Submit your questions about friendship, relationships, careers, family, or life decisions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice, PJ Lifestyle’s new advice column!
Hello Bad Advice readers! This week I got a question that I’ve heard many times from friends, mostly Millennials, who get the classic “I’m not really standing you up because I texted you five minutes ahead of time” line from their friends. As we emerge from social hibernation this spring, take heed: all your friends are jerks. Get used to it.
Dear Bad Advice,
Have you ever had a friend that seems to always bail on plans? Not only do they bail, but do they wait to the very last possible minute to not-so-gracefully bow out?
A close friend of mine is almost ALWAYS doing this to me and it absolutely drives me nuts! Now, I hate double-standards, but are they necessary when it comes to teaching people a lesson?
Is it wrong for me to give her a taste of her own medicine a few times by doing the same exact thing she repeatedly does to me? Or, is this too childish?
I should note that I hate confrontation and yes, I admit to being a bit passive aggressive sometimes to avoid it.
- Fed Up with Being Stood Up
This is going to sound like bad advice, but stop expecting your friends to show up for things. If they don’t give a crap about you, don’t give a crap about them.
Although it was many years ago, the image of a young woman with a tear-streaked face and blank stare is forever etched into my memory. She sat in front of the television cameras, shredding a soaked tissue, telling her story. Once a happy new mother, now distraught and on trial for the death of her baby — the infant died in her arms. The cause of death was starvation and malnutrition.
The first-time mother said she loved her baby and breastfed her regularly. She cared for the child to the best of her ability. She claimed that she had no idea the newborn failed to get the nourishment she needed. Nevertheless, the baby languished in her arms until she became too weak to suckle. It was only then that help was sought.
Of course the outrage came quickly. Bony fingers of blame pointed in all directions. Some held the hospital responsible, believing the first-time mother got released too soon. No doubt a direct result, others moralized, of the cold, cost-calculating insurance companies. Always pressuring hospitals for earlier discharge of maternity patients. Others cast the blame on social services. The government let this poor young woman slip through the cracks. Over and over, the resounding cries filled the airways.
Their haughty laments over that young mother’s fate still echo in my mind: “Where were the pediatricians? Where were the lactation experts?”
The answers were never found. Perhaps because no one asked the right question.
Where was her mother?
After reading about a newly published scientific book titled The Mystery of the Shroud, which attempts to prove that the Shroud of Turin actually dates back to the time of Jesus, I planned on writing what you are about to read.
Then, an hour before my scheduled writing time, I “just happened” to notice a Facebook post that read:
Christmas was the promise — Easter is the proof.
That phrase truly resonated with me because of the word “proof.”
But do believers really have proof that Jesus was resurrected from the dead?
After twenty years of reading about and studying the Shroud of Turin (and even viewing it in 2010), I have all the “proof” I need. Although let me state emphatically that my faith — and the faith of most people who are celebrating “Resurrection Sunday” today — does not depend on any physical proof whatsoever.
For we know that Jesus is alive and His Spirit lives in us; that is all the proof we need.
Still, physical proof of Christ’s resurrection would be useful, especially when one tries to convince loved ones to believe in what more than a billion people around the world believe today.
So what if this new Shroud of Turin scientific study really does prove conclusively that the Shroud cloth dates back to the time of Jesus? Does that mean mankind finally has the proof it needs to believe that Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead after dying on the cross?
We are certainly getting close to “proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” and here are some reasons why this is happening now.
Most Overrated: The West Wing
I have to confess I didn’t watch much of this show, after the first episode featured a group of antisemitic “conservative” teachers (as though that’s a bigger problem with conservatives) and President Martin Sheen, I mean Josiah Bartlett, telling a bunch of conservative pastors (in real life, Israel’s best friends) to “get your fat asses out of my office.” That easy, clichéd slander was enough for me.
This show was constant liberal wish fulfillment throughout its run, like any production from the much-overrated Aaron Sorkin that directly deals with politics. Knock down straw men that represent liberal nightmares about conservatives, then be all self-congratulatory for taking on the “tough issues.”
In 2002, President Bartlett’s campaign was against the typical Republican candidate, a stupid, Southern right-wing governor, so it was an easy victory — despite the fact that the most recent president was someone that Hollywood considered a stupid, Southern right-wing governor. And a year after 9/11, the central issue seemed to be green energy; and, of course, liberal goodness and farsightedness won the day because the president had the good sense to embrace it.
In 2005, the show presented the “ideal” Republican candidate. The one that liberals supposedly fear the most. A pro-choice moderate played by… wait for it… Alan Alda!
His most triumphant moment is his refusal to go to a conservative mega-church and a declaration against religious tests. But, alas, he is a Republican, so of course he is most afraid of a dynamic Latino candidate on the Democrat side, the idealistic Jimmy Smits, and uses immigration as a wedge issue to hurt him in his own primary, leading to this slapdown by a close aide:
But aside from the constant liberal fantasy, there are two things that anyone who has ever worked for — or even with — government has to find laughable. First, the idea that government at any level doesn’t move with the speed of a glacier.
