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Coffee, Tea, or Me… Sadly Seeking The MRS. Degree

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(A wrinkle-free ME in 1974…a true Chick Magnet!)

Yesterday I received a FACEBOOK friend request from M, a former school classmate of mine from Glendale Secondary in Hamilton, Ontario.

I immediately went and checked my 1974 high school year book to see if the new friend was who I envisioned. She was.

(Pet Peeve Time…I hate that I can’t identify or locate my female friends from years gone by because they now have a married name. Can we stop mucking with peoples’ identities?). 

I began reading through the little written blurbs accompanying the photo of each of my graduating classmates, telling of their pet peeves and aspirations for life. My blurb really sucked. It said absolutely nothing meaningful about me…which, when I think about it, maybe best summed up who I was at the time. I was chubby and pimply, and truly HAD little meaningful to say! Precious stuff, that! But I digress…

My new “friend” M (who, BTW, was much cuter than I was handsome… I wasn’t in her league), along with most of the girls from my graduating cohort, wanted to be a stewardess or a secretary… and a Mom. What young lady wouldn’t want to be paid to serve a man- whether on an airplane or in an office, Mad Men-style–  until Mr. Right comes along and puts a ring on it? Both fine occupations while waiting to obtain their MRS. degrees… but neither holds a financial candle or esteem-building heft approaching that of a “man”‘s career.

Girls were 2nd class citizens waiting for a man to make them whole!

This reminded me of the old teaser question from my youth: 

A boy is brought to the hospital ER needing emergency surgery after a horrific car crash. His father was badly hurt in the accident as well. When the boy is rolled into the OR for the operation, the surgeon ambles to his bedside and says, “I can’t operate on this boy, he’s MY SON”.

Whoa…the big perplexing question posed here is…how is this possible?

The answer is EASY, the surgeon is the boy’s Mommy.  Surprise!!

AND WE WERE surprised…In those days…

Today, this scenario doesn’t raise an eyebrow, which is as it should be.

Imagine, the youngster’s mother was neither a stewardess nor a secretary- she was a high-powered surgeon, a man’s lofty profession. There’s nothing wrong with these career choices from an earlier era but if I envision the almost inevitable future single Mom (or newly “Gay Mom“) with these jobs, I don’t see a solid financial future. I abhor that too many girls have raised their kids alone and on minimum wage pay.

But things change. There are now more young women enrolled in medicine, law, education administration, and accounting across North America than men – but not yet engineering. In today’s world, the bigger problem for both young men and women seems not a shortage of career choices but a surfeit…how does one narrow down the selection and actually come to a decision?

If I read the yearbook of today’s young graduate, how many of the girls’ blurbs would demonstrate a burning desire to be a secretary or flight attendant (the least I can do is update the jargon from “stewardess”)?

I was reading another blog (Analyfe) the other day that contained this quote from Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar:

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

And like Sylvia Plath’s figs, many of today’s young women and men struggle with the fateful decision of which occupational road to choose. They go to university, or take year or two out of school, not knowing or able to decide a direction to follow…frozen like deer in the headlights.

The huge Wal Mart-esque academic shelves are filled to overflowing with possibility and they can’t decide.

And so I have some thoughts to pass on to the girls of today.

  • Don’t be Afraid to Decide– as Nike ads state, “Just Do It”. We all make bad choices, but a bad decision is better than no decision at all. Career choices can be changed 5 times or more in today’s world.
  • Don’t Look For a Man To Save You– we men have shown in recent years that we don’t have the balls to support ourselves, much less you and our kids (Man-BOYS). Love us but don’t be dependent on us.
  • Dream Big, Work Hard– realize that you probably have more potential than you give yourself credit for. Persevere, be tenacious, and make yourself proud.

The ending to this story is that my Facebook friend M didn’t become a stewardess… sorry, flight attendant, after all. She made a career selection that allows her to use her creative strengths and shows that she can be a determined supporter for herself.

Finally young ladies, I’d like to say, be better than me…hell…it’s just not that hard!

