B-Musings – Get Up, Stand Up Edition

12 01 2017

“B-Musings”… sharing random blurbiage and ping-pong balls rattling around my dome.  

The Purge – Every year, I make a conscious effort to trim down my Facebook Friends List. Not to be mean-spirited or anything like that… it just a process of cleaning up my timeline. It’s kind of a “new year” thang.

unfriendI tend to “friend” people haphazardly. If you reach out to me, and we have a few friends in common, I’ll usually make the connection. I’m always eager to expand my network. But once a year – usually in January – I trim down the list.

If I haven’t had any meaningful dialogue with someone in the past year, he/she gets whacked. That is my only requirement, except for people in my list who have passed on. If you die, we are friends forever. Weird, I know…

But this year I was forced to add some new criteria, mostly because of the heightened political atmosphere. Tough decisions were made, deleting some long time connections.‪ But at the end of the day, social media is supposed to be fun. Right?

So if we are no longer connected, some of the reasons are below:

  • Our morality differed… for example, I don’t make jokes about gun violence.
  • You bullied my other friends.
  • You repeatedly shared fake news or websites to further some agenda (whether I agree with that agenda or not).
  • You were a dick.

Doesn’t seem like much, but it added up to 159 people. Sorry… do better. Be nicer. Don’t be a dick.

Social media was invented to be fun. (Well… Facebook was actually invented so Zuckerberg could get laid. But that’s fun, right?)

We may not always see eye-to-eye, and if we disagree I always appreciate a good, respectful argument. So, I’m glad we are still friends… for now!

Feral MerylMy mail carrier is terrific. She is consistently on time, and knocks the door when delivering a package. She is always smiling and happy. But while she is very good at her job, her political views are not important to me.

nixonelvisI’m not a fan of celebrity. I respect and appreciate the talents of actors, musicians or sports figures, and anyone who excels in their chosen fields. Are you an expert on politics because you’ve won an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy or a Super Bowl? Um… no. I don’t tune in to a movie or sporting event to hear the news or political opinions. I’m escaping from that stuff.

Sports figures, especially coaches, hate when they are questioned about tactics or strategy. The general public knows nothing about the intricacies of their sport. So why should we care about your political views, Charles Barkley?

Meryl Streep is the best actress in history. Challenge that statement, I dare ya. So when she took the stage this week to accept a lifetime achievement award, I expected her usual funny and humble acceptance. And when she launched into her political speech I started to cringe.

Don’t get me wrong… I agree with every syllable of her speech. It was delivered beautifully, and it clearly resonated with the audience in the theater and around the world. Of course it did… she is the best actress on the planet reading from a very professionally written script. But I turned the TV on that night for entertainment, not a political speech.

I love you, Meryl. I agree with your statement. You deserve every acting award in the world, and I will continue to watch your movies. Now sit down and shut the fuck up.

You too, Scott Baio and Ted Nugent! (Trying to be fair…)

An Appreciation – I wrote these words last April: “At the end of the day, I want my President to represent our country positively and professionally, and be committed to keeping my family safe.”

fullsizerender-19For the past eight years, I’ve had that with Barack Obama.

I didn’t always agree with his policies. In fact, I sometimes disagreed strongly. But that is to be expected with the complexity of issues faced by a President.

But in January of 2009, he entered the office with so much raw energy, optimism and hope. He still has all of that, and a few more gray hairs. We pretty much knew he was a good man, and he proved it to us. Every day, he worked tirelessly for his country while facing unprecedented opposition and unfathomable hatred.

And for every minute of those eight years, President Obama and his family have represented our country with dignity and grace. History will determine if he was a good President – I think it will show him to be a great one.

Like many people, I’m scared for my country. But I won’t dwell on that.

Today, I’ll just thank the President of the United States for a job well done.

As with anything I write, I welcome your comments and spirited, respectful debate. 





B-Musings – Pants On Fire Edition

18 04 2016

“B-Musings”… sharing random blurbiage and ping-pong balls rattling around my dome.  Haven’t done this in over a year, but it doesn’t mean my brain is resting peacefully.

liar_liar_pants_on_fireLiars – Not so long ago, calling someone a “liar” was one of the worst insults you could say. In this supercharged political season of today, it’s commonplace. Every presidential candidate has said  the “L” word frequently, certainly exacerbating a campaign that has been definitely not “presidential”.

It’s not just in politics, I’ve seen it occur in the workplace as well. I’m not sure what’s worse… the ease at which people wield this knife, or that the increased frequency of the sin that makes the accusation so normal. It’s just another subtle decline of our values, part of a larger landslide.

Beautifully Played – If you have read my blogs before or know anything about me personally, you are aware of my love for soccer. I watch, coach, live and love the beautiful game. I’m not writing this to expand my thoughts further on these feelings, but today I was reminded what the game is about for me.

the-beautiful-game-shirt-alt_grandeAs I said, I am a coach. For most of the last twenty years or so I have been involved in youth soccer. I’ve held several official and administrator roles at various times, but I’ve always been a coach. Sometimes I’ve been a good one, sometimes not so much. But I’ve always tried to teach my players to respect the game and their opponents. We don’t always win, but we try to play with integrity.

I knew going into my U-13 match this weekend that I would have some trouble fielding a team. Some players were sick, some had some family conflicts, etc. But we had the full eleven side and started the match. At halftime, one of my defenders had to leave to attend his lacrosse game. The opposing coach saw him leave and immediately took one of his players off the field.

