May 14, 2019

Thoughts & Prayers: Navigating in a Sea of Zombies

 By Susie Duncan Sexton

 

"Health food may be good for the conscience but Oreos taste a hell of a lot better."ThoughtsPrayers519.jpg

  

"The technology available for film-making now is incredible, but I am a big believer that it's all in the story."

  

"It's an honor putting art above politics. Politics can be seductive in terms of things reductive to the soul." ~ Robert Redford

  

Linked In, Shut Out, Cell Phone Mania, Faux Networking, Prayer Chains and Warriors, all the way from affable to contentious Face to Flat-Face-booking Social NetworkBon Voyage...Have a nice day!  Who cares these days?  Grin and bear it, and enjoy the divisiveness and the avoidance of real issues that matter to all of us, such as inclusiveness, civil discourse, achieving understanding hearts, and seeking peace -- the entirety of which seem so otherworldly during these days of hustling and bustling and looking out for number one.

  

Where is/are a viable Erma Bombeck or a Doctor Seuss, or a Mort Sahlor a Kurt Vonnegut, or Jon Stewart, or Lenny Bruce, or an Amy Schumer when we need them and their acid-humor spiced with grim reality of acknowledging failed communications with one another?  I miss them all. 

  

As a demographically endorsed "senior", I am feeling and thinking dark thoughts of "Does anybody anywhere really give a damn about soothing souls down deep rather than extending a cursory nod while rushing the other direction to pursue the egocentrical lifestyle of an ostrich burying its plumed head in the sands of a sought after vanity-beach-vacation?"

  

On the industrialized and profit-oriented trail of doctors' crocodile tears myself, obscene bills accumulate, and patients without patience become frightened bookkeepers betting on tired horse races while battling paperwork and phone-tag numbers issued from a conglomerate of dead-eyed often robotic humans who may be deciding or blowing off the fate of their addled and worried customers.  Networking is a sick joke..."WE have the drugs; now YOU do all the work, Mister or Missus so and so!"  "Put the lime in the coconut and drink it all up.  Then call me in the morning!"  (Thanks, Harry Nilsson.)

  

Side effects far worse than the imagined or possibly looming plethora of diseases and illnesses scaring the bejesus out of most all of us, regardless of our life's labels from youth to old age, create an opioid crisis of Armageddon/ Apocalyptic proportions.  I have thought these thoughts for nearly half a dozen years (or more) while seated at my kitchen table all alone, and the fruition of my fears has come home to roost.  We all must confront a final very big deal rife with accompanying problems prior to traveling off to vacation spots or purchasing big ticket items we cannot actually afford to serve as quick but lingering installment plan panaceas. Best of luck, survivors!  Enjoy settling the estate!

  

I wish to laugh again and never complain nor fret but... behind the closed doors of one's mind, life seems to have ceased being genuinely fun or compassionate or conversational or hopeful.  Environmental concerns both at home and abroad, as well as globally and universally, matter.  All forms of life matter.  I miss the pets who recently got blown off the face of my own earth even though veterinarian services and pharmaceuticals and repetitive appointments are somewhat readily available for a steep price, and I lament doors carelessly closed at home or at the office.  I miss family connections which actually require the collective group efforts of tender loving care and grace in order to survive and thrive.  I die a little from hurtful comments and stereotyping and mud puddles splashed by passing vehicles sometimes carrying passengers who do not mean well.

  

Old photographs capture ghosts in immobilized positions, and we mostly recall those "where the lost things go" ghosts with fondness when time stands scrapbook frozen as we gaze and search to rekindle that long-ago love and those nurturing, encouraging, sunlit pastimes IF that IS the way it WAS.  THE WAY WE WERE, indeed!  Young actor Robert Redford repetitiously stumbled as a "bad boy" juvenile fugitive with sweat on his brow throughout black and white television episodes during the golden age of television when the tiny screen and so-called "boob tube" offered stories of substance.  I followed his show business career through to BAREFOOT IN THE PARKTHE ELECTRIC HORSEMANALLTHE PRESIDENT'S MEN and as the Sundance Kid himself who bought a ski resort and encouraged others blessed with creativity to tell ever more stories of substance and redemption.  His latest cinematic offering and perhaps his swan song THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN seems an appropriate book-end(-ing) to the start of his very responsible, inspirational lifetime of contributions to humanity.  Not just a pretty face but an environmentalist and a nurturer and a motivator and a story-teller with no need for a gun.  [Also highly recommend, believe it or not, (especially to hunters) the 2016 PETE'S DRAGON directed by the same young Sundance alum Independent filmmaker David Lowery.]

 

 

Not to whine too much, but not unlike many other humans I have endured more than my share of being dumped on, shoved aside, dismissiveness and abandonment, gaslighting, verbal abuse, cattiness, misplaced and misinformed nasty appraisals, nuisance robo-AND-cat-calls, and sporadically peculiar physical torment while only landing in the hospital exactly three times...to be born, to give birth and an eerie ambulance trip to the emergency room itself.  My heartbeat is irregular these days but continues pumping, questioning, and responding to the ups and downs of life; my knees miss any remnants of cartilage; my breathing is labored; I faint sometimes; my thyroid gland is in need of serious observation; and I am frightened about the remaining years in a world of uncanny chaos everywhere one looks. I wait eagerly for marijuana to get legalized in spite of my prudishness about the world of drugs. My greatest concern, though, revolves around lack of meaningful communication around the globe and at home and just how can that sadness be addressed, if at all.  And I know what ails me...I know deep in my irregularly palpitating heartbeat every second of every night and day.  So, physician, I say, heal thyself.  Heal thyself.  Ain't nobody can do necessary repair for us but ourselves, and "ain't nobody's business if we do" goes the song!  I may be a quack, but I am sticking to my own instinctive diagnosis and visiting as few hospitals, veterinarians, dentists and nursing homes as might be humanly possible.  Keep on keeping on, and never give up!  In my inevitably pending wheelchair or while leaning on my cane, I shall be wearing a t-shirt proudly advertising FDR's famous philosophy, "We have nothing to fear, but fear itself!"

