Monthly Archives: February 2015

The passing of Leonard Nimoy

I just saw in the news that Leonard Nimoy, perhaps best known for his portrayal of the character “Mr. Spock” on Star Trek, has died.

His accomplishments were many and varied, and I have very fond memories of seeing him both in Star Trek as well as in shows such as “Mission: Impossible,” “In Search Of…” a very memorable episode of “Columbo,” and many others.

He will be missed.

God rest, Mr. Nimoy, and thank you for the enjoyment you brought to so many through your work.

As my friend Darren said, simply, “A sad day.”

I agree.

Enabling by any other name is still enabling – or – why “for the children!!!” isn’t always the best way

It seems the latest in the list of “things to get fired up about” is the upcoming series on WeTV (which, I believe, was or is Women’s Entertainment Television, a cable channel here in the States) called “Sex Box.” The premise of the show, as I gather it, is ostensibly to help people who are having marital problems. The form of therapy is simple; the couple go into a soundproof, completely non-see-through box, have sexual intercourse, and then come out and talk to a panel of “experts” about whatever their troubles are. Again, per the press releases, the idea behind it is that because of the chemicals released after intercourse, it relaxes you and makes you more likely to be honest.

(I want to digress for a moment and tell you, from a personal standpoint, how absolutely ridiculous the premise of this show is, to me. If the box is soundproof, and you cannot see THROUGH it, then for all you know those people could be sitting in there, playing checkers and laughing at how stupid you all were to pay money to come stare at a box/pay the sponsors to watch the show at home. They go in clothed, they come out clothed. But, as I say, I digress, and so back to the blog post)

At this point, the usual suspects (including the Parents Television Council and Concerned Women For America) are up in arms, decrying the show for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the ever-popular “for the children!!!” cry; namely that some innocent, wide-eyed youngster could come upon this dastardly show and be forever scarred by being exposed to talk of sex and sexual relations while they are young. Fair enough. That’s their opinion, and they are welcome to it. I, personally, find the show’s premise to be tasteless and crass. That being said, though, I would like to bring out a different point, and ask you all to ponder it. Ready?

Why is it their job to be guardians of what our children watch on TV? At its base, no matter how well meant the intention, doesn’t that continue to allow parents who take no active role in their children’s welfare to continue to do so? If it does, isn’t that what they call “enabling”? Televisions are built with V-chips (at least, most of them that I am aware of) and cable boxes come with the ability to block channels, programs and ratings – the catch being that the parent has to take the time to DO it. They have to be involved enough to DO so. If it’s not done, and the child sees the show, whose fault, really, IS it? The producer of the show, or the parent who fell down on the job? 

When does a good intention becoming enabling? Not only enabling, but when does it become meddling? Even worse, when does it become yet another way to let people shift responsibility off themselves and put it in the hands of someone else?

In my opinion, right about now.

It’s something to ponder.

God bless today, my friend.

“…thank a Veteran!”

I was watching an episode of the series Life is Worth Living by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen this morning (it’s amazing to me how many things he spoke of during the 50’s that are still as applicable to society, today) and during the course of his lecture he spoke of the soldiers of a nation and how it is they who ensure the freedoms for the country that they serve. It reminded me of a coffee mug that I own, proudly, purchased from one of our local Cracker Barrel restaurant/stores. It is enameled and has pictures of American soldiers from the Revolution onward and, beneath it, has the following caption:

“It is the Veteran, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Veteran, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Veteran, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Veteran, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble.
It is the Veteran, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Veteran, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.”

It then ends with the following, in large letters – “If you love your freedom, thank a Veteran!” An interesting side note is that the original poem that this is taken from ends with these words, which I wish had been included on the mug as well:

“It is the Veteran, who salutes the Flag,
It is the Veteran, who serves under the Flag,
To be buried by the flag,
So the protester can burn the flag.”

