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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The “Twilight” Myth

(c) 2013 by Tom King

The “Twilight” movies have been a huge hit with girls especially teenage girls ages 12 to 65.  There is an old and disturbing reason the "Twilight" movies are such a hit with teen girls.  They trade upon an old mythology that is just as flawed as it was all those millennia ago in the Garden of Eden.

The myth goes roughly like this.  All a bad boy needs to become a good man is the love of a good woman.  In “Twilight”, Edward is the ultimate bad boy – a vampire who lives by killing and draining the blood from human beings.  Now Edward has modified his behavior somewhat by only living on animal blood, but he still has the cravings. So you can tell he wants to be good, if he can only find a good woman to love who will save him.

Then, along comes a long-necked, pale young thing named Bella, who understands the bad boy, Edward.  She wins his heart and changes him forever. Edward becomes good, a terrible struggle ensues and everyone is saved and lives happily ever after. The only thing is, he bites Bella and she becomes a vampire too.  There's a moral there if you're looking for one.

The belief that bad boys will inevitably be saved because of the love of a girl has led more young women into terrible relationships than any other flawed belief about love (including the one about how love is a feeling). In 99 times out of 99 times, bad boys don’t reform because they love good girls.  Most bad boys (and bad girls for that matter) are bad because they choose to be bad.  All these kinds of unbalanced relationships do is use up the good girl and then cast her aside – usually with two or three kids to raise and an ex who ducks his child support payments. And women cling to their fatal attraction to these good/bad boys to a surprisingly advanced age.  I once had a 65 year old woman tell me she knew my father.  Now Dad was a notorious local bad boy.  My Mom married him because my Grandmother set them up, thinking that the love of a good girl would change his sinful ways. It didn't. He ran off with another woman when I was five after spending several of my toddler years in prison. This older lady, who remembered Dad as a teenager, a good church-goer and pillar of the community, told me (to my considerable discomfort) what a good looking boy he was. I swear she still had a lustful look in her eye and it was nearly 45 years later. It was more than a little creepy.

Unless bad boys and girls choose to change before they hook up with you, they aren't likely to do so afterwards. It's the ultimate narcissism to think that your naughty boyfriend or girlfriend will every change for you.

Change of the sort that makes good people out of bad people comes only from God and from the free will choice of the person doing the changing.  Any other reason for changing is doomed to failure.  Believing a loved one will change himself for you simply because the sex is really good sets you up for a big disappointment, because, it may surprise you to learn, you are not God. Expecting a bad spouse to change because they love you is like setting yourself up as God.  You expect behavioral change from your worshipper, the afore-mentioned bad spouse, because they love you and if they love you, you reason, they will want to do your will and change themselves into a form that is pleasing to you.

In the Garden of Eden, the devil promised Eve that she and Adam would become like gods. Lucifer lied.  I’m sure when Adam took the fruit, he too thought he could “save” Eve by joining her in her transgression. Ironically, it seems it was actually Adam who started the whole “I can save her/him through my love” mythos.  Women just took the idea and ran with it; possibly because there seem to be more really bad men than there are bad women for some reason.

And don’t write me an angry comment telling me it worked for you.  If true it would be an exception, that in its rarity, just proves the rule.  If you’re already stuck in one of those relationships, should you cut bait and run for it?  I’m not saying that at all.  I’m just saying that your loved one will never change for you. He may change because, through you, he meets God, but meeting God is the only way real change is gonna happen.  

My advice – start praying.  Never stop. It’s your only hope.

Tom King 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Is it a Cat World Now?

America May Have Reached the Tipping Point
(c) 2013 by Tom King

It's something conservatives like me have long feared.  For most of the history of the United States, the majority of our citizens have identified themselves as conservatives or at least have held to conservative values - hard working, church-going, self-reliant folk.  We may have lost our majority though. Recent events may indicate that we are now beginning the steady decline into anarchy and social collapse that has been the fate of every powerful civilization since Noah's flood.

You can no longer be the iron when you play Monopoly.

