Points of Ponderation…..Episode 9.16

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..

 

 

 

 

 

Good point…..

 

 

 

For all you Pokemon Go fans out there. Sorry to rain on your parade.

 

 

 

I think I’m a hybrid neuro-poly reader.

 

 

 

Food for thought…..

 

 

 

I’m just gonna leave this right here.

The Undeniable Appeal of Donald Trump – Part Deux

I was wrong.

 

Head-ScratcherExactly one year…to the day…that I wrote “Have no fear Trump haters…he won’t be the Republican nominee for President of the United States. Republicans will choose someone much safer & more prosaic. Your nightmare will be over soon enough” Donald J. Trump officially received the Republican nomination.

 

Wait!! There’s more!!

 

In that presentation a year ago I also said that “Trump’s lack of finesse and bull-in-a-china shop mentality is unlikely to inspire Facepalm computermuch confidence and negatively impacts his viability as a contender” and “since it is doubtful that he will get the nomination the more likely scenario is that, at some point, he bows out and goes back to doing whatever he was doing before with barely a scratch to anything, especially his ego & his bank account”. My career as a political pundit looks to be on the brink of collapse, although, to be fair, I still have as much credibility as just about anyone at MSNBC or CNN.

 

I completely underestimated the anger & anxiety of the American people. I misjudged their resolve to venture outside the box and really challenge the status quo. I didn’t give enough credit to Mr. Trump’s determination or his political prowess. I applied the normal rules to a game that…atleast in this instance…has totally changed.

 

trump3So now here we are. It’s Trump vs. Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. For me it’s kind of like a baseball game featuring the Cubs vs. the Cardinals or a football game pitting Virginia Tech against Florida State. My team isn’t directly involved, but the outcome has consequences, therefore I am concurrently disinterested yet have to pay attention. I haven’t watched hardly any of the Republican National Convention. I am aware of the kerfuffle about Mrs. Trump’s speech and won’t attempt to defend it. Sure others have cribbed from peoples’ speeches before…it seems to be surprisingly common…but the fact is that Melania Trump should have never been put in that position in the first place. We vote for candidates, not their spouses, children, or any other family members. We all know that most public figures have speechwriters, and the people involved in writing for Mrs. Trump were lazy & careless. That being said the issue shouldn’t…and probably won’t…matter to anyone with an ounce of common sense. I also went back and watched the Ted Cruz speech that has been the subject of much vitriol. Personally I don’t see the big deal. He hillarycongratulated Trump for winning the nomination. He urged voters to participate in the process and vote for candidates who will uphold The Constitution, and we all know that ISN’T Hillary Clinton. Lest we forget, Donald Trump insulted Cruz’s wife and insinuated that his father may have been involved in the JFK assassination. Senator Cruz appears to be a bit angry about that, and who could blame him?? Atleast he showed up at the convention, which is more than can be said for John Kasich, Jeb Bush, & a bunch of other GOP old schoolers.

 

aflagAs for Trump himself, his most appealing quality is that he is not Hillary Clinton. My friend Slack has been invited to be a guest blogger here at The Manofesto, and if my intel is correct he will be explaining why the prospect of a Trump presidency scares the bejeesus out of him and why he thinks Clinton is the better choice. You probably won’t be shocked to know that I see things completely different. I don’t like everything that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth, and I am pretty sure that some of his views on social issues don’t jive with my own. However I do believe three things about Mr. Trump: a) he is knowledgeable about business practices & job creation, b) he will surround himself with a top Constitution 001flight team of experts on every subject and allow them enough autonomy to make good decisions, & c) the social issues he & I may disagree about are way down on his priority list…maybe not even on his priority list. Unlike our current President I don’t think Trump is on a mission to “fundamentally transform” an America that he loathes on some primordial level. My vibe is that Trump simply thinks we can do better and truly believes he can help.

