Gone Strolling

It was a lovely day, so I decided to walk around the neighborhood to get some exercise and let the beautiful weather work its magic on my curmudgeonly mood. It didn’t help the mood… after all these years, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is just who I am now, but it was still time well spent.

And yes. That is a cat in a stroller. Sitting on a cat blanket. Don’t judge me.

Actors Are People Too… No, Really

I find that the amount of irony in the world is ever growing. For instance, I once knew this lady who claimed to be an animal rights activist. Closer to one of the extremist types at that. Wouldn’t you know it, turned out she also had quite the addiction to alligators. Not the animal per se, but more or less their skin. Purses, handbags, belts, and even shoes. She had quite the collection. I’m talking at least 30 plus items. All authentic alligator skins. Imported from all over. Mind you, she didn’t sport the gator leather often, it was more or less for her private collection. I didn’t really know her well, maybe met her once or twice – she was the friend of a mutual friend and you know how that goes. Anyway, at some point in time, and admittedly I don’t recall when, she was called out on her hypocritical lifestyle.  Her response was simple. Alligators aren’t animals, they are reptiles. I kid you not. Yeah, I know. But the whole point of this little backstory was to paint a little picture of the irony I’m talking about. Which brings me right into the meat of this article. Classic Hollywood and the Illustrious Oscars.

As you know, I find many things funny. To add to that humor bank, I think it’s funny that people who love movies hate the Oscars. In fact, it might surprise you to know that many people who love movies also hate the actors that play in them. If you ask these folks why, they say that they prefer “their” actors to remain nothing more than performing monkeys instead of smashing through the 4th wall, so to speak, and appearing as real, functioning members of society. Oh, not in so many words, but that’s the gist.

Maybe there is some truth to the phrase, “Never meet your heroes.” But it leads me to wonder if sometimes celebrities say, “Never meet your biggest fans.”

With that said, I typically do not watch the Oscars myself, but not because I get my feelings hurt over some famous person with an opinion, it’s just that my attention span won’t let me. I know a few guys who love sports, but a lot of them say they can’t sit through a whole baseball game or whatever game because, like me, they have the attention span of a gnat. However, they still enjoy watching the highlights after, and in fact, enjoy it even more than watching a game… all of the good stuff in short bursts.  That’s me with the Oscars. I like to see the winners and losers, the antics that took place, who wore what, who showed up with who, you know, the highlights if you will.

There are oftentimes when I think the voters got it wrong (much like the 2016 election).  For instance, the fact that Taika Waititi received zilch for his amazing and unprecedented Valkyrie scene in Thor: Ragnarök – the process for which he CREATED because it had never been done before – was unforgivable. The fact that very few people of color ever win is atrocious. I mean, in general, the Oscars are obviously a massive ego stroke to the Hollywood crowd and nothing more, but what else is new.

Lately, actors have been using this platform as a way to advocate for social change and to give voice to specific causes. I say, good for them. I wish they’d use more of their money to promote change, but hey, at least they’re speaking out.

Some of the people in my classic Hollywood film group are very different than me. They don’t say “good for them.” They prefer Trump to someone normal, they prefer John Wayne (whom they all agree is a known racist, but hey, it was just the times in which he lived!) to Jimmy Stewart who never said a bad word about anyone and who, unlike John Wayne, willingly served our country (in case you were unaware, Wayne kept getting deferments to keep him in Hollywood).

As for an actor saying anything other than, thank you for this shiny award, oh boy… you’d think the world was coming to an end. These movie lovers claim that “real” actors, the ones with talent, that is, existed only in the classic Hollywood days, and these stars would never stoop so low as to voice an opinion about anything. Anything, I tell you!

Back in the day, actors were on contracts. The studios controlled their lives, down to who they married or dated so as to “keep face” or hide one’s true self.  It’s not surprising that most actors opted not to rock the boat. Still, you had Brando, who refused to go to the Oscars in 1973 to protest how Native Americans were being treated. The Native American woman he sent in his stead was booed. But when this is discussed in my classic Hollywood group, they rave about Brando’s choice… because Brando is Brando and they obsess over him cause, you know, he’s Brando.

