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Want to enjoy your holiday? Take off the fault-finding goggles.

I’m going to try to quickly take you through some macro and micro views I have on why things go bad during the holidays for so many people.  Maybe you can dodge that bullet that seems to find so many people standing flat-footed when Fall finally arrives…

The why: it’s a few things.

Money seems to always be short during the holidays, because people are generally generous to those they know and love, and they want to give a lot.  But when your paycheck finds its way to cruising altitude and is barely enough to survive on, you can hardly think of how you’ll rake in more for the holidays to take care of everybody… to buy the fattest turkey, give the most gifts, or throw the grandest parties.

Not being near family can cause us to throw pity parties for ourselves.  Whether it’s our children or parents, siblings or cousins, it can make one feel ultra-alone to be regular-alone during the holiday season because there is a stronger contrast drawn between being away from family at a time of year when families typically find ways to come together.

Old family rivalries can be the worst.  They often drag out, lasting all the way up to the present and beyond, no matter how long ago they began.  It could be that you have one narrow-minded family member who is extremely racist or sexist and insists on airing his or her views right in the midst of that otherwise joyous holiday atmosphere.  Could be political discussions.  Could be that your uncle always gets sloppy-drunk and starts picking fights with his brother who seems to have taken the right path in life.  There’s no limit on how crazy or seemingly nonsensical the cause of a holiday gathering issue can be.  We are humans.

And don’t forget the weather.  Seasonal Affective Disorder is real.  Your brain works with various chemicals, and when any one or more of those chemicals aren’t just right (in quantity, quality, re-uptake rate/volume, or dispersion rate/volume) then depression is one big, bad-assed beast that you absolutely will not beat without taking action.

What to do

Money: forget about it.  You’re lucky if you want the easy way out, because right now, in this economy, there are some good reasons you can pull from popular headlines as to why you can’t buy the quality/quantity of gifts you’d like to give away, or throw the parties, or buy the fattest turkey.  But even in a glowing economy, you should never let your financial hardships weigh on you in the way that most people do, which is to imagine what others will think.  To bloody Hell with what others think.  They are NOT in your shoes, NOT living your life, and they do NOT know what you’re going through day-to-day.  It is NOT their business, and you should inform them of as much.  It is your business what you can and cannot afford to pay for, and no matter what that amount or budget turns out to be, it says nothing about you as a person.  NOTHING.  If you’re a good person, you’re a good person and those that should matter to you know it.  If you’re not, well, they’ll know that already.  Money does not fit into the equation, so let it GO. Frankly, I stay broke, and the hardest thing you can learn (but a valuable lesson indeed) is how to be broke and survive.

If you can’t be near family, see that as the gift that it is.  Somebody once said, “Give your partner the gift of letting them miss you,” (ok, that is a pop. culture quote that was almost certainly snatched and modded from a more classical, timeless quote, but it’s solid).  That gift translates into any and all that you care about, and that care about you.  By being gone, you are forcing others to miss you.  People who are missed often can take on a legendary status, even if only temporarily, among the family/friends/significant others that are missing them, especially at gatherings where you are being talked about.  Moreover, and way more importantly, each moment that a person spends missing you (and you them) anchors deeper into your mind and heart the good will and love you have for them.  When you reunite, you will have a solid, well-defined understanding of what your world is like without them, and theirs without you.  That’s golden.

Family politics can be far more daunting than anything you’ll see in public politics.  There can be deep-seated rivalries and even hatreds from one member toward another.  All you can do is make sure that you do not allow yourself to be a “host” to such insanity.  When somebody starts talking politics or religion or bashing Aunt Gloria’s creamed corn, you have the option to stay silent, excuse yourself, or counter-attack.  The only time you should ever counter-attack is if somebody has come under attack that is entirely innocent and you know it.  If it’s political, and you feel strongly, you can simply say, “I’m not going to enter this discussion because this is a (friendly, family, co-worker/business) gathering and it’s likely that people’s feathers will get ruffled, and I suggest that we toss the topic out right now and switch to something more pleasant,” or whatever line you want to prepare for just such an incident.  Keep in mind that some people actually seem to enjoy stirring up a shit-pot and then acting surprised when the shit hits the fan.  I know some of these people personally.

