Friday, June 29, 2012

Another Fairy Tale Marriage Crashes Against Reality

This afternoon, I learned the great news that Katie Holmes has filed for divorce from Tom Cruise, citing "irreconcilable differences" and apparently, Cruise was said to be shocked and devastated. Its hard to know the truth, though, regarding Cruise. If he really did not see this outcome, he is blind. I knew that this marriage would not last. I'm surprised that it lasted this long. However, there are rumours circulating the Internet that Cruise had "auditioned" several actresses to become his third wife and Katie was the only one who passed the approval of the authorities in Scientology. Included in these rumours is that Cruise required a minimum of five years of marriage and a three million dollar alimony per year of marriage. Who knows if any of this is true, though. Usually, these rumours are connected to the belief of some that Tom Cruise is really a closeted gay actor who needs a wife to maintain the illusion of his heterosexuality. However, I don't believe Tom Cruise is gay. I'd actually be surprised if he was.

Tom's problem is his intensity regarding Scientology. It's over the top outrageous. When you read the foundational mythology of Scientology (Xenu, thetans, inter-galactic warfare, volcanos, e-meters), you have to wonder how anyone of any degree of intelligence could believe such fantastical crap. Especially when it came from the mind of a second-rate, pulp science-fiction writer. In addition to his devotion to this Hollywood cult, he is well known to be a "control freak". What woman in her right mind would want to deal with all of that?

Apparently, Katie Holmes. She had a poster of Tom Cruise from his Top Gun days hanging on her wall when she was a young girl and teenager. She dreamed about marrying him some day (I can somewhat relate to childhood fantasies. As a teenager, I used to imagine myself married to Debbie Gibson! Mine obviously has not come true, and I'm glad it didn't. I'd rather be married to Audrey Tautou). She gained fame in the late 1990s as the sweetheart next-door in the teen drama Dawson's Creek. I was in college at the time and one of my housemates was obsessed with that show, so I would watch it while doing my homework. Yeah, Katie Holmes was a sweetheart. When she was dating Tom Cruise (the only woman to have caused Cruise to break out of his controlled image and jump up and down on Oprah Winfrey's couch), I hoped that she would have the good sense to get out of it as soon as possible. However, he wined and dined her, taking her to exotic locales in his private jet. In fact, he proposed to her on the Eiffel Tower in Paris and they got married in a fantasy wedding in an Italian castle.

Katie had no chance to resist. There was a huge age difference (she was in her mid-to-late 20s, he was 44 at the time), which presents one set of problems. The other was that she obviously had the whole "princess fantasy" of marriage as a fairy tale and Tom Cruise was wealthy enough to go all out for her in bringing that fantasy to real life in his courtship of her. From my understanding of human dynamics, any time there is an inequality, it creates a potential problem for the relationship. Age difference equals experience difference. Tom Cruise has experienced a lot more about life than Katie has, so his level of understanding is vastly superior, especially when it comes to human dynamics. A naive young lady is no match for a worldly, experienced charmer. She can be seduced without even realizing it.

Because she dreamed about her film star idol for as long as she could remember, when her fantasies turned into reality, she probably had no internal warning signs telling her to slow down. She got swept up in the fantasy of being a princess bride, including a dream wedding in an Italian castle! Prior to Tom Cruise, she had dated an actor who was in the American Pie films. How could he compete with such a wealthy, superstar?

In many fairy tales, the story always seems to end with..."And they lived happily ever after." But what happens after the champagne bottles are empty? When all the rice (or birdseed, or bubbles) gets thrown? When the honeymoon ends and real life happens? When work takes them to different locations? When the imperfect human qualities finally become too apparent to ignore in the glaze of celebrity?

Since Katie's marriage, the many pictures I've seen of her in the past six years have shown a woman who looks unhappy or subdued. She simply did not appear to be happy about what she got herself into. It begs the could you marry someone without considering the implications of their spiritual beliefs? I know several people who have either married or long-term dated women without discussing their spiritual beliefs. For me, this would be a definite no-no. The topic would come up on the first date because a lady's beliefs could be a potential deal breaker. Katie Holmes is from a Catholic family. Granted, both Tom Cruise and his previous wife Nicole Kidman were both raised Catholic. However, everyone knows that Cruise is hardcore Scientologist. This should have been taken into serious consideration at the start.

According to the news reports, Katie's reason for divorcing Cruise is because of Scientology. Particularly, she did not agree with Tom's idea to raise their daughter Suri in strict Scientology indoctrination. It's the reason why she decided to file for divorce in New York, rather than California, and perhaps most shocking of all to Tom Cruise: she wants sole custody of Suri. I guess she does not want what happened to Nicole Kidman to happen to her (Cruise has custody of the two children that he adopted with Kidman).

Five years might be a little late, but I am glad to see that Katie has finally wised up and saw her marriage for the reality that it is, rather than the fantasy she thought it was. Marrying the Hollywood superstar of her dreams has turned into a nightmare. He may be wealthy, handsome, charismatic, with a great track record regarding movies, but beneath all that, he's a hardcore Scientologist. There is something deeply flawed about a person who could belong to and defend an organization that engages in deception, fraud, financial scams, harassment, and even slavery (Scientologists who work in "Sea Org" are paid little and work long hours, are unable to leave, and have to sign billion year contracts). As likable and All-American Tom Cruise may be, his blindness to the con that is Scientology represents a flaw so fatal that any woman who cares about her independence and free will ought to run far, far away from him. To that, I say: Run, Katie, run!!! Get away as fast as you can and don't look back. You made the right decision in leaving. After all, you didn't marry a man. You married a cult.

If there are any young ladies out there who are considering marrying a man who seems to "have it all" but there exists some kind of inequality between you two, think very seriously about where it is likely to end up. Do you really want to subvert your inner light to the intensity of another person? Especially if that person belonged to a hyper-controlling religion or cult? Forget the princess fairy-tale fantasy. That's not real life. Marriage takes work and compromise, but if you're the one making all the compromises, you're not in an equal partnership and it will likely not end well. You've been warned. Learn from Katie's experience. This day was a day that I long saw coming. It'll be interesting to see if Tom Cruise will find another woman to marry him. If that woman is not a hardcore Scientologist, I'll feel sorry for her. He needs to stick with someone who believes in the lies of Scientology like him, otherwise, he's bound to repeat the same experience. Tom is married to Scientology and women are just along for the ride.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Justice Roberts Shows Independence

In a surprising Supreme Court decision regarding President Obama's signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, Chief Justice John Roberts played the role of former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and ruled with the slim majority (5 to 4), which upholds the health care provisions that the Democrats passed a couple years ago. It did not take long for conservatives to call Roberts a traitor. They were hoping that the Supreme Court would overturn that legislation, thereby negating Obama's main accomplishment.

I was relieved by the decision. I'm not a fan of the Supreme Court after their unConstitutional ruling regarding Bush v. Gore in 2000, which took away the right of the state (of Florida) in the controversial election that installed the disastrously incompetent Bush as president. Also, the Citizens United decision was another bad decision which allows corporations to spend the millions upon millions upon millions to influence the elections in this country (why do corporations hate paying a living wage to employees or to hire more people, but see no problem using their hoards of cash to influence the election?).

Chief Justice Roberts' decision is interesting, because he was one of President Bush's Supreme Court selections. Obama, then a Senator, voted against the nomination. Back during the confirmation hearings, I actually was okay with John Roberts and if I had been a Senator, I would have voted to confirm him (but not Alito or the most ridiculous nominee of all: Harriet Miers, Bush's personal lawyer who is quoted as saying "Bush is the most brilliant man I have ever met!"). Roberts appeared to me to be a reasonable, moderate conservative who is not an ideologue. He proved it with his vote in favor of upholding the new health care law, rather than ruling it un-Constitutional just because conservative ideologues hate the president and object to every thing the president tries to do to progress our country.

A part of me wondered if Roberts was influenced by an I.O.U. to the president. After all, in the most significant aspect of his job (administering the oath of office to the incoming president on Inauguration Day), he flubbed the oath to the point where Obama had to re-do the oath later in the day, just in case some ideologue tried to impeach him over it. How do you get the oath wrong? Yeah, he definitely owed Obama big time after marring his otherwise perfect day.

While the Affordable Care Act is a step in the right direction, I am in favour of a complete universal health care model that allows for a public option, because if offered one, I'd definitely take it. Government health care might not be perfect, but when I was in the military, I never had to deal with a bill and it worked well for me. The key is affordability and this year, I finally got myself on the Veteran's plan, though I still have a health insurance through my company, which is expensive and four times more than what I had paid in my previous job.

I don't understand why teabaggers and other rabid ideologues on the right are so against universal health care. It is a FACT that people who use the Emergency Room and / or 9-1-1 for their health care needs actually put the burden on the rest of us taxpayers. Why should they get a free ride and use a system geared for emergencies to take care of their non-emergency health care needs? Why not set up a system where all working Americans have a tax taken out of their paychecks that go straight into a universal health insurance policy? That way, people won't abuse the Emergency Room and 9-1-1 for non-emergencies.

