Oh Ye of Little Rythm

All, thought many of you would find this helpful in your day-to-day lives. I love good 'ol practical knowledge....



The Unit on CBS

The Unit
Ok, everyone knows what my favorite show is but a very close second is "The Unit" on CBS... watch the last episode from season 2 is Friday at 8 central and the season premier is TUESDAY the 25th at 8 central. The show is a very realistic account of the elite Delta Force unit with the Army's Special Forces Command. Not only does it deal with the soldiers in the unit but it also covers the lives of the wives and families of these soldiers as well. People, understand I am the most critical person ever when it comes to watching war-themed movies and television but The Unit is about as close to real as you can get in both drama and action. This is mainly due to the fact that it is based on the real-life exploits of SMG Eric Haney - one of the original members of Delta Force. I've read SMG Haney's book "Inside Delta Force" and it is one of the most increadible collections of heroics I have ever come across.

Check out my Top 10 Episodes of The Unit


Why I Like Superman. Part 1 - Origins

Why I Like Superman: Part 1 - Origins.

I’m so excited I can barely stand it. “Why?” you may ask. Well, sillies, this week is a big week for us Superman fans as it marks the release of both Season 6 of Smallville and the made-for DVD movie Doomsday, The Death of Superman (based on the popular graphic novel). Oh, and it doesn’t stop there as next week is the season premier for Season 7 of Smallville. I actually got chills this evening when I saw the latest previews for it on TV. Admittedly, I am a nerd… and it’s a fact I am not embarrassed about (mainly because I have accrued enough “cool” points in the other areas of my life so, even with the deduction for being a Superman fan I’m still waaaaaaaay above average… I get tons of bonus points for my sense of humor alone).

It’s been mentioned that my MySpace page, my phone screen-save, my ring tone, my book-shelf contents, Halloween costumes, um, and oh ya, this blog all have “subtle” hints of Superman-related themes. I’m often surprised at how many people pick up on these hints, which of course prompts them to ask me what the deal is with my “obsession.” After gently rebuffing them for their overly, dramatic assessment of my ability to tastefully coordinate themes across a variety of mediums in order to create a solid “branding” image for myself, I then go on to explain that, “it’s a long story.” (Note: When I say, “it’s a long story,” what I’m really saying is, “I don’t really want to get into that right now because it would require me to engage my brain in a way that I cannot unless I have had caffeine, and besides, I really haven’t given it much thought.”). Frankly, I’ve gotten tired of all the rebuffing in this matter and with the impending releases this week I figured it would be an appropriate time to share with family, friends and fans my “casual interest” with Superman.

Let me begin with how this all got started. As a kid I wasn’t much on superheroes, comic books and the like. My interests were more mature in nature - Star Wars and GI Joe. The concept of heroes in tights with their underwear showing seemed… well, not manly. Besides, I knew I stood a much better chance of attracting women with my extensive knowledge of the Force and my vast collection of action figures than with capes and flashy costumes. But 30 years later Wal-Mart changed my mind (thank you Sam Walton for reducing the American people’s cost of living with reasonably priced consumer goods and volume purchasing model). That’s right, Wal-Mart.

Going through the store I came upon a rack of DVD box sets on sale one of which was the first season of Smallville. If you are not familiar with the show Smallville is the story of Clark Kent’s late teen/early adult years in his hometown of Smallville, Kansas where he develops into who we all know as the current version of the Man of Steel. The creators brilliantly use what is known as “retroactive continuity” to introduce the fabled events that play into the legendary elements that are widely recognized as cannon in Superman lore. Is it ER or West Wing? No, but it incorporates all the elements of good story telling without letting the campi-ness often associated with comic book characters to get in the way. I was hooked and even when Sam Walton wasn’t rolling back prices I was purchasing the next season as soon as I finished the last.

What intrigued me more than anything, as I watched each season, was how someone with the power to do pretty much anything he wanted harnessed that power with an internal strength of character that would have to be even greater than his physical strength. Superman is an alien that has no real obligation to the human race and in fact, he could conquer and rule the planet at will. However, he does not. Instead, Superman becomes a self-less champion of the human race associated with the paradigms of truth, justice and the American way, and he does so both with steadfastness and compassion. So where did this unstoppable alien being develop into “the Big Blue Boy Scout” as he is often cynically referred to by friend and foe alike? Simply enough, in a loving home on a farm in the rural heartland of America. It doesn’t get anymore Mom, and apple pie than that.

