his dream coming true

He tells the story, here, of how his dream began at age 5:

……when everyone else was answering “policeman” or “fireman” or “doctor” to the question of what they wanted to be when they grew up, my first real answer was that I wanted to be an “outer space moving van driver”, helping (and this part was very specific) families to move into orbiting space stations…..

Well, as he goes on to explain,

Needless to say, I never did become an outer space moving van driver. Nor did I end up in space science in any fashion whatsoever. Or, indeed, in any field of science at all. (For that matter, I don’t even drive.)

But the exploration of space, whether by human or machine, has since that early memory of film fiction [2001: A Space Odyssey] been a consistent source of inspiration, and the realities of that exploration over the decades since have made me both cheer and weep over what’s possible when men and women strive for something (is there any other word for it?) awesome.

Now my son has a chance to witness, in person, the launch of the shuttle Endeavor on April 19 as one of 150 people selected from all over the world and hosted by NASA, as explained in the following

NASA will host a two-day Tweetup for 150 of its Twitter followers on April 18-19 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Space shuttle Endeavour is targeted to launch at 7:48 p.m. EDT on April 19, on its STS-134 mission to the International Space Station.

The Tweetup will provide @NASA followers with the opportunity to tour the center, view the shuttle launch and speak with NASA managers, astronauts, shuttle technicians and engineers. The event also will provide participants the opportunity to meet fellow tweeps and NASA’s social media team.

He’s been invited. And, yes, he’s excited.

Now he has to find the money for air fare and housing. While he’s in the middle of discussions with his fellow invitees regarding how to share expenses, he will still have costs that, unemployed as he is at the moment, he can’t afford to pay for.

But he is an active citizen of the Net, and, as such, he’s put himself out there to ask for help from those who know him and can’t wait to see what he reports and photographs as he lives out his dream.

He says:

Please consider donating to my trip fund for this experience. Anything raised in excess of funds required to cover trip expenses will be donated to Mercy Corps for Japan earthquake relief and recovery.

Yes, I’m donating, as is his sister, and, hopefully other family members and friends.

b!X needs a break. A job would be great too, but in the meanwhile, a chance to be at Cape Canaveral on April 18 and 19 is the closest he’s ever going to get to having his childhood dream come true. And, on top of that, as he tweeted:

This trip will happen three years almost to the day since my Dad died. He would have thought this was the most awesome thing ever.

And a note to my friends and family:

I’m sure that you will never have a chance to give him a wedding gift, so how about donating a few bucks to this adventure, which will no doubt be the highlight of his life.

To donate online, go to https://www.wepay.com/donate/197774.

The Whole Truth

We never really know the whole truth, we ordinary people who try to survive in a context over which we have no control. We try to follow the trail of newsworthy events, forgetting that news and histories are written — well, by whoever writes it all up.

And, sometimes acknowledged fiction writers, creating a fictional story line, seem to come closer to the truth than what we are fed as the truth.

The Whole Truth, David Baldacci’s 2008 international intrigue novel, might have a story line metaphorically closer to the truth than what we are being fed by the “news. There is a character that might well be an (only slightly exaggerated) embodiment of the Koch Brothers and a story line that takes the premise farther than Wag the Dog.

One commentary piece that everyone should read that accurately and succinctly gets to some of the bottom-line truths about what’s happening in America today is Ronni Bennett’s (Time Goes By) post, “Something’s Happening Here.”

She supports the following statement with factual links and graphs:

Although citizens of the U.S. are not detained, imprisoned, tortured, executed or shot in the streets as in some Arab countries, we are nonetheless oppressed. Our government, in long-time cahoots with the corporate elite, started decades before this current financial crisis to steal for themselves all but the shirts on our backs.

And, in addressing the incendiary situation in Wisconsin, she says what I hope lots of us are thinking:

If I am right about what they and their supporters are doing, the protests will spread throughout the land, particularly when the weather warms up in a few weeks. Massive street protests are the only power we the people have left against the corporate/government plutocracy.

God, I hope I’m right, that these people are the vanguard of what is coming. If so, it will be a long and bitter struggle against Mr. Jones, but I don’t see an alternative. We must fight back even if, in the end, we lose.

They’re doing it in the Middle East, setting a standard for the value of human rights and freedom,

Of course, in Baldacci’s novel, there’s a “hero” who determinedly figures it all out.

But we have no heroes. We only have ourselves.

The History of the Universe
as Told By Wonder Woman

The production of an independent film, titled above, depends on the filmmakers raising $10,000 by the end of the month. As a Wonder Woman fan since 1957, I’m looking forward to seeing this film, and I even donated. You can too.

This is how the filmmakers describe their project:

The goal of the film is to explore how female heroes have fared in popular culture. We’re using Wonder Woman as the central figure in this story, as she’s the rare example of a female hero who doesn’t require rescue and determines her own actions and adventures. The film not only serves as an inquiry into our evolving values about women as agents of strength, authority and leadership, but also reminds us of our common need — no matter our gender, race, class or sexual orientation — for stories that tell us we can all be heroes.

