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Hello I am Billy Dees and I am thrilled that you stopped by my website! This website is a collection of my editorials and blog posts. Social issues, politics, and pop culture are among the topics featured. The Billy Dees Podcast is available on most of the major internet radio platforms. An episode list starting with the most recent and live shows will appear here:

Listen to "Billy Dees Podcast Show" on Spreaker.


It Doesn't Take Much to Get Into Trouble

Humor

One summer day last year I was in the middle of my morning routine when the doorbell rang. I absolutely despise somebody ringing my doorbell or pounding on the door especially at 8:00 AM.

So, in typical fashion I ignored it. There isn’t anything that anybody who has been banging on my door has to say that interests me. I don’t care if you are selling gold bricks for a dollar you can go pound salt.

In the meantime, I checked outside and noticed that the bell ringer happened to be the young woman who lived next door to me and she was going from house to house as if she needed help. So alright, in this day and age of stalkers and serial killers, I decided that I might as well put my shoes on to go outside and find out what in the hell was going on.

It turned out that all this fuss was about the fact that she had just started a new job and her car wouldn’t start. She was afraid she was going to be late. By this time a man who was parked in the street, some goon who wouldn’t even say hi to me, offered his car battery to her but didn’t have jumper cables. Already regretting my decision to come outside but yet still trying to be helpful, I offered them the use of a set of cables that I had in my garage.

We got her car started and the goofy Good Samaritan, whoever he was, disappeared into the ether as quickly as he appeared. She seemed relieved that I had stayed with her until the stranger left and she could be safely on her way.

I presumed that was my good deed for the day and that was that.

A day or so passed and I was sitting in my living room when my wife got home early one evening. Without so much as a hello my wife blew into the room and asked me, “What is with this cake that was on the front porch?”

Sure enough she was standing in the doorway holding a cake. I very politely replied, “I don’t know anything about no damn cake.”

To which my wife sharply responded, “And there’s a note on it that says, ‘Thanks for jumping me.’ What the hell?”

It is at this point that no matter what you say you are going to sound guilty of something. Frustrated I gave it my best shot, “Oh for crying out loud that must be from the woman next door who was pounding on the door yesterday morning because she couldn’t get her car started and there was this weird guy in the street who offered to help her but…”

My wife interrupted, “For God’s sake Bill, why didn’t you tell me about this yesterday?”

To which I very logically replied, “Because it never would have occurred to me again from now until the end of the world had it not been for that f**king cake!”

It doesn’t take much to get into trouble. The scripture says, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

It may not be the scripture that you are familiar with but it is the one that I live by.

Have You Ever Noticed?

Have you ever noticed that the people screaming about their right to free speech never listen to anyone else?

Have you ever noticed that “Breaking News” now means, “We still do not know anything more than we did an hour ago?”

Have you ever noticed that “beware of the dog” signs are usually posted in front of houses that you know damn well do not have a Godforsaken thing in them worth taking? Walking through the house would be an exercise in avoiding big piles of crap; some of which might actually belong to the dog.

Have you ever noticed that in order to legitimize any pseudo medical disorder all you have to do is attach the word “syndrome” to it? If you experience a painful itch in your groin area after working out then you may have “sticky tickly genitalia syndrome.”

Have you ever noticed that if you are not completely sensitive to the latest “syndrome du jour” or “the latest hip affliction everybody now has” trending on social media you are labeled a hater?

Have you ever noticed the sultry women whispering with a breathy voice in the Viagra commercials probably have had more experience with men suffering from premature ejaculation than erectile dysfunction?

Have you ever noticed those commercials are just a bit too short to enjoy to the fullest? Oh sorry, wait a minute let’s move on…

Have you ever noticed that electric cars need plugged in to charge? Where does the electricity come from much of the time? Mmmm, burning coal and other fossil fuels maybe?

Have you ever noticed that emailing has become on par with texting? “I emailed you the PDF over an hour ago haven’t you read it yet?”

Have you ever noticed that some posts just aren’t much focused and not worth clicking on?

Please notice that I am sorry.

My Fan Experience with George Michael

Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries2016 was a bad year for losing some great musical artists. Prince, David Bowie, and Glenn Frey are among the many notables who past away and were also some of my personally favorite musicians.