Hasbro conducted a survey asking Monopoly players worldwide which piece they wanted to get rid of and what piece should replace it.  Why the Hasbro people ever did this, I do not know.  My bet is there was a focus group on how to attract more women to purchase and play monopoly. I guarantee the group targeted the iron, that inimitable symbol of domesticity, from the get-go.

As a result of the survey, the iron got booted and replaced with, heaven help us, A CAT. Of all the things they could have replaced any piece with, why cats?  They had other choices - a diamond ring, a helicopter, a robot or a guitar.  Some will argue that, since there was already a dog, a cat was logical.  I say the election was hijacked by liberals.  The dog is a working animal. The battleship represents military industrial might, The wheelbarrow and the boot - tools of the working man. The top hat - the fedora of choice of the great barons of industry of the past.  The thimble - the textile industry.  The dog - a working animal, loyal companion and defender.

What's a cat got to do with anything?

Hasbro, not only allowed foreigners to vote, but it also allowed participants to vote more than once - something the FemiNazi focus groups no doubt suggested.  Voting was supposed to be limited to once a day, but cat lovers are capable of shifty things and no doubt got around that stricture.  With a flood of last minute cat votes, a move worthy of Chicago Democrats in an election year, the cat people seized 31% of the vote and won the right to play as cats in Monopoly.

Okay, add the cat. Modern American business can cope with the odd socialist.  But I liked the iron. The iron was an ironic piece in that it is a domestic symbol in a business game. And isn't that what business is about -  protecting and supporting the home front in return for sharp creases in our suit pants.  Ah, but no more.

Actually, for most of the survey, the iron, the wheelbarrow and the boot were virtually tied for elimination. I'll tell you why too.  They represent hard work.  Their universally low rating says something about our sagging work ethic in America.

That's why I say the adoption of the cat as the newest playing piece for the classic American business game is a sign of the coming decline of America.  Cats are the ultimate in self-interested, self-centered, manipulative, prissy and disloyal creatures of all pets except possibly the boa constrictor. Dogs have families. Cats have staff. 

It's sad really.  We're fast becoming a cat nation.  That's what happened to Egypt. Cats take over and it's all downhill from there.

I'm just sayin'