  

Dorothy Parker > Quotes > Quotable Quote

 

"Résumé
Razors pain you,
Rivers are damp,
Acids stain you,
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful,
Nooses give,
Gas smells awful.
You might as well live."

 

AN ODD VARIATION OF THIS SENTIMENT OF MS. PARKER APPEARS IN MY FATHER'S HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH BOOK...HE MUST HAVE IDENTIFIED AND COPIED IT ON THE FIRST BLANK PAGE OF HIS TEXTBOOK IN HIS ALWAYS GLORIOUS CURSIVE HAND WRITING...AND HE ADDED A PHRASE TO DOROTHY'S POEM...that being, "AW, HELL!"   He was only 14 at the time. I cherish that book wherever it has gotten to and hoping I can ever locate it again.  I pray for just one thing...that I can be as strong and kind, no matter what else befalls, as my daddy was!  Everything else will take care of itself!  I'll be punching it up and taming it down which will be the name of my garage band rock group some day!  A-men.

  

Postscript:  I wish to thank the following neat Parkview People who are fun and never scare me...nurses Sonja and Shannon whom I quote, "Take your medicine, and don't get ahead of yourself!" and the emergency room nurse for whom I have no name due to my panic attack at being in emergency mode once so far and doctors Valcarcel, Wynder and Hardin who are not only nice and calm but handsome also.  I COULD get used to my new hobby and become a raging hypochondriac!  I think I love the aforementioned humans and a few other phone answerers and receptionists who love to laugh and to be kind!  Yes, I think I love you!  And niece Kelly Bailey who laughs with me and not at me...thank God for that girl!

  

My fabulous niece Kelly helped me move my book collection 33 years ago via a moving van...now, we need a train!

  

"In some cultures, laughter and talking guarantee longer lifetimes."~ Dr. Sanjay Gupta in the series CHASING LIFE

"If I knew I was going to live so long, I would have taken better care of myself!" ~ Charles Eugene "MAC" McBride (Indiana University football player, soldier, MP and chef! and my brother-in-law for over 100 years and holding!) quoting James Herbert ("Eubie") Blake

 

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Read about movies and nostalgia, animal issues and sociopolitical concerns all discussed in Susie's book Secrets of an Old Typewriter and its follow-up Misunderstood Gargoyles and Overrated Angels - print and ebook versions of both are available on Amazon (click the title). The books are also carried by these fine retailers: Ann Arbor's Bookbound and Common Language; Columbia City's Whitley County Historical Museum; and Fort Wayne's The Bookmark. And you can download from iTunes. Read her blog here, and meet other like-minded souls at her facebook fan page. Visit her author website at www.susieduncansexton.com.  Join a great group of animal advocates Squawk Back: Helping animals when others can't ... Or Won't. Roy's blog ReelRoyReviews can be found here.

March 28, 2019

Old Type Writer: Conversations in motion

RoysReel319.jpg

By Roy Sexton 

"Oh, I went to the emergency room last night. They took me from the veterinarian's in an ambulance. The EMS boy looked like Aquaman." - Susie Duncan Sexton 

Wait. What?! So began a phone call with my mother about a month ago. To clarify a few things: no, she does not receive her health care AT the veterinarian BUT got light-headed while she was there and, then ... nearly passed out. And, no, Jason Momoa is not moonlighting for Whitley County EMS, but my mom is threatening to call 911 again, just so she can hang with the young man who apparently bears a striking resemblance to Game of Thrones' Khal Drogo

My mom has gone through a battery of tests over the past month, and the good news is that her exuberance for life and her candor and her irreverence have apparently served her well physically in that an army of doctors have found no issues of concern. As my mother notes, "I don't want to go into that medical world if I don't have to." Who can blame her? I do wish she wouldn't have such a propensity to read and believe all of the side effects listed on any and all medications, but, hell, that wariness has likely served her quite well in this pharmacologically reckless culture. 

What my mother has learned from this experience is that when others don't listen or behave like outright jackholes, it can cause her to experience justified exasperation to the point of plummeting-elevator-wooziness. I think too many of us are still trying to learnthat lesson. 

"At 46, I'm coming to the realization that I want life to be less about 'stuff.' I've had so much fun collecting and gathering and accumulating, but now it all just feels like a weight around my neck." - Roy Sexton 

Two weekends ago, I went to visit my parents. After her chance encounter with a hunky Momoa-look-alike, life flashed before my mother's eyes, and she wanted to call a family meeting to discuss our "plan." Note: we are NOT a "family meeting" kind of family, and we might have "plans" but for some reason we don't actually share them. We are more of a "something unanticipated just happened so let's light our hair on fire" kind of family. My mother has always been the one who says the things that need to be said but aren't always heard. This time, it felt like my father and I stopped being idiots long enough to listen. I was cautiously optimistic that we might talk about what the future could hold. And, then ... 

"I'm getting up at 10 am tomorrow to take the LaCrosse in to trade for an Impala." - Don Sexton

Unclear if that was invitation for me to assist in the car-buying process or not, but I volunteered to tagalong on a task that has pretty much eluded me my entire adult life. I inherited a hand-me-down Buick Century from my grandmother when I was in college. My parents were kind enough to buy me a Honda Civic when I was in graduate school. Then, I was wise enough to marry an automotive engineer, and I never set foot in an auto dealership again. 

