Shark Weak: Discovery Channel sinks to new lows while feeding us the fishiest of fare

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I LOVED Shark Week. It was fascinating. A entire week of real footage of real sharks eating real prey and real scientists studying them and their unreal behavior. Sharks, sharks and more sharks all day, every day for a whole freakin’ week on Discovery Channel. It was a really fun time to get my geek on.

Then Shark Week started tanking. Discovery began offering fish feces instead of shark documentaries. The low point was the 2013 “mockumentary,” Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives. The blasted show enticed me and my wife—and 4.8 million other suckers—into watching the search for the “submarine,” a 35-60 feet long prehistoric mega shark.

Less believable than Jaws 3-D

We watched with bated breath as “researchers” pursued the extinct monster they say could be responsible for the loss of a charter fishing boat and all hands off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa.

To be fair, “Certain events and characters in this film have been dramatized” appeared at the beginning and end of Megalodon. We missed the beginning. This tidbit of information appeared again two hours later and way after a tease of Blair Witch Project-like “discovered” footage of a mysterious and colossal sea creature ravaging the vessel. Also, a disclaimer like this typically indicates that the material is based on actual events, not on fanboy fantasy.

With actors posing as “shark experts,” Discovery led us nincompoops on a taut, white-knuckle ride to a “I-can’t-believe-I-fell-for-this” destination of duh. To be fair, I’ll take a bit of blame—we wanted to believe that Megalodon lives. Which is what the shark oil salesmen at Discovery banked on. Literally.

Too much people people, not enough sharky sharky

I should’ve seen it coming. Since 2000 or so, I saw signs that Shark Week began chumming for chumps. When they ran out of shark footage, they began relying on manipulative editing and music and supposed shark people freaking out every time a shark bumped into a boat or shark cage.

In typical reality TV style, Discovery now features fishermen and adventurers as shark “experts.” And they spend more time showing footage of the people researching/studying/exploiting sharks than they do of the freakin’ fish.

I don’t know about you, but I’m fascinated by sharks, not manufactured drama of a shark “documentary” crew. Watch any Shark Week show and in a matter of minutes a so-called shark expert will let out a manipulative, “BLEEP…that BLEEPING shark is BLEEPING huge. Le’s get the BLEEP outta here.”

No, Discovery Channel—YOU get the BLEEP outta here. I’ll tune in again when you stop being a reality TV/ratings weasel and get back to your roots—discovery of our big, beautiful planet. And its sharks. And while you’re at it, stop making the jobs of real shark experts even more difficult.

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Oops, Discovery did it again

Michael Phelps races a shark. Really, Discovery? Turns out he raced a computer-generated shark. And Shark Week fans are up in arms over this? What can you expect from a channel that brought you Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives? So after a 2015 heartfelt apology and pledge to be “focused more on science and research this time around” Discovery gives us a Phelps/Jaws race that wasn’t.

Sadly, Discovery Channel is not about discovery and real science anymore. It’s about ratings and ad money. Shark Week was fun while it kept it real. Now it’s just a bucket of stinky chum for hungry, indiscriminate viewers who, Discovery apparently believes, will swallow anything that’s flung at them.

How to get blocked from social media—for all the right reasons

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Want to make a short and sweet splash in the world of social media? It’s easy. For the record, I’ve only been blocked twice—once on Facebook and once on Twitter—and by the same guy who I’d been 98 percent respectful toward.

My slip-up? In a Facebook reply, I wrote that he seemed angry and arrogant. He blocked me there and then on Twitter proactively—I’d never been to his page.

So it’s not like I’m getting blocked all over cyberspace and want to show you how to become persona non grata. I want to encourage you to discuss passionately and respectfully. If you do so and get blocked, you’ll have done both for the right reasons.

Let me show you three ways to get your block on:

1) Share your opinions

And do so respectfully, logically and CONFIDENTLY.

Offer a dissenting opinion with chutzpah. There’s no quicker way to get booted in today’s namby-pamby, pseudo-discussion-friendly social media scene. Disagree agreeably … with courtesy.