Also, health care should be non-profit. I've seen some statistics floating around on memes on Facebook. The CEOs of all the major health insurance companies make well over several million dollars a year. Why? A government-run health care system would pay far more reasonable salary for those that manage and work within the system. Don't the health insurance companies (HMOs) CEOs realize that the millions they make each year is made on the health of insurers? In order to pay their salaries, HMOs deny patients the care they might need or to deny people with "pre-existing conditions". When Sarah Palin accused Obama of wanting to set up government "death panels", did she not think that this is what HMOs do all the time when they deny claims and benefits to people, in order to save money so that they can get their big salaries? That is truly sick and twisted. Why does a health insurance company CEO need a several million dollar salary for anyway? What level of intelligence or experience do they have over the rest of us that justifies such a salary? Especially when the money came from someplace (all those insurers paying into the system). How many people died because they were denied health care from HMOs, while the money saved found its way into the bank accounts of the HMO CEO?

I will never understand the mentality of a person who hates government so much that they would not want to have affordable health care for themselves. Its another example of a people so ignorant that they are able to be tricked into voting against their own economic self interest. They reveal their ignorance every day when they protest this Affordable Care Act as a violation of their freedoms. When I majored in International Politics in college, one of the motives I learned about for why a social safety net was considered important in societies that favour a socialist-democratic system is the belief that if citizens did not have to worry about hungry, shelter, and sickness, they could be empowered to pursue their goals and dreams, which would improve society for the better. A nation full of poor, sick, and hungry people does not bode well for the long-term security of a country, so the relative minimal cost of preventive care is far less expensive in the long run than dealing with all the problems that occur with health crises and poverty. Why can't conservative ideologues understand that?!?

So, thank you, Chief Justice Roberts for making the right call on this law. It puts you in the running for my annual "Nonconformist of the Year." Don't let the rabid conservatives scare you into making decisions that are more political than neutral. Look at the progress of history and side with the trend. You don't want future Americans to look upon your legacy as reactionary, ideological, and unsupported (indefensible). We should always strive towards "a more perfect union." The Affordable Care Act is a huge step in the right direction.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Another Winning Personal Ad (Not!)

The following ad is by a woman who lacks complete self awareness or a real understanding of male psychology. Read on...

Tired of the Jerks and Losers - 37 (Outer SE Portland)

Date: 2012-06-26, 9:35PM PDT

PLEASE READ THIS ALL THE WAY THROUGH!! This is kind of new for me, but here it goes... FIRST OFF, LET ME SAY... NO ONE NIGHT STANDS!!! >:[ I'm a 37 year old single mom of 4. Yes 4. No little ones but they do all live with me. So does my mom. She is my babysitter and general live in help. I have alot of free time thanks to her and I'd like to find a partner to share life with. I've been through a lot and am tired of weeding through all these jerks in hopes of finding the right guy. I'm looking for someone around my age who is stable and 420 friendly. Preferably slightly good looking, very passionate and romantic. That's a deal breaker for me... ;) Must be non-judgmental.. I'm not working right now so I have plenty of time to get to know the right person. I'm slightly overweight but wear it well. (mostly in my boobs) I'm doing pretty well losing the few extra pounds I have but some extra activity couldn't hurt. ;) Send me a pic and a little about yourself and I will send one back if I'm interested. ALSO to make sure you are a real person please put the word HELLO in the title of your reply. I'd love to text for a while and then maybe meet in person this weekend if we click.
What's wrong with this ad? Plenty!

First, her ad title focuses on the negative and what she doesn't want. In my 6 year study and understanding of the Universal Law of Attraction, you actually attract what you put your focus on, so if you send a signal that you don't want "jerks and losers", what are you going to attract into your life experience? That's right! More jerks and losers.

But who's the "loser" here? This woman has four children and says that her mother lives with her and provides free child care (or is reality more like she lives with her mother? What an awful burden to put on one's mother. Your parents want to enjoy their grandchildren...not raise them!).

Next, she wants a guy who is open about using "420" (marijuana). Maybe that's one clue why she seems to attract "jerks and losers". What kind of influence is that for her children? A man sitting around smoking marijuana doesn't sound like a winner in terms of being a step-parent. Sounds more like a slacker to me.

Her condition is that she wants a guy who is "slightly good looking", and yet admits that she is overweight (but working on it, which seems to be the common excuse that BBWs seem to put in their ads). When I read an ad like this, I wonder if the person who wrote the ad has any self awareness.

Here's a clue about male psychology. Most males do not want an "instant family." While having one young child from a previous marriage might not be a deal breaker, any time you have more than two (I mean, FOUR?!?), it's going to limit your options. You can probably figure that for each child you have, you can cut down your pool of interested men by 50% at a very minimum. A man who has no problem jumping into a relationship with a woman with four children is either a saint (and likely not going to be a super-handsome or "hot" guy that this woman seems to be wanting) or a potential pederast. It's something she needs to be aware about, which she apparently seems not to be.

When I read such an ad, I wonder if she had four children by one man or by different men. If they all have the same father, than that father needs to be shamed. I consider it to be the worst form of douchebaggery for a man to abandon the woman who gave him three or more children, because it makes it difficult for her to find another man. That's just the way it goes. If the children have different fathers, then the woman has serious problems. She keeps hooking up with men who don't stay and really should not be having children.

If I were to give a grade to this ad, it would get a big, fat F. Epic fail. There is nothing appealing about a woman who uses her own mother for day care and maid service so she can have "a lot of free time." If you were reckless and had four children by different men, you don't deserve a lot of free time. You're a mother, so own up to it and stop using your mother as a live in nanny and maid. She earned the right to not have to raise children after a certain age. The role of grandparent is to enjoy their grandchildren without having to deal with the discipline or the constant care. It's the parent's responsibility to raise the child(ren).

I'm not surprised that this lady attracts "jerks and losers." It sounds to me like she is a perfect match for the type she attracts. If she wants a better quality of man, the first thing she should do is to assume responsibility for raising her four children and give her mother a break. It's the very least she can do.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Journal Excerpt: Three Hours in Alexandria, Egypt

Twenty years ago, I was a young man in the U.S. Navy, stationed aboard the USS Orion, which was a 50 year old submarine tender (supply ship) homeported in La Maddalena, Sardinia. Each summer, it would go out to sea for a month with a few liberty ports. I had checked aboard in September 1991 and was looking forward to my first underway in the Mediterranean Sea. The liberty ports scheduled that summer included Cartagena, Spain (which I hated); Corfu, Greece (which was fun, but not a place I'd care to see again); and the final liberty port: Alexandria, Egypt, which I was most excited to see.

Back in 1981, the U.S. Air Force sent my dad to Egypt for a training exercise. We were living on Hill Air Force Base in Clearfield / Layton, Utah at the time and my sister was just a baby. The training exercise lasted for several months. When dad returned, I was excited to hear all about his experiences in this enchanted land and to get all these cool Egyptian souvenirs (statues, brass pyramids, Arab headdress). It also gave birth to a dream that one day, I would see the Great Pyramids for myself one day.

One aspect of my dad's visit to Egypt did influence my art. The base clinic had an art contest for elementary school about something dealing with dental. I had the inspiration to draw "Braces Come to Egypt" (my brother had braces at the time, I'd get mine shortly later). I drew braces on the Pyramids, camels, and even turned the Nile River into the Smile River. My art won! I wish I still had the drawing, but I don't know what happened to it. What I won was a trip to the clinic and a special dinner, where I had to tell a group of adults in the audience how I was inspired to create this drawing. I simply mentioned that the idea came to me when I thought about my dad's trip to Egypt and my brother getting braces. The drawing wasn't great, I'm pretty certain of that, so I suspect that it was my clever originality that helped me win, rather than my artistic talent.

So, in remembrance of this significant event of finally being able to see Egypt for myself, I wanted to feature what I wrote in my journal at the time. The name of my journal was: The Age of Discovery in Autonomy (Journal Volume XXIX). The most significant thing about this port visit was that I only had 3 hours in Alexandria. I had gotten off the ship at 9 p.m. and shopped for a bunch of things in the three hours before returning to the ship at midnight. The following day, I was signed up for the bus tour to Cairo and the Pyramids at Giza. However, due to the heavy waves and the fear that the liberty boats would capsize in the choppy waters of the Mediterranean (if I remember correctly, it took about 45 minutes to get from our ship to fleet landing), the Captain cancelled the port visit and it killed morale on the ship for the remainder of the underway. It was one of the most depressed times I ever experienced. We were so close and yet, so far away. Later that summer, I saw that MWR was offering trips to Egypt and I was tempted to go, but after getting all excited to seeing the Pyramids and having it yanked away, I never gained an interest in seeing Egypt again. Also later that summer, there were news reports of Islamic radicals shooting Western tourists and even a stated goal of wanting to completely destroy the Pyramids (which would be a stupid thing to do, as it would kill tourism in Egypt forever) I've never really regained my enthusiasm or desire to see Egypt. Even now, whether or not I ever see the Pyramids before I pass into the spiritual realm, there are many more places I want to see first.

