Another Mothers Day Blog

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20170329_173218I 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.
 
Stand in Mom’s who were that positive support or maternal figure in the lives of many kids (and adults) who were missing what they needed; to you I give enormous respect. YOU are the lifesavers! Jennifer and Jolene‘s mama, JoAnn was this to me. I could not have survived my childhood without her. She fed me, let me tag along on family adventures, she tolerated my weirdness, she let me spend hours and hours away from home. I’m quite sure we drove her crazy sometimes. I practically lived at the Norton house for much of my childhood and it was a sanctuary. As an adult, I’ve been lucky enough to have several friends who also rocked the mom vibe with me because they just ooze compassion and maternal instinct. Cheryl, Jean, Linda and Libby come to mind. *blows big kisses* If you have had a good mother and also, stand in mamas in your life, you are doubly blessed!
 
To the almost parents, I know how difficult this day can be, whether you have gone on to have kids or not. I was an almost parent and oddly, this year, I’m going through a numbness, instead of that twinge of grief. Maybe it’s because I’ve had a little time but maybe it’s because it would have been nearly impossible to raise a kid in my current situation. Losing a child you are pregnant with or one you wanted to adopt are very complicated situations to process. So is losing a child for any reason at any age. There’s no right way or wrong way to do it.
 
To those who desperately want to be parents but haven’t been able to do it for whatever reason, I wish you comfort. I also wish that those of you who are so set on popping a kid out of your own womb with your own genetic material would stop spending so much money and shedding so many tears and just adopt. But if you won’t, I pray that you are really good parents when you finally get your wish.
 
And most of all, I wish that Mothers would not be treasured just because they are Mothers, but that they would all earn these accolades. I don’t want you to be perfect. I want you to live up to what a mother should be as best you can; a person who loves, nurtures, supports, protects and guides their child. A good mother, in my opinion, does not have children and make their existence all about her or try to force them into her idea of the kids she wanted. She realizes that sometimes you can do all those things and still feel like you failed.She realizes that you don’t always get what you expect, you work with what you have and love them anyway. And sometimes that love means letting go in many different ways. 
 
Motherhood is complicated. Our feelings about it are complicated. You can’t serve it breakfast in bed, slap a card on it, give it flowers and platitudes and think you’ve done it justice. It’s also not sacred. Many people are victims of Motherhood, whether it’s the child whose mother had unrealistic expectations, or had a mother who struggled with mental illness, addiction, poverty or simply as dealt more than she could handle or the child whose mother was a monster.
So, lavish the praise on your mother if she’s earned it, but don’t heap guilt on those who had a different experience. And please be gentle with those who are having trouble with this day, whatever their reason.
 
I am so very happy for the friends out there who have benefited from the love of a mother who made them feel supported and cherished! I am so grateful for all those mother figures in my life and to look around and see mothers who are doing right by their kids right now. I stand in awe of all the friends I see being amazing parents every day despite their challenges. I have many of them, which means, many kids who are growing up with a better outlook than I had. I hope all of you enjoy this special day. Even more so, I hope all of you feel appreciated and loved all year round. It’s the days that don’t have a spotlight on them that mean the most.
 
Oh hey, I wrote a blog after all. Oops.

 

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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

maggies superman

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.

no tea

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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baby bathwater

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:

Ender

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.

woody allen mugshot

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.

dont-feed-the-bigots

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.

enders game petra 2enders viola

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.

golden compass catholic

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.

embarrassing relative

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.

bigotry

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.

classic sci fi novels read

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.

On Privileged Shoppers… 12/2013

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I lived close to “Whole paycheck Foods” when it first went into the old cable car depot by Lake Merritt. I used to enjoy dipping in for fresh veggies or a splurge on wine or cheese but now I hate hate, hate going in there.

This WF in particular reeks of stereotypical privilege; white folks! In a sea of white folks moving so slow one could hardly call it, moving, the kind mindless dawdling & aisle clogging that makes me yearn for a purse sized cattle prod, I saw only 2 families of color shopping there! The pasty privileged stroll leisurely around the store; moms in yoga pants with designer bags and; toddlers in tow wearing cute little outfits that cost more than 10 of mine. Men wearing driving mocs and dawdling on their cell phones in front of the yogurt. Folks who can throw their money at wasteful packaging filled with the overpriced convenience of pre washed pre cut veggies. $6 for a small container of chopped asparagus!

