Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Suggestion for Toilet Seat Etquette

"Men are constantly being told to 'put the seat down'" the young man complained. "Why? Why do we man have to put it down, and women feel 'dissed' if they have to pick it up?"

"Because," I said, "if we leave it up, and they sit without realizing, they may inadvertently fall in and hurt themselves; whereas, if women leave it down and a man doesn't realize it, the worse than can happen is that he pisses on the seat and has to wipe it up.

The young man was not satisfied with my answer.

"I have a solution," I said. "Whoever finishes, man or woman, they put down BOTH toilet coverings: the seat and the top cover. Then: when using the toilet, women pick up one surface, the top cover, and do their business; on the other hand, when men use the toilet, they pick up both seat and top covering when urinating, or, if defecating, just the top cover. When both finish, they put down both covers again. In such toilet etiquette, both men and women will be courteous and considerate to each other, and both will be required to do the same work: the similar act of covering the bowl when we finish, and bending over and lifting before we start. Fair, no?"

I had made a young man happy.

Making a Decision

All life is a cost/benefit analysis: the value of an activity is the energy expended in the effort subtracted from what value we anticipate to get in return. If the cost expended in a situation is greater than the estimated revenue received, I advise you walk away from the deal. If the value received is going to be greater than the price, consider yourself in a potentially profitable situation...consummate the deal...and maintain it...until a better deal (a more profitable cost/benefit analysis) presents itself.

A Shared Sense of Humor

Don't even start a relationship with someone you have to explain a joke to.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


To advocates of legal abortion, it's justifiable homicide, isn't it; killing one human being in defense of another?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

SPECIALNESS #1...(of a series)

The impetus that drives all human activity--including thought--is the desire to be special. To be special is the need to escape, to rise far above from, the 'madding crowd; to be singularly differentiated from the rest of the great mass of common humanity. It gives rise to cults of celebrity, video postings on You Tube, athletes seeking to be isolated from the rest of the team in the TV shot of their gorilla-like chest pumping after scoring a touchdown, and naming our children after Presidents and film stars.

This desire to be uniquely 'special' in our human activities is obvious in many other everyday attempts, to have the biggest car, to win awards, to marry wealthy or beautifully; but I also believe the impetus to 'feel special' drives and underscores all religious beliefs (we are not just humans; we are special: sons and daughters of one God--as a corollary, our God...our better than your God or Prophet); democratic politics (even though humankind lives demonstrably widely disparate and unequal socio-economic lives--we say all men are created equal; one man, one vote, etc.), and sex (especially in climax, where the quest for human specialness originates: in the release of millions of initially undifferentiated sperm seeking unique success with one quintessentially special egg so that the successful participants in conception can live now forever through the progeny's genes). Now if that isn't feeling special nothing is!

More to come...intermittantly...(double pun intended).

"Inspire: literally, to take in spirit."

Thursday, May 24, 2007


I was thinking of volunteering for a good cause. "Give back something to the community", and all that: Work in an office or school, or out the field for a caring, community-based organization...for nothing.

Then I had this sudden apprehension: I would be shunted off in the corner, tolerated and placated as another aging, assumed-to-be-bored, need-to-get-out-of-the-house well-intentioned do-gooder fit for only handing out candies to kids or cleaning the toilets at the local school.

I decided to think out of the box: apply for a similar job with the same kind of organizations. But instead of volunteering: I would offer my experience and services for a fee. My potential employers would evaluate my resume, estimate how fully my abilities filled their needs, and they would or would not hire me. If they did, we would negotiate a salary commensurate with my skills. If the price was right, it would be a done deal...all the time, of course, keeping to myself that the anonymous check that they would be receiving at their organizational office every week was from me, sending back a charity donation equivalent to my salary.

Why would I go through all that trouble, engage in all that subterfuge? If I did, I'd probably get a better, more respectful job; there would be no candy hand-outs or toilet bowls jobs for me. You know the old adage: nobody respects what they can get for nothing.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Over the Toilet

The sign over the toilet read (and it obviously pleased me or I wouldn't be passing it on):


Gentlemen: Your aim will help. Stand close. It's shorter than you think.

Ladies: Remain seated for the entire performance.

Gentlemen: Please raise the toilet seat before you start.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Great Lover

I had a friend who said he was a great lover. I said to him: "You are single. You have lots of money. You live in a beautiful apartment overlooking the Hudson River. The girl comes over. You turn down the lights. You put on the music. You pour the wine. You unplug the phone. You call the concierge not to let anyone buzz through. And you make love. That's nothing.

"I'll tell you a great lover: someone who lives in a flat in Brooklyn. Married to the same woman for sixteen years. He's behind in the mortgage. The only thing in the refrigerator is Dr. Pepper. The kids are running around the house, screaming and yelling. The dog is at the foot of the bed, looking up, panting and pawing at the sheets. The phone rings. And he and his wife still climax. That's a great set of lovers.

In the overall dance of life, go home with the ones who brought you: blood relatives.

Civil war is an oxymoron.

"Without your money, what are you worth" asks Shirley Hanna-King at the bottom of her e-mail.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Women and Men

Women and men should negotiate equity; not equality. Equity is proper and necessary; equality is impossible.

