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Donna Fasano Blog Hop (with prizes!)

It’s Donna Fasano day here at Bubbles. Deux.

If you haven’t heard of Ms. Fasano, you will after today! Take a look at her new work, Reclaim My Heart, enter at the end of this post for a chance at winning, winning, winning and visit the rest of the blog hop tour to meet everyone and show Donna some support!

Title:  Reclaim My Heart

Author:  Donna Fasano

Format:  Paperback and eBook

Publisher:  Hard Knocks Books

ISBN:   978-1939000200

Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Purchase Now:  Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Apple /  Kobo

About the Book:
Sixteen years ago, Tyne Whitlock cut all ties to her past and left town under the shameful shadow of a teenage pregnancy. Now her fifteen-year-old son is in trouble with the law and she is desperate for help. But reaching out to high-powered attorney Lucas Silver Hawk will tear open the heart-wrenching past in ways Tyne never imagined.

Forced to return to the Delaware Indian community where Lucas was raised, Tyne and Lucas are tempted by the heated passion that consumed them as teens. Tyne rediscovers all the reasons she found this man irresistible, but there are scandalous secrets waiting to be revealed, disgraceful choices made in the past that cannot be denied. Love is a powerful force that could heal them both—if the truth doesn’t rip them apart.
About the Author:
Donna Fasano is a three time winner of the HOLT Medallion, a CataRomance Reviewers Choice Award winner for Best Single Title, a Desert Rose Golden Quill Award finalist, and a Golden Heart finalist. Her books have sold over 3.6 million copies worldwide and have been published in nearly two dozen languages. Her books have made the Kindle Top 100 Paid List numerous times, climbing as high as #17.

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The Kitchen Project…A Guest Post by Diana Powell Ward

Have you ever had the good fortune to meet someone in one capacity, then find out that you can learn so much more from this person than you ever imagined?  Good fortune like that probably comes alone much more often than we allow ourselves to embrace.

Today’s guest post is by a woman I admire tremendously. I truly think she is just the nicest, most kind, ridiculously smart woman I have met in years and she has honored me by letting me post something of hers in this little space.

I think that when we all realize how much we change and how often those changes are defined by things we don’t even notice – a sink, paint, tiles – we get a better idea of how our history and our future are all often tied together in ways we forget to embrace.

So…without more rambling from me:

The Kitchen Project

For weeks my fridge and stove were sitting in the living room, along with an upended exercise bike, and disassembled kitchen stuff. The living room looked like a storage area. The kitchen, on the other hand, showed the underbelly of rubble and soil that occurs when people grow up, part, move on.  Men came three weeks ago to remove the wood cabinets, countertop, and sink. The dirty walls behind the cabinets were a gray wash, framed by the sunny yellow that I painted the room after D and I separated and I had the freedom to do as I pleased. I feel bereft of these objects that were a part of my daily rituals of survival – eating, cooking for family and friends, a Thanksgiving when a huge cabinet fell forward off the wall from the weight of my dead mother’s extra dishes.  My home is changing in ways that make me feel disoriented. I know I should be excited with the new things coming in, cabinets with glass insets, quartz countertop and inlaid sink, porcelain floor tiles – new colors, new textures, new, new, new – that is what makes me feel so strange.

This all started with a leak under my sink, went to a major blockage in the wall leading down to my neighbor’s bathroom, black sludge billowing up into my sink. Before I knew it, the wall behind my sink was ripped out, 80-year-old pipes were exposed, and I could see down into a small corner of the bathroom below, where the leak had settled into the ceiling and required removal of a big chunk of the ceiling to expose the pesky water’s pathway. Looking down at the floor now I imagine my children crawling around when they were little, while I tried to get their meals ready, mice occasionally sneaking in from the cold in late October in the space between the brick wall and the floor boards, and the din of the dishwasher as it cleaned up the dishes from a late night party when we had drunk too much and I insisted on cleaning up before allowing myself to go to bed. In a few days there will be no more visibility to my memories of our life in this kitchen, nothing to anchor me but my own will to remember.

