Friday, December 23, 2011

Going Boldly Where No "Decent" Man Has Gone Before!

I am beyond appalled by an article I read this morning.  You can read the sordid details of the article here .  Even though there was no profanity used, the level of insult is exceedingly high and disturbing.
What disturbs me about the situation is that Congress member (I can’t even bring myself to call him a CongressMAN right now) Jim Sensenbrenner is setting a dangerous and insulting precedent in the already volatile world of politics.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Head's On Fire???

I was watching TV the other day and saw what I assumed to be a trailer for some new horror movie.  The patient’s head burst into flames as the surgeons stood stunned.  After the initial shock the surgeons rapidly went about beating out the fire.  Upon closer inspection, I realized this was no trailer, this was a report of a true event.  At first I wondered at the eerie absence of screams until I realized that the poor patient couldn’t scream. They were trapped in the grip of paralyzing surgical anesthesia. The news report went on to talk about surgical fires in the operating room. What? If you’re like me, you’ve never heard of this phenomenon. I’ve gone through surgical procedures before which I thoroughly (or at least I thought I was being thorough) researched and weighed the attendant risks.  It’s not something any of my surgeons ever mentioned to me as being possible during our pre-surgical workups. But this story shocked me so much, that I wanted to be sure to spread awareness that this can happen.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What's Behind My Book "Revelations"

Good morning all.  Please drop by Cynthia's Blog today and learn about the inspiration behind my book "Revelations".  http://bit.ly/tXB25W .  Christian Drama, Family, Suspense and more.  Thanks.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Is Bigger Always Better?

A new author is taught many tools to attract a potential reader’s attention.  After the book is written, comes the sometimes difficult and time-consuming task of making your book stand out among the many other selections available for readers to choose from.  Careful planning and attention must be given to every aspect of the book’s packaging.  Finally the title is intriguing, the cover looks great, and the blurb is set to entice.  Then comes the big reveal.  Page one, chapter one, and paragraph one.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Kim Kardashian...Heartbreak Or Scam?

By now we’ve all heard about the demise of the marriage of Chris Humphries and Kim Kardashian.  But what is a little surprising to me is that some media outlets are implying that the whole thing might have been a scam.  Many are saying that Kim orchestrated the whole thing in order to have a huge wedding celebration as a ploy to continue garnering hefty ratings for her family’s reality show.    She has been accused of using her wedding to attract sponsors to pay for every flower, napkin and decoration in return for their names being featured on the wedding show.  They say she got married for any reason you can think of, with the exception of true love.  Well I believe there’s a possibility that Kim may be getting a bad rap.

Just think about it. If Kim were as coldly calculating as she is being portrayed, none of this would have played out to be the public relations disaster it has become. A shrewd businesswoman, such as Kim has proven herself to be, would have considered all angles of the situation and played it in her favor.
If Kim had considered her marriage a “project” there are many ways she could have handled it. She could have had a $10 million engagement party extravaganza. She could have stretched the engagement over two or three seasons of her show. She could have exploited family relationships on both sides. She could have engineered adventurous plots featuring the besotted couple gallivanting across the globe and encountering all kinds of sticky situations. Then, when the novelty of that wore off, cap it off with a wedding that would have put Cinderella and her prince to shame.

Instead she has almost become a laughingstock, trying to dodge the same answer-hungry paparazzi she’d brilliantly courted for years. I submit to you that I think Kim was in love. She’d been exposed to whirlwind courtships that turned out beautifully. Her own mother Chris Jenner married Bruce Jenner after an admittedly short period of time and their marriage has lasted over twenty years so far. Against strong opposition from many, including Kim, her sister Khloe and Lamar Odom met and were married in a matter of weeks. And even I must admit, they seem to be one of the most loving couples you can find on television right about now.

That being her experience, and we are all shaped to an extent by our environment, Kim had no reason to doubt that true love can happen hard and fast. Now it takes work to sustain a marriage, but no social scientists have come up with concrete proof that it takes “X” amount of time for the feeling of love to be deemed real.