My father used to call on auto dealers across northern Indiana in the late 80s when he was a lending officer for Merchants National Bank. He knows a thing or two about this world; the finer points of operating an iPad may befuddle him but he knows his Carfax from his Kelley Blue Book. Nonetheless, the game of buying a car remains one rife with swaggering toxic masculinity. 

"I'm sorry. With whom am I negotiating on this? You or your dad or John," whined the auto salesman as I handed him my cell phone and asked him to work everything out with an auto engineer stationed at his home computer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

My father and I both gestured toward the phone and then promptly closed our traps. The best way to cut through toxic masculinity? Introduce a well-informed curve ball who doesn't cotton to preening peacocks. We walked out of there with a gently used Ford Fusion at a third of the expected price, paid in cash, leaving behind a small army of Dockers-wearing salesmen scratching their heads. 

"Good. I'm glad John got involved. He reminds me of me. When he gets to talk about what he loves, he's unstoppable." - Susie Sexton, upon our return. 

You see, all along, my mom had suggested their ancient Buick LaCrosse needed a retirement. My mom is the one saying, "Can we slow down and just take care of the things we love before time is completely gone?" My mom is the one urging people to live their best lives and to enjoy the moments they are in. My mom is the one asking for authentic conversation that isn't transmitted via digital device in tweets, texts, and cynical memes.

KNOCK! KNOCK! "We're at the door here for breakfast and swimming and to tell you our plan." - my parents at my hotel room door the last morning of my weekend visit. (I may have asked for them to call before heading over ... that didn't happen.) 

At some point in the past couple of years, my parents and I transitioned to that mid-stage milestone of the child (gleefully) staying at a hotel when he/she comes to visit said parents. It's not meant to be rude or controlling, but as one ages, as one becomes set in their ways, as one's midsection grows more pear-shaped ... the idea of retreating to a hotel room, collapsing in a heap, and breathing solitary air at the end of a day's family visit carries a touch of appeal. 

And my parents get to come use the pool like two 12-year-olds who've just run away from home. 

Here's the thing: those two 12-year-olds who these days spend as much time plotting each other's demise as they do reflecting wistfully on their 50 (!) years of wedded "bliss," came bounding into my room, speaking a mile a minute, finishing each other's sentences, sharing their "plan" with me. I was half awake and a little cranky, but their zeal was a tonic.

And that plan? It's a pretty good one. It's not for me to tell, but I feel good about the future. Possibly for the first time ever. You see, I have a vision of the fun we will have, reminiscent of those special days I lived at home and had nary a care in the world, other than what cartoons were airing on Saturday morning or passing an algebra test. And that vision is shared. That makes all the difference. 

 

Reel Roy Reviews is now TWO books! You can purchase your copies by clicking here (print and digital). In addition to online ordering at Amazon or from the publisher Open Books, the first book is currently is being carried by BookboundCommon Language Bookstore, and Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room in Ann Arbor, Michigan and by Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Michigan. My mom Susie Duncan Sexton's Secrets of an Old Typewriter series is also available on Amazon and at Bookbound and Common Language.



January 17, 2019

Subject: a need so impossible?

NewYear119.jpg

(Talk of the Town images provided)

 By Susie Duncan Sexton

 

sometimes lives can intersect.

often hearts and minds connect.

(not to be too circumspect)

internet travels spark fun.

street corner chats once were done.

communication begun!

either format much the same.

human to human the game.

face to face? laughter the aim!

therapeutic screen to screen.

type language to those unseen.

instructive but never mean.

stamped enveloped notes not fast.

antiquities of the past--

meant to endure, save, and last.

phone numbers -- stored, memorized

never dialed, alphabetized --

in palm of a hand. downsized.

 

bark, whinny, neigh, bleat, quack, bray,

meow, oink, howl, buzz, sing, pray.

please let us speak, talk today?

listen! back and forth we go!

not just the Zuckerberg show.

our own wrapped in love, ya know?

November 15, 2018

This Happily Haunted House

"So I'm a ditherer? Well, I'm jolly well going to dither then."

 By Susie Duncan Sexton

As the dearest wedding photograph in history gradually fades alongside a flowery, yellowing marriage certificate filled with rules and regulations written in calligraphy -- both keepsakes tucked into a music box which creaks out "Camelot" upon the opening of its lid, reverent memories of my parents re-emerge. Then I drum my fingers atop the kitchen table as I await my husband's backing out my 20 year old automobile to take it for its oil change. The endless mystifying racket reminds me of my breakable, manic, nutty Jerry Lewis record, called "The Noisy Eater", which I wore out as a kid. I lean toward the screened window and get greeted with, "Just moving and scooting 'Jim Fleck's garbage cans' (a reference to our former city 'chief') so that I can drive this car out my own driveway." Truth be told, Don actually ran for mayor Haunted1118.jpgprompted by his ire over that very topic...garish Tupper-ware type receptacles no longer allowed in the alleys but now those bold, electric-blue eyesores instead stand at sloppy attention in front of our houses along the tree-lined streets

I am not in the mood for controversy. I prefer to submit a love letter to the finest humans whom I ever met and who graced this fortunate town with their presence for decades. 


Now, back at the computer to write of an elopement on September 18 of 1930 and a young couple of individuals starting life together in the Carolinas, I reach out to capture two frisky, feisty, plucky ghosts named Roy and Edna. On the fingers of one hand I calculate the number of times I clashed with either one or the other or, worse, that instant united front which they masterfully conjured up when faced with the sassiness of an errant child. And contrary to the views of some rotten publicists, I do not answer to misguided identifications as either "spoiled" or "brat". I am -- always have been -- one respectful kid who enjoyed a very special relationship with my parents. The three of us -- for 10 years joined at the hips (my married sisters in their own houses) -- had an absolute ball! I was blessed to realize that fact in real time. All mine! 

