Eight things that used to drive mom crazy that I didn’t understand then, but I do now:

1. clean clothes on the floor

2. clean clothes, still folded, in the dirty clothes pile

3. trash on the kitchen counter — the trash can is right there!

4. leftover food or dirty dishes in the bedroom.

5. not being able to walk across the bedroom floor

6. eyerolling — I still do this all the time, but it drives me nuts when other people do it to me.

7. whining about the fact that there is nothing to wear — All your clothes are on the floor!

8. finding out at 8:25 P.M. that something is neeeeeded for school the next morning

Sorry for all those times, Mom. I get it now. I really really do.

Pick-a-Flick.

This was the name of a video rental store when I was a kid. Twenty-eight years ago, video stores were scattered throughout the area–not every town had one. I remember as a kid going with my dad to these video stores. Most of them were small and rather seedy joints, dimly lit and smelling of dust. This was long before big chains like Blockbuster, when you would peruse the shelves and your choices were Beta or VHS. When we first got our VCR, the first two movies we purchased were Footloose and Romancing the Stone, and to this day, both of those movies have a solid place in my childhood. My dad, though he is rather quiet and reserved, passed on a love of stories and movies to my brother and me. Quality time with dad meant sitting in a dark theater with a popcorn and a soda, or curling up on the couch with popcorn and rootbeer sundaes, and so, there are certain movies I love because of their connection to my childhood and my dad. In addition to the aforementioned two, there are also:

Star Wars IV-VI — I know I am not alone in this, but these movies, in my opinion, simply cannot be touched. I know there are some that are technically better, and I know that other episodic storylines have rivalled its greatness (LOTR, Star Trek, HP), but for me SW has a certain something that will always hold it head-and-shoulders above the rest–probably because it was the first story in which I knew and loved the characters over a period of time. I was invested in their futures and their destinies. I cared about them.

Star Trek – I suspect this is my dad’s favorite, and why not? The story kept reinventing itself in The Next Generation and Deep Space IX in new and interesting ways. Plus, it was much more accessible than Star Wars, pumping out far more movies, three television series, and seriel books with regularity over the course of three (or so) decades. The Wrath of Khan has the distinct honor of being the first movie to Freak my !@#$ Out AND make me cry. At the beginning of the movie, when Khan put those black weavel-things in those guys’ helmets and the weavel-things crawled into the guys’ ears and the guys fell to the ground screaming in pain and the weavel-thing crawled out again all bloody…OMG! My 7 year-old self just freaked the FREAK OUT. It was awesome. But at the end, when Spock sacrifices himself to save The Enterprise, I cried… quite unconsolibly. The irony that Bones was the one who tried to stop him, that Spock saved Bones’ life despite the fact that Bones and Spock had a rather antagonistic relationship, was not lost on my young self… and that’s a mark of good story telling right there.

The Little Rascals, “The Kid from Borneo” episode – Okay, I watch it now and I cringe at the fact that a black man is supposedly the “wild man.” Please don’t lambast my eight-year-old self for lacking the social-conscience to see the inherent racism. My brother and I just thought it was wildly hysterical to watch him eat everything in the refridgerator and get shot in the butt with a roman candle. “Yum-yum. Eat ’em up!”

the original The Parent Trap – Yes, the remake with Lindsey Lohan, Miranda Richardson and Dennis Quaid is very good. But in my heart they will never rise to Hayley Mills, Maureen O’Hara (come on! It’s Maureen O’Hara!!), and Brian Keith (who was quite dreamy and had a sexy voice as well). I love the scene in the 1961 version in which Grandfather McKindrick uses reverse psychology to trick Maggie into getting a makeover before she flies to California to reunite with Sharon and Mitch. I also love how Pastor Mosby is so genial and doesn’t seem to mind the hijinks that is carrying on in poor Mitch’s confusion as to why, days before his marriage to Vicki, his ex-wife has suddenly appeared on his patio in his bathrobe. It’s a classic scene. To be fair, in the 1996 verion, the scene in which Hallie is reunited with her mother on the staircase of the James’ London home gives me goodbumps every single time. But while we’re on the subject of Hayley Mills…

