Brooklyn—Showcases Fifities America, Land of Possiblilites

Brooklyn is a 1950’s period piece with beautiful settings in Brooklyn and Ireland. Based on a 2009 novel, by Irish author Colm Toibin, the plot focuses on a young Irish girl, Eilis Lacey’s (Saoirse Ronan) journey from Ireland to Brooklyn, New York. Eilis chooses to immigrate under the sponsorship of the Catholic Church because she has no opportunities in Ireland. In Ireland, her older sister, Rose (Fiona Glascott), has a good job as a bookkeeper and encourages Eilis to go.  Rose willingly stays behind with their widowed mother.

Brooklyn dody
Saoirse Ronan as Eilis Lacey in Brooklyn

 

 

The fundamental theme of the movie is the conflicting emotional pull of home versus the rational understanding that new beginnings in a foreign country present the possibility but not the guarantee of a better future. Eilis begins life in America living in a boarding house  and working as a sales clerk in a large department store. Shop girlHer homesickness is assuaged when she meets an Italian American plumber, Anthony “Tony” Fiorello (Emory Cohen).

Eilis and tony
Eilis and Tony

The plot twist in Brooklyn is that once Eilis has begun to establish a new life in America, she is presented with the opportunity to build a life rich with possibilities in Ireland.  The question for Eilis is which will she choose: America (representing risk and the unknown) or Ireland (representing tradition and long-term emotional connections)?

 

the choice

Brooklyn is drenched in fifties culture and provides an exquisite view of the possibilities or lack-their-of for unmarried, young women in both Ireland and America. Marriage to a man with a future is  the safest road to a secure future but education that provides a skill is another pathway. Brooklyn captures the transformation of one young woman through a transition of clothes and hair styles from an insecure newcomer to a self-assured young woman who has chosen her own future.

dody
Saoirse Ronan as Eilis Lacey in Brooklyn

 

The brightness of Eilis’s future shines through in a movie leaving this viewer feeling better about the world.

 

Brooklyn polished

A transformed Eilis returning to Ireland

 

 

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Two Dogs before Christmas!

Two days before Christmas, upstairs in the house

The teenager was sleeping just like a mouse.

At precisely 9 am, the mistress to exercise went

Leaving two dogs in the house to follow their scent.Two Shelties

 

Dash-away, dash-away, dash-away all

With the mistress gone, we’re hav’in a ball!

 

Left to their wandering noses, the dogs went wild,

Like leaving an unwatched 5 year old child!

They ran through the main floor without making a clatter,Teenage Girl sleeping

The teenager slept on not knowing anything was the matter.

 

Dash-away, dash-away, dash-away all

With the mistress gone, we’re hav’in a ball!

 

They nosed opened a vanity drawer, throwing tissue and plastic around,

Then into the master bath they went with a bound.

They yanked the toilet paper off of the spindle

They tossed the washrags on the floor in a bundle.

 

Dash-away, dash-away, dash-away all

With the mistress gone, we’re hav’in a ball!

 

Next to the master closet they did scout

The master’s dirty underwear they then routed out.

They tugged and pulled all manner of man clothes

Who knows what tantalizing smells came to their noses.

 

Dash-away, dash-away, dash-away all

With the mistress gone, we’re hav’in a ball!

 

An hour later the garage door arose,Christmas House

The mistress found the mischievous canines in calm repose,

And the teenager remained snuggled asleep in her bed,

As visions of sexy dudes danced in her head.

 

The mistress was heard to exclaim as she saw the dogs’ mess,

“Merry Christmas my scoundrels, with you two I am blessed!”

Christmas Tree

 

Spotlight–Go See it!

Spotlight has been consistently ranked one of the top movies of 2015.  Rated R, this true story focuses on the work of the Boston Globe reporting team, called Spotlight.  In January 2002, the team broke the story of the Catholic priests molesting children and the Catholic Church systematically covering up this molestation.   The scope of the scandal, worldwide and to the highest levels of the church, led Pope Francis to apologize to victims when visiting America in fall 2015.

Since most viewers know the outcome, what makes this movie so engaging? The movie focuses not on the priests, the church, or the victims though all are back stories.  The spotlight of the movie is the gritty, hard working Boston Globe reporting team. The movie title Spotlight is actually a double entendre, gleaned from the name of the reporting team, the movie in turn focuses the spotlight on the work of afore-named team, on the cover-up within the Catholic Church and ultimately on the treacherous tentacles that draw seemingly normal, good people into administrative evil.

