Month: December 2015

  • Movies

    One thing about the job I have is that I have the opportunities to see movies frequently.  I'm off duty from roughly 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and I can choose to do errands, nap, whatever, between my two shifts that run from 6 to 8, a.m. and p.m.

    And it's been a GREAT year from movies.  I understand that some terrific Christmas Day releases -- I want to see "Joy" and "Concussion" and at least one or two others -- might steal the Academy Award thunder from what are my faves so far, but that just makes it an even better year than I thought.

    I've seen "Spotlight," "Brooklyn," and "The Martian" twice each and I rank them in that order.

    "Spotlight" stars Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, and Rachel McAdams and it's about the Boston Globe's expose of the pedophile scandal that rocked the Catholic Church.  Much like "All the President's Men," and as a journalism grad, there was a lot I could relate to.

    "Brooklyn" is the story of an Irish immigrant played by Saiorse Ronan and it's a coming of age story that focuses on homesickness as it affects a 20-ish Irish lass whose lack of economic opportunity in Ireland drives friends and family to arrange for her to make a life-uprooting journey.  I haven't been as impressed by a young actress since Marion Cotillard's award-winning performance in "La Vie en rose."  Ronan's amazing.  And I've heard her first name pronounced as Sershey (rhymes with hershey) or Shurrsa (rhymes with bursa).  I wish I knew the right pronunciation.

    Like "Brooklyn," "The Martian" is totally fictional.  Completely engrossing, it concerns an astronaut stranded on Mars and having to wait possibly years for a rescue.  That's all I need to say, I think.  It stars Matt Damon as the strandee.  Similar in flavor to Tom Hanks's " Cast Away."

    Speaking of Tom Hanks, another good one I saw was "The Bridge of Spies" starring Tom Hanks. Based on a true story that happened during the Cold War.  Just not quite as good as the other three in my opinion.



    I hear that "Star Wars:  Episode 7 -- The Force Awakens" is the best Star Wars ever.  My problem is, I skipped episodes 2 through 6.  Have I missed too much to revisit the franchise?  I'm sure Barbara's not interested in that one, so I'd have to see it alone.  I couldn't even get Barbara to see "The Martian."  Her loss.

  • R-E-L-A-X

    Not an original headline, so I apologize to Aaron Rodgers.

    Nine hundred schools were closed in Los Angeles today, because of an anonymous threatening email sent to school board members in more than one city, including New York City, where the letter was regarded as a hoax.  I'm not laughing, but do you know who is?  ISIS and all their sympathizers, that's who.

    The way to terrorize a population is to make them fearful.  An attack here or there, once in a while, serves a purpose.  So do so-called warnings.

    I don't know who sent the email.  Nobody does.  Actually, Homeland Security SHOULD know, or be on the way to finding out.  There are ways to electronically trace those things, aren't there?

    The important thing is to not panic, but too many people are in panic mode.  Nobody ever said it better than FDR:  "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

    Be vigilant, but live our lives.  I know it's hard, but that's what we gotta do.

  • The War on Football

    Quote of the day:

    This from Steve Almond, writing for Salon:

    "It’s privileged white men, for the most part, who cry like babies because some egghead — usually a doctor or a scientist — dares to apply a functioning conscience to their personal indulgences. In the absence of any coherent argument, the speaker inevitably projects his or her own malicious hypocrisy onto the world at large."

    That's the concluding paragraph of an article objecting to a former football player (Danny Kanell) who has objected to the "War on Football."  Like Almond, I object to Kanell's objection.  I've stopped watching football games (OK, I'm TRYING to stop; addictions are hard to break), in part because they keep letting wife-beaters play in the NFL and also in part because of the sickening truths being revealed about concussions and other debilitating injuries.

    Almond writes that Kanell's "mentality is precisely the same as the for-profit demagogues who bleat about the 'War on Christmas' or the 'War on Gun Rights.'

    Yeah, that too.

  • Blowing Hard

    A cartoon I saw about 65 years ago in a schoolbook depicted an argument between the wind and the sun.  The wind said, "I can make that man take off his coat" and he blew and he blew and the harder he blew, the tighter the man wrapped the coat around his body.  "Watch this," said the sun, and beams of sunshine aimed the man's way quickly led to the shedding of the garment in question.

    America's most prominent blowhard, Donald J. Trump, is attempting to blow away the ISIS problem by blowing as hard as he can at a fearful segment of the Republican Party.  I and they are being blown away, all right, but in different directions.  I guess some metaphors have expiration dates.

    I used to be fond of saying that I'm 99.9999% sure that the sun will come up tomorrow, but 100% sure that Trump will never be elected president.