Another of my favorite couples, Nick Cannon and Mariah Carey, fell in love almost immediately and are now reveling in the joy of their beautiful twins. By all accounts, their love is growing stronger each day. I think Kim fell in love, but unfortunately, it just didn’t work out. So, dear readers, what are your thoughts on this issue? Can true love happen in an instant? Or are whirlwind courtships products of lust and doomed to fail?  What say you?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Previously, I explored the issue of why some men abuse in "What Gives You The Right?".  Today I read a very interesting article discussing some of the reasons that women stay in an abusive relationship.  The article was posted on the Surviving Abuse website and entitled "Why Women Stay In Abusive Relationships".  I totally agree with these reasons.  In my post today I would like to add a few of the reasons I think some women stay in an abusive relationship. continue reading more

Fight or Flight.  It is one of the most primitive urges embedded in our beings.  When we feel threatened, our natural instinct is to fight back.  Or, if we sense that what threatens us is too big or powerful to overcome, we take flight.  We do whatever it takes to put as much distance as possible between us and whatever is threatening our safety.

Natural Instinct right?  So why do some women drown the urge to get away and stay, some for many years, in these toxic pairings that kill them?  Even the ones that don't end of physically losing their lives can end up dead emotionally.  I submit to you what I believe are two of the main reasons:

First is fear of failure.  Our society has largely become one that relishes success stories.  We love to read, or at the least the media loves to emphasize, a good story of one who has overcome almost impossible odds and can go around the country telling the comeback story of the year.  So we meet the person that we decide is going to be our life partner and take the plunge.  Sometimes we elope, sometimes we have a huge ceremony, but in any case the world comes to know that we have pledged our love to one another.
 
Then the abuse starts.  I believe it probably starts after the marriage.  I can't imagine someone being verbally or physically abusive on the first date with any hopes of ever getting a second date.  Most abusers are probably on their best behavior during courtship.  More than red flags, these type of actions on a first date would serve as giant STOP signs and halt the budding relationship like crossing guards coming down at the train tracks stop traffic.

Suprisingly, many of the victims are otherwise successful in life.  They are leaders in their workplace, and often even business owners.  To the outside world, they have it together.  And sadly, they do not want others to know that in that one small, but arguably most important, aspect of their lives, they have failed.  They fear that if people know they could have made such a huge mistake in character discernment as having picked the wrong person to share their lives with, then all of their actions might be open to question.  Can they really handle that project?  Do they have the judgment to hire the right people?

The second reason I think so many people stay is due to religious beliefs.  Yes sometimes society as a whole seems to be on a self-gratification, me first, do what feels good kick.  But many people still take their wedding vows very seriously.  They made a promise before God to stay the course for better or for worse.  And what could be worse than being stomped on, literally or figuratively by the one you trusted to cherish you for as long as you both shall live?

Sounds crazy?  Not really.  Believe it or not, I have had this very conversation with older gentlemen, both friends and family.  Many times we can gain much wisdom from the elders of our community, but in this case I'm not so sure.  At a family gathering we were discussing a brutal case of abuse.  The general consensus amongst the older generation was that the only allowable reason for a divorce is adultery.  I asked, well what if the man is beating you half to death?  They said you could leave until he calms down, but you must not divorce him.  Just come back home when his temper settles.

Now I will not presume to be on the level with people who have many more years of the knowledge that life experience brings than I have.  Nor will I try to meddle in the affairs between an abuse victim and his/her relationship with God.  I am simply saying that I think some victims stay because their vows have cemented them in a bond that they cannot, or do not want to break.

Those are just some thoughts I am reflecting upon as National Domestic Awareness month comes to a close.  I hope and pray that in the near future we, as a society, can find ways to work together to close not only a month of awareness; but, also, to stop the growth of this endemic sickness that has the potentional to destroy our families.  We can do it, in fact, we must.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Economy Stole My Ferris Wheel!

This is the week of the South Carolina State Fair.  As a matter of fact, tomorrow, October 23, 2011, will be the last day.  I’ve been scrimping, and saving and seeing which bills I might be able to delay, but all to no avail.  For the first time in years, it seems that I will have to miss the fair, and the caramel crunch of a glazed candy apple, due to the more powerful economic crunch.

