To start a conversation with a woman, men must walk a precarious
tightrope these days. As we walk along that thin thread we dare not look down.
Breathing wrong might cause a dangerous movement. Lose focus and you lose
Fall and you end up as a social media pariah, an outcast, or worst
case, plunge into a lawsuit. Navigate
that rope and you might end up with a relationship. Might.
As mentioned before, men must make First Contact.Well, that is unless the man is rich or a rock star (or both). To make First Contact men face rejection,
putdowns, derision and more. However, to maintain the species we
must forge forward. Okay, that's
overly dramatic, but to get anywhere, men must risk it.
In a previous blog, I also talked about men making catcalls.The gist of that
insightful essay (really, you should read it), was that it stems from our
primal need to mate and that through the eons, the methods to begin the process
have changed.Some men are idiots,
some suave (and everything between).Taking the first step, making First Contact, is the same.
Oh, I strongly support women coming out and reporting about sexual
assaults.Women need to keep doing
this as well as not letting someone get away with the action when it
WARNING: Blogger about to rant in an unpleasant and less than
Men who greet women at the door naked, expose themselves, send
dick pix, and other disgusting modes of abuse are slimy lowlife,
scumbags who should be strung up by their junk…
Oops, sorry got carried away.Anyway, there is no place for sexual assault in our society.However, the pendulum shouldn’t swing
too far the other way either.
For example, I’ve already heard several news stories about
waitresses, service industry women and others stating they were sexually
harassed.Yet, when they give more
details it sounds like flirting.This harkens back to a number of years ago when extreme feminists declared
that anytime a man made a pass at a woman it was an unwarranted sexual
There has to be a balance.Women need to understand the difficulty of the process.
My father met my mother eons ago at a lunch counter in a drug
store.He flirted with her and
eventually got the courage up to ask her out.This was—and is—a common occurrence.
Some enchanted evening, you may see a stranger across a crowded
room.Then fly to her arms and
make her your own—stop you sexual predator!For you youngsters, those lines are from “South Pacific” and
demonstrate why we need to have a balance.If just meeting and talking to a stranger is harassment, then do we return to the old days of arranged marriages?
Centuries from now, as we’re exploring the stars and distant
galaxies, maybe women will make First Contact.Overcome their fears and reach out to that alien who caught
their eye.Ask him out to a space
bar for a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster (cheap “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”
Until then, women need to understand the difficulties of First
Contact.They need to realize that
we guys will likely continue to make that First Contact everywhere we go (we’re
always on the prowl).From the gym
and grocery stores to the bars and nightclubs, we men will seek out women. Women shouldn’t allow perversion or
assault, but they need to recognize our attempts—no matter how feeble or crazy
or goofy—to get to know them.
Many years ago in
Springfield, a couple of enterprising young men decided to open a bank. They were very creative and wanted a
bank that everyone would want to visit. Yes, they followed the banking laws, but cut corners.They did this to provide services
customers would shout about (and tell others).For example, they offered loans that had a much lower
interest rate than other banks.In
addition, they offered them to about everyone who applied.
One of the corners
they cut included not installing a bank vault.They kept all the money stacked up on a table. Oh, it was well behind the teller’s
counter, but also in clear site of everyone who came into the bank.
“This way people
will know their money is here,” one of the men explained.“Not stashed away in some other
business or unscrupulous enterprise.”
Their employees were
very reliable and never took any of the money. They also never talked to others about how the money sat on
the table day and night.
The bank flourished.
One day a competing banker came in
to investigate why this one had taken so much of his own business.He almost immediately noticed the large
pile of money on the table behind the tellers.A little bell went off in his head. He wandered back and forth in the lobby
inspecting the bank.He waved at
the two men who started this thriving business then hurried out.He laughed, whistled a tune and skipped
a few times as he walked back to his own bank.
Now although this
banker did not look like a nice person, he wasn’t a thief either.Oh, he had dirty stock deals and lousy
loans like most of the other bankers, but he never robbed a bank.This would be too easy though.He could get away with this and no one
would suspect him because, well, he was a banker.
Later that night he
broke into the competing bank and took all the money off the table.He giddily ran home, threw it on his
bed, and rolled around in all the loot.He really loved money.
