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Hamilton and Other Founding Fathers

So I saw Hamilton last night. And yes, there is a reason it won every Tony it could possibly win. And yes, I’m so glad I spent the money and bought a ticket.

Because it’s L.A. and just getting anywhere is always a challenge I left the house at four o’clock to drive to the Universal City Metro Station to catch the Red Line to Hollywood and Vine. I bought a tap card, loaded on some credit and headed to the trains. The station at Universal is very modern and a bit SciFi in its look, but it was nothing as compared with the Hollywood & Vine station. As you can see from the photo this is a visual love letter to the movies.

Metro Station

The station exit is literally across the street from the Pantage’s Theater. A bit of personal trivia. My dad and Rodney Pantages were business partners so when I was a little girl I used to go and watch movies for free at the Pantage’s back when it was still a movie theater. Back then it was dingy and a bit run down. Not like today when it has been lovingly restored to its former Art Deco magnificence.

I had arrived very early so I went off to have dinner at the Running Goose restaurant. The meal was lovely. The restaurant is in a tiny building that is mostly open to the air with an herb garden out back. I had their tostada appetizers and make the mistake of having two — one with corn, the other with carrot. There were great, but it meant I couldn’t finish my main course of short ribs and pumpkin dumplings in a rich red sauce. And of course since I hadn’t driven it meant I had no place to stash the leftovers so I had to abandon them.

I walked back to the theater and waited for the doors to open at 7:30. My seat was in the orchestra but back enough that I had a perfect view of the stage. Any closer and the sight line wouldn’t have been as good.

I met two lovely ladies who are readers and aficionados of old Hollywood so we chatted about books and television and show at the Pantages. In between I studied the stage. It’s a single set, movable stairs and old bricks with a hint of dormers and windows. Each scene is set by the chorus and dancers moving chairs, stools and tables in and out. Very minimal and very effective because you don’t want anything that takes your attention off the performers.

Then it was time and the show began. First, this is not a traditional musical. It reminds me far more of opera in that virtually everything is either sung or rapped. I think there were maybe four words that were actually spoken. The audience also didn’t behave like a typical audience. There were loud, enthusiastic reactions to the arrival on stage of certain characters and to certain lines. One in particular got a big cheer when Hamilton and Lafayette shake hands and say “Immigrants we get the job done!” The cheers shook the roof and it was great.

The show covers decades in two hours and it’s an amazing tour de force. Most of us who write for the screen wish there was a way to cover that much time in a movie, but it often falls flat. Films tend to be immediate covering only a few days or weeks, sometimes only a few hours and they can lose their narrative drive when they try to cover too much time. Hamilton does it brilliantly.

The young men performing Burr and Washington were phenomenal. I had a bit of trouble understanding the young man singing Hamilton in the first act as his diction wasn’t as crisp as the other two. It got much better in the second act. I also think the second act is stronger than the first act. But perhaps that’s because of my background in Constitutional Law so I found all of the exchanges fascinating. There must have been a staggering amount of research done by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

There is a nice bit of comedic respite provided by King George, and I loved the way the costumes helped sell the passage of time. We went seamlessly from 18th century panniers to empire style dresses. (Yes, that word choice was deliberate.) I learned something too — about the fate of Hamilton’s son and the accomplishments of Hamilton’s wife Eliza after her husband’s death.

This is an important piece of art. It’s an important celebration of the men and women who created a new nation out of dreams and hard headed analysis of how to craft those dreams into reality. The use of a racially diverse cast highlighted for me the irony (and horror) of a country conceived in liberty that held a million people in bondage at the time of its founding.

I’m going to buy the soundtrack so I can really listen to the dialogue which is far more consequential then the usual musical comedy fare of croon, june, moon. Not that I don’t love those other style of musical. I’m a huge Broadway fan, but like I said, Hamilton is important.

If you get a chance — See it.