You see, like many others, I was laid off of my job this year.   And while it has had a somewhat negative effect on the necessities of life (rent, car payments, electric, groceries, etc.), it struck me full force this week that the economy has also affected one of the events that I have enjoyed since childhood…the state fair.

The South Carolina State Fair has been around since 1869.  You can read about its vibrant history here.  I’m sure many of you remember the chilly fall nights, your parents holding your hand, as you made your way through the masses, enthralled by the lights, noises and smells of the state fair.  And the food, oh my.  It took all of your mother’s persuation to convince you to wait until after you rode the topsy turvy spinning rides to scarf down that humongous hot dog with everything.  Many of us learned the hard way that she was right. :)

As we got older, we relished the first thrills of independence when we could go to the fair with a group of teen-aged friends.  No longer holding mommy and daddy’s hand, we ran willy nilly through the fair grounds, ready to brave the rollercoasters now, fingers still sticky from cotton candy, gripping the safety bar in delighted terror.

Then came the dating stage of the fair.  After all of your fretting, that special someone finally asked you to the fair.  At this stage, you usually went to the fair twice.  Once with your friends where you relished the juicy sausage dogs smothered with onions.  And once with your beau.  Of course on date night you stuck to cotton candy, elephant ears and candy apples.  Only sweet smelling foods on this night just in case they decided to steal a quick kiss when you were on top of the world.

The top of the world as seen from the piece de resistance…the ferris wheel.  The ferris wheel was best saved for last.  After riding all the fast and crazy rides that blew your hair from hither to yon, the ferris wheel was a slow and easy ride that signaled the end of a wonderful date.    When your particular car stopped at the very top, you could see for miles around.  Amidst the gentle sway of the car, you could see city lights afar and all the tents, rides, and crowds below you  that made up the 12-day fantasy land of the fair.

The fair is fantasy-like, but what is real is the expense.  Not only do you pay the gate admission, but then you purchase tickets for the rides (the good ones charging four to five tickets) and quite naturally, all that walking around makes you hungry.  The tempting hawkers are calling you from every side to try your hand at winning a stuffed teddy bear.  So the fair comes with a cost that, in my estimation, is well worth it.

Well worth it, because it has been a part of every stage of my life.  This year however, there will be no magic moment atop the ferris wheel for me.  I just can’t afford it.  What I do have is those beautiful memories.  So as I continue to fill out mountains of job applications, these memories spur me on.  I’m hoping and praying that I find a job soon because I need to earn a living.  I’m on a first name basis with most of my creditors, having called so often to plea for just a little more time.  But in the back of my mind is also the thrilling image of next year, gently rocking in the car at the top of the ferris wheel, bills paid, mind at ease, tripping the lights fantastic.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What Gives You The Right?

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. These scary facts according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV):

1. 85% of domestic violence victims are women.
2. One in every four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
3. Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.

There are many articles written on why does the woman stay? Why doesn’t she do this or that? Some even take the slant that a woman deserves what she gets if she stays. These might be valid questions. But, unintentional though it might be, some of these articles come perilously close to victim bashing.
For purposes of this article, I’d like to focus on the men who abuse women. What gives these men the right to assault (physically, sexually, emotionally, or verbally) another human being whom they proclaim to love? And sadly, most domestic violence on women is adminstered by someone with whom they are intimately involved.

To start, let’s look at children in the earliest toddler stages. Observe a classroom of preschoolers or a group of children playing in the park. You will note that some of the boys play with the girls as equals. Some, however, show an early tendancy toward becoming potential bullies. I’m not talking about the boy who lightly tugs the ponytail of a girl he might have a crush on. I’m talking about the boys who push a girl down, and laugh as she starts to cry, mistakenly believing this makes him an object of admiration on the playground.

What gives these boys and later men the sense of entitlement that they can harm another? I submit that it is anger. I’m sure there are many reasons men lash out. They didn’t have a father in the home. The father they did have was abusive or emotionally absent. They saw their father or significant other in their mother’s life treat them badly. They are too young and too small to do anything about it, so the anger (accompanied by hurt, humiliation, and fear) festers until it spills over into acting out.
Now the boy is a grown man who swears he will never treat a woman the way he grew up seeing women treated. But life happens. Kids, bills, financial problems and relationship problems. What does he do? He reacts in the only way he knows. He wants to behave differently, but he has internalized, almost against his will, what he saw growing up. Looking at it objectively, this is understandable. I don’t believe that children are born abusers any more than they are born prejudiced or hateful. Most behavior is learned.

