The Double Edged Sword of Women in Film: Part 2

my-fair-lady

“A Hymn to Him” from My Fair Lady:

Women are irrational, that’s all there is to that!

Their heads are full of cotton, hay, and rags!

They’re nothing but exasperating, irritating,

vacillating, calculating, agitating,

maddening and infuriating hags!

Pickering, why can’t a woman be more like a man?

I love how far the ladies have come in movies, regarding roles and representation, which have improved, although my lists spotlight Caucasian actors simply because they have the numbers on their side and therefore more examples to draw from. And, amazingly, white washing is still a common occurrence, for the roles of both men and women.

But Professor Higgins called it, and now, to a large extent, he’s got it: women are now much more like men.  Which hits exactly dead center on cinema’s latest trend and a serious pet peeve of mine.

As someone who obviously has never read the book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus—Irritating? Calculating? Infuriating? I’m sorry, Professor, but have you met Mitch McConnell??—I still think Higgins would succumb to cardiac arrest the first time he witnessed Scarlett Johansson flinging her thighs around a man’s neck and then corkscrewing him violently to the ground.

black widow

I have no problem with physical strength in anybody, women included. The more power to them! I’ve always been fairly muscular and never had a problem with it. And I can see that Hollywood’s doing what they do best: mining a largely ignored resource (the female ego) and continuing their clichéd exploitation until interest in the resource diminishes due to their over-saturated and hackneyed representations of it.

Cue: Daisy Ridley in Star Wars,  Gemma Arterton in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft, Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road, Halle Berry in the third John Wick.

halle

Although a good run and gun can be exciting as hell, this is still my question: since when did “strength” translate to “violence” for women? Especially unbelievable violence involving immense power sans physical bearing and/or apparent training?

For someone who’s been trudging through desert sand and sifting through junk for most of her life, Daisy Ridley’s Rey might have strong legs and a supple back, but when did the sword-fighting lessons happen, exactly? How does she, with those tiny arms, block a male counterpart’s downward thrust with apparent ease and notable skill? Is it really just “the Force” within her?

Rey-and-Kylo-Death-Star-

I also don’t believe it when Angelina Jolie does anything physical in any movie. And that goes for Scarlett, too, the poster child for the thigh-neck-corkscrew move. Have either of them done one pushup or one deadlift their entire lives? And yes, their bodies are fine, great, in and of themselves, without bent over rows or lateral raises. Fodder for much jealousy. But if you’re gonna be in action movies…

women-lifting-weights

One might argue that many men take on action roles without being in great shape or even age-appropriate sometimes.

Cue Sean Connery in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Bruce Willis in the fifth Die Hard, Wesley Snipes in the third Blade, Harrison Ford in the last Indiana Jones movie, The Do Over with Adam Sandler (albeit, a comedy).

sean2adam

But do women really need to follow in their footsteps? I’m not sure Charlize Theron and Natalie Portman needed to shave their heads in order to distance themselves symbolically from (at least one perception) of femininity in order to appear…stronger. But at least they both had brains, in Mad Max and V for Vendetta, respectively. And maybe Natalie’s shaved head was canon from the comic books.

mad-max-2000natalie

I realize Gina Carano is an anomaly, being an ex-MMA fighter, and conversely, while she’s believable whenever she engages in fisticuffs, she also could do with an acting class or two.

But convincing examples of this new era of “fighting” women can be seen, in my opinion, in Hanna (trained from youth and also DNA-enhanced), Terminator II (Sarah is now thin and cut and mean, but there’s been an evolution) Edge of Tomorrow (Emily Blunt, a tough solider, but also enhanced by her armor and, for a while, precognition), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (physically slight Michelle Yeoh undergoes extensive training most of her life), La Femme Nikita (trained later in life, but during her missions she does nothing over-the-top), and, of course Kill Bill.

emilynikita

It is a conundrum, though, because if I’m being honest, Scarlett’s Marvel character has had life-long training too, as much as Michelle Yeoh. So does she really need to be cut while Michelle floats on the wind, so tiny and insubstantial-looking? Maybe it’s cultural bias: the strength of Michelle’s character is supported by centuries of belief systems. But then wouldn’t that train of thought also include Star Wars Rey? Maybe. But she still “feels” like a Mary Sue to me.

Per Dictionary.com: Mary Sue is a term used to describe a fictional character, usually female, who is seen as too perfect and almost boring for lack of flaws, originally written as an idealized version of an author in fanfiction.