That resonated with me, this morning, as I thought of the freedoms which I and so many enjoy here in the USA, and how little we all may (myself included, far too often!) forget to appreciate the actions of those who have sacrificed to secure and protect those freedoms for us. All too often, I fear, the opposition to this idea runs along the lines of an English professor I had in college, whose favorite pastime seemed to be trying to nail students in his class who disagreed with him. Upon hearing that I considered myself to be a patriotic person, he countered (in a very silky voice) with, “Oh, so you agree with everything our country does?” My response was, in a flat tone, “I said I was a patriot, sir – not a fool.” The class laughed at him, which he didn’t like, but it exposed his thinking for what it was – very limited. It was an either or, to him – either “My country, right or wrong,” or “My country, ALWAYS wrong.”

I reject both views, incidentally. To me, it is “My country, right AND wrong – but MY country.” 

Do I agree with everything our country does or has done? Of course not. Our country is made of people, and people make mistakes and sometimes egregious ones. However, the freedom that I have to NOT like those things comes from the work and sacrifice of our veterans, and that’s something that, in my opinion, no one should forget or forget to appreciate. They are the ones who give those who will take all the benefits of our country while doing nothing to support it the ability to do so. They are the ones who give, as the poem says, even the protester the right to burn the same flag that they are buried under. They are the ones who support those who complain endlessly about how “unfair” our country is while conveniently ignoring the benefits that have allowed them to become multi-millionaires through that same system.

Whatever any one of us may think of our government, our President, or any other member of our elected bodies, let’s remember one thing – it is the Veteran who has given us the right to be able to express that, and who continues to secure that right against those who would seek to take it from us. They deserve our thanks, our gratitude, and our respect.

From the bottom of my heart, they have mine.

God bless, today, my friend!

“Give him a friend..because everyone needs a friend…” – today’s blog, courtesy of Bob Ross

On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, episodes of The Joy Of Painting with Bob Ross are run on a cable channel in our area called “Create.” I watch the show with my youngest son, as I not only enjoy (and practice!) the style of painting that Bob Ross taught and promoted, but I also enjoy the relaxing, easy style in which he teaches and does his show. (If you have never seen an episode of Bob Ross’ shows, or do not know who he is, I would heartily recommend you do so as soon as you can. In a hectic, insane world such as ours, he is a welcome break and breath of relaxing, fresh air.) 

In many of his shows, as he is painting in a tree, he will include another tree, along with this statement; “Let’s give him a little friend.” This morning, as I was watching the show, it occurred to me how important that idea is; the idea of having a friend, and also what our society has done to the concept. Hence, this blog post. I hope you find it worthwhile to read.

If you were to look up the definition of the word “friend,” you would find (or at least I did, anyway) two main ones; one a noun, and one a verb. The noun version says this: “a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.” The verb says this: “add (someone) to a list of contacts associated with a social networking website.” Quite a difference, isn’t there? To me, it illustrates the watering down of the word that has occurred in our age of Facebook/Twitter/social networking in general. It becomes more obvious when you consider quotations on friends such as these:

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.” – Walter Winchell

“A true friend is someone who is there for you when he’d rather be anywhere else.” – Len Wein

“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” – Thomas Jefferson

(Ouch! That last one hurt, eh, in our world in which getting rid of “a friend” is as easy as clicking the “un-friend” button)

As you go through your day today, I encourage you to take some time to look up what exactly being a “friend” meant in the classic sense, and to consider those people in your life who you truly would consider to be your friend, as opposed to people who you may have “friend-ed” or who would more be an acquaintance. Do you have even one such person in your life? If you do, it is said, you have not only a great treasure, but “more than your share,” according to Thomas Fuller. Friends aren’t like shoes, clothes, or “things.” The wealth comes not from the accumulation of them – but from the quality.

God bless today, my friend!

A plug for a very handy guide I ran across, in keeping with my “being prepared” post…

While in Barnes and Noble the other day, I ran across the following item: First Aid, Survival and CPR Home and Field Pocket Guide, by Shirley A. Jones. Needless to say, i was intrigued for a number of reasons, and picked it up to thumb through it. I liked it well enough that I purchased it and will say honestly that I am glad I did. I recommend it to anyone who would like a pocket sized wealth of information to carry with them as they go about their daily routines. (I initially looked at it because it would be easier to either put in my IFAK – that’s Individual First Aid Kit, if you didn’t know already – or carry on my person than my full sized first aid manual would be) Here are the positive points as I see them:

