Some of my children and grandchildren are fans of the TV drama “24”. They watch it, tivo it, quote it, and analyze it on their blogs. I knew the premise of this show but had never watched it. I had to see what all the excitement was about. So I used my Netflix arrangement to rent the first season of “24.” Each week for the past month, I have received a dvd with four episodes. Sixteen times during the past 28 days I have watched Jack Bauer struggle to save his wife and daughter from abductors while trying to head off the assassination of a presidential candidate; fighting terrorists – all the time unsure of who he can really trust… I needed a break from the tension.
Thus it happened that “Lars and the Real Girl” appeared in my mailbox. This movie, made in 2007, stars Ryan Gosling. The blurb on the dvd sleeve says the movie is a comedy about a delusional young man who orders a life-size doll off the internet and when he falls in love with her his family becomes concerned.
Sounds like a plot that might go way over the top, doesn’t it? With an actor like Jim Carey or Will Ferrell, it could become a gross slapstick about sex dolls. But Ryan Gosling portrays the now-normal-now-skewed Lars with believability. This is not so much a story of a young man in love with a doll as it is about what happens when people treat another person’s fantasy with acceptance and understanding, allowing Lars to have his delusion because he needs it.
Ryan Gosling was nominated for the Critics Choice Award for his fine work in this film.
When a person dies, be it celebrity or rank unknown, there’s always someone ready to pronounce, “This is what she/he would have wanted.” And they say this with great authority while most of us left behind haven’t a clue.
Since Michael Jackson’s death, family and hangers-on have gathered and “best friends” have surfaced to take part in the creepy activities. Surely some one (or more) claim to have the word on “what Michael would have wanted.” But, sadly, those in charge have missed the boat.
In life, Michael Jackson was adamant about protecting his children from the media. With the exception of the balcony scene, we have not had a look at Paris, Prince Michael or Blanket. There is no way MJ would have wanted them to be paraded out after his death. Surely if there is one who truly cared about Michael Jackson or his children, that person would speak against this exploitation.
Now, after it’s been shown a thousand times, the video of a grieving little girl will be filed away with the pictures of John Kennedy, Jr. saluting his daddy’s casket and Prince Harry’s note to “Mummy” bouncing through the streets of London leading Diana’s funeral procession. We will see the scene again and again any time there is the slightest excuse. And Paris will see it again and again for the rest of her life.
Is this what her protective father would have wanted? I think not.
I lived in Nashville in 1999 when the Titans played in the Super Bowl. A friend at work invited me and my young son, Phillip, to a Super Bowl party. Phillip’s first … and mine. I am a less than avid football fan but this was the Titans! This was the Super Bowl!
My son was as excited as a 10 year old could be, being included in a grown-up party. The host (with a straight face) instructed Phillip to “bring lots of quarters” because we would be playing “guessing games” about the commercials and different aspects of the game, including the final outcome.
The only team shirt Phillip owned boasted a Dallas Cowboys logo, totally inappropriate to wear to this particular event, so we went shopping. Titan shirts were at a premium that week and the only one we found (in a men’s size large) was one celebrating the recent championship. It looked rather comical on Phillip’s scrawny body, but he didn’t seem to know.
When I heard of Steve McNair’s death, I felt sorrow for the loss of a good athlete. Then, I thought of the fun of that Super Bowl Party. Friends I enjoyed being with but never see any more. The excitment of a little boy in the floppy shirt watching the spectacular game. And his tears at the dramatic ending.
Someone younger and wiser than I said, ” … when we remember celebrities we remember a part of ourselves … what they meant to us in different stages of our lives. … In our comments we talk about ourselves as much as we do them. …when a celebrity dies we confront our own mortality.”
By 8:00 pm on the day Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson died, two major television networks had put together a one hour special on each of them. I watched, occasionally switching between the two channels and finally settling on the female anchor I liked best. After the shows were over, I said to myself, “Well done. Now I’ve seen it, I don’t need to see any more.” I determined to not watch the junk reporting and speculation that inevitably follows the death of a famous personality.
Since that night I have made a concerted effort to avoid any tabloid-type stories on either of these celebrities. I change stations at the mention of either name. (I had already taken this step with Jon and Kate months ago.) Consequently, I have not seen an entire broadcast of the national news in over a week. And I almost missed an important event that took place in Washington, D.C. I read in the newspaper that the House of Representatives passed the climate change bill. After years of apathy, procrastination and denial it looks like we’re finally taking steps to protect and perhaps restore our planet.
Our nation’s environment has been in trouble before. In the 1930s, improper farming had damaged the land resulting in the Dirty Thirties. Inches of topsoil were lost as the sweeping winds created dust storms that traveled across several states. There were debates about whether anything could be done to reverse the situation and repair the land. Soil conservation legislation met with opposition but finally passed and the success of the efforts were seen in only a few years.
I find hope in these words from the Old Testament: If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2Chronicles 7:14) What a promise!
If there’s such a thing as writer’s block for me, it’s when I try to write about something I don’t know or something I don’t want to write. I’ve been most successful with opinion pieces and fiction, so blogging should be a piece of cake. Yet, though I pledged to post three times a week, sometimes I come here and I’ve got nothing. (It’s my fear that this fact is apparent to you.)
I’m more than half-way through a novel I hope will be published in 2010 and I’m a bit stuck. I can visualize how the story will end, but can’t seem to get the protagonist moving in that direction. Other writers whose opinions I value, suggest I write the ending and fill in the blanks later. I’m willing to give it a try, though the left side of my brain, that just loves chronological order, has a problem with that.
Though I find it uncomfortable, I have to admit that is the extent of my suffering for my art. I don’t write because of some inner compulsion. I just like to put words on paper and hope someone finds them interesting, or amusing or inspiring. Thank you for reading.