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MANSCAPING…Will That Be Clear-Cut or Bonsai?

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She asks me why, why I’m a hairy guy.
I’m hairy noon and night, my hair that’s a fright.
I’m hairy high and low, don’t ask me why, ’cause he don’t know. ~HAIR–The Cowsills

English: Androgenic body hair, photograph take...

evolution…MAN or MONKEY?

I’m a pretty hairy guy (except sadly- in the last few years- for my head!)

A while back in William’s Lake, B.C., a female physician (former!) friend perused the curly dark hair sprouting over the open collar of my button-up shirt and labelled me as “The Missing Link“…ouch.

I don’t want to look like this guy in the photo. Does this man look attractive to you? If you said yes, then all I can say is…REALLY??!! I want to look and feel sturdy and mannish. And while I can appreciate a certain amount of fur on my corpus firmum, there comes a point where I scream …ENOUGH!

MANSCAPING has joined my league of masculine rituals such as the 3 S’s (SH**, Shower, and Shave). I don’t do it daily. But once a month or so I haul out the electric hair cutter gizmo and knock back the forest on my chest and back, and even a little on my legs. I’m talking trim and shorten here, not shave to the nubs. I do the legs because I like to see my great quad muscles (please read this as sarcasm!) glistening during Bike Spin Class…talk about vanity!

Of course there is true irony here. In high school, I WANTED hair- down THERE, you know what I mean- sooo badly. Changing and showering after gym class was monster torture for a late bloomer…I get nervous sweats even today thinking about it.

What really bugs me now is that here I am later in life and just learning that hair not only can grow on your head, legs, armpits, chest and groin.

It ALSO sprouts on and in your ears and in your nose. The rims of my ears grow hair. I have to shave my EARS. This is patently unfair and just one more reason that I doubt the existence of God.

Shouldn’t this be commonly shared with young men at the time of puberty? Why aren’t fathers and uncles sitting down with their young charges between hockey games- or spitting and crotch-grabbing sessions- and explaining what the future holds in store for them?

It has been traditional in earlier generations- and in some other cultures currently-  for knowledge and secrets of manhood  or womanhood to be passed on to the young by elders who had lived and experienced what it meant to be a MAN or WOMAN.

“First you shave up here, and then you wax down there!”

Women are pretty well schooled by their moms, grandmoms, sisters, aunts, etc. on what the trappings of femaledom mean. In North America, for example, women, by and large, shave their legs and armpits (I won’t dive here into bikini lines and international techniques that begin with “Brazil”). Because young girls undergo the start of menstruation, it is pretty important for them to get “the talk” from their Moms. These discussions probably get around to hairy issues like shaving and waxing at some point, don’t they?

The discussion, other than “carry protection”, never really happens for boys. Men don’t encounter a major life change in the same way that women do. Voices deepen and muscles swell. Hair bursts out on the chin and pits, chest and groin, and our hormones show us how to drive a car at high speeds when our buddies are nearby. Pretty routine stuff in the larger scheme of things.

Fathers, uncles and grandfathers are not so good at sharing the information of what it means to become a man. Jewish boys have a bar mitzvah when they turn 13, but I don’t think reading and understanding the Torah includes  tips on keeping body hair at a reasonable level. Christians have their Confirmation, Buddhists have Shinbyu, Islamists have Sehra…none of these touch on hair or manscaping.

I’m not  advocating that we men should go all Steve Carell in “The 40-Year-Old-Virgin” chest-waxing, expletive-screaming crazy over hair issues. BUT, I don’t think being macho means we have to allow ourselves to sprout out from every orifice and in all directions to look like Chia Pets. Perhaps (alright, definitely) this is all just a demonstration of my superficial nature. But, a little Bonsai-style judicious pruning makes me a happier dude, so there!

Male or Female…where’s your level of depilatory comfort…Maybe ALL. Maybe NONE?

(In 2008, I shaved my chest and had a logo painted on when I WON a bet for a Lab Congress that I was helping plan)…sorry about the gratuitous skin shot!