One of the other deaths that hit me was George Michael. For me, he was more or less in his own category. Prince and Bowie also helped redefine the image of masculinity but Michael brought a special sensitivity that seemed to resonate with me more as I matured myself. 

I was very young and just getting out into the world of real responsibilities when “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” came out by the duo of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley in the group “Wham.” The album “Make It Big” was released the latter part of 1984 and churned out hits through 1985. (Michael was the principle producer.)

George Michael and I were about the same age and “Wham” was all over the radio and TV that year. My 20-year-old self was getting the early stages of a sound business together while at Kent State. I was working with mostly rock bands and doing some of my first voice-overs and DJ work. When I mentioned “Wham” to some of my contemporaries the standard remark was, “You mean you listen to that little f*g?” I’m not sure that "term" was in reference necessarily to Michael’s sexuality (at that time little was known about it) but it was the standard pejorative used by many of my hard rock buddies toward all famous men who did not bite the head off of dead animals or brag about how many women they laid in one night.

My answer to that rude and awkward question was that I was interested in radio and I had to be aware of all types of music. By and large that was true, much of the music I was exposed to through working in the sound business would not be on my personal playlist at home. “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” was part of a wider group of songs to me at that time, however, “Careless Whisper” was already on my radar as an indication that something more was coming from George Michael.

When Michael’s solo album “Faith” was released in ‘87 & ‘88 my days of minimizing my status as a George Michael fan were over. He was a couple of years older and so was I. I had matured to the point that I was no longer going to back away from the things that I liked or the people who inspired me.

“I Want Your Sex” exploded onto the dance charts. The controversial video actually spelled out the message “explore monogamy” on the bare skin of a model.

As the hits kept coming from “Faith” it became apparent that Michael was more than a typical pop star. 

This is especially true when you consider the pop scene today. I don’t want to sound like the typical older guy who says that they just don’t make them like they used to. Objectively, yes there are a lot of talented people out there today. However, true artisans in the wide venue of pop culture are rare. I would caution current recording artists not to rely too much on technology. One thing that dates a song is relying on the technology of the time to carry the tune. No pun intended. Great vocals and writing, by contrast, are timeless.

“Father Figure” is a good example of an awesome song. It could almost be described as a ballad mixing elements of pop and gospel with rhythm and blues sensuality. At this point George Michael became a crossover artist of enormous significance in numerous genres. Michael wrote and produced the song. It is one of the first major pop hits that I am aware of that deeply explores the complexity of an intimate relationship; in this case a suggestion of erotic exploration and role playing by consenting adults, done with sensitivity and affection. Michael’s soulful vocals just float over the mix.

Let’s just say that we don’t hear songs like that every day. 

I particularly like the part of the song that goes:

"If you are the desert
I'll be the sea
If you ever hunger -
Hunger for me
Whatever you ask for
That's what I'll be...

So when you remember the ones who have lied
Who said that they cared
But then laughed as you cried
Beautiful darling
Don't think of me…

Because all I ever wanted…"

George Michael’s active reign as one of the biggest stars in the world may not have lasted as long as some others, but he helped open the door to a new style of male pop star. In this way I feel that I matured with him. He made it cool to be sensitive and passionate. He also had a fervent respect for the process and discipline of creativity in one’s work. Now, after his death, stories are surfacing of his wonderful generosity. The stories come as no surprise to me because the human side of him was apparent in his work and in the various interviews that I followed about him over the years.

For being thirty years old the video stands the test of time fairly well. It has somewhat of a cinematic and story-type feel to it more so than a series of flashes and quick edits usually present in music videos. However, like most great songs the video in any case is almost a distraction from Michael’s lyrics, the soulful sound of his voice, and his emotion in the singing. I would recommend listening to the song on a fairly good set of speakers if possible.

Interview with a 40 Year U.S. Navy Veteran (Podcast)

This podcast is an interview with Joe Prusacik, a veteran of the United States Navy who served for 40 years. During this interview we cover JFK, Joe's service during the Vietnam era, and how changes in military culture often relect those in society at large.

This podcast is also available on iTunes and Stitcher under "Billy Dees."

This photograph was taken August 23, 2016 at PerfectMediaProds Recording Studio 

Listen to "Interview with a 40 year U.S. Navy Veteran 8 23 2016" on Spreaker.

