Donald #Trump is Prince Hal, not Henry V. Here’s how you can spot the tells.

Cleaning up this mess? That would be women’s work.

Cleaning up this mess? Now that would be women’s work.

Once more unto the breach:

This weekend’s events demonstrate that newly-anointed President Donald Trump is an Incandescent temperament, not a Driven personality.

(Say whuuut? If you’re new, here’s the Cliff’s Notes on DISC my way.)

To Church:

Filling in the blanks:

Donald Trump’s fatal conceit? You can’t fake leadership.

Seeing Claudius from Hamlet as an overmatched Incandescent.

By taking account of the Driven and Incandescent empathy strategies discussed here, it will prove possible over time to predict what Trump will do and to posit what an actually-Driven personality would do instead.

What if Trump tries to fake the Driven strategy? That’s what he’s been trying to do all along – all his life! – “by gut.” But you can’t fake leadership, and you can’t fake magnanimity for long. Humiliation rankles the Incandescent in ways none of the rest of us can fully understand.

Accordingly: Trump will out.

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Making a #MyKindOfBenedy-making machine.

Like everything else, the art of romance is upside down. Righting it is simply a matter of demonstrating why well-working real-life romances work so well: Because there is a man in charge.Photo by: Andrew Crump

Like everything else, the art of romance is upside down. Righting it is simply a matter of demonstrating why well-working real-life romances work so well: Because there is a man in charge.Photo by: Andrew Crump

A while ago I wrote about using the Judds’ song “Why Not Me?” as a sort of chorus for understanding a type of second-chance-at-love love story:

As story, it’s “Thunder Road” inverted, which I think is fun. But as cinema, it’s a sweet rom-com aimed right at the sweet spot in the rom-com marketplace: People who are ten years late to the wedding chapel. Showing how to make that kind of romance endure happily will prove to be a growth industry.

In preference to thinking about Trump, I thought up a story like that in the shower yestermorning, and in the process thought about a way to build a #MyKindOfBenedy content machine.

First the yarn, a 90-minute feature:

Mister Peterson’s Dowry – a romantic comedy of manners and marriage

The chorus, revisited repeatedly throughout, is a couple in formal attire making passionate love in a snowed-in car. We see their furtive frenzy progressing against windows blanketed in snow.

The couple is rushing home from their participation in a wedding party – rushing in the vain hope that they will miss the snowstorm. When they become trapped and are obliged to wait, they are thereby engaged in an encounter neither one can escape.

She’s 30 and the divorced mother of two kids. He’s 32, never married. They’re seeing each other exclusively, and she wants to know – in light of the matrimonial celebration – when he’s going to commit.

The ensuing conversation, fleshed out with flashbacks, is his negotiation of the terms on which he will marry her: “You’re recruiting me. I’m not recruiting you. What do you have to offer me compared with what I’d be putting at risk?”

The story is male leadership in marriage, so he secures the dowry he needs to secure all of their futures, with the consummation of their love-making being the seal on their bond – their marriage.

And seven of those words – “the story is (more…)

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How I justify my long-standing policy of racial profiling.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
If we should judge people by the content of their character, the black middle-class is getting screwed.dbking / Foter / CC BY

One of the more repellent tropes of race relations, by me, is the deeply earnest white guy who is trying way too hard to prove he is not racist — which of course proves to me he is. People who have no hatred for baseball don’t feel any huge need to talk about how baseball-tolerant they are. That this fellow is almost always an avowed Marxist does nothing to improve my opinion of him, and, of course, it is avowed Marxists like him who have destroyed education, turning all of America into a vast racial-grievance-mongering machine.

As a doctrine, if you can even call it a doctrine, racism is simply Collectivism-for-dummies, an EZ-reading way to rationalize obvious injustice under the color of ‘even-better-justice.’ This is true no matter what race is hating which other race — or all other races.

Race itself is a useless standard for judging the character and behavior of individual people, just as height or place-of-birth would be. The characteristic being pounced upon, whatever it might be, is meaningless to the task at hand: The person you want to malign absent any valid evidence could not control for the despised characteristic, and being short or from Fiji or black or white or yellow are not indicia of character or behavior in any case.

