My Little Buddy by Lisa Montagne

T-bird.1For a decade, I had an extremely unique car. He made everyone smile. At least once a day, my Little Buddy the T-bird made at least one other person besides me happy, and sometimes many more. I loved him. He was faithful, loyal, and brave through 114,000 miles and a decade together. He had a powerful V-8 engine under his hood, and he was 252 horsepower-full of fun. He was a rare gem with white-and-black leather seats and a smooth-to-the-touch, ivory stick shift. He even got excellent gas mileage and immaculate emissions reports.

T-bird4 I have included a photo here of the original 1955 mint-green model, the very first Ford Thunderbird. My Little Buddy was made in this signature color: Only 50 in this color were in the 11th generation of T-birds, the last series, which was produced only from 2002-2005, and I had one of them. I saw another mint-green signature model from the same series only one time, up in L.A. at the corner of Sunset and Coldwater Canyon in Beverly Hills. I waved enthusiastically; he did not wave back. Snob, I thought. I had my Little Buddy, and he had me; we were not alone.

Sadly, my Little Buddy was struck down in his prime on March 2, 2014. He has been mourned and very much missed. I had hoped we would be together for another decade, but unfortunately Ford (absurdly) decided not to support these little beauties, and no parts were available to rebuild him. He was finally relinquished to the insurance company, but not before I laid myself across his hood in the parking lot of the Ford dealership body shop and wept like a B movie queen. My only consolation is that his engine—like donating a heart—likely went to a Jaguar in need. The stereo system—like a kidney—went to my brother’s family. Continue reading

The Wall-e Syndrome or The Consequences of Materialism by Rebecca Rathfelder

wall-eIn anthropology, there is a definition of culture that describes it as both abstract concepts and the physical tools by which human society adapts to nature and nature to human society (“Culture,” pars. 5-6). Whether these physical tools aid in the gathering of resources or provide a barrier between humans and the elements, these physical tools—these material objects—serve a vital function for civilization. As such, some form of materialism is necessary for human societies to thrive.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFurthermore, materialism as a system of thought can be traced back to the 4th century B.C.E and the ancient Greek philosopher Democritus. This belief system holds that “the nature of the world [is] entirely dependent upon matter, [which is] the fundamental and final reality beyond which nothing need be sought”(“Materialism,” par. 1). This definition, though extreme, coincides with the reality that human society depends upon, and thus defines itself by, material goods to some degree. More currently, however, the word materialism refers to the importance of material goods in society, implying that the concern that materialistic people have for material objects is excessive (Goldsmith, par. 2). This negative connotation is not without basis. Materialism has evolved in modern society into over-consumerism, the consumption of material goods disproportionately in excess of the resources available to the consumer to acquire goods and beyond what is strictly necessary to live (par. 3). So, despite its necessity in society as a whole, in practice materialism has resulted in several negative consequences that plague modern society and not only damage society in the short term but are also not sustainable in the long term.

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Sex on Television? Yes, Please! by Lisa Montagne

LisaSum14According to the wisdom of half-hour American sit-coms, most “normal” women are either not interested in sex, or they use it as a control mechanism. The usual scene on these shows plays out something like this: A middle-aged husband and wife are sitting up in bed, reading or watching TV. The man tries to bargain for the sex that his wife—naturally—is withholding. She feigns a “headache,” and hilarity ensues. Ha, ha.  At the end of the scene, the woman looks like she is in charge, but she also looks like a giant prude, while the husband looks like a humiliated child who is denied his lollipop after dinner.

Perhaps in the 1980s this was a new kind of trope, but in 2014 it is more than tired. There are too many problems with this scene for me to address here; for example, in real life, it is actually much more likely to be the middle-aged man with the “headache” in this scenario. You would think given the frequency with which Viagra commercials fly through the air that people would pick up on this, but, no, even the men in Viagra commercials are horn dogs—even when they aren’t.  The crux of television often getting sex scenes so wrong, especially in scenes involving characters over the age of 40, stems from the writers of these sit-coms and television commercials, who are mostly 20-something men who have no real idea what goes in the bedrooms of people over 40. Still, people watch and laugh. Continue reading

Sexuality: A Natural State of Being by Rebecca Rathfelder

The main basis for the argument against gay-marriage and homosexual relationships in general is the misconception that the current state of marriage, an endeavor of love between one man and one woman, is what marriage has always been for millennia across the world. However, this assumption flies in the face of historical fact, which holds that marriage was a contractual relationship between families, requiring little to no consent from the parties involved. Furthermore, polygamy has, historically, been more common than monogamy. Homosexual relationships, as in sexual intimacy between individuals of the same sex, have also been prominent features of some cultures historically, most notably the Greeks. Both of these examples of relationship types were acceptable, in some form or another, in many cultures in the pre-Christian world, as evidenced by the numerous concubines possessed by Jewish Kings. Homosexuality was accepted even in the Christian dominated Western World until the fourteenth century, when the Catholic Church made the monarchs and princes of Europe capitulate to their demands to make homosexuality, what they termed “sodomy,” a criminal offense. The prejudice and bias against homosexuality that many still face in modern society sprung from this movement. Recently, however, several scientific studies have gone a long way to demystify sexuality as a whole and homosexuality in particular. They point towards hormonal and genetic origins for homosexuality. Given the historical facts and the scientific data, there should be more tolerance for the various types of marriage relationships.

Though proponents of heterosexual monogamy may claim that marriage between one man and one woman is a tradition that is a pillar of civilization, it is a relatively recent interpretation of marriage. Continue reading

The Love Farmer by Joe Janicki

Relationships are what we make them. There is no prescription. And every relationship is different. They all consist of different formulas of chemistry. Regardless of age, gender, or class, we will build relationships with people we feel connections with. As the connections get stronger, relationships become more serious, and the ones with the weakest connections may fall away. But there are a select few that grow stronger, and those relationships will last a lifetime.

A while ago, I heard a character in a movie say, “Find someone that makes you happy, and never let them go.” I have incorporated this principle into measuring my relationships. I ask my girlfriend, “Do I make you happy?” While I am on vacation with a couple of buddies, I ask “Are you guys happy?”

For me, happiness can be defined by little things, such as do I make my friends happy? Unfortunately, I think a lot of people mistake the word for something else. I live in Orange County, California, and people here have a reputation for valuing possessions rather than the people who have the possessions. For me, joy is the definition of happiness, and that joy is only derived from taking pleasure in everyday interactions with those in my life. And when another person and I are enjoying each other’s company, I know we have a true and established relationship. We give and receive gifts of memories, bliss, and affection. I must share the experiences and the emotions of those moments in order to bond with that person, because a relationship is constructed from the gift of happiness. Continue reading