Even though Uma is fairly tall and willowy with nary a muscle in sight, she WAS trained by a master who could balance on the tip of a sword, so….yeah. There’s that.

ChapterPaiMei

When Zoe Zaldana’s standing on top of a storage container in The Losers, aiming a rocket launcher at the enemy, Chris Evans says, “That’s so hot.” But why is it hot? And…is it really hot? What happened to strong female roles where the women had brains and balls, but their balls were made out of their brains?

Isn’t that a lot hotter than shooting off a shoulder-fired missile, no matter how cool Zoe looks?

zoe

Cue: Pat and Mike, Okja, Legally Blonde, Thelma & Louise, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Dead Calm, Working Girl, Arrival, In the Time of Butterflies, 9-5, Silence of the Lambs, Hidden Figures (although overly Hollywoodized) Real Women Have Curves, Silkwood, Norma Rae, Star Trek (Michelle Nichols), Zero Dark Thirty.

Remember the ladies that figured out all the bad things that were going on in their companies, that started unions, that revolutionized their offices to include flexible hours and daycare?

okjamichelle

PAT AND MIKE

Speaking of brains, on a side note, Jayne Mansfield’s IQ was 149-163, she spoke five languages, played the violin and piano, and had once been destined for Carnegie Hall. When she passed away in 1967, Roger Ebert wrote that she couldn’t act and had always been in Marilyn Monroe’s shadow.

Can you say that in German, please, Mr. Ebert?

jayne

Why Jayne felt the need to dumb herself down and didn’t continue on to Carnegie Hall and an entirely different life would take more research, but stories like these are always disheartening, including the fact that Hattie McDaniel often came under attack, labeled an “Uncle Tom,” a person who was “willing to advance personally by perpetuating racial stereotypes or being an agreeable agent of offensive racial restrictions.”

She reportedly responded, “Why should I complain about making $700 a week playing a maid? If I didn’t, I’d be making $7 a week being one.”

Even so, she was unable to attend the premiere of Gone with the Wind in Atlanta because it was held at a whites-only theater. At the Oscars ceremony in Los Angeles, she sat at a segregated table at the side of the room. So Hattie, and others like her, were getting it from both sides, sadly.

hattie

Despite all this, we’ve come far, and notwithstanding any distances still to be traveled, one might be surprised to realize how some of our favorite actors from various movies, some now classics, provided enduring roles for interesting, maddening, emotionally powerful, vacillating, courageous, calculating, intelligent, and dearly beloved female characters.

Star Wars

The Joy Luck Club

The Piano

Alien

Fargo

The Sound of Music

Jackie Brown

Miracle on 34th Street

The Matrix

Monster’s Ball

The Wizard of Oz

yellow-brick-road-oz-ss-1920

 

 

The Double Edged Sword of Women in Film

bad movies

Fellow blogger and resident poet Lisa of Tao Talk (https://tao-talk.com/2021/07/19/dverse-prosery-ama/) left a comment for me a while ago that she’d like to see a blog on how females have been portrayed in the movies and how that’s changed with time. It’s a little too long, though, so I split it into two parts.

My first thought was, “Ugggghhh. It’s not gonna be pretty,” ‘cause it feels like between T&A, insipidness, and now all the over-the-top (and usually unbelievable) run and gunning, there’s not gonna be an overabundance of soft fuzzy feelings.

berry

And even though that may be true, to an extent, because movies are entertainment and they can’t all be classy or works of art, I found that things aren’t completely across the board terrible. For one thing, digging back in time to the beginnings of movie-making, I was surprised to discover fascinating variety and openness during the Silent Era that I had no idea existed.

When you think about silent movies, do you picture women in frumpy dresses throwing their hands up because dinner burned or crying over a sick child or nagging their husbands? If you didn’t, you rock, because that’s exactly what I pictured, and while I’m not completely wrong, I’m also far from completely right.

mother-image

Although Mary Pickford was famous for playing “the ingénue,” a wholesome young woman who depended on men to rescue her from…anything and everything, silent movies were also full of “the heroine,” bold women untethered from convention and using strength and intelligence to navigate around danger.

Remember the Perils of Pauline? I never saw one episode, but I remember that title because the idea of it survived, and has been repeated, up into modern times.

Perilsofpauline

The silent era also featured the Flapper or It girl, a modern career woman with short hair and clingy dresses and who was no stranger to socializing. A lot.