To dissent—no matter how respectfully or effectively—is rude and judgmental. But it can be fun and informative, too. So disagree cheerfully and with civility … be gentle … even though it probably won’t matter.

You see, nowadays, when you disagree with someone, you “invalidate” his or her opinion. It doesn’t matter how absurd it is or how kindly you are as you reduce it to a quivering blob of nonsense—civil give and take is virtually impossible.

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How dare you!

(Internally) How dare YOU … reject my viewpoint without any real consideration and then champion such a silly opinion that a twelve-year-old could dismantle in the time it takes him to eat a cookie?

Sadly, in our snowflake, truth-less culture, all viewpoints are equally true. No matter how ludicrous an opinion, everyone has the right to be right even when they’re demonstrably, flat-out wrong. After all, how can anyone be wrong if all viewpoints feel so right? Was Hitler right about the Jews?

Crickets.

Don’t censor me
You can’t shut me up
So don’t even try
~Audio Adrenaline

2) Use corny commenter names

Note: Do this if you’ve been respectful and srill have comment bullies calling for your blocking. But do it only to comment on blogs—not on Facebook or Twitter. This step can seem disingenuous, but shouldn’t be. Isn’t what you say more important than what you call yourself? What’s in a name?

Curiously, some consider using another name to comment on a blog a breach of trust—even on blogs that allow anonymous or whatever-name-you-want-discussions. Trust? I see it as a trusty way to get back in the game.

But if you’re gonna fake it, fake it good.

When “blogmenting,” go with silly, harmless names like Lynn Guini or Bill Foled. I went with Mr. Spock once and was surprised how respectfully people interacted with me. Mr. Spock’s got real clout when it comes to the discussion scene. Of course, I had to adopt a persona of pure logic and minimal emotion, which was unsurprisingly easy for me.

Bottom line—if they miss your words because they’re hung up on your names—real discussion isn’t gonna happen anyway.

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3) Confound them with truth

If they parrot talking points, offer them a truth cracker. This could open their cage doors to a whole world of possibilities. If they hit you with baseless assumptions, fire back with clarifying questions. Show them you care enough to understand where they’re coming from.

Say someone drops a logical fallacy bomb on you. This is a shut-down tactic most don’t even understand. Someone tried the “No true Scotsman” fallacy on me because I held that there are true Christians and people who call themselves Christian, but may not be.

Social media?

I explained that this logical fallacy application doesn’t work because a Scotsman is a true Scotsman whether he acts like one or not. A Christian shows what he is by the way he lives. A non-Christian who pretends to be a Christian will show he’s not one by his life. Nobody can fake the funk for long.

Nothing confounds like truth. Keep sharing it and they’ll either call you a hater or “judger” or try to get you banned. Or, if they’re open-minded and smart enough, they’ll try to persuade you or even admit that maybe you’re onto something. Social media discourse CAN be a learning experience.

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Block me or ban me

I will always share truth, so do your worst, social media bullies.

As my closing argument, ponder this:

  • If someone’s viewpoint is so fragile that respectful dissent brings about a block or ban, is it truly worth discussing?
  • And if we fail to challenge the fallacy that truth is subjective and all truths are equally valid, aren’t we giving in to the spirit of the age?
  • If you care about civil discourse and its demise, will you join me by being willing to be blocked, banned and even banished in the name of truth?

We shall defend our island of objective truth, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the blogs, we shall fight on the landing pages, we shall fight on Facebook, we shall fight on Twitter, we shall never surrender.
~Lovingly lifted and adapted from Winston Churchill’s “Finest hour” speech

From Russia with Love: Did Putin help Trump win the election?

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That pesky Putin and his friggin’ Fancy Bear hackers … did they help Trump win? The startlingly shallow exposé that follows uncovers nothing, but answers everything. Enjoy.

Election interference. A KGB connection. An East-Meets-West Bromance of Trumputinian proportions. It reads like a scintillating spy novel and plays in the press like an international crime of the century.

