Genre of the Week: Dreamer by Ozzy Osbourne

Today is the 70th birthday of one of rock and roll’s greatest, Ozzy Osbourne. For about a half century, Ozzy awed many fans with songs like Mama I’m Coming Home, The Road to Nowhere, Back on Earth, Paranoid, and No More Tears, just to name a few, both as a soloist as well as with his band Black Sabbath. And while Black Sabbath has since disbanded, Ozzy is making his last hurrah on tour, capping off a long and adventurous career, which will be remmebered for his colorful performances both on and off stages.

Ozzy had many sides of music, including his soft ones. While Mama I’m Coming Home is one of the most popular pieces in that aspect, there is one that best delivers the message. And while many of us love to dream on, some of our dreams have come true, while others will eventually bear fruit when they are good and ready. Dreamer was released in 2001 but is still played on the airwaves to this day. Its winter setting in the video has many of us dreaming about our own futures- what we want and what is awaiting us.

So to bid Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, the Genre of the Week is Dreamer. Wishing you all the best on your birthday and best wishes for your future career after the final tour.

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FlFi Christmas 2018

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When Great Trees Fall by Maya Angelou

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Maya Angelou (1928-2014) was an American poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees. She had written seven autobiographies about her life, all of them having received accolades. She had written a great deal about society and the environment, her family and her hardships. But one of the poems somewhat stood out that deserves recognition post humus. This Genre special looks at life and death and how things change. It is somewhat tragic as it deals with the fall of the greats and the struggle to pick up where they have left off- to regenerate and regrow. This poem is dedicated to not only what has happened in California and the west coast with the forest fires, but also to all those whom we miss. Atfer all, we have a lot of growing up to do in order to understand how our environment works and how we should foster its growth in order to have any chance of life for future generations.

“When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down in tall grasses,
and even elephants lumber after safety.
When great trees fall in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines, gnaws on kind words unsaid,
promised walks never taken.

Great souls die and our reality,
bound to them, takes leave of us.
Our souls, dependent upon their nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed and informed by their radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always irregularly. 
Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never to be the same,
whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. 
Be and be better. 
For they existed.”

 

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The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus

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In connection with the recent attacks on Central American migrants wishing to cross the border separating Mexico and the United States, the second segment of this poem has been echoing throughout the social network scene.

Little do they realize is this important section comes from a poem written by Emma Lazarus entitled the New Colossus. Written in 1883, Ms. Lazarus’ mission for this poem is to empower the US at that time to be the open gates that welcomed those wishing to flee the country for a better life. Originally written as part of a fund raiser for the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty, which had been in construction at that time, it had been set aside and forgotten when The Lady was completed and opened to the public in 1886. Lazarus died a year later at the age of 38, after becoming serious ill after her second trip to Europe. Yet, her friend Georgina Schuyler, campaigned to have her and her poem memorialized in 1901. Two years later, a plaque with her poem was created for the inside wall of the pedestal inside the Statue of Liberty, dedicating it in her memory and to the immigrants who saw the statue as the symbol of freedom and a new life. The original writing can be found at the American Jewish Historical Society in New York City.   The entire poem follows these lines below:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

 

This poem is dedicated to the thousands of Latin Americans fleeing repression and violence in their homelands for the United States to have a better life. The same goes for the refugees of Syria, Yemen, Iraq and parts of the Middle East and Africa who are seeking a better life in Europe and eventually the States as well. Always remember, the light will always be on; the door open, even if you toil through the waters, barracades and those who reject you. You are all always welcome.

 

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Emma Lazarus (1849-1887) had Jewish ancestry with her family originating from Germany and Portugal. Although she had spent almost her entire life in New York City, much of her writing has to do with the German heritage as she has written poems and stories with the likes of Wolfgang von Goethe and Heinrich Heine mentioned. The poetry works of these two German writers were adapted into English by Ms. Lazarus. Other themes of her works written had to do with immigration and its hardships as well as the Jewish religion, which she was born and raised into.  Details on her life and work can be found here.

