Archive for the ‘Lion’ Category


Illustration credit: http://www.freakingnews.com/Donald-Trump-the-Scarecrow-Without-a-Brain-Pictures-140003.asp

What do President Donald Trump, Hamlet, and The Wizard of Oz have in common?  A lot. Let me go right to a snippet of Hamlet’s often quoted soliloquy on man:

What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god!
the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals!
And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?

At first glance it appears that Hamlet is giving a glowing review of man. But when the quote is taken apart and the exclamation points are changed to question marks as they are in some versions of the text, the meaning changes completely. And I believe it is closer to Shakespeare’s intended meaning.

Consider the current meaning of the expression “you’re a piece of work.”  It’s not a compliment. It’s an insult.

So, with that said, if we insert this meaning into the Hamlet quote with the change in punctuation, we come away understanding that man is not noble in reason, not infinite in faculty, etc.

To Trump’s supporters the exclamation points remain. To his detractors the question marks are in place.

For a minute take Trump’s campaign rhetoric and his political moves out of the equation and look at Trump the man, the mere mortal.  Contrary to the saying about actions speaking louder than words, President Trump’s action and words speak out loud and clear.  As a businessman he might be the great and powerful wizard, but as a man, he is a humbug.

Put Trump in Oz and he would fire the Wizard and take over control of the Wonderful Land of Oz. Where the original Wizard might have put green glasses on all the people in the Emerald City to convince them they were seeing what he wanted them to see, he knew in his heart he was misleading the people. (Take note of the word “mislead.”  It literally means to lead people astray.)

In Wizard Trump’s case, he actually believes in his “humbugary.” In truth he is the scarecrow in need of a thoughtful brain. He is also the Tin Man, in need of a compassionate heart. And he is the Lion, but not the Lion who knows he lacks courage. He is the Lion who believes he is the King of the Forest. A lion who roars, rages and tweets.

I have lived through the “reign” of a dozen presidents. My view of them as political leaders means less to me than my view of them as men. I judge them using the checklist in Hamlet’s speech.  I want a person in the White House who is noble in reason, a person who is admirable, and a person who is in action like an angel.

There’s no doubt that Obama, Bush and Clinton might have fallen short in many human areas. However, they were elevated by the office of the presidency and more often than not acted accordingly.

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Word went out on March 30, 2017 that Crayola was going to retire Dandelion, one of eight new colors introduced in 1990. Dandelion wasn’t the first color to be retired. Six colors introduced along with 32 other colors in 1903 when Crayola changed the way we colored as children, bit the dust seven short years later in 1910 (RIP: Permanent Geranium Lake, Dark Venetian Red, Light Venetian Red, Celestial Blue, Charcoal Grey and Raw Sienna.

Yellow crayons have never been given their due in Crayola’s long history.  It should come as no surprise that word of Dandelion’s retirement was met with a degree of sadness on the YBR for two reasons, the first being the direct connection with the Cowardly Lion (The word dandelion is a corruption of the French “dent de lion” – the lion’s tooth) and the second has to do with the “yellow brick road.”

For the moment let’s forget about the color and name connection of the soon to be retired crayon and focus on the word “retired.”

While many people are overjoyed when they “retire,” there are some who rue the day when they are the guest of honor at their own retirement gala. Being retired is, in some ways, like being taken off the shelf.   In baseball jargon it means to be put out…not a very positive term.

With a growing number of baby boomers choosing not to “retire” either because they like to work or because they have no choice, the word retirement needs to be…retired.

We have been conditioned to look upon the time we spend toiling in the market place working or tending a career as the penultimate time of our lives.

I disagree.  While it might be our longest stretch, it does not have to be the most important part of our lives, nor should it be the defining time of our lives.

Consider this. In our youth we don’t say we’ve retired from high school or college. We say we’ve graduated.  The word graduate carries with it a forward motion.  It means growth as in taking the next step.

I say that instead of anyone of us “retiring,” I think we should say we are graduating, graduating to another level in life.

Crayola might be retiring “dandelion,” but our true color never has to, nor should it ever… retire.

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I’m in the state of confusion, the 51st state of the Union where I seem to have taken up permanent residence.  Lately I’m very confused about the definition of words we toss around with reckless abandon.  Words like Democrat and Republican, in my opinion, are totally useless words that should be banned from use in private or public.  But words like conservative and liberal are two words that need some attention.

