Monday, December 30, 2013

Bad Intentions

Comedian Doug Stanhope has raised a lot of money for a Moore, Oklahoma tornado survivor. He says he's rounded up the moolah because the woman is an atheist and he wants to "piss off" the Christians she's surrounded by.

Those Christians, by the way, were affected by the tornado, too. The family of Kyle Davis, for instance, was hit particularly hard. Devout Christians, they lost their eight year old son in the disaster. Not that Stanhope gives a rat's ass.

Then again, who's to say? Is it beyond the realm of possibility that a person who torments tornado victims might also find the death of a child amusing...or perhaps even deserved?

The point here is that Doug Stanhope is a sick guy. I've no doubt he's funny and that he's got lots of people supporting what he's done here...but that doesn't take away from the fact that the man's got serious issues.

"Charity feels good." Stanhope claimed in a piece he wrote for, "even when you're doing it as a big 'Fuck You' to Christians who you've pre-judged, and not because you care about someone losing their shit."

Glad you feel good, Doug. No doubt you'd be delighted if someone pointed out that Christ was big on condemning those who did good things for bad reasons.

But I digress. Is there anyone out there, anyone at all, who believes Doug Stanhope is a genuinely happy person? We've all been hateful at one point or another. And, if we're at all honest with ourselves, we can readily admit that being hateful takes its toll on us.

Which leads me to my final point:

In 2014, we, as a society, should try to stop focusing on the negative so much. America has become an insanely tisky, overly-sensitive, and angry place. It's all turning us into a nation of Doug Stanhopes, a people so jaded that we can't see the value of just being nice with no attachments.

And no one wants to be like Doug Stanhope. Not even Doug. Trust me on this.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Shout-Out To My Sis

Truth be told, it would be understandable if I were jealous of my sister. She's better educated, after all. She's also more charming. And less boisterous. She's probably a whole lot more fun to be around, to boot. Still, I'm not jealous. Not in the least. Why? Because, corny as it sounds, I'm grateful to have the girl around.

Here's a person who baby sat my ass through the endless drunken stupors of my youth, who stood by my side when everyone else (rightfully) walked away. She also cheered me on as I finally got my act together, too, offering me much needed support whenever possible. What's more, she's a great mom, as well as a great sister-in-law and friend to my wife, Jen. She's a terrific daughter, too.

Oh, and she doesn't take my crap, either. When others find a "Sean Situation" too delicate to act upon, she steps right up to the plate and gives it to me straight. I couldn't stand when she did that back when we were kids. I'm grateful she does it now.

So yeah, I'm penning a gushy shout out to my kid sis. I guess there are those who prefer rage-induced rants at the ills of the world - and, believe me, I'm good for plenty of those - but today I'm just going to give some much needed credit where credit is due.

Happy 21st Birthday, Heather!

PS: She's not really 21. Don't let her know I said so.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Why Charity And Stupidity Don't Mix

Your house shouldn't be open to absolutely everyone - no matter how big.

Let's get one thing out of the way right now - charity is a good thing. No, charity is a great thing. No, charity is an ESSENTIAL thing. It's good to keep in mind, however, that charity, like so many wonderful things, can sometimes be handled with stupidity and hence become harmful.

Take exercise, for instance. A good thing, right? Not when you decide to add an extra four miles to your morning run when it's a hundred and two degrees outside, you've got company showing up in an hour, your child has to go to camp and you've left the oven on.

Stupidity has a knack for turning good things bad. Which brings me back to charity. There are people out there who are generous, empathetic and completely stupid. They'll  invite a guy to live in their home even though the dude was just tossed from his own house two nights earlier for shattering all the windows in a crack induced blackout - his second of the week, no less. There comes a certain point when you have to ask if doing the right thing is really doing the right thing.

Back when I was drinking I would stumble down the streets of New York, giving money to each and every person with a hand out on the sidewalk. My sister, knowing a lush at work when she saw one, would suggest I keep my money in my pocket for the evening, then give a goodly sum to an organized charity when I sobered up.

Makes sense, doesn't it? Respectable charities tend to give your hard earned money to people who need it in EFFECTIVE WAYS. That's why it's better to give to people who will spend wisely. Or better yet, volunteer your time. Spending a few hours a week helping out in a homeless shelter will do society a lot more good than slipping a five to someone with rotting teeth and track marks up and down the arms.

 Being charitable feels good, but charity is about more than patting yourself on the shoulder. Don't be one of those people who makes generosity and stupidity synonymous with one another. Your won't be helping anyone - especially not yourself.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

An Update

Hey all. I have an article appearing at Boxing Insider explaining why former champ David Haye may actually be Tyson Fury's best friend. Check it out here!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Losing Weight

The Wold's Greatest Cat Is A Firm Believer In Moderation.

Ever since I was a kid I've been nagged by people who tell me I can accomplish things if only I'd really WANT to. After all, wanting something, really wanting something, means you're willing to put yourself out of your comfort zone in order to get it.

Anyway, I read an article today at NJ.COM that showcased a man who really wanted to achieve something. And guess what? He did! The man is a Mixed Martial Artist who had to lose a bunch of weight for an upcoming match. He struggled, sure, but he got the job done.

Being inspired by this fighter's definition of what it is to really WANT something, I've decided, for the first time in my life, really, to put in the hard work everyone tells me is necessary in order to achieve a goal. That's right, I'm going to lose weight like someone who really WANTS to.

First, I'm going to crank up the heat in our place to ninety degrees. Then, I'm going to rub my wife's makeup remover all over my body in order to open up my pores (how the hell can I sweat off the pounds if my damned pores are closed???).

After I'm finished with the rub down, I'm going to don a rubber suit in order to start really getting my temperature up there. While doing that, I'm going to fill my bathtub with a combination of near scalding water, rubbing alcohol and Epsom salts.

Now, even though it will be hard for me to inhale and exhale at this point, I'm going to take the rubber suit off and sit my ass in that tub for a good half an hour.

But I'm not done. Not even close.

After I'm finally able to climb out of the tub I'm going to somehow manage to put my rubber suit back on. This may require the help of the guy downstairs, since, by this point, my wife may well have scooped up the World's Greatest Cat and fled to her sister's.

Undeterred, I'll crawl down to the garage in said rubber suit, somehow get inside my car and drive on over to the nearest gym, pulling over whenever I get lightheaded. Once at the gym, I'll hop right inside the sauna and spend the rest of the day in there. During moments of consciousness, I'll scrape the sweat off my body with a plastic bank card so more sweat will be able to flow at a faster pace.

Being discovered sometime after closing by the gym manager, I'll bum a ride home, then put the rubber suit back on and run another bath. Several days later, my wife will most likely find me in there when she comes to collect the rest of her things.

Being roused out of my near coma, I'll hop onto the scale and luxuriate in the fact that finally, at forty-two years of age, I've wanted something enough to do what's necessary to attain it. Then I'll pass back out again.

The next day I'll go to IHOP.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Hey all! Just wanted to give a head's up: my latest boxing article can be found here at Boxing Insider. It deals with the (possible) future of Iron Mike Tyson.

Check it out!

