Wednesday wanderings on a spring day

It is certainly a great day to wander about, but I think I will mow the grass first. Mowing has always been a chore I don’t mind, as you can see your progress as you go. Plus, freshly cut grass has a fresh smell. Since I have a battery powered mower, I don’t have to worry about inhaling gas fumes.

As I mow or wander, I can do some good thinking. I find myself thinking about past events and friends, since some of the current day issues are puzzling at best. I read a post (it may have been Jill or Joy’s) that some celebrity said “act like a grown up” used to be an admonition to misbehaving children. Now, we have too many grown-ups that act like spoiled toddlers. Of course, when some stand firmly behind one of the biggest acting toddlers as a former and possible future presidential candidate, it truly shows how low we have fallen.

We have too many that forget there is a responsibility that comes with our liberties. When my freedom to do things could be harmful to your freedoms, then we must cease or reconsider those actions. The opposite should be true. It reminds me of the caution to the newly launched Spiderman, when his grandfather said “with great power comes great responsibility.” Our freedoms to do things that are not permissible in some countries is a great power. Yet, we must honor it, nurture it, protect it for all.

Some have taken reaction to actual or perceived offenses to an awful degree. Just because someone disagrees with you, does not entitle you to hurt, threaten or kill the other person. Full stop. Just because you cannot tolerate failure, does not entitle you to turn over the chess board, throw a tantrum, claim cheating or instigate an attack on a branch of government. Full stop. Just because you are in a position of authority does not entitle you to ignore the people you represent. A good leader listens to others. A foolish one does not. Full stop.

There are many old lessons that are getting ignored these days. A key one is if someone has to tell you how great he or she is, then maybe we should look a little deeper as to why he or she is having to tell us such. When a colleague was complaining about being removed from marketing to a prospective client, unsuccessfully over several years, he said “I have known John for twenty years.” The thought running through my head was “And, he has known you.”

Whether you are religious or not, in many religious texts is some variation of Jesus’ golden rule. Treat others like you want to be treated. Let’s be responsible to each other. Let’s be civil in our discourse. Let’s protect their freedoms like they were our own. Let’s try not to be blowhards and listen to each other. Spiderman’s grandpa has a good lesson for us all.

More and more movies

Since the weekend is upon us, I thought I would share a few more movies for your consideration. We have seen a few excellent ones and a few that are worth a look. I won’t mention a couple I exited before the end.

“Solomon and Gaenor” is a British award-winning movie set in Wales in 1911. It stars Ioan Gruffudd and Nia Roberts in the title roles about a young Jewish man and young Christian woman who fall in love. Due to the times and tensions, they cannot be together, nor can they stay apart. This is Roberts’ first picture when released in 1999 and she is charming. Paul Morrison wrote and directed the movie and did a marvelous job of making the audience pull for these two lovers.

“C’mon, c’mon” is a more recent movie starring Joaquin Phoenix, Gaby Hoffman, and Woody Norman. Phoenix plays a free-lance reporter who is traveling the country to interview kids about the future. His sister, played by Hoffman asks him to look after her son, as she helps her separated husband with a bad bipolar meltdown. The movie is how the boy Jesse played by Norman teaches and learns from Phoenix and his colleagues. Jesse has anxiety and other issues but has learned coping skills. The other key is how Phoenix and Hoffman rebuild a sibling relationship that was tested when their mother died.

“Short Term 12” starring Brie Larson, John Gallagher, Jr, Rami Malek, Kaitlyn Dever, LaKeith Stanfied and Kevin Hernandez takes you through the up and downs and challenges of helping at-risk youth in a non-lock down facility. Larson and Gallagher are in a relationship, but both have obvious experience in talking down kids who are in need of help. Dever plays a pivotal role as she arrives with a host of problems and attitude, which reminds Larson of herself when she got help. It is a powerful movie, but tough to watch at times.