Is this an explanation? Yes. An excuse? To this I answer a resounding no!!! At some point, an abuser realizes he has a problem. He realizes that his expressions of anger are extreme. They know deep down that what they are doing is not acceptable. Otherwise why are these acts so often committed in the privacy of the home? Why the tendancy to isolate the woman from friends and family to whom she might confide?

Men need to stand up and take responsibility for their actions. Look in the mirror, admit that something is wrong that saying “I’m sorry” will not fix, and get yourself some help. Not only that, other men need to hold their brethren accountable. Don’t laugh when you hear a friend say he’s got to keep his woman in line, or in check. Let him know that she is a grown woman with the same God-given right as he to make her own choices in life. Tell him that if they can’t make it work, then they need to part ways.

Hear this loud and clear men, you do not, now or ever, have the right to put your hands on a woman the wrong way. No she did not make you do it. You are responsible for your own actions, and you are ultimately responsible for making a change. Stop it now. Our families, the very fabric of our society, hangs in the balance.  Come forward now and make the decision that the generational curse of domestic violence with stop with you.  And one man at a time, we will see a change for the better.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Is It Okay To Be Facebook or Twitter Friends With Your Child?

I enjoy social media as well as the next person. What do you think of the growing trend of Moms and Dads being “friends” with their children or other young relatives on Facebook and/or Twitter? I’d never really thought about it until I received a FB friend invite the other day from my 15-year-old niece. I was stunned at the emotions this simple act aroused in me.

First of all, this is my baby. Yes I know she’s 15, but I remember her in diapers. So one of my first emotions was a sense of wanting to protect her. I don’t want any predators stalking her account and trying to become more than Facebook friends. I also don’t want her exposed to a lot of the craziness you see posted on the social media these days. Not wanting to be rude I went ahead and confirmed her as a friend. Next thing I know I get a follow me on twitter message. What? Oh my goodness. Twitter is even more wide open than FB. What to do, what to do? The jury’s still out on that one. I haven’t followed her on twitter yet, no offense dear.

I am reluctantly coming around to accepting the fact that more and more of my young relatives are growing up and that social media is a part of their lives. While it was something that wasn’t even around when I was a child, computers and internet sites are a part of these kids’ lives almost from birth. They don’t see it as bad or good, but as a natural part of life, like bicycles were to me.
I guess I must admit too, there was a little element of shame. I’m “good” Aunt Pam and that’s how I want to remain being seen in their eyes. What on earth would they think if they saw some of the conversations my friends and I engage in when we let our hair down and relax, just shooting the breeze, on Facebook?

After pondering this for awhile, I believe I have come to peace with an acceptable compromise. FB can be a parent’s friend in a way. I’m finding that it is a good way to keep abreast (ok, spy if you will) of what’s going on in the lives of young people we care about. For example, a recent post from one young relative read “Yay, got the house to myself. I can watch tv in peace.” Perfectly innocent in her mind.

So instead of saying I saw on FB you’re posting you’re home alone, dangerous, blah, blah, blah, it was a great opportunity to have a calm conversation regarding safe and responsible use of social media. I can also discreetly click on pictures from their male friends to see how old they look and see what type of things the boys are posting. Clean fun teen conversations or profanity-laced tirades?

And the problem with being embarrassed, well a little more research into how FB works solved that problem. I found out that I can elect to share certain posts with everyone or only a few. Who knew? Well probably most everyone but me. lol. But now I know. Final analysis? Facebook is my friend/ally. All I have to do is use it, instead of letting it use me or my children. What say you?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Reflections on July 4th and the Confederate Flag

July 4th stands for freedom and independence.  Upon reflection, those who favor the Confederate flag flying on the State Capitol grounds of Columbia, South Carolina, do have this right.  But why in the name of compassion and empathy would they want to?