Racism asserts propositions that cannot possibly be true, because failures of character or behavior — as well as acts of virtue! — can only be attributes of specific individuals, never of identity groups.

But racism as a doctrine is not very interesting to me. Among white people whom I’ve met, it is exceedingly rare. Among black people I’ve met, it is more common. But among all dogmatic racists I have encountered, the characteristic the adherents had in common was a matter of character, not identity: Racists are profoundly ignorant people who are doing nothing to correct their ignorance.

But so what? Ignorant people are powerless people. Racism matters not because dumb people think and say dumb things, but (more…)

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From Traindancing: The life cycle of the mall, how the ducks get plucked.

“Oh, the huge Manatees! Oh, the huge Manatees!” I hear that sometimes, in the chuffa-chuffa rhythms of the train. What started as a tiny minority of very fat people – mainly very old, very fat people – has become a stout plurality of the middle aged. And the out-waisting of the Western world includes almost all of us, not just the folks who have already broken the bathroom scale. It is rare at the mall to see anyone older than a teenager who is not continuously outgirthing his clothes, and it is not at all rare to see two- and three-year-old incipient Manatees.

“Oh, the huge Manatees! Oh, the huge Manatees!” I hear that sometimes, in the chuffa-chuffa rhythms of the train. What started as a tiny minority of very fat people – mainly very old, very fat people – has become a stout plurality of the middle aged. And the out-waisting of the Western world includes almost all of us, not just the folks who have already broken the bathroom scale. It is rare at the mall to see anyone older than a teenager who is not continuously outgirthing his clothes, and it is not at all rare to see two- and three-year-old incipient Manatees.

Just for fun, here’s slab of red meat from Traindancing, a book of Willie stories I’m working on about the choo-choo train at the mall.

This is ha-ha fun stuff, but it’s also a fun way for me to wrestle with the canons of art: How tiny a stage can I use to enact all the universe? That much is humor for one, I guess, but without humor for one there would be no Willie stories.

This bit is extracted from Like Holden Caulfield – the second time as farce: Turning the mirror on Loco Willie:

More grotesque than the Grotesques at the mall, for all of me, are too many of the Normals.

First we have the sheer weight of these creatures, with the outrageous corpulence of Americans being a recent, and, we can hope, a temporary phenomenon. I called all of the morbidly obese mall patrons Manatees, at first, but I’ve since developed gradations of gluttony: Turnips are almost normal-sized at the head and ankles, but they bulb out like, well, turnips, in-between. Manatees are wide everywhere, even at the face, and they look like big rounded boxes from the shoulders down. Double-Wides are even-huger Manatees, and there are even some Triple-Wides out there, still able to lumber along on feet all-but-enveloped by their own ankle-fat.

All of these folks are big front-to-back, as well as side-to-side, so they seem to sail slowly through the mall like so many (so very many!) ungainly yachts. And while it may (more…)

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Some days the train robs you: Desperados waiting for the hearse.

“Some days you rob the train, some days the train robs you.”Photo by: Syuzo Tsushima

A Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie story

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The saddest questions are the ones you already know the answers to, without having to ask.

“Awb oar!” the little boy said – all aboard! – but he was too big to speak that small. Except of course he wasn’t.

“His name is Christian.” Joe said that to me, a few months ago. He was speaking of his great-grandson, who was flailing his way onto the Coal Tender car of the Arrowhead mall choo-choo train, the open car just behind the faux locomotive.

I nodded. “And so is yours.”

I met Joe and Christian and Martha, Joe’s wife, just after New Year’s Day, the very first Saturday of a brand new year. I had just started driving the train, but they were old hands, and Christian has been a train fanatic forever.

How long is forever? That’s one of the questions I don’t ask. At a guess, I’d say Christian is eight years old, but I’m an easy sell on six or ten.

I haven’t asked what’s wrong with him, either, but it’s a lot: Random and unreliable muscle control coupled with a significant mental disability. Christian can want as well as any Toddler, and as stridently. He can intend for his muscles, but they will not cooperate for him, not well and not for long. He does almost everything he can do with help from Martha. He can verbalize, again like a Toddler – making sounds that are less than abstract ideas but still more than mere grunts – but he cannot conceptualize, as far as I’ve seen, and it’s plausible to me that he never will.

