Thursday, June 8, 2017

Vive la Difference

The Alamo Drafthouse here in Austin has had some really interesting movies promotions.  They had a "Jaws" film screening in which the patrons are on floats in a pool; they had the "all you can eat spaghetti" night while you watch "spaghetti" westerns; and recently, they had a women only night to watch "Wonder Woman."

Interestingly, this latter one has created a firestorm of protest from men who state it violates their rights.  Although it might be a little hypocritical, it is stretching it to say the screening violates anybody's rights—especially mens.  Face it, men are the most spoiled, pampered and entitled of the sexes. Well, white men.  People of color, no matter the gender, have not had it easy.

With all of the above in mind The Thurber Brigade wishes to stress that we are not a "men's rights" group/advocate.  If anything, we stick out our tongues at those guys because, well, we think it's so goofy.
The Thurber Brigade is here to point out the differences between the sexes—and hopefully do it in a funny, tongue-in-cheek manner.  
For example, when men's rights groups say men are treated unfairly at bars or banks, we at TTB are more likely to say isn't it funny how women can shop for men's underwear with impunity, while men roaming the women's undies section are likely to be arrested.
When men's rightists swear the men are treated unfairly by the courts in divorce lawsuits, we at The Thurber Brigade are likely to make fun of women who scream for equal rights, but wouldn't dream of asking that cute guy at the bar out on a date (First Contact).

We at The Thurber Brigade know for sure that men have all the advantages in life compared to women, but also know there are some major differences in the way the sexes act/behave.
For example, women are lost at 4-way stops and are likely to let every single driver go first no matter if they got there first.  Women will complain about how men are sooo superficial and that they stereotype women by the size of their breasts, yet women are just as superficial and stereotype men about the size of their wallets (or style of car among other things).  Women seem to think that men have ESP and can magically tell when they are interested in them. While men will go up to women they don't know, women will instead try to use signs/mannerisms to get a man interested. Women seem to have different vision than men, in that they'll go "ewww" when they see a man in a Speedo—unless that guy is Justin Timberlake.
So sure, there is plenty of hypocrisy on both sides of the gender wall, but it has more to do with social issues, like men's and women's fashion, rather than economic or legal rights.  The Thurber Brigade will continue to stay away from mundane, silly ideas like "Men's rights," but will continue to make fun of the weirdness of both genders as they interact with each other. 

 Once again, angry feminists somehow acquired an early copy of this blog and have complained that The Thurber Brigade was more interested in presenting pictures of a scantily clad female superhero rather than make a definitive statement.  The Brigade states clearly that we really wanted to make a statement that we do not advocate for men's rights—AND wanted to show more pictures of Gal Godot as Wonder Woman.  Sorry.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Incident

A Thurber Brigade Trump Sidestep

In a shocking news release today, the White House admitted that the recent New York Times article that declared President Trump killed Mike Pence is correct.  

The article, published last week, stated that in a fit of rage Trump had shot Pence after the VP laughed when Trump declared he had the most successful presidency in US history. The news release did not clarify why the White House waited until after the news had broken or the other succeeding events that had proven the incident occurred.

Immediately after the NYT article had been released, Trump denied that the incident happened, and Sean Spicer declared in a press conference that Trump had been bowling at the time the alleged murder took place.
The next day, during a TV interview, Kellyanne Conway stated that Trump had actually been in a high level cabinet meeting that took place in a bowling alley.
Both of these accounts were proven wrong when the next day Trump posted a tweet alluding he may have killed Pence, but it had been an accident:
After that Tweet Spicer avoided questions from the press by wearing a long-haired, blond wig, red dress and heels and discreetly rushed past the reporters waiting to hear his next press conference. Conway meanwhile stated that Trump did not mean that he shot Pence, but that Pence had violently grabbed the pistol out of Trump's hand and then shot himself.
Mrs. Pence, when asked about her husband, said that she never noticed him missing until he missed a dinner engagement at a local restaurant yesterday. She stated that even then wondered to herself if he might have been there but may have just not spoken to her as was his usual behavior.
After the most recent White House news release, Jeff Sessions reiterated his belief that if the president does it, it is not illegal.
Meanwhile, both Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell said they did not want to jump to conclusions until they had formed a committee to investigate.  When asked about the admission of the White House, the presence of the dead body found in the Oval Office and the gun with only Trump's fingerprints the Republican lawmakers stressed that there wasn't clear proof yet and they would check back after further committee meetings.

The Democratic Party couldn't provide a spokesman, but did release a letter stating that Trump must be impeached and then tried for murder. An hour later they sent out another letter to news organizations stating that they were not sure if that was the proper action and would wait until they could find a spokesman with a backbone before making further comments.