This is what the show Smallville is about. In episode after episode Clark uses his emerging powers to save the day while his parents, Martha and Jonathan provide the strong (but not overbearing) moral compass that guides the most powerful being known to man. (Kind of like Mary and Joseph with Jesus… by the way, the fact that Clark’s and Jesus’ parents share the same first initial is not a coincidence, but that’s a whole another blog).

Impatiently, I devoured each episode, eager to see what new Superman element would get introduced, and eventually I burned through each of the seasons in short order. When I ran out of seasons to watch, fan magazines to purchase and websites to surf, my focus expanded to Superman’s character as a whole, which led to comics and graphic novels that covered the key milestones of Superman’s career. Of course having three boys, they became the perfect “cover” for my increasing interest in the baby from Krypton. I’m very thankful my boys have been very supportive of my hobby especially with all the new toys, games and storybooks that are all part of the perks that go along with Daddy’s habit.

As my research widened I was delighted to come across intellectual writings on the character of Superman (and comics in general), which now provided an overt legitimacy to my study. I no longer had to use my children as a means to mask my secret nerd identity. Now I could be a legit nerd without the fear of ridicule from fellow adults… almost like wearing flashy tights with the underwear over the top while grocery shopping. Digging further, I came discovered volumes (seriously) of Superman-related subjects ranging from sociology and ethics to Nietzsche and Jesus (In the first episode of Smallville, Clark trips spilling his books, the first of which is one on Nietzsche – again, not a coincidence. I love this show!).

Even with the plethora (I have to use fancy talk as I write this so you will believe me to be intelligent despite my choice of subject matter) of information readily available, my focus continued(s) to be on the morality, selflessness and compassion that firmly center Superman’s heroic actions. I’m fascinated with Superman’s ability to self-govern himself in order to keep his power in check, even going so far as to give his friend Batman a kryptonite (radioactive fragments from his home planet that render his superpowers useless) ring in the event Superman goes off the deep end and needs to be stopped. Self-control, accountability and trust by someone who could freeze you instantly, crush your skull like an egg and then incinerate your body with his heat vision. (By the way, Batman is an interesting BFF for Superman, but that’s another blog too).

Ok, so that all explains the “how” part of my interest in Superman along with the impetus that continued to fuel that interest. However, you may be wondering, with all the avenues of related study, why the Man of Steel’s moral composition is the element that holds the most intrigue for me. All I can say is it’s a long story.

To Be Continued… Next up, Part II: Small Town Values and the Big Blue Boy Scout


What Superhero Would You Be?

Ya, I was a sucker for this when I saw it, but I'll admit I was thrilled to find out that it actually scientifically matched me as being closest in personality to my favorite superhero. My testimony alone should suffice in authenticating the irrefutability of this test. So which one are you? Follow the link and find out, then let me know!
Keep in mind this is a "values and personality" based test (so the fact that it matched me with 4 women means nothing). My results ranked by percentage were as follows:

90% SUPERMAN "Strong, Mild-mannered, Always looking to help others" (Hey, the survey's words, not mine!)

85% Spiderman (I don't have the angst, plus my girlfriend isn't a ditz - quite the contrary!)

62% Robin (I'm nobodies sidekick. Note the big drop in %)

60% Hulk (I only get this way when counting sheep or when I run out of TP mid-mission)

50% Supergirl (I'm guessing the 40% difference from her cousin is because I'm not a girl)

50% Green Lantern (I think he's a wuss. His power comes from a fashion accessory... a ring)

40% Wonder Woman (I wish I had an invisible jet)

40% Flash (It's the fact we're both smart mouths)

40% Iron Man (I have no clue - He's a Marvel Comics guy not DC)

25% Catwoman (Has to be a tie to my leather body outfit fetish)

20% Batman (My son Noah will be disappointed but I guess I'm just not a vengeful guy)

Here's the link for you: http://www.thesuperheroquiz.com/


Three Indians Around a Campfire

Ok, so there were three Indians sitting around a campfire. Do you have the image? Good. Now put that off to the side because we're going to come back to it later (my apologies to all you Native American enthusiasts, but hold on to your loin-cloths for a moment). As I mentioned in my previous blog I have been busy interviewing this last week - one to two a day in fact. This is extremely flattering to me, but I have been blessed with solid experience and it appears to be paying off currently. Yet, at the same time I am humble enough to know that doesn't ensure my success in the future. I never want to let my past accomplishments blind me to the realities of a future employer's high expectations for me.

