Game On

You may have noticed, but the world is plunging into chaos. Polar bears are on the verge of extinction, there’s a great big vortex of plastic floating in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and well, you know… *waving vaguely at everything.* I’m not naming names or anything, but if the world were Gotham City the supervillains would be winning right about now, and Batman and Batwoman seem to be on hiatus.

We spend so much time wondering when Clark Kent is going to fly in to save the day, complete with his underpants on the outside of his pants (go figure, obviously some human cultural norms slipped past him after he crash landed) that most of us don’t realize there are millions of gamers around the planet fighting evil, likewise in their underwear, every single day. Okay, so the evil they fight is on the screen, but honestly, what’s the difference between a modern politician and a Quake 4 demon zombie anymore? If the two were in a game of “spot the difference,” I think many people would get very, very flustered trying to work out the puzzle.

Forget Superman. What if our heroes are already here on Earth? Think about it. All comic superheroes are nerds, or at least start out that way. And I mean that with the utmost respect. Superman is a journalist in his usual civilian life. Tony Stark is a complete tech-head. And Wonder Woman, well she’s just wonderful. You could even make an argument that Deadpool himself is somewhat of geek. I mean, he’s a hardcore fan of Dragon Ball, after all.  Point is, all these superheroes started off as quirky outsiders sitting around in their pajamas before getting bitten by a nuclear spider or flung into the far reaches of space and deciding to don leotard outfits, or, you know, stay in their pajamas.

Nerds. Are. Our. Future.

No one has more practice slaying demons, dragons, and whatever other monster you can possibly think of than gamers. If aliens come to attack planet Earth, or heaven forbid, a zombie outbreak occurs, it will be gamers that will be most trained in the art of holding their nerve and planning a survival strategy.

They are our superheroes.

And slowly they are gaining more and more exposure and recognition. Gaming is now big business. American teenager Kyle Giersdorf won $3 million in New York this past July after taking the top prize in a tournament for the popular online video game Fortnite. That’s a hell of a lot better than the chump change the rest of us make. And hell, most of us aren’t even doing anything nearly as fun to earn our paycheck. Speaking of which, in the office wars, I bet most gamers would come out on top as well.

I mean, seriously, any list of gaming skills reads like the perfect CV. I know I’ve said this before, but gamers have to have some serious skills to be good at what they do. Not only do their reflexes need to be as sharp as samurai masters, but they have to stay focused and keep a cool head under pressure.  They need to be able to strategize and juggle multiple tasks at once. In addition, they need to understand and remember numerous complex backstories and be proactive in finding and exploiting glitches to the betterment of their mission or team. Don’t even get me started on stamina or mental acuity… gamers are capable of sustaining a high level of concentration and can stay on task far longer than just about any office dweller. Reliability, problem-solving, productive risk-taking… I’m telling you, they’ve got it all. Such talent surely translates into marketable skills, if not the potential for true greatness.  Come on, gamers, we’re looking at you… you are the future.

Game on.

The One With the Red Cover

I don’t know if you belong to any book or movie groups on social media, but they’re an awesome way to connect with like-minded entertainment junkies where you can delve into plot holes, critique subplots involving second string characters, and debate ad nauseum the politics of certain actors, but let me tell you, it’s seriously not as boring as that run-on sentence just made it out to be.

Sometimes, you’re given homework. Again, membership is usually a little more interesting than my descriptors would lead you to believe.  Anyway, fellow members (you know who you are) will routinely offer up puzzles to the rest of the group. Like, what was that movie that had the title with a name of a flower in it… or that book, you know, the one that came out 30 years ago with a red cover and a character named John. The responses to these vague campaigns often run the gamut. Some, like me, take it as a challenge.

Of course, there are always those who respond, why don’t you Google it? I mean, they have a point. Google is right there. Google is your friend. But then again, isn’t that the point of these niche groups? To talk, discuss, and generally obsess over whatever it is the group is patterned after? It’s the perfect place to ask those types of questions, and quite frankly, I’m not sure why the “go ask Google” people are even in those groups if they don’t want to help a fellow bibliophile or cinephile in their pursuit of a dated book or an obscure film.

And what about the people who create these intriguing side quests and then apparently drop off the face of the Earth?

Yeah, does anybody remember a book about a girl named Jane, I read it, oh, about 25 years ago, had something to do with the sea, and something bad happens. Yeah, that’s all I’ve got. Anybody know it?