Newman didn’t attend … well, just because. But hey, he’s Newman. No-one hates Newman.

After six acting nominations and two honorary Oscars, Newman finally got a win for “The Color of Money” in 1987. But he wasn’t there to accept it, telling the Associated Press, “It’s like chasing a beautiful woman for 80 years. Finally, she relents, and you say, ‘I’m terribly sorry. I’m tired.’”

And yes, these are more recent events, relatively speaking, but as I said, back in the day, actors were kept on a pretty tight leash. The movies were great, yeah, but the way the actors themselves were treated, meh.

Nowadays, actors have a voice, just like everyone else in the world. And they’re using that voice more readily than they have in the past. I applaud most of them when they use their platform of celebrity to give voice to a better a world.

You can read more here, if you’re so inclined.

The thing is, most of the actors using the podium are voicing opinions that enrage the conservative right, because these ideas are, well, good for the world at large and not just a select few. The people getting offended by the awards ceremony – and celebrity causes in general, believe that actors should just keep their trap shut and act, because they’re nothing more than entertainment fodder for the audience and have no real presence in the world.

The days of actors being on a leash are gone. This speaks to the good and the bad. Because the same social changes that allow actors to use the Oscar stage to speak out against human rights abuses and animal cruelty also allow James Woods to air conspiracy theories and vile tirades against women on Twitter. Of course, in the classic Hollywood film group I mentioned, the latter is applauded, and the former is reviled.

Finding Your Voice in the Silence

As you know, I normally don’t post anything political here. My blog brings happiness… at least I hope it does, lighthearted fun, and the occasional rant.  But watching the news the past few days has been heartbreaking, and I felt the need to say something. Let me back up for a minute though, as that first sentence is not quite right… I’m still not going to post anything political, because the anguish of unjust killings and the heartbreak of deep-seated racial injustice is a human rights issue, not a political one. I will not presume to speak on behalf of the black community, but I just wish to express my solidarity, for whatever that’s worth. Enough is enough. Hell, enough was more than enough 50 years ago, 100 years ago, 200 years ago. We need to do better. We must do better. There are more eloquent writers than me tackling the issues of oppression and the marginalization of our fellow humans and sharing their words with the world right now – we need to listen. We need to change. We need to fight for change. When our fellow humans are hurting – and dying – from offenses against human rights, it falls on all of us to fight for change. When we see injustices so great that our silence implies support, we need to speak out. Find your voice and use it.

Spoiler Alert

When is a movie old enough that you can discuss it in-depth without it being considered “spoilers?” 5 years, 10 years, 75 years?

I belong to a classic Hollywood movie group and someone was discussing the film The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. It’s 75 years old.  A person commented that both leads die in the end and several – not one or two, but several – people got all upset and were chastising the person for spoiling the movie.  No spoilers!  But good grief, it’s a 75-year-old film!  What about Romeo and Juliet?  People know how that one turned out. Is it a spoiler to discuss it?

A friend of mine had a fight with her boyfriend because she “ruined” Titanic. Yeah, the one with Leonardo DiCaprio… by simply saying, “it’s sad when the ship sinks in the end.” Apparently, he didn’t know the ship sank at the end. And didn’t take the news well, either. In my opinion, for movies based on history, or true stories, can you really spoil them? I hate to tell you, but Bonnie and Clyde die at the end. That airplane filled with Uruguay’s Rugby team crashes in the Andes mountains, and they start eating each other to survive. I’m sorry, did I ruin the movie? Well, it was all over the news for weeks in 1993. Not to mention, it’s a piece of history.