I was surprised that she was also sexually open—they were allowed to depict that somehow?! Apparently, yes. And probably because always, in the end, her modern sexuality would end in tragedy if she did not eventually find a husband.

it girl

More surprising, even, was that, according to refinery29.com, …between 1912 and 1919, Universal Studios’ roster of 11 women directors made a total of 170 films. Women and men worked alongside one another, forging a new industry in real time.

A woman named Frances Marion was, during this period, the highest paid screenwriter in Hollywood, having been ushered into the job by another woman, Lois Weber, the first woman to own her own movie studio. Weber and Marion were instrumental in forwarding women’s early film careers through the 1920s.

directors png

In such a relatively egalitarian atmosphere, women seemed destined to become equal partners with men,” wrote Lizzie Francke in the book Script Girls: Women Screenwriters in Hollywood.

But (sic)… by 1933, moviemaking was a big business…salaries were higher. The guys wanted the jobs.

Even earlier, in 1931, it already seemed like audiences were witnessing a sea change–at least in consistency– concerning female perception/roles when James Cagney shoved a grapefruit into Mae Clark’s face in The Public Enemy because she was complaining too much.

cagney

30 years later, Hitchcock continued in this vein with a conga line of clichéd female characters. From TheList.com … Hitch’s female characters are loosely divided into “the vamp, the tramp, the snitch, the witch, the slink, the double-crosser and, best of all, the demon mommy” each of whom gets punished in the end.

Remember Stanley Kubrick? I didn’t realize this until I was older, but almost all of Kubrick’s movies were either underwhelming/unflattering for women or did not include them at all.

Although all of his movies were based on novels or stories, I think he could have “poetically licensed” better roles for women than the hooker and gung-ho psycho killer in Full Metal Jacket, the empty-headed girls running around in A Clockwork Orange, and the only female in Dr. Strangelove—a bikini-clad woman lounging around on a bed.

bikini

And what about passive, soft-spoken, sniveling Wendy in The Shining? Stephen King said his written character Wendy was NOTHING like Kubrick’s final interpretation. What is up with that?

wendy

As a side note, many have now, in retrospect, down-graded Mr. Kubrick’s blanket “genius” status to “parasitic genius” due to the fact that his personal vision depended on already-created material.

Conversely, Tarantino operated very differently, portraying women in often strange but dynamic (though usually violent) roles.

At least now there’s more Kathryn Bigelows, Chloé Zhaos and Ava DuVernays on the scene, to name a few, female directors with their own sense of destiny and in a position to encourage, if not that egalitarian mindset of the Silent Era and early golden age of Hollywood, at least something closer to it.

chloe-zhao-1

Whatever the complaint may be concerning roles for women, it does seem like there’s always (usually) a counter-example to balance things out.

We had Rhett (maritally) raping Scarlett in Gone with the Wind (never mind that she was stretching luxuriously the next morning in bed)/courageous Bette Davis in Dark Victory.

rhett

Bette-Dark-Victory

Mary doomed to be nobody without George in It’s a Wonderful Life/flawed but successful single mother-business owner Mildred Pierce.

its_a_wonderful_life_mary_librarianMildred Pierce

Jane Russell’s breasts starring in The Outlaw/Bette Davis’s one-day-to-be classic Now Voyager line, “Oh, Jerry, don’t let’s ask for the moon. We have the stars.”

The_Outlaw_poster

now voyager

Last Tango in Paris, complete with surprise rape scene actress Maria Schneider was not warned about/Vanessa Redgrave’s character dealing with secret assassination plots in Mary Queen of Scots.

Last Tango in Paris

queen

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman/Imitation of Life: an early, extremely courageous foray into the still-taboo topic of race in America.

attackofthe50footwoman1958.16187

imitation-of-life

Elizabeth Berkley’s four-minute escalating mini-tsunami orgasm during that amazingly embarrassing pool scene in Showgirls/Kathy Bates and Jennifer Jason Leigh spinning and unraveling mysteries in Dolores Claiborne.

showgirls

dolores

So it’s not all bad for the ladies.

But I do have a warning for Professor Higgins of My Fair Lady, in regards to the lyrics of “A Hymn to Him” and maybe for all those who define female “strength” as an ability to fight like a man … to be continued in part 2.end lady

Guest Writer Michael Sullivan: First Love

heart

Fellow blogger, teacher, intriguing writer, and buddy Glen of Scenic Writer’s Shack (https://goosefleshsite.wordpress.com/about/) was the first to post about his first love:  https://goosefleshsite.wordpress.com/2021/02/26/first-love-endless-love/

Inspired by his passionate and exciting tale, I re-posted it here and am now once in a while inviting whomever cares to dredge up those long-ago thoughts and emotions to have them posted on my humble blog.