It's funny because there are so many books, recruiters and advisers that coach you on how to conduct yourself in an executive level interview. About 90% of what these resources focus on is the image you project of yourself via not just your answers, but how you shake hands, sit in a chair, the tone you use in responses, etc. Again, that's no surprise to anyone, but as I get dressed every morning and run through the mental checklist of items I need to be cognisant of I start to get annoyed. Why? Because all the crap that I "should" do to get the job is not me at all. Right up front I'm supposed to indirectly lie to an employer in order to get what I want.

Yes, I understand that you need to make a good impression that distinguishes yourself from other candidates, and conveys your ability to get the job done. But, everyone is so prepped for interviews that it's easy to "look" the part and not be anywhere near able to do it. Today, in fact, as an interviewer was preparing me to take the company's aptitude test he actually said, "On, the background and preferences portion of the test you need to pick these answers if you want to be considered for the job." I'm thinking, "Ok, what if that's not me? What if I get the job and I hate it and I hate you and I suck and then you hate me cause you think I suck? Guess who's to blame, pal?"

I took the test, only because I like to answer questions about myself. It makes me feel listened to. In fact I tried to answer every question the opposite of what I thought they were looking for which wasn't much of a stretch from what my real answers would have been. After I finished, a nice lady from HR took me to a conference room and congratulated me on passing the test, thus being accepted for the next round of interviews... HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! As she launched into the details about having limited time to meet next week I politely cut her off and explained (in professional terms) I didn't need this shit, but thanks for wasting my (in professional terms) F#%ing morning, and have a nice life. Of course she looked surprised like I had just took a million dollars, set it on fire in front of her and then pissed all over it to put out the flames. She did a sign of the cross as I left because I'm sure she thought I was the devil.

Granted, my imagery and language are little over the top, but every time I dig out that white shirt and start flipping that necktie - you know, the red one... the "power" tie you're coached to wear so you can project confidence in the interview... Oh, but wait. What if you are interviewing with the owner of the company and he isn't wearing a redder, more powerful tie than you? Is he going to turn you down because your tie made him feel insecure in that one day you might take his job? Gosh, now what? I'm not kidding! It gets worse though. I've been coached that on lunch interviews always order fish because it's not the most expensive thing on the menu which makes you not look like a mooch, but it's also not the cheapest thing which ensures you don't look like an ass-kisser, plus you don't have to chew fish which makes it easier to answer questions and allows you to finish your meal on par with your interviewer. Oh, and don't grab the salt and start dumping away the minute your plate hits the table. Good lord, your future boss will think you impetuous and rash - the horror! Instead, take a bite or two then add salt if you must, but remember adding salt is generally unhealthy so your employer may think that you don't take good care of yourself. Um, screw that! People, you want to see me project power in an interview? Ok. I started going to interviews commando. It's my little joke and besides, my interigators think the smile on my face is a sign I am an agreeable and friendly person. Little do they know.

When you boil all this down it comes down to one word - posturing. Our culture - like the interviewing process as an example - kind of forces it, and it's an easy trap for everyone to fall into without thinking, but I'm going to focus my thoughts towards men here. I'm not going to be a hypocrite as I am consciously guilty of it myself - in fact I will even use it to my advantage in certain situations. Is it right or wrong? Clearly there are times when it's wrong while at the same time there are times that it can also be justified (notice I didn't say "right"). I guess what I'm saying is think about either the people you know or someone from history that had an image that was true to themselves. It wasn't really an image at all because it was their true likeness and more often than not they earned a level of respect and admiration for being themselves. You know what else? They seem like very happy people too and I think that's because they aren't struggling with that fight between who they are and who they should posture themselves to be.