"How to Write and Share Humor" by Donna Cavanagh

Donna Cavanagh has just published a new book, “How to Write and Share Humor.”  

Featured in this post is the book trailer for the release.  

For those of you who are not familiar with the concept, a book trailer is a video about a book that is often stylized as a movie coming attraction. We chose a fairly straightforward approach highlighting the content of the book. Donna has had associates and friends send her pictures of the book from various landmarks around the country as part of her #SummerOfHumor tour. We assembled some of the images into a book trailer that I voiced-over. 

You can follow Donna Cavanagh on Twitter @dtcav and purchase her new book on Amazon

The week of August 1, 2016 I was featured in an interview by Donna on her site HumorOutcasts.com.

You can check out the interview post here. The feedback and support that I have received from staff members and readers has been fantastic and much appreciated. 

Podcast Competitive Cheerleading as a Sport

#Interview #Commentary #Sports

This podcast is an interview with Marissa, a former avid competitive chearleader and now a coach. In the show she discusses the sport and how competing in the world of cheerleading has affected her life. You can follow or tweet Marissa on Twitter @muhrisah_

Photograph taken March 18, 2016 at PerfectMediaProds Recording Studio

Listen to "Competitive Cheerleading and Its Classification as a Sport" on Spreaker.

“You Don’t Know What It Is Like Because It Has Never Happened to You.” - Are You Sure?

Editorial

How many times have people accused you of not being able to understand their situation because you have never experienced the same thing?

“You don’t know what it is like to be divorced because you are in a good marriage!”

It is true that not everyone is going to appreciate your personal trials and tribulations. However, I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss someone who may be trying to relate to your plight in life because he or she has not experienced the same issue. Yes, shared experiences can certainly be helpful to attain a spirit of commonality with another person regarding many things in life. By the same token, I wouldn’t say that a common experience is a prerequisite to a mutual understanding or is even as significant as it may seem.

Presuming the person you are trying to communicate with is a compassionate human being who is genuinely trying to understand your experience, we have to consider two things. The first thing is the capacity of the human mind. Secondly, events happen in a particular time and space. Is there such a thing as a truly identical experience in the first place?

I have never been on the moon but I know it’s damn hard to breathe up there. I do not have to go there to understand that.

On a scale of much superior grandeur, Albert Einstein mentally envisioned a gravitational reality of our universe, which only now is being proven to be true by our best scientific instruments. Stephen Hawking can imagine what it is like in the far reaches of space around the area of a black hole with amazing mathematical accuracy. I would never underrate the power of the human mind to imagine anything.

We must also consider that just because other people have had the “same” type of occurrence happen to them as we have, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they experienced it in the same way. Therefore, there is no guarantee that someone with a supposed common experience as you will have a greater understanding of it than someone who hasn’t. As a matter of fact, they may have less empathy.

“I don’t know what your problem is? I went through the same thing last year and I got through it. Nobody had to help me.”

When people say something like that to you it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have a stronger resolve than you. Along a more philosophical measure, what it may mean is that all of our experiences are more or less unique to us.

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.” – Heraclitus

If this is true then it follows that no two people can step into the same river twice in exactly the same manner either. We all step into the changing river as different and changing people, in a different spot, and at a very specific instant in time.

Who we are at any given time, where we are at any given time, and the given moment in time itself; all converge in a manner that is totally unique. We can’t duplicate it, and no one else can either.

My take away from this is that although we may share some general similarities regarding our experiences, at our singular core all of our profound experiences in life are exclusive to us.

In this sense, no one has been through what we, as individuals, have been through. In the end, if we are going to relate events that have impacted our lives to other people, regardless of their personal familiarities, we have to rely on their ability to understand that special spot in the universe that pertains to our inimitable experience.

“We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.”-Stephen Hawking

I believe that does make us, as human beings, very special. If we can contemplate our changing selves in a forever-fluctuating fabric of space and time, then I wouldn’t underestimate someone’s ability to fathom the circumstances and emotional impact of your divorce.

Be generous when communicating and let someone try to relate to your experiences.

Why Space Matters to Our Society and Economy

"In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world's leading space-faring nation." 

"There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all." 

"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."       

