Category Archives: Rant

The American Dream

Almost 230 years ago, a group of men gathered as part of a convention in Philadelphia and dreamed. What came out of that convention was the United States Constitution. Flawed men (some more flawed than others) produced a document for a nation which did not exist, which could not exist under their current leadership limitations, and could only someday be realized when the United States of America could and would live under the credo that “All men are created equal”.

The Founding Fathers, most of whom had as many character and moral flaws as patriotic and leadership attributes, possessed a vision of the potential in their young nation. They set the groundwork and, most importantly, made the constitution an open-ended document. The created a constitution which could be amended, or added to, as problems arose. For their part, they addressed the pending issues of their time in their first ten amendments, collectively called The Bill of Rights. They allowed for change. They allowed the people of the near and far future to move the country forward as issues, new and unimaginable in 1787, threatened the potential of what the United States of America could be.

We still aren’t there in 2017 as witnessed by the divisions of race, economy, philosophy, and policy. But this is not a complete failure of the dream. It is the fight between moving forward toward the dream and staying firmly planted and looking back. These are the growing pains of a diverse nation that dreams of greater things. Two steps forward and one step back.

The Civil War was the first hammer of change after 1782. It changed the nation. Not completely, not permanently, but it changed who and what the United States was forever. It recreated the shift of the young nation as being a single nation and not a collection of separate entities. Historian Barbara Fields and Shelby Foote perhaps said it best at the opening of the final episode of Ken Burns’ classic documentary, The Civil War.

Dr. Barbara Fields, professor of history at Columbia University, on the American Civil War:

“It is the event in American history in that, it is the moment that made the United States as a nation. And I mean that in different ways. The United States was obviously a nation when it adopted a constitution. But it adopted a constitution that required the war to be sorted out and therefore, require the war to make a real nation out of what was a theoretical nation as it was designed at the Constitutional Convention.”

Author-historian Shelby Foote:

“Before the war, it was said the United States are, grammatically it was spoken that way and thought of as a collection of independent states. And after the war, it was always the United States is, as we say today without being self-conscious at all. And that pretty much sums up what the war accomplished. It made us and is.”

In my humble opinion, our responsibility as Americans—the job devised and written into this dream document called the United States Constitution—is to keep pushing toward the goals set by the Founding Fathers. Two steps forward and make sure we fight and scratch and claw to limit any step back to one, preferably short, step backward. We need to push toward an American vision and dream to which we have pledged our allegiance to virtually every day of our lives.

“…one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Let’s be the people the writers of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence hoped we would become. Let’s acknowledge our horrific deeds and flaws of our past in order to make this a better place for everyone today. Let’s leave this country today a little closer to the dream for those of tomorrow.

Live the American Dream.

  • Sacrifice
  • Respect
  • Hard work
  • Compassion
  • Honesty.

These are the attributes that make America great (as always).

A Words Look: Hamlet, 4.5

I received a daily quote from my Shakespeare app which is usually the first thing I see on my phone in the morning and often the last things I see in the evening on my iPad. There are worse ways to start and finish a day than with The Bard.

“Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be. ”                                      -Ophelia, Hamlet, 4.5

Reading and contemplating on this quote by Ophelia from Hamlet, I wonder if this is the perfect description of who we are as a nation. The United States of America is struggling with itself right now in 2017. We are a nation that has entered into its adolescent years. We’ve survived infancy, Independence and setting up a tremendous framework, called the Constitution, and struggled through our terrible two’s during the American Civil War.

Now that we are firmly in the adolescent period, we are struggling internally as a middle school or early high school kid might do. We may think we know  100% more than 99% of everyone else, especially the adults/parents and we often fly off the handle emotionally and physically. With a lack of disregard for the opinions and viewpoints of others, we continue to sludge through the muck, making mistakes, and moving further to opposite ends of the spectrum.

Things may seem crazy now, but we will work through this. We will grow as a nation into the fine young adult stage and maybe figure out a thing or two about ourselves as a nation along the way. The opposing forces in the U.S. currently driving at breakneck speeds away from each other will eventually realize it’s time to turn around and address each other because nobody likes running full speed into a wall.

Have hope America! As we mature as a nation, we may actually find out “what we may be”.

Thanks, Bill Shakespeare! You would have been a great American.