 

gavelFor me this election comes down to one very important topic…The Supreme Court. The next President will likely be tasked with nominating up to 3 or 4 new justices given the advanced age of some of the current occupants of those seats. I do not want that kind of power in the hands of Hillary Clinton. I don’t trust her. I don’t trust her judgment. A Supreme Court molded by that woman might very well be the death knell for the United States that we all know & love. Barack Obama has given The Constitution a rather fierce thrashing the past several years, but a Clinton-shaped Court would negatively restructure the country for the next couple of generations…perhaps forever. I am willing to take a leap of faith that Mr. Trump would be far more reasonable in his selections and be given a nudge in the right direction by his advisers to choose justices that have a robust admiration for The Constitution instead of trying to ignore or even altogether rewrite the document. Is it a gamble?? Yes. Is it appropriate to reduce a Presidential election to one issue?? In this circumstance I believe it is.

 

I’m not usually a fan of the “lesser-of-two-evils” narrative. I’d like to think that we could do better. I probably have an overly whromantic view of history, putting men like George Washington, John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, & John F. Kennedy on a pedestal they may not completely deserve. I wish that we had the choice of a highly respected statesman whose wisdom was undisputable and integrity above reproach, but my grandmother used to say wish in one hand and…do something else…in the other and see which one gets filled first. The bottom line is this – in January of next year a new person will be sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. That person will be either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. I think the choice is obvious. Your mileage may vary.

Thou Shalt: A Brief Refresher

bowlIt isn’t unusual for my friend The Owl & I to engage in thoughtful & lengthy discussions about sociopolitical issues and/or religion. That’s just how we roll. Recently the subject matter was The Ten Commandments, and we were both dismayed when we could only come up with eight off the cuff. Like many others we fancy ourselves to be men of faith but too often come up short, falling prey to the frustrations & distractions of the world. However, unlike (sadly) too many we are unhappy with that inadequacy and seek a meaningful relationship with Jesus. It isn’t enough to pay lip service to The Almighty, lazily go thru the motions for a couple of hours on Sunday morning while sinning freely 6 ½ days/week, & use an old dusty Bible for a paper weight. So if we are going to try to emulate Christ and live the life God desires for us to live it would seem fairly essential to know what the His Word says. I understand that rote memorization of Scripture isn’t necessarily a hallmark of genuine faith, but shouldn’t broad familiarity/knowledge/awareness of what’s inside that dusty Bible be important not so that we can impress anyone with knowledge but rather so that we can have that aforementioned meaningful relationship?? Ponder your friends, family, and significant other. You know them, right?? You know what they think, believe, & deem important in life. You know their birthday, where they grew up, what colors they like, what they studied in school, which sports teams they root for, what their favorite foods are, & what kind of TV, books, movies, or music they enjoy. That’s all part of a relationship. If you want a relationship with God it might be a good idea to learn His ways. To that end let’s talk about those Ten Commandments.

 

First of all, it should be noted that these commandments (also called The Decalogue by some) can be found in two places in the Bible: Exodus 20:1–17 and Glasses on Open BibleDeuteronomy 5:4–21. They were given to Moses on Mount Sinai, inscribed on two stone tablets. When Moses came down from the mountain after 40 days & nights he saw his people partying like it was 1999 (BC obviously), so he got ticked off and broke the tablets. No worries though…God wrote him a new copy because God’s an awesome Dude.

 

10Unlike the ceremonial and sacrificial laws of the Old Testament these commandments are still applicable. These commandments represent God’s eternal standard of right vs. wrong. They represent vital obligations to society. They represent behavioral benchmarks. We have volumes of verbose laws at all levels these days, governing everything from taxes to intake of food & beverages to how much noise we’re allowed to make in the neighborhood late at night, and I would never suggest that all of those laws are irrelevant. However I believe that many of the problems we face on a daily basis could be considerably minimized if we’d just adhere to the foundation laid out by God. What follows is by no means meant to be a comprehensive, in-depth examination of The Ten Commandments. It is simply a little reminder of what they are, what they mean, & why they’re so important. Let’s take a look:

 

 

 

1          I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.

It’s all about priorities. God wants to be THE priority in our lives. We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things…but…do we?? What are priority1“other gods”?? Nothing in all of Creation should be held up as a god – not the stars, sun, moon, planets, anything in Nature, nor any other spirit, statues, bones, relics, money, fame, sex, or any intellectual or philosophical concepts. I don’t think there are very many people out there melting down gold and making it into idols that they worship or pray to, but I know there are lots & lots for whom God is way down on the ol’ priority list. Jobs, family, entertainment, alcohol & drugs…we have no shortage of options to distract us. I’m not suggesting that anyone should ignore their family or that it’s not okay to have some good clean fun on occasion, but God needs to come first.

