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“Be Honest Truthful and Warmhearted. Make compassion the basis of your determination”

This is the message that greeted me this morning, after Bob slammed into my still open carry-on at 4 am. It’s a little reminder from the Dalai Lama to keep it real, be mindful, and all that other old/new age stuff. It reminds me of Viola Davis’ performance in The Help. You know the one, where she is holding her young charge full of blonde curls by the shoulders and imprinting these words on her:

“You is Kind; You is Smart; You is Important.” 

Well, Viola introduced Meryl Streep at the Golden Globes the other night, and I thought, ‘poor thing.’ She could barely speak, she had lost her voice and I strained to hear her accept the Cecil B. DeMille Award for her life’s work. You see, Meryl is my age, she grew up in NJ and went to public schools. I’ve always loved and admired her work as an actor. I always thought, There. But. For. Fortune…

They gave me three seconds to say this, so. An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that — breathtaking, compassionate work. There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth.

In her elegant way, she eviscerated Mr T, and she didn’t even have to speak his name.

Bob and I had just seen LaLa Land, and being old musical comedy nerds we adored the movie. Two young people chase their dreams, in a sumptuously saturated set. An actor, playing an actor in Hollywood. A musician finally plays the jazz he loves; and I thought about my son, packing up his life and moving to LaLa Land. The kind of bold determination and passion it takes to pursue art as your career.

The movie dominated the Golden Globes – a pure escape from the reality of this past year. And while this was the backdrop, Meryl called us back to the Here and Now. She called out our POTUS-Elect as a reality-star-in-chief. The kind of juvenile, pompous person who would make fun of a disabled reporter. His electoral victory giving rise to the mean, underbelly of racism and hate still present in our country.

A couple feels free to write “We don’t tip Blacks,” on a waitress’ check in VA.

A number of bomb threats are phoned into Jewish centers in NJ, SC, FL and Nashville

This hits too close to home. This is unacceptable. This is why we march. 

I will not listen to pundits decipher Mr T’s Tweets about Meryl’s acting abilities. I will not read about his appointment of his son-in-law to a West Wing post.

This is why we march.

We believe in loving kindness. We believe in fact-based science. We believe that every person has a story, and we are all equally important.

And just as Republicans in VA feel free to constrain our right to assemble, by introducing legislation upping the charges of not obeying orders by the police – you know that non-violent assembly thing that MLK Jr was so fond of – from a Class 3 to a Class 1 misdemeanor…  http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?171+sum+SB1055

This is why we march.

Because all the world is a stage, and it’s time for all of us to pry the hooks out of our hearts, and pull on our big girl boots. If I am arrested, it will be an honor and a privilege.

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Last night I had a nightmare. Of course it involved a car, my usual scenario. It was one of those “Please let this be a dream” nightmares as I was waking up. It had all the usual elements: I was lost; the man driving the car was a maniac; and technology was winning. Yes, my iPhone was in my dream. When I tried to open Google Maps to find my way home, it was stuck – I couldn’t move the screen – it was stuck on me, on the pedestrian me, and someone was watching my every move…maybe I shouldn’t see that new movie Snowden?

Last night a pedestrian was killed by two cars in Keswick. Someone just walking along a road, was hit by a Volvo of all things and then hit again by a pick-up. And a few weeks ago, a woman from California was dropping off her Freshman son at UVA, when she was killed in a relatively new shopping center here in Cville. She and her husband and daughter were just crossing a street, she had probably made her son’s dorm room bed. Maybe his sister had organized his CDs? Do kids still have records or is everything on their phones?

In VA, everyone stops for pedestrians, at least that was my understanding.

The day before, Bob and I had just been to Trader Joe’s in that place and remarked at how the design – the streets, the parking, the signs – was God-awful. http://www.nbc12.com/story/32808255/family-dropping-off-son-at-uva-struck-by-car-mother-killed

We go to Trader Joe’s for two things, Bob’s maple syrup and my unsweetened green iced tea. And we might go to the new cinema in that shopping center, the one I call Stonehenge but is really “The Shops at Stonefield.” In fact we plan on seeing that new Amy Adam’s movie about aliens there, because I need to be frightened just a bit more before Halloween. Here is the trailer that the Rocker produced:

Amy Adams Deals Directly with Aliens in ‘Arrival’ Trailer

I feel like I am living in a nightmare, a war zone lately. Seaside, and Chelsea and a knife-wielding monster in a MN mall. But then I am reminded by our President, who is in New York at the UN, that we must open our hearts to Syrian refugees. Only to read a convoy of trucks full of humanitarian aid was barrel bombed on its way into Aleppo today. I am reminded that in fact, I am not living in a war zone, but these poor people are. The cease fire, such as it was, is over. Russia is playing coy, not claiming responsibility, I imagine waiting to see who will win the US Presidency.