 

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Fl Fi USA

Genre of the Week: Cordula Grün by Josh

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Each country has its own one-year wonder, a song that is (one of) the most popular for the whole year and is the trademark of its own culture. Most of these one-hit wonders that is popular during the year are produced by up-and-going musicians, many of whom fade into the background after the hit has past.

We’re hoping that the musician Josh will be the one in the minority. Born and raised in Vienna, this musician was getting a start in his musical career when this one-hit wonder came out in 2018 entitled “Cordula Grün,” a story of a love affair with a person bearing this name.  The rhythm and story go together like bread and butter, resulting in the hit reaching the top five in Austria and Bavaria (in the category of Volksmusik), whereas it has been in the top 30 in Germany.  This unique pop song will more likely get some accolades in the next year, but for this year, it has earned the honors of being the Files’ Genre of the Week. Enjoy and feel free to comment on this unique song:

 

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Documentary: Deaths in Despair: The End of the American Dream

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A while back, I wrote an essay on the American Dream and how it has changed over the past half decade to a point where it has become diverse in many ways, shape and form. In theory one can achieve the dream through hard work. In praxis, however, it is a totally different league. And especially within the last decade, this American Dream has become more and more materialistic, divided based on money, power and even social, ethnical and cultural backgrounds, and especially since Donald Trump has taken over, more dysfunctional than at any time in American history.

No wonder why these dystopian variants are leading to the breakdown of families and friendships, the rise in violence and in many cases, as we can see in this documentary below, the rise in the rate of suicides. Nobel prize-winning economist Angus Deaton, and his wife, fellow Princeton Prof. Anne Case, have traveled together with Wall Street Journal’s Jason Belini from coast to coast to find out what is leading to the disappearance of the American Dream, and how it is impacting other countries in many ways, shape and form. In this 10-minute documentary, produced by Moving Upstream, the three take a look at this and whether suicide and other social pathologies are causing this almost seven-decade long dream to become a memory.

Watch this clip and have a look at the questions you can discuss below. For the American expatriates residing overseas, like yours truly, this is definitely worth watching and discussing for elements of the American Dream are impacting other countries, including those you are living in.

 

 

  1. What has changed in the American Dream over the past decades?
  2. What variants could benefit keeping the American Dream alive?
  3. Aside from the suicide rate, what variants are contributing to the death of the American Dream? 
  4. If there was a luxury that you had growing up as a child (be it 30 years ago or more) that you miss in today’s society, what would it be and why?
  5. If you were the president of the US and had to look at the problems facing America, especially in this clip, what would you do to make the lives of Americans better and help them fulfill their happiness?
  6. How is the American Dream affecting other countries? 
  7. How is social media affecting American society?
  8. Is it true that the high rate of suicide in the US is negatively affecting the American Dream? If not, what other factors are contributing to its demise? 

 

Fl Fi USA

The Rocky Principle

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Author’s Note: I was in Vienna recently and was at the Belvedere Castle when I captured a pair of pics of this statue. In light of the recent events that are going on in our world, one cannot just sit back and let things unfold. If one is unhappy in what is offered, then it is right to make these changes, no matter what price to pay. This poem is in connection with an incident where a person had asked me to fail him a test. The request was denied because as a teacher, it is important for the student to at least try and pass it, instead of failing and with that, drop his grade average significantly. And like in Rocky Balboa, sometimes one has to gain a few points and build off the attempts in order to succeed in the long term. So for all the teachers, coaches, bosses and parents out there, this poem is for you. 

 

There are many aspects that I will tolerate in life because life is full of trial and error.

I will tolerate you talking out of turn, for in turn my fury will make your mouth burn.

I will tolerate you and your insults, for my insults will hurt you more as a result.

I will tolerate you and your attacks, for my attacks will get you back even in the back.

I will tolerate you and your facebook posts, for your posts will be roast by me boasting.

I will tolerate you chasing me, for my friends will chase you and race you until you have no space.

I will tolerate you and your cheating, for your cheating will turn the kitchen into heat.

