Sure we saw your boobs and for this I am grateful….though do we really have to sing about it?

Academy Awards tourism destinationsFirst, let me get something straight. I do not care for the Academy Awards or, for that matter, the entire Hollywood movie industry in general. Probably the best I can say about movie entertainment is that it is damn good for the economy while keeping a lot of people employed…and living in LA, well, that is nice.

I do go to the movies every now and then, though I am fairly certain my life would not be any different qualitatively if the industry disappeared tomorrow.  I have nothing particularly against Hollywood yet nothing for it either; as they say, I have no dog in this fight.  So much so I did not even know the academy award show was taking place this past Sunday. It is only because I went to the gym Sunday evening and found myself on my familiar elliptical and, son of a vondruke, there they were on the 8 inch pain-in-the-ass in-your-face screen in front of me. Noticing that Seth Macfarlane was hosting, I could not help but unplug my Ipod and listen seth-macfarlaneto the opening monologue.

I watched as Macfarlane broke out into a song entitled, “We Saw Your Boobs.”  For those living under a cultural rock, which is my preferred locale much of the time, he sang a song about actresses who have bared their breasts in movies -in a very 40’s esque bow tie and top hat kind of way. It was very funny and, of course as one would expect with Macfarlane hosting, very edgy. Mixing classy standards with contemporary raunch. Typical Seth.

I watched this bit, then a few jokes about Daniel Day Lewis’ method Charlize-Theron-Shameacting, George Clooney’s young girlfriends, then off I went. I had some weights that really needed to be lifted and some love handles that really needed some sculpting. The important stuff.

That was my entire affiliation with the Academy Awards in 2013. I do not even know who won what. Now….

Something has been on my mind ever since viewing these few minutes. I read this particular facebook status update yesterday and was reminded of my angst:

“Seth MacFarlane was funny. Admit it ya self righteous phonies.”

Of course her “friends” then chimed in with full agreement bemoaning the conservative and serious folk who found such humor either unfunny or inappropriate. I have had a couple of similar such conversations with some who, again, either believe you find the material funny, or else you’re a big fat stuffed shirt who takes life too seriously; a self-righteous phony. Yet, I myself, I am in tension over this. Even though it was funny as hell, was it appropriate for this particular context?

Could it be, that it I, Jimmy, am a big fat self righteous phony? (And why I am I ok with the self-righteous phony part, yet not the big and fat part?)

I love Seth Macfarlane. I love raunchy adult humor. I think Family Guy does not go far enough. For me it is never “too soon” for a good joke.  YET, as we discuss in all my courses, it is all about the context. One could argue the context of the academy awards is fine place for such humor, however, one could equally argue, although funny, it is not the right context nor does it uphold the purpose and objectives of the event or the art it represents.

Have we as an American society conceded that it is always humor “game on,” of all varieties, all the time, in any place, in any context?  Can we now yell “shit” in church or “fuck” in the Vatican?  Is their no longer protocol for the place? The context?

I am not suggesting the Academy Awards is a bastion of high-brow dignity and an institution that is above making fun of itself or enjoying good humor because I really do not know what it is supposed to be.  I am an outsider.

It just seems to me like it is a classy affair and, insofar as cultural powerbroking goes, a celebration of an important industry.  If Hollywood wants to celebrate itself by singing a song about certain actresses who have shown their boobs on camera, so be it–at least they know how they want to celebrate and self-identify their awards show; even if it’s with a bit less class and dignity than some have come to expect.

Of course the awards have always been only deceptively dignified. When the infamous “streaker” ran across Academy_Awards_1974_Streaker_and_David_Niven-500x370stage naked in 1974, it was the very classy David Niven who, in very gentlemanly fashion, commented on the streaker’s “shortcomings.”  It was the classy and the dignified poking fun at the, probably planned, profane.

It seems now the classy has morphed into the profane and must profanely poke fun at itself. The host is now the streaker and we are all a bit less discerning in the contexts we find ourselves in. It’s “humor without boundaries” game on, always, all the time.

I guess I might just be a big fat self-righteous phony cause I kinda liked it when context meant something, when you couldn’t yell shit in church and had to relegate bad language to classrooms, bars and blogs–when a lighthearted song about actresses showing some titty on screen was either locker room talk, fair for an adult animated sitcom, or a purely comedic context.