Now everything is finished – the walls are painted Silken Pine, the Italian tile floor has been laid, the cabinets are hung, and the stone countertop and stainless sink are installed. We even have a swan-necked faucet that has two kinds of spray and movable parts.  When I walk into the kitchen, the natural textures, especially of the tiles, give off an echo and feel cool to the touch. The space is larger. It is like getting off the boat in Martha’s Vineyard every summer after nine months in this New York apartment. The air is cooler, the space is bigger, and I can breathe deeply. I am wrapped in a Zen-like energy that ripples up my legs and across my back.

New York is the place we all functioned individually – the kids could come and go on the block even when they were 4 and 5, as I could hear them through the open windows. D had his daily routine that revolved around Second Avenue– get up about 11 am, off down the street diagonally for two blocks to Veselka for the paper and coffee and across the street to the office at his theater on St. Mark’s Place. After the show was done he would stop at the Orchidia on 9th for booze and endless conversation with other actors, closing the triangle back at home after the kids were asleep. I could work at home in silence and feel free of family pressures.

I have put away all the dishes and glasses, pots, casseroles, pantry stuff, and still have room. For 43 years I have organized this space and fitted things into places that nobody else knew existed.  Jeff Buckley is singing about “moving in ya” as I sit down to contemplate the fresh environment and remember my old kitchen on 10th Street with the bright yellow floor and D and I sometimes making love resting on the side of the tub.   And I can welcome the knowledge that “love is not a victory march; it’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.”

 

Earth Day…A Guest Post by Kim Urig

I spend a great deal of my writing time addressing environmental and healthy living issues. My work has been published in several venues over the years and I’ve adopted the name FreshGreenKim as my Twitter handle. In other words (albeit grammatically incorrect), Green and Me go hand in hand. It is my area of expertise and passion. So when my colleague asked me to contribute a guest column for Earth Day, I warned her that my words may not be exactly what she expected, as I find Earth Day a pretentious and arbitrary way to show that we care about our planet.

I have a very hard time conjuring something interesting to say about how Earth Day has evolved since the first Earth Day in 1970 which included a day’s adjournment of both the House and Senate in Washington DC so our political leaders could make speeches about what was considered the most popular and least risky issue in an election year: The Environment. Hard to believe, isn’t it?

Watch this short news clip and see for yourselves:

What was considered common sense 42 years ago is now a marketing gimmick and point of contention. We debate climate change and tout studies to shirk any responsibility for conservation, justifying waste and irresponsible consumption of resources “since climate change is a lie anyway”.

We are a nation that generates trash at an embarrassing rate. Corporations create new ways to market disposable trash that now is called “ecofriendly”… a disposable single serve bottle of water, a biodegradable dryer sheet that is scented with petroleum-based fragrances, or my personal favorite, paper plates as an environmentally responsible choice. Huh?

On April 22nd , we will don green clothing with clever sayings and symbols to show our neighbor how committed to the environment we are while we shop for green merchandise in a reusable bag that was manufactured overseas, from polypropylene, that can take up to 28 times as much energy to produce as a single plastic bag. It’s unlikely that we actually will reuse the bag, but rather adds it to a collection of “reusable bags” that defy their moniker. Much the way we don stars and stripes and send colorful and sparkling explosives into the air to commemorate our forefathers’ bloodshed on July 4th or decorate our lawns with inflatable Santas or Easter Bunnies on religious holidays; we celebrate in visible, yet ultimately, ineffective and meaningless ways. We forget what the days truly commemorate.

Earth Day is not about 24 hours, but rather a life choice. We need not wrap ourselves in green-dyed clothing, generating waste, but instead, truly consider changes that will respect our planet and its future residents. I would rather on Earth Day the folks who truly care about our planet would just make ONE change (or more, but I won’t get greedy!). If you care about the environment, you already know where you’ve taken the lazy path. You know the things you’re doing that aren’t really in synch with loving our earth. I challenge you not to take a day, but rather to make a permanent lifestyle change. Do something differently. Refill a water bottle. Skip eating meat. Don’t buy things you don’t need, and reuse more of what already exists. Walk when you can instead of drive. Buy a basket for your bike and use that for local errands. Stop making excuses and start caring. Pick one action and stick to it. Then once that’s a habit, pick another action.