To battle the blues or it’s more serious cousin, depression, something as simple as standing in the sunlight for a half-hour per day can turn things around.  On a medium scale, taking some medications might put the chemicals where they should be.  If things are extremely bad for you, it may require a counseling program and a medication one-two punch.  Whatever is needed shouldn’t be a factor for you; the fact that you are broken should be the only driving factor when seeking repair.

Above all, and this applies in-general terms, do not find fault in others.  If you can only take a break from fault-finding for the holidays, you’ll notice that your happiness improves drastically,  Those finding fault have to spend an enormous amount of negative energy defending their own faults so they feel they can find the faults in others while on a pedestal.  And even those who find faults while admitting their own faults are subjecting themselves to the murky filth of negative thought.  Take a moment to realize that the person you’re finding fault with may be, on some scales, better than you.  If you had their life, their mind, and their history, you’d think EXACTLY the way they do, and just because that doesn’t groove with your way of thinking with your mind, life, and history doesn’t mean there is something wrong with them.  People are different.  A relative few are truly “bad.”  How about “forgiving” the faults of others or as I tell people; you can point out my faults to me when you have your own life perfected.  Forgive the imperfect.  In doing so, you’ll forgive yourself.

America, stop blaming your government. She’s working perfectly.

I was on the Occupy-Wall-Street-vibed bandwagon of being a hater.  Hating on my government, on Wall Street, the banks, foreign influence….  From the rise of the Tea Party to everything that followed, there has been a paralysis in our government.  What I’m going to say does not excuse the Republicans that aim to derail the current administration at any cost.  They ought to face whatever punishment we have in store for them.

But what is in store?  Just voting them out?

And on that note, I think it’s time we lay the blame for this gridlock flatly where it belongs.  It’s on us.

Maybe we aren’t a perfect union, but in building this union, some rules and principles were adhered to rather strictly; the biggest one arguably being that our government must be of, by, and for the people.  The two-letter word I want to focus on here is “by.”

We went to the voting booths (or neglected to do so) resulting in a near perfect divide in our government.  That’s By the people.  We elect representatives to represent what?  Us.  They represent the majority of the area that they represent–the majority of the people and their thoughts, beliefs, and sentiments–and the result is a government so equally divided that in this tug of war, the flag isn’t moving.  At all.  This battle was created By the people.

The government IS representative of US.  We are divided, as a people.  One man thinks that the right is catering to the rich not as a way to create jobs and have the goodies overflow in that Reaganesque trickle-down economy, but in order to maintain their money lines.  One lady thinks that the left is a socialist-communist plot to take away all of the money from the rich and distribute it to the poor and that it must be stomped out like a bad street gang.

WE are divided.  Our government is a perfect spectre of what we are at any given time; this government that was put in place By the people.  That means that about half of America is for Obama, his job bill, getting health care for all Americans and protecting social security and Medicare.  An equal amount of folks are for protecting big earners as job creators, and warding off that threat that the poor (a.k.a. those too lazy to work who want to take from them, a.k.a. the system) bringing them down.  Who’s right?  Doesn’t matter.

I believe what I believe as a moderate with a slight-leftward tilt, and who cares?  What you should care about is not only that this current government slam-dance is not of their own doing, but more importantly that we created it; not intentionally, of course, but by just voting for who we believed in, who represent what we believe in; who represent us.  We created this government, By the people.

America’s government is exactly what the people have made her, so stop blaming her and instead, ask yourself why we are so evenly divided, and how to either reach deeper understanding on both sides and the center or to jolt us one way or the other or this tank ain’t moving out of this mud-hole anytime soon.

