Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Colorful Blog

The above color is greenish.  Women will tell you it’s teal.

Years ago, while taking a class on magazine design, I worked on a group project to redesign a nonprofit organization's magazine.  The group consisted of two females and myself.  I was a wizard at Pagemaker and design techniques, but the two women had an eye for color schemes. So we made a pretty good team.  Occasionally I would throw out ideas about what I thought would be a good color, but they always outvoted me and chose something else. 

To be honest, I didn't mind as I was more focused on getting a good grade then worrying about petty fights. So as long as they trusted me with putting the whole thing together, I sure didn't mind their saying what some sidebar box should look like. It became really clear to me during this project the difference between men and women  on topics such as color.
 For example, they came in one day and said the masthead box should be "taupe." At first, I assumed this meant it should be some strange dimension or shape that I had never heard about.  When I inquired, they both laughed a little and I swear glanced quickly at each other and said "men" under their breaths. There was a loud air conditioner going off so maybe I imagined that.  Of course, it turned out to be a name of a color that is brownish-gray according to the dictionary (from the French word of mole, so mole colored). When they showed me the color, I pretty much said that. 

"Oh, an off shade of brown."

They just smiled to themselves and we continued working.  The difference is that us guys invariably will go the easy route on things like this and say something is just a straight color (brownish) while women will give it a specific name.
It may be because of how we have different ideas about what is important.  Women have a million shades of red for the lipstick they wear, most likely with a name for each. We guys will just say it's reddish.  Now something really important, such as the lineup of the 1968 World Series champion Detroit Tigers, well, that I still remember.

Let's see, Al Kaline was in right, Norm Cash at first, Bill Freehan behind the plate...well you get it. Men have different ideas of what is important and will be exacting in those areas, women have different priorities.
So if your wife tells you to go buy yourself a white shirt for work, you'll come back with one that she claims is actually "egg shell."  What concerned you was the price and neck size.
Another possibility for this difference might be because guys like simplification. We strive to simplify things in our lives and save our sweat for the more difficult endeavors.  For example, if your girlfriend says the color of her car is beige you'll go along with that because it simplifies your existence with her.  However, if she says the engine in that car is making funny noises, you will want to know the specific tone, vibration and location of that noise so you can figure out what needs to be fixed. 

Likewise, when we get dressed for an evening out, a woman will spend  an hour trying to make sure the shade of green in her blouse will work perfectly with the shade of gray she plans for her skirt.  We guys will just pick a shirt/pants combo we think will make us look even more manly. Simple.

Just as men and women have a difference in vision (as mentioned in an earlier blog), as well as the meaning of something, picking colors will continue to be something men and women never see as just black and white.

This color is "olive drab."  For some reason, I knew that one.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The London Manifesto: a Thurber Brigade Sidestep

As rogue members of The Thurber Brigade, we declare that the recent London terrorist acted in accordance to the wishes of our group: British Are Redcoat Facists (BARF).

We have never forgiven the British for their treatment of American colonists. Whether it was setting NYC on fire or hanging our loyal comrades who fought in the militias, we will not forget their atrocities. Regardless of the years where they "claimed" to be our allies, nor that it happened over 200 years ago, we will never forget.

Although some other irrelevant and foolish groups claim responsibility for the attack on London, it should be abundantly clear to the world that the attacker followed our guidance and ideals.

— Over the years he has proven he wanted to rebel against the Bloody Brits by callously flaunting their laws.

— Like a huge portion of the American populace, his weapon of choice was the automobile (40,000+ American deaths by auto in 2016)

— Just as a large percentage of Americans have been incarcerated for various crimes, he too was a lifelong adherent to the criminal lifestyle.

We at BARF will continue to rebel against the evil British Empire and will combat their atrocious attempts to Anglicize the world with their hideous tea and scones at 4 p.m. (Tea Time), their wanton embrace of musical diversity, their absurd love of an anachronistic monarch, and especially their insane belief that soccer must be called football.

Our struggle will continue unabated and forever.  Long live the BARF rebellion!