We were also treated to the unexpectedly fabulous insights (all in the comments section) into resident philosopher Burning Heart’s story of a fiery relationship starting in high school and continuing on into adulthood: https://staceyebryan.wordpress.com/2021/02/27/first-love-endless-love/

Burning Heart’s Kone, Krusos, Kronos and all its ponderings and gentle philanthropic advice can be found here: https://konekrusoskronos.wordpress.com/2021/06/24/running-out-of-time/

I want to thank Michael S., fellow blogger, buddy, and movie reviewer extraordinaire (https://moonknight65.wordpress.com/about/) for recounting a sweet tale of love that, to me, is fascinating because it comes out of nowhere, spikes to unexpected heights (and we never really find out why) and then ends on an upbeat, although somewhat enigmatic note.

Michael has since been doing more and more of his work on his new YouTube channel, so check it out! He also interviews actors, we get insights and background into movies we probably never knew before, and he delves into the Indy stuff like nobody’s business! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-EBrH2FQvjSWMKqz1-gw1A

(Though I’ve inserted photos and drawings at various points in Michael’s story, all images are a result of my perceptions only and have nothing to do with the illustrations Michael might have chosen for himself).

My first love…..

I was a freshman in high school and very socially backwards. I was a manager for the varsity football team and was accepted by the older kids. I got invited to a party that was being hosted by the family of one of the cheerleaders. It was my first party at the high school level and I was very shy and awkward.

But about an hour into the party, a cheerleader started talking to me, she sat down next to me and we started talking, or she was talking and I was just sitting there amazed that a cheerleader was talking to me, a freshman. We had a nice time and I didn’t think anything about it.

Boy And Girl Talking as a graphic illustration image in Vector cliparts category at pixy.org

But the next week at school, a couple of the cheerleaders commented how much Lisa liked me…..but she was a senior and being a freshman, I thought they were teasing me a bit until Lisa asked me to walk her home.
Now I was completely not prepared for this, I had no idea what to do but be nice.
I had no idea what a date was and quite honestly, we were so poor, I didn’t have any clothes or money to ask her out. So we stayed friends and after the school year, she went to college.

The next year, I was again acting as a equipment manager and we were at home playing a night game.  I stood on the sidelines watching the game when someone covered my eyes, it was Lisa. She had come down to the game and when she saw me, she left the stands and surprised me. We talked and she asked me to come up and see her at college.  So I did and we went on a real date but once again, I was so shy that when openly invited me to kiss her, I was hopelessly clueless even though by this time I really loved her. We went on a couple of more dates before she moved on to college aged men.

11.26.HOME_.CC.WalkAwayPaul
We talked once in a while and she was dating a nice guy and I was happy for her.

I didn’t hear from her my junior year and it wasn’t until my senior year I unexpectedly saw her again. I heard that she was going to spend a semester at Georgetown in D.C. and I dropped by her parent’s house (they really liked me) to get her address.

I was very surprised not only to see her (and her boyfriend) but I thought I might be in trouble when she pulled me out to talk. She gave me a hug and invited me to come up to visit her the next weekend and be prepared to spend the night. And while the following weekend was amazing, it also caused a lot of confusion and pain. We drifted apart and I didn’t hear from Lisa for 5 years after that until she wrote to me and told me why it had happened.

colourful-painting-of-women-prints
I talked to Lisa once more again about 10 years ago, she was a corporate lawyer and had two kids, we both said the other sounded very happy and it was true.

I never have felt the need to talk to her again but I do wish her well.

city

Only English Spoken Here

dolphins

It was NASA funded.

It happened for ten weeks in the 1960s at Caribbean-situated Dolphin Point, often called the Dolphinarum.

There was inter-species salaciousness.

And it ended in dolphin suicide.

When we tuned into the middle of the documentary “The Girl Who Talked with Dolphins,” it almost immediately felt like (for me) the villain here was Margaret Howe, the untrained 23-year-old who took it upon herself to teach English to Peter, an adolescent bottlenosed dolphin.

Margaret-with-Peter-the-d-011 jpeg

Invited by Gregory Bateson, an eccentric counterculture scientist and the director of the lab, Margaret dove head first (pun intended) into the experiment, inventing such techniques as painting her lower face white but her mouth black so that Peter could “read her lips.”

Peter was having trouble pronouncing the letter “M,” you see.

