Monthly Archives: April 2015

The New Bruce Jenner

Many people have been using such adjectives as inspiring, fearless, and heroic when referring to Bruce Jenner as of late. When I think of the former Olympian, which would be practically never if it weren’t for all of the recent excessive media coverage, I’m more inclined to use words like baffling, disturbing, and perverted when describing his newfound situation. Mr. Jenner is currently transitioning into a female. The 1976 Olympic decathlon champion, and former fifth wheel of the Kardashian family, decided to publicly profess, “for all intents and purposes, I am a woman.” He does appear to look somewhat like a woman, although not a very attractive one, but he still possesses his male body part, so I’d say Mr. Jenner is presently still a man for all intents and purposes.

Until now I really only knew two things about Bruce Jenner; he won a gold medal, and he married into the incredibly popular Kardashian family. I proudly admit I did not waste my time watching the overly-hyped “coming out” interview, but it is my understanding Bruce believes that in a perfect world he would have been born a female instead of a male. It is also my understanding he was, is, and will remain sexually attracted to only women when the transitioning stage is over. I commonly refer to the aforementioned sort of behavior as a “double slap” to God’s face. After Mr. Jenner’s transformation is completed “she’ll” have corrected “God’s mistake,” and “she’ll” have become a lesbian in the process.

We’ve actually seen this strange scenario before, but in the reverse fashion, when Chasity Bono, Sonny and Cher’s daughter, evolved into the manly Chaz Bono. She became a he, yet he continues to date men exclusively. This makes no sense to me, and I’m surely not the only one who does not understand this abnormal way of thinking. A gay, ex-friend of mine expressed, during Chasity Bono’s transformation, how unfathomable and ridiculous that circumstance seemed even to him. The reason we are ex-friends is because the more time we spent together the more relaxed he got, and the more flamboyant he became; therefore, he began using vulgar terms, during our conversations, and making unwarranted passes at me which was quite unsettling.

I hold no ill will towards him, Bruce Jenner, nor Chaz Bono, and I know God still loves them (as He does all of His children), but I am disappointed in how today’s media tends to glorify these types of people and their peculiar stories. It appears as though anyone’s opinion to the contrary (mine included), regardless of its validity, typically is wrongly construed as being heinous. I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised at what’s considered to be perfectly acceptable, or what constitutes being newsworthy, in this day and age. For instance, I’m completely dumbfounded by the Kardashians’ fame, success, and the empire they’ve seemingly built out of nothing. I believe they’re the ideal example of the famous…only being famous…for being famous.

Bruce Jenner’s ex-wife, Kris Jenner, is probably best known as once being married to the late Robert Kardashian (the defense attorney in the O.J. Simpson murder trial), creating a multi-million dollar conglomerate, and in more recent times for divorcing Mr. Jenner. Kris’s daughter, Kim, became a household name after her pornographic home movies surfaced (presumably intentionally) on the internet in 2007. That almost assuredly led to the reality television series, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, airing later that same year. The show mainly features Kim and two of her sisters, Kourtney and Khloe, amongst numerous other Kardashians and Jenners. It’s no secret Kris Jenner is the mastermind behind the Kardashian dynasty, and apparently the family matriarch has no qualms about exploiting her family for personal financial gain. She purportedly not only allowed her seventeen year-old daughter, Kylie Jenner, to pose provocatively in revealing outfits and skimpy swimsuits on the youngster’s website, but she also encouraged the risqué behavior.

My assumption is the majority of the Kardashian clan are attention whores. Maybe Bruce Jenner is no different. I reckon it was probably best when Bruce left the dysfunctional Kardashian household behind although I think he’s proven he’s quite capable of being dysfunctional all on his own. I imagine the Kardashian empire will eventually crumble, at least by the time they’re all senior citizens, unless of course the grandchildren decide (or are manipulated by “Grandma Kris”) to follow suit. I also surmise as long as people (myself included) continue talking about the Kardashians and the Jenners then they won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. In addition, I unfortunately presume this is merely chapter one, in regards to the saga of the new Bruce Jenner, because of our nation’s fascination with celebrities and the unusual. However, I prefer to remember Bruce Jenner as an American boy who worked extremely hard to one day win an Olympic gold medal for his country. Now that’s truly an inspiring story.

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Oh Brother

I was born a brother. I did not have a choice in the matter. That decision had already been made for me, two and a half years prior to my entrance into this world, when my parents had a daughter. My first memory as a younger brother (actually, my first memory in general) is of my sister and I wandering about the backyard of an empty house my parents were interested in buying. The spacious yard, at least in the mind of a 3 year-old, had two levels. The levels were separated by a small rocky embankment and a set of cement steps. The lower level contained a modest patio and a couple of large trees while the upper level boasted a few lilac bushes, a patch of daylilies, and a pear tree, but to me the main attraction was the large doghouse positioned smack-dab in the middle of the yard.

