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Archive for May, 2016

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Momma always says there’s an awful lot you could tell about a person by their shoes. Where they’re going. Where they’ve been. I’ve worn lots of shoes. I bet if I think about it real hard I could remember my first pair of shoes. Momma said they’d take me anywhere. She said they was my magic shoes. – Forrest Gump

It’s funny how the mind works, or doesn’t work as the case might be. I was thinking about Dorothy’s silver shoes (the ones MGM found it necessary to turn ruby red) and my mind went a wanderin’ as it often does when a thought drops into my head.

The meaning and role of the shoes, silver or ruby, in The Wizard of Oz, is something even the very young can grasp. But, thinking outside the shoe box, there is much more to the shoe in fairy tale, fables and folklore.  Shoe expressions have even found a permanent place in our daily lexicon. Three of the most common sayings using shoes are “You won’t understand a man until you walk a mile in his shoes” (moccasins as in the original), “It’s going to be hard to fill your shoes,” and “waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

I don’t think any other item of apparel has gotten as much attention in stories. Where would the Cinderella tale be with out her glass slippers? And while most of us don’t remember the fate of Snow White’s not-so-nice step mother, it was the shoes that done her in when she was forced to step into a pair of red hot iron shoes and had to dance to her death.

Hans Christian Anderson’s telling of the tale about the red shoes has not only earned  a fixed place in literature, it went on to become a classic piece of ballet. And we can’t forget Puss in Boots and the whole idea of the boots of a hundred leagues.

Shoes, sandles, boots and even sneakers, cast a magic spell on us. As a kid, I was convinced that unless you wore Keds, you would be at a disadvantage.

Keds TV commercial from the black and white days

A shoe historian wrote “In Biblical times a sandal was given as a sign of an oath. In the Middle Ages a father passed his authority over his daughter to her husband in a shoe ceremony. At the wedding, the groom handed the bride a shoe, which she put on to show she was then his subject. Today in the U.S. shoes are tied to the bumper of the bridal couple’s car. This is a reminder of the days when a father gave the groom one of his daughter’s shoes as a symbol of a changing caretaker. In China one of the bride’s red shoes is tossed from the roof to ensure happiness for the bridal couple. In Hungary the groom drinks a toast to his bride out of her wedding slipper.”

Maybe my fascination with shoes is genetic.  My Irish great-great-great grandfather was a shoe maker. As a kid I used to like to go to the shoemaker with my father back in the day when you would have shoes repaired (new soles and new heels).  There was just something about a shoemaker’s shop. I found the massive mess confounding because as messy and disorganized as it was, the shoemaker never had a problem locating your shoes!

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 I’ve learned that the shoemaker is often a magical and mystical character in fables and fairy tales. I also learned the difference between a shoemaker and a cobbler.  A shoemaker was considered an artisan while a cobbler held a much lower position because all he did was repair shoes. (Even our language denigrates the cobbler because when we say someone has cobbled something together, the result is usually shabby or second rate.)  The two professions became one when shoe making was industrialized.

I fear that today we’ve lost our ability to grasp onto the symbolic nature of something.  As magical as today’s Nikes are, I can bet that most wearers don’t even give the iconic swoosh a second thought.

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Very few know that the athletic shoe is named after Nike, the Greek Winged goddess, and that the swoosh is her wing.

Dorothy had the power to return home by clicking her heels together (three times). Remember that. And don’t forget what Forrest Gump said about how shoes can reveal a lot about a person’s character.

If the shoe fits, you might consider wearing it. But if it doesn’t, kick it off because you’ll never be able to run like the wind if you’re wearing shoes someone else tells you to wear.

Don’t ever lose the magic of your shoes.

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When I was a boy
World was better spot.
What was so was so,
What was not was not.
Now I am a man;
World have changed a lot.
Some things nearly so,
Others nearly not.

There are times I almost think
I am not sure of what I absolutely know.
Very often find confusion
In conclusion I concluded long ago
In my head are many facts
that, as a student, I have studied to procure,
In my head are many facts..
Of which I wish I was more certain I was sure!

“Is a Puzzlement” from The King and I

I am confused (so what else is new). Of all the things I am confused about I am most recently confused about two labels that seem to get more press during the presidential election process.

Conservatism and liberalism. To some one is a blessing and the other is a curse. Some have no problem wearing one label with pride while demonizing anyone who dares to proclaim they are the “other.”

Dorothy never claimed to be either. And that’s where I stand. Not that I don’t have an opinion. I do. But my opinion  will not win me friends in either camp. To be honest, I have a very hard time stomaching a staunch conservative. They are like an immovable force.  They are so entrenched in  thinking that doesn’t make any sense. But they will go to their craves defending their ultra-conservative vision.

I also want to wretch when I see ultra left wing liberals trample any other viewpoint that does not support their own largely political positions.

I must add that (sometimes) conservatives have a valid point that actually makes sense. I also need to follow that up by saying (sometimes) liberals have a valid point that actually makes sense.

In my experience,some conservatives cling to beliefs without ever, ever being open minded enough to do some self-challenging. Thumping the Bible or some other ancient religious text is not the way to be open minded.

And then we have the liberals who (some) in my experience are selfish and childish people who don’t give a flying fuck about other people who are unwilling to trample any thing that even has a hint of being traditional.

Every day there is another issue that further divides us, another issue that forces some people to espouse either a conservative of liberal POV.

I can’t help but think that to be a conservative means saying NO to any and every thing that is out of their comfort zone. That also makes me think that to be a liberal means saying YES to any and every thing regardless of the consequences.

And…in my opinion staunch conservatives and dyed-in-the-wool liberals rarely care about what their counterparts think.  It seems it’s an all or nothing war and neither side is interested in prisoners like me who believe that everything is not black and white.