“Jack Goes Boating” is the only movie directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, where he stars as Jack. Jack is a limo driver and is smitten with a shy woman named Connie played by Amy Ryan. It also stars Daphne Ruben-Vega and John Ortiz. The two were set-up by their friends, whose own marriage has some challenges that reveal themselves later as Hoffman and Ryan hit it off. To be more interesting to Connie, Jack learns how to cook, swim and boat, as Connie has this fantasy date of being on the water in the summer. The movie is charming in its own right but knowing this is one of Hoffman’s final films makes it even more endearing. You pull for the two of them, especially Connie who Ryan plays so well.

A few other movies worth a look include “Mona Lisa Smile” with Julia Roberts, Dominic West, Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles and a host of other young stars, “Eavesdropping” which is filmed without break in a restaurant as we listen in on various conversations, “The Squid and the Whale” with Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney, Anna Paquin and Jesse Eisenberg which has a cool title that has symbolic meaning about who was really there for you and “A conversation with other women” with Helen Bonham Carter and Aaron Eckhart about two people who hook up at a wedding as we learn there is more to their past.

“Mona Lisa Smile” is likely the only one of the movies that people may have heard of. It was for me. But, the four I highlighted surprised me at how good they were. Phoenix has done some excellent movies, especially playing Johnny Cash in “Walk the Line,” but “C’mon, c’mon” may be one of his best. Let me know some of yours that struck a chord of late.

Happy birthday to my hard headed woman (I am truly blessed)

This post was written about eight years ago and reposted a year ago. I thought of it to honor my wife’s birthday, as this and two other songs are good introductions into her character.

One of my favorite Cat Stevens (Yusuf) songs is “I’m Looking for a Hard Headed Woman.” I tease my wife (and she returns the favor) about being hard headed. But, if you look at the lyrics of this song, you will note that Stevens is singing about looking for someone who is real and not contrived. He wants someone who is hard headed about being true to herself and seeking the same in her partner.

I’m looking for a hard headed woman,
One who will take me for myself,
And if I find my hard headed woman,
I won’t need nobody else, no, no, no.

I’m looking for a hard headed woman,
One who will make me do my best,
And if I find my hard headed woman
I know the rest of my life will be blessed — yes, yes, yes.

I know a lot of fancy dancers,
People who can glide you on a floor,
They move so smooth but have no answers.
When you ask “Why’d you come here for?”
“I don’t know” “Why?”

I know many fine feathered friends
But their friendliness depends on how you do.
They know many sure fired ways
To find out the one who pays
And how you do.

I’m looking for a hard headed woman,
One who will make me feel so good,
And if I find my hard headed woman,
I know my life will be as it should — yes, yes, yes.

I’m looking for a hard headed woman,
One who will make me do my best,
And if I find my hard headed woman…

Two lines jump out at me in the song, one in the beginning and one in the end. First, he says “one who will take me for myself.” He does not want someone trying to make him into something he is not. Yet, in the final stanza, he sings “one who will make me do my best.”  He wants a partner that will help bring out the best in him. He wants his lover to believe in him and help him do the best he can. To me, that is what having the right life partner is all about.

I have used two other songs to describe my wife of now about thirty-seven years. In Loggins and Messina’s “Danny’s Song,” also made famous by Anne Murray, they sing in the last stanza “Love a girl who holds the world in a paper cup, drink it up, love her and she’ll bring you luck. And, if you find she helps your mind, you better take her home, don’t you live alone, try to earn what lover’s own.” Holding the world in a paper cup is a terrific metaphor for someone who is genuine, such as my wife.

The other is from Gordon Lightfoot, “Rainy Day People.” He sings “Rainy day people, always seem to know when it’s time to call. Rainy day people don’t talk, they just listen until they’ve heard it all.” My wife is the best of listeners. In fact, she would rather hear you talk about yourself, than the other way around. And, it is raining right now and she is out helping a friend, which is not unusual.

Like Stevens sings about, once he finds the hard headed woman, his life will be blessed. My wife is one who holds the world in a paper cup and knows when it is time to call. Thank goodness she is also hard headed, as well. For I am blessed…and equally hard headed. Happy birthday.