 

 

2          You shall not make for yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them nor serve them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments.

Remember those golden idols I referred to?? Well, people actually used to do that sort of thing. I don’t know…maybe there are places where they still worshipdo. However, idolatry is a big no-no. A graven image is an idol carved from stone or wood, a material effigy that is worshipped…but let’s dig deeper. An idol can be anything we depend upon to meet needs of the heart like love, security, worth, or significance. When we seek to find identity & security in something besides God we have made it an idol. What are you addicted to?? What do you need to get thru the day?? What pursuits do you enjoy and why?? It could be something as simple and seemingly harmless as shopping or eating…or much more sinister things like gambling or pornography. Yet anything that you become a servant to and that pushes God down further on that priority list could be a culprit.

 

 

3          You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

It’s about respect. God’s name is holy. Using the power of His name without submitting to Him or having a trusting relationship with Him is wrong. mouthWe should never use God’s name to curse, deceive, or condemn anyone. Rather we should call upon Him in times trouble and use His holy name in prayer, praise, and giving thanks. Sadly…in large part due to flippant usage in modern entertainment…the perception of this particular commandment has become watered down and overlooked. I think there is an attitude of “If cussing is the worst thing a person does then they’re probably an okay person”. God just might disagree with that assessment.

 

 

4          Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son or daughter, your servants, your cattle, nor any stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

One word comes to mind…worship. It is God who supplies our needs, and if God rested after His labors why do we think we can outdo God?? When Isabbath was a kid we had something called blue laws, which basically meant that almost all businesses were closed on Sunday. That all started to change during my formative years, and now blue laws are mostly viewed as a quaint artifact of the past…but is that okay?? It is important that we consciously set aside one day each week for worshipful rest to remind ourselves to whom our time…our life…belongs. And no…spending a day off from your job running around like a headless chicken doesn’t count. That kind of day isn’t about God…it’s about you, your wants, your desires, your interests, & your ego. Refer back to the first two commandments.

 

 

5          Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

I’ve always been taught & believed wholeheartedly that nothing on Earth is more important than family. We need to recognize that someone else gave parentsus life and took care of us when weren’t capable of taking care of ourselves. Parents have been entrusted by God to be our guardians & teachers from the day we were born. We are to serve, love, & obey them and hold them in the highest esteem. I am well aware that some aren’t blessed with great parents and I’m not sure what to say about that except that it is likely that in that type of situation someone else…a grandparent, another relative, a neighbor, or some type of guardian…took care of you as a child. Honor that. The time comes for most of us when our parents are no longer around, and then there isn’t a day that goes by that they aren’t missed.

 

 

6          You shall not kill.

The Hebrew word ratsach means “to murder or slay”. It specifically refers to the premeditated murder of one person by another.  Sadly we don’t seem killto appreciate the sanctity of life as much these days as in previous generations. We are to cherish all life and recognize it as part of God’s Creation.

 

 

7          You shall not commit adultery.

There’s no way to have accurate statistics, but I’d be surprised if this isn’t the most broken commandment, the one that many people are far too marriagewilling to overlook & ignore. If it feels good do it, right?? We give lip service to the sanctity (aka holiness) of marriage, but genuine respect for that particular bond seems to be at an all-time low. Adultery is any sexual act committed by a married person outside of that marriage. We are not to do anything that would lead a person to break the sacred union of marriage, but unfortunately it is all too common. And I won’t even get started on fornication, which is a whole other ballgame.

