This week is Bike to Work Week in Washington, D.C., which is a perfect opportunity to point out why the vast majority of bikers are huge jerks who ruin the road for the rest of us. I’m not saying they’re jerks all the time; just when they’re on their bikes. Kind of like how someone turns into a Mr Hyde version of himself when he climbs into a Prius.
I’m not even saying all bikers are this awful. Just most of them. Enough of them to give bikers a bad rep, even when some of us actually try to be considerate, safe, and respectful. So this Bike to Work Week, please do bike to work — just don’t be a jerk about it.
5. Biking on the road, without following the rules of the road
You know what I’m talking about — the bikers who use the bike lane or actually drive in the traffic lanes, but breeze through stop signs without pause, creep past red lights, cross lanes when they turn, and generally act like the rest of traffic should bend around them. This is incredibly unsafe — for bikers, drivers, and pedestrians. As someone who walks to work every day here in D.C., I could count on two hands (and a few toes) the number of times I’ve nearly been run down by a bike that had no intention of stopping for a red. Hills are no excuse. If your brakes are too poor to come to a full stop when you’re pointing downhill — or your legs are too weak to stop then start again while climbing uphill — then you shouldn’t be biking on the road. Get in shape, get a tune-up, and come back when you’re ready to bike safely.
In the coming years my friend Walter Hudson is going to emerge as one of his generation’s most effective, engaging voices fighting on behalf of freedom and American values. It’s been a great joy to work with Walter and see him continue to explore a variety of different subjects and styles. He’s proven himself as one of my most reliable regular writers, turning in polished, well-thought pieces each week that challenge and entertain. I’m convinced that someday everyone else will come to the conclusion that I have: he’s his generation’s equivalent of Dennis Prager — a welcoming, accessible, but still challenging, honest voice, capable of changing hearts and minds simultaneously. And he’s a Tea Party activist out in the grassroots doing work in his own state and community.
I’ll highlight some of Walter’s most engaging articles in several free miniature e-book collections here at PJ Lifestyle in the future. So far, I plan to bring together some of his writings on video games, race, Good and Evil, popular culture and the joys of capitalism. But first, I would like to begin showcasing Walter’s talent with this collection of four articles he wrote during February on a mission that he and I both fight together, the attempt to reconcile two warring philosophies and their activist movements: the Judeo-Christian tradition and Ayn Rand’s Objectivism. The battle between secular radicals and religious fundamentalists is a false one. We can be both Bible-based people of faith and reason minded, science enthusiasts. Walter makes the case in an invigorating, compelling way and I invite everyone to dive in to his engaging arguments.
Below you can click to see the original articles and the spirited debate they produced or jump to the articles in this collection. The pieces in this compilation feature new editorial afterwords by me.
- David Swindle, PJ Lifestyle Editor
First published February 7, 2013:
Objectivst philosopher Andrew Bernstein debates Judeo-Christian apologist Dinesh D’Souza. Click here to start at the beginning of the series on page 2.
First published February 14, 2013:
Objectivist philosopher Andrew Bernstein accused Christianity of rejecting reason in his recent debate with apologist Dinesh D’Souza. Click to jump to part 2 on page 8.
First published February 21, 2013:
As a dialogue begins between advocates of Ayn Rand’s objectivist philosophy and professing Christians, it’s vitally important to clarify terms. Click here to jump to part 3 on page 14.
First published: February 28, 2013:
Adherents of Ayn Rand and followers of Jesus Christ must set aside differences to secure individual rights. Click here to jump to the conclusion on page 21.
Last time around, I started quite a conversation about the merits, or lack thereof, of Pink Floyd and Bob Marley.
Now we’re dispatching three additional sacred musical cows to the slaughterhouse:
#3: Stevie Wonder
At the risk of wandering into Elvis Costello territory — yes, he really did say this — I’m gonna come right out with it:
If Stevie Wonder wasn’t black and blind, there’s no way he’d be as highly esteemed as he is.