Our friend has passed on – Hugh Curtler, teacher, coach, friend

I learned from our US expat friend in Ecuador, Lisa Brunetti, who writes under “Playamart – Zeebra Designs and Destinations,” that our blogging friend Hugh Curtler had passed away. Our mutual friend Jill Dennison has a wonderful tribute post, including pictures and links to some of his later posts. Lisa has added a terrific tribute as well, including a You Tube link. A link to both tributes are below.

Here is how Hugh defined himself in his “About” page:

Hugh Mercer Curtler is a retired academic who taught philosophy and Humanities (Great Books) for 41 years in three different colleges and universities, his final 37 years being spent at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minnesota. In addition to teaching full time, he founded and directed Southwest’s honors program and, for fifteen years, coached their championship women’s tennis team. To this point he has published thirteen books and numerous articles and reviews in professional journals. His successful coaching career led to induction in university and conference Halls of Fame plus the USTA Northern Hall of Fame; in 2006 he became Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Southwest.

Born in Charlottesville, Virginia, Hugh spent his early years on the East Coast before moving to the Midwest where he supplemented his academic work with avid reading and careful observation of the world around him. Hopefully, his blogs will reflect his wide range of interests.”

If I defined Hugh in a few words it would be “teacher, coach, friend.” Here is a note I posted on Jill’s tribute post to add to her words.

“Jill, this is a wonderful tribute to our friend. As you may recall, it was Hugh that sent me your way, saying I think you will like what this person writes about. He was ever the philosopher (but not pretentious), professor and coach. We bloggers did not fully appreciate the tennis coaching side of his persona. Without preaching it, I learned a lot about philosophy and great literature from Hugh.

He also was a staunch supporter of the environment, even inviting me to co-write an article for a magazine on perceptions of lay people on the environment and renewable energy. My first reaction to his invitation was ‘Hugh I don’t think I am qualified to write this,’ but he insisted for its purpose, I was. I would not have done it without his push and co-authorship.

Finally, his comments on other blogs will be missed. I always looked forward to what the professor might add, taking some pleasure if he agreed with my post or supported my comment. I wish your other readers who do not know Hugh’s work will check these suggested posts out. Thanks, my friend, Keith”

Please check out these wonderful tributes to Hugh. He will be missed, but maybe we can help his words to live on.

“Dialogue” by Chicago – a reprise of a much needed conversation

Robert Lamm, of the wonderful band Chicago, penned a song about fifty years ago called “Dialogue” that could still ring true today. The song resonates with me and is one of my personal favorites of the band because of its theme and musicality, but also the fact Lamm and lead singer Peter Cetera sang it as a dialogue. Two guys talking about the problems in the world. Here are the words:

Are you optimistic ’bout the way things are going?
No, I never ever think of it at all
Don’t you ever worry
When you see what’s going down?
No, I try to mind my business, that is, no business at all
When it’s time to function as a feeling human being
Will your bachelor of arts help you get by?
I hope to study further, a few more years or so
I also hope to keep a steady high
Will you try to change things
Use the power that you have, the power of a million new ideas?
What is this power you speak of and this need for things to change?

I always thought that everything was fine
Don’t you feel repression just closing in around?
No, the campus here is very, very free
Don’t it make you angry the way war is dragging on?
Well, I hope the president knows what he’s into, I don’t know
Don’t you ever see the starvation in the city where you live
All the needless hunger all the needless pain?
I haven’t been there lately, the country is so fine
But my neighbors don’t seem hungry ’cause they haven’t got the time

Thank you for the talk, you know you really eased my mind
I was troubled by the shapes of things to come
Well, if you had my outlook your feelings would be numb
You’d always think that everything was fine

We can make it happen
We can change the world now
We can save the children
We can make it better
We can make it happen
We can save the children
We can make it happen

I heard this song the other day on the radio for the first time in a long while and listened with my daughter as we drove to school. I found myself pointing out how the song is sung and called a dialogue. She thought that was cool. But, it got me thinking about the words. The problems then still exist today. The more things change, the more they stay the same. We have a national and global poverty problem. I am glad Pope Francis is bringing attention to this more.