Then you have fifty people throwing out answers, some of which are pretty damned decent guesses and either those folks have a vast mental library or else they’re fantastic researchers… but, we’ll never know the answer to this riddle, because the original poster never comes back to say, yeah, that was it! Or no, you’re all wrong, are you crazy, of course that wasn’t it!

I mean, at least come back and give the rest of us some closure for god’s sake. I think those people need a course in manners. Hey, I remember that book! By a lady named Miss Manners of all things. Maybe I should recommend it to them.

You know what, though? This lack of rejoinder happens in any online group that has people as members, the one constant being, well, people.

Seen in a backyard gardening group: What’s this plant growing in my garden … I never planted it, it just showed up one day, fully grown. Can I eat it? Will it kill my cat!? What’s the deal?  And someone responds, because they always do, with encyclopedic detail, pictures and all, to let the would-be gardener know not only the name of the plant, but a delicious recipe their grandmother had using that very plant. Others pile on with their own identification and recipes for teas, salves, and oils. But does concerned forager and cat owner ever respond? Nope. We’re just talking to ourselves at that point.

It’s the whole being behind a keyboard rather than face-to-face thing, I think. Even though the internet connects us, there’s still an inherent disconnect.

And we still don’t know what happened with her cat.

The Ghostest with the Mostest

I’m pretty sure it’s come up before, but I’m quite the horror movie fanatic. Well nothing too crazy like a having a life-size cutout of Freddie Krueger or Michael Myers (slasher extraordinaire, not the Spy Who Shagged Me) in my living room or a lifelike replica of Pamela Voorhees’ dismembered head on a candlelit coffee table (just let me pause for a moment to say that if anyone is selling one, please be sure to send me a message with a fair price.)

With that said, I am a pretty avid fan, nonetheless. Back in the day, anything and everything was fair game in my cinematic horror world. Films like Razorback (don’t judge me!) were in the same line-up as Ghost Story for my late-night viewing. I like to think that my viewing habits have gotten more consistently sophisticated over time, but I’m not so sure. Nowadays, movies like The Cabin in the Woods (2011) share space with classics such as The Haunting of Hill House (1963) in “my stuff” on streaming media sites.

If I had to pinpoint a genre (or sub-genre, if you like) to be a personal favorite, I would have to say I lean strongly towards haunted house and general ghost-y movies.

Once in a while, Hollywood scores pretty big with a well-done ghost story, but mostly it’s a special effects game. Don’t get me wrong, I love CGI-laden movies as much as anyone, but movies that build from a slow burn make for a more realistic scare in my opinion.

M.R. James is a favorite writer and while some of his stories have been utilized for movie making, there is so much more potential there that’s left untapped.

If I were to recommend a film that is inspired by one of his works, I’d say Number 13 (2006) is a pretty good story. If you’re a fan of the shining, it’s definitely worth a look.

In the age of zombies (World War Z or Night of the Living Dead), creature features (The Descent or A Quiet Place), and others, a good ghost story is hard to come by. There have been a few wonderful adaptations of ghost stories throughout cinema, but the most popular ghost story of the last decade or so would probably go to Paranormal Activity, and that’s such a modernized “fast-food” experience in my opinion.

So, why is there a lack of really good ghost stories?  Is it because Hollywood knows its audience usually has the attention span of a jar of mayonnaise?  Or is it that people just like to see pain and anguish on a physical level because they’re sadistic voyeurs? A friend of mine who is obsessed with horror, thinks that most of Hollywood’s decisions are targeted to two basic types of horror movie audiences.

You have the mainstream movies, like Winchester or The Visit (good movie by the way!), which are intended to appeal to the casual horror movie fan. For instance, “You know what Becky, I haven’t seen a horror movie in a few years, let’s go check out this eerie ghost flick at the theater.” Versus hardcore fans of horror, where it’s all about shock value, over the top gore, sex, violence, etc. For example: “Hey Sven, have you seen Tokyo Gore Police yet? I heard they used over 50 thousand gallons of fake blood making that film, we should go check it out.”

Where are the intelligent, slow building haunted house stories? I know that Hollywood sometimes has difficulty with original material – hence all the remakes, but in this case, there is source material galore. The fact that modern day audiences have likely never read gothic horror is not so much a slight on society as it is, quite simply, teeming with potential for screenwriters.