A white guy who named himself “Wonder” would never hear the end of it. Instead, we never hear the end of Stevie’s songs, especially on American Idol.
OK, so that’s not his fault, but you know what is?
Besides The Secret Life of Plants and “I Just Called To Say I Love You” and “Ebony and Ivory”?
The song below.
I’m indebted to David Stubbs for putting my incoherent dislike of Songs in the Key of Life into words:
“Isn’t She Lovely” transcribes to vinyl every last icky-cooing dollop of sentimental gloop to which once-sentient adults are reduced when they have babies and, true to the album’s form, lasts longer than purgatory. Several minutes into this, with no light at the end of the tunnel of choruses, King Herod seems like one of the Bible’s more engaging and reasonable characters. “I Wish” contains the most ridiculously misty-eyed and excruciatingly doggerel-ridden reminiscence on childhood.
So, you want to pitch a TV show – a sitcom no less! Or maybe you’re just an armchair TV enthusiast, a mental writer playing out episodes of the ideal sitcom in your head. Whether your concept is ideal or idyllic, if you want to get it off the ground, you need to get your head out of the clouds and start viewing your human reality in terms of numbers – good numbers. Take a tip from Seth MacFarlane: Be sure to include an African American, a disabled character, and an Asian Reporter if you want to stand a chance in TV land.
In other words, start counting your minorities.
It’s all in the spirit of being fair that we view people based on their color, class, gender, or physical ability. Not only is it fair, it is super easy to follow the 4-step program for crafting your perfectly pitch-able TV sitcom.
So, get out your calculators and get ready for a math lesson in how to write a situation comedy for television!
1. Belief in God Is Logical. God’s Fingerprints Cover the Universe. It Is Irrational to Believe That the Universe Was Created Out of Nothingness.
Dear [Insert Name of Your Secularist Friend or Family Member Who Does Not Understand Why You No Longer Share Their Hatred of Traditional Religion Anymore],
It seems like our arguments on Facebook and over email have been increasing lately with all the horrific news stories. And again you continue to misunderstand why I approach the stories of the day from Kermit Gosnell to the Boston Bombers with a good and evil, Bible-based perspective.
One of the best places online you can go to better understand my approach to these issues is Prager University. Every month they release two five-minute courses designed to educate people in a quick, entertaining way about history, philosophy, religion, and politics. I discovered Prager University’s videos when I noticed that they decided to start featuring every new one at PJ Lifestyle, a publication that I enjoy reading which shares the same goals of reaching out and engaging with the culture at large instead of just preaching to the choir.
I’ve collected six of Prager University’s videos on God and religion, starting with their newest one above that they just released yesterday featuring Boston College philosophy professor Peter Kreeft answering the question “God or Atheism — Which is More Rational?” I hope if you want to understand better how it is that I’ve come to reject your ideology and returned to faith in the God of the Bible you would consider these videos along with these six points I’ve written in relation to them.
Throughout this series I’ve questioned where the line is drawn between reflecting and affecting when it comes to the media’s relationship with real life. Either way, the determining factor is relatability. You aren’t going to imitate something unless you can relate to it, and if you can’t relate to a show, chances are it isn’t anywhere near a reflection of who you are.
So, in the interest of all things entertainment, let’s take a simple quiz to determine your relatability factor when it comes to the portrayal of “traditional family” on television using two popular prime-time family-themed shows: Family Guy and The Middle.
Family Guy: The show is apathetic, even nihilistic at times, mocks the same politically correct values it thrives on, and typifies men and women in terms taught best in Gender Studies 101. The Middle is one of a handful of shows to make it to the air that depicted exactly what its title intimated: a middle -lass, middle-of-the-road family living in the middle of nowhere, America. As working middle class as the Griffins, the Hecks are a family of five that mirrors the demographics of the Quahog clan: father, mother, two sons with a daughter in the middle.
So, what’s your relatability factor? And how does your relatability compare with the ratings? Take this simple five-question quiz to find out!
