There is a character in the movie Pretty Woman that walks the streets of Los Angeles shouting stuff. Blogging is the internet/technology equivalent of that guy...or, perhaps, mumbling to yourself walking down a street.
Talk about paranoia--surely caused by excessive cable news consumption.
I skim several newspapers from around the world each day. This morning, I stumbled across a headline, which made me pause. My brain told me that I had read: US to evaluate citizens.
How? Would the government ask about patriotism (grilled by some jerk that has never served in the military, much less been to war, but did vote Republican). Or about sexual orientation? Perhaps about off-shore accounts, which every corporation may have, but not citizens? Surely, the government (prodded by politicians' most fervent supporters) must be concerned about every citizen's consumption of corn syrup, sugar, msg, transfat, etc.--all things flavorful, harmful, and profitable.
I had to read the article to learn the bitter truth, so I could worry properly, complain bitterly...and develop an evasion plan.
Of course, I had misread the headline. The "US" was not planning to "evaluate", rather to "evacuate". This program dealt with the situation in Egypt. What a difference a letter can make.
Slipped disks may be painful, but slipped letters cause stupidity...or worse.
I am a cynic.
That sounds like someone's confession at an AA meeting. It is not. Unlike a desperate alcoholic, I'm rather proud of this trait. (Ironically, if one looks up the definition of cynic, one finds that one synonym is Doubting Thomas...another chicken/egg thing?).
My hero is H.L.Mencken. Although he lived in the last century, most of his observations and words of wisdom are apt in current times. Humans, especially politicians, do not change.
I have found that most people do not like to hear the truth. They ignore the obvious, often to their own detriment. If you point reality, you are labeled "negative". Cynics are disregarded by anyone afraid to face facts.
An optimist sees a glass as half-full; a pessimist sees it as half-empty. A cynic knows for certain that both are true: it's obvious.
My daughter will marry in May.
For years, I have been urging her to elope to Las Vegas and inform me by postcard. As usual, she has ignored my wise council and chosen a big wedding. The key factor in declining Las Vegas kitsch was her keen desire to have a large cake on the day, naturally with copious butter cream icing, and that works only at a big wedding with lots of guests to eat the bloody thing.
When I mention her wedding, anyone that has seen the movie thinks of the classic Steve Martin character. The only thing that I have in common with George Banks is having owned an Austin Healey 3000. Oh, I might have been as cynical with Frunk and Hunk, if my daughter had hired a wedding planner. Fortunately, such creatures are rare in this country. Hers will be DYI, but this is Germany, where things are usually well organized...if you pay.
One thing that I certainly do not share with Banks pere et fille is basketball, although I did buy a hoop for my daughter in her teenage years. It was the time of the 90’s basketball/streetball craze in Germany which, like the tennis craze in the 80’s, rose and fell as dramatically as a tsunami. I don’t recall ever tossing a ball with my daughter, because I probably did not. I am not a fan of the sport. It’s a dumb “game”, invented in a time when average male height was probably 5’5” (pictures of Monsieur Naismith on a step ladder mounting a bottomless bushel basket confirm this), but hijacked by men exceeding 7 feet in height. How tough is it to drop a ball through a hoop? I played ice hockey, which is true sport. One must first master skating, before even attempting skills far more complex than bouncing a ball. But, back to our hoop: I removed it after my children showed little interest (smart kids!), and it only attracted boys more interested in the only hoop on the street than in my daughter and cared not-at-all about damaging my flower beds. What we did share was reading, which started when she was still the crib. We progressed from nursery rhymes to Richard Scarry masterpieces to Eloise...until she was on her own. It is a far more-useful skill than bouncing a ball.
Wishing to emulate great sagas, the happy couple has chosen a castle on the Rhine. I doubt that either has read any of these, so are unaware of the drama. Anyway, the venue is very nice, and the catering is promising. That said, the menu selection must be decided months in advance. How can anyone know what they want to eat on a Saturday evening in May? I have difficulty deciding an hour before lunch. I could have some sympathy with the chef, if the hotel was located in the Seychelles (not a shabby spot for a wedding, by the way), where provisions must arrive by ship and Somali pirates wreak havoc on supplies chains. But the kitchen lies a few kilometers from Europe’s most heavily plied road, rail, and water arteries, plus being not far from one of the world’s busiest freight airports. Okay, it’s on a hill and supply trucks must maneuver through two small villages and along a winding road, but three months to prepare a meal....
What should be entertaining for me will be discussions on seating arrangements. Think of the most-sensitive diplomatic conferences called to tackle the most-contentious multi-country wrangle...
No swans, doves, or any animals are planned. That is one benefit of not having a wedding planner. That said, creatures can probably be sourced quicker than the menu can be changed.
If only I could control the weather....I would hire a weather planner for that...although many probably promise such a service and have mastered the art of making excuses for unfulfilled promises.
If it does rain, precipitation will join another free-flowing fluid: wine. This was not an issue in the film, because the wedding took place in the US. Hypocrisy dictated that alcohol should not be mentioned. But, in a more mature culture, wine is regarded as a necessity and normal. Talk about overkill: the venue is located in the midst of some of Germany’s prime vineyards, but the bride’s godmother owns one the top estates in the country (www.kuehling-gillot.de) and her daughter married into another one (www.battenfeld-spanier.de) . Imagine how much of the stuff is waiting to be consumed in celebration.
Let the hangovers begin...