The next day the
police came and investigated, but could not figure out who stole the
money.They chastised the two
bankers for not having a vault and walked out.The police did promise to keep working on the case, but not
much got accomplished.
The townspeople all
expressed sorrow for the two men who got robbed, but also said the men should
have invested in a vault or done something more positive to prevent the
police found out that another banker stole the money.After all, he was quite often seen with lots of money
hanging out of his pockets and spending a great deal on chocolate and
beer.Other bankers swore they’d
never do anything like steal or buy too much chocolate.They all insisted they were good
people.The thief escaped to
Tahiti.No one believed he’d ever
face justice, but they hoped he'd pay the price for this crime.
The two young
bankers commiserated with other bankers robbed of money.These others never bothered to tell
anyone or call the police until after this incident.After all, they were bankers and wanted to stay in
The outcry became
louder and louder.Soon all the
bankers agreed they should never steal money.After a year, the two young entrepreneurs wrote a book about
the affair and made more money.They opened a credit union.To the relief of everyone, they also bought a bank vault.
What do you mean you think The Thurber Brigade should have called this another sidestep?It’s about relationships between men
and women.Don’t expect us to
explain to you this allegory about the Harvey Weinstein controversy.Sheesh, next you’ll want us to explain
what the end of the TV show “Lost” meant, or to tell you how Koala bears
somehow made it to Noah’s ark.Like all GREAT literature, this is just another one you’ll have to think
about on your own—although we’d really appreciate comments (no cursing please).
Although today it seems rather odd given that I consider myself a
Progressive, as a youth one of my heroes was John Wayne. Everyone knows
his politics leaned to the right. However, looking at some of his movies
from a political aspect, he starred in numerous ones that espoused Liberal
For example, one of my favorites is “The Sons of Katie Elder.” Oh sure,
on the surface it may seem to be the story of wayward boys returning home to
pay respects to their departed mother, but if you look a little deeper, you'll
find progressive themes. Basically, these rough boys stand up against an
unjust system and fight a ruthless corporation who is backed by local law
enforcement. In other words, the little guy against a plutocracy.
I know, you missed that too. I didn't really grasp this message until I
aged a bit (hey, don’t say grew old). As a kid, I just saw it as standing up to
injustice no matter the odds.
So the seeds of my radicalization (the view of my conservative friends on anyone who doesn't hold their views) had
begun. Yes, standing up for the little guy against injustice, instead of
just concerning yourself with what benefits you, is radical here in the U.S. You
are a bleeding heart Liberal.
Well, those seeds that had been planted began to blossom while in college.
Nope, not over the Vietnam War. It began with tennis. Women's
tennis. Yes, true to The Thurber Brigade theme, it turns out women made
me that raging, radical Liberal.
In my sophomore year at Texas Tech (eventually got my degree from the
University of Texas; another story), my friends and I went out to play tennis
at the spanking new student tennis courts. However, they had been taken over by the women’s tennis team
for some match against another school.
I should point out that at this time the men’s team had some really nice
courts they used exclusively, while the women’s courts were, well, they were
crappier than something you’d find in a public park.
For some reason, the men’s team was unwilling to share their nice
courts. The women’s team, not wishing to irritate them or the athletic
department (controlled by men), decided to instead make a move on the common
students—who probably had even less power or voice with those in charge. Historical note: Title IX had only
recently kicked in (1972) and women’s sports across the US were very slowly
getting their due. Very, very slowly.
Outraged at this, I did the only thing voiceless and powerless
people have done for years: I wrote a letter to the editor of the school
newspaper. Although I’m sure it
was an explosive and moving letter, the only part I remember is that I used the
phrase “the students get screwed again.”
Probably the only reason I remember that phrase is because I heard some
“suits” repeat it as they walked out of the rowdy hearing that resulted from
That’s right, my first attempt at social justice somehow touched a
nerve across campus. Soon other
angry letters flooded the paper, and with some threatening to organize a
protest rally the administration decided the way to calm things would be to
have an open discussion between students, the women’s team and the
My friends and I joined the packed house and even got to sit at
the front table opposite the suits.
Because the student courts were paid for by a special fee assigned to
us, we believed we had the upper-hand and we attempted to stress that although
we supported the women’s team and thought they were treated unfairly, it wasn’t
right to be equally unfair to us.