Don’t Become What We Oppose

I know this is probably going to earn me blowback, but I’m becoming increasingly concerned over the behavior of the Antifa protestors. Home grown Nazis and white supremacists are praying that some Antifa member kills someone. For god’s sake don’t give them that cover or the satisfaction.
 
I understand that Antifa members placed themselves between vulnerable members of the clergy in Charlottesville and rampaging Nazis and supremacists, and acting as a blockade is fine, but attacking and beating these goons gives fuel to the argument that there is no difference between the fascists and the anti-fascists.
 
MLK set the standard for how Americans can protest, march, resist. Let’s honor him and the brave civil rights activists who marched at his side and not descend to the level of those we oppose.

Stockholm

I would like to have had more then a day in Tallinn, but it does rank right up there of cities to which I would like to return.  But Stockholm — I adored this city.  Everywhere I looked there were beautiful views.  I snapped this as I walked along the river on my way to dinner on my first night.

As I walked past the imposing town hall (A copy of a Renaissance Italian palace) I read that this was the site of the Nobel prize ceremony.  And immediately I began to see scenes for the next Edge book.  I already had a fight sequence planned for Tallinn so now I had another piece of the puzzle for this next and final book.  The weather was lovely and the wind off the water carried a delightful chill.  Lining the edges of the river were all manner of boats.  Some of them were mere shells that didn’t look like they had left their mooring for decades.  Since I’m a desert rat and know nothing about boats and water I asked Stephen a few days later who explained that the mooring was probably very valuable so you hung onto it even if you only had a dingy.

I had flown to Stockholm and spent my first day walking to a laundry to wash clothes.  Even well out of the tourist areas there was a charm to the city that I found irresistible.  The next day my friends arrived via ferry and we set out to go exploring.  Our primary focus was the Vasa museum (Yes, we decided to give the Abba museum a miss.)  I love ships.  Over a decade of playing Privateers and Gentleman with Walter Jon as our game master has given me a broad appreciation so I was eager to see this salvaged ship.  Here’s the amazing thing — over 95 percent of the ship is original.  The lack of shipworms in the waters off the coast of Sweden and the cold water helped protect the ship until it could be raised in 1961.  Apart from a bit of red on the tongue of a lion the colorful paint is gone, but the beautiful sculptures remain.  Here is a shot I took of the stern castle.

The Vasa sank on her maiden voyage.  And it wasn’t like she was heading off to war or a voyage of exploration.  The ship was being moved to a different shipyard to try and address the fact she was horribly unstable.  Why was she unstable?  Because they built her exactly to the king’s specifications, and the king knew squat about shipbuilding.  He just wanted something Huuuge and impressive (remind you of anybody today?)  The master builder knew the ship was too high and too narrow, but nobody argues with the king so they built it as indicated.  I wondered why they didn’t just fudge the numbers and tell the king they had done as he asked — I figured he wouldn’t know the difference — but I suppose people of that era, 1628, actually did accept all that divine right of kings business.  So a gust of wind dame through the hills, hit the Vasa and she heeled over.  The open gun ports were below the water line, water poured in and the ship sank.  Here is a model of the ship in her glory.

I grabbed another picture of the elaborate tower structures to either side of the stern and the captain’s cabin.  I’d never seen anything like that on the British ships of the 18th century that I’ve toured.  I admit the character I played in P&G had a yearning for a ship that magnificent but with a broader keel.

We spent hours in the museum, but were very glad we had gone early since the crowds at noon were overwhelming.  We headed out and caught a tram back to the city.  We passed this lovely park with these beautiful gates.

The next day we went exploring the royal palace, the armory, and the old city.  It wasn’t quite as spectacular as Tallinn, but it was pretty amazing, and once you got off the main tourist street it was clear that people actually lived in the lovely old buildings.  It was in one of the little squares that would open up unexpectedly that I found this statue of St. George and the Dragon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I loved the armory.  There was a cavalry officers uniform that I desperately wanted, and horse accoutrements that I believe would meet Vento’s approval.  The two jeweled items are aigrettes for a horse’s forehead and this was a saddle pad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They also kept losing a lot of kings in battle.  In one case they preserved the king’s beloved horse Streiff – which was ridden by Gustav II Adolf when he was killed at the Battle of Lützen in 1632.  Yes, that is the actual horse.  This seems to be a thing in Scandinavia.  There was another stuffed horse in the royal stables in Copenhagen.