Did the Russkies influence the outcome of the election? Did the press blow it? “Fake news” hurt Hillary?

Here’s the cold, hard truth—it doesn’t matter one whit who did what—Trump is our president, and there’s not a dang thing we can do about it.

But it IS fun to point fingers. And conspiracy theories about Russia haven’t been this juicy since the Cold War.

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Let’s dig deeper

Suppose the Russians DID influence our election. How’d they pull this off and why? Does Putin despise Hillary? If so, perhaps it’s because of that silly RESET button that translated to “overload” in Russian.

Did Putin take this as a subtle snark attack on his manhood? Like maybe he thought Hillary was zinging him for his many manly shirtless horseman photos? Or for his overcharged martial arts machismo?

Granted, Putin and Hillary don’t seem to like each other. But I figured it’s because he’s a man and she’s a woman. Does the hatred run deep enough to sic his Fancy Bear hackers on her?

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What we know and don’t know

The DNC servers got hacked, and WikiLeaks laid bare Hillary’s operatives’ election misdeeds. Did this influence the election? Probably. Should whoever hacked the DNC servers also have hacked the RNC’s? Who says they didn’t?

If they did, but chose not to release Trump’s nefarious election dealings, is it because there was nothing to release? Okay, I know what you’re thinking—are you kidding me? Trump and his Trumplings are as crooked as the day is long. You’re probably right.

But we don’t know they’re crooked based on any hard evidence. We DO know about Hillary’s minions’ odious dealings concerning Bernie Sanders. Everything else is innuendo and blind Trump hatred. You can run with innuendo all you like—it’s a free country. Uber Doofus rolls with facts.

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But it isn’t FAIR

What does fairness have to do with anything? The virtue making of fairness is a uniquely American construct. The rest of the world doesn’t play that way. And if we’re honest, neither do we. For sure, Putin’s (former?) KGB operatives don’t trouble themselves with fairness.

How hackers “interfered”

Let’s analyze this election interference stuff.

Hackers hack DNC servers. In doing so, they uncover bad and “unfair” stuff. WikiLeaks publishes it. Hillary takes hits in the form of distractions that slow her momentum. Trump capitalizes by bloviating nonstop about her untrustworthiness.

Seems like politics as usual.

Did the hackers make this stuff up about Hillary’s campaign? Did they create fake emails and disguise them as John Podesta’s or Debbie Wasserman Shultz’s? I haven’t heard or read any denials from either of these schmucks. Have you?

They screwed up and got caught.

Hackers uncovered damaging information, and WikiLeaks simply revealed it to us voters. Is this election interference? Nope. Did it influence voters? Yup. But there’s a big difference between influence and interference.

As voters, we influence each other. The media influences us with their bias. Voter fraud is election interference. So is tinkering with vote counting systems.

If this “interference” is actually influence by information giving, please, Russkies, interfere EVERY time. And make sure you do so with both or all the candidates.

When voting for president, I like raw information. We don’t get it from our media, so why not get it from WikiLeaks? It’s funny how every other scrap of info WikiLeaks has provided—NOT Hillary-related—is praised with none of this handwringing over fairness.

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The BIGLY question answered

Did the Russian (or whoever) hackers help Trump win? Who knows? But here’s what we DO know:

Damning emails helped Trump win. Sleazy Hillary operatives helped Trump win. Hillary’s arrogance, secret server and elitist and dismissive deplorable comments helped Trump win.

Trump’s capitalizing on an eight-year anger build helped Trump win. INFORMATION helped Trump win.

American voters helped Trump win.

 

Does Putin have a bromance with Trump? I don’t know, and I don’t care. 

But I doubt it because Putin is all about Putin. He’ll do or say whatever he thinks will best preserve and expand his power while, secondarily, furthering Russia’s interests. Trump’s probably the same way, except for a niggling streak of patriotism that may counter his power trip.