I Live a Whole Life Inside My Head

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Walter Mitty

(This is the 1947 film- there’s a newer version of the movie coming next year with Ben Stiller as Walter Mitty)

In Grade 9, I was in Mr. Batchelor’s English class in Ontario, where we read James Thurber’s short story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (it was made into a movie too). To this chubby, barely pubescent 14 year-old lad he was sooooo cool; the main character Walter Mitty lived a vivid and exciting imaginary life inside his head as an escape from his everyday, mundane existence. And even Mr. Batchelor was kind of a “Mitty-like” character himself- he was eccentric and also kind of groovy (that’s ’70’s speak!) in an odd sort of way. I liked him a lot!

The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreporte...

I don’t think that Walter Mitty had the same secrets in his head that Bill Clinton dreamed about!

As I age, I’m finding Walter Mitty rising to the surface in myself…I spend a lot of time inside my head daydreaming and thinking, and just generally becoming more distracted from real life. I’m not withdrawing from the world in any substantial way. It’s not an anti-social sort of event, so long as you don’t think that saying, “talk to the hand” a lot is anti-social!

It’s probably a reflection of how immensely boring I really am, but when I talk to people, I can often see their eyes glaze over. They retreat within their head to their own imaginary “Walter Mitty” world that has nothing to do with what I’m saying. Maybe they’re saving the earth from nuclear annihilation or environmental catastrophe. I can’t tell. Of course, in today’s tech-heavy world, much of what used to be internal thought and reflection has morphed into texting and online interaction that distracts folks from the here and now.

(Sometimes, the ideas flow through my head like a fountain)

We all have obstacles that surface daily and often struggle for a solution that works for us and hopefully for others too (what we like to call a win-win situation). I enjoy being on my own and just letting my thoughts flow in all directions … sometimes it’s productive or creative imagining or  “what will I do about the challenge I have to deal with tomorrow” stuff.

The subconscious is an absolutely AMAZING entity that solves problems and brings up creative ideas. I can’t count the number of times I’ve sought a fix or an idea that just won’t come to me consciously, and then, as if by magic, when I let it go and allow my subconscious to ply away in the hazy recesses of my frontal cortex, VOILA, the answer surfaces, sometimes in 5 minutes, sometimes it takes 5 days! I have great faith in the brain as a computer that works in the background even when we’re not aware.

(Just as an aside…using the term subconscious is frowned upon by the academic psychology crowd, who prefer the term unconscious. I personally prefer subconscious because unconscious implies a coma-like state to me. So bear with my use of subconscious, OK?)

But daydreams are like night dreams that you have when you’re sleeping- they dissolve quickly and can be lost forever, or at least for a long time, so I always try to write the helpful ideas and thoughts down as soon as I can. I’ve found that sending an e-mail note to myself from an iPad (iPhone or any other device would work just as well) works great day or night.

Other times, my daydreams are far more airy-fairy. I just time travel into scenes from my past and people I’ve known. Fortunately, I don’t seem to dwell on any of the negative experiences, but indulge in the fun and pleasurable moments. There’s a lot of joy for me in recounting driving my newly purchased  ’67 Rambler car when I was 16 (at least when it didn’t need repairs!), or inadvertently blocking the exits to the gym while kissing a lovely young thing at a Grade 10 dance. Being smooched on by my Aunt Nina has just a little less appeal, but it’s all part of a life, right?

I’m not completely like Walter Mitty; my daydreams don’t revolve around self-aggrandization…I don’t pilot jet fighters or do brain surgery in my imaginings…Oh alright…I might admit to sometimes seeing myself as a woman-pleasing, wonderful Latin Lover but that just might be TMI for you to handle.

(This could have been me at the Grade 10 dance…it was the only time we kissed)

I think all of us live another life inside our heads to varying degrees. It’s an escape and respite when we’re worn down and need a break. It’s a way to resolve our issues and problems that nag at us. It’s a route to accessing our inner creativity.  How much of a Walter Mitty are you and what does life look like inside your head?

