Sunday, August 31, 2014

Film Review: THE GIVER

Meryl Streep as Anjelica Huston.
There are several important things to know if you are planning to see "The Giver," the earnest adaptation of the award-winning children's book by the same name, now trying for an adult audience.  First of all, the book was better; let's just get that off the table right away. Secondly, it's interesting to watch Meryl Streep be only mediocre in a role instead of ridiculously fabulous as usual, and looking exactly like Anjelica Huston in a fright wig while doing so. And lastly, no it is not your imagination--Jeff Bridges really does appear to have a mouth full of marbles. Consequently, he looks weird and sounds worse. (Both stars must have been paid a lot.)

The time is the distant future, when everything, including trees, sky and people, comes in black, white and shades of grey since color must have been deemed too stimulating and so was eliminated eons ago. Ditto music, love, snow and dancing. There are neither people of color nor senior citizens. War is also non-existent, as are pain, sorrow and comfortable furniture. Everyone lives in sterile houses designed by the descendants of Frank Lloyd Wright and eats TV dinners from the fifties.

Nobody is fat, which is nice, and everyone apologizes for the slightest infraction. Precision of language is quite important, which I found refreshing. Also, lying is against the Rules, another nice feature. I was quite taken with their little Utopia, actually: No war, no killing, what's not to like? Except there is killing, and on a daily basis as it turns out, done for the Good of the Community. Twins are not allowed, and that's all I will say about that.

The plot is so full of holes that it's fun to watch, as Old Man Bridges turns over all the forbidden memories from the past to the new kid who was chosen to be the "Receiver of Memory" at a Big Ceremony where everyone claps using only one hand on their thigh instead of two hands the way we do it now. Apparently one-handed thigh clapping is one of the ways Man will evolve. Doesn't that tell you all you need to know? But stick around, since at the end when the credits roll there is a fabulous song playing called "Ordinary Human" by One Republic. Or else skip the movie and find the song on YouTube. And read the book, it's great.

(Try and Have a) Happy Holiday

The once esteemed and now merely grasping New York Times is delivered to our house every Sunday. In the time it takes to walk the paper back to my house from the end of the driveway I can get depressed if I make the mistake of looking down at the front page. I did that today and caught a glimpse of a lead story about how Democrats are going to further exploit the Ferguson, Missouri debacle in black churches and on black talk radio to "mobilize African-Americans" and "channel their anger" to drive them to the polls in November, expanding the already volatile hatred between our warring political parties and, of course, blacks and whites.

Looking away, I spied an article about how ISIS is recruiting Americans through their overwhelming command of contemporary messaging, such as video games and Twitter.

Once inside my house, I threw the whole paper in the trash and kept the magazine section, turning to the crossword puzzle on the next to the last page. After all, I am hoping to have a nice day.

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Thankless Job

"You're why I have the moat, Mother."
I have always quit jobs once they become unrewarding. Even a high salary is no reward if the job sucks. But now I'm stuck in a job I can't quit, and even though the job itself is obsolete, I can't get out of it.

As you may have guessed, I am a Mother. That's fine and dandy when the thing you are mothering is an infant, toddler, tween, teen or young adult. But when it is a completely formed adult, it's just plain ridiculous.

Many women in my situation simply jump head first into being a Grandmother, never giving their adult children a backwards glance the minute that new baby shows up. But without grandchildren, you're lost at sea without a life jacket. You show up for work every day, only to be told your services are no longer required. It's a bad deal.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

It Takes All Kinds

What gives with some people? Like just now, a woman came into my shop and looked around, apparently dismayed. I asked if I could help and she said, "I thought this was a furniture store. I need a furniture store."

Pointing out the chairs, tables, benches, bookcase and one small hutch, I gave her a a quizzical look. "No, I need a furniture store," she reiterated.

I asked what she specifically was looking for, and she said, "Something to hold business cards, you know, a little thing that sits on top of a desk, a business-card holder."