Perhaps that’s why Putin and Hillary hate each other. They’re more alike than they are different. Maybe it’s a matter of conflicting interests:

Hillary wanted to reign in Putin’s power and Russia’s influence through sanctions and pressure. Putin wants to do the same to us by any means possible.

Trump wants to work with Putin by schmoozing and making deals. At least for now.

Siberian-cold, hard election truths

Those who keep beating this dead horse wouldn’t give a Russian rat’s arse about any election interference, if their candidate had won. Stop whining, and give our electorate a little more credit.

But they don’t and won’t because they can’t accept the idea that Trump voters may not ALL be the caricatures the “resistance” and our media portrays them as: Angry, ignorant, deplorable Bible-clingers and gun toters.

Maybe, just maybe, many are thoughtful, value-driven, high-information voters who carefully consider any and all information about the candidates—no matter how it’s acquired—and then vote accordingly.

Is it possible that some Trump voters voted for the platform and not for the pervert? Should they have voted for his criminal opponent? If they had, there’d still be a pervert in the palace—a prowler of interns with a presidential wife to protect him by destroying even more women.

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Next steps

Hey, Russian hacker/Putin monster makers—Get over it. The election is done and in the books. Instead of chasing Russian ghosts, let’s secure our servers.

Intelligence agencies—Show us what you’ve got on this election interference jazz. Otherwise shut up and stop hassling Americans who don’t deserve your carte blanche surveillance.

Angry protesters—Hack this: Your candidate lost because she sucked a little more than her opponent.

It’s high time to let it go.

Trump’s our president. Like him or not, we’re stuck with him until 2020, at least. Let’s make the best of it.

Putin and the Russians will.

Cali Crazy: A Texan’s take on the Golden State—part 2—Flunking Cultural Appreciation 101

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Here’s a Cali cultural caution: Asking an Indian-American how to make chicken tikka masala is NOT AT ALL like asking an Italian-American how to make spaghetti with meat sauce. When hankering for a favorite Indian dish in a tiny California town with no Indian food joint for miles, care is needed—especially for a Texan.

I flunked Cultural Appreciation 101.

Here’s how it went down:

For months, I’d been eating sandwiches in my first California digs—a travel trailer in the barn of a friend and his family. I began craving ethnic cuisine, namely chicken tikka masala. No. Beyond, craving—I had to have it.

In my previous life in North Texas, I enjoyed access to virtually all manner of fare, but in my new mountain town that boasted one Mexican restaurant and one Chinese place, getting chicken tikka masala was a pipe dream.

The Big Blunder

One day my friend’s youngest daughter (sixteen or so at the time)—I’ll call her Clara—introduced me to her Indian-American friend—I’ll call her Nina. I said, “Nice to meet you.” And then blurted, “Hey, do you know to how make chicken tikka masala?” I figured if I couldn’t get it, maybe I could make it.

Clara slumped in her chair and stared at the table while Nina answered politely, “I don’t, but my dad probably does.” Her dad owns a gas station/car wash/mini-mart in town. I thanked her for the tip and went about my day—sans a chicken tikka masala recipe—and blissfully ignorant of the culturally insensitive faux pas I had committed.

I found out later, to my amusement, that after the painful (for Clara) exchange, Nina asked, “Who is that guy?” To which Clara responded, “Oh, he’s the guy living in our barn.”

Cringeworthy Texan

That evening I saw Clara and remembered her slumping, so I apologized for any embarrassment I’d caused her. Turns out, I hadn’t embarrassed her—she was embarrassed for me. 

She intimated that by asking her Indian-American friend about an Indian dish I loved, I’d crossed the line because I’d assumed that because Nina is ethnically Indian, she might know how to make a popular Indian dish.

Apparently, it’s culturally insensitive to assume anything based on someone’s ethnicity. Oops. “Well, shucks, I’m just a big ‘ol dumb, backward Texan.”

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Cultural appreciation?

Call me crazy, but I would think it’d be gratifying to know that someone of another ethnicity would love one of your ethnicity’s dishes so much that he might ask you how to make it. Seems like a clear case of cultural appreciation to me.