And so we talk about Skittles, and baskets of deplorables.

Maybe the best news of all was hearing that five years from now we will all be driving around in driverless cars. This IS good news, right?  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/17/business/ford-promises-fleets-of-driverless-cars-within-five-years.html?_r=0   17ford-master675

 

 

 

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“There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.”                

Willa Cather

I wonder about the Star Wars hype this weekend, will Star Wars: The Force Awakens live up to its name? To be honest, I was enamored of the first trilogy. In fact, we took the Bride to “see” her very first movie when she was six months old, 1980s The Empire Strikes Back. She was enthralled with the lights for the first half hour, then fell promptly asleep in my arms.

We know that this is really an old fashioned morality play, a fight between good and evil. George Lucas and writer/philosopher Joseph Campbell were friends, and we know that Campbell’s book, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” helped Lucas flesh out his sci-fi plot. But the story is as ancient as Aristotle. A young hero arises, is given a test, finds a mentor, must go into a cave to fight the dragon, returning victorious. Of course in each telling, the journey becomes infused with different details, but the story remains the same.

Carl Jung also detailed creation myths and archetypes of universal characters from around the world long before the internet helped to flatten it. The Swiss psychologist wrote about “… constantly repeating characters who occur in the dreams of all people and the myths of all cultures (and) suggested that these archetypes are a reflection of aspects of the human mind – that our personalities divide themselves into these characters to play out the drama of our lives.”

Jung spoke to our “collective unconscious.” A place where every culture invents its own religion and set of rules in order to make sense of the vast universe, to answer some old existential question like how did we get in this mess?:

” A young hero, the wise old man or woman, the shape-shifting woman or man, and the shadowy antagonist.”     http://www.thewritersjourney.com/hero’s_journey.htm

Listening to the GOP debate this week, it all sounds too familiar. ISIS is the Evil Empire, and for some reason it will take one of these conservative hawks to defeat it. But they are not the heroes in my playbook. Because they can’t see what’s happening right here at home. The bloodshed our own home-grown terrorists have caused, our own mentally ill with guns – killing themselves, accidentally killing their children, murdering unarmed people on the street. Killing a nine year old boy for the “sins” of his father.

When the whole LA County school system has to shut down because of a threat, we may be too late to the battle. One thing Campbell’s hero would have done, he would have recognized these GOP tricksters for what they are. He OR She would have found a way to change our collective perception of Evil.

I heard a refugee from Syria on NPR say the jihadists are all young men buying candy bars and Cokes with American dollars. We need to fix our American dream, in order to sell it to them. We need to reawaken the hero in us all.

Here is my hero in the aviary. He just got a new iPhone, after years of refusing to come over to the Light Side of Apple. May the Force be With You!  IMG_3616

 

 

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Instead of a curse, let’s end our Yiddish journey today with a little blessing. Let’s honor the opening of Star Wars this week with an homage to another favorite sci-fi franchise of mine – the logical, side-kick, Star Trek character, Spock. Did you know his famous greeting, the Vulcan salute with the ring and middle finger separated, actually came from an ancient Orthodox Jewish blessing?  “Live long and prosper.”

This is the shape of the letter shin,” Nimoy said in the 2013 interview, making the famous “V” gesture. The Hebrew letter shin, he noted, is the first letter in several Hebrew words, including Shaddai (a name for God), Shalom (the word for hello, goodbye and peace) and Shekhinah, which he defined as “the feminine aspect of God who supposedly was created to live among humans.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2015/02/27/the-jewish-roots-of-leonard-nimoy-and-live-long-and-prosper/

Leonard Nimoy worked tirelessly to keep the Yiddish language alive. He said it was the only way he could communicate with his grandparents. He recorded many stories in Yiddish for the Oral History Project of The Yiddish Book Center. This is a valuable resource for anyone who would like to learn more about the language. And pssst, Ada, they even have a podcast! http://www.yiddishbookcenter.org

A leben ahf dein kop

A long life upon your head

This is usually said while praising someone like; “Well said! Well done!” Plus, who doesn’t want to live to be one hundred and beyond? Today, thanks to modern medicine, many of us will! But better it should be a long, healthy journey, which is often determined by the luck of our gene pool.

