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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sometimes It Hurts!

Sometimes It Hurts.

Hey All, Sunday night once again, and we all know what that means!

A little discussion about Mr. T's prediction for the rematch in Rocky III:  Pain.

As beta males, the key to our advancement is to make ourselves bulletproof.  When we're completely self-actualized, nothing that the alpholes of the world say or do to us can make us second-guess our self-worth, or intimidate us, or make us the subservient followers that they wish we were.

Being bulletproof means that we won't get killed if they fire at us.  But anyone who's ever worn a Kevlar vest will tell you that it still packs a wallop when you get shot anyway.  In other words, sometimes when people give you their best shot in a confrontation, even if you end up winning, it can still hurt.

Unfortunately, some people still adopt the alphaganda's approach to pain.  Shake it off, ignore it, pretend it's not even there.  As beta males, we can't afford to let pain stop us from being ourselves.  But if we act in denial and pretend that it doesn't hurt when it really does and we know it, we're only making it worse.

This is where your close friends and family come in to help.  Beta males are so used to being the shoulder that someone else cries on that we don't know what it's like to open to someone else about our hurt.  We've also been fed the false notion that nobody cares that you're in any kind of emotional pain, and if you tell them, they'll think you're weak.  I'm not saying you should go to everyone with your tales of woe and misfortune, but there are definitely a few close people in your circle who would be only too happy to hear you out.

First and foremost?  Dear old Mom.  I don't care how old you or your mother is, there is no shame in giving her a call and telling her if there's something that's made you sad or angry.  Don't overburden her, of course, keep it short and sweet, but there's no shame in telling her.  She didn't stop being your mother when you moved out of her house, and you didn't stop being her son when you became a grown man.  She should be only too happy to give you whatever advice she can, and to give you a few pearls of wisdom to help you get back on top.

And if you're among the most fortunate of us betas, you have a special someone in your life.  Maybe a girlfriend, or maybe a wife?  How could you even consider not telling them what's eating at you?  They expect you to be their rock and their foundation when their emotions overwhelm them, and they expect you be chivalrous and gentlemanly in all affairs.  Believe it or not, they would be more than happy to do likewise for you.  If they really are your one true honey, they should not expect you to be this comic book caricature who never feels pain, fear, doubt, or worry.  Rather, merely out of love, they should expect you to confide in them with these very feelings, and to trust them the way they would trust you.

Yes, we are still human.  We are on an ongoing quest to be better men -- more responsible, more brave, more confident, more respectable -- but nobody said we were going to be inhuman cyborgs!  We are flesh and blood, therefore we have feelings.  A beta male should never feel obligated to ignore, bypass, or deny his feelings if they exist.  There may be less appropriate times to convey them than others, but if you have close family or friends around you, do yourself a favor and confide in them.  This is why they're here, and they would expect the same from you.

Hopefully, none of you are feeling the kind of pain that I'm talking about.  But if you are, the best way to relieve it is to turn to your loved ones.  You have them for a reason, so don't be so quick to forget about them in your quest for self-actualization.  You may need them one day.

That's my jam tonight, all!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Let Me Explain

A Few Changes

Hey All -- about that time again!

You may have noticed a few changes. A different tone and a different attitude, perhaps.  Rather than the confrontational approach it originally took against damage to young men's and boys' self-esteem, it has evolved into an attempt to strengthen it.

One major shift has been to essentially substitute the word "bully" with my own invented term, "alphole." Since it is clearly synonymous with "bully," it obviously cannot describe those who are not bullies, and have no desire to disrespect beta males.  If anything, it describes those who dilute the mark of alpha males, and gives them a reputation that they do not necessarily deserve.  Accordingly, this change works.

The good thing about this word, besides it being my own concoction, is that it strips away the power that people like this claim to possess, and reveals that they do have imperfections.  A "bully" is a juggernaut, someone who is infinitely stronger than you, can screw with you anytime, and can't be stopped by anything you do.  An "alphole" is not.  An alphole can get on his high horse, and get knocked right out of the saddle.  He's just as vulnerable, just as fallible, and just as human as we are, but he makes the mistake of acting like he's not, and thinking that it's OK for him to use force against those perceived to be weaker or less intelligent.  For that reason, he might be destined for the downfall of a tragic Greek anti-hero, instead of us.