The Trouble With Angels – I’ll admit, if you’re flipping through channels on a Saturday afternoon, this is a really easy one to skip over. But you shouldn’t. For one thing, it’s funny. Not in a belly-laugh way, but in a charming way. For a goody-two-shoes like I was, it was fun to live vicariously through Rachel and Mary’s troublemaking. More than that, though, it’s an excellent story about forging a friendship, finding one’s purpose, disappointment, struggling with faith as a seeker and as a believer, and discovering oneself on a path that was never expected. My favorite feature of the story, though, is that it touches on, but does not seek to reveal, the mystery that compels Christians to sometimes make “sacrifices” in obedience to God that is difficult for others to understand. It’s sequel, though, Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows? Don’t bother. Really.

Can’t Buy Me Love – This movie came out the summer I turned 12, and it is one of the last movies I can remember seeing with my dad before it became cooler to go to movies with my friends. Now dad and I go to the movies together. 🙂 I still remember that just as dad and I were settling in and the previews were starting, I spilled my Sprite all over myself. It was summer, and I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. As you know, they keep movie theaters nice and cold in the summer, so I shivered all the way through the movie because there was no way my dad was going to get up and walk out of a movie that he had just paid two tickets to see. I still managed to enjoy it. Also notably, this is where I claimed Patrick Dempsy to be mah boyfriend–looong before you Susie-come-latelys “discovered” him as Dr. McDreamy on Grey’s Anatomy. Seth Green is in this movie too; he was hilarious even as a kid… “Now that ain’t Dick Clark.”

So, if you’re snowed in for the fourth time this year (like I am), and you’re looking for something to watch–I recommend you march your little computer over to Amazon or YouTube or something and check these out.

New tunes.

If you were to take a peek at my “recently purchased” playlist on my iPod, you would find:

“Bizarre Love Triangle” by New Order – good for work-outs and running.

“Something So Strong” by Crowded House – a nice, light pop-song that is easy to relate to.

“Don’t Dream It’s Over” also by Crowded House – captures the nostalgic feeling of a lost or faded romance better than most songs, I think. It reminds me of listening to music in the dark in my bedroom when I was a kid.

“Alive and Kicking” by Simple Minds – this might be one of the best songs I’ve never heard on the radio. Maybe it wouldn’t appeal to everybody, but I love it.

“Damn I Wish I Wish I Was Your Lover” by Sophie B. Hawkins – Don’t read too much into this selection, please. 🙂 I hadn’t heard it for years and caught it on the radio and decided to buy it.

“Summertime” by The Sundays – Just for a little winter warm-up.

“Ordinary World” by Duran Duran – How I haven’t had this song until now is beyond me. It is one of my absolute favorites.

Soundtrack to With Honors which includes a cover of Led Zepplin’s “Thank You” by Duran Duran that I love, “Forever Young” by the Pretenders and “Blue Skies” by Lyle Lovett.

So, what have you been listening to?

On words and responsibility.

I’ll admit that I’ve been following the news coverage on the Arizona shooting with a mixed reaction of indignation and disgust and horror and anger. This post is not about the shooting as much as it is about the discussion of whether or not this senseless violence has been an inevitability given the vitriolic political discourse present in our culture.  It has been suggested by some people on tv that now is not the time for a discussion on the nasty tone of politics, but rather, we should be talking about gun control. While I do think gun control is always an important topic, I wholeheartedly disagree. I think that our nation must address the former issue as well. This is something I’ve written about before, and recent events is making it all too clear that if we do not begin to take a hard look at this problem now, then when?

At a certain point after the 2008 elections, I stopped watching a lot of the cable “news” shows. They seriously eroded my peace of mind. The facts were disturbing enough, but the tone was so ugly. There are some truly low and hateful people out there who talk long and loud, and for some reason–and I’ll never understand why–our culture can’t seem to get enough of it.

