Thoughts on Loneliness

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I’m not lonely. I just feel lonely in this moment.

lonliness in the moment

Why are we humans so afraid of being alone?
Why do we perceive loneliness as an undesirable thing?
Why is the act of taking or being given a moment of solitude where our hands, eyes, mouth, mind and heart aren’t busy so disconcerting?
Why is an uncomfortable feeling automatically viewed as negative or detrimental by so many of us?

Loneliness in the moment is a good thing. A moment passes.
The loneliness reminds us of our desires, our needs.
It allows us to feel grateful for moments that are shared, moments that are full.
It guides us, gives us perspective.
Loneliness is contemplation.
Loneliness has been the fuel for periods of productivity, personal growth and great art.
When loneliness is shared through art, we all can identify with it because loneliness is a universally shared feeling. Experiencing loneliness is a big part of what it is to be human. It drives our desire to reach out.

Loneliness is what we choose make of it. We can embrace it and put it to good use or we can spiral down into it until we are lost!

I recently saw an article that conflated the correlation between loneliness and shorter life span to not having a love relationship and shorter lifespan. It completely missed how many people in relationships are heartbreakingly lonely. I am not involved in a  romantic relationship at the moment. Sure, there is part of me that would like to be, and oh do I miss sex which for me needs meaningful connection if I’m going to enjoy it, but the realities of the situation are that I do not get out much to meet people, online dating is an additional layer of hell for people my age.  I would rather hold out for someone who actually sees me for the amazing person I am with all my flaws and all of my glories and will treat me with respect and be able to feel the same about a partner than settle simply because I do not want to be alone. I have wasted a lot of time putting up with partners dumping abuse and baggage on me, I think it’s reasonable to prefer being single to doing that again.

But none of this means I am fully alone or that 24/7 loneliness is a given. Yes, I am lonely, but it is usually fleeting. There is so much that is not lonely about my life. My loneliness is not hollow, it is rich and present. I have learned to see it as a gift.

Disclaimer: This does not mean I have stopped hoping for a Scottish husband (or lady). You’ll have to pull this fantasy from my cold dead hands. *Those who know me are aware of my lifelong desire to visit and move to Scotland. There is also a running theory that the reason I have not found my true love is that they live in Scotland and I, alas am stuck here.

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Another Mothers Day Blog

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I don’t have the spoons to write a big Mother’s Day blog this year.

Mother’s Day is one of the rough ones for me. Honestly, ALL of the, “in your face commercialized holidays” are rough when you have painful family issues. It’s probably just as well, I’m still recovering and slept through the whole day. I missed most of the cheery, teary sugar and schmaltz and that’s just fine with me.

Some people I know and care about lost moms recently. Some have mothers who had health scares or were in the hospital this year. I want to send extra love to those who are missing their mothers and to those for whom Mother’s Day has extra meaning because they weren’t sure there mother’s would be here this year.

 
As always, I want to acknowledge those for whom Mother’s Day hurts because their relationship with their mother is/was difficult, terrible or absent. I want to acknowledge those mother’s who pulled out all the stops to love and protect their child but lost them anyway through death, drugs, mental illness or just emotional distance. I want to shout out to all the heroic parents who have had to be both Mom and Dad to their kids. And I want to give a big hug to all those Moms whose kids happen to be furry, feathered or scaled. You aren’t less than because you chose to nurture a pet rather than pop out a hooman. You have your reasons. It’s cool. Maternal love doesn’t discriminate.

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Beasts of No Nation

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“Sun, why are you shining on this world? I am wanting to catch you in my hands, to squeeze you until you cannot shine no more. That way, everything is always dark and nobody is ever having to see all the terrible things that are happening here”

-Agu (Beasts of No Nation)

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I made it a good way through the film as a witness, without shedding a tear until this haunting monologue, exquisitely executed by young marvel, Abraham Attah. I hope we are going to get to see more of this brilliant young actor who holds his own with Idris Elba!

I’m not going to go into the plot of this film much as it’s pretty straight forward. Like the novel, it describes the loss of innocence and experiences of a child soldier in Africa, like those of the, “Lost Boys.”  What I will say is this. You MUST, must see this film!