In the movie, the team is composed of top actors (Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffal, Rachel McAdam and Brian d’Arcy).  The Globe’s team in 2001/2002 was composed of some of the top news paper reporters in the country.  The Spotlight team’s performance and work ethic meets the standards of a Harvard Business Review article. Everyone understands the goal and their role in getting the story done.  Each member of the team gives their all to create a cohesive, documented story under a tight deadline.  The entire team is emotionally impacted by the tawdriness of Catholic Church’s failure to protect children and the egregious long-term impact of molestation on victims.

Cast of Spotlight
Cast of Spotlight: Michael Kenton, Live Schreiber, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdam, John Slattery and Brian d”Arcy

 

But the real hook isn’t the high quality acting. The compelling question for the viewer is how did this go on for so long?   As the movie unfolds, a culture of complicity unfolds before us.  The Catholic Church is one of the most powerful entities in Boston. More than 50 percent of the Globe’s readership were Catholic. The reporting team along with many Bostonians grew up in the Catholic faith and went to Catholic schools.  This embedded culture led to children being seduced by priests, parents being shamed by church officials for complaining, and lawyers legally negotiating sealed settlements.  Even when the Globe was first given the story in 1992; the blinders of culture kept a member of the Spotlight team from grasping the pattern and scope of the problem.

The viewer is told at one point that only an “outsider “could really see the problem.  The outsider in this case was the new Globe Editor in Chief, Marty Baron, from the Miami Herald (Liev Schreiber).  Jewish and from out of state, Baron found a column about a priest molesting a number of children noteworthy while his Boston staff did not.

In final analysis, Spotlight isn’t only a story about molestation in the Catholic Church.  Rather, it is a stirring analysis of administrative evil.  Guy Adams in his book, Unmasking Administrative Evil (2014), describes administrative evil as ordinary people engaging in acts of evil unaware they are doing anything wrong.  Some of these individuals even view their evil activity as good. In Spotlight, we see several people who argue their cover-up is for the good of the church.  These individuals equate what is good for the church as equaling what is good for Boston and the Globe.

The movie ends with a haunting, long list of all the locations around the world where cover-up of priest molestation has been documented. The lingering question for each audience member is, “Where might I be tacitly contributing to administrative  evil just by looking the other way?” Is it global warming, failure to speak up for refugees or laughing when politicians endorse building elaborate walls. Possibly even more subtle, equally complicit, do I silently watch unkindness, lack of compassion or ethical violations by my boss, coworkers,  my neighbors or my church?  What tentacles of administrative evil  are creeping into my life? Where do I need to go under a spotlight?

A Cat’s Christmas Tale

The Christmas season begins at 220 N Ashtree Way when the big, dusty plastic boxes are dragged inside from the garage by the MAN. I do not recognize his presence in the family. He has been known to chase Angel, the other cat and me with a shooing sound out of his closet.

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The author, Satchel and a Christmas Cat

This annoys me because I like to roll around on his big soft sweaters, leaving hair everywhere. He even squirts us with water when we jump on the kitchen counters. How’s a cat suppose to get a drop of fresh water if not from the sink?

 

All his heavy lifting is done after my mistress has cajoled him over dinner.  I flick my tail in anticipation. I love Christmas! The teenage human and her friend are in charge of tree decorating. This leads to many amusements for Angel, my subordinate and I.

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Finished tree

First, the tree with its bright green bristles has to be assembled. The portable boom box is turned up very loud, blasting out current hit music. The girls sing and dance while assembling the tree. Private Shani, the sheltie, runs in circles barking. Shani is a silly harmless creature whom I generally ignore. While the girls are gyrating, Angel, my assistant and I jump in and out of the tree box and then scamper over the tree skirt.  We jointly roll it in a ball.  The girls are incensed because they are holding the tree and have to put the tree down to straighten the skirt before putting on the lights. This leads to high pitched shrieking, “Get the cats out of here!”  I am so-o proud.  I stare at them dispassionately as if I don’t know the trouble I have caused.

 

After the lights, come the balls, this is my favorite part of tree decorating. The girls are told by the mistress to only put unbreakable balls near the bottom of the tree because of the CATS (That’s Angel and me).  We are capable of batting the ornaments off the lower limbs throughout the Christmas season. I take great pride in planning a stealthy attack on the tree most nights.  The most precious ornaments, the glass birds with feathers are at the top of the tree.

20151215_173540
Glorious glass birds-Oh for just one bite!

This causes me great angst.  I spend hours patiently waiting at the bottom of the tree for one of these beauties to miraculously fall into my mouth.  I did manage to break one of the six collectible eggs from Prague this year.  My pride overflows at this feat!  Like an Agatha Christie play, now there are only five.  I have nine lives so I’m sure to finish them off before I go to the great beyond.

20151215_173652
Hand painted egg from Prague. Poof-Gone!