 

 

8          You shall not steal.

Ownership is a sacred boundary. Stealing is dishonest & treacherous conduct that shows great disrespect and a lack of love toward fellow human thiefbeings. It disturbs societal stability and the results are feelings of fear, insecurity, & desire for revenge.

 

 

9          You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Lying and dishonesty pervert & corrupt hearts and are abominations to a God of truth. He wants us to learn to hate lying gossip& dishonesty and to love truth. We are not to deceitfully betray, slander, or defame our neighbors, but defend & speak well of them. A person’s reputation is an extension of themselves and we should not violate it for our own selfish gain. Integrity is not for oneself, but for the sake of others, so that they may live in security, knowing that we will treasure their reputation above our own.

 

 

10        You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, wife, servants, ox, donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.

Covet means to long for something that belongs to another person. And yes, the word neighbor means everybody…not just the few people that may covetlive beside of you or across the street. If we claim to be in relationship with God we must see people in the same way He does. Their lives are not ours to take for our purposes. In modern times we probably don’t covet anyone’s livestock, but we may be envious of their car, job, or general lifestyle. Yet the Bible emphasizes multiple times that we aren’t supposed to focus on worldly possessions. Look back up to those first couple of commandments. God wants to be the center of our lives, and if we’re too busy keeping up with the Joneses or loathing them because they have cool stuff that we can’t afford then we’re not living for Him.

 

80’s Movie Mania: Radical Round 3

Before we move forward it’s time to make a tough decision. Throughout this process I have attempted to minimize my own bias as much as possible, although it is an undeniable factor. I ask myself several questions. How popular is the movie?? Is the movie actually good?? Is the movie a worthy representation of 80’s cinema?? Has the movie held up well over time?? Is it shown on TV a lot?? Is it accessible & enjoyable to a wide audience?? Critics’ reviews can be instructive, but don’t always accurately reflect the attitude of the masses and can’t comprehend the status a film may have achieved in the subsequent decades after its release. Not to sound like a broken record, but all of these things are why I really wanted substantial involvement from The Manoverse. However since that isn’t happening I am forced to ask & answer these questions myself. Therefore, in what may be considered an upset by some, I am giving  Airplane! the 3rd Round victory over Top Gun in the Gnarly Division. Sorry Tom Cruise. So now that that’s done let’s move on.

 

 

 

Radical 3

 

Dead Poets Society    vs.     The Naked Gun

Robin Williams received his second Academy Award nomination for playing a kindhearted yet unconventional professor at a stodgy prep school in dps21950’s New England. The professor becomes very influential to a group of young lads, but when one of those boys gets so frustrated by his domineering father’s demands that he commits suicide it is the professor who receives the blame. Williams’ performance as Professor Keating is extraordinary, mostly reserved yet with hints of the actor’s well-known humor. There are a plethora of literary & poetic references, and the script is well-written. Dead Poet’s Society was the 10th highest grossing film of 1989, behind flashier fare like Batman, Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade, Back to the Future Part II, & Ghostbusters II, but ahead of solid competition like The War of the Roses, Steel Magnolias, Christmas ngVacation, & Field of Dreams. 1989 was a VERY good year indeed. The Naked Gun overcame challenges by Dragnet and Splash to make it this far. It has an 86% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 2012 Empire magazine poll ranked it the 7th best comedy of all time. Two sequels were made in the early 90’s, but neither recaptured the magic of the original. Word on the street is that a reboot is in the works, with Ed Helms possibly…or maybe not…taking over the lead role. We’ll see.

 

The Verdict:      Dead Poets Society. It’s just a damn fine film. There’s a sober tone, but enough humor is thrown into the mix to lighten the mood. Driving Miss Daisy won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1989, besting both Dead Poets Society AND Field of Dreams. In what sane universe does that kind of absurdity occur??