Not technically furniture, I thought to myself. Not even un-technically, in fact, by no stretch of the imagination is a business-card holder a piece of furniture. Anyway, wanting to help, I directed her to the Staples office supply center roughly two towns down the road, maybe ten miles from here. She said, "What's Staples?"

Petty Bullshit, or Rather, Catshit

Yesterday I drove over to the dealership where I recently purchased a new car. The purpose of the visit was to have the unsightly logo/decal removed from the rear bumper, unless they wanted to pay me to advertise for them, which I offered to do. They did not.

In the car's trunk at the time was a 20-pound plastic jug of cat litter. I had left it in there when I was unloading groceries they day before, since it's sort of heavy and I didn't need it right then and knew where it was when I did need it. So then I did need it, and went to the trunk of my car and it was not there.

First I assumed I am losing my mind, since my mother died of Alzheimer's and it's still not known if the disease is genetic, even though technically she died of pneumonia and may not have even had Alzheimer's at all but another form of dementia, but still you see where I'm coming from. Then I thought maybe I had not bought the stuff at all, or did but stuck it in a weird place, and so started searching all the weird places in my home. That took awhile. Finally I started thinking my husband had removed it to save me the trouble, and that he put it in a weird place, but of course I don't know what he considers a weird place, so I called him and asked and he was clueless. So then I started thinking they must have removed it at the car dealership.

I called and they laughed and said "why would we" and I asked them to check and lo and behold it was there, although the guy I talked with said he had no idea why it was removed from the trunk and I could come and get it anytime.

The dealership is 13 miles from my house. I could come and get it? Really? Drive over and pick up my stolen goods? Petty, but still. The car cost more than $40,000....geez.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Life's Mud Season

                                                                     Gordon Studer
Waking up this morning, soon enough it became clear that today was the was the day to rearrange the furniture. This happens to me, and probably you too, when things are stale, dull and unexciting. For some reason, having the couch over there and the chairs over there, with that table against the window instead of the other one and that rug right in the middle of things and not hidden underneath the coffee table, makes everything fresh and new. Well, at least the living room.

If only we could do that with ourselves, life would always be a precious jewel instead of a worn pair of slippers with a hole in the toe. Slogging away in our old routines, it's hard to remember that we have choices, that there are possibilities. We get stuck in our ruts and it's tough to get out.

Maybe I'll shave my head later.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Truth and Consequences

Honesty is not always the best policy. This is bad news for me since I suffer from truthenalia honestoliosis and, like someone with Parkinson's, have little to no control over my responses. Just today I blew a potential writing job because I told the truth. I had hooked a possible freelance gig, and after several amicable emails were exchanged, the person doing the hiring asked for my honest feedback regarding the website for which I would be writing. I said it was riddled with errors which I would be happy to fix, but in its present state the site was amateurish. He never wrote back.

This got me thinking about the whole honesty thing, and in a flash of insight I realized that honesty is for losers. No wonder I wasn't hired by L.L. Bean! When they asked me to name what I liked best about their store, I said that it was open 24 hours and I could go there if I had trouble sleeping. The other people all said things like they like the quality of the merchandise (ha) or they like the friendly return policy (it's stupid) or they appreciate the helpful sales staff (so not true).

Going out on a limb, I will state that most broken marriages would be intact if only those involved had lied more often and more convincingly. So as a public service for all you newlyweds out there, here's a bit of advice you should follow if you want to keep things together:

The following questions must always be answered with an emphatic "No!":
1. Do you think I've put on weight?
2. Should I have a facelift?
3. Is this outfit too young for me?
4. Should I take cooking lessons?
5. Are you sorry you married me?

The following questions must always be answered with a resounding "Yes!":
1. Do you still find me attractive?
2. Do you like my new haircut?
3. Did you pay that bill (mail that letter, make that appointment) I asked you to last week?
4. Did you remember to change the oil in my car?
5. Are you listening?

I have been married for 28 years, by the way.