The Confederate Flag is a banner that yet waves over the State Capitol grounds of Columbia, South Carolina.  It has been waving since 1962. It is time that the proud citizens of Columbia, South Carolina, take down the Confederate Flag.  Columbia’s city slogan is “Famously Hot”.  South Carolinians should be hot about this embarrassment hanging over our city.

Many people in favor of keeping this flag flying argue that it is a part of history, and as such, should not be forgotten, or removed.  This, however, is a part of history that is nothing to be proud of. Many of the Confederate Soldiers fought for the cause of the Confederate states to have the right to continue owning their slaves.  No one living in 2011 was responsible for this. But to many minorities, this is a painful reminder of being thought of as property, rather than human beings with the same God-given right to freedom as any other citizen of this great country.  So painful in fact, that in a state that is trying desperately to boost its tourism income, this flag has actually become a burden.  Several religious, political, and even athletic groups, whose events could have brought hundreds of thousands of dollars into the state, have cancelled and moved their events and conventions to other states in a boycott of the Confederate flag.

In 2000, the Confederate Flag was moved from the state house to fly in front of a monument to fallen Confederate Soldiers on the State Capitol grounds.  This was a good first step, but clearly not enough.  The October 28, 1999 edition of The Economist stated that “So far, the NAACP estimates that South Carolina has lost at least $43m that would have come in from visitors: more than 40 organizations have cancelled events in the state, and at least 70 families have moved reunions to other places.”

An article by Sam Eaton published on July 31, 2009 on the news website WLTX.com stated that the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) “voted to move its 2010 convention from South Carolina after the NAACP reminded them of the organization’s tourism boycott of the state over the Confederate flag.”  According to this article, the Christian Church has about 700,000 members. This is a profound loss of tourism dollars to the local hotel and restaurant industry if even a quarter of the members had attended a convention held in South Carolina.

South Carolina also continues to lose out on much needed athletic tourism dollars.  A  July 9, 2009 article by Gene Wojciechowski on ESPN.com emphasized the long-term detrimental effect the Confederate flag is having on South Carolina’s economy.  He states “The Atlantic Coast Conference has had enough of that flag: Earlier this week it pulled the 2011, 2012 and 2013 ACC baseball tournaments out of Spurrier’s  (referring to University of South Carolina’s winning head football coach Steve Spurrier) state and relocated them to neighboring North Carolina. Myrtle Beach’s loss becomes Durham’s and Greensboro’s economic and tourism gain.  Meanwhile, the NCAA won’t touch the state of South Carolina with a vaulter’s pole. Same goes for Spurrier’s home conference, the SEC. And all because of a Confederate battle flag that first flew atop the state Capitol dome in 1962 and still flies prominently, defiantly and wrongly at a Confederate soldier’s monument on the Capitol grounds in Columbia.”

Where do things stand on the Confederate flag in 2011?  An Associated Press article by Seanna Adcox in the HeraldOnline on January 17, 2011, shows that the Confederate flag is still a hot issue.  This article highlighted the views and opinions of people who attended the January 17, 2011 rally in Columbia, South Carolina celebrating the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday.  According to the article, “Georgia’s NAACP president, Edward Dubose, said the NAACP is renewing its commitment to “not spend one dime in South Carolina until that Confederate flag comes down.” He said he and his wife led by example on the drive, by stopping in Augusta, Ga., to order food, then waiting until they arrived in Columbia to eat it.” 

From another attendee, “This is more in-your-face. That’s just heartbreaking,” said Markita Primm, 37, who, along with her 14- and 11-year-old children, boarded one of two buses that traveled overnight from Detroit to attend.  Primm, who’s on dialysis and in a wheelchair because of a leg amputation, said she wanted to protest the flag in person. “This flag flying is not right,” she said.  Primm came with 120 people on a trip organized by Detroit talk radio personality Mildred Gaddis, who pledged to keep coming every year with more people until the flag is down.”