It reminds me of a scene in “Fiddler on the Roof” when one of the townspeople makes a claim and Tevye says to him “You’re right.” And then another person says just the opposite. Tevye says, “You’re right. In fact, you’re both right.”  A third man chimes in and says, “They can’t both be right.”

That’s when Tevye said “You know, you’re right, too.”

In my old age am I morphing into Tevye?

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First posted five years ago, I thought it was worth re-posting because where we grew up remains with us no matter how old we get or where we go.

Along The Yellow Brick Road

The cost of gas is through the ceiling and airlines charge for baggage making leisure travel a bit expensive. But there’s one trip you can still take that doesn’t cost a dime…and hopefully you won’t need to carry any ‘baggage.’ It’s a trip down what is commonly called “memory lane.”

Destination for this trip: Lincoln Street, Seaford, NY 11783
The time: From 1953 to the mid sixties.

Lincoln Street was one of those new suburban developments meant to attract GIs from the boroughs  who wanted to raise their children in an idyllic location. I don’t know if Seaford qualifies for idyllic, but it was the closest thing to Norman Rockwell’s America you could ever find. Or at least that’s my opinion.

Consisting of mostly Cape Cods and a few split-levels (with a rumpus room), the denizens of Lincoln Street arrived in 1953, most with one or two kids five and…

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Past commencement speakers at Emerald University didn’t need introductions because they were all iconic figures. Even after Chancellor Green introduced me I could see a sea of puzzled faces asking the question, “Who is she?”

Well, I’ll tell you. I am the Good Witch of the North.

If you saw the movie, you didn’t see me, because my character didn’t make it to the silver screen. Whether the reason for my absence was financial or literary, Glinda did double duty, stealing whatever thunder I had for my brief appearance in L. Frank Baum’s book. .  If you read the book, you’ll remember I didn’t have a name.  All I had was a description:

“The little woman’s hat was pure white. It rose about a foot above her head and was pointed at the tip with little jingle bells which ran all across the brim and made a faint tinkling sound as she moved. She wore a puffy white gown that hung in pleats from her shoulders. Over it were sprinkled little stars and half moons that glistened in the sun like diamonds. The little woman’s face was covered with wrinkles, her eyes were the color of violets, her short curly hair was nearly all white, and she walked rather stiffly, but had a friendly, welcoming smile. ”

Despite such an innocuous characterization, my life mattered as does yours. With social media placing a heavy burden on your shoulders, the thought of being nameless in a selfie world is anathema to you. By the end of the day I can’t tell you how many new profile photos of freshly minted college grads will grace the pages of Face Book. It’s clearly an indication that we want the world to know we are here.

Being the host of a top rated cable talk show, appearing on the cover of some high profile business magazine, going viral, or selling an app for a gazillion dollars, might be what gets your adrenaline flowing. There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of those goals. But.

And by “but” I don’t mean a little “but.”  I mean the big “But” with one “t.” I have to add that in the event I get accused of making some a remark that can be taken the wrong way.

My role in Dorothy’s journey might not get the recognition I believe it deserves, but that really doesn’t matter.  What matters is that I was the one who came to Dorothy’s rescue after she dropped in on us in Oz. I not only welcomed her, I assured her that I was there to help her. When Dorothy told me she wanted to go home, I turned my white cap into a slate that told me to tell Dorothy to follow the Yellow Brick Road to Oz.

Being the least powerful of the four witches of Oz, I couldn’t join Dorothy on her journey, but I didn’t let her go off without me doing something that made all the difference. I placed a special kiss on her fore-head and told her “No one will dare injure a person who has been kissed by the Witch of the North.”

As scary as the deepest and darkest stretches of the Yellow Brick Road might have been, those stretches pale in comparison to the long road you are about to travel. And while I wish I could tell you that a kiss on your forehead will protect you from all the evil people who are out there waiting for you, I would be lying.

So what should you do?  How can you be assured that you will have a safe journey? The answer is as simple as it is complex. If you’ve yet to do it, you need to reach down deep and find your center. You need to align yourself with the spirit of goodness you were born with. You might have forgotten about this center, but it is there.

Don’t confuse this center with a GPS, because if you do, more likely than not it will keep “recalculating.” Your center is your internal compass. You will know in your heart if you are going off course as might be the case because in the end we are only human. But always remember being human should not be used as an excuse.

If you do happen to take a selfie today, take a long, hard look at it and ask yourself, is my face a reflection of the spirit that informs me and drive me, or is it a faceless face.

No matter where you go and no matter what you do, you will never be nameless, because the universe knows who you are.

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authority

While I doubt my blog followers were waiting with baited breath (a weird expression if there ever was one) for me to conclude my tirade on power, here it is, the final installment on the subject.

Power can be terrible or great. It all depends on who holds the power, but in the real world there are more people who believe they have the authority to wield power…when in reality they are despicable human beings.

In the spirit of full disclosure I will be the first to admit I have a serious problem with authority primarily because 99% of the people in my life who have played the authority card are…assholes.

In my vast experience authority is a synonym of bullying. But it shouldn’t be that way. A random search for the definition yielded the following:

“the power to give orders or make decisions : the power or right to direct or control someone or something. : the confident quality of someone who knows a lot about something or who is respected or obeyed by other people.”

Most people who are in positions of authority believe it is all about the power to direct or control…with the emphasis on control.  Very few people in authority are people who are respected or obeyed by other people…with the emphasis not only on being respected outright but are “obeyed” because the individual is respected.

Authority is as much a gift bestowed on the few as it is a burden to be shouldered.

It literally pains me when I witness or hear about the continual misuse of authority. It angers me because people who have been victims of people who abuse their power and authority mainly because these victims have no recourse.

If there is a hell, I hope people who have abused their power and authority are used as kindling.

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