The Big Year

I bought The Big Year a while back but have been avoiding watching it because, well because.

I finally watched it tonight. It went instantly into my top 100 list of all time great movies. Maybe higher.

It’s subtle, it’s fun, it has a laid back cast of great comedians, Jack Black, Steve Martin, Owen Wilson.

I absolutely loved it. Who knew bird watching could be such a feel good experience.

Written by Waine Riches

The End of Men by Hanna Rosin

I finished reading The End of Men by Hanna Rosin Saturday. It’s one of those books that takes everything which we know is already happening and puts it into words, and by doing so at just the right moment, becomes a monumental event.

I’ve certainly been seeing the changing roles of men and women in my everyday life. Of course, I’m in a somewhat unique position. I meet with and receive emails from a whole lot of people going through family law problems. Ten and fifteen years ago, there would be one or two men who had been the stay at home dad’s in their marriages to a doctor or other high wage earner. These men would ask if there was a possibility of them getting custody, and perhaps having the court order their wives to pay alimony. The answer of course was, yes.

In recent years these numbers are increasing. But they are not really a full indication of the phenomenon that’s occurring. A family break up for most people will be years down the road from the point where they actually agree to their roles in the new family order.

More to the point is the daily lives of people around me. There’s been a tidal wave of marriages where the woman is older than the man, in many cases significantly older by ten to twenty years. And in marriage after marriage, the woman is the main breadwinner. In many instances, the man stays at home taking care of the kids. In fact, of the marriages of people I’m personally acquainted with, far more fit this new mode than the so called traditional marriage.

I was surprised to see that Hanna Rosin was taking so much flak from feminists. I guess it’s understandable. They feel that women are not yet fully equal to men and they need to keep pressing on with the fight. True enough. But that doesn’t detract from what is really happening in the changing roles we are seeing before our eyes right now.

In her book, Hanna Rosin says one of the women critical about The End of Men has been Stephanie Coontz. I happen to be a fan of Stephanie Coontz, and think that her Marriage, a History was at the time it was written, a monumental accomplishment in its own right. But from my personal observations, I’d have to go with Hanna Rosin on this one. It’s true that women have a long way to go, especially at the top. But unless there is a swing of major and epic proportions in the path the world economy is headed, it’s a foregone conclusion that women will soon not only be holding top positions in business and government, but women will be dominating those positions. And if the two main political parties in the United States don’t run women as presidential candidates in 2016, they will each do so at their own peril.

Hanna Rosin didn’t say that the changing role of women is a train roaring at us at full speed. But it is. There is always the possibility it might be derailed. But it’s highly unlikely. As most of us common folk who have not been involved in the long feminist struggle know, there’s no sense in continuing to wage a bitter battle when the war has already been won. There is a quiet revolution occurring in homes and families throughout the world, not because of ideology but because of simple necessity. This is a change that’s taken place because the old economic model is no longer available to the masses. Most of the people actually living in the new family order have no connection to the feminist movement. They have begun structuring their family in the way that makes the most sense to them, whether they are in single parent households, or women selecting male partners who will best fit into the new male role as a more fully participating member of a family with children. The stay at home dad is likely to become less of an exception and much more the general rule as women literally take over educational institutions and workplaces. It’s as simple as that.

Closer to home, here in Utah, the President and counselors of the LDS church should take a few hours out of their busy lives and read The End of Men. Perhaps the natural change that’s occurring is a message from higher authority. It’s time that women were given full equality. The church is bleeding members at a pace not seen since the Kirtland Bank fiasco. The church leadership needs to be asking themselves how it is that a family with a woman as the main force and breadwinner will last when the church continues to teach and in every way support the ideology that the man is the single important member of that family structure. If they want to save the church from its rapid decline, it’s time to rethink the entire concept of patriarchy.

But I digress. I highly recommend The End of Men for everyone who, as with me, sees this vast sweeping change in the roles of men and women which is occurring throughout every aspect of our lives. Hanna Rosin has put words to this implosion of long held beliefs, and the rapid onset of a new world which we are experiencing right in front of our eyes.

Written by Waine Riches

I Finished it!

Those who know me, know that I love to write. Yesterday I finished the rough of the novel I’m working on. There’s a hard to describe excitement about having done that. It’s not the first book I’ve written. In fact, I have three completed manuscripts waiting for illustration. I call them my Dream Stories series. There are arount 120 short stories in the three books, all starting from actual night time dreams.

But this novel is different. Getting a single story this far is always exhilarating. If I had Champaign, I’d celebrate.

Actually, I’d probably drink a beer if I had one. I’m not a Champaign kind of guy.

