Thursday, November 15, 2012

Getting Straight

"Getting Straight" is a classic movie. And, one that is incredibly relevent for today, especially in this election.  Set in 1970, at the height of the Vietnam War protests, Elliot Gould is fabulous in what I think was his best role ever. He is a Vietnam vet: a Navy Corpman, having served with the Marines. He plays the part of an idealistic, very verbal, slightly older graduate student. I first saw this movie years and years ago. And, one of the unintended consequences for today is that it reinforced my belief in what has happened to us as a culture.  We have become a less involved people, willing to accept events like Iraq and Afghanistan without blinking an eye. We no longer have a draft and the country is not invested in our military. Our culture has basically shifted from one of interest in "land of the free and home of the brave" to one of making money and creating wealth. In "Getting Straight", an idealistic student body railed against the war and protested for what they perceived was a lack of basic equality. On every hand, Harry, played by Elliot Gould, presented a practical approach, even contrary to what he believed. His goal was to become a teacher and he kept trying to sacrifice the real person of who he was to reach that goal. Realizing it was not going to happen, in a "what the hell" moment, he threw in the towel, with some dramatics of course. 

The last scene is one of the best I've ever seen. The stereotypes, a dozen or so, are sitting around a table as he takes his "orals" for his masters. He finally explodes with what he truly thinks. So relevant. Today, there is no approach like "Getting Straight," no real idealism rather how to become a 1%er. 

There are many reasons why "Getting Straight" won't happen today. It isn't only a loss of idealism but the country has become too big, too unwieldy, too partisan, meaning selfish. It is why a "Getting Straight" concept would be  important in this election. But, it won't happen. No politician will say what they truly mean (it is why Governor Christie of New Jersey was so refreshing as relating to the awful devastation of Sandy. He said, "f..k politics, my people are in need.")

The Presidency and the Democrats are the best chance of capturing some of the magic of the "Getting Straight" time, I believe. But, even if they wanted too, the political courage is simply not there. We are f..ked. 

Personality Factor

I have always liked the President. Here's a guy who can be making a speech, somebody hollers, "I love you" without dropping a word, he calls, "I love you back." He moves easily toward people. Sometimes criticized for aloofness? It is a management style, give somebody a job? Let them do it. Good father. Tackles crisis. This doesn't mean to say that he's not a politician but overall it is his personality, ENTJ. He has learned how to be a good president and deserves another term. 

But, my point is that he is what he is because of personality. How do we know what he is? We can only guess because of our understanding of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, the most popular personality instrument in the U.S. 

My first exposure to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator was in 1977, way back in the dark ages when I was in the military. Otto Kroeger, who is probably the foremost present day guru of the theory came to do a workshop at Fort McPherson, Georgia. I was a young Major and truly didn't know my posterior from anything. And, reluctantly showed up at the seminar. As happened, it was a turning point in my life's outlook to say the least. In the military, I was always on the outside of the mainstream. I (ENTP) would be in a meeting and it was constantly "group think" but I was not there--never seemed to see it like everybody else. The military iscooperate and graduate personified. I was a good combat soldier but get me in the confines of peacetime and it was a struggle. By this time in my career, I had already been fired twice and miraculously escaped being pitched out of the military. So, here was a theory that was mostly built around the idea that all of us are born with different personalities, plain and simple, not much we can do about it. This was revolutionary. Simplistically, it seemed that to get to know our personality and others and to be able to make it useful in an organization like the military would be perfect.

According to the Myers Briggs, you actually can be one of sixteen personalities and all of them have various characteristics and  attributes. Here is MBTI, 101. 

Extroverts/Introverts. Extrovert move toward people easily and find a certain amount of energy being around people. Introverts usually have lots of conversations but many of  the conversations are usually with themselves. One attribute is not good or bad, they just are. Sensing/INtuitives: Sensing types are "hands on" types. They love to reach out and touch. They can do things, fix things. INtuitives are creative and innovative. They always have time for one more thing. Thinking/Feeling. Thinkers are in their heads, they reason, try to figure things out. Feeling Types are in their guts, can be emotional. Finally on the Myers Briggs, we can be a Judging (all these terms are mostly Jungian ones. I would have chosen different ones) type or a Perceptive Type. These two, J and P really means how we live out our lives. Our live styles. This is all a capsule, out of my head. I am an ENTP. 

Once we take a stab at our figuring out our personalities, we are better at knowing ourselves, and most important, making good decisions. 

The Myers Briggs is based on the creditable theory of Carl Jung, the Swiss born Psychiatrist and somewhat rival of Freud. It was designed after years of research by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers. The Myers Briggs could measure the conscious (as opposed to the unconscious)aspect of the personality. I actually wrote a book, The Personality Factor, read by only two others beside myself. Below are the 16 different types. The President: 
E-extrovert, moves toward people easily. 
N-iNtuitive-Innovative, creative; lots of legislation, creative appointments. 
T-Thinking. He is very much on his head. Figuring things out, practical. 
J-judging. Not judgmental. This is a lifestyle issue. It is how we love out our lives. The J/P is very importent as it conveys the idea of being organized as to being "open" about things. The President, ENTJ. 