- John F. Kennedy September 12, 1962 

NASA ImageThe above quotes are from the famous speech that President Kennedy gave which set the goal of putting a man on the Moon during the 1960’s. The space program at that time had the backdrop of an early part of the cold war. Space interests in regard to national security and intelligence continue to be serious issues of today. If you review the entire Kennedy speech, you will find that the message is about investing in science and technology as much as it is about exploring space. Additionally, it speaks to a humanity that we all share. 

The resources allocated for NASA are a fraction of the overall budget for the United States and are often tragically limited because of incredibly wasteful general spending. Yet, so much has been brought forth by the investment in space technology for our society in so many ways. It is the one government program that has paid off. 

Here are just a few of the benefits that have been brought forth by the space program either directly or indirectly:

Semiconductor cubing, structural analysis, air quality monitors, virtual reality, aircraft controls, microcomputers (Hello to my friends on mobile devices with GPS!), design graphics, enriched baby food, water purification systems, scratch-resistant lenses, athletic shoes, shock-absorbing helmets, home security systems, smoke detectors, firefighting equipment, flat panel televisions, high-density batteries, trash compactors, food packaging and freeze-dried technology, microspheres, solar energy, weather forecasting, telemetry systems, laser angioplasty, human tissue stimulators, programmable pacemakers, arteriosclerosis detection, ultrasound scanners, automatic insulin pumps, portable x-ray devices, invisible braces, dental arch wire, palate surgery technology, clean room apparel, implantable heart aids, MRIs, bone analyzers, cataract surgery tools, magnetic liquids, advanced welding torches, gasoline vapor recovery, self-locking fasteners, machine tool software, laser wire strippers, lubricant coating processes, wireless communications, engine coatings, better brakes, weight saving technology, improved aircraft engines, advanced lubricants, energy storage systems, along with an array of other things.

Oh no! How could I have omitted golf ball aerodynamics? 

Advancements in space technology have enhanced our way of life, given birth to new products and industries for our economy, and improved the safety of the society in which we live.

NASA ImageIt is also of no small consideration for me that historically all of this progress has been under the umbrella of American leadership for the entire world. Although I am very glad that the world community has an interest in developing space technology, I do find it disconcerting that lately America seems perfectly content to go along for the ride. It is a common cliché reflecting the simplicity of any particular subject to say that, “It isn’t rocket science.” Well, as America’s math and science scores continue to lag behind large percentages of other populations pertaining to the world's largest economies, it seems as though we prefer things not to be rocket science. 

The United States can barely rouse a modicum of enthusiasm for serious space exploration. The space shuttle program is now gone leaving the U.S. to hitchhike rides aboard Russia’s spacecraft. NASA's ability to achieve new space-exploration milestones may very well be limping along because of the government’s disagreements about the agency's priorities. That is a shame because other countries, including China, seem to be picking up the ball. 

During a classic piece of news footage from the 1960s a reporter walked up to a woman in France and asked her how she felt about men walking on the Moon.  Her answer was, “I knew the Americans could do it.” What, exactly, does the world know about us now? What is synonymous with America?

At least there has been renewed American enthusiasm for a mission to Mars. I hope it continues!

I believe many of the social ills we have in our society and around the world are largely because of a lack of an education and an appreciation for the sciences. None of us are composed of a better set of elements than anyone else. We are all stardust and life is incredibly short. If we are lucky, among the billions that the Earth makes, only 80 or 90 some odd trips around the sun is all we get on our life's journey. 

The fragile biology of our bodies is supported by the same air, water, and nutrients that every living thing, which has ever existed on Earth, has thrived upon. Napoleon, Cleopatra, and even Tyrannosaurus Rex walked under the same sun and sky as we do. There haven’t been any new shipments of natural resources to the Earth. We rely heavily on the environment’s natural processes of decay and renewal, a system that we are rapidly beginning to outpace.

The more we know about our earthly home and how it relates to the incredible oneness that we all share, maybe the more likely it will be that we will make the world a harmonious place for all of us to share.

For my money, the scientific benefits for society as well as the economy, the insight into our existence, and the leadership by America of extending humanity’s reach into space, are entirely worth all of the investment into the space program.

NASA ImageExplorers have shaped and mapped our world. However, our world does not end at the top of our atmosphere. The planet on which we live is a product of a vast universe with endless possibilities. Our exploration into our existence is just beginning. 

 

 

“In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.” ― Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space