You can donate as little as a dollar or as much as you want. $35 or more gets you a free signed DVD of the completed movie. Watch the trailer. You’ll be hooked.

it helps to have a hero

He goes off to the dentist today to have a baby tooth pulled, armed with his light saber, one back leather-gloved hand, and his face marked with a “scar” like Star Wars Anakin in Clone Wars.

“May the Force be with you,” I call to him as he marches out the door with his mother. We give each other a “thumbs-up.”

It’s interesting that of all the Star Wars characters, he identifies with this permutation of Jedi Knight Anakin, who is caught up in the fight between good and evil within himself.

My grandson, Lex, is an unusual seven-year old, with an understanding of human and historical complexities and an adult sense of humor. Cliche though it is, he lights up my life.

For example, as my daughter reports on Facebook:

Quick science review — Me: “Lex, what do mammals have that no other animals have?” Lex: “Um…a good sense of dancing?”

(As a homeschooler, Lex knows the right answer to that question; he has explained it to me many times, pedantically showing me pictures of whales giving birth.)

Before he left for the dentist, I gave him a Lego minifig of Luke Skywalker. When he comes back, he will find Lego minifigs of young Anakin and Obi Wan Kenobi added to his collection. (The minifig of Clone Wars Anakin in is the mail.)

The challenge for us all, and Lex already recognizes this, is to not let the dark side in each of us win.

May the Force be with you.

ADDENDUM: Lex is back from the dentist, where he wound up losing two baby teeth. But the Force was with him, and he’s dealing with it all like the hero he wants to be.

a movie for the aged and the ages

Take a grandchild to the movies and go and see Up.

It was supposed to thunderstorm this afternoon, so we figured we’d all go see a movie that we all might enjoy. And we did.

A Walter Mathau look-alike (voiced by Ed Asner) literally animated Carl Fredricksen is my new hero, and if you wear dentures, creak when you get out of bed, and wish for adventures you never had, you’ll love him too. He brings a refreshing understanding and appreciation of elderly people (with those continually growing noses and ears and those increasingly sagging jawlines and shoulders) who struggle not to be overwhelmed by a world that often seems to be leaving them behind.

In some ways, my almost-seven-year-old grandson saw a little different movie than I did, but that’s OK. I mean, when I laughed at Carl’s dentures flying out when he spit at the villain, it was for a reason much more personal than my grandson’s giggle.

But we both did see a movie about a feisty (and sometimes crotchety) old guy and a fumbling, eager kid who, together, grapple with many of their obstacles to making ordinary life an adventure. And they succeed.

“Up.” Definitely and “up” movie.

old remedies, old bones

I’m back in the place I left. Blood sometimes takes away the choice.

Plans hardly ever go as planned around here. New roofs sag, ceilings get cracks, seeds planted and nurtured succumb to frost, walls never get painted.

My plan for this trip to visit my mother was to help a new live-in aide acclimate to my mother and to this forsaken place. But, after an on-site interview, the aide changed her plans and is not coming after all. I can’t say I blame her. It would take a kind of frontierswoman personality to take on the situation here.

So, I’m here, instead to nurse my mother through some kind of sore throat. Or cold. The doctor said it is not strep.

She can’t seem to swallow pills any more, so I’m giving her liquid Tylenol. There are two bottles here, one is labeled “sore throat relief” and the other is “rapid blast.” The ingredients of both are identical. I guess the marketing ploy works, because here I am with two separate bottles when one would do When she wakes up at night, I make her tea with lemon and honey..

I am making a big pot of chicken soup. A whole chicken. Five cloves of garlic. Lots of carrots and celery. A parsnip and a turnip and onions. I wanted to put fresh parsley in the for Vitamin C, but the grocery store was out of parsley. Something to do with Easter and eggs, I’m supposing. I will cook the soup for hours and, hopefully, she will drink the broth.

She hurts all over. Our bones are tired.

I miss my grandson, he of the wall of hats, one of which belonged to my dad and is over a half-century old. Here he is, wearing it, acting out scenes for Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium

From my daughter’s post on Facebook: Mr. Magorium: “You don’t have to be happy that I am leaving. All I ask is that you turn the page, keep reading, and let the next story begin. And when someone asks, tell them my story, with all its wonder, and end it, simply, ‘he died’.”


remembering “Song of the South”

I’m thinking of one of my favorite childhood memories, as a result of the post today on Time Goes By where there are mentions of many of the songs that were the playlist for the first decade of my life.

I can remember being about 8 or 9 years old. It is a warm, sunny summer day, and my cousin Dianne and are holding hands, skipping down Chestnut Street and singing
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay
My, oh my what a wonderful day!
Plenty of sunshine heading my way
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay

Mister Bluebird on my shoulder
It’s the truth, it’s actch’ll
Ev’rything is satisfactch’ll

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay
Wonderful feeling, wonderful day!