And second — adding to the ponderous pretentiousness of the show — did the White House not pay its light bill? The noirish atmosphere may be dramatic, but government buildings are anything but dimly lit, and their favorite type of lighting tends to be fluorescent.
During the run of The West Wing, every successful Republican for president in a generation had run as a conservative, while every successful Democrat had run disguised as a moderate. Of course, 2012 changed all that…
GRADE: The Show Overall — C, the Campaign — D
About five years ago, after my husband and I first heard Paul Wilbur perform at a messianic temple in Ft. Lauderdale, we became instant fans. Since then, we have played his CDs in our cars repeatedly.
Wilbur’s songs appeal to traditional Jews and Christians alike. He has performed in Israel on numerous occasions, and his love for that nation, coupled with his own Jewish heritage and love of Christ, is the hallmark of his music ministry, making him a unique performer.
As a result, Wilbur’s popularity as a singer, songwriter and praise/worship leader has grown tenfold around the world since we first heard him perform in a small venue.
His music resonates with me, and not just because we are both Jewish believers in Jesus Christ, but in the extraordinary way his songs fill any room (or car) with passion and love.
Now, as so often happens when I’m inspired to write something with a spiritual theme for PJ Lifestyle, a deeper dimension of the topic is revealed while I am doing “research.” (A quick Google search.)
Such was the case with Paul Wilbur. I had already decided to write about him because I thought PJ Lifestyle Sunday readers would appreciate knowing about him and hearing some of his music.
That was when I discovered, just this past December, Paul Wilbur made history as the first singer to perform at a religious concert event in Cuba with the full permission and “blessing” of the communist Cuban government.
Watch him here as he speaks about this historic trip.
His Cuban concerts were truly amazing events for this struggling nation and its oppressed people.
Perhaps, just the fact that Wilbur’s two “praise and worship” performances were even allowed to proceed, is a signal that some potentially major political, social and or spiritual changes are about to be instituted by the Cuban government.
Which begs the questions, “Is God at work in Cuba and if so, is HE using Paul Wilbur as a catalyst?”
Only time will tell, but in the meantime, check out Paul Wilbur Ministries and discover what a tour de force he has become around the world.
And, if you are ever presented with the opportunity to see him perform live, do not hesitate. Trust me when I tell you your faith walk could be impacted, even if you have little faith or none at all.
Finally, I will close with a video of Paul Wilbur performing a song that ranks high among my favorites.
Please do watch until the very end, for this song builds and soars and I predict your spirits will be uplifted right along with it.
Cheating always seems like such a black-and-white issue, doesn’t it? Of course, in one sense, it is. You cheated? Then you’re the bad guy (or girl) and your partner has every right to be upset, angry, hurt, and to never forgive you.
However, if you know a few people who cheat, you start to find out it’s not always so simple. That doesn’t mean the cheater’s justified, but it does mean he may have reasons for what he’s doing that go beyond not being able to keep it in his pants for more than five minutes at a time. The truth that no one likes to hear, especially after a person has been two-timed, is that happy, intellectually stimulated, sexually satisfied people who are deeply in love aren’t the ones who are playing around. Again, that doesn’t mean it’s okay or that the one who was cheated on is at fault, but cheating usually doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
If you know a lot of men (and women), what you’ll find is that there are a lot of common themes that come up.
1) He’s morally okay with cheating on his partner
Not everybody who cheats will cheat again, but on the other hand, the first question you should ask about whether someone will be faithful is, “Has he cheated before?” If it wasn’t so sad, it would be funny how many women have an affair with a married man and then are shocked when he later does the same thing to them. It’s not as if you have to give women hints and signs about what they need to look out for because they already know; it’s just that they believe it won’t happen to them, too.
One of the best parts of the holiday season has to be Christmas movies. There are hundreds of them and a few dozen classics among them. As a father of two, I’m always interested to see how popular films portray dads, so it makes sense to find the best papas in favorite Christmas flicks who can teach us all how to be better parents.
Let’s focus on five who would make Father Christmas proud.
5. Clark Griswold, The Do-Whatever-It-Takes Father
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is the third film in a series following the hilarious Griswolds. The family patriarch is the lovable goof Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase), whose greatest desire is for his family to have the perfect Christmas. How many dads can relate to a guy with Christmas cheer who can’t catch a break in trying to make the season bright? Clark’s frustrations abound as he just tries to give his family a “good old-fashioned family Christmas.” Clark forgets the saw when finding the perfect Christmas tree, he can’t figure out how to get his million lights to light up (been there), he can’t make annoying in-laws happy (won’t say I’ve been there), and he buys a huge gift for his family and then doesn’t receive his Christmas bonus to pay for it. He struggles and fails, but he keeps on fighting for that wonderful family Christmas.
Time rightfully put Clark in their top ten list of perfect movie dads. They praised him as the ultimate example of “determination.” He was always willing to go the extra mile to provide experiences his family would never forget.