Life here is all we know, this planet is the only home we have. We need to respect it and preserve its resources.

Kim can be found on Twitter at @FreshGreenKim and online at http://www.ourdailygreenlife.blogspot.com/ or http://www.examiner.com/green-parenting-in-cleveland/kimberly-urig

 

Fake Trees…A Guest Post by Wade Knapp

A Note From Bubbles…

For those of you who know me, you know I have been friends with this next guest writer since moments after meeting him almost two years ago. He’s become such a good friend because he always says the truth, even when it’s painful.  I was going to go on and on about all of the new thing going on in his life right now, but sometimes you just have to let one story say it all.  I asked him to consider writing this a few months ago after a very random conversation about real vs. fake trees.  My personal feeling is that only this guy could write this story right now…So I’ll stop typing and let his words do the real work.

- – – – -

In less than a month, I will be 41 years old.  I’ve never celebrated Christmas with a real Christmas tree.  40 straight holidays and never an actual, real tree to decorate.  That has to be a record.  My parents owned a 4 foot tall tree that was stored in a white box with large red lettering stating the obvious, “Imitation Christmas Tree”.

I can remember my dad pulling the white box from storage every year and setting it up on our card table.  My mother would put a nice sheet over the table to hide the cigarette burns and I guess make things seem more festive.  The small tree could be assembled in less than 5 minutes.  My mother and I would decorate the fake tree together, using the same ornaments year after year.  The only new additions would be the holiday projects I crafted in school, this was back when we were allowed to celebrate Christmas in school.  The holidays rarely changed when I was a kid.  My parents eventually added another child, but not until I was 10.  The boxes that everything was stored in began to wear and tape would be added to hold them together one more year, none of them were ever replaced though.  Christmas was predictable, it was a show…it was fake, like the tree.

The reality was that my mother and father rarely got along.  I only remember seeing them kiss once.  And I can only remember my mother saying they loved each other once as well, my dad didn’t say it, he just looked at me and nodded.  I think I was 14 when I had this brief interaction with them.  14 years is a long time for a child to never witness his parents holding hands, making out in the kitchen or hearing the term “love” mentioned in reference to the state of their marriage.

The norm for me was arguments, animosity and glaring looks.  However, during the holiday season they were better.  It was as if the fake tree was a reminder to suppress reality.  Once the tree was up, we had family meals and discussed at length what we were doing for Christmas.  Christmas was definitely family time.  We spent more time together and more time with extended family members.  On Christmas day, we would open gifts at home and then travel to my grandparents house to repeat the process.

I moved out of my parent’s home when I was 22 years old.  Marriage was the reason I left, otherwise I might still be sleeping on the top bunk in their two bedroom house.  After I left, their relationship went downhill rapidly.  Even though my mother placed the blame of her failed marriage on my shoulders, I don’t take responsibility.  I was 27 when they split, they only made it 5 years after I moved out.  My dad has possession of the tree.  It’s still in the same dingy white box with yards of masking tape stuck to it.  I don’t think he sets it up anymore.  Nobody goes to his house for Christmas.

Since moving out, I have been the proud owner of three fake Christmas trees.  My wife and I have been married 18 years now but we aren’t likely to see our 19 year anniversary.  My marriage has been faltering for several years, yet we have continued to try to stay together and reconcile our differences. However, last August the burden was too much for me and I told her I wanted out.  There was no looking back, she jumped at the proposition like I knew she would.  We opted not to tell our families or children until after the holidays.  Not because we were working on resolving the problem, but because we didn’t want to ruin the season.  Like always, we assembled our 7-foot fake Douglas fir and hid our very real issues behind it.  Just like my parents used to do.

The artificial Christmas tree is convenient and easy.  The average fake tree lasts a family about six years.  The average length of a marriage is eight years.  I should be happy.  I’ve beaten both of these averages.  I truly hate the notion of being an average statistic.  What’s my point of this story?  Are imitation Christmas trees the downfall of marriage in my family?  I doubt it.  I, like my parents, have used the fake Christmas tree as camouflage.  It’s a convenient bandage used to cover up the scars of marriage and remind everyone that Christmas is family time, so suck it up and smile.  Worry about your problems in January and maybe we will forget them altogether.