Poor Seth MacFarlane. The guy sings one song about boobs and suddenly he’s #1 on the Hates Women List with a Steinem next to his name. (That means if they capture him, she gets to rag on him incessantly. Who wouldn’t want a bullet after that?)
It’d be too easy to join the chorus singing, “MacFarlane hates women.” As a woman, I despise the cop-outs women often take, chiding every man as being both the desired master of her universe and the despised crafter of her fate. If we really believe in Girl Power, what’s our responsibility in all of this? Are we allowing the fate scripted by guys like MacFarlane to come true?
It took about 10 minutes to pull video for the following five most common stereotypes about women portrayed in Family Guy. The sad news is that it took about 15 to pull five examples of the same behavior from the most popular Girl Power reality television show out there: The Kardashians. Praised by some feminists as career women comfortable in their own skin, it has been observed that “50 years ago, the Kardashians could never live the way they do. It’s all thanks to the Feminist movement that they are who they are – and they embrace every benefit from it fully.”
So, culture judges that you are, tell me: Is the evidence compelling? Is MacFarlane a He-Man Woman Hater, or do the Kardashians prove that girls finally busted through the glass ceiling in the tree house and joined the club?
Watch out, ladies in the dating world: Family Guy’s prized demographic is totally Petarded.
According to the show’s creator, Family Guy’s target audience is men ages 18-34. This happens to be one of the most desirable demographics for advertisers and women looking to eventually get married and settle down.
Who hasn’t dreamed of a life with Peter Griffin?
Obviously, not all men between the ages of 18 and 34 are going to find the humor of Family Guy appealing. Yet a growing majority of them do. I long ago learned as a woman not to attempt to comment on the male psyche; why these men find Family Guy so appealing is not in my realm of interest. However, the message Family Guy sends about masculinity is so apparent that I can’t help but laugh at this not-so-subtle irony: Most women looking for men, the ladies trolling the clubs and hitting Happy Hours at the bars, are the ones who tend to stereotype men exactly the way they are portrayed on the show.
Part 1 of a 4 Part series Deconstructing Family Guy
When Seth MacFarlane sang about boobs at the Oscars, I’m pretty sure he was referring to his own fans.
Most of the time it is taken for granted that we recognize the latent moronic nature of most television programming today.
Then again, do we?
If we agreed as a culture that television programming like Family Guy is so moronic, why would a collective cheer rise up at the sight of another Emmy win? Would we be told by media commentary royalty to worship Seth MacFarlane, the show’s creator, as fascinating? Not only does the guy have mega street cred in the pop culture universe, the primetime structure he’s so wholeheartedly mocked is singing his praises. In fact, it could be said that Family Guy’s seemingly counterculture humor has been legalized by the mainstream.
What’s more, like a bad addiction, Family Guy is the drug that has turned a generation of Boob-Tube addicts into junkies. So, what are the signs, Doctor? How do you know when a co-worker, a friend, even a loved one has become a total Boob? Let’s play MediaMD as we examine the 5 most common side effects of watching Family Guy.
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
I used to hate politics. Then I met Ann Coulter.
In case you haven’t seen PCU, allow me to explain: I am only one of many in my generation who grew into adulthood harboring a strong desire to avoid all forms of political discussion. For many of us growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, the deafening liberal attacks coming across cable news, talk radio, and then the internet defined politics as a source of talking-head tsuris and therefore best avoided at all costs.
The unavoidable reality hit when I enrolled in grad school and promptly learned the phrase: “Everything is political.” And that was before I got the chance to interview the prospective film studies professor who declared himself a communist without blinking an eye.
Critical theory, my chosen area of study, comes in many forms. The most memorable (and popular) being a series of schools based on race/ethnicity/gender/sexual demarcations that could easily be classified under the heading “White Men Are Coming To Get You Studies.” All theories are taught under the general pseudo-philosophical guideline of postmodernism. I could spend entire articles trying to explain that one. Instead, I’ll just let this handy little comic do it for me.