Clark makes our list for doing whatever it takes to bring joy and special memories to his family for Christmas. Yes, he fails and sometimes fails miserably, but his heart is in the right place. While many men may ignore Christmas or leave it to others in the family, Clark takes the lead to bring his family the joys of the holiday. I can relate to that and so can countless other fathers. We are kids at heart and want our families to experience the wonders of the holiday season.
Your behavior is influenced by information that surges through three different channels — your conscious mind, your subconscious mind, and your instincts.
Your conscious mind is easy to explain. Think about how you use your conscious mind and, congratulations, you’re using your conscious mind. Now, think about what that means — and again, you’re using your conscious mind and you know you’re doing it.
Your instincts are a little trickier and many people would even categorize them as part of your subconscious mind. However, because they’re more instantaneous and easier to read, i.e. “This just doesn’t feel right” or “Something tells me that guy is lying to me,” they deserve to be treated as distinct from our conscious and unconscious mind.
That brings us to the subconscious, which is the most fascinating of the three because it so often steers us without our being able to feel its misty hand on the reins. It’s like The Matrix Revolutions except with mediocre special effects and no Keanu Reeves. One day you’re a computer programmer and the next thing you know, you’re engaged in a seemingly endless stream of philosophy class banter while you wait for your ten-minute fight scene at the end of the movie with Agent Smith, which is the only cool thing left in the atrocity you call a movie…ehr, a life.
The message: Your life doesn’t have to be as crummy as The Matrix Revolutions. You can be better than that by spotting and correcting these psychological defense mechanisms.
In C.S. Lewis’s classic The Screwtape Letters, a devil instructs his nephew to try to corrupt a man by
(aggravating) that most useful human characteristic, the horror and neglect of the obvious. You must bring him to a condition in which he can practice self-examination for an hour without discovering any of those facts about himself which are perfectly clear to anyone who has ever lived in the same house with him or worked in the same office.
Actually, it doesn’t take a devil to pull this off. Unless you have honest friends, a good psychologist, or are unusually introspective, that’s probably a good description of you as well. Taking a tough, unsparing look at yourself is painful and even scary because when you find problems, you feel compelled to change to fix them. Denial may be easy, but ultimately it’s those who know themselves best who go the farthest in life.
My new car comes equipped with a three month trial subscription to Sirius XM radio and when Patriot Channel talk gets repetitive, I occasionally switch to 60′s on Channel 6, where I know the words to every song.
So the other day I happened to hear a song which really jolted my memory bank. It was A Taste of Honey by Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass, but while listening, all I could think about was the album cover.
And if you are of a certain age, you know exactly what I mean.
In 1965 when the album, Whipped Cream and Other Delights, was released the cover was considered “veddy” racy.
And here is the hit song, A Taste of Honey from the album.
Whipped Cream was my parent’s album, but even as a Beatles loving 10-year-old I enjoyed it along with them. However, it was the cover that really made an impression. I even remember spreading whipped cream all over my arms in tribute to the girl on the cover.
This Sirius XM Radio childhood flashback got me thinking about what other album covers made lasting, even mind blowing visual impressions. So here is that small stack of album covers which came tumbling off a dusty shelf in the far reaches of my brain — presented in chronological order.
The Mamas and the Papas — If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears
In the middle of 1966 Beatlemania, this album by the Mamas and the Papas was released. To me, the music and the cover were equally impactful, for sitting in a bathtub fully dressed struck me as rather extreme. Chiefly responsible for the brain dent was Michelle Phillips, who was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen, wearing those jeans and cowboy boots. I remember getting into our dry bathtub pretending to be her. Yes, I was an impressionable pre-teen!
The Beatles — Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Of course the most famous album cover in history absorbed hours of 1967 summer time fun for me and my friends as we tried in vain to identify all the faces on the cover. Since we were stumped by so many, I remember having to ask my parents. (Oh the horror of asking your parents to explain a Beatles album cover!) But I had no choice since Google was 31 years in the future. Now, in one Google second here is the complete list. (How I love the modern age!)
Psychedelic flower power anyone? Released in November of 1967, this album cover fascinated me. On the inside I loved Cream’s music too, but something about the album design with all the fuchsia colors, totally blew my 12-year-old mind and opened doors of endless creative possibilities.
Traffic – The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
This 1971 album by Traffic was so graphically unique with its die-cut design, it truly broke new ground and decades later the title song is still one of my favorite classic rock tunes. So here is a 1972 live version to enjoy, especially if it has been awhile since you have heard Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.
We must not fret about the passing of album cover art for it now lives on the net with many sites dedicated to its greatness. There are also numerous cover art quizzes that will be used as “game time” trivia at nursing homes around 2040 when I am in my 80’s. (Now at my mother’s nursing home they play trivia contest games with Broadway show tunes and my mother is often the proud winner of a new fluffy nap blanket.)
Speaking of getting old, here is the Whipped Cream girl from that famous 1965 album cover now age 76.