 

 

 

 

Big    vs.     Fast Times at Ridgemont High

bigTom Hank’s is a huge movie star now, with a couple of Academy Awards and numerous Golden Globes, Emmys, Peoples’ Choice, & other trophies sitting on his mantle. In 1988 his success was just hitting its stride, with memorable hits like Splash and Bachelor Party, as well as misses like Volunteers, The Money Pit, Nothing in Common, & Dragnet (although I really liked Dragnet). Hanks wouldn’t realize his full potential until the early 90’s, but Big gives us an early glimpse of his talent for gingerly straddling the comedy/drama line. He plays 12 year old Josh, whose wish to a carnival fortune telling machine to be “big” is mystically granted. The boy wakes up the next morning in the body of a 30 year old man. While trying to figure out his predicament Josh somehow ends up with an office job and a girlfriend. The charm of Big is watching Hanks never forget that he is portraying a young kid. His performance is charming and sneakily mesmerizing. Josh kind of likes playing in the grown-up world, but at the same time he misses his mother and yearns for the simplicity of childhood, a plight many adults can understand. Big earned ftTom Hanks his first Oscar nomination, although he ultimately lost the trophy to Dustin Hoffman (Rain Man). Fast Times has defeated Brighton Beach Memoirs and Spaceballs to make it to this point. The screenplay was written by Cameron Crowe, who ranks right up there in John Hughes territory and tells similar character based stories devoid of the violence & CGI induced odiousness that seems to be standard operating procedure these days. Crowe hasn’t been as prolific as Hughes, but he’s had a handful of hits, with Fast Times being his first success. The fantastic cast and pitch perfect soundtrack are ingredients for a triumphant recipe of 80’s pop culture.

 

The Verdict:      Fast Times. This is a decision that is very similar to the Top Gun vs. Airplane! matchup, though with differing results. You’ve got a quintessential 80’s film that went a long way toward defining the decade versus a definitively “better” film that doesn’t necessarily represent the 80’s in any meaningful way. Since this is 80’s Movie Mania I am inclined to give weight to movies that are more representative of a certain vibe, but I cannot overlook quality. Big is a good film and a pre-cursor of great things ahead for Tom Hanks, but if I am being honest Hanks is more of a star of the 90’s. Fast Times at Ridgemont High hits all the right 80’s notes and is a well-written film that has aged well.

 

 

 

Rain Man  vs.     E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

After receiving a first round bye Rain Man beat Night Shift in Round 2. It not only dominated awards season in 1988 but was the top grossing movie of the year. Director Barry Levinson is one of my favorites, with a filmography that includes Diner, The Natural, Good Morning Vietnam, History of the World Part 1, Tootsie, Disclosure, Quiz Show, The Perfect Storm, & Donnie Brasco. Levinson certainly isn’t afraid of being eclectic. Rain Man has a 90% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Siskel & Ebert both gave it a thumbs up, with Siskel calling Hoffman’s role “risky & thankless” and Cruise’s performance “the strength of the film”, while Ebert said the film “is about acceptance” and praised both Cruise & Hoffman’s performances. E.T. had a first round bye then upended Sixteen Candles in Round 2. To say that it dominated the box office in 1982 is an ET2understatement of epic proportions, as it more than doubled its closest competition. It is rare to find a big summer blockbuster that also has a heart and a well-written story, but history has shown that when Hollywood produces such greatness the masses respond. E.T. won four Oscars, but none of the “major” ones, a mystery that not even Sherlock Holmes could solve. E.T. has a remarkable 98% Fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and upon its release pretty much every critic on the planet showered it with praise.

 

The Verdict:      E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. This was a REALLY difficult decision, but you want to know why Rain Man lost?? I pondered a simple question. If people were randomly asked when each film was in theaters I can virtually guarantee that most folks would peg E.T. as an 80’s film, whereas Rain Man could just as easily have been a product of the early 90’s. It’s a metric that probably could be utilized for many matchups in this competition, but one that I use only as a last resort when no other flaws can be found.