And I haven’t asked what Christian’s deal is, either, but this is what I know for sure: Christian’s deal is Joe and Martha. Your kid’s kid’s kid is your kin, and even if no one else stepped up to take care of Christian, Joe and Martha did.

And that’s saying something, because they’re no kids themselves. Joe was an Army Chaplain in Vietnam, and he has (more…)

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Finding visibility, absolution and closure at the choo-choo train at the mall on New Year’s Eve.

Woo-woo!

Woo-woo!

A Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie story

December 31, 2015

When I got back with the train, the Lonely Guy was still sitting there on the bench across the way, his elbows on his knees, his palms supporting his chin.

I had one passenger, a three-year-old girlchild in a red velvet gown, her platinum-blonde hair done up in dainty little curls. As I helped her out of the little red caboose, I said, “Wow, this is going to be a big year for you. In this New Year, you’re going to double in size and quadruple in brain-power!” To her mother I added, “You might make a smartphone video today, so the two of you can watch it this time next year. She’ll be amazed, by then, by how much she will have changed.”

To this the mom replied nothing, but the little girl gave me a tiny wave as they walked away, saying “Tankyew!” over her shoulder.

I smiled. “Happy New Year, sugar.”

I looked back over at the Lonely Guy, to let him know I was watching him. He cocked his head with a silent “Yo,” the way men have of letting each other know that they have seen each other, and that was that – for then.

I had three rambunctious brothers to deal with, each of whom wanted to ride in – perchance to disassemble – his own train car.

And, yes, Uncle Willie is driving the choo-choo train at the mall this holiday season. It’s a carney job, my favorite kind: Few-questions-asked. And it’s technically a sales job, even though the train, brightly painted in the colors of Lego blocks, sells itself.

“Nothing sells the train like the train,” I say to exasperated parents as their little darlings climb into the train cars on their own, waiting for me to drive them on their five-minute circuit around my corner of the mall. And the chuffa-chuffa choo-choo sound effects, augmented with the high white whine of the woo-woo wail, draw those little darlings to my kiosk in droves.

To the Brothers Rambunctious, I said, “Gentlemen. Remember that you have to stay seated. Do you know (more…)

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Want to be a better, more-perfect version of yourself? Master something difficult this year.

M
You weren’t just cheated of an education when you were young, you were cheated out of the full awareness of your own humanity.Mait Jüriado / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

I always love to read about the outrageously nefarious bad guys who are doing all the things we hate. Doesn’t matter who “we” are, since the bad guys afflicting every “we” are always blindingly brilliant, amazingly competent masterminds of evil.

I guess it’s useful to exaggerate your opposition, but here’s the thing:

Everyone I remember from school was a fuck-up.

Start with a good solid two-thirds compliant drones, dutifully going through whatever motions seemed to be required. Maybe half of the rest were glib and lazy. Even the straight-A apple-polishers were just phoning it in, doing the minimum necessary to get the grade from the glib-and-lazy grown-up teaching the class.

Am I misrepresenting the world of education? Is there anything you can think of that you did in school that you’re truly proud of now. Away from athletics or the school play, was there anything in your academic life that you gave everything you had? Was there anyone else who did that?

Was there any class that you took — ever — where you had to bust ass every day or risk get hopelessly lost? And when you got to that class, was that the end of your forward progress in that discipline?

The kids from the hard side of the quad — the maths, the sciences — know what I’m talking about. The kids from the soft side of the quad — the arts, the social sciences — may be recalling a graceless exit from the maths and sciences.

But the truth is that virtually all of us were denied the kind of education that was a matter of expected routine for our grandparents. Partly this is our fault: Too often we were grade-greedy glib-and-lazy fuck-ups. But mostly it was the fault of our teachers — and their teachers.

Were they outrageously nefarious bad guys, hell-bent on depriving us of a decent education? Were they blindingly brilliant, amazingly competent masterminds of evil, conspiring to enslave us in a state of (more…)

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