Nothing I learned made sense yet all of it was accepted as holy. Any time I would question these ideas I would receive furrowed brows, gobsmacked expressions, or simply be told in so many words that I just “didn’t get it.” These reactions probably wouldn’t have bothered me so much except for the fact that they were coming from the professor who would sign off on my thesis, providing me with the paperwork I needed to graduate and get the hell out of Dodge.
Hell. I was in hell. Instead of being taught how to think, I was paying to be told what to think. Waiting in the airport for my flight back to campus after winter break, I contemplated throwing in the towel. And then, I heard an angel’s voice and a bright light beckoned me to the bookstore in the terminal…
Okay, not totally. But I do know for a fact that finding Ann Coulter’s Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right on my way to the plane was a divine appointment. Three hours later I landed on solid ground and felt my feet beneath me for the first time in 18 months. Finally, someone was making sense.
Perhaps if conservatives had had total control over every major means of news dissemination for a quarter century, they would have forgotten how to debate, too, and would just call liberals stupid and mean.
Ann waited until page 2 to verbalize the crux of the problem I’d been facing: This liberal professor had total control and, therefore, could demean and dismiss me whenever he liked.
Or so he thought and so did I, until I met Ann Coulter.
Action movies are just as American as motherhood, apple pie, and capitalism. Movies like Unforgiven, Gladiator, Rooster Cogburn, Conan, Dirty Harry, Die Hard, The Dark Knight, High Noon, Man on Fire, Red Dawn, Tombstone, and True Grit speak to men in a primal language that transcends the story line on the screen. Men like these films because they capture qualities we’d like to think we have ourselves. We like the idea of being billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne and fighting crime in our spare time, pointing a gun at a punk and asking him if he feels lucky, or responding to the question, “What is best in life?” with “To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women!“ While there are dozens of deserving action movies, there are seven that are particularly good at revealing parts of the male psyche.
1) First Blood
John Rambo is a damaged character. His fighting in Vietnam left him with mental problems, made him ill-equipped to fit into society, and led to him ultimately having a difficult and lonely existence. However, there are two things about him that make the character click with men. The first is this:
Teasle: Are you telling me that 200 men against your boy is a no-win situation for us?
Trautman: You send that many, don’t forget one thing.
Trautman: A good supply of body bags.
Rambo doesn’t pick the fight, but when he is backed up against a wall, he is a one-man army. This theme is repeated over and over in action movies because it’s something men aspire to all the way down in their souls.
The other, more subtle thing that makes Rambo appealing is that he shares a grievance that most men have on some level or another: his sacrifices are largely unappreciated. He went through hell to do what had to be done, paid a terrible price for it, saw his suffering shrugged off by men unfit to say his name, and was left holding the bag. There are millions of men who feel the exact same way. They’ve provided, they’ve struggled, they’ve done things they didn’t want to do for other people, and, ultimately, they found that it wasn’t valued. That makes it easy to relate to a character like Rambo, even if you’re not planning to shoot at anybody with a machine gun.
Are cats really the Honey Boo Boo of the animal world? No, Honey Boo Boo is the Honey Boo Boo of the animal world, while cats are more like the Lindsay Lohan of the animal world — difficult, unpredictable, hard to like, and probably high on catnip. Oh, cats look cute when they’re in the bobblehead kitten stage or swatting away at yarn, but as you get to know the little beasts, you start to realize that they’re merely trying to lull you into complacency so they can steal your breath after you fall asleep. An old wives’ tale? Well, is it just an old wives’ tale that if a cop beats a hippy with his nightstick then he’ll have good luck for seven years? I think not. On the other hand, dogs are superior to cats in every way and if you don’t agree, well then, good luck with your empty life without a soul.
1) Dogs are much smarter than cats.