Beasts of No Nation is showing in the smaller arthouse theaters and you can also see it on Netflix! Netflix produced this film. It is breathtakingly beautiful, hopeful and heart crushing. The acting is superb. It’s not easy to watch, but it’s well worth your time and you won’t feel emotionally manipulated or as if you’ve been shown violence or gore for the sake of it. The violence is not gratuitously graphic. Neither is it glossed over.

As someone whose childhood horrors forged my PTSD, I have so much empathy for these child soldiers who are ripped from their families and molded into monsters. You do what you have to do to survive and if you are tenacious, lucky and can hold on to some of the better pieces of you humanity you come out the other side with the ability to be happy.

Thank you Netflix for adapting this novel by Uzodinma Iweala. Even though the country and conflict are fictional the turmoil and circumstances are very real in some parts of Africa. I hope the film makes more people have compassion, awareness and to desire an understanding of situations in other countries that we like to pretend aren’t our problem or don’t affect us. And bravo to Netflix, not only for tackling a subject that is not pretty but is also not about white people. How marvelous to see a film, and an important one at that, about people of color where white people haven’t been injected into it! Huzzah!

Here is the trailer for Beasts of No Nation

Really, go see this film or watch it at home! That is all!

Songs of The Stomach Bard: Nostalgic Regrets

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MaggiesBefore I moved to my current city I had a house-sitting gig here for a couple of months. Every time I would be coming back to the place I would pass this cute little building on a corner that looked like it should be a firehouse or even a small filling station but it said, Maggie’s over the front door so it had to be a cafe.

After I moved I forgot about it. Then I drove past it a week ago and had an, “Oh yeah, that place!” moment and decided to look it up. Turns out it’s been around for years and is a breakfast and burger spot so I decided I would get there early enough one day to check it out.

The parking lot was fairly desolate when I went in, I parked next to an old sedan that I’m betting belonged to an employee. As I got out an old truck pulled up and the owner whom I could tell from a distance had few teeth left rolled the window down for his dog and gave me a long stare. For a moment I thought, maybe this is close enough, but then I shrugged that off and entered.

maggies jukeboxThe place was seriously retro-divey! Old school vending machines, a jukebox and a red and possibly once white, checkered floor. The walls were covered with old movie memorabilia. Two booths sat empty under one window and there were a few tables littered about.

maggies codgersMost of the seating was on stools that were slightly too low following a long L shaped counter. Seated to my left with their backs to me, a gaggle of old fogies.

I took a seat at the other end of the L.

It was obvious this place was going to put the grease in greasy spoon! A smiling sunny waitress named Arlene obliged me with a cup of coffee that looked dubiously old but tasted fresh. The owner, Ed was at the grill filling the place with the smell of sizzling murdered cow. I shouldn’t have, but I had to order a cheeseburger. Maybe it was the pressure of the clutter surrounding me, maybe it was the feeling of nostalgia. Maybe it was the caffeine kicking in. Maybe the bus boy mopping the floor while I scanned the menu just made me nervous. “Order the burger” demanded the voice in my head. So I did.

maggies grill

The fries were really good, sliced with the skins on them. I asked Arlene if she had any dressing I could dip them into and she beamed, “We have ranch dressing! Home made!” “Perfect! I’ll try it!” I’m partial to dipping french fries in blue cheese dressing rather than ketchup. It’s something my brother got me hooked on when we were kids! The ranch worked fine. And when I told her how good it was it seemed to make her day! “Thank you! I make it myself from scratch!”

Maggies burgerThe burger by the standards of burgers you get at restaurants these days was not great but it was strangely satisfying. I had ordered it medium well and the cook had actually managed that state. It was greasy yet slightly dry and had some tough spots. All the toppings were just kind of perfect. It was a burger of small town childhood memory, a time machine. But sometimes you can’t go back, or at the very least you shouldn’t and my stomach was going to be the first to remind me of that.

maggies memorobeliaAs I sat in the car feeling my first twinges, Arlene came running out the door with my sweater. It had been warm that day but I had taken it in just in case the place had air conditioning. (It didn’t.) Please angry stomach. Let me make it home before you make me pay, I pleaded!

