Tokyo’s Manuscript Writing Cafe

Only allows writers on a deadline, and won’t let them leave until finished.

Quite the niche. What’s next, a tax filing cafe, where you can’t leave until your taxes are filed? They would do the bulk of their annual business in late March/early April.

Tangental thought. What about not letting our 535 legislators leave the Capitol Building until they GREATLY simplify our tax code?

Winning Time

HBO’s Winning Time is the story of the Los Angeles Lakers 1979 season.

Apparently the Lakers hate it, but I dig it. The Lakers don’t like it because they aren’t making any money from it, they have no control over how the story is told, and it reminds people how good they were in past incarnations.

Also, Magic doesn’t like it because he has a documentary coming out that covers a lot of the same territory. And being famously surly, Kareem doesn’t like it because he doesn’t like much of anything.

I await each episode because I was living in SoCal at the time and a huge Laker fan. Apart from apparently exaggerating Jerry West’s anger management issues, the casting is outstanding.

Also, the attention to period detail is Mad Men-like, meaning off-the-charts.

At the end of a recent episode the Lakers have a day off. Laker coach Jack McKinney‘s wife informs him she’s taking the car and he should go play tennis with Paul Westhead, his ace assistant. After she leaves, the workaholic coach begins scribbling in his notebook, then suddenly heads to the garage of his suburban home to grab his racquet and shiny red Schwinn bicycle.

The next 90 seconds are shot mostly via drone. The successful but simple workaholic, the home, the street, the neighborhood, the sunlight, the Beach Boy music, the Schwinn all felt bizarrely familiar. I wasn’t watching someone else’s life as much as reliving my own. My dad played tennis most weekends in the 1970s in SoCal. He didn’t ride his Schwinn, but there was one in the garage. Long story short, the producers magnificently nailed the ethos of time and place.

One other less obvious thing to note. The fact that the Laker coach’s family only had one car speaks volumes about the NBA’s fledging status in 1979.

Highly recommended. As long as you’re at least 17 years old and not too prudish.

A Curriculum To Curb Sexual Violence

Designed for 14-15 year old boys.

Consisting of two parts. Part one, a 2019 Netflix film, “Unbelievable”. Part two, this lengthy essay by Tom Junod and Paula LaVigne that went live on ESPN’s website Monday morning. In ESPN’s words it is “the untold story of the most dangerous player in college football history”.

The film will stay with you. The essay is similarly unforgettable. The essay is the most difficult and disturbing piece of work I have ever recommended to you. And among the most important, especially for adolescent males. Not that it was their motivation, but Junod and LaVigne will win many awards for it.

This curriculum doesn’t assume that 14-15 year old boys will commit acts of sexual violence. It’s intended to sensitize them to the experience of female victims of sexual violence. To the point that they hold their male friends and acquaintances accountable for any acts of sexual violence and become allies with their female friends and acquaintances in myriad, related ways.

Some may protest it’s not the role of schools to do “character education”. Fine. Provide proof that you’ve watched the film and read the essay with your son(s) and discussed their reactions to both and you can be excused from the school-based version for students whose parents can’t or won’t teach the curriculum.

This curriculum will not eliminate sexual violence, but it has the potential to reduce it.

Why American Teens Are So Sad

Derek Thompson in The Atlantic.

Somber opening that won’t surprise anyone working closely with adolescents.

“The United States is experiencing an extreme teenage mental-health crisis. From 2009 to 2021, the share of American high-school students who say they feel “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness” rose from 26 percent to 44 percent, according to a new CDC study. This is the highest level of teenage sadness ever recorded.”

The rest is required reading for anyone seeking to understand teen mental health.

My Total Lack of Self-Awareness

The Good Wife and I are in marriage counseling, not because our relationship is bad, but because we want it to be better.

I deserve no credit for this, the GalPal has taken all the initiative. And therein lies one of the challenges. I think we should be able to improve things on our own if we carefully consider the different dynamics of the alternating peaks and valleys of our partnership. And then accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. You know, easy-peasy, just use more of our brain power.

Now I know that assumption is terribly flawed. We can’t think our way to a better relationship, it’s much more about heart, and dare I say, feelings. If it has anything to do with intelligence, it’s solely emotional intelligence.

Our counselor diagnosed our main problem quickly in a way that resonated with both of us. Most of the time, when we try to resolve conflicts, one or both of us are too angry, or emotionally “flooded” or “unregulated” to show genuine care for one another and have a constructive conversation. We ignore the flooding at our own peril, proceeding to get more and more angry, and ultimately, saying hurtful things we inevitably regret.

One epiphany came when our counselor asked each of us to describe the physiological changes we experience during the initial stages of a challenging conversation. The GoodWife aced that quiz describing in some detail several physiological changes. The weekend warrior athlete who constantly assesses how his body is or isn’t functioning while swimming, running, and cycling, couldn’t describe a single physiological change; earning a donut hole on the quiz.

The point of physiological self-awareness is to make sure we only enter into challenging conversations when each of us is regulated, meaning sufficiently calm to engage in a kind and caring manner.

I wasn’t as embarrassed by my total lack of physiological self-awareness as one might think, more intrigued. How can that be? Why the hell is that? That realization has me now trying to get into some kind of touch with my physiological married self. To quote Bill Murray, “Baby steps.”

I think the answer to “how can that be” and “why is that” is two-fold. I had two great parents, three older siblings who I tried to watch and learn from, and an overall positive childhood, but there was no intentional or deliberate conflict resolution or social-emotional teaching or learning more generally going on in our house. Ever.

Nor was there any intentional or deliberate conflict resolution or social-emotional teaching or learning going at any of the K-12 schools I attended. Extra-curricular activities included. Sunday School and church youth groups included.

So it’s not entirely surprising that I failed the quiz.

By this point, my older sissy has stopped reading, thinking to herself, “Ron, it’s not all about you.”

It’s too bad she checked out because I know my experience is that of damn near every male growing up in these (dis)United States in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. We talk about “food deserts” in poor communities, but what about “emotional deserts” in every community, irrespective of economics?

What would emotionally intelligent parenting for both boys and girls look like? What do emotionally intelligent parents know and what are they doing that’s different?

How can educators, coaches, art and music leaders, youth pastors, anyone in youth leadership positions begin fostering emotional intelligence?

How can parents better partner with other adults in their children’s lives to help their sons and daughters develop some semblance of emotional and physiological self-awareness?

We need more attention and better reporting on these things. Meaning engaging and accessible stories that will educate and inspire ordinary people who only know what they’ve experienced. Stories that spark imagination, challenge the status quo, and foster new and better ways of relating to one another.

Taking Our Union To The Next Level

Because I’m busy watching golf, the Good Wife agreed to pick up a library book that’s on hold for me.

Well, she tried. They had to call me to ask if she had permission to pick up books on hold for me. Or if I wanted, I could convey all of the privileges of my card to her.

Because I’m crazy in love with her and a big risk taker, I told the nice library person to go full throttle with la ultima card privileges.

Those of you who know the GalPal are right to wonder about my decision. She could easily run up a shitload of late fees, forcing me to return to work full time. Or she could purposely check out supe-embarrassing books in my name and then blackmail me for some ungodly sum.

It’s just the most recent example of me living on the edge.