Monday, February 11, 2013

The Writer's Life: Dusting

     My wife wants me to "dust" my desk.  Okay, so I dust my desk.  I pick everything up that's on it. Dust. Then put everything carefully back in place where it was - where I wanted it to be.
     "This is not dusting," she complains. "Why don't you put everything away?"
     "Because I want it on the desk?"
     "Because I'm working on it."
     "It's been there for days."
     "No it hasn't."
     "There's always a pile of papers and stuff on your desk.  It never goes away."
     "That's because when I get rid of stuff to do, more stuff comes along to take it's place.  It's what Hemingway called "A Moveable Feast". 
     "So now you're Hemingway."
     "I could be if I could quit all this dusting and get back to work."
     "Well, why don't you start on that pile of papers?"  Because I don't have time to do them."
     "You could at least file them."
     "If I do that, I'll forget about them and they'll never get done."
     "Then maybe they didn't need to be done in the first place."
     "Oh, they need to be done and if I don't do them, I'll just have more to do later."
     "Then why don't you get them done NOW."
     "I have deadlines."
     "How long would it actually take to pick up a bill, look at it and then ignore it?"
     "Ha, ha!"  I lean back in my chair and make a feeble attempt to look wise.  "You just don't understand about sequences."
     "Yes.  Sequences.  First identified in Patrick McManus' pivotal book "The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw", the problem of sequences occurs because any task you do is interlinked with so many other tasks that accomplishing anything at all takes a great deal of time."
     "At least you're quoting successful authors when you're being obtuse."
     "No, hear me out.  Let's say, I pick up this item from my desk."  I reach down and select a random scrap of paper - in this case a book on panic disorder by Dr. Shahidul Islam. "I am using this book as a reference source for an article I'm writing on panic disorder.  In order to put it away, I have to finish the article.  It's got to be 25,000 words long, so it may take me a couple of days to complete.
     "Okay, what about the book you wrote about golf?"
     "What about it?"
     "We all know you wrote a book about golf."
      "Charity golf tournaments," I interrupted.
     "I stand corrected," she plowed on. "You don't need to leave it out on the desk to remind us. So why do you need that on your desk?"
     "I need to select memorable quotes from it for my author's webpage on Goodreads."
     "You have memorable quotes?"
     "I'm sure I can find some."
     "And you have an author's page?"
     "Not yet."
     "Why not?"
     "Because I haven't made it yet?"
     "Well when are you going to make it?"
     "As soon as I get the time."
     "Why not now?" she demanded.  "It's not like you're doing anything else."
     "I have to look up all my biographical information."
     "Can't you get it off that job resume' you were telling me you were sending out last summer?"
     "It's out of date.  I have to update some things."
     "So update it."
     "I can't.  I'm working on my panic disorder ebook."
     "Well then put the golf book away till you need it."
     "If I did that, I'd forget to make my author's web page!"
     "Then it must not be important if you'd forget about it."
     "Of course it's important. It's how I promote my book?"
     "How many copies did you sell last quarter?"
     "And you made how much money?"
     "$20.57 - that's why I need to be sure and get my author page done. I read yesterday that an author page is very important and effective as a marketing tool."
     "So why don't you do that first so you can start selling books."
     "Because I need to do my panic disorder book first."
     "Because it pays when I finish it.  The marketing stuff won't pay off for months.  We need money now."
     "Okay, I get that. So why the three pill bottles on top of your panic disorder 'reference' book?"
     "I need to reorder your anti-anxiety medication first."
     "I might not need anti-anxiety medication it if you'd finish your panic disorder book and clean your desk off?"
     "Oh, you'd need it alright!" I shot back.
     I don't remember much for several hours after that.* When I came to, the desk was cleaned off.  Now I can't remember what I was doing. I have to remember not to get into these kinds of philosophical debates when my Sweet Baboo is holding a broom and standing behind me. I'll just put a note on top of my new "to do" pile.

(at least I think that's my name.  It's written on my underwear in any case.)

*No writers were actually harmed in the making of this (sort of) fictional piece, although I'm sure the temptation was there..

Friday, February 01, 2013

I Hate That #$@%$# Horse....

(c) 2013 by Tom King

I spent a lot of years working with severely troubled kids. I started one of the first equestrian programs that worked specifically with emotionally disturbed children. The state didn't like it. Other people working in children's mental health said we were out of our mind to put "those kids" on horseback.  They predicted all sorts of dire results - kids galloping off into the woods, abusing horses and getting themselves kicked, stomped and bucked off.

Nothing of the kind happened.  In my two years in the saddle, spending some seven hours a day I think we had one child kicked.  He'd been banned from the stable for unsafe behavior for several weeks prior to the incident. The first think he did when he came back for his first session, was to run down a row of peacefully breakfasting horses, slapping them on the butt. My horse, Cinnamon was last in line and saw him coming.  She waited till he reached her and then smartly kicked him into a pile of horse manure.  He was never allowed to come back to the horse program again - the only kid ever permanently banned from riding.

The story I wanted to tell happened one summer day just after the last session.  I'd put up all the horses except Buck, a huge dun-colored and very muscular horse I was testing.  We'd only had him a few weeks and I wanted to run him through his paces to see what sort of temperament he had before I put kids on him. I had him tied by the gate to the horse pasture while I carried some paperwork to my office.

I heard a disturbance from the direction of the dorm.  As I looked that way as ten year old "J" (not his real name) burst out the door, and broke for the woods. Our therapy dog, a black and white border collie named Benji and a large and not terribly fit staff member in hot pursuit.  The staffer made it as far as the creek before pulling up winded.  J had a long history of running away for extended periods of time.  Not wanting to lose him again, I tossed my clipboard on the porch in front of my office and sprinted (I could still sprint back then) toward Buck. Reaching the gate, I untied the reins, pitched them over Buck's neck and swung up into the saddle (a surprising height for me as short-legged as I am).  I swung Buck around and gave him a nudge in the rips and shouted, "Hya!".  Buck needed little urging. He broke toward the woods like a starting gate had just opened.  I shouted, "I'll get him!"  as we galloped past his gasping counselor, He waved weakly at us as we tore past him.