Monday, November 4, 2013

ObamaCare and Lying

The World's Greatest Cat finds it all exhausting.

So here's the ugly truth: you may not be able to keep your health care plan. What's more, you may not even be able to keep your doctor.

Here's another ugly truth: our president repeatedly told you, on camera, that you can keep both those things.

Still, he may not have lied. I repeat, he may not have lied.

Now, before I get my cranium cleaned for splitting hairs, let me explain. One does not lie simply by telling an untruth. In order for one to lie, one must KNOWINGLY tell an untruth. No evidence has yet been presented indicating the president knew his plan would turn out as it did when he made those bold, yet untrue, statements.

George W. Bush found himself in the same position as Barack Obama a while back. He told us Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. We subsequently invaded. And, guess what? No such weapons. Not a one.

Still, he may not have lied. I repeat, he may not have lied.

If we delve into the facts, we find that top intelligence agencies, both in and out of the United States, believed ol' Saddam had himself some pretty nasty stuff. Bush claimed he was taking a cue from those respected agencies. Therefore, until we have solid evidence to the contrary, we must simply assume that Bush misspoke.

The same goes for Obama.

Of course, none of this means that these politicians should be let off the hook for their blunders. Incompetence at the presidential level carries with it some serious consequences. Thousands of lives were lost in Iraq because people believed Bush. And now millions are losing their health insurance because of Obama. Yet that doesn't necessarily make these men villains.

In fact, the only villains I can see at the moment are on television. I'm talking about those ObamaCare supporters who claim the people losing their insurance now would have cost the rest of us later. Way to point the finger at the victims, guys. Where was your "brutal honesty" back when ObamaCare wasn't yet the law of the land? Sometimes the word "scum" truly does apply.

But I digress. The bottom line is this: if you're going to call someone a liar, then you'd better be damned sure that he or she lied. Otherwise you yourself may be guilty of making a false accusation.

And you certainly don't want that.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Five Great Villains You've Probably Never Heard Of

Is this the face of evil?

Darth Vader. Norman Bates. Hannibal Lecter. We all know the great movie villains. Our love/hate relationship with these guys - and sometimes gals - is pretty much unending, as we continuously embrace these freaks generation after generation. I'm sure there's a thousand studies out there explaining exactly WHY we find these characters so fascinating.What I want to focus on here, though, is a handful of completely kick ass movie villains you may have never heard of. These characters are not only well-written, they're also well-played.

Let's take a look, shall we?

  • Uncle Charlie: If you've never seen Hitchcock's Shadow Of A Doubt, check it out as soon as you can. It's the story of Uncle Charlie, who's played by Jospeh Cotton and who moves in with the most all-American family you've ever seen. Problem is, Uncle Charlie is a sick son of a bitch. He gets his kicks killing people, you see...but his niece just might be on to him. Cotton really brings this character to life. Remembered mainly  today as a likable everyman (the one who didn't get the girl in The Third Man), Cotton uses his nice guy persona here to make Uncle Charlie a truly chilling character. Seriously...this is the kind of person you could easily imagine entering your own mundane world. That's what makes him so memorable.  

  • The Jackal: Without doubt, one of my all time favorite films is Fred Zimmerman's The Day Of The Jackal. It's one of those what if  stories that focuses on a high end paid assassin whose latest assignment is to kill famed World War Two hero and French President, Charles DeGaulle. Thing is, De Gaulle has the tightest security in the world. That doesn't deter the assassin, however, who goes about meticulously planning and putting into motion a single action which will rock the world. We never learn the assassin's name, by the way. He goes only by The Jackal. As brilliantly portrayed by  British actor Edward Fox, the Jackal is well-bred, well dressed, polite, charming, and deadly as hell. The guy is pure ice. 

  • Jobert: Truth be told, Three Days Of The Condor is, with the exception of Patton, my single favorite film of all time. This Robert Redford flick is so paranoid, so smart and, yes, so thoughtful that I'd highly recommend it to anyone who really appreciates movies. It's a true rarity - art and entertainment rolled into one, a popcorn flick that makes you want to read a whole bunch of books after seeing it. What elevates this New York City 70s film to such heights? The acting of Max von Sydow.  As contract killer Jobert, Von Sydow in this movie seems more like a warm., brainy Eurpoean grandfather than he does an assassin - and that's what makes both he and the film he occupies so captivating. 

  • The Dane: If you like gangster movies, then you pretty much have no choice other than to check out the Coen Brother's 1990 masterpiece, Miller's Crossing. A hyper-stylized prohibition era tale of Irish and Italian hoodlums battling for control of a major city, the movie is punctuated by brilliant, sometimes over-the-top performances (if you don't think over-the-top can equal quality, then you really need to check it out). In a cinematic field of hard cases, though, no one in the flick is harder, or more brutal, than Eddie Dane, henchman to Italian mob boss Johnny Casper. Played, awesomely by  J.E.Freeman (if "awesomely" isn't a word, it should be), the Dane is smart, completely (and I mean completely) ruthless, and mean as hell. The guy is as cold and powerful as the .44 Revolver he uses with such deadly efficiency. You wouldn't want to meet him on the street, much less piss him off. 

  • Victor: Sure, you may have seen Jean Reno play this character (more or less) in Luc Besson's The Professional, but you've never seen him like he is in Besson's French Action flick Le Femme Nikita. Victor shows up at the end of the film to, well, clean up...and man, can he clean up. Some things you just have to see to believe, so feel free to check out Victor in action right here. Don't worry that no one's speaking English. The time for words ends very quickly. But be warned - this clip is disturbing and EXTREMELY violent. Definitely not for the kids.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

More Things To Be Offended By!

Fun activity: try picking out all the offensive things in this picture!

Surfing the net today (does anyone still use the term "surfing the net?), I came across an article at Madame Noire titled 14 Nice Things Men Do That Are Lowkey Creepy. That's right, women of America, there are now 14 more things for you to potentially be offended by, including having lunch dropped off at your workplace.

Not to worry guys, there's plenty of more stuff out there for you to be offended by, too. In fact, there's plenty for everyone to be offended by. So, in keeping with my theory that we've become a nation of nutcases, lets investigate!

Offended yet? If not, why not? Because you've got more important things to do? Because you only wish to be offended when a particular situation warrants your being offended? If so, then you're clearly not joining in the craze that's sweeping America. Of course, that might be a good thing...

...if it weren't so offensive. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

America Has Become A Nation Of Nutcases

When offended, the World's Greatest Cat keeps it to herself.

I offended someone last night. I'm not sure how, since what I said was completely innocuous - or so I thought. Still, I offended someone. Perhaps profoundly. Now, I'm not going to bother getting into the details of the situation. Suffice to say it occurred at a public gathering and was the result of a compliment I made to third parties.

I don't know the person who I set off. Not even a little. My compliment (which, again, was not directed at this individual) contained no slurs or swears. It didn't even contain any attempt at humor - which is a rarity for me. Still, what I thought was an act of kindness towards others turned out to be an act which triggered a tear filled rant.

Needless to say I considered finding an opportune time to make things right with this person. I decided not to, though, basing my decision on the fact that the individual was either: emotionally troubled, wildly immature, inebriated, or some combination of the three.