Since the "fool on the hill sees the sun going down"...
This photo was taken in Dubai, looking towards The Palm from the Al Qasr beach, in October 2010.
This is a hot topic lately. Seems like a bunch of folks are upset about one or the other iron-fisted ruler. The problem is: most are not very good. Oh, they get oppression right, but don't quite fool all the people all the time.
I want to be a dictator. But, I won't settle for some pissant (Lyndon Johnson's word, not mine) country. I set my sights higher...as any self-respecting dictator should. Alexander the Great did. Julius Caesar did. Genghis Kahn did. Hitler...oops.
Anyway, if I ruled THE WORLD, things would be different. First of all, I would knock a few religious heads together. That would solve more than half the squabbles currently raging on this planet. It's not that different religious fight one another; there are disagreements between believers of every brand of weird conviction. Anyone can have whatever religion they want: they will not be allowed to try to cram it done the throat of others, exploit the weak and stupid, or collect money by promising some form of foolishness. Next, I would take all the toys away from the military. Only virtual combat would be permitted. (There has to be some outlet for all that male aggression!). I am not a pacifist: I'm too realistic. But, there should be some way to cut down on the killing. Maybe, I'll simply shut down weapons manufacturers...
I would not plunder the economy to support a lavish lifestyle. That seems to upset the poor people. I'm not greedy and realize that such personal sacrifice is unique in the annals of dictatorship, but I think that "my" people will appreciate the gesture. Having reached the upper level of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, I am content with less. Of course, I will need a PA to answer the phone. Few will have my number, but even those calls will disturb my tranquility. I won't collect houses, like John McCain, because I am happy to stay in hotels. It's not asking much, because I currently stay in nice hotels.
Image is important, but a dictator can change the rules. Not being photogenic, I would not plaster my face on billboards or erect statues. I like the Wizard of Oz Method: hid behind a screen and spout wisdom. I would take one step back and communicate to "my" people through the written word (like I'm doing now).
In a moment of deep introspection, I have come to the conclusion that I have the ideal personality traits to be the perfect dictator: empathy (believe it or not), compassion (ditto), generosity (just ask my spoiled kids), common sense, cynicism (important to fend off sycophants, which tend to gather like pilot fish around a whale), and a bunch of other positive traits (a dictator expects people to accept his word). As dictator, I can command that my negative traits and habits are ignored. rationalized, or blamed on others.
On the first day, I would go after hypocrites, smokers, selective radio and television blowhards, some politicians...
On second thought, ruling the world may be more than I'm willing to take on at the moment. C'est domage for the world!
Today, to "walk like an Egyptian" means avoiding water cannons, rubber bullets, and tear gas canisters.
Cleopatra must be turning in her grave...and not because Hollywood is planning another biopic. Or is she in a pyramid?
If you look at history, the poor woman has been like a chicken on a spit. Descendants and foreigners have given her so many reasons to spin. Ancient history is a bit fuzzy, but the English definitely took over the country and shipped all its artifacts to museums in London. At some point, her descendants got around to kicking out the colonialists...or did they ask them to leave...or did they run out of money? Doesn't matter, because by that time, the Americans had become interested in sticking their nose into Egyptian affairs and giving them a lot of money. Something about a canal, which the English had used to ship plunder home from India: it was needed to move oil in one direction and freighters full of cash to King Saud in the other.
Contentment with having an Egyptian tyrant in her own mold was disturbed by having to listen to jokes in 1967 about the army having tanks with one forward and four reverse gears. They must have been bought from Italy, continuing a long history of collusion with Rome.
The ascendancy of the current military dictatorship afforded her three decades of non-rotation. She must have been gratified to see how it maintained the poverty level of the people at one she recognized. Of course, she was miffed about the Muslim thing, since she was descended from the Sun and could not tolerate competition.
Presently, she spins on her spit, waiting...like the rest of humanity...to see how the United States will respond....
I'm still waiting...
Either I missed this, being too busy enjoying life...will still experience it someday...or it is a myth, promulgated by the advertising industry, the pharmaceutical industry, or the psychiatric industry. If I haven't reached midlife, then I will have a long life! More likely, there is probably no such thing, rather it is an excuse used by weak, incompetent, or foolish men.
On the other hand, I know from experience that menopause is real: it is hormonal and makes the life of a woman unpleasant (and requires patience and understanding in men). Empathy is difficult. Perhaps "midlife crisis" was invented by men to assuage women...or as an excuse for acting foolishly.
Why are movie titles changed, when they are translated into other languages?
Probably because the translators think that they are more clever than the author. Or because they want to be "creative". Or because they are allowed to.
For example, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was changed to Verblendung in Germany. The back translation is blindness/Infatuation/dazzlement/delusion/self-conceit/veneer. I don't get it. Having read the book, I would not have chosen any of these words. And, the original title translates easily: even I can do it. It would be Das Maedchen mit dem Drache Tattoo.
It is not only Germans. English movie titles have been known to be changed for US audiences (as if they might not understand the original) and vice versa.
I am confronted with this phenomenon almost daily. There oughta be a law...
There is a familiar question/saying about a tree falling the the forest. If no one is there to hear it, does it make noise?
The same question can be posed about a blog. Does it exist, if no one reads it? Of course, we all know that a blog--like a memo in a large organization--is written for the writer, not the reader. If anyone reads it (blog or memo), reactions range from disinterest, anger, boredom, amusement, etc.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.