Your Five Senses are Only the Beginning…

Sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing.  Your ancestors had none of these senses, at one time.

They developed over tens of thousands of years.  I don’t like the term “evolution,” primarily because it suggests that we are evolving toward a better end.  It’s not accurate.  We change to match environment (or die) and environment is in no way intelligently shaping us to be “better.” 

Is there a “use it or lose it” concept at work?  What if you lived in a soundless environment (humor me, don’t hang me on technicalities)?  What good would hearing be?  Our “changes” would cast out hearing.  It isn’t worthy of physical features (ears) or the brain allocated toward its function if, in fact, it serves no function.

If that’s true, then couldn’t we just as easily be introduced to new physical or electrical stimuli that require additional sensory features?  This “sixth sense” we keep hearing about; isn’t it possible that it’s just a new sense that humans are slowly developing in response to the presence of at least a suggestion (environmental) that such a sense would serve a protect-or-promote service for us?  Nature’s creatures adapt.  Slowly.

I’ve believed for a long time that we had the capacity for–even a propensity toward–developing further senses.  And not just two or three, but maybe forty or fifty more.  Maybe hundreds.  To save you some trouble, it’s almost impossible to try to imagine a sense that you currently do not have, and even harder would be to explain it if you could imagine it.  Imagine trying to explain sight to a creature that could not see (and had never seen).

It’s relatively alarming when you consider that we are only looking for things we can already sense.  Do you realize how much that leaves out?  Some of today’s scientists are starting to put it together.  With the rise of the term, “dark matter” and “dark energy,” we have, essentially, given definition to that which cannot be experienced.  That’s encouraging.  That is truly thinking outside of the box, and I think we need a lot more of that, right now, to solve/prevent problems that human beings are going through/heading toward.

One of the things that impresses me more than most other things when I’m evaluating a thinker or theorist is one’s ability to break out of the extremely limiting bondage of searching for only things that can necessarily be sensed, or even just breaking out of the typical framework of popular thought.  I feel a sort of crush on this idea; I just love thinking entirely outside of the norm.  Maybe there is an adventure to it… an Indiana Jones kind of unexplored-terrain feel, but more than that, I think it’s attractive and useful.  That’s not to say I’ve done any good with it.  I have yet to unearth any useful discoveries in my purposefully zany thought paths, but that’s not the point.  The point is that these zany paths are where the good stuff is… maybe I’ll discover something interesting to others and maybe I won’t, but I’ll most certainly be satisfied just in exploring these paths with no footsteps on them.  It’s almost a way of life.  It’s entertaining with the tease, like a lottery ticket, of a potential big payoff.

It should be no surprise that I hate cliches.

Your senses, if humans manage to survive long enough, will continue to grow if nature offers the bait to the depths of your mind that would spark such change (not to rule out the possibility that some major, sudden change in environment could make this happen much faster).  When our offspring look back, many thousands of years from now, will they wonder how we survived without (fill in the many blanks)?

Half-times in your Life: Fear Fate or Fight Ferociously?

When I played football in high school, I never really told anybody but as the coach would have us gathered ’round way off of the field in the dark by a fence that we first peed upon before gathering near to hear the goods and the bads of the first half and the plans and corrections needed for the second half, I favored… watching the band.

They were awesome.  BOOM BOOM bom bom boom bom bom boom boom boom boom… the dancing, the energy of their performance… it fired me up, even as I struggled to see them from the steam usually rising off of our heads, making a virtual fog between those placed toward the rear (facing the band) and the band itself.  But the band performed with energy… such intense and pure energy.  The whistles of the drum majors and synced movements of the flag girls.  The fanatic beat of the drums and electric charge in the air that matched perfectly with the other instruments–this made me want to go out and destroy anybody in the wrong-colored uniform, and I usually did my fair share of it.