Heroes and Generations

For those of you who don't read my acting blog, "Cliff Osmond on Acting", let me share this blog from that blogsite:

The acting student asked me: "Why are there so few heroic American actors/stars today; take-it-on men like John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant? The actors of today," she said, "seem by comparison to exhibit a certain 'non-masculine-ness' about them: they are less direct, less willing to take charge, less responsible. They seem more 'delicate-under-pressure.'?

My answer: art mirrors the nature--and more cogently, the philosophy of its time. And audiences, when looking in that mirror, want to see reflections of themselves.

The philosophy of the Nineteen Thirties, Forties, Fifties, emphasized a certain optimistic worldview: that life could be confronted; a humans life and present/future could be moulded--with effort, granted--to his/her desires. A confidence was in the air then, a belief in the possibility of 'free will'; that the active expenditure of heroic qualities could effect positively the human environment. As Shakespeare said: "The fault, Dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in we ourselves." And even more pointedly: "We are the architects of our own design."

Today, in our post-modern, relativistic world, a philosophy of determinism seems to hold sway. Today's predominant philosophy seems antithetical to these earlier positivist 1950's sentiments. Life now seems now to be seen mostly as something beyond each individual capacity to change. The present events of each humans life are severely restricted--pre-determined-- by one's past, one's genetics; and the future is waiting to be created by forces outside our control. The goal of most humans today is merely to survive. We today are mere leaves on a river, floating to a destination we know not where; our only hope, our only possibility, is to stay afloat in the tumult of the currents.

In comparison: the leaves floating on the rivers of mid-Twentieth Century America--while fragile also...and they were floating just as rapidly on downstream currents...were more positivist leaves; they acted as though they had sturdy arms and legs; John Wayne, Gary Cooper and Cary Grant would have churned their leaf/appendages and begun to swim to a distant shore. Survival for those actor/character/star's was an active pursuit of success and not a passive chore of survival.

John Wayne, Gary Cooper, and Cary Grant were scripted in their performances to take on hundreds of black hats at once; their characters were written to believe they could win. Even in their screen romances, girls tested them and challenged them to prove their full mettle. They were expected to swim moats, lead armies and destroy dragons.

Whether they did or not was irrelevant. What was most important was that they exhibited these heroic tendencies to accept challenges and seek victory. Because they were being paid (in admission fees) by a generation of people who believed in heroes--and the possibility of the heroism--and they wanted their convictions to be substantiated and confirmed by their onscreen actor/hero's behavior.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

An Older and Much Younger Poem

“Falling tears made smooth the ground beneath my feet; till I could not stand in alone. Desperately I strove to clutch a breast; and fell, as there was none to warm my hand.”

"Nature abhors a vaccuum; let love fill it."

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A Male Crisis in Higher Education?

I was having breakfast with a friend the other day. I mentioned that I felt there may be a male (boy's) crisis in higher education. I had recently read a statistic that said that girls were enrolled in four year colleges 53% to 47% more than boys. Which I felt was a large disparity across a whole nation. "Well," she said, "maybe the difference can be explained by boys not going to college but taking up auto-mechanics, or plumbing, or carpentry. I mean...those are good paying jobs." At first I thought: "Well, yea..." The I thought: WAIT!! What if only a few years ago I had responded to her worry about girls being underrepresented in college by stating: "Well...maybe they are in nurses training, or secretarial school...or cooking classes", she would have gone through her feminist roof.

I left our conversation with the distinct feeling there is an even more critical crisis for boys than I thought. Masked as my friend was in her argumentative cleverness, I felt at core she was expressing a smug pleasure that girls were WINNING--which of course meant that boys were losing! Men...if my friends is any indication...male involvement in male-ism to the degree of a force equivalent to female involvement in femine-ism is what will be required to get those statistics to 50%-50%...a proper parity, and not just establish a new and unfair female preference in the ongoing gender war. Which obviously continues.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Does a man have reproductive rights? Or is a man's deposited-in-a-woman sperm nothing but a personal waste product, a release of bodily fluid beyond his reach of legal rights and ownership?

In the ongoing and recently increasingly heated argument about Roe V. Wade, the term "a woman's reproductive rights" sounds ever loudly and clearly across the debating landscape. The central issue seems to be: does a woman have a constitutionally protected 'pro-choice' right to call all the shots concerning the 'right to life' of the fetus; it is strictly her decision whether or not to have an abortion un-threatened by any legal impediments?'

Where is the man in all this?

Most abortion rights arguments seem to consider a man strictly an involuntary release-er of seminal fluid, an unthinking, unfeeling--or at worst an evil-doing--violator of woman's reproductive peace; man as the dispenser of disease--the illness being unwanted pregnancy--to be coped with by the violated woman in unrestricted consultation between her and her doctor.

A few years ago I tried to sell a script about a man who wanted his unexpectedly pregnant girlfriend to have their unborn baby (read: fetus). The man argued that love-making was an implied contract; both sides in the consensual sexual act being conscious of the potential physical consequences of such an act; and therefore personally liable (albeit in different terms) for the unintended pregnancy. The script posed the central question: if a man is willing to accept ongoing, post-birth responsibility for a woman's pregnancy in the form of (the only one allotted him by nature) ongoing financial and emotional obligation during the next 18-years of the child'e life, can he legally (court mandated) require the woman to fulfill her nature-allotted responsibility: carry the child to term and give it birth?