 

We are ten days out from Christmas. Angel has taken to chewing on the poinsettia flowers, scattered around the house. This shows you her tiny brain, poinsettias are poisonous.  I, of course, am above nibbling on stupid plants. I have much bigger fish to fry. I have managed to knock the peasants littering my stairway perch down three times, a major accomplishment.  This act causes a lot of frenetic human activity as the silly stuffed toys are replaced. As if they were adding to my home—which any cat knows they are not.

20151215_173805 (2)
Angel eats these. Silly Cat!

 

20151215_174211 (2)
Useless peons on stairs. These things have got to go!

Yesterday, I discovered the hiding place for the catnip toys that go in my stocking. I knocked over the basket holding my gifts and tore off the tissue paper.   I had just about torn into my surprise when my mistress chased me out of the Christmas room. She almost slammed the door on my tail!

 

Today, my college boy emailed a cartoon of me to my mistress (see link below) I didn’t realize others found me as attractive as my family does.  My favorite ploy is to ask to go out and then sit at the open door staring at nothing.  The MAN has taken to counting to 3 and shutting the door.  The mistress pulls me out by my collar. The teenager ignores me the same way I ignore her.

http://www.businesscat.happyjar.com/comic/elevator/

I am having a very merry, naughty Christmas. I wish the same to all you cyber cats out there.

 

Talking Barbies Terrorize Household

In 2004, the Princess Barbie Movies came out with the Princess and the Pauper.

with cat
Brunette Pauper

 

With cat2
Blonde Princess Barbie

The movie was a direct to video edition starring the one and only Barbie as both a blonde princess and a brunette pauper. My daughter, Kayla, 5 at the time,  was very taken with the movie and watched it repeatedly.  Naturally, for Christmas, she wanted the Princess and the Pauper Barbie dolls.  Santa obliged bringing not one but two Barbies into the house.

Barbie has been around since 1959.  In fact, I actually owned one of the first Barbies with stripped swim suit, sun glasses, dark hair, and white plastic high heels. My Barbie had scandalous bright red toe nails.

1959 Barbies
1959 original Barbie

Unfortunately, my Barbie, who would now be worth almost $30,000  disappeared in a move.  I did have her with me when I married in 1989.  Thus 56 year old Barbie won’t be funding Kayla’s college education in the next couple of years.

 

While the basic Barbie shape and size has remained, Barbie keeps evolving to appeal to a new generation of young girls. She has become less angular, her make-up particularly the black liner and red pouty lips are less stark, and her hair is softer.  She has become somewhat ethnically diverse.  Possibly the biggest transformation is she has learned to talk.  Barbie started talking in 1968 with a string on a back of her neck.  She spouted titillating phrases such as “Would you like to go shopping?” or “I love being a fashion model.”  The ability to talk has evolved since this bare bone effort until this Christmas; you can purchase for your child a Hello “hackable” Barbie (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2015/12/04/hello-hackable-barbie/).  Hello Barbie has an internet connection to “listen” to children and uses artificial intelligence to respond.

Hackable Barbie
2015 Hello Barbie with internet connection

 

The 2004 Princess and the Pauper Barbies had advanced from talking to singing.  They regularly sang around our house the main theme song of the movie, “I’m a Girl Like You!”  The most memorable phrase for me is “I’m just like you (Princess);  Your just like me (Pauper)”. As with any toy that makes noise, the repetitive singing of the two Barbies was slightly annoying to my husband and me, but Kayla got such delight over crooning along with the dolls we ignored the noise.

Barbie dolls
Singing dolls 2004

 

That is until we were awakened in the middle of the February night by a terrible caterwauling in the laundry room.  The laundry room is all the way cross the house from the master bedroom, through a hallway, across the great room and through the kitchen.  For my husband and I to both sit upright in bed and go, “What is that?” at the same time, gives you some idea of the noise level coming from the other side of the house. We could tell it was an electronic malfunction by the quality of the sound.  At first, Pete thought it was fire alarm. You know the unbearable shrill screeching of declining batteries.

When we looked in the laundry room, the Princess and the Pauper were singing in garbled voices in the plastic basket at the bottom of the laundry chute.  I threw them in the garbage can in the garage to mitigate their noise.  My husband and I went back to bed.

The next morning Kayla explained, “I was having a pool party and after they went for a swim they wouldn’t shut up!  They scared me  so I wrapped them in towels and threw them down the chute.”

No kidding, they scared Kayla! Their garbled electronic voices in the middle of night terrified my husband and I.  When the Kayla and I went off to school the next morning, we could still hear the two Barbies singing in the trash “I—mmmmm j—ust like—YYYYY ou!   YYY our just like MEEEE!” as we drove away.  I wouldn’t be surprised if their electronic voices are still sometimes heard haunting the Boise City trash dump.