I'm sure you've heard that a new Seth Rogen/James Franco movie called THE INTERVIEW has been pulled from theaters just before its opening weekend. This follows the massive Sony hacking incident, which revealed a ton of information across the internet. Authorities believe that the North Korean government may have been involved in the hack, since the comedy movie in question is centered around Rogen and Franco interviewing that country's ruler.
This really underscores the difference between America and less diplomatic countries. Our politicians are the target of comedy and parody on an almost-daily basis, but we never see this type of reaction.
Speaking of reactions, many celebrities have responded to the controversy and expressed their profound disappointment with Sony. I can't quite grasp how anyone can blame the film company in this situation, because they're trying to minimize the damage in this surprising turn of events. We certainly don't want to give into censorship and sacrifice our rights as a populace, but sometimes you have to duck, cover, and regroup when you have more intelligence to support your fight.
As always, this is just one man's opinion. Your mileage may vary…
It seems like the Christmas season has become a real dividing line for important life decisions.
A new survey says that 19% of couples are "just trying to make it through the holidays" before they pull the plug on their marriage. Not surprisingly, children are a big motivating factor in these decisions.
On a personal note, I have some experience with big family announcements on Christmas: when I was young, my mother decided that she had a real problem with Santa's gift-giving generosity, thinking him unwise for handing out so many gifts, and criticizing his allocation of elf labor. Mom launched into a diatribe in front of the whole family, making us genuinely feel bad about the toys we'd received. Meanwhile, the relationship between my dad and I would really only function at an ideal level during Christmas, so at least I had that going for me…
Here's an interesting little tidbit that I wanted to share:
The subject of sexual harassment in the workplace is being examined more closely than ever before, and companies are taking a zero-tolerance stance against misconduct. As you might expect, the majority of sexual harassment issues are filed against men. As new lines are drawn, some men are finding themselves unclear about the rules, specifically in regards to possible double standards that divide male and female employees and supervisors.
Well, an Australian woman recently won a sexual harassment claim against her boss, who suggested a threesome with the woman and another female co-worker. You may be surprised to hear that the boss who proposed the threesome was also a woman. Obviously, this proposal was unwanted to say the least, and ended up with a court victory.
I don't like the idea of anyone being sexually harassed, but I do feel like it's worth pointing out that men aren't always the culprits. So, maybe you should check your behavior before you hit the open bar at your company's holiday party…
Today's blog comes from one of my mentors, Dan Sanders:
Yesterday, I took the day off. After three or more late nights coupled with early mornings and screaming back pain, it was a flatter-puss day for me. I did some reading as Chloe Cat and I snuggled and watched the wind-driven rain, a Nor'easter that moved through New England, dumping a lot of water on the harbor and snow in the mountains.
I had not purchased a book in years. Either I was fortunate enough to have them given to me, or they came from the library. My wife was an avid reader, sometimes reading as many as three books at a time, which she kept separated in her mind. That was phenomenal to me, but she did it, so there were always books around.
I started blogging out of desperation. My talent was in the spoken word, and in the good old days of radio, my patter was allowed to be 40% thought and the rest spontaneous combustion, just like my podcast (although don't dwell on those percentages as they may change rapidly). My desperation came from many long days and nights at home tending to my wife who was battling cancer, and I needed a creative outlet of some sort. Singing loudly on the front porch was not going well with the neighbors, since I cannot carry a tune in a bucket with a handle on it.
At the time I didn't have my own website, but with some strong encouragement from said neighbors, I joined a few blog sites for writers. I was more like a logger than a blogger, chopping my way through, a little like surfing a giant wave before you learn how to swim. I didn't even know the technical aspects of posting a blog, and then along came Cher.
Cher Duncomb is an English and Speech high school teacher, artist, and private investigator for an attorney general (that last occupation had me a little worried at first), but of all the people I encountered who helped and encouraged me, especially in those early days, Cher stayed with me for the whole trip, a true gift of giving. So the first book I purchased since the release of Moby Dick was Cher's Gandy Dancing on the Second Floor.
Cher writes from the heart, exposing herself to hurt as a true artist does. Her story "Murder of the Spirit: A Story of Domestic Violence" is true and heart-breaking but also the story of a survivor. "Sometimes She Goes to Keening" is another fine example of her work, and here are the last lines: "All those gone before her must surely know how very lonely she is at times. She closes her eyes. She rocks in the chair and she keens."
Her book published just a few weeks ago and is available on Amazon. Cher Duncomb the artist beautifully illustrated the book as well.
There's more on the gift of giving and other stories on the banks of Rambling Harbor. Come on ashore.
We heard from a Rock-a-Holic named Chris, who is worried that his girlfriend might be jealous…of his dog. In fact, Chris says that she hates his pit bull so much that she wants some major changes in the human-pet boundaries before they move in together!