Shortly after the recent news release from the White House Trump posted a new tweet:

His follow-up tweet: 

The Thurber Brigade does not apologize for yet another side-step.  If the prez can "allegedly" collude with our foreign rivals, "allegedly" obstruct justice, "allegedly" profit from his dealings while in office, then both parties, his supporters, and those unwilling to take a stand deserve at least a satirical lambasting if not outright contempt for their lack of morality, fortitude, and patriotism.
Why, yes, I bowl

Friday, May 12, 2017

A Timely Blog

Art plays an important part in human civilization by expressing our humanness in a different form.  Of course, as a writer, I consider myself an artist of words, but paintings, photography, etc. are a different subset.  

I bring this up because one of the ways I always inspire and motivate my writing is to visit museums to observe and absorb the art.  Oh, I'm not one of those dreamy types who fawn over the work or the artists (you won't find me at an art auction or swooning over some visiting painter), but I do love to stroll by and sometimes pause in front of paintings that move me.
One of the first things I do as I observe the work is look at the accompanying description and note the date of the piece as well as the dates of the artist.  For example, one of my favorite works is in the Blanton Museum here in Austin and done by Donald Roller Wilson.  "Mrs. Jenkins' Late Night Dinner in Her Room, Alone (While, Out in the Hall Leading to Her Room, Her Small Friends were Sleeping)" was completed in 1984 when Wilson was 46.  His dates are 1938—present.  
So he did this in the 1980s, my favorite decade.  Many of my books are set during that time, I finished college then, there were some exciting bands coming into their own (Stevie Ray Vaughn, U2, The Police, Midnight Oil, etc.) Reagan was destroying the middle class at the time (sorry, my political side had to chime in), disco was dying out (thank god).  All and all, an interesting decade.

I then think about what I was up to when I was the same age as the painter. For example at 46: I was still recovering from getting run over on my bike by a car; I had established myself as a great academic adviser at UT (hey, I get to pat myself on the back); I had a number of my short stories published by then and so like a crazed gambler still worked feverishly at becoming a famous writer (still working on that); well, you get the idea.  I try to establish the connection to time with the author, the age/year and myself.

In other words, I'm thinking a lot about time.
Tom Hussey's thoughts on time passing
As I get older, this seems to be a bigger thought.  Oh, it could be that subconsciously I'm thinking about my mortality, but I like to believe it's just that time and age fascinate me.
I do something similar with movies and TV shows.  I always check to see when they aired and figure out what I was up to at that time.  For example, I love the TV show "Lost."  I'm still shocked when I watch my DVDs of the show that it ended seven years ago.  Surely it was only a couple of years.
I have a feeling this means I have a hard time comprehending time.  When things are happening now, time seems to be just crawling along.  Yet, when I think about things that happened in my past—what?  Star Trek: TNG ended almost a quarter century ago!—I'm always shocked how fast time moved.
All of this seems a little odd to me because for the most part age doesn’t bother me that much.  I don’t mind that I’m older, recognize that I may no longer be able to keep up on a soccer field with 18-year-olds, and even realize that the slight injury I get from some activity might take longer to heal.
That being said, I do not necessarily reveal my age to women when they ask (if they don’t ask, I don’t bring up age at all).  Instead, I’ll say something like “I’m the same age as Jerry Seinfeld and John Travolta or some other celebrity that’s my age. 

The reason I do this is because women do care about age.  If I were to tell a younger woman my age, she may just reject me outright for that reason.  If I force her to think about a star who is at the same age, well, I have a better chance of getting beyond the initial conversation.  I’ve alluded to this before in a blog about superficiality.  Although men may judge a woman by her looks, a woman will judge a man by his station in life/wealth.  So, if I take age out of the equation, I may get further.
Women also show more concern about their age because of their belief in what age may entail.  It brings about changes in hair, adds wrinkles, etc.  This bothers them so much a gigantic industry flourishes to feed this fear.  Besides lipstick, eyeliner and perfume, cosmetic companies make millions on anti-aging elixirs and creams.  While you might find one or two of these targeting men, you’ll find thousands for women. 

I admit we guys like to chase after younger females. It makes us feel younger when they seem interested.   This doesn’t mean we don’t like women who have aged.  I have a feeling that women's disdain for the signs of aging is similar to women and their relationship with fashion.  As noted before, women dress for other women, not for men.  Most likely, it's the same mindset for women about aging.  They want to impress other women about how young they look even though they are at such-and-such age. 
So time may pass.  Time may ebb and flow.  Time may even be relative. However, one thing I’m sure about is that time will keep us thinking about our place in time.

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.