My "folks" -- an apt, quaint, typically Southern reference --really still should be alive to preen for their 82nd anniversary picture...but "posing" did not fit their style. My mom detested corsages, tore up pix of herself, and possessed the talent to have outwritten Margaret MitchellLillian Hellman, or Dorothy Parker. She preferred to remain unnoticed yet occasionally penned perfect poetry for which she once received a personal, hand-written "thank you" note from Jacqueline Kennedy. My dad died at the exact age that every Duncan dies...from a cerebral hemorrhage which is an appropriately rugged Scotsman's usual adieu to this world. Endure what life hands you; think independently; live with gusto; never back down; laugh often and exit quickly one fine day, with little fanfare, singing, "...And Ah'll be in Scotlan' afore ye..."! ("Loch Lomond") Kind, beautiful individuals. 

Neither phony nor stereotypical, my parents disagreed often, attended church regularly for networking and spiritual rejuvenation with a minimal dose of dogma, quietly performed good deeds, valued and strengthened family ties yet at a reasonable distance, maintained serious friendships throughout their lifetimes, and only neared divorce court when my dad bought a new car without permission or "adopted" pets without consultation or engaged in small downtown store ownership/co-management with "Snooks"/Edna which lasted about ten minutes. The "Corral" may be remembered by many of you. My dad paid dearly for offering Wranglers at an affordable price -- small town retailers do not enjoy competition no matter what they say. Our store paled in comparison to the Wal-Mart empire we all know and love presently. To this day, I borrow a treasured tip from my old man; when human beings behave like jack-asses, I simply diplomatically refer to such types as "damned peculiar" and move on with my life, brushing off my jeans while celebrating my genes!

Only a fool offers a template for marriage "between one man and one woman", such as might be dictated by spooky judges at a time-warped Salem Witch Trial; rather, I instead salute -- as I marvel at -- the collaboration between two determined, joyous, unique, unbiased, "live and let live" human beings setting an example which served me well when Mr. and Mrs. Duncan ruled my world and unto this very moment listening to Don lug trash containers about while CUSSing "a happy tune". Roy and Edna snuck away to become hitched only one year into The Great Depression-- weathering many storms. Both continue to live with me while dispensing their daily advice, whispered into my over-sized ears


Although I view awards with disdain since such silly pageantry and subjective selectivity generally cause divisiveness, dissension, and jealousy, I wish to correct an unforgivable over-sight. Being as I daily function like Leo G. Carroll who starred as "Topper", I long to bestow upon Edna (Constance Bennett) and Roy Duncan (Cary Grant) a posthumous certification -- "Citizens of the Year"! My beloved, sometimes aggravating, personal apparitions flit about, encouraging thoughts, inspiring dreams, and motivating positive action while I live in their tiny little house to which I was brought as an infant from Ft. Wayne's Lutheran Hospital. Their steadiness, sense of fairness and fun, and lack of pretentiousness enhanced our community. So, I wish a happy anniversary to my very own delightful citizen-ghosts who eternally haunt me! I love every minute of it! 


"So I'm a ditherer? Well, I'm jolly well going to dither then." ~ Cosmo Topper


"Topper (1937) is an American comedy film which tells the story of a stuffy, stuck-in-his-ways man who is haunted by the ghosts of a fun-loving married couple." WIKIPEDIA
 

NOTE:  Among the images in the above collage are ones of McLean Stevenson's sis, Ann Whitney, who portrayed a spiritualistic medium in the Wagon Wheel's August 2012 production of Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit" (a "spiritual" cousin to the film "Topper"). I have discussed her brother Mac and our time performing together at Wagon Wheel in earlier writings, and I presented those to her the evening we attended the show.  She was a sheer delight. The lead actor in "Blithe Spirit", David Schlumpf masterfully dodged the ghost of his former wife while married to his current spouse.  Blurb in the program stated, "The play is so artful that it was able, in 1941 (amidst the crisis of war), to make jokes about ghosts at a time when the audience was feeling the real-life impact of lost loved ones."

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Read about movies and nostalgia, animal issues and sociopolitical concerns all discussed in Susie's book Secrets of an Old Typewriter and its follow-up Misunderstood Gargoyles and Overrated Angels - print and ebook versions of both are available on Amazon (click the title). The books are also carried by these fine retailers: Ann Arbor's Bookbound and Common Language; Columbia City's Whitley County Historical Museum; and Fort Wayne's The Bookmark. And you can download from iTunes. Read her blog here, and meet other like-minded souls at her facebook fan page. Visit her author website at www.susieduncansexton.com.  Join a great group of animal advocates Squawk Back: Helping animals when others can't ... Or Won't. Roy's blog ReelRoyReviews can be found here.

 

September 26, 2018

Intuition and Instincts and Bumble Bees! Oh, My!

INTUITION AND INSTINCTS AND BUMBLE BEES!  OH, MY! 

 By Susie Duncan Sexton

 

"What happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep!" ~ current Supreme Court nominee

  My Time-Sensitive Swan Song...or Not? IntuitionCollage918.jpg

 

As I lounged sleepily on a lawn chair three summer seasons past, I devoured a ROLLING STONE article about this blondish fellow named Donald Trump, a guy presently stacked in my musty basement, he being featured on umpteen PEOPLE Magazine covers highlighting zippy, scandal-hinting essays behind their splashy covers.  Some accounts date back to the 70s as I, the pack rat, seldom throw anything away, even trash.  I liked the biographical sketch, and I almost understood The Donald who would soon be running for president.  He reminded me of oodles of males I grew up with and attended college with and know even unto this very day.  I married one of them.  His name is Donald, too.  And the three of us boomers...THE Donald, Donald, and Susie are all the same age.  God help us!  Alarm bells!