ME READ BOOK

We’re not supposed to like reading.
We’re not supposed to like writing.
We appear to be big, dumb jocks.
We look somewhat scary.
We act somewhat scary.
We get tagged as Neanderthals.
From our look,we are
supposed to like certain things,
do certain things,
and act a particular way.
Because of the way we look,
we are judged at first glance,
judged to a stereotype.

I would like to offer an invitation to everyone who has ever swam upstream against the current of stereotype. An invitation to celebrate a love of books and literature despite how we look or act, especially those of us “Neanderthals” who like to read children’s literature .

Me? I fall into the category of dumb-jock stereotype. I guess a big, football lineman-type, multiple sport-crazy athlete and coach, with a somewhat scary visage which often makes little kids cry, cannot also be an intellectually driven, reader and writer of literature. People seem to look at people like me and naturally think, “He’s a Neanderthal.”

  • Maybe its the truck driver looks? (Which, by the way, was the Hollywood descriptor of my extras casting photo when I was given a part as an extra in a movie back in my college days.)
  • Maybe it’s the occasional ranting and raving?
  • Maybe its the Kansas twang of my dialect or the silent “g” in “-ing”?
  • Maybe it’s the smile or the scowl which split time on my face?

Whatever the reason, I have been often stereotyped as the dumb-jock Neanderthal. In honor of fighting against the stereotype, I invite you to join me in a little Twitter fun.

Inspired by The Incredible Hulk, I am going to celebrate reading and literature every Wednesday by tweeting the book(s) I am currently reading under the hashtag, #MeReadBook.

If there is also an audio-book in the mix, that title will be tweeted under the hashtag, #MeHearBook.

Remember: Never judge a book by its cover.

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Rant OZ


I have never read the complete book, THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ.  I’ve read a few abridged, illustrated versions, but never the whole, original enchilada. That is going to change.

220px-Wizard_oz_1900_cover

In a testament to my unbounding cheapskate-tastic tendencies, I found the GREATEST WORKS OF LYMAN FRANK BAUM eBook on the Apple site for $2.99. Sometime in the near (or far) future, I will be an expert on Oz. I am pretty stoked. Now, all I need is time.

In case you are curious, here is the list of books included in the 4,129 page eBook:
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904)
Ozma of Oz (1907)
Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908)
The Road to Oz (1909)
The Emerald City of Oz (1910)
The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1913)
Tik-Tok of Oz (1914)
The Scarecrow of Oz (1915)
Rinkitink in Oz (1916)
The Lost Princess of Oz (1917)
The Tin Woodman of Oz (1918)
The Magic of Oz (1919)
Glinda of Oz (1920)

Bazinga!

I started to read his introduction to The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz…

INTRODUCTION
Folk lore, legends, myths and fairy tales have followed childhood through the ages, for every healthy youngster has a wholesome and instinctive love for stories fantastic, marvelous and manifestly unreal. The winged fairies of Grimm and Andersen have brought more happiness to childish hearts than all other human creations.
Yet the old-time fairy tale, having served for generations, may now be classed as “historical” in the children’s library; for the time has come for a series of newer “wonder tales” in which the stereotyped genie, dwarf and fairy are eliminated, together with all the horrible and blood-curdling incident devised by their authors to point a fearsome moral to each tale. Modern education includes morality; therefore the modern child seeks only entertainment in its wonder-tales and gladly dispenses with all disagreeable incident.
Having this thought in mind, the story of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” was written solely to pleasure children of today. It aspires to being a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heart-aches and nightmares are left out.
L. Frank Baum – Chicago, April, 1900

…and found an issue right off the bat. I was knocked for a loop the first time I read it. I thought, what a pompous ass with his “modern education morality” schtick. But, since he is the author of a classic piece of children’s literature, I decided to give L. Frank the benefit of the doubt and I read the Intro a second time. OK, he’s still a pompous ass, but a pompous-ass, man-of-the-times who produced a better product than what previously existed by entertaining kids without scaring the living crap out of them. Nice job, L. Frank, just tone down the high and mighty next time.

So, take-home lessons learned from Lyman Frank Baum’s Introduction to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz:

1. If you write an introduction to your book, don’t come off as a pompous you-know-what.
2. If you write an introduction to your book, don’t trash what came before you. In other words, don’t bad talk your predecessor because someday you will also be the worn-out, simplistic old fashioned, backward thinking author.

Now, rant delivered…on to OZ.