2020

I need to fix me

I need to fix me.

That sounds sappy. Love Guru sorta thing. But, truly, I need to fix me.

I bring this up after a long talk with the wife this evening, about social media and the need to engage and engage and engage. Today, in particular, was sorta ugly, in that I felt compelled to engage on something dumb Tweeted by a former Major Leaguer named Aubrey Huff.

Why enter a fray? Honestly, I don’t know. A desire to be heard? Perhaps. Boredom during long writing days? Certainly possible. An inane craving for attention? Gotta be a part of it.

Whatever the case, I’m sick of me and social media. Truly, truly, truly, truly sick of me and social media. It’s an addiction, of sorts. Not crack or cigarettes, but something equally distracting and hard to shake. Back in the olden days, when I needed a break from writing, I’d take a walk, read a book, pet the dog, go to the couch and watch TV. Now, I stay in one place and Tweet, or update Facebook. It’s preposterous, and stupid, and would probably be far more embarrassing were it not such a widespread problem.

My wife often says to me, “You’re a nice guy—why do you want to come off that way?” And it’s a question without an easy-to-offer answer. Why? Wish I knew. Truly, wish I knew. But something inside of me feels broken, and I need to fix it. Maybe that’s therapy. Maybe it’s a stricter adherence to discipline. Maybe it’s simply thinking whether I want to be attached to something this juvenile and pathetic—merely in the name of re-Tweets and viral high fives …

Well, I just deleted that Tweet.

And starting right now, at this moment, I’m deleting my approach to social media. Or at least drastically changing it.

First, I’ll be gone until next week. I’m not Tweeting, not reading Twitter. Nothing.

Second, I’m done with arguments here. You wanna slam me? Slam me. It’s your right. But you won’t get an angry reply.

Lastly, I want to be better. A better person. A better role model to my kids. I’m a writer. Not a Tweeter. I write books and articles, and I love it. But this shit is just soul-sucking inanity. Who am I helping? What am I benefitting? Besides PR during book release time, what’s the gain?

I always urge Casey and Emmett to get out, see the world, run, smell, eat, dance.

It’s time I follow my own advice.

It’s time I fix me.

PS: And, yes, I have made pledges like this before. But I’m in genuine pain.

Killing to feel tough

In case you missed this, Iran just launched a bunch of missiles at some U.S. bases in Iraq. Not too many details are known, but it was a certain retaliation for the killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad last week.

This is not good.

It’s also what happens when you elect a president who is consumed—in every possible way—with proving how tough he is. From the very beginning of his business career. Donald Trump’s obsession have taken two forms:

• Money

• Image

I get the first. Don’t appreciate it, but get it. The second one, however, is transparently sad. Donald Trump created The Donald—smart businessman who vanquishes opponents and fires anyone who can’t get the job done. He struts into conference rooms, slams down phones, swats people away with folded newspapers. He’s fuck you and step back and get out of my face.

But it’s not real. It never has been real. Trump’s book, “The Art of the Deal,” was written by someone else. The classes at his huckster “university”—taught by others. His campaign slogan (“Make America Great Again”) was thought up by an adviser. His primary running point (Mexico and the wall) is the handy work of Steve Bannon.

It’s.

All.

An.

Image.

So, surely, after killing Soleimani, Trump lathered in the swag. He was The Man. Not like that pussy Obama, or that pussy W. Nope. The Donald finished the job. Destroyed a terrorist. Saved America.

Only, well, governing involves nuance, texture, thought, evaluation.

Without it, you’re just a fraud thug in a fancy suit.

without it, you get people killed.

The Truth of Star Trek V

So tonight, in our quest to watch all the Star Trek films, the son and I wrapped Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

The movie was William Shatner’s directorial debut, and—save for about 30 percent of the experience—it’s a steaming pile of dog poop. Which isn’t to say that’s entirely Shatner’s fault. I mean … um … eh … yeah. It’s entirely Shatner’s fault. The plot sucks. The writing is even worse. The special effects are a dropoff from earlier renditions. What’s most striking (at least to me) is the jarring lack of self-awareness brought forth by Shatner.

At the time of the flick’s 1989 release, Captain Kirk (Shatner) and Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) were 58 and Bones McCoy (DeForest Kelley) was 69. Yet there they are—running, punching, jumping, sprinting to the ship, escaping explosions, seeking God and demanding answers. Fuck, I’m 47 and still recovering from a pulled groin that happened three weeks ago. It’s laughable.