Now that I've had some time to think things over, however, I'm also considering a third option: that the person in question is merely a product of this time and place in history. After all, being offended has now replaced baseball as America's treasured pastime.

Think about it - you can't turn on the news or go on the internet without hearing about some "offensive" thing someone has uttered, tweeted or otherwise written. Problem is, half the time - at least half the time - the offensive act isn't really offensive. Or it's something so petty, it warrants nothing more than a shrug of the shoulders. Only crazy people continuously blow harmless things out of proportion, a fact which leads me to write the following, sad words:

America has become a nation of nutcases.

It's true. We have to accept this fact if we're going to move on and get our act together. We've got lives to lead, people. We can't keep wasting our time wringing our collective hands over some athlete making a locker room joke over another athlete's ethnicity. Or because someone had the audacity to light a cigarette while sitting on a park bench. Seriously, the second hand smoke isn't going to kill your child, trust me on this.

Think about it: the world is loaded with people who want to kill and enslave us. That's not hyperbole, it's the truth. If we want to have the strength to fend off that kind of evil we can't waste our time and energy endlessly mining words and actions in the hope of feeding our paranoia. Honestly, if we really want to be offended, Al Qaeda will gladly give us things to be offended over...if we survive long enough to be offended.

You may well ask what makes me the expert on these matters. Well, I myself am someone who, by nature, is easily offended by the littlest things. Truly. I can be annoying as hell. Yet I can now also say with certainty that I recognize my problem. As they say, identifying a problem is half the battle.

With that in mind, I'm perfectly aware there are genuinely offensive things being said and done out there. Mean things. Hurtful things. Yet people simply aren't going to stop being insensitive and cruel. In other words, I'm just going to have to keep on living my life, righting wrongs when I can and otherwise behaving - or at least trying to behave - like a person who has his wits about him.

Otherwise, I'll have to stock up on tissues and lozenges, since there's a lot out there for me to scream and cry about. And you don't want to see that. Seriously. It's pathetic.  

Friday, October 11, 2013

Why You Shouldn't Be Like Eddie Vedder

Like so many of our great rockers, the World's Greatest Cat is all about the long hair.

According to the Huffington Post, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder recently gave an interview to a surfer. In said interview, Vedder, who's rabidly pro gun control, claimed he's close to hoping harm will befall those who disagree with him on the hot button issue.

Oh, and he also declared that he himself might be dangerous with a gun (if he didn't have his music, of course).

You might conclude that Vedder is crazy. Or stupid. Or both. He may indeed be those things, but I think the guy just needs to grow up.

Seriously Eddie, you're not a kid anymore. Your hipster card was revoked once your core fan base started turning gray. It's time to think before you speak in public and spew your idiocies in private like the rest of us.

Vedder is a perfect example of how you shouldn't act. His band may be good. He also has a right to his opinions. No one is going to take those opinions seriously, however, so long as he comes across like a petulant man-child.

Look at it this way: no gun control activist worth his or her weight in salt is going to want to align with Vedder's words in that interview. Not one. They're an embarrassment. And so is he.

Don't be like Eddie Vedder. Think before you deliver your heartfelt opinions on weighty matters. Remember, you want to convince people you're right, not convince them you're a joke.

Rock on.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Why Pretending To Work Hard Is Now Sadly A Better Way To Get Ahead Than Actually Working Hard

The World's Greatest Cat Can't Help But Be Herself.

Market yourself. Promote yourself. Be unique. Be original. That, my friend, is the key to being a winner in life. At least that's what I've read.

Frankly, I find it all a bit tiring. Wasn't there a time when one could get noticed solely on concrete things like accomplishments and potential? If there wasn't, there should have been. All this showy crap has gotten under my skin.

Not that life is particularly hard for me at the moment. I've just noticed that many Americans don't really work anymore - at least many of those who want to get ahead don't. Sure, they all say they work their asses off, but they don't.

Instead, they act. They create characters which are deemed appropriate for whatever jobs or environments they wish to occupy. Then they make a career out of playing those characters over and over again. Like Charlie Chaplin once did. Or like Charlie Sheen does now.

Washington is the prime example of this victory of the shallow over the concrete, of course. Yet the giant, ugly squid of superficiality has now wrapped its giant, ugly tentacles around all aspects of American life. Look about your work place and, guaranteed, you'll see at least one person getting ahead by simply playing a character who gets ahead.

And we wonder why the good 'ol US of A seems to be crumbling from within. If someone asked me why America is slowly falling like an enormous redwood, I'd answer that, while we used to be a superpower filled with productive people, we're now a waning superpower filled with people who pretend to be productive.

I've never actually witnessed a redwood falling, but I'm assuming the crash is kinda thunderous.

Monday, September 23, 2013


The World's Greatest Cat is floored by how prejudiced people can be.

Prejudice is alive and well here in the good old US of A.

Just not in the way you think it is.

See, people show their intolerance all the time, like they did in the bad old days. Only now the targets are (usually) different. Kathy Griffin once told Jesus to "suck it." And those Christians she gave the figurative finger to by saying it? Griffin made it clear in a later interview to C.B.S. that she couldn't care less about them or their feelings.

Fair enough. But ask yourself this: would Kathy Griffin publicly tell the Prophet Muhammad to do the same thing she told Jesus to? You know full well what the answer is. Kathy Griffin, simply put, is a coward. Sure, she's funny, but she's a coward.

Then again, prejudiced people are cowards. That's why they're prejudiced. Archie Bunker was the most fearful person on earth. To go easy on people who are different than you is to lower your defenses, to leave yourself open to hurt. Better to always be on your guard, to always be on the attack...if, of course, you're a coward.

Still, the fear of prejudice can be taken too far, as well. Just turn on the TV if you don't believe me.

Chris Matthews of M.S.N.B.C., for instance,  is a smart and capable commentator. Or at least he used to be. These days, you see, he's as apt to accuse large swaths of people of racism as he is to give a nuanced opinion of beltway politics. It's too bad, really. Matthews has allowed his fear of prejudice to turn him into a comical reactionary.

Ultimately, it all comes down to this: try to be nice to people. Not just the the people your supposed to be nice to, either.

And not just when it's convenient to.

African Americans, for instance, have been ridiculously deemed infallible by many in the media. Yet I've seen African Americans deal with crap in places where it seemed no one was around to defend them. Again, prejudiced people are cowards.

So just be nice. Or I may have to sick Kathy Griffin on you.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

On Confidence

The World's Greatest Cat Always Knows Exactly What She Wants.

So I'm doing it. I'm writing my elusive World War One script. I've wanted to do this for years. Years, I tell you! And now I'm actually penning it. Feels good. This post isn't about my creative writing, though. It's about the fact that sometimes you just have to shrug off your fears and get things done.

One of the things about me is I question. A lot. In fact, the art of questioning is something I've mastered. Seriously. I'm Picasso with the inquiries. It takes me forever, if at all, to make a decision.

Truth is, I'm the sort of guy who feels we only get one shot at life, so we shouldn't screw it up. Therefore, I weigh my options obsessively. To the point of inertia. And that's not good. Maybe it has something to do with the fact I grew up with a learning disability. Back then, people with learning disabilities were forever getting beaten down for not getting things "right." Yet the past doesn't excuse the present.

