Saturday, April 23, 2016

We Are Losing Our Game Changers


On Thursday, April 21st, I was saddened to learn of the passing of the epic and iconic musician PRINCE. I began to reflect on my Prince moments like the rest of the world as his songs began being played incessantly on radio stations and newscasts around the globe.

Oddly enough, when Prince first came on the scene in 1979 with I Wanna Be Your Lover I was not impressed, in fact I didn't even like the song. That all changed with the release of his movie Purple Rain and the accompanying sound track. I remember watching Purple Rain and it seeming to me to be more like being at a concert than a movie. I fell in love with both Prince's band and Morris Day and the Time in that movie. I purchased both the Purple Rain and Morris Day's Ice Cream Castles albums and listened to them time and time again. Purple Rain is the only movie that I actually paid to see in the theater three times with the only other movie that I paid to see more than once, The Blues Brothers (twice). I did not even pay more than once to watch my favorite movie of all time Top Gun. I say all of that to say how much of an impression Purple Rain made on me. The music in the movie was electrifying and from that point on I was a Prince fan. I did not always like everything he released, however he was indeed a musical genius. I didn't learn until later years the plethora of artists he wrote and produced for that include but are not limited to Chaka Khan, Morris Day, Sheila E, Sheena Easton, Patti Labelle, Sinead O'Connor, Tevin Campbell, and Alicia Keys. Wow! What a loss to the music world!

We are losing our game changers and in my view as a musician there are no replacements coming up the pike. I am not making this statement to offend, disparage or discourage our current artists, but none of them are anywhere close to the musical caliber of the folks we have been losing over the past few years. There will never be another Prince, Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Maurice White, Marvin Gaye, Natalie Cole, or David Bowie. These along with others were game changers. Who are the game changers of today? Can we honestly say that in 2066 much of the music we hear today is going to be revered in the same manner as the music of the icons we are losing? Personally, I don't think so. I could be wrong and truthfully I hope that I am, but as a musician, I know what I am listening to and it is not game changing. 

As I watched the various performance clips on the news of Prince, I could feel the energy and hear/see his gifts shining through. Prince like so many of the others listed was a musical genius and I am grateful to be alive during this period of time when we had musical geniuses who were game changers. Their talents were surreal and I am grateful they shared them with the world. Oh, yes as each one passes, he/she is truly missed by all. What contributions they made! Something to critically think about. 

You are invited to join me live each Saturday at 6 a.m. ET as I host The Reading Circle with Marc Medley. The show is web streamed around the world on gobrave.org and is heard locally in northern NJ on FM radio WP88.7 FM. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and readingcircle01. 



Monday, April 18, 2016

Spousal Tip: Surprise Him/Her Once In A While


Judy arrived home after midnight with one thing on her mind. She peeped in on her two boys, who were sound asleep in their rooms, before she entered her own bedroom.
There, she found Marlon asleep as well. Perfect! she thought as she closed and locked the door. She slipped off her panties while keeping on her black dress. "I thought you said you were gonna call me on your way in," Marlon boomed through the darkness and startled her. "I thought you were asleep. I wanted to surprise you."  
                                                          Excerpt from ALL ACCESS by Omar Tyree

I began posting Spousal Tips on my various social media sites on a lark. To my surprise, I began receiving a lot of favorable feedback (likes, Re-tweets, comments) for the tips and anticipation for the next one. One follower even asked when was I going to write a book?  Spousal Tips are all based on my experiences in life, just plain old common sense and having a pretty good idea on how relationships work. None of the tips are new, just phrased based on my interpretation and creativity.

For example, I opened up this post with an excerpt from Omar Tyree's latest novel, ALL ACCESS to immediately grab your attention and to strategically set up a very important spousal tip that I am sure many will debate and even disagree with. Yet, if this tip were followed more often, there would be a lot more excitement, spontaneity and not knowing what to expect next in our marital relationships. In short, the old routine (a.k.a. boredom) would be interrupted.

Reflect on the excerpt above and think about what scenarios like that and beyond would do for your marriage. Sexuality, romance, and affection play large roles in a marital relationship as each partner wants to feel that he/she is desired by his/her mate. Unfortunately, when one mate or the other  begins to feel undesired by his/her mate, the door is now open for someone else to make him/her feel desired, causing all sorts of problems. These problems can be avoided if more often than not both partners would arrive home like Judy (excerpt above) with "one thing on his/her mind," his/her spouse. It's not about either partner seeing the other as a sex toy or anything of the sorts, but it is about acknowledging the desire that you have for the one you supposedly love.

