Saturday, September 19, 2009

"Glee" Left Me Filled with Sorrow

There's a new show on television called "Glee". Now, I'm not much of a TV watcher, but in the beginning, Glee left me feeling hopeful that this would be a show filled with humor and music that I could really sit back and enjoy. The humor employed by the writers has been anywhere from tongue in cheek to jaw-dropping. The music has been fun to listen to, albeit the lip-syncing talent of the performers falls short from perfect. (Yes, it's true. They do the recordings ahead of time, and then sync the songs when they perform them for the camera).


Then they bring in this nasty man, Dakota Stanley, an expensive choreographer...and in a matter of about a minute, the show went from 4 stars to no starts (0).

First, Mr. Stanley hands out information sheets...and very pointedly does not give one to the single member of the group who is most different from the rest. Next, the thick Black girl is told to begin a very unhealthy diet. Then he begins to talk about his plans for the group, beginning with Arty, a young man in a wheelchair.

"Arty, you're cut. You're not trying hard enough."

"At what?" asks Arty.

"At walking," says Mr. Stanley. "Can't be wheeling you around during every number. It throws off the whole dynamic, and it's depressing."

Next, he insults the thick African-American girl and kicks her out of the group...after he told her about her new diet that was to consist only of coffee. He moves further down the line, then tells a Semitic teenage girl that she needs a nose job. Is this supposed to be funny? At the end of the line, he comes to the tall young man who plays on the school's football team and also sings with the glee club, despite peer pressure to do otherwise. Mr. Stanley calls him "Frankenteen" because of his height.

"Why don't you wipe that dopey look off your face, and get some lotion for those knuckles you've been dragging on the ground."

(Insert sound of crickets chirping here)

That knuckle-dragging joke was absolutely phenomenal. Really, it gave me a phenomenal headache.

"What's wrong with you," the young man asks Mr. Stanley.

..."You're freakishly tall. I feel like a woodland creature," replies Mr. Stanley.

(insert sigh)

This behavior sparks defiance in half the glee club members. As they head for the door, Mr. Stanley quotes from the Bible!

"Separate the wheat from the chaff." This, of course, is completely out of context.

That sinking feeling I had just fell down into my toes.

From here, Dakota Stanley de-evolves into a full-blown, name-calling bigot, wrapping his words in a statement that connects his actions to the truth and winning.

He calls the young, Jewish girl "Yentl", then follows this statement with, "Misfits and spaz-heads and cripples can make it, too." This went too far for me.

The use of the word "cripple" is not verboten, when used in the right context, however, "It can be a nasty pejorative when used against a person with a disability, such as 'You're just a cripple.' " (

FOX...I don't support you on many practices, but I was hoping this new show would be something different. Well, it's different, alright. It's different from my standard of entertainment. The show is mean-spirited, and revealing of the hearts of those who produced and wrote the script. Way to go,'ve alienated me again.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Film Review: "Second Skin"

The film, Second Skin, is a documentary directed by Juan Carlos Pineiro Escoriaza. It's premise: To follow the lives of several different "gamers", players of online games, as they go about their gaming business--their lives. Escoriazo makes a bold attempt to show the dark side of gaming, as well as the side that encourages us as human beings.

The film has sparked some lively debate on Hulu, an Internet site where users can watch second run and current films and television, around the clock, on their own schedule. Some viewers felt, after seeing the film that the gamers depicted needed to more or less "get a life", and wake up to what is going on around them. Still other viewers found the film to be skewed in its depictation of the gaming community, stating that of the millions of people playing games, these are only a few--and they were the hard-core few, to boot.

This viewer felt a little sorry for those who just couldn't seem to grasp the idea of gaming as a pass-time or even a hobby. It has become an accepted pass-time to sit on the couch or in a chair and watch the television for several hours a night and even more on the weekend. Or perhaps, instead, to stare at the computer as it feeds the watcher select videos and movies. I wonder what is being given back to society in the sitting before a television set from the time one gets home from work until bedtime, taking a little bit of time to prepare a plate of food during the commercial, probably take out, only to hurry back to the couch so that not a single moment of watching will be missed. TV watchers seem to stare and stare at a screen where actors pretend the lives many of us wish we could have for ourselves.