(“Walter Mitty” is the ice below the surface)

I’m Dying To Get Sick Like A Woman

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I know you want The Straight Goods from me…you deserve nothing less. So here goes:

Frankly…as a man, there is probably nothing more satisfying than to hear the sound of a woman moan (perhaps for a woman it’s the sound of a baby’s coo?-I tell you, we’re from different planets!!). It’s primal, and its ego building; what could make a fella feel more satisfied than to think that his prowess can have such a profound effect on another person.

But in this case, a woman moaning is nothing to tell all the boys about in the locker room (and just for the record, I don’t think many boys really do babble about these things anyway). I’m talking about getting sick…you know, colds, flus and other things that make us feel crappy and more miserable than the day we move our clocks forward an hour.

(Please put some cyanide in the cup and let’s get it over with)

Just for comparison purposes, let’s review the “sick” differences in the sexes, shall we? These are the afflictions that prey upon women either in similar numbers or in greater predominance than men:

  • Cold
  • Flu
  • Migraine Headaches
  • Breast Cancer
  • Uterine Cancer
  • Gallstones
  • Bladder Infections
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Anxiety Disorders

And now, the list for Men:

  • Cold
  • Flu
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Cirrhosis
  • Death

Notice the length of these lists and the nasty final one for men? Yes, the woman’s list IS longer.  But the final indignity to men is that we die younger despite not being as frequently sick.

In a British study of 1000 men and 1000 women they found that:

  • Men pull an average of 140 sick days over their working life, while women call in sick 189 times.
  • 21 per cent of men and 26 per cent of women have faked an illness to take a day off work (I think this explains why Meg Ryan was so good at faking ecstasy in the movie When Harry Met Sally…more practice!)
  • 46 per cent of men and 62 per cent of women have been to the doctor in the last year.
  • In both Canada and the U.S. there is about a 4.5 year spread in life expectancy between men and women, favouring women.
Film still from the famous restaurant scene

(She can fake a lot better than he can!)

Now I MAY be exaggerating in the lists above a TINY bit for effect but it seems patently clear that if a God existed- especially if God was a Man this situation just wouldn’t be allowed to exist. But just for a moment, let’s assume that God has made this situation. Why would he/she set up a lifetime of  suffering for women – I can hear you saying, well God created MAN, and what could cause more suffering for women than this! – while giving men a pass on disease, sickness and ailments, only to strike them down unannounced in their prime? Given a choice, neither situation seems very fair.

I want to live longer…women want to be sick less…TRUE?

Granted, men do smoke more (although women are working damned hard to catch up) and they do stupid things like walk across Niagara Falls on high wires and jump over buses on motorcycles. This accounts for a certain inequality in age of death between the sexes, but doesn’t really adjust for the full difference.

Most would agree that men may not get sick as often as women but we make up for a lack of quantity of sickness with a quality of whining and moaning and exaggeration.

A woman gets a cold, she says, “Oh, I’ve just got the sniffles“. A man gets a cold and cries out, “I have pneumonia and I’m dying“.  If it’s a headache, the woman says, “Give me a couple of tylenol and I’ll be fine“…us manly types say “I think I have a migraine and it may even be a brain tumour“. When I get a cold, I put on my old Hamilton Tiger Cat shirt and ask for at least 2 extra couch days –“..more chicken soup and can you fluff my pillow again please”.

A toe tag on a toe of a dead body

Which would you prefer…a cold…OR this?

Knowing all of the info above, leads us to some obvious answers to what ails women and what kills men. It has to do with the “whine factor”. To even out the mortality charts between men and women I propose that women take up the grouse and grumble and wimp out more like their manly counterparts. This will surely knock a year or two off the female life expectancy advantage.

For my part, I don’t have the greatest longevity genes but to extend my life I’m going to try to stop whining and babying myself when I get sick. And I hope my relatives and friends will look at me suffering and just say, “Oh come on, WOMAN UP!”