But I can be weird that way….after all, I am Jimmy 5-0.




Jimmy 5-0, with Chan Lee as Chin Ho

I am not very good at math though our country is 237 years old, and of those 237 years I have lived nearly 50 of them. So, I have lived roughly 20% of our country’s entire history.

Wow. I am so old I am historic.1776_logo

Yet, everyone reading this blog at this moment is now older from the moment you began reading it. Growing older is a natural part of the human condition whether we like it or not. And, as they say, the alternative really sucks.

OLDFARTI recall growing up and my dad constantly making fun of old people and when cut-off by an elderly driver he would scream for the “old fart” to get off the road.  Come to think of it, it was profound “age-ism.” Now my father, nearly 80, only needs to look in the mirror to find an old fart…anyone with a shred of wisdom would indeed be wise to refrain from making fun of the elderly as that is our likely fate; at least we can hope that is our fate.

Making fun of the elderly is kind of like making fun of breathing as we are all engaged in growing older all the time. Growing old is needed to survive.  A sign of good health is growing old…some never get that far.

But back to me.

growing-old-mandatory-growing-up-optional-quoteThe weird thing is it seems like I was always the young one. I was the junior on the varsity team. I was the 25 year-old young dad. I was the youngest on the parks and rec softball team.  I taught my first college course at age 27…I was the young prof. In the “30 and over” basketball league I was just 30 -actually I cheated, I was 29 and a half. I was the young upstart at the meeting that did not speak up as I did not want to be perceived as the young “whipper snapper.”

Now I am the usually the old guy in the room and I must have missed that time when I was right there with everyone else age-wise. I was either the young one as now I am the old one. I guess I should have been paying more attention.

So young kids, I realize our culture is full of awful rhetoric about growing old, though listen up to Grampa Jimmy here on why getting old is really kind of cool. Actually there are 6 of them.

There is no substitute for experience. The more shit you have done, the wiser you are. Period. At 50, I have done a lot of shit and when the shit hits the fan, as it does so often in life, most of us treat those times with disdain. Yet, in reality, those times of hardship and difficulty are fortifying your worth and potential as a human being. And when it happens again to you or someone else, guess who is all the wiser?

You know who you are. What an unbelievable feeling to be comfortable in your skin, which stands to reason because loose and wrinkly is far more comfortable than tight and restrictive.  The funny thing is I never realized how uncomfortable I actually was in my own skin…until I got really comfortable in it. Now it’s like wearing loose cotton sweats with no undies each and every day.

You stop sweating the small stuff as you see the larger context of life.  I will never forget when I was a young man, say 18 or so, there was a group of us who would play a yearly “turkey bowl” football game. We divided the teams up by “old” (usually over 25) and the young. Our young team was full of star athletes…yet year after year we lost to the “old” team. I could never figure it out until I got “old” and played on that team. Those young uns could run faster and catch better, yet they were dumb as hell; overconfident, understragetized, yet remarkably athletic little shits. I finally understood that with age comes a strategy; and the man with many weaknesses who knows them will always beat the man with fewer weaknesses who is unaware.

Confidence. Oh baby. When you accept who you are you now have the opportunity to be confident…frailties, weaknesses and all. Why? Because it’s just who you are and you can be confident in it. Don’t mistake confidence for prideful…these could not be further apart. Pride is overestimation of self; confidence is an accurate estimation or even underestimation of self and being fine with it.

If you play your cards right, you should have a few bucks in the bank…which is nice. I had so many people in my 20’s telling me all this crap about if you save, like $5 a week every week by the time you are 50 you will be like a millionaire of something. Did I listen? Of course not! I just told the (usually) old fart to shut up…I probably will never even make it to 50. Fortunately I was not completely ignorant and now can enjoy a vacation or two, which is nice.

You finally begin to lose that nasty youthful illusion of permanence. Nothing like knowing for sure you’re gonna be dead, like, in not a very long time. Losing that illusion is so healthy because you realize how valuable and lovely life is…it’s like you never appreciate your feet until you injure them or your tongue until you bite it. Lose a bit of life in the rearview mirror and you realize just how awesome it is as it gives you a new perspective while looking out the front windshield.

So kids, fire off all the old man jokes and taunts you wish… because you can all only hope to be where I am one day. Bitches.