The story is about a fictitious boy in a fictitious town in rural Utah in the late ’60s and early 70′s. There are a lot of Utah authors writing about the Utah experience. But what they write always seems so filtered, so sanitized. Even Rocky Olsen writing his excellent true account of his Vietnam experience self censors, doesn’t include cuss words.

These writers don’t seem to capture the experience I had. My goal in writing this novel is to create something much closer to what it felt like when I was a teenager in rural Utah.

I’m sure it will take years from here before the general public gets a chance to read what I have written. There’s still a lot of work ahead. But I’m feeling a certain sense of accomplishment nonetheless.

My son makes movies. He’s been asking me when I’d have the rough manuscript done. He wants to use it to write a movie script. When I sent him a text yesterday, he sent one back: “Awesome!” He’s in Corpus Christi, Texas, for a film festival screening of our movie “Must Come Down.” I hope things are going well. This is the fourth festival to invite us this year, including one in Germany. Which is good considering we’ve already released and last year was our year for film festivals.

But damn! I’m feeling good about finishing that rough draft.

Maybe I should celebrate.

Posted by Waine Riches

I Love this Attorney!

I was checking my email and ran across an interview of Laura Wasser on Huffington Post. What intrigued me is that Laura Wasser answered the interviewer’s questions almost word for word the way I would have. Laura Wasser also has a book out “It Doesn’t have to be that way.” It seems to me like a good start for anyone considering divorce: Laura Wasser

Huffington Post also has an article entitled: Laura Wasser, Celebrity Divorce Lawyer, Shares Top 10 Rules Divorcing Couples Should Follow. Ten Rules The ten Rules strike me as something we should all be following whether we’re divorcing or not.

Posted by Waine Riches

Ain’t Love Grand!

“Now for my proposition; it is more particularly for my sisters, as it is frequently happening that women say they are unhappy. Men will say, ‘My wife, though a most excellent woman, has not seen a happy day since I took my second wife; No, not a happy day for a year,’ says one; and another has not seen a happy day for five years. It is said that women are tied down and abused: that they are misused and have not the liberty they ought to have; that many of them are wading through a perfect flood of tears, because of the conduct of some men together with their own folly.

“I wish my own women to understand that what I am going to say is for them as well as others, and I want those who are here to tell their sisters, yes, all the women of this community, and then write it back to the States, and do as you please with it. I am going to give you from this time to the 6th day of October next, for reflection, that you may determine whether you wish to stay with your husbands or not, and then I am going to set every woman at liberty and say to them, No go your way, my women with the rest, go your way. And my wives have got to do one of two things; either round up their shoulders to endure the afflictions of this world, and live their religion, or they may leave, for I will not have them about me. I will go into heaven alone, rather than have scratching and fighting around me. I will set all at liberty. ‘What, first wife too?’ Yes, I will liberate you all….

“I wish my women, and brother Kimball’s and brother Grant’s to leave, and every woman in this Territory, or else say in their hearts that they will embrace the Gospel – the whole of it…. say to your wives, ‘Take all that I have and be set at liberty; but if you stay with me you shall comply with the law of God, and that too without any murmuring and whining. You must fulfill the law of God in every respect, and round up your shoulders to walk up to the mark without any grunting.’ Now recollect that two weeks from tomorrow I am going to set you at liberty. But the first wife will say, ‘It is hard, for I have lived with my husband twenty years, or thirty, and have raised a family of children for him, and it is a great trial to me for him to have more women;’ then I say it is time that you gave him up to other women who will bear children. If my wife had borne me all the children that she ever would bare, the celestial law would teach me to take young women that would have children….

“Sisters, I am not joking, I do not throw out my proposition to banter your feelings, to see whether you will leave your husbands, all or any of you. But I do know that there is no cessation to the everlasting whining of many of the women in this Territory; I am satisfied that this is the case. And if the women will turn from the commandments of God and continue to despise the order of heaven, I will pray that the curse of the Almighty may be close to their heels, and that it may be following them all day long….

“Prepare yourselves for two weeks from tomorrow; and I will tell you now, that if you will tarry with your husbands, after I have set you free, you must bow down to it, and submit yourselves to the celestial law. You may go where you please, after two weeks from tomorrow; but, remember, that I will not hear any more of this whining.”

- Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 4, pp. 55-57, also printed in the Deseret News, v. 6, pp. 235-236

Ten Thousand Hours

Malcom Gladwell writes that to become an expert at something, we must spend ten-thousand hours doing it.

As you all know, the thing I want to be good at is writing. It’s a bucket list item for me. I want to write a book that other people enjoy and get as much out of as the truly remarkable books I’ve read in my lifetime. My theory goes like this: I have received so much from great books, it’s my duty to give back. Only problem is, I can’t write so well. Not yet, that is.