Chris has a longer relationship with his dog than he does his girlfriend, and he considers the very friendly animal his best friend. The girlfriend complains when the dog does things like sleep in the bed, or when he rubs his "boys" on the couch. She wants Chris to neuter the dog and ban him from the bedroom, or she's not willing to move forward with cohabitation.
Personally, I think that relationship mechanics should be taught in school at an early age. So many people enter into relationships with zero experience or preparedness, and that's a big contributing influence to huge problems down the road.
Believe it or not, I was actually starting to take the girlfriend's side – or, at least, having some sympathy for her issues – but she lost me when she started issuing ultimatums. So, let's hear it from you, people: how can Chris keep himself from being hounded by this problem?
If you checked out yesterday's blog, don't worry – we won't start every December blog with some kind of Christmas joke. There's SNOW way we would ever do that, BECLAUS that would be ridiculous.
Okay, okay…let's get down with some Group Therapy!
We heard from Josh, who says he is desperate for Rock-A-Holic advice, because he doesn't feel like he can talk to anyone in his "real" life about this problem. You see, Josh was recently promoted at his job, and he now works for…his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend!
Josh is willing to admit that the ex-boyfriend is good-looking, very successful, and also has the enviable position of being the dump-er, not the dump-ee. Josh has been at this job for five years, and he loves it, but he feels some very serious jealous stirrings when he thinks about the big picture: specifically, that his girlfriend was really hung up on this guy, and even called Josh by the ex's name last New Year's Eve.
Josh's new boss knows the score, and has even asked after the girlfriend on occasion; Josh sincerely believes that he wasn't inquiring to be a jerk, but he also can't quite get over the thought that his new boss used to sleep with the woman he loves. He's honestly thinking about quitting his job, but he's worried that he'll be showing weakness in front of his girlfriend.
Let me tell you, Josh: I don't envy your situation. I like to think that we can usually solve most of these problems via Group Therapy, but this might be the rare case in which I suggest seeking some professional outside advice. I have zero experience with this scenario, and you seem like you're hanging some serious life decisions on this matter.
Can the Rock-A-Holics offer some advice to Josh? Bonus Honesty Points to anyone who has navigated these waters in one form or another…
Hello, good people! Let's help out a fellow Rock-A-Holic, shall we? It's time for Group Therapy!
Today's topic comes from Ashley, who recently saw her sister's best friend having dinner with her sister's ex-boyfriend. Ashley wasn't spotted, but she managed to get a close look, and says that the dinner seemed to be an actual date. As you might expect, Ashley is wondering what to do about this: Should she tell her sister? Talk to the friend? Or keep her mouth shut about the whole thing?
(Credit where it's due: Ashley was the one who suggested that she simply "shut up", to use her words. I don't feel like we hear that as an option from women very often, so it's worth noting.)
Honestly, I don't know why people get so worked up over the idea of their ex dating someone they know, or are related to, or whatever…so I'm turning this one over to you, folks! Should Ashley take action…or keep the information to herself?
Oh, you'd better watch out! You'd better not cry! You'd better not pout, I'm telling you why! It's GROUP THERAPY time!
Today's holiday-themed dilemma comes from a Rock-A-Holic named Jerry, who is completely sick of his girlfriend after four years. He wants to break up with her, but his friends have told him that dumping her at Christmas is a really terrible thing to do. The girlfriend loves Christmas, so Jerry is wondering if he should take the delay-the-breakup advice of his friends.
I wonder if this girlfriend has any idea that her man is tired of her. As someone who was forced at wifepoint (a very dangerous circumstance for married men) to watch – and learn from – the advice of Oprah Winfrey over the years, I have been led to believe that women are evolved, highly self-aware creatures.
So, if Jerry's girlfriend has this self-awareness, then she must certainly have a notion that her relationship is on the rocks. Why on earth would two people in a bad relationship force themselves to struggle through the holiday season, just to avoid some additional bad feelings? Is that really going to change anything, or make it all so much worse?
Let's ho-ho-hear some Christmas breakup advice from you, gang!
Today's blog features one of my mentors, Dan Sanders:
December, around the year of '82, 1982, wind-blown snow, middle of the night (or morning. After all, what is 3 a.m.?). The snow, the kind that sneaks up on you, slowly drifts, quietly getting deeper. It moves across a large deserted parking lot, transforming this lonely place. This deserted piece of asphalt is being molded into the Montana or Wyoming Prairie, a perfect backdrop as Merle Haggard asks the Big City to turn him loose. Though not that far from the city of Boston, it is easy to feel cut off from the rest of the world, watching this snow fashioning beauty from desolation. I will likely not see another human for at least three more hours. I am the keeper of the light from midnight to 6 a.m. I can still see most of my car, but whether or not I'll be able to move it when the morning comes is doubtful, even if relief is able to get to me.
As keeper of the light, I maintain contact with others who dwell in the darkest part of day, the night people. I love night people. They walk on the other side of life, often by choice, and my way of reaching them is from a country radio station operating from the basement of a small strip mall in the middle of nowhere but reaching everywhere, an AM signal that sails across flat lands and water, especially at night, and I am the only show in town, the only one playing music on the AM dial in the middle of a lost time zone.