50 Shades of…GREEN?

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In the name of research, I’ve just finished reading “Fifty Shades of Grey“.

Uh-huh, sure, you say…research!

FULL DISCLOSURE: For decades, men (including me) have bought/read PLAYBOY magazine, all the time insisting that it’s all about the great articles we find there. LIARS! As one man representing every other man on this earth I’m going to boldly state that men buy PLAYBOY because we like to look at pretty, naked, young ladies. We drool a bit and fantasize about what we would like to do with them or with someone who maybe resembles them in some part of our life (come on guys, you remember the waitress at that restaurant last week…the one you gave the big tip). This is news to you?…I think Not!

GREAT…there’s that article on Samuel Jackson I’ve been dying to read…

Women didn’t embrace the nude photos of hot young men in PLAYGIRL magazine in the same way that men flocked to their girly mags. Which brings me to the shock I feel about the sensation that Fifty Shades of Grey has become. I’ve always believed women fantasized in the Harlequin Romance sense of love and sex only in the sweetest and most romantic ways; daydreaming about handsome men with rippling muscles who sweep them up tenderly in their arms and occasionally whisper a naughty word to get the juices flowing. Then along comes a book like this that romanticizes BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sadism, Masochism) and becomes a mega-colossus hit.

The fact that it deals with what we might call kinky sex is fine, and I’m not surprised that it would strike a chord with a small’ish sector of society…to each his or her own, I say. BUT…Fifty Shades is selling at a faster clip than the paperback versions of any Harry Potter book released, and that was a huge phenomenon. Women are snapping it up  (or downloading onto their Kindles and Kobo’s, perhaps fearful of the world’s passing judgment on them) and passing it along to their (female) friends and relatives for a shared experience.

What’s really weird is that I can’t help substituting Tom Cruise into the role of “Dominant” Christian Grey and Katie Holmes as his “Submissive” Anastasia Steele. Maybe this is what the tabloids have been missing all along. Katie has just grown weary of her own Mission Impossible of sitting on BDSM-thrashed buttocks while Tom takes our breath away with another dazzling- might we say CREEPY– smile.

English: Cropped image of Tom Cruise and Katie...

Are we certain this isn’t Christian and Anastasia?

Ultimately, it shocks me that I got it all so wrong. We men with our walloping dollops of testosterone are expected to enjoy the heady mixture of rough, hurtful frolics with lustful fornication. Down and dirty sexual activity is an integral part of the male evolutionary climax, so to speak! If men got off on this book, it wouldn’t surprise me, although there is WAY too much dialogue and internal “female-speak” to hold the male readers’ attention.

It’s what this says to me about today’s “Womanhood” that has me worried. Do intelligent ladies really fantasize about being denigrated and dominated by a handsome behemoth, seeing this as a desirable interconnection with their men. This is not romance and lust between equals where “you can tie me up if I can tie you up” affair, it’s a one-sided version of sexual slavery combined with mental and physical abuse.

In reference to the title of this blog, I’m not GREEN with envy (I don’t think!),  I’m just GREEN with distasteful and  bilious thoughts. Why haven’t women torn into this as they have so many issues that portray them as anything less than equal?

Maybe I’m crazy and should just accept it- life is full of surprises and this one is at the top of my list right now. Have I missed the point?

(THIS kind of romance makes me feel GREEN with envy)

GAY as a 2012 HOUSEWIFE

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Psychotherapist Ernest van den Haag : “I am reminded of a colleague who reiterated “all my homosexual patients are quite sick” – to which I finally replied “so are all my heterosexual patients.” 

Say it loud, I'm straight and I'm proud

My motto in the ’70’s

Years and years ago in the mid-70’s, I was a college student and was also working part time at a well-known burger joint that employed a rhyming-named clown pitching the deliciously greasy product!

I was ambling through the local mall one day when I bumped into Brian, one of my burger-making co-workers. I really enjoyed working with Brian, he was a good guy with strong manly looks, and a great – somewhat Monty Python’ish-style – sense of humour.