We have a national and global problem with how we treat women and girls. Former President Jimmy Carter’s said his new book “A Call to Action” on this issue is the most important mission of his life. Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book “Half the Sky” speaks to these issues as well. I would add global poverty and how we treat women are linked, as woman hold up “half the sky” per the Chinese proverb used by Kristof and WuDunn. If you treat women poorly, in addition to their maltreatment, you are impacting half of your intellectual capital and economic value as a community.

Per my blogging friend George Dowdell, through his vast experience on a mission to help the impoverished, global poverty is also directly traceable to violence and corruption. Corruption takes the money that could be used to help others and violence is the mechanism to keep control and keep others down. These two seem to go hand in hand. Deposed leader Hosni Mubarak of Egypt had a net worth of $81 Billion, while his constituents got by on less than $2 a day, e.g.

Throughout history, the “haves” have taken advantage of the “have-nots.” The “have-nots” do not have a voice or when they have, it has taken a huge effort over time to change the paradigm. It is only with this groundswell of effort that will help change the world. Per Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

So, back to Chicago’s song “Dialogue.” Re-read the final chorus that closes the song. It is repeated as a mantra over and over again. The influence of the “haves” is huge and, in the US has been made easier with recent Supreme Court rulings. The “have-nots” need that voice. They need those committed citizens that Mead and Chicago talked about.

How do we do this? One step, one block, one community, one city at a time. Find your passions and reach out to help others. But, don’t just band-aid a problem. Look to find ways to improve people’s lots in life. Become better informed through reputable news sources. Speak out against injustice or just start asking more “why” questions of leaders and people with strident views that seem harmful. Why do you think that? Why should we do that? Write letters, write emails, make phone calls. Go to events to educate yourself on an issue. Go to protest injustice.

Many of the leaders of efforts to help did not listen to naysayers and blockers who said they could not accomplish change. There is an old line about change. Get people on the bus that will help you make change, not hinder it. We are more powerful than me. So, enlist or join your efforts with others. The operative word is “we” – “we can make it happen.” But, it starts with me.

Endings and next chapters

Have you ever noticed how some movies, series, or books just end without tidying up the conclusion? As my more frequent readers know, I enjoy watching movies, and tend to watch those with a good plot and dialogue.

Yet, I have noticed of late, a non-inconsequential number of more recently made movies about life’s challenges, seem to end without real resolution. Maybe they are emulating life, where we keep on going, often without resolution. We may get back on a better path, but the problems still persist.

The screenwriters and directors are seemingly leaving it up to us to figure out what happens next. It is not uncommon for my wife and I to look at each other and say “is that the end?” when the credits start to run.

To me, a writer can leave it to our imagination and still add needed clarity. In “Casablanca,” the ending had clarity for the two new members of the resistance who walked off to the “beginning of a beautiful friendship,” but we will always speculate what happened to Ilsa, Laslo and Rick in the future. It had closure as well as letting us converse about what’s next?

I was watching a movie where the ending basically was the child of a young mother (who got in her own way) would not leave her even when she tried to bus him to relatives. The woman would still be getting in her own way and had problems she had not remedied, but the movie just ended with them walking down a road in the snow with no money and the clothes on their backs. The only takeaway is they were still together.

Another movie about a husband acting rashly with a young woman (who was staying at his and his wife’s guest house as the two worked together on a film project) just ended without clarity. The movie faded out with the guest riding away in a taxi, leaving us to decipher if the wife would give the husband another chance or kick him out. It afforded my wife and I good what-if conversation, but it would have been interesting to see the writer’s take on it. To me, the question could have been left open-ended, but the wife could have left or said he needed to leave to let her think about next steps.

In one of the more famous movie endings in “Gone with the Wind,” Rhett Butler provided the needed clarity as he walked out the door. But, we are left to discuss what may have happened as Scarlett noted “tomorrow is another day.” If you have not seen the movie, you will need to move past the sugar coated racism and make lots of popcorn due to its length.

