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Yesterday was surreal. We heard helicopters flying around our house as if we lived in LA. A small news station in Roanoke, WDBJ, just an hour away from Cville had been broadcasting a fluff early morning piece at Smith Mountain Lake, when a lone gunman murdered the beautiful, young reporter and her photo journalist, live. It was an unthinkable act. They don’t kill journalists in America, do they? And while I was following the car chase via Twitter and a local news anchor, the killer posted his own video of the crime to social media. My oatmeal was getting cold, I’d lost my appetite.

This morning we are learning more about the victims, Alison Parker and Adam Ward. Two talented, rising stars in TV news who didn’t deserve to die yesterday while doing their job. And we’ve learned that the shooter (I refuse to use his name) was a disgruntled, ex-employee of the station. He’d been fired for basically not playing well with others at many different news outlets. He’d been encouraged to seek medical help. Let the chorus begin…mental health vs gun control. Only like most things in life, it’s not that simple; and it’s not really a political issue.

The ease of obtaining a gun, and the sheer abundance of guns in this country is a public health issue. Period.

The state of Virginia rates a “D” in the gun law scorecard of the Law center to Prevent Gun Violence. You can go to their website to rate your own state http://smartgunlaws.org/search-gun-law-by-state/  Here is what Virginia does not have on the books, some of our very own loopholes for people intent on gun ownership: We DO NOT

  • Require a background check prior to the transfer of a firearm between unlicensed individuals;
    Require firearms dealers to obtain a state license;
    Regulate the transfer or possession of 50 caliber rifles or large capacity ammunition magazines;
    Require firearm owners to report lost or stolen firearms;
    Impose a waiting period prior to purchase of a firearm; or
    Regulate unsafe handguns (“junk guns” or “Saturday night specials”).

Why are we blind to this? How can we walk away from VA Tech and Sandy Hook without confronting our national sin. Or the countless times guns are used in a suicide – or in a domestic dispute – or in an “accident” involving a child – are seemingly overlooked by the media frenzy for a mass shooting incident at a mall or a movie theatre. It’s easy to say, oh he was crazy, he was over the edge; because it’s always a “he” and it always involves a gun.

I knew a teenager at the height of the Iraq war, who was circling her bedroom with a crown moulding of names – the names of the soldiers who were dying there and in Afghanistan. I was breathless when I first saw this memorial border, and I thought how so much is ignored or buried or covered up in the news. At the time, only PBS was broadcasting the names of the dead. Remember we were not allowed to see the flag covered caskets returning to our shore, as if we are children who need to be shielded from the sight of dead soldiers. Maybe we need to start a long border of names, or a quilt of the US citizens who have been killed by guns in the past year. The children, the wives and mothers, the fathers and yes, the young people just going to work in Virginia at daybreak.

Every day on average 290 people are shot in this country. We have three times as many gun homicides as European nations. Three Times

Our review of the academic literature found that a broad array of evidence indicates that gun availability is a risk factor for homicide, both in the United States and across high-income countries,” according to the Harvard School of Public Health. “Case-control studies, ecological time-series and cross-sectional studies indicate that in homes, cities, states and regions in the US, where there are more guns, both men and women are at higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/06/18/you-have-to-see-how-many-more-people-are-killed-by-guns-in-america-to-really-believe-it/

God help us all if we have come to a point where we can continue to eat breakfast and accept this kind of news as normal. cover_chamberguide_2014_final-page-001

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The first time I heard this phrase, “The mobility of content,” was yesterday while driving along the most glorious mountain views of Albemarle County. It was a sunroof-open-mobil moment on the good ole fashioned radio. I was listening to NPR and an interview with the creator of Netflix, talk about how they came up with the idea of original content. Most people think “House of Cards” was their first original pilot series. But no, Little Stevie’s “Lilyhammer” was being produced in Norway; they were six months in, when The Boss’ bestie cringed at the idea of releasing all of the Scandinavian mob-driven drama at once. Think of it like a record album, Steven Van Zandt was told, and so we begin.

While celebrating Ada’s 91st birthday, I grabbed her iPad and told her, “You’re gonna love this.” Ada has been a Marriage and Family Counselor for almost as long as I’ve known her. In fact, when she returned to school in the 60’s, thereby creating a role model for all young feminists in the NY/NJ metropolitan area, I had just started dating her son. “It’s about two couples, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin play the wives,” I crooned in her ear. I had just finished semi-binge watching “Grace and Frankie” on Netflix, a comedy about divorce loosely, and I wanted her to enjoy it as much as I had. https://www.netflix.com/title/80017537

Now I hate to get prejudicial, but for the most part I’d bet not many octogenarians+ know from streaming content. Ada is unique, in many ways, but her tech skills are particularly excellent. She gets her news online and in paper form, she shares photos and corresponds via email, although she prefers actual phone calls! She can Facetime with her Great Grandchildren in Nashville, and now I’ve got her on Netflix! We only watched two episodes of “Grace and Frankie” while I was there,  but I’ve got a feeling this woman who wrote her dissertation on humor in conflict, will become addicted in no time.