Anyhow, the journal excerpt is below the picture of the beautiful Pyramids.

1992 June 26 * Friday

"Can you smell it?" asked Coleman.

"Smell what?" I asked.

"Its the motherland!"

I laughed. The sun was baring down on us and it did feel hotter than it did yesterday. Still no sign of land.

We got word that we didn't have permission to anchor out in the harbour. If we didn't get it by sunset, then we would cancel the port visit. More than that, Friday is the Muslim holy day and they might not grant us permission. So we sailed in circles and I got anxious. I really wanted to see Egypt -- it would be bad if we cancelled now. Bad for morale anyway.

About 1600 [hours] or so, we got word that we could anchor out. Yes! I was relieved. It took awhile, however to get the ship ready for liberty. They brought along a trash barge and a barge to get to the liberty boats.

I took a couple pictures of the Alexandria skyline -- all highrise buildings. The sky was a brownish colour - a sign of pollution. The liberty boats were cheap looking rafts really, bobbing up and down on the water. It looked unsafe to me and Alexandria was a good deal away. The waves were somewhat rough and those "toy boats" look as if they could capsize easily. I remember hearing about a liberty boat capsizing in Haifa, killing all (or nearly all) who was on it (during the Gulf War).

Apparently, the officers didn't think so either. So they brought out all of the life vests and started lading them onto the liberty boats. It was about 1900 or 2000 [hours] when they called "LIBERTY CALL." I left the ship at 2030 [hours] with Dan Stamate, who has been to Egypt last year. We waited an hour in the liberty line. When we set foot on Egyptian soil (a new continent for me) at 2100 [hours], I was relieved. It was reality for me. The first thing I did was get Egyptian pounds...about $250 worth. It was a wait of 15 minutes or so. Stamate and I then went to Kentucky Fried Chicken and ate supper.

Afterwards, we walked toward the hoopla. Before crossing the street from the fleet landing area, 2 Egyptians came to meet us and offered to be our guides. Stamate was reluctant, but I thought one would be useful in order to find some things I'm looking for. They want to bring us to a store that sells gold. Stamate agrees and we follow them. One of the guides looks like the bad Colombian "butcher" in the film Romancing The Stone and speaks English well. The other didn't speak much at all.

The gold store is full of other Americans and their guides. I didn't come to buy gold, so I asked where I could buy Egyptian clothes. At one store, I bought a robe. I saw a cool looking vest that they wanted $30 for. I said it was too much. The store owner used his hands to feel the vest -- indicating quality. I still said it was too much and offered $15. They laughed at me for making a ridiculous proposal. I turned and left and said, "Maybe tomorrow." The store owner accepted $15. I got the last laugh.

Walking around Alexandria at night was interesting. There were cars driving all over the place. And the amount of trash was unbelievable! There were trash heaps all over the place, in the middle of the street even. Once, while trying to cross the street, I nearly got run over by a taxi. The guide warned me to get out of the way and then cussed at the driver for me. "Fuck you!" he yelled. Stamate and I looked at each other in disbelief. Strange, I tell ya!

The guides took us from store to store. Stamate didn't buy anything. I bought a headdress, some slippers, 3 tapes of Egyptian pop music, a prayer carpet (for $25 -- my best purchase), and a few other items. The guides kept wanting to take us to the same gold store. They must get a big commission there or something. I wasn't interested in gold. I couldn't get a Kartouche for less than $30 so I decided not to get one, in case I see a bunch of things I want to get to send to people (those statues).

There were people all over the place and I wasn't really culture-shocked. Alexandria is much more Westernized than I thought it would be. Many people wore Western clothes--including the ladies. All the ladies I saw wore long sleeve shirts and pants. Some wore more traditional wear. A bit of them covered their heads, but not many covered their faces. There were plenty of beautiful women. I was impressed.

The guides wanted to take us all over. They asked if we wanted to buy clothes--but I passed. I told them that I wanted distinctly Egyptian souvenirs only. They took us to a shop that sold Western clothes. While walking down one street, a boy of about 7 or 8 years old asked if I wanted to buy Papyrus with Egyptian paintings on them.

I said, "Banana leaves!"

"No banana leaves!" the boy said as he crumpled the Papyrus up. I bought 3 for $3. They are banana leaves. I just wanted the Egyptian paintings. They will look nice in a frame. Papyrus is expensive. There's no way it would cost $3 for 3. I made the kid happy.

On our way back to fleet landing, a teenage boy with brass Egyptian statues came up to me and said, "I sell you for good price." He offered a set of 7 for $35. I didn't like 2 of them. We negotiated and my final offer was 5 statues for $15. He took it. What a deal I got!

At fleet landing, our guides wanted money for taking us around. Stamate said no, since they received a commission on everything I bought in a store. We told them tomorrow. They had that word--with good reason. We caught the midnight lbierty boat to the ship. I was amazed with the 3 hours of pure bliss in Alexandria. I felt like a celebrity with people swarming me to buy something. Its a great feeling. I spent about $120 tonight and I have a lot to show for it.

The waves were rough and as we got to the ship, it was dangerous to jump off the liberty boat onto the barge. One CPO yelled at me for jumping too soon. I made it safely aboard, and tried to go to sleep--excited to see the Pyramids finally. Tomorrow is the big day. A childhood dream come true.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Music Video Monday: George Michael (Wham!)

George Michael turns 49 today. My favourite song by him is "Love Is In Need Of Love Today", but since I featured that song in a Music Video post back in 2008, no need to repeat it again. He has a lot of songs to choose from. For today's selection, I chose "Everything She Wants", which was a popular song at the end of my 7th grade year. It's actually my favourite Wham! song. I always liked the nasty funk to it. In fact, I consider this song to be one of the most sexual songs ever recorded. The melody has a very sexual vibe to it and based on the lyrics, it sounds like George Michael is a gigolo.

His popularity soared in 1987-1988 when he released his Faith album, which was the best selling album of 1988, if I'm not mistaken. It's hard to believe that he was only 25 years old when his singles from his solo debut album kept going straight to #1. All the girls in my class had a crush on him and a few guys believed that George Michael was gay and would taunt the girls with that. I was not a fan, though I liked a few songs. I was definitely not a fan of his ballads. I could not understand why "Father Figure" made it to the top of the singles chart. I did like "One More Try." I did not like "Kissing a Fool" (too jazzy). His later albums would continue his mellowing out, with "Praying For Time", "Jesus to a Child" and other forgettable songs. I prefer the rhythms of his "I Want Your Sex", "Monkey", "Faith", "Freedom '90", "Too Funky", "Happy", "Fastlove", "Outside", and his Wham! hits "I'm Your Man", "Everything She Wants", "The Edge of Heaven", and "Freedom." The only ballad that I really like, though, is "Careless Whisper."

Happy Birthday, George Michael. Hope your last year in your 40s is no "Monkey."

Friday, June 22, 2012

Personal Ad as Questionnaire

The following is a personal ad that I thought was creative and unique. I did not respond to this one, but have decided to answer her questions on my blog. The actual ad's wording will be in bold print and my response will be in regular print, so I don't have to repeat the questions or the reader has to scroll up and down to see what the question is for each of my answers.

I love questionnaires. In fact, when my best friend Nicholas and I wrote letters to one another, he sometimes had a "Question Query" which I loved answering. Nowadays, who has time to write letters? We have email, Facebook, blogs and cell phones. However, it is nice to see a personal ad that utilizes this interesting way to get to know someone. If any of my readers want to know anything about me, please feel free to email me a questionnaire and it might appear on a future blog post.

Nine questions

Date: 2012-06-20, 10:01PM

1. Would you rather visit an art museum or a science museum? Art museum. Science bores me.

2. Can people genuinely be "just friends" with an ex? Yes. It's a sign of maturity or spiritual evolution. If you like people, why not? Recognizing that a romantic love is not possible does not mean two former lovers cannot remain as friends.

3. Your best friend was involved in a hit-and-run. Do you cover for him/her? As much as I consider myself a loyal friend and willing to do anything for those who are in my "first tier" of friendship, from a spiritual standpoint, I would tell my best friend to do the honorable thing and fess up. There's no escaping the karmic implications of a hit and run.

4. When someone sneezes, what are you most likely to say? Usually nothing because I always get embarrassed when someone acknowledges my sneezes and wish people would not say anything. However, sometimes, I'll say "gesundheit" because I think it sounds cool.

5. If a cashier gave you too much change, would you return it? What if you didn't discover the mistake until you were out of the store? It has happened and I have. If I discover the mistake after I was out of the store, it would depend on how much and how far away from the store that I made the discover. Anything under a quarter, I probably wouldn't bother. A dollar or more and I would definitely go back to the store no matter the distance.