Can you teach a cat to sit? To roll over? To come when it’s called? No, because cats are stupid. Granted, dogs are stupid, too, but they’re probably on the same level as your two year old. A cat is closer in intelligence to a geranium — if a geranium had claws and a certain feral cunning it could use to track, torment, and kill smaller plants for its own amusement. Is that what you’d want for a plant you loved? To be at the mercy of a hateful geranium? You cat people are just sick! Sick!
It’s no secret that there are guys out there who get on everyone’s nerves — the male feminists, the bronies, and dudes who need to pull their pants up. But don’t get too high and mighty, ladies, because no matter how much perfume some of you put on, your crap still stinks, too.
1) The No-Drama Mama
Whenever a woman announces that “she doesn’t do drama,” start slowly backing away to avoid being caught in the planet-sized gravity field of drama that surrounds her. It’s like telling the room “I don’t kick puppies” or “I don’t shake babies” out of the blue. Shouldn’t that go without saying? Would you let a person with a “I don’t drop kittens off the roof” shirt on near a tall building with your kittens? No, because you don’t want your kitty cats splattering on the cement while she points to her shirt and proclaims her innocence. If you want to avoid all hell from breaking loose around you on a regular basis, apply the same principle to the No-Drama Mamas.
1) “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” — Muhammad Ali
2) “Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself – and be lenient to everybody else.” — Henry Ward Beecher
3) “Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” — Winston Churchill
4) “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not: Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” — Calvin Coolidge
5) “The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.” — Chuck Palahniuk
Do you ever look at another human being and just want to say, “Stop it!” — except, before the words leave your mouth, you realize that what you really want the person to do is to stop being himself? Asking a complete ass to stop annoying you is like asking a bird not to chirp or a fish not to swim. No matter how much you try to wish it away, it’s just what he’s chosen to be.
1) The Male Feminist
Maybe no one has informed you of this, but you are a dude. A man is not supposed to be a neutered, pansy-ass, emasculated weenie who trashes his own sex and spouts off lines Gloria Steinem didn’t even really believe when she first said them. Are guys like this trying to impress chicks? Were they brainwashed in a women’s studies class in college? Are they just uncomfortable with the fact that they have a penis? Whatever the case may be, these losers are so irritating that you get the feeling that even most liberal feminists have to choke back the intrinsic revulsion that they feel for these Nancy Boys.
Recently a former college roommate of my husband’s requested that once again I write about classic rock music; so Bob Z. from Pittsburgh, PA this column is for you!
Like many of my past classic rock pieces this one is meant to foster group discussion at social gatherings or stimulate some “deep” personal thinking after imbibing an adult beverage or two.
And nothing stimulates deep personal thinking more than the question: What are your top 10 favorite Beatles songs?
Before I reveal my list, I can almost hear my Father saying, “The Beatles are just a passing fad.” That was his response in 1964 after watching them perform on the Ed Sullivan Show, reflecting an opinion commonly held by many parents at the time.
Except that “passing fad” dramatically affected culture, helped impact world events and changed music forever, along with the hearts, minds and souls of every baby boomer born in the first wave from 1946 to 1955.
So with all that in mind, here are my top 10 favorite Beatles songs.
This song is so hauntingly beautiful that 45 years later, it sounds as fresh and vibrant as it did when it first appeared on the “White Album.”
Below is George Harrison singing a post-Beatles acoustic version.
A perfect song for remembering or honoring someone you love, and often heard at funerals or “life celebrations.”
In my opinion, In My Life does not receive the accolades it deserves as one of the Beatles most melodic and meaningful songs.
Today, Come Together sounds as bizarre and beautiful as it did when I first heard it at age 14.
4. Back in the U.S.S.R. - Paul McCartney, 1968 – The Beatles “White Album”
How can anyone sit still while listening to this song?
But most important the song reminds us of the Beatles’ role in hastening the demise of Soviet communism.
5. I Want You (She’s So Heavy) - John Lennon, 1969 - Abbey Road
This was another Beatles breakthrough song that sounded like no other in 1969 and I chronicled the experience of hearing it for the first time in this Classic Rock series.
