In Defense of Garbage TV

I have a confession…red-rose-1347966141q6t

No, I can’t. It’s too horrible.

OK. Let me just get this out.

Recently… I started watching The Bachelor.

Whew. I got that off my chest. I feel a little better.

Now, this show is garbage. Purest garbage.

So why am I watching it?

Well… because a podcaster I like does a fancast for The Bachelor (called Rose Buddies) so I thought I’d give it a try. In other words, I’m watching the show as an excuse to listen to a podcast.

Still. It’s garbage. It’s fake, and awkward and really inappropriate in a lot of ways.

And I’m starting to find it therapeutic. It’s fun to flip off the TV every time the designated ‘villian’ is on the screen. It’s fun to protest when the bachelor gives her a rose week after week. It’s fun to bitch about why they don’t show more positive interactions between the contestants, or speculate about how much of what goes on is actually real and how much of it is producer manipulation. To speculate on who’s in the running to win and who’s just there to stir up ratings *cough corn cough*

I can’t actually scream “I hate you!” to idiots on facebook, but I can scream it at my TV. I can’t say, “OMG, you’re SOOOOOO STUPID,” to people in real life, but I can yell it at the bachelor.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s trash. It’s garbage. It’s sensationalist and ridiculous and more than a little sexist.

But one night a week I can forget about real life and real problems and that’s not a bad thing.

…I may have more to say on this topic later. 🙂

You say I am.

Why are you so afraid of me?

Do you not believe in your own convictions, values, ideals, statements?

“________ people are wrong, stupid, evil, whiners,biased, dishonest,dirty, treacherous. We know what is right.”

Why does it matter to you  if I disagree?

Why does it matter to you if I read or question?

How does it harm you if I hold a sign or march in a group?

You have power and money and influence.

I have none of those things.

You say you are helping me, you are protecting me, making my life better, that if I disagree with you I should move away, I am ungrateful.

I have no money, no power, no influence….I am no threat to your strength, your control, your dominance.

And yet, you fear me.

Why?

Because I will not be cruel.  I will not condemn others.  I will reach out to those needing help and I will show decency and I will work hard to be kind and I will not be a slave to money or greed and I will learn about others and I will work for peace among all nations, for all people.

And he said, “Why?  What evil has he done?” 

But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

Matthew 27:23

Busted at the library –AGAIN!

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“There is a problem with your account.” 

“Please see a librarian for assistance.” 

NOOOOO!

It happened again!  My overdue fees had exceeded the $25.00 mark(don’t judge- just don’t!) yet again and now I was going to have to make that walk of shame up to the check- out desk and well, it could not be a worse time….my mother was with me!

NOOOOO!

My mother, who checks out just as many books as I do, but somehow manages to keep them all in one place and never pay fines.

“Of course I pay fines,” she corrected me. “Last week I had a fine of eighty cents and thank goodness I had cash on me to get that taken care of.”

I just don’t know how the library puts up with me.  They even let me volunteer there.

My husband insists the library not only puts up with me, but loves me.  He says he has done the math and roughly a quarter of our yearly income goes to overdue fees.

Ha,Ha.

As I tuned out my mother’s lecture while driving home, I got to thinking about my lifelong adventures with books and bookstores and libraries and reading…and it was a nice something to think  about.

When I look at my family of readers and how we use the library, we couldn’t be more different.

My oldest son, once he learned how to read, quickly adopted the “been there -done that” attitude toward the library.  He does not read for pleasure.  I can’t complain too much about this because he is doing very well in college and has gotten us lots of nice scholarships.  But he is not a library user.  He views walking into those hallowed halls with all the excitement of standing in line at the DMV.

My youngest son is an ambitious reader, to say the least.

Joe– I think I will check out this large book of ancient cartography essays in the original Greek.

Me– Can you read Greek?

Joe– I’m sure there are footnotes….

My husband is a focused, determined plodder.

He finds a book he wants online, checks to make sure it is available, sets a date and time to go pick up the book, picks up the one book only and proceeds to the electronic check out system, reads the whole book(no matter if he finds it dull or boring–he has made a commitment!), renews his check in date if needed and returns said book to the exact same library.  And he also refuses to let me use his card to check out anything!!  EVER!!! 