After all, isn’t that what cultural appreciation is all about? Eating?

Apparently, this is what I should’ve said to Nina, “Nice to meet you. You appear to be of Indian descent; may I be so bold as to ask if you are?” Wow. This would make me sound like Dwight Schrute.

Oh, wait, that could backfire. She might have replied, “Why? Because I have dark skin and dark eyes and straight black hair?”

Or she might have simply said yes. Whereupon I could’ve followed with, “Is it at all possible and without meaning any insensitivity whatsoever, but rather only appreciation, might I ask, do you know how to make chicken tikka masala?”

What gives?

Here’s my Texan take:

Clara responded the way she did, in part, because she’s a product of the Zeitgeist—the spirit of the age—that champions cultural diversity over virtually any other social value and regulates its appreciation through the censorship of political correctness.

She perceived my question to Nina as clumsy, backward, and culturally insensitive because she has been unknowingly inculcated with an oversensitivity to “cultural insensitivity” by her California secondary education and her Millennial value system.

Political correctness censors expressions of cultural appreciation by discouraging assumption and stereotypes. Therefore, to avoid offense, one should take great pains to appreciate another’s ethnic and cultural diversity—without saying anything stupid or insensitive.

Texan translation? If you want to know how to make chicken tikka masala, Google it.

For more Cali Crazy Texan takes on the Golden State, here’s part three: Cali Crazy: A Texan’s take on the Golden State—part 3—Holy Holisticism, Batman!

Picking blackberries: Tasting real life

Imagine tooling down a canyon road in an old convertible with friends, a trunk full of berry baskets and toe-tapping songs on the radio. The cool mountain air tousles your hair, the sun warms your limbs and thoughts of ripe blackberries tantalize your tongue. Your only challenging thought is how to resist eating more berries than you drop in your basket.

Life is like picking blackberries. It can be hot and thorny work. But the fruits of a day well lived are truly sweet as you put head to pillow, or the freshest of blackberry cobbler with ice cream to mouth.

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Big small talk

I’ve only been blackberry picking once. The old convertible was a cherry 1960 Studebaker Lark. I went with friends from a tiny Sierra Nevada town in Northern California. We picked and nibbled and dropped and talked about life. A friend’s mother shared about being a college student in the ‘60s—the incredible music, the allure of rebellious freedom, the pressure of Vietnam.

We talked about our plans. Her daughter was interested in grad school at Cambridge. Her son seemed to prefer the solitude of berry picking beyond the group, off the beaten path where the fruit is undisturbed and more plentiful.

The daughter’s friend had just quit her job as the personal assistant to a well-known, workaholic attorney who once helped expose a president who’d lied about tangling with an intern. I could tell she was loving the simple pleasures of sun, berries and good conversation—and the slow pace.

Real life

I found myself enjoying picking blackberries and listening as we learned more about one another. Standing there perfecting the art of berry picking (a gentle tug and twist), I looked at my stained fingers, tasted the sweet tinny taste of berry blood and smiled.

This was a taste of real life. It was an awakening after months of talking with friends about Dallas’ sports teams, watching The Office reruns, mowing my lawn and walking my dog and going to pool parties—all while settling for small talk instead of going deep to share who I really am.

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Credit: uber doofus studios, August 2010

I realized that anything that distracts from connecting with others—movie watching or small talk or any number of self-protective activities—lessens the likelihood of my inviting others to peer into my soul. Anything less is burning time—and opportunities to know and to be known.

I’m not saying that time spent enjoying the company of friends and family isn’t worthwhile. The laughter, the teasing, the shared interests and such are all good things, but if that’s all that happens between people, it’s not nearly enough. Not for me, anyway.

Be like the berry

Take a lesson from the sweet blackberries. Don’t live protectively, hidden and safe behind thorny barriers. If you do, you’ll grow tart and later shrivel into a hardened husk. By protecting yourself from the bruising forces of life, you’ll miss the joy of being selected and enjoyed and appreciated. And, most tragically, you’ll deprive others of the sweetness of your soul.