My stomach said, ok, just this once but first I’m gong to sing to you and you have to write this down word for word! Deal?

I whimpered and complied. Thus The Stomach Bard was born!

“You may think you had a nostalgic lunch
And that greasy meat was fun to munch
But you are so very wrong
And so I wrote you this song…..

You are going to live to regret this
You are going to be sorry you et it
When you spend an unwanted hour in the looooooo
While I rain intestinal distress down upon you

Boop boopie do

Boy oh boy I hope it was worth it
Remember that when you drop that nuclear sh**
Will you never learn
As the stomach turns

You are going to live to regret this
You are going to be sorry you et it
This is why the vegetarian lifestyle was so much better for you
Maybe next time you’ll choose “garden” instead of “moo”

Boop boopie doobie gurgle doo wah wah”

-LM’s tum tum 2015

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On Game of Thrones Always Erring on the Side of To Be Rapey, rather than not.

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Here’s what it boils down to.

I’m pretty sure Sansa didn’t want that cup of tea.

There’s been a lot of unwanted tea poured on that show and it might have been a bit much to push one more cup.

I think a lot of viewers, mostly female, have been saying for a long time that they don’t want this particular cup of tea and they feel like they’ve been forced to drink it anyway. They said, no thank you but they got a big cup of tea shoved in their face anyway; over and over and over.

So now they are saying, NO real loud.

And now some fans, mostly men, are saying. What’s the big deal? It’s just a cup of tea? The tea was in the books. There was a lot of other tea on the show and you kept watching. It could have been worse. It could have been scalding hot tea.

And the women are saying. We are totally off tea now. You’ve ruined it for us. Bye bye.

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The Murkiness of Mother’s Day

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roseThree Little Words:

“Happy Mother’s Day.”

What comes to mind when they fill up the airwaves, the social media feed, every brick and mortar store, restaurant and retail web site.

To be sure, Mother’s Day is a loaded topic and a marketing paradise!

There is so much myth and propaganda about Motherhood in general. Mothers are raised on a pedestal and then disrespected because they don’t have a “real job.” Motherhood is supposed to be compensation enough.

There are those who bicker about what makes a mother. Does she have to carry and birth a child? Does a mother have to be a cis gendered female? There are those who seem to think that having given birth to a child makes them somehow superior to those who have not. Mothers are both revered and dismissed, sometimes in the same breath, sometimes in a schism between word and action. Motherhood is supposed to complete a woman. Motherhood is for women who have no ambition. There is both contempt and admiration for the working mother.

Really, it’s quite bizarre!

Mother’s Day makes some feel warm and fuzzy others bereft with longing and loss.

It can be a guilt bomb, a trigger that floods the brain with paralyzing memories of trauma!

For those who have happy memories and good relationships with their mothers it can be very hard to understand why someone else might feel differently. For mother’s basking in the glow of appreciation it might be difficult to understand why some might dread the day.

Personally, I take Mother’s Day for mostly the hallmark contrived consumer manipulating holiday that it is. I have my own personal, quite painful issues with Mothers Day, but that aside, this day brings up feelings and ruminations about motherhood in general and its connotations. Sincerely, to all the compassionate, loving, yet tough as nails mothers of all genders and types out there, you are a blessing! And for those who were blessed to have one or more wonderful, supportive, nurturing people in your lives I am glad for that! And to the many amazing people who survived their mothers and make the world a better place despite them, perhaps by finding something inside themselves or by the intervention of non traditional mother figures, I say HUZZAH!

But the holiday, in my opinion can truly go stuff itself. Ironically, “The American incarnation of Mother’s Day was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908 and became an official U.S. holiday in 1914. Jarvis would later denounce the holiday’s commercialization and spent the latter part of her life trying to remove it from the calendar.” (from History.com) I have linked the page at the end of this post if you would like to learn more about the history of Mother’s Day and celebrations of mothers in many cultures.