Injuries were throbbing by this time in the game–this half-time–as we chugged on our Gatorade and nodded at our coaches as they took turns in lecture.  The muscles in our legs were begging for relief, but something coming from a greater place than just brain-chemical magickery seemed to rise up inside most of us as we went out for the second half.  This was, in essence, the “real game…” quarters three and four. This is where you can lose all greatness you had in the first half, where you can recover from any shame you had… this is where the men really were separated from the boys because endurance was not always athletic in nature–it was of the mind, heart, and will.

Today, I got to thinking about what half-time really meant for a lot of people in different circumstances.  My nature told me to believe that half-time in life (in this case, believing that I’m about halfway through or maybe even more at the age of 39) meant a few things.  First, you better be well on your way toward fulfilling your dreams, because the “real” clock starts ticking now.  Secondly, you have no more time to procrastinate or squander even if you don’t feel any needs or goals tugging at you to come toward them unless you are perfectly content to just exist (some people are, and they are ones I envy).  Finally, you are now beginning to succumb to the insurmountable forces of nature working to take you back down into the Earth.  The aches become pains, the pains become severe pains; bone is lost, muscle atrophies, testosterone levels drop, menopause, sexual desires and abilities begin to fade, weight control becomes all but impossible… oh yeah, Mother Nature is a bitch and she won’t be making any apologies for it.  She’s got to keep shit moving.  And she will.

I’ll confess that I’m getting a bit… realist/pessimist in my thinking.  Not in all areas… just that life is painful more than pleasurable, no matter how “good” it feels to be alive as compared to (“what?”).

But instead of accepting that rather bleak view I offered of what life could and possibly should be seen as as you pass through your half-time lectures, what if you chose a different view?

What did Secretariat do in the first half of his races?  Hung around in the back.  It was the second half that was his turn to whoop ass… to dig into the track with hooves of fire, not to just pass everybody… that wasn’t enough… but to blaze past them like they were standing still.

What did Muhammed Ali do in Rumble in the Jungle with a younger, stronger George Foreman during the first half of their fight?  It was in that fight that he proved in many ways, not just a few, that brains beats brawn.  Not only was he throwing right leads (a punch that has to travel further to get to an opponent, meant to embarrass that opponent if he can’t stop or duck it with the extra preparation time).  He hadn’t thrown right leads in the films Foreman’s camp studied.  He introduced a brand new strategy to the boxing world, the “Rope-a-Dope,” in which a boxer absorbs the best shots from his opponent to tire him out by simply relaxing against the ropes instead of doing the traditional “stick and move.”  That, also, was not in the films the Foreman Camp studied.  In fact, Foreman had been training in the ring by focusing, more than anything, on cutting the ring off–that is to say making it harder for a dancer like Ali to get away from him.

But all that training was for naught.  Because Ali stopped moving and lay stationary in the ropes.  George swung.  And swung.  And swung and swung again with loud thuds, being teased with the occasional left jab as he drew back.  People believed Ali was hurt and used up. 

As half-time came and went (the middle of the 8th round) and the 2nd half began, that’s when Ali began.  Stiff jabs.  Hard counter rights.  He saw that Foreman was absolute Jello, and finally just turned on the Secretariat storm of not just competing, not just winning, but winning hard.  He knocked Foreman out before the end of the round.

I’m sure you can think of 10,000 other examples of how half-times in people’s lives have not meant half-over.  They say life begins at 40.  There seems to be something to that, doesn’t there?  Are the half-times in your life as well as all of those half-time moments within your life a call to accept that the first half has decided the second half, or are they, really, whatever you decide to make them be?

You will live again. And again. And again. Like it or not.

If you’ve never seen Through the Wormhole on the Science Channel, then you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s not all geeked-out science, nor is it as grossly boring as a lecture in quantum physics. It really circles around life, and even the episodes that don’t focus on life seem to circle around discovery and how it relates to life.

