Kirk, Picard, and Little Green Women

Dear reader, I need your advice. Unless you’re a man, you have no idea the pain it causes me to admit this. I have quite literally exposed my throat to you. I am so vulnerable at this moment. Please be gentle.

Actually, it doesn’t bother me in the least to approach you for help. Unlike a lot of guys out there – and bear in mind that I hate to set myself up as a “maverick”, especially these days – asking for advice has never been much of a problem for me.

I think it’s because I’m Jean Luc Picard fan. You know, Star Trek: The Next Generation. Remember? One of the few bald and famous men that most women my age want to “get with”. Being a Picard fan automatically makes me NOT a James T. Kirk fan. These two Starship captains are diametrically apposed archetypes of the human male. If you are unsure of the distinction between the two, have a look at the comparisons linked here and here. Go ahead, check them out, I’ll wait.

Now, it should only take a brief reading of either list to learn that Picard is the archetypal modern western male: educated, diplomatic, and team-oriented. On the other hand, Kirk is a traditional man’s man; sort of a shoot-from-the-hip-Marlboro-man-of-yesterday’s-tomorrow type of guy. While each has their fan-base in the Trekky world, I believe that most guys out there, regardless if they even watch Star Trek, are Kirk fans.

Why’s that? Well, take, for instance, Kirk’s method of decision making: he doesn’t have one. Whatever his gut tells him to do, he does. He rarely defers to crew members for their opinions about the crisis at hand. Oh sure, he may quietly approach Spock or Bones, but that’s simply to solidify the choice he has already made. As one online comparison states: “Kirk was a leader of followers. That’s the only reason he (almost) got away with it.” I’m not entirely sure what Kirk was supposed to have gotten away with, but that’s beside the point.

On the other hand, Picard, when it comes to making decisions, takes a much different road. At a crises point, he sits all the senior officers around the table and asks their opinion. Only after hearing from each officer does he make his decision. I’ve always admired this method of decision making. And that’s why I have never shied away from asking people for advice; the exception of course, being to stop for directions. On that matter, I enjoy nothing more than getting a little lost on a Sunday afternoon.

In fact, these days, I have friends that I go to for advice on specific topics. I have a friend for advice on construction and home improvement. I have a friend for business etiquette advice. I have several friends I go to for advice on writing and poetry. I have a friend who I can always count on for solutions to my computer woes. Finally, I have a friend who can give me the best ideas on things like cutting a deal with my tenants or how to get free cable. This not to mention my membership at Pay Per Law, which for a monthly fee gives me unlimited access to a lawyer on anything from copyright issues to credit card contracts. As anyone can see, I don’t consider it a blow to my ego to ask for advice. Moreover, I may very well be a bit of an advice slut. My question is: why not go to the people who know?

For other guys, however, asking for advice is a humbling exercise, second only to crying. Captain James T. Kirk would NEVER ask for help. In fact he’d rather destroy the ship and its crew before emasculating himself in such a way. For men, it is not only a blow to their ego, it’s as if they are revealing a weakness, a chink in there armour. When guys hug one another, there has to be some added punching and hitting, just to demonstrate that they are still men. And when guys ask for advice, I’ve learned that a jibe or a barb has to be thrown in to let the advice-giver know that he/she isn’t dealing with a eunuch (apologies to any eunuchs reading this).

Take for example, my steady weight loss over the previous year. Anyone who has seen me in the last three months can’t deny the difference in my appearance. This may sound like bragging, but fifty pounds is fifty pounds. In the last three months, no matter what social setting, I have been asked repeatedly how I shed the weight. This has happened so often, in fact, I was tempted to make up little business cards with dietary instructions listed on them. Out of the countless people who’ve asked me for advice on how to lose weight, only three of them were men. Funny thing about the most recent male query: it wasn’t until a couple of hours after he approached me that I realize had actually asked me for advice. While all the women have been clear and direct with their questions such as “How did you lose so much weight?” or “Could you write down for me what you eat?”, this gentleman posed his question as follows: “So, how much did it cost you for your makeover?” Wherefore I told him that food prices aren’t so dear if one shops at No Frills and in Chinatown. Only after I got home did it come to me that this guy wanted to know exactly what women had been asking me, but having to ask it directly would have been too much of a blow to his pride, without the backhanded slant. And who knows? Perhaps if he’d asked me a question directly, he would have benefited from the proper advice.