So what classic rock covers blew your mind at a tender age?
And if you can recall them now, remember them for later when a new fluffy nap blanket is at stake.
Ever heard someone say, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me?” I get that on a very personal level, except in reverse, because I didn’t become a social conservative, social conservatism came toward me. Granted, many social conservatives who would be reluctant to count me amongst their ranks, and as someone who has been saying for years that I’m more socially conservative than the average person, but not an actual social conservative, I wouldn’t blame them.
After feeling guilty about stealing, I deleted my downloaded MP3 collection and bought it all from scratch legally, but it still contains everything from gangster rap to raunchy pop.
I don’t drink, smoke, do drugs, or gamble and I rarely curse, but it has nothing to do with moral concerns.
I try to be a good guy, but politics is a knife fight in a phone booth where nice guys finish last, so if need be, I can be as vicious as just about anyone you’ll run across on the Right.
Did you happen to notice there were 63 million views of this Stairway to Heaven video?
As a loyal reader of this weekly series you know, (even at my advanced age) I am not ashamed of being obsessed with Led Zeppelin, so it is no surprise that Stairway to Heaven is my favorite classic rock song of all time.
When I hear it on the car radio it still “makes me wonder” what is the force that commands me to sit in the car listening to the very end – even after I have reached my destination.
Did you know that Stairway to Heaven has even become a popular funeral song?
But do not expect to hear it played at Robert Plant’s funeral some day because apparently he “loathes” the song.
So why is this 41-year-old eight minute masterpiece with the mysterious lyrics #1 on the “greatest ever” charts?
For starters, unlike most rock songs there is no repeat chorus. Instead the song slowly climbs, like musical stairs, up to an explosive instrumental segment where Jimmy Page shows us why he is Jimmy Page. After which Robert Plant launches into his “rock god” falsetto voice and in the process releases enough raw sexual power and energy to set off a musical “orgasm.”
Maybe that is why generations of young men and women love this song. It symbolizes pure passion without any commitment!
Curious about what my contemporaries now think of Stairway to Heaven I asked two old friends, who both happen to be musically hip aging baby boomers (aging exceptionally well I might add.)
The first, a media consultant who often appears on national cable news shows responded with this pithy one line email: “Stairway to Heaven was the soundtrack to my life in high school.”
The other is a classic rock radio DJ, so I consider his comments about Stairway to Heaven to be “expert opinion.”
He emailed: “Yes, I do like it….it’s ingrained into the fabric of my life!”
Interesting how both these comments reflect a “life” impact.
Then Mr. Classic Rock DJ continues his email with this startling calculation:
I’ve been on the radio for around 34 years….and played Stairway at least once or twice a week…
Let’s look at the numbers… (This is the low ball figure)
Song is about 8 minutes long…
8 minutes times 52 weeks = 416 minutes or 6.9 Hours
6.9 hours times 34 years = 234.6 hours
234.6 hours divided by 24 hours in a day = 9.8 days
10 days of my life have been spent listening to “Stairway.”
That’s just on the air….doesn’t include the amount of times
I heard the song from 1971 (when it came out) to 1978 when
I started in radio!
My takeaway on the song…
“No matter how much opulence she displays on the planet, she still can’t buy her way into the Kingdom!”
Was that the message of Robert Plant’s infamous lyrics? For decades later questions still remain over whether Stairway to Heaven’s music and message was divinely inspired or satanic.
While contemplating heaven or hell may I suggest a nice bubbly to further stimulate the brain.
In past columns, I mentioned my fondness for Prosecco (Italian Sparking Wine) which is growing in popularity because of its light pleasing taste.
Today, I recommend a brand called LaMarca priced at $15.00 or less.
So now, with a glass of LaMarca in hand, let’s toast to the greatest classic rock song of all time and sing some familiar lyrics to which every aging baby boomer can contemplate and relate.
Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on.
And it makes me wonder.
I wonder if someone will remember to play Stairway to Heaven at my funeral many decades from now. (I hope.)
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
According to Martha Stout, in her book The Sociopath Next Door, 1 in 25 Americans is a sociopath who has no conscience. These are people who could cut your throat from ear to ear because they don’t like your haircut and then go out for dinner and dancing before drifting off to a good night’s sleep. The good news is that the vast majority of these sociopaths aren’t inclined to be violent. In fact, many of them have even gone on to enjoy long, successful careers in Congress (sadly, I’m not joking about that).
Unfortunately, this is not always the case — particularly when a child who already has those inclinations also endures horrific abuse or a serious mental illness. When you put together an inability to feel guilt with a perverse desire to inflict physical suffering, you have a lethal killing machine that is all the more dangerous because he often looks just like everyone else. Remember what neighbors and friends always seem to say about serial killers and mass murderers: “He might have been a little strange, but he was quiet and kept to himself. I never thought he’d do anything like this.”