I saw that he had a logo design on his T-shirt that I didn’t recognize, and so I asked him what it was about. He didn’t hesitate a second—

-Oh, THIS? This is the symbol for the Gay Association of Hamilton.

-REALLY???

Anderson Cooper Gay?  In the 70’s I would have been surprised — NOT now!

I swallowed just a wee bit of vomit in my mouth as I took in what he just told me! I’m sure my face turned a dozen shades of red as I tried in a panic-filled moment to try to respond. Until this moment in my life, homosexuals were something that I considered a weird, fringe element that was occupied by a teensy  tiny portion of the population. The few homosexuals that I figured existed were easily recognizable by their flamboyant and ultra-feminized behaviour. LESBIANISM?…well, it just didn’t exist at all in those days!!

At high school, my male friends and I made a 4-year career of ridiculing the GAY-faggoty ones who may or may not have been truly gay. I don’t think any of us really contemplated what damage we might be doing to a fragile person dealing with what had to be an extremely difficult and traumatic time of life. For us real boys it was just good fun and a diversion from our monumental lack of success with real girls!

Brian changed my view of gay-ness forever that day when he told me about his role as President of the local chapter. Brian was a funny, masculine, smart, with-it guy… AND he was gay!  He was even the DJ at the dances put on by the group. After I got over the shock I felt when Brian “came out” to me, I never looked at or thought of homosexuals as separate – better or worse– than heterosexuals again.

But that’s just background to what I really want to discuss here.

Previously “straight” men and women are coming out to the closet in startling- to me–  numbers. The whole arena gets muddled by those who consider themselves as bi-sexual and those who come out as truly homosexual. In Canada, studies indicate that less than 5% of the population identify themselves as either homosexual or bi-sexual. Only 1 in 20?? I gotta tell you here…I’m a bi-skeptic!!

In my small sphere of contact, I’m encountering a substantial number of women, who, after marrying/partnering and having children with a male lover, decide to leave the heterosexual relationship to join in a sapphic (ie. female-female) partnering later in life. NHL hockey teams are not the only ones making big trades in the off-season…women are exercising their options and switching teams in large numbers.

Three times married actress Meredith Birney with her later-in-life partner Nancy Locke

I get the idea that homosexuality isn’t a choice…I buy into this concept. But a new reality of those who jump later in life is different, isn’t it? Is sexuality a fluid or fixed thing?

This confuses the hell out of me as I try to understand just what’s going on:

  •  Is this a person who has hidden the truth from their partner and family over years and possibly decades before making the fateful leap?
  • Is it a recent discovery and acceptance by the affected individual of their true orientation?
  •  Is it a rejection of what heterosexual relationships are about, and a statement of the profound disappointment of men as partners?

My spidey-sense tells me that there’s probably a germ of truth in each of the scenarios I’ve described above. Like so many areas of study, the more we know, the more we realize we don’t know and understand. I suspect our knowledge and ideas about sexual orientation are still in their infancy .

Do YOU get it? I think I’m going to track down my old friend Brian and have him explain all of this to me!

Can somebody help me understand this?

Grow A Pair- Can You Man Up?

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“A man is at his youngest when he thinks he is a man, not yet realizing that his actions must show it.” 
―Mary Renault

MAN-BOYS!

NO, these aren’t my testicles I’m talking about here. But hey, maybe that will make a riveting blog at a later time!

Man-boys are usually 20- or 30-something male-types whose world stopped revolving and evolving at the dawn of their pubescent years.  If evolution is supposed to improve and strengthen our species, then I have to believe that some genes have gone rogue (just like Sarah Palin) and left a hole in the world where manhood once existed. Manhood, according the Online Free Dictionary  is a “composite of qualities, such as courage, determination, and vigour, often thought to be appropriate to a man”. I would add that accepting responsibility for the health and well-being of others is also part of manhood.

English: Sarah Palin speaking at a rally in El...

Another sign of rogue genes!