I’m making big changes this year.  Not many of them will be easy, but I’m already considering a real, live Christmas tree.  It’s probably the easiest decision I’ll make this year and I have to wait until December to do it.

Guest Post: Divorce, Quickie Style

What to expect from a quickie divorce company

Okay, so it’s not the cheeriest topic, but as someone who’s just reached the end of a very long divorce process, I’m feeling the need to share anything I can that might help folks who are still going through it, or who’re about to start. I was told I’d feel relief when it was over; in fact, I didn’t feel any kind of watershed moment when the decree nisi finally came through – it’s so sad that we have to go through this kind of thing at all. My divorce was less bloody than some, but it took years to achieve – first he was trying to DIY-divorce me, but that ground to a halt, and then I had to save up enough money to do it myself.

How much does it cost?

If you can prove you’re on a low income, you can apply for a fee waiver, which reduces the amount you must pay the court – I ended up paying only £65 in total, and £20 of that was due to a complication. The majority of the cost went to the lawyers.

You used to be able to file your own divorce, but the court staff aren’t there to advise you, and it seemed impossible to get right. Now, the rules have changed and the process is even more complicated, and potentially expensive; they fine you every time you submit a petition that contains any mistakes. So a lawyer felt like the safest route.

I went to one of the online “quickie” divorce companies, as high street solicitors often charge £100s per hour of their time. If you can afford a local high street solicitor I do recommend it, as some aspects of the quickie process were very stressful – it took three times longer than promised, there were unexpected costs, and their methods were cold and anonymous. They were super-friendly to begin with, assigning me a personal advisor (read “sales rep”) to make sure I had the “right” package. These range from £200 for a very basic package with no support from a lawyer (you fill in all the forms, quickie company checks and submits them), to just under £400 for a package where a high street lawyer is assigned to represent you in court if necessary.

As soon as they had my money, of course, there were no more friendly phonecalls – just an online questionnaire to fill out, which was subsequently handed onto a high street lawyer in Wales (I live in London). The quickie company did email me once to request further info, but the rest of the process was a string of anonymous emails from this Welsh lawyer. To be fair, they only receive a £50 fee from the quickie company. It’s a strange process. But they got it done eventually.

How long did it take?

The whole process, from my first call to the quickie company to my receipt of the decree nisi (which makes the divorce legally binding) has taken nine months. The quickie company told me it would take three. Six weeks of that was an obligatory legal waiting period, during which time anyone who opposes the divorce can speak up.

It was a bit of a risk; they could’ve just taken my money and run, which they didn’t. If you’re low on cash, it’s a viable option, but you will need to be brave, and set aside £150 or so for sundry costs like court fees and paying a high street lawyer to swear your affidavit, which must be done in a lawyer’s presence, and cost me £10.

 

**Website note: The above is a non-paid post via Red Mud Media and is for information only. 

Why We Hate New York

By Thinking Man’s Conservative, Feb. 12, 2012

To comment on original post, please visit: http://thinkingmansconservative.com/

I hate to break it to you, New York, but as a friend and part-time resident, I feel I need to tell you that people don’t like you very much.  I’m not talking about the bean-eating Brahmin of Boston.  It’s middle-America, people from Omaha, Des Moines, Memphis, Mobile, Kansas City.  These people don’t like you.

I’m sure you’re asking why these people don’t like you. You’re the place where many of their relatives, distant or close, first landed in America. You’re the city of hopes and dreams. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere…I imagine a young, upstart Sinatra singing this, looking across the Hudson, with ambition and determination, from the place where my apartment now stands, but I digress… You think of yourself as the personification (citification?) of the American dream.

So why do people mock you? Why does Newt Gingrich refer to you as the city of high-rise living, subway-riding elites?  To anyone who has ridden a NYC subway, or seen the high rise projects in the Bronx, I’m sure you know the kind of elites to which Newt refers. Why the vitriol?

