Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Set them free

This morning on NPR, I listened to some old plummy-accented fart who was once a lady-in-waiting to the Queen give instructions on how women should curtsy to any member of the Royal family. Apparently, the segment was due to the impending visit of the French President and same old fart was in a state of high anticipation as to whether the new President's wife would curtsy or not and, if she did, how it would be effected.

I stopped listening to the mechanics of the maneuver when she got to 'Ladies should place their legs apart...chin up...

Men, apparently, must bow in a way that the chin almost touches the chest.

The only thing she did say that made sense was her aside that the Americans no longer curtsy to members of the Royal family.


Why the hell should anyone, even the Brits, curtsy? Isn't it enough that they and the person being introduced shake hands.

I watched Barbara Walters' program on ABC the other night about the Royal family, a so-called reality type show of them at play and work, and the only mildly funny bit was a scene showing the Queen at Windsor Castle leaning over the stair banister in her evening gown to try and see how her husband was dealing with a crisis in getting the head of some African nation into the dining room before she made her appearance.

I have no dislike for any members of the Royal family.They were born into the institution of the Monarchy and they effect their duties no matter how irrelevant in a modern democracy with aplomb and dedication. But that does not mean one can despise the Monarchy and demand its abolishment. It really is time this family was relieved of its arcane duties. The Queen performs no purpose that can't be executed by elected representatives. That way Harry and William can also serve in the British Army in any position they so desire, and I'm convinced they'd be relieved because they are smart and I feel see how silly the whole warped and bloated institution has become. The very fact they speak with 'normal' accents--a deliberate decision on their part--and not with the contorted enunciation of The Queen or Prince Charles might support my conclusion here as they are trying to fit in as much as they're allowed..

Quaint just doesn't cut it anymore.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Spitzer conundrum

So Eliot Spitzer is now a part of New York history.

A very spirited debate took place the other night between myself, Lynne of L&L and our neighbors Scott and Jessica.

The issue turned on whether the governor's wife should have stood by his side and been humiliated when he first appeared in public to state he'd done wrong and then to resign the NY governorship.

Lynne and Jessica were adamant that she shouldn't have done it, that she was there in
a private capacity and was being forced by people behind the scene to be there. They freely admitted they were acting from a woman's point of view.

My position was she is a smart, strong woman. She attended law school, practiced as an attorney and made a decision to leave her employment to stay at home and raise their daughters. Thus, she is the one who most probably made the decision to be at his side when he made his speeches of humiliation. There is no doubt she looked extremely pained.

Also, in the professional way she handled herself as the first lady of New York State, she probably decided to act continue to act professionally to the bitter end and appear with him as the spouse of the governor.

There is no right or wrong answer in these situations. What occurs in private between Spitzer and his wife is their business, but I imagine the people of New York probably appreciated she stood there at that moment and regard her very highly as a result.

Another question is Spitzer's conduct. Again, I feel this is a private matter although, given that he prosecuted Wall Street corruption and prostitution during his time as the NY Attorney General and had a 'take no prisoners' mentality, it would have been difficult to overcome the charges of hypocrisy and continue to govern.

It all boils down to the difference in viewpoints between the sexes at the end of the day, I think. While some men are utterly faithful in their relationships, I really do believe that this is not the norm as our society insists. It should not be that surprising to learn that many men get bored with their wives sexually after a period of years and start looking around (and probably vice versa, though I can't speak for women here). I think society should stop having these ridiculous expectations that people stop being attracted sexually to other people once they get married and that their marital sex lives are blissful from that moment onward. It only keeps sex therapists, psychoanalysts and psychotherapists and morning show hosts in jobs to try and 'advise' what people have to do to spice and enrich their sex lives when they get bored. Once you are bored, you are bored and nothing will change that. Sure changing position and dressing up might work for a week or two, but let's get real.

Love and sex are not synonymous. They can co-exist, certainly do at the beginning of relationships, but then they diverge as the years pass. One can love a partner and not want to have sex with them. There is no crime or negative judgment to be meted out by society when a spouse admits he or she has become bored sexually but still loves the partner and wants to stay in the relationship. It is adult behavior for the spouses to negotiate these situations and not do (as society expects us to do) which is running to shrinks for a fix and they then advise solutions based on the premise that monogamy is the norm and it is immoral to have sex outside the marriage.

My opinion is no one partner can satisfy his or partner sexually for life. People grow and change and their needs grow and change, including sexual needs. It's as simple as that. A minority of people are happy to be monogamous, but not all. And it's time we accepted that. It's time to accept that it's normal to get bored having sex with the same partner for years and to want to have sex and have sex with others outside relationships. It's time to stop buying into fictions created by societal and religious institutions for the sake of convenience and exertion of authority. The fact that children may or may not be involved cannot be used to support or maintain a status quo regarding human sexuality that is clearly failing. The existence of children and responsibility for meeting their needs must be factored into any conduct decided and agreed by the spouses.