The dictionary defines the two this way as adjectives:

liberal – open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values.
conservative – holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion.

The “troubling” words in the liberal definition are “willing to discard,” because discard is so close in meaning to toss or throw away like a piece of trash. The words “cautious about change” in the definition of conservative are, in my opinion, less offensive, but can easily be used to stop progress.

What I hate about the two words, aside from their lame definitions, is the fact that both words have driven a wedge between us.

I am a conservative.  I conserve water, energy, and natural resources.  I am a liberal. I am liberal with the time I spend helping other people, in using my money to help the less fortunate, and in praising people when praise is deserved.

But, I am not so cautious about change, when change is beneficial to us all, even if it might benefit some more than others.  I am not willing to discard traditional values without some gut-wrenching decision-making because, as Tevye said in Fiddler on the Roof, “without our traditions our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof.

I have no problem embracing relationships of and between genders. I have no problem with people who are working hard to legalize marijuana. I am a big supporter when it comes to making sure everyone’s rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are defended. I am not a big, vocal proponent of abortion, but, I am against making it illegal because that won’t work.  Does that mean I’m too weak to defend the lives of the unborn? No.  It just means that I think a woman does have a right to make a decision despite the fact that I believe life is life…but a life has to be wanted, and I don’t buy the argument about so many couples want to adopt children.  (The issue is far too complex to fit into a blog.)

But I also fear that we are living in a society where anything goes without giving a second thought to traditional values that perhaps might  have some permanence and universal viability. These values, in my opinion, include respect, honesty, tolerance, selflessness, compassion, etc.  My conservative genes believe that today it is hard to maintain values in a world that spins on an axis of entitlement.

When I was in college during the big anti-war movement of the 60s, I was amazed how a “liberal” student could come home from a peace march and turn up his stereo to a deafening volume, but would say “fuck off” to a conservative, aka, hawk, when asked if the stereo could be scaled back.

I sometimes believe that extreme liberals and conservatives make it hard for all of us to create a world of mutual respect and admiration.  There are numerous forks in the road and we have to believe that not all of the roads to the left need be taken nor should we take all of the roads to the right. As a secular people we have to understand that our rights can be found in our founding documents. As a secular people we also need to know that we have a right to make changes in our laws and that our “laws” are not necessarily sacred.

Progress is not a dirty word. It does not, pardon the expression, trump, using our heads or following our hearts in the pursuit of creating a just world.  It does mean it is going to take a lot of internal courage to support justice for all.


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world in hands

Rather than hold YBR blog followers in suspension anymore, I’ll reveal the word I believe should forever replace tolerate and any of its forms. Embrace.

Why replace tolerate with embrace. Largely because I believe the word tolerate can’t shed the idea that people who just put up with something or someone (often reluctantly) can claim to be tolerant.

I don’t think people should fly under the radar by claiming to be tolerant when they are not always invested in what they are tolerating.

I propose that the real word should be embrace. The dictionary defines embrace this way:

(v) accept or support (a belief, theory, or change) willingly and enthusiastically; (n) an act of accepting or supporting something willingly or enthusiastically.

The difference between tolerating and embracing can be found in the willingness or enthusiasm attached to embracing something.

To embrace something or someone is an active process where toleration can often be a passive activity. When you embrace something you actually have to “wrap” your mind and heart around it. You willing accept it. You just don’t deal with it or put up with it.

Think about it. And be honest. How many people, things, ideas, notions, etc. do you merely tolerate because you do it because it’s politically correct, the thing to do, or because you have nothing to lose by tolerating it.

If you have your heart and mind in that which you tolerate, you can proudly say that you embrace it.

In time, I think if you can wrap your head around the point of this blog, you can embrace embracing,

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May you think more deeply, more objectively and in particular….more openly,because there’s
nothing worse than a mind closed to new ideas and new ways of thinking.

tin man

May you learn the real meaning of love and understand that
a heart is not measured by how much you love, but how much you are loved…and
to be loved you have to be willing to have your heart broken.


May you have the courage not only to stand up for what is wrong,
but the courage to speak up and out about what is right. Remember, it’s
a lot easier to swim up-stream with the masses, than it is to
paddle down stream…alone.

wizard commencement

May you learn to see your gifts and learn to use them
for a greater good.


You’ve always had the power inside you. There’s no app for that.


Always remember: There IS no place like home!

