Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Comic Books of My Childhood Continue to Come to Life, Again

Wonder Woman the movie starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine was wonderful and an awesome delivery pumping life into another character I relished reading on four color pulp. While other girls were reading Nancy Drew or Bobbsey Twins books I read comic books. Superman was my all-time favorite, the variety of characters and their personalities were so engaging to my childhood perspective of the “real” adult world, except I knew there was no real-life caped hero, Mighty Mouse taught me that little fact.

The DC and Marvel comic universes have successfully delivered pop culture comics from pulp to film much to the extreme pleasure of those of us who would rather fall in to the thrilling fantasy of graphic depictions with text filled bubbles of dialogue and tagged blocks of portending action than the chapters of mysteries to be solved by Nancy Drew.

The cinematography in this film tells the story as much as the clever dialogue. It has taken Wonder Woman’s iconic Amazonian battle ready stance and transformed it right in front of your eyes as if it was slipped from the paper to the silver screen.

The setting in World War I Europe gives the look and feel of chaos and hopelessness – it’s muddy, messy and there is lots of hunger and pillage at the hands of invading Germans hoping to rage on and scurry any plans for a peaceful armistice.

Through all that chaos arises the powerful image of Princess Diana of Themyscira clearing a path for resistance fighters who have been hunkered in bunkers waiting for an opening to advance on the enemy. Wonder Woman makes that opening for them while fending off bullets with her magic cuffs and shield.

This film is a good springboard to the upcoming Justice League movie that unites Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, AquaMan, the Flash, and Cyborg to save our planet from a catastrophe. It’s a most fitting theme for the current times.

See the movie Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot is a charismatic Demi-goddess and believable in her portrayal as sincere strong woman who has hope for peace in our world. Chris Pine as Steve Trevor is eternally handsome and heroic and just plain funny at the just right times.

This movie is not just about “girl power”, it is about strength, conviction in truth and respect for humanity. If that sounds too deep, there are a few chuckles along the way that remind you we are all very human.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Somethings I Really Want to Say About Mother’s Day, Again

Like many moms, I’ve experienced some pretty different and interesting Mother’s Day gifts over the years. On this day Moms will be given gifts that might have Mom give pause and think to herself, “hmmm, did I drop you on your head or some something when you were younger?” She might really want to say out loud, “WHAT were you thinking?” She will smile anyway, you’re her kid.

There are also Moms who will get the kind of gift that will bring tears of joy, genuine gratitude and maybe even pride.
If you are lucky enough to have mom still with you this Mother’s Day, I want to say there are cues and clues your Mom might offer when and if you ask what she would like for Mother’s Day.
Some moms are coy. When asked what is wished for on Mother’s Day, they wave you off and say with a breathy sigh, “Oh, honey, you don’t have to get me anything.” This is a lie.
You might not really have to purchase anything gift-wise, but you’d better have at the very least a pretty and elaborately designed die-cut Hallmark card with gooey sentimental verse, in the mail, and delivered no later than the Saturday before Mother’s day. You get extra points if it’s delivered Thursday or Friday giving her more time to show it off and admire it. This also indicates that there was forethought in this particular selection. Moms like it when their kids think about things in advance. It shows good training.

That same question to a different Mom might get you this response, ”Please, you don’t get me anything, just a card if you want.” THIS would be MY response and it is not a fib. I really don’t want the card, but if you feel you must, don’t waste the stamp, because I know you are going to stop by anyway, I will still proudly display it in recognition of your thoughtfulness and good training. You are, after all, my kid.
Pay very close attention if, when asking that same question, you get a response like this, “Just once, I’d like to stay in bed all day, drink my coffee with the Sunday paper and my book, have some Chinese food delivered around 2 o’clock and just decadently hang out in some solitary time.” THIS is what I really want. You asked. I answered. Don’t make a screwed up face because it’s not what YOU want.

This decadent self-indulgent wish can only be achieved if the house is vacated. If you counter the suggestion that this could be achieved in the living room, this is a fantasy on your part, even if the house is empty. There are too many ‘to-do’ things in plain sight of moms that are simply not in anyone else’s field of vision.
If you offer to make dinner, make the meal she requests. If it’s meatloaf and baked potatoes, make her meatloaf and baked potatoes. A counter suggestion for something you would find more tasty undermines your own offer in the first place. 
Another thing I want to say is, “Don’t expect your partner to buy your own Mom a Mother’s day card.” If you’re already buying a card for your wife, include your own Mom’s while you’re at it, unless of course your wife forbids you from making the selection. That also indicates good training.
Mother’s Day shouldn’t be a complex ordeal. It is simply one day that officially and maybe a little superficially honors Mom. It is the occasion to honor the gift of our own mother. It is the opportunity to shower her with a little more love, care and warmth that we might not take the time to do throughout the rest of the year. No material gift can match our love for Mom, but it does attach meaning and significance to the occasion in our own small way.
Here is one final sentiment that I really want to say about Mother’s Day. My own Mom is dead but I remember her every Mother’s Day with purchasing the card I would have sent to her and I give it to my Mother-in-law. She loves it and proudly displays it, right next to the one purchased from her son and I. Of course, I mail it so that it arrives by Thursday.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Judas and Survivor Game Changers