6. Here Comes the Sun - George Harrison, 1969 – Abbey Road
Such a happy song of hope! It is nearly impossible not to be uplifted after hearing it.
7. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) - Lennon/McCartney, 1965 – Rubber Soul
Another groundbreaking song known for the first time a sitar was used by a rock band.
I always loved the main guitar riff along with the catchy tune.
9. Paperback Writer - Lennon/McCartney, 1966 - (Released only as a single but later appeared on several Beatles compilation albums.)
Such an engaging song with an unforgettable guitar riff that hooked the 11-year-old me onto music that eventually evolved into “heavy metal,” explaining my love for Led Zeppelin.
An overlooked Beatles masterpiece that never got the attention it deserved because many of their greatest songs were released around this same time.
So what’s on your list?
Every aging baby boomer has many favorite Beatles songs, but now it’s time to commit to naming your top 10.
Making this task easier, I have provided a list of all the Beatles songs ever recorded. Then, if you were in the “3rd reading group” and need even further assistance, here is Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs.
Go get started now so we can have some fun reading each others’ lists, while at the same time stimulate your brain with some “deep personal thinking.”
It is amazing how 48 years later this “passing fad” still continues to entertain and has stood the test of time.
Related on Rock ‘n’ Roll at PJ Lifestyle:
1) Body Language Is Crucial.
Ever heard someone say, “Ninety-three percent of all human communication is nonverbal“? That’s a mangled attempt to explain a study done by Albert Mehrabian back in 1967, and while it’s not true, dogs show that it’s not all that far off the mark. Dogs, which are actually below Honey Boo Boo on the brains scale, manage to effectively communicate with us and each other without ever saying a word. They can also interpret tone freakishly well. If you don’t believe that, after your dog gets sick and poops in the house, say “Who did this?” in a deep voice and he’ll put his head down, and slink into a corner looking as guilty as if he were personally responsible for Old Yeller getting rabies.
This is why you should try to keep a nice, even tone to your voice. When you walk, throw your chest out, because it tends to line your posture up correctly. Keep your head up, move deliberately, spread your body out, and don’t overreact physically to stimulus. On some level, people pay just as much attention to tone and body language as dogs even if they don’t hump your leg to let you know they’re interested in getting to know you better.
Thanks to pick-up artists who’re convincing men that women love jerks, being a jerk is back in. Of course, maybe we should be pointing the finger at the women who really do like jerks instead of the guys in goggles and top hats who point it out? On the other hand, given that gossip mags do nothing but breathlessly report on celebrities acting like jerks and ordinary jerks are being given their own reality shows left and right to showcase their “jerkiness,” maybe they’re to blame? Could the increase in jerkiliciousness even be just a general degeneration of manners caused by South Park, the Internet & the existence of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo?
Whatever the case may be, jerks tend to be a lot more tolerable in theory than in practice. Not only does their personality make them fail, it makes you want to see them fail. Of course, not every jerk is doing it on purpose or is completely irredeemable. Sometimes, you may act like a jerk without realizing it, which is why it should make you a little bit nervous if you sound like this….
5. Arrogance: I can top that!
Forget about having a healthy ego and ante up a little Kanye-West-style bluster. Show off, brag, dominate the conversation, grab the mike to express your displeasure at an awards show because you disagree with the judges’ choice. It’s all about you, after all. These peons you’re talking at? They’re lucky to be standing near someone like you and they need to be made aware of it. Whatever they do, you can do better, and these little people need to know what a big, big man they’re talking to right now!
Recently, I argued that we like heroines who act like men and so writers construct stories enabling women to physically compete. So what about the female characters that don’t act like men?
If writers don’t have a female character fight for herself and by herself, then we typically ignore them. Sometimes we ridicule them. If given the opportunity, we rewrite them. Then, we complain that there aren’t enough of them. There are many, and the comment thread on the last article mentioned a few. These are my favorite five.
