I bow to Betty

betty

The image above was created by Vicki Howell of “I Love To Create” as part of her tribute to Betty White, who co-hosts Saturday Night Live tonight.

At 88, Betty White has achieved a resurgence in popularity and a whole new persona, and the reasons for her current icon status are aptly explained here.

That’s why I was surprised when, linking around from my son’s tweets several weeks ago, I wound up at an article (which I can no longer locate) by a young-ish female criticizing White for the very charms that attract the rest of us. I guess, for that young writer, older women should be sweet, non-intrusive, and very well-mannered. I guess she never read Jenny Joseph’s famous poem “Warning,” which begins When I am old I shall wear purple…

Betty White is a perfect role model for those of us elders who still value sass and surprises.

I bow to Betty.

Betty rules the age; Dixie dies too soon.

At 88 years of age, Betty White still rocks and rules, and she demonstrated on Craig Ferguson’s Late Late Show the other night. I hope I can be a sharp as she is in another 18 years.

At exactly my age, Dixie Carter succumbed to cancer earlier this week. I never missed a performance of her Julia Sugarbaker on Designing Women.

Dixie Carter and Julia Sugarbaker. Gone but not forgotten.

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.

almost as immorally nuts as GOPers

I gave up raging over the mess that the GOP so-called “leaders” have been making of my country. It seems like too many of the people on this planet are hell-bent on helping with the demise of sense and sanity.

All of the following are excerpts from this week’s Harper’s Weekly Review, where you can find documentation and a citation for each of these discomfitting reports.

A Walmart in New Jersey asked all black people to leave.

An Ohio man told police that since January he’s been sucker-punching little children at his local Walmart for thrills.

A Kentucky man was charged with wanton endangerment after he got drunk and put his five-week-old son to bed in an oven.

Wachovia Bank was fined $50 million, and required to remit a further $110 million, for laundering funds for Mexican cocaine cartels.

A Swedish report found that the United Arab Emirates is now the fourth-largest importer of weapons in the world.

Dutch officials repudiated a claim by U.S. general and former NATO commander John Sheehan that the gayness of the Dutch army had rendered it unable to defend Srebrenica against the Serbs.

Pope Benedict XVI wrote a letter to Ireland to apologize for the sexual abuse of children by Church leaders.

A lawyer in Oregon was planning to release the Boy Scouts’ “perversion files,” a secret archive of 1,000 documents identifying Scout molesters.

A cable network in North Carolina played two hours of porn on the Kids On Demand channel.

Then there’s the “a little nuts but not immoral” category:

Members of the Winnemem Wintu Indian tribe traveled from California to New Zealand to beg forgiveness of the salmon.

Mexican police were praying to spirits and sacrificing chickens to protect themselves from drug lords.

The Vatican was investigating the daily appearances in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, of the Virgin Mary, who is crowned with stars and floats upon a cloud.

Indian politicians wanted to ban both black magic and Lindsay Lohan.

Finally, neither nuts nor immoral, and maybe a good idea — especially since I haven’t been able to wear my removable bridge because my gums are swollen:

A Bavarian baby-food company said it was planning to market its product to adults who dislike chewing.

Makes you just want to break out in song, doesn’t it?

Stop the World I Want to Get Off

and

Stop the World I Want to Get Off

and

Stop the World I Want to Get Off

all that’s wrong

From The Narcissus Society by Roger Cohen in the NY Times:

Community — a stable job, shared national experience, extended family, labor unions — has vanished or eroded. In its place have come a frenzied individualism, solipsistic screen-gazing, the disembodied pleasures of social networking and the à-la-carte life as defined by 600 TV channels and a gazillion blogs. Feelings of anxiety and inadequacy grow in the lonely chamber of self-absorption and projection.

[Be sure to read the rest of the above piece.]

And that’s just the “little picture.” Add the above to the stonewalling of the RIGHT(eous) GOP that is preventing what is supposed to be our “big picture” government from fixing what it can, and we wind up with an American society that has too much wrong because it has too much RIGHT(eous).

I have never felt so powerless to affect the big picture.

Maybe we need a real Luke Skywalker so that this Empire can Strike Back.

why I love my iphone

I wasn’t sure that I was up to learning any new technology tricks (being almost 70 and just about managing to blog successfully), but I invested in an iphone and its expensive upkeep in a moment of brash consumerism.

But the damned thing has got me hooked.

Away on vacation in Maine for the past four days without a computer and wifi, I had the time and inclination to figure out just how useful my iphone might be.

Of course, there’s the camera, and I knew I would make good use of that feature. If there were a “panorama” app I might have been able to get both the beginning and the end of the rainbow which started on land and went out into the sea, but I can live with what I did get.

rainbow

The “night camera” app I downloaded before we left enabled to me get some decent photos indoors without a flash.

My “Facebook” app enabled me to upload a couple of photos to keep my friends apprised of the good time I was having while wishing they were there.

My most pleasant surprise in recognizing the helpfulness and ease of iphone use happened on the way out to Maine, when my grandson needed to go to the bathroom and we were all hungry for lunch. Because I was driving, my daughter downloaded a “fast food” app and we got directed to a McDonald’s off an exit a few miles from where we were on the road. How cool is that!