I discovered several things about Buck in the next few seconds.  First he was very fast. He hit full speed so fast I had to catch the saddle horn to keep from sliding off the back of the saddle.  Second, Buck is the only horse I've ever ridden with an automatic transmisson.  As he took off toward the woods, he went through three distinct gear changes, shifting smoothly from walk to trot to lope to dead run - boom, boom, boom. Also, the horse is sprung like a Rolls Royce - smoothest gait I ever saw in a horse. At a trot, the ride was incredibly smooth. A full gallop was like floating along on a very fast cloud.

We roared past "J" about fifty yards from the path that led into the woods.  I didn't intend to roar past the boy, but I here I discovered something else about Buck.  He knew what we needed to do better than I did. From that point on, I was only partially in charge of the proceedings. Once we had passed "J" he wheeled around and planted himself in "J's" path.

"Where you going?" I asked "J" as kindly as I could muster from my perch way up on top of this huge horse.  "J" tried to break left to get around Buck.  Without warning, Buck broke in the same direction and again planted himself in "J's" path. Up top, I managed to retain my seat after nearly being tossed from the saddle. Buck looked back over his shoulder at me in disgust.

"J" broke right and this time I was ready, leaning into Buck's sudden matching lurch to again reblock "J's" path to the woods. The three of us repeated the dance two or three times.  I gave up trying to rein Buck. It confused him. I soon found myself using slight pressure from my knees to steer the old cutting horse. When they donated him to us, nobody had told me he was a former rodeo cutting horse.To Buck, "J" was a particularly stubborn calf and his pride as a cutter was up.  He didn't do anything dangerous, just patiently moved back and forth, keeping himself between "J" and the woods and gradually herded him back toward the main campus.  Benji the dog circled the scene excited by what he figured was a mighty interesting game of tag.

Finally, exhausted "J" gave it up.  He screwed up his face and planted his fists firmly his hips. He gave Buck a look of disgust. "I hate that @#$% horse!" he snapped.

I grinned and laughed out loud.  I couldn't help myself. "J" turned and stalked back toward the dorms.  I rode up beside him, leaned over the saddle horn and extended him my hand.  ""You goin' my way, Pal?" I asked.

He gave me a sheepish grin, shrugged and reached up to catch my hand.  I swung him up into the saddle behind me. Benji the collie, took off ahead of us to show us the way home. We talked a little about what a cutting horse was and how Buck had once been a rodeo horse.  We took the long way back.  "J" kind of thought it was funny that Buck had mistaken him for a loose calf. He finally told me what was wrong and by the time we got back home we had a plan for dealing with his troubles that didn't involve running away. "J's" brothers had once tried to set him on fire.  Later, he had come home from school to find that his family had moved away and left him behind. The police found him sleeping on an abandoned sofa in a vacant lot. I understood why he tended to run away from trouble.

I stopped to drop him off in front of the dorm and told him I had to put Buck away.  He asked me if  I needed any help.  I took him with me to the barn.  We brushed Buck down, fed him and turned him loose.  Before Buck took off to join the rest of the heard, "J" reached up and patted the big horse on the nose.  Old Buck lowered his head and nudged "J" in the ribs. As he turned away and headed toward the pasture. I reached for my big red bandana - allergies, you know. 

Stuff like that happened all the time at Odyssey Harbor.  I used to carry the bandana as part of my strategy to maintain my manly image.  Truth is - I'm a big tub of mush.

When I look back on a hundred little incidents like that, I am proud of the work we all did at Odyssey Harbor. The lives that were changed were not just those of the children.

Just One Man's Opinion

Tom King