 

It was also in Stockholm that I had the best meal of my trip.  A friend made a reservation at a traditional Swedish restaurant and I had this tender and flavorful beef dish with onion and horseradish, and, of course, potatoes.  One of the other guests gave me a taste of her blood pudding with lingonberries and it was delicious.

There is a tradition of charming little horse figurines in Sweden and I picked up a couple.  One is Vento and the other my late lamented Steppi.  I also grabbed a lovely Nordic sweater that I will only be able to wear in New Mexico since there is no winter in California.

 

I’m out of time — I need to head to the barn soon.  So next time — on to Copenhagen.

Scandinavian Journeys

I decided to write a blog post rather than the more ephemeral Facebook post.  I’ll go back and grab Helsinki, but right now I want to talk about Stockholm and my first day in Copenhagen.  So far Stockholm still has my heart over both Helsinki and Copenhagen.

Copenhagen is a lovely city, but despite the colorful older buildings lining the broad boulevards it has a very modern feel.  Stockholm’s Old City and the walk along the river past City Hall was more charming.  Not as old as Taillin, but people were living there so it didn’t have the feel of a Disney set despite the main street filled with shops and restaurants and tourists.

 

Once you got off onto the side streets you discovered charming little squares with sculptures such as this St. George & the Dragon. 

On our final full day in Stockholm we returned to the royal palace to tour the armory.  We had seen the crown jewels and the apartments the day before, but the armory was the most interesting for me.  A lot of horse tack and clothing as well as weapons.  I want this cavalry outfit.  I also want these aigrette’s for Vento.  The got on the forehead and the tail, and I think my vain boy would approve.  .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Swedes seemed to lose a lot of kings in combat (as well as one to assassination Gustave III at a masked ball which  became the basis for a Verdi opera Un Ballo in Maschera.  (I sang the page boy Oscar in that one.)  Anyway you get to see Gustav’s blood stained waistcoat and the pistols used by the assassin.  There is also King Gustav II Adolph’s horse he was riding at the time of his death in 1682.  No, not a model of his horse — the actual horse named Streiff.  There was also an elaborate bridle, but check out the vicious curb bit with its incredibly long shank.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was also a beautiful 18th century coat with breathtaking embroidery, but it was impossible to capture the sheen and the workmanship through the glass.  There were a couple of 18th century ladies dresses with absolutely absurdly wide panniers.  I really loved the armory, and in the coach exhibit there was a beautiful sleigh.  Because of course there would be a sleigh in a northern kingdom like Sweden.

More on visiting the Vasa museum later.

Dunkirk — A Meditation on the Nature of Heroism

I cannot talk about this film without talking about specific scenes.  SO THERE ARE GOING TO BE SPOILERS!  IF YOU CAN’T STAND SPOILERS DON’T READ THIS!  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

 

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I loved this movie.  Of course I am a massive Anglophile.  I’m also a student of World War II.  I wrote a screenplay set during the war that turned into a novel that, sadly, I haven’t been able to sell so this film was catnip for me.  I’m a writer who loves dialog so this was an interesting lesson in how to tell a story with virtually no actual dialog.  My friend Kate Elliot said the film was a tone poem, and I think that is a perfect description.  Nolan allowed the chatter of machine guns, the scream of planes diving and bombs falling and the subsequent explosions as statements.  Most of the characters are not named.  They are presented as humans with whom we can all identify who find themselves in a terrifying place.