The harsh reality is there's a thousand reasons not to write this script right now. No one may be interested in buying it. Not too many people are curious about the First World War. I'm lazy. My writing needs to be improvedThe list goes on and on forever.

I recently found myself actually getting depressed by it.

Then I saw a Floyd Mayweather interview last night where he gave the impression he just does what he does and everything works out. What Mayweather does, in case you don't know, is train and box. And he does it better than anyone. He doesn't obsess over strategy. He doesn't question a million questions. He simply does his thing.

And that's what I'm doing right now - I'm simply doing my thing. And my thing is writing.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Are You Anti-Tebow?

Some people are just bitter because they don't have really cool things.

Are you anti-Tebow?

Do you find yourself happy to have learned that poor Tim was cut from the New England Patriots? Do you hope to never see his smiling face again...ever? If so, you need to look over the list below. Perhaps you're justified in your Tebow aversion. Then again, perhaps not. You be the judge.

Some very possible reasons for being anti-Tebow:

  • You're a serious sports fan who feels the guy just isn't that great. This is a perfectly legitimate reason for feeling as you do. You're not really anti-Tebow so much as you're pro-legitimate sports star. If a football player gets as famous as Tebow has, you feel the guy has to have earned it. And, let's face it, Tebow hasn't proven himself to be on the same level as a Tom Brady, or a Troy Aikman, or a Joe Montana, or a Terry Bradshaw, or a Joe Namath, or a... 

  • You simply aren't the type of person who falls for hype. Again, this has less to do with Tebow than it does with the way you see the world. Tebow is wildly popular among a segment of the population and that in and of itself raises your ire. If you're someone who avoids Star Wars movies and Bob Dylan songs simply because slavish fandom rubs you the wrong way, you're probably never going to be a fan of Mr. Tebow, no matter what he accomplishes on the field. 

  • You don't like Christians. This, sadly, pretty much makes you an idiot.   

  • You're shallow and go along with the crowd. Public opinion has largely turned against Tebow, so now you too feel the need to proclaim that you "just can't stand the guy." It's okay. You're just one of those individuals who follows the majority. It's a scary world out there, after all, and survival is priority one. 
          Seriously, though, you've got to grow up. Everyone sees through you.

  •  You enjoy watching famous people fall from on high. It's understandable to feel this way, but it's kind of pathetic, nonetheless. Chances are you don't know any of the famous people you delight in seeing "humbled." What's more, if you did know them, there's a chance you might actually like them. Jealousy really is the most embarrassing of emotions.

Monday, August 26, 2013

How Stupid Are We?

I'm glad the game was on.

So MTV went wild again last night and people are outraged. Gimme a break. MTV has been pulling this crap for over a quarter of a century now. Society should be used to it. But apparently, society is not. The whole thing raises a larger question: how stupid are we?

MTV has always prided itself on giving the middle finger to parents. That's part of what it's in business to do. I wouldn't be surprised to read as much in the company's mission statement. And while it's true that the people behind MTV are a sleazy, brazen, corrupting influence on our children, it's also true that we all know full well what they're up to.

So why are we shocked that Miley Cyrus got on stage and acted like an insane degenerate last night? It isn't like Madonna, who I believe turned four hundred this past year, didn't once do the same thing. Or Britney Spears. Or Christina Aguilera. Or...

So enough of the hand wringing. Wanna put a stop to MTVs idiotic, sexist and aggressive attempts to affect our culture? Start by not letting your kids watch things like the Video Music Awards. Believe me, MTV will get the message once it looks at its ratings. In the end, it's you, not MTV, that holds the power over your children.

But hey, you knew that already.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The General State Of The Good Old U.S. of A.

The world's greatest cat is tired of all the screaming and yelling on cable.

I had coffee with my old pal Mike Hamel today. While hanging out we began to discuss the state of things here in America. Mike and I may not earn seven figure salaries for shooting our mouths off on cable, but I think it's safe to say we're fairly smart, and relatively well informed. We also have some solid life experiences behind us (life experiences make great reference points).

Here's a few things we agreed on. Perhaps you'll agree, too (then again, perhaps not):

  • Things aren't great, but hey, they aren't that bad either. Mike's right when he brings up our grandparent's generation. They had to live through the Great Depression, then had to engage in a fight to the death with some psychopathic maniacs who literally were on the verge of taking over the world. And we complain about our Christmas bonuses???? 

  • Just because things aren't that bad doesn't mean we should shut up and be happy. Seriously now, is nepotism the only way to get a decent job in America these days? Also, is it too much to ask for the occasional politician who's good at a being a leader instead of just a candidate? The greatest among us no longer want to dirty their hands by running for office...and that doesn't bode well for the future.  

  • Politics should be based on issues rather than ideology. Know who the best talking heads are on cable news? The ones who will actually side with the opposition now and then. Too many people are toeing their respective party lines these days and it's hurting the country. 

  • America needs to be seen as a melting pot again: I once told a professor I feared the country was becoming tribalized. Needless to say, the guy got pretty pissed. He even threw out the word "nativist" (weren't those the bad guys in Gangs of New York?) Sorry professor, but we have become tribalized - and we're paying a price for it.  We're either all in this together or we're not. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Another One Bites The Dust

The World Truly Is A Nicer Place When Justice Prevails

And so now James "Whitey" Bulger is going to spend the rest of his life in jail. After years on the run, it seemed like Bulger would prove to be the one major crime figure who "got away" from law enforcement. He wasn't and he didn't.

Truth be told, however, we shouldn't be surprised. Big time criminals - those of the organized crime and narcotics variety, usually end up being taken down. Sometimes they find themselves behind bars, (John Gotti and Johnny Eng), sometimes they find themselves dead (Pablo Escobar), sometimes they find themselves in exile (Charles "Lucky" Luciano), and sometimes they find themselves hidden away by the government (Frank Lucas).

Nearly always, however, they find themselves far removed from the Olympian heights from which they once resided. In other words, mob bosses usually end up being failures. And that's how it should be. Gangsters are colorful characters, after all. People; especially young, impressionable people, need to see there's a flip side to the seemingly glamorous coin the media presents.

At the moment, the guilty verdict given down to Bulger today by a Boston jury is the top news story in America. It won't be for long. Other, more important matters will be back in the forefront by tomorrow, at the latest. It's nice to see the verdict made the headlines, though. For it will always be remembered as the fitting end to Bulger's bloody tale.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Sample

The world's greatest cat is keeping her opinion to herself.

Okay, so my script, Hill 391, is out to powerhouse agency, Kaplan-Perrone. These guys have read my stuff before. They've always passed, but they've always been willing to read more. I could be wrong, but I'm guessing they must think there's something to my writing. Why else would they continue to be willing to give my stuff a shot?

Anyway, there's a lot more to getting your work out there than just getting it to the "right places." You've got to give your material some exposure. Which is exactly why I'm making a portion of Hill 391 available on this site today.