If this article encourages you, please comment below. I love feedback.

Kiss of life: The peck that saved me

“Gimme a kiss.” This time she closed her eyes and her flexing lips looked like thick, velvety flower petals

When I was stationed at Naval Air Station Oceana near Virginia Beach, Virginia, my best friend was a guy I’ll call Rick. Rick and I were beach and club buddies and were considered rebels among our shipmates because we flaunted regulations and generally behaved like sailors always looking for a good time.

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Sailors, New York, NY, May 2011. © Kathryn Mussallem

Rick is from the hood of Whittier, CA, and sported a cheesy mustache and looked like Sonny Crockett from “Miami Vice” when properly duded. In club mode, he wore white slip-on shoes, linen pants and pink long-sleeved shirts rolled up to showcase his muscled forearms.

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Credit: kocojim on Flickr

Rule benders

My shipmates called me “Shoney’s Big Boy” and “Bouffant” because I kept my wavy hair so much longer than regulation that I had to tuck it under my ball cap. Rick and I bent the rules as far as we could, and I think the “lifers” resented us for our devil-may-care attitudes. They especially resented Rick.

Rick is HIV positive and had to check into a Navy hospital annually for tests. Our shipmates’ dislike of him may have been more from fear than anything. Back then if you were HIV positive, you might as well have AIDS and be a dead man walking. I didn’t think much about it—I might have even drunk after Rick a few times.

Rick and I hit nightclubs in Norfolk every weekend. Not the beaten down, sailor dives where the few women there are life-worn things. Rick preferred “the sisters” so we went where African-American girls were. I was more into white girls, but sometimes played the dutiful wingman. It’s not that I found African-American girls unattractive; it’s that I felt so stiff and so, well … WHITE around them. I was an okay dancer, but ran out of moves in about twenty seconds. Rick was a dancing machine.

Objectified

Once, after dancing the night away, Rick steered us into an after-party with three young ladies. They wanted to stop at a burger place, so we pulled up and they went in. Well, Rick and two of the three girls went in—one stayed in the back seat with me.

She was a big girl—and strong—when she grabbed my arm and urged me to stay, it hurt. For the first time in my young life, I felt fear and doubt about my ability to fend off a woman. Not that I’d ever had to before, but at that moment, I thought there was a real chance I could be raped.

She looked at me ravenously, and I knew then what it must feel like to be a woman cornered by a lustful man. I felt like a piece of meat, and this girl was a tiger—a big, heavy, hungry tiger.

“Gimme a kiss,” she said lustily.

(Oh, no.) “Umm … are you hungry? They’re about to come back.” I thought it a good idea to remind her that the others would soon return—AND with food.

“Gimme a kiss. Yooz a FINE-lookin’ piece o’ white boy. GIMME IT.” She began to purse and flex her ample lips.

“Uh … (Please come back, Rick and girls. Please, someone, help me.) Oh, here they are now,” I said brightly.

They walked up giggling and carrying cardboard trays of burgers, fries and drinks. When they saw my wide-eyed relief and the way the girl had me cornered in one end of the seat, they looked jazzed for a show. Rick gave me a wink, as I shot him a “please help me, look.” All he did was start making moves on one of the girls as she tackled a burger.

“Gimme a kiss.” This time she closed her eyes and her flexing lips looked like thick, velvety flower petals opening and closing like in time-lapsed nature videos. Then she leaned in even closer.

“I . . . I really don’t want to,” I stammered.

She opened her eyes wide. “Why not? Somethin’ wrong wit me?”

“Oh no, there’s nothing wrong with you” (beside the fact that you don’t get that no means no). I guess I’m just hungry.”

“I’m HUNGRY, too—for YOU. Now gimme dat kiss!”

She flexed her lips again, and I could see there was no way out. I HAD to kiss her.

“Okay, but just one kiss, and then we can eat, right?”

“Okay. I’m ready.”