Roller Coasters Suck. YOLO.

You Only Live Once. YOLO.

I am not a thrill seeker. I do not care for roller coasters, hang gliders, fast things or parachutes. I para sailed over Honolulu at the end of a 500 foot rope this past summer. Not for me. No fun. Will never do it again. If I want thrills, Six Flags Magic Mountain is 5 minutes from my house.

I am, however, an experience seeker. I love new, odd, different experiences that do not make you scream in adrenaline-like fashion, rather experiences that make you inwardly scream and live in the moment as you feel fully alive.  Experiences that change you. I like those.

You Only Live Once. YOLO.

Those moments when you utter to yourself, “This is so amazingly cool. How did I even get here?”

So I bring you my 7 Wonders of Life Changing Experiences…and I solicit more of your wonders to put on my checklist.

Any strange city with no plans, preparation or pals.  It is amazing how the universe frequently rewards people who place trust in it. Most of us really do not live because we have never really tried to live. We set up safe boundaries and work comfortably within that box. This type of safe lifestyle is great if you do NOT want mind blowing experiences. I do.  I would not recommend this in a foreign city for a novice thrill seeker (though my son Jordan would strongly disagree) rather in the friendly and known confines of America, go for it. You’ll be fine. Turn off your fear inducing media and live. YOLO.

Touch Therapy, ie, Cuddle Party. Stop thinking what you are thinking, dewty boys and girls.  CP’s are not that AT ALL.  The fact of the matter is these sessions are therapeutic lessons in both learning to assertively set up boundaries for yourself as well as learning to ask for what you want in life –using touch only as the tool to learn these things. The group ranges in size from as small as 10 to as many as 50 or so. Clear guidelines are set and well, you just have to be there -definitely an experiential mind blower.  I actually do NOT like them, as they are very uncomfortable, though this experience was needed for the development of my damaged psyche, probably stemming from a non-tactile mother. And uncomfortable can be good. Apprehensive to touch? Have trouble setting up boundaries in your life? Perfect. YOLO.

Pere Lachaise Cemetary, Paris, France.  This haunting humongous cemetery is one of the trippiest places you will ever go, hands down, and the home of Jimmy Morrison’s grave as well as many European dignitaries, along with Oscar Wilde, Alice B. Toklas and about 3 million others. My suggestion: Cue up The Doors’ song “The End” to loop, plug the ipod in your ears and begin walking through the eery old cemetery trying to find Jimmy’s grave. FREAKING AMAZING. It is as if the dead guide you…weird…and awesome. YOLO.

I would be remiss if I did not include the Grand Canyon South Rim. Ok…cliché sorry. Though take the Bright Angel trail down about 7 miles and then turn around and come back up. In contemporary society we forget what REAL silence sounds like. Amazing. Properly prepare yourself, gear up and go. Alone. Such a retreat. My experience with the Grand Canyon is inexplicable. So humbling and revealing as if this Canyon was placed on earth just to put me in my place. Nice. YOLO.

Venice Beach Drum Circle.  Freaky deeky. Every Sunday afternoon from about 3pm to sunset the drum circle rages, year round. Professional musicians meet the homeless meet curious tourists meet Jimmy (and my Communication 174 classes).  Dance, sing, chant, crawl, worship, it’s all good. I would recommend going for at least an hour, stay as the sun begins to set, leave before it gets dark, and then stop at the Venice Beach Bistro to listen to The Doors cover band, “Peace Frog” play.  If you need a tour guide, you know how to reach me. YOLO.

Just run. Pick a city and run. I have run the Snake River Canyon in Idaho (come on Evel Knievel fans, you know where I’m talking about), through the streets of Boston, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, London, Sao Paulo, and many more. What an experiential way to see a city…during a runner’s high. A freaking experiential delight. There is perhaps no greater way to see a city other than to run through it. Even if you do not run, just walk….fast. YOLO.

Walking the streets of San Francisco, specifically Colombus to Van Ness to California to Embarcadero back to Columbus. Ipod is a must.  A slight buzz is optional, though never on your first walk.  Don’t run, walk, as you get so much more of the culture. This is THE greatest walking city on the planet -so much culture, so much vibe, yet, unfortunately so much SF hippie elite shitty attitude. My advice? Touristy places are the best and you can meet cool people from around the world. Fisherman’s Wharf rocks. No locals there. YOLO.