And imagine my surprise to find out the famous Hannukah game of chance, the dreidel, was actually derived from an Irish game! “…the dreidel was brought from Ireland to Germany during the late Roman period. Men would gamble with a top known as a “teetotum” in bars and inns. Originally the letters on the teetotum corresponded to the first letters of the Latin words for “nothing,” “half,” “everything” and “put in.” Read more: http://forward.com/culture/326379/the-true-history-of-the-dreidel/#ixzz3uIViitvK

I’m so happy the Bride sings the Yiddish lullaby that Great Aunt Mary taught me about raisins and almonds. Now when I start to sing “Rozhinkes min Mandln” to the Love Bug, her eyes start to flutter.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLrvZiU7slc

Happy Hannukah from our house to yours!  IMG_3538

 

 

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“We’re gonna have a good time!” Even though it’s not a “special” birthday, marking a decade or anything, it’s nice to know I’ve made it through another year on the mountain. As Bob would always say, “It’s better than the alternative,” meaning I could have had a funeral. Nothing like an ER doctor to put things into perspective.

According to Native American culture, I was born during the Duck Fly Moon. And last night, unfortunately, we missed seeing the total eclipse of the moon in VA due to a stack of clouds. Amazing pictures have been scrolling across my Facebook feed, along with birthday greetings from friends near and far. Sometimes I just shake my head at political commentary, or shrug about people sharing TMI, but sometimes you just gotta love social media!

Today we plan on going to the movies to see Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway in “The Intern.” People are raving about it, even my brother, Dr Jim, told us it’s a good take on aging. He said when some HR person asks DeNiro, the new intern, where he sees himself in ten years, and the answer is, “You mean when I’m 80?” his expression is priceless.

We could use a good laugh. And to be honest, I don’t see myself on this mountain for another ten years. I reluctantly moved South to be closer to the Bride, but she’s working on her career in Nashville while the Groom’s interviewing all over the country. Who knows where they will settle; and the Rocker and Ms Cait? I’m pretty sure they will be West Coasters for the foreseeable future. It’s time Bob really thought about retirement, and it’s time we thought about our Golden Years.

When we are no longer driving, I’d like to live in a walkable neighborhood. We know only too well how circumstances can change. And as much as I’ve enjoyed the serenity and the views from my aviary, I know we have another move left in us. But for today, I’ll eat some cake and think about all that tomorrow.

Sunset on the Porch

Sunset on the Porch

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Football on the Brain

Bet you thought I was going to write about the Pope? Nope. Don’t get me wrong or anything, but once a lapsed Catholic, always a bit of a doubter. Humility was driven into us in Catholic school, and you know who you are my fellow Sacred Heart peeps. It’s nice to see a Pope who practices the Catechism we were taught in the 1950s.

Anyway, today is the highest and holiest day of the Jewish Year, Yom Kippur. It’s a day to ask our family and friends for forgiveness, and to cover all bases, we ask God to forgive even those things we may have forgotten to ask him/her about! It’s also a fast day – meaning Jews everywhere are starving! It’s the one day in the year a Jewish mother won’t ask you, “Did you eat?” This must be where Lent came from, and even Ramadan – give up something good to eat and all your sins will be forgiven.

I’ve been cooking up a storm since returning home. Bob lost a few pounds while recovering from his Cervical Spine surgery in NY, so I feel it’s my God-given right to make dessert these days. Dressed in a Darth Vader neck brace/collar, Bob has spent a few hours watching football lately, both college and professional, and of course I’ve come along for the ride – cause I’m a ride or die girl!

And even though watching football makes me feel like I’m back at the Roman Coliseum watching, “Gladiators (who) were generally slaves, condemned criminals or prisoners of war,” I could appreciate the choreography of a good first down. Nurses would walk into Bob’s room and offer up some banter about the team on the screen – football was that equal opportunity conversation starter. “Did you see Brady walk on?” Or “I’m from Pittsburgh you know,” one nurse told me after I said I was a New England Patriots fan. Whoops.