My mother, of the no fines, checks out lots of books at a single time.  She loves fiction and devours mysteries and historical fiction.  She can work that library card of hers on the computer like nobodies business.

Renew this one, put a hold on that one…she has the surgical precision of an air traffic controller.

And then there is me. 

The last time I was at the library and paying my $25.00 fine, my stack of books included a book about reading books, one about how classical education has changed over the years, a book giving the main points of six major world religions, a book about the discovery of cave paintings and one about a woman who rehabbed injured song birds.

Remember what I said about judging!

And they are all wonderful!

Now you may be asking how I can’t keep track of them…well, it’s like this….

I might take one in the car to read while I wait to pick up Joe or I might have one in the kitchen to read while I make dinner.  Lot’s of times I take them out on the porch or into my  bedroom or shove them in a tote bag for time at the coffee shop.

Well, they end up all over the place.

But I do get them back to the library eventually!

And if any of my money goes to the support the wonderful institution which allows me to explore my world and the wonderful, wonderful librarians  who never once have gotten upset with me—then it’s money well spent!

 

We All Have a Dream

unnamed“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed – we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
It’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the US, and as usual, I’m seeing plenty of MLK quotes pop up in people’s social media feeds. There is nothing wrong with quoting the man; he was a genius speaker and writer, and his words are filled with a weightiness that moves us all to do more.
I just wish we read more of his words than just a few “I have a dream” quotes. I wish we had to read him in history and English classes today, as part of American literature canon. I wish we remembered as a nation that Martin Luther King, Jr. was both incredibly dedicated to a higher morality, and also incredibly radical in challenging a status quo that has lent itself to injustice for generations in our country, much of which still exists despite the great strides we have made as a nation to do better.
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Today as you see those quotes and watch some news coverage and maybe attend a parade, I hope you’ll use this opportunity to read more of MLK’s words, many of which are revolutionary and all of which demand a higher responsibility and morality from each of us. Let him challenge you to pursue truth, justice, wisdom and stand for what is right and humanizing to all around you.
 
It may be that we’ll never change the world. Injustice seems to be a problem that plagues the human race, and our generation is no stranger to it. But we can change ourselves and we can change things for the better for everyone we encounter.
But only if we choose that path every day.
 
That’s what I love about Martin Luther King, Jr. He reminds me to choose a demanding path toward ethical living and justice every day, tempered with mercy and humility, even when it’s hard or unpopular. It’s something I need to be reminded of, since it is so easy to become complacent with the daily grind of work, errands, groceries, and bills that I forget about others around me who may be suffering.
MLK was really good at reminding us to look at things not from our comfortable position but from the uncomfortable point of view of those who are rejected, downtrodden, held in contempt, powerless… It’s an incredibly humbling thing to let go of your own opinions to truly live in someone else’s shoes for a while.
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And it’s not only humbling; it creates empathy. It’s only when you’re willing to see life from the point of view of others who are different from you that you can empathize with them and maybe help make their lives better. It takes courage to do that, because you never know what you’ll find out about yourself when you empathize… Perhaps you’ll discover you’re more selfish than you like to admit. Perhaps you’ll discover you’re lazy or uncaring in some ways.
Perhaps you’ll discover how very lucky you are that you were born in your particular skin in your particular country in your particular century, and that without that luck, you’d have a very different life.
It’s a reality check we all need once in a while, especially if we want to make the world a little bit better just by our being in it. I think that’s worth something. And Martin Luther King, Jr. certainly believed that too. It’s what he lived and died for. Let’s honor that memory by doing the same.

A Shameless Plug for Pinterest

I’m not much of a social media fan.

I do have an account on Facebook, but I don’t post much and I rarely read others.

Twitter and Snapchat, I just don’t get those two at all and  you can throw Instagram in that group also.

But, oh, how I love, love, love Pinterest!!