In other words, it’s not all nerdy (though parts are: Dr. Michio Kaku is practically the Oriental Mr. Rogers who calls himself a conservative revolutionary… pffft) so fear not the incomprehensible depth or bore factor because neither is an issue.

There is a currently running episode or two focused on eternal life. They are truly interesting and in my usual form, I like to shop the minds of the greatest thinkers I can find to try to bring something to people that they can turn into a meal.

The theories gaining some speed seem to focus in a few different areas. In one, we manage to “upload” our brains and live that way, forever, by essentially having all of the information in our brain, including our conscious and such other intangibles, loaded into hardware. In another, we take it a step further, cloning ourselves and then downloading the mind, with all of its experiences, into the clone’s brain, becoming ourselves again, only with a young body again and a new lease on life.

A couple of others are similar to each other; in one, the eventuality of the evolution of humans leads to our descendents being interested in our “time,” and reviving it in order to learn about or experience it using their advanced technology, essentially creating a fake Earth with real people and events from the past (all of us) who, once created, never need to die again. The similar one suggests that time travel either is already occurring or will occur, and that anytime anybody “visits” a period that was during your life, you are, of course, re-animated and living again.

These are only a few that I’ve seen getting some respectable thought by thinkers among us; there are many others that are getting attention and more theories that are coming out every day. They all deserve a look, I believe, but I favor a few of these or some combination of them that makes a few things seem to be highly probable to me, and that’s what I want to share.

First, although I’m not afraid to step outside of the laws of physics or thermodynamics or any other man-made “law” or “rule,” when I propose a potential theory, I will stay within the confines of those laws for this post.

Time travel has not only been proven possible by mathematics already, but it has been proven physically (wiki is a good place to start if you wanna check those experiments out). While the science community wobbles on the legitimacy of the experiments and the research, most accept that if Einstein says something is definite, then it is at least possible and he was certain that space-time could be deformed, and if and where that happens (or when) time travel (and travel through space) will happen. I won’t get into the time/space theories I like to probe that involve various events (I have many) like the Nazi Bell (a time machine, some suggest, designed by the Nazis) showing up in Pennsylvania in 1965 having jived perfectly with Einstein’s theory–the thought that they indeed zapped from Germany in 1945 to land in PA in 1965. That’s for another post… or book… but here, we’ll look at how time travel and other theories suggested above will directly affect you, and how many days your brain will be allowed to exist, in total.

First, time travel. I say it’s coming, or it’s here. Do you? If so, this is the thing that beats me up about it: what are the chances that this moment is one you’re living for the first time? If you are re-animated every time somebody visits the present, isn’t it almost foolish to think that this just so happens to be our first time through? Mathematically, isn’t it more likely that as you are reading this, this is your 50th, 100th, 10,000th time being in this moment? If all of space-time is connected, then this applies no matter which “species” of life is using the technology, no matter how far they are away. Arguably, they may not even have to land at a time that you existed–they may only need to pass through it in order for all of the moments between their departure and arrival point to be forced to exist again. That means you are popping back to life constantly as time travelers make their ways through time to see or experience or change whatever they are trying to do such things to.

Under that theory, you do live forever, but you never realize it.

A better theory might be this (I’ll take one from above and just build on it a little): one physicist believed that eventually mankind would have evolved so far that every person and every moment will be brought back for observation… his theory was much deeper; I’m simplifying (his involved a tying in of meeting consciousness with God with all information). Here’s how it can work. Look at the growth rate of our technology. It’s fast. It’s also accelerating. The only thing that’s going to stop it is global catastrophes that take away billions of human lives and/or our ability to develop technology.

We have 4 or 5 billion years before the sun destroys our planet. We are already planning for colonizing the moon and I expect that the colonization of Mars is close behind. We will spread out. We will spread beyond our own solar system, and eventually, our galaxy. That’s really a pretty safe bet. That whole, “Don’t keep all of your eggs in one basket,” thing has people realizing it’s time to spread out just to keep our species alive. If you think about it, this isn’t a lofty goal. It’s a probability that borders on being a certainty.