I think mothers, not those that live up to the ideal, but real flesh and blood complicated people who do the things that make little humans grow up to be good people and continue to help adults “adult with value” are amazing! I dislike the American Mother’s Day tradition and I am frequently vexed by those who feel one must forgive, love and respect one’s mother no matter what crimes she may have committed under the facade of motherhood!  In my opinion those who say things like, “But she’s your mother,” “You have to forgive your mother, you won’t be ok until you do,” “You only have one mother,” or “I’m sure she did the best she could,” are either just so uncomfortable that they want to gloss over a painful topic or somehow they feel a friend’s healthy (yes I said healthy) vitriol toward an abusive parent threatens their feelings about the relationship with their own parent. It’s similar to the friend who somehow thinks that it’s a comment on their relationship if someone close to them breaks off a relationship no matter how valid the reason.

On this day I’d like to challenge you to take pause and reflect. Anyone with a womb can give birth to a child. Anyone can want a child. Anyone can raise a child. But not everyone can be a mother. Those people who do it well are the real rock stars. They are absolute Super Heroes! They can be birth mothers, adoptive or step mothers, friends, relatives, strangers. They can be transwomen. They do not have to be “women” at all. These “mothers” make a difference in lives.Sometimes they save them.

Here are some of the people I think about and send my love to every day, but especially on this day:

  • Those mothers and to those who have filled in as mother figures who have truly exemplified the best of motherhood, who have been supportive and nurturing and in doing so made this world a better place.
  • Those fathers who found they needed to be both mother and father to their children and busted their ass to make their children feel loved and safe!
  • Those children who needed the love and support of their parents but found themselves instead in abusive homes or had Mothers who lacked compassion when they needed it most, because they were L.G.B.T., had a disability, or were in any way different from the ideal “norm” their mother had envisioned. Those whose mothers chose politics, belief, religion or other people’s opinions over the love and acceptance of their child.
  • Those who longed to be mothers, who lost babies, who outlived their children, lost contact with children through a breakup or divorce, had to give them up or who made difficult choices because of circumstance.
  • Those who decided not to have kids and in doing so lived their dreams, inspired and loved kids that were not their own or simply lived their own happy, child free lives despite the criticism of others.
  • For those “aunties” and “uncles” who fulfilled nurture when it was otherwise absent or provided extra love and encouragement!
  • Those mothers who have done everything they can, spilling out their hearts, using all their inner and outer resources, asked for help yet still struggle with children with health, behavioral or substance abuse problems or have lost their relationship with or physical custody of their children despite being good mothers. It doesn’t always work. It just doesn’t.
  • Those who have lost or are losing mothers and mourn their deaths.
  • Those who have unwanted distances, physical and otherwise in their mother/child relationships.
  • Those who never knew their mothers, who never really had mothers, who were abused by their mothers, who have difficult relationships with their mothers for a variety of reasons.
  • Those who look in the mirror and see their mother, see themselves making gestures their mother did or acting like their mother; perhaps taking comfort in these inherited mannerisms, perhaps loathing them.

So, while you are taking part in the commercialized celebration of motherhood; if you had a happy childhood, if you love, respect and have a good relationship with your mother, know that not everyone is so lucky. Instead of criticizing people who don’t share your good associations or dumping guilt on them, be compassionate. Try to remember that this day is a painful reminder to many for a variety of reasons. Not just those who have had abusive mothers but for those who are far away from their mothers, whose mothers may have dementia, whose mothers may be dying or deceased, who may have never known their mothers or may long to be mothers and have a great deal if pain around the subject. To all those I have listed above and more, it can be very, very hard!

On a very personal level, I  could be entirely bitter and yes, all the Mother’s Day saccharine does sting. I was adopted which makes the childhood I had all the more  disheartening. I may never know my birth mother or family. I am currently estranged from my adoptive mother and I am aware that my silence on this day.probably hurts her. I have compassion for that, however I could logically say, it is a fair, “punishment.” It’s not meant as a punishment. It is self care on my part. Right now. I need distance.

Though she vehemently denies it, I believe my mother was a victim of abuse who continued the legacy instead of rising above it. She put her children in harms way instead of protecting them! No child should ever have to endure what I have in my childhood and adult life due to their parents and family, period.