Fido’s home resembled a miniature house for humans, complete with white paint and dark shingles, and it made for a challenging yet achievable climb. The doghouse disappeared immediately after my parents purchased the home. I guess that makes perfect sense because my family did not own any four-legged friends at the time; however, I reckon the disappearance of the doghouse had more to do with the safety of my sister and I than anything else. We did manage though to enjoy the backyard for many years to come: climbing the towering maple trees and pogo-sticking on the patio. We learned how to ride our bicycles on the lower level, and my father religiously planted a garden each spring on the upper level.

At the age of four I became an older brother, and once again I had no say in the matter. With the addition of another sister I soon felt like an Oreo cookie; I was the exciting crème filling in between two dull chocolate wafers. In actuality, I really don’t have a recollection of too many things that occurred when there were just the three of us siblings living under my parents’ roof. I do recall when my brother was born, two years later, because our household then became evenly proportionate amongst girls and boys. What a relief…life seemed a bit more fair at that point. I found there to be an instant comradery with my little brother, and why wouldn’t there have been. We had the same “parts” for goodness’ sake.

I believe most women know what I’m talking about. There’s a reason why the book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus has sold more than 50 million copies. Ladies tend to recognize the significant differences, between the two sexes, more so than most of us clueless men. I presume Elaine Benes, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, from the hit television series, Seinfeld, was speaking on behalf of women everywhere when she proclaimed, “I don’t know how you guys walk around with those things,” during the hilarious episode titled, “The Shrinkage.” It apparently makes sense why women seemingly stick together, through thick and thin, and why guys eventually felt compelled to counter with the saying, “Bros before Hos.” Anyway, being a younger brother was alright, but being an older brother was definitely better. I quickly learned how easy it was to manipulate my younger siblings. Isn’t that what big brothers are for?

My brother was especially susceptible to my less than noble suggestions. We both collected Topps baseball and football cards, but most of the time we lacked the funds to purchase any. I know what you’re probably thinking, but no I did not try coaxing my brother into stealing some. I wasn’t that bad of a brother. I simply recommended he take some money out of a white envelope tucked away in my mother’s drawer. The ordinary envelope had “belt money” written on the outside, and it contained approximately $4.50. The money was received as a refund when my mother returned a belt, for whatever reason, my brother had received as a present. I think she was waiting for the store to get a different size or a different style of belt.

I’m sure I rationalized that technically the cash was my brother’s, and his to do with it whatever he pleased, which I assumed he would want to share with his loving brother. He did! We dipped into the stash just a little bit at a time as to not arouse my mother’s suspicion. One summer we made several trips, just the two of us on our bicycles, to the Tastee Freeze to satisfy our Topps craving. One pack of baseball cards for my brother and one pack of baseball cards for me. What could be fairer than that? Eventually, only .50 remained in the “belt money” envelope, so our brotherly bonding time had to come to an end. I did figure that leaving something in the envelope was probably better than nothing, and hopefully maybe our mother wouldn’t notice. She did!

Over the years my brother and I had each accumulated an impressive baseball card collection which came in handy after I invented an indoor baseball game. I would transform our small bedroom into a Major League Baseball stadium: using four coins as the bases, a brownish pencil as the bat, and a Ping-Pong ball as the baseball. I also placed a long strip of masking tape, high up on the bedroom door, to act as the homerun fence (resembling that of the Green Monster at Boston’s Fenway Park). After preparing the field my brother and I took turns choosing our line-ups from the stacks of baseball cards in front of us. The home team would position their all-stars out on the field’s artificial turf (carpeting), and the visiting team would then send their leadoff hitter up to the plate. We did not sing the national anthem, but we were now ready to drop to our knees and throw out the first pitch.

The pitcher would toss the Ping-Pong ball towards the batter, and if he swung and missed or if it landed on the catcher it was a strike. If the batter hit the ball and it landed on one of the cards in the field of play it was an out. The outcome of all other hits were determined by slowly moving the runner and the fielders at the same speed. If the runner got to a base before the fielder (or his tossed ball) he was safe, but If not then he was out. Most of the baseball cards used in our games took quite a beating. We never used any of my cards, so whether or not I won the game on the homemade field…I still won. My brother’s ball cards sustained considerable damage (ala bent corners) while my collectibles remained in mint condition. Coincidence?

Another time I persuaded my little brother to do something, when he had to have known it was not normal, was during a cold December day in Iowa. I convinced him to join me in stripping down, to just our skivvies, before heading outdoors to become “human sleds.” This winter activity could only be performed under the strictest set of circumstances. The snowbank in our front yard, meticulously formed by my father’s snow shoveling expertise, had to be both firm and slick. It also had to be dark enough outside, so the neighbors couldn’t see us, and my parents had to be anywhere except at home. I, in my fashionable Dallas Cowboys underwear, and my brother, in his Superman Underoos, climbed atop the icy heap. We laid on our backsides and quickly slid down the snowbank into the softer snow awaiting us at the bottom of the mound.