Why? Because you seem out of touch with how the rest of America lives – the real America – the America of Norman Rockwell paintings, Jimmy Stewart movies, the America of wheat, corn, cotton, automobiles and strip malls.

You don’t invite your neighbors over for Sunday BBQ. You’re obnoxious. You talk too loud and too fast. You have way too many people. You can’t drive. You’re pompous.

More importantly, you’re successful. You’re ambitious (refer back to Sinatra). While the rest of America is losing hope in ever realizing the American dream, you get up every morning and keep chasing it. And you sometimes get there. You don’t know what it’s like to have to give up on the dream.

To anyone who is concerned about this election cycle, understanding this sentiment is key to understanding one of the most powerful forces that shaping the race. It’s not really Democrat versus Republican, or progressive versus conservative…it’s urban versus non-urban.

New York is just an archetype of this sentiment.  This sentiment exists, admittedly to a lesser degree, in my hometown of Charlotte. The rift between those who live in the core of Charlotte, many of whom are ambitious, successful professionals working Uptown (our version of downtown), and those who live outside of the city, is huge, and widening. The way these people vote follows predictable patterns.  Not just for candidates, but on issues as well – Should we extend rail lines? Should we widen roads? How do we fix our schools?

However, as much as we dislike the cities, realistically, we should embrace them (see New York, I’m still your friend).  As we look at the plight that the Great Recession has created for so many people, our cities still offer promise. Nowhere else in America is social mobility as possible as it is in the cities. Even today, the immigrant who comes to New York with nothing more than a dream can still be successful.

Our cities are still the centers for innovation.  Innovation occurs when you put a lot of smart people together where they can build off of each others’ ideas (heck, give me and my friends an evening and a case of beer, and we’ll get America working again).

As counterintuitive as it seems, cities are some of the greenest places on Earth. As we struggle to find energy independence, we can once again look to the cities. The average city dweller uses far less energy per year than the average non-city dweller.

I know that much of the country is struggling. It’s real, and it stings. However, some politicians will try to manipulate this sentiment. They will drive a wedge between the urban centers and the rest of America. They will play on the resentment of cities to drive a traditionalist agenda which, if actually enacted, would drive us back to pre-industrial days. So, be very wary of the anti-urban, anti-“elite” rhetoric.

One more thing, come back and visit us. We’ll even have you over on Sunday for BBQ to watch the Giants.

 

Follow Thinking Man’s Conservative on Twitter: @TMConservative

**Photo Caption: Rockwell’s Breakfast Table Political Argument from 1948 was a Saturday Evening Postcover on Oct. 30, 1948. Courtesy Harry S. Truman Library. The black-and-white photo it was taken from (right), courtesy of Norman Rockwell Museum.

From Daria to NotLikeHerEither…Cupid’s Got a Brand New Bag…

I love the idea of the ‘guest post’ for many reasons. One of them being that you never know what your friends will come up with when you ask them to write for your blog and that’s part of the fun. And if blogging isn’t fun, I’m not sure why most people would want to do it.

Here we are: Valentine’s Day. I’ve been texted and tweeted and called and not to suggest that I am not appreciative, the person who makes me smile the biggest is a 19 year old Penn State student. She and her bestie are taking each other out on a date tonight and I couldn’t be more excited for them. S and A are quite sweet and I am just a bit jealous that I didn’t think to take out my bestie. Oh, well, there’s always next year.

Anyway, back to the purpose of this post…Ms. S. from the beautiful state of North Carolina, works at a most interesting location – one that sees a LOT of business today because what better way to tell your sweetheart that you love them than by purchasing the latest in adult toys? No, really. I love you, here’s a ball gag.

To be honest, I’m a bit geeked up because not only do I get to post this special missive for you all, but I also get to direct you over to the HuffPost where my other girl, Daria, has written a joyous and love-filled ode to Pope Valentine. Love. It’s where it’s at, ‘cept for when it’s not there.

——–

So I hate Valentine’s Day…but really who doesn’t??

Oh yeah that’s right we all know how doesn’t…

Florists? Greeting Card Companies?