I never had a real mother figure in my life though I certainly had people who made a positive difference. I never wanted a child, perhaps partly due to my traumatic childhood and I never felt my life would be lacking if I didn’t have one. I have loved many children. I helped raise two dear girls when I was young only to have them yanked out of my life by their unstable drug addicted mother. I was surprised by an accidental pregnancy a few years ago and lost that baby when I was quite far along. So yeah. All things “mother” are complicated for me.

So while parts of me are cynical, despise the commercialism, find the subject painful.and often cause for righteous anger when people who do not understand try to make me feel guilty I am also filled with respect and awe for the mothers and mother figures I see around me who often thanklessly improve the lives of not just their own children but many more. They are a blessing to the world and all too briefly!

So try to be sensitive while celebrating. And if you really love and respect your own mother or mother figures in your life, let them know it now. Let them know frequently! Don’t just wait for Mother’s Day, Christmas, holidays or birthdays! Don’t wait until they are gone to praise them. Don’t leave things unsaid.

For those people who have filled this place in your life consider making every day a Happy Mother’s Day.

Here are a few blogs and articles that I found touching or interesting this past week:

The History of Mother’s Day

Some wonderful comments from author (and mother) Anne Lamott about why she hates Mother’s Day

Is being a mother a real job?

Mother’s day, when you may not be perceived as a mother

Mother’s Day as a Feminist tradition!

Letting go of toxic Mom’s and finding healthy replacements

Thoughts On: Effective Protests VS Throwing The Baby Out With The Bath Water

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I spent a couple hours of my Labor Day weekend doing something that would displease many of my friends. I (gasp) watched Ender’s Game.

There was a good amount of hot debate, even some foaming at the mouth, unfriending or threats thereof, on social media in the months leading up to the movie’s release, continuing when it came out in the theaters. The controversy had nothing to do with the book the movie was based on, the people who made the film or its subject matter. It had everything to do with the author, Orson Scott Card, who actually stood to make no money from the film’s box office revenue. He had been paid up front for the rights some years previously. The studio even distanced itself from Card, dropping him from any promotion of the film.

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I kept relatively quiet as I watched the frenzied arguments on my friends’ Facebook walls and other social and news media. Though I am not much of an activist, L.G.B.T. issues are important to me and I don’t keep silent when it comes to bigotry. I have long considered myself to be queer, bisexual and many of my friends hit some aspect of the queer spectrum. In somewhat a move of solidarity, I decided not to see the film in theaters. What I kept to myself was my opinion that the boycott of the film, not of Card, was frankly, stupid. I still think so. Stupid is a harsh term. Perhaps I should have used short-sighted, ineffective, misguided or misplaced.

Anyway, if you can get past the offense, here’s some of my reasoning behind this judgement and my thoughts about Card and the film:

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I didn’t see the boycott hurting Card one little bit. And, it didn’t. His book sales continue to climb.

While I think it was excellent to expose Card’s hate speech and misguided politics and educate the ignorant, boycotting the film achieved little of this. Boycotts may be effective against corporations who are worried about their reputations, and they may raise awareness of issues but they generally don’t seem have an impact on American consumers. When we want something bad enough, we buy it. The boycott, despite claims to the contrary, may not have affected the box office sales at all. We’ll never know unless we can poll every single person who chose not to see it, asking them why. However, I do think that a combination of the boycott, mixed reviews and disappointed consumers thinking they were going to get a major action film or something more like The Hunger Games thanks to misleading marketing, probably kept the film from being successful in America.

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So when is the artist inseparable from their art? It’s a dilemma if you have a conscience. When is boycotting the work of a human being we find offensive, appropriate and when is it simply throwing the baby out with the bathwater? In my opinion there’s a big difference between an artist like Card, who is a product of his generation and of his religion (The Mormon Church), someone who’s homophobic rants I find offensive, but not surprising and someone like Woody Allen, who I believe is a pedophile who will never be held accountable for the crimes he committed against Dylan Farrow, an incest survivor whose account I find highly credible.  People find all kinds of reasons to justify padding the bank account of this abusive predator (who also appears to be racist by the way), yet essentially they want to punish Card for expressing his, albeit offensive, first amendment right in an arena that has nothing to do with the book he wrote about 20 years ago. So how do you pick and choose? What limits do you set? I choose to not see Allen’s films anymore because I can’t separate my distaste for the artist from the art, but if I did, I would not pay to see a first run film or anything he might profit from and I think that’s a good rule of thumb when it comes to Card as well.