6. You are taking a class. What are you learning? Psychology.

7. You are teaching a class. What do you teach? How to recognize propaganda, manipulative advertising, dishonesty, hypocrisy, and cult tactics so you can be empowered instead of manipulated into doing things against your own best interest.

8. You have one of these things in your hand. Which and why? Beer/wine/joint/cigarette/cigar. A book because I don't drink beer; wine makes my allergies go bezerk; I don't smoke at all. I'm into books though and try to read as much as I can.

9. What questions do you have for me? Would you rather live in Oregon forever without being allowed to leave the state or to live in a foreign country forever and never be allowed to set foot in the United States ever again?

You're right. That's technically more than nine. Let's just pretend you didn't notice that.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Journal Excerpt: Corfu

Twenty years ago on 19 June 1992, the ship I was stationed aboard, the USS Orion, made a port visit to the Greek island of Corfu, which is off the northwestern coast of Greece and close to Albania (the poorest and most isolated country in Europe). The island also has ferry service to Bari and Brindisi, Italy, on the Adriatic Coast. Corfu is my only experience with Greece. I never made it to Athens, as I had hoped. As Greece makes front page news now, regarding their debt crisis and potential defaulting, it was interesting to read what I wrote in my journal (Volume XXIX: The Age of Discovery in Autonomy).

The picture above (lifted from a Google image search) is of a famous church in Corfu and seen on many postcards. I did not actually see the real thing. I have no clue where it was located. I only saw a small portion of Corfu. Mainly, the main city of Corfu (Kerkira) and the resort town directly north: Ypsos.

After the picture of the main city of Corfu below is my journal excerpt from 1992. Enjoy!

1992 June 19 * Friday

The Orion pulled into cove of Corfu. I was excited...not so much to see Corfu as I was to get a glimpse of Albania -- Europe's most backward nation. All I saw were black hills -- thick with trees.

I wasn't planning to go on liberty tonight. However, I missed supper and didn't want to starve -- so I kind of had to go on liberty. The liberty boats were nice than the ones in Spain. They were similar to the ones in Naples. When the trash barge was brought alongside, I was amazed at some Greeks digging through the trash we chuck alongside. One man found himself an old looking ballcap! The ship ballcaps seem to be a popular item. Everyone seems to want one. I can't believe that they would dig through garbage to get one.

Out in town at fleet landing, one guy who is working as the CO's Pantry Mess crank said that the town of Ypsos is where "everyone" was heading. So we split a cab and went over. The town of Ypsos is one long strip much like Panama City Beach -- one restaurant, souvenir store, and hotel after another. Tourist city.

We went to a restaurant to eat first. We picked an Italian restaurant. I also ordered a bottle of Greek wine. After the meal, we kind of split. I went shopping for some cool Greek souvenirs.

[Petty Officer] Page was staying at a hotel. He wanted some of my wine -- which was fine with me because I didn't drink it all and felt like a wino carrying it around. We talked for a little bit before I left to check out the clubs.i

There were a lot of British and Irish girls all over the place. In fact, Chief Harper gave me a pack of 3 condoms which he wanted me to use by the time we leave Corfu. Mighty incourageable [SIC] of him!

At one clothing store called CALCUTTA CLOTHING, I was impressed with the style of clothing -- very international, inspired by styles from Asia. I bought a purple and magenta striped drawstring pants, a purple pullover, and a black vest. The owner of the store was nice and friendly. He spoke English well. He said that he designed and made the clothes himself. He travels to India and other countries for inspiration. He asked where I was from and when I said "Atlanta", he immediately mentioned the 1996 Olympics. He laughed about it, though. I expect some Greeks would be sore over the loss. It was nice to carry on a conversation with a friendly store owner after experiencing the coldness of those in Madrid.

While boarding the liberty boat to return to the Orion, one drunk guy missed his step between the pier and the boat and fell into the water! That scared a lot of people because it was dark out and we couldn't see him. The guy turned out alright -- just got the scare of his life, that's all.

1992 June 20 * Saturday

Blair and I went to Ypsos to get a hotel for the night. We were hoping to meet some British babes and wanted to stay out late. Things didn't work out that way, however. We spent most of the afternoon at the beach in Ypsos. The beach is a narrow strip between the road and the water. Its a pebble beach -- not sand. A majority of the women were topless - so we got an eye full. There were a lot of women at the beach.

Walking around, I kept thinking of Hawaii, for some reason. While shopping, Coleman saw me and said that I got a package from the French girl. I was surprised actually. I wasn't expecting one. Coleman then said, "Don't cum on me!" in such a vulgar way that pissed me off. I left without saying anything. He's been an ass on the whole underway.

All of the bars seem to have English employees and advertise karaoke. I had a drink at one and they were playing a new song by Wet Wet Wet. It was a relaxing vacation, to be in Ypsos. However, I ran into Orion sailors all over. I even saw Stephen Russell riding a moped -- which the Orion [CO] forbid! He's a lawbreaker -- but he wasn't the only one. There were several people from the Orion on mopeds.

In the evening, we went to the MWR special dinner, which was out in the boonies. I thought it was going to be more like at a special restaurant for a relaxing meal -- but just like in Ibiza last year, I was in for a rude awakening. This was a touristy Greek dinner and entertainment. We all got our photos taken on the way in -- with a man and woman in traditional Greek costume.

In a great big open room, everyone sat at very long tables. Blair and I sat near the XO, Commander Golden (bleah!) and his wife (who is a riot! She knows how to party!). There was a group of dependent wives who came to be with their hubbies. Corfu has a ferry service to and from Brindisi and Bari, Italy.

Anyhow, the food was pretty good. We were served all at once. I drank a bit too much of the Greek wine. It was a cheap house wine that you had to get refills of yourself for the table. Blair got the refill for our section of the table -- out back from a big barrel with a faucet on the end. The highlight of the evening was the Greek dancing -- performed by the restaurant employees (in traditional wear) -- and the thing that I've always wanted to see...the breaking of dishes! The plates they used were chipped, of course. Why waste good china? They broke a lot of plates while one dancer continued dancing--trying not to fall, a challenge, nevertheless.

When we left, I was drunk. I bought a copy of my photograph. I threw up on the bus ride back to fleet landing. Fortunately, I got all of it into the plastic bag that Blair happened to have. The bus was nearly empty--so that was good. At fleet landing in Corfu, I was tired and decided to lie down. Some people said that I was lying in the middle of the road, but I didn't believe them. Shore patrol wanted to bring me back to the ship because I was drunk. I insisted that I wasn't drunk and that we were waiting for the bus to Ypsos since we had a hotel. They wanted me to return to the ship, but Blair somehow talked them into letting me go to the hotel. They gave us a ride there. At the hotel room, I decided to rest a bit before going out to meet some babes.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"Rock of Ages" Will Rock You

I wasn't sure if I would see this film, but due to a lack of great movie options at the moment and that I'm a fan of 80s music, I figured, "why not?" So, on Father's Day, I went to see Rock of Ages. I had never heard of this Broadway musical before. I did hear about the making of the movie because of the attention in the entertainment media about Tom Cruise playing an 80s hair 'n metal rock star. However, I didn't realize that the movie was not about the life of a fictional rock god (played by Tom Cruise). It's an ensemble film. A "musical", or what is referred to as "jukebox musical" (a term that is applied to Broadway shows: Movin' Out, Footloose, Mamma Mia!, The Jersey Boys, and Rock of Ages). These "musicals" take already familiar music from a music artist's / group's catalog and create a story around it, rather than offering all new music like the classic musicals (think Rodgers & Hammerstein or Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice). Back in the 1980s, movie musicals were less West Side Story or Singing In The Rain, and more Footloose, Top Gun, or Dirty Dancing. A story with a rocking soundtrack as background music.

Since I love many of the songs that played on the radio in the 1980s, I did not think seeing this movie would be that big of a risk. Even if I did not like the story or the acting, I knew I'd love the music and I was ready to be surprised. And was I! In a good way. The movie's storyline is not original (typical plot about young people going to Hollywood with a dream of fame in their eyes and learning the cold reality that there's a lot of young people with the same dream competing for the same chance). However, the characters are likable. The story focuses on a young couple. Everyone else are just secondary characters. The female lead, Sherrie Christian (a convenient name so that the film can use the awesome 80s ballads "Oh Sherry" and "Sister Christian"), is a young girl fresh off the Greyhound from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She meets a young man who works at a bar / music venue on the Hollywood Strip. He dreams of leading his own rock band and manages to get the new girl a job at the same place.