Although one had to ask: should Peter be trying to pronounce the letter “M”?

Continue reading

Skirts Weighty With Water

“The iron pump-handle was cold, and even with her mitts on, her chilblains flared as she heaved the water up from the underground dark and into her waiting pail.”

The opening paragraph of  Jo Baker’s 2013 “Longbourn,” strikes like a wave, immersing one immediately into the world of 19th century British working-class life.

I miss words. What were chilblains? I had an idea but wasn’t sure.  Cold iron. Water pulled up from the underground dark. I was watching an old game show from the ‘50s a while ago and someone said, “Is it a loge?” I had no idea what a loge was. Had to look it up.

I know times change and so does our vocabulary, but  even though we don’t use the word “loge” anymore today, doesn’t it seem like those words haven’t been replaced with better words? “Loge” has disappeared, replaced by slang and acronyms. Yeet. GOAT. And a liberal use of the word “like,” like, you know?

But here we have none of that:

The pails hit the ground and bounced…startling the rooks cawing from the beeches.

Swaddled in the old blue pelisse and snaffled drink…Sarah blundered on into the woods.

She opened a drawer and stared down at its contents– jam-cloths, a scalding-dish…

Sarah smiled as she blackleaded the break-fast room grate, on her knees…

Mrs. Collins had held her new dove-grey reticule on her lap, in the hack-chaise: this augered well.

Beside him, the ventsman glugged water, wiped the bottleneck with a filthy palm…

The latest craze in fiction lately seems to be endless offerings of alternative “Pride and Prejudice” retellings.  Maybe it’s me, but are Mr. Darcy and the Bennets that fascinating?  Though “Longbourn”  is technically another one of these retellings, it comes from behind, painting the same scene from a very different angle by focusing on the servants, the cogs in a well-oiled machine that keeps the Longbourn manor house running smoothly, more like a business than a household.

Orphaned Sarah, the main protagonist now of marrying age, fueled perhaps by the cold dark and physically painful morning, alertly focuses an unflattering spotlight on the family, particularly the sisters, when she says: 

“The young ladies might behave like they were smooth and sealed as alabaster statutes underneath their clothes, but then they would drop their shifts on the bedchamber floor, to be whisked away and cleansed, and would thus reveal themselves to be the frail, leaking creatures that they really were…She had scrubbed away their sweat, their stains, their monthly blood; she knew they weren’t rarefied as angels.”

In discussing a lady’s monthlies, Jo Baker ventures into territory that Jane Austen was forbidden to even approach, much less enter. But yet, this was obviously the stark reality that buoyed up the unremitting dream of eternally white china, always-crisp linens, and perpetually polished brass fittings. The illusion of effortless order amid back-breaking labor.

Imagine this is your day: the washboard, the chamberpots, the lye, the hog shit, the ewers in the bedchambers, the sweeping, the polishing, the scraping, the blackleading, the chopping, the stitching, skirts weighty with water, the rank smell of old mutton fat…

This fascinating peek at the muscular diligence of varied personalities combining in Transformer-like  effort into a solid, dependable entity that performed their duties while enduring emotional and physical suffering is a beautifully written and elucidating journey behind the velvet rope of any manor house at the time, but of Club Bennet in particular.

The novel begins with the quote, “What praise is more valuable than the praise of an intelligent servant?”

But for Sarah, who at one point obtains her own private space “with a view of elms, a place to sit, a tray set out for her tea…” it’s not enough.  In her quest to become more than a servant, to remove herself from that specific box, she chooses to unhitch her intelligence from the will of others and loose it into the wider world of self-determination and autonomy.

The author, Jo Baker, hailing from a lineage that at one time engaged in service, paints the landscape of servitude—travail, loyalty, regret, heartache, dignity and longing–in black and white and all the beautiful colors in between.

Hand Resting Comfortably on Thigh

The George Floyd trial has started here, as many probably know, so we’re being inundated by the tragic details and overall sense of doom stemming from that day.

In seeing video up closer, I realized that the killer cop’s hand wasn’t actually in the pocket of his pants. His black gloves make a clean straight line across his wrist in such a way that it appeared the rest of his hand was in a pocket. But it was actually just resting on top of his thigh.

All this is to say I’m correcting the title of my post from a year ago, Hand In a Pocket to Hand Resting Comfortably on Thigh instead. Both of which, in the end, are equally condemning.