We at The Thurber Brigade (the non-rogue element) wish to apologize for this sidestep. We believe this cheap attempt at satire to ridicule ISIS and other terrorist groups who like to claim all criminal acts as a result of their bizarre beliefs is, well, futile.  To think that terrorist groups are logical or intelligent or rational enough to understand how their misinterpretation of religious dogma is not a valid reason to carry out atrocities doesn't make sense. They're nuts. They don't understand their own religion, how could they possibly understand satire? We at The Thurber Brigade promise to get back on track with the next blog. Really.
Legal Disclaimer: The Thurber Brigade legal staff has advised us that we must declare that we are NOT responsible for the terrorist attack in London, nor do we support any act of violence.  However, we do claim credit for the invention of the pet brick, Jello ice cream, sunny days at the beach and are proud sponsors of the Marty Feldman Fan Club.  


Friday, March 17, 2017

A Routine Blog

In ancient times, life was simple. Wake up, go hunt for food, eat food, retire to cave to sleep, repeat next day.  Nowadays it's much more complicated. Now you have to throw in doctor's appointments, driving kids to and from soccer games, wash dozens of loads of laundry, figure out whether that food you bought a week ago is still safe to eat, mow yard.  Well, you get the idea.

Years ago I read this news article about how we're civilizing ourselves to death and we need to simplify our lives to make it better (and to survive without going crazy).
So I decided then that the way to simplify is to establish routines.   I became very good at building these routines and have quite a few that I string together to navigate this modern world.  In many ways, it's similar to those ancient humans in that I'll get up, do my routine, go to sleep and repeat the next day. 

These routines are not regimented. In their words I don't tie a chore to a specific time (usually), but more likely have a general reference to when it should be done. So instead of saying I'll do it at 10 a.m., I instead just say I'll do it in the morning. 

For example, my Sunday routine is to do most of the chores I don't want to do during the week. I can tell you with almost 90% accuracy that I did my laundry on Sunday 20 years ago. That's part of my Sunday routine and it hasn't wavered in decades. Likewise, I can assure you that 10 years ago I did my grocery shopping Sunday morning after eating breakfast.

Now some people would say this is more of a rut.  Well, perhaps to a point.  However, there are certain caveats to my routines that allow me to not view them as monotonous but as ways to live a simple, happy life.  
A big factor in my life has always been to be willing to do something on impulse.  So if my childhood friend Andrea said I should walk out on the ice to see what that thing was sticking out of it, well, I'd do it (and as you suspected fall through the ice).  Oh, yeah, it's led to some problems.

For example, when I was in the Army and punched out a window in the barracks to celebrate my birthday, yes, I paid a price.  However, I firmly believe that although mainly painful, a lot of these experiences were essential in how my life played out.  After all, one of my two theme songs for my life is Jim Croce's "Hard way every time."

So although I have specific routines that I use every day, I insist that if something comes up that would be fun, great, whatever, I'm willing to break from routine. In other words, if Pat Benatar (you read my blog about her, right?) showed up some Sunday morning and begged me to go spend the day with her, well, screw the laundry!
Okay, okay, here's an example of a daily routine.  On Sunday it's: eat breakfast and simultaneously read some newsletter/magazine; catch up on news on TV; promote books on computer; groceries; jog; outdoor chores; laundry; vacuum; write; decompress with a few beers and a video. Whew.
Another caveat is that routines may need to be adjusted.  For example, I retired as an academic advisor.  So I adjusted my routine of going to bed at 12:30 a.m. and getting up at 6:15 a.m.  Now I go to bed around 1 a.m. and get up…whenever.  Ahhhhh.

Oh yes, routines have had an effect on relationships, as you probably guessed.
One women was absolutely livid that I did my laundry every Sunday. It didn't seem to matter to her that if she wanted to do something fun (like sex) I was willing to adjust.  She just went bonkers.

Another wasn't pleased that every Saturday morning I went to the gym to play basketball with my friends (back then, not now.  My knees resisted so I've adjusted).  I had been doing this for years, but I had only been with her for months.  You can guess which one I kept.
So as you can see, routines may be difficult to navigate with friends and family, but overall they’re pretty handy for simplifying your life.
Sorry, I had to include my routine James Thurber cartoon.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Baby You Can Drive My Car, Part II