Is gaming really that different? The gamer is sitting, staring at a screen where avatars live the lives the gamer wishes he/she could have. The similarity, however, ends there. The gamer is the writer and director of the story, interacting with people from around the world through the miracle of our generation: the Internet: Interactive entertainment, at the cost of an Internet connection and likely a monthly fee for access to the game of choice.

It's all escapism.

Some may find it disturbing that gamers sometimes actually do find a potential mate while playing a game. Still, the first face-to-face meeting of the couple really isn't that different from the meeting of a couple going on a blind date...excet that the couple is already deeply acquainted with one another. These gaming couples are not only meeting during the film, they are living together, marrying, and having babies, all while gaming.

How do non-gamers meet new people? Through church, maybe? A sports club? Or a dance club? It was pointed out in the documentary that meeting someone online seems far safer than meeting them in the real world. After all, a woman really can't be a victim of date rape in a virtual setting, can she? I suppose it's only a matter of time before that sad reality becomes a virtual reality, as well.

One segment revealed the lives of people who are differently-abled. These games certainly give them a new and vital way to communicate and associate with the world. On the other side of the coin, the dark side, as it were, we are witness to the rise of a new kind of addiction: gaming addiction. We are privy to the rehabilitation attempts of a young man who has lost literally everything he owns, except for his computer, his internet connection, and electricity.

So...the truth of it: Life, virtual or otherwise, is what you make of it. It is encouraging that these human beings are reaching out to others even while enjoying their hobby/obsession. It sounds to me like many of them have entered into long-term relationships, even commitments, because of the activities that have taken place in Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games.

I must confess...I am biased about it all: I am a gamer going way back. I even count my days as a pinball player, in middle school. From there, I graduated to Pong, and then to Pac Man. Ever onward and upward, it wasn't really that long before I had my very own Nintendo. And on and on it went, to include Diablo; Diablo 2; Dark Age of Camelot; World of Warcraft; Everquest 2; Matrix Online; Star Wars Galaxies; City of Heroes; Lord of the Rings; Second Life; and IMVU. Really, to be honest, IMVU is more of a 3d chat program, ad Second Life is more of a 3d creative environment.

Four and a half years ago I went off the deep end, like one of the women in the film, met a man. He moved 1800 miles to be with me, and now we're engaged. I must say that, without a doubt, we are soul mates, and we are very, very happy. And...We rarely game. We also don't watch much TV except for the occasional Hulu show or You Tube. But we still play, oh yes we do! Just not "in world" any more. And really...we don't miss it.

To quote Willy Wonka: "We are the music makers...and we are the dreamers of dreams."

Friday, July 17, 2009

Rolling Thunder Roads

Once upon a time, in a kingdom not so far away, there lived a small girl. There was nothing particularly special about the girl, except for her tiny, turned-up nose…and her long, lustrous, pink hair…and her oddly cheerful disposition.

The small girl would skip around her home each morning, smiling brightly and practically singing, “Hello!” to each person she encountered. Oh, and there were a great many people in the small girl’s home…for she lived in a palace, and she was a princess.

Her name was Princess Palemoon.

“Good morning, Princess Palemoon,” would come the reply…from Maid, or Cook, or Butler…

“Good morning, Your Highness,” would come the reply….from Groomsman, or Gardner, or the boy who swept the stalls.

Princess Palemoon was particularly fond of that boy, the one who swept the stalls. The stable boy had come to them alone, his parents dead in a terrible fire. He didn’t seem like a stable boy. He was more like a Prince, waiting to discover his Kingdom.

The boy’s name was Lawrence, but he was called Lumpy, for he delighted in the lumpy tapioca Cook made each First Day.