We also, numerous times, asked why the men and women teams couldn’t
share the men’s team courts.
To this day I proudly declare to everyone that we had an
impact. The women’s team only
played on the student courts one more time after that, supposedly because they
didn’t have enough time to reschedule.
However, I wouldn’t be surprised if the administration had begun to feel
pressure because of Title IX and relented to have the men and women’s teams
share until something new could be built for the women.
So my radicalization had begun. I would fight for justice and the little guy
thereafter. As mentioned in a previous blog, I worked for enlisted people’s rights while in the Army, I took
part in several civil rights demonstrations and well, let’s just say I fought
for issues in which John Wayne would not show up for the rallies. You know, radical Liberal ideas like
clean air and water, fair pay, feed the poor, etc.
Now before you say it also began my opposition to women, let me
point out that half of the crowd supporting my friends and I were women. Plus,
I have—and always will—support women’s rights, from equal pay to their right to choose what happens to their bodies.
However, I’m also willing to make fun of them and say sarcastic things
about their habits. Yes, the
Brigade marches on.
The Thurber Brigade does not believe that having Progressive ideals makes a person radical. However, thanks to Fox News relentless war on Liberals many people now believe that standing for clean air and water, equal rights, fair pay, well, anything not approved by the Neocon pundits is just short of being card-carrying Communists. However, if standing up for the welfare of others throws us into that crowd, then we're proud to be radical.
In ancient times (the 80s), I used to always wear some button on
my shirt. This was partially to prove to the world how cool I was, but
also often to make a statement of some kind. My favorite button, which I
wore most often, was a small version of the #6 button worn by Patrick McGoohan
in "The Prisoner." That could, and might be, a blog all in itself.
Other buttons were one that said "question reality" one was the
symbol yin and yang, and one said "our defenses are offensive" and
had a picture of a
missile on it. This latter one implied that not only was it
offensive that we had enough nukes to blow the world up dozens of times, but
also that we used supposedly defensive weapons offensively.
I bring this up in a sidestep because Trump has succumbed to the military's
wishes and agreed to send more troops to Afghanistan. I'll get to that
war shortly, but I think it's important to bring up some topics about our
For example, we spend more on our military then the next 12 high spenders
combined. This in itself is outrageous, but that Trump, for some reason,
believes we need to spend even more is goofy. I have some doubts he
really believes the US needs to spend more, he sees his statements as just
sound bites to appease the masses.This unending pushing of money onto the military is undoubtedly
attributed to the "military-industrial" complex Ike warned us about
(but which congress/presidents love).
The "industrial" part of this evil alliance is easy to understand. They
want to make boatloads of money. The military is a little more
complicated. Part of it is money
because we see a ton of generals who retire and begin to lobby for
manufacturers. As a former
enlisted person (note that none of us are ever recruited by weapons companies)
it always chafed me that the military/generals loved spending big bucks on
fancy and expensive weapon systems, but always bought the cheapest equipment
for us grunts in the trenches. Guess the companies can't make money off of
things like boots, backpacks, tents, etc. So they'll spend billions on a
new jet, and about 69 cents for a rain poncho.
The military has an added incentive though for large spending excesses: they
have a military mindset that big militaries win wars. Oh sure, sending
a military after another big military might be good when it's against a
country. It doesn't work for
smaller insurrections and guerilla wars. The military brass doesn't accept this. A military
solution doesn't work against a belief/ideology. Ask the French about
Algeria; the British about Ireland; the Soviet Union about Afghanistan and us
about Vietnam (and now Afghanistan).