Alec Baldwin plays the owner of that club and Russell Brand (whom I do not like, though he is quite hilarious in the film) is his assistant. Catherine Zeta-Jones plays a Tipper Gore-like outraged political wife on a crusade to clean up music. Her husband is running for reelection as Mayor of Los Angeles and he has a secret fetish his wife doesn't know about. She has a deep secret of her own. It wasn't too difficult to figure out. Mary J. Blige plays an owner of a strip club, where Sherrie Christian ends up waitressing before realizing that more money is to be made if she dances around a pole and other stripper routines.

The best part of the movie, besides the music, is the unique performance of Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx, who is a mix of Axl Rose and Bret Michaels with a dash of David Lee Roth. He has played unique characters before: the masogynistic self-help guru in Magnolia and the foul-mouthed and crassly vulgar movie mogul in Tropic Thunder. However, this goes even further. He's drunk or drugged or both and rambles incoherent thoughts to his manager (played by the often maniacal Paul Giamatti), the club owner, and a reporter for Rolling Stone magazine. Even more amazing, Tom Cruise actually sings: "Paradise City", "Wanted: Dead or Alive", "I Want To Know What Love Is", and "Pour Some Sugar On Me." This is the Tom Cruise who could not sing at all. Exhibit "A": "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" in Top Gun. Exhibit "B": "Free Fallin'" in Jerry Maguire. However, I was quite surprised by his performance here. His songs aren't that bad. In particular, "Pour Some Sugar On Me" is actually pretty decent and gives Def Leppard a run for their money.

The scene between him and the reporter was pretty intense and steamy. It was also actually funny. Stacee Jaxx only falls for the reporter when she tells him the truth about what not only she thinks of him, but also other music critics: that the only reason he's going solo is because his band mates can no longer tolerate him. He's unreliable and in some drugged out reality most of the time. He's used to beautiful women throwing themselves at him. He even sleeps on a bed with about five women sleeping on top of him. Yeah, he does excess like only an 80s rock god could!

The film is set in 1987, at the height of the hair-metal band craze. That was the year of Whitesnake's "Here I Go" and "Is This Love?"; Bon Jovi's "Living On a Prayer"; Europe's "The Final Countdown" and "Carrie"; and even Christian hair metal band Stryper ("To Hell With the Devil"). Rock of Ages has a wide range of music that they used. It wasn't just the music of the popular hair-metal bands Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Guns 'n Roses, Poison, Twisted Sister, Extreme, and Warrant, but also REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, Journey, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and Starship. Thankfully, there were no songs by Iron Maiden, Motley Crue, Dokken, Ratt, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Gwar, Metallica, and other hardcore metal bands. However, the lack of Van Halen songs tells me that the producers were probably unable to get the rights to use it. Otherwise, how could this oversight happen? Van Halen was the best of the hair metal bands and their hit singles was hard rock at its best. A David Lee Roth song does appear in the movie, though: "Just Like Paradise." Though there is much talk in the film about rock 'n roll, the soundtrack was definitely aimed at a mass audience because only a small fringe likes the music of the "real hair metal bands." When I was in high school, for example, I did not know any guy who would admit to liking Bon Jovi. They were considered to be "the chick's hair metal band."

What I loved most about this film are the "mash-ups", where two songs are combined into one. It makes some interesting new songs that way. Here were the mash-ups: "Juke Box Hero / I Love Rock 'n Roll", "More Than Words" / "Heaven", "Shadows of the Night" / "Harden My Heart", and "We Built This City" / "We're Not Gonna Take It."

Try sitting still and not singing along as you watch this film. Rock of Ages might not be original in its plot / storyline nor is it a great movie, but it was fun. It was nostalgic. I left the theater wanting to hop into a DeLorean for quick trip to 1987...or probably 1988, which is my favourite year in music. The film did make me buy the soundtrack, though. The song selections were perfect. If you plan to see it, get ready to get rocked!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Personal Ad Using an Unrecommended Word

We don't have a word for the opposite of loneliness. - 23 (SW pdx)

Date: 2012-06-06, 10:58PM PDT

Ill be 24 this December. It's quite lonely living by yourself, even when you have 2 dogs and a kitten as I myself do. I moved here 8 months ago and I am not very good at meeting people, boys in particular minus the ones that only want to dive into my pants.

I just quit smoking cigarettes and I don't drink hard A, only beer and not even too much at that. I obviously love animals since I keep a small zoo at my 1 bedroom apt lol.

I am always in and out of college, don't know if I'll ever finish. School has never really been my thing. Family is of utmost importance to me. I also Love children although i have none of my own.I have a rather large balcony garden. I don't drink coffee it gives me a stomachache. I am a meat eater. I bike or bus everywhere. Yes I ride a fixed gear.

I am told I am quite beautiful although beauty is completely in the eye of the beholder. I am modified. Meaning I have big floppy ears and a lot of (meaningful not trashy) tattoos. I also have dreadlocks. They are quite nice in my opinion. I am 5'7 and 125# So if any of that bothers you then please don't waste my time. Oh and just because i have tattoos doesn't make it some kind of requirement that you do. Just wanted to put that out there. More like 25-27? Someone sensitive but confident in themselves. Someone who reads books and has useful tidbits of information that can be surprising or funny stored in their brain. Maybe someone who writes or plays an instrument (i play a few, cello is my favorite). Maybe you ride a bike too (and aren't a douchebag about it). Great smiles are a plus. I'm not Super into this whole Portland facial hair thing but I take it on a case by case basis. Someone who's not afraid to sing out loud. Good in the sack and knows it (but again not an showoff about it). STD free. Self sufficiency is a must. I have spent years taking care of others instead of myself and I'm not looking to backtrack. We are all a little bit broken inside but I don't have the time or energy to spend on someone completely shattered. Tall and lanky. Or just tall. Huge muscles were never for me, sorry. Don't be spoiled or self entitled-it's the two traits I cannot stand in human beings.

I work a full time job at an obnoxiously popular place here in ptown. Oh, I'm a Sagittarius. I don't have tons of time but the spare time I do have..well it'd be nice to have someone to spend it with.

I guess email me if any of this sounds intriguing? Your pic gets mine. Enjoy your evening and happy hunting.
This ad reveals too much information actually: in and out of college and unsure if she'll ever finish; coffee gives her stomachaches; she has big, floppy ears; etc. I find her writing style to be quite rambling, and based on her claim of being in and out of college, her ad gives me the impression that she's kind of flaky or spacey. Not a good quality to have for a stable relationship.

I've read in some advice columns that when writing a personal ad, using the word "lonely" is a major no-no because it gives the reader the impression that the person is needy and unable to function alone. Even if a person is lonely (we all experience moments of loneliness), it's not something that needs to be said in an ad. To me, it's a "red flag word". Interesting for me, BYU cured me of "loneliness." As a non-Mormon, my years at BYU were the loneliest years of my life. Even the Universe seemed to acknowledge this, because a popular song on the radio during my first semester was Boyz II Men's "4 Seasons of Loneliness" and a popular song on the radio during my last semester two years later was Backstreet Boys' "Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely." BYU definitely showed me the meaning of being lonely! It's the inability to connect with another human being at a deep level of being. This happens a lot in our shallow, superficial society. Is loneliness a problem in tribal culture? I've read that loneliness is a much bigger problem in Western societies and especially in the United States, where individualism is promoted as the ideal. Individualism in the sense of "I don't need you, I don't need anyone."

Based on her ad title, what would be the opposite word for loneliness? I'd probably use words like "invested" or "connected." For me, I never feel "lonely" when I'm alone. I feel it more when I'm in a social gathering and trying to find someone to talk to and the feeling becomes heightened if the person I make the attempt to talk to actually excuses herself from the conversation. So, what is loneliness? Why do I never feel it when I'm alone but always feel it when I'm alone in a crowded room full of strangers?

This lady is young and has plenty of time to find the answer for herself. Based on her ad, she does not seem to know what she wants. She even wrote a contradictory message. In the first paragraph, she complains about meeting only men who want to "dive in her pants." Later on, she mentions wanting a guy who is "good in the sack and knows it (but not a showoff about it)." What does that mean, anyway? Like I said, the girl is young. She'll figure it out someday. Or not. She asks for email if anyone finds her ad "intriguing." Well, I don't. She sounds boring and wishy-washy to me. Not that I would respond to her ad anyway. The age gap is too wide, which means a huge life experience and possibly intellect gap. And like many other ads, she mentioned wanting a "tall and lanky" guy..."or just tall." Even though she's 5'7". It's the high heels, am I right? The reason women want a tall man is so that she can wear high heels and still not tower over her man. Well, that would be silly, because I've heard many women complain about how uncomfortable high heels are to wear (it bends the feet in such an unnatural way and keeps the feet in that position for however long the shoes are worn). Why wear them? Weren't the invented in the first place so that short women could be closer in height to their men? If one doesn't have to wear high heels, why do it?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Music Video Monday: Paula Abdul

Tomorrow, Paula Abdul turns the B I G 5 0!! Half a century. Wow. Most of the people now know her as that wacky judge on American Idol who seemed drunk or on drugs all the time, while sending her love to all the Idol singers, especially when the mean ole' Simon Cowell was especially harsh in his accurate judgements. It has actually been heartbreaking to see the trajectory of Paula Abdul, whom I once had a crush on (when I was a junior in high school).

