Monday, December 28, 2015

Female Dogs Deserve Respect

I would like to propose that the word "bitch" be officially removed from words considered insults and inappropriate for polite speech. As I thumbed through at an art book today, I came across a magnificent painting of a Pomeranian Bitch. What a beautiful creature -- besides being a fine painting. And dogs as a class -- with few exceptions are far superior to human beings. When they are your friends, they will stand by you to the death. What dog pretends to love you and is a dirty dealer? And to pick on female dogs as being beneath our contempt? Has anyone watched a mother dog care for her young? Sorry, using the word as an insult just doesn't wash for me.

In the future, I can imagine using the word "bitch" as a compliment.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Of Men and War, a movie that will touch your heart

What's on my mind? I haven't been able to forget the powerful movie I saw last night at the Plaza Theater in Midtown: OF MEN AND WAR. It was written and directed by Laurent Becue Renard and Atlanta's own Izzidore Bethel. 

What a film -- more than a documentary -- intimate conversations with men who had been through the Iraq war and were still suffering serious PTSD. There were so many situations they encountered in battle that wouldn't leave them in peace after they returned home. 

Caring, thoughtful therapists have helped them cope so they could return to their homes and their families without being a danger to themselves or others. EVERYONE should see this.

Monday, October 26, 2015

A 52-Hertz Whale by Bill Sommer and Natalie Haney Tilghman

     Bill Sommer was selling his book at the Wherehouse this weekend and I HAD to have a copy. It has come highly recommended. And it was everything I expected -- and then some.
     Last night I was up until almost two in the morning. I couldn't put this book down and had to finish it. The format is so very clever. Emails go back and forth between several friends and lovers. It's like you're getting into your own email and you have to see who has written to you -- and what they have to say.
     There wasn't a single soft spot where the plot slowed down or left me wanting. I began to know these people -- could have recognized them if I saw them on the street.
     One of the characters is a documentary film maker. I've been there, know the territory and really could sympathize. And who hasn't been through high school? Enough said, right?
    The development of these characters is brilliant. And the idea of two writers sending their contributions back and forth and building up the suspense -- never have seen anything like it.
    Thank you Bill -- and thank you Natalie. A great read.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Long Road to Wisdom

Book Review: "Learning to eat along the way" by Margaret Bendet

      This is a no holds barred book. Margaret Bendet bared her soul. Turning the pages and staying up late into the night to make sure I read every single sentence, I took part in the struggles and victories she experienced.
      Years ago, when I was one of the feature writers on the Honolulu Star Bulletin she was my editor. There was no way I could have predicted that she would follow a swami and abandon her job. Indeed, there was also no way any of us could know how much pain she was concealing.
Margaret’s honesty can take your breath away. Her ability to express herself with heart stabbing clarity puts the reader in the center of her world. We can see the swamis and hear their wisdom. What’s more, we can feel how much they understood her struggles.
      In addition, there is a thread that weaves itself throughout the fabric of this woman’s life – and is so common in the female experience. Women in our culture are brain washed to believe that their ability to be loved is so dependent on their appearance that many choose to diet themselves to death rather than remain unloved.
       Even worse is that the culture doesn’t value the female child as much as the male. It doesn’t matter whether a female is as bright or as talented as the male – or more so. We may be able to point to slight improvements over the decades since Margaret entered the ashram, but we are made painfully aware that the advances are not nearly what they need to be.
        As we follow this woman’s path to health and self appreciation, we cannot help but cry for all the rest of us who have felt the same pain, but perhaps manifested it in different ways.
       Thank you, Margaret “Peggy” Bendet for caring enough to share so much.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Atrocities in Afganistan -- and the U.S. Doesn't Intervene!

It was one of the worst news stories...The NYT carried a front page article last week -- and I haven't seen a single mention of it on FB. It's haunting me -- U.S. troops in Afganistan have been given orders not to intervene when our Afgani allies go into a village and rape young boys.

The boys can be heard screaming the article said. In my head, I'm hearing their screams over and over again!! What does this do to the morale of our soldiers who have no choice in the matter. They are given orders they must obey. Put your life on the line for these people? Be complicit by not objecting? It's an awful situation we have created for our men -- and women -- who are out there on the front lines.

WHAT ARE WE DOING?? What about the Geneva Convention? This is as bad as ISIS!!! We should all be pounding on the doors of our so-called government officials. Stop this! Stop pouring money into Afganistan and giving these people permission to perform atrocities. Taking pleasure in harming young boys! It makes me sick!!! And our having a part in this. Where are all those people who oppose gay marriage??? Find a REAL cause.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

"CAll the Midwife," My Review of Jennifer Worth's Memoir

R                           Review of “CALL THE MIDWIFE, Jennifer Worth’s Memoir


                                                               Loretta Paraguassu

        Reaching the last page of this engrossing memoir is like walking away from a neighborhood where you have settled in and become part of people’s lives. Worth carefully stitches together her experiences as a midwife living in the 1950s with nuns who gave their lives to God and to child-bearing women in the poverty-stricken east side of London.

