black identity will be.   There may be clues to be found in observing black celebrities like Jay-Z or Sean Combs. They came from hip-hop and appear to be morphing beyond their hip hop beginnings.  I can only say that in observing white culture, there will be a two black identities, The Haves and The Have-Nots.

To Mr. Johnson, the father from Black...ish, I say don't worry.  Take a look at your children's faces.  They are black and will always be black.  Unlike other immigrants, they cannot blend in and become invisible.  No amounts of American clothes or American hamburgers can change this.  Your children will always and forever be black and whatever they chose to do or not to do will automatically be Black Culture.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Film Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

                                    

This article by Vol-E was originally published elsewhere.
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"You can be as mad as a mad dog at the way things went. You could swear, curse the fates, but when it comes to the end, you have to let go."  

"You never know what's coming for you." 

If these lines sound like something Forrest Gump might have said, it's probably because Eric Roth, screenwriter for the 1993 film that won Tom Hanks an Oscar, is also responsible for this acclaimed 2008 motion picture about a reject who manages to live a life of significance. 

Based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button takes us from birth to death and beyond, and invites us to reconsider how we define those terms. 

Benjamin (played by Brad Pitt) begins life with the outward features of a very old man and dies, many decades later, as an infant in the arms of the only woman he ever really loved.  In between these two points, he experiences the same type of life as anyone else.  He learns how to walk, how to work, how to get along with others, and how to care for loved ones.  His life reflects the irony that confronts each of us, sooner or later:  By the time we have enough wisdom in our hearts and minds, our bodies have lost the power to help us use it.   

Bracketing the Button biography (told via a diary and flashbacks) is the present-day circumstance of a very old woman facing her last hours in a New Orleans hospital as Hurricane Katrina is bearing down. The patient's name is Daisy and her caregiver is Caroline, her daughter.   

We know that Caroline's father is no longer living, but that as far as she is concerned, Benjamin Button is a stranger she never met.  He is someone from her mother's distant past.  But we also know that Caroline knows little about her mother's life before she was born.  She is shocked to learn that her mother was an aspiring professional ballerina.   

Caroline learns for the first time that Daisy had a grandmother who lived in a pleasant convalescent home in New Orleans in the years before World War II, and that Daisy's best friend there was a funny little old man with the innocence and curiosity of a child.  However, it seems that only Daisy fully realizes this about Benjamin.  Her grandmother sees only a strange old man who whispers secrets to her granddaughter, under a bed, with only a candle's illumination. 

Caroline learns that Benjamin eventually left New Orleans and went to sea as a crew member on a tugboat.  While the tugboat captain has his doubts about how much work a frail old character like Benjamin could do, he eventually comes to reconsider his assumptions.  At one point, he questions his own perceptions:  "Either I've been drinking too much, or you've sprouted," he observes to Benjamin, who turns away to hide a smile and replies,  "Well, Captain, you do drink a lot..." 

As the story unfolds, we see Benjamin walking, growing hair on his head ("and other places"), and meeting more and more women who find him attractive and sympathetic.  But his travels bring him back again and again to New Orleans, and Daisy comes back, too.  At the beginning of their relationship, they are an old man and a young girl.  By the ending credits, their roles have reversed, and their sweetest memories are now in the past: The memories of their years together, when both were in their 40s.  

The story is a sad one, but hopeful for the audience.  As Benjamin reminds us, it's never too late for anyone ... or too early.  




Wednesday, September 24, 2014

How the earth was created

                                          

By The Urban Blabbermouth
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Did you know that the earth was created square and looked like a cube?  When God created the earth, He took the stuff of the universe and began to knead it.  Every time He kneaded it, He would slap the earth on His work bench creating a flat side.  Knead, slap, knead, slap, creating flat sides as He worked.  When God was done kneading and slapping, the earth was square. 

After God put the earth in its place in the Heavens, He created some plants and animals on it.  The plants put down roots and were happy.  The animals were not happy because they kept falling off the edge of the earth.  God noticed.  God grabbed the earth, cupped it in His palms and rounded the edges.  It worked and the animals were happy.

God then created man.  Man then made the world flat.  The world was not really flat but man thought so.  I don't know why man thought this when man could have easily walked around the world and seen for himself that the earth was round.  Galileo came along later and showed that the world was round.  For making man look foolish in man's eyes, man punished Galileo.

Science has a different story of creation.  Science does not dispute that the earth was once square since none of the scientists were there at the beginning.  God had not yet created them.  To this day, scientists still don't know how the earth was created.

Science does have a theory that the earth got to be round because the wind and water flowing over the square edges wore down the edges into roundness.  Since this is a scientific theory, they were asked for proof.  The scientists said, "Go to the beach.  There is your proof.  There isn't a square stone to be found.  The wind and the waves wore down all the square edge stones into roundness.  The same thing happened to the earth's edges."

So, now you know how the earth was created.