The Token Bad Guy: Osama bin Laden is Dead

From Ben Linus to bin Laden, evil has a name.

Now that President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden is officially dead, it makes me think about how there always how to be a “bad guy”, both locally and world-wide.

In Judd Apatow’s Jewish comedy (a franchise he has specialized in for the past decade, based on a strategic formula including Seth Rogen and/or Paul Rudd, a good dose of bromance, a classic soft rock soundtrack, mostly ad-lib dialogue, a heavy and almost dark dramatic element somewhere in the plot line, a running time of at least 2 hours and 15 minutes, an unpredictable ending but no “twist”, and constant references to reproductive organs) Funny People, there is a scene where Adam Sandler’s character is babysitting his ex-girlfriend’s two young daughters. As they play, one of the girls takes him captive like he’s a dragon, while the other has come to rescue him. He looks up at them and says to each one, “Are YOU the good guy or are YOU the good guy?”

While in cartoons and children’s own made-up playtime storylines the antagonist often takes pride in knowingly being evil, in real life the Bad Guy usually doesn’t realize that he’s the Bad Guy. It amazes me that there always has to be a handful of countries in the world that serve as a current Bad Country. It’s been England (watch the movie The Patriot about the Revolutionary War). It’s been Germany (the Nazi’s). It’s been Russia (watch Rocky IV) and still kinda is.

Why can’t the evil leader of a country think to himself: “Oh no! I’m ‘that guy’. I’m the bad person that’s causing problems with the rest of the world. I need to start with the man in the mirror and change my ways”. From what I’ve read about Adolph Hitler, in his own mind he simply was carrying out an ultimate version of Charles Darwin’s concept of “survival of the fittest”. He was only advancing what he saw as in the inevitable. He wasn’t a sadistic tyrant, not the way he saw it. He didn’t see himself as the Bad Guy.

From each holy war ever fought in history, down to the elementary school bully, the true villain is doing what is right according to his own view. The Bad Guy is dead wrong, yes. But he doesn’t see it that way.  While obviously I don’t have the potential to become a radical tyrannical leader of threatening foreign country, I still can find myself in a similar scenario as North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, by simply being the Bad Guy on a much lesser scale in everyday situations and not realizing it. If only Bad Guys always realized they’re the Bad Guy… well, it might help a little.

“We’re never gonna win the world, we’re never gonna stop the war. We’re never gonna beat this if belief is what we’re fighting for.” -John Mayer (“Belief”)

*Some bad guys, like this one, may or may not repent of their evil ways in the end.

How to Wear All Black, If You’re a Guy

Now that you’ve mastered How to Wear Pink, If You’re a Guy, try something even more difficult: black.

Gone are the days of the 1950’s beat generation or the grunge scene of the ‘90’s where dressing in all black meant you were a cool in a mysterious and artistic way. Today if a guy dresses in all black it sends one of the following wrong messages to the world:

1)     “I have recorded my own album called ‘Rock Tyme Central’, featuring me on electric guitar, keyboards, vocals, and back up vocals.”

2)      “Every once in a while, I put my tongue ring back in just to keep the hole from closing up.”

3)     “I worship Satan.”

When choosing to wear a black collared shirt, whether it’s a polo or long sleeved button down, unless you’re wearing with it dark jeans, you’re making a risky move, because you must carefully plan everything else you wear with it.

And since black shirts don’t usually work well with khaki pants (just like you can’t wear brown shoes with black pants), you will ultimately end up wearing some form of black pants: dark gray, charcoal, or faded black.  So technically, that means you’re wearing all black.

But these days, the only way to wear all black if you’re a guy is to not literally wear all black, but instead, pay tribute to the idea.  To pull this off, you must incorporate a color accent, or distraction, against the uniform consistency of your “all black” attire.  Like a blue t-shirt underneath your black shirt that barely shows through.  Or a white belt.  Or really nice Diesel style shoes with color in them- but not regular sneakers.

Manspeak, Volume 5: Movement

There are several obvious things that men are universally drawn to: women, sports, food, and watching bloody movies.  And then there are some that are less obvious, but just as common:  made-up handshakes and insulting/weird nicknames for each other, lying around for a good solid hour when we get home from work everyday, and not noticing little details like the pillows on the couch being out of place.


And here’s another one that is rarely noticed or acknowledged: Men are wired to want to help people move.  A few weeks ago I helped my good friend and neighbor Dave move to a rental apartment as he and his wife are in the process of building their first house.  I was expecting to see just a few more of our friends there.  Instead, there were about 20 of us there that Saturday morning.


As I run in my neighborhood, there have been several instances in the last few weeks where I encountered people who needed help moving a new TV or a shelf from their car into their house.  They saw a sweaty guy running laps and assumed I can handle the job.  I just hope they didn’t mind their TV smelling like sweat.


I have never been bothered by anyone who has everyone asked me to help them move.  In fact, in a way it’s almost an honor to be recruited:  There are unspoken, underlying, suggested compliments which translate to “You’re a strong guy/I need your strength/you are needed/you have what it takes/not just anyone can do this job for me, but you can”.


It doesn’t require a lot of strength or skill from a man.  But it does require a man who’s willing to forgo sleeping in on a Saturday morning, showing up in a cheesy t-shirt with sleeves cut off exposing his random bicep tattoo.  And while females are definitely capable of helping a person move, it’s a calling that men instantly respond to.  Like the same magnetic force causing men’s fists to want to punch Spencer Pratt in the face, it also draws them to pick up an end of the couch and cautiously walk backwards towards the truck.