Moon Base 7

I was going to do a review of the 2020 movie “Antebellum,” but I’m not sure enough time has gone by for people to have seen it (or if people even intend to see it) and the problem of spoilers and all that.

So I guess I’ll wait a while (although I’m frothing at the mouth, and it’s not good froth) and do it later this year and instead take you—drag you–kidnap you—down a special rabbit hole with me. Concerning what? My job.

I stumbled across a closed captioning ad in the UCLA job center one afternoon. It was completely unexpected. I visited the center regularly, never thinking I’d actually find a job. In fact, I was on the verge of full-blown panic when I discovered the captioning ad.

I’d majored in English and ruined my life. I didn’t have the drive to work for a newspaper or to compete for those coveted publishing house positions. I was too shy (and unorganized) to be teacher. And this was before there was any social media or web content available to write, edit, or proof-read from the anonymity of one’s home.

But closed captioning looked doable. It said something about “creating subtitles” for TV shows and movies. Being detailed oriented. A good speller. Blah, blah, blah. I was actually a terrible speller, regardless of my major, but I figured that’s what dictionaries were for. (Yes, this was before spellcheck).

I applied in Hollywood at Gower Studios and passed the test but ended up turning that down when I realized there was a New York office. I’d been hankering to live somewhere where I didn’t have to drive anymore, so that, along with the thought of snow and actual seasons, sent me to the east coast.

I’d glimpsed the captioning equipment in the Hollywood office, but that hadn’t fully prepared my psyche for the monstrosity that awaited me. The only thing missing from this photo was the nob control that we used to operate the video.

Captioning turned out to be pretty rewarding. Instead of getting fired, as I had predicted upon arrival, I picked up the process pretty well and was pounding out Jeopardy! like a maniac within a month or so. And there were other shows, where I learned a lot, and movies. Who could complain? I was also enjoying NYC’s seasons, despite almost giving myself a hernia while slipping on ice in Manhattan or feeling my DNA unraveling beneath the immense humidity of summer.

I learned to spell at this job. I discovered (embarrassingly, pathetically late) that airplane hangar was spelled differently from a clothes hanger and beaucoup was not spelled boo koo. After a while, I became a senior editor and mainly did proofing and quality control, which…meh. I’ve always preferred the actual captioning. Among some of the best and most infamous errors caught over the years (not by me) were:

The rings of Saturday

The abdominal Snowman

And the best one: Hi Hitler.

I’ve signed a NDA, wherein I’m not allowed to talk about anything concerning the shows I do, much less the job’s inner workings, so I’ll have to use alternate words for everything here.

So basically, you walked in, grabbed your show (on videotape) and spent your entire shift doing a 20-minute sitcom or 25 minutes of a movie. You exported a Buddha button in XX frame rate on a soft floppy disc. A few years later, it would be a hard floppy disc.

You printed out long sheaths of paper with your entire file on it, shamelessly murdering generations of trees, so that your supervisors could circle missing commas and typos. It was the ‘80s, after all, and “Wall Street” was playing. The environment was still not a concern. Greed was still good.

You turned off the computer and went home, wide awake, energetic, happy to be alive.

Fast forward in time many, many years.

Videotapes are gone. Discs are gone. Simplicity is gone, along with understanding. This is the setup now, more or less.

You walk in. You clock in on the computer to show you have arrived, you’re ready to work. The one sit-com is there. But so are eight other varying items too. You must set a clock every time you start a job. The email pings constantly. You search for information. A response turns reality upside down. What? It has to be done in X0 and not 0X?! You wander a labyrinth made of cipher and higher math that you haven’t revisited since the tenth grade, all the while with the clock ticking like a time bomb.

Speaking in code again, you no longer export a simple Buddha button. You export a Buddha, a Rock, a dictated Soda, an undictated Soda, and a Nail in XX frame and then engage in some light calculus and first-year IT coding in order to complete the assignment.

Here’s an example of instructions that I’ve rewritten in the special language especially for you. Just skim it unless you truly enjoy torture:

After running final inventory, remove the original NO WORDS PLACE.

Export an XX Rock button.

Convert your button to XX0.

Add a SpaceX space and fantasize discreetly about Mars.

This should be the last Frog and have a Beta Male Life Cycle with the Initiator being jacked directly following the last Frog with content.

Export with the Moon Base preset.

Drop all buttons into Moon Base 7.

For the Poster button, go through and re-calibrate all bells and whistles.

Retain Raindrops on leaves.

Remove Tech Word for NOISE (Keep the Tech Word on Alphabet. Because of this, you can’t do a Piledriver now. Also, removing the Tech Word may distort items, so don’t count your chickens).