Nah, they hate it too..’cause look, I sell dildos for a living, and apparently men think that’s just what a girl wants to know you REALLY love her..something that can bring her to orgasm..apparently you’re not too worried about it the rest of the year??

The point is that the week before Valentine’s Day is by far our busiest week of the year.  Our ‘Red Hearts’ glass dildo being the enticement to convince you that your significant other shuns the idea of flowers or sentimental words..they just want something up their butt!

The people who work in the industries that provide these lavish gifts hate you…all of you…

LOL I kid..we hate like 93% of you.

We tolerate your rudeness and total delusional sense of entitlement and replace that with a sense of humor and the knowledge that you may think you can yell at us..but I know you have sex with masturbators shaped like flashlights! Just sayin!

Oh, and your wife is going to kill you for ordering a queen size piece of lingerie even after I checked and you tell me she normally wears a size 8 in regular clothes and I explain she doesn’t need a queen size no matter what.  It’s supposed to be tight..that’s the point..but you refuse to listen..I end our call advising you to hide all knives in your home before she opens that package…*shaking my head*

On a personal note I hate Valentine’s Day because it’s a ‘mull over’ just like every year.  Is THIS the year I make up a boyfriend and send myself flowers to work??

What’s sad is when you still consider pulling that move but you’re married. L. O. L.

The part I do like about Valentine’s Day is, as a fat girl, this is truly kinda like Heaven on earth.  Wednesday, the 15th, IS like ‘Orgasm…in MY MOUTH…day’ for real.  All the sales on chocolate!  Can I get an AMEN?!

I am not above sitting in my underwear in my living room – empty heart shaped boxes at my feet –  brown ring around my mouth – moments away from a sugar coma..ALONE..loving every single thing about myself!

I don’t dislike Valentine’s Day because I’m single.  In fact I feel rather lucky to be single on this holiday because this is the scenario I’M missing out on:

Putting on a tight uncomfortable outfit (spending literally hours doing hair and makeup), going to a loud embarrassingly crowded restaurant that I (I know my type) know I can’t afford, and knowing the fool I’m with took my debit card out of my wallet to pay for this “special” dinner *blank stare*.

I decide, crap, I’m paying for it so I’ma eat what the hell I want…which means I eat too much..totally turn off my “valentine” who’s watched me consume my entire salad and entire steak and entire potato – half the bread basket and two bottles of wine…while burping and rolling my eyes at him – not even excusing myself.  Even over the loud restaurant banter you can hear the seams in my outfit scream for release!

I stumble back from the third trip to the bathroom where, for the first time in my life, I consider bulimia and I see him…

The man I love, my boo, my lovah, beaming while watching his woman gracefully adjusting her breasts so the nipples point out (duh, classy) with a perfectly wrapped present glowing on the table where my empty seat waits.

There is always that perfect moment right before you open the box when you think of all the ideal gifts.  And of course, he knows you better than anyone so this is something that represents your love and you togetherness…your hearts beating as one.

You open this amazing gift and of course – it’s the f*ing heart dildo with a g-string for a man who must weigh 500lbs.  Your honey will have forgotten to remove the shipping insert so you’ll see he also purchased himself a penis pump that costs twice as much as anything else in the box!

Yeah I’ll just take the midnight trip to Walmart in my PJs and fur coat to get first dibs on the heart shaped M&Ms that go on sale at midnight.

Valentine’s Day is celebrated by a lot of people for a lot of different reasons.  The one thing they all have in common is an interest in the acknowledgment of love – be it for sweets, a partner, or some booty.  No matter what, it’s about spending money you don’t have to show someone today is not the day you want to kill them.  Today is the day you’re going to love them. Then comes February 15th and everyone can go back to normal.

Happy Valentine’s Day Y’all!

 

**Photo caption: Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825)
Cupid and Psyche
1817
Oil on canvas
The Cleveland Museum of Art,
Leonard C. Hanna, Jr., Fund

 

Hello, World…Is This GOP Mic On?

E. Nigma. Anoymous, yes. But without merit? No way.

When I started to think about asking my friends to guest blog I made a firm decision to let them write what they know best. Sure, I may have made a suggestion, but I knew that I wouldn’t edit their thoughts in any way. Even if I disagreed. Or maybe it is especially if I didn’t agree.