I did my best to unplug from it, but I still make an attempt to be reasonably informed. I always walk away disappointed, not necessarily in what is or is not happening in Washington DC, but for what passes for “journalism” and “reporting.”

For the past two days I’ve sat with my gut wrenched. I know that the shooting in Arizona was the act of one deeply disturbed man, but I can’t help but feel anger. Anger at those who are most certainly not crazy who have helped amp up the rhetoric and atmosphere to the point that this has “felt” like it could have happened at any time this past two years. Did Jared Loughner choose violence because of a particular website? No. But just as shit and filth foster the growth of disease, so does hate speech and fear-bating foster an environment of extremism and violence. I won’t say that Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly engage in hate speech, but they certainly feed the pidgeons enough berries to keep the shit coming. And I do hold them accountable for what they put out in the world, violence or no violence.

I’ve seen the “Take Back the Twenty” website. I am fairly certain that if I found something similar in one of my students notebooks–a list of students’ names or pictures with cross-hairs (or surveyors marks…but, please, let’s not insult one another’s intelligence. Her camps campain rhetoric has been laden with gun terminology for a long time) through those names–that it would have been considered threatening/hate speech. Plain and simple. Palin has an infuriating habit of answering her critics by wrapping herself in the flag and hiding behind troops, saying that she has the right to say what she wants, however incaccurate or just plain wrong, because troops have died for her right to free speech, and therefore a criticism of her is somehow an unpatriotic “insult” to the fighting troops. Regarding the assertions that her “Take Back the 20” website was perhaps inflammatory or inciting, she invoked the spectre of a suffering future generation saying, “our children will not have peace if politicos just capitalize on this.” See what I mean? With that kind of posturing, anybody who criticizes the website’s cross-hairs graphics must not care about the peaceful future of children. Riiiight. If she stands by what she has said, and what her website has put out there, why even bring kids into it? BUT! We can’t criticize her–for the children. I call B.S.

So, yes, I am angry. I am angry that in our culture, the more negative a person is, the more he/she rewarded for being so. And yes, I am aggravated that good people continue to listen to these people. Why? Because they say something that “sounds” right? Because they say something that has a yarn, or thread, of truth in it? Nevermind that there is one thread of truth in a tapestry of hate and ugliness.

Here is where the rubber meets the road for me: We will never be able to stop one sick person from taking violent action, but we sure as heck can, and should, insist upon civility in political and public discourse. If or when the discourse can not be civil, it should either be conducted in private or it should be discontinued until civility is possible. But we have failed to do so.  Don’t get me wrong, I support their right to say whatever they want. I am angry that anybody is listening to them. I am angry that we have emboldened them so that their rhetoric of fear and ugliness has made them powerful and/or wealthy. I just. don’t. get. it. 

Paul Krugman expressed it perfectly in his column yesterday when he wrote:

“Of course, the likes of Mr. Beck and Mr. O’Reilly are responding to popular demand. Citizens of other democracies may marvel at the American psyche, at the way efforts by mildly liberal presidents to expand health coverage are met with cries of tyranny and talk of armed resistance. Still, that’s what happens whenever a Democrat occupies the White House, and there’s a market for anyone willing to stoke that anger.

But even if hate is what many want to hear, that doesn’t excuse those who pander to that desire. They should be shunned by all decent people.” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/10/opinion/10krugman.html?_r=1

Right now, I am more angry at those fear and hate mongers than I am at Jared Loughner . I realize that I’m probably wrong in that. Maybe my priorities are messed up, but that is how I feel. Maybe because this has been a personal issue for me for a long time, since I have been criticized by some of my own family for not listening to Limbaugh and O’Reilly. So, yeah, there’s definitely some personal baggage fueling this rant.

We need to start holding these people accountable. If not now, then when?