I guess I didn’t look white and privileged enough today because I was totally ignored by an employee right next to me even when I asked for help. I climbed up on the lower shelf of the cold case right in front of him to reach the kombucha my friend wanted. He looked annoyed but didn’t try to stop me. The young blonde cashier was far from friendly. She was chomping at the bit to end her shift. When she saw my SNAP card she got downright surly.

I left feeling nothing like a valued customer. And I left with my Snap account drained plus more cash out of pocket because I needed a handful of items and this would save me a special trip to another store.

My wallet has been wham bammed without a thank ypu maam! $36 for the 2 fancy kombuchas my friend wanted, a mineral water, a ginger drink for myself (my 2 beverages were inexpensive), 2 leeks, a bundle of asparagus, a package of mushrooms and a bag of frozen peas.

I feel the need to take a long shower and scrub!

My other weird “crustomer” experience today also had to do with that whole homogeneous thing that creeps me out on top of another experience where someone took my money & treated me with disdain

As someone who would likely be described as, unique and values that in others, it gives me the heebies when I go into places like WF and see the same kind of pasty people wearing the same kind of clothes and using the same credit cards everywhere I turn!

It’s one of the things that bugs me about most hipsters. They embrace their faddish behavior with an air of superiority while they appropriate things that people used to do to mark themselves as different, as rebels, like getting tattoos & collecting vinyl records.

One of my favorite little chill cafes when I lived by the lake was a place called Rooz. The people working there were cool. Food and coffee excellent. The place had a quirky constantly changing style. The owner, Steve, a fellow Rush fan, is awesome sauce and so I could count on the music played there to be unlike most places. I think that Rooz is still open but he had a Piedmont Ave Rooz and today I discovered it’s demise!

In its place, the ultimate hipster, trendy diet oriented coffee bar. Timeless, it’s called. Timeless is not timeless, it is totally the worst of today. Trendster paridise and not that great.

First, it’s only pastries, mostly gluten free vegan variety. No eggs, no more fabulous breakfast bagels! I got a delicious looking bear claw that was dry, flakey and crunchy.

The coffee, according to some Yelp reviews i scanned is supposed to be spectacular but the wet cappuccino was just ok. A wet cappucino should still be topped with foam. It’s the cap, after all! This was a latte. I’m sure if I had called this to his attention (I was a barista for sevetal yrars and am a self-confessed coffee snob) he would have explained to me how I was wrong in the same condescending tone as the one he used to tell me I had grabbed the wrong size lid for my “Cappulatte.”

Again catering to the vegan crowd, only soy and almond milk, both easy to burn and hard to foam are offered for drinks.

In the place three men and two woman were working. It was sterotypical hipster, almost a hoke! All they needed was some flannel to seal the deal or perhaps everyone in the place in uniform Ray Bans. The guys had thick beards and every employee was covered in tattoos. Full sleeves! From what I sae of the two closest pairs of arms there wasn’t anything amazing about the ink. All stuff I’ve seen a billion times before.

I love tattoos but am more impressed when they seem meaningful or have a nifty artistic expression. These just looked busy and boring. I swear it seemed like a dress code; facial hair, all knowing attitude, the ubiquitous music tee shirts, the cliche tattoos and the vibe of, “Can’t you tell I’m doing this because it’s ironic?” permeating everything.

So two irritating places I went into today that felt elitist. And it may seem funny but I actually feel really uncomfortable in a place where there are few or no people of color. And they just sucked for many reasons. I only went in because of something I was doing for & with someone else. I don’t plan to be back to either location.

By the way, I will say that Whole Foods in Berkeley is very, very different from what I described earlier today. The two stores are almost like two different planets! And I want to make a pointvof going by the Rooz on Park blvd over the holidays, to make sure it’s still there and maybe get one of those yummy gluten filled, butter smeared, egg and cheese topped bagels!
-LM

*I really need to make this funnier and put it on Yelp!