About halfway through the film I realized this is a movie about heroism, but real heroism not the fake, plastic version that we’re offered in most summer movie fare.  I love the big Marvel movies (and at least one DC movie), but they present a world in which people with near god-like abilities react to stress and fear and danger with a quip or a growl.  Where a fall from a ten story building is shaken off as the fight continues.  It’s fun, it glossy but it’s not real.  Dunkirk was real because the moments of heroism and basic human decency were so small and yet so significant and powerful.

And nobody starts out brave.  We often see them doing the small and craven thing first.  The young soldier who takes the uniform off a dead man.  Who joins with another soldier to carry a man on a stretcher in an crass attempt to get aboard a medical vessel carrying the wounded of the beach.  Eventually we discover he’s a French soldier who has gone AWOL and is trying to escape with the retreating British.  There is a young Brit who join up with a group who try and take a beached freighter.  His attitude is to hell with everybody else.  I’m getting out of here.  Then when a debate begins about who to force off the ship so it will float on the incoming tide he defends the French soldier when all the other frightened men are trying to throw him off the boat.

It’s the old man (the amazing Mark Rylance)  and his son taking his pleasure boat across the channel because our boys are trapped there.  It’s the young friend who goes along not for any patriotic reason but because his chum is going.  It’s the spitfire pilot who knows he has to take out this German bomber before it can sink another ship.  He’s running out of fuel, but with no drama, no bombastic speech he just taps the fuel gage, sighs and gets on with the business at hand.  He is able to bring his plane down safely on the beach in France knowing he will fall into the hands of the Germans and will be a prisoner for the duration of the war.

There is the frightened soldier who none-the-less stays as a ship is sinking after being struck by a torpedo to open a hatch so some of the men and the nurses below decks can escape.  That was a particularly haunting scene for me.  The battered, frightened young men were in the hold being give bread smeared with jam and tea.  Like little boys in the nursery.  Thinking they were safe and then… disaster.

That same soldier who helps free the trapped men ends up alone on the keel of the capsized ship and is rescued by our elderly man and his son.  The soldier is deeply shell shocked and he tries to force them to turn the boat back, return to Britain.  In the struggle he ends up pushing the young friend down the stairs into the hold where he is badly injured.  Rylance’s character has a choice to make; return to try and save the boy or keep on heading for France.  He makes the hard choice.  As they sail closer and closer to Dunkirk they rescue a pilot who has ditched, numerous men in the water.  Eventually the young friend dies from his head injury.  And when the soldier who pushed him asks how the boy is doing we see Rylance’s son hesitate, then say his friend was fine.  Rylance gives his son the tiniest nods of approval.  Because that was an act of heroism too.  Not to lash out and lay this guilt on an already emotionally devastated man.

The scene where the son lies was a powerful moment for me, but the real gut punch for me was when the son remembers a conversation with his dying friend.  About how the friend had always hoped to get his name in the local paper so the son goes to the paper and has his friend’s picture and an article naming him a hero placed in the paper.

Back in France the unnamed British admiral chooses not to leave on the final boat, but stay “for the French” as he puts it.  Another act of understated quiet heroism.

Much has been made about the way Nolan played with time in the editing of this film and it was great and innovative, but for me the power of this film was in its celebration of the human spirit in small acts of kindness and bravery.

At Last – Wild Cards to Broadway

In case anyone missed it.  Big news on the Wild Cards front.

Wild Cards to Broadway

Some Wild Cards Goodness

We have a Wild Cards Website, and every so often various writers who play in our shared sandbox write blog posts.  Stephen Leigh who has been with us since the beginning of the series has done a blog post about one of our most iconic villain — Senator Gregg Hartmann.  It certainly feels relevant at this particular moment.  You can read it here:

Pulling Strings; the Saga of Gregg Hartmann aka Puppetman

Guarding the Ephemeral

A Man for All Seasons – Act One

Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!
More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.

Written by Robert Bolt (1924-1995)

This is the major reason I fear a Donald Trump presidency.  Not the outrageous tax cuts or the trade war he has threatened either of which will crash the economy.  Not the ridiculous spats he will launch against world leaders.  Not even his control of the nuclear codes because I have to believe that the people around him are smart enough not to want to die in a nuclear conflagration.