Finally, Cook would call Princess Palemoon to breakfast, and oh, what a delicious spectacle it would be. Cream and cakes and crumpets with melted butter. Warm cheese to spread, if she liked.

“When will the King and Queen return home?” asked the wee, little child as she sat in her chair, feet dangling and swinging with enthusiasm. “I do miss them so!”

“Soon,” was all that Cook would say, “Soon, child. Now eat your breakfast, then go out and play.”

Princess Palemoon was not like other princesses. She was always cheerful, never cross. She was independent, never clingy. She was kind to all those around her, even the dogs, and cats, and cows. Princess Palemoon was most definitely a special little girl, or so Cook and all the other Palace staff thought. The truth was that she was not just special…she was exceptional. But more about that later…

The Palace grounds were vast, and surrounded by a deep moat. While the King and Queen were away, the draw bridge was kept in the “up” position, for there was nothing to do but wait for their return. It was only lowered in the morning when the Milk Maids took the cows out to graze, and once again in the evening when they returned.

No matter. There were plenty of things to do on the vast, Palace grounds.

On this particular morning, Princess Palemoon thought it would be quite an adventure to visit the Fishers down by the moat. The Fishers were responsible for providing dinner’s meat, of which Cook would create a beautiful feast.

The sun shone brightly, making the Princess’ locks glisten as she bounced and flounced down the hill towards that “sweet spot” of which the Fishers found so much to speak. She could count 5 men lounging on the shore with poles in the water, bobbins bobbing. Just as she arrived, one of the Fishers yanked his pole, and out flew a very peculiar-looking fish.

“Good morning!” sang Princess Palemoon. The Fishers not meaning to be rude did not even answer for they were taken with the appearance of the peculiar-looking fish.

“Oy, ‘tis a bad omen, this,” declared the red-haired Fisher who wore the green vest. “Throw it back, and let’s move to a different spot. This one’s all fished-out.”

“Ay, yer right,” moaned his son, also with red-hair, but no vest. The vest would be his soon enough, when his da’ had enough of fish and poles, and bobbers. The green vest was used to signify which of the men was in charge.

The elder Fisher labored to remove the oddity from the younger’s hook. “Now, c’mon there. Let go o’ that worm,” he coaxed. “It’d be better fer ya if ya find yerself anudder meal.”

He continued to struggle, each of the Fishers observing this with humor. “May hap she wants a groom t’ find,” joked one who wore a red vest. The red vest meant this Fisher was the one who was to clean the fish, cutting off their heads and scraping out their guts. “Here, give ‘er here. I know just what t’ do,” he said menacingly, placing his hand on the hilt of the machete-like knife he kept tucked in his belt.

“Nay, don’t harm her!” exclaimed Princess Palemoon. “She’s a right beauty. Look how the sun reflects off her scales…where did she come from?” This question was one that ran through all the Fishers’ minds as well, for no fish of this kind lived in these parts…no. This fish was one such as lived near the sea.

“Here, Beauty, come now. Give us that worm…” The fish still refused to give up her prize.

Princess Palemoon reached out towards the fish, wanting to stroke the beautiful scales. Just as she did, the fish opened her tiny mouth and spit out the worm…into the hand of the Princess.

She heard the green-vested Fisher hiss.

“Oy, there now, Princess Palemoon,” said the elder red-haired Fisher. “Ye oughtn’t interfere.”

Princess Palemoon held up the worm for inspection, turning it this way and that. “Little worm, little worm, you swam into the wrong mouth!” She smiled and returned the worm to the tin where it could squirm and writhe with its mates.

The red-haired Fisher was leaning to return the beautiful fish to the depths of the moat.

“Wait!” sang Princess Palemoon…”Here, I have something special for her…” and she pulled from the pocket of her apron a juicy plumb, and just as quickly, she popped it into the fish’s mouth. “You’ll like that much better.”

The fish flipped it’s tail and fell into the water, swishing into the darkness of the moat. Princess Palemoon watched as the glistening scales disappeared.