There’s been more than one real life situation where I have known secrets about people relatively close to me and others, sexuality being the least of them. A secret confided to you is a sacred trust. A secret you divulge because of personal gain is reckless and irresponsible. It’s betrayal.
Survivor, Game Changers pulled out the last scripted reality stunt for me last night. Survivor is one of the few TV shows I tolerate watching with my family, as they are entertained far more than I, watching grown-ups ‘play’ a ‘reality’ game of ‘survival and strategy’ on a tropical island. The end of the game is $1,000,000 prize voted by a jury of the last survivors to the winner who best played the game.
When the first season of Survivor aired, my first thought was, and still is, that a million dollars was simply not enough money to live so exposed in front of a film crew documenting such base human behavior. While the prize hasn’t changed over the last 17 years, obviously the producers have figured out the show’s motto, “outwit, outplay, outlast” is not as important to success and ratings as tugging at the emotions of the viewer by throwing in weekly melodrama that will foster feelings for the villain or the underdog and with scrupulous editing and scripting there are always villains and underdogs. Always, for why else would people keep watching this supposed Reality Show of everyday folks competing with survival strategies to win a million dollars?

I am a cynic. After watching the Tribal Council where Jeff Varner outed Zeke Smith as deceiving his fellow survivors by not disclosing that Zeke is transgender, I immediately slipped into my skeptic mode. I can’t be sure if the disclosure itself was planned or scripted, but Zeke’s reaction felt to me as a look more stoic than shocked or blindsided.

The household booed my reaction. How could I think that the emotions weren’t genuine? How could I think that such a thing would be scripted? I’ll tell you how.

First the immunity Challenge, lost to Zeke’s Nuku tribe, a puzzle spelling out one word, Metamorphosis. Varner is arranging the letters.
Then during the Tribal Council Zeke was extremely poised, almost cool compared to the rest of the Nuku tribe. I believe Zeke was the only one truly prepared for the reveal. I can’t be sure if Varner was truly as desperate for his Survivor Life as he said or if he was prompted by the producers.
Outing someone with their permission is not outing, it’s relaying information. Outing someone against their wishes, I think, would evoke some very traumatic response – in Varner’s own words, “it’s an assault”. The only one truly NOT emotional was Zeke and Jeff Probst.
I went so far as to compare the scene to being aired on the last Lenten Wednesday, known as Spy Wednesday, the day Judas betrayed Jesus. Maybe that’s a stretch, but still coincidental.

However, after the show ended, a coordinated public relations campaign between, Probst, Varner, Smith and representatives from GLAAD, the LGBT advocacy organization, aired. Social Media traffic revved with even Jeff Varner and Jeff Probst posting on Twitter espousing support and tolerance.

Also, Late Wednesday, the Hollywood Reporter published a lengthy guest column from Zeke. It is thorough, thoughtful and well written. He described his transitioning process, how competing on “Survivor” helped him prove his “manliness” to himself and what it felt like to be outed on national television. His honesty was inspiring.

Whether or not Zeke Smith wins $1,000,000 on Survivor, he should certainly make that much in book sales. I am confident there’s one in the works.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

CTRL+ALT+ DEL 2016, Task Manager the year

Goodbye 2016. The closest thing to a do-over is CTRL + ALT+ DEL and I’m hoping to restart 2017 with enhanced Processes.

On very personal note my 2016 was filled with some very awesome moments that will be stored in the Physical Memory. I was blessed to officiate very lovely weddings, and welcome with blessings a new baby girl to the McCormick-Boogaard clan.

My entire family of kids, grandkids and sons-in-law spent an awesome day together. We got a picture to prove it.

Granddaughter #1 decided to stay in college, take her time and pay her tuition out of pocket, rather than rack up more student loan debt. Although it’s sometimes is frustrating, she is growing as an adult in her own fashion. Bravo!

Grandson #1 attended his Senior Prom. He would have passed it by, since he was new to this school, but his long time friend Victoria insisted she be his date and that he not miss this important event. It was awesome!