5. Princess Buttercup, The Ignored Heroine
In The Princess Bride, Buttercup lives on a farm and falls in love with a quiet and dedicated farm boy. The boy, Wesley, goes off to seek his fortune so he may marry Buttercup, but his ship is attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts. Buttercup despairs for Wesley’s death. Years later, the prince of the land choses her as his bride. Powerless to refuse him, she agrees. Soon, Wesley returns and rescues her and the land.
Targeted by an evil prince for her beauty, but with no physical way to resist him — no superpowers — Buttercup relies on her courage and wits to keep the prince and his henchmen at bay until help arrives. With Wesley’s help she escapes and together they save the kingdom from a needless war. But she got rescued and does not physically fight. She engages in elegant verbal sparring, of which I’d provide a video clip, but I can’t find any of those scenes online. They aren’t popular enough that anyone thought to upload them. I’ve rarely seen Buttercup mentioned as a feminist favorite even though The Princess Bride‘s cult following rivals Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s. Strong-willed and spirited she might be, but she’s just not manly enough to merit much attention.
No wonder every kid grows up wanting to be a superhero. The comic books make it sound awesome: your life is exciting, you’re important, you’re famous, and being a hero is part of the description of what you do on a regular basis! It’s like being a celebrity-astronaut-Seal who can lift a car over his head. Who wouldn’t want to do that? Well, maybe YOU wouldn’t once you realized that in practice, it would be about as much fun as being Mark Sanchez’s quarterback coach.
1) It Would Be Impossible to Hide Your Secret Identity.
Most comics only make a cursory attempt to explain how superheroes could hide their identity. Superman just wore glasses. Glasses on, Clark Kent. Glasses off, “Hello, Superman!” Batman wore a mask and disguised his voice, but he was obviously an incredibly wealthy, athletic man with access to advanced technology who lived near Gotham. If you asked the Bat Computer to tell you how many people fit that description, the only answer would be, “Bruce Wayne.” Peter Parker was a photographer who, completely coincidentally, was selling pictures of Spider Man to the Daily Bugle every week. Like no one could figure that out.
It doesn’t exactly take Stephen Hawking to crack the mystery of those secret identities, and the real world is much more sophisticated. You’d have every intelligence agency on the planet trying to figure out your identity, gossip mags offering to pay millions for evidence, statistics junkies mapping every place you’d ever been, tens of thousands of bloggers and journalists trying to figure out who you are, and tens of millions of Internet junkies on fan sites spending hours every day trying to piece together who you are when they’re not writing erotic fan fiction imagining you being seduced by the evil lizard queen of Mars. Eventually, someone would snap a cell-phone picture of you coming out of your lair, some long forgotten cousin would remember you picking up a jeep when you were five, or someone would figure out who you were from the DNA on a can of Coke you drank while you were visiting orphans. Then, you’d have super-villains showing up at your house, people kidnapping everyone you ever said “hello” to in public, and even worse….
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.
I never imagined what being 40 would feel like, because it never occurred to me that I’d ever be 40. I didn’t think I wouldn’t be, mind you. It was just too boring to enter my brain, and it seemed like forever from now. — Stephanie Dolgoff
Been there, done that, got the postcard. Haven’t we all (I’m not including you whippersnappers in “all” — and P.S.: get off my lawn!)? When you’re a kid, people who are middle-aged almost seem like a different species. You’re young, energetic, and have your whole life in front of you. You’re the male lion of the human world, and they’re not the hyenas you’re going to surpass or the antelope you plan to eat; they’re more the hippos of the human world. You see them around, moving from one task to another, doing things you don’t. You don’t hate them or eat them, but you don’t want to be them either. The idea that you’ll be like that one day seems almost beyond belief.
Theoretically, you understand that it’s going to happen to you, but your brain blocks it out because it seems so far-fetched. “Me? Middle-aged? Like my parents? Well, if….oooh, I like that song. Hey, that’s shiny” and next thing you know, you’ve forgotten about it. Then one day, you wake up old. At least that’s how it happened to me.