To repeat: If the man would be willing to raise the child alone--assuming that the woman chooses to leave the man and the child after giving birth--and he chooses to take on for the next 18 years all financial, emotional and geographic (raise the child alone) responsibilities, can the woman be legally required to give birth--to THEIR child?

(Whether or not most men would honor that commitment is not a question of legal right; but legal enforcement. Just because the law refuses or is unwilling to expend the resources to enforce a proper law--in this case, enforced child support--does that make breaking that law permissible; and more importantly, assumed all men's actions negatively inevitable?)

Contemporary men are being asked to be responsible for their part in the sexual act (enforced legal child support) yet when a man chooses to act even more responsibly (assume the raising of the child for 18 years when the mother does not want to assume the same responsibility), he is told by an abortion-seeking woman (and argued by the most extreme 'reproductive rights' advocates), that he has no legal claim to the child (or even the fetus). Birth happens exclusively in a woman's body; as such, it is an inviolable territorial imperative: it is her wishes alone that dictate whether the fetus/child should be born; notwithstanding any wishes on the part of the man to honor the implied contract of a consensual sexual act with forthcoming parental acceptance of responsibility. A man's 'choice' has no standing in the 'pro choice' legal arena.

There is something unfair here; it would appear to me woman's advocates are turning a prior vulnerability of nature (possible pregnancy) into an exercise of present day raw power. Their argument seems to be: ' Men have abdicated all rights to childbirth decsions.' 'Men have no a right to a child without my permission!' 'No one (fetus) can pass through my (uterine) territory without getting my consent.'

Women should have the right to terminate the result of an implied contract when the other side (a man) refuses to honor (with equal cost) the consequences (pregnancy) of that implied contract. However: when the male side of the contract equation steps forward to accept responsibility for his actions, I would argue the other side (a woman) must be required to have the contract honored; they should be court-compelled to give birth.

The modern call for reproductive rights' seems at times to be nothing but long-term revengeful 'tit-for-tat' against formerly powerful and perhaps even sometimes abusive men? As an old Sudanese adage would have it: "When two bulls fight, it is the ground (in this case, the fetus/child) beneath their feet that suffers." A newly enacted wrong to address an old de-facto wrong does not make a new right.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Thoughts on USA Immigration Situation

E=mc2. Einstein's genius: simplify, simplify, simplify. How do we simplify thinking about the immigration mess?

(1) To begin with, the issue is not immigration, per se. The establish pattern for hundreds of years in America is: we are a nation of immigrants. And America has well managed its immigration ebb and flow for years, turning on an off the spigot in relatively successful manner.

(2) The issue being debated today is not whether to have more new immigrants enter this country but how to regulate the sudden increased flow of immigrants; and how to deal with illegal immigration; immigration outside the US established quotas.

(3) The philosophical question underpinning those considerations is the the concept of the Nation-State: Does a country have to right to restrict inflow of immigrants into its borders in the first place? (Or, part and parcel with this: do we have a moral obligation to share our good fortune as Americans with those less fortunate and allow open borders? Russia used to restrict outflow, remember?!)

(4) If a nation has the right (and most Americans would argue that it does) to circumscribe immigration, what is the proper (most beneficial) amount of legal and illegal immigration flow that would accrue maximum benefit to the US? And What form should that flow take: (a) turn our gaze from the legality/illegality of the flow, and let pure economics, pure supply and demand, dictate what happens. (b) Change the law; create a guest worker program (immigrants guest-work for the negotiated period, then must go home). (c) Parallel with this, declare any immigrant who comes here outside the established quotas lawbreakers and attempt to remedy the unwanted flow, by closing the borders, and catching and sending illegal immigrants home.

(5) Finally, and perhaps the most telling: Does the US have the political will and economic might (enforcing the law takes $$$) and power(!) to do that?

If one answers these questions, whether 'yea' or 'nay', one can begin to have a logical discourse with oneself one's RE illegal immigration, form more cogent political opinions, establish a more rational basis for voting, mitigating against the 'sound bite' logic of the TV talking heads who live on controversy (unanswered questions) and not on helping people find consensus (answers) to this most pressing of national questions.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Sigh Years of Marriage

A middle-aged woman was asked how long she was married. She said: "Sigh years." The questioner thought he had heard incorrectly. "Sigh years?" he asked. "Yes," she said. "Sigh years," she reiterated "I'm sorry," the questioner repeated, still confused; "What are sigh years?" She said: "That's when, when someone asks you how long you've been married, before you say a specific number, you have to take a deep intake of breath."

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

There is no sadder sound than the echoing of "What might have been!"

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A Good Editor

A good editor is someone who smooths out wrinkles in your brain.
A good editor is someone who turns the twisted gravel pathway of your thinking into a more direct paved road.
A good editor is someone who demonstrates how your mind could work if only it weren't locked in your brain.