My guilty pleasure is watching “Bloodline” late at night when Bob’s working the evening shift. I’ve plowed through all the original content Netflix has to offer, “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black” and yes, I even started out long ago with “Lilyhammer” when we first got our Apple TV. I can watch Netflix on a plane, on a train, or even in the rain. I don’t like to watch on my phone however, even though “Lawrence of Arabia” has been watched on cell phones worldwide more than any other content. Imagine that.

But “Bloodline” is skeeving me out. It’s Shakespearian in its ethos, a family tragedy enfolding in the beautiful Florida Keys. If you want to see what drug/alcohol addiction is really like, how it can corrode character from the inside out, just watch Ben Mendelsohn play the “bad” brother Danny. And our Albemarle neighbor, Sissy Spacek, is compelling as the Rayburn family matriarch.

“Bloodline” is cleverly constructed, but a lot of the mystery hinges on Danny. Mr. Mendelsohn (who made his name in the United States in the Australian crime drama “Animal Kingdom”) is suitably inscrutable — his character is a quicksilver manipulator who can seem benign one second and malevolent the next. His good looks are bleached out by bad behavior, and only his smile, wryly sweet but fleeting, restores his boyhood charm. At his best, Danny seems well-meaning and misunderstood; at his worst, he looks a little like a middle-aged Robert Durst.     http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/20/arts/television/review-bloodline-on-netflix-depicts-a-family-with-nasty-secrets.html

Since we can carry our entertainment with us, wherever we go, and now not just with Netflix, but Amazon, Hulu, Google and even HBO will be streaming content, http://www.digitaltrends.com/movies/best-media-streaming-sites-services/ I wonder how this will change story telling. Or is a good story a universal thing of beauty, passed down in its oral tradition from generation to generation, since we could paint an image on a cave.

Scene From a Birthday

Scene From a Birthday

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Bob’s been working a number of evening shifts lately, so I try to stay up past midnight to welcome him home. It’s also a self-serving move, since many times if I fall asleep, I have trouble getting back to sleep once he wakes me. Reading would definitely put me to sleep, so naturally, this is when Netflix comes in handy – I’m a serial, binge watcher. I’m all caught up on House of Cards, and believe me I didn’t see that end coming. Now I was ready for something new. And this new Tina Fey number delivered, ear worm and all. http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2015/03/unbreakable-kimmy-schmidt-theme-song

“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is like cotton candy in your mouth; it’s sweetly cloying and gone in a New York minute. The episodes are short and were originally developed to fill a half hour TV slot. The idea is some women are kidnapped by a crazy, end-of-days preacher and kept in a bunker for 15 years; but we start with their ascension into sunlight, prairie women garb and all; oh, and that song. Leave it to Fey to make this funny. Because Kimmy was in 8th grade when she was taken, her world is stuck in the 80s. With Manhattan as a backdrop, and filmed in vivid, sunlight-soaked primary colors, she finds work as a nanny (sort of) and a Black/Gay room mate. It’s as if Sleeping Beauty woke up to Hammer time.

Kimmy’s vision of the good life has exactly that vibe: she wants to enjoy what she’s missed out on. Roaming around New York, she binges on candy, like a crazed toddler. She buys sparkly sneakers. Peppy and curious to the point of naïveté, she acts as if she’d learned about life from sitcoms—she gets into a love triangle, she goes back to school, she’s eager for every party. But there’s also something tense and over-chipper about Kimmy’s zest, an artificial quality that even the cartoonish characters around her can sense is “off.” Yes, there was “weird sex stuff” in the bunker, she blurts out to her roommate. She has an unexplained Velcro phobia. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/03/30/candy-girl

I’m reminded once again about the nature/nurture question. Think about Elizabeth Smart, how she managed to overcome nine months of unbearable”…boredom, hunger and rape.” Also at the hands of a would-be “prophet.” What might break some, actually forges a stronger identity in others. Because at the heart of Kimmy’s pop/yet/dark dramedy, lurking on the margin, is sexual violence and religious fruit cakes.

Let it be known, in my small way, I’d like to continue to fly over Indiana. “Religious freedom” to my mind means don’t layer your religious beliefs into our public policy. Keep them hidden, in a bunker maybe.  GOAT-Cultural-Clicks-3-27-690

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There is a momblogger the Bride turned me onto awhile ago. Her name is Glennon Doyle Melton and her blog is Momastery and her message is a simple one – Enough is Enough. Life is “brutiful” (brutally beautiful) and we are all in it together, a warrior tribe of women online doing the best we can with what life has dealt us.

Momastery is an open window. It’s a place to take a deep breath. It’s a place to drop out and tune in. It’s a place to stop striving, stop competing, stop suspecting, stop hiding. To hear and tell truth. Mother Teresa said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that We Belong to Each Other.” If we find peace here- it’s because we remember.http://momastery.com

So imagine my surprise to see her being interviewed on the Today Show one morning while I was in Nashville. You may have noticed this year, if you still watch TV in the morning, that Today is trying to be less Yesterday by keeping or attracting younger viewers and being more interactive, opening up a Green Room on their set, and imploring the viewer to follow them on Twitter etc.