About once a week I get a call from a cross country trucker. As he enters Rhode Island and starts to pick up my signal he calls—"The California Kid is on the line"—and this time wishes me a Happy Holiday and as usual requests a few tunes to help him reach the state of Maine a few hours away. I am his traveling companion.
I also get calls from Alice. Alice drives all over the area maintaining ATM machines, and she calls once or twice a week as she makes her rounds. I never meet Alice as she is a little like the coyotes that patrol the prairie parking lot, preferring to remain elusive. I call her Dallas Alice, from the Little Feat tune "Willin'," which goes out to her each time she calls.
On this snowy night, Alice calls to wish me a Merry Christmas and says to wait a few minutes then look outside the door. We end the call, I queue up "Willin'," and go up the few steps to the door. There waiting for me, already collecting snow, is a small prelit Christmas tree and a card that says "Merry Christmas from Dallas Alice." I see her footprints across the snow. She had parked near the entrance so she could easily get back on the main road.
I never met Alice, but she left footprints in my mind, and I never met the California Kid, but we road many a lonely highway together. A woman named Alice, Dallas Alice, and the lonely trucker, the California Kid, on a cold snowy night so many years ago, gave me a lifetime of Christmas smiles.
For more, join me on the snowy banks of Rambling Harbor.
It's the holiday season! If you could take a short break from your shopping, stressing, and spiking of eggnog, one of your fellow Rock-A-Holics could really use some Group Therapy…
Amy's ex-husband is married to – and has a child with –Amy's sister. Long story short: Amy couldn't have kids, her husband cheated with her sister…and now they have a happy life, complete with a 7-year-old kid. Thanks to some juggling of family visits, Amy hasn't seen either half of the couple for at least seven years, and she's never met her niece. This year, Amy's mother is asking that she open herself up to the possibility of a true family Christmas, with everyone visiting Amy's parents at the same time. This is a big decision for Amy, but her parents aren't getting any younger, and even her new husband-to-be thinks that the Christmas plan is worth considering.
This is really one of those classic easy-to-see-both-sides situations. Family is important, and blood should be thicker than water; but it's not hard to see why Amy might hold a pretty serious grudge against her ex AND her sister. Lord knows they weren't thinking about family when they decided to have an affair. (Okay, they had a baby, so maybe they WERE thinking about family, but not in the right way.)
We'd love to hear what you have to say, people! Should Amy try to bury the hatchet with a family Christmas gathering, or stay home and keep sharpening the blade?
Today's blog comes from one of my mentors, Dan Sanders:
Last week, before Thanksgiving, I took myself out to the local blood bath known as the shopping "maul." It wasn't as crowded as it will be, but after a while I became a bit faint, and my vision became blurry. Then I saw O. J. Simpson running over shopping carts, pushing aside clothes racks, and racing through the store (and no, this time he was not being chased by the police). I knew it was time to leave.
O. J. is still in jail and couldn't run over shopping carts anymore anyway, and little old ladies could probably push him over. I suffered from what I am now calling PHTSD, or Pre-Holiday Traumatic Shopping Disorder. In my experience, it seems that more men suffer from this than women. To be honest I have never liked crowds, and the premise of my theory has always been rather biblical: where two or more are gathered in anyone's name, Chaos is possible. I would like to think last week was the only time I'll get mauled this season, but there is always something inside of me that feels left out if I don't participate in the madness, so I will likely go again. It reminds me of the old Boomtown Rats tune "Someone's Looking at You" from the album The Fine Art of Surfacing. Anyone shopping this season deserves to get kicked once or twice.
Moving along to the American Music Awards, who watched and who wished they hadn't? For me there were two moments of interest. The first involved Taylor Swift. For a lot of reasons, I like Taylor Swift. I get the feeling that she is a natural goof, and remaining un-silly at all is a real effort for her. She performed her opening "Blank Space" with all kinds of things going on, which I thought was pretty darn good, and ended it staring straight-face into the camera, but if you continued to watch her, you'd see she flapped her arms like a chicken as she left the stage. During the broadcast, she also received the first ever Dick Clark Award of Excellence, presented by Diana Ross, who said "When I was really young, when I first started in the industry, it was Dick Clark who made is possible for us to be on radio and TV," an interesting note in itself.
Selena Gomez also performed at the AMAs and sang "The Heart Wants What It Wants," an emotional song about her troubled relationship with Justin Bieber. I think Selena is very pretty and has a darn good voice, but how anyone could cry over the little Bieber is beyond me. Justin wasn't there but was instead eating burgers at White Castle in New York City and going to church. His handlers said he's being reminded to spread the gospel rather than dwell in the trappings of Hollywood. Oh boy! Someone please tell him Kanye West is not Jesus.
There are more thoughts on these and other things on the shores of Rambling Harbor. Join me there.