So I go at it every day. Even if it’s only a journal entry. I never miss a day of writing something.

I have two books out on Amazon. I consider them my kindergarten books. They’re mostly bits of journal entries, poetry, very short writings.

My next series will be Dream Stories. These are volumes of short stories. I get up in the morning, remember my dreams from the night before, and as I write them down, make a story out of them. It’s a fun process. I see a movie play out in my head, and write as fast as I can to capture as much of it as possible before Poof! the dreams are gone. I don’t know about the rest of you, but my dreams are twisted and sordid and upsetting. They have political meanings and leanings that I don’t even agree with. But then there are the ones that are innocent, and fun. And a whole lot of others that are full of sexual adventure. I like all of them.

I’ve had Dream Stories Volume I ready to go for some time. It just needs the illustrations. The next two manuscripts, Dream Stories Volume II and III, are ready to be made into proofs.

I consider the Dream Stories project to be my books at a third grade level. And it’s a long way from third grade to making a book which truly gives back what I owe.

The secret to getting there, I believe, will be to never give up. Something I’ve trained the little voices in my head to repeat to me over and over. They’re quite obsessive compulsive and do a good job of it.

I’ve noticed, though, it’s easy to keep myself energized when someone says: “I love your book, and your writing style! Are going to publish?” (Yes, I do have a few fans already.)

It’s a little harder when someone says: “The book just didn’t do anything for me.” I’m pretty sure this is a nice way of them saying they thought it was a piece of crap and hated it.

So far no one has made death threats or pummeled me with ripe tomatoes. But I figure those are part of the process, and they will come soon enough. It’s when that happens that I will need to listen most to the little voices in my head: “Don’t give up! That book didn’t work so well, but the next one will really piss them off.”

I wonder what was going through Salman Rushdie’s mind after the Ayatollah Khomeini sentenced him to death in a Fatwa and a significant portion of the Muslim world went looking for him to carry it out? I know this, whatever he was thinking, he kept on writing. And that’s the answer.

I’m expecting two things to happen along the way to my writing the book I want to write, the one which gives back even the smallest part of my debt to the rest of the writers of the world. One, I will make huge mistakes. Two, I have promised myself that I won’t give up till I get it right (and I won’t if my past behavior is any indication of the future).

Naomi sent me a link to a short article with two videos. One by Karen X. Cheng, and one by Ira Glass. The article is Want to Conquer a New Skill? Do It Every Day, by Drake Baer. The gist of what all three are saying is: Quality follows quantity. If you want to do something, and be very good at it, then do it every day, and do as much as you can.

Makes sense to me.

http://www.fastcompany.com/3015027/leadership-now/want-to-conquer-a-new-skill-do-it-every-day

Waine Riches

The NSA and Spying on Americans

I don’t get it. I mean the sudden fuss about the NSA spying on everyone living here in the good old U.S. of A. Everyone’s running around like a chicken with its head cut off. But this is not a sudden and blindingly new revelation. People in the know have been shouting about the U.S. government spying on its own citizens for almost a decade now. And this includes the specifics of the NSA fiasco. Even yours truly wrote a piece back in 2008.

So why all the fuss at this particular moment. Don’t get me wrong. I’m pretty excited to see the ACLU spring to action, sue over the constitutionality of the whole thing. But lets say five or ten years from now the U.S. Supreme Court rules the entire NSA system of super computers located in Utah for the collection of our comunications needs to be shut down. That doesn’t mean no one will be collecting our keystrokes, emails, and phone conversations.

What the media has failed to report on is that everything in the world is now connected together. When you pick up the phone in Salt Lake and call your mother in Provo, a distance of about 45 miles, that call doesn’t simply go on a copper wire between Salt Lake and Provo. It flows through junctions that may or may not even be in the United States. Foreign countries have as much access to our communications as our own government does. And foreign countries don’t bother about such niceties as the U.S. Constitution. They are actively gathering every keystroke we type and word we speak. By shutting down the NSA, we don’t stop a single thing from happening. If the U.S. government wants to know what you said to dear old mom in your last phone call, all they have to do is ask Israel, or England.

The people who need to be sued are the people in control of the satelites, phone cables, fiber optics. Until the actual mechanics of how the world communicates are changed, adding well thought out protections against spying, the U.S. Supreme Court can shout it’s dictates from the highest mountain. All that will happen is the electronics they use will send their pronouncement to Iran and China, where they will be added to the other six billion or so conversations being collected at the same instant.

The problem is in the hardware. I mean, yes, lets change the notion that a government spying on its own people is somehow in our own best interest and therefore OK. It’s neither in our interest, nor OK. But to really fix this problem, we need to go after some serious modifications to the entire electronic communications system, worldwide.

Written by Waine Riches