I won’t put on my rose-coloured glasses and pretend that historically, men have always been strong, resourceful, hard-working, supportive, etc etc. There are examples aplenty of men who abused and neglected their wives and children, and refused to take out the trash when a Tyrannosaurus stood outside the door; but since the information age has taken hold I see a sub-section of our male society that has made slothfulness and indolence an art form of magnificent dimensions.With the existence of Nintendos and X-Boxes and Game of Thrones and World of Warcraft, a new generation of young men are bravely going off to …COUCH WARFARE!

This cabal of young men who have never lived in an era where real war consumes the affairs of our country, are losing sight of responsibility and personal motivation beyond reaching a new high score in the latest version of the latest computer game.

“BEST day ever… I reached a new level!”

The 20th century in North America was marked by huge manhood-altering events such as 2 world wars and a major economic depression. Keeping a family fed and under a warm roof meant a lot of sacrifices and hard work for both men and women.

But then in the latter part of the century, we grew much more civilized and learned to live together better in most parts of the world. Junk food chains were built as huge empires and all was going along swimmingly. We also discovered ways to maintain a decent economy that never crashed to a devastating effect. Humankind improved its lot in so many ways such as medical care, education of all citizens, and food production that living grew easier and easier day-by-day for the majority.

BOOM … a generation of new baby boomer parents came along who wanted – or at least allowed – their progeny to keep the couches of the country warm. Further, to keep them entertained and happy – and perhaps out of the way –  they were provided with big-screen TV’s, music stereos of various formats…and computers… and gaming consoles… and smartphones.

The girl children took all of these marvellous technological gifts and threw them all away except for the smartphones, which they’ve welded to their bodies so that there can never be a separation from friends day or night.

The boy children kept it all and use it all simultaneously with manning a key position on the basement or living room sofa where they can also have easy access to the Pizza Pops and hot dogs provided conveniently nearby by their parents. From their central position, the young boys are growing into Man-Boys with healthy growths of unshaven facial hair and backwards baseball caps.

Occasionally these Man-Boys are seduced out into the world to interact with the fairer sex and some even manage to charm their way onto the couches of the young beauties that so desperately want a man to love and nurture. A new existence blooms!

From the fresh vantage point of their lovely partner’s living room, they now survey a kingdom where they are the alpha-male BUT NOT the bread winner and definitely not a bring-home-the-bacon guy. It’s the young lady who comes home in the evening from her job that supports them. She does the grocery shopping. She does the cooking. She does the cleaning. And when the Man-Boy’s personal joystick helps to produce some new progeny, she also becomes the child-minder.

This is the romance I dreamed about? …

What about Man-Boy Boredom? Well…good news here because there are always new iterations and versions of computer games so the Man-Boys never grow bored of sitting and playing their video games, and they never feel the need or desire to contribute to a home and family in a meaningful way.

And perhaps most sadly, the girls who want love and stability in their lives aren’t strong enough to make a change to this situation. Responsibility and fairness between the genders is an illusion in the households of our nation. Women, wake up and stop enabling your MAN-BOYS!  And MAN-BOYS …grow a pair and man up!


I’m Actually Steve Carell…or…Joy and Misery Live Within Us

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There’s a depth and pathos to Steve Carell that is inside me…he just happens to be a LOT funnier than I am! Just saw the movie called Seeking A Friend For the End of the World with Carell and Keira Knightley. And I loved it!

Steve Carell

This is actually ME!

I had read the reviews. Some loved, some hated it…but I see a lot of wit and wisdom just short of When Harry Met Sally. I’m a not-so-closeted Chick Flick lover, and this is near the top of my list. Comedy and drama and emotional heartstring-pulling are hard to pull off in one package. While the movie isn’t outrageously funny, it has some nice and often darkly humorous ideas…see William Petersen (from old CSI days) get merrily sent on his way with a totally surprising bullet to the throat from a self-paid suicide-assisting assassin…strangely, this really qualifies as humour in the situation.