Three trips up and down the slope was apparently our limit because we began losing feeling in our extremities. We were fearful of becoming amputees at that point, so we went back inside to warm up. I think I made us daredevils some hot chocolate. My parents eventually found out about their sons’ outdoor adventure, frolicking in the snow while only wearing their tidy whities, and they halted any future “human sledding” endeavors. Nosy neighbors! I suppose forgetting to turn off the porch light, before partaking in our escapade, wasn’t too bright on my part. I can only imagine what my siblings must think of me. Oh brother.


Did You Miss Me?

I’m back from my sabbatical. Did you miss me? Actually, I wasn’t even aware I had taken a sabbatical until it occurred to me that two weeks had come and gone, since posting my last blog, and I hadn’t written a darn thing in my notebook since. Well, at least nothing that exciting or what I would deem as sufficient enough to write home about. I decided I’d better look up the exact meaning of the word, sabbatical, because suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, I began questioning whether or not I truly knew what it meant. Therefore, I got to thinking it was quite possible that I hadn’t been on a sabbatical after all. I wanted to be sure I had been using the funny-sounding word properly.

Wikipedia defines sabbatical as, “a rest from work, or a break, often lasting from 2 months to a year.” In more recent times it has been described as, “any extended absence in the career of an individual in order to achieve something.” Wikipedia then cites writing a book as an example of fulfilling one’s goal. That does sound rather appealing to me, but it does not accurately describe what I had done with my time the past couple of weeks. In actuality, I studied the Bible, played a lot of tennis, entertained my lovely wife, and took some naps. I also spent a few days filling out those dreaded state and federal income tax returns.

Maybe I finally had succumbed to the infamous writer’s block I’ve heard so much about but had not yet experienced for myself. I recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of my entrance into unchartered waters, by becoming a blogger, and my wife renewed my blog site for another year. She originally set up my site in February 2014, as a birthday gift, because she knew I had an opinion about everything, and she also knew how much I enjoyed writing. I happen to be one of those people who still sends birthday greetings and letters via “snail mail” instead of by the more socially acceptable (yet less personable) way of e-mail. Someone has to keep the United States Postal Service in business.

Maybe the self-imposed pressure of consistently writing something worthwhile, for another 365 days, was contributing to my possible writer’s block condition. Maybe my creativity had run its course, or maybe I simply had grown tired of all the recycled “hot topics” in the news of late: the threat of war, denying gay people wedding cakes, “racist cops,” the threat of war, politicians’ incessant but futile rhetoric concerning dismantling President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act legislation, and did I mention the threat of war. Regardless, this past year I thoroughly enjoyed writing about the “good old days,” and whatever else was on my mind, so I have no intention of abandoning ship at this time. Besides, I don’t want to disappoint any of my seven readers.

However, I feared precisely that, off and on for a few days, whenever I’d stare at the blank page in my college-ruled notebook. I found myself searching for a topic to write about in some unconventional places. I even perused an AARP (American Association of Retired People) magazine in hopes of finding anything that might spark my interest. I’m a long ways away from turning 50 (316 days), but I’ve been receiving the bi-monthly publication in the mail for at least a year now. I reckon I shouldn’t be all that traumatized, by being perceived as an elderly gentleman before my time, since around a decade ago some punk kid behind the counter at McDonald’s asked me if I qualified for the restaurant’s senior citizen discount.

I’m pretty sure I responded with, “only if being 40 years-old makes me a senior citizen.” He gave me the discount. Ouch! I suppose I shouldn’t have been so upset with the young employee’s nonsense because I too was once ignorant regarding the concept of age when I was a youngster. I recall such ignorance when I was in my early twenties, and I came across the obituary section of the local newspaper. After noticing a person had died at the age of 52, I remember thinking to myself, “well, at least he had a good, long life.” I no longer find that sentiment to be true especially since I’m approaching the Big 5-0 myself.

Anyway, I typically begin my writing process after either recalling something from my past or hearing about something interesting, controversial, or appalling in the news. I’ll usually jot down a sentence or two in my notebook, rarely an entire paragraph, and once in a while I’ll just write down a possible title for my blog. More often than not the title changes before the process is completed. I’m constantly trying to find the perfect sentence, so the pages in my spiral notebook contain more arrows than Cupid’s quiver, and they have more scratch marks than the cars entered in a demolition derby. Highlighting, arranging, researching, rearranging, and then tweaking is all part of my writing process. All of this, of course, is done while sipping coffee at Starbucks.

Then comes the hardest part of all. This one-finger typist transfers all of his written words onto the computer screen for anyone to see. My wife has offered (many times) to type my blogs for me. I did take her up on her generous offer in the beginning, but after my first two posts I felt as though the finished product wasn’t completely mine. I guess I’m willing to sacrifice, the couple of hours I’d save, for the satisfaction of seeing the entire project through from start to finish. My blogs definitely are a labor of love. Hopefully, I’m finally over my writer’s block, if indeed that’s what it was, so you won’t have to miss me again.