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Not only did this boycott not hurt Card or change his homophobic rhetoric, though he did insincerely squirm around and try to soften things a bit, it probably launched book sales by curious readers. And this is where a bigger impact could have been made, by not feeding Card directly through new purchases of his material! Ender’s Game doesn’t promote any homophobic attitudes. Ironically, it’s largely about tolerance and understanding. In the past, Card has gone to great lengths to keep his politics out of his work, not that that negates the real pain and conflict experienced by readers who have since discovered who Card really is at heart. Card has more recently written some clumsy and inflammatory work, such as 2008’s, Hamlet’s Father. It wouldn’t surprise me if this writing was spurred on by criticism. Often the work artists are most emotional about is their worst.

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The failure of Ender’s Game at the box office could have hurt the careers of really interesting talent, Asa Butterfield, for example. I hope not. It also makes it less likely that more interesting, original or thoughtful science fiction will be produced in the future. I am a firm believer in, let’s not just bitch about how Hollywood won’t step outside of the formula or gives too many strong or leading roles to white men that could go to women and people of color or how Hollywood perpetuates stereotypes, bigotry and rape culture. let’s vote with our wallets! That’s why I spent money on Lucy, and I’m glad I did, despite some of the whiny criticisms. In fact I find it interesting that critics panned Lucy and Maleficent, actually two really good films with strong, independent, well developed female characters. If we don’t continue to pay to see movies like that, more and better ones will never be made.

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Same goes for Ender’s Game. Not going didn’t prevent a “homophobic film”, which it wasn’t, from succeeding. It was ultimately a vote against sci-fi stories that were out of the Hollywood norm being told! In fact, you may have read the poorly written or B.D.S.M. inaccurate book or be pining to see the upcoming film of Fifty Shades of Grey (or the soapy & sappy Twilight series it spawned from) thus supporting with your wallet a story that normalizes abuse behavior and the throwback mentality of a woman’s worth stemming completely from her man.  And I bet you’ll make all kinds of excuses to justify spending your money on that twaddle and skip movies that might be a step in the right direction. For a much better, actually brilliant film about S&M, I refer you to Secretary, the 2002 picture with James Spader (his character is, curiously, Mr Grey) and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

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While Ender’s Game doesn’t have a female character or non-white character as a centerpiece, many of the supporting characters are not white males. In fact, specifically, some of the less likable characters were white males. There were not only some interesting female characters, but the three that were highlighted were crucial to Ender’s success in the film; Viola Davis as Major Anderson, a male character in the book, recast as a woman of color (whoot), Abigail Breslin as Valentine, Ender’s sister, who helps bring out his empathy and conscience, and Hailee Steinfield, Petra, his fellow cadet is clearly an equal and in some cases a more important part of the team (she is the best sharpshooter). There are no signs that she is dismissed or picked on because of her gender by other cadets and she isn’t reduced to a romantic interest.

"There’s good news for those of us without talent in the world. Michael Bay is our Hero, our Saviour, our Douche-in-Charge. Not only has he shit out three painful, vapid, racist, sexist, snorecore shit fest Transformer movies, but the Bovine of the World have spent enough money to land him in the chair for a fourth installment." -Caffeine Powered

“There’s good news for those of us without talent in the world. Michael Bay is our Hero, our Saviour, our Douche-in-Charge. Not only has he shit out three painful, vapid, racist, sexist, snorecore shit fest Transformer movies, but the Bovine of the World have spent enough money to land him in the chair for a fourth installment.” -Caffeine Powered

So, what’s the takeaway for Hollywood here? Let’s just make another Transformers film, shall we? It doesn’t have to be good storytelling to guarantee success. We don’t have to be socially responsible. We can even do a little padding of rape culture in the process. People will just gloss it over because, yaay Transformers.