Of course, some endings may be too cheesy and cliche. When a movie, series or book ends with a more unexpected or against the grain twist, that can be more intriguing. Too obvious an ending can be less fulfilling, so leaving it somewhat open ended or imperfect can be more entertaining. The famous movie “The way we were” ended in the way it should have, but not in the way a Hallmark movie would have.

What are your thoughts? Do you like endngs that leave a lot to your imagination? Or would you prefer some or a lot of clarity? I would note the answer may depend on whether you are watching the movie with someone. I would love to hear from some of our authors out there.

The Lavender Scare (a repeat post dedicated to the Florida legislature)

Seeing the legislation passed in my home state of Florida, I am embarrassed that legislators could not think of anything better to do than limit discussion about various topics including the rights and challenges of LGBTQ+ people. I wrote the following post about a true event in US history that gets painfully little historical discussion. My mother was a teacher in Florida, so I wonder how she would feel with people ready to report her if she said the wrong thing.

My wife and I watched an informative documentary on PBS last night called “The Lavender Scare.” This show documents a lengthy period of US government sanctioned discrimination against homosexuals that lasted from the early 1950s to mid 1990s.

The scare evolved directly from the efforts of Senator Joseph McCarthy who led the “red scare” as he carried out communist witch hunts. He turned his eye toward homosexuals saying (without data) those who worked in the government were susceptible to communist blackmailers. Yet, unlike his communist witch hunt publicly dying due to his “lack of decency,” as an attorney to the Secretary of the Army called McCarthy under oath, the Lavender Scare gained footing.

To my chagrin, I learned former General Dwight Eisenhower campaigned for President on this issue and signed an executive order in 1953 to identify and expel homosexuals from government positions. This saddens me because of the obvious discrimination, but also because the former General said earlier the UK team led by Alan Turing that broke the Nazi Enigma code saved 750,000 lives and shortened WWII by two years. Turing had to hide that he was gay, so Ike’s executive order in 1953 would have kicked Turing out of employment had he been his boss in WWII – what would have happened if Turing would not have been around to impact the war?

The fact this government sanctioned discrimination lasted until it was ceased by President Bill Clinton is a shame, as well. Multiple tens of thousands of excellent public servants were kicked out of jobs they loved and did well. And, many could not get good employment in the private sector due to their FBI file. One of those was an astronomer named Dr. Frank Kameny.

Yet, Kameny did not sit still. He became an advocate for gay rights pushing a ball uphill. He wrote letters to Congress members, some of which were caustically responded to giving variations of the same harsh response. He organized protests and would help those who lost jobs. And, he was able to save some jobs, one who spoke five languages and was later decorated for service to the NSA. Kameny was awarded the “Medal of Freedom” by President Barack Obama for being the grandfather of the gay advocacy movement.

Sadly, there is a movement today led by some exclusionary religious leaders to condemn gays and foment their discrimination. My thinking is this is a backlash to the US Supreme Court approving same-sex marriage a few years ago. But, it goes deeper than that with a president who has laid the groundwork for divisiveness to occur with impunity. He did not invent divisiveness, but is not preventing it either.

Let me be frank. We are the land of freedoms and civil rights. Unless someone is harming you, you have “no standing” to deny the rights of others. I personally am offended by bigotry in the pulpit as I see this as a grievous dereliction of duty. Yet, that person has a right to say what he wants – provided he is not inciting violence or hate crimes. If the latter is true, then that is not a protected right.

Please watch this informative documentary. And, let’s do our best to avoid going back to this dark period. There was one gay postal worker who was to be expelled in the 1950s, but his boss stood up for him saying I know this, it does not bother me and he does a good job. The gay employee kept his job. We need more of that in our country and less of the hate speech

Sidebar: Disney Corporation, a major employer in Florida, has announced the removal of political funding in Florida as a result of this legislation.