I will tolerate you trying to kill me, for your bill in the end is killing yourself.

 

But the one thing I will not tolerate is you not wanting to try.

 

All have eyes eager to try

With tireless desire

To reach for the stars and become a star.

To dream big and win bigger.

 

But to be a quitter means to give up

And yourself you will never forgive

At least make an attempt to try

Even if you come away dry.

 

It’s better to garner a few points

It’s better to learn a few points

It’s better collect a few points

Instead of not getting any points.

 

So if you ask me to fail you,

You will indeed fail,

For I will not let you fail

And you shall try not to fail.

 

And even if you fail,

You will fail by trying

And your existence you are justifying

While learning for your next try.

 

It’s better to get a few points,

Than to get no points.

 

Do you understand now?

 

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Fl Fi USA

The True Definition of a Liberal

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A couple weeks ago, I came across a nice long story of what a Liberal is in the United States through a fellow American ex-pat residing in Flensburg, who had gotten it from another person, who had gotten it from another person, who had…… Well, to put it just- it is a chain letter. And one that needs clarification for the definition of conservative and liberal have become so misinterpreted in ways that the public simply does not understand. And before a “leader” tries to tell you what he thinks these type of people are, in the form of liberals (when in all reality, he’s not even CLOSE to being the conservative that we grew up with), let’s have a look at the definition of a “Liberal” from this writer’s point of view, just for the purpose of thinking about it before starting a conversation to reason with those who think Liberals are Socialists or what-have-yous. It’s far different than what we think: 

 

“An open letter to friends and family who are shocked to discover I’m a liberal (likely nobody in my individual case.) I’ve always been a liberal, but that doesn’t mean what a lot of you apparently think it does.

 

Let’s break it down, shall we? Because quite frankly, I’m getting a little tired of being told what I believe and what I stand for. Spoiler alert: Not every liberal is the same, though the majority of liberals I know think along roughly these same lines:

 

  1. I believe a country should take care of its weakest members. A country cannot call itself civilized when its children, disabled, sick, and elderly are neglected. Period.

 

  1. I believe healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Somehow that’s interpreted as “I believe Obamacare is the end-all, be-all.” This is not the case. I’m fully aware that the ACA has problems, that a national healthcare system would require everyone to chip in, and that it’s impossible to create one that is devoid of flaws, but I have yet to hear an argument against it that makes “let people die because they can’t afford healthcare” a better alternative. I believe healthcare should be far cheaper than it is, and that everyone should have access to it. And no, I’m not opposed to paying higher taxes in the name of making that happen.

 

  1. I believe education should be affordable and accessible to everyone. It doesn’t necessarily have to be free (though it works in other countries so I’m mystified as to why it can’t work in the US), but at the end of the day, there is no excuse for students graduating college saddled with five- or six-figure debt.

 

  1. I don’t believe your money should be taken from you and given to people who don’t want to work. I have literally never encountered anyone who believes this. Ever. I just have a massive moral problem with a society where a handful of people can possess the majority of the wealth while there are people literally starving to death, freezing to death, or dying because they can’t afford to go to the doctor. Fair wages, lower housing costs, universal healthcare, affordable education, and the wealthy actually paying their share would go a long way toward alleviating this. Somehow believing that makes me a communist.

 

  1. I don’t throw around “I’m willing to pay higher taxes” lightly. If I’m suggesting something that involves paying more, well, it’s because I’m fine with paying my share as long as it’s actually going to something besides lining corporate pockets or bombing other countries while Americans die without healthcare.

 

  1. I believe companies should be required to pay their employees a decent, livable wage. Somehow this is always interpreted as me wanting burger flippers to be able to afford a penthouse apartment and a Mercedes. What it actually means is that no one should have to work three full-time jobs just to keep their head above water. Restaurant servers should not have to rely on tips, multibillion-dollar companies should not have employees on food stamps, workers shouldn’t have to work themselves into the ground just to barely make ends meet, and minimum wage should be enough for someone to work 40 hours and live.