Like a frightened bird

She closed her eyes, pursed those colossal lips, and leaned in. I gave her the quickest peck in history—even quicker than one you’d give your grandmother as a kid. Her lips felt hot and formidable—like if I’d lingered, they would’ve pulled me in as a writhing, muscular vortex of lusty, unquenchable desire.

Happily, Rick bailed me out by opening the door and offering us burgers. With her distracted by food, I fled the back seat and made like I had to use the Hardee’s bathroom real bad. Actually, I did—she scared the pee out of me.

If this article entertains you, let me know by commenting below. I love feedback.

Almost Famous: Like a day-old doughnut

When I was 13, I worked in a doughnut shop. I wasn’t famous. One day a man walked in, placed his order and looked at me closely. “Are you Italian?” he asked. He looked middle-aged and wore a nice suit and was bold and confident, like he was used to getting his way.

“I’m half,” said I.

“How would you like to be in a movie I’m making about my life in New York City? I’m Italian, too, and I’m looking for an Italian kid to play me. Do you have any brothers?”

“Yeah, I’ve got three.”

His face lit up. “Three? That’s perfect. We may be able to use them, too.” He handed me his card—it had an Italian name on it.

Credit: Jaguar PS/Shutterstock.com

Discovered

“Give me your address, and I’ll come by tomorrow afternoon at two o’clock to talk with your parents about putting you in my movie.” When I prattled to my folks about it, they were skeptical. My mom said later that my Italian Dad wondered if he was a pervert and wanted me for a child sex ring.

I was thrilled—I was going to be famous. I told all my friends and could barely sleep that night. The next day it seemed like forever for the big, fateful meeting to come. I rode my bike up and down the street to pass the time and to get a jump on the guy’s arrival. Meeting time came and no big-shot movie guy. 15, 30 minutes … an hour—he never showed up. No call to apologize, nothing.

Discarded

I was crushed—I wasn’t going to be famous. My friends laughed it off and wanted to ride bikes. We called the guy names and thought he was a big jerk for getting a kid’s hopes up and then letting him down. I felt hurt about it for a couple of days—I wanted to be famous—I thought I was about to become the next Ralph Macchio.

I’d visualized being rich and famous and not having to work in a doughnut shop for two dollars an hour. Not that I had to work in the doughnut shop, but you know how a kid thinks. Everything’s in the here and now. I wanted to be somebody and my chance to make it big materialized in the form of a nice-suit-wearing, big-talking dude who didn’t show up or call to apologize. He whipped up a boy’s dreams and then let them grow cold and stale like a day-old doughnut.

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I’m not sure why being famous was such a draw for me then. Now, I’d rather be anonymously successful, so I can enjoy the freedom that comes with making good money without the headaches of the paparazzi and adoring fans and the pressure and fears that come with celebrity.

Mo’ famous, mo’ problems

Fame has the power to buy you the whole world, but often comes with fetters that rob you of freedom. And no amount of money or power or celebrity can buy happiness. The world is bursting with people who want to be famous. All they need do is heed the words of Elvis: “Who cares for fame and fortune? They’re only passin’ things.”

If this article entertains you, let me know by commenting below. I love feedback.

The hassle of hugging: If I must, I do it right.

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Hugging. I’m not a natural hugger. I can count the number of times my mom hugged me on one hand. She’s not a natural hugger either.

My hugging hang-up haunted me for years. When older women hugged me, I experienced profound discomfort. I’m talking sweaty fear and blushing. And by the time I’d become a passable hugger, someone invented the side hug, and it was all the rage.

Side hugs are for chumps

I HATE side hugs. I’ve worked hard to develop my rudimentary hugging skills, and here comes this silly-safe side-hug hogwash. Perhaps it was created as an anti-predation measure for inappropriate touchers, but it’s a slap in the face to us non-pervs. Sadly, this pseudo hug has caught on like wildfire.

If a woman offers me a side hug, I say “No, thanks. It’s the real thing or nothing for me.” Or, “I’m good, thank you. I’m a married man. You know, because we men think hugs are so erotic.”

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