There are allot of angry men out there (hell, I was one) that are struggling with who they really are and who they are told they "should" be. Take a minute and think about all the words that are used to characterize men and then conversely, think of all the words that can be used to characterize men but aren't considered manly (stick to the positive descriptions - yes, we all can be asses but you know what I'm saying). How different are they? If you took all the un-manly ones to describe a guy you know in a complimentary way how would they react if you shared that with him in front of other guys? Maybe this isn't a perfect scientific experiment but in general I'm trying to demonstrate the image men have to project especially in front of other men.

My favorite place to observe this is in clubs... ones with lots of women present. I love watching guys trying to out-posture other guys who are trying to do the same thing for the attention of a women. Ya, it's natural selection and all, but it's funnier than clowns sliding in shit. They stand there with arms crossed so their arms look bigger, they talk about how much they make, they're decked out in "playa" (play-er: (n) from the Latin meaning horny male looking to nail as many chicks as possible in his lifetime. Also known as a "tool.") clothes. They peel out of the parking lot on their custom rims fitted special to their KIA Spectra and they brag about how much they can drink. The lists goes on. You get the picture. When I'm in observation mode many people mistakenly interpret this as a lack of confidence on my part, but remember what I was saying about using posturing to my advantage?

No, this isn't the part where I talk about how I have it all together, because to get into comparisons is a big part of what fuels this behavior. Frankly, I have my moments too. I'm human and to deny that would be just as a big a lie. In fact, there was a time when posturing so dominated my behaviour I lost sight of who I was. Thankfully, over time and through circumstances I finally came to a place where I centered in on what was real in me (I'll skip the boring details, but pissing on a pile of flaming money figures prominently into the equation). I've even gotten to the place where I can recognize when I'm centered and when I'm posturing. When I'm posturing is easy to see. I just have to be honest with myself and ask why am I trying to put some other guy down in front of a girl or why am I driving like Steve McQueen when I have a female passenger. But when I'm centered the quickest way I realize it is by how others react to me which usually comes in two forms. One reaction is completely disarming even to the biggest posing, posturing, knuckle-dragging, meat head, but interestingly enough, the other reaction is a palpable nervousness. What's also interesting is the fact that the nervous reaction usually gets flushed out of people I thought had it together.

Now here's the kicker to the whole thing. If you are true to yourself and confident about it you can't go around telling everyone. If you are they will know. I was talking to my father recently and in the course of the discussion I pointed out how intimidated our former pastor was of my dad. My dad seemed genuinely surprised by this, so I pointed out some examples of how our pastor reacted to a few situations involving our family and even how he exploited some of our family's vulnerabilities in order to make himself feel a little better. What I noticed was that my dad has always had this quiet confidence that people responded to naturally. A trait that made the pastor nervous. I could tell my dad was flashing that sly grin on the their end of the phone. He knew what I was talking about, but at the same time he wasn't going to claim it either. If you have to point it out then you aren't, which brings me to the story of the three Indians around the campfire.

On the plains of Nebraska three weathered old Indians sat around the village campfire late one night. As they sat gazing into the dying flames, the first Indian stood and broke the silence with a grunt.

"Um, when young warrior, I travel many moons on foot to steal horse from pale face soldier. I kill many pale-face soldier with bare hand, steal many horses and honored as great warrior."

The other old Indians nodded thoughtfully acknowledging the bravery of such a feat. In turn the second Indian stands and steps closer to the crackling fire.

"Um, with hunting party as young warrior great Grizzly big like tree attack young warrior and I kill with bare hands and bring great Grizzly hide to Chief. Me honored by Chief as brave warrior."

The other Indians again nodded thoughtfully in their admiration for the courageous feat, however, after a few minutes of silence the first two warriors Indians looked to the third with the anticipation of his act of Indian bravery. The third Indian sits there stone-faced, looking into the darkness. The first two Indians begin to feel shame and embarrassment for their fellow tribesman because they interpret his silence as an admission that he has no story to share. To their relief the third Indian finally stands and moves to the fire, but again says nothing. The first two Indians begin to feel uncomfortable again and they slowing look at one another to relieve the tension some. However, as they swing their gaze back to their stone-faced friend they notice that the third Indian is stoking the fire's glowing embers with his dick!

There are many lessons I have yet to learn, many mistakes to suffer through and many success to yet be proud of but through it all I hope that deep inside I am always like the third Indian - confident of his strength, reluctant to use it for show, but ultimately recognized as strong through his actions and not his words.


