Tuesday, January 27, 2009


...and that has nothing to do with 'tough' or 'tits' or anything else you're thinking. It is an acronym--aren't we all all about acronyms these days--for Training To End Stroke. Catchy, no?
Other major fundraising groups sponsor marathons; the American Stroke Association trains you to run/walk one.

So how is it that this particular group landed such a die-hard marathoner as moi? Well, you know that ruptured cerebral aneurysm I had six years ago? That was, medically speaking, a stroke. I didn't accept it at the time. When someone somewhere in the bowels of Cedars Sinai Hospital who was doing yet another something to me, dared to call me a stroke victim, "Hell no," I shot back. "I've had a Ruptured Cerebral Aneurysm."

"Yeah," said technician answered. "Same thing."

I didn't argue out loud because, well, for one, I had a multitude of tubes and stuff poking in and out of various natural and man-made orifices. But in my mind--which never stopped working, thank you very much--I thought, No way. Strokes are what old people have, and I'm not old.

So why now am I willing to cop to it? For one, it is six years later and I have matured (although I'm still not old!). But also, well, also it just seemed time for me to train for something.

I am, as I've always made clear, a complete doofus when it comes to things physical. I don't swim because going in a pool makes one wet. I don't play sports, because they make one sweat. And I don't do exercise, because it's just so damned tedious.

Ten, twenty years ago, this was funny. Today, it's pathetic. So in a last gasp effort to master my recalcitrant body, I have signed on to Walk A Marathon in May. I shall be collecting pledges (which means I shall be hitting everyone up). I shall be out in the elements between now and then training. And I shall here be monitoring my every effort.

And won't that be a kick in the pants for those who enjoy watching others suffer....

Thursday, January 22, 2009

January 20 plus 365

Let's not let the feeling end...that sense of hope and togetherness, of being able to achieve what we must simply because we are willing to work for it.

Let's try to keep our cynicism at bay. Let's rip up the bumper stickers that say, "He with the most toys wins...." Let's tune out Celebrity Apprentice because Donald Trump's philosophy is so antithetical to the way of life we all are wanting.

Let's get our joy, instead, not from the money in our banks (what money? what banks?) but from our families, our kids, our friends, our pets (who are family and friends!). Let's remember that life is very short and there are no awards given at the end, so if we don't enjoy the ride, that's all there is.

Go look at the story of the DC 24 kids, a group of children from Chicago, who were sent to the inauguation by The McCormick Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to strengthening our free, democratic society by investing in children, communities and country. Read what going meant to these kids; share what going or watching meant to you and yours.

Play it forward. Keep the feeling going. Remember why.....

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Some Thoughts On Inauguration Day

I got up early this morning, very early, and watched much of the ceremony sans contacts, coffee, and toothpaste. Also sans hairbrush, bra, and shoes. Attractive? Yes, but I didn't want to miss a moment. I stood when the crowd stood and cheered when they cheered and, yes, cried when they cried. In the aftermath, I keep hearing how 'you had to be there to truly appreciate it.' Not having been there, I thought I truly appreciated what I had. Perhaps it's an indication that I really am a loner. When I thought of the missed camaraderie of watching this monumental event with my fellow citizens, I mostly appreciated not being annoyed by the vagaries of their responses.

I loved seeing Cheney reduced to being pushing along behind the others in his wheel chair. It seemed so very symbolic to me. In the past, whenever I see him on TV, I want to get me a big blunderbuss and blast through the TV at him. I steeled myself for feeling that today as well when the Evil Doer (the real Evil Doer) came trundling along looking nothing if not pathetic. Is that mean of me? Maybe. But I blame him for almost all the ills of the past eight years, and I hope in some way that he suffers for what he has wrought.

I didn't like the First Lady's outfit today. It's just a taste thing: I'm not real big on lace. And I don't think I cared for the ball gown. I'm not real big on one shoulder dresses. Again, it's just a taste thing.