  • It’s written by a person who is both an EMT-P and an RN. In the US of A, where I am, that translates into a person who is an Emergency Medical Technician (Paramedic), and Registered Nurse. That, to me, is a plus, since it’s not Joe R. Dunkelfeld putting together a book to sell that may or may not have accurate/proper information in it. It is presumed trustworthy, considering the source. The book is also compliant with HIPAA and OSHA laws (again, these are laws primarily for the USA, which govern proper procedures for protecting yourself and others when dealing with emergency situations). Again, it counts as another mark in favor of its reliability and trustworthiness.
  • The book is designed to be used, and used in the field. The pages are, from the description, both waterproof and able to be written on with a ball point pen, which can then be removed with an alcohol pad to be written on again. This provides you with a way to take notes when in the field, if need be, when assisting someone in an emergency, as well as list emergency contact info on the fly when traveling.
  • The inside cover lists Emergency Information Contacts, such as the American Red Cross, Poison Control Center, Animal Control Center, and the like.
  • The book is separated into sections by thumb tabs, which I found exceedingly easy to manipulate to get to the section I need. Each section is, as far as I have read through it, fairly extensive; for example, the section on CPR even includes a section on how to perform the procedure on pets, should the need arise. That surprised me, since I had never considered having to perform CPR on a dog or cat, but hey, you never know, right? Other sections deal with safety, emergencies in general, injuries, medical emergencies, and also sections on disaster preparedness and survival preparedness and strategies. (I was especially impressed that, as I glanced through those sections in particular, they were common sense strategies and preparedness, as opposed to the more extreme “Prepare for the end of the world!!!!” type that is so popular in the media) 

My copy cost $28 and some change at B&N, but you may be able to pick yours up for less, should you shop around. It can also be ordered directly from the publisher at www.fadavis.com. Again, I would recommend it highly, and I think you would be pleased with it. It would be, to me, a worthwhile investment to have on hand, especially for someone who may not have formal training in First Aid/CPR and would like a quick reference on hand, just in case.

God bless, my friend!

Being prepared, “prepping,” and you

Wait, wait! Hang on a second before you go. I know, if you’re like I was that as soon as you see anything that talks about “prepping” you immediately start picturing wild-eyed individuals who are stocking underground shelters, stockpiling ammunition and supplies, and just waiting for the day when the government/aliens/zombies come to end the world because, by guess and by God, THEY’RE going to be READY.

That’s not what I’m talking about, here. Trust me. Sorry, Discovery Channel, Histeria – I MEAN – “History” Channel, or whomever else may put out shows like that, there’s a lot more to prepping than that, which is a lot less extreme. What I am not going to cover today are things like whether or not you should concealed carry, how to barricade your home and make it impregnable to the people beating your doors down to get your supplies, or how to survive what is commonly called TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It). What I want to have us consider today are the common sense things that all of us can do to prep – to be prepared for the events that can and do occur that can disrupt the “normal” lives we are all used to. I also intend to give some ideas of why I believe it’s a good idea to do so, and then let you, the reader, make your own call on the situation.

First of all, why? That’s the most common question? Why should I? After all, we live in an age of convenience. There are grocery stores, supermarkets and mega-marts within easy traveling distance of almost everyone these days. With that being the case, why bother? Well, let me give you these ideas to chew on and, while you do, remember that I chewed on them first, so this isn’t me preaching to you 🙂 I’m right there WITH you. 

  • Most people (myself included, for a very long time) have a habit of what is called “just in time” shopping. You need something, and you go to the store. Most stores stock their shelves the same way. In an emergency or a disaster, stores generally only have enough stock in the store to keep the store supplied for 2-3 days, and in most cases it is shown that the stores will empty long before that – especially of the essential items like water, canned goods and many perishable items (not to mention batteries and the like!). By prepping (i,e, having a pantry of food in your home) you can avoid being one of the panicked people rushing the stores when something happens. From my own experience, I have seen boil water advisories in our area empty the shelves of bottled water in a few hours. I’ve seen stores packed with people, elbow to elbow, getting food simply because a large winter storm was coming. I can’t imagine what it would be like if a serious disruption occurred.
  • Peace of mind comes with being prepared. Whether it’s being trained in first aid (see my previous post on the subject – yes that’s a plug!), or knowing that you have a supply of food and water in your home, each step of being prepared for the unexpected helps fight down the panic response that we are conditioned to feel by the media and 24 hour news networks every minute of every day. (This has, unfortunately, even translated to The Weather Channel, since they started naming winter storms; a practice which is not supported by the National Weather Service) When a storm is coming, or you suddenly find that there has been a disruption in some service you are used to, knowing you are prepared will help to keep you calm.
  • It makes sense, economically. The biggest crisis facing most people today is the economic downturn; loss of job, loss of livelihood. By slowly and surely building a stockpile of food in your home, you will have one less thing to worry about should you suddenly be out of work, be unable to work for a time, or have your hours cut. It also allows you to pick up items and store them while they are on sale, and then know that when the prices rise on those same items, you bought them for less and saved yourself money.