 

 

I am thinking of tossing the ancient unread magazines and simultaneously avoiding the entire body of current information altogether, regarding tweet-obsessed Trump.  I know this person far too well already.  His misguided, manufactured, chaotic mess I fear impacts the entire universe as we know it, from environmental concerns on this our perilously poised planet up to and including His giddy proposals to involve and pollute outer space itself (dubbed "Space Force"?)--and everything in between heaven, earth and the deep blue sea. Who and what might be in harm's way? Nearly every human ethnicity, safari animals, farm animals, homeless Homo sapiens and domesticated animals, sundry forms of wildlife, immigrants from absolutely anywhere, border toddlers turned into orphans, feminists and all women and girls generally speaking, the reputations (by  mere association with role-model POTUS) of masses of other swaggering entitled white males who have at this stage gotten away with centuries of often murderous or near murderous misbehavior and rather suddenly cannot (Thank you, Ronan Farrow!), pure clean waterways, air quality, soil, weather patterns, "sh*t-hole countries", reputable countries once our allies, crazy power-hungry sinister autarchic countries clandestinely computer-hacking to assure an absolutely certain digital-cyber World War IIII, noble principles and hard-won values, monarch butterflies, and...bumble bees!  Whew!

 

Three summers back, I once enjoyed our now overgrown poison ivy festooned backyard and the sporadic appearances of frisky friendly bustling frolicking squirrels, the buzzing drone of hornets and sweat bees, the rustling leaves on huge trees with eerily frightening creaking trunks, the forlorn rusty birdbaths hosting splashing robins and wrens and Trumpian blue jays, the sunny fading of my winter-time accumulation of psoriasis bumps which otherwise can be cured via pricey pharmaceuticals, bearing side effects ranging from baldness through gastrointestinal distresses and concluding with terminal lymphoma (the Jackie Kennedy cancer) if one day I should opt to turn myself over to the drug-selling whims and talents of docs thriving upon kickbacks. (Oh, and the bonus being constant return trips to be checked for tuberculosis, reminiscent of the 50s patch-test days when TB was of epidemic proportions and will be yet again!) 

 

 

This "Florence the Hurricane" (Our FEMA director continually referred to Florence as Floyd which is a bit disconcerting?) summer of 2018 filled with call-girl/porn star/ former apprentice tell-all autobiographies, Bob Woodward's investigatory journalistic efforts (aptly entitled FEAR), cable TV pundits who presently seem like old and dear friends or characters in an overwrought millionth round of CLUE -- THE BOARDGAME, and high school high-jinks drinking binges and inventive dating practices of grown-up wholesome Supreme Court nominees provided a potpourri of boob tube viewing like none other. The plethora of indictments, manacles, and mug shots filled our screens like never before except maybe when we once watched Robert Stack/Eliot Ness hunt Al Capone down courtesy of Desilu Studios offering up THE UNTOUCHABLES -- as well as annual repeats of each of THE GODFATHER films!  (Not to mention, reporters struggling with pronunciations of an unfathomable number of Russian names of oligarchs.  I've never had this much questionable fun since the works of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky and Chekhov became required reading at Ball State University during the Communist-detesting 1960s.  Ah, CRIME AND PUNISHMENT and BROTHERS KARAMAZOV and WAR AND PEACE...where are you now?  Maybe in the basement with TRUMP?)

 

 

A VERY BRIEF EXPOSE' follows   (subtitled -- Implausibilities of Speaking Truth to Power?):

 

 

 

After living well into a seventh decade, if one is prohibited from telling it like it is or was, what then might be the point of ever having lived at all?  Not to be prim or prissy, I confess with some pride that I was not in the family way prior to any nuptials of which there has only been one as divorce is generally verboten on my side of the family. Approaching a half century "anniversary" of standing atop a tall ookily frosted cake while wearing a plastic virginal white gown and veil, one can rightfully eschew celebratory open houses, corsages, balloons, confetti, or cruises spent cavorting on walkers. How embarrassing to pretend otherwise. I need not stop to create a false illusion of wonderfulness and gaiety...rather, INSTEAD, the more pinpointed description of condescension and misunderstanding peppered so profusely through those years that personally I have forgotten whom I may have developed into if not ever stumbling and misstepping down the traditional Biblically ordained path toward what some call bliss and others more accurately label slavish obedience. I played with many sets of wedding paper dolls, brides and bridesmaids and flower girls in petticoats until the frilly gowns were tabbed onto their cardboard frames. Thus, I engaged in the allowed and encouraged bouts of romantic fantasizing, but not a Hell of a lot?

 

 

This past year, I rediscovered who more realistically lurks deep inside my heart and brain...totally certain that if I could start all over again, I might have given Jane Goodall a run for her money.  When I found myself fiercely threatened with strait-jacketed commitment (seriously?) due to prolonged grieving directed toward an aborted attempt to save a tiny runt-of-the-litter kitten's life (I have saved nearly-gee-I-dunno possibly hundreds of animals' lives during my own lifetime?), I became feministically livid!  Could it possibly be that some frigid chauvinistic judge (similar to a GOP Senator) at the Salem witch trials might be categorizing me as "mixed up" or diminishing me to poised, lady-like Anita Hill's suspect status at the hands of a politically aligned publicist named David Brock advertising her as "a little bit nutty and a whole lot of slutty" (resulting in Clarence Thomas becoming a Supreme Court Justice, no further questions asked? Dejavu?)  The foolish, unnecessary demise of the precious feline I still cannot reckon with and am full of remorse and cannot figure out how to blame my typically nurturing self when so many other assorted nincompoops added elements of confusion to the toxic mix.  At any rate, said kitty and his evidently virulent affinity toward ringworm are now off the face of the earth, and cross-contamination has possibly come to a close I guess, Mr. Fung! (References abound in that previous sentence...do some research by googling away to your heart's content.) 