It is one of those days when all seems right with the world. My cousin, ten months younger than I, is my best friend. Our mothers, who are sisters, often dress us alike. We have a close extended family. World War II is over. Rationing has finally ended, and we have just seen the Disney movie Song of the South — the first Disney movie that featured live characters interacting with animated ones.

–the simple, heart-warming story of a boy, a girl, and the person of Uncle Remus himself, who becomes a living personality. Set in the nostalgic memorable days of the late nineteenth century, the story enacted by the living players take place on a lovely Southern plantation. It is a deeply moving, romantic account of a lonely and bewildered boy, left to his own devices when his father, an aggressive Atlanta newspaper editor, is caught between domestic responsibility and political challenge

At least that’s how the Disney camp described it at the time. And, at the time, it enchanted me. Uncle Remus (the live, storytelling character) was a poor man, an old man, and a black man in a post Civil War America that offered few opportunities for him to better his life. Uncle Remus enchanted me with his humor, his compassion, his wisdom, his wonderful animal stories, his optimism.

The animal stories were conveyed in a manner in which they were not deemed as ostensibly racist by many among the audiences of the time; by the mid-20th century, however, the dialect and the “old Uncle” stereotype of the narrator, long considered demeaning by many blacks, as well as Harris’ [the author] racist and patronizing attitudes toward blacks and his defense of slavery in his foreword, rendered the book indefensible to many. Without much controversy the stories became less popular.

Several years back, some people began to think that it’s time to bring back the Song of the South, bring it to a much different audience, an audience that lived through the Civil Rights movement, an audience that celebrates Black History Month, an audience that can view the Song of the South through the lens of history.

Those who have criticized “Song of the South” have claimed that it makes slavery appear pleasant or pretends that slavery didn’t exist at all. Nevermind the film is set in the years following the abolition of slavery. I always have thought the movie offers a good, honest representation of the lives that some black Americans lived in a time that really existed.

I would love to see Song of the South again. I’d love to see it with my grandson, who has grown up without being hampered by old stereotypes. I’ll bet he would love Uncle Remus for the kind and entertaining man he is. At least he is, still, on the disintegrating film locked up somewhere in Disney’s vault.

So, I’m signing this petition to get the film released on DVD.

Here’s a look at Uncle Remus and his pals.

the anti-woman new Wicker Man

I saw the original Wicker Man in the mid-seventies. It was by far the most gut-clenching film I’ve ever seen. From here::

The Wicker Man is a cult 1973 British film combining thriller, horror and musical, directed by Robin Hardy and written by Anthony Shaffer. The film stars Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Diane Cilento, Ingrid Pitt and Britt Ekland. Paul Giovanni composed the soundtrack, a recording cited as a major influence on neofolk and psych folk artists.

The original Wicker Man film focused on an island population of pagans that included both men and women — all of whom were engaged in determining what was to befall the “hero.” I remember that the film was steeped in a ancient eroticism as the members of that island population struggled to find their balance between all of those natural forces of opposites.

The new Wicker Man is devoid of male-female tension and eroticism of any kind; the pagan population is totally female (except for a few drones). The new version attributes only to women the chthonic spirit that the original movie rightly attributed to all people who followed the pagan ways. The unspoken message to us in these times is “watch out when those women take over” especially those females who find personal strength in the mythic histories of their gender. They are dangerous. They will destroy you.

The primal darkness in all of us is a powerful and dangerous force. The original Wicker Man captured that terrifying power. The new Wicker Man is a weakened and distorted version of what was once a truly horrifying tale.
(Side note: The star of the original Wicker Man was Edward Woodward. In the new version, the name of the “hero” is Edward Woodward.)

I don’t know if you can rent the 1970s Wicker Man, but you can buy it here.

It’s worth the price.

Assassination Christmas


It’s Christmas. I just finished watching The Bourne Supremacy and made my mother some chicken soup, since she’s got what looks like a tooth abcess — swollen jaw and pain and on an antibiotic prescribed by her dentist after I called him at home early on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve I spent reading Hunter’s Moon, a paperback escapist novel that defies categorizing, but does feature an assassin who is a werewolf and a female who hires him to kill her because her mother is driving her crazy and she can’t bring herself to be mean to her mean mother.

Aha. A pattern here, bizarre though it might be.

A month or so ago, I rented Assassination Tango, a movie that deserves a lot more than the little attention it got. Robert Duvall made my mouth water. Perhaps there’s a little werewolf in me.

Loveable assassins. Wishful thinking?

That mesmerizing flow of light and dark. That dancing with your demons and stepping fast to keep your balance. Life with adventure, sweet danger, passion, power.

No dancing here for me this Christmas, though. Just fantasy assassins with heart.