Paula Abdul first hit the charts in the fall of 1988 with her single "Straight Up", which featured Arsenio Hall in the music video. I forget which, but this was not the first single released from her debut album Forever Your Girl. One or possible two singles were released but failed to chart. "Straight Up" was pretty catchy, though, and should have been the lead single. It was a hit. Other hits followed, including "Forever Your Girl", "Opposites Attract", "Cold Hearted" (one of my all-time favourite videos because it has great choreography, I love the way she sings really fast and the sound of those words smashed together, and the uptempo violin playing was something I never heard before), "The Way That You Love Me", and "Knocked Out." It was a good debut.

Abdul got her start as one of the L.A. Lakers cheerleaders. She had a choreography career going (the dance sequences in the beginning of Eddie Murphy's Coming to America was her creation) and she was one of Janet Jackson's girlfriends in the music video to "What Have You Done For Me Lately?" (I still think it's someone else's voice that she lip sync's when she says: "I know he used to do nice stuff for you, but what has he done for you lately?"). Besides her catchy hits, I liked her ethnic mix. You did not know what her make-up is. She's not exactly Caucasian. Is she part black? Arab? Hispanic? I'm a sucker for mixed-race women and hope to find one for my wife. However, Paula Abdul is definitely not it.

In 1991, her sophomore album came out. I was in Navy Basic Training, near the end of my training, when her lead single "Rush Rush" was released. This song always makes me think of those euphoric end of days at boot camp and the summer at "A" School in Mississippi. In fact, "Rush Rush" was my favourite single of 1991 and is my all time favourite Paula Abdul song. In the video, she remakes Rebel Without a Cause, featuring actor Keanu Reeves, who was known for Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. His acting is every bit as wooded here as it is in most of his movies. Hard to believe that he would achieve phenomenal success by decade's end with The Matrix. The second single was "Promise of a New Day", which is also a great and optimistic song...from a year that was full of optimism (we had just won a victorious war in the Persian Gulf and President George Herbert Walker Bush proclaimed that we had "kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all!"). The album, though, wasn't all that great. One of the songs on the album is called "Will U Marry Me?" In that decade, she ended up being married to Emilio Estevez for a short period of time (I thought that was an unlikely pairing).

In 1995, her third album was released and was forgettable, even though she experimented with a Middle Eastern sound on at least one song. Sometime in the mid-2000s, an American Idol reject had one of the funniest exits ever. It was some large African American lady who launched a series of bleeped out explicitives in which she claimed to be a better singer than Paula Abdul who "hadn't had a hit single in 20 damn years." Yeah, whatever.

Paula Abdul had about 10 really good songs in her. She, unfortunately, has not aged well. I fear that she's become a lush. I want to know, "what the hell happened?!?" How could someone who made a brilliant song like "Rush Rush" not make music any more? That's one song that is on my list to play at my wedding reception someday. I love the feeling it evokes in me. Hopefully, I'll meet a lady who feels the same way. It's a beautiful love song and a classic that has held up well in the following two decades.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day ("Star Wars" Edition)

Someone posted this on Facebook and I couldn't resist posting it on my blog. I'm a big fan of the entire Star Wars saga (yes, I'm a Generation X'er who actually loves the prequel trilogy. Not only that, but I also love Jar Jar Binks!). I owe a deep appreciation of gratitude to my father for taking me, as a five year old in the summer of 1977 to this unique space opera. He was 28 years old and I was starting Kindergarten in the fall. I don't really remember seeing it in the theater as much as I remember being really impressed with the movie. I loved R2-D2 the most and got one as my first action figure, though I think I was C-3PO for Halloween that year.

The film poster of Star Wars is probably my favourite film poster of all time. I remember just staring at it as a child and being filled with awe and wonder. When I would pretend, I imagined myself to be Luke Skywalker. When my dad was growing up, his childhood hero was Davy Crockett (it was a popular television program when he was young). It's an amazing gap. When my dad was a child, his adventures included pretending that he was some folkloric hero from America's frontier days (he said that every boy wanted a coonskin cap) while the next generation, my childplay adventures were set in outer space, with my bicycle doubling as an X-Wing fighter (I learned how to ride a bike without training wheels in 1980 when Empire Strikes Back came out).

In the summer of 1999, when The Phantom Menace played on movie screens, I felt a personal twinge of regret. I was the same age that my dad was in 1977, but I did not have a young son to take to see the Star Wars prequel. I was in college at the time and one of my roommates said that maybe I would have a child by the time Episode III was released in 2005. That didn't happen either. And now, for the next six years, George Lucas is bringing back the entire saga in 3-D for another fleecing of his loyal fanbase...and I still don't have a son to indulge in this father-son bonding moment.

For all those who are fathers (one of my friends just had his first child born on Thursday...nice timing!), enjoy the experience! I really hope that I get to be a father someday. To my own father, I thank him for taking his son to see a movie like this and letting the movies inspire his childhood adventures. My dad would never buy me G.I. Joe, though the plastic green army figures were okay. But it was the space fantasies of George Lucas (and Steven Spielberg) that fired my imaginations. My only birthday party in 1981 was space themed. I'm more grounded these days (it's hard to keep a Capricorn up in Cloud City), but I'll never forget the impact this film series had on my life and imagination. The Force is definitely strong in my life...and may it be with you as well.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

At Long Last, The Lady Gives Her Nobel Peace Prize Address

Earlier today, at long last, Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma finally gives her Nobel Peace Prize Address. She was awarded the prestigious prize 21 years ago. She has been under house arrest for at least 15 of those years. When she wasn't under house arrest, she was free to leave, with the understanding that the ruling military junta would not allow her to re-enter the country. This was especially brutal when her husband, Michael Aris, died of cancer. After the recent elections and the relaxing of some of the more oppressive rules, Aung San Suu Kyi is now able to travel outside of Burma on a goodwill tour, with stops in Switzerland (where she fell ill during a press conference in Geneva), Norway, and her adopted home of the United Kingdom (where her sons live, if I'm not mistaken).

In 1991, her eldest son Alexander Aris gave the Nobel Peace Prize address on his mother's behalf. He was about 18 years old at the time. In the excellent biopic, The Lady, the scene where Aung San Suu Kyi is excited yet anxious to hear the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony on the BBC is a powerful and heart-wretching scene. I couldn't hold back tears as she (played by Michelle Yeoh) was touched that her son was giving the speech on her behalf and again when she went to the piano to play along with the orchestra's Pachelbel's Canon in D (the first piece of classical music that I really loved).

I was excited to hear this speech as soon as it was posted on YouTube. 21 years may seem like a long time, but at some point, you realize the relativity of time and it feels like only yesterday. I'm happy to see what I consider to be the world's most beautiful woman (since the passing of Lady Diana Spencer in 1997) finally give her speech before the Nobel committee and the international audience. This is one ceremony that I wish that I could have gone to. Here's to a great Lady and the continual improvement of life in Burma. The Burmese have suffered far long enough. It's time for their country to rejoin the family of nations.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Personal Ad as an Act of Public Service

Continuing my series on analyzing personal ads from Craigslist, here is an interesting ad that actually gives helpful tips to clueless guys about what women want. Anything that helps in the understanding process (Mars, meet Venus) between the genders is a good thing.

I think I'm looking for the impossible - 28 (hillsboro)

Date: 2012-06-06, 12:14AM PDT

Hey looking for ltr or some thing more than fwb or booty call. I'm 5'5 please be taller than me. The taller the better. I'm no Barbie, but I'm not fat...maybe a lil chubby. Please be hwp, you don't have to have rippling muscles, don't mind a lil extra. I'm drug free and prefer you be also, alto I do smoke when drinking. I have two awesome kids, a job,a car, my own place. Please have the ability to communicate, not play games or have any drama. I'm very much a Jeans and t shirt kinda girl and have many hobbies....look forward to talking to you...if there is any one out there like I am describing....

Please change subject line so I know you are real... FAV movie or something:-)

1. For 99% of women its not how much you make but the fact that you work to make something.

2. Its not the price of the gift but the thought that went into it.

3. Take care of the little things...the rest will fall into place.

4. Never go a day without trying to make her laugh... No matter how bad things get if you can laugh at life then you already won.

5. Always try to be in the moment... If you keep thinking about what could be... you miss out on what is.

6. Women like to talk about there problems.. Men like to fix things. Don't...9 times out of 10 the girl knows what to do she just wants to vent. the job as men is to just shut the F&ck up and listen. sometimes with a woman, doing less means more. Doing absolutely nothing and just listening will get you farther than you think... (yes I know this goes against logic guys... you are logical creatures but women are emotional creatures.)