 

 

One might find as old age gallops up and grabs one by the brittle hip-bones or twisted knees and shoves the heart into irregular fluttering palpitations and pushes the brain into occasional spooky dizziness and the eyeballs into partial "comes and goes" blindness, that any sane person might need conversion therapy after all (whatever that is?) to rethink exactly why very dumb but expected socially mandated choices may have been selected and to satisfy exactly whom?  Misguided dork Hugh Hefner began to publish ridiculously grievously irresponsibly salacious fictional picture magazines in his mommy's basement, and insecure males bought them only for the "articles", and "dating" became a quaint verb. Many of us who still wore training brassieres in high school or even college became terribly self-conscious and hard-pressed (to say the very least) not to make up for flat chests with creative petting (or else!) or enhanced bustline implants whenever marriages got boring or to withstand rude remarks, from pillars of the community attending social functions, once bosoms naturally sag due to such scientific (naughty word these days?) events called gravity. (No fooling...ask any dame who has encountered wandering eyeballs at some local dinner banquet, wherever and whenever Friday night FEESH FRIES occur! With side orders of coleslaw and baked beans finished off with Texas sheet cake squares!)

 

 

Listen up! Be your own person...be yourself...practice compassion...never be cautious about demonstrating sincere kindness.  None of us are earth-bound for very long...and for that we can be oddly grateful and cheer on folks such as, need I reiterate, Hillary  C., Nancy P., Courtney T.,  Dianne F., Debbie S., Maizie H., Amy K., Claire M., Elizabeth W.,  Maxine W., and Kamala H.  and Anita H. and a dear soul named Meghan McCain who delivered an explosively no-holds barred, chastising eulogy proclaiming her love and admiration for her late war hero daddy whose very recent  bravery on the Senate floor, killing an ill-conceived half-assed bill denying far too many citizens sufficient health care, impressed anybody with a heart.  Like father like daughter!  I can identify with that!  Anybody wanna stop by my curb on the day I plan to place old, outdated, moldy PEOPLE Magazines, and probably high school yearbooks and brassieres, out for the trash man? 

 

 

Feel free to check out or visit or nosily drop by my bloggity-blog where I engage in one-sided conversational monologues filled with gaiety, bragging, advice, alarmism, activism, dire warnings, perkiness, rhymes, sentence fragments and run-ons, opinions set in concrete, allusions, rebellion, cute photos, animal talk, ME TOO claims, VERSE IN FREE FORM, and a smattering of self-preservational condescension which I have learned from the person I married one fine day when verbal sparring became totally necessary to avoid being chopped up and deposited within various disposable suitcases like Raymond Burr's unfortunate wife in REAR WINDOW.  Yes, the old allowable but pathetically fragile male ego created a monster!  Long may she wave!  Patriarchy is HIStory; evolution is HERstory!   About time!

 

 

Look for my next investigatory installment dealing with the death of a 24 year old Magnavox television, the panicky emergency purchase of a flat screen 21st century Wal-Mart blue-light special "smart TV", learning to live with the disembodied commanding yet informative voice-overs of a high-pitched Asian lady BOT akin to Tokyo Rose during World War II, the puzzling need for four remote controls each of which performs only a single much needed function such as ON, OFF, channel change, and volume control as well as On-Demand capability, Pay Per View availability, etc., etc. and so forth, to be dealt with at the proper time as in NEVER!  We are learning the tricky yet fine art of juggling which is great exercise for couch potatoes.  Divorce is imminent once again.  Also featured will be an analysis of why we must update computer passwords on a daily basis and a shout-out for suggestions seeking creative magic "Open Sesame" phrases.  Special thanks to the farm family of a young comedian named Tim Conway whose temperamental, perhaps slightly faulty, doorbell constantly hummed and buzzed day and night.  No problem for positive thinkers who believe in half-FULL glasses!  Visitors waiting on the porch would be welcomed whenever the doorbell STOPPED ringing.  When Life hands us lemons, we must concoct ...daiquiris!  And to any physician I may have offended with my old lady candor I offer the following: Have you heard the one about the squirrel entering a tavern, requesting from the bartender a Hickory Daiquiri, DOC?  Time's up!  And no need for 25th amendment solutions!  Simply relax, and enjoy the very bumpy ride!

 

 

INSTRUCTIONS MANUAL INFORMATION: 

Am I listening to the doorbell as it does not ring?

Garbage truck whirring through winter, summer, autumn and spring?

Tim Conway and I shuffle to answer the door.

Whisked into memories today, forevermore.

Gather Trump and Dostoyevsky down basement stairs.

William Faulkner, love you best--ever in my prayers!

 

_____________________

 

Read about movies and nostalgia, animal issues and sociopolitical concerns all discussed in Susie's book Secrets of an Old Typewriter and its follow-up Misunderstood Gargoyles and Overrated Angels - print and ebook versions of both are available on Amazon (click the title). The books are also carried by these fine retailers: Ann Arbor's Bookbound and Common Language; Columbia City's Whitley County Historical Museum; and Fort Wayne's The Bookmark. And you can download from iTunes. Read her blog here, and meet other like-minded souls at her facebook fan page. Visit her author website at www.susieduncansexton.com.  Join a great group of animal advocates Squawk Back: Helping animals when others can't ... Or Won't. Roy's blog ReelRoyReviews can be found here.

August 28, 2018

It's called karma ... and it's pronounced 'ha!' Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

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By Guest Columnist - Roy Sexton

 

Is it fashionable to hate Mamma Mia!, the international ABBA-stage musical sensation that was parlayed into the biggest box office film-musical of all time ten (!) years ago, starring Meryl Streep? Seems that way. Maybe it's misogyny or sour grapes or a general critical agnosticism toward anything big, silly, and fun. Maybe people don't want to admit how much they love infectious Swedish pop songs with nonsensical titles and lyrical metaphors that appear to have been crafted by a roomful of monkeys with typewriters.

