293: Being American

Being American is pretty cool, actually. Just like being Brit, or being Moroccan, or being (fill in the blank here). There are absolutely wonderful things associated with my country. There are also some pretty awful ones, and some pretty embarrassing ones, too. The same can be said of any other place on Earth. There are marvelous and wonderful things, and there are dreadful and just foolish things, about every place under this sun.

However, I am proud of my country, like others are proud of their countries. My pride in my country does not lessen or denigrate your pride in your country. We’ve come a long way – and I am sure your country is also, like mine, making strides towards progress, even if not as quickly as you’d like. Mine isn’t making progress right now as quickly as I’d like, either.

Freedom and liberty are ideals and goals for Americans. Freedom and liberty mean that you have the ability to make your own choices. It does not mean that you have the ability to have everyone else conform to the choices you have made. That is a concept poorly understood in my country in this day and age. You have the freedom to choose your own life. That does not mean others have to approve of your choices. That does not mean others have to support your choices – vocally, ideologically or monetarily. That is not how freedom works. What others cannot do is tell you you can’t make your own choices – even if some try to do that. They are wrong if they tell you that, and more wrong, legally wrong, if they take action against you for making your own choices. But they do not have to agree with you, or like the choices you have made. Tough titty – that’s freedom, and it works BOTH ways.

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58: The Realities of Life

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What is the really real stuff in life? Is it family and free leisure time? Is it the contribution you make to mankind? Is it the daily grind of being a productive citizen at work, contributing to the economy and enlightenment of the world? Is it self-actualization? Setting world records, or ‘personal best’ records? Is it achieving religious salvation and an eventual trip to the great reward of heaven? So, what is it?

I am very glad that all of these are possibilities, since no two humans are exactly alike. What floats my boat may sink yours, so it is rather nifty that I can choose one path to fulfillment and you can quite happily choose another. I think that the world is big enough to accommodate us both, and to be appreciative of the efforts of both of us to make things better. It is a parallel experience to choosing a life partner and getting married. There is a perfect experience out there for you, you just have to locate it, and accommodate yourself to its peculiar eccentricities. Exactly like finding your soul mate. Nobody’s perfect. Neither is any job – there will always be little things that annoy you. You have some options here: adapt, accept and move on, or freak out and blow a good thing over one or two minor annoyances, or whine and moan about it constantly and ruin the entire thing for everybody. I vote for door number one, especially since I am no piece of cake, myself!

So, it is my considered and thoughtful opinion that as long as you are contributing to the greater good by improving yourself and your corner of the world, you are an acceptable excuse for a human being. That leaves out at least half of us who are walking around on this mudball, who don’t give a rat’s butt about making themselves any better, and who could not possibly care less about making things better for anyone else but themselves. Don’t think that counts in the “improving the world category,” actually.

Plus, I sincerely doubt that ‘improving yourself’ has much to do with spiffing up the exterior package. While it was vastly entertaining watching Michael Jackson’s personal transformation(s), it was not particularly enlightening or ennobling. Plastic surgery is not really improving yourself, to anyone BUT yourself, and I think that falls into the ‘self-interest’ category, which also does not count. Even if it does make you feel better. And making yourself feel better about yourself is not an awful thing, it is just not particularly impressive as a personal accomplishment for most people! Losing weight, however, does count, even though it also makes you feel better about yourself. Losing weight takes daily commitment to a goal, and self-discipline: enormous self-discipline. I know that for a fact. And the process of getting healthy IS an ennobling process, because it is so darn much WORK. Not like liposuction, which is just money and recovery time. Not the same personal growth potential AT ALL in that process.

I think all humans have an obligation, an internal requirement, to make something of themselves and to make a contribution. We succeed or fail at that in varying degrees. Some of us devote our lives to that goal, and some achieve it as a by-product of other interests and pursuits.  Some never get there, and that is sad. THEY are sad. It is an old cliché that people on their deathbeds don’t regret what they did (mostly), they instead regret what they did not do.

I suppose that is the call to action here – what sorts of things would you regret not doing? Does that mean it is time to plan and schedule some of those things into your current life? Hey – that’s why it is called a bucket list – those are the things you’d like to do or make of yourself, before it is your time to kick the bucket and depart this mortal coil. What’s on your personal list? What are you gonna do about that list?? It is never too late to begin, and today is a new day that is just perfect for a new start! Go get ’em!

7 Shoot ’em Up Movies

I hate “action” films. Too many people get killed. Why would I want to watch that for entertainment? If I am wanting to be entertained, I want something light and amusing – a romantic  comedy, or just a comedy, would be fine. Why do I want to watch blood and guts flying all over? I am not totally against somebody dying in the movie, mind you, but violence for the sake of violence is just not on.

For this same reason, I generally dislike teen-age slasher and horror films of that sort. They are almost comedies, though, really, they are so predictable. NO, don’t go outside the house into the fog in your nightgown, little sexy teenaged, blonde girl!! You ain’t gonna make it! NO, don’t check out that noise in the basement! NO, don’t double-check to be sure they are really dead! Don’t answer the phone, either! So predictable. I do understand how the Scary Movie series got going – they make fun of the utterly predictable plot lines of the “real” scary movies. The funniest horror movies I have ever seen were the Exorcist with Linda Blair and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It is hard to laugh in a movie theater filled with other people who are squealing with fright and freaking out. I had to smother my snickers behind my hands.

Actually, I go to the movie theater for the buttered popcorn – such a sinful indulgence. That stuff must have a million calories, and it is loaded with salt into the bargain. SOOOO good. And their candy is outrageously priced, but at least it does come in the large-sized box.  Sorry for getting distracted by movie junk food. I could use a giant-sized box of that buttered popcorn right about NOW.

I think all action films should end with the bad guys getting killed in the most awful way possible, like in the OLD days when the good guys always won. I HATE a movie where the bad guys get away with it. Makes me feel cheated, somehow. I want the bad dudes to get what they deserve, not retire and live out their lives in luxury on some island where there is no extradition. With comedies, that is seldom a problem, or else the bad guys are so lovable, you don’t really mind if they get away with whatever silly crime they committed!