So, we do.

Humans spread, and they develop, and evolutions begin “splitting.” Humans living on a moon of Saturn are going to evolve differently than those on a super-Earth with different environments, populations, and events. What that means and what is really exciting about it is that if we humans now are essentially defining ourselves as a “missing link,” that won’t, of course, be missing–we are the core species from which many other families of humans will evolve. We are going to be, as they look back in 10,000, 50,000, and 100,000 years from now, the parent species.

Before I got off into another direction, though, as I’m prone to do, let’s bring it back to how this will affect you and how long your mind gets to live, total.

You must know, just by the common expectation of eventuality, that one or more of those human-evolved branches of beings will come back. They will come back to this place and this time, and as their populations grow and grow, so too will their trips to “see” us. But what’s different about this theory is that not only will we come back to life during each visit that happens in our time period, but they will have the technology to let us know it. That will happen either by simply informing us in ways we can’t deny (showing us proof that this is not the first time we’ve been “alive at this moment”) or they’ll truly re-create us from DNA or some other science and anybody that can bring you to life using that kind of science will almost certainly have available to you the ability to visit any moments in your life however many times you want to with the clear knowledge that you are visiting a moment (or re-living it vs. just living it) in addition to that new life you’ll be living that they have given you. If you want to tie this in with religion, go ahead; my problem is that religion is too simple, so I present a theory like this to say that even if there is no religion or none prove to be accurate or true, you are going to live again and you will have the option to live forever.

That, of course, brings up that question of why you might want to live forever. In my book, The Lost Dialogues of Table 18, there is some discussion of why we might even want to consider living forever… this life, filled with more pain than pleasure. All told, though, if you can live a moment or re-live it at will, couldn’t you find pleasurable moments to live or re-live over and over, and won’t technology have come far enough to give you a way to experience pleasure constantly, even as you explore new moments in your life (micro or bio-tech that essentially gives you the effects of a great drug, constantly)? Of course that will be available.

So, here’s Kevin’s good news for you. You’re going to die, but you are going to be given life again–that I’m certain of, deep down. What I’m not certain of is whether or not you’ll realize you’re alive again. I believe it’s coming–I believe that you will know you are alive again. I believe you’ll have available to you choices on how to live those moments, through traveling to/through your past, traveling into the future, or just hanging out in the present, marveling at the choices available to you. In that, you can’t find anything but beauty.

Help Me Fight the Creepy Smile!

Know what I love about blogging? I have two issues to address in this post, but I didn’t have to burn brain wax to craft a title that would encompass them both. Easy to love that if you’re a type “B,” like me.

For some order, I’ll keep this first part true to the title.

You probably already know what I’m talking about with regard to the creepy smile. I couldn’t tell you when it started… maybe 2005ish? It’s when somebody is speaking about something that is clearly and plainly not related to something a human being would generally smile about, yet they smile anyway. Not a flashy smile. Not a simple, “I’d-like-to-make-others-smile-so-I’ll-toss-one-out-while-I’m-speaking,” smile…. no sirs and ma’ams. This smile is a deviant smile, and it is easily spotted because it begins to slowly spread across the speaker’s face, not while he’s talking about a hot date he once had or a prank he pulled on somebody, as you would expect… not when he’s about to deliver the punch line of a joke or say anything related to humor or sarcasm or anything else that can even be loosely connected to a normal human reason to smile or try to make others smile.

No, no.

These smiles begin to creep onto a face while one is talking about deep space or capital gains tax or sentences with the word “draconian.” It comes across the faces of many prominent, regularly-interviewed folks when they are talking about the most non-smile-related shi8 you can possibly think of.