That being said, since the purpose here is to empower, and not to attack, it's not really the alpholes that are the sworn enemy of this blog and its readers.  Rather, that's my other pet phrase, the "alphaganda."  This is nothing more than a fancy word for "conformity."  It's this unwritten idea that there are things that every man must do, or must not do, otherwise they are simply not "real men."  Beta males find themselves outside this sphere of influence, and they sometimes suffer for it greatly.  Not only because of the hostility that comes their way merely by being different, but also because their self-esteem is sometimes damaged as a result.

Peeps, beta males are different.  You are not the ones who are expected to win bar fights, to be with more women than Gene Simmons, to buy and sell blue chip stocks, or to be close and personal friends with a cross-section of celebrities.  So don't be.  If there are other men who fulfill this role, then by all means, let them have it.  You've been chosen for other purposes, some of which might be even greater than the beer-commercial fantasy I've just recited.

No matter what it is that you've been chosen to do, there is no law, no directive, and no order requiring you to conform to the alphaganda.  In many ways, you can make yourself more of a man by shrugging off those age-old requirements.  If conforming to those ways does not feel genuine or natural to you, do yourself a favor and don't.  Be you.  Be true to who you are.  Exist.  Matter.  Belong.  Deserve.  And while doing all of those, be bulletproof!

DISCLAIMER:  I swore I wouldn't do this, but I will anyway. The term "alphole," as fully explained above, applies to bullies, and not to all men who are considered "alpha males."

And the alphaganda?  Nobody's trying to repeal it or invalidate it.  I'm trying to remind beta males that they should never feel that they are required to follow it if it doesn't fit them, as explained above.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Happy Purim -- or Pour 'Em!

Pour 'Em Out!

Hey All -- another Sunday come and gone, just like the temporary spring-like weather we had in NYC.

Today is a minor Jewish holiday known as Purim.  For the kids, it's a little like Halloween, because they're encouraged to wear goofy costumes for fun.  For the adults, it's a little like St. Paddy's Day, because we're encouraged to get so hammered that we get the characters in the Purim story confused.  And since it often happens around the same time as St. Paddy's it's cool to share some Buds or Guinesses with those already celebrating!  :)

Which brings me to the story of Purim -- taken from the Scroll of Esther.  It commemorates a time when the basic Jewish Holiday formula was again put into effect as follows:

(1) Someone tried to kill us;
(2) They failed most pathetically;
(3) We won;
(4) So let's eat already!

It takes place sometime after the First Temple was sacked, and the Jewish Nation was exiled to Persia.  Centuries before Cyrus permitted the Jews to return to Israel, the Persian Empire was ruled by a King sometimes known as "Artaxerxes," and sometimes as "Ahasuerus," and who simply got manipulated by other forces in issuing his executive orders.

The King had his first wife executed for disobedience, and needed to search for someone new.  The winner of his royal beauty pageant was a young Jewish woman named Esther.  She was the niece of Mordechai, leader of the Jewish people in exile, who warned her to not let anyone know her background.  Mordechai, in the meantime, had a few issues happening because a high-ranking nobleman named Haman felt dissed when Mordechai wouldn't bow down to him in public.  So dissed felt Haman, a descendant of the Amalekites, that he convinced the king to issue a royal edict to massacre all Jews in the Persian Empire.

So Mordechai asked the new Queen to use her new influence to convince the king otherwise.  As background, Mordechai had already made a good name for himself by thwarting a royal assassination, but without Google or Bing, that information was not as readily available as it could have been.

So in order to get on the king's good side, Esther invited the King and Haman to a state dinner, with a promise that she had a "special request" for the King.  On the way home, Haman saw Mordechai and felt dissed again, so he built a gallows in his front yard, anticipating that he was going to convince the King to have Mordechai executed.

That night, the King couldn't sleep, so he asked his servants to "Google" from the records the names  of those who'd done the right thing, and there he was reminded how Mordechai saved his bacon.  So he calls up Haman, asking, what's a cool thing to do to honor someone who goes above and beyond?  Haman described for him exactly what he would want, and the King says, let's do all of that for Mordechai, he's the man!  Haman got dissed again!