Steve Carell is one interesting dude. First coming to know him as a bumbling jerk in The Office, I would think that he had the emotional and dramatic depth of Jim Carrey (NOTE to Jim Carrey- this is NOT a compliment). But you know, after seeing him in a number of movies that bring up a serious note in his personality…think, “Dan in Real Life”, “Crazy, Stupid Love”…I regard him as a full-fledged human male-animal with emotional range that makes you laugh and cry at the same time…sort of  melancholy mixed with a smile...

The evolution of his character Dodge from depressed, bland, and rejected, to caring, calm and quietly content in the movie was nuanced and uplifting. Both Carell and Knightley speak more with their eyes in this flick than with the dialogue…the acting by Knightley is particularly impressive, and I love that her imperfect British teeth just make her a more wholly real character.

Seeking a Friend…” reminds me that life is joyful AND miserable– sometimes they strike separately at different times, and sometimes they co-exist in our lives simultaneously.

I’ll find myself jubilant over high school and university graduations, festive marriages, successful business ventures, sports achievements, Victoria’s Secret ads on TV, photos of me with a full head of dark hair.  These fill me with a welling-up of happy, warm feelings.

Victoria's Secret Black Friday at Westfield Sa...

The source of happiness and warm, fuzzy feelings …

I also have tragic and sad things that encircle me: news of cancers, unexpected deaths, family breakups, kids with handicaps, my fat-man jeans won’t come together to do up anymore, I laugh so hard that peanut butter oozes out my nose. All sad and woeful occurrences.

Joy and Misery– how do we live our lives without becoming swallowed up by “Bi-Polar’Ness” or just allowing the sad events to overwhelm and colour the hours and days of our existence? With a 50-50 mix of good and bad, how is it that we can keep the good near the forefront and minimize the pain that must intrude on any life, without the use of mind-altering pharmaceuticals?

Here’s a short list of a few things that work for me although I admit I’m a work-in-progress and find myself wallowing in self-pity occasionally, but I try to stay out of the murky swamp of anguish and pessimism.

1. Avoid as much as possible the daily HARD news of TV and newspapers. Our news media is an amazing organization, but its prime focus and raison d’être is to take the mundane and often-times boring realities of life and make it “newsworthy” and “dramatic”. If it bleeds, it leads is a wonderful way to sell your product and get additional viewers, but absorbing the news about tears and heartbreak is a sure-fire way of holding a gun of despair to your head every day. SOFT news about puppies and Tom Cruise’s latest divorce, while read in the supermarket line is probably OK in small amounts!

2. Ignore/avoid people who want to bring you down or make you unhappy. There are some “Debbie-Downer” folks out there who are determined to find a black lining in every bright cloud. If you don’t absolutely have to spend time with these sad sacks (totally ignoring your boss won’t improve your chances for raises!), then don’t …when you get in the mud with a pig, you get dirty and the pig gets happy. Stay out of the mud and find some positive, upbeat, happy souls to play and work with…there are lots of them out there. If you have a hard time locating some, drop in to a neighbourhood childcare centre and spend an hour with some kids (NOTE: Pedophiles, please ignore this point!), count how many times you’ll laugh over the hour.

3. The amazing philosopher Woody Allen said, “Most of the time I don’t have much fun. The rest of the time I don’t have any fun at all” and also, “Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering – and it’s all over much too soon.” Fun and new experiences get and keep us charged up and enthusiastic…so I try not to say NO to new experiences, although Bungee Jumping will never make it onto my “Bucket List”…even I have limits! Study a new language, try a new sport, experiment with a new sex position from the Kama Sutra. The stimulation of the new …”renews”.

Look…this is just ONE idea!!

Steve Carell aka Michael Scott: “Everyone said to Vincent van Gogh, “You can’t be a great painter, you only have one ear.” And you know what he said? “I can’t hear you.”  I say stupid things all the time (occasionally on purpose, but more typically, it’s just me), just like Michael Scott. I can hear myself saying this, trying to look bright and impress those around me…but actually, I’m just Steve Carell looking for a way to extract some brief joy from life’s haystack of happy and sad moments.