That’s probably just what the victims of these killers thought as they wandered into the grasp of these butchers like flies caught in the web of a cold, remorseless spider. The serial killers you’re about to read about don’t necessarily have the highest body counts, but their bizarre and sadistic behavior makes them stand out even in the ranks of America’s worst murderers. (Note: What you’re about to read is genuinely disturbing and not for the faint of heart. Please don’t say that I didn’t warn you).
7. Ed Kemper
Number of Victims: 10
Fate: Life imprisonment with the possibility of parole
To get an idea of how lethal Ed Kemper is, keep in mind that he’s 6’9″ and 300 pounds. He has an IQ of 130 and has been diagnosed as a violent schizophrenic. How violent? At 13, Kemper murdered his own grandmother because he “just wanted to see what it felt like to kill Grandma“ and then he killed his grandfather because he was afraid of what his reaction would be after he discovered the murder.
Kemper was released from psychiatric care at 21, moved in with his mother, and began killing hitchhikers and engaging in necrophilia with their corpses after fights with his mother. After six murders, Kemper beat his own mother to death with a claw hammer, decapitated her, had sex with her head and then used it as a dart board. For good measure, he invited his mother’s best friend over to the house and killed her, too. Afterwards, Kemper called the police and turned himself in. Despite requesting the death penalty, which was apparently a childhood fantasy, Kemper was sentenced to life in prison.
If you ever want to start a lively conversation among aging baby boomers just ask the question, “What was your first rock concert?”
There is a definite pecking order of impressive answers.
First, is the Beatles. (I have a close friend who wins this prize.) Second, is Led Zeppelin and then there are many possible answers for third place.
For example, my husband’s first concert was The Who, an acceptable contender. Mine was Jimi Hendrix and if you continue reading you might decide to award me the bronze medal for third.
It was June of 1970, and to celebrate our graduation from Newman Junior High in Needham, Massachusetts, three girlfriends and I went to see Jimi Hendrix.
Hendrix was performing at the now iconic Boston Garden, torn down in 1997, but then the home of basketball’s Boston Celtics and hockey’s Boston Bruins.
As we left the subway station and walked towards the concert, a store with the name Now Shop caught our attention. As 15-year-olds we were attuned to all the social and cultural changes taking place, but this store actually offered us the opportunity to change our look from suburban school-girls to “now.”
Shelves were lined with everything needed to dress like a hippie. There were tie-dye shirts, headbands, sandals, peasant blouses, fringed vests, peace symbols and of course piles of love beads. We all were salivating at the merchandise and bought as much as our meager budgets would allow.
My purchases included a small suede pouch with rawhide ties and two love bead necklaces. Now that the Now Shop transformed our look and our attitude, we were ready for Jimi Hendrix.
On stage he lived up to his reputation playing all his great hits including my two favorites, Foxy Lady and Purple Haze.
Hendrix was an amazing performer, but it was the entire rock concert experience that blew me away. The smells, (you know what I mean) the energy of the crowd, and above all, the excitement of being 15 and feeling a part of something that was so hip, cool and “now.” Yes, the times were a changin’ and we were part of that change.
Just seeing Jimi Hendrix would have been memorable enough, but, as fate would have it, this Boston Garden concert on June 27, 1970 was to be his last.
Less than two months later on September 18th, Jimi Hendrix died at the age of 27 of a drug overdose.
Throughout my life I have felt an emotional connection to Jimi Hendrix since his last concert was my first. In fact, I even mentioned this concert as one of my classic rock credentials in the first installment of this silly series.
Now, what shall we drink as you listen to the actual recording of Jimi’s last concert, showcased at the top of this piece?
Since you are reading about an event that happened to me 42 years ago, that means I am old and old people must drink lots of red wine to sustain their heart health.
The cheap wine recommendation this week is Acacia Pinot Noir. The label reads: “An elegant wine with strong black cherry flavors and an unexpected hint of violet and spice that we believe conveys the essence of California Pinot Noir.”
Yea, yea, who writes this label dribble? I just like the stuff, especially when it is on sale, but can never taste the flavors the label says I am supposed to taste.
So let’s raise our glasses to the legendary music of Jimi Hendrix and a group of once “hip” 15-year-olds who wore love beads to their first rock concert that turned out to be both historic, tragic and unforgettable.
Have you ever had “just one of those days”? If you’re old enough to be reading this, then of course you have unless you are a complete oddity of life.
I recently had one of those days, and it turned out to be one of the roughest twenty four hours I’ve survived. It started off with the fruit platter I was making to take to my parent’s house. I went to the store to buy various fruit. It was pretty uneventful until trying to pick the perfect watermelon. I had everything else I needed, the watermelon was the last thing on my list. I picked up a watermelon and thumped it. Hmmmm, questionable so I returned it to the watermelon pile and picked another. I performed the thump test again and determined that this was a ripe, sweet juicy watermelon, so I placed it into the grocery cart. As I walked away from the watermelon display, the watermelons started rolling. By the time I was able to stop them, three watermelons had already crashed to the floor splattering the fruit and its juice all over the floor and all over me. My legs and feet were covered in watermelon so I couldn’t even pretend that I knew nothing about the avalanche which had just occurred. Besides, just about everybody on that side of the store had stopped and turned to look with hopes of discovering from where the ear piercing scream had come. Ugh! Caught red-footed. As the announcement came over the loud speaker “massive clean up needed in produce”, I stood there apologizing to every employee who came over to take care of that “massive clean up.”