So that night, there was another state dinner requested by the Queen, again with the King and Haman.  Now that the King knows that a Jew did the right thing for him, Esther reveals that she herself is Jewish, and that Haman seeks to destroy the whole Jewish nation, including her.  So the King orders that Haman be hung from the gallows he built for Mordechai, gives Mordechai Haman's vacant seat, and lets him draft legislation to rescind the royal edict to massacre all Jews in the Persian Empire.

Yeah, that story is a little convoluted, but I've summarized it just to get the point across.  Other than Esther herself, nobody in this book is a real hero -- the King flip-flopped worse than Bill Clinton and had the morals of Caligula.  Mordechai was a righteous man, but he was also an opportunist.  And Haman was so filled with hate towards those who didn't bow down to him, he tried to abuse his power and influence to have those who dissed him, and all those like him, suffer consequences.

As documented in my earlier anti-bullying posts, we've all had to deal with someone like Haman.  Someone who can only become powerful by seeking to plunder and destroy.  Someone who gains strength and power from stepping on people along the way.  And someone who seeks favor with those who could grant him that power by pointing fingers at others to make them look worse, and subject them to punishment.  And even worse, someone who seeks to silence all dissent through force.

In ancient biblical texts, those who do this are guaranteed to face consequences for their actions promptly.  In real life, they often get away scot-free.  And sometimes people give them even more accolades than Haman received.  Depending on their circumstances, sometimes real-life Hamans not only elude punishment for the misdeeds, they sometimes get rewarded for them quite handsomely.  Obscene, isn't it?

Well, the first step that we Betas have to take is to acknowledge that the Hamans we call alpholes are not being set up by the Almighty for an instant downfall, at least not the way we wish they were.  In real life, they get a lot of followers, a lot of sychophants, and a lot of hangers-on, and we usually don't.  This not only increases their strength, it also provides them with protection.  If anyone actually has the guts to call them out, the way Esther did, there will almost always be a loyal throng that will blindly follow their fearless leader no matter what horrors they've wrought.  In a way, this makes them even more powerful than the real Haman.

There is not much we can learn from the other characters in this story about how to take down real-life Hamans.  The rest of us don't get an audience with a King who outranks a Haman and can be so easily persuaded.  Instead, the key lies in how the story is told.

Normally, Jewish children are taught to behave properly in synagogue.  But when the Scroll of Esther is read on the evening of Purim, they're taught to get really loud at certain points.  Specifically, whenever the name of Haman is read, they are encouraged to make as much noise as possible to drown out his name.

Yes, this does sound a little bit foreign.  But the concept works.  Part of the reason why these real-life Hamans get so powerful is the above-referenced throng keeps talking about them.   They talk about them wayyyyyy too much.  They get too famous.  They get too popular.  They get around too much.  Too many people know their name.

I've often discussed how bullies and alpholes become who they are because they have enablers.  Let's counter that phenomenon by being disablers.  DON'T discuss them.  DON'T bring up their names.  DON'T waste time with stories of what they do or don't do.

Don't advertise them.  Delete them.
Don't make them famous.  Make them anonymous.
Don't be affected by them.  Be apathetic to them.
Don't gossip about them.  Talk about people better than them.
Don't listen to people talking about them.  Go off on a tangent and change the subject (my friends in the "we don't care" crowd are experts at this move)
Don't care about them.  They need you to, and they'll die out if you don't.

There is no law saying you have to bow down to these jabronies.  You can refuse to do so, and nobody will seek to hang you.  You can tune them out, you can seek better company, you can render them irrelevant.  Yes, you can also drown them out with noise, like the children in synagogue, but it's even harsher to them to drown them out with silence.

And remember, gentlemen.  As Betas, we are able to be alone for long periods of time.  For the Hamans of the world, solitude will suffocate them worse than any gallows can.

Good night everybody!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Disease of Schadenfreude

Hi All -- don't usually throw around a lot of ten-dollar words, but this one popped up, so it gets the title of this post.

Recently, I was at a friend's home where MTV was on.  Remember MTV, once known as Music Television?  Meaning that they played, you know, music videos?