I’d add Iraq
into the latter, but that might really set folks off.Too many believe we won the war in Iraq.Sure, we ousted Saddam Hussein, but
even when we left there were still countless attacks going on including bombings by
insurgents.They had subsided a
little, but it wasn’t due to “The Surge” as the military will tell you.If you look at the record, you’ll see
that after the surge we had higher casualties and more attacks against our
forces.It was only after the
“Sunni Awakening” that things calmed down.In other words, the people who lived there finally did
to Afghanistan too.For some
reason, many Americans think we drove out the Taliban.However, when the Taliban were driven
from the country, we had at best 1,000 troops there. No, the Afghans drove out the Taliban.The Northern Alliance and other
warlords did it, admittedly with our logistical support as well as air and
It was only
after the Taliban had been cleared out of the country that we began to infuse
massive numbers of ground troops.The military kept insisting we needed more and more troops, and
different presidents listened.However, what the military didn’t stress when asking for more troops was
the actual number of enemy troops.
non-military affiliated analysts claim that there may only be a total of
15-20,000 Taliban fighters.So we
increased our troops up to 100,000 at one time (2010) to face down a mere handful of
fighters.Our troops have some
impressive weapons, body armor, night-vision goggles, etc., while the Taliban
dress in robes and fight with 60s-era AK47s.Our troops get to a battle in million dollar helicopters,
they get to the battle by riding in 10-year old Nissan pickups.
wised up a little and have begun to let the Afghans do the fighting, with our
troop level now at 8,000 (although recent reports state the military lied and
we really have 11,000), but now the military says they want more.So this never-ending war will
continue.I should point out that Iraq
War featured a similar overwhelming level of troops versus the enemy.Some estimated the insurgents in Iraq only
numbered about 30,000 while we had at one time over 150,000.But that’s a whole different can of
worms.The main point I’m getting
at is when you listen to the military, they’ll always say they want more.More troops, more equipment, more
We need to get
away from this unbridled spending on the military and nation-building
adventurism.We have military
personnel in 148 different countries.We have actually bases in 38 of those nations.How about spending equal to only the next top five other
countries and investing that savings in things like universal healthcare and
bring our troops home from half of those countries (if not more) and let those
countries spend their own money on defense instead of using our resources.
say their son or daughter is fighting for our freedom by serving in the
military.No they aren’t.They’re serving our country, but our
freedom is not threatened by most of the countries where we have our troops
stationed (or do you believe the Taliban is going to load troops onto ships and
send them over here?).So bring the
troops home so they really are defending our shores and not someone
else’s.Let’s try to make our
defenses defensive, not offensive.
"Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness."
The Thurber Brigade once again apologizes for this sidestep away from the usual "War Between Men and Women" (relationships), but as usual the author got annoyed and so, ta da, sidestep. Annoyed that some military experts say we must send even more troops into another endless war. Well, what makes an expert? The author served in the military as a grunt, has researched the military for articles and books, has read over 100 books on the military and various wars. Because he was a lowly enlisted person and not some high ranking general itching to send more troops into harm's way, he is not consulted about these things. So at least he is able to get this off his chest. The Thurber Brigade will get back to the straight and narrow next time. Maybe.
Often when TV shows have run out of new ideas, or need a
break from weekly filming or some other reason to not have an original episode,
they’ll run what is called a “Clip Show.”It’s a show that has some weak storyline but weaves in clips of past
episodes.In other words, the
writers took a break and so the producers just ran a bunch of their favorite
scenes from the past.
Lately I’ve been engrossed in a couple of other writing
escapades and so have neglected The Thurber Brigade.Usually I try to get at least one blog in each month, but
because of this activity, have nothing to show for August.So it seems like this might be a good
time to throw in The Thurber Brigade Clip Show.
For some reason, women seem to believe that men can read
their minds and will just magically know when they are interested in a
guy.Sadly, men do NOT have ESP.
Partly because of this odd belief, or more likely, because
they’re afraid to face the same possibility of rejection that men must face,
women never make First Contact.
Angry feminists have attacked this blog multiple times, but
they seem to have really been enraged when I discussed women’s driving habits.
Speaking of driving, it drives women crazy to see men go
nuts over an attractive female.However, they can be just as superficial as men, but seem to focus more
on the male’s earning potential and status rather than looks.
I wanted to drive to a Pat Benatar concert one time,
because, let’s face it, she’s hot, but I couldn’t go because I was coaching at
a soccer game.However, one of my
players skipped the game to take his girlfriend to the concert.It didn’t end well.
In the early days of the blog, I had one about throwing pick-up lines to females, but nowadays, I don’t do that as much as I used to.
Over the years my blood might begin to boil over certain
issues and so I’d feel compelled to take a sidestep from “The War Between Men
and Women” and blog about the current issue.One of the best included handy tips for tourists on how to
deal with our law enforcement officers.This one came about because of yet another case of a cop killing
an unarmed civilian.