I was finally able to leave the produce department slipping only once, hoping that no one in the check out lines would recognize me as the “watermelon lady” while wearing my oversized sunglasses. Clever, huh? I loaded the groceries into the trunk of my car, loaded myself into the driver’s seat and headed home.
Once home, I unloaded the groceries and set about making my fruit platter. As I sliced the watermelon, I could envision how beautiful this platter was going to look. The watermelon slices as flower petals, cherries, cantaloupe and kiwi placed in the centers of those flower petals to create the illusion of various flowers. Sigh. My eyes were getting watery at this picture dancing in my head… Or was it because I had just sliced my finger nearly taking off the top. Blood was running everywhere, so I guess it was a good thing that I was cutting watermelon — it wouldn’t show. I wrapped up my finger and continued working while trying to decide if I had time to get the top of my finger reattached. I figured my finger could wait until the next day and if still bleeding, I would take care of it then, maybe a little super glue. I finished my fruit platter and although it resembled melted crayon blobs more than flowers, I was happy it was done.
The next morning I awoke knowing that it was going to be a great day. Naturally I hit my wounded finger on the first thing I walked past causing the bleeding to start again. Oh well, I needed to get going and get that oh-so-beautiful platter to my parent’s home. I put the fruit into the back of my SUV and hit the road. I cranked up the music as Bob Dylan, one of my favorite songwriters, voice came through the speakers. I continued along a street which I drive daily, but I’m really not sure when that curb which juts out into the road was added. Hitting that curb not only brought me out of my reverie, but broke a tire rim along with the tire, and caused the destruction of my beautiful fruit design. Okay, maybe that looked better.
Here is an amusing classic rock tale from the musical archives of my memory bank. Warning: the beginning may sound a bit uppity, but that was our mind set at the time.
The setting is September, 1973 and I had just begun my freshman year at the massive campus of Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.
Those of you who read the first, second and third installments of this series might wonder how I ventured from Needham, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, to Ohio State. That journey was through a series of divinely-inspired events related more to the hymn, “Rock of Ages” than classic rock.
But since I came from Boston, Ohio State was like a foreign land. As a result, I became instant friends with Marian, (not her real name) one of my 10 “suite-mates,” who had just returned from living in Europe after being raised in a suburb of Philadelphia.
Marian and I took comfort in our mutual “hip-ness” compared to all those “small town Ohio girls” who had just stepped off the farm and into our dorm suite.
A week into our freshman year, while in the dining hall, Marion met an “interesting guy” named Marty (not his real name) who, she said, was “like us” (i.e., not an Ohio alien) so she invited him up to our suite.
Marty hailed from Scarsdale, New York, a tony suburb of New York City and displayed the proper amount of 1970s sophistication necessary to remain in our presence. Trying to impress, Marty bought along an album he said would “blow our minds.”
Oh yes, Marty did impress and my mind was blown as I listened to Pink Floyd’s, Dark Side of the Moon.
While writing this piece, I realized Dark Side of the Moon is the only album that triggers a memory image of precisely where I was and who I was with, upon hearing it the first time. Can anyone else relate to this?
“Middle-class society is being strained to the breaking point not, as Marx predicted, by ever-increasing misery but by ever-increasing affluence.” — Eric Hoffer
“Adversity makes men, and prosperity makes monsters.” — Victor Hugo
It goes without saying that it’s better to be rich than poor. However, that doesn’t mean that affluence doesn’t have its own perils. People instinctively recognize this on a personal level. That’s why fabulously wealthy villains are a staple of TV and movies. It’s why we mock spoiled, rich celebrities like Meghan McCain, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan. It’s why many Americans, fairly or in most cases unfairly, tend to assume that the rich don’t understand what life is like for ordinary Americans. Of course, this bring to mind the following question: Why is it that so many Americans can recognize this when they see it in front of them with individuals, but fail to see the same things happening on a national level?
1) We’re forgetting how we got rich in the first place.
America is like a family that inherited a profitable business from a rich relative. Unfortunately, only some of the family members understand how the business works, while most of the rest just see a big cash machine that’s going to keep printing out money forever. This is not how the world works with companies or with nations.
Most Americans have no clue how exceptional the nation we live in is compared to the rest of the world. Depending on which source you use, America possesses somewhere between the 6th and 8th highest per capita income of any nation in the world. The nations ahead of us are all tiny little countries that range from under 100,000 people to a population of roughly 5.5 million. (Admittedly Canada, which benefits from trade with us and having us defend them militarily, has almost caught up). These tiny countries get by on tourism, natural resources, or small, highly educated populaces, and none of them could even come close to matching the success in a nation like ours which has almost 312 million people.