The next question is, “how?” There are as more “prepping” sites on the internet than you can shake a stick at, and they run the gamut from common sense, “take it slow” sites to the wild eyed “THE ZOMBIES ARE COMING!!!!” sites. Rather than regurgitate all of the information that is out there, let me give some suggestions that I, personally, found helpful:

  • “The Prepper’s Cookbook,” written by Tess Pennington. An excellent resource not only on prepping and building a pantry in general (as well as how to do it step by step, and why) but also how to store and preserve food, with recipes and other information. I highly recommend it.
  • www.theprepperjournal.com is an excellent site, in my opinion, and has many articles dealing with getting started, and how to do so sensibly
  • http://survivaljoe.net/blog/preparedness-tips-for-apartment-dwellers/

So there you have it. Remember, in every disaster, the day before was a normal, average day – just like today.

To close, I leave you with a quote from the old G.I. Joe cartoons – “Now you know – and knowing is half the battle!”

God bless today, my friend!

An oldie but a goodie! Enjoy and smile :)

Ahh, yes. Good old Commander McBragg. I was watching this again, today, with my sons, and we were having a good chuckle at it. Something about the old cartoons that is just missing in the stuff on TV today.

They got an even bigger laugh out of the fact that I could imitate his voice! (The cold helps, admittedly, but still!)

Enjoy, and God bless, my friend!

Commander McBragg – the Khyber Pass:

http://youtu.be/q4roxM8hUMk

Battling a hellacious head cold, but hanging in there! Something for us all, today (besides alliteration)

Well, I am thankful for the fact that as a general rule, I am not prone to getting sick. I generally enjoy pretty decent health (well, unless you count the sudden tendency my brain has to “reboot,” as my friend Darren terms my epilepsy 😀 ) and manage to avoid the things most people end up getting. However, the down side to that is when something DOES manage to overcome my antibodies, it gets me but GOOD.

The last few days have been just like that. Started out as a head cold, now has decided to up the ante on me and turn into body aches, a slight fever, and an overall feeling of “My kingdom for a drain plug in my sinuses!”

That cold, however, and the associated other ills we encounter in life, both large and small, got me to thinking about a book I am currently reading. The title is A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, written by William B. Irvine. Now, I can hear many of you saying “Wait..what? STOIC joy? Stoic? Isn’t that like Mr. Spock? Straight faced, no emotion, never show anything?”  I hear you on that one, because that was, for most of my life, MY understanding of the term Stoic, and of Stoic ideals in general. Imagine my surprise, however, to find that that is not what Stoicism meant, in the classical sense. No worries, by the way; I am not going to go into an in depth discussion of the book and what it means, nor am I going to get into a deep discussion of philosophy. I will, however, do two things. First, I will encourage you to pick up a copy of the book, whether in physical form or on your e-reader of choice. I have found it to be engaging, easy to understand, and really a work that makes me, personally, stop and say “Huh…” and take a good look at what I believe and why. I believe it would do the same for you. Secondly, I’ll touch on some points about the book, and Stoicism, that stuck out to me. Ready? Ok – let’s go!

