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.