Even more exasperating, is that there has been one or two occasions where I, minus fifty pounds, have had to sit and listen to dietary advice from male friends who have been struggling with their weight for years. Really though, this shouldn’t be much of a surprise because Captain James T. Kirk doesn’t take advice, he only gives orders and kills or screws anything green.

And herein lays the problem: to ask for advice is to admit that you are not Kirk, but Picard. And face it, deep down inside, all men, even myself at moments of weakness, admire Captain James T. Kirk as the man they’d like to be: strong, independent, virile, and fear Jean Luc Picard as the man they actually are: bald, book-smart, and fond of Earl Grey Tea.

In conclusion, my advice on asking for advice, if you’ll allow it, is to treat your query like a compliment. Yes, a compliment. People love to talk about what they know. As men, you should already be aware of this. Giving compliments might seem a bit weird to you, but since you all insist on being the swashbuckling Captain of the Enterprise, I will go one step further and advise you to imagine the person you are approaching as a little green female alien. Little green female aliens are by and large harmless, and as every manly Captain knows, love receiving compliments.

October’s Top Five Vids.

Funny, but a little scary, too.
 

5. Just a song. From one buddy to another. Really.


 

4. Wait until the end for the scary bit.


 

3. Joseph Cohen: Fundamentalist Muslim. Is it just me, or does anyone else hear Woody Allen?


 

2. The Holy Spirit can block your gay-dar.


 

1. Winner. No explanation needed.


 

Mother Elegy

by guest poet Luciano Iacobelli 

 

Mother rolled her own dough
and made her own pasta.
The sauce, produce from backyard tomatoes,
simmered daily on the elements.
Little read splotches covered the stove top.

She couldn’t understand
why I rejected the home cooking:
tired of the food I’d known all my life,
I ate sandwiches in restaurants.

But one Sunday afternoon, I stayed home
and stared at her as she shelled peas,
stared at the light reflecting
off the metal bowl, stared around the kitchen,
at the arrangement of utensils, and thought to myself,
my God, what a picture this is!
When my mother wasn’t looking,
I dipped my finger in the sauce
and an old appetite returned.

That same day she complained of an ache.
A few weeks later we were told the worst.
A few months more, she was
an emaciated memory.

After the funeral, I sat on the back porch
and my grief was a bright red geranium,
the weeds were the garden’s condolence,
the morning glories clung desperately
to the railing, and I was hungry for the meals
I had once refused to eat.

 

 

As appears in Luciano Iacobelli’s The Angel Notebook (Seraphim Editions: Hamilton, 2007). Luciano Iacobelli can be reached through his website at http://www.lyricalmyricalpress.com/

For the Love of God

I’m part of an Evangelical Christian email list. Long story. Anyway, I receive from time to time email newsletters from various church-goers, often providing me and others on the mailing list with their own perspective on Canadian and world events. The following is one I found in my in-box this morning. I have removed the name of the its author.

Please keep in mind, I did not post this for the sake of ridicule. The voice of the writer, I believe evokes best of intentions. Whether these intentions have been properly placed or not I leave up to you to decide. Though I am trying to keep this preface short, I will state however, that if there is any doubt that religious groups like this are organized and active in Canadian politics as much as they are in that of the US, letters like this should put that doubt to rest. (Also, see Charles McVety )

I can’t state more without tarnishing the reader’s perspective on this letter. So I will save my second point until afterwards.


Dear Friends.

(sorry about the bold—I can’t fix it.) Just finished 25 hours of fasting, soaking, praying, repenting—-following is an account from Christians from Jerusalem re Yom Kippur.

These High Holy Days –from the Jewish New Year, to Yom Kippur to Succot or Tabernacles corresponds to a time which G-d, not the Jews, declared as Holy. Just cuz some emperor in Rome changed the months, date, Sabbath, etc in the 3rd Century does not mean that G-d has forgotten HIS calendar. It is no co-incidence that various Christian fasts and prayers times are going on now.

This New Year/ Rosh Hashana, is 7 years after Sept 11, it ends the season of 60th birthday for Israel and Jerusalem’s 40th. I knew change had to come—wow—look at the banks, stock markets, mortgages—Bankers in Paris are praying in their lunch times!