Export Rock, Buddha, and Razor buttons (In the Tech Word reappearing box, uncheck Gladiator and use NO NUMBER as Initiator to retain the NUMBER Life Cycle in the Razor button.) Double-check in Magic Paper to make sure Razor has NUMBER initiators and that Space Time Continuum has been retained and is still Resonating at X0-21-21-01.

My name is Stacey, and this is my story.

I used to carve messages in stone with a sharp tool.

Now I program the space shuttle, whether I want to or not.

But I know—think—am pretty sure—that after I drop all buttons into Moon Base 7, everything will be fine.

First Love – Endless Love

I was searching for a topic that might interest some of ye bloggers out there to whip up some thoughts on–large or small–as a guest post on Laughter over Tears. Glen of Scenic Writer’s Shack blogged this on his own, and besides being wonderfully poignant and also subtly comical, it seemed like the perfect subject matter for some of you writers and experiencers out there to expound on. Please enjoy Glen’s artful entry, and don’t be surprised if I show up at your door one day soon, hat in hand….asking you to recall YOUR first love… even if it’s one paragraph….
unless you approach me first, of course, which is wholly welcome also!

Scenic Writer's Shack

This is not a film review of the movie ENDLESS LOVE (1981). Though it almost could be. This post is intended as a personal memoir of sorts of myENDLESS LOVE. My first love. I’ve been wanting to tell this – for me – magical story for some time now; before it faded from memory altogether. It’s probably already forty years too late.

In a lot of ways, the events and feelings connected with the story, to borrow an ancient chestnut of a phrase, feel like they all took place only yesterday. Five seconds ago, actually. Seen from another tack, it all feels by now so long ago I sometimes whether any of it really happened at all. Time makes a mockery of memory, afterall. But your first love is something you never forget. Not really. Not this first love anyway.

Details are what make a story. I know that…

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It’s Time

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It sneaks up on you out of the dark, sometimes in broad daylight, and you never see it coming. “Oh, it’s you…” you may say. After all, you recognize it. It’s no stranger. It’s just been a while. “What are you doing here?”

Or more likely, more to yourself, “Am I ready for this?”

When it comes barrelling like a train around the bend, you’re just standing helplessly in the middle of the tracks. “Get off the tracks!” the audience yells, but by the time you react, the train is upon you, over you, through you….

It’s also something you may seek, peering into corners, under tables, even plumbing the depths of the past. And a lot of us find it there, surprisingly, nestled against the bosom of time. You also may know exactly where it is, and spend your time nurturing it with poignant tenderness. Or wrestling it with reckless fervor.

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It’s difficult to describe and hard to define. But call it an idea. A wild thing. A philosophy. A chemical reaction. A monster.

Love. Love is all of the above, and then some. Love and romance. And even better…time-travel romance.

There’s nobody here, but you don’t have to admit it out loud if you’re into romance. In case your scientist friends deem you a fool because it’s been incontestably proven that ‘love’ is an abstract concept derived from chemical interactions, or the other lion tamers snort in disgust since any notions of ‘love’ will have the big cats clawing your back open because they can smell ‘weakness’ in the air.

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But I see no shame in the well-crafted romantic time travel story, or in romance in general. Not the crappy ones. The good ones. Of which, unfortunately, in my opinion at least, are few and far between. I might be toeing the PC line here to suggest this is largely not a guy topic, generally, but if you know someone who’s into this kind of thing,  guy or girl, I have three gems for you to share.

In time travel romances, there’s a variety of ways that the heroines, usually by accident, trigger their leap back in time.

In an earlier blog, I complained about these tropes endlessly and also outlined how I would write a time travel book (if I had the cajones to actually do it and not just talk about it):  https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/106774177/posts/2314. (My heroine would be a 45-year-old bodybuilder with a rotator cuff injury and no patience for men in kilts.)

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Two books which transcended, in my opinion, not only the mechanism by which they time traveled but the usual story, too, are “Beautiful Wreck” by Larissa Brown: larissabrown and “Transcendence” by Shay Savage: shay savage.

Dive into “Beautiful Wreck”–or tell someone you know to dive in–for its luscious writing describing the stark imagery of an ancient Viking civilization. Yeah, I know. Vikings. Ha ha. But this one’s well-researched and elaborately detailed. It’s moody and dark. A genuine attraction between the two main characters unspools gradually and unhurriedly in the midst of a strange mystery  later brought to light. And I adore the title. Because I love opposite words that are shoved together.