I fear him because he has displayed a fundamental disrespect and lack of understanding of the Constitution of the United States, and about the role of the judiciary in our country.  Without faith in the rulings of our courts and the primacy of the Supreme Court everyone’s personal safety is at stake.  If a president says he can flout the rulings of a court then political opponents can be thrown in jail (we’ve seen this attitude on display at Trump rallies).  Unpopular minorities can be harassed, arrested, deported without regard to our laws or our founding documents — a stated goal of Mr. Trump’s and one that has been vigorously applauded by his supporters.  Voting rights can be eroded and ultimately removed.  Remember it has been the courts that over the past few months have reversed blatant attempts by politically motivated legislatures to deny the franchise to vulnerable segments of society.

There is a crises of faith in all of our core institutions, but I think this constant assault on the judiciary is the most alarming.  It can be seen in a Cliven Bundy who refuses a court order to pay the required grazing fees.  In a Senate who will not seat a ninth justice to the highest court in the land in direct contravention of the Constitution that they swore to uphold.  A supreme court justice in Alabama who refused to accept the ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States as regards the right of LGBT people to wed.  A county clerk (a government position) who refuses to issue marriage licenses and placed her religion over the law of the land and the rights of minorities.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

We can achieve none of these things unless we all agree to honor certain core institutions.  This is not to say they can’t be improved, the rights expanded, the meaning of “we the people” broadened, but we all have to agree not to burn down the edifice that has been built for us with the sacrifice of those who came before us.

I fear that Donald Trump believes he can fly above the flames and use them to propel him to what he wants, and that many of his supporters have forgotten in their anger that oft times the arsonist can be immolated along with the building.

 

A Man For All Seasons

An Armed Society is….Terrifying

I can’t believe I’m writing about this again, but as I type three more police officers have been killed today. Three others are in the hospital.  As the shooting was occurring the Baton Rouge police were putting out warnings about men armed with long guns — _In a state with open carry_.  I know this is going to earn me howls and objections, but can we stipulate that in a civil society open carry is crazy? 
At this point police forces around the country are worried if not down right terrified.  If you are wandering down to the Starbucks or Target to do a little shopping and you are packing you are adding to the tensions rising in the country.  You are making the work of the police so much more difficult.  Apparently this tragedy today was the work of a single gunman, but for a long time they thought there were three shooters.  How can the police tell if the armed man they see on the street is just a guy “exercising his second amendment rights” or one of the shooters?  In this climate can we reasonably expect them to wait to find out?
This is not to diminish the problems of overly aggressive policing in minority communities.  Too many people on all sides of this discussion are ending up dead.  We’re the United States of America not downtown  Mogadishu.  I shouldn’t be afraid that if I go out to Starbucks or shopping at Target that some citizen is going to decide to stop a shoplifter by pulling their gun and shooting up a parking lot.  Bystander Firing at Fleeing Shoplifter.  Or a man looking at an air rifle in Walmart ends up killed by the police.  Man with Air Rifle Fatally Shot.  I shouldn’t be afraid of dying in a movie theater because some mentally ill man can buy an arsenal.  And god help me if some bystander decides to whip out their gun and start shooting in a dark theater filled with terrified people in an effort to stop the shooter.  I have no confidence in the NRA’s vaunted “good guy with a gun”.  I’m pretty confident they’d just add to the death toll.  Apparently neither does the police chief of Dallas.  Armed Civilians in Texas ‘increasingly. challenging’.
We have got to have a serious conversation about race, about guns, about how we face the future.  We have a President who has asked for careful and judicious words, to bring down the rhetoric.  In response we have the presumptive Republican nominee who has used racial anxiety to win the nomination Tweeting — “Our country is a divided crime scene, and it will only get worse!”
I am a liberal and a gun owner.  But this is madness.  The rule of law does not mean that we take the law into our own hands.  That we answer grievances with a bullet.  Let’s try words.  They can be very powerful.