What I am learning is that my friends are even more diverse than I realized and that is okay. Take, for example, Mr. Nigma. He’s sharp. Funny. Well-read and well-traveled. And yet, he’s Republican-friendly. Kidding! I kid. No, really. Here’s someone I agree with on most everything, but we split on this one issue and it’s totally cool. We’re still friends. I wish more people could see the danger in ‘u’s vs. ‘them’ because you never know what enigmatic person you might actually like if you listened to their reasoning. Well, when they are being reasonable.

Who knows, this guy may just agree to be the “He” in the “He said, She said: Politics 2012″ series coming up. There’s no pay involved but oh, the discourse. The Discourse!

And now…E. Nigma. Just in time for the South Carolina Primaries.

January 21, 2012

It’s heart-wrenching to watch your good friend slip further and further into maniacal delusion.  The friend you used to be able to count on.  The one who always inspired you and always acted with the discerning judgment you came to expect.  To watch this friend become a raving maniac makes you feel like the ground you walk on isn’t reliable anymore.  You find yourself questioning why you became friends in the first place.

This is where I am with the Republican party.  I used to count on the Republican party to be the sober one at the party – questioning the effectiveness of federal programs, holding governmental agencies accountable to demonstrable results, making the tough calls on allocating the federal budget across myriad programs to address public needs.  The Republican party was the older brother who loved you, but always told you straight when you needed to shape up.  Where have you gone?

Now you’re the madman on the corner shouting about global warming conspiracies, secret plans to turn us all into homosexuals, theories that our current President is simultaneously Marxist and Fascist, with an agenda to undermine the democratic underpinnings of our great Republic.  I don’t know who you are anymore.  Sadly, I can no longer call you my friend.

Look at yourself, you snub your nose at Jon Huntsman, the one candidate who embodies true conservative ideals.  Your ranting scares away reality-based Republicans like Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and Mitch Daniels.  You’re alienating the people who used to be your biggest fans.  I want to help you, but, you won’t listen to reason anymore.

It is a strange time for the Republican party.  Since the 60s, it has been a tenuous coalition of disparate ideas – social conservatism, Austrian school economics, war hawkism, crony capitalism, strict constitutionalism, and so on.  Until the 80s, these groups unified and rallied around a central idea – the Democrats were rudderless, spending federal dollars like a drunken sailor, and compounding our nation’s problems, not solving them.

Times were good until the 90s.  Then, Democrats got the message about fiscal responsibility.  Once this unifying theme was taken away, it exposed just how tenuous this coalition called the Republican party is.  Since that time, the party has moved to the extremes in each of these ideas.  If you don’t believe that the US is a Christian nation, that taxes are evil, that the Federal government (save the DoD) should be abolished, and that corporations are not only people, but divine, you are a Socialist.  If you would even consider diplomatic solutions with a Middle East country, you aren’t proud to be an American.  Today, even Reagan would be dismissed as a RINO.

I think it’s time to break up the tenuous coalition.  We need someone who can emerge with great ideas to move this party forward, someone who can marginalize the extreme views.  I thought Jon Huntsman could be that person.  But, now I am left waiting until at least 2016, which leaves me feeling abandoned and betrayed – feeling like I have truly lost a good friend.

 

**Photo Caption: Comedian Stephen Colbert holds a rally with former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain at the College of Charleston on Jan. 20, 2012 in Charleston, S.C. (Richard Ellis/Getty Images)

The Play’s (and the guest blogger’s) The Thing…

A few months ago I began asking some of my friends what they wanted to be when they grew up. You wouldn’t believe how many people wanted to be marine biologists as kids. Or race car drivers, spies (me) and there was even one friend who wanted to take care of light houses. I’m still debating if I want him to get an invite to my island of castaways, primarily because I’m not sure any of us would want to be found if we were actually casted away.

But in asking what we wanted to be, I started to think about the careers we have chosen. We’re a varied bunch of professional sounding things like accountants and lawyers and bankers and the like, but what drew us all together was a love of the written word.