Probably about 99% of the people here in the US are good, decent people no matter their politics, religious views, etc.  However, put them behind the wheel of a car and that percentage drops rapidly.  Maybe only about 45%.  Oh sure, I admit I can get a little crazy behind the wheel too.  Not so much the raging nut who points a gun at a guy who passes him, but likely the guy who will slow down if the guy behind me turns on his high beams.  Oh, and I shout a lot at people who can't hear me. You know, the bad drivers.  Such as the guy who turns on his signal as he makes a turn instead of before.
Anyway, when I wrote my blog about women drivers back in 2014 it created a firestorm of anger from feminists (like people with road rage but without the guns—or cars).  Even though I pointed out how women always complain about men drivers, and even though I was real general and didn't say all women or many women, in fact it probably only related to about four.  These angry women went nuts.
 They harassed me on Twitter and Facebook, complained to HR at the place I used to work at and unfriended or blocked me on social media.
The truth about that blog though is that every mannerism I complained about could just as easily apply to men.  For example, I may see more "creepers" (you'll have to see the previous blog) who are male than female.  That is, all the mannerisms except one:
I honestly believe that females have no clue about how to react at a four-way stop.
When you come to a 4-way stop and you see that your opponent is a female, nine times out of ten you should drive on no matter that you got there after she did.  If you get there simultaneously, regardless that she is to the right, go ahead and drive on.  She will not go.
I have been walking past a 4-way stop and observed on numerous occasions three women pull up to the stop.  Invariably, it will be at least ten seconds before anyone dares to go.  That's an eternity to a male in that situation.

I have also been the last to get to an intersection with two other males and a female—who got there first—and all of the males drove on before she did.

In the previous blog I swore this failure to navigate a traffic situation boiled down to them not being able to make decisive decisions quickly.  That's still a possibility, but it could also be because of a few other stereotypical ideas we guys assign to females:
- Fear of breaking the rules
- Fear of offending someone
- Fear of making everyone angry
- Fear of doing the wrong thing

These aren't bad things.  It could mean that they are more agreeable, more loving, kinder, etc. and so they yield to others to display this quality.  
To males though, it means...well, I'll leave that to the millions of female bloggers to tell us what men think.  Just rest assured that The War Between Men and Women is acted out every day at those 4-way stops.   

Think I'll get a lawn chair and go sit at one to see it all play out—and to get more material for future blogs.
We at The Thurber Brigade wish to apologize for those offended by this blog.  We wish to, but we don't because, well, women just don't seem to understand 4-way stops.  James Thurber understood 4-way stops although with his bad eyesight we guess he didn't drive much.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Don't Stop Believin'

 Trump Lies: A Thurber Brigade Sidestep

As noted in several previous blogs, males compete constantly with each other.  Whether in a sports setting or an argument over sports, we guys always want to best our opponent. You can clearly see this when a young child gets in an argument and his knowledge is limited.  He will suddenly blurt out anything that pops into his mind no matter how ridiculous.

For example, he might state his father could whup King Kong or that he has exploding ping pong balls that create a big flash when they hit the ground (I admit, I uttered the latter one—hey, I was eight).

As we get older, we tend not to exaggerate or make up things in arguments because we know they'll easily be destroyed by facts from our opponent.  Donald Trump seems to still be in the adolescent state.

He lies all the time.  When something doesn't go his way, he will make up some excuse that is clearly a lie.  For example, he is still so freaked out that he lost the popular vote by the biggest margin in US history (by someone who won the electoral college) that he has blurted out that over three million illegal votes were cast.
It's a lie.  However, since he's the president the news media gives him the benefit of the doubt and although they will acknowledge there are no facts to back him up, they still give the issue extensive coverage as if it was legit. It's not. He's lying. He just blurted out some nonsense to win his argument.
We've known he's a liar for some time. In fact, there's an extensive article in a Canadian paper that lists all his lies and gives the facts to refute them.  They have over 550 listed!

Some of the whoppers you've undoubtedly heard include:
- the voter fraud mentioned above
- his tax cuts would be HUGE for the middle class
- the US trade deficit was HUGE
- Clinton hired protestors to attend his events
- he was HUGELY popular with African Americans
- the murder rate in the US is HUGER than before

Well, the list is exhaustively HUGE.

The bottom line is that everyone needs to stop believing him.  Stop giving him credence by paying undue attention to his lies. When he tells another one, instead of asking him for something to back up his claim (he doesn't have it, he'll just put it off until later), just say something like "welp, there's #603" and move on with the conversation. It's the sarcastic way to say he's lying.  Or just tell him he's lying.

