Wednesday, January 11, 2017

I Stand With Meryl

In the court of public opinion, you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. I am reminded of this adage as the annual Hollywood award season is now underway. Critics harp that these awards are nothing more than self-aggrandizing by an already spoiled Hollywood community. Yet, this year, when multi-award winning actress Meryl Streep gave a thank you speech for her Cecil B DeMille award at the Golden Globes, she put the spotlight on someone other than herself, yet still received criticism. Well, I applaud her. As befitting someone in a free society, she used the podium she was given to say what was on her mind. While I am not a decorated artist of any sort, I feel compelled to do the same. I have the capacity, the platform and the freedom to speak my mind. So I will use those privileges.

I agree with Ms. Streep's comments, I believe "violence does incite violence" and we should all work to stem violence to create the world that many of us would like to live in. I suspect that whatever way you voted last November, you would like to live free from constant threats of violence. I believe, despite this great feeling of a divide in the United States today, that we are more alike than we are different. We enjoy our freedoms, you can see countless expressions of freedom of speech on social media sites every hour. We also want to be safe, we want to be valued and we want the liberty to the pursuit of happiness in our own way. We have these rights up until the second those rights trample on someone else's rights. That is the agreement.

I also think most people would like to feel respected. Ms. Streep began the heart of her remarks by recounting that often replayed and sickening performance of the United States President-elect, imitating a person of differing mental and physical ability. As she pointed out, the campaigner, "outranked in power, privilege and capacity to fight back" the individual he was disrespecting. Yet he thought it was appropriate to do so anyway. Isn't this the very definition of bullying? According to the government website on bullying (stopbullying.gov), "bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose." Our now President-elect did almost all of those things in his opening campaign speech. It is curious to me that a nation which spent so much time, effort and resources to anti-bullying over the last decade has now elected the biggest bully to its highest office.

Supporters of this man, according to political polls and pundits, come from the conservative right. From the fraction of America that professes to be highly religious - specifically, Christian. I was raised, Christian. As I recall, Christianity promotes love; "love thy neighbor as they self", Mark 12:31.  "Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back." Luke 6:35. And, "Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of law," Romans13:10. So, I am mystified as to how so many so-called Christians could fervently support someone who shows so much disregard, such disrespect, such acts that are the opposite of love, toward others. Don't they want a leader who exemplifies traits they instill in their own children? I do.

I am also stumped as to how intelligent people can consider someone who routinely uses adjectives like "stupid" and "dumb" or "crazy" toward his opposition. As we say in education, "use your words." Use language laced with evidence, facts, data, to convince the public that you are in the right and your opposition is in the wrong. This type of healthy debate shows intelligence, wisdom, erudition, and respect. Our current elected leader has not shown any of these traits. I find that scary.

Fear, I believe, is driving the great divide in America today. Christians fear they are being singled out, simply because we now acknowledge that freedom of religion, in order to be truly free, must extend to all religions. This is not a threat to Christianity, it is a defense of the freedom to worship when, and how you chose.

Fear of people different from ourselves is fueling hate in this country. Hate is dangerous. Hate incites hate. "Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers all wrongs." Proverbs, 10:12. It is time for our leaders to rise above the "instinct to humiliate" and, like Ms. Streep, demonstrate to us that love trumps hate.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Day Dreamin'

It is a gorgeous fall day outside. The sun-drenched trees are showing the slightest sign that those leaves are ready to turn from green to vibrant shades of yellow, red and orange. Meanwhile, I am stuck inside. Stuck behind an old wooden desk, on top of which sits a - possibly - even older computer. I would rather be out in the world.

Today is one of those days when I wish I were a full-time writer. Instead of sitting here in this ergonomically incorrect chair, behind this hard, cold wooden desk in this former dorm room, turned office, I wish I were sitting in my own leather desk chair typing on my laptop. Or maybe I would be in a cafe somewhere. I could be at a park reading a book that informs and inspires my current writing project. Then I would go home, get comfortable and write for three hours straight.

This freedom of being a full-time writer would allow me to create. No other obligations to distract me. No meetings to attend. No last minute changes to my To Do list. Instead, my mind would be in that joyous state of "flow".  Ideas would stream out effortlessly. Words would form into delicious sentences, rich with meaning and all grammatically correct.

At least, that is how I envision my life as a full-time writer. In reality, I go home after a day at the office sit down at the computer and try to get back into the mindset of my characters. I try to sink into the feel of their settings And I try to type out a few paragraphs. If I'm lucky, I might eke out a few pages.

Ah, if only...

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Few Things I'm Working On

I haven't written a blog for a few weeks. I have been a bit preoccupied. Here a few things that are taking up most of my time.

Bent, Not Broken

A screenplay that follows three women as they navigate the end of relationships. Clara Diaz begins her post-college "adult" life with enthusiasm, and why not? She has everything, a great first job, a boyfriend away at law school. Her life is full of promise. Until her roommate moves out to live with a guy she barely knows, and her boyfriend doesn't seem to have any time for her. Is it really law school he is preoccupied with? Lisa Simmons realizes her long distance relationship has run its course and puts it to bed. So now what? She has been at her current job over five years, the longest she has stayed in one place in her adult life. Is it time to move on? Does the end of a relationship always have to mean reinventing your life? Sloan Heidelberg has recently reconnected with a former crush and things are going well. Until they aren't. He isn't returning her calls or texts. He seems to have disappeared. But why? 