We run into trouble when we start taking each other for granted or feeling as if we do not have to do once we are married what we did to attract the person before we were married. Trouble starts when one partner feels the other partner no longer desires him/her. I encourage all married couples not to let their marriage go flat. Make each other feel he/she is wanted. Keep some excitement going. Literally, want to surprise him/her. Anticipate the reaction of your spouse and how much you will enjoy yourself.

Marriage ought not be drudgery or feeling like you are fulfilling some duty. There is no rule that says marriage can't be fun. Yes, there are children, bills, work/careers, religion, etc. etc. However, none of those things listed ought to take priority over your partner. The same amount of focus and energy that is placed on all of the other things must be placed on your partner.

So, by now I hope you have figured out this Spousal Tip and you look forward to my posting others. Something to critically think about. You are invited to listen to me live each Saturday at 6:00 a.m. ET on gobrave.org and locally in northern NJ on FM radio WP88.7 FM as host of The Reading Circle with Marc Medley. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Families Must Get Back To Basics

For the past two Saturday nights my wife Yvette and I have intentionally carved out time to go "old school" in terms of our spending time together.  Last Saturday night, we went to a movie (Miracles From Heaven) and this Saturday we stayed home and played a good old fashioned game of Scrabble. We had not played Scrabble in so long that we actually had to refresh ourselves with the rules and scoring.  While I play Words With Friends and other word games like Scrabble online, it is a different dynamic when actually playing the board game face to face with a person. The two of us had a wonderful time.

A few days ago, I started posting on my various social media sites "Spousal Tips"  that unbeknownst to the reader was not necessarily for them, but for me and should my wife happen to read them coming across her feeds. I suspect though as my Connections and Followers read the daily tips, they are being challenged as well. The tips are extremely simple and are not new. I've shared nuggets such as "laugh,"  "play," or "carve out intentional quality time together"  receiving many positive likes and comments.

Think about the last time you were in a restaurant and looked around at other visitors. Let's say for example there was a couple or a family of four. I'll bet you saw in each scenario both parties (couple) or all four people (family) doing something individually on his/her mobile device whether it be a cell phone or tablet. The latest trend in restaurants now is to even provide some type of multi-use device that can be used for game playing, advertising and ultimately paying for your meal at your table. I share the example of everyone at the table doing his/her own thing because it speaks to how we communicate or more importantly lack thereof with each other today. A couple or family who has gone out to spend time with each other sit at a restaurant table and each is in his/her own world with his/her mobile device and in the event you did not bring one, there is one awaiting you at the table provided by the restaurant.  With that being said, we wonder why we do not feel connected to each other. The photo below of the family in bed with four devices says it all.

We have lost  touch with each other and have literally become silos even when we are together as a group. We do not talk to each other anymore, in fact, it seems we are losing the skill to converse with each other. Discussion questions illicit one word responses and off we go back to our electronic devices. And we wonder why we are continuing to see the decline in our family structures. We don't talk or interact with each other as we once did. Families do not come
together at the dinner table and talk about issues or their day and even when they do come together many come to the table with earbuds in their ears plugged up to..... you guessed it.... an electronic device. When is communication, affection and family intimacy given a chance?

As a child, especially before my latter teen years, I remember my family always eating dinner together and while there was a television in the kitchen, my father always ensured that it was switched off as we ate (Petticoat Junction would usually be on). We were not allowed to watch TV while the four of us were eating dinner or Saturday morning breakfast. Mobile devices had not been invented yet, but if they were, they would not have been allowed at the table. We talked to each other. Gee fancy that?

As far as television was concerned, there were certain shows that we watched together as a family such as Good Times, The Jeffersons, All In The Family, Sanford and Son, and The Waltons (I'm dating myself, I know).  The key word was "together." My point is, there were basic activities done together that helped keep the family together. There is that old cliche or adage that says the family that prays together - stays together or a different spin on that being, the family that plays together - stays together.  Either way, it was the fact that whatever was being done, was being done together.