Now I’m officially a senior citizen, but I remember when the Rocker was in high school and I served on its board that we created a survey on technology. One of the questions we asked was where did our students get their news and they all said online and NOT on TV…that was about 15 years ago. So it’s good that Today is catching up with these Millennials.

Glennon talked about starting out with the typical mommy stuff on her blog until one day she shared a picture of her kitchen. That’s when the negativity started, she received tons of comments about her cluttered and out-of-date kitchen. Judgey, and sometimes mean, but often helpful ways to organize her simple kitchen with its picture covered refrigerator. Doesn’t everybody who ever entered anyone’s kitchen just stand and stare at the pictures hanging by magnets on refrigerators? It’s as if they can take in the soul of that house, that family, by looking at those pictures.

Well Glennon got a little pissed, although she didn’t say that. What she said was this was the exact problem with us! This striving for perfection in motherhood and it just had to stop! Look at her 1960s water faucet at her kitchen sink. Most people in the world cannot get clean, running water coming out of a faucet in their kitchen – it’s all in our own minds. Instead of thinking we have a crappy kitchen sink, we need to change our perspective and be thankful we have running water!

We have to put on new “Perspectacles.”

Anyway, did you ever feel like you were speaking a different language with another English speaker? I’m not talking dialect here, I’m talking Glennon’s Today Show piece which had been filmed earlier, so it was less of an interview and more about her philosophy. The hosts of the Today Show looked a little dumbfounded, gobsmacked in fact. There was a big pause, then they realized they were in fact live and had to say something. So Al Roker made a joke about putting on his “bispectacles” since you know he just turned 60…and then it was cut to commercial.

Glennon Doyle has written a NYT’s best selling book, “Carry On Warrior,” and she has many other social media platforms. She is starting to tour with her inspirational message, and will be in Nashville very soon.  She has done a TEDx talk

and has started a non-profit, “Monkee See – Monkee Do.” She is a phenomenal woman who speaks truth to our sometimes messy and always chaotic world.  10617054_284425955075742_12256534_a

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“That’s the way you do it.” OK enough Dire Straits,

I mentioned awhile back how I’ve been learning about iPhoto at this new place in town, and what I forgot to say is that I went ahead and splurged on Apple TV. Why? Well, our TV is old enough not to have the ability to connect with the internet for live streaming, and we’re old enough not to have any game cartridges lying around like Nintendo to accomplish the same thing. In other words, in order to get Netflix, we had to buy Apple.

Bob looked at me suspiciously and asked if I was ready to pledge not to abuse this privilege, this ability to watch new movies and old TV series along with new content in the blink of an eye. He was nervous. And I get it, because I would always stay in my office painstakingly watching Downton Abbey for free (with a few commercial interruptions) on my computer whenever I missed a Sunday night episode.

And I missed the last episode of the last season, the one with the car crash! Why buy the whole boxed set of old tech DVDs when I could just pull it up on my TV with ease? I remember watching the second series with the Bride while she was nursing her new baby in Nashville on Netflix. Three generations bonding over Edwardian intrigue. So I started the search on my new Apple TV…

“Does anyone know when @Suburgatory season 2 comes out on DVD? I can’t find any news about it and it’s not even avail on Amazon Instant. wtf”

This just appeared on my Twitter feed from a young, bright, feminist writer. Which makes me feel a little better about being duped. It seems that Downton Abbey is nowhere to be found on Netflix. And so I did what any red-blooded American girl would do, I googled “Why is Downton…” and immediately “..not on Netflix anymore” popped up! AHA!!

The producers of the the Abbey, the reason I bought the Apple, have signed an exclusive contract this past summer with Amazon Prime!

Amazon just signed a deal for exclusive streaming rights to the PBS hit series“Downton Abbey” for the third, fourth and fifth seasons of the show (if they’re produced). In a press release, Amazon announced that “later this year, no digital subscription service other than Prime Instant Video will offer any seasons of ‘Downton Abbey.'” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/01/downton-abbey-amazon_n_2600007.html

If you’re still with me, this means I must download Amazon Prime for $79 per year in order to watch my beloved Downton Abbey. OR, I could buy each episode I missed for about $3 on iTunes. Which makes me feel like Maggie Smith walking into a room with those new-fangled electric lights, shielding her eyes and scowling. The unmitigated nerve!

Amazon scares me a little, It’s like their mission is world domination right? Don’t tell Bob that while he worked the last few night shifts, I binge watched “Orange is the New Black.”

Take that Amazon, she said, holding a screwdriver. This is how Ms Bean feels when forced to get into a car, my sentiments exactly girl.  IMG_0387

Oh and thank you Virginia for voting for a reasonable and rational ticket yesterday, you really delivered.

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