“Run on now, Princess,” suggested the younger red-haired Fisher, “or we’ll be catching an octopus next!” The men laughed, and Princess Palemoon waved then skipped away towards the gardens.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

too much

Too much.

Too much, he says, you think too much
Too much about living,
Too much about dying.


Too much

Don’t think so much, it’s simple.

Simple to live…simple to die.


Don’t think.


Saturday, July 4, 2009


What did he say?

"What did you say?"

My mind flails about, attempting to comprehend Horses
galloping through meadows of self-described countryside.

He couldn't...he wouldn't...

He did. He is. He was...

Thoughts rush, wind through trees in late summer storm,
reality buried in my soul's fertile soil, torn from the roots of my mind.

"Please tell me it's not true! Take it back!" scream I (on the inside).

I know this isn't it?

Two hands, my hands wet hands, washcloths wrung by a man's words.
He tells me with lips, tongue, breath, given of God.

"He's dead."

No. No, he's so much more...

I remember.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I am stretched out…
Not resting, as some might think
But waiting for that moment
when I stop.
Will it come with pain, with shaking,
With numbness?
Will I just stop?
Just stop.
Trouble is, someone might notice,
Or someone might not.
Just stop.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The First Step

As I entered my eleventh year of primary education, I made a decision that would change my life: I applied to be an exchange student.

The selection process started in September 1977 with an expression of interest to my school guidance counselor. I was then interviewed by a committee, after which I was given a 17-page application to fill out. By the time I was done with the paperwork, I had something that would have filled a small three-ring binder. This application was delivered to the regional AFS representatives, who in turn conducted a lengthy interview with each candidate and a parent.

Up until this point there had been a lot of discussion between my parents and myself with regard to the country to which I may be assigned. You see, in the AFS program of the 1970s, students were never allowed to choose their country of temporary residence: They were assigned according to availability of host families and compatibility of the student. This is what we were told. Still, we could not help but discuss the possible location to which I might be sent.

Candidates were provided a list of locations to which AFS was currently sending students. I was a deeply religious young woman, and I very much wanted to visit the Middle East. The only country in the region that was on the list of approved locations was Jordan. I told my mother I wanted to go to Jordan and she flipped. She said that I would not under any circumstances be allowed to go to Jordan: too dangerous. I argued that it must be safe if it was on the list, but she was adamant. So I started examining other countries listed.

AFS had opportunities globally: Asia, Europe, South America, Central America, Australia, Greenland, the islands of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans...even Mexico and Canada were possibilities. Evan though I knew we weren't allowed to choose our destination, I still gave a lot of thought to the possibilities. If I was going to another country to learn about culture and international understanding, then I hoped that it would be exotic and enormously different from what I was used to. India was at the top of my list. Next, I thought Greece would be amazing with its history and culture. Last I thought Australia because it is so vast, and yet so few people live there.

I was green-lighted for the regional interview, so on a chilly autumn evening my dad and I set out for Osceola, Iowa, where the interviews were being held. All told, the trip there and back was an hour and a half, and the interview itself was about an hour. I remember this brief trip very fondly because it was one of the few times I did something just with my dad.

The AFS representatives encouraged me to not only apply for the summer program, but also for the 11-month program. We followed their instructions and I applied for both programs. What we didn't know was that summer candidates were selected first. Once a candidate had been selected, their application was pulled from the process. Therefore I would not be considered for the 11-month program if I was selected for the summer program.

Right before Christmas of 1977 I found out that I had been selected to be a summer semester International Exchange Student Program through AFS. Even though I wouldn't be going for the more lengthy program, I was overjoyed just to have been given the chance to be an exchange student. But...I wouldn't know where I was going until May!

The next four months were among the slowest in my life. I thought I'd probably end up going to Canada. Knowing the way things went for me, I'd be within a stone's throw of the Canadian-American border. That, however, was not to be.