        The reader rides with Jennie Lee on her bicycle through the neighborhoods and learns – in detail – what it was like and what she encountered. She also schools us on the details of her practice – the  instruments she used, how babies were delivered then, the long hours she spent and the emotional involvement it took.

        Having watched a number of “Call the Midwife” episodes produced for television by PBS – based on the book, of course – there were any number of “oh, that’s what it really meant” or “now I understand why that person reacted the way he or she did” – awakenings after plowing through the book. Nothing, absolutely nothing, was as simple and straightforward as the TV rendition would have you believe.

        It would be wrong to say that the PBS version does the book a disservice. However, the depth of the characters and their motivations are clearly impossible to communicate in scenes that flicker past in rapid rotation. It took courage to attempt as ambitious a project this one and the television version does an excellent job of bringing Worth’s world back to life.

        For instance, there were more shocks and surprises about babies that were born black – and one that might have been black. We get a picture of immigrants coming into the neighborhoods and repercussions in personal lives. It’s a very interesting part of history that is rarely explored. With the luxury of more time and space, the written version presents this issue in a way that explains the bigger picture.

        There are also revelations that some of the glitzy, romantic scenes we see on the television screen weren’t based on the original book. (Surprise?) The relationship between Jennie Lee and Jimmy? Don’t look for it in the memoir. Chummy and her romance with the constable? Also, not to be found. Even the girls going out to a dance together -- if it happened, Worth wasn’t sharing. Some of it is “prettified” and probably has to be for the sake of keeping an audience on board.

       The very dramatic kidnapping of a baby by a young woman Irish woman named Mary is powerful on-screen. Once again, the depth of Mary’s story is far more powerful in the book. The reader is given insights into her background and her relationship with Jennie Lee that television simply doesn’t have the time or structure to present.

       Worth’s book is, indeed, a very well-written, page turner. It’s hard to say it’s “better“ than the television series. It comes down to simply being a different animal. Anyone who has enjoyed the television series should enjoy the book – and vice versa.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Great Meryl Streep Tosses a Crumb to Women Writers

There was a big to-do about Meryl Streep funding an "older" women's screenwriting lab. There was a big announcement at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Women make up about 29% of TV writers and a miserable 15% of film writers, and you know who's...
It turns out that older to Ms. Streep is over 40. Great. In the real world that's not very old at all.
Then, we have to take into account that only eight -- numeral 8 -- women will be chosen. And exactly what kind of impact is that supposed to have?
 Actually, that's pretty pathetic and not likely to net much in the long run. I'm disappointed -- but not surprised. The fact that this famous and successful actress has lent her name to the cause IS a big deal, but still...shouldn't there be more?
Who else is going to stand up and make a gesture? I'm reading all kinds of notices about actors and actresses selling their New York properties for multi-millions. No give-back.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Kudos to Selma, the film


     Let's set the scene -- The theater is one of those comfortable, new theaters with waiters who come to your seat and serve you food and drinks. It's plush and the screen is close and clear.

     Although we had menus, neither I nor the two friends I was with ever pushed the button for service. We hadn't had dinner, but the drama on the screen was too intense. We didn't want to miss a word, a phrase or a gesture.

     I'm so glad I didn't go alone. It's that much of an emotional experience. When it was going on, I knew people involved in the march -- and even considered going. Wow! As I watched the crowd scenes -- I was struck by the fact that there seemed to be more women than men.

     The people with me who had been close to the movement nodded when I mentioned this. Yes, it was true. It's hard to sort it all out. Hard to believe that the racists could be such horrible animals. What kind of a man beats up mothers and grandmothers? No soul, no soul at all.

      Are there still racists? Oh, yeah. The hope, and I have said this before, is that they are dying out and that our younger generations recognize the reality: We are all biologically the same. No skin color is superior.

     If there could be mandatory viewing, I would wish that everyone would see this film -- to know what happened, to feel it to the bone.

     An irony in the name of the film is a close personal connection -- My mother's name was Selma. On top of that, my parents were married in Selma, Alabama during WWII because my father was stationed there.  The name "Selma" rings in my ears.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Living in a State That Kills

It's a rainy, sad day. Last night the State of Georgia murdered a man, they substitute another word, but it's murder and it fills me with grief that this happens regularly. This man was guilty of killing someone -- but he was also a war hero and damaged by his experiences in the service of his country. He was taught to kill! Shame on Georgia. Shame, shame, shame!

We are barbarians and much of the civilized world recognizes us as such. In this and so many other ways, we do not deserve to consider ourselves part of the group of first world countries -- even if we do have a mega-rich class and lots of weapons we are able to hoard. Not civilized enough. Not hardly.

It makes my heart ache as I look out into the wintry fog and feel old and tired.