Let’s say it wasn’t a movie of any historical significance, then how long do you wait? Whether we like it or not, I think for newer blockbuster movies, you have about a month after the movie premieres before it will be all over social media. And that goes for t.v. shows as well. For example, the AMC’s the Walking Dead. Fantastic show from what I hear. But if you happen to miss an episode, don’t even think about logging onto Facebook or Instagram the next morning. Hell, don’t even check the news. Some of the deaths of some of the major characters were listed right on the front of Yahoo News with clickbait titles like, “Walking Dead kills off another original cast member.” I’ve never watched the show but can tell you some major plot points just because it’s impossible to avoid. Game of Thrones was another one that was spoiler heavy, and yet another show I know a lot about simply from seeing unsolicited posts online.

But yeah, back on the topic of having a short window before movie spoilers run rampant. Are you into Marvel movies? Star Wars?  Hell, people were yelling out spoilers while in line to watch some of the latest movies. That’s going a bit far, if you ask me. What can I say? People are assholes. But if you still haven’t seen that popular Marvel movie that premiered a month or two ago, and you log onto social media, that’s sort of  asking for spoilers.

Personal conversations are different. People should keep endings and major plot twists to themselves when talking to someone who might not have seen a movie yet. Unless you’re the type of person who likes spoilers, I never spill the beans on newer movies because ruining someone else’s enjoyment is just a jerk thing to do. But there should be a time limit to these things. I mean, once you hit a certain age, if you haven’t seen at least a few of the classics, that’s on you, not me. Most of my banter is pulled from old movies and books and sometimes spoilers just slip out. I can’t help it if you don’t know the bad witch dies in The Wizard of Oz or that Clarence gets his wings.

And in the case of The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, the person who discussed it in a classic movie group should be forgiven for thinking that the group’s members would have seen – or at least heard of – this 75 year old flick.

 

 

Some Gave All

This year our Memorial Day celebrations are looking a little different here in the U.S. But then again, this “holiday” has never been about a weekend at the beach or sales at the mall… it’s not even about the fireworks and fanfare. Memorial Day is about giving thanks to our nation’s heroes as we honor those who have fallen in their service to our country. So I implore you to remember the dedicated men and women of our military who never made it home.  May their steadfast service to their country – and their fellow man – serve as inspiration to the rest of us.

“The way they all lived, in service to one another, should be our road map in the months ahead.” – Barack Obama (Memorial Day 2020)

“At its core, the nobility and the majesty of Memorial Day can be found in the story of ordinary Americans who become extraordinary for the most simple of reasons: They loved their country so deeply, so profoundly, that they were willing to give their lives to keep it safe and free.” – Barack Obama (Memorial Day 2010)

 

Long Story Short

I think we’ve all been in the position where there’s something incredibly simple that we’ve needed from someone, but we loathe asking for it. Oh, not because you fear the person will reject your request, quite the opposite in fact… they are often eager to help. You just dread the long and drawn out interaction that you know is going to go with that simple ask.

For instance, you need that recipe from a co-worker… you know, the one for that dish everyone was raving over at lunch last month. You jotted it down but misplaced the napkin you sketched it on. In all probability, you forgot you had made the note in the first place, duly wiped your mouth, and threw the napkin away. So what do you do? Call up your pal, except she’s one of those people who will literally talk your ear off. It doesn’t matter though; you promised some friends that you would make the best tapenade that they ever had and damn it, that’s what you’re going to do. So, you begrudgingly make the call, knowing you’ll be on the phone for hours for a piece of information that would take a normal person no more than a few minutes to repeat.  And… you were right. Because before you know it, you’ve learned that 3 generations of men in her family have done their time in the military, but not Henry, oh no, not good-for-nothing Henry, and little Janie is getting straight A’s in school (thanks to the tutor that her hairdresser recommended), her husband got a promotion, which was long overdue, because allegedly he could perform the job better than his boss could have, in his sleep mind you! And finally, little Billy is all grown up, and off to college, so after an hour and a half of story time, and 20 minutes of sobbing into the phone, I’m now equipped with the knowledge to prepare that banging tapenade from the pot-luck lunch we had a few weeks ago. Next time I need a recipe, I think I’ll just google it.