But here’s my favorite thing about Star Trek V: Everyone involved knew it blew, but no one could admit such. Just check out some of the promotional appearances from the time. Like this gem. And this one. They’re all happy, smiling, loved working for Bill, awesome working with Bill, terrific movie …

It was all Hollywood nonsense. It the later years, members of the cast admitted Star Trek V sucked. Hell, in the Michael Seth Starr biography, “Shatner,” cast members spare no criticism. “It failed because of the story concept,” said Walter Koenig, who played Chekov. “I don’t think it was well thought out.”

“All we needed was a good script,” added James Doohan (aka Scotty). “Unfortunately, we didn’t have one in V.”

Shatner said he ran out of money, resulting in an ending that looked stupid and unrealistic.

The reviews were not great.

You can’t let Chekov back on the bridge

So the son and I have been watching the Star Trek films in order (I wisely skipped the original, which is cardboard to classical music), and the other day we took in the second flick, “Wrath of Khan.” Which is amazing in all sorts of ways.

It’s amazing because William Shatner and Ricardo Montalbán are all in and the overacting and dramatic excesses are something to behold (I’m not being snide. It’s fucking brilliant). It’s amazing because DeForest Kelley is beyond outstanding as Bones. It’s amazing because I fell in love all over again with Nichelle Nichols, whose Uhura is sultry cool. It’s amazing because—with some glaring exceptions—the special effects hold up, and it’s amazing because (stop griping) it’s simply better movie making than anything George Lucas brought us.

And yet …

I have one gripe, and it’s a biggie. So early in the film, Khan and his confusing band of Mad Max-inspired merry misfits capture two Star Fleet employees—the requisite 1980s disposable black guy (who will die, because they always die) and Chekov, the Star Trek regular and a character who the audience knows can’t perish because, well, there are future movies to be made.

Anyhow, in a legitimately hard-to-watch scene, Khan takes the two men and inserts these … eh … mutant slug/snails into their brains. He explains that, before long, the men will obey his commands before ultimately losing their minds.

And … he’s right. The men obey his commands before starting to lose their minds. Hell, the requisite 1980s disposable black guy actually kills himself. But Chekov … Chekov survives. His brain has been eaten by the slug, he’s way off his rocker, the world is 1,000 shades of purple—but he does, in fact, survive. Which is wonderful. The world needs Chekov.

But then—like, within 20 minutes—he’s back on the bridge, helping with the mission. And I keep waiting for Captain Kirk to say, “Yo, yo—people! This bruh just had a slug eating out his cranium. Let’s maybe keep him in sick bay.” I keep waiting for Spock, the definition of walking logic, to say, “Jim, perhaps it would be unwise for Chekov to be here before subjecting himself to a CAT scan.” I keep waiting for McCoy—the fucking Enterprise medic—to say, “Dammit, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a slugologist. But that thing probably took away, oh, 70 IQ points. Maybe Chekov can just sit in the corner and make clay ashtrays.”

But, no.

Chekov is back.

Living the life.

My favorite game of pickup

I haven’t kept count, but if I had to guesstimate how many games of hoops I’ve played in my life, it’d surely number into the thousands.

Growing up, I played with friends on my driveway hoop.

In college, I played with my roommates outside Christiana Towers.

I played at the YMCA in Nashville. I played at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan. I play most Saturday mornings at the courts by my house. I’ve played and played and played. With friends. With foes. In leagues. On a team called—really—the Runnin’ Jeffies.

My life has featured many passions, but basketball probably tops the list.

Earlier today, on the courts at Laguna Beach, I played my all-time favorite game. It was with my 13-year-old son.

Emmett and I play a ton of one-on-one hoops at the nearby court, and we’ve definitely had family games, but today was the first time Emmett and I played together, on the same squad, in legitimate pickup. We arrived at the courts planning on just shooting, but when someone said, “Let’s play” to a group of people—well, we jumped in. There were two young teens, so Emmett and another kid were split.

It was 4 on 4. Sun shining. Slight breeze. Ocean about 40 feet away. I yelled some instructions to Emmett, but mostly let him be him—feisty defense, pump fakes galore, lots of physical hand play. When he hit his first shot, he looked at me—suppressed smile. While he hit his second, less of a suppressed smile. More like, “Yeah, I’m doing this.” He set me up for an assist, was energetic and effective. On multiple occasions it hit me—truly hit me—that I was with my kid at Laguna Beach running a game.