By not calling him out, it gives credence to his lie.  In effect, it validates him to his devoted followers. It becomes big news (headlines even) when instead it should be a small sidebar that states he's lied yet again.
As president we can't just ignore him.  However, we don't have to accept everything he says as gospel. We don't have to give him or his lies the incredible attention that the press keeps giving him (they made him by giving him unrelenting attention in the primaries as noted in a previous blog). Stop believing him.

However, don't stop believing.  In decency. In justice. In human rights. In the American sense of fair play. In America.  We used to be a shining beacon to other people, we need to return to that status. So keep protesting his administration. Keep standing up for American values such as freedom and equality. Keep calling him out on his lies.

The Thurber Brigade does not apologize for this sidestep.  For one thing, we've been warning about it for a few blogs.  Also, surely everyone would expect radical, progressive satirists to be chomping at the bit to hit The Orange One.  We'll get back to the important dialogue about relationships between men and women in no time.  And we'll get Mexico to pay for it.  Also, yes, the blog title is taken from an 80s Journey song of the same name.  Yes, we're still stuck in the 80s.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Fashion (There's a Brand New Dance)

Years ago, my brother and I made a trip to Europe. We were pretty poor then (not that we're rich now) so went on the cheap. That meant that we went in the off-season in November. Yes, the cold off-season. One of the big things I noted was the difference in fashion between Paris and Munich.

In Paris the women (and a few men) dressed in very elegant and skimpy clothes. I distinctly remember this very cute—but fashionable—woman who stood waiting for the bus in freezing weather. Her teeth chattering and her body trembling from the bitter cold.

In Munich the women bundled up in heavy winter coats, scarves and stocking caps and actually seemed to like being out and about in the  breezy, winter weather. Many joining the men in spontaneous snowball fights. In other words, the women in Munich dressed practically and for the weather, the ones in France dressed to be fashionable no matter the weather.

Here in the US the same distinction about fashion applies for the difference between men and women. In other words, there's a big difference.
As noted in a previous blog, women actually dress for other women.  They know that they don't have to dress up to attract a guy. They could just as easily catch our eye with a pair of tight jeans and a cutoff T-shirt as with a fancy Parisian dress. So women don't dress for men, they dress to prove to other women that they are more fashionable—and therefore superior—to other women.
Men will dress to attract a female, but only while in the hunt. I should point out that sometimes men will also dress to prove they are superior, but that's usually in a business setting and again boils down to us being super competitive about everything—as I've mentioned before.  However, the majority of the time we dress to project an image.  Usually, that image is of a macho male. That's why the grunge look caught on so easily.  We wanted to look like tough Paul Bunyan types.
For the most part we guys don't care how we look.  That's why you'll see us lounging around the house in sweats. A female might do this too, but the difference is that if a woman knows another female is about to stop by, she'll either put on fancy leisure clothes or fashionable activewear. A guy wouldn't change his clothes no matter who came over. However, he might hide some of his beer.
You'll also note a clear difference in fashion between men and women at sporting events. Typically men will dress macho-like as mentioned above, or dress in support of their team. You know, team jersey or team-logo T-shirt. If you see a male in a suit at a game it is either because he sneaked out from work or he's going to a friend's wedding as soon as the buzzer sounds.

You may spot women in the stands at a game in team-logo wear too—but only if attending with a male doing the same.  Women
not forced to attend a game by their mate but there on their own volition will either wear very stylish clothes appropriate for a sporting environment, or will wear fashionable clothes they can use to impress their female friends who they'll meet up with at a nightclub after the game. In other words, once again not trying to entice a male, trying to impress females encountered post-game.

So fashion can be complicated. Not for the male, obviously, but for the female. Fashion is situational and will always be something to further distinguish the crazy interaction between the male and female worlds.
We at The Thurber Brigade would like to apologize for this skimpy blog about a complicated issue. Perhaps we'll ad-dress (best pun we could come up with) this further at some other time. However, we strongly believed we needed to get something out there in the blogosphere as there may very well be an upcoming notorious sidestep due to The Orange Top coming to power. We also would like to apologize in advance for that one. Sorry. BTW: yes, the title is in honor of David Bowie. Beep, beep.