My younger grands had notable accomplishments; #3 received the much sought after teacher nominated Husky award for kindness, something she had wanted so badly through her years in elementary school. Ironically, kindness might not be in her wheelhouse, but maybe that’s just at home.
#4 made a conscious decision to play baseball and change positions to catcher, he’s a natural.
Finally, #5 had her first dance recital performing to “Teddy Bear Picnic”, one of my mother’s favorite kiddie song, I’m sure she looked down from her heavenly seat and beamed. I know I did.

Our family suffered an unexpected death of a young brother-in-law. My admiration for my sister-in-law’s strength is immeasurable.

We said goodbye to a dear friend who just didn’t have it in him to keep going in this world, but he wanted one last cruise and we did it. It was a good thing.

Goodbye, 2016. It had some good times. Oh yeah, we visited Harry Potter in November. That was very cool!

I’m hoping the Memory of the country’s voters remember this is already a great country otherwise we would not have a vote to be counted regardless of the desired outcome.

I’m hoping the elected Users in their Service(s) engage their Performance with the Constitution as the fundamental Application(s) of the laws and principles of this country.

I remember this past year of 2016 as being filled with a distracting combination of hope and anxiety. It was exhausting.

2017 is ready for a Restart. Hit CTRL + ALT+ DEL and enter. Welcome 1/1/2017.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Size 8

Size 8

While attending a dinner party my hostess introduced me to a woman who was also her workout buddy. We found we had much in common like growing up in the city and the things we missed living in the suburbs like the neighborhood bakery. The conversation took a humorous turn when they described their daily run to a bagel bakery on their travel route. These two women leave their homes every morning at 5 a.m. and commence to their daily hour workout at the gym followed by the daily run to their favorite bagel bakery. I admired the commitment to working out every day but questioned the daily bagel run. “I can’t help it,” my hostess exclaimed, “I’m really a fat girl at heart!” I simply grinned and stated, “Well, I’m really a thin girl at heart.”

I am not a fat girl at heart. I’m not a skinny girl either and never have been. But in my mind’s eye my body image is not that of a fat person. While I don’t maintain a regular gym membership I do have a regular yoga practice which began in my early teens. Slow movement is better than no movement and often doesn’t leave me with strained or sore muscles and leaves me with a certain contented energy.

There have been many moments of clarity when I realized that my size is simply the space I take up in this universe. One of those first moments was attending an information session on the process of preparing for and living with gastric bypass surgery. I attended with my daughter who eventually went with a gastric surgery. As I looked around the room I was struck with the number of visibly sad and physically overwhelmed people who were desperate for an intervention to change their lives. Although I was gathering information and keeping company for my daughter, I knew immediately that I did not belong in that room. I was not desperate for a change, nor was I sad. There is so much more substance in my life than worrying about my weight all day.

 It was another moment that hit me while sitting in a Weight Watchers meeting listening to a lifetime member tell the group about how she still wrestles daily with her inner mindset and will always see herself as an overweight person. Her internal body image will never be thin. I thought how very sad it was that after all her hard earned success of losing weight, meeting and keeping her goal weight for years, that she still saw herself as a fat person. I realized I don’t have that image of myself. In my mind’s eye my body image in not that of a fat person.

I see my size in the mirror and in photographs. I’m not blind to my size. But what I see first is a smiling redhead with a really great haircut and usually along with people who love me as I am and I love them. I am big, big in size and personality. I’m a woman of intelligence and wit along with being a wife, mother, matriarch and grandmother. None of those descriptions have anything to do with my ample hourglass shape or size. And when I’ve left this earth I am relatively sure my weight and size will not be detailed on my headstone.

Once I was asked in conversation, “What if you could change something about your appearance what would it be?” Without hesitation I replied, “My nose. I’ve always wanted a patrician looking Roman nose.” One woman was surprised and responded, “Really? You wouldn’t want to be thin? You have such a pretty face.” Well, haven’t I heard that one before.

More often than not, I have been relatively comfortable in my own skin. It is the only skin I’ve got and I can’t trade it in.

I wouldn’t know what to do with ‘thin’. To be truthful, every time I endeavored to lose weight, I encountered some sort of health issue, the last one being breast cancer. I don’t believe the weight loss caused the cancer. As a matter of fact it was having cancer that led me to one of my “ah ha” moments in body acceptance. A year after completing treatment and during a follow up visit, my oncologist asked if I was interested is seeing a plastic surgeon for ‘scar revision’. I didn’t think I was a candidate for it because of my size. Her response was, “This is not a ‘size 8’ world.” No, it is not. Especially for me since I have never been a size 8, except my shoe size.