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.

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.

 

 

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

Ghosts and Gore and So Much More

I’m a pretty big fan of horror and action movies, as most of you know. But I will admit to enjoying the oft-maligned Hallmark movies. If I’m not actively watching them, I often have them just playing on the t.v. as background noise. My first dive into the Hallmark pool was with the ‘Sarah, Plain and Tall’ trilogy from way back in 1991 with the incredibly talented duo of Glenn Close and Christopher Walken. The Hallmark movies have lost a little quality and/or diversity in plot since then, but some of them are still fun.

Recently, my daughter has been successful in talking me into movies I wouldn’t ordinarily watch, like The Goldfinch, Shallow Grave, Kill Your Darlings, and Wonder Boys. I must confess, I’ve really enjoyed these and others that aren’t my usual genre. I’m expanding my movie horizons, you might say.

However, I always return to my roots when left to my own devices… horror. And I’ll admit to a little binging here lately. Hey, I like movies and I certainly have the time right about now. I tend to gravitate towards ghost stories, haunted houses, and supernatural tales for my fright fests. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like nowadays, it’s all gore, jump scares, gore, and more jump scares. Now, I’m not saying there aren’t any good mainstream horror movies, it’s just that many of the newer horror flicks have been a tad disappointing. Personally, I like smart horror movies, the stories that scare in their own right, not ones that rely solely on gimmicks to startle the audience. Being startled by a sudden overly loud sound or someone popping out of a cabinet isn’t the same as being scared, if you ask me.

A friend of mine, on the other hand, is a huge fan of the cheesy, gory style of horror movies. The gorier the better for him. And he’s not alone. To each their own, I say.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I can’t or don’t watch over the top gory movies, it’s not that gore sickens me… I just think it’s a cheap thrill. (For argument’s sake, we’ll ignore the fact that a very blood-filled ‘No-one Lives’ is one of my favorite movies.)  Films like Cannibal Holocaust, The Green Inferno, and Human Centipede are shocking and gruesome, and I guess they’re classified as horror because there really isn’t another genre box to put them in. But no matter how well written they might be (not counting Human Centipede, that movie is as stupid as it is grotesque – and not in a good way), it’s difficult for me to equate them with truly scary films such as The Orphanage, Ju-On: The Grudge, Carnival of Souls, The Haunting (1963), and the like.

I don’t want everyone to think I hate every gory movie with jump scares. In fact, some make for an entertaining afternoon. It’s just that in general, where horror movies are concerned, I usually prefer to be scared, not grossed out.

What say you, my friends? Ghosts or gore?

It’s Got Everything

I was going through my phone’s photo albums and came across a screenshot I had taken months ago … no doubt saved as inspiration for future commentary.  And here we are, in the future.  So, let’s get to it.

This was a conversation in reference to the movie JoJo Rabbit, and I don’t know if any of you have seen JoJo Rabbit, but the thing that makes this comment funny – and no doubt the reason I saved it, is that this movie is nothing if not one giant political statement. I mean, I’m not sure what this guy expects from a movie about Hitler. In the words of the great Stefon, this movie has everything… Nazis (the originals, not the ones that just came out from under their rocks recently), a corrupt government, bigotry, you name it, and yes, Hitler – albeit, a buffoonish, idiotic, ridiculous Hitler (played by Waititi himself). JoJo Rabbit is a sweeping commentary on politics, society, war, and hate.

But, and this is where Taika Waititi shows his genius, it’s also a movie about compassion and bravery in doing what’s right despite what your government and leaders, and even your friends, might want from you. Ultimately, it’s a story about kindness and love. But make no mistake, political. In other words, it’s tainted to the gills with “liberal doo doo.”  So foolish comments like these, from people who, if they’re being honest, are probably pissed off at Hitler’s demise (in both the movie and in real life) are comical to me.

If you haven’t watched the film, I recommend it. For me, it will likely be a one off. Don’t get me wrong, Taika Waititi has created something wonderful and poignant and unexpectedly funny… and moving. So. Damn. Moving. I saw it in the theater and at the end, I was left awestruck and speechless and pained.  It wasn’t a movie I could comfortably, let alone enjoyably, discuss afterward – feelings which are a testament to Waititi’s incredible vision. Whether cowardly or no, once was enough for me, it’s not a movie I’ll revisit. However, I still highly recommend it… it’s more than worth the experience.  It won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay and perhaps, more importantly, it won the AFI (American Film Institute) award for Movie of the Year, along with many other accolades, all well deserved.