 Sure you can opt for a roller coaster though emotional, mental, mind stretching experiences will stay with you for the rest of your life. Get out of your comfort zones, however big or small they may be, and live a little. You Only Live Once. YOLO. And I would love to hear how you experientially YOLO…cause I’m probably down.

Parenting in Thirds. Really? Dumbass….

Truth be told I have written many books, yet, sadly, never to completion. The problem with most of my book ideas is that by the time I get to, say, writing chapter 5, I already disagree with myself over the content in the first couple of chapters.

The same holds true for a book I have been milling in my brain for years as I completely disagree with the concept and general thesis -having never even written a word. The book carried the working title, “Parenting in Thirds.” The idea behind this brilliant parenting “how to” book was to offer insight on how we must parent our children differently at each distinct stage of development; more specifically, the first 6 years, the second 6 years and finally, the third 6 years.  With each level comes a parenting style that demands a different approach as children mature to ultimate independence.

Then, voila! They are 18 and the job is over.

Damn am I stupid. No, REALLY stupid.

The current working title is “Parenting: It Does Not Even Get Interesting nor Difficult Until Age 18.”

As a parent of 4 children, the youngest nearly 18, I must say that I am personally now afforded a certain amount of independence and free time, which is really nice in terms of pursuing certain things…like writing a blog. Though the problem with parenting children who are 18+ is that although the quantity of time spent decreases significantly, the “quality” of the problems, check that, the “issues” that arise increase exponentially.

I can handle the daughter who was made fun of in third grade or the son who got in trouble for running on the school playground (I can’t make that up people, it really happened); what is far more difficult is dealing with adult problems…and for the sake of respecting my wonderful adult children’s privacy, I will let you use your imagination on what those might be.

Though this I can tell you, these grown-up-size problems suck. Shit.

I believe the problem with the way I used to think was that I was using a lost, outdated and prejudiced paradigm –my own personal experience taken from my own personal generation.

Coming from blue collar parents who were too young to appreciate Al Jolson yet were too old to dig Elvis Presley at the time, I was closer to being pushed to work in a coal mine at age 18 than pushed to attend the lofty California Community College system.

In other words, by age 18, they were pretty much done. I am not sure what now has changed in society because it seems the parenting oven is just starting to warm up at age 18; everything leading up to this point was preheating. Do our children suffer from a prolonged adolescence? Is it the economy? Were we just a shitty generation of parents?

I will never forget the day of my high school graduation back in 1981. I was standing out in front of our house when the neighbor across the street, Mrs. Pafford, came over to congratulate me on graduation. She then said, “Well, welcome to the work force and join the rest of us.”


Mrs. Pafford worked for the postal service. She was miserable. I wanted something more.

And maybe that’s it. Our kids need something more-something other than just joining the daily grind and they need our help. It is a generation that needs different skills and assistance as we today have climbed the Maslow hierarchy to fulfill a different set of human needs.

And I guess that’s a good thing. Perhaps well worth the sacrifice to parent in fourths, or fifths. Sixths? God forbid.





Understanding the Transgendered

I have not met anyone in my life quite like Georgia McGowen. Born a biological male -George- though inwardly always believed herself to be a female, she certainly defies convention and traditional ideas of sex and gender.DM&D Author Pic2

I was introduced to Georgia through a mutual friend, Christine, who knew I was looking for an LGBTQ person to speak with my “Communication in a Diverse World” class a couple of years ago.  At first sight you do not know quite what to make of Georgia as she has constantly struggled, particularly early on in her life, with her identity between George and Georgia. What thoroughly impressed me about her, though, was the absolute comfort she felt in her own gender-bending skin. I have rarely met an individual with such a profound level of self-awareness, which probably comes from a lifetime of asking herself WHO she really is…I would assume she just knows her subject matter very well.

Georgia is disarmingly honest and genuine, while fully realizing she violates mainstream social norms. She has exhaustively researched how and why she is who she is. She speaks as if there is no new stone that can be thrown at her, no new insult that can be hurled and no new derogatory name she could be called -as she has heard, and felt, them all; particularly hailing from the mid-west, Texas, Oklahoma Dearmomanddadand Utah.