  • Stoicism does not advocate eliminating emotions. It, instead, helps us understand how to not have our lives constantly upset and controlled, if you will, by negative emotions; emotions such as anger, fear, anxiety, jealousy. In many ways, I have found a striking resemblance to the form of therapy called REBT – Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy. It, too, deals with the reactions that we have to events around us and gives us the tools not to STOP those reactions, but instead to know what to do when we have them and stop allowing ourselves to be controlled BY them.
  • Stoicism has many points that correlate with my own faith and views. (And, as the author points out, as it does with many other religious beliefs, as well as with the stance of those who are agnostic or may have no belief at all) Stoics believed in helping others and “loving mankind.” They believed, as the author says, in trying to achieve a tranquility in life, and to focus only on changing those things which we are capable of changing, instead of tilting at windmills, trying to change those things that are not in our power to do anything about. (Serenity Prayer, anyone?)
  • Finally, Stoicism teaches an appreciation of the everyday things that all of us, myself included, tend to take for granted. For example, you the reader – were you grateful that you woke up this morning? That you have a home to live in? A computer or device on which to read this blog? Food to eat? Strength with which to either work or look for work? That point, I believe, has impacted me the most in my life. Whether it be from the simple act of praying before we eat – going from “something we do” to being genuinely grateful for the food we have and the time we have to spend together – to being glad for another day, even when I am sick as a dog, as I am today, the little things in life are worth celebrating and being thankful for.

I would encourage everyone reading this to pick up a copy of the book. I believe you will be glad you did. I know I am, even as I continue reading it and mining the nuggets from it, as it were, anew every day.

God bless today, my friend!

Honesty, openness, caring. Encouragement in spades, I hope. Hang in there.

**PLEASE NOTE: I have again made this the “sticky” post (i.e. the first post anyone sees when coming to the page) because I believe that, if you read no other posts, this one is the one that is most important and has the most impact in terms of message and encouragement. All new posts will appear below it and thank you for understanding! 

I was thinking of different things to blog about, today. Some were cheery, some were silly, some were entirely too close to the Sunshine and Rainbows Coming Out of Your Backside, now that I look back at them, to be honest with you. I started this site as a way of posting thoughts and ideas, but above all as a vehicle to offer encouragement. It wasn’t until this morning that I realized that encouragement comes in many different packages. Not all of them are trite, smiley faced emoticons or pictures of cute kittens that say “Hang in there!” Sometimes, they come wrapped in tragedy, whether they be ours or someone else’s. Seems incongruous, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. If I may ask a favor of you, the reader – if you never have read another post on this page; if you never read another one, please read this one. I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason, and I believe this blog post may be the most important one I ever put on here. Why? I have no idea. I can’t see the future – but I believe someone, at some time, will read this and it will speak to them. It will be a message of encouragement, but there are going to be some bumps along the way. Hang on.

I was trying to find an image from a graphic novel that I have, entitled, “JLA : Liberty and Justice.” To make a long story short, rumors of a plague are spreading and in one panel a girl decides to end it quickly by jumping from a bridge instead of suffering alone. The final image on the page is Superman holding her in his arms and the caption reads, “But on this night, no one was forgotten, least of all by those who had promised to save others from despair.” I couldn’t find that one. I am glad I couldn’t actually, because I found this one, instead. It’s a section from another story in which Superman deals with a young girl who has decided to end her life by jumping from a building ledge. I don’t know if it’s considered good form or poor to post a link rather than the image itself, but the images were long, so please forgive me and don’t be put off by having to go to the actual page and read it. Just read it. The post won’t make much sense if you don’t. I’ll wait. I promise.

http://imgur.com/gallery/Ijdxh

Wasn’t that something? As I finished reading it, I suddenly realized that I had my post. See, I could easily identify with both people in that story. I could identify with the Man of Steel, and I could identify (God knows I could identify) with the girl on the ledge. I’ve been in the position of raging at the unfairness of life and being the one whose only answer to give was “Because life isn’t fair or unfair; it just is.”  In the Bible they call that “The rain falls on the just and on the unjust.” 