With 2 upcoming elections, Christians must pray and research and vote. This vote is critical. Since Sept 11 2001, (7 years ago) there has been a surge in anti-Semitism and backlashes against Jews. I used to walk through Thornhill Festival and see lots of Stars of David around necks. For some years now, I haven’t seen any (but there are lots of Muslim headscarves).

With the panic on the stock markets, and Jews heading the banking sector, we need to pray that a horrible backlash doesn’t occur. We MUST vote on Tuesday, and choose the only man who has the know how to protect our economy, and the only one with the courage to stand with Israel.

Stephen Harper saw this economic crisis coming and put in measures to protect Canada, a year ago! Wow. The US banks are approaching Canadian banks and asking for our help, cuz we are in good shape!

The National Post endorsed him as the only capable one.

Yesterday the Globe reluctantly endorsed him as the only capable leader—unheard of!

And I just read an enlightening article in the Sun about his high school reunion in Etobicoke last week. The reporter went looking for even one bad story about Stephen Harper in High School could find nothing bad about Stephen Harper—he was brilliant, shy, honest and well liked.

We MUST bring Stephen Harper back—make sure all your friends vote.

Just want to acknowledge all our Christian friends who are in Israel now, or en route, to celebrate Tabernacles. [section removed for privacy of names mentioned]

They are obedient to G-d’s word where it says in Zachariah that all the Nations/Goyim will go to Jerusalem to celebrate the Lord during Succot.

Pray that they have a wonderful time, that they fall even more in love with their G-d and understand HaShem’s heart for His Beloved Jerusalem and Israel. Pray that HaShem, who neither slumbers nor sleeps, will protect Israel, as His Word promises.

Blessings,
 
 

Ahem, now to the second and final point about this letter. I mentioned in a previous article, that reality has kindly removed most of my faith in a supreme being. But, if there is providence of any kind, it gave me a little nudge today – the same day I received the above newsletter – when I chose to listen to a podcast of Karen Armstrong. She is a British scholar in comparative religions. I only mention her because, more than the topic of the upcoming election, that of Israel dominates the letter. And one cannot mention Israel without mentioning something about Islam, as the writer does. Perhaps it was providence that also made one particular part of Karen Armstrong’s speech stick in my mind. It is as follows: People seem to equate religious faith with believing things. We call religious people often “believers”, as though that was the main thing they do. And very often secondary goals get pushed into the first place, in place of compassion and the Golden Rule, because the Golden Rule is difficult…because a lot of religious people prefer to be right rather than compassionate.

In 2008 Armstrong called for a council of Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders create a Charter of Compassion, and agreement that would help push the current world ethos beyond mere tolerance. Upon listening to her speech, some have find her tone towards a multi-religion world quite balanced. Others do not. The following is a comment copied form the TED Talks website, and if it doesn’t peek your interest about Karen Armstrong, I don’t know what will:

I simply can’t believe what I read, if anybody here is impress in the slighest way by what this lady says, then they should bowing down 24 hours a day at the feet of Jesus. What kind of evil is this, they worship the saying of this lady, but Jesus was ok, I mean, you have got to give Jesus some credit after all, he is just the most famous person on earth, I mean just a little respect for Jesus, people.

Jesus is the only hero, everyone else pales in comparison, his teachings have no parallels. You God dammed people, I don’t believe in hell, but if there was such a place, I wish you would all end up there. The bible is right, you worship the creature, more than the creator. You don’t deserve to have a brain, let alone a mind.

You come here to listen to this lady and to listen to Richard Dawkins rant and rave about God, and you worship this people, and you expect me to think highly of you, you are trash of the lowest kind. Your compassion is an abomination to God and if there is no God, then your compassion is hypocrisy, it’s what you do in public so that others can say how compassionate you are. But then you turn around and commit adultery, or lie, or deciet others in business. Who the hell told you that you were good and holy, God dammed you people.

We have much work to do. The first step is to get out and vote.

Now, I don’t mean to mix politics with religion on my own site. But in my own defense, I’ll just take from my religious background and state that the lord moves in mysterious ways.

But for the Lord’s sake, VOTE!!