And for those in and around the Crafton Hills Community, Georgia will be speaking on her life at the Crafton Campus, in LRC 231 at noon on Wednesday, February 20. She will specifically be speaking about her new book, “Dear Mom and Dad…you don’t know me but...”

I so respect those whose path and lot in life is in many ways an uphill battle as it goes against mainstream norms. Let’s face it, being a straight white male in America means you have an entire culture catering to you on hand and foot. Our culture is fitted like designer jeans for WASPS such as myself. I truly respect those who have traded in their designer jeans for a designer skirt because that is truly who they are.

Speech Class: It’s more than just Pole Dance lessons

I am not old, rather very experienced. And just when you think you heard it all…

Today I did something I have not done in over 20 years of teaching.  As a professor of Communication Studies with hundreds of students every year, I am certain you can only imagine how many speeches, arguments, and debates I have heard during this tenure.  If my terrible math mind figures correctly—and it probably does not—it must be well over 45,000 speeches and counting—covering the wildest sphere of topics imaginable…you name it, I probably have heard a speech, or 20, about it.

Today the unthinkable happened.

I discuss in all my classes the practice of ethical speechmaking, that nearly any topic is appropriate if delivered with an ethical objective and in an appropriate manner. Even a speech on how to build a bomb can be ethical if presented as necessary in the event of being taken over by a foreign or 2008_05_bombdomestic threat (ok…it’s a stretch though you get the idea). I have heard speeches on issues of Sexy pole dancerrace, war, sexuality, politics…even pole dancing and S&M. Granted, some have walked a fine line, yet have never been a problem. Pole dancing is GREAT exercise you know.

Then today happened.

The speech was “How to Discipline One’s Children.” It began on the edge, discussing the necessity to both “smack” and “beat” your child in the age of “hippie parents,” which was fine; as a self-confessed hippie parent (who did happen to spank his children, thank you very much) I can take it. However, when the speech entered its third and final point on techniques to control your child, including a slap across the face, a surprise punch, a yard stick, a 2×4 “heavy duty” pvc pipe, kicks and “skull thumps,” I felt my stomach begin to turn and my mind overcome with a surge of impassioned anger over what I was hearing. I could take no more. I simply clapped and said, “Stop!”

I was angry. Pissed.

We then, as a class, discussed what was just said and the implications therein. It was a tense, though I believe fruitful discussion. The tension produced a wonderful teachable moment. After all, we all learn only while in tension.anger-quotes

It was a first.

Now you may think this blog is headed in the direction of discussing the appropriateness of topics, perhaps the subject of child abuse, the effective use of humor (apparently it was supposed to be funny) or perhaps even an old man rant about what is wrong with our youth today; none of the above.

What intrigued me most about the entire episode was the surge of impassioned anger that came over me. Where the hell did that come from? Why? Perhaps one can understand the objection over the student’s speech though why such a deep and “angsty” passionate response? I could have just waited for the speech to end and then make gentle though pointed observations and analysis. After all, no one was actually being beaten.

Was it because I absolutely love children? Was I beaten as a child and just forgot about it and some kind of Freudian trigger was pulled? Was it because I had just read that in 2008 alone the CDC reported that over 1700 children died from abuse or neglect in this country? Was it just TOFTS? FI?

I am not sure where the surge of angry passion came from though, bottom line, it came and it surged as if from out of nowhere, like a bat out of hell; I can certainly theorize, but I may likely never know for certain. And what is important is that I keep asking the question and examining my own emotional life. Why?

Whenever we have a strong, emotional and visceral response to something that happens in our life it is not just about what happened. There are some repressed pressurized issues deep within us that seek welcome release when provided opportunity.  When the right trigger is pulled, an emotional portal is opened up and the hidden becomes manifested in what can take many forms.

It can be realized when the reaction is disproportionate to the action. It’s called overreaction.

Perhaps not unlike some other various times in my life—when I wept uncontrollably like a baby for hours upon dropping my then 10 year-old son at the airport after a road trip together or when I told off the boss’s mom after she simply questioned me about a transaction.

What happened in class was not about a young student making a poor decision with a woefully misguided attempt at humor (which I have been known to do a time or two) it was about the experienced professor and the revelation of some deep shit he needs to work through as well. And the beauty is that we can all learn from each other.