I probably dreamed of saving the world at one time; heck, as a lifetime fan of Superman I KNOW I did, but I started out truly believing I would save just one person. In this case, it was my niece, Rebecca whom I loved dearly; whom I played with, watched and re-enacted “Superman II” with about a bazillion times, re-enacted episodes of The Munsters with (strangely enough, I always had to play Herman)  and who ultimately ended up dying of cystic fibrosis at the age of 8. I always knew she was sick, but that didn’t matter, you see. I was her smart “Uncle Clark” (She really did call me that – a privilege none of my other nieces or nephews were allowed to enjoy) who promised her that I was going to grow up, find a cure for her disease and cure her so that she could play and not have to go to the hospital for breathing treatments, not be sick, and be able to play like all her friends. I didn’t tell her I’d try, I didn’t tell her I’d give it my best; I promised her, in all my youthful ignorance, that I’d do it. Period. She believed me. I can still see her smiling.

Yet she died. One day my brother Jeff came and got me from school. When we got in the car he said “Jame, Bec died this morning.”  My entire world self-destructed. it was only years later, when i finally started to come apart at the seams, mentally, and went to counseling in college that I realized that from that day on, I carried the burden of believing I had lied to her. I LIED. Not only had I not saved her, I had lied to her, and I never forgave myself for it.

As I read the comic and saw the pain on Superman’s face when he spoke of wanting to save the world; when he said “…and sometimes…we don’t.”  I felt that pain again. When he spoke of his friend who “checked out early,” I saw again a girl I watched, literally, grow up in a time when coming from a home of mixed parentage (white and black), as well as a home with an absent father was a curse in my little home town and who was roundly ostracized for it and called about every racial slur you could come up with. A girl who used to come on the bus still eating her breakfast (usually something like toast) and who would sit by me because I was pretty much the only one who would allow her to. (They lived right down the road from me; I knew she and her brother well)  A girl who in all probability I wasn’t half as good a friend to as I needed to be and who decided one night that her life was no longer worth living. At the age of 16, she hanged herself in a girls’ home in Schenectady. I remembered coming home and being told of it and having to literally put a plate down so that I didn’t throw it into a wall in a blind fury. She never got a break, that girl, and in the end, she decided there weren’t going to be any more good days for her, I suppose.

She died, too, despite all my high sounding words and good intentions.

When the girl spoke of burying her mother, I could identify with it. I’ve buried a mother, a father at 17, a brother, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, and friends of friends. It seems, sometimes, in my 44 years of life that it’s been one long funeral. In the words of the poet, Thomas Moore, “I feel like one who treads, alone, some banquet hall, deserted. Whose lights are fled, whose garlands, dead, and all, but he, departed.”  As a home dad with two special needs sons and who was diagnosed epileptic about 2 years ago, I could readily identify with the times of hopelessness that come upon you when you look around and say things like, “Really? Is THIS the life I expected?” “Is this all there is?” Back in the days when I dreamed of being a nuclear physicist, a meteorologist, or even just “too busy helping other people to ever be married,” I would have laughed at anyone who told me what my life would turn out to be, too. I could identify with those feelings, that she expressed.

I can even identify with suicidal thoughts, as I am sure all of us can, from one time or another in our lives. I have had days when my life has nosedived and crashed, HARD, into the ground.

Yet, in that story, there is hope, and there is encouragement, just as there is in MY story. The hope and encouragement comes not from Superman swooping in, solving the problems and saving the day, all while lecturing the person on how suicide is “no way out” and showing them being led off to a better life by helpful doctors, as it would have been once upon a time.  It comes, instead, from Superman doing what we all can do; being human, being vulnerable, and caring enough to help. Caring enough to listen. Caring enough to care. He doesn’t lecture, he doesn’t push, he doesn’t anything except care. He gives the girl room, and he doesn’t try and downplay what she’s feeling. The encouragement that he gives, the hope that he gives, I have received a hundredfold from my friends and my family. I have been blessed beyond words to have had friends who cared enough to listen, and to be there; family who have cared enough to listen (my sister, my brothers, my mother) and an unshakable faith that, in the end, this is not all that there is.

I don’t know where you are right now. I don’t know what you are facing, have faced, or may face. To you, all I can do is offer this: you are not alone.  If you are in pain, or you are suffering, you are not the only one who is. There are those who care, and those who will listen. Don’t give in, and don’t give up. Superman said “If you think there’s a chance that there may be one more happy day out there, take my hand.” I’m here to tell you that there IS another happy day. DON’T GIVE UP.