We ate out a lot, so the “tip calculator” would have come handy had not my son-in-law been able to figure it all out just as fast. (Actually, I did use the app just to check his accuracy. And because it was new and I wanted to test it out.)

Before I left for Maine, I downloaded a WordPress app so that I could post to my blog if I wanted to. I posted once, just to see if it would work. I’m used to typing text on a big keyboard, so it was a bit if a problem to use the little iphone one, but, obviously, it can be done. Since I don’t do text messaging (there’s no one I know to text message to), I’m still not used to the little keyboard. But it’s good to know that I can do a blog post if I want/need to.

Since we were in a rented cottage with limited television reception, my evenings were spent using my iphone to listen to the books on tape that I downloaded free from my local library, check in with Facebook, catch up with bloggers whom I follow, follow my son’s exploits on Twitter (I don’t belong to Twitter, but I can read his tweets), and obsessively play my “Bookworm” app game.

While I’m still feeling guilty about the $70 or so a month it costs to keep my iphone connected, at least I’m finding the little machine damned useful. It’s gotten to the point that I’m never without it.

Before the iphone, I had a TrakFone, which I rarely used, and several cheap mp3 players, some of which would not play the WMA audio book files from my library. The iphone covers it all and more.

There are still lots of features on the iphone that I haven’t tried, and I figure that I’ll get to them when I need them.

I have one major frustration at the moment with the iphone. I can’t hear what a caller is saying unless I put on the speaker. Maybe someone reading this can tell me where the hell the phone’s volume control is. I can make the ringer louder or softer, but the voice that’s coming over the phone is barely intelligible.

If I can fix that problem, my love affair with my iphone will be just about perfect.

so I think I can dance

“So you think you can dance” is what I’m watching on tv tonight. I miss the ballroom dancing I used to do so much that I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch any of the dance shows. I just feel too envious. Until now.

There is no point in my feeling envious, since there is no way I would have been ever able to do that amazing choreography. So I can objectively enjoy the dancing.

And starting in a week or so, I will finally have a chance to do some dancing of my own. I going to begin taking a “Zumba” dance exercise class once a week. I’m sure, given my tight muscles and back pains, I will be one of the slowest movers, but it’s a start.

So, we’ll see if I can still dance.

Joss Whedon:
a man who rights women

Actually, he “writes” women. And he writes them the right way — multi-faceted females who serve as role models for all genders. They are not perfect, but they struggle to do the right thing. They love and they war. They are strong and they are vulnerable and they make mistakes. And they’re smart. And they care.

Joss Whedon (whose new “Dollhouse” series has its female characters pushing even more boundaries than ever) is not a name I knew, even as I got wholeheartedly, back in the late 1990s, into the tv series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

Granted, at age 69, I’m not considered part of the demographics that would be drawn to teenage Buffy, but let’s face it: superlatively creative writing, clever humor, and a complex and spunky heroine should be appealing to all ages (at least those of all ages who still appreciate irreverent spunk and and still have some imaginative curiosity).

After Buffy, there was the short-lived and unique Firefly television series (and subsequent off-shoot movie, Serenity), which boasted several totally different female characters whose escapades explored just about every facet of the most compelling female archetypes. Oh, don’t get me wrong — the male characters were just as compelling, and I still have fantasies about Nathan Fillion (who is currently starring in the series Castle).

And that’s when I started noticing the name of Joss Whedon, writer, who is young enough to be my son and whose mother sure brought him up right. The more I learned about him, the more I liked him. I like him for what he writes and for how he thinks.

On April 11, he received the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism, addressing a crowd a Harvard with his customary honesty and humor. Watch this and you’ll be a Whedon fan too.

Whedon’s new series “Dollhouse” has not generated the audience that his fans hoped, and so, learning from the fate of the too-late-acclaimed “Firefly,” some of those fans are touting a WATCH DOLLHOUSE WEEK, beginning on Monday the 27th, to generate interest in having the series come back next season.

I’ve watched every episode of “Dollhouse” thus far, but I’m going to re-watch it all next week, recognizing that there are probably all sorts of subtle and quirky bits I probably missed the first time. There are always more to Whedon’s stories and diaglogues than it first seems.

In many ways, “Dollhouse” is framed differently from his other series, and this site provides a good analysis. Most important, I think, is the following paragraph from that piece.

One of Whedon’s perennial concerns is masculinity in a feminist era: if women are so powerful now, how are guys supposed to relate to them? It’s a good question, and one of the better themes a male writer can explore, if he’s willing to do it honestly. Whedon has offered solutions before but they’ve always been imperfect, because they haven’t addressed how pervasive gender inequality is, and how much we’re all complicit in it, how our thoughts and perceptions are informed by it from Day 1 simply because it is the context in which we live. In Dollhouse, he’s giving it deeper and more sustained focus than ever, and is more willing than ever to implicate masculinity: in parallel to the story of how the dolls work to reclaim their personhood, there’s the story of the people who take it away from them on a day-to-day basis, and how they justify their actions.

The idea of the “Dollhouse” has stirred some controversy among viewers and critics. For me, that’s even more reason to watch it.

Join me for Watch Dollhouse Week. You’re never to old to be a fan of a creative spirit like Joss Whedon.