The script is a fictionalized account of the Puerto Rican members of the 65th Infantry Regiment - the famed BorinqueneersNot only did these guys have to face racism, they had to fight like hell against the Chinese army in Korea.

Click on this link to read a sample. In these scenes, Colonel Emanuel Ramon and Major Felix Camacho are forced to deal with prejudice in the middle of an international war zone.

Hope y'all like it!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"The Great Gatsby" vs. "The Sun Also Rises" - Which Masterpiece Is THE Jazz-Age Novel?

Trust me on this...I know how to read.

I know, I know, The Great Gatsby is the quintessential 1920s novel. Only it isn't. That honor goes to Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises

Look at it this way: The Great Gatsby could pretty much take place anytime, anywhere. It's basically a timeless treasure. The Sun Also Rises, on the other hand, is a novel strictly of its time and place. One can find Gatsby-size parties throughout the globe, for instance. Bullfighting, however, is pretty much restricted to parts of the Spanish speaking world.

What's more, Hemingway's masterpiece focuses on themes relative to the geographic and historic location of its narrative. While disillusionment, aimlessness, and the cloud of war may indeed haunt millions, the theme of Fitzgerald's opus - that of a longing for the past - is universal.

So why the mixup? Why is The Great Gatsby, rather than The Sun Also Rises, widely acclaimed as the jazz-age novel? For one thing, more people read Fitzgerald's classic than Hemingway's. The Great Gatsby is a high school staple. I can't say the same for The Sun Also Rises, although it clearly remains a hugely popular work.

Another problem is Fitzgerald himself. A full fledged celebrity during his youth, the author; along with his wife, Zelda, were the hot couple of the 1920s. By the time the 1930s rolled around, however, the duo was slipping from the spotlight. Fitzgerald was being marginalized by his alcoholism while Zelda was being marginalized by Schizophrenia.

Hemingway, on the other hand, was a celebrity most of his life. Not only was he well known in the 1920s, he was enormously famous until his death in the early 1960s. Most people see Hemingway as an aging man with a gray beard. Fitzgerald, however, appears in the public consciousness as a young, jazz-age success story.

Of course, none of this really matters in the end. Both The Great Gatsby and The Sun Also Rises are literary caviar and well deserving of their fame. If you're going to ornament a novel with a description, however, make sure that description is accurate.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

What I've Learned From Being A Political Junkie

The World's Greatest Cat Is Unflappable In Her Political Opinions

Okay, I admit it, I'm a political junkie. What's more, I like being a political junkie. Stuff that in your hipster pipe and smoke it. I may not be in need of detox, like so many talking heads on cable, but I'm deeply interested with what our government is up to...and have been since I was young.

Most people aren't political junkies. That's fine. You don't have to be an addict in order to be a good citizen. You simply have to be informed. Still, being a political junkie really makes you aware of some fundamental truths. Sadly, however, most of those truths are pretty ugly.

Here's a few cold, hard facts I've learned about contemporary politics:

  • Politicians Think You're Pretty Stupid. Ask yourself why elected officials regularly accuse people who aren't extreme of being extremists.

  • Your Average Media Figure Has The Maturity Of A High School Junior. Ask yourself why favorable news coverage is generally given to the same people and causes that celebrities support on Twitter.

  • Being A Politician Is No Walk In The Park. Ask yourself if you'd like to be insulted by aggrieved seniors every time you stepped into a supermarket.

  • Most Politicians Aren't Evil.  Ask yourself if the vast majority of our elected officials really have no concern for the common good.

  • Politicians Tend To Be Weak. Ask yourself why so many elected officials conveniently evolve on the issues. 

  • We Really Need Congressional Term Limits. Ask yourself how much better off America would be if our leaders could actually stick to their beliefs. 

  • Politicians and Media Types Love Power Words And Catch Phrases. Do we really need to have a comprehensive, balanced, national conversation about this?  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Too Much Of A Not-So-Good Thing

Maybe "Die Hard" is on again.

It's finally happened...movies have actually gotten too big. Don't believe me? Try checking out this summer's Man Of Steel. The entire last act has to do with buildings being destroyed. That's an entire act I'm talking about here - not a few effective scenes, a la Independence Day - an entire act. After a certain point I just wanted the flick to end. It kept on going, though, building after computer generated building.

Still, the public at large seems to love it. The movie is a huge hit, after all, just like all the insanely destructive Transformers flicks are. That doesn't mean these over the top movies are any good, though. It just means they're popular. The question, of course, is why?

One brave soul actually wrote online recently that he (or she) likes to pay to see garbage in the theater. What's more, this particular movie fan apparently accepts nothing less (or in this case, more) than over-the-top imagery, loud noises, and zero story. And you can pound sand if you don't like it.

Is this person, you may ask yourself, really in the majority?

Sadly enough, the answer may well be "yes." The fact of the matter is I have no idea why people prefer unending destruction in their movies these days. I myself was weaned on the likes of Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis, two dudes who knew what it meant to destroy. Yet, big as they were, the action scenes of the 80s and 90s were scenes, not entire acts – and rarely were they presented as cataclysmic incidents.

And that's the point. The apocalypse is supposed to be a once in a universe event, not something which occurs two-to-four times in most every film. Excessiveness drains impact. Everyone used to know know that. Now only those of us who pretty much avoid the cinema seem to be aware of the truth.

Looks like I'll be watching cable again this weekend. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Another Day, Another Genius Emerges

It's true - the world's greatest cat has more common sense than some writers out there.

Another day, another genius emerges from the woodwork. One Meghan Laslocky has appeared on CNNs website to argue that we should all pretty much stop thinking that monogamy is a good thing. Seriously. You can check out her piece right here.

Her arguments are fairly simple:

  1. Humans - who are living to older and older ages these days - need variety!
  2. Animals run around having sex with each other, so why shouldn't we?
I'm afraid her second argument isn't a joke. She actually points to the sex lives of various critters in order to show us the validity of her argument.

Here's what's really scary: although Ms. Laslocky's viewpoints might seem laughable at the moment, they're apt to pick up steam in our society over time. People love, love, LOVE it when some "trusted" source tells them it's okay to be less responsible. It's only natural to sigh and smile when someone tells you to take it easy, after all.

Problem is, there's some things out there one simply shouldn't be lax about. And monogamy is one of them. While it's true many relationships don't work, a successful relationship should always be the goal of both partners. Don't believe me? Ask the children of those bright individuals who have decided to leave monogamy behind in order to be "free," like the creatures in the forest.

Life isn't all about the self. Our decisions affect others.

Unless, of course, your name is Meghan Laslocky. Then, apparently, anything goes.  

Friday, June 21, 2013

Paula Deen And The New American Morality

Does liking a Paula Deen Recipe Make One A Racist?

Perhaps I'm just too easy going. I'm a die hard animal lover (my wife and I own the world's greatest cat, after all) yet I felt that Michael Vick should be free to play in the NFL after he finished serving his prison sentence. Many disagreed with me, of course, but, the way I saw it, he did the time for doing the crime and he deserved the opportunity to move on.

Now more than ever, though, Americans want their pound of  flesh. Paula Deen said some terrible things a long time ago, things she clearly regrets saying, but this country is simply not going to forgive her. Apparently it's better to give the woman a career death sentence than to just get on with life.