But yeah. It “gets political.”

click on Stefon to watch the JoJo Rabbit trailer

A Walking, Talking Goddess

I love movies. I may have mentioned it before. And to most of us who love movies, the name Sophia Loren is one that carries weight. Even if you don’t know any of her films or anything about her, you certainly know the name. It’s up there with Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Gene Kelly as a name that conveys an expectation of greatness, because that’s what Sophia Loren is, she’s one of the greats. And she’s one of the few remaining legends of the classic Hollywood era still gracing our earthly plane.

Let’s be honest, Sophia Loren was, and still is, a goddess. And I’m not just talking about her looks here, though I’m not poo pooing them either, as she’s always been elegant to the point of envy for many people. But she’s also a goddess of life. Loren has won so many awards she’s probably had to buy them their own apartment. She arguably launched the celebrity perfume/cosmetics trend in 1980 with her perfume, Sophia.  She wrote an autobiography, raised children, and held down a highly successful movie career that took her all over the world. Did I mention her charity work?

But wait a minute, I’m sorry, my mistake. I forgot that none of that matters and she is evil incarnate. Why, I hear you cry? Did she murder someone? Nope. Did she go all Mommie Dearest on her kids? Never. I bet you’re thinking that she ran over a pile of puppies while laughing maniacally à la Cruella De Vil… not a chance.

Hold onto your hats, folks, cause this is tragic… the horrific offense committed by Ms. Loren is (*deep breath*) that she dared to not shave her armpits. Result: Sophia Loren is CANCELLED! Because a hairy armpit on a woman is just disgusting, right? Uh, wrong! Though not according to a group of gender biased, (and presumably follically challenged if they’re so horrified by naturally occurring body hair), people in a classic movie Facebook group I belong to. I repeat. A classic movie group. You know, the kind of group that you’d think would appreciate the talented Ms. Loren. But alas, it seems their appreciation is predicated solely on her falling into line with their expectations which, apparently, do not include bodily autonomy.

Here, let me give you some context. Cause I can already see that you don’t believe me. I mean, it is Sophia Loren, we’re talking about and I don’t blame you for assuming anyone in their right mind would automatically consider her perfection itself.

Someone posted this article to the group where it immediately – but immediately – provoked a tirade of abuse against this intelligent, beautiful, talented, and fierce woman, reducing her to the sum of one of her body parts, her armpits.

By the comments of “ewwww,” “disgusting,” “yuk,” and worse (so, so much worse), you’d swear Ms. Loren had spent her days stalking the hairiest men she could find and digging around in their shower drains to find some soggy, matted locks she could glue onto her shamefully bald flesh.

Newsflash: Women are hairy! Get over it! And while you’re busy getting over that hump, keep on going because right next to it is another, much fluffier hump full of women who choose to remain au naturel. I know, right!?  How dare we!?

One gentleman jerk even commented on the post saying if she was with him, he’d make her shave it.  Make her.  Make. Her. You know, because this pillar of society clearly has a line of Sophia Loren like women outside his house, desperately hoping they’re deemed smooth enough to be worthy of the god like body he probably assumes he has. Not that I know this guy, but how much are we all betting you could braid his back? But he and hundreds, (and I mean hundreds), of other commenters had the gall to say that Sophia Loren needs to shave in order to be sexy.

And really, that’s just one issue that women in society have faced for countless centuries. We are judged by our appearance and whether we are deemed “doable” enough to be acceptable members of the human race. But why does body hair on women cause such visceral outrage? People are genuinely horrified at the sight of a hairy-legged woman. They recoil on the subway if a woman raises her arm to reveal a fluffy pit, like they’re dirty for having naturally occurring hair. Yet a man who was graced with a ripe coat of sprouting follicles all over his body doesn’t have to bat an eyelid of shame.

How many times have we been in a pool, alarmed that a bear has entered the shallow end, but upon closer inspection realize it is, in fact, just a human male? But no one says anything to him, he’s allowed to just be him. But hey, if he’s happy, leave him to it, he just shouldn’t then turn around and comment that Sophia Loren is disgusting. We are all far too obsessed with telling other people how they should keep their bodies. And body hair on women is no exception.