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Ender’s Game failed at the American box office. Even if ultimately it makes a buttload of money in overseas markets and in DVD/Blue Ray sales, we will likely not see a sequel. An example, despite doing poorly here, The Golden Compass was very successful world wide however, we will probably not see the rest of the trilogy ironically because of the Catholic Church’s campaign against the film. The Ender series which, I think would have been interesting if produced is probably toast.

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Orson Scott Card seems to be one of those intractable bigots who can’t move past their tiny and archaic world view, usually a world view that makes people like them the most important. Certainly, he is a fine  candidate for a blast from the point-of-view gun! To find compassion for Card, I try to picture him as that difficult relative clinging to ignorance, maybe even a parent or grandparent, raised in a more conservative, closed minded time, whose religious or political views differ vastly from our own. We’d find him embarrassing at social events, do our best not to engage in fruitless arguments and try to be tolerant.  All the while we’d be kind of horrified at the things that come out of his mouth (crazy old coot) and he’d probably feel the same about our wacky (flaming liberal) ideas. Screaming at him will do little to change his opinion. In fact it will act like cement. Slowly easing him into experiences that might make him rethink things may help. Definitely, firmly telling him you disagree and why is important. But fanning the flames never put out a fire.

mule soldiers

Sometimes no matter what you do or say people won’t change. They’ll just dig in their heels. Luckily, most of us are not likely to have to put up with Mr Card at our table come the holidays. However, we can send him the message by refuting his comments publicly, in blogs, letting friends know, letting people who want to hire him know why they shouldn’t, and of course, by refusing to do things that directly line his pockets like buying new copies of his books or taking his writing workshops!

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I have some friends who have some attributes that annoy me, turn ons that leave me cold or have some views that completely clash with my personal beliefs. Here are a few things that butt up against my nerves:

house apologize to the tree

I am friends with these people because I see other things of value in them that outweigh the things that annoy or offend.Sometimes I need to point out that the words they think are innocuous are harmful. I do my best to gently explain my point of view and to understand theirs.  Often we just have to agree to disagree. I recognize that they are good people and their views are the sum of indoctrination, age, religion and experience. Often, the emotional argument really boils down to either, “I don’t understand” or “I’m really uncomfortable with this, therefore I don’t want you to do it.” It mostly boils down to, “It’s all about ME.”

Unlike an acquaintance of mine who once horrified me by insisting that, there’s “no valid reason” for someone to have surgery to change their gender. If they feel like a woman, “why can’t they just wear a dress?” Card’s rhetoric is potentially more dangerous because he has an audience. He gives interviews, talks, he publishes essays. On one hand, much of that audience already agrees with him, however, the times they are a changin’ and more and more people are likely to call him on his foolishness.

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It may seem that I am making excuses for Card or even defending him. Oh, no I am not! Still, I refuse to believe, with a few obvious exceptions, that some people are disposable and irredeemable. I find Card’s beliefs and statements about homosexuality and same sex marriage repulsive and ignorant. In contrast I find his opinions about cutting back the use of fossil fuels quite sensible. I’ve learned when I take context into consideration my thoughts are less clouded by anger and I can think more constructively. When I read his rants about same sex marriage I also consider at his demographic: He grew up during the 40’s and 50’s  in mostly white affluent communities, lives in the heavily Christian south and is a devout Mormon. Given this, I think his mind set is pretty typical. Clearly, this doesn’t make his ideas any less odious, it just helps in understanding where they came from.

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I give the greatest amount of weight to his programming, yes I said programming, by the Mormon Church. A great many Mormons, and also members of any cults or religions that suppress free or critical thought, are mouthpieces for their church propaganda. The Mormon Church is one of the biggest proponents against same-sex marriage, period. Why should we expect Card to be different? Now, what’s the best way to change his mind? Certainly not a boycott that won’t hurt his wallet. In contrast, Paula Deen got called out for her racist language and her real profits were targeted. She may not have learned to not be racist. She’s probably still in the feeling sorry for herself stage, but ultimately, a real message was sent.

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I do find it interesting that for the most part, Card’s writing does not reflect his ugly politico-religious sentiments. He does have religious overtones in places. Much of this was dampened in the film. I’ll admit, this observation is not based on personal experience, but on  things I have read about his writing and comments by friends who have read his books.

