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.

The Problem with Convenience

When did you first notice that you might be getting, well, a bit lazy? Was it when you sat in your home full of voice-activated robots electronics and asked them to play your music for you? Perhaps it was when you started sending all your messages via voice notes instead of typing them out. Maybe it was during your fifth online shop of the week when you realized you used to go outside your house to get your food and sundries. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about convenience. As someone who hates people and the outside world, I welcome all of the latest improvements that allow me to stay at home more than ever before.

It’s a strange world though, isn’t it? It’s like one half of us have become health obsessed freaks, slimming and gymming and sharing pictures of their abs on Instagram, while the other half are reveling in the technological advances that let them get away with doing the bare minimum.

Since the days of the clapper, we’ve fallen further and further down the rabbit hole of modern conveniences, and I can’t help but think of the film Wall-E which, spoiler alert, prophesied a future where human beings have become so goddamn lazy that they can’t even be bothered to walk around anymore. Robots and voice activated apps take care of the humans’ every need. That movie came out in 2008. The scenario doesn’t really seem that farfetched now, does it?

The crazy thing is, taking the lazy way out of things doesn’t always make life any easier for us.

For those of us who have the lights that turn on when you clap; how long did that honeymoon period last? Oh, it’s fun to show your friends this clever new way to light up your home, but how is that any easier than just flicking a switch? How about Alexa? She does lights, music, security, Amazon ordering, phone calls, the whole nine yards. But is Alexa really your friend? Okay, yeah, if you’re on the couch or in the bed and you don’t want to go clear across the room to turn off the lights, the clapper or your brand-spanking new Alexa might come in handy… until you’re applauding so hard your hands ache or you find yourself yelling until the neighbor calls the cops again (911? That crazy lady next door is at it again. Yeah, the lights.), or you spend your rent money on Amazon ordering who knows what, all because the system just isn’t working the way it should.

I mean, you could’ve walked the 6 feet to the light switch (and not accidentally called everyone in your contacts list) in the time it takes to get Alexa to understand a simple request.

Yes, mom, I know it’s 3 am.  No, I swear, nothing is wrong.  I didn’t mean to call you, or Uncle Elmer, or your next door neighbor whose number I have just for emergencies. Yes, mom, I know. You’re right, it is an ungodly hour. I just wanted to dim the lights.

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.

Bird Brain

As I was listening to my upstairs neighbor vacuum at midnight last night… as they are wont to do, with a random chorus or two of what I hope was the husband yelling at a video game, and not his kid or dog, I got to thinking of other, similarly considerate neighbors.

In my old condo, I had a neighbor on the lower level, let’s call her Barbara.  Barbara enjoys Frasier, The Nanny, and Fox News. I know this because she kept her television volume high enough that I could easily follow along with the episodes (I, too, am a fan of Frasier and The Nanny, though Fox News not so much).

Besides listening to her t.v. at decibels worthy of a Motörhead concert, Barbara liked to putter around the common area outside her sliding glass door, making it her own. She planted flowers and watered the trees and bushes and put out bird feeders. She was also known to feed the squirrels, and would walk around, tossing bread and bird seed on the ground. It was quite reminiscent of my grandmother feeding chickens. I want this image to be clear in your head, folks… an elderly woman delighting in her flowery surroundings, creating an oasis of sorts for birds and squirrels and wildlife in our humble cul-de-sac. It was an admirable pursuit, I will say.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, but a few birds decided to call our little apartment complex home. No doubt feeling welcomed by the aforementioned oasis. In fact, two opted to build a nest on my balcony.  I didn’t mind. I like birds.

Barbara, to put it mildly, lost her shit. She accosted me one afternoon as I came home late from work to order the removal of said nest. She claimed they were making a mess on her patio. She. Wanted. Them. Gone. She has eczema, I’ll have you know – and whether she actually does or not, I don’t know, but I do know that she was verrry vocal about it, shouting her diagnosis at me at least four times.

I calmly (I know, right!? Me!) explained that I would check it out and if there were no occupants of the egg or newly hatched variety, I’d be happy to remove it from her life immediately. But if there were eggs or chicks, then I would wait until the chicks had flown the coop, as it were.  And while I hadn’t observed the mess she claimed existed, I assured her that I would keep the area clean of any debris.

This wasn’t good enough and I was advised, once again, and quite vehemently, that she has eczema and a few twigs had fallen onto her patio and she was going to call the health department on me because two wild birds hadn’t stayed in the trees where they damn well belonged.

She kept me standing there for over a half hour, ranting about this nest and the imminent summoning of the health department brigade.

Once I climbed up into the rafters of the balcony to take a peek, I realized that the birds had already abandoned it for better, and likely more solitary, living elsewhere, making Barbara’s hearty warnings against my hearth and home a hollow threat.

But say they had set up shop… would my concern for these birds be misplaced?  Would my refusal to murder this house wren family make me the bad neighbor?

I’ll admit, being jumped as soon as I exited my car after a long day didn’t exactly elicit any sympathy for Barbara’s plight. Another, less autocratic, tactic on her part may have garnered more of the response she was seeking. Though really, if I’m being honest, I doubt it. I still wouldn’t have removed the nest until I was sure that there were no chicks in it, no matter who asked. The fact that she wasn’t asking, but ordering, is a moot point.

To this day, I don’t understand her mindset though… why work so hard every day to bring the birds down with food, water, and pleasantries, and then be shocked when they want to make a home?