What is it? It’s a sad and scary thing, all in one. It’s a major and flagrant display of confidence–one that says, “I’m so gd sure of myself and what I’m saying that I’m going to make sure that you know that I have absolutely zero reserves about saying it (see my smile starting?) and, in fact, I’m so confident that I’m going to keep it on… not a flash, no, but a 5 or 10-second face deformation that shows that I’m so comfortable in my own shoes that I can talk about the decline in urban infrastructure funding while bearing my teeth, slowly, first two, then four, then six or ten. Why am I doing that as a little personality trait deal and not just keeping a straight face until the context that would support a smile arises? Well, because I saw others do it on TV or at work, so now I do it. I do it because they do it. If they are doing it, it must be cool.”

The raw truth is that there is irony here, and I know that because I’m a bona fide irony hunter.

These people trying to show their strength are actually imitating others. They are being led by a weak and very creepy fad… a trend set by the pompous. My studies of psychology in school were not nearly enough to qualify me to explain this. Only the deepest thought in the inquisitive mind (about human nature) could bring this issue into the light as I am, and that’s not a pat on my own back–it’s an admission of an affliction. I can’t stop finding this stuff.

Help me destroy this creepy trend of the haughty and their sycophants. It’s truly disturbing–this creepy-smile deal–when you think about it. I hope.

When you’re listening to somebody speak in person and they start giving you that creepy smile at a most inappropriate time (you’ll know), simply interrupt them. I hate interrupters, but by the crack of St. Peter’s white arse, I will interrupt them when they start this smile and ask, “What is that smile for? No, you were just smiling. I don’t understand. I wasn’t smiling at you; I was just listening with a straight face, and you were telling me about how you knew your boss delegated his hardest work to you and that you knew his job better than him and that you were getting tired of doing his work on your pay, which in now way involves humor or should invoke a smile of relief or gratitude or any other kind of known smile, yet you started smiling, got this big smile on your face as you were talking. What are you smiling for? What is the cause and meaning of the smile?”

Shine the light on them.

And while we’re aiming lights around, can we focus one on anchor reporters? Well, not necessarily anchors, but the ones that are sort of shuffling the stories to and fro between field reporters?

Watch national news sometime (it happens with world and local, but especially nationally-focused news folks). You’ll have a news dealer, of sorts, bringing you 1 minute spiels from the medical guy and the weather guy and the finance girl and the fashion girl and as they give their headline for the segment and finish up, the anchor-at-hand will almost always add her little 2 cents to it, when she is not the expert. What should she do? Say, “Thank you…” and move on to the next effing line on the teleprompter. Just this morning, I saw it twice; an unnamed anchor-at-hand was talking to a doctor who was talking about disease and a new organization that had been started by a family with diseased children and as he finished by saying their new “mantra,” something like “Live for today, hope for tomorrow, and pray for a cure,” she adds in something like, “Always be thankful for your family, for the moment, and realize how bad others have it…” blah blah mc-effing blah. No, anchor-at-hand. No no. You may not teach us your morals. We just heard from somebody who went to school for eight or ten or twelve years and did all the research for this story and did the story and then delivered the family/new organization’s mantra and now you are going to to take that piece of cake, drop your two grains of unrefined sugar on top and sell it as your own? No, I do not accept your ploy. You go out in the field, you become the expert and do the research for your own stories, and I’ll be fighting the anchor-at-hand that is trying to grab your jet pack straps to sneakily rise above the fray with you to deliver his message from the same elevation.

Human nature. The parts that I love, I really do love. The parts that I hate are few. Unwarranted confidence, masking a weak nature to be a follower (indeed, a need to be led) is one that bothers me. Taking credit for the work of others and pushing morals (or religion/politics) bothers me. And hypocrisy (not addressed here) drives me batty. I’m always looking to enlist folks into my army that will battle uglies. Help me, please, battle these uglies.