My parents loved to go to old bookstores and they would let me get  stacks and stacks of old magazines.  Once I got a huge, whole cardboard box for one dollar! When I got home  I would make these books using magazines, construction paper and glue…the old kind of glue that was really messy.  I spent hours sitting on the floor of my room, cutting out pictures and glueing them to paper while using newspaper to sop up the glue. Then I would put on one of my favorite albums, yes, those were the days of vinyl and just let the stories wash over me.

Oh, what wonderful times!

I thought the heady feelings of discovery and imagination were gone….until…..

PINTEREST!

Take the photos above….

  1. A girl -love the hair and the candle!  Where is she planning on going that she has to use that taper? Hmmmmm
  2. A boy– is he a hero or a villain?  My choice!
  3. “Don’t go into the woods”– of course, we are going! We probably wouldn’t have if you hadn’t posted the silly sign, but now it’s a given.
  4. A creepy door knocker“Hello?  Is anyone there?”  Cue creepy laughter or a shadow out of the corner of your eye.
  5. A stream slowly meandering in the woods– where does it originate, where does it end?  Is it a dividing line?
  6. Witch humor-I never thought of witch’s being funny, but what if they were?

Six images – boom!  Story! 

If you haven’t used this tool for your own writing or creating, whatever it may be, you should really try it out.

The best part about Pinterest is knowing how many people out there are just like me.

Bookmakers, storytellers, imaginers.

Lord, how I love the imaginers. 

Women’s Health Care Is NOT Negotiable

Warning: This is a rant. It contains spoilers of Downton Abbey and the Star Wars prequels, NSFW language, and mentions vaginas, sperm, birth control and women’s reproductive health.

So, I’m finally getting caught up with Downton Abbey. (Don’t judge, we all have our weaknesses.) I’m in season 3 right now, which is apparently the year the writers took on the challenge of shoving in every possible soap opera plot known to humankind in 9 episodes. And they do, believe me. But I’m not here to talk about all those plots, just one…

I’m talking about reproduction. And how women take the blame and bear the repercussions of it in so many ways that men can still avoid, even when we live in what we like to think of as a modern, enlightened millennium.

ethelOne plot from season 3 of Downton Abbey revolves around a young maid who sleeps with an unmarried young major who is convalescing from injuries he got in WWI. And as you’d expect, because she’s not using protection and neither is he, she gets knocked up. And as you’d expect, she has the baby. And as you’d expect if you’re a woman living in this world and know the score, the major won’t take responsibility for the baby he helped create. So the mother of the baby is kicked out of her job as a maid and forced to live in poverty. You’d think this would seem archaic, outdated…because we are so much more enlightened now (*sarcasm*). However…

I rarely get into this on the blog, but I work for a faith-based nonprofit at the moment. For the most part, I’m okay with that. It has its quirks like any other job. However… I just received a letter that my employer officially received an exemption under the health care laws so they don’t have to pay for birth control pills for their employees.

Never mind the fact that it is highly unlikely any of us will be running out to swallow down Plan B pills anytime soon, because that’s not what you do when you join a faith-based organization. Never mind that we won’t be running to the abortion clinic anytime soon. Never mind the fact that birth control pills give many women the ability to control serious menstrual problems and improve their lives, enabling them to actually make it into their damn job instead of being stuck at home, bleeding out.Never mind all that.

I’m going straight to the heart of the matter. Birth control pills should be available for free to all women of child-bearing age, whether married or single, young or old. Why? Because the fact is, no matter how archaic and old-fashioned that plot point in Downton Abbey should seem, it’s not archaic at all. This is how we still live. Two people have sex. Only one pays for it unless you force the other to pay for it (literally, through paternity tests) in a court of law.

And it is bullshit that we still live like this.

In Downton Abbey, the grandparents of the child step in to offer a dubious deal. “We’ll take the baby,” they say, “but you, poor tramp of a mother that you are, have to give up all claims to the baby and can never see him again. Because you’re a slut. Shame on you.”

Yes, right. Shame on her. Everyone blames her. And yes, she was pretty damn dumb to think that entitled ass of a major would be responsible. But how about shame on him? Wasn’t it his penis and sperm that caused the problem? No sperm, no pregnancy. And if only one half of the species carries the sperm, maybe that’s the half that should be responsible for what the sperm results in. Or at least half the responsibility.