7. know that when a woman is done... she is done. When that switch turns off its off for good. Men can go back and forth... women don't. So don't let it ever get to that point. Just take care of her emotions and that switch will never turn off.

8. Learn how to cook... You will be amazed at the results you get. Heres a fact... ALL FOOD IS A APHRODISIAC IF YOU GET OFF YOUR ASS AND COOK FOR HER FOR ONCE!!! Lol

9. Jealousy never works... If your the one that takes care of us emotionally and are the one that is there for us when we need you... we could be in a room full of Chip & Dales and will be thinking of you. You ever see a hot woman with a average guy and think to yourself Why him? What does he have that you don't? Its not what he has but what he DOES! (Or maybe he can part his hair with his tongue) Lol... j/k

10. Last but not least... FOREPLAY FOREPLAY FOREPLAY!!! Lol... you don't get rewarded for how fast you do it. Quickies are great sometimes but DAMN... slow down and enjoy the moment. Take care of us first and I guarantee you that you will get yours. Here is a tip... If you don't know what turns a girl on... F&cking ask!!!


These 10 tips for guys on how to treat a woman is definitely helpful and worth saving. However, she did not explain why women want tall men. She says that she's 5'5 and wants a tall guy, "the taller, the better." Why? The magic number in many ads seems to be 6'0". If you're beneath that, it's like many women have that sign from carnivals: "you must be at least this tall to ride." It is the sign of shame for many guys who aren't blessed enough to reach 6'0". To me, that seems to be a shallow requirement. A person has no control over the height they reached. Sure, diet may affect it somewhat. However, when I was at my grandmother's funeral in 2005, her husband and their five sons all stood in a line for a photograph. All of them were the same height (and I'm the same height as my dad and uncles). The officiating minister saw our cousin (who was adopted) and remarked, "I know who inherited the height in this family!" He had no idea that the cousin was adopted, but it caused laughter.

My roommate in D.C. and fellow BYU Washington Seminar intern Matt had a great girlfriend (they've been married for 12 years now) who told me that she almost did not date Matt because he wasn't tall enough. Matt is about the same height as me. He has a great personality and is a good looking guy. Several girls on the internship program had their eyes on him and his girlfriend made several trips from Utah to be with him in Washington, D.C. that semester (I suspected that she feared some other lady stealing him away, but from my end I saw a guy who was faithful and in love with only Anna. He did not seem to be aware that a few girls on the program were interested in him, including the professor's daughter who wanted me to divulge everything I knew about Matt). I asked Anna (Matt's wife) why height was so important to her. She said that she likes to "feel small", like he would be her protector. Sounds like the psychological concept of the Electra Complex (the female version of the Oedipus Complex). But at least she had the good sense to realize that a catch is a catch, despite her personal preferences. She was willing to overlook height because Matt had all the other qualities that she found attractive.

I do find it interesting that many women seem to have that 6'0" height requirement and yet they think it is "shallow" if a guy has a "weight requirement." Well, one can always lose the weight if they have enough willpower, but no one can grow any taller after they've reached their full growth. Which is more shallow? Dismissing a person for something that they cannot change or dismissing someone for something that they can change but refuse to?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Shallow Movie Known As "Shallow Hal"

Recently, I decided to watch the film Shallow Hal, which I had never seen before. I had several reasons why I did not want to see it when it first came out a decade ago: 1) I don't like the sensibilities of the Farrelly brothers (they specialize in crude humour); 2) I don't like Jack Black at all (he's never been funny in my opinion and I don't understand his appeal); and 3) this film seems especially crude regarding "weight issues" even as it tries to pretend that it's deep.

Since moving to Portland in 2006, I have somehow fallen into some kind of unbreakable pattern. There have been six women in these years who have expressed a romantic interest in me, yet every single one of them is obese. I'm not attracted to obesity at all. There is nothing that is physically attractive about obesity, and I apologize if this offends anyone, but it's my honest truth. The human body was not designed to be obese. This is symptomatic of our culture, with promotes lazy convenience with fast food restaurants, drive-thru so you don't even have to exit your car (not that this is entirely a bad thing), prepared frozen foods, and something else that seems to have a devastating effect: our growth-hormone injected cattle, which gets passed on into our bodies when we eat such treated beef.

As I read through the personal ads on Craigslist, I find an incredible amount of ladies who use the term "BBW" (for "big, beautiful woman"). Big girls need love too. A friend of mine thinks I'm being "shallow" because I won't date a woman who is larger than me (I'm 5'7" and 168 pounds, which is 18 pounds above my ideal weight, so it has forced me to consider a diet plan as well as get serious about a fitness regimen). Yet my friend is physically fit and so is his girlfriend. He has never dated an obese woman himself and his girlfriend has never dated an obese man before. It irks me when I am honest about my not being attracted to obese women and my friend won't admit the same, making me out to be a shallow cad.

This is not to say that obese women are bad or unworthy of love or not worth knowing. It's simply saying that we need to be honest about ourselves and understand how attraction works. Why are people accepting of homosexuality? Most people understand when a gay man says that he is not attracted to women, even though he may believe such a woman is physically attractive. Just that he is not attracted to her for whatever reasons that go to the root of his DNA. If this is acceptable, why is it not acceptable for a man to say that he is not physically attracted to an obese woman? Throughout human history, obesity was not a major problem for most people. It's only recently become an epidemic, where large percentage of the American population is now considered to be obese or overweight. As one who has been bone skinny for most of my life, I know too well the personal rejection for being "too skinny" for some women. Attraction is a necessary part of a romantic relationship. We can't force people to be attracted to body types that they aren't attracted to, no matter how wonderful the person might be. Is it shallow?

Look at the pictures below of actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who stars in Shallow Hal. On the left is her natural self. On the right is her with latex makeup and a fat suit on. Ask yourself why she is attractive in one picture but not the other one.

In the movie, Hal plays a supposedly shallow guy who only dates beautiful women, even though he's just average looking himself. One neighbour in his apartment that he has his eye on won't even date him because she thinks he's shallow. She's beautiful, so obviously, she would have her pick among men. If she only dates handsome men, what does that make her? Deep? Hardly! Superficiality goes both ways. It's not just a label you can stick on men who aren't attracted to obese or BBW women.

Hal's world changes when he's stuck in an elevator with self-help guru Tony Robbins (I never understood the appeal of this guy). Robbins puts some kind of spell on Hal, which makes him see a person's "inner beauty" in everyone he meets. When he encounters Gwyneth Paltrow for the first time, he sees a thin, beautiful knock-out. Everyone else sees a 350-pound woman who breaks chairs in restaurants (a running gag that I did not find funny at all) and has an appetite that could feed a family. In fact, in one scene, Gwyneth takes a third of an entire cake to eat on her way out of the office. I'm sure it's meant to be funny, but I did not find it funny at all. For one thing, eating massive quantities of food is what contributes to obesity. That such a character has no self-control over her eating habits would make her personality as unattractive as her physical body. And let's be clear here, our personal habits regarding diet and exercise is part of our entire mind / body personality that contributes or detracts from our overall attractiveness to other people.

In the movie, Hal's lack of repulsion to his new-found love interest wins her heart, even though she does not know that he can't see her physical reality, even when they sleep together. Oh, and the sight gag about the massive underwear that baffles Hal was another unfunny joke. I'm sure it got laughs among low-IQ audiences in theaters, though. Hal's best friend keeps trying to get him to break off his interest in Gwyneth Paltrow's character (I can't remember her character's name, so I'll just refer to her as Gwyneth). I thought this was dumb, though. If a friend of mine dated an obese woman, I would actually be impressed and I wouldn't try to convince him to dump her. However, none of my friends are married to or are dating an obese woman. I'm skinnier than all of my friends, so it makes me wonder why I seem to have this ability to attract only obese women into my life. Where is the moderation?

Hal's best friend is so confused about the change in his friend's attitude that he goes directly to Tony Robbins and demands that the spell be broken. He's given a phrase to say to Hal that will break the spell. When he does so, Hal happens to be at a restaurant on a date with his woman, who managed to break an entire bench. He takes the call in the lobby and when he returns to the dining area, he's baffled why there is an obese woman at his table stealing bites from his plate (like I said above, the woman has no self-control regarding food consumption, which should make her even more unattractive). Meanwhile, his beautiful neighbour has seen him with the obese woman and has become attracted to Hal, even though Hal is no longer interested in her. They go on a date to a restaurant and Hal decides to pursue Gwyneth instead because he likes her personality and sense of humour (I did not see any evidence that she had a sense of humour, though). However, when Hal passes the obese woman in the hallway, he doesn't recognize her, even as he goes to make a call to her saying that he wants to be with her. Naturally, Gwyneth is heartbroken and confused about Hal's strange behaviour (disappearing from the restaurant, avoiding her calls, not recognizing her in the hallway).