I’ve been in this situation before… on both sides of the ball. What to do depends on many factors, and a somewhat meaningless spring soccer game made it easier to make the sides even. And he did that.

Sometimes in youth sports you see examples of adults behave badly because of a skewed sense of proprieties… not that day. It really doesn’t matter who won the match, and these kids all played beautifully. Clearly, I love this word…

It was a beautiful thing, on a beautiful day, and it’s all part of the beautiful game.

GeorgeClinton1Funkified – I’ve been feeling funky lately. No… not George Clinton Parliament Funkedelic funky, but I’m not above posting a picture of him to add some color to all your lives… you’re welcome!!

I’ve just been in a rut. I’ve been busy at work, travelling, more work, etc. I’ve also been distracted by many things, like politics and the unbelievable rise of Leicester City Football Club (that could be an entire blog post). So I haven’t been reading and writing much in the last couple of months.

Reading a book usually gets me out of these funks, and that simple act rescued me again over seven flights in the past two weeks. This time it really made me think, as I am reading the autobiography of my favorite artist – Elvis Costello.

To be honest… this is a good book, not a great one. If you are familiar with Costello’s career you know that he’s pretty much done whatever he wanted, sometimes risking success and certainly record sales. In this book he tells his story… the one he wants to tell. It is sometimes boring and sometimes exhilarating. The chapter stories are told randomly, without regard to his chronology.

I own every second of Elvis Costello’s published music, plus hours of concert stuff and radio shows. I’m guessing I’ve seen him live close to thirty times. He’s recorded about a thousands songs… I love some, I like some, and a few I don’t like at all.  But I always respected his commitment to be his own artist, and he always inspires me.

You are reading this now because this week, he inspired me to read and write… and get funky.

Turn the sound up and enjoy my favorite Elvis Costello song… and maybe ask that same question. Enjoy your day!





On Politics, People and Gray Areas

22 02 2016

“He’s a gray area in a world that doesn’t like gray areas. But the gray areas are where you find the complexity, it’s where you find the humanity and it’s where you find the truth.” —Jon Ronson at TED2012

GrayArea

I’d love to say that the above quote was about me, but the author is describing what he terms to be “a semi-psychopath”. I can live with that, because I’ve been confused lately… struggling with gray areas. And not just the ever-increasing acreage on top of my head!

Areas of gray… I just don’t know. It’s been bothering me for weeks now. There have been questions in my head that I can neither qualify nor quantify. Looking at a thesaurus… “ambiguity”, “open to question”. I’m getting close. “Debatable”… that could be it. Although, the word “debate” has been terribly overused these days.

Two months ago I wrote a blog post about Donald Trump, and I was tough on him – there was pretty much nothing gray about paralleling him to Adolf Hitler! I haven’t softened my stance… if anything Mr. Trump continues to provide more examples confirming my assertions.

But I really should take this opportunity to thank the Donald for igniting in me a new awareness of politics. I have never been this interested in a presidential election so early in the process. Trump has done this service to the country in two ways, with supporters delighting in his views and people like me looking forward to the next crazy ass blurb to leap from his mouth. But in spite of this, he is the front-runner for the GOP nomination… a clear dose of reality for me and my silly little blog!

There is not one iota of gray in Donald Trump – his beliefs and policies are dead right, and if you disagree you are dead wrong. And that makes you a loser, or a liar. No gray areas there, thank you very much… and most of the other candidates aren’t much better!

But let’s get back to my boggle. I’ve realized my failure to accept the existence of ONLY two options – the perceived right and the perceived wrong – is the issue I’m wrestling. I’m hard pressed to identify any friends, relatives or candidates that I agree with completely, on every level. The consideration for some people of only an A or B solution eliminates gray areas, rendering compromise impossible.

Look at some of the buzzword battles we concern ourselves with today: Rich vs Poor, Pro-Choice vs Pro-Life, Gun Control vs Second Amendment, Apple vs FBI… just to name a few in the news. All can inspire passion depending on what side of the street you reside. The worst battle is Democrat Blue vs Republican Red, where the possibility of compromise and achieving a positive result is growing more and more elusive. And few conflicts in my lifetime require more time and scrutiny than Black Lives Matter vs Blue Lives Matter, the poster children for two sides not interested in conversation and solutions. With many “colors” speaking so loudly, that poor gray area has no voice and – ironically – is getting killed.

gray-areaThe amount of people who now only consider one of two choices is continuing to grow. I’ve had several conversations with friends – in person and via social media – that have basically ended like this: “If you don’t agree with me about (insert issue) then we can no longer be friends.” Sound familiar?

I completely disagree with several friends regarding the Second Amendment and Gun Laws. I consider some of them to be smart people, and I respect their opinions. So I listen and discuss, and/or read what they have to say. Solutions are in the gray areas.

I readily agree that I can be opinionated, but no more than most people. I also try to admit when I’m wrong. I may disagree with people on some issues, but I am not ready to terminate relationships because of it. If we are friends or family or whatever, I’m trying to respect your opinion out of the gate.

Listening to the politicians frame the dangers of our world – terrorism, death, illegal immigration, too much government, etc. All of that is nothing compared to ignoring the gray areas of opinion, and the cost is the end of opportunities to learn.

That’s too large a price to pay.