True story: from the time I was 25-39, I FELT like I was the same age the entire time, 25. When I moved from 39 to 40, it was almost like I aged 15 years in a day. It was like I went to bed at 25 and woke up at 40.
Unsurprisingly, since I had trouble conceptualizing being middle-aged, it was hard for me to know what to expect. That made aging a wonderland of delightful surprises — if by delightful surprises, you mean taxes I didn’t realize I had to pay and bouts of bursitis in my hips.
1) Declining health: When you’re young, you can stay out all night, work all day, take a physical pounding, and still recover in a day or two. The first one, I can still do. If I have need to go three or four days in a row with minimal sleep and get up at 5 a.m. on the last day, no problem. Granted, I might lie around listening to the alarm clock for five minutes before I peel myself out of bed, but I can do it.
On the other hand, like a lot of people, I’ve accumulated a number of little minor physical problems over the years. My feet are a little too flat, and that, combined with being overweight, proved to be too much for me when I got up to jogging a mile and a half a day on the treadmill. It led to an attack of plantar fasciitis. I’ve always had a bit of a bad back, but over the last couple of years I started to develop some hip pain from spending so much time each day writing in front of a computer. Happily, I took care of that with the help of a chiropractor, but I now have to stretch a couple of times per day, not so much to improve, but just to maintain the most optimal level of health possible.
Is there anyone in the world who couldn’t see this coming? I mean, we’ve all met old people, right? We’ve seen professional athletes who’ve gotten old and noticed that they couldn’t play in the NFL anymore, haven’t we? But somehow, you never quite expect it to happen to you. You’re going to remain just as young, vital, and strong as you were at 20 forever — until you don’t and you’re left scratching your head wondering why it takes so long for your bruises to heal.
To understand evil, we must set aside the comfortable belief that we would never do anything wrong. Instead, we must begin to ask ourselves, what would it take for me to do such things? Assume that it would be possible. — Roy Baumeister
Many people consider monsters like Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin somehow uniquely evil. They imagine them as malevolent, abominable, nearly inhuman entities who spent their days scheming to inflict misery on other humans for the sheer sadistic pleasure of it.
The truth is much more terrifying: human beings as evil and ruthless as Hitler, Stalin, and Mao are so common that we pass them on the street daily, see them on TV, and may even have the misfortune of knowing them personally. The real difference between these notorious butchers and the guy in a federal prison is not so much the degree of depravity, but the unchecked power needed to make his darkest desires reality.
Once you set aside Hollywood’s caricatured portrait of evil and accept the normalcy of villainy, you see how a “normal person” just like you or me could embrace evil. Moreover, sometimes the shift from human to fiend can have murky beginnings. Some people step over a line and come back. Others follow that tragic path described by C.S. Lewis,
The safest road to Hell is the gradual one — the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.
Here, at least, are a few signposts that will alert you to stop, pause, and take stock to make sure you’re not on that gentle slope.
1) I/You vs. I/It.
We’re all sometimes guilty of treating others like objects instead of human beings with families, feelings, and dreams, just like us. Without that ability to objectify other human beings, pornography couldn’t exist. It’s also one of the reasons for Internet rudeness. When we type something cruel to janeeschmoe8765, we don’t see the crushed look on her face, watch the tears roll down her face, or know that her brother died last week so she’s feeling particularly vulnerable.
Oftentimes, the “morally challenged” among us tend to see themselves as real people, but they look at most others as “things” to be manipulated in any way that benefits them. The thief views a house the way you’d view a gold nugget you found underfoot in a stream instead of thinking about how he’s taking things that another human being may have worked for months or years to pay for. A man who tells a woman he loves her just to seduce her and then never call again only thinks of her as an object for his gratification as opposed to a person. A professional hit man looks at the targets he kills as a pay day. Ultimately, the perpetrator looks at himself as an “I” and his victim as an “it,” like a coffee maker. Few people have moral qualms about what they do to a coffee maker.