We've lost our sense of togetherness as families and we need to get back to that. Spending time with each other is a basic. Talking with each other is a basic. For any family member to be able to express something that is concerning him or her without a battle is a basic. Playing board games (not computer games) with each other is a basic. Saying "I Love You" is a basic. Going to the park or on a day trip together is a basic and there are so many other basics that we have done away with in 2016 that is causing  the downward spiral of our family structure. Think about it, so goes the family, so goes the rest of our society and world.  Our families MUST get back to basics. I encourage anyone who is reading this post to intentionally carve out some quality time with your loved ones. Put down the mobile devices and talk to each other. Be intentional. Something to critically think about and act upon.

I invite you to join me live each Saturday at 6 a.m. ET as I host The Reading Circle with Marc Medley on FM radio WP88.7 FM in northern NJ and as I web stream around the world on gobrave.org. I also invite you to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01.


Monday, April 4, 2016

If You Are Alive And Your Body Is Functioning As Designed - You Are A Miracle

Saturday night my wife and I went to the movies to see Miracles From Heaven, the newly released film about a ten year old girl who is miraculously healed of an incurable disease. I won't get into the details of the movie as I would encourage anyone reading this post to go out and see the movie for him or herself. It was interesting for me to see the various ratings based on one's religious belief or lack thereof. Non-Christians rated the movie one way and Christians rated it another, but that's another post for another day.

My purpose for writing this post is what came to my mind as I watched the movie in terms of just how many body parts and systems have to function properly in order for us to have a healthy and disease free body. Anna one of the main characters is suffering from a pseudo-obstruction motility disorder and is unable to eat, and has to use feeding tubes for nutrition. Until viewing this movie, I had never heard of pseudo-obstruction motility disorder. There is a scene in the movie where the doctor shows how the digestive system works with a focus on the intestines which caused me to think.

It dawned on me just how magnificent our bodies are and I shared with my wife that someone who lives to be in their eighties or nineties or for that matter their fifties with all of their body systems and parts working as they should is truly blessed and is a walking "miracle." Think about how our systems work without us having to think about it. Our body parts and systems work automatically. In fact, you are very much aware when a system or part stops working.  Get a paper cut or sun burn and see how quickly you realize your skin is there. Stub your toe or have a tooth ache and again see how alive that part or system becomes.

The functioning of our bodies is an absolute second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month, and year by year MIRACLE. Be grateful and thankful if you are alive and your body is functioning as designed.  Something to critically think about.

You can hear me live each Saturday at 6:00 a.m. ET as host of The Reading Circle with Marc Medley around the world on gobrave.org and locally in northern NJ on FM radio WP88.7 FM. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01.

Monday, March 28, 2016

We Can't Even Have A Simple Easter Egg Hunt Anymore

When Malcolm X was interviewed and questioned about his thoughts on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, somewhere in his response he said "the chickens came home to roost" meaning according to him that the president's assassination was the result of the climate of hate.

Like Malcolm, I must say that much of the craziness that is going on around the world today is another example of the chickens coming home to roost. Not only are we in a climate of hate, but a climate of total disregard, disrespect, and a spirit of defiance regardless of what it is, even when it is something as simple and traditional as an Easter egg hunt. An annual event sponsored by the PEZ Candy company had to be canceled not due to the behavior of the children, but the deplorable behavior of their parents. The article from CNN appears below.
(CNN) PEZ Candy abruptly canceled its third annual Easter egg hunt Saturday after parents stormed the field in Connecticut, according to a company news release.
Children as young as 4 were pushed aside by parents eager to grab as many of the 9,000 eggs hidden in three fields.It was originally advertised to be three separate events, to be broken up by age groups, beginning at 10:30 a.m ET, before a visit from the Easter Bunny, according to the PEZ Company.
Instead of waiting for their designated time, people chose to enter the first field before anyone from PEZ starting the event, the release said."When it came time, at like 10:30 a.m. ET, the parents just bum-rushed that area," West Haven resident Nicole Welch told CNN affiliate WFSB. "When my son left, he had a broken basket, and he was hysterically crying." 
The general manager and other staff quickly responded to the situation, letting visitors know if someone didn't get an egg or candy, they would be compensated, the release said."We made efforts to get everyone something before they left and passed out tons of candy and coupons," PEZ said. "Due to the actions of a few, the good intent turned into a mess."
Following the events, disgruntled parents took to the PEZ Candy Facebook page to complain."This event was a joke to put it mildly," said Susan Kristie Nadori DeRose. "We have a 3-year-old. The parents first of all were letting their uncontrolled children pick up eggs prior to the start. Then when the event started all the parents rushed in and we're picking up the eggs." CNN reached out to PEZ but did not receive a response.
Police made no arrests and reported no injuries.
If you are a regular reader of THE CRITICAL THINKER, then you know I often write about where we find ourselves as a society based on the actions or behaviors of the young and the not so young. What I mean by the chickens coming home to roost is, the things we are experiencing are the consequences of one or more generations not having been taught respect for authority, rules, decor, etiquette, work ethic, and manners. We are truly in a society now where anything and everything goes, where there are no holds barred and no boundaries and we are paying for it.  Vulgarity and profanity has become the norm on television and radio and even in our current presidential campaign for the party nominees.