This country has been such an economic success for a number of reasons, including geographic isolation from Europe during its world wars, mineral resources, a Puritan work ethic, and lack of corruption — along with small government, low taxes, minimal regulations, a comparably small social safety net, and a pro-business atmosphere. Many of the factors enabling this country to grow so successful are eroding away, year after year, and that is sapping the vitality of our economy. Our “cash machine” slows down because so many Americans have no idea how to maintain it.
As Americans become more politically polarized will we choose to patronize or avoid a store, brand, product, or restaurant based on that corporation’s political activity?
For example, if you are an active Democrat would you avoid Walmart if you knew that their corporate contributions lean towards Republicans?
You could go to Target instead, but their contributions also help fill the GOP coffers.
If this information leaves you feeling in a blue state and you want to shop that way, then head on over to COSTCO where Democrats receive 99% of all contributions.
How about if you are planning a trip to Disneyland and discovered that so far in the 2012 election cycle Disney has made $575,000 in political contributions with $411,000 or 77% going to Democrats. Would you change your travel plans?
Is it important for you to know whether the company you are supporting is an R or D before you hand them your hard earned after-tax dollars?
Besides donations, does the relationship between a company and the President of the United States affect consumer behavior?
A few years back when shopping for a new car, I refused to even consider a GM model because in no way was I was going to support “Government Motors” any more than my tax dollars already had.
It turns out I was not alone in this thinking. Recently the New York Times revealed that in the first quarter of 2012, in a survey of 30,000 Americans shopping for new vehicles, 32 percent said they would not consider a GM car because of the 2009 U.S. Government bail out.
What does the future of mankind look like? Is it bright? That’s the impression one gets from reading Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think.
The book argues that advances in technology will solve all of our problems. Food, water, energy, medicine — our capabilities have been rapidly improving on all of these fronts for decades and we’re on pace to advance even faster in coming years. In fact, according to the book, the only reason we don’t see how terrific our future will be is because of our cognitive biases towards pessimism and gloom. It notes,
…Our brain’s filtering architecture is pessimistic by design…(and) good news is drowned out, because it’s in the media’s best interest to overemphasize the bad.
Therefore we tend to ignore the advances in robotics, nanotechnology, computers, genetically engineered crops, vertical farming, cultured meats, smart grids, and innumerable other technological advances that have put us on the cusp of taking a great leap forward as a species.
This isn’t just hot air either. The book goes into detail about the extraordinary breakthroughs that we’re approaching: algae that can produce thirty times more energy than conventional biofuels per acre, computer assisted irrigation that will dramatically reduce the water usage needed for farming, autonomous cars that will reduce commute times and almost eliminate accidents, human body parts that can be grown as replacements for our worn out organs, and diagnostic advances that will allow thousands of dollars’ worth of medical tests to be done for pennies. These are exciting ideas that have the potential to uplift the lives of human beings all across the globe.
When a non-Catholic, churchgoing friend sent me this video the message said: You don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate this ad, peaking my interest.
As a person of faith here is my interpretation of the “ad” and its underlying message.
The use of fire — a biblical symbol of God’s awesome power – is a demonstration by the Almighty of His intent to destroy or conversely to show His approval of man’s behavior.
In this video God’s people, i.e. the Catholic Church (but really all believers), must triumph over the anti-biblical social policies of the Obama administration (that are ultimately more important to fix than our nation’s economic problems in the eyes of God). But this important victory will only occur if HIS people rise up and vote Obama out of office. Otherwise our nation will be consumed by the fires of hell.
The video with over 1.3 million views is starting to go viral which means its strong message and imaging will be up for much political, social and religious interpretation.
As usual, I expect the comments of PJ Media readers to be among the most insightful.
“Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning.”
It’s arguably the most famous opening line in 20th century fiction. The predicament in which Franz Kafka’s “Joseph K.” finds himself is even more chillingly relevant today than it was in 1920.
Not only was Kafka lucky enough to have died before the Holocaust he’d intuited was on the horizon, but he missed far, far lesser scourges, like internet trolls and slanderers.
If Kafka were alive and writing on the web today, he’d have dozens of online stalkers, making fun of him for living with his parents and having really big ears.
He might even be subject to “lawfare” for his “controversial” blogging.
A while back I wrote about the particular abuse women in general — and conservative women in particular — attract on the web. The good news is that there are ways to dial down this annoying din, and these methods work for everybody.
Nowhere is the “creative destruction” of the free marketplace more evident than in today’s tumultuous world of publishing.
Just as Legacy Media face mounting competition from alternative-media upstarts (like PJ Media), so do Legacy Publishers face a growing insurrection from self-publishing authors. Motivated by new profit opportunities, and employing entrepreneurial creativity and technological innovation, insurgent Davids in both media and publishing are challenging the reigns of stagnant corporate Goliaths.
I know all of this first-hand, because in recent months, I’ve become a poster boy for the revolutionary changes sweeping the world of publishing.