Now, don’t get me wrong, none of us really writes exactly the same, but we’re writing (and reading) on a regular basis and that’s why I wanted to bring to you, my friends, some of my other friends.

I didn’t ask them to write like me or write like anyone else, I have just asked that they think about something about which they have a passion and perhaps give us a few minutes of their time to let us in on the secret that keeps them smiling when no one else is looking.

So, without further adieu…I bring to you my first guest writer and friend…Rex. Rex, take it away…

I am hoping I can convince you of something about Shakespeare. Yes, Shakespeare. It is ALL about sex. Yes there are great characters, yes there can be beautiful language, yes there is blood, vengeance, pride, and epic falls to rival mythology or even TV dance shows but make no mistake: Shakespeare is about sex.

No, not just eyes-closed, under-the-sheets, Victorian sex. Kinky, naughty, perverse and wide-open-just-plain-do-me-now sex. It is everywhere in Shakespeare. One of my personal favorites is Titus Andronicus. Now, eventually this play gets very bloody and very (very) bad for women–think Grand Theft Auto meets Saw. But, early on there is a great scene where these two mookie guys are talking to their mom’s lover (wait, that’s not the hot part) about how to find women to hook up with. I know, right? They both are fighting over this one girl when Aaron (their Mom’s boy toy) steps and sets them straight. So there I am, eating lunch in a nice businessman’s diner and this Aaron guy starts giving advice to his FB’s sons telling them they should go after married women.

What, man! more water glideth by the mill
Than wots [knows] the miller of; and easy it is
Of a cut loaf to steal a shive [slice], we know

Allow me to translate. A dude generally has no idea what his wife is doing and if you are going to try and get some, get something that someone else has already sampled. Or to translate further: MILF’s rock. Four hundred years before the Kardashians were doing anything but sheep herding, when the Jersey Shore was just the shore, and a cougar was something that would kill you in the forest, Shakespeare was putting this stuff in his plays. And you fell asleep in English class.

Sometimes the play is openly about sex. Take Measure for Measure. A stuffy mayor named Angelo is going to have someone executed for banging and knocking up his girlfriend before they are engaged. All the protests about how the city would be emptied if you executed everybody who messed around fall on deaf ears. Angelo is completely moral and by-the-book. The poor “criminal” turns to his sister Isabella who is also very moral and asks her plead for his life to Angelo. Now it turns out Isabella is also wicked hot, like Jessica Alba having Brigitte Bardot’s (kids, go look her up) love child kind of hot. She shows up to see Angelo; prim, proper and minister’s-daughter sexy. Suddenly Angelo wants nothing but a piece of Isabella and goes completely sex-site goofy over getting her in bed. It is a god-damned Betty Boop cartoon as he practically chases her around the office and Isabella has to think of some way to get this guy laid without giving it up herself.

Sure you can sit on your train and read a Twilight book or a romance novel but every body will know what you are reading. There is a reverse-exhibitionist thrill to be sitting there with a prim little copy of Twelfth Night and having no one know that the two female leads are hot for each other but only because one is a cross-dresser. I have had people come up and literally compliment me for reading a “good book” while a character is going on at great length about exactly how big a slut his mother is (yo, Gertrude, call me, okay?). It is a weird and kind of dirty (nice dirty, of course) feeling.

Granted, it is not “I never thought I would be writing to your magazine” sex but it is everywhere. King Lear tells people not to be too harsh on sex fiends just because they are doing what people secretly want to do themselves (hello GOP congressmen and church leaders). Iago, the bad guy in Othello, brings down a half dozen good and decent men because he is sure they have all screwed around with his wife. Plump cooks chasing men around town in Comedy of Errors. Love potions and even some donkey references in Midsummer Night’s Dream. Free love in the forest in As You Like It. Brothels, harlots, whores, the men who love them and, of course, everyone’s favorite precocious teen hook-up artists: Romeo and Juliet.

Go ahead, pick up a play. Give it a shot. Read the notes defining all those old words and remember, if it seems like characters are talking about beasts with two backs, just remember Rex sent you…

 

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