By Popular Demand

Yes, I know try to contain yourselves... sorry I haven't posted in a few days as I have been full-time interviewing (which I'm not complaining about). All is going well so we will see what I end up doing. Honestly, I'm in no rush and I'm wondering why I didn't take up "slacking" earlier in my life choosing instead to be all responsible and mature. Well, I don't have the time to blog anything right now either, but I'll get back to it soon. So instead I am running re-runs of Classic Krusty until I return.... oh, we don't have those films anymore? Hmm. Ok. In that case a number of you that don't have access to my MySpace page have been asking to see some of my other paintings so, by popular demand here they are.


Valentine Wine Pastel on paper 12x16

The Succubus Acrylic on canvas 28x38

The Midnight DJ Oil on canvas 28 x 42

Sweeps Me Off My Feet Acrylic on canvas 28x36

Red Dress Ruffle Acrylic on canvas 12x16

Girl in a Brown Dress Acrylic on canvas 28x42

Blue Necklace Acrylic on canvas 12x16

The Flatfoots Acrylic on canvas 36x24

If you'd like to purchase one let me know =-) Some are already sold - Thanks


What's Scarier Than Being Alone?

Ok, here's one of those thoughts that's rattled around loose in my head for a few weeks. What's scarier than living alone for the rest of your life? For some people, oddly enough, it's finding someone to live the rest of their lives with. Why do I say that? For some people the idea of really having to expose who they really are in order to be with the person they were meant to be with outweighs the easier road of just remaining alone. I don't necessarily see it as a good or bad thing, but rather a choice. What I think isn't good is to choose to be with someone but then choose not to open yourself up to them. It probably happens more often than not in relationships, marriages and even with God, while the consequences more than likely aren't going to be happy ones.

So what prompted this? Initially, it formed as I reflected on past relationships and then a little more as I discussed it with my sister, Ness a few weeks ago. Then this weekend I was reading a bio on my favorite painter (see earlier post) Jack Vetrianno. He had been married once, but it didn't work and after such he pretty much all but shut out the idea of intimate relationships choosing instead to devote himself to painting. There are a number of things that I share in common with Vetrianno's outlook, background and interests, but that concept just struck me as odd especially given the subject matter of his works. They are all about people and relationships (I attached a few more including one of his most famous).

As I thought about it more it occurred to me that for guys this concept gets pushed to an extent in our culture as "what a real man should be." Case in point - the last James Bond film. Critics loved it for its gritty realness. The new Bond was no longer the unfeeling agent of old that saw people - especially women - as a means to an end. In fact, the underlying premise behind this Bond was to actually show how he became so closed off in his ability to expose his inner feelings. If you think about it for a few minutes you can probably rattle off a dozen movies, TV shows, magazine adds, etc that attempt to portray men as loners that do not let their feelings become their weakness (or if they do it becomes the pinch for the plot).

Honestly, it's an easy trap to fall in. These are the characters and images I identify with, but at the same time I have hurt or been hurt for closing off when I shouldn't have. The trick, I suppose is to find balance in the dichotomy between strength and weakness as they both exist at the same time.


Getting Productive

Well, now that things have settled down a bit I'm finally getting productive again... of course I have shunned all my friends in the process. This project was my obsession for the last 3 days I had started it in Arkansas and when I got here I found three other projects I wanted to do instead but I stayed focused and disciplined which is weird, but whatever. I told myself I could do the other projects when I finished this one first and by golly I rushed, took short cuts and half-arsed my way to the finish. I may have focus and discipline but standards are out the window.

I call it - Drum roll, please.... "The Flatfoots." It's Acrylic on 30x40 canvas. It doesn't look to bad from far away - like say, Toledo. I got the idea from a photo series in a magazine layout... so I can't claim it as something that I yanked from my own tush, but I'm getting closer. Another 35 years and I think I'll have my style down and then I can work on making up my own junk. I at least was somewhat encouraged as I read my favorite painter's (Jack Ventrianno) bio and learned he was self-taught. If I can ever get close to his economy of brush-strokes and understanding of light I will be very happy indeed. I included a few of his paintings for reference.
Time for a nap.

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