I can't stop watching the coverage. I can't believe it's actually true, that this man actually became president just barely two years beyond his introduction to the national political scene. I wasn't an early Obama follower, I must admit. For one, I so wanted Hillary to go the distance. But, too, I just didn't believe all the hype surrounding Obama. When people would gush, I'd think "Yeah, yeah...and you thought George W. was such a swell fellow too." The problem was that sixteen years of vicious street fighting between the GOP and the Dems had crushed my belief in the intelligence and sanity of my fellow citizens. They seemed only able to hear who screamed the loudest or the foulest or, even, the first. I didn't see their fervor over Obama as anything different. And because I had been disappointed so often in the past, I suppose I was reluctant to allow myself to fall under his spell. So I didn't pay attention to his speeches and, truthfully, I thought I might vote for McCain. But then Obama got the nomination and Hillary made the speech pointing out the disparity between what her supporters believed and what McCain stood for. I started to listen a little. Then McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate and the Republican convention was nothing if not the same old nasty bullshit as usual. I started to listen to Obama a lot. And now I see that he truly is the only person for the job--and I can't believe my fellow citizens regained their intelligence and sanity sufficient to vote him into office. It isn't that I expect Obama to work any miracles; it's that there's a We, The People back on the job.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Emma Thompson's First Blog Post--Talking About Last Chance Harvey

lastchanceharveyposter"Dear Fellow Females,

I've been asked to offer a blog on my new film, ‘Last Chance Harvey' -- which, as a computer illiterate, I get confused with ‘snog' (British slang for kissing) and ‘shog' (Shakespearian word used by Pistol in Henry V meaning ‘leave') neither of which -- I realise-- is the correct interpretation.

But it is a comment, or view, I think, that you want, and here it is:

I shall turn 50 this year, which is not without its odd emotions and has got me thinking about being, well, old. I don't mean decrepit, I mean not infantile, no longer so attached to things, no longer so concerned about what others think, no longer so anxious to prove myself -- you may know the sort of thing I mean. It was rather a treat, therefore, to play what is-- in a way-- my first modern romantic lead in a film that is more romantic than comic (although it has very funny moments and is underscored with irony and subtle humour throughout) where I was not required to be stunningly attractive or in despair or in need of rescue, but simply an ordinary woman in her forties living a rather stale-looking life as best she can.

Along comes this rather brash American (Dustin) and he blows a great hole in her defenses (don't you think we all build them for various stages in life and then FORGET TO DISMANTLE THEM when the danger is past or the trauma has been lived through?). So what you are watching is a sudden flood of real communication (how rare is that?), the sort of communication that shifts the emotional tectonic plates and provokes seismic movement in the soul.

Again, it's rare to watch this on the screen because you need to be a little thoughtful and not require explosions of the literal kind to keep you interested. I'd guess that's a fair description of us.

If you see the picture, and I hope you will because I love it very much and am moved by it every time I see it, you'll notice I am decidedly unglamorous and at least size 16. I really wanted to look like a "normal" woman, I mean in terms of body size.

Actresses seem to be getting tinier and tinier and I do wonder how we think we can present really powerful women, matriarchs and the like, when we seem to insist upon having such attenuated physiques.

So Kate is solid - probably worries a bit about her muffin-top (mine is more like a desk-top these days if you must know) but can't find the energy to worry enough to go to the gym and can't find the time either.

She's a real sort of person, someone I could relate to entirely and I hope you enjoy her. If you do, tell your friends because the more we can get films like this well distributed the more films we can make about (for want of a better epithet) real women as opposed to (let's face it) pretend ones.

Warmest wishes to you all for 2009...From Emma Thompson, a first time blogger at fifty"

Last Chance Harvey is finally wending it’s way to the secondary, tertiary, and--what's the word for fourth class markets? I got the chance to see it at a screening last week (thank you, Women & Film). I took a friend, and she absolutely loved it. So much that happened to the characters in the film resonated with her, so she could say no ill.

I, on the other hand, am a harder sell. When I had to give a response to the production company, I said, "What's not to love about a film that stars Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman?" And that's true. They are sublime actors who bring their characters, warts and all, to life. But for all that, Last Chance Harvey is a romantic comedy that pretty much follows the formula for the genre. As realistic as Thompson and Hoffman make their characters, the overall effect of the film is, for me, hampered by the predictability of the action. Cabs are always available, plot points are always clearly made and the only suspense I felt when the couple missed their grand meeting with each other was whether the filmmakers had cribbed the plot line from An Affair To Remember. There is, then, a dissonance between the quality of the acting and the quality of the script.

But, as my friend might tell you, that's just the snobby, arrogant film critic in me coming out. The egalitarian feminist in me says: go see it this weekend (remember, that's when the box office numbers have the most weight) and make up your own mind. These days what with the economy as it is and the price of movie tickets (and popcorn...and soda--my God!), my final critique of a film is: was it worth the money? Yes, definitely--and, really, then some. Because formula be damned, this film has Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson, the fifty year old actress, filmmaker, and--oh-- first time blogger.

Cross-posted to MidLifeBloggers