When Guns Replace Words

Over on Facebook I’ve been nattering on about horses and the World Science Fiction Convention  because I truly cannot make sense of Dallas.  Or perhaps it’s all painfully obvious and understandable, and I’m trying to avoid facing it.
We have a divided society with economic and social inequality. We have a fraught history as regards race in this country which we have never honestly faced. We have an increasingly militarized police force and minority populations who feel separated and disenfranchised from their country, government, society.   Who feel that their lives don’t matter as they are denied decent housing, education, and protection.
 
And we have guns.
 
So many, many guns and people who have come to think that guns are how you solve disagreements. Or get yours. Or make a statement.  Or prove you still have power.
 
We desperately need to learn to put away the guns. Pick up words again. Learn to talk. Learn to listen. Learn to hear.  Learn to look past superficial differences and see the common humanity braided in our very DNA.  

Enchanting New Mexico

I am so glad to be home. No moon, so the sky is like black crystal. The Milky Way looks like a gossamer shawl thrown over Heaven’s shoulders. The longer I look the more stars seem to appear. There are the big, bold ones trying to see who can throw the most light, and then the small, shy ones peeping out from behind them like elf children.  There is a soft breeze carrying the scent of piñon and juniper, and making the trees sigh and dip. My wind chimes are singing to each other.   Together they create an A sharp major chord.

And the quiet.  Oh god, how I’ve missed the quiet.

X-Men Apocalypse

**************************************************************HERE BE SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!*****************************************************************************************

Saturday night I took myself off to the Cinepolis to see the new X-Men film rejoicing in the rather ominous title X-Men: Apocalypse.  I’ve greatly enjoyed X-Men First Class and Days of Future Past.  I’ve been a big James McAvoy fan and Fassbender is perfect as young Magneto so this wasn’t going to be a hardship. However, I was dubious about this new film because it looked like character proliferation which usually leads to a frenetic mess as they try to service all the characters.  I’m also getting really tired of apocalypses.  I’m reaching the point with these superhero movies where I’m like — “Okay, just destroy the world already!”

I came away from the movie feeling like it was two films that had melted together, and I liked one of the films much better than the other.  The small, personal stories were lovely.  Scott’s brother, Alex, getting him to Xavier’s school.  Mystique/Raven being a hero to mutants around the world. Magneto having made a life for himself.  Quicksilver in search of family and father. Charles as gentle mentor and wise teacher.

I liked the dark underbelly where mutants are used and abused in fight clubs.  (We went there in the last Wild Cards novel Lowball, and it makes sense), but I didn’t buy that there was all this mutant hate and distrust after the events in Days of Future Past.  Also the time line between the final scene in Future Past with Wolverine back at the school and everything fine and dandy, and this new timeline where entire cities had been destroyed and millions killed had my head spinning.  How exactly did that happen?

But I get ahead of myself.  So our big villain, Apocalypse, arrives and once again we had a megalomaniac determined to destroy the world because…. why?  Exactly?  And after the destruction of major cities and the deaths of millions we’re going to all end up back at the mansion with the school just humming along…..?

Character motivation was another problem for me.  I didn’t get why the three kids joined up with Apocalypse so willingly?  I could buy it with Magneto.  He had lost everything so Let It Burn seemed like a place he would go, but Storm and Angel and Psylocke ?  Wouldn’t they want to get an eight track, and some tapes and go on a date?  I guess there was some hint they were mind controlled but it felt very forced to me.  Rather like the engineered conflict between Batman and Superman in what had be this year’s absolutely, positively worst superhero movie.  It’s like nerd wet dreams — Wouldn’t it be cool if Batman and Superman fight.  Even cooler if various X-Men fight just ‘cause.

There were points where I thought I was going to end up liking Apocalypse better than Civil War, but ultimately X-Men lost me when it went to a very comic book place in the final scenes.