The Confederate flag should be completely removed from the grounds of the South Carolina State Capitol.  This building and its grounds and its employees represent all of the citizens of South Carolina.  To those who somehow have fond sentimental thoughts over what this flag represents, they can hang replicas of the flag in their own living rooms or front yards. This flag can also be hung in a South Carolina museum to preserve its historical value.  This is an example of a historical period that many South Carolinians are not proud of.  Events represented by the Confederate flag happened so long ago, that an apology, though necessary, cannot erase the tragedy.

The best solution is to remember history, so as not to repeat it.  Remember it yes, but not arrogantly wave around the symbol of that tragedy.  South Carolinians must now contact their local Representatives and Senators.   In the spirit of the rebels…..the Confederate Flag must come down.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Ebooks or Paper? I’ll Take Both Please.

I read an interesting article. I’d heard about the demise of Borders. But this article in The Telegraph, “Internet and Supermarkets Kill Off 2,000 Bookshops”, shows the tremendous impact that epublishing is having on bookstores internationally. Read full article here:   http://tgr.ph/o5MJGv . As an ebook author I am excited about the popularity of ebooks. However, as an avid reader it really saddens me to see so many books stores going out of business.

I love reading physical books. Yesterday I was browsing around in the local Goodwill store. These stores are a virtual treasure trove of good books, both paperback and hardcover. Most of them available from .50-$2.00. Then you have the supermarkets and Walmarts with their own book sections. It’s so much fun to go into book stores and spend an afternoon perusing their vast selection. Many of them even serve up a tasty cup of your favorite coffee or tea while you’re reading.

And then, one of my favorites, there are the libraries. There is something so conducive to the enjoyment of literature in the quiet sanctuary of a library. From floor to ceiling, as far as the eye can see, are shelves and shelves of books of every description and genre. Best of all, especially in this economy, these books are yours to take home and enjoy absolutely free. For a limited time, of course.

I enjoy ereading devices as much as the next person. But I have to admit there is something so satisfying about enjoying a book that doesn’t depend on electronics, special lighting, colors or graphics. It’s delightful to sneak away to your favorite spot and immerse yourself in the lives of the characters with no other sound than the faint rustling of the turning pages.

One of the most disheartening thoughts is the implication that future generations of children might never get to enjoy the feel of a good book in hand. Remember when supermarket baggers used to ask paper or plastic? Well the same way with books. I don’t think one should negate the other. It’s all about choice. Don’t you hope that epublishers and traditional publishers can find a way to work together so that readers can continue to have the option of both physical books and ebooks? I’d like to think so.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Tarnishing Of The South's Crown Jewel

A beautiful and historic city, Atlanta, Georgia, sprang to international prominence in 1996, when it hosted the Summer Olympics. Piggybacking on this spotlight, Atlanta flourished. With its lovely weather, affordable homes outstanding educational institutions such as Spellman, Emory, and Morehouse, Atlanta attracted visitors and new residents from all over the world.

Atlanta also became known as a mecca for entrepreneurs lured by its fertile business opportunities. Atlanta provided an outlet for sports enthusiasts of every kind with professional teams such as the Atlanta Falcons, the Atlanta Braves and the Atlanta Hawks. Not to mention the many college sports. Atlanta became know as the south’s crown jewel. On Sunday night, September 18, 2011, the south’s crown jewel became horribly tarnished.
The Atlanta Falcons fought a hard-won battle against the visiting Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles’ starting quarterback was Michael (Mike) Vick, once the starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons. Mike Vick, as so many young athletes do, made a terrible decision that changed his life forever. He was convicted of and served time for his participation in dogfighting. He not only disgraced himself, but he let down thousands of fans who’d looked up to him as a hero.

This sentence bears repeating: He was convicted of and served time for his participation in dogfighting. According to our judicial system, he has served his time and paid his debt to society. Even with this debt already having been paid, it is worth noting that Mick Vick continues to speak to youth groups across the country. He has humbled himself to the point where he goes before these young people, many of them aspiring athletes, admits to and apologizes over and over again for what he did, and puts his all into warning them to stay away from this dangerous path.

Here is where the story turns ugly. Late in the game, Mick Vick was injured during a play in which a Falcon, in a clean hit, pushed Vick, whose helmet collided with the helmet of a one of his own Eagle teammates. Unfortunate yes, but one of the sad possibilities that always exist in the sometimes brutal game of football. There was no foul play.