Here’s my story:
I’ve been a professional nonfiction writer and editor for decades. I’ve also been a life-long fan of thrillers, and I always dreamed of writing them. In fact, since 2004 I’d been mulling a vigilante crime-thriller series, featuring a mysterious crusading journalist named Dylan Hunter.
But horror stories from fellow writers made me skeptical about my prospects of working successfully with traditional publishers. Bitter personal experience underscored that conclusion. In early 2007, I was approached by a New York agent and an editor for a publisher, looking to recruit me for a nonfiction book project. I invested over a year researching and crafting the book proposal to their specifications. They finally expressed great enthusiasm for it. But when they submitted it in the spring of 2008, the publisher’s editorial committee passed on it. My agent quickly lost interest in representing me, too.
A harsh disillusionment, though hardly atypical. So I suppressed my dream of publishing novels and resigned myself to sticking with writing and editing nonfiction.
That fall, though, I lost my magazine-editor job. Though I soon received a generous private grant to write a nonfiction book, that money ran out late in 2009, long before the project was complete. Then my wife saw her own income slashed in half due to the recession.
By early 2010 we were in trouble. I was 60, unemployed, and in the worst job market since the Depression. Our income was meager, our bills daunting, our savings dwindling. We faced inevitable financial ruin and the loss of our home.
But I found one faint glimmer of hope. I’d been reading about the sudden, spectacular successes that authors like Amanda Hocking, John Locke, and Joe Konrath were having by self-publishing ebooks. After much research, I realized that “indie” publishing offered what no traditional publisher could match: immediate, guaranteed publication; total author control over content and marketing; and unsurpassed royalties.
“Write a novel” was still atop my Bucket List. I knew I’d always regret it if I died without having at least tried. And frankly, I was flat out of options. At my age, I either succeeded at self-publishing, or I became a Walmart greeter. So, despite long odds, and with my dear wife’s blessing, I decided to give it a try.
I felt like the aging Rocky Balboa, taking his one, last, desperate shot at the title.
I pulled out my old notes for the Dylan Hunter story and set a goal of finishing the book by June 5, 2011, my 62nd birthday. At 11 p.m. on June 4th, the last pages of HUNTER: A Thriller rolled out of my printer.
I’ve been a professional writer since I sold my first piece to Seventeen at age 21, on my first try.
(Take that, Sylvia Plath: she racked up about fifty rejection letters from the same magazine before breaking in.)
Since then, I’ve veered between being an on-site staff writer and a full-time freelancer, doing one or the other for about three or four years before getting bored/wanting more money/getting sick of winter commuting/spotting an ad for the full-time “dream job” I just HAD to have (for a while).
Right now, I’ve been freelancing full-time since 2008. Along with the politics and culture pieces I do for PJ Media and other online magazines, I write web copy for clients ranging from funeral homes to roofing contractors; edit and ghostwrite books, newsletters, and op-eds; and manage a few social media accounts as well.
Over the years, countless people have told me they want to be freelance writers, too. So here are some tips and home truths about the freelance writing (or freelance anything) life.
Many conversational habits can torpedo your friendships and alienate people. You can slip into them easily; next thing you know, you’re wondering why the people at work don’t want to go to lunch anymore and your buddies stopped returning your calls. Worse yet, once a bad habit becomes customary it can linger like a bad smell for years, ruining relationships and leaving otherwise wonderful people wondering why they can’t make any of their friendships work. Rather than tiptoeing around the elephant corpse rotting in the living room, now’s the time we set our sights on these killers hunting down people’s social lives
1) Bad manners: In one of my favorite scenes from Season 2 of The Walking Dead, a couple of sketchy guys try to convince Rick to take them back to his camp. After talking a bit, one of them goes over to the corner of the abandoned bar, urinates, and makes a comment about “c**ch.” After their bad manners reveal both men as trash, the boring nice guy Rick shoots both of them to death. There is a lesson here. Don’t be crude. Don’t treat maids or waiters rudely. Don’t make an ass of yourself. Because even if it’s not aimed at them this time around, other people in your presence will assume it says something about your character and think, “Next time, that might be me.”
In Jonathan Sanders’ post regarding Peter Gabriel, commenter RKae stated, “That (Scratch My Back) was one of the most boring damned albums I’ve ever heard!” Which got me to thinking – what IS the most boring album of all time? And then I went back in time, to high school years…
You rush home from the record store. Back in the safety of your bedroom sanctuary you can barely contain the excitement as you tear the cellophane wrapper off the latest album from one of your favorite artists. You pop it on the turntable (yes, ”turntable”), the needle lowers to the wax and… a half hour later you realize you’ve been ripped off for $12!
For me, the most boring album of all time is Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal? Classic.
Metal Machine Music? Crap.
It didn’t take a half hour before I wished I had my money back, it only took two minutes – because the first two minutes was the same ‘noise’ as the next two, and the next two and the whole damned record!
Listen to the clip above, if you dare.