I was lucky to be given 4 weeks leeway in finding out the destination of my journey: At the beginning of May, I found out that I was going to Australia. Australia...isn't that where they have kangaroos and billabongs? Don't they wear lopsided hats and live in the "outback" (whatever that is)?

Truth be told, I really didn't know much about Australia--but I was about to find out. I had been selected by the American Field Service (AFS) as one of the 48 students in 1978 to represent the US in schools all over "Land Down Under". I was 17.

(to be continued...)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Remembering Sherrie

Once long ago, the small girl fit into a drawer at night to sleep. No crib, so they made due; a drawer, in reach of sleeping mother, easily accessible but safe.

The girl got older, and could not be protected with such ease as she stepped out into the world. When she fell into some nasty, rusty wiring, she was not so small any more. As the blood poured from her leg, mother bundled her like the baby once more and ran...ran about a mile to the doctor. The car was inaccessible that day, and so she ran, remembering the babe who once had lain in the drawer, so easily accessible and safe.

The girl got older still, and could not be protected with such ease as she herself ran...and ran, and ran. Fleet of foot and full of grace, she ran for competition. She'd twist an ankle out there running, and come limping home. Mother held her as she cried, finding her feet would not carry her, at least for a little while. But she was home now, and mother would take care of her, make sure everything she needed was easily accessible for the daughter she loved: the radio, a can of pop, some suntan oil. She would lay out in the sun, warm: safe, at least for now.

When the pretty girl, whom by now was loved by all who knew her, got into a car that night after a meet, mother thought, 'No, not so easily accessible but safe--safe with him; he'll keep her safe.'

But he didn't.

Car crashed.

She died.


And now, she lays in a nearby grave; sleeping, so easily accessible...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Trek versus Terminator

Taken from Facebook entry on Sunday, May 24, 2009

At 7:00 on my 48th birthday, William took me to see Star Trek in an Imax theater. Seated with us were about 298 of our closest friends. As we munched on hot, buttery popcorn and slurped softdrinks through straws, we cheered, we laughed, we cried, we boo'd...we did, one and all, thoroughly enjoy the film. Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Chekov, Bones, and Scotty were embodied by different actors from those with which we were familiar, and yet there was a certain familiarity still...they did not parody, but actually became those whom they were representing on the screen, carrying us away into an alternate universe of thrills and knuckle-biting, with just a few bits of humor thrown in for good measure.

Some fans and critics have said this new Star Trek contains none of the social statements found in earlier installments of the mega-franchise, but I noted a new statement never formerly broached by the writers: That of the differences it makes to grow up in a single-parent home. In the original story, James Tiberius Kirk grew up in a home with two parents. His father stood proudly by as he watched his son's commissioning as captain of the famed USS Enterprise NCC-1701, a Constitution Class starship. In the new film, Jim Kirk grows up as the child of a single mother, perhaps acquiring a step-father at some point. He gets into trouble with the law at a young age, and by the time he should have been entering Star Fleet Academy, he was picking fights with Cadets at a local bar in Riverside, Iowa, just for kicks. At the urging of a Star Fleet officer who wrote about the ill-fated "father" Kirk, this young Kirk joins Star Fleet. Ultimately, he receives a field promotion to Captain while the ship is being held by a Romulan mining vessel from the future. The social comment: How life is different for those who grow up in single-parent homes.

I do believe the film delivers: I give it a whopping 5 stars (on a 5-star scale), finding it to be just about perfect. Not only did Director JJ Abrams deliver to a hungry fan base a film that could be relished over and over, but he provided the meat and potatoes that would fulfill the newcomer to the Universe of Star Trek.