Whatever. I liked it. Mostly.

Well, let me equivocate. I appreciated the gaga joy that the original film's cast seemed to be having - a group of award-winning pros (Streep, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Amanda Seyfried, Dominic Cooper, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard) who didn't give a flying fig that they were working from a junk script with a cringe-worthy concept (who's your daddy?). These talented souls could read an appliance repair manual aloud and make it seem zippy. So what happens when you offer them some catchy-as-eff songs and throw them on a plastic back-lot set designed by Olive Garden with a sound-stage-blue sky that makes your heart ache? Cinematic genius.

 

Franchise newcomer (is this a franchise yet?) Ol Parker takes over direction from Phyllida Lloyd on the nobody-asked-for-it sequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. He does some spectacular reverse engineering to give us an actual film that is just as loopy as before but, you know, gives us characters and motivation and something resembling a plot (sort of).

 

Since this second entry is basically a greatest hits of a greatest hits package, some songs from the prior film get repeated; some B-side deep cuts you never knew existed (nor wanted to) are employed; and, as a score, all of the numbers are more seamlessly integrated into the story line ... which is basically TWO storylines.

 

First, Sophie (a luminous Seyfried) is (spoiler alert!) mourning the passing of her mother Donna (Streep, who adds to her odd gallery of beyond-the-grave "angel" characters here), and re-opens the picturesque Greek hotel as a tribute.

 

Second, in parallel, we learn through flashbacks how young Donna found her island retreat, slept with three different dudes in rapid succession (Jeremy Irvine, Hugh Skinner, Josh Dylan - all Abercrombie & Fitch adorable and completely disposably interchangeable), and subsequently declared, "To hell with all of ya!"

 

A crackerjack Lily James (Cinderella, Baby Driver) portrays young Donna. She effortlessly channels and brilliantly reinvents the madcap essence of Streep ... despite the fact that the two don't look one whit alike. Lily is brilliant in the role - unapologetic and fiery. By far, the smartest thing the filmmakers did was casting her. She makes the film. Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies are a hoot as her pals (the younger versions of Baranski and Walters, respectively), and the trio present a compelling and believable dynamic as pals making their way in a world and era (1979) where their free-spirited agency ain't exactly celebrated. (The more things change...)

 

In the present day, we also see the addition of a criminally underutilized Andy Garcia as the hotel's concierge/handyman ridiculously named, yes, Fernando. He seems to exist primarily as a narrative device for Cher who literally helicopters in for the last twenty minutes of the movie, phoning in an absolutely brilliant approximation of Cher at her Cher-iest, to croon one of ABBA's most beloved tunes.

For some illogical reason, Cher, who is only three years older than Streep, plays Streep's mother. She is about as believable (pun intended) playing Streep's mother as I would be. Hell, I'd be more believable. "Do you belieeeeeve, in life after love ... love ... love?" But who cares? In the Teflon-coated Mamma Mia universe, all things exist in servitude to hedonistic joy. And you don't get more hedonistic nor more joyous than Cher singing "Fernando," as exquisitely escapist as a big movie moment can be. I adored the sequence and hated myself for doing so the next day.

 

Check your brain at the door, drink in the images and sounds, and enjoy the best party of the summer with Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Yes, I laughed, I sang, I danced, I cried, and I'm not ashamed to admit that. Much.

 Postcript ...

 There were four lines in the film that I jotted down as potential review titles. They are indicative of why this film is such simplistic, absurdist genius in our meme-happy culture. I chose one - spoken by Julie Walters (I think) - which seemed to perfectly reflect the position this sequel takes in relation to its most vocal critics: "It's called karma, and it's spelled 'ha'!" For the curious? The other three options were as follows: "Be still my beating vagina." "It's not easy being a mother. If it was, fathers would do it." AND "I judge a person's heart by the way they treat animals." Go see the film, have a ball, and tell me if I chose my title ... poorly.

 __________________________________

 

Reel Roy Reviews is now TWO books! You can purchase your copies by clicking here (print and digital). In addition to online ordering at Amazon or from the publisher Open Books, the first book is currently is being carried by Bookbound, Common Language Bookstore, and Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room in Ann Arbor, Michigan and by Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Michigan. My mom Susie Duncan Sexton's Secrets of an Old Typewriter series is also available on Amazon and at Bookbound and Common Language.

 

 

July 6, 2018

Rachel and the Stranger -- a current events poem

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RACHEL AND THE STRANGER -- a "Current Events" Poem, plus a Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes, Too (the Past in Prose!)

 

By Susie Duncan Sexton

 

 "Donald Trump should build his wall out of Hillary Clinton's emails since no one ever can seem to get over them!" (borrowed from cute and witty Chicago friend Barb's Facebook page where she can be seen hugging her dear friend Rahm Emanuel!)

 

Been penning a "nostalgia" column for nearly a decade!

Thought I'd recycle a fun previous backyard escapade--

The definition of "nostalgia" connotes dreary warped time.

Instead, I'll salute the "present" while I am still (barely) in my prime?

 

Tricky to join densely populated protest marches at age 72.

Lost children kidnapped at a national border; stunned parents bereaved--what to do?

Travel bans reinstated, barring tired "huddled masses, yearning to breathe free"?

Civil rights imperiled via stackable Supreme Court potentiality?

 

Gerrymandering, political (in)correctness, battling tribes--red, white and blue?

Russian meddling, indictments, congressional hearings, strange Mafioso type zoo?

Health care, tariffs, stock market monitoring, national debt rising, porn stars cursed?

Global warming/climate change, volcanoes, hurricanes, allied-axis terms reversed?