Suicide bombers terrorized Brussels and Pakistan not long before the parents barnstormed the Easter egg hunt in Connecticut. Meanwhile, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are off insulting each other's wives. What type of display and modeling are our adults showing our children? What did the children of those parents learn at that Easter egg hunt? What are our children learning as they watch the presidential debates? What are our children learning when all they see around them are suicide bombers, guns, and slashings (and we wonder why they don't learn 2+2=4)?

I know I cannot be the only one observing and questioning where we are going with all of this defiance of rules and authority. If parents at an Easter egg hunt are not going to follow the directions of the event sponsors, what can we expect their children to do?  If our presidential candidates can go on worldwide television and call each other names and talk about each other's body parts and family members, what do we expect our children to do?  More importantly, what type of chickens are we setting up to roost in the future? The sad truth is, it does not seem to be getting any better, but worse. We are not only seeing a decline in the United States, but we are seeing it around the world.We are in a death spiral.

I do not write this as one with no hope, but to make more of us aware that more of us need to be working to turn this thing around. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever that children as young as 4 were pushed aside by parents eager to grab as many of the 9,000 eggs hidden by PEZ that they could. The event was for the children, not the parents. What on earth have we become when a child leaves an Easter egg hunt with a broken basket and hysterically crying because he was bum rushed by adults?

Yes, the lack of respect and disregard for rules and authority are tearing the fabric of our world apart and we are seeing the manifestation of those chickens coming home to roost every day and in every way.  Something to critically think about.

I invite you to listen to me live each Saturday at 6 a.m. ET via world wide web stream on gobrave.org and locally in the northern NJ area on FM radio WP88.7 FM as I host The Reading Circle with Marc Medley. I also invite you to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Nothing Funny Indeed!


On Thursday (3/17) evening, I was perusing my various social media sites and happened across the video shown above. It caught my attention for a lot of reasons with the primary one being the title which described the motivational speaker shown going "off script" because of the lack of respect shown to him by the student body he was addressing. As the speaker was sharing a much needed message, some students in the audience continued to talk regardless of the speaker speaking on the stage.  The gentleman's experience hit home for me as I frequently have similar ones when addressing the students in the school where I serve. When the video was placed on YouTube, it was entitled NOTHING FUNNY, and that is an appropriate title as the ignorance and disrespect displayed by too many people both young and not so young alike is far from funny, in fact it is sad.

Too many of our children (and I keep prefacing my statements with "too many," as I do not want to generalize)  are not being taught in their homes about respect and other life and social skills. Too many children are raising themselves and are as should be expected doing a horrendous job. It is not the job of a child to raise him/herself, as that's the role of parents. The truth of the matter is, too many of our parents were faced with having to raise themselves and therefore are clueless about raising children themselves thus continuing the terrible cycle. Poorly raised adults have children and raise them poorly. It's hard to teach what you yourself was never taught or never learned.

