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.

Metaphysical Menu

In my near constant perusal of the interwebs, I came across this gem:

I get the idea behind the sentiment, it’s kind of like that old saying, “you are what you eat,” just on a metaphysical level.  But what does that really mean exactly? Besides me being a total cheesecake. (Ha! See what I did there? Cause I love cheesecake… therefore, I am cheese – oh, never mind).

I guess you could simplify it even further and say if you only eat veggies, you’re a vegetarian. But what about those kids that only eat French fries or what if you only eat ramen noodles and pop-tarts? What are you then? No. Don’t answer that.

I know, I know. The reference here is that if you eat healthier, you live healthier. Live by junk food, die by junk food. Something like that. But honestly though, it’s not an all-inclusive statement… unlike that resort I kinda sorta remember in the Caribbean (hey, they had excellent margaritas!)

Then again, people often misunderstand old sayings. Maybe you’re familiar with the phrase “nip it in the bud.” Referring to rooting-out a problem before it starts. I’ve heard people say “nip it in the butt” more frequently than you’d think possible. Yeah, I don’t know, people are odd.

It goes with song lyrics too. Have you ever wondered why Jimmy Hendrix said, “excuse me while I kiss this guy” in Purple Haze? If you’re at all familiar with the song, I’d hope you’ve learned the actual lyric is “excuse me while I kiss the sky.” This was one of the highest voted misheard song lyrics of all time. No, really, it was. Along with “Dirty deeds done dirt cheap” by AC/DC, poorly translated to “dirty deeds done to sheep.” Which makes one wonder, if that’s what you really thought it was, what the hell are you doing with your life? I mean, come on people.

Okay, so I digress… I want to get back to the quote in question.

“You are the books you read, the movies you watch, the music you listen to, the people you spend time with, the conversations you engage in. Choose wisely what you feed your mind.”

Let’s take this in order, shall we?

I love horror movies and Stephen King books. So, does that paint me as a secretive sadistic serial killer in clown make-up? Or am I the paranormal investigator seeking the truth of an otherworldly existence? Or maybe a member of a cult just waiting to run off and join a bunch of fanatic – if not homicidal – youths in a corn field somewhere, waiting for the perfect human sacrificial lambs to wander by with car trouble so that we can offer them up to our demonic deity for a bountiful harvest. (Children of the Corn if you miss the reference – the original, thank you very much.  But alas, I am too old now to join their little hellfire club. I would instead be the Linda Hamilton character in this movie… which is cool, if you ask me. Not the whole almost being sacrificed to a demon in a cornfield thing, but just being Linda Hamilton.)

Don’t even get me started on music. I’ve had the Ipana Toothpaste song stuck in my head for days. Days! And, it’s not the first time.

As for people, I tend to stick to myself. I suppose my mind is starving in this regard. Unless you count the very patient librarian who routinely processes my out-of-system book requests. You won’t find me mingling at the hottest dance clubs every night or bar hopping across town. Remember the show Cheers? When those guys walked in, the whole bar knew who they were. “Hey Norm!”- “Hey Sam!” Yeah, no thanks. I prefer to sneak in undetected and go about my drinking in peace.

That brings me to the conversations that I engage in. Well if that isn’t the final nail in the coffin. You know how you have that friend, or friends that you can talk however too. You can say the grossest stuff, or dirtiest thoughts, or share the stupidest jokes. Thankfully, I am blessed with friends like that. Oh sure, we might discuss something like A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, but then again, we can get just as worked up arguing whether cereal should be considered soup… or discussing at length the perks of having a special place in Hell awaiting us or even the age old question: “are birds afraid of heights.”

Choose wisely what you feed your mind.

Welp. Maybe I am rather well-suited for those cornfield shenanigans after all. Huh. Who knew? But then again, maybe I’m reading into this quote all wrong. Maybe it’s saying I’d be more of a sleuth, equipped with the knowledge needed to deal with strange situations. Sort of like Sam and Dean on Supernatural or Scooby-Doo. Unmasking the monsters and ridding the world of rogue archangels. That could be it… yeah, we’ll go with that one.  Seems better than joining a cult that worships some sort of harvest demon. I hate farming anyway.

“It was old man Jenkins all along!” Ha! Just practicing.

Ode to Strangers

Have you ever played the “people” game, where you watch the people around you and make up a story about them? Say, you’re sitting in a café having a cup of coffee and you watch the customers come and go. For each one you make up some sort of crazy backstory based on their attitude (good or bad) or something they’re wearing.

For instance, that woman with the silver sky-high bouffant hair and neon pink suit is a dog groomer who specializes in poodles that frequent the canine beauty pageant circuit.  At one time, she was in beauty pageants herself, and won quite a few medals too, but she didn’t want her talents to go to waste so she combined her love of dogs and her love of outdated hairstyles to create a really successful business. Go ahead and mock, but she could buy and sell just about everyone in the café.

The guy in the ratty jeans (and not in a designer $500 a pair way), muddy boots, and stained jacket but oh so perfect hair, just got back into town. His best friend was abducted by aliens and he spent the better part of the last three days digging pits and booby-trapping his backwoods cabin and he’s only in town long enough to pick up his hair pomade and an espresso before he heads back up to the cabin to await the return of the alien mothership.

Hey, I can do this all day. A man walks in wearing an expensive looking tracksuit. He’s handsome and fit. Most likely has a bit of money but wait! What’s this? A fresh scratch on his cheek. He seems to be in a bit of hurry. Let me put it all together really quick. A good looking, athletic man who looks like he may have gotten into a bit of a scrap with a certain feline adversary. Don’t worry Batman, your secret’s safe with me.