Here in the U.S., society has molded us to view body hair on women as disgusting and offensive, to the point we feel it is more than acceptable to shame women, including Sophia Loren, for having it. There’s a running stereotype that European women embrace their body hair more freely (which I hope is true), and Sophia Loren is Italian, but I’d even go so far as to say that over the years body hair is slowly becoming more embraced by women everywhere. The rate of acceptance, however, is a lot slower.

In 1999 Julia Roberts was torn to shreds by the press for attending the premiere of Notting Hill with unshaven armpits. So, instead of the press reporting on a talented actress who was at the top of her Hollywood game at that time, she was reduced to endless debates about women and shaving. Today, it’s less likely she’d suffer such a tirade over a bit of hair but, obviously, as proven by the classic movie Facebook group, not impossible.

Through years of patriarchy, we tend to view the world through the male gaze. Habits are changing, but it’s slow, and nowhere is that more evident than reading the comments on a Sophia Loren post where not just men, but women were vilifying her for having some body hair.

When I look at someone like Sophia Loren, the last thing I’m thinking is “hey, if she only had smooth armpits, she’d be a better actress/writer/mother/human” or that having fuzzy ones make her less beautiful, sexy, and vibrant (as if!).  Whether she chooses to shave or not is none of my damn business, and no one else’s either, and it certainly doesn’t impact her goddess status.

Shenanigans of a Sort

St. Patrick’s Day 2020… mark it up as yet another year that I’m still not living in a cottage somewhere off the beautiful coastlines of Ireland. So, what is Saint Patrick’s Day like where you are? Here in the U.S., it’s a drinking day, a day to go bar hopping, a time where frat boys and sorority girls party all day (and then all night) long. Big whimsical hats, flamboyant over-sized sunglasses, “Kiss me, I’m Irish” buttons, and quirky borderline not so borderline offensive t-shirts with oh-so-catchy slogans on them, like, “I like my whiskey twice my age, but I like my women half my age.” Or “My mother said I could be anything when I grew up, so I became an alcoholic.”

Oh, and if you haven’t noticed, everything turns green this time of year. Hell, in the year 1962, the city of Chicago started their annual tradition of dying an entire river green. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the event – and so many others, has been canceled this year.

With the state of the world right now, and everything pretty much closed, it looks like I’ll stay safe with a bottle of Bailey’s curled up on the couch with some Netflix. Will no doubt watch Leap Year again (yeah I know, not exactly a film chock full of Irish history), and while there’s no one for me to chase clear across the ocean just so I can meet someone else and fall in love, I’d sure like to have the wherewithal to make that leap on my own.

Movies like Under the Tuscan Sun (one of my favorites) are inspiring, but they all seem to have the same caveat. The person making the leap has the financial stability to just up and move without even having their wallets feel the least bit underweight. Or, if you’re more into Hallmark movies, the woman in question snags a primo nanny job in some far-off land and then goes on to snag the stupidly rich hot dad/family member/neighbor/inn keeper. I love kids (my own, anyway), but I just don’t have that kind of patience.

If you’re into a bit of the ol’ action genre for the holiday, since everyone should be considering staying in, The Boondock Saints is a great movie to check out. The sequel is, well…meh. Although catching a glimpse of a wet and naked Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flannery is always a plus. It’s a foul-mouthed action-packed movie series with heavy Irish overtones that would do well to simulate the drunken brawls and loudness that a lot of bargoers would experience at the pub this time of year. In other words, my kind of movie.

Since this has apparently turned into a recommendation for movies, you can’t go wrong with The Commitments. The soundtrack alone makes it worth it, but the story is pretty damn good too.  If you want some family fare… Darby O’Gill and the Little People, with a young Sean Connery, is just the thing!

There’s a friend of mine who makes it a point to watch as many of the old cheesy Leprechaun horror movies as he can on this holiday. I think he said there were 8 of them out there. I’ve only seen a few of them myself, so I have some catching up to do. In the wake of being under lockdown for most, binging these Saint Patrick’s Day inspired horror movies would take up somewhere around 13 hours of your day. Couple that with some hearty Irish whiskey, and you have yourself a Quarantine Saint Patrick’s Day starter kit.

Above all else though, no matter what you decide to do, remember to stay safe, drink responsibly, and for the love of all that’s holy, wash your hands. As for me? I guess for now, I’ll just grab another glass of Bailey’s and my TV remote and pay my respects with a drink in honor of Ireland.