 

  1. I am not anti-Christian. I have no desire to stop Christians from being Christians, to close churches, to ban the Bible, to forbid prayer in school, etc. (BTW, prayer in school is NOT illegal; *compulsory* prayer in school is – and should be – illegal). All I ask is that Christians recognize *my* right to live according to *my* beliefs. When I get pissed off that a politician is trying to legislate Scripture into law, I’m not “offended by Christianity” — I’m offended that you’re trying to force me to live by your religion’s rules. You know how you get really upset at the thought of Muslims imposing Sharia law on you? That’s how I feel about Christians trying to impose biblical law on me. Be a Christian. Do your thing. Just don’t force it on me or mine.

 

  1. I don’t believe LGBT people should have more rights than you. I just believe they should have the *same* rights as you.

 

  1. I don’t believe illegal immigrants should come to America and have the world at their feet, especially since THIS ISN’T WHAT THEY DO (spoiler: undocumented immigrants are ineligible for all those programs they’re supposed to be abusing, and if they’re “stealing” your job it’s because your employer is hiring illegally). I’m not opposed to deporting people who are here illegally, but I believe there are far more humane ways to handle undocumented immigration than our current practices (i.e., detaining children, splitting up families, ending DACA, etc).

 

  1. I don’t believe the government should regulate everything, but since greed is such a driving force in our country, we NEED regulations to prevent cut corners, environmental destruction, tainted food/water, unsafe materials in consumable goods or medical equipment, etc. It’s not that I want the government’s hands in everything — I just don’t trust people trying to make money to ensure that their products/practices/etc. are actually SAFE. Is the government devoid of shadiness? Of course not. But with those regulations in place, consumers have recourse if they’re harmed and companies are liable for medical bills, environmental cleanup, etc. Just kind of seems like common sense when the alternative to government regulation is letting companies bring their bottom line into the equation.

 

  1. I believe our current administration is fascist. Not because I dislike them or because I can’t get over an election, but because I’ve spent too many years reading and learning about the Third Reich to miss the similarities. Not because any administration I dislike must be Nazis, but because things are actually mirroring authoritarian and fascist regimes of the past.

 

  1. I believe the systemic racism and misogyny in our society is much worse than many people think, and desperately needs to be addressed. Which means those with privilege — white, straight, male, economic, etc. — need to start listening, even if you don’t like what you’re hearing, so we can start dismantling everything that’s causing people to be marginalized.

 

  1. I am not interested in coming after your blessed guns, nor is anyone serving in government. What I am interested in is sensible policies, including background checks, that just MIGHT save one person’s, perhaps a toddler’s, life by the hand of someone who should not have a gun. (Got another opinion? Put it on your page, not mine).

 

  1. I believe in so-called political correctness. I prefer to think of it as simple common courtesy. If I call you Chuck and you say you prefer to be called Charles I’ll call you Charles. It’s the polite thing to do. Not because everyone is a delicate snowflake, but because as Maya Angelou put it, when we know better, we do better. When someone tells you that a term or phrase is more accurate/less hurtful than the one you’re using, you now know better. So why not do better? How does it hurt you to NOT hurt another person?

 

  1. I believe in funding sustainable energy, including offering education to people currently working in coal or oil so they can change jobs. There are too many sustainable options available for us to continue with coal and oil. Sorry, billionaires. Maybe try investing in something else.

 

  1. I believe that women should not be treated as a separate class of human. They should be paid the same as men who do the same work, should have the same rights as men and should be free from abuse. Why on earth shouldn’t they be?

 

I think that about covers it. Bottom line is that I’m a liberal because I think we should take care of each other. That doesn’t mean you should work 80 hours a week so your lazy neighbor can get all your money. It just means I don’t believe there is any scenario in which preventable suffering is an acceptable outcome as long as money is saved.”

 

So, I’m a liberal.

 

To the writer who posted this and had this spread around, you are one of courage in getting this out. We need more of you out there. And to the friend in Flensburg, many thanks for allowing me to get this out! 🙂

 

Fl Fi USA