I personally like to play the “people game” in reverse. That’s when you dress up before going out and let people have a stab at your backstory.  Throw on some weird outfit and head to the grocery store or the drug store or wherever you need to go. Not now… right now, you just need to stay home, but when things are safe again, consider adding some fun to a stranger’s day – and your own. Wear that bright purple cowboy hat with the tassels (on the hat!) along with your yellow fishnets and jogging shorts. And don’t forget to throw on that “Pink Ladies” satin jacket that you bedazzled the hell out of for a laugh last Halloween.

On a closing note, I’m reminded of a story from a friend of mine. It’s always brought out and dusted off on those nights out when the stories told around the table invariably start with, “this one time, I was so drunk…”  During his time in art school, he and a few classmate chums had a presentation to do prior to graduation. I forget the details of it, but during the day of said presentation, they all decided to get nice new haircuts to go with the matching suits they rented to wear. And no, I have no idea why they rented suits, and matching ones at that. From what I understand, they looked like a 4-man crew of Ray Liotta à la Goodfellas impersonators.  Anyway, the presentation went great, or so I’m told. Drunk with the joy that is having your final project graded and behind you, they decided to splurge, you know, as one does. So, they went to a somewhat nice restaurant to eat and chat and generally celebrate. They ordered wine and way more food than anyone in their right mind should be ordering… or eating for that matter (on the other hand, yay! leftovers!).  Yeah, you could say they went a bit overboard. Due to the constant flurry of wait staff at their table and the trays upon trays of food and drink that kept materializing in front of them, people took notice. You wanna know what else they noticed? The suits. The haircuts. I mean, really, matchy matchy for a presentation is a bit much on its own, but cosplaying a Goodfellas tribute band?  Yet, here we are – we wouldn’t have the story without a few bad choices.

As a family of 6 was making their way past the table to be seated at an adjacent booth, one awestruck teenager whispered to his mom, “see, I told you the mafia comes here to eat.”  Needless to say, the whole family kept their eyes down as they scurried to their table.

Oh, how we must look to strangers sometimes.

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?

You’re Not Helping

So, I wrote this entry a couple of days ago but had delayed posting it. Yeah, I know. Should’ve. Could’ve. Would’ve.  But believe it or not, I try to keep my rants to a minimum for your sake as well as mine. Thinking on it yesterday, I decided I would post it today, to follow up on my Social Distancing – Appalachia Style ramblings. I don’t plan on focusing too much on the pandemic in the future, if I can help it (you know, trying to curb anxiety and all that…), so I figured I’d get these two out in close succession. As it happens, late last night, an article on this exact same subject – though by someone much smarter than me, came across my Facebook newsfeed. Ugh. Am I right?  Even though that writer and I have the same viewpoint, we’re very different in how we approach things (i.e., they’re much nicer than I am), so despite the similar topic, I thought I would go ahead and post this anyway. Especially since I hate letting an entry just go to “waste.” However, I am linking to their article so you can read that too if you’d like – just click on the graphic below.

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People across the entire United States (and most of the globe) are sailing in the same quarantine boat. The stay-at-home orders are in place for countless communities all over the world. I want to first say that I hope everyone is safe at home. With that said, a lot of people out there can probably relate to feeling anxious and stressed, especially those who have been laid off, furloughed, or just straight up fired. I’ve already heard of a few restaurants that were struggling before the pandemic (little mom and pop style places) that have 100% closed their doors for good, due to not being able to cope with the financial storm that is currently destroying a lot of businesses.

We’re all on edge as we scour the news for information on the pandemic both from a worldwide perspective as well as how hard it’s hitting our own hometowns.  It’s truly a scary time. Our government, as usual, is doing the bare minimum for its citizens while bailing out corporations (again) which adds to the stress that a lot of us are all feeling. And then you have the hoarders and resellers taking advantage during a national emergency and creating a shortage where no shortage would exist if people would just act – and buy – normally. But that’s not what I want to talk about today.

I want to talk about the so-called self-help nonsense I keep seeing on social media and in articles I’m viewing online. Take this time to learn a new skill!  Take this time to read your massive “to be read” pile of books! Start your own business! Increase your knowledge! If you don’t come out of this better than you were going in, it doesn’t mean you never had the time before, it means you lack motivation, you lack discipline!  In other words, you’re lazy. Yeah, right.

I get that they’re trying to help by keeping everyone motivated (more likely, they have an online class to sell) but some of these are just taking it too far. It’s disgusting how many posts I’ve seen, and continue to see, that are literally SHAMING people if they don’t come out of this situation with a new skill. Or a new business. The privilege and ignorance are showing.

It’s incredibly disappointing, though perhaps not surprising, to realize that so many people lack the empathy and compassion to understand how negatively this situation is affecting others… those who are concerned about having just their BASIC NEEDS met.

Food. Water. Shelter.

Don’t even get me started on medical care. I mean, maybe take two seconds to understand what it might be like to have no income to pay your rent or buy necessities, or to be otherwise stressed out, given the circumstances.

It’s good to aspire to learn more and to do more, but this really is a traumatic experience on a global scale. Many people are already mourning multiple deaths because of this devastating virus. Most people aren’t productive, or even thinking straight when they lose loved ones, let alone multiple loved ones. It’s also hard to be motivated when your body and mind are constantly worried and stressed to the max.  Some people freeze-up or shut down completely when dealing with anxiety overload. It’s a normal response.

If someone can create, learn, and be productive at this time — AWESOME! But don’t judge others if they can’t.

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.