 

 

 

This Is Spinal Tap       vs.     Wall Street

stMockumentary classic Spinal Tap received a first round bye then eliminated Flight of the Navigator in Round 2. It barely registered at the box office in 1984, ranking 117th for the year. Financial success & popularity came later, after the movie was released on home video. However, critics loved the film right out of the gate. Ebert gave it 4 stars, opining that it is “absolutely inspired in a subtle way” and “the satire has a deft, wicked touch”. Wall Street received a first round bye then proceeded to defeat Revenge of the Nerds to make it here. It ranked a modest 26th at the 1987 box office, behind bona fide classics like wallstreet2_560Moonstruck, Lethal Weapon, Dirty Dancing, and Planes, Trains, & Automobiles, but ahead of decent completion like Spaceballs, Summer School, The Princess Bride, & Ishtar. Okay, you got me…I’m obviously joking about that last one (Ishtar is considered one of the biggest bombs of all time).  I think it is Charlie Sheen’s best work, and of course Michael Douglas won the Oscar for Best Actor in his role as Gordon Gekko. A sequel was made in 2010, but it doesn’t measure up. I blame Shia LeBeouf.

 

The Verdict:       Spinal Tap. Wall Street is a fine film. I never thought a movie about stocks & bonds could keep me on the edge of my seat, but it achieves that difficult task. Having said that, This Is Spinal Tap is so well written and performed, plus it actually spawned an entire sub-genre of films. Rob Reiner may be a raging liberal lunatic, but I’ll give him credit for creating a really great movie.

 

 

Points of Ponderation…Episode 8.16

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..

 

Family, friends, & citizens of The Manoverse know that my relationship with the ol’ home state of West Virginia has been…ambivalent…at best. Not a day goes by that part of me doesn’t regret taking off for greener pastures while I was young & fearless, yet this is home and I am content to be near family, basking in a boring, uneventful, slow paced, Mayberry-esque way of life. Let me take this opportunity to say how proud I have been these past few weeks watching the people of WV rally around those affected by devastating floods. I have observed all kinds of businesses, churches, & other organizations collect donations wvand travel down to the flooded areas to distribute much needed food, clothing, & supplies. No one asked, and certainly no one forced these entities to put in the time & effort to help communities of strangers over 100 miles away, but they did it anyway because that’s how we roll here in The Mountain State. For the most part we’re not the wealthiest, most scholarly, thinnest, or sexiest population, but we understand what it is to be neighborly and take care of those less fortunate or facing tough times. Please continue to say an occasional prayer for the flood victims, and understand that their lives won’t magically be back to normal in a couple of weeks or months. Many people lost everything and don’t have a trust fund or hidden bank account in the Cayman Islands to buy new houses, clothes, automobiles, etc. I am sure there will be assistance available, but I’m also smart enough to know that it won’t be adequate. I can’t even fathom the devastation.

 

 

 

Unlike some I wasn’t the least bit surprised that the FBI decided not to indict Hillary Clinton. The outcome was expected, although I was a bit surprised by how foolish liberty_in_shamethe powers-that-be made themselves look in the process. I wish I could be more optimistic, but more & more it feels like the fix may be in as it pertains to the 2016 Presidential election. The media has done a wonderful job glossing over Mrs. Clinton’s “imperfections” while amplifying Donald Trump’s liabilities, to the point that otherwise intelligent people sincerely believe that she is a better choice than him. However, just because the result of the “investigation” was anticipated doesn’t make it any less sad & frustrating. I’ve watched this country continue to dive further into the abyss on a daily basis the past several years, yet it continues to be an incredible process to witness.

 

 

 