My mother has a neighbor that will talk about nothing for three hours. She’ll get off the phone with this woman and I’ll ask, how’s Marion, what did you talk about for five hours? And my mother has no idea. Of course, she wasn’t the one doing the talking, so there’s that. We’ve all known someone like Marion. For instance, I didn’t even know there was lecture-length material out there on the history of bowling balls, but growing up, my friend had an Uncle Randy, and he could talk to you about bowling for a full day and not repeat himself. True story.

Another pet peeve of mine is people that take the long way around to tell a simple story. And I mean, the scenic route. Especially if I’m in a hurry or already trying to do something. Or when the story starts out sounding like it’s kind of important.

“Hey, don’t freak out, but I was in a car accident.”

“What? Are you ok!? What happened?!”

“I’m fine. But get this… so I was at the grocery store, right? They had this crazy sale on Milkbones and I was like, wow, that’s a really good deal…”

“That’s great, but the accident? What happened!? Are you okay??”

“I was getting to that, but you didn’t let me finish. Geez! So anyway, I got the Milk-Bones and I remembered that you said you had that thing for work coming up…”

Yeah, you get the idea, 40 minutes later you find out that the guy who rear-ended her used to be her husband’s old co-worker who got drunk at a work party once and ate a box of Milk-Bones.

I’m telling you, even kids notice.

“Mom, do we have to go to Aunt Karen’s?  All she does is talk about her Pomeranians.”

“I know sweetie, but it’s her birthday. Just pretend you never heard any of it before.”

“How am I supposed to do that when I could write a book on Pomeranians just on what I remember from last week’s visit?”

Don’t get me wrong, I can gossip and shoot the bull with the best of them, and I’m sure I’ve talked someone’s ear off a time or two. Especially when I’m riled up about something. I’m sure we all have. It’s just that some people seem to have the uncanny ability to do it often and do it well. Too well if you ask me.

 

 

The Lesser of Two Evils

Pennywise’s lesser known cousin, Poundfoolish, never quite saw the same success as his movie star kin. Having fallen on hard times in recent years, he can be found roaming the aisles of the local grocery store, doing his utmost to intimidate the Karens and Beckys of the world,  which, as we all know, is virtually impossible.  To be fair, though, even the more popular, and arguably more frightening, Pennywise would find it a daunting task.

at least he’s social distancing

Stop, Hey, What’s That Sound

As many of you may remember, I live in a patio level condo. You might also remember, that the neighbors from hell recently moved in above me. It’s been one long noise-fest ever since. Is noise stress a thing? If not, it should be a thing. Because I’m here to tell you, constant noise can make you crazy. Oh sure, the argument could be made that I was crazy before they moved in, but still.  Noise stress is definitely a thing.

Fast forward to this weekend. I was napping today, as one is wont to do when one is tired with a migraine. Alas, I awoke from my nap… and not in a comforting way by the relaxing crash of ocean waves against the shore or the rustling of a gentle breeze through a bedroom window that opens on a lovely white sand view… no, truth be told, that was the dream from which I awoke, worse luck. Instead, I was wrestled violently from my slumber by the upstairs neighbors having loud afternoon sex from a bed that is clearly in desperate need of some WD-40 (in volume quantities from the sounds of it) and while we’re at it, let’s just throw some padding between the headboard and the wall, shall we… as their youngest – who, along with the rest of the crew, had no doubt been shown the door for the momentous occasion – stood outside, feet planted inches from my bedroom window, face turned upwards, screaming “mooooommmmmm” over and over and over and over again at the top of his lungs. His volume capability was really quite impressive. He beat The Wailing Child hands down, and that’s saying something. And all I could think of in that moment was, “for the love of all that’s holy, let them be using protection.”

And how was YOUR day?

I think my neighbors took their online training course.