But if you want the female half of this species to bear all the responsibility, then you better damn well let us do it. That’s why we need birth control pills. Either you expect men to be self-controlled and non-sexual the way you expect women to be, or you let us both be lascivious and we both accept responsibility for the results. Fair is fair.

amidala

(c) Lucasfilm/Disney

How does this relate to the Star Wars prequels? Oh, I’m just going to share with you a link to a Motherboard article that describes in detail how the lack of adequate women’s health care basically led to Amidala’s death. Think about this… In a science fiction future where robots are self-aware and ships can jump to hyperspace, no one can figure out how to give a woman a test to see if she’s carrying twins, for crying out loud. How the hell is that possible, unless she never went to see a damn doctor the entire time she was pregnant! What the hell, Star Wars?

In a universe where men are clearly in charge and women are often helpless even when as a queen they should be powerful, I suppose it’s not surprising that a bunch of medical droids programmed (no doubt) by men can’t figure out what’s wrong with Amidala. “She’s medically fine,” they say. “We don’t know why she’s dying.” She’s dying of childbirth? Seriously?

(Oh, I know there are other interpretations of what happens to her. Maybe the emperor is draining her life force to bring Darth Vader back from the dead. The Motherboard article disagrees, by the way, and gives an interesting alternate view of what happened.)

Here’s the thing… It just makes me so damn mad to know that after centuries and centuries of what we’d like to call progress, women and childbirth still carries this freakish, shameful scarlet letter of a curse that is absolutely ridiculous in this day and age. We shouldn’t even have to have this conversation today. This post shouldn’t even be necessary. But it is. Which makes me incredibly angry and sad.

It makes me think that even if it wasn’t Hilary who ran this year… Even if some woman who was universally loved and respected, that paragon of womanhood still wouldn’t have been elected as president. Because she’s a woman. And we can’t even trust women to take birth control today, much less run a country. Yay America.

Oh and one final word… Women like sex as much as men do. We shouldn’t get punished for it. Deal with it.

An open letter to Disney: Please DO recast General Leia Organa for Star Wars Episode IX #SaveGeneralOrgana

Losing Carrie Fisher was a tragedy. Please do not compound that tragedy with your handling of her character.

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I see three basic options:

  1. You can kill, incapacitate, or otherwise remove Leia from the story,  off screen.
  2. You can severely cut back Leia’s part and CGI her, as you did with Peter Cushing.
  3. Or you can recast Leia.

Here’s why I do not recommend the first two options:

Carrie Fisher cannot be replaced. We all know and understand this.

But, while Carrie Fisher is gone, Leia Organa is still alive*.

The thing you need to understand is how important Leia is to women who were girls when the first Star Wars movies were released. We’d never seen anything like her: confident, out-spoken,  competent, strong, smart.

For a girl growing up at that time Princess Leia was a symbol showing us that we did not have to be soft and compliant and submissive. We could be like Leia Organa. Be strong and own that. Be smart and own that. Be out-spoken and competent without feeling like there was something wrong with you.

I want the girls who will be women in a few years to have that same character, that same strong, confident, competent character to look up to. Absolutely, they have Rey, but Rey is young and pretty. Leia is mature and still not afraid to be in charge. It’s an important thing to see, an older woman whose appearance is a secondary concern.

Which brings me to the third option of recasting. There are plenty of actresses of an appropriate age to take on that part. No, they won’t be replacing Carrie — no one could — but they will be allowing Leia Organa to continue to live. They will allow you to continue to tell us Leia’s story.

Off the top of my head Meryl Streep and Geena Davis both could take on that part. Leia will forever be Carrie Fisher, but they could pay tribute to Carrie. Young women, whether they’re young now or young in their hearts, need General Leia Organa on the screen.

Please consider allowing Leia to live fully in episode IX of the Star Wars franchise.

ETA: Sigourney Weaver, Kate Mulgrew, Ellen Barkin, Kathleen Turner, Dana Delaney, Linda Hamilton (!!!!)… the list goes on.

*I know it’s possible Leia dies in episode VIII. I certainly hope not.