There's no two ways about it, we're living in the era of the New American Morality. This morality stands in stark contrast to, say, the the Judeo-Christian morality of old. For instance, when it comes to the New American Morality, one size does not fit all. Acceptable behavior generally depends on things like the individual's wealth, ethnicity and  political leanings. What's wrong for one person is right for another.

Also, the old adage of forgiving and forgetting is definitely out the window. There is no more heaven or hell for sinners. There is only hell. If you're on the wrong side of the social and political winds, you're held accountable for all past transgressions, no matter how you may feel about them now.

In case you haven't noticed, I find the New American Morality to be sheer idiocy. This is mainly because it has nothing to do with morality and everything to do with the dominate opinions of a particular time. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for instance, can threaten every Jew on the planet and still be invited to speak at our best universities. Ms. Deen, on the other hand, can expect to be treated as a pariah in her own country.

It's utter bullshit and you and I both know it.

The New American Morality may be embraced by our leaders and trendsetters, but it should be rejected by those of us who make up this country's populace. Ideas and norms thrive or die among the everyday people in this country, not among its most wealthy, popular and powerful. If we, the people, reject a philosophy, then that philosophy holds no weight whatsoever. Period.

It's time to make the New American Morality a thing of the past.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Why You Should Start Caring

The world's greatest cat doesn't much care for what's been going on.

I'm not going to mention the names of individuals, political organizations or political parties in this piece because what I'm about to say deals with an abuse of power - and people of all different political stripes have abused power over the course of history. That being said, we're living in scary times.

Here's some reason's why:

  • The IRS specifically targeted groups who opposed the current Presidential administration. The government tells us there was no political motivation behind the IRS' actions. And the government's word is good enough for us. We don't know the full extent of what happened, who was behind it, or even if the IRS' actions have been truly halted. And, according to polling data, we don't much care.
  • The government dragged its heels before admitting that terrorists killed four US officials in Libya last fall. We don't really know why the government dragged its heels - and the government doesn't really think we should know why. And we're okay with that.
  • The Department of Justice has decided to spy on reporters. This should send shock waves throughout the country, for  this sort of thing isn't supposed to happen in a free society. The Department of Justice claims it has good reason to go after journalists, however. And because they say so, we say "go right ahead."
Here's the thing: there's a lot of people out there who over-react. To everything. Even to the abuse of power. Such people are a real gift to the abusers. Why? Because every time they're caught doing something wrong, the abusers can point their fingers at those who over-react and say "here go the nuts again, making a big deal out of nothing." 

And so the abuse continues. And continues. And continues. What's more, it becomes more widespread. And before you know it, you know longer live in a free society. Think that's an exaggeration?  Ask  anyone who ever lived behind the iron curtain. 

Thing is, those who abuse power want you to think people are exaggerating when they tell you things are going to get worse. It lets them off the hook. It also allows them to go right ahead and make things worse.

Perhaps you don't care about any of this. You're a busy person, after all. Perhaps the only thing that would really rile you up is something truly extreme, like the government telling you what songs you can and can't listen to through your ear buds. 

By that point, though, it would be too late to do anything about it. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Check It Out!

I went and dug up this photo of a Gatsbyesque mansion...just for this occasion.

I've written a new piece for the Cheshire Patch which deals with Hollywood's latest version of The Great Gatsby. Check it out, all!!

Monday, April 22, 2013

What We Learned From The Events Of Last Week

You're never really out of school.

Last week America demonstrated how it's possible to pull a triumph out of the wreckage of a tragedy. Terrorists took lives and limbs, but they couldn't take Boston. Here's some lessons to be learned from the chaos:

America Rocks. Such plain spoken patriotism may cause you to roll your eyes. If that's the case then go ahead and roll 'em. This nation was hit by child killing monsters, yet it didn't panic, it didn't target entire groups of people, it didn't riot in the streets and it didn't quiver in the face of the diabolical. Instead America put its culture war aside, prayed, kept on alert, stayed glued to the television and relentlessly pursued those responsible until the bad guys were either dead or in custody. Go U.S.A.

Don't Mess With American Law Enforcement.  Imagine what it's like having to face someone with vast weaponry, no sign of a conscience and a desire to indiscriminately kill. Now imagine such a person having you in his sights. Police in Watertown, Massachusetts don't have to imagine it. They lived through it...and they emerged victorious. Sure, there's some bad apples in the bunch, but last week the American law enforcement community showed the world what heroism really is.

The Real Stars Don't Get To Take A Bow. It's understandable why so many big shots stood in front of the international media Friday night in order to do a victory lap. The terrorists were caught, after all. Victory was theirs. Yet they weren't the ones shooting it out with two heavily armed terrorists around twenty hours earlier. Something to keep in mind.

Evil Does Exist When you intentionally kill innocent people, you're not being driven by personal experience, politics or religion. You're being driven by evil. Some people may argue that evil doesn't exist, but giving evil another name doesn't change its definition.

Some People Will Never Get It. Guess what? Americans are well aware of the fact that not all Muslims are terrorists. Try telling that to certain politicians and media figures, though. Sadly, there's just no convincing some people that Americans aren't completely stupid.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Politics of Tastelessness

The world's greatest cat has had to turn her back on certain politicians. 

Anthony Weiner and Mark Sanford are in the news again. Both men (one a Republican, the other a Democrat) left public office disgraced. Now each man wants forgiveness. And another public office to hold. In short, this power hungry duo has forced America to once again ask itself heavyweight questions regarding morality and propriety.

Geographic location renders me incapable of voting for either man. Not that it matters. Even if I were somehow able to cast my ballot for both individuals, I wouldn't. You can charge me with being judgmental and that's fine...but first let me make clear what it is I'm judging.

First off, it's not my business to know whether or not these men are truly sorry for their misdeeds (though Sanford remains with the woman he ruined his marriage for). Perhaps they truly are. Fine. I'm glad to know the guys aren't complete sociopaths. That doesn't mean they deserve votes, however.

Actions, be they good or bad, have consequences. And there should be real consequences for demeaning public office. Perhaps if each man is as repentant as he says he is, he can lay off the campaign trail for a good long while as a form of penance. That might actually be impressive.

As it stands, however, both men appear to be sorely lacking in the humility department. That's too bad, because a sense of humility is a good thing for a leader to have. Look at the legacy of Abraham Lincoln if you don't believe me.

Here's something else to think about:

The personal behavior of politicians matters. Anyone who says otherwise is clueless. Bill Clinton; for all his savvy, skill, and likability, will always be synonymous with a certain blue dress. Even tragic, iconic JFK became a punchline once the public had been made aware of his many dalliances.

Legacies can - or should - be important to politicians. Both Weiner and Sanford should ask themselves what kind of legacies they wish to leave. For a trail of embarrassing memories is no kind of legacy at all.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Are Religious People Stupid?

The World's Greatest Cat ponders it all.

Here's something that may shock many: there's people out there who believe in both the existence of God and in the existence of dinosaurs! Sadly, this simple fact is lost on those who are unable to remove their minds from today's social climate. To these unfortunates, most religious  adherents - and all Christians - hate science, hate those who don't agree with their particular theology, hate women, hate gays, and love to go to war.