Okay kids, it’s review time. I know I have kvetched about this before, but please allow me to educate as well as entertain. A person’s wheelchair is a very, very, very important piece of equipment. It’s more than just an apparatus…it’s a lifeline. So please…please…unless you honestly know what you are doing don’t try to “help” an experienced wheelchair user. I’m not talking about someone who broke their leg and might be stuck with crutches and/or a chair for a few weeks. I am referring to a person (like myself) who has a disability and therefore deals with stuff & situations on a daily basis. Do I sometimes need help?? Yes. And I have had to learn to put my pride on the shelf and accept assistance on occasion. There are times that I truly appreciate the kindness of others. Having said that, if I need help I will usually ask, or if someone really wants to be polite & supportive I hope they atleast ask first. Do NOT just come up to me, say “Here let me help you” and grab my wheelchair. Would you just walk up and latch onto someone’s private area?? Would you randomly fondle a stranger’s breasts?? Grabbing a person’s wheelchair is similarly offensive. What frequently happens to me is that people want to lift my chair into the extended cab of my truck. The problem is that’s not how it is done. I end up arriving at my next destination with my wheelchair brakes locked and having to twist myself into a pretzel to unlock them before I can easily back the chair out of the truck. Recently as I was leaving work I received some “help” from a lovely young lady. It was 7am and I was tired. The woman was being nice and she was kind of cute. I didn’t argue. Unfortunately…and hilariously…she somehow placed my chair into my truck completely upside down. I honestly have never seen that before, and the whole way home I just kept thinking “How in the heck am I going to get it out of there??”. Luckily it wasn’t as difficult as I feared, but it could have been a complete disaster. I’m glad that there are caring, neighborly folks in the world. There are times when I am very thankful for a helping hand. But exercise caution…ask yourself if you are really being useful, or if maybe…just maybe…you may be getting in the way.

 

 

And that’s all I have to say about that.

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I was so looking forward to the next Star Trek film, set to hit theaters in just a few weeks. But now I think I might just skip it. It has been made public that the character of Sulu will be an out-of-the-closet gay man in the movie, complete with child and male “partner”. It is obviously a nod to George Takei, who portrayed Sulu in the original Star Trek TV series and first six feature films and came out as gay several years ago. The issue is this…Sulu was never homosexual before. As a matter of fact he has been previously shown as having a wife & child. Now, it is true that the series was on television a half century ago, and it is also true that these new movies take place in an “alternate time line”. That’s all well & good…creative license & all that jazz. It is also said trek2that in this new film, called Star Trek: Beyond, Sulu being gay is shown as no big deal, which is fine. However, I’m just not a fan of this movement toward PC appeasement in pop culture. Ghostbusters was remade simply to have an all-female cast. There is currently a TV version of the classic film Uncle Buck that features a black cast. Annie was remade awhile back with a black cast, as was Steel Magnolias.  The same thing was done a few years ago with The Karate Kid. Harry Potter fans got their knickers twisted recently when a new stage play written by JK Rowling was cast and the adult version of Hermione Granger is now suddenly black. Rowling’s previous low class existence & mindset came roaring back when she whined that fans bothered by the casting choice must be racist. An Ocean’s Eleven reboot is in the works with an all female cast led by Sandra Bullock, although it might actually work because the lead character is allegedly the sister of George Clooney’s Danny Ocean, so atleast they are acknowledging the original (well okay…those films were remade from a 60’s Rat Pack film, but you get my drift). The revived Star Wars franchise seems to be back only so that Luke Skywalker…or a hero that is a close facsimile of him…can be a girl now. I’m not a comic book aficionado, but I am given to understand that Iron Man is now a teenage black girl, Spiderman is an hispanic dude, Thor is female, Ms. Marvel is Muslim, & Captain America is black. Such changes may be more organic in comic books though, especially if new characters take over the superhero role from someone who is now retired or dead. At any rate, people are already tired of Hollywood’s lack of originality, and it feels extra lazy to just recycle an idea with the big twist being that previously white/ heterosexual/male characters are now black, latino, gay, and/or female. Call me all the names you want…closeminded, bigoted, racist, misogynistic, homophobic…because that’s the playbook these days. Just know that I speak truth. I am sure that the powers-that-be pat themselves on the back for being inclusive and embracing diversity, but the fact is that instead of creating new stories with strong characters that are female, black, etc. they are simply putting a superficial façade on the treasured memories of the masses and giving insulting lip service to the issues they allegedly care so much about. Even George Takei thinks it’s stupid to make Sulu gay at this stage, fifty years into the character’s history…and of all people shouldn’t his opinion carry more than a little weight?? Anyway, I watch movies & TV and read books to escape from reality. Can’t we just enjoy a good story without being preached to and indoctrinated with ideology?? Is that too much to freaking ask?!?!?!??