My Secret Life
Reality TV star Dakota Whitt's real life is nothing like what the viewers see on TV each week. The show, the lifestyle, even the family, is all a sham. In fact, not even her name is real. It has all been cobbled together by her hot mess of a mother and an opportunist TV producer. But Dakota has only one year left before she can leave the family and go off to college. So, while she wishes her life were different, she's stuck for now. Letting the secret out would do more harm than good, especially for her younger sister and brother who deserve a chance at a better life. So for now, she will go along with the charade. But how long can this cast of misfit characters keep the secret?


Survivor
Jo Clark struggles to cope with the loss of her best friend and partner. A struggle that led to the loss of her beloved job with the FBI - at least temporarily. She takes a temporary position teaching Criminal Profiling at a small, quiet campus. The perfect place to get away from it all for a while. Or so she thought. Antioch State College might be a little too close to home for Jo. Triggering past traumas that Jo thought she had long since buried. Through her therapist, friends, family and interesting new people, Jo learns not only to cope but to survive.

Comeback
Joselyn Streeter was the sweetheart of Major League Baseball coverage for a popular all-sports network. At least until she got into a social media spat with baseball star Clay Pierson. Now she finds herself unemployed and either a hero or a heel depending on who you ask. She uses her vast array of contacts to claw her way back out of this mess and resurrect her once promising career. The most frustrating thing for Joselyn is that being a sports reporter wasn't even what she wanted. The coveted job with the sports network just landed in her lap - how could she turn them down? But now faced with starting over again, Joselyn  realizes the power of getting back to basics. Maybe she can have the career she always dreamed of after all.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Being Part of 'Husker Nation'

Growing up in Nebraska, I learned about football early in life. Nebraska Cornhusker football is an honored tradition. It is a community builder in a state that outsiders often forgot about. It is a rallying point for everyone from Omaha to Scottsbluff. Even though I don't live in Nebraska anymore, I never miss a game. It just wouldn't seem right.

In Nebraska, we have only one team. Our loyalty to the Huskers, as they are affectionately known, is solid. It doesn't matter if you were an alum of the University of Nebraska or if you never went to college anywhere. If you grew up in Nebraska, the Huskers are your team, you are a part of Husker Nation. Occasionally outsiders will ask "What is a Husker?" We don't really know, but we do know what it means to be a part of Husker Nation. It makes strangers, become like family. People simply ask, "Did you catch the game?" or they'd proudly say, "I got tickets to the game Saturday." Everyone knew The Game, was the Huskers' game. It was the only one that mattered.

During my childhood, the football season always culminated in the big showdown between Nebraska and Oklahoma. It was a classic match-up of good versus evil. The tall, stoic, Tom Osborne looking and acting more like a Presbyterian minister than a football coach, versus the not so tall, not so quiet, Barry Switzer, whose language was as colorful as the wild stories he liked to tell. My dad hated Barry Switzer. My dad is a kind, civil, man, but bumper stickers that read Bury Barry, amused him.

This annual showdown, televised on ABC - often with the deep booming voice of Keith Jackson - was so intense that as a child, I couldn't watch. Back in the days before all-sports television networks, the Nebraska-Oklahoma game was sometimes the only game the Husker's played on TV, all year. It was the one day out of the fall harvest season that my dad, and other farmers around the state, would stop work and sit down in front of the TV. Turns out, Dad had some colorful language of his own. Clearly, this game was important. Was it possibly 'end of the world' important?

In the next room, away from the TV but within earshot of every groan and curse that signaled a fumble, or penalty on 'our side', I wondered what would happen should Nebraska lose? Surely they hadn't. I had seen the signs proclaiming Nebraska Number 1! I had visions of a bawdy crowd of crimson-clad fans storming over the Kansas prairie, led by a little white wagon pulled by two white horses. Fans were waving crimson flags with the ominous letters OU in the middle. They were all signing this awful, repetitive song - something about Boomer Sooner - while a marching band followed behind. It was a horrible image. It wasn't until years later that I learned the Huskers did actually lose some of those games. Yet the nightmare never happened. Each year, both teams went home and got ready for next year when they would do it all over again.

Those big showdowns with Oklahoma are long since gone. But every year, the Huskers still lace up their sneakers, tape up their ankles and take on whatever appointment is on the schedule. And win or lose, Nebraska is still number 1 in Husker Nation.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Good Night, Nightly

I was sad to learn that the powers that be over at Comedy Central cancelled The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. And not only because I enjoyed the show. I will go out on a limb here and shamelessly admit that at some point over the two-year run of the Nightly Show, I developed a huge crush on the host. Smart and funny are always sexy to me, but when you throw in a Social Conscious, well then, I turn to butter. So, yes, I miss Larry. It has been a week, and already I miss gazing nightly into his friendly eyes through my television screen and his thick black glasses.  I miss his laugh - that infectious little chuckle. And, in all seriousness, I miss the message of the show.

I'm not the only one missing out here. America just lost an important voice in our conversation about social justice.

Obviously, Larry and his Nightly panel gave voice to black Americans. But they didn't stop there. Larry and his crew spoke up for Latino/as, for the LGBTQ community, for the poor and for women. There aren't many male voices speaking up for women - and Gawd do I love him for that.
Not that women aren't perfectly capable of speaking up for ourselves. It's just nice to know that we aren't the only ones who realize the struggle. In fact, if more men would recognize the struggle, maybe they would wake up and help do something about it and then, guess what, there is no more struggle. Social justice issues are like that.

Socal issues are not problems that belong only to "them"- whoever they might be. They are issues that impact our entire society - that means me, you, us. Therefore, tackling these social issues is a collective effort. Larry Wilmore and the team at the Nightly Show demonstrated that collective effort and they are missed.

Larry was in my dream last night. I guess that is the only place I will see him for awhile. I'm sure soon, however, I will see him back in my living room, on a show making a statement - or, Larry if you're interested maybe for real in my living room you know, whatever.