The strangest part of the film, though, is that Gwyneth was a Peace Corps volunteer who decides to go off on another Peace Corps adventure in some developing country somewhere. Realistically speaking, though, I doubt that the Peace Corps would select someone who weighed 350 pounds to serve in a developing nation. There are serious food crises in the world and the way this woman consumes food would be considered insulting in many countries in the world where starvation is a serious threat to people's well being. Based on her daily caloric intake, it is doubtful that she would be able to maintain such a diet in a developing country. Plus, the Peace Corps considers its volunteers to be ambassadors of the United States. What impression would a 350 pound American woman make to a country where people spend a large amount of their money on food and have to share their modest amounts of food with the entire family?

My mom is from Thailand and she told me stories about how people in the village where she grew up would have to eat insects in order to keep from starving to death. The main staple of their diet was rice and little else. Insects provided some protein and were plentiful, but people were skinny (unfortunately, I inherited my skinny genes from my mother's side of the family). In another example, some church members who started a non-profit organization for orphans in Tanzania told us about how they were welcomed in an African village with a feast that included a goat being killed. The villagers rarely ate meat and only killed the goat for their foreign guests.

The point is, Americans seem clueless about how our food consumption habits are not reflective of the reality that most of the world lives by. We have abundance and convenience and we get to indulge our every desire without consideration for how our choices impact the environment, other people, or our own bodies. The idea that the Peace Corps would send a 350 pound woman to a developing country completely destroyed any credibility the movie hoped to have. I just didn't buy that, even though the premise was absurd to begin with.

The Farrelly brothers tried to make their film have a positive message about being able to see a person's inner beauty, but they failed. It appeared more as an excuse to make a bunch of fat jokes under the guise of trying to seem deep, but in the end, it was a pretty shallow movie. If I had written the script, the shallowness would be more on appearances, not necessarily obesity, but on our culture's materialism and overall narcissism. It's strange that the filmmakers tried to present an obese Gwyneth as having an inner beauty based strictly on her personality, even as they kept showing her unhealthy eating habits. Why was that not addressed at all? What is attractive about a woman stealing food off her date's plate when he's away from the table? What is attractive about a woman who eats a third of a cake on her way out of the office? She doesn't need a man, she needs a farm!

I can't say that I'm surprised that I did not like the film. It's par for the course with the Farrelly brothers, who gave the world Dumb and Dumber and There's Something About Mary. They are just a bunch of crude 15 year olds in the body of men who should know better. The film was unfunny, unrealistic, and in the end, pretty shallow. They did not convince me that not being attracted to obese women is shallow. They only reminded me what is unattractive about obesity. In a world that will face a food crisis within a couple decades, our consumption habits are no laughing matter. Obesity is an epidemic that needs to be addressed in an honest way and telling obese people that their way of consuming food is "okay" is not helping the crisis. Honesty is unflattering, but it is necessary. We can't make important changes until we become honest with ourselves. Part of that honesty is recognizing that most people are not physically attracted to obesity and instead of calling someone shallow because they aren't attracted, why not get serious about one's health and diet, and actually make the kind of positive changes that are good for your body? As one lady I know who lost 90 pounds so far, she said that she feels more energy now and has more self-confidence. I've only known her as being obese and was stunned by how much better she looked with less pounds on her. If she can do it, anyone can. It takes discipline but the results will be well worth it.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Music Video Monday: T-Shirt

This week's music video is by a group you probably never heard of: T-Shirt. It's a rather unfortunate name, I think, which guaranteed that the group would not find sustained success. I think it's a stupid name for a music group. The only reason I heard of them is because their remake of a 1970s hit "You Sexy Thing" by Hot Chocolate (another stupid name for a music group) was featured in the Australian movie: My Myself I, which is a great "body switching" movie. It's about a woman who finds herself still single on her 30th birthday (or was it her 40th?) and thinking about how her life might've been if she had married her high school (or was it college?) sweetheart. Through some movie magic, she meets up with her alternate self who did marry that guy and had three children. The two swap lives. It's the female version of The Family Man, starring Nicolas Cage and Tea Leoni (would make a great double feature watching those two movies).

Anyhow, I loved T-Shirt's version of "You Sexy Thing." In fact, I think it sounds even better than the original version. The song sounds exactly like how the Spice Girls would sing such a remake. In fact, I bet that T-Shirt was the Australian rip-off of the Spice Girls. However, it did not occur to me to look for the music video on YouTube until recently. I was impressed by what I saw. I love the darker-haired lady. Ah, a woman with an Aussie accent who looks as cute as she does? I'd love to meet a lady like that! The video is a take on Charlie's Angels. Since this song didn't play on American radio, so far as I know, I'm guessing that the song was circa late-1990s or possibly early 2000s. I logically deduce that it came out after the Spice Girls because the style of the song is so obviously a Spice Girls imitation. But, T-Shirt was not destined for the short-lived success of the Spice Girls. They probably are a one hit wonder down under. Perhaps if they had used a better name for themselves, they might've found more success. But I appreciate their awesomely upbeat remake. They show how you can remake a popular song and make it sound fresh.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Another Personal Ad

Partner in Mirth - 34 (PDX)

Date: 2012-06-02, 5:44PM PDT

I'm looking for something that generally happens naturally with acquaintances. It hasn't happened yet in "real life", so I'm casting my fishnets out so see if anyone here is in the same boat. I'd like to find someone in the upper echelon of attractiveness since I am up there too. I'm not a model, but I'm cute, thin, and take care of myself (I've seen the pics in the W4M section and I'm not in that category). Ideally you will have a bit of a messed up background, baggage or whatever that has planted a seed of sarcasm and skepticism in life. I want to find a man who will flip their middle finger at life with me, laugh about our past, and use our un-checked snarkiness to egg each other on.

No -- I am not bitter nor am I a pessimist. However, I have NO interested in getting a mani-pedis while eating bon-bons with my effeminate boyfriend. Talking, crying, desperately clinging to one another is not my deal. I'm much more about holding each other up while we bar-hop and try to talk the drunken locals into buying a spent lottery ticket. Then we can go outside and kick over all the hipsters' bikes.

Ideally, in the end, we will collapse together, our affection unexplainable because this isn't what one would call romance.

A little about me: educated, professional, responsible, loyal and caring. I have been married but I forgot to have kids. Music: very eclectic. I am not the type of person to like "a little of everything", when I like something, I buy the whole god damn discography. I have obsessed on: Depeche Mode (I grew up in the 80's, give me a break), Ween, Pink Floyd, Jonathan Coulton, Mason Jennings, Sarah Donner and the Pixies. I read mostly crap these days: Irish crime novels, David Sedaris (OK, he isn't crap), anything scary, and the Economist weekly (also not crap). I'm 5'4 and slightly below the ideal weight according to some site I just looked at.

A little about you: Smart (not smart with fixing cars, but smart with current events and how humans interact towards each other), attractive (weight is very important to me, you need not be skinny, but you must not be 20+ lbs overweight), sarcastic, have the balls to tease me and sometimes the public (in a non-dickish way), be past your past enough to laugh at it and not cry all the time, have funds available to go out on dates (I do not expect you to pay for me, but you better not expect me to pay for you), and if we examined you bit by bit, we'd find that you are actually a kind and thoughtful person despite all the cussing like a sailor.

If you are interested, (and how can you not be?) drop me a line and tell me something about yourself.

*Note: I will only reply if you state truthfully that you are between the ages of 30 and 42, you show at least a slight understanding of the English language, and you give me more than a 3 sentence reply to work with. Also, I'm serious about the attractiveness/weight thing.*

Now here's an example of a well-written ad. Her sense of humour comes out, she's got personality, and sounds like a winner. I really love her ad, but I did not respond to it because I'm likely not her type. Plus, the whole "snarkiness" might be fun for awhile, but at some point, there actually can be too much sarcasm and cynicism. From a spiritual mindset, it is actually not good to approach life from a cynical, snarky, sarcastic point of view. I'm guilty of a little bit of snark and sarcasm (oh my sardonic sense of humour!), but I also strive to be earnest and honest, giving benefits of the doubt and trying to look for the good / positive in others or in situations.

I thought it was especially funny that she had to "defend" her interest in Depeche Mode. Really? I did not realize that Depeche Mode was the subject to mockery. They had some good songs and albums in the 1980s. No defense needed. However, I do find that people often seem to be "cagey" when it comes to what kinds of music they will admit to listening to. I once communicated with a lady who would never give me specifics on what kinds of bands / artists she enjoyed listening to. She would only give me a radio station's call signal, which is meaningless to me. Why is music so defensive for people, particularly women? If people judge someone for the music they listen to, that's really pathetic. For me, I like knowing because if a woman prefers heavy metal / hard rock music, I know that a relationship is not going to work for us. But if women are diverse, with a wide spectrum, then it's okay. One of the joys in life when meeting new people is the introduction of favourite music to one another. Each of my friends have introduced me to great music I never heard before. Nathan probably has the closest music taste to me, of all my friendships.

But, this ad made me laugh. This is how you write a winning ad, people!