The 16 Personalities:
[ENFP]    [INFP]    [ENFJ]    [INFJ]    [ESTJ]    [ISTJ]   [ESFJ]    [ISFJ]    [ENTP]    [INTP]    [ENTJ]    [INTJ]   [ESTP]    [ISTP]    [ESFP]    [ISFP]

We would expect a good Irishman like Mark O'Brien to be creative enough to tell such a story, which was an essay, "How to find a sex surrogate?" "Sessions" is really a good and warm movie. Who does not love Helen Hunt anyway? When she was on the long running TV sitcom, "Mad About You," she made it sparkle. And, an Oscar winner as Jack's Nicolnson's love interest in "As Good As It Gets." In both of these movies, she takes  dysfunctional types and molds them into their best selves. She gets most of the billing in this movie but John Hawkes is fabulous, along with William Macy. Both of these guys are amazingly understated. And, Macy does with his role what you would expect but Hawkes reverts back to the great part he had in the HBO show, Deadwood, where he was so good. 

For those of us who wanted to see HH's breasts, to be generic, this movie gave us the chance. Germaine Greer infamously said,  "Men are interested in two things: tits and ass and ass and tits." Close but I beg to differ, give us a little more credit. The movie had a lot of tentacles. Why more of the complexities weren't explored is hard to know. Pretty short movie. I would like to have known about Helen Hunt's son and the live in poet. And, O'Brian's first love and his Asian caretaker. I thought she was Hispanic well into the movie. All the women were pretty remarkable, even the first one who needed her pay advance. 

A fascinating and very interesting scene is where they just lay there, breasts bared. It was time enough to study them. They were not remarkable or they were. Really good movie, the best I've seen in a while. I hope it did well at the box office. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012


"Oscar, this is going to be easy pickins."
"I don't know, man, I ain't been into no robbin people nor stores."
"OK, listen, Oscar, you stupid mother fucker, you ain't got nothng to jangle in your pocket, no coins to rub together and no pot to piss in. So, what chance you got. You ain't, mother fucker." Oscar shook his head.
Bong was just getting warmed up. Bong got his name from carting water pipes and other dope smoking apparatus around. Want a pipe, Bong is your man.
"You got an old lady who will be on your ass and a little one and teenager and no work. This is bout ten minutes. Nobody gets hurt and we can get some change. I'm telling you, mother fucker."
It did look simple. Service station, one attendant.
"I don't know." Oscar watched this BMW pull into the station. "What the fuck," he smiles. "Look like those crackers got them a rider." Underneath the car something was dragging. Looked like two long steel pipes. This white guy gets out, on his knees struggling. "Hey," Oscar calls out, "just back over it."
"Leave them be," Bong said. "Let their asses get gone."
Oscar walked over to the car. "Let me see here." He knelt down. "Damn, this is a low slung car."
"Yeah, I know. The only thing I don't like about it. A little struggle and Oscar stood with the object. "Well, I'll be, an old folks walker." I've seen it all now." He smiled. "A fine 'Beemer' overcome by an old folks walker.

I am at the airport to retrieve my girlfriend. She has been to Omaha to visit her family. I know traffic is going to be a bitch: Friday night, I'm scared of the dark. It goes back to Vietnam. Everything happened at night. You sat around all day waiting and knowing that "Charles" as we called the Vietcong, was going to get your ass in the middle of the night. But, it is worth it all to see my girlfriend. I am like a teenager around her. I can't wait, my blood pressure is sky hight. I get lost going to the airport, a place I've been a thousand times. I see her. It is like she has come back from Vietnam. We hug, kiss, crazy like. Finally make it to car, kiss, hug, touch. Finally get on the road. Run over something in the road. It hangs up under the car. Damn, what a time to have this happen! Can't get it out from under the car. Risk my life almost in traffic. Finally make it to a service station. Black guy yells over telling me to back over the two long aluminum pipes stuck under the car. He walks over, kneels down and wrestles the two pipes out from where they are lodged under the car, takes five minutes. "Thanks."
"No problem," he says as he walks away. On the spot I decide something,
I pull out my money clip. I only have hundreds. What the hell, I give him one. His eyes are big as saucers. He is so happy. "Bong I'm going home."
"Oscar, you stupid fucker, you'll be sorry".

Oscar makes his way toward home. The $100 is going to buy some groceries and give his teenager her lunch money. He stops at the bar. When he pays for his beer with the hundred, the bar keep puts his marker over the hundred twice to see if it is real. "you are a lucky mother fucker."
"yeah, I am."
Oscar yells as he comes in the door. His little one runs to him. Where is your Mom? He heard the TV. His wife is white as a sheet. "What'e Up?"
"Your friend Bong robbed a store and was killed by the police. "

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ray's Book-FireHouses

Making good progressLet's get together just us and talk books. Hank doesn't know shit. You have to admire a guy like Hank, he's out there trying stuff but let us not forget the story Andy told us: the Adm got thrown out of ukelele class because he tried to take over the class as he thought he knew more than the teacher. To me, there are mainly two things that have to be considered: what do you want to do with the book and what are you willing to do. Something like LuLu is OK if you want one copy amd mostly do the work yourself. If you want a really good looking book that you are proud of, you have to go another route and set it up. Let's think toward next week for a sit down. on the rewrite/reprint of the Firehouse Almanac. More consultations in the near term for technical details. Hank has offered to help with the upload to the Web printer. Would you be interested in putting the Airborne Press cachet on this edition? No big deal, I think it would be a good fit.