 A true aphrodisiac

My apologies for the provocative title, but I wanted to share an old lesson about the rules of attraction. A person becomes more interesting when he or she is interested in you. This does not make them attractive by itself, but having someone interested in you increases his or her appeal. It is a true aphrodisiac.

I was reminded of this paradigm watching a movie about a woman who had taken care of her father after a stroke for several decades. She had not loved or been loved during this time. The movie is about a traveler who takes an interest in her and slowly breaks through her protective resistance. Their first kiss surprised her as she pushed him away, but it peaked her interest and she reached out the next day to apologize for overreacting.

I have long believed the premise the woman picks the man. Her interest in him is intoxicating. But, maybe that is too one sided. We pick each other by being interested in the other person. In the documentary movie “I Am” on what makes us happy, it is noted the heart gives out an electrical current that can be felt several meters away, so if someone makes your heart beat faster, it can be felt by another in the same boat. I like to think that faster pulsation is the sound effect to the mutual eyeing of each other.

An old consulting friend used to say he was looking for a woman that was Attractive, Witty, Interesting and Interested. He loved acronyms, so he called these four terms AWII. While forgiving his consultative nature, I find his use of the word “interested” meaningful. If the target of your affection is not interested and she or he cannot be persuaded to be such, then you need to take no as an answer and move on. Ironically, he and his second wife began dating after he thought she sent him an anonymous card after meeting, so when he called to ask if it was hers, she said it was not, but she wish she had sent it. They were married for three decades until she passed away much too early.

Attractive, Witty, Interesting and Interested. What are your thoughts on the subject? Am I all wet? What attracted you to your partner?

And, even more movies (March edition)

I hope you are not getting tired of these movie posts. It is amazing the number of movies that are available to be seen. I prefer short movies with good actors. I will be inclined to select one which is less than two hours and will give known actors a chance. But, as noted below, known actors are not always required for a good movie.

Here are a few more, in no particular order.

“Nothing but the truth” starring Kate Beckinsale, Matt Dillon, Angela Bassett, Vera Farmiga and Alan Alda is about a reporter (played Beckinsale) who condemns the president for ignoring a CIA report and goes to jail rather than reveal her source. Dillon plays the special counsel who has her jailed.

“Playing for keeps” starring Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Noah Lomax, Judy Greer, Uma Thurman, Dennis Quaid, and Catherine Zeta-Jones is about a retired professional soccer player (played by Butler) who is coming to grips with being a better father after his divorce. He ends up coaching his son’s team and has a series of ups and downs as he is own worst enemy, especially with the mothers of the other soccer players on his son’s team.

“Before I fall” starring Zoey Deutch is about a popular teen girl who relives her final day of her fatal accident over and over again. She learns what matters most as she reaches out to others, including a girl who was ostracized, and she could not save as they both died. It also stars Halston Sage (who was in the series “Prodigal Son”), Logan Miller, Elena Kampouris and Jennifer Beals. The “Groundhog Day” concept is interesting to see it play out with teen angst as the backdrop.

“Heat and Dust” starring Greta Scacchi, Shashi Kapoor, Julie Christie, Zakir Hussain and Christopher Casenove was a very pleasant surprise as it focused on two time frames. Christie’s character is researching what happened to her mother’s sister in India played by Greta Scacchi (who starrred in “Presumed Innocent”) in the 1920s. The title conveys the two worst challenges of living in India without any A/C, but the heat may also imply passion, with dust being we should live our lives as we will all be dust at some point.

“Edge of Love” starring Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller, Matthew Rhys, and Cillian Murphy is a fictional story about poet Dylan Thomas (played by Rhys) who is in love with two women – his wife Caitlin (Miller) and an old girlfriend Vera (Knightly). The love for both continues even when the women become best friends and Vera marries Murphy before he goes off to the war. While Murphy is away in WWII, the other three move to a town in Wales to escape the bombing.