Personal validation came when the plastic surgeon requested to take before and after photos of my scar revision surgery to use in his teaching med students about treating the larger patient, because we do not live in a “size 8 world”. My body shape and size was going to contribute to the study and training of future cosmetic surgeons!

That surgery repaired more than the appearance of my chest. It reenergized my self-esteem at a time when I was physically and emotionally weary. After recovery and healing the doctor asked me what I thought about the results. “I love the view when I look down.” He said, “how you feel about what you see is 90% of my job, the rest is medicine.”

The sweetest moment of clarity came recently with cuddle time with one of my grandchildren. She was snuggling with her PopPop and left him to come and snuggle up to me. As she got comfortable he teased her and said, “Oh, I see where I stand with you.” And her priceless response was, “Well, PopPop if you were chubbier, maybe you’d be soft and comfy like Grammy.”

That’s me, woman, wife, mother, matriarch, and Grammy, all wrapped up in one big beautiful huggable package, in size 8 shoes.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Pulpit and Politics: Keeping it Real and Thinking for Myself

This post might upset a few people, be forewarned.
While trolling Facebook I read a post I fact checked, because I was relatively sure the headline was misleading.
Pope Francis is a pretty smart and clever authority and great PR for today's Roman Catholic church. I am grateful he has not publicly endorsed a specific candidate. Church is not the place for politics and politics is no place for religious doctrine.
Included in this link above there is a recorded homily given by Father John Lankeit where he informs the congregation of their duty as Catholics to vote pro-life.
I listened to the entire homily. I encourage you to listen. He very carefully walked a fine line of not suggesting a specific candidate or party by name.
The Church enjoys a certain tax status with the understanding of a clear separation of church and state. However I have had more than a few 'animated' discussions with my parish priests in the past during election times regarding the appropriate placement of political agenda during a time of worship that has been designed to enhance and explain the scripture that has just been presented. On one occasion I was irate that our pastor stationed people handing out sample ballots of specific candidates to vote for as we entered church for Sunday Mass. On another occasion the homily segued directly to the issue of abortion and birth control and since that's day's gospel had nothing to do with either of those issues, I gathered my children and left. At the time of my somewhat public exit in the middle of the mass, they were mortified. I said to them, "Church doesn't tell the state what to do and the state doesn't tell the church what to do." Today as grown women with children of their own, they understand better my frustration and irritation.
America is a great democracy because a political platform is no place for the platform of specific church doctrine, which has been crafted by male mostly celibate clerics, albeit by the spiritual guidance of God, whom they serve in His name. In my humble opinion the pulpit is not the place to direct a person's vote for a civil government position. That is how a theocracy takes hold.
Furthermore, the word "abortion" has not been diluted, as the Rev. Lankeit states. It is and remains a volatile and emotionally charged issue that unfortunately has been cavalierly tossed about many political candidates to suit the tenets of their platforms at the time. Those platforms seem capricious compared to the angst of someone seeking spiritual forgiveness for something they believe has made them fall from the grace of God.
I found this priest's argument/homily articulate, very carefully worded, but there is still the threat of eternal damnation if one doesn't follow the very strong suggestion of the church and which way your vote should be cast. I think that is wrong.
In high school I attended Little Flower Catholic High School for girls, from the late '60's to 1972. It was a time of the so-called sexual revolution when views about sex outside of marriage and birth control changed radically. At least they did outside the confines of Sunday Mass and religion class for us Catholic girls. We found ourselves being taught by women of a variety of age groups, some who wrestled with their own personal opinions and what the diocese directed them to teach about sex and birth control. Abortion was never discussed, not even as a sin. I also don't recall any threat of my soul being eternally damned if I succumbed to the temptation of sex outside of marriage or use birth control. WHEW! At least that is how I remember it.
Vividly, I remember one of my teachers, a nun who taught biology, actually ending a string of classes that held energizing conversations about self-respect, pre-marital sex and avoiding STD's and health advantages of using birth control with this statement, "As a Religious, I am not permitted to discuss this with you young women any further in an academic capacity." She was removed from teaching in that school the following semester.
I was raised and educated in the Roman Catholic faith. I enjoy the ceremony of mass, especially with engaging homilies that expand on the scripture and music that enhances the liturgy of the Mass. I am also a woman of independent thinking that gained some of that independent thinking through my education. The rest of that independent thinking is ingrained in my DNA. Thanks, Mom and Dad.
There are many issues that drive a highly charged political campaign. Focusing on issues that are already the law of the land is no promise of getting anything more necessary accomplished. Threatening my soul to eternal damnation should I cast my vote against Church doctrine gives me no pause.
I am confident I will be in the company of like-minded independent thinkers.