I’m also here to say to you, the reader, that if you are not going through these things but you know those who are, don’t be afraid to be the one who steps up alongside them and offers to listen. We live in a world that is rapidly becoming faster and faster paced, and with the advent of so many electronic gadgets and ways of keeping in contact with one another over electronic mediums, is also becoming less and less human. We live in a society where people are “afraid to look foolish,” or “afraid they may misunderstand.” Don’t let that stop you or make you be distant from others. You may not be able to save everyone; indeed, no one can – but you never know what difference YOU may make with just a word, a smile, or a kind gesture. It may mean nothing to you, but it may, literally, mean everything to someone else.

I should know – I’m living proof of what a difference it can make, and I’m eternally grateful.

God bless today, my friend.

Of Batman, Superman, memes and fans

Man, you should have SEEN it. I had this entire blog post ready and raring to go. I was going to discuss how I had run across something the other day that I had never seen before; namely that the whole “Could Batman beat Superman in a fight?” question had spawned its own internet memes, entire boards of arguments, counter-arguments, and is still going, even now. I was going to bring in how the question made no sense because it was, out of necessity, too conditional, and had an entire discussion on the subject ready to go. It would have been something.

Then, however, something changed. I realized that when you scraped away all those things, that wasn’t really what bugged me about that whole discussion and situation. As I was paring the post down, I ran across this quote on a discussion board, made by a poster whose title was “Manwhohaseverything,” and to whom I give a very grateful tip of the hat. He said, simply, this: (the italics and bold print are mine)

“What makes Batman a great character? I think it’s partly because he’s NOT invincible, not super-anything (except maybe intelligent, and I would say he’s just “very smart”, not “super-smart.) it’s because he has weaknesses, both physical and mental, that he must over-come. Like us!! (Well, not exactly like us, but you get the spirit of what I’m saying.) Now, if we take THAT character and suddenly say he can beat: Demi-god beings (Superman, Wonder Woman.) Or beat folks like Green Lantern and Flash with powers beyond human comprehension, than what’s the point of the character? if he can do those things, we may as well make him a god or super-powered alien. If he can beat folks like that, than for all practical purposes, he IS a demi-god or a cosmic being. No thank you. I want my Batman to be human. A very skilled human, far better than anyone of us could hope to become, but a human nevertheless. I think those insisting he could beat Superman (with prep or whatever) actually take away from, not add to, the character Batman is intended to be.”

That comment said what I was feeling, far better than I could have said it, myself. It cut through all the tiresome hyperbole, intellectual arguments and other assorted things and got to the nub of what was wrong, to me. I miss Batman. I miss the Batman of old; the one who was part of The World’s Finest. The one who was the World’s Greatest Detective, and who, despite not having world shaking powers, kept stride with the likes of Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and the rest. I missed the Batman who strove to do good, instead of being more of the “Dirty Harry” type Batman, i.e., the only difference between he and the villains was that he brought the villains in. I miss the Batman who wasn’t sick, wasn’t paranoid and wasn’t able to do pretty much anything because, ‘well, Batman.’

Maybe I’m old fashioned, or maybe the world moved on and I refused to move with it – but I’ll still take those days over what Batman has become; namely a person who, in his own right, is every bit as “super powered” as the rest because his multi-billions and godlike intellect allow him to, literally, sneak into pretty much anywhere he wants, come up with ways to defeat each and every one of the JLA and overcome beings who are magnitudes of degrees beyond his ability.

And he’s still considered to be “un-powered” and “only” a mortal man..? Really?

Could Batman beat Superman? No. It’s neither a fair question, nor one that can be answered without a lot of conditions being set, and without the writer giving him a LOT of advantages. The real strength of Batman is, to me, that he doesn’t have to. There’s no contest here, and nothing to prove. The Batman I knew had a genuine respect and admiration for the Man of Steel, and the feeling was mutual. Batman was Batman. Superman was Superman. They weren’t equal, but despite that, they also weren’t rivals – they were friends. As one writer put it,  Batman and Superman being “edgy” with one another is too much like Tonto turning on The Lone Ranger.

That’s the Batman I grew up with. That’s the Batman I remember. That’s the Batman I like and prefer. Anything else is, to me, a disservice to the character, his history and his legacy.

More’s the pity, I say.

God bless, my friend.