It was bliss.

Ask your preacher

Just watched this utter insanity, and I want someone to ask the clergy involved these questions. Actually, I’m begging.

Ask these questions …

• Are you concerned that the man you’re praying for—the man you stand behind and place your hands upon—used his charitable foundation to buy all sorts of possessions for himself?

• Are you concerned that the man you’re praying for—the man you stand behind and place your hands upon—has repeatedly lied about searching for survivors at Ground Zero after 9.11, and also lied about donating $10,000 to the 9.11 Fund?

• Are you concerned that the man you’re praying for—the man you stand behind and place your hands upon—bragged about grabbing women by their pussies? That he’s mocked countless women as fat, as ugly, as stupid, as piggish?

• Are you concerned that the man you’re praying for—the man you stand behind and place your hands upon—never went to church as a parishioner before he was running for president?

• Are you concerned that the man you’re praying for—the man you stand behind and place your hands upon—spent 4 1/2 years saying the 44th president of the United States (an actual man of faith) was a Kenyan-born Muslim?

• Are you concerned that the man you’re praying for—the man you stand behind and place your hands upon—is a lifelong conman? That he created a fake “university” to bilk the poor and middle class of their money?

• Are you concerned that the man you’re praying for—the man you stand behind and place your hands upon—fucked a porn star 10 days after the birth of the son he ignores? Then paid her hush money to stay quiet?

• Are you concerned that the man you’re praying for—the man you stand behind and place your hands upon—called for five African-American teens to die, even after they were found innocent?

• Are you concerned that the man you’re praying for—the man you stand behind and place your hands upon—refused to rent apartments in his Queens development to people of color?

Are you concerned?

Are you?

On Bombshell, and the Tweet that didn’t come across so hot

So the wife and I just saw “Bombshell,” the new film about the whole Fox News-Roger Ailes-Megyn Kelly shit storm.

I didn’t have high expectations entering the theater, but it was pretty exceptional work. Charlize Theron, in particular, owned the screen, and if she’s nominated for an Academy Award you’ll hear no complaining from this website.

Anyhow, the flick sent me back in time to 2016—before the lawsuits were out, before women were standing up, before it all. When I, eh Tweeted this while working out on a treadmill at my nearby gym …

The backlash—well, it wasn’t wonderful. There was this. And this. And this. And this. I received hundreds upon hundreds of furious Tweets and Facebook messages. Things turned quite ugly, and it was the first (of many) times I simply walked away from social media for a few days. I needed the break.

But now, nearly four years later … I’ve gotta say … um … well … it still was a shit Tweet, because it put the onus on the women while ignoring the pressures they were clearly under. But—based upon everything we’ve learned—Fox News did, in fact, urge its women to wear shorter-than-short outfits. Fox News did emphasize skin and sex appeal.

Fox News did urge their on-air folks to, dammit, dress like hookers.

It sure did.

I regret the Tweet. It was sloppy and lacking any level of nuance. It ignored all the shit women in television go through on a daily basis. I hate that I wrote it, and learned a valuable lesson.

So … yeah.

My No. 1 wish for 2020

I have a wish for 2020, and it’s a simple one.

Put simply, I want people in this country to stop trying to “own” folks they disagree with.

I’m being 100-percent serious. I’m tired of Republicans trying to own Democrats. Tired of Democrats trying to own Republicans. I’m tired of hearing the president of the United States making me and my family members sound like traitors to the nation because we disagree with him. I’m tired of hearing my fellow liberals slam Joe Biden because (gasp!) he said he would consider having a running mate from the opposing party.

It’s exhausting. All of it. The outrage. The insults. The hashtags. The slamming. I’ve traveled to all but three states in this nation, and one thing I’ve discovered (truly) is—in person—we get along. That doesn’t mean we agree on every issue. Or even most issues. But in a room, with cookies and coffee (and juice for the kids) we are capable of having productive, insightful conversations about abortion and guns and college and child care and all sorts of issues. We can be polite. We can listen and say, “Look, I don’t feel you on this one. But I see where you’re coming from.”

Can we change in 2020? Unlikely. The well has been poisoned, and I’m not entirely sure how we clean it.

Personally, I believe it starts with ending Donald Trump’s presidency. And that doesn’t mean the next occupant of the Oval Office needs to be a Democrat.

It simply needs to be someone who respects the entirety of this nation.

Happy new year.