Two days ago, William and I attended the first Friday showing of another long-anticipated science fiction offering: Terminator Salvation. With regard to this film, dear reading, I have one piece of advice--wait for the DVD. The acting was flat, the story was shallow, and the special effects were bland. Come on!!! We waited 6 years for this! Couldn't you have given us something with at least a story that fit and was befitting a sequel to the original film? This was a chance to show us that John Conner of which Kyle Reese spoke; that man who inspired the last remnant of humanity to rise up and fight, turning the tide of the war in favor of mankind. Instead, we got a grizzly-voiced Kyle Reese played by Christian Bale, and a Kyle Reese who was actually more inspiring, played by wide-eyed Anton Yelchin (whom I found to be about the only redeeming quality in the film).

I wanted to like the Terminator film...I really did. Instead, I sat in a full theater which suffered from a heaviness...nobody cheered, laughed, cried, or even boo'd. The movie fell flat. At the end, people practically bolted from their seats to get out of the theater before the credits rolled. Spare yourself...don't waste your money on this mess.

One star.

OK, so that painful bit of prose behind me, I must point out one interesting thing the two films have in common: Russian-born American actor, Anton Viktorovich Yelchin. This is the same fella who plays the 17-year-old Pavel Andreievich Chekov in the Star Trek film! Yep, the kid from Hearts in Atlantis has two films in the box office at the same time! Way to go, man. I hope we see more great things from you in the future.

So, there you have it. Star Trek is a must-see (preferably on a big screen, about 5 rows back, in the center), and Terminator is one for the dusty DVD shelf. Do you disagree? Hey, that's your right.

- Palemoon Twilight

Special Note: At the time of this publication, the author has seen Star Trek four times, and still can't find anything of which to complain...except maybe, actually quite disheartenedly, Spock's ears. You see, the elder Spock very obviously has detached earlobes, while the younger Spock has attached ear lobes. Hrmmm...Nature versus nurture?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

l'heure bleue

GrĂ¼ss Gott.'s often thought of as that hour between sunset and dusk; neither daytime nor night; neither light nor dark. The French have a pretty phrase for it: l'heure bleue, or "the blue hour". During twilight, Sister Moon sometimes shines pale from the heavens, unable or unwilling to give us her full light for fear she may insult the sun. It is a time often thought of as magical, when faeries and lightening bugs emerge from the bliss of sleep and romp about with frivolous abandon until they fall exhausted into the grass...waiting for the next blue hour.

My life has often seemed like a moment waiting to happen, the actor waiting in the wings, the diver standing on the platform, a child waiting for the mailman to deliver that anticipated sent-for item, a loved one waiting for the doctor to emerge from the operating room. You know that feeling: poised for a moment that will change everything...or nothing at all. Once the moment comes, things are never the same...sometimes. Yes, my life has often seemed like it was comprised of nothing but these moments--as if I were on the precipice of some very anticipated event. And so I pay homage to the faeries dancing in the dew during that very special moment, l'heure bleue.

It is from this viewpoint that I am often blindsided by even more spectacular events than the blue hour--the moment of the Black Swan. For centuries, Europeans thought that swans came in only one color: white. However, during an 18th century expedition of Western Australia, it was discovered that swans do come in another color: black. Inexplicable! Impossible! And yet here it was, right before their very eyes: a black swan.This original Black Swan Event has been used to describe the theory that the impossible may not always be unattainable. Black Swan Events must meet three criteria: 1) It must be a surprise; 2) It must have major impact (either positive or negative...or even both); and 3) It becomes rationalized after the event, as if it had been expected. Examples of Black Swan events include the emergence of the Internet in the 1980s, and the terrible tragedy that took place in New York City on September 11, 2004.

In memory, we often are unable to separate the events in our own lives from the events occurring around us at any particular point in time, especially if the events are Black Swans. Because of this, you might hear someone say, "I got married in 1985, the weekend after the Space Shuttle Challenger accident," or "They visited in 1993, right around the time of the Great Flood." It seems to be part of the human experience to relate to time this way. This blog will contain a monologue of my own experiences woven with those of our nation and the world around us.

I look forward to sharing my life, ideas, insights, joys, and pain with you. I hope you find something here to take away, and I invite your comments, questions, and feedback as we embark together on this journey.

- Palemoon Twilight