    But after listening to Mara Liasson's segment on NPR's Morning Edition this morning, I'm reconsidering.  NPR's best political reporter attended a Trump Focus Group meeting last night, and it's apparent that the harder the wind blows -- in this case, wind = criticism of Trump -- the tighter they wrap their loyalty headbands around what they laughingly refer to as their brains.  (Ahem.  The Return of the Metaphor.)

    And sadly, if Trump supporters could read my writing (can they even read?  STOP, Twoberry, insults are like the wind.  Be sunny)  they would react as they did at the Focus Group session.  After being shown anti-Trump ads and in other ways being exposed to counter-arguments, a poll of their opinions revealed that they were even more passionately supportive of Trump than before attempts were made to convince them to think rationally.

    But relax.  Or R-E-L-A-X as Aaron Rodgers would say.  Or at least last year he said that.  The Green Bay Packers will be fine, and so will this country.  Trump is not going to be elected despite the apparent willingness of his supporters to crawl over glass to vote for him.  He's supported by 30% of Republicans being polled on the subject, which I expect is LESS than 30% of Republicans in general, and way way less than 30% of the voting public.

    If necessary, the Democrats in November 2016 will bring out a ground game that -- to use Trump's language -- "you wouldn't believe."  They'll get out the vote, is what I'm saying.  R-E-L-A-X.

    Have I convinced myself yet?


  • Put Away the Hate

    It's getting harder and harder for me to handle what's going on with our country.

    Everybody.  Please.  PUT AWAY THE HATE.

    Whoever it is you're mad at, put away the hate.  A few decades ago, when I was being introduced to the concept of forgiveness by my psychotherapist (trust me, I came from a dysfunctional family none of whose members had ever heard of forgiveness), I asked him, "How do you forgive somebody like Hitler?"  His answer has stayed with me ever since.  

    "If it's a problem for you, you have to."

    Luckily for me, I don't lose sleep at nights agonizing about the Holocaust.  It happened.  It was outrageous.  Just as slavery happened in our nation's first century of existence.  Just as Jesus Christ was crucified.  Just as a dozen al-Qaeda nutcases demolished the World Trade Center.  Those things happened.  Those things were outrageous.

    Any of those events have the power to eat at you.  If someone you love was just murdered by some thug, that fact can eat at you too.

    Don't get eaten.  If any of the horrible events are trying to eat you, you need to recognize the fact and violence isn't the answer.  Forgiveness is, as sickeningly Pollyanna as that might sound.


    I don't remember his exact words, but I can still here Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf's voice as he was talking about getting the enemy to surrender at the end of the Gulf War in February 1991.  He got the message across that the shooting would stop when the enemy surrendered, but not until.

    If we have to drop bombs to defeat ISIS, ok, but the message needs to sound like "Give up, or we'll keep bombing."  Of course it's not that simple, because I know as well as you do that the enemy in this case has no respect for lives, not even their own.

    As anti-violence as I am, I can't think of any endgame that doesn't include bombing.  Shame on me.

    I swear to you, if I DO start losing sleep over this, I need to forgive.  Because when a person forgives, he's giving the necessary aid and comfort to himself, not to his enemy.

    Hate poisons the hater.  It has no effect on the people being hated -- be they centuries-old slaveholders or crucifiers or the shooters or beheaders of any vintage.  Forgiveness has no effect on the people being forgiven.  Its effect is on the forgiver, and it's positive and it's healing and if the forgiver is troubled, forgiveness is NECESSARY.


    Today's post is just a series of random thoughts I'm having.


    Freedom of speech.  It's in that precious Bill of Rights but free speech is not an absolute right.  It's supposed to be against the law to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater.  Everyone knows that.

    Why isn't it against the law for Donald J. Trump to shout hateful speech when that incites the kind of Islamophobic violence that I was hearing about on the television set when I sat down to type out these random thoughts?

    Actually, I had the "free speech" thought a day or two ago, verbalized it yesterday to my minister, and typed it out just now.  And part of what I was verbalizing yesterday was the fact that I fear Trump's supporters more than I fear Trump.

    Just put away the hate.  Please.


    One last thought.  Before publishing this, I searched through a couple of dozen Schwarzkopf quotes and didn't find anything resembling the message he sent to Saddam Hussein's army.  But I did find this:

    “I believe that forgiving them is God’s function. Our job is to arrange the meeting.”

    Funny, huh?


  • Please read Zakiah

    My friend Zakiah has written some moving and incisive words lately in the wake of the Paris and San Bernadino tragedies.  The website is