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“Transcendence” also bypasses the usual touching of a mysterious gem/locket/necklace/ring, car driving off a cliff, into fog, into a bog, partial concussion or other bodily damage by scientific means, and believably so.

But the amazing thing about “Transcendence” is its point of view, which comes entirely from the male protagonist, who is pre-lingual, and therefore verbal communication between he and his potential mate is nil, resulting in only universal sign language and lots of eye contact.

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The male’s internal monologue is repetitive and hilarious, casting the much of the story in a light, comical air, and is more than worth reading, in my opinion.

I’m sure I don’t have to remind anyone about Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander,” the OG of time travel romance, from 1991, the one that started it all and which has been made into an extremely popular series on Starz. The extent of Gabaldon’s historical research pretty much outshines almost everyone else in spades, along with Jamie and Clare’s careful evolution as a couple.

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I love to love love. That’s not a typo. I love love. Love to love it. Especially in the unexpected and unusual circumstances that altered reality presents.

It’s time. Go out back, right now, jump in the time machine where you have it hidden behind the shed–or take that person with you whom you know will love this stuff–and set your coordinates for these stories.

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I’m personally so happy I found them, because it makes me love love even more. The monster, philosophy, wild thing, expected, unexpected, past, present, future: I love them all. Happy Valentine’s Day.

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MOBOCRACY

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I try not to get into Facebook discussions with people about politics because I’m not into S&M. At least not yet.

Once, years ago when I told a co-worker that and my husband and I hardly saw each other because we worked on different shifts she said, “That’s good. It’ll keep the marriage fresh.”

She was right, too. Distance makes the heart grow fonder and all that. So who am I to say S&M might not be the next thing to “keep the marriage fresh”? No one. I’m no one to say it. So, like Vice President Pence and the 25 Amendment not being taken off the table, neither is S&M off the table. Except for the social media table.

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A recent example of the kind of rhetoric I’ve seen online was someone responding to the fact that the Air Force veteran who was killed during the riot on the Capitol building had been deemed a “terrorist.”

Part of what they wrote was, and I quote: “This UNARMED woman was in a buildkng OWNED BY THE PEOPLE. PEACEFULLY protesting an act OF SEDITION perpetrated by our vice pres when he IGNORED HIS CKNSTITUTIONAL MANDATE to reject votes counted from ststes where governors had violzted their OWN Constitution…”

Crazily, out of everything they said, was the statement “peacefully protesting.”  I’m sure that people believe that the election was stolen. I’m sure that they think Mike Pence was complicit for not “going along” on Wednesday.

But what I’m not sure of is if the writer has used a dictionary recently or even knows what one is. Last I heard, the definition of peaceful was holding hands and singing “Kumbayah” or lying flat on the ground and chanting “I can’t breathe.”

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Some kind of force—An extremely determined spirit guide? A guardian angel with celestial hand restraints?—kept me from responding. I DID, however, take the time to click the laughing emoji.

Immature, I know. But I think everyone’s aware at this point that Facebook has contributed greatly to increasing isolation and retarding emotional growth, along with 20 years of reality TV and every new menu item at Taco Bell.

It started with the Walkman. Remember the Walkman? That’s when tuning out began in earnest, wasn’t it?

I guess I’ve succumbed somewhat, too. What did “laughing” at the person’s post accomplish? Nothing. So I do practice non-participation as much as possible.

I DID respond once, a few years ago, to someone on FB who said they thought that people who killed police dogs should be charged with murder.

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I mean, I’m not taking that idea off the table. I mean, look at that puppyyyyyy! Maybe 100 years from now, 200, we can think about that? But let’s start with people first. Right?

There’s a lot of anger in this country that can’t be ignored.

Once we get past the arrests and trials and punishments and justice, if the half of the country that would not riot at the Capitol building doesn’t start talking to the half that did—and would again, and will likely do worse—to find out what’s going on, it feels like it’ll be a slow (maybe fast) escalation to certain doom.

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I mean, they’re not all xenophobic entitled racists wearing Nazi paraphernalia.  Some people just want jobs, right?

Meantime, if I DO get into S&M, it’ll be the “keep the marriage fresh” kind, not the FB kind, packed tight with the myriad accoutrements of protest and tribulation but sans any ultimate satisfaction or relief.

I’ll take some light spanking and maybe one wrist tied to the bed with a really, really soft ribbon over that any day. Safe word: kumbayah.

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