Deprived of using our able bodies in the modern work force (most of us sit in front of a computer all day), our male ancestors actually “worked” for a living.  They got a daily workout by farming and building the cities we now live in.  Life in air conditioning is nothing to complain about, but there is the lack of physical stress that makes a person desire to actually use their muscles; hence gym membership and hobbies involving sports.


Men must move for things to happen.  Whether it’s moving off the recliner and involving himself with his family, or moving his family to where he can find a better job to provide for them.  Maybe it all goes back to the action figures we had as kids.  We didn’t mimic family life the way our sisters did with Barbies and baby dolls.  Our GI Joes, Ninja Turtles, and Star Wars action figures were on a mission.  To kick some bad guy butt.


Men are action figures.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com


Star Wars

Snail Trails: Your Memory May Be the Only Proof an Event Ever Happened

Nothing, not even a blank screen. Then suddenly on April 20, 1983, life as I know it began. Not the day I was born, but the day my memory started. With all my family gathered around me at the kitchen table, my first memory of life begins with a song- “Happy Birthday”. Maybe I was simply overwhelmed by that many people in the room at once. Maybe I thought the song had a sad tune. Maybe this is where I got my fear of being in front of a bunch of people with nothing to do or say. But all I had to do was just blow out that giant number “2” candle on my Mickey Mouse cake. Instead, I cried.

Flash forward to the summer of 1985. I put on my cowboy boots, grabbed my He-Man lunchbox, stood by the front door, and announced to my mom, “Okay, I’m ready for school! I want to meet friends.” I wasn’t even enrolled for pre-school yet, but my mom took care of it and a month later I was present at First Methodist’s “Mother’s Day Out” program (the year before Kindergarten: 1985-1986).

Though I was four years old, I can specifically remember that Simon Milazzo had a toy dog that I liked so much that my mom bought me one like his. I remember Meg Guice crying one day because somebody ate her pineapples when she was looking the other way. I remember Laura O’Dell gave me a valentine with a scratch ‘n’ sniff vanilla ice cream cone that smelled really good, while Alex Igou gave me a valentine with Darth Vader that said “Be Mine or Else…”.

I remember having a daily “play time” where we all went to the dark green carpeted fellowship hall where we were often forced to play “Duck, Duck, Goose” or sing and act out “The Farmer and the Dell”. Meg Guice would always want to be the wife when “the farmer chose a wife”. I never wanted to be chosen to play a character.

Instead, one day I wandered off to play with my fire truck. Alex Igou also managed to escape from the group, going to the opposite side of the room. We both got in trouble for doing this so the teacher put us in “time out” together. Alex said to me, “Do you like your truck I got for you?” (It was the one he gave me at my birthday party.)

I used to think I was weird for having such detailed and vivid memories from such an early age. But while in my Childhood Developmental Psychology class in college, the professor asked those of us who had a vivid memory from age two or younger to raise our hands. Twenty-five percent of us raised our hands and then had to share with everyone what our memory was. We were told that having a memory that clear from such a young age isn’t common, but it’s not abnormal either.

When I think of elementary school, I don’t remember much about what I learned, but I definitely remember clear conversations and events starring my classmates: In 2nd grade (1988-1989) while in line for a relay race during P.E., I was standing next to Cody Vartanian and Charles Robertson. In honor of the new Nintendo game, Cody said to Charles, “Skate or die!” Charles firmly responded, “I don’t have to skate if I don’t want to skate and I don’t have to die if I don’t want to die”.

Last week I told the story of breaking up a fight while dressed as a giant wolf exactly ten years ago, during my final month of high school (see “Cry Wolf”). I feared that it may come across like I had in some form exaggerated the details. According to my memory, no one I was friends with was there to witness it. So I was much relieved when Adrianne McClung Smith commented on the story, saying she was fortunate enough to see the event in person.

For many childhood memories we have, however, there was not a “constant” in the equation. In other words, without someone else who was there who still remembers a specific event taking place, in essence it only happened in our own minds. It makes me think of the “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it…” question. My immediate response was always to ask if I could put a tape recorder in the forest before the tree fell. My next response was to realize I didn’t care if anybody heard the stupid tree fall anyway.

In the same way, I exclusively hold thousands of memories recorded in my mind. Memories about people I grew up with. Memories these people would never have known happened unless I tell them. Since I am the only person to verify such specific events, in theory they happened BECAUSE I remember them.

All anyone else can do is question the validity of my memory. But I know for a fact these memories are real, not simply evolved from a dream or an old snapshot. Everyone else has this ability though, at least to some degree if nothing else. Every person alive owns exclusive copyrights to memories involving other people.

I am constantly disappointed with the sad truth that even in the year 2009, there is no such thing as time travel. So badly I want to go back to those actual random memories; I want to replay them. In the back of my mind I’m hanging on to this thread of a hope that somehow someday I can revisit my past. Not to change it. Just to see it again, like a good movie.

This hope that when I get to Heaven there will be a series of doors with a different year written on each one, allowing me to revisit- in the likeness of Disney World’s Epcot Center how you can visit several “countries”. Evidently I have a condition which causes me to leave a trail of me behind throughout the history of my life, like a snail. At any given point, I am living in both the present moment and simultaneously each year of the past since my memory began in 1983.

As a writer and as an every day conversationalist, things seem incomplete to me without a nostalgic year or story in there somewhere. Some people have a habit of going off on “rabbit trails”. I end up on “snail trails” instead. My short-term memory is awful- I can’t remember who won American Idol last season. But my petty long-term memory is a little bit Rain Man-esque.