Let's face it, those who believe this tripe are as ignorant as those who once thought minorities were too dumb and irresponsible to hold public office. In other words, they're prejudiced. There's no simpler or truer way to put it. That doesn't mean we adherents should start over-reacting, though. Trust me, the last thing this world needs is another group of whiners and finger pointers. There's more than enough of those out there as it is.

So, what can be done? For starters, believers should start making things pretty clear about their own beliefs. I'm a Catholic, for instance. I can say without hesitation that my religion does not demand that I deny evolution. Nor does it demand I deny the laws of science and nature (a miracle is an exception, not a refutation).

Oh, and there's no rules saying I have to beat up those who don't adhere to the Vatican's teachings. A lot of the people who leave comments at supposedly high-end political websites might be surprised to learn that.

The point is this: we live in a free society. That means people are pretty much allowed to avoid any group they want to. Before they attack certain groups, however, the rules of morality and intelligent discourse demand they should at least get their facts straight first.

Sadly, however, many choose not to. Which means it's up to others to set the record straight.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Stupidity Of Elitism

You mean someone thought this was good husband material??

Whenever I think of Princeton I think of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the brilliant writer behind The Great Gatsby. Although Fitzgerald never completed his studies at Princeton, he considered his time there to be one of the great periods of his life. In fact, his high opinion of the Ivy League school seemed to be right in line with one Susan A. Patton, who graduated from Princeton herself in 1977.

While Ms. Patton is nowhere near as well known as Fitzgerald, she's generated a good deal of press lately for having penned a letter titled Advice For The Young Women Of Princeton: The Daughters I Never Had. In said letter, published in the Daily Princetonian, Patton argues female students at Princeton should find a husband soon - from among the school's pool of male students, no less.

"You will never again," she writes,  "have this concentration of men who are worthy of you"

That's not all.

Ms. Patton goes on to inform Princeton's female students that "smart women can't (shouldn't) marry men who aren't at least their intellectual equal." 

But that's still not all.

"As Princeton women," Patton adds, "we have almost priced ourselves out of the market. Simply put, there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are."

Funny how Ms. Patton only brings up intelligence and going to Princeton as "worthy" qualities for a potential husband. Let's get back to Fitzgerald, then, shall we?

As has been established, the author went to Princeton as a young man. He was also brilliant (not just anyone can sit down and write works like Babylon Revisited, after all). Little doubt, then, the young Fitzgerald would have fit Ms. Patton's stringent husband criteria.

And there's the rub. The fact Fitzgerald went to Princeton didn't keep him from making a disaster out of his life for close to two decades. The fact that he was a genius didn't do much to prevent the destruction, either.

Here's just a few of the legends attributed to this tragic alcoholic.

  • he passed out under a table in public at a New York City restaurant
  • he stumbled into a newspaper office in Paris late one night and started tearing up copy.
  • he passed out in Ernest Hemingway's fireplace
  • he was arrested in Rome
  • he died in in the apartment of a gossip columnist he was having an affair with - while his wife was in a mental institution
Of course, Ms. Patton may not have minded having a son-in-law like Fitzgerald. Perhaps his worthiness in her eyes would have rested solely on his intellect and on his academic background. That would make Ms. Patton the candidate for advice, however, not the current female population of Princeton.

A basic fact of life is there's a lot more to being a "worthy" spouse than brains and background. Unfortunately, however, it's clear Ms. Patton wasn't taught that at Princeton.

Truth be told, though, I feel sorry for this woman. She's well-intentioned, but misguided. Regardless, her words do a fine job of pointing out the stupidity of elitism.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Weighing In On The New Pope

It's no exaggeration to say we need a leader who can lift our  spirits.

I've got to admit that I really like what I've seen of the new pope. The man appears to be genuinely humble. That's important, especially in an era where the Church has an image of imperious hypocrisy. Here's a man who actually bent down and washed the feet of Italian prisoners the other day and who rode the bus to work when he was a high ranking Churchman  in Argentina.  I've been an observant Catholic my whole life and I've never seen anything like it.

Of course, I'm probably not going to agree with Pope Francis on all matters. Chances are, if you're a Catholic, you won't either. Thing is, we don't have to agree with him on all things (those who tell you everything the pope says is infallible either don't know what they're talking about or are lying to you). All we Catholics are supposed to do is recognize the pope as the leader of the Church on earth. That and see him as an example of how to lead a Christian life. So far, he's making it quite easy for us to.

The Church has legitimate problems, of course. Horrible scandals have been followed by horrible cover ups. Let's face it, people got away with some terrible stuff. And although we Catholics believe everyone faces an ultimate judgement, we like it when justice is served here on earth, too. Yet I've seen zero evidence that Pope Francis has had anything to do with anything unsavory over the years.The fact the man has a reputation as a reformer gives me hope, as well.

In the end, I very much doubt the new pope will be widely embraced here in Kim Kardashian's America. We're a secular, nearly anti-Christian nation now. I don't see the man being in line with the philosophy of Bill Maher any time soon. Still, right now all we need is a pope who proves his sincerity. It's okay for a religious leader to be criticized for his take on contemporary issues. When that leader's genuine love of people comes into question, however, a real problem arises.

Here's to a pope who can avoid such criticism.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

When Enough is Enough

Some things require serious reflection.

I'm a lover of history - all kinds of history. Let's just say that when I become fascinated by a particular subject, I become deeply fascinated by it. Not only do I like to know what famous figures accomplished, for instance, I like to know what they had for dinner on particular occasions (you can learn a lot about a person through his or her eating habits).

Lately I've been reading about Chicago's notorious Prohibition Wars of the 1920s. It was a wild time, to put it mildly. During Al Capone's reign as the city's top criminal there were shootings, shootings and more shootings. Gang violence truly was out of control. Don't believe me? Wrap your mind around this: in September of 1928, a procession of ten cars (that's ten cars) slowly drove past the Hawthorne Inn, where Capone was eating, and proceeded to shoot the entire place to pieces. In broad daylight.

Capone's arch rivals, the North Side Gang, wanted him dead, you see. Who cared if over fifty people were inside the restaurant at the time? The competition had to be eliminated. The fact that no one was actually killed as a result of that day's chaos is nothing short of miraculous (people were hurt, however - innocent people).

As insane as things were back then, however, they pale in comparison to the violence wracking Chicago today. Over 500 (think about it - 500) people were gunned down in Chicago last year. Gang violence has literally turned sections of the city into war zones. And, unlike the notorious Hawthorne Inn drive by, innocents are now being killed, some of whom are no more than children.

Yet society seems to accept it. Sure, there's lots of hand wringing, but not much else. People talk about stricter gun laws. Yet Chicago has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. People talk about "educating" the criminals. Those who buy this nonsense should think about how Capone himself would have reacted to being "educated." No one seems to understand the fact that bad people will continue doing bad things until society says enough is enough.