Times change.  Now they had on a show called "Ridiculousness."  Essentially, it's "Jackass" repackaged and regurgitated.  They present videos of people attempting to perform crazy stunts that go horribly awry.  Consciousness is lost, bodies bounce, and unimaginable damage is done to internal and external organs.  Even babies and old women are caught getting "popped" somehow.  The studio audience, encouraged by a too-cool host and a former Playboy Playmate, laugh out loud at others' misfortune.

It wasn't my house, or my TV, and it's not my place to whine and complain.  I did, however, observe that if I had 15 minutes of fame, I'd rather spend it doing something I was proud of, and not something that would leave me this embarrassed.

Ask yourselves, is this something you really need to see?  Once you get past Beavis' and Butthead's chronological ages, is this useful?  Is this positive?  Does this help anyone?  Would you want your kids watching this?  Better yet, would you want your kids on this show?!?

I should say not.  This blog stands for empowerment of those who need it, and not ridicule.  It stands for wearing one's strong suit, and not exposing one's most embarrassing mistakes.  And most importantly, it stands for embracing and respecting men for their worth, and not pointing fingers and laughing at their lowest moments.

I do not believe in censorship, of course.  If this show is good for the network, brings in revenue, and enough of these people watch it, then good.  Have a ball.  But there's no way I'd watch that garbage willingly.  And I certainly wouldn't encourage the beta males that I write for to watch it either.

Men like us need more constructive things to watch than that.  Let's make better choices.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Oscar Night!

Oscar Night!

Hey All!  Hope you've all battened down the hatches for the next snowstorm -- which is apparently showing up later than expected, immobilizing some of us who are geared towards additional, if not unnecessary, preparedness.

But most importantly, it's Oscar Night.  The motion picture industry, also known as Hollywood, takes this opportunity to celebrate itself, and to honor the performances and productions that have exceeded all others in the past year.

The highlight of this evening is always the acceptance speech.  The nominee chosen, be it best actor, actress, director, or producer, will show elation and exuberance, tempered by a small amount of respect and humility.  For some of them, notwithstanding how cliche this ritual has become, for some of these winners, it truly is the greatest moment of their lives.  This is an acknowledgment that something that took all of their blood, sweat, and tears, is recognized as being exceptional, above-board, and worthy of a golden prize.  Yes, they sometimes go on too long, because there are always "so many people to thank," and there is always "get off the stage" music to prompt them off, but this is jokingly accepted as part of the show.

A fellow blogger once told me that we should live our lives as if we're the writer, director, producer, and star of our own movie.  I'd like to borrow that concept.

As beta males, we are sometimes told that we are stuck with our lot in life.  WRONG.  As the head screenwriter, you can come up with a story that proves this cop-out otherwise.

As beta males, we sometimes lack vision.  As the producer of our own movie, we have no other choice but to have a vision.  What does this movie look like?  What happens in the next scene?  What would the audience enjoy seeing?  What would YOU enjoy seeing?

As beta males, leadership roles to not come us naturally.  But as director of our own movie, we have to become leaders in one way or another.  How are we going to make these things happen?  What do we need to make things happen?  What is our plan?  What would you LIKE to plan?

As beta males, we have been deceived into believing that we are suited only for supporting roles.   Oh please!  You are the star of this movie, and don't anyone else tell you otherwise.  This story is all about you, nobody else, and don't you forget it!

You can re-write the script at any time.  You can ad-lib.  You can change locations.  You can change characters.  Oh right, that reminds me, you're also the casting director.  That means you get to pick who is in this movie, and who's not!  NEVER FORGET THAT YOU ARE ABLE TO DO THIS AT ANY TIME DURING PRODUCTION!

And while you're working on this movie, imagine . . . wouldn't you like this film to win an Oscar?  Or several?  Wouldn't you want people to recognize what's in your movie, and applaud it?  Wouldn't you like the story to be inspiring?  The acting to be not just believable, but real?  A production that people would be willing to stand in line to see?

Make your own movie, and make it a winner.  True, you may be nominated and not actually win the award, but make it a winner anyway.  And you'll know it's a winner if you're living like a winner.

That's my piece, everyone.  Enjoy the Oscars!