Well, what about me?

Still dig a TV!

(or a)

Late night Facebook spree!

Gnarled finger strikes key....

 

(And now,  a segue from poetry to prose, from rhyming couplets to rambling giddiness, from topical poetry which is stranger than fiction to the sublime, instructive, maybe more sensible, yesteryears?)

 

...to investigate The (YOUTUBE) Dick Cavett Shows as that Yale graduate chats with the likes of Jimmy Hoffa, brothers RFK AND JFK, Eleanor Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, Frank Capra, Marlon Brando, Jack Paar, William F. Buckley, Jr., Lauren Bacall, Sophia Loren, Rex Harrison, Gore Vidal ad infinitum....

...whenever I feel like it, now that I'm ancient, I journey back in time to revisit some folks I did not fully appreciate in my younger, bustling, active days, yes, days, weeks, years that I naively believed would unroll and unfurl before me also ad infinitum!

 

I confess that I recently fell head over heels into deepest infatuation with "Bill" Holden and "Bob" Mitchum...or rather, as misguided adults in the time-warped forties and fifties referred to these two beef-cake-ish studs, "real men's men"!  Well, phooey on that description!  Reminiscent of the twitty Irish Spring advertising blitz short-changing females with the commercialized implication that possibly only males treasure bar soap, "I like them (Bob and Bill...AND soap I guess), too"...quite a lot!  Why? Both actors appear to be actual human beings revealing rugged individuality, real unashamedly candid candor, sensitivity, compassion, and quirks and delightful insecurities galore -- and they are handsome because they were each beautiful inside as well as outside....I KNOW THAT NOW!  Bob and Bill, accompanied by interviewer Cavett, visited my living room quite recently!  And so does dazzling, elegant Loretta Young twirl through THE door regularly at an ungodly hour...in black and white...starring in one 30-minute masterfully produced film after another that she and her second husband created and spearheaded -- and which are THE most inspirational televised tidbits that I have ever encountered. 

 

All of this euphoric, highly personal, shared glee is just to indicate that in recent googling, I rediscovered an old film referenced which I have yet to view.  Such an oversight is truly odd for me, because I once set my cap as a child to do nothing but watch films, if I could possibly get away with such an ambitious yet probably lazy scheme, for my entire lifetime!  Thus, before I croak, while surrounded by household-untended, tedious, boring, perilous chores and routines which are insurmountable at this stage (I need a staff--or I should have given birth to twelve devoted daughters to help me out during these waning days I may or may not have left?), I MUST purchase a DVD! (whoops!  only available on video?) This 1948 movie entitled RACHEL AND THE STRANGER intrigues my soul because ever-wise and relentlessly-gorgeous and usually-intuitive PLUS  "I-can-land-on-my-own-two-feet-given-any-circumstance" Loretta evidently might need to decide between whether she will stay with her clueless husband played by Mr. Holden, or leave him to fall into the waiting arms of Mr.(empathetic/sympathetic ) Mitchum--a quandary I truly could relish -- immediately!  Ms. Young, who can capably portray a screwball mother of seven or a spinster or an alcoholic or a nun or a farmer's wife (at the drop of a fashionable hat!), also faced this dilemma in THE BISHOP'S WIFE.  Would she stay with goofy, work-obsessed, uptight, ice-cold, priggish Bishop David Niven OR would she live out the rest of her days with adorable, attentive, gentleman-angel Cary Grant?  (The conclusion is rather tragic and incredible, and dare I say disappointing and anti-climactic, for romantics like myself!  David wins?  Ugh?)

 

I close now, kindred soul Mitchum remaining in my thoughts, knowing full well that I wished to run away with (double preposition--forgive me?) him just the other evening at midnight...only the two of us on horseback (Mitchum owned as many as 32 horses at one time!) into the sunset...if I simply could have willed myself onto the screen and outta this nutty chaos called real life.  If RACHEL AND THE STRANGER is/are available on DVD...or tape..., nobody shall see me again because ...well, you can call me -- (but "don't ever call me Shirley!") -- RACHEL...who escapes into another stratosphere, somewhere in some other space and time, with a stranger named Robert Mitchum!  Welcome to the cheeriest and happiest-ever-after TWILIGHT ZONE episode to be telecast for the pleasure of any viewing audience anywhere at any time since the creation of the universe itself...by Rod/God Serling, no doubt about it!

 

"You are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. Your next stop, the Twilight Zone!"  ~ Opening voice-over by Rod Himself!

 

"Film is one of the three universal languages, the other two: mathematics and music."  ~ Director Frank Capra

 

"Every writer is a frustrated actor who recites his lines in the hidden auditorium of his skull." ~ Rod Serling

 

"There is nothing in the dark that isn't there when the lights are on." ~ Rod Serling

 

"Imagination... its limits are only those of the mind itself." ~ Rod Serling

"Opportunity is often missed because we are broadcasting when we should be tuned in!"  ~ Loretta Young (in a designer dress) prior to closing her half hour of Loretta Young Presents with an invitation: "See you next week?" (broad smile)

 ___________________

Read about movies and nostalgia, animal issues and sociopolitical concerns all discussed in Susie's book Secrets of an Old Typewriter and its follow-up Misunderstood Gargoyles and Overrated Angels - print and ebook versions of both are available on Amazon (click the title). The books are also carried by these fine retailers: Ann Arbor's Bookbound and Common Language; Columbia City's Whitley County Historical Museum; and Fort Wayne's The Bookmark. And you can download from iTunes. Read her blog here, and meet other like-minded souls at her facebook fan page. Visit her author website at www.susieduncansexton.com.  Join a great group of animal advocates Squawk Back: Helping animals when others can't ... Or Won't. Roy's blog ReelRoyReviews can be found here.

 

 

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