Yet, I must say, I would be happy to wait another 20 years for it to happen again.

(Epilogue: This was written a week ago though I waited until today to publish it as I wanted to discuss the incident with the student. He felt unfairly victimized and targeted by my anger. I apologized to him for my reaction (that he described as “primal”) I further explained it and asked forgiveness; as he apologized for his insensitivity in this sensitive matter. It was an awesome 5 minute private discussion as we discussed our feelings. He’s a good kid, a REALLY good SMART kid. Tension is awesome.)

The Prison Cell….Phone

I used to hate the cell phones in my classroom, to the point that one day I was so frustrated with one student who compulsively could not control himself I had to politely tell him to, and I quote, “Put your FUCKING cell away!!!” Wait, it was worse than that, “!!!!!”

The class sat scared and silent. I scared me; though did not remain silent.

In the UK, it is called a mobile, in Latin America “cellular,” in Japan “keitai” (portable), in China “shou-ji” (hand machine), in Bangladesh “muthophone” (phone in the palm of SONY DSCyour hand), in Sweden “nalle” (teddy bear), in Israel “Pelephone” (wonder phone) and in Germany a “handy.”

I just call it the “self-phone.”  What was originally a device designed to connect us instantaneously and globally has, in many ways, alienated us personally as it turns us inward.

Is the self-phone creating one of the most anti-social generations in history?

What began as an Alexander Graham Bell invention to instill convenience into the communication of our daily lives, has, essentially, BECOME our daily lives. It is now like an additional human appendage that we cannot leave home without. Like so many other areas in our lives, it is just another example of the proverbial tail wagging the dog.tail wags dog

Sort of reminds me of those that hastily pursue money for a living; after a while money is no longer money –you know, the green stuff you need to buy things to live- life becomes a game of acquisition. If life is the dog and money is the tail we wag, for many money has become the dog as it wags its tail and we flail uncontrollably and in deference to it.

mechanical_clock_3d_11Philosopher Lewis Mumford made an analytical observation of another technology, the clock.  Yes, that ticking thing on the wall. What was originally invented in order to better serve humanity, now has humanity serving it. The clock made us into time keepers and then time savers and, now, time servers. The tails keeps on a waggin that dog of ours.

Take sports. What was introduced to better accommodate the game, television, has only evolved in better accommodating itself.  Professional basketball now has television timeouts and interviews with coaches DURING THE GAME. It is hardly now a game; it is a talk show with big athletic people moving around between commercials.

The game of football was invented so people could either participate in an athletic event or observe. When the first professional football game was televised October 22, 1939 it was to benefit the sport Walz_Skip_250-175and get it publicized, yet it was still all about the game.  According to the Pro Football hall of Fame there were none of the visual aids -monitors, screens or spotters – used today, and there were just two iconoscope cameras. One was located in the box seats on the 40-yard line and the other was in the stadium’s mezzanine section.  The game was unimpeded as the camera captured the event.

Now the tail wags the dog. Having recently attended a professional football game I felt like I was at a soundstage in the backlot of Universal Studios as it was all about the TV viewers. I cannot tell you how many minutes the players had to just stand on the field and wait until the commercials were over.  I was now watching not a sport, but a television show. The head referee is now primarily the director. I could have sworn I heard him yell, “CUT!” at one point.

To put it bluntly, in many ways, technological advances cause us to turn things ass backwards.  The tail wags the dog and the medium has become the message.


Back to the self-phone.  It is as if we now disregard those who are in our immediate proximity and prefer to dialogue with those outside of our immediate proximity, in cyber space. We are choosing the virtual conversations over the real and present ones. What then is our reality -our physical being or our virtual being?

mobile phone booth

If I hear another self-phone conversation between the person immediately next to me and their virtual preference I will have heard another one too many.  The formal term for this occurrence is a “halfalogue” and research has shown this is the most disruptive and annoying of all potential communication disturbances -as we can only hear half a conversation and, as a result, our brains go crazy trying to instinctively create the other half.

Though, hey, I guess we evolve and adapt. I suppose one day the social norm will be a crowded people on cell phonesroom with no individuals speaking to each other physically as we engage in our individual cyber universes. Our brains will adapt to hearing a continual barrage of one way conversations.

Though until that point, in public, could you all please put your FUCKING self-phones away? Thanks.