What was foul was the reaction of a large number of Atlanta fans. They booed Vick as he was taken into the locker room to be examined. I am an avid watcher of both professional and college football and I have never ever seen such a cheap and degrading lack of class displayed by a mob of so-called sports fans. I’m not saying this as an outsider looking in, I lived in Atlanta for 10 years and dearly love that city. I am ashamed of what took place last night.

Athletes put their bodies at risk all the time. Yes, they do it for the often heady amounts of fame and monetary earnings, but also for love of the sport. They provide me and many other sports fans with countless hours of entertainment. I’d like to remind my former neighbors that one of the key elements of athletics is sportsmanship. Not just for the athletes, but for the fans.

Whether or not a fan tries to live by the scripture (John 8:7) that says let he who is without sin cast the first stone, one does not have to be a biblical scholar to exhibit common decency. There are some hard-hearted Hannahs and Hanks who will never forgive Mick Vick even if he’d served 200 years in prison. That’s between you, your conscience and God.

The point is an athlete was down on the field. I watched in dismay as a crazed throng of fans booed an injured player. What is going on? Are these fans the type of parents that would teach their children to boo a fellow student injured in a schoolyard game of kickball or volleyball? Would they teach their children to be happy when a diver from the opposing swim team slips and cracks his head on the edge of the diving board? Scary thought isn’t it?

Most of the time an injured player is cheered as he is taken from the field, both by fans of the home and opposing team. That is as it should be. But if that is too much to ask, I ask the Atlanta fans to, in the future, show at least some modicum of decorum. Go back to the days and lessons of our other crown jewels, our grandparents. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. In the eyes of the millions of television watchers, Atlanta’s fans would have been much more admired if the stadium, unable to bring themselves to applaud, had at least fallen into silence.

Some may use the excuse that we had no way of knowing, until later reports, that Mick Vick had suffered a concussion. Still, no excuse. Even if it turned out that Vick, or any other player had simply stubbed his toe, there was no call for such an appalling lack etiquette. We can only hope that the next time there is an injured man down on the field, the offending fans (for we cannot and must not lump all Atlanta fans into this group) will have learned better and will do better.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Nothing in Common???

You know, I was just thinking about and marveling at how writing can cross all boundaries.  Maeve Binchy is one of my favorite authors and has been for a long time.  “Circle of Friends” was one of the first books of hers that I read.  I immediately connected with the anguish and joy of the young woman, who was a little chubby compared to her other friends, but turned out to be the type of woman that the handsome hero of the story couldn’t help but fall in love with. And when the movie aired with that dreamy young Chris O’Donnell giving visual to the imagination, I was hooked for good.

I immediately read every Maeve Binchy book I could get my hands on.  So enamored of her stories and well-rounded characters was I, that it was quite awhile before I realized where she was from.  One day, I finally slowed down long enough to wonder at the name of a city I didn’t recognize.  I was shocked to find out the setting was in Ireland.  Maeve Binchy is actually from Dalkey, Ireland.
Shouldn’t that have been obvious the first time I read one of her books you might ask?  The only excuse I have is that I was so engrossed with the depth of her characters’ emotions and the thought-provoking story lines that I just didn’t notice.

As I read later Maeve Binchy books, I continued to be wrapped up in her characters.  Her characters don’t live in a “character” world where they do whatever because they are characters.  They are written as if they were real people with real emotions, real confusions, and some surprising consequences for their actions that the reader immediately recognizes as something that they themselves, or someone they know has experienced with the same outcome.

So it’s really interesting how a reader in her twenties (me at the time) could read and be thoroughly vested in the feelings of women in their forties and even fiftyish/sixtyish (“Evening Class”).  How could a black woman (me, then and now…lol) be swept away into a world far away from America, where no one in the story “looks” like me?

The answer my friends is the writing.  I agree with many of the experts who say that it is important to target your audience, and this is undoubtedly true.  But I submit to you that a good story still and always will appeal to a hungry reader, regardless of their demographic.

What are your thoughts?  Target your market first then tailor a story to that market? Write a good story and let it find its own market?  Or some combination of both?