Life skills such as manners, respect, love, work ethic, punctuality, discipline, self esteem, and so many other skills needed to be successful in society/life are not being taught to our children at home. The burden of this teaching is too often left to our schools and in some instances our churches (if the child or family attends a church).  The motivational speaker in the video above was a visitor at a school with the intent to motivate and inspire the students to reach for more; to reach for excellence and not to settle for mediocrity or slackness. As he is sharing his story in his message, he hears chatter and can see the students from his position on the stage blatantly talking while he is talking. He can see the students not listening or paying attention. At that point, he leaves his original message and commands the student's attention by an impromptu message that came from his heart as of result of their disrespect. What he began sharing with them was once again the type of discussion that need to be occurring in homes at the dinner table or family gatherings in the living room. In order to get their attention, he had to come across as a drill sergeant or prison warden.

It's ashamed the only way we can get the attention of too many is by having to dictate, yell, scream or carry a big stick. What type of mentality only responds to that type of communication? It took for this gentleman to "Tell like it really is" in a harsh manner for the students to realize just how disrespectful they were being when he was speaking to them in a calm and logical manner.

Parents, as I have said within the confines of this blog before, too many of us have dropped the ball and our society is paying a heavy price because of it. Children do not ask to come here and far too many parents abdicate their responsibilities at conception and delivery. After that it is for everyone else to raise their children. The government; the schools; the daycare centers; the churches; the streets; and finally the penal system. At what point does it become enough?  If you have not done so already, please take the seven minutes and fifty-three seconds to watch the video in this post. I'm sure you will agree that it is something to critically think about and act upon.

You are invited to listen to me live as host of The Reading Circle with Marc Medley each Saturday at 6:00 a.m. eastern time. The show is web streamed around the world on gobrave.org and heard locally in northern NJ on FM radio WP88.7 FM. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical and @readingcircle01.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Other Countries Don't Play That

Otto Frederick Warmbier, a 21-year-old American student
Once again a young American faces consequences for misbehavior in a foreign country most likely driven by the thoughts that (a) I won't get caught and (b) even if I do get caught, I will be dealt with in the same manner as if I were in the United States (Miranda Rights, fair trial, jury of my peers, etc. etc. etc.) only to learn that the systems and the penalties in other countries are much different and harsher.

21-year-old Otto Frederick Warmbier is accused of allegedly  trying to steal a propaganda poster from his hotel while visiting North Korea. The sign was written in Korean, so I can't fathom what Mr. Warmbier intended to do with it had he gotten away with it. Some would say a school boy prank or perhaps Mr. Warmbier wanted a souvenir.

The first problem I have with this story is the fact that we as Americans were already warned not to visit North Korea for myriad reasons, yet Mr. Warmbier chose to disregard the caution and visited the country anyway. As if that were not bad enough, he goes there and allegedly tries to steal a poster which this act in the U.S. would have been probably viewed as an act of vandalism and not necessarily a big deal. A misdemeanor such as this in the U.S. probably would have garnered a mere slap on the wrist or maybe a fine and some community service. At best, a verbal tongue lashing from a judge. But in North Korea, that act cost Mr. Warmbier fifteen years of hard labor in a North Korean facility.

In 1994, when Mr. Warmbier was probably still in the womb, another youngster Michael P. Fay, an 18-year-old high school student from Ohio who was attending the Singapore American School, thought it would be fun to spray-paint cars and deface property over a ten day period of time. For his days of fun, Fay was sentenced to four months in prison and six strokes from a four-foot-long, six-inch-wide rattan cane. The saga became known as The caning of Michael Fay. Even the intervention of then President Bill Clinton did not overturn the punishment.

Americans need to think about culture before traveling because the world does not live by our American culture. The world does not operate under the same rules of law and protocols that we do in United States. Learning about the culture you are traveling to is one of the first rules of traveling internationally.  For example blowing your nose in public in Japan is considered rude; showing the sole of your shoe is an insult in the Arab culture; In China, avoid personal contact with people and the opposite sex should never touch in public; Lastly, right hands have been cut off at the wrist as punishment for theft in Sharia-controlled areas of Nigeria and in Saudi Arabia.

We must know before we board that plane or cruise ship that other countries are not as tolerating of even the smallest of what they consider criminal activity as we are in the United States. As that old saying goes, "Think BEFORE you act."  Something to critically think about.

You are invited to listen to me live as host of The Reading Circle each Saturday at 6 a.m. Eastern Daylight Savings Time (EDST) as I web stream around the world on gobrave.org and locally on FM radio in northern New Jersey on WP88.7 FM. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and readingcircle01.