After the notorious Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, where Capone's trigger men lined five North Side Gang members up against a garage wall (along with two non-gang members)  and mowed them down, America was finally fed up . Capone was eventually locked away (North Side Gang leader Bugs Moran ultimately found himself behind bars, as well) and, although crime continued in Chicago, a sense of law and order was finally restored.

The question is, when is that sense of law and order going to return to the Chicago of today? When are people finally going to stop shaking their heads at the madness and actually find the will and the way to put an end to it through legal means?

Here's something to think about: the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre occurred in 1929. According to Chicago's ABC NEWS affiliate, WLS, there were 26 murders in Chicago during January of that year. This past January, there were 42.

Oh, and less people live in Chicago now than did in 1929 - a lot less.

We should take note.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

When Smart People Say Completely Idiotic Things

The world's greatest cat always thinks before she speaks.

Recently, CNN host Erin Burnett asked former First Lady Laura Bush if America needs to accept antisemitism in order to have better relations in the middle east. One has to wonder what kind of answer Ms. Burnett was expecting to hear. "Oh of course, Erin. After all, antisemitism has ONLY led to the deaths of six million innocent people in the last century or so.....",

In case you're curious, Ms. Burnett also wondered aloud if we should tolerate anti Americanism, as well. Sure, Erin. Maybe we can let members of Al Qaeda bring loaded guns to the conference table at our next big summit. 

Truth be told, I don't think Ms. Burnett is a bad or prejudiced woman. I don't think she's stupid, either. She simply tried so hard to think in depth that she lost her ability to think critically. Let's face it, we live in a shallow age. Intelligent movies are virtually non-existent and most shows on television don't exactly make for stimulating viewing, either.

Therefore, it's actually refreshing when a public figure digs deep and tries to look at a problem through a variety of different angles. There's simply too much gray in today's world to see everything in black and white. Still, looking at a problem through the wrong angle doesn't make you sharp or nuanced. It simply makes you mistaken.

Being open minded is essential. Being open minded to terrible ideas, however, is idiotic. There really is a line to be drawn in the sand and, if we're not careful, we can somehow convince ourselves to excuse all sorts of terrible behavior. Sure, Ted abuses Tammy and the kids. Where would they be without his income, though?

See how easy it is? 

In the end, we have to be mindful of our need to delve beneath the surface of things. Believe it or not, we really can go too far - even in spite of our best intentions. 

Just ask Erin Burnett. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

One Year Later...

It's true - even this character can be one of the good guys.

I don't want to get into the gory details, but last year at this time, things were not going well for me. My dreams, my aspirations, my career - even my reputation - were on the ropes, being battered senseless by some seriously stone cold people. I wish I were just whining here. Unfortunately, I'm not.

Flash forward to today. Things are much, much better. I'm not exactly living the American dream, but life is promising again. It's a great word, promising. It doesn't mean my life is without struggles. It just means the scales have finally been tipped in my favor.

For the time being.

Truth is, I'm sure more bad things are on the horizon, just like more good things are on the horizon, as well. There's a yo-yo quality to life that none of us can control. We go up. We go down. Before going up again. The fact that there's no real consistency to life doesn't mean there can be no real consistency in life, however.

I'm forty-one now. The more experience I gather, the more I learn how important it is to be one of the good guys. Not a saint, just one of the good guys. The honor really does lie in the struggle, not in the result.

Sounds corny, I know. I myself would have scoffed at such words not so long ago. I now believe those words are true, though. We can be flawed (and, trust me, we're all flawed) but we can at least try to keep our noses clean as we go about our business. So long as we work hard, don't harm others and are honest with ourselves, we can rest assured we've achieved at least some level of success in this world.

Who knows? We may even end up achieving some worldly success, as well.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Silly Green Hats and All

Top of the mornin'!

Some facts about me: I was born in America. I was raised in America, too. Aside from a research trip to France, I've never stepped foot off of US soil. I like it here. I complain a lot, but I like it. It's my firm belief that we Americans are blessed and that this is still the numero uno country in the world - hands down.

Yet I love Saint Patrick's Day. Love it. What's more, I like to spend Saint Patrick's Day walking around in a giant, silly green hat - despite the fact I quit drinking well over a decade ago. My wife finds this all quite embarrassing. Or at least she used to. Ridiculousness has a way of growing on people. 

Which leads me to the point of this piece:

There are those who find the Hallmarkification of Saint Patrick's Day distasteful, or, worse yet, offensive. I find this puzzling. While it's true that no date on the calender should serve as an excuse to slip into a stupor, no one should be offended by people wanting to have a good time for purely innocuous reasons. 

I'm a Catholic who, in this secular (even anti-Christian)  age believes Saint Patrick's conversion of pagan Ireland was an extraordinary and laudable feat.  I'm also well versed in Irish-Americana. My grandmother was once Waterbury, Connecticut's "Irish American Mayor For The Day". She used to tell us stories about her father not being able to get a job because he was Irish. Back in the seventies, my mother gave our two Airedale terriers Irish names. Airedale's are an English breed, after all, and my mother felt the need to somehow protest English oppression of the Emerald Isle. 

So yes, I agree that Saint Patrick is a figure well worth honoring. I  also agree that the history of the Irish people has generally been a dark and sad one. Yet there's nothing wrong with turning Saint Patrick's Day into a fun, lighthearted occasion. No one's diminishing anyone's culture or achievements. People are just having a grand 'ol time. 

Here's another way of looking at it: if it weren't for Saint Patrick's Day, most people wouldn't know who the great saint was. What's more, there wouldn't be a single day of the year where the Irish people were universally celebrated. 

That being said, I'm going to dig out my silly green hat now. After all, the big day's only two entire weeks away.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


These guys have families, just like the rest of us.

Here's the truth: I've never served in the military. I've never engaged in more than a battle of paintball. In fact, I wasn't even very good at paintball. Yet I can appreciate the service others give on behalf of this place called America. My grandfather served in World War II and was severely wounded in combat. Same for my  uncle. My brother in law is currently doing his second tour in Afghanistan. While I may not have a clue what it's like to fight, I'm well aware of the sacrifice veterans and their families make.

Which is why I'm so aggravated at the moment. Chris Kyle was a Navy Seal who served this country and served it well. While he killed a lot of people, he did so on the battlefield, against an enemy that had nefarious designs on the Western World. In short, there was a huge difference between Chris Kyle and, say, the Newtown murderer.

Yet many disagree. After Kyle was shot by an unhinged veteran at a shooting range, Twitter was filled with comments from those claiming he had it coming. What's ironic is that most of those same people presented themselves as being thoughtful, nuanced, and, yes, compassionate. I guess they felt that their self-righteousness took away any need for critical thinking skills.

And so, while Whitney Houston got flags throughout the country to be lowered to half-mast, Chris Kyle got condemned by the very people he was defending. What's scary to me isn't this incredibly backwards way of thinking, however. It's that society as a whole is okay with it.

Years ago, I listened in shock as the writer of one of the Batman films described General Patton to a screenwriting class I was taking as "our Nazi." As the grandson of someone who served under the man, I was offended. Yet I eventually let the comment slide, since the writer just seemed to me like a typical Hollywood screwball. Nowadays, however, I've little doubt that more Americans think like him than don't.

And that's scary.