Ironically, it appears I really haven’t read any of Orson Scott Card’s material. As someone who has read books from most established writers in the science fiction genre, this seems crazy, but I double checked his bibliography and  my experience with Card is only  in the short story category. Ender’s Game is on almost every “must read, most important, ground breaking” science fiction list. The Ender series has always been on my, “someday I’ll read this,” list but I have so many things on that list I will never get to all of them. Maybe I will never read it.

The film:

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On one of my more ancient blog incarnations, my chinchillas, Gazpacho & Pele, were my movie reviewers by proxy. They reminded me of the Muppet critics, Statler and Waldorf, as they would sit up on the perch together and make critical sounds at the telly. They would rate things in raisins if they liked them and chinchilla poops if they disliked a film. They would have given Ender’s Game 6 ½ Raisins,  maybe 7 as a nod that it was interesting and at the very least it worth gnawing on.

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It’s said to be a fairly faithful adaptation of the novel. It has a wonderful cast: Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Viola Davis, Ben Kingsley, Abigail Breslin, and the incredibly cool Nonso Anozie! The recent Dracula series (cancelled after one season, grumble, grumble.) could be enjoyed merely for Anozie’s wonderful take on Renfield! Recently, another movie, which also had an epic cast as well as a writer/director who has been consistently brilliant, Noah, wasted a couple of hours of my time; the exception being the few scenes with Sir Anthony Hopkins as Methuselah. I did not find Ender’s Game a waste of my time. On the contrary, I won’t be surprised if I decide to watch it more than once. Overall, I really liked the film, but I see why it might not have been that exciting to some audiences and what its failures are. None of them have anything to do with Card’s “politics.”

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I think Ender’s Game was a film for adults in which the cast is mostly kids. This is not how it was marketed. I doubt it played well to tween audiences and it seems obvious that’s what the target was. Clearly Lions Gate was hoping for another Harry Potter or Hunger Games Franchise. It didn’t have a sense of humor. There wasn’t enough BIG action. Romantic tension was only hinted at. It’s certainly not a sweeping adventure or action blockbuster. None of these things are flaws in my book but it is unusual for these attributes to translate to big box office. In Ender’s Game, most of the action is of the computer game variety. Even the training games in the film aren’t terribly violent. It’s all strategy. I thought that was refreshing. But I am not the audience the motion picture industry aims for, young males between the ages of 12-25.

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Gavin Hood lives up to his track record of being an earnest writer and director, if not the most consistent or the one who always makes the most interesting or edgy choices. There were a few scenes, one of my pet peeves, that were unnecessarily too ‘splainy. I also think it rushed over some of the military training stuff in a hurry to cut running time and get to the big climax. They really went through all of Ender’s promotions too quickly and if it wasn’t for Asa Butterfield’s excellent acting I don’t think the processes and changes in the character would have come across as successfully as they did. The big climax wasn’t what one expects of a film like this either. The very end was rather abruptly and neatly wrapped.

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One review I read of the film said something along the lines of Ender’s Game being successful when you left the theater and falling apart on the ride home. I can see that criticism, but I think Ender’s Game holds up better than that. There is a lot of post film thinking for me, about how it could have been better (and I must say, I would have thoroughly enjoyed it if they had taken a shot at Card by sneaking in an openly gay character and not having it matter or a shot of Colonol Graff’s desk with  picture of his husband sitting on it, chuckle.) however, I also found my thoughts successfully provoked about war in general, use of children in in battle (topical), combat becoming more like a video game while less and less up close and personal, cultural preservation and obliteration, and also about strategy and empathy, even bullying. I found the character of Ender Wiggin fascinating and overall it made me kind of hopeful there would be more of his story.

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In part, thanks to the boycott people, I’ll probably have to read the books for that.

Oops!

*I promise however, that if I do read anything by Orson Scott Card, I will either buy it at a used bookstore or at a yard sale or I will get it free from a friend or a book swap. He won’t get a dime from me.

*Here is a general timeline and summery of the unfolding of the Orson Scott Card controversy from book publication to film release.