Still every time I’d hear that distinct sound of helmet meeting helmet, I’d cringe. We’ve known what repeated tackles can do to the brain for years now, research and science has finally won out over owners and NFL managers. One guy got booted off the field for head-butting an opponent. Repetitive Head Trauma, so many concussions over the years, and still we watch these giant men crash into each other. Is it really good sport, or are we kidding ourselves?

When the Rocker and Ms Cait flew out on the red eye from LA to visit Bob during his hospitalization, we learned that our son had worked on the sound design for Will Smith’s new movie trailer, Concussion. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-et-mn-concussion-movie-nfl-20150903-story.html

NFL games are the only programs that regularly deliver the kind of big ratings that were once taken for granted by broadcast television. Nearly all of those viewers watch the games and their commercials live in an age when delayed playback of shows is common. As a result, the NFL was able to demand $5 billion a year in rights fees from its television partners in the pact that runs through 2021.

God forgive us for watching so much football. And please point our new baby grandson toward soccer!    IMG_3227

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Granted I’ve been alive a long time now, and for some reason, I never knew what the term spaghetti western means. Is it a bunch of movies made in Sicily? Does it refer to cowboys who will only eat pasta? Is it a genre or just a passing fad?

Turns out spaghetti westerns are a sub-genre of movies about the wild wild west, mostly filmed in Spain with Italian directors in the 1960s and 70s. Here are its most common characteristics according to Urban Dictionary:

1. Level of Violence (Usually more than American made westerns).
2. The Music (Often scored by Ennio Morriconne and Bruno Nicolai).
3. Sound Effects (Particulary the gun and horse sounds are different from the ones used in American made westerns).
4. Religious imagery, symbols and names.
5. Filmed in Almeria Spain.
6. Italian and Spanish names in the credits (It is highly likely the director will be named Sergio).
7. Out of sync dubbing (Even the Italian versions are dubbed).
8. Stereotypes (Mexicans as theives, women as whores).
9. A shitload of alternate titles.
10. Banned in several countries.
11. Often they star Franco Nero, Lee Van Cleef, Tomas Milian, Klaus Kinski, Luigi Pistili, Mario Brega and other spaghetti regulars.

It should be noted here, that as a girl I remember distinctly running out of Dover, NJ’s Baker Theatre to throw up on the street during the chariot race in Ben Hur. And it was the gruesome depiction of dying horses that did it for me, and we all know this was long before they started running “No animals were hurt during the filming of this movie” credits. Between that, and my big brother, Dr Jim, scaring the life out of me by taking me to horror movies at the fancy Community Theatre, where we had to wear our little white gloves, it’s a wonder I ever went to another movie again.

On the bright side, Dr Jim and I spent some great Saturday afternoons at the Baker watching 007 double features! This helped me develop a certain taste in films, long before censors or a rating system developed for parents. I hated violence, which meant I missed lots of the great Vietnam films, but thought sex was totally normal and fine. Bob and I have been called “outlier” parents before, and this may be one of the reasons. The Rocker’s friends knew I’d sneak them into “R” rated films anytime.

Come to think of it, going to the movies was one of the many “action and adventure” dates I’d plan with my son. I dressed him up like a little Ninja Turtle for the premier of that movie, much to his bigger sister’s chagrin. When he was thirteen, I picked him up from his one camp experience in PA, and we stopped to see the first Men in Black movie on our way home! Long before that, I’d catch him working with his best bud Alex for hours in our garage on a stop-action film with their tiny Star Wars action figures. Alex later became the drummer in his first band.

Cut to today. Since moving out to the Left Coast, my son has been determined to score music for the film industry, while flying back and forth to NJ to fulfill his commitment to his band of brothers. And this week, he and his collaborators at Ignition Creative in LA have released the trailer for Tarantino’s eighth movie, “Hateful Eight,” in the style of a spaghetti western. I’m guessing the horses were treated well. http://variety.com/2015/film/news/hateful-eight-trailer-quentin-tarantino-1201568499/

Sometimes the universe just aligns.

Twelve years old and his big sister goes to college

Twelve years old and his big sister goes to college

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