Maybe then, we'll not have this constant parade of people in the media who have to make humiliating speeches when they've been discovered behaving humanely. And that would also resolve the spirited discussions about whether a spouse should or should not be present when humiliating speeches have to be made.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Our special tonight is...

We were out with L&L the other night to see The Other Boleyn Girl--Hollywood and Phillipa Gregory's version of the Henry VIII saga.

Critics dished it, but it wasn't that bad. Granted it lapses into the bodice ripping genre on more than a few occasions but I found it enjoyable. And if Gregory is to be believed, the reason Henry split from Rome is due solely to the strategic planning of Anne in her mission to get rid of Catherine and become Queen.

Afterwards we decided to go for dinner so popped into the local PF Chang's only to be told the wait was two hours. It's a pretty good Chinese restaurant, the food's cooked to order so there's would have been that additional wait after we ordered, but it's not good enough to merit that sort of wait. The reason for such a long wait is because PF Chang's is new to the area.

Off we went to Ooka, our local Japanese restaurant where everyone except Larry ordered Tempura--L&L not liking fish, they ordered chicken while I ordered different kinds of fish.

Towards the end of the meal, Lynne held up something that looked like a bit of sausage skin and said, "What is this? I keep getting it in and it's chewy and disgusting."
We all looked at it intently. "Looks like shrimp shell," Lee said.

"No, it's not," Lynne said. "I had Tempura here before and I can't remember this in it. It's very different."

"Maybe it's something vegetable," Larry said. (a piece of Carrot, broccoli and eggplant done Tempura style had also come with it.)

All of a sudden the penny dropped. When the food had arrived at the table, it was beautifully presented in the shape of a pyramid with a huge onion ring keeping it bound together. The entire arrangement was resting on a base of paper doilies.

"Lynne," I said, "You're not supposed to eat the doilie. That's only for presentation."

"What do you mean?"

We poked about her plate and showed her the last small piece of the three doiles they'd covered her plate with to make it look pretty. Lynne hadn't noticed them because the plate was also white.

At first, when we told the Japanese waitress, she went very pale.

"You sick?" she asked.

"No, we're just showing you what she ate."

Suddenly, she realized we weren't complaining and her face broke into a huge smile. "Very funny," she said. He, he, he, he. "Very funny. You want desert now?"

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Clinton Obama ticket, anyone?

Congratulation to Senator McCain. The Republicians have selected and he's now got the blessing of Mr. Bush, which may not be such a good thing given his terrible ratings and the fact we're now in recession according to Warren Buffett. I think only idiots and those politically motivated to deny it still continue to bleat that we're on a slow down, that we are not in recession.

A quick drive through any town in the United States where the huge number of 'To Let' signs in empty stores is a true indicator of the reality. Unbelievable that the surplus we had when President Clinton left office is now replaced with a massive deficit and the dollar is trading at One Euro fifty-one cents. Less anyone forget, when the Euro was 'born', it was regarded as aa weak currency and it traded at about one dollar.

The democratic races last night were terribly exciting and Hillary Clinton to her credit did pull an upset, exactly what she said she was going to do. I am glad as I feel the Democrats really are discussing the real bread-and-butter issues that the next Presidential election will be about. The longer she and Obama campaign, the better for our democracy.

It looks like Pennsylvania will be the deciding state, which is also very exciting. Certainly it is the only large state with a huge number of delegates that's left. Already, Obama and Clinton have opened campaign offices in the major towns, including Bucks County where I live.

It looks like Senator Obama will come under a lot more media scrutiny now and will have to state his policies and positions with absolute clarity now. Taht is a good thing. In the past weeks, I've heard a lot more about Clinton's positions and am still pretty unclear about Obama's.

The best option would be for Obama and Clinton to run on the same ticket, but that will require senior democrats to get them in the same room and thrash out who will be on top. I suspect that's going to happen either before or after the Pennsylvania primary. It has to because Clinton is now unable to mathematically catch up and surpass the number of delegates Obama has in the bag. And Obama's argument that the super-delegates must vote according to how the people of their state voted (and thus secure him the necessary number of delegates to secure the nomination) does not hold water because there is no requirement for them to do so. Their duty is to vote for teh candidate they feel can win the general election. Moreover, Clinton has a very strong argument that she has won the IMPORTANT MAJOR states and Obama's wins are in small states--in other words, size does matter.

Of course there's always the matter of Florida. Always Florida. Does the Democratic National Committee reverse itself and allow their vote to be counted in the delegate count? If so, Clinton gets a lot of delegates. I'm sure her campaign's trying to twist arms here.

Some people argue that a ticket with a woman and a black man on it is not a winning formula--that America is not ready. I think it's time to see.