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If you have a mailbox, own a phone, or drive around town, you know that it’s election time. And unlike Christmas, it’s not the most wonderful time of year. The political campaign “literature” is cheap, pathetic, tasteless, and worst of all, bull shit. It’s a shame that our politicians, both the home-grown variety and state and national candidates, only reach out to us when they want our vote. Following is the text of a speech given by the Cowardly Lion who is not afraid to speak his mind on political manure:

“Candidates of all parties, gender, race, creed and color, lend me your ears. What the hell is wrong with you?  Do you think we’re all stupid?  Your flyers, mailers and television ads are an embarrassment. Maybe blind political party followers believe the crap that you are shoveling, but the majority of us say enough is enough!  If any of you office seekers actually did a small fraction of what you claim you did, then why are we stuck in a quagmire? And, if your opponents only did a small percentage of the things you accuse them of doing or failed to do while in office, why aren’t there more investigations and arrests?

When are you going to get it through your thick, manicured heads, that in the end, the winner is sent to represent “all” of us…not just those people who voted for you.

Don’t you realize that every slur you make about your opponent might come back to haunt us if he/she wins? If you have done a job convincing the electorate that your opponent is an idiot, but you didn’t do “a good enough job” to get elected, you have essentially sent a jerk into office.

Do us all a favor. Be honest and avoid slinging the mud. Let us decide.

I approve this speech.”

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If the tension in the Middle East, the barbarism of ISIS, the world economy and the breakdown of security in America weren’t enough for us to deal with, we can now add Ebola to our plate of concerns. While Oz was known to have its problems…houses fallng from the sky, bad witches making serious threats, flying monkeys, etc., our problems are weighing down our fragile spirits.

What we are in desperate need of is a hero. Perhaps more than one is needed, but other than going to our favorite deli and ordering one, where in the world are we going to find the perfect hero? In the White House? In the halls of Congress? In the corridors of the Fortune 500? Among religious leaders? In Hollywood?

You know the lyric from the pop tune “looking for love in all the wrong place?”  Well, if we going looking for a hero in some of the aforementioned places, we’ll be looking in all the wrong places.

It’s very important to understand that while we think of our times as “the best of times and the worst of times<” we are not alone in our thinking.  There has never been a time in human history that did not try men’s souls. Humanity seems to have a pretty crappy track record in many regards.  In the last century alone there were over 270 wars, civil and otherwise, around the world, with a los of over 77 million people.  How many of those who were casualties of war might have been the hero the world was looking for?  And as fearful as we are of the possible spread of Ebola, consider the millions of people who died during the raging spread of the Spanish Flu (1918/19). How many heroes did we bury in early graves?

Today Americans are looking to the man in the White House for the hero we want to save the world.  Guess what?  The hero we need is not living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And that’s not meant to be an attack on President Obama. Considering the number of problems he’s facing at home and abroad, it is totally unfair for us to expect him to wave a magic wand and make all our problems go away.

Diseases, a bad economy and internal strife can all be dealt with if we put aside our prejudices and political beliefs. We can help turn the course of humanity in the right direction if we follow the yellow brick road…a raod paved with kindness, consideration and compassion.

But, it’s going to take a lot more than that to end the hatred the seems to be growing like a cancer around the world.  We will not find a cure for this cancer if we attack it with closed minds.  That doesn’t mean we have to condone any of the heinous acts committed in the name of religion. What we have to do is face some hard, cold facts.  Religion is, in my opinion, the cause of most of our problems. Not that religion is wrong, per se, but it is the stringent list of doctrines and sometimes archaic beliefs that instead of opening our hearts, bind them with heavy chains.

People are continually debating over wether or not the Koran calls for the blood of infidels. The debate is futile, because if even only one person is a “believer” of such an inhuman doctrine, there is a chance that such a belief will be embraced by hundreds, thousands and even millions.

Wanting a hero is a noble belief, but we have to be careful for what we wish for, because the perfect hero might not necessarily be an American, nor might such a fantastic hero actually be on board with everything we believe.

Alas. Our journey for the perfect hero is more than likely going to end up the way it did for Dorothy when, with the help of Toto, unmasked the less than great and powerful Wizard of Oz.

The real hero is inside each and every one of us. Every opportunity we have to be selfless and act for the good of others with no expectations, is one small step in finding the perfect hero. – Eleanor Roosevelt

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