Of course, I’d often hide my sidesteps by using a title and
beginning to introduce some hot button issue meant to inflame angry feminists,
and then jumping into something else.Such as raving about the greatness of the USA women’s soccer team.
I am a writer so I also had to take a sidestep now and then
to promote my writing.Such as the
time I talked all about SEX.
My personal favorite blogs though, concern matters of my own
heart.In other words, stories
about that special female in my life who got away.I always call these close encounters, partly because I love
sci fi and so like alluding to that movie.
So from nearly five years worth of blogs which was the
best?Well, of course, it’s whichever
is the most recent one.
The Thurber Brigade apologizes for stooping to a "clip show." They're not that great on TV, but we hope you've enjoyed this slight review of past whimsical blogs about men, women, dating, well, any and everything. We promise to get back into the swing of things next time. Maybe.
years ago I sat at the bar of a nightclub during SxSW listening to a band and
drinking a beer. Normally during the festival, like most people, I try to get
close to the band on the dance floor in front of the stage. I had forgotten
my earplugs though and so thought sitting farther away (bar was at front of building,
stage at back) might save my hearing. A young woman approached me and then took the
bar stool next to me.
"Are you somebody?" She asked. I smiled, frantically trying to think about a good pick up line (yes, she was
quite attractive), but nothing clever came to mind. "Well, my mother
She smiled back, and we exchanged a few more pleasantries, but she slowly eased
away. Obviously, I was not somebody enough. At SxSW it is very common to
run into actors, singers, directors, etc., and she really had hoped I might fit
into one of those categories. A struggling writer, fully employed,
self-sufficient and cute (hey, I had hair back then and a number of females
thought me handsome) academic advisor is not "somebody."
I've blogged beforehand about how women are just as superficial as men, but
instead of looks, they lean toward money and prestige. However, her
affliction, well, okay, her desire, had more to do with acquiring fame and stardom.
A driving force for both genders. I like to claim that this appears
in generations after us Boomers. After all, we were the generation that
celebrated the anti-heroes, fought against the establishment and the status quo.
I have a feeling though that there might be a number of us who succumb
to this desire too. Maybe.
I wrote a short story about this a number of years ago and actually convinced
someone to publish it. Titled "Thank You" it focused on a man
who watched a little too much "TMZ" and "Dish Nation" and "E! News" and saw all these glamorous
stars and people living the high life. He soon became despondent because
he was just a little old high school counselor. He decided the only way
out was, well, to end it all. Okay, it may have been more black humor
than just my usual ribald satire. Anyway, the moral was that everyone's
life is important in its own way and we shouldn't judge ours by movie stars,
singers, et al.
Unfortunately, we see this attitude all the time. The attitude that being
a star is everything, while being a good person, whether construction worker,
teacher, cop or some other useful occupation (come on, do you really believe
actors, etc. really contribute to advancing society? Pleeaasseee.) is to not
have succeeded in life. For example, a number of years ago I remember a news story where a Kardashian
and Posse were walking through an airport and a reporter asked her if she
wanted to meet some big name politician also going through. I think it
was Joe Biden. She had no idea who he was, nor wanted to meet him.
If she didn't recognize his name, he must not have been important enough (similar to some college students who recognize the Kardashians, but not Ronald Reagan).
You really see this when watching those reality TV shows and they start with
the tryouts. There will be thousands of people skipping work, doctor's
appointments or something in order to stand in line for four or more hours in
order to spend one minute on a stage to try to impress someone that they should
be a star.
My satirical book "Sex and the American Male" which mainly took aim
at America's mass consumerism addiction, also touched on this. The main
character, Zach—due to microbes in his brain that want him to go crazy—always
wants to impress his love by either having a great car or by having enough
money and prestige to buy her "STUFF." He has to be a big deal.
To a lesser degree I think you can find this in other countries, but they are
mimicking us. The US sets the trend. As I mention in SEX, "we
are the Borg." American culture and society is overwhelming. We will assimilate
you. Resistance is futile.
As a child of the Sixties I put up resistance to this compulsion as best I can,
but I have to admit, I'd sure like to get more people to read my books and this