Hollywood vs. Politicians… Pick Your Damned Side

Good Will Hunting was a great movie; not one I’d watch repeatedly like Saving Private Ryan or Gladiator or Braveheart, but good nonetheless. The problem is that, I think, since that movie, Damon has taken on mostly intelligent roles wherein his character is intelligent–as his character was in Good Will Hunting–and it has crept over from his character mind to his reality mind. That would be okay if his intelligence was that high, but it isn’t. And if there is one thing Americans don’t like in addition to listening to somebody thinking they are smarter than they are (which usually equates to them thinking they’re smarter than everybody else), it’s our Hollywood people crossing over the line into the land of our politician people. As such, we don’t like when stars preach to us. You have to be one or the other.

Ronald Reagan acted, then when into politics. Fine. Schwarzenegger acted, then when into politics, then acted again. No problem. Fred Thompson repeatedly broke the politics/Hollywood rule but was dismissed because he was never a major character in either place. His presidential bid was a lot like his acting career; stand behind the stars, stay quiet, and quickly bow out.

But Mr. Matt Damon has crossed a border that we don’t like crossed. He has become relatively active in politics (like others have done and I believe paid a price for, ala Tim Robins). The problem with the whole thing is this: we ascribe a certain amount of hero glitter to our stars in Hollywood. They are always “good.” We always like them. They become icons after only a few well-marketed movies. All that is fine and typical. The problem is that when they begin to put on their politician faces, we believe we are being sold to by a salesman who stole his selling platform by sneaking in some side door.

Let me explain.

We don’t mind our politicians selling to us. Matter of fact, chances are that if they are in office, they already sold their ideas to the majority of the base that turned out to the booths. We meet them, the very first time, whether through TV or in person or internet ads or even radio and they are selling, straight away. On the very first meeting–on our first exposure to them–they are selling. We don’t mind that.

But when an actor, who has gained our admiration and (somehow) trust suddenly jumps up on a soap box and starts pushing an agenda that clearly serves one or another political party, we feel betrayed. He didn’t come up the hard way, selling, like our politicians did and we know our politicians already took their “beatings” of getting rejected and debated and insulted and having their private lives pretty much exposed by their opponents and government. They have worked on campaign trails, tirelessly, while our actor friends were yelling for makeup to fix their hair on windy days.

So when one of those actors pops up preaching, we are appalled and immediately want them to stop, no matter what they are pushing. You are our hero, actor, because of what you do in the movies. Don’t take that status and think it’ll transfer to the real world, because it will not. Real world heroes, to us, are like the ones on CNN Heroes or other ones we read about in the newspaper who sacrifice greatly to help others.

Mr. Matt Damon is among my very favorite actors. I only own a few “trilogies,” but the Bourne trilogy is one of them. I identify with the character in that series closely and I don’t think another actor could capture the character the way Damon did. So when he jumped up on stage recently at some education seminar or something of that nature (his mother was there, too; she’s a teacher), he made me queasy. He talked to some reporter who was suggesting that he wanted to work hard because he was an actor and he had a huge motivation for working hard since acting certainly didn’t offer job security, which is where he took issue. He then began lecturing her, and the problem came here: he lectured this reporter about what he called an “intrinsically paternalistic view…” regarding “ed policy…”

SCREEEEEEECH!

My Go-Go-Matt-Damon-Idolatry-Gadget snapped in half and crumbled to the floor of my mind. Is he politicking or religioning me? My sentry guns started firing at his image. My radar activated all defense systems and slammed his voice silent in my head in a matter of milliseconds. Is Matt Damon (gulp) preaching to me? Oh, no.

No, Mr. Damon. Don’t preach. If you intend to get active in “ed. policy,” get the hell out of my action movies first. Then, once you’ve taken your beatings from those who have worked a lifetime in education policy and their constituents, if you rise through that abuse and your message gains a following, I’ll give you a look with my politician spectacles on, but not until then. Otherwise, get back to kicking people’s asses and blowing shit up, because that’s what I like you for right now.