Putting aside for the moment  the fact that Cairo was completely destroyed and millions of innocent people were killed not to mention other cities with massive destruction, we have Eric murdering six or seven cops because a terrible accident occurred.  The cops had come to confront Magneto because of the events from 10 years before.  He was, in fact, a wanted criminal.  It wasn’t just mutant hate.  Then things go pear shaped his daughter dies, and he kills them.  Next up the whole world destroying thing, and then the school gets rebuilt and Charles wistfully suggests that he wishes Eric would stay.  We once again have the “farewell, old friend” moment.  Your old friend just murdered a gaggle of cops and then wiped Cairo off the map!

I’m all for redemption and salvation, but there are some crimes that are beyond forgiveness.  Magneto’s actions fall into that category for me.  But again, no consequences, no revulsion from Charles or Quicksilver, or Jean, or the pious (and darling) Nightcrawler. 

I understand these movies are fantasies, but at least nod toward the bigger issues.  And that’s where ultimately Civil War ends up being the better film.  I still felt like the fight between Ironman and the Cap was forced, but at least they were discussing big issues about a world in which there are superpowers.  Ultimately in Apocalypse the blood of innocents cried out from the sand and rubble, and no one answered.

Stasi Anyone?

If only it were a delicious frothy drink.  Or a fun game to be played at picnics.  But it’s not.  The Stasi (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit) was the secret police of East Germany.  The organization that had neighbors spying on neighbors and citizens reporting each other.  It’s a common creation of authoritarian states.  Stalin had the NKVD.  Nazi Germany had the Gestapo.  I wonder what President Trump will call his secret police?

Here are a couple of quotes from the presumptive Republican nominee for president made on Monday June 13th, 2016 —

“If it can be proven that somebody had information about any attack, and did not give this information to authorities, they must serve prison time.” 

“We need to make sure every single person involved in this plan, including anyone who knew something, but didn’t tell us, is brought to justice.  These people need to have consequences, big consequences.” 

An entire class of American citizens has been deemed guilty and worthy of suspicion solely on the basis of their religion.  That is the very definition of unAmerican.  It is contrary to our founding documents, our ideals, our sense of ourselves.

If it doesn’t send a shiver down the spine of any thinking citizen then the grand experiment that was American representative democracy is truly ending.

And The Dreams Die

I’m still trying to process yesterday’s horror. What I can’t understand is the retreat to the political corners and simplistic binary choice — it’s either guns or it’s terrorism.  As the President pointed out this morning in his statement from the Oval Office — it can be both.  It is both.  In fact it’s a three dimensional mess because it’s also blatant homophobia. Yes, this gunman had been self-radicalized. Yes it was ridiculously easy for him to purchase an assault rifle. But he picked Pulse for a reason. Because that nightclub was a place where LGBTQ people found friendship, and community and a place to dance and have fun.  In short safety in a world that still doesn’t accept them as equal citizens, and where major religions still demonize and attack them and some more outrageous voices call for their deaths and deliver those deaths.
 
Why are these people who commit these ghastly acts so afraid?  Why do they hate so much?  At the most basic genetic level we are identical whether we’re black, white, asian, gay, Muslim, Christian, male or female.  Each time this happens — a Planned Parenthood clinic, an elementary school, an African-American church, a movie theater, a Christmas party, a college campus…… (There’s too many to list) my hope that a united humanity will reach the stars dies a little more.
Apparently we are going to choke on our own bile on a world we are systematically poisoning.

Fast Forward

When I was five or six grownups asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I said a jockey.  They laughed at me and told me “girls can’t be jockeys”.

When I was ten grownups asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I said an astronaut.  They laughed and me and said, “girls can’t be astronauts”.

When I was thirteen or fourteen grownups asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I said President of the United States.  They laughed at me and said, “Girls can’t be President.”

Tonight I’m watching history being made.  And perhaps more history will be made in November.  The world has certainly changed since I was a little girl and a teenager.

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