“At Middleton” will not sound too complex, but two lonely married parents meet when taking their two children to visit a fictitious school called Middleton. Vera Farmiga plays the mother of a determined and organized young girl (played by her sister Taissa) who truly wants to attend there. Andy Garcia plays the father of a young boy (played by Spencer Lofranco) who is not sure what he wants to do and where he wants to go. Peter Reigert and Tom Skerritt play important cameos for the two young prospective students. Farmiga and Garcia are intriguing as they joust and have fun together, but the two teens are also a part of the story.

“Only You” starring Josh O’Connor and Laia Costa is about their become a couple (Jake and Elena) overcoming an age gap with Elena at 35 and Jake at 26, which bothers Elena more. Nonetheless, they are obviously smitten with each other as they move in together and try to start a family. But, their passion does not translate into pregnancy and they fight through the challenges, especially with her friends getting pregnant. There is a good ensemble cast of friends, but the role that stands out is Jake’s father, played by Peter Wight, who offers the needed counsel. We had just seen Costa, who is a Spanish actress, in movie called “Maine,” so we may be seeing more of her in English speaking movies.

“My Blueberry Nights” starring singer Norah Jones in her acting debut follows her from New York to Tennessee to Las Vegas as she meets interesting characters along the way. The story starts and ends with her flirtatious new relationship with Jude Law’s character as a bakery shop owner who also serves alcohol and meals at night and shares his uneaten blueberry pie with her as he closes. In the interim we meet three people who have their own sets of challenges. David Strathairn plays an alcoholic cop whose young wife (Rachiel Weisz) has left him. We also learn Weisz’ story as well. Natalie Portman plays a card player who is not too truthful, but befriends Jones’ character. The song track is excellent .

A couple of other movies worth watch are “Tears of Rain” with Sharon Stone and Christopher Casenove, a movie about learning of one’s past. “Safe Haven” with Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel and Cobie Smulders, and although a little cheesy is good. I mention “Maine” above which is alright, but my daughter gave up on it when she was visiting. Since it is about hiking the Appalachian Trail, I thought she might like it more.

If you have seen any good ones of late, please let me know.

May I ask you a question?

Opinion hosts, politicians and people in general get in a habit of sharing phrases, labels or names meant to be shortcuts to get people to believe the speaker or writer’s point and dismiss another person’s. Far more often than not, these terms are denigrating in nature and are a form of lazy argument.

The name callers and labelers are actually hoping no one will ask them what this label means in this context. Because, they do not really know the answer. As an easy example, have you ever used a common acronym like NASA, HMO, PPO, ERISA, NATO, etc. and then someone asks you what the acronym stands for? And, you don’t know the answer. The same holds true when people use terms meant to be derogatory short cuts.

So, how do we remedy this? Listen and read, first. Converse in person or in writing. Then ask questions. What does that mean? Do you really believe that this is akin to (evil word)? And, listen to the answer. Then follow-up with another question, but do it in a manner to understand.

If you listen to people first, it gives you more license to follow-up. Yet, I would encourage people to do so in a manner that you want in return. In other words, treat others like you want to be treated.

I often use as an example Daryl Davis, an African-American man who has successfully talked over 200 KKK members into quitting and giving him their robes. He says he starts with conversation, often because he is a musician, and then asks them questions that make them think. Think about that. A Black man convincing a White supremacist to change his or her mind by talking with him or her.

If Davis can have those kinds of conversations, so can we. After listening to someone, I have been able to ask something like “Do you really believe that or are you just saying that cause it sounds good?” “Do you really believe asking someone to (insert issue) is akin to Nazism, Apartheid, Slavery, or Genocide?”

I don’t know about you, but those four things are heinous things that happened in our global history, so if something is going to be legitimately compared to them, it better be a heinous action. A mask mandate to protect people is not Nazism. Nazism led to the murder of over 6 million Jews, while a mask mandate is trying to protect the world from COVID deaths that now total 6 million. The contradiction is staggering.

Converse. Listen. Ask. Follow-up. Be nice. Treat others like you want to be treated. To be frank, if I had an opinion that was